Aug. 28, 2002


All You Need to Know...

By Roy Rivenburg
Back to School: A few years ago, author Robert Fulghum made a killing by claiming, ‘‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.’’ His list of playground aphorisms included ‘‘Take a nap every afternoon,’’ ‘‘Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you’’ and ‘‘Hey, boogers taste groovy.’’ (OK, we made up that last one.)

After the book rocketed up bestseller charts, Fulghum announced he had ‘‘forgotten’’ to include a few other life lessons and would therefore have to write another book, titled ‘‘All I Really Need to Be Richer Than Bill Gates is to Crank Out a Couple of Sequels.’’ He followed that up with ‘‘Wait, I Found Something Else You Really Need to Know,’’ and ‘‘OK, This Time I’m Serious, All You Really Need to Know is in This Book.’’

Unfortunately, Fulghum’s advice is now out of date. Here at Off-Kilter, we recently uncovered several other facts you ‘‘need to know’’ in order to function as a productive member of society:

-- On Pluto, Elvis Presley would have weighed 13 pounds.
-- The farthest that a pumpkin has been hurled without the use of explosives is 3,718 feet.
-- Gen. Dwight Eisenhower’s pajamas had five stars on the lapels.
-- The combined weight of this year’s 10.3 million JCPenney Christmas catalogs is equal to 22 jumbo jets, 39 Statues of Liberty or 1.76 million Plutonian Elvises.
-- The odds of being injured by a toilet seat sometime during your life are one in 6,500.
-- Hamsters are allowed to ride free on Britain’s public transportation system.
-- Windmills turn counterclockwise.
-- Sweden maintains a list of everyone who has an artificial knee, hip or (coming soon) silicone breast.
-- Janet Jackson rented a $279 hotel room for her pet Rottweiler while her new home in Miami was being finished.

Alarming Trends Bureau: A casting call for Disney’s upcoming film ‘‘Pirates of the Caribbean’’ seeks toothless, one-eyed males ages 18 to 80 to play pirates. The ad, which appears in Back Stage West, also requests adult sailors who are ‘‘serial killer types.’’

Going Postal: In response to our recent item on a man who played solitaire underwater for 76.5 hours while breathing through a bamboo reed, Elisabeth Cline of Plantation, Fla., wrote: Was the guy using normal playing cards, which would presumably float away or disintegrate underwater? Or was he playing solitaire on a laptop computer? If the latter, was the machine plugged into an electric eel?

Philosophical Question of the Week: From the Chicago Sun-Times’ Quick Takes column, commenting on the 82nd anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, ‘‘Isn’t it time for a disenfranchisement reparations lawsuit?’’

Dr. Jekyll and G.I. Joe: Spray-on clothes, courage pills and shoes that enable people to jump over 20-foot walls? Those are just a few of the offbeat items under development at a strange Army lab in Massachusetts. Read our story in the Aug. 25 Los Angeles Times (includes photos and links to two accompanying articles).

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Celeb Nose Jobs for Your Pet! A Star’s Schnoz Could Boost Your Pooch’s Confidence, Says Doc!’’ (Weekly World News)

According to WWN, the most popular snout surgery for pets makes the animal’s sniffer look like the nose of Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen or Mike Tyson. Meanwhile, in other animal-related supermarket tabloid headlines, the Weekly World News reveals:

-- ‘‘Mysterious Crop Circles Were Made By Super-Smart Ants!’’
-- ‘‘Bored Man Teaches Pet Cockroaches to Tap Dance!’’
-- ‘‘Fire-Breathing Cat Foils Burglar!’’
-- ‘‘Chihuahua Drives Owner’s Car Into Neighbor’s House!’’

Unpaid Informants: ‘‘Uncle John’s Absolutely Absorbing Bathroom Reader,’’ Wireless Flash News Service, Reuters, The Oregonian's Edge column, New York Post.


Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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