- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 29, 2006

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

Knuckleheads on the Net

StupidVideos.com (www.StupidVideos. com) has spent almost five years appealing to humans’ desire to laugh at any cost with its collection of silly video clips.

Visitors will find free access to hundreds of segments streamed in the Windows Media and QuickTime formats as they choose from the sections Stunts, Sports, Animals, Commercials, Song & Dance, Rejects and Just Plain Stupid.

The sections are further broken down with links for Most Popular, Top Rated and New that quickly lead lovers of the viral video phenom (video spread via the Internet and e-mails) to clips featuring a guy who gets a sign stapled to his back, a fellow hit with a golf ball at close range, Eric Estrada being snubbed by a fan and a Webcam chick who uses a bit of trickery to look better on the Net than in real life.

The embedded player on the Web page offers an Autoplay function to enjoy a lineup of multiple videos, various quality settings and an easy way to add a clip to a personal blog, e-mail or instant messenger program.

Those who want to show others their finest moments can upload an unlimited number of videos in any format for a chance to win $15,000.

Anyone willing to pay for the privilege of watching the beginning of the collapse of civilization ($12 per year) will be able to download the content to an IPod, PlayStation Portable, cell phone and computer to make a playlist of favorites and not have to deal with advertisements.

While on the topic, MTV Networks’ IFilm presents an even more robust haven for viewing the hilarious, bizarre and disturbing through a section on its site devoted purely to viral video (www.ifilm.com/viralvideo).

Its much more expansive list of videos, which encompasses pop culture, includes self-explanatory topics of Just Plain Weird, Cruise Gone Wild, Stun Guns, Daily Danza, Estonian TV and Microsoft Funnies.

A new Web window loads a media player (with options to view multiple connection speeds through Windows Media, QuickTime and Real Player browser plug-ins) that forces visitors to view a short commercial before the main event.

Visitors may find a five-minute clip of a giant centipede eating a mouse to be nearly as nasty as Mr. T’s version of “Be Somebody” — though to see a clean-cut Jim Morrison act in a 1964 film promoting the state of Florida tops my list of “hard to watch.”

Some of the clips are for mature audiences — the site clearly spells out any objectionable segments — and visitors have the ability to opt out of it before loading begins. Also, language throughout puts the site squarely in the PG-13 range.

IFilm also offers channels such as Video Games, TV Clips and an especially cool Music Videos section that features such classics as “Carnival” from VH1 Storytellers sung by Natalie Merchant, live Rush performing “Tom Sawyer,” and “In Bloom” from Nirvana.

I-N-T-E-R-N-E-T

Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne star in a movie about one of the most stressful and tortuous challenges ever devised by educators.

The just-released Lions Gate Films’ “Akeelah and the Bee” presents one young girl’s quest to win the National Spelling Bee. Its official Web site (www.akeelahandthebee.com) leads visitors into a beautifully designed universe punctuated by a trio of multilevel timed challenges to stimulate the brain.

Within the Games section, visitors can test their response skills and knowledge with a Jumbo Spelling Bee Word Search, Akeelah’s Flash Memory Game and Dr. Larabee’s Falling Letters Game.

The latter offers a cascade of letters from which the player must grab the appropriate ones, in order, to spell a listed word. A definition enhances the learning potential and enlightens players about words such as euphoric, milieu and equipage.

Additionally, under the Promotions section, parents will find an eight-page educational guide in the PDF format to create lesson plans and activities.

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 e-mail (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www.washingtontimes.com/familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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