Saturday, October 20, 2007

A clever video trailer for Julianne MacLean's latest book

My friend Julianne MacLean, who lives in Halifax, is a talented and successful romance writer. All I know about book publishing (which is très little), I learned from her. She's a real expert when it comes to that! (I know little because I haven't asked more than I already have. I'm sure I'd know more if I was more inquisitive. If I ever write a book, I'm sure I'll ask more questions.)

I recently learned that "book trailers" are now the "in thing" among writers and publishers. Basically, it's a video announcing the impending release of a new book. I guess videos are no longer just for music, eh?

Here's the trailer she's had produced for her next release, In My Wildest Fantasies - due out on November 1, 2007. I thought it was very clever!



And here's the longer director's cut:




You can purchase the book through Julianne's site, through your favourite online seller or any good local bookstore.

Recipe: Dottie's low-carb pumpkin pound cake

This is a great recipe that I tried for the first time last night. It came together in no time and baked really well! If you love pumpkin pie, you'll LOVE this... and it's low-carb!

DOTTIE'S PUMPKIN POUND CAKE

- 1 cup canned pumpkin (choose "pure pumpkin", not "pumpkin" or "pumpkin pie filling)
- 1 cup granulated Splenda or equivalent liquid Splenda (I used granulated Splenda)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla (sugar-free vanilla, preferably)
- 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used a heaping 1/2 tsp to add some extra zing!)- Pinch to 1/8 teaspoon salt (I used a big pinch of kosher salt)
- 5 eggs (I used extra large, but I'm sure large would do. Normally I have "large" around for baking but didn't have any last night.)
- 6 oz. almond flour, about 1 1/2 cups (I weighed out 6 oz. of almond flour - same thing as ground almonds)

Grease an 8" X 4" loaf pan well or line with foil and grease foil. (I buttered a glass 8.5" X 4.5" loaf dish. That's the smallest I had.

In medium bowl, beat pumpkin, Splenda, baking powder, vanilla, spice and salt, if using, with electric mixer until well blended. Beat in eggs, then almonds. Add a little water, if needed, to make a thick, but pourable batter. (I didn't need to add any water and I can't imagine that anyone else would.) Pour into pan and bake at 300º for 60-75 minutes until cake pulls away from sides of pan a bit and toothpick comes out clean. (I cooked mine for 65 minutes and it came out perfect. I could have probably left it in another few minutes, but it looked great at 65! ) This comes out so moist that the extra baking time will be OK.

Let cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and peel off foil (if used). Cool completely on rack before slicing. Store in refrigerator or freeze. Makes 1 loaf or 12 servings. Can be frozen.

With granular Splenda:

Per serving: 130 calories; 9g fat; 6g protein; 7g carbs; 2g dietary fibre; 5g net carbs.

With liquid Splenda:

Per serving: 122 calories; 9g fat; 6g protein; 5g carbs; 2g dietary fibre; 3g net carbs.

I will try this with liquid Splenda next time, but am a bit fearful of making it too moist. The finished produce is bordering on "too moist" right now... actually it's just right!

I will definitely make this again! Very easy to make and extremely tasty! The extra bit of pumpkin pie spice was worth it! (Yes, the above photo is the actual one I made! Click on the photo for a larger version.)

Recipe courtesy of Linda's Low Carb Menus & Recipes.

Several members of rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd killed 30 years ago today in a plane crash

Thirty years ago today, three members of the rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd and others were killed in a plane crash in McComb, Mississippi. Here they are singing their huge hit Sweet Home Alabama in Germany on December 5, 1974:

Tom Petty is 57 today

Singer Tom Petty is 57 today. Here he is singing I Won't Back Down:



Learning to Fly:



Refugee:



Into The Great Wide Open (and yes, that's Johnny Depp in the video!):



The Waiting:

Vandals hit Lewisville area of Moncton

UPDATE: Oct. 23/07: This is covered on page 1 of today's Moncton Times & Transcript! Great! Hopefully someone will see this and call the police with some tips. Lewisville Park, two homes and three vehicles (and a couple of poor pumpkins) were hit by one or more vandals during the night last night. Symbols and words such as "Warriors" were spray painted on various items in the park and on homes. One home had a large penis drawn on it. At least one car owner had to have her windshield replaced because the paint could not be removed.

Hopefully, this was only a one-time thing. I've lived around here for more than six years and have never seen this happen before.

