THE EMPORIUM OF ENTICING ENCHANTMENTS
That ratbag, the Pope! When he’s not busy demolishing one of the major socio-economic myths of our time, he’s refusing to cancel my *ahem*th birthday, even though it’s in his gift to do so.
Tradition teaches us that this birthday is a stoic occasion, a time where a man should brood philosophically about the state of the world, and his place in it. However, given the available evidence, this is far from an enticing prospect. One need only read the newspapers to see images of war, greed, hunger and disaster that Bosch and Alighieri would not have dared to dream. It begs the question, what can be done?
Anyone who has reached my tender age will remember when the internet was a new thing. Smileys were cool, ASCII sigs trolled for warlords, and a dash of HTML and a bucket of enthusiasm were all you needed to build a functioning website. We had to ask Jeeves to search the internet, and every other query was a googlewhack, not that Google really existed then. The cult of the amateur was at its height, and the sheer delight at being able to share your passion with others was more important than any amount of slick presentation.
What I wish to do, therefore , is to travel back to those halcyon days and restore that freshness, wonder and pioneer spirit. No more jaded ennui! Away with cynical pattern recognition! Begone ye Humbug! Let us sing a requiem, a paean of passion to celebrate all that is glorious and wonderful in the world.
For those that complain, my life is very plain, I say Piffle, Poppycock and Rot! You may think that you don’t know Jack, but everyone has at least one area of expertise, so, in order to stop you randomly spamming the I’m Feeling Lucky button and getting dizzy with choice, here are a few topics to get those creative juices flowing:
MUSIC: In July 1985, the Live Aid concert was advertised as the world’s largest jukebox. In these days of Spotify, et al. this almost sounds passé. The internet truly is a global music box. One hundred years ago, you may have queued up to watch an orchestra perform Wagner or Liszt. Now you can listen to Vaughan Williams and Grieg on your mobile phone. From Bob Dylan covers to African spirituals, literate  folk rock to accessible rock ‘n’ roll, from frenetic disco to chilled out dance. If the song remains the same , then it must be one hell of a good song!
LITERATURE: I’ve always loved reading. Getting lost in the instant oblivion of a good book is one of life’s simplest and greatest pleasures, so I’m keen to see what flights of fancy others suggest in this category. Maybe it’s a forgotten classic or a superb short story you want to put back on the horizon. Perhaps it’s an author you can always count on, such as Pratchett, Crompton, Bradbury or the ever-ubiquitous Anon. Have you got the scoop on a particularly enjoyable fanfic? Do you want to share a piece of poetry, be it serious or silly? Who is it that sets your imagination ablaze, with their wily words, devious dialogue, perfect prose and aggressively avuncular alliteration?
FILM AND TELEVISION: If the Internet is the defining technology of adult life – not its inception (which was far earlier), but its uptake and subsequent sociological effect – then television fulfilled the same role in my childhood. Who, from my generation , cannot quote vast chunks of Monty Pyhton, Blackadder or Red Dwarf ?  And don’t pass up on animation  either. Hopefully you should have realised that animation is not just for children. Like any medium it’s perfectly capable of presenting tense thrillers or disturbing morality plays. So if there’s a charming piece of television or an excellent film, why not share it?
GAMES: Supposedly, as the urban myth would have us believe, the first support call for a video game was for Pong. The engineers installed the prototype in a bar, and it was proved so popular that within a couple of hours the coin box had filled up and no-one could put their money in the slot! I love games (and I’m in good company). Where else could I race for the galaxy, experience strange adventures in infinite space, run a train company, gain a black belt in karate and then explore dungeons and labyrinths looking for fame and fortune? And I’m as impressed with mods like Fall From Heaven or machinima like Red versus Blue, as I am with the games they’re based on. But it’s not just video games, I love party games, role-playing games, interactive fiction and board games too. And even then, it’s not just the games themselves, but the endless variants people think up. Somewhere out there, there’s a goblin army that needs to be stopped or an alien invasion to be repelled, but whatever your game is, feel free to share it here.
AND THERE’S MORE: I really have only scratched the surface, but there are plenty of other amazing sites (and sights) out there. You might submit a recipe  for cooking apple crumble and custard, a domino toppling display, a surprisingly useful software site, a sketch, picture or an artist whose gallery deserves greater exposure, the biography of a forgotten hero, a selection of ingenious tricks to tame inanimate objects, a wonder from the natural world or beyond…
DISCLAIMER: I’m not big on censorship, so I’m going to trust your common sense for the most part and leave you to imagine that your gran is reading this webpage. (Heck, in the frankly unlikely event that this idea goes viral, she might even have contributed to this project.) Also, with apologies to the PR and marketing departments of McDonalds, Coca-Cola and Starbucks, this isn’t the place to shill your products. The free market  is that-a-way.
Finally, and I apologise in advance for offering you Hobson’s choice, but because I’m feeling narcissistic, I will accept only one suggestion from each participant, so hunt around the net and find that one thing, something that must be seen or experienced to be understood, something that’s so wonderful , so amazing, so mind-blowing, so darn-it-honest-to-good-fun, that if you didn’t tell someone, you’d explode… and then come back here and share it.
 Another footnote. I feel like Kraus commentating on De Selby! For those that don’t get this link, St. Paul’s epistles are filled with so many “therefores” that he ought to be the patron saint of conjunctions!
 Don’t you miss those days when song-writers expected you to know that Nabakov wrote Lolita or that the Enola Gay was the plane that dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima?
 For those confused by this reference, The Song Remains the Same is the title of a track (and a film) by Led Zeppelin. Linking to this would have been too easy, so this link points to the lost Cowboy Bebop episode of the same name. Cowboy Bebop is an anime in a similar vein as Firefly, albeit with a dash of film noir thrown in for good measure. The lost episode was constructed from the Cowboy Bebop video game.
 This one only works if you watch both links in quick succession!
 Yes, I know that the quote underlying this link this comes from a novel satirising the rise of communism in Russia, but when the small time operators have to pay tax whilst large scale companies can avoid it, it’s an apt analogy.
 It turns out that the real life Bedford Falls is the same location in which Elizabeth Cady Stanton would present her feminist speech, The Declaration of Sentiments, which (amongst other things) would go on to inspire this punk classic.