Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 3 days!

All I Want for Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey

Jingle Bell Rock - Hall and Oates

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree - Kim Wilde

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 4 days!

Bob Hope with Paul Lynde:

We Need a Little Christmas - Lucille Ball (from "Mame"):

Christmas in Beverly Hills (1987) - George Burns, Lucille Ball, Jimmy Stewart, Deniece Williams:

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 5 days!

I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm - Frank Sinatra

Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Frank Sinatra

Silver Bells - Marilyn Maxwell and Bob Hope

Trying to make sense of Christmas songs

Hump Day
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Appeared on page D6, Moncton Times & Transcript

Can you imagine if all of the Christmas imagery around at this time of the year was actually real?

(Kids, despite what you read from here on in, Santa Claus is definitely real. I'm just making a pitiful attempt at making some jokes here.)

Phew. Dodged that bullet.

So anyway . . . with that disclaimer . . . let me say that if I ever woke up with reindeer on my roof and a strange white-bearded man dressed in red eating cookies at my kitchen table, I'd pretty much scream my head off -- and I mean scream! The type of scream that only dogs can hear.

And I don't mean an excited scream like some rich debutante whose rich father paid Brad Pitt to show up naked at her birthday party.

I mean the type of scream she'd make if I showed up naked at her party. It wouldn't be pretty. Much glass would shatter.

If you think about it, a lot of Christmastime imagery is really quite petrifying. Some strange old guy coming down my chimney isn't exactly right up there on the top 10 things I want happening to me in the next week or so. I would call 911, get out the baseball bat, sharpen the cats' claws and we'd attack as a team!

If that's not bad enough, if you really think about the lyrics to all those songs we're hearing on the radio these days, you have to shake your head in disbelief.

If all you want for Christmas is your two front teeth, you really need to get a bigger dream. Why not try for a nose job and pierced ears while you're at it, too, huh? A tummy tuck? Perhaps some Botox for those pelican-like jowls? And a new toupee probably wouldn't kill you, either.

And Frosty the Snowman? Now, let's be real. If you were sitting in front of the fireplace at home and your kids arrived and introduced you to a talking snowman with legs, wouldn't you pretty much jump out the window and run down the street screaming like a little girl until you found someone with a gun to shoot it? I know I would.

Good King Wenceslas? Never heard of the guy. The "Feast of Stephen"? Well, I'm sure he's a nice guy, but if some guy with a weird name wants to go to Steve's house for a meal, what does this have to do with Christmas? Why do we keep hearing this song?

And if Grandma really got run over by a reindeer, isn't it time to do something? If there are so many reindeer that sweet little old ladies can't even walk down the street on Christmas Eve without getting trampled to death, then we definitely have a population control issue. Either start an annual hunt or introduce coyotes to the area. That will take care of the problem quickly, leaving the streets safe for the Grandmas of the world who need to walk home on Christmas Eve half-sloshed from drinking too much eggnog.

And what about "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"? Wow. Did the guy who wrote this song do detective work on the side? It's December. There are Christmas decorations everywhere. Office parties are going on in every restaurant you eat at and the malls are packed with people buying gifts. Ooooh! Stop the presses. What's going on here? What's this strange celebration that's befallen us? Tell ya what buddy . . . it's going to begin to look a lot like Christmas next year at this time, too.

If you saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus, ask for a raise in your allowance or tell her you'll tell your father.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? I think he'd better get that checked or start a 12-step program.

If you really look at the lyrics of The Christmas Song, you could pretty much turn them into a cops-and-robber movie. "Jack Frost nipping at your nose." Uhm, how did he get in the house? And why's he attacking my nose? What did my shnozz ever do to him? Here we are glorifying break and enter and assault. "Folks dressed up like Eskimos?" Not terribly politically correct, although I suppose "Folks dressed up like Inuit" doesn't sound especially Christmassy.

"Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow"? Note to parents: If your kids arrive home with their eyes all aglow, you should check them into rehab. And what about "if reindeer really know how to fly"? If the reindeer in your neighbourhood are flying, you'd either better move further away from the nuclear power plant or stop sniffing nail polish remover. Or quit making models. That model glue can be quite powerful.

"Bring us some figgy pudding!" Ever eaten figs? I can tell you one thing: if you eat a whole whack of figgy pudding, nobody's going to want to spend Christmas with you because you'll be spending December 25 in the bathroom. Enough said, except that you'd better bring a really long book with you.

Never mind drinking responsibly. This society needs to start singing responsibly. But then again, Christmas songs with lyrics that actually made sense wouldn't be much fun, now, would they?

Coming from someone who starts listening to Christmas music in September, I guess I shouldn't be pointing fingers at all those nonsensical lyrics. It's not as if other types of music have lyrics that make any sense whatsoever, eh?

So sing what ya want and have fun! And have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My other blog - - was mentioned in today's Times & Transcript!

Click here to read the article on the website or see below. My interview is at the end of the article.

Dietary dilemmas: Holidays can be challenging for those with health conditions or trying to lose weight

By Cathy Donaldson, Times & Transcript Staff
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Appeared on page B1, Moncton Times & Transcript

It's become an annual ritual at our house.

On Christmas Eve, you'll find me happily chopping in the kitchen, preparing the ingredients for the stuffing to accompany the next day's turkey feast.

Make that two stuffings.

My mother-in-law has celiac disease, a disorder of the small bowel caused by a reaction to a gluten protein found in foods like wheat, rye, barley and oats. The treatment: a lifelong gluten-free diet.

So, while I use wheat bread for the stuffing that most of the family eats, gluten-free rice flour bread forms the basis of a second stuffing for my belle-mère.

While the small added task is no hassle here, mealtime can sometimes be challenging for those preparing food for holiday guests with dietary or other health concerns -- not to mention for the guests themselves.

"It's definitely an issue for many people," says Judy Burgess of Moncton, an executive member of the local chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association.

"I just spoke to a girl in our chapter who has lots of parties to go to coming up. Some relatives are saying to her, 'Oh, a little bit (of non gluten-free food) won't hurt. Just scrap the pie filling off the crust.' Some people don't realize that we can't do that because of cross-contamination concerns. The goal is to be 100 per cent gluten free."

Taking chances with food when you have such dietary conditions is not a good idea, says Judy, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1958 at the age of 11.

"You're doing damage to your small bowel whether you have a little bit or a lot (of non gluten-free food)," she says.

Fortunately for Judy and other celiacs -- and those who may host them during this festive season -- more gluten-free products are now available in stores, providing additional choices.

Specialty items can be quite expensive, however, with gluten-free bread costing as much as $7 a loaf, for example. An avid baker, Judy cuts costs by making much of her own food, such as breads and sweets.

If you have relatives visiting during the holidays who have special dietary needs, try to determine in advance what you can do to accommodate them, says Judy.

"It's really up to the person with the disease to call and ask what's being served and how it's being made," she says. "For example, if you're celiac and there isn't going to be gluten-free bread or rolls at the dinner you're attending, you can say you'll bring your own. Be willing to help yourself out and not put complete pressure on the hostess."

Sharon Zeiler, senior manager of Nutrition Initiatives and Strategies for the Canadian Diabetes Association, says it's important for anyone who wants to stay healthy to watch their diet during the holiday season, but especially important for those with health conditions.

"It's a busy time of year and people's routines get changed because of holiday parties and the stress of shopping, preparing and so on," says Sharon. "For diabetics, it's really important to take some time to eat before you go to a party so you're not tempted by all of the treats there."

If you really want to eat something at a party, like a piece of cheesecake, go for it, she says.

"But if it's not a 10, if you really don't think it's fabulous, just have a few bites and leave the rest," says Sharon. "Unless it's really special, it's not worth it."

Another option at treat-laden parties is to take a small plate and sample items, she says.

"We also try to encourage people who might be worried that there is something they can eat to bring a tray of vegetables or a fruit tray," says Sharon. "Most supermarkets now have them ready-prepared and hostesses are thrilled when you bring something."

Remember to focus on the family and friends you want to visit at holiday gatherings, not on the food, she adds.

"Avoid standing next to the buffet table," says Sharon. "It's really easy to keep picking up chips or nuts or whatever. If you're away from those, then the focus is on the conversation."

Portion control is also important, especially at sit-down meals.

"We have on our website ( a handy portion guide," says Sharon. "You can use your hand to get an idea of what the portions should be. For instance, a piece of fruit should be about the size of your fist and a piece of cheese shouldn't be any bigger than your thumb."

