July 17, 2002

The Nina, the Pinta & the Shiatsu Maria

By Roy Rivenburg
The Massage is the Medium: The massage industry has lost its mind. Faced with a glut of spas, massage therapists are resorting to increasingly bizarre gimmicks to lure customers. For example, one therapist recently redecorated his office in a ‘‘1492 theme,’’ complete with period music and a masseur dressed like Christopher Columbus.

Personally, we prefer Magellan-themed massages, but others swear by Columbus. Apparently, nothing relaxes the body like a rubdown by a famous 15th-century explorer, they say.

‘‘Themed massages’’ are quite the fad right now, says Robert Noah Calvert, publisher of Massage Magazine and owner of a massage museum in Spokane, Wash. (among the artifacts in his collection: a steam-powered vibration machine and a Scooby-Doo steering wheel cover with a ‘‘massage grip’’).

Other offbeat spa trends, as noted in a recent Washington Post article, include caviar facials, cabernet body scrubs and a margarita skin treatment in which tequila, lime and salt are rubbed into your flesh. No word on whether the masseur dresses up like Jose Cuervo.

Alarming Trends Bureau: Further signs of a coming Apocalypse:

-- Dolly Parton just released a cover version of Led Zeppelin’s ‘‘Stairway to Heaven.’’
-- Animal rights kooks say eating honey promotes ‘‘the oppression of worker bees.’’
-- The son of a Houston surgeon is writing an opera about heart transplants, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
-- The makers of Meow Mix cat food have announced plans to broadcast ‘‘Meow TV,’’ the world’s first television series geared specifically for cats. A press release said the ‘‘revolutionary new show’’ is based on research that found cats enjoy watching television. Scheduled to air this fall, the show will feature birds, mice, bouncing balls and other visuals that appeal to felines.

Quote Unquote Bureau: This week’s rocket scientist award goes to President Bush, for his insightful comment at an awards ceremony for scientists and engineers: ‘‘I’m sorry the room is so small. I suspect we could have accommodated a lot more people if we had a bigger room.’’

Lawsuit of the Week: A Florida strip joint has been sued by a quadriplegic because the bar’s lap-dance room doesn’t have wheelchair access. The lawsuit says access to porn should be guaranteed by the Americans With Disabilities Act. In response, the strip bar said: ‘‘We’re sorry the lap-dance room is so small. We suspect it could accommodate a fleet of wheelchairs if it were bigger.’’

Mainstream Headline of the Week: Not every outlandish headline comes from supermarket tabloid land. The Trentonian, a New Jersey newspaper, recently slapped this beauty over a story about a non-fatal fire at a psychiatric hospital: ‘‘Roasted Nuts.’’

Mark Your Calendars: The World Rock Paper Scissors Society, a bogus outfit if ever there was one, has declared 2002 to be ‘‘the official year of the rock.’’

Dear (Blank): Celebrities compete to replace Ann Landers. Read our July 15 article in the Los Angeles Times.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Global Warming Warning: Flatulent Sheep Are Destroying the Earth!’’ (Weekly World News)

Bonus headlines, also from WWN:
-- ‘‘Amelia Earhart’s Plane Lands ... With a Skeleton at the Controls!’’
-- ‘‘Government Blows $50 Grand to Find Out How Mermaids Pee!’’
-- ‘‘Lake Erie Bores Experts to Tears!’’
-- ‘‘Jesus Saves Sinners -- And Redeems Them for Valuable Cash and Prizes!’’

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Internetwire.com, Time magazine, Chicago Sun-Times, www.poynter.org/medianews, the Oregonian's Edge column

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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