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"Kidnap Kids," by Todd Strasser; G.P. Putnam's Sons, 166 pages, $15.99.

Their mother is a high-powered lawyer prosecuting crazy militia types in a "Nut Bomber" case.

Their dad's job takes him to Asia for weeks at a time.

So Steven and Benjy are on their own, stuck in the house with a weird baby sitter named Dewey who lets them eat ice cream for breakfast, climb the walls and stay up late. Dewey doesn't even care if they brush their teeth or not.

Even when their busy parents are home, they're glued to their cell phones or their laptops.

So what does a kid have to do to get his parents' complete attention?

Maybe handcuff them to the treadmill, for starters.

Strasser offers a completely goofy, but always entertaining take on busy yuppie parents and their desperate kids' bid for attention. The hair-raising ending is a real page-turner, complete with a "bonding" experience that involves a terrifying flight from the "Nut Bomber" militia.

-- Jean Westmoore

Hold on to your socks! In Jest Comedy Productions will present "A Zany Show That Will Knock Your Socks Off" on Sunday in the Jewish Community Center, 2640 N. Forest Road, Getzville. The show is described as a one-of-a-kind vaudeville show for family. It features juggling, outrageous stunts and audience participation. The show's star, Nels Cremean, claims "the show is more fun than swimming in strawberry Jello!"

Show time is 2 p.m., and admission is $5.

Two goats living in Hollywood found some rolls of film and began eating.

"Tasty," said one.

"Not bad," said the other, "but I liked the book better."

Sign up! The YWCA of the Tonawandas and Niagara Frontier will offer a baby-sitting course from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 9 at the Y, 49 Tremont St., North Tonawanda. The American Red Cross will conduct the course for boys and girls ages 11 to 14.

The class will teach how to feed and dress infants, age-appropriate toys and games for young children, the proper way to answer the phone and door, fire safety, basic first aid and choking prevention. The course fee is $25. For information or to register, call the Y at 692-5580.

Q. Where did the expression "go the full nine yards" come from?

A. People have gone the whole nine yards trying to come up with the answer. But nobody has solved the mystery. A common idea is that "the whole nine yards" or "full nine yards" means the number of cubic feet of cement in a cement truck. So if you wanted a full load, you wanted "the whole nine yards." One problem: Different cement trucks carried different amounts.

Other people think nine yards was how much cloth it took to make a man's three-piece suit. Or how a long a rich bride's veil could be. (Princess Di's was about that long.) Or how much cloth is on rolls of fabric. (Sorry, not true.) Or the length of all the sails on some ships. Or how much coal a coal truck carried. Or maybe someone was making a football joke, since a team needs 10 yards for a first down.

But except for the cement trucks, those things were around before the 1940s and '50s. So why didn't the expression show up earlier?

Maybe still another idea is right. In World War II, the bullets for some machine guns were on belts that were nine yards long. So to really attack an enemy plane, a gunner used "the whole nine yards."

Sounds good. But, as they say, someone can probably shoot holes in that theory, too.

-- Knight Ridder

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