- The Washington Times - Friday, August 5, 2005

Each month, the Browser features pop-culture sites on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Blue musical media

Telecom giant SBC Communications Inc. has spent the past three months delivering a free cavalcade of music-themed multimedia in its Blue Room (http://blueroom.sbc.com). The cyber-stop features exclusive content, in-studio interviews and live performances from a variety of artists.

Each week, the site gets updated with content that touches on country, Latin, alternative, blues and rock while acting as an online music magazine without too many annoying advertising messages.

Visitors will need the RealPlayer or Windows Media Player and a broadband connection to take full advantage of the visuals and sounds.

An example of the ambitious coverage in the Blue Room can be found through a trio of interview segments with organizer and musician Perry Farrell as he discusses the genesis of the mega alternative music festival Lollapalooza, being held as a one-time festival this year in Chicago’s Grant Park.

SBC is not just offering Mr. Farrell’s comments and opinions but also is helping sponsor the daylong concert. It will follow up with a live webcast the day of the show and will archive footage from some of the more than 60 artists who appear in the Windy City, with multiple videos from Billy Idol, Liz Phair and Dinosaur Jr.

The Blue Room’s exclusive performances range from Alter Bridge performing “Shed My Skin” and Billy Corgan doing “The CameraEye” from his first solo album, “The Future Embrace,” to the Robert Cray Band mellowing out the Irving Plaza in New York City with “Poor Johnny” from the album “Twenty.”

Interviews include 36 artists sitting down with Country Weekly magazine during the 2005 CMA Music Festival.

Velvet Revolver fans will appreciate a look at the colorful comic-bookish music video for “Come on, Come in,” from the “Fantastic Four” movie soundtrack.

The premise sounds great, but problems trying to get my Windows Media Player configured with the Yahoo Premier Video streaming made it a stuttering, unsatisfying experience.

I was so aggravated by my failed attempts at the configuration process that I hung out at the MSN Video site (http://video.msn.com) and gleefully watched music videos of the Violent Femmes classics “Gone Daddy Gone” and “Blister in the Sun” before trying again.

Hazzard-ous surfing

Another classic 1980s television show arrives on the big screen with Warner Bros.’ remake of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” starring Johnny Knoxville and Jessica Simpson, with Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg.

The film’s official Web site (http://dukesofhazzard.warnerbros.com) keeps the Southern-twanged humor flowing with plenty of barn doors a-flappin’ and country music a-thumpin’, lots of “yee haws” and the famed orange “General Lee” Charger speeding across the screen.

Any remotely original content to the site arrives through a trio of challenges.

First, gamblers can take part in multiple games of Texas hold ‘em poker against Daisy Duke. The simulation gives the new player a full tutorial and hand-rankings chart as he receives $250 to challenge Hazzard’s beauty. Those who win enough hands can unlock alternate sets of Daisy-themed cards.

Next, Rebel Makeover allows artists to take an image of themselves or a loved one and turn that person into a good ol’ boy or girl. Once a photo has been uploaded (up to 100k) to the simulation, users can choose from mullet styles; multiple types of facial hair; and such accessories as sunglasses, baseball caps and a wheat stalk to plant between teeth. Of course, the finished masterpiece can be e-mailed to a pal.

Finally, Pimp Your Rod allows mechanics to customize a 1969 Dodge Charger or a 1969 Ford Mustang GT500 while exploring a garage’s storage lockers and pulling out and applying tires, bumpers, fuzzy dice and flame decals to the customized hot rod. Once finished, the car takes an online drive and flies over a ramp.

Jessica Simpson fans also can stop by her site (www.jessicasimpson.com) to see a full music-video version of her collaboration with Willie Nelson on the remake of Nancy Sinatra’s hit “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’,” used in the new movie.@

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (jszadkowskiwashingtontimes.com).

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