Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, Matt Andersen and Les Muses teaming up for Blues on the Boulevard concert in Moncton - Saturday, March 28, 2009!

New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, blues artist Matt Andersen and reunited Acadian quartet Les Muses teaming up for Blues on the Boulevard concert in Moncton

MONCTON, NB – The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra’s (NBYO) final concert of the 2008-09 season promises to be a one-of-a-kind musical event that will treat fans to not only the music of Canada’s pre-eminent youth orchestra, but also the talent of one of the country’s hottest blues artists and a reunion of a very popular Acadian singing group.

The East Coast Music Award-winning NBYO, legendary New Brunswick-born blues musician Matt Andersen and Acadian vocal quartet Les Muses will perform in the orchestra’s final concert of the season during an event branded Blues on the Boulevard at the Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre on Saturday, March 28, at 8 p.m. Les Muses will open the show prior to the NBYO and Matt Andersen taking the stage together.

“This is one of our most ambitious productions yet,” said Ken MacLeod, president of the NBYO. “The blend of a full orchestra and a blues musician like Matt Andersen will be an event not to be missed. It will be an evening full of surprises and great music. Something like this doesn’t happen every day.”

“The one-night-only reunion of Les Muses also promises to be a very special opportunity to once again delight in their wonderful harmonies,” MacLeod said. “They are coming out of retirement to give our season finale that extra bit of class!”

Tickets for the concert are on sale now and are available in person at the Moncton Coliseum box office, by telephone at (506) 857-4100 or toll-free at 1-888-720-5600, or online at Only 1,800 tickets are available and are expected to sell out fast for this unique concert. Tickets are $25 for adults and $18.50 for seniors and students.

New Brunswick Lieutenant-Governor Herménégilde Chiasson, well-known for his passion for the arts, will bring greetings to fans before the concert. Premier Shawn Graham and his wife Roxanne Reeves are also scheduled to be in attendance.

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra is composed of 90 young English and French-speaking men and women from throughout New Brunswick who range in age from 12 to 22. The NBYO is under the inspired direction of conductor James Mark, now in his 15th year with the orchestra.

The orchestra has performed across Canada and internationally, including in Italy and China. It has also performed on stage at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Its “Forbidden City Tour” CD recorded during its tour of China won the 2008 East Coast Music Award (ECMA) for Classical Recording of the Year.

New Brunswick's Matt Andersen, nominated for two ECMAs this year, has a larger than life showmanship that has been earning him a fervent and steadfast audience wherever he graces the stage. Matt's sprawling blues, roots and rock musical hybrid with his sorrowing and soulful voice has sparked a phenomenal buzz on Canada’s East Coast and that grassroots word of mouth cannot be contained any longer!

Matt has also shared the stage and toured with America, Randy Bachman, the late Bo Diddley, Little Feat and a host of others. Matt’s hectic touring schedule includes over 200 live dates a year that encompass North America and the rest of the world.

Les Muses have performed throughout the world, including across Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Louisiana, France, Belgium and Switzerland. From 2000 to 2005, the year they disbanded, the quartet performed more than 500 concerts. Despite this, Isabelle Bujold, Nadine Hébert, Monique Poirier and Isabelle Thériault reunite every year for a Christmas concert. On March 28th, they will reunite to help the NBYO finish off its season in style. Les Muses will be the opening act for Blues on the Boulevard.

For more information, visit the concert’s website at

Blues on the Boulevard is presented by TD Bank Financial Group.


Media contact:

Don Matheson
Executive Director
New Brunswick Youth Orchestra
(506) 872-2973

The New Brunswick Youth Orchestra (NBYO) recently announced Blues on the Boulevard, their 2008-09 end-of-season concert to be held on March 28 at the Wesleyan Celebration Centre in Moncton. The NBYO will be performing with international blues artist Matt Andersen, while popular Acadian quartet Les Muses will open the show. Shown from left to right: Monique Poirier, Les Muses; Joey Roy, NBYO; Nadine Hébert, Les Muses; Ken MacLeod, NBYO; Matt Andersen. (Photo by David Corkum)

On Facebook? Click here to join the Blues on the Boulevard Facebook group!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Moncton SPCA pets: Meet Shiloh!

Shiloh is currently the longest resident dog at the Moncton SPCA. Click here for his profile on the Moncton SPCA website. Do you have room in your heart for a pet? If so, please consider Shiloh!

