Cabin in the Woods

What a better way to spend the days off before New Year's eve than away from the city and surrounded by snow? If you said surrounded by beaches, than I don't think that you and I are on the same page at the moment. Nonetheless, we took a drive 90 minutes north of Montreal to spend time with family. Far away from the big city filled, clean air and huge mounds of snow ideal for snow-shoeing, tobogganing and skiing. All and all a very relaxing time. Happy new year!

Highway 15-North outside Val Morin
The road to Sainte-Agathe
Boat house by the lake
Snowbound Cottage
With 80 centimetres of snow (32 inches) in just over a week, forget about white Christmas it will be a white 2013. This will be enough snow to keep the ski hills covered until spring.

Snow covered trees


Christmas Candy

The holidays are upon us and it is the time of merriment, joy and gift giving. Gift exchanges at the office or with the family can be particular harrowing and bothersome, as budget constraints sometimes get in the way. Or, let's face it, oddball people give oddball gifts. Included in those gifts are those weird boxes of chocolate you do not want for Christmas. Following is a list of the strangest candies I have ever received.

Christmas Chocolate Surprise

  • Mallomar Avocado Centre
  • Pickles and Cream
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of Chicken
  • White Chocolate with Ground Beef Centre
  • Old Fashioned Taffy with Spinach Flavouring
  • Chocolate Dipped Sardines
  • Caramilk Caviar
  • Windex Pecan
  • Spaghetti and Marshmallow
  • Confetti
  • Glazed Strawberry Sauerkraut
  • Caramel Mint Toothpaste
  • Cream of Mushroom Brûlée
  • Milk of Magnesia
  • Bacon and Nougat
  • Chocolate Mouse
  • Peaches and Crayon


It's Hanukkah Bubala Please

From their Facebook page, "These are not your everyday homeboys. Celebrate the holidays with Jaquann and Luis, LA's latke-making, dreidel-spinning, menorah-lighting gang-bangers." Bubala Please. Happy Hanukkah. (Parental discretion for language.)

Bubala, Please


Star Trek Into Darkness

In the latest chapter,  Star Trek Into Darkness, the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, and they find that an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet, leaving our world in a state of crisis. Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. Watch the brand new Star Trek Into Darkness trailer. (Scroll down for the 3-D trailer)

Star Trek Into Darkness


Justin Bieber Causes Traffic Jams

I am not a fan of Justin Bieber. Surprised? I actually dislike his music a great deal. I will grudgingly admit that he is talented. Although, the one clip I saw tells me that he is not the best dancer. But, as it goes, when another Canadian gains international stardom, I am pleased.

Today though, I hate Justin Bieber. Last night I left work and headed downtown to pick up my girlfriend at her office. A drive from Montreal's east end to downtown could take fifteen to 40 minutes depending on the traffic and what construction projects are going on at the time. The drive took me 1/2 an hour.

A drive From downtown to my home is anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes. What I did not anticipate was the stupid Justin Bieber concert at the Bell Centre. Traffic backed up every which way. Every street. Every Alley. Every sidewalk.

We sat in the car for an hour.

Not even on a night that Montreal Canadiens play the Centre is traffic this bad. The congestion was most likely due to the fact that most of the concert goers are not habitual downtowners. All the teenyboppers came by car with their mothers, all showed up at the last minute, and none took public transportation. But, I blame Justin Bieber. At least he won't be back for a few more months.

Unfortunately this picture was not captioned, so I have no idea which one is Bieber


Short Drive to the Garage

I was punished and didn't even know why. I brought my car to the garage for servicing and to install my winter tires. Unfortunately, my car was serviced by a short mechanic. I do not have anything against short people. At 5'9, to some, I am short.

Truth be told, I never saw the mechanic. But I know he was short. How? My car seat was pulled up all the way to the front, so that his - or her - little feet would reach the pedals.

So, I pulled my car into the garage...
I nearly brained myself when I got into the car. I did smash my knees against the steering wheel which was lowered by the same mechanic. Some sort of karma corporal punishment I suppose.

So, against short people, I have nothing to say. But please put my seat back to where it was.

While waiting in line to pay - and before I nearly brained myself - I heard a quack quack sound. I looked around, as did a couple other confused people, but saw nothing.

A minute or so later, the same quack quack sound. This time repeating for several seconds longer. I turned to see an old man shuffling past, stopping and pulling out his phone.
His ringer is ducks quacking! And not the Daffy or Donald variety but real ducks... quack quack, quack quack.


Funny Pictures from Around the Web

In my constant battle to fight boredom over the last couple of years mostly via internet browsing, I fell on many very funny pictures and photos. When I like something I save it. Sometimes I look at the funny photo a couple days later and say, "This isn't funny." And then delete it. The following are the ones that stuck with me. It was my intention to email these hilarious photos to friends. I may have. Perhaps I borrowed these pictures from your website or the emails you sent me. In the end I will just share these with you here.

Never seen a picture before that captured a cat so well. Cat blog.

I think this was made for my girlfriend. I tolerate you too.

It took Twilight to make Blade seem cool

My blog readership has increased to 12. No, wait. 13.

The Muppets take Mos Eisley

In the dark urban jungle of Montreal walks the carnivorous panda

And then he ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party (or Republican 
depending on your current location.)

Sometimes Dad is right. Sometimes.

How big would this guys freaking house be?

Is this when the Decarie got flooded? There comes a time when 
you must leave the car.

Maybe I will take my Walkman there.

One of those things that I wish I thought of.
Taking dad out for a walk. The Walking Dead?
A caption wouldn't do it justice.

Happy Halloween
Or depending on your source, 5773.



When You Were Young

The Killers Battle Born
I don't know why this 2006 song by The Killers is suddenly getting so much airplay on local radio. Two stations in the area seem to have put it in heavy rotation this week.

When You Were Young off their '06 release Sam's Town is a great story telling song backed by the band's full sound and swirling keyboards making it reminiscent of The E Street Band with a touch of Meatloaf. The song is about growing up and moving around in the world. Your future as it was imagined when we were young does not necessarily live up to our dreams.

The Killers, fronted by lead singer Brandon Flowers, have been around since 2001 and have released four studio albums including 2012's Battle Born. This is The Killers - When You Were Young.



Day 31 of a 30 Days Photograph challenge. Day 31? Of 30? Well I didn't organize it. I am participating in the 30 day photo challenge as sponsored by Ziva and Mike. Today's theme is outtakesI can't say I had too many outtakes. Or that I spent much time on this project. 

Cityscape and sunset.

Hallway in Hoboken, NJ, before Sandy

An hour north of Montreal

In memory of a lost cat

Hydrangeas in Chatham, MA

There is no remedy for love but to love more...


Boom Boom Out Go The Lights

I am participating in the 30 day photo challenge as sponsored by Ziva and Mike. Today is Day 30. Today's theme by coincidence is blackout. With hurricane Sandy hitting everyone on the eastern seaboard of North America, and several hundred miles inland, with millions of people without power... strange coincidence that this theme would fall today.
With the power out, and only by the light of the moon did I capture my sleeping girlfriend snuggled up to her pillow.


What Do I call My In-Laws?

Dear Old Dad
What do you call your in-laws? Let's say I already have a Ma and a Pa, or a Mom and a Dad, and I am not all too comfortable calling anyone else by the same moniker. Let's say the in-laws are the old fashioned types. Let's say they are not all that comfortable with my using their first name and think it too cold if I call them Mister and Missus. What is the alternative?

For example, Mother Ohara is too old fashioned. Father John? Too religious sounding. And not very Jewish. What about padre? Eema? Père? Auntie? Sire? Duchess? Capo? Colonel? оте́ц?

Should they be insulted if I don't call them Mum and Dad?

"Surely son," my future father-in-law may say, "You must feel close enough to us by now?"
And I might reply, "Yes. Yes, I do. And don't call me Shirley."

While pondering through this dilemma of titles, I started wondering why only the military, doctors, and members of the clergy are regularly referred to by their proper titles. You can include royalty in the above list but since I do not know too many blue bloods, I will move on for now.
A title is an honorific. But what about other professions? Why not Postman Jones? Television Repairman Davidson?
"Hi my name is Collection Agent Jorge."
"Very nice to meet you, I am Ballerina Tom."


The Record Man

Continuing on the music theme here...

Looks like there's one more guy who won't get fooled again... Sam "The Record Man" Sniderman.

For those of you old enough to remember the Sam The Record Man music stores (and if you have to ask "what's a record?" then you're not old enough) the guy who opened and ran the chain died on Sept. 22 at age 92.

Sam the Record Man
For awhile he operated the country's predominant music store chain and set the precedent for others like HMV. His flagship Toronto store, with its blazing twin record sign and his Montreal location, always packed with musicophiles, always brimming with selection were like second homes to music lovers of all stripes and tastes.  

So long Sam, it was a blast waiting in line in the wee hours of the morning each Boxing Day on Ste. Catherine Street, hoping to get into your place to buy CDs (or vinyl) at your low, low prices. But more than that, your store was symbolic of an era of music consumption that has, like you, now gone the way of the dinosaur.

With the switch to MP3s and iTunes downloads, the paradigm of the way we seek and purchase music has changed. I remember walking through the quaintly cramped aisles on the multiple levels of your downtown shop, finding wonders amid the stacks of albums, discovering new music and artists by flipping through the selection. That simply doesn't exist any more. And kids today will not know the pleasure of that "hands-on" music0buying experience.

Thanks for all the music and memories. You helped me and countless others build and deepen our musical libraries.

Peace be upon you.


Who Are You?

Who Are You is a 16 track all-star tribute to The Who, the band and their music. Contributors include Rick Wakeman, Joe Elliot, Ian Paice, Randy Bachman, Ginger Baker, Iggy Pop and Todd Rundgren. The Who  was due. With over 100 million records sold, and 27 Top 40 hits, everyone knows their music. Most recently the band was thrown into the spotlight as all three versions of the television drama CSI (Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY) feature songs by The Who as their themes, "Who Are You", "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley". With 11 studio albums and 10 live albums and an additional five album soundtracks, including Tommy, there is plenty of classic material to cover. The album is scheduled for release on October 2nd.
The Who: Who Are You Tribute
Here is Eminence Front featuring John Wetton (Asia), K.K. Downing (Judas Priest) and Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater).

And Who Are You? Featuring Gretchen WIlson and Randy Bachman (Bachman-Turner Overdrive).

Who Are You : An All-Star Tribute To The Who Tracklist:
  • Eminence Front
    – John Wetton (Asia); KK Downing (Judas Priest), Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion)
  • Baba O’Riley
    – Nektar; Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
  • I Can See for Miles
    – Mark Lindsay (Paul Revere and the Raiders); Wayne Kramer (MC5)
  • Love Reign O’er Me
    – Joe Elliott (Def Leppard); Rick Wakeman; Huw Lloyd-Langton (Hawkwind); Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge)
  • My Generation
    – Knox (Vibrators); Dave Davies (Kinks); Rat Scabies (Damned)
  • The Kids are Alright
    – The Raveonettes
  • Won’t Get Fooled Again
    – Sweet
  • Anyway Anyhow Anywhere
    – Todd Rundgren; Carmine Appice
  • I Can’t Explain
    – Iggy Pop
  • Behind Blue Eyes
    – Pat Travers
  • Magic Bus
    – Peter Noone (Herman’s Hermits); Peter Banks (Yes); Ginger Baker (Cream)
  • Who Are You
    – Gretchen Wilson; Randy Bachman (Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
  • Pinball Wizard
    – Terry Reid; Mike Pinera (Blues Image); Brad Gillis (Night Ranger)
  • Squeeze Box
    – John Wesley (Porcupine Tree); David Cross (King Crimson)
  • Bargain
    – .38 Special; Ted Turner (Wishbone Ash); Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
  • The Seeker
    – Joe Lynn Turner; Leslie West (Mountain)


David Byrne and St. Vincent

It's been too long that the superbly talented David Byrne has been out of the mainstream spotlight. Best known as the lead singer of the Talking Heads, Byrne's latest venture is an album titled Love This Giant with collaborator St. Vincent (Annie Erin Clark). Their project is a full on collaboration as both Byrne and St. Vincent sing, play guitar, write on this release as well as co-producing.

