Thursday, December 31, 2009

One minute left in 2009! Let the countdown begin!

Quick...Click on the video!



Courtesy of DJ Joe Fabian of http://www.northernlightsdj.co.uk/.

A personal note from me to end 2009 and begin 2010

New Year's memories from "For Better or For Worse"

Reflecting on a life well-lived as a New Year dawns

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Editorial page

It's difficult to imagine that there are people who've been around since before electricity, airplanes, telephones or cars, but when you're 103 years old, you were definitely around before all these modern inventions became a part of everyday life.

My great aunt Adèle, who turned 103 in September, celebrated her most recent birthday by being driven in a limousine to the Magnetic Hill Prayer Garden for a party in her honour. A bottle of champagne was even cracked open to celebrate the occasion.

Although I wasn't able to attend, I saw lots of videos and photos. It certainly seemed like Adèle greatly enjoyed her birthday, as did everyone else. After all, it's not every day that you turn 103 and get your first ride in a stretch limousine!

To add to the occasion, Adèle was even interviewed by CTV, as well as for the supper-hour newscast on Radio-Canada. A poignant part of her interview with the Radio-Canada reporter was when she said that she thought Jesus had forgotten about her. After 103 years, she was still waiting for him to come take her to heaven.

Two months later in November, I happened to see Adèle at the first public H1N1 immunization clinic held in Moncton. I'd brought my father along, too, so that we could both get vaccinated against the flu.

As we were sitting down after the needles for the mandatory 15-minute waiting period, I saw Adèle enter with her caregivers. My father (her nephew) and I headed over to see her after she'd received her needle. Although it seems odd when you first think about it, she wasn't on the list of priority groups to receive the needle earlier. All things considered, she was in great health for someone who was 103 and didn't fit in any of the categories for an earlier shot.

She was so happy to see us! We each got one of her legendary strong hugs and she wouldn't let go of my hand. We talked about some family news, and when we got around to discussing the hoopla surrounding her last birthday party, she told me humbly and looking right in my eyes (in mixed French and English), "J'deserve pas ça!"

I tried to convince her otherwise -- that she did deserve all the attention -- but her humility would not allow her to completely accept the fact that so many people wanted to come together to wish her a happy birthday.

About three weeks after I saw her, on Saturday, Dec. 19, Adèle was being driven by her caregiver to my uncle Cammy and aunt Marguerite's place for a lunch. They absolutely adore Adèle and would do anything for her. Adèle was bringing them and other family members hand-made gifts knitted with the loving care and generosity she displayed throughout her life. Marguerite made Adèle her favourite lemon pie and was going to serve one of Adèle's favourite meals. Being the Christmas season, everyone was looking forward to getting together for some family time.

On the way over in the car, Adèle began complaining of feeling ill and decided that she didn't want to go. For her not wanting to go see Cammy and Marguerite, something had to be seriously wrong. Seeing that they were so close to their destination, her caregiver stopped at Cammy and Marguerite's to let them know that Adèle wasn't feeling well. When they came out to the car to check on her, they all agreed that she should be brought to the hospital.

At the hospital, they discovered that Adèle's heart was finally giving out and that she was not going to make it. The doctor told them that it looked like her body was at the end of its long 103-year journey.

On Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after entering the hospital, Adèle took her last breath and died surrounded by people who loved her.

Three days before Christmas, I had the honour of being one of Adèle's pallbearers, helping to carry her casket up the stairs of the church where her funeral would be celebrated. The church was decorated for Christmas, but the occasion was solemn, to say the least, although a life of 103 years is certainly remarkable. But it was a blessing that she was only sick for less than 24 hours before passing away.

There were tears, of course, but also a lot of gratitude for her health right up until the end and the fact that she was surrounded by people who loved her.

We all thought we'd be seeing Adèle ring in 2010 with us -- and probably even celebrate her 104th birthday with another stretch limousine, but it was not to be. Her faith was strong, but her body was worn. She lived so long that she told a story about hiding in a ditch the first time she saw an airplane as a little girl. She was terrified because she'd never seen one before. That long ago, practically no one else had, either!

If 2010 is indeed your last year here, may you go like Adèle... healthy right up until the last 24 hours and surrounded by loved ones.

Yes, Adèle, you "deserved ça."

Adèle, have a sip of champagne for all of us tomorrow night as we count down the last seconds of 2009. You definitely have something to celebrate this year as your new life begins where there is no age, no illness and no sorrow. We'll miss you in 2010... and your legendary strong hugs.

May 2010 bring you all health, happiness, the company of loving family and friends and much prosperity. Although Adèle was too humble to think she "deserved ça," she certainly did -- as do we all.

Happy New Year to each every one of you!

Countdown to 2010: 1 day!

In preparation for the countdown to 2010 beginning tonight at 11:59 p.m. wherever you are in the world, here's a look back at the countdown to 2009 in London...



Check back here tonight at exactly 11:59 p.m. (refresh the page if it's not up yet) for a 60-second countdown to 2010!

Thank you, 2009! It's been a blast!

It is with a profound sense of gratitude that I want to thank each and every one of you for dropping by Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World! in 2009. It's been a wonderful year for me -- and I hope it's been a great year for you, too.

