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Web sites off beaten path add much to see, enjoy


One of the most interesting aspects of the Internet is that there's always something new and interesting to discover.

Most of the columns I write deal with productive uses of the Internet for personal or business uses.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the game-oriented, entertainment-only Web sites that some folks say turn the Web into the World Wide Waste (of time).

But between these extremes you'll find a cornucopia of fascinating work, both commercial and non-commercial. This sort of recreational Web surfing is more akin to a ride through the country -- there's always something interesting passing by if you take the time to look.

NAME GAME. While brainstorming ideas for a name for a new Web site, I stumbled across something called The Internet Anagram Server.

The Anagram server does just what you might assume it does: enter a name, and it will rearrange the name into every possible word combination -- and I do mean every combination!

At first I entered my own name, which was disappointing -- only "JOB SKIM OR" and "SORB JIM OK" were possible.

But enter other names and you'll wind up with an extensive -- and often humorous -- list.

For example, "Bardstown, Ky.," brings up a number of combinations, including STAND BY WORK and WASN'T BYRD OK.

You may not want to use the Anagram Server to name your next child, but if you're brainstorming ideas have diminished to a drizzle, this site will help renew your creativity -- or at least entertain you.

Visit the Internet Anagram Server online at http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/.

AD APPEAL. Some of the most fascinating sights for me, as a youngster visiting downtown Louisville many years ago, were the towering buildings.

I recall too seeing the large signs and ads that were often painted on the sides of buildings; in many cases you can still see the remnants of these today.

A New York artist and preservationist, Frank Jump, has catalogued similar images found in New York City in his Web site called Fading Ad Campaign.

Jump's Web site looks at some very, very old outdoor ads.

Some survived the decades because an adjacent building was built next door, which protected the painted advertisement.

Others were just lucky, or wound up on the north side of buildings and received less weathering.

Jump's Fading Ad Campaign site displays 20 different sites in New York, which are a few samples of his work now on display at the New York Historical Society. Jump later plans to publish a book by the same name.

If you've got an eye for history, you'll enjoy this look back at some of the surviving outdoor mural artwork, some of which goes back more than 100 years.

The Web site is an interesting look at how the Web can be used to showcase historical preservation as well. It also makes you wonder if there's enough of the old signage in the area to record for our own history.

Point your Web browser to http://www.frankjump.com.

SATURDAY MEMORIES. Conversations with friends my age invariably hark back often to the music or TV shows of our childhood.

Guys are funny like that, my wife tells me, and I think she's on to something. More than once, I've been caught up in the heat of a "name that cartoon" contest with a friend or co-worker.

And if you've ever wondered about a cartoon or Saturday morning TV show from your childhood and can't quite piece together the name or the details, there's a Web site that's just perfect for you.

Yesterdayland.com features all the facts to help you fill out the fuzzy images in your memory.

One of the neatest parts of the site is a section for visitor's comments -- or memories, which add lots of facts and information about each program.

For example, guess what Saturday TV show contained a serialized live-action program that helped launch the career of movie director Richard Donner, director of the original "Superman" and all four "Lethal Weapon" movies?

The program -- one of my Saturday morning favorites -- was "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour," and one of its segments was an on-going serial called "Danger Island," which was directed by Donner. Trivia like this is priceless!

Yesterdayland.com is easy to navigate. You can search the site for a name or TV program title, or browse each decade's alphabetized list of programs.

And with each cartoon or program, you'll find links to other places on the Web that contain content.

Whether it's The Fantastic Four or H.R. Pufinstuf, you'll find something to smile about at www.yesterdayland.com.

NEED FOR SPEED. If the name Ed "Big Daddy" Roth or the Barris Brothers mean anything to you, then you'll appreciate a Web site devoted to old-time automotive hot rods called The Jalopy Journal.

In the 1950s and '60s, jalopy wasn't a derogatory word for your "wheels." It was slang for a guy or gal's hot rod, usually in one stage of completion or another.

The Jalopy Journal isn't aimed at anyone with owning or building a slickly styled 1990s kind of hot rod, or one that spends its time riding around in an enclosed trailer. No, the Journal is for those of the old school, the retro rodder who appreciates the history of hopping-up aging iron -- and then driving it.

In addition to some nice features about classic rods, you'll find editorials, a section devoted to reader's rides, classified ads, and you can even buy your own Jalopy Journal Dickies work shirt at their "Speed Wear" shop, complete with the Jalopy Journal logo embroidered on the back and "your greasy name on the front."

Overall, the Journal presents its content in a true-to-form retro manner. It's slick, it's entertaining, it's retro and most of all, it works.

Long live rock 'n roll, and long live the Jalopy Journal. Visit them online at www.jalopyjournal.com.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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