May 15, 2002

Instant Iceberg: Just Add Water

By Roy Rivenburg
Portable Iceberg Bureau: Looking for the perfect graduation or wedding gift? How about a $3,995 inflatable iceberg? Every home should have one. Made with industrial-strength fabric, the blow-up berg is ideal for ‘‘turning an otherwise flat, featureless lake or harbor into a full-scale adventure.’’ Or you can use it to sink inflatable Titanics. Available from Hammacher Schlemmer.

We also thought about recommending a new $21,000 luxury cell phone that features a hand-crafted gold or platinum case. But it’s a rip-off. For that price, the phone should do a lot more than let you customize the song it plays for the ring tone. It should come with actual musicians who follow the phone around and perform the song whenever you have a call. Or, if you set the phone to vibrate, a professional masseuse should be there to give you a back rub to signal incoming calls.

Weird Obituary Bureau: In reporting the death of mobster Joseph Bonanno, most newspapers focused on his Mafia ties. But the Arizona Daily Star went one step further and included this crucial fact: In 1973, after a street-widening project in Tucson prompted Bonanno to move from his longtime home, his house was briefly occupied by ‘‘University Medical Center researchers who were testing the viability of cancer-detecting brassieres.’’

Man Does Not Live By Bread Crusts Alone: In what is being touted as the greatest invention since sliced bread, Sara Lee has introduced sliced crustless bread, for kids who hate crusts. The loaves are made with a ‘‘sophisticated decruster’’ that recycles the crusts into croutons or breading for baked fish.

Book ’Em, Danno: Now that Oprah’s book club has folded, more and more Americans are turning to Off-Kilter for advice on light summer reading. As usual, we recommend academic journals. For example, the Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry recently published a spellbinding article on ‘‘Gas Chromatography Double Focusing Sector-Field ICP-MS as an Innovative Tool for Bad Breath Research.’’ Here are some other great works, courtesy of

-- ‘‘Does Smelling Granny Relieve Depressive Mood? Commentary on Rapid Mood Change and Human Odors’’ (Biological Psychology)
-- ‘‘Demonstration of the Exponential Decay Law Using Beer Froth’’ (European Journal of Physics)
-- ‘‘French Presidential Elections Can Kill’’ (British Medical Journal)
-- ‘‘Why and How I Became a Specialist in Double Dentures’’ (Brazil Odontolocico)

Weird Polls Bureau: Only 19 percent of American sneezes receive a ‘‘Gesundheit’’ or ‘‘God bless you’’ in response, according to a survey by the Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘10 Sure Signs Your Kid’s Pal is the Son of Satan!’’ (Weekly World News)

You can’t be too careful when it comes to screening your child’s playmates. According to WWN, Satan Jr. is alive and well and possibly growing up in your city. Here’s how to tell if your toddler’s friend is a Pampers-clad Prince of Darkness:

-- He wears clothes. This might sound innocent, but ‘‘those cute OshKosh overalls may be concealing a long forked tail,’’ says WWN.
-- He smells bad. Is it time to change his diaper, or is that ‘‘the smell of sulfur and brimstone emanating from his diabolical pores’’?
-- He uses telltale phrases such as ‘‘hotter than Hades,’’ ‘‘hell’s bells’’ and ‘‘I am Xenothalamus, guardian of the eternal citadel of hellfire!’’

Unpaid Informants:, Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
Off-Kilter is syndicated to newspapers in the U.S. and overseas by
Creators Syndicate