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  The Navigator: Good, Bad & Ugly
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 20, 1998

That's right, kids, it's time for another installment of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly on the Internet. Today you'll learn how to plan for a total eclipse of the sun, how to scrape away your bad breath and how to go underground where it's cool, safe and the sun never shines.

    Toungue brushin'
From the Bad Breath Terminator Web site.
The Good. It's never too early to start planning for a heavenly event. Less than a year from now, on Aug. 11, 1999, there will be a solar eclipse. A total eclipse will be visible from a small part of Earth. Most of us will see only a partial eclipse – unless you want to watch it on the everywhere-at-once Web. As the time grows near, you'll no doubt read more about seeing the eclipse, but for now the best vantage point may be NASA's Total Eclipse page.

The Bad. Your dragon breath is merely offensive to others; but it can kill you. That's the skinny from the creators of the Bad Breath Terminator, a handy-dandy little tongue scraper that looks like something Barbie might use if she turned ax murderess. Tongue scraping, we learn, is as old as the Roman Empire and "soon it will be an accepted way of life – as second nature as brushing and flossing one's teeth."

Maybe, but they're going to have to come up with a new online ad campaign to succeed. On this site the cartoon woman using the scraper looks like she's gagging on a broken toothbrush. Slightly more than six inches long, the plastic tool costs about $5. The scraper comes in two colors – crystal clear and aqua green.

"The surface of the tongue," the online brochure explains, "is one of the main breeding grounds for the bacteria that generates foul smelling sulfides and fills the mouth with noxious gases that smell like rotten eggs and barnyard." Speak for yourself . . . but back up first.

Foul breath, we are told, is caused by bacteria that is camping out on the ridges and valleys of the tongue. The bacteria can lead to conditions even more horrific than halitosis – gum disease, blood-clotting and inflamed arteries. In other words, bad breath can be fatal. In fact, the site says, nearly 60 million Americans "suffer" from bad breath. I feel for them. And the rest of us.

The Ugly. If you've ever wanted to go underground, Edward and Dianna Peden and their company, 20th Century Castles, will help you. They offer a number of "castles" – the term is used loosely here – that were once subterranean missile bases. The Pedens should know about the joys of owning and living in an old missile base, they make their home in a renovated Atlas E site near Topeka. And they want you to live the same way.

At present, there are seven or so bases for sale in various parts of the country. In Shep, Tex., for instance, there's an 11-acre Atlas F spread that includes two water wells. The bare-concrete Launch Command Center has electricity and plumbing. The silo can be used for scuba diving. The price: $173,000.

"Built at a cost of millions, these heavily reinforced historic structures were designed to withstand nuclear attack. They bring new meaning to the word 'shelter,' " the site states. "No more structures of this size and strength are being built. Most of these properties are rough after 30 years of neglect, but with some clean up and reconstruction inside, their grandeur is restored."

Linton Weeks can be reached at

mouse CLICK: The "Who Would Kill You" Game   This site takes television violence to a new level. Each week visitors are presented with a popular TV show and asked to vote for the characters they most want the writers to kill off. Not surprisingly, Kenny from "South Park" won with flying colors. But there are some surprises. Among all the obvious targets in "The Brady Bunch," users chose to do in the family's long-lost cousin Oliver with a fatal venereal disease, and "the Government" itself is the target of "The X-Files."Dan Pacheco

Perturbations, pleasures and predicaments on the I-way

He's Baaaack!
Cruelly exiled from the local airwaves, former Channel 20 late-night monster-movie host Count Gore DeVol has returned from the (ratings) dead with a "Creature Feature" Web site that is every bit as cheesily charming as was his no-budget TV program. Offering the same goofy banter (in various audio files) and contests that made staying home on weekends a viable option in the '70s and early '80s, Creature Feature is part of the "TV's Greatest Horror Hosts" Web ring, which of course also includes links to Ghoulardi, Vampira, Elvira and the like. Now living in Chicago, the man behind the cape and gloppy makeup, Dick Dyszel, was also Captain 20, the station's children's show host, and was one of the last of the non-news TV celebrities from the days when local television really was local. – Dave Nuttycombe

Just the Facts, Ma'am
Private investigators, reporters and other snoops know what fascinating literature can be found in court filings. The Smoking Gun knows this, too, and is eager to share the "cool, confidential, quirky" court papers its editors obtain through the Freedom of Information act. The joy of the site is in how the authors of artless, lifeless legalese describe the most salacious of tales. An August 1962 FBI report flatly repeats gangster Meyer Lansky's gossip about Robert Kennedy's philandering with an El Paso woman; an understated follow-up memorandum about the attorney general's response to Lansky's trash-talk doth protest too much, as RFK raises the Marilyn Monroe rumors himself.

Hollywood's dirty laundry is aired as well: Past Smoking Gun documents provide a chauffeur's lawsuit against Don Johnson for unwanted French-kissing and groping; a call-girl calls Jack Nicholson abusive and cheap.

Some of the best documents offer a bit more background than lawsuit-fearing reporters can provide. Starved for details about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey? Check out the autopsy report, the ransom note, three different search warrants – all straight from Boulder with no editorial slant.– Jake Tapper

Found something intriguing, improbable, insane or especially useful on the Net? Write it up and send it to Joel Garreau or Robert Thomason.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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