Monitor picks

Tunes with your latte

We've seen the record store of the future ... and it's a Starbucks. The company's plush Hear Music stores, which are slowly being rolled out across the country (current locations include Austin, Seattle, and Miami), allow visitors to sample music while enjoying a beverage. In addition to racks of CDs, the media bars include computer consoles - with noise-canceling headphones - for downloading songs ($.99 per tune) to take away on a customized CD. Any day now there'll be one on every street corner. Until then, see starbucks.com for locations.

Oodles of 'Noodle'

What do you get when you cross "Ferdinand the Bull" with "Madeline?" Noodle, a dachshund with "body issues," as the self-help books put it. One day, Noodle digs up a wishbone and gets a chance to be any shape or size he chooses. Written and illustrated by two greats of children's literature - Munro Leaf and Ludwig Bemelman - this sweet story has just been reissued. Fetch!

Go for the green

If you dream of driving like Tiger, chipping like Ernie, and putting like Phil, first wake up. Then turn on the Golf Channel Mondays at 8:40 p.m. EST for Golf Fitness Academy, your personal swing trainer. Greg Rose and his crack team reveal the strength and conditioning techniques of today's top golfers. Some even stop by to demonstrate their tricks. Brad Faxon's secret to a lower score: Yoga.

Step on the gas prices

Do in one click what US Energy Secretary Sam Bondman says could take three years: Find relief from high gas prices. Go to autos.msn.com, scroll down to "Driving Tools" and click on "gas prices." Plug in your zip code and find nearby stations with the cheapest fuel. Prices are updated daily. With all those saved pennies, maybe you can afford that groovy hybrid.

Saturday morning cartoons

Can't wait for the new Superman movie? Maybe a free comic book will hold you over. This Saturday, May 6, is the fifth annual Free Comic Book Day, designed to promote a wide variety of comics by luring readers out of their bat caves. Choose from more than 25 titles, from Archie to X-Men. Go to freecomicbookday.com for participating locations.

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