Diabetics can drink alcohol in moderation, provided their blood glucose is well controlled, says Sharon.

"It's often a good idea to check with your health care professional about it," she says. "Consider making drinks that are half diet pop and half (alcohol).

Or maybe have one glass of wine and then a glass of club soda so you are aware of what it is you're drinking."

Keeping active during the holidays is also vital for diabetics as well as the general population, she adds.

"Whether it's taking everybody out for tobogganing instead of going to a movie or going ice skating or suggesting a walk after a big dinner, those are all good things," she says. "It really helps people with diabetes control their blood glucose and you don't feel so guilty."

Brian Cormier of Moncton, a local writer and author of a web blog entitled, has been experimenting recently with low-carb holiday treats, both sugar-free and wheat-free items.

Since mid-June, Brian has lost about 80 pounds on a low-carb diet, avoiding foods like potatoes, bread, pasta, flour and sugar.

He expects this holiday season to be a bit tougher than usual as he forges ahead with his dietary plan.

"We associate certain kinds of food with certain times of the year," says Brian. "At Christmas, you're talking about the big meals and especially the sweets, the candies, the special desserts, the special cookies, all that stuff. It makes it a little more challenging."

And, depending on your cultural background, there may be even more temptations, he says.

"If you're Acadian, like I am, there's poutine râpée, which is like one big snowball of carbs," he says. "It's grated potato and boiled potato and you put sugar on it after that. That is definitely a no-no for me this year."

Brian has managed to find a solution for at least one of his favourite Christmas dishes, a meat pie called "pâté" that his mother makes.

"I ordered a low-carb baking mix called Carbquick from a grocery store in Toronto," he says. "My mother is going to use that to make the crust for my meat pies."

As for sweets, Brian says he'll be making his own sugar-free selections.

And when it comes to alcohol, he says that if he indulges, he'll opt for hard liquor as opposed to beer since the latter is such a high-carb drink.

The internet is teeming with recipes for sugar-free, low-carb foods, he notes.

"I've found so much stuff there that's really delicious," he says.

Christmas Countdown: 6 days!

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - The Osmond Brothers (and yes, the little one is Donny Osmond - who's now a grandfather)

Sonny and Cher Christmas, with Bernadette Peters and Captain Kangaroo

Kiddie matinee Christmas trailers

Today's Hump Day: Trying to make sense of Christmas songs

Hi everyone! Don't miss the latest Hump Day column on the editorial page (pg. D6) of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. Today's piece is all about trying to make sense of some of those Christmas song lyrics. If you really think about it, many of them are really quite baffling. Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This week's Hump Day column...

... is the last column before Christmas, so I'm taking a look at a few absurd Christmas song lyrics. Who's Good King Wenceslas and why's he having supper with Steve? Inquiring minds want to know. :)

Read all about it on the editorial page of tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Christmas Countdown: 7 days!

Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear - Bob Rivers

White Trash Christmas - Bob Rivers

Snoopy's Christmas - The Royal Guardsmen

Monday, December 17, 2007

Peter Puck makes a comeback!

Everyone's favourite hockey cartoon character from the early 1970s has been resurrected by the Toronto Maple Leafs! Peter Puck will appear on 11 new episodes to air on Leafs TV. Click here for more. Forget what Peter sounded like? Click here for an audio file!

And here he is! Haven't seen him in action in YEARS.

Singer Dan Fogelberg dies

According the Associate Press: "Dan Fogelberg, the singer and songwriter whose hits "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne" helped define the soft-rock era, died Sunday at his home in Maine after battling prostate cancer. He was 56." Click here for more.

Leader of the Band:

Same Old Lang Syne:

Christmas Countdown: 8 days!

O Come All Ye Faithful - Martina McBride

O Tannenbaum - Vienna Boys Choir

O Holy Night - 'N Sync

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Countdown: 9 days!

We're now down to single digits, folks!

The Little King

Cissy King and Bobby Burgess dancing to "Heigh Ho!" - The Lawrence Welk Show, December 23, 1967 -- 40 years ago!

What Child Is This? - Aaliyah

Aaliyah had such a beautiful voice. Tragically, she died in a plane crash in 2001.