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SOMETHING I learned.

Byline: Laura Davis

SOMETHING I learned this weekend: Times Square is not a square.

This may not shock anyone who has been to New York and witnessed its non-squariness for themselves, but it certainly came as a surprise to me.

Times Square, despite its name very definitely implying a set of four equilateral sides joined by four 90-degree angles, is about as squarey as a hippopotamus.

A bling hippopotamus perhaps, given all the flashing billboards and bright lights, but my point still stands.

Admittedly, the place is no less impressive for the inaccuracy of its name. It's a monument to capitalism, an environmentalist's nemesis, a migraine-sufferer's nightmare... but you can't help but being impressed by it.

Just an hour earlier, I was carefully hanging up my hotel towels to help conserve water and tracking down a recycle bin for my soda can.

It show it's Then I'm standing in Times (not a) Square admiring a light display that would probably power an African village for a generation. to off Crazy. But it's a place of contradictions - a major capitalist country that's invented a generic word for fizzy soft drinks which means you can mention them in a newspaper column without giving the brand free marketing.

A place whose breakfast menus offer egg white omelettes as a matter of course yet serves bacon with pancakes and maple syrup.

A nation where the films The Godfather and Alvin and the Chipmunks were both dreamt up.

And it's strangely catching - a member of our party fell in a manhole and was overwhelmed with a sudden compulsion to sue.

But his very English fear of making a scene gave him the inner strength to crawl out of the hole and limp back to the hotel.

Which just goes to show that it's hard to shake off your breeding.

But what if you were born in a different country? Would everything that makes you you be different? Would you to all intents and purposes be someone else? Possibly, because as much as we like to think our personalities are down to something inside us, they're very much a result of our experiences.

If pothole man had been Italian, he no doubt would have waved his arms about a lot before pulling himself out of the dip instead of discreetly picking himself up off the floor.

And if the designer of Times Square had been Egyptian, perhaps it wouldn't have ended up pyramid-shaped either.

SOMETHING I learnt last week: The sound effects on wildlife documentaries aren't always recorded at the same time as the pictures.

Yes, honestly.

As revelations go this is a pretty big one - on a par with the whole Times (not a) Square debacle.

to that hard shake As it was explained to me by a sound effects expert who has worked on TV nature shows... if you're filming a polar bear you don't want to get too close.

your You can zoom in from afar with a great big lens but you don't want to be wriggling on your belly, microphone in outstretched arm, towards a creature that sees you as supper.

So they make the noises up.

Sometimes they're recorded in a zoo, where you can invade an animals' personal space without the risk of losing a limb.

Other times they are artificial sounds created in a studio.

Well, I'm shocked. If you can't trust a nature documentary then what can you trust? Maybe the next sound they should create in the studio is that of the Earth being knocked off its axis.

* READ more columns by Laura Davis at www.liverpooldailypost.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 17, 2010
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