Saturday, July 30, 2011

Twins Were A Treat

The Edwards Twins are performing in Montreal this weekend.
They appeared in character for a performance in our studio.

Anthony and Eddie put a lot of energy and work into their act.
It was fun and those guys can sing!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Maze Rat - Season One

Quite mysteriously, the Paul McCartney show had not been an issue the night before!

I finished the 11pm newscast and effortlessly made my way through the streets around and behind the concert venue and then, smoothly drove up on to the highway.

Wednesday night, when I pulled out of the garage at the very same time, there were people everywhere! The former Beatle had obviously decided to make the last of his two shows in Montreal, a longer one, or perhaps a snapped cane had detained him. Freshly-released concert-goers were casually crossing streets, filling sidewalks and carelessly weaving through traffic. St-Antoine Street, directly behind the venue, had, conveniently, been closed by police.

Along with the cab in front of me, I eventually made an illegal turn south onto Peel Street, hoping to escape the torment of bumper-to-bumper traffic!

I turned west onto Notre-Dame Street and endured horribly bumpy roads and red lights, thinking with unshakeable certainty, t’is far better to be moving, than not.

I was pretty sure at that point I'd make it all the way to the 20 along this route, but, most conveniently, Notre-Dame was closed at St-Remi. An accomplished problem-solver, I decisively turned north on to St-Remi and accelerated. A split second later, I stopped the car and stared at the large truck, stuck halfway through the one-lane tunnel. It was, quite conveniently, not going anywhere! Its hazard signals blinked mockingly as people milled about, gesturing.

I must reluctantly admit that, by now, I was barely sane anymore.

I didn't want to enter the tunnel because cars behind me would pen me in, preventing me from ever backing out. Crazily, I contemplated the southbound side of the tunnel. It beckoned me with oncoming headlights and, after allowing a car to pass, I made a mad dash for daylight, zooming northward through the tunnel in the southbound lane.The panel truck behind me, followed. We made it to St-Jacques where, once I began heading west, I found myself  in the hospital construction zone. I made it through there fairly quickly and began travelling west along St-Jacques, enduring horribly bumpy roads and red lights, thinking with unshakeable certainty, t’is far better to be moving, than not.

I could only conclude I had inadvertently steered my car on to the set of “Maze Rat”, the new game show!

I pointed the car into the access lane emptying onto westbound 20 and sighed with relief. On the highway now, as I zoomed through the curve, I suddenly realized traffic in front of me was completely stopped! There was nobody behind me, so I slowed and stopped, leaving a large gap between myself and the stopped car in front. I turned on the "hazards" to warn idiots like myself, who might come speeding up behind me, failing to realize traffic was at a standstill.

I had left work at about 11:40pm and painstakingly crawled through that stretch until 12:35, as the far left lane gradually crammed into the middle lane and then, as the middle lane gradually crammed itself into the far right lane. In no particular order, I cursed, crabbed, gritted and whimpered. There was no one in the closed lanes, no sign of a construction worker or a useful construction tool. I finally made it on to northbound 13 and assumed nothing.

I should have known it would be one of those nights by virtue of how my drive had begun.The cameraman who was working the late shift left early, having cleverly factored-in the concert, construction and finishing fireworks. As I wound my way through the underground garage after my shift, I arrived at exit level to find a shiny white vehicle blocking my path.

Instantly, having developed rather acute olfactory prowess, I caught the unmistakable scent of manure and methane gas. The car was packed with wal-mart oxen! Noticing me behind them, they inched their vehicle toward the barrier, not knowing what to do next. They tried to put the ticket in the slot, but the task was far too delicate for the large-hoofed oxen at the wheel! They sat there. Grunting restlessly, they appeared to be discussing their next move. I knew I wouldn’t approve. They did nothing. I waited, pretending to be courteous. Pretending to be politically correct, I shall choose now, not to mention nationalities.

Eventually, the attendant came out and explained to the oxen they had to pay the ticket before driving to the exit. He told them to circle back in order to pay at the machine. They sat there. He gestured again, telling them to loop around and go pay the ticket. They sat there, tails flicking flies off their big butts. He gestured in my direction and again, made the "loop around" gesture. They sat there. After several tedious minutes, a hoof tentatively emerged from the window, clutching dollar bills. The attendant refused to go pay the ticket for them, waving his hands from side to side. They sat there. I sat there. The hoof didn’t budge, hanging dumbly in the air until the attendant gave in. As he walked in front of my car on his way to a machine, I shouted through lowered windows, “Can’t you let me go around them?” He replied, “I will pay the ticket.”

Smoke shot from my ears and I leaned on the horn.

A male oxen clumsily opened the back door of the car and looked at me with big bovine eyeballs. I heard a thud and, at first, thought one of the horns on his head had hit the door frame, but I realized he had banged the car door againt the concrete podium supporting the ticket machine. I bet the door was dented; tee hee! As I looked back at him, I impatiently screwed my index finger back and forth against my temple, congratulating him on having reached the pinnacle of oxenhood. He gestured with two hands and closed the door.

Last night, for sanity’s sake, I decided to take the train. No bumpy roads, detours and red lights for me. I boarded, thinking with unshakeable certainty, t’is far better to be moving, than not.

Alas, it turns out the last train from Montreal carries freak freight, with oblivious oxen scattered about, eagerly pulling off their shoes and propping their smelly hooves up on seats. The guy who’d staggered into the train with a much steadier friend, regaled us with wretches, heaves and the sound of plopping vomit. The friend had brought a clear, plastic bag big enough to hold a yard full of leaves.

I got off the train vowing that, tonight, I’d give the car another chance.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Unfiltered Pastures

It’s such a nice way to spend a warm summer evening, watching a fireworks show in Montreal.

Last night, we were at La Ronde to watch Canada’s entry in l’International des Feux Loto-Quebec. The show was presented by BEM Fireworks.

In my opinion, last night’s spectacle was at its finest when the soundtrack reached Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”. The choice of colors and bomb sizes dazzled and this particular section featured, dare I say, impeccable synchronization.

By way of sight and sound, finales at the Montreal fireworks competition nearly always boggle the brain and this one did not disappoint!

It was nice to spend time together and with Tristan’s friend. Eric.

Naturally, when out in large crowds, there’s the inevitable risk of encountering Wal-Mart oxen who’ve dumbly strayed from the herd. Unfortunately, for the duration of the show, we were forced to endure the stupid comments, loud singing and inane conversation of two grunting cows plopped directly behind us. The only break from their snorting and cud-chomping came when they were drowned out by multiple fireworks explosions, or when they lifted their hefty frames off tortured chairs to trod off, hooves clomping, for another sip of free wine.

Susan, itching to comment on their inconsiderate grazing habits, either doesn't understand, or doesn't accept, that brushes with these beasts is par for the course when wandering unfiltered pastures.

From the perspective of average Canadian or tourist, bilingual narration would have been much appreciated in last night's show because as far as I’m concerned, it’s not Canada if it’s not bilingual .

Friday, July 22, 2011

She Heard Every Word

It's been a long week work-wise and it hasn't. Working the morning radio show on "The Q" and then anchoring the evening news at the television station all this week, made for a lot of hours, but co-workers and the work itself, made it fun.

As much as she claims to enjoy hot water bottles and heating pads, there are, apparently, limits to how much heat one human can handle! Sarah, who's hosting the Q morning show right now, had a supper party at her place yesterday, the evening of the hottest day of the year! She ended-up apologizing for the heat to her dinner guests on-air this morning and because of the stifling heat, didn't sleep at all herself! During this morning's show, she informed me science has established, empirically, women use three times more words than men over the course of a day. It occurred to me at that point, her chattiness, not the "heat dome", might have been the reason the heat in her apartment became so unbearable.

Yes, Natasha, who was doing traffic, beat me soundly and roundly every day Sarah had us guessing the ages of celebrity birthday subjects, but to thump on the studio window where I was diligently writing newscasts and swing her clasped hands over her head in mock celebration, was, quite frankly, beyond good taste. Evidently, gloater girl is unaccustomed to winning!

Sarah is a self-confessed neat freak who enjoys cleaning bathrooms. She's a professional, smooth and pleasant host, as well as being, based on the photos on her smart phone, a fine abstract artist.

Working the board, the ever-attentive Chris, kept everything on-track with cues, tag info and smiles.

On Wednesday, Sarah hinted that I should bring in treats. Fine, I made a sincere effort to oblige. She seemed to barely tolerate the donut holes I brought in Thursday. On Friday, the wheels flew off as I innocently placed a package of "bridge mixture" on the studio table! I was summarily devastated on-air for my choice of treat and, at one point, she dismissed the candy as suited solely to "72 year olds"!

The people at Lowney should really know about this.

I've liked them for decades before concerns over hydrogenation forced me to drastically cut back. Are people so oblivious to the delightful variety inherent in this candy? I thought my discovery of a bridge mixture Facebook page might provide proof the treat is current and hip, but that backfired, big time! The page mentions "bridge parties, tea at senior centres and funeral receptions"; I'm thinking that's not likely to help sway the opinions of Sarah and Chris.

As part of a discussion, she asked me this morning on-air what things my wife does that annoy me. I wasn't going there and motivated by Darwinian instinct, cautiously replied, "Hi honey, I hope your train ride is going well." Susan and her network of spare ears are listening and, as it turns out, when I saw her at lunch, she had heard every word.

Filling-in was fun. Plus, I discovered two more songs for my iPod, "Night Like This" by Shawn Desman and "Insensitive" by Jann Arden.

I'm finishing a two-week stint today, filling-in on the television news desk; something I always enjoy doing (kindly refer to my "What A Year" blog, dated May 13, 2011).

On Wednesday, Tristan turned 16 and, the next day, he got help from his friend, Nathan, setting up his new Apple computer. I'm still wobbly over how quickly the time has passed.

The week ended with me preparing to leave the television station tonight as Peter was telling me about "Rizzoli & Isles",  a new show he's watching, starring Angie Harmon. He suddenly and unexpectedly volunteered a rather disturbing thought, aloud, "I think if I were to meet Angie Harmon, I'd lose control of every orifice."

Hmmmm, maybe that's why I'm wobbly.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy B-day

He's the coolest guy I know.
He's almost as tall as me.
He's learning how to drive.
He's going downtown by himself on the metro and train.
Today, he turned sixteen.
They call it growing up.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Tristan put the latest album by The Script on my iPod and suggested I listen to the song, "Nothing". I listened to it twice while riding the train into work today and once more on the way home. It's nice, but darn sad; I feel for the guy. Later in the day, Tristan called me at work and, over the course of our conversation, he mentioned I should also give the song, "This Equals Love", a listen.

On the train home tonight, I looked for it. I scrolled and scanned and then scanned, scrolled and scoured, just to make very sure. I concluded that particular title wasn't on the song list for the album he had downloaded. I got home and confidently told him I couldn't find the "This Equals Love" song. I was quite sure it wasn't there! I casually handed him my iPod and suggested he attest to its absence himself. Two second later, oh, so cruelly scoffing and guffawing in my direction, he had found it. He demanded to know whether I was blind and so on and so on.


I can't get a break! I was forced to confess that when I use my iPod, rather than put my reading glasses on every time I change songs, I vainly go lens-free. I prefer to squint and pretend I can still read smaller type. It reassures me. Most times, I reliably find the song I'm looking for. As I searched the song titles to find "This Equals Love", I kept looking for the word "equals" because I was fairly certain the word "equals" would have jumped out at me! No such luck. I found no word "equals" in any of the titles listed on The Script's latest album.

It turns out the song is listed thusly, "This=love". My slightly blurred vision did not allow me to differentiate, discern, distinguish or recognize the symbol for "equals" and my brain had not offered up the perceptual possiblity that "equals" might have been depicted by its symbol as opposed to being spelled out.


I still refuse to wear glasses while searching my iPod for song titles and I can deal with the humiliation of having to explain how a shrimpy song title got past me.

Now, I'm bracing for a scorcher, Sunday. Susan loves the heat and never seems to sweat! One day this week, I can't remember whether it was Monday or Tuesday, the temperature tipped a hot and humid 33 degrees. Susan very kindly tackled the lawn in that heat! I came back from work, thanked her for mowing the grass and asked hopefully, "Did you at least sweat?"

"Just a few drops", she smiled. I would have unhappily and sloppily shed 62 pounds!

On the way to the train this week, while blinking stinging drops of sweat from my eyes, I found her Mmmmmuffins card lying in the grass in front of the municipal court building! We often eat lunch together downtown and she usually stops to buy a tea before we head back to work. The card looked familiar, so I bent down and picked it up. How many could there be lying between our house and the train station?

See, I can see!

Some mornings when it's hot and humid and I'm beginning my walk to the train, I'm dripping three steps from the door. It's morning and I'm already drenched!

Anchoring tonight's newscast, as the weather guy announced that with the humidity it would feel like 40 degrees Celsius Sunday, the director, Margo, muttered "disgusting", in my ear. I said, "If I'm outside on Sunday in 40 degree heat, I'll be disgusting; sweaty, sticky and stinky." She shot back, "Embrace it, own it."

I will try.

Maybe I'll listen to this=love.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Starch-Free Royalty

I didn’t watch the royal wedding. Weddings alone are a guarantee of nothing. I’ve observed the marriages of plenty of people who’ve appeared far more in love than the royal couple go down in rip-roaring flames! Let’s face it, if the ingredients to a special relationship aren’t there to begin with, no marriage can manage to prolong the inevitable.

That’s another blog entirely.

I, certainly and wholeheartedly, wish the royal couple a relationship that is steadfast and unwavering in its happiness and endurance. The scrutiny they must endure is a royal pain in the butt and it's sure to put their relationship to many a hefty test.

I was far from in a tizzy when the duke and duchess first arrived in Canada to begin their nine-day visit, but within a matter of hours, I was inexplicably tizzy-bound! I surprised myself and must now admit I found their visit enthralling from beginning to end!

On Monday, as he perfected his “waterbirding” technique, I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen as Prince William repeatedly landed the CH124 Sea King on the water at Dalvay by-the-Sea in PEI and then took off again.

I certainly didn’t expect to have access to live pictures of his helicopter lessons, their dragon boat race, their cooking class at ITHQ or William’s barrel toss. What fun! The couple offered us an all-access visit designed to openly share their enjoyment of our land and our people.

In crowds, in kitchens, in museums, in processions, in private conversations with children and veterans, they showed immeasurable poise, class and grace.

It gives those of us who care about being better people something to strive for.

William always seemed interested and sincere; Kate was no less attentive to the countless individual Canadians she met.

Whether in cowboy hats or paddling garb, they were terrific and terrific together! They seemed to reflect the unbridled enthusiasm, exuberance and excitement so generously showered upon them by Canadians from coast to coast.

Typically, Quebec’s goons were the embarassing exception. Will and Kate weren’t here as royalty as much as they were here as people interested in where and how we live. They came with no overt or covert agenda. When Will and Kate begin influencing our political fate, you can start griping, until then, why not be, at the very least, civil.

Today they ended their trip to Canada and left me wiser and slightly more enlightened. It turns out starch-free royalty is downright refreshing!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

You Do What, Where...Why

It’s really quite weird, this thing they call planking,
On a scale of originality, it might earn a high ranking.
The wheels in my boy’s brain have been tirelessly cranking,
In his quest for fun, it seems his mind has been blanking!

Should I question as well whether his intelligence is tanking?
In his high-powered cranium, are there loose marbles clanking?

