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A tricky issue: The U.S. Postal Service...

A tricky issue: The U.S. Postal Service wants to unveil a stamp honoring former President Richard Nixon, despite protests from Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.), the chairman of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee. If the Postal Service does go through with the project, we wonder if it will hold an Elvis-type survey to see if Americans prefer the old or the new Nixon.

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Good golly, Mali: The African nation of Mali, meanwhile, is one of many other countries that are churning out stamps of great Americans. For instance, its latest releases pay tribute to Arnold Schwarzenegger (with Sharon Stone), not to mention Elizabeth Taylor and Clint Eastwood.

International stamp competition is evidently fierce.

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Mali’s mailer says “the only other stamp commemorating Eastwood was issued by the Maldives Islands a few years ago. . . . We believe this issue is far nicer.” (We couldn’t reach the Maldives Islands for a response.)

As for us, we’re planning to buy several hundred stamps of La Liz in hopes of cashing in on its flaw--her first name is spelled Elisabeth . Scooped you on that one, Liz Smith!

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One used urban folk tale, in good condition: Every once in a while, the story of the $50 Corvette makes the rounds. It was even the subject of a pop song a few years ago. We had no idea how old it was, though, until we came upon a slightly different version in Gene Sherman’s Cityside column in The Times--in 1953.

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As Sherman heard it, a classified ad offered a near-new (1952) Oldsmobile for $50. A couple answered the ad and were assured the figure was not a typographical error. The seller, a widow, wouldn’t disclose the reason for the bargain. The couple, finding the car in tip-top shape, bought it.

“Now I will tell you the story,” the widow said afterward.

“It so happens my husband was in love with another woman,” she continued. “And when he died recently he left instructions in his will that proceeds from the sale of this car should go to her.”

The woman paused, then asked: “Now do you understand?”

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Hakuna Matata? Get real: The magazine Running Times reports a squabble between Walt Disney Co. and a group of Kenyan runners over the rights to the phrase hakuna matata . The Swahili phrase, which means “no problem,” is the name of a song in the Disney movie “The Lion King.”

But it’s also the motto of Team Stick, the group of Kenyan runners who have used it “to encourage each other in their austere training-oriented lifestyle” and also “as a suggested way of life in their presentations to schools, clinics and other groups,” the magazine says.

A spokesman for Team Stick expressed anguish that the phrase is now associated with the singers of “Hakuna Matata"--a wart hog and a meerkat.

We say it’s time for the lawyers on both sides to sit down and sing a few bars of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

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miscelLAny In 1929, a 188-pound marlin was caught off Catalina Island by a visiting Englishman. Not without some blood, toil, tears and sweat, we’ll bet. He was Winston Churchill.


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