June 6, 2001

My Other Car is a ...
Time Machine

By Roy Rivenburg

Time Bandits Bureau: As you know, Off-Kilter is one of only two syndicated columnists in the world with access to Caltech’s experimental time machine. The other is Dr. Joyce Brothers, but she uses the time machine for evil, not good. Or maybe we’re the columnist who uses it for evil; we forget.

Anyway, the point is, we recently sent our time-traveling journalist to the year 2400 to pick up some groceries that haven’t been invented yet, such as Pillsbury’s Poppin’ Fresh Soylent Green and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Partially Hydrogenated Trisodium Methyl Phosphate With Yellow Dye No. 345.

Unfortunately, our correspondent is now stuck in a massive time-travel traffic jam. Apparently, many citizens of the future live in other eras and commute to work via time machine. For instance, some live in the 1950s because housing is cheap and schools are safe. But during rush hour, it can take them hours to travel a few centuries, especially if there’s an accident in the space-time continuum.

On the day our correspondent departed, a nuclear-powered big rig overturned in the year 2218, forcing traffic to detour through the Middle Ages. During the backup, our driver pulled over in the year 2005 and filed a report on several news items from the near future:

-- July 2001: Flexing some political muscle now that the Republican Party no longer controls the Senate, Democrats introduce a bill to increase the number of three-day weekends by making all holidays fall on Mondays. Beginning in 2002, New Year’s Day will be on the first Monday of January. Other holidays switching to Mondays are the Fourth of July, Ash Wednesday and Easter.
-- December 2001: As the recession deepens, TV networks cut costs by firing high-paid actors and replacing them with spliced-in characters from old shows and films. The reconfigured series include ‘‘Dharma and Greg Brady,’’ ‘‘Buffy the Flintstone Slayer’’ and ‘‘The Wild Wild West Wing’’ (in which President Bartlet is attacked by an 80-foot-tall mechanical tarantula). In related news, concert promoters announce a reunion of Crosby, Stills and Nash Bridges.
-- August 2003: Riots erupt in major U.S. cities after reports that the FDA is testing a new drug that gives people more patience. As soon as the story leaks, demonstrators pour into the streets demanding that the drug be approved for sale. ‘‘We want patience and we want it now!’’ they chant.

Alarming Trends Bureau: A website called HQ20 is selling bottles of water filled from office water coolers at Yahoo, Wired and other high-tech firms.

Weird Polls Bureau: People who eat popcorn at movies are three times more likely to cry during the flick than non-popcorn eaters, according to a survey by Screenvision Cinema Promotions, which also attached free samples of Lever 2000 antibacterial hand wipes to each popcorn bag. The survey then asked what other free products people would like to see attached to popcorn bags. But the answers were pretty unimaginative: a CD, breath mint, coupon or beauty product. How about popcorn bags attached to Cadillacs, blimps or Fort Knox?

Groupie Barbie: Mattel, which is obviously on drugs, has just released ’N Sync #1 Fan Barbie, a doll that sports a tie-dyed ’N Sync T-shirt and waves an ‘‘I Love ’N Sync’’ banner.

Apocalypse Now: June is National Accordion Awareness Month. Will Mattel introduce an Accordion Awareness Barbie?

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Rooster Kills Four in Petting Zoo Rampage!’’ (Weekly World News)

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

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate