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NAMES

Baseball executive strikes out; ballet receives a lift

SLURRING HIS WORDS We've heard of the "Twinkie defense," but in the annals of preposterous alibis, Bill Singer's is one the worst. Explaining why he belittled the ethnic background of baseball executive Kim Ng, Singer, an assistant GM with the New York Mets, blamed the Atkins diet. Singer said the low-carb regimen, combined with too much alcohol, caused a chemical imbalance that led him to speak gibberish to Ng, who's Chinese-American. Singer apologized for his boorish behavior, but still was fired Tuesday by the Mets. So, we wondered, can a high-protein diet really have such an unpleasant side effect? Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of Harvard's department of nutrition, and Dr. Nevin Scrimshaw, at the International Nutrition Foundation, were both reportedly out yesterday, but Lilian Cheung of the Harvard School of Public Health's "Nutrition Source" website is highly skeptical. "Oh, my gosh," she said. "I've never heard that one."

SCHOOL TIES Raynham High School graduates Stephanie Cutter and Michael Meehan never imagined they'd someday work together on a presidential campaign. But they are. Senator John Kerry yesterday added Meehan, his 1996 campaign press secretary, to his revamped campaign communications staff, which is now led by Cutter. Meehan, a member of the class of '82, and Cutter, class of '86, didn't know each other in high school, but they had mutual friends. And in D.C., they've been known to tip a few together while watching a Bruins game on TV or in a box at the MCI Center when the Celtics come to town. Meehan's gig is being billed as a two-month leave from his job as political director of NARAL, formerly the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, but then this is the same campaign that said it was moving its headquarters from Washington to Boston. Never happened.

SUITE DONATION Boston Ballet's on a roll. Just days after receiving the largest single gift in its 40-year history -- $3 million bequeathed by a recently deceased supporter -- the company announced it has been given a six-figure sum by a local business executive and his wife. The couple, who want to remain anonymous, bought out the ballet's Dec. 10 performance of "The Nutcracker" and will donate the tickets to charities. "That's 3,600 kids and their families, and not one of them is going to pay a dime to get in," said Henry Goodrow, Boston Ballet's director of institutional relations. That's the good news. The bad news is the ballet is still looking for a new home for "The Nutcracker" after being booted by the Wang Center for the Performing Arts. Next year, the folks at the Wang are bringing in a touring version of the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular."

NO LEFTOVERS A party this week celebrating the 53d birthday of Kowloon drew a bunch of bruisers to the Chinese restaurant on Route 1, including boxers Johnny Ruiz, Tony DeMarco, Micky Ward, and Peter McNeeley; ex-Bruins Ken Hodge, John McKenzie, Bob Sweeney, and Rick Middleton; professional wrestler "Killer" Kowalski; former Celtic Hank Finkel; old friend Bob "Steamer" Stanley of the Red Sox; and Boston Concessions Group chief Joe O'Donnell. The heavy hitters consumed 3,000 egg rolls, 500 pounds of fried rice, and 400 pounds of lo mein.

TRUE STORY? E! Entertainment was in town again recently filming one of its "True Hollywood Stories" about local-boy-made-superstar Mark Wahlberg. The crews shot footage of Dorchester and other locales around the city. A funny anecdote: When some of Wahlberg's pals from the neighborhood made the trek to Copley Square, they got a little lost. They waited for the film crew at the wrong hotel. What do you expect? Copley Square's on the Green Line, not the Red.

YOU GOTTA HAVE AHTS For the new year, John Michael Kennedy, who's been communications director for the Massachusetts Cultural Council for the last two years, will join the ArtsBoston team as director of marketing and development, a newly created position. (ArtsBoston is behind the BosTix and ArtsMail ticketing programs.) Kennedy previously worked as Boston Ballet's public relations director for three years, and before that he ran his own business, John Michael Kennedy and Associates, specializing in public relations and fund-raising consulting for nonprofits around New England.

Glen Johnson of the Globe staff contributed to this column. Names can be reached at names@globe.com or at 617-929-8253.

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