Thank you to 2009 for everything that you brought -- good and bad. Everything is a learning experience.

As 2010 looms, with all its hope and wonder, I wish you all a year filled with peace, hope, joy, good health, prosperity and success.

You deserve it! We all deserve it!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This week's Hump Day...

... is about a life well lived for the past 103 years and how we all deserve to live a good life in 2010.

Check out Hump Day on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation newspaper. It will be posted online here tomorrow.

And remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Countdown to 2010: 2 days!

Today: The countdown to 2008 in Hong Kong...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Countdown to 2010: 3 days!

Today: The countdown to 2007 in Sydney, Australia...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Countdown to 2010: 4 days!

Today: A look back at the countdown to 2006 in Berlin...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Celebrity cigarette commercials

Times sure have changed - for the better! Doing a commercial like this these days would not be considered a good career move!









This isn't a celebrity ad, but is so completely amazing in its audacity:

Countdown to 2010: 5 days!

In preparation to Friday night's countdown to 2010, I'll be posting a version of the last five New Year's Eve countdowns between now and then.

Today: The countdown to 2005 in New York's Times Square...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy Boxing Day!

It's December 26 -- the day after Christmas -- traditionally known as Boxing Day here in Canada. In many parts of the country, the stores are open and the after-Christmas sales will be in full swing today! And there are lots of leftovers to munch on, too!

In other parts of the country where today is still a holiday (like here in New Brunswick), the stores will open tomorrow... leaving today to visiting friends and family and resting up after a busy Christmas Day!

Today is also St. Stephen's Day -- you know, the "Feast of Stephen" mentioned in the Good King Wenceslas Christmas carol.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


It's finally the big day! I hope you all have a wonderful day full of surprises, family, friendship... and peace. Enjoy yourselves!

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Johnny Cash.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Memories of midnight mass

Here is "Venez divin messie" sung by Raoul Jobin -- a wonderful Christmas carol that was sung at church when I was a youngster when my paternal grandmother would accompany us.

Lots of memories. I hope this Christmas Eve has many great memories for you all, too!

What one writer is hoping Santa will do this year

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial page

Dear Santa:

This is Brian. You know, the guy with two cats who talks about himself a lot. The guy who hates wind chimes. The guy with road rage who screams at other drivers when he's alone in the car (and hopes no one else is looking). I know I'm weird. My brain is clogged with cat fur. It was bound to happen.

Anyway, sir, since it's nearly Christmas, I was hoping that I could send in this last-minute wish list. Since this will be posted online, I assume your media monitoring service will pick it up and someone in your public relations department will flag it for follow-up and action. If there's one way to get the attention of an international celebrity, it's writing about him in the newspaper.

First of all, this Christmas, I want you to give the ability to drivers to learn what "right of way" means. The other day, another drive cut me off (I clearly had the right of way) and she gave me the finger when I oh so gently beeped my horn at her. Well, perhaps "oh so gently" isn't exactly characterized by leaning on it for 10 seconds and screaming at her. But still, her finger was rude, especially during the holidays. Feel free to ask the reindeer to leave -- uhm -- a "special gift" in her stocking tomorrow night.

Also, it would be greatly appreciated if you would drop a how-to guide in everyone's stocking about how to return shopping carts to the outside collection areas instead of just leaving them in the middle of the parking lot for other cars to run into. I realize that walking two spots over to drop the cart off is a tough job, but our cars and bumpers would greatly appreciate it.

When I'm sitting with someone in a restaurant with someone and they blow their nose, please make it common knowledge that it's really gross to deposit the tissue right in front of me on the table. I cannot tell you how many people do this. It happens all the time. It baffles me.

I care about the environment as much as anyone else, but could you please leave a lump of coal in the stockings of those who berate others for sending Christmas cards because -- in their opinion -- it's not "environmentally friendly"? I mean, come on. It's Christmas, for heaven's sake. Sending a personal greeting in the mail isn't going to make the sun dim. Not everyone has e-mail, so a card is often a nice way to send an actual hand-written note, a rarity these days. The quality of my handwriting is deteriorating year after year, so I plan on keeping up the tradition, if only to keep from writing like a gorilla holding a pencil for the first time.

Now, those are my rather selfish requests for this Christmas -- you know, the stuff that will make me personally happy. However, here are some other requests.

For all those experiencing hunger and homeless this year, I hope you are able to provide them with hope and a sense of inner self-worth so that they may heal and move forward with their lives to become self-sustainable and happy. Everyone deserves a warm bed to sleep in and a belly full of food.

Speaking of the homeless, please don't forget all those animals in shelters around the world looking for families to take care of them. Let's hope that after the holidays many of them will be adopted into new homes and will know the joy of curling up to someone on the sofa on the many cold winter nights that are ahead of us.

And please don't forget the children who need parents, too. I'm not too concerned about the babies because they find homes almost immediately, but the older children and sibling groups are a bit harder to place and are just as cute and worthy. Adopting an instant family would be a wonderful gift for a single parent or couple (and the children!) in the coming year, don't you think?

I personally know four couples who'd been together for more than 20 years each who separated this year, Santa. This will be a "different" Christmas for all of them, to say the least. It's my hope that they'll all be able to find a bit of happiness in this first Christmas of their new family situation. It can't be easy, but I hope you're able to say a few more "Ho Ho Hos" when you come down their chimneys on Christmas Eve.

For all those who lost a family member this year or a close friend, please send them a bit of cheer, too. The empty seat at the dinner table will be obvious to everyone, but please give them strength to start new traditions that will continue to bring joy during the holiday season -- and lessen their pain and grief.

Okay, now I'm back to the selfish stuff. I realize you're on vacation during the NHL playoffs, but if you could somehow give some extra "oomph" to the Canadian teams this year, I think I speak for everyone in the country when I say it would be great if one of our teams won the Stanley Cup. Quite frankly, I don't care which one. As long as Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton or Vancouver is in the name of the team, I'll be happy... and so will many others! I even predict a few will leave an extra cookie for you and an extra carrot for the reindeer next Christmas Eve!

And one last thing: If one more person tells me to go off my diet just because it's Christmas, please make them gain a minimum of 10 pounds over the holidays. If you do that for me, I may even throw in a $20 bill next to the cookies next year! Thanks for listening, Santa! Love, Brian xox

Christmas 2009 countdown: 1 day!


It's Christmas Eve, folks! Not much longer to wait now!

Today: Three classics for you...

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street



"Merry Christmas Darling" by The Carpenters



And... finally... of course... "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby:



Have a wonderful Christmas Eve, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Track Santa's journey around the globe tomorrow!


Happy Christmas Eve "Eve"! Don't forget that you can track Santa's journey around the globe tomorrow via the NORAD Tracks Santa website. Take a look at last year's trip here:

Christmas 2009 countdown: 2 days!

Today: "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"

The Muppets:



Santa Buddies:



Cannibale Vocale:

This week's Hump Day column...


... is a copy of my letter to Santa Claus this year. I've decided to share it with all of you because -- well -- it saves me from writing a column this week. *cough*

Check out Hump Day on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation newspaper. It will be posted online here tomorrow.

And remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 3 days!

Today: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

Angel Voices:



King's College Cambridge:



Libera:

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's winter!

I timed this post to coincide with the exact moment that winter arrives... so if you're reading this, it's now officially winter! Drive safely and keep warm!

In memoriam: Adèle Cormier (1906-2009)


My beautiful great aunt Adèle Cormier passed away yesterday at the age of 103. She lived a long life and was healthy right up until her last 24 hours. She'd even already knitted all of her Christmas gifts this year!

What a blessing she was to everyone who knew her and we're all so happy that she was ill for only a very short time -- in fact, for a mere few hours.

Rest in peace, Adèle. You have deserved your rest after such a long journey.

The photo above was taken at her 103rd birthday party in September 2009. She was brought to the party in a limousine and treated like a queen!

Here is her obituary:

Adèle Cormier (1906-2009)

Adèle Cormier, 103, wife of the late Antoine Cormier of Adamsville and formerly of Moncton passed away on Sunday, December 20, 2009, at the Dr. Georges L. Dumont Hospital. Born September 20, 1906 in Saint-Marie-de-Kent, she was the daughter of the late Dominique Bastarache and Dina LeBlanc.

She is survived by a special niece Loretta LeBlanc (René), special nephews, Camille Cormier (Marguerite), Gérard Cormier (Maria) and Bernard Cormier, several other nieces and nephews, many great nieces and great nephews, as well as her caregiver Tina Landry and by many close friends.

Besides her husband Antoine, she is also predeceased by a daughter at birth, four brothers: Isidore, Hector, Edmond and Alyre; five sisters: Démérise, Nathalie, Ozélie, Régina and Marie-Anne.

The family will receive relatives and friends at Frenette's Funeral Home, 88 Church Street, Moncton (858-1900). Visiting hours Monday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 10 a.m. until time of departure(10:45). The funeral mass will be held at Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Roman Catholic Church (Parkton) on Tuesday, December 22, 2009, at 11 a.m. Interment will be in Our Lady of Calvary R.C. Cemetery, Dieppe.

A contribution, in memory of Adèle, to the NB Heart and Stroke Foundation or to a charity of the donors choice would be appreciated.

Christmas 2009 countdown: 4 days!

Today: Three classic cartoons that were always aired on Christmas Day when I was a kid. They aren't Christmas cartoons per se, but many readers (of a certain age) may have also seen these growing up. I thought they were really depressing at the time, but there was nothing else on TV on Christmas Day, so we watched them anyway!

The Selfish Giant:







The Happy Prince:







The Little Mermaid:

I couldn't find an embeddable version, but you can find this wonderful 1975 version of The Little Mermaid narrated by Richard Chamberlain here:

Part 1: Click here

Part 2: Click here

Part 3: Click here

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 5 days!

Today: Modern Christmas classics

"When My Heart Finds Christmas" by Harry Connick Jr.:



"Last Christmas" by Wham:



"God Bless Us Everyoen" by Andrea Bocelli:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 6 days!

Today: "Il est né le divin enfant"

Salt Lake City's Children's Choir:



Magnificat:



Castenchel Choir:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 7 days

Today: "Ça bergers assemblons-nous"

Raoul Jobin:



Église Sainte-Angele-de-Merici:



Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Lily Lanken, Martha Wainwright, Sloan Wainwright:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

'Saving money' can be a really costly endeavour

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Editorial page

Never mind cures for all those deadly diseases out there... or a solution to global warming... or a way of putting humans on Mars. Truly, one of the great mysteries of the world is this: What do people do with all that stuff they buy at warehouse outlet stores?

