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  •   Culture Consumption

    | Coming Attractions | Box Office Guru | Mr. Cranky Rates the Movies |
    | Live Concerts | Addicted to Noise | Sibelius Academy | Alternative Music Press |
    | | Bibliofind | Books A to Z |

    Even movies have their own Web addresses these days. Visit the ones below for reviews and the info on what's going on in the industry. Off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush ...

    Coming Attractions: This is the site for movies in the works. Find out what's rumored, what's in development and what's in the can. This is where you learn "The Nutty Professor 2," "Ghostbusters 3" and "Die Hard 4" are in "development hell." The site also teems with juicy gossip and early, reliable casting scoops.

    Box Office Guru: Gitesh Pandya shares his comprehensive database of box office data from 1,400 movies released since 1989. It's a treasure trove of trivia. "Beavis and Butt-head Do America" made four-fifths of its gross abroad; "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery," only one-fifth. Go figure.

    Mr. Cranky Rates the Movies: "Mr. Cranky may not have a degree in 'feeelm,' but I know what I don't like." So proclaims the world's most splenetic movie reviewer. Cranky's least favorite movie of 1997? "Batman and Robin," which he named "most likely to cause the Pope to ... proclaim at the top of his voice: 'There is no God!' "

    – Linda Perlstein

    Most of the music sites out there are like fanzines – focused on one artist and featuring cheesy gossip columns with bad pics. Here are some of the better ones.

    Live Concerts: Live Concerts features an impressive archive of 160-plus RealAudio shows. The site hosts regular cybercasts of prerecorded and live shows as well as listening parties for new albums. But note that RealAudio sounds more like AM radio – and, due to copyright restrictions, you can only listen to these shows "live" and can't store them on your PC.

    Addicted to Noise/SonicNet: ATN and SonicNet, two affiliated sites, focus on good old rock 'n' roll. ATN uses a magazine format, with "issues" of news, reviews, features and columns, most with plentiful sound clips. The writing is entertaining and informative – semi-famous rock-critic-for-hire Dave Marsh has a column here – and much of the content can't be found elsewhere. SonicNet, in turn, provides a variety of audio and video files, a continuous audio feed on Radio SonicNet and cybercasts of live shows.

    Sibelius Academy: This music metasite, run by a conservatory in Helsinki, offers one of the most extensive set of music links anywhere. With the requisite sections on pop, jazz, blues and opera come links to less common topics, such as theory, instruments, composers and even computer-generated music.

    Alternative Music Press: AMP provides news and features on real alternative music – fusion, Celtic, world beat and so on.

    – Michael Tedeschi

    If you want to stock up on a little pop literature – or even an antique book or two – for those summer days at the beach, the Net can help you find and order what you need. The most famous online bookseller, Amazon is also the best. Its interface may not be the fanciest around, but its database and search tools are the most robust. When I ran a search on a random topic, "General George Patton," Amazon reported 14 selections, compared to two selections (one of them an audiocassette of the other book) at Barnes and Noble's site. All books listed state clearly how long it will take before they are shipped; most popular titles go out within 24 hours.

    Bibliofind: Bibliofind has extensive listings of rare and antiquarian books for sale from member stores all over the world. This is a no-frills site; its shopping section doesn't even offer secure ordering, so it might be wiser to contact a bookseller directly through the address and phone number linked to each book description.

    Books A to Z: This site, an amalgam of original pages and copious links, connects you to everything from author bios to online bookstores to publishers.

    – Michael Tedeschi

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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