popular thinking

hopelessly devoted to deconstructing popular culture and conventional wisdom, one blog at a time

The search for the next new Pussycat Doll

They're already looking for another new Pussycat Doll? Apparently. Auditions begin May 9. Good luck.

By the way, thanks for everyone coming here looking to know why Sandra McCoy is not one of the Pussycat Dolls. I'm the top search item for that. Who knew?

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Are best-selling authors on Craigslist?

Good question. If you're a best-selling author, and can prove it with two major books, why would you be looking for your next project on Craigslist? Good luck.

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New newspaper readership numbers

The folks at Scarborough Research published their updated national findings on print and online news readership in most metro markets of the U.S. So what should we make of these numbers?

Depends upon what you're looking for, really. Here are the numbers for the Boston market, with a measured potential area population of 4,783,000.

Boston Globe
Weekly print readers (people who picked up the paper at least once in the survey week)
Print market penetration
Weekly online readers (people who clicked on Boston.com once or more in the survey week)
Online market penetration
Total readership (factoring in people who read both print and online)
Total penetration

Boston Herald
Weekly print readers
Print market penetration
Weekly online readers
Online market penetration
Total readership
Total penetration

Those numbers almost mirror the situation in similarly-sized Dallas/Fort Worth, with the Dallas Morning News the primary read and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the secondary read. Although Boston.com's online penetration is better than most other large-market news sites (though slightly less than WashingtonPost.com).

Read the numbers another way, though, and you could say that 37 percent of Boston's populace doesn't pick up either the Globe or the Herald (though likely more considering at least a few percent had read both papers during the week). What are they reading? The Metro? The new BostonNOW? A smaller community newspaper? No papers at all? It'd be good to see those numbers, too. Especially since Scarborough did include suburban paper stats for some of the other major metros. Argh.

I'll be curious to learn what Dan Kennedy makes of these stats, considering he has been arguing that media observers need to factor online readers in newspaper circulation analysis (by the way, the next circulation reports will come out early next week). And then we can fret some more about the present and future status of the American newspaper.

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Spider-Man 3: First impressions

So I just got back from a preview screening of Spider-Man 3 and, well, hmmm, how do I put this? Not ready to publish a full review yet (unlike the New York Post, which already ran its 3-of-4-stars critique yesterday!), especially since I have a story idea or two to pitch. But first impressions? Sure thing. The film didn't resonate as well emotionally or storywise as the second Spidey flick, and didn't have a memorable maxim like the first Spidey had ("With great power comes great responsibility."), although it sure trotted out more than a few cliches in trying. Did have some very funny scenes from supporting and bit players (particularly J.K. Simmons, Elizabeth Banks and Bruce Campbell, who appears in a hilariously awkward cameo). And you remember at times why you like this comic-book superhero franchise more than others. Be sure to come back for more Spidey 3 fun closer to the film's May 4 opening.

In the meantime, seven minutes of footage to whet your appetite...



Sunday, April 22, 2007: Red Sox 7, Yankees 6
My seat: Field Box 43, Row G, Seat 7
(Nine rows behind home plate)

A blurry cameraphone view from my seat in the ninth inning.

These nice Korean students hung out with me in line for 3 1/2 hours on Sunday to get game-day tickets. They're in Boston studying English. They bought all of those T-shirts that afternoon. They took lots of pictures. And they brought me a hot dog! Thanks!

What a great day to watch the Red Sox sweep the Yankees out of Fenway Park, the first time they've done that since 1990. Almost perfect weather. And how about that back-to-back-to-back-to-back home run derby! A Red Sox first, and only the fifth time that's ever happened in Major League Baseball. Ever. So sweetly surreal. Finally, Dice-K got some run support, and he needed it last night since it was his roughest outing so far this young season. He didn't have great control. Left some pitches high and right, which certainly helps explain why he hit both Jeter and A-Rod. Almost all of the hits off Dice-K came off lefthanded batters. No worries, though, as Papelbon came in to take care of the ninth inning. How desperate was Joe Torre, though, to win last night's game, bringing Pettitte in for the sixth? Anyhow. Wow. What a game. I'm so glad I decided to try to get a ticket. And what a ticket I got, nine rows directly behind home plate. No scalping required. All I had to do was follow the Fenway day-of-game ticket sales rules. Learned this last year when I got tickets for Father's Day, although the rules seem to have slightly changed. Each game, the Red Sox release about a couple of hundred scattered tickets two hours before the first pitch. You need to get an official white slip from Red Sox workers while in line to verify you were in line. You're not supposed to start forming the line until five hours before the game, although when I arrived on Lansdowne Street at 3:30 p.m. (4 1/2 hours before), there already were a couple of hundred folks lined up along the sidewalk between Gate E and Gate C. Still, I figured it was worth a shot. And I had a magazine and my iPod to pass the time. About an hour into the wait, the group of Korean students who showed up right after me began talking me up, asking me to pose in pictures with them and calling me their friend. How nice of them. As I noted above, they even offered me a hot dog and some sips from their sodas. Anyhow. The ticket line began moving at 6 p.m., but we didn't make it to the window until just after 7 p.m. But we made it. The guy in the booth said he still had seats ranging from $27 to $110 available. He could read the stunned look on my face and added that he had a $105 ticket behind home plate. Sold! The Koreans ended up getting 11 tickets together at the top of the grandstand above first base. As for my seat, the season-ticketholders in my section said I got the seat the Red Sox holds for scouts. No scouts needed for Sox-Yanks in April! Behind me sat a guy from the commissioner's office (apparently there to monitor the umps or something) and the stadium's official radar gun guy. He had an extra seat for his computer, in which he'd input each pitch type and speed to go up on the big scoreboard. An ESPN radar guy sat four rows directly in front of me. It was a great seat. I only wished I had my actual digital camera, because my cameraphone could only produce that blurry image above. When I got home, I saw on the highlights that my seat barely made it into the ESPN's camera shot, although sometimes my fuzzy face got obscured by the score line at the top of the screen. Regardless, I'm so glad I decided to make a night of it at Fenway. It's comforting to know that even when it comes to Sox-Yanks, you still can make a game-day decision to go and be rewarded for it.
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Identity vs. Deal or No Deal

Between the two NBC game shows? No contest. If you had a chance to be on either Identity or Deal or No Deal, pick Identity. In only 10 episodes and 15 games, Identity already has produced three grand prize $500,000 winners. All you have to do is remember your stereotypes. And if that's too tricky, the mystery people will help you by dressing their parts so you really can judge their proverbial books by their covers. And if that's too tricky, then the game show gives you three helping hands, including one free mistaken guess. Last Friday, a guy from Norwood, Mass., became the third winner. Meanwhile, over on Deal or No Deal, there's no skill involved at all -- simply lucky suitcase pickings. And what do contestants have to show for it? Usually less than $100,000. Unless they pick a top-prized case. And even then, they still haven't taken home the million.

For $500,000, can you guess which one of these two women is the prison guard? Eggsactly.


Media ambulance chasing Virginia Tech survivors

If you're a Virginia Tech student who survived this week's shootings and decide to blog about it, get ready for lots of media requests for interviews. See Exhibit A (Via Gawker). The requests run from bad to worse to obscene. Yes, journalists want to talk to survivors of any tragedy. I once had to talk to the parents of a small child who had died hours earlier, and I felt awkward and intrusive...but at the same time, you have to be sensitive to the grieving process. In some cases, allowing survivors and loved ones of victims to speak can be quite cathartic for them. I learned that, too, while working an obits beat at one paper. In other cases, survivors shouldn't be forced to talk more than they already have -- if they didn't included it in their blog post, they obviously aren't ready to share more. Some of the media covering the Virginia Tech shootings still need to learn some of these lessons.

