Monitor picks

Five things we think you'll really like.

Mobile-warrior alert

If you want a laptop with the clear graphics that serious video-gamers demand today (and the rest of us will get in a few years) check out Alienware. This past week at E3, the video-game industry's trade show in L.A., Alienware unveiled its latest addition: two graphical processing units (GPU) for twice the power. The m9700 (17-inch screen) is the most affordable unit at just under $2,000. See

'Idol' final

This week's voting results on American Idol induced flashbacks to Florida in the 2000 election. A statistical tie separated the final three, but in the end Elliott Yamin was ousted with 33.06 percent of the vote. If this week is any indication, the distance separating Katharine McPhee and Taylor Hicks during the final (FOX, Tuesday, 8 p.m.) promises to be thisclose.

A sweet read

Who knew there was so much more color behind those pink packets of sugar substitute? From his perch on a disinherited branch of the family tree, Rich Cohen delivers the dishy book Sweet and Low, about how patriarch Ben Eisenstadt converted a tea-bagging machine to one that bagged sugar, and then developed Sweet'N Low. This riotous yarn folds in ambitious, Mark Kurlansky-esque passages on the history of sugar, Brooklyn Jews, and postwar American culture.

Pick this bone

T Bone Burnett has hidden in plain sight for more than a decade as the producer of such projects as the "O Brother Where Art Thou" soundtrack. Now he's back in front of a mike with "The True False Identity," a CD that blends rap, beat poetry, Bob Dylan, blues, reggae, and rock. The roots are there, but the songs - personal and political, dark and hopeful, comic and tragic - are all about this time and place.

The world's highest blog

Paul and Fiona Adler, a young Australian couple, will be having an entirely different sort of weekend from the rest of us: They hope to summit Mt. Everest on May 21. Follow their climb as they post lively blogs and photos at

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