June 12, 2002


16 Candles, Give or Take a Few Billion

By Roy Rivenburg
E=MC Hammer: Scientists like to think they can explain the workings of the universe, but many things remain a mystery. For example, physicists still aren’t sure whether light is a wave, a particle or a low-calorie beer made by Budweiser.

And astronomers can’t seem to agree on the age of the universe. Some say 9 billion years, others say 11 billion years, and some -- based on a controversial birth certificate discovered in an attic in France -- insist the universe is 82 years old and lives in an apartment outside Paris with a wife and two arthritic cats.

The most recent scientific analysis estimates the universe’s age at 14 billion years, although astronomers admit that with botox injections, the universe doesn’t look a day over 13.5 billion. If the study is correct, it means the universe will be needing an extremely large birthday cake this year. Assuming 1 square inch per candle, the cake will have to cover 3.5 square miles. And it will take a tornado to blow out all the candles.

In other science news, the Los Angeles Times recently published a story headlined: ‘‘Dinosaurs Possibly Split Into Cliques to Survive.’’ This is the first evidence that ‘‘jock dinosaurs’’ may have tormented weaker species by giving them wedgies and stealing their lunch money.

Impostor Pet Bureau: June 21 is Take Your Dog to Work Day. But before you do, please make sure your dog really is your dog. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. In the 1983 horror flick ‘‘Cujo,’’ which was adapted from Stephen King’s novel about a killer Saint Bernard, the title character’s stunt double was actually a Labrador dressed in a Saint Bernard costume. Likewise, in the movie ‘‘Continental Divide,’’ a golden eagle wearing a bald wig portrayed an endangered bald eagle. And in the film ‘‘Deadly Eyes,’’ the woman who created the Cujo costume dressed 40 dachshunds as giant rats.

Alarming Trends Bureau: In addition to a disturbing rise in the number of press releases we’re getting about ‘‘eyelid dandruff’’ and ‘‘irritable bowel syndrome’’ (‘‘Survey Taken for 33rd Annual Digestive Disease Week Shows Americans Unaware of Widespread Presence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in U.S.’’), here are several other sure signs of impending apocalypse:

-- McDonalds is testing a Spam-based dish in Hawaii.
-- Following in the hoofprints of Chicago’s widely imitated cow art project, in which wackily decorated fiberglass cows were displayed around town, Kansas City, Mo., has announced an invasion of teddy bears. In July, about 150 giant teddy bears will be displayed in the city. ‘‘You can name almost any animal -- turtles, pigs, fish, horses, lizards -- and it’s been done somewhere,’’ an organizer told the Kansas City Star. ‘‘But nowhere in our research did we find anyone that’s done teddy bears.’’ Hmm. Wonder why?
-- A Chicago woman has recorded a CD of toilet-training tunes called ‘‘I Gotta Go!’’ In related news, Kimberly-Clark has created a national Potty Training Council.

Editor’s Note: In a bizarre bow to political correctness, some newspapers have renamed this column ‘‘Kilter-Challenged’’ or ‘‘Differently Kiltered.’’ We are outraged by the change and urge affected readers to let us know about other unauthorized language.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Baby Born With Antlers!’’ (Weekly World News)
The father of the child told WWN, ‘‘I’ll have to be careful when Rudolph gets older and I take him out hunting, that no one shoots at him by mistake.’’

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Internetwire.com, Globe and Mail.

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