Saturday, January 30, 2010

Moncton's Château à Pape Restaurant destroyed by fire

The Château à Pape Restaurant at the bottom of Steadman Street in Moncton was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of Saturday, January 30, 2010.

Photos: Click on the above photo for a large high-res version. Click here for some excellent photos by Brian Branch. Click here for Doug Hamer's photos on Facebook (account required).

This short video below was taken at around noon today and shows smoke still billowing out of the windows. Sad to lose a piece of heritage like this. (Apologies for lighting. The sun was shining directly into the camera and police tape wouldn't allow me to take the video from another angle.)

Here is a more comprehensive video of the aftermath made by Newschaser:

As you can see, the building is obviously a total loss.

Courtesy of YouTube's ThePoliceChaser, here's some amazing footage of the fire itself:

ThePoliceChaser went back out at 5 p.m. today to check the scene. Firefighters were back to put out some hotspots. You can see the inside of the what remains of the building glowing from the wind gusts.

Click here for a CBC NB news story posted earlier today.

This is certainly a difficult day for the owners, staff and patrons of one of Moncton's best restaurants.

Update -- Sunday, January 31, 2010:

Rogers News919 in Moncton linked to my YouTube video in their story on the incident. Thanks, Rogers!

Update -- Monday, February 1, 2010:

Click here for coverage from the Moncton Times & Transcript.

Friday, January 29, 2010

MADtv foretold the recently announced Apple iPad

Looks like the writers over at Fox's now-cancelled MADtv show were psychic... well kinda, anyway.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

RIP Zelda Rubinstein (1933-2010)

You may not know the name, but you'll certainly remember her from her role as tiny psychic Tangina Barrons in the 1982 horror film Poltergeist. Actress Zelda Rubinstein died yesterday at the age of 76.

Stave off that cynicism if you want a better society

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial Section

"Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism. It's my least-favourite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let's make an amazing thing happen right now."

Those are the words of Conan O'Brien, the now-former host of The Tonight Show, the Cadillac of late-night talk shows and one of the most sought-after hosting gigs in the entertainment industry. Hosting the show meant that you'd arrived. It meant that you were set for life. It meant that you would meet world-famous actors, musicians, writers and others who most people only get to read about or see on TV or the Internet.

When O'Brien started the show last year, hopes were high. His lead in would be the newly prime-time Jay Leno, the former host of The Tonight Show who'd been number one forever against his rival, David Letterman.

Television networks can be unforgiving and impatient. With millions of dollars on the line, antsy shareholders, nervous affiliates, and advertisers wanting the biggest bang for their buck, the networks pulled the plug on Leno's new show quickly and caused another fight for who would host The Tonight Show's traditional time slot after the network decided to move Leno back to his old time.

To his immense credit, O'Brien decided to cede the time slot, wanting to keep the integrity of The Tonight Show in place. Now, Leno takes over the show again, humbled from his failure but returning to a franchise he probably should have never left in the first place; and O'Brien leaves NBC more popular than ever and with $45 million as compensation for his trouble. The only caveat: he can't work for another network until after September. (Hopefully the $45 million will pay the rent between now and then, eh?)

O'Brien's audience trends young, and his words to them about cynicism were sage advice. The consensus is that O'Brien got the raw end of the deal here (despite the huge severance), so it's easy for his fans to forever hate NBC, Jay Leno, or what have you. The truth is, NBC was simply making a business decision. O'Brien did the right thing by giving the show back to Leno and moving along.

O'Brien knows young people. They tend to be cynical. Entertainment aside, they stay away from churches in droves, not necessarily because they don't believe in God, but because they don't believe in organized religion. And who can blame them? While many of these organizations claim to exist for the good, they often spread intolerance, hypocrisy and sexism that is difficult to accept and tolerate.

If you're of French, Irish or Italian descent, there's a significant chance you've been brought up Roman Catholic. Your culture and your religion are strongly intertwined, in fact, so strongly so that it's difficult to imagine changing religions even though you may not fully adhere to all the beliefs of the church. Generally, the same can be said of the British people and Anglicanism.

Cynicism is an easy rut to fall into. Instead of trying to make changes to what exists, we give up too easily and stay away. Many people don't try to participate and change the way government works, they simply give up and stay away from the voting booths. How long will it be until we regularly fall below a 50-per-cent voter turnout here in Canada? That would be a sad day.

There's an old saying that you have to believe in something or you'll fall for anything. Don't be so cynical as to confuse archaic rules of a man-made religious organization with faith in God. They're two different things. People who know me well often ask why I go to the church I do -- even though I admit my attendance has been sketchy at best lately.

"Well," I tell them, "I look at it like a department store. I don't want to buy everything there. I don't like everything they sell. But overall, even though the head office's policies drive me crazy sometimes, they're good people. And besides, I was brought up going there and it's where I feel most comfortable, despite some serious philosophical differences." You don't have to agree with everything.

If I told my pastor everything I believed in, he'd probably nail me to a cross and have parishioners throw balloons filled with holy water at me to save my soul. (I'd just call my Martian friends to blast them with lasers anyway!)

On paper, organized religions demand strict adherence and complete belief. In reality, their pews would be completely empty if that was the actual practice -- and they know it.

If I were cynical, I'd just leave and never go back to church, but there are people they help. That's a fact. If I were cynical, I'd never vote, and give government as a whole the finger. But the fact is, we need government. And we need people who care about government. And I don't know one politician who doesn't want to do a good job and make a positive difference. Their abilities to do so can be questioned, but I don't question their intent. No one runs for office wanting to make things worse. No one.

Cynicism and the negativity that it begets are a dangerous thing. They create a miserable society of people who don't believe in anything. And when we stop believing in anything -- eventually we stop believing in ourselves. When that happens, we might as well close up shop and put a "Closed due to bankruptcy" sign on the door of our world.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Rapping New Brunswick MLA's version of "Pants on the Ground" to appear on American Idol

T.J. Burke's recent rendition of "Pants on the Ground" is reportedly going to be featured on American Idol, considered the #1 TV show in the world, according to this report from CBC New Brunswick. Burke is the Liberal MLA for Fredericton-Nashwaaksis and was criticizing the opposition in the New Brunswick legislature during members' statements on January 22 when he started singing the ditty made popular in one of the first American Idol episodes of the season by Larry Platt. Platt's version of the song quickly went viral over the Internet, and now Burke's is doing the same thing! Check it out below:

Burke's rendition of the song has also been featured on CNN! Click here to watch the report.

Today's Hump Day column...

... is about cynicism and how dangerous falling into that trap is. We set ourselves up for a miserable life if we don't believe in anything. Personally, I can't stand it when someone tells me, "All politicians are crooks"; "All rich people are corrupt"; or "All teenagers are bad". Cynicism serves no good and is nothing but destructive.

Check out today's Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript, New Brunswick's largest-circulation newspaper!

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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

RIP Pernell Roberts (1928-2010)

Actor Pernell Roberts, star of Bonanza and Trapper John, M.D., has passed away from cancer at the age of 81. Younger crowds may remember him best from his stint as an older Trapper John McIntyre (of M*A*S*H) in the medical drama Trapper John, M.D. that ran from 1979-86.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Join my Facebook fan page

Yeah, I know it sounds really egotistical, but I now have a Facebook fan page.

I have several friend requests per month from people who like my columns/blogs, but I try to keep my personal Facebook profile for people I know personally. However, if you're a reader/fan of my columns/blogs, I would still love to interact with you on Facebook even if I don't know you personally!

Have a column idea? Have a news release you'd like me to post or follow up on? Check out the fan page for contact info.

Click here for the Facebook fan page.

On Twitter? Click here to follow me.

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

My much-hated Christmas countdown tradition continues for another year. Time to start untangling the Christmas tree lights! You only have 11 months to finish!

Recipe: Low-carb, sugar-free, gluten-free almond cookies

Thought I'd share a recipe from my low-carb blog.

This is a recipe for almond cookies that are low-carb, sugar-free and gluten-free. Before you begin, pre-heat your oven to 300F. You'll need:

- 2 cups almond flour (i.e. ground almonds)
- 1/2 cup Splenda (or equivalent liquid Splenda)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
- 1/2 tsp salt (omit if you used salted butter)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp pure almond extract

Combine all ingredients. Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Press down lightly with fork. (Optional: You may also place an almond in the middle of the cookie.) Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy! 30 carbs for entire batch - less if you use liquid Splenda (i.e. Sweetzfree).

You can buy Sweetzfree here:

Original recipe credit: (very slow server)

I messed up the ending a bit, but this took so long to do that I'll just chalk it up to experience and make sure the next video's ending isn't chopped off!