Thursday, November 19, 2015

Protect and Serve

Watching the living nightmare unfold Friday, we couldn’t stop wondering why police were not going into the Bataclan club.

There were reports of a tweet from someone inside, begging authorities to launch an assault because people in the club were being slaughtered.

Still, police made no move to rescue the innocent, unarmed people inside.

The killers simply fired into the people laying on the floor, re-loaded and went on shooting.

Watching the coverage, we were upset and disgusted by the lack of movement on the part of authorities. Has there been an explanation as to why none of the well-armed officers standing outside bothered to try to rescue the victims inside?

Don’t police feel some responsibility for the terrible number of people killed so casually inside? Aren’t the families of the 90 victims demanding answers – why didn’t police attack sooner?

The armed terrorists pulled up in a black car outside the club at 9:40PM Paris time and police only stormed the place at 12:20AM. How is that not criminal?

I’ve had arguments with police acquaintances before, telling them they have a responsibility to protect the innocent and unarmed in dire situations. I was told by one officer I know, his first responsibility is self-preservation.

Were police too afraid to go in to rescue the helpless Bataclan concert-goers?

Police have guns so they can protect people who do not have guns from evil individuals using guns to kill.

Where were the cowboys and overzealous macho cops as people were dying inside?

I want to believe police officers would assume the terrible risk in the name of the innocent and unarmed who are being targeted by violence; I was under the impression that’s their job.

Montreal police officer Denis Cote made all the difference back in September 2006 when he went into Dawson College and took down a deranged shooter.

If police can’t do the job, then make it easier for citizens to protect themselves and their fellow citizens.

Don’t just stand back and let innocent people die.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Avoid Asterisk

Forget that.

I certainly don’t think they should change the nets in the NHL.

There’s talk of making the nets bigger in order to allow more goals and increase the entertainment value of the game.

I’m entertained by brilliant saves and close shots. I really don’t see the problem. Players will find ways to score with more tic-tac-toes and breathtaking, pinpoint sniping.

Last night’s game between my consistently inconsistent Senators and the Predators had plenty of goals with a final score of 7-5!

Some say goalies are too big. The 12 goals scored in the game last night were against Ottawa’s Craig Anderson at 6’2’ and Pekka Rinne for Nashville at 6’5”. They were not too big.

There have been plenty of changes to goalie equipment; blockers, sticks, helmets, trappers and pads. There have been changes to crease size and crease accessibility.

Smaller equipment may be an answer, as long as protection of goalies is not compromised.

Even the role of goalies in the game has been changed. At one time, NHL goalies had to immediately drop any pucks they caught and were not allowed to fall down to stop a shot.

It was Perce LeSuer, a goalie with the Senators, who came up with the first crossbar on an NHL net in 1912. His proposal kept the 6 foot by 4 foot opening but added a webbed top 17 inches deep at the top and his design made the net 22 inches deep at the base. Before that, nets were open at the top.

Go ahead, make changes if you must, but don’t touch net size or angle the posts. The stats earned by the great players who make up the legacy of the NHL should stand against the numbers collected by modern players, just as they always have. 

Avoiding an asterisk situation, that should be the goal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Celebrating the Bear Facts

I had my Voter Information Card in my coat and my son had his card in-hand as well. We backed the car out of the driveway, off to vote in Monday’s federal election. We barely got 50 metres from the house when my son commented that my wife’s Voter Information Card was on the edge of the kitchen table. We knowingly looked at each other, turned the car around and went back to move the card to the middle of the table.

Those are the Bear facts. There was a strong possibility that if the card was within snout distance, Bear might indulge his crazy cardboard craving by exuberantly mulching it.

As she reads this, I guarantee my wife is rolling her eyes because she’s identified me as the guilty party who allegedly nurtures his cardboard craving. He is so thrilled to be handed a finished paper towel roll, I can’t help it; I understand it!

I always pick up the shredded pieces afterward.

Do not be fooled by that adorable face
One week ago today, he indulged his craving for furry things by eating a thin, fluffy toy with round plastic squeakers at both ends. I saw him chewing it earlier in the day and idiotically gave him the benefit of the doubt. He hadn’t swallowed anything in a while; at least nothing we’re aware he swallowed.

Later in the day, we began searching for evidence the missing toy ever existed at all. There was none. Vaporized by aliens! Fairly certain it lay crumpled in his stomach, we went to the vet and asked them to induce vomiting. Five minutes after they took him in the back, they returned with the intact toy wrapped in a towel, squeakers and all.

Those are the Bear facts.

One year ago Saturday, we drove home with a little ALD on my wife’s lap in the back seat.

We had a hard time naming him but, because he looked so much like a teddy bear, we settled on Bear.

He was supposed to be 25 pounds but now weighs 40 and he provides us with no shortage of weighty adventure!

As I pointed out in an earlier blog ("Spotless Insanity" May 21, 2015), we’re a lot more careful about leaving potential ingestibles lying around. Clearly, we have some work to do yet.

The "Doodle Romp" in Ottawa
He's so darn cute and loveable! Those are the Bear facts!

He embodies sheer exuberance and, for his trouble, his personal Instagram account, @thedoodlebear, went over 1000 followers on October 18th! I’m way back there, eating doodle dust with a measley 250 followers. That’s my Bear fact.

Earlier this month, we attended the “Doodle Romp”, organized by his breeder in Ottawa. It was great fun for us and for Bear! The breeder invites owners of her Australian Labradoodles back to her home in the country to see how her dogs are doing and to, I'm convinced, surreptitiously, assess the mayhem they’ve sown.

What a year it’s been. We’re celebrating the first anniversary of the Bear facts on Saturday, although I’m pretty sure our unimpressed Westie, Spike, will choose to sleep through the whole thing.

Cardboard for everyone!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Brace Yourself for Mr Blotchy

We tape Montreal Billboard on Friday.

I got up this morning and noticed a nasty cold sore emerging on the left side of my bottom lip.


Then, I shaved and cut myself in the centre of my upper lip.


I went to the studio and thanked Stephanie, the make-up artist, profusely, when she expertly made them disappear.

See, you can't even notice cuts and sores!
We recorded our show and as I walked back to the train later in the day, a TVA reporter and her cameraman cornered me at the red light as I waited to cross Ste-Catherine at McGill College.
I had initially waved her off, which is what I always do, since I work in the media myself.

She was good - and politely persisted, asking me about the federal election. I answered in French, explaining my mind still wasn’t made up. When she asked me why I was not yet decided, I told her none of the candidates have inspired me.

She asked whether I would be voting; I assured her that, without a doubt, I would be voting. The brave men and women of Canada who fought and died in the wars of this world sacrificed their lives so that I could cast a ballot, choosing the government and policies under which I live.

Do not doubt I will exercise my democratic right!

Thanking me for my comment, the reporter turned off the camera and kindly said she hoped I would be inspired over the coming weekend.

I was being honest.

None of the party leaders have anything new, inspiring, or the least bit visionary to offer. It all strikes me as gibberish and none of it helps me any more or less than I'm already being helped or hindered by politicians in this country. I sincerely wish that wasn't the case. I would like to sit up in my seat, convinced a politician and his or her policies could improve my situation. For the record, all of them are pushing some policies that I do not like.

Pierre Trudeau and Rene Levesque are two politicians that unequivocally inspired people because they fought to take us somewhere we had never gone before. These were men of vision, driven by unstoppable passion and conviction to strive, no matter what the odds, for their ideal.

Anyway, if you watch TVA tonight and they use me, without make-up at that point, as one of their “streeters”, I’m the guy with the nasty cold sore and shaving cut.

Brace yourself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Montreal Billboard

I’m stoked to be hosting a new show on Videotron’s MAtv channel! 

It's fun to be working in television again and rewarding to contribute to a show that connects the anglophone community of Greater Montreal with the often-times unsung non-profit groups making our community a better place to live.

I think it’s cool that Videotron is offering anglophone programming to the community it serves. At a news conference last week, it announced 20 per cent of MAtv programming is currently being devoted to English shows.

So far, we’ve taped and aired our first two "Montreal Billboard" shows. On our first two shows, we featured the NDG Food Depot, the Fabienne Colas Foundation, A Horse Tale, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of the West Island, AIDS Community Care Montreal and Skateboards for Hope. Some of these groups I had heard of before and others I had never heard of at all.

First guest of our first show: Daniel Rotman of NDG Food Depot

I’m going to enjoy meeting more special Montrealers who are clearly passionate about their causes and their city. For the people who bring these groups to life it's about the good, not the glory.

From the beginning, I thought the MAtv studio was bright and colorful. The crew has been terrific and I’ve had the pleasure of working with some team members before.

When we did the photo shoot for the show, MAtv had a stylist pick out the clothing and Ariane is the one who looks after wardrobe for the show. If I appear dressed more fashionably, that explains it!  She uses clothing supplied by show sponsor, Canada's iconic Hudson's Bay store. Kinda cool. It also explains the hankie you’ll see in my pocket. So far in my life, I must confess to being too lazy to coordinate a hankie with shirts, jackets and neckties.

Montreal Billboard is on seven days a week! The newly-taped shows air Monday and Tuesday and the rest of the week, they're repeated. To find show times, go to, click "English" and go down to "My Shows". For viewers who are not on Videotron, you can find our shows on-line at under the heading “Mes Emissions”.

If you’d like to get in touch with the show, please drop us a line at

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Classics Rule

Years ago, living on my own downtown, I always enjoyed watching old movies; the classics. I still do.

Last night, I watched “Till the Clouds Roll By”, a 1946 movie based on the life and music of American songwriter, Jerome Kern. I didn’t know his name before yesterday, even if I knew his music. In fact, “The Way You Look Tonight”, one of my favorite songs to sing, was written by Kern.

I’m not sure the televised version I performed for International Jazz Day did it justice.

The film, which got a little slow at the end, featured musical performances by Judy Garland, Lena Horne and Frank Sinatra, among others.

What an easy and fun way to casually learn about musical history, not to mention history in general.

We were recently sent a letter by our cable company, explaining NHL Network would be disappearing, so I lobbied successfully for the Silver Screen Classics channel as a replacement. Not only do classic movies allow me to appreciate North American film heritage, they show viewers many techniques, shots and story plots existed well before we became aware of them in newer movies. The classics also give movie fans a chance to compare today’s actors and actresses with the legends that came before them.

I’ve even got a soft spot for songs about old movies, like “Goodnight Mrs Calabash” by Ian Thomas and “Friends of Mr Cairo” by Jon and Vangelis.

Sunday night, I started watching “Love Affair”, the 1939 romantic film starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer. I had seen Boyer in the charming “Barefoot in the Park”, but wasn’t familiar with Dunne. I got hooked on the story. Unfortunately, the film, because of apparent technical problems, repeated segments twice and never showed the end of the story. Seeing it was scheduled again Monday morning, I watched, only to see it repeat again and abruptly stop before the end of the movie.

I had to go on-line to find out whether the characters, painter Michel Marnet and singer Terry McKay, end up together.

They do. Sigh.

Irene Dunne won the Oscar for Best Actress for her role in “Love Affair”. The film also won Oscars for Best Supporting Actress, Best Writing, Best Original Song and Best Art Direction.

Can I pick ‘em or what?

Oh, popcorn’s ready!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Little Moments

My sister-in-law was visiting recently. I had been tweeting about her willingness to walk with Susan; no ordinary feat - and, truthfully, no ordinary feet can keep up with our fitbit beast! During her visit, Susan's sister happily walked crazy distances in the middle of our stifling heat wave! I guess that's what sisterhood is all about.

At one point during her visit, and I'm not really sure how it came up, Lana admitted being very good at untangling knots. Susan promptly produced two pieces of jewellery that had knotted chains. One of the chains, Susan complained, had one knot in it and the other, had three. Bravely, her sister installed herself on the couch and began to tackle the problem.

In the end, Lana wasn't able to untangle the chains. She's gone back home now but the two chains were laying conspicuously on the kitchen table this morning. Casually, Susan expressed disappointment the tangles remained.

Not thinking rationally, perhaps driven by blind love for this wonderful woman with whom I just celebrated a 21st wedding anniversary, I hastily dug out a magnifying glass, two pins and as much patience as I could humanly ring from my mostly impatient personality.

Absolutely planless - that's without plan, strategy, or technique - I began to poke randomly with the two pins at the single knot chain. After a few minutes, I was able to loosen the strand and untangle the knot. I contemplated ending the quest there, to reign as the quasi-conquering pseudo-hero. Did I? No. I decided to persist and attacked the triple knot chain.


Susan left and went for a walk. I moved the operation to a surface lit by sunshine and, again, still planless, began poking randomly. After several minutes, I untangled one of the three knots. I contemplated ending the quest there, to appear as quasi-conquering pseudo-hero. Did I? No. I decided to persist. What fun would it be to boast, when Susan returned, that I'd succeeded in untangling one of the three remaining knots? Not very.

It would give me far greater pleasure to be able to announce, when Susan returned, her jewellery was completely knot-free, thanks to me.


I attacked the second of the three knots, planless, but foolishly encouraged that, so far, my success had not required a plan, or planning of any kind.

There was no one to hold the magnifying glass at the perfect height, so I had laid it across the rim of two tea cups.

I stabbed, poked, prodded and pierced and, after several minutes, I loosened the second of the three knots and, then, finally untangled it. What a boss!

Only the third knot, right beside the end clasp, remains.
I needed a break before tackling the final of the three knots! I went out and ran errands. My neck was sore from stooping, my fingertips tender from pressing the pins and my vision was blurring from staring so intently for so long at such small objects.

A couple of hours later, I returned to tackle the last of the three knots in this second chain. This knot was right up against the clasp at the end of the chain. Undaunted and planless, I hacked away for several minutes and finally got the chain to loosen. The final knot was gone. Boom!

It was not fun, although quite satisfying when I untangled the last of the four knots. I am the reigning quasi-conquering pseudo-hero, vanquisher of jewellery chain tangles and bearer of a very valuable lesson. Untangling jewellery knots is like assembling Ikea furniture; yes I can do it, but I never want to do it again. 

Susan came home and when I announced her two chains were knot-free, she was quite grateful. Little moments I live for.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


I’m three-quarters of the way down the street from our house. I have our household broom in my hands and I’m rather frantically sweeping the street! I’ve decided the broom bristles are not quite as stiff as I need them to be when I notice a car slowing down beside me and I hear a tentative voice query, “Richard?”

I stop sweeping and turn around to hear the driver say, “I thought it was you”. He wanted to let me know he’s been listening to me on the radio and that I sound good, but I sound different than I did on television. I thank him, wish him a nice day, dismiss the need for an explanation, but still think to myself, “awkward”.

It must have seemed strangely random to see me sweeping the pavement with such crazed zeal, unable to get the bits of glass out of the pock-marked road surface because the bristles were too soft!

I walk the dogs to a street corner every day to meet my wife, who gets off the train. The season starts off fine, with freshly cleaned roads. Inevitably, a few weeks in, there are spots of roadway strewn with pieces of smashed glass. Unless you’re obsessively vigilant, people will unwittingly walk their dogs over these bits of glass. I decided to sweep them myself which is what I was doing yesterday when the car pulled over.

What can you do?

It wasn’t as awkward as my last trip to the dog groomer. I arrived right on time and walked our Westie, Spike, into the waiting room. I could hear the groomer working on a dog as the customer and his daughter chatted and directed her scissors. It sounded like some last-minute problem with the animal’s fur. I didn’t look into the room, but stood in the waiting area with fidgeting Spike at the end of his leash. All of a sudden, I was overcome by a terribly foul stench. For those first few seconds, stunned by its potency and mystified by its sudden onset, I could think of no rational explanation, which, unfortunately, meant I’d have none to apologetically offer to the groomer and customers as they staggered past me to leave.

I could hear they were finishing their visit. My eyes watering, I desperately looked around the small waiting area for an explanation and spotted a fresh pile of excrement on the floor as Spike casually stared off into the distance, content he’d made his feelings known about visits to the groomer. Worse, I had inadvertently stepped in it. Standing on one leg, reeling from the sight of this steaming mound, eyes watering from the smell, right on cue, the customers and groomer came out of the room.

The customer immediately exclaimed, “Richard Dagenais!” I smiled, looking down at the mess as a gentle reminder I had other concerns. Seemingly oblivious, he asked, excitedly, “Do you know who I am?” I quickly confessed I did not. He asked again, “You don’t know who I am?” By this time, the groomer had retreated into her work area and re-emerged with a bottle of cleaning spray and paper towel. I offered to clean it myself. She refused the offer, got down on her hands and knees and scrubbed her floor. The customer was disappointed, “Are you sure you don’t know who I am?” I admitted perhaps I should know who he was, but I did not. The groomer began pulling the freshly tainted sneaker off my foot. I felt terrible about the mess and the stink but was no longer entirely sure I should feel terrible about my inability to identify this persistent customer.

It turns out he was the husband of one of my wife’s friends and I had met him once before, months, or years ago. I’m pretty sure I shook his hand as he and his daughter left the groomer’s house, but I really don’t remember it. I do remember thinking, “awkward”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Someone says something, but you lack context and you’re not sure what you heard or how on earth it fits into the moment you’re already sharing; has that ever happened to you?

Your mind scrambles to make sense of the statement and you quickly, perhaps desperately, run through the different possibilities, only to discover none of the possibilities you considered were close to what the person meant!

To make the situation even more delicate, is it ever your spouse who unwittingly drops the confusion bomb on you?


We were driving the other day and, as usual when we bring Bear, our Australian Labradoodle in the car, Susan was being sat upon by the beast! As we rolled along, out of the blue, Susan asked, “Does the car tire bare out?”

Immediately, I implemented a protocol of extreme prudence. According to the protocol, the first step is not to respond right away. Instead, I carefully and, with all the intelligence I could muster, pondered the origin of the question.  I drew a blank.

Think, fool. “Does the car tire bare out?”

Had she detected some subtle thumping sound in the spinning wheels? Was she contemplating a new set of tires? Was she concerned our current tires had been compromised by excessive road wear?

I opted for another quick review, “Does the car tire bear out?” 

I got this. She’s clearly asking whether I’ve noticed a steering issue that involves one of the car tires bearing outward.

That wasn’t it  Clearly, I don’t got this.

Craving more information and unable to obtain sufficient aid from my confounded brain, I expressed dismay at not understanding the question. Evidently, my questions were all pointed in the wrong direction because they seemed to be confusing Susan.

I’m confused. She’s confused. We’re turning into snapping turtles. She wonders how I could possibly misunderstand the semantics of the question, after all, she points out sweetly, it’s self-explanatory and constructed in basic English. I question her command of basic English and now we’re having fun.

Patiently, she reviews, “Does the car tire bear out?” I’m as lost and dumbfounded as I was and, believe me, the battery in my flashlight is dead as a doornail!

She spells it out, “Does – the – car – tire – bear – out?”

