Monday, December 14, 2009

10 Favorite Websites

I had no idea what to get you for Christmas, so stealing an idea from Roger Ebert, I’m giving you the gift of websites I love that you may have never heard of. Since I’m in a stealing mood, I’ll steal a line from Oprah that she stole from Julie Andrews: These are a few of my favorite things! (And although etiquette says that a gift requires nothing more than a thank you in return, I'd love if you want to recommend other websites in the comments.)

Staggering Works of genius

1. Roger Ebert http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/
Due to his battle with cancer Roger Ebert can no longer speak or eat, but thankfully he can still write. I grew up watching his movie reviews, which he continues to do online, but his journal is where the best stuff is posted: profound and witty commentaries on a wide variety of subjects. He’s also a must follow on Twitter @ebertchicago.

2. Bruce Schneier http://www.schneier.com/blog/
You may have never heard of Bruce Schneier, but he is my idol. He is a security pundit with a talent for cutting through the noise of fear to sort the hype from the reality of physical and cyber security issues. Plus, most of his writing is accessible to non-professionals. If you want to know the difference between what actually mitigates risk and what is just “security theatre” read this blog. As a delightful non sequitur, he posts about squid every Friday.

Valuable Resources

I learned about this site at WIRED’s NextFest last year. EveryBlock consolidates everything from police blotters to restaurant reviews to real estate prices based on proximity to a given address or zip code. It’s great for keeping up with news in your neighborhood or evaluating a possible move.

Everyday GroupOn posts an amazing deal for an ever increasing number of cities. If enough people sign up “the deal is on.” If not, the deal is cancelled. Sure, you probably won’t be interested in every deal, but it’s worth watching for one that appeals to you.

Diversions

Cake Wrecks is a bit of a phenomenon, so you may already be familiar. However, I still run across people who don’t know about the site, and that is just WRONG. The combination of horrendously decorated cakes and quality humor-writing makes Cake Wrecks the highlight of my RSS feed. And lest you be confused, understand that the Sunday posts are dedicated to exquisitely decorated cakes, the opposite of wrecks.

6. Smitten Kitchen http://smittenkitchen.com/
I actually cook, but I have a strong preference for cookbooks with beautiful pictures at which I can stare longingly, a.k.a. Food Porn. Smitten Kitchen is the best of this genre that I’ve found on the web. Her delicious recipes and practical advice are always paired with gorgeous photographs that make Smitten Kitchen a pleasurable read for anyone that eats. (Sorry, Roger Ebert!)

7. Radio Lab http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/
I should probably do a separate list of podcasts, and maybe I will. In the meantime, I will present you with my absolute favorite: Radio Lab. This is a brilliantly produced and entertaining show that never fails to present me with new fascinations. Thought provoking is an understatement. Let’s call it “thought inciting.”

Hometown Heroes

I have lived in 3 cities in the last 5 years, and I follow blogs from each of them. Below are three sites that for me capture the spirit of each place.

8. Pittsburgh: That’s Church http://thatschurch.com/
Apparently there was an anonymous blogger called PittGirl who became a sensation after I left Pittsburgh. I completely missed out on that phenomenon but have discovered the former PittGirl now that she is back with a real name and a new blog. That’s Church probably won’t appeal to anyone without ties to Pittsburgh, but Ginny’s snarky observations are perfect for ‘burgh ex-pats who want to feel that they’re still in the loop (er...The Golden Triangle). Steelers fans should at minimum check out her “What They’re Really Thinking” posts the day after each game. Particularly in a season like this one it’s good to be able to laugh. Plus, she raised over $13,000 to give sick girls a game room. And she hates pigeons.

9. DC: Wonkette http://www.wonkette.com/
Wonkette describes itself as “The DC Gossip,” but it is far more than that. This biting mix of gossip and satire targets politicians, which makes much of its content of national interest. Plus, much like watching The Daily Show, you can’t help but learn a bit about current events while you are being entertained.

10. Chicago: Chicago Elevated http://www.chicagoelevated.com/
Because I currently live in Chicago I follow a lot of local websites, particularly to keep up with local news and events. Chicago Elevated, however, is I realy solely for pleasure. This site is a love letter to Chicago mostly by way of its bones: architecture. The recurring Wednesday feature “A Million Times” gives the history of a building that you may have passed a million times without thinking about. Not all the posts are architecture oriented, but they all celebrate the city that I currently call home.

+. Hmm...I realize I chose snarky sites for Pittsburgh and DC but not Chicago. That seems rude. I’m sure the Etiquette Bitch would not approve.

1 comment:

Ronda said...

Thanks for the suggestions! There's a few that i need to check out.

I <3 smitten kitchen! The bread that I brought to the holiday party was the black bread recipe featured on that site.

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