The duo with backing band made their network TV debut on The Jimmy Fallon Show earlier in September.  From their brand new release Love this Giant, check out David Byrne and St. Vincent's big brass and funky sound on Who.


Monica Lewinsky Book Deal

With news that Monica Lewinsky is shopping around for a book deal, Twitter exploded with numerous amusing suggestions for her book title. Under the hashtag #MonicaLewinskyBookTitle here are some of those great proposed titles:

Monica Lewinsky
How Government Brought Me to My Knees: The Monica Lewinsky Story

Crouching Intern, Hidden Cigar

Close, But No Cigar

On bended knees

Catch 'er in the Eye

How To Get That Raise

I just met you, & this is crazy, but I just blew you & you're the President

Devil with a Blue Dress

Head of State

Fifty Shades of Blue Dress

Salty Tales From the Oval Office


Quebec Election The Morning After

Quebec election final results, the morning after.
Following General Election 2012  in Quebec
Almost a dead heat between The PQ & The Liberals. A separatist party is in power but, how much power does this minority government have? The strong opposition of 50 seats and the balance of power with the CAQ and QS will void any attempts to hold a referendum.
Popular Vote General Election 2012 Quebec
If fears of the PQ have your stomach in a knot, consider this, the PQ were elected with less than one percentage point separating them from the Liberals. That is not a populace looking to break up the country.

The Islands of Montreal and Laval covered in Liberal red with 26 seats to 8 seats in PQ blue and two orange seats for the QS. The CAQ gained zero seats in the region, however did pick up five seats in the Quebec City area to the Liberals three and PQ one.

Four big stories on the night,

  • Quebec's first female Premier
  • Liberal outperforming expectations
  • CAQ under-performing
  • Murder
Why didn't the CAQ win more seats? They finished in second in over fifty districts. Fear of the unknown and the unproven is the likely factor. The PQ won and Jean Charest lost. An adjustment was due but the PQ did not win on a mandate of separation but for a mandate for change.


Quebec Election Results

Election day is upon us. Before the last Canadian Federal election, I referred to the path to the ballot box as "the election nobody wants". I can say the same about today's Quebec provincial election, albeit for different reasons. In the case of the Federal election, the opposition parties used poor judgement and poor timing to bring down the minority Conservative Government of Stephen Harper. Canada was left with a majority government, still led by Prime Minister Harper. 
The citizens of Canada living in Quebec are faced with a different dilemma. Which party is the lesser of multiple evils? Throughout the night, I will be commenting and posting my thoughts and blogging live as the results of the Quebec election rolls in.

Stay tuned to this space as I update throughout the night.

So what do we know so far? We know that The separatist Parti Quebecois (PQ) has been leading the polls throughout the campaign and will likely win. We cannot yet predict if they will take a majority government. Polling also indicates that the Liberals will be the opposition party, yet the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) is close behind and either party can take second or third place. The other minor separatist parties have a chance to take a maximum of three seats.

Various news agencies have been reporting trouble at the polls. Voters have been complaining of not appearing on the electoral list. Others have complained about their names having already been crossed off the voter's list at advanced polling. Is this widespread? Human error? Intentional human error?

The polls close in just under one hour. Looks like a big turnout across the province with long lines at many polling stations. The higher turnout is an indication that the campaigns have generated greater interest than predicted. Voting the Liberals out? The CAQ in? We know people are not voting for separation. Only for change.

