We missed all the excitement of the last couple of weeks, regarding storms at least. We left for a vacation just before the first blizzard landed, and got back just after the last. My colleague Kathryn King compiled this photo gallery on CBC's Newfoundland and Labrador site; this pic, showing a Gander resident who evidently took things to a surreal level, is my favourite.
While I was trying to concentrate on something serious yesterday, I spent a few moments in goof-off mode, and found this through a random look of Flickr images. It reminds me of how much time I spent with a car set in my childhood. Here's the photographer's page.
[Surf's Up, as publishedin the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, March 6, 2008. Click here to read more columns.]
Imagine a large flea market or even a big garage sale … and then multiply it many thousands of times over. That will give you a sense of the scale of Etsy, one of the hottest sales sites on the web today.
Etsy Etsy sells handmade items, ranging from cutesy craft items to stunning one-of-a-kind wonders. Now, to be truthful, I’m not into crafty things at all, but I know well from family and friends that Etsy is one of those shopping sites that is full of the stuff that leads to impulse shopping. It’s like eBay, in that anyone can become a seller; it’s not like eBay, in that there are no auctions, and the prices are firm. They also seem kind of reasonable. You can search by keyword – plugging in “Newfoundland” yielded some good results in the Geolocator – or just browse around at your leisure.
Elsewhere this week
WriteSomething Ever been involved with one of those exercises (writing, team-building, you name it) where you add a sentence to something that someone else has already written? That’s the goal of WriteSomething, except that countless strangers are involved. Which means it means, well, nothing, except it does make you think. It’s fun to contribute, and don’t worry about narrative flow; by the time I thought of something to follow the last line I saw, another line had been published already.
Bedtime Tunes Sample new and older songs from the cooler side of the tracks. Play streams of what’s new, or check out some of the playlists. A podcast is also available, featuring a free daily tune, with the selection list including newer material as well as older chestnuts.
Jelly Battle This a hilarious game you can play alone or with a bunch of total strangers, using nothing more than a mouse and keyboard. You control a jelly-like creature
Killer Startups A reader asked me a few weeks ago how I keep up with what’s online. There’s simple answer: I don’t. I can’t – no one could. I rummage around a lot, read widely, and rely on a bunch of sources for tips and news. Killer Startups has a good reputation for keeping an eye on web applications as they’re getting started. The volume of material is high, though; you’d be surprised just how many people are trying to make a buck online, from everything from social networking toys and tools to health care programs to desktop utilities. The background material is usually handy, but the best stuff is available to paid subscribers only, and a high level of ad links may deter some would-be readers anyway.
Predictify Crowdsourcing is one of those ugly modern words that might actually survive, and I have to confess it has its uses. The idea is this: a vast number of people can help get a job done. Predictify is built on this emerging model. For fun, you can ask all and sundry out there to make predictions (or guesses) on a question you pose. For profit, your business can recruit paid answers, for a buck an answer. It may not be the most scientific research tool, but as so-called opt-in technologies develop, it opens up a host of opportunities for marketing companies, academic researchers and others.
My Paper Mind And I thought making a wicked paper airplane was challenging enough … My Paper Mind is a short film using paper cutouts and stop-motion animation. Have a look. It’s impressive.
This one's for my wife, who recalls seeing this performance while visiting friends in Britain c. 1982. Only a little earlier, the very thought of a Damned cover of a Rodgers & Hammerstein tune would have been very doubtful; in our house, it's been one of those songs we play from time to time for a good chuckle.
[Surf's Up, as publishedin the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008. Click here to read more columns.]
A site that judges books based solely on their covers, a much-anticipated trove of detail on the world around us, and a nothing-but-net site for basketball maniacs: they’re all in this week’s helping of what’s on the web.
Book Covers Yes, you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover … but that makes no sense, especially if you're at all involved in publication, and know just how much rides on a decent cover design. This page celebrates how good book covers work. There are plenty of examples, and it's often eye candy, but I would prefer some more words and discussion to back up the admittedly terrific choices.
Encyclopedia of Life I’ve written about the Encyclopedia of Life project in the past; today, one of the most ambitious web-based projects in history goes live. Interest has certainly been mounting. Imagine: an entry on every single living species documented in existence. Earlier this week, as buzz about the launch spread, traffic made it impossible to see even the holding pattern. If you’re curious about biology, natural history, plants, animals and the whole world around us, come back to check it out. It promises to be a treat.
March Madness March Madness, the college basketball tournament that often produces the very best that the sport can offer, is streamed live over the web, with an amazing array of choices. You have to register, but it’s free and it takes a minute. You have a couple of weeks to get ready, but then figuring out how to manage your choices is your problem!
Vanity Fair’s Hitchock tribute Vanity Fair’s newest edition, the annual Hollywood issue, includes a remarkable tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, with contemporary stars (Javier Bardem, Renee Zellweger, even Seth Rogen) taking the places of Grace Kelly, James Stewart and others in remakes of so many iconic Hitch images. See the portfolio here.
