Monitor Picks

Five things we think you'll really like.

The winner of March Madness will be....

OK, we're not going out on a limb, but here are some tournament X-factors. Syracuse has become a darling of prognosticators after Gerry McNamara put the Orangemen on his undersized back last week in the Big East tournament. Meanwhile, the future is now for freshman Tyler Hansbrough and the defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels. And four-seed Boston College, loaded with upperclassmen, makes the Eagles a dark horse in the Minneapolis regional.

Good sport

Columnist Bill Simmons puts the entertainment in ESPN. The self-styled Sports Guy has a rabid cult following - and not just for his vast sports knowledge. He's a must-read for his fresh features (extended e-mail dialogues with the likes of Malcolm Gladwell or Mark Cuban) and spot-on pop-culture references (comparing a New England Patriots' loss to when Oliver joined the cast of "The Brady Bunch"). Find him at http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/simmons/

Dean of style

If it's true that you're nobody until somebody loves you, then Dean Martin is somebody millions of times over. This week there's even more to love as 12 of the Rat Packer's albums come to CD, including "This Time I'm Swingin'," arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle. Recorded during his finest period, the disc contains four bonus tracks. Just in time. It defines swing. Nelson Riddle did the arrangments and conducted and he could make me sound good, let alone a croner like Dino. Also, this was one of the last few recordings he did for Capitol before he switched over to Reprise (which was Frank's label ane he was part owner as well) which many of his fans consider his best period.

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Home sweet home improvement

On Flip that House (airing on TLC and Discovery Home) entrepreneurs snatch up a shoddy house, invest thousands in a speedy renovation, and then put the property back on the market. The profits are lucrative but sometimes a renovator's dream can become a contractor's nightmare.

Springfield, UK

To promote a new season of "The Simpsons," a British TV station created a live-action homage to the sitcom's opening sequence. You, too, can see it by searching for it on YouTube.com. The clip is so well-executed - right down to the family's final dash to the couch in front of the TV - that it'll make Bart eat his shorts.

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