Full of Beans
Want to spend the night with something soft and cuddly that's about 5'6"? Sorry, Meg Ryan is already spoken for. As your second choice, Consider the Sleeping Bean, a hot-dog-shaped down-filled pillow that cushions your contours where a mattress can't. It also provides relief for Sacroiliac dysfunctions and tight hamstrings--in case you've just run in a marathon. Beans come in three sizes: 5-1/2' ($79), 4-1/2' ($65) and 3-1/2' ($52); all prices are postpaid. A call to the Chicago manufacturer, Human Bean, at 800-342-Bean will get you the particulars on prices and colors for Bean slipcovers. Hypoallergenic Beans are available, too.
Finding the Lost City
Travelers are rediscovering southern Africa now that apartheid is on the way out, and one of the newest destinations via South African Airways is the Palace of the Lost City at Sun City in Bophuthatswana. The creation of resort mogul Sol Kerzner, the Lost City is a fantasy water park and luxury hotel that resembles something Walt Disney might have created if hehad had a great white hunter for a brother. The exterior of the Palace is dominated by soaring towers decorated with wildlife carvings. And there's a nightly "volcanic eruption" when a bridge leading to the water park shakes, rattles and gushes steam. Kerzner is noted for his attention to detail, and that tradition isn't lost on the Lost City's rooms and restaurants. For more info, have your travel agent contact the South African Tourism Board at 212-838-8841.
Tough act to Follow
To raise your consciousness, a company called Vanishing Acts has created a line of ceramic coffee mugs emblazoned with the name and image of the gray whale, the giant panda or other endangered species. When the cup is filled with a hot beverage, the image of the species gradually disappears, only to reappear as you empty the mug. Notes on the cup's opposite side tell about the species. The price: $10 each, postpaid, by calling 404-394-8963.
Hop to Scotch
Single-malt Scotches continue to grow in popularity, and to help you tell the difference between Glenlivet and Glenmorangie there's Single-Malt Whiskies of Scotland: For the Discriminating Imbiber. James F. Harris and Mark H. Waymack, two professors of philosophy who have spent as much time with Laphroaig as they have with logic, are the authors. Price: $26.95 hardcover; $12.95 paperback.
Seagram and the Cocktail
The Seagram Museum, 57 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Ontario, has begun an extended exhibit dedicated to the Art of the Cocktail. Along with a display of 100 cocktail shakers, visitors will view Prohibition memorabilia, a party scene from the movie The Thin Man, a replica of a Sixties re-room bar and more. Call 519-885-1857 for the hours and days the exhibit is open. Admission is free.
The Whoring Twenties
Back in the Twenties, whorehouse piano music was something of an art form. If you'd like to hear Sweet Georgia Brown and other ditties played by vintage pianists Ralph Sutton and Jay McShann in whorehouse style, order Last of the Whorehouse Piano Players on compact disc. The price: $19.95, postpaid, by calling 800-528-2582. In France, the album won the Grand Prix du Disque de Jazz.
Rising Bond Market
Forty years ago, the first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, was published, and the author, Ian Fleming, went on to write many other Bond novels and eight short stories before his death in 1964. Now, a nonprofit foundation has been formed that's dedicated to archiving the works of Fleming. Its first project is a magazine, Goldeneye, published three times annually, and you can subscribe for $15 a year sent to the Ian Fleming Foundation, P.O.Box 6897, Santa Barbara, California 91360.
The Only Baseball Jacket You'll Ever Need
Weatherwise, April is the cruelest month for going to the ballpark, but Columbia Sportswear has created the Base-A-Boo parka with a wind- and water-resistant outer shell and a zip-out fleece lining that doubles as a lightweight jacket. To date, only the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins are represented. The price: $155. Call 503-MA-Boyle for store locations.
In the Fifties, Republic Pictures released black-and-white serials for theaters with such heart-stopping titles as Panther Girl of the Kongo. These and other 12- to 15-episode nail-biters--including Clyde Beatty's Darkest Africa--are available on laser disc from video stores in a Cliffhanger Serials series for about $39 to $59. (Videocassettes are priced at $30.) Most include the original theatrical trailer, and some laser discs also feature a special narration audio track.