Recommended diversions

If you do a lot of surfing on the Internet, you probably know that astonishing changes are taking place there. Almost every day, Web sites that were previously stiff and uninteresting are suddenly morphing into multi-media sites with color, graphics and sound. Here are my favorites this week!

Previously a scholarly magazine that discussed everything from politics and the arts to science and Doonesbury, Slate still does the same thing; but now, it does it with provocative films, lush illustrations and sound. Especially appealing is something called VidLit which reviews books with appealing videos. Favorite current topics are “Can Bush Read?” and a generously illustrated discussion of graphic sex in art that managed to “clean my brain stem.” There is also a marvelous review of “All the King’s Men” and “The Science of Sleep.

Anyone who is a movie addict probably knows about this Web site. In addition to publishing reviews from all of the major newspapers, Rotten Tomatoes maintains a Tomato Meter that gives you a percentage of good (“ripe”) reviews and bad (“rotten”) reviews for every film. This site has thousands of trailers (film previews) and the site includes foreign and vintage silent films. Be warned that you may go for a quick look and end up staying several hours.

(Internet Movie Data Base)

This site resembles Rotten Tomatoes except it goes much further. For example, it maintains a robust discussion forum where fans argue for weeks about every aspect of their favorite films. IMDb also maintains a detailed “filmography” on every film that includes gaffs (mistakes in costume, geography, etc.) and comprehensive information on casting and script. Beware! Some of the discussions are manic. If you get hooked (as I did), you can pay a membership fee and join in the discussions of such vital issues as ... Does Isabelle Huppert die of her self-inflected wound at the end of “The Piano Teacher?”

Everything you need to know about comics. Due to the extensive amount of information covered, this Web site is constantly changing. Color reproduction is fantastic as is the coverage of graphic novels (some of which have their own musical soundtrack which can be played while you read, say, the new “Wasteland.”) You can also download an amazing amount of material. The only other comic Web site that is worth the trouble is The Comics Journal’s where you can learn all about Harlan Ellison’s latest lawsuit.

— By Gary Carden

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