The Condensed Condensed News

The thinking behind free commuter newspapers goes like this: You don’t have time for a traditional broadsheet or tabloid, what with their many paragraphs and all. But now that BostonNow has joined the Metro, how’s a Bostonian to get through all that bite-sized news in one sitting? A user’s guide to what’s worth reading each day.

1. VOYEURISM TO GO: Ever wonder what your neighbors and coworkers call their loved ones in private? Turns out, it’s stuff like “Bun-Dog” and “Pretty Pie.” The Daily Kiss!, a strip that runs atop the Metro’s opinion page, allows readers to send each other anonymous (read: cheeseball) notes. (“Fluffiest Pancake, You’re totally worth it. I love you. Love, Your Royal Blue Fuzzy,” a recent one declared.) It may be brimming with clichéd sap and inside jokes, but the peek into other people’s bedrooms is priceless.

2. PET TOPICS: The same give-the-people-what-they-want spirit that calls for an entire page of games (see item 6) makes for plenty of stories about kittens and puppies, too. BostonNow unabashedly embraces the trite but fun coverage in a daily news strip called Animal Story.

3. HOMEGROWN CONTENT: Both commuter papers are chock-a-block with bland wire copy, but if you like locally reported news, the Metro’s the better bet. It’s got four reporters in Boston, along with sports and entertainment writers. By contrast, BostonNow has only two dedicated reporters, a gaggle of rotating freelancers, and a smattering of opinions/rants ripped from the blogosphere.

4. A DIFFERENT KIND OF FOOD REVIEW: Fear-mongering sells, and BostonNow is devoted to dishing the dirt on the dirt, listing health code violations designed to turn stomachs: mice droppings, rotting salad bars, etc. It’s the kind of stuff most of us might rather be blissfully ignorant of, but the paper’s founder, Russel Pergament, knows that once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. “It is so delectable. It is so irresistible,” he says.

5. HAVEN’T HEARD THAT BEFORE: For devotees of under-the-radar music, the Metro is required reading. Its entertainment pages give a healthy chunk of real estate to up-and-coming acts, either bred in Boston or playing in the area. They’re the sorts of bands that rarely get careful attention from daily newspapers—and are invariably more interesting than whatever national act BostonNow is profiling.

6. PUZZLE POTPOURRI: A lot of papers run one sudoku a day, with the puzzles getting tougher as the week goes on. Fans complain that beginners don’t have the skills to play all week, and experts are bored until Friday. BostonNow’s fix: three games of varying difficulty every day, plus the requisite crossword.

7. DIRECTIONS TO THE PARTY: Event listings aren’t exactly new. Ditto for maps. But the Metro’s daily T Time melds the two into a delightful visual calendar, pointing out where things are happening in relation to T stops. Nothing like mixing wholesome entertainment with public transportation!

8. MINDLESS DIVERSIONS APLENTY: Commuters tend to ditch papers when they reach the office. BostonNow wants to buck the trend. How? By helping you play around on company time. Its Surf Now, Work Later offers a digest of Web-based amusements worth perusing.