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A prep course for the month-long World Cup soccer tournament , a worldwide pheno menon to be played in the United

States for the first time beginning June 17 , i s available in a set of three home videos . Each of the three volumes by PolyGra m Video lists for $ 14.95 and has a running time of about 60 minutes . The three volumes : `` World Cup USA '94 : The Official Preview , '' which includes a tou rnament history with footage all the way back to the first World Cup held in 193 0 . There 's a look at the training of the 1994 U.S. team and a profile of Brazi l 's Pele , just 17 when he took the 1958 event by storm , repeating in 1962 and 1970 . `` Top 50 Great World Cup Goals , '' highlighting exciting moments from competition beginning in 1966 with favorites such as Pele , Johan Cruyff , Diego Maradona , Roberto Baggio , Salvatore `` Toto '' Schillaci and Franz Beckenbaue r . `` Great World Cup Superstars , '' focusing on the top names in the game , f eatured in the `` Goals '' cassette , and adding some interviews that offer an i nsight into what makes these stars shine . Three new basketball videos available : `` Sir Charles '' takes a look at the on-court intensity and dynamic skills o f Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns as well as his entertaining off-court pers ona. $ 19.98 , 50 minutes , 1-800-999-VIDEO . `` NBA Superstars 3 '' follows up on two previous hit videos meshing the moves of the NBA 's elite with today 's h it music . This one includes Kenny Anderson , Steve Smith , Derrick Coleman , La rry Johnson , Dan Majerle , Alonzo Mourning , Hakeem Olajuwon , Mark Price , Sha wn Kemp , Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars . Their play is matched with the music of Erick Sermon , M People , LL Cool J , Celine Dion , Domino , Soulhat , Soul Asyl um , Buckshot LeFonque , Branford Marsalis , Pearl Jam and Rozella. $ 19.98 , 50 minutes , 1-800-999-VIDEO . `` Hog Wild : The Official 1994 NCAA Championship V ideo '' recaptures the excitement of the latest edition of March Madness and Ark ansas 's march to the title with rousing victories over Michigan , Arizona and D uke in the three final games. $ 19.98 , 45 minutes , 1-800-747-7999 . Canadian River Expeditions offers a change from the usual theme-park vacation : five 11-day float trips from July 1 to Aug. 31 that take families through some o f British Columbia 's most scenic territory . Travel for these Chilcotin-Fraser tours is by yacht , seaplane and raft through deep fjords where bald eagles whee l through the sky and the water is filled with seals , whales and some of the bi ggest salmon in the world . Highlights include winging on a seaplane over icefie lds , hiking trips and fishing expeditions . The raft rides are not white knuckl e adventures it 's mostly gentle floating . A few hours a day are spent on the w ater , with the rest of the time devoted to guided sightseeing and nature walks . Price is $ 2,325 , including round-trip airfare to Vancouver , meals and accom modations , as well as camping gear . Call your travel agent or ( 604 ) 738-4449 . Trafalgar Tours is offering 16 `` Best of ... '' trips to Europe for 1994 . ` ` Best of Britain , '' for example , takes in all of England and Scotland in 15 days for $ 1,099 . A 14-day `` Best of France '' trip for $ 1,260 covers the cou ntry from north to south , including Monaco , and a `` Best of Switzerland '' it inerary combines Zurich , St. Moritz , Zermatt , Geneva , Interlaken and Lucerne in 9 nine days for $ 799 . Other packages are available for Spain , Italy , Ger many , Austria , Holland , Norway , Sweden and Denmark , Belgium and Holland , a mong others . Prices exclude airfare . Call your travel agent or ( 800 ) 457-689 1 . Airlines are offering , or continuing , special price packages for travelers flying to Europe , the Mideast and the Far East . IPI World Travel and Delta Ai rlines , for example , are rolling back prices for a `` China Highlights '' tour 14 days , departing in November and December , to Bejing , Shanghai , Xian Guil in and Hong Kong for $ 2,650 , including airfare from the East Coast . Delta als o runs several package tours to European cities : a `` Parisien Spree '' of 6 si x nights , breakfasts and a Seine River cruise , for $ 1,199 per person , double occupancy , round-trip from New York , and a `` Romantic Rome '' trip , with si milar features , for just $ 1,289 . El Al meanwhile sponsors a spring vacation p ackage that includes five nights ' accommodations in Tel Aviv , daily breakfasts and free rental car , for just $ 1,049 round-trip from New York City . Call you r travel agent or IPI at ( 212 ) 953-6010 or El Al Israeli Airlines at ( 800 ) E L AL SUN . Take a long weekend this summer and enjoy one of several two- to four -day walking tours of New York 's historic Hudson Valley from High Land Flings F

ootloose Holidays . Their `` Dutch Treat '' trip , June 3-5 , follows in the foo tsteps of colonial settlers through three National Historic landmark villages wh ere stone houses built by Dutch and Huguenot builders in the 17th century still stand . You 'll walk America 's oldest street in New Paltz , Main Street in Hurl ey and the Stockade area of Kingston , where the state 's constitution was writt en and adopted , and also visit the 1676 Senate House . Other walks cover the ar ea of Lake Minnewaska , Overlook Mountain near Woodstock and the northeastern Ca tskills . Prices range from $ 350 per person , double occupancy , for two-day wa lks to $ 699 for a four-day trip . Call ( 800 ) 453-6665 . Are frequent-flier awards worth all the trouble travelers sometimes go through t o rack up enough miles for a free trip ? Not according to a lengthy piece in the May issue of Worth magazine , which concludes that the programs are vastly over -rated . Then why do so many banks , rental-car companies , long-distance phone services and hotels reward their frequent customers with airline miles rather th an cash discounts or other perks ? Simple , says Worth contributing editor Jeff Blyskal , in the article entitled `` The Frequent-Flier Fallacy . '' Companies w ant to give premiums that combine the greatest perceived value with the lowest p ossible outlay , and frequent-flier miles are the perfect solution . Each freebi e ticket costs an airline only $ 11 to $ 42 , Blyskal calculates . The average d iscount to passengers amounts to 3.3 percent almost 2 percent less than you get by being a valued customer of Sears , he writes . His data showed the cost to a traveler for each award ranges from $ 929 with Southwest Airlines to $ 7,527 wit h Delta , which requires higher-than-average mileage minimums to collect a freeb ie . The dollar value of the freebies ranges from $ 56 with Southwest to $ 208 w ith United . The effective discounts passengers reap range from 1.5 percent ( US Air ) to 6 percent ( Southwest ) . Hotel frequent-guest programs typically provi de a 5 percent discount , as do numerous retailers ' programs , including Sears Best Customer , Blyskal found . The number of dollars spent to earn a domestic f reebie usually available after flying 20,000 miles typically ranges from $ 3,626 to $ 6,555 , he said . ( On Southwest Airlines , the average passenger gets a f ree trip after 7,104 miles because freebies are awarded by that carrier after ei ght round trips rather than a mileage minimum . ) Blyskal says his accounting sy stem gives airlines the benefit of the doubt in every aspect and was based on th e programs as they stand now before the program devaluations most airlines plan starting next year . The payback is even worse from affinity credit cards , he s ays , which generally award one frequent-flier mile per dollar charged . This tr anslates to an effective discount of just 0.7 percent on $ 20,000 in credit card spending needed to earn the $ 152 in value of the average free ticket , Blyskal figures . All in all , he says , to earn these paltry awards , travelers spend more on air travel in the first place than they have to because they often shun low-cost airlines that do not participate in frequent-flier programs . For examp le , he says , to earn 20,000 miles on United , a traveler would have to make 14 Newark-Chicago round trips at a cost of $ 12,348 . Fourteen round trips would c ost just a quarter of that $ 2,912 on upstart Kiwi International Airlines , whic h offers consistently low rates but no frequent-flier perks , he says . You say you do n't care about the price because your boss pays for a lot of your flights and lets you rake in the resulting frequent-flier perks ? Do n't let the compan y bean-counters get wind of the fact that you could be sent on 45 more Newark-Ch icago business trips for what it 's costing to ensure that you get your perk , B lyskal cautions . Add on the annual fees charged for some affinity cards , not t o mention high interest on purchases and maybe a computer program to help you ma nage your miles . And , of course , most travelers who earn a freebie purchase a ticket for their spouse or companion to accompany them which often is n't avail able at any discount whatsoever . Plus the hardest cost to quantify which may be the biggest cost of all , Blyskal says : the time many fliers spend obsessing o ver maximizing mileage for minimum payback . His advice ? Focus on service and l ow fares , not a possible freebie you may never collect . The State Department is taking a wait-and-see attitude after an American tourist was seriously injured in an attack May 10 by a man with a machete on a remote s tretch of beach in the Cayman Islands . The State Department issues information

about petty street crime , but not violence , in the Caribbean islands it groups as the British West Indies . `` We 're looking at whether this remains an isola ted incidence or if it 's an indication of a threat to other tourists , '' said Gary Sheaffer , department spokesman . At the opposite end of the Caribbean , on the island of Trinidad off the coast of Venezuela , a honeymooning Canadian cou ple was found beaten and dead on a beach May 11 , with their valuables nearby in their unlocked rental car , a Canadian government spokeswoman confirmed . Trini dadian and Canadian police are still investigating , she said . `` This is the f irst time this has happened to Canadians in Trinidad . It 's probably a good ide a not to frequent deserted beaches , whether it 's Trinidad or Florida , '' said Lely Campbell-Ferreira . Sheaffer said the U.S. . State Department was not awar e of the incident . Now you have legroom , now you do n't . TWA , which created its much-advertised Comfort Class in coach last year by taking 40 seats out of i ts cabins , is putting 34 seats back in planes flying its most popular routes th is summer . The airline is re-installing the seats on only 10 planes ( the 747-1 00s ) out of its fleet of 189 `` to meet high market demand '' for the summer , mostly on overseas flights , said spokesman Don Fleming . The rest of the fleet will retain Comfort Class . And TWA will re-evaluate seating in the fall and cou ld very well take the seats out again . Most of the flights with more legs and l ess room this summer fly out of New York : to Athens , Rome , Madrid , Milan , P aris , New York to St. Louis to Honolulu , one flight daily from New York to Los Angeles and St. Louis to Gatwick , London . Ask about Comfort Class before maki ng a reservation . Buzzwords that Cunard honchos recently bandied about as they described the upcoming $ 45 million refurbishment of the cruise line 's flagship , the Queen Elizabeth 2 , which made its maiden transatlantic voyage in 1969 , were `` enhance '' and `` flow . '' Which translates into opening up more spaces all over the ship : adding a second-story deck promenade to give the Midship Lo bby an atriumlike look , eliminating the odd dead-end corridor , redesigning the directional signs ( all `` to enhance passenger flow '' ) and adding a new obse rvation lounge at the rear of the ship with panoramic windows yielding an uninte rrupted view . The new art-deco- , neo-classical-inspired decor will be ripe wit h texture , replete with marble , resounding in architectural detail and rich in earthtones , all `` enhanced '' with the QE2 's memorabilia , such as old chart s and lots of regal art . All 900 cabins will be refurbished and all bathrooms r ebuilt . Ditto on restaurants , where quality of service will , of course , be ` ` enhanced . '' The refurbishment will commence Nov. 30 and take about 30 days , Cunard officials said . So will all this `` enhance '' prices ? `` The cost of cruising has never gone down , '' noted Navin Sawnhey , senior vice president of marketing . The QE2 now offers a range of fares and cruises , with its transatl antic voyage priced from $ 1,395 to $ 10,745 , per person , double , with return air travel . You can n't party all night long in Greece anymore . Nightclubs , bars and restaurants formerly with all-night entertainment now must close by 2:3 0 a.m. in summer , 2 a.m. in winter and 3:30 a.m. on Saturday . So you will n't be sleepless in Seattle , the Seattle-King County Visitors Bureau is operating a free reservation service : ( 800 ) 535-7071 . A new service offers travelers a fax mailbox to retrieve stored faxes with any machine by calling a toll-free num ber in the United States . For rate info , call AlphaNet Telecom at ( 212 ) 9321554 . I think there are several reasons why , in polite company , we rarely talk about our discharges . I mention this in connection with endorphins , which , I notic e , people have begun to discuss with relative strangers , just the way people f ormerly discussed their cholesterol at parties . Do you remember that ? Outwardl y normal person : `` Do you know what my cholesterol was last week ? Myself : `` Sir , I do not . '' Outwardly normal person : `` It was ( mentions very good ch olesterol count ) . '' Myself : `` That is good . '' Outwardly normal person : ` ` What , you do n't believe me ? '' Myself : `` I say no such thing . '' Outward ly normal person : `` If there 's a problem here , I know a medical lab that 's open until 8 . We 'll take my Q45 and I 'll get re-tested and you can see exactl y what my cholesterol is . '' I was never sure about how to participate in these conversations , because , first of all , I would never say `` my cholesterol .

'' My creed is that cholesterol belongs to the universe or the Great Spirit . We 're just borrowing it for a little while . Which raises a question : Let 's say you do get your cholesterol down . Where does it go ? Is it just out there , st icking to the faces of babies in perambulators and gumming up the wings of the g reat-crested kingfisher ? Now it is endorphins . Endorphins are a sore subject w ith me , because I 'm pretty sure I do n't have any . Other people do , and some times they seem to be bragging about them . `` I was up on the Nordic Combat mac hine last night , and I had it set at level eight , which simulates hand-to-hand combat with a huge , grunting , mead-addled Hun . Boy , after 45 minutes , thos e endorphins were really flowing . '' The idea is that endorphins are chemicals that , under certain circumstances , begin squirting out of somewhere inside you r head and making your brain feel better . I picture the system as comparable to those nozzles in highly evolved produce sections , where a soothing mist sighs out over the kale and the arugula , like the strange fogs that gather ' round Be n Bulben 's bare head . I have been known to tarry there for extra moments , wat ching the wet shades and phantoms dance over the ruby swiss chard . Endorphins a re supposed to calm the mind and kill pain and produce peak experiences , such a s the `` runner 's high . '' I have never had a runner 's high or a swimmer 's h igh or any particular reaction to strenuous exercise except the keen sense of ho w exhausted I was and how eager I was to stop swimming or running . And I know f ull well that my brain is a tightly wired network of fright sensors , discomfort gauges and humming monitors of self-concern . There is nothing up there that co ats my fevered mind in soothing syrup , and even if there were it would just sho rt everything out . So maybe I do n't have endorphins , but even if I did , woul d I mention them ? My normal assumption is that there is no widespread appetite for information about my secretions . `` My gall bladder was on the job yesterda y afternoon . I was pumping some big-time bile , emulsifying those fats in my du odenum . Bless my soul . '' To the endorphin-proud , I am often tempted to point out that one theory about endorphins is that they were originally bestowed upon animals , such as cats , for whom sex is excruciatingly painful . They were a l ittle payoff , nature 's way of saying , `` Thanks for perpetuating the species even though that felt like being probed by a briar patch . '' Under those circum stances , I maintain that the civilized course is to live with pain and terror . If things get intolerable , there 's always the option of scootching the chicor y aside and lying down for a while next to the red leaf lettuce . By conventional wisdom , there are certain things you simply do n't do , right ? You do n't drink on an empty stomach . You do n't spit into the wind and , of c ourse , you never escort the bride 's father to the bachelor party . But for par ents of young children , one do n't has always outdistanced all the rest . You d o n't go to Disney World during school holidays . People who have disobeyed this commandment litter Orlando like lost souls , their hollow eyes bespeaking the d rubbing they have taken at the Tourist Capital of the Universe . Their children drag behind , in tears , muttering , `` We 'll be good now , Daddy . We promise . Please. Can we wait two more hours on another line ? '' School holidays at Dis ney World are crowded with a capital C , chaos with , well , a capital K . The l ines are legendary , the sun is hot and the living uneasy . But I did it . I sur vived . I even had a good time , and you can , too even if you visit at a peak p eriod , such as the three summer months . All you have to do is follow some simp le advice , which I 'm sharing on the condition that you do n't go blabbing it t o all the neighbors . Because the secret here is to go where they IS n't and , b elieve you me , at Disney , an incautious word about an empty attraction can tur n the Road Less Traveled into a Superhighway faster than you can say Jiminy Cric ket . Rule No. 1 , then , is plan ahead . This trite little maxim will seem bibl ical in depth when you 've watched The Unprepared spin out of control like weath er vanes in the wind . I myself had envisioned being a bit laid back about the w hole affair until I mentioned my vacation to a few friends : `` I 'm planning on bringing the wife and my 5-year-old daughter down to Disney World this Easter . '' They looked at me as if I were a few sandwiches short of a picnic . That 's when I finally realized that you do n't approach Disney World like a visit to an amusement park . You approach it like the invasion of a small country . Think o

f it as the Duchy of Grand Fenwick and begin preparing your counterattack on the Mouse That Roared . Of course , if you are a Zen master , and view crowds as a natural event , like waves in the ocean , skip ahead to Tip No. 2 . But the rest of you , buy a guide book and start reading . Otherwise you will be trampled by those who know that you have to be at Dumbo by 10 a.m. to avoid an hour 's wait . If you do n't believe me , listen to Bob Sehingler , whose guide to Disneylan d I manage to find and use . `` It 's easy to spot the free spirits at Disneylan d , '' he wrote , `` particularly at opening time . While everybody else is stam peding to Splash Mountain or Star Tours , they are the ones standing in a cloud of dust puzzling over the park map . Later , they are the people running around like chickens in a thunderstorm trying to find an attraction with less than a fo rty-minute wait . '' Convinced ? Then make sure you abide by Rule No.2 . Get up early . How early ? Sick early . Dawn is too late at Disney World . One morning our wake-up call at the Grand Floridian , a Disney hotel , came at 5:45 a.m. . T he hotel operator could n't help laughing at me . It was pitch black outside . T he drunks still had n't gotten home . But you know what ? There were plenty of p eople ahead of us when we boarded the monorail for the Magic Kingdom at 6:30 a.m . , taking advantage of a 90-minute early opening for Disney Resort guests . ( B egin optional trim ) Up Main Street we streamed , past street lamps still lit fr om the night before . Everyone tried so hard to pretend they were n't running . It looked like a huge trial heat for the Olympic walking team . All that paranoi a paid off , however . In the next hour we were able to board four or five rides that had been swamped the previous afternoon . One hour after the parks open to the general public , major attractions have major lines . At Space Mountain , S plash Mountain and Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom , Spaceship Ea rth in Epcot and Star Tours at MGM , you can expect a line of at least half an h our . At Dumbo , forget it . This dinky little ride featuring that darling littl e elephant draws children like flies . I waited 45 minutes one day for a 45-seco nd ride . If you have to ride rides in the afternoon , try to do so during parad e times , when lines go from maddening to manageable . ( End optional trim ) To make the trip back to the hotel as painless as possible , however , remember Rul e No. 3 . Stay as close as possible to the parks . This can seem silly when the Budgetbear Hotel 10 miles away is offering Hoedown Weekend at five bucks a night . Believe me , that will not seem like a bargain for long . After becoming disg usted at the honky tonk sprawl that sprung up around Disneyland , Father Disney decreed it would not happen again . So Disney World is surrounded by virgin acre s . The trip to the Magic Kingdom from the highway is itself a five-mile ride , complete with tollbooth . Then you have to take a tram to the booths to buy tick ets and then a boat ride to an admissions gate , and then you have to traverse M ain Street USA to get to any real rides . This can be an exhausting experience . You can avoid a lot of the hassle by staying in one of the Disney hotels , whic h run the gamut from reasonable to ridiculous in price . Disney resort guests no t only receive free transportation to the parks but also enjoy the early opening times . And resort guests never have to worry about the parking lots closing . ( Begin optional trim ) We stayed at the Grand Floridian , Disney 's deluxe hote l , which is but a five-minute monorail ride from the Magic Kingdom and about 20 minutes by monorail or bus from Epcot and MGM . The Floridian set us back about $ 350 a night . But my theory was that , on a day when the crowds make me retre at to my room , it would be best if the room did not look like a small cell at R ikers Island . The Floridian delivered most of what I wanted from a luxury hotel . It reminded me of the racetrack at Saratoga all red turrets and Victorian bal ustrades after Mary Poppins had taken over and banned all the betting . Very cle an . Very proper . Lots of people in knickers . Our room was large , salmon in c olor and nicely furnished . ( End optional trim ) At some point you just have to get away from the crowds , sit down , eat and relax . Arranging that is somethi ng of a feat , however , in peak periods when lines for a simple soda may stretc h back to bygone days . One way to beat the problem is to apply Rule No. 4 . Boo k restaurants early . Resort guests can book up to three days in advance ; other s up to one day . Tip No. 5 . Be flexible . Some things you just cannot plan . R ides break down . People have strange reactions to food and find themselves , as

my daughter calls it , `` disembarfing . '' You just have to deal with it . Leonard Bernstein once scoffed at the notion that there is such a thing as a sin gle , ideal , unimprovable musical interpretation of a piece of music . We shoul d be similarly skeptical of the proposition , already put forward by a few early reviewers , that Humphrey Burton 's fat new biography of Bernstein is somehow ` ` definitive . '' Definitive it 's not , both because the idea itself is meaning less and because the life in question is too complex and too recently ended to b e definitively written about . The nearly-600-page `` Leonard Bernstein '' can , however , make this considerable , if limited , claim : It 's the best we have so far . The book is dutiful , exhaustive ( sometimes to a fault ) , respectful without being fawning . And to deal quickly with an issue that all Lenny fans wi ll be unworthily wondering about , it handles Bernstein 's complicated sexual li fe a sort of strenuous omnisexuality , it seems , with a steady pull toward homo sexuality in an unblinking but decently compassionate way . On the other hand , the book is not very excitingly written and could have benefited from some tight er editing . It 's a portrait , a sketch , written by a longtime friend a TV pro ducer , not a musician who 's smart , unsentimental , who has had access to pile s of important letters . And such letters ! Tender , hope-filled youthful notes to Aaron Copland , or his parents ; letters of euphoria and gratitude to his ear ly mentor Serge Koussevitzky at the Boston Symphony Orchestra ; letters of stead ily rising confidence to his lifelong confidante , Helen Coates ; letters of alm ost unbearable conflict to his finacee and later wife , Felicia , as the despera te-to-be-loved Bernstein gropes with the for him especially problematic possibil ities of marriage and monogamy . Burton gently debunks a few press-agent Lennyis ms that have wafted unchallenged into the general consciousness . One of these c oncerns Bernstein 's supposed roots in jazz . Unlike , say , Andre Previn , who is a certifiable jazz man , Bernstein was really not steeped in the tradition , a fact that Burton addresses crisply : `` Bernstein 's knowledge of jazz was che erful and enthusiastic but essentially superficial . Jazz musicians never though t much of his gifts as an improviser . '' Burton also calls attention to Bernste in 's dainty total output as a composer , a fact that Bernstein himself often ru ed later in life . Burton points out that between 1957 , after `` West Side Stor y ' ' opened , and 1971 , when his `` Mass '' had its premiere at the Kennedy Ce nter in Washington , Bernstein managed just two works : the `` Kaddish '' Sympho ny and `` Chichester Psalms . '' The two works together total less than an hour of music . Burton also offers a brief but instructive and clarifying view of the infamous 1969 party for the Black Panthers , held at the Bernstein apartment on New York 's Park Avenue . Tom Wolfe 's subsequent New York Magazine piece about the party coined the smug term `` radical chic '' and tried to offer Bernstein as a comical , desperate figure , or , as Burton paraphrases it , a `` naive bum bler who hobnobbed with terrorists . '' The important , often overlooked truth w as that it was Felicia 's party , and Lenny merely staggered into it . That Wolf e 's piece , which looks increasingly weak and smart-alecky as the years go by , was able to create such a stir is testimony to the then-novelty of what has sin ce become a journalistic commonplace : the sanctimonious , questionably motivate d trashing of the famous . The book 's treatment of Bernstein 's last years publ icly lionized , privately an impulsive , reckless widower is touching . We feel the regret , the self-doubt , the overextended emotional resources , but also , finally , the greatness , a verdict that had long been withheld in some quarters but which by the end had become nearly unamimous . Burton 's book gives us , in sum , the first real full-length , intellectually worthy picture of Bernstein t he man endearing , effusive , exasperating , irreplaceable . It 's a man who gav e classical music a humanity it needed and still needs , a man to whom a friend could send a telegram on the occasion of Lenny 's first audience with the pope t hat read in its entirety : `` REMEMBER : THE RING , NOT THE LIPS . '' Big guns John Grisham and Tom Clancy are weighing in with new beach books . So a re Peter Benchley , Cormac McCarthy , Edna O' Brien , E.L. Doctorow and Ken Kese y . Here 's a look at the major fiction due out this summer . Some books may be in stores before their official publication date . A young lawyer takes up the c ase of a Klansman on death row in John Grisham 's `` The Chamber '' ( Doubleday

