(gorgeous. . .)
Life After Ren & Stimpy
Is the Web ready to become a showplace for avant-garde cartoons? Answer that question after you have a look at Spumco. When the much-admired animator John Kricfalusi lost control of his creations Ren & Stimpy to the corporate suits at Nickelodeon, he took his career into his own hands and is now using the Web as his method of distribution. October 15 brought the first complete episode of "The Goddamn George Liquor Show," and "Jimmy the Idiot Boy" isn't far behind. Built with Shockwave and complete with creepy soundtracks that sound as if they were lifted from 1950s hygiene movies, these are the kind of cartoons that appeal to anyone with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor. We mentioned Spumco in this space exactly a year ago, but we were premature. The quality of the cartoons have improved dramatically since then, and now is the time to visit.
Are computers for boys only? Does the Internet disenfranchise girls? While academics and intellectuals sit around and worry, the people behind Purple Moon have taken action. Their line of girl-oriented computer games is turning out to be a success, and the accompanying Web site gives you an idea of the kind of experience the games offer. In Rockett's World, preadolescent girls can wander the halls of Whispering Pines Junior High meeting lots of different girls and finding one or more with whom to identify. Unlike games for boys, which seem to stress twitchy, shoot-'em-up scenarios, Purple Moon's Web and CD-ROM games are more immersive, role-playing events. If you've got a preteen daughter, have her take a look and see what she thinks.
The Departure Lounge
As Halloween approaches, our thoughts naturally turn to gruesome, bloody death. When our imaginations need firing up, we turn to Aint No Way to Go, a compendium of stories describing deaths of the outrageous, bizarre, and unbelievable kind. Though this site is not for the faint of heart, it provides a fascinating look at the macabre. Culled from news reports and history books, the stories are arranged into 10 chapters with intriguing titles, such as "Shouldn't Happen to a Dog" (how to ride a donkey to death). What's interesting here is the historical perspective; archival articles are included, so you can read the original New York Times report of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, for example. Ghoulies and goblins clutching trick-or-treat bags will be haunting your neighborhood soon. This is the place to find a really good story to tell them when they ring your doorbell.
( . . . gruesome)
Flies Not Included
Web experts say that online shopping is continuing to grow rapidly. We'll be buying upward of $7 billion of merchandise on the Web by 2000. And what exactly will we be buying? Would you believe Horse Turds in a Box? Yep. Horse turds in a box. That's right. Two pounds for $20; 4 pounds for $25. "Shipped in a sealed plastic bag for protection, Priority delivery so they arrive fresh!" And, yes, there's a picture of the factory. Actually, there are three factories: a gray one, a black one, and a palomino. Links to an organic gardening site suggest at least one use for this valuable gift, but please don't send us any. If you're going to spend $10 a pound on us, send chocolate or parmesan cheese instead.
The problem with Men Who Like to Keep Women Trapped in a Pit is that it is just plain bad satire. The site jokingly promotes the highly misogynistic practice of kidnapping women and keeping them trapped in a pit (a la "Silence of the Lambs"). Whether you find this subject worthy of satire or not, its creators are so scared of offending us that they fully declaw the humor with countless warnings and reminders that what you're about to see is all a big joke. By the time you reach anything resembling satire, you feel so guilty and dirty that there's really no point in going on. Helpful hint to Web satirists: Have the courage to let your satire stand on its own. We'll either like it or find it offensive. We don't need to be warned.