Design and the Elastic Mind We may be in a global village, but we have had to adapt to a great many changes to make that happen. How do our minds change as we deal with new technologies, multiple time zones, instantaneous and ubiquitous communications, energy challenges, and so on? This online companion to a Museum of Modern Art exhibit is about those very questions. Be patient as you poke around. It pays off.
Daddy, What’s a Modem? So, I can’t remember how long it’s been since our house had to rely on a dial-up connection. This is, indeed, a good thing. But there’s a whole generation coming up who don’t understand the way things were; they don’t get certain jokes (like the ancient one in the Simpsons where Marge picks up the phone, and hears static because three nerds living in the house are online, debating whether Kirk beats Picard). Here’s a fast way to give those kids a clue of what it was like: the wincing sound of dialup. Shudder away, shudder away.
Experimental Flash gallery Whether you know it or not, Flash has changed how you work online. YouTube alone is proof of that. Or, maybe, a slew of games that are so easy to play, because the demands on your internet connection are often so slight. It’s likely, though, that most users are getting just a sliver of a view of what Flash can do. Here’s a gallery of all kinds of directions where various developers would like to go with graphics-based technologies.
I believe I first heard Love Will Tear Us Apart in the fall of 1980, on CBC Radio's 90 Minutes with a Bullet, if memory serves, but I stand to be corrected. There weren't many avenues to hear a song like that in that pre-video, pre-web era. I was a teenager at the time, and was morbidly fascinated that Joy Division's singer, Ian Curtis, had killed himself just a month after the song came out. If the song might have seemed like a sneer of a retort to the sunniness of the Captain and Tenille, Curtis's death put it in another context. Curtis's young widow had the title of the song engraved into his headstone.
Over the years, the song has gutted me more than once, as my adult self understood and appreciated the song so much more.
Love Will Tear Us Apart has had a remarkable life of its own. It's now regarded as a classic, and likely will last for the ages. It's certainly been covered enough times, which is what this week's playlist is all about.
Damhnait Doyle: Love Will Tear Us Apart. The idea for this set comes from Dav's new album Lights Down Low, a colletion of covers. My first reaction on hearing this tune was, Why bother? It's similar enough to the Nouvelle Vague cover (see below) that I felt it was a bit of a retread. The cover, though, has grown on me, and I quite like the rest of the album, which Doyle put together with producer Danny Michel. (Any chance of a hometown concert soon, Dav?)
Nouvelle Vague: Love Will Tear Us Apart. The French hipsters opened their 2004 debut album - a set of covers with a bossa nova style of new wave songs (nouvelle vague loosely works as a translation of both, with a nod to French cinematic history - with this reworking of Joy Division, exchanging the thundering bassline with plucked guitars and chiming percussion.
Paul Young: Love Will Tear Us Apart. Paul Young was everywhere in 1983. No Parlez reinvented Marvin Gaye and other soul gems, but also made me (and I'm sure many others) look at Love Will Tear Us Apart differently. It was no longer a Joy Division recording, but a song.
Calexico: Love Will Tear Us Apart. My favourite of the lot. Available on a 2005 Starbucks compilation called Sweetheart, it's a streamlined rendition, but as rhythmic in its own right.
Hawksley Workman: Love Will Tear Us Apart. A B-side from about five years ago. Workman gives the song a dirge of a slowdown. Available through iTunes.
Vitamin String Quartet: Love Will Tear Us Apart. Speaking of iTunes ... I rummaged around the store, sampling a wide variety of covers. This one - from an album called the Gothic Wedding Collection - is part of a series of string quartet arrangements of modern songs, from Enjoy the Silence (Nouvelle Vague got there first, too, with a carnival treatment) to Orinoco Flow to - unlikely as it is for a wedding album - Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want. I liked it enough to buy the works.
New Order: Love Will Tear Us Apart (iTunes Originals Version). I also found that New Order last fall did an iTunes Originals series, reworking some of their own material, as well as revisiting the main legacy from Joy Division (in part, I imagine, because of the Anton Corbijn film Control). A very energetic cover of their own work, down to the keyboards and bass.
J.K. Simmons reprised his role as the concerned Dad in this spoof on Juno. "Jewno" is a short parody made to help promote the Purim Party, a comedy event at a Y in Manhattan tonight, and has become a viral video on the web.
We got back a couple of days ago from a vacation at Disney World, and found we had (conveniently) missed a series of nasty storms. I like this shot that Karen Chappell took for Bitstop, putting an icy cast on a St. John's landmark.
It's always a treat to get something from the Ricky Gervais podcast; a new video entry pointed me to the blog that Gervais is keeping on the making of This Side of the Truth, a comedy he's writing and directing ... and for which he has put together a cast that culls together the cream of American comedy: Christopher Guest, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, John Hodgman ... and those are just a few. The setup is that humans have evolved to not lie, and that Gervais's character realizes he can tell a whopper. Can't wait.
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.