Friday, April 01, 2011

Nasty April Fool's joke in Moncton... a snow storm!

While most April Fool's jokes today were harmless pranks, this was the real thing! Not a snow storm to be seen in the entire month of March in Moncton, but this is what we got on April 1! Sheesh!

Video courtesy of Newschaser.

Idol Chatter review of American Idol’s March 31, 2011, episode — Second Top 11 results show

This week on American Idol, two contestants were eliminated because of last week’s “Judges’ Save” that kept Casey Abrams from being sent home much earlier than anyone thought he would be.

This week, the Top 11 contestants sang the songs of music legend Sir Elton John. (The producers originally picked a generic 80s theme but changed it afterwards.) I picked Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia to go home this week. Naima’s horrible reggae rendition of I’m Still Standing will likely go down in Idol history as a disaster. Thia’s bland performance of Daniel also put her in danger, I believed.

Was I right? Click one of the links below to read my review of last night’s performance show:

Moncton Times & Transcript: Click here

Fredericton Daily Gleaner: Click here
Also, here is the text of my review of the second Top 11 performance show that aired Wednesday, March 30. The column was printed in the newspapers but never made it to the online editions. For the record, here’s my review of this week’s performances:

Idol Chatter review of American Idol’s March 30, 2011, episode — Second Top 11 performance show

After last week’s shocking near elimination of fan-favourite Casey Abrams, two contestants are on the chopping block this week. Tonight, we’ll be down to nine singers after 11 performed songs from the repertoire of one of the world’s great music legends, Sir Elton John. Host Ryan Seacrest was joined by the usual trio of judges: Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson.

Scotty McCreery (17, Garner NC) – Country Comfort: This is Sir Elton’s only country song, so obviously Scotty chose it. His fan base would love this and he did a great job. Loved the bass note at the end. Killed it! Steven: Loves everything about his voice! Jennifer: Amazing instincts. Randy: He’s so in the zone!

Naima Adedapo (26, Milwaukee WI) – I’m Still Standing: I love Naima, but this reggae version of one of Sir Elton’s iconic tunes was a mistake. She even used the Jamaican accent. This will go down as a horrible moment in American Idol history. Just awful! Steven: The song fit her. Jennifer: The song wasn’t suited to reggae. Randy: Corny.

Paul McDonald (26, Nashville TN) – Rocket Man. Beautiful song! I love Paul, but I didn’t this song suited him. It was choppy and disconnected, but I liked the way he whispered the final word. Steven: This was the one song on Paul’s album that wouldn’t work. Jennifer: He could push a bit more. Randy: Felt he was holding back.

Pia Toscano (22, Howard Beach NY) – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me: Another power ballad. I’m getting bored with Pia, but she sings so well that you can’t deny her immense talent. At some point, she’ll have to bring some excitement, though. Steven: She nailed it! Jennifer: Goose bumps! Randy: Unbelievable!

Stefano Langone (22, Kent WA) – Tiny Dancer. Not a fan of this song. Can’t imagine what he was thinking, but I really liked this version after all. This was really great. Pleasantly surprised! The kid’s got charm to spare. Steven: He has a very sweet voice. Jennifer: Felt like he moved the crowd. Randy: Liked that he kept his eyes open for once!

Lauren Alaina (16, Rossville GA) – Candle in the Wind: Lauren has a beautiful and powerful voice. There was country lilt to this performance that suited her very well. I loved this! This was crazy good. Steven: It was perfect. Jennifer: Amazing and gorgeous! Randy: One of her best performances.

James Durbin (22, Santa Cruz CA) – Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting: James is always so much fun to watch. His joy is infectious. He truly loves singing and because of that, we love him, too! Perfect choice for him. Steven: A good thing! Jennifer: A performance of a great song by a great artist. Randy: A great performance!

Thia Megia (16, Mountain House CA) – Daniel. I don’t think a female should be singing this song. It’s more poignant for a man to sing it. I didn’t think this connected at all. Her voice was good, but I didn’t feel it. Steven: Sang a great Elton John song well. Jennifer: A beautiful moment for her. Randy: Too safe.

Casey Abrams (20, Idyllwild CA) – Your Song: A beautiful song. He needed to prove himself after a near-death experience last week. The new Casey was subdued and looked great with a trimmed beard and haircut. What a nice and humble performance. Hallelujah! He’s back! Steven: A true artist. Jennifer: It was very Casey! Randy: Brilliant and tender.

Jacob Lusk (23, Compton CA) – Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word: All of Jacob’s performances are starting to sound alike to me. Big emotional ballads with lots of drama. A bit overdone. Steven: Jacob slays him. Jennifer: Great last note. Randy: Needs to pick one spot in every song where he gives it his all.

Haley Reinhart (20, Wheeling IL) – Benny and the Jets: I didn’t like this at first, but she proved she has a seriously awesome singing voice here. Very Janis Joplin! She should be safe this week. Steven: She sings sexy! Jennifer: That was it!! Randy: Best performance of the night!

I’ll pick Naima for her disastrous reggae performance and Thia for her bland version of Daniel to be the ones on their way home to wait out the rest of the season before the Top 11 go on tour this summer. Tune in to Fox tonight at 9 p.m. for the results.

BULLETIN: Bono leaving U2 and won't appear in Moncton this summer

Fans who've been snatching up tickets to U2 in Moncton like they were hotcakes may want to consider getting refunds. Bono made it official on CNN last night that he's leaving the iconic Irish group -- the biggest touring band in the world right now.

