Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Top 10 Most World Famous Canadians

Standing in the frigid shadows of a superpower is never easy, but Canadians make it look so.  Of course, part of the reason may be because they’re bigger than we are (barely) and consider themselves part of a worldwide commonwealth, but who knows.  In any case, and despite our miniscule population (about a tenth of that of the U.S.) a few of them have gone on to become quite famous.
So who are these renowned Canadians of whom I speak so glibly?  While determining who among the citizenry of our neighbors to our north deserve to make this list is an exercise in subjectivity (and probably futility) there are a few that stand out above the rest.  While entertainers comprise the bulk of this list, I’ve tried to expand it to include a few names from outside of the entertainment industry as well.  And so, without further ado, here is my list–in no particular order–of the top ten best known Canadians (at least in the United States).

10.  William Shatner, Actor

No way could a trekkie like myself leave Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise off the list.  Born in Montreal in 1931, “Bill,” as he likes to be called, came to Hollywood in the 1950s and soon made a name for himself appearing in Westerns, detective shows, and just about anything else he could land before finding himself in the captain’s chair.  Though he never achieved super stardom status-except among Trekkies–he’s managed to find work in Hollywood for the better part of sixty years now, which is as big an accomplishment as going where no man has gone before.
Cool fact: It turns out that early in his career, Shatner was fellow Canadian actor Christopher Plummer’s understudy.  He later worked with the man in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country with Plummer-now a Klingon–playing Kirk’s nemesis.

9.  Michael J. Fox, Actor/Activist

The popular Edmonton-born Fox because best known for his role as Michael Keaton on Family Ties and, later, as Marty McFly in the hugely successful Back To The Future trilogy.  Coming to Hollywood at the tender age of 18, he is the quintessential rags-to-riches story; in this case, an unknown and literally starving actor caught a few lucky breaks and became one of the most popular and well paid actors in Hollywood, practically overnight.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, Fox was forced to semi-retire from acting in 2000, though he has continued to do voice-over work and take on minor roles ever since. He has also become an advocate for stem cell research in the hopes of finding a cure for Parkinson’s.

8.  Alexander Graham Bell, Inventor

Okay, since he was born and raised in Scotland and didn’t move to Canada until he was in his twenties (along with the fact that he became a naturalized American citizen in 1882), he’s not technically a Canadian, but since he first began working on the telephone while living in Canada and lived there-on and off-until his death in 1922, should at least qualify him as a Canadian emigre who accomplished much.
Though best known for the invention of the telephone (though the debate as to whether he stole the idea from competitor Elisha Gray, whom he beat to the patent office by mere hours, rages on), he was a prolific inventor with hundreds of patents to his credit and a wide range of interests.  He had a hand in developing everything from airplanes and hydrofoils to hearing aids and metal detectors before his death.

7.  Alex Trebek, Game Show Host

While the veteran game show host is not the most accomplished of Canadians–overseeing contestants trying to answer trivia questions for a half-hour hardly qualifies as a major achievement–it’s hard to argue that he’s not one of the best known Canadians in America.  Coming across as something of a soft intellectual well-versed in foreign dialects (his French is flawless) and, on occasion, passable impressions, the genial host presents a sophistication that speaks well of all Canadians.
Originally a news anchor and sportscaster (with a degree in philosophy no less) before coming to America in 1972, he has been going strong ever since, hosting a number of short-lived but moderately successful game shows before taking the Jeopardy gig in 1984 and running with it ever since.  Now, if we could only get him to grow that moustache back.

6.  Wayne Gretzky, Athlete

What could be more Canadian than hockey, and who was arguably the most famous and successful hockey player of all time besides Wayne Gretzky?  I know, I could have said Bobby Orr or Gordie Howe or Mario Lemieux (Canadians one and all) but Gretzky beats them all.
How good was he?  Well, he only holds forty regular-season records, fifteen playoff records, and six All-Star records, was the leading point-scorer in NHL history, as well as being the only NHL player to total over 200 points in one season–a feat he accomplished four times–and to tally over 100 points in 16 professional seasons, 14 of them consecutive. Other than that, he didn’t do much.

5.  Pierre Trudeau, Politician

Most Americans rarely know the leader of their northern neighbor is (nor, the truth be told, do they care) but it could be argued if they remembered any of them, it would be Pierre Trudeau.  This man somehow managed to hold onto the post of Prime Minister for an astonishing fifteen years, longer than any Prime Minister before or since.
Something of an intellectual, he was both praised and vilified during his tenure.  Lauded for preserving national unity against Quebec separatists, successfully suppressing a violent uprising, and establishing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms within Canada’s constitution, he was also criticized for being arrogant, a ham-handed economist, and a big-time federalist who believed in a big central government over the rights of the provinces to do their own thing.

4.  John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

While probably not a household name in either the United States or Canadian, the Ontario-born economist was one of the leading intellectual driving forces behind much of our modern economic theories.  Also, at 6’8″, he may also hold the record as being the tallest Canadian ever.
A champion of the left for his advocacy of big government and central planning and one of the driving forces behind numerous government entitlement programs, it is hard to argue that without Galbraith’s influence, Canada would look quite a bit different today.  Whether it would be better or worse is a matter for debate, but what can’t be debated is the effect the man had on this country and continues to have on it still, six years after his death.

3. James Cameron, Director

When the average person is asked to name the most famous directors, three names are usually mentioned: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Canadian-born James Cameron, director of the blockbusters Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, and the two top-grossing movies ever, Titanic and Avatar.  Not bad for a college dropout and one-time truck driver who basically taught himself cinematography.
Though he has lived in the United States since 1971, he remains a card-carrying Canadian.  Not all about him is money and smooth sailing, however; married and divorced five times, Cameron has a reputation for being difficult to work with and somewhat cavalier when it comes to ensuring safe working conditions for his cast and crew.

2. Neil Young, Singer/Songwriter

Toronto-born Neil Young is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation.  Young began performing as a solo artist in Canada in 1960, before moving to California in 1966, where he co-founded Buffalo Springfield before later joining Crosby, Stills & Nash as a fourth member in 1969.  He also forged a successful and acclaimed solo career, beginning a career spanning over 50 years and 34 studio albums.
Not that there hasn’t been lean times as well; during the eighties he practically vanished (this was his “experimental” decade) but by the nineties had reemerged.  So how does a sixties-era Woodstock rocker manage to keep it going for better than half a century?  By continually trying new things to prevent his music from becoming dated…and by smoking a lot of pot, one would imagine.

1.  Shania Twain, Singer/Songwriter

Who says all country singers must come from the Deep South?  The Canadian born singer/songwriter Shania Twain broke this stereotype when she emerged on the world stage in the mid-nineties, only to go on to produce became the best-selling album of all time by a female in any genre, and the best-selling country album of all time (try over 40 million copies worldwide and you get the idea.)
Not only that, but in the short time she’s been out there she’s won five Grammy Awards and 27 BMI Songwriter awards.  Only fellow Canadian singer CĂ©line Dion is more popular in her native Canada, but that’s like comparing apples to oranges since Dion isn’t exactly known for her country music.
Other famous Canadians: Jim Carrey, Sarah McLachlan, Joni Mitchell, k.d. Lang, Keanu Reeves, Peter Jennings, Pamela Anderson, Dan Akroyd, and Gordon Lightfoot. Not bad, eh?

Top 10 Best Flash Websites of 2012

1 | Being Henry
Being Henry uses Flash as it was originally intended, to open up new possibilities in consumer entertainment. It does this by offering users an interactive film that allows them to guide the aforementioned Henry through several storylines that work together to create a truly unique storytelling experience.

2 | The Museum of Me
Intel’s Museum of Me uses information gathered from your Facebook account to create a visual snapshot of your life. The website, created by Fluid Inc. for Intel, turns your photos, videos, and status updates into a virtual tour de force of your life. This website is a must try for all Facebook users.

3 | We Choose The Moon
WeChooseTheMoon.org was designed to celebrate the Fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Lunar landing by developing an interactive recreation of the event. The site uses Flash to mesh archival video, audio, & photos into an experience that will make you feel as if you too had walked on the moon that day.

4 | Moodstream | Getty Images
Moodstream is a hypnotic website brought to you by the folks at Getty Images that offers a brainstorming tool designed to help get your creative juices flowing. By simply tweaking the mood sliders you can adjust a stream of images, footage, & audio that can help inspire your creative direction.

5 | Monoface
Mono is an advertising agency based in Minneapolis, MN that lives by the motto that "simpler is better." The "Mono"face site lives up to that motto by presenting visitors with a fun and simple Flash application that allows them to sculpt a Mr. Potato Head style face that contains 759,375 entertaining possibilities.

6 | Waterlife
Waterlife is a showcase for the documentary film of the same name that offers its audience a wonderful preview of the lush cinematography and rich storytelling found in the film. The true genius of the site, however, is found in its fluid navigation that recalls the gentle motion of a lake.

7 | Infinite OZ
Infinite OZ is an artistic collaboration that uses Flash to bring to life the world of the Sci-Fi miniseries event the Tin Man. Visitors are taken on a wonderful journey through the many visually stunning locales that make up the fabled emerald city that may make you want to get lost there forever.

8 | Get The Glass
Get The Glass is the work of the California Milk Processor Board and was designed to encourage increased milk consumption by inviting visitors to participate in a comically entertaining Flash based game whose objective is to Get the Glass--of milk of course. The current design appeared in late 2007.

9 | Marc Ecko
MarcEcko.com is a wonderful example of using the vast possibilities of Flash to accurately reflect the ethos of a consumer brand within a website. Even visitors unfamiliar with the Ecko brand will feel they understand the art & philosophy it symbolizes within a few minutes of touring the site.

10 | Dave Werner's Portfolio
Dave Werner uses his Flash skills not only to publish his portfolio, but through the use of well narrated video, he also gives visitors a sense of his personal story which seeks to give stronger voice and context to his featured work. The current version of OkayDave.com went live in mid 2006.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The top 10 Highest-Paid Football Players in 2011

The list of 2011’s highest-paid soccer players has been released by Forbes Magazine a couple of months ago and we’ve thought we should share the players who earned the most in this last year with you as well. The numbers represent salaries, endorsements and bonuses for every player listed, earned during the last year. Regarding the fact that some of them, like David Beckham, Thierry Henry or Ronaldinho aren’t playing for top football clubs right now, but they are still in the top ten highest paid footballers list, it’s because they still have major endorsement deals. So, take a look at probably the world’s richest football players in this list with the 10 highest paid footballers of 2011.
No.10 -> Samuel Eto’o

Last year’s Earnings -> $15 million
Club: FC Anzhi Makhachkala
Africa’s most decorated footballer of all time, winning the “African Player of the Year” award four times, he has now added Puma and Ford to his list of sponsors. His salary at the Russian club rises up to $29 million a year, for a 3 year deal, making him the highest-paid player in the history of soccer. On 23rd of August he agreed for a transfer to Internazionale Milano, with a $38.9 million transfer fee.
No.8-9 -> Frank Lampard

Last year’s Earnings -> $17 million
Club: Chelsea
His main wage is the salary on Chelsea’s field, of around $11 million, putting him on Britain’s highest paid sportsmen but he also has a couple of endorsements that make his total earnings quite a lot bigger.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Last year’s Earnings -> $17 million
Club: AC Milan
His salary at the Italian club still keeps him among the first ten in the world, thanks to his reputation of one of the best footballers in the world. He always  had impressive salaries at all teams he played and that’s what happens at AC Milan as well.
No.7 -> Wayne Rooney

Last year’s Earnings -> $20 million
Club: Manchester United
Given his bold and rude attitude, he went back at cursing in front of cameras at West Ham. He did this soon after ending his $600,000-a-year contract with Coca-Cola. His current sponsors are Nike and Electronic Arts, and, the deal at Old Trafford, for around $8 million a year, will last at least 5 more years.
No.6 -> Thierry Henry

Last year’s Earnings -> $21 million
Club: New York Red Bulls
After moving to MLS in 2010 to play for the New York Red Bulls, he has bought a suite in New York for almost $15 million, while his partnership with Gillette started during the late 2010.
No.5 -> Ronaldinho

Last year’s Earnings -> $24 million
Club: Flamengo
He was the best players of the world two years in a row just a couple of years ago and now, after moving to his home country to play for Flamengo he still gets the appreciation he truly deserves. His deal with the Brazilian club will last until 2014 and his endorsements are amazing.
No.4 -> Ricardo Kaka

Last year’s Earnings-> $25 million
Club: Real Madrid
He joins this list thanks to his contract with EA Games, selling around 100 million units of the game FIFA 2011, for his presence on the package cover and, of course, thanks to his huge salary from Real Madrid and several ads he’s been doing lately.
No.3 -> Lionel Messi

Last year’s Earnings -> $32 million
Club: Barcelona
Known as the world’s best player right now, Messi is now sponsored by Konami, AudemarsPiquet, Chery, AirEuropa, PepsiCo and Adidas. And these are just the big companies who sponsor this brilliant player. His annual salary of $16 million adds to the numbers.
No.2 -> Cristiano Ronaldo

Last year’s Earnings -> $38 million
Club: Real Madrid
He enhanced his fame on Twitter, with 3 million followers, and on Facebook, 26 million fans. Names like Nike, Armani, Coca-Cola and Castrol stick with him because he’s got the looks and skills needed to promote any product. His salary at Real Madrid is also incredibly high but he scores a lot of goals for the team and I’m sure he deserves it all.
No. 1 -> David Beckham

Last year’s Earnings -> $40 million
Club: Los Angeles Galaxy
After his deal with Adidas, the biggest in the sports world, supported by upper-class soccer apparel, he signed another deal with Samsung, in may 2011, becoming the company’s main figure for the Games. He’s also doing ads for top fashion companies and his salary is probably the highest in the MLS right now.

David Beckham

5 Best Breakdancers In The World

Ever wondered who the 5 best breakdancers in the world are? The best breakdancers in the world come from all over and exhibit the best of what being a Bboy is all about. The best breakdancers in the world revolutionize what breakdancing is about every time they take the stage. One thing that all of the best breakdancers in the world have in common is sick skills and a desire for promoting unity through the art of breakdancing.

1.Bboy Junior. A Bboy that is best known for his power and strength moves, Bboy Junior never ceases to impress the crowds with his amazing upper body strength. His ability to innovate the power moves style of breakdancing makes Bboy Junior one of the best break dancers in the world.

2.Bboy Ronnie. Best known for being one of the best all around Bboys, Ronnie does it all. He has the upper body strength and agility to stick the most complicated power moves combos. He can pop, he can lock and he is a good dancer. Being a master of every style of breakdancing is what makes Ronnie one of the best breakdancers in the world.

3.Crazy Legs. You can't talk about the best breakdancers in the world and not mention Crazy Legs. One of the founding members of the Rock Steady Crew in 1979, Crazy Legs uses breakdancing to support peaceful protests and promote unity through hip-hop. He actively participates in international Bboy competitions as a judge and can still keep up with the young recruits in the Rock Steady Crew. Being a Bboy for 30 years and never missing a step makes Crazy Legs one of the world's best breakdancers.

4.Bboy The End. Speed and agility define everything that Bboy The End does. Best know for his fast-paced and aggressive power moves, Bboy The End is always pushing his limits to redefine what it is to be a Bboy. Whether it be thorough his dance skills or his infectious positive attitude, Bboy The End is always a joy to watch. Being a great dancer and an all around nice guy is what makes Bboy The End one of the best breakdancers around.

5.Bboy Taisuke. His ability to move from power moves to floor moves and strength moves while relying on freezes to switch combos or build momentum ranks Bboy Taisuke among the best breakdancers in the world.