Thursday, May 26, 2011

Culture Shock 05.26.11: Tamed Internet still has bizarre territories

In the early days of the World Wide Web, before anyone really knew what to do with it, people would create Web pages for just about anything.

It was easy. Do-it-yourself websites were all the rage. And strange, bizarre, yet sometimes wonderful pages sprouted up all over the Internet, usually on free sites like the late, lamented Geocities, where garishly bad Web design became something of an art form and half of the pages always said they were "under construction," no matter how old they were.

These pages often were devoted to celebrities, obscure television shows, childhood toys and the like.

Some are still around, but they've grown up and gotten professional.

Some of the rest have migrated to social networks. For instance, there's a Facebook page devoted to Burger Chef, a hamburger chain that all-but faded from existence in the mid-1980s. Then there's another Facebook page just for vintage newspaper advertisements for drive-in movies. And that's just to name two that conform to my own strange and bizarre interests.

Still, even outside of Facebook, you will sometimes run across a site that's devoted to something so odd it seems like it fell through a time warp from the Web's early days — except it's better designed, because nothing, and I mean nothing, not even MySpace, will ever be as poorly designed as those Geocities pages were. Bless their hearts.

Recently, I've stumbled upon three websites so specific in their subject matter you really have to wonder about the people who created them.

The first is House's Canes at

It is, as you might guess, devoted to all of the various canes TV's most acerbic doctor, Gregory House, has used over the course of seven seasons of "House."
This site is full of stats. It tells you when a particular cane first appeared, how many episodes it appeared in, and, if known, what happened to it.

My favorite is the Walnut Derby cane, which lasted 20 episodes until Wilson sawed it in half — season 2, episode 16 — to get revenge for one of House's pranks. I even own a replica.

Currently, House is using a Rosewood Tourist cane, which he's had since season 6, episode 4, making it the longest-serving cane so far.

Yet this is the least bizarre of the three websites in question.

Next on the list is The Cosby Sweater Project at

Again, as the name suggests, this site is obsessed with the many sweaters Bill Cosby and the other cast members wore on Cosby's venerable 1980s sitcom "The Cosby Show."

That's all it is. Seriously.

But at least Cosby's sweaters were kind of a running joke at the time.

Our final website's obsession, however, is so far out there not even the truth is out there.

And that's the segue into Fox Mulder's Wristwatch, found at and billed as "The Internet's most comprehensive examination of the watches worn by Fox Mulder on TV's ‘The X-Files'."


This is my new favorite website ever. Fox Mulder's Wristwatch wins the award for the most random topic ever to have a website devoted to it.

(Don't try to top it. You'll just be wrong.) And in case you're wondering, there are at least 12 different models documented so far, including everything from an Omega Quartz De Ville Prestige to a Casio digital, meaning, at some point, Mulder thought digital watches were a pretty neat idea.

This was the reason the Internet was invented. It's not about national security or commerce or education or even naughty pictures. (OK, it's partly about naughty pictures.) It's about the freedom of someone to share with the entire world an obsession with a TV character's timepieces.

No comments:

Post a Comment