May 23, 2001

Guns Don't Kill People,
Bathrooms Kill People

By Roy Rivenburg

Shampoo Karaoke Bureau: Bathrooms can be hazardous to your health. Exotic and deadly germs lurk on countertops. Snakes and tiny alligators sometimes swim up sewer lines and hide in toilets. And the Ty-D-Bol man is now a homeless drifter who is wanted in 18 states on weapons charges.

But the biggest threat to your well-being is the shower. If you walk into a bathroom while someone else is bathing, it’s very likely you’ll be subjected to the horrors of country music. According to a survey by Westin Hotels, more people sing country tunes in the shower than any other type of music. (Only 7 percent croon classical music, perhaps because the lyrics are so hard to remember.)

The survey also revealed that one of the public’s biggest pet peeves about bathing in hotel rooms is when the shower curtain billows in and touches their skin.

Sermon of the Week: The Rev. Ian Paisley has declared that ‘‘God will destroy’’ anyone who line-dances.

Ivy League Bush League: In case you’re under the impression that President Bush’s brain is a few votes short of a quorum, the Annals of Improbable Research ( has announced the discovery of numerous scientific papers authored or co-authored by ‘‘G. Bush.’’ They include: ‘‘Anterior Cingulate Cortex Dysfunction in Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Revealed by fMRI and the Counting Stroop’’ (from Biological Psychiatry), ‘‘Some Results of Recording Acoustic Signals From High-Altitude Explosions’’ (from our favorite source for light summer reading, Izvestiya Akademii Nauk Fizika Atmosfery I Okeana), and ‘‘Pacific Sea Surface Temperature Forcing Dominates Orbital Forcing of the Early Holocene Monsoon’’ (from Quaternary Research).

So you see, the president is no intellectual lightweight. Then again, maybe his dad wrote all that stuff.

Alarming Trends Bureau: Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is now Dr. Jon Bon Jovi, thanks to an honorary PhD from Monmouth University. Perhaps this means he’s also qualified to write some scientific papers with G. Bush.

Mark Your Calendars: It’s Ozone Awareness Week in Pennsylvania. Have you hugged your triatomic form of oxygen today?

Save Our Schools Bureau: Here at Off-Kilter, we’re always looking for creative ways to improve our nation’s educational system, such as firing all U.S. history teachers and replacing them with a set of quarters. A new survey shows that 72 percent of youngsters believe that collecting quarters from the U.S. Mint’s 50-state series has helped them to learn more about American history.

If only the Mint would come out with a series of coins featuring authors and physicists, maybe we could also get rid of English and science teachers.

Important Medical Update: Actors who win Oscars live four years longer, on average, than actors who don’t, according to a study by the University of Toronto.

Quote of the Week: From a Harrisburg, Pa., school board member, commenting on the suspension of a 6-year-old for bringing a toenail clipper to campus: ‘‘This is not about a toenail clipper. This is about the attachments on the toenail clipper.’’

Delusions of Grandeur Bureau: In his new book, Shaquille O’Neal claims credit for inventing the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

Bonus Energy Guide: Everything you always wanted to know about energy crisis solutions, from Roy Rivenburg's May 18 story in the Los Angeles Times:

Because the rival energy plans issued last week by President Bush and the Democrats are long-winded and filled with technical terms such as "electricity," "nuclear power" and "dude," The Times has prepared this handy reference:

Question: Will I have to make personal sacrifices to reduce energy consumption?
Answer: Lord, no. Neither plan asks Americans to change their lifestyles. The cover photo on the Democratic energy proposal shows--no joke--a happy family washing their sport-utility vehicle. Not to be outdone, the Bush plan depicts a happy family pouring 55-gallon drums of gasoline directly into storm drains and running 12 air conditioners outdoors to cool off their backyard.

Q: What will be done to boost domestic energy production?
A: The Bush plan encourages drilling for oil in previously protected areas, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Statue of Liberty and the Vatican. The Democrats call for hiring experienced hillbillies to roam the countryside shootin' at some food, in hopes that one day they'll hit some bubblin' crude.

Q: What about renewable energy sources?
A: Bush has earmarked $2 million for research into the secret of the Energizer Bunny. "He keeps going and going and going!" said an incredulous Bush. "It's amazing! There must be a way to harness that energy."

Q: How's the outlook for power shortages this summer?
A: To stave off rolling blackouts, Bush is working with Fox TV to create an exciting new game show called "Electricity Survivor," in which the governors of all 50 states will compete weekly and then vote one state off the national power grid. The states that survive through the end of summer should have all the power they need, he said.

Q: What about conservation?
A: In a major concession to Democrats, Bush said he "appreciated and respected" their desire for a comprehensive conservation program. "Therefore, under my plan, all Democrats will have to reduce their energy consumption by 35%."

Q: What if that's not enough?
A: Then Bush would ask states that use the electric chair to switch to an Energy Star-rated model. As a last resort, he would ask the heavy-metal group Spinal Tap to turn down the volume on its speakers from 11 to 10, thereby saving thousands of megawatts a day.

Q: Can anything be done about gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles?
A: Bush would discourage the use of SUVs by giving tax credits to people who buy one of those new Cadillac or Lincoln pickup trucks instead.

Q: Any viable alternatives to oil and nuclear energy?
A: Bush calls for increased reliance on hydroelectric power, which would be achieved by damming Niagara Falls. The Democrats suggest exploring "untapped natural gas reserves," such as Rush Limbaugh, whom they described as "full of methane."

Q: Are there any ideas that Bush and the Democrats agree on?
A: Yes. They both favor making Saudi Arabia our 51st state.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘How Did Elvis Presley Get Into Richard Nixon’s Grave?’’ (Weekly World News)

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

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate