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NetNomad 74

Five offbeat, timely reviews of Web sites on the arts, politics and news -- with a dash of the absurd thrown in for good measure.
 
 
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The Wiretap Network

Now that The Sopranos are done for another season, you can find your weekly Mob fix at The Wiretap Network's Frank & Fritzy Show. The tapes are culled from FBI wiretaps of Federico "Fritzy" Giovanelli, a Genovese crime family soldier talking with his pal, namely Frank "Frankie California" Condo, a fellow Genovese soldier. They spend their time talking about life, sex, work, girlfriends, vitamins, movies, enlarged hearts, cholesterol counts and marital strife. The tapes are available online via RealPlayer and a transcript is also available. You may need it.

AI

Web promotion for upcoming movies has taken a decidedly odd turn with Steven Spielberg's A.I. As we learn here, over 30 Web sites, all apparently interconnected, have sprung to life. We say "apparently" because neither Spielberg nor anyone else is commenting on the matter, but the home base is a seemingly innocuous, and fake, home page for the Chan family and the death of one Evan Chan, all set in the year 2142. Other sites can also be found, but not very easily. A series of chat groups have also been set up to help make sense of the future.

State of Emergency

As part of the Rockstargames.com site, State of Emergency is an "urban riot game" in which players use "pipes, bricks and benches, even dismembered body parts'' to vent their anger against the corporate world. Players attack riot cops and generally loot storefronts in opposition to the "American Trade Organization." A spokesman for Seattle's Mayor's office has said such games send "a bad message to children and distorts the message of peaceful protesters." Does he really consider Seattle to have been a peaceful protest? To play the game, use the "Game" link at the top of the page.

System Conditions

The system in question relates to the rotating blackouts in California. This graph, which refreshes every minute, displays the forecast and actual electricity requirements for the state. An accompanying written notice indicates any extenuating circumstances that might lead to increased loads (such as high temperatures in the region) and is updated on a daily basis. It doesn't look like much, but the fact that the data are recorded in real time is quite amazing.

Lost Highway Records

Lost Highway Records was named after a Hank Williams song and was created as a home for artists who might have a hard time finding commercial success in Nashville. And what a group it is. The latest releases include Lucinda Williams' wonderful Essence, Whiskeytown's Pneumonia (recorded three years ago and lost in the merging shuffle until it found a home at Lost Highway) and O Brother Where Art Thou? the breakthrough release that has sold an amazing one million copies. Looking ahead, watch for a forthcoming Ryan Adams solo effort, Down from the Mountain, featuring the O Brother performers and the latest from Robert Earl Keen.