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Sanjaya out; Idol fix is in...again

Yeah, I typed it. Nary 24 hours after Simon Cowell said we'd had our fun with Sanjaya Malakar, guess who got voted out in seventh place on American Idol tonight? Sanjaya. Coincidence? Methinks not. Especially since Sanjaya remained the darling anti-candidate of both Vote for the Worst and Howard Stern's radio fans. Of course, we never heard the vote results tonight. We never do. That's convenient, isn't it?

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BostonNOW vs. Boston Metro, Day One

So Tuesday, April 17, 2007, marked the first paper edition of BostonNOW, the city's latest free daily commuter paper, clearly taking on Boston's Metro, the city's first free daily commuter paper. Let's take a look at how the two papers stacked up today.

Pages: 24
Cover: Local enterprise story on Logan flight delays
Locally written news stories: Greatest Party preview feature, note from the publisher, business feature on local guy's puzzle store, Logan flight delay story
Wire stories: Turnpike Authority kills Fast Lane contract, state briefs, gas price update, House fights Patrick on anti-smoking funds, More Patrick staff shuffling, Mitt flips view on Hillary's "village" concept, Globe wins Pulitzer, VT shootings, storm, national briefs, Russia wants to extradite tycoon from Britain, Sudan allows UN troops, Iran defies sanctions, world briefs
Special section: N/A
Listings: Free ice cream from Ben & Jerry's today, tells you Harry & the Potters are in town tonight
Op-Ed features: Blog briefs, Alan Dershowitz op-ed (from Christian Science Monitor?), note from editor asking for your blog opinions
Puzzles: Crossword and Sudoku
Horoscope: Paragraphs plus today's birthday
Entertainment section: Preview feature on MFA's "Art in Bloom," interesting newsworthy item on how DVRs and TiVo impact "Lost" more than any other primetime TV show, feature on "Surviving the Nian" at the BCA, review of "The New Brain" at Cambridge YMCA, DVD review of "Red Sox Baby," preview of Champions on Ice at TD Banknorth Garden, Five Questions with Jazz Boston's Jason Palmer
Novelette: Part I of serial fiction page (with note at bottom asking for your 1,500-word entries)
Movie times: Today's listings for Boston and the suburbs
Gossip page: Wire on British Royals, entertainment briefs, local piece questioning BCN Rumble finalists
Lifestyle page: N/A
Sports: Wire on Boston Marathon, brief from Ch. 5 sports guys "Open Mikes",
Back of the book: Outbound page, which includes editor's Top 10 things he likes best about Boston (asking readers to submit their Top 10s), "best" Web diversions, online shopping tips, and a skin-care tip.
Back page: Ad for TJ Maxx.

Boston Metro
Pages: 32
Cover: Localized wire story on Virginia Tech shootings.
Locally written news stories: *Storm, T Riders Union, MIT students react to VT shootings, interview with Webby Awards
Wire stories: Globe wins Pulitzer, more on VT shootings, Wall Street recap
Special section: Education Guide, 12 pages
Listings: If you like Phish, you'd have learned that Page McConnell was in town signing his solo CD debut today. Knew today was Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's (bad timing for ice cream, though).
Op-Ed features: Caption contest, person on street debate about why fewer young Mass. residents volunteer compared to other states.
Puzzles: Crossword and Sudoku.
Horoscope: One-liners, akin to fortune cookie statements.
Entertainment section: *Preview of Sundance Channel's "The Green," review of "Valhalla" at BCA, interview with Mike White of "Year of the Dog," celebrity column, brief preview of Smoosh concert, DVD reviews.
Lifestyle page: Spa tips, advice column, exercise tip.
Sports section: Parts of three pages, with Red Sox game story and sidebar, sports briefs, wire on Boston Marathon.
Back of the book: Medical research ads.
Back page: Ad for Citizens Bank.
*some Metro bylines may not be from Boston staff

Day One has to go to BostonNOW, but anything else would've been bad news, because the upstart had plenty of time to plan for its launch edition. Let's check back in a week or two, or perhaps a month, to see how the two free commuter papers fare when compared.

On the Web, BostonNOW clearly wins, but that's because the Metro doesn't even try to draw online readers. It's all about picking up the product for them. Which is all well and good, but BostonNOW also has a clear vision for being a new kind of paper, and wants to draw upon local bloggers, and so, well, it has to be viable online as well as in print. An ambitious -- some might say audacious -- proposition. But someone has to try it, right?


The T is up for a Webby? Really?

I must be imagining this, because the T's Web site is up for an official Webby award as the best government site.

If only the MBTA could be as successful getting its trains to run on time. Or if it could tell me why I need to use paper Charlie tickets for my passes instead of my plastic Charlie card. Or if it could explain the Silver Line to me one more time.

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Who is K-Fed's brunette lady friend?

Can you ID this mystery brunette woman who spent the night with Kevin Federline on Friday, April 13, in Boston?

She came and left Boston's Gypsy Bar with Federline and his small entourage, which included muscle man Mike and dancing buddy Eddie Morales. But as you can see here, she definitely had Federline's ear on Friday night.

Maybe this photo from my friend Drea will help. Here you can see the brunette woman posing with Eddie Morales, backup dancer for Justin Timberlake's current concert tour and good friend to Federline. Do you recognize her?

And here is a photo from Drea showing Federline working the ropes at the bar, and the club's patrons do seem pleased to meet him, wouldn't it appear? Pictured in the center is Kali, her eyes locked on Federline, who told me she was celebrating her 21st birthday at the club. I got her into the VIP area, where she shared a birthday shot with Federline. Don't worry. He didn't get her pregnant! And the club managed to get their man into both the Liquor Store and Match that night, too (both clubs also owned by Kevin Troy), which hopefully makes up for the time Federline ditched his February appearance in Boston to attend Justin Timberlake's VIP pre-Grammy party instead! All's well that ends well, right?
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Extra's interview with Amy Murphy

The show Extra claimed the first interview today with Amy Murphy, Richard Jeni's girlfriend. Video and transcript here.

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To all the Sanjaya haters

So it's another results night tonight for the final 8 on American Idol, and everyone with a case of real and/or mock outrage about Sanjaya Malakar and his continued presence on the show needs to get a grip. No. Really. You act as if this has never happened before! You need to take a trip with me in the Not So Way Back Machine for some Idol reminiscing...

2006: Season 5
Remember Kevin Covais? He of the "Chicken Little" nickname? He made it to 11th on the show, despite having precious "little" vocal range -- actually, it was probably how precious he looked that kept him around that far, but really, why Simon, Paula and Randy let him advance as far as he did must make you wonder. But then again, Bucky Covington? Bucky couldn't sing anything outside of the country music genre. His official bio admitted he lacked any vocal training. He had a twin brother who got almost as much air time by the end. And that end was 8th place. Eighth. Just as long as Malakar so far.

2005: Season 4
This was the year that Vote for the Worst really got its groove going, trumpeting Scott Savol -- a guy who looked like he was more than one woman's baby daddy on his bad days (and had a criminal record for domestic abuse) -- and getting him through to May sweeps, where he finished in 5th place. When Savol advanced ahead of Constantine Maroulis, fans launched an online petition demanding a recount. Runner-up Bo Bice also had a criminal record. Earlier that season, Idol producers rebroadcast an entire show and held a new vote after botching the phone numbers for three of its then-11 finalists. Executive producer Ken Warwick told reporters (including me) in a conference call: "After four years of everything being perfect, you just take your eye off the ball for a second.'' Um, not quite perfect. Considering finalist Mario Vasquez mysteriously left the show (he has recently been accused of sexually harrassing a male Idol employee!) before that revote, we're not buying it. Plus Warwick glosses over and pretends past imperfections never happened. Which leads us to...

2004: Season 3
A power outage in contestant Jennifer Hudson's hometown of Chicago may have cost her last year's Idol. No revote occurred. Hudson gets the boot (later gets an Oscar!), while Elton John accused Idol's voting methods of being racist, and Fox confirmed it had a policy to combat so-called power-dialers from stuffing the ballot box. Nevertheless, 17-year-old Jasmine Trias lasts all the way to third place -- THIRD! -- thanks not to her sweetheart smile but (if you're to believe the story) most of Hawaii voting for her en masse. Hudson finished in seventh. Sixth place that year went to 16-year-old red-head John Stevens, who, much like Sanjaya, had a similar slight crooner singing voice. In fact, that's all Stevens really had. Crooning. Gentle crooning. So if Sanjaya beats out LaKisha this week or next, it'll be just like 2004 all over again. Don't say you weren't warned.

2003: Season 2
Before he was claiming an affair with Paula Abdul, finalist Corey Clark was busy getting disqualified in ninth place because he faced assault charges. Idol gave the other eight singers a pass to the next week, despite some questionable singing. Fellow finalist Trenyce also got a free pass then, even though her previous theft conviction never came up when she told Idol she couldn't think of a most embarrassing moment. She still finished fifth. Two other semifinalists that year got the boot. Frenchie Davis could have won if not for topless photos she posed for years beforehand, while semifinalist Jaered Andrews was knocked out for his involvement in a fatal fight. And then, of course, there was the famous finale in which host Ryan Seacrest jumbled up the still-unknown vote totals, prompting fans to whisper and form conspiracy theories about who really won: Ruben Studdard or Clay Aiken?

2002: Season 1
If you've caught any episodes of American Idol Rewind, the syndicated do-over of the original season, then you probably wonder how in the heck we got the finalists we got. And you saw that Tamyra Gray pulled off the "And I'm Telling You, I'm Not Going" cover trick long before Hudson or LaKisha or any of the other wannabes. And then you remember how you voiced a certain outrage when she went from frontrunner to fourth place in an instant. Kelly Clarkson has managed to have a great post-Idol career. But that original season also brought us the less-than-perfect, wholly forgettable movie, From Justin to Kelly.

Now you're all caught up. Try not to be too shocked tonight, no matter what happens.

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So I could get hired for this?

Even the Wall Street Journal suggests that blogging leads to employment. Maybe I should apply for a job there?! Yes. Maybe I shall.

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New York Times, on heckling

Jamie Kennedy's new documentary, Heckler, prompts the New York Times to explore the proliferation of heckling both in public and online. Ugh. Now I know why my Arizona friend enforced a strict no-heckling policy in his club, with bouncers showing up at your table to warn you first, then escort you out the door if you continued.

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Mass. is home to funny moms

Just look at the list of 13 comedians in this season's Funniest Mom in America contest from Nick at Nite, which debuts at 9 p.m. Tuesday. At least four of them come from Massachusetts...

Jan Davidson
Kim DeShields (advance local press here)
Janine Hayes
Andrea Henry (or on MySpace)

This season should also prove interesting because, unlike most other reality contests, this one includes at least two headlining comedians with long lists of credits to their names (Cathy Ladman and Carole Montgomery).

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American Idol: The Top 8

I've had to catch up on my Idol watching these past couple of weeks, but thanks to my DVR, it's all been there waiting for me (and not in a Richard Marx way, thank you very much, Mr. Phil Stacey). Anyhow. That's not the point. The point is, most people in the mainstream media are paying way too much attention to Sanjaya Malakar and wondering aloud if he'll ruin the show along with the folks from Vote for the Worst. EW even has a chat with VFTW's creator online. Hello?! Have you looked at the VFTW site ever before this season? They "won" last season by getting Taylor Hicks selected as last year's Idol, even though Chris Daughtry and even Katharine McPhee or Elliott Yamin deserved it more. And did the world end? Not quite. Did Idol's producers change the voting procedure? Not one bit. Although the vote results still and always have been kept a privately private secret...which is my No. 1 pet peeve (on a long list of peeves) about the show that I and everyone else continues to watch. That, and, well, we want to see who's going to win.

So who will become the next American Idol?

My thoughts...I've ranked them here, although any of these first four singers has what it takes.
1. Melinda Doolittle: Undeniably the best singer of the bunch. She knocks every song out of the proverbial park. If only she'd stop with the looks of shock at every compliment. This woman has backed up superstars and knows she should be one, too. Maybe someone told her that if she looked surprised at her success, it'd keep the votes coming.
2. Blake Lewis: Undeniably the most creative of the bunch. Overcame (or has made solid use of) his beat-boxing auditions to show he'll make any song sound current. Pretty much the best guy in the final 8. Could sneak past Doolittle if she fails to keep fans power-dialing for her.
3. Jordin Sparks: Undeniably the most energetic and happiest to be in the running, which makes sense since, at 17, she's also the youngest contestant left (along with Sanjaya). Unlike past teens, she hasn't shirked from the spotlight and actually seems to get better each week. If Doolittle weren't so good, Sparks would be the one getting all the kudos.
4. Chris Richardson: This guy acts like he is doing his homework. In the early weeks, he cribbed from the Yamin playbook. Now he's also showing he can do anything Lewis can do in turning old classics into new hip tunes. All of which means he could go much farther if he keeps this up.

Close, but no No. 1 single
5. LaKisha Jones: Very good in her zone, anything powerful and R&B. But you don't get the sense that she's got a lot of tricks up her sleeves, so to speak. One of these themed weeks is bound to trip her up before the finale. Think of her as this year's Mandisa.
6. Sanjaya Malakar: Yeah, I wrote it. Sanjaya will stick around for a couple of weeks, perhaps, but he ain't going to be around at the end, and if he is, well, you get what you vote for, right? The kid is 17 and acts it. He did have a good initial audition with a sweet singing voice. But he's lapping all of this attention up. The hair. The antics. Did you see him welcome Simon to his universe this week? Well, you couldn't hear him because Seacrest kept yapping over him. But the thing is, he's entertaining to watch, for better or worse. If only his sister had made the final 12! Then we'd really have a national conversation.

Ain't gonna happen
7 (tie). Haley Scarnato: She looked hot and sang well in her initial audition, then became forgettable, then tried to adopt the McPheever fan-base with revealing outfits and flirty-girl performances. It's kept her in the game this long. But not much longer.
7 (tie). Phil Stacey: Hits the big notes. Needs a stylist. Not much more to say, really. Which is why he's on his way out. Unless he outlasts Scarnato. Hence the tie.

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Updated online newspaper circulation stats

Nielsen/NetRatings released its roundup of Web visitor stats for February 2007, and its top 30 begins with some usual suspects: The New York Times had a big lead with 12.9 million unique visitors and more than 455 million page views in February, followed by USA Today, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal (even though the WSJ restricts most of its stories and data for paid online subscribers, which should provide evidence that if you have something people really want, they will pay for it online). Thanks to Editor and Publisher for getting the data, which follows similar findings by the Newspaper Association of America.

The top 10 in visitors for February 2007
NYTimes.com: 12,960,000
USATODAY.com: 9,050,000
washingtonpost.com: 8,030,000
LA Times: 4,546,000
Wall Street Journal Online: 3,436,000
The Houston Chronicle: 3,292,000
SFGate.com: 3,236,000
Boston.com: 3,197,000
Chicago Tribune: 2,973,000
New York Post: 2,684,000
(*11. Daily News Online Edition: 2,555,000 -- They redesigned the site in March)

The top 10 in page views
NYTimes.com: 455,527,000
USAToday.com: 169,517,000
Washingtonpost.com: 154,836,000
Houston Chronicle: 93,737,000
Boston.com/Boston Globe: 57,154,000
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 54,994,000
SFGate.com: 51,617,000
LA Times: 50,986,000
Chicago Tribune: 45,283,000
Wall Street Journal: 42,067,000

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Dolls and Pats: Rolling VIP

'Tis true. I went to Gypsy Bar on Friday night for the Pussycat Dolls VIP afterparty and didn't get a picture of me with any of the Dolls, not even Nicole (with whom I spoke all-too-briefly and much-too-late in the evening, but that's my fault for not stepping up). I did get this amusing shot of me with Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs (he's on the right!), who couldn't have been a nicer guy. He told me about how text messaging is taking over actual cell phone calls, how he relies on his Treo, and how he doesn't think he'd ever be seen rapping or singing like the Dolls anytime soon. He and I also got to talk to Melody (whom I didn't know was from Phoenix, because if I had, that would've opened up another avenue of discussion, but that's my fault, too). And I tried to get the scoop from Ashley about the new Doll. All she told me was that, 1) the new Doll wouldn't start getting broken in until after the show is over, and 2) that there is no boot camp. "The show is boot camp enough," she told me. What else? Oh, I put the rest in a blurb that ran in yesterday's Names column (third item) of the Boston Globe.
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24: Spoiler Alert!!!

Here is your 24 spoiler alert...It's spoiled! All spoiled. This show has finally lost it beyond repair. Where is the suspense? Where is the logic? Even a cougar and the return of Kim Bauer (see: Season 2) would help bring this show back from the depths of desperation. So the president comes out of a coma to turn back a coup from his vice president, only to launch the nuclear strike the VP wanted...to the UNNAMED COUNTRY that's fighting us? The big bad terrorist gets caught in a blue-collar bar? Don't worry, though, because previews show us his bad bad friends will launch an escape plan for him? Where have we seen that before? Where have we seen all of this before? And what about all of those people dying in California from nuclear fallout? I guess they're not important right now. The previews for next week also show Jack Bauer getting shot (though apparently in his bulletproof vest). Yawn, yawn, yawn. What about Jack's evil dad? And his wacko sister-in-law who's in love with him? And his nephew/son? And that soap opera back in CTU? And what about the former First Family? Seriously, this nonsense is out of hand. Yes, every season of 24 has its leaps of logic. But this one...seriously.

Why couldn't they have simply done the sensible thing and make this season all about getting Bauer out of that Chinese prison...but that would've taken some actual initiative.

Or perhaps it woudd've looked too much like that other silly suspense show on FOX that precedes it, Prison Break.

At least now I know I don't have to worry about what to watch at 9 p.m. Mondays anymore.


Photos: Shane Mauss does Conan

5 p.m., March 21: Shane Mauss in his dressing room

12:30 a.m., March 22: Shane checks his e-mails as Dan Boulger, Rob O'Reilly and Maggie MacDonald get excited for the show

1:30 a.m., March 22: It's Shane and friends, watching Shane on TV

1:35 a.m., March 22: A toast, for he's a jolly good comedian
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Red Sox: Play ball!

Yeah, yeah, yeah...The Mets and Cardinals played for reals last night, but as far as us in Red Sox Nation are concerned, it's all real today, in Kansas City. The 2007 Boston Red Sox season begins at 4:10 p.m. Eastern with new leadoff hitter and shortstop Julio Lugo facing the first pitch. Curt Schilling gets the start. Good luck, boys!

The action is on NESN, ESPN, WRKO-AM (680). Check your local listings for other outlets.


Dan Kennedy should blog about this today

Another report suggests that the youngsters are reading newspapers -- online, anyhow. The Newspaper Association of America says its data shows online paper sites have increased views and visitors by 13.7 percent in the 25-34 demo, and by 9.2 percent in the 18-24 bracket. Boston media critic Dan Kennedy often argues that combining the online and print readership shows the news ain't all bad for the newspaper companies. What do you say?

Updated/related: The Seattle Times continues speculation that its competition, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, will go online-only if their JOA breaks.

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Connection between news and booze?

Say it ain't so?! Well, this former Seattle journalist -- now UW professor -- says it is so: Journalism and alcohol (and other drugs) go hand in woozy hand. His study? Mostly anecdotal. Highly skewed. And I don't mean that kind of high. But, of course, there is some truth to it.


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