It would be GREAT if the City of Moncton would leave the lights on in the park all night and install a strong light shining directly onto the roofed shelter in the park. That is where most people loiter (if they're going to loiter at all). More lighting - especially on that shelter - would do wonders. And cut down all the bushes around the park that simply give people places to hide.

It's unfortunate that a few jerks ruin a perfectly nice neighbourhood and park. The vast majority (99%) of people using the park are decent and just there to play, walk or sit and talk. Heck, even people (teens, mostly) who hang around the park sometimes at night are just doing that - hanging out... not bothering anyone. They sit, talk, get up and then go on their way. But once in awhile...

If anyone has any leads on these acts of vandalism, please contact the Codiac RCMP at (506) 857-2400.




Friday, October 19, 2007

South African reggae star Lucky Dube murdered in carjacking

"South African reggae star Lucky Dube was shot in an apparent carjacking attempt and died as he tried to drive away and crashed into a car and a tree, police and news reports said Friday.

The 43-year-old international star was shot Thursday night in front of his son, whom he was dropping off in Johannesburg's southern Rosettenville suburb, according to Police Capt. Cheryl Engelbrecht.


"His son was already out of the car. When he saw what was happening. He ran to ask for help," she said.

Police were looking for the perpetrators, Engelbrecht said."

Click here for more.

Here he is live in concert:

Reader's Digest names Moncton as Canada's most polite city!

You're welcome... thank you... Gesundheit and all that stuff! :) Read all about it in their news release:

How Polite Are Canadians? - Moncton, Calgary and Vancouver shine in our cross-Canada Test!

Last year, Reader's Digest conducted the world's biggest real-life test of common courtesy, with surveys conducted in 35 countries. When the results were in, Torontonians ranked proud third. That got our editors wondering - how would the rest of Canada rank in a similar test? Our researchers packed their bags and headed off to 15 of the biggest cities in Canada to answer the question How Polite Are Canadians? The results are in the November issue of Reader's Digest!

As with last year's global test, this was not a scientific survey - more of a snapshot of a day in the life of the city. We sent pairs of undercover reporters (men & women) to assess the behaviour of citizens in our largest cities with three tests:

1 - We walked into public buildings behind people to see if they would hold the door for us.
2 - We bought small items from 10 stores and recorded whether the sales assistants said thank you.
3 - We dropped a folder full of papers in 10 busy locations to see if anyone would help pick them up.

So, did Toronto maintain its top-seated position? Alas, Toronto must have been having a bad day, going from third position from the top in last year's global test, to third from the bottom in Canada! Moncton topped the charts with an impressive score of 80 percent. Calgary and Vancouver tied for second with a score of 77 percent. And Montreal has made great strides from the previous test (where it came in 21st place) to 5th in the country! And the dubious distinction of least polite Canadian city tested, was...Ottawa! When asked why she didn't stop to help our tester pick up his dropped papers, one woman replied, "He could have been a politician, so I thought, 'Screw you!'"


Click here for the entire release.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Actor and comedian Joey Bishop died yesterday

Actor, comedian and former Rat Packer Joey Bishop died yesterday at the age of 89. Here he is starring in a Hai Karate aftershave commercial in the 1960s. (Remember Hai Karate? Ha!). You'll recognize the man on the left as the one and only Regis Philbin.



Here are some other old Hai Karate commercials.



Ella Fitzgerald singing Hey Jude (Jan. 1, 1969)

I literally laughed when I saw this on YouTube. I thought, "OK, Ella Fitzgerald is a legend... but "Hey Jude"? C'mon!"

Well, as you'll see and hear, she sings the hell out of it.

Shame on moi for doubting. And seeing Jimmy Durante is a bonus.

You don't have to hunt down your meat

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Moncton Times & Transcript, pg. D8

It's the fall. The leaves are falling. The weather's getting cooler. Soon, the first flurry will shock us in to really believing that winter is right around the corner. The Halloween treats are out in the stores. The summer stuff is marked down by 75 per cent. The shovels and driveway markers are out and ready for cranky people scraping their driveways and less-cranky people watching plows clean them out after a storm.

Fall is also a time for hunters to be in the woods. Deer season starts shortly.

I come from an avid family of hunters. My father is an avid hunter. My uncles were hunters, too. When we were kids, we would be semi-thrilled and semi-grossed out at the lifeless deer and moose that would make their way to our house on the back of a pick-up truck or draped over the trunk of a car like some sort of sick trophy.

