- The Washington Times - Friday, May 7, 2004

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

Web weather worries

As he did in “Independence Day,” director Roland Emmerich is set to once again demolish cities of the world on May 28 with the release of the ecological disaster flick, “The Day After Tomorrow.”

The movie posits that our heedlessness of the dangers of global warming will eventually bring Mother Nature’s wrath down upon us in the form of severe climate changes.

A Web site set up to promote fear and the film (www.thedayaftertomorrow.com) works hard to scare the thermal-lined pants off visitors as it melds levels of truth about man’s current coexistence with his environment and the film’s premise by interweaving real events, scientific opinions and movie footage about our unstable climate.

After viewing a counter letting everyone know how many days until “tidal waves engulf Manhattan,” visitors navigate a window-sliding command center to find the likes of text information on the film production, dozens of photographs to download as desktop screens or to e-mail to a friend, a daily bulletin board asking visitors five prophetic questions (e.g., What mystery would you like solved before it’s too late? ) and a news ticker reporting on hurricanes in Belfast and the Acropolis being turned into a ski lodge.

Features also include the Weather Gone Wild section offering such present-day facts on global warming as 2003 was the hottest summer on record in Europe, causing more than 20,000 deaths (sourced through a link to a New Scientist article), predictions that the world’s ice caps will completely disappear in the next 20 years (sourced to a 2001 Time.com interactive report) and suggestions on what humans can do to help prevent the supposed nightmare.

Additionally, a clever Global Watch database allows users to manipulate a spinning planet Earth to explore some of the largest storms in recent history via real and special effects-laden video clips and informative text.

If all the hype is true, I am moving to a bunker in Aniwa, Wis. If not, I may check out the biggest ode to Irwin Allen since “Deep Impact” and find a reality check through Penn and Teller’s Showtime series Web site (https://www.sho .com/site/ptbs/home.do). Fair warning: The site has a strongly worded name.

Energy Net

Mountain Dew’s hyperactive cousin, Amp, gives music lovers some cutting edge sounds from up-and-coming bands through its official Web site (www.ampenergy.com).

The energy drink sponsors talented bands by providing national exposure, radio play, tour support, distribution of their tunes and Web exposure through its Amp Music Circuit.

The site, using very fluorescent green pages, gives visitors three listening components to damage their eardrums.

The first, Amp Radio, features an online jukebox presentation to quickly hear cuts from 13 bands featured within other areas of the site.

Next, a Meet the Bands section offers tiny informational areas on 19 artists. Each area contains a short biography, photographs, a link to the band’s Web site and usually three complete, downloadable songs in the MP3, multimegabyte format (also listenable in Real Media and Windows Media).

Musical talent concentrates on punk and emo permutations delivered by such acts as Amityville, N.Y.’s Taking Back Sunday to Chicago’s EXO to Gainsville, Fla.’s Big Sky.

Finally, Amp offers 6-Packs, which are six-minute, 5-megabyte artistic segments (available in Windows Media Player, RealMedia and MP3 formats) created by 72 bands that combine interviews, introductions and more music.

Cyber Cloning

I have a feeling more humans will see the “Godsend” cyber stop (www.godsendinstitute.org) than the film itself thanks to its realistic presentation touting the extraordinary reproductive work of the film’s fictional Godsend Institute and its ability to replicate cells to re-create human life.

The site has created a bit of controversy, as some folks feel it takes deceptive advantage of parents who have lost a child — to the point of listing a phone number that when used asks callers to leave a message for the institute to set up an appointment. Others argue it continues to fuel the scientific debate on genetic engineering.

No matter, the site carries out the perfect deception and works as a strong marketing ploy, offering an example of how the Internet can cleverly get the word out on a motion picture.

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 (jszadkowski @washington times.com).

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