December 20, 2000

Why Santa Can't Use
Compact-Only Parking Spots

By Roy Rivenburg

The Physics of Christmas: Eight reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh? Not likely. Thanks to world population growth, St. Nick now needs 339,333 reindeer to haul his Christmas payload. According to a study by American Greetings, if the average child gets two pounds of gifts this year, Santa's sleigh will leave the North Pole carrying 51,000 tons of toys. And since the average reindeer can pull just 300 pounds, the number of critters necessary to operate the sleigh tops 300,000.

Moreover, since the typical reindeer is 5 feet long, that means Santa's flight crew now stretches 848,332 feet in length (160 miles), if the deer fly two abreast. So when Rudolph touches down in Los Angeles, the back of the sleigh is still well inside Mexico.

Luxury Ferris Wheels: Old people often brag about how much tougher life was when they were growing up. ''You kids today have it so easy,'' they say before launching into a harangue about walking through the snow to change the channels on the TV (because remotes hadn't been invented yet), and punching out the chads on presidential ballots using rocks or gunfire (''because we didn't have your fancy stylus devices'').

Such boasting is a time-honored tradition. But it's about to end. Modern life is so cushy that some experts believe today's youngsters won't have any hardships to brag about by the time they become grandparents.

Even amusement park rides are getting overly comfy. According to roadsideamerica.com, Las Vegas will soon be home to the world's biggest Ferris wheel, a lavish 518-foot-tall ride in which each passenger compartment will have its own bar, lavatory and Internet access.

What's next? Bumper cars with airbags, Barcalounger seats and rear-window defoggers? Roller coasters with Jacuzzis? Or maybe parachute drops with staff psychologists aboard to counsel anyone who gets scared?

Why December is the Best Month: Mimes suffer more hernias during December than any other month, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Valley of the Dolls: Watch out, Barbie. There's some stiff competition this Christmas. Introducing ... Pilgrim action figures and do-it-yourself mummy dolls. The pilgrim family comes with a foot-high house that includes a bed, cat, fireplace and corn grinder. It's the latest adventure toy from Child Light (www.childlight.com), which also makes a North Pole expedition set, complete with plastic polar bear, two igloos and Admiral Perry action figure.

Meanwhile, Running Press is offering a miniature model mummy kit, featuring removable internal organs that you can store in tiny canopic jars and a "Curse of the Mummy'' sticker with which to seal the tomb (www.runningpress.com/bookstore/product.asp?sku=183).

Maybe It's the Chili: California and Texas lead the nation in gastrointestinal distress, based on per capita consumption of anti-diarrhea and anti-gas medications, according to a study by Imodium.

History 101: Which president brought the strangest pets to the White House? Probably John Quincy Adams, who kept several hundred silk worms on the premises.

Weird Polls: Five percent of Americans say they've received underwear as a gift from co-workers, according to a survey by Mypoints.com.

Lunatic Fringe Bureau: About 90% of the space aliens who visit Earth are merely here to sightsee, says a UFO expert interviewed by Wireless Flash News Service.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: Newswoman Cokie Roberts' full name is Mary Martha Corinne Morrison Claiborne Boggs Roberts.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: "Dracula's Last Living Relative Seeks Job in a Blood Bank!'' (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: www.internetwire.com, Trivia Time.

Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by Creators Syndicate