Saturday, April 8, 2006

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

Cyber-tuning in the toons

Mature television viewers not familiar with a talking french-fry container wearing a beard, a superhero lawyer with wings and a hillbilly squid need not continue reading about the online happenings of Turner Broadcasting System’s bizarre channel that shares cable space with Cartoon Network.

However, those interested in a twisted brand of edgy, animated comedy will appreciate knowing that a free selection of Adult Swim programming is available every week on the network’s official Web site (

Seven episodes culled from Adult Swim stalwarts such as “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Sealab 2021,” “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law” and “Robot Chicken” are selected by the programming staff each week and appear in a Windows Media Player box under the Adult Swim Fix section of the cyber-stop.

The cartoon shenanigans are a quick and smooth load, with an option to fill an entire computer screen with Adult Swim’s irreverent brand of sometimes sophomoric, sometimes raunchy, sometimes cynically inciteful craziness.

By the way, the site also offers quite the hip multimedia destination through plenty of animated clips, downloads, behind-the-scenes footage, an employee blog and a very generous Games section boasting 27 time-consuming challenges.

One of my favorites is Squidbillies’ Floor It! involving a player using a car to run into and launch Rusty the squid into the air, causing as much exploding devastation as possible when he bounces and hits targets on the ground. In the twisted tradition of the show, once Rusty comes to a stop, he is attacked by a pack of wild dogs.

Another features the anime show “InuYasha” and a Demon Tournament in which the player selects from eight characters and uses a trio of virtual trading cards to attack and defeat an opponent. Successful combatants unlock pieces of the Shikon Jewel and more cards to challenge enemies in the five-round tournament.

I also enjoyed Idea Volleyball, a surreal sport based on “Tom Goes to the Mayor,” in which the player controls Tom Peters as he bounces idea bubbles off of his head and at Jefferton town’s eccentric mayor, who returns the favor. A desk divides the court, which is set up in an office, and opponents sit on chairs that can be adjusted for spiking the ideas back and forth.

Fast-food filmmaking

Boston Market has set up a slick Web site ( for its Internet video contest called My Extra Hour, which tasks family-friendly directors with creating a 60-second digital masterpiece based on what they would do with an extra 60 minutes.

Visitors to the site maneuver through a nostalgic room that looks as if it were plucked from the days when Super 8 filmmaking and the Macintosh computer reigned supreme. Clicking on items on shelves and a desk leads to very visual sections.

By following a gloved hand and clicking on objects, visitors will find PDFs on how to make a home movie, downloadable music mixes (which must be used in the film) and film canisters that open to reveal current entries appearing on a screen in the center of the room.

Some of the films include a vignette of stop-animated glasses dancing to a country and Western soundtrack, a couple of guys screaming into cell phones and a cute baby — a staple of many home movies.

Judges critiquing the films include a former preservation officer at George Eastman House, Chad Hunter. He is considered a home-movie expert for his work with the Center for Home Movies (www.centerforhome, a nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting, preserving and encouraging the work of amateur motion picture auteurs.

Filmmakers have until May 28 to submit work in the Windows Media, Avi, MPEG, QuickTime and MPEG-4 formats. The video must not be larger than 25 megabytes and must incorporate a 20-ounce cup bearing the Homemade Movie Contest logo into the action. The grand-prize winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Hollywood, including round-trip airfare and three nights at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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 (jszadkowski@washington 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

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