Saturday, June 14, 2008

My Top 10 favourite Canadian Idol performances: #3

My #3 favourite Canadian Idol performance of all time is the FOURTH one (making my Top 10) from the 2004 tribute episode to Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot.

Theresa Sokyrka came in second to winner Kalan Porter that year. She was a favourite to win from the first episode but just couldn't overtake the Kalan juggernaut that was obviously not going to be possible to stop. Since the show, she's had a successful solo career, with her sincere and warm personality attracting fans everywhere she goes.

On the Gordon Lightfoot tribute episode, Theresa performed a beautiful rendition of Song for a Winter's Night. I remember very clearly that evening, as the nights were getting shorter, there was a nip of fall in the air (just barely - but still) and the back-to-school sales were in full force. Fall was coming... and winter would soon follow.



Check out my previously announced Top 10 entries:

#10: Jacob Hoggard - Sundown
#9: Greg Neufeld - All These Things That I've Done
#8: Kalan Porter - If You Could Read My Mind
#7: Kalan Porter - Awake In A Dream
#6: Chad Doucette - Tonight I Want To Cry
#5: Greg Neufeld - I'm Ready
#4: Shane Wiebe - The Way I Feel

Friday, June 13, 2008

NBC News legend Tim Russert dead at 58

Well-known NBC news anchor and Meet The Press host Tim Russert died suddenly of a heart attack today, his family announced. What a shock! Click here for more.

An obviously distraught Tom Brokaw broke the news to viewers this afternoon.

My Top 10 favourite Canadian Idol performances: #4

The #4 choice on my list of all-time favourite Canadian Idol performances is yet another from the excellent 2004 tribute episode to Canadian music legend Gordon Lightfoot.

Shane Wiebe was one of those contestants who flew under the radar week after week. In fact, when he made the Top 10, a lot of people were asking themselves, "Who IS this guy?" Shane was a very good singer but had a bit of trouble differentiating himself from the pack in a year that included powerhouse contestants such as Kalan Porter, Jacob Hoggard and Theresa Sokyrka. Despite that - and several appearances in the bottom three- he made it into the Top 5... no small feat!

During the Gordon Lightfoot episode that aired in August 2004, Shane performed a phenomenal version of The Way I Feel. Judge Sass Jordan called it a "stellar" performance. I agree wholeheartedly. Shane made me a big fan of this song.



Check out my previously announced Top 10 entries:

#10: Jacob Hoggard - Sundown
#9: Greg Neufeld - All These Things That I've Done
#8: Kalan Porter - If You Could Read My Mind
#7: Kalan Porter - Awake In A Dream
#6: Chad Doucette - Tonight I Want To Cry
#5: Greg Neufeld - I'm Ready

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Top 10 favourite Canadian Idol performances: #5

The #5 choice on my list of all-time favourite Canadian Idol performances is another by last season's Greg Neufeld, who also holds down my #9 spot.

His excellent July 30, 2007, performance of I'm Ready by Bryan Adams speaks for itself. The judges' comments speak for themselves. The audience's reaction speaks for itself. And that week's mentor Enrique Iglesias's comments speak for themselves.

Inexplicably, Greg was eliminated the following week. Don't even get me going on that one again.

So... here's Greg Neufeld's rendition of I'm Ready from last season's Unplugged episode of Canadian Idol:



Check out my previously announced Top 10 entries:

#10: Jacob Hoggard - Sundown
#9: Greg Neufeld - All These Things That I've Done
#8: Kalan Porter - If You Could Read My Mind
#7: Kalan Porter - Awake In A Dream
#6: Chad Doucette - Tonight I Want To Cry

Figuring out what is and isn't an emergency

Hump Day
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Pg. D9

Like most of you, I rarely feel the need to call 911.

Calling the emergency line is no laughing matter. It's not TV. It's not make-believe. It's real... with real consequences. Many times, it's a life and death situation.

I've already written about the time I called 911 around Christmas 2006. I was walking down Main Street with a colleague from work when I thought (key
word: "thought") I saw two guys shooting at people across the street.

In reality, they were only putting up posters with a staple gun. My call to
911 certainly caught the attention of the police, however, with no less than five police cars and about twice as many armed-to-the-teeth officers descending on the area like a bunch of lions going after a wounded gazelle.

Of course, li'l ol' me wanted to crawl into a hole and die when I discovered that the two dudes were only putting up posters, but it sure looked like they were shooting people from my vantage point. Those staple guns sure looked like real guns! Hey, it was dark out! "Don't judge me," I plead bitterly.

