Saturday, May 03, 2008

Idol Chatter for May 3, 2008: "American idiot?"

Is Paula Abdul certifiably insane? Is she just weird? Are her sometimes odd behaviour and nonsensical comments proof that she's unfit to be a judge on the #1 show on TV or is she suffering from a legitimate medical condition that sometimes causes her to seem like she's been drinking or on drugs?

And this leads to an even bigger and more sinister question: Is American Idol fixed?

Click here to read my thoughts in a special extra edition of Idol Chatter that appears in today's Moncton Times & Transcript.

Don't forget to tune in to American Idol on Tuesday at 9 p.m. Atlantic / 8 p.m. Eastern to see the Top 4 perform songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Idol Chatter for May 1, 2008: "Idol sends another singer packing"

Last night was one of the saddest farewells I've seen for a contestant in a long time on either American Idol or Canadian Idol. Although the contestant who was eliminated was widely thought to be leaving this week, they were so sincerely upset that I'm sure it made many viewers regret their choice - at least emotionally. To find out who was asked to pack up and leave, click here.

Next week, the Top 4 sing songs from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Don't forget to tune in to Fox at 9 p.m. Atlantic / 8 p.m. Eastern next Tuesday.

Also, watch for a special edition of Idol Chatter in tomorrow's Moncton Times & Transcript. Is Paula going loopy? Did she prove once and for all that American Idol is fixed after this week's debacle when she voiced negative judgment on a song that Jason Castro had yet to perform? Read what I think about this whole mess in tomorrow's paper.

On the road to being King of the Dinky toys

Hump Day
Moncton Times & Transcript, page D6
April 30, 2008

I was hanging out with my two-year-old nephew the other day and we were playing with his toy cars, what we usually call "Dinky cars" around here. As "Kleenex" is often used as a generic noun to describe tissues, "Dinky" is also a brand name that's often used to describe little toy cars in general.

Playing with those cars with my nephew brought back a ton of memories.

First of all, I have to admit that I still love playing with them. In my neighbourhood, I was King of the Dinkys. Buying a new car whenever I went out shopping with my parents was practically the law, at least when I didn't push my luck. I used to have a toy parking garage and gas station, and played with those for hours. It's still a guilty pleasure of mine and I'm secretly thrilled whenever I get a chance to play with them again. (Don't tell anyone! Our secret. . .)

When I was a kid, I imagined all sorts of typical playtime scenarios with those cars, with "cops and robbers" being a favourite. I was always the cop, never the robber.

Although I don't remember exactly, I'm pretty sure that I was the type of kid who would have just taken all my cars home had the robbers ever managed to win. To a "cop", this was simply unacceptable. How dare my "robber" friends win, especially when they were using my cars! Some people's kids, I tell ya!

This is going to sound really disgusting, but back in the 1970s there were open drainage ditches in the Lewisville area of Moncton where I grew up and still live.

Thankfully, drainage pipes were installed and the ditches were filled in later that decade, but until then the ditches were non-stop entertainment for us kids. We made roads, dams, towns, etc. and played with our cars and trucks for what seemed to be eons.

Oh what fun we had. . . until a rat the size of a bull elephant's mean big brother decided to drop by for a visit one day. It was as big as a house and had fangs the size of walrus tusks. It even carted one of my friends away. We never saw little Tommy again.

OK, well maybe the Tommy thing never happened, but I do remember that we completely freaked, of course. Parental calls were made to the municipality. Sadly, the ditch lost its attraction after that. Being carted off by a family of rats to be barbecued for their Sunday dinner wasn't exactly at the top of my to-do list.

Since I was the chubby kid in the neighbourhood, I know the rats would have targeted me first. They would have envisioned me lying on a big platter with an apple in my mouth and most certainly would have considered me the most delicious one of the bunch -- much tastier than the fast, skinny runts I hung out with. I was definitely the slowest and, thus, the easiest one to kill, just like I used to see on Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom on TV!

