Here's Around The World Race, a fun game for would-be travellers. Drag your mouse to rotate the world (it's a cube, not a globe) and hit a set of targets. It's sponsored by a Swedish travel company, and though the title is in English, the rest is in Swedish; nonetheless, you can figure out what's going on.
News is breaking that Paul Newman has died, following a lengthy battle with cancer. Newman was well-established as a movie star long before my generation was born; he leaves some incredible performances, and wonderful moments. My favourite of the lot: the opening of Harper, from 1966, with Newman playing a detective not above reusing discarded coffee grounds.
So many roles: Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy, Fast Eddie Felson (which he played twice), Hud, Brick and of course Frank Galvin, the broken lawyer in The Verdict. Even roles in lesser films - like Sully, from Nobody's Fool, or the deliciously corrupt Earl Long in Blaze - stand out. In our house over the last few years, he's been the voice of Doc, the stand-up judge and mentor in Cars. I'm sure that as my son grows up, he'll find himself amazed by all those other performances, just as I did when I got hooked on the classics.
Five things you may or may not have already known:
Charging Bull is the name of the distinctive sculpture that sits near
Wall Street, in lower Manhattan. Though already an iconic symbol of New
York - it is photographed constantly, seemingly - the city at first
considered it a bit of renegade art when scultor Arturo Di Modico unexpectedly delivered it in 1989, without a commission ... or a permit.
The Simpsons, with Sunday's season premiere, will tie Gunsmoke's record-setting 20 seasons on the air.
Lapiro de Mbang, one of the most popular singers in Cameroon, was sent to prison
for three years, for allegedly encouraging people to riot. Lapiro
recently released a song criticizing Cameroon President Paul Biya, who
has been office since 1982.
Adam Dalgliesh, the hero-detective of many P.D. James novels over
the last 45 years, gets married in her newly released novel, The
Private Patient. (Bonus fact! Dalgliesh doesn't age in the books, even
though each Dalgliesh book is contemporary to when James published it.)
Bill and Melinda Gates gave away $312,527,657 in the first seven
months of this year alone, through their charitable foundation. A breakdown for just July is here.
Radiohead is again opening up its tunes to the world; you download Reckoner, play with it, and upload your remix. Here's the site. Everybody wins ... and Radiohead, not incidentally, sells a lot of digital singles. (The iTunes store is promoting it.)
Johnny Depp is going to play the Mad Hatter in the upcoming adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Well, given that the director is Tim Burton, who could be surprised? Would Depp have been content playing the white rabbit, for instance? (And, oh yes, Disney is getting ready to print another few hundred million dollars, with a fourth Pirates movie. Another shocker!)
Curious things, handshakes. We like to think they can mean a lot - "But we shook on it!" - and I, for one, admire people who can stick to something through a handshake without having to go through a formal, lengthy contract. But as this piece by Joe Kissell explains, the handshake can be particularly ambiguous.
[Surf's Up, as publishedin the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2008. Click here to read more columns.]
Here's a truism: signage along our regional highways sucks. Even on the Trans-Canada Highway, signs are either too few or too far between, and nowhere near as helpful as they could be. So much so, you take notice of particular items.
I think that's why I noticed this summer that a few tourism operators had taken the trouble of nailing an addendum plank to their main signs. "Internet" is all one cabin outfit had put up.
Really, that's all that needed to be said. On the road last month, more so than ever, I realized how connectivity is becoming as much of an expected service in the tourism industry as, say, a phone in your hotel room.
Last year, we took a laptop on the road with us, and hoped for the best. Yes, it may not make sense to bring a computer when you're supposed to be relaxing, but we found it very enjoyable indeed to scan messages, headlines and Facebook updates while savouring our morning coffee or relaxing at the end of a busy day.
Last year, it took a bit of effort to get connected, though. We had excellent service in one hotel, but otherwise improvised as we moved around. We stopped at local libraries to log on to terminals there, and became enamored of an Eastport coffee shop that offered wireless.
Well, a year can make a difference. This year, we were largely in areas in and near Gros Morne and Terra Nova National Parks, with overnights in Gander and Corner Brook. All of the four places where we stayed – ranging from two hotels, a cabin and a bed and breakfast – offered internet, and we noticed that many local companies were promoting internet service to their customers.
That said, it wasn't always easy. The wireless connection, for instance, offered at one hotel was glacial – when it worked at all. However, I was pleased to find that the public library in Rocky Harbour now offers wireless to visiting patrons, as well as regular PCs hooked up through a province-wide connection service. (I'm hoping that other local libraries are following suit.)
My wife and I took some ribbing, as expected, from friends because we took a laptop and her mobile with us. Mind you, we kept the connectedness thing to a minimum; I'm glad to say I didn't look at my work e-mail during the entire stretch. That said, we appreciated being able to keep in touch with the outside world, even when we learned the tragic news that a good friend of ours from years ago had suddenly died.
The thing is, I know that we're far from alone in how the marketplace is changing. Everywhere we went, we saw someone with a laptop or a Blackberry or some sort of device, checking in. (That is, when they could. To no surprise to those who live there, phone service in rural Newfoundland needs great improvement.)
Even though the provincial government's tourism campaign encourages visitors to get away from it all, the trend in travel is definitely rooted in keeping some key links intact … should the consumer want them.
You can unplug yourself completely, of course, but travellers from near and especially far also want those moments when they can check their e-mail, get the news, check sports scores, play a game with family members on another continent, watch a video … whatever it is they want to do.
Our tourism industry would do well to keep that reality in mind.
I've never bought anything via Etsy, the "eBay for crafters," as it's often called, but I know the online site is hugely popular with people who are into handcrafted stuff. Here's a unique look, via Laughing Squid, inside Etsy's home base in Brooklyn.
My good friend Maggie sent me the link for this Tom Waits video on YouTube, of Lie To Me. A couple of decades ago, we spent our share of time together hunched over contact sheets. Indeed, a brilliant use of what was, not that long ago, a common thing to see in a newsroom.
I met Ned Pratt in 1988, when he started shooting photographs for The Sunday Express, where I was a reporter. From the start, it was clear Ned shot things very differently from most photographers, especially in the news business. You'd ask for a head shot, and he'd bring back a painting in black and white. Ned's a sweetheart and has a dry, deprecating sense of humour, and I've marvelled at what he's done since. Last Friday, a show of landscapes (it's called, simply, New Work) opened at Christina Parker Gallery in downtown St. John's. The works are large and sometimes imposing, but very well crafted; the image above - it's called Miller Mechanical - gives you no sense at all of the richness of the detail, even in the monochromatic backdrop. A couple of the images, especially, ring really closely to paintings that his father, Christopher Pratt, has done in recent years ... the apple does not fall far from the tree. You can view the exhibition here.
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.