Monthly Archives: May 2015

Hump Day: Not sure how well I’d do on reality TV

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By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

Summer is coming, which means the seasons are over for many sitcoms and dramas on television and reality television shows kick in to fill the void. Two of my favourites, the U.S. versions of Big Brother and MasterChef, are gearing up just as the equally good (if not better) Canadian versions are winding down. In fact, Moncton’s own ‍Line Pelletier came in second in MasterChef Canada just a few days ago.

On Big Brother, about 15 contestants (give or take) compete for a couple of months to be the last person standing. Each week, a contestant is voted out by their housemates with the eventual winner getting a big cash prize. To survive, a contestant needs to win competitions to either be in charge (‘head of household’ – commonly called HOH), keep themselves safe (‘veto’) or just play a great social game to ensure they aren’t nominated for eviction.

If a contestant wins a competition and becomes HOH, they get a beautiful room to themselves, the power to nominate two housemates for eviction and a letter from home, including some favourite treats. I always find the reactions from the letters from home to be quite hilarious. Let’s say that ‘John’wins HOH in week two of the show. He’s been away from his friends and family for 14 days. Two weeks. Half a month. Invariably, they bawl and carry on like they just found their birth mother after looking for her for 10 years. So ridiculous. Get a grip!

There’s lots of betrayal, backstabbing and lying going on, but it’s all part of the game. Of course, it’s entirely fascinating to watch over a couple of months – and genuinely heartbreaking when nice people get backstabbed by some of the more ruthless players.

I’m not sure how I’d do if I was on a show like that. I’d be awful at the physical competitions, but probably do OK in the more strategic ones such as quizzes and the like. And I really don’t think I’d get all emotional with a letter from home. I doubt very much that I’d be wailing away like a banshee after hearing from my relatives after two weeks. Heck, I don’t often see them for a month at a time anyway – and we live in the same city! I’d probably come across as some heartless sot. It wouldn’t make for very good television.

As far as MasterChef goes, I’d likely be gone in the first week since I’m unable to ruin the same dish twice without changing something that ruins it differently.

deserted island
I don’t think I’d last long on Survivor. I’d probably be crying for my mommy and wanting to go home in the first 10 minutes.

As for Survivor, that show would get me arrested for murder. That’s the one where they ship all the contestants off to a remote area far away from civilization. Half the time you’re starving or getting eaten alive by some godforsaken weird insects. I can just see myself gallivanting around an island wearing nothing but a loincloth. Oh, it would be quite a sight, let me tell you. Hungry, cranky and sweaty. I’d most likely have a few thousand marriage proposals from fans at the end of the season.

Actually, I’d probably end up in prison. I’d end up turning into a human Cookie Monster (from Sesame Street) a few days into it. Another contestant would come up to me to talk and I’d cannibalize them right there on the spot like Cookie Monster with a bag of Oreos. By the time the producers and camera operators would reach me,I’d be holding a femur in one hand and a severed arm in the other, happily munching away.

‘I was hungry! I had the shakes!’ I hope low blood sugar is a defence for murder in whichever country we’re in.

I think I’m much better suited to those old Canadian game shows from days gone by – like Headline Hunters or Definition. The prizes weren’t great, but you didn’t exactly break a sweat being on the show, either.

Much better than looking for food in the jungle (Survivor) or having to swing from a rope for six hours in hopes to avoid being nominated for eviction (Big Brother).

On a Canadian game show, you could win for weeks on end, be declared the grand champion of all time and still only end up with a measly sewing machine and $25. Canadian game shows gave away a tonne of sewing machines.

I guess I’ll have to earn my millions the old fashion way: buy lottery tickets and promise God I’ll go to church every week if I win. That’s the way Canadians have been doing it for years. There’s no need changing a winning formula now

Hump Day: Are we all living lives of quietly desperate road rage?

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By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

I hope I’m not the only one reading this who gets all his frustrations out while I’m driving by myself in the car. If I am, well then that would mean I’m just a weirdo. Stop applauding and nodding your heads in agreement, please. I have feelings, too, you know.

If you ever see me drive by and I’m talking to someone, check the passenger seat. It’s usually empty. Which means, of course, that I’m partaking in my usual habit of talking to myself in the car. It may sound silly – and I’m sure it does – but it’s a way to get some frustrations out and perhaps be a bit blunter with (imaginary) people than I should be, even if they’re not there to hear it. Just because we want to say it, doesn’t mean we should.

I’ll just talk away like a madman either to vent frustrations, practice a few difficult conservations which need to take place, or just blurt out garbage my mouth wants to say but my head tells it not to, at least in mixed company. If my vehicle ever got bugged at some point, I’d have to move to a deserted island somewhere and take up basket weaving.

road rage

I usually save my worst venom for bad drivers. Oh, the terrible things I’ve said! Just awful. Of course, I’d never say it to them in person, but it’s a good way to get frustration out. I tend to do it rather discreetly, though, after I got caught by a lip-reading trucker a few years ago who stole my parking spot. True story! “Did you just call me an (insert bad name here)?” Nope. Not me. Move along. Thank you for not stabbing me and burying my body in a shallow grave! I tend to whisper stuff since then.

I’ve seen those road-rage videos online and they’re quite terrifying. If those drivers would just learn my technique and get their frustrations out verbally when no one is around, it would be so much better – and they wouldn’t end up on YouTube after someone inevitably records one of their tantrum for all the world to see.

You have to be careful with this technique, though. The other day, I went for coffee with my mother and two aunts when I saw a driver take a bit of an odd shortcut through parking lot and park next to me. Well, of course I launched into my own whispering tirade in the car about how the driver should pretty much be put on the rack, tortured and shot in public with their entire family as witnesses. Yup, that would teach them a lesson!

The car parked next to me and I looked over to see who the offending driver was. Surely, they were some sort of monster. “Oh, hi Mom.” I hope she hasn’t learned how to read lips – and thankfully I chose not to use the middle-finger salute which many drivers use too often. I may lose my cool and do that once per year after a particularly dangerous manoeuvre by another driver puts me at risk, but it’s fairly rare. And to be fair, I’ve had it done to me a few times after I’ve been inattentive and made a driving mistake. Stop sign? What stop sign?

The fact is, every driver makes mistakes. Some are too polite (yes, that’s a mistake!) and give the right of way to drivers who don’t have it, putting other drivers in danger. Others drive down city streets at breakneck speeds. I swear, I could set up seating and sell NASCAR tickets in my front yard to watch the cars speed by my house sometimes. It’s a tragedy just waiting to happen, especially with a park right across the street and lots of kids around. I dread the day I hear squealing brakes from inside the house and the subsequent unmistakable noise of an accident.

But pedestrians are often no better. I see so many people just walk across busy streets without even looking both ways. Others just barge right across a crosswalk without even stopping to look to ensure that they’ve been seen. And others think bicycle lanes are for baby carriages or running. Sorry, runners! You’re supposed to stick to the sidewalk, not run down bicycle lanes in the opposite direction of traffic – no matter what you’ve been told – at least in Moncton.

So yeah, a few pedestrians and runners have been the targets of my only-heard-by-me rants, too. I just hope none of them can read lips – or end up being my mother!

Hump Day: At least the Internet lets us play hockey from a safe distance

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

As my nine-year-old nephew ages, I’ve noticed he’s becoming more and more addicted to online gaming. If you want to make him cry these days, don’t bother telling him Santa Claus got bitten by a rabid elf and is skipping Christmas, just tell him the Internet is down. Then sit back and wait for his eyes to water and his mouth to open up and make some inhuman sound like a tornado warning siren.

I stand not in judgment of him, but more as a kindred spirit. While I’m not addicted to online gaming, to say that I’m not addicted to the Internet would be like a Montreal Canadiens fan trying to convince you that they don’t care if the team ever wins another Stanley Cup – or a Toronto Maple Leafs fan trying to convince you that they even know what the Stanley Cup looks like. ‘What is this mythical trophy of which you speak – the silver cup named after a gentleman called Stanley?’

By now, you’ve probably figured out which team I support, however after not having had a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup since 1993 (for the record, it was Montreal), I think it’s long past due. Unfortunately, the Canadiens always seem to choke during the playoff and the Leafs are statistically eliminated within the first 30 seconds of the first game of the season in October.

‘Folks watching at home, we’ve never seen this before but the Leafs players are already practising their golf putts behind the bench and we haven’t even dropped the puck in the first game. Meanwhile, we’ve been told that the Canadiens will be practising the Heimlich manoeuvre on each other between periods for when the playoffs arrive and they invariably end up choking. There are also some other Canadian teams in the NHL – but we’ll only pay attention to them if they reach the finals. Then we’ll all flock to them and pretend we cared all along.’

I don’t bother watching many games on television because I’m usually online and following along on Facebook. A long string of happy Facebook updates are posted by friends every time their team scores. If the game isn’t going well, my Facebook newsfeed invariably fills with distraught messages of hockey-related grief and anxiety. Oh, and trust me, if I actually watched the game it would guarantee the Canadiens would lose, so I stay far away from the tube.

At least with hockey, there’s something to watch. Have you ever watched golf on television? Mind you, when Tiger Woods was still actually good it was exciting, but since he got caught cheating by his wife and they had a ‘frank and open discussion’ which led to her (allegedly) clocking him across the noggin with a golf club, he’s gone downhill.

boy computerBaseball isn’t much better, although I have to admit that the statistics are fascinating. If you really want to get into baseball, just studying the various batting and pitching statistics could be a full-time job. The volume of acronyms I found online for game statistics was incredible. If you ever see a pitcher with red hair and a big nostrils throw the ball to a batter with green eyes and bad breath, some obsessed fan out there has probably figured out every probability known to mankind regarding the pitch’s outcome.

I’ll give you one sure-fire statistic: watching baseball on television puts me to sleep 100 per cent of the time.

Football seems a bit more exciting, but it’s like watching a car accident. I’d find it hard to turn my head away because I’d be waiting for someone to have their head torn off or get a concussion so bad that they show up at the hospital with their brain in an empty margarine container and asking the doctor, ‘Is this bad?’ Other players, meanwhile, would get marched off the field in handcuffs after being arrested mid-game. NFL players in the U.S. can’t seem to stay out of jail. Between drugs, drunk driving, assault, murder and domestic violence, I’m not sure when they find the time to play football.

Where did this column start? I seem to have gone off on a tangent. Oh yeah, nephew addicted to Internet. Just terrible. Blah blah blah. I’m a hypocrite because I’m addicted, too. Blah blah blah. Have fun with that kiddo. If you think it’s taking up all your time now, wait until you hit ‍puberty. We’ll leave cold pizza and fluids on a tray outside your bedroom door so you don’t die – and keep sending me school photos every September so that Uncle Brian remembers what you look like!