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NetNomad 30

Five offbeat, timely reviews of Web sites on the arts, politics and news -- with a dash of the absurd thrown in for good measure. This week: . . . Natural History of the @ Sign . . . The Complete Pricing Game Directory . . . Yahoo! Clubs . . . Martin Sexton . . . Luaka Bop Records
 
 
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Natural History of the @ Sign www.herodios.com/herron_tc/atsign.html

No one seems to quite know what to call the @, but it turns out that around the world it is known by a variety of names. While it usually means "at" in the West, we learn here that in some locations (China and Japan, for example) the sign was not readily available on most keyboards until the influx of email required its presence. Others simply have no name for the thing, while users in Sri Lanka are apparently still trying to decide what to call it. Some in South Africa have taken to calling @ "aapstert" (monkey's tail) in the Czeck Republic @ is called "zavinac," meaning rollmops, while some Mandarin users call it "lao shu-hoa" or mouse sign.

The Complete Pricing Game Directory meltingpot.fortunecity.com/harrow/953/pricing1.htm

The popularity of TV's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" is certainly an interesting phenomenon, but even the popularity of that show can hardly match that of some of the daytime game shows. Take The Price is Right, for example. Say what you will about Bob Barker and crew; you have to admit that the show's fans are legion. So much so that we even found a Website that contains a list of over 80 pricing games played on the Price is Right. Complete with a history for each, its rules and pictures of the game being played. They're all here, from Plinko, Hi-Lo, Hole in One, to Pathfinder.

Yahoo! Clubs clubs.yahoo.com

Yahoo is adding so many new features that it is difficult to keep track of all the variations. The latest to come across our path (and this may well have existed for quite some time!) is Yahoo's Clubs. They are sort of glorified chat areas, but much less frenzied and frantic than the typical chat section. There are hundreds of topics, from Business, Family & Home, Religion, Sex and Science, each with subtopics of course, ranging from opinions on particular movies, types of dogs, lyrics to songs and more. The clubs we browsed seemed to have members from all walks of life, resulting in some unexpectedly broad topics of conversation. You'll always have input from boys with too much time on their hand, telling the world what they know for certain, but the good to bad ratio appears to be unusually high.

Martin Sexton www.martinsexton.com

At a recent performance at a folk festival the MC charged with introducing Martin Sexton mentioned -- on at least three occasions -- that the singer "has the voice of an angel." Having never heard Sexton, the comment began to wear pretty thin pretty quickly, but guess what; it's true. Sexton is one of those rare breeds, a singer/songwriter who actually surpasses the hype. He sings his amazing songs with great passion, bobbing back and forth, laughing and smiling, the consummate entertainer who entertains everyone, including himself. And then there are the songs. "Glory Bound," "My Maria," "Young and Beautiful," "Candy" or "Beast in Me." Listen to the Lizard Lounge rehearsal available at this site and you'll probably be singing his praises as well.

Luaka Bop Records www.luakabop.com

Luaka Bop Records have been around for ten years and in that time they've released dozens of albums. They call it "the record label for the rest of us" and the label was apparently named after a "classic Charlie Parker tune never recorded." Luaka Bop began when David Byrne (former front-man for Talking Heads) put together a compilation tape using many of his albums featuring music from Brazil. He was so impressed with his own work that he decided to release the comp. The move was met with some suspicion at the time, but the label has more than lived up to Byrne's vision. The artists are not necessarily household names in much of North America, to be sure, but the music is quite extraordinary and includes Susana Baca, Cornershop, Geggy Tah, Los de Abajo and Bryne. Sound files and bios are available for each artist.