This Month: The Wall’s Favorite Summer Web Sites
Ah! Vacation. Summer is in full swing, and my brain is temporarily on cruise control. My Internet use fully reflects that fact, too. No more do I use search engines to cull the net for information for a school report; no longer must I research and read the top news sites for current events and answers to extra credit questions. Instead, I am free to browse and surf for pleasure purposes only. So, this month, I’ve decided to let the cat out of the bag on my own personal list of “essential” fun sites.
Say what you want about America’s Pastime, but I still like baseball. I mean, football it isn’t, but with wild card pennant chases, the All Star game, and inter-league play, it’s not a bad summer substitute. So, a logical place to start my summer sports surfing is at MLB@BAT, the official site of Major League Baseball. It’s at www.majorleaguebaseball.com. For stat-heads and fantasy league players, the StatWeb, at www.baseballstats.com, is an exhaustive database of baseball statistics on all kinds of topics, from yearly league leaders to attendance figures.
From there, I can’t resist giving a plug for my favorite team, the defending National League Central champion St. Louis Cardinals. Their official Web site is www.stlcardinals.com. One of this site’s best features is that it posts the actual scorecard from the most recent Redbirds game online – big-time cool! Most other major league teams also have Web sites, too, so check around for your favorite team.
Of course, when it comes to football, there’s always the Arena Football League for summer action. While it may be an eyesore to football purists, this high-scoring style of play is popular and interesting to many, including myself. I cheer on my home team, the Iowa Barnstormers, and find a lot of Arenaball information at www.arenafootball.com.
For all of the ladies and die-hard hoop fans out there, I’ll mention the Web site of the newly formed Women’s National Basketball Association. I’ve never been there, but you can check it out if you want to – www.wnba.com (surprisingly enough!
Finally, for general sports coverage, I choose The Sporting News Online, at www.sportingnews.com. The better-known and more-popular ESPN SportsZone (espn.com) is a great site also, but TSN Online seems to be a little faster in my experiences. It also offers great columnists (many of whom you can subscribe to via e-mail) and is 100% free, unlike ESPN, CBS SportsLine, and others, which charge you for access to premium portions of their sites.
A great all-around site is Mr. Showbiz, which is located at www.mrshowbiz.com. It’s not the fastest site in the world, and a little graphic-heavy, but it provides a great resource for Hollywood news. It covers movies and television, as well as the music industry. Lots of reviews and interviews make this site a great place to visit, even though some areas are restricted for paying subscribers.
For movie fans, I can’t recommend a better reviews and commentary page than James Berardinelli’s ReelViews, at www.cybernex.net/~berardin. It’s not an “official” or corporate site, and to me that makes it extra special. Mr. Berardinelli is an every day guy off the street (he’s an engineer of some sort during the day, I believe), but at night he is going to movies non-stop. I’m not real sure how he does it, but he does it very well. Movies are sorted by release date, title, and rating; he provides star ratings and a numerical rating. There’s a frames and a non-frames version of the site; both are very attractive, but at the same they are very bandwidth-friendly. Mr. Berardinelli even offers a search engine of his review archives. The best part is, his reviews are crisply written and well-done. I can’t remember disagreeing with him yet.
If you’d like to find an official page or simply a fan-produced site featuring your favorite music group, you can’t do any better than the Ultimate Band List, whose URL is american.recordings.com/wwwofmusic/ubl/ubl.shtml. An exhaustive database of bands and sites is featured. If you just want to check out music news and features in general, surf on over to www.mtv.com, home of MTV’s online presence. Be warned – have a fast connection or choose the low-bandwidth version. For more news, as well as the top music charts, try www.billboard.com.
What better picture of summer than a day at the beach, with the sun shining, the waves rolling, and the latest bestselling paperback in your hands? For a lot of people, summer is when they finally have a chance to do a little reading for leisure. While I can’t bring the beach to your desktop, I can tell you about some of the best Web-zines that I’ve found. (This side of My Mac Online, of course!
One of the most popular, and best, is Salon Magazine (www.salonmag.com). It offers daily and weekly updates, and covers a little bit of everything. Movie and music reviews, political columns, travel articles, technology coverage, humor – it’s all here. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve let my magazine subscriptions run out.
For politically-minded, serious people, there’s Microsoft’s Slate Magazine, which is actually really good. Led by Michael Kinsley, Slate provides a lot of opinions and viewpoints on today’s culture. Point your browser to www.slate.com, if you don’t mind the ‘zine’s association with the Evil Empire.
Another ‘zine site worth checking out is www.word.com, the home of, oddly enough, Word Magazine. A little off-the-wall sometimes, but good, quality writing about life in the 90’s nonetheless.
For fiction lovers, prose and poetry, you can try www.gate.net/~ruby for some amateur material. Submissions are also accepted.
Sites for the Funny Bone
Everyone enjoys a good laugh, and since it’s summer, why not take it easy and smile for once? These sites are always good for a LOL, and every now and then a ROTFL.
David Letterman these guys are not, but the Top Five page (www.zdnet.com/wsources/topfive/top5.html) is usually worth a pretty good laugh anyway. There’s a mailing list you can subscribe to, too.
HumourNet is better known as an e-mail list of jokes, anecdotes, and stories, but its Web page, at http://www.humournet.com/HumourNet is pretty awesome, too. Self-proclaimed “listmom” Vince Sabio and company do an outstanding job. (And Vince is outspokenly pro-Mac, too! Check out the Windoze humor!
Finally, there are some great techie sites that are more lighthearted in nature or otherwise better suited to summer browsing. One such is the venerable Inside Mac Games, www.imgmagazine.com, which is the best source around for reviews, information, tips, and tricks on your favorite Mac games. Shareware and commercial offerings are covered in-depth.
This site could have stuck in the humor listings, but I put it here so IMG wouldn’t be all alone. For a wonderful parody of the guy all Mac users love to hate, check out www.tiac.net/users/billg40/main for the Secret Diary of Bill Gates. Hilarious!
A Couple of Noteworthy Games
Well, that does it for this month. Hopefully, these links will keep you busy until next month. In the meantime, I’m going to be enjoying my summer vacation and playing Duke Nukem nonstop. If you’ve got the power for it (My LC 575 — ‘040, 24 Megs of virtual RAM, 8 Megs of physical RAM — barely can handle it), there isn’t a better 3D shooter in the DOOM-esque family. Download it from MacUser’s site if possible, because the MacUser demo includes one extra level than the usual demo. (www.zdnet.com/mac/download).
Duke may be the be-all and end-all of pure 3D shooters, but when it comes to adding a plot and story line for a totally engrossing experience, it doesn’t get any better than the Marathon series. If you have a registered, full version of Marathon Infinity, go download Marathon Evil, the fourth installment of the series. The whole thing is available for free; the MacUser library might should carry it as soon as it’s available, as should C|NET’s DOWNLOAD.COM (www.download.com). If all else fails, visit www.bungie.com to get it from the horse’s mouth.
Mike Wallinga (email@example.com)