This, of course, has made me think twice about calling 911 again. In fact, ever since the staple gun incident, I always question whether or not what I think I'm seeing is actually happening. Is the "crime" or "accident" I'm seeing real?

This happened to me again several days ago when I was trying to rest after a long day at work. After feeding the critters, I was relaxing on the sofa with a blanket over me, drifting in and out of a nap while watching TV, when I heard a group of four or five young male teenagers (about 12 to 14 years old) making a bit of a ruckus across the street in the park. They weren't doing anything bad, just being teenagers.

All of a sudden, one of them -- who I discovered later was named Andrew -- ended up on my front lawn, rolling around and screaming, "It hurts! It hurts!" His friends were either chuckling or staring blankly at him, likely thinking he was exaggerating or unsure of what to do if they knew it was authentic pain. I hadn't seen what caused "the hurt", but thought nothing of it. I mean, you fall, you go boom, you go ouch, and then you move on.

Unfortunately for Andrew, he fell down and went boom... big time!

While gazing out the window from my sofa under my comfortable blanket and wishing the kid would just shut his trap and move on, I saw a blur run by and then a frantic banging at my front door. This was no knock. It was a frantic bang.

By the time I got up, I saw Andrew fly by my window again and then next door to my neighbour's house. Now, I know some kids aren't the brightest bulbs in the chandelier these days, but I'm pretty sure this bunch didn't look inbred enough to think that pulling pranks during daylight hours was a good idea.

Thinking he had perhaps gone to "cause trouble" for my neighbour (or whatever -- I still was clueless as to what was actually wrong at this point), I promptly got up and looked out the back door to find poor Andrew standing at my neighbour's back door, tears rolling down his cheeks.

Almost immediately, she came out with water for him. He was standing there holding his palms upwards like he was saying The Lord's Prayer. Something was definitely not kosher in this deli, my keen sense of observation ("keen" as in seeing a crying strange teenager standing outside -- kind of a no-brainer in the Something's Definitely Wrong Here Department) told me.

By the time I got outside to take a closer look, it became quite apparent that Andrew had left large chunks of the skin from his palms somewhere in the park across the street. Through his tears, he explained that he had been running, tripped on the sidewalk and then braced himself instinctively by falling on his hands. I'm sure anyone who's fallen and broken their wrist in the winter either on an icy sidewalk or while skating can sympathize with that.

Poor Andrew's palms looked like freshly cut steaks, frankly. His elbows weren't much better. To make a long story short, this kid took a hard fall and was nowhere near home, having travelled a fair way on his bike to visit a friend in the neighbourhood.

To make a long story even shorter, I ended up driving him to his grandmother's when we couldn't contact his parents. One was working that evening and another out of town. Andrew was certainly old enough to be "home alone", so to speak, but these things can happen to anyone and he needed help. My neighbour, meanwhile, cleaned his wounds as best she could.

The worried looks on his grandmother's and aunt's faces when we arrived gave me comfort that this kid would be OK. They would trek him off to the hospital to be bandaged up, his biking days over until his hands healed. Not a good start to the summer.

I never did find out if he was eventually OK, but I remember feeling deeply guilty afterwards for wishing he would just shut up when I first heard him yelling and rolling around on my front lawn. The paternal part of me was very mad at myself.

It's true that sometimes the "emergencies" we see aren't real ones.
Sometimes, however, what we brush off as mere tomfoolery or annoying behaviour is the real deal. The trick is to know the difference, which is quite often not all that clear. You just may have to embarrass yourself by stepping in to help in a non-emergency. The trade-off -- and it's no fun -- is the guilt felt when not stepping in soon enough on a real one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Top 10 favourite Canadian Idol performances: #6

The #6 choice on my list of all-time favourite Canadian Idol performances is by Nova Scotia's Chad Doucette, who went all the way to the Top 4 during the 2006 season.

I thought that Chad's Top 22 performance of Keith Urban's Tonight I Want To Cry was excellent. This was the first elimination round and Chad certainly differentiated himself from the crowd as a sincere young guy who could draw on a lot of emotion when he sang. I've loved this performance since it first aired and it remains one of my top favourites of all time.



Check out my previously announced Top 10 entries:

#10: Jacob Hoggard - Sundown
#9: Greg Neufeld - All These Things That I've Done
#8: Kalan Porter - If You Could Read My Mind
#7: Kalan Porter - Awake In A Dream

Today's Hump Day column...

