August16, 2000

I Know Why the
Caged Bird E-Mails

By Roy Rivenburg

Polly Wanna Hacker?: Japan must have bad karma. Whenever the human race gets attacked, the island nation is usually the first victim. Godzilla, Rodan and Monster Zero all began their reigns of terror there. More recently, a horde of butt-biting monkeys invaded the city of Ito and chomped on citizens' backsides.

Now a new threat has arisen. According to a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times, Tokyo is under siege by thousands of giant crows. The 2-foot-long "feathered terrorists" are brazenly pecking residents, swiping food and even starting forest fires. Eyewitnesses say several pyromaniac birds have dropped flaming objects onto dry brush and ignited blazes. "The crows do not have any morals," one expert said.

So you would think the United States would take heed, right? Wrong. Instead of sensibly handing out bumper stickers that warn, "If guns are outlawed, only crows will have guns," we're teaching their relatives to use computers.

According to the Associated Press, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are training a gray parrot named Arthur to surf the Internet. They claim tropical birds get bored in captivity, and this will pave the way for parrot chat rooms (sample topic: Crackers -- who wants one?) and other harmless activities.

Harmless? Is it wise to allow parrots, a bird whose ancestors hung out with pirates, unfettered access to sensitive government and industry websites? And what if they establish e-mail contact with Japan's evil crows? It'll be Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" meets "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

Star Date 2000: Has anyone else noticed that Bill Clinton and Al Gore bear a strange similarity to Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock of "Star Trek"? Clinton and Kirk are both brash commanders with a reputation for romantic flings involving alien life forms (Monica, Gennifer, Hillary). And Gore and Spock are their overly logical, robotic second-in-commands with weirdly thin eyebrows and a reputation for mating only once every seven years.

Next week: Are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney modeled after Gilligan and the Skipper?

Quote of the Week: From Slate.com, eavesdropping on an anti-nuke protester outside the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles: Uranium mining "steals the being of the uranium, its living being, and turns it into a form of power called electricity."

By the way, Off-Kilter apologizes for not covering the Democratic shindig, but we got swept up by the drama of last week's American Mathematical Society Convention at UCLA, especially the seminar on "Affine Kac-Moody Superalgebras: Involutive Automorphisms and Iwasawa Decompositions."

Princess and the Pea Bureau: Jennifer Lopez has issued a statement denying reports that she brings her own sheets to hotels because she can't tolerate sleeping on anything with a thread count below 250. Fortunately, we at Off-Kilter would never print such vicious rumors.

Lopez also told E! Online that the New York Post and London Sun erred in claiming she insured her ample derriere for $1 billion. That does sound pretty farfetched. Well, unless she plans to tour Ito, Japan, home of the buttock-chomping apes.

Alarming Trends: It's a small world after all, which might explain why Nabisco is introducing miniature Oreos that weigh just a fraction of an ounce and measure one inch in diameter.

Off-Kilter Calendar: Aug. 15 marked the birthday of "Mannix" star Mike Connors (whose real name is Krekor Ohanian) and Crisco vegetable shortening.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: "Whale Sounds Played Backward Praise the Devil! Forget the Beatles and Led Zeppelin -- Mother Nature Has Backward Masking Too!" (Weekly World News)

The reverse messages included "Devil man good," "Lucifer is my Lord" and "Invade Japan first."

Unpaid Informants: Arizona Daily Star, Wireless Flash News Service, Ann Harrison, Susanna Timmons, PR Newswire.

Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by Creators Syndicate