April 24, 2002

Invasion of the Killer Teapot Lids

By Roy Rivenburg
Pushing the Panic Button: We are thinking about building a panic room in our house, but not for protection against intruders. We’re more worried about vicious teapot lids and placemats. According to an ABC News report forwarded by reader J. Williams, Britain recently issued a sobering study on dangerous household items.

For example, teapot lids injured 36 people in England last year and placemats wounded 165. In addition, toilet paper holders attacked 330 humans, whereas meat cleavers hurt only 329. In other words, if you can’t afford a panic room like the one in Jodie Foster’s new movie, be advised that it might be safer to wipe your backside with a meat cleaver than with toilet paper.

Also, in the unlikely event that you’re not afraid of placemats and other implements of destruction, here are several more reasons to flee to the nearest panic room:

-- A company called Stupid.com is selling Sigmund Freud action figures, Mr. Potato Head body massagers and a stuffed hamster that sings ‘‘Kung Fu Fighting.’’
-- Americans now spend $400 million a year on ‘‘designer dirt’’ for their gardens.
-- Playboy wants to publish a ‘‘Women of Enron’’ photo spread.
-- Hasbro is set to unleash more than 70 toys based on the new ‘‘Star Wars’’ movie, including an R2-D2 that chirps, sings and serves soda with its retractable right arm.
-- A Japanese newspaper reports that hugging a robotic toy seal can alter the chemical compounds in senior citizen urine.

Literary Faux Pas of the Month: Celestial Arts of Berkeley, Calif., recently published ‘‘The Little Book of Joy’’ by Dominique Glocheux, a small volume of maxims designed to help people ‘‘achieve everyday fulfillment and happiness by embracing life’s simple pleasures.’’ Among the tips:

-- ‘‘Enjoy a Popsicle on the beach in the summertime.’’
-- ‘‘Carry pictures of all your loved ones in your wallet.’’
-- ‘‘The next time you fly, ask to visit the cockpit.’’
Naturally, we highly recommend that last one, especially if you’re carrying a placemat or toilet paper holder. Also, if the stewardess seems uncooperative, you can usually melt her resistance by uttering a quick prayer, such as ‘‘Allah is great.’’

Weird Polls Bureau: Half of all laptop computer owners have operated their machines while wearing nothing but underwear, according to a survey by Intel. The survey also uncovered a farmer who claims to use his laptop while milking cows and a woman who perches her laptop on her dog’s back.

The Next Arms Race: Humans love one-upmanship. During the Cold War, if the Soviet Union had enough nuclear missiles to destroy the planet 50 times, we’d build enough to destroy it 80 times. Likewise, if a fisherman brags about catching a 75-pound bass, his rival will talk about reeling in a 150-pound bass, thus setting off a chain reaction of tales that inevitably ends with the first person mentioning the time he caught Shamu and the second person buying an A-bomb from a former Soviet republic and bombing the first’s house.

The latest one-upmanship game is in Texas. In order to avoid police radar, some truckers use radar detectors. But now, state troopers have radar detector detectors. Where will the madness stop? With radar detector detector detector detectors?

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘The World is Running Out of Words!’’ (Weekly World News)

We think this story is absolute ... um, well, you know, um ...

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Washington Post, Mainichi Daily News, Reuters, Associated Press.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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