Alas, the latest e-scourge laying waste to our cultural landscape has been embraced by the common folk (especially the young) as a great and worthy pastime.

That would be the addictive form of communicative fiddling-about, texting - or text messaging. (Sure, you do communicate with someone else, but you do it in such a fiddly, gadgety way, the process seems more about mucking around with yourself and your own toys than others.)

The emoticon-heavy writing genre - :-( - is annually glorified at the LG National Texting contest, sponsored by LG Electronics. This year's texting champ, Morgan Pozgar, of Claysburg, Pa., in Blair County, beat out 200 others in New York by typing out the supercool word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (from the movie Mary Poppins) in 15 seconds.

Ms. Pozgar, who is all of 13 years old, says she sends more than 8,000 text messages a month - which breaks down to a staggering 267 messages a day! (She'll make the perfect court stenographer when she grows up.)

So what'll she do with the $25,000 prize money? "I'm going to go shopping and buy lots of clothes," Morgan said.

Not me, says Kim

Kim Basinger

says she wasn't the one who leaked that embarrassing voice mail in which her ex,

Alec Baldwin

, excoriated the couple's 11-year-old daughter,

Ireland

, as a "rude, thoughtless, little pig."

"Kim Basinger did not release the voice mail," declared a statement that Kim's rep released yesterday.

Baldwin was apparently annoyed with his offspring for not answering her phone for a scheduled call from the pater. Things got worse when the celeb Web site TMZ.com got hold of the tape and posted it.

Alec blamed Kim for the leak and posted a mea culpa on his own Web site for losing his temper with his child.

The repentant note failed to strike a responsive chord in Basinger. Her rep's statement said Kim hopes Baldwin will "finally address his unstable and irrational behavior."

A Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner has ordered Baldwin to stay away from his daughter pending a hearing May 4.

Rhys Meyers rehabs

"Hi, I'm

The Lusty Young Henry VIII

(TLYHVIII), and I'm an alcoholic."

Wicked jokes aside, the very pretty Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who gracefully - yet seductively - portrays TLYHVIII in Showtime's The Tudors, has checked into a rehab to seek treatment for alcoholism.

"After a nonstop succession of filming, Jonathan Rhys Meyers has entered an alcohol-treatment program," said the 29-year-old Golden Globe winner's rep, Meredith O'Sullivan, in a statement issued yesterday. "He felt a break was needed to maintain his recovery."

Rhys Meyers, who was brilliant as the androgynous neo-Bowie pop star in Todd Haynes' Velvet Goldmine, first drew wide acclaim in the States as the star of the TV flick Elvis and sealed his reputation as a consummate actor in Woody Allen's Match Point.

Holy smokes, Batman!

A dozen ambulances and fire engines were called to a blaze on the upper floors and roof of a 14-story former post office building in Chicago, where a crew had been filming scenes from

Christian Bale

's second BatFilm,

The Dark Knight

.

Fire department chief Jose Santiago told the Chicago Tribune that the blaze probably started in the building's decrepit ventilation system.

"It had nothing to do with" the movie, the chief said. "This system has caught on fire several times."

Civilian witnesses say filming was still taking place - they were shooting a school bus crashing through a fake wall (the magic!) - when the fire broke out.

No injuries have been reported, and filming is expected to resume today.

Doofus radio stunt

Two local New York City jocks,

Jeff Vandergrift

and

Dan Lay

, who host the morning show, WFNY-FM's

The Dog House With JV and Elvis

, have been suspended "without pay until further notice" by CBS Radio for staging a six-minute on-air prank phone call to a Chinese restaurant. The stunt has offended Asian American groups.

The call was placed on April 5, the day after Don Imus made a racist comment on CBS station WFAN-AM that cost him his job. In the WFNY jocks' bit, called "Dog House," an abusive caller hassled the restaurant staff over the phone, telling one female employee he would like to "come to your restaurant" to see her naked. He also bragged about his kung-fu mojo and ordered "flied lice."

Coens keep busy

Joel

and

Ethan Coen

's latest picture,

No Country for Old Men

, which is adapted from the

Cormac McCarthy

novel and stars

Tommy Lee Jones

and

Josh Brolin

, will have its world premiere next month at the Cannes Film Festival. But the sibling maestros already have lined up their next two projects. The boys have signed a two-picture deal with Focus Features and Working Title Films, and will begin shooting the first,

Burn After Reading

, this summer.

Burn, which stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, is a dark spy comedy about a CIA man who loses the disc of a book he's writing. Trouble is, the manuscript is filled with information vital to national security.

Scary: Baby is a Murphy

The lovely

Scary Spice

yesterday said she is so certain that her baby,

Angel Iris Murphy Brown

, who was born April 3, is

Eddie Murphy

's blood and flesh that she's monikered him with the Murphy name on the birth certificate.

As for the baby's complex name, Scary, who is known to the taxman as Melanie Brown, said, "Angel, as she was my little angel through my pregnancy. Iris, as it's my grandma's name, Murphy because he's the dad, and Brown, because I'm the mum!" (OK, not so complex.)

Murphy has said he's not sure if he is Angel's dad. (Paternity test, anyone?)

Single or not, girl?

"It feels good. I feel strong. Not that I didn't feel strong when I was in a relationship," multi-talented personality

Hilary Duff

told Blender mag about life as a single girlie girl.

"When I'm in a relationship, I'm in it. I work really hard at it. I'm a pretty good girlfriend," she said.

But all this feels weird, even disingenuous, given that Blender mag says there are rumors that things are smoking hot sexy romantic again between Duff and Joel Madden.

The Idol and the Cowboy

Carrie Underwood

, the goodie two-shoes

American Idol

champion who aspires to touch people's hearts (

eeew

. . .), may have touched the heart of Dallas Cowboys' QB

Tony Romo

. Citing anon sources, People reports Carrie has been hanging a lot with Romo and attended Tony's 27th birthday celebration in Dallas over the weekend.

Carrie's rep Jessie Schmidt said the stars "have recently been spending a little time together," but that they are "definitely not boyfriend/girlfriend."

"It's very casual at this point. It's [in the] really early stages," he said.

Contact "SideShow" at sideshow@phillynews.com. This column contains information from Inquirer wire services.