Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's FREEZING in Moncton these days...

A cold air mass from Siberia (!) is hanging over us and making it quite chilly!

Check out this video from Moncton YouTuber Newschaser for some scenes taken yesterday of how cold it is!

At 8 a.m. today, the windchill factor was -41C (-41F). Brrrrr!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stanley, New Brunswick, vying for distinction of Kraft Hockeyville 2009

I received the following e-mail from my friend Jody Pinnock, who's trying to get his hometown of Stanley, New Brunswick, voted as Kraft's "Hockeyville 2009". To win this distinction (not to mention at least $25,000... and potentially $100,000 and the opportunity to host a NHL pre-season game), Stanley needs your online votes!

Here's Jody's message:

"In case you didn't watch the Kraft Hockeyville 2009 special that was broadcast on CBC on Wednesday, January 14, it was announced that Stanley, New Brunswick, is in the TOP 10 for Hockeyville 2009! To help us get to Top 5 (and a minimum of $25,000 in prize money), we need everyone voting for us. We have until Sunday, January 18, to vote. Voting is unlimited and I have attached the link for more voting details.


Thanks for your support!!"

Good luck, Stanley!

I've voted. Have you? Besides, how can you not vote for a contestant with the same name as the Stanley Cup? Huh?

For a recent news story on Stanley's efforts, click here!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Early hockey days are great for memories

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

I live across from a large park with tennis and basketball courts and a playground. For the first time this year, the city put up boards around the basketball court and someone from the neighbourhood is maintaining a nice outdoor rink on which kids can play hockey or skate. What a great idea!

Now that the weather's colder, kids are actually starting to use the rink. Parents are practising with their budding young athletes. I've even seen some teaching their young ones how to skate -- all in the great outdoors. How Canadian! It's such a nice thing to see. Watching them reminds me of my own beginnings in minor hockey nearly 38 years ago.

Picture it: the fall of 1971. My younger brother and I are equipped for our first year of minor hockey. While I'm sure he very much wanted to get involved, I was probably brought kicking and screaming every bit of the way. I may have been the "brain" of the family, but he was definitely the athlete.

I couldn't even skate. I'm sure I was downright painful to watch as I fell every which way. I could write here that whenever I fell, I heard the music from the Rocky movie in my head (even though the movie hadn't even been made yet) and got myself up and continued until a scout from the NHL discovered me and I was drafted onto the team that won the Stanley Cup that year.

But what really happened, likely, was that I had a crying temper tantrum and just wanted to go home to watch Saturday morning cartoons on television. What did I need to learn to skate for, anyway?

Eventually, I learned to skate forward. Skating backwards and stopping were skills that would come later. Considering my lack of athletic prowess, I was lucky to remain standing on the ice, let alone trying out for the Olympic figure skating team, so I was quite happy simply to be able to skate forward. Life was good.

We played our first game. We were so young that we only got to play on half the ice surface. Pieces of large wood were brought out onto the middle of the ice to separate the two games going on. Nervous parents sat in the bleachers below heaters. In addition to mittens and parkas, they also kept warm with cups of coffee and hot chocolate, as well as cigarettes. (Remember, this was the early 1970s.)

I don't remember how many weeks we played before I scored my first goal. I think it was rather quickly, actually. Wow! My first goal of what was to be a nine-year minor hockey career.

Clearly, however, there was lack of training provided on the basic rules of the game. Why weren't my teammates cheering for me? Why weren't their parents jumping up and down and yelling "Atta boy!" from the bleachers like they'd done so many times for my fellow players? What was I? Chopped liver?

And those rule explanations? Well, someone had evidently forgotten to tell me that I was supposed to put the puck in the other team's net, not my own. That glorious goal I'd just scored was on my own team. I shamed my teammates... my family... myself.

Actually, my parents probably chuckled with sympathy and thought how pitiful it was. That is, until they saw the looks of disgust from the other parents who had quickly turned into those hockey parents for whom winning means everything.