Thankfully, the rats never did get to try me out on their new Hibachi.

One thing that I never really got into as a kid was making models, as in model cars, airplanes, ships, etc. I had friends who were really into that stuff, but it was way too detail-oriented for li'l ol' moi. I couldn't figure out all those itty-bitty parts and didn't have the patience to figure them out, either.

But I have to admit that the smell of that model glue was intoxicating, although it was potent stuff and not something that anyone should sniff on purpose. But man, it smelled good. Even had I been "into" making models, however, I doubt that I could have ever stuck with it because I was so paranoid from parental warnings about that glue.

When I did try to make the odd model or two, I was so scared of getting a whiff of the stuff that I practically sat next to an airplane propeller to ensure that the noxious fumes were blown away from me. I was petrified of them.

I'm not sure how any kid could enjoy making models, anyway. Between the paranoia of accidentally sniffing the glue, getting your fingers stuck together and losing one of those small parts, what could you do with your model afterwards? Well, I'll tell you: just sit there and stare at it. Oh joy! Oh bliss! Not. . .

Geez, now that I'm writing about Dinky toys, I want to start collecting them. Hmmm. . . I don't actually collect anything right now. Everyone needs some sort of collection after all, right? I know people who collect miniature bells, spoons, pig figurines, records. . . all sorts of things! I just checked eBay and there are tons of Dinkys available. It would also give me an excuse to start going to yard sales to look for valuable finds. Maybe I'd find something really rare and make a million dollars, huh?

Phew! I'm tired just thinking about it. In that case, maybe I won't do it. I haven't even started my collection yet and I'm already broke and exhausted. Sheesh! Glad that happened before I got too obsessed with it, although I'm pretty sure that "King of the Dinkys" would have looked pretty darn cool on my resume.

Maybe I should reconsider. After all, being "king" of anything looks kinda neat on a resume.

Hmmm. . . maybe I should hatch some diabolical plan to marry Princess Beatrice and then kill off the four princes ahead of her in the line of succession to the British throne? Nah, too lazy.

And besides, I'm pretty sure that Prince William and Prince Harry have learned a few combat tricks now that they're in the military and would beat me to a pulp. I wouldn't stand a chance.

So, Dinkys it is!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not sure if the price of computers has come down?

Check out this 1989 ad for a Radio Shack Tandy brand computer. Only $8,499 for 2 megs (2 megs!!!) of RAM and the monitor and mouse are NOT included. Holy cow. Thank God that times have changed.

Click on the photo for a larger version of the ad.

Idol Chatter for April 30, 2008: "Idols take on Neil Diamond"

American Idol's Top 5 performed the songs of legendary pop star Neil Diamond in one of the strangest episodes ever last night. Each contestant sang two songs and the judges were so amazingly rushed in their comments that they could barely say what they wanted to before host Ryan Seacrest had to move the show along. Paula Abdul was hysterically confused. Normally, I like Paula and find her personality endearing, but last night she was bordering on the idiotic. Get some help! With that said, I think the contestant going home tonight will be a girl, but do Simon and I agree on which one? Click here to find out! By the way, today's column is only about 60% of its usual length due to space limitations in today's Times & Transcript. It should return to its usual 800'ish words tomorrow.

Today's Hump Day...

... is all about my love of playing with Dinky toys (toy cars) when I was a kid. My friends and I had a lot of fun playing with them in the ditches around our houses until a huge rat showed up one day to cart us away to eat us. It's true! :) Check out today's Hump Day column on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript. It will also be posted online here tomorrow for your reading pleasure.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Country singer B.W. Stevenson died 20 years ago today

Country singer and songwriter B.W. Stevenson died 20 years ago today on April 28, 1988. Here he is singing Highway One in 1982.

He also wrote Shambala, a hit by Three Dog Night:

Sunday, April 27, 2008