Doug Speirs’ humour column, In the Doug House, has appeared on Page 2 of the Winnipeg Free Press at least three times a week since 2006. No one is exactly sure why.
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.
In his columns, Doug strives to focus on the vital issues of the day, but generally ends up writing about himself and his family, especially his two dogs, because he isn’t overly fond of getting out of bed or leaving the house.
For column fodder, he has tried his hand at everything from barrel racing to playing Santa Claus for hundreds of screaming schoolchildren on a jumbo jet to performing with Canada’s top Elvis impersonators. He also bravely writes about the weather every Saturday, pets every second Tuesday and writes a new column, Speiriscope, in Saturday’s 49.8 section.
No topic is too small to escape Doug’s keen journalistic eye, especially if it involves his infamous war with the army of mice living in his basement or his frequent run-ins with public relations professionals who are just trying to do their jobs.
He is also known for columns on quirky news events, his insights on raising teenagers, his helpful insights on the key differences between men and women and his penchant for spending up to three hours floating in the bathtub.
Doug was born in Vancouver and still worships the B.C. Lions. Despite this flaw, readers find him approachable, especially in the checkout aisles at crowded grocery stores. He was a finalist at the 2008 National Newspaper Awards for column writing.
He and his wife, She Who Must Not Be Named, have two children, neither of whom thinks he is the least bit funny.
Recent articles by Doug Speirs
Bidding fond farewell to a career full of hilarity and hijinx5 minute read Preview Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023
I’m dreaming of a grape Krampus, just like the ones I used to know5 minute read Preview Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022
It’s shortly after noon on a frigid Tuesday and I’m sitting in the food court at The Forks Market enjoying lunch with one of my favourite holiday companions, Krampus.
What’s in a name? Whatever you call your pet is still just as sweet6 minute read Preview Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022
Love for CFL’s toothless Lions brings torment, taunting5 minute read Preview Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022
I was lounging on the couch in our den Monday afternoon when, suddenly and without warning, a text popped up on my cellphone.
I, for one, welcome our new feline overlord6 minute read Preview Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out — my family is going to the dark side!
You can have my candy when you pry it out of my zombie hands5 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022
Once upon a time… a columnist turned into a puddle of goo5 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022
Grab a book and prepare to curl up on the carpet, kids, because today we are heading to the library for family storytime.
It’s a dog-eat-remote-control world5 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022
In the high-pressure world of big-time journalism, your classic dog-bites-man story doesn’t grab many headlines.
It’s a dog-eat-pumpkin-spice world… and I’m wearing whipped-cream underwear5 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022
When it comes to style, I’m just playing ketchup5 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 24, 2022
Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that, for most of my life, I have been a self-styled slob.
Three dog nights over: Joy returns to Doug’s world5 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 10, 2022
Our three dog nights are about to end — and I could not be more relieved.
Now matter how you slice it, bacon’s worth celebrating5 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 3, 2022
Of all the special days on the calendar, today is arguably the most special of them all.
Vancouver visit turns into Hitchcock meets Animal House5 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022
It was a sweltering afternoon in Vancouver and I was doing what I do every time I visit the West Coast — sweating like a Butterball turkey on Thanksgiving.
Raising a glass to 102 great years of great-auntie Ann5 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022
Golfer? Sure. I bucketed a birdie and an eagle just last week5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 23, 2022
An inspiring story to elevate the soul, rung by rung5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 16, 2022
What with all the depressing news weighing everyone down, today I’d like to share an uplifting story that I’ve decided to call The Little Red Ladder That Could.
I should point out that I didn’t make up this story; it was related to me by my good buddy Joe Grande, the ebullient and longtime owner of Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano on Corydon Avenue.
Joe shared his deeply moving tale this week while he and I were sitting in the back seat of my car, Joe’s wife was in the passenger seat, and my spouse, She Who Must Not Be Named, was at the wheel, driving us to a friend’s birthday party in the picturesque town of Niverville, about 42 kilometres south of Winnipeg.
So there we were, Joe and I, relaxing in the back seat, with me twiddling my thumbs in boredom while Joe stared with laser-like intensity at his cellphone because he was determined to discover what would officially be considered “the worst word in the world.”
Sit! Stay! Fetch a new future for dogs!5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 9, 2022
I’m not what you would call a big fan of tennis, but I did spend a fair bit of time lying on the couch last week watching the action at Wimbledon unfold on the new 65-inch TV in my den.
I found the traditional back and forth at the world’s most famous Grand Slam tournament to be moderately interesting, but as a dedicated sports fan I felt something important was missing from this year’s event.
As most sports-loving readers have already deduced, I am talking about dogs.
For those of you who have spent the past few weeks hiding in a drainpipe, you will be surprised to learn that this year’s edition of Wimbledon came within a whisker of — prepare to begin howling with excitement — going to the dogs.
Heroism, not mine, saves day from pizza inferno5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 25, 2022
For the record, I wasn’t trying to burn down my house on a day that was already so hot birds were bursting into flames in mid-air.
No, what I was trying to do was feed my friends and family on a scorching Father’s Day by firing up my portable, wood-fired pizza oven in the back yard.
Spoiler alert: Things did not go as planned.
So there I was Sunday evening, sweating like a Butterball turkey on Thanksgiving, busily stuffing tiny bits of hardwood into the fire box of the stainless steel pizza oven I’d been given last year for my 65th birthday.
Fighting for a real miracle, and finally keeping the pink ball5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 11, 2022
I do not know what you were doing on Monday afternoon, but I was witnessing a miracle.
This miraculous moment took place at Bridges Golf Course about 40 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg where for the 13th year I bravely caddied in the Pink Ribbon Ladies Golf Classic for Hope, the largest women-only golf tournament in the province.
This is the tournament wherein each of the 36 four-woman teams is assigned a hairy-legged person of my gender as a caddie to cater to their every whim, a manly man who not only keeps score, lines up putts, retrieves errant balls and fetches cold beverages, but does it while wearing a golf shirt so shockingly pink circus clowns would refuse to wear one on the grounds it was beneath their dignity.
Every year, at the start of this fundraising tournament, each team is handed a pink golf ball that they have to tee off with on every hole. The genius concept is that if you still have your pink ball at the end of the day, you drop it in a big pink bucket for a chance at winning a really swell prize.
Ten not-so-easy steps to get your dog to take a pill5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 4, 2022
Now that tick season is upon us, today’s helpful topic is: How to get your dog to swallow a pill.
This became a serious issue for me this week when I attempted to get our two fluffy white dogs to swallow pills designed to protect them from the blood-sucking ticks lurking in our back yard.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: “Seriously, Doug, there are only two steps for giving a pill to a dog: 1) Wrap it in bacon; 2) Toss it in the air.”
Well, that is true with the vast majority of food-motivated dogs, such as our emergency backup mutt Juno, who would devour an entire gazelle if you wrapped it in bacon and tossed it in the air, despite the fact she has only two crooked teeth left in her head.
Living — or at least dreaming — the life of an action hero5 minute read Preview Saturday, May. 28, 2022
Six months into retirement, my life is more exciting than ever.
That’s because at the tender age of 65 I have been transformed into an action hero — at least in my dreams.
When I was younger, my dreams were decidedly dull. For example, I can clearly recall one dream that consisted entirely of me visiting Eaton’s to buy a pair of winter gloves. No thrills, no spills, no X-rated content. Just buying a pair of (bad word) gloves.
But it would be putting it mildly to say things have changed now that I have more time on my hands. Now — and the bumps and bruises on my body are proof of this — it appears as if my dreams are trying to kill me.
Backward your syntax must be before like Yoda can you talk5 minute read Preview Saturday, May. 21, 2022
Attention must be paid when TV’s red lights of doom start blinking5 minute read Preview Saturday, May. 7, 2022
I have no wish to wallow in self-pity, but I think you should know my wife and I barely survived a crisis last weekend when the third Colorado low in three weeks smacked this province head-on.
I am not talking about the fact that we had to run the submersible pump in our back yard for three consecutive days to prevent an ocean of melted snow and rainwater from pouring into our basement.
No, I am talking about something even more horrifying. What I am trying to say — and I recommend you sit down before reading this next part — is that, as rain thundered down and the NHL playoffs were getting under way, the beloved big-screen TV in our den dropped dead.
It is difficult to describe the anguish of having your favourite appliance suddenly give up the ghost at a time when it is unsafe to leave the comfort of your den, but I will try: It was really, really horrible!
Turns out you want a surgeon who’s Thunderstruck after all5 minute read Preview Saturday, Apr. 23, 2022
Joy and terror in the time of grandparenthood5 minute read Preview Saturday, Apr. 9, 2022
I can tell you from personal experience that being a grandparent definitely has its moments.
But today’s column is not about the fact that my new granddaughter, Ivy, is the most remarkable infant in the known universe.
No, today’s column is about some of the magical moments experienced by my plucky sister-in-law Shelley, who recently returned from spending two months visiting her two young grandsons in Australia.
Prepare to have your heartstrings tugged, because Shelley agreed to share two especially heart-touching grandparent moments with me the other day during a family brunch at the Qualico Family Centre in Assiniboine Park.
Hapless columnist to mimic flightless bird5 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 26, 2022
It seems like every other day scientists are breathlessly announcing they have discovered ice somewhere else in our solar system.
They’ve famously detected icy deposits on other planets, on moons, in comets, even in the gigantic rings of Saturn.
Q: Is that scientifically awesome, or what?
A: NO! Sorry, I hate to throw your sense of wonder into the deep freeze, but the scientific truth is we have so much (bad word) ice on this planet that the last thing we need to do is waste time wandering around the galaxy looking for more.
Fifty shades of… periwinkle?5 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 19, 2022
Given the exceedingly grim nature of the world at the moment, I suspect we could all use a little happy news.
Fortunately, I have two upbeat nuggets to share with you today, starting with the fact that, if you look out your window right now, you will notice that the gigantic snowbanks sealing you off from the rest of the world are about half a centimetre smaller than they were the day before.
That’s because the March equinox — the astronomical first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere — rolls into Winnipeg Sunday morning at precisely 10:32 a.m., meaning the coldest and snowiest winter in modern memory is finally drawing to a close.
As if that wasn’t enough to thaw your frozen spirits, the second upbeat nugget is even better — the fact there is just one more sleep until the season of rebirth and renewal arrives means it’s time once again for Mr. Doug’s Annual Spring Fashion Report.
From poop to pits: sniffing out a business opportunity5 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 5, 2022
Over the almost 40 years I spent in the newspaper business, I like to think I developed a nose for news, an innate ability to sniff out big stories.
Now that I’m mostly retired, however, I need to retrain my journalistic nostrils to track down other ways to make a little extra cash in my spare time.
Which explains why I became so excited last week when, while randomly Googling words on the home computer, I stumbled on multiple news reports explaining how I can employ my highly trained nose to earn more than $6,000 in just two months.
You will think I am making this up, but it seems a plant-based pet food company in Britain is making headlines around the world by offering to pay a dog owner more than $6,000 to switch their canine’s diet for two months and — you might want to sit down before reading this next bit — keep track of their pet’s poop smells.
Squirrels are the cutest, furriest terrorists you might ever meet5 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022
You’ll never guess who just discovered the joy of winter5 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022
This probably will not surprise longtime readers, but I am not one of those hardy Manitobans who courageously embraces outdoor activities during the winter months.
No, I am one of those surly people who bravely embraces their blankets and then pulls them over their head and refuses to get out of bed when the temperature plummets to the point where your medically valuable organs freeze if you are foolish enough to venture outside.
In contrast, my wife cannot get enough of “fun” winter activities, such as cross-country skiing and walking and building snow persons and sitting around the backyard fire pit with a steaming mug of hot chocolate while snow accumulates on the top of her head.
Which explains why every Sunday morning, while I hide under the covers, my wife will join up with our outdoorsy friends Cathy and Paul to engage in some manner of winter adventure. Last Sunday, as I pretended to be asleep, my spouse flicked on the lights and explained it was time for me to get up.
Is that a guitar in your pants or are you just happy to see me?5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022
It wasn’t exactly the crime of the century, but it still managed to make headlines around the world.
That’s because this heist highlighted what appears to be the newest criminal trend — thieves making slow-motion getaways after stuffing stolen items down their pants.
In the most recent case, York Regional Police are searching for a man who wandered into a music store in Richmond Hill, Ont., on Dec. 20 and stole an $8,000 guitar by stashing it in his “extremely large, baggy pants.”
Surveillance video shows the culprit — who was wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs baseball cap, by the way — sitting on a stool in the store and sliding the neck of the $8,000 Gibson Custom Shop 60th Anniversary ‘59 Les Paul standard electric guitar down his pants and concealing the body under his jacket.
Shovelling kid proves heroes come in all shapes and sighs5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022
Just when he thought he was out, the treadmill pulls him back in5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022
When it comes to a granddaughter, Doug’s in the Ivy leagues5 minute read Preview Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021
Variety’s Winter Wonderland returns, brings holiday cheer to children5 minute read Preview Monday, Nov. 22, 2021
Candy-corn ‘franken-weenie’ a monstrous creation5 minute read Preview Monday, Oct. 25, 2021
What with there being only six sleeps left until Halloween, I strongly suggest you drop everything — unless it’s a baby or a hot cup of coffee — and head to the store to stock up on candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters, assuming you get any this year.
As soon as I finish writing these words, I personally will be driving to the grocery store to purchase several hundred miniature chocolate bars, despite the fact that last year, the first Halloween of the coronavirus pandemic, we didn’t have a single ghost or goblin or pint-sized Donald Trump darkening our doorway and demanding sugary goodness.
The rule in our house — one that I made up and strictly enforce — is that any leftover Halloween candy can be consumed by the resident newspaper columnist without being forced to endure unwarranted abuse or taunting from any member of his family, including the dogs.
I’m hoping this year we will get some physically distanced kids so my wife will once again experience the joy of doling out treats with kitchen tongs, or possibly a hockey stick, as recommended last Halloween by Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief pubic health officer.
We are not amused: Queen told to ditch nightly tipple5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021
Time to make skeeters Manitoba’s official insect5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021
Before we get to today’s topic, which is paying tribute to the blood-sucking mosquito, I want to give a shout out to the provincial government for honouring Manitoba’s most famous, fearsome and furry resident.
As most of you already know, last week Manitoba’s government introduced legislation to designate the polar bear, the world’s largest living land carnivore, as an official provincial emblem.
“Northern Manitoba is known internationally for its polar bears, tourists come from around the globe to see and learn about these majestic animals in their natural habitat in Churchill,” our caretaker premier, Kelvin Goertzen, announced in a news release Friday.
“Recognizing the polar bear as an official symbol of Manitoba would help build on our province’s brand as the ‘polar bear capital of the world’ and a must-see, one-of-a-kind tourism attraction for visitors of all ages.”
Too much or never enough? Meat-scented gift ideas5 minute read Preview Monday, Oct. 11, 2021
I was just starting to nod off the other night when my wife bolted upright in bed.
“I think I smell something,” she sniffed, flicking the light on in our bedroom. “It smells like smoke!”
Which is when she climbed out of bed and slowly began wandering around our bedroom, testing the air until finally she hovered directly over my weary head and inhaled deeply.
“It’s your… hair!” is what she chirped with surprise. “Your hair smells like a burning fireplace.”
Is the foil on a little tight, Doug?5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Sep. 29, 2021
Being a crusading newspaper columnist, I am always on the lookout for hip and happening new trends to check out.
Which explains why the other day I decided to wrap my feet in aluminum foil.
There I was, parked in front of the home computer, perusing random sites on the internet, when I stumbled on a website with this intriguing headline: “Try wrapping your feet in aluminum foil!”
The website, tips-and-tricks.co, featured a story about all the cool things you can do with aluminum foil, such as getting rid of static cling, sharpening your scissors, and ironing clothes when you don’t have time to iron your clothes.
Trying to get a handle on 65 candles6 minute read Preview Monday, Sep. 27, 2021
I don’t know how I managed it, but somehow I have gone from being the youngest person in our newsroom to the oldest.
Back in 1982, there I was, a bright-eyed rookie reporter, sitting in our old building on Carlton Street, wearing a super-skinny leather tie that was in style at the time and a pair of jeans with a (wait for it) 32-inch waist.
I was 26 years old at the time and, despite the fact we did not have cellphones or the ability to Google random facts, 1982 was an amazing time to be a young person.
A guy named Trudeau was sitting in the prime minister’s chair, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was doing blockbuster business at the box office, Michael Jackson’s Thriller was rocketing to the top of the charts, Argentina and the U.K. went to war over the Falkland Islands, and Queen Elizabeth flew over to help proclaim the Constitution Act on a rainy day in Ottawa, helping to make us fully independent of Great Britain.
So long summer; bring on autumn’s charms5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2021
I hate shrieking at readers in all caps, but there’s something I need to share as loudly as possible — SUMMER IS OVER!
Seriously, summer will vanish at 2:20 p.m. today when, astronomically speaking, the autumnal equinox rolls into town to signal the first official day of fall.
For those of you who do not own white lab coats and pocket protectors, the equinox is the precise moment that the sun crosses the celestial equator — you know, the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator — from north to south, and vice versa in March.
It marks the two times each year (spring and fall) when day and night are roughly the same length because the sun shines directly on the equator, which will mean something if you are reading today’s column while standing on the equator, but otherwise, never mind.
A plurality of pepperoni, if you please5 minute read Preview Monday, Sep. 20, 2021
Prepare to become extremely excited, kids, because the big day is finally here.
As most of you already know, today, Sept. 20, is (insert dramatic pause here) National Pepperoni Pizza Day, the day on which we are urged to celebrate by ordering a pizza the size and shape of a manhole cover.
“Pepperonis are the indisputable king of the pizza topping world, and for good reason — everyone likes pepperoni pizza!” gushes the website nationaltoday.com. “Looking for a crowd pleaser? Pizza’s your go-to. Why? Well, because only one in 50 people surveyed hate it. There might not be anything else in the world that 98 per cent of people agree on!”
Speaking of pizza, I hasten to add that today also happens to be — and I have heard this from reliable sources that almost never lie to me — the date of the federal election.
Beasts a-blurtin’11 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 11, 2021
If it walks like a duck and talks like a human, chances are it’s getting scientists very excited and making headlines around the world.
For the record, we’re not talking about Donald or Daffy or some other cartoon duck. No, we’re talking about recordings of an Australian musk duck named “Ripper” repeatedly saying what sounds like “you bloody fool.”
The 34-year-old recording, recently made public, appears to be the first documented evidence of the species being able to mimic sounds and has researchers reviewing the evolution of vocal language learning in birds.
According to news reports, Ripper, a male musk duck reared in captivity at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, southwest of Canberra, was recorded vocalizing the sound of doors slamming shut as well as the words “you bloody fool,” a phrase he likely learned from his caretaker.
The grass is always greener when it’s artificial5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Sep. 8, 2021
The good news is that my famously lousy lawn is now entirely green.
The bad news — and all you home and garden enthusiasts will appreciate this — is that it is now two distinct shades of green.
For the record, the portions of my lawn made up of real grass are, thanks to the recent intense rains, the sort of soothing green that is found in nature.
But in my back yard, in the spot where our giant inflatable pool used to sit, there is what appears to be a gigantic crop circle that is the same sort of electric green you would normally find on a miniature golf course.
At long last, pair of beer-related mysteries solved5 minute read Preview Tuesday, Sep. 7, 2021
Now that they have finally solved most of the mysteries of the known universe, scientists finally have enough time on their hands to focus on things that really matter.
As most of you educated readers have already deduced, I am referring to the two great mysteries that have surrounded the consumption of beer since the first pint was poured.
I do not wish to crack open my own six-pack, so to speak, but I personally have a pretty amazing journalistic track record when it comes to solving beer-related mysteries.
For instance, in 2019, it was my readers who helped author and Canadian Football League historian Paul Woods track down the mysterious fan who flung a beer can from the stands at the 1991 Grey Cup in Winnipeg, narrowly missing Raghib “Rocket” Ismail of the Toronto Argonauts as he raced into the end zone to score the game-clinching touchdown.