I still don’t know how it hit me; maybe Susan hit me. The admittedly rather dim light flickered on and I suddenly realized she was asking, “Does the car tire Bear out?” In other words, does Bear, our dog, get tired by car rides because he tends to get a little frantic when we bring him along on drives (see blog of May 21, 2015, titled "Spotless Insanity").


We’re laughing now, amazed at how quickly a communication breakdown can spiral downward!

What’s even more astounding is that when I set up the story and repeated the question to my son and his girlfriend, Tristan was certain his mother’s question pertained to car tires, while Lisa knew right away Susan was talking about Bear, the dog.


Monday, June 15, 2015

See You Monday

It’s June 15th, exactly one month since my last day hosting the morning show. I can’t say the month has been breezy, but I can say how eternally grateful I am to Susan and Tristan for reminding me life is always wonderful and, even jobless, I’m still who I was.

I was in university taking an introductory psychology class when I first heard about a scale that put numerical values on life changes in order to evaluate the stress they can cause. The scale was developed in 1967 by researchers Holmes and Rahe. Losing a job is ranked eighth on the scale, ahead of "marital reconciliation" and behind "marriage". The scale provides a stark reminder there are far more unkind fates.

Life changes lurk "nowhere" and "in the blue", and that’s where they pounce from - out of nowhere and out of the blue! Many people ask me whether I had any indication I would lose my job and I tell them, from my point of view, unless I missed something, there wasn’t even an indication of an indication.

It was Thursday April 9th and as I sat editing an interview for our weekly “best of the week” show, my boss asked to see me in her office. She told me my job had been cut. Her words splashed on forehead like searing acid, burning their way into my brain and slowly sinking downward to my heart.

Like anyone who is the victim of job cuts, you wonder how, in the end, all your contributions can be worth so little. The pouring of energy, creativity, vision, talent, dedication, discretion, health, determination and so many other qualities, amount to nothing more than a perfunctory severance payment.

I’ve had several of my jobs cut before but this show, project, and work, meant more to me. I can honestly say I never took the hosting position for granted and I had said to Camille many times what a thrill it always was to hear my name announced as each new half hour of the show opened! Having my name attached to a show was an exciting first for me!

That last day one month ago was difficult, and the sign-off, dreadfully precarious. One wrong word or move by anyone would have caused me to unwind emotionally on-air.

Just as we came out of the last commercial break, Julie, one of our directors, declared quietly in my earpiece, “It’s been an honor”.  Managing a weak smile, I waved my fist at her through the camera, struggling to hold it together. Thankfully, Camille respected my request to do, and say nothing, out of the ordinary. Media critic Steve Faguy hit the nail on the head when he later observed I signed off that last Friday as though I would see viewers on Monday. It took immeasurable effort just to manage what he perceptively described as my “see-you-Monday” wave!

To say losing my job was disappointing would be to severely understate the situation. There are many questions I wish I could have management answer for me. Time is healing the sense of rejection and I hope to find fulfilling full-time work. One of my twitter followers, @DangerZone007, asked me yesterday how the adjustment is going, not being in front of the camera anymore; it’s a good question, I’m pretty sure it’s an adjustment that will be ongoing.

Overwhelmed by sadness, I wasn’t able to enter the room where staff had gathered after the May 15th show to say goodbye to the employees who had been cut. I lingered outside for a moment or two until the swollen lump in my throat could no longer hold back the emotion, and then I quickly turned for the exit, stepped out into the hallway and blubbered my way to the elevator.

Thank you so much for all the supportive comments I’ve been getting in e-mails, on twitter and in person from viewers of the show. Leonie’s comments meant so much.

On the very first show, I told viewers I had been described by news anchor Jamie Orchard as the frog in the box that bursts into song whenever the lid is opened. A month ago, the box closed, but Michigan J. Frog is tapping on the lid, hoping to get back out.

See you Monday.