Originally created 07/10/01

In the know

TOP VIDEO: Here are the top video rentals according to VSDA VidTrac:

1. Cast Away: Tom Hanks stars in a Robinson Crusoe tale of a man shipwrecked alone on an island after a plane crash (PG-13).

2. Save the Last Dance: A twist of fate sends a 17-year-old aspiring ballerina (Julia Stiles) from a Norman Rockwell small town to urban Chicago and an interracial romance with a bright teen (Sean Patrick Thomas) who is hoping to land a premed scholarship (PG-13).

3. Proof of Life: The real-life romance that developed between stars Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe is the most involving aspect of this tale of a romance that develops between a crack kidnap-and-rescue operative and the wife of the man he's trying to save (R).

4. Traffic: Director Steven Soderbergh's film effortlessly intertwines several complex stories across two countries and several cities. The film's best performance is by Benicio Del Toro as a Mexican state policeman. With Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (R).

5. O Brother, Where Art Thou? An eccentric, picaresque Southern period comedy, rife with the kinds of genial madness only Joel and Ethan Coen can come up with. With George Clooney, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson (PG-13).

WRITERS' BLOCK: How to get 15 writers to collaborate on one novel is a mystery. And so is that novel.

Each of the 15 chapters in the whodunit Yeats Is Dead! (Knopf) was written by a different Irish writer - from novelist Roddy Doyle, who wrote the first chapter, to Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes), author of Chapter 15.

The story begins with the murder of a man who might have owned the manuscript of an unpublished novel by James Joyce. The search is on for the manuscript, which is stolen twice, forged, dumped into the trash and snacked on by rats.

Four years in the writing, Yeats Is Dead! is a hard-cover novel of mystery and suspense.

LAST WORDS: Have something you'd like to tell someone - a relative, a friend, your employer - but just can't seem to find the appropriate time or way to convey your thoughts? Why not send them an e-mail ... from the grave! For an annual fee ($29.95), the Web site finalthoughts.com gives you a password-protected account where you can save all the information you need to close out life's accounts until the fateful day when someone you've designated as a "guardian" sets delivery in motion. Members can store unlimited e-mail messages for posthumous delivery. You also can leave special instructions for funeral arrangements, disbursement of personal items, instructions for care of pets and so on.

FREE HORSE: The Web site HorseCity.com gives away a horse every month. Horses are registered with either the American Quarter Horse Association or the American Paint Horse Association. Entry forms are available at the Web site. All winners must sign an affidavit of eligibility, entailing a screening process to determine that they have the facilities, expertise and the ability to care for a horse. More contest rules are explained on the site.

AIR FORCE ONE: We've seen pictures of presidents (and Martin Sheen) using "the flying White House." But what is it really like to travel in presidential style? This National Geographic program on PBS includes interviews with members of the crew and some of their passengers, including President Bush and three of his predecessors. Air Force One airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on WCES-TV (Channel 20) and at 9 p.m. on WEBA-TV (Channel 14).

GOLF GALORE: When you pack your bags for vacation, does one of those bags contain golf clubs?

Then you might want to stroll through Fairways: America's Greatest Golf Resorts (DK, 419 pages, $50).

Text and 400 color photos take readers to the top 100 golf and travel resorts in America, chosen by a panel of travel and golf writers.

The courses are divided into six regions, from the Northeast to Hawaii, each with essays by local authorities. Each resort is rated in five categories - course challenge, course beauty, lodging, cuisine and amenities - using a five-star system.

For golfers, there's information about the architect, par, yardage, slope, rating and tour stops for each course.

The lush beauty of the courses will appeal even to those who think a sand wedge is something made with two slices of bread.


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