Give us a song, piano man

"It's such a strange thing to do," says piano player and composer John Conte of his recent Christmas. So just how did he spend it? By playing 52 hours straight (except for 15-minute breaks every eight hours) at a New York cafe, from the morning of Dec. 24 through 11:50 a.m. on Dec. 26. The keyboard marathon was taped by a documentary filmmaker, who hopes to have it recognized by (who else?) the Guinness Book of Records. But Conte says he had another motive as well: "There was a young woman.... She left.... This was a way to try to get her attention."

Yeah, we know who did it

They may have tried to commit a picture-perfect crime, but for two men who robbed a Vienna photo shop, it was anything but. While one distracted a sales associate, the other nabbed a pricey camera. Alas, in their haste to get away, the pair left behind telltale evidence for police - the vacation photos they'd originally come to pick up.

What's on your wall? Most popular 2003 calendars

There are some 3,000 different calendars available for next year, as publishers increasingly join in what's become a $550 million annual industry. Topics include humor, art, movies, TV shows, animals, and even (warning: shameless self-promotion) the best work of Monitor staff photographers. About 40 percent of calendar sales take place between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The top 10 best- selling titles, according to online site

1. George W. Bush (daily)
2. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (wall)
3. German Shorthaired Pointers (wall)
4. "Harry Potter" movies (wall)
5. The Far Side (wall)
6. 365 Cats (daily)
7. Thomas Kinkade - Painter of Light (wall)
8. "Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers" (wall)
9. Dilbert (daily)
10. FDNY Firefighters (wall) - Associated Press

Quote of the day


- The one-word message that blazed over Sydney harbor as Australia's largest city welcomed the New Year, like many others around the globe, under heightened security due to concerns of possible terrorist attacks.

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