Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One Year And Counting

A year ago today, Global Montreal Morning News made its modest debut. At times during those early days, we felt like we were in the driver’s seat and to go along with those moments of supreme confidence, there were many more moments when we felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants.

And our pants were on fire.

A year later, we’ve got a show we’re proud of and it’s a show Montrealers appreciate and enjoy for a variety of reasons.

Thankfully, Camille, Jessica and I haven’t throttled each other yet, which means the initial chemistry is largely intact and our on-air energy, ever-present.

One year later
Admittedly, there have been tweaks and, based on your preferences and ours, there will continue to be tweaks. We continue to strive for perfection because we know it's out there!

There have been breathtaking high points and difficult low points for all of us working on the show. In the end, we all care very much about the product.

I always have a hard time believing I get paid to do some of the things I’ve done in broadcasting and this past year came with plenty of relevant examples. I got to meet James Blunt, Jason Derulo, Murray Head, Sarah Brightman, GinoVanelli, Matt Dusk, Steve Hill, Jonas and many more incredibly talented musicians. I met amazing athletes like Mikael Kingsbury, Travis Gerritts, Sebastien Toutant and, last week, Anthony Calvillo. Yes, I danced the twist with Chubby Checker and, of course, I got to sit down with former ISS commander, Chris Hadfield.

I’m fortunate to work with such sincerely passionate contributors as Jay, Eric, Marc, Micaela, Pearle, Iris and Vanessa!

The guests who come in for interviews on our television show put so much trust in you. I’m always honored. Many people who come in for interviews would rather jump out an airplane, as one reluctant interviewee frantically explained!

We do want to hear any comments viewers have to offer. Our show belongs to our viewers. Global Montreal Morning News continues to grow, but I’ve got news for you, Montreal; we’re just hitting our stride, baby!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Leading Edge Of Fashion

Scoff though you may, I know where I play.

I play on the leading edge of fashion. Those of us who play here, know it’s not always a popular place. It takes time before bold new trends are adopted by the mindless masses, but those masses will inevitably follow our brave, trail-blazing steps.

I have owned my Pumas for so long, they went out of style decades ago and then came back into style! History happens in circles and that’s something the great fashion trend setters, like myself, wholly understand. It’s all a question of patience and perception. Wait long enough and you will find yourself riding that familiar leading edge again.

It’s happened with my Lacoste sweater and now, I find myself with several articles of clothing, along with many coats, that are no longer in style. I wear them anyway because I understand it’s just a matter of time before they dazzle Paris and Milan once again.

Welcome back, fair bell bottoms. Where have you been, Adidas Gazelles?

It takes nerves of steel and unshaking focus in your fashion convictions. That’s how I roll. People may scoff and point, shocked, possibly even revolted by the severity of my outdated fashion statement, but know that in a decade or two, they will be coughing up considerable cash for what I’ve already owned for far too long.

I have been wearing LL Bean Duck Boots for decades! The same pair. I was mocked by family and friends. Ostracized. Ridiculed. Unfriendly chants hailed me. Did I waver? Not one iota. For years, I have been steadfastly wearing them to the grocery store and the local arena. Fearlessly, I wear them to work. I stand by their comfort, but most of all, their convenience. As an inherently lazy human, they are right up my alley! I need not bend down to lace them, snap them, or zip them.

Step in. Step out. End of story.
Palpable excitement as new boots arrive
They rock in winter, spring and fall! Though modest in appearance, they soar with practicality.

A few weeks ago, my son asked if he could wear my duck boots to the store! Gasping with excitement, I agreed! I sensed he was beginning to summon the rare, steely nerve required to be a true fashion icon. Like me, he was willing to go where no one in their right mind had willingly gone before.

Our duck boots may cause others to quack up, but when it comes to this footwear item, perhaps it's better that ducks of a feather, flock together.

Some might argue my duck boots have overstayed their welcome. Their insides are fraying, the rubber soles are virtually treadless and, on one side, there's a hole in the sole! It’s been that long. When I walk on the wet linoleum floor at the supermarket, I’m Bambi attempting to stand on a frozen pond, legs shooting out unpredicatably, straining joints, tendons and ligaments yet to be discovered by anatomists.

Last week, mostly for reasons of self-preservation, I decided to order myself a new pair of duck boots. Halfway through dialing the boot company, I stopped and, on a whim, asked my son if he wanted me to order him a pair. He said yes! Now he owns a pair of unpopular duck boots. He wears them in public! He enjoys their comfort, but most of all, their convenience.

Old pair on the left, shiny new pair on the right
You may dismiss his decision as a sign he’s as lazy as me, but I have learned that in a matter of decades, he will find himself on the leading edge of fashion, as others reluctantly and tentatively join in and begin wearing them, too.

I brim with pride. This is the leading edge, son. Welcome to it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Last Cupcake

It’s a trap and a toss-up, all at the same time.

Two possibilities. I can win by taking the last cupcake for myself, or I can lose. It’s a stress-infused, high-stakes gamble!

