Websites: ferryhalim; haroldsplanet and others
10 best sites of the week
An absolutely beautiful Flash games site, with more than 20 games, which, though straightforward and familiar in concept, are rendered in such soft strokes that the joy in playing them comes from the appreciation of the highly-original artwork and music. Personal faves include "Among the Clouds", where a wayward balloonist needs guidance, and a happy twist on shoot-'em-up, as you freeze a stream of ozone-fearing penguins.
From the sublime to the ridiculous, and, when you need a dose of craziness, Harold's Planet is the place to be. Very strange noises are emitted by the inhabitants of this mad world, the Grisbiums, whose principal activities seem to be determining who is the "Fart Balance Champion", lying around in bath tubs watching the stars, and, of course, flying the Umfalala. Inspired nuttiness.
An original Shockwave interface, combined with ethereal music, makes for a welcoming introduction to Erik Loyer's "Chroma" site, which follows the continuing saga begun in his earlier "Lair of the Marrow Monkey". Interweaving haunting words, animation, voices and music, the discovery of a "natural cyberspace" by the central characters leads them, and you, on a journey into the metaphysical net, beyond the world of forms.
Though uber-satirist Christopher Morris tends to stick to the traditional mass media to get across his message of the perils of mass media intoxification, he's got a couple of bits and pieces on the web that are worth checking out. His hilarious London bar guide features "dot.thought", where tabletop downloads give you "selectoids of mind-popping netmulch" and "Mimamimamamamimi", a converted 13-floor lamppost, serving a selection of "synapsidical electric meso".
An educational site, making good use of multimedia, ballgame.org will interest big and little kids alike. After first finding out about the background of the Mesoamericans, through navigable maps and images, visitors can discover more about their 3,500-year-old ball game and take a Quicktime walkaround of an ancient court, watch a video recreation of the game being played, and uncover its underlying ritual significance.
Bleepfest! Old computer enthusiasts create downloadable tiny, and tinny, tunes using ancient machines. Marvel at the suprasonic ramblings of lo-fi ravers, who conjure danceable tracks from the most minimal of tonal ranges and beat selections. Some 3,000 users form this niche community, who, despite the seeming silliness they deal in, are actually involved in the sort of close-knit, technical community that readily springs up on the net.
If you can get past the unusual name, the Flash grid games available at jailbitch.com are as humourously pointless as they are pleasingly designed. "Lame easter egg" is not so lame, as you try and guide a bouncing ball into a goal by planting wedge-shaped barriers in its way. Other games, like "Zelda" and "Theseus" are gloriously, deliberately obtuse, crazy oases in a desert of sense.
Mammoth flora encyclopaedia, with handily cross-referenced entries to allow the homegrowing enthusiast to develop those green fingers. Either search the database by plant name or type, or set the search parameters to reflect conditions of the room you want to grow plants in, and check over the planting possibilities. Each of the 1,300 entries has guidelines, which, inevitably, makes the site, blooming marvellous!
Fed up because there's nothing to do? Whatsonwhen.com hopes to solve that problem for you, by keeping a diary of upcoming stuff going on around the globe. After a visit to their clean, clear site, you'll now know that, sadly, you've just missed the Phuket Vegetarian Festival, but, happily, the "Salon du Chocolat" in France, kicks off on Thursday. A one-stop, kick-start site for the terminally bored.
Experimental, with the emphasis on the "mental", sound-and-image confections, combining scribbly interfaces and electronic scratchings, this site aims to panic even the most seasoned seeker of extreme audio-visual diversions. Toss arrows around in "Happy Randrums" to make a pleasing racket or tweak squeaking columns in the "Randomiso" to annoy the neighbours.
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