Oct. 2, 2002

Insert Headline Here

By Roy Rivenburg
Can You Spot the Fake Headlines?: It’s no secret that some of our readers think the best part of Off-Kilter is the supermarket tabloid headline section. Some people would just as soon we got rid of the rest of the column and printed nothing but the headlines.

We were all set to oblige them this week, but someone in the mail room apparently hijacked our Weekly World News. So we’re using the next best thing: a game called Strange But True from the Lolo company of San Diego (www.lolofun.com).

It works like this: Players listen to a series of oddball headlines and then try to guess which one was actually published (the real headlines are supplied by Wireless Flash News Service, which distributes offbeat news items to radio, TV and print media, including Off-Kilter). Test your nose for fake news with these samples from the game. Of the nine headlines below, which three were actually published? (Answers appear later in today’s column):

a) ‘‘Beaver Steals Camper’s Wooden Leg’’
b) ‘‘New Diabetes Drug Made from Gila Monster Venom’’
c) ‘‘Post Office Offers First Talking Stamp’’
d) ‘‘Auto Disappears in Bermuda Car Wash’’
e) ‘‘Castration Hurts Your Chances of Being Abducted By Aliens’’
f) ‘‘Man Goes Berserk in Supermarket; 20-Minute Rampage Blamed on Bee Gees Background Music’’
g) ‘‘Buzz Aldrin Says Moon is Great Place for Casino’’
h) ‘‘Fisherman Finds Sea Horse That Looks Like Demi Moore’’
i) ‘‘Fireflies Actually Start a Fire’’

Alarming Trends Bureau: The decline of Western civilization continues:

-- A souvenir shop at the Indiana headquarters of the Batesville Casket Co. sells coffin-shaped chocolate bars.
-- A North Dakota history professor is bringing new meaning to the term ‘‘Marxist theory.’’ He is conducting a scholarly study of Zeppo Marx. Among his findings: After Zeppo stopped performing with brothers Groucho, Chico and Harpo, he invented a metal clamp for airplanes and a wristwatch that detected heart attacks. He was also a citrus rancher.
-- In case you’re wondering what to put under the Christmas tree this winter, items on display at New York’s annual toy fair included a skateboard park for ants, World Trade Center plush toys, Mullet Head action figures and Queasy Bake Ovens (with recipes for blend-a-booger drinks), according to Buck Wolf of ABC News.

Message in a Bottle: No, you weren’t necessarily hallucinating at the bar last night. Liquor mogul Sidney Frank has introduced a rum bottle that lights up when lifted and plays a steel-drum song. The wafer-thin light illuminates pictures of two dancers as they move through a rumba. ‘‘I’ve had engineers working on this bottle for years,’’ Frank said. Will a ketchup bottle that plays ‘‘Anticipation’’ be next?

Mark Your Calendars: Leif Erikson Day, which honors the famous Norse explorer, arrives Oct. 9. But still no Leif Garrett Day, thankfully.

Headline Quiz Answers: The headlines that Wireless Flash actually published were b, e and g.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: Which of these headlines come from real Weekly World News stories?

a) ‘‘37 Percent of All Night-Shift Workers Are Vampires!’’
b) ‘‘Antichrist Changes His Evil Number From 666 to 629’’
c) ‘‘It’s Official: There Are 8,400 Superheroes Worldwide!’’
d) ‘‘Alien Brains Are the Size of Ping-Pong Balls, Say Russians!’’

Answer: They’re all real.

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Cincinnati magazine, PR Newswire.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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