Susan occasionally cooks and bakes all sorts of tasty treats, including peanut butter, shortbread, or chocolate chip cookies. There’s also banana bread, sinful nanaimo bars and her family-famous oreo wafer cake! Over the holidays, you can add cherry cake to that list, along with mincemeat or lemon tarts. The cupcakes appear, unannounced, at any time of year.

These treats she prepares can usually be found assembled or stacked neatly on a foil-covered plate on top of the kitchen counter. From what I’ve been able to deduce, our assignment is to consume all prepared treats so that none of Susan’s kitchen talent and effort goes to waste.

I’m always happy to oblige! The problem arises when there’s only one remaining lemon tart or, in this case, one last cupcake.

There are times I lift off the foil to find a last slice of banana bread, or a last cookie.

Scenarios abound. If I eat the last cookie and someone else had plans for it, I lose. If I eat the last cookie and Susan had hoped it would be enjoyed by our son, I lose. If I don’t eat the last cookie and no one else ever does, I lose. I win if I eat it and no one had plans for it. I win if I eat it and no one else was ever going to eat it!

These dilemmas are toss-ups. They can go either way. Generally speaking, I’m not at liberty to conduct a poll in those moments when I lift off the foil to discover one last cookie, or cupcake. Everyone’s asleep. Everyone’s gone. Everyone’s busy. It’s hit or miss. If I leave the last cookie or last slice and it’s never consumed, Susan wonders, with indignation, why we didn’t finish her cookies.

In the past, I would hesitate to take the last cookie or banana bread slice, thinking, what if someone else wants to eat it. I would leave it and, inevitably, several days later, I would have to explain that I left it on the plate in case someone else wanted to eat it, or bring it to work, or school, as a snack.

The other day, I lifted off the foil to find a last cupcake. The sweet smelling vanilla cupcake was covered with icing and dotted with sprinkles. Frustrated by unfounded accusations I might not fully appreciate her cooking, I’ve recently begun to consume last cookies, tarts, bars and slices with reckless abandon and with little thought about who, if anyone at all, may have planned to eat it. It’s been working well for me.

Until last week.

Without hesitation and living dangerously, I popped the last cupcake in my mouth and went about my day. I had foolishly left the foil over the empty plate and when, hours later, I overheard Susan ask Tristan whether he wanted the last cupcake, I froze. As a bead of sweat lurched toward my eyelid, Tristan responded, saying a cupcake sounded yummy.

I thought I coud fit under the couch, but I was wrong.

During the subsequent interrogation, concepts such as greed and thoughtlessness were discussed, although most of the interrogation seemed to be rhetorical.

There will be another plate and, with it, another moment will arise where I’m forced to weigh my options. Better I weigh them than myself.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Playing Piccolo

I’ve been many times to many different recording studios, but hanging out at Studio Piccolo always seems to stand out. It’s a nice place, with nice people. Thanks to Rene for setting up my latest session there and thanks to audio engineer, Pierre Messier, for making the creative process the very best experience possible.

One of my work buddies was part of this latest session. Alain Marcil is an engineer at Global Montreal, but he’s also an accomplished musician. He played bass, mandolin and ukulele on the tunes I recorded. Also along for the first time was my son, Tristan. It was incredibly special to have him record at Piccolo!

Making music
The cover tune I posted on youtube this summer, “Mad World”, seems to be getting more attention than the two original songs I posted, so I decided to prepare a couple of new cover versions. I had recorded a version of Chantal Kreviazuk’s awesome song, “Invincible”, during my last session, but didn’t make a video. At Piccolo this time around, I decided to do a video of my version of the song and Alain contributes bass and a jovial, grooving ukulele to the track!

I’ve always appreciated Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain” and decided to do a version of it at Piccolo. Alain plays bass and mandolin on the song.

I had asked my son if he’d contribute a rap to one of my original songs. He said he would, so I wrote a tune last month called “Cool Beans”and we just recorded it. It’s a lighthearted romp based on a phrase my son has occasionally and mystifyingly dropped on me! I've loaded the track into my ipod, where the listing reads, "Cool Beans (feat. Bobby Button)"!

Including prep and mixing time, we were at Piccolo for twelve hours straight! For musicians like myself and Alain, the time goes by in the blink of an eye! I have a feeling it doesn’t go by at quite the same speed for Pierre and yet, through it all, he was patient, professional and happy to lend his production genius to our project! He has a great sense of humor and witnesses will confirm he’s quite a dancer!

Alain, Tristan and, on my left, Pierre
I always want to do too much when I go in the studio and, typically, due to budget and temporal restrictions, the finished songs are not quite what I had in mind but, thanks to Alain, Tristan and Pierre, an absolute delight to create!

Under Randy's watchful eye
One of Tristan’s buddies, Randy Satandrea, contributed his creative eye for pictures and eventual videos, which I hope to post to youtube in the coming weeks!

If you’ve given my stuff a view on youtube, thanks, it's always gratifying to be able to share the music.