March 20, 2002


Waiting for a Good Punch Line

By Roy Rivenburg
On the Ropes Bureau: Now that Tonya Harding has cleaned Paula Jones’ clock and Danny ‘‘Partridge’’ Bonaduce has pulverized Barry ‘‘Brady Bunch’’ Williams on Fox’s ‘‘Celebrity Boxing,’’ it’s time to plot future matches. Here are our nominees: Capt. Kirk vs. Mr. Spock; Marilyn Manson vs. Charles Manson; Thing from ‘‘The Addams Family’’ vs. the Hamburger Helper hand; Hannibal Lecter vs. Mike Tyson; Mr. T vs. Mr. Coffee; Monica Lewinsky vs. Linda Tripp; and the Backstreet Boys vs. five steam rollers.

Quote of the Week: From a Texas Heart Institute Journal article titled ‘‘Esophageal Perforation in a Sword Swallower,’’ about a 59-year-old man who underwent surgery for an on-the-job injury to his esophagus: ‘‘The patient recovered and has resumed his daily activities at the circus, with the exception of sword swallowing.’’

Point Blank Canvas: Reader Jim Terr forwarded a news item from the Santa Fe New Mexican in which an acupuncturist painted the winning design in the city’s official poster contest. His painting style? Pointillism, of course.

Loser of the Month: The award goes to Charles Colson, convicted Watergate felon and founder of a successful prison ministry, for his essay in the March 11 issue of Christianity Today magazine. In it, he denounces a growing ‘‘epidemic of lying’’ and blasts those who exaggerate their resumes, plagiarize and bend the truth, even when it’s for a good cause. What he doesn’t mention is that his own essays, including that one, are mostly researched and written by a stable of ghost writers.

Sign of the Times: Now in bookstores, ‘‘Homeschooling for Dummies,’’ a title that prompted the Arizona Daily Star to ask: If they’re dummies, should they be homeschooling their kids?

Mark Your Calendars: National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is April 2. A few statistics to help you get through: One in four kids prefers their PB&J sandwich without the crusts. The world’s largest PB&J sandwich was created in 1993 in Peanut, Pa., and measured nearly 40 feet long.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: Impress your date (or homeschool teacher) with your encyclopedic knowledge:

-- In northeast India, Bigfoot is called ‘‘mande burung.’’
-- People who like blue cheese salad dressing often mistakenly think of themselves as witty, according to an Association for Dressings and Sauces report on the link between personality and favorite salad condiment.
-- Eight percent of Americans said they planned to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by having sex dressed as a leprechaun, according to a survey by Lavalife.
-- The word ‘‘raven’’ evolved from the Old Norse ‘‘hrafn,’’ which meant ‘‘to clear one’s throat,’’ a possible reference to the bird’s proclivity for imitating human speech, according to ‘‘100 Birds and How They Got Their Names’’ by Diana Wells.
-- The tune most commonly sung in the shower by men is ‘‘Roxanne,’’ according to Men’s Health magazine.

Singing Piano Bureau: Yamaha is hyping a player piano that also sings via computerized vocals from Frank Sinatra, Christopher Cross, Marvin Gaye and other artists. No word on whether it can warble ‘‘Roxanne’’ in the shower.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: Do toilets have paranormal powers? Judging from recent headlines in the Weekly World News, yes:

-- ‘‘Fountain of Youth Found in NYC Subway Toilet!’’
-- ‘‘Haunted Toilet Paper Leaps Off the Roll!’’
-- ‘‘Psychic Plumber Sees the Future in Toilet Bowls!’’

Unpaid Informants: Annals of Improbable Research (www.improbable.com), Christina Malos, Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire, Reuters, Baltimore Sun.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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