Replacing Bono as lead singer of U2 for the Moncton concert will be 1980s pop star Rick Astley, who had a worldwide hit with "Never Gonna Give You Up" in 1987. In fact, the song hit #1 in 24 countries around the world.

"Rick Astley and I have been friends for 25 years," Bono told CNN. "We're huge fans of each other and he knows all our songs by heart. He's the perfect replacement and has a simply mad voice. Fans will be pleasantly surprised."

Moncton is the last date of U2's current tour. Bono told CNN he is retiring just before the show and is passing along lead singer duties to Astley only for the Moncton gig.

"I'm asking fans in Moncton to give Rick a chance and not ask for refunds. I think they'll love him," Bono said. For more on the CNN report, click here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hump Day: If you love Mondays you must be doing something right

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Editorial section

I sometimes wonder how people who have lost the desire to be in their jobs and feel trapped get through the day. It must be awful.

There are many people who keep their jobs just because of the salary. It's worse when you have a job you hate but make so much money that it's the only reason you stay. If you're not making a lot of money, I can imagine you would find it hard to feel sorry for someone who hates their job and is making close to $100,000 per year. Poor baby, right?

I've known people who've been making close to that and who leave their job because their heart wasn't in it. It wasn't their passion. They were dying inside and they weren't fulfilled. Sure, their wallet was in good shape, but their heart and mind weren't.

It's important to work in something you're passionate about.

Like many people, I've had well-paid jobs in the past that I just wasn't very excited about. One in particular, I remember as not being a good fit from the get-go. I knew it wasn't for me even when I applied for it, but being financially stressed at the time (as opposed to making the Oprah-level money I am now), I didn't care. All I saw were the dollar signs.

Unfortunately, dollar signs didn't equal passion when I eventually got the job and found myself behind a desk doing something I could not have cared less about. I was bored out of my tree. The duties didn't interest me in the least. I could barely muster up the courage to show up at work. Don't get me wrong, it was an important job, but I had applied for all the wrong reasons. Well, there was only one reason: the almighty dollar.

I often wonder why people who so clearly detest what they do stay in their jobs. Perhaps it's the money. Perhaps it's the routine. Maybe the comfort, even. Either you need the job to actually put food on the table, or you make so much that you need to keep the job to maintain the lifestyle to which you are accustomed.

The best option - at least theoretically - is that you're working in a job that you love, that pays a fortune and that fulfills you to an unlimited degree. Who wouldn't want that, after all? When you see people going above and beyond and working crazy hours at a job they love, it really isn't work for them. It's joy.

Life is too short to be doing something you hate. It isn't worth it. Depending on what religion you adhere to, we (may) only have one life to live on this Earth. Even if you believe - like some do - that we return to live many lives, then at least it's important to make this particular life worth it - even if you'll be back soon for another mission.

As much as I love social networking websites such as Facebook, I'm always dismayed at the number of negative messages every Monday morning. "Mondays suck!" "Mondays are awful!" "I hate Mondays!" If you hate Mondays that much, you should do yourself a favour (and I mean that literally) and get another job.

We're supposed to look forward to the future. We're supposed to look forward to Mondays. If you love your job, Monday should be the best day of the week, not the worst. I loved school and loved being with my friends during the school year. While I looked forward to weekends, I always remember loving Mondays ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. It's the start of new week, new opportunities and new possibilities.

Everyone has bad weeks, but bad weeks aren't supposed to last forever. Bad weeks aren't supposed to turn into bad months... and bad years... and then a bad lifetime. I'm sure you've heard of those who spend their entire lives in a job they hate just because of the pension. There's nothing sadder than that. And then when they finally retire and are able to live their real life, they get sick... or drop dead.

Working just to retire is no way to live, unless of course you love what you do. And if you're lucky enough to be one of those people, you are very fortunate.

Working in a job you love isn't always possible. Sometimes you just have to eat and pay the rent. We've all done that. And, quite frankly, there's nothing wrong with that. There's dignity in work. There's honour in good hard work. We learn things. We get things accomplished. We meet people - many of whom become friends.

But it's not normal to want to be sick to your stomach before you walk through the doors of your office at the beginning of every week.

Some of my best writing gigs right now don't pay as much when compared to some corporate work I do, but they're fun and I look forward to them. In short, I love them because they are part of my passion.

I've been writing since I was a kid. I used to scribble gibberish on paper (some would say that I still do that) because I thought that was "handwriting." Today, I love the fact that writing has become my career. I look forward to every moment of it - whether it's for the newspaper or another client.

I used to have a cleaning lady who told me point blank: "I love to clean!" In fact, you could have performed surgery on my floors after she was done with them. I always admired what she said that day. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it's your passion.

If Monday is your favourite day of the week, you're doing something right!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sam Tsui: Born This Way (cover)

Here's another great video by Sam Tsui -- this time a cover of Lady Gaga's Born This Way.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Beloved Canadian actor and comedian Roger Abbott dies at 64

Fans of Royal Canadian Air Farce will be deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the untimely death of Roger Abbott, one of the founders of the comedy troupe. He was 64. He died Saturday night in Toronto after secretly battling leukemia for 14 years. Other than to a few close friends and family, he only disclosed his illness about a week ago. A truly sad day for Canadian culture and entertainment. Click here for a CBC News report on his death.