- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 24, 2005

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

Cyber Sounds of Strathmore

Montgomery County’s multidisciplinary arts center, Strathmore, gives visitors to its Web site (www.strathmore.org) a taste of its eclectic concerts through a new series of podcasts.

Anyone with an MP3-friendly device with an Internet-connected computer can sign up for the bimonthly audio broadcasts or immediately download the latest file — after promising never to redistribute the content.

Each podcast, hosted by Mac Campbell, runs about 35 minutes and introduces audiences to up-and-coming local and national artists coming to the Mansion and Music Center at Strathmore.

The lineup for November/December includes full tracks from singer-songwriter John Jennings, classical pianist William Chapman Nyaho, the Mighty Sparrow, the D.C. a cappella group Tonic & Gin, Cantate Chamber Singers, soprano Millicent Scarlett, the Manhattan Rhythm Kings and the gospel group Reverb.

For its January/February broadcast, listeners can expect tunes from the Derek Trucks Band, Bowfire, Chatham Baroque, jazz harmonica player Frederic Yonnet and Buckwheat Zydeco.

Eighth Wonder on the Net

Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” has packed theaters, and a couple of Web sites devoted to the misunderstood ape should continue to fuel Kongmania into the new year.

First, the official “King Kong” movie site (www.kingkong.net) visually pounds visitors with ferocious sound effects, music and active screens melding film moments with animated introductions, but it offers only a bit of extra content that extends beyond the standard “about the production” fodder.

Of particular interest is the Special Features section, which highlights 13 creatures from Skull Island in multiple color images and pseudoscientific explanations.

The section also contains an abbreviated chronology of historical and legendary places such as Troy, Atlantis, Pompeii and, of course, Skull Island, and an introduction to the human natives who live with Kong.

Next, the folks who developed TheOneRing.net (www.theonering.net) — hard-core fans of J.R.R. Tolkien, Mr. Jackson and his work on the “Lord of the Rings” movies — have delivered KongisKing.net (www.kongisking.net). It’s a cyber-stop where visitors will find an amazing assortment of resources to enjoy all versions of “Kong” and tidbits about the current movie.

Besides a history of the hairy character, examples of fan art, live chat rooms, message boards and plenty of pictures, the jewel of the site is a set of post-production video diaries created by Mr. Jackson and his staff.

Quickly downloadable via the BitTorrent file-sharing system (https://bittorrent.com), the QuickTime snippets include Mr. Jackson talking to Bob Burns (who owns the original stop-animation skeleton of Kong), actor Andy Serkis finishing up his motion-capture movements as Kong and moments with a lively computer animation crew.

Earlier this year, the site also featured production diaries, but they were removed to sell as a DVD set (“King Kong: Peter Jackson’s Production Diaries” from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $39.99). Because I have no idea how long the post-production set will stay online, I suggest getting to the site ASAP to enjoy the minutia involved with completing a big-budget major motion picture.

The Lonely Island

Looking for an uncensored chuckle? Try a cyber-stop developed by three current “Saturday Night Live” cast members who use downloadable video to share their bizarre sense of humor with the masses while creating an online resume for casting directors.

Started in 2001 by friends Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, the Lonely Island (https://thelonelyisland.com) features a mature-rated mix of musical parodies, short films and failed pilots available in the MPEG-4, MPEG-1, QuickTime and MP3 formats.

The Dudes — their official group moniker — excel at sketch comedy, as witnessed in the brutally on-target eight-episode homage to Fox’s wealthy-teen drama “The O.C.,” retitled “The Bu.”

Other funny business includes the Nintendo Cartoon Hour, which mixes multiple genres of video-game graphics into a tragic story of escape, an Ignition TV video music countdown mocking today’s sexually explicit musical content, and the never-aired television-show episodes of “Awesometown,” “Regarding Ardy” and “White Power.”

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 (jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site, where he reviews educational software and family friendly video games. Check it out at www.washingtontimes.com/family times/romperroom.

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