- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 19, 2005

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

A site named Sue

The life of Johnny Cash is highlighted in the biopic “Walk the Line.” The film’s official Web site (www.walkthelinethemovie.com) only scratches the surface of the legend’s career by offering a slick design and a few features to learn about the man and the movie.

Stark black-and-white imagery defines the site. Grainy photos of the movie’s star, Joaquin Phoenix, load while instrumentals of Mr. Cash’s music play in the background.

The site has three sections: An Insider’s Look (which holds “about-the-movie” info and a QuickTime high-definition look at the trailer); Red, White and Black (a timeline); and Cash Family Tree (the musician’s impact on the arts).

Red White and Black is the most educational as it provides a career moment from each of the 50 states and quotes from artists about Mr. Cash. A click on the Maryland entry reveals that on April 24, 2000, Mr. Cash was awarded the Library of Congress Living Legend medal in the District. Visitors also get the quote, “His music transcends category, trend and generation. He stands alone,” from artist Henry Rollins.

Cash Family Tree is most revealing as fans learn about links between the country and Western star and his fellow artists. For example, clicking on the branch Rock and Roll, visitors find 32 links, with one leading to Fiona Apple, who recorded “Bridge Over Troubled Water” with Mr. Cash.

New and old fans of the Man in Black will marvel at his official site (www.johnnycash.com), which acts as a wonderful virtual memorial stuffed with photos, footage and, most important, songs.

The singer’s voice welcomes visitors to his smoldering, leather-bound cyber-museum, covered with interactive collages. There are clever touches, such as being able to control the background music by clicking on a spinning 45 rpm record at the bottom of the screen.

Besides an interactive timeline covering the 1930s to Mr. Cash’s death in 2003, visitors also get some dynamite multimedia moments to enjoy from his fruitful career.

Most impressive is the Videos section, which presents from within a vintage television screen a total of 15 performances, interviews and TV appearances by Mr. Cash. Classics such as the singer with the Muppets as he belts out “Ghost Riders in the Sky” mix with the music video to “Hurt,” which is as emotional as it is hair-raising.

Next, the Audio section boasts a jukebox containing 19 complete songs, including “Ring of Fire,” “Man in Black,” “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Walk the Line” with even a volume knob to crank up the great tunes.

Overall, the site delivers a fantastic-looking and -sounding emotional insight into the journey of one of America’s most cherished and influential musicians.

Hogwarts’ cyber-domain

The latest movie about J.K. Rowling’s famed wizard, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” hit theaters on Friday, and Warner Bros.’ Web developers have gone beyond the call of duty to give fans a multitiered, magical cyber-companion to the blockbuster.

A stop by the movie’s official site (https://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/gobletoffire/index.html) reveals an animated fire-breathing dragon along with icons that when clicked upon introduce the latest characters, including the gossip columnist for the Daily Prophet, Rita Skeeter, and Beauxbatons Triwizard champion Fleur DeLacour.

Though I mention the Triwizards Tournament, a sporting event from the new movie, the site also branches off through links at the top of the page to minisites loaded with music, interactive visuals and activities.

The site’s Triwizards Challenges section leads the way, as visitors can play a trio of games — Grab the Golden Egg, Underwater Wizardry and the Enchanted Maze — that use side-scrolling action to introduce the Hungarian Horntail dragon, Merpeople and Gillyweed in timed action.

Another section is devoted to the new defense against the dark arts teacher, Mad-Eye Moody. It includes areas on his curriculum and a challenge that has visitors move a pair of Harry’s glasses around a game board to avoid Moody’s roaming eye.

Additionally, the Yule Ball minisite features the winter-themed party where Hogwarts students mingle with guests from other schools. The area provides a way to import a photo and have the visitor dress up for the event by clicking new clothes and accessories over the imported image.

Finally, a link to the original site (https://harrypotter.warnerbros.com) offers another 19 online games covering events from the first three movies.

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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