April 4, 2001



In Search of
Some Really Good Grass

By Roy Rivenburg

Mow Better Blues: People sometimes assume this column is purely frivolous, but we also like to explore weighty philosophical questions, such as ‘‘Why does God allow suffering?,’’ ‘‘What is the meaning of life?’’ and ‘‘If you could mow any lawn in the world, which would it be?’’

We figured most men would pick the Playboy Mansion lawn. Instead, they chose the White House, according to a survey by Murray Inc. Other yards on the most-mowable list included the golf course at Pebble Beach, the Rose Bowl, Graceland and the Houston Astrodome. OK, actually, the Astrodome is our choice, because we’re lazy.

A companion survey asked women which celebrity they’d like to have cut their grass. The winner was Tom Cruise, followed by Mel Gibson and, further down the list, Denzel Washington, Bill Clinton and Rush Limbaugh (who edged out Ricky Martin). It was unclear whether the women chose Limbaugh because they admire him or because they wanted to see him do manual labor.

Press Releases We Ignored: Some journalists get free concert tickets and travel junkets in the mail. Off-Kilter gets death threats and press releases like these:

-- ‘‘More Than 600 Studies on Soy Conducted in Year: ‘One Heck of a Product,’ Says Top Nutritionist.’’
-- ‘‘Trout Season in the Catskills Opens April 1 With Special Guest Sally Jessy Raphael.’’ On the next episode of Sally Jessy: ‘‘Big Mouth Billy Bass Has 12 Wives!’’
-- ‘‘Kellogg Puts Keebler Integration on Fast Track.’’ It’s about time they hired more elves of color.
-- ‘‘Honey Bees Contribute Over $14 Billion to the Value of U.S. Crop Production.’’ OK, but will the bees benefit from George W. Bush’s tax-cut plan? Nooooo. Bush totally ignored them, despite their vital economic role.
-- ‘‘Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Breaking the Secrecy Barrier.’’ Uh, this is one secrecy barrier we’d like to preserve, thank you.

Mark Your Calendars: April 26 is National Pretzel Day. According to legend, the pretzel originated in 610, when an Italian monk baked some bread dough in the shape of human intestines tied in knots by irritable bowel syndrome. Whoops, wrong press release. The shape was actually a child praying with his arms folded across the chest.

April also marks the 124th anniversary of the first human getting shot from a circus cannon.

Alarming Trends Bureau: In keeping with the adage that bad news comes in threes:

-- Kmart is reviving its famous ‘‘BlueLight Specials’’ after a 10-year hiatus. The original BlueLight debuted in 1965 at an Indiana store, and used a red police light attached to a 12-volt car battery. When customers complained that the color red was linked to ‘‘evil things,’’ it was replaced with an amber light and, finally, a blue one.
-- A Florida man who builds replicas of KITT, the talking car on ‘‘Knight Rider,’’ claims there are about 400 KITT clones worldwide.
-- A Los Angeles artist known as the ‘‘Cezanne of ‘Survivor 2’’’ is selling paintings inspired by stars of the CBS survival game, including a series depicting castaway Mike slaying and eating a pig.

Supermarket Tabloid Story of the Week: Our time-traveling journalist is on vacation in the Catskills this week, using Caltech’s new experimental time machine to relive over and over the excitement of Sally Jessy Raphael’s April 1 visit.

In his absence, we’re peering into the future by reading the Weekly World News, home of ‘‘Nostradamus of the Sea,’’ a psychic talking dolphin. Here are two of WWN’s forecasts: In 2003, space aliens will take up residence on Earth and stage a Million Alien March on Washington to demand equal rights with humans.

In 2005, Hillary Clinton and a ‘‘lady friend’’ will become the first gay couple to occupy the White House. Their top legislative priority will be an effort to ban urinals in all public buildings.

Unpaid Informants: PR Newswire, Wireless Flash News Service.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate