The Navigator: Princess and the Pie
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 3, 1998
"This whole Diana industry, which is so sordid, should stop and she should be allowed to rest in peace," Monckton said.
You don't have to travel to the fateful Paris tunnel or to Earl Charles Spencer's museum of Diana memorabilia north of London to get a taste of the industry that Monckton's mad about. Just log on to the Internet. For all of its marvels and wonders, the Web really knows how to exploit the late and the famous. On the Web, no one rests in peace.
From the home page of Tingle's Bait and Tackle in Rockton, Pa., you can purchase Diana-inspired stamps, plates, a screen saver and the Princess Diana Wedding Crown, a coin minted in 1981 that sells for about 10 bucks. Tingle employee Beverly A. Stormont says she has about 100 crowns left. The bait shop's site also offers memorial currency issued by obscure islands, countries and dependencies such as Guernsey, Kiribati and Tristan de Cunha. And replicas of Diana's "official British driver's license." The version for sale just happened to expire on Aug. 31, 1997.
"Everything we sell, I believe, has been authorized by the Princess Diana Memorial Fund," Sturmont says.
You can cop a Princess Diana commemorative pie bird-a bell-shaped little porcelain vent that you stick into the center of a just-baked pie-for free when you order a dozen of the cooling devices from the Pie Birds of England Web site. The pie birds, which come in various styles-including giraffes, pigs, witches and Little Black Sambos-sell for $40 or so apiece.
For $140 you can get a large mirror-with the princess's photo superimposed-from Ozelink Internet Services. Another capitalist is offering a caboodle of Diana Memorabilia-a sheet of 100 stamps, a pair of first-day stamps, a bottle of whiskey from the royal wedding, some kind of official wedding medallion, five Australian magazines, a publication of the poet laureate's poem and London Country Life's special wedding report-for a mere $10,000. Elsewhere you can find photos and videos and Elton John's tribute and special Princess Diana Beanie Babies. The Web is littered with debris from Diana's death.
But the Web is not just for junk. Hundreds of people have posted heartfelt tributes to Diana. More than 500 are stitched together on the Princess Diana Memorial Webring. And you can contribute to the charities the princess championed through the Official Diana, Princess of Wales Web site. So far the fund has pulled in some $133‚million. Oddly enough, about $20‚million of that comes from the sale of sanctioned souvenirs. Even odder, one of the members of the committee that is charged with dispensing monies made from the sale of souvenirs is ... Rosa Monckton.
Linton Weeks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Diving into the Reference Stacks
Organized more or less like a real-life library, LibrarySpot offers quick access to encyclopedias, dictionaries, thesauri, business information, maps, phone books, statistics and specialized libraries, including collections on law, medicine and music. It also links to magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals and other periodicals.
To be sure, you can never be certain of the reliability of Web-based information; for instance, LibrarySpot's acronym-explanation tools seemed a bit spotty, and its collection of subway maps was incomplete.
Still, LibrarySpot inspires some confidence by sticking to brand names you'd find at any library: Merriam-Webster, Roget's and Bartlett's.
Electronic libraries do have features you won't find in the bricks-and-mortar kind. You can download classical music directly into your computer or find encyclopedia articles on "impeachment" that provide links to Bill Clinton's political dilemmas, rather than just Richard Nixon's.
For When You Feel Like a Nut
Found something intriguing, improbable, insane or especially useful on the Net? Write it up and send it to Joel Garreau or Robert Thomason.
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