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Originally published August 19, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified August 19, 2007 at 11:39 AM

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Put your money on beers, H&M and firemen

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds spent much of the '90s working with superstars like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Madonna, but you'd never...

Seattle Times columnist

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds spent much of the '90s working with superstars like Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson and Madonna, but you'd never know it from his demeanor as he faced a roomful mostly of corporate types from Nordstrom, Starbucks and Amazon at the W Hotel.

"I do all this rambling to get unnervous," he confessed during a recent private performance. "When I get nervous, I forget words."

The sweetly shy über-producer and songwriter stopped in Seattle to promote his new album, "Playlist," featuring mostly covers of his favorite songs, including James Taylor's "Fire and Rain," Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" and Eric Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight." The album will be in stores Sept. 18. ...

RICHIE SEXSON'S BAT may or may not be showing signs of life, but Norm's Eatery & Ale House in Fremont still offers some of the cheapest beer in town on "Cheap 'Sexs on' Mondays." All day Mondays, bottles of Bud and Bud Lite are priced at whatever the streaky Mariner slugger's batting average is that day.

"The first Monday that we started, he was batting .154," says Norm's owner Steve Habecker. "The next week, he got his average up to .184, so we got an additional 30 cents a bottle." The highest price on a Monday so far: $2.08. Normal price for a bottle of Bud: $3.25.

So what would Habecker do if Richie walked in the door? "I'd shake his hand," he said. "The better he does, the better we do. This is an inspiration for him to strive to do better." ...

FIREFIGHTERS STAY FIT by rescuing cats from trees and whatnot, but that's nothing compared to what they do to prepare for a calendar shoot. Justin Walker of Eastside Fire & Rescue, the recently unveiled cover model of the 2008 Firefighter Calendar ($13.95, www.firefightercalendar.com), followed a strict diet of protein shakes, chicken, fish and eggs for three months before his photo shoot.

"No sugar, no desserts," he said. "It was brutal." Not to mention daily three-hour workouts and frequent tanning sessions: "I hate tanning. It's so boring. I hate sitting in there, feeling like you're cooking." There's a "that's hot" joke in here somewhere, but, really, who wants to find it? ...

SPEAKING OF SMMMOKIN' — oh yes, I did just go there, and I apologize — those crazy bartenders at Troiani downtown have come up with an answer to Seattle's smoking ban: The Nicatini. Served in a chilled martini glass with a flamed orange rind, the cocktail combines Bombay Sapphire gin, Chinese smoke tea and tobacco leaves.

"People are like, 'It sounds really crazy.' Three sips into it, they like it," says lead bartender Greg Lyman, who can be credited (or blamed) for the concoction. "It's like the first drag off of a really awesome cigar. It's kind of cool, kind of sweet, a little bit of that 'Wow.' " Speaking of wow, the Nicatini will set you back $13 a pop. ...

WHY SPEND $13 on a cocktail when you could buy practically an entire outfit instead? Trendy and cheap clothing retailer H&M is officially moving into University Village. Never mind that company reps denied reports of a Seattle store when I called to inquire about the rumors two months ago. I'm not bitter at all. I can't afford to be bitter; I can only afford to shop at H&M. The Ikea of clothing stores is set to open a two-story location here in fall 2008. ...

SEATTLE SOUNDER SIGHTING: Midfielder Josh Gardner selling Armani fragrance at the cosmetic counters at Macys. Hey, it's no "Intimately Beckham," but it's a start. ...

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THAT'S CRAZYBERRY: "I agree, adding 'Berry' to anything makes it more fun. That's one reason I married my husband and took his name!" — An e-mail from reader Andrea Dusenberry ...

SPOTTED ON A READERBOARD outside Marco Polo Bar & Grill in Georgetown: "Traffic sucks. $1 Beers." On the flip side: "Gamble Here — Not on Traffic."

Girl About Town appears every Sunday in Northwest Life. Pamela Sitt: 206-464-2376 or psitt@seattletimes.com

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