Monday, May 30, 2011

Rock On, Alain

A new video game company is opening in Montreal.

Sava Transmedia will develop quality social games for mobile devices. The man behind the new venture announced today is Alain Tascan, who I first interviewed several years ago when he was CEO of Electronic Arts Canada. Alain is also the founder of Ubisoft's Montreal studio.

Quite a resume!

Not too long ago, we visited him at EA and he took time out to jam with Tristan.

It should be interesting to watch this thing go!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Exhibit A

A few weeks ago, Susan announced the vacuum cleaner no longer worked.
I brought it to the repair shop and told the guy at the counter that my wife said it's not pulling anything up anymore.
Yesterday, the shop called to say it was ready and today, I went to pick it up.
The repair cost $26.
I asked what the problem had been and was told it was a strap inside the motor, along with the items in the plastic bag that he'd draped over the vacuum cleaner handle.
The items I spotted in the bag prompted a weak smile, as the repairman simply stared back at me.
I give you Exhibit A.

Susan half-heartedly denies ever vacuuming the items shown; a pen, a fridge magnet and a tube of lipstick!
I can tell you I definitely did not vacuum the above items and would, at the very least, know with considerable certainty whether I had!
That's all I'm saying and with both hands, I now hold my tongue.

Song 5000

I just happened to check the number of songs on my iPod the other day.
I was at 4996.
I loaded three songs from The Asteroids Galaxy Tour and decided to see whether I could come up with an especially significant 5000th song to download.
It's been a few days.
I asked a few people for suggestions.
My wife simply exclaimed, "I can't imagine any songs which you don't already have!"
My sister-in-law, Kim, visiting from Calgary, suggested "Crazy River" by Robbie Roberston.
After confirming to my son that I might quote their suggestions in this blog, he stared up at the ceiling thoughtfully and said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
He suggested I make that his quote.
Always helpful, that boy, lol.
I happened to hear a song I liked by the New Radicals the other day.
I liked it when it first came out in 1998 and decided to download it.
The title is kind of philosophical, as well as being good advice - "You Get What You Give".
Here's the album.

The song reached number 36 on the US Billboard Top 100 and number 1 on the RPM Canadian Singles Chart.
I like the song, I like the title.
What else is there?
There you have it; "You Get What You Give" by the New Radicals, song number 5000 on my iPod.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What A Year

Well, that was fun!

Today was my last day as anchor of the evening newscast. Colleagues kindly took a moment to toast my time at the desk with champagne and carrot cake. I'd been doing the job for just over a year, replacing the anchor who's been on maternity leave.

Sometimes walking through New York City I would imagine how cool it would be to have a great job in such an awesome city. That's what this last year has been for me. Almost every night, walking to the train after my day was done, I'd stop at the northeast tip of this corner and take stock.

I'd look up at PVM to my left, the huge beaux-arts style Sun Life building on my right and the La Gauchetiere building in front of me and think, "Yahoo, I'm getting to work at a great job in an awesome city!" What a rush to feel like you contribute to the vitality of a great city like Montreal!

My bosses, Karen and Alexandra, have been wonderful! There have been lots of noteworthy moments working for the tone-deaf daughter of a pool shark!

On the night of December 3rd, I forgot all about make-up! One show this month, as I was reading on-air, several studio lights suddenly went out.

On January 7th, I touched my nose as I ended the newscast. The guys I play hockey with every week had convinced me to touch my nose to say "hello" to them on the air. They were giddy with excitement! The week after, as I walked into the dressing room, hockey bag slung over my shoulder, there was a smattering of applause from guys who'd seen the one-time-only greeting!

As I mentioned in Sunday's blog, I got to anchor the newscast, live, from the flood zone in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. It was a great experience.

Over the course of the year, I got to meet Olympic gold medallist Jasey-Jay Anderson. He was late for the interview and wasn't sure he'd be able to find his way out of our underground garage quickly enough to get upstairs to our studio, so I met him on the sidewalk and he drove his brother's oversized pick-up to a parking space as the roof of its cab rubbed up against the suspended height restriction signs.

I met the founder of the Fauna Foundation chimp sanctuary and interviewed the gracious painter, Tex Dawson, for Remembrance Day. I'm fascinated by the LHC Supercollider and got to ask a McGill physicist doing research at the facility, Dr Brigite Vachon, questions about the mind-boggling project. I met wrestler Jacques Rougeau at the end of October and former "Little House on the Prairie" star, Melissa Anderson, who now lives in Montreal. I met one of Canada's most consistently great athletes, Jennifer Heil.

In our "green screen" studio, I recently interviewed the articulate John Rhys-Davies, one of the stars of the incredibly successful "Indiana Jones" movies. He was in town to help promote an archaeology exposition at the science centre.

Earlier this year, Jonas performed "Seize the Day", one of my favorite songs off his last album, live, in the studio and on the November 13th show, the students of McGill University's glee club, Effusion A Capella, also performed live.Our entire staff thought they were terrific!

During the disco era, I was a fan of the group, "Toulouse". My favorite song by the group was the sultry "quasi-instrumental" tune, titled "Toulouse". I interviewed Judi Richards, one of the three women who made up the group and when I told her which song I liked, she decided to give me a "high five"! As part of the April 10th show, I got to interview two members of Karkwa, fresh off their Juno win.

The toughest part of the job was, after being told larger knots were the trend, learning how to tie a double windsor, only to be told a couple of months later, after I’d obliterated my memory of how to tie a single knot, that smaller knots were suddenly back in fashion!


As documented in my January 13, 2011 blog titled "Bathroom Bombfest", there were some ugly moments and one night, I found myself running through the darkened streets of Montreal with my triathlete boss, as we tried to catch separate trains!

Overall, I've spent the year working with superb people; our staff here in Montreal and the crew in Edmonton who talk in my ear when we're on the air; it's been the best!

Seriously, Jamie, you can hardly call two kids a family!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Flood of Gratitude

On Friday, I anchored the evening news live from St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the site of extensive flooding. The army is on the ground helping residents cope. Friday morning, Hydro-Meteo reported the water level of the Richelieu River at 30.69 metres, a metre higher than the normal 29.70 metres at which the river normally flows. About 3,000 homes have been affected and several houses are complete write-offs. A thousand people have been forced from their homes.

Doubtless, flood victims will be ripped-off by government compensation programs. That's unfortunate and wrong.

While on-site, I learned the importance of wind and wind direction in the propagation of flood waters. I was under the impression rainfall was the most devastating contributing factor.

We were lucky enough to find local residents willing to let us set-up our cameras on their front lawn and our microwave truck on their driveway. Sean Moore and his wife Lucie, later explained their decision by saying it's important to show viewers what's going on. One of our reporters covering the story, Gloria, snapped some photos.

Sean has been piling sandbags for neighbors and was paddling people and his own children up and down the street, so they could attempt to get on with their lives. Both Sean and Lucie are in the military and shared their rather stark logic with regard to serving tours of duty in dangerous parts of the world. They explained they simply want to be able to "do their jobs", even if those jobs involve engaging the enemy and the risk of dying.

Sean, one of our cameramen and I climbed into his canoe and taped an interview, which we broadcast during our program. He paddled us around the street as I asked him about the flood situation. We also did a live interview with the mayor of St Jean-sur-Richelieu.

For me, it was an extremely positive experience and there are a lot of people to thank, including Sean, his wife and our crews.

I hope our host's family and home emerge from the flood unscathed.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

National Horkers League

If Charles Dickens were available to write a book about the National Hockey League, I'm almost certain he would have to title it, "Great Expectorations". The story would obviously be about how professional hockey players are being drafted on the basis of their ridiculous spitting habits. The criteria would surely include frequency, distance, shape and follow-through.

Is there not one professional hockey player who sees this behavior as pointless and piggish?

I play hockey and have never once felt the urge to spit. Admittedly, some of the guys I play with do hork and gob, but that's just because they're impressionable and want to be "like the pros".

Shucks, even young hockey players are spitting. How nice. It must make a pro, proud.

Is it a measure of how tough you are? Are you marking your territory or something, or are you just confirming that most professional athletes tend to be a classless, overpaid, over-valued, self-important, ill-mannered bunch of boors?

Are there any athletes left who are decent role models?

Sadly, the list of fallen role models is deceptively long, but then, when spitting is a measure of your success as a member of society, what do you expect, or in this case, expectorate!

They could do so much good with their celebrity.

Sometimes we eat supper in the living room, watching a hockey game. Now, it's more revolting than anything else to try to eat a meal while player after player gobs, wretches, hawks and horks as the television camera slowly pans along the bench.

It's gone from the National Headhunters League to the National Horkers League.

I can't get the image of Dany Heatley, back in November when the Sharks made a trip to his former team in Ottawa, sitting on-camera, with a massive, grossly-colored wad of saliva caught on his stupid goatee.

At least basketball players limit themselves to dribbling and, for the record, if ever you see me spitting during one of my touchfootball games, I've swallowed a bug.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wearing My Poppy To Vote

Lest we forget, the reason we can vote is because Canadians fought and died.