Monday, January 09, 2006

WEB: Five Random Non-Book-Related Sites

There's a reason it's called the 50 Book CHALLENGE and not the 50 Books Breezily and Effortlessly Read in One's Wealth of Free Time. It's not enough that I'm dealing with young Master Sam and his own 50 Poop Challenge (a daily, rather than annual, event): there's also an entire World Wide Something-or-Other constantly tempting me away from my book du jour.

So, since I'm easily distracted these days, I thought I'd share my handicap with you. You're not doing anything else right now, are you?
Be that as it may, here's a random sampling of my favourite web thingies, new and old:

Big Dead Place
Rusty turned me on to this site quite a while back. He's probably read every single word in it, and he's the Mikey of the internet, so that's saying something. The big dead place in question is Antarctica, or, more specifically, the McMurdo Station at the South Pole, whence this site originated.

You think you've got a lot of free time on your hands? You think I do? Compared to these guys, we are wet-behind-the-ears ama-teurs in the creative time-wasting department. Which explains entries like this one, a thousand-word critical analysis of a Christmas ornament. Unadulterated brilliance.

I would be spectacularly remiss if I did not mention that this site recently spawned a book --
Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica -- which is, by several accounts, quite good. The Times of London called it a "savagely funny... grunt's-eye view of fear and loathing, arrogance and insanity... It's like M*A*S*H on ice, a bleak, black comedy." Needless to say, I've already ordered it for Rusty.

Hello Tomorrow
I don't care if it's a TV ad, this spot that
Spike Jonze directed for Adidas made me happy every time I caught it during its short broadcast life, so I sought it out online and bookmarked it. And now I watch it any time I have 90 seconds and want to give my brain a massage.

(For the record, I'm impervious to most TV advertising, which is due more to the fact that advertisers aren't targeting the tiny "weirdo" demographic to which I belong rather than to any inner strength of character I possess. I've probably watched this commercial a hundred times, and I still don't own anything by Adidas.)

I love the photo gallery on this site so much that I can even disregard the fact that it's a navigational nightmare to get to it. (I'm a usability snob. Yes, we exist.) First, you're presented with
some arty French Frenchiness while the site loads. Then you click anywhere on the screen, causing the dots on all the "i"s in "minimiam" to fecklessly float away. Then the menu finally loads. It's in French, but that's not your problem. Your problem is that it's one of those coy, flirty menus that likes to dance around -- again, in a manner I can only describe as "French" -- while you mouse over it.

But if you're diligent and possessing of solid hand-eye coordination, you can pin down the link that says "Galerie" and you're in. If you dig bizarre miniatures and luscious desserts and incredibly artful photography, it's well worth the trip.

Eugene Mirman
I started visiting this site a few years ago, when Eugene the Marvelous Crooning Child had only a half dozen songs under his belt. Now his playlist spans two pages. My favourite is still "Cat's in the Cradle" on this page. Listen to it three times and I promise you will not get it out of your head for weeks. Or months. Or... ever.

These paintings by artist Mark Ryden blow my mind. I can't even imagine how breathtaking they must be in real life. Dark, surreal, fantastical, and painstakingly, meticulously executed... I could stare at these for hours and still find new details to marvel at. Check out the serenely haunting nude rendering of Björk in "Björk." And I think I once had a dream that looked a lot like "The Magic Circus." But my hands-down favourite has to be "Princess Sputnik" (pictured right).

For a fun -- and potentially disturbing -- audio-visual treat, might I suggest playing Eugene's songs in the background while viewing Ryden's paintings? Let me know how that works out for you.


Anonymous said...

For your Master Sam, I'd like to recommend It's a big hit with both my boys (4 years and 1 year).

Anita said...

I live in a sheltered World (Wide Web that is . . .). I've not heard of or seen any of these sites, but I'm very intrigued.

Anita said...

Woo hoo!! You've made the finals in the BoB awards - - most deservedly, I might add! Get ready for lots of traffic . . .

Anita said...

Sorry - - meant to also say CONGRATULATIONS!!!

landismom said...

Wow, those are cool. If you don't have enough to read, here's an online site that Metrodad turned me on to:

Tammy said...

Thanks so much for the compliment, tuckova. I've been to your site, so coming from you, I'm hugely flattered.

Thanks for the links, landismom and anonymous. Like I need more distractions. Heh.

And thanks for letting me know about the awards, Anita. I'm psyched to see how the voting goes.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to figure out Mark Ryden's paintings... he's got repeating elements, like bees and meat and bunnies and abraham lincoln. Weird subjects, excellent execution.