November 29, 2000

Ahh, the Season of
Giving...and Recounting

By Roy Rivenburg

Sign of the Times: Spotted in San Francisco: a panhandler with a placard that said, "Will recount votes for food.''

H.O., H.O., H.O.: The Lionel electric train company celebrates its 100th anniversary with a $450 New York Central Freight train set that features puffing smoke, a glowing red firebox and the digitized sounds of a real locomotive (including squealing brakes, steam whistle and crew member voices).

It's tempting, but we're holding out for a scale model Amtrak train set, which would feature realistic delays of up to three hours to go around the tiny track, plus the digitized voices of passengers getting sloshed in the bar car, and a special "flaming derail'' function in which the train hurtles off the track and the only surviving passenger is a miniature Bruce Willis figurine.

Christmas Gift Guru: If you're looking for an inexpensive stocking stuffer, allow us to recommend the $91,000 Aquatic Pod Suite, the world's only floating UFO-shaped home that offers a panoramic view above and below the water surface. The 150-sqare-foot pod features a king-size bed, central air conditioning, a mini-bar, stereo, desalination unit, shower and toilet. It can be permanently anchored at your favorite waterfront getaway.

And if you need it gift-wrapped, allow us to recommend Ellen Timberlake of Texas, who recently won the title of "America's Most Gifted Wrapper'' for successfully wrapping an oversized golf club, a red wagon and a set of drums in a competition sponsored by Scotch Brand tape.

Bizarre Rumors Bureau: The not necessarily reliable London Sun reports that Jennifer Lopez refuses to drink coffee that has been stirred clockwise. And who could blame her?

North Pole Biography Bureau: You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Or do you? A new book called "Meet Santa's Reindeer'' describes Vixen as "the most beautiful reindeer you ever saw. She's also an attorney at law.''

Consumer Hotline Question of the Month: The Land O'Lakes Holiday Bake Line reportedly fielded a call from a man who asked where he could find 80 pounds of butter to sculpt a replica of the Titanic.

Great Moments in Literature: From the publisher's description of R.E. Dinlocker's new mystery novel, "The Missionary Position'' (forwarded to us by reader Roberta Weil): "Now Angie's being chased through a cannibal-infested swamp by Vatican mercenaries who want to kill her -- and the only guy who can help her out has been dead for half a dozen years.''

Papal Chicago Bull: To mark their 75th anniversary, the Harlem Globetrotters have announced plans to make Pope John Paul II an honorary Globetrotter on Jan. 5.

Weird Polls Bureau: Four percent of Americans think Thanksgiving commemorates "the defeat of the Canadians,'' according to a survey by Resolution Research & Marketing.

Random Statistics Roundup: Number of World Wide Web matches found for the word "heaven'' on Altavista.com: 2,129,612. Number of matches for "hell'': 2,255,839. Number of matches for "Wisconsin'': 3,178,261.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: "President Bill Clinton Begs Charlie Manson: Bring Peace to the Middle East!'' (Weekly World News)

Bonus headline, also from WWN: "Help! I've Got a Bomb in My Nose!''

Unpaid Informants: Leah Garchik at sfgate.com, PR Newswire, the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, Baird Jones, Wireless Flash News Service, U.S. Catholic.

Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by Creators Syndicate