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What is news is entertainment and what is entertainment is, apparently, news. When Bruce Springsteen's people announced last week that the rocker is going to -- gasp! -- actually perform in Denver on March 30, The Denver Post featured the breaking news on the front page.

But the news was not about how expensive the tickets might be or any other angle that could be construed as news -- unless you count how fast the tickets were expected to sell. Yet front-page "news" it was.

Not to be outdone, the G ran its own Springsteen angle -- teasing it on the Sunday, Jan. 30, front page, then devoting a huge front-page Metro story to the upcoming concert (never mind the show won't even be in Colorado Springs). The story even featured pull-out sidebars on what to do if you weren't able to secure tickets (keep trying!) and a "timetable" of a Springsteen fan in pursuit of tickets. Here it is.

5:30 a.m. arrive at ticket outlet.

8 a.m. line for ticket lottery forms.

10 a.m. official sale begins.

11 a.m. seats secured.

Now that's entertainment!

And here's more from the news-lite department. Our local TV anchors really delivered some strong stuff when reporting the "best commercials of the Superbowl" after last Sunday's Big Game. In an award-winning moment, Channel 13 reporter Joe Ferdani detailed the favorites, including one for a Subaru Outback and another about the trials of herding cats.

"A lot of people in the newsroom really liked it!" he divulged.

This week, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners agreed to cut a $50,000 check, courtesy of the taxpayers, to the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. And the cash wasn't to sign up Sheriff John Wesley Anderson for a platinum membership to the civil rights organization.

Instead, the settlement was to pay for lawyers' fees stemming from the ACLU's lawsuit over the use of The Restrainer, a wooden board designed to immobilize prisoners at Anderson's two jails. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of eight inmates immediately after the death of inmate Michael Lewis in 1998, alleged that prisoners were being strapped onto the devices for far too long, without proper medical supervision and -- in violation of policy -- to discipline prisoners.

At the time, Anderson claimed the board was perfectly safe, even after the coroner ruled that the board was partially to blame for Lewis' death.

Anderson continued to insist the board was safe after he halted its use for a year when a law enforcement magazine cautioned against strapping prisoners face down on the floor. And he continued his safe, safe, safe rap when he stopped using them for good in 1999, claiming that, at some time in the future, replacement velcro straps for the boards would no longer be available.

All but one of the $800 boards (the sheriff had eight) have since been sawed in half. The remaining board will be used as an exhibit in future lawsuits against the sheriff and his jailers.

Even after the long ACLU lawsuit, the sheriff's mouthpieces insisted in a published report this week that they would have prevailed in the court case. So, who knows, perhaps the county commissioners just gave the cash to the ACLU because of their admiration for the organization.

The famous Mr. Blackwell, chronicler of the best- and worst-dressed celebrities since 1960, weighs in on the important topic of presidential duds in this week's on-line magazine, Salon (www.salonmagazine.com).

And you thought all of those presidential candidates looked exactly the same.

According to Mr. Blackwell: "To be honest, every one of the wannabe nominees favors the tried-and-true traditional look with some important variations. On the whole, they have embraced the dark suit, dress shirt and tie classic combo that works for some and flops for others. There is nary a nose-ring devotee in the bunch -- at least we've got that to be thankful for!"

Democrats take note. Bill Bradley ("He resembles a bored banker with too much starch in his shirt") and Al Gore ("The ultimate Beltway bore in clone-like suits, shirts and ties that pack the fashion punch of Jimmy Carter's cardigan") top the worst-dressed list. GOP fashion disasters include Steve Forbes ("A worn-out wax dummy"), Gary Bauer ("Looks like a cut-rate mortician"), and Pat Buchanan ("He resembles a rumpled, crumpled dishrag").

But Republicans can take hope. On the best-dressed list: Alan Keyes ("He's trying to liven up the lethally low-key fashion landscape"), George W. Bush ("A fashion front-runner"), John McCain ("Looking conservative without boring the pants off couture critics"), and Orrin Hatch ("Naturally, the snappiest one in the bunch just dropped out of the race").

-- degette@csindy.com

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