Absinthe rocked the world of Paris a century or so ago, with such pervasive and controversial force that it was called the "green fairy." You can see a famous 1890s painting of said fairy, and much else about the liquor that's been enjoying a reconstituted revival, via this link.
One of the things we took in during our visit to San Diego was a stop at the Maritime Museum, which is downtown and consists of several vessels (including not one but two submarines, including a Russian one dating from the cold war).
The star attraction, though, is the Star of India, which the museum bills as the oldest active sailing ship in the world. The ship doesn't sail often, mind you; in November, the largely volunteer crew takes it out in San Diego's harbour for a spin, and it returns to service as a floating museum.
To keep the Star of India ship-shape, maintenance is an ongoing challenge. The morning we were there, this volunteer was removing laquer on the top deck, in preparation for a new application to come later. Not the easiest work, and it shows the dedication of the people keeping a slice of maritime history on top of the water.
A great thing about having a very curious 11-year-old is that you learn all kinds of things, just by being around. Nick has asked me to record Nova, the PBS program, which I hadn't been watching regularly for years. I've been enjoying them anew, including one called Riddles of the Sphinx, from which I learned, well, much of what I now know about one of the world's best-known structures. It was absolutely fascinating.
This past weekend, the missus packed a picnic lunch, the kid picked out some road tunes and I filled up the tank with gas. We didn’t’ actually use that much, mind you. Cupids, after all, is barely an hour outside St. John’s.
That said, it was a pretty transporting daytrip, in part because of the fete that Cupids is putting on to celebrate its 400th anniversary. We’re planning at least one more trip before the summer is out – there were things still on our list, and we saw plenty that we wanted to explore.
Cupids 400 With some solid government support and private sponsors, Cupids 400 has a website worthy of the significance of the event – the first planned English settlement in what is now Canada. This is your anchor, whether or not you can make the trip.
At the very least, learn about John Guy, the Cupers Cove colony founded in 1610, and remarkable stories involving the archeology and scholarship that have flourished in recent years.
If you can make the trip, this site is the best place to start. You’ll get a sense of what you can see, including the brand-new Legacy Centre, which is a terrific community museum. (The online component isn’t quite there yet, but I’m hoping that can be beefed up.) You can also read some of the background of the digs that have put Cupids on the archeological map lately.
Cupids Cove Chatter Chatter uses a blog format for quick updates on what’s happening around the community, which has been decked out for the summer. Cupids and its neighbours are hosting numerous activities – concerts, plays, get-togethers, you name it – well beyond the standard tourism centre. I’ve been kept abreast of Chatter postings thanks to the diligent work of Twitter friend Margaret Ayad, who has helped keep Cupids top of mind for a whole online community. Meanwhile, look for lots of links, including a Flickr group to see what’s been going on so far.
New World Theatre Project Rabbittown Theatre of St. John’s has branched out to Cupids for this season, with a program that’s kind of ambitious: it’s staging two Shakespearean plays, plus three originals (including a dinner theatre). We caught three of the productions in a single day, including the effervescent Chris Driedzic’s brief one-man show on the fire that destroyed the legendary Globe theatre. You can find out about productions and times here.
Elsewhere this week
Twitter of the Day Earlier this winter, the people who count such things announced that 50 million tweets were moving into the ether every single day. Woof. Even if you follow a moderate number of people or organizations, it’s impossible (and, to be blunt, just not a good idea) to keep up with everything they say. The appeal of Twitter of the Day is that particularly clever or insightful or colourful things get picked for you.
15 Things You Should Know About Breasts Sounds dirty, but boy, is it not. This infographic is packed with information that everyone should know, but given that it’s published by OnlineSchools.org, I suspect it’s meant mainly for older students, and particularly boys at that. Some inaccurate assumptions about smoking, cosmetic surgery and breastfeeding get the fact-checking they’ve had coming. This is a great public health tool, but it may not please all parents or grown-ups, nor is it appropriate for young kids. [UPDATE: This link is no longer active.]
Lost map It didn’t have a name, but the Island on Lost sure saw a lot of action, from a plane crash to a temple to a freighter exploding into bits just offshore. Fans of the recently concluded TV show will be intrigued to see what a Virginian mapmaker named Jonah M. Adkins came up with after (apparently) following the show quite closely – a map with many of the key settings, from Jacob’s cave to Jughead to the various Dharma stations. Look for links to buy a copy, plus notes from the mapmaker himself.
A highlight of my visit to Washington in April: the Abraham Lincoln exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, which included his inconic stovepipe hat. It had never occurred to me that the hat was a style choice, made for a political effect; that is, Lincoln was already tall enough, but chose a hat to ensure that everyone in a crowd could pick him out.
Here's a Flickr stream to keep an eye on: John Guy 2010 is gathering photos for the upcoming Cupids 400 celebrations. The pick above, by Dennis Flynn, is from a "baby shower" that was held in March for the first English child born in Canada.
A site that is helping a local cancer fundraiser evolve into a bit of a movement is the starting point for this week’s tour around the web. We’ll also check in some musical celebrations, keep up to date with heritage properties and learn about what makes cats ticks. Or purr, as the case may be.
Shave For the Brave The first Shave for the Brave happened in 2006. In a few short years, it’s gone from a relatively small fundraiser for St. John’s-based Young Adult Cancer Canada, pulling in about $40,000 that first year to five times as much last year. Shave for the Brave now seems to have household name recognition in our area, with hundreds of kids and adults alike signing up to have their hair shaved off, with proceeds going towards programs aimed at young adults dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
Shaving season is coming soon (with a major mass-shave at the Avalon Mall on March 6, for instance), so now is the time to register and collect pledges. How much would your friends and colleagues pay to see you lose your locks? Now’s a good time to find out. The site has plenty of information about what it calls “the coolest cancer fund-raiser in Canada.”
Elsewhere this week
ECMAs 2010 Ruckus on the Edge: Juno Week A couple of musical events are on the calendar for the coming weeks. The East Coast Music Awards are coming up in March in North Sydney; you can check out the nominees and such now, but keep an eye on the site for the weekend, as the ECMAs do boost their online presence.
Meanwhile, there are just over seven weeks now do the Junos in St. John’s. The so-called Ruckus on the Edge celebration is still a little scanty on the details (i.e., who’s playing and when) but you can get a sense of how the full week will shape up. You can even enter a tune in a contest for the theme song. Hurry: the deadline for that is next week.
17 Things Worth Knowing About Your Cat I love The Oatmeal, which makes web-based infographics that are spot-on with the facts and fun to look at besides. This one is a list of remarkable facts about the common housecat, from their well-known visual acuity to the famous scientist who invented the cat door. Historic Trust The Newfoundland Historic Trust has been a force in the province since the 1960s, and has played a strong role in preserving – and cherishing – important houses, churches and other buildings. Its website has been freshly re-launched. Look for a Flickr-powered slideshow that will take you right around the province.
The Archers The longest-running soap opera in the world is a British radio serial that airs six days a week, just as they’ve been doing since 1950. The story of the goings-on of a fictional farming village is also pretty addictive, even though there are more characters than anything in Dickens or Trollope. You can listen to BBC Radio 4 live if you like for your daily 13-minute serving, but you may find it easier to subscribe to the podcast. (It’s worth noting that The Archers is the most popular online program offered by the BBC.) The companion site is filled with detail, including synopses, character biographies and interactive features.
Doodle Have you ever tried to get a group of different people – like volunteers on a committee, for instance – in the same place at a same time? It can be a bit of a challenge, particularly if people work in different places and have different schedules. Here’s a tool that can really help you. Doodle is a web-based tool that allows everyone to select scheduling options, or even make a group decision, without so much as a phone call.
If there’s on thing that Newfoundlanders love to do, it’s to root for their own. Consider Canadian Idol (when in season), various Facebook groups that have the arbitrary purpose of just gathering a bunch of Newfoundlanders, and – most recently – a campaign to put St. John’s on the next Canadian edition of Monopoly.
Monopoly Canada You can buy Monopoly editions devoted to everything from the Simpsons to golf to even I Love Lucy. National editions abound, and for the next Canadian edition, the public has been invited to make the choices. Through the last couple of weeks, St. John’s has done well, but as I write this, has slipped from 6th to 10th place in a matter of a couple of days.
It’s not just getting a square on the board, of course, but which square. That is, the highest votes get the royal-blue colours that usually go to Boardwalk and Park Place, the next three get the deep green colours, and so on. In other words, a motivation for residents and/or supporters of various cities to keep voting (you can do it once a day), to get or hold on to a prestigious colour.
There are still more than three weeks to vote. Let’s see where the dice land.
Elsewhere this week
A History of the World in 100 Objects Earlier this month, BBC Radio 4 launched what’s already turned out to be a fascinating series: an attempt to tell the history of civilization, through a set of objects. I’ve been hearing some of the segments live through streaming radio; here, on the companion site, you can not only learn more, but contribute to the project – or, as they put it, “make history” yourself.
You can follow each day’s contribution through a podcast, the blog, supplementary information, and more, all in collaboration with staff at the British Museum. As host Neil MacGregor put it, the creators are passionate about physical objects, namely “things made by somebody with hands just like ours, for a purpose we can still hope to understand.”
My Parents Were Awesome There comes a point when people – the teenage years, as young adults, maybe later – when people realize their parents are not space aliens but interesting, worthy human beings. My Parents Were Awesome is a collection of photographs that readers submit from years past (many, many years, on occasion) showing their parents. Some of the photos are hilarious, some are depictions of the time that taste forgot, and some are quite touching.
Bettween It’s Bettween, not between, but that’s the point: this is a tool in which you can track conversations (i.e., replies) between two particular Twitter users.
Age of Persuasion episodes Friends of mine, who have an evidently more pure ideal of what CBC Radio should be, were shocked the network started a half-hour program on advertising. For me, The Age of Persuasion with host and marketing guru Terry O’Reilly is one of the smartest, best produced programs on the network, with weekly insights that go well beyond how commercials work. If you miss the show, you can stream it here, plus past episodes; downloads or podcasts, unfortunately, are still off limits because of copyright issues.
Epic Win FTW If the title of this site doesn’t make immediate sense, we’ll catch you up. “Epic win” is one way of saying “astonishingly cool,” and FTW stands for “for the win.” Which, um, kind of makes the title redundant. But don’t worry about that; instead, check in regularly for loads of cool things, especially hilarious pictures, often with a fanboy edge.
John Gushue is a writer in St. John's, and is currently on leave from his job with CBC News in St. John's. John is on Twitter right here.
There's a potter in the house, so this bit - a discovery in China that rolls the clock back on the start of ceramics by a millennium or so - will likely interest her more than me. But I found it pretty fascinating all the same.
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.