- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 17, 2006

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

FAB STREAMS

This year’s Webby Award-winner for best music Web site gives visitors more than 500 exclusive

reasons to enter cy-berspace. Fabchannel.com (www.fabchannel.com) boasts the biggest online concert-video archive in the world, with performances shot at Paradiso and Melkweg, live music clubs in Amsterdam.

Since its first streaming Webcast in 2000, the site has put together a diverse lineup of acts representing nearly 30 countries, including Australia, Bulgaria, Cuba, Morocco, Turkey and Tanzania.

Visitors need a Flash-enabled browser to enjoy the multimedia experience. A robust navigation menu helps visitors find a band to watch, and searches can be honed by musical genre, venue, country and most-watched performances. Once a band is selected, the entry reveals a list of songs to enjoy and a short biography of the group.

Once a track is chosen, it appears in a generously sized video window nearly 4 inches wide, and it can be enlarged to fill the browser’s screen.

Musical acts range from the less-known operatic metal sounds of the Finnish band Nightwish and hip-hop delivered by the puppets of the German group Puppetmastaz, to better-known acts such as Simple Minds, the Presidents of the USA, Echo and the Bunnymen, Stereophonics, and the Wedding Present.

In addition to on-demand concerts, the site presents live broadcasts, with the bands Cool Jimmy, Blaxtar and Kitty Contana scheduled to appear near the end of the month.

A few more of Fabchannel.com’s slick features include the currently selected performance, which plays in the corner of the screen while the viewer looks for another concert to watch, a map that highlights the site’s current audience and each visitor’s country of origin (designated by sonar blips on areas of a map) and a front page of archived band icons that come to streamed life via a short performance clip that plays when the visitor moves the cursor over each.

Nacho Net

Versatile actor Jack Black moonlights as a “luchador” and enters the world of professional Mexican wrestling in the comedy “Nacho Libre,” which has just hit theaters.

He also has spent plenty of his time with the film’s official Web site (www.nacholibre.com), which chronicles his adventures behind the scenes and on-screen through a silly multimedia experience.

Lines and sound effects from the movie are heard, and large color photographs of the beer-bellied Mr. Black paint the pages. Sections open when a select set of images residing on the right side of the screen are clicked.

A stop by Video, found through the image of Nacho’s partner, Esqueleto, provides 19 episodes of on-the-set shenanigans called the Jack Black Confessionals. They include video of the actor as he gets waxed, uses licorice root to help quit smoking, remarks about his bathroom habits and talks about eating a grasshopper.

A click on Mr. Black dressed in his wrestling outfit leads to a Fun Features section. Visitors can learn their luchador name and signature move after they answer a few questions. (I am called El Leon Encerado.)

Visitors also can create a Heroic Lucha Card with images from the movie and personalize the masterpiece to develop a two-sided trading card packed with information that can be e-mailed to a friend.

Video gamers will want to click on the image of the gold-masked Luchador Ramses to appreciate a round of Nacho Kung-Fu. The side-scrolling fight game has the player use the keyboard’s directional arrows to move and the numeric pad to execute attacks such as flips, uppercuts and sleeper holds.

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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