... is all about emergencies and the "art" of determining whether or not they're real. A recent incident near my home had me feeling guilty after initially thinking that a kid was just joking around when, in fact, he'd been injured relatively badly.


Check out today's Hump Day on the editorial page (pg. D9) of the Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted online here tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Top 10 favourite Canadian Idol performances: #7

The #7 choice on my list of all-time favourite Canadian Idol performances is another song by 2004 winner Kalan Porter, who also held down the #8 spot.

Awake In A Dream was the "winner's song" of the 2004 season. Kalan performed it on the last performance show aired on September 16, 2004, and blew the roof off the house! The next night, he was crowned the new Canadian Idol. Sorry about the video quality. It's a bit out of sync, too, but it's all I could find.

The song was a monstrous hit for Kalan, debuting at #1 on the Canadian charts and staying there for eight weeks. In fact, it is (so far) the top-selling debut single by any Canadian artist on the Canadian charts. Quite a feat!



Check out my previously announced Top 10 entries:

#10: Jacob Hoggard - Sundown
#9: Greg Neufeld - All These Things That I've Done
#8: Kalan Porter - If You Could Read My Mind

Monday, June 09, 2008

CTV buys rights to Hockey Night in Canada theme!

This is a brilliant move by CTV! According to a news release:

"CTV Inc., together with Copyright Music & Visuals, today announced that CTV Inc. has acquired all rights to 'The Hockey Theme' in perpetuity, preserving the song's legacy and ensuring it will be heard on national television for years to come. 'The Hockey Theme' song will now live on CTV Inc. properties TSN, RDS and across Canada on CTV during coverage of the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Olympics as outlined below."

Click here for the rest of the news release.

My Top 10 favourite Canadian Idol performances: #8

My choice for #8 on my list of all-time favourite Canadian Idol performances is yet another song from the excellent tribute to Gordon Lightfoot that originally aired on August 19, 2004.

Eventual 2004 winner Kalan Porter's crazy-good performance of If You Could Read My Mind cemented his position as the contestant to beat that year. This is an amazing performance by a very talented singer.



There's another video of the performance here that includes the judges' gushing comments. The quality isn't as good as the one shown above, so I opted just to link to it.

Check out my previously announced Top 10 entries:

#10: Jacob Hoggard - Sundown
#9: Greg Neufeld - All These Things That I've Done

Sunday, June 08, 2008

My Top 10 favourite Canadian Idol performances: #9

My #9 choice is from one of my all-time favourite contestants on either Canadian or American Idol: Greg Neufeld. He just failed to make the Top 10 in 2006 but managed to do so in 2007, becoming one of the favourites to win. In fact, he was considered THE favourite to win until he was eliminated in one of the most shocking results shows ever on August 7, 2007.

On July 17, 2007, the show's theme was "#1 Hits", so Greg chose to sing The Killers' hit All These Things That I've Done. Every year, I become obsessed with a few performances, playing them over and over again until I force myself to erase them. This was one of them.



Check out my previously announced Top 10 entries:

#10: Jacob Hoggard - Sundown

It's a Wonderful Life's Bobby Anderson dies at 75 - Played young George Bailey

It seems like everyone has seen the iconic Christmas movie It's a Wonderful Life at some point in their lives. Personally, it's one of my favourites of all time. I even own a copy!

I was saddened to hear today that the actor who played the young George Bailey - Bobby Anderson - passed away Friday from cancer at the age of 75 in Palm Springs, California.

One of the young actor's main scenes was when he confronted his pharmacist boss about a wrong prescription. In an AP story on his passing, Anderson reminisced about the emotional scene, which ended up being more real than any of us may have thought.

"In one scene, the story called for him to spot a potentially fatal error made by a drunken druggist, played by H.B. Warner. Warner took the role seriously and on the day of shooting had been drinking and was "pretty ripe," Victoria Anderson said. The scene called for Warner's character to slap the boy. Anderson told the Los Angeles Times in 1996 that the scene and its rehearsals were painful. "He actually bloodied my ear," Anderson told the paper. "My ear was beat up and my face was red, and I was in tears. At the end when it was all over, he (Warner) was very lovable. He grabbed me and hugged me, and he meant it," Anderson said."

Here's Anderson in another memorable and beloved scene from the movie, when a young Mary whispers into his (now deaf) ear (from being hit by the pharmacist) that she'll love him until the day she dies.