Monitor Picks

Marty party

Few people are tuning into Rockstar: INXS (Sundays on VH1, Tuesdays and Wednesdays on CBS). Too bad. The search for the pop band's next lead singer is turning up some front-line talent - especially Marty Casey of Chicago. His alto rasp and fresh arrangements (a dark version of Britney Spears's "Hit Me Baby One More Time") have made for some of the summer's best reality TV. A rock star is born.

The world according to Google

Internet wunderkind Google keeps raising the bar on the cool and useful. With Google Maps (http://maps.google.com) you can zoom in on your house, find hotels or pizza joints in the city you're traveling to, and scroll in real time. There are glitches (it located the church that publishes this paper across the street), but in a world this big, a block off ain't bad.

Francofunkophiles Though they are neither French nor trois (they're actually a quartet from New Orleans), Garage A Trois are très funky and talented. Their second CD, the soundtrack to the movie Outre Mer, is a body-shaking collection of jazz/funk, percolating off the strings of guitarist Charlie Hunter and the lightning hands and feet of drummer Stanton Moore. Add Skerik's stabbing sax figures and Mike Dillon's cool spy-movie vibes and you've got a sound that blows the doors right off the garage.

The best show on TV. Really.

The 1970s series Battlestar Galactica was so dinky that it played like "Bonanza" in space (it, too, starred Lorne Greene). The Sci-Fi Channel's radically reinvented version shares the same premise: A fleet of refugees traverses the galaxy in search of a far-off promised land, Earth. This time, though, it uses the story line as an allegory for the post-9/11 zeitgeist. The characters and plotting are so complex that you'll find other shows like "Lost" comparatively dull. Catch up by renting the miniseries pilot followed by the first season.

Johan solo

If the Minnesota Twins make the playoffs, it will be on the back of pitcher Johan Santana, last year's Cy Young Award winner. On Tuesday he beat the AL-leading Chicago White Sox in a game where his team's anemic offense (third-to-last in the league in runs scored) had just one hit. Over his past three starts he's given up one run in 25 innings, allowing 12 hits while striking out 26. He faces the Texas Rangers on Sunday.

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