I have yet to figure out why I would need a barrel of mayonnaise, a 20-pound bag of almonds, a case of toothbrushes or half an elephant turned into a delicious tractor trailer full of luncheon meat.

I mean, I could understand if there was an orphanage on every corner full of hungry children -- or if there was a convention of Tiger Woods's mistresses in town -- but there isn't. Who's going to eat all this stuff?

I'm not sure what that allure of these places is. Sure, there are some great deals -- even some fantastic deals -- but not everything is the best price. Their branding, however, makes you think that everything is a deal and that buying in bulk will always save you money. While this may be true in most cases, watching the sales flyers that come out every week can save you a lot of money, too.

I wish I had their branding. They insist that you pay a membership fee before even walking through the doors. And we do it! I do it, too! Then, we have to show proof that we're members and not some poor sucker of a non-member who wants to -- gasp! -- spend money in their establishment.

On our way out, for the privilege of having shopped there, an attendant then goes through our bags to make sure we aren't stealing anything. (All kidding aside, I really find this incredibly offensive. It's the only place I shop that assumes I'm a criminal before I even leave the store. At least the other places only assume I'm a criminal after I set off an alarm.)

So, not only do they make you pay before even walking through the door, they don't trust you on the way out, either -- all for the sake of saving money. Oh, and they don't just accept any payment, you know. It's either their own credit card or cash. Period. Thinking of saving money in addition to collecting points on your credit card? Forget it!

Now, don't get me wrong. It's definitely possible to save money in these places. Some of the deals are outstanding. In my own experience, I can certainly attest to the fact that over-the-counter painkillers, vitamins, cheese and many fresh grocery items are indeed an excellent deal. The only problem is trying to figure out to do with all the stuff once I get home.

If you're like me, you walk into these places with a list. You've been here before and know the dangers. Oh look! A package of a dozen gold necklaces! A crate of 1,000 rolls of toilet tissue! And enough salami to keep you in sandwiches until your daughter's wedding day -- a daughter who just started kindergarten, that is!

So I enter the store, walk around for at least an hour on cold concrete floors, fill my cart and head to the cashier, all with the goal of saving money. Despite my list, I invariably want to buy stuff I don't need, like the time I walked out with a box of 240 tampons. Haven't even used one of the ones I bought last time! And barring a really good surgeon (or a magician with a sick sense of humour), I won't be using any soon.

Even with my list, I see things that are such great deals that it would be insane not to buy them. So, as you've probably guessed, I leave the store with about triple what I expected to buy. By the time I get into the parking lot (having been checked at the door to ensure I wasn't stealing a crate of 100 computer keyboards), there are muffled cries coming from my wallet, which I discover is my debit card.

I open up my wallet and my debit card is wailing and screaming. "You told me you wouldn't do this again! I told you I was tired! Why did you do this to me?" Mascara-stained tears fall easily down its plastic surface. "Stop lying to me and telling me we're going to go save money somewhere when all you're really doing is spending 10 times more than you would have originally... and then you throw out half of it because you can't use it or it goes rotten in the refrigerator."

I like switching brands sometimes, don't you? I can't remember the last time I used the same brand of laundry detergent for more than a few months in a row. With all these "new and improved" products coming out, I want to try the next best thing. I don't want to be stuck married to a brand of laundry detergent only because it was on sale. I want to experiment. Is that so wrong?

That's the problem with these places. Sure, you can save money, but what if you're stuck with a mediocre product when something better is out there? What about all those poor advertising agencies trying to sell you something else? Hey, they need to eat, too, don't they? How can they make a living trying to convince you to buy Mama Cormier's oyster-flavoured ice cream when you already have a garage full of Papa LeBlanc's oyster-flavoured ice cream that you bought on sale at a warehouse?

All I know is that saving money has never been so expensive.

Next time I show up at one of these warehouse stores, I'm taking along a small amount of cash only and not spending a penny more than my budget.

Quite frankly, I can't afford to save all that money!

Christmas 2009 countdown: 8 days!

Today: "Frosty the Snowman"

An original cartoon version from the 1950s:



Loretta Lynn:



Anima Singers:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy anniversary to Hump Day!


This week marks the fourth anniversary of my weekly Hump Day column in the Moncton Times & Transcript. The column debuted on December 14, 2005, and has appeared on the editorial page every Wednesday since -- for more than 200 weeks in a row!

Thanks to the readers for their kind words and support over the years, and thanks as well to everyone over at the Times & Transcript for their support and assistance, especially Norbert Cunningham and John Wishart.

It's been a privilege to write the column and I look forward to writing many more!

This week's Hump Day column...


... is about all the money we "save" by shopping at those warehouse outlets. You know -- the ones where things are supposed to be cheaper.

You've heard of the "dollar store"? Well, warehouse outlets are more like the "couple o' hundred dollars store".

Read all about it on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation daily newspaper.

