Surf's up -
The days are getting progressively shorter, or at least the amount of sunlight we see during the course of the day is. This week, a few sites for celebrating the bleak midwinter, a few amusements for any day of the year, and first, a cool way of looking at where the sun is shining.
World Sunlight Map
With the solstice almost upon us, we're more conscious than ever of just how much (or how little) daylight we have. Telling whether it's light or dark at the moment is as simple as looking out the window, but what about a faraway place, like Berlin or Sydney or Qatar?
Here, in one place, is a picture showing you what parts of the world currently have sunlight. A bright idea, no?
Auto Tune The News
Everyone from Barack Obama to Hugo Chavez to Katie Couric and many other TV talking heads have been auto-tuned, in one of the most popular video series produced this year.
Auto Tune The News is a team of comedians who take existing TV clips, insert themselves into the mix, and run some of the vocals through an Auto-Tuner, the ubiquitous electronic processor that brings a distorted flair to countless hip-hop and pop songs. With the news, it becomes surreal and often laugh-out-loud funny.
All of the videos of the year are collected here, on their YouTube channel.
Great Big Sean
Sean McCann, one third of Great Big Sea, is launching a solo record, "Lullabies for Bloodshot Eyes," in February; he's just launched a website to help promote it. You can stream songs, and if you subscribe to a newsletter, get a free download. You can keep up with McCann's irreverent Twitter feed, and find a link to a new Facebook fan page.
From JibJab, the makers of those satirical videos, comes a seasonal application everyone should try, at least once or twice. Or, as the case may be, five times. You can make five "elves" here, by uploading pics of yourself and your family and friends. The app is now synched up with Facebook, so you can browse your photo library from your account there. A little zooming and rotating, and whoosh: you're ready for North Pole duty.
Much of what we do, sing, eat and decorate during the Christmas season got nailed down during the Victorian era. This site is a feast of material about the Christmas season, including details on the complex ornaments crafted in the era, the meals that were served (think about all the things Charles Dickens describes in "A Christmas Carol") and the games people played.
Daryl Cagle's Political Cartoonists Index
What does it say when you can learn a lot about current events from cartoonists? Relax: good political cartoonists have always had an edge; they are, after all, among the most avid consumers of political news and such. Daryl Cagle, who now draws for msnbc.com, aggregates the work of many cartoonists here, with blog items to boot.
Newspaper Blackout Poems
Austin Kleon is a writer (and cartoonist) in Texas who creates poems through interesting means: his canvas is a newspaper, and his key tool is a marker. By eliminating most of the words, and carefully leaving behind a selected few, he creates some really original stuff.
The Movie Network streaming
If you subscribe to the Movie Network's channels on cable or satellite, you may want to take advantage of this online bonus: the ability to stream movies online, at your convenience. The menu includes films like "Doubt," "Frost/Nixon" and "Get Smart," among others; a pay-per-view option is also available, for newer releases.
John Gushue is a writer currently on leave from his job at CBC News in St. John's. Twitter: @johngushue. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com.