Feb. 13, 2002

Biodegradable Barbie
and Low-Cholesterol Ken

By Roy Rivenburg
Politically Correct Toys: Mattel is resurrecting Malibu Barbie, the 1971 doll with the famous California tan. But in a bow to modern sensibilities, the new version will carry a tiny bottle of sunblock. No joke. It’s like when Mr. Potato Head had to give up his pipe.

Other classic toys are already following suit. For example, in the boardgame Monopoly, players who put up hotels on Boardwalk and Park Place can now be sued for antitrust violations by their poorer rivals. And Candy Land is being revamped into Unsweetened-Tofu-Fruit-Rollup Land. Also, Milton Bradley’s popular Operation game now features liposuction and tummy tuck procedures.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the military’s ‘‘don’t ask, don’t tell’’ policy toward gay soldiers, G.I. Joe is getting a new buddy, GQ Joe, complete with camouflage taffeta fatigues and a miniature cell phone that has Ken’s number on speed dial. The Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots are evolving into the Self-Actualized Conflict Resolver Robots. And Chatty Cathy has been renamed Verbally Expressive Cathy. Her trademark phrase, ‘‘Tell me a story,’’ has been updated to: ‘‘Tell me a story -- unless it’s ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘The Five Chinese Brothers’ or similar imperialist-fascist-racist propaganda.’’

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Mr. Off-Kilter Goes to Dating Hell in the Feb. 14 Los Angeles Times.

Weird Polls Bureau: Which would you rather read -- a poll on the preferred method of execution for Enron executives (lethal injection vs. deep-frying vs. ripped to shreds by rabid ferrets), or a survey on which celebrity body parts are the most copied by people having plastic surgery?

You guys are so predictable. The most requested celebrity body parts are Jay Leno’s chin, Godzilla’s nose and Flipper’s fins. Oops, wrong survey. Actually, the most coveted celebrity body parts include Heather Locklear’s nose, Russell Crowe’s chin, Will Smith’s body and Heather Graham’s eyes, according to a survey by two Beverly Hills plastic surgeons. The most envied epidermis belongs to Gwyneth Paltrow.

The Talented Mr. Whipple: Say what you will about Americans, but at least we have our priorities straight. For example, while some nations worry about starvation and malnutrition, we’re busy adding vitamins to toilet paper. Last year, Kimberly-Clark unveiled Cottonelle Toilet Paper with Aloe & E. And the world has never been the same. But we mustn’t become complacent. Congress needs to boost spending immediately on toilet paper research, so we can develop bathroom tissue fortified with other essential nutrients, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D and the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices.

Press Releases We Didn’t Want to Read: Anthrax mania seems to have subsided, but opening our mail is still scary. Here’s the newest batch of press releases we tried to ignore:

-- ‘‘Have You Eaten Enough Bacteria Today?’’
-- ‘‘For Many, Menstrual Pain Puts Brakes on Career, Family Life’’
-- ‘‘Tasty Wild Alaska Salmon -- Lent is a season of reflection, sacrifice and devotion ... and increased demand for fish.’’
-- ‘‘Amputee Skydivers Take to the Air.’’ Actually, we couldn’t resist reading this one, which explained how jumper No. 2 has a bionic prosthetic leg with ‘‘an embedded microprocessor and controlled hydraulic knee’’ that adjust to his movements 50 times per second so he ‘‘no longer has to think how to walk.’’

In Search of the Perfect Mattress: Roy Rivenburg goes bed-hopping for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine.

Alarming Trends Bureau: Paltalk.com has created Internet chat rooms where people can sing karaoke. One site even hosted an online ‘‘Karaoke Olympics’’ to coincide with the Winter Games.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Devil Toaster Ruined My Life!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Ann Harrison, Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire, Internetwire.com.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
Off-Kilter is syndicated to newspapers in the U.S. and overseas by
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