Those who know me will know "tickety-boo" is a common answer I'll give to the question, "How are you?" That doesn't, though, make me British, although you'll find the phrase a lot more easily across the Atlantic than in North America. Here's a guide to familiar British words and phrases ... not a few of which apply well at least here in Canada, especially here in St. John's. Might be that colony thing ...
You don't have to know anything about the laws of attraction and physics to have a few minutes of fun with this drag-and-drop game. Move the circles about and change the angles of the boards to see how falling drops change.
Oasis can make my skin crawl - I mean, get over yourselves, guys - but Wonderwall is one of the songs I can't help but sing along to when I'm in the car. (And am I the only one who taps their hands in time to the drum break when it's introduced? I think not.)
You know what? Singing along to Wonderwall works great with large groups. Here's an Oasis performance, in concert this past weekend with the Crouch End Festival Chorus.
I'm really looking forward to Quantum of Solace, the upcoming Bond movie; I always anticipate them, but not like lately. Casino Royale was the best Bond movie I've seen in theatres. (My favourites - a few Connerys, and of course On Her Majesty's Secret Service - came out before I was old enough to buy my own popcorn, as it were.) Mark Kermode bitches enough about it here, though, to take the air out of my imported tires. (I hope he's wrong.)
Update: A friend sends this link to a review in the Australian; this reviewer quite liked it.
Click here to read The Secret Thoughts of Harold Lawrence Windcrampe, by Phil McAndrew, which may well be the longest one-panel strip I've seen ... the catch is that it's one continous horizontal piece, that you scroll across. It's entertaining - but not to be read when young kids are around.
Tony Hillerman, who wrote A Thief of Time and other mysteries featuring Navajo detectives, died on Sunday. He was 83. I still have a list of books he wrote that I haven't attempted; I should, as I've found his others great reads.
We were in New York City for several days last week, a belated gift to ourselves for our 20th wedding anniversary. When I saw the National Debt Clock off 5th Ave., I asked Martha to snap this picture. You may remember recent reports of how the clock's tally has become so vast, they ran out of digits and had to fix a "$1" to replace the "$" symbol ... when it was erected, it wasn't anticipated the U.S. national debt would grow that much.
The clock is almost 20 years old. It's a potent symbol ... but it certainly didn't change how Americans have managed their debt, an issue that pretty much all of us have in front of us right now. We stood near it (it's close to Times Square, if you're ever in the hood) for a few minutes, and I was astonished to see tens of thousands of dollars pile up in no time at all. I wonder if we'll see the tally start to drop at some point.
[Surf's Up, as publishedin the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. Click here to read more columns.]
Mastering a new language – or even just getting started – can be daunting. This week's tour of the web starts with a service that lets you lean on the advice of others in the same boat. I'll also show you a wickedly cool clock that doubles as a screensaver, a free way to brush up your grammar, and a full-body immersion in the recent history of pop music.
Livemocha I regret that much of the French I've learned in school has disappeared, and also that I've yet to master more than a few words of Spanish; knowing more of that would be definitely helpful with my in-laws, who hail from Madrid. For me, I need motivation. It's good to know there are online tools, and one I've signed up for is Livemocha. There are other online tools for learning a language, but what gives Livemocha its edge is its adaptation of social-networking tools. The idea is simple: you can nudge yourself along with simple words and flashcard-style prompts, and once you're ready to expand your horizons, converse with others who have registered.
Elsewhere this week
Top 100 singles of all time As a diehard music fan, I'm more perplexed than ever by the plethora of charts out there, segmenting sales every which way: by style, by demographic, by format … you name it. The Billboard Hot 100 has, for most of 50 years, been the benchmark by which everything else is measure. The music magazine recently compiled its all-time 100 top singles, which should bring back at least a few memories for most.
Timebeat Check the time, or simply run Timebeat as a screensaver with a cool, somewhat eerie style. With the sound of a heartbeat and some ambient music in the background, the screen will shift numbers by the second.
In Quotes This is a project coming out of Google Labs: an opportunity to compare and contrast what politicians say. Not all politicians – just the best-known ones, and the timing is apt given there are election campaigns now underway in both Canada and the U.S. The defaults are John McCain and Barack Obama, but you can select a Canadian option. Both sort selected quotes on topic. Given that this is a new idea that Google is basically floating in the political environment, it's curious to see how quickly it's getting a meaningful test run. I can see it being applied other ways, as well.
Worst Hotel Guests If you've ever felt guilty about tucking an unopened tube of shampoo into your shaving kit before you check out of a hotel room … you can relax. Concierge magazine lists some of the all-time horror cases among celebrities who've graced hotels. You probably won't be surprised to learn about Russell Crowe and Keith Moon (the Who drummer appeared to view Holiday Inn rooms as sets waiting to be demolished), but there are a few names here that might raise your eyebrow.
Graviax How's your grammar skills? None good? Graviax is a free, open-source download that writers of all skill levels might appreciate.
Morph Thing Take two pictures, combine them, and what do you get? In the case of two celebrities … a new one, I guess.
This is just a taste of a large gallery of B-movie posters through the ages. Definitely a memory of drive-ins and seedy showcases (I remember the Capitol on Henry Street, for instance) that vanished long ago. Start cringing!
From Paint Your Wagon to Unforgiven to Million-Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood has had quite the career. Test yourself at this CBC trivia quiz; I got (ahem) 10 out of 10, although I was assisted by luck on two of them.
The New York Times has an interactive feature that's worth looking at. As much as Barack Obama and John McCain have been delivering the same stump speeches over and over, not too many people get to hear the whole thing. The Times has its reporters annotate the speeches as you watch (and read) the speeches. Both are also searchable for keywords.
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.