He may find it unchallenging, on that I am banking,
But quite earnestly, planking really is harmless pranking,
That, frankly, to me, merits not even a spanking.
Heck, Bieber is tweeting about all of his planking.

At least it’s not backflipping, for that I am thanking!



Saturday, July 2, 2011

Michael Felts

I had been pestering my boss for a few days about getting a company shirt to wear on-camera. As illogical as it seemed to me, it seemed impossibly difficult to squeeze one out of the promotions department. Wearing the logo on-air seemed like great advertising and a brilliant way to identify the station to morning channel-surfers.

After a few days of hounding, I was finally handed a company shirt to wear on-air! Woo-hoo! The first day I wore it on the morning show, I had organized a visit to the Dollard pool to interview Michael Phelps. It was May 10, 2005.

I had three two-minute segments to do during the show, but, much earlier, I would always do a “teaser” to let viewers know where I was and what they would see over the course of the morning. It would normally last about 30-40 seconds.

As I set up for the "teaser", Phelps had already arrived and was off-camera, chatting graciously with coaches and eager young swimmers. As I went on the air, live, explaining where we were, Michael Phelps walked over, pulled the top off a black Sharpie permanent marker and autographed the brand new shirt I was wearing. After managing to get a couple of sentences out, I stood there dumbfounded, trying to smile, while, inside, I moaned, “Nooooooooooo!”

The shirt I had nagged the station to give me was no longer wearable!

My cameraman, Gilbert, who often generated mischief, had told Michael to sign my shirt as soon as I started speaking in front of the camera!

Dealing with the fresh felt scrawl that morning was tough, but by the time we left and after speaking with Michael and watching him with the kids and in the pool, I had come to accept and value the signature.

Michael Phelps is in Montreal today for the “Canada Cup-Coupe Quebec” swim meet happening at the Olympic Park athletic centre. His visit made me think of that morning in May.

Of course, along with the rest of the world, I went on to watch, awestruck, as he won eight Olympic gold medals in Beijing in 2008, for a total of 16 in his amazing, ongoing career. He is truly an athlete of legendary stature, winning the World Swimmer of the Year award six times.

Lucky me, I now have a shirt/museum piece signed by Michael Phelps and it’s probably worth significant money now!

Merci encore, Gilbert!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Always An Enjoyable Stay

I’ve been taking a pounding at ping pong! It used to be that I could beat Tristan for a game or two here or there. Lately, in game after game, he’s been clobbering me; trouncing and devastating me! I absolutely refuse to chalk up my losess to a weakening of my game, which leaves me with one bearably plausible explanation, namely, a marked improvement in his game.

I’ve given it far too much thought and analysis. His game has always been less about placement than it is about power; he’s been hitting with more speed and consistency. Last night, as the clock ticked toward Canada Day, I finally got back in the win column! It had been so long since I’d been there, I barely recognized the place. Tristan’s obviously done some decorating which, I suppose, is understandable because the win column is always an enjoyable stay.

By Tristan’s count, what kind of a child counts these things, I had lost fourteen straight games before winning one last night! The drought has been long and destabilizing.

I blame the bench press! Since the bench press came into our lives, my ping pong game has, coincidentally, headed south! It may be more honest to say my ping pong game hasn't gone anywhere. It's still plopped lazily in a lawn chair sipping chilled cola, while Tristan’s ping pong game has bounded north!

As his arms swell with muscularity, mine flounder in flab. It’s time to fight fire with fire!

These days, I’ve got 10 pounds on one side of the barbell and 10 pounds on the other, plus 5 pounds for the barbell itself, that makes 25 pounds that, with strenuous huffing and puffing, will lift me back to my proper place at the pinnacle of ping pong!

Just as I, several times a day, give thanks for my health and the health of my nuclear family, I also give thanks for being born Canadian.

As I build toward bench press history and, as I build toward re-claiming the Father/Son Ping Pong Crown, or at least borrowing it for a game here and there, this truly is a Canada Day to celebrate!.