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Washington portrait tells a lie

Don't believe everything you see about George Washington.

The most familiar image of the Father of His Country is the Gilbert Stuart portrait on the dollar bill. But a Washington biographer who's also a leading authority on early American art says no one has done Washington's historical image more harm than Stuart.

According to Washington Watch, a Family Research Council publication, James Thomas Flexner wrote in his Washington biography, "The Indispensable Man," that Stuart did not get along well with Washington � and the unflattering portrait was the result.

TV withdrawal: Can you do it?

Forget "Survivor" or "Big Brother" or "The 1900 House." If you want a real test of your ability to cope with extreme conditions and deprivation, take the advice of media critic Donald F. Roberts: Get rid of all but one of your TVs.

In a Parents magazine article titled "Taming the Tube," Roberts writes: "If you're serious about cutting back on your habit, try owning a single TV." In an even more Draconian move, Roberts proposes deep-sixing the sets in all bedrooms and placing the lone TV "in a communal space, where the whole family can watch together."

Firefighters ax pole

What's next, the dalmatian? The tradition of sliding down a pole to get to the fire engine � which legend has it was born in 19th-century Chicago � is being phased out in the Windy City.

"One of the most common injuries for firemen over the years is from sliding down the pole," a department spokesman said. "Going down the pole too fast and hitting the cement floor, they fracture or sprain a bone or ligament."

Entertainment news

Jimmy Smits is celebrating a new leading lady � the luscious Kim Basinger. The pair stars in the new thriller, "Bless the Child," in which Smits plays an investigator specializing in the supernatural and Basinger portrays the aunt of a girl who is abducted by the forces of evil. The film opened this weekend.

Old TV series never die, they just show up on cable. The latest is "Starsky & Hutch," the popular gumshoe series of the late '70s which starred Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul as two plainclothesmen. The show airs Mondays-Fridays at 11 a.m. and again at 5 p.m. on TNN.

Answer is blowing in the wind

Cooling your house down on hot summer days is a breeze. So says Family Circle magazine, which recommends teaming up a fan with the air conditioner.

"Not only does a fan create a breeze, a table or a floor fan placed next to an air-conditioner unit will direct cooled air to where you want it, while a ceiling fan will distribute it evenly throughout the room."

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