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Test Pattern: Five-link Friday returns

Flag-ID game, cuteness galore, "Lost" countdown, rock checks, mug shots of the year

Five-link Friday returns

Oh, five-link Friday, how I've missed you. I've been storing up plenty of random linkage over the holidays, but remember, you can send in links you like too. I give special consideration to anything that makes me laugh, hasn't already been all over the Web, and, if possible, involves snakes on a plane. Just kidding about that last part.

• "Lost" fans who also use Macs, are you longing to recreate in your own home the panicked feeling of the castaways who must enter Hurley's magic numbers every 108 minutes? and enjoy your own number-crunching fun. Don't type them wrong! We don't know what will happen, but ... who can risk it?

• I rarely write checks anymore thanks to the ubiquitousness of places that take debit cards, but I almost wish I did write checks so I could get . I especially like the idea of giving money to your church by writing a KISS or Ozzy check.

• My husband has an impressive knowledge of the flags of the world (hey, everybody needs a hobby), but even he struggled with this . Give it a shot and see how you do. I'm terrible at this, though I do love seeing the answers. Too many tricolors! (Via Metafilter.)

• You may have heard of , the now-popular site feature baby animal photos so adorable that even a hardened Marine may dissolve into baby talk. But if you somehow need even more cute, check out , which is kind of a panda-centric version of the same thing. Whosa widdle biddy baby cutie, now?

• Not everyone is looking back on 2005 happily, as evidenced by the sad faces in the . The best will always be . May your 2006 be better than his 2005.

Snakes on a Plane’

Back from a blissfully long vacation, and I'm looking ahead to what's sure to be the entertainment event of 2006. Of course I'm talking about   currently scheduled for an August theater release.

If you haven't heard of "Snakes," think delicious movie cheese to match that of last year's TV-only   It's a movie whose title says it all, whose title sells the concept, the plot, the pure charm of it. There are snakes! And they're on a plane! Snakes in the oxygen masks that will automatically drop in case of a loss of pressure! Snakes in the barf bags — sorry, the "motion discomfort bags"! Snakes in the tray tables that must be upright and stowed! Snakes! On a plane! The whole concept is golden.

Sure, there's an official plotline. IMDB says "On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who's a witness in protective custody, lets loose a crate full of deadly snakes." But did we need that? Did we need anything other than those four magic title words?

I find my mind reaching back to all the transportation disaster movies of the past — "The Poseidon Adventure," "Airport," even "Speed." It's as if someone holding a vat of those films turned a corner at the movie studio and ran headlong into someone holding a vat of animal attack movies ("The Swarm," "Squirm," that one with the killer ants). The two mixed, and it was the best idea since chocolate met peanut butter or Crockett met Tubbs.

The movie's prospects are only improved by the fact that Samuel L. Jackson is the star. In fact, it's been reported that when the studio wanted to change the movie's name to the oh-so-dull "Pacific Air 121," , saying the name was the reason he took the role. OK, so this might not be true, but I like to think it is. Samuel L. Jackson is no dummy! He saw the pure brilliance in "Snakes on a Plane."

The good citizens of the Web have been embracing "Snakes on a Plane" for months now. (Warning: Almost all the Web links that follow use Samuel L. Jackson's famous compound profanity, if you're swear-word sensitive, don't click though. It comes up a lot in "Snakes" Web references, but it's funny every time.) There are . More A "Snakes on a Plane" . There's a "Snakes on a Plane" (sadly, audio only). There's even a Weblog devoted to .

Some may not understand the wonder that is "S on a P," but I think the owner of the Weblog devoted to it I quote: "Take 'Titanic,' which is not funny, and call it 'Teenagers On A Boat' — that's kinda funny. Add Samuel Jackson and some snakes and call it 'Snakes On A Boat' it's a little more funny. Then change the boat to a plane and for some reason it turns to GOLD. I can't really explain it, but for some reason this movie just works in the worst and best way possible, simultaneously."

In the coming year, there will certainly be plenty of touching, heart-warming, beautifully shot movies, many taking on issues and events that touch our lives and make us smile and cry. But in August, there will be "Snakes on a Plane," and for some of us, that alone is worth hanging in there for the next eight months.