This week’s Web browsing takes us from comic superheroes to Italian
cuisine and from a spot for grandparents to a fun look at American
history — with a little magic and a few surprises thrown in.

America’s story. “America’s library” (the Library of Congress)
takes a fun approach to telling the story of our nation and its people.
America’s Story introduces
you to “amazing” Americans such as Harry Houdini, helps you explore the
states and allows you jump back in time to one of 11 periods in our
nation’s history (the Civil War, for instance, or the Great Depression).
Kids will enjoy going on the site’s scavenger

That’s Italian. Whether you’re looking to spice up your meals
with some Tuscan specialties or trying to dig up more about your Italian
roots, Virtual Italy has you
covered. It features a recipe of the day, genealogy, what’s happening
today in Italy, e-cards, chat and a sound file of the word of the day
(to improve your language skills).

Asian cooking. If Italian cooking’s not your thing, what about
Asian cuisine? Asia
lets you click on any of the region’s 23 countries (from Afghanistan to
Vietnam) to get recipes. You’ll also find discussions of Asian cooking
techniques and suggestions of substitutions for hard-to-find

Sleight of hand. A reader asked for the URL of a site
mentioned in this column last year where you mentally choose a card and
the computer uncannily guesses what it is. I think he was referring to
Simeon’s World of Magic, which
has a number of these tricks. But another site of the same type is Cool Magic Trick.

Fun for kids. A nifty site for 3- to 9-year-olds is Alfy. Kids can make their own home page,
create a greeting card, record a tune, play hundreds of fun as well as
educational games and watch animated movies. Because the interface is
heavily graphical and accompanied by sound, even preschoolers will be
able to make their way around the site with a little help from an adult.

Hot sites. If someone asked you to check out a website called
IcySpicy, you’d probably figure it was porn. But you’d be wrong. IcySpicy is actually a handy portal
given that name because it’s the gateway to “cool and hot websites.”
Think of it as an off-beat Yahoo. On its home page, IcySpicy lets you
easily access white/yellow pages, Internet radio/TV, news and traffic
reports, comics and cartoons, weather reports, TV listings (by time
zone), and maps and directions. You can also track a package, keep up
with your schedule via a free calendar/planner, find a movie (by ZIP
Code), find out what’s happening with the stock market and translate
words and phrases into — and out of — a number of languages. All in
all, a pretty handy place.

Cheeseburger in Paradise. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville gives you the
lyrics to his songs, dates of his summer tour appearances and lets you
know about the charitable foundation he has set up.

Gentille alouette. A song of a different sort shows up at a
Canadian website. Surely everyone has sung the French version of the
folk song Alouette. But did
you have any idea you were singing about a bird?

It’s grand. Whether you are a new grandparent or an old hand,
iGrandparents offers plenty of
interest. Active forums to get answers to questions on issues of
interest, reviews of films to see if you might want to take one of your
grandchildren to the movies, a look at useful technology for seniors
(scanning, digital cameras and so forth), traveling with the grandkids
and much more. The site says it offers ideas and solutions, and it
delivers on that promise.

Ho Hum. To counter such scientific publications as The Journal
of Abnormal Psychology and Deviant Behavior, sociologist Scott Schaffer
of California State University, Fullerton, has created a new “magazine”
that looks at the normalities of everyday life. Available only on the
Web, the first issue of Mundane
examines, among other topics, men’s facial hair and how
everyday talk orders and reorders culture. What a remarkable idea —
cataloging the normal instead of the abnormal.

And the winner is … Who won the 27 Webby awards handed out
this year and the equal number of “people’s winners”? Check out the list.
(Be aware that some of these sites are R-rated.)

No winners here. None of the flicks at B-Movie Theater is in danger of winning
any kind of an award. But if you like to keep up with films that have a
cult following, this is the spot.

Saving the world It’s tough being a superhero — there’s so
much that needs to be done. But the UltraMegaRobotGuys are up to
the task. These five guys defend the world weekly from baddies
throughout the galaxy. This online comic strip was recommended by a
reader, and like most humor, some of you are going to find it funny and
others won’t.

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