May 30, 2001

What's Next --
Braille Bumper Stickers?

By Roy Rivenburg

Reach Out and Touch Someone: A New York fashion designer has launched a line of braille T-shirts for women. In a related story, former President Bill Clinton was seen wandering the streets of Manhattan impersonating a blind man.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: The most common last words of people who fall into the Grand Canyon are, according to a ranger: ‘‘Hey, look at me!’’

Washed-Up Celebrity Bureau: Mr. Bill, the hapless clay character from vintage ‘‘Saturday Night Live’’ episodes, is now the official spokesman for Ramada Inns. In an upcoming TV commercial, he will be squished by a flyswatter at a cheap hotel. Can Motel 6 ads with Gumby and Pokey be far behind?

Springtime for Turncoats: The truth about Sen. James Jeffords’ recent decision to switch political parties, from Roy Rivenburg’s May 25 article in the Los Angeles Times:

In a last-ditch effort to keep Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont from bolting the Republican Party last week, GOP leaders dangled a series of enticements, including chairmanship of the prestigious Senate subcommittee on maple syrup and, in their final offer, the top-secret formula for Strom Thurmond’s orange hair dye.

In the end, however, the Democrats’ package was too good to refuse. In addition to a $52.7-million signing bonus (making Jeffords the highest-paid senator in U.S. history), Democrats promised to let Vermont annex New Hampshire, a move that figures to make the tiny state as big as most living rooms.

Although the defection thrilled liberals, it could set a dangerous precedent. Already, the itch to switch is spreading to other sectors of American life.

-- Music: Justin Timberlake stunned the pop world Thursday by announcing plans to quit ’N Sync and join the Backstreet Boys. Normally, nobody would really care, except that ’N Sync is replacing Timberlake with David Crosby.
-- Theme Parks: Mickey Mouse has severed ties with Disneyland and moved to Magic Mountain. Despite personal pleas from Michael Eisner and Donald Duck, Mouse said Disneyland ‘‘just isn’t the same.’’ In particular, he lambasted the new California Adventure theme park, which is bombing with the public. ‘‘I told them it should have been called East Timor Adventure, but they wouldn’t listen,’’ Mouse said.
-- Hollywood: Actor Billy Baldwin is rumored to be resigning from the Baldwin Brothers (Alec, Daniel, Stephen, Billy, Groucho and Chico). ‘‘Everyone is always getting us mixed up,’’ he complained. Although no official announcement has been made, Baldwin told aides he planned to become one of the Olsen twins.
-- Cereal: Tony the Tiger is reportedly defecting from Kellogg to General Mills. Tiger, 59, is said to be miffed about his waning influence at Kellogg, which has come under increasing control by Snap, Crackle and Pop.
-- Sports: The San Diego Chargers, perennial losers in the AFC West, are abandoning football to try their luck at synchronized swimming.
-- Politics: California Gov. Gray Davis, sinking in polls over his handling of the energy crisis, tendered his resignation and announced plans to run for governor of oil-rich Texas.

You Are What You Read:
The two most recent issues of Seventeen magazine contained twice as many references to sex as the latest GQs, according to a survey by Right Angle Research. Other findings: Brides magazine had no stories about love in May; God wasn’t mentioned in the April or May issues of Cosmo, Rolling Stone, Oprah’s magazine, Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar or Seventeen; the San Francisco Chronicle referred to wine twice as often as the New York Times.

Chez NASA: The signature dessert at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a chocolate space shuttle served with whipped cream and fresh berries. It’s called ‘‘chocolate liftoff.’’

Chez Oncologist: We don’t normally associate ‘‘caramel pecan crunch’’ ice cream with the fight against cancer, but select packages of Dreyer’s and Edy’s ice cream now display pink ribbons to promote breast cancer awareness.

However, still no sign of Pabst Pink Ribbon beer.

Karaoke Car Alarms, The Sequel: A few months ago, we invited readers to submit ideas for the new car alarm that replaces the usual wailing sounds with customized anti-theft messages, such as a nonstop recording of John Tesh singing or the voice of actor Robert Blake saying, ‘‘I’ll be right back; I just forgot something in the restaurant. But don’t worry, you’ll be perfectly safe while I’m gone.’’ Here are the winning entries:

-- Jon Guenzler of Santa Ana, Calif., would scare off thieves with an alarm that keeps saying, ‘‘Do you want fries with that? Do you want fries with that?’’
-- Cindy Witzke of Muskegon, Mich., proposed this message for her 1992 Jeep Cherokee with 156,000 miles: ‘‘Take my car -- please! It’s insured to the hilt and I want a Durango!’’

Our contest runners-up, who will replace the winners if the winners are unable to fulfill their duties, are Richard P. McDonough (‘‘When you enter this automobile and hotwire the ignition, you will hear an anthology of campaign speeches by George W. Bush. Have a nice day’’), Gerry Adler (‘‘This is your mother speaking...’’) and Wayne Terry (‘‘Warning! All upholstery coated with dog hair’’).

Supermarket Tabloid Story of the Week: One of the biggest mysteries in journalism is why the Pulitzer Prize board never honors the Weekly World News. Not only did the tabloid discover that Elvis Presley was alive, then dead again, then alive again -- but a few weeks ago, while the rest of the media reported that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh had received a ‘‘last-minute stay of execution,’’ only WWN had the courage to print a cover photo of his lifeless body next to the headline: ‘‘Dead McVeigh on Morgue Slab!’’

Sure, some skeptics think this means WWN went to press a little early that week (the tabloid equivalent of ‘‘Dewey Defeats Truman!’’), but we’re not so sure. It’s more likely that the government killed McVeigh by accident, hired a double to conceal the mistake and then concocted a yarn that other newspapers were too lazy to investigate. That laziness might also explain why the media missed another WWN exclusive: ‘‘Australian Bigfoot Digs Neil Diamond!’’

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

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate