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Hot on the Web

This column originally ran in ComputorEdge on November 16, 2001
(Issue 1946, People Helping People)

The biggest drawback to having a Web site is, well, having a Web site. And what I mean by that is if you have a Web site – which I do – then you often find yourself feeling that you really ought to update the dang thing once in a while.

And so I sit here at 2 a.m. going through and checking links on my pages, finding tons of dead ones (now look, 18 of you visited my site last week – I checked the logs – the least you could do is let me know about all these dead links) and trying to find some new stuff to add.

Maybe it's the late hour, maybe it's the fine sippin' tequila former ComputorEdge columnist Brad Fikes got me for turning 40 last month, but I've actually had a rather productive evening of digging up some interesting new sites for my Bizarre Links page.

I have absolutely no ability to resist any site that touts itself as the place "Where useless knowledge breeds champions." In my college days, I hooked up with a friend to form an awesome Trivial Pursuit team. Lisa had the physical sciences down – a pre-vet major (she's now a psych prof at U.C. Davis), she'd taken all those biology courses I'd avoided – while I had the literature and history categories down pat. In two years of competition against all our friends, we went undefeated.

But the Grudge Match site is beyond me – and I love it!

Every couple of weeks, there's a new match – always pitting one or more pop culture icons against each other. Previous match-ups (be sure to check out the history section, with all past results!) have included Pee-Wee Herman vs. Gilligan, Jeannie (from "I Dream of Jeannie") vs. Samantha from "Bewitched," and Urkel vs. Tatoo.

For each face-off, two hosts from the site make their arguments as to why they think each protagonist should be favored. This is the real grudge match, as the hosts spar with each other trying to bring the most obscure facts about the characters to bear on the argument at hand. After reading all this, the readers have a a couple of weeks to vote.

Once voting is done, the winner is declared, and the best readers' quotes are posted as well – and you can usually find even more weird and obscure trivia here as well.

Perhaps the most smart-aleck site on the Web, is like an underground high school paper, only run by purported grown-ups.

For instance, they tout their new guide to How to Land Your Dream Job with this blurb: "Maximize your lack of essential skills to create truly awesome job potential. Demonstate practical leadership ability while getting paid to do nothing."

Then there are all their tests – the personality test and an IQ test and even a gender-neutral pregnancy test. The Web Toys are also pretty fun – an insult generator, a pick-up line generator, and a term-paper generator that's almost guaranteed to get you expelled..

Think of theSpark as a cross between Mad Magazine and the Onion – in short, very funny.


Just as twisted as theSpark is Newgrounds. Also seemingly produced by a bunch of arrested-development cases, Newgrounds specializes in sick humor, and parts of the site are off-limits to those under 18 (or 21, depending on where you live).

But for finding links to some of the funniest Shockwave games and videos on the 'Net, there's no better place than Newgrounds.

I found Newgrounds when I was e-mailed a link to a Windows XP spoof – an interactive "Windows RG"; find it and other Windows parodies by clicking the Themes button on the main page.

The main drawback is that Newgrounds' traffic has increased so much of late that the last few days I've had a hard time getting in, and when I do, it can take a while for pages to load.

Hometown Favorites

For those of us who grew up in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, Hometown Favorites is a trip straight back to childhood. This site specializes in the candy, food and sodas of that period – stuff like Quisp cereal, Abba-Zaba Taffy Peanut Butter and Vernor's (a cross between ginger ale and cream soda).

Many of these products are still around, but as regional offerings you might not be able to find in your local grocery store after moving across the country.

The candy selection alone is outrageous – JuJuBes and Atomic Fireballs and Bit-O-Honey and Necco wafers and Sugar Daddies . They even carry products that the politically correct health nazis thought they'd killed and buried – bubble-gum cigars and sugar candy cigarettes.

For me, finding that Bubs Daddy bubble gum is still around – although renamed as Super Bubble Bubble Gum. But we used to love buying those long strings of gum – just thinking about the watermelon flavor takes me back to my 10th summer, riding my bike all around our old neighborhood in Ohio (a sensation my children will sadly never have, not in Southern California with the way people drive out here).

If only Hometown Favorites could deliver a Casano's pepperoni pizza to San Diego ...