- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 22, 2005

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

BuyCostumes.com

In an ambitious marketing move, the online costume retailer BuyCostumes.com (www.buy costumes.com) has been streaming a talk-show-style television show on the Web since August to give gals and ghouls a definitive source for Halloween fashion ideas.

Visitors will need either the Microsoft Windows (98 Second Edition, NT, 2000, ME or XP) or Apple OS X operating system, Microsoft Windows Media Player 6.4 or later, a current browser and Macromedia Flash Player 5 or later to enjoy more than three hours of programming that rotates 24 hours a day.

The show, BuyCostumes.TV (www.buycostumes.tv) resembles a fashion show that might be seen on a late-night QVC session. It’s hosted by Teri and Jennifer, both career women and mothers. They interact during segments on costumes sold by the New Berlin, Wis.-based company, categorized into groups such as blockbuster movies, humor, superheroes and plus sizes.

One of the better segments has a professional makeup artist stop by and, in a hands-on demonstration, explain how to turn mortals into some scary creatures — with help of some of BuyCostumes.com appliances.

The hosts never offer a hard sell as the models strut down the catwalk. Instead, they clearly explain what comes with the costumes and what must be purchased separately and also give tips for additional accessories.

Viewers watch a two-panel presentation with the program playing on an upper screen. The bottom panel acts as an interactive retail tool that showcases the current costumes and accessories shown on the upper screen along with a description of that item and its price.

Way too conveniently, viewers can click on a featured item, and a pop-up box takes them to the costume at the BuyCostumes.com main Web site for quick purchase.

Gaming cyber-stop

The online video-game multimedia preview broadcaster GameTrailers.com (www.gametrailers.com) has given players another free way to get the latest news on their favorite entertainment medium with GT.TV (www.gt.tv), a weekly interactive program — if they have the time to waste.

Each Thursday, visitors can stop by the site to view a new nine-minute streaming program hosted by gaming girl and former MTV Canada star Amanda MacKay. She introduces segments ranging from a look at the new Xbox 360 console; to an interview with Marty Stratton, director of business development for Id Software; to a five-minute, 136-megabyte review of Mario Superstar Baseball.

The professional-looking program acts as a gateway to extended segments on the weekly topics covered (found under a menu bar on the right side of the show). An archive of files found under the sections Reviews, Previews, Events and Interviews, and Features offers an organized way to see an incredible selection of programming.

Gamers looking for immediate satisfaction will be in for a major disappointment, however, as the streaming is more of a stop, stutter and go affair — even with a T1 broadband connection and up-to-date QuickTime, Windows Media Player and Flash Player plug-ins in place.

I found manually downloading files (some as big as 86 megabytes) and stepping away from my computer for at least 15 minutes the easiest way to view any of the programming.

Additionally, the astounding amount of pop-up, rotating and headache-inducing advertising will test aggravation levels as viewers decide how much free content is worth the bombardment.

Mother Goose

Parents looking for a chuckle will appreciate Boffomedia Inc.’s mockery of the pop-music scene as it introduces youngsters to some famous nursery rhymes, parodied to perfection.

The Mother Goose Rocks! Web site (www.mothergooserocks.com) exists to promote a series of CDs and DVDs loaded with children’s songs — but a few free extras can be found for visitors wishing first to check out some amusing animation and melodies.

A colorful front page leads to the multimedia section Cartoons, which contains four funny music videos. “Mad Donna” drives children around the world as she sings “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Ohmya Twang” stops by a farm for “Three Blind Mice” (which sounds like Shania Twain singing “That Don’t Impress Me Much”) and “Share” belts out “Old Woman in a Shoe” to the melody of “If You Believe” wearing various hairstyles.

Under the Music tab, visitors will find a jukebox offering 17 complete songs such as “Hickory Dickory Dock” by “Cherry Seltzer Review” and a wicked version of “Little Miss Muffet” from “Lana Moreisless.” A quartet of free MP3s also is available to download into a hand-held player.

Additionally, visitors can make personalized music videos to “Humpty Dumpty” and “Three Blind Mice” as they mix 14 animated clips over songs.

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]washington times.com).

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