July 24, 2002

The Sounds of Silence: Ka-ching!

By Roy Rivenburg
Lawsuit of the Year: The estate of avant-garde composer John Cage, who died 10 years ago, is suing musician Mike Batt for copyright infringement, claiming that the minute-long track of silence on Batt’s new CD sounds suspiciously like a four-minute block of silence in one of Cage’s works. However, Batt defends his right to remain silent. He told the London Independent: ‘‘My silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence.’’

Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Clove: In other dead-musician-estate news, the heirs of Elvis Presley have authorized a line of spices named after the King. Food industry veteran Cindy Hazen created the Elvis Style Seasonings in the kitchen of Presley’s 1956 house, which she now owns. The flavors include a blend of paprika and allspice called Jailhouse Rock, a Cajun concoction dubbed King Creole and a mixture of Percodan and peanut butter called Fat Elvis.

OK, we lied about the last one. The real third spice is a combo of oregano and celery seed known as G.I. Blues. According to Elvisstyleseasonings.com, the Presley powders are ‘‘delicious on everything but leather, and maybe strawberry shortcake.’’ The website also sells a jar opener that resembles a 45 rpm record.

Astrology 2002: When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with ... Border Bowl? Perhaps. As a publicity gimmick, Taco Bell recently paid the University of Saskatchewan’s star registry program to name a new constellation after its Border Bowl meal. The company also plans to name a constellation after the spork, the hybrid spoon-fork commonly found in fast-food restaurants. Seriously.

Alarming Trends Bureau: More reasons to build a spaceship and start from scratch on another planet:

-- A New Zealand church recently held a worship service to honor ‘‘God’s gift of chainsaws.’’ Highlights included a chainsaw musical group and pictures of Jesus holding a chainsaw.
-- A stretch of New York City’s 15th Street has been renamed Oreo Way. On the bright side, the city still doesn’t have any roads named after the spork.
-- International Clown Week starts Aug. 1.
-- A new video game called Hooligans enables players to pretend they’re British soccer fans rampaging in post-game riots.
-- The composer of a ‘‘cell-phone symphony’’ debuted his dial-tone masterpiece in Britain this month, using a 30-phone orchestra.

Going Postal: In response to last week’s column about spas offering themed massages (such as the ‘‘1492 theme’’ in which the masseur dresses like Christopher Columbus), Internet reader Ruth O’Neill suggested a ‘‘Gilligan’s Island’’ spa treatment: ‘‘It starts out as a three-hour massage -- but then things go awry.’’

Bureau of Random Statistics: On average, each episode of ‘‘The Osbournes’’ contains at least 50 bleeped curse words, according to a forthcoming book about the show. Authors David Katz and Michael Rubin say the most censored episode was the Christmas show, which racked up 78 profanities.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: Until the 1970s, blood banks in the Soviet Union got their blood directly from cadavers.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Church Worships the Brady Bunch -- As Gods! (Weekly World News)

Bonus headline, from the same source: ‘‘World’s Fattest Man Becomes Human Sandbag to Save Flooding Minnesota Town!’’

Unpaid Informants: Bonehead of the Day, PR Newswire, Wireless Flash News Service, theage.com.au/oddspot, the Oregonian, PBS’ ‘‘Red Gold.’’

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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