Each week in Web Watch, we seek to bring you the freshest Web sites, the hottest news, the biggest scoops and the smartest ideas. We're not saying we actually do that, but we try.
This week, we're not even trying.
This week, we're passing on a couple of consistently cool Web sites that you will love. Why? Because we love them. And you trust our judgment implicitly, otherwise you would not still be reading. (Wait! Come back!)
These sites are well known to the Webnoscenti (Weberati?) but probably not by most. Both are worthy of several minutes of wasted work time during a day:
* www.homestarrunner.com: A visit to this animated site can take your entire day, if you let it. The characters are silly and the drawing is two-dimensional and the whole thing is irresistible. On your first visit, click on "Come on in" and then click on "First time here?" to meet the characters and absorb the general flavor.
The star is Strong Bad, a gruff-but-lovable runt in a wrestling mask and boxing gloves. Why boxing gloves? Why not? He lives to torture the dimwitted Homestar Runner, the insufferable Marzipan and the mopey Strong Sad. A handful of other characters round out the absurdist site, which combines highbrow humor and slapstick. Make sure you read the responses to viewer e-mail.
I don't know what this says about the site, or about me, but a couple of summers ago, I was wearing a T-shirt with Strong Bad on it while walking around L.A. One guy asked me if I was in the IT industry. The only other person who commented on the shirt was a 12-year-old boy.
* www.postsecret.blogspot.com: This site, started by a Germantown businessman named Frank Warren as a hobby, invites people to anonymously confess their sins and fears on picture postcards (the more handmade and primitive, the better) and mail them in for posting on this Web site. The idea tapped something primal, and its popularity has exploded; HarperCollins/Regan Books has compiled 288 pages worth into a hardback.
The secrets range from hilarious -- "I'm almost 40 years old and I have an unhealthy reliance on my Magic 8 Ball" -- to poignant -- "When I met you at the show, I wished I had met you first. When I woke up next to my wife, I was glad I didn't do anything stupid" -- to chilling -- "I fear something awful happened to me as a child that I've blocked out & that my parents keep from me."
Mile-high club: Well, after a month on Airtroductions.com, the Web site that promises to hook up air travelers with suitable mates in the next seat, I got bupkus. On my online profile, I had written that I was seeking an NFL cheerleader with an Ivy League degree. So I scaled it back a bit, to see if changing lures would help. I wrote:
"I'm looking to meet a younger, attractive woman who likes getting jewelry. Models above catalogue-level and pageant winners are favored, along with dancers and soap stars."
Still nothing, despite the fact that the site now boasts more than 2,000 users, up from fewer than 800 when I registered. Am I asking so much?
Vingle: Last week, we reported that Apple Computer Inc. had trademarked the name "Vingle" for future uses, which, if you read the filings at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, could be anything from a chain of retail stores to a Web browser.
Well, we contacted Mitch Vingle, a fine sports columnist for the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette to see what he thought about this. He was suitably outraged, enough to have written a column about it last week.
"You can't steal my name," he told us yesterday. "I want some serious coin if they're going to infringe on my family's name."
The Vingles come from a long line of proud West Virginia coal miners. The original family name -- Wegrzyn -- was changed by an impatient and possibly illiterate paymaster to Vingle. We think that Apple should have to choose between two options: Either suitably remunerate Mitch and the rest of the Vingles, or be forced to call future stores/laptops/browsers/etc. "Wegrzyn."