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Free Entertainment

Looking for a little harmless diversion? Cable TV Web sites abound with fun and games, from South Park Pinball to Spot the UFO.
For several years, cable TV has been just as solid in its programming as network television. But when it comes to Web-site games, the networks have fallen woefully behind. ABC, featured here last week, is the only network to offer entertaining diversions. Yet, several cable stations load their sites with time-wasting fun.

Comedycentral.com offers South Park Pinball, which appears, appropriately enough, in the Timewasters area. It offers a pretty realistic feel and look.

Under Fun and Games, Animalplanet.com offers several crossword puzzles and educational trivia quizzes, including Save the Sea Turtle, where each correct answer helps advance one toward the sea.

An affiliate of Animal Planet is The Learning Channel, which has entertaining and educational games, such as Earthquake Simulator and Spot the UFO.

At Discoverychannel.com, you can Build a Rollercoaster, get Onboard the Titanic, or create a mini movie using a template, with Make an Animation.

Two stations geared to children have sites chock full of fun: Nickelodeon's Web site probably has the greatest number of games--dozens, in fact. A close second is The Cartoon Network, which also offers plenty of choices.

TBS offers sports, trivia, and mind games. But we wish they had the good sense to remove the mind game, Nowhere to Land, based on one of its original movies; in it, you "save the plane by disarming a dangerous device. If you run out of time, you're toast!"

Another Ted Turner station, Turnerclassicmovies.com, offers four film-trivia games. You'll also find several trivia games at American Movie Classics' site.

Jigsaw puzzles, trivia, crosswords, and more--all with a music spin--are available at VH1.com.

Finally, find out which Golden Girl you resemble in one of the games on Lifetime's site. The site, "where women click," also offers an "Any Day Now" trivia game, a "Doc Talk Decoder" (where you pick out real medical jargon from balderdash), and a movie-madness game that allows you to create your own film synopsis by filling in blanks.