Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas 2009 countdown: 6 days!

Today: "Il est né le divin enfant"

Salt Lake City's Children's Choir:


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: