August 30, 2000

Rat Hammocks and
Other Inventions

By Roy Rivenburg

American Ingenuity Bureau: If Thomas Edison were alive today, he'd probably be out of work--mainly because there's nothing good left to invent. Civilization already has the telephone, the computer, the laser and the Big Mouth Billy Bass singing wall plaque.

Now, we've got several other devices that future generations will wonder how we ever functioned without:

  • The electronic butt-kicking machine. Created by a Montana man, this backpack contraption delivers swift kicks to the wearer's rear using a size 9 sneaker.
  • The Jesse Ventura Air Freshener, a cardboard replica of Minnesota's wrestler governor that reportedly makes your car smell like Irish Spring soap.

  • The designer rat hammock, for the ultimate in rodent sleeping comfort. Available at, this miniature hammock comes in denim or fleece. Other rodent products include rat aromatherapy oil, which is designed to "stimulate deeper respiration and increased air exchange in rat lungs," and rat memorial urns, personalized with the deceased's name, likeness and date of death. (Thanks to reader J. Williams for bringing the "rat-alog" to our attention).
  • The boatless water-skier. Priced at just $9,999.95 (plus $550 shipping), this remote-controlled towing engine from Hammacher Schlemmer enables you to water-ski without a boat. The remote even operates a horn on the towing device.
  • The pickle putter. Approved for official PGA play, this Pickle Packers International putter looks like a normal golf club, except the part that hits the ball resembles a green pickle. Available at
  • The Porta-Pocket. When you need an extra pocket, this one snaps on to your clothing. Is that a pickle putter in your Porta-Pocket or are you just happy to see me?
  • The cordless waterproof microphone. For amplified singing in the shower and/or a duet with Big Mouth Billy Bass.

  • Alarming Trends Watch: Ms. Pac-Man, the video game icon, has been tapped to promote breast cancer research, even though she has no chest herself.

    Travel Advisory: Vacationers might want to avoid Detroit over Labor Day weekend. According to a study by Bush's Baked Beans, residents of Motown will consume an estimated 831,000 pounds of baked beans during the three-day weekend, making Detroit the gassiest city in America.

    A breaking-wind advisory has also been issued for Washington, D.C., which will devour 482,000 pounds of beans (as if the city doesn't generate enough hot air at the Capitol).

    Electronic Celebrity: A new "Q-score" survey ranking the popularity and fame of various celebrities found that IBM's chess-playing supercomputer Deep Blue was on a par with Larry King, Carmen Electra, Howard Stern and Count Chocula. A spokeswoman for IBM said the results "indicate that the Internet Age has produced the first celebrity requiring an electrical outlet.'' Well, unless you count Al Gore.

    Lunatic Fringe Bureau: A Missouri pet chiropractor says Siegfried and Roy's performing tigers are in desperate need of spinal adjustments.

    In other lunatic fringe news, the trumpet player in a ska band called Reel Big Fish has announced plans to auction his soul on eBay.

    Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: Henry Kissinger is an honorary Harlem Globetrotter.

    Historical Footnotes Bureau: On Sept. 4, 1959, WCBS radio in New York City stopped playing "Mack the Knife" because of a rash of teenage stabbings.

    Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: "Pluto and Uranus Are Missing! Space Aliens Are Stealing the Outer Planets ... and Scientists Warn That Earth May Be Next!" (Weekly World News)

    Alternate theory: the planets are being swallowed by a giant intergalactic Ms. Pac-Man.

    Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service,

    Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
    Distributed by Creators Syndicate