Banzuke of the weird
by Mike Lloret
Publisher and Publicity Officer Justin Gardiner and I were recently discussing how to find material
for the newsletter...something we often (have to) do. He came up with the idea of asking TPC folks to
list and describe their top five favorite websites, and further suggested that we choose people known
in the newsgroups--or in person--for being especially in the know about certain areas. We'll let you
find out for yourself who and what were chosen, in this and future issues.
Coincidentally, Ralph Sumner answered one of my regular pleas for material by reminding me of a similar
suggestion he'd made to me long ago, and, even better, by starting off with an article of his own,
which you'll see elsewhere in this issue.
In Justin's list of people paired with likely expertise areas, for some reason he'd had me down for
"Mike Lloret's Top 5 Watering Holes". I can't imagine why, but I gave it some thought and did a bit of
browsing, only to discover that the ones I'd choose right now all have websites that are either
currently inaccessible or obsolescent. Several are in the process of being remade, at least one with
So, I'll leave that banzuke for another time, and present instead my (Today's) Top 5 Odd Sites. The
ranking may change tomorrow. Of course, "odd" doesn't necessarily mean "useless". I wouldn't bookmark a
site if it didn't strike me as at least thought provoking enough to merit a return visit someday, and
some of the odder sites I've found have proved to have considerable utility. Your mileage may vary, of
course. I'm afraid that I don't remember how I came upon most of these sites originally. Perhaps one of
you directed me to them; if so, apologies for not crediting you with the find. I do remember how I
learned about the ordainment one, though, but the story should be told over a beer or two.
contains photographs and comments on...abandoned places. For me, it revived memories of an early teen
summer spent hanging around in a neighborhood block that was being demolished to make way for a big
supermarket. The abandoned buildings included a hardware store, several homes, and--best of all--a huge
old movie theater that had apparently once been the site of Vaudeville performances. The workers and us
kids played a sort of game in which they tried to keep us out, and we tried to thwart their escalating
security measures. I've got several stories revolving around those days, but the point here is that
this site brought back memories of exploring recent ruins. It's a beautiful site, in its way, but I'll
let you visit it and find out how and why for yourself.
2. The Museum of Unnatural Mystery
Welcome to the Museum of Unnatural Mystery, a slightly bizarre, cyberspace, science museum for all
ages. Are there really flying saucers? What killed the dinosaurs? Is there something ancient and alive
in Loch Ness? The Museum takes a scientific look at these, and other, questions. Feel free to wander
our halls and make some serendipitous discoveries.
But that's only part of the story. Every time I visit this site, there's another little oddity been
added. I wouldn't necessarily take their "scientific look" statement at face value, either. It's a fun
site, though, and a great productivity killer. Don't forget to visit the museum's attic.
3. The Universal Life Church Online
is the place to go if you want, for whatever reason, to become ordained as a minister online. They have
been around in Modesto, California (which you saw if you watched the movie American Graffiti) since
1959, and yes, I do have a certificate of ordainment from them. They've been in the news in the US and
have managed to weather various legal difficulties successfully. Their statement...
Our common thread is our adherence to the universal doctrine of religious freedom:
Do only that which is right.
Every person has the natural right (and the responsibility) to peacefully determine what is right. We
are advocates of religious freedom. The Universal Life Church wants you to pursue your spiritual
beliefs without interference from any outside agency, including government or church authority.
...strikes me as an spiritual iconoclast's ideal, and that in itself is plenty odd enough to merit inclusion here.
4. The most neglected site on the web
is just that, and they're proud of it. I go back and visit from time to time as a way of thumbing my
nose at chaos. I know that doesn't make sense. Visit the site, and you'll see what I mean. Or perhaps
not. Maybe it'll take several visits.
5. Authors' pseudonyms
is just one small part of a much larger book site which in turn is...but you get the picture, right? I
don't remember how I found this site (although I may have been trying to find out who Gardner Fox
really was), and I still don't really consider it especially odd, but a good friend and fellow book
lover to whom I sent the URL immediately replied with "Thanks for the highly useful but very odd site
reference...", so I have to assume that my definition of "odd" isn't as universal as I thought. But you
probably knew that already.
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