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Log Cabin Chronicles

Archived Columns (2) MORE PREVIOUS COLUMNS ARE ARCHIVED HERE



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Log Cabin Chronicles | MAY 2014


Columns
PREVIOUS COLUMNS ARE ARCHIVED HERE

Feet, don't Fête me now
Posted 12.24.13
ROSS MURRAY

Christmas parties are full of pitfalls -- eating too much, drinking too much, making off-colour remarks, cornering the hostess who's giving off ambiguous signals, losing your pants, losing your pants again, falling into actual pits.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Where'd the peanut go?
Posted 12.18.13
ROSS MURRAY

I was sitting in my kitchen trying to reconcile two ideas. The first involved a peanut -- the single peanut on the smooth surface of a freshly opened jar of what used to be Squirrel brand peanut butter in Canada and then became Skippy. I wondered how that peanut gets there.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

So I shopped. Am I happy yet?
Posted 12.11.13
ROSS MURRAY

I do want to be a good consumer. I do want to drive the economy. I do want to give Third World labourers something to keep busy. But most of all, I want to experience the endorphin rush of purchasing shoddy goods at low, low discount prices. I hear it's quite the thing. So last weekend I shopped.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

The Social Security Entitlements
Posted 12.08.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Social Security is an entitlement. There is a contract between us and the federal government that as soon as we start to work (for most jobs) our employer will take part of our wages and put it in a federal trust for us. This is combined with the health care insurance premium into the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) tax.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Where do you hang a naked writer?
Posted 12.05.13
ROSS MURRAY

"That's a boob!" Abby pointed across the dinner table to my modest pile of birthday presents waiting to be opened. Or at least some were waiting to be opened. Sometimes my wife just lays the gifts out as is. Thus the visible boob.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Happy Birthday to... oh, never mind
Posted 11.26.13
ROSS MURRAY

I recently turned 48. I don't make this public so I'll be showered with birthday wishes; that's what Facebook is for. I just want to talk about that age: 48.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

US Tax give-aways
Posted 11.23.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

In 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, families in the upper 10 percent were making more than $140,000 per year. That includes all the members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

What kind of a name is that?
Posted 11.19.13
ROSS MURRAY

My mother was born with the name Mavis Worthylake. When I tell people this, it never fails to amaze. But then I go for the kicker: her sister is named Juanita. Juanita Worthylake. She married a Wilcox, which was a small improvement.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

That Twitter bump
Posted 11.12.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Twitter recenty had its initial public offering (IPO) of stock yesterday. It's stock was offered at $26 per share and jumped to $44.90 per share in what is called the bump. The folks on Wall Street cheered -- a huge success.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Just your routine newspaper column
Posted 11.07.13
ROSS MURRAY

If I know you (and I think I do), I bet you shower the same way every morning: wash there, wash there, missed a spot there, wash there, especially there.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Letter to my two US senators from Virginia
Posted 11.05.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

These states made these choices for their own economic and political reasons. This underscores the fact that shutdowns of the federal government are both costly and damage the social fabric.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Obamacare website
Posted 10.28.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The Republicans want an investigation into why Obamacare cannot be rolled out on time and they want to find out who is responsible. Are they proposing to give those they identify a House of Representatives medal?
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Middle Age: You heard it here first
Posted 10.22.13
ROSS MURRAY

I knew aging was inevitable, but like each generation, I simply assumed old people were doing it wrong. 'That's not how I'm going to get old,' we told ourselves. 'Shuffling along like that, napping in our chairs, putting out bowls of candies that sit so long they become one giant, sticky clump. No way! And what's with the polyester pants?'
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Sen. Mike Lee on Obamacare
Posted 10.11.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

He [Sen. Mike Lee} neglected to point out that THE PEOPLE reelected President Obama by a five million vote margin over Mitt Romney when the issue was the Affordable Care Act.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Breaking Bad news
Posted 10.08.13
ROSS MURRAY

I can't bear to look at the news this week. It's just too difficult. It could ruin everything. I might accidentally find out how "Breaking Bad" ends.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Slaughterhouse 1 out of 5
Posted 09.30.13
ROSS MURRAY

As a tiresome geezer-in-training, I get a kick out of sharing my musical knowledge with young people, or as I'm learning to call them, "whippersnappers."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Scrabble babble squabble
Posted 09.23.13
ROSS MURRAY

Whenever I play Scrabble with my family, they give me grief over some of the words I make.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Dear Speaker Boehner
Posted 09.21.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

As the Speaker of the House, you may be wondering why I have taken the time to spell out what should be self-evident. The reason is -- the House of Representatives is not performing its functions. Some specifics:
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?
Posted 09.12.13
ROSS MURRAY

It's the seasonal doldrums, with summer sort of over, fall not quite begun. I'm home for lunch, and Abby is bored, a feeling she expresses by hovering. Standing in the way, to be precise. It's like one of the cats hoping I'll fill its dish, except with less likelihood of her tripping me on the stairs.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Playing Taps For Rick
Posted 09.09.13
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | I said goodbye to my man Rick last Thursday. I used my Japanese shakuhachi, low Irish whistle, and a Native American-style flute made from a sunflower stalk to wish him safe passage. The last short piece was "Taps."

I may have seen Russia from afar
Posted 09.08.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

It was Saturday morning and we were riding in a very nice dome car with a bar on the Alaskan Railroad going from Anchorage to Denali. I was enjoying the scenery along the Cook Inlet through the lens of an early morning Bloody Mary, when the train screeched to an unexpected stop in Wasilla.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Ectomorph Beach, in Maine
Posted 08.30.13
ROSS MURRAY

I would like to apologize to the people of Maine. I would also like to apologize to the large segment of the Quebec population gathered in Maine during our recent visit.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Some very good grub in a tiny Ontario village
Posted 08.26.13
JOHN MAHONEY

BURNSTOWN, ONTARIO | I had the best feed of Japanese-style (panko) breaded pickerel ($24) ever, the other night at the Blackbird Café here in this tiny crossroads hamlet on the Madawaska River.

Tattoos -- out of the closet and in your face
Posted 08.20.13
ROSS MURRAY

My uncle, ex-Navy, had a tattoo. I can't remember exactly what it was because, as a child, I was too busy being terrified of him. No doubt it was something traditionally maritime, like a mermaid or an anchor or scurvy.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

To each his stupid own
Posted 08.16.13
ROSS MURRAY

The combination of a traffic detour plus a classic import auto show two blocks away meant I spent a recent Saturday morning watching souped-up cars cruise up and down our street and fearing for the lives of our cats. Normally, my instinct would be to sit on the porch complaining about the speed and the noise, and by "normally" I mean that's exactly what I did.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

A tree croaks in Stanstead
Posted 08.07.13
ROSS MURRAY

In keeping with our domestic mouse-rescue policy and spider relocation program, my wife and I have a pretty strict pruning policy. When it comes to our plants and trees, we let it grow, we let it all hang out, we let our freak fronds fly.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Right to privacy? I don't think so.
Posted 08.05.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The U.S. Supreme Court based its [Roe vs. Wade] decision, on a right to privacy in turn based on the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. However, a whole bunch of folks on the right side of the political spectrum do not agree with this decision and are working hard to overturn it. Also, a whole bunch of folks in the South (there is some overlap here) do not agree with the 14th Amendment.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Thinking about Dean
Posted 08.04.13
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | No, really, this is about me thinking about me thinking about Dean Blay, my oldest childhood buddy from our earliest days on the Eastside in Newport, Vermont.

Le TP, c'est nous, or
Wipe that smile off your face

Posted 07.28.13
ROSS MURRAY

Ahh, now there's an ingenious fundraiser. Absolutely everybody needs toilet paper. No matter what your religion, diet, class, politics or personal style, you're going to use TP. Toilet paper? Why, of course we'll buy some!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

This is Koched up
Posted 07.24.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The Great Recession has caused some to lose their jobs and others to lose their homes. Not so the billionaire Koch brothers who constantly complain about the government's unfair burdens on the wealthy.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

If I sue, will it be in litter-gation?
Posted 07.21.13
ROSS MURRAY

We own four cats, which exceeds the number of cats a normal person should have by approximately four. The number of cats you should have should not equal or surpass the number of children you have. If the total weight of your household garbage is sixty percent cat litter, you have too many cats, plus you are placing an inordinate strain on your local landfill.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

In which we try our luck staying at a Vermont Bed and Breakfast
Posted 07.16.13
JOHN MAHONEY

HYDE PARK, VT | The lovely Fitch Hill Inn here has my vote for one of the best BnBs in Vermont. Anyway you want to measure it -- class, comfort, or dollar signs -- it is simply outstanding. From the moment we walked in the front door we felt "at home."

One tough Canuck tuber in action
Posted 07.15.13
ROSS MURRAY

Back on shore, Deb held out her ring finger. It was twisted a full quarter turn to the left. It looked like some kind of gag plastic finger. "I think I'm going to gag!" said one of the kids. So there you go...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

It's not easy being tween
Posted 06.26.13
ROSS MURRAY

The moms weren't fooling anyone. As the bus carrying their children drove away, some of them let out a cheer. Three child-free days! Yeah, right. The moms were fighting back tears, some of them unsuccessfully. Dads, of course, don't cry; they just have panic attacks.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Edward Snowden: Patriot or Traitor
Posted 06.24.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

At age 29, I worked for Booz Allen as a computer expert on classified projects and had a top secret and a Q clearance. We, at Booz, were smart and arrogant; we could solve any problem. I see a different arrogance in Snowden -- a moral arrogance. His judgment overrides all others, and he will do what he wants no matter what the consequences. In fact, he said that he was willing to face the consequences of his actions. It appears to me that he planned something like this for a while and maneuvered his way in the system to accomplish it.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Gun control -- let's see some action
Posted 06.19.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

This week, seven killed and 26 wounded in Chicago. Recently, four killed in St. Louis, five in Santa Monica. And on and on...If Congress wonÕt do anything, we should give up, right?
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

In which I address the United Nation General Assembly on the subject of fatherhood
Posted 06.14.13
ROSS MURRAY

For millennia, fathers fulfilled their role by drawing upon brute strength to protect their children, give them the occasional whuppin' or, if the mood was right, juggle them high in the air like kittens. But in today's enlightened, over-nurturing, sock-coddling times, the role of father as strongman and discipliner is seen as archaic and barbaric. In many ways, fathers have become mothers, except not quite as good at it and with different shaving techniques.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Your trash: What happens to it?
Posted 06.09.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Today, most cities and counties in the US and Canada have recycling programs. In 2010, Americans generated about 250 M tons of trash of which 29 M tons were burned for energy. About 65 M tons were recycled and used to manufacturer new products. Of the remainder, about 20 M tons, mostly yard waste, was composted and the remaining 55 percent disposed in landfills.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Drinking tips for teens: Prom Edition
Posted 06.08.13
ROSS MURRAY

At high schools across the land, soon-to-be-graduates are thinking about their future. They're thinking about their future after-parties on Prom Night and how they're going to score some booze.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

QC-VT Stanholegate!
Posted 06.03.13
ROSS MURRAY

The Quebec-Vermont cross-border community here remains reeling as the result of revelations that unraveled recently7 regarding the seemingly sudden sinkhole situated on a strategic street by the bustling bicultural border, with increasing innuendo that the incident was in fact instigated by intentional international intrigue. And alliteration? Also an accomplice.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Tax-free in America
Posted 05.30.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

We are going to hear a lot about the big scandal at the American IRS -- who knew what and when and yada, yada, yada. The Congress of the United States seems to think it is more fun to hold circus hearings that doing their jobs.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Over-40 CraZee Dance Partay
Posted 05.25.13
ROSS MURRAY

Turn that bass up, yo.
Turn that bass up, yo.
Now turn it down just a little, yo
So I can hear myself think.
That's good. Yeah, baby, right there.
You know what I like,
What with my tinnitus and all.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Oh, those Oklahoma senators
Posted 05.23.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The people of Oklahoma are known for being very conservative and adverse to big government and government spending. Nonetheless, in 2010 the federal government spent $38.5 billion in Oklahoma or $10,256 for each resident in the state (U.S. Census Bureau).
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Garbage Use: A No-brainer
Posted 05.13.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The U.S. generates 250 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per year (EPA, 2010). This trash from residential and commercial waste generator and includes 35 million tons of yard waste and 34 million tons of food waste. It does not include industrial waste or construction and demolition waste.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

It's a Mom's Mom's Mom's World
Posted 05.11.13
ROSS MURRAY

And so it came to pass that the mothers of the world, fed up with the strife, the misery, the dirty dishes left in the sink, rose up as one and said, "We got this."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

I am not a terrorist. Just sayi...
Posted 04.29.13
ROSS MURRAY

If we've learned one thing, it's that you can never be too careful. If we've learned two things, it's that anyone can be a terrorist. If we've learned three things, I'd be very surprised.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

US gun control, or lack of, and the ATF Bureau
Posted 04.26.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) is part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the federal law enforcement organization responsible for the investigation and prevention of federal offenses involving the use, manufacture, and possession of firearms and explosives. They also are responsible for illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products. The ATF also regulates via licensing the sale, possession, and transportation of firearms, ammunition, and explosives in interstate commerce.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Big Pharma, Big Profits
Posted 04.22.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I was taking Lipitor and my doctor thought the change in the cholesterol numbers was good. This is the new medicine -- we do a test and look at the numbers, prescribe a pill and retest. Eureka, the numbers change.
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

My bookstore fantasy
Posted 04.20.13
ROSS MURRAY

It will be a combination used bookstore and café. I will run the bookstore and my wife will run the caf café. That way we can both become equally wealthy. We'll call it Ussalone Books. As a sly rebuke to Quebec's sign inspectors, the name above the doorway will read "Livres Ussalone."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

How about those so-called Obama phones?
Posted 04.12.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I know that those who believe Fox News and some of the polemics zipping around the Internet will be in disbelief. After all, the source is that liberal rag, The Washington Post

A couple of key points, which may whet your appetite...
Frank Bernheisel's column archives: Click Here

Bad, pet parent, bad!
Posted 04.07.13
ROSS MURRAY

Yet each time I mention that I'm not an animal lover I feel the need to point out that this does not make me an animal hater. I do not hate pets. I do not neglect or mistreat my family's pets. I do not push cats off my lap -- all the time. I simply think pets are these four-legged jerks who have evolved to take advantage of human sentimentality. But I don't hate them.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Take US Rep. Cruz, please
Posted 04.04.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

You thought that because of the Newtown, Aurora, and Tucson and other recent shootings that some form of gun control legislation might pass the U.S. Congress and be signed into law by Present Obama. Nothing too drastic, mind you, but maybe background checks or assault rifle bans or large clip ban or maybe even registration.

Panda-ing to the masses
Posted 04.01.13
ROSS MURRAY

Like Canadian federal scientists allowed to express their opinions publicly, PM Stephen Harper is extremely rare. Over the past few days, though, the PM has come under attack for taking the time to travel to Toronto to welcome two Chinese pandas to Canada instead of meeting with a group of Nishiyuu youth who had trekked 1600 kilometres to Ottawa to highlight the crisis among Canada's First Nations peoples.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Gay Marriage: The game is on
Posted 03.26.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

We never got separation of church and state, right. The First Amendment says: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." That was not clear to some and so Jefferson clarified it, when he described the First Amendment as erecting a "wall of separation between church and state." But we did not follow through and some of us have insisted in dragging religion into public institutions ever since.

Syrup is simple and sweet -- and you can be too!
Posted 03.25.13
ROSS MURRAY

It's maple syrup season, or as we call it around here, March Madness. Across Quebec and other regions with more trees than sense, maple producers will spend the next several weeks working like beavers -- waddling, chewing wood, slapping their tails and posing for cheap gift-shop souvenirs. Their goal? To produce barrels of sweet maple syrup, an essential component of the traditional pancake-based diet that has made Canada what it is today: sticky.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

The US Deficit
Posted 03.18.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Notice the Deficit has declined from the peak in 2009 and is projected to decline in the future. Could this be because of the Stimulus and the Tax Increase for the wealthy?

Can I review it 'til I need glasses?
Posted 03.16.13
ROSS MURRAY

Reading is the work of the alert mind, is demanding, and under ideal conditions produces finally a sort of ecstasy. As in the sexual experience, there are never more than two persons present in the act of reading -- the writer, who is the impregnator, and the reader, who is the respondent. This gives the experience of reading a sublimity and power unequalled in any other form of communication.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Searching for sugar, man!
Posted 03.10.13
ROSS MURRAY

How much sugar do I need? Scientists have been plagued by this question since early Monday evening when I phoned them and said, "Hey, scientists! How much sugar do I need?" And by "How much sugar do I need?" I don't mean "How much sugar do you need?" or "How much sugar does one need?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Sports Titillated
Posted 03.02.13
ROSS MURRAY

The arrival of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is like coming home to discover that your normally sober great-aunt is slapstick, manhandling, showtunes drunk: It's completely out of character, it's equal parts embarrassing and appalling, and yet you can't help but stare in fascination and the secret hope that something will pop out.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

About those US Lawmakers' Workloads
Posted 02.22.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The salary of a Member of the US House of Representatives starts at $174,000 and goes up based upon seniority and assignments. Oh, and it is adjusted for cost of living annually. This works out to $$14,500 per month.

Yes we Vatican!
Posted 02.21.13
ROSS MURRAY

I will confess (good one!) that I am not Roman Catholic, so no need to send round your sinister secret order of priests to uncover my past -- don't break a sweat trying to unravel Da Wimpy Code here. I'm just a regular ol' Protestant. But what I lack in catechism I more than make up for in enthusiasm, not to mention people skills and looking good in robes. I may never have had first communion but in high school I did play first clarinet, which might come in handy for hymn sings.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Mixed tape messages
Posted 02.12.13
ROSS MURRAY

In the fall of 1981 my older brother went off to university to study fine arts. He came home with blonde highlights and only the flimsiest facade of still being straight. He also brought home three mixed tapes. Somehow, these cassettes -- whether through loan, theft, or forgetfulness -- ended up staying behind with me.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

On the Thirty-Third Day of Christmas
Posted 02.04.13
ROSS MURRAY

But back to the last day of Christmas: For most Christmas sticklers, the season ends when the Magi arrive. But really Christmas doesn't officially end until January 27. That's when the Magi finally leave. This is Estuphany, the festival of the overstayed guest.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Always ready for lunch
Posted 01.30.13
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | When I began this journey in April 2012 of getting well through eating well -- and exercise and meditation - I first had to learn what people with diabetes, fatty livers, and high blood pressure should not ingest, including alcohol. The forbidden list was long and oh, so delicious.

We are the 99 percent (who are not J.K. Rowling)
Posted 01.23.13
ROSS MURRAY

It breaks my heart to do this. Honestly, it does. You have been with me through thick and thin, then briefly very thick and back to mostly thin again. You have offered nothing but encouragement and the occasional cellophane-wrapped fruitcake, and for that I am truly grateful. And only a handful of you cancelled your subscriptions when I wrote my satirical but ultimately misconstrued column, "Kittens: They're Not Just for Breakfast Anymore."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

How doing/eating the "right thing" can come back and bite you in the ass
Posted 01.21.13
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | We added quinoa -- a cereal-like grain -- to our food staples this past year because white rice is a no-no for a diabetic like me, and I have to limit my intake of potatoes to keep my sugar numbers down.

License all guns, and tax ammo, too
Posted 01.18.13
FRANK BERNHEISEL

In my opinion, there is no justification for normal citizens owning military type weapons, specifically assault rifles like the AR 15 with removable and large capacity magazines -- particularly when fully automatic conversion kits are available for sale from magazines or the Internet.

CSI: Cat Stink Investigation
Posted 01.17.13
ROSS MURRAY

This time, I have no one to blame but myself. I could blame the cat, I suppose, but there's no point in blaming something that doesn't understand remorse. Or how to use a little box.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

How a lowly paper clip repaired my spaceship
Posted 01.14.13
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | Okay, so it wasn't a space ship -- it was my high-tech Keurig Coffee Brewer. But, I did use a paper clip to fix it which saved my so-called life, so I reckon I won. Or at least didn't go completely stark-raving batshit from lack of morning joe.

Don't do as I say, eh?
Posted 01.12.13
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | Let me be clear: I do not urge you to do as I have done and continue to do: Lose weight, and stabilize it for height, frame, and age; Lower blood pressure and maintain a "normal" range; exercise regularly; meditate or practice any "mindfulness" techniques.

Vapid New Year, eh?
Posted 01.07.13
ROSS MURRAY

Welcome to 2013, my Year of Living Frivolously. And don't expect me to expend much more effort than that when it comes to column topics. For the next twelve months, it's superficial all the way. Look for my "Whither Pinterest?" column in April, followed in June by "What's the deal with untrustworthy toaster settings?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Education: from academic support to lumbar support
Posted 01.02.13
ROSS MURRAY

As much as I loved my high school trigonometry (oh, the trigs we nommed!), there have been very few occasions in my life when I've needed to measure a tangent, though I've been known to go off on one from time to time. I've also cosined a lease but that's a story and geeky math pun for another time.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Eat shit and die, Fat Boy
Posted 12.31.12
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | This thought was ricocheting inside my head as the doctor said she was putting me on daily Ramapril for high blood pressure and Metformin twice a day for Type 2 Diabetes. Ye shall reap what ye have sown -- no one's fault but my own: More than 50 lbs. overweight; a serious salt junkie; an immoderate lover of Irish whiskey, ice-cold vodka, red wine; an indulger of available pies and cakes, ice cream topped with maple syrup, prone to keep a not-small dish of licorice candy at hand.

The twelve hours of Christmas
Posted 12.24.12
ROSS MURRAY

On the first hour of Christmas, my true love gave to me a kick right in the back of the thigh to nudge me out of bed and start the coffee, because she could tell from the smell -- or lack of smell, to be precise -- that I must have set the alarm wrong.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tax guns, tax ammo
Posted 12.22.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I propose one addition to LaPierre's proposal. Guns and ammunition should be taxed at the federal level to pay for these armed police and their support.

GOP Platform No. 2
Posted 12.18.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The record on immigration law is not pretty. The Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882, and with revisions allowed the U.S. to suspend Chinese immigration, a ban that was intended to last 10 years. It was repealed in 1943. So much for honoring the contribution of those that built the railroads. The point is that enforcing bad laws is bad policy; and ŌillegalÕ can just be a contrivance to play to someoneÕs biases.

Say it with crudely drawn flowers
Posted 12.11.12
ROSS MURRAY

But let there be no doubt that there are few things as irresistible from a parental point of view as getting that hand-written card on your birthday or other special day, even if said card is a school-steered project or reeking of last-minute "oh-crap-it's-dad's-birthday" slapdashery.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

"You have diabetes."
Posted 12.03.12
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | The doctor was blunt: "You have diabetes." She didn't stop there.

Hoop put you in charge?
Posted 12.01.12
ROSS MURRAY

When you're a coach and you choke picking the team name, you know you're in trouble.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

GOP Platform No. 1
Posted 11.24.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The pundits, even those on Fox News, are saying the Republicans must recognize reality and change. Maybe. The pundits say the Rs need to do better with women. Romney received only 44 percent of the women's vote and there are more women voters than men. The reason may have something to do with the Rs policies about women.

Lives measured on a beer scale
Posted 11.20.12
ROSS MURRAY

The article referred to the sudden wave of Roma people from Europe who have crossed the Canadian border illegally at or near Stanstead, Quebec, and have gone on to claim refugee status. As such, they can draw social assistance and other benefits, even if their claims are subsequently rejected.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

"The doctor wants to see you..."
Posted 11.18.12
JOHN MAHONEY

COBDEN, ONTARIO | This morning I weighed in at 164.5 lbs. -- a tad under what I weighed in December, 1953, when I completed Basic Infantry Combat Training at age 18 with Easy Company, 20th Infantry Regiment, in Fort Ord, California. That's 55 lbs. less than I weighed at this time last year, and 40 lbs. less than seven months ago -- when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

ITALY: The Grand Tour Part Three
Posted 11.14.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The Adventure Concludes | Our second night in the Lake area was dark and stormy night, and it rained the next morning for the boat ride to the ) palace on Isola Bella Charles III of Spain built in the 17th century. The palace was amazing and proves the nothing exceeds like excess.

How to wear a poppy
Posted 11.11.12
ROSS MURRAY

Who knew the poppy had rules? Just to make it clear, here are the other rules regarding the proper wearing of a poppy:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Italy: The Grand Tour Part Two
Posted 11.10.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The Adventure Continues | Again, up early and bussed down the hill to the dock at St. Agnello to catch the ferry to Capri. The bus was left behind so we toured Isola de Capri by small boat and walked around the town of Capri. The town is up on the big rock reached by the funicular -- a balanced two-car cable system; as one goes up, the other goes down.

Italy: The Grand Tour No. One
Posted 11.09.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The Adventure Begins | We flew from Washington to Rome, with a brief stopover at London/Heathrow to change airplanes. Our Grand Tour was executed by Trafalgar and offered fourteen optional excursions -- at extra cost, of course. We opted for all.

Ugly on face, tough on gunk
Posted 11.06.12
ROSS MURRAY

I'm the guy who has a problem with the month of Movember, the month men grow moustaches on their ugly mugs, the month of Mugly.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

No real doping going on here
Posted 11.02.12
ROSS MURRAY

I like Lance Armstrong, I really do. I thought he was quite good in that movie Dodgeball. Plus, every time I see him, I can't help thinking that he's the handsomer little brother of fellow Texan Lyle Lovett, and that's just good fun. ("I dated Sheryl Crow." "Bro, I was married to Julia Roberts!")
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

John Sununu disses Colin Powell
Posted 10.29.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

GOPer John Sununu, well known for talking when he should be listening, has said that Colin Powell expressed his support for President Obama because he is black. We should not be surprised.

Le Québec pour les bananaphones!
Posted 10.25.12
ROSS MURRAY

Last week, a Montreal Metro ticket taker came under fire for posting a sign in his window that read, "Au Québec c'est en français que ca se passe!"(In Quebec we do things in French.) As the following letter obtained by The Record demonstrates, this is not the first time STM employees have expressed their personal views in such a public manner.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

It's getting cold in here, so put on all your clothes
Posted 10.13.12
ROSS MURRAY

Our thermostat isn't one of those newfangled ones with the buttons and the read-outs and the programming and the espresso machine. It's an old-school wall outlet filled with mercury and gyroscopes and controlled by a slider at the bottom, the kind someone might "accidentally" bump into and shoot the setting up to 32 Celsius.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

"Tea time" is not the same as a "doughnut run"
Posted 10.05.12
ROSS MURRAY

Canada announced this week that it will begin sharing embassy space and some administrative services with Great Britain. Ottawa says this won't affect Canada's foreign policy but will simply represent good allies helping each other while reducing costs. Still, as everyone knows, politics makes strange flatmates.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Siege mentality or mental seizure?
Posted 09.28.12
ROSS MURRAY

Say what you will about those protestors besieging U.S. embassies around the world (angry, fanatical, murderous, outdoorsy), they certainly are passionate in their beliefs. I can't imagine what would stir up enough blind rage to compel me to storm another nation's diplomatic post, especially if it meant using up a personal day.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Bring on the weird
Posted 09.19.12
ROSS MURRAY

There's never been a better time to be a weird child. In elementary schools in particular, a child can get away with virtually anything and they'll call it "developmental differences." It's not like labeling a child ADD, ADHD, HDTV or just plain BAD because you can't actually diagnose for weird.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Vermont Camping: Squeezing in one more
Posted 09.12.12
ROSS MURRAY

You have to understand that I am a serious believer in quiet hours, which in Brighton begin at 10 p.m. True, I'm what you might call a born-again quiet-hour enforcer, having lived an unseemly past as a bellower, a chortler and a fireside flibbertigibbet. But I've since seen the light and now douse the light at the designated hour. It's respectful of other campers, and, more important, I need my sleep.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tourist Wrap-up
Posted 09.06.12
ROSS MURRAY

You're not like those other tourists. Look at them in the gift shop with their cameras and their blank faces, exhausted by travel and over-stimulation. You're in the gift shop too, of course, but you're in it ironically, so it's cool.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

7 reasons why having my car broken into and camera stolen won't ruin my vacation
Posted 08.29.12
ROSS MURRAY

But no! They were determined to forge a land passage for traffic, goods and tourists stopping their cars to take photos of goats. They smashed through those mountains, much the way the thieves smashed through my driver-side window with a bocce ball.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Into the Heart of Dimness
Posted 08.24.12
ROSS MURRAY

Outside Drumheller, Alberta, for example, I was groping blindly in our basket of camp dishes when my middle finger slid sickeningly down the sharp edge of a paring knife. ("The horror! The horror!") I cried out, pulled my hand back and put pressure on the cut, but never actually examining the wound.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

First Amendment to the US Constitution
Posted 08.19.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

We have been hearing a lot about "freedom of religion" recently from the Catholic bishops and others, but freedom of religion is not what the Constitution says. First is says that Congress cannot establish a religion. Then it says that Congress cannot make laws that prevent people from exercising or practicing their religion.

This land is my land, or how do you make a Nippising?
Posted 08.13.12
ROSS MURRAY

"Oh, Ontario," people warned us. "It never ends," as if it weren't so much a province as a penance. "Just rocks and trees and more rocks and more trees."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Beds Are Burning, or time to change your sheets
Posted 08.05.12
ROSS MURRAY

They said it couldn't be done. Your grandmothers said it shouldn't be done. But, as planned, Mom and I are abandoning you working-stiff teens to head on our cross-Canada vacation. We'll be living in tents. You'll be living in squalor. We'll see who cracks first.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Summer beard (makes me feel fine)
Posted 07.28.12
ROSS MURRAY

"It's a preemptive beard," I tell people. "We're camping for most of August and I don't know how often I'll be able to shave, so this way I get the awful, itchy stage over with now instead of on the road."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Meanwhile, back at the supper-conductor...
Posted 07.18.12
ROSS MURRAY

Scientists are one step closer to answering a riddle that has plagued humans for generations, namely, what's for supper?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tax cuts and class warfare
Posted 07.14.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The Republicans, both in public office and wannabes, are calling for the tax cuts from the Bush administration to be made permanent. (They are due to expire on December 31, 2012.) President Obama has proposed that the tax cuts be renewed for incomes of $250,000 or less, which the Republicans are calling class warfare.

Let's not spend the night together
Posted 07.10.12
ROSS MURRAY

"Jagged toenails." Those words alone should be enough to strike fear into the hearts and ankles of anyone considering sharing a bed with someone else.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Commencement address for the mid-forties set
Posted 06.30.12
ROSS MURRAY

Friends, guests, those of you who remember "Pong" and feel greater nostalgia for Wings than The Beatles, welcome. Welcome to the first day of the rest of your midlife!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

US student loan rates
Posted 06.27.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

On July 1, the US student loan program interest rates are scheduled to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Why?

Running like my dad
Posted 06.17.12
ROSS MURRAY

My own revelation came when I was about seven years old. I was in the back seat of the car, driving through rural nowhere. Dad pulled into a strange driveway and got out of the car to drop something off. He jogged up to the house, half lope, half hop, and I clearly remember thinking to myself, "My dad runs funny."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What time is it was?
Posted 06.14.12
ROSS MURRAY

Time travel is exhausting.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Masters of the Universe
Posted 06.09.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Recently on the financial news -- and also for at least the last year -- I heard that the Masters of the Universe have been sitting on two trillion dollars, $2,000,000,000,000, because of uncertainty.

How to watch a thunderstorm
Posted 06.05.12
ROSS MURRAY

Be prepared. That means incessantly checking the Environment Canada weather website to see if that yellow "THUNDERSTORM WATCH" has been upgraded to the panicky red of "THUNDERSTORM WARNING." Announce to anyone within earshot, "They're getting blasted in Brome!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

No preventive medicine? That's sick!
Posted 05.28.12
ROSS MURRAY

Preventive medicine is good for the patient and good for society. Good luck finding it here in Quebec.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Come home, ye protestor, come home!
Posted 05.15.12
ROSS MURRAY

While a quick resolution to the Quebec crisis over university tuition fees appears unlikely, many students have already packed their books and placards for the semester and have moved back with Mom and Dad for the summer. But how will these young protestors manage the transition? Below is an excerpt from the diary of an erstwhile protestor.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Your weakly classifieds
Posted 05.10.12
ROSS MURRAY

Squid wrangler seeks same for friendship, sharing of photos, possible adoption. 555-1966.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go
Posted 04.30.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

This could be applied to the men and women in the U.S. House of Representatives. How else to explain Congress' decision to give itself a seven-day recess in honor of Presidents Day. Or a two-week break for Easter and Passover, which was followed two weeks later by a second two-week break.

I'm not an angryphone anymore
Posted 04.28.12
ROSS MURRAY

This fall will mark my twentieth year in Quebec's Eastern Townships. (Watch for parade details; it's going to be stupendous.) Add another three years in Montreal and that's nearly half my life in Quebec. In that time, I've been a productive member of society, contributing tax dollars, several tons of newsprint, and four darling anglo babies. Yet I will never be a Quebecer. I get that. It's okay. But if you believe some of the recent media bunkum, I'm not much welcome here at all.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Send in the weenies. And win!
Posted 04.25.12
ROSS MURRAY

The National Hockey League increasingly finds itself in a bind regarding on-ice brawls. On the one hand, the league is all lathered up about the ever-increasing frenzy of fisticuffs and ugly hits, not because the NHL is fundamentally against thuggish violence but because some of those players are worth a lot of money, and nothing casts a pall on your investment quite like a coma.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What rhymes with month?
Posted 04.15.12
ROSS MURRAY

April is Poetry Month, forsooth, which is the only time you can get away with a word like that, to tell you the truth.


Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The walking dad
Posted 04.06.12
ROSS MURRAY

My wife has kind of a reputation. Like many reputations, it was earned shortly after we moved to Stanstead, Quebec, and again, like most reputations, it's been hard to shake
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

April is the season of...
Posted 04.01.12
ROSS MURRAY

T.S. Elliot wrote, "April is the cruelest month." Nuh-uh, Mr. Elliot. (Or may I call you "T"?) That's not how you spell it. It's c-o-o-l-e-s-t. April is the coolest month.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

ALEC: The corporate go-to "guy"
Posted 03.28.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

One of the contributing factor to the death of Trayvon Martin was the Florida "Stand Your Ground" law. One might think that the law was just the brainchild on a rightwing nut case legislator. One would be wrong; the law is the product of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

The sacrificial sofa: A scholarly synopsis
Posted 03.26.12
ROSS MURRAY

As we witness anew the perennial pyres of sofas set ablaze by students in springtime, accompanied by the fiery fulmination of futons, not to mention the conflagration of small dressing tables -- the so-called "bonfire of vanities" -- one is urged to recall the origins of this annual undergraduate ritual.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Santorum? Bring him on!
Posted 03.22.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I for one am really happy the Rick Santorum is in the Republican primary races and collecting enough wins to stay in longer. In fact, I would like to see him win the Republican nomination.

New York Hearts me
Posted 03.18.12
ROSS MURRAY

"Maybe we'll see someone famous," said one of the kids as we approached New York.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Current US transportation bill a waste
Posted 03.14.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I think that funding the US transportation bill for only two years is a gigantic waste of time, effort, and money. Also, the amount of money being discussed in inadequate.

Stick that in your drawer and ignore it!
Posted 03.08.12
ROSS MURRAY

Even then, there is a hierarchy within similar items. For example, in this drawer you have your everyday underwear worn in regular rotation; your fancy underwear for special occasions or burial; and your desperation underwear when absolutely everything else is in the wash.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Virginia Attorney General abuses his power
Posted 03.05.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I view your demand of the University of Virginia as an abuse of the power of the office of the Attorney General. This was done not in any pursuit of the public interest but because you personally believe that the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report are, to quote you, "unreliable, unverifiable and doctored."

DEAR CANADA: WE NEED TO TALK
Posted 02.29.12
ROSS MURRAY

I've always known you've had your faults, Canada, but they were minor faults, mostly around the St. Lawrence River Valley, certainly nothing of San Andreas caliber, nothing to get too shook up about.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What my girls need to know about boys in love
Posted 02.21.12
ROSS MURRAY

Now that Valentine's Day is over, I can tell you the truth: young love is a minefield. No, in a minefield you have a general idea what's going to happen -- you're either going to make it through or you're going to be blown to smithereens. Best-case scenario, you lose an appendage you were previously fond of.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The end of originality
Posted 02.14.12
ROSS MURRAY

Yet, if the Internet has taught us anything besides the number of times Steve Martin has appeared on "Saturday Night Live" (15), it's that everything's been done.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

More words for that
Posted 02.08.12
ROSS MURRAY

Recently, I wrote about house words, the idiosyncratic vocabulary familiar only to those within our immediate circles. For example, there was this one from our house that I forgot: "cheese curtains," another name for cheese curds, aka "cheese turds."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Churches should comply or lose tax exemptions
Posted 02.06.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

b>In the US there are approximately 5000 hospitals of which 629 or 13 percent are Catholic. When the metric is beds or admissions, the percentages are over 15 percent. These institutions employ over 640,000 people.

Don't fear the leaker -- you, too, can plumb, Bob!
Posted 02.02.12
ROSS MURRAY

Friends, homeowners, handymen, lend me your shears, in addition to any other proper tools you might possess. Do so, for my toolbox lacks the means to effectively carry out my home repairs, specifically the subjugation of the drips, the clogs, the inefficient double-flushes that plague this abode. Give me your pliers, your pumps, your muddied wrenches yearning to set free the stuck things.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Free tax ride for charitable institutions?
Posted 01.31.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I was listening to C-SPAN radio while shaving the other morning and the discussion was about Mitt Romney's tax return, the President's speech, and the deficit. A man named Charles called in and pointed out that Mitt had deducted $7 million for charitable contributions for 2010 and 2011. Of this, $3.1 million went to the Mormon Church. Charles made the statement that allowing this tax deduction for Romney made him (Charles) pay more taxes and effectively forced him to support the Mormon Church.

Is that a probe or are you just glad to see me?
Posted 01.24.12
ROSS MURRAY

The space junk fell in my back yard late Sunday evening. The family was sitting around the TV watching our new favourite reality show, "So You Think You Can Sail a Cruise Ship...," when we heard the dog barking outside.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Build the pipeline, but...
Posted 01.21.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Now Exxon Mobil, which owns the pipeline, says that they are going to bury the pipeline deeper where it crosses the river so it won't rupture again. So why wasn't it buried deeply in the first place?

There's a house word for that
Posted 01.17.12
ROSS MURRAY

Language is culture. Yogurt is also culture. Beyond that they have nothing in common. It's language -- certainly not yogurt -- that binds us.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Economic Growth?
Posted 01.11.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel?

