Saturday, December 08, 2007

Toronto's Royal Ontario Museum "Crystal" addition: 4.5-year time-lapse

"This is a just-released time-lapse of Michael Lee-Chin's "Crystal" addition to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). The period covered is from May 2003 to opening night in November 2007 through a series of still images captured daily at 1 p.m. during construction and at 10-minute intervals throughout opening week."

Christmas Countdown: 17 days!

It's an all-Johnny Cash Saturday!

Twelve Days of Christmas - Johnny Cash

Silent Night / The Little Drummer Boy - Johnny Cash (one of my all-time favourite renditions of this beautiful song - Silent Night)

Follow Me - June Carter Cash (not a Christmas song, but it was on their Christmas special and is really nice, so I included it)

Kevjumba: The Mac Is Great for Porn

Guys: Just in case it ever happens to ya...

Friday, December 07, 2007

A sad day for fans of Tomar the Tiger

UPDATE - Dec. 8/07: Click here for a news story from today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Sad news today from Moncton's Magnetic Hill Zoo. The Zoo's mascot, Tomar the Tiger, was put to sleep due to ill health from kidney failure. Tomar was at the Zoo for 19 incredible years. He will be buried there tomorrow. Greater Monctonians said goodbye to Tomar last January when it looked like he was going to pass back then, but he managed to survive the winter and all of this year. According to news reports, his health took a turn for the worst three days ago. He was certainly a big beautiful cat! Rest in peace, Tomar.

Christmas Countdown: 18 days!

The Little Drummer Boy

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas - Gayle Peevey

Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer - Dr. Elmo

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Actor/comedian Dan Aykroyd coming to New Brunswick

The following is a news release issued December 4, 2007, by Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits:

First Two 'Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series' Wines Launch in New Brunswick

Two Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series wines, a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Merlot blend have launched in New Brunswick, announced Murray Marshall, CEO of Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits.

These 100% VQA wines from Niagara are the first to be released as part of the Dan Aykroyd-branded wine portfolio.

Both the Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series Chardonnay and the Cabernet Merlot are priced at $16.99. Both wines are available at ANBL Alcool stores across New Brunswick.

"This is another positive step toward ensuring that the Canadian wine industry receives the recognition that it rightfully deserves," said Dan Aykroyd. "Diamond Estates has produced an incredible line of VQA wines that I will be proud to serve at home or anywhere my travels take me."

In the coming months, more Dan Aykroyd-branded wines are scheduled to hit retail shelves. These will include additional releases of Discovery Series wines ranging in price from $15 to $25.

To promote the launch of his wines in New Brunswick, Dan Aykroyd will host several in-store bottle signings at the following ANBL locations:

- Sunday, December 9, 2007 1 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Prospect Store, 1150 Prospect Street, Fredericton

- Monday, December 10, 2007 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Devon Park Store, 580 Union Street, Fredericton

- Tuesday, December 11 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Parkway Mall, 212 McAllister Drive, Saint John

- Wednesday, December 12 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.: Alcool NB Liquor Dieppe, 513 Regis Street, Dieppe

Additionally, Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits will be releasing a Dan Aykroyd Signature Reserve series that will be produced in limited quantities and will range in price from $50 a bottle upward. No more than 300 cases of any of the Signature Reserve wines will be made and each bottle will be numbered and signed by the winemaker. The first wine under this brand will be a barrel-fermented Niagara Peninsula VQA Vidal Icewine.

"As the sales and marketing agent in New Brunswick for this incredible Canadian wine brand, we are very proud to be able to offer these VQA wines to New Brunswickers" said Wayne Chahley, President, Kriscott Distributors Limited.

Kriscott Distributors Limited, a subsidiary of Toronto-based Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd., has a sales reach that covers all four Atlantic Provinces and a brand portfolio that includes such companies as Sleeman Breweries, Scottish & Newcastle, Dr. McGillicuddy, Finca Las Moras wines from Argentina, Kendall-Jackson California wines, Pieroth German wines and Carpineto wines from Tuscany.

Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits Ltd., who owns and serves as the sales and marketing agency for domestic wines from Lakeview Cellars, EastDell Estates and Birchwood Estate as well as compelling international wine and spirits brands from premium regions around the world. For more information, please visit the company's website at

Christmas Countdown: 19 days!

The Hat I Got for Christmas Is Too Big - Anthony Tone Salloum

Jingle Bells - Looney Tunes

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Brenda Lee

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah began at sundown on December 5. According to Wikipedia, Hanukkah, "also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may fall anytime from late November to late December. It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple at the time of the Maccabee rebellion.

The festival is observed by the kindling of lights on each night of the holiday: one on the first night, two on the second, and so on."

It must be trying for all those Jewish kids out there to be so inundated with Christmas lights, trees, presents, songs, etc. Adam Sandler had a cute little song about that to show Jewish kids that they aren't alone! Here's how he introduced it on Saturday Night Live several years ago:

A few years later he returned to SNL for an updated version...

Finally, here's a cute parody of "My Sharona" by The Knack... aptly titled "My Menorah":

Trying to live up to the holiday's expectations

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

With the Christmas season full upon us, there's a lot of pressure from society to be happy. Everywhere we look, there are sparkling lights, decorations galore, holiday shoppers, TV specials, cheerful and inspirational music on the radio, and generally just an overall mood of good cheer.

But there are some people who don't enjoy Christmas and just can't wait for the blessed thing to be over. I suppose if you're not Christian, you can try to ignore it, although one has to admit that Christmas is pretty much everywhere. And then, of course, there are columnists like me who start writing about Christmas in August . . . so that certainly doesn't help, either.

I can understand the trepidation about Christmas. I mean, really, we might as well just admit that it's impossible to live up to its expectations. I mean, if we were to believe all the hype, the holidays are not just a time to be happy, but a time when an ear-to-ear smile must be surgically implanted on everyone's face.

And God forbid if someone doesn't like this time of the year, because normally sensitive and patient people pretty much turn on you. Heck, I consider myself one level short of sainthood, and you'd even get on my nerves.

(Commercial break while I fawn over myself in the mirror.)

But seriously, I love Christmas as much as anyone, but I find it difficult sometimes to keep up with the imposed sense of joy that seems so mandatory. Necessary happiness almost forces contrary people like me to refute it on purpose . . . just to make a point. "I'm supposed to be happy, eh? Well I'll show you!"

It's kind of like a kid who's told not to touch a hot stove. Well, I was one of those kids who'd plunk my face right down on the burner if someone ever told me that. "You mean I can't touch the burner? Oh . . . I want to touch that burner. It would feel so-o-o-o good. By the way, Mommy, that's the smell of my forehead hitting medium-rare."

I feel a similar way whenever I walk by a railing on a ship or bridge. No, I don't want to kill myself. I mean, geez . . . but sometimes I just want to be contrary and jump because I know I'm not supposed to. Thankfully, I'm petrified of heights, so I stay far away from the edge.

I do know people who aren't into Christmas. Some just can't be bothered. Some of them had bad previous experiences. Some of them associate the holiday season with tragedy or sadness. Kind of difficult getting that image of Aunt Harriet choking on tinsel on Christmas Eve out of one's mind, I guess. Things like that just ruin the holiday.

I don't have too much trouble getting into the holiday season. I really do sincerely look forward to it every year because it's a time to get together with family and friends in a pleasant atmosphere.

Every year, I look forward to getting my Christmas letter and Christmas cards ready. Last year, I put together this behemoth of a newsletter that was, quite frankly, over the top. This holiday season, I'm returning to the much more modest single page, double-sided version of the past. I heard a lot of good feedback from last year's newsletter, but it was too much work and certainly more of a self-imposed burden.

So this year, it's back to the traditional fare of a card and letter. Much less work, including less stress and considerably cheaper, too!

There's lots of snow around early. The stores are jammed with shoppers. People are planning holiday getaways. Credit cards and bank accounts are being taxed to the limits to impress that special person on Christmas morning. Kids in unheated factories in countries we can't pronounce are churning out toys for our brats.

Is it any wonder that some people shut down over the holidays?

Sheesh! Just the stress of trying to be all things to all people is enough to make me want to convert to another religion. Besides, I could do with a change. I mean, how many times can you really hear The Little Drummer Boy before you just want to grab those drumsticks of his and shove them somewhere that would require a few hours of surgery for removal?

