Nov. 6, 2002

The Invisible Dog

By Roy Rivenburg
Budget Burglar Deterrent: One of the weirdest products coming down the pike this Christmas season is Watchdogdoo, a new home security device. Well, ‘‘device’’ might not be the best word. It’s actually a ‘‘Beware of Dog’’ sign that comes with five piles of realistic dog poop designed by a Hollywood special effects artist. ‘‘It’s perfect for people who don’t own a dog and can’t afford an expensive burglar alarm system,’’ says a press release. The theory is that would-be thieves will see the sign, notice the lifelike piles in the yard and assume a watchdog is in the house.

We envision other uses. For example, instead of wasting your money on a car alarm, simply set a couple of piles on your dashboard. Watchdogdoo is also ideal for bad blind dates. With a strategically placed hunk of canine poop on your person, you can subtly let unwanted suitors know you’re ‘‘not available.’’

Incidentally, the product’s website,, is run by a guy who makes fake redneck teeth. Things could get really strange if the products get mixed up during shipping.

Luxury Loos: Porta-potties have gone upscale. At a recent convention of the Portable Sanitation Association International, vendors showed off models with hardwood floors, air-conditioning, stereo systems, Oriental rugs, framed artwork and water that smelled like bubble gum, mulberry or peppermint.

Alarming Trends Bureau: More proof of world insanity:

-- The town of Biggs, Calif., is considering a plan to change its name to Got Milk?, Calif.
-- A ballet version of ‘‘Dracula’’ was performed last month by a Southern California dance troupe.
-- An Ohio company has introduced a talking bird mirror that plays personalized messages when triggered by a motion sensor. ‘‘Mirror mirror in the cage, who’s the fairest parrot of this age?’’

Loser of the Millennium: Author Neal Donald Walsch, who claims in ‘‘Conversations With God’’ that there is no hell and ‘‘Hitler didn’t hurt anyone’’ because he sent Holocaust victims to heaven ahead of schedule.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: More clutter for your brain:

-- In 1964, Smokey Bear was getting so many letters that the U.S. Postal Service gave him his own ZIP Code, 20252.
-- The average driver will swear 32,025 times during a lifetime, according to a survey by BBC Top Gear.
-- Forty-five bank robbers a year are arrested because they write holdup notes on the back of their own deposit slips, according to ‘‘The Stupid Crook Book’’ by Leland Gregory.

Back to the Future: What will happen when the new Republican-controlled Congress convenes in January? To find out, our time-traveling journalist boarded Caltech’s experimental time machine and filed this report:

‘‘After spending years tied up by filibusters and committees, the controversial Murphy’s Law was passed by both houses of Congress. The bill requires that anything than can go wrong, MUST go wrong. President Bush tried to veto the legislation, but inadvertently signed it instead.’’

Leave of Absence: When Off-Kilter started nearly five years ago, people assumed our time-traveling journalist confined his visits to the future. In reality, he spent most of his time traveling to the past, betting on horse races and buying stock in Microsoft. As a result, we are now rich enough to retire from writing this column. OK, not really, but this is our last Off-Kilter, at least for now. Although our Website will stay open so you can browse our archives or follow links to our articles in the Los Angeles Times, we’ve decided to take a sabbatical.

So, thank you to all our readers. Hearing from you was the best part of doing this column. Thanks also to Rick Newcombe, Kathy Kei and Margo Sugrue at Creators Syndicate; Wireless Flash News Service; Susanna Timmons for designing our Website; Ann Harrison for her countless ideas; and all the newspapers that inflicted Off-Kilter upon their readers, especially the York (Pa.) Dispatch, Florida Today, Stars and Stripes, the Vancouver (Wash.) Columbian, the Muskegon (Mich.) Chronicle, the Oregonian, the Northwest Herald and the Lancaster (Pa.) Sunday News.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Sniper Was Driven By Hatred of Oprah!’’ (Globe)

Bonus headline, from the Weekly World News: ‘‘Mermaid Gets Human Leg Transplant So She Can Follow Her Dream of Becoming a Rockette!’’

Unpaid Informants: Sacramento Bee, Boston Globe, Wireless Flash News Service, David Allen, Newsweek, Washington Post.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate