Aug. 8, 2001

Excedrin Headache No. 226

By Roy Rivenburg
Sleepy Hollow Bureau: How come advice columnists waste so much space on "relationship problems" and etiquette instead of the day-to-day struggles faced by average Americans?

For example, here’s a question you’ll never see Dear Abby tackle, even though she probably gets asked all the time: ‘‘If I am sentenced to die by guillotine, will my head remain conscious after being chopped off? And, if so, what’s the most productive way to spend my final moments?’’

The answer to the first part is that severed heads stay alert up to 30 seconds after a beheading, according to New Scientist magazine. This conclusion is based on several studies. In France, before guillotines were banned, people on death row were sometimes asked to blink their eyes after decapitation. Some reportedly did for brief periods.

In one case, a Dr. Beaurieux experimented with the head of a murderer who was downsized in 1905. Shortly after the beheading, the doctor shouted the killer’s name, at which time the head opened its eyes and stared at Beaurieux. Several seconds later, the eyes closed and the doctor again called the man’s name. In response, ‘‘the eyelids lifted and [the man’s] undeniably living eyes fixed themselves on mine,’’ Beaurieux wrote. Then the eyes shut and there was no further reaction. The entire episode lasted 25 to 30 seconds.

As for the best way to spend your final 30 seconds, experts recommend several options:
-- Pray.
-- Stick your tongue out at your executioner.
-- Take a 15-second nap. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the world.

White Chocolate Bureau: More proof that 1960s rock bands took too many drugs: Members of the Vanilla Fudge are reuniting to cover songs by the Backstreet Boys and ’N Sync.

Alarming Trends Bureau: Pelican Press has published ‘‘Trucker’s Night Before Christmas,’’ in which Santa dodges ‘‘smokies’’ and snowflakes while delivering radar detectors, goose-feather vests and coupons for chicken-fried steaks. Also available is ‘‘Cajun Night Before Christmas,’’ featuring St. Nick and eight flying alligators.

In other Christmas news, Harrods Department Store in London now offers lesbian Nativity sets, with Joseph appearing as a woman. No word on whether the Three Wise Men include David Crosby.

Off-Kilter Almanac: Australia is 4 percent less weird than last year, according to the Australian Centre for Mystery Investigations.

Assault With a Deadly Sandwich?: A 36-year-old California woman has been arrested for allegedly bashing another woman over the head with a peanut butter sandwich. Sadly, this isn’t the first case of food violence. In 1999, San Diego endured two incidents of assault with a deadly tuna. And in 1998, a Northern California teen was convicted of assault with a deadly fruit after he accidentally beaned a teacher with a half-eaten apple. An appeals court later overturned the verdict, saying that apples don’t qualify as deadly weapons, although watermelons might.

Celebrity Birthday Bureau: Crisco vegetable shortening turns 90 on Aug. 15. Davy Crockett will be 215 on Aug. 17.

Benji Deja Vu: A nationwide talent search for the next Benji begins this weekend. According to Wireless Flash News, the new dog will star in a sequel to the 1970s-era film. But it’s not enough for the pooch to resemble the original Benji. The dog must also have ‘‘an arrogant, aloof attitude.’’

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Drinking and Circumcision Don’t Mix!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: The Oregonian's Edge column, Chicago Sun-Times, Associated Press.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate