- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 17, 2005

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

BMI on the Web

Copyright protector to more than 300,000 songwriters, composers and publishers, BMI has a cyber-stop (www.bmi.com) that will appeal to most online music lovers, even those plugged into the latest listening trends.

The front page leads to the Musicworld section, which overloads peepers with text biographies of 900 bands and artists. Each page links to Amazon.com, where visitors can hear snippets of songs and, of course, purchase music.

However, BMI’s site really succeeds through its Video section, delivering an incredible selection of segments, including 600 interviews and more than 100 performances.

After visitors pick a download speed and choose between Real Player or QuickTime delivery, they are privy to audiovisual nuggets such as coverage of the 2004 BMI Country Awards and Brian Wilson at the 2004 Pop Awards. The latter clip includes an interview with Mr. Wilson and a performance with his harmonious offspring in Wilson Phillips, which got back together to perform a version of the Beach Boys’ classic “In My Room.”

Interviews range from Chuck Berry discussing his simple writing process and the Kinks’ Ray Davies on receiving awards to ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons talking about the importance of respecting music legends.

Performance videos highlight veterans such as Rosanne Cash, John Doe and Al Green while mixing in mayhem from lesser-known acts, including Dallas’ Jibe, the United Kingdom’s Happylife and Portland, Ore.’s Helio Sequence.

To beef up its sound-delivery potential, BMI recently added a monthly Podcast to offer another way of exposing emerging BMI artists to industry bigwigs and, more important, fans.

Called “See It Hear First,” the broadcasts, averaging 17 minutes each, come in an MP3 format and can be accessed via a subscription. The subscription can be downloaded automatically to popular portable audio players, such as Apple’s IPod, or can be enjoyed right from the Web site.

Each show accessed via the Web offers the option of hearing the full Podcast or just listening to song tracks presenting a variety of musical genres.

The fourth and most recent edition of “See It Hear First” includes songs and Casey Kasem-like narrated bios on current CMJ Showcase acts King Elementary, Nightmare of You, the Novaks, the Royal Highness and Captain.

Previous shows are archived for the listeners at Apple’s ITunes Web site (www.itunes.com) and at the bottom of the main Podcast page (music.bmi.com/podcast).

The archived programs lead to more great tunes from up-and-coming stars such as the obviously Iggy Pop- and Siouxsie Sioux-influenced Plebz and the female punk trio the Ettes and an interview with Capitol Records recording artist Brendan James.

Cyber Sudoku

A popular puzzle game has arrived for the masses in a free online destination that will test visitors’ brainpower. Number Logic (www.number-logic.com) delivers the decades-old challenge of Sudoku, a numerical crossword requiring players to fill in rows, columns and 3-by-3 gridded boxes with the numbers 1 through 9.

Developed by college undergrad and lifelong Baltimore resident John Reusing, who wants to bring the addictive puzzles to American audiences, the site has been around since June. Through more than 80 boards, it easily acclimates players to the world of reason and relationships.

Visitors can generate a random puzzle by clicking on the difficulty levels of Easy, Medium, Hard and Impossible, which leads to an 81-cell game grid. The player can type a number into each open cell and is able to alternate between temporary and final answer modes. Not repeating numbers in a row, column or box leads to success.

Those who need help can use the “validate” button to see which numbers are in correct order, and those who solve the puzzle can submit it to receive winning time.

Players even can e-mail a puzzle to a friend or print out puzzles for later use away from the computer.

Upcoming additions to the site include a profile option that will let players time puzzles and track which have been completed; and a two-player competitive mode.

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 e-mail (jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com).

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