- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 22, 2006

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

Surf the VSpot

VH1, MTV Network’s music-video cable channel targeting viewers 25 and older, streams into cyberspace every day through multiple entry points on its Web site (www.vh1.com).

The site is anchored by a pop-up player, VSpot, that offers a juicy selection of music-video compilations and interviews along with a personalized playlist option to keep the song presentations rolling all day on a user’s computer.

Some recently available media included an Alternative Nation segment with complete videos of Translator’s “Everywhere That I’m Not,” the B-52s’ “Girl From Ipanema Goes to Greenland,” Civ’s “Can’t Wait One Minute More,” Bad Brains’ “Rise” and Depeche Mode’s “World in My Eyes.”

More specific entries offered 1984’s Hottest Videos with Van Halen’s “Jump,” Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and Madonna’s “Into the Groove.”

Also available is an exclusive interview with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart on the rebirth of his other band, Platinum Weird, a Box Set package of indie rock legend Soul Asylum and the first couple of episodes of VH1’s latest game show, “World Series of Pop Culture.”

Unfortunately, only PC owners can connect to all of the VSpot fun, which, although boasting real pop culture real fast, delivered a very spotty stream when I tried to watch on two different Windows XP computer systems through both a cable modem and T1 line connection.

Nevertheless, the VH1 site is chock-full of fun for those stymied by the VSpot.

Radio VH1 worked perfectly as it streamed through a stand-alone player with content from more than 50 stations featuring music genres such as Cover to Cover (cover tunes), Blast (Top 40), I Love the 80s, Garage Bands and Popcorn (movie music.)

Average gamers will revel in the well-stocked VH1 Online Arcade, loaded with a variety of free and pay-to-download challenges ranging from classics Joust and Defender to current releases such as Dinner Dash and Rampage: Total Destruction.

Additionally, seven original VH1 games are free to play, including the hilarious Escape the Paparazzi (side-scroll running and avoiding obstacles), the Pop Culture Challenge trivia quiz, a Sudoku remake and the Arcade Strikes Back, which delivers 1980s arcade games in 30-second bursts.

Monsters on the Net

Sony Pictures offered some computer-generated scares Friday with the release of the animated film “Monster House.”

The movie’s official Web site (www.sonypictures.com/movies/monsterhouse/site) perfectly complements the tale of a boy who must stop a hungry structure through a design that immediately takes visitors to a surveillance station in his bedroom, which overlooks the spooky house.

Notebooks, Polaroids, a monitor and a monster encyclopedia are strewn about the top of a desk that cleverly loads each section when visitors click on various items.

After a look at bios and video clips of all of the film’s strange characters (click on the notebook labeled Secret Stuff), a presentation by Skull on the legend of Donus Mactibilis (click on the encyclopedia) and a stop at the Costume Creator (click on the Halloween contest flier) to design color iron-ons of the characters dressed in costumes, a couple of challenges present themselves.

First, a classic game of Horse allows the player to assume the role of D.J. and challenge his pal Chowder. Shooters pick from five spots on the court and must stop a tiny, rapidly moving ball in cross hairs to get the basketball to drop into the hoop. Horse rules apply as a miss turns over control of the court to the opponent.

Next, the Mega-Sweet Arcade Game looks as if it were pulled right out of a late-1980s mall and has the player control a side-scrolling, ax-wielding barbarian on a quest to save a princess.

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 e-mail (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.washington times.com/familytimes/romper room.htm.

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