July 18, 2001

It's the End of the World
As We Know It

By Roy Rivenburg
Grand Finales Bureau: People have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of time. Usually they’re wrong, but occasionally someone hits a bull’s-eye. For example, the Jehovah’s Witnesses correctly predicted that Armageddon would commence in 1914, 1925 and 1975.

Most historians now agree that Gerald Ford lost the 1976 presidential election not because he pardoned Richard Nixon for Watergate, but because voters were upset about his failure to prevent the world from ending in 1975. Fortunately, everything was quickly rebuilt. But prophecies of doom have remained popular. Today, thanks to author Tim LaHaye’s bestselling ‘‘Left Behind’’ novels, people are once again wondering about the end times.

Here at Off-Kilter, the question we most often get asked (aside from ‘‘Why are you in the women’s restroom again, pervert?’’) is, ‘‘When will the world go belly-up?’’ We are sorry to report that the answer is ‘‘any day now.’’ According to biblical prophecy, a series of disturbing signs will occur shortly before Armageddon. And we’re pretty sure the following news items meet the criteria:

-- A New York couple is scheduled to marry aboard the sunken ruins of the Titanic. According to Reuters news service, the pair will exchange vows in a mini-submarine that dives 2.5 miles beneath the Atlantic and comes to a rest atop the bow where actor Leonardo DiCaprio would have uttered his ‘‘king of the world’’ speech in the movie version of the disaster. No word on where the honeymoon will be, but we predict Love Canal, Chernobyl, the Texas School Book Depository or My Lai.
-- A dog in the town of Darwin, Australia, has been accused of arson because it dragged a flaming log from a campfire to the veranda of its master’s house. Did we mention that this happened in a town called Darwin? As in survival of the fittest. Wake up and smell the puppy chow, people. Animals are taking over the planet. It doesn’t help that Hammacher Schlemmer’s new catalog offers a ‘‘dog doorbell.’’ Now, canine Jehovah’s Witnesses can go door-to-door recruiting other mutts for their animal Armageddon. In related news, the TV show ‘‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’’ recently featured a scuba-diving dog. No doubt, the canine Lloyd Bridges is plotting to sabotage the Titanic wedding.
-- Finally, in the surest sign of impending apocalypse, Cambridge University has announced it will base part of its English final exam on lyrics by the Bee Gees.

Quote of the Week: ‘‘Americans want to have fun and sip tropical coolers in the hot sun, but they also want to speak to their relatives in the afterlife’’ -- from a press release for a ‘‘psychic’’ Caribbean cruise in which mediums hold seances to help passengers contact the dead.

Lunatic Fringe Bureau: An ‘‘animal communicator’’ from Colorado claims that inaudible noises made by elephants and whales are keeping the planet’s gravitational pull intact. Oh, come on! Everyone knows that gravity has nothing to do with elephant and whale sounds. As Newton and Einstein proved, gravity is caused by telepathic commands from beavers and marmots.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: The brain of a lobster is in its throat; and its kidneys are in its head, all of which makes it difficult to use the restroom.

Immigration Blues: A look at President Bush's plan to deal with a hot-button issue, excerpted from Roy Rivenburg's July 18 Los Angeles Times article:

The White House is having trouble making up its mind about immigration. Last week at Ellis Island, President Bush called for treating immigrants with ‘‘openness and courtesy.’’ This week, he admitted he was referring only to ‘‘Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Kissinger and that Fabio guy.’’

Although he backed away from a proposed amnesty plan, he said he would consider a compromise designed to ‘‘make immigrants feel more welcome’’:

-- Lighten the Border Patrol’s image with a new name--the Border Fun Patrol--and new uniforms consisting of festive Hawaiian shirts and lederhosen.
-- Speed up the citizenship application process by replacing the antiquated U.S. history exam -- which most Americans can’t even pass -- with a more accurate gauge of whether the person will fit in. New questions include: Which character on ‘‘Friends’’ is pregnant (Rachel, Monica or Ross)? Who is the father (Joey, David Crosby or Gary Condit)? How many herbs and spices are in the colonel’s secret recipe?
-- Eliminate the harsh, foreboding network of barricades and fences at the U.S.-Mexico border, and replace it with more subtle deterrents, such as signs with 9-foot-high markers that say: ‘‘You must be this tall to enter the United States.’’
-- Erect a series of mazes along the U.S.-Canada border that lead potential immigrants right back into Canada.
-- Replace such pejorative phrases as ‘‘illegal alien’’ and ‘‘undocumented worker’’ with more upbeat terms like ‘‘citizenship-challenged’’ and ‘‘permanent tourist.’’
-- Improve conditions at INS detention centers. For example, at the San Onofre border checkpoint, stop using the reactor core of San Onofre’s nuclear power plant as a holding cell.
-- Show more tolerance for illegal space aliens. Instead of depicting them as malevolent beings bent on destroying Earth, focus on their contributions to the economy, including their willingness to perform menial jobs like busboy, carwash attendant and U.S. senator.
-- Soften the rhetoric of anti-immigrant bumper stickers. For example, ‘‘Welcome to America. Now go home’’ would become ‘‘Welcome to America. Now go home PLEASE.’’
-- Turn Ellis Island into an amusement park featuring such attractions as Tyrants of the Caribbean (in which visitors ride inner tubes and wooden planks to flee an animatronic Fidel Castro), Mr. Toad’s Wild Border Chase and the Elian Gonzalez Huddled Masses Lounge.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Hitler Planned to Have the Three Stooges Shot!’’ (Weekly World News)

Even a nutcase like der Fuhrer apparently had a moment of clarity.

Unpaid Informants: Internetwire.com.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate