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 (glen@braindiesel.ca).

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.

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For more information, please contact:

Glen Munro
(506) 862-8722
glen@braindiesel.ca
www.braindiesel.ca

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.