Besides, really, who wants some strange kid arriving at your manger unannounced and banging on a drum to wake up a sleeping baby? I'm telling you, it would take all of those Three Wise Men to hold me back from breaking those bloody drumsticks over The Little Drummer Boy's head. "Hey, I hear Frosty needs some new arms. Go see if he could use these!"

In real life, that drummer would have been kicked to the curb and screamed at. I wonder if that was the first instance of holiday rage? Probably.

Despite the fact that many find the holidays to be excruciatingly melancholy -- even painful -- I hope that each and every one of us will be able to dig down deep inside ourselves to find that special something that makes us smile during this time of year . . . whether it's the memory of a loved one who's no longer with us or a special gift that brought a smile to our face.

And if you want to be really radical, think of that baby in the manger. I heard a rumour that he had something to do with all of this, too.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Write Stuff: Writing for Profit Workshop

Join the group of professional freelance writers for an informative half-day workshop that will show you the possibilities and realities of the professional writing world.

Date: Saturday, January 26, 2008

Time: 1-5 p.m.

Place: Moncton Public Library

(Click on the photo for a poster for the event.)

Little Richard is 75 today!

Singer Little Richard turns 75 today. Incredible!

Lost dog in Moncton

Hi everyone. I just wanted to bring a lost dog to your attention. LOST on Saturday, December 1, in the John Street / Victoria Park / Bonaccord Street area off Mountain Road in Moncton... please be on the lookout for Shadow, a six-year-old shih tzu and chihuahua mix dog. She is brown, black and white. Her belly is white and her four paws have white on them. If anyone sees her or knows of her whereabouts, please call Nicole at 872-3963 any time, day or night. Nicole is frantic to find Shadow and misses her terribly. (Click on the photo for a larger version.)

Christmas Countdown: 20 days!

The Chipmunk Song - Alvin and the Chipmunks

What they sound like in "real time":

More chipmunks - Alvin and the Chipmunks

And more...

Today's Hump Day column: Trying to live up to the holiday's expectations

Hi everyone! Don't forget to check out today's Hump Day column on the editorial page (pg. D6) of the Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's piece is all about the pressure we all feel to be happy at this time of the year. Check it out! Pick up your copy of the Moncton Times & Transcript today or check back here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 21 days!

Disney Christmas - I remember watching this every year on The Wonderful World of Disney.

A Charlie Brown Christmas - Linus explains what Christmas is all about

Shrek the Halls - An excerpt from the best new animated Christmas TV special to come along in years! Be sure to catch it as I'm sure it will be repeated during the Christmas season.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 22 days!

Do They Know It's Christmas? - Band Aid

Last Christmas - Wham

When My Heart Finds Christmas - Harry Connick Jr.

(Best modern Christmas song ever!)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

James Barber, "The Urban Peasant," dead at 84

This has not been a good few weeks for TV cooks! First, Martha Kostyra - mother of Martha Stewart - died on November 17. Today, word was received of the death of James Barber, known for his "The Urban Peasant" cooking show that ran on CBC for 10 years. He died at home on Vancouver Island on Thursday, November 29, while making a pot of soup, according to his wife. He was 84. His show showed you that you could relax while cooking. Who cares if you chopped something crooked? It was still nice in its own way. I learned how to properly cook scrambled eggs while watching his show. Rest in peace, Urban Peasant!

This isn't video from the TV show, but a clip promoting his cookbook, Cooking for Two. This must have been after the show ended because his voice is much more gravelly than it was on the show.

Here's another cute video of a cat - Fiona - who's quite mesmerized by James chopping vegetables on his show.

Christmas Countdown: 23 days!

Bugs Bunny's Christmas Carol

Here's the ending to the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol starring Alastair Sim. This is considered the quintessential movie version.

White Christmas by Kate Smith

Martha Stewart's mother, Martha Kostyra, has passed away at the age of 93

I was surprised to hear of the death of Martha Stewart's mother, Martha Kostyra - or "Big Martha" as she was affectionately known. The elder Martha was a popular and frequent guest on her daughter's shows - probably because she's one of the few people who could boss the domestic diva around! I enjoyed her appearances on the show and really liked the interaction between mother and daughter. "Big Martha" died on November 17 a the age of 93. She'd suffered a stroke just previous to that and had not recovered. Here's a video tribute to her from a recent episode of her daughter's show...

Here's the announcement of her death on the show...