Oct. 17, 2001

Playing Mind Games
With John Lennon

By Roy Rivenburg
The Walrus Wasn’t Paul: While listening to actor Kevin Spacey’s frightening rendition of John Lennon’s ‘‘Mind Games’’ during a recent TV tribute, we wondered what Lennon would think if he were alive. And then we remembered: He is. Sort of.

The John Lennon Artificial Intelligence Project is a computer that has been programmed to answer questions as if it were the ex-Beatle. (Other versions of the software answer questions as Elvis or Jack the Ripper).

So, in honor of Lennon’s 61st birthday on Oct. 9, we visited the website and asked a few questions. For a dead guy, Lennon was surprisingly cooperative, but we did encounter some glitches. For instance, when we asked if William Shatner’s hair is real, cyber-Lennon replied, ‘‘What are you doing in my kitchen?’’

And when we wanted to know who shot JFK, Lennon replied, ‘‘Paul McCartney,’’ whereas cyber-Elvis said: ‘‘I think the lone gunman acted alone.’’ So we decided to start with easier queries:

Question: What is two times two?
Lennon: Oh, that’s a tough one, isn’t it? Two times two is four.
Q: How is it being dead?
A: It’s not something I like to talk about these days.
Q: Are you in heaven or hell?
A: I’m nowhere, man.
Q: Who was the walrus?
A: Mary Poppins was the original walrus. Betcha didn’t know that.
Q: Is ‘‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’’ about LSD?
A: I think so, but I’m not sure.
Q: Did you like Kevin Spacey’s version of ‘‘Mind Games’’ on TNT’s Lennon tribute?
A: No I didn’t. Is it important?
Q: Who is Elton John?
A: Some famous rock ’n roll creep.

Alarming Trends Bureau: First anthrax and now this:

-- The man behind the Pet Rock craze of the 1970s has announced plans for a Pet Rock comeback.
-- Shania Twain is recording a cover of Cher’s 1973 hit ‘‘Half Breed,’’ for which she should be stoned with Pet Rocks.
-- A New York researcher theorizes that dumb people are more sexually attractive than smart people.
-- Following the lead of Heinz’s purple ketchup, Parkay has decided to sell colored margarine.

Gymnasts of the Year: The award goes to Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie, who were described in the Los Angeles Times as ‘‘locked in a tight embrace, gazing into each other’s eyes as she kisses his earlobe.’’

Anger Management Bureau: Pinatas.com has begun selling Osama bin Laden pinatas.

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘How to Tell if Your Dog’s an Alcoholic! Is Fido Becoming a Party Animal?’’ (Weekly World News)

Apparently, booze hounds are growing in number, which is why WWN recommends the following measures: keep your TV tuned to religious programming when the dog is around; check for hidden stashes of liquor in the doghouse; encourage your pet to attend Animal Alcoholics Anonymous; check your dog’s water dish to ‘‘make sure he isn’t sneaking vodka in there.’’

Dog owners should also be on the alert for these warning signs of canine alcohol abuse:
-- Poor coordination. When you toss your dog a Frisbee, does he catch it in his mouth or does it bounce off his head?
-- The smell of liquor on your pet’s breath or fur.
-- Changes in behavior. Your pooch begins hanging out with a bad pack of mutts, spending nights away from home with no explanation for his absence.

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service.

Copyright 2001 by Roy Rivenburg
Distributed by
Creators Syndicate