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Movies

VARIETY.COM
(www.variety.com) Armani, shmarmani. You can wear nothing but your skivvies and still feel like a Hollywood player by logging on to this virtual version of the industry’s paper of record. Reviews and box office figures are available, but the no-cost website also offers updated news bulletins, the always invaluable search function, and a handy slang glossary to help you talk like a Tinseltown topper. Boffo. B+

VENT!
(www.li.net/~filmfrk/vent) In his ”online magazine for disgruntled filmmakers,” Long Island’s own Don Philbricht kvetches about directing his feature, Playing With Mr. Greeley (”I feel alternately elated and despondent, depending on the day and how many credit-card balances are overdue”). Elsewhere, a Philadelphia faction talks up its ”Second Annual Reject FilmFest,” and ”In the Can” features a few cash-strapped films in search of funding. How about advice on getting Harvey Weinstein to return your calls? B

THE 15 MINUTES PROJECT
(www.zeldman.com/15/main.html) Talk about access Hollywood. For his two-month-old ”interview magazine for the Web,” Jeffrey Zeldman has already scored RealVideo interviews with a clutch of film luminaries. Hear Kevin Spacey admit he doesn’t ”get” the Net; see Jodie Foster’s rueful smile as she discusses the nuances of playing a prodigy. Surprisingly personal tidbits from people who don’t give them up that easily. A-

THE MOVIE CLICHÉS LIST
(www.like.it/vertigo/cliches.html) Cinephiles will both chuckle and wince at Italian film buff Giancarlo Cairella’s compilation of hoary celluloid chestnuts. The categories range from war (”You’re very likely to survive any battle in any war unless you show someone a picture of your sweetheart back home”) to sports (”A player on the field can look up into a crowd of one billion and immediately spot their loved one”) to, of course, sex (”All beds have a special L-shaped top sheet, which reaches up to armpit level on women but only to waist level on men”). A

Movies Best of Breed

AFI Online
(www.afionline.org) Whatever you thought of the American Film Institute’s ranking of the 100 greatest movies, its website brings celluloid to cyberspace with style. In addition to the clip-augmented list, there’s a multimedia Martin Scorsese retrospective; links to 20,000 film sites; and interviews with Hollywood honchos. The site redeems an organization silly enough to leave Manhattan off the top 100. A

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TV

BLUE’S CLUES
(www.nickjr.com/bluesclues) Nickelodeon’s site for its popular preschooler’s show — about an adventurous dog and her chipper owner, Steve — captures the program’s soothing appeal. Print out coloring-book-style pictures and download a new game each week. Sorry, ladies, but this G-rated site serves up no hot pinup photos of the oh-so-adorable Steve. A

COMPLETE FRIENDS SCRIPT INDEX
(www.geocities.com/TelevisionCity/ Set/5799) Chicago-based Eric Aasen and friends have laboriously transcribed four seasons of episodes, allowing the average Phoebe to relive Marcel the monkey’s wacky adventures. There’s also a collection of fan fiction — some of it so flatly unfunny it only serves to emphasize how sharp a show Friends is. B

THE PRICE IS RIGHT. A TRUE FAN’S PERSPECTIVE, AND HOW TO WIN
(www.clarkson.edu/~guildda/tpir. html) The ”true fan” is college student Dave Guild, whose obsession with the fabulous 60-minute game show rivals Ed Grimley’s love for Wheel of Fortune. Enjoy meticulously presented mathematical strategies for winning everything from Safe Cracker to Plinko. The only thing missing is Barker’s Beauties — even if Guild does cop to an unhealthy admiration of Chantel. A

BERT IS EVIL!
(www.hyper.org/bert/) This warped, disturbing, and really funny site (a mirror site of the original, defunct Web page) purports that Ernie’s irascible pal is actually one of Satan’s little helpers. Photo ”evidence” includes cleverly doctored pictures of Bert with the KKK, while Muppet interviews imply that Bert drove Elmo to a cocaine habit. B-

THE ’80S TV THEME SUPERSITE
(www.webhangers.com/~tvthemes) A supreme time waster/nostalgia blast for twentysomethings, this extensive site incorporates RealAudio downloads of news themes, game shows, and commercial jingles into its collection of series theme songs. Relive your crush on Alex P. Keaton while humming along to Family Ties’ ”What would we do, baby, without us” tune. Plenty of links, too, in case your favorite program is missing. A

TV Best of Breed

THE INFOMERCIAL INDEX
(www.magickeys.com/infomercials) Don’t rack your brain trying to remember that fascinating electric eyebrow plucker you saw Joyce DeWitt pushing on a paid program at 3 a.m. Just log on and search for over 370 infomercials by category (i.e., hair restoration), product name (i.e., Kurtain Kraft), or personality (i.e., Lee Majors). Includes order numbers and price information, too. Perfect for insomniacs with short-term-memory disorders. A+

Music

DENIM AND LEATHER
(home1.swipnet.se/~w-11942/denim/) This ”home of ’80s heavy metal and hard rock” is paradise city for nostalgic rockers and young Korn fans looking to bone up on metal history. Especially helpful is an in-depth thesaurus that outlines the difference between slippery terms like black metal, doom metal, and death metal. ”[Death metal is] about as far away from ‘easy listening’ as you can get,” explains the site administrator named (what else?) Olof. B-

BLOOD AND FIRE
(www.bloodandfire.co.uk) Think Bob Marley is the beginning and end of reggae? This U.K. record company, the world’s premier reggae reissue label, specializes in impossibly rare ’70s dub and DJ records from artists like King Tubby and Yabby U. With its historical info and annotated discography, this beautifully designed website is the best way to delve into the company’s complex catalog. A+

MP3
(www.mp3.com) MP3 technology has rapidly replaced the used-CD trade as the music industry’s biggest headache. Want to know why? Zip over to this official site, which explains how the controversial file format can be used to electronically transfer CD-quality music files. Combined with recordable CD machines, MP3 technology makes it possible to download full, store-quality albums from the Internet, either legally or illegally. This site offers software and frequently updated news, plus a large selection of legal files that you can download for free (assuming you’re interested in bands with names like Slug Oven). B

BELLE & SEBASTIAN
(www.jeepster.co.uk/belleandsebastian, http://www.totalweb.co.uk/ belleandsebastian) So you’re in a much-praised but obscure band and you want to keep in touch with your small but passionate fan base. American Top 40 radio and MTV won’t touch your music. What to do? Like other bands in their situation, Scottish indie popsters Belle & Sebastian have taken to the Web, keeping in touch with fans and winning over the curious via these two official websites, both of which offer plenty of free music clips. The former’s slick design, expanded content, and free B&S electronic postcards make it the place to start. A-, B

Music Best of Breed

GRAND ROYAL
(www.grandroyal.com) The official home of bands such as the Beastie Boys (Grand Royal is their boutique label), Sean Lennon, and Buffalo Daughter, this recently redesigned page offers plenty of news and a large mail-order catalog. But the best reason to drop in is the collection of QuickTime videos, performance clips, even the Beasties’ hard-to-find Hello Nasty infomercial. A-

Really Useful

WEB ACRONYM AND ABBREVIATION LIST
(www.ucc.ie/info/net/acronyms) TIA? IMHO? Net neophytes scratching their heads over the acronyms littering their online correspondence can click to this simple, searchable index maintained by Irish webmaster Peter Flynn. Updated weekly, the WAAL now has more than 15,000 entries to help you decipher those alpha-bits and be A-OK on AOL. B

ICYOUSEE GUIDE TO THE WORLD WIDE WEB
(www.ithaca.edu/Library/Training/ICYouSee.html) Hopelessly lost, clueless newbie? Go to this Ithaca College website, where librarian John Henderson has created a self-guided intro to the infobahn. ICYouSee starts you off in first gear (with a glossary) and then gradually helps you learn to solve problems and do research on the Web. Henderson’s clear and practical site tallies and reviews the various search engines, and even suggests techniques for fiddling with problematic URLs. The first step to becoming a know-it-all Net-head. B+

LOWESTFARE.COM
(www.lowestfare.com) Need to pull a Ferris Bueller? This budget-minded site can help you make a cheap getaway. There’s no need to register in advance — anyone can drop in for advertised airfare discounts of at least 20 percent. You can buy the tickets online and even chat with other travelers and look at their photos — but be prepared for some frank talk about Montezuma’s revenge. B+

THE CATALOG SITE
(www.catalogsite.com) The cavalcade of catalog names says it all: All About Christmas, Spy Tech Agency, The Ferret Store, Spices Etc. (Cata)log on to this site to order brochures (including usual suspects like J. Crew and Lands’ End) or link to E-commerce sites for clothing, housewares, pet supplies, office equipment, or food. For those who crave more, the site’s breathless online ”magazine,” Catalog Dish, hypes both the glossy circulars and their merchandise — perfect for when reading the catalogs themselves is just too taxing. B

INFONATION
(www.un.org/Pubs/CyberSchoolBus /infonation/e_infonation.htm) No, it’s not a Janet Jackson site. At this amazingly efficient United Nations-sponsored page, you can get a fix on the demographics of the global village. The database search allows you to compare statistical info for up to seven countries in as many as four categories (choices range from infant mortality rates and gross domestic product to newspaper circulation and CO2 emissions). Who knew that Americans have three times as many cars per capita as Australians? Guaranteed to make your kid’s next social studies report sound like an embassy white paper. A-

Really Useful Best of Breed

THE MINING COMPANY
(home.miningco.com) Think Yahoo! with people. This window on the Web outfits each category in its vast search engine with a flesh-and-blood guide who selects relevant cyberhighlights. Some 500 guides surface with links on topics wacky (action-figure collecting to ‘zines) and weighty (adoption to Yukon and Alaskan history). One hint, however: To counteract The Mining Co.’s irritating practice of framing others’ sites (thereby annexing them and obscuring the URL), use your browser’s ”Open Link in New Window” option. A

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Cooking

KOSHER GROCER
(www.koshergrocer.com) Here’s a solution for everyone with a dietary restriction — an online grocery store (based in Brooklyn) whose ingredients you can trust. They’ll even FedEx your order across the United States, so you can eat wherever you go. The selection runs the gamut from frozen dinners to such ethnic foods as traditional Thai peanut sauce, and if you never thought food that was good for you could taste good, you’ve never tried Sapienza’s lactose- and cholesterol-free cheesecake, a miracle of modern science. B+

BIRDS EYE RECIPE SEARCH
(www.birdseye.com/search.html) Yeah, it’s as sexy as frozen peas, but this site is incredibly useful nevertheless. Birds Eye, the company that revolutionized frozen foods way back in 1930, has created a search engine that trolls every pantry nook of the Net to find a recipe for any ingredients you specify. General searches yield large results (a search on ”chicken” returns more than 6,000 recipes), so try using specific keywords or the advanced search feature. For especially twisted fun, try looking for recipes that use exotic meats and spices (anyone for kangaroo escalopes with spinach and anchovy butter?) A-

SOAR
(SOAR.Berkeley.EDU/recipes) The title’s an acronym for Searchable Online Archive of Recipes, and with a mind-boggling 38,000 dishes to try out, this site soars indeed. You can use it as a search tool or as a directory, exploring topics from pasta to puddings. There are also numerous specialty areas like recipes for diabetics, camping trips, or homemade dog food. Plus, there’s the truly sublime ”Weird” category, which includes a nifty recipe for Klingon gingerbread. B+

KITCHEN LINK
(www.kitchenlink.com) Although it’s not titled ”HTML Soup for the Soul,” this site deserves kudos for combining community interests with cooking tips. The personal project of tireless Betsy Couch of Rochester, N.Y., Link does a great job of mixing together a cookbook store, recipes, and information on such topics as hunger relief. Remember when your mom told you to eat your food because some kid was starving? Here’s where you can learn how to help feed him. B+

THE COOK’S THESAURUS
(www.northcoast.com/~alden/cookhome.html) The guests are about to arrive, you’re hovering over the pots — and you run out of cardamom. Cardamom? Surf over to The Cook’s Thesaurus to find out what to replace the spice with. Besides common alternatives to ingredients, this site, maintained by Lori Alden, offers replacement ingredients for low-fat and specialty diets. If your browser’s up to it, the Java version (as in the programming language, not the drink) is even slicker. B

Cooking Best of Breed

EPICURIOUS
(www.epicurious.com) If you need only one food site, this Condé Nast groaning board is it. The most useful areas are the etiquette guide that helps you avoid potential faux pas, and the food and drink sections filled with articles from sister print publications Gourmet and Bon Appétit. Let out a sigh of relief — you’ll never again have to remember where to place the shrimp fork. A

Family

FREEZONE
(www.freezone.com) Kids too old for Elmo and too young for keys to the family minivan will click away at this Seattle-based site, part of the Curiocity family of publications for kids. They can read about No Doubt or Weird Al Yankovic in Pop Culture, or learn more about rock climbing on the Sports page. But to hang out in the monitored chat rooms or to sign up for an electronic pen pal, surfers need to register (FreeZone promises not to give the info out to a third party). Kids can also try out their investigative abilities as NewzFlash reporters and submit stories to the weekly CurioZine. Baffled parents might even check out the Slang Translator. For the record, crunk = cool — and this site is crunk. A

THE MUSEUM OF UNNATURAL MYSTERY
(www.unmuseum.mus.pa.us/unmuseum.htm) A ”bone Mafia” allegedly swipes dino fossils from a Russian paleontological museum. Robot bugs may someday march over Mars in the name of science. And that famous Loch Ness monster photo is a hoax — or so reports webmaster Lee Krystek, who created the Museum as an online outpost for the bizarre side of science. Krystek not only offers monthly odd-science-related news but also gives the full history on such topics as pirates, flying saucers, and dinosaurs. And in his mad scientist’s laboratory, you can learn how to make crystals and balloon rockets. Hey, maybe the astronauts started this way too. B+

TOO COOL FOR GROWNUPS
(www.tcfg.com) Don’t worry, parents, you’ll not be dissed here. With each issue of this well-designed E-zine out of Chapel Hill, N.C., preteens and teenagers alike are taken on a guided Web tour through worlds such as those of endangered species, undersea life, and the rain forest. In addition to the entertaining links (Professor Bubbles? The Froggy Page?), TCFG teaches kids how to utilize the Web to, say, chase hurricanes. After all, hurricanes are cool. B

Family Best of Breed

CTW FAMILY WORKSHOP
(www.ctw.org) It’s supposedly for tots, but anyone who grew up with Big Bird and Snuffleupagus will get misty at this newly revamped site (launching Sept. 8). Kids can tickle Elmo with mouse clicks, create a story in the Preschool Playground, or observe Yucky Day in the Let’s Celebrate Today area. The Networked Family, which teaches Mom and Dad how to download, benefits kids who have better things to do than get parents up to Web speed. A

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