Nov. 7, 2001

Eat Your Spinach, Dude

By Roy Rivenburg
Popeye’s Legacy: Now that the World Series is over, people are feverishly anticipating the next big cultural event. No, not Thanksgiving. We’re talking about the National Spinach Conference in Fayetteville, Ark.

Seminar topics include Professor Jim Correll’s long-awaited ‘‘Update on Downy Mildew of Spinach,’’ nutritionist Marjorie Fitch-Hilgenberg’s ‘‘Consumer Acceptability of Spinach as a Replacement for Lettuce on Fast-Food Entrees’’ and Brad Murphy’s controversial report, ‘‘Who is Stronger: Popeye After Eating Spinach or Superman?’’

Just kidding. Murphy will actually be discussing ‘‘Lutein Content of Spinach Cultivars and Breeding Lines.’’ We know you can’t wait, so here’s some spinach trivia to tide you over before the Nov. 14 conference:

-- The original cultivators of spinach were ancient Persians, who grew the leafy vegetable as food for their long-haired cats, according to author Rebecca Rupp’s ‘‘Blue Corn and Square Tomatoes.’’
-- Spinach can be used to neutralize explosives. Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest Laboratory say spinach enzymes can turn dynamite into harmless carbon dioxide and water, according to a report in Hobby Town USA.
-- Farmers say Popeye cartoons single-handedly boosted U.S. spinach consumption 33 percent during the 1930s, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Press Releases We Were Scared to Read: ‘‘Actor Tony Randall in L.A. to Judge National Cat Impersonator Contest.’’

Bushy-Tailed Kleptomaniacs: Claiming that squirrels eat ‘‘millions of dollars worth of food meant for birds’’ each year, a Rhode Island company has created the Yankee Flipper, a ‘‘revolutionary squirrel-proof bird feeder.’’ Whenever a squirrel steps on the $110 device’s perch, the excess weight activates a motor that spins the perch and throws the bushy-tailed critter to the ground. Company officials are so amused by the results that they also sell a 60-minute video of squirrels being flung to and fro by the whirling feeder.

Maybe the company should also invent a version for overweight humans. Whenever someone opens the door of the new Yankee Flipper Fridge, it activates a V-8 motor that twirls the refrigerator and throws the person across the kitchen.

Scientist Scrabble: Forget about Scattergories, Balderdash and Pictionary. The hippest new brain game is Scientist Scrabble. It’s an unofficial version of Hasbro’s word game in which the goal is to find scientific journal reports whose authors have family names worth dozens of points if spelled out on a triple word score. The current champ, according to the Annals of Improbable Research, is an article titled ‘‘Intensified Fluorescence’’ in the October issue of Photonics. The authors are Zygmunt Gryczynski, Joseph Lakowicz, Yibing Shen, Joanna Malikca and Ignacy Gryczynski.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Goliath Was Shot With a .38! Bullet Hole in Biblical Giant’s Skull Proves It, Says Scientist’’ (Weekly World News)

All those Sunday School lessons about David slaying Goliath with a stone were wrong. According to a startling new autopsy, the giant was actually killed with a pistol. ‘‘A great mystery, of course, is what a handgun was doing in the Holy Land more than 3,000 years ago,’’ said one forensics expert. ‘‘We can only assume it was a gift from God. But an even bigger mystery is why the Lord in all his wisdom and power didn’t give David an Uzi or a rocket launcher. He really does work in mysterious ways.’’

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate