- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2003

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

Neo-bytes

Sci-Fi geeks who have fallen down a rabbit hole might want to know that the fervor for the Wachowski brothers’ 5-year-old film franchise “The Matrix” continues, thanks to a third movie hitting theaters Wednesday and the DVD version of the second film, “The Matrix Reloaded,” already available.

They also might want to stop by its overwhelming Web site (www.whatisthe matrix.com), which is a virtual shrine to Neo and his Zion brethren, with plenty of multimedia opportunities. Accessed by four sections through tiny video screens behind steel shuttle bay doors, content ranges from photos to video clips to screen savers to even a 98-megabyte download of the trailer to the latest cinematic effort.

However, the site goes deeper than the typical promotional pablum with the likes of 12 pieces written by scholars, professors and authors on the philosophies of “The Matrix,” five freely viewable and dazzling segments paying animated tribute to the series from the Animatrix DVD, and 10 songs from “The Matrix Reloaded” soundtrack featuring the work of P.O.D., Fluke and the Deftones.

Additionally, sequential-art lovers will appreciate the 26 stories told through the words, brushes and pencils of such famous comic-book folk as Paul Chadwick, Neil Gaiman, Bill Sienkiewicz and Tim Sale, while video-game types will find a variety of challenges to test their skills.

Anyone spending a few hours within the site will become entranced not only by its wealth of information but also its truly fanatical devotion to the world of “The Matrix.”

A megaload of WMUC

An eclectic mix of music has always been a staple of the college radio scene, and the University of Maryland’s WMUC-FM (88.1 on dial; www.wmucradio.com) maintains the tradition. The station’s Web site offers 40 megabyte MP3 downloads of its daily programming as well as a live feed of its shows via Real Player. One of its best efforts, “Third Rail Radio,” features live music from the strangest of bands almost every Sunday night between 6 and 9.

A recent archive under “Third Rail Radio” links offered concerts from Boston-based Roxie (www.roxietheband .com), the talents of local piano man Dave Kezer and some explosive pop from the Weezer-influenced Stupid Hero (www.stupidhero.net).

Upcoming shows include Baltimore punks the Squints (www.blocka.net/thesquints) Nov. 16 and the San Francisco organ-drum duo Mates of State (www.matesofstate.com) Nov. 18.

Surf this way

The seemingly nonstop tour of the classic rock team-up between Kiss (www.kiss online.com) and Aerosmith (www.aerosmith.com) returns to the MCI Center Nov. 20, and some visual and aural preparation for enjoying both bands can be found at their respective cyber-stops.

Aerosmith, under the Aeromedia area, offers a selection of poor-quality but great-sounding Windows Media video clips of the band’s last couple of tours, highlighted by snippets of “Back in the Saddle” and Joe Perry whipping his guitar, a complete version of “Dream On” performed by lead singer Steven Tyler at the 2003 Berklee School of Music’s commencement and a director’s cut of the video “Girls of Summer.”

Kiss presents the entire audio of its 1998 concert from Dodger Stadium under its site’s Audio section in an MP3 format with 24 songs to enjoy, including the hits “I Was Made for Loving You,” “Detroit Rock City,” “Beth” and “Rock N’ Roll All Night,” which are sure to be reprised at the MCI Center.

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, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message ([email protected]).

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