As kids, we'd touch their noses, poke their eyes and pull on their tongues, not fully realizing why they weren't reacting. The animals always smelled bad. After a few days in the woods, my father and his hunting buddies often smelled worse, though at least they were alive. I'm sure the deer and moose would have traded places if they could.

When my father would arrive home, the first thing he'd do was bend down and rub our faces with his week's worth of beard stubble. I'm not sure if he was happy to see us or, in fact, happier that he got his deer or moose, whatever the particular season was. (I'll assume both -- but during hunting season, I think we took second place.)

My one disastrous foray into hunting occurred one Saturday, if I remember correctly. For some reason, I expressed an interest in tagging along, thinking that I could train myself to like it. I'm not sure why I felt the need to like it. Maybe it was because my brother did and I felt the pressure of some unseen sibling rivalry. While I was the one who did well in school, my brother was the one who did well in sports and hunting.

This particular hunting trip was for partridge, a small harmless game bird that is part of the pheasant family. Unfortunately for the partridges, however, some people find the poor little things to be quite delicious -- my parents included.

I'm sure that you've probably figured out by now that my description of the partridge as a "poor little thing" doesn't exactly put me up there in the "el hunter supremo" category. Let's just say that I never got a rifle for Christmas.

To make a long story short, we found a partridge and I took a shot at it. Of course, I missed by a country mile and the bird escaped, much to my relief. My father, however, being a hunter, was not terribly pleased. To my horror, we soon found another partridge who wasn't lucky enough to have me shooting at it. My father was a much better shot and he got his quarry.

I felt awful. Just plain awful. What if the partridge had plans? What if he had friends waiting for him at a party? Would they worry when he didn't arrive on time? What if he had a family waiting at home with a big plate of worms on the table? Ugh! I certainly wasn't made out to be one of these hunting people, and I vowed never to venture out on such a barbaric trip again. And I never did.

I'm not judging hunters. Culling a herd of deer, moose or whatever else people like to shoot can be a good thing, I guess. Too many deer or moose just lead to over-population and increased deaths by starvation and being hit by vehicles. At least by being hunted for their meat, they have completed the circle of life by having been eaten themselves. Better than rotting in a ditch after being shmucked by an 18-wheeler, I guess.

I'm a disciple of the low-carb way of eating. This means that meat is a big part of my diet. I certainly don't lie awake at night worrying about the chicken I ate or the beef that's frying up in my hot non-stick pan. I guess that if I didn't have to see them when they were alive, then I can detach myself from the fact that I'm eating them.

Despite my diet, let's just say that I would not have been a good person to grow up on a farm. I would have chained myself to every cow and chicken set to be slaughtered and begged for its life!

And don't even get me started on lamb. I know it's a good, lean, tender meat -- and I've really wanted to buy some lately -- but I just can't get over the cuteness factor. How can something so cute be so delicious?

I just bought a low-carb cookbook for slow cookers and the first recipe I opened up to was for lamb shanks. I mean, my mouth watered just reading the ingredients, but then, in my mind's eye, I saw two little wide eyes looking at me and seeming to say, "Brian, why do you want to eat me? Was I ba-a-a-d? Did I ba-a-a-ng my drums that I got for my birthday too loudly? Am I too ba-a-a-shful for your taste?"

No, actually. I've had lamb before and it tastes quite lovely, thank you. I just wish I'd never met one in person -- at a petting zoo, no less. Let's face it. Something that attractive and benign doesn't deserve to be the star attraction on my supper plate.

I'm a real hypocrite when it comes to that. I'll eat meat like it was going out of style, but I don't want to have petted or met the animal first. I guess there's no cure for being a selfish carnivore, though. You'd think that if I had the gall to eat Lenny the Lamb, that I could look him in the eye and tell him that I'm sorry. It's the least I could do if I'm forced to meet the meat I'm gonna eat.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ellen Degeneres cries on show over dog taken back by rescue organization

UPDATE - Oct. 18/07: DeGeneres: Dog dilemma has 'gotten out of hand'. This was a completely unnecessary act by the animal rescue organization. Absolutely crazy. A simple inspection of the new home should have been sufficient. Clearly, the dog was cared for and loved. A bit of common sense would have gone a long way here. Ellen Degeneres is definitely known as an animal lover and would never - ever - put an animal in any danger. I can certainly understand her emotion. This was taped on Monday, Oct. 15. Click here for a news story on the issue. Here's the clip in question:



TMZ coverage:



I've never seen Ellen Degeneres this emotional on any show she's ever been on. She's usually cool as a cucumber. It's quite obvious that this little dog meant something to her and to the dog's new family. Sad situation - and unncessary. A human error by a very responsible person shouldn't have caused all this ruckus from a power-freak bunch of radicals.

