- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 11, 2006

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

Super cyber-Grass

New fans of the British pop group Supergrass, which will perform at the 9:30 Club tonight, can find a dynamic Web experience and catchy tunes at the band’s official Web portal (www.supergrass.com). Guitarist and lead singer Gaz Coombes, keyboardist Rob Coombes, drummer Danny Goffey and bassist Mick Quinn have given their fans an amalgam of multimedia and virtual interactivity.

Dedicated to Douglas Adams, creator of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the opening page’s animations and pithy tongue-in-cheek and pop-culture references, lists and comments stream across the on-screen universe. At least three configurations of the site — depending on random loads — provide a gateway to several sites dedicated to Supergrass.

To enter the various microsites, depending on which opening loads, visitors click on four buildings jutting out from Earth, a quartet of satellites circling the planet or four tanks positioned on opposite sides of the world. (Gamers can shoot at and destroy the tanks, which shuts down access to the sites.)

For example, entering the microsite supporting the band’s latest album, “Road to Rouen,” leads to a deserted highway where a vehicle occasionally zooms by, creating a colorful light trail. Within the sections of the microsite (www.roadtorouen.com), visitors will find a radio, and they and can use its volume and tuner knobs to hear nine full tracks from the album.

Or they can click on Fin, St. Petersburg and Low C, which correspond to album tracks, to watch music videos of the songs and even play a zither, learn some Russian and solve a mermaid puzzle. Clicking on Foos presents a video of the drummer from the Foo Fighters performing Supergrass’ “Caught by the Fuzz.”

A stop by the Children of the Monkey Basket microsite (www.childrenofthe monkeybasket.com), the cyber-headquarters of Supergrass, provides another load of multimedia fun. Besides a photo diary of life on the road, three music videos and a transistor radio to hear more music, I dug SGTV, which allows visitors to control a Willy Wonka-style television set with five channels that play a montage of images set to demo tracks from the album “Life on Other Planets.”

Fans find access to yet another microsite, dedicated to the band’s DVD/CD release “Supergrass Is 10: The Best of 1994 to 2004,” which offers ring tones, snippets of songs, videos and a wallpaper illustration of Batman and Robin painted by popular comic-book artist Alex Ross (https://supergrass.densitron.net/10/).

Also from the opening page, links lead to the Strange Ones microsite (www.secretworldofdave.btinternet.co.uk/supergrass), the definitive Supergrass fan site created by Dave Wilcox; and Supergrass R Us (www.supergrass rus.com), an online store from which to order conspicuous consumables dedicated to the group, including shirts, mirrors, books, music and posters.

Deer on the Info Highway

The sequel to Disney’s legendary cartoon “Bambi” hit stores as a double-disc DVD release this week, and the official “Bambi II” Web site (https://disney.go. com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/bambi2/index_flash.html) extends the animated excitement with a selection of interactive activities.

Most relevant to this time of the year is a group of valentines for youngsters to output to a color printer and deliver to a special friend or loved one. Other printables include a coloring page, maze and mobiles.

The side-scrolling Conquer the Forest challenge is the best part of the site and has the player control Bambi as he jumps through beautifully illustrated environments while collecting butterflies and flowers.

A link to the original “Bambi” DVD site (https://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/ animatedfilms/bambi/home.html) leads to the Virtual Forest, a mildly educational ecological simulation that enables a player to add elements such as trees, waterfalls, mountains, snow and animals to three levels of a scene and watch it come to life — even the weather changes. The scene then is reviewed, and tips are provided to make the environment better suited to the coexistence of wildlife and foliage.

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 ([email protected]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/familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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