Do you get the feeling that Sunday's first round of the presidential election in France hasn't generated much excitement among either the voters or the news media? If the financial journal Les Echos is any indication, the answer has to be ... yes. To "create a bit of interest," the paper has been running a daily contest that invites readers to match a continuing stream of bland campaign pronouncements with the candidates in the field of 16 who uttered them. The promotion won't continue into the second round of voting May 5, but its winners are eligible for such prizes as paid vacations and watches.
OK, you're in Hilleroed, Denmark, and have business at City Hall. So you show up just after lunch ... only to find all the workers asleep at their desks. Do you complain to Mayor Nick Haekkerup? That wouldn't do much good. The snoozes are his idea in the first place. He has authorized a two-week, 20-minute-a-day siesta trial without penalty to keep staffers alert and cheerful until quitting time. To avoid oversleeping, though, most of them have been bringing alarm clocks to work.
He's fictional, but actor Anthony Hopkins's cannibalistic killer from "The Silence of the Lambs," Hannibal Lecter, still tops a list of telephone callers people said they would block, in a survey for SBC Ameritech Privacy Manager, a provider of call-screening and blocking services. In fact, three of the five names on the list aren't those of real people. The least-wanted callers in the SBC's poll, and the percentage that consider them nonpickup-worthy:
1. Hannibal Lechter of "Silence of the Lambs" 40%
2. Any agent with the Internal Revenue Service 24
3. Mimi, clownish nemesis on "The Drew Carey Show" 16
4. Janice, the harsh-voiced ex-girlfriend on "Friends" 11
5. The boss from work 9