- The Washington Times - Friday, November 28, 2003

Each month, the Browser features a few pop-culture places on the World Wide Web that offer the coolest in free, interactive sounds and action.

May the Web be with you

Cartoon Network’s continuation of the film “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” may be only three minutes of animated brilliance wedged among its programs, but it packs a mighty wallop. Fans unable to find the time to view the segments, developed by “Samurai Jack” creator Gennady Tartakovsky, can locate them on the cartoon cable king’s Web site under the “Clone Wars” banner (www.cartoonnetwork.com/clonewars/index.html).

With just a click, a mighty frame appears, starting with an element of scrolling text behind a star-filled background much like the opening of all the “Star Wars” films. After perusing either the good Jedi or evil Dark Lord of the Sith side of the minisite to read about main characters, planets involved and weapons (and then playing a slick video game in which combatants wield a deadly light saber), visitors can click to the previously aired episodes using either Streaming QuickTime or Real Player.

The option of listening to a commentary track by Mr. Tartakovsky is available, as well as a handy guide to when the next episode will air — should viewing the splendid moments in a 3-inch-by-2-inch rectangle fail to satisfy one’s visual appetite.

The most important part of this cartoon series, though, from this long-suffering fan’s point of view, is that Mr. Tartakovsky may accomplish what George Lucas’ lame directing and dialogue of the current Star Wars films cannot: allow a new generation of fans to fall in love with the adventures of the Skywalkers.

‘Cat’ in the computer

Mike Myers lends his talents to the title role of Universal Pictures’ current blockbuster “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat” and the film’s promotional Web, site (www.thecatinthehatmovie.com) perfectly complements his frenetic portrayal of the giant feline with a penchant for troublemaking.

The familiar red- and white-striped wobbly chapeau explodes onto a visitor’s computer screen, revealing major sections to learn about the film and to have some fun amid its sound-effects-laden animated presentation.

In addition to multiple desktop downloads — in a variety of e-cards, screen savers, wallpapers and AOL Instant Messenger icons — family members can watch a three-minute tribute to the story’s creator, Theodor Seuss Geisel, via QuickTime or Windows Media Player, and then appreciate six more activities as a pesky Thing 1 and Thing 2 try to distract and cause mayhem along the way.

Of the sextuplet of silliness allowing players to interact with film elements — only five were operational at the time of this review — the best were a way to create a “Cat” business card for printing and a “jump on the couch” game featuring players controlling Sally’s and Conrad’s bouncing (without getting caught by Mom) and collecting points for spectacular aerobatics.

Those with plenty of time to waste will want to look for clues throughout the site to help build the Cat’s hip vehicle, the Super Luxurious Omnidirectional Whatchamajigger (S.L.O.W.) — which, when completed, reveals a cheat code to help catch the pair of Things in yet another Web game.

Music lovers will also appreciate the availability of the complete Smash Mouth (www.smashmouth.com) music video “Hang On,” a song from the movie soundtrack and the group’s latest album, “Get the Picture.”

Cyber punk

Fans anticipating the arrival of Manchester, England’s legendary Buzzcocks at the 9:30 Club for a late-night concert Friday (Doors open at 10 p.m., according to the club’s Web site, www.930.com.) can find a wealth of information at the band’s official Web site (www.buzzcocks.com).

Chronicling the 25-year career of one of the defining bands of three-minute punk pop, the cyber pages feature plenty of historic, as well as current, photos of the group, plus a special media section for downloadables. Highlights include a live version of “Friends” and full-length, lo-fi MP3 cut of “Jerk” from the band’s latest, unnamed, studio album, on Merge Records (www.mergerecords.com); a QuickTime video clip of “I Believe,” shot in Paris; and the MP3 of “Choices,” from the band’s 2000 live album that once was available only on the Internet.

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 ([email protected]).

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