I was tickled pink to caddie for these Twisted Sisters6 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021
My ugly, smelly, old fridge is out to get me5 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021
I don’t normally find myself seething with rage as I flip through the pages of Reader’s Digest, but this time I couldn’t help myself.
What triggered my overflowing anger was an enlightening article entitled “Seven Ways You’re Shortening the Life of Your Refrigerator.”
It contained helpful tips on things you should — or shouldn’t — do if you want to ensure your fridge enjoys a long and healthy life in your kitchen.
For instance, Tip No. 7 — “You ignore weird noises or constant running” — explained that if your fridge is always running, or running louder than usual, you should take action right away.
Tail definitely wags the dog in this household5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021
There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m going to just blurt it out — I am home alone!
I am not looking for sympathy, but my beloved spouse, She Who Must Not Be Named, is spending a couple of days relaxing at a cottage at the lake with her sister and a few close friends.
What that means — and you are going to have a hard time believing this — is that our two small white fluffy dogs and I have been left to our own devices, so to speak.
Again, I am not looking for sympathy, but I am not entirely sure my survival skills are equal to the task in the sense that operating any of the high-tech labour-saving devices in our home (other than the big-screen TV) is pretty much beyond my limited capabilities.
It appears to be leap year in frog-infested yard5 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 31, 2021
There has been a lot of high jumping going on at my house over the past week.
No, I’m not referring to the stunning displays of athleticism playing out on the big-screen TV in my den, where I have been spending all of my free time watching athletes in Spider-Man-style Spandex suits strutting their stuff at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
And, no, I am not referring to high-jumping grasshoppers, although we are currently hip deep in those plant-eating pests.
What I am referring to is the fact that our backyard has been invaded by an army of frogs of biblical proportions.
Olympians crossed the sportsmanship line with bites, kicks and brawls11 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 31, 2021
Cool comfort more than worth the cost5 minute read Preview Monday, Jul. 26, 2021
I would like to begin today’s column with the following expression of unfettered joy: “Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!”
That upbeat icy statement is inspired by the fact that, for the first time in over three (very bad word) weeks, the inside of my house does not feel like an oven.
In fact, as I write these words on the home computer, I am feeling chilly to the point where I may have to swap my Bermuda shorts for a pair of fuzzy sweatpants.
That’s because a few minutes ago our beloved air-conditioning guy, Gerry, finished the final tweaks on our brand new AC unit, which replaced the 32-year-old system that dropped dead the day before Canada Day.
Children's Rehabilitation Foundation's top exec reflects on gratifying career11 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2021
Around the world, some unique prizes are up for grabs for getting your jabs5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2021
Of Stephen King, sleepless nights and thunderous terror5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 9, 2021
I was reading an interview with iconic horror author Stephen King in the Wall Street Journal’s magazine the other morning when, suddenly and without warning, I was engulfed by a wave of terror and rage.
For the record, in the interview, the famed writer talked about the new TV adaptation of his book Lisey’s Story, and shared how important getting a good night’s sleep is for someone who makes a living writing.
“I usually get about six hours a night, sometimes seven. But I also try to take a nap in the afternoon, about an hour,” King said of his sleep schedule. “So I’m going to say I get maybe seven and a half hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.”
When I read those words — which I was only able to do because my eyelids were propped open with toothpicks — I was transformed from an easygoing newspaper columnist into a seething rage monster.
Healthier choices are surely within reach5 minute read Preview Monday, Jun. 7, 2021
I know that I have a tendency to exaggerate wildly, but the truth is this is something that happens to me all the time.
It happened again, suddenly and without warning, late last week as I bravely pushed my little shopping cart up and down the aisles of our local grocery store.
As I strolled, heroically ignoring shelves groaning with cookies and other sugary delights, I heard a plaintive voice crying out from behind my back.
“Sir! Sir! Sir!” the voice called out. “Can you please help me?”
Companies team up to grant polar bear-loving senior her dream getaway6 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jun. 2, 2021
Mickelson in good company among middle-aged athletes with championship performances10 minute read Preview Saturday, May. 29, 2021
Manitoba's oldest lawyer, 95, has been doling out legal advice for seven decades11 minute read Preview Friday, May. 28, 2021
Milking a dog-tased-for-biting-cow story for all it’s worth5 minute read Preview Saturday, May. 22, 2021
There is a famous bit of journalistic wisdom that states: When a dog bites a man it’s not newsworthy because it happens all the time.
Using the same logic, however, it is considered newsworthy when the story is turned on its head and the man is the one doing the biting instead of the dog.
“It’s News! Man Bites Dog,” the Reuters news agency chirped in a yarn about a man chomping on a mutt in December 2007.
It goes without saying that the weirder the circumstances surrounding the biting, the more newsworthy the story becomes.
Winnipeg Foundation's first Indigenous, two-spirit CEO to help build brighter future11 minute read Preview Tuesday, May. 18, 2021
The old porcelain potty makes a perfect planter5 minute read Preview Wednesday, May. 12, 2021
What with being trapped in the surging third wave of a global pandemic amid heightened public health restrictions, today seems like the perfect time to talk about toilets.
As regular readers are already aware, I am something of self-styled expert when it comes to the important role commodes play in modern society.
Over the years, I have written dozens of hard-hitting columns on toilets, including major contests wherein you can win a toilet equipped with a big-screen TV and state-of-the-art stereo system; motion-activated night lights that transform your toilet into a 1970s-style disco ball; and the gripping story of a Canadian stuntwoman who set a world record a few years back for being the fastest person on a toilet after equipping her throne with wheels and an engine and racing it at a speed of 75 km/h around Sydney Olympic Park in Australia.
Today, however, I want to talk about a growing trend wherein hip gardeners fill their old commodes with soil and flowers and plant them on their lawns in a sincere and humanitarian effort to make their neighbours hate them.
And the award for Best Cringeworthy Awards Speech goes to…11 minute read Preview Saturday, May. 1, 2021
Vaccine supersite works smoothly as columnist gets Pfizered in the arm6 minute read Preview Saturday, Apr. 24, 2021
It's a ruff job, but these marvellous mutts ready to put it all on the line for Busch5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Apr. 21, 2021
Thompson boy among the lucky who've escaped sinkhole tragedy10 minute read Preview Saturday, Apr. 17, 2021
Seniors walking, pedalling and wheeling to raise money, earn virtual travel experiences5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Apr. 14, 2021
Madam Speaker, I rise to relay a big, hairy apology from…5 minute read Preview Saturday, Apr. 10, 2021
Staff transform paper bags into bundles of breakfast joy for residents5 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 27, 2021
Sit? Lie down? How about 'paint another lovely abstract, you furry genius?'10 minute read Preview Saturday, Mar. 20, 2021
Standup guy marks year-long commitment to daily storytime for kids7 minute read Preview Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2021
Who needs vibrant colours when you have grey, yellow?5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2021
Grade 6 kids have warm, wise cures for COVID blues7 minute read Preview Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2021
With apologies to Forrest Gump, asking young children for serious advice in the middle of a pandemic is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re going to get.
I know this is for a fact because late last week I spent more than an hour with the wise-beyond-their-years kids in teacher Marlene van der Zweep’s Grade 6 class at St. Alphonsus School in East Kildonan.
I visited the school for I Love to Read Month in the sense I appeared on a video-conferencing app, which allowed me to talk while the students stared at gigantic versions of my head on huge screens at the front of two classrooms.
In exchange for visiting schools, I always make the students write something to find out what’s on their minds. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I gave them this weighty assignment — write a letter describing how to cheer someone up in the middle of a global pandemic.
Rascally rodent’s death a smelly, couch-ruining affair5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021
Quit yelling, Peloton; forget to put Poise in your pants?5 minute read Preview Monday, Feb. 22, 2021
A glass of Pinot the same vintage as that hotdog, please5 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021
Officially dull and boring, and I couldn’t be happier6 minute read Preview Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021
Winnipeggers' $60-M windfall impressive, but there have been bigger jackpots11 minute read Preview Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021
Former news anchor Gord Leclerc charts new path with his own reno company9 minute read Preview Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021
I made the short list for governor general! And I’m on it!6 minute read Preview Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021
I had a little spare time on my hands this week so I decided to perform a valuable public service in the form of floating a few potential candidates for the vacant governor general’s post.
Unless you have been hiding in a drain pipe for the past month, you will already know that Julie Payette is no longer governor general because it turns out she really didn’t want to be governor general in the first place.
By all accounts, when it comes to carrying out the duties and responsibilities of the Queen’s representative in Canada, Payette was an excellent astronaut, because she’s great working in a vacuum.
In considering potential replacements, it is important to keep in mind precisely what a governor general is expected to do. So if anyone reading today’s newspaper knows exactly what that is, please send us an email.
St. Vital woman's frozen polar bears nab her a slot on Live with Kelly and Ryan6 minute read Preview Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021
It’s hockey night in snowplow land6 minute read Preview Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021
Like most hockey-mad Manitobans, I could not be more happy that the new NHL season is underway, even if our Jets are only playing 56 games in a pandemic-reduced schedule against strictly Canadian opponents.
The only downside for me is that a lot of the games keep me up past my bedtime, which means I am forced to triple my normal caffeine intake the following morning and prop my droopy eyelids up with toothpicks.
Speaking of hockey, today is an extremely special day, and not just because the Jets will be facing off against the Ottawa Senators at 9 p.m. at Bell MTS Place.
Prepare to be unreasonably alarmed, because today, Saturday, Jan. 23, along with being Day 4 in the post-Trump era and the day on which I can get my hair cut after 10 weeks because restrictions are supposed to be relaxed, also happens to be (insert dramatic pause) Snowplow Mailbox Hockey Day.
Winnipegger's slice-of-life photos immortalized on Jones Soda bottles6 minute read Preview Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021
McGarry family to celebrate late mom's life, end of difficult year with Riverview fireworks5 minute read Preview Monday, Dec. 21, 2020
'Tis the season for greedy Grinches to steal the packages off your doorstep3 minute read Preview Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020
Isolated folks, frontline workers bowled over by Soup Fairies' generosity6 minute read Preview Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020
COVID hits pause for mall's Mr. & Mrs. Claus, so they're working remotely5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020
No Christmas trees, no Christmas trees — the lots are empty as can be6 minute read Preview Monday, Dec. 7, 2020
Pyjama project seeks to give 2,020 PJs to needy kids at Christmas5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020
Terminal diagnosis isn't stopping this firecracker of kindness from helping others7 minute read Preview Monday, Nov. 30, 2020
Toy story: Children’s Hospital moves to online donations for holiday campaign4 minute read Preview Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020
Athletes driven to tears by personal loss, unexpected achievement11 minute read Preview Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020
Disney nonagenarian worth considering as Donald ducks results5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020
And the world record for most time in a tub goes to… me!5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020
I don’t wish to complain, but I found myself in a rather awkward position the other morning.
I was lying on my back, reading the newspaper, when, suddenly and without warning, my cellphone began to chirp.
Reaching over to the small shelf beside me, I quickly scooped up the phone and blurted: “Good Morning!”
The voice on the other end of the line belonged to my editor, who was calling to have a in-depth discussion about professional journalism.
There’s real bravery in acknowledging our vulnerabilities6 minute read Preview Monday, Nov. 9, 2020
Vicious sword attacks are far from uncommon in the 21st century10 minute read Preview Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020
You win some, you lose some, am I right?5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020
Call me a hip and happening modern newspaper columnist if you must, but the truth is I am not a big believer in traditions.
I personally do not have time for traditions, because I am too busy doing the same things year after year after year.
For example, once every four years I do exactly the same thing on this date — I sit down, stuff my face with leftover Halloween candy, and then write an in-depth analysis of the U.S. election.
In analyzing the results of last night’s thrilling U.S. election, we media pundits are forced to ask ourselves an extremely challenging question, namely: What exactly are the results of last night’s thrilling U.S. election?
Indigenous lawyer on mission to combat systemic racism in justice system13 minute read Preview Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020
Getting by on grotesque exaggeration, amusing lies5 minute read Preview Monday, Oct. 19, 2020
What with being a big-shot newspaper columnist, I was feeling pretty full of myself last week when I was invited to appear in a video celebrating World Values Day.
The general idea was that, in the video, I would discuss in an intelligent manner one core value and why it is important to me in my exciting life as a crusading humour columnist.
After agreeing to take part, however, I began to have some deeper thoughts, such as the following: “Values? Yikes, I should really try to get some before appearing in this (bad word) video.”
So I made a cup of coffee, plopped down in the office chair in front of my home computer, and attempted to get my brain to compile a list of the values that are important to me.
New CMHR boss optimistic about putting museum on new course13 minute read Preview Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020
The naked truth: Manitobans are very reckless drivers5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020
It’s official, Manitoba — you are really lousy drivers.
Sorry, to be precise, what I actually meant to say is that you are really reckless drivers.
As regular readers already know, I have written a number of columns complaining about how Manitoba drivers enjoy texting behind the wheel, or applying makeup, or using an electric razor, as opposed to focusing on more mundane activities, such as (Why not?) using the steering wheel to avoid crashing into large objects.
The good news is you no longer have to accept my negative opinion of your driving habits, because scientific experts have weighed in on the issue.
Cars, diaries and priceless art eventually find their way home11 minute read Preview Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020
C’mon, hosers, crack a cold one5 minute read Preview Monday, Sep. 28, 2020
Just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did last week, today I need to address a burgeoning national crisis.
For the record, I am not talking about the global COVID-19 pandemic. No, I am referring to an even more shocking situation — Canada’s rapidly declining beer consumption.
Q: Is that shocking, or what?
A: Yes, it is, because we, as Canadians, live in a nation that is built on two important patriotic pillars: We watch a lot of hockey and we drink a lot of beer!
Traffic reporting guru charts day-trip detours to avoid boredom6 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 26, 2020
Canadian-mined 102-carat uber-diamond on the auction block11 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 19, 2020
Lessons in good coverage just part of life as big-shot newspaper columnist5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2020
Risks may not be readily apparent, but kite flying can prove deadly10 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 12, 2020
See ya, summer, we’re on to the year’s sexiest season4 minute read Preview Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2020
Put down this newspaper and stuff your fingers in your ears, kids, because there’s something I need to blurt out — SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER!
I apologize for not breaking this news to you more gently, but there is nothing we professional newspaper columnists enjoy more than A) being the bearers of bad tidings; and B) activating the caps-lock feature on our computer keyboards.
I have just looked at my official Free Press desktop calendar and there are (gasp!) only 15 more days until summer is officially replaced with fall.
According to the website timeanddate.com (Slogan: “If you want to have a good time, you should buy a good watch!”), fall formally arrives in Winnipeg on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at precisely 8:30 a.m., which is when, astronomically speaking, the September (or autumnal) equinox rolls into town.
Ex-Bomber's widow hopes to raise awareness about concussions9 minute read Preview Tuesday, Sep. 8, 2020
Changing the game forever11 minute read Preview Saturday, Sep. 5, 2020
By any measure, John Thompson was a towering figure, an icon in the Black community and a giant in the world of collegiate sports.
At 6-10, with a trademark white towel slung over his shoulder, Thompson literally and figuratively towered over the Georgetown Hoyas for decades and in 1984 became the first Black coach to lead a team to the NCAA men’s basketball championship.
Thompson, who died last week at the age of 78, never shied away from speaking his mind, especially on the role of race in both sports and society. He once famously walked off the court before a game to protest an NCAA rule he felt hurt minority athletes.
In 1982, a reporter asked the Hall of Famer how he felt about being the first Black coach to take a team to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. “I resent the hell out of that question if it implies I am the first Black coach competent enough to take a team to the Final Four,” he declared. “Other Blacks have been denied the right in this country; coaches who have the ability. I don’t take any pride in being the first Black coach in the Final Four. I find the question extremely offensive.”
‘Outstanding local personality’ helps charities own the podium5 minute read Preview Monday, Aug. 31, 2020
What with being an official OLP — “Outstanding Local Personality” — there are few things I take more seriously than attending events to support local charities.
This is partly because I feel a moral obligation to do my part to support organizations making our city a better place in which to live, and also because, as a newspaper columnist, it is impossible for me to turn down a free lunch.
It was probably that second thing that led me, earlier this month, at the outset of my two-week vacation, to represent this newspaper in the second annual Joe Aiello Bocce Ball Tournament in support of the Grace Hospital Foundation.
I felt compelled to take part because Joe, a familiar voice on Winnipeg rock radio for decades, is a great guy, and the funds raised were going toward the redevelopment of the hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging Department and to purchase a much-needed echocardiogram machine.
Roadside attractions no match for miniature motel loo to rue4 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020
I have seen some mighty impressive roadside art during my travels as a big-shot newspaper columnist.
For instance, I have looked on in awe at “Sunny,” the world’s largest free-standing banana, a 10-metre tall, 2,800-kilogram yellow behemoth that towers over the town of Melita.
The big banana stands out for me because I believe it has huge appeal.
I have also stood ogling in disbelief at the world’s largest painting on an easel, a seven-by-10-metre reproduction of one of Vincent van Gogh’s sunflower masterpieces which weighs 3,600 kilograms and sits on a nearly 5,000-kilogram, 23-metre-high easel, and soars above the skyline in Altona.
Rumours of these celebrity passings were greatly exaggerated11 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020
Facing the facts about fictions: Challenging conspiracy theories from Area 51 to 9/1111 minute read Preview Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020
Sports aren’t most important thing now6 minute read Preview Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020
I have a confession to make — I didn’t stay up late Wednesday night to watch the Jets down the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 in an exhibition game that marked their first action since the NHL went dark in mid-March.
I also did not park myself in front of the big-screen TV in my den on Saturday to look on as the Jets faced off with the Calgary Flames in the first game of a best-of-five series for the right to compete in the 16-team Stanley Cup playoffs that will apparently run into October.
OK, technically, I am writing these words on Friday morning, the day before the game, but the central point I am trying to make is that I don’t plan on watching.
Before you grab pitchforks, fire up your torches and send me angry letters on your “I (heart) the Jets” stationery, allow me to explain.
Some of world's biggest icons swapped given monikers for chosen ones11 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 25, 2020
Life on the links remains rough for woeful Duffer Doug5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jul. 22, 2020
Modern-day hit joins long list of grisly mob slayings11 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 18, 2020
Captain's Boil owner hopes help comes through for rare orange lobster6 minute read Preview Friday, Jul. 17, 2020
Tossing hats in the ring, feet in their mouths4 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jul. 15, 2020
On the surface, these three guys don’t seem to have a whole lot in common.
For the record, we’re talking about incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and famously outlandish rapper/business mogul Kanye West.
When you dig a bit deeper, however, two striking similarities jump out. For starters, all three are running this year for the highest office in the United States, although in Kanye’s case you pretty much have to take his word for it.
Speaking of words, the second thing all three of these celebrities share is a unique gift for planting their feet squarely in their mouths, saying exactly the wrong thing at the wrong time, uttering quirky quotes that often have little basis in reality.
Pet rescue shelter owner tackles cancer the way she tackles everything: head on7 minute read Preview Monday, Jul. 13, 2020
These presidential candidates are on the fringe (of reality)11 minute read Preview Saturday, Jul. 11, 2020
When it comes to our avian friends, I'm just a big weenie5 minute read Preview Wednesday, Jul. 8, 2020
Bombers fan happy to kick things up a gotch6 minute read Preview Saturday, Jun. 20, 2020
Last year, Winnipeg Blue Bomber super fan Dave (Woody) Heywood was living the dream.
This summer, thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more like a nightmare.
That’s just the way it goes when you are a fanatical fan living in the home of the defending Grey Cup champions and looking at the grim possibility of a year without football.
“I’m feeling a little bit lost — what do you do?” said Heywood, 56, arguably best known as the last of the Gotch Men, a legendary group of local football fans who rocketed to fame by attending every Bomber game, regardless of the weather, in their underwear.