Perhaps you've received a computerized mailing from Halbert's, an Ohio genealogical publisher that offers to sell you a book about the long, glorious history of your family (i.e. "The Book of Clintons"). Actually, such tomes consist largely of telephone book listings of people with your last name.
Anyway, Ann Kenney of Continental Awards and Promotions received an offer of even more dubious value from Halbert's--addressed to Continenta L. Award.
The company told Continenta it was certain she'd be excited to hear there's a book about the Awards family. Why, the volume even contains "3 rare vital records of Awards who lived in America between the 18th and early 20th centuries, like Thankeul, who married Seth Hinckley in Barnstable, Mass."
Continenta to Halbert's: No thankeul.
AND SWEDEN MEANS LAND OF THE FINNS: John Thompson of Whittier read it in a suburban newspaper: "Until 1993, the Czech Republic was connected with Slovakia; together they went by the name 'Hungary.' "
A MOGUL'S LIFE: When billboards for "A Bug's Life" first appeared, suspicions were expressed here that Disney's prankish animators had used the visage of departed company exec Jeffrey Katzenberg as the model for the villainous Hopper (see photos).
At the time, Katzenberg was in the midst of a bitter lawsuit against Disney to recover millions of dollars in allegedly unpaid bonuses. Well, the lawsuit was settled the other day and I finally got around to renting the movie. And I noticed more parallels between Katzenberg (as Disney viewed him) and Hopper.
The plot revolves around unreasonable demands by Hopper, who has bullied a group of ants into an agreement to supply him with food each year. When the ants fail to produce, Hopper warns them in lawyer-like terms to "keep your end of the bargain." But the courageous ants defeat Hopper and live happily ever after.
Of course, in real life, Katzenberg did not lose. The undisclosed settlement provided him with somewhere between $200 million and $300 million, which should keep food on his table for a long time.
THE FIRE THIS TIME: I caught up with a couple who are really on the move, ex-Southern Californians Mark Sedenquist and Megan Edwards, on the Internet. Their Pasadena-area home burned to the ground in 1993, inspiring them to start a new life on the road in their $75,000 recreational vehicle, Phoenix One. They're still roaming, 130,000 miles later. They've written a book, "Roads From the Ashes: An Odyssey in Real Life on the Virtual Frontier," and they keep a diary in cyberspace: www.roadtripamerica.com
One of their scariest--and most ironic--adventures, they write, occurred a few months ago in the wilds of . . . Beverly Hills.
Their vehicle caught fire on Wilshire Boulevard. Luckily a gas station attendant called 911, and the Beverly Hills Fire Department quickly doused the flames. The couple had just made their last payment on the Phoenix. But they've had enough irony. A mechanic fixed up Phoenix One and they were back on the road in a couple of days.
All right, class: Last semester, you may recall, I told you about a teacher who made unruly students stay after school and listen to Frank Sinatra songs. The Wall Street Journal reports that another Southern California entertainer is being used for youth control. A shopping mall in Wales "found that the most effective way of keeping teenagers from loitering around its entrances was to play Bing Crosby and install pink fluorescent lights that highlight pimples."