Scene last night, as my son, who's nine, wanted to get rid of hiccups. After telling him that "scaring" him wouldn't work, and wanting him to get on with his homework, I said, "Just throw yourself into something and take your mind off it."
A minute later, a crashing sound in the living room. He had rolled on top of an exercise ball we got for him for balance exercises, right into an end table. He told me he had just gone out and threw himself at it.
So, last night's homework included a recap of metaphors, expressions, turns of speech, etc.
Get your scissors; time to clip a column with some sites to amuse, inform and tickle … although, I'm guessing, not all at the same time.
Room Planner Bored with your living room? Planning a renovation? Here's a free, easy and kinda fun tool for letting your imagination have at it, without having to even touch pencil and paper. Mark out the dimensions of your room, and then select the ingredients (couches, chairs, tables, bookcases, rugs – even pets!) you'll find in it. Simple tools make it easy to rotate the position of furniture, or adjust the proportional sizes. Very cool. One drawback: I had wanted to play around with the kitchen that's been in our heads for years, and couldn't. Oh well. Registration is required, but it's no hassle.
Budget 2009 If all goes to plan, Finance Minister Jerome Kennedy will bring down the budget today at Confederation Building. This is my bet of where you can find the budget documents after 2 p.m.; similar addresses have, at least, been used in previous years. As I write this, there's nothing there, although the government has been pretty good over the years in posting its budget materials online fairly quickly.
Septic's Companion If you're going for some bubble and squeak at your mate's mum's flat, you're, well, British. (And you're have a cabbage dish at your friend's mom's apartment, don't you know.) Here's a guide to British slang, compiled by a Scottish expat. Not a few of the words and phrases are still used in our particular corner of the world.
Popword Here's a word game that feels a little like Tetris. Instead of falling shapes, you have letters, and your goal is to spot the words as they appear on your screen. Mark a word by dragging your mouse across it (horizontally, vertically, diagonally, etc.). When you succeed, the letters disappear, reshaping the board every time. You'll need to think quickly and keep your eyes on the big picture to keep the game in play as long as possible.
Best of Photojournalism Count me among those that take photojournalism as seriously as what's written with a keyboard or pen. Come here for the best news and feature photography anywhere. There's lots to explore, including a rich archive showcasing awards in numerous categories. Bookmark the site to check back later for winners of the most recent judging year.
Real Clear Markets Yep, it's often depressing, but keeping up with the business and economic news these days is arguably more important than ever. Will RCM, or Real Clear Markets, simplify your morning read of business news? Nah. It'll actually give you more choices than you need, but you will definitely not feel that you're out of the loop.
Drinks Are on Me Or, "an almost daily account of what Dale Cruse likes to put in his mouth." Upfront, and largely about wine, you'll be glad to know. Funny and topical, this blog is, indeed, updated regularly enough to deserve recurring visits.
Silly Books Can any kid write a book? Yep … here at least. Apart from offering aspiring writers a place to have their work posted, if not necessarily published, Silly Books has plenty else for kids to enjoy. Kids just learning to read and those well into elementary grades can browse through an online library of sorts. Parents, as always, should look around first.
McSweeney's offers notes on the "Internet-Age Writing Syllabus and Course Overview," for the Perez Hilton generation.
You can't just sign up for this imaginary course. You need some prerequisites:
Students must have completed at least two of the following.
ENG: 232WR—Advanced Tweeting: The Elements of Droll
LIT: 223—Early-21st-Century Literature: 140 Characters or Less
ENG: 102—Staring Blankly at Handheld Devices While Others Are Talking
ENG: 301—Advanced Blog and Book Skimming
ENG: 231WR—Facebook Wall Alliteration and Assonance
LIT: 202—The Literary Merits of Lolcats
LIT: 209—Internet-Age Surrealistic Narcissism and Self-Absorption
If you watch Lost closely, you'll know that not a whole lot goes into the show by accident, and that includes seemingly throwaway lines of dialogue, props and things seen in the background. The T-shirt above was worn by the character Miles, the guy who talks with dead people. (Or interviews them, depending.) The terrific Doc Jenson column on Entertainment Weekly's site picked over what the shirt may mean. Or not.
The Fail Whale - the cheery image Twitter uses to appease users when things aren't working (which is not that uncommon) - didn't just come from the ether. It was designed, by Australian Yiying Lu. The Sydney Morning Herald has more.
Ruth Reichl has for years been one of the best-known food writers in the world ... and that's even before most people knew what she looked like. For years, including a prominent stint at the New York Times in the 1990s, Reichl reviewed restaurants while deploying elaborate getups and costumes. She's now the editor-in-chief at Gourmet, and appears on the PBS program the magazine sponsors, Diary of a Foodie, which is really enjoyable.
This video plays on Reichl returning to the reviewing racket; it's kind of amusing, even though the decidedly non-actorly people in it are as wooden as restaurant tables. Give Reichl points for trying.
At the Hollywood Studios theme park in Disney World, you'll find a restaurant called the Sci Fi Drive In Theatre Restaurant. It's all a bit over the top: the tables are like cars, the lights are low, and the set-up (see above) is as if you're all parked by a loop of B-movie trailers. The food is not great, but that's not the point. Our kid loved it, and I have to admit the trailers made me howl. This is one of them.
Look, bully for all that they can make money on the road. But one of my colleagues, after Neil Young's two shows in St. John's this week, had a valid point: the big concerts in St. John's recently were Young, Bob Dylan, Elton John and Leonard Cohen. A concert of any of them in their prime would have been impossible. At least the market has changed to accommodate this kind of tour. But as my younger friend put it, "Can we get something non-geriatric?" (To be fair, the Tragically Hip - who are merely middle aged - announced a date a few days later.)
Andres, my cousin-in-law (if such a thing exists) must be delighted with this: one of the twin Starbucks at Astor Place, a block or two from his place in Manhattan, is closing. (He's not a Starbucks fan, to say the least. Martha and I avoided arriving home with tell-tale white containers.)
Bobby Driscoll, the voice of Disney's Peter Pan and the child star of Treasure Island, fell hard after child stardom. Although he won a juvenile Oscar, he lost his Disney contract (apparently because of severe acne), and slid down. He wound up in prison, was a drug addict, and was found dead at 31 in New York City. He was buried as an anonymous pauper and his remains were not identified until a year after his death.
Recession winner: Yum Foods, the parent company of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut
and other fast-food mainstays, is benefiting from the downscaling of
the eating-out consumer. The company's U.S. profit was up seven per
cent in the first quarter, and its stock surged Thursday on news it is moving on with an ambitious international growth strategy.
Peter Gabriel's first four albums were named Peter Gabriel, although the fourth carried a sticker with the "Security" tag. For the record, the first three are known, respectively, on Gabriel's site as Car, Scratch and Melt.
Attendance at the Art Gallery of Ontario has been about 30 per cent less than what was anticipated since the Frank Gehry-designed gallery opened five months ago. The King Tut exhibit coming in November will probably change that.
As you may have noticed, I get up early. Well, everything is relative, but for most people, 5 in the morning is pretty early. Last week, I filled in on the early-morning shift on CBC's radio news desk, and that is early: a 3 a.m. rise, and flat-out from 3:45 onward.
Here's a National Geographic piece on new research how night owls may have the alertness edge, at least after an extended period. Here's a response from Newsweek's Sharon Begley. My own thoughts: we train our bodies to do what we need. When I was a university student, I was a classic night owl. I pulled consecutive all-nighters when needed, either for term papers or for working on the Muse, the student newspaper where I practically lived for a few years. Later, as a working journalist, I swung around, and found that I could write much more quickly in the morning. I happen to have a job now that demands being alert in the morning, and really productive. If I had to work evenings or nights, I know I could adapt again, although I know that my brain is just mush once the sun is setting.
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.