Obligatory post-lottery interview
Posted 01.09.12
ROSS MURRAY

That evening, we all gathered in the family room as one of the kids went online to retrieve the winning numbers. He started reading them out. I got one number. Then I got another, and then the numbers kept coming.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tipped Off
Posted 01.01.12
FRANK BERNHEISEL

On December 20, the Wall Street Journal ran the following article, "Inside Capitol, Investor Access Yields Rich Tips". From my point of view, the following paragraphs from the article are indicative of how corrupt the links between members of Congress and the financial community are.

The Year of the Dog
Posted 12.29.11
ROSS MURRAY

The Man wants me to talk about the Year. He says people like to talk about time like it has a beginning and an end. I do not think that time has a beginning and an end. A bag of dog food has a beginning and an end. I am sad when the bag of dog food ends. But then there is another bag and I am happy again. I like dog food!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Your lobbyists at work
Posted 12.16.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

This year, 12,792 professionals lobbied for influence in the American capital, according to First Street Research Group in an analysis that tracks lobbyists. There are, by law, 435 voting members of the House of Representatives and 100 Senators. That computes to 24 lobbyists for every elected representative of the people.

The gift of the mad guy
Posted 12.12.11
ROSS MURRAY

How are the reindeer? Honestly, I don't know why I ask that because I can't imagine any possible answers other than "cantankerous" and "smelly."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

By the splitting of my thumb, something wintery this way comes
Posted 12.05.11
ROSS MURRAY

Here's a prediction: Winter is coming.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I'm sexy and I know it -- but People still doesn't
Posted 11.30.11
ROSS MURRAY

As you are by now aware, I have once again been passed over as People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive in favour of one Bradley Cooper, an actor of moderate renown with a certain douchey quality that appeals to a distressing number of women.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

For two cents each, that's why
Posted 11.22.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

This ship is the Emma Maersk, built in Denmark in 2006. She and her seven sister ships are the longest container ships constructed and the longest ships in service. She is 1,302 feet long and has one of the largest internal combustion engines built. developing 109,000 HP.

You with the dreadlocks! Get out of my compost!
Posted 11.21.11
ROSS MURRAY

For the past two months, I have patiently stood back (or alternatively peeked hesitantly through my bedroom blinds) as you've taken over my back lawn with your protests and encampments. As someone who considers himself to be politically left-leaning and still somewhat bitter for having missed out on the sixties by just that much, I have been sympathetic to your movement and your demands, as vague as they've been.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ridiculous? Still got the moves..
Posted 11.14.11
ROSS MURRAY

When, for example, does a dude sporting a ponytail go from "keeping it real" to "creepy for real"?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

About the fetus/person issue
Posted 11.12.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The people of Mississippi -- those who voted -- rejected the ballot measure that would define a legal person as existing from the moment of conception.

Canada: Dead Poem Society
Posted 11.08.11
ROSS MURRAY

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has unveiled the next stage in his government's ongoing transformation of the Canadian political and social landscape, promising new and comprehensive legislation to get tough on rhyme.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

An age-inappropriate Halloween tale
Posted 10.30.11
ROSS MURRAY

Warning: The following story contains gruesome scenes and high sugar content; may cause queasiness and cellulite
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Goodbye to all that long-gun rubbish, and good riddance
Posted 10.28.11
JOHN MAHONEY

I'm no fan of Prime Minister Harper and Canada's Conservative government, but they are doing one thing right: scrapping the country's long-gun registry.

You'll get yourself a reputation
Posted 10.25.11
ROSS MURRAY

As the saying goes, reputations are like soufflés: tough to make, easily ruined, not good with tequila.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Two cheers for bipartisanship
Posted 10.23.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

So the Obama Administration is blameless, right? No! The Obama Administration failed to do the due diligence that any venture capitalist needs to do before investing in a project.

All you need is lunch
Posted 10.16.11
ROSS MURRAY

With 180 school days each year, and with my youngest daughter having attended five years of school so far, that means she's gone to school for approximately 900 days -- not counting when she's supervised at school during planning days, which in Quebec amounts to something like 72 a year.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I thank, therefore I am. Canadian.
Posted 10.09.11
ROSS MURRAY

As holidays go, Thanksgiving has never really taken off. And by "taken off," I mean I don't recall any Thanksgiving presents coming my way, so that's not much of a holiday, is it?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Run On
Posted 09.30.11
ROSS MURRAY

Hmmm... well, this is a self-indulgent rule-breaker -- one sentence and one paragraph, 725 words long. Sorry, readers.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

US War on Drugs a failure
Posted 09.26.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Let's be clear, the 'War on DrugsÕ -- started in 1971 by President Nixon -- has failed. ItÕs time for a new approach.

A letter to the cats from Moe, who went missing
Posted 09.13.11
ROSS MURRAY

When I first wandered into the family house, I figured I'd give it a year, two years tops, long enough for me to work off the kitten fat, get up to my cat-fighting weight, live in the lap of luxury for a while -- live in it, snuggle in it, do that freaky kneading/suckling thing that I can't help doing... what is it with the kneading? You guys know what I'm talking about, right?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The cat's pyjamas and the mouse's sweatpants
Posted 09.05.11
ROSS MURRAY

Our house has a longstanding save-the-critter policy. Many a bumblebee has been captured under glass and released into the wild. Sundry spiders have dangled from fingertips and been whisked quickly out of doors. Toads are strictly catch-and-release.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I smell errata
Posted 08.25.11
ROSS MURRAY

My column about the futility of lawn care ("Look out back in anger") made the baseless claim that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's stand on climate change had caused my grass to turn brown. Moreover, the author's tone was unjustifiably snippy. We apologize for the allegation and graciously ask the Conservative Party to call off its lawyers.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

If your child steals, what will you do about it?
Posted 08.22.11
JOHN MAHONEY

If your daughter surreptitiously takes $450 from your purse and spends it, will you consider it stealing? What will you do if your son -- without permission -- charges $450 worth of iPod games to your credit card?

Summer 2011: I wanna know what glub is
Posted 08.13.11
ROSS MURRAY

How would you describe your summer so far? Has it been "I've been swimming in my pool a few times" okay? Or "I've been skinny-dipping in my pool a few times" excellent? Or maybe even "I've been skinny-dipping in my neighbour's pool a few times when they're not home" downright awesome?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Is General Electric a US corporation?
Posted 08.02.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Is GE an American company? Does it benefit from being incorporated in Schenectady, New York, and having its headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut?

To call screen or not to screen
Posted 07.29.11
ROSS MURRAY

There are countless inventions whose negative impact outweighs the positive. Take plastic wrap, for example -- wastefulness for the sake of convenience. On the other hand, it probably has contributed to food safety over the years, not to mention the joke about the guy who goes to the psychiatrist wearing only Saran Wrap, causing the psychiatrist to say, "I can clearly see you're nuts. "
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

MEET US REP. ERIC CANTOR OR, THE BEST GOVERNMENT MONEY CAN BUY
Posted 07.22.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Cantor owns up to $15,000 in the fund, which is called the ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20 Plus Year Treasury ETF. Cantor, who leads the House GOP's debt ceiling negotiations, would see his ETF rise dramatically in value if Republicans allow the country to default on its debt. And as Salon notes, Cantor recently broke off negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.

Cancel that HBC credit card
Posted 07.20.11
ROSS MURRAY

When the WalMarts started moving in, we actually felt bad for Zellers. Yes, the quality of your house-brand footwear and clothing is laughably poor, but oh!, the savings we've enjoyed on diapers and toilet paper! Where would our kitties be without your giant tubs of litter? And where else can you get Ganong spearmint leaves around here? Nowhere.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Who do US Congressmen serve?
Posted 07.14.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

As the old saying goes: a man cannot serve two masters.

Bandages? We don't need no stinkin' bandages!
Posted 07.06.11
ROSS MURRAY

Recently, my daughter Katie graduated from Alexander Galt High School. Along with a diploma, each student received a small graduation-night emergency kit. The contents included a pre-paid calling card, a business card for a taxi service, a small pamphlet listing youth resources and emergency numbers, an antiseptic swab, a Band-Aid, and a condom.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

On killing Medicare in the US
Posted 07.03.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Dominating the US air waves, we have Paul Ryan who says that the way to save money and eliminate the federal government debt is to kill Medicare and turn us work over to private insurance companies. ItÕs a joke, right?

Does Canada exist?
Posted 06.29.11
ROSS MURRAY

With people around the world actively rebelling against their governments and struggling to throw off the shackles of oppression, the question arises, what is a nation? And more important, can they beat us in hockey?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Farm Subsidies
Posted 06.24.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Recently, the US House of Representatives passed the agriculture appropriations bill. This bill includes a bunch of subsidies for farmers and agribusiness. These subsidies, partially listed below (thanks to the Cato Institute for those) add up to between $14 and $23 billion every year. These are in addition to the $6 billion a year ethanol subsidy, which has pushed the price of corn to over $7 per bushel, increasing the cost of food.

Whatsa antimatter with you?
Posted 06.16.11
ROSS MURRAY

Dear Class of 2011, over the next few days, you're going to receive a lot of advice. I realize that it seems like people have been preaching at you forever, and maybe you feel you've heard enough.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Moodys: Conflict of Interest
Posted 06.09.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Moody's and the other rating "agencies" get paid by the people, like Goldman Sachs, who issued the bonds. Could there be a conflict here?

This one's a bit of a strain
Posted 06.07.11
ROSS MURRAY

I've never broken a bone, and I see this is an indictment of an overcautious life. Not that I desire pain and injury, but it seems to me that, statistically speaking, I should have busted something by now.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

American Farce
Posted 06.02.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

What is wrong with a little farce? Everyone gets to laugh, right? Wrong!

Star Wars: I have a bad feeling about this
Posted 05.24.11
ROSS MURRAY

Another rule is that if Star Wars is on TV, you have to watch it. That's just the way it is. That's how I ended up spending my Canadian election evening with one eye on the epic battle between good and evil with the fate of millions hanging in the balance and the other eye on Return of the Jedi. Forgive me, then, if the two become a bit blurred.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Arab Democracy
Posted 05.19.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

There are no Arab democracies. Every Arab state is run by a monarch or a dictator and dissent is forcefully suppressed. Lebanon is no exception.

AND REMEMBER: LET'S PUT THE "SHHH" IN "SHOWTIME"
Posted 05.13.11
ROSS MURRAY

Good evening, everyone. If we could all just settle down, please.... As principal of Élecole Ste-Beigne-de-la-Framboise, I'd like to welcome you to our annual all-school musical-dramatic-revue-pageant-spectacle! The children have a wonderful evening planned for you, and if all goes well we should be out of here in two to two-and-a-half hours... Settle down, please... quiet... People, I can wait here all night!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Something else with that?
Posted 05.04.11
ROSS MURRAY

Mostly, though, I don't like drive-thrus because so much can go wrong. With my terrible French and burgeoning deafness, I need the face-to-face interaction that a drive-thru can never provide.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What a Canadian friend we have in Stephen
Posted 04.28.11
ROSS MURRAY

I imagine Friend Stephen would be the type of friend who would come over to your house for a barbecue and insist on taking over the grill, arguing that only his heightened vigilance could ensure that the neighbours won't sneak into the yard and steal the meat right off the grill, because that's what neighbours do.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I wanna hold your hand... really
Posted 04.21.11
ROSS MURRAY

There's a myth in our house that claims I don't like holding hands -- a myth perpetrated by my own wife. "Your father," she likes to tell the children, "was too embarrassed to hold my hand when we started going out."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Fort Sumter Re-fired
Posted 04.18.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The plan is bold! It is serious! It took courage! It re-frames the debate! The ball is in Obama's court! Very wonky! It is a game-changer! Did I mention it is serious? The math demands it! We need to have shared sacrifice! This puts us on the right course! It's serious and bold!

Fort Sumter Re-fired
Posted 04.13.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

On April 12, 1861, 150 years ago, the men of honor standing on their principles, fired the shots and started the bloodiest war in American history. These were the gentlemen of South Carolina who seemed to have a penchant for secession. They had gone in that direction in 1832 during the nullification crisis but were out maneuvered by Andrew Jackson.

Off to the Royal Wedding
Posted 04.11.11
ROSS MURRAY

I'm writing to let you know that I've not yet received my invitation to your Royal Wedding. I imagine what happened is that you mailed it to my old P.O. box address instead of my street address and, well, you know how postal workers are in the colonies. But not to worry; I'll be there.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Oda humanity! And other Canadian government ministers
Posted 04.04.11
ROSS MURRAY

I had been following the Canadian news about the federal opposition holding the Harper Conservatives in contempt of Parliament, and somewhere between wondering whether Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff's manufactured outrage couldn't somehow be transformed into manufactured charisma and fantasizing about the entire House of Commons being held in contempt of Canada, it occurred to me that, up until a month or so ago, I had no idea who Bev Oda was.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

All the nutcases come out to run for President
Posted 03.30.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The US is a free country and as we come up to the presidential election -- it is only 19 months away -- we are proving it, every day. We do this by encouraging every nutcase in America to run for president.

Ten things not about the snow
Posted 03.29.11
ROSS MURRAY

I'm glad to see so many people here this evening. It seems our numbers keep growing week after week! Our membership always takes a dive at the start of the new year, what with everyone feeling so optimistic and upbeat. But with all the calamity that's befallen the world over the past couple of months, attendance has been going through the bomb-shelter roof! That's good, because remember, people: there's no hysteria like mass hysteria.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ten things not about the snow
Posted 03.20.11
ROSS MURRAY

This column is not about snow. I think we're all pretty much snowed out. We're snowed out, snowed in, snowed up and down, and snowed under. Snow doubt about it. Or are we?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Teaching your children well
Posted 03.12.11
ROSS MURRAY

I know for a fact that I'm a terrible teacher because a few years ago I pinch-hit for an advanced senior English class while the regular, properly trained teacher was on sick leave. It was three months of glazed eyes, zero concentration, and not a single cohesive thought. And you should have seen the students!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Fill 'er up!
Posted 03.04.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Earlier this week I filled up my car with gas: fourteen gallons at $3.359 for a total of $47.03. The price of oil in New York on March 2 was $101 per barrel. In 2008, which was a recession year, Exxon Mobile and Shell made profits of $45 billion and $26 billion respectively. And, as far as I can tell, Exxon paid no federal tax in 2009.

Your local tax dollars at work
Posted 02.20.11
ROSS MURRAY

If you want to know the complete story, context is everything. Yes, it's true that the Town of Stanstead's budget is $3.1 million compared to $2.5 million in the Township, where the children are honey-haired and never get the croup. But you have to look at what services those taxes provide citizens. For example, did you know that the provincial cops routinely patrol Stanstead 3.43 times a week? In the Township, it's only 2.8 times per week.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Hundred percent chance of weather
Posted 02.19.11
ROSS MURRAY

Early snow showers will turn to hail at mid-morning and then turn to Mecca at noon for midday prayers. Mountainous regions will see a 60 percent chance of being majestic, while the merely hilly regions will undergo periods of jealousy for those smug mountains with all their gung-ho climbers and rock-clinging lichens and overall ruggedness. Stupid mountains! Temperatures will fluctuate like the popularity of Brittany Spears.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

No Facebook Friend, moi
Posted 02.13.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The medium is the message and Facebook's message is "your life is our property."

A "Dear Van" letter
Posted 02.10.11
ROSS MURRAY

This is probably the hardest letter I've ever had to write to a motor vehicle. We've been together now for seven years and 230,000 kilometres, through good towns and bad. That's why what I'm about to write is so extremely difficult, almost as difficult as getting the spare tire to descend from your undercarriage. Difficult, but not impossible... unlike the spare.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Lost in stuff
Posted 02.04.11
ROSS MURRAY

Considering we're so consumed with consuming, people sure don't look happy when they shop. You'd think everyone would be downright giddy. Just looking at the profusion of stuff should be enough to illicit outbursts of ecstasy. "Holy baby-bonus! A koala-fur iPod holder! A musical spatula! Bieber-brand industrial cleanser! Sporks!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Don't play that song for me, Canada
Posted 01.24.11
ROSS MURRAY

It is completely unacceptable in this day and age and time and space for a 25-year-old song to contain the F-word. No, not that F-word, the other one, the homosexual slur. I can't even bring myself to write it. I don't even like to think it. Oh gosh, I'm thinking it now! Stop, brain, stop! Quick, tell me, people at the CBSC, how do you turn your brain off?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Lactating intolerance
Posted 01.18.11
ROSS MURRAY

There's just something about breastfeeding that makes some people a bit squirrelly. Perhaps that's the reason a Montreal sales clerk this past weekend asked a nursing mom to leave the store.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Geothermal Energy Usage Report
Posted 01.15.11
FRANK BERNHEISEL

We have had a geothermal heating and cooling system working in our home here in northern Virgina since August, 2009 and we saw a drop in total annual energy use of thirty-one percent in 2010 over 2009.

2011: The year to fear
Posted 01.11.11
ROSS MURRAY

Well, thank goodness that's over with. Now that it's 2011, we can put the nastiness of 2010 behind us, right? Sorry, no, we can't.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

You don't know how lucky you are
Posted 12.29.10
ROSS MURRAY

That schmucky feeling will sometimes hit me when I'm grasping for something to write about. Maybe the refrigerator. Yes, the Frigidaire of the Damned, where mummified vegetables lie entombed in the so-called "crisper"; where 10-year-old hot sauces of varying murkiness tempt you with their aged pungency and potential toxicity; and in the deepest recesses of the bottom shelf, encased in a no-name margarine container -- Good Grills Gone Bad!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

You don't know how lucky you are
Posted 12.29.10
ROSS MURRAY

That schmucky feeling will sometimes hit me when I'm grasping for something to write about. Maybe the refrigerator. Yes, the Frigidaire of the Damned, where mummified vegetables lie entombed in the so-called "crisper"; where 10-year-old hot sauces of varying murkiness tempt you with their aged pungency and potential toxicity; and in the deepest recesses of the bottom shelf, encased in a no-name margarine container -- Good Grills Gone Bad!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Xmas Poem
Posted 12.23.10
ROSS MURRAY

'Tis three nights before Christmas,
I should be out shopping,
Not watching the tree,
counting pine needles dropping.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Michael
Posted 12.15.10
ROSS MURRAY

My daughter Katie has a friend at school who tells her that he would like to appear in one of my columns. Let's call this friend "Michael."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Wiki Canada
Posted 12.07.10
ROSS MURRAY

When the Globe & Mail reported recently that "Canada barely rates a mention" in the WikiLeaks cable dump, you could almost hear the sulking disappointment. Dang; ignored by the cool kids again.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Stop bivouacking your sister!
Posted 12.01.10
ROSS MURRAY

At ease, troops. Thank you for joining Mother and me here in the war room, AKA the dining room. Our mission is to coordinate our assault on tomorrow's commitments. If we effectively optimize our resources, anticipate counter-attacks on our limited time, and fend off spontaneous sleepovers, we may be able to maneuver through tomorrow with only minimal casualties.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Just stop it already!
Posted 11.21.10
ROSS MURRAY

Reasons why my 15-year-old son should stop bouncing a basketball in the house and/or incessantly popping it up in the air and catching it -- since he asked:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Saint nothin' like the real thing, baby
Posted 11.12.10
ROSS MURRAY

They really ought to time holidays better. I mean, you're still bouncing off the wall from the sugar high of Halloween and the next day you have to settle all the heck down for All Saints Day.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Let Bush's tax cuts lapse
Posted 11.10.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The tax cuts apply only to those people with income and, for the most part, income well above the national average. Extending the tax cuts will do nothing for the millions of Americans who are trying to find employment or are faced with imminent unemployment.

It's perfectly paranormal: a Halloween tale
Posted 10.31.10
ROSS MURRAY

"Did you hear that?" Beth sat up in bed. The clock read 3:14 a.m. The night was dark, which was pretty standard for 3:14, come to think of it.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

On Medicare Spending
Posted 010.25.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The huge budget deficits that the [US] faces in coming decades are, above all, because of Medicare. The program will have to cover growing numbers of baby boomers while health costs are likely to keep going up.

Didn't we just get here?
Posted 10.24.10
ROSS MURRAY

The recent mail included a letter from Montreal's Concordia University to our daughter Emily. I tore it open in the car, even though that's apparently a federal offense, or so says my wife, who knows a thing or two about these things. I figured I could risk it, seeing that Em's in Thailand and I have a special dispensation from the Postmaster General for all matters related to mail fraud.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

You schmooze, you lose
Posted 10.18.10
ROSS MURRAY

"Hello, welcome to SchmoozeTech, this is Randy, how may I help you?"


"Uh, yeah, hi. I think my schmoozing account has been frozen. Can you check it out for me?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Boston is buss-town
Posted 10.04.10
ROSS MURRAY

Badges, however, made it easy to play "Spot the Tourist," which I liked to do while wandering about (ironic considering I was a tourist). One way to distinguish tourists was that they weren't running. Bostonians are required by law to jog three hours a day. They're also obliged to speak with these adorable accents, because no one really talks like that, do they?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Bonhomme not so bon?
Posted 10.04.10
ROSS MURRAY

QUEBEC CITY | Still reeling from the furor over his image being used on the cover of Maclean's magazine, Bonhomme Carnaval has retreated to an undisclosed location and is no longer granting interviews.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Sorry, people, the Internet is full
Posted 09.27.10
ROSS MURRAY

GENEVA, Switzerland | If you had planned to blog this morning about the latest antics of your Schnauzer or post a video of Grandma losing her dentures, you're out of luck. The Internet is closed.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

American deep-fried pie
Posted 09.19.10
ROSS MURRAY

You know what I love? Shopping in the United States. Not for clothes or cars or firearms. But food. Specifically, junk food. No one does unhealthy snacks better than the Americans.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Yes, the rich are getting richer
Posted 09.10.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

"...Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic."

Honour? Barely knew her
Posted 09.07.10
ROSS MURRAY

Following the recent Rally for Nothing Too Specific in Washington, DC, I've decided to emulate celebrity demagogue Glenn Beck by organizing my own rally. I'm calling it "Honourgeddon."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Much ado to-do list
Posted 09.01.10
ROSS MURRAY

Good morning, children. Here are your instructions for today. Please read carefully. Make sure you are fully awake.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I get column questions
Posted 08.24.10
ROSS MURRAY

And it's time for some answers...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Joys of Camping Redux
Posted 08.12.10
ROSS MURRAY

There was a brief possibility of hope, a vista of joy, a burdenless future -- or at very least a weekend camping without the dog. Instead, we now have a medium-dog-sized hole in our tent.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Short-tempered in Canada about the long form
Posted 08.03.10
ROSS MURRAY

Absolutely everyone in Canada is talking about the Conservative government's decision to eliminate the mandatory long-form questionnaire in the Canadian census. There hasn't been this much chatter since Revenue Canada revised the RD310 Statement of Fiscal Inclemency.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What would Gaga do?
Posted 07.21.10
ROSS MURRAY

In retrospect, maybe holding a Lady Gaga-influenced book reading wasn't such a good idea. The legal fallout alone is going to tie me up for months.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The groom's view, or Weddings for Dummies
Posted 07.07.10
ROSS MURRAY

Weddings are girly. Not exactly a revelation, but it hit home recently while preparing for my nephew's wedding, around the time I was hanging the ribbons.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Remembering what we Americans just celebrated ~ July 4, 1776
Posted 07.06.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The introduction above is followed by a list of 18 grievances against George III. One of which was that George III would not allow immigration reform. The more things change...

Welcome to McMelbourne, Quebec!
Posted 06.30.10
ROSS MURRAY

I'm mightily miffed about this McDonald's in Melbourne, Quebec. Ostensibly outraged, even. The situation hardly seems fair. I mean, what about the rest of us living in small, commercially fragile towns across QuebecÕs Eastern Townships? Where's our McDonald's?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

REPORT FROM LIMA, PERU(800)
Posted 06.27.10
VANESSA HERRICK

LIMA, PERU | It is World Cup 2010, and I find myself here in Lima Peru. Oddly, I was in the middle of the Amazon jungle in Bolivia for World Cup 2006 -- I had to ride on the back of a pick-up truck with friends to a tiny village that had a TV satellite signal to watch the finals. We sat outside on a sun-bleached terrace, drank pitchers of cold beer full of lemon slices, and ate greasy chicken while Italy beat France.

Pass a carbon tax
Posted 06.24.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The carbon tax should take effect immediately and initially produce a 50 cent per gallon increase in the price of gasoline and diesel fuel. Then the carbon tax should ramp up over ten years to result in $7 a gallon gasoline in today's dollars.

Papas on parade
Posted 06.18.10
ROSS MURRAY

"Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the 52nd Annual Father's Day Parade. I'm Dick Harmon with my co-host Fanny Aspwich, coming to you live from beautiful downtown Berwick. The sun is shining, and we're all set for another prodigious procession of patriarchs pounding the pavement."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What would make me happy
Posted 06.11.10
ROSS MURRAY

No. 6. Scientists discover that people who played in their high school band live four percent longer than all-star high school hockey players. Plus, their spouses are three percent hotter.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Judging the judges
Posted 06.07.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

There are 33 states in the U.S. that elect state judges. Youse got a problem wit dat? Yes, a few. For one thing, the opportunity for corruption is high.

How to make friends and influence pirates
Posted 06.04.10
ROSS MURRAY

It's easy to make friends when you're little. It goes like this:
"Hi. I'm Bertha. I'm five."
"Me too I'm five. I'm Jeremy. Can I come to your house?"
"Okay. But let's play in this sandbox first. No, wait! Let's get married."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

FUN STUFF IN WASHINGTON
Posted 05.31.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Of course the big news is in the Gulf of Mexico and Afghanistan but we should not let the fun little stories pass us by.

Scandals of the literary kind
Posted 05.28.10
ROSS MURRAY

News item: Children's author Robert Munsch reveals cocaine use, alcohol addiction. "My children love his books, it will break my heart to tell them the truth but as their mother I have to. Our family will not idolize those who do bad things. The press makes stars out to be 'gods' after they overdose on drugs or cheat on their wives, but we will not!" - Sara Landriault, president of the International Family Childcare Association
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

My new book
Posted 05.17.10
ROSS MURRAY

Books have been on my mind a bit lately because (here comes the shameless self-promotion) I have a book coming out next month. It's a collection of columns that appeared over the years in the Stanstead Journal, Log Cabin Chronicles, and The Sherbrooke Record. This is how a lazy person writes a book without actually writing a book; it may take eighteen years but it gets done.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Psych Stuff
Posted 05.06.10
ROSS MURRAY

For example, individuals who can't stop themselves from making crude jokes, fart noises with their armpits, and leaning too close when they talk to others (with food in their teeth, no less) are most likely suffering from Obsessive Repulsive Disorder. Treatment involves regular doses of Howdyagetsogross and a strict regimen of bathing.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I am dog. I eat house.
Posted 04.28.10
ROSS MURRAY

Hello. Hello hello HELLO! I am the dog and I am eating the Family's house. I will tell you about it when I stop jumping on you. I know it is wrong because the Man keeps yelling at me. But he is always yelling at me. He does not understand that I am jumping on you because you will not bend down to let me lick you on the mouth, so I must make myself tall. Just a taste. Yes, yes. Hello! Hello!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Reading encrypted entrails
Posted 04.20.10
ROSS MURRAY

Our children are somewhat appalled that Deb and I are going to shows, let alone shows with the rock and the roll and the noise and the tight pants. I don't think it's so much they disapprove of us going. It's that they disapprove of us going without them.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Reading encrypted entrails
Posted 04.11.10
ROSS MURRAY

The key to interpreting the Encryption Oracle is not to take the responses too literally. They are signs along the pathway to enlightenment. Normally, a priest or shaman would ingest a mild psychotropic drug before interpreting an oracle. I, however, have only caffeine to go on at this juncture.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ah double-dares ya to cross this street!
Posted 04.05.10
ROSS MURRAY

I am pleased to report that Operation Window Dressing at Derby Line, Vermont/Stanstead, Qweebec is unfolding as planned. We have successfully fomented a climate of fear and anxiety in the community through our vigilant efforts to thwart the pernicious crime of not entering the United States where we say so.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Bad Viginia Litigation
Posted 03.30.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

I would like to register my outrage at the law suit that the Commonwealth of Virginia has initiated...

The last bit of cheese
Posted 03.25.10
ROSS MURRAY

"Which food would be hardest to give up?"

"Is beer food?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Oh, those teacher PED days
Posted 03.17.10
ROSS MURRAY

Parents like to gripe about PED days, and in Quebec we have more reasons to gripe than parents anywhere else in Canada. That's because Quebec school boards allot 20 PED days per academic year, the most of any province.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Health care e-mails to my senators
Posted 03.11.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

It has been sixty years since Harry Truman tried to get universal health care passed in the United States. That is long enough and the issues are clear; letÕs get a significant improvement in health care done, now.

Give me a break
Posted 03.09.10
ROSS MURRAY

Why do we have to go anywhere? Since when does March Break have to be this family vacation in the middle of the school year? Who's responsible for this? The travel industry? The City of Fort Lauderdale? Hallmark?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Help me, I'm not Irish
Posted 03.02.10
ROSS MURRAY

I know I don't know a lot about a lot of things. Usually this is perfectly fine. There's no handicap in going through life without knowing, for instance, the history of Winnipeg, mainly because I don't care about Winnipeg and, frankly, Winnipeg doesn't care about me.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Your Winter Olympic questions answered
Posted 02.22.10
ROSS MURRAY

Why the Winter Olympics? The Winter Olympics are also a means of distracting the population from the cold days of February and from controversial global events, such as, in the case of the current Olympics, Canada's participation in the largest air assault in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not competing in Vancouver but is expected to be a contender in the 2012 summer games in the 500 Metre Fleeing From Gunfire Relay.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Feeling a little L0VE sick?
Posted 02.14.10
ROSS MURRAY

The World Health Organization is bracing for the outbreak of a new virus that could lead to the next global pandemic. Known as "lunaticius-0 vascular excitamitus," or L0VE for short, the virus has so far proven both unpredictable and difficult to study. Scientists everywhere are saying to themselves, "I want to know what L0VE is."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The Republican health care bill
Posted 02.10.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

As I mope around the house nursing my cold (eye, nose, and throat infections -- hooray for modern antibiotics and walk-in clinics, even though you pay out of pocket and out of program) I am musing on health care. Yes, America has really good and maybe the best health care, if you can afford it.

My first flophouse
Posted 01.26.10
ROSS MURRAY

Really, the only reason I even thought she might be a hooker was because a user comment on a hotel-rating website happened to mention a hooker. And the only reason I was reading the user comments in the first place was to check the rumour about the bedbugs.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Americans, don't be distracted
Posted 01.25.10
FRANK BERNHEISEL

The people of Massachusetts elected Scott Brown to fill the vacant seat in the U.S. Senate and you would think that there had been a cataclysm and that everything that had been done in the last full year -- where health care was debated, discussed and dissected -- was negated and the President Obama was dead meat.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Oh Canada, guess who's coming to dinner?
Posted 01.18.10
ROSS MURRAY

Come on in. Oops, but wait. If you don't mind, before you step inside, if you wouldn't mind just passing through this full body scan, please. Standard procedure. You can never be too sure, right? Nothing personal, but you do fit the profile: shifty eyes, awkward body language, inability to answer a straight question.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

First, close your eyes and visualize
Posted 01.13.10
ROSS MURRAY

When I'm not writing scintillating newspaper columns or working at the Novelty Song Preservation Society, I am a part-time motivational speaker. Through my inspiring words, musical numbers, and an awesome PowerPoint presentation, I help people become more goal-oriented, positive and motivated -- or as I like to say, "MEtivated."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

2009: Photo finish
Posted 01.01.10
ROSS MURRAY

Back in the days of film photography (gather round, now, young 'uns...), people used discretion when taking pictures. With only 24 shots to a roll, they had to ask themselves, "Is a photo of my foot truly film-worthy?" Or, "Do I really need a photo of myself when I could remind myself of how stunningly good looking I am simply by passing a mirror?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Dear Santa
Posted 12.24.09
ROSS MURRAY

We would like to express our grave concerns about SantaCorp's hiring policy. A review of the employee roster shows a glaring lack of diversity. There appears to be an almost fetishistic adherence to hiring vertically challenged individuals with malformations of the ear. While SantaCorp should be applauded for its willingness to hire people with differences, the exclusive nature of these hires is of concern.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Pass the US health care reform bill
Posted 12.20.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Why is the US health care bill 2000 pages long? Because that is the way we do legislation in the U. S. of A. Specifically, Congress does not choose to enact legislation that lays down principles, guidelines, and criteria. They try to spell things out in detail to make sure that those faceless bureaucrats in Washington to not run amuck and do something rational.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

The Olympic Torch Moves West
Posted 12.13.09
ROSS MURRAY

My friend and colleague Eryn was one of the 12,000 Canadians selected to carry the torch. If that isn't cool enough, she also gets to keep her white Olympic torchbearer outfit, which looks like the official pyjamas of the Canadian Dairy Association.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The unwritten rules of postering
Posted 12.08.09
ROSS MURRAY

We live by countless unwritten rules. For example, if you're at the checkout with a cart full of groceries and the person behind you has only a handful of items, you let that person go ahead, even if that person has questionable taste in cereal. Another unwritten rule is that the person you let ahead should not then proceed to purchase lottery tickets and/or pay for them by debit card. If that happens, you are allowed to throw a tin of Beef-A-Roni at the person. This last bit is not an unwritten rule but I think we can all agree it is fair and just.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

An inconvenient fruit
Posted 11.27.09
ROSS MURRAY

If I take an orange to work, I have to find a 15-minute window of opportunity to a) peel my orange; b) peel that horrid white pith off; c) find some paper towel because I've got orange oil all over me; d) break the orange into wedges; e) tear off some more paper towel; f) eat the orange; and g) go wash my hands because the paper towel just isn't cutting it.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ask the "doctor"(690)
Posted 11.21.09
ROSS MURRAY

This is particularly the case for the Baby Boomers, that obsessively self-absorbed demographic whose bodies have passed their best-before date. Their every twinge, ache, or burble is accompanied by a looming sense of mortality and an overwhelming urge to know the worst. No wonder waiting rooms are so over-crowded. There's not a doctor shortage in Canada. There's a complaint surplus.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

And don't forget the imported gourmet pretzels...(690)
Posted 11.14.09
ROSS MURRAY

I'm writing to let you know that my daughter will once again be making the rounds with her Crapmore Gift Fundraiser Catalogue. This year, the money raised will help pay for her class field trip to the Musée des excursions éducatifs in Rimouski. Yup, sure glad public education is free (ha-ha)...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

H1N1: Our best shot at obsession(650)
Posted 11.06.09
ROSS MURRAY

But, I'm sorry, these days it's all H1N1 all the time. H1N1 may be the most famous number-letter combo since R2-D2. I can't recall when a subject so insinuated itself into our psyches. Even after 9/11, I never looked at my neighbours and thought, "Hmmm, I wonder if Jim's a terrorist..." But if I see a co-worker so much as scratch his nose, I seriously consider reporting him to the germ police.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Welcome to FaceBOO!: A gruesome Halloween parable(760)
Posted 10.26.09
ROSS MURRAY

Allison slouched at her computer and decided to make the best of the evening. So what if her date to the Crimson Conga Cotillion had cancelled? Who wants to dance in a line all night anyway? And it's so uncomfortable wearing all that fruit. No, she was better off at home with her mug of Placid Hospice Herbal Tea and her friends -- her Facebook friends. She had 342 of them, a good two-thirds of whom she actually knew, mostly from her high school, St. Scantily School for Girls. Allison checked her updates...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Municipal election? Yes, no, or none of the above(735)
Posted 10.26.09
ROSS MURRAY

Is there an election in your municipality? Are you sure? What if you're wrong? Won't you feel silly showing up at town hall November 1 and there's nothing to put an X on. Luckily it's a Sunday so there won't be many people around. But still, the embarrassment will burn deep.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Revenge of the Thanksgiving turkey(690)
Posted 10.12.09
ROSS MURRAY

Everyone? Everyone? Can I have your attention please? Uncle Charlie, stop palpating the pumpkins for just a minute. Kenny, if you could refrain from gnawing the charred carpet... Thank you. Can you all see me through the smoke? I'd like to say a few words before we get to my traditional Thanksgiving grace.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Dog-walking in Cairo(1350)
Posted 10.11.09
KATHLEEN SAVILLE

We turned left on Sharia Mansour Mohamed, towards the Serbian Embassy, whose sideways are nice and wide though with few patches of dirt. I've found those little patches of dirt around the trees, framed by the sidewalk bricks, the best places for Sandy to investigate. The Serbian Embassy must know that Zamalek dog walkers instinctively gravitate towards such sidewalks as theirs are bereft of trees. Sandy is only warming up on the Serbian sidewalks though, sniffing her way pass the guardhouses.
Rower Kathleen Saville teaches and writes in Cairo, Egypt. She can be reached at ksaville@acuegypt.edu

School photos? Awww, shoot!(670)
Posted 10.05.09
ROSS MURRAY

I have nothing against portraits of children. Particularly in elementary school, the annual photograph is the equivalent of marking a child's height on the doorframe, a document of how much the child has grown in a year and the increasing likelihood of orthodontic intervention. Plus, as the children get older, they'll get a kick out of looking back at their bad haircuts and dazed smiles, except, of course, when you threaten to show them to their new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The bouncy thing(660)
Posted 09.26.09
ROSS MURRAY

It's a great day in a parent's life when a child becomes too big to go on those inflatable bouncy games you find at fairs and carnivals. It's not that you want to deny your child the joys of jumping in a cushioned, germ-filled environment. It's just that if you want to do anything other than stand around as your child waits in line for her three-minute turn inside a pink, blow-up castle, you're in the wrong place.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

FIFTY-SIX YEARS AGO TODAY
Fifty-six years ago today I enlisted in the US Army. I was 17 and had no idea what I was doing.
John Mahoney has published the LCC since March, 1996.

A history of Quebec's Eastern Townships(660)
Posted 09.22.09
ROSS MURRAY

The Eastern Townships were opened to settlement in 1791. There's a common misconception that the first settlers were United Empire Loyalists but most, in fact, were people looking for cheap land in the countryside and willing to drive out the locals to get it. Today, we would call these people Montrealers.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

NIGGER! NIGGER! NIGGER! (140)
Posted 09.14.09
JOHN MAHONEY

That's what US Rep. Joe 'You Lie!' Wilson -- aka Addison Graves Wilson, Sr.,. Republican of South Carolina -- really yelled during President Obama's health care address. And that's really what all the crazies are screeching at Town Hall Meetings, parades and protests, on YouTube with their code words:
John Mahoney has published the LCC since March, 1996.

This (openable) column has no strings attached(680)
Posted 09.09.09
ROSS MURRAY

I could go on and on. For instance, I could grumble at length about creeping French. It goes like this: "The cost of the belly dancing course is $50 (including finger cymbals). Inscription will take place on opening day." Did you catch that? My spell checker didn't.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

A Cairo commuter in Ramadan 2007(1620)
Posted 09.05.09
KATHLEEN SAVILLE

On Sharia Sheikh Rehan, the roadway is nearly deserted. The early evening lighting is pleasing. The buildings along Sheikh Rehan are of the French colonial era and the twilight softens their dirty brown facades to a soft tungsten lighting that is reminisant of Cairo in her heyday as "The Jewel of the Nile" in the early 1900s.
Rower Kathleen Saville teaches and writes in Cairo, Egypt. She can be reached at ksaville@acuegypt.edu

Happy (School) Days Are Here Again(635)
Posted 08.29.09
ROSS MURRAY

To prepare for opening day and to ensure the efficient functioning of our classrooms, you will find below the list of school supplies that your child ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE. It is critical that you DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THIS LIST.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

US health care already rationed
Posted 08.26.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL

In the U.S. of A., we have a long history of rationing health care. The reason triage came into the English language in 1918 is because the casualties of WWI were so high they swamped the medical facilities. It is the same in every war and disaster.

It also occurs in local emergency rooms, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

A row on the Nile(740)
Clumps of water lilies float by the boat. A working felucca crosses the river ahead of me, ferrying people from Gezira Island to the Giza side. I row on, entranced by the smooth motion of the oars as I push them forward and with a flick of the wrists, drop the oar blades in the water. Since I'm going with current, the pull through is easy and the oar handles are back in my lap ready to be pushed away over and over. The waves are minimal, barely a ripple to contend with.Posted 08.21.09
KATHLEEN SAVILLE


Rower Kathleen Saville teaches and writes in Cairo, Egypt. She can be reached at ksaville@acuegypt.edu

So you want to be a virtual rock 'n' roll star...(640)
Posted 08.19.09
ROSS MURRAY

We've let a monster into our house. It's not under the bed or hiding in the closet. It's just sitting there, in the open, by the television, with wires like tentacles, waiting to reach out and suck you in. We've bought... a PlayStation.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

How I saved the economy(660)
Posted 08.09.09
ROSS MURRAY

In my e-mail to Canadian workers who were taking an unanticipated break from wage-earning, I wrote, "Look, it's summer, the kids are out of school, the weather's great. Okay, the kids are out of school. Anyway, take advantage of this interruption in the daily grind.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Yes, Obama is guilty
Of course he is. Just look at him. President Obama is barely half white.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Can you dig the River Ross?(670)
Posted 07.29.09
ROSS MURRAY

I just spent a week on the Bay of Fundy, which was recently named to a short list as a wonder of the world. By this, I don't think they mean, "It's so cold, it's a wonder anyone goes swimming," but that might be closer to the truth.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Health care? Do something!
Posted 07.24.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Coming to work, GOP Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia was on CSPAN radio talking about health care and how President Obama did not say much yesterday in his press conference on health care. He went on about how Americans will not give up their sacred right to choose their own doctor, etc.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Big game hunter, me (570)
The Powers That Be don't allow elimination by lead here in Cobden on the Muskrat. That puts me in the armed but not dangerous category.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

In the Good Old Summertime, eh?(670)
Posted 07.20.09
ROSS MURRAY

Complaining about the weather is Canada's national pastime, year-round. The winter's too cold, the spring is too wet, the autumn too leafy. But you never see more teeth-gnashing and fist-shaking than during a less than clement summer.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Would you like extra RAM with that?(730)
Posted 07.13.09
ROSS MURRAY

I know my way around computers. But that's like saying I know my way around Sherbrooke, Quebec, even though I've never lived or worked there, and I don't know any of the back roads or where to find decent Senegalese food and robot parts (don't ask).
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Our home geothermal heating-cooling project
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Kathy and I are having our house converted to geothermal heating and cooling. The way this works is that a heat transfer fluid, similar to the antifreeze/water fluid in a car, is pumped down the wells and either picks up heat or deposits heat -- depending on whether it is heating or cooling.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Ten random things I've learned -- If you weren't cool in high school, you will never be cool(670)
Posted 07.06.09
ROSS MURRAY

1. I've learned to make a ponytail. Braids, however, are out of my league.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The vision not yet fulfilled
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Despite the fact that this is a terrific country to live in and the land of opportunity, it is not yet the land of equalopportunity.ŹA child born to family in Mississippi has twice the chance of dying before reaching one year, as one born in Minnesota. If life is one of those unalienable Rights, for which our government was instituted to secure, why the gap between our statement of our vision and our performance?
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Hound Dogging It
Posted 07.01.09
JOHN MAHONEY

Got dandelions? Thistles? Hate poison? Too creaky and twisted to get down on your arthritic knees and grub the suckers out? Sisters and brothers, assemble right over here and pay attention:

My Canada includes ample storage(670)
Posted 06.28.09
ROSS MURRAY

Invariably at this time of year I think about what it means to be Canadian, just like around Labour Day, I think about pie... not sure why that is, actually.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Grads, your future's just a flush away (660)
Posted 06.19.09
ROSS MURRAY

Right now, as you sit there in your cap and gown, pretending to listen but actually playing the opening credits of "The A Team" over and over in your head, the probability of cleaning a toilet seems remote and revolting (coincidentally, also adjectives you'll someday use to describe your future spouse).
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The sleepover rules (690)
Posted 06.12.09
ROSS MURRAY

Please find below the household guidelines regarding sleepovers. These guidelines establish a protocol for non-resident children and their parents in order to make the sleepover experience as enjoyable as possible and to avoid unnecessary tantrums, crying jags and medical intervention.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Passports? We don't need no stinkin' passports! (640)
Posted 06.06.09
ROSS MURRAY

On June 1, U.S. Customs required all Canadians entering the United States to require a passport or special driver's license. Now don't you just wish Canada had something up its sleeve too...?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Mister President, bring on the Carbon Tax
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL

We need to have a new energy policy in the United States. The cap and trade approach plus subsidies for industry of the Waxman-Markey bill is not the solution. W-M is too complicated, too expensive, and hobbled by picking favorites. Also, it includes a big give-away to coal.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Who knows how the flu flows? (640)
Posted 05.20.09
ROSS MURRAY

Get ready for the feline flu. It makes sense. You can't get much closer animal-human contact than waking up with a cat on your face. Plus, they're always coughing up something. And, let's be honest, they secretly hate us.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

When you're almost eight, your train of thought is an express (720)
Posted 05.20.09
ROSS MURRAY

In May 2007, I transcribed a conversation I had with Abby, who was just about to turn six. Two years later, the conversation continues. The scene: The kitchen, Sunday noon. Abby is having lunch before heading off to a play date. I'm washing dishes. Everyone else is out.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Did Pelosi know?
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL

Everybody knew and stayed silent. Nobody did anything because nobody cared. The American people did not care; they were busy watching Jack Bauer on "24" save the US by torturing bad guys. It was OK, it was right there on TV.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

The mouldin' age of television (670)
Posted 05.12.09
ROSS MURRAY

Westerns were big back then. One of my favourites was "Horsebit," which centred around the town of Gulchwood Hollow, a stagecoach stop on the Amarillo-Ptomaine Line. The hero was Deputy Dex Hoolihan, a widower with three lively daughters who were always getting into trouble (usually with traveling salesmen).
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

SUFFER, THE LITTLE CHILDREN
Posted 05.09.09
JOHN MAHONEY

When the economy goes down the toilet, who suffers most? The little people.

Ironically, there is no synonym for "crosswords" (670)
Posted 05.05.09
ROSS MURRAY

They say that crossword puzzles are good for the brain. They maintain cerebral elasticity, improve memory, and sustain mental abilities that decline with age, such as... things I can't remember right now.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Hey, I know it goes vroom (670)
Posted 04.27.09
ROSS MURRAY

I love holes. When I worked at the local newspaper, fewer things gave me more pleasure than killing time at the edge of a trench cut deep into the pavement as town workers struggled to patch a problem. There's a certain fascination about what lies beneath, especially when, with one wrong swing of a shovel, some kind of utility line could be pierced and God knows what kind of gushage might occur.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Junk the Junkers
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
I think that the United States needs some new thinking about the auto industry and the economy. Despite all the talk, I hear no new ideas.Germany for example, has a program to take older cars, junkers, off the road.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Cutting a rose or making bad smells (615)
Posted 04.19.09
ROSS MURRAY

When you're traveling with kids and a dog for an extended period, as we were recently, and it's too cold to roll down the windows, you can expect the air to get a little, well, ripe. Pungent. In a word, farty.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Serious injuries at April Fool's Day festivities (635)
Posted 04.06.09
ROSS MURRAY

MONTREAL (Rooters) | Hundreds were injured and scores more were considerably put out recently during one of the most violent and discombobulating April Fool's Days in recent memory. While no deaths were reported, there were countless incidents of people in stitches, and even more cases of split sides.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Science Fair: Home Edition
Posted 03.31.09
ROSS MURRAY

Hypothesis: Lying will set your pants on fire. This is due to the chemical effects of stress, friction, volatile untruth, and vicious taunting.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The rots of spring (334)
Posted 03.24.09
ROSS MURRAY

Spring. Say it with me: it's spring, yes it is.
The sun's beating down, giving winter the biz.
On lawns are the remnants of past snowstorms' snow forts,
Which people pass by wearing premature sport shorts.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Something is wrong with the economy. Seriously.
Posted 03.16.09
ROSS MURRAY

I went shopping Sunday. Part of me expected a ghost town -- empty storefronts, tumbleweeds, salespeople skeletons slumped over Subarus, the walking dead at Wal-Mart. After all, we're living in austere times. We should be shopping only for necessities, like food, clothing, Sleeman's Silver Creek.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

ON BLOWING MY BRAINS OUT, DAILY
Posted 03.12.09
JOHN MAHONEY

Earlier this year I tried to reconnect with my inner flute. It felt so good I began to do it every day.

Three short snappers
Posted 03.09.09
ROSS MURRAY

I failed in business and I know why: it's because I don't follow sports. If I followed sports, I'd know the jargon, the lingo, the secret handshakes of sport-speak, the sole purpose of which is to give the impression you know what you're talking about.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Stock Losers 2009
Posted 02.27.09
ROSS MURRAY

You may recall that during the Dirty Thirties, when the population was out of work, and prospects looked bleak, and global conflict appeared imminent, people turned to Hollywood musicals for relief: Anything Goes, The Gay Divorcé, Gold Diggers of 1935...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The Academy Awards, brought to you by Milk-Bones
Posted 02.20.09
ROSS MURRAY

Two years ago, my daughter Abby took over this column in order to predict the major Oscar winners. It was a bit of a washout, not least because her pick for Best Picture was Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

There ought to be a (new) law
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
I suggest that we pass a law that says that no executive of any publicly traded company can earn more than three times the salary of the President of the United States. Can anyone make the case that their job is harder?
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Musical questions answered: love edition (640)
Posted 02.15.09
ROSS MURRAY

Over the years, various legislations have been introduced to discourage fools from falling in love. Britain's Moron Matrimony Act of 1873, for example, imposed a five-year waiting period on fools seeking marriage licenses, the idea being that in the interim the fools would become distracted by other matters, such as mumbling to themselves, walking around in oversized shoes, and entering politics.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The joys of Canadian winter sliding or, Remembering my Frozennutterizer (714)
Posted 02.10.09
ROSS MURRAY

I'm old enough to remember the transition from the traditional wooden toboggan to the ultimate sliding innovation: the Krazy Karpet. Whoever invented the Krazy Karpet was a mad genius.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

GET IT DONE (445)
The Republicans, based upon the statements of the members of the House, are singing the same old song -- tax cuts and especially to the rich. And when they didn't get their way, the decided not to play.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

LOOK AT THE HEAD ON THAT ONE!
Posted 02.02.09
ROSS MURRAY

"I spent the weekend fathoming the underlying constructs of Kierkegaard's theories on the subjectivity of faith and truth and inadvertently discovered who put the bomp in the bomp-shu-bomp-shu-bomp."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Running with empties, or 100 bottles of beer in the van
Posted 01.27.09
ROSS MURRAY

Now, here's a parental rite of passage I never thought I'd experience: carting my teenage daughter's empties back to the grocery store. And not just a case or two but a full shopping cart. "They're not even mine," she said as we loaded up the van outside her apartment. "My friends brought them over."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at Ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Picking It Up
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
Martin Luther King day, a national holiday celebrated in all fifty states is becoming recognized as a day for community service. In that spirit, Kathy and I started on our morning walk with two plastic grocery bags each, in which to store litter picked up along the bike path.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Zionazis (500 words)
PUTNEY, VT | At this writing, on Martin Luther King Day, I am elated that a black American is about to be inaugurated as my President. Obama's approval ratings have skyrocketed due to the appalling mess left behind by the Bush administration. That said, it is a testament to Americans that they can look past color and vote for the man. Martin Luther King would have been pleased that we indeed voted for "the content of his character" rather than "the color of his skin."
Jim Austin locks and loads in Putney, Vermont.

Puck in the head? That explains a lot.
Posted 01.16.09
ROSS MURRAY

The thing is, when you're looking through the lens of a camera, especially a zoom lens, distance is distorted. By the time my brain registered "Hey, what's that object heading towards my camera," it was already inches away. Sadly, I didn't press the shutter at that moment, which would have made a pretty cool picture.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Family game night: the rules
Posted 01.09.09
ROSS MURRAY

The object is to play a board game together as a family without losing one's temper or sanity. There are two ways to set up the game. The first is to remove all the pieces from the box and begin play immediately based on an approximate knowledge of the rules. The second way is to delay play while a player insists on reading the rules for everyone to hear.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Johnny, I'll see you when I see you (475)
Johnny and I go way back. We started this journey together in the Great Depression, in the autumn of 1935. Our mothers used to walk us in our prams, most likely to keep us quiet, and to keep their sanity.
John Mahoney edits the LCC from Cobden, Ontario.

A contagion on the land (800 words)
PUTNEY, VT | Eight years of the Bush administration has promulgated a contagion on our land that won't soon be excised. Thanks to the voters the Republican right wing has been, by virtue of self-interest and manifest corruption, forced to crawl back under the stinking rock from whence it came. It will no doubt fester in the darkness, gathering simpleton adherents until their numbers once again tip the scales in favor of evil. Other than that, they have done pretty well.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Eat like Obama in 2009(780)
I'm happy to see a decline in a trend that I never quite understood. Nouveau Beaujolais is on the way out and Quebecers have finally realized that it tastes just like it sounds.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Santa's bad night before Christmas
Posted 12.24.08
ROSS MURRAY

The snow that had fallen from noon until now
Was piled on my Oldsmobile, thanks to the plow.
When, what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But Santa Claus casually swilling a beer.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Christmas is coming: remain calm
Posted 12.19.08
ROSS MURRAY

As you read this, Christmas is a week away. In other words: "AAAAAGH!!!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

More than 100,000 see video *capture* of Baby Memphe on YouTube (430)
More than 100,000 fans have logged on to YouTube and LogCabinTV.com to watch Babe Lake Monster Captured, a short video that purportedly documents the netting and examination of a baby Memphre.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

What's the logic here?
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
Let me see if I have this rig -- The Senate Republicans want guys on the assembly line making less than $60,000 per year to agree to wage cuts before the government will loan the companies they work for some $14 billion.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Beeramax Pictures presents...
Posted 12.12.08
ROSS MURRAY

I read last week that certain Cineplex Theatres will start selling beer and wine during screenings. Traditionally, the home-video industry has tried to emulate the thrills of the theatre experience -- wide-screen TVs, stereo sound, high-test lubricant on popcorn. Now it seems theatres are trying to copy the swills of the home-viewing experience. Admit it: who doesn't enjoy a glass of wine or a beer with their DVD (or, in the case of a Steven Segal feature, a six pack or two)?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Look to the skies, for heaven's sake!(650)
Posted 12.07.08
ROSS MURRAY

You know what's more exciting than geometry? Space geometry! It really is, especially if you say it out loud in a deep, sonorous voice: "SPACE GEOMETRY!" Go ahead, try it. I'll wait...fun, eh?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Does the English Community in Quebec exist: an inquiry
The English Community Search Party first met on October 16 to facilitate an action plan that would foment a thorough understanding of the Eastern Townships English community -- who were they, what were they and, most important, where were they? And if the English community did in fact exist, would they be able to explain to us what "foment" means?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Sleepless In Montreal(500)
My internal clock is way off kilter and I wake suddenly each night at precisely 3:18 AM. Not 3:19 or 3:17, but at 3:18 exactly and repeatedly three nights (or mornings) in a row. This should be a movie, I think blurrily.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Oh my darling, oh my darling...(640)
Posted 11.21.08
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QC | I do believe in the Citrus Fairy. I do! I do! Wait. Let me start that again, from the beginning: I pack my youngest daughter's lunch every morning. At the end of the school day, I check the lunchbox to see what's been eaten, what's salvageable, and what's unrecognizable. About two weeks ago, a clementine appeared in Abby's lunchbox. The only thing is, I didn't put it there.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Whither Detroit: To bail or not to bail, that is the question
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
Everyone seems to be down on the American car industry. The industry is to blame for making cars that no one wants to buy, etc. etc. Until last spring, everyone seemed to want large pickups and SUVs (categorized as Light Trucks). Yes, I know about the Prius, which sold about 45,000 units in the first quarter of 2008. However, light trucks sold 7.8 million units during that time. The first quarter also saw sales of five million domestic and 2.4 million imported automobiles.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

In Quebec, I do declare!(640)
Posted 11.09.08
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QC | In keeping with the Quebec government's new policy requiring immigrants to sign a mandatory declaration stating they will commit to learning French and respecting the province's common values, we, the people of Quebec, hereby request that political candidates sign the following mandatory declaration...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

From abomination to Obama-nation (770 words)
PUTNEY, VT | Arrest Bush, Cheney, Bolton, Gonzalez, and Ryan Seacrest. Sail them all down to Guantanamo and waterboard the bejabers out of all of them until they admit that waterboarding is torture. Seacrest probably doesn't deserve this but anyone who describes himself as a "celebrity wrangler" should be tortured in some fashion. Maybe make him read a book by Thomas Hardy.
Jim Austin locks and loads in Putney, Vermont.

What's in a name? Four years of fun!(690)
Posted 11.09.08
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QC | I am misty-eyed with pride and admiration for our American neighbours. Many thought we'd never see this day, the day when the United States would show true resolve for change, the day when they would resurrect the frontier spirit. The day when they would elect a president with a funny sounding name.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Election 2008
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
Kathy and I arrived at our polling place. There were already about 30 people in line ahead of us. As we waited for the polls to open at 6 a.m., about 100 more people arrived. The crowd was very unusual at our polling place -- usually we arrive about 6 and there are maybe five people waiting.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

For Halloween: A pair of putrid parables(710)
Posted 10.31.08
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QC | A mild tremor rumbled beneath the Funky Dreadlock Centre for Childhood Exploration. It wasn't strong enough to disturb the children's self-discovery on the possibilities of what 3 plus 4 might add up to. But it was strong enough to awaken something. Something evil.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Sometimes.(680)
Posted 10.24.08
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QC | I don't think Abby's ever met a waitress she hasn't liked. But then, they bring her fries, so what's not to like?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Gnawty puppy onboard
Posted 10.19.08
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QC | My plan to infiltrate the Family has been as brilliant and precise as anticipated. My only concern is the Man. He arrived home to discover that the Family had taken me into their possession. Appears distant, standoffish, vaguely hostile.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Can somebody say grace?(470)
STANSTEAD, QC | Let us pray: Thanks for the turkey, thanks for the mussels,
Thanks for the sprouts that came from Brussels,
Thanks for the peas, the corn, the spuds,
Thanks for the beer, both Coors and Buds.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

'That' old house(640)
STANSTEAD, QC | Then there was the matter of what colour to choose. We kept talking about taupe. The problem is no one really knows what taupe is. It's actually just a word people throw out to make it seem like they know something about colour.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Still putting the "work" in "homework"(690)
STANSTEAD, QC | Put the laptop away, it's time for homework. No, I doubt very much that your homework involves playing N-Game. Sighing doesn't help, you know. Neither does rolling your eyes.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

A pear a day keeps the apples away(480)
Apples are great of course, but so are our local pears. Friends who have a bumper crop in their established backyard recently gave me a large bag of Pyrus Communis. Of course I had to devise a way to put them to good use beyond the toothy and juicy succulence of eating them au natural.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Eat, drink, have hot dog(710)
STANSTEAD, QC | Take, for example, ads currently running in the US by a group called the Cancer Project. Over images of kids eating hot dogs and other processed meats, you hear a young boy say, "I was dumbfounded when the doctor told me I had late-stage colon cancer." The boy, of course, is an actor, and the shock ad is based on a study indicating that if you eat fifty grams of processed meat a day for several years, your chances of getting colorectal cancer increase by twenty-one percent. That's equal to a hot dog a day every day for something like nineteen years.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Canada vs. US: Let's put it to a vote(640)
STANSTEAD, QC | Election fever. Can you feel it? It's like most fevers: accompanied by nausea, disorientation, and an overwhelming sense of doom. As happens from time to time, Canada and the United States have election campaigns going on at the same time. So, grab your mug of hot tea and a couple of Advils and let's compare the two, shall we?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Blame Homeland Security (690)
STANSTEAD, QC | When you think about it, it's a bit unusual to encounter more than one armed individual when you're going camping. Normally, we'd expect one: the border guard on our way to Brighton State Park in Island Pond, Vermont. You never know how that encounter's going to go. You could face the dour, rubber-glove-at-the-ready Customs officer or it could be the chatty officer whose easygoing ways lull you into letting it slip about smuggling all that citrus fruit.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

When wearing a suit is not OK(570)
All of the stops were pulled out at the event to entice green-haired, pierced lip, ripped-jean wearing advertising agency kids to consider community newspapers in their campaign planning and advertising placement. The booze and eats flowed and hip hop blared via a DJ.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

In Canada: The Harper-Dion E-mails(700)
STANSTEAD, QC | Prime Minister Stephen Harper has purportedly been trying to meet with Liberal leader Stéphane Dion to discuss whether the latter will continue to support the minority government. To date, Dion has declined. Here, for the first time, is a transcript of their e-mailed correspondence:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

My fair memories(700)
STANSTEAD, QC | I still remember my first Ayer's Cliff Fair. It was the height of the Great Depression, 1934, and I was a mere lad of nine...I ate my first deep-fried parsnip that day, saw my first bric-a-brac. Or maybe it was a gewgaw. It's all a blur. All I know is that I went home that night with a head full of memories and a shoe full of cow drool.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Bye-Bye Parents(665)
Dropped the first born off at her college dorm last weekend amidst a flurry of worried parents and their own offloading (or is that freeloading?) offspring. I observed more than one commonality as we navigated the throng on moving day. Dads with grey hair and Moms with teary cheeks was just one. Which of the aging sexes worried most was not entirely discernable. Fathers furrowed their brows and gave the evil eye to frosh football player types while Mothers eyed the same, but employed a different mannerism. More like the up and down eye scan all women of a certain age use when checking out the opposite sex.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

And it wasn't that good(600)
STANSTEAD, QC | Many clichés about Canada are a bit of a stretch. Take the one about a Canadian being someone who can make love in a canoe. Don't think so. More like someone who can make lunch in a canoe.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Are you in the zone?(690)
STANSTEAD, QC | The comfort zone is a natural state -- like Idaho. Look around you. Look at the trees. Trees are trees. You don't see trees deciding to play the violin, right? They stay in their comfort zone. You know what happens to animals that step outside their comfort zone? They get eaten.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The gravity of the situation(725)
STANSTEAD, QC | The air at 4000 metres apparently tastes like the ocean. Or at least it does when you're hurtling through it at 200 km/h and you've got your mouth open, even though the instructor advised you to keep it closed.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Wanna see something really scary?(700)
STANSTEAD, QC | Are you as excited as I am? A slasher flick shooting right here in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. And it's called Bikini Girls on Ice. With a title like that, who wouldn't be excited? I mean, who doesn't like ice?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

So, how do we save on energy costs?
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
Here is the problem: George Bush and Company took Iraq's oil off the world market just at the time that demand was rising. (Law: when demand rises and supply does not, prices do.) To make matters worse, they introduced a lot of uncertainty into the market. (Law: uncertainty in market equals risk and risk equals rising prices.) So, what is the solution for the US of A?
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Everybody's gotta have a laugh (630)
MONTREAL | Kris Kristofferson once said about the folksinger Ramblin' Jack Elliot that he wasn't called Ramblin' Jack because he traveled a lot; he was called Ramblin' Jack because of the way he talked. So to take a page out of Ramblin' Jack's book, I'd like to ramble some thoughts about comedy.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Give Sir Paul, peace, and margarine a chance (760 words)
Where there will be gate crashing and line-ups will be in Quebec City today as Sir Paul McCartney plays a free concert on the Plains of Abraham to celebrate Quebec's 400th anniversary.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

There was burnin', burnin', to satisfy my yearnin'...(740)
STANSTEAD, QC | Among our many modern quirks is our longing for vast backyards that we never actually set foot on. We build decks off our homes overlooking the grass, or we tear up a chunk of lawn and build small platforms to put our chairs on. We like to be with nature, just not touch it. One thing you can't do on your deck (or at very least it's ill-advised) is have a campfire. For a campfire, you need to venture onto the lawn. It's a case where our aversion to cooties is overwhelmed by our desire to burn stuff.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

New digs, old folks, and stitches(640)
STANSTEAD, QC | When my eldest daughter signed her apartment lease this past spring, the idea of her actually moving out was still an abstract concept. After all, she wasn't yet 17, and 16 years old just seemed too young to hold a lease. You shouldn't be allowed to sign a legal document if you have angst.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Dig that weed -- if you can(640)
STANSTEAD, QC | A common curse from 16th century Spain went as follows: "May your salads be nothing but goutweed and be served by a loose woman of Toledo with hairy arms and the breath of anchovies." Naturally, it sounds better in the original Spanish.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

You want cheap beer, buy in Quebec(700)
STANSTEAD, QC | Labatt is clearly still making a profit in Quebec, otherwise why would they bother? It's not like "cheap beer" is in the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms (though the right to buy it in grocery stores is). Labatt must therefore be making a huge profit in Ontario.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Time for the gas bubble to burst (615)
MONTREAL | The Leno joke goes like this. Scientists have discovered the largest number in the Universe. And they did it without using a computer. They did it by using a gas pump and a Cadillac Escalade.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Copy that. Not.(670)
STANSTEAD, QC | I agree and accept that the Canadian government should willfully interfere with its citizens' consumer purchases in its unabashed efforts to pander to the American entertainment mega-industry. I am ready and willing to accept whatever invasion of privacy or fines come my way."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

English Like Me (700)
MONTREAL | Even though the English language is a key to open the door into the international business community and the rest of North America, Law 101 doggedly insists that the English language is the enemy of Quebec, and by definition those who practice it -- Quebec's unilingual anglophones.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Cyclist in training(690)
STANSTEAD, QC | The bicycle is life's first major leap of faith. Walking doesn't count because you're too young to think "Holy smokes! I'm going to fall on my adorable face!" But to believe that you can actually balance and move forward on two wheels, that's something. Even though you see others doing it, a tiny logical part of your five-year-old self says, "Come on, it's gotta be some kind of trick."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The Crisis Crisis (620)
MONTREAL | A neighbor of mine believes that global warming is caused by the absence of pirates. Since there are not many pirates left in the world and pirates are coolā the world is warming.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Your 2008 Summer Vacation(690)
STANSTEAD, QC | With the cost of gasoline almost as expensive as a baby on eBay, the smart vacationer should consider sticking close to home this summer. Thankfully, Quebec's Eastern Townships are chock-a-block full of festivals and fairs to make your summer truly summer-ific!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I'd put my foot down but I might squash a cat(690)
STANSTEAD, QC | As I enjoyed those bark-free, pawprint-less, non-poop-pickup days, I did my best to persuade my family that getting another dog at this time wouldn't be the best idea. My argument went something like this: "Please, God, no!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Can't beat 'em? Eat 'em. (575 words)
I just have to mention our dreaded dandelions (dents de lion, jagged leaves resembling a lions tooth), otherwise known as Pissenlits au Quebec. Translation? Piss-in-the-beds in English, or Piss-a-beds in Newfoundland, on account of their diuretic effect when eaten by French and English alike.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Spring ferns are to eat, eh?(680)
STANSTEAD, QC | "Health Canada warns that fiddleheads may contain toxins and are all-around nasty little vegetables that you'd be a fool to ingest. They've been known to cause gastroenteritis, bleeding of the gums, sterility in mice, and the bitter collapse of your most cherished dreams."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Barbeque Choices(680)
STANSTEAD, QC | Once again, I find myself in the market for a new barbecue. And what a market. So many grills, so much shiny metal. If you're a barbecue lover, it's like being a kid in a candy store, except instead of candy there's charred animal parts.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Radiation 'threat' sets off US Border alarms (1400 words)
Orleans County freelance photographer Gordon Alexander recently found out what happens when someone who underwent a cardiac nuclear medicine scan crosses the border before the radioisotope has completely decayed.
By Robin Smith/Caledonian Record

The glories of rhubarb marinade (400 words)
As humans, we spend a lot of time filling up. Long gone are the days of foraging for wood and chasing wild antelope on the plains for daily sustenance and warmth. Homo Sapiens ancient giant leap from hunter-gatherer to agriculturist has proven that while we might walk upright, we have learned little. Oh, we gather and hunt for survival all right, but now we gather and hunt for money most days. We grow corn and soy and rice and beef -- all for money and fuel. Farmers do it and governments subsidize it. It's a sad state we're in with a real global food and fuel crisis looming, causing civil unrest in many food- producing countries.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Rugby explained(750)
STANSTEAD, QC | Rugby is an unfamiliar game to many North Americans. That's because it was invented in 732 A.D. by the Picts who were wiped out as result of major head trauma before they could chisel the rules into the side of a cliff.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Canada's dirty little secret? (660)
MONTREAL | The other day I was listening to an ad on a station beamed across the border from Vermont. It was the country music station from Malone, New York. The ad, for the Mohawk Casino, was completely bilingual. It started in French and finished in English. I realized that even though I live in Montreal, a supposed bilingual city, hearing this mix of the two tongues on the air was a shock.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

You don't know Doodly, eh?(700)
STANSTEAD, QC | YAAAAAH! Can you feel it? Can you smell it? That's the smell of victory! And burning rubber! I am so excited that my team is so close to ultimate triumph. This week's series win puts us that much closer. And now we've got the momentum. The Doodly Cup is within our grasp!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Fishing with Shorty or, The Really Big One That Got Away (1160 words)
PUTNEY, VT | While you Vermonters were cursing the day you ever moved to, or originated in, Vermont I was traveling to Nicaragua in search of the mighty tarpon. My son Shorty, the fruit of the sainted union between myself and my tempestuous flower Ruth, had been spending the past three months in Ocatal, Nicaragua. The lad had decided that Spanish fluency was the key to landing an ambassadorship in some espanolish country. He found a total immersion outfit on the net and off he went.
Jim Austin locks and loads in Putney, Vermont.

Protect our Caninternet(710)
Congratulations on blocking the sale of one of Canada's aerospace companies to a US firm. No really, I mean it. I know we've had our differences in the past (admittedly, I went too far with my musical, Stephen Harper Hates Everyone, Even His Mother, and Has Stubby Fingers to Boot). But putting Canada's sovereignty ahead of global market pressures was fantastic, positively protectionist. Why, it was almost liberal of you!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Follow the (lobbying) money
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
It's probably just a coincidence that since George Bush became President, lobbying expenditures have almost doubled from $1.5 billion to $2.8 billion last year.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

The Bridge of Sighs(730)
As a barometer of inner peace and contentment, it probably doesn't bode well that I've become a sigher. Sighing has become my preferred reaction to the world as it unfolds around me. Or at me.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The silence of my lamb(700)
One of the perks of having athletic children is that other parents automatically assume that I'm at least partly responsible. If the subject comes up, I'll usually say something like, "Yup, taught them everything they know." In my head, I'm saying it sarcastically. Just because it sounds to the listener like I'm serious, well, that's their problem, not mine.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Blowjob Bill, Mission-accomplished George, and their miserable, embarrassing, continuing failures (350)
Oh, that's so harsh, Johnny boy. Whatever are you saying?
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Our Gallivanting Gourmand returns from Down There, tanned and plump as a beer butt chicken (975 words)
Heck, in Florida they are almost giving away fast food, I kid you not. In fact, if you are a resident, the US postal service delivers an appetizing array of culinary offers each morning, thereby eliminating the need to cook real food.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

April Fool's Day or Poisson d'Avril Š your choice but it's happening today, eh?(540)
I'm very much a traditionalist when it comes to holidays. I like turkey at Christmas, alcohol poisoning on St. Patrick's Day, and vague political tension on Canada Day. That being said, I completely support the Bush administration's decision to hold April Fool's Day on March 28 this year in an effort to save the floundering economy and foundering flounders. Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

More sex please. We're Quebeckers, non?(660)
I read this week about your plan to boost Quebec's population by encouraging Quebecers to have more babies, getting ex-Quebecers to return to the province, and immigrants... well, immigrants not so much. With all due respect, I wonder if you've fully thought this plan through. Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Would you like a growth fund? Yeth, I would.(660)
If you're like me (and if so, there's hope by calling 1-800-YU-LOSER), you probably just loaded up on RRSPs to gain some relief on your income tax. And it's also quite possible your RRSPs were in the form of mutual funds, also known as Investing for Dummies. Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Two rants, no waiting (1030 words)
PUTNEY, VT | This country has been governed by idiots for the past seven plus years. If they are the best of our country's citizenry I can almost agree with Kansas that evolution is a myth. When Bush stands in front of a press conference arms slightly forward with jutting jaw and brow, doesn't he look like he's about to drop to his knuckles and charge the press like a silverback gorilla?

Jim Austin locks and loads in Putney, Vermont.

Aping PM Harper, Canada's MPs will sue you, dude(690)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's threatened lawsuit against top Liberals appears to have inspired other parliamentary lawsuits, with MPs suing MPs, ordinary citizens, celebrities, and, in one instance, a Pomeranian named Theo.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The LCC enters 13th year on_line (380)
And what a strange dozen years it has been.
John Mahoney edits this cyber rag.

The in-and-out year(580)
March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Science is at a loss to explain this phenomenon, given that the two animals are from entirely different species (lion being of the species Panthera leo and lamb being of the species Ovis cuddlius). The transformation from vicious predator to infant ruminant in the space of thirty-one days defies evolutionary logic, not to mention chronology. Promoters of intelligent design point to this swift mammalian shift as evidence of God and/or Steven Spielberg.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Wither Newspaperdom? (560 words)
Either way, our English daily The Gazette seems to take a middle road on most language issues. This most likely caters to the apparent similar position of most Anglophones in the flock. If something is simmering here, we just leave it at the back of the stove and hope it doesn't boil over.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

And the Oscar for worst jokes goes to...(750)
With the US writers' strike over, this weekend's Academy Awards broadcast will go ahead. Another domestic crisis averted. Unfortunately, this mean's I'm out of a gig. I'd volunteered to scab for the event as head writer and (the deal-clincher) as host. Now the world will never know the full splendour of my show. I can only give you a brief glimpse of what might have been...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Did someone say, "I love you"?(790)
Last weekend, I saw a clothing store display that read, "Say 'I Love You' A Thousand Ways..." Let's see: socks, underwear, shirts, sweaters... There's no way that can make it to a thousand, unless you start breaking it down by fabric and colour. Unless, of course, they weren't speaking in commercial terms but generally a thousand ways to say "I love you." Still a stretch, but I think I can come up with fifty:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Did someone say, "I love you"?(790)
Last weekend, I saw a clothing store display that read, "Say 'I Love You' A Thousand Ways..." Let's see: socks, underwear, shirts, sweaters... There's no way that can make it to a thousand, unless you start breaking it down by fabric and colour. Unless, of course, they weren't speaking in commercial terms but generally a thousand ways to say "I love you." Still a stretch, but I think I can come up with fifty:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Go, girl! (No, seriously, it's your turn.)(760)
For instance, when you sit on the floor with your six-year-old to play a board game called Dream Star, as I did last Sunday, there's no way to avoid, at least temporarily, taking the girly role. Because Dream Star is a girly, girly game.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

A letter from His Worshipfulness, the Mayor(760)
First of all, I would like to wish everyone a Happy 2008. I realize my wishes come a month late but we had to delay printing this Newsletter because it has taken since the Christmas party to untangle the thong from the photocopier. Incidentally, for those of you who've asked, our Receptionist Mrs. Churnhelm should be out of traction soon.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Sugar coating Quebec's latest bilk job (600 words)
It is a privilege living here in Quebec, what with the advantage of paying the highest taxes on the continent, our wonderfully safe road infrastructure, our tolerant language freedoms and warm weather. To add to our Joie de Vivre we were delivered a gift yesterday to signify our special status as a nation within a nation. Recently, the price of milk in Quebec rose 4.6 cents a liter and allows us to pay forty percent more than what others pay in Canada.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Energy use Š the moral equivalent of war?
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
Per person in the US of A, we each use the equivalent of 64 barrels of oil each year or 114,000 kilowatt hours (KWHr) of electricity. Swedes and Germans use a lot less energy per person -- 44 and 32 barrels, respectively.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Tragedy tomorrow, squirmedy tonight(700)
This column is satellite 6! Yeah, that's right, "satellite 6." It means outstanding, out of this world, way out, even wayer out than satellite 5. Use this expression often. Impress your friends. Or possibly confuse them. Either way, they'll be overwhelmed by how unbearably hip you are. Or possibly just how unbearable.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

You gotta love it
Posted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
Well, we have the politicians and the Federal Reserve worrying about a recession and lots of people are defaulting on their loans, and Bear Stearns and Bank of America are going to the Arab states for money to prop up their finances and some of the loan companies are going bankrupt.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

McJungle Book: The Legend of McBoy(700)
No one knows for sure where the McBoy came from, this feral child under the golden arches. Some say he was abandoned by a couple who met at McDonald's, dated there and, uncomfortably for them and those in line, conceived a child at a Drive-Thru while waiting for their Filet-O-Fish. Some say he was even born there. The delivery, not surprisingly, was fast.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

About this warPosted 07.12.09
FRANK BERNHEISEL
We have at least twelve candidates trying to be the next President and not one, except Ron Paul, is saying anything definite about the war. It must be the good news. However, the situation reminds me of Nixon campaigning to be president in 1968; he had a plan to end the war in Vietnam. The Vietnam war ran on until 1975.
Frank Bernheisel writes from the Washington DC region.