And remember -- if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Christmas 2009 countdown: 9 days

Today: Retro Christmas cartoons

The Shanty Where Santy Claus Lives (1933):



Tweety and Sylvester in "Gift Wrapped" (1952) (includes bonus retro commercial):



Snow Foolin' (1949):

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 10 days!

Today: "Winter Wonderland" (my favourite Christmas song... even though there's absolutely no mention of Christmas in it...)

Perry Como and Ann Blyth:



Dolly Parton:



Jessica Simpson and Ozzy Osbourne (yes, seriously):



This is my 2,500th post on Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World! :) Woohoo!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 11 days!

Today: Three of my LEAST-favourite Christmas tunes...

"This Christmas" - putrid, depressing, and sounds about as much like Christmas as the wails of mourners around a casket.



"Wonderful Christmas Time" by Paul McCartney. I love Paul McCartney, but this song makes me want to jump off a bridge. Annoying synthesizers. Not very Christmas-like at all!



And my all-time least-favourite: "Driving Home for Christmas" by Chris Rea. If any song is more depressing, I don't know what is. Not so much the sentiment of the song, it's the "tune" itself.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The winner of The X Factor 2009 is...

Joe McElderry!



Joe McElderry sings "The Climb", the winner's song of The X Factor 2009:

Christmas 2009 countdown: 12 days!

Today: "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"

St. Paul's Cathedral Choir:



King's College Cambridge Choir:



Mormon Tabernacle Choir:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 13 days!

Today: "Jingle Bells"

Looney Tunes:



Schroeder:



Brian Setzer Orchestra:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah!

Hanukkah begins at sundown today -- 4:32 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time, to be exact. Here's wishing everyone in the Jewish community a very happy holiday season.

Christmas 2009 countdown: 14 days!

Today: "The 12 Days of Christmas"

John Denver and The Muppets:



Johnny Cash:



And last but not least...

Foster Brooks: (hilarious!!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

This Christmas, try giving the gift of saliva

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

Every year during my holiday season preparations, I go on a Christmas card writing marathon that lasts several hours. Usually, it takes two full evenings.

When it comes to Christmas cards, I turn into the prissiest, fussiest, most judgmental jerk on the planet. Of course, I'm a quasi-saint the rest of the year, don't you know. Just a regular sweetheart, I tell ya!

I do cards the old-fashioned way. I write a personalized message in each one and include a holiday letter, as well.

The entire process takes about a day less than, well, forever!

At the end, I'm like a salmon returning to the river in which it spawned. I'm emaciated, weak and near death. I show up at the post office drifting in and out of consciousness.

Thank goodness for self-adhesive stamps, because I used to get dehydrated licking the old-style ones.

People in line at the post office never seemed to appreciate it when I asked to borrow their saliva, either.

Where's your holiday spirit?

You see, having been born with the 'communication bug,' I have the constant urge to tell everyone what's going on.

When social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook came along, I was in complete heaven. What better way to communicate the minutiae of my life?

"Brian is doing laundry."

"Brian is folding laundry."

"Brian is putting away clean laundry."

"Brian is wondering why he has no friends left."

Before social media sites came along, one major way of communicating with people I rarely got to see was through the Christmas letter.

I know they're not looked upon kindly these days, but I do them anyway. And because of this blasted communication bug from which I've suffered since birth, I spend at least 12 hours putting it together and making sure it's (hopefully) perfect.

Then, I sit down and drag out the many boxes of cards I bought on sale the previous year and get to writing the messages, folding the letters, stuffing the envelopes, sticking on the return address labels as well as those for whom the letters are destined.

Then the stamps go on. It's a huge production since I send out more than 100 cards every year. Have you belched within 10 feet of me in the past year? You get a card!

Most people get a generic card, however I try to choose religious ones for those people I know who are avid churchgoers.

Then there are the French cards for those who would prefer them. Finally, there are the specialized cards for relatives, such as the mothers, fathers, siblings, etc.

I take card-giving seriously. It's a science. And yes, I need to admit right now that my cats give a card to my mother's dog. (If this were a movie, this is the part where I'd get a close-up shot and hoarsely whisper, "Help me!")

If you're going to get serious about sending out good old-fashioned cards, make sure you're organized. Having all your recipients' addresses in a database is essential, especially if you have a large number of people on your list.

I thank my lucky stars for a computer. Without it, I wouldn't be able to get through the ordeal.

Now, here's where I become a judgmental jerk. I expect the same from everyone.

Yeah, a full-colour professional-looking letter and a personalized card. Of course, I can forgive the lack of a letter since it's a lot of work, but at least take the time to write a few paltry words on the card rather than just signing your name.

Just seeing a name signed on a card isn't very personal. I want a note, preferably written in blood. Oh, and sending me a sheet of Christmas stationery with a generic "Merry Xmas" on it doesn't cut it, either. Try harder than that!

How about, "Brian, you were the light of my universe in 2009. Without your support, guidance and wisdom, I would have withered on the vine of life and fell to the ground to rot like an unpicked apple in a lonely, pitiful orchard.

"The moon, stars and all the angels in heaven smile down upon you. I love you more than I love my own children. I love you more than I love my dog. My face is encrusted with the dried saltiness of the tears of happiness I shed every night just thinking about your presence in my life."

Now, was that so hard?

Beats opening up a card obviously made in China ("Merry Cristmass!") and signed only with a name like Jim, Troy, Becky or Gertrude.

I hope you didn't strain yourselves, folks. Let me know when the hospital visiting hours are so that I can visit you in the cardiac care unit after the heart attack you gave yourselves from trying too hard.

Meanwhile, I've had to have a saliva gland transplant after licking all those envelopes. I also have to come up with a story for my boss after missing a week's worth of work, and have a stack of hate mail from the letter carriers' union blaming me for being solely responsible for about 95 per cent of all disability claims within the system.

Even worse are those who forget to send me a card until they've received mine. You know, the ones who either procrastinated or took you off their Christmas card list only to send an ugly pity card in the mail to you after receiving yours?

By "pity card", I mean one of those charity cards from people who paint with their eyelashes, their navels, or whatever else they can stick a paintbrush in; the ones you only send to people you don't like. Yeah, I know the drill. Been there, done that. You can't scam me.

And you'd better hope you don't get an ugly pity card from me this year, because you know what that will mean!

Christmas 2009 countdown: 15 days!

Today: "Away in a Manger"

Ciara:



Adam Crabb:



St. John's College Choir:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Today's Hump Day column...

... is about the lost art of sending Christmas cards... and some of my pet peeves surrounding that.

Check out Hump Day on the editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation newspaper.

If it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

The column will also be posted online here tomorrow.

Christmas 2009 countdown: 16 days!

Today: "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

Aled Jones:



Pipe Organ version:



Phil Driscoll:

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Recognize this guy?

You'll never guess who this is! This once cute-as-a-button TV little brother has turned out to be quite the hooligan. Click on the photo to find out who it is.

Click here for more on the story.

John Lennon died 29 years ago today



Christmas 2009 countdown: 17 days!

Today: "Mary's Boy Child"

Boney M:



Tom Jones:



Vienna Boys Choir, with Grace Bumbry:

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 18 days!

Today: "The Chipmunk Song / Please Christmas Don't Be Late"

Alvin and the Chipmunks:



Jack Reichert and Bruce Kayser:



Steve James:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 19 days!

Today: "Pretty Paper"

Roy Orbison:



Willie Nelson:



Kevin King with the Country Cookin' Band:

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 20 days

Today: "Blue Christmas"

Elvis Presley:



Engelbert Humperdinck:



Martina McBride:

Friday, December 04, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 21 days!

Today: "O Come All Ye Faithful"

Celtic Women:



Libera:



American Sign Language:

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Some of our Christmas songs have odd lyrics

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial page

The fact that the Christmas season is here is pretty obvious. The parades are mostly over already. The houses are getting decorated one by one. Santa's in the mall. The Christmas cards and letters are being written and prepared for sending.

Most importantly, people actually like talking about Christmas at this time of the year. I'm one of those very annoying persons who starts looking forward to the holiday season early, so I'm constantly dropping references in conversations, in columns and in social media circles such as Facebook or Twitter. I've notice the tide turning in recent weeks. The threats on my life that I was experiencing two months ago calmed down to a kick in the shins a month ago. Now, most are actually happy that Christmas is here.

As someone who (annoyingly, again, I must emphasize) starts listening to Christmas music when the leaves are still green on the trees, I must say that I've been puzzled by many of the lyrics I've been hearing. Some of them are downright nonsensical, while others require a doctorate in medieval history to even barely figure them out.

First up, let's take a look at "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," made famous by Andy Williams and kept alive by Staples through their back-to-school commercials that start airing in late July and early August.

"There'll be parties for hosting / Marshmallows for toasting / And carolling out in the snow / There'll be scary ghost stories / And tales of the glories of Christmases long, long ago."

Now, I get the parties for hosting. Makes sense. Christmas is the season for parties, no? Carolling out in the snow... well, I've never actually seen carollers out in the snow other than on Christmas cards, but that makes sense, as well. Tales from long ago? Yes, we've all heard how our parents basically got a half-chewed peppermint and a tuft of grandpa's back hair for Christmas and everyone screamed with delight and felt lucky to have that. And then they all nibbled on their peppermint until Easter and stuffed a sock with grandpa's back hair (that they'd all pooled together as a family) to make a doll for everyone to play with. Sounds... thrilling.

I do have to take issue with "Marshmallows for toasting", since I know of no one who actually does that in their home, although it's plausible. Considering how kids are so over-protected these days, I doubt they'd be able to get 10 feet from the fireplace (if you have one) or be laden down with some sort of a fireproof uniform so specialized that they could put out the sun without breaking a sweat.

The one I don't get is the part about scary ghost stories. I realize that A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, however reading the book out loud at Christmas would take hours, even though it's relatively short by Charles Dickens' standards. Besides, the kids have grandpa's back hair to play with -- and who can resist that?

I can just imagine two parents sitting around on Christmas Eve... Father with his pipe and slippers... Mother with her knitting... "Mother," Father would say. "It's Christmas Eve and all's quiet through the house. The children are sleeping and Santa Claus will be here soon to drop off all the presents. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Yes, dear. I do believe I am," Mother would respond, not missing a stitch from the pair of mittens she's working on. And then Father would say, "Yes, Mother, let's go scare the pants off the children with some scary ghost stories, shall we? After all, it's what people do at Christmas, isn't it?" An hour later, the kids are crying and hysterical and clinging to each other like they're on the Titanic. Just screams Merry Christmas, doesn't it? I hope Santa wears a bullet-proof vest coming down that chimney!

Then there's "Here Comes Suzy Snowflake," a song I heard on a Rosemary Clooney Christmas CD that I have. "Here comes Suzy Snowflake / Dressed in a snow white gown / Tap, tap, tappin' at your window pane / To tell you she's in town."

OK, Suzy... just some advice. Don't be banging on my windows on Christmas Eve and expect me to be happy to see you.

In fact, you'd probably scare the living daylights out of me, leading to a scene more like out of the movie Halloween rather than the mirror image of a nice, peaceful Christmas card that you were hoping for.

My house would be surrounded with yellow police tape, the coroner's car parked in my driveway, sirens wailing, and -- just outside my now broken window (from the crossbow shot), a big indent in the snow that's stained red. Use the doorbell next time, Suzy. It's safer.

The lyrics to "Up on the Housetop" are equally baffling. "Next comes the stocking of little Will / Oh, just see what a glorious fill / Here is a hammer and lots of tacks / Also a ball and a whip that cracks."

Sweet mother of all that his holy! I can just imagine if I gave my sister's four-year-old son this stuff. I'd be banished from his life forever.

A hammer and tacks... oh sure... that's the first thing that came to mind for someone who can only make it to the bathroom on time three times out of four. And a ball to bounce continuously? Yeah, Mommy would love that.

And a whip too?

Might as well put him on the waiting list for an artificial eye right now and beat the crowd.

I don't know about some of these crazy songs. None of them are particularly true to the real meaning of Christmas. They've been around for years and I suppose we're stuck with them for now, though.

And folks, if you're looking for something to give Suzy Snowflake this year, how about some doorbell ringing lessons?

Christmas 2009 countdown: 22 days!

Today: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

Twentyone Hundred Productions:



Trace Bundy and Josh Garrels:



The Clark Sisters:

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 23 days!

Today: "The Little Drummer Boy"

Bing Crosby and David Bowie:



Charlotte Church:



Jars of Clay:

This week's Hump Day column...



... is about how the lyrics to some Christmas tunes don't make much sense or are just plain crazy.

Read Hump Today on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation daily newspaper.

It will be posted online here tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 24 days!

Today: "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"

Perry Como:



Clarion Singers:



The Osmonds:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Metrotones and First Moncton United Baptist Choir Christmas concert tonight!



The popular Metrotones choir holds its annual Christmas concert tonight, along with the First Moncton United Baptist Choir. Unfortunately (for us... fortunate for them), it's sold out!

Thanks to my highly unpaid correspondent Walt Forsey for sending along another great report to Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World.

Community Christmas concerts are the best, aren't they? Really gets one in the holiday spirit!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The secret to your success is deceptively simple

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial page

If you read last week's column, you may remember my lamenting that nothing momentous happened in the previous seven days, leaving me little choice but to whine and complain that everything was going relatively well. The result: nothing much to write about, except for the fact that I had nothing much to write about!

Karma's a funny thing, because whenever you challenge the universe to do something for you, it does. My message to the universe last week, then, was for something big to happen... something that would make a good column.

My column came out on Wednesday morning. Evidently, officials from the International Association of Karma Revenge Seekers (IAKRS) were reading the newspaper that day, because an urgent alert went out to the field to make sure that some momentous event would occur that would make it into this week's column. Secret agents were dispersed to cause mayhem where none previously existed. Shadowy figures lurked in hallways. Gremlins climbed through trees looking for some trouble to cause.

By Wednesday evening, the IAKRS had hatched their plan. Indeed, I would have something to write about this week. The thing about these pests, though, is that they don't care for whom they cause trouble. It doesn't have to be me, personally. Indeed, it can be someone close to me -- be they family, friends or work colleagues. Suffice it to say, the next time that I write a column complaining about a dearth of subject matter, everyone who's ever met me should pretty much hide in a cave somewhere or lock themselves in a bunker for the next week, preferably a bunker full of pillows to cushion whatever havoc comes their way.

Within about 12 hours of last week's column being published, my poor uncle, aunt and cousin -- who unbeknownst to me or them had been chosen by the IAKRS as the sorry targets for karmic revenge -- were driving through the city on the way home from an evening out when they were in a major three-vehicle accident resulting in two vehicles being written off, including theirs. Luckily, there were no serious injuries, justt some very shaken up people and lots of bruises.

After the ambulances, fire trucks, police and tow trucks had left the scene, there was not much evidence left behind that something bad had happened. Bruises eventually heal. Achy bodies eventually heal, too. The loss of confidence for driving can definitely take a hit, however. Already a nervous driver at the best of times, I urged my aunt to take the wheel again as soon as possible so that she didn't let the fear of another accident get the best of her. Like they say, once you fall off a horse, it's better to get right back on or risk never riding again.

Of course, that's easy for me to say. However, after a bad car accident years ago, I was back into a rental car within just a few hours. I had no choice. Quite simply, I needed to get around. Like my relatives, I was not in the wrong and was just an innocent bystander in a three-car pileup that left written-off cars and badly shaken drivers, but luckily no permanent physical injuries. Not having anyone else to drive me around, I was forced to get right back in the saddle as a matter of practicality.

Many people believe being afraid or nervous of something is something that 'happens' to us... something over which we have little or no control. Actually, being fearful is a decision. If one decides not to be fearful, you simply will not be. If you psyche yourself up to the point where just looking at a car is terrifying -- in the case of your reaction after a bad accident -- then the chances of ever driving again are slim.

You'd be surprised at how our own minds can limit our behaviour. Don't give this negative emotion more power than it deserves.

It's not just fear over which we have control, it's many other things -- in fact, most other things. Ever wonder why some people get rich while others remain poor? It's not luck. There's no magic formula. There's no secret potion conjured up by a witch over a steaming cauldron of lizard gizzards. Quite simply, the person who got rich decided to get rich. As simple as that is, it's also profound.

Whether it's hopping back in the saddle, getting behind the wheel of the car, or deciding to become rich, it's all up to you. The decision is yours.

We sometimes can't avoid adversity or accidents. They're part of life. Well, I take that back. We can indeed avoid these by staying home tied to a chair so that we never leave the house.

Pretty hard to get into trouble then, eh? Well, except if the house starts to burn down.

I wish more people realized how simply making decisions not to be scared, not to be nervous, or to get financially comfortable were things in our control.

I wish someone who's very successful would give a speech like this to a graduating class:

"Ladies and gentlemen, and members of the graduating class of the Brian Cormier Memorial Donkey Grooming School, I was invited here today to share with you my secret for success. How did I become so financially comfortable? How did I achieve my dreams? How did I get such a great life?"

"Well, my friends, I'll tell you how I became so successful. Here's the secret... the incredibly fascinating technique I used. Drum roll, please. Here it is: I decided to."

Whether it's a car, a horse, or life itself... just decide and you'll get back on track.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One month to go 'til Ho! Ho! Ho!

Seems hard to believe, but the official one-month countdown is on to the arrival of Jolly Ol' St. Nick! Radio stations will be cranking out the Christmas tunes, the holiday parades will be in full swing and the malls will be packed! And we can't forget all those great traditional TV specials. Be safe and have fun!

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about our choices in life. We can choose fear, or we can choose success. We can choose rich, or we can choose poor. We can choose to accomplish, or we can choose to fail. We're not just marionettes on so-called celestial strings. We have choices... and we can make things happen.

Check out today's Hump Day on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation newspaper.

If it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Celebrity chef Paula Deen hit in face with ham

Celebrity chef Paula Deen was hit in the face today by an eight-pound ham while unloading them as part of her donation to a local charity organization. She used Twitter later to tell everyone that she was fine. "Y'all are so sweet, yes, I'm fine. Now get out there and give till it hurts (maybe not ham to the face hurts)"

Click here for a news article on the incident.

See the video of the incident below:



Is it just me, or does her hubby (with the beard at the end of the shot) not look terribly concerned?

Launch of the new Blues on the Boulevard DVD -- you need to buy this!!

Monday, November 30, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Delta Beauséjour Hotel in Moncton. Don't miss the release of this awesome DVD starring the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, Matt Andersen and Les Muses. A perfect Christmas gift!!

I attended the concert back in March and can't wait to get a copy so that I can relive the energy and magic in the room that night. It was incredible!

Click on the photo for a larger version.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

In memoriam: Marie Florine Sisk (1921-2009)



This is a memorial video for my friend Tammy Sisk's grandmother - Marie Florine Sisk (December 29, 1921 - November 4, 2009). It was created by Tammy's sister Kelly Sisk Matchett. Rest in peace.

SISK, MARIE FLORINE The peaceful passing of Marie Florine Sisk occurred Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario. Born in Rogersville, NB on Dec. 29, 1921, she was the daughter of the late Caroline Bourque and Onesime Aucoin. She was predeceased by her husband of 57 years, Arthur Sisk. She is survived by her 8 children, Morrill (Myrtle, Newcastle), Danny (Annette, Moncton), Brian (Juliette, Tracadie), Charlene (Don, Ottawa), Jane (Toronto), Perry (Mary Anne, Halifax), Carolyn (Brad, Fredericton) and Eric (Cathy, Barrie); 15 grand- children and 6 great-grandchildren as well as fond niece Joyce Longo (Winslow, Me). She enjoyed close relationships with her sisters-in-law Margaret, Anita and Odette and many long-time friends. Mom raised her large family during the time of no modern conveniences and remembered the introduction of many work saving inventions, her favourites being running water and the washing machine. She loved to cook and after school we were often greeted with the delicious smell of homemade bread or dessert for supper that night. And her wonderful chicken fricot! As Dad worked for CN, Mom moved many times throughout their marriage, no small feat with small children under foot. After his passing, she enjoyed the company of friends and family and was always ready for a road trip, especially if it was to the nearest Frenchy's. She spent her last year under the care of her daughter, Jane, and we are all thankful that Mom was able to stay at home for so long. Funeral services will be held at 12:00 noon, Saturday, November 21, 2009, St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, Lincoln, NB. For those who wish, memorial tributes in Florine's memory may be made to the Canadian Cancer Society or a charity of the donor's choice.