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January 20, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Sunni Side Up: Christianity has recorded some odd manifestations over the years: the face of Jesus in a tortilla and on a spaghetti billboard, a cinnamon bun that looked like Mother Teresa. Now Islam has joined the club. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an egg has turned up in Maccasar, South Africa, with mottled brown ridges that appear to spell out "Allah is Great" in Arabic. We're expecting other faiths to follow suit. Did anyone else notice that the iceberg in "Titanic" looks like Buddha's belly?

Not on the Menu: A trendy restaurant in Philadelphia called Paradigm has come up with a wild new way to destroy customers' appetites. The doors to its three restrooms become transparent if the user forgets to turn the lock. "If somebody hadn't warned me, I would have dropped me trousers in front of the whole restaurant," said a visitor from London. Less-informed bathroom patrons have picked their teeth, primped and squeezed pimples in full view of the tables outside, according to the Associated Press. The $13,500 glass doors are actually giant liquid-crystal displays powered by a 120-volt current. Positive and negative charges fly through the screen when the power is on, but freeze into an opaque haze when the power is turned off by locking the door. Bon appetit.

All Creatures Great and Small: Pope John Paul II blessed a python last week during an audience attended by members of an American circus. Reports from Olympia Daily World and the Internet's say the pontiff caressed the serpent before bestowing a holy blessing. The reptile responded by hissing and sticking its tongue out at the pope. John Paul II has had better luck with other animals. Although he doesn't own pets like some of his predecessors (Pius XII kept canaries and Paul VI had a dog), he held a koala while traveling through Australia and hugged a lemur in Madagascar.

You May Already Have Lost: So many practical jokesters are posing as Publisher's Clearinghouse prize awarders that TV Guide is publishing a photo of Dave Sayer, the official dispenser of million-dollar checks, on Super Bowl Sunday.

Dumb Phrase of the Day: From "Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?" radio program: Why do people use the term "surface streets"? Where else would they be?

Financial Hocus-Pocus Department: The Hungarian Assn. of Witches goes on trial in Budapest next month for alleged tax evasion. The witches are accused of failing to report income from spells, as well as from the sales of skulls, amulets and dead frogs, according to Chicago columnist Zay N. Smith.

We also hear they can turn judges' robes into giant liquid-crystal-display garments that become transparent if the verdict is guilty.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Bible Expert's Shocking Claim: Satan is Gay!" (Weekly World News)

Among the tip-offs cited: Satan's temptation of Christ in the desert is a "classic gay seduction scene" and "although red is now regarded as the devil's color, up until modern times most artistic depictions of Satan show his costume as a much lighter shade--closer to pink."

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

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