) . Late May . Something scary is lurking off the Connecticut shore , but what i s it and why is it killing people ? The answers lie in `` White Shark '' ( Rando m House ) , the latest don't-go-near-the-water thriller by Peter Benchley ( `` J aws , '' `` Beast '' ) . June . Cormac McCarthy 's `` The Crossing '' ( Knopf ) is the second book in a projected Western trilogy that began with the best-selli ng `` All the Pretty Horses . '' An escaped IRA terrorist finds sanctuary in a r emote house outside an Irish village inhabited by a widow in Edna O' Brien 's `` House of Splendid Isolation '' ( Farrar Straus Giroux ) . `` The Waterworks '' ( Random House ) , E.L. Doctorow 's newest historical novel , is set in Gilded-A ge New York . The timing sounds perfect for this satire : In Christopher Buckley 's `` Thank You for Smoking '' ( Random House ) , a PR man for the tobacco indu stry is targeted by an anti-smoking zealot . Someone is killing Oklahoma 's stat e legislators in `` Fine Lines '' ( Random House ) , the sixth One-Eyed Mack mys tery by PBS 's Jim Lehrer . A man who is actually a vampire kills the childhood enemies of his best friend in David ( `` Lie to Me '' ) Martin 's `` Tap Tap '' ( Random House ) . In Robert B . Parker 's new Spenser mystery , `` Walking Shad ow '' ( Putnam ) , the Boston P.I. investigates a murder at a small repertory th eater . `` Black Betty '' ( Norton ) is the new Easy Rawlins mystery by Walter M osley , whose fans include Bill Clinton . Actress Meg Tilly makes her writing de but in `` Singing Songs '' ( Dutton ) , a coming-of-age novel about a girl trapp ed in a dysfunctional family . `` Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights '' ( Hyperio n ) , a novel about a black firefighter , is Susan Straight 's follow-up to `` I Been in Sorrow 's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots . '' July . Ken Kesey ( w ith Ken Babbs ) has written a historical novel about the 1911 battle for the Wor ld Championship Broncbusting title in `` Last Go Round : A Dime Western '' ( Vik ing ) . `` Generations of Winter '' by Vassily Aksyonov ( Random House ) follows the fortunes of one Moscow family from 1928-1945 . Actor-turned-best-selling-au thor Kirk Douglas is back with a new novel , `` Last Tango in Brooklyn '' ( Warn er ) , the story of a May-December romance . `` The Gift '' by Danielle Steel ( Delacorte ) is set in the Midwest in the 1950s . `` Rare and Endangered Species '' by Richard Bausch ( Houghton Mifflin ) is a collection of short stories by th e author of `` Rebel Powers . '' `` The Unicorn Hunt '' ( Knopf ) is the fifth i nstallment in Dorothy Dunnett 's saga of Nicholas van der Poele in 15th-century Europe . `` Arise and Walk '' by Barry Gifford ( Hyperion ) is a novel of femini st revenge by the author of `` Wild at Heart . '' Alan Sternberg 's `` Camaro Ci ty '' ( Harcourt Brace ) is a collection of stories about a Connecticut factory town that has lost its factories . `` Shear '' by Tim Parks ( Grove Press ) is a new novel of psychological suspense by the author of `` Juggling the Stars . '' Yet another actor , Stephen Collins , has decided to try his luck at fiction wi th `` Eye Contact '' ( Bantam ) , about an actress suspected of murder . August . Jack Ryan is called out of retirement to serve as the new president 's nationa l security adviser as trouble brews in Japan in Tom Clancy 's `` Debt of Honor ' ' ( Putnam ) . Carol Higgins Clark , daughter of suspense queen Mary Higgins Cla rk , has written a new Regan Reilly mystery called `` Iced '' ( Warner ) . Paul Auster 's `` Mr. Vertigo '' ( Viking ) is a novel of 1920s and '30s America . Bi ll Maher , host of Comedy Central 's `` Politically Incorrect , '' has written a book about five aspiring comics in the mid- '70s called `` True Story : A Comed y Novel '' ( Random House ) . Thomas Mallon ( `` Aurora 7 '' ) re-creates the st ory of Henry and Clara Rathbone , the young couple who sat in President Lincoln 's theater box the night he was assassinated , in `` Henry and Clara '' ( Tickno r & Fields ) . `` Dixie City Jam '' by James Lee Burke ( Hyperion ) reprises Dav e Robicheaux from `` In the Electric Mist With Confederate Dead . '' Is `` Goodnight Moon '' making you loony ? Does the phrase , `` And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush , '' run ' round your brain like some Lite Mixed Variety tune piped into the dentist 's office ? Maybe it 's time to experiment w ith some new bedtime fare . Oh , do n't desert the great green room of Margaret Wise Brown 's classic . Just supplement `` Goodnight Moon '' with some other boo ks that have a going-to-bed theme . Here are a few of the newer ones : My favori te is `` Good Night , Gorilla , '' by Peggy Rathman ( G.P. Putnam 's Sons , $ 12 .95 , 36 pages , ages 1-4 ) . After sharing it with a giggling toddler , you 'll

wonder why more picture books do n't have a sense of humor . The text is incred ibly simple . A sleepy zoo keeper is making his last round , saying `` good nigh t '' to each of the animals as he walks past the cages . First on his route is t he gorilla , which surreptitiously snatches the key ring from the zoo keeper 's belt . The gorilla unlocks his cage and follows the keeper through the zoo . As soon as the keeper says , `` Good night , Elephant , '' the gorilla uses a color -coded key to release the elephant . The same thing happens with the lion , hyen a , giraffe and armadillo , who fall into line behind the gorilla . Soon they 'r e all tiptoeing behind the keeper as he walks to his house , opens the door and heads down the hall to his bedroom . When he climbs into bed next to his sleepin g wife , she stirs and says , `` Good night , dear . '' Imagine her surprise whe n each of the animals , curling up for the night in her bedroom , responds , `` Good night . '' On the next page , actually a double-page spread of inky black , all we see are the whites of her frightened eyes . She flips on the light , and the animals flash sheepish grins her way . But she gets up and leads them back to their cages anyway . Everyone settles into the right cage the elephant with h is Babar doll , the armadillo with his stuffed Ernie from Sesame Street . Everyo ne , that is , except gorilla . Kids will cheer his great escape , sensing that it just might be a nightly occurrence . `` Good Night ! '' written by Claire Mas urel , illustrated by Marie H. Henry ( Chronicle , $ 12.95 , 32 pages , ages 2-6 ) is about nighttime rituals . As a little girl gets ready for bed , she gather s up all her dolls and stuffed animals . There is no doubt who 's in charge . `` Silly Oscar , '' she tells the clown doll . `` It 's not time to play cards ! I t 's time to go to bed . '' Her stuffed dragon can n't watch any more TV . Her r ag doll can n't read any more books . This little girl is giving the orders , an d kids will enjoy sharing her sense of empowerment . When dogs dream , their leg s pumping like pistons , are they catching squirrels and nabbing rabbits ? Naw. `` Dreaming '' by Bobette McCarthy ( Candlewick Press , $ 12.95 , 32 pages , age s 3 and up ) stars a salty dog who dreams of sailing the ocean blue . His wicker bed is transformed into a rowboat : Awash and away , I drift through the night , Through mizzle and moonlight , Through darkness , through light . Eventually h e drifts back to the seaside home of his human family , where a little boy has b een waiting for him to wake up . There 's nothing like cuddling up with your kid to read a slow , sleepy story , and then waking up three hours later cramped in the corner of her twin bed , a book on your nose and a crick in your neck . Kid s who live for those nights when they outlast their parents will enjoy `` A Quie t Night In , '' by Jill Murphy ( Candlewick Press , $ 12.95 , 32 pages , ages 3 and up ) . The Larges a family of elephants that debuted in Murphy 's `` Five Mi nutes ' Peace '' are celebrating Mr . Large 's birthday . Mrs . Large gets all t he children ready for bed early so she and Mr . Large can enjoy a quiet dinner b y candlelight . But before they retire , the kids talk Dad into reading them a s tory . He conks out , and they persuade Mom to finish the book . She 's snoring a few pages later , and the kids are quite happy to tuck her in next to Dad on t he couch . After all , Mom and Dad did want a quiet night in . Llamas will carry the load on a three-day guided hiking and camping trip in the Chugach Mountains just east of Anchorage , Alaska , beginning Sept. 16 . Each hi ker will have his or her own llama to carry a tent , sleeping bag and pad , pers onal items and backcountry cooking supplies to the Williwaw Lakes area , normall y ablaze in color and ripe blueberries in September . The hiking pace is relaxed , with time for photography and nature study . Meals are cooked by guides , usi ng fresh ingredients at campsites . Cost : $ 375 per person including all campin g supplies , meals and llamas . Not included : air fare to Anchorage and shuttle service to the trail head . Contact : Llama Buddies Expeditions , P.O. . Box 87 4995 , Wasilla , Alaska 99687-4995 ; telephone ( 907 ) 376-8472 . -0- A six-day road trip for baseball fans begins Aug. 23 in Boston at the Copley Square Hotel , from which participants leave for an evening game in Fenway Park . The next da y , sports buffs motor-coach to Cooperstown , N.Y. , to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame . The trip continues with two games at Yankee Stadium in New York , one at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and one at Camden Yards in Baltimore , with motor-coach transportation from site to site . Participants eat at local restaur

ants . Cost : $ 675 per person , double occupancy including game tickets , hotel s , ground transportation and guide . Not included : all meals and air fare to B oston and from Baltimore . Contact : Sports Tours Inc. , P.O. Box 84 , Hatfield , Mass. 01038 ; tel . ( 800 ) 722-7701 . -0- For fans of Southern history , hors es , antiques and regional architecture , two five-day bicycling trips through t he heart of Kentucky 's Bluegrass Country leave Lexington on Oct. 16 and 23 . Cy cling is on traffic-free back roads with gentle terrain for riders of any abilit y . Participants stop at Kentucky Horse Park and Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill , and tour Harrodsburg , Kentucky 's oldest town . Participants spend nights in antique-furnished inns along the way and eat traditional Kentucky cooking . Cos t : $ 1,045 per person , double occupancy , including lodging , meals and snacks , van support and guides . Not included : bike rental ( $ 109 ) and round-trip air fare . Contact : Backroads , 1516 Fifth St. , Suite PR84 , Berkeley 94710-17 40 ; tel . ( 800 ) 462-2848 . -0- A 49-day around-South America cruise aboard th e 729-passenger Regent Sea will depart Ft . Lauderdale , Fla. , on Oct. 14 . Pas sengers will witness the total solar eclipse of Nov. 3 off the coast of Brazil , near Rio de Janeiro . Guest scientists aboard ship will lecture and discuss the eclipse , the constellation known as the Southern Cross and the so-called Magel lanic Clouds . Participants also will see Antarctic glaciers , the Strait of Mag ellan , Chilean fiords and the Andes Mountains , before transiting the Panama Ca nal . Some stops on the tour will include St. Thomas , in the U.S. Virgin Island s ; Barbados ; Santiago , Chile , and Lima , Peru . Cost : $ 5,442 from Los Ange les , including all meals and ship facilities . Not included : gratuities , port charges and optional land excursion costs . Contact : Regency Cruises , 260 Mad ison Ave. , New York 10016 ; tel . ( 212 ) 972-4499 . -0- ECLIPSE IN BOLIVIA A s ix-day , land-based eclipse-viewing trip to Bolivia leaves Miami for La Paz on O ct. 31 . Tour members stay at a downtown hotel in the Bolivian capital and take leisurely tours of the city including the Witches ' Market . An all-night train trip to the `` center line '' of the eclipse 's course , between Sevaruyo and Ri o Mulatos , follows . A box dinner will be provided on the train , but no sleepi ng accommodations . After the eclipse , participants will continue by train to t he small village of Huatajata on the shores of Lake Titicaca for an overnight at the Hotel Inca Utama , then cruise by hydrofoil to Copacabana , Sun and Suriqui islands before returning to La Paz . Cost : $ 1,695 per person , double occupan cy , including round-trip air fare from Miami , hotels , trains , sightseeing an d most meals . Not included : air fare from Los Angeles to Miami . Contact : Tra vel Bug International , P.O. . Box 178247 , San Diego 92177-8247 ; tel . ( 800 ) 247-1900 . Considering that the United Nations has recently created a Bosnian war-crimes tr ibunal , Joseph Persico 's `` Nuremberg '' could hardly have arrived at a more o pportune moment . Persico , who is the author of a fine biography of William Cas ey , displays sleuthing skills worthy of the former CIA director in tracing the course of the trial that sought to establish a basis for prosecuting internation al atrocities . This is no dry-as-dust account , but a vivid reconstruction of t he actions of the wartime Allies and the Nazi elite at Nuremberg . Using the pri vate papers of the Nuremberg prison psychiatrist , the letters and journals of p risoners , and accounts of the battles between the prosecutors and judges , Pers ico easily carries us into a deeper understanding of the trials . Persico 's boo k does suggest that justice at Nuremberg will remain a noble idea murdered by a gang of ugly facts . The United States designed the trials in the heady days aft er World War II . Nuremberg was to signal not only the triumph of superior might , but also the victory of superior morality . Like the United Nations and the W orld Bank , the Nuremberg trials were an integral part of the postwar new world order that the wise men of the American establishment attempted to create after 1945 . Today the Un ited States lacks the confidence and the United Nations the power to realize that dream . The menace of a loaded gun remains more potent tha n a diplomatic brief . Still , the great merit of Persico 's book is to remind u s that the undertaking itself was a success . Nuremberg 's most significant acco mplishment was to confront the German people with crimes planned and perpetrated by the Nazis . Unlike World War I , the Germans could not seek refuge in the my

th of a stab in the back . The trials showed that they had stabbed themselves in the back . Some of the most fascinating passages in Persico 's book center on t he responses of the Nazi ringleaders to the overwhelming evidence of concentrati on camps and mass shootings introduced at the trials . One of the most odious ca ses was that of the former Nazi governor-general of Poland , Hans Frank . In ord er to overcompensate for his partly Jewish ancestry , Frank became one of the mo st fervent anti-Semites among the Nazis . So determined was Frank to prove his l oyalty to Nazism that he had all of his rema rks condemning the Jews , and boast ing of exploiting 1.3 million Poles for forced labor , recorded for posterity . Frank 's voluminous records would form one of the key sources for the Nuremberg prosecutors . At the trials , Frank veered between acknowledging and repudiating guilt for his crimes . Hermann Goering , by contrast , mustered up his old brav ado . Goering , whose outsized personality made him a favorite with the American GIs , managed to bully most of his fellow defendants into refusing to plead gui lty . Indeed , Persico shows that under cross-examination the cunning Goering ev en got the upper hand over his famous American prosecutor , Robert Jackson . Goe ring managed to cheat the hangman as well . Persico , who seeks to clear up the mystery surrounding Goering 's suicide , argues that upon enter ing prison Goeri ng secreted a cyanide capsule in his luggage and persuaded a member of the priso n staff to take pieces of luggage from the baggage room for him . Perhaps the mo st sinister figure at the trial was the cultivated technocrat Albert Speer , one of the few in the dock who received a jail term rather than a death sentence . Though Speer used millions of foreign workers as slave labor , he managed to shi ft responsibility onto his boorish subordinate Fritz Sauckel . By taking the bla me for Nazism in the broadest sense but avoiding any particulars , Speer managed to tell the judges what they wanted to be told . Speer portrayed the Nazis as e mbodying the dange rs of a military technology that would pose even greater dang ers to humanity in the future . As Persico puts it , Speer presented himself to the court `` not as a man pleading for his life , but as one who had something v aluable to tell them , someone with a vision born of redemption after immersion in evil . '' Indeed , as Speer had correctly calculated , his contrition contras ted starkly with the stonewalling of his colleagues . In the teeth of the eviden ce , Generals Jodl and Keitel denied culpability for the atrocities on the Easte rn front . The foppish foreign minister Joachim Ribbentrop claimed that Germany had merely emulated America 's occupation of the New World . Persico , who illum inates the pitiful character of most of the Nazi leadership , does not draw the obvious conclusion that there was nothing particularly exceptional about the cha racter of most of Hitler 's henchmen . Ordinary men committed extraordinary crim es . In that sense , the spirit of Nuremberg lives on in Bosnia . Helyar ( Villard , $ 24 ; 576 pages ) . Hyman is a sports reporter for the Balti more Sun Reviewed by Mark Hyman ( c ) 1994 , The Baltimore Sun If John Helyar wi nds up on the best seller list with `` Lords of the Realm : The Real History of Baseball , '' it will be for the anecdotes . Exhibit A : As an infant players un ion is taking shape in 1967 , its new leader , Marvin Miller , calls a meeting a nd instructs players to write down their most serious grievances with the owners . Pitcher Milt Pappas , a former Baltimore Oriole , spoke for his colleagues fi rmly in the grip of the mod generation . `` There are n't enough outlets for hai r dryers in the clubhouses , '' he thundered . Exhibit B : William D. Eckert , r etired one-star general , briefly baseball commissioner in the late 1960s and ea rly '70s , had a remarkable penchant for confusing people and events . A notorio usly passionless public speaker , Eckert once began delivering remarks to an aud ience of baseball officials before realizing the speech was intended for the Ret ired Airline Pilots Association . Exhibit C : Charles O . Finley ran a cut-rate front office in his final years of owning the Oakland A's . By 1978 , the entire operation was down to six people , including a 16-year-old office assistant nam ed Stanley Burrell . Burrell has since changed his name to MC Hammer , the rap s tar , now called just plain Hammer . Helyar 's book is rich with such stories . But it 's clearly more than a collection of quotable quotes and front-office tri via . Instead , what Helyar offers is surely one of the most complete and provoc ative histories ever written of major-league baseball as it has played out in ow

ners ' suites and across the collective bargaining table . It 's a tad intimidat ing at 576 pages , but considering he begins with Elysian Fields in the 1840s , and carries the story through the sale of the Orioles last fall to Peter G. Ange los , the book is anything but long-winded . A word about Helyar : He may not be as familiar to readers of sports books as Pete Golenbock or John Feinstein , wh o between them have covered every topic but the secret world of stadium ushers . But Helyar 's credentials are substantial . His `` Barbarians at the Gate '' wa s a big best seller . He has built a reputation as a solid reporter covering spo rts business issues for The Wall Street Journal . In this book , Helyar tells hi s story , in part , as he profiles some of baseball 's most influential and , wh en the author is through , least likable characters . In the process , more than a few myths are exploded . ( Begin optional trim ) For instance , he sheds a di fferent sort of light on Kenesaw Mountain Landis , the iron-willed judge credite d with bringing baseball back from the brink after the 1919 Black Sox scandal . Helyar has discovered more : `` Under Landis , the morals of baseball were purif ied and the business of baseball was ossified . '' Landis , he writes , was amon g the least progressive men of his day . He said no to lights at Crosley Field i n Cincinnati , vowing there would be no night baseball in the big leagues in his lifetime . He said no to a beer company that wanted to buy advertising on World Series radio broadcasts . If it was new , Landis said no . Other notables appea r equally as unsympathetic in Helyar 's narrative . The list is lengthy , and in cludes former baseball commissioners Peter Ueberroth and Bowie Kuhn and former o wners led by the pre-eminent owner of his generation , Walter O' Malley of the B rooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers . The miracle of Ueberroth is that he lasted as long in the job as he did , given he barely could hide his contempt for the owners . `` He treated them like retarded children , '' says a lawyer , unnamed , quoted by Helyar . ( End optional trim ) If there is a hero in the story , it is Mille r , the man who brought the players union into the 20th century , who stared dow n the owners , broke the reserve clause and paved the way for today 's million-d ollar salaries . Predictably , the owners despised him and , in Helyar 's tellin g , spent years calling him a collection of names , not all fit for this newspap er . This book is not always satisfying . For all its thoroughness , it uncovers few important news stories . There 's also the issue of sourcing . Helyar write s in a seamless , tightly organized style more like a technothriller than a nonf iction baseball book . In the preface Helyar provides a list of baseball folk wh o cooperated with his reporting . What 's missing is something more substantial that connects facts to the sources from which the author pulled them . As a news paper guy , he should see the value in that . The travel agent is as close as most tourists ever get to a free lunch . At no c ost to you , an agent can recommend and book your vacation , often drawing on sp ecial expertise and firsthand travel experience in making recommendations . Find a good one and your life is simplified . But no lunch is truly free . The probl em with many of the roughly 32,000 travel agencies in the United States is that agents ' attentions are claimed by computerized reservation systems , airline fa re wars , and fluctuations in the commissions they are paid by lodgings and airl ines . That often leaves agents without time to learn geography in detail or see many destinations themselves . Sensing an opening there , a new breed of travel consultants has developed . They specialize in a certain area and reject the ti tle `` travel agent '' as an understatement of their expertise . Some make booki ngs , some do n't . Some accept commissions , some do n't . Most interview custo mers about their preferences and interests , then come back with itinerary propo sals that touch on lodgings , dining , cultural attractions and entertainment . Unlike travel agents , these consultants charge consumers upfront for their serv ice . Their prices can be daunting as much as $ 70 an hour but they can deliver a service highly prized by travelers with less time than money . Regional expert ise is one advantage . Also , for those consultants who reject commissions takin g their fees only from the client their advice may be less influenced by monetar y considerations , and more likely to be `` pure . '' Here are a handful of such companies , listed by their territories : ( Begin optional trim ) California . Perfect Weekends ( 2059 Camden Ave. , Suite 186 , San Jose , Calif. 95124 ; tel.

800-493-3536 or 408-559-3652 ) . Susan Barton opened San Jose-based Perfect Wee kends in June , 1993 , aiming to match busy travelers with B&Bs around the state . In the 11 months since , she says , she has booked more than 400 trips . Bart on charges $ 99 to plan a one-destination trip , and presumes that most of her c ustomers will be driving . She books lodgings , makes meal reservations , schedu les lessons or rentals and often builds weekends around special events . ( End o ptional trim ) American West . Off the Beaten Path ( 109 E . Main St. , Bozeman , Mont. 59715 ; tel. 406-586-1311 , fax 406-587-4147 ) . Pam and Bill Bryan , bo th trained environmentalists and tour guides , started the firm in 1987 , specia lizing in outdoorsy trips to Arizona , New Mexico , Utah , Colorado , Wyoming , Idaho , Montana and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta . In 1993 , Bill Bryan estimates , the company arranged trips for about 570 individua ls , couples and groups , with activities such as fishing , skiing , riding , hi king and canoeing . Fees for planning generally run $ 70 an hour , with a minimu m of four or eight hours , depending on the complexity of the trip . Customers g et detailed itineraries , plane tickets and maps . England . Oh to Be in England .. . ( 2 Charlton St. , New York , N.Y. 10014 ; tel. 212- 255-8739 , fax 212-98 6-8365 ) . Jennifer Dorn , an administrator at New York University 's law school and frequent traveler to England , set up her business four years ago . She doe s n't make bookings ( she advises travelers to make reservations themselves or u se a travel agent ) , but fills spiral-bound notebooks with itinerary recommenda tions . A typical trip takes her about 10 hours to plan . In the last year , she estimates that she haa done about 150 itineraries for $ 150- $ 225 , depending on the number of cities in the itinerary . France . Point of View . ( 5922 Melvi n Ave. , Tarzana , Calif. 91356 ; tel. 818-705-4418 , fax 818-708-7131 ) . Kajsa Agostini was born in France and spent 15 years with the French Government Touri st Office in California before striking off on her own last year . Agostini does not make bookings , but interviews travelers and devises an itinerary . Once th e itinerary is booked , Agostini often writes to hotels to confirm reservations and ensure personalized service . She charges about $ 200 . Italy . Marjorie Sha w 's Insider 's Italy ( P.O. Box 021816A , Brooklyn , N.Y. 11202-1816 ; tel. 718 -855-3878 , fax 718-855-3687 . ) Shaw , who was born in Rome and lived in Italy for more than a decade , started her consulting business in 1988 after spending four years leading walking tours through the country . Shaw maintains an office in Rome . Her databank of Italian intelligence includes roughly 400 small hotels throughout the country . She makes hotel and transportation bookings and gives clients a portfolio that runs as long as 85 pages . Her typical fee for a couple on a two-week trip with four stops : $ 495 . ( If Shaw does n't answer her phon e , she 's on a fact-finding trip ; fax or call back later . ) When I first got off the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Morgantown , I barely glanced at the horse and buggy two-stepping along ahead of me in morning traffic . How n ice , I thought carriage rides for tourists . But then I started spotting buggie s hitched outside pharmacies , hardware stores and other everyday businesses on two-lane Route 23 . They really were a normal means of transportation in these p arts . There are tourist rides , too , all right . And loads of pseudo-Pennsylva nia Dutch attractions throughout rural Lancaster County . But beyond the `` Amis hland '' commercialism , a sizable community of Plain People remarkably still fl ourishes much as it has for 300 years largely without benefit of automobiles , e lectricity and other trappings of modern life . By avoiding the main routes espe cially kitschy U.S. 30 visitors can glimpse the old-fashioned lifestyle of the A mish without feeling like intruders . Meander along the byways and you 'll criss cross fields that inspire the designs of exquisite patchwork quilts and see farm ers walking behind plows pulled by mules . Women in bonnets tend their kitchen g ardens and children with Dutch cuts skip-ride home from school on old-fashioned wooden scooters . Small home-based shops display first-rate yet inexpensive loca l crafts , and roadside stands sell garden-fresh produce and mouth-watering bake d goods . Lancaster might well be the Comfort Food Capital of the universe , emb odying the familiar aura one restaurant localizes as `` Mom and shoo-fly pie . ' ' Countless places feature inexpensive food that invigorates the term home cooki ng . Virtually everything is made from scratch : crispy potato chips , crusty ro

lls , tangy condiments and flaky , gooey desserts . Some of these family-oriente d restaurants ( which seldom serve alcohol ) also specialize in all-you-can eat smorgasbords , although allowances are made for tiny appetites . One place , for example , prices meals for kids by their weight : five cents per pound . The an nual Pennsylvania Dutch Food Festival , set to take place at many sites around t he county June 13 to 18 , will provide a ready-made vacation focus . My first st op on my recent tour was the Pennsylvania Dutch Visitors Center , which offers a great map , piles of brochures and a 15-minute introductory film on the area . I learned that the Amish ( pronounced AH-mish , after founder Jakob Ammann ) are descendants of German-speaking Anabaptists , who believe the decision to be bap tized should be made as an adult . The Amish broke off from the more liberal Men nonites three centuries ago , fled persecution in Europe and found peace in Will iam Penn 's new colony and various other communities in North America . Both sec ts and a third Anabaptist group called the Brethren today live amicably in Lanca ster County despite wide variations in customs . The dark clothing and simple li festyle that distinguish the Old Order Amish symbolizes their commitment to thei r faith . They also take to heart the biblical edict against graven images , whi ch tourists are asked to respect by not photographing them . Old Order Amish min gle with outsiders ( whom they generically refer to as `` English '' ) , and a f ew even invite visitors to join family dinners in their homes . They rarely cate r to overnight guests . Tourists can , however , sample rural life firsthand on numerous Mennonite farms within a 10- or 15-mile radius of downtown Lancaster . Some of these bed and breakfast accommodations are rather spartan , but others , like Barbara and Harold Frey 's Morning Meadows Farm in Marietta , offer all th e comforts of a country guest house along with a chance to experience the daily farm routine ( which , be warned , can start at dawn ) . My second-floor room at Morning Meadows Farm was prettily decorated in Victorian-country style and had a modern private bath and a small TV . Adjoining it was a cozy sitting room with magazines and another TV and outside was a wide porch offering panoramic views of fields and barns . I asked for a restaurant suggestion and Frey recommended t he Country Table Restaurant in nearby Mount Joy . It was a family place , overlo oking nothing but a packed parking lot , but it served one of the best restauran t meals I 've ever eaten : juicy pork chops , crisp salad , fresh vegetables , o ven-baked potato and rolls , herb tea and a wedge of that molassesy Pennsylvania Dutch favorite , shoo-fly pie . Cost : $ 9.49 . This is an early-to-bed , early -to-rise culture and most restaurants close by 8 or 9 p.m. . Breakfast at Mornin g Meadows was at 8 a.m. , and consisted of an apple dumpling hot from the oven a nd French toast with bacon all delicious . While I lingered over my juice and co ffee , the Freys chatted about the area and suggested sightseeing possibilities . Various auto-tape tours of the area are available at Lancaster 's Mennonite In formation Center , but I preferred to take advantage of the center 's personal g uide service ( $ 6 paid to the center , then a fee of $ 8.50 an hour to the guid e who rides in your car ) . For the next two hours ( the minimum tour time ) , a Mennonite woman named Alverna Hess directed me along 20 or 30 miles of back roa ds , pointing out covered bridges , cemeteries and Amish traditions . Windmills whirred in many farmyards , and black dresses and shirts fluttered from clothesl ines a sure sign , she said , of an Amish household , which has diesel-powered m ilking machines and propane-fired hot-water heaters to meet government health re quirements but few other modern appliances . The occasional roadside phone booth s we saw are n't public ones , Hess explained ; they belong to the nearest house another concession to the realities of doing business in the 20th century but k ept at a discreet distance . After I dropped off my guide , I continued a few mi les south of Lancaster to Strasburg , a pretty village with several attractions for train buffs including the nation 's oldest short-line railroad . Next I head ed northwest to equally charming Lititz , which offers some of the best shopping in Lancaster County . The aromas alone led me to two must-stops : the Sturgis P retzel Bakery and the Wilbur Chocolate Factory . At both you can watch the cooks in action and stock up on their products . ( Begin optional trim ) My second ni ght was at one of the Inns at Doneckers , a collection of four restored houses , one the site of the first Donecker family business back in 1910 . I stayed in T

he Guesthouse , which has 20 distinctive rooms and suites . My room , one of the least expensive , was nevertheless the epitome of country style . Some walls we re hand-stencilled , others exposed brick . Two handsome hooked rugs served as w all art . After breakfast , I strolled down the road to Doneckers Artworks , a f our-story marketplace of artists ' studios and galleries with an adjoining farme rs ' market . The market was stuffed with fresh produce and smelled of spring fl owers , apple pie and Auntie Anne 's scrumptious , hand-rolled soft pretzels , s o I was surprised at how few customers were there . The answer was clear as soon as I turned my car onto North State Street to head for the nearby competition . Traffic crawled most of the way to the Green Dragon market , one of the biggest in the county ( along with Lancaster 's Central Market and Root 's Market near Manheim ) . The Dragon was the quintessential country flea market an indoor/outd oor bazaar featuring everything from produce to clothing with , of course , the requisite supply of goodies down to homemade root beer . ( End optional trim ) B etween markets , wineries , breweries , potteries , antiques markets and various fairs and festivals , there 's no end of country diversions around Lancaster ( note that some attractions are closed on Sundays ) . There 's also interesting w alking in downtown Lancaster , which was Pennsylvania 's capital for 11 years an d which served as the nation 's capital for one day Sept. 27 , 1777 when Congres s stopped there after fleeing from Philadelphia . My most indelible memory of th e area , however , remains the home-cooked meals turned out by seemingly every k itchen . I wonder if any of them delivers . The word `` Caribbean '' may conjure up all kinds of vivid colors , but to V.S. Naipaul it suggests gray : a land and seascape bleached out by unmediated sun an d a counterfeit history . It is the gray in the face of a professional entertain er the morning after a late night . The displacing and alienating effects of a c olonial past on today 's post-colonial peoples has been Naipaul 's leading theme ever since , once past his early Trinidad novels , he broke through the colors to the gray underneath . He has pursued it in his fiction and non-fiction , set in Britain , Africa , South America and India , the home of his forebears . He i s one of literature 's great travelers and also one of its oddest . He seeks not roots but rootlessness . He travels not for acquaintance but for alienation . P aul Theroux does that , to an extent , but the difference is very large . For on e thing , Naipaul , who can be petty , vain and cruel , both uses and transcends his defects . His theme is the terrible inauthenticity that history has imposed on the heirs of colonialism 's subjects . But by refusing to conceal or temper his own crabby vision a walleyed sensibility that tends to swivel inward he achi eves at his best moments a unique authenticity . His nightmare Argentina , for e xample , can be unrecognizable but there is no question about the nightmares tha t it produces in Naipaul . When he is not displaying a certain haste and roughne ss ( on purpose , perhaps , like a musician asserting his freedom to play sour ) , he is a great writer . In a magical and redeeming phrase he will suddenly lin k up the particular estrangements he acquires , wherever he goes , to the estran ged wanderer in all of us . `` A Way in the World '' ( Alfred A . Knopf , $ 23 , 380 pp. ) is a series of partly autobiographical and partly fictional variation s on his theme . Each centers on a different personage , and Naipaul himself app ears in many of them . The principal characters differ widely . There is a Trini dadian who uses his color sense as both a funeral parlor cosmetician and a cake decorator ; and a conservative Port of Spain lawyer who unexpectedly reveals his flaming commitment to black power . There is a supercilious English writer who helps and patronizes the narrator ; an itinerant Caribbean radical `` an impresa rio of revolution '' who is lionized by the radically chic in London and New Yor k , and an enterprising Venezuelan who has submerged his identity as a Trinidadi an Hindu . Some of the figures are historical . Naipaul writes a vivid fictional ized account of Sir Walter Raleigh , aged and desperate , seeking to discover El Dorado as a way out of his political troubles at home . He paints a poignantly imagined portrait of the early Venezuelan revolutionary , Francisco de Miranda , lifted up and let down by his British patrons and finally , betrayed by the sup porters of Bolivar , dying in a Spanish prison . At first glance there seems to be little connection among the real , part-real and fictional characters he writ

es of . The styles differ considerably too : from factual documentary to a first -person combination of memoir and commentary to poetic evocation . In fact all o f the protagonists are linked by their passage through the world of the Caribbea n . It is a world that , instead of evolving gradually through slow migrations a nd evolution , was created in a kind of cataclysm . In the space of a few years , the Spanish , the French and the British landed , fought each other , and shov ed aside the Native Americans as unfit for their purpose . Their purpose was sug ar plantations ; and to accomplish it they brought over slaves from Africa and i ndentured laborers from India . And then , after a couple of centuries , they we re gone ; leaving behind a fragmented culture resting on a jumbled , conflicting , half-dreamed past . Naipaul does n't draw the comparison , but one thinks of Prince Sigismund in Calderon 's `` Life Is a Dream . '' Arbitrarily immured in a tower from infancy , he suddenly finds himself arbitrarily released and royal o nce more in a wide and terrifying universe . Sigismund went temporarily mad . Na ipaul 's characters are put together out of pieces that do n't fit . Though not usually mad , they maneuver hybrid and uncertain identities through a world cons tructed of misapprehensions and are visited by undissolved bits of a heritage th ey are unconscious of . In his gentle corpse-and-cake decorator , Naipaul sees a n ancestral ghost of `` the dancing groups of Lucknow , lewd men who painted the ir faces and tried to live like women . '' He adds : `` He frightened me because I felt his feeling for beauty was like an illness ; as though some unfamiliar d eforming virus had passed through his simple mother to him and was even then .. . something neither of them had begun to understand . '' The lawyer , Evander , a properly British-mannered black professional in a still-colonial Trinidad , re ceives a courtesy visit from young Naipaul , about to depart for London on a pri zed scholarship . There is a starchy moment or two ; then , startlingly , Evande r raises his fist , smiles , and says : `` The race ! The race , man ! '' It was meant as a secret , confraternal sign to a youth who was off to learn from the enemy and come back to fight . Except that Naipaul was n't . He was off to gathe r the rewards that the British colonial authorities had implied would be his whe n he reached London with his prize . Instead there were years of misery , condes cension and the grinding struggle to find himself as a writer . In his portrait of Foster Morris , an established author who helps him generously and then morta lly offends him , Naipaul vents with gleeful malice his feelings toward the grip of British attitudes , not only on his country but also on his own divided natu re . But Evander mistook young Naipaul in another respect , as well . As a membe r of Trinidad 's Indian minority , he felt no kinship with the black nationalist current that was to accompany independence in Trinidad and other parts of the C aribbean . On the contrary , he felt his own identity threatened ; as he would y ears later in Africa , where the Indian middle class was a particular target of black politics . Naipaul 's angers can be useful as well as shrill , and usually directed at those British and black who exercise power . The finest portraits a re of figures torn and fluttering through their lives and identities . His Miran da is one of the best things he has done , and he writes of the deluded Raleigh with unusual compassion . And there is the Indian whom Raleigh , assuming he com es from El Dorado , takes back to London to make up for the gold he could n't fi nd . In fact , Don Jose comes from the well-settled province of Nueva Granada ( Colombia ) . His reflections on Raleigh and on European dreams have a haunting s implicity . Asked years later what difference he finds between the Europeans and the Indians , he answers with an irony that points up what Naipaul is after : ` ` I 've thought a lot about that . And I think , Father , that the difference be tween us , who are Indians , or half Indians , and people like the Spaniards and the English and the Dutch and the French , people who know how to go where they are going , I think that for them the world is a safer place . '' ROOMMATES : Monday night on NBC . Eric Stoltz plays a Harvard-educated professio nal who is gay . Randy Quaid plays is a paroled bank robber who is not . They do n't have much in common , except that they 're both suffering from AIDS and are sharing an apartment in a facility for AIDS patients . Quaid 's character 's vi ew is that `` AIDS is God 's way of cleaning house . '' What begins as a rocky r elationship grows into a supportive friendship at a time when the two men need i

t most . Elizabeth Pena plays the social worker who arranges for the men to shar e a room . Charles Durning plays the father of one of the men . BEFORE YOUR EYES : KRISTIN IS MISSING : Tuesday night on CBS . This is the story of 14-year-old Kristin Coalter of Kent City , Mich. , who ran away from home with truck driver Bill Neuville , 49 . Presented as the events unfolded , the movie begins soon af ter Kristin , a star athlete and straight-A student , disappeared on April 20 , 1993 , and follows her parents , Nancy and Larry Coalter , on an emotional ride for nearly seven months . CBS was alerted to this particular case by the Nationa l Center for Missing and Exploited Children . About 450,000 children run away fr om home each year . One in seven teens runs away from home ; nearly a third beco me prostitutes within two days . Half of all runaways who return home run away a gain . 1994 WORLD MUSIC AWARDS : Tuesday night on ABC . Entertainers share the s tage with members of the ruling family of Monaco for this seventh annual interna tional special from Monte Carlo 's Sporting Club . The show , honoring the world 's best-selling recording artists for the year , was taped May 4 and will be se en in more than 80 countries . Among presenters : Prince Albert and Princess Car oline of Monaco , Fabio , Claudia Schiffer and David Copperfield . Host Patrick Swayze and his wife , Lisa Niemi , dance to an instrumental version of Whitney H ouston 's `` All the Man That I Need . '' Their dance , choreographed by Lar Lub ovitch , is the first time Swayze has danced on television and is a tribute to H ouston , whose five awards make her the most lauded performer in the history of the event . Also honored : Placido Domingo , Ray Charles and the artist formerly known as Prince . JACQUI 'S DILEMMA : Thursday night on ABC . This dramatizatio n of the decisions faced by a 16-year-old who becomes pregnant is interspersed w ith comments from parents , teens , educators , clergy , adoption-service counse lors , social workers , teen-age parents and physicians ( including U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders ) , discussing the issues surrounding teen sexuality . Melissa Thompson portrays Jacqui . FALL FROM GRACE : Thursday and Friday nights on CBS . This four-hour mini-series , an international co-production filmed in E urope and based on Larry Collins 's novel , is set against the staging and landi ng of the Allied forces in Normandy in June 1944 . Michael York , Gary Cole , Pa tsy Kensit , Julian Curry and Richard Anconina head the large international cast . COMING & GOING : Friday night on PBS . Do n't be put off : `` Coming & Going , '' a three-part PBS series on transportation , is not dull . It 's a series th at really moves , so to speak , carried along by a fast-paced score . The series , beginning Friday night , is about the way transportation shapes our national character and our landscape . It mixes history , philosophy , facts and personal stories as it talks about railroads , container ships , airplanes , truckers ha uling down the highways ; about building interstates and suburbs and light rail systems ; and about shipping to people in all areas what they want and need all year around . Filmed in two dozen states , the series is a project of producer C raig Perry . Perry hired National Public Radio 's Scott Simon to narrate and com missioned a lively and original score by David Hamilton . It was living in Los A ngeles that caused Perry to realize that transportation `` becomes a dominant fe ature of your life . I was living the problem . I thought , ` As a television pr oducer , there is something I can do about this . ' It 's been a six-year journe y from the time the idea occurred until now , and I 've learned a lot . In the b eginning , I went to find out who was doing this to us , and I realized that it was n't anybody : We had met the enemy and he was us . '' The little-noticed role of South African-made arms in the catastrophe of Rwanda presents Nelson Mandela with an early test of his ability to reconcile realism a nd idealism . At least 3,000 of Rwanda 's soldiers and militiamen carry South Af rican-made R-4 automatic rifles . Rwanda bought them in 1992 from Armscor South Africa 's state-owned arms corporation along with 10,000 hand grenades , 20,000 rifle grenades , 10,000 launching grenades and more than 1 million rounds of amm unition . In Rwanda 's killing fields , such grenades and automatic rifles have been weapons of choice , after machetes . At the Christ Spirituality Center in K igali , soldiers opened fire with automatic rifles , killing five diocesan pries ts , nine congregated women , three Jesuits and their cook . In Rukara , journal ists came upon about 500 corpses inside a church . One survivor said the people

had died when militiamen threw dozens of grenades inside the building . Will the new South Africa sell arms to countries like Rwanda ? Mandela , with his intern ational reputation as a peace-aker , may not want to . But the United Nations tr ade embargo against South Africa is expected to be lifted soon , and new markets are already opening up for South Africa 's deadliest goods . Andre Buys , an ex ecutive for Armscor , told Defense News last month that `` we expect that by 199 6 ( arms ) exports will at least double , and possibly quadruple . '' Like Vacla v Havel of Czechoslovakia before him , Mandela may find that his humanitarian im pulses are not strong enough to resist the financial attractions of the arms tra de . When Havel became president of Czechoslovakia in 1989 , he promised to end arms exports . But last year , after the country split into the Czech Republic a nd Slovakia , both renewed sales . Before Mandela 's inauguration , ANC spokesma n Madala Mthembu carefully suggested that the post-apartheid government would no t abstain from the arms business . `` Once the new government is up and running , we will welcome a complete lifting of all remaining sanctions and embargoes ag ainst South Africa , '' Mthembu told Defense News . `` We also wish to state the new government will be in full compliance with international standards governin g exports of technologies and materials that would threaten world security . '' Such standards would preclude arms sales to states like Libya , which is also cu rrently subject to a U.N. embargo . But states like Rwanda before its present cr isis would still be able to legally buy arms . Ethnic strife , which plagues muc h of the world , makes for a boom market in the weapons trade . And South Africa n weapons are generally more reliable , accurate and durable than comparable arm s made by Egypt , Russia , Romania and even Israel in some categories . While th e world rejoices in witnessing apartheid 's downfall , it will have the unexpect ed effect of adding to the glut of arms already flooding the places that least n eed them , such as Rwanda , Sudan and Cambodia . No one expects Mandela to turn his back on what promises to become one of the new South Africa 's better earner s of foreign exchange . But few would expect , either , a man who has devoted hi s life to his country 's struggle for justice , equality and human rights to tur n his back on future victims of other abusive regimes . He does n't necessarily have to . South Africa can afford to forgo sales of guns and grenades because it actually makes most of its profits from the sale of expensive , high-technology systems like laser-designated missiles , aircraft electronic warfare systems , tactical radios , anti-radiation bombs and battlefield mobility systems . This s ort of weaponry , while potentially deadly , is much less likely to be used in h uman-rights abuses than small arms . In anticipation of an end to the U.N. embar go , South Africa created the Denel Corp. in 1992 . While Armscor has since serv ed as the government 's defense-procurement organization , Denel has operated as a private manufacturing consortium , representing 60 percent of the arms indust ry . Denel expects to lead export sales ; such sales averaged $ 127.5 million in the early 1990s and increased to $ 222.2 million in 1993 . Rwanda 's purchase o f $ 5.9 million of grenades , mortars and ammunition from Denel made only a tiny addition to South Africa 's balance sheet . South Africa also has a technologic al edge in land-mine-detection and -sweeping equipment especially needed by Camb odia and other countries . While South Africa has already begun to market this e quipment , it announced in March that it would not sell land mines at the same t ime and stopped exports . Although it could be argued that this announcement was motivated more by appearance than principle , it was a welcome sign . But Mande la and the ANC 's stated policy is n't good enough . Exporting mine-sweeping equ ipment is a legitimate way to earn foreign exchange ; sales of any arms to human -rights violators are not . The new South Africa should re-examine its export po licy on such items . International prohibitions against arms sales to abusive re gimes are at present non-existent or weak . Rwanda , with its long-documented hi story of ethnic strife and its grisly record of human-rights abuses , is a case in point . Rather than sink to this standard , Mandela should lead the world in raising it up . Frank Smyth , a freelance journalist and investigative consultan t , is the author of `` Arming Rwanda , '' published by the Human Rights Watch/A rms Project in New York . A prep course for the month-long World Cup soccer tournament , a worldwide pheno

menon to be played in the United States for the first time beginning June 17 , i s available in a set of three home videos . Each of the three volumes by PolyGra m Video lists for $ 14.95 and has a running time of about 60 minutes . The three volumes : `` World Cup USA '94 : The Official Preview , '' which includes a tou rnament history with footage all the way back to the first World Cup held in 193 0 . There 's a look at the training of the 1994 U.S. team and a profile of Brazi l 's Pele , just 17 when he took the 1958 event by storm , repeating in 1962 and 1970 . `` Top 50 Great World Cup Goals , '' highlighting exciting moments from competition beginning in 1966 with favorites such as Pele , Johan Cruyff , Diego Maradona , Roberto Baggio , Salvatore `` Toto '' Schillaci and Franz Beckenbaue r . `` Great World Cup Superstars , '' focusing on the top names in the game , f eatured in the `` Goals '' cassette , and adding some interviews that offer an i nsight into what makes these stars shine . Three new basketball videos available : `` Sir Charles '' takes a look at the on-court intensity and dynamic skills o f Charles Barkley of the Phoenix Suns as well as his entertaining off-court pers ona. $ 19.98 , 50 minutes , 1-800-999-VIDEO . `` NBA Superstars 3 '' follows up on two previous hit videos meshing the moves of the NBA 's elite with today 's h it music . This one includes Kenny Anderson , Steve Smith , Derrick Coleman , La rry Johnson , Dan Majerle , Alonzo Mourning , Hakeem Olajuwon , Mark Price , Sha wn Kemp , Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars . Their play is matched with the music of Erick Sermon , M People , LL Cool J , Celine Dion , Domino , Soulhat , Soul Asyl um , Buckshot LeFonque , Branford Marsalis , Pearl Jam and Rozella. $ 19.98 , 50 minutes , 1-800-999-VIDEO . `` Hog Wild : The Official 1994 NCAA Championship V ideo '' recaptures the excitement of the latest edition of March Madness and Ark ansas 's march to the title with rousing victories over Michigan , Arizona and D uke in the three final games. $ 19.98 , 45 minutes , 1-800-747-7999 . It is only natural that a writer make the literary most of whatever happens to h im . In April 1984 the distinguished novelist Reynolds Price was asked by a frie nd with whom he was walking why he kept slapping his foot on the pavement . It w as the first faint whisper of the monstrous illness that would roar across his b ody for the next four years . For unbeknown , an eel-shaped tubular cancer had t aken root and was compressing his spinal cord . For the next four years the auth or would undergo radiation to his spinal cord , multiple surgical procedures dia gnostic , palliative and the last , one hopes , curative . In addition to the pa ralysis of the lower half of the body , there was a slowly ascending numbness to just below the nipple line . And there was pain , real and phantom , the latter no less severe for all its suggestion of unreality . It was suffering worthy of Job . On page after page , we are confronted by the downright ugliness of suffe ring , its senselessness . Pain is not noble ; it is disgustingly ordinary . The reader tries to imagine the pain , but the language of pain is exclusive ; it i s a tongue spoken by one person only . The rest of us are not conversant in it , nor can it be conveyed in words . Never mind , we shall know it in our turn . T here is some danger in the reiteration of pain , that it will eventually have an anesthetic effect no matter how persuasive the writing . In this , it is not un like pornography that within minutes becomes tedious . The rapture of others can not be rendered in words either ; for that too we must wait our turn . `` A Whol e New Life '' is Price 's candid account of his ordeal , written , he announces , to furnish others in similar trouble `` a companionable voice that 's lasted b eyond all rational expectation . '' He has written it years after the white heat of the events and from the vantage of the crippled survivor . Like many such re countings , I suspect it was written also to exteriorize the horror , to put a b arrier of printed pages between himself and what can best be described as a re-e nactment of Dante 's `` Inferno . '' Eschewing the novelist 's proven gifts of s tyle there is none of the elegance , nuance , ambiguity or wit of his powerful n ovel , `` Kate Vaiden '' he tells his story in a prose that is stripped down and pell-mell , utterly devoid of the pomp of language or the writer 's vanity . Th e sentences come spilling out much as the facts were remembered , but the meanin g of the sometimes clotted paragraphs is never in doubt . Much of the book tells of the few ups and the many downs in his agonizing struggle to live the progres sive loss of strength and sensation and function . With each diminution , along

with the author , we contemplate sadly the little that remains from the much tha t was . A good deal of the account is moving : his brother 's preoperative kiss , and the fellowship of the `` gimps '' at the the rehabilitation center all str iving to recover a modicum of independence . We cheer each brief respite from pa in as we do his brave resumption of writing and teaching . What sustained him ? There was a seemingly endless line of kind friends and acquaintances who committ ed themselves over long periods of time to assist Price in recapturing the pace of his life . One 's inner strength is no match for suffering . It is not our ow n strength alone that will help us prevail , but the strength and commiseration of others . It takes courage to lean on others , but great suffering demands of us that humility . Too , there is Price 's lifelong belief in a God who is perso nally interested in him , if not always benevolent . This belief was made powerf ully manifest just prior to the course of irradiation . The area on his back to be treated had already been marked out with purple dye . The radiation oncologis t had informed the patient of all the possibilities . Shortly thereafter , Reyno lds Price experienced an uncanny translocation in which he found himself lying o n a slope by the Sea of Galilee in 1st-Century Palestine . Sleeping nearby were Christ and his 12 apostles all dressed in the tunics and cloaks of the time . In the distance he saw the town of Capernaum just as it was . Jesus looked much li ke the Flemish paintings of him , lean , `` tall with dark hair , unblemished sk in and a self-possession both natural and imposing . '' He rose , directed Price to undress , then led the naked man into the waters of Galilee . Now , existing both with and outside of his body , the author could see the purple marks on hi s back . Again and again Jesus poured handfuls of water over him . There was dia logue : `` Your sins are forgiven . '' `` Am I also to be cured ? '' `` That too . '' From the moment Price 's mind returned to the here and now , he has believ ed this event to be neither dream nor vision but `` an external gift .. . of an alternate time and place in which to live through a crucial act . '' For Price , this experience had a tactile reality . It happened . Even the skeptical reader shivers in wild surmise . The man who emerges from these pages is feisty , grit ty , angry , sometimes snobbish and , notwithstanding , most appealing . He make s no effort to portray himself as a saint or a martyr . The clerk at the hospita l is `` sullen . '' The cardiac fitness participants are imagined as `` a squad of garrulous heart-attack survivors in designer sweat suits . '' Many of the `` true practical saints '' who offer to help him are `` boring as root canals . '' It is the radiation oncologist , cast as the villain , who bears the brunt of P rice 's anger and resentment . He has `` all the visible concern of a steel chee se-grater '' ; he `` never offered to tell me ... '' ; he is `` the frozen oncol ogist . '' And here another physician must demur . Was it not this very doctor , among others , whose judgment and therapy brought about the cure of his patient ? Surely , that he is not also gifted with charm or bedside manner might be for given ? Some doctors , particularly those whose work brings them daily into cont act with the gravely ill and whose treatments themselves augment the suffering , may function better when they withhold or even stifle pity , compassion , aesth etic response than when they allow these feelings full sway . Certainly there ar e great doctors who are also haughty , cold , materialistic and insensitive ; ju st as there are great artists who fall short of expectations . Beethoven , Wagne r and Richard Strauss were bigoted , angry , domineering . Schopenhauer and Ross ini were scornful and misanthropic . Da Vinci and Goethe were detached , aloof a nd condescending . And then there was Robert Frost . It is in the final section of the book that Price rises above the dreadful years and reaches out to his new life . It is a life full of satisfactions , work , friends and even erotic love . `` Reynolds Price , '' he told himself , `` is dead . '' And asked himself : `` Who can you be ? '' The answer is : a writer and a teacher as before , only n ow with the patience and watchfulness born of suffering , and the blessing of wh ole days of focused energy undiluted by the distractions of the able-bodied . In the years since his illness , Reynolds Price has written 14 books . His last ad vice to the afflicted is to finish grieving for the former self , to reach out h ungrily to the new and to find work that sustains the spirit . In writing `` A W hole New Life '' Reynolds Price has come , in the words of Adrienne Rich , `` to

see the damage that was done/and the treasures that prevail . '' There can be n o sweeter use made of adversity than this act of generosity that comes in the fo rm of a book . The crisis that has been rapidly building over North Korea 's suspected nuclear weapons program seems for now to have abated . Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been sent to Pyongyang to see what they can learn abo ut the refueling of a key reactor that is now under way . Washington , welcoming this and other recent signs hinting at a more cooperative attitude by the North , says that it 's ready to reopen high-level contacts with Kim Il Sung 's regim e . So for the moment at least the United States does n't have to worry about tr ying to muster international support for economic sanctions against a country th at , at a minimum , seems to have done all it can to encourage the belief that i t has been violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty . How long that moment will last is up to Pyongyang . The key question is whether North Korea will let IAEA inspectors examine several hundred specifically chosen fuel rods from its five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon , north of Pyongyang . By analyzing certain ro ds the IAEA could tell how long they had been in the reactor , and that in turn would indicate whether other fuel rods had earlier been secretly removed . There 's a suspicion , heightened in the last few days by the claims in Tokyo of a No rth Korean defector who once worked at the Yongbyon reprocessing plant , that 26 pounds of plutonium were secretly extracted from spent fuel rods in 1988 . That supports the CIA 's suspicion that the North has produced enough plutonium for a couple of nuclear devices . The United States is ready it would n't be too muc h to say eager to move toward normal relations with North Korea and so help stab ilize Northeast Asia . Rightly , though , it conditions such a move on Pyongyang 's readiness to meet its responsibilities under the Non-Proliferation Treaty . South Korea supports the American effort . If North Korea goes along , it could see its diplomatic and economic isolation end . If it balks , new pressures woul d fall on its weak economy . Enlightened self-interest makes the choice clear . The question is whether a regime that has for decades zealously preached the vir tues of inward-looking self-reliance is able finally to recognize where its true long-term interests lie . Step by step , President Clinton seems to be maneuvering himself into a position on Haiti where his only option may be military intervention . If that is the pr esident 's intention , it should be reversed forthwith . He must know that two-t hirds of the American people oppose such a step ; that with the first American c asualties there will be a clamor for withdrawal of U.S. forces ; that the last t ime Marines marched ashore in Haiti , in 1915 , they were there 19 years , and a fter taking 126 combat and non-combat casualties left behind a trained and oppre ssive military . The ideal solution evidently sought by Clinton is sufficient in ternational pressure to force the Haitian generals now in control into exile . T here is a precedent : In 1986 , the United States was able to send dictator Jean Claude `` Baby Doc '' Duvalier packing . But there is another precedent : his f ather , Francois `` Papa Doc '' Duvalier , successfully defied a U.S. show of fo rce in 1963 . By tightening the embargo on Haiti over last weekend , the world c ommunity decided in effect to increase the suffering of the Haitian people in or der to liberate them . Food and medicine are the exception . But as jobs and pri vate-sector imports of vital commodities disappear , aid organizations warn that hunger and death will increase . Some of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristid e 's more fervent supporters , both foreign and domestic , are willing to have t he poorest people in the hemisphere 's poorest country pay this price . The situ ation could force President Clinton 's hand . Having taken on a certain responsi bility for worsening the plight of the Haitian people and having drawn only defi ance from Haiti 's military government , he may find himself with little choice other than to order the Marines ashore . Some 650 aboard the USS Wasp are moving into position . What then ? Will U.S. citizens be taken hostage in a desperate counter-move by the present government ? Will Haitian forces crumble at the firs t sight of the Marines , as their leaders flee to luxurious exile ? Will Father Aristide 's revenge-minded followers then turn on the soldiers that remain ? Or will a form of civil war break out , part ethnic and part class-based , that wil

l make a mockery of quick-solution scenarios ? And even if U.S. forces stay the course , under the facade of a multinational intervention , just what will their mission be ? To feed the masses ? That 's the easy part , as humanitarian succe sses in Somalia illustrate . To crack down on violence-minded factions ? That 's a much tougher role , one the U.S. could not sustain in Somalia . To rebuild th e Haitian government and and economy ? That 's a task the U.S. never really atte mpted in Somalia , that it flunked the last time out in Haiti and that it is unl ikely to assume again , given the budget squeeze and public opinion . So Clinton is boxed in by the Haiti crisis , and so is our country . Any solution other th an the quick capitulation of the present military government offers little but p ain and foreboding . It is n't easy for athletes to be legends anymore . Over-analyzed by cranky spor tswriters , noisily critiqued by moronic sports talk-radio callers , their gravi ty-defying feats have been reduced to ESPN highlight-reel fodder . Just ask Barr y Bonds , whose most enduring media moment remains his nasty on-the-field shouti ng match with then-manager Jim Leyland . Sports legend derives from larger-thanlife feats , created away from the glare of the spotlight . It belongs to the or al tradition , tales told and retold , till they take on an appropriately mythic stature . Who knows if Babe Ruth really pointed to the right-field bleachers an d called his shot in the 1932 World Series ? Who actually saw Pete Gray , the St . Louis Browns ' one-armed outfielder , in action , throwing a runner out at hom e plate ? How many people got to watch Johnny Vander Meer pitch a no-hitter in t wo consecutive games ? In baseball , the murkiest of all legends have sprung fro m the mythic twilight of the Negro Leagues . Thrown together during the sorry da ys of segregated sport , they showcased the young black gods of baseball , perfo rming in the same cities often in the same ballparks as major-league players , s ometimes even wearing the big-leaguers ' discarded uniforms . That 's where you 'd find Leroy `` Satchel '' Paige , barnstorming across the country in wheezing buses , sleeping in fleabag hotels , playing in ramshackle bandboxes across town from the storied major-league ballparks . Of all the mythic stars of Negro base ball , Satchel was mythic-squared . Unhittable in his prime , he once struck out 22 men in a game , beat Bob Feller 1-0 in a 13-inning exhibition game and was s o indomitable he threw a no-hitter in the first game of a double-header and then pitched relief in the nightcap . After hitting .398 in the Pacific Coast League in 1935 , Joe DiMaggio prepared for his rookie season with the New York Yankees by facing Paige in a much-ballyhooed exhibition game . The future Hall of Famer managed a measly infield hit in four trips to the plate , moving a Yankee scout to wire home : `` DiMaggio all we hoped he 'd be : hit Satch one for four . '' The legend simmered , soaking up its rich flavor in obscurity . As far as the wh ite press was concerned , Paige ( who was as celebrated in '30s-era black circle s as Cab Calloway or Louis Armstrong ) might as well have been pitching in Outer Mongolia . When Time magazine finally discovered Paige in 1940 15 years into hi s career it offered some legendry of its own . Attributing Satchel 's arm streng th to his boyhood shouldering of 200-pound blocks of ice , the news magazine quo ted Paige 's old ice-wagon employer as saying : `` That boy et mo ' than the hos ses . '' Until now , that 's been the Satch story : Print the caricature . But j udging from `` Do n't Look Back , '' Mark Ribowsky 's meticulously researched bi ography , there is another , considerably starker and less sentimental side to P aige . Raised in the rough-and-tumble ghetto area of Mobile , Ala. , Paige was a restless , lonely man , a black shadow in a white-only world , his soul shrivel ed by a lack of acceptance , both from his family and the realm of big-time spor t . Before he was 20 , Paige had hit the road , learning his pitching craft on b aseball 's chitlins circuit . Though Ribowsky is more successful at sketching th e Negro League milieu than fleshing out Paige 's character , the scrawny , rawbo ned pitcher emerges as a man of few loyalties , either to friend or team , indif ferent to family ties , easily seduced by a pretty woman or a fat paycheck . Tak e away his wonderful wit and legendary showmanship and dare we say it Satchel mi ght be almost as hard to love as Barry Bonds . Resolutely unfaithful to every wo man in his life , Paige was jealous of teammates ' success , a hard-drinking car ouser , habitually late to even the most important games and disdainful of anyth

ing resembling a training regime . Paige was at least 42 ( some say 44 or even 4 8 ) when Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck finally brought him to the big leagu es in 1948 , a year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier . Making his f irst appearance in relief on July 9 , he was the man who brought black vaudevill e style to white sport , decades before the high five , the monster jam and the end-zone dance . Paige mystified batters with a carnival assortment of trick pit ches . Using a double or even triple windup with a huge leg kick , he 'd throw w hat he called a Step ' n Pitch-it , a Bat Dodger and finally , his mind-boggling Hesitation Pitch , where he held back his right arm even as his front leg swept his body forward , releasing the ball almost as an afterthought . The first maj or-leaguer who tried to hit the Hesitation Pitch lunged and swung before the pit ch was half-way to the plate , his bat flying 40 feet up the third-base line . S atch was a sensation . By the time he started his first major-league game on Aug . 3 , 72,562 fans were at Cleveland 's Municipal Stadium , a new attendance reco rd for a major-league night game . Though well past his prime , Paige played par ts of six seasons in the majors and was good enough to be named to the 1952 AllStar team . Never a friend to Robinson he had given him the cold shoulder in the Negro Leagues he displayed little of Robinson 's credit-to-his-race good citize nry . Paige missed trains , broke curfew and carried around a gun a foot and a h alf long . His eccentricities won him huge play in the white press , which viewe d him as post-integration baseball 's answer to Louie Armstrong Satchmo meet Sat ch a happy-go-lucky old coot who rubbed mystery potions on his pitching arm , do zed in the bullpen grass and issued such maxims as , `` If your stomach disputes you , lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts '' and the immortal phrase ( wh ich Ribowsky borrows for his book title ) , `` Do n't look back . Something migh t be gaining on you . '' These nostrums were strictly for media consumption . In real life , the string-bean pitcher burned the candle at every end . As Ribowsk y recounts in vivid detail , Paige was far from the only model of impropriety in the 1930s-era Negro Leagues . Many of the most prominent teams were owned by ga ngsters such as Gasoline Gus Greenlee , who ran the Pittsburgh Crawfords , using the team as a legit cover for his numbers racket . Paige was hardly intimidated by Greenlee 's mob ties . When a promoter offered him more money to barnstorm t hrough the Dakotas , Paige abruptly walked out on his new contract with the Craw fords . Aloof and enigmatic all the way to his grave , Paige seems to have defea ted his biographer 's best efforts to penetrate his inscrutable mask . None of P aige 's offspring would talk to Ribowsky , while the dim memories of his ball-pl aying peers offer little in the way of insight . Eager to provide Paige 's explo its with some heft , Ribowsky sometimes aims too high , using quotes from Henry Miller , William Faulkner and ( ! ) Daniel Defoe to open various chapters . Satc hel surely would have loved rubbing elbows with such glittering literati . But t he lofty sentiments do n't get Ribowsky any closer to this flesh-and-blood folk character . Describing his long and lean physique , Satch once said : `` There w as a lot to me , but it was all up and down . '' Whatever was inside seems to ha ve wafted away , like an unhittable Paige curveball , rising and swooping in the dim light of an extra-inning game . The book 's evocative subtitle , `` Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball , '' is all too apt . For all Ribowsky 's good efforts , the real shadow here is Satchel himself . CyberSurfing : Potholes , perturbations and predicaments observed on the informa tion superhighway : A Playboy story titled `` Orgasms Online '' left one virtual community more steamed than steamy this spring . The story prominently featured the Sausalito , Calif.-based WELL ( for Whole Earth ' Lectronic Link ) among ot her services . With perhaps 10,000 members , the WELL is minuscule by the standa rds of commercial on-line services like Prodigy and CompuServe that boast more t han a million users . But it has influence beyond its size because its hundreds of on-line conferences attract an articulate crowd that includes writers , artis ts and high-tech cognoscenti . For the WELLbeings , as many call themselves , Pl ayboy perpetrated an awful mischaracterization of their electronic hangout . Alt hough there are areas in which sexuality is discussed , the tone tends toward th e playful . It is also a decidedly more thoughtful place than , say , America On line , the randier areas of which resemble nothing so much as a cheap-beer singl

