This shot is from Sunday's Santa Claus parade in St. John's. We were, of course, expecting to see elves, shepherds, reindeer, snowmen and other figures stroll past us; the dark lord of the Sith was, indeed, a surprise. With stormtroopers, no less.
On Nov. 29, 1855 - or 150 years ago, today - the Grand Trunk Railroad was completed between Montreal and Borden, Ont. (Classic rock stations everywhere ought to flick their lighters today in honour of Grand Funk.)
Rick Mercer has had success asking readers of his blog (and, this fall, viewers of Mercer Report) to play around with selected images. A shot of Jean Chretien on a scooter was, after all, too much to resist. Click here and here to see images like the one above.
Stevie Cameron has revived her blog (she had been writing about her journey to Israel, where her husband had been working) with a post about the Airbus affair, now that the matter appears to have been exhausted in the courts. (In the interests of disclosure, I did a little footwork for Stevie Cameron and her coauthor, Harvey Cashore, for their 2001 book The Last Amigo.)
The "Wilhelm scream" is one of the best inside jokes in the movie business -- although it's hardly "inside," as millions of people have likely been told about how a single sound effect (a bone-chilling scream) has made its way into dozens of movies and TV shows since it was recorded in 1951.
On Nov. 27, 1989, the Congregation of Irish Christian Brothers announced it would close the Mount Cashel Orphanage, which at that point was in the midst of a growing scandal about sexual abuse at the St. John's institution. Click here to hear an interview from that day between Michael Enright of CBC Radio's As It Happens and Chris Decker, the acting minister of social services. As I recall, the building was demolished in 1990. The site is now the location of a Sobeys supermarket, and another part of the land was turned to the Howley Estates subdivision.
Even if you haven't seen The March of the Penguins - the hit documentary about penguins managing to survive in Antarctica, in the face of an array of challenges - you might like this game. It sets you up as a father penguin; while your mate has gone off to fish, you must protect your egg from the elements, other penguins that collide with you, scavengers, rocks, cracks in the ice, and so on. It's an easy game to pick up, and one kids will like as much as adults.
With election talk now fully engaged, this is a place that political operatives and junkies may want to visit once more. (It was a popular watering hole during the 2004 election.) The last few days have been busy enough, but expect things to heat up even more in the next couple of days.
A long-running wink from Google has been its playful (and occasionally sombre) retooling of its logo for holidays and special occasions, including anniversaries of important dates and births of folks like Albert Einstein.
Here's one for a rainy afternoon: a list of museums that have something to offer for those who - for reasons of distance or budget - cannot get to the real thing. Within minutes, without leaving your chair, you can look at the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, take a crash course in Bauhaus design, and learn about the history of advertising. Some of the world's premier museums and galleries are present here; so too are some well-off-the-beaten-track sites, such as one that only collects images of candy cigarettes.
B.C-based writer and broadcaster Don Genova has made food writing his niche, and Pacific Palate is where his interests run rampant. (He's been writing about food regularly for CBC Radio.) Apart from articles and features, you can listen to recent podcasts, in which you'll meet a barbecue genius, a well-known food editor, an obesity expert and many others.
How fast is your Internet connection? Here's a quick way to find out. Log on to Internet Frog and check the "speed test" button. Within moments, you'll have a good indication - with benchmarks provided for comparison's sake.
Many sports fans get that glassy-eyed look when they see a valuable card of a legendary baseball player; you won't find the real thing here, but you will see some extraordinary images of sometimes-whole collections of sporting card lines.
Copyscape says it can detect plagiarism - of your own work. So, out of curiosity, I plugged in the address of my blog, hit enter, and sat back to see what would happen. As it turned out, the suspects were all items that I had quoted (with attribution, of course) and linked to.
Political junkies - heck, many voters, even of the casual variety - may be interested in a tool called Election Predictor from Hill & Knowlton. Play around with variables and see how seat counts can change.
Better check your list twice for the more senior recipients on your list. From the Scotsman:
THE over-50s are fed up ripping open their Christmas presents to find the same old boring scented candles, slippers and socks every year.
Research released yesterday says the situation is so bad that some entrepreneurial older people resell their gifts at car boot sales while others recycle them in an attempt to palm them off on unsuspecting friends and family.
On Nov. 26, 1938, Rich Little was born. Little was a full-fledged celebrity - and a fixture on television specials, talk shows, roasts and the like - while I was growing up. His style of comedy was considered a bit dated by the time Saturday Night Live rolled along, but he's always made me chuckle. The image on the right, of course, is not actually Richard Nixon; poke around Little's site to see his takes on other U.S. presidents and various celebrities.
Mr. Doskoch reports that the Globe's presses will be rolling off copies of the New York Times first thing. I subscribe to the Sunday NYT, which the Globe distributes, but being off the beaten path, I get it Monday morning. So, I envy any news junkie who gets their Times hit in a more timely way.
It's always interesting to read articles about Canadian affairs written for foreign consumption. (Aside from occasionally getting things spectacularly wrong, these pieces often serve as a great precis.) Today's entry: Reuters' roundup of Paul Martin's pre-election tangles.
It's Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving in the U.S., the biggest retail day of the year, and so named because many retailers feel they stop operating in the red and move into the profitable side of the ledger.
NBC's coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade went astray Thursday when it rolled tape of last year's parade instead of providing live coverage of an M&M balloon that crashed into a pole, injuring two:
At 11:47 a.m., as an 11-year-old girl and her 26-year-old sister were being treated for injuries, the parade's on-air announcers - Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker - kept up their light-hearted repartee from Herald Square, where the parade ends.
"Will these classic candymen get out of this delicious dilemma?" Mr. Roker asked, referring not to the accident but to the premise of the attraction, a red M&M's attempt to save his yellow counterpart, who had been blown from the basket of a hot-air balloon.
Hard to believe, but eight years have passed that infamous incident involving pepper spray at a demonstration at the APEC summit in Vancouver. Similarly, Jean Chrétien's off-the-cuff remark - "For me, pepper, I put it on my plate" - appears set to be one of the phrases for which he will be remembered.
The image at right is the cover of a University of British Columbia Press book that examined the demonstrations.
Dot Dot Dot is Morse code for the letter 'S,' the full message Guglielmo Marconi claimed to have received atop Signal Hill in St. John's in 1901. It ushered in the age of telecommunications. My maternal grandfather worked as a telegraph operator for Canadian Marconi on Signal Hill for many years.
As well, I have a habit of overusing the ellipsis when I write ... as frequent readers might notice.