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"He was a god, she thought, breathlessly staring. The man had a mane of tawny hair that flowed past his shoulders, catching the sunlight and blowing back slightly in the gentle breeze that rustled the trees. His strong features were exquisitely sculpted, with a rugged jaw and aquiline nose. ... He wore a snug-fitting pair of black jeans and a brown leather jacket, and his height and broad-shouldered build were imposing."

From "Wild," a romance novel by Fabio.

Shanghai surprise
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. An American in Paris. All culture clashes, no doubt, but nothing like A Buffalonian in China. That would be John Sroka, engineer with the firm Harper International. From time to time, Sroka is sent to participate in seminars in China. On a recent trip there, he was served a platter of ... of... Sroka's homesick heart leapt as he recognized chicken wings. Touched by his hosts' apparent efforts to make him feel at home, he dug in with gusto. "I ate a lot of them," he said, "because I wanted them to know I thought they were good." Later, though, he got a shock. A Chinese gentleman beamed, "We've never seen any Westerner eat that many peacock heads."

Dent and scratch
Next time you behold your neighbor's old wreck covered with water park stickers, bird droppings and key scratches, don't berate. Curate! Take your cue from Artpark, where visitors have spent three weeks adorning a wacky vehicle called the Rivermobile. On display at the park through Aug. 17, the Rivermobile follows a freewheeling art tradition. "Artists have done everything from glue skulls and flowers on a Volkswagen to attach beads and shoe soles to a Coupe de Ville," Artpark explains. "Artists who see their cars as blank canvases will, after the canvas is filled, frequently drive them and use them as they would any ordinary Ford Escort, allowing everyone to see their masterpiece." All we can say is, thanks a heap.

Bet your bottom dollar
We found the smartest article! It tells all kinds of ways to tighten the belt. Watch those long-distance calls: "With austerity, you can reduce a $100 phone bill by 75 percent." Cut back on electricity: "You may have an extra refrigerator that sits in your basement chilling beer; turn it off. Check out every piece of hardware that demands electricity and start cutting down on its use." The author also tells how to skimp on medicine costs, hospital costs -- and more. Why save all this money, you ask? So you can have more to blow at the track. The story, called "Raising a Bankroll: Part IV," is from American Turf Monthly, a magazine for horse race enthusiasts.

Twisted sisters
Maybe it's our preponderance of Catholic schools, but Buffalonians tend to lose their grip when confronted with large numbers of nuns. Witness the confusion that reared its head one day downtown last week in M&T Plaza, when Mary Kate O'Connell and Co. presented excerpts from the musical "Nunsense." Passers-by kept asking, "Are those real nuns singing?" and "What are all those nuns doing here?" Patiently, organizers answered, "They're actresses." An executive working in One M&T Plaza even reported that a visitor to his office exclaimed: "There's some religious thing going on outside! All these nuns are out there singing and dancing." People! This is a play! A play! You know, like "War of the Worlds."

The buzz
Hipness quiz: Where were the following local celebs seen, all at the same time? Mayor Masiello and his wife and kids; Judge John T. Curtin; singer Tom Stahl; lawyers Gayle Eagan and Jim Molloy, and music promoter Artie Kwitchoff? Answer: The 11:30 a.m. Sunday Mass at Buffalo State College's Newman Center. Place to be! ... Two free concerts at the same time! Tonight at 5 in Lafayette Square, it's Scott Carpenter, plus Lance Diamond. At 6:30 in LaSalle Park, it's the Holmes Brothers, nationally known blues/gospel artists. What to do? What to do?

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