Great editorial cartoon

This is a very touching editorial cartoon by Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Rex Babin regarding the recent plane crash into New York City's Hudson River. Miraculously, everyone survived. The title of the cartoon is "Miracle". For more editorial cartoons by Rex Babin, visit his page on the Sacrameno Bee's website. Many thanks to reader Jeanne Wood for putting me on to this!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Being so monumentally stupid it scares you

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Page

Have you ever done something so stupid that you scare yourself? I don't mean something stupid like buying a pair of shoes you can't afford or even marrying someone you know you don't love. Those are on one level of stupidity, but they're not check-yourself-into-the-loony-bin stupid.

Nor am I talking about jumping over the barrier at the local zoo to give a lion a belly rub. That's just taking a risk.

Same as going for a swim among the sharks in a wet suit made up entirely of raw steak. Those are dumb risks, too... but just risks.

If the lion loves belly rubs and is being a sooky-baby that day because he's sick with a cold, you may just get away with it. If the sharks have toothaches or have converted to vegetarianism, you may also be in luck and get away without having your loved ones needing to dig around your house the next day for your will.

No, I'm talking about doing something that is so beyond crazy that you just have to shake your head and snicker at the ludicrousness of it all. In fact, after this, I very nearly drove myself to the hospital to check myself in.

If you read my column last week, you may remember that the shelf in my laundry room and I had a little disagreement. I didn't pay attention to what I was doing when I was putting things in the dryer, and when I went to straighten up after closing the dryer door, I pretty much left half my brain hanging off the corner of the shelf. In other words, I experienced "shelfageddon".

If that wasn't bad enough, later that day I once again decided to get into an unintentional head-butting contest with the same shelf, leaving another chunk of my brain hanging from the corner. I'm just now regaining my sense of smell. I can't see the colour green. And whenever I go to cough, I start barking Jingle Bells.

Let's just say that something ain't right in Cormier Towers.

To add insult to injury, I pretty much sawed off my right arm at the shoulder when I stupidly refused to use the finger safety device on a new mandolin slicer I was using for the first time. Those safety gadgets are for wimps, I thought!

Wimps indeed! I certainly wasn't feeling too manly afterwards running around the neighbourhood crying like a newborn and screaming for someone to staple my arm back on! My desperate trip around the neighbourhood was made necessary after I discovered, much to my chagrin, that cats aren't very good at using staplers.

So back to the colossally stupid thing I did. I stumbled into work last Monday morning hoping no one would notice the missing arm and the fact that my skull was being held together by duct tape. Thankfully, my colleagues accepted my radical fashion pronouncement that "Duct tape is the new Tilley hat!" at its word. I was left alone in my misery after that.

I managed to find my way into my office. If I closed one eye, I no longer saw double, so that helped. Hmmm... maybe that would explain the blood-curdling screams from pedestrians all along my drive to work. Maybe I should have driven with one eye closed. (By the way, properly motivated, little old ladies can move surprisingly fast!)

So I'm at work and turn on my computer. I take a sip of water and it goes down the wrong pipe. I bark Jingle Bells for a few minutes and eventually regain my somewhat shaky composure.

Eventually, I managed to type up some sort of report. Hopefully it made sense. To make sure, I decided to print it to read it (with one eye closed, of course). I got up and went to wait for it to come out of the printer.

I dragged myself over and waited. And waited. And waited.

Okay, I know I'm only working with half a brain, but I should know how to print a document. You just push "print" and it prints. Right?

I could even hear it print, but nothing was coming out.

Despite perhaps a few minor exaggerations (moi?) of the injuries I sustained in the savage attack by the shelf, I now strongly suspected that, all joking aside, I had suffered a serious injury.

Eventually, it became quite apparent as to why my document wasn't coming out. I finally realized that I was standing in front of the office's coffee machine waiting for it to be printed. "I can hear you print, you blasted piece of paper! Now where are you? Don't try to hide from me!"

I know there are some fancy-shmancy coffee machines out there (ours is pretty fancy!), but the ability to print documents and make coffee at the same time isn't part of its repertoire. I stood there slowly blinking at the spout where the coffee usually comes out, then over at the "real" printer across the room. I silently readjusted the duct tape on my head, choked back a tear of embarrassment, barked a verse of Jingle Bells and limped nonchalantly over to the printer where I found my much sought after report.

Eventually, I felt the need to admit my faux pas to my colleagues just in case someone saw me waiting at the coffee machine for my document. We all laughed heartily. And in the corner of my laundry room at home, a lone shelf chuckled evilly, too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today's Hump Day...

... is part two of my "bang my head on the shelf" story. I didn't know I'd have a part two... but I did.

Why? Well, you'll just have to check out today's editorial page of the Moncton Times & Transcript or come back here tomorrow to read about it online!

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

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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Maverick’s Steakhouse & Grill in Moncton disappoints by trying to pass off “squat lobster” as the real thing

I used to write a restaurant review column called The Two Fat Guys. My friend and co-author Bob Morton and I originated the column in 2004. When I left the column two years later in 2006, I thought I had said all I had to say! After all, there are only so many things you can write about the freshness of a salad or the quality of a steak. After 100+ columns, I’d run out of steam.

An experience late last week, however, drove me nuts. On Friday, I had a business luncheon at Maverick’s Steakhouse & Grill on Mapleton Road. One of my colleagues ordered the lobster roll, obviously wanting a nice refreshing taste of Maritime seafood to energize her from noon until to supper time.

After a bite or two, she asked me if the lobster roll tasted “off”. To her, it tasted "too fishy". With my knife, I took a bit of the lobster mixture. It didn’t taste spoiled... it just didn’t taste like lobster. It tasted fake.

She sent it back to the kitchen and the waitress returned to announce that it was not lobster, but a substitute – kind of like fake crab meat (crab-flavoured pollock). We took that to mean that it was lobster-flavoured pollock being sold as real lobster. In fact, this is what their lunch menu says word for word (at least of the time of this posting):

Lobster Roll
Chunks of delicious Lobster Meat
with Real Mayo, Celery & shredded Lettuce
on a butter-grilled French loaf.

I couldn’t believe it. The restaurant appeared to be blatantly misleading customers by feeding them something other than what was advertised. Were they not worried about allergies and liability in case someone allergic to the “fake stuff” keeled over in the restaurant because they assumed they were eating real lobster?

Furthermore, in Moncton, when you see "lobster" on the menu, it’s assumed (and RIGHTLY so) that it’s real lobster, not a substitute or a mixture of real lobster and filler. We are not in the middle of the desert. We are in the Maritimes. Lobster = Lobster. Period.

Here is the e-mail (no changes or edits made other than I deleted her name) I received in response to my complaint to Maverick's:

“Hello Mr. Cormier

Thank you for bringing to our attention the incorrect information you received from our server today.

When we explained the Lobster meat wasn’t like a sandwich with real chunks out of a local, freshly stemmed Fundy lobster, there was obviously some misinterpretation.

We do not use “ fake” lobster. We purchase a frozen product that originated from a “logostina Lobster”.

This species of lobster resembles a “ shrimp’ like Lobster, similar to the “ Rock Lobster” found in warm waters and is an imported product..

We do mix the 2 types of lobster together, to achieve a blend with the desired texture for our sandwiches. The frozen, imported product is too fine a texture if used alone in a lobster roll.

As all the meat product in the roll was real lobster, there shouldn’t be any allergy safety concerns.

We will review our product knowledge training with our Lunch service staff, in order to prevent any future miscommunications.

Again, thank you for bringing this to our attention

Have a great weekend and thank you for choosing Maverick’s Steakhouse.”

OK then. *phew* That was nice of her. But “logostina lobster”? Never heard of it. So I looked it up.

Actually, it’s not “logostina”, but “langostino”, or so the trusty Internet told me. According to Wikipedia (backed up by other similar research I found), langostino lobster is also called “squat lobster”... and is NOT lobster, but a kind of hermit crab. In fact, lobster fishermen are livid that this non-lobster product is being marketed in restaurants as real lobster. It is NOT real lobster. The restaurant's suggestion that the sandwich contained "all real lobster" was incorrect.

An excerpt from the Wikipedia entry found here:

“Langostino is a Spanish word with different meanings in different areas. In America, it is commonly used in the restaurant trade to refer to the meat of the squat lobster, which is neither a true lobster nor a prawn. It is more closely related to porcelain crabs and hermit crabs. Langostinos are not langoustes (spiny lobsters) despite a similar name (in Spanish, Lobster is called Langosta.)

In Spain, it means some species of prawns.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration allows “langostino” as a market name for three species in the family Galatheidae: Cervimunida johni, Munida gregaria, and Pleuroncodes monodon.

In Cuba and other Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands, the name Langostino is also used to refer to crayfish.

In South America, the name Langostino is used to refer to red shrimp, Pleoticus mulleri, common in the mid-latitude Atlantic coast, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Uruguayan coast, to Argentine province of Chubut.

These species are no more than 3 inches (7.6 centimetres) long and weigh no more than 7 ounces (198 grams).”

A restaurant such as Maverick’s Steakhouse and Grill that positions itself as a fine dining establishment should know better than this.

The person who responded to my e-mail subsequently stated that they blend "two" kinds of "lobster" together: Fundy lobster and the "squat lobster". "As all the meat product in the roll was real lobster..." is obviously incorrect. Squat lobster is NOT lobster.

Don’t try to pass on this cheap "filler" as real lobster to Maritimers. We know better. $15 for a few chunks of real lobster combined with a cheap filler is just wrong - especially from a restaurant of this calibre. The description as it appears in their menu is certainly misleading. Furthermore, it bears repeating that it's downright bloody stupid to incorporate an entirely different kind of shellfish into a sandwich when the person eating it doesn't know. Allergies, anyone?

It is my hope that they reword their menu in a way that honestly portrays what this sandwich is!

Should the "squat lobster" that Maverick's is using be classified as real lobster? Nope! Want another opinion? Click here to read a June 15, 2007, story from SeaFood Business magazine.

Perhaps Maverick's did not know the difference or assumed that what they were using was considered "real" lobster. Now that they know, will they fix it? Let's wait and see!

It is my hope that the restaurant is more honest from now on in its portrayal of the $15 sandwich on their menu. It's a "lobster mixture" roll... or a "lobster and langostino" roll... or something. But it's NOT a pure "lobster roll"... period.

And for $15, I would think that customers would expect a lobster roll with no cheap filler. Cripes... even McDonald's and Deluxe French Fries give you that.... for a lot less money.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In memoriam: Thérèse Drapeau (1926-2009)

I was saddened to hear of the passing of my favourite teacher. Thérèse (Savoie) Drapeau was my grade 10 homeroom teacher at Polyvalente Mathieu-Martin (high school) in 1979-80 and also taught me math. She passed away on January 20, 2009, at the age of 82.

Despite the passing of nearly 30 years from the time I first laid eyes on her on that nerve-wracking first day of high school in September 1979, I never forgot her generosity and dedication to her students. She was short in stature, but tall on personality. A former nun, she married later in life to Maurice Drapeau, a fellow teacher younger than she. Her father was a former senator and president of Assumption Life – Calixte Savoie.

On our first day of high school, she told us that we likely had heard from other students that she was a “bitch” (her exact terminology). A teacher said “bitch” in class... and was referring to herself! I couldn’t believe it. That pretty much put the fear of God into me right there. However, over the weeks and months that followed, she proved to be one of the most patient, understanding and kindest teachers I’ve ever known. It’s true that apparently she was once known as a “bitch”, from what I heard, but she definitely mellowed out in later years and was far from being "one of those" when I met her.

Shades of the old Thérèse would rear its head from time to time... but only when the class misbehaved. Some students in the class were twice her size and could likely have snapped her in half if they wanted to, but she could silence them swiftly. When she talked, we listened. When she yelled (not often, thankfully), we cowered.

Years later, I ran into her at the mall where I used to go walking before work in the morning. She was one of the founding members of the mall’s walking club and was dedicated to her daily exercise routine. One day, we walked around the mall for five kilometres with her regaling me of her time as a nun and why she left the convent. She was nearly 70 at the time and I could barely keep up with her. She walked like she was 18.

Rest in peace, Thérèse. You were an amazing teacher and certainly were a positive influence in my life... and the lives of many other students who are remembering you with fondness and thanks.

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Khalil Gibran

Sunday, January 25, 2009

In memoriam: Soeur (Sister) Marie Cormier (1911-2008)

Here is a memorial video I produced for my late great aunt, Soeur (Sister) Marie Cormier (1911-2008):

11 months to go 'til Ho! Ho! Ho!

It's never too early to start the Christmas 2009 countdown! Start your Christmas shopping now! You only have 11 more months to fit it all in.