Thrills, Chills, Spills Not

The theme park that gave the world Space Mountain, Star Tours and even Pirates of the Caribbean has a new thrill in store: a tractor.

That's right. Caterpillar Inc., the maker of all manner of heavy equipment, has inked an agreement with Disney for an attraction "where guests can have fun learning about agriculture."

It's one of many attractions planned at Disney's California Adventure," the new $1.4 billion, 55-acre theme park/resort set to open Feb. 8, 2001 next to Disneyland in Anaheim.

At the "Bountiful Valley Farm" area of the new park, visitors can climb aboard a Caterpillar Challenger tractor, join an interactive Farmers Expo and stroll amid crops.

Slaves to Fashion

The evidence is mounting that the Casual Friday thing has gotten out of control.

A recent survey of executives at the nation's 1,000 largest companies by Accountemps revealed that 34 percent believe workers were dressing down a bit too far on those days.

"Relaxed dress policies are a proven recruitment, retention and motivational tool for businesses, but they are not without limitations," said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps.

Similar concerns prompted Woodland Hills-based 21st Century Insurance to recently hold a fashion show for all 1,200 of its employees. It wasn't exactly a show of haute couture. Models graced the runway in khakis and other styles the company deemed appropriate for the workplace.

The show inaugurated 21st Century's new casual dress policy.

Beep, Beep

If you're in Redondo Beach and see something that looks like a cross between a Volkswagen Beetle and a golf cart, chances are you've just spotted your first Pooch-Mobile.

The latest mode of transportation for tourists is being rented out to guests at The Portofino, a hotel and yacht club next to the beach. The electric-powered vehicles have no doors and can carry four passengers on surface streets up to daring speeds of 25 mph.

"They're fun, and they get a lot of attention," said Scott Ostrander, the hotel's general manager.

They're also a bit pricey to rent $59 for two hours, or $119 a day. At prices like that, you could probably get a pretty nice rental car with a couple of doors.

Overpaid Players

It was a case of awkward timing for the annual Los Angeles Press Club journalism awards.

The event was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on June 4. But that turned out to be the time of the incredible fourth-quarter rally by the Lakers in the seventh game of the series against Portland.

So instead of mingling in the banquet room of the downtown Regal Biltmore Hotel, dozens of journalists crammed into the upstairs bar for those frantic final minutes of the game.

Later, one award presenter, comedian Paula Poundstone, found some humor in the situation.

"Somehow, I just can't get into this professional sports thing," she said. "All those players making gazillion-dollar salaries What they really should do is recruit the players just like you would for jury duty. Now that would be something to watch, forcing people to play for $5 a day."

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