* Power

Unreal wanders into an un-bear-ably raucous party, plans a Missouri escape and visits a local blogger who's worried about Sheryl Crow; plus, our fantastic suggestion for the Mark McGwire Highway

In the wake of Mark McGwire's belly-itcher performance before Congress a few weeks back, local lawmakers and (former) fans have been rethinking the whole Mark McGwire Highway thing. Does St. Louis really want a highway named after an alleged cheater? What does that say to the children? The slugger's defenders, meanwhile, argue that McGwire's innocent until proven guilty.

Unreal has the perfect solution (as always). Rather than drop the moniker, let's simply acknowledge the confusion and change the five-mile stretch of highway to the Mark McGwire Highway*.

"I don't think I've ever seen an asterisk on a highway sign," ventures Missouri Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Miller when we call him with our proposal. "We probably have every keystroke available that's on a computer keyboard, but I'm not sure if the Federal Highway Administration would allow that asterisk."

Miller says he'll do whatever the legislature tells him to. So start sending those cards and letters now.

LOCAL BLOG O' THE WEEK

"M.E.L.T.: Media Environment in Layman's Terms"

www.tobymelt.blogspot.com

Author: Toby Weiss

About the blogger: Toby has two great loves: celebrities, whom she discusses on her blog, and taking pictures of buildings. You can find a large sampling of her work at www.tobyweiss.com.

Recent Highlight (March 10, 2005):

Sometimes, if there isn't a cut line, I have no clue it's Sheryl Crow. Sometimes I mistake her for the gal who played Yola, Chris Isaak's manager on his dearly departed TV series.

Sheryl Crow wants to be A STAR!

No, not a rock star (been there, bored with that). Today, anyone can be that as long as your PR people say so. Miss Crow wants to be A Stahh!As in a cover of any magazine, idol of all demographics, cut my hair like yours, recipes she feeds to her man, when is the doll coming out Mega Celebrity Star Baby.

She's got all the behaviors down, but just can't pull them off with the cool coco butter tanning breeze that true superstardom requires. For instance, what the fuck was she doing on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal talking about surviving depression and Owen Wilson? The typical middle-class SUV soccer Mom reader didn't recognize who it was that broke the heart of "that lady who sings that one song."

And then there's the more recent Look At My Boyfriend appearances. Oprah on a Friday, where she sings her love song (and newest release, naturally) to Lance. Then the Grammy's that Sunday, where she dedicates a god awful dress to him, giggles like a teenager, and makes everyone very uncomfortable. Why does she do these things to herself, and to us?

Sheryl Crow is like the absolutely coolest burnout girl in the high school smoking area deciding to try out for cheerleader while dosing on some powerful microdot. It feels great to her, but we must stop her before she Art Linkletter Daughters off the administration building.

Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to unreal@riverfronttimes.com.

Real Real Gone

Unreal couldn't believe we were stood up by an Internet date the other night. "Hottywittabody" sounded like someone we really could have settled down with. To make ourselves feel better, we curled up in front of the tube. But we sat right back up again when a commercial came on promoting "Missouri Escape." (They even have a Web site, www.missouriescape.com.)

Escaping from Missouri sounded like such a great idea that the very next day we got on the blower to Tracey Berry, communications administrator for Missouri Division of Tourism.

Unreal:What's the idea behind "Missouri Escape"? Can anyone be a part of it, or is it just for convicts?

Tracey Berry: People can enter to win the promotions, they can win prize packages for trips in Missouri -- to places that include Kansas City, St. Louis, Lake of the Ozarks, Rolla, Lebanon, Eminence, Branson and Springfield. There are exclusions for who can be a part of it, like employees. But you can enter, even if you're a convict.

Your prize packages include "The Cultural Escape," "The Outdoor Escape," "The Relaxing Escape," "The Sighteseer's Escape" and "The Thrilling Escape." We understand how thrilling it can be to escape from Missouri culture, but the rest of it is kind of confusing.

I believe our ad agency came up with the prize packages, and these were catchphrases that encompassed what was included.

What's the quickest way to escape from Missouri? Probably across the river into East St. Louis, right? But what if we don't have a car and can't swim -- is there a bus we can take?

From Missouri? We want people to escape toMissouri.

What? Why the flip would anyone want to do that?

I don't think the Division of Tourism would be promoting escapes from Missouri. We want people to come here. The "escape" tagline is because we're giving away a Ford Escape as the grand prize, and that's a hybrid vehicle.

Unbearable

You'd have to be deep in hibernation to have overlooked the fact that St. Louis is "bearquarters" to Build-A-Bear Workshop, the wildly successful chain of teddy-bear emporia that originated here in 1997. Perhaps to her credit, founder Maxine Clark has managed to build a stuffed-toy empire (more than 170 stores in 7 countries) that could never, ever have room for Unreal. Suffice to say that we would have a hard time fitting into a work environment presided over by a woman who refers to herself as "chief executive bear" and one that offers employees "opp-bear-tunities" with titles such as Web develop-bear, admin-bear-strator and compen-bear-sation assistant.

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