Network: Web Sites

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The Independent Culture
NT Online

http://www.nt-online.org/home.html

Curtains up on what is, astonishingly, the National Theatre's online debut. Lots happening here, but always with a purpose at this streamlined site, which copes well with presenting complex schedules for several different plays and venues. There are full credits and photos for current and forthcoming productions, each one with a talkback section for audience discussion. Critics' responses, however, are limited to the usual approving snippets; some sort of pressbook page might have been a bolder, if unlikely, move. Integrated with the National Theatre's in-house computer system, for ease of daily updating without special programming or staff, the site will soon include an online bookshop but not, alas, e-mail ticket ordering.

My Fare City

http://www.captivated.com/carson/

"Though I was born in the mornin', I wasn't born this morning," warns San Francisco cab driver Bud Carson, whose daily encounters are described here. A college dropout and survivor of long periods of what he calls "self-medication", Bud's dispatches offer a grittily optimistic, street- level view of the trade. Kickbacking, Dead Heading and Cracking the Nut are explained in a dictionary of cabby slang, and the logistics of the business are fascinating. Some of the darker encounters - and the neon blur of the title page - recall Scorsese, but the trouble is, so does Bud, constantly, in his narrative: "Wanting to save hookers from themselves wasn't in my job description. If I shave my head I may rethink my position." Some customer relationships are more redolent of Confessions of a Taxi Driver than Taxi Driver. Still an intriguing, if self-conscious, urban document.

The Wine Pages of Tom Cannavan

http://www.gla.ac.uk/tbc1b

This bibulous site offers tasting notes, restaurant reviews, a region- by-region guide and a quiz which will be personally marked and returned. The author teaches a wine appreciation course at Glasgow University, and is happy to share online both the secrets of his 600-bottle cellar and his favourite Tesco and Oddbins specials. The assessments are

imaginative - watch out for those cedary, pencil-shaving aromas in the 1992 Bahans de Chateau Haut-Brion, or the gorgeous animal nose of the Domaine Dujac, Echzeaux, Grand Cru 1989. Add some witty and perceptive essays ("Is Bordeaux Sexy?") and a vintage chart, and the result, while uncompromisingly textual, is a site with depth of flavour and a full-bodied, classy finish.

Worshiptogether

http://www.gospelcom.net/worshiptogether/

Songs with titles like "Did You feel The Mountains Tremble", "Listen to Our Hearts", and "Knocking on the Door of Heaven" (Redman, not Zimmerman) are available here at this EMI Christian Music site, for use in church services. Heavily featured are a UK group called Deliriou5?, in whose presence, according to the interview here, the wheelchair-bound have been known to rise up and walk. Modestly miraculous, too, is the Solero Music Viewer software by which the tunes are delivered: not only are they downloadable as sheet music, for a small fee, but played through on screen with each crochet and semiquaver briefly illuminated in turn.

Football 365

http://www.football365.com/

This new soccer webzine promises a personalised, daily fix for obsessives. In exchange for details of your favourite teams and regional ITV station, expect a regular tabloid-style dose of results, news, gossip and robust headlines. A Homeground section, about local clubs, will rely on visitor feedback and be the most heavily customised for the individual reader. There's the chance to win a World Cup computer game, and delivery options are via e-mail, Web or "a direct free kick to your doorstep". New registrations meet with a roar of approval from the online terraces.

Bill Pannifer

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