American Ingenuity Bureau: Economists keep freaking out over the U.S. trade deficit, mainly because it gives them recurring nightmares involving Alan Greenspan naked.
Fortunately, while other nations have been wasting their brainpower on computer technology, Americans have devised a series of products so remarkable that no household will be able to function without them, including the all-new Elian Gonzalez action figure. Just pull the string and the doll wags its finger and says, "Papa, I do not want to go to Cuba" or "Janet Reno is a fascist pig."
OK, not really, but the rest of these products are legit and will surely spark a boom in U.S. exports. For example:
Eggplants shaped like Al Gore and George W. Bush. A Cincinnati inventor has created $20 plastic molds that can be fitted around growing vegetables to make them resemble the faces of presidential candidates.
Compass cuff links. Navigate the corporate world with sleeve fasteners that contain fully functional compasses. Price: $150.
Portable Jacuzzi. How often has this happened to you? You're lost in a remote Siberian forest (because you forgot to wear your compass cuff links), your back is aching and there's no place to relax. Unless, of course, you're toting the amazing Voyager Portable Spa, a full-size hot tub that "can be set up almost anywhere in minutes" and features bench seating, adjustable neck jets and a turbo-charged whirlpool. All for just $2,500. And if you need a place to dress after your soak, bring along Hammacher Schlemmer's portable shower cabana and changing room, $500.
Desktop helicopter. Press a button and this scale model, battery-powered chopper lifts off and buzzes around the office. No word on whether it also monitors traffic jams involving Hot Wheels cars. $35.
Shrunken Beatle. One of Off-Kilter's biggest disappointments last year was failing to get Ringo Starr into the top 20 in Time magazine's online Person of the Century poll. As you may recall, we urged readers to cast ballots for the ex-Beatle as a way to heal the pain caused by decades of insensitive Ringo jokes. Sure, it would have meant bumping Franklin D. Roosevelt from the No. 20 slot, but everyone knows that FDR's trademark phrase, "a date which will live in infamy," pales next to Ringo's "Back off boogaloo." Nevertheless, Ringo finished in 54th place. Fortunately, a suitable tribute has now been bestowed: 9-inch-tall pewter figurines of the Fab Four drummer flashing a peace sign. The $125 statuettes also contain metal from recycled firearms, "in keeping with his stance against handguns."
Putter paper shredder. Just like a regular shredder, except the top has been designed to resemble a tiny golf course. $70.
Frameable footwear. Icon Shoes imprints the works of well-known artists onto leather shoes. Alas, the company displays a surprising lack of aesthetic sense by failing to offer footwear emblazoned with "Dogs Playing Poker."
Mark Your Calendars: April 28 is National Hairball Awareness Day.
Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Psychic Lobster Earns Gambler $4 Million! Clawed Critter Picks Dog-Race Winners With Amazing Accuracy!" (Weekly World News)
Unpaid Informants: Voyager catalog, Wireless Flash News Service, Sojourns magazine, www.hammacher.com, Phineas J. Whoopie.
Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by Creators Syndicate