Aug. 15, 2001

Is It Art or Is It Eczema?

By Roy Rivenburg
The Curator is Worse Than the Disease: If Vincent van Gogh were alive today, would he still be painting irises and starry nights? Don’t be ridiculous. He’d be 148 years old and too feeble to even lift a brush.

Besides, his work isn’t hip enough for modern society. To make it now, he’d have to go totally commercial (think ‘‘Wheatfield with Crows and Hidden Waldo’’). Or he could try his hand at artistic representations of annoying diseases. For example, in February, the National Headache Foundation sponsored a contest seeking paintings that ‘‘communicate the pain and suffering associated with migraines.’’ Now, the National Eczema Association of Science & Education is promoting a contest in which young people are asked ‘‘to express, through art, how atopic dermatitis makes them feel.’’

We figure jock itch, acid reflux and hemorrhoid art contests are next.

Antibacterial Barbie: Barbie doesn’t have a lot of time for domestic chores these days, what with her burgeoning career as airline pilot, doctor, ballerina, astronaut and president of the United States. Obviously she needs help, but from whom? Ken never lifts a finger to clean the Malibu Dream House. GI Joe is in a VA hospital suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. And the new Jim Morrison doll we mentioned two weeks ago just got arrested for indecent exposure.

Fortunately, a solution is at hand. No, not a Martha Stewart doll. Procter & Gamble has introduced the next best thing: a Mr. Clean action figure. Meanwhile, we’re still hoping someone will create a Mr. Whipple action figure.

Nose Excavation Bureau: Science continues to make huge strides in understanding human behavior. And by ‘‘human behavior,’’ we mean ‘‘boogers.’’ In June, the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published a study on rhinotillexomania, which is the medical term for nose picking. In the study, researchers came to the startling conclusion that the habit is ‘‘common among adolescents.’’ Another landmark report, published by the rival Journal of Psychiatry several years ago, found that 65 percent of people use their index finger, 20 percent use their pinkie and 16 percent use (gulp) a thumb.
Still to come: a rhinotillexomania art contest.

Mark Your Calendars: Bawk! September is National Chicken Month.

Marxism Redux: Every time we think that humans have finally run out of world records to break, along comes a new category. On Aug. 17, a group of Groucho Marx lookalikes will kick up their heels in New York City to form the world’s longest Groucho chorus line. Passers-by will be recruited to join by donning greasepaint mustaches and fake nose and glasses.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: The Weekly World News has outdone itself lately. In addition to bringing Princess Di back to life (she joins Elvis, JFK and Jerry Garcia in the pantheon of the undead), the tabloid has churned out so many amazing headlines that we can’t pick just one favorite this week. So here’s a WWN sampler:

-- ‘‘Man Chokes to Death on Lover’s Edible Undies!’’
-- ‘‘Amazing Dog Sparks Religious Revival!’’
-- ‘‘Space Alien Flasher Rocks L.A.! E.T.’s Private Parts Spin Like a Mixer and Whir Like a Dentist’s Drill!’’
-- ‘‘Talking Coconut of Brazil Answers Every Question!’’
-- ‘‘Meet the Winners of This Year’s Cannibal Cook Off’’
(first place went to a recipe for honey-glazed rump roast)
-- ‘‘Talking on a Cell Phone Makes You a BETTER Driver!’’

Unpaid Informants:, New Scientist,, Mark Kellner, Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate