A Prairie Home-Page Companion
Don't know what socks to wear? Ask Garrison Keillor.
The Witch's Voice
Coming out of the broom closet.
Chess on the Net
An online community where those with the best moves always mate.
In the Valley of the Kings
Breaking new ground in Egypt -- and on the Web.
The traditional art of weaving -- in code.
What better place for bibliophiles, bibliopoles, bibliotaphs, and bibliomaniacs to congregate?
It's not just on NPR.
The Official Guide to Bedlam
The teeming, chaotic, utterly bizarre world of popular music on the Web -- brought to you by MTV and Yahoo!.
For more, see the complete Web Citations Index.
October 8, 1997
The art of the news parody is alive and well, nowhere more so than in The Onion, a Web site and weekly newspaper with more guaranteed potential for laugh-out-loud-in-your-cubicle, get-odd-looks-from-your-coworkers, gee-I'd-better-compose-myself humor than a year's worth of Dilbert.
What started out innocently enough as an alternative weekly intended largely for students at the University of Wisconsin has become one of the Internet's best sources of political ("Casual One-Nighter Gives Strom Thurmond Change of Heart on Gay Issue"), cultural ("Secondhand Smoke Linked to Secondhand Coolness"), and uncategorizable ("Local Monster Undeterred by Night-Light") humor. The site is free, and the constantly-changing banner ads laced with pop-culture references clearly speak to the twentysomething demographic it hopes to attract. The Onion is a perfect send-up of the Net's buttoned-down news sites, and what's more, you don't just want to scan the headlines, you actually want to read the articles.
Occasionally -- perhaps regularly -- the humor does descend to bathos ("Experts Predict Online World of 21st Century to Feature More Breasts," "Doctors Say Reagan's Dementia Increasingly Hilarious"), but even then the jokes are more George Carlin than Beavis and Butthead. If you search the site long enough, especially if you scour the substantial archives, eventually you should expect to be offended.
That's part of the point. It's refreshing to know there is still such a thing as an "alternative" press, someplace where you can read articles such as "Geopolitical Balance of Power Somehow Unaffected by Death of Princess Diana" and "Mother Teresa Sent to Hell in Wacky Afterlife Mix-Up." Should laughing at such impropriety be a guilty pleasure? Surely only the most prurient nature would permit a snicker at the headline "Area Bassist Fellated." Yet there's nothing really raunchy here, only a twinge of memories of high school recess, when such silly things could be talked about openly. So indulge yourself. Just don't let your boss catch you.
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.