[Surf’s Up, as published in the St. John's Telegram on Thursday, February 16, 2012.]
We’re going to hop, skip and jump around the digital neighbourhood, with stops for wine lovers, music buffs and aspiring Star Wars villains.
Let’s not waste a second.
Darth Maul Me
The re-release of the Phantom Menace didn’t exactly stir my excitement, but I have to admit I had a laugh with this free app available from the official Star Wars site. Take a new picture or one from your library, make some taps and tweaks, and voila: you have the red, tattoeed and horned face of a Sith master. (Or Sith apprentice, to be precise.) It’s even more fun with kids.
Natalie MacLean: Wine Picks and Pairings
Based in Canada, MacLean has earned a global reputation as a wine writer, and now has an app to complement a growing list of publications. Her newest book is Unquenchable, which focuses on bargains in the wine store; MacLean will be in St. John’s soon to promote it. The app is free, although you can pay for full access to reviews. A great feature: a barcode scanner that you can use while browsing at the NLC. MacLean also offers exhaustive suggestions for finding a good wine to match your food, and vice versa.
One Brilliant Bottle
A couple of years ago, St. John’s novelist Kevin Major undertook an ambitious blogging project: picking one wine each week, and producing a small essay about it. Each was illustrated with rich photographs. The idea was to do 52 wines (Major specializes in organic and biodynamic selections) in as many weeks. Encouraged by the response, Major kept it going for another year. Now that 2012 is underway, Major has happily decided to keep updating the site, and few would be upset that the new entries come at a more leisurely pace. It’s one of my weekend reading pleasures.
Here’s a blog in a similar vein. Creator Josh Hooten intends to take a photograph every day this year of a coffee as he enjoys it, with a note about the music he’s listening to at the time. These happen to be two of my most favourite subjects, so I am a little biased. A daily pace is a bit of a grind and Hooten has been struggling to keep pace, although I intend to keep checking … in part for some random musical inspiration as I enjoy my own coffee break.
Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but Downtown Abbey fans will relish these amusing virtual cards, any day of the year.
40 Noises that Built Pop
From Word, the excellent British music magazine, here is a tribute to specific noises that made rock music what it is, from the sweeping glissando on a piano (think of the opening sound of Abba’s Dancing Queen) to the power chord (thank you, Kinks) to the fretless bass (a little jazz making its way into the rock world). The best part? You can play an audio sample to hear precisely what each entry is describing.
Donna Ramsay Photography
Ramsay was among the recent winners of the Newfoundland and Labrador Bloggers’ Choice awards, in the photo category. Her blog showcases her work, particularly in portraits, and largely in black and white. The drawback? It’d be nice to see more frequent updates.
Scale of the universe
Play a little big bang theory from the comfort of your own home, with a slider that shows you things that are small (an earthworm) or incredibly small (the nucleus of an atom, which is many times larger again than other options) and things that are large and then incredibly … well, you get the picture. Consider it bit of mind-blowing activity to put everything else in perspective.
John Gushue is an editor with CBC News in St. John’s. Twitter: @johngushue.