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Land of the Free and Overworked

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Jetting home from a too-short trip to New York City, we were shocked to read in an airline magazine that Americans get the shaft when it comes to vacation days.

According to a recent survey conducted by the World Tourism Organization, Italians have a whopping 42 days a year on average to unwind (including paid leave and personal holidays); the French can relax sur la plage for 37 days out of the year; Brazilians can don thongs on the beaches of Rio 34 days a year, and even the hard-working Japanese get 25 days for R&R.;

We overworked Americans, on the other hand, have a paltry 19 days a year to relax. This could account for our robust economy. . . . But wouldn’t you love a few more days off anyway?

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Is your car’s carburetor giving you trouble? Fuel injection on the fritz? Don’t ask Daddy-O for advice. According to the hosts of National Public Radio’s “Car Talk,” 98% of the world’s misinformation about cars comes from a single source: fathers.

Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the show’s chuckling hosts, have compiled calls relating to fathers and cars into a new album, “Why You Should Never Listen to Your Father When It Comes to Cars” (Warped Discs).

In a news release about the project, the pair riffs just like they do on the air:

“As fathers, we feel we have to know everything. So when our kids ask us something and we don’t know the answer, we make stuff up!” said Tom.

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“It’s amazing how well-intentioned fathers are . . . and how completely wrong they are most of the time,” said Ray. “But we love them anyway, and that comes across as well.”

One call is from Leonard Bernstein’s son, Alex, who wonders whether his late father, the famous conductor, taught him to shift correctly. The Magliozzis’ response? Good thing Lenny kept his day job.

By the way, if fathers are responsible for 98% of the world’s misinformation about cars, who’s responsible for the other 2%?

“We are,” Tom Magliozzi said. “Absolutely,” agreed Ray.

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December’s Allure magazine elicited some interesting responses when it asked celebs to name their style heroes. Calista Flockhart was inspired by Lucille Ball, and Jennifer Lopez by Madonna and Natalie Wood. Bette Davis inspired Kirstie Alley.

Singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan named the stars of “Charlie’s Angels,” “because they looked really good all the time, no matter what they did. Totally unrealistic, but . . .” And the Queen of Modesty, Celine Dion, named herself. “I like my own style,” she explained. “I never followed anybody else’s.”

Maybe she should have. The backward-facing white tuxedo she wore to this year’s Grammys? Need we say more?

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Holiday shoppers at Target are gobbling up cheap and chic cashmere cardigans and Michael Graves vases faster than you can say “Ooh la, la!” But those who are ogling the bull’s-eye-print clothing in the retailer’s recent ads are going to have to wait until spring, when Target will unveil a collection of novelty items in the signature red-and-white pattern. On the drawing board so far: boxer shorts, pajamas and baseball hats. Ever hopeful, we are holding out for the ad’s wonderful mod shift dresses and Mary Jane shoes.

Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.


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