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Side show

By SHARON FINK

© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 11, 2001


BUNKY, NO; NUDITY, YES: South Africans are obsessed with their version of Big Brother, which sounds a little more interesting than some of the other versions.

During the morning "shower hour," when the 12 housemates undress and soap up for the Web site cameras (except for the woman who insists on showering in her bathing suit), Internet response slows to a crawl -- or becomes nonexistent. The Toronto Globe and Mail said there were 3.5-million hits during the show's first six days.

Interest also is high because of the racial mix in the house: seven whites and five blacks.

WITH THE BACK OF HIS HAND: In a way only he can, Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau has apologized for a Sunday strip that said George W. Bush has the lowest IQ of any president in the past 50 years.

An Internet hoax was the source material, something several nonfans took the time to point out ("Not surprising from a Mamby Pamby Commie Pinko Liberal like yourself").

A posting on www.Doonesbury.com said the reference was "a regrettable error, although perhaps inevitable, given that this feature uses the same fact-checking house as Saturday Night Live and The Drudge Report. . . . The creator deeply apologizes for unsettling anyone who was under the impression that the president is, in fact, quite intelligent."

WHAT'S RUSSIAN FOR "IT'S A GOOD THING?" Russia has a Martha Stewart: a 60-year-old former construction engineer named Lidia Lagutina, nicknamed Baba Lida (Granny Lida). She has written more than 80 cookbooks and has a Culinary Emergency Hotline that rings into her living room in her Rostov-on-Don home.

Among the hotline advice sought on a recent day, according to Cox News Service: how to cure impotence (flat-leafed parsley, Baba Lida said); how to make a good pie crust (sift the flour and fold the ingredients); and what to feed unexpected company when the refrigerator contains only sausage and a head of cabbage (a nice restaurant meal, Aunt Sharon says).

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