The World Wide Web has the capacity to dazzle us with breathtaking pictures of faraway galaxies, satellite photographs of the Earth from space, amazing animation, virtual art, Webcam panoramas of sugar-white beaches in Australia, the pyramids of Egypt, the glory of Paris.
The Web can also mesmerize us with the sound of great music, from Puccini to Sinatra, Gershwin to the Beatles.
On a more basic level, the sounds available at the click of a mouse can also provide hours of entertainment and laughter. All that's usually required are a computer sound card and Real Player, Windows Media Player, QuickTime, or any of several other audio (and video) software programs that can be downloaded free.
I'm speaking generally of the sounds that we remember from movies and television. A quick search of, say, "movie sounds" brings up thousands of sites containing audio clips from favorite movies and TV shows - comedies, dramas, horror flicks, TV commercials, TV theme songs, and cartoons.
Suppose you want to hear Judy Garland, as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, telling her dog, "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore," or Tweety saying, "I taut I taw a puddy tat."
What about downloading the musical intro of "Seinfeld" to notify you every time you get a new e-mail message? You could also download a clip for use on your telephone answering machine. Two possibilities: Robert De Niro from Taxi saying menacingly, "You talkin' to me?"or Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men" growling, "You can't HANDLE the truth!"
Or how about replacing that pretty music accompanying the opening of Microsoft Windows with the shrieking soundtrack from "Psycho"?
Another site, FindSounds.com, specializes in a huge assortment of sounds for downloading. The categories include animals (alligators to zebras), birds (blackbirds to wrens), insects (bees, cicadas), musical instruments (bass drum, violin), nature (earthquake, rain), sports (baseball, tennis), vehicles (airplane, truck), and myriad other sounds including beeps, chirps, hisses, cannon fire, whip cracks, cork pops, applause, burps, footsteps, grunts, and snores.
Depending on your brand of computer and browser, the audio files you'll come across are identifiable by their suffixes, among them .wav, .au, midi, and .aiff. Here are suggestions for several sites:
Short of cash and need to find an Automatic Teller Machine quickly? Relief is just a click away, thanks to two sites run by Visa and Mastercard. For United States locations, both locators ask for an address or intersection, then provide a list of three ATMs in the general area, along with a map marking where they are.
Overseas, Visa proves to be the superior service. Type in London's Piccadilly Circus, for example, and the site lists the three closest ATMs and their locations on a map, just as it does in the U.S.
Type in Piccadilly Circus on MasterCard , however, and you get not three but 213 ATM locations in greater London, and there's no map to point you in their direction. Paris is even worse: I typed in Place Vendome, and MasterCard responded with locations for 1,059 ATMs scattered throughout the city.
You don't have to be a baseball fan to know who said the following: "It's deja vu all over again"; "It ain't over 'til it's over"; "The future ain't what it used to be," and "It gets late early out here."
Yes, it's Yogi Berra, the famed catcher for the New York Yankees, who had his very own way of expressing himself. His so-called "Yogi-isms" were profound in a funny sort of way (or vice versa). In any case, it was hard to disagree with their unique logic.
Yogi-isms and a whole lot more can be found on Yogiberra.com, a Web site devoted to the Hall of Famer, who went on to become manager of the Yankees and other teams and won pennants in both the American and National leagues. There's a nuts-and-bolts biography of him, plus a dandy compilation of links devoted to baseball.
Truth be told, the site is as much a revenue-earner for Yogi as it is a tribute to his career. Everything from bats and balls to photos, books, videos, and baseball cards can be purchased at the site. You can even send in your own cards, bats, and jerseys and have Yogi sign them at a cost ranging from $10 to $150, depending on the item.
The page devoted to his "Yogi-isms" may be the most entertaining stop on the site, and naturally, you can buy a whole book of them, plain or autographed. Are all the Yogi-isms straight from the horse's mouth? Well, maybe.
"I really didn't say everything I said," goes another of his mangled sayings, which seems to leave the question hanging in the air like a high-flying foul tip.