Good way to check if your heart is beating!

Today's Hump Day column: You don't have to hunt down your meat

Hi everyone! Don't forget to check out today's Hump Day column on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript (pg. D8). Today's piece is about hunting - and how I'm not really into meeting the food I'm going to eat! Pick up a copy of the paper today! It will also be posted here online tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

If Saint John doesn't want that "polytechnic," then maybe Moncton should open its arms!

With all the noise being made by UNBSJ students, faculty and leadership regarding the proposed merger with the community colleges and the breakaway from UNB, I have sat here wondering why on earth they are so against a polytechnic?

After all, isn't MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) a polytechnic? I found this on MIT's Wikipedia entry: "MIT graduates and faculty are noted for their technical acumen (64 Nobel Laureates, 47 National Medal of Science recipients, and 29 MacArthur Fellows), entrepreneurial spirit (a 1997 report claimed that the aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT affiliates would make it the twenty-fourth largest economy in the world)..."

For an institution that is supposed to be graduating open-minded people who use their brains, UNBSJ sure is yelling a lot and NOT listening.

Here's what I say: If Saint John isn't interested in the "lowly" polytechnic, move it to Moncton lock, stock and barrel and let us do something with it! The only thing limiting the success of a polytechnic is the closedmindedness that is rampant across Saint John right at the moment.

Or maybe UNBSJ is afraid of losing all those Nobel Laureates... oh wait... I guess they'd have to find them first.

And what is UNB fighting for? According to today's Telegraph-Journal: "The New Brunswick government is preparing fundamental reforms to the post-secondary education sector at a time when the province's university enrolment is dropping, according to new figures released Monday. The University of New Brunswick suffered the biggest loss, bleeding 664 full-time and part-time undergraduate and graduate students as of Oct. 1, 2007, a fall of 5.6 per cent, compared to the provincial average of a 2.9 per cent loss."

And there's NO problem here????

If I were UNBSJ, I would be drooling over this opportunity to reinvent itself. Clearly, the current model is not working. With that said, I believe a world-leading polytechnic is exactly what an energy hub needs. Specialize in innovative energy solutions and research! Make a name for yourselves!

Otherwise, come to Moncton, baby! We'll do it here if you're not interested.

This week's Hump Day column...

... is all about hunting and how I really don't want to meet the food that will eventually make it on to my dinner plate. Check out Hump Day on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Monday, October 15, 2007

ABC's Wide World of Sports

Spent many a boring Saturday afternoon watching Wide World of Sports as a kid. And who can forget that immortal tagline, "... and the agony of defeat"? Click here to download an audio stream of the classic 1972 version of the theme in RealAudio.

It's official! Laverne's a senior citizen today...

Penny Marhsall, who played Laverne De Fazio on the long-running sitcom Laverne and Shirley from 1976 to 1983, turns 65 today.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How the heck did that cat get in there??

SNL Digital Short: Andy Punches

Andy Samberg's videos are always hilarious. They may not be to everyone's taste, but I usually find them quite entertaining. Here's the one that aired last night:

Bing Crosby died 30 years ago today

Legendary singer and actor Bing Crosby died 30 years ago today after suffering a massive heart attack on a golf course in Spain. He was 74. Although an unmistakably talented singer and actor (he won an Oscar, just in case you're wondering about the "acting" thing), he was considered to be a horrible father. I'll leave that to other people to discuss. For now, here are some video samples of one of the greatest singers of all time:

Singing I'll Capture Your Heart with Fred Astaire:



Singing Now You Have Jazz with Louis Armstrong:



Singing a medley of songs with Dean Martin:



Singing Moonlight Becomes You:



Singing You Don't Have To Know The Language with The Andrews Sisters:



Singing Ave Maria with Risë Stevens and a boys' choir:



Singing Little Drummer Boy with David Bowie:



And an updated version (using technology, of course) with Clay Aiken:



And, of course, White Christmas:

Singer Cliff Richard is 67 today

British singer Cliff Richard is 67 today. Although he's a big star in the U.K., he's a bit lesser known on this side of the Atlantic. Here's his best-known hit in North America, We Don't Talk Anymore:

Coughing up bullets!

This is one lucky (!) kid...