Tuesday 04 March 1997
A wistful-looking hound of impeccable pedigree oversees this site for the dog show, starting this week at the Birmingham NEC. Details here of the new competition, Heelwork to Music - listed here as "Crufts Meets Come Dancing", and of the Blairite-sounding Good Citizen Dog Scheme, not to mention a sponsored walk for dogs - pooper scooper essential - called Wet Nose Walkies. If all of this seems a little undignified for a canine institution dating back to 1891, there are also full details of the traditional categories and last year's winners, as well as interesting doggie facts scattered here and there: the seemingly effete trim inflicted on poodles, for instance, has practical origins as streamlining for retrieval of game in water.
Think About Drink
Terry from Dover, Liam from Canterbury and other 16-year-old drinkers are here given space to warn their peers of the social embarrassments arising from over-consumption. Though bearing a discreet Health Education Authority logo, the site prefers personal confessions to preaching, but those mailed in so far are rather bland as cautionary tales go - is the threat of passing out on a date, hiccupping through a job interview or even burning the toast really sufficient to keep kids off the alcopop? Still, there is a commendable lack of melodrama, though the heavier stuff about road accidents and liver damage eventually makes an appearance. There is a drinks menu designed to demonstrate recommended alcohol intake, a quiz with unspecified prizes, and a (usually unpatronising) resort to a notional kidspeak: "What's such a laugh about throwing up and speaking to the porcelain telephone all night?"
Body Inflation Fetish Home Page
Gordon Brown's least favourite site, though these pages promote inflation in a pneumatic rather than economic sense. The Net plays host to a range of formerly unimaginable erotic specialisms, but we know this one is a joke, if only because of its (compressed) air of innocence: no nudes, but accounts of "Donna having fun in scuba gear". A Celebrity Inflation section includes an expanded Cindy Crawford, and visitors can mail in shots of other potential victims. Short stories pander to the perverted - "Suddenly, she felt a massive surge of pressure fill her entire body as she began to slowly balloon out" - and there's a database of inflatable- friendly movies, which includes Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory but misses out, for some reason, Blow-Up.
The Sleep Well
It's much harder to fall asleep at a Web site than during a movie, but you can assess your tendency to drift off with the Epworth Sleepiness Test, available here. Actually, there is nothing dozy about these pages, which offer informative background on sleep disorders such as hypersomnia, insomnia and narcolepsy, and a rallying point from which to lobby the Government and medical establishment - sleep activism is a serious project. There are links to pages on dreaming, and details of laser treatments for snoring. The site's author, one "nodmaster", can't help but acknowledge the inherent humour of it all, and defines consciousness as "that annoying time between naps".
Blackbeard and the Barbarossa Brothers, the tea-drinking Black Bart and the cross-dressing Anne Bonny all shake their booty at this National Geographic children's site. Participants are invited to walk the plank and be educated at the same time, by filling in the blanks in a series of pirate biographies, and studying detailed maps of their (somewhat PG-rated) predations in the Caribbean and elsewhere. Best of a scurvy lot may be Shing Shih, the "brisk brilliant widow" and her fleet of 800 pirate junks, presumably full of bootleg copies of Office 97.
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