December 27, 2000

Putting Faith in Our
Four-Legged Friends

By Roy Rivenburg

Praying Pooches Bureau: Maybe it's no coincidence that ''dog'' spelled backward is ''god.'' How else to explain the growing number of products for spiritually enlightened canines? In Sausalito, Calif., a company called Tails by the Bay now sells canine yarmulkes, presumably for dogs who eat kosher Milk-Bones and refuse to chase their own tails on the Sabbath. It also markets mood dog collars for New Age mutts.

However, there are still no products for dogs of other faiths. No Buddha chew toys, rosary-bead collars or mosque-shaped doghouses.

Frosty the Oppressor: Snowmen perpetuate racial and gender stereotypes, according to a five-year study by a British art historian. Tricia Cusack of the University of Birmingham says the icy creations are racist because they're always white. And they promote sexism because ''the snowman's masculinity and [his] ritual location in the semi-public space of garden or field reinforces a gendered spatial-social system marking women's proper sphere as the domestic-private and men's as the commercial-public.''

However, the London Telegraph offers a simpler theory on why snowmen are traditionally located in fields: ''The snowman stands in the garden because if he stood indoors he would melt.''

Off-Kilter Dictionary: Words for the new millennium:

  • Deja voodoo: an inexplicable feeling that you've stuck pins in a doll before.
  • Deja voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir: an eerie feeling that disco is making a comeback.
  • Alarming Trends Watch: A Tokyo sumo wrestler has announced plans to become a rap singer.

    Liquidation Sale: It's our year-end clearance. All random facts must go:

  • In Indiana, it is illegal for a mustached man to ''habitually kiss human beings.''
  • Fish cough.
  • The number of Elvis impersonators has jumped from 150 in 1977 to about 35,000 this year. If the trend continues, one-third of the world's population will impersonate the King by 2019.
  • Half of all Americans say they've slept with their remote control, according to a survey by the Philips electronics company.
  • Music causes a person's skin temperature to drop.
  • A mosaic portrait of Pope John Paul II, made entirely of jelly beans, hangs at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield, Calif.
  • Some Paris youth gangs are armed with attack monkeys.
  • Before choosing the pseudonym Mark Twain, author Samuel Clemens wrote under the names Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass and W. Apaminondas Adrastus Blab.
  • An analysis of the gunk that collects in computer keyboards at a London office found pieces of corn flakes, noodles, pencil shavings, staples, fingernails, insects and hair.
  • Language Overdose Bureau: The most annoying phrases of the past year were ''Y2K bug,'' ''hanging chad,'' ''Whassup,'' ''Who let the dogs out'' and ''dot-com,'' according to a survey by Snickers. Also on the list was Regis Philbin's ubiquitous line, ''Is that your final answer?''

    Scream IV: A 22-year-old UCLA student whose scream registers 111 decibels (somewhere between a power lawn mower and a jet takeoff) was recently named America's loudest college football fan in a contest sponsored by Halls throat lozenges.

    Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ''Woman Collects Potato Chips That Look Like Celebrities!'' (Weekly World News)

    Unpaid Informants: www.sfgate.com, www.lineone.net, Mark Kellner, Wireless Flash News Service, Trivia Time, ''Uncle John's Giant 10th Anniversary Bathroom Reader,'' Chicago Sun-Times, Bizarre News, www.zdnet.com, the Oregonian.

    Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
    Distributed by Creators Syndicate