One of those Florida-based outfits that flood the market with direct-mail pitches for Caribbean vacations sent one to a former U.S. president who, unfortunately, will be unable to accept. The postcard solicitation began "Dear Rutherford, we're excited for you" and was sent to Rutherford B. Hayes at the Presidential Center named for him in Fremont, Ohio. A spokesman for the center told the St. Petersburg Times that the former president, who died 105 years ago, couldn't take advantage of the offer because he's "a little lethargic these days." The company that sent the postcard said someone from the center must have used the institution's name to buy a mail-order item and the center ended up on a direct-mail marketing list. They might want to make the offer to the incumbent in the White House.

Kingdom in the sea

Reuters' Paris bureau reported that the self-styled King Orelie-Antoine I of Patagonia dispatched a "light naval unit" of his marines to the English Channel, where they laid claim to a group of rocks known as Les Minquiers, hoisting the "flag of Patagonia" thereupon. The Minquiers rocks, which are south of the Isle of Jersey and which disappear at high tide, actually have come under dispute in the past. In 1953, the International Court at the Hague turned down France's request for sovereignty over the rocks, affirming British sovereignty. Comment from the U.K. authorities was not forthcoming. Seems to us we could use more invasions like this, in this piping time.

Acting dignified

Friends who took their honeymoon aboard the Disney Magic had a chance to do some celebrity-watching. Former bad boys turned family men Eddie Murphy and Danny Bonaduce were along on a recent sailing. It is doubtful whether 10 years ago or so, either of these stars would have been associated with family friendly Disney. Eddie Murphy was a stand-up comic with decidedly un-family friendly material who also gained quite a reputation as a party animal. During the last couple of years, Murphy has changed his image. He has married, had a few kids and starred in such films as Disney's "Mulan" and 20th Century Fox's "Dr. Doolittle." Bonaduce has gone through similar changes. The former "Partridge Family" star gained a lot of notoriety on the talk-show circuit for revealing the good, the bad and the ugly of having been a child actor. After nearly becoming the Charo of the Howard Stern-Richard Bey circuit, Bonaduce started a new career on radio, hosting his own morning show and talking about his lovely wife and beautiful child. We don't know whether the two former tabloid darlings managed to run into each other on the Lido deck. If they did, what did they talk about? Lawn-treatment products?

Grudge match

The Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was acquired by the World Wrestling Federation. The WWF was the highest bidder for the casino, and reports said the organization will turn it into a wrestling arena and theme hotel. What can guests coming to the new facility expect to see? Andre the Giant's wrestling shoes next to Gene Kelly's tap shoes? A display of Hulk Hogan's championship belt with Judy Garland's shoes from "The Wizard of Oz"? One thing that might attract tourists far and wide--a celebrity tag team match pitting Debbie and Liz Taylor against Eddie Fisher and the current WWF champ, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

So how's it goin', eh?

Clients headed to Vancouver, British Columbia, and packing roller blades should be forewarned: Police in that lovely, park-rich city are training radar guns on skaters and busting them for speeding. The weekend before Labor Day, more than a dozen roller bladers were arrested by Vancouver police and slapped with summonses for exceeding the speed limit of 15 kilometers (9 miles) per hour. The fine is 75 loonies--Canadian silver dollars-- about 50 U.S. dollars. What with all these conversions, perhaps the authorities could see their way clear to raise the speed limit for U.S. roller bladers to 15 miles per hour and fine them only 50 Canadian dollars if they break it. In the memorable words of Yogi Berra (upon his learning, during a trip to Ireland, that the mayor of Dublin was Jewish): Only in America!


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