Log Cabin Chronicles
Don't Feel Powerless in the Face of Racism
Posted 12.5.18
ABBY MURRAY, GRADE 12
Stanstead College ~ Stanstead, Quebec

I work at the Haskell Free Library. It is built right on the Canada-US border, so there are lots of cameras and border agents, both Canadian and American. One day, while I was working, two Mexican families came to visit each other, one from Canada, the other from the US. Since they couldn't cross the border, they came to the library just to talk for a couple of hours.
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One More Night, Gimme Just One More Night
Posted 12.1.18
ROSS MURRAY

The last thing I want is to be a bore. (Not true; the last thing I want is another biopsy, but I think I made that pretty clear already.) However, I did leave my post last week on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I thought I would give an update on my medical progress before returning to regular programming.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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I have cancer
Posted 11.23.18
ROSS MURRAY

It's rare you can put your finger on the precise moment your life changed. In my case, it involved an actual finger.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Oh, let's be regionable!
Posted 9.30.18
ROSS MURRAY

When I first moved to Quebec's Eastern Townships, I was thrilled to learn that there was a CBC Radio network dedicated to serving the English community outside Montreal. It wasnÕt long after this that I learned that CBC referred to all these non-Montreal places as "the regions."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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1968
Posted 7.23.18
ROSS MURRAY

1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar. It was kind of a big year for Debbie Bishop.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Letter from my family doctor
Posted 6.27.18
ROSS MURRAY

"Unfortunately, due to family and personal reasons, I must close my clinic at the end of August 2018. I will be moving my medical practice to Abitibi, specifically the emergency room in the hospital at Rouyn-Noranda. I will remain responsible for your medical dossier in the coming years."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Song for Municipal Workers
Posted 5.31.18
ROSS MURRAY

There are potholes aplenty just outside my house...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Meet the pets
Posted 5.10.18
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | Over the years, I have frequently referenced the many pets that have roamed this house, not always in a flattering light. Not ever in a flattering light. Sometimes you can't even see the light because it's blocked by too many pets.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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How to fight inertia, sweatpants, and go out dancing
Posted 4.10.18
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | My getting ready to go out face. Tweety is my wingman.

1. Are you already in sweatpants? Did you take your bra off? It's too late. You will not go dancing. Inertia has won. Start again.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Scenarios in which I, Ross Murray, might conceivably need a gun
Posted 3.31.18
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | 7. I need to provide food for my family, and all the grocery stores have been shut down due to an outbreak of e-Cola, the "New Live-Bacteria Beverage That's A Real Fresh-Maker!" but actually turned out to be a real death-maker, and so with no provision for provisions, I have to take to the woods (but not before letting my food-deprived eyes linger hungrily over the cats, until I recall what I've previously seen those cats licking)...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The Wearing of the Ochre, or Happy St. Pablo's Day!
Posted 3.24.18
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | I recently received the results of my ancestry DNA testing, and in addition to 70 percent of my genetic roots originating in Great Britain, and Scotland, I was very excited to learn that 12 percent of my genetic makeup springs from the Iberian Peninsula! I was even more excited after I looked at a map and found out exactly where the Iberian Peninsula is!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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All cluttered up and no place to go
Posted 3.13.18
ROSS MURRAY

When our son came home for his break, he began to chuckle as he looked around the kitchen, as if it were all strange to him. And that was his point: everything was strange.

"You ever look at the things in this house and wonder why they're there?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Prom Duress
Posted 3.8.18
ROSS MURRAY

I am currently on my third daughter in search of a prom dress. It's February. The prom is in June. I point this out, but Abby looks at me like I know nothing. It's the usual look she gives me these days, but in this case she backs it up with fact: "This is the time you get your dress, Dad." I can't argue with that.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Is reading overrated?
Posted 2.23.18
ROSS MURRAY

Chances are if you're reading this that's all you're doing. You might be eating breakfast or possibly doing a chore. Maybe you're folding laundry and glancing back and forth at these words. If so, you're not giving it your full attention, so you might miss the part where I mention the lima beans, and later when I refer again to the lima beans, you'll have no idea what I'm talking about.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Death Goals
Posted 2.10.18
ROSS MURRAY

"What do you want to do," I asked Deb, "when you die?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Talking with sons about being better men
Posted 2.2.18
ROSS MURRAY

Boys, you probably feel bad these days about being male, and you should. We've been terrible. Not you, specifically, but the rest of us. My generation definitely. But it wasn't our fault. It was... the patriarchy. And the funny thing is, back then, we didn't even know the patriarchy existed, but it did, boy oh boy! And was it fun.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The spit is in the mail
Posted 1.13.18
ROSS MURRAY

For Christmas, our eldest daughter ordered me an ancestry DNA kit. Through analysis of my genetic source code, I will soon know exactly where I come from and whom to blame. That's really what we look for when we begin researching our ancestry: culpability. Up to now, I've only been able to attribute my shortcomings to my parents, but soon I'll have an entire Old World to pin them on.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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It takes a village to start a car
Posted 1.6.18
ROSS MURRAY

When it came to our car battery, I knew we were playing with fire. Or rather lack of fire. It had come to the point where simply leaving the key in the ignition would drain it. But we had a solution: don't leave the key in the ignition.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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How The Last Jedi made me a little less stupid
Posted 12.30.17
ROSS MURRAY

Without giving away spoilers, I liked the film. It took the series in a new direction and undermined certain assumptions about the Star Wars universe. It certainly had its faults, but I was entertained and had popcorn as a meal, which is about all you can ask of an evening out. The biggest flaw I saw was my purchase of a large root beer without considering the absence of a pause button.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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When my barber retires, I'm out of here
Posted 12.21.17
ROSS MURRAY

Data released this month revealed that more people are leaving Quebec than arriving. This came the same week that the provincial legislature unanimously passed a motion ostensibly discouraging Quebec merchants (read: Montreal merchants) from saying "Bonjour-hi" to customers.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Have yourself a Murray Little Christmas
Posted 12.9.17
ROSS MURRAY

As a newly elected Stanstead town councillor in Quebec, my wife was invited to the town hall annual Christmas dinner, and as her spouse, I was invited along. That's right: I was political arm candy, and I've never been prouder.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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At least I didn't mention Daddy's Home 2
Posted 11.26.17
ROSS MURRAY

My wife and I recently took advantage of a much-needed getaway weekend, and we did what most couples do when they ditch the kids and the pets and the chores and find themselves alone in a hotel room: we watched a movie.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Branding: Not Just for Cattle Anymore
Posted 11.13.17
ROSS MURRAY

The Ross Murray brand was first established over 50 years ago and has undergone several iterations - - Bad Haircut Ross Murray, Artsy Ross Murray, Ladies'Man Ross Murray (recalled), Bad Haircut Ross Murray 2.0 - - until finally settling into the Classic Vanilla Ross Murray we have come to know and tolerate.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Spook-ular values: A Halloween parable
Posted 10.30.17
ROSS MURRAY

It started with a body on a bus. This was followed by a second body on a bus. The interval between the discoveries was so brief that it felt like it couldn't be a coincidence, though it proved to be so. Still, there was no getting over the public perception that there was now an epidemic of bodies on buses.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Gushing over Quebec tap water
Posted 10.23.17
ROSS MURRAY

With the clarity of a professionally maintained aquarium, St-Étienne's water offers up the delicate aroma of fresh snow, wet leaves and the slightest hint of bowling shoes. Triggering nostalgic memories of drinking from the garden hose and strange stirrings after spying your friend's mom in a bikini, our sample starts with a sharpness at the front of the tongue due to calcium deposits, then finishes at the back of the throat due to gravity. However, we remarked a certain shortfall in overall wetness, and thus found it quenched our physical thirst yet not our thirst for greater meaning in a relentlessly cruel world. 8.1/10
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The cat who cancelled Thanksgiving
Posted 10.14.17
ROSS MURRAY

Regular readers know that I harbour a certain prejudice against cats, and like most prejudices, it's defined by my own narrow experience. But this summer, our middle daughter Katie moved back home along with her own two cats, Lincoln and Chandler. That's when I discovered not all cats are jerks; only our cats are jerks.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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I am running for town hall in Stanstead, Quebec?
Posted 10.9.17
ROSS MURRAY

A number of people have asked me about a rumour going around that I plan to run for municipal council. If ever there was a time to address such a rumour -- right before the nomination deadline -- this would be the time. It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to confirm today that I have also heard the rumour and that the rumour is, indeed, going around.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Bye-bye pool
Posted 09.29.17
ROSS MURRAY

We warned the children we were getting rid of the swimming pool. I swear we warned them. Maybe they didn't believe us, thinking it was one of our idle threats, like "We're going to move to the country!" or "We're going to organize the yogurt containers under the sink!"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Literary giant? A Penny For Your Thoughts
Posted 09.16.17
ROSS MURRAY

On the way back from Prince Edward Island this summer, we passed Shediac, NB, home of the world's largest lobster. Children climb on it. Don't worry, it's made of concrete. Watching children climb on a real giant lobster, now that I would pull off the highway for.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Got Wood?
Posted 09.1.17
ROSS MURRAY

In the 20-plus years my wife and I have been tent camping, we've barely changed our routine. We still pile our kitchen gear in a laundry basket - - as portable as it is inefficient. We use grocery bags to transport our dry goods, which before the end of the day are spread across the back seat. And our original luggage carrier doesn't so much sit on the roof as cling for dear life.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Flushing tips for guests
Posted 08.18.17
ROSS MURRAY

Welcome to our home and, more specifically, this little corner of personal hygiene privacy we like to call the guest bathroom. Please make yourself comfortable and avail yourself of whatever you need. We have provided a wide variety of reading material, from an assortment of Archie digests to a well-thumbed Victoria's Secret catalogue, a subtle acknowledgement by your hosts that, here, your business is none of ours.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The ghost of Stuart McLean describes Canada's summer of 2017
(Look, it's a Canadian thing, eh?)

Posted 08.5.17
ROSS MURRAY

It's a beautiful morning. The kind of morning that makes you want to leap out of bed, put on an old record and wake the children so they can watch you shimmy. It's the kind of morning that makes you think of your childhood growing up in Cape Breton, and the only plaything you had was an orange.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Me, age 110, explaining the secret of my longevity
Posted 07.31.17
ROSS MURRAY

It's so nice to have you reporterbots from GoogleThought drilling into my consciousness for an interview. I remember when I was a flesh reporter and I had to do these stories by actually talking to old people. Human contact was so uncomfortable back then. This is much easier, and I don't even have to get dressed or unhook myself from SeniorFeed.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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And a 5 6 7 8...Dance!
Posted 07.20.17
ROSS MURRAY

As part of our constant quest for innovation and funkiness, Drinking Tips for Teens is pleased to present the world's first choreographed blog post. What's black and white and ready to boogie all over? Read on!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Lions and tigers and ticks, oh my!
Posted 06.26.17
ROSS MURRAY

If a tree falls in a forest, and no one is around to hear it, is it because everyone's afraid they're going to get lyme disease? Probably. This summer, the tiniest of insects are public enemy number one and people are avoiding the woods in droves.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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My appropriation apology
Posted 06.21.17
ROSS MURRAY

In 2016, I published a novel entitled A Hole in the Ground. In this novel, I referred to a First Nations people, the Muskawatipaq, as well as their ancestral territory, Petawodimocto. These references were entirely fictional, created for the purposes of establishing a setting for my story and making up words that sounded kind of cool. I regret that I culturally appropriated faux-native culture.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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What's wrong with your car? Where to start?
Posted 06.8.17
ROSS MURRAY

As requested, we have given your automobile a thorough inspection and are pleased to report to you our findings. In a nutshell -- or as we mechanics like to say, "in a DIN 6923 swivel flange nut" (ha-ha!) -- you have made the fundamental mistake that 9 out of 10 drivers make: you have driven your car.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Our celebrity commencement speaker is unavailable
Posted 05.26.17
ROSS MURRAY

I know you are expecting me at this point to introduce our celebrity commencement speaker. After all, the least we can do after your three to five years of academic struggle and astronomical student loans is to provide you with some sort of A-list entertainer offering high-minded bromides to create the illusion that at long last you got your money's worth.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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One brief shining toilet
Posted 0515.17
ROSS MURRAY

Last year, I moved into an office on the second floor because, logistically, logically, it made sense. Six months later, logisticallyer, logicallyer, it makes more sense for me to move back where I came from. It's kind of like getting deported, except I don't fear for my life and the greatest inconvenience is having to hang my pictures again.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The man with his hands on his hips
Posted 05.8.17
ROSS MURRAY

I want to be the man in the room with his hands on his hips, and not in a swishy way, nor with my hands balled into fists like I'm Charles Atlas, but sturdy and confident. A man who seems to say, "Neckties are for chumps or for strangling terrorists who make the mistake of infiltrating this facility, which happened this morning, and I didn't even crease my shirt, though I did ruin a tie. It was my assistant Barlow's tie, because I don't wear them, not being in the least bit chumpish."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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New Pot for Old Farts: A Guide
Posted 04.30.17
ROSS MURRAY

So, you've decided you're going to start smoking pot again. Congratulations! First, though, stop calling it "pot." These days, the cool kids call it "weed," and that's 30 percent the point of this entire exercise, right? To be cool again, just like you were in your twenties when you wore a bandana and regularly smoking doobies.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Talking to your kids about legal drugs
Posted 04.17.17
ROSS MURRAY

Sit down, son. I'd like to talk to you about a difficult subject. No, not sex. No, not why all the rock stars are dying off. I want to talk to you about marijuana. Now that it's legal in Canada, you may be tempted to try it for the first time.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Pump rage
Posted 04.7.17
ROSS MURRAY

My general state of being whenever I wait for a gas pump to free up can best be described as "seething." I'm not great with waiting, even in a car surrounded by the endless possibilities of radio entertainment because, as it happens, I also seethe at commercial radio.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Risky days for columnists
Posted 03.31.17
ROSS MURRAY

Hi there. How's tricks? Does anyone say that anymore? "How's tricks? " Sounds Damon Runyon-esque. That's Damon Runyon, the American writer, not Damon Runyan, the Canadian actor and star of "Degrassi: The Next Generation," though, honestly, what kind of parent does that to a child? It would be like if my last name were "Frankenstein" and I named my child "Brideof."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Father-daughter-Beyoncé bonding
Posted 03.27.17
ROSS MURRAY

Abby and I get under each other's skin these days -- the sneering, the glares, the sarcasm, the outbursts and eye rolls. And Abby's pretty ornery too.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The one-quarter buck stops here
Posted 03.18.17
ROSS MURRAY

A Canadian quarter from 1907 turned up in my wife's change from the liquor store last weekend. I like to think it ended up there by way of a slow-moving nonagenarian war bride in a cardigan purchasing her bi-monthly supply of Harvey's Bristol Cream. She is also the last person in Canada to pay for items in small change, including pennies.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Coming out of the crawlspace
Posted 03.11.17
ROSS MURRAY

When I was little, my older brother and I would spend hours tunnelling into the piles of snow at the end of our driveway. This was back when we regularly got snowfalls of 17 feet at a time. Or something like that. I was a lot shorter then. And less metric.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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New guidelines for the coming in/going out of March
Posted 03.6.17
ROSS MURRAY

The management would like to inform you that, in accordance with our recently adopted policy on heightened inclusivity and respect for species fluidity, March is no longer exclusively required to come in like a lamb and go out like a lion (or vice versa, i.e. coming-lion/going-lamb).
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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A case of refugee envy
Posted 02.28.17
ROSS MURRAY

Dear Refugees Fleeing Would-Be American Oppression: I see on the news that you 've been crossing illegally from the U.S. into Canada along our vast and largely unprotected border. It 's been happening in Manitoba and it 's been happening about an hour away from here in Quebec.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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I want to be the guy who drives the snowplough
Posted 02.21.17
ROSS MURRAY

O, I want to be the guy who drives the snowplough through the town.
A vanquisher of snowstorms, mighty king of streets and roads.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The furious incident of the stupid dog in the night time
Posted 02.14.17
ROSS MURRAY

The stupid dog goes to the door around 5:30 a.m., maybe earlier. Dogs can't tell time. Every night when I come up to bed, Deb reminds me, "Did you let The Beast out?" If I haven't, I do, even though I know it's probably pointless because, at 11 o'clock, the dog doesn't need out. The dog needs out at 5:30 a.m., maybe earlier. Stupid dog.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Trumped? Skunked!
Posted 02.7.17
ROSS MURRAY

