We drag the river for stuff you didn't know you were missing.

Not So Bright 

We really shouldn't bash the new Kansas City Star. After all, it is brighter. And bolder.

But more than a week after unveiling the nearly Pitch-sized Star, yellowing copies of the paper still littered lawns all over the metro. In an effort to show off the paper's new, $200 million printing press, the Star set out to print a copy for every household and delivered 375,000 copies, according to publisher Mac Tully. Apparently, the papers even went to places that are abandoned — or where homeowners are averse to removing them from their lawns.

"I've only heard one complaint — but, I'm sure there were more," Tully writes in an e-mailed response to questions from the Pitch. "If people call us to complain, we're happy to come get their copy out of their yard. There are suburban papers all over the metro area that throw free papers every week, so this isn't really a new thing."

Not long after the mass littering, the paper held a Wednesday afternoon shindig for local VIPs to officially welcome the new presses. Local hotshots, including stadium-tax trumpeter Steve Glorioso, sipped icy beverages under a tent set up smack in the middle of McGee. Apparently not invited, however, were Star employees. Some crashed the event anyway. Whereas visitors wore printed nametags, employees hand-wrote their names on badges they wore while eating hors d'oeuvres served in endive leaves.

Then, on Friday, the Star's presses ground to a halt. The paper posted this message Friday afternoon: "Due to production issues connected with The Star's new printing plant, a number of newspapers were delivered late today. Some were still being delivered this morning. The Star apologizes for the inconvenience."

But perhaps the oddest thing in the new fish wrapper came on day two. That Tuesday, the FYI section dreamed up some proposed local superheroes. Among them was a dude called "Bi Guy." The article said his powers help "Missourians see things through Kansans' eyes and vice versa." Memo to entendre-challenged FYI editors: "Bi Guy" has more than one meaning. Ah, the new Star. Brighter! Bolder! Still out of touch!

The Winner: Blond Bartenders

We suffered an awesome case of déjà vu recently when we checked out Maxim magazine's online Hometown Hotties contest. Expecting to cast a vote in the ever-important race for the nation's sexiest girl next-door, we actually recognized many of the contestants. And no, not just from our dreams.

Eight contenders for amateur minx of the year also pose for BabeXtreme, a Wichita-based modeling agency that supplies buxom gals for car hoods at the National Hot Rod Association PowerAde Series and World of Wheels at Bartle Hall. This year's crop included two Kansas Citians, Randi Silvers and Katrina Volonino. Silvers also appears on the cable reality show The Real Gilligan's Island.

Three other women, from Springfield, St. Louis and Denver, cracked the top 100 and will be finalists in the July issue of Maxim.

We asked BabeXtreme's owner, Jason Caldwell, 36, what makes his girls so hot.

What is the criteria to be a BabeX model?

To be a BabeXtreme, you've got to be a babe and you've got to handle extreme conditions sometimes. The three criteria: beautiful face, body and charisma. I don't like quiet, meek and mild. I like some girls with some attitude who can interact with our fanbase, who don't have such a high opinion of themselves that they won't be friendly.

How many potential BabeXtremes tried out last year?

[Caldwell taps on a calculator.] Wow, that can't be right. [More tapping.] Jesus, it adds up quicker than I thought. We see in tryouts approximately 1,400 girls a year.

Why is Kansas City such a good recruiting ground?

The girls just have a little extra sparkle. They are good-looking but they are just more friendly and outgoing than girls in New York, Los Angeles or Miami, and they have a little more attitude. They're just so much more real. When I'm at the bar, I'm always on the lookout for a good piece of talent.

How do you improve your models' chances to be a Hometown Hottie?

We have some suggestions for the girls [in the application process]. Most girls list [their marital status as] "single." That always seems to be the winner. Their "preferred celebrity status" is model. All of our winners seem to be shot in the tropical-beach setting. It's like a somewhat provocative pose but not too much over the edge. For their job, we really encourage them to list "bartender" because everyone loves a bartender. A bartender is everyone's friend.

So most of your models are former bartenders?

No. It seems the most common occupation as far as our girls is Hooters.

Any similarities among year's finalists?

The common size and type of girl is 5 feet 6 and 115 pounds. The winners are all blond.

So, dude, are you single?

I'm definitely single. Believe it or not ... I probably don't enjoy it [the job] nearly as much as people think. It kind of gets into a family situation. You get tired of people after days on the road.

Ever mix business with pleasure?

I try not to, but I'm not going to comment. I won't say that it's impossible. I try not to do so, but when you're on the road with a bunch of beautiful girls and you're a single guy? Every now and then, things happen. Maybe they don't happen as often as you'd like.

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