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Bells are sold separately

When last we looked in on the Church of England, one of its vicars was advertising his new enterprise: ready-to-preach sermons, available online for $12.50 each. Now another "revolutionary" innovation for Anglicans is about to make its debut. It's an inflatable 47-foot-high church, complete with steeple, pulpit, altar, and even "stained glass" windows that can be hauled around in a truck and set up almost anywhere as an outreach to people who wouldn't otherwise go to services. Said its designer: "This could change the whole perception of what the Church of England stands for."

I should have grown a beard

Michael Furlong had a choice as he sat in the audience of a battle-of-the-sexes TV game show in London earlier this month. He could stay put or accept an invitation to go on the set and compete for the $157,000 top prize. Alas for him, he made the wrong decision. But he won; how could that be a mistake? Well, because viewers recognized him as a fugitive from justice in a traffic fatality case in Ireland and notified police. He was arrested and a court has ordered his extradition to stand trial.

Popcorn sales in US a few kernels short

If he were still living, Orville Redenbacher might need extra butter to digest the news: Americans are consuming less popcorn than a decade ago.

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The opposite is true in other parts of the globe, however. While the United States remains the single largest consumer of popcorn worldwide, retail sales have slipped after more than 20 years of steady increases, says Cole Ehmke, a research associate with Purdue University's Center for Food and Agricultural Business.

"Popcorn consumption peaked in the US in 1993. Since then, it's been on a slightly downward trend," Mr. Ehmke says. "However, popcorn consumption worldwide is going up a little bit, particularly in South America, Europe, and Asia. The Chinese and Brazilians are familiar with popcorn, and they're increasing their consumption."

Popcorn exports climbed more than 39 million pounds from 1999 to 2000, topping 245.33 million pounds.

US popcorn sales accelerated rapidly in the 1980s with the introduction of microwave popcorn, Ehmke says.

As to why consumption is now trending down, he theorizes that consumers' tastes are shifting from popcorn to other processed snack foods. Retail sales of potato chips are outpacing popcorn, he points out.

Tired of TV? Try some of these alternatives instead

An estimated 6.4 million people took part last year in TV-Turnoff Week, estimates its organizer, the TV-Turnoff Network. The Washington-based advocacy group is hoping even more Americans will tune out this week for the annual event, which is designed to get couch potatoes up and active. Many libraries are sponsoring evening programs related to the promotion. TV-Turnoff Network also is suggesting the following other alternative pastimes appropriate to the season:

Take a walk or go hiking
Go to a baseball game or play one with family or friends
Engage in religious reflection
Help to clean up a stream
Read aloud or act out a scene from Shakespeare (whose birthday is observed Wednesday)
Have a family cookout or a neighborhood block party

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