- The Washington Times - Friday, June 4, 2004

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

Cyber Steven

Any self-respecting music lover hooked on the garage-band sounds developed in the 1960s should be listening to the syndicated radio show “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” heard locally on WARW (94.7). Little Steven, one of the guitarists in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and resident wiseguy on “The Sopranos,” offers back-to-basics rock tunes every Sunday night, 10 p.m. to midnight.

The show’s complementary Web site (www.littlestevensundergroundgarage.com) captures the feel of his radio happening — loose, loud and colorful — with a variety of sections to indoctrinate and appease his listeners.

Before exploring, visitors should make sure their browsers are equipped with Macromedia’s Flash and Shockwave plug-ins and then immediately load up the site’s 1950s jukebox to listen to any of 105 shows highlighting full cuts of no fewer than 10 songs per session.

The commercial-free fun sounds great and features such songs as “Lust for Life” from Iggy Pop, the Rutles with “It Must Be Love,” Donovan’s “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Pictures of Lily” from the Who and “Hello” from Courtney Love. Each show also offers a text-based playlist with many of this year’s episodes, band links and links to purchase the albums.

With the jukebox blaring, visitors can get a dissertation on Little Steven’s definition of garage rock, a list of 40 essential garage-rock songs (of course, Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction” made the top 10), information on musician and actor Steven Van Zandt (with 60-second Real Audio cuts from some of his solo efforts) and a band calendar database to find gig dates for any group heard on “Underground Garage,” introduced by legendary disc jockey Murray the K.

Additionally, freaks, misfits and outcasts will dig the Family of Garage Tree, which presents multimegabyte pages of multimedia broadband blasts of rock and history, encompassing genres such as punk, surf, frat rock, psychedelic and the British Invasion. Highlights include a video of a live performance of the Ramones unleashing “Blitzkrieg Bop,” Jerry Lee Lewis performing “Great Balls of Fire” and a photo montage of guitarist Link Wray while his hit “Rumble” plays in the background.

Shrek surfing

“Shrek 2,” the sequel to the Academy Award-winning 2001 animated film, has captured the imaginations of movie audiences, and the Web site honoring William Steig’s famed green ogre is equally entertaining.

The official Shrek 2 cyber-stop (www.shrek2.com) takes fans on a multimedia quest through the kingdom of Far Far Away while mixing the film’s sense of the absurd with sophomoric antics and plenty of activities.

After being introduced to the talkative site guide, Pinocchio, visitors must make a set of travel papers by selecting from seven types of character attributes for a cartoony passport photo. Then a path must be chosen, the easy road or hard road, which ties directly into a scavenger hunt to find ingredients to complete a Happily Ever After Potion.

As visitors move through such locales as Ritzy Drive, the Poison Apple Pub, a castle and a forest by clicking on directional arrows, they will run across necessary ingredients, downloadable wallpapers, character biographies, art projects and some really silly games to pass the time.

Of these challenges, twisted humans will most appreciate Pinocchio’s Tree House Mix to cut a hip audio clip and a Battle of the Belch game, which allows a single player to unleash the gassiest of sounds as Shrek challenges his beloved Fiona to a multiple-round burp contest.

Once all the ingredients for the potion are collected, junior chemists must concoct the substance that will turn the donkey into a noble steed. With help from Fairy Godmother, they must drag items such as a fish head, boar’s antler and wishbone, in the correct order, into a deep fryer.

Those who correctly perform the task get a personalized certificate of achievement with the mug from their travel papers placed in a group shot of the animated characters.

The family-friendly site does a great job of providing plenty of reason to see the film and then take part in some of its attitude.

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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