That probably changed my parents' attitude right then and there. They likely immediately started looking through the telephone book for a good (or even bad) orphanage that was open for intakes on the weekend. My brother probably laughed his head off with glee to see his big oaf of an older and bossy brother humiliated. My teammates probably wanted to lynch me, but I was twice their size, so I was left alone.

Thankfully, of the two other goals I scored over the next nine years (let's just say that Wayne Gretzky never put out on a contract on my life to keep me out of the NHL), they were made into the opposing teams' nets.

I don't remember the circumstances of the second goal at all, but remember the third one as a complete fluke shot taken at the net through a bunch of other players. The goalie didn't see it and it went in.

I nearly died with shock. "Me?" I remember asking. "I got a goal?"

Then I looked around quite panicked to make sure the goalie on whom I'd just scored was wearing the other team's jersey, the memory of that unfortunate first goal during my 1971-72 rookie season burned into my brain.

Phew! He was.

My brother eventually made the provincial teams, but I languished in the house league.

I clearly remember my father calling the coach a few times to make sure I got a bit more ice time. Apparently, I was being left on the bench during games because I wasn't that good.

Hopefully, coaches are more aware of the sense of fair play these days and play everyone equally. I think they do.

That's a good thing, trust me.

Despite my lack of skills at playing the game, I do remember my minor hockey years with fondness.

The smells and echoes of the rinks... the friends... the great feeling when we won a game. It's also how I got to know many of my neighbours.

I hope those kids learning to skate and practising their hockey skills in the park share those same memories, too, some day.

They're good memories to have.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about the trials and tribulations of my unspectacular nine-year minor hockey career. Read all about it on the editorial page of today's Moncton Times & Transcript! It will be posted online here tomorrow.

Debbie Meyer Green Bags

Just a quick note to let readers know that I bought some of these several months ago but have just got around to trying them.

One word: Amazing! As far as I'm concerned, they're absolutely phenomenal and do exactly what they promise to do... extend the life and freshness of food!

The parsley I bought last week is holding up extremely well. If stored in the plastic bags you get in the produce section of the grocery store, the parsley would have been rotted mush by now!

Try them! You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My very own version of Y2K!

This is Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World!'s 2,000th (!!!!!!!) blog post!

And I don't feel a day over 1,999!

Thank you to everyone who's submitted comments and to everyone who reads this blog on a regular basis. I truly appreciate your support!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today is a sad anniversary in New Brunswick: Remembering The Boys in Red

One year ago, seven basketball players from Bathurst High School and their coach's wife were killed in a horrific accident during a snow storm just minutes away from arriving home from a basketball tournament they attended in Riverview.

Today, we remember:

  • Javier Acevedo
  • Codey Branch
  • Nathan Cleland
  • Justin Cormier
  • Daniel Hains
  • Nick Kelly
  • Nick Quinn
  • Elizabeth Lord
The boys' joint funeral was attended by thousands and aired across Canada live on national television. To say the least, the tragedy gripped the attention of the nation.

Here is a tribute video that I produced last year:

I also wrote a column that touched on the tragedy:

Again New Brunswick weeps for its children

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Moncton Times & Transcript

Back in September, when the four boys from Harrison Trimble High School died, I'm sure everyone thought we'd seen the worst possible situation that one school could experience in this province.

In fact, only one other community in Canada -- to my knowledge -- had seen something worse, that being Thornbury, Ontario, which saw five young people around the same ages die in one accident last year.

This past weekend, lightning struck twice when an accident involving the Bathurst High School basketball team killed a mind-boggling seven players and an adult chaperone, a popular teacher in her own right and the wife of the team's coach who was driving the van when it hit the tractor trailer.

The enormity of this calamity has sent shockwaves of grief through this small city already hurting from job losses. Indeed, the entire country has taken notice. Sports teams all over have held moments of silence before games. Memorials abound.

