Friday, December 31, 2010

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Lay off the negativity and make those resolutions for 2011

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

It still baffles me that I actually don't mind waking up on New Year's Day without a hangover. Years ago, waking up feeling fine on New Year's Day was right up there with no chocolate on Valentine's Day or no gifts on Christmas morning.

But these days, I'm just as happy to wake up rested and alert, ready to take on the challenges that a new year brings, and excited about what will come in the next 12 months. I've always enjoyed it when a new year begins. It fills me with hope. Out with the old and in with the new, I say.

But it's also important to be grateful for what 2010 has brought us. We learn our best lessons when we go through hard times, so I'm even grateful for the terrible things that happened in my life this year. I know that sounds odd, but I am. I learned a lot and I hope that I showed some character - at least to myself - in dealing with some of the bad things that happened.

When bad things occur in your life, you have no choice but to learn from them and move forward - and make sure they don't happen again. It's all you can do. Say you're sorry. Mean it. Forgive the people who wronged you - especially if it's yourself. The only way to not make a mistake is to stay in bed every morning and do nothing.

Busy and productive people tend to make more mistakes than people who do nothing. That's just a fact of life. So, in 2011, I urge you to make a ton mistakes. The more you make, the better off the world will be because the law of averages will probably work it out so that the good things will far outnumber the bad. Only people who are trying - who are taking risks - who are dreaming - who refuse to accept the status quo just because we're used to it . . . only those people are making a difference in the world.

It drives me crazy to see people who are "movers and shakers" constantly brought down and criticized by those who do nothing. There is nothing so demotivating. In 2011, I hope that you look at the intent of why people do things before criticizing them. Are their hearts in the right place? Do they want to make a difference? If what they want to accomplish actually came to be, will it make the world a better place? If so, give them the benefit of the doubt before spewing negativity.

Of course, that doesn't mean you should just turn over and give up whenever you feel you've been wronged. Negativity has its place. But surely to goodness you don't live a life of pure unadulterated hell that requires it every minute of every day? Probably not.

Many people dislike making resolutions at the beginning of a new year, but I'm quite a fan of them. It's not because they all stick, of course. Actually, many of them don't - but the ones that do always make a positive difference in our lives. After all, no one ever makes negative resolutions, right? I doubt many of us have resolved to gain weight, use our credit cards too much or eat too much sugar.

I think we should make all the resolutions we can! Even though many of them may not stick, the good ones that we manage to accomplish will more than make up for those that were broken, so I say resolve away!

Here are a few of my resolutions for 2011 - and trust me, I've made most of these before. So what! I'm making them again.

1. Lose weight. I took a chunk off a few years ago but have remained pretty much stalled since then. I just know the French Riviera is waiting for me to strut shirtless down the beach. (Humour me, folks. It's the holiday season.)

2. Read at least one book per month. Now, please note that I said "read" and not "buy." I have enough unread business-type books in my house that if I actually got through them I could pretty much take over for Donald Trump by next Dec. 31.

3. Save more for retirement and significantly pay down debt. Now, it's time to sit back and wait for the telephone calls from the investment advisers who read this in the newspaper. At this point, my retirement is looking like a daily feast of canned cat food. As for debt, it's perfectly manageable right now but still plays on my mind. Debt means you owe.

4. Get my bathroom renovated. Let's just say that the paint is peeling and the decor looks like it was picked out by Mrs. Brady from The Brady Bunch. Speaking of home renovations, the water-stained carpet in my basement has got to go, too. And while I'm at it, the entire inside of the house needs to be painted.

5. Say "thank you" more often. Gratitude is a powerful tool in our lives that is not used enough. It tells people that we value them. It tells them that we care. It tells them that they made a valuable difference in our lives. Even being grateful for the bad things that happen can be powerful. Some of the worst things that have happened in our lives have led to some of the best things. Look back at some of the silver linings of negative things that have happened in the past year and be grateful for them.

Finally, dear readers, allow me to wish you all a very Happy New Year! As you're waiting for the clock to hit midnight on Friday evening, be thankful for everything that happened in 2010 - the good, the bad and the ugly. It's made you stronger.

And whatever your resolutions, make 2011 the best year ever. You deserve it!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Boxing Day!

Yes, there's actually a Boxing Day Christmas carol: Good King Wenceslas. (By the way, "Feast of Stephen" is December 26!)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Charlieissocoollike: The Christmas Present

It's Christmas Day! Merry Christmas!

Christmas Day is finally here! To each and every one of you, I hope today is spent among family and friends. When you put your head on your pillow tonight, I hope it is filled with many happy memories of a joyous Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 1 day to go!

We're nearly there, folks! Christmas is tomorrow! Here's a really nice compilation of Bing Crosby singing White Christmas from a number of his Christmas TV specials.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 2 days to go!

Here are a few versions of Baby It's Cold Outside, a popular winter-themed song traditionally played during the Christmas season:

Santa brings gifts and is a great friend for imposing discipline

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I hope you're not too sick of reading about Christmas. There are still a few days left until the shopping, cooking, travelling and stress all come to an end as we sit back in our recliners, loosen our belts and regret that extra piece of pie and helping of turkey.

Ah heck! Go for it. Santa Claus doesn't worry about it, so why should you? Unless you have a major medical reason not to do it, sometimes letting go and eating what you bloody well want to is good for the soul - at least for a day. Just don't go overboard to the point of illness or other related havoc.

After all, I don't think it says anywhere in the Bible that, "Thou shalt honour the birth of Jesus by making yourself sick." I'm certainly no biblical scholar, but somehow I doubt that even the Book of Brian (the shortest and most heathenistic of all the books of the Bible, I can assure you) promotes hurting yourself at Christmas to properly celebrate the birth of the Jesus.

Can you imagine what the three wise men travelling through the desert and following the Star of Bethlehem would have said had they thought some Christmas celebrations 2,000 years from then would have disintegrated into the messes we see these days?

If the Second Coming were happening right now and those three wise men were following a star to a baby in a manger wearing a halo, instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they would have to bring painkillers, antacids and a treadmill to help everyone get over the holiday merriment that has taken over society.

Oh, I'm just as bad as everyone else, I can assure you. I can't remember the last time I went to church at Christmas. I know, I should really hang my head in shame. Christmas is still a religious holiday and it's only right that we take an hour out of all the hoopla to remember the "reason for the season," as they say. The thing is, I always loved Christmas church services, but there are so many people packed in to the pews that it's too hot and too uncomfortable to enjoy it these days.

Then again, if there was actually room to sit comfortably at a Christmas service, I'd be ranting about the fact that no one goes to church anymore. It's terrible being a hypocrite, I tell ya. So exhausting.

Besides, to get a decent seat at most holiday church services, you have to pretty much show up at Easter and put up a tent. Kind of embarrassing when you have to convince passersby that you're not homeless, though. "No no . . . Thanks for the quarter in my empty Tim Hortons cup, but I'm actually just waiting in line for church on Christmas Eve. Yeah, I know it's only April. I want a good seat up front . . . not stuck in back next to the crying kids who wanted to go home to bed to wait for Santa."

This week also marks the end of the best disciplinary tool that parents have all year round. You know what I mean . . . the threat that Santa Claus is watching you and won't bring you any presents if you don't behave. This argument worked on me for a long time until I figured out that I could still start fighting with my brother and sister again as soon as my parents had helped Santa by wrapping all the gifts he would be leaving under the tree.

I figured this out, of course, because Santa always seemed to use the same wrapping paper as the paper used to wrap the gifts given by my parents. You can't fool me, let me tell ya. I have a mind like a steel trap. I figured out that Santa was just too darn busy to wrap his own gifts and had to ask for some help. Lucky for me, I had parents who were only too happy to oblige.

After Christmas Day, however, the Santa Claus threat pretty much goes out of the window until parents can start using it again starting at some point in the fall - usually after Halloween.

The Easter Bunny doesn't exactly have the same gravitas as Santa Claus. The Tooth Fairy's loonie or toonie under your pillow doesn't really hold much water either.

And I doubt that telling your kids that Cupid will shoot them in the arm with an arrow on Valentine's Day if they misbehave is effective. Most kids hate needles, so if they can avoid getting shot by an entire arrow by misbehaving, I'm pretty sure they'll try to burn down your house. Hide the matches!

And scaring the kids into behaving at Halloween could backfire into weeks and months of sleepless night worrying about ghosts and vampires coming to kidnap and eat them in the middle of the night. Unless you want to wake up to the blood-curdling screams of terrified children at 3 a.m., it's best to leave them to chow down on their Halloween candy; leave well enough alone.

Yep, when it comes to keeping children in line, Santa Claus is one of the more effective tools in a parent's arsenal, but sadly that tool will need to be put away in a drawer for another year in a few days.

Parents will have to resort to the tried-and-true time out. Maybe a stern look or two. Or perhaps a good old-fashioned talking-to! They say 60 is the new 50 . . . and that 50 is the new 40. Well, Santa is the new strap. He's the new whoopin'. The new hickory switch, so to speak. Dec. 26 is not only Boxing Day, it's also the day when parents have to start doing their own disciplinarian dirty work again. Santa is on vacation!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rock legend and reality TV star Gene Simmons coming to Moncton!

Kiss legend, reality TV star and all-knowing brand guru Gene Simmons is coming to Moncton and will be appearing at Atlantic Brand Confabulation event being held at Casino New Brunswick on Friday, January 14, 2011. Be there or be square!

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about the fact that parents are losing their main discipline trump card after Christmas Day. Without threatening kids with the possibility that Santa Claus may not come if they're not good, parents are left to their own devices until next November or so.

Check out Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will also be posted online here tomorrow.

Remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Christmas countdown 2010: 3 days to go!

Here's a classic French carol called "Il est né le divin enfant" performed by the Salt Lake Children's Choir.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome winter!

If you're seeing this, it means that winter has officially arrived! Welcome to Old Man Winter!

Christmas countdown 2010: 4 days to go!

Here's a cute little holiday cartoon starring Casper the Friendly Ghost:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 5 days to go!

This is one of my favourite YouTube Christmas videos. Here's Johnny Cash (and friends) singing Silent Night and Little Drummer Boy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 6 days to go!

It doesn't get much better than this, folks! Here's Elvis Presley singing "Blue Christmas" in 1968:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 7 days to go!

One week to go! Here are more retro Christmas TV ads:

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 8 days to go!

Today, enjoy the Digital Story of the Nativity!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Big Bang Theory reigns as 2010 TV ratings champ in Canada

According to a CTV news release issued today, the network held down eight of the top 10 spots for TV shows this year in Canada.

1. The Big Bang Theory (CTV - 3,046,400 average viewers)
2. American Idol (CTV - 2,743,700 average viewers)
3. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains & Nicaragua (Global - 2,703,300 average viewers)
4. Grey's Anatomy (CTV - 2,668,700 average viewers)
5. The Amazing Race 16 & 17 (CTV - 2,558,500 average viewers)
6. Criminal Minds (CTV - 2,511,400 average viewers)
7. Dancing With the Stars 10 & 11 (CTV - 2,228,200 average viewers)
8. $#*! My Dad Says (CTV - 2,113,600)
9. Glee (Global - 2,108,500 average viewers)
10. CSI: Miami (CTV - 2,092,400 average viewers)

Meanwhile, Super Bowl XLIV was the most-watched single broadcast of the year, followed closely by the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. Click on the link for the news release for a complete list.

Charlieissocoollike: Things change

Christmas countdown 2010: 9 days to go!

We're into the single digits now, folks! Won't be long! Here's the opening scene from one of the most beloved Christmas specials ever: A Charlie Brown Christmas. Enjoy "Christmastime Is Here":

One thing remains the same at Christmas: the great food

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

One of my favourite Christmas gifts as a kid was a large book of more than 500 pages consisting of 71 illustrated stories called The Golden Treasury of Children's Literature. I must have read and reread the stories in there a dozen times. It was a favourite of mine for years and I still have it tucked away in one of my keepsake boxes stored in the basement of my house.

There are used copies available online. In fact, one "like new" edition was going for nearly $600. A little bit crazy, if you ask me, but other used versions were going for prices much more reasonable in the $20-30 range for editions in "acceptable" condition.

Thinking about that book reminded me that there was nothing more I loved getting for Christmas than a good book, especially if it was a biography or an account of local history. Books on the history of Moncton were particularly fascinating to me when I was young. I was especially drawn in by old photos of Main Street from the late 19th and early 20th centuries and neighbourhoods that were once fields and today consist of busy streets lined by hundreds of homes.

Today, I remain quite captivated by local history books and purchase them from time to time to read - mostly before bed, which is about the only time I seem to be either not working, not online or not watching television.

One recent favourite is called Acadian Christmas Traditions written by Georges Arsenault, an extremely interesting overview of various yuletide traditions across the Acadian culture. I devoured this book in a day or two. I'd never heard of most of the traditions, including the one of children receiving a "naulet" from their godparents for Christmas - a "naulet" being a pastry in the shape of a girl or boy (depending on who was receiving it) that symbolized the Christ child.

If you're a fan of authentic Acadian cuisine, you should pick up a copy of A Taste of Acadie by Marielle Cormier-Boudreau and Melvin Gallant. If you decide to try out some of the recipes, find out where to buy salted pork fat first because it seems every second recipe in the book lists it as one of the ingredients. I've made a few recipes but decided to skip the roast porcupine. After seeing so many killed on roads, I don't exactly think of them as dinner.

Growing up, Christmas was the time of our annual chore of making poutine râpée - the large grey potato dumpling passed along to Acadians by German settlers. I say "chore" because you've really got to love them to go through the amount of work and mess to make them.

Meat pies are where holiday traditions tend to vary the most. It seems like everywhere you go, each family makes them differently. We never had "tourtière," the hamburger-based spiced meat pie. I was never fussy about it. In fact, I'd have to say that I really don't care for it.

My mother's Christmas meat pies are from the Acadian tradition on Prince Edward Island. They're called "pâté" and are shaped like a calzone (a stuffed Italian dish shaped like a half-moon). The thick biscuit-like crust is laid flat then a mixture of various types of meat and onions is placed in the middle. These meats include chicken, beef, pork, deer and rabbit - and perhaps moose if you have it. There are no vegetables and no gravy. It's a "dry" meat pie and is normally sliced and eaten cold after it's baked in the oven until golden brown.

Pâté is best with a cold glass of milk and is eaten for breakfast, lunch or supper. In fact, nothing says Christmas like that delicious meat pie from Prince Edward Island. Most readers have probably never even heard of it. I can't imagine Christmas without it.

I run a poutine râpée Facebook group with nearly 1,000 members. There are people from all over North America in the group - many of whom would give their eye teeth for a good poutine. While pockets of Acadians in New England still make them, the tradition seems to be sadly dying off outside of our area. Luckily, if you have a hankering for one this Christmas, they're easy enough to find locally, but if you find yourself somewhere else, you'd better know how to make them, otherwise you'll have to settle for looking at a photo of one on the Internet. The canned ones are long gone, too.

Christmas traditions come and go in my family. On Christmas Eve, we'd have relatives come to our home. The adults would play cards as the kids watched holiday specials on TV. They'd smoke their brains out and we'd go to bed with burning eyes waiting for Santa Claus. The next day was spent opening gifts, eating turkey and perhaps visiting relatives or having more people come to visit us.

Today, as we've grown and life circumstances have changed, we have new traditions, but one thing always seems to remain: the food. Somewhere, a relative is making poutine râpée and my mother still makes her pâté. Thank goodness. Over the years, the houses have changed. People have come and gone through marriage, death, divorce or simply moving away. But the food is the same.

I still remember my late uncle Romeo telling us not to tell his wife (my late aunt Barbara) that there was rabbit in my mother's pâté, otherwise he would not have been allowed to take any home with him. He never told her and apparently she never realized that she was eating bunnies when she bit into that delicious piece of pâté. Little white lies and delicious meat pies: that's what Christmas means to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sistema New Brunswick to present free Christmas concert

You're invited to the Sistema New Brunswick free Christmas at the Capitol concert to be held Wednesday, December 22, at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton. Admission is free! Click on the poster above for a larger version.

Christmas countdown 2010: 10 days to go!

Here's something a bit more traditional: a beautiful rendition of "The First Noel" by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 11 days to go!

Here's a really cute Muppets video with the late John Denver. Enjoy "The 12 Days of Christmas":

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 12 days to go!

Here's one of my favourite seasonal songs -- Winter Wonderland... even though it doesn't once mention Christmas. This is a modern take on the song by Jason Mraz.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 13 days to go!

Today's offering is a new Christmas-themed video from the popular Simon's Cat series.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 14 days to go!

Today, I present some of my least-favourite holidays songs.

Paul McCartney's awful "Wonderful Christmastime":

Chris Rea's über-depressing "Driving Home for Christmas":

Whoever happens to be singing the putrid "This Christmas":

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 15 days to go!

Today, I have a real treat for you! Here's the amazing Kate Smith singing "Christmas Eve in my Hometown".

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 16 days to go!

The beloved Christmas song "Silver Bells" first appeared in the Bob Hope movie "The Lemon Drop Kid" in 1951. Here's the scene where it was introduced to the world.

Christmas cat-tastrophe at the house of blue lights

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Like a moth to a flame, I am deathly attracted to blue Christmas lights. My tree at home is lit exclusively in blue. It is the most relaxing colour ever for tree lights in my opinion and I'm not particularly a fan of blue.

Not sure how to explain it. All I can do is be careful when I'm driving by a house or business lit up in blue during the holiday season. I can't stop staring. Unfortunately, this is when I'm driving, so it's probably not the best situation. Never mind a ban on using a cell phone while driving, I'm desperately in need of a ban on homeowners decorating their homes with blue Christmas lights.

Has anyone driven by Moncton City Hall at night lately? The place is spectacular! But holy moly, I can't stop staring when I drive by. I'm pretty sure some poor pedestrian is going to end up as a hood ornament on my Hyundai Santa Fe one of these days. How am I supposed to explain to the police how a little old lady got sprawled across my front grill with a look of shock and awe on her face?

'Well, officer, the Koreans have really upped the ante with their Hyundai hood ornaments lately and they've decided to go life-size this year. It's all the rage in Asia! This one's a special limited edition called 'Granny Oh No!'

Somehow, I doubt that would work.

Well, at least they now have those new LED lights that don't get so hot you could cook a steak on them. When I was a kid, like everyone else on the block we had those old opaque lights on our tree - you know, in the days even before mini lights. While mini lights stayed relatively cool to the touch, the larger ones were certainly not. They were nice and bright, mind you, and quite festive. Unfortunately, however, they were hotter than the sun and would usually result in several burns over the holidays.

Those little buggers could throw off some serious heat! I remember getting a blister on more than one occasion after touching one. Those were the good old days, eh? When Christmas lights served a dual purpose: as decorations and as charcoal for the barbecue.

It's so funny looking at old Christmas photos of friends on Facebook. For those of my generation who were pre-school aged in the late 1960s, everyone seemed to have the same decorations on their walls - likely bought at The Met, Woolworth's or Kmart. There's that colourful cardboard cut-out of Santa Claus that everyone seemed to have. And then there are the long strings of patterned garland that everyone seemed to drape from each corner of the room to meet up in the middle of the ceiling.

It's just so interesting to see how so many people had similar decorations compared to today. With the incredible choice of decorations available nowadays, you rarely see the same things twice no matter where you go. Between the big box stores and the plethora of discount and dollar stores, there's such a wide variety available to the consumer that it boggles the mind.

I tend to keep things simple. I have my standard stuff, of course. My several sets of blue lights, the garland, the nice retro-style glass Christmas ornaments.

That's one tradition I will never let go of. Unbreakable "ball"-style ornaments just don't cut the mustard with me; gotta be real glass.

Being the owner of a couple of curious cats, however, the nicer breakable ornaments are kept at the top of the tree and the unbreakable stuff is near the bottom. If I ever fall asleep on the sofa during the holidays, you can be sure I wake up to the sight of at least one cat beneath the tree bathed in blue light and swatting away at one of the ornaments until I bellow at them to take a hike.

My boy cat Casey slinks away quickly. My girl cat Cindy takes off like a bolt of lightning, the loose skin on her belly flapping from side to side at a hundred miles per hour. And every year without fail, the people who clean my house find Christmas ornaments hidden away in all corners of the house - even in July. It's the hottest day of the year and I come home to find a Christmas ornament on the counter that they just found under the sofa that had been swatted off in December.

If you have pets, trust me and stick with an artificial tree. The smell of a real tree is beautiful. It just personifies Christmas, let's be truthful. But a tree inside is an invitation for a dog to lift up his leg and do 'you know what' on it and it's also an invitation for a curious cat to climb. The smell is just too inviting.

I can't remember the last time I had a real tree but did splurge this year on a nice wreath for my back door. The aroma of that fir when I enter the house really puts me in the holiday spirit - which is quickly reduced to a mesmerized hypnotic trance as soon as I see those blue Christmas lights on the tree and then yanked back to reality when I see the cat bathed in blue beneath the tree light happily swatting away at ornaments.

That part, however, is not so relaxing. I yell. They run. I look away. They're back. I yell. They run. I look away.

They're sitting beneath the tree looking at me all innocent like. I look away. I look back a few seconds later and the tree is naked and every ornament is now beneath the sofa. Oh well, at least my nice blue lights will calm me down. So far, at least, the cats haven't figured out how to swat those off.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about my love for blue Christmas lights and cats who can't stop swatting Christmas ornaments off the tree.

Check out Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript or return here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

Remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Charlieissocoollike: Bread

Great video of Michael Bublé and young fan

Christmas countdown 2010: 17 days to go!

It is only fitting that today's video is John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)". Lennon was assassinated in New York City 30 years ago today.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Singer David Myles raising funds for New Brunswick food banks

Singer David Myles is hitting the road for his "Singing for Supper" New Brunswick Food Bank tour. Free shows are being held throughout the province to collect food and cash donations for New Brunswick food banks:

- Wednesday, December 8 – Moncton, Blue Cross Centre (on Main Street) – 12-1:30 p.m.
- Thursday, December 9 – Saint John, McAllister Place Mall – 12–1:30 p.m.
- Friday, December 10 – Fredericton, Regent Mall – 12–1:30 p.m.

Christmas party for Greater Moncton-area entrepreneurs on Monday, December 13

Whose Christmas Party Is it Anyway? Second Annual Entrepreneur Christmas Party happening Monday, December 13

MONCTON, NB – Brain Diesel is pleased to announce the Second Annual Entrepreneur Christmas Party – Whose Christmas Party Is it Anyway? – to be held Monday, December 13, beginning at 7 p.m. at McSweeney Co. Dinner Theatre, 700 Main Street, Moncton. The first event was so successful last year that it is being held again by founder Glen Munro, a local entrepreneur and owner of Brain Diesel Inc.

“It hit me three years ago that – as the owner of a one-person operation – I would not be having an office Christmas party,” Munro says. “I’ve met so many local entrepreneurs from the Greater Moncton area who are experiencing the same thing. We work as hard as the big companies, if not harder. We should celebrate like them, too!”

“Last year I rounded up a group of ‘improv’ friends and we put on a murder mystery. It was a huge success! This year, we’re planning something a little different, offering a night of comedy in the style of television’s Whose Line Is it Anyway? featuring local improv company Creative Juice,” Munro says.

While this event was created to bring entrepreneurs together, everyone is welcome,” Munro says. “Entrepreneurs are encouraged to bring a business card for the “business card potluck”, where those who provide a card will receive a list of all of the cards provided. Entrepreneurs want and need to network but don’t want to do that when they are out with their spouse or life partner, so we provide this as a means of enabling people who want to stay in touch to do so. It is completely optional, but if you want the list, you need enter your card.”

The audience can expect a night of comedic scenes made up completely on-the-spot based on audience suggestions. Fans of the television show will be pleased to see an audience favourite called “Scenes from a Hat”, and other games they know, as well as some with which they may be less familiar, including some Creative Juice originals. Audience members who want to play along will be invited up for certain games, as well.

“Improv differs from standup comedy as we do not poke fun at our audience participants,” Munro says. “Should you come up on our stage, it’s our job to make you look good.”

Creative Juice features a cast of local talent including Glen Munro, Justin Collette, Tricia Black, Derek Murphy, Brian Hawkes and Michelle Hart. Each has between five and 15 years of experience studying and performing improv.

Munro and Collette have been promoting improv in the Greater Moncton area as co-directors of the New Brunswick Regional High School Improv Games where Hawkes, an instructor at the Capitol School of Performing Arts, cut his teeth in improv as a performer throughout his high school years, and various volunteer roles, including head referee for several years.

Collette and Black have studied professionally in Chicago for the past year and are currently regular cast members at McSweeney Co. Dinner Theatre. Chicago’s improv scene is the training ground for many of today’s biggest celebrities, including Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and Tina Fey.

Tickets are $15 each and $25 for two and can be purchased at the McSweeney Co. Dinner Theatre box office, 700 Main Street, or at Spin-It Video, 467 Main Street. Please note that the ticket price does not include a meal, although table service is available. For more information, contact Glen Munro at 862-8722 (

About Brain Diesel

Brain Diesel is a Microsoft certified training company offering onsite or offsite corporate training solutions and process automation using Microsoft Excel, Outlook, Word and PowerPoint.


For more information, please contact:

Glen Munro
(506) 862-8722

Christmas countdown 2010: 18 days to go!

I always get a kick out of this song, I'm Gettin' Nuttin' for Christmas. Couldn't find a live-version video of the original from the mid-1950s, so here's a cute 2005 performance from Ireland's Late Late Toy Show.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 19 days to go!

It's December 6, and that means there are only 19 days to go until Christmas Day! I'm not a huge fan of modern Christmas songs. I much prefer retro classics from the 1940-1960 range, however I really do love this Wham song from 1984 -- Last Christmas. Could listen to it all day.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 20 days to go!

Here's a rendition of The Christmas Song by two greats: Mel Torme and Judy Garland. Listen as Garland substitutes the word "rainbows" for "reindeer", likely a tribute to her legendary Somewhere Over the Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 21 days to go!

Today, enjoy the movie trailer for one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol. Alastair Sim is absolutely wonderful as the grumpy Scrooge... and equally as convincing as the newly reformed happy Scrooge! This is an absolute delight. Do yourself a favour and don't bother with the colourized version. Stick with the original black-and-white edition.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 22 days to go!

Today's Christmas countdown video is a wonderful 1949 Donald Duck cartoon called Toy Tinkers. If you're like me, you've likely seen this throughout your childhood on television many times.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 23 days to go!

Today, it's time to enjoy one of the most beloved pop Christmas songs of all time: The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late).

Believe it or not, the song was #1 on the Billboard singles chart for four weeks -- from December 22, 1958, to January 18, 1959 -- and remains the last Christmas song to hit #1 on any of the U.S. Billboard charts.

Not everyone gets enthused about the Christmas holiday

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Well, the holiday season is upon us and the demands on our time are going to be more than what we're used to. While the quiet Christmas Eve filled with soft music, a beautifully lit tree, the dog and cat cuddled up next to the fire and the kids fast asleep waiting for Santa are all picture-perfect, it takes a heck of a lot of work to get to that point.

Let's just say that the house may not be quiet and peaceful because it was planned that way. Everyone may be just too exhausted to stay awake!

If your pets are like mine, they spend most of their time playing with the tree ornaments while you're not looking. To cats, especially, all those tangling ornaments are like magnets to a piece of metal. At some point, they're going to connect when they get close. It just can't be helped.

The lead up to the holidays is extraordinarily busy for everyone. There are gifts to buy, decorations to put up, cards to send, people to see, and lots of cooking!

Everyone wants the perfect holiday.

I'm no different. Like many others, I pretty much go crazy at this time of the year. In the next week or so, I'm sure I could attend a Christmas party every night of the week if I were so inclined. Every business group, company and association is having some sort of soirée to thank their clients and friends for a wonderful 2010 and to get a head start on chatting about the business and work to be done starting Jan. 1.

Every year, I promise myself that I won't get too caught up in the craziness but wanting to be perfect during the holidays is an affliction that many of us suffer from at this time of the year. Everything has to be just "so" and everyone has to be happy. While that may not be the case for everyone, I think it's an honourable thing that so many of us try especially hard at this time of year to make others happy. I think it certainly shows in the faces and moods of people around us.

While many of us love the holidays, the same can't be said of some. The holidays, for them, represent sadness or stress. For some, a special person in their life may have passed away during the holidays or some other personal tragedy befell them such as a marriage breakup, accident or illness. For others, especially those with not-so-happy family lives, the holidays mean memories of a lot of arguing and tears.

It's a sad statement that most of the people I know who don't like the holidays have terrible memories of an alcoholic parent. Holidays during childhood were spent cleaning up messes, avoiding a drunken tyrant or spending their time being embarrassed by a liquored-up mother or father who ruined family gatherings.

While those of us who did not have to deal with an alcoholic parent as a child associate the holidays with toys, happiness and time off from school, those who lived with a parent who drank too much associate it with everything bad about life - only exaggerated. When I hear Jingle Bells, it puts me in a good mood.

When the people I know who grew up with an alcoholic parent hear Jingle Bells, they're conditioned to dread the next few weeks.

Let's just say that if the parent drank a lot before, when the holidays arrived it just got exponentially worse. It was bad enough when there was no "reason" to drink (not that alcoholics need a reason), but when there was indeed a "reason" (i.e. the period from mid-December to New Year's that we normally associate with the term "holidays"), then it was just that much worse.

I can't imagine having to have grown up like that. I'm glad I didn't. The worst thing that happened to me was trying to get to sleep with burning eyes from all the cigarette smoke in the house. Growing up with two parents who smoked meant that I was more or less used to the smoke, but when the air in the house was literally blue due to a gaggle of smoking adult relatives over to visit and play cards on Christmas Eve, the smoke would billow out of the back door whenever someone arrived or left. I swear, someone driving by would have thought the house was on fire.

It must be so difficult to be sad and depressed during a time of year when people feel so much pressure to be happy as a lark. It must be like feeling thirsty and walking through a desert . . . or hungry for an apple and showing up in an orchard after it's been picked clean. What you need isn't what you're getting.

And people like me probably aren't much help, either. I love the holidays and must admit to not having the most patience for people who don't enjoy them as much as me. It all comes down to what we were conditioned to and what we relate this time of the year to, I guess. For me, it's about family, gifts, a beautiful church service (although I haven't been to church on Christmas Eve in a few years - hopefully no one from church reads this), and lots of hugs and smiles.

For others, it's quite the opposite. Their conditioning and memories are not good in relation to the societal pressure to be not only just "happy", but quasi-elated beyond belief.

For those of us who love the holidays, let's make an effort this year to pull off a miracle for our friends who don't associate the holidays with pleasant memories - no matter the reason, be it personal tragedy, negative family issues, illness or what have you.

The best gift we can give the holiday non-lovers is our patience, understanding and best efforts at creating happy holiday memories for them. And if that doesn't work, let's just shut up about the whole Christmas thing when they're around.

You're welcome!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Happy Hanukkah

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, so Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish readers! Here's a fun song from Adam Sandler...

Charlieissocoollike: Magic Mars Bars

Another entertaining Charlieissocoollike video!

And this is my 3,000th posting to Brian Cormier's Blogtastic World!

Today's Hump Day column...

... is about people not liking the holiday season. Now that it's December, we're only 24 days away from Christmas, and the planning, organizing, buying, etc. are in full gear! It's enough to drive even Christmas lovers (like me) completely nuts!

There are those, however, who associate the holidays with a very sad time of year... those who prefer to say, "Bah humbug!" to the entire season.

Check out Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will also be posted online here tomorrow.

Remember, if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Christmas countdown 2010: 24 days to go!

Today's Christmas offering is a film made in 1898 (yes... 1898) called "The Visit of Santa Claus":

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kevjumba: Getting jiggy with the Jumbas

Christmas countdown 2010: 25 days to go!

Today's retro Christmas cartoon is "Popeye's Mistletoe" from 1955:

And here's another great Popeye Christmas cartoon -- "Seasin's Greetinks" from 1933:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 26 days to go!

Here's "Bedtime for Sniffles", a really nice Merrie Melodies cartoon originally released on November 23, 1940. Watch the fun as Sniffles tries to stay awake on Christmas Eve to see Santa Claus.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

RIP Canadian comedic actor Leslie Nielsen (1926-2010)

Canadian veteran comedic actor Leslie Nielsen passed away today at the age of 84. He is most famous for his hilariously deadpan roles in the Airplane and Naked Gun movie franchises.

Christmas countdown 2010: 27 days to go!

Animals of YouTube sing "Deck the Halls":

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 28 days to go!

Some retro Christmas TV commercials:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas countdown 2010: 29 days to go!

Bruce Springsteen: "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

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

Only one month go until Santa arrives!

My annual Christmas video countdown starts tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and readers!

Falling asleep in front of the TV has its own little rituals

Hump Day
by Brian Cormier
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

When I was a kid, I'd make fun of my parents for not being able to stay awake while watching television. Within five minutes of sitting down to watch a show, they would both be out like a light unless it was an exciting hockey game or another favourite show, such as The Carol Burnett Show, Grizzly Adams or Emergency.

Nod off while watching Carol Burnett and you'd have likely been startled awake by a roomful of family members laughing at the latest Tim Conway ad-lib that forced the cast members to break into giggling fits. As for Grizzly Adams, the stories and scenery were usually enough to keep everyone awake, especially when the bear growled. And on Emergency, all those sirens were enough to wake the dead, let alone allow anyone so-inclined to fall asleep in the middle of a show.

Years ago, I could barely make it past 9:30 p.m. I was usually in bed before 10 p.m. These days, staying up past midnight is the norm for me. This makes for some sleepy mornings, especially since my alarm is permanently set for 5:55 a.m., even on weekends. My early-to-bed days are definitely past me. These days, my "early" is 11 p.m. If you would have told me 20 years ago that I'd be staying up until midnight or later every night - especially during the week - I would have slapped you across the face and called you a liar!

Yes, I would have probably actually slapped you. So there!

Lately, I've started a bad habit. Around 11 p.m. or so - especially on weekends - I curl up on my comfortable sofa with some good pillows, blanket and crossword puzzle and get down to the serious business of relaxing. After about half an hour, I put the crossword puzzle down because I'm starting to nod off periodically.

At some point, my rollerball ink pen hits the crossword puzzle page and begins to bleed into the newspaper-like sheet like an oil spill spreading in the ocean. Those crossword puzzle pages are printed on newspaper-like stock, allowing it to soak up the ink from my pen like a vampire who's just dug his teeth into the creamy white skin of a damsel lost in the woods.

Despite my best efforts to stay awake after starting the "nod off ballet" on the sofa, I give up and decide that, "Oh, I'll just watch television for a bit. After all, I have all these shows recorded that I really need to watch." At this point, I should remain sitting up straight and enjoy the coziness of the blanket over me, but no. I, like many others, end up convincing myself that I'll actually put my head down on the pillow "just for a few minutes" - you know, because I have strong willpower, right?

Anyone who regularly falls asleep in front of the television will tell you what happens next. First, you'll either wake up at some point during one of the late-night shows (for me, it's usually Jay Leno's headlines or David Letterman's top 10 list), or you end up sleeping halfway - or most of the way - through the night.

By then, you're just completely messed up. You wake up mad at yourself because you fell asleep on the sofa. "This will never happen again," you tell yourself. "The next time I get tired, I'm simply going to get up off the sofa and head over to that nice comfortable bed of mine! Yes, siree! That's what I'm gonna do!"

After scolding yourself, you have virtually no choice but to head back to bed so as to get some semblance of a good night's sleep, but not before certain bedtime rituals which need to be honoured before crawling beneath the cool covers.

And again, if you're like me, you just won't be able to sleep unless you honour those bedtime rituals that may include one or all of the following: 1) use the bathroom; 2) check the stove to see if you left on a burner; 3) lock the doors (double and triple check, of course); 4) scan for pets to ensure they're all where they're supposed to be at that hour; 5) brush your teeth; 6) do whatever medicating you need to do before bed (if you have a daily medication routine); and finally, 7) get dressed or undressed for bed, whatever your preference is.

As for me, I can skip a few of the routines except using the bathroom and checking the doors. I'm obsessed with checking to see if the doors are locked before I go to bed. If someone manages to break in, it sure as heck won't be because the doors weren't locked, let me tell you. They'll have to cut a hole through the wall.

As I write this column, my eyes are closing and I'm starting to nod off. I really need to go to bed. It's close to 11 p.m. and this is one of those rare nights when I could have gone to bed at 9:30 p.m., like I did years ago.

So, after you've fallen asleep on the sofa only to find yourself awake, confused, angry and with more than a few body parts that have fallen asleep as a punishment for sleeping all askew, you do whichever bedtime rituals you can handle doing with your eyes half closed and finally head to bed. You get under the covers, check to see if the alarm is on, and then check the volume on the radio to make sure if will wake you up when the morning comes.

Another night of peaceful sleep is finally on the horizon as you've finally made it into your own bed after a slight detour to the sofa. You close your eyes and try to drift off, only to find yourself - you guessed it! - wide awake. And that's when you start up your newest bedtime ritual, crying yourself to sleep.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5,000+ views on YouTube! Recipe: Low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free almond cookies

My one and only (so far) recipe video just hit 5,000+ views on YouTube! Now that I'm geared up with a new camera, I should make more of these.

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about the bad habit I've developed of falling asleep in front of the television. I know many people do this, but it's a relatively new bad habit for me. The worst part is waking up in the wee hours of the morning with the television still on, your arm asleep under you while you're on the sofa, and still having to get up and check if all the doors are locked, etc., before finally getting to bed.

And, of course, you know what happens then! You're wide awake and can't get back to sleep.

Check out Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will also be posted here tomorrow.

Remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Canadian author Lorrie Bell Hawkins wins five awards at Cat Writers’ Association annual conference in New York

Lorrie Bell Hawkins with Minou, adopted from the Moncton SPCA, and her awards.

WHITE PLAINS, NEW YORK — Canadian author Lorrie Bell Hawkins took home five awards Saturday evening at the Cat Writers' Association's 17th annual awards banquet for her book Jolicure Cats. Two Certificates of Excellence and Muse Medallions were awarded to Bell Hawkins in the categories of memoir and illustration. In addition, the book received the coveted Kuykendall Image Award for illustration, graphics and design.

Jolicure Cats was first released in the fall of 2009 by Percheron Press of Dieppe, New Brunswick, Canada. It was produced and distributed by Goose Lane Editions of Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The book tells the stories of 14 family cats — all but one with a connection to Jolicure, New Brunswick, a small farming community on the Tantramar Marsh close to Sackville. It features reproductions of original oil paintings by the much-celebrated American illustrator and muralist Dwight Kirkland of Mifflintown, Pennsylvania.

The portraits were specially commissioned by the author and each is based on a visual montage created by Lorrie Bell Hawkins herself, who conceived of the project and acted as its overall creative director.

"I had a very clear idea of how I wanted the book and illustrations to look. So, sometime in 2007 I went on a global search for just the right illustrator for the Jolicure Cats stories," she said. "I received submissions from over 40 truly outstanding artists. It was really challenging to make a final selection; they were all so talented. But, Dwight's work was compelling to me and we seemed to have a good creative and artistic rapport. I just knew that we would work well together, so he was my choice."

“When I received his finished oil portraits of my cats, I was overwhelmed. They were all so beautiful, just as I remembered each of them; and he had captured their unique personalities."

“I'm thrilled and honoured to receive these awards and I know that Dwight is, too. It was a true collaboration. Really, we both created the book, along with Goose Lane’s art director and designer, Julie Scriver, who also played a very important role.

“I am deeply grateful to both of them and to the Cat Writers' Association which does so much to encourage authors to write on a wide variety of topics of interest to cat and animal lovers. There are those who specialize in cat care, cat rescue, veterinary services, nutrition, training and handling, breeding, and showing, while others write cat-themed novels, memoirs, short stories, poetry and more.”

Jolicure Cats is available at bookstores throughout Canada and through online retailers such as Chapters Indigo, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Percheron Press Canada was founded in the early 1980s and continues to be dedicated to helping emerging writers get published. Over the years, various books on a variety of subjects — local history, poetry, cooking, personal reflections — and authored by interesting and talented writers saw their way into print as the little press quietly met its mission.

Goose Lane Editions is Canada’s oldest independent publisher. Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick, it specializes in the publication of contemporary literary fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. The company also provides book packaging and custom publishing services to trade and institutional publishers.

The Cat Writers' Association, Inc. (CWA) is an international association of professional communicators who provide to the general public and to specialized audiences news, information, education and works of literary and graphic art that help describe, dramatize, explain and illuminate the myriad aspects of felines, especially domestic cats, and their place in human life and culture. CWA members promote the best interests of all cats through a variety of media and formats, including newspapers, magazines, radio, television, websites, blogs, public relations and publicity, photojournalism, illustration, fine arts, photography, video, podcasts, speech, technical writing and more. Members strive always to observe and promote the highest standard of ethics in the generation and publication of cat information in all genres and media.


For more information, please contact:

Lorrie Bell Hawkins
Tel.: (506) 863-5040

For review copies, please contact:
Corey Redekop
Tel: 1-888-926 8277

Annoying Orange: Orange After Dentist (David After Dentist spoof)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Comedy is often irreverent, but serves a higher purpose

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Last Saturday, I had the privilege of seeing one of my comedy idols perform at Casino New Brunswick.

I've been watching Joan Rivers on television all my life. I get her shtick. She likes to shock, but beneath that tough exterior lies a heart of gold in a woman who does much charity work, especially in the areas of AIDS and suicide prevention. Her career has been built on saying what people are really thinking but are too afraid to say.

I sat in the front row on Saturday night for more than an hour in awe of her. Being a real celebrity hound, I couldn't believe I was actually seeing her in person. She was crude, vile, disgusting, irreverent, shocking and blunt - and I laughed at every word, even when it was just wrong. After all, if you're going to see her perform, you have to expect to hear a comedienne who pushes the envelope.

She made fun of Cher, her transgender son Chaz, Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa and even the Virgin Mary, who she insists would have found a room at the inn 2,000 and a handful years ago had Rivers been around to give her some much-needed fashion advice. "You're the mother of God. You should look the part!"

At 77, she spent more than an hour running from one end of the stage to the other in stiletto heels and never missing a beat. She did have cue cards taped to the stage, though - not that I fault her for that. I can't imagine how anyone could rant for an entire hour like her without a few friendly reminders on stage in front of them.

At the end of the show, I was exhausted for her, considering that she never stopped or took a break during the entire performance. Her voice remained strong. She never slowed down. Her caustic onstage act turned sincere at the end when she gratefully thanked the audience for coming out to see her. She always wanted to perform and was honoured that we had paid to see her.

There's one thing about Joan Rivers and many other comediennes. Their acts are just that - acts. They don't reflect the true personality of the person. Most are involved in charity works that reflect things that are important to them in their hearts. And with Rivers, nothing is sacred. Everyone's a target - even her charities.

In her act, she even jokes about suicide, despite the fact that her husband Edgar Rosenberg took his own life via an overdose of Valium and alcohol on Aug. 14, 1987. He was alone in a hotel room in Philadelphia and was found by security guards.

Rivers and her daughter Melissa were understandably devastated. Her jokes about the topic aren't meant as a sign of disrespect - they're more of a sign of coping. A songwriter would write a song - like Eric Clapton did when he co-wrote "Tears in Heaven" along with Will Jennings after his four-year-old son Conor died after falling 53 storeys (yes, 53) out of an apartment window in 1991.

Authors who suffer personal loss write books, such as famous romance writer Danielle Steel, whose son Nicholas Traina committed suicide in 1997. Following his death, she wrote a book about him called "His Bright Light." And how many statues have been sculpted as beautiful tributes to those who have left us?

The fact is that society is more apt to accept a piece of art, a song or a book as a fitting tribute to their loved ones. Rivers, however, is a comedienne. It's just who she is. And making jokes is her way of paying tribute. In the end, doesn't a little bit of laughter help dry the tears - even if the laughter is a bit (or a lot) on the irreverent side?

I've heard people criticize her for pushing the envelope. "She shouldn't make jokes about her husband's suicide," they would admonish. "She shouldn't make jokes about AIDS because it's caused such devastation to a generation of humanity."

Well, to be blunt, she's likely done more to raise money for those suffering from AIDS than all of her critics put together through her charity God's Love We Deliver, whose mission "is to improve the health and well-being of men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other serious illnesses by alleviating hunger and malnutrition. We prepare and deliver nutritious, high-quality meals to people who, because of their illness, are unable to provide or prepare meals for themselves."

Don't let her jokes and irreverence lull you into thinking she's a dim bulb. In fact, she's one smart cookie, having won Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice competition in 2009. You've probably also seen her as a regular guest on The Shopping Channel selling her wide array of affordable and stylish costume jewellery - all of which she designs herself.

Having gone through tough financial times in the mid-1990s, Rivers makes no apologies for the fact that she still works like a dog at 77. I've heard her say often on television that she'll go wherever they'll pay her because she never wants to experience that feeling again.

For her, comedy is therapy - both psychological and financial. We can laugh at her irreverence because we know she's not serious. We don't mind paying to see her because she works hard for the money she earns and is extremely generous to charitable causes. What a pleasure to have seen her in action. Thanks for the laughs, Joan.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today's Hump Day column...

... is about attending a performance by one of my comedy idols over the weekend. I never thought I'd ever get a chance to see Joan Rivers live, but to my great thrill she booked a date to perform here in Moncton at Casino New Brunswick last Saturday, November 13.

I laughed the entire time, but can understand why some people wince at her irreverent jokes. With that said, I get her... jokes are her therapy. Her jokes about AIDS turn heads, especially when you realize she's passionate about raising money for the disease. Her jokes about suicide make you wonder, especially when you consider that her beloved husband Edgar Rosenberg took his own life.

Brokenhearted songwriters write songs. Brokenhearted authors write books. Brokenhearted artists create art.

Brokenhearted comedians tell jokes.

Read all about it in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted online here tomorrow.

Remember... if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Glee guest star Darren Criss poised to break show sales record with Teenage Dream

One of the most popular TV shows on air these days is Glee, having spawned many hit singles and quotables quotes. Last week's episode, Never Been Kissed, featured guest star Darren Criss singing a cover of Katy Perry's Teenage Dream. Criss' character Blaine is rumoured to be a possible love interest for Kurt, played by Chris Colfer.

The song sold like hotcakes during its first day on iTunes, breaking the show's first-day iTunes sales record. The song is expected to overtake the cast's cover of Journey's Don't Stop Believin' as the show's most popular single to date.

Criss' version is very catchy, to say the least, so much so that it's been viewed more than 1.5 million times on YouTube in less than a week!

Originally scheduled to appear in only a few episodes, the guest actor's sudden huge popularity with viewers is pretty much a guarantee that he'll be a regular. Criss also sings a duet (Baby It's Cold Outside) with Colfer on Glee's Christmas album to be released on Tuesday, November 16.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day 2010

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada, when we honour our veterans and their service and sacrifice to the country. Let us all remember them today.

Saluting each and every one of our Canadian veterans

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada, a day when we honour those who have fought - and died - for our country and for our freedom.

My grandfather - Michael Pineau - fought in the First World War. If he were still alive, he would be 117 years old. Tomorrow - Nov. 11 - is the 95th anniversary of the day he joined the military in 1915 when he was 22 years old.

Originally, he only signed up for one year, but stayed for the rest of the war and was discharged on Jan. 24, 1919, after arriving back in Canada. He sailed to Halifax from Liverpool, England, on Dec. 12, 1918, so would have spent Christmas 1918 aboard a ship in the middle of the freezing and likely stormy Atlantic Ocean. His rank at discharge was private and he was with the 105th Battalion at the time.

He arrived in England on the S.S. Empress of Britain on July 25, 1916, 10 days after setting sail from Canada. His military records show that he was promoted to corporal but reverted back to private at some point. I'm not sure why. Regardless, according to the military paperwork I have on him, he was paid the handsome sum of $20 per month for his service to the country.

In May 1918, while fighting in France, he contracted trench fever which, according to my online research, was a disease transmitted by body lice that caused a "high fever, severe headache, pain on moving the eyeballs, soreness of the muscles of the legs and back, and frequently hyperaesthesia of the shins." (Wikipedia)

For those of you, like me, who were not aware of the meaning of "hyperaesthesia," it pretty much means "hypersensitivity."

On Aug. 27, 1918, he received a shrapnel wound to the face while fighting in France and had surgery performed four days later to remove the foreign body from his jaw. His medical records indicate that he received "an incomplete fracture of the lower jaw."

He spent a month in hospital and was transferred to the Princess Patricia Canadian Red Cross Hospital, Cooden Camp, in Bexhill, England, to convalesce, leaving the facility on Oct. 25, 1918, and returning to duty. Less than three weeks later, the war ended on Nov. 11, exactly three years to the day that he enlisted.

He was one of the lucky ones to return home. A school teacher and farmer, he married relatively late - in his 30s - to my grandmother. Together, they had nine children - one of whom is my mother.

The First World War seems so long ago. In fact, it is. But there are still three verified veterans of the war alive, one each in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States.

Each of them is 109 years old, having all been born in 1901.

I can only imagine what my grandfather would think of today's war in Afghanistan - a conflict that is creating an entire new generation of veterans, wounded and war dead. While war is war - and people die regardless of how much armour they are wearing or how tough their vehicle is, I can't even begin to think how much harder the trench warfare was in the two so-called world wars. The bitter cold, illness and harsh conditions in the trenches must have been unbearable.

I'm thankful to our military - those who served all those years ago; those who serve today; and those who never made it home. I'm thankful because - quite honestly - I doubt I have the courage you did to fight for our country. And trust me, having me overseas fighting wouldn't have done the country much good because that chubby guy you would have seen running through the field screaming like a little girl in surrender and wildly flailing his arms in abject terror would have surely been me.

Recently, I attended the True Patriot Love Foundation's New Brunswick-Prince Edward Island Tribute Dinner in Fredericton. The fundraising event raised more than $310,000 for three charities that assist members of the military and their families in both provinces. One of the most touching parts of the evening was the tribute to fallen soldiers. The lights in the room dimmed and a spotlight shone on a small table near the front of the room. The speaker explained the table setting in words repeated often.

"The table is round - to show our everlasting concern for our fallen comrades. The tablecloth is white - symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to duty. The single red rose, displayed in a vase, reminds us of the life of each of our fallen comrades, and the loved ones and friends of these comrades who keep the faith."

"The vase is tied with a red ribbon, symbol of our continued determination to remember our fallen comrades. A slice of lemon on the bread plate is to remind us of the bitter fate of those who will never return. A pinch of salt symbolizes the tears endured by the families of those who have sacrificed all."

"The Holy Book represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country. The glass is inverted, they cannot toast with us at this time. The chair is empty because they are no longer with us."

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month tomorrow, let us all stand in silence to remember those who fought, died and continue to fight for our freedom and the freedom of others. I salute each and every one of you.