March 7, 2001

The Era of Edible Tires
and Robot Birds

By Roy Rivenburg

Brave New World Bureau: The 21st century is only a few months old, but it’s already surpassed the previous millennium in terms of scientific and cultural advancements. For example:

-- Goodyear has just unveiled the world’s first tire made from corn. (No word on whether blowouts create popcorn.)
-- A Swedish hotel has brought new meaning to the term ‘‘elevator music’’ by equipping its lifts with buttons that allow passengers to choose from 10 different musical styles while riding between floors. Selections include funk, electronic and R&B.
-- A 49-year-old British man married a pub on March 1, in a ceremony officiated by a vicar from the Church of England.
-- A Beverly Hills company plans to sell prepaid phone cards depicting Pope John Paul II. Don’t leave Rome without it.
-- The makers of Tekno, the robotic dog, are now introducing Polly, a ‘‘charismatic and sassy’’ robot parrot that flaps its metallic wings, ruffles its headdress, nibbles high-tech crackers and repeats anything you teach it . The pseudo bird also has eyes that turn from green to yellow to red (like a traffic signal), depending on its ‘‘mood.’’
-- In an effort to boost tourism in South Korea, officials are promoting a tour of Seoul’s restrooms.
-- A New York dairy company has captured the world record for largest dip by creating a 2,314-pound bowl of sour cream dip. The previous record, set in 1999 in Australia, was a 1,807-pound bowl of guacamole.

Beauty by Geography: What’s the latest in spa treatments? It depends on the location. At the Arizona Biltmore hotel, clients can have their bodies marinated in cactus juice. At the Hotel Hershey in Pennsylvania, the beauty options include a ‘‘chocolate fondue wrap’’ (mud mixed with cocoa) or a whipped cocoa whirlpool bath (sorry, no little marshmallows).

A Napa Valley, Calif., spa offers grape-seed scrubs. And a Dallas hotel features a barbecue sauce wrap (no word on whether they clean you up afterward with a giant lemon-scented moist towelette).

These are steps in the right direction, but for real innovation, we recommend the Love Canal whirlpool bath, the Texas fire ant wrap, the McDonald’s scalding coffee steam bath or the Bosnia land mine scrub.

Great Moments in History: Two hundred twenty years ago March 13, scientists discovered Uranus. No doubt there’s a good punch line in there somewhere, but this is a family column, so you’ll have to supply your own.

Quote of the Week: This gem is actually from 20 years ago, but it recently popped up in a New York Daily News report about ‘‘The New York Friars Club Book of Roasts.’’ At his 1981 roast, Burt Reynolds made this startling confession: ‘‘My days as a leading man are numbered, so I started a breeding company -- and out of that came Robert Urich, who is part me and part Shetland pony.’’

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘World’s Monsters Are Out of Control!’’ (Weekly World News)
Bigfoot attacks are up 300 percent since 1999. The Loch Ness Monster is on a boat-sinking spree. The Georgia Swamp Monster recently devoured 11 children. A half-alligator, half-man (perhaps a cousin of Robert Urich?) has embarked on a killing rampage in the Florida Everglades. Tibet authorities have spotted an army of abominable snowmen marching through the Himalayas. And Indiana’s ‘‘giant turtle’’ just crushed 12 cars.

Meanwhile, a group of politically correct humans is playing into the monsters’ hands. According to WWN, Scottish animal-rights activists have petitioned their government to officially change the name of the Loch Ness Monster to Loch Ness Creature, because the word ‘‘monster’’ carries negative connotations.

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire, Washington Post, Associated Press, Baird Jones.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate