Your kids are clamoring for Halloween cards to send classmates. You're eyeing the price tags and silently cursing the marketing sorcerers at Hallmark.
But wait -- this is 1997. Crank up the computer and point a Web browser to www.bluemountain.com, a site that could help make someone's day -- and evensave a buck.
Blue Mountain dispenses electronic greeting cards, little data bundles that arrive in electronic mailboxes like any other e-mail. Opened with a Web browser, they reveal the sender's message, ornamented with colorful animated images and sound effects.
The site offers about 25 categories of cards, and seems determined to let no holiday go unremarked. Columbus Day cards, anyone?
Its Halloween offerings include a winking pumpkin, cheering trick-or-treaters, skittering bats, fluttering ghosts and flying witches. These are unlikely to enchant teen-agers, but should thrill younger kids.
Part of the fun, after all, is sending them off. Click on a choice, and a simple form appears. Provide the e-mail address of the recipient, and choose your message. Authors can rely on the standard verse or write their own. (It shouldn't be hard to improve on: "Happy Halloween: You batter enjoy it.")
No stamp to lick, just a button to click, and the card is on its way. Depending on e-mail services, it can be at its destination in minutes.
And it's free, every time.
All the classic card categories are here, too, from birthday wishes to graduations, notes of sympathy to apologies. The art is remarkably effective on some offerings, and don't be surprised if Shakespearean love sonnets and Reinhold Neibuhr's poetry make appearances among the verses.