THE GOODS : The Worst Way to Cruise in the Web

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Somewhere out there on the Internet, there is a translation of "Hamlet" into Klingon. There is information on the upcoming International Paperweight Festival, an Osmond family site and a message from a man in Norway that begins, "Hello to all you hot girls. . . ."

David Mirsky knows the Net addresses of all these items and, unfortunately, he's not keeping them a secret.

Welcome to "Mirsky's Worst of the Web," a highly irrelevant and hilarious guide to the strangest offerings on the part of the Internet known as the World Wide Web.

The Web, with its graphic interface, can feature photographs and graphics in addition to text. With just a few, easy-to-master computer tools, anyone can create and post a "home page" on the Web on any topic.

This accessibility makes the Web highly democratic, but it also makes it the breeding ground for plenty of stuff that is unintentionally funny.

"It amazed me just how much of this stuff was boring, terrible," said Mirsky, 27, speaking from his home in the Boston area. "Just the fact that you can put something on-line doesn't make it worthy of being read."

Mirsky is a Harvard graduate with a degree in visual studies. He wrote for the Harvard Lampoon while in school and hoped to go on to a career making movies. But with no Hollywood contact in sight, he was looking for some free-lance work writing humor last year when he happened upon the Web.

Cruising around, he came to an on-line office tour someone had posted to show off their office suite. "You called up the first page and there was the picture of a couch," Mirsky said. "Just a couch in what was, I guess, their waiting area. Then you got to the next page and there was a table where they ate lunch.

"It was amazing to me that they would think anyone would be interested in this."

But there was lots more where this came from. Armed with numerous examples of strange Web sites, Mirsky persuaded a commercial Internet service based in San Diego to pay him to establish and maintain the "Worst of the Web" list.

His constantly updated list is free to anyone with access to the World Wide Web, but his sponsor hopes that people who access it will also take a glance at the service they provide.

Mirsky's site became almost instantly popular as its fame spread, and he began getting e-mail from all over the world with nominations for the list. "Lots of people send me stuff and it's definitely helpful, but I still kind of feel like I have to tediously do some searching every day," Mirsky said.

In addition to the aforementioned gems, the sites he has recently found include a home page posted by the owner of Perky the dog, including the date Perky "killed and consumed his first small bird."

There is a page by a self-proclaimed master of shamanistic healing energies, who states his goal: "I always wanted to make millions through my business life in order to pay for the TV, radio and newspaper space to spread the idea of cosmic love."

One Australian entrepreneur on the Web offers a "Condom Vase" that comes with two condoms and a metal stand. Add water and it holds one rose.

There is proposed text for a "Divorce Ceremony" (now, there's a party), suggesting such healing statements as, "We did not realize that both of us brought pain to the relationship. Guilt, fear and shame have become a part of our life."

And, most frightening of all for males, is a home page by the author of a book called "The Joy of Uncircumcising." Yes, this man says he has a method for restoring foreskin. Suffice it to say, the method involves the use of tape.

For Mirsky, there is joy in finding such sites, But even he can become jaded.

"I find that every once in awhile, I have to take a break," he said. "I get so used to how bad stuff is that I find myself needing to go beyond just plain bad and find the really, really bizarre.

"That's when I have to stop for a while so I can regain my perspective."

"Mirsky's Worst of the Web" can be found at http://turnpike.net/mirsky/worst.html.

* Cyburbia's Internet address is Colker@news.latimes.com.

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