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.

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For more information, please contact:

Lorrie Bell Hawkins
Tel.: (506) 863-5040
E-mail: bellhawk@nbnet.nb.ca
Web: www.percheronpresscanada.ca

For review copies, please contact:
Corey Redekop
Tel: 1-888-926 8277
E-mail: credekop@nbnet.nb.ca

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

Sunday, November 21, 2010