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Global Scavenger Hunt

June 26, 1989

Jonathan Bassan is looking for a few hardy travelers to join the Human Race. It'll only cost them $5,300.

In a business person's version of "Around the World in 80 Days," the volunteers will compete to be first to circle the globe while stopping here and there to mug for a photograph and shop. First prize: $25,000.

Bassan says seven two-person teams have signed up for the global scavenger hunt, and he wants 30 more to follow. On Oct. 28, they'll gather at his office in Montecito to receive a rough itinerary. The object is to then plot a course to such spots as Hong Kong, Singapore and Israel--and return with such things as casino chips.

The fee covers only air fare and hotels, but Bassan said he's praying only to break even. Who has inquired? "The primary factor," says the former investor and art importer, "is who has the ability to take off for four weeks. It's the real estate developers and people who have their own businesses, even if it's someone who sells log cabin kits in Montana."

It's Like Hiring Perry Mason

During the Iran-Contra hearings two years ago, the craggy face of the Senate's attorney, New York lawyer Arthur Liman, was seen again and again by tens of millions of television viewers. Judging by prospective jurors in a major Los Angeles Superior Court case, the impression was lasting.

A lawyer for stockholders suing 11 Walt Disney Co. directors and corporate raider Saul Steinberg in a 5-year-old "greenmail" suit asked a panel of juror candidates late last week if they saw a familiar face in court. About a third of the 24 members of the jury panel raised hands and pointed out Liman among the defense attorneys. They said they had seen his face on TV but didn't know his name.

Liman will soon become more than a face in the crowd. As chief attorney for Steinberg, he will make an opening statement to the jury today.

The Ultimate Fuzz Buster

Speeders wanting to evade police radar guns may have a new weapon at their disposal--a stealth car.

Chrysler is planning to introduce a new automobile in the next few years called the Stealth, a name derived from Northrop's B-2 bomber. Whether it will sport a radar-eluding shape like the jet's unusual all-wing design is unknown.

Honda, the Japanese auto maker, gained notoriety last year for a television advertisement featuring a mock-up of the bomber. Said a Chrysler official: "We wouldn't want Honda to beat us to it."

For its part, Northrop doesn't seem too concerned. The company does not own a trademark on stealth. "It's just a descriptive word," a company spokesman said. "It is not really a name."

Let Fingers Do the Talking

Budding entrepreneurs with big egos but little office staff can take heart: Switchboard operators now come in a box.

The $350 Tele-Receptionist, sold by News Media Services of Los Angeles, is an electronic phone system that uses a digitally synthesized voice to interact with callers. A computer chip in the answering machine-sized device holds 35 phrases of your choice. Among those recommended by the maker to impress your clients: "Sorry, would you repeat the number?" or "One moment, please, and I'll connect you."

The machine greets a caller, then holds the line. You can then either answer or put the box of switches to work by tapping in the codes that correspond with the spoken phrases you want the machine to use.

Apparently, you must be in your office to make it all work, however. When a Times reporter called the gentleman who sells the Tele-Receptionist, a prerecorded male voice said only that all calls would be returned promptly.

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