es bar . Along with making angry accusations that author Matthew Childs got the story wrong , WELL users said Childs quoted their on-line postings without permi ssion a violation of the etiquette of the WELL , where the phrase `` You Own You r Own Words '' has an almost mantra-like quality . One user found that her discu ssion of an on-line love affair gone bad had been transmuted by Playboy into an offer to share transcripts of hot modem sessions with an ex-beau an offer she ha d never made : `` .. . ( Y ) ou are a liar . I never , ever promised anyone , an ywhere , that I would share ` hot chat ' transcripts or log with them . I do n't even keep such logs ! What I said , Mr. I 'm A Journalist And Get My Facts Stra ight Bigshot , is that I would share the name of the cybercad .. . with people w ho asked in e-mail . `` .. . ( Y ) ou can blow it all out your i/o port , bunky . '' Worst of all , they said , the publicity is likely to attract the wrong cro wd to the WELL namely , horny guys who think that Sausalito is where the action is . That 's exactly what happened . One user , Linda Castellani , said in a rec ent on-line interview that `` there has been an increase in those who were clear ly brought here by the article with an expectation of meeting women and having h ot sex . '' Most of the newcomers , however , do n't stick around for long . The WELL is clubby to many visitors , suffocatingly so . That 's what the buzz-phra se `` virtual community '' might ultimately come down to : not just who belongs , but who does n't . It could have been worse . I recall in college an editor at Hef 's mag asked me to hand out questionnaires for the magazine 's `` Sexiest C olleges '' survey , a highly scientific endeavor . I declined , but one of my ro ommates was willing . He handed it out at a massive bash ; the questionnaires be came the party game ; `` can you top this '' fever swept the assembled multitude . After the party , another roommate took the remaining questionnaires to a loc al gay bar . Do you even need to ask ? The University of Texas was deemed the se xiest school in the nation by Playboy . John Schwartz jswatz ( at ) well.sf.ca.u s GETTING THERE : To visit the WELL , call ( 415 ) 332-4335 ( by low-tech voice ) and ask for guidance . If you are already a WELL member : The flame war erupte d on the Sex Conference , Topic 414 , and spread to other WELL forums from there . To find the Sex Conference type : g sex at any OK prompt . To find the topic , type r 414 at the next OK prompt . To get an OK prompt from a respond/pass pro mpt , type q . -0- Early news of Kurt Cobain 's death began an explosion of comm entary in the Alternative Rock Forum on America Online . Grieving cries of shock and anguish meshed with poems and messages to Cobain 's wife , Courtney Love , and their daughter , Frances . But there were also smatterings of mean-spirited assaults on Cobain , his wife , his music and lifestyle ; one was a drawing done with keyboard characters that depicted a man with a shotgun in his mouth . Weir dly enough , Courtney Love 's estranged father , Hank Harrison , joined in the p ostings . Using the log-on `` BioDad , '' he described himself in one message as being a `` rich , '' 280-pound man who raises pit bulls , rides motorcycles and gardens . ( A spokesman for Love 's record label confirmed that `` BioDad '' is who he says he is . ) In his postings , Harrison said he has been working on a book about Cobain and Nirvana for two years now , and `` I know things that are so unbelievable , I could n't believe them . '' He fears that his daughter is in danger of `` going with Kurt , '' especially if the child , Frances , is taken away again . ( Child protection authorities did this once after Vanity Fair repo rted she had used heroin while pregnant . ) Harrison posted a copy of the letter he sent the White House describing his proposal for a `` Kurt Cobain Foundation for Suicide Prevention '' and asked that he be invited to meet with the preside nt and Chelsea to discuss the details . Harrison continues to participate in the forum despite harsh words from a friend of Love 's calling him a liar and a par asite . Karen Mason Marrero kmarrero ( at ) aol.com GETTING THERE : Sign onto Am erican Online . ( To subscribe to America Online , call this voice line : 800-82 7-6364 . ) Hit the Lifestyles and Interests conference icon ; go to the Rocklink folder ; then the Rocklink forum ; then click onto the Alternative Rock Message Board , then browse the folders for Hole ( the name of Courtney Love 's band ) , and Remembering Cobain . Found something intriguing , improbable , insane or especially useful on the Int ernet ? Tip The Washington Post 's Karen Mason Marrrero kmarrero ( at ) aol.com

or Joel Garreau garreau ( at ) well.sf.ca.us . CyberSurfing : Potholes , perturbations and predicaments on the Information Supe rhighway : Blowing in the Wind There 's been a song going through my head for so me time now , only I do n't know the words . Actually , I do n't know the tune e ither , but I hope to soon because of e-mail . The song is `` Hurricane Janet , '' about the storm that hit the Caribbean in mid-September 1955 . It was n't the worst hurricane of the century , but because it occurred the week I was born an d we had the same name , I was never allowed to forget it . Growing up in Wiscon sin , I was teased about my eponymous meteorological event , though in fact my p arents had already settled on my name before the hurricane was a cloud in the sk y . Later , when I began to spend time in the Caribbean , gentlemen of a certain age would start humming the calypso song when they heard my name . They said th e song was by the Mighty Sparrow , the greatest calypsonian of all time , though it seemed nobody could remember all the lyrics . I tried to find a recording in the Caribbean , but it was out of print . After I subscribed to America Online this year , I decided to give it another try . Searching the service 's membersh ip profiles brief resumes in which subscribers can indicate their address , age , hobbies and any other information they wish to share with other members I loca ted Kevin Burke , a freelance writer , photographer and calypso fan in Cambridge , Mass. . I messaged him about `` Hurricane Janet . '' I hit pay dirt . Kevin a nswered , saying he did n't know the song but was working on it . First , he had left a telephone message for Sparrow himself in Trinidad . ( For readers unfami liar with calypso , this is roughly equivalent to buzzing Frank Sinatra about a '40s pop number . ) Kevin also gave me a list of calypso experts in this country to consult , including Steve Shapiro , who , he pointed out , lives in Takoma P ark , as my profile showed I do . I recognized the name but I was n't sure why . Then I realized the answer was literally in front of my nose , on a list of nei ghborhood telephone numbers taped on the wall over my desk : Steve Shapiro , fed eral worker and calypso expert , lives across the street , though we 'd never me t . I introduced myself and over the next few weeks , we had several conversatio ns , but while Shapiro 's music knowledge and record collection are both legenda ry , he did n't have `` Hurricane Janet . '' In mid-March , Burke messaged again . `` I talked to the Mighty Sparrow today , '' he wrote , `` and he told me tha t the song about Hurricane Janet was sung by Lord Melody . '' Melody , a calypso elder statesman best known for his 1956 classic `` Mama , Look a ' Boo-Boo Dey , '' had died in the 1980s , Burke said . Sparrow had sung a few of the lyrics t o Burke on the telephone : `` Janet , stay in the mountains ! `` Janet , you go blow down plenty buildings ! `` Janet , your sister is Katie ! `` Janet , go str aight to Miami ! '' I ran across the street to tell Steve , who said he had some Melody recordings and would look into the matter . The next day , I walked out my door to find Steve in his front yard , waving his arms and shouting something . I finally made out the words : `` Janet ! It is by Sparrow !! '' Steve had lo cated a fellow calypso maven in Oneonta , N.Y. , who had a recording of my song . Apparently , Sparrow either meant that he had sung the song but did n't write it , or had recorded so many songs over the years that he had simply forgotten . Now , I 'm waiting for the tape of my song to arrive by `` snail-mail '' the U. S. Postal Service . Until then , I have another project : How about this Hurrica ne Katie ? Janet Higbie higbiej ( at ) twp.com GETTING THERE : Sign on to Americ a Online . To locate other subscribers interested in the Caribbean or other topi cs , select Search Member Directory from Members menu . Type in topic for list o f members who have indicated similar interest . -0- Old Scams in New Electrons ` ` MAKE.MONEY.FAST '' read the message sent recently to hundreds of subscribers t o `` DEAF-L , '' a computer discussion list for people interested in deafness-re lated issues . The note was filled with heartrending tales of people who had bee n down to their last few dollars when a miraculous solution appeared in the form of an e-mail letter . Suddenly their bank accounts were full , their spirits we re lifted , and they were overcome with the desire to share the secret of their wealth with their fellow Internet travelers . In summary , the note 's words of wisdom were this : Send $ 10 to the person at the top of this mailing list , add your name to the bottom and send it to 100 friends . That 's right , it was one

of those chain letters that kids and gullible adults copy and mail out to their friends . Now they 've hit cyberspace and the possibilities are endless . With one message , one can , as the DEAF-L subscriber did , send the chain to hundred s , even thousands of people . Cyberspace legal experts who were consulted throu gh a posting on their discussion group CYBERIA-L said such a chain may constitut e a pyramid scheme and posting it on the Internet might be illegal under the sta tutes prohibiting wire fraud . The `` send money now '' chain is n't the only ol d chestnut floating around cyberspace . Remember Craig Shergold , the ailing kid who was once trying to collect a record number of business cards ? That effort stopped years ago , but just last week an e-mail asking for business cards appea red on several discussion lists . The infamous cookie recipe that Neiman Marcus allegedly sold for $ 250 a story the store adamantly denies showed up not once b ut twice recently on a discussion list for fans of the `` Highlander '' movies a nd television show . `` This is a perfect example of how Internet perpetuates Ur ban Legends and is a perfect example of how things should not be reposted everyw here , '' wrote DEAF-L subscriber Claire Maier in an effort to forestall further chain postings . `` The only explanation I have is that people are sheep , '' w rote Maier , a PhD candidate in neuroscience at Emory University . `` Someone sa ys , ` Post this to a zillion newsgroups ... ' and people do it . '' Brooke A . Masters mastersb ( at ) twp.com GETTING THERE : To subscribe to DEAF-L , sign on to any commercial ( America Online etc. ) or private network capable of sending messages on the Internet . Follow the `` mail '' prompts that set you up to sen d an e-mail message . Send a message to LISTSERV SIUCVMB.BITNET and leave the su bject line blank ( AOL users do specify subject ) . In the body of the message , write SUBSCRIBE DEAF-L and your name . After any disaster , the question always arises as to when a destination that ha s been hard hit whether by hurricane , earthquake , fire , flood or war is ready to give visitors their money 's worth . Often these places , although not yet i n the best shape , will offer an incentive to tempt more adventurous travelers t o be the first to return . Such is the case of war-torn Croatia , which is despe rately in need of the potentially lucrative tourist income . This summer , and p erhaps for another year , it is promising low prices-particularly for lodging . In the beautiful old resort city of Dubrovnik , I stayed last month for about $ 70 a night less than half the price I had paid for not nearly as nice a hotel ro om a few days earlier in Milan , Italy . Right now , rooms in private homes in D ubrovnik are going for as little as $ 10 a night . `` The prices are very low , '' says Pave Zupan Ruskovic , president of Atlas , one of Croatia 's biggest tra vel agencies . `` It 's one way to bring tourism back . '' This is , I think , a fair exchange . With a civil war still rumbling in neighboring Bosnia-Herzegovi na , Croatia is a problematic destination and personal safety is a matter of at least some concern . But at bargain prices , the new country is also an inviting place at least for those who are aware of the drawbacks of a visit . Before its breakup , Yugoslavia was a popular vacation spot for other Europeans and for Am ericans . As it happens , the new Croatia now possesses old Yugoslavia 's primar y tourist asset , the long , still mostly pristine Adriatic Coast stretching sou th from the Istrian Peninsula to Dubrovnik . Among the nations formed from Yugos lavia , its tourism prospects are brightest . Currently , the U.S. . State Depar tment is warning Americans to stay away from Serbia , Montenegro and Bosnia-Herz egovina because of continuing strife or safety problems . No such warning has be en issued for Croatia , neighboring Slovenia and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia . Slovenia is probably least affected by the ongoing Bosnian crisis , and it offers plenty of scenic and cultural attractions and good dining and lod ging . Macedonia is a developing nation with limited tourist facilities . The se vere impact of the war on Croatia 's tourist income is evident in statistics quo ted by national tourism officials . Before 1990 , Croatia reported 60 million ov ernight stays annually , says Velimir Simicic , Croatia 's deputy minister of to urism . In 1993 , the figure was only 13 million most of them Germans and Easter n Europeans vacationing on the Istrian Peninsula . This summer , the country hop es to double last year 's number . Before the war , the city of Dubrovnik counte d on tourism for about 90 percent of its income . Should you go to Croatia now t

o take advantage of the bargains or wait until peace is assured ? It is a questi on individuals must answer for themselves . Some factors to consider : Safety Th e situation in Zagreb , the capital ; on the Istrian Peninsula ; and in most are as of Croatia is calm , says the State Department . But it warns against travel to four United Nations Protected Areas that border Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia . Localized shelling has occurred adjacent to these areas . With one important exception , the Adriatic Coast the principal destination that Croatia currently is promoting is not affected . The exception is the coastal road just north of Z adar , where a pontoon bridge replaces the former bridge that was destroyed in C roatia 's war to defend its independence . The bridge , which crosses an inlet , is within potential enemy shellfire , according to a public affairs officer in the U.S. . Embassy in Zagreb , who asked not to be identified . However , the br idge is open , and motorists including tourists are using it regularly without h arm , says Karen Suric in Atlas 's New York office . According to her , traveler s who want to drive the length of the Adriatic Coast to Dubrovnik but avoid the bridge can take an auto ferry that operates far outside the shelling range . As for street crime directed at tourists , incidents are low . But as in any countr y , you should beware of pickpockets and muggers in tourist sites such as bus an d railway stations . For a current safety report , contact the State Department 's Citizens Emergency Center , ( 202 ) 647-5225 , or the U.S. . Embassy in Zagre b , 011-385-41-444-800 . Visas Americans must have a visa to travel in Croatia , but a tourist visa valid for three months can be obtained at no cost on arrival either at border crossings or the airport . There is a drawback to this process , however . When I arrived by plane in Zagreb , about 25 passengers werelined u p at the visa window , and only one immigration officer was on duty . Each visa took him two or three minutes to fill out . I was near the end of the line and w aited for more than a half hour . Only after I had my visa could I proceed throu gh immigration to baggage claim and customs . Also , the Croatian Embassy in Was hington warns that some airlines deny boarding for flights to Croatia if you do n't have a visa . To avoid a delay , you can apply for a visa in person or by ma il from the Croatian Embassy , 2343 Massachusetts Ave. NW , Washington , D.C. 20 008 , ( 202 ) 588-5899 . Embassy-issued visas are valid for 12 months . By mail , there is a $ 9 return postage fee . Where to Go & Stay As in the past , most v isitors probably will stick close to the lovely turquoise waters of the Adriatic . Although lodgings from modest to luxurious dot the long coast and the many of fshore islands , the area is relatively undeveloped in contrast to the French or Italian rivieras . In the north , the Istrian Peninsula and the offshore island s of Krk , Cres , Rab and Pag offer excellent beach vacation possibilities in an area untouched by the war . It is easily reached by car from northern Italy and elsewhere in Europe . The area around Dubrovnik experienced heavy damage . Beac h pleasures are possible , but the ancient city should appeal more to travelers interested in seeing the impact of the war for themselves and the recovery that is being made . Among the top hotels now open are the Hotel Argentina ; its neig hboring affiliate , the beautiful Villa Orsula ( where I stayed ) ; and the char ming Hotel Villa Dubrovnik . All are within a 10-minute walk of the old city . A 10-minute drive away is the large and modern Hotel Dubrovnik President . All fe ature either sand or rocky beaches and good sea views . At the Hotel Argentina , a room for one is about $ 58 ; for two , about $ 90 . At the Villa Orsula , a s ingle is $ 68 and a double is $ 116 . Breakfast is included . Other top hotels a re in the same price range . But budget travelers can stay in a room in a privat e home for about $ 10 for one or two people . Zagreb is pretty and culturally in teresting , and there are scenic drives north of the city into countryside that still retains the look of old Europe . Because Zagreb gets a lot of business tra velers , its hotel rates are higher . Rates in the best hotels-which include the Palace , Dubrovnik , Inter-continental and Esplanade-range from about $ 95 to $ 150 a night for a room . Some tours have resumed out of Split to the Catholic s hrine of Medugorje , which is located across the border in Bosnia . Aboard my pl ane from Zurich , a group of 16 New Englanders planned a week 's pilgrimage . Ho wever , the U.S. . Embassy in Croatia discourages such trips , says a spokeswoma n . Escorted sightseeing and outdoor adventure tours and air/hotel/rental car pa

ckages are available throughout most U.S. or Croatian travel agencies . I paid A tlas $ 879 for a package that included two nights lodging in Zagreb , three nigh ts in Dubrovnik , five full breakfasts , flights between Zagreb and Dubrovnik an d Split and Zagreb , a car and driver between Dubrovnik and Split , and all airp ort transfers . For Information : Croatia does not maintain a tourism informatio n office in the United States . However , information including lodging choices and island ferry schedules is available from Atlas Ambassador of Dubrovnik , the New York office of the Atlas travel agency ( Lincoln Building , 60 E. 42nd St. , New York , N.Y. 10165 , 212-697-6767 ) . No mere day at the beach , that 's the D-Day Normandy Commemorative Celebration Weekend in Virginia Beach , Va. , June 3-5 . The battle plan for the 50th annive rsary weekend includes a Fort Story commemorative ceremony and re-enactment of t he invasion at the fort 's Omaha Beach , June 4 ; a parade and Stage Door cantee n show ; historical displays ; and a wreath-laying . The 29th Infantry ( Marylan d , Virginia , West Virginia and District of Columbia ) was the first unit to la nd its troops on Normandy 's Omaha Beach . Visitors are advised to arrive early for the re-enactment . Above events are free . Information : ( 800 ) 822-3224 . -0- Calling the World The world 's calling get the message ? AT&T 's new WorldPl us Communication Service offers travelers a range of calling and messaging featu res-from more than 40 countries . By dialing a toll-free access number and enter ing account and identification numbers , subscribers make calls from abroad , ba ck home or elsewhere ; set up conference calls ; use a personal mailbox to send and receive voice and fax messages worldwide ; and tap into information services ( interpreters ) , travel services and more . Cost is $ 70 annually , plus addi tional charges for calls-for example , $ 1.99 per minute for any call within Eur ope . Information : ( 800 ) 382-5612 . -0- TRAVEL TRIVIA WHAT CARIBBEAN CITY HAS THE LARGEST POPULATION ? TRIVIA ANSWER : HAVANA . -0- Soaping Up A little fanfa re , please , for the stars of daytime TV and the Soap Opera Fan Fair , in Macki naw City , Mich. , June 1-5 . Ogle more than 50 soap producers , writers and sta rs including Linda Dano ( Felicia Gallant on `` Another World '' ) and Eric Brae den ( Victor Newman on the `` The Young and the Restless '' ) ; get autographs , plus the inside scoop from soap editors ; or do moonlight cruises . Tickets for the fair , on the Mackinac Straits ' State Ferry Dock , are $ 25 per day or $ 7 5 for five-day passes ( cruises extra ) . For tickets and help with accommodatio ns , call ( 800 ) 817-SOAP ( 800-817-7627 ) . -0- ON TOURS New tours of Oskar Sc hindler 's Poland , of movie and book fame , start June 15 . Travel writer and h istorian Stu Feiler has organized 11-day tours around the movie version of `` Sc hindler 's List . '' The tour includes Jewish historic d istricts , synagogues a nd Holocaust memorials , including old and new Krakow and Plaszow and southeast Poland , to see the camp that held Schindler 's Jews , his factory , home and mo re . Cost is $ 1,800 per person , double occupancy , including air fare from Was hington , accommodations and most meals . Information : ( 312 ) 587-1950 . -0- R uff Stuff Dog tired of vacationing without Fido ? It 's board and bored no more , for your pooch , with Doggone , the bimonthly newsletter of `` fun places to g o and cool stuff to do with your dog . '' Doggedly reported are pet-friendly lod gings-hotels , resorts , country inns , even five-star hotels that cater to Phyd eaux . The newsletter also walks you through pet-friendly attractions parks , be aches , even theme parks that allow dogs plus tips on health care , plane and ca r travel , events and more . Subscriptions are $ 24 for one year . Information : ( 407 ) 569-8434 . Forget the Freedom Trail get on the JFK trail , with new tours of JFK 's Boston , starting Friday . Through Oct. 23 , the three-hour trolley expeditions ( desig ned in conjunction with the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum ) visit famous Ke nnedy landmarks from his birthplace in Brookline and the Harvard campus , to his favorite restaurant ( the Union Oyster House , where he chowdered down ) and th e Omni Parker House Hotel , where he announced for the presidency . Tours wind u p at the Kennedy Library . Reservations are suggested but not required . Tickets for the Old Town Trolley tour which leaves from the Park Plaza Welcome Center , 52 Eliot St. are $ 20 for adults , $ 15 for students and those age 65 and up , and $ 10 for ages 5 to 14 . Information : ( 617 ) 269-7150 .

Wonk Inflation : When the political debate over health-care reform heated up a f ew years ago , New York publisher Faulkner & Gray compiled an annual directory w ith names , numbers , photos and profiles of `` the most influential health poli cy-makers and organizations in the United States . '' They called it `` The Heal th Care 500 . '' The current edition has the same format but a new title : `` Th e Health Care 1,000 . '' Is Lewis Carroll 's timeless `` Alice 's Adventures in Wonderland '' simply an i nnocent children 's story ? Those who think so are in for a fascinating glance t hrough the looking glass , courtesy of The Learning Channel 's `` Great Books '' series , running Saturday night . The fourth installment of the Donald Sutherla nd-hosted series brings the background of mathematics professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson ( alias Lewis Carroll ) out of the rabbit hole , describing how his vie w of childhood contrasted with the rigid social standards of 1860s Victorian Eng land . This program is not necessarily recommended for younger eyes , but it is required viewing for anyone who has read Lewis Carroll stories to their children . The story of the independent Alice had its genesis on a Thames boat ride on J uly 4 , 1862 , when Dodgson related a tale to 9-year-old Alice Liddell , daughte r of the dean of Christ Church in Oxford . On Christmas of that year , Dodgson p resented young Alice with a hand-illustrated copy of `` Alice 's Adventures Unde rground . '' The following year , he enlisted Punch cartoonist John Tenniel to i llustrate the renamed `` Alice 's Adventures in Wonderland . '' That book and th e follow-up , `` Through the Looking Glass , '' trail only the Bible and the wor ks of Shakespeare as the most quoted books in the English language . The `` Grea t Books '' program shows many of the hundreds of takeoffs and provides a look at how the 1960s popular culture melded with the works of 100 years earlier . ( Je fferson Airplane lead singer Grace Slick , who recorded the 1967 hit `` White Ra bbit , '' noted a half-dozen drug references in Carroll 's writings . ) We also see Carroll on the front of the Beatles ' `` Sgt . Pepper '' album , and a snipp et from the more recent `` Do n't Come Around Here No More '' video featuring To m Petty as the Mad Hatter . Carroll , described as `` a very clever man with the heart of a child , '' is a very complex study . The author of the book that cel ebrates identity perhaps wrestled with his own identity . The program explores w hether he used drugs or gave them to the young girls he entertained and photogra phed . After all , the `` Alice '' stories , unlike most books of the times , ar e conspicuously without morals . The master of nonsense was also a scholar of lo gic . Queen Victoria , after reading `` Alice 's Adventures in Wonderland , '' s aid she wanted to read Carroll 's next book , which turned out to be a treatise on simultaneous linear equations . Upcoming `` Great Books '' programs will stud y H.G. Wells 's `` War of the Worlds '' ( June 11 ) and `` The Art of War '' ( J une 18 ) . New research has found that acetaminophen does n't reduce the pain during and im mediately following circumcision . While acetominophen is safe and easily admini stered to newborns , the researchers said , `` the pain of circumcision is too s evere to be controlled by a mild analgesic . '' Acetaminophen ( the active ingre dient in Tylenol ) does seems to work against persistent discomfort at six hours after circumcision , however , according to a study by University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry researchers . The study appears in last month ' s Pediatrics , published by the American Academy of Pediatrics . About 86 percen t of American male newborns undergo circumcision , the most common surgical proc edure performed on males in this country , the study said . Most of these circum cisions are done without painkillers . A local anesthetic procedure called dorsa l penile nerve block has been found effective against circumcision pain , the re searchers said , but is not widely used because of concerns about its safety , t he time it takes to administer and a continued belief that babies do n't feel mu ch pain . The new study , in line with previous research , concluded that circum cised newborns do experience great and persistent pain during and after the surg ery , based on crying , increased heart and breathing rates and other measuremen ts . The discomfort from the surgery also seemed to interfere with breastfeeding in some newborns , who required formula supplements . Breast-feeding takes more -active participation on the part of newborns , who have to learn to latch on to

the breast and suckle , than the more-free-flowing bottle , said Cynthia R. How ard , the lead researcher on the study . After circumcision , babies can be more difficult to awaken , and this may frustrate mothers who themselves are just le arning to breast-feed , she added . Howard said she plans to follow up this stud y to see if there is any long-term impact on breast-feeding . The researchers co ncluded `` it is imperative '' that a safe and easily administered painkiller be found and used for the large number of newborns receiving circumcisions in this country . Breast milk has long been appreciated for the nourishment it provides and for it s rich supply of antibodies that help newborns fight infections . Now research s uggests that breasts also produce large quantities of a hormone that may aid the development of a newborn 's brain and sexual organs , and may also affect the h ealth of the mother 's breast itself . Scientists said the findings , which were made in experiments on rats but appear to be true for humans as well , strength en the argument for breast feeding and may lead to new strategies for fighting b reast cancer . Researchers have known for years that the hormone , gonadotropinreleasing hormone ( GnRH ) , is made in the hypothalamus of the brain in adults , where it influences sex-organ growth , the reproductive cycle and sexual behav ior in rats and people . Pregnant women also make the hormone in the placenta , where it gets passed to the embryo and has a major influence on fetal brain deve lopment . Now researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovet , Isra el , have found that in lactating rats large amounts of GnRH are made in breast tissues . The hormone is probably also made in human breast tissues , they said , since human breast milk has been found to be loaded with the hormone . The res earchers , led by neuroendocrinologist Yitzhak Koch , propose that the GnRH in b reast milk may help complete certain aspects of brain or sex-organ development l eft unfinished during the fetus ' stay in the uterus . Breast-milk GnRH may be e specially important to a newborn rat , since rat brains are still largely undeve loped even after birth . Human brains are more fully developed at birth , so the importance of GnRH in human breast milk remains uncertain . But even human brai ns change substantially in the first years of life and may benefit from the horm one , Koch and others said . `` It could be important for the physiology of the developing baby , '' said Donald Pfaff , a neurobiologist at Rockefeller Univers ity in New York . But he stressed that further experiments are needed to see whe ther the hormone can survive in the digestive tract of a suckling newborn or is deactivated there . Sergio R. Ojeda , head of neuroscience at the Oregon Regiona l Primate Center in Beaverton , said researchers discovered a few years ago that breast milk contains fatty acids , which are critical for growth , and taurine , which aids in the absorption of nutrients , and that baby formula companies ha d subsequently added those ingredients to their products . He said GnRH may be t he latest such discovery , and he predicted that further research would bring ot her hormonal benefits of breast milk to light . Margaret Wierman , an endocrinol ogist at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center , said the new findin g was potentially important for women too because many breast-cancer cells grow in response to GnRH . She said studies of how the production of GnRH is regulate d in the breast may someday lead to new ways of blocking breast-cancer growth . The new research appears in this week 's issue of the Proceedings of the Nationa l Academy of Sciences . It was the surgical head nurse who turned the South African hospital upside down . She needed a gynecologist , and it made perfect sense to her to choose Dr. E. T. Mokgokong , who would soon become deputy head of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Natal . Except that it was 20 years ago at the height of apar theid and the nurse was white and Dr. Mokgokong is black . `` She caused complet e pandemonium in the hospital , '' the doctor recalled . After all , it was a bl ack hospital . Although the staff was mostly white , the patients were black . W hy would n't the nurse go to the hospital for whites ? `` She told them : ` My g ynie is Dr. Mokgokong , ' ' ' he continued . Very delicate , very shocking . He remembers her asking the disapproving white staff : `` Whose body is going to be examined ? '' That stamp of approval helped establish him in the old South Afri ca . It also convinced him that an academic degree and the stethoscope were the

most potent weapons he could wield against the apartheid government . This month , a new era began as blacks who represent four-fifths of the population took co ntrol of the government . One of the most immediate challenges is to build a nat ional health-care system to meet the needs of a swelling non-white population . Black children have death rates that are 12 times higher than white , according to government figures . Diseases such as typhoid and tuberculosis , rare among w hites , are major killers of South African blacks . More than half the children admitted to a black teaching hospital last year were found to be suffering from malnutrition . A critical problem is the lack of black health-care professionals . Currently there are about 1,200 black physicians for an estimated population of 30 million . This compares with 25,000 white doctors for about 5 million whit es . For decades Mokgokong , 63 , has been a kind of education warrior on the he alth-care battlefield . He heads the Medical University of Southern Africa ( Med unsa ) , founded in 1978 for black students . Last week , he was in Washington t o receive an award from Medical Education for South African Blacks , a non-profi t organization that funds medical scholarships . Mokgokong grew up on a farm , t he youngest of seven children . His father was a teacher and Lutheran minister . At 19 , he passed the standard examinations to enter a university . After earni ng a science degree at Fort Hare University , Mokgokong received his medical deg ree at the University of Natal in 1962 . He belongs to South Africa 's pioneer b lack generation of `` First-&-Onlys '' : First black on the university faculty , one of the only blacks on the hospital teaching staff ; first & only black to h ead a South African medical school . `` First-&-Only '' pioneers ( blacks or wom en or members of any outsider group ) can break the barriers of the discriminati ng culture but not its rules . They survive and even excel by working within the system and in the process they target the culture 's limits . First Mokgokong b roke the ability barrier when he decided to specialize in obstetrics and gynecol ogy and pursue a career on the prestigious track of academic medicine . `` The e arly days were very difficult , '' he said . `` We were always taking the job of a white . '' Meanwhile , Mokgokong had to prove he was not only just as good as his white counterparts , but better . That 's why it was a turning point when t he surgical head nurse chose him to be her doctor . He also had a mentor in the chief of the ob-gyn department . `` I became his blue-eyed boy , '' he jokingly recalled . But eventually `` First-&-Onlys '' crack up against the culture 's gl ass ceiling . When his department chief retired , Mokgokong applied for the dire ctor 's job and was passed over . A few years later , he crossed a personal and political Rubicon and switched to the all-black medical school . The move was hi ghly controversial . To many in South Africa , Medunsa was seen as a tool of apa rtheid to keep blacks separate and disenfranchised . To some , learning itself w as a form of submission . `` Liberation first , education later '' was the revol utionary slogan . But to an education warrior like Mokgokong , it was the other way around . Education equaled liberation . Spare the book , he believed , and s poil the child 's future . He consulted his political friends , some of them in exile , and got their backing to go to Medunsa because , as he said , `` the ins titution in the long run will be a training area for black people . '' Today rou ghly 60 percent of practicing black physicians in South Africa are graduates of Medunsa . While other universities are opening the door to black applicants , Me dunsa remains the primary medical training ground for blacks . Yet , in the euph oria of liberation , Mokgokong is not resting on his laurels . Apartheid may be overturned , but his education war goes on . He has already started with his fam ily . One son is a neurosurgeon , another is a general practitioner , his wife i s a social worker . `` I hope we can keep our level head and not go into a dicta torship to deal with the violence , '' he said . `` The main thing is to bring b ack the culture of learning and teaching . '' In what may be a new record , the most recent U.S. policy on Haiti , whose cente rpiece is tougher sanctions , was declared futile even before it came into effec t on May 21 . Among widely opposing views on every other aspect of Haitian polic y , all sides agreed on just one point : that the still untested sanctions would not suffice to drive Haiti 's military regime from power . Administration offic ials , who had just devised the policy , freely but anonymously admitted as much

to reporters . Supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide , who only a few weeks befo re were fiercely urging tighter sanctions , agreed . Their earlier conviction th at `` sanctions had never been given a chance '' because the old set was too wea k shifted almost overnight to the view that unmistakable readiness to use force was necessary . The president , listing reasons why an invasion would be in the U.S. interest , was described by aides as trying to build public support for mil itary action . If , as seems nearly certain , the sanctions do n't do the job , the administration will have far fewer options than it had a few weeks ago . A p olicy designed to buy time and options already seems to have achieved the revers e . Now , abandoning sanctions on the grounds that the necessary conditions for democracy do n't exist today in Haiti , would seem too stark a retreat . Indefin ite negotiations would seem obviously fruitless . Tightening the sanctions still further risks destabilizing the Dominican Republic and would bring unacceptable suffering for Haitians . The remaining option unless President Aristide were to voluntarily step aside is an invasion . Five arguments have been advanced in fa vor of such a step : that U.S. values and post-Cold War global strategy demand t hat we `` restore democracy '' to Haiti ; that U.S. credibility is unacceptably harmed by thugs who `` thumb their noses '' at us ; that restoring President Ari stide is the only way to reduce the number of refugees heading our way ; that re moving the current military leaders will reduce drug trafficking to the United S tates ; that only such an all out-effort can dispel charges of a racist policy . Close inspection reveals glaring weaknesses in most of these arguments . Haitia n drug trafficking , for example , is not a large source of what 's on America ' s streets . If that were motive for an invasion , a dozen other countries should come first . Other reasons offered by President Clinton-Haiti 's proximity , th e fact that many Haitians live here and Americans live in Haiti , and the fact t hat Haiti and Cuba are the only remaining non-democracies in the hemisphere are accurate descriptions but hardly reasons for military action . What is noteworth y about this list is that only the first argument addresses Haiti 's problems ; the rest address our own . Making foreign policy with an eye to domestic opinion is one thing . Making foreign policy to resolve domestic concerns with only an occasional eye to the actual problems abroad is quite another , and unlikely to end successfully . `` Restoring democracy , '' therefore , is the crux of the ma tter . But is it also a delusion ? We can reinstate a freely elected president w ho is the choice of most Haitians . But a single election does not create a demo cracy . The election that brought President Aristide to power was an aberration in Haitian politics , made possible only by the presence of large teams of forei gn observers . The political norm is rampant corruption , stolen or canceled ele ctions , coups d' etat and violence . Democracy can only be homegrown . An estab lished democracy that has been usurped can be restored through outside force . A fledgling democracy , receptive to the rule of law and to the right of peaceful political dissent , can be helped along . But it is questionable and worthy of a serious debate that has not occurred whether Haiti can be lastingly helped at this point in its political evolution through armed intervention . To leave behi nd a functioning democracy in Haiti , an invasion would have to : disarm the mil itary ; reinstate Aristide ; prevent the traditional violent retribution against those leaving power ; create Haiti 's first well-trained , civilian controlled police , distinct from the military ; keep order for months to years ; uproot an d remove antidemocractic elements of the military and economic elite ; provide m assive development assistance , get along with Aristide through thick and thin ; help forge a moderate political consensus , and be prepared to re-intervene if it collapses . These tasks get harder and more dangerous as the liberators becom e occupiers and the large initial force shrinks to a smaller number of peace enf orcers . Lives will be lost to paid and random violence . At what point would th e United States declare its job done ? Invasion advocates argue that it could be very early , with the longer , harder job turned over to an ad hoc internationa l coalition or U.N. peace-keeping force . Other countries can be expected to hol d a different view . Moreover , a U.N. force would have to be vetoed by the Unit ed States , since its open-ended mandate could not meet the conditions of the pr esident 's new peace-keeping policy . If democracy cannot be restored because it

has n't previously existed in Haiti , Americans will have to decide how they fe el about military action for the purpose of keeping out refugees or as a means o f demonstrating the president 's toughness . The threat to American credibility , however , does not come from Port-au-Prince . It lies in the possibility that we will start something we cannot finish out of little more than frustration , o r become hopelessly tangled in a policy riddled with internal contradictions bec ause it is principally designed to meet domestic imperatives . WASHINGTON Some people in the federal government never get a pat on the back . E ver hear anybody loving up the IRS ( `` Gee , great tax ! '' ) ? Or the Postal S ervice ( `` Really quick and cheap ! '' ) ? Or the Border Patrol ( `` Boy , thos e people will n't dare try that again ! '' ) ? Or the U.S. . Agency for Internat ional Development , charged with administering foreign aid , one of the nation ' s favorite spending priorities . ( `` Wow , I loved the way you took the $ 5 mil lion that was supposed to pay for my children 's textbooks and built that beauti ful bridge in Milcamagnesia ! '' ) . One school of thought holds that shepherdin g foreign aid through Congress is what transformed House Appropriations Committe e Chairman David R . Obey , D-Wis. , into such a cuddly guy . Jay Byrne , AID 's press spokesman , put it another way : `` Let 's just say foreign assistance do es n't have much of a constituency . Every time you turn a corner there 's someo ne standing there with a baseball bat . '' In an effort to lighten up his troops , Byrne ( and others , he insists ) in March devised a `` Stress Management Pro gram , '' a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post . The basic princi ple : `` You all want to stay stressed , and stress is good for moral ! '' Stres s may also have caused this spelling lapse , but so what ? Stress `` helps you a void responsibility , '' the manifesto said . `` This gets you off the hook for all the mundane chores ; let someone else take care of them . '' In other words , blame the proofreader . Byrne , 32 , once worked in former Boston mayor Raymon d L. Flynn 's office , where , he acknowledged , `` people had more fun '' than they do wandering around among the egomaniacs down here . What a surprise . Acco rding to Byrne , AID has been especially stressed because `` dramatic changes '' have made the agency `` what we like to call the number one laboratory for rein venting government . '' In the Clinton administration this sort of reinvention q uack-quack is slang for layoffs and budget cutbacks , but Byrne makes a convinci ng case that other stuff is happening , too . When last you tuned in , Byrne not ed , AID was always being accused of running expensive , inefficient , hugely st upid projects whose only apparent purpose was to keep corrupt Third World dictat orships from going communist . `` When we ( the Clintonites ) first showed up , '' Byrne noted , `` nine out of 10 phone calls from journalists focused on poten tial abuses , dissatisfaction and misunderstanding . '' Now the communists are g one , Byrne said , `` the Cold War dictums no longer apply , '' and AID is shutt ing down in 23 countries . Some of these are long-term friendlies who have alleg edly `` graduated '' ( Thailand , Costa Rica , Botswana ) to become `` developed countries . '' Others are short-term friendly `` graduates '' who apparently we re always developed , they just did n't know it ( Estonia , the former Czechoslo vakia ) . And a few are Third World dictatorships where nothing good ever seems to happen ( Zaire ) . So the good news for foreign aid haters is that we 're cut ting all these countries off . Maybe they no longer need us , as AID would have us believe , or maybe we no longer need them , since nobody 's going communist a nymore . Whatever , it should be noted that this is not real money . Of the $ 7 billion in the current foreign aid budget , Byrne says , only $ 2 billion is fun ding `` sustainable development '' projects in the Third World . The rest is eit her being used to keep old friends from throttling each other ( Israel and Egypt ) or to keep new friends from getting crazy ( the former Soviet Union ) . So , if you 've only got $ 2 billion to massage , tempers can get short . Also , Byrn e said nobody can smoke in the office anymore , `` which has caused quite a bit of stress , '' and relations with AID 's closest associates , the State Departme nt and the U.S. . Information Agency , remain snarly . Thus the stress manifesto recommends `` worry about things you cannot control , '' including Voice of Ame rica foreign aid editorials , which the AID press office must painstakingly read and clear , even though , `` frankly , you wonder who 's interested , '' Byrne

said . The manifesto also notes that `` stress helps you seem important . Eviden ce : the State Department , '' but Byrne refused to expand on this statement . L ater , however , he admitted that `` you are reminding me that at the time we wr ote this , it was a lot of fun . '' And good for moral . Charles Durning tucked away his D-Day memories 50 years ago . They were so painf ul he 's rarely unpacked them since . Durning is the only survivor of a unit tha t landed on Omaha Beach that June 6 in 1944 . He holds the Silver Star for valor and three Purple Hearts for wounds he suffered . He was an infantryman , only 1 7 . But so were the German soldiers on the bluffs above , strafing the Normandy beach from concrete bunkers that are still there . Durning survived the invasion he had to kill seven German gunners to do it and suffered serious machine-gun w ounds to his right leg and shrapnel wounds over his body . Later he was stabbed eight times by a bayonet-wielding German teenager . He killed that soldier with a rock . A few months after that , he was taken prisoner at the Battle of the Bu lge , survived a massacre of other prisoners , then had to return to help identi fy the bodies . A bullet in the chest finally ended his wartime duty . Durning e ndured four years of hospitalizations for his physical and psychological wounds . `` I 'd like to have a decade of my life back , '' he said . `` I dropped into a void for almost a decade . It 's your mind that 's hard to heal . There are m any horrifying secrets in the depths of our souls that we do n't want anyone to know about . '' Later Durning found that his brother in the Navy also had been p art of the landing . The invasion of Omaha Beach was assigned to the United Stat es ' 1st Infantry Division , to which Durning belonged , and the untested 29th D ivision from Maryland and Virginia . More than 70,000 men went ashore on D-Day , 15,000 of them to their deaths . In recent weeks , Durning has been unpacking h is D-Day recollections . During a spring visit to Washington , he discussed his experiences guardedly . Those experiences , along with his familiar television p resence , made him an ideal choice to take part in a Memorial Day event and two productions pegged to the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion . Sunday eve ning , Durning will appear at the National Memorial Day Concert to read a letter written by a 19-year-old American soldier describing the horror of that day . M onday night , on The Discovery Channel 's `` Normandy : The Great Crusade , '' D urning does the narration and reads a poem written by a 22-year-old paratrooper . Durning has also taped an account of the invasion by Ernest Hemingway for incl usion in a `` CBS Reports '' special on D-Day airing Thursday night and hosted b y Dan Rather and retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf . Durning 's colleague from CBS 's `` Evening Shade , '' Ossie Davis , will host the 90-minute Memorial Day concert on PBS , the fifth produced for that holiday by Jerry Colbert of Pathmak ers Inc. , and Washington public station WETA . This one focuses not only on the soldiers of D-Day , but also on the American nurses who served in Vietnam . In addition to Durning , concert headliners include Grammy-winning country singer C lint Black , who has written a song , `` American Soldier , '' for the occasion ; musician Doc Severinsen ; actresses Mary McDonnell and Jill Clayburgh , who wi ll read letters written by nurses ; singers Harolyn Blackwell and Maureen McGove rn ; and the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel , with a mili tary chorus doing selections that will include Beethoven 's `` Ode to Joy . '' B rass on board are to include Gen. John Shalikashvili , chairman of the Joint Chi efs of Staff ; his predecessor , retired Gen. Colin Powell ; and the chief of ea ch armed service . Durning choked up a little while taping his narration for the Discovery documentary . His recitation before thousands of people at the Memori al Day concert could be an emotional challenge . He 'll be looking into televisi on cameras , but he asked Colbert not to require him to face the war footage to be shown behind him . Concert host Ossie Davis will understand . An Army medic s tationed in Liberia , he was manning the base radio station in early June 1944 w hen he ran into a military-news blackout . He learned about the D-Day landing fr om the BBC and announced it to the local troops . It was Davis who was instrumen tal in securing Durning 's appearance at the concert . Reminded over a lunch in April with his wife , actress Ruby Dee , and Colbert that Durning was part of th e first wave onto Omaha Beach , Davis suddenly realized that his friend would be ideal to read the letter and leaped up to call the sitcom 's production office

. Two weeks later , Colbert was in Los Angeles talking with Durning , who had re ad the script for the concert and agreed to appear . Plans call for him to leave the stage briefly to shake hands with other D-Day veterans in the audience . Li ke Davis and Colbert , Susan and Christopher Koch , producers of the Discovery d ocumentary , and executive producer Tim F . Cowling thought the same thing : Dur ning would be perfect . But they nearly missed him . They had contacted his agen t but heard nothing . `` We thought , ` He just does n't want to have anything t o do with it , ' ' ' said Susan Koch . `` We were into casting the ( voices ) , and his agent called and said , ` Charlie wants to do anything . He 'll read one line . ' We felt it was meant to be . '' It seems that Durning 's stepdaughter , as aspiring actress , had seen a copy of the script that had somehow never rea ched Durning and insisted he read it . After 50 years of suppressed memories , h e decided it was what he wanted to do . `` We did n't get an actor , we got a No rmandy veteran who happens to be an actor , and that was precisely what the film called for , '' said Chris Koch . For the actor , doing the narration stirred e motions . A careful listener may catch a tremor in Durning 's voice at times dur ing the program . Durning and Chris Koch talked for several hours beforehand abo ut Durning 's experiences . `` He said , ` You know , everybody who was there is in some state of denial . There are things I 'll take to my grave. ' ' ' Durnin g was with `` The Big Red One , '' the 1st Division , which went into Omaha Beac h with the 29th Division from Maryland and Virginia . Units that ultimately form ed the 29th fought in the American Revolution and both sides of the Civil War ( hence its nickname , `` The Blue and the Gray '' ) , but unlike most infantry di visions , it was and is part of the National Guard . `` We picked the 29th becau se they had never been in combat before , '' said Chris Koch . `` They were trai ned and selected to go in first . '' Durning had the bad luck to go in with them because , said Koch , `` he was a real troublemaker in basic training , he said . His CO said , ` Durning , you 're going in on the first wave. ' ' ' Among the voices in `` Normandy : The Great Crusade '' are those of actor Robert Sean Leo nard as a Virginia corporal , Robert Sales ; Leslie Caron as Marie-Louise Osmont , a widow whose chateau became a German barracks , and who kept a diary ; Marie l Hemingway as American photojournalist Martha Gellhorn ( an ex-wife of Ernest H emingway , Mariel 's grandfather ) , who landed at Omaha Beach to cover the stor y and ended up caring for wounded soldiers ; and Joanna Pacula as Ursula von Kar koff , an anti-Nazi German whose brothers were required to serve in Hitler 's ar my . Actor Charles Durning grew up in Highland Falls , N.Y. , near the U.S. . Militar y Academy at West Point . His father , an Irish immigrant who had joined the Arm y to gain U.S. citizenship , lost a leg during World War I and died when Charles was 12 . The elder Durning 's widow supported her five children by working as a laundress at West Point . `` I never went to college ; barely got out of high s chool , '' Durning said . `` I finished high school when I came out of the Army . '' All along , what Durning really wanted to do was act . `` I was enamored of acting from the first time I saw ` King Kong , ' ' ' he said . `` When I saw Ca gney , I just went crazy . '' At 16 , he was working as an usher at a Buffalo bu rlesque house that featured bawdy comics . `` They chose to believe I was 21 , ' ' he said of the management . After the war Durning used dancing as physical the rapy to strengthen his badly injured leg , and speech therapy to smooth a stutte r that had developed . He began training at the American Academy of Dramatic Art s but was told he lacked talent . So he worked as a dancer and played small role s with Joseph Papp 's New York Shakespeare Company . A role in Papp 's `` That C hampionship Season '' on Broadway in 1973 led to one in a film , `` The Sting . '' Durning went on to do more than 70 movies . Nominated for two Oscars and eigh t Emmys , and the recipient of Golden Globe and Drama Desk awards , he won a Ton y as Big Daddy in a 1990 Broadway revival of `` Cat on a Hot Tin Roof . '' Somet imes Durning thinks about the loss to the country wrought by war . `` Only the f lower of our youth , only the best the most healthy , the brightest are allowed to go , '' he said . `` Think of all the poets , the playwrights , the philosoph ers , the scientists , the statesman that were lost . '' WASHINGTON The Office of Management and Budget has announced a new pilot project

designed to ease some of Washington 's chronic procurement problems , such as c ost overruns and lack of competition on large contracts . The government spends about $ 105 billion each year on `` contracting out , '' buying services that ra nge from grass-cutting and painting to highly complex scientific research and an alysis . The announcement this week by OMB Director Leon E. Panetta said the pil ot project would encourage federal agencies government-wide to refashion some of their existing service contracts to reflect performance-based standards . They would include price , level of competition , number of contract audits and lengt h of the procurement cycle . `` This pilot project will help to streamline the p rocurement process and create a better work environment between the government a nd service contractors , '' Panetta said . For the experiment , agencies would c onvert contracts that offer ways to measure before-and-after results , and move from cost-reimbursement contracts to fixed-priced contracts . Agencies also woul d break up large `` umbrella , '' or multipurpose contracts that typically inclu de a variety of routine services , such as guards and secretaries . `` I think a lot of people throughout government would agree with the observation that very frequently , in government and in service contracting , we do n't do a good enou gh job of defining what we want out of the contractors , what performance we wan t , '' said Steven Kelman , the administrator of OMB 's Office of Federal Procur ement Policy . Earlier this year , a survey ordered by Panetta found that the `` statements of work '' which describe the tasks or services to be purchased are often so imprecise that vendors are unable to determine agency requirements . Po or statements of work can reduce the number of bidders , limiting competition , and make it difficult to assess a contractor 's performance . Kelman , noting th at `` it 's hard to write a good statement of what you want , '' said some procu rement officials developed statements of work , then used them repeatedly withou t taking into account technological changes or lessons learned from management e xperiences . The pilot project , he said , will `` tighten up the system in the sense of making it more clear , up front , what the performance criteria is and what we want from contractors . '' By using performance-based standards , Kelman said , the government should be able to move to fixed-price contracts , perform fewer audits and save around 20 percent on contract costs . An `` unusually dra matic '' example savings of 43 percent was achieved at the Treasury Department w hen it took a cost-based contract for training and coverted it to fixed price , Kelman said . WASHINGTON The health-care debate is not nearly as complicated as it looks . Oh yes , the details can get immensely complex and getting the details wrong could cost dearly . But what 's causing all the turmoil are a few key choices . Once t hose choices are made , the details begin to fall into place . The biggest choic e is whether or not the United States wants a system assuring every American hea lth insurance . This issue passes under the name `` universal coverage . '' Univ ersal coverage is immensely popular not only among those who are uninsured but a lso among those who currently have insurance but fear they will lose it or see t heir coverage eroded as employers face ever-higher costs . So popular is univers al coverage that few politicians will say they 're against it . But guaranteeing everyone health coverage will cost money . There are only so many ways to raise the money . Congress could simply raise taxes . Or it could require individuals to pick up the tab . Or it can require employers to pay part or most of the cos ts , as so many already do now . President Clinton 's plan puts most but not all of the burden on employers . All employers , with the exception of some of the smallest , would have to pay 80 percent of the health insurance costs for their employees , individuals 20 percent . That roughly matches the current split at c ompanies that insure their employees . You would n't know it from the cowering i n Congress over the dread `` employer mandate , '' as it 's known , but requirin g companies to insure their employees is immensely popular . That ought not be s urprising . Most people are employees , not employers . And most people think th at if they hold down a job or , as is the case with so many families , two jobs health coverage ought to be part of the deal . But it is a sign of how skewed th e debate is in Washington toward various business lobbies that the employer mand ate has become the main sticking point in the discussion . Many Republicans and

some conservative Democrats say they 'll kill any health bill that includes one . Yet most of these politicians will then turn around and also say no to new tax es , no to individual mandates , no to anything that would actually guarantee un iversal coverage . A courageous exception is Sen. John Chafee , R-R.I. , who fav ors requiring individuals to buy health insurance . As Chafee noted on `` Meet t he Press '' on Sunday , `` to have universal coverage and to have the reforms th at we need .. . we 've got to have some kind of mandate . '' For his candor , Ch afee has gotten nothing but grief from the Republican right , which wants to use the mandate issue to stop universal coverage . What scares the Republicans abou t Chafee 's position is that if they concede the reality that only mandates or t axes lead to universality , the Democrats who favor employer mandates suddenly h ave the political high ground . Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole is very shrewd about this . `` I can already see the 30-second television spots , '' Dole told The Washington Post 's Dana Priest. ` ` ` Well , the Republicans did n't want y our boss to pay for it , they want you to pay for it. ' ' ' Clinton ought to hir e Dole as a media consultant . Some former opponents of the mandate among Democr ats have begun to understand what Dole already knows . The conversion of Sen. Jo hn Breaux , D-La. , from firm opposition to open-mindedness about an employer ma ndate may be seen later as the turning point in the debate . Opponents of largescale reform have taken to arguing that there is no need for a universal program now and that slower , piecemeal action makes more sense on a problem this compl icated . This view has intuitive appeal , but may be dead wrong on health care . As Hilary Stout and David Rogers pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last we ek , the cost per person of providing coverage generally drops when more people are covered in larger insurance pools . Piecemeal reform could be more expensive , not less . And real cost containment is only possible once everyone is in the system . Otherwise , the providers of health care will keep shifting costs from the uninsured or the poorly insured to the well insured . The point with health reform is that you either really do it or you do n't , and the key to whether i t gets done is Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan , the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee . Moynihan 's discomfort with the Clinton plan is often ascribed to p rickly personal relations with the White House , with Senate Majority Leader Geo rge Mitchell and the like . But instead of psychoanalyzing Moynihan , supporters of health reform would do well to pay attention to what he 's written about soc ial policy over the years for example , in his 1988 volume , `` Came the Revolut ion . '' Two themes are central to Moynihan 's view . One is the hubris of socia l reformers . Speaking of government 's exertions in the 1960s , Moynihan says t hat `` we should not exaggerate what we knew or what would come of what we under took . '' What scared Moynihan initially about Clinton 's health undertaking was his plan 's complexity and the impression some Clintonites gave that they thoug ht they had unlocked all the mysteries of health policy . But Moynihan also has an immense respect for what government can do . `` Government , '' he says , `` can embrace great causes and do great things . '' Clinton 's central task is to convince Moynihan and with him the country that universal health coverage as con ceived by the administration is not an act of hubris but a practical next step i n a great cause that began with Social Security and the New Deal and that has wo rked out pretty well . PRAGUE , Czech Republic While former Communists and Socialists in much of Easter n Europe are riding a popular backlash against economic reforms to return to pow er , the Czech Republic appears to be a notable exception . This country of 10.5 million people , Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said recently , is beginning to lo ok like `` a small non-leftist island in the center of Europe .. . . All opinion polls show that nothing like that could ever happen in our country . '' Jiri Ry vola , spokesman for the country 's newly militant labor confederation , has man y criticisms of Klaus but agrees with him on one fundamental point : Former Comm unists and Socialists have little chance here of returning to power , as they ha ve in several other formerly Communist-governed states . `` It just seems unlike ly to me that a similar development could occur here , '' Ryvola said . Less tha n five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall sent the Communist regimes of Eas tern Europe tumbling like dominoes , both Poland and Lithuania have put former C

ommunist parties back into office , and Hungary is about to follow suit , with t he Socialist Party poised for a commanding victory in runoff elections there May 29 . Yet , here in the Czech Republic there is no sign that former Communists o r Socialists are gathering any momentum at all , as both government and labor co ntinue to support the drive to establish a free-market economy in the shortest t ime possible and seem to share a hatred for Communists , past and present . The sharing of basic views toward the reform process between the Czech republic 's o nly labor confederation and its political leadership has apparently not been sha ken by a demonstration by 30,000 disgruntled workers on March 22 the biggest pro test seen in Prague 's Old Town Square since the overthrow of the Communist regi me here in November 1989 . The Left Bloc Communists , Socialists and their allie s holds 33 seats in the 200-seat parliament , second only to the 76 held by Klau s 's Civic Democratic Party . But polls show the bloc currently attracting less than 10 percent of voters . Why the Czech Republic is bucking the leftward trend in Eastern Europe has become the object of considerable discussion among Wester n diplomats , academics , bankers and financiers . These analysts are pondering whether the Czech Republic could serve as a model of successful transformation f rom communism to capitalism for other Eastern European nations or whether condit ions here are so specific as to make this unlikely . Right now , the prevailing wisdom seems to be that the Czechs , formerly part of Czechoslovakia before it s plit into separate Czech and Slovak republics in January 1993 , are a special ca se , with a prime minister who has devised a unique approach . Klaus , a promine nt economist , prides himself on being a disciple of former British prime minist er Margaret Thatcher , a labor-bashing free-marketeer who despised the social we lfare state . But analysts here say Klaus has in fact followed a highly statist approach toward reform that has carefully incorporated the labor unions as partn ers , relied heavily on social welfare measures to keep the social peace and spe nt billions of dollars in government subsidies in flagrant violation of free-mar ket principles . `` It 's clearly hypocritical for Klaus to call himself a Thatc herite . He 's the biggest Social Democrat in Europe , '' said Mitchell Orenstei n , a Yale University graduate researching the Czech transition at the Institute for East-West Studies here . One of the most striking features of the Czech pol itical scene today is the divorce of the unions and leftist parties , while unio ns in Hungary and Poland have jumped into politics and parliament with enthusias m . Analysts say the answer lies partly in how the fall of the Communist regime came about here more as an aftershock of the earthquake that swept the Communist s from power elsewhere . The transition was so peaceful that it came to be known as the Velvet Revolution but also so brief a matter of a couple of weeks that l ittle real reform took place within the Communist Party . By contrast , the refo rm process in Hungary and Poland was underway for years and affected their Commu nist parties as well before non-Communists finally took power in the 1989-90 gen eral upheaval . They quickly shed their old names and ideologies as part of a ge neral face lifting to persuade voters they had broken with the past . Here , the Communist Party is still agonizing over whether to take `` Communist '' out of its title and has failed to shake off the stigmas attached to it . `` Eighty per cent of our members voted to keep the name , ` ` party Chairman Miroslav Grebeni cek explained somewhat apologetically . Grebenicek readily agrees with Klaus and Ryvola that there is no chance of the Communists coming back to power here in t he near future . The party , he explained , is badly fragmented , with its legis lators split into three factions . But a weak , fragmented and only partially re formed Communist opposition is not the sole reason former Communists and Socalis ts have been marginalized here , according to Orenstein . He believes the secret to Klaus 's success lies in two strategies massive government subsidies to cons truct an extensive social safety net to soften the effects of wrenching economic reforms and a corporatist approach toward labor and business . Klaus has relied on such non-free-market practices as a law barring state-owned enterprises from declaring bankruptcy while they are being privatized . Yet 61 percent of 767 in dustrial enterprises were insolvent as of March 31 , according to press reports . This refusal to allow bankruptcies has meant that hundreds of thousands of wor kers who would otherwise have been laid off have kept their jobs a practice not

followed in Hungary or Poland . This has cost the Czech treasury billions of dol lars . Klaus has also implemented a program of make-work projects to create `` p ublicly useful jobs , '' such as street sweeping , to keep another 100,000 to 14 0,000 employed . In addition , the government pays out a `` living minimum '' wa ge to 300,000 or more Czechs classified as being below the poverty line . These measures have allowed the government to boast that the Czech Republic has the lo west unemployment rate less than 4 percent of any country in Europe today . DEIR BALAH REFUGEE CAMP , Gaza Strip At the edge of the shimmering waters and br illiant beaches of the Mediterranean lie 39 acres of dreary cinder-block warrens , sandy alleys , open sewers and the dreams of 13,680 Palestinian refugees . Am ong them is Bassem Khaldi , 32 , a teacher , the sole breadwinner in a family of 24 people living in seven rooms and sharing one kitchen . Khaldi and his wife o ccupy one room with a corrugated tin roof . As much as he would like to flee thi s overcrowded camp , he has nowhere to go . `` Once , I dreamed of a house and a car , '' he said . `` Our dreams are something . Our hopes are something . But reality is different . I have no choice . I can n't leave . I am the only one wo rking , and I have to support 24 people . '' His predicament helps explain much about the land and people that Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat will govern when he takes over the Gaza Strip in the weeks ahead . Two o ut of three people under Arafat 's new domain are refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants . They are the poorest of the Palestinians , those who are mo st desperately in need of new housing and economic revival . Yet they may be the most difficult to help , for reasons both political and economic . The Gaza ref ugee camps Beach , Jabaliyah , Khan Younis , Rafah , Nuseirat , Bureij , Deir Ba lah and Maghazi are where the Palestinian uprising caught fire six years ago , a nd where resentment and pride still burn deep . A recent study of Palestinian so ciety by a Norwegian institute found that `` the single most embittered sector o f the population is the first generation '' of Palestinian men in the Gaza refug ee camps . Here , Arafat remains a powerful figure . On a recent afternoon , the sun-baked walls here were resplendent with a freshly painted , elaborate Arabic graffito hailing the PLO and pledging `` All the glory to our martyrs . '' Red and green paint ran in glistening rivulets through the sand below . The name Dei r Balah means `` Monastery of the Dates , '' recalling an earlier era when this was a balmy stretch of plantations . But today the refugee camp , Gaza 's smalle st , is a dense honeycomb of families surviving in identical square cinder-block cells built for them in 1960 . There is 124 square feet of living space for eac h of the 13,680 residents of the camp . To an outsider looking at the Gaza coast , the refugee camps might seem an obvious target for razing and resettlement . But starting over with the refugees has long been problematic . For five decades , the camps were a symbol to Palestinians of what they believed was the tempora ry nature of their exodus . Israel sought to carry out a resettlement effort in the 1970s , and several thousand refugees took advantage of it , but there was c riticism that it would mean the end of their claims to land and villages they lo st when Israel was created in 1948 . The refugees ' claims are not expected to b e negotiated until the talks on the permanent status of the Gaza Strip and West Bank in several years . At least theoretically , Arafat probably does not want t o give up any cards or leverage before those negotiations by dismantling the cam ps now . But attitudes in the camps are changing , albeit slowly . The enormous pressures of decades of overcrowding and poverty have spurred a steady stream of refugees to leave the camps on their own . ( They retain their status as refuge es , eligible for benefits from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency , even when the y move out of the camps . ) The Gaza refugee population has grown from 200,000 i n 1951 to 625,000 today , about half of them in the camps . `` In the period 194 8 to 1953 , for the people who were there , ( the camps were large ) enough to a ccommodate those numbers , '' said Palestinian lawyer Shasabeel Alzaeem , a cons ultant to the U.N. agency . `` But the person who back then had one bed and one kitchen , now he is a grandfather with 10 sons . So , they cannot continue expan ding . This is why so many have left . '' `` It does n't mean they forgot Jaffa or Haifa , '' he added , referring to towns with a large pre-1948 Arab populatio n . `` But they understand they cannot return to Jaffa and Haifa . '' `` The old

people still remember the land , the village , '' Khaldi said . `` If you ask s omeone where they are from , they will never say Deir Balah . When we register t he children in our school , we still write down the name of the original village . '' Most of those in the camp were refugees from towns and villages along the southern coast of Palestine , near what is now the Israeli towns of Ashdod and A shkelon . `` But , to be honest , they do n't feel they have a good chance of go ing back , '' he added . `` It 's not fair . But it 's realistic . They have no other choice . '' Salah Musa arrived in Deir Balah when he was 15 . At first he lived in a tent ; later , in a mud-brick shanty with an asphalt roof that leaked in winter rains . Musa became the mukhtar , or village leader , of Deir Balah a nd saw his own experience multiplied . `` Most people have been living in a cris is for a long time . The housing , the living conditions and the economy complet ely deteriorated . The people are psychologically broken . '' Smoking cigarettes and sipping sweet tea , Musa looked out his door at the beach and camp a striki ng contrast of natural beauty and man-made squalor . He said no one had forced h im to remain here . He simply had no alternative . `` I have n't decided to live in a refugee camp , '' he said . `` If I find a house , a beautiful house , the re is nothing stopping me from leaving . But no one came and gave me money to bu ild a house , so what can I do ? Tell me ! '' `` The situation is completely dif ferent since 1948 , '' he said . `` Then , it was only me and my wife . Now , 35 people live here . I sure do n't want to live in this house it 's crowded . I h ope the Palestinians who control this place will build me a new house . '' But p ractically speaking , Arafat 's new government will not be in a financial positi on to rebuild Deir Balah or the other camps for many years , if at all . WASHINGTON To say the pickings have been slim of late for builders of commercial airliners would be to exaggerate . But there may be help on the horizon because of the slowly improving condition of the airlines and because of something call ed the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 . The noise act says that every la rge commercial jet in the United States has to meet quieter `` Stage 3 '' noise requirements by Dec. 31 , 1999 , and 1,223 of the 3,335 jets in service today ar e in violation . Given a two- to three-year lead time between placing an order f or an aircraft and taking delivery , the orders for aircraft are going to have t o start coming in soon , manufacturers hope . Just as quieter planes would be a change for people living along airport flight paths , it also would be a change for those who make the planes . According to a recent survey by the magazine Air line Business , the Big Three of the commercial aircraft manufacturing world had exactly zero net orders in 1993 , with Airbus Industrie and McDonnell Douglas C orp. actually having more cancellations than orders and Boeing having only 33 pl anes on the plus side . Altogether , Boeing 's latest market forecast , released Monday , projects the worldwide market for aircraft having between 70 and 170 s eats at about 3,000 planes by the year 2000 . That combines replacement of older planes and additions to airline fleets . That 's actually down about 2 percent from last year 's forecast , according to Richard L. James , Boeing 's marketing vice president , but he says it will be more than enough to keep all three manu facturers ' lines humming , once airlines break out of the doldrums into which t hey have dropped over the past two or three years . Assuming they do , replaceme nt of noisy planes will be part of the equation . While the formulas are complex , Dale McDaniel of the Federal Aviation Administration says that , in terms of total noise impact on a community , `` you could have 10 Stage 3 operations befo re it would equal one Stage 2 . '' In 1990 , 2.7 million people were exposed to an average of 65 decibels or higher over a 24-hour period . `` That is non-compa tible with residential use . By 2000 , that will down to 400,000 , '' McDaniel s aid , although those in the path of those aircraft might not be happy no matter what the noise stage classification . The deadline `` provides some continuing s timulation . The fact that it remains a target continues to drive ( airlines ) t o modernize , '' McDaniel said , adding a dash of fiscal reality by noting that now the airlines `` just have to have the funds to do it . '' The dramatic losse s of the past three to four years have led almost every major U.S. carrier and m any foreign ones not only to stop ordering new planes but also to cut back on ex isting orders . USAir disclosed last week , for example , that it is delaying de

livery of 40 planes and forgoing options on another 70 . Yesterday , British Air ways , which still is making money , said it is placing no new orders this year and is letting options expire on 25 Boeing planes . `` Downsizing '' has been mo re of a buzzword in U.S. airline planning circles lately than growth . But small er fleets do not mean orders for new aircraft can be shelved forever , especiall y with the noise deadlines looming . Most airlines plan purchases several years in advance and last-minute orders often can be very expensive , especially if th e market begins to tighten up . Boeing 's James said airline balance sheets `` a re coming back into balance now . A lot of carriers are stirring and looking bey ond immediate quarter . We are at a low point in terms of orders . In 18 months to two years , the books should turn . '' WASHINGTON Who would have thought a high-tech security system developed to prote ct the Pentagon 's nuclear arsenal would be safeguarding a huge stockpile of blu e jeans ? Thanks to ever-cheaper microchips , a rudimentary form of artificial i ntelligence developed by GRC International Inc. of Vienna , Va. is being used by Gap Inc. to keep thieves or other intruders out of its warehouse in Edgewood , Md. , which serves Gap stores from Maine to Florida . Given the ungainly name of `` automated assessment signal processor '' by GRC , the device is what 's know n in the computing world as a neural network a system that mimics the human brai n 's ability to take in lots of information from the body 's eyes , ears , nose and skin but discard most of it and focus only on what 's important . And it can learn to distinguish between nuisance noise wind ; birds , raccoons and other s mall animals ; rustling leaves and noise that should trigger an alarm : unauthor ized entry by people . It 's taught by being presented with and told to ignore s imulations of certain sounds . It can be hooked up to a variety of sensor system s microwave , radar , fiber optic that create electronic fences around property . It interprets the information that those sensors are constantly collecting . S ince being installed four months ago to protect a warehouse 14 acres in area , ` ` It 's paid for itself many times over , '' said Gap security supervisor Jim To scano . WASHINGTON It was a gray day in Red Square when Chris Ihlenfeld dropped to one k nee and proposed to a Russian woman he 'd met four days earlier . At the cobbled foot of St. Basil 's onion spires , Anastasia Fedorchoukova smiled sweetly down at the divorced computer technician from Northern Virginia . She said yes . The y married six months later , on March 25 at the Arlington County , Va. . Courtho use. Now , amid coos and cuddles in a small apartment with a large stereo , the young couple is living a fantasy that started with a magazine ad their very own Russo-American dream . The Ihlenfelds ' union is a product of the growing mail-o rder bridal bazaar that has sprouted since Soviet Communism died . With Soviet e migration barriers dismantled , about 350 Russian women entered the United State s last year as fiancees of American men . In 1988 , only 11 women came from the Soviet Union to marry Americans . The Ihlenfelds ' marriage is the first arrange d through Berel and Natasha Spivack , an American-Russian couple from Bethesda , Md. . The Spivacks are cashing in on the lucrative business of showering Washin gton with brides from Russia with love . Last July , the Spivacks started a busi ness called Encounters International to introduce American men to Russian women . More than 50 Washington area men , many of them federal employees , have come to their office and grazed through photo albums and videotapes of about 300 Russ ian women . Two couples have married , six are engaged , and others are busily f axing letters and pictures back and forth , sifting for true and everlasting lov e . About every two weeks now , another Washington area man travels to Moscow an d becomes engaged . That heavy traffic to Russia is a new wrinkle in the Washing ton dating scene , where the oversupply of single women is legendary . Magazines and gossip columns regularly wail about the imbalance between eligible women an d men in the nation 's capital . Still , the Spivacks ' male clients are shellin g out $ 3,000 to $ 4,000 to search for romance in a cold , gray city 5,000 miles away . In several interviews , American men and Russian women involved in the p rogram struck remarkably compatible themes . The men said they are sick of caree r-obsessed American women running to the subway in business suits and tennis sho es . The women said American men were more likely than Russian men to treat them

