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Laugh Lines

Off-Kilter

April 22, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Eunuch Dogs Department: Hallmark Cards must have lost its mind. On the heels of introducing a suicide greeting card, it is now unveiling a sympathy card for neutered dogs. Message: "Heard you got 'fixed.' . . . Didn't even know you were broken."

Other new Hallmark products--which reach stores in June--include canine thank-you notes, animal birth announcements, dog and cat photo albums and a greeting card for veterinarians that reads, "We just wanted to thank you for the sensitive, caring way you handled the end of our cat's life."

Also in the works are a few humorous cards. One says "Cat PMS" and pictures an angry kitty snarling "Meow, dammit!" Another shows a cartoonish dog saying, "Thanks! That was really nice, coming from someone who had me neutered." We're still trying to figure out who would send it and why.

You May Already Have Won!: Off-Kilter was feeling sorry for itself the other day for not winning a Pulitzer Prize and not being able to appear in a self-congratulatory full-page ad or (like the Orange County Register a few years ago) a special phone message that readers could call if they wanted to hear our excited, banshee-like reaction to victory.

But then something happened to remind us that journalism isn't about accolades and prestige. It's about free samples and perks. A package arrived containing the new Gillette Mach3 razor, which the rest of the public can't buy until July.

At first, we thought the three-bladed contraption was a joke. "Saturday Night Live" used to spoof Gillette's two-bladed razors with a gizmo called "Triple-Trac." The slogan was, "Because you'll believe anything." We started imagining razors with four, five or even 12 blades. Where does the quest for a close shave stop?

Then we watched the bizarre TV commercial for Mach3. It shows a pilot flying through the sound barrier, Mach 1, and roaring through Mach 2. As he does, his jet breaks apart, his clothes tear off and he is transported half-naked to a space-age bathroom, where a razor conveniently zooms into his hand and foam appears on his face. Which is pretty much how our shaving routine goes in the morning too.

But we decided to give Mach3 a chance. Two years ago, for another story, we visited Gillette's top-secret shaving lab in Boston and casually mentioned to company officials that we still used the 1977-era Atra razor. We might as well have confessed to shaving with a clamshell. They insisted we try the SensorExcel. And we loved it. Likewise, our skepticism toward Mach3 vanished once we tested the thing. We're not sure if the shave is closer (our 3-D electron whisker microscope is in the shop), but the razor is much smoother to use and left us virtually nick-free.

In case you don't believe us, we happen to have a second Mach3 and we're going to give it away (inspired by Al Gore's charitable example). To win, submit a 50-words-or-less essay telling us why you want the razor. (Caution: Because Mach3 is a turbulent, high-speed shaving experience, as seen in the TV commercial, pregnant women and small children are advised not to use it.)

Get your entries to us by May 7 via fax, (213) 237-0732, or mail, Off-Kilter, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053. Include your name, address and phone number. All entries become property of the Los Angeles Times (our lawyers make us say that).

Best Supermarket Tabloid Story: "Strange Illness Makes Rich Folks Live Like Beggars!" (Weekly World News)

It's a terrible affliction called "imagined poverty disorder."

* Roy Rