Friday, May 07, 2010

A note re: this week's Social Media Matters column

Just a quick note to let you know that this week's Social Media Matters column didn't appear today as scheduled in the Moncton Times & Transcript due to a production error. Today's column is scheduled to run in Monday's paper... and will return to its regular spot next Friday.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

American Idol: Recap of Top 5 results show

Last night, one contestant was saved from almost certain elimination, while another who should have probably stayed was sent home. Although last night's elimination was not a shocker, I'm still disappointed at the results. Trying hard should always triumph over giving up... and the contestant with the horseshoe up his a** should have been sent home because he seemed to give up this week.

Oh well... it can't last too much longer.

If you want a hint, let's just say the cougars mauled the tweens.

Read today's Idol Chatter column in the Moncton Times & Transcript or Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Remembering those smells that really grab you

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Editorial section

Smells are known to trigger some of the strongest memories in humans. I know that's definitely true for me. Some of these memories are melancholic. Some are nice. Some are sad. Some are just downright weird. Some are definitely not family friendly. (I'll keep those to myself.)

I was at a meeting the other day when someone was writing on a flip chart with a marker. The one they were using didn't work particularly well, so they asked me to check for a better one. I found one that looked new, took the cap off and sniffed it to see if it was fresh. There's nothing like the smell of a fresh marker to put me in a good mood, probably because of the brain damage it causes right at that very moment.

When I was in first grade, it was a real treat when my teacher would let us draw with markers. And back then (40 years ago), those markers made today's look like little girls holding lollipops and dressed for church on Easter morning. The markers 40 years ago were seriously strong. You could literally feel the brain cells dying. The teacher would tell us not to sniff them, but when her back was turned I'd practically have that thing stuck up my nose so far that it caressed my brain with its marker-y goodness.

Note to any brain surgeons reading this: If you ever operate on me in the future, this would explain the squiggly black marks on my temporal lobe. It's not some weird birth defect or anything like that. And please don't judge me!

Another aroma that I've always found intoxicating is Play-Doh, the modeling clay for kids. Christmas morning and birthdays were great whenever I got Play-Doh. Oh, I wouldn't play with it. I'd just sit in the corner with my nose stuck inside the plastic container it came in. That stuff smells so good!

As friends and family started having children, I got reacquainted with Play-Doh in recent years and would never miss a chance to have a little sniff, although I soon discovered from the kids' parents that yanking a container of Play-Doh away from a small child on Christmas morning was not considered polite. "Mummy... Unca Bwyan took my Pway-Doh!" No use even denying it with my nose stained blue from the clay and my pupils distended from the fumes.

I've even been tempted to buy a bottle of Play-Doh fragrance. It actually exists! (Google it. I'm serious!) I'm not sure what you'd even do with it, though. It's not as if anyone attracted to you because you smell like Play-Doh would be marriage material... probably just the opposite. They'd probably be more "restraining order" material.

When I was a kid -- again about 40 years ago -- I also loved the smell of gasoline. And trust me, kids, the gasoline back then wasn't the anaemic stuff we have now. The stuff back then was full of lead and very harsh. Oh, it was so dreamy, let me tell ya. I remember my father would be filling up the car (with a cigarette dangling from his lips) and we kids would have our heads out the window sniffing the fumes and watching those little balls rolling around in the clear plastic cup on the side of the gasoline pump.

I never did find out why those little balls in the plastic cup were there, but they were fun to watch. Remember, this was before video games and cable television. Life was much simpler back then -- and boring. Didn't take much to entertain us.

And then there was the granddaddy of all smells: model glue. That stuff was potent that it could clear up pneumonia with the first sniff. It would also cause you to go blind on the second sniff. That stuff was strong! And, of course, I loved it -- which would explain a few things -- like the involuntary tics. If your parents were like mine, they always had a story about some unknown kid in some unknown city who'd become addicted to sniffing model glue. No one ever knew his name or where he lived, but he was as real to us as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy.

Speaking of Santa, there's nothing like the aroma of a freshly cut Christmas tree. And at Easter, the smell of an obscene amount of chocolate. I remember the aroma of my both of my grandmothers' kitchens very well and could identify them instantly even now.

There's the smell of a favourite restaurant. The smell of new furniture. The smell of laundry just in from the clothesline. The aroma of a freshly painted house. I remember my eyes burning as a kid whenever my father would paint the inside of the house.

If I was blindfolded, I'm pretty sure that I could tell the difference between several brands of cigarettes smoked constantly by relatives -- past and present. Also, the smell of my grandfather's aftershave -- and the smell of another cheap aftershave I used to buy when I attended university. It was called Blue Stratos and my roommate at the time hated it. Of course, this pretty much guaranteed that I spritzed him with it at every chance I got, much to his dismay.

There's the smell of the forest... the beach... a wet dog... and babies. Speaking of babies, I remember being in a hot car with no air conditioning with a friend's baby girl who'd just dirtied her diaper. He was so used to it that he didn't even blink. Meanwhile, I was gagging and screaming for mercy.

Just promise me one thing. If you ever see me sneaking a sniff of Play-Doh at a department store or uncapping a black marker and shoving up my nostril, don't tell the manager on me. Because that would really stink!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Barats and Bereta: Skitlets - Episode 1

American Idol: Recap of Top 5 performance show

One of my favourite singers mentored the Top 5 on the songs of Frank Sinatra this week. I thought Harry Connick Jr. did a great job and was very entertaining. I loved his sense of humour and the repartee between Ellen and him was quite funny.

This was the week when Crystal Bowersox dropped into second place from first, if you ask me. I think Lee DeWyze is now the favourite to win. He just seems like he cares more about winning than Crystal. Also, his performance last night was praised by all.

With Lee and Crystal likely in the Top 2, who does that leave in the bottom three? Well, that would mean Michael "Big Mike" Lynche, Aaron Kelly and Casey James, will duke it out tonight. In my opinion, however, this week it's all over but the crying for Casey, who should be eliminated tonight after his absolutely worst performance this season. I think that's pretty much a given.

If he barely made it through last week after singing brilliantly, I can't see him making it through this week's disaster, especially considering that he really looked like he was giving up.

Read all about it in today's Idol Chatter column appearing in the Moncton Times & Transcript and Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

To find out who goes home this week, tune in to Fox tonight at 10 p.m. Atlantic / 9 p.m. Eastern. If it's anyone but Casey, it will be a real shame. He should go after last night.

This week's Hump Day column...


... is about the power of smells and the memories they evoke in us.

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

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

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Weird and creepy cartoon of the past

Remember Barbapapa?



The people who made these were obviously on drugs.

Monday, May 03, 2010

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's campaign faux pas

Campaigning for re-election on April 28, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown forgot he had on a live microphone when he hopped in his limousine and left an event. The media picked up what he was saying and decided to air his nasty words about a woman to whom he'd been speaking.



... and the apology...

Barats and Bereta: God's Facebook

Actress Lynn Redgrave dead at 67

British-born actress Lynn Redgrave has died at the age of 67 after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. She was part of the legendary Redgrave acting family that includes sister Vanessa and late niece Natasha Richardson (daughter of Vanessa, wife of Liam Neeson).

Here she is in a recent conversation with Justin Tuck of NYTimes.com:



... and in a retro Weight Watchers commercial (she's on the left):

.

Sad to hear this news. I always liked her. Rest in peace.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Foreigner's Lou Gramm is 60 today

Lou Gramm, former lead singer of the rock group Foreigner, turns 60 today. I remember seeing them here in concert in Moncton in 1995. They were awesome!

Gramm was lead singer on some of Foreigner's biggest hits, including:

"Urgent"...



and "I Want to Know What Love Is"...