Reliving Quebec's "Ice" Storm of 1998 (700)
A part of me feels we missed out on a great adventure, something we could tell our grandkids and radio phone-in shows. But then I remember that people suffered terribly, died even. I then feel blessed. And a bit of a jerk.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

An incovenient winter (600)
MONTREAL | There is a new McDonald's ad campaign using the slogan: "Cold is the new hot." They are trying to sell us a new cold drink. In the ad they pretend they are tired of people saying everything's "hot." So they want to replace that superlative with "cold." Thus: "Cold is the new hot."
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

If you want them to like The Beatles, let it be (700)
You can't, you see, just force your music on your kids, no matter how clearly superior it is to their tripe. I was, reminded this not long ago when the family went bowling and my son put two dollars worth of quarters into the jukebox and selected all Nickelback songs. Yes, I know they're Canadian, hooray, but blech. I mean, clear your throat, for God's sake.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Food Rant to start the year off right (600 words)
We have become accustomed to buying cheap imported foods and produce all through the year and we cringe when the price of bananas goes over 29 cents per pound. We want a loaf of bread for a dollar and lettuce for 79 cents. In fact, we want everything for under a dollar.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The year from the rear (690)
Well, hey there, thanks for sticking with me through 2007. Gosh, where did those 365 days go? No, seriously, where did they go? What happens to time once it's in the past? Does it continue to exist? But, heck, such questions are too profound for the end of December. Instead, it's a time of reflection, a chance to review the year that was.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Shooting blanks from the Christmas canon (695)
Everybody loves the Christmas classics: "Hark the Herald," "White Christmas," "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." But surely there are other songs that radio stations can play seven times a day.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

A 21st century Christmas (595)
MONTREAL | I am going to give my son an educational toy to help teach him about life -- no matter how you put it together, it will be wrong. I also bought him a book. I am sure he will spend the next two days looking for where the batteries go. He thinks that at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Duracell.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Got game? "Dribbling" is not the same as "drooling" (695)
There's a reason why I've never signed my kids up for hockey. Besides receiving regular thumpings by hockey players as a child, that is. The reason is the 8 a.m. game. But last weekend I found myself shotgunning coffee before racing across the border to Newport, Vermont, for an 8 o'clock basketball game. Fortunately, this was a game involving 6- and 7-year-olds, so at least the day started with a laugh.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Red licorice, Black Babies, and Zout (660 words)
I haven't lost a tooth to licorice yet, unlike the editor of this site. I've suffered the root canal and been subject to annual warnings that an $1800 crown is absolutely necessary but I'm into at least my tenth year without this feature. Call me lucky as I've devoured more licorice than a defiant Dutch schoolboy.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

I'm Ross Murray and I approve this immigration column (730)
An open letter to would-be illegal U.S. immigrants (and smugglers thereof)
First of all, thank you for choosing Stanstead, Quebec, for all your border-hopping needs. Specifically, thank you (most of you, anyway) for choosing the woods around Stanstead to smuggle yourselves and/or your paying customers into the United States. This is as opposed to simply walking across one of the unguarded streets that connect Stanstead with Vermont.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

All you need to know about digital photography, and then some (700)
After months of research and some unseemly groveling, my employers recently gave me the go-ahead to purchase a new digital camera. It's a great asset for our department. The fact that I sometimes refer to it as "my camera" or occasionally as "my precious..." is purely accidental and without any significance whatsoever.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Turning Canadian guilt into good times (575)
MONTREAL | I get the feeling, perhaps you do too, that something big is happening. It's our dollar. It's getting big! And we are getting bigger along with it.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Malcolm Stone: What a character (750)
STANSTEAD EAST, QC | It was Malcolm who introduced me to Calvin Trillin, Roy Blount Jr., Bob Dorough, "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" and sour tomatoes. He taught me that "pipik" is Yiddish for "belly button" and that there are cheap laughs to be had in teaching kids to say, "Do you want to see my pipik?" He showed me that you could get by in life without functioning plumbing. Mostly, though, Malcolm showed me that small-town journalism could soar if you cared about clarity, that obsessing over hyphens paid off, that irreverence could be a powerful weapon, and that if you use the word "challenge" (as in, "the mayor said there were many challenges ahead for council") you deserve to be mercilessly mocked. Lewd gestures might be involved.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Torture American Style (955 words)
PUTNEY, VT | Attaching electrodes to the genitalia or driving burning bamboo splints under the fingernails is all well and good but, in these days of runaway litigation by victims and nosey prying by the international press, we need a method that doesn't leave marks.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

O Canada! Canadians need to be, you know, more American, eh? (740)
Can you feel it? Can you feel the pride? Can you sense the pan-Canadian swagger as we enjoy our new status as an economic powerhouse? Can't you just feel all those years of doubt and insecurity melting away?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Press #1 in Quebec for intolerance and unreasonable accommodation (800 words)
For those that don't know, and trust me as an Anglo Quebecer I do, it's been rough on the English and Ethnics lately and winter has not yet begun. The hunting season is in full swing with Quebec Anglophone and Allophones being the prey of choice. We continue to be targeted by francophone language zealots at the highest levels.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Don't mess with debaters (750)
Some people have the Gift of the Gab, I have the Unwanted Fruitcake of Awkward Conversation. You have a Silver Tongue. I have Tinfoil Tonsils.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Death by 'Booga booga' -- Quebec's tribal drums are beating (575)
MONTREAL | Tribal drums are beating all over Quebec. Can you hear them? The natives are restless. They are covered with blue and white war paint. They dance around the raging fires of nationalism. And on the fire is a large pot. Inside the pot are two victims, an Allophone and an Anglophone.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

An Abundance of Bores (1100 words)
PUTNEY, VT | In my last thrilling appearance in the LCC, I submitted the list of Republican Candidates for President and rated their chances of obtaining the nomination based on several factors. I used their shiftiness, weaselry, money-grubbing, religious fanaticism, cover-up and suppression talents, and all around scum-sucking douchebaggery. In short, all the things that make Republicans Republican. This month we will have a look at the Democratic nominees. This is not an easy task, neither is analyzing swollen raisins in a bowl of tepid pablum. However, I shall try.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

(680)
Scuttling in the dark playing laser tag this past weekend, two things occurred to me: One, that shooting at people surely violates my stand on guns and violence; and two, when the zombie uprising occurs, I won't be of much help.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

New York, Oh, New York (950 words)
Brochures rarely mention that friendly six-foot transvestites sporting pink-ribboned pigtails will assist you with directions from Penn station to any restaurant you have in mind. Every itinerant asking for money in Times Square claims to be a veteran on the down and out, having been abandoned by the state. I suspect this may be true for most.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Halloween Tale-O-Rama (730)
Come, my unwashed little ones, gather your dank selves round me and I shall share a haunting tale of spectral beings and boogety-boogeties. I said come round, my little germ farms. Come here, I said! Don't make me hobble over there!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Double dipping in and by the city (650)
MONTREAL | Perhaps you have noticed that parking here is becoming more difficult all the time. It seems that our city government seems to want to make it more and more expensive and annoying to shop and entertain downtown. For instance, many meters only give you two hours for six dollars. But you cannot see a movie in two hours.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Are you there, Al? It's me, Ross. (720)
First of all, congratulations on your Nobel Peace Prize. I hope this prestigious honour won't distract you from your crusade against global warming. In fact, I have a great title for your next book/movie: How about Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just Me?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Premier Duceppe and the partition of Quebec (635)
MONTREAL | This has always been the Achilles heel of Quebec separatists. They see themselves as a pure, homogenous, and unilingual nation inhabiting a single territory called Quebec. So non-francophones within this territory have to be regulated, assimilated, or declared not to exist.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Driving lesson #1: Get a grip (670)
We've pretty much all agreed that I won't teach the kids how to drive. There would be too much yelling, too great a risk of stroke. It would end in tears, probably mine.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

How I ate Skippy or, simmered and well poached our Gallivanting Gourmand dines a la Down Under (825 words)
We enjoyed an hour or so of sipping Aussie Pinot Noir in an Italian landscape outdoors and then were ushered to Au Coin du Feu to sample the wines and foods of Australia. Rosemount Estate wines in particular, with parings and matching over five courses.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

School advice for my youngest daughter (540)
Your teacher doesn't actually live at school. There may come a point when you will be out somewhere, maybe a mall, and you'll see your teacher out among the general population like a Real Person. This will come to you as a bit of a shock. But it's true.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Will they be happy watching wattles? (720)
I actually had no clue what I planned to do with my life, short of go to university for the next three to four years, possibly longer depending on the meal plan. Nor was university part of a long-term goal. I simply wanted to study literature for literature's sake. And meet girls.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The uncomfortable sanctification of Ernie (660)
MONTREAL | There was a moment at the beginning of the reception following Ernie Butler's funeral that broke the ice. A moment of silence for Ernie was suddenly interrupted by a cell phone ring."
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

A tale to sink your teeth into (680)
Thank you for calling FairyDent, the automated tooth-retrieval service, linking harried parents and airy fairies since 2003.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The anticipation of our Gallivanting Gourmand (740 words)
It is spider season up here in Montreal and their intricate webs glisten in the heavy dew and light of the morning. Thousands of yellow jacket wasps are enjoying fall apples en masse in yards around the neighborhood and I've been watching seagulls from the lake nearby devouring crab apples with gusto.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

What we have here is a failure to communi-cat (680)
Here's what I actually said when a four-month-old kitten showed up on our doorstep late one evening last week, followed by what my family apparently heard me say:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

(200 words)
Why do we live in La Belle Province? (First in a series)
Why are Quebec taxes the highest in North America while having the worst roads on the continent?...remember, you'll never know where you'll find the good doctor. Perhaps in line behind you at WalMart. Dining at the neighboring table. Returning a corked bottle of wine to the local supermarket. Stumbling out of the dentist's chair. But wherever the good doctor perambulates, rest assured that all five senses will be focused on the immediate experience and ready to assimilate any tainted data for another random act of observation...

Don't panic over pickles (690)
Every jar of pickles is a leap of faith. The number of pickle-related deaths is in fact quite low. Or at least I assume it is; Statistics Canada doesn't offer any figures (although I did find a YouTube video entitled "Girl is scared to death of pickles"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Confederacy of Losers (700 words)
What the Republican Party has trotted out is an astonishing cavalcade of miscreants as possible nominees for the 2008 Presidential Race. The most positive thing you can say is that any one of them would make a better President than George W.Of course that's like saying Leprosy is better than pancreatic cancer.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

A 'Sea of Blue' arrives in our neighborhood (790 words)
A sea of blue plastic now visually blights pretty streets in established neighborhoods at every turn. Welcome the large blue recycling bin on wheels to Quebec communities.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Let's-Ban-Everything Party (630)
MONTREAL | I remember that in the past tolerance was a positive thing. I'm not referring to the current, politically correct group-think regulations that are misleadingly called "tolerance."
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Big clams, steep hills, lots of java (650 words)
I've just been to Seattle and back. When you visit this West Coast village you notice two things. You go up and down in Seattle and there is no escaping endless hills and climbs.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Hats off to ball cap wearers. No, seriously. (690)
I know (especially you boys) you think your ball cap is cool and the source of all your power, kind of like that cheesy mustache you're attempting to grow. But you're wrong.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Handprints on the walls of time (700)
Handprints. There were handprints everywhere - marks left by grubby fingers on walls, cupboards, and doorframes. Saturday morning, I found myself wandering the house with a sponge, scrubbing away the grime.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Coco Jarry: First in an occasional series on various eateries here and there (320)
I turn leery when I ask for a simple garden salad with my steak instead of mixed vegetables and potato and the lovely young waitress with a lovely young smile says: "That will be extra."
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

An unelectable American vice president (625)
MONTREAL | Bill Clinton is the best campaigner of his generation. He has charisma. He is very well liked. And the vice presidential position is usually chosen based upon the candidate's usefulness in winning the election.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Did I mention my old-man legs? (710)
The first time I broke a tooth was when I was about seventeen. Some friends and I had managed to get some beer and had taken it to the woods.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Egg on our collective face, eh? (640)
PODGORICA, MONTENEGRO | With the success of last weekend's Live Earth, several other global concerts-for-a-cause are in the works. The first to emerge is Live Egg, scheduled to take place in Europe and North America October 12, World Egg Day.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Rap Radio, Talk Radio (650)
MONTREAL | Maybe there is a link between rap music and talk radio. Maybe talk radio is simply rap music for old people. Like rap music, talk radio is not pretty.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.
Recycling do's, don'ts. and dunnos (685)
I read last week that my town will soon provide me with a bigger, better, and -- who knows -- maybe even bluer recycling bin, the kind on wheels you roll out to the curb.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
The most wonderful Canadian wonder of them all (645)
MONTREAL | But the only "Wonder" given to our region was to Old Quebec City, a revealing choice, a typical expression of the way English Canada sees Quebec. It celebrates the Quebec that is safely tucked away in the past, wearing costumes of the Filles du Roi and playing spoons.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Paradise Lost (860 words)
I walk a lot now and take daily jaunts around the neighborhood just to smell good, greasy smoke I tell you. I can't help but pause in front of yards when I catch the unmistakable scent of hamburgers sizzling on the grill and I get downright excited when I detect burning fat on a big juicy Montreal rib steak.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Hollywood History of Canada (670)
It is 1839. Rebel forces in Upper and Lower Canada have been crushed under the iron fist of the British Empire. Vowing revenge and seeking access to cheap health care, the rebels under plucky leader Louis-Joseph Papineau kidnap Governor General Lord Durham.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Well, at least it's not a tat (700)
Last Father's Day, I signed away my daughter's nose. She's almost sixteen, which is old enough to get her licence but not old enough to get her nose pierced without parental permission.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I'm still trying to get my passport, eh? (700)
However, I suggest you tone down the rhetoric when you call border guards "power-tripping line jockeys." This is a surefire way to ensure that you won't need a passport to enter the United States - you won't be allowed in at all. After all, they may be watching
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

One man's garage door is another's bylaw infringement (660)
MONTREAL | A garage is such a unique suburban invention. It is us. It is where we keep the car in the winter and the bicycles and sports gear in the summer. Sure it fills up, but at the end of each summer we have a garage sale.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

The sequel to end all sequels ('though not likely) (730)
This week, I went to see the summer's most humongous blockbuster extravasequel of them all: SpiderShrek of the Caribbean Ocean 13. It was so sequelicious that I have to share it with you.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The joys of changing homes (730)
Over the last few weeks I've discovered one inalienable truth. Moving is no problem. It's not the sale of your house, although putting up with the lookers, the pryers, and eventually the buyers is a pain.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Suffers in the translation, or: The French have a word for it, but I just don't know it (600)
You may be the brightest, coolest, LOLing-est person in your own language but placed in another language setting you risk coming across as boring or a moron or a boring moron.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Lifestyle catches up with our Gallivanting Gourmand (640 words)
A penchant for putting butter on brownies has finally caught up with me.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Taxman, reward that tree keeper (640)
If a Middle Eastern country, being a carbon source, gets to pump it out of the ground, cash the cheques, and make trouble, surely we, at the other end, should be able to reclaim it from the atmosphere, store it, cash the cheques, and make peace.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Musings from a budding evolutionary (700)
As the writer Bill Bryson points out, our planet and life on it have changed drastically several times. Often these changes resulted from some sort of global cataclysmic event, and I'm not just talking about the release of another Die Hard movie.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Frickin' awsome! (700)
"Can you get me a stick? Thank you. When I stir the water it's a potion that turns you into a monster or maybe if you have too much you die. Want a sip?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Canada's Summer of Love a forgotten ideal (635)
Canada is now no longer a country of individuals, living equally under one set of laws and regulations. It is rather a patchwork of groups, each claiming the redress of historical grievances, special privileges for themselves, the repression of those who "threaten" them, and ultimately, greater access to the irresistible growing reservoir of tax dollars.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

US Military Intelligence strikes again (580)
I'd never noticed before but if you look closely there appears to be a wire running from the polar bear's right hind foot to the silver rim of the coin. Could it be a micro-circuit? Could we all be walking around with a miniature homing device in our pocket?
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Scent of a Tory Canuck (670)
What are the Liberals trying to 'cover up,' I ask you. Is there some kind of 'stink' they've been trying to hide all these years? Well, let me tell you, the Conservatives are different. When you smell John Baird, you're smelling only John Baird!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

No Bloke Queen at our Birthday Party (630)
That's it! Stop the music! There will be no queen at this party! That's right. Elizabeth 2nd, by the Grace of God, Queen of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and several other bits and pieces scattered around the globe, is not welcome at Quebec's 400th birthday bash.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Never been poked (700)
What these Internet technologies have in common is they are all about shameless self-promotion. They are a way to say to the world, "Hey, look at me, I'm here! And I've had my body provocatively pierced!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The lovely Belinda added so much drama to our boring Canadian political life (630)
She had this big burly guy so wrapped around her little finger that once, when he was supposed to be at a fundraising golf tournament in the Maritimes, he was spotted walking with her on a New York City street carrying an armload of packages. She had not only seduced the toughest guy in the NHL - she had also taken him shopping.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Not another young Western life wasted, not another young Western body maimed (300)
I heard the word "Allah!" over and over again, so it was clear they were invoking the name they give the all-merciful, all-loving God. I understood the whistles and cheers, the sound of clapping, the pointing of fingers, the pumping of hands and fists. The men were high-spirited, passionate.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

The bomb at the bottom of the street (715)
I sauntered back down some time later, just in time to see the bomb squad robot emerge from the truck. Very cool! We practically cheered. It was a big crowd now, including television crews and reporters.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What cheese are you? (430 words)
I have yet to find a decent recipe on You Tube for a Quebec Maple or sugar pie so perhaps one of you could claim your fifteen seconds of fame, post a clip, and make us Canucks proud. Otherwise, I just might have to do it myself.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not a cook (660)
"What's for supper?" That's a good question, Emily, and thank you for asking it. I'd just like to say that this is a very complex and sensitive situation. I can assure you that the Household is looking at this question with the utmost attention in order to come up with a solution in a timely manner.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Reality is in the mind of the inventor (680)
Take the "device for producing dimples," for example. This was the brainchild of M. Goetze. Now, I reckon the industrious Mr. Goetze probably got his start at the Marquis de Sade Manufacturing Co. The dimple producer resembles not so much a beauty aid as a device for extracting military secrets. It consists of a handle, much like the one you find on a brace and bit, and two arms. One has a rounded end and is placed against the cheek. The other has a receptacle for the round end and goes inside the mouth...
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Hip Hop-ocracy (680 words)
If you were shocked when Don Imus of the "Imus in the Morning" radio and TV show referred to the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team as "nappy-headed hos" then you must be a new listener. Imus has been pulling this type of garbage for years.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Save 'our' field (690)
The lot has been for sale for as long as we've been in this house, about thirteen years. Up until a few weeks ago, its availability was advertised only by a hand-painted sign with a phone number and the advisory "S'NO DUMPING." I was always comforted by the non-threatening ambiguity of that sign. It might have well read, "For sale, or not. No biggie."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

We who are not them (665)
Mario Dumont played the identity card and won big time. Because he is one of: (to borrow a phrase coined by Jacques Parizeau on referendum night in 1995) "we who are us." I love that phrase. It says so much, so succinctly. (Let's give the jolly old separatist fart his due!)
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Patiently waiting for victory, eh? (500)
The last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup Lester Pearson was Prime Minister. Exp. 67 was getting ready to kick off the best year the nation was to have for quite some time. Dinosaurs still roamed the earth and I was just twenty years old.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Why drinking 'milk' that smells like feet is a good thing (715)
A couple of weeks ago we had a particularly bad morning. I put my foot down and said she wasn't going to school until her glass was empty. There were tears. And not just Abby's.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Whither Post-election Quebec? (500)
Finally, 25 percent of the population either thinks everyone should have a windmill in their own back yard, or, the best way to cure poverty is to tax companies out of business, or, there's actually no point in voting at all anyway.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

A political act of Quebec escapism (650)
I want to register a protest vote. At first I think that not voting would do that. But that is not really a protest vote, that's a non-vote. And I feel it is my civic duty to vote. After all, if you are given a right and you do not use it, then you deserve to lose it.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

The facts you need on April Fool's Day (640)
April Fool's Day is believed to have originated in Rome in 56 AD when Emperor Vivesectus marked the twelfth birthday of his son Egregious, whom he was not particularly fond of.

Sugar time and looking for the good stuff (490 words)
There was a time in my life when pure maple syrup flowed like tap water at my house and I had no idea how lucky I was to have cans of the stuff put away like so much soup in a cupboard.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The facts you need on April Fool's Day (640)
April Fool's Day is believed to have originated in Rome in 56 AD when Emperor Vivesectus marked the twelfth birthday of his son Egregious, whom he was not particularly fond of.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

In praise of snow (675)
I can still picture our ultimate snow fort: it had actual ice chairs and tables, you could stand up in it, and, if memory serves, there may actually have been a rec room with a pool table and bar.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Spring forward, fall back, grump, grump, grump (550)
This is three weeks earlier than normal. Why? Something to do with saving energy, extending daylight hours during the workday, blah blah blah. I really think it's just the U.S. asserting itself, like a parent imposing an arbitrary rule simply "because I said so."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

A timely bit of Irish fun, for the season and all (480 words)
Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland wasn't born Irish, you know. He was born around 373 A.D. in either Scotland, near the town of Dumbarton, or in Roman Britain.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Impeach Bush Now (840 words)
The last political figure that sanctioned torture and invaded another country for profit was hanged while still in office. Saddam Hussein had other similarities with George Bush.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

How peanut butter is destroying the planet (640)
If we're going to save the planet, it may be up to my generation. The older generation is too set in its ways and the younger generation is too "like, no way!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Quebec election a lost cause (590)
Another Quebec election - whoopdeedoo! An uplifting and intelligent period of new ideas and exciting solutions - not! We are all locked in a prison cell of high government debt, over-taxation, bureaucratic bumbling, and a litany of broken promises.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Flying wasabi and cloned cows sour my milk (670 words)
So you are flying around in space and you have the munchies. What to do? Why, reach for the sushi and wasabi of course. Or you could have some Mutter Paneer (Indian curried cheese and peas) with basmati rice.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Attention aging breeders, better that you don't (600)
How many kids want to have dad show up at the minor soccer championships only to watch him felled when an errant ball knocks his walker out from under him?
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Following driving directions: It's a man thing (730)
The stereotype goes that a man will do anything rather than ask for directions. But what if he doesn't know where he's supposed to be in the first place?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The Oscar for Best Use of Cute Ponies goes to… (655)
I'm feeling somewhat reticular (don't ask) this week so I'm going to turn things over to Abby, five-and-a-half, to offer her predictions on who will bring home the Oscars at this Sunday's Academy Awards.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Clothes make the Don (600)
Every Saturday night millions of Canadians tune in to Hockey Night in Canada, a genuine Canadian tradition. And for many the highlight takes place right after the first period.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Mister Positive (640)
It's come to my attention that I've seemed overly crusty in my writing lately. I guess that column on corporal punishment for wayward kittens was going too far.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I don't want my boy to go soldiering (580)
How can it make sense to send them to a time-warped wasteland where they walk around as targets? We might as well paint a bull's eye on each one of them. In that twisted, sick, black hole of barbarism they can be blown up while they are handing candies out to children.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Scratch a pig, then sniff it, eh? (600 words)
As a lover of Asian food, imagine my excitement when I learned of the release of a new postage stamp that smells and tastes of sweet and sour pork when scratched and licked.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

On Valentine's Day, "Eat my shorts" takes on a whole new meaning (690)
Last weekend in Montreal, I saw two Valentine conventions in one: candy underwear. You had your choice of bra, g-string, garter, those weird suspender things, and something for men that I don't know what you'd call and I'd rather not think about.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tim's take on Canada's new Food Guide (580)
It's even more important in this day of fast food and eating on the run. Let's face it, when half the population thinks the four basic food groups are salt, fries, ketchup and Pepsi, we need guidance.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Grass is definitely greener in Alberta (580)
Recently, when I was in Calgary, a man came up to me and said: "You guys are from Montreal, right?" I answered in the affirmative. "What part?" I told him the West Island. "Oh, I used to live in Pointe Claire," he said. "How are things going back there"?
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Valentine, you're food for my soul (580 words)
No romantic pressure this month dear readers. A little planning is all it takes to produce a Valentine dinner for two that he or she will reward you for.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.
The boob tube police (640)
Whatever the wording, the basic concept has remained virtually unchanged for close to 30 years, even though in 1977, video players were the size and weight of car radiators. Little monkeys lived inside the machines to rewind the tapes.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

(255 words)
Disappointing Quebec Observations: 2006/07
There has been an increase in "vigilance" from the Saint-Jean- Baptiste Society and Mouvement Montréal against the English language...remember, you'll never know where you'll find the good doctor. Perhaps in line behind you at WalMart. Dining at the neighboring table. Returning a corked bottle of wine to the local supermarket. Stumbling out of the dentist's chair. But wherever the good doctor perambulates, rest assured that all five senses will be focused on the immediate experience and ready to assimilate any tainted data for another random act of observation...

How to avoid the flu (570)
The flu was invented in Spain in 1918, and the craze soon swept the globe. Later, many Asian countries adapted the flu, making it cheaper and more compact. Bird Flu is named after former NBA great Larry Bird, who suffered from the disease, resulting in him being kinda dorky looking.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Yogurt demystified (470 words)
The best nutritional deal is plain yogurt, which has only two ingredients: live cultures and milk (whole milk, low-fat, or skim). The longer the ingredients list, the more calories you get and the less yogurt nutrition.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

I, iPodder (650)
Don't clean toilets wearing your iPod.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Nobody wants to talk about farts, but… (590 words)
After posting a recipe for 7-day cabbage diet soup last week, a couple of readers e-mailed to let me know that their spouses are not pleased and I feel I must respond. I'll spare you the intimate details but warn that if you are uncomfortable with discussion about bodily functions, you should read no further.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Year that was (790)
Recently the Canadian government formally recognized the Québécois nation; who have been planning their exit for thirty years. Maybe this recognition is part of it. But what about the Anglos? We may live on the reservation but we're not part of the nation.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Quest for fries (660)
We drove the fifteen minutes or so to one of the more popular eateries in the area. It wasn't our preferred choice but it had French fries, and that was a major consideration in our choice.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tax-free diet food (500 words)
As much as I like the beginning of a new year its arrival brings with it the notion of weight loss and taxes. If you are like me, you dread the thought of both.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Happy New (and improved!) Year (640)
From the creators of 2006, New Coke, and the remake of that movie that wasn't much good in the first place comes the most spectacular year yet: the new and improved 2007!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The Red Rider rides again (500 words)
Tom Cochrane's recent offering No Stranger reinforces his commitment to lyrical depth. No shallow ditties here, he confirms his place as Canada's premier songsmith.
Greg Duncan, the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand, is also an old Rocker and can also write about it.

Yet another end-of-the year list (480)
It's a new year, which means that columnists across the land have officially used up their year's supply of ideas. Thus - tada! - the end-of-year best/worst column. Why, it almost writes itself...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Questions I'm being asked about leaving Fool's Hollow (190)
Q: Is it true you're selling the Hovel and moving to Ontario?
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Christmas wrapped up tight (660)
Someone - and it may have been someone in my own family - has given my mother a role of duct tape. This is like giving heroin to someone who obviously shouldn't have heroin.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What's Hot or Not for 2007 (533 words)
The biggest food stories of 2006 saw us living in fear of a variety of contaminants in the average food supply. From e coli to salmonella, no animal or beast nor swimming creature was unaffected by some form of disease.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Cold enough for ya? (780)
One of the coldest times I ever spent was delivering newspapers in Stamford, Ontario, just outside of Niagara Falls. The wind was making a straight, unimpeded run from Windsor to the Honeymoon Capital of the World and the only thing in its way were my ears and nose.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

General office party rule: no photocopying (650)
The office Christmas party is rife with tradition: the goodwill between co-workers, the exchanging of suet-based gifts, skinny-dipping in the eggnog, the yuletide unicycles. Oh wait, those are traditions only here at Murray Corp.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Damned if I know (870 words)
The fighting part was easy. They reached Baghdad and tore down the statue of Hussein with very few losses. It was there that the plan ended.Jim Austin observes the Universe from Putney, Vermont.

The Spirit of Christmas is in your kitchen (500 words)
So you can finally get into the spirit of the season…a few years back, I posted this humorous list of Martha Stewart Christmas project ideas and the list is still landing in e-mail boxes everywhere. Some things are timeless.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Is there enough guilt in your diet? (640)
Last night I ate some Cheese Nips. These were American-brand Cheese Nips, which means they were extra cheesier than the Canadian version. If there's one thing the US has excelled at more than any other it's cheese-flavour augmentation.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Truffles, no trifling matter (500 words)
Right now, somewhere in the oak groves of Europe, dogs, pigs, and humans are on a quest for an elusive fungus worth its weight in gold ... good truffle can sell for $2000 and is highly treasured.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Citizen, we know who you are (300)
See, there are now the Good Guys, the patriots who are charged with keeping the Homeland safe from terrorists and criminals. And then there is Everybody Else.
John Mahoney edits this cyber rag.

About That Quebec 'Nation' Thing (640)
Asked what this new status will mean for Quebec, Duceppe replied, "Status as a nation will allow us to enjoy such nation-like elements as, oh, I don't know, a flag, borders with our neighbours, a separate tax system. And don't forget holidays. We can have our own national holidays. I know, it's incredible, right?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Quebec politics, Quebec desserts (620 words)
Forgive me, dear reader, if I put down my wine for a moment to raise the issue of 'Quebec as a nation.' It's the hot dinner topic of the week, don't you know. Listen carefully…
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

(580)
One of the most enduring predictions of George Orwell's 1984 was his description of 'newspeak,' the control of words by the state in order to control thought. Today, the struggle to control words is everywhere.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Buy "my" book (650)
Technically, it's not "my" book but I'm in it. Ever so briefly, 150 words to be exact. But it's a real book with a real publisher and I'm being paid real money. Not yet, but I will be. I think.

Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Isn't "Henkel Trocken" German for "Mountain Dew"? (610)
Does champagne have an expiration date? Not real champagne but "champagne" in quotation marks, sparkling wine, the stuff of wedding receptions and New Year's Eve debaucheries. Sweet stuff with bubbles.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The slur heard round' the world (695 words)
Who feels the loss of the US Senate more than skuzoid George Allen, erstwhile Senator of Virginia? George was all warm and cozy in his little nest of viperous Republican supporters, thinking no doubt that there was nothing on earth that could convince his legions of anti-abortion, snuff dippin', gun totin' gomers to vote against him.DAMNED IF I KNOW
Posted 12.14.06
JIM AUSTIN

The fighting part was easy. They reached Baghdad and tore down the statue of Hussein with very few losses. It was there that the plan ended.
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Name one for Middle Of The Road Bob (575)
Money spent on new street signs and maps and self-congratulatory receptions will come from the highest-taxed people in North America. High taxes are as Quebecois as "Les Gens de Pays" which means "The mugs who pay."
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

No hugs for you, or you either (640)
I'm not a naturally hugging person, nor am I huggable - all bones and pointy bits. I'm a true-blue white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. I come from Scottish stock that was opposed to premarital sex because it might lead to dancing.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Food news U need (540 words)
Why do we hear of more and more food related scares? This term we have witnessed spinach that contains E coli, carrot juice containing botulism, and meat contaminated with C difficile.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

This column may be recorded to ensure quality service (695)
"Mr. Murray, I'm calling this evening on behalf of Belle to offer you some very interesting new services which I'm sure may interest you. You are already a Belle customer, Mr. Murray?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

A horrible Halloween tale, eh? (715)
And now they stood in the vast hallway of the mansion, famous for its jagged spires and columns, the gnarled bone-like fortifications and the brackish moat that gurgled ominously around it, all of which led the observer to ask, "What the heck is the zoning around here?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Some ado about a canoe (690)
There's a canoe on the front lawn. It's supposed to be by the side of the road to be picked up either by the garbage truck or people cruising the streets for junk, whichever comes first.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The old Nigerian scam with a Canadian twist (830 words)
What would be the first emotion to come over you if you received a letter out of the blue notifying you that you had just won 80,000 bucks?
Ray Goyette dreams of winning in Budd Lake, New Jersey.

In my book, cookies = vegetables (525 words)
Yep, it's an indulgent time of year when we gobble up tons of Halloween candy between gorge fests. If that's not enough, the local school children hit the streets and descend on neighbors selling chocolate bars for a variety of school related activities. Combine all this food with a period of declining physical activity due to waning daylight hours, and you have a recipe for the bulge.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The last big turkey story (for about a month) (525)
It seems - at least for me - that it is impossible to obtain a reasonable sized version of my feathered friend. Something in the order of twelve pounds, say. Enough to feed two comfortably with ample leftovers for the inevitable post-feast sandwich.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Keeping my cool, nearly (710)
The last thing I want to do is to embarrass my children. Okay, maybe it's not the last thing. I mean, if I had to choose between something terrible like having Céline Dion as a houseguest or embarrassing my children, I'm sorry, but the kids would have to suck it up.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Had enough, America? (250)
Listen, you're all invited to read this but I'm specifically addressing the morons who put Bush et al in control of the Universe as we know it.
John Mahoney is a dual American/Canadian citizen who edits the Log Cabin Chronicles and is mightily pissed off at his birth country's leadership. Or, rather, lack of leadership.
John Mahoney edits this cyber rag.

Why the Oldies are still Goodies (580)
Recently, I rediscovered an old Peter, Paul, and Mary cassette to enjoy in my van, pretty much the only place I listen to music any more. They had been a favourite back when I listened to music all the time (before kids).
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Turkey table tricks and treats (510 words)
Thanksgiving is North America's national chow-down feast, the one occasion each year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

A Thanksgiving, Turkey (720)
Excuse me, please, everyone, can I have your attention? Cousin Shane, could you stop dangling the baby over the gravy boat for a minute? I'd like to say a few words before we tuck into this delicious Thanksgiving meal.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Grab a large spoon and dig in (380 words)
Perhaps my favorite food at this time of year is a hearty soup. Whether you prepare one using any of the in- season harvest vegetables or dried legumes such as beans, peas, or lentils, the smoky addition of ham, bacon ,or sausage can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The nun inside us (570)
When I was growing up in Nova Scotia, Antigonish was knee-deep in nuns. But she was the only nun in my school, though she didn't really act like one. She was just a touch too sarcastic to be holy.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

After the fall (570)
I fell out of a canoe recently. It's something I haven't done for a very long time. The last time I recall doing anything quite so stupid was In 1963. And then I had an excuse.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The Birth and Death of Honest Conservatism (870 words)
Today's politician is much more likely to kiss the ass of anyone who can influence voters rather than use their boot. Goldwater flew up in my estimation in the film when, in one of his clips, he denounced those who would politicize abortion or deny the rights of homosexuals.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec's apple season is in full swing (400 words)
I think that our cold nights give Quebec apples a certain advantage in taste over any grown elsewhere. The night cold does something to the sugars within and, as daily sun shines down on orchard rows, it warms the apple from its sleep. This cycle makes apples grow sweeter daily while retaining perfect crunch with a tingle of tartness to boot.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Nothing scary in the dark except grumpy dad (670)
At some point, somehow, Abby became afraid of the dark. She's five years old and can't go to sleep in her room alone.

Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Lord Stanley's cup and camp (800 words)
The problem with taking on a massive project like boiling the history of hockey in Canada down to ten hours of TV (minus commercials) is that inevitably things don't make the cut. This is no way a knock on the folks who put together Hockey: A People's History.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

It's a doctor-patient thing, eh? (640)
Here's something maybe you didn't know: a referral for blood work is no longer good after more than two years. Why this should be I'm not sure. If the doctor wanted to check your serotoblerone levels when he saw you nearly three years ago, he's probably still going to want to see them now, if not more so.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

My Fair Français (650 words)
My Fair Lady is a smash hit in Quebec. That in itself might not be surprising since the Lerner and Lowe musical comedy is one of the most popular and adored ever produced. What is perhaps notable is that the words and lyrics for the Quebec version of My Fair Lady are entirely in French - except for the play's famous title and the occasional "By George!" outburst from Professor Henry Higgins.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Mister Fixit rides again (625)
I borrowed my neighbour's pipe wrench. My other neighbour saw me returning with it and started to laugh - she's heard the stories.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Quebec in the major leagues (815 words)
Meanwhile, in Quebec, there are still some professional baseball play-offs to be had. Les Capitales de Quebec faced their Can-Am League rivals, the North Shore Spirit of Lynn, Massachusetts, in a play-off run that could well be over by the time you read this.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Plumb easy and plumb good (450 words)
It's still a few months until Christmas, but it's plum season, nonetheless. If you have a plum tree or know any one who does then chances are that you have more plums than you will ever need.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Plight of Quebec anglos a laughing matter, but not on CBC-TV (590)
Recently I have been lucky enough to be involved with a "hit" show. I call it a hit because it sells out wherever we perform it. It is called The Four Anglos of the Apocalypse. It features columnist Josh Freed, cartoonist Terry Mosher (Aislin), George Bowser, and myself.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Fun time is over, kids -- back to school (700)
Another school year has begun. Where has the summer gone? And while I'm at it, where has the DVD remote gone?

Quebec looks to close missing link (750 words)
Along that stretch of coast, the destination for centuries for whaling and cod fleets, explorers, and seabirds, lie sixteen villages, twelve of which have English as their main language, while the others are French and Innu. Some of these villages date back nearly half a millennium; Middle Bay, for example, got its start as a post for Basque whalers in the 1500s.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Chocolate chips and zukes go together yummily (450 words)
"What the heck am I going to do with this entire zucchini?" She was pointing at a green behemoth waiting patiently on the ground.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

In Vino Veritas (1000 words)
Apparently Mel blew a .012 on the Breathalyzer. Well a bunch of us decided to try and drink enough to reach that level of intoxication, as an experiment you see. Given that Mel blamed the entire episode on the booze we wanted to see if any of us would turn into raving bigots under the influence of too much beer.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

What I learned in PEI (725)
Skunks are cockier than raccoons. Our campsites were invaded by one, then the other in the middle of the night. I tried to scare away the skunk by throwing small objects near it (but not at it - you don't want to hit the trigger).
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Jacques Cartier find in QC raises questions (795 words)
Archaeologists, historians, and politicians are proclaiming it as surely the most important archaeological discovery in Quebec history and the answer to one of Canada's most baffling historical mysteries. Last week Quebec officials announced to the world they had found the long-sought site of the Cartier-Roberval settlement of 1541-43.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


High Eatin' With A Blender (450 words)
You've eaten corn on the cob until you just can't eat any more, you're panicked at the thought of back to school and back to work reality, and you need a vacation from your vacation, right?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Nightmare for QC elm trees (740 words)
We returned from our annual summer vacation trip to find two of the five towering maples in our backyard mangled by a mini-hurricane that had swept through the neighbourhood while we were gone.