The various polling firms have released their results but are not quite making any predictions. Votes by percentage by party.

CROP: PQ 32 CAQ 28 LIB 26 QS 9
EKOS: PQ 36 CAQ 25 LIB 23 QS 11
Forum: PQ 36 CAQ 25 LIB 29 QS 6
Léger: PQ 33 CAQ 28 LIB 27 QS 7

All show the PQ as winning the popular vote. But how many seats?

PQ are leading. PQ are leading. Sell your house! Well, no. Only about 1% of ridings have reported and have been counted.

Did the pot clangers remember to put away the pots and vote?
Very early on and no trends yet.
PQ are leading in 7 ridings. Liberals in 6. CAQ in 2.

According to CTV, Green Party is currently holding the lead in 1 seat.
PQ in 14, Liberals in 10, CAQ in 6.

Will it be counted positive or negative for the Liberal Party if they finish in second and become the official opposition party? How poorly must Jean Charest Liberals do for his party to call for his resignation?
PQ 19, Liberals 15, CAQ 10.

PQ now leading in 22, Liberals in 21, CAQ in 12.
What does it mean if the CAQ falls short and finishes a distant third? Is it fear of the unknown than more people have not voted for Francois Legault's CAQ?

Does the fear of separation drive you to vote? Do prejudicial language laws bother you?
Liberals now leading in 27.
PQ 21.
CAQ 16.
West Island and Gatineau regions still haven't reported in. Good sign for the Liberals?

Close election. Does not appear to be a majority for anyone. Did the silent majority of Premier Jean Charest come out to vote?
Liberals 45, PQ 41, CAQ 18

CTV just declared a Parti Quebecois win.
Why ruin the fun?! That's like telling me the verdict half way through the episode of Law and Order.

I want tomorrow's headline to read:
Liberals Dump on the CAQ

PQ now leading in 54, Liberals 45, CAQ 19

Jean Charest losing in his own riding of Sherbrooke.
From the Quebec Election site.

Property values in Montreal just plummeted.
Kevin Newman suggested a coalition Liberal-CAQ government. This won't happen.
PQ-QS coalition is more likely.
PQ 60, Liberals 46, CAQ 17, Quebec Solidaire 2.

So the PQ forms a government with fewer people voting for them then the previous election when they finished in second place. Currently at 33% of the popular vote compared to 36% previously.
How do you run a province, with 2/3 of the people against you?
PQ now elected or leading in 59 seats.
Liberals in 46, CAQ in 18, QS in 2.

Amir Kadir, co-leader of the QS wins in his riding. How did you win your campaign Mr. Kadir? I would like to ask. He might just say, 1 - Get arrested 2- Protest outside your constituents stores trying to ruin their businesses 3- Have your daughter get arrested. 4 - Forget about the greater good and promote your own personal vendetta in your campaign platform?
How did he win again?
PQ now lead in 58, Liberals 47 CAQ 18, QS in 2.
These numbers won't change a whole lot from here on end. The big attention now will be on the Sherbrooke riding to see if former Premier Jean Charest will win his riding.

PQ leading in 56, Liberals 47, CAQ 20, QS 2
With the Conservative Party & NDP expanding in Quebec provincial politics when the PQ government falls in a year or two, what will the Assembly look like?

At this point I usually look at the ridings where my closest friends and family live. Liberals leading in 7, QS in 1, PQ in 2.

I was rooting for Jean Charest, not as Premier but as Member of the National Assembly. I've been a fan of his for a long time, as my former University professor and the wonder boy of the Federal Conservative party. Not so much lately. Still wanted him to win in Sherbrooke.

Voter turnout at 54%? Will have to wait for official numbers. What happened to the early turnout? What happened to the anger?

Will Charest stay on as leader of the Liberal Party?

So this is where the votes went

The obituaries on Jean Charest's career have already started. A minority PQ government is better than a majority PQ government. You don't have to put your house on the market just yet. Keep this is mind, Minority governments often work for the people instead of passing agendas of the party.