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April 09, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Squeeze This: Mr. Whipple has recanted. He now says it's OK to squeeze the Charmin. Although we think this road-to-Damascus conversion might be due to electroshock therapy, Charmin officials insist it's just a way to mark their toilet paper's 70th birthday.

Whipple, who in 1978 was the third-most-recognized personality in America, behind Richard Nixon and Billy Graham, appeared at a Tuesday banquet in Los Angeles to help Charmin release some odd TP statistics:

* The average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper a day. That's 1 1/2 miles of wiping per year.

* The first historical reference to toilet paper was in 1718. The first roll of toilet paper on record was in New York state in 1882.

* Last year, Charmin sold 72,559,710 miles of bathroom tissue, enough to circle the sun 26 times or TP the Sears Tower in Chicago 130 million times.

Conspicuous Consumption Inc.: We don't know about you, but when we plunk down $425 for a magazine, we assume it was either edited by James Cameron or comes with its own butler to turn the pages.

The latest issue of Visionaire has none of the above. According to a report in New York magazine, the hefty newsstand price reflects the way the "un-magazine" is assembled. Previous issues, which were a relative bargain at $100 each, have come in such formats as a deck of cards, a Louis Vuitton portfolio case and a Mylar box.

The new Visionaire is a custom-made light box with transparencies by trendy photographers and designers. We don't know whether you can order a subscription through Publisher's Clearinghouse, but we do know you'll need to win the sweepstakes to afford it.

Say-It-10-Times-Fast Department: "Betty Botter had some butter, but she said this butter's bitter." That's one of the tongue twisters designed to trip up talkers in a tiny Nebraska town's third annual Tongue Twister Tournament.

Teenager Julia Spector dreamed up the contest as a way to celebrate National Library Week. The event, to be held Wednesday in Avoca, Neb., is aimed at children, but organizer Deborah Greenblatt says adults are also welcome (as long as they're satisfied with winning, say, a jigsaw puzzle for the grand prize). Greenblatt has amassed 241 tongue-tripping phrases for the contest. The most feared is: "I am not the pheasant plucker, I'm the pheasant plucker's mate."

Fifteen Seconds of Fame Department: Our recent item about three Off-Kilterites fighting over the title of Reader No. 86 brought a rash of additional mail. Several of you asked to be named Reader No. 100, some offered to settle for No. 87 and one said he never reads Off-Kilter but wanted to impress his friends who do peruse it by being deemed Non-Reader No. 1.

We'd love to keep printing everyone's names, but this is starting to get out of hand. So with contrite hearts, we ask August Brescia, Dan Christiansen, Murray Tornberg, T.C. Cirillo, Miljenko Jandric and William R. Heideman to please accept our apologies for not mentioning you in this column. Seriously, gang, this is it. We love to hear from you (and a belated welcome to our syndication audience in Crystal Lake, Ill.; Johnstown, Pa.; Reno; Stockton; and Allentown, Pa.), but we have to raise the bar a notch on qualifications for your 15 seconds of fame.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Iraqi Teens Getting High on Anthrax Germs!" (Weekly World News)

* Roy Rivenburg's e-mail address is

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