- The Washington Times - Friday, August 27, 2004

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

Sky Captain online

Paramount Pictures has gone above and into the great blue beyond with its promotional effort for the film “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.” Before seeing the science-fiction aeronautical movie starring Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie on Sept. 17, visitors to the official site (www.skycaptain .com) can virtually take part through the Flying Legion Air Combat Challenge.

This free, gorgeously rendered, downloadable game puts players in the cockpit of their own customizable P-40 War-hawk as a member of aviator Joseph Sullivan’s Flying Legion.

Players owning newer computers must first download almost 50 megabytes worth of game software compatible with either a Pentium 4 (1.2 GHz or higher) PC loaded with Windows ME, 2000 or XP operating systems or a G4 Macintosh loaded with the OSX 10.3 operating system (both requiring a 3D accelerator card) before beginning the fun. They must also register with the Web site to activate the action.

Once started, the game offers four missions through a third-person perspective involving flying around environments and shooting at things until they blow up.

The mini-adventures range from navigating through a 1930s New York City in pursuit of giant robots to attacking massive air fortresses to piloting a submersible plane to pulverize mechanized crabs.

This kind of full access to a higher-end gaming experience may be a first for the movie industry and illustrates again the accelerating convergence of entertainment media.

Cyber Fields

What would happen if you crossed the Beatles with Metallica?

One possible answer is the super group Beatallica (www.beatallica.org), a hilariously subversive tribute to the music of the Liverpool lads as it might be performed by the current masters of metal.

The hybrid was created by a pair of talented Midwestern punks code-named Kirk and Jaymz who offer all of their parodical musical gems for free via either an MP3 download or the file-sharing software Torrent (https://bitconjurer .org/BitTorrent/).

Finely cultured listeners stopping by the site can enjoy cuts from either the group’s 2001 album “A Garage Dayz Nite” or the current, self-titled “Beatallica.” First-album classics such as “Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Pub Band” and the wordy though wickedly creative “Everybody’s Got a Ticket to Ride Except for Me and My Lightning” combined skilled musicianship with belly laughs.

No less successful are cuts from the latest album such as “I Want to Choke Your Band” and “Hey Dude.”

The site also bathes visitors in the mythic musical group’s mystique with a list of all lyrics, fan art that turns Beatles albums into Metallica masterpieces (“Fight Fire With Revolver” and “Evil Submarine,” to name a couple) and a bulletin board loaded with messages to feed the faux frenzy.

Head banging the Net

While still in the ear-crunching mood, I found solid gold hits mixing it up under the metal banner from the Whitinsville, Mass.-based Internet listening station Stickman Radio (www. stickmanradio.com). Head bangers can get a steady, headache-inducing diet of hits ranging from Kiss’ “The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away” to Dio’s “Double Monday” to Cinderella’s “Somebody Save Me.”

High-band and low-band connection options exist for listeners who can use the Winamp Player, Windows Media or RealPlayer plug-ins to hear the high-decibel musical destruction.

Weekly programming boasts over 6,000 nuggets from the 1980s and 1990s hard rock and heavy metal eras and includes shows such as “The Classic Metal Show,” “Sunday Night Hairball,” “Xtreme Carnage” and “Live Concert Fridays.”

On a nostalgic note, just as I fired up the ole RealPlayer and turned up my PC’s volume, “Sacrifice” from “Facing the Animal” by Yngwie Malmsteen was in midstream, and the soothing lyric “I tear my heart out and serve it to you on a plate” reminded me of just how poetic those metal masters once were.

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] washingtontimes.com).

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