The return of this still-unclassifiable mix of fiction, random clips and multimedia doodling comes courtesy of Zap.com, a group that specialises in buying up dormant sites and also invests heavily in something called called "marine protein". Nourishing fare in the comeback issue includes an on-the-job interview with a cockroach exterminator, some Web radio parodies and Internet art, and texts by Hanif Kureishi and others. A new section allows visitors to create, pixel by pixel, their own images on selected topics such as Pets, Mom and Lust. started in 1995, and re-emerges after a year's hiatus insisting that it has not sold out in its subversive and "id-centred" pop-cultural mission. The editor invokes Julia Kristeva and Ally Sheedy, and insists on the site's distance from conventional 'zines such as Salon and Slate. "We're more for smart people who were on drugs or otherwise dysfunctional when they were in school."
Death - an inquiry into Man's mortal weakness
Mortality - The Website could be the title of this Dutch-Australian-US entry in the Thinkquest Web-design contest. "It was an interesting topic, seeing as how we would all eventually fall victim to it", explain the 17-year-old designers. The intent is to demystify and educate, without being too po-faced. So taboo-breaking strategies include a Death Glossary, a video of a school play about suicide, and the chance to write a computer- assisted villanelle on the subject. A quiz game takes the form of a battle between an invasive virus and the body's immune system, and the Death Penalty section fills us in on some unlikely capital offences - in ancient Egypt, injuring a cat would get you the chop. Looming over it all is a Life Expectancy Calculator, based on personal input about lifestyle and location, and pretty parsimonious it is, too. Something wrong with the Java here, surely, though it must be more depressing for smokers living in Afghanistan.
Up My Street
You have pounds 450,000 to spend. Do you buy a semi-detached in Fulham, or 10 of the same in Swansea? There are many online property sites, but this one is unique, offering house price statistics for different areas of the country compared with the national average, and correlating them with other data such as school performance and crime figures. You can search by postcode or town name, or by clicking on a map, and find statistical answers to that all-important question: "Is it a nice area?" A Did You Know section contains interesting property facts but veers off into discussion of the aquatic behaviour of armadillos, which reminds us the this is a show-off page for a Web consultancy. The idea is to demonstrate "the value of aggregated information in the online world". But do we want estate agents raising prices still further on the basis of ambulance response times?
Glasgow Film Office
Part of Glasgow's new, US-style film production facility, this site offers a Web tour of Hollywood-upon-Clyde and includes a map with 360-degree panoramas of likely location spots. Much inter-city rivalry here: Trainspotting's drug den interiors, the site is quick to point out, were shot in Glasgow not Edinburgh, and there is an impressive list of other locally shot flicks, including Shallow Grave and the forthcoming Gregory's Two Girls. Ken Loach and others are here on video discussing the virtues of the city for filming, and there are details of the new charter committing police and emergency services to offer full support to film-makers. Considerately, there is even a parental advisory page warning about strong language in the film clips, plus a geography lesson for overseas visitors: "Glasgow is in Scotland which is a COUNTRY north of France, not a suburb of London."
The highlight of these pages for the London-based brewery is a virtual tour of the Old Bank of England pub. This cleverly simulates the urban drinking experience, particularly that of waiting and waiting to get served, in this case with a pint of Shockwave, please. Once the panorama has downloaded, visitors can drop in through the front door and explore the opulent interior, pausing to admire the wall murals before returning, perhaps somewhat tipsily, depending on their cursor control. A brewery tour is more prosaic but elucidates the mysteries of Grist, Wort, Liquor and Mash Tun as well as adding some fascinating detail: the excess yeast produced in the creation of London Pride, Chiswick Bitter and the rest often finds its way into the humble jar of Marmite.
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