Put your feet up and enjoy the show

John
John Gushue
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If you spend any time looking at videos on the Web, you get accustomed to things being short - and not necessarily sweet.

A typical, random YouTube video, for instance, will likely run less than two minutes - and may very well make no sense at all. Or, it could be resoundingly unfunny, or childish, or inane.

If you spend any time looking at videos on the Web, you get accustomed to things being short - and not necessarily sweet.

A typical, random YouTube video, for instance, will likely run less than two minutes - and may very well make no sense at all. Or, it could be resoundingly unfunny, or childish, or inane.

On the other hand, the good stuff - the videos that get passed around like quickfire - tends to be short, but at least hilarious or endearing.

Altogether, though, you don't have to be content with just video McNuggets. If you like, you can sit down for a full-course meal, and while the menu may be limited, it could be a more satisfying experience.

Smashing Telly

http://smashingtelly.com/

Smashing Telly offers what YouTube generally won't: online captures of full-length movies, TV shows and documentaries. Parking copyright issues aside - I'm willing to bet the owners of at least some of the content here were not consulted - the advantages of such a site become clear once you take a look at what's available.

It's easy to snipe at YouTube for indulging the instant-gratification, short-attention-span Web addicts. There's a bit of truth there, but the beauty of YouTube and its competitors is that they allow for easy browsing and quick hits.

Smashing Telly goes in the opposite direction, and - to my eyes, anyway - suggests an exciting direction for where online video may go. Creator David Galbraith stocks his shelves, as it were, with things he's interested in, which explains a preference for documentaries. The material here, then, is not what you'll find on the posters in the window at, say, the local Blockbuster store.

But I was intrigued by what I found by browsing around: a documentary on ghosts in the London subway; another doc on Andy Warhol; a 1968 debate between Marshall McLuhan and Normal Mailer; even some Tom and Jerry cartoons. Not a lot of movies to be seen, although I've bookmarked the kitschy sci-fi thriller Logan's Run for future viewing.

One problem: it's not that easy to figure out what's there. New listings are added chronologically, blog-style and although there are categories, it would be great to have a much more reader-friendly directory.

Smashing Telly is only a few months old. I'm curious to see what else evolves in the months ahead.

Elsewhere this week

Christopher Pratt watercolours

http://www.emmabutler.com/artists/cpratt/cpratt.htm

If you're in St. John's for the next while, take some time to see the new exhibit of watercolours by Christopher Pratt at the Emma Butler Gallery in downtown St. John's. The online exhibition here will give a sense of what's available, but peering at the paintings up close is the far better way. Pratt is better known for paintings and prints, and the watercolours - though of familiar topics, like horizons, buildings and sealines - are a revelation.

Can you believe what you see?

http://www.snopes.com/photos/photos.asp

Every now and again, I'm sent a photo (often, I'm part of a mass mailout, occasionally from people I scarcely know) that is shocking, or prone to cause outrage, or too funny to believe. Or, more to the point, to not believe. A lot of photos that get passed around by e-mail or on webpages - including one of an iceberg purported to have been taken from an oil rig off Newfoundland - are not genuine. Find out what's true and what's false at this very handy roundup from Snopes, the great debunkers of urban legends. It's fascinating reason, particularly when the origins of some images (including the iceberg one, a composite of four separate images) can be determined accurately.

John Gushue is a news writer for CBC.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: http://johngushue.typepad.com.

Geographic location: St. John's, London, Newfoundland

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