Future borders of my youth (670)
Back when I was a young man, people would cross the border from what was once called "Canada" to the United States, sometimes every day, for work, food, and what we used to call "gasoline." That was before Emperor Rove's armies invaded to contain the "socialist disease" and changed Canada's status from "country" to "Wal-Mart Supply Outlet 4312."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Stupid helmet! (680)
She'll want to ride her bike somewhere and will be fighting us on wearing her helmet. She hates helmets. It's gotten to the point where she refuses to ride her bike rather than put one on. And now she'll have ammo...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Taking sides on Lebanon: Quebec's rocky history with Jews (740 words)
Quebec has a long and ambiguous relationship with Jews. The recent large demonstration in Montreal, purportedly in support of peace in Lebanon, is seen as the latest expression of that troubled past.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Anglos can beat QC language cops by signing right names (590)
Imagine, this would undo ten years of kissing up to the nationalists while taking for granted all of us who mistakenly voted for Premier Jean Charest because we thought he might bring back justice and fairness to Quebec.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


Jim's back and he's got some Sport Shorts for ya (780 words)
Well, I just got back from our Brazilian vacation my fellow Americans and I can tell you that the Brazilians are not too happy. Two reasons...
Jim Austin touches all the bases in Putney, Vermont.


Back to the future with garbage (680 words)
What makes Chornet's process particularly attractive is it uses existing waste as a fuel, which avoids the somewhat contradictory problem with corn-fed ethanol, in that it doesn't require more energy to make than it produces.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Bugs Redux (this time in my head) (665)
How do I know I have tinnitus and not just, say, waxy buildup? Because I've been diagnosed. By Google.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Gazpacho Time (530 words)
You are burned out on the barbecue, aren't you? You have grilled, seared, roasted, and singed 'till you just can't stand the heat any longer -- you just might be exhibiting all the classic symptoms, my friend.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Bugs: This time it's personal (660)
If bugs were truckers, the potato plant would be the equivalent of a brightly flashing neon sign at the end of a long day on the road that reads "Gas! Lodging! Defoliate!" Throw in some nude dancing aphids and what orange-blooded parasite could resist?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


From Russia, with gas (695 words)
Petro-Canada wants to lock in a long-term relationship with Gazprom which extracts an enormous amount of natural gas from Russian fields. It has known reserves of about 918 trillion cubic feet, which should be enough to keep Gros Cacouna going for quite some time, with its projected production of 500 million cubic feet a day.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


(525 words)
Pssst! Need any weed killer? Cheap wine? What?
There is illicit trade going on right in your neighborhood ,dear Quebecers. Perhaps you've noticed furtive discussions between Mr. Smith and Mr. Tremblay going on across the street...Remember, you'll never know where you'll find the good doctor. Perhaps in line behind you at WalMart. Dining at the neighboring table. Returning a corked bottle of wine to the local supermarket. Stumbling out of the dentist's chair. But whereever the good doctor perambulates, rest assured that all five senses will be focused on the immediate experience and ready to assimilate any tainted data for another random act of observation...


Retired QC physician self-publishes photo book (380)
SHERBROOKE, QC | Just in time for High Summer, Dr. Robert 'Bob' Paulette's new photographic portrait of Quebec's Eastern Townships has just come off the press. The Eastern Townships contains some 100 of Paulette's color photographs made over the years throughout the backroads of this lovely region of southern Quebec.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.


Taking a legal break, eh? (635)
Since last week, this column has been on Construction Holiday. Oh, it's still running, but it has to comply with Quebec's stringent Construction Holiday Regulations under the Régie de la Solidarité des Whoopees du Québec (Chapter 4, Section D2: "Pundits, Crackpots and Pseudo-Intellectuals").
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Rhapsody in Blue (435 words)
Let's talk about B and Bs, shall we? I don't mean overnight bed and breakfasts whereby you cuddle up in a Laura Ashley-themed room and read a 1000 page novel on a cold winter weekend in a remote Vermont hideaway, either. No, I speak of the color blue and the world's most wonderful berry.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Remembering Talbot Papineau (745 words)
Talbot Mercer Papineau was the great-grandson of patriote leader Louis-Joseph; on his mother's side he was a descendant of a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence. He was a flawlessly bilingual Montreal lawyer, an outstanding athlete, a handsome lady's man, a Rhodes scholar, a world traveler and, inevitably, a sometimes arrogant self-promoter.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


How to have fun camping and not drown (655)
You need all this stuff to keep the children entertained. Take the glo-sticks, for example. They're a good diversion for the campfire between servings of S'mores. It also helps you keep track of the kids when they wander off...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Help Montreal golfers keep it green - don't let the airport pave it over (590)
Why does it seem that in a back room somewhere deals have been made, plans have been drawn up and large sums of money have changed hands, public be damned?
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


Remembering Quebec's Deluge a decade later (655 words)
Former premier Lucien Bouchard of Quebec says he quit as premier because he had failed to revive the flame of sovereignty. Looking back, it seems to make more sense, at least on a personal level, that the political fire in Bouchard's belly may have been doused by unprecedented amounts of water and ice.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Cooling with the cucumbers (425 words)
A trip to the local air-conditioned grocery store can provide some welcome respite from the sun and humidity of a hot summer day. I know, because I have made a visit to the ice cream and frozen food section on more than one occasion, just to cool off.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Oh, those rainy days of summer (680)
Under these rainy conditions when your house is filled with kids and guests, you need to rely on your wits and cunning to keep everyone entertained while remaining sane. Booze helps.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Ottawa cautious on the Massif hill (710 words)
Now, Cirque du Soleil co-founder Daniel Gauthier wants governments to ante up $60 million as a sign of faith in what he vows will be a spectacular and unique development, the pastoral Quebec equivalent of Love, his ex-partner's new Beatles extravaganza in Las Vegas.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Ribs, salsa, summertime (400 words)
I pity the poor piggies at this time of year. Once our outdoor grills get fired up, there is one inevitable barbecue truth on the horizon. Ribs will make their way to our patios and smoky sessions will begin.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Get to know your Canada, eh? (605)
New Brunswick's motto is "Spem reduxit," which means, "Place to drive through as quickly as possible." New Brunswick fun fact: By law, all first-born males must be named "Phineas."


Quebec's Premier Charest gets a pony of a poll (640 words)
While John-James celebrated his 48th at home in the Eastern Townships on the St. Jean Baptiste holiday, pollsters were completing the tabulation of a stunning survey. The Leger Marketing poll showed the Liberals pulling ahead of the Parti Quebecois for the first time in three years.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Through the Looking Glass (740 words)
If this is a war, which it is, then when the war ends neither we nor the Iraqi government can seek out and prosecute the fighters. Why would a warrior ever agree to a peace if they thought they would be thrown in jail and perhaps executed for their role as an insurgent?
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.




Dad's Guide to Summer (580)
This summer I will be attending many sporting events. In my family there is a soccer player, a football player, a baseball player, a softball player and an umpire - and I only have two kids. Consequently, in my mini van I carry:
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.




All Orford, all the time (650)
In Quebec's ongoing top story of 2006 (or quite possibly ever), opponents of the Mount Orford Park land deal say they will launch a legal challenge against the Quebec government's legislation to sell off a portion of the public land.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Quebec's Educationist Shuck & Dive Squad (450)
Q: What glows and stinks like dead fish in the moonlight?
A: The so-called school kids' Laptop Initiative bulldogged by the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB).
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.


Quebec's Shawinigate, the closing act (860 words)
The Crown is trying to prove that on the night of February 2, 2004, Duhaime set fire to the old wing of the hotel. To do that prosecutors will have to demonstrate Duhaime had not only the motive, but the time to ignite flammable materials in a hotel room that fire officials say caused the blaze.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


You've got your strawberries, your rhubarb (575 words)
The strawberries that we know and love today are the cultivated ancestors of wild varieties that once grew in abundance in colder northern climates, such as the Americas. We can thank First Nation peoples for demonstrating just what to do with them. In fact, our much beloved strawberry shortcake is an adaptation from simple strawberry bread made by Native Americans.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


So, how do you like me so far? (650)
If fatherhood were a business, Father's Day would be the end of the fiscal year, the moment when you finally get that year-end bonus you've been working towards for the past twelve months, except instead of shares in the company you get ties and golf balls.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Getting English out of the Quebec toaster (745 words)
Quebec Education Minister Jean-Marc Fournier has a lofty vision for a new generation of bilingual Quebecers: "Perhaps we can go further than 'yes, no, toaster.' "
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


A Red Meat Day At The Cow Palace (560)
DERBY CENTER, VT | If you're a Vegan, read no further. This here piece is about red meat and whiskey followed by pie and ice cream.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.


Sports hero beards and other superstitions (680)
Over the past year or so, my 10-year-old has become one of those boys who can rattle off players' names like they're buddies from school, who pledges allegiance to the team (Senators... okay, now the Oilers), and who collects hockey cards for the cards and not (like I did) just for the gum.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Beware of Beans (680 words)
How can you people not understand that gay marriage rocks the underpinnings of our culture? Allowing two people of the same sex live together like man and wife is not only an affront to God, it destroys the sanctity of marriage and undermines even the marriages of differently sexed couples.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.


Quebec shipyard stays afloat (780 words)
If the Davie shipyard in Levis were a cat it would be purring into its ninth life, its belly full of Norwegian herring.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Veteran QC newspaper editor retires (1100)
SHERBROOKE, QC | It's a far piece to travel from the Gaspé to the Eastern Townships but not as far as from the tiny Gaspé SPEC community newspaper to the editorship of the daily Sherbrooke Record.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.


The yahoos aren't that funny anymore (660)
I was thinking recently that there are few moments of small-town life more satisfying than seeing one of the local tire-squealing, peace-disturbing, life-risking, high-speed yahoos pulled over by the cops.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Patrick Roy's Quebec homecoming (830 words)
Almost exactly three years ago goaltending legend Patrick Roy hung up his pads, looked north beyond the Colorado Rocky Mountains, and saw his destiny.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


The Blues at Pete's (590)
If you have ever been to Smoked Meat Pete's on Ile Perrot, on Montreal's West Island, you know that Pete is a blues fan. He always has blues music playing in his restaurant and even has live blues bands on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


The One-dollar Circle of Hell (650)
If you find yourself in a mall and you pass by a dollar store, you may see a man hovering near the entrance. He will be slumped, looking not just bored but utterly defeated, like someone whose soul has been pulverized by the despair of ever seeing his family emerge from the shelves of useless trinkets and tinned meats.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


They spatchcock chickens, don't they? (410 words)
Perhaps you have heard of grilled chicken under a brick. But have you tried this ancient method of splitting a chicken down the back and then weighting and flattening it for an afternoon grill?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Trying to make census of it all (605)
As a follow-up to the 2006 Census and to improve future statistics-divulging experiences, please take the time to complete the survey below. All responses are confidential, except for Question 9, which our employees are likely to show around the office and laugh and laugh and laugh.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Quebec - finally - butts out (690 words)
At midnight on May 31 Quebec finally joins the other nine provinces in banning smoking in virtually all public places, including restaurants and bars. It's been a long time in coming, and even though certain groups are fuming - pardon the pun - the Charest government felt the time was right for Quebecers to go cold turkey in the province's eateries and watering holes.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Eat green to perk up, eh? (380 words)
This spring season has been very useful for cool weather vegetables that appreciate moisture and chill. If you haven't noticed, there have been many pickers at roadside gathering wild salad ingredients.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Baseball, Bonds, and the Immortal Bard (580)
"I'll just take a little of this under my tongue and shoot a little of that into my heinie and suddenly a Texas leaguer will sail all the way into the Bay. Hello! Super-size me!"
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


Guns, guns for everyone (630)
Canada Customs officers were jumping with joy (albeit without cracking a smile) recently after they learned that the federal Conservatives will honour their pledge to start providing them with guns.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


RC Church 'promotes' Québ&e;cute;cois cursing (680 words)
As any Canadian with even a passing knowledge of Qu&ecute;bécois French will know, the curses of choice in the province are almost exclusively of religious origin.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.




Harder than Chinese Algebra (720 words)
This local tempest is a microcosm of our national political situation. Republicans in this country had every chance to dump George Bush after he screwed up his first term. They did it to his daddy. But no, something changed in the psyche of the feral Republicans...
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.


Orange Dream Cake (400 words)
We roasted split chickens rubbed with lemon; garlic, oregano, and sea salt and enjoyed a yellow bean and new potato salad with roasted red peppers and a mound of steamed organic brown rice.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Conversations with Moe and other tricks (670)
Who says you can't train a cat? Every night, around 4 a.m., our cat Moe pads upstairs or hops down from the comfy spot he's found wrapped around one of the children's head. Then he comes to my bed and meows to be let outside.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Honor thy Mother with a casserole (300 words)
It is appropriate that Mothers Day always falls on a Sunday as this gives kids and Dads the perfect opportunity to make Mom a breakfast in bed. If you make this dish then you can catch a few extra winks too and pop it in the oven so she can wake to the smell of yummy promises.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Quebec doubts loom about gay secessionist Boisclair (740 words)
There is a temptation to see Quebec as having a Jerry Seinfeld "not- that-there's-anything-wrong-with-that" point of view when it comes to homosexuality.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Not Java Jiving here (400 words)
It was only a matter of time then that coffee was put to good use as a barbecue rub for steaks. In fact, this dry rub is so good that it was the primary reason for a first place win in a national steak-cooking contest to the tune of a $50,000 grand prize.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Don't get me going on the Tim Horton chain (490 words)
Random Acts of Observation by Dr. Anonymous.
Oh, my, he has it in for the Tim Horton franchise. As usual, he's hit the nail on the head, once again. Remember, you'll never know where you'll find the good doctor. Perhaps in line behind you at WalMart. Dining at the neighboring table. Returning a corked bottle of wine to the local supermarket. Stumbling out of the dentist's chair. But whereever the good doctor perambulates, rest assured that all five senses will be focused on the immediate experience and ready to assimilate any tainted data for another random act of observation...


To the bold go the doughnuts (640)
My mob stood at the counter determining whether to order the McLump or the McFat when the man approached us and said, "Do you mind if I go first? I just want a coffee."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Stephane Dion runs against Canadian 'alternance' (815 words)
First of all, Stephane Dion is anything but stupid. You might add that neither is he vain, foolish, nor mentally unbalanced.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


The advantages of not keeping up with the Joneses (590)
Thieves love electronic equipment. It is easy to sell. Everybody wants it. But there are exceptions. Apparently if a thief breaks into your house he will leave the VCR behind. Yes, you know a technology is obsolete when even the thieves won't take it.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


Good Old Dad's Very Best Olives (430 words)
>I make these olives often as they go very fast around here. My daughter Erin especially loves them and I can't keep them in stock, as she will eat a whole jar in one sitting. It must be the marinade.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.




Pearson's language legacy strained (720 words)
Interestingly - and importantly - the greatest victory on the language front may be in Quebec itself, where some sixty-seven percent of English-speakers now call themselves bilingual.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Publisher, you are fired (550 words)
I didn't get fired exactly. This is more seppuku than homicide. My demise was orchestrated by whoever has been raping my columns and rendering them flaccid and rather mundane. Sometimes it's the editor and sometimes "unnamed assailants."
Mean Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.


Bummer (400)
Well, I may never know if I've got the perfect butt or not.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.


OK, but whatever happened to 'Dibs on that!' (710)
It's not entirely clear to me what is meant by "possession is nine-tenths of the law" but I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with class-action suits against shoddy exorcisms. I think it means the fighting over who owns what.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


BBQ Tandoori Spiced Halibut Fillets with Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (450 words)
You've rid the barbecue of spiders and cobwebs, scraped off the remnants of last years late autumn cook-off, and have a full tank of propane or a bag of charcoal waiting, right?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Quebec bullish on oil and gas (750 words)
Oil in the Gaspé -- it's a notion that takes some getting used to, but for those who have followed the slow and cautious growth of petroleum exploration and development in the Gaspé Peninsula it is not a surprise.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Politics as usual (775 words)
It seems like every day a new lie or manipulation of facts turns up to indict our big fat liar President and his merry band of mendacious miscreants.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.




Barbecuing ~ It's really quite simple (635)
I cooked my first steak a week before we put the clocks forward, which is like the spring training of barbecue season. I ended up barbecuing in the dark, but that was okay. I was guided by the porch light and the flames shooting out of the propane connection.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Quebec artists: sovereignty more than fiscal imbalance (660 words)
What these two giants of Quebec culture are saying, in essence, is that the romantic, revolutionary thrill has gone from the independence movement and it seems now to only be about bloodless intergovernmental financing.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Easter basics: Ham, maple syrup, and Jack Daniels (500 words)
What dish is most commonly served at Easter tables? Ham, of course, and inquiring minds want to know just why.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


From wheelies to behind the wheel (580)
Today I would like to talk about something even scarier than my Beaconsfield tax bill: my teenage son's learner's permit..."I can't wait to take you to England," I say. "I can't wait for you to find out what it's like to drive on the left side of the street legally."
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


How about a grilled sesame-crusted salmon steak? (507 words)
I don't like eating anything that sounds like it should be on the next space shuttle. Of course, when scientists unite to provide information on nutrition they must use proper terms. Omega 3 is a good example of what I speak.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Water, Wind, Nuke (740 words)
Another dilemma over an environmental issue faces the by-now bee-stung and gun-shy Quebec Liberals. It is the question of giving the green light to refurbishing the province's sole nuclear reactor, Gentilly 2, on the St. Lawrence River across from Trois Rivieres.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


April: So Special and So Now (645)
We have a busy month ahead of us, people, and there's no shortage of events, attitudes, and objects to commemorate and/or celebrate. It's best to be prepared to ensure you have the appropriate attire and know the anthem.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Dangerous Desserts 101 (555 words)
Our assembly of six weary conference attendees enjoyed a wonderful evening filled with delicious Quebec products such as wild boar spareribs with a Jack Daniels barbecue sauce, grain fed Cornish hen, Oka cheese melted atop oyster mushrooms, local goat cheese-stuffed cherry tomatoes and an unidentified local cheese and cauliflower soup.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Quebec Debt: At $118 Billion - Tell Me About That Generation Fund Idea (760 words)
As of this week, Quebec's debt hit $118 billion, a sum that is difficult to imagine, and much more difficult to manage. At 44 percent of GDP, Quebec's debt is by far the highest of any province; Nova Scotia is next at 34 percent, Newfoundland and Labrador follows at 32 percent.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to hate country (660)
Around these parts, this is like saying René Levesque might have been on to something, but I'll say it anyway: I don't like country music.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


The Quebec Liberal: Disappointed and in Despair (575)
Our local Liberal candidate could ride around the West Island in a limousine, drunk, with a lady of the night on each arm, yelling up at our windows: "Hey suckers, get down here and give me all your votes!" And as we reach into our pockets to give him the votes, we would say: "OK. Here you go, baby. Have a good time."
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


PQ broke Marois' heart (685 words)
As her friend and fellow PQ female icon Lise Payette put it in her Journal de Montreal column this week, the PQ didn't deserve Marois, and she did not deserve the way the party treated her.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Forgive my neglect, eh? (590 words)
Pardon the pun, but a "hot" topic of late is how to alleviate symptoms of menopause by eating appropriate foods. Due to my own climb up the age scale, I curiously witness female friends who escape to winter back porches every few minutes or so to alleviate the sweats and who fan themselves tableside with increased frequency.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.




Park it here (670)
Imagine my apprehension when I received a registered letter last week from the Quebec government. Did I owe taxes? Had they discovered my conspiracy to shave off Philippe Couillard's beard?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Selling Kandahar to Quebecers (610 words)
A recent poll shows that a majority of Canadians now support sending troops to Afghanistan. The prime minister's stealthy visit to the Taliban hotbed of Kandahar appears to have reversed an earlier poll that suggested a strong majority of Canadians were not happy about the mission. Except in Quebec.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Jasmine is my co-pilot (650)
She's still there. Every now and then I pull her out in the middle of a conversation and make her talk in a Senor Wences voice: "Jasmine no like your tie. Is oooogly."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


'Roid Rage
If you have read the Sports Illustrated article on Barry Bonds and his serial steroid use you know that he will soon become the most reviled superstar in sports history.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.


Wearing the Green, drinking the stout (490 words)
It is almost time to wear the Green and to perform an annual ritual. The coming celebration of St. Patrick's Day is not limited to your heritage, as Irish folk will gladly bestow you with honorary status at least for one day.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Quebec wants a seat at the UNESCO table (645 words)
When - not if, says Prime Minister Stephen Harper - Quebec gets a place at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the new envoy likely will be seatmates in Paris with an old Quebec political hand.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


In Montreal: The Glom and the Civils (575)
We would have all been happy and well served, back to the way things had been run for years: competently. Instead we were dragged through all the smoke and mirrors of the riggederendum, and forcibly rounded up into the abomination council.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


To noun or to verb, that is the question (670)
As I was columning this morning, having coffeed and bagelled, I had to de-work to outside the dog.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Grinning for the Gold (495)
The TV cameras focused in on the world's best women's mogul skier and the glare from her grin caused TV reporters to avert their eyes and the cameramen to dim their lights.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.


Review: A Montreal seafood buffet that dazzles (630 words)
The Gallivanting Gourmand rhapsodizes about a new discovery: the seafood buffet at the Hilton Atmosphere restaurant located at Montreal's airport.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


QC Poll confirms 'Harper Effect' on Charest's Libs (660 words)
What the poll actually says, though, is that the level of dissatisfaction with the Charest government has slipped from revulsion to mere distaste, or if you prefer that quantified, from 66 percent disapproval last month, to 56 in February.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Food. The Olympic Games run on it (720 words)
Canada did very well in Turin despite the disappointing results of our men's hockey team. Our athletes were fueled and energized by good foods while away from home. I thought I'd provide some insight this week into the culinary environment that kept the games going.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


O (my) Canada
Imagine, little Canada won twenty-four medals in these Torino Olympics. That's seven more than their previous high and only one less than the USA.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.


Extreme Column Makeover: The On-line Edition (590)
Get ready for a whole new me. Starting next week, this column will undergo a fantastic, reader-pleasing makeover that will provide more style and substance and fewer saturated fats. I know you'll like me, you'll really, really like me. Oh, please like me!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Quebec Liquor Board under increasing scrutiny (700 words)
According to information unearthed by Montreal's La Presse, there's been a considerable amount of artificial price-fixing going on, involving SAQ officials and agents representing certain labels of wine.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


No need to go to a Pho House for a hot treat (700 words)
"Pho houses" have been around for a number of years and the more adventurous already know of what I speak. At these Vietnamese eateries, windows are steamed up, tables are crowded and chins are wet.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.




The hockey column (with Reader Commentary on) (640)
The last time I saw Montreal play was 14 years ago in the old Forum. Professional hockey has come a long way since then - or at least the distractions have. There's so much happening off the ice you don't have time to notice how lousy the actual game is.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Before the Fall, Canada's Liberal PM lost his 'Paul' (580)
It was quite moving. By saying we could once again call him Paul he was claiming his life back, his "Paul-ness." Somehow, during his tenure as prime minister he must have felt he had lost his Paul. And that's like losing your mojo. Your centre. Your humanity. Isn't that sad?
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.




Remembering KP Holmes (500)
Meeting KP on the first day of grade five coincided with my first use of a fountain pen. Until that point we had been forced to use wooden-handled straight pens with replaceable metal nibs and a pot of ink.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.




In Quebec, living on thin ice (640 words)
Research scientists gathered at a conference in Winnipeg this week have concluded that Arctic ice is melting at an astounding rate. Data shows that each year an area the size of Lake Superior melts 'North of 60'.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


First, take a chicken and a bottle of Marsala (440 words)
Marsala is a blended, fortified wine of Sicilian origin, aged for two years or more in casks. Marsala is a dark amber color with a rich, smoky flavor, and varies from sweet to dry. It is also often used as a dessert wine and in many desserts such as the Italian Zabaglione.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


No sex please: we're English Townshippers (670)
Is sex something performed for the sole purpose of populating the Empire, the whole "Close your eyes and think of England" thing?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Ms Vaillancourt's breathless hockey rise" From Sherbrooke to Harvard to Turin (660 words)
SHERBROOKE, QC | Hockey, in Sarah Vaillancourt's words, is her oxygen. That being the case, the 20-year-old Sherbrooke woman is now breathing the sweetest air an athlete can hope for -- the rarefied air of Olympic competition.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


The jokers who are shaping our lives
Our society is incrementally losing its right to free speech while we watch slack-jawed and clueless.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

How this Canuck writer ties one on (660)
Five months into my new job, I no longer fret about getting dressed in the morning, mainly because standards, like the creases in my pants, have slackened.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


You want to place a pistol in their hands, eh? (480)
So, Canada's customs officers want to slap on the old Colt .45 or maybe a Dirty Harry-style .357 magnum so they can make some border-running scofflaw's day.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.


Quebec's Bloc faces new foe (650 words)
Having failed to cash in on corruption and the most serious spike in anti-Ottawa, anti-Liberal sentiment in Quebec since the Meech Lake fiasco, the Bloc now faces the prospect of a Conservative government seemingly prepared to neutralize its other trump face-card - the so-called fiscal imbalance.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


The Incompetence Olympics (610)
If there were an "Incompetence" Olympic games, the Bush Administration would get chronic neck pain from all the gold medals. Their latest flock of big ugly chickens has just come home to roost in the Middle East.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.


Some 'Angry Chicken' for your lover? (515 words)
I found recipes for voodoo sauces and even one for a "Pissed Off Grandma" sauce.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Letter to (X) Prime Minister Paul Martin on the Day After (670)
I'm just writing to offer you my condolences and wish you the best of luck. I don't think you're a bad person, even if you are a Quebec Liberal.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Quebecers stampede to Calgarian (730 words)
Harper's new equation for electoral success in Quebec has basically debunked the prevailing hypothesis that voters in the province will reject any federal leader who is not from here, not fluently bilingual or not without demonstrable francophone ancestry.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Some free Canadian advice for the new Prime Minister, eh? (400)
Stephen Harper pretty much better pay attention. The alternative is another election and I reckon if he ends up calling one within the next two years, Canadian voters will take up torches and pitchforks and drive him, like a political dr. Frankenstein, from the castle, or at least from Sussex drive.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.




Gambling fever, big government bucks (545 words)
Quebec's $1.5 billion in annual revenue (figures for 2003-2004), are a part of the $23 billion earned by government-run gambling across the country, which includes 60 permanent casinos as well as gambling machines and lottery ticket centres.
Barbara Florio Graham is the author of the 20th anniversary edition of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing and Mewsings/Musings. Her website: www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

When 'it' itches, 'it' gets scratched (300 words)
Random Acts of Observation by Dr. Anonymous.
Can you relate to this? The good doctor is put off by scratch cards and scratchees. Remember, you'll never know where you'll find the good doctor. Perhaps in line behind you at WalMart. Dining at the neighboring table. Returning a corked bottle of wine to the local supermarket. Stumbling out of the dentist's chair. But whereever the good doctor perambulates, rest assured that all five senses will be focused on the immediate experience and ready to assimilate any tainted data for another random act of observation...


Deciding who steals our tax money - what's the alternative? (580)
There is an election on! Hard not to notice with all our politicians rushing to outdo each other by proudly announcing how many millions they are going to spend. I'm thinking: Hey it's our money, Santa Claus!
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.


Ignoramus's guide to Canada's election 2006 (665)
With the federal vote next Monday, I feel like I have to write an exam I haven't studied for, and now it's the night before and I have to pull an all-nighter, and every time I doze off I dream that I show up for the exam without a pen and in my underwear.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


In Quebec federal politics, three's not a crowd (780 words)
No matter what the final seat tally in Quebec Monday night, one meaningful outcome of the federal election in the province would seem to be the return of a bona fide three-party system.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Blondies, anyone? (570 words)
Dieters shall shield their eyes from this column or say goodbye to any New Years resolution.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


Vote the Canadian difference -- me (655)
Sadly, no reporters showed up at my press conference, although the way the family dog kept eyeing the snacks while I made my presentation was very reporter-like.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Canada's secret Mulroney-Harper tapes (800 words)
There are reports that former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has been advising Conservative Leader Stephen Harper during the federal election campaign.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


The kindness of strangers (700)
Yes, I know, we live in hectic times here on the mean streets of the early twenty-first century. Really, who has the time and extra energy to be...nice.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.


Paranoid along the US border (600)
The U.S. is Canada's best friend. It's always there for us, ready to tell us what to think. We listen - politely - even though we suspect we're so much better, yet we're still happy to hang out for some laughs and to keep from getting beat up.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca


Federal campaign a sideshow in Quebec (700 words)
The evidence suggests - polls sufficing as evidence - that most Quebecers don't give a damn - ils s'en foutent - who wins the January 23 Federal election.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Attention, All Foodies! (460 words)
Out with the old, in with the new ... 2005 gives way to 2006 with a whisk and medley of culinary trends.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.


2005 Year-end Quebec Quiz (875 words)
As fresh as left-over turkey farce, as heart-warming as a corporate Happy Holidays card, and as necessary as perhaps one in ten Christmas gifts, here is the Distinct Society Trivia Quiz, the 2005 edition.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.


Pass the champagne and wake up mom (580)
New Year's Eve is the Super Bowl Party of holidays. It's built around an event whose hype is greater than its actual significance, there's way too much food and drink, the outcome is usually predictable, and the jocks and cheerleaders are getting all the action.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca




A Brave New Year A-coming
Use any of these words in a sentence too often and you might find yourself shackled to the floor in a five by five cell at Gitmo with a pimply-faced kid from Kansas trying to shove your copy of the Koran down the toilet. You don't need that.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.


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Slain Quebec cop part of an impressive bunch of youngsters (580)
Officer Valerie Gignac's photograph was on the front page, her face full of ideals, full of hope, and full of the future. I felt like I knew her.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Some holiday advice (mostly bad) (680)
This week, I answer some of your holiday-related questions. And to Mrs. Post of Cookshire, QC: No, I will not say a personal hello to your kitty.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

QC's L'Allier takes a bow (840 words)
Samuel de Champlain died in the little settlement of Quebec on Christmas Day in 1635. Two years earlier, he had returned from a four-year sojourn in France to find a colony left in disarray and peril by England's invading Kirke brothers.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Canada's Powder Puff Derby 2005 (690)
Criticism of the recent All Leaders Debate in Canada has been fast and furious. Why are Canadians of either official language choosing Gil Grissom and CSI over the country's political elite?
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

It's barely rock 'n' roll but kids love it (690)
After three acts and two gratuitous F-words (hey, c'mon, there are kids in the house!), Simple Plan burst onstage with sirens, flashing red lights and a blinding strobe. The mother two seats over covered her eyes - probably suffering flashbacks from a 1976 Grateful Dead concert.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

There's gold in them thar' Quebec hills (600 words)
Goldcorp is also banking on the price of gold continuing its dazzling climb towards record levels and beyond, to what some analysts say could approach the previously unthinkable $1,000 an ounce mark. With Eleonore containing as much as 10 million ounces, Goldcorp can do the math.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

These are not Girl Scout Cookies, dearie (480 words)
A good cup of coffee can go along way towards helping you make it through a dark winter day. Personally, I hit the wall at about 3:00 in the afternoon as the season of diminished light progresses.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

On preventing colds by sneezing into the inside of your elbow (660)
It's somewhat unnerving when something you've been doing all your life turns out to be incorrect, obsolete, or at very least pooh-poohed. I remember feeling this way when I learned that throwing spaghetti against the wall was not an effective test for doneness.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Keep one card, destroy all others (800 words)
Random Acts of Observation by Dr. Anonymous.
Got your Air Miles card handy? The good doctor is annoyed by the proliferation of membership cards. Remember, you'll never know where you'll find the good doctor. Perhaps in line behind you at WalMart. Dining at the neighboring table. Returning a corked bottle of wine to the local supermarket. Stumbling out of the dentist's chair. But whereever the good doctor perambulates, rest assured that all five senses will be focused on the immediate experience and ready to assimilate any tainted data for another random act of observation...

Quebec's secessionists still 'addicted' to referendums (570)
Cocaine is a good metaphor for the whole PQ trip. It will make you nervous, hyper, and reckless. You will run up a huge debt you can never pay for and talk about how you will do things that everyone else knows you will never do.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Drop everything and put on a good broth (460 words)
There they were. A gaggle of coughing and spewing souls, waiting their turn to see the Doc. As I flipped through a sticky and ancient germ-laden Better Homes and Garden magazine I considered the age-old notion of chicken soup as a preventative and restorative measure against dreaded viruses.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Rattling the gilded cage in Quebec (760 words)
The hardest part about being a lieutenant governor, says Gilles Lamontagne, is being discreet.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Where there's a Will there's a Notary (665)
There was no particular epiphany that prompted us finally to say, "Let's do it." We happened to be in a notary's office for another matter and as we were preparing to leave he asked, "By the way, do you have a will?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Another minority government in Canada? (460)
That's right. Another federal election and the candidates are campaigning for all they're worth. But this time not even the boys in Las Vegas can handicap this race.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

All the scam artists aren't from Nigeria, eh? (500 words)
Random Acts of Observation by Dr. Anonymous.
You'll never know where you'll find the good doctor. Perhaps in line behind you at WalMart. Dining at the neighboring table. Returning a corked bottle of wine to the local supermarket. Stumbling out of the dentist's chair. But whereever the good doctor perambulates, rest assured that all five senses will be focused on the immediate experience and ready to assimilate any tainted data for another random act of observation...

Hockey and politics mix in Quebec (680 words)
There was a time not that long ago when calling the Montreal Canadiens "the Habs" would have been considered about as politically incorrect or downright racist as uttering any other ethnic slur.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Steak fit for royalty (600 words)
Shiraz Filet Mignon Steaks: Make sure you get cooking before you get into the wine too much as we have noticed that abilities in the process can be influenced somewhat (hic!).
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Will the real jerk please hang up (700)
I was already kind of cranky when the phone rang at suppertime. I was in the mood to mess with someone. "Hello?" I answered. Then there was that tell-tale pause that occurs just before someone at a call centre says "Good evening, could I speak to Mr. Murray, please?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Talk about ad scamming (500)
I don't know about you but nothing gets my goat quite as much as being taken for a fool.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Premiers Klein and Charest twinned on health care (730 words)
Jean Charest and Ralph Klein get along just fine. When the latter paid a visit this week to the former in Quebec City, it was smiles all around as they toasted each other's health - and each other's stand on health care policy.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

My lesson in civic democracy (590)
I am back, dear reader, after running for a city council spot in my district of Beaconsfield, Quebec. As Citizen Blue, I was embedded in the election process. I dipped my toes in the great democra-sea. But I did not win.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

I oughta be in pictures or, Movie Star moi (730)
The film opens in an East Coast town (the seedy section, the part without any Tim Hortons). We see a tenement surrounded by squalor. There might be rats, we're not sure...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The loneliness of old kitchen tools (570 words)
I'm living in a kitchen gadget nightmare and I've got enough tools and appliances to run a commercial kitchen. Here's the thing…
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Vermontifornia (670 words)
Please be aware that the country of Vermontifornia will be pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, and anti-war. Speaking of war, we're going to need all Blue States citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight in Falujah, just ask your evangelical voters.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

PQ leaders: Four murders and a suicide (700 words)
If the Parti Quebecois behaves true to form, Boisclair might be looking for work sooner rather than later. For it is the lot of PQ leaders -- every single one of Boisclair's five predecessors -- to suffer an inelegant political demise.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

There's a song in my heart -- and that's where it's staying (670)
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I just started belting it out, the way I do in the shower or when I want to embarrass my children in the grocery store by singing along with the piped-in Phil Collins.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Stanstead, Quebec's new Granite Museum (900)
If all the bits and pieces fall into place, Stanstead's new granite promotion center will open for business before Christmas.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Passport to adventure or Strange GOP Ways
The blind fakirs of India, the Filipino zealots who hang themselves from hooks, and the tribesman on Mongolia who play polo with a dead goat have nothing over the people of this country who vote Republican.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Sisterhood is powerful - unlikely 'sisters' Boucher and Bourget rule Quebec City (730 words)
It's not often voters get to cast a ballot for mayor and opposition leader at the same time.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Off my back and out of my kitchen (580 words)
Our government knows on which side its bread is buttered. Headlines this week reveal yet another round of haggling about the sale of colored margarine in Quebec and I say palms are being greased.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

How I fixed the kitchen faucet and washed the kitchen floor before my wife got home from work and won! (670)
Back home, I shut the hot water off, unscrewed the tap, and removed the cartridge. The tap was in bad shape. The metal around the base had eroded and something was crumbling around the cartridge. It was either a cork washer or years of accumulated gunk - plumbing toe jam.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Influenzas
Last week, my local Vermont paper published its first annual list of Windham County's "Influential People." "I" wasn't included.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec scandal lassoes Matane bull (800 words)
The former political giant in Quebec now finds himself ousted for life from the party that begged him for help in forbidden regions of Quebec, caught up - with certain complicity, according to Gomery - in a web of illegal campaign financing flowing from the sponsorship program.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Nervous voter, not dead yet (520)
A lot can go wrong between my house and the voting booth. I could end up dead. Don't laugh. It happens.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Two twisted tales of terribleness (730)
"What can I get ya?" the one-legged waitress asked Jim and Sue as they settled at the Midonowhere Truck Stop.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

New PQ leader stuck with party's Unilateral Declaration of Independence plan (730 words)
In other words a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). No "formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership," as proposed in the 1995 referendum question. No mandate to negotiate an agreement with the rest of Canada to be approved in another referendum, as the 1980 referendum question promised.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

It's Halloween (400 words)
I can remember when gummies did not exist. I also remember when they hit the scene and there was nary a sour version to be found. Now, as an adult I'll admit to liking such concoctions and I suspect that if you purchase any candy at all for giving out on Halloween night, that you buy versions that you like. Leftover licorice Nibs anyone?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Get stickered, be happy (650)
If you have received a sticker, you have passed the morning without major incident - no tantrums, no biting, no flicking rolled up balls of dried Elmer's Glue and yelling "Boogers!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

(600)
Well, misterman, I was so friggin' pleased when I read how well Google is doing these days. I've never liked being screwed without being kissed, but in Google's case I'm making an exception.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

A Parliament of Pinheads
My, my, my ain't there just a heap of trouble in our little Nazi paradise on Pennsylvania Avenue? The chickens are coming home to roost in big ugly squadrons and they are bringing bird flu with them.
Jim Austin does not believe in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec Lucidites sound 'frozen in the status quo' alarm (700 words)
It's not considered politically correct to refer to Quebec society as a tribe - tribu - because it makes it sound insular and exclusive. But there is a more positive aspect to the notion of tribe that Quebecers have borrowed from the original occupants of North America.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Waiter for a day (600 words)
Life can be full of challenges and this week I experienced one first hand. A couple of weeks back I was approached by CBC-TV to participate in a series that portrays regular folk attempting to rise to a variety of work challenges.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

In Canada, I would put the "excellent" into "excellency" (675)
By now, our new governor general has settled in at Rideau Hall and you will have hopefully figured out how to pronounce "Michaëlle." I'm sure you join me along with all Canadians in wishing her an excellent reign.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Some quiet, please! (535 words)
I live on a charming cul-de-sac, where the only noise is the delighted laughter of children playing outside. There are several dogs, but they don't bark much, and from spring through fall most of the sounds I hear outside are birds chirping. But everywhere else the noise level is almost intolerable. I'm not just talking about muscle cars with boom boxes reverberating for blocks, or annoying music in stores and elevators.
Barbara Floria Graham is the author of the 20th anniversary edition of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing and Mewsings/Musings. Her website: www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

Senior citizen rebel runs for Quebec city hall (760 words)
There's a bit of a rebel in the average Quebecer, if you hadn't noticed. That anti-establishment streak finds varied expressions, from marriage rates (low) to motorcycle ownership (high.)
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

For your health care - leeches and maggots and hookworms (495)
despite what our modern naturopaths say, a couple of aspirins or a Tylenol sure beats the old eye of newt and tongue of frog thing you find in Shakespeare.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Hip, fast-talking, and cool. Not. (580)
If you are a baby boomer, perhaps this has happened to you. You are watching the news on TV and an advertisement comes on for a product aimed right at you. But you are put off by the quick editing…
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Let us give thanks (630)
Bless this food before us: the turkey, the mashed potatoes, the squash, the peas, and the Jell-O salad with the cottage cheese. On behalf of the children present, bless the dog under the table who will slurp up the Jell-O salad with cottage cheese that they surreptitiously slip to it.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

How about a turkey curry for Thanksgiving dinner? (580 words)
Perhaps you have wondered why Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving In October while our American neighbors to the south do so in November.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Quebec stocking up on Maple Leafs (740 words)
It hasn't been easy being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan in Quebec. It's like having an embarrassing disease that you rarely discuss in polite company.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

School Daze (740)
"I'm going to school again?" she said excitedly after Day 2.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Seagulls, a new taste treat, eh? (570 words)
We have created a world whereby our fast-food waste helps the proliferation of a species that is of little nutritional value. Indeed, there was a time when a good feast of seagull could be had with no worries.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Red, red wine makes you feel so fine -- a toast to Quebec's Pinot Abitibi (760 words)
Surprisingly enough Quebec vineyards are beginning to grow themselves out of mockery into something the world seems prepared to taste without gagging.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Isn't it ironic… (550)
Consider this: Local music and poetry legend Leonard Cohen was recently robbed of his life's savings while he studied Buddhist philosophy. One of the pillars of Buddhism is that material possessions are impediments to cosmic consciousness.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

(640)
The price of gas and oil may be at heart-palpitating highs but there's no reason why we can't make the best of it. What say we turn this energy crisis into an energy Christmas?.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The All-new Fall 2005 TV Season (465)
I see the new television season has started. Well, all I can say is don't hold your breath.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Boisclair's substance abuse in Quebec (730 words)
Andre Boisclair has taken a lot of heat for his criminal substance abuse while serving as a Minister of the Crown. While questions remain about the circumstances of his cocaine consumption - which biker gang was his dealer, for one - some critics are saying the young pretender to the Parti Quebecois throne is just as guilty of lacking substance in terms of policy.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Intelligent Design is where you find it, eh? (590)
I was struck by how perfect it was. The air. The sky. The water. That intoxicating smell of the ocean.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Home is where the hard-liner is (675)
As members of Branch 142 of the CUPW (Consistently Unappreciated Parental Workers), your mother and I regret to inform you that the stalemate in parent-child negotiations leaves us no choice but to initiate pressure tactics throughout the household starting immediately.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Calling all Cookie Monsters (340 words)
While the old saying that "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is appropriate, so is the following: "A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand."
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Deity Myth ()
I have a news flash for you all. The God of the Bible, the Koran and the Torah does not exist. We made him up like the Easter Bunny, Feng Sui, and the Tooth Fairy.
Jim Austin does not believe in Putney, Vermont.

Conservative Harper still stymied in Quebec (725 words)
Even if Harper gets dumped, questions may still remain in Quebec about who a new leader would lead and what they stand for.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Free, at last (515)
I once actually knew a girl named Romanoff who, from an early age, became known as Noodles.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

A man on a mission statement (630)
Of course, it's not only business that can benefit from a strong mission statement. Personal growth can also be anchored by the positive energy and free-flowing cross-purposing that is the mission statement.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Film Review: Mad, Hot Ballroom (550 words)
In the New York City school system, where public schools are filled with recent immigrants and kids crammed into a small house or apartment they share with many relatives, many of the students are talking about dancing.
Barbara Floria Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

QC weekly Stanstead Journal editor moves to daily Sherbrooke Record (195)
STANSTEAD, QC | Patrick Lavery, former editor of the Stanstead Journal, has joined the reporting team at the daily Sherbrooke Record. He was the fourth editor at the 160-year-old community newspaper in the past two years.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

I know a secret garden… (570 words)
There is a secret garden here on Montreal's West Island that rivals large outdoor produce markets in varieties of good organic and exotic veggies and fruits. Melons, peaches, pears, apricots, figs, sweet and hot peppers, exotic cross-bred tomatoes, asparagus, rare Japanese cucumbers, beans, squash and pumpkin, cabbages and potatoes are thriving here at harvest time.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

No horses lost (725)
For two days after Katrina hit our President remained on vacation in Crawford, Texas, with nothing to do but ignore Cindy Sheehan. While he was mountain biking the people of the Gulf Coast were dying. His government's corruption and incompetence has set a standard by which all future tin pot political slimeballs will be measured.
Jim Austin suffers, but not silently, in Putney, Vermont.

Labor eruptions threaten Quebec (685 words)
The unions say they need 12.5 over three years, retroactive to October, 2003, not including pay equity, plus resolution of a string of other issues. That's comes to approximately twice as much as the government has put on the table, or three billion dollars.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

And just where do old dryers go when they die? (665)
I kept hoping someone would just drive up and take it. In fact, we had a knock on the door one evening from someone asking us if the dryer worked.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

How to deal with an eggplant (485 words)
In various parts of Europe, people suspected that eating eggplant caused madness, not to mention leprosy, cancer, and bad breath, which is why eggplant was used mostly for decoration in England and the North America nearly up to the 20th century.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Passenger safety at Air Canada (490)
Air Canada announced it will be returning proper cutting tools to its dinner plates as of September 15.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The dog days of August (640)
So two Saturdays ago, we headed to the SPA and entered the Sucker Room (my name, not theirs), where all the dogs looked up at us eagerly from their cages as if to say, "Pick me, pick me. I'm the type of dog they write epic poems about. I'll bring your slippers. If you don't have slippers, I'll steal you some."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Hockey in QC: daring to dream (755 words)
In the decade since the Nords split, the economy of the Quebec City has diversified considerably, and while it is still a government and university town, there is new entrepreneurial blood that might be coaxed into a Colisée project.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

A corny end to summer (475 words)
What if I challenged you to eat 1600 kernels of corn? You'd guffaw, most likely.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

If it can go wrong, it will -- just wait a while… (700)
Think you had a bad week? Did your car break down or did an important e-mail come back undeliverable? Well that ain't nothin'.
Jim Austin suffers, but not silently, in Putney, Vermont.

No jokes needed - Quebec's Tongue Troopers make fools of themselves (600)
They are forcing The Monkland Tavern to vandalize a 50-year-old 'Tavern' sign that won a heritage award. Even though there is already one side in French, the English side has to go. So, the Monkland will have to trash the old sign and put up a brand new one, exactly the same except with an 'e' at the end of the word 'tavern'.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

RETURN OF THE BRANCH MANAGER (600)
FOOL'S HOLLOW, QUEBEC | Jim Jory is 80 now, but he's still a good man to have on your side when you have tree problem.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

PQ's Tennisman Legendre ready to serve (700 words)
It is not beyond reason that the former tennis star could be the next leader of the Parti Quebecois and premier of Quebec.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Quit squirming and read this (650)
I would like to pretend that I'm a slow reader because I mull over every word and ponder thematic implications and character motivation. Truth is, like many slow readers, I'm just plain fidgety.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Bond. James Bond, that's who… (535)
One of my favorite characters in the James Bond movies is Q. He's the guy who runs the department that comes up with all the neat, nasty stuff like exploding pens and magnetic watches with built-in buzz saws.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

I know what you did last summer… (480 words)
You planted garlic didn't you? Now, just when it would be time to reap your bounty you may have come up empty handed.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Quebec punkers rock the world (720 words)
The current international success of Simple Plan underscores the music renaissance now underway in Montreal, which publications like Rolling Stone, Spin, and the New York Times earlier this year proclaimed as the new world capital of rock.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Water woes can't be solved by individuals alone (530 words)
Over the past five years I've gradually removed all the grass from my front and back yards, replacing it with low-maintenance ground cover, river stone, gravel paths, and mulch around perennial beds.
Barbara Floria Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

I say, choose Canada's Head of State by - what else? - a lottery (580)
When I was in Cuba, the woman behind the money-changing counter asked me: "Please don't be offended, but why do you have the British Queen on your money? I don't understand. That would be like having the King of Spain on our money," she laughed, enjoying the absurdity of it.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

All together now, in a straight line… (470)
Just when you think our happy little fonctionnaires deserve the gold medal for bureaucratic bilge, something pops up that makes you happy to be a Quebecer.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Future Canadian Governor General's slave ancestors changed history (690 words)
"I have come a long way. My ancestors were slaves."
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Part2: There's Niagara on the Lake and then there's the other place (700)
A lot of people visit Notul every day, in every month of the year, and many of them are very tanned and very cool looking, and speak in many tongues.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Hot Yoga Redux (630)
I have lost 18 pounds in the past few months and I'm still closer to Jupiter that Mercury but I don't have to use the toilet brush to wash my feet anymore.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Nuke the zukes (680)
Why stress over planting a garden only to fret about eating it all? The only reason I can figure is that a garden is one less patch of grass to mow.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

There's Niagara on the Lake and then there's the other place (1000)
A lot of people visit Notul every day, in every month of the year, and many of them are very tanned and very cool looking, and speak in many tongues.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Is there a fish more coveted than salmon? (620 words)
Atlantic salmon is touted as the best in many circles, depending on which side of the pond you reside and I even found some at the market here saddled up next to its western cousin. It's hard to differentiate species by looks alone, unless you are a frequent and experienced salmon eater.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

It ain't over in Saudi Arabia, eh? (750)
Of the twenty leaders of the house of Saud since 1745, three have been assassinated, one executed, three deposed, one captured by enemies, two simply lost control and one, obviously seeing the writing on the wall, fled.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Jacques Francoeur no ordinary news baron (700 words)
Francoeur led a remarkable life that came to an abrupt end at age 80. He had been at one time among the select group of the most powerful newspaper owners in the province.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Listen to your mother, kid (700)
OGDEN, QC | James emerged from the water at Weir Park with blood streaming down his face. Not heeding the wisdom of mothers since time immemorial, he and a friend had been hurling mud at each other.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream (520 words)
If there were ever a time for ice cream it would be right now. These sticky weeks have prompted many trips to the store for frozen treats and the tab is adding up.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Naked came the strangers (600)
Apparently my fellow basker had opened his eyes and there, passing before him, were two young ladies wearing only what God in his wisdom had given them.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

How to spot a Quebec Anglophone (560)
If you can drive your car in rush hour while applying make-up, shifting gears, talking on a cellphone, honking the horn, and flipping someone the bird all at the same time, you could be a Quebec Anglo.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

A.P. Low - Canadian Iron Man Explorer (900 words)
For the past few weeks a team of four paddlers, outfitted with modern equipment and technology, have been retracing the route plotted along the Denys River in Northern Quebec by a little-known man who has been called one of Canada's greatest explorers.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Pre-paid gambling - it's a Quebec thing, dear ones (630)
The thing I hate about buying lottery tickets is the tedious wait in line at the store behind people buying unimportant stuff like food for their family. When I want to throw my money away on the faint hope of fortune, I want to throw it away now!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Burning Issue (680)
Didn't I tell you? Didn't I say, "Don't get me started on that flag burning issue?"
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Sing me a song of trouts (400 words)
I've been known to worship the art of angling. When asked if I golf, the inevitable answer has always been that it interferes with fishing. Last week, accompanied by some fellow anglers, I tickled a few trout on a very hot day. Who says trout don't bite in the middle of the afternoon?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Quebec and the next Governor General of Canada (670 words)
Assuming that a prime minister would not willingly risk offending people in a province where he badly needs to rebuild his party, the pressure would seem to be on Martin to name a francophone Quebecer as the new occupant of Rideau Hall and The Citadel.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

So you want to coach kids' baseball (660)
Based on my experience, all you need to coach 7- to 9-year-olds is this phrase: "You can do it." If you can say this and know your players by name (as in "You can do it, [child's name]" or possibly "Tu es capable, [nom d'enfant]") you're already qualified.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Consider the humble lentil (450 words)
The Lentil is most likely the oldest cultivated legume, and is believed to be native to southwestern Asia, perhaps northern Syria. Seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs dating from the 12th Dynasty (2400 B.C.), and there is also evidence of their cultivation as early as 6000 B.C.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Sir Sponge Bob and the 'anti-poverty' Musical Elite (580)
Now they can proudly say: No. Wait a minute. This is the real me - the saint who wants to end world poverty! That naked, coke sniffing, whiskey drinking, pussy hound you saw prowling the strip last night was someone else.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Day of the Fanatic (700)
Given all the terrorist activities around the world, combined with Britain's involvement in the war in Iraq, wouldn't you think that the first priority of the government would be to infiltrate the Muslim community?Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Itchy Septuagenarian encounters the Texas Chigger (670 words)
A heretofore unblemished waistline, though definitely expanded from yesteryear's Skinny Minnie, turned into a Texas Chigger's ball park, or a mating linedance.
Beverly Barrett writes in her native state of Texas.

Canadian iron ore boom looms (800 words)
The project foresees mining the ore and turning it into concentrate slurry at the Labrador site and then pumping it through a pipeline that follows the rail line south some 640-km to Sept Iles where it would be drained and turned into pellets at a new plant.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Family DVD Night or "No, YOU pass the popcorn!" (560)
The following is a transcript of a typical DVD-rental night in the Murray house. Present are two adults and four children, the youngest of which probably shouldn't be watching this selection anyway since it's PG13 but hopefully she's too young to be scarred by it.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The rich get richer (550 words)
"Greed has been severely underestimated and denigrated - unfairly so in my opinion. There is nothing wrong with avarice as a motive as long as it doesn't lead to dishonest or anti-social conduct."
Barbara Floria Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

A homegrown Canadian crisp (660 words)
Québécois separatists beware; this column is peppered and flavoured with patriotic flag-waving commentary and uses references to a proud Canadian federation of ten provinces and three territories.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Quebec protester's summer begins badly (690 words)
Philadelphia's District Attorney Lynne Abraham famously said if she could have charged Beaulieu with murder, she would have. Philly, it seems, is the wrong place to douse a cop with water.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Panoply of extremism (690)
So how do you feel now about voting for Bush? People in Florida, Ohio, and Connecticut who decided to swing over to the Republican side, are you happy with your decision? The country hasn't been this screwed up since the Civil War.
Jim Austin hits, catches, and chases balls in Putney, Vermont.

Pity the unhandyman (690)
As "helpers" go, he's the best. But there are few things more emasculating than mishandling power tools in front of another man.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Flaming Fajitas (525 words)
There is a run on propane and fruit stands are appearing roadside. Grilling meats fly off the shelf and barbecue manufacturers are rejoicing at our recent lucky spell of weather.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Montreal's West Islanders have a lot of balls (570)
Everyone seems to be involved in sweaty physical exertion of some sort, seeking health and longevity. And beauty. God, we have some good-looking people out here. All blond and tanned and fit. And that's just the seniors.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

The Great Canadian Short Story of Canadiana for Canada Day (775)
"Lord tunderin'!" Alistair cried as he took a mouthful of steaming maple-and-pemmican soup. "She's some hot!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Boisclair spoils Marois' Quebec party (720 words)
A recent poll bears out Boisclair's astronomical savvy. That CROP-La Presse survey asking Quebecers who best could lead the PQ to victory showed the 39-year-old, proudly gay politician way ahead of Marois.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Ice Cider - Give this Quebec wonder a try (460 words)
Every now and then I discover something worth bragging about. My latest discovery is ice cider or plutot cidre de glace produced here in Quebec.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Gays: Marriage is no piece of cake, eh? (580)
Those who wish to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman believe it is a biological and sacred trust endowed by our creator. Fertility is its purpose. Henry the Eighth proved this. He beheaded any wife who failed to produce an heir.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

O Canada born in a Quebec rink (720 words)
How strangely fitting that a country that celebrates two national holidays within the space of a week should have as a national anthem a tune composed by a religious mystic judge and a wounded Union army band veteran.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

How to catch trouts (225)
LENNOXVILLE, QC | Cause to have constructed a deep pond. Source it with constantly flowing cold, clean water. Stock it with speckled trout - locally, a loonie each at the hatchery.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Saving private robin (745)
The bird on the lawn Saturday afternoon was very much alive, hopping about and calling for its parents. The adult robins flitted about nervously, squawking frantically, like stockbrokers trying to dump Nortel.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Potato Salad Days (500 words)
What says summer more than potato salad? If you could identify the most frequent side dish served in the great outdoors, this common salad would definitely rank Number One in the world.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

In The Name Of The Father (580)
Tomorrow is the most important day of the year for many of us. It is a day when the unsung, the underappreciated, and the disrespected are finally able to bask in the sunshine.
Jim Austin basks in the bosom of his family in Putney, Vermont.

Makivik, an entrepreneurial Inuit marvel (800 words)
It seems odd that given the amazing dispersal of native peoples in North America that the ones known as the Inuit should have chosen to stay put in one of the most brutal and unforgiving environments on the planet.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

It's alphabet soup to moi, eh? (490)
Could it be we've got one too many acronyms? One too many SOPDIPS or MALPECS or cashdumps?
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Quebec's Bernard Landry: The Golden Years (660)
"It is not so important for our young people to have access to as many opportunities as possible. What is important is the collectivity and making sure it stays put. Besides, we have everything anyone could want right here. Only through isolation can we truly develop as a people."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

You say scallops, I say scawllops (505 words)
A trip Down East once taught me that you will be immediately identified as a visitor should you use an incorrect drawl when ordering this shellfish delight. You have to bone up on the local lingo when traveling.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Let's hear it for an Audible Anglo star (600)
And so now we Anglos who also speak French with an obvious accent - I was once harangued by an editor of La Presse with: "Yes, you speak French but you obviously don't live in French!" (the "You Anglo pig" was silent) - are encouraged.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

The accidental PQ leadership race (720 words)
You might call it the accidental leadership race. The contest to replace Bernard Landry is now underway amid reports that it never should have happened.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

And who shall be our Royal Highness? Just in case… (530)
If a federal election were held tomorrow probably the only safe liberal seat in the province would be Westmount....so, I guess it's about time to think the unthinkable and plan for an orderly separation.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Dear Tech Guy: My hard drive is soggy (720)
This week, I answer some of your computer-related questions. Why? Because Rule #1 of being a tech guy is pretending you know what you're doing, and in this regard I am vastly qualified.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Food Fare in the Not So Friendly Skies (530 words)
Flying on an airplane just isn't what it used to be. The good old days of rubber chicken and microwave apple crumble are a thing of the past, as I learned this past week.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Dance Lessons (665)
Lesson #2: When attending a wine-and-cheese, you quickly have your fill of cheese. Not so for the wine. Be warned.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Academicus Laudibilis (590)
We Austin's can trace our lineage back beyond Stephen Austin after whom Austin, Texas, was named. We go back to Ancient Rome and Emperor Augustine. Beyond that it gets a little hazy but there may have been an Austin involved in the early Druid movement. He was the guy who got paralyzed on mead and decided it would be a great idea to paint himself blue.
Jim Austin, a student of life, writes in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec's tender daycare trap (670 words)
Quebec's daycare program, even after Charest hiked the catchy five-dollar-a-day fee to $7, cost taxpayers $1.43 billion dollars last year.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

The Welsh, ah, the loving Welsh (500)
They actually carried out a survey of 918 Welsh males and found out that, after a decade, those who manage to get it on with their significant others the most had half the risk of death of those whose wife said "Not tonight dear, I have a headache.'"
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Remembering Mom's Salmon Burgers (500 words)
I remember not liking them much as a kid (sorry Mom) but recently for some strange reason I have been craving them. I love salmon and yet never asked Mom until recently for her recipe.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Ah, Belinda, we hardly knew ya (415)
Belinda has suddenly discovered she's Paul Martin's love child and actually believes in fiscal conservatism and same-sex marriages.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The dryer with something extra (700)
We got it home and stuck it in the basement. Phew! Still kind of stinky. The next morning, a horrible thought popped into my head: "Wait a minute. I know that smell. That's not a cat smell. That's a dead-thing smell!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

PQ prepares battle plan (790 words)
This gathering of the secessionist clans is particularly important because the PQ, looking at the dark cloud over Jean Charest's Liberals, believes it is on the cusp of power and needs to prepare in earnest for that eventuality.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

hot_yoga (745)
When I first heard "Hot Yoga" mentioned I thought it was something you might see on the Spice Channel starring that Star Wars character.
Jim Austin is getting bent into shape in Putney, Vermont.

Falafel Days (420 words)
The primary ingredient is chickpeas and many recipes call for soaking the dry versions overnight. I cheat and use canned when making them by hand but one can really save time by using perfectly acceptable dried mixes available everywhere in the ethnic foods section of your grocery.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Politics: It's about stuffing envelopes, eh? (700)
Much to my shame I have to confess I've been on the receiving end of the cash-stuffed liberal envelope. I've been part of the sleeze. I wallowed in the mud with the best of them.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

A previous Canadian minority scenario (830 words)
Your scribe happened to be in Ottawa the last time a minority government faced a nay-or-yea, do-or-die budget vote. Back in December of '79, it was, by cracky, when that young whipper-snapper Joe Clark let that crafty Pierre Trudeau back in.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

CIA? No way, it's CEO that's hot (500)
But what really gets my goat is that CEOs come up third. You have to think that here sex and money do make for a winning combination. After all how else could you explain Conrad Black or Donald Trump?
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

All you need to know about lobsters, eh? (400 words)
You can determine the sex of a live lobster by locating the small feelers behind the rear legs, right under the tail. On male lobsters, the feelers are hard, while on female lobsters, they are soft.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Harper-Duceppe e-mails (630)
I mean, look at the way it seems our heads are leaning together like we're about to share an intimate man-on-man moment. Disgusting (no offence). All we were doing, you'll recall, was conspiring to put the Martin government out of its misery.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

New Quebec separatist budget, same ridicule (800 words)
It wasn't supposed to be this way for Francois Legault. Were it not for Liberal Premier Jean Charest's stubborn unpopularity, the former airline executive turned Parti Quebecois star probably would be poised right now to plunge the dagger into the aging Caesar Bernard Landry, and seize the party crown.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Have some fun ~ eat some chili (400 words)
Worldwide chili cook-offs and national chili clubs are proof of chili's popularity and there are as many versions as there are ingredients. Not just anyone can make a good chili - It takes time and loving attention. Sure you can toss a packet of pre-made seasoning into a can of tomatoes and beans with accompanying hamburger for a quick fix but what fun is there in that?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

"He may be asinine / But he's still 39" (650)
I turn 40 later this year. I won't say when exactly because I'm afraid the civic parades might be too much of a distraction and interfere with my nap time.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

West Quebec? Bring on the next referendum. (585)
"Being as it is completely rational to let those people who wish to leave Canada to do so; but being that Canada has the right and duty to protect Canadians from being forced to live in a new nation-state of which they want no part; would you agree that Quebec should be partitioned into two new provinces; Quebec and West Quebec, Quebec being the province that wishes to secede from Canada and West Quebec being the province that wishes to remain in Canada? Yes or No?"
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Old warriors fight over separation pay (730 words)
Yves Michaud and Paul Tellier have pursued different paths in life. Earlier in their careers they fought on different sides of the Quebec sovereignty struggle. Now, in the twilight of their public lives, Michaud and Tellier face each other in a battle over corporate sovereignty.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Tequila Rose, she is a new friend of mine (445 words)
For readers who enjoy a nip here and there you may have noticed that tequila is in very short supply and has become very expensive. Premium tequilas are increasingly hard to find and shelves display non-aged white varieties that are apt to resemble paint thinner.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

In which Our Hero spring-cleans his car after a long winter (525)
I don't know about you but I don't get around to cleaning out the inside of the car much when the temperature falls below zero.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Let me say right now that I'm sorry about that (670)
Who among us hasn't been really, really sorry (meaning really, really hoping to avoid punishment), for instance, after coming home to an exasperated spouse who is ready to throw you out because you've yet again turned up drunk, belligerent, and both shaven and tattooed in places you weren't when you went out? Hello…?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Yea, Verily (680)
So when the Pope was giving his valedictory address last week he said, "If the secular trend continues Western Civilization is doomed." As a former Hitler Youth he should know about doomed regimes.
Jim Austin opines in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec - election aftermath. Maybe. (690 words)
By your scribe's calculations, if an election were to be held this week, based on current polling data, the Liberal contingent in Quebec would drop from 21 to eight.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Barbeque & Asian Coleslaw Time (750 words)
Walking the pooches made me very hungry indeed this past weekend as I strolled by house after house. Burgers and steaks here and there with hints of more adventurous flare- ups were noted. I caught a whiff of curry on one corner and a Greek infused oregano aroma at another.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Follow the money, see the sleaze (580)
About half the salary of a CEGEP teacher, a Montreal bus driver, a nuclear physicist and even a plumber will end up going to one of our governments; either in income, property, water, school, GST or some other creative taxation scheme. So then where does it all go?
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Thank God they're not taking MY house (345)
DERBY LINE, VT | Residents here breathed a collective sigh of relief on Wednesday when they finally saw what the US government has in mind for the revamped Customs/Immigration facility on I-91.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Tory Harper loosens Cannon from rouge roots (800 words)
Lawrence Cannon is as close to a genetic Quebec Liberal as they come. Few sons of the province have the same undiluted rouge blood coursing through their veins.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

It's spring, our Gallivanting Gourmand has crabs, and he's not sorry (780 words)
I was daunted at the prospect of putting my killing skills to the test. However, like lobster, once you get past the point of no return and plunge them headfirst into a rolling boil all sense of guilt disappears and lip-licking begins.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The scandal that brought the Murray house to its knees (770)
Day 3 of the testimony by Ross Murray before the Gomery Commission on the Canadian federal sponsorship scandal
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Ah yes, Spring cometh and frogs, too (740)
I've always loved frogs. As a youngster growing up in a semi-rural farming area I would don my wellies and trod off to the nearest pond at the first sign of warmth.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The hits just keep on comin' (700)
I woke up this morning with a feeling of optimism. I've just read about the new rule that Republicans have forced on the ethics committee.
Jim Austin has a very sharp boob tube in Putney, Vermont.

A legacy in ruins (625 words)
You wonder how the alleged perpetrators of the misdeeds, experienced businessmen and civil servants for the most part, expected to get away with their crimes, considering they involved millions of dollars in public funds, and that dozens of more scrupulous people were privy to what was going on.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

How to prepare Aztec testicles, otherwise known as avocados (650 words)
There are a lot of folks who shun this delicately flavored item as they simply do not know what to do with them. Sure, there is the all-important guacamole recipe that satisfies but many avoid buying them because they don't have a great shelf life and usually require immediate attention.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

I've got those slap 'em together and shove 'em out the door school lunch blues (650)
According to my calendar, there are only about fifty days left in the school year. I can't wait. That means the kids will be home and able to help me dig that moat around the house I've been working on. Plus, no more math questions I have to pretend to understand.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Education in Quebec rights? Say what? (620)
It doesn't make sense. The Supreme Court of Canada judged that francophones in Quebec don't have the same rights as anglophones.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

A short history of a long war (720 words)
You might wonder does the world really need another book on a war fought 250 years ago? While people who haven't picked up a book on history since high school or university might not catch the excitement, those who do have a passing interest in the passage of time know there is always something new to be learned about what has gone before.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Ah, the charmed life of the Royals (525)
I hesitate to use her soon-to-be title, Princess Consort. It sounds far too much like a name that would be better suited to the four-door version of the British Vauxhall. Or maybe the latest in bedside telephones.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The Pope: An Iron Legacy (710)
Since the '60s all but the most fervent First World Catholics have ignored Papal demands forbidding birth control. Even the Catholic hierarchy has been clamoring for a relaxation of these strict tenets for the past twenty-five years. This Pope would have none of it.
Jim Austin has a very sharp boob tube in Putney, Vermont.

Springtime is salmon time (450 words)
Is there a little more spring in your step lately? There is in mine.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

My favorite April Fool's carol: "God Jest Thee, Merry Gentlemen" (640)
We get so busy during the hectic April Fool's season, what with all the April Fool's shopping and the baking of the traditional April Fool's schnitzel, that sometimes we forget the true meaning of April Fool's Day: spending time with friends and loved ones and making them look stupid.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The (hydro) power of unrequited dreams (650 words)
The last time Quebec and Newfoundland tried to seal a deal to harness the Lower Churchill River the two high-rollers behind the plan were send scurrying for cover by angry natives.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

I finally got the piano, now let me tell you about our new bed (740)
A little while back I related the story of my misplaced piano. Well, for those of you who were wondering, and from the phone calls I received there were a few, the piano arrived safe and sound.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

HDTV - Bright, sharp, and pricey (750)
Since my dear old Dad brought home a 17-inch black and while Sylvania in 1956, I have been a devotee. I even wrote letters to Annette Funicello of the Mickey Mouse Club and received a photo back. The photo is all yellow and shriveled up now and, for that matter, so is Annette.
Jim Austin has a very sharp boob tube in Putney, Vermont.

Judging the judges (530 words)
In the end, it is judges who judge, who pass sentence, who decide upon appeals. We are all at their mercy. If they release someone, like repeat offenders who sometimes end up killing policemen or innocent civilians, or choose to keep someone like Robert Latimer in jail, we have little recourse.
Barbara Floria Graham is the author of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing, Five Fast Steps to Low-Cost Publicity, and Mewsings/Musings
www.SimonTeaKettle.com.

The F-word and other lyrics (690)
So what's a free-thinking, rock-'n-roll-loving, occasionally foul-mouthed parent supposed to do when the kids start bringing home music that contains "the word" and other reasonable facsimiles? Censorship?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

It's Canada, and the spending is easy, eh? (555)
This invoice says that Canadian flags were manufactured in China for five cents. You shipped ten thousand of them here and billed the government for $50 each. Then you billed the government for consultation charges of $500 an hour for 300 hours, an extra $150,000. What exactly was that for?
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Tempus for Charest to fugit? (730 words)
The battering the Liberals have taken of late at the hands of hordes of striking students suffering under ridiculously cut-rate university tuition fees is merely a shrimp cocktail entrée for the big buffet, when Quebec's civil servants' unions tuck in their napkins and demand more generous helpings.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Beer with added caffeine - not just another breakfast beverage, eh? (620 words)
Let's face facts. Humans have been programmed to consume and we are now no more than a bunch of Borg who will eat and drink any new thing that comes our way if it is marketed aggressively. We are programmed to receive, so to speak.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Don't you just love Canada's Gomery Inquiry? (500)
So far the good Mr. Gomery and the government's lawyers haave asked 36,000 questions. And so far the answer to 35,990 have been "I don't remember."
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Tossing his hat into the ring and all that (620)
This worked out pretty well for most, but this is Quebec and we must all do things the same way. We call this "working for the collectivity," although most other democracies would call it "benevolent fascism."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What fresh Hell... (700)
"What fresh Hell," you ask, "has George II and his merry band of planet plunderers got in store for us?"
Jim Austin opines from Putney, Vermont.

Race on for QC mayoral succession (740 words)
Municipal politics in Quebec City differs from other cities in Quebec, and perhaps the rest of Canada for that matter. That's because, although the evidence is all but invisible to the public eye - except perhaps the flag incident - parties are split along federalist and sovereignist lines.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Some thoughts about a special day for women (510)
Long before I was bored to death by Betty Friedan's "Feminine Mystique" or heard Helen Reddy warble "I am woman" I knew instinctively that women were equal.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Erin Go Bragh and please pass the cookies (570 words)
I'm not one for green beer. It brings back memories of youthful over-indulgence and I'll leave that libation for the truly Irish. I can wear a kilt but one of Scottish heritage.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

What if George Bush is right? What then? (570)
I'm not saying that Bush is right. I don't know that. How could I? I am not a clairvoyant. I am just saying that he could be. No one I knew thought Reagan was right. But he was. No one I know thinks Bush is right. But he could be.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Blue jeans, baby (680)
The point is that I am at once a fashion have-not and terribly insecure about looking like a buffoon. Being really cheap doesn't help. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the tremendous social pressure to look good.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Freedom of speech in a parallel world (780 words)
The case comes at a lousy time for CHOI. For starters, the station's lawyers found themselves on International Women's Day trying to paint the steadfast Chiasson as a tramp during the proof of character questioning.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Believe it. Or not. (610)
The soldiers either made an enormous mistake and are covering up, or they were trying to send a message that bargaining with insurgents will not be tolerated.
Jim Austin watches sports and the Bush administration from Putney, Vermont.

Teddy, Teddy, who gets a Teddy? (740)
No wonder the Armed Forces are short of equipment. One of DND's employees was sued for walking off with $100 million bucks. It seems while nobody was watching he used phony invoices to saunter off with the cash equivalent of a fully armed regiment of infantry.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

You want rice with that? (580 words)
I speak of rice, a basis for which humanity has anchored its hungry maw and I say get thee to the stove and put up some grains of the fluffy stuff.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

A man with a Plan (650)
Please find enclosed my schedule of Planning Days for the coming year. During these days, I won't be showing up for work.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Truce in Quebec-Canada fiscal imbalance war (yawn) (730 words)
Fiscal imbalance, for most people who have other things to do than contemplate the financial mechanics of Canadian federalism, is like a session with the hypnotist: "You are getting sleepy, very sleepy."
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Small stores: real people providing real service (570)
I celebrate the stores in my little village. And I am sure you, too, know a useful little local store for which you are grateful. You know what I mean, an enterprise that is more than a store - one that is a real resource.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Hockey: great game, lousy sport (670)
Here's one Canadian who doesn't give a rat's rump that the National Hockey League season is cancelled.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

No hockey talk of Nordiques revival (660 words)
The Nordiques left town, so it is said, as a direct result of the National Hockey League's failure to secure a salary cap in negotiations with players. That dispute lasted four and a half months and ended with a deal that launched player salaries into the stratosphere like some spectacular fireworks show.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

We need a winter holiday, now (540)
When it comes to a holiday in February, the average Canadian would celebrate Broccoli Day if it meant some time off.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Check this out, eh? (950 words)
Let's talk checkout lines. Specifically, let's talk about manners at the grocery store. Apparently, some folks don't have any and you know who you are.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand, and loves his stir fry.

Still longing for my stuff, UPS (500)
Bobbin Mill Road is a short, dead-end street. There are just seven houses on the right hand side of the street. My friend Charlie lives in the last house on the right.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Quebec unrest inspired Canadian flag (730 words)
As far as many Quebecers are concerned, they got their national flag on January 21, 1948, not February 15, 1965. That was the day Premier Maurice Duplessis, without debate or ceremony, ordered the fleur-de-lys hoisted above the legislature in Quebec City.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

So, you want to make hay with your wok? (650 words)
Before you suspect that I am promoting kink in this column let me remind you that the year of the rooster has begun and that the Chinese New Year has been celebrated for days. If you have ever wondered just why your stir-fry does not have that same oomph that you get at the restaurant you can be sure of one thing. Your wok is out of energy and breath or "out of hay" as the Cantonese refer to it.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand, and loves his stir fry.

Mister, have you seen my piano? (485)
Have you ever lost a piano? I don't mean have you ever had one taken from you, burned in a fire, sold to strangers. I mean lost, as in misplaced. You see mine's gone missing.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Get your buns off the table, eh? (660)
And that's the Canadian way - working together, making sacrifices jointly, and not ticking off the powerful Alberta beef lobby.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The world loves a good Dick joke (580)
Today I would like to discuss the Dick joke. And I don't mean George Bush's running mate.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Quebec faces dilemma on religion in schools (710 words)
The question of public funding for religious education exploded onto the public agenda in a rather ugly way last month when the Charest government decided to extend public funding from 60 percent to 100 percent for a network of Jewish schools - just as a previous Quebec government had done for Greek Orthodox schools - on the condition they form partnerships with English and French school boards.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Super Dull (770)
No doubt most of the audience wondered who that desiccated old geezer was who dominated the half-time festivities. For those of you under 40, he was Paul McCartney. The poor old Beatle doddered through some tunes from ancient history originally performed by him and a few long dead companions.
Jim Austin watches sports and the Bush administration from Putney, Vermont.

Will you be my lovely Valentine? (630 words)
Somehow, Mondays do not conjure up images of wild romantic abandon and although Valentine's Day falls smack at the beginning of a work-week, there is still hope for the hopeless romantic.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand, and resident romantic.

And why isn't Shaun of the Dead nominated? (660)
Haven't been to the movies lately? Feeling left out of the Oscar buzz because you have no idea what the movies are about? Don't know where to wager your kids' education fund? Don't worry; it's easy to pick the Oscar winners, even if you haven't seen the films.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Jamesians cash in on Quebec power projects (650 words)
All told, the Jamesians will be splitting up a $310 million pie spread over 50 years. Six million bucks a year may not seem like much, but, on the other hand, the recipients won't be affected all that directly by the Eastmain 1-A/Rupert/Sarcelle (EM 1-A) hydro project expansion, for which the money is compensation.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Please, not another evening of Shot-in-Buffalo-Hump-Saskatchewan movies (400)
Let me make this clear. Hockey is a great game to play and a super one to watch but it's still nothing more than organized shinny.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Going to a party with a cold? Count me out (575)
The cold that hit me made me feel one hundred years old. And usually I only feel eighty. It took a week out of my life. And I needed those days. I want those days back.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

No cheers for Bell Canada, eh? (635)
"No, no," I explain, "It's not an Internet problem, it's a telephone line problem. Your guys have done something to the wire connections up the road, n'est ce pas?"
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Jerking around with sports (660 words)
The upcoming Super Bowl will be the next good excuse for a gathering and one snack item will create a rush on poultry parts at the grocery store. While millions will watch the game, chickens everywhere better prepare their last wills and testimonies.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Hey lady, what's in a name? (360)
In retrospect, if, instead of telling Ms Copps to "have some tequila, Sheila," John Crosby had referred to her as a "hot mutton," the Speaker of the House would still be trying to figure out a ruling.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Bloc Head Duceppe faces leadership dilemma (780 words)
In his home province, Duceppe on the side of the angels on the same-sex and missile-shield issues, and, as a political performer, he's brimming with confidence, so much so that he toured Western Canada to preach the joys of Quebec sovereignty.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

It's a Guy Thing (680)
The hanging ceiling is a strange and wonderful invention thanks to the engineers at Armstrong. They developed a grid system that seems very shaky at first but which, when assembled, becomes rigid and strong. That's the theory anyway.
Jim Austin tools around in Putney, Vermont.

The stars came out at night (520)
Today's instant access to individual and myriad entertainment possibilities make the "Free Show" of the 1940s era difficult to comprehend. But, people living in Midwest farming communities during that time of gas rationing, few cars, and little money, attended those gatherings in droves. June through August - weather permitting - small towns provided a designated place for weekly free movies.
Frances Bevency Errion writes in Buskirk, New York.

What if youth ran politics? (675)
In last year's federal election, only 38 percent of 18-30-year-olds bothered to vote in Canada. Just think how much better some parties would fare with a stronger turnout of 21-year-olds? OK, the Green and the Marijuana parties would do better but that's not the point. The point is, how do you reach these young people?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Epidemic on the horizon! Food kills! And hold the salt! (880 words)
I have to ask -- is there nothing to eat that is not bad for us? Experts continually tell us to stay away from anything that tastes and makes us feel good.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Two Solitudes ~ from MacLennan to Mitsou (800 words)
Sixty years ago Nova Scotia-born, Montreal-adopted author Hugh MacLennan wrote the novel whence sprang the term that has ever since defined the relationship between French-speaking Quebec and the rest of Canada.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

No WMDs and all that (450)
Faced with the world's mightiest army racing across his front yard at about ninety miles an hour and his own soldiers tossing their boots off to be able to retreat all that much faster, it stands to reason if Saddam had them, this would have been a pretty good time to use them.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Relax, the US is winning (700)
We have no chance of achieving anything like the outcome that has been scripted for us by the zealots in this administration. We will reap only death and misery for both the Iraqis and ourselves.
Jim Austin writes it like he feels it in Putney, Vermont.

Green Peace was wrong about the seal hunt ~ Mea culpa, baby boomer moi (590)
Do I think Greenpeace will ever follow my lead and admit that they were wrong? Never. The Newfoundland fishermen whose lives they have destroyed can go jump in the sea for all they care.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

The Old Plonkster Weighs In (630)
With no end in sight for the SAQ strike, Quebecers are having to turn to other sources for their wine. Luckily, we live in a province where your next booze fix is just around the corner, at least until 11 p.m.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Arctic sea-change coming your way (750 words)
If you're a polar bear or walrus the news about climate change in the Arctic is not good. If, however, ice is an obstacle to you and not an essential of life, a whole new world of opportunity may be opening up.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Comes once again the lowly crock pot (560 words)
Here is an easy and hearty recipe to start you on your journey that you can cook on a snowy day: Boogie Woogie Beef.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Canadian provinces born in language debate (700 words)
Bourassa would return to Quebec embittered, and establish Le Devoir as the voice of Quebec nationalism. In the wake of the Alberta and Saskatchewan minority language drama he would write "we are bound to come to the conclusion that Quebec is our only country because we have no liberty elsewhere."
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

To Sir, with complimentary cocktail (660)
We find a moment to chat briefly about the new Canadian $20 and how she wishes we'd do something about that dreadful green, when Sir Ian McKellen barges in, and we all know how he is when he gets around queens! I slowly back away.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

I met a man from Pondicherry (700)
Suddenly, a vicious undertow struck. It sucked us under the water. We struggled to save the children. It was clear that we were lost. We saw our own three children waving on the beach. "We're going to die," said Martha.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Joe McCarthy: Back from Hell? (460)
Legions of liberals have spewed plenty of ink castigating the Bush-ferrets at the FOX network for their biased coverage of the news and their simpering toadyism as regards our two-term tyrant. Apparently their "right blight" infection is contagious.
Jim Austin writes it like he feels it in Putney, Vermont.

Year-end trivia quiz 2004 (1300 words)
It was a year marked by the departure of the Expos, but the comeback of the Bloc Québécois; the shame of the Quebec sponsorship scandal, but the triumph of Auditor-General Sheila Fraser; the asymmetrical vision of Premier Jean Charest, but the family feud of the Parti Québ&ea;cute;cois.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Food Trends 2005 (860 words)
Our mothers were told that margarine was a healthy alternative to butter. Now it turns out that Mom might have been killing us with trans fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Hope you had a good Christmas (600)
You won't get around to read this until after Boxing Day. After all, who has time to read excruciatingly funny, jet-setting playboy columnists when there are cookies and cats to decorate?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Walk a mile in their shoes (600)
Republican voters have ignored dishonesty, incompetence, ideological fanaticism, and corruption to vote their Ayatollah into office. Obviously, they are incapable of empathy.
Jim Austin writes it like he feels it in Putney, Vermont.

Dear Santa (460)
It looks like I'll do pretty well Anyway. I saw the love of my life checking out the prices on the new Lexus so I think I'm in for a real surprise come Christmas morning.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

My country, it's winter (800 words)
When it comes to enduring winter our countrymen and women of French heritage have about 150 years more experience than those who came afterwards to the Great White North from other, more temperate lands.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Little Drummer Boy, etcetera etcetera (645)
Christmas music is everywhere, starting sometime after Halloween. But really it has little Christian influence. No one ever hears N'Sync singing "O Holy Night" and thinks, "Hmmm, I must to church."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Introducing Sam Chatto, the (possible) King of the Brits (590)
For those of you untutored in the ways of the monarchy, primogeniture is the feudal rule that governs who can be the next to wear the Crown.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Good to go for corned beef hash (650 words)
Here is a classic recipe for corned beef hash. I trust Pierre Berton is making his version in the heavens.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

James of Nazareth, or Holidays are always hard for brother of Christ (600)
A 2000-year-old ossuary, a box that held bones, bears the inscription: "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Until now, all references to the three men have been found only in manuscripts. So this Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, I would also like to tip my hat to his brother James.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Scotsmen's Road - where the past lives on in Quebec City (840 words)
Beyond the door and to the right of a foyer hung with old portraits, up the wide, well-worn wooden staircase, lies what has been one of the best-kept secrets in Quebec City -- in Canada, for that matter.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

The Flashlight (670)
This wasn't just the tiny Maglite you can hold in your mouth so you can have two hands free to defuse a bomb in the dark (hey, it could happen) but the big four D-cell-battery-mother. The kind you hold above your shoulder and say in a deep voice, "Excuse me, Ma'am, could you get out the car? There's a-gonna be some friskin'."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Meet Canada's rich folks, and really rich folks (450)
The three Irving brothers, of New Brunswick - Gassy, Greasey, and Oily - still rank forth in filthy family lucre even though the province they own has one of the highest rates of unemployment and the lowest incomes in the country.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

All I want for Christmas (660 words)
I am prepared to carry the torch proudly for all Quebecois and present one of our best food products to the world. That's right folks -- I'm going to be the King of Cretons.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Bring on the Rapture (650)
Now that Torquemada (alias John Ashcroft) is out of here we can at least hope for an Attorney General that doesn't clap citizens in irons and hold them there until they confess.
Jim Austin writes it like he feels it in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec eyeing LNG market (720 words)
The resistance to LNG in Quebec is raising concerns that the province may be missing the boat - or tanker, rather - as the world shifts to LNG to satisfy the relentless consumption of energy.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

We're talking fat here (720 words)
I've never liked margarine very much...and I've always preferred a homemade piecrust made with good old-fashioned lard....but like most people, I've eaten more than my share of a recently identified heart-stopping killer.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

I'm feeling a little behind (680)
I was crushed last week to learn that once again I had been passed over as the Sexiest Man Alive.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tongue Troopers off mark with Quinn Farm (590)
Surely it can't be easy to wield the power of the State to persecute an honest, hard-working Notre Dame de l'Ile Perrot farmer who is known for taking children on tractor rides through pumpkin fields for having a sign in his store that reads 'Thank You for Not Smoking' without feeling mean and small-minded.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Unionizing Wal-Mart and Bonhomme Carnaval (700 words)
While Wal-Mart workers are slugging it out against the retail giant, another Quebec giant is also involved in a Labour struggle. Bonhomme Carnaval, the jolly winter festival mascot, let it be known last month he, too, wants to belong to the UFCW union, along with his support staff.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Who's your buddy, eh? Eh? (580)
Just because Bush thanked everyone from Andora to Zambia for their support after 9-11 before he thanked Canada, there's no need for alarm.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

How to kidnap, and other writing tips (580)
Dear Mr. Murray, I would like to break into the writing racket. Do you have any tips?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

How are you gonna keep 'em down on the family farm, after you bankrupt 'em? (450 words)
In the upper echelons of the agricultural game, leaders gain political support by doling out your taxes to the giants in the industry. If you have enough power to lobby you will profit. Down on the family farm, however, you'll be lucky to sell beef for peanuts.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Toboggan company slip-sliding way (700 words)
This year there will be no shiny Torpedo toboggans or sleds under the Christmas tree. Blame the Chinese or the ascent of the loonie, but the fact is a cherished Quebec-born Canadian product is kaput.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

No senior citizen, me (460)
Reading the paper the other day I noticed no fewer than three articles dedicated to boomer angst at aging.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The family that couldn't stop sneezing (650)
When I was a kid, I had a book called The Man Who Couldn't Stop Sneezing. It was about a guy who goes to great lengths to find the source of his non-stop nasal aggravation. He throws away all his possessions, rips off his clothes, and essentially goes berserk, until finally he moves into a cave in the woods with only his faithful dog for companionship.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

It's not too bad up here, eh? (580)
Ask a Canadian: "How's it goin', eh?" And you won't get back: "Great!" At best you'll get: "Not Bad."
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

And don't forget the Chinese frog legs (680)
I had to question why some diners were at a Chinese buffet at all, since so many were filling up on onion rings, french fries, and other not-exactly Asian dishes. What exactly was the attraction of the cocktail sausages in sauce? The bacon-wrapped sausages, sure, but cocktail weenies?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Nouvelle France -- the next conquest? (680 words)
Can a romance set during The Conquest conquer the hearts and wallets of movie-goers? That's the $35 million wager the producers of Nouvelle France have placed on the would-be blockbuster that opened in French in Quebec theatres this week.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Sucking 'em up, slurping 'em down (700 words)
The slurping season has arrived! If you are an oyster lover, you are among the millions who anxiously await the arrival of fresh bivalves from eastern and pacific shores. Get out your shell-shuckers and get ready some large linen napkins for a feast of seaside proportions.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Curling: sport of geeks & scientists (700)
Curling is a sport the way golf and bowling are sports - you can drink while you're playing and it actually improves your game.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

It's about sacrifice for others (760)
It's easy to forget in the midst of this day of remembrance how difficult life was for those left at home. Behind every soldier, sailor, or flyer was a family. Maybe a mom and dad. Maybe some siblings. Maybe a wife and children.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Quebec honours Black stars (730 words)
There was an intriguing symmetry - or should that be asymmetry - to the recent conferring of honours on two Quebecers of African heritage.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Now you done it, America (680)
This year, 51 percent of the electorate took a stroll in the yard, pried the lid off the septic tank, and dove in. The problem is that those simpletons took all 49 percent of the sensible people along for the ride.
Jim Austin writes it like he feels it in Putney, Vermont.

Chow down on chowder (665 words)
Early French immigrants to Canada made a hearty soup called Chaudree from salt pork and fish. (Chaudree derives from the Latin caldaria or caldron.) When Breton-inspired Chaudree crossed the Canadian border and moved down the eastern seaboard of the United States, 'chowder,' American-style came into being.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Alberta: Good country, good folks (580)
We arrived at the Daysland Motel at 2 p.m. We had spent a lazy morning driving through big-sky farm country via Vegreville, stopping to eat brunch and see The World's Largest Easter Egg. The lady at the desk smiled.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Dear Dubya: No hard feelings, right? (690)
you pulled it off, this time without the Supreme Court. Now you can actually say you were elected! It must feel good to finally have democracy on your side. Take THAT, Michael Moore! And Daddy!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Remembering (400 words)
I'm providing two recipes that will satisfy any gathering on Remembrance Day. The soup will warm those that have made their way from chilly outdoor tribute activities and sweet-toothed connoisseurs will love the cookies.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Cirque founder has Massif plans (730 words)
It's not just anyone who can buy a mountain. But if you've turned a band of clowns, fire-breathers, and stilt-walkers into a global entertainment empire, anything, it would seem, is possible.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Any questions? (690)
They lied to us and then went to war for reasons that are unknown to most of us. They are simply garden-variety war criminals.
Jim Austin lives on the edge in Putney, Vermont.

Three Halloween spleen-tinglers (750)
Once upon a time in a scary one-bedroom apartment there lived a witch who owned a giant floating eyeball. This eyeball was like a crystal ball in that it could see the future. It was unlike a crystal ball in that it had an eyelid and was generally creepy. All floaty and blinky like.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tell 'em to take a hike (560)
The OECD just issued a report that chastises Canada for spending too much time providing "baby sitting" instead of early childhood education. Apparently we just let the little nippers sit around and play instead of giving them a good grounding in mathematics, physics, and literature to ease their way into kindergarten.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Fixing federalism, from Meech to Belgium (650 words)
Canadians usually only think of Belgium around this time of year when Remembrance Day draws attention to the thousands of innocent and brave Canadian soldiers who died freeing the country from the deadly nationalism of the Kaiser and then Hitler. But thanks to Conservative Opposition Leader and potential prime minister Stephen Harper, debate about the land of Flanders and Wallonia is sprouting out all over.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Halloween Boogers on a Stick (500 words)
There will be many parties for little goblins this coming week and you'll need to serve up some ghoulish treats. The kids will enjoy these gross-out items.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Take a walk on the mild side (700)
Preparing for our first walk this morning, Abby freaked because I would let her bring only one purse instead of two. It's the latest in her long list of obsessive-compulsive behaviors that go by the name of "toddlerhood."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Yanks Tank. Thanks. (700)
Clemons, as you know, is the embodiment of all that is wrong with the world. Had he been born with a normal arm he would work in an adult bookstore or sell methaphetamines to children for a living. He should have a bolt through his neck.
Jim Austin lives on the edge in Putney, Vermont.

No shoe-in, this party (600)
We knew we were in trouble when we saw the sign that read: "Kindly remove your shoes!"
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Great Canadian quest - the unkindest cut of all (670 words)
The CBC's quest for the Greatest Canadian came up with a Top 10 that includes four politicians, three men of science, two hockey luminaries, and one cancer-stricken hero. The distaff faction of Canadian society will notice none of their number made the cut, while only one Quebecer, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, made it to the pantheon of greatness.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

There's nothing quite like a nice cheddar (620)
I'm not sure what makes Vermont cheddar so good but, combined with a few local apples, you've got a dish fit for a king or queen. As history reveals, cheddar has been coveted for centuries and has established itself as the cheese of choice for northerners.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Sox or Talks? (715)
Did you watch the ball game or the debate? Were you more interested in the outcome of a contest between a bunch of overpaid steroid freaks or a dialogue between two men vying for the title of "most powerful human on the planet"?
Jim Austin is a Putney, Vermont, writer.

Rethinking those school laptops, now that my daughter has one (700)
It's wonderful to have an Apple in the house again. They've improved so much since the last time I worked with one. There are some new, very important features, like the way windows swoosh closed as if they're being sucked into a black hole. Then there are the gently soothing screen-savers featuring undulating nature scenes. Why, it's just like a life-insurance commercial.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Pop not so fresh, Martha in stripes (500 words)
Veteran Pillsbury spokesman Pop-n-Fresh has died of a severe yeast infection. He was 71. Fresh was buried in one of the largest funeral ceremonies in recent years.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Greenie Quebec's polluting cars defy Kyoto (630 words)
Quebec's involvement in the global process, plus the generally holier-than-thou attitude of a province that gets most of its energy from damming rivers rather than burning fossil fuels, helps explain the province's passionate embrace of Kyoto.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Hey, we don't live here for the politics (590)
As we all know, Americans move to Canada for three reasons: (1) higher taxes (2) lower pay and (3) the winter.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Darth Vader vs Dudley Doright (690)
I just hate it that we have to choose between two oily incompetents and two reptiles of doom. You know that thing on Edward's lip? That's the nozzle where they fill him up with pureed partisan baloney every time the political winds change.
Jim Austin is a Putney, Vermont, writer.

New WW2 book recounts how Nazi subs sank boats, killed Canadians and others - in Canada (760 words)
Nathan M. Greenfield's The Battle of the St. Lawrence: The Second World War in Canada is as chilling a tale as its title is startling. It may come as a surprise to many Canadians unfamiliar with the details of the Second World War, but the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the river itself were the theatre of a deadly struggle between Allied vessels and Nazi U-boats.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Hip advice for Country Newbies (680)
The 2005 Newbie Farmer's Almanac is now on sale. In a tradition going all the way back to 1987, our almanac provides information, lore, false hopes, and condescending advice to the newly affluent who are hell-bent on systematically gentrifying semi-rural areas and who don't feel "authentic" unless they're pushing up a crop of peas.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Say, have I got a tip for you (780 words)
If this rant classifies me as a cheapskate, so be it. I have a gripe that has been bubbling just under the surface that I must vent.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Local Canadian Customs officers busted for marijuana smuggling (345)
Rose Chetrit Palmer, 51, a 20-year veteran Canadian Customs official is facing charges with eight other Stanstead, Quebec, residents of allegedly smuggling hundreds of pounds of marijuana into the United States.
Gordon Alexander is a Vermont-based journalist.

And justice for all? Not if you're in Quebec (590)
This last slogan, recalling the Front de Liberation du Québec, a terrorist organization famous for bombs, kidnappings, and murder, is key. It was written to intimidate the community.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

It's debatable (670)
I tuned in on the off-chance that George would forget what state he was in or Kerry would finally lose it and kick George in the groin. I was disappointed at the civility shown by both men but impressed with the give and take.
Jim Austin is a Putney, Vermont, writer.

Quebec football boom overshadows Expos' doom (765 words)
Okay, so they're gone. It's probably not the best comparison given the latest case of assisted suicide in Montreal, but the Expos simply had to be put out of their misery.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Antigua, Moi, and Northern Dancer (520)
Just this week, in anticipation of $75-a-barrel oil, I went to my friendly banker to establish a line of credit. I reckon about $20,000 will get me to and from work this year.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

First, drag a speckled toad by a hind leg… (680 words)
I've been thinking it's time to put it to bed for the winter. I've got lots of herbs and herb seeds to think about and perhaps you do, too.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

On the street where you wave (670)
It also seems to me that for every three trucks that go into the United States, only one comes out. What happens to the other two? Do they just stay, the drivers lured by the promise of better lives and extreme makeovers?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Methane-powered electric plant delayed (300)
COVENTRY, VT | Plans to construct a 5-megawatt methane-powered electrical generating plant at the massive Casella landfill here have been temporarily stalled by the state Public Service Board.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

The year I went to driving school (670)
I'm not a great driver. I'm not a danger on the road but I have to admit I'm no Gilles Villeneuve either. I'd like to think it's because I don't really like to drive. I'd much prefer the passenger side of any vehicle.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Everybody's talking about "Tout le monde en parle" (670 words)
The Radio-Canada version of Tout le monde en parle has aired twice so far (as of this writing) and, true to its title, everyone is talking about it, so much so that it drew more than 1.5 million viewers, the top program the week it debuted.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Good Old New England Boiled Dinner (540 words)
Tasty, hearty, and nutritious it consists of corned beef brisket and vegetables -- usually potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage, and turnip.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

"I went to Canada and all I got was mugged" (700)
The US Federal Mug Agency, meanwhile, is trying to crack down on the importation of Canadian mugs, claiming that they may be "unsafe."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The Weak in Review (575)
Let's rejoice over another little ray of sunshine brought to you by the GOP. I'm talking about the expiration of the ban on assault weapons.
Jim Austin is a Putney, Vermont, writer.

Eastern Townshippers survive shock therapy (675 words)
Frankly, no one's doing much serious lobbying these days for minority language rights, Quebec now being in a state of relative "social peace" as the late premier Robert Bourassa liked to call the Silence of the Anglos.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Securing America Forever (550)
To continue to reward the affluent and powerful, insure the domestic tranquillity, and present to the world a united front, we need to re-order American society once and for all.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

Summers_end Stew (550 words)
Those who return from work and school will be delighted with the smells and aroma upon entering the house. There is something so comforting about a one-pot meal loaded with vegetables and meat.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The day the cat walked in (670)
Earlier this year I was relishing our home's single-pet status. We were down to one self-contained hamster and that's the way I liked it.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Tory deja vu 20 years later (665 words)
Twenty years ago this week I got laid off for the first time in my life, and frankly, I was kind of glad.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Send in the clowns (700)
If you are going to stroll through this year's political arenas, don't wear your best shoes.
Jim Austin is a Putney, Vermont, writer.

You're not going to eat that, are you? (715)
Imagine this: You're sitting at home, reading your newspaper. It's getting close to suppertime. There's a knock at the door. You open it and there's a stranger standing there holding a pot. "I've got this leftover food. Do you want it?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Fried green tomatoes, and more (570 words)
Let me guess. You've been griping about the bounty of green tomatoes that you have successfully grown this summer. You are not alone.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Touristas on Sulfur Mountain (770 words)
It's ironic-people living three times as far away from the Rocky Mountains as any Canadian are more excited and willing to visit them than we are.
Leo Gervais teaches journalism at Concordia University in Montreal.

PQ leadership game of cat and mouse (715 words)
The shadow campaign will last six months, from October to March, in which Landry and Marois, and probably fellow former PQ minister François Legault, will fight it out at the riding level for party delegates who will go to the convention and vote for or against the 67-year-old Landry's continued leadership.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Cartoon character, moi (516)
They say we all have a doppelganger - a twin of sorts out there somewhere. This is convenient if you need someone to blame for going bonkers at the McDonald's drive-thru, not so handy when your twin keeps cashing your paycheques.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Sweet Corn: Readers Respond (600 words)
A recent column about innovative things to do with fresh corn revealed that readers are willing to take up a challenge when prompted.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Golf &a grave; la Marquis de Dorion Rules (600)
My son had been trying to get me out on the links for weeks. He had been playing Tiger Woods Golf on his Nintendo Game Cube and so he thought: "This is easy!"
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

What might have been (574)
Back in the Dark Ages when I was a lad, I too dreamed of glory. There was only one problem. My body.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Quebec's Liberal government takes time-bomb ride into the Tunnel of Debt (715 words)
In a recent article in La Presse, noted engineering accountant Jean-Claude Huot compares the Laval Metro boondoggle not only to the Montreal Olympics, but one of the biggest bloated budget scandals of them all, the Euro Chunnel linking France and England.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Armchair Olympiast (730)
I am a rabid Olympicaphile. Every two years, whether it is the Summer or Winter variety, I am velcroed to the barcalounger.
Jim Austin is a Putney, Vermont, sport.

Pretty swift, sort of high, reasonably strong (670)
Welcome to Day 6 of the Average Olympics. So far the competition here in Athens, Ontario, has been mundane beyond all expectations as athletes of typical build and fairly ordinary background compete for Olympic mediocrity.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

False issues, false promises (680)
There are lies and there are damned lies. Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge trotted out a whopper in my opinion.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Can those naked-guy ads, eh? (400)
I've got nothing against the human body per se but if I see one more youthful, sculpted toosh on prime time I'm going to go mad.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Charest's buddy Parizeau to the rescue (720 words)
With his plan for a "coup d'etat," as a leading editorialist called Parizeau's referendum-election strategy, the former Parti Quebecois leader would seem to have taken the sweaty spotlight off the Liberal premier for the coming fall session.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

An old jock tries LSD… and loves it (666 words)
"Wow..." she said, taking a deep breath, not quite believing the immense sight unfolding before her eyes. "That's great."
Leo Gervais teaches journalism at Concordia University in Montreal.

Put the pot on to boil, Ma, we've got fresh corn (700 words)
Here in suburbia, I gauge the annual arrival of a good corn crop by the number of impromptu roadside stands and resulting near-traffic-mishaps as lollygaggers decide whether to stop to get some or not.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Spare the meat, spoil the child (690)
Our daughter Abby has a metabolic condition called tyrosinemia, that, untreated, makes certain proteins toxic. It is controlled with medication, specialty foods, and a highly restrictive diet, allowing her to live a normal life. Abby also had a stroke a year and a half ago but recovered quickly.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Crazy as a shithouse rat (220)
COVENTRY, VT | You've always loved the music of the Phish. They're your heroes. You'd lay down your cape over a mud puddle for them, you'd give them all your money.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

Mont Tremblant no Mickey Mouse project (800)
"Disneyland" was the derogatory description some of the locals used when Intrawest began its extreme makeover of the slumbering giant called Mont Tremblant a decade ago. Those locals, however, probably didn't need a job.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Lo-tech Guy meets 21st Century (475)
my first hint that I might be looking at something new came recently when I slid a tape into the slot and pressed play. What followed was three ka-chunks and a grrr noise reminiscent of gears not quite meshing. The machine then spit the tape back out.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Peaches, glorious peaches (525 words)
Rub a peach against your cheek and smell the heady scent that only a peach can provide.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Clarity Act: Last line of defense against Pols use old bait-and-switch technique (600)
Bait-and-switch is a deceptive sales technique. You advertise one product to attract customers. That's the bait. When they arrive they find out you are really selling something else entirely. That's the switch. It's considered a form of business fraud.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

"Hey, kids, let's play bare-toed croquet!" (700)
Bored with the same old family gatherings? Cringe at the prospect of hearing Uncle Felix drone on about his spleen? Undergoing the scrutiny of your in-laws doesn't give you that life-on-the-edge thrill it used to? Well, take family gatherings to the next level and dive headlong into the pulse-pounding world of Xtreme Famlee Ree-U-nions©!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Does Canada need/want a broadcast censor? (950)
So who needs the CRTC to dictate what people should hear or see? The reaction to the CHOI decision has been all but unanimous in declaring the regulatory body anything from archaic in its prissy approach to public sensibilities, to irrelevant for its vain struggle against the gray market of satellite and the unbridled content on the Internet.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Dem Convention Capers (675)
Kerry stood in front of the mound and tossed a 40-foot girlie-lob to a ceremonial catcher from the armed services who muffed the short hop. Clearly, Kerry would have been much more successful if he had cantered out on Bucephalus, his polo pony, and drilled a 150-foot mallet shot from center field.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Spank your watermelon. I do. (630 words)
The interesting thing is you are paying for a lot of water and that is exactly what you are looking for. A heavy melon reveals a good dull resonance when spanked properly and a melons' watery content is worth its weight in gold. Far better to hydrate oneself with this elixir than bottled water, I say.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

All smiles on a Sunday in Ontario (535)
So there we were, eighteen people crammed into a photo studio about the size of a double phone booth. The photographer, whose first language appeared to be Spanish, vainly attempted to arrange us around our parents by generations, all the time shouting commands based on colour of apparel.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

An old jock tries LSD… and loves it (770 words)
I tried LSD for the first time a few years ago, but now I'm really starting to like it.
Leo Gervais teaches journalism at Concordia University in Montreal.

You, sir, are a divot! (660)
WHEREAS the accused, Ross Murray, sometimes plays golf at the Club, whereby "golf" is defined solely on the act of hitting a dimpled white ball into 9 or 18 holes without consideration for the number of strokes it takes to do so, even if it takes a really, really, really tremendous amount of strokes. Like, really tremendous;
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The Olympics: They're not about Quebec politics (700)
Quebec's Olympic delegation is surprisingly diverse, with athletes in almost every event from badminton to baseball. Quebecers dominate judo, synchro swimming, water polo, and diving.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

It's J. E. L. L. O. time (615 words)
If I wanted an extreme Jell-O experience I would sky dive or bungee jump with my shorts stuffed with gelatin. Better yet, I'd stuff my shirt with X-treme Grape and get into the mosh pit at a summer punk concert.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Imperial Bush (670)
Why is he padding along on little pussy feet talking about benign issues while Bush is being measured for the purple robes of imperial ruler of a new American empire?
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Has it really been 20 years? (630)
Dear Class of '84, as your valedictorian, I'm sure you're asking yourselves two questions: first, "Didn't you do time?" and second, "What pearls of wisdom can you offer us twenty years after giving a rousing valedictory speech that still rings mightily through the corridors of John Hugh Gillis Regional High School?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Quebec maintains clout in Martin cabinet (800)
Okay, my crystal ball must have been a little fogged over and Beauce MP Claude Drouin, the only Liberal elected east of Montreal, didn't quite make it into Paul Martin's cabinet as I had speculated a few columns back.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Democracy by force (680)
We have found that if you force feed democracy like a French goose you do not get foie gras. What you get is an olio of violence, confusion, torture, and the beginnings of a legacy of hatred that may take decades to diminish.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Ladies' Night Out (630 words)
When the girls arrive for their get-together, they will be toting fruit, veggies, and wine coolers. This is in stark contrast to a man's weekend full of beer and hot dogs.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The world-famous gardens of Quebec (860)
It's an intriguing fact that Quebec today would not boast two of the most awe-inspiring gardens in North America had it not been for the desire for the country life of a railroad baron and some Boston Brahmins.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

To grill, perchance to feast (700 words)
"I'm a man. Men cook outside. Women make the three-bean salad."
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Why do you think cops love 'em? (580)
He whirled around the entire group. Then he grabbed my nine-year-old daughter who was a good head taller then him and began dancing with her. Then, other kids followed his lead. Yes, kids were spontaneously dancing to the 1950s music in the Krispy Kreme shop. All hopped-up on sugar.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

So one little tree let me down… (630)
Up in the air, Junior Birdman
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Quebec culture, North American-style (740)
Gilles Duceppe is right about one thing, Quebec really is different. The best evidence of that is not fiscal imbalance, language laws, nor nationalist tug-of-war - it's culture, baby, the swirling, intertwined, star-driven, festival-mad, barrier-breaking madness that makes up the French-language arts and entertainment scene in this gathering of some seven million souls.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Berry delicious (485 words)
There is not much that is better than biting into a sweet, juicy strawberry. Red juice dribbles at the corners of your mouth and children delight in red-stained clothes and faces.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Let freedom rain (735)
OK, here's why it could not have happened: First, there is no way in the world that a C-student from Crawford,Texas, could extemporaneously come up with the phrase "Let Freedom Reign!" Even if he could there is no way George could spell reign. Or know what "sovereign" means for that matter.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Fearless prediction for Beauce MP Drouin (730)
If PM Martin hopes to rebuild the federal Liberal Party in eastern Quebec in time for a rematch with the Bloc in the next year or two, Drouin, the only Grit left standing in the vast expanse of francophone ridings, will have to be his go-to guy.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Soloing and cooking at the same time (650 words)
Today I offer hope for the many men out there who are single or will be spending a day or two on their own while the missus is out of town.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Which side are you on, les boys? (580)
Quebec is going through a period of relative cultural peace. Kind of dull, isn't it? The only people talking about sovereignty these days are blowhard-liners who worry about English-only toys at Zellers.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Love letter to Bernie Sanders (600)
Vermonters are so lucky to have a representative in Washington like Bernie Sanders. Why he got into politics is a mystery to me.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Cheated, democratically of course (500)
So town after town whose voters had actually endorsed de-merger were being refused it, because all non-votes were being treated as 'No' votes. I say that just in case you are the type of person who leaves democracy up to your fellow citizens and doesn't bother to vote because they think it will make no difference.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Duceppe: The QC Bloc's Great Helmsman (760)
For starters, despite their soothing disclaimers, the sovereignists forces will use the results of Monday's vote as clear-cut evidence that Quebecers have rejected the federal system. And, as Parti Québécois leader Bernard Landry has confirmed obligingly, a major Bloc victory will bring Quebec closer to another referendum.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Steak for Dad (630 words)
Perhaps you can indulge him by picking up some premium steaks, russet potatoes with fatty sour cream and butter and a beverage accompaniment. If Dad is a vegetarian, I don't know what you'll do but you can figure it out.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Sucking it up in the good old summertime (700)
I rented the film Swimming Pool the other night. I thought it was a how-to video on pool care and maintenance but it ended up being about a frequently nude sex kitten. I was very disappointed.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

What's new (670)
Was he drunk? What the hell was he talking about? A pickle? It must depend on your definition of "pickle," I guess.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec Conservatives, past and future (840)
This may be as good a time as any to reflect on the Mulroney miracle in Quebec -- how, in the space of an election he, like a casino dealer spreading out the cards and flipping them, transformed red to blue.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Saint Ronald of Tampico (670)
This hero worship combined with a shameless distortion of facts is chilling. If the media can turn a second-rate President into a legendary figure of compelling wisdom in a week, what else can they do?
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Working Dads 'do' list (570)
Are you a stay-at-home dad? Do you pride yourself in flouting traditional gender roles by being the primary caregiver and household manager? At the same time, do you wish you had taken a few Home-Ec classes so you would know the difference between basting a turkey and basting a hemline?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Seek you the simple leek (600 words)
Unlike the occasionally sharp bite of a scallion or onion, the leek imparts delicate, garlic infused taste when used correctly.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Remember the Alamo, eh? Vote on June 20 (580)
"Surrender!" they cry. "You cannot win." We answer with cannon shots. Pata-ping, Pata-poom, Pata-pouf!
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Wild speculation on sponsorship consequences (860)
Permit us a bit of wild speculation in suggesting that a wayward plan to keep Quebec in Canada could very well end up precipitating another battle over sovereignty.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Where you live is where you vote (480)
When the Canadian government decided to institute a permanent voters list everyone was all smiles.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Eat right from your back lawn and save (650 words)
No matter how you slice it, the price of gas will even impact the price of pizza as outlets download increased costs for delivery.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Which way to the wasabi? (670)
Among the beef, pork, and chicken were bison meat and horse meat. Emily, my oldest, conceded that she might try bison but never the horse. We've had this conversation before. On the rare occasions Deb and I have lamb chops, I like to hold up the meat and go "Baa-a-a…," which usually generates a sneer.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Two minds on two-tier health care in Quebec (740)
According to a Leger marketing survey released this week, Quebecers are in fact wild for private health care, much wilder than anyone else in Canada.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Old Time Hockey (775)
Maybe the reason nobody watches hockey anymore is because of helmets and mouthpieces. I mean who would watch boxing if Tyson had to wear a helmet? He'd have a heck of a time getting at his opponent's ear if it was covered in three inches of foam padding.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Buns of cornmeal (650)
A new gym opened in town recently called Figures. It's for women only, along the lines of the competing franchise Curves. It's doing a bang-up business, or at least I believe it is about the only businesses around here I'm not allowed to enter. That and the hair salon downtown ever since the "Blue Rinse Episode."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Lobster: the red-shelled treat (580 words)
What has two claws and a tail and costs as much as a bottle of good red wine? A lobster, of course.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Only one way to show 'em - at the ballot box (600)
The bullies who shove laws down our throats count on our apathy. They laugh at us. They spit in our faces. They are confident we will never get thirty-five per cent of all registered voters to bother to vote.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Conservative quest for Quebec seats (745)
Minority government scenarios being spun at this early stage of the federal campaign in Canada assume the Conservatives will do well in Ontario and in the west but be shut out in Quebec.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Iced Frappuccino hits the spot (400 words)
The arrival of iced coffees on the East coast a couple of years back signaled our desire to be as hip as the West coast where wide-eyed and zoomed coffee slurpers unite.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Ah, those DVD 'extras' (680)
We were tickled in the Murray house earlier this year to get our first DVD player. This is a giant leap technology-wise. We don't even have cable in our house.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Electrode Diplomacy (750)
What a bizarre pass we have come to in this country. I wouldn't have believed you if you had said that our military would be torturing and sexually abusing incarcerated Iraqis.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Paul Martin's unfinished business in Quebec (800)
the Liberal problem in Quebec seems to go beyond the fleeting sleaze of the sponsorship affair. What's at work seems to be, at least at this early stage of the campaign, a case of Quebecers exercising their democratic right to punish the Liberal government without actually having to chose an alternative.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

It's Spring - get that fridge cleaned (785 words)
Have you got a science experiment growing somewhere in your refrigerator?

Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Screwed? Yes. Hey, have some Montreal lemonade… (580)
Fiendishly clever, I thought. While the French press blindly accuses the de-merger forces of being a recidivist group of anglophones, the ex-leader of the Equality Party himself is quietly taking over Montreal City Hall - and fifty per cent of the province - from inside. This stroke of Machiavellian misdirection won my profound respect.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Remembering an excellent lady (350)
I introduced myself to her and she said she remembered me and promptly demanded an accounting of my life since graduation some two decades previously.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

A tale of two (merged) cities (680)
When it was first announced it created quite a stir, since why in the world would China's biggest enterprise want to set up shop in Drummondville of all places - jewel of the St. Francis River as it is.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

On cherries, pigs, and why I was fired (500)
I've only been fired once in my life. That's not counting the newspaper that folded just before Christmas and left both me and Santa holding the bag.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Take the money and run (640)
Welcome to the CIBC Disgruntled Customer Hotline. For service in English, press 1. For service in French, press 2. If you are a rural customer, press 3 and we will try and talk a little slower for you.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

On the island of Hispaniola (485 words)
We could learn a thing or two from Latin Americans, as I found out recently on my sojourn to the Dominican Republic. Hispaniola is a place that runs on its own schedule and by my reckoning Canadians would be a little less stressed out if we adopted some worthwhile Spanish practices.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

A tale of two (merged) cities (780)
As incredible as it may seem, David Miller is the first Toronto mayor in at least fifteen years to pay an official visit to the mayor of Quebec City.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Eye Op II (580)
I'm feeling vulnerable, sitting half-naked in the OR lounge (Ha! Talk about euphemisms.). I'm waiting for the surgeon to slice open my eyeball, suck out the old cloudy lens, and slip in a piece of expensive plastic that promises to restoreth my vision to the eagle-eyed days of yore.
John Mahoney edits the LCC.

Into Hell's Garden (800)
Rain forest camping was discussed. While sitting behind my computer in my air-conditioned study this seemed like jolly fun. Walk a few miles to a leafy glade, set up camp with the help of various guides and porters, then caper about identifying birds of paradise, butterflies, and furry mammals of every stripe. Not as adrenaline-pumping as catching a 50-pound tarpon but efficacious nonetheless.
Jim Austin is a nature lover in Putney, Vermont.

French & the way she is written (590)
I have a friend who argues that if Bill 101 was about preserving the language of his ancestors, instead of the language of France, he might be more sympathetic.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Lying gets you nowhere - fast (680)
When I was 23, I was arrested in Toronto for stealing a fire extinguisher from a subway station. I would have got away with it, too, if I hadn't started spraying my friend just as a cop car drove by.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The chill of convergence (630)
I have a hot story to tell, but I feel a chill coming on.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Dire warnings from Mom (400)
My mother is the Cassandra of our family. I say that for two reasons. She can see into the future and what she sees is never good.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Crispy balsamic breast of duck (400 words)
It's that time of year when some days the weather is better suited to ducks. The other evening on my way home from work I waited at a red light in the pouring rain and noticed that a few good-sized quackers had adopted a flooded area at the intersection of Highway 20 and Don Quichotte Boulevard.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Are you eligible for the Retroactive Rebate Rebate? (625)
Congratulations for choosing Quebec's Simplified 2003 Income Tax Return. This guide provides all the information, pie charts, algorithms, and divinations you need to complete as many of your tax calculations as possible before you finally give up in frustration and hire a real accountant do it for you.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Maudit anglais buys "La Maudite" beer (700)
Is a nationalist rebellion brewing over beer in Quebec? That all depends on how many suds-swilling sovereignists heed the cry to boycott Unibroue's fine array of grog.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Using thumbscrews for science. Right. (400)
A perfect example of being over-employed came up recently when a bunch of scientists in Great Britain took the time, and probably a hefty government grant, to figure out pain is less intense when it's administered by a woman. Researchers placed forty people in a thumb screw and had either a man or a woman do the twisting.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Maple Pie once a day is not enough (450words)
Not only a wonderful topping for pancakes, waffles and French toast, maple syrup is often destined for inclusion in any recipe that calls for a sweetener. The following recipe makes for a very good pie and I suggest you serve up a slice with a side of vanilla ice cream at your next spring dinner party. This recipe is as easy as . . . well. . . pie.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Bernard Landry: Leader, interrupted? (650)
Party vice-president Marie Malavoy -- already on record for desiring a purge of the PQ's elders, in other words, Landry -- has asked the 67-year-old sovereignist warrior to "clarify his intentions" by the end of summer, presumably once he's returned from his European honeymoon after marrying his girlfriend of three years, Chantal Renaud.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Insurance fascists get control (450)
I smoke a pipe. As a consequence I cough more than I should, my clothes smell like a pipe and I pay more for life insurance.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Book borrowing banned, borrowers buggered (670)
"These libraries are devious," said the senator, who has also championed a bill to prevent newspaper subscribers from passing on their copies to sisters/nephews/postal workers. He is perhaps most famous for backing the Ebert Bill, which forces mandatory thumb-ectomies on film reviewers who give away endings.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Blowing harp with Bill Macy (600)
Having a few beers with a friend. We hear about a film shoot on the lakeshore. Some celebrity like Bruce Willis? No, William H. Macy - a real actor. On our way home we drive by. Too late.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Asparagus: good Spring eating (485 words)
Now that Spring has arrived, you'll notice that local groceries are displaying bright green spears of asparagus. Nicely washed and tightly wrapped bundles glisten and tempt you like beautiful flower arrangements.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Wither Charest and the Quebec Liberals? (700)
On April 14 the Liberal government of Jean Charest celebrates the first anniversary of its election victory. Celebrates may be a bit of a stretch, since polls show if another election were held today Charest would be looking for another job - perhaps returning to the federal Conservatives.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

What in hell are we doing? (500)
The real problem with the NEWS-VT landfill in Coventry, Vermont, is not Casella Waste Management's expansion plan. The real problem is you and me. Truth is, we're garbage addicts. But we don't want it buried in our backyards.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

Canada deals with avian flu threat (430)
This means killing off 17 million potential hosts, i.e. all the hens roosters, ducks, and geese in the region. Whether this will work or whether the government is going off half-cocked, or half-henned, isn't known for sure.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Disney: It's all about death & dying (650)
Walt Disney is dead. And he wants you to join him.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Green Jacket Blues (640)
The 2004 Master's at Augusta National is a few days away. Last year's event was besmirched in the eyes of many by the feud between Chairman "Hootie" Johnson and feminist, some say "radical" feminist, Martha Burke.
Jim Austin putts around in Putney, Vermont.

I'll be calling you (600 words)
SHERBROOKE, QC | Trying to find a job in Sherbrooke when you don't speak French is like trying to find your way from Toronto to Halifax without a sense of direction: it's going to take a lot of luck and help.
Hannah Koh is a student at Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec.

Yummy 'cat-poop' treats (380 words)
You may not want to make these cookies. Hell, you may not even want to read about them.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Activists kill dwarf-tossing bash (200)
The Annual Tossing of the Dwarves Day celebration here was abruptly cancelled early this morning following court action by an activist group.
John Mahoney edits this digital rag.

Sweetness and anger in the sugar shacks (800)
It's the maple syrup war and tempers are rising like sap on a warm spring day.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Sayonara Sheik (700) Israel's policy of killing off the leaders of Hamas is exactly the same as the US is trying like hell to do against the leaders of Al Quaeda.
Jim Austin writes up a storm in Putney, Vermont.

No pet lover, I (650)
To my surprise, I've discovered I'm a pet agnostic. I don't much like the critters. I've had a feline falling out, a pet peeve, a canine crisis of faith.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

The luck & the stew of the Irish (375 words)
Irish folk have a reputation for telling good jokes and enjoying life in general. They dance as if no one is watching and sing as if no one is listening. Fortunately for us here in Quebec, there is no shortage of Irish goodwill or Irish-influenced food and music.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Rebuilding the Bloc in Quebec (720)
Serge Menard, someone with a proven talent for reading a jury, has now decided to end his semi-retirement and jump back into politics -- with the Bloc Quebecois. He says he expects the PQ to be back in power in four years and the party will then win a referendum on sovereignty.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

The eye in the storm (560)
This painless procedure, Dr. Laser assures him, will get rid of the tiny opaque nasties left over from the cataract surgery/lens implant he did last December. Johnny is enthused about the prospects, if not the procedure. He assures the Silver Fox they will be on their way home long before dark.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles with one eye these days.

Bada bing, bada bang (600)
In preparation for a performance in front of political writers we organized a fact-finding mission to Ottawa. After all, before we performed for the American Society of Colorectal Surgeons they asked us to watch a procedure so that we would get our facts right.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

lard Lad Redux (770)
"Done" mumbled Stevie as he snapped off a bite of Ryvita wafer into the phone. Incidentally, Ryvita is a multi-grain compressed rectangular cracker containing few calories, tasting like the shingles on a chicken coop, and favored by dieters and other masochists the world over.
Jim Austin weighs in down in Putney, Vermont.

What's in a name? (650)
Many readers may be asking themselves, "Alphonse" - in my mind, all readers are named Alphonse; don't ask me why - "Alphonse, how could it be that the former owner and editor of The Stanstead Journal is suddenly writing a column for the competition?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer and consultant living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Canadian opponents of Vermont landfill expansion make the issue international (750)
NEWPORT, VT | Opposition to the massive dump expansion plan in the Lake Memphremagog watershed here went international Thursday evening in a big way.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

New moves for the Our Thing gang (430)
This way, American-born would-be Michael Corleones can pick up the essential traditions: the wrapping of dead fish, garroting, usury, how to correctly place a horse head in a bed.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Student supports angry faculty
but hopes for a short strike
(550)
LENNOXVILLE, QC | The first-ever faculty strike at Bishop's University here has a Lyndon Institute alumna from Vermont a tad worried.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicle.

White elephant on the loose (665)
The Quebec government has launched a hunt into what happened to some $300 million of taxpayers money lost in a botched industrial scheme - about $1.8 million for each job that was supposed to be created.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Focaccia: Healthy, tasty, and not out of a box (800 words)
Sorry, but no television ad is going to convince me that a frozen pie in a box is as good as take-out or a homemade pizza.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

American Gulag (700)
Our American gulag at Guantanamo is a glaring testament to the hypocrisy the world sees in America every day.
Jim Austin of Putney, Vermont, calls it the way he sees it.

Bishop's University lobbies Quebec for money (475)
A busload of BU faculty, staff, and students presented a united front this week to the government while seeking more funding for higher education.
Greg Dempsey is a senior at Bishop's University. He is editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Campus, and a staff member of The Local News, an on-line newspaper produced by the webjourjalism class.

Fighting featured in Quebec senior hockey league (770)
The QSMHL, also known as the Quebec semi-pro league, features what some purists of pugilism might call good old-time style hockey, where fights are as much as part of the entertainment for the crowd as the finesse.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Death by Velcro (625)
I developed a substantial yearning for buttered popcorn heavily dosed with parmesan cheese, and my favorite caramel candy was on hand.
Frances Bevency Errion writes in Buskirk, New York. A Luddite, she is e-mailess.

Put the curlers in charge, eh? (400)
They don't pollute, they'd never try to take over anyone else's sheet of ice, and they own up when they break the rules.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The satisfying feeling of a Sunday dinner on a Wednesday night (420 words)
We are spoiled here as the offerings are many and prices are good. My local super-sized supermarket makes choosing a simple dinner for two a trial in fiscal balance as I navigate the many sections and try to make a decision that will allow two important functions -- I need quick, and easy.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Kids of Summer Cometh (590)
Baseball is a great game for kids. It provides friendly competition and teaches them lessons that they don't learn at school. Lessons they can only learn by living through.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Power hunger in Quebec, shortages at Hydro (700)
Ten years ago Quebec's Crees won a huge victory. After a determined campaign that saw protesters paddle canoes to the United Nations in New York City, Jacques Parizeau's Parti Québécois government beached the 3200 MW Great Whale River hydro-power project.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Skull vs bones (600)
Eight months of attack ads, prevarication, and posturing lies ahead of us all. I, for one, am not looking forward to it.
Jim Austin is already electioned-out in Putney, Vermont.

Affinity group: Poutine, potatoes, potholes (550 words)
The state of Quebec roads leaves a bad taste in mouths across the province as craters wreak havoc. I just may have a solution that will save municipalities and the government tons of bucks in road repair costs.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Yeah, but it's hard to hit a moving target (430)
Take my word for it -- nothing good can come of moving. That's why I wasn't looking forward to the latest CBC move - our fourth in fifteen years, if you don't count temporarily changing floors at 250 Grande-allée.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Vendetta at the bank (750)
By now, Canadians are familiar with the broad strokes of the case: how respected bank president Beaudoin was hounded, harassed, and forced out of his job because he refused to buckle under extreme political pressure to approve a loan for the financially troubled Auberge Grand'Mere, which [former Prime Minister] Jean Chretien once co-owned.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

A breast full of dollars (575)
The American breast may have been made of silicone but the Canadian breast was full of tax dollars.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Gallivanting Gourmand's Wing Dingers (600 words)
The thing is, even the biggest of birds has one shortcoming. It only has two wings.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Canadian plea: 'Don't enlarge your dump' (650)
NEWPORT, VT | A Quebec environmental group has urged a Vermont regulatory board to reject plans to expand the Green Mountain state's largest landfill, which is in the Lake Memphremagog watershed.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

On Myriam Bedard's trail (700)
Ten years ago this week the country stood in awe as a tiny woman from Quebec showed a pack of European amazons a thing or two about skiing and shooting.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

I know nothing, I see nothing (420)
Could it be, I wondered, that the average Canadian, resident of a nation with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, has never read a paper?
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Catch phrase gets two thumbs up (300)
Why is John Kerry leading the Democrat's push for the White House? It's the catch phrase, stupid.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer based in Stanstead, Quebec.

Gimme fats, gimme sugar everytime (400 words)
Disclaimer: Neither this columnist nor the LCC will be held responsible for the unethical treatment and consumption of sugar, yeast, fat and chocolate. Nor does this column serve as an endorsement for Krispy Kreme. The writer reserves the right to sample and comment on doughnuts he deems appropriate and worthy.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

10 Do Nots for Male Lovers on V-Day (485)
Oh sure, if we're lucky, we eventually meet Mr. or Ms. Right. But along the way, for every Prince or Princess Charming, there's a whole lot of frogs.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

The "what-ifs" of Claude Ryan (800)
The first question would be "what if" Ryan, then the powerful editor of Le Devoir, had not led the campaign in Quebec against the constitutional agreement-in-principle, three years in the making, that Bourassa had signed in Victoria in 1971.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Patriot Act (790)
Such a game already. Maybe the best Super Bowl ever. It was also a moment in the sun for my wretched brother in law.
Jim Austin gets it on in Putney, Vermont.

Sweetie, you want to dip some? (650 words)
Why not plan a classic dinner for two and cozy up on the couch for a movie? And here's a tip for the guys: now is your chance to make good on that promise to watch that romantic drama that she has been after you about. Bridges of Madison County anyone?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Be here now or, I once had a crush on Vampira (575)
Maybe you were thinking of a loved one. Or, remembering something that altered your life years ago. Or simply ruminating about how we are all being royally screwed by the government.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

On the lazy river (400)
I'm not talking lazy like throwing your pudding cup at the garbage can, missing, and leaving it on the floor. I'm talking lazy like, starving to death because you didn't want to put the energy into pulling back all that foil.
Sean Nardella attends Bishop's University in Lennoxville, Quebec. He is a reporter for The Local News, the on-line newspaper of the students in the webjournalism class.

The prodigal Lib (720)
It would be pretty easy for a lot of people - including, we suspect, some MPs and ministers in Paul Martin's government - to be upset, outraged or confused by the federalist rehabilitation of Bloc Québécois founding member and later anti-Chretien dirt-leaking mole Jean Lapierre.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Half-time ain't what it used to be (400)
Personally, I hate marching bands but if it comes down to a choice between John Philip Sousa and Janet Jackson's right mammary, hand me a tuba.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Old Yeller & Calamity James (700)
It's the non-justified yelling that I need to work on. Take James again. He whistles constantly - a shrill one-note cantata that feels like getting a tooth drilled during a hangover.
Ross Murray is is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca

Dear Voters (750)
The voters in this country are morons, apparently. They are just like those bidders on Ebay after a phony girlfriend.
Jim Austin gets it on in Putney, Vermont.

The end of food as we know it? (650 words)
There's not going to be much left to eat soon, some say. Researchers have been hard at work to find all manner of bad things in our favorite foods. I'm all for food safety and I appreciate warnings about potential danger but I just can't help wonder if there are some conspiracies afoot.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Quebec actor Girard not grumbling about success (750)
The Hollywood aristocracy best hope that "Paul Bougon" stays home and it's Rémy Girard that shows up for the Academy Awards presentations. Otherwise some of Tinseltown's stars' might be light some "bling bling."
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

The Darwin Awards (550)
The awards are handed out to individuals who, by their own stupidity, end up doing themselves an injury, or, in some cases doing themselves in, thereby elevating the level of what remains of the gene pool.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Dean doomed (700)
I'd vote for Lizzie Borden if I thought she could give Bush forty whacks.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec on Conservative leadership race sidelines (690)
Belinda Stronach confirms what appears to be the new Conservative Party of Canada's "Rolling Stone" strategy in Quebec, with thanks to Bob Dylan: "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose."
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Service, like they mean it (600)
There is a gas station in my local village that epitomizes customer service for me. And so I don't even look at the current price per litre when I gas up there. Because our relationship is more important.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Did I ever tell you about warm? (500)
Once upon a time I lived in the West Indies.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Contumelious Bastard (675)
I'm sorry, but the Iowa primary has got to wait. I have to talk about a moral degenerate who isn't fit to scrub toilets in a Calcutta whorehouse. No, I'm not talking about George W. Bush.
Jim Austin is some pissed off in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec snowmobile deaths: Too fast, too furious (760)
One in 5000 snowmobilers in Quebec dies as a result of an accident involving a snowmachine, compared to one in 6000 for road vehicles.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Gung Hey Fat Choy (Happy New Year) (500 words)
The Year of the Monkey is upon us and no matter how tempted you are, this does not mean that you can act like one.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Hell is other people's pets (570)
Most households knew these past two weeks as the 'holiday season.' But in my house they were known as the 'allergy season.' Not because trees or ragweed are growing in my living room, but because, to paraphrase Jean Paul Sartre: Hell is other people's pets.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Amnesia (715)
It is as if the first thing governments do is set up a Department of Asinine Choices which is designed to run contrary to the state's best interests.
Jim Austin writes from Putney, Vermont.

CFB Valcartier: from Vimy to Kabul (700)
It's doubtful the 1900 troops from CFB Valcartier headed for Afghanistan later this month would pelt Defence Minister David Pratt with a rain of litter as he delivers a send-off pep talk.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Squirrels, they are the nuts (500)
I've always been fascinated by squirrels. They're the Flying Wallendas of the animal kingdom.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

You say you want a resolution? (600)
I resolve once again to reduce the circumnavigation distance around the old waistline. The abdominal equator currently has two time zones. Dunkin' Donuts will henceforth be regarded as a house of ill repute.
Jim Austin writes from Putney, Vermont.

Out with the old and in with the new (500 words)
The year 2004 promises good things for foodies everywhere and while there are holdover and hanger- on trends from 2003, tables will explode with healthy and creative flair. Here are my predictions of trends and attitudes that will parlay themselves into kitchens and homes in the coming year.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Annual Quebec Quiz 2003 (960)
At just about this time last year Mario Dumont, the Icarus of Quebec politics, was starting to smell his singed feathers, Bernard Landry was beginning to inflate for what he thought might be a gentle balloon ride to a third majority and Jean Charest was trying to get his craft off the ground. Suffice it to say it's been a high-flying spin round the sun for Quebec politics.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Even a blind squirrel can find the odd acorn (720)
My yuppie brother-in-law called to gloat last week after Hussein had been dug out of his spider hole. The B-I-L is one of those not so rare dimbulbs who votes Republican just in case he ever gets rich.
Jim Austin writes from Putney, Vermont.

You do not want fries with that, right? (420)
Maybe it's time someone points out that the cheese curd and french fries in a poutine don't fulfill the daily requirement for dairy and vegetable in Health Canada's food guide.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

A Quebec City Christmas Carol (800)
It doesn't take too much imagination to picture parts of present day Quebec City as they were in 1842 when Charles Dickens came to visit. The narrow cobblestone streets within the walls of the old city, the stone and brick buildings scarcely changed, save for meticulous restorations, since they were built by workmen centuries ago, combine to create a unique museum-like village.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Gravyman gets his horn blown (650 words)
Life isn't a bowl of gravy folks. Sometimes no matter how hard you try that gravy at the family holiday meal turns out lumpy seven times out of ten according to experts. Who knew a panel of professional gravy lickers existed?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Having a Blue commercial Christmas is OK (580)
Each Christmas, predictable columns and editorials articulate a general disapproval of the commercialization of the holy season. But I like the commercialization of Christmas.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

On getting Saddam, that old softy (420)
I don't know about you but I wasn't surprised Saddam came to his end as T. S. Eliot said, "not with a bang but a whimper." Like most bullies, Saddam, when someone finally stood up to him, couldn't throw in the towel fast enough.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Canada's man-in charge: Master & Commander (800)
You would think Quebec would have little to reason to grumble about cabinet representation, seeing as it has provided a prime minister to the country for roughly forty of the past fifty years (St. Laurent, Trudeau, Mulroney, and Chretien -- you may want to include John Turner's eighty days, since he held a Montreal riding for three elections).
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Brain transplant (640)
Our administration was about as subtle as a case of genital herpes. Paul Wolfowitz, the Freddie Krueger of the Bush Administration, hauled out the megaphone and announced to the world that the four countries named above would not be allowed to play with the other kids.
Jim Austin writes from Putney, Vermont.

Down, Fang, down! (350 words)
I think Santa would approve of giving our family pets something good to eat on Christmas Eve and I know most families set out stockings for Rover and Minou. I have witnessed kitty cats rolling in catnip with wide- eyed abandon at 7 a.m. on a Christmas morning while Mom and Dad sip special coffee.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Misterman, if you live in snow country, you owe it to yourself to get a Snohoe.
You know how it is: on a winter morning you go outside and the car is covered with fresh snow. Which you must remove before driving to town to replenish your liquor cabinet.
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

Chretien soldiered onward, in Quebec (750)
From a province that in 1995 came to within 50,000 votes of opening the door to a constitutional crisis unlike any seen before in this country, a strong majority of Quebecers have come to believe there is still some promise to this Canada thing.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Get off our backs, eh? (480)
True freedom also means you can spend days on the couch with a pack of Rothmans and a bottle of Molson watching reruns of the "price is right" and eating jalapeno-flavoured ripple chips.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Bits & Pieces (580)
After living in Canada for some thirty years I can tell you that their pills are just as good as ours. The problem is that Canadian pills are cheaper.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Dullsville? Boringtown? Nah, it's Ottawa (580)
There is never a dull moment in Ottawa. Years? Yes. But moments - no. But residents are proud that their city is dull. They say, defiantly: if you want to party you can "go to Hull." After all, a city that never sleeps is a city of sin.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Friends, exchange cookies and smiles (650 words)
And now, just in time for those Christmas parties -- a holiday cookie exchange…the perfect way to simplify baking and have fun doing it.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Charest challenging Quebec's unions (700)
The reason the Quebec labour movement is upset to the point where leaders declare "nuclear war" and some members feel they must ransack the offices of government MNAs and rampage down the halls of a children's hospital is they fear Jean Charest is the Grinch who wants to steal some of labour's sacred rights.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Hands off my heroes (450)
Another myth is about to bite the dust. Apparently a group of amateur historians in Britain want to open up the grave of what may be the last Saxon king of England.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

A 'Vision' of English education (750)
Five new English schools are to open in Quebec next year, in places like Thetford Mines, Kingsey Falls, and Levis...they are arising out of a grassroots demand for English-language education coming from francophone parents. The catch, of course, is that these are private schools, where an annual tuition of as much as $5000 will buy the attentive student a ticket to the bilingual stars.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Bush-itis (740)
The US body politic is riddled with disease. The symptoms are everywhere. The diagnosis is Bush-itis.
Jim Austin writes and runs in Putney, Vermont.

How I miss the apostrophe (520)
The first girl would yell "give me a 'b'!" Then she'd twist around, bend over, and flip up her skirt to reveal a purple letter 'B' on her white-pantied backside.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Giggles are good for you (590)
I had to go to Alberta to make people laugh. It's a tough job but someone has to do it. Actually, Alberta is a wonderful place. People are friendly and happy. And taxes are so much lower. Hmmm.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Martin's Quebec cabinet material (800)
With the date for the swearing-in now fixed for less than a month hence, at least two dozen MPs in the Quebec Liberal caucus will make damned sure their cell phone batteries are charged waiting for a call from The Paul. Many, though, would prefer not to take a certain call knowing their days as a favoured centurion under the slain Caesar have come to an end.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Another fun Republican heard from (720)
It is stunning when you piece together the pattern of right-wing atrocities that this regime has perpetrated on this country. The U.S. has people in jail without trial or representation. We have alienated the member countries of the UN Human rights are eroding and the right-wing media are hoorahing like storm troopers on Kristalnacht.
Jim Austin writes and runs in Putney, Vermont.

Put a little zing in your life - eat some horseradish (450 words)
This root helps keep the flu and cold at bay while keeping the sinuses open and although it is usually served as a condiment, it always packs a punch when used in sauces or as a rub for a winter rib roast.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Paul Martin: Quebec's favourite adopted son (720)
He's got the farm in the Eastern Townships, the mansion in Westmount and the riding in working-class Montreal. He used to manage the Davie shipyard in Levis, a subsidiary of Paul Desmarais' Power Corporation, before he unloaded it on government bailer-outers. As a Power employee and then president and eventual owner of Canada Steamship Lines he frequented company fishing camps in the Saguenay and on Anticosti Island.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Drive-by Honking (680)
I'm up at 6:30 a.m., slather the thighs with vaseline to combat "chub rub", secure the walkman, set the pedometer and I'm off. This morning my route was three miles on River Road over a blessedly level surface.
Jim Austin runs and writes in Putney, Vermont.

Coincidence? Are you sure? (560)
A biography of the prime minister of Canada reveals that he would not have accepted a slim separatist victory in the last referendum and might even have sent in the Canadian army to protect Canadians still living in Quebec.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Remembering Victory Gardens (575 words)
There are lessons to be learned from history and perhaps Remembrance Day is the perfect opportunity. How many of us remember a time when gardening was not so much an activity of leisure and stress- busting but rather a call for action?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Mario Dumont, again (380)
Quebec's political version of Doogie Howser put it this way: Action Democratique would be somewhere between "separation And submission."
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Torpedoed at sea 60 years ago, Nursing Sister relives that dreadful day (850)
Her life as an army nursing sister may not have been as romantic as the one in The English Patient, but Jeanne Caron's war experience in much the same settings was very real, very rewarding. and very nearly deadly. Caron was a survivor of one of the most dramatic sea rescues of Canadians in the Second World War, the sinking of the S.S. Santa Elena.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Lillian, a Thanksgiving Story (550)
Looking out the kitchen window this bright October morning, I see Lillian, our turkey, scanning the sky for enemies. She is our only turkey. She shares the old chicken house with a varied and diminished flock - three hens, a rooster, and three guineas.
Frances Errion writes in Buskirk, New York.

Eatin' High Down East (500 words)
Could it be? Had I found the world's best-kept secret? How could I have been so ignorant of such an obviously profound culinary treat? A happy pub patron confirmed my suspicions and the truth was revealed. What you see is what you get when you order deep-fried pepperoni Down East. Sliced, greasy and ever so tasty, I ate the whole basket myself.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Quebec's 'revenge of the cradle' now at the mercy of immigrants (750)
In short, the problem is young Quebecers -- when they do couple up, are not coupling enough to replenish the population. Those who don't abort (more than thirty terminations per 100 live births), spend a fortune to adopt in China or Romania.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Ah, to be on the Restigouche River with all the Libs (500)
You know you really have to wonder what's going on at the Irving family's fishing camp on the Restigouche River. It appears that more cabinet ministers show up there, fly rod in hand, than turn up at cabinet meetings in Ottawa.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Quebec Liberals: The We Didn't Mean It Party (585)
In China they would have an ornate name like: the Don't Blame Us When We Stick A Knife In Your Back Because That's What We Always Do Party.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Award-winning Stanstead Journal editor out of a job - owner says Ross Murray 'resigned' (200)
STANSTEAD, QC | The veteran editor of the 158-year-old Stanstead Journal says he has been "mentally fired" by the new owner, Jean-Yves Durocher of Rock Island.
John Mahoney is editor of the LCC.

Canada's missing link (830)
Tom Kierans might be accused of having tunnel vision. By that we don't mean the 91-year-old Montreal-born engineer is narrow-minded. Au contraire. Kierans thinks big, 17 kilometres-big. That happens to be the width of the Strait of Belle Isle which separates Newfoundland from Labrador and Quebec and onward to the rest of the Western Hemisphere.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Fowl Weather (665 words)
There is a glaze in the eye of every hunter I know at this time of year. You might recognize the look and the twitch. Eyes watery with anticipation and a far away focus, trigger finger at the ready.

Baseball...and curses (710)
Who in the hell is Aaron Boone? He sounds like a Jewish frontiersman, not a baseball player. Like everyone else in New England I was taking a tentative breath in the bottom of the eleventh inning when this lightweight came to bat.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

How scurvy shaped Canada (810)
"...had scurvy not weakened the Royal Navy to the point where a blockade of French and Spanish ships was rendered impossible, the American colonies would not have won their rebellion, at least not so quickly and on such extraordinarily generous terms."
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

Faced with a 25 lb. turkey, I reached for... (515)
I don't know if you've ever come across a twenty-five pound turkey but let me tell you, this bird could have walked the forest primeval with little fear.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Thanks for the turkey trivia (475 words)
The truth is out. Turkey doesn't make you tired, it's the fact that when you combine it with all those carbohydrates and starch that napping messages are released to your brain and you feel sleepy.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The end of the world as we know it (580)
It seems that these theories have a real use: to get other people to do what you want them to do. In this case: don't drive a car and live in the suburbs. Be like me. Live downtown and ride a bike.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Turkey? How about some Good Cheer? (850)
If ever there was a holiday in search of a myth it would be the Canadian version of Thanksgiving.
Peter Black is the producer of CBC Radio's Breakaway program, based in Quebec City, a columnist on Canadian affairs, and a freelance writer.

" And Youppi never groped a co-worker" (500)
The fact that otherwise normal people - well, as normal as they come in California - flocked to the banner of Conan the Barbarian is something altogether different -- it sets the tone for future elections.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

"With half his brain tied behind his back" (690)
What was your reaction when Rush Limbaugh resigned from ESPN on the same day that he was accused of using black market prescription drugs?
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Tim's sex column to start your week (500)
The fact that the French, at 167 times per year, once again, 'claim' to have sex more often than anyone else is a given. Every nation needs its myths. What really concerns me, however, is that Canadians - on average - claim to be doing it 150 times a year…three times a week.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

APPLE PIE ONCE A DAY IS NOT ENOUGH (380 words)
"But I, when I undress me
Each night, upon my knees
Will ask the Lord to bless me
With apple-pie and cheese."
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

A. Bachand's lonesome Tory blues (650)
André Bachand and Jean Charest have a few things in common. One is that they both ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

The Intrepid Trio, in search of Autumn Color, meets Bronson Johnson, the Seamless Gutter King of Milton, and the Sky God of Northern Vermont (1200)
We came to the mountain in search of autumn color only to have our visual delights cut short too soon by the capricious Sky God of northern Vermont. Our Intrepid Trio was not disappointed, no, for not only did we glimpse fine foliage but we met up with Bronson Johnson, the Seamless Gutter King from Milton.
John Mahoney edits this digital rag.

I took my family to the Coaticook Gorge and all I got was this lousy panic attack (850)
Aging I can handle. Rogue hairs in my eyebrows, nose, and ears? Bring 'em on. That popping noise every time I bend down? Just my bones settling. What really distresses me is the fact that I have become a scaredy-cat.
Ross Murray edits Quebec's weekly Stanstead Journal.

Sharing the wealth -- governments operating for their own ends (575)
The redistribution of wealth means taking wealth from people who have it and giving it to people who don't. It presupposes the government knows better than those who have it. And it presupposes that the government will actually give it to those who need it before they squander it on irrational dreams or boneheaded incompetence.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Diplomatic debacle (620)
It all began when George Bush told the rest of the world to go to hell and refused to sign the Kyoto Accords. Despite the US being the biggest contributor to global warming on the planet, the Bush Administration thumbed their noses at the rest of the world.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Talking hockey (720)
Quebec City is even more of a sure thing to grab the biggest hockey tournament next to the Olympics, the Stanley Cup, and yes, even the Avco World Trophy (original reportedly now in the possession of former Jets owner Barry Shenkarow). That would be the 2008 IIHF Men's hockey tournament.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

Joining up with Uncle Sam (550)
I got on the bus as 17-year-old Johnny Mahoney, wearing jeans and white bucks. Within minutes of getting off the bus I was sworn in as Pvt. John Mahoney, RA1127386, and I was pointed like a guided missile towards Easy Company of the 20th Infantry Regiment in Fort Ord, California.
John Mahoney edits this digital rag.

Don your mussel shirts and tuck in (480 words)
Coastal waters are cooling and a bounty of bi-valves is being harvested for tables across the country. Oysters, mussels, clams, and cockles are being propped atop crushed ice in virtually every grocery, their salty calcium-clad bodies waiting on your creative talent to put them to good use. If you love these creatures, then now is the best time to start cooking them.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Blue cheese on toast (570)
Thoughts while having breakfast.
Robert Gervais is a marketer in Calgary, Alberta.

Keystone Kapers (680)
Bush's ill-conceived, poorly implemented, and short-sighted invasion of Iraq could end in the kind of debacle we witnessed in Vietnam. Two years from now, after the loss of thousands of troops, will we see the last American soldier leaving the roof of the Baghdad Hilton on the struts of an Apache helicopter?
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Quebec's B. Landry, up close and persecuted (680)
The truest thing one can say about the film hauteur d'homme is that there has never been anything like it -- and there likely never will be anything like it again. That's unless there's a political leader out there willing to strip naked and do a chicken dance on St. Catherine Street.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

Ya gotta believe (650)
As New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tells us Americans will believe just about anything: 47 percent of Americans believe that the Antichrist is on earth right now (is it Al Franken?), 48 percent believe in creationism (our President included), and 68 percent of Americans believe in the devil.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Civil disobedience - it's the way to go (586)
Last week, a hidden microphone caught this exchange at a meeting of the very secret West Island Warriors Society.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Johnny Cash: A coyote at a poodle party (360 words)
"He's like a coyote walking through a poodle party." That's how friend and fellow Highwayman, Kris Kristofferson, described Johnny Cash. Cash was one of, if not the, most recognized voices in the entire music world."
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Stairway to heaven: made by Quebec, paid for by France (660)
In five years Quebec City will celebrate a rather remarkable 400 years of existence, making it the oldest continuous settlement in North America north of the Rio Grande. But before that momentous event arrives, the current mayor of the old city will mark another major milestone.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

All along the watch tower (980 words)
Friday evening, driving home alone, westward on the 148, I hear a few lines on the radio from a song I've loved for years, "…there must be some way out of here, said the joker to the thief…" Out of where? I've always wanted to know.
Fred Ryan publishes the Aylmer Bulleting and the West Quebec Post.

Quebec is as corny as it gets (480 words)
Here in Quebec, eating corn on the cob is a ritual. Huge gatherings are planned around the annual harvest and shucking begins. The thing is, you've got to get it on the fire or in the pot before all those sweet sugars turn to so much starch. Same-day picking and eating is the rule of thumb and once you have plowed through a pile or one of those large green net bags of the stuff, you have to figure out what to do with the rest.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

The Survival of America (780)
Never before have I felt a sense of embarrassment over my American citizenship. Worse yet is the feeling of suspicion over every move the government makes.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

Was this Canadian aviator flying the unfriendly skies of Iraq? (730)
Now that the Iraq war is more or less over, it can now be revealed that my younger son and I were aboard one of those Iraq-whacking AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System). Okay, so it was not actually in the Persian Gulf but at the recent Quebec City air show. Nevertheless, we did actually do a "tour" of duty on the airplane with the radar dome on top, courtesy of its tactical director -- the second in command of a 20-plus person crew -- one of those controversial Canadian armed forces members accused of aiding the U.S. war effort.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

Oh, fudge! (650 words)
I don't give a darn if it cuts in to profits at dollar stores who's only raison d'etre is to flog cheap Asian child labor crap and convert spiritual holidays to wallet grabbing and excessive spending experiences.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

All'knotted up' in Montreal (585)
The work of R.D. Laing centered on the politics of the family. Specifically the way parents turn their kids into schizophrenics by denying the validity of the child's own personal experience. Because of the special parent-child relationship we now have between the government and citizens here this model fits like a glove. And it is slowly driving us nuts. The way our government always knows best. And how we cannot be trusted to make our own choices.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

It's about water quality (725)
The water to the west of Quebec City is rich in human waste, thanks mostly to municipal sewage system overflow after heavy rainfalls. Given the amount of rain in southern Quebec in the last few weeks, our long-distance swimmer may as well have been stroking through a giant cesspool.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

The truth about money (350)
I've been buying American greenbacks for some months now in anticipation of a trip south of the border.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Those damned squirrels (420 words)
Yesterday was planned as harvest day and a good bruschetta along with a pesto sauce were on the menu. You can imagine my horror then when I happened on to the scene of the crime. Nary a bulb to be found.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Yes, we have no big tomatoes (860)
Puny plants I can deal with. But I want my tomatoes. I want sauces and sandwiches. I want a thick slice of beefsteak on a late-August burger.
Ross Murray is editor of Quebec's Stanstead Journal. He is not the Gardening Editor.

Quebec mulls Candu renew (750)
One might wonder why Quebec, which possesses one of the mightiest natural storehouses of hydro-electric power on the planet, would bother building a single nuclear reactor. This question would seem to be all the more relevant as Ontario runs its critically important and much-criticized nuke plants on low-hum and New Brunswick decommissions the only other commercial reactor in the land.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

Beer is good, very good (380 words)
Ah, the hazy, lazy days of late summer. Grasshoppers dance and crickets sing while sunflowers droop under the weight of seed. Suburban lawns look like so much shredded wheat and men everywhere relish in a short reprieve from lawn mowing. What's a man to do but crack open a frosty while watching the grass grow ever so slowly?
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Seadoo Fascists (350)
"No," I told my grandson Ben, "it isn't legal to shoot them. You can't even fire a warning shot over their bows."
John Mahoney edits the Log Cabin Chronicles.

Look for Quebec's low university charges to be increased (760)
According to data Statistics Canada just released, Quebec's average undergraduate tuition for the 2003-04 academic year is $1862.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

Three Ring Circus (760)
"Vee are goink to pump you up Sacramento" Arnold spoke these very words on the Tonight Show after he announced his candidacy for governor of California. They haven't had a candidate this weird since the great tectonic upheaval of 1936.
Jim Austin writes in Putney, Vermont.

All is not rosy in Quebec tennis (700)
Tennis, with its reputation as the sport of choice for the anglo country club set, would not appear to supply the critical mass of young players from which talented contenders emerge. But this is not the case. Tennis is a game that has roots and solid programs in virtually all regions of the province.
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

Your basic Tall Tomato story (480)
Ideal for the balcony she said. Grow it in a pot she said. Virtually no space she said. Just a little water she said. She had obviously never read Jack and the Bean Stalk.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

Blueberry Bliss (580 words)
Fiords and crystal rivers make for wonderful picnics and a blueberry heaven. You may have to share your lunch with a bear mind you. I have seen bears munch blueberries by the paw full as they waddled through a laden patch while grunting, snorting and gorging, as they are prone to do. How they do this while swatting pesky black flies with one paw while managing to pick enough so as to fatten up for the winter is a feat of ingenuity.
Greg Duncan is the LCC's Gallivanting Gourmand.

Quebec's Federalist Premier challenging Canada's federal system (575)
It could happen, in this country where we have never really decided what we are: a colony, a republic, a dominion, or a federation.
Ricky Blue is a Montreal-based humorist, singer, and writer.

Getting new wind in their sails (735)
Hurry, hurry, hurry! They're going fast! Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to scoop up a lovely well-built house at giveaway prices! Live in the natural splendour of one of Canada's most scenic areas! Fabulous hunting and fishing but minutes from your doorstep! Top of the line town services!
Peter Black is a writer/broadcaster based in Quebec City.

On the Rolling Stones and tourist gouging (475)
Driving from Quebec City to Niagara Falls wasn't so much a vacation -- I was more like navigating my way through the Canadian version of Prates of the Caribbean.
Tim Belford is host of Quebec AM, CBC Radio's popular off-island morning program.

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