Elephants in the room, beats on the box

John
John Gushue
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I have a few, final tips for Christmas surfing, but feel free to clip this column for the moments when you're about to enjoy some lazy, well-earned downtime in the days ahead. They'll definitely work well past Christmas Day. (And have a good one, by the way).

First, though, here's some advice on how to deal with those who've indulged too much during the season of high spirits.

Surf's up -

I have a few, final tips for Christmas surfing, but feel free to clip this column for the moments when you're about to enjoy some lazy, well-earned downtime in the days ahead. They'll definitely work well past Christmas Day. (And have a good one, by the way).

First, though, here's some advice on how to deal with those who've indulged too much during the season of high spirits.

Deflate The Elephant

deflatetheelephant.com/

Have you noticed the ads from the LCBO - the Liquor Control Board of Ontario - on TV this month? The board has been buying lots of national airtime with spots based around the premise of the "elephant in the room" at this time of year, when a drunk friend or loved one decides to reach for the keys and head home. This is the companion site, which is worth reading before you have anyone over and the drinks start getting poured; you'll find strategies for preventing drinking and driving, and possibly saving some lives.

Curtis Andrews

www.curtisandrews.ca/

The hirsute percussionist and all-round groovy guy has been on a roll lately, and not just because he seems to play with every cool outfit in St. John's.

Last week, he won the Atlantis Music Prize, sponsored by the St. John's alternative paper the Scope, for album of the year, for his jazzy, worldbeat-inflected record The Offering of Curtis Andrews.

Last month, he also picked up two major awards from MusicNL. You can learn about his music here (and sample the entire album, or, even better, buy it), and learn about his passions, including a plan to build a school in 2010 in Ghana.

Holiday Photo Maker

sendables.jibjab.com/category/holiday-pictures

From JibJab, the makers of funny videos and the perennial Elf Yourself app, comes this feature that allows you to plop headshots of you and yours into all kinds of seasonal settings. A head's up: some of these are definitely not kid-appropriate, so look through the many options first if you're looking for an activity with small kids! If there's a new camera under the tree, knock yourself out here afterwards.

Mashup Arts

www.mashuparts.com/

In a similar vein, here's an entire site that allows you to craft cards, messages, etc., for holidays, birthdays or practically any occasion. Upload some pics (it connects with Facebook and Flickr), drag and drop some materials, including comic-style balloons, and zap, you're done. A nice way to add some pizzazz to your next message.

Canadian emergency code alerts

www.sybertooth.ca/alert/

I'm sure you'll recall the colour-coded terror alert system the U.S. government unveiled in 2002 (you know, red means "severe", green means "low"). This tongue-in-cheek feature adapts the system to the Canadian environment.

Hence, green - the lowest threat level - means "Stanley Cup playoffs on, majority government, roll-up-the-rim contest in progress." You can imagine what happens as things get worse.

Random paragraph generator

tinyurl.com/randomgraf

Trying to write something, and finding yourself staring at a blinking cursor or a maddeningly white piece of paper? I've been working on a pretty large writing project lately (a book, or at least what I hope will turn into one), and have had a few awful moments along the way. This tool can trigger a new train of thought, or inspire a way out of writer's block. Or, it may just amuse you by presenting weirdly random collections of words.

Christmas in the Sixties

tinyurl.com/60sxmas

My buddies at the CBC's digital archives put this collection of TV and clips together.

If you're about my vintage, you may find it fascinating or striking to see and hear how Christmas was celebrated, and described, during the era of aluminum trees (the Charlie Brown Christmas special didn't make that up).

John Gushue is a writer in St. John's. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com. Twitter: @johngushue

Organizations: Liquor Control Board of Ontario

Geographic location: St. John's, Ghana, U.S.

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