as equal partners . `` I was tired of American women , '' said Ihlenfeld , 24 , sitting on his living room couch , stroking his 22-year-old wife 's long , blon d hair . `` All they cared about was their work . '' According to an Encounters International flier , Russian women are `` much less materialistic '' than Ameri can women , as well as `` more willing to follow their husband 's lead '' and `` more appreciative of men . '' They also have `` old-fashioned traditional famil y values that are getting harder to find '' in America , the flier says . On top of that , the brochure says , the `` dating scene in Russia is almost non-exist ent , and a woman over 22 is considered past her prime . Wars and alcoholism hav e taken their toll on eligible Russian men and created a large number of single women .. . . Many beautiful Russian women dream of having an American husband . '' There are tough requiremements for those women , who must pass entrance inter views with the Spivacks ' staff member in Moscow . Women are accepted only if th e interviewer deems them reasonably slender and attractive , if they are 17 to a bout 55 years old , have one or fewer children and speak some English . Natasha Spivack said 600 to 800 women have applied to the service , but only 300 have me t the qualifications . Men using the service range in age from 22 to 71 , but th ey are mostly in their forties , and many are divorced . There are no specific e ligibility qualifications . `` When I knew him more , I really began to love him , '' she said . The Immigration and Naturalization Service has found no particu lar problems with American-Russian marriage services , spokesman Richard Kenney said . He said women entering the country on a `` fiancee visa '' must be marrie d within 90 days , and they are granted permanent resident status after two year s . `` Home free , '' he said . Some marriages between American men and Russian women make sense , according to Harley Balzer , director of the Russian Area Stu dies Program at Georgetown University . Balzer said many Russian men do not cons ider women equal partners in marriage . `` Even men I know who write about women 's rights would n't get up from the dinner table to clear the dishes , '' he sa id . Balzer said the struggle of single women has been a common theme of the mos t successful Russian movies of the last 20 years . `` You 've got this funny sit uation where the American man is looking for an unliberated woman , and the Russ ian woman is looking for a slightly more liberated man , '' he said . Magazines , especially women 's magazines , have been hot on the Hillary Rodham Clinton story for a year and a half now , delivering not much of interest . This week 's New Yorker brings the first truly heavyweight piece on the First Lady , but before we get to that , a few tips on how to prepare for reading it . First , go to your local newsstand and look at the June issues of Working Woman and t he American Spectator , which basically represent the poles of current thinking about the First Lady . You do n't have to venture beyond the cover of either to know what lies inside . The cover of Working Woman offers the headline `` Hillar y Hangs Tough '' plus a flattering photo of the First Lady in a sensible busines s suit , poised patron saint of Uber-women everywhere . On the American Spectato r 's cover , Mrs. Clinton is drawn as a witch , malevolent and defiant as she si ts astride a jet . Inside is David Brock 's version of the White House travel-of fice scandal of last year , the latest installment in that magazine 's crusade t o show that Hillary is the antichrist of American politics . Is the First Lady g ood or evil ? Ponder deeply now , for it seems to be the question of the hour . The last several days ' photos and film footage of Jacqueline Kennedy flawlessly doing the First Lady 's job the old way have made Mrs. Clinton 's chameleonism all the more unsettling . To further unsettle yourself about her situation , nex t read Leslie Bennetts 's account of an interview with an edgy , angry Hillary i n the June issue of Vanity Fair . No big news here , but Bennetts 's sporadic re ferences to her dealings with Hillary 's handlers will tell you everything you n eed to know about the state of the First Lady 's relations with the press . One flack hovers nearby throughout the interview , demanding at one point that a ben ign exchange on Vince Foster be retroactively taken off the record . Bennetts de clines . What are we to make of this First Lady of a thousand faces , overexpose d in every medium in the land yet somehow still unknowable , willfully and perha ps wisely withholding parts of herself from inquiring minds ? Enter Connie Bruck , whose lengthy cover story in this week 's New Yorker looks to be the new yard

stick by which magazine profiles of Hillary Clinton will be measured . Titled `` Hillary the Pol , '' this exhaustively researched piece portrays her basically as the CEO of the Clinton political partnership , the shrewd operator who resurr ected his ( and their ) career after he lost the Arkansas governorship in 1980 , and who in many ways still guides it today . It 's the Hillary you may have bel ieved was there all along , behind the multiple facades : hyper-intelligent , op portunistic , relentless in pursuit of her own political agenda . Bruck traces t he First Lady 's political skills back to Arkansas . In one instance , she descr ibes how , after Bill 's gubernatorial defeat , Hillary set out to neutralize an Arkansas newspaper columnist who had been an antagonist of Bill 's . Hillary wi ned and dined the man , and he left Clinton alone for years . There are many oth er such stories , but the message is always the same : She had her idealistic vi sion for improving the world , but she also did what it took to reach short-term goals along the way , whether they were political , legislative or financial . Mrs. Clinton did n't have time to be interviewed for the piece , we learn , but the president was able to give Bruck nearly two hours . What does that tell you ? At one point Bruck raises the possibility that Hillary might even seek to succ eed Bill in his current job : `` Some friends have suggested that her goal now m ay well be to become president herself , '' Bruck writes . `` Betsey Wright ( Go vernor Bill Clinton 's chief of staff ) told me last December , `` There are a g reat many people talking very seriously about her succeeding him . Their staff w ill say , `` We have to do it this way and that way , and then we 'll be here at least twelve years . '' And it 's not just the staff . Friends , Democrats , pe ople out across the country think it is a very viable plan of action. ' ' ' Sinc e The New Yorker came out Sunday , Wright has denied saying that , but The New Y orker is standing by the story . In Bruck 's account of Clinton 's health care r eform task force , the portrait 's especially severe ; the First Lady seems so c ertain of her own correctness that she will brook no criticism . `` In the end , that sureness about her own judgment at its extreme , a sense that she alone is wise is probably Hillary 's cardinal trait , '' Bruck writes . The Jackie model of how to be the president 's wife died with her . Maybe what we see in Bruck ' s piece are the outlines of a new First Lady paradigm that , for better or worse , we 'd better start getting used to . WASHINGTON Andrew W. Mellon was exceptionally rich , and the Soviet Union broke , when , in the spring of 1930 , Mellon bought a 500-year-old painting for $ 500 ,000 right out of the Hermitage . For an additional $ 6,154,000 he soon got 20 o thers , by Raphael and Rembrandt , Titian and van Dyck , Chardin and Velazquez , but none gratified him more than the first , a panel from an altarpiece by the early Netherlandish master Jan van Eyck of Bruges . Its condition was deplorable , its companion panels lost , its scale unexceptional . Van Eyck 's `` Annuncia tion '' ( c. 1434/1436 ) is less than 15 inches wide . Still , the purchaser bel ieved , and not without good reason , that he had bought a monument of European art . For more than 50 years , that narrow , beat-up painting would be displayed in the museum Mellon gave his country , the National Gallery of Art here . Then it was taken down . This week , after two years in the lab two years of careful cleaning , high-tech examination and painstaking repair it goes on view again . The picture seems reborn , though it will never again look just as van Eyck mad e it . Still , its dull varnish is gone , its bold blues have their brightness b ack , and its many missing paint flecks there were hundreds , maybe thousands ha ve been seamlessly filled in . The picture 's conservation was primarily conduct ed by the gallery 's David Bull , a former museum director ( he used to run the Norton Simon in Pasadena , Calif. ) who has a scholar 's eye and a sure , rock-s teady hand . Look as closely as you wish at the in-painting he 's done , and try to find a flaw . Gabriel , the archangel , smiling with delight , has just appe ared to Mary to announce the Incarnation . His angelic salutation , Ave gratia p lena ( `` Hail , full of grace '' ) the letters writ in gold floats out of his m outh like a holy exhalation . The scepter that he holds is of rock crystal , not glass . Van Eyck was a magician . What one cannot quite believe is the physical ity of his sight . The capitals that crown the columns in the picture have been carved so finely with interweaving tendrils , complex Celtic strapwork , with wa

rriors and with steeds that you feel each chisel mark . Gabriel 's garments , to o , are endowed with such tactility that you somehow know the softness of their velvets , the stiff weight of their threads of gold , the slightly gritty gleami ngs of their countless sewn-on pearls . Even from an inch away , van Eyck 's sur faces do n't fall apart into streaks of paint . His manner has uncanny depth ; h is details on details go on and on and on . `` He knew fabrics like the weaver , from whose looms they have flowed , '' wrote the scholar Max J. Friedlander , ` ` buildings like an architect , the earth like a geographer , plants like a bota nist . '' `` From the sheer sensuous beauty of a genuine Jan van Eyck , '' agree d Erwin Panofsky , the Princeton iconographer , `` there emanates a strange fasc ination not unlike that which we experience when we permit ourselves to be hypno tized by precious stones or when looking into deep water . '' HOLLYWOOD There was a memorable moment in `` Beverly Hills Cop '' when Eddie Mur phy 's Axel Foley jammed a banana in a parked police car 's tailpipe . Walking o ut of `` Beverly Hills Cop III , '' you may be moved to ask , `` Anybody have a banana for this movie ? '' The existence of this film is a testament to star pow er or , to be more precise , recycling power . We 're supposed to be so grateful to once again see Eddie Murphy as Axel that we can overlook how crude and shopw orn this picture really is . It 's one of the most cynically engineered sequels ever . The kicky appeal of the `` Cop '' series at least potentially has always been the idea of a street-smart black cop from Detroit who outmaneuvers the ( mo stly ) white Beverly Hills honchos who underestimate him . It 's a neat racial j oke that provided a few chuckles in `` Beverly Hills Cop '' and virtually none i n its hyper-powered , Stallone-ish sequel . Stallone , in fact , was originally supposed to star in `` Beverly Hills Cop , '' and the series has never gotten ve ry far from his over-muscled shadow . For most of the way in `` Beverly Hills Co p III '' ( MPAA rated R ) we might as well be watching any old standard-issue ac tion hunk dodging bullets and lobbing grenades ( and , in a masterstroke , savin g children in peril ) . But Murphy gives us less than those action hunks do ; he 's playing out his own fantasy image of a righteous avenger , and the fantasy i s essentially humorless . There 's little trace of his gift for con-man mimicry . It 's as if he set out to trash his own franchise . Once again Axel , wearing his Detroit Lions jacket , is brought back to Beverly Hills from Detroit to trac k down the killers of a close associate . And once again he gets propelled into shootouts and car chases with a clan of murderous nasties , headed by John Saxon and Timothy Carhart . Their base of operations is a theme park called WonderWor ld , which how 'd you guess ? features a dinosaur ride . `` Jurassic Cop , '' an yone ? The Beverly Hills police force retains series regular Judge Reinhold , wh o now has his own office and his own SWAT team . Bronson Pinchot also turns up a gain as the oddly accented Serge . He has graduated from an art gallery to a bou tique selling personalized luxury weapons , which is a fair way of gauging how f ar the inspiration in this series has dropped . At a time when police detective shows on television are better than they ever have been , what excuse is there f or the slovenliness of `` Beverly Hills Cop III '' ? Director John Landis and sc reenwriter Steven E. de Souza ( who worked on `` 48 HRS. '' and the `` Die Hard '' films ) are strictly smash-and-grab guys . Like the other films in the series , this one has no muscle tone ; it wobbles opportunistically between wan slapst ick and routine bang bang , with lots of gratuitous cheesecake for scenery . It 's not easy to make audiences laugh at a comedy where characters are actually sh ot on camera . And , in the post-Rodney G. King era , a racially tinged film inv olving cops and violence in Los Angeles carries a lot of unwanted baggage . Take n simply as pure action , the mayhem in this movie may be routine but , in the c ontext of a knockabout comedy it 's deeply offensive . The film begins with a bu nch of workmen in a Detroit auto shop shimmying to a record by the Supremes . Th e scene is played for broad , dumb laughs ; then , in a scene that 's not played for laughs , they get bloodily ventilated . But it 's near the end , when the a ssorted good guys wobble and collapse into frame with their wounds , that the co rruption of this enterprise sinks in . There 's a fundamental lack of human feel ing in `` Beverly Hills Cop III '' that makes you want to avert your eyes from t he people around you when the lights come up . Attending this movie makes you fe

el like an accomplice to the corruption . HOLLYWOOD When the editor of Tricycle , the Buddhist Review , one of the few jou rnalists allowed on the set of `` Little Buddha , '' the new Bernardo Bertolucci film , wrote about her experience , one question continued to trouble her . Wha t was the word `` Little '' doing in the title ? None of the filmmakers , it tur ned out , could give her a satisfactory answer , but now that the picture itself is here , the reason seems obvious . Despite its illustrious pedigree , `` Litt le Buddha '' turns out to have the sensibility of a children 's film , the most elaborate and expensive `` Afterschool Special '' ever to make it to the big scr een . Being a children 's film , of course , is not necessarily a negative thing , and aspects of `` Little Buddha '' ( MPAA rating : PG ) do linger pleasantly in the memory . But what lingers as well is the suspicion that this is a childre n 's film at least partly by default , the product of too much goofy New Age rev erence and too little nuance and sophistication . Those who remember such Bertol ucci films as `` The Conformist '' and `` Last Tango in Paris '' may be surprise d at this turn in his career , but those pictures are deep in the director 's pa st . More recently we 've seen the likes of `` The Last Emperor , '' which , its many Oscars notwithstanding , is best remembered for how everything looked , no t for what anyone said . In fact , especially when , as here , Bertolucci collab orates with Vittorio Storaro , one of the world 's preeminent cinematographers , the director has a tendency to become a prisoner of his own particular gift for luscious images , to assume that the dramatic side of things will more or less take care of itself . Story , however , can be neglected only at great risk , es pecially when two parallel tales are being told . The first begins in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in modern-day Bhutan , where Lama Norbu ( Chinese actor Ying Ruocheng ) gets a telegram he 's been waiting for for nine years , a message tha t soon puts him on a jet headed for Seattle . Though all Buddhists believe in re incarnation , only Tibetan Buddhists believe that specific people , invariably g reat teachers , can be identified in their next incarnation . And Lama Norbu has reason to believe that his own teacher , admittedly a man with a hell of a sens e of humor , has been reincarnated as an 8-year-old American named Jesse Konrad ( newcomer Alex Wiesendanger ) . Not surprisingly nonplussed by this news are Je sse 's parents , Lisa ( Bridget Fonda ) and Dean ( singer Chris Isaak ) , a spri ghtly young couple who do n't quite know what to make of all these robed and sha ven monks appearing suddenly in their lives . They do n't object , however , whe n Lama Norbu gives Jesse a child 's life of the Buddha . This little book forms the basis of `` Little Buddha 's '' second narrative strand , a film-within-a-fi lm set in Asia 2,500 years ago that details how the fun-loving Prince Siddhartha transformed himself into a great spiritual being . Though it plays at times lik e an infomercial on Eastern religions , this half of `` Little Buddha '' is the most successful . For one thing , this is where Storaro 's photography and James Acheson 's production and costume design are at their best , making good use of the never-before-seen streets of Bhutan and creating opulent set pieces . And t hough eyebrows and even entire faces were raised when it was announced that Kean u Reeves was going to play Siddhartha , in fact , he does what the part calls fo r as the golden youth shielded from misery and death who takes the path to enlig htenment . Hewing closely to traditional texts , this part of `` Little Buddha ' ' comes off closest to the fable quality the filmmakers were apparently after . In the modern half , however , the lack of texture that is the film 's weakest l ink is most evident . The Mark Peploe and Rudy Wurlitzer plot , from a story by the director , seems determined to take the drama out of every situation , while the accompanying dialogue is invariably hollow and unconvincing . Being blissed out may be an enviable state for a human being , but it is not necessary the be st one for a film . Bernardo Bertolucci may not know anything more about Eastern religion than I do , but I do n't care . This is not to say his `` Little Buddha '' is inaccurate , either in its portrayal of Tibetan Buddhist thought or the life of Siddhartha ( Keanu Reeves ) , only that it does n't really matter . What matters is what hap pens on screen , and Bertolucci 's direction alone is the stuff of religious con version . The director , whose philosophical questing has taken him to China and

North Africa in recent years ( for `` The Last Emperor '' and `` The Sheltering Sky '' ) has filmed his latest in the holy lands of Nepal , Bhutan and Seattle . And in telling his based-on-real-life story about a blond 9-year-old who is su spected of being a reincarnated lama and juxtaposing it with an epic recounting of the life of Prince Siddhartha who will become the Buddha Bertolucci reverses the tired conventions about ancient religions and religious life and in the proc ess evokes a very contemporary yearning for spirituality . That he cannot sustai n the tone of serene momentum that opens the film is perhaps inevitable ; once t he seduction of the viewer is accomplished there 's a certain leveling-off of pa ssion . But the beginning of `` Little Buddha '' has moments so full of magic it 's surprising how much of it is accomplished through simple humor . The Buddhis t temple in Bhutan , where the film opens , is not the forbidding place of popul ar imagination . It is a center of learning , of warmth and of children instruct ed by Lama Norbu ( Ying Ruocheng ) , who invites questions and makes jokes . His beatific demeanor changes only after he gets a letter saying that the reincarna ted spirit of his late teacher , Lama Norje , has been located . In Seattle . `` Lama Norje had a great sense of humor , '' says Kenpo Tensin ( Sogyal Rinpoche ) , one of the jolly monks who have determined that blond , Gameboy-playing Jess e Conrad ( Alex Wiesendanger ) has been chosen by Norje for his reappearance . J esse likes the idea , likes the gentle Lama Norbu , and gives signs that he may actually be Lama Norje . But it 's no joke to his parents ( Bridget Fonda and Ch ris Isaak ) , who have made no provision in their yuppie life-plan for a Buddhis t invasion . Where `` Little Buddha '' falters , and it does , lies in the casti ng . As Jesse 's fatherInvalid face , Dean , who takes Jesse to Bhutan , Isaak h as the unformed face and personality to make him truly American , and truly flat . Likewise Reeves , whose lighter-than-air screen presence is appropriate for t he young , naive Prince Siddhartha , but who in the end does n't provide anythin g very substantial . The ancient Indian sequences are full of miracles , outland ish visuals and ornate religion , but the modern world defines the film 's spiri tual impact . Bertolucci says that godhead is n't about myth and trappings , but about yearning as defined by the faith of monks , or perhaps the unfilled need of secular Americans . `` Little Buddha , '' in its gentle way , probes that cav ity . Three stars . Invalid face Eddie Murphy has been telling interviewers , in no uncertain terms , that `` Bev erly Hills Cop III '' is not his comeback film . And he 's right . A strictly pa int-by-numbers , action-adventure yarn , with little sense of humor and even les s sense of purpose , `` Beverly Hills Cop III '' effectively nullifies Murphy 's main asset comedy in favor of making him another Sylvester Stallone . Which is not something we desperately need . At the same time , it defuses the whole dram atic premise behind the first two `` Beverly Hills Cop '' movies ( the first of which was vastly superior to the others ) , which was Axel Foley as bureaucratic victim a streetwise Detroit detective , a cop out of water , defying the uptigh t , rulebook-bound Beverly Hills police to fight the good fight . He was smarter than your average underdog . Now , he just seems rude . When Axel gets to Bever ly Hills this time around , he 's chasing a gang of cop killers who eluded him i n Detroit after an opening shootout that 's a good example of both false adverti sing the action 's never this hot again and director John Landis ' debauched way with movie violence . Bullets and blood are sprayed with equal abandon , cars a nd humans are liberally riddled , and each slug ends its trajectory target with a fat , soft thud . Much like the jokes . The Secret Service does n't want the g ang caught ; they 're up to uncovering something much bigger , apparently , than the killing of Detroit cops . Axel is unmoved , not caring who or what he demol ishes en route to getting what he wants . He 's like a cop with a multipicture d eal . The pursuit takes him to WonderWorld , a Disneyland knockoff inspired by t he Walt-like Uncle Dave ( Alan Young ) and under the de facto control of Ellis D eWald ( Timothy Carhart ) , the ruthless killer Foley is chasing . That this one deliciously perverse aspect of `` BHC III '' is not exploited for anything clos e to its subversive potential is symptomatic of the movie 's failings . Disney-f acists vs. the state . It could have been great . But `` Beverly Hills Cop III ' ' lumbers on its way to a predictable , and predictably violent , conclusion , w

ith Axel 's BH buddy Billy Rosewood ( Judge Reinhold ) consistently befuddled , Detective Flint ( Hector Elizondo ) trying to protect his post-retirement job at WonderWorld , Bronson Pinchot reprising the unpronounceable Serge , who 's now in the personal security business , and some shamelessly cheesy action sequences . Theresa Randle , as the WonderWorld worker sympathetic to Axel 's cause , is really the sole cast member worth watching . Whether `` BHC III '' signifies any thing in terms of Murphy 's career is moot ; the actor has n't had anywhere to c ome back from , not if you 're talking box office . Even when he 's turned out i ncendiary devices like `` Harlem Nights '' or `` Boomerang '' he 's made money . Artistically , of course , it 's another story . He has n't really fulfilled hi s comedic potential since .. . well , maybe the original `` Beverly Hills Cop . '' But it clearly does n't bother him . If Eddie Murphy felt he had anything to prove , he would n't have done Part III of a movie series that had already run o ut of gas , would n't have hooked up with as lame a director as Landis , and cer tainly would have read Stephen de Souza 's script ( you do n't think he actually read this script .. . ? )