Good Reads: Spy Stuff, Fat Pills, Naughty Paris

Need inflation insurance? Or an $80 car? How about a guaranteed cure for your hangover?

Look no further than your own mailbox. For as advertising has caught on in recent years, the free ad supplements it has spawned have started to pile up. With their detailed classifieds, some can be a lot more interesting than the daily newspaper you pull out in the morning. At the very least, they make dipping into the mailbox a lot more fun.

Take "Biznes Tsentr" (Business Center), for example, a hearty read offering everything from New Russian estates (Nakhodka dlya Vas! -- A Find for You!) to sophisticated alarm systems (Dazhe i ne pytaites' -- "Don't even try..." to break in, that is), not to mention the inflation insurance (which is not explained).

Then there's "Ekspress-Rekla-ma," a paper I used to find in my box, which has an ad from a tourist agency that tries to entice men to buy inexpensive weekends in Paris: A zhena? Zhena ne uznayot! (And your wife? Your wife won't find out!)

What about "Sadovoye Koltso" (Garden Ring)? Along with its ads, this rag features articles naming a man and woman of the month. Last month a top pick was Mikhail Gorbachev, although he's been out of the limelight for some time.

Or how about the full-color "Reklamny Mig" (Ad Moment), which lures readers to buy Fat Burner pills: Dostich proportsii Sofii Loren? Eto ne tak slozhno (To attain the proportions of Sophia Loren? It's not so difficult).

But the best of the reklamniye izdaniya (advertising publications) is not just stuffed for free into your mailbox. Russians rush in the morning to buy "Iz Ruk v Ruki" (From Hand to Hand), where readers are offered everything from a humming Zaporozhets sedan for $80 to a temperamentny, nezhny molodoi chelovek (hot-blooded, tender young man) seeking a dama of 18 to 40 for goryachiye, strastniye vstrechi (hot, passionate meetings).

A devushka bez proshlogo (girl without a past) seeks an unmarried man of 32 to 44. A Moskvich, ofitser (Muscovite, officer) is looking for a zhenshchina detorodnogo vozrasta, dlya sozdaniya semyi (a woman of childbearing age to create a family).

At the height of voucher privatization, a privatization check in exchange for a three-room apartment was offered in an issue of Iz Ruk v Ruki. In a more recent edition, one young man tells readers that he is looking for work: Khochu zhit', a zhivyot tot u kogo den'gi. Molodoi paren' khochet ikh zarabatyvat' (I want to live, but only he who has money lives. A young man wants to earn some).

Iz Ruk v Ruki even has something for the vigilant foreigner. Shpionskaya apparatura (spy equipment), according to the classifieds, is just a phone call away.