June 21, 2000

Martha Stewart
Meets Gilligan's Island

By Roy Rivenburg

Robinson Crusoe 2000: Being stranded on a desert island has gotten so complicated. In the old days, you only had to worry about three questions:

  • "Which celebrity would you pick to be marooned with?"
  • "Which five record albums would you bring to listen to (no fair listing greatest hits collections)?''
  • And "Why would you be stupid enough to bring records to a place with no electricity?"
  • Today's castaways face far more byzantine questions. For example: "What kind of wine should be served with dead rat?'' This is a huge issue on CBS' new game show "Survivor.''

    Fortunately, we've discovered a definitive answer. According to Brooke Correll of Wineshopper.com, the selection of beverage depends on how the rat is prepared. Grilled rodent goes best with German pinot noirs, while rat tartare should be paired with a nice chardonnay containing hints of tropical fruit and butterscotch.

    Dead Language Bureau: The two University of Kentucky professors who published 1998's landmark "Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit" (the world's first Latin translation of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas") are back.

    Jennifer and Terence Tunberg's newest tome, due out later this year, is "Cattus Petasatus," a Latin rendition of Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat."

    Meanwhile, we keep hoping for a Latin version of author Joey Green's new book, "Clean Your Clothes With Cheez Whiz,'" a guide to offbeat uses for brand-name products.

    Going Postal: One of the most frequent complaints about journalists is that they inject personal biases into stories. For example, when we recently described Bob Dylan's voice as sounding like "a goat being electrocuted," several readers decried the comparison as "an insult to goats everywhere" and accused us of "perpetuating the stereotype that cud-chewing mammals can't carry a tune."

    Likewise, our report listing Houston as the mailman dog-bite capital of America elicited charges of "anti-canine bias." We hate to admit it, but the dog critics have a point. And not just in Off-Kilter's case.

    Industrywide, newspaper articles about dogs chomping postal workers are almost always presented from the human point of view. Reporters rarely bother to interview the dog.

    Instead, they trot out cliched quotes about how the animal was "a loner," without ever discussing the broader socioeconomic factors that can lead to canine violence.

    For example, few people realize the tremendous stress involved in lying around all day, licking yourself and sniffing things. But according to a California-based pet supply company, such a lifestyle produces incredible anxiety. That's why the company has created "anti-anxiety formula" chew sticks that contain St. John's Wort, valerian root powder and chamomile, which are said to exert a "calming effect on dogs."

    Also available: anti-oxidant chew sticks to combat canine aging, and breath and body freshener to "control unpleasant doggy odors."

    Space-Age Silverware: An aerospace engineer in Alabama is making knives from 4.5-billion-year-old meteorites. The "stellar steak knives" sell for as much as $2,000 apiece and are presumably dishwasher-safe, having passed through the Earth's atmosphere without burning up.

    E-Mail of the Week: "This virus works on the honor system. Please forward this message to everyone you know, then delete all the files on your hard disk."

    Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Armless Woman Wins Top Prize in Venus de Milo Look-Alike Contest!" (Weekly World News)

    Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Chicago Sun-Times.

    Copyright © 2000 by Roy Rivenburg
    Distributed by Creators Syndicate