Dignitaries from across Canada have sent their condolences to the school and the community. Thousands upon thousands have joined Facebook groups set up to remember those who died.

We will remember Codey Branch, Daniel Hains, Nick Quinn, Nick Kelly, Javier Acevedo, Justin Cormier, Nathan Cleland and Beth Lord.

We also must remember those who were injured in the accident, including two other players, coach Wayne Lord and his daughter.

The ordeal for Mr. Lord is enormous. Not only did he lose most of his team, but his wife, as well. His daughter who was accompanying them on the trip was also injured. As the driver of the vehicle, I can only imagine the intense grief he is experiencing. I hope, however, that he knows he is not to blame. Weather conditions have done in the best of drivers regardless of how careful they were. Be strong.

I can only imagine, also, the immense sadness and shock that permeated these eight homes early Saturday morning when the news was made known. The telephone calls to relatives, the brothers and sisters awakened in the middle of the night, the grandparents receiving calls from their own distraught children. The tears... oh, the endless rivers of tears! The cries of parents finding out that their child had died.

The online messages have been heartbreaking, from relatives and friends... teachers... and those who didn't even know the victims. A grief-stricken uncle of one of the boys noted his frustration at being stuck at a work camp in Alberta, but promised to be home right away. In the meantime, he thanked those online for the condolences and for making him feel better by seeing that his family was not alone in their grief.

Today, the funeral for the seven boys is being held at the K.C. Irving Regional Civic Centre. Thousands will be on hand to celebrate their lives and to say goodbye -- or as I prefer to think of it -- to say simply "see you later."

They played as a team. They died as a team. They leave as a team.

Back in September 2007, I wrote the following about what I believed Brandon, Corey, Jared and Jimmy from Harrison Trimble would want to say:

"Honour us by living your lives to the fullest. Grieve because you are human, but remember to live because you are human, too.”

"One day in the future when you find yourselves laughing at something, don't feel guilty because we're not there to laugh with you. When you find yourselves able to feel joy again, laugh with all your heart -- and laugh loudly and heartily. Talk to us often. We can hear you. And remember that we'll see you again one day."

Codey, Daniel, Nick Q., Nick K., Javier, Justin, Nathan and Beth would, I dare say, likely say something similar. They can hear you.

By the sheer mathematical odds of the huge number of people intensely affected by this accident, it's a realistic affirmation that some will never get over this and be able to move on with their lives. The loss may be too great to bear. It is my sincere hope that the country's compassion gives you strength at this time of sorrow and that one day you will be able to laugh again and to truly enjoy life.

In time, most will move on, albeit with a hole in their heart. As time passes, it will get easier. You will never forget, but you'll be able to forge ahead as best you can.

And one day, hopefully when you're a little old lady or a little old man, you'll take that walk toward the light that we'll all take one day... and in the distance will be that boy you raised... the brother you haven't seen in eons... the friend you cried yourself to sleep over. You'll smile a smile as bright as a thousand suns as he and the rest of that heavenly welcoming committee walk you across the threshold into eternity.

Until then, don't forget to live. Laugh. Love. Travel. Raise your children. Enjoy life... maybe not this week... or even this year... but you will enjoy it again one day once today's terrible grief fades. Do it for yourself. Do it for them. Do it for all those young New Brunswickers who have so tragically lost their lives in the past six months on our roads.

In the meantime, a heartbroken province once again weeps for its lost children.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A new bell for Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Riverview

Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Riverview recently blessed and inaugurated its new bell. Thanks to Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World! regular contributor Walt Forsey for this report. His reports are always appreciated!

I don't own a Wii...

... but even I know NOT to let go of the hand remote... It was just reflexes, I guess!

Flashback favourites: "Virginia - Touch Me Like You Do" by Bill Amesbury

And here's another 70s song from Music Power, an old K-tel LP I used to have as a kid.