I am carrying this live skunk to protest everything Donald Trump stands for. For the past weeks, as I've watched the presidency of Donald Trump unfurl like a deep-fried blooming onion at a county fair -- unhealthy, nauseating, greasy -- I have asked myself, how can I make my voice heard? How can one small person effectively express his utter loathing of Trump and his so-called policies? Also, what can I do with this live skunk I happen to have?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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O, supplemented youth!
Posted 01.28.17
ROSS MURRAY

In the 1960s and early 70s, Canadian children did not regularly eat fresh fruit or vegetables during the winter months due to complex British Commonwealth rules that stated that all food must be grey or mush or both.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Townshipsplaining the PM
Posted 01.21.17
ROSS MURRAY

Oh, hi there, Prime Minister Trudeau, or as we say here in Quebec's Eastern Townships, "hi there."You see, Justin (may I call you Justin? I think I may), the Eastern Townships is a pretty easygoing place when it comes to the whole English-French thing. Certainly we've had our battles -- sign complaints, bilingual status debates, health care access. But for the most part, even during difficult times, both linguistic communities have been fairly even-tempered, dare I say cooperative.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Eulogy for a big guy
Posted 01.15.17
ROSS MURRAY

I learned recently that an old university friend died. We spent two years together in Bennett House at Mount Allison University in the mid-80s. His name was Jim Morrison. Not that Jim Morrison. Not the Lizard King, though Jim was big like a T Rex, and he tended to lumber like one. He was also legally blind, but only in the sense that you wouldn't want to get behind the wheel with him.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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JANUARY NEWSLETTER OF RUSSIAN CYBER-HACKERS LOCAL 301
Posted 01.07.17
ROSS MURRAY

Holiday season is over in decadent West. Many bourgeois families woke on morning of Magical Jesus Holiday to find new electronic devices under freshly killed living room tree. It is musical ringtone to Mother Russia's eavesdropping ears. Soon all of West will be puppet for Russian master and all of Russian people will have free subscription to Netflix.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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How to do laundry in 2017
Posted 12.29.16
ROSS MURRAY

Get the dirt on soap: Your laundry detergent makes a lot of claims. It's going to spin. It's going to tell you it's better than all the other detergents. It might say the other detergents can't get the job done, have no moral fibre, don't have the temperament, are soft on grime. Some might go so far as to suggest the competing brands support ring around the collar.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The Donald does Christmas
Posted 12.21.16
ROSS MURRAY

1 AD @realBethlehemTrump Just read Old Testament. Not good. God did a very bad job. All smiting and pestilence, zero job creation. New Testament will be unbelievably world-class, trust me.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The coming of the coffee bean behemoth
Posted 12.13.16
ROSS MURRAY

The office where I work is in a former home set a fair distance from the rest of the school. I'm alone on the second floor, making me the most outlying member of the school staff. I'm the institutional Pluto. There are five of us in this building. Sometimes I hear them having a good time downstairs. Sometimes they leave and lock me in. When this occurs, I remind myself that I have a private bathroom.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Your Basic Reverse Advent Calendar
Posted 12.01.16
ROSS MURRAY

From now until Christmas Eve, you get to open one small window a day and delight in the small treat inside -- unless the treats are tiny liqueur-filled chocolates, in which case you're probably going to eat/drink them all alone this Saturday night watching "Gilmore Girls" on Netflix. Friends don't let friends advent binge. Or watch "Gilmore Girls."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Beatles on the Border
Posted 11.23.16
ROSS MURRAY

Legend has it that back in the day the Beatles used to meet [at the Haskell Free Library on the Quebec/Vermont border]. John was banned from the US so he would enter the library from the Canadian side with George, Paul, and Ringo coming in from the US side. The locals claim that George, Paul, and Ringo used to stay to relax afterwards because they could walk around and everyone just treated them as regular people.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Getting back to sexy business
Posted 11.14.16
ROSS MURRAY

As if Americans haven't been through enough gut-wrenching uncertainty, next week they must join the rest of the world as we anxiously await a vital decision: who will be People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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An unfocused look at optometry
Posted 11.09.16
ROSS MURRAY

Optometry is one of those professions where I think, "Hey, I could do do that." It doesn't seem that complicated. With some basic equipment and an instructive YouTube video, I'm sure I could manage it.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Scarebnb: A Halloween Review
Posted 10.30.16
ROSS MURRAY

OMG this place was literally a nightmare. If you have a choice between spending the night in an open grave filled with the corpses of murdered orphans or at Jaundiced Entrails B&B, well, I would say the B&B but only because it's closer to the airport.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Reading at a Literary Festival
Posted 10.24.16
ROSS MURRAY

For the last several months I've been enjoying house concerts in Stanstead. I get to go into someone's living room and enjoy performers as they stand in front of me playing intricate arrangements on instruments that I could never begin to master. I, on the other hand, read out loud to people.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Bend it like Bonehead
Posted 10.13.16
ROSS MURRAY

Over the years, I've mostly shied away from playing in these [student-teacher] games due to my medical condition: I'm allergic to humiliation.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Trumping myself
Posted 10.07.16
ROSS MURRAY

If there's one thing that the U.S. federal election campaign has taught me and that Monday night's debate in particular reinforced and that the mainstream media helpfully perpetuated and that my gut instinct kind of knew all along and that my mother warned me would probably happen, it's that run-on sentences are no big deal.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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My nude calendar
Posted 09.28.16
ROSS MURRAY

Earlier this year I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign to help cover the cost of printing the debut novel that I will stop shamelessly referencing sometime in the middle-distant future. The campaign was a success, and the book is now for sale at better tanning salons near you.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Book Launch Emergency Measures
Posted 09.15.16
ROSS MURRAY

QUEBEC'S EASTERN TOWSHIPS | This Saturday Sept. 17 at Townshippers' Day, I will officially launch my debut novel, A Hole in the Ground. Set in the fictional town of Beaverly, the plot hinges on a local disaster. And turtles. I can verify there are stampeding beavers. But mostly the disaster.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Book Launch Emergency Measures
Posted 09.15.16
ROSS MURRAY

QUEBEC'S EASTERN TOWSHIPS | This Saturday Sept. 17 at Townshippers' Day, I will officially launch my debut novel, A Hole in the Ground. Set in the fictional town of Beaverly, the plot hinges on a local disaster. And turtles. I can verify there are stampeding beavers. But mostly the disaster.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

Explaining the ocean
Posted 09.13.16
ROSS MURRAY

So. Imagine a water. A big, big water. No, bigger than that. Think of all the bathtubs you will fill in your lifetime. Now multiply by infinity. Add salt. That's the ocean. It's where the land stops. There's land on the other side of it, but you can't see it. You just have to trust that it's there, and for a while a whole lot of people didn't. If you ever saw an ocean you would understand why. There are no crocodiles.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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This is your fight song
Posted 09.06.16
ROSS MURRAY

With classes beginning this week, it seems a shame that many schools no longer have fight songs to rev up the bloodlust against other schools differentiated only by their postal code. There's nothing quite like teenagers singing in unison as they call for the metaphorical death of their peers to make one feel pride in the ol' school colours.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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How I spent my summer staycation
Posted 08.31.16
ROSS MURRAY

Normally I would keep a journal of my annual vacation travels, but this year we stayed put. What to do? One option might be to post a Yelp review of my Ultimate Staycation Package. ("Directions were spot on: walk downstairs, turn left at the laundry basket and enter the kitchen. I appreciated the Unlimited Fridge Access and the Pants Optional Policy but customer service involved far too much eye-rolling. Also the house had a funny smell. Or so I'm told. I didn't notice.")
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The Russians are not going gentle into that good night
Posted 08.23.16
ROSS MURRAY

Welcome back to Rio and the semi-final match of Famous Poets' Beach Volleyball. Coming up: the U.S. team of Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath versus T.S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas of Great Britain, what is sure to be an afternoon of all-around athleticism, artistry and alliteration.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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This old housepainter
Posted 08.17.16
ROSS MURRAY

If you ever want to see how your body changes over time, just paint your house every eight years or so.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Welcome to your personal day
Posted 08.10.16
ROSS MURRAY

Good morning! I hope you enjoyed that extra 10 minutes of sleep. And not the cruel joke "snooze button" extra sleep but the kind from which you awaken gently, dreaming of a multi-handed masseuse singing The Carpenters' greatest hits, in a non-gooey, freshly re-evaluated way. This is your personal day. Everyone's getting one this year, and today is yours, all yours. "
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Summer self-lovin', happened so fast
Posted 08.05.16
ROSS MURRAY

I'll never forget that summer romance when I was 16. Neither can the girl involved, I suspect, except in her case it's probably "Why can't I forget that summer 'romance' when I was 16!"

I remember everything being so intense and wonderful: that first shy meeting, the hot-and-heavy hand-holding, finally getting to second base, which in 1982 meant acknowledging that your affection had reached the next level, or "base." [Editor's note: This is not what "second base" meant in 1982.]
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Closing speech of the Rossican National Convention
Posted 07.27.16
ROSS MURRAY

Thank you, everyone, thank you. Thank you for that kind ovation, not to mention the spontaneous singing of the national anthem. That it was the national anthem of Uruguay was a bit of a surprise, but stirring nonetheless.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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10 things you should never say to the parent of a child who is pure evil
Posted 07.11.16
ROSS MURRAY

1. Why can't your child stop being pure evil?

Because his evil is pure, can't you see? It's not a little evil, not part-time evil, not a little over the top evil. Pure evil. The essence of evil. It cannot be stopped or contained. You might as well ask him to stop conjuring the minions of Satan or demanding we read him I Love You Forever each and every single night. I mean, it's a tearjerker at first but after a while you just want to claw your eyeballs out. But we have to read it, otherwise he'll smite us.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Ol' Catfish in the house, ladies!
Posted 07.01.16
ROSS MURRAY

I'm kind of funny looking. I see it most in photographs. "Wow," I'll say. "My head is huge." On good days, I like to describe my body as "streamlined." Wrists like chopsticks with veins like The Hulk. My son will never forgive me for his nose.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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E-mail anxiety
Posted 06.25.16
ROSS MURRAY

It wasn't necessarily being served in English that sealed the deal but it didn't hurt. Deb and I had been considering changing our phone and Internet provider for some time, so when a representative from a company we'll call Cabletron phoned out of the blue on Saturday, I didn't react the way I normally do when a telemarketer calls:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com
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House of strippers
Posted 06.13.16
ROSS MURRAY

I don't know if years ago they used special NASA-grade paint for kitchen woodwork, but this door frame required much straining, grunting, and sweating, which also sounds like a fun night out but I can assure you was not. Was lead-based paint actually a coat of lead, because it sure felt like it.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com
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Cap in hand for A Hole in the Ground
Posted 06.09.16
ROSS MURRAY

I did something recently that I'm not very comfortable doing. No, not that! Disgusting! No, I asked people for money. I'm normally much more comfortable passively hinting for money or sighing heavily about money until eventually people give me money to make me go away.

I launched a Kickstarter campaign to ask people to help me affray the up-front printing costs for the publication of my debut novel, A Hole in the Ground. This is serious business. I know because I'm using business-y words like "affray" and "up-front."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Death and the double bed
Posted 05.25.16
ROSS MURRAY

As I was cursing the person who installed the wallpaper border in our hallway 22 years ago and wondering whether it would have been easier if I'd removed it 21 years ago, a song popped into my head.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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My soap has let me down
Posted 05.25.16
ROSS MURRAY

I had such high hopes for my soap. It had a revitalizing formula. Not merely a revitalizing blueprint or a revitalizing vague idea but a formula. That's science, math, the stuff babies drink -- any which way, very serious business!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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How to talk to humans
Posted 05.16.16
ROSS MURRAY

In the brain are thousands of thinkifiers that are triggered by external stimulus and celebrity news stories. These thinkifiers can be active or dormant, depending on such variables as barometric pressure and the proximity of Steve Buscemi. It's good to have a thought in advance of speaking to a human because social situations depress the thinkifier, rendering it next to impossible to come up with something to contribute to a conversation, especially if the human is totally cute or has something distracting hanging from her nostril.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Gluten for punishment
Posted 05.11.16
ROSS MURRAY

There have been rumours for years. This time they're true. People said it would never happen, but it's already in the works. Stanstead, Quebec, is to be the home of an industrial gluten repository.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Steal this nap
Posted 05.03.16
ROSS MURRAY

What happened to naps? One minute you're snoozing at daycare, and the next they're pumping you full of coffee in grade school. Or least that's how things worked where I went, at Sacred Palpitating Heart Elementary.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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How to make a superhero movie
Posted 04.25.16
ROSS MURRAY

You start with an Exposition: It's a dark time. It's a dangerous time. It's lunch time. There's a global food crisis, and by "global" we mean the United States, which is the same thing. The government and military have teamed up in an implicitly sinister way with a mega-corporation to manage the crisis using robo-soldiers powered by the world's stockpile of personal deodorants. It's a smelly time.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Steal this look
Posted 04.13.16
ROSS MURRAY

Sweater: Woolrich, neutral, bumpy -- The sweater, of course, anchors the ensemble. Woolly, bland and shapeless, like its owner, the sweater's neutral tones cry out, "This once belonged to my father-in-law, and the fact that it was free is its finest quality."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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When cliffs attack
Posted 04.13.16
ROSS MURRAY

On Sunday, a 20-year-old woman in St. John's, Newfoundland drove over the cliffs of Signal Hill in her Toyota Echo (ECHO, Echo, echo...). The woman escaped from the plummeting vehicle before it came to a stop 90 metres down the cliff face. The victim was lucky, for if she had fallen into the sea, she would have been a-salted.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The Sleep Contract
Posted 04.04.16
ROSS MURRAY

Whereas the parties referred to herein have shared a bed on a nocturnal basis for considerable time in accordance to accepted socio-marital norms and sleeping patterns, notwithstanding that as time passes, said sleeping patterns are becoming increasingly weird; and whereas the parties wish to maintain peaceful relations pursuant to the good governance of a decent night's sleep; the parties do willingly and without prejudice agree to the following terms and conditions:
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Dance like everybody's watching
Posted 03.22.16
ROSS MURRAY

Next, you must create the Facebook event, with a catchy name like "Me So Dance-y!" or "There Is No 'I' In 'Dance' But There Should Be!" What was life like before the Facebook event? Those were sad days of candlelight and rotary phones and people dancing with hardly anybody watching them at all. But now they have you. It is you they will watch dance, and their lives will never be the same.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Whatever happened to Owen?
Posted 03.14.16
ROSS MURRAY

One of the perks of having children is being able to watch an alternate version of your life unfold before your very eyes. It's like some Hollywood remake with different actors, contemporary references and better hair, but the story and themes are more or less the same. "I've seen this before," you say. "I know how it turns out."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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My Canada Gross coat
Posted 03.07.16
ROSS MURRAY

I've long been of the belief that our craving for stuff is what's killing our planet. Consequently, I tend to hang onto things until they're worn beyond use rather than replace them with something new. I'm good for the environment, terrible for the economy.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Answers from the press conference
Posted 03.01.16
ROSS MURRAY

"Well, obviously we would have liked things to go a little differently out there today. We came prepared, we had the training, all the robot warriors were in place, but sometimes there are things you can't control, like the weather and gastrointestinal discomfort. I'm proud of the work we did. I don't think anyone should hang their head. Hold their nose, maybe, but definitely not hang their head."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Strunk and White and Trump: The Elements of the Style
Posted 02.21.16
ROSS MURRAY

The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive. People love the vigor. I have been very successful with the vigor. Everybody loves it. Hillary Clinton was the worst Secretary of State in the history of the country. So much better, a thousand times better than I think what's happening to this country is unbelievably bad; we're no longer a respected country. What's wrong with that sentence is so obviously President Obama. Incredibly passive.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Writing the write, reading the read
Posted 02.15.16
ROSS MURRAY

I was sitting in my office, working the work, when the sole of my foot started vibrating. It was very subtle, like maybe there was machinery operating under the floor. It wasn't a steady vibration but starting and stopping, with the rhythm of an oscillating fan.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Happy Days in Canada
Posted 02.08.16
ROSS MURRAY

According to a recent poll, two-thirds of Canadians are "pretty happy." This to me is the perfect Canadian answer. When you ask a Canadian "How are you?" nine times out of ten, the answer will be "pretty good." Not "great," not "lousy," not "get off my porch before I call the cops," but "pretty good." It's that kind of contained enthusiasm that has made Canada the mostly all right country it is today.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Murray of Atholl: be careful how you thay it
Posted 02.01.16
ROSS MURRAY

I love the Scottish language, because it's almost English. I can understand just enough to get the gist of what's being said. This is also, by the way, how I've lived my life in French Quebec for the last 26 years.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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All-purpose rock star obituary
Posted 01.26.16
ROSS MURRAY

Music lovers were (A) saddened (B) shocked (C) not surprised at all today to learn that (A) rock legend (B) one-hit wonder (C) bong aficionado XYZ had died after a courageous battle against (A) cancer (B) Alzheimer's (C) a small pack of Girl Guides. He was [insert age; probably 69].
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Out of my cold, gelled hands
Posted 01.17.16
ROSS MURRAY

It was painful hearing Barack Obama dance around the issue of gun ownership at his town hall meeting last week. The U.S. president had to come across as anti-gun but not too anti-gun. It was like watching a dad tell the kids he's super-chill but, hey, rules are cool, yo!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The element in the room
Posted 01.10.16
ROSS MURRAY

Scientists recently discovered four new chemical elements. It's unclear to me whether these elements already existed but hadn't yet been tracked down or whether the scientists created them, God-like, out of thin air by toying with the very fabric of the universe, a sentence that often ends with " -- and then things went horribly, horribly wrong."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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My year in review
Posted 01.03.16
ROSS MURRAY

January: My peace mission to Syria was fraught with complications after my seeing-eye Pomeranian was seized at Customs for violating national thresholds of froufrou-ness. This was followed by further scurrying about and logistical recalibration after I realized I was not in Syria but Sarnia. Thanks a lot, Google Maps!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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About our new kitchen counter
Posted 12.27.15
ROSS MURRAY

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree that a new kitchen counter would be installed a week before Christmas. And all were on board, each in his own way, because it was a professional doing it and not Dad.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Save Rooney
Posted 12.15.15
ROSS MURRAY

When I was in Grade 11 there was -- how shall I say -- an incident. It involved the high school band, an overnight stay, a third-floor window, and some water balloons. It was not the perfect crime.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Looking into the genetic crystal ball
Posted 12.07.15
ROSS MURRAY

When I was quite young, I watched The Illustrated Man on television in the middle of the afternoon. It terrified me, and not just because it starred a mostly naked Rod Steiger. Among other things, the film hinted at the end of the world, depicted the mercy-killing of children and showed one character bashing another's head with a rock. Worst of all, if you looked deeply into the empty space of one of Steiger's tattoos ("Not that empty space, a little to the left."), you could see how you would die. This raises the question: where was my mother and why was she letting me watch this trash!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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50 phrases I didn't hear on my 50th birthday
Posted 12.01.15
ROSS MURRAY

"How lucky to have been born in the sixties but have absolutely no memories of them."


Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Stop the sky from falling
Posted 11.23.15
ROSS MURRAY

We're sitting ducks, I tell you. Blind. We're gambling with our lives, like blind ducks -- blind ducks sitting at a roulette table where the prize is also a duck. But this isn't about ducks. It's about the lax astronomy that puts our lives at risk every single day and most nights as well.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Hello, Drake? It's Adele.
Posted 11.16.15
ROSS MURRAY

My daughter Abby looked up at me, puzzled, appalled. "How do you know that song?" she asked, which, now that I think about it, might have been code for, "Please stop singing that song." "I'm hip. I'm cool. I know Drake," I said.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Why your next employee should be a former non-athlete and probably the one after that too
Posted 11.10.15
ROSS MURRAY

Employment-wise, it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. And why are the dogs eating dog? Because they're out of dog food. But surely they could they eat something else, like garbage. Dogs eat garbage all the time. Good dogs, bad dogs, they can't get enough of garbage. Why do dogs have to resort to gobbling other dogs? The answer, you probably don't know, is that dogs are delicious. Dogs, strangely enough, do know this.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The Egging
Posted 11.02.15
ROSS MURRAY

Troy "The Boil" Doyle blamed society. Consequently, he felt justified in being a jerk, and there was no better time to let your jerk flag fly than Halloween. The little reprobate took full opportunity of the holiday to soap, smash, TP and make smaller kids cry through trick or treachery.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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We are all 50 together forever!
Posted 10.27.15
ROSS MURRAY

Now that the federal election is over and we've wiped the rabid foam off our television and computer screens, we can all stop pretending we know what we're talking about and get back to what's really important in this country: my birthday.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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What to do in the event you wake up Tuesday morning and Stephen Harper is still Prime Minister of Canada
Posted 10.17.15
ROSS MURRAY

While it may be difficult to differentiate Liberals from Conservatives, note that Liberals will have glazed, stunned expressions on their faces and be walking in a daze, completely susceptible to others' commands -- in other words acting completely normal. Gently take any lost Liberals by the hand and settle them under the nearest tree and tell them everything will be okay. If you're charming and good looking, they'll believe you.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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I feel inspired! Let's have a drink.
Posted 10.14.15
ROSS MURRAY

There was a time when I felt it would probably be a good idea if we let our local SAQ [QCbooze store] clerk know we were going on vacation; you know: so he wouldn't worry about us. This is what happens when you live in a one-hooch town, where there's only a single place to buy your wine and booze unless you cross municipal boundaries or state lines.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Tuesday, 2:46 p.m.
Posted 10.5.15
ROSS MURRAY

I heard on the radio that men and women dream differently, especially their nightmares. Women have bad dreams about interpersonal relationships. Men dream about disasters and external threats. Great. Now even my dreams aren't manly enough.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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For pennies more
Posted 09.25.15
ROSS MURRAY

HEY THERE! Get the freshest, sleekest, wordiest Ross Murray with Ross Murray Premium! No more interruptions like this one in the middle of wonderful heartwarming stories, like the time everybody accidently ate a whole tub of Noxema and nearly died. And it was all because of the cats! Oh, those cats! Always trying to kill us. Heartwarming and wonderful and nearly fatal!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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U-turns at the halfway house
Posted 09.15.15
ROSS MURRAY

We are now one child away from having an empty nest -- only it's not so much a nest. More like a temporary storage facility. If the imaginary volcano in our backyard were to erupt and spew hot ash over our lot in life, future archeologists would conclude that there were 3.89 people living in this house. They'd also wonder what kind of crazy people would let their cats outnumber them.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Back to School Lunch Time
Posted 09.5.15
ROSS MURRAY

It's Back-To-School time, and you know what that means. Surrendering your child to teachers, who everyone agrees 100-percent-no-question do the most noble job in the world, though, sure, there are bad ones, just like there are incompetent doctors or "too gropey" masseurs, and this is your child we're talking about after all, so you can never 100-percent-no-question give your child's teachers the benefit of the doubt, but still you don't want to let on because, you know, why make your kid a target, which is why you wear that silly grin on Parent-Teacher Night?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Four things God wants you to know about your car
Posted 08.31.15
ROSS MURRAY

Balanced on the deck of a carved wooden boat on the top of a toilet tank at a pitstop in Newfoundland, there was a small pamphlet. The cover announced, "Four Things GOD Wants You to Know." I didn't get a chance to read the full pamphlet because it wasn't that type of pitstop.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Just a little kindness, my dear
Posted 08.26.15
ROSS MURRAY

SOMEWHERE IN NEWFOUNDLAND | During our last two weeks in Newfoundland, I saw moose, caribou, hares, shooting stars, an iceberg, and an old man's white rump.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Chaos in Paradise
Posted 08.20.15
ROSS MURRAY

SOMEWHERE IN NEWFOUNDLAND | People like the edges of things. Newfoundland is all about the edges, the seacoasts that positively shout,"How's she goin', baey, I'm rugged."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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There is no "I" in "ego"
Posted 08.02.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | At the school where I work, the staff sometimes organizes games against the students. If anyone asks me why I don't participate, I'll explain, "I have a medical condition." If they press me further, I'll say, "I'm allergic to humiliation."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Ankle-deep in marriage
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | My wife and I cringe as we tiptoe onto the first step of our swimming pool. We're up to our ankles, and that's where we'll stand for some time, because it's scientifically proven that cold water is way colder than it used to be.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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With my luck I'd only be maimed
Posted 07.22.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | Knowing how you're going to die would be terrible -- for the insurance companies. If people knew for sure they were going to slip away in their sleep, for example, why would anyone bother taking out accidental death protection? But if you knew your fate was to die, say, in a Cuisinart explosion, you'd likely take out a whopping accidental death policy, which, of course, would make it all worthwhile. Either way, the insurance companies would lose money, and we can't have that.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Unfriendly grammar tips
Posted 07.14.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | How do you know whether to use "which" or "that"?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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With my luck I'd only be maimed
Posted 06.27.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | Knowing how you're going to die would be terrible -- for the insurance companies. If people knew for sure they were going to slip away in their sleep, for example, why would anyone bother taking out accidental death protection? But if you knew your fate was to die, say, in a Cuisinart explosion, you'd likely take out a whopping accidental death policy, which, of course, would make it all worthwhile. Either way, the insurance companies would lose money, and we can't have that.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Sometimes I answer questions
Posted 06.16.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | What advice do you have for the Class of 2015?

Walk through life like you're carrying two cups of hot coffee.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Weighing in on lobsters
Posted 06.09.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | We had planned to have lobster for Mother's Day, but I didn't reserve the day before as Deb had suggested, and then a shipment failed to arrive in Magog, causing a run on lobsters at the Stanstead store -- or, more specifically, a scuttle on lobsters. Either way, no lobsters for Mother's Day. My memory is vague but I believe I ate crow.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Cruisefunding
Posted 05.31.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | Later this year, my wife and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary. I think we can all agree she deserves something nice. For many years, Deb has said she would love to go on a cruise. And not just any cruise. An Alaskan cruise. That's Alaska, USA, by the way, not Alaska, Greece or Alaska, Barbados.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The only workout you'll never need
Posted 05.20.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | In the eleven years I've been writing this column, I've received hate mail only two times. These being Townships readers, though, it was more like strong-dislike mail. Peevish mail, tops. The first was when I suggested that curling, like golf and bowling, was a game that improved with drinking. I realize now that such a statement is ridiculous; I forgot darts. The second angry letter came when I wrote about my two older daughters having taken up rugby.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The only workout you'll never need
Posted 05.12.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | One of the main reasons people avoid going to the gym is because gyms are stupid.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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A kick in the aphorism
Posted 05.04.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | If you're in search of inspirational quotations, the Internet is a source of infinite examples, along with infinite accompanying photos of sunrises, seascapes and rainbows. Strangely, you rarely see an inspirational message paired with a photo of a cup of coffee, which really, most of the time, is all the inspiration any of us need.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Art: Recent Acquisitions
Posted 04.28.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | Gallery Parsnippy is delighted and positively damp with pleasure to present new artistic works this spring.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Time stands still in a book
Posted 04.21.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | The strangest thing happened to me the other day. Well, maybe not the strangest thing. The strangest thing would be if a pie plate floated into the room and started singing show tunes in the voice of Abe Lincoln.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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She couldn't just get a T-shirt...
Posted 04.14.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | Jail, was my first thought. His Europe-jaunting sister Katie is in jail. Midnight Express, Turkish prison. Or even midnight prison, Turkish express. Or maybe she got married. To a Turkish prison guard. At midnight.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Basketball & Son
Posted 04.07.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | I'm watching basketball right now. There have been a couple of times in the past when I should have been writing but, you know, there was a basketball game on. So tonight I figured, why not watch this Toronto-Houston game and write. That's good time-management, and exactly how my son James does his homework.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Vacation envy
Posted 03.30.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | My wife and I were discussing whether envy could be positive. She was of the mind that envy could be a motivator, that seeing what others have can spur ambition. I felt that the resentment inherent in envy undermined any positive outcome. After all, envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, not one of the Seven Really-Not-So-Bad Sins.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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We could have died out there
Posted 03.21.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | It was shortly after I said to Deb, "We should have brought a compass," that I began to wonder who would eat whom.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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IGA equals It's Gone Away
Posted 03.10.15
ROSS MURRAY

STANSTEAD, QUEBEC | You don't understand. This is about more than our only grocery store changing ownership. It's about more than the parent company Sobeys demoting our local IGA down to a second-tier Marché Tradition because there aren't enough clients to support the IGA brand. It's about more than the fact that too many people on this side of the border shop in the United States. It's not that.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Bill C-51: The 'C' Stands for Conniving
Posted 03.02.15
ROSS MURRAY

Canada's proposed anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51 ("The 'C' Stands for 'Could Happen' ") is receiving wide support across the country. There are some, though, who say it doesn't go far enough, while others feel the Harper government is both exploiting and propagating a climate of fear. I feel the bill doesn't go far enough in defining how fearful I should be.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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A reading from the Book of Recycling
Posted 02.17.15
ROSS MURRAY

And perched upon their blue bins in the field, the people did cry out, "O, Master, show us the true path of recycling. Tell us what is pleasing in your sight and what must be cast into the abyss of municipal landfill. And the rolling out of the wheely bins, we beseech you, be it the second Friday of the month or the third? We can never remember."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Katie's Adventure in Europe
Posted 02.08.15
ROSS MURRAY

"You should have brought a deck of cards," my wife said on the way to the airport. Deb did the Europe thing twenty-five years ago with a friend, almost at the same age and along the same route that our middle daughter Katie was set to embark on.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Cheap shots: photo booth memories
Posted 01.28.15
ROSS MURRAY

Parent-wise, there are certain things I've done a reasonable job of avoiding, mall-wise: gumball machines, claw machines, coin-operated hippos, lingerie shops, and photo booths.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Ebola at the Canadian border
Posted 01.18.15
ROSS MURRAY

The World Health Organization pleaded with countries not to bar visitors because it would only compel them to find non-official routes into the country, unmonitored, and next thing you know we have body parts falling off in the streets and only Brad Pitt can save us. But Canada has turned away nearly 180 people so far and is not the compassionate country I grew up in, your polite approach to border security notwithstanding, Mr. Customs Officer.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Le stuff, c'est moi
Posted 01.08.15
ROSS MURRAY

We own things not simply to survive but sometimes just because. The post-Christmas hangover is a good time to look at this proliferation of stuff, much of which we really don't need, a lot of which is plain crap. The only purpose it serves is to define who we are, both as givers and getters.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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I left my fudge in church
Posted 12.28.14
ROSS MURRAY

Last Sunday morning, it's possible a member of your congregation may have found a small piece of fudge wrapped in a napkin in the back of one of the pews. If that's the case, then you probably already know about it. I know if I found someone's discarded dessert in a hymnbook holder, I would be all, "Hey, stewards! Some schmuck left sugar in the sanctuary." And the stewards would be like, "Say it, don't spray it," because stewards are funny -- in a good way, of course.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The Christmas parcel
Posted 12.16.14
ROSS MURRAY

The parcel, I know, will be a box wrapped in brown paper and taped up like a hostage. We'll have a team of Navy SEALs on standby to breach the packing tape if need be. Our address will be clearly marked on the paper. When we penetrate the paper and packing tape, the address will also be written on the box itself.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The meatloaf, and the ruination thereof
Posted 12.06.14
ROSS MURRAY

And we must ask ourselves, what is the meatloaf? Be it meat or loaf? The French declare it to be pain de viande, which translates as "meat bread." Does this settle the question or confound, for how can bread -- cherished dual conveyor of hand-held meats -- also be the meat? Should we not instead call it buche de viande? Should we perhaps not have translated the French at all, especially now that we know that buche de viande means "meat log"? C'est possible, mon cher lait de pouleu.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Forever 41: A Company Prospectus
Posted 11.30.14
ROSS MURRAY

Forever 41 is a clothing and lifestyle retailer for people who grew up in the eighties wishing they were growing up in the sixties and are glad they aren't growing up now. Tapping into that nostalgia for feeling nostalgic, Forever 41 espouses a retail attitude that is fun without being silly, serious without being boring and edgy without staying up too late. At Forever 41, we provide fashion makeovers for those who don't know what to make of themselves.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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25 Reasons dogs are better than people
Posted 11.23.14
ROSS MURRAY

Dogs are always excited to see you, even if you've been gone for only five minutes.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Am I stupid?
Posted 11.13.14
ROSS MURRAY

It's important to check whether you're stupid, because if you are stupid, you might want to avoid certain activities, like operating heavy machinery, running for office or using social media. You might also want to avoid sporting events or using a handgun or parenting, unless youÕre counterbalanced by a spouse who is not stupid. She will let you know.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Phook, Phline, and Phsinker
Posted 11.03.14
ROSS MURRAY

This is one of the more embarrassing things I've done -- at least one of the more embarrassing that I can write about in a public forum. That thing with the parakeet and the margarine -- that's not getting airplay anytime soon. But this, there may be a lesson in here, so I feel the need to spill. I have no excuses for what I did, but I'm going to make them anyway. I was tired. I had a lot on my mind. I was in a rush. We had recently made some changes to our Bell account. Our credit card had acted up at the gas station the night before. It was a perfect storm of stupidity.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Smoke Defective
Posted 10.24.14
ROSS MURRAY

The smoke detector went off just before 3 a.m. and I leaped out of bed like it was an Olympic event. If there had been an actual fire, the tumultuous flapping of the blankets would have fed the flames to a frenzy.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Acting. My age.
Posted 10.07.14
ROSS MURRAY

At one point in this play I'm rehearsing, I have to make a leap. It's not a dance leap, not a plié. More like a pàté. A gristly splat. The springing is okay; I can still spring. It's the landing that's rough. Not right away -- I'm in the moment, in character, and he don't care about no stinkin' bruises. But later, and the next day, oooh, it feels like a sacrifice for my art.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Why You Drive So Loud?
Posted 10.01.14
ROSS MURRAY

O, tender youth with ball cap perched, And moustache like a wisp of dirt --
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The cellphone holdout
Posted 09.24.14
ROSS MURRAY

An acquaintance reacted to news that I don't own a cell phone with the combination of ridicule and disbelief normally reserved for people who vote for the Green Party.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Buying dirty books
Posted 09.16.14
ROSS MURRAY

The last thing you expect when you go to Old Orchard Beach in Maine on the long Labour Day weekend is to keep your sanity. The second-last thing you expect, among the tourists, souvenir shops, fried-everything stands, and carnival rides, is a book store. But there it is, right on the strip.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Bye Bye Beardy
Posted 09.03.14
ROSS MURRAY

It's been facial trauma, I tell you, ever since I shaved my beard off last week. I walk by a mirror and instead of my usual "Hey there, handsome" it's "Aggh! Who are you?" And then I remember it's me, only smoother.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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House of strippers
Posted 08.26.14
ROSS MURRAY

What I learned at the hardware store this week -- besides the realization that a career as a paint-colour namer is my roller not taken -- is that late August is not the time for home renovations that I thought it was.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Quiet Hours
Posted 08.20.14
ROSS MURRAY

I want to be buried in one of those deep-sea diving suits, the metal kind, like Sylvester the Cat might wear in some over-complicated and ill-fated attempt to eat Tweety
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Yoga A-Go-Go
Posted 07.29.14
ROSS MURRAY

I clicked on a photo this week of actor Alec Baldwin's wife striking a yoga pose in order to roast a marshmallow on the beach while bent over backwards. I regret nothing.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Tournament weekends are rough in the end
Posted 07.24.14
ROSS MURRAY

For years I bought into the myth. I even preached it myself. "I'm so glad my kids are into basketball instead of hockey. It's so much cheaper. All they need is a ball and a pair of sneakers and they're good to go." Well, that's a lie.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Google's got me
Posted 07.15.14
ROSS MURRAY

It is with great pleasure and a scoop of ice cream on the side that I announce today that I have been acquired by Google.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Who wants to play Cake-tionary?
Posted 07.01.14
ROSS MURRAY

The children get bowls of icing to decorate their own cupcake. But wait. There's also a lazy Susan loaded with gobs of candy and sprinkles that the children can use to garnish their cupcakes. They can pile on as much as candy as they want! And then we send them home to their parents.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Let us now praise little sandwiches
Posted 06.18.14
ROSS MURRAY

Is there a more perfect food, in circumstances that require as many fingers free as possible, than the little sandwich? Finger sandwiches, they call them, and not without reason.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Creativi-Tips are like Q-Tips for your brain!
Posted 06.09.14
ROSS MURRAY

Creativity is not a tap you turn on and off. Creativity is not something that takes four to six weeks for delivery. Creativity is not a sack filled with live eels that someone dropped on your doorstep knowing full well your intense fear of eels and burlap. In fact, creativity is not a lot of things too numerous to mention.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Westfalia, like nouveau hippiedom, is not an option
Posted 05.29.14
ROSS MURRAY

I was walking through town on the weekend when I noticed a Volkswagen Westfalia for sale -- old, drab, not the least bit sexy, and the van was pretty unspectacular as well. "We should buy it," said Deb, who usually doesn't take much interest in these things (and, again, to be clear, I'm talking about the van). But Westalias are different.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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When pigs do fly
Posted 05.22.14
ROSS MURRAY

I can count on one hand the number of trips I've taken by airplane. It helps that I have six fingers, but that's not the point. The point is that because I'm relatively unjaded, I still approach air travel with a mixture of awe, trepidation, and general mistrust.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Old MacDonald had a life, SEO-E-O
Posted 05.13.14
ROSS MURRAY

What is every North American's dream? Long lustrous hair that flows in slow motion like a summer breeze, of course. But the other dream is to be number one at whatever it is we do. And the one thing that everyone does is exist.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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My full report
Posted 05.06.14
ROSS MURRAY

Sat at every stop sign for a full five seconds to compensate for individuals/drivers who do the slow-and-go. Balance restored in this small corner of the universe.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The play was a 'three'
Posted 04.28.14
ROSS MURRAY

I've spent so much time watching our children play sports that sitting down to watch the youngest do theatre took some acclimatizing. How many quarters are there? How long is halftime? How do you know who wins?
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Bathed in Bubba's tears
Posted 04.23.14
ROSS MURRAY

It was clear by the 17th hole that, barring an unthinkable collapse, Bubba Watson was going to win the 2014 Masters. And yet I stuck it out, not necessarily to watch the conclusive putt but because I wanted to see if Bubba would once again weep like an emotionally fragile bridesmaid. He did not disappoint.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Not-so-good reads
Posted 04.15.14
ROSS MURRAY

We're still three months away from Summer Beach Reading Season, but you don't have to wait that long to read the books that everyone else is reading because other people told them to read them and you should too. That's because it's Spring Snow Bank Reading Season!
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Home alone -- with pets
Posted 04.02.14
ROSS MURRAY

Whatever you do, don't compliment dads on their parenting skills. I've read a couple of moms who have been outraged -- outraged, I tell you! -- because their menfolk were publicly commended for parenting tasks such as tying their daughters' braids or attending their kids' school events or not driving away with the baby on top of the car, basic stuff like that.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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The ten-year column: Now with extra self-indulgence!
Posted 03.25.14
ROSS MURRAY

I can't believe I was only 19 years old when I started this column. How young I was, not to mention firm, fit, and at my textual peak. As you can see from the headshot accompanying this column, the last ten years have been exceedingly rough on me, which probably means I should ask for a raise, if for no other reason than to afford some judiciously applied Botox.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Blame Canada
Posted 03.12.14
ROSS MURRAY

With this winter showing no inclinations of ending anytime soon, I think we can add "polar vortex" to the category of "Phrases We Could Have Lived Without."
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Oh yay...tougher language laws
Posted 03.03.14
ROSS MURRAY

Clearly, Quebec's language laws have been too lax of late, as evidenced by people more or less getting along (unless you're unfortunate enough to be wearing a hijab). Instead of taking the broad view, a majority PQ government is likely to narrow its focus on language. Yes, a more narrow-minded approach is exactly what we need.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Sleeping on it
Posted 02.17.14
ROSS MURRAY

I keep a pen and paper at my bedside for when I come up with some brilliant idea as I float between sleep and wakefulness or in case I want to write down a dream. For example, one night not long ago I dreamed that the military had devised a weapon called Pleasure Popcorn that clung to people like that annoying packing Styrofoam and in doing so induced waves of ecstasy so strong that it left the enemy incapacitated, though presumably quite satisfied.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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If a skier falls in the forest, does it make you laugh?
Posted 02.10.14
ROSS MURRAY

What I like about the solitude of cross-country skiing, then, is that hardly anyone sees you fall on your face. There's my wife, of course, but she's used to seeing me fall on my face, literally and metaphorically.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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You had me at "psychopath"
Posted 01.30.14
ROSS MURRAY

In fact, I considered acting as a career until I realized I'd have to spend a lot of time around actors. That's not as mean as it sounds. I was and am an introvert at heart. For actors, everything is huge and broad and arms in the air. I discovered I couldn't pull that off for long periods. I also discovered that there were other ways to get girls, so naturally I put acting aside.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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Prefrontal cortex means sound judgement -- you think?
Posted 01.20.14
ROSS MURRAY

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that decides good from bad, socially acceptable responses from unacceptable responses, Coke from Pepsi, and so on. Scientists tell us that this part of the brain does not fully mature until age 21 to 25. Actually, scientists didn't tell us this directly but wrote it on a Post-It and left it on our desk. So shy, those scientists.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray's column archives: Click Here

You get the quest of my love
Posted 01.10.14
ROSS MURRAY

Things were simpler before they invented love. Once upon a time, if a young man was interested in a young woman, he would simply seek out the girl's father and say, "Do you mind?" The father would say "Be my guest," and everyone would walk away happy. Not the girl necessarily, but this was also long before they invented equality.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray'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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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

I recently turned 48. I don't make this public so I'l 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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray'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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray'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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray'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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ross Murray'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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

"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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Those lazy, hazy days of summer "back then"
Posted 07.16.11
ROSS MURRAY

Remember when summers were spent just goofing off? Now, those were summers! Not that we did nothing. On the contrary. Our days were filled with carefree adventure and daring-do, punctuated by visits to the Emergency Room.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

You schmooze, you lose
Posted 10.18.10
ROSS MURRAY

"Hello, welcome to SchmoozeTech, this is Randy, how may I help you?"
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

This day in history
Posted 02.08.10
ROSS MURRAY

2010 -- Ross Murray meets the minimum word count on his weekly column, triggering sighs of relief from readers worldwide. The resulting air mass blows in an extreme cold front that settles over the American Midwest, making everyone even crankier than usual. Fox News ratings soar.
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

My Canada includes ample storage(670)
Posted 06.28.09
ROSSMURRAY

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Ironically, there is no synonym for "crossword" (760)
Posted 05.05.09
ROSS MURRAY


Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

The rots of spring
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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 Divorcˇ, Gold Diggers of 1935...
Ross Murray is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, QC. He can be reached at rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

Musical questions answered: love edition
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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

The joys of Canadian winter sliding or, Remembering my Frozennutterizer
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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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?

Does the English Community in Quebec exist: an inquiry(680)
Posted 12.01.08
ROSS MURRAY

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?

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.

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...

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.

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.

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?

Gnawty puppy onboard(720)
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.

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.

'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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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."

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!

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!"

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."

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.

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.

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!

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!

The silence of my lamb(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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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 rossgrantmurray@gmail.com

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

(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.

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!

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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"

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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!"

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!"

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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."

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!"

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I, iPodder (650)
Don't clean toilets wearing your iPod.

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.

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!

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...

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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?"

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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).

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."

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...

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.

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?

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").

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...

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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."

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.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?"

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?"

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...

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.

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..

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.

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!"

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.

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.

School Daze (740)
"I'm going to school again?" she said excitedly after Day 2.

(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?.

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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!"

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.

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."

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.

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.

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!"

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.

"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.

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…?

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

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.

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.

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?

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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."

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'."

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.

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.

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?

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.

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!

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.

Take a walk on the mild side (700)
I've just come back from my second walk of the day with Abby. Do not confuse this with a cardiovascular workout. This is the tai chi equivalent of walking, more meditative than exertive.

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.

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.

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?

"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."

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.

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?"

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.

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.

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.

"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©!

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;

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?"

So one little tree let me down… (630)
Up in the air, Junior Birdman

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.

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.

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?

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Disney: It's all about death & dying (650)
Walt Disney is dead. And he wants you to join him.

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.

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?

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.

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.

I took my family went 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.

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.

So what's the big deal about the Tomifobia Valley bike trail? (800)
Until two Sundays ago, I had never been on the completed trail to any great extent, certainly not since its completion. Now officially opened between Beebe and Ayer's Cliff, I decided to set out with the family to see what the fuss was all about. We set out on our leisurely way under sunny skies.

Abby had a stroke (785)
Within an hour, she could no longer stand up. Our 20-month-old had become as helpless and as limp as a newborn. She couldn't stay awake, and when she was, she cried. Her breathing wasn't right.

Stand up for Emerson, Manitoba (600)
If the federal government closes the border at Emerson, what is to prevent small Quebec crossings like Beebe or Highwater from being shut down? Why not shut downtown Rock Island and divert traffic up to Autoroute 55? With Customs planning a major renovation of its 55 facility - complete with said "advanced technology" - the possibility is a real one.

She's not sick, but... (650)
"She doesn't look sick," people often say when they see Abby. Thirteen months old and more than a year after being diagnosed with tyrosinemia, she really doesn't look sick. In fact, she isn't sick at all.

Don't assume the gods won't get you anyway (690)
I rushed home from the office after turning off all the computers and printers (suddenly I was hyper-conscious about overheated equipment) to find my family and the neighbors standing around the front yard.

I am not speak French goodly
Such polite boys and girls. God knows that if I was 11 years old and I had someone like me come talk to my class, there'd be plenty of snickering and arm-farting going on.

Abby has her own bed now
It has been hard going, especially at first, causing a fair bit of tension as we second-guessed and triple-guessed what to do as Abby screamed inconsolably... alone... abandoned... in her crib. The sobbing was sadder, more pitiful than those other nights when she just stayed up and kept crying and crying.

Neighboring towns being gouged
Everybody knows volunteer firefighters aren't entirely volunteers. They are paid for the time they spend fighting fires and responding to emergency situations. And rightfully so; it's tough, dangerous, often exhausting work that should be rewarded. Right, too, that the neighboring municipalities that use the services of these volunteers should pay their wages. But suddenly the Town of Stanstead is using these volunteers as pawns in what amounts to little more than price gouging.

Get those pants on now! (700)
You can feel it in the air: spring is around the corner. The snow banks have turned that sludgy grey-brown - the official symbol of Canadian renewal. Soggy dog turds are surfacing at the edges of the sidewalks. And throughout the land, parents are rubbing their hands in anticipation of winter's true end - no more snowpants.

La Madame (700)
Make no mistake: Mme LaRivière was no kook. She had, for instance, strong views on federalism and Quebec's place in it. She called herself not a "québécoise" but a "French Canadian." A proud one. She was fond of telling us, "If what they said was true about us French girls, we would all have been bowlegged." She also felt strongly about the role of seniors, how they could contribute to society, and what they could offer to "your generation." What she hated were those among her generation whose motto seemed to be "Qu'est-ce qu'on peut faire?"

I'm getting too old for this (700)
Bungee jumping, skydiving, big-game hunting. None of these exploits have ever beckoned to me as "must-do" activities. I feel no urge to drive Formula One. I marvel enough at life's fragility crossing Main Street in Ayer's Cliff. As far as I'm concerned, the "extreme" side can remain unexplored.

Abby's home now (800)
The day his sister was born, James had a revelation. You could see it pass across his five-and-a-half-year-old face as he looked down at the little bundle that a day earlier had been inside his mother's belly. And now it had come out.

No sympathy for the fainter (800)
Fine. I got a little woozy. But I did not pass out. My eyes did roll briefly - briefly! - into the back of my head and my face did turn the same shade as the surgical gloves the nurse was wearing but I did not flop, plop, heave, or spaz. And I gave my pint, dammit! I don't care what anyone tells you.

The doctor was 99 percent certain that snippy little procedure was bulletproof (885 words)
That's why shortly after James was born five years ago, we decided that I should undergo a vasectomy.

Spice Girl Grooving (600 words)
Just call our writer dad Rancid Spice.

Still Playing Silly Buggers
A gentle spoof about a bike trail and those who hate it.
Ross Murray edits Quebec's Stanstead Journal.

Farewell, Taylor Clan (700 words)
The family leaves the village farm after 125 years.
Ross Murray edits Quebec's Stanstead Journal.

Fridge Art
Boy, do we have art for you.
By Ross Murray, Editor, Quebec's Stanstead Journal.

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