Aug. 7, 2002

Posing as Einstein, Minus the Weird Hair

By Roy Rivenburg
Mind Games: Does your brain have what it takes to become a member of the International High IQ Society? One way to find out is by taking the poindexter tests at, but why risk possible embarrassment? Instead, simply memorize the following facts and use them in casual conversation. Everyone will think you’re a genius:

-- In the late 1800s, fashion-conscious women shaved off their eyebrows and glued on artificial brows made from mouse fur.
-- Spiders have transparent blood.
-- The entire population of the world could comfortably fit inside Texas. Each person would have 1,217 square feet of living space, according to the Population Research Institute.
-- As vice president, Martin Van Buren presided over the U.S. Senate wearing pistols to maintain order.
-- Hippos can run faster than humans.
-- Gerry Thomas, a former executive at frozen-dinner pioneer Swanson Foods, wears cuff links that resemble TV dinners.
-- When Sandra Day O’Connor was a law student at Stanford, she dated U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. She did not, to the best of our knowledge, wear mouse fur eyebrows.
-- Hurricanes were originally named after the patron saint on whose feast day they began. Later, storms were christened after the city where they touched down. After that, meteorologists tried naming hurricanes by their latitude and longitude. However, nicknames like ‘‘Hurricane 25 South Latitude, 110 East Longitude’’ weren’t very catchy. So, in 1953, weathermen began bestowing human names on hurricanes.
-- The official state amphibian of South Carolina is the salamander. The official state dinosaur is Strom Thurmond.
-- In golf, if a drive lands in the mouth of a lion, the player may drop the ball without penalty on the nearest spot away from the lion.
-- Actress Pat Priest, who played Marilyn Munster on ‘‘The Munsters,’’ was the daughter of U.S. Treasurer Ivy Baker Priest, whose signature appeared on currency issued from 1953 to 1961.

Oxymoron of the Month: A New Mexico company that sells aromatherapy products now carries a line of ‘‘aroma-free’’ aromatherapy items.

Quote Unquote: We smell a Pulitzer for this opening sentence in a July 23 Boston Globe article: ‘‘Nothing could be better for a prostate on a hot summer day than a nice piece of cold watermelon.’’

Alarming Trends Bureau: A Presbyterian publishing house is issuing Sunday school lesson plans based on ‘‘The Simpsons’’ and ‘‘Harry Potter.’’

In other alarming religious news, ABC-TV is planning to retell the story of Noah’s Ark from the viewpoint of the animals. It will be a musical.

Light Summer Reading Bureau: This week’s recommendation is ‘‘Humming Greatly Increases Nasal Nitric Oxide,’’ from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. No word on whether Presbyterian publishers plan to issue a Sunday school guide based on the article.

Does Mini-Me Count?: The "maximum occupancy" sign at Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen in Tucson, Ariz., says: 199 1/4.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Luxury Coffins for the Rich & Famous!’’ (Weekly World News)

The custom caskets include such conveniences as mini-bars, air-conditioning, cell phones, CD players and satellite TV. Says one client, ‘‘Dead or not, I still want to have an awesome sound system.’’

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, ‘‘The Ladies’ Room Reader Revisited’’ by Alicia Alvarez, ‘‘Uncle John’s Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader,’’ The Oregonian's Edge column,, NBC’s ‘‘Dateline,’’ San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Beth Nommensen, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, New York Daily News, Arizona Daily Star.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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