Nov. 21, 2001

The Future's Uncertain
And The End Is Always Near

By Roy Rivenburg
Soothsayers R Us: December is a mystery month. According to a survey of 2,316 psychics published in a supermarket tabloid, all of the world’s crystal balls have suddenly gone blank. Does this mean Armageddon is at hand? Nah. It’s just that nobody can bear to contemplate another Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special.

To fill the clairvoyance vacuum, Off-Kilter contacted a 2,317th psychic and came up with several forecasts:

-- Dec. 6: In response to the Pentagon’s October request for citizen ideas to combat terrorism, inventors flood Washington with gadgets. The most promising is the Ronco Crawl Blocker, which erases all the news tickers and bulletins that crawl across the bottom of your TV screen while watching CNN, MSNBC and other stations. ‘‘I had no idea Tom Brokaw was anchoring in the nude,’’ marvels one user. ‘‘Before I got Crawl Blocker, everything up to his chin was graphics and news updates.’’
-- Dec. 10: As anthrax fears reach panic levels, holiday carolers singing ‘‘White Christmas’’ find themselves being followed by hazardous materials teams worried about their solicitation of a powdery substance that causes ‘‘treetops’’ to ‘‘glisten.’’
-- Dec. 24: Santa’s Christmas Eve sleigh ride is held up for two days while North Pole security elves inspect his bags of toys for weapons.
-- Jan. 18: In a disturbing twist, the CIA discovers that the Al Qaeda terrorist network is being financed through the manufacture and sale of American flags.
-- Feb. 2: Attorney General John ‘‘Chicken Little’’ Ashcroft issues the latest in his series of warnings about ‘‘a credible threat of terrorism during the next few days.’’ When pressed for details, Ashcroft says a groundhog in Punxsutawney, Pa., saw its shadow, which might indicate another six weeks of terrorist activity.

Grassy Knoll Bureau: The woman who wrote the famous ‘‘Who Shot J.R.?’’ episode for TV’s ‘‘Dallas’’ has just published her first novel, ‘‘The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc.’’ Coincidentally, the FBI has just released its file on the J.R. case, which reveals that viewers were misled into believing Kristin committed the crime.

In truth, J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) was the victim of a drive-by shooting. As he stood near the window of his skyscraper office in Dallas in 1980, shots were fired from a car on the street below. The gunman, an unidentified male, was apparently riding in a 1963 black convertible limousine. Ewing was rushed to General Hospital, but died because an actors’ strike prevented doctors from operating on him. However, his ex-wife, Jeannie (Barbara Eden), blinked him back to life in time for the fall season.

Celebrity Birthday Bureau: The Gerber baby is 75 years old. Ann Turner Cook, who posed for the baby food jar at the age of 4 months, turned 75 on Nov. 20.

Osama-o-Rama: By the time you read this, Osama bin Laden might have been captured or killed. If not, columnist David Allen of the Inland Valley (Calif.) Daily Bulletin offers a low-budget idea for tracking him down: Hire one of those companies that organizes high school reunions. Taliban officials would then receive a form letter that says, ‘‘The Kabul High Class of ’71 Spirit Committee needs your help in locating the following people ... ’’

If that doesn’t work, Allen suggests going cave to cave with an elite force that is relentless, methodical and almost never seen by their intended target until it’s too late: Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Bewitched By Harry: A look at how witches are using Harry Potter as a springboard to lure new members, adapted from Roy Rivenburg’s Nov. 16 article in the Los Angeles Times:

Hoping to capitalize on Harry Potter fever, witches are trying to recruit new members with a slew of modern conveniences, such as 0.9% financing on broomsticks and low-fat bat wings for magic potions.
‘‘We’re slowly bringing witchcraft into the 21st century,’’ said a spokeswitch for the National Organization of Warlocks. One of the most dramatic changes is in broom technology. For centuries, witches had to fly around on standard broomsticks, which were notoriously uncomfortable and usually lacked cargo space. Today’s broomsticks come fully loaded with air bags, bicycle racks, power windows, and heated broom handles for cold weather.
There’s even room for broom bumper stickers, such as ‘‘My child is an honor student at Hogwarts Elementary’’ and ‘‘Guns don’t kill witches; falling houses uprooted by Kansas tornadoes kill witches.’’
In other technology news, General Electric has introduced a microwave cauldron, designed for ‘‘today’s active witch, who doesn’t have time to spend hours making potions.’’ Of course, potion-mixers still have to deal with environmental regulations, but Republican witches are lobbying Congress to loosen restrictions on the disposal of magic potion ingredients.
On the fashion front, witches are opting for more culturally inclusive wardrobes. Instead of the traditional pointed black hats, many are now wearing black sombreros or pointy black yarmulkes.
They’re also replacing black cats and flying monkeys as official Wiccan mascots. From now on, witches will be accompanied by parrots, llamas or Big Mouth Billy Bass, the singing rubber fish.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Hitler’s Nose Cloned ... And It’s Growing a Mustache!’’ (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Ann Harrison, Linda Sator Harrison, Daily Titanic.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate