March 21, 2001

Brother, Can You Spare a Diamond?

By Roy Rivenburg

No More Money to Burn: Why are critics of President Bush’s tax cut plan bemoaning the fact that most of the moola goes to the rich? Don’t they appreciate the burdens faced by billionaires? According to the Moet & Chandon Index, which tracks the price of luxury items, the cost of living for the well-heeled has risen a staggering 3.7 percent in the past year.

For example, a 12-day cruise in the Baltic has shot up from a modest $23,145 to $24,295. And a matched set of monogrammed Louis Vuitton luggage that sold for $4,010 a year ago now costs $4,140. Sacre bleu!

But wait, it gets worse. Caviar has jumped to $95 an ounce, an increase of 27 percent over last year. And a bottle of Hennessy cognac that retailed for $120 now goes for an unconscionable $130.

We can’t even make fun of the trend because the cost of laughing is also soaring into the stratosphere. According to Malcolm Kushner’s Comedy Index, which tracks the value of 16 leading humor indicators, the cost of a good guffaw has jumped 3 percent since last year.

The charge for sending a ‘‘dancing-chicken singing telegram’’ climbed from $75 to $85. And a TV sitcom script that sold for $12,615 in 2000 now commands $13,025 (probably more after the writers’ strike). The only saving grace is the cost of rubber chickens, which dropped from $60 per dozen to $48.

Alarming Trends Bureau: God is everywhere and so is Starbucks, which may explain why a Munster, Ind., church recently opened the world’s first Starbucks franchise inside a house of worship. Now, after a hard day of throwing the money changers out of the temple, Jesus can order a relaxing Grande Easy Vanilla Nonfat Caramel Macchiato.

Hologram Office Party Bureau: Modern science is so amazing. In the latest breakthrough, researchers have announced that the office of the future will be -- brace yourself -- pretty much like the office of today. However, instead of sharing cubicles with live human beings, future workers will experience ‘‘the immersive Internet,’’ a 3-D computerized environment that duplicates all the sensory stimuli of sitting next to real co-workers.

Yes, it’s quite an advance. For example, if you’ve been worrying that telecommuting will prevent you from enjoying the aroma of that special deskmate who doesn’t bathe regularly, don’t sweat it.

Scientists are also developing a device that mimics the sense of touch. Although aimed at online museums and stores (which could allow visitors to ‘‘feel’’ the shape of a Greek urn or the texture of a fur coat), the device holds more promise for the virtual office.

By enabling lecherous bosses to pinch an employee’s butt digitally, the device helps preserve the time-honored tradition of workplace sexual harassment.

Best Skin Flick Award: A Beverly Hills dermatologist says he will polish away skin lines, liver spots and sun damage from the necks and chests of 400 Oscar attendees this year using a jet of chromium-coated polishing crystals. The effect lasts three weeks.

Anti-Oscar Bureau: John Travolta’s ‘‘Battlefield Earth’’ has been voted worst film of the 20th century by the Hastings Bad Cinema Society. Runners-up in the ‘‘100 Years, 100 Stinkers’’ derby included ‘‘Howard the Duck,’’ ‘‘The Avengers’’ and ‘‘Stop or My Mom Will Shoot.’’ The worst actors of the era were Steven Seagal and Pia Zadora.

We thought worst actor honors should’ve gone to O.J. Simpson for his role in ‘‘Searching for the Real Killers.’’

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘14 Great Ways to Turn Yourself Into a Werewolf!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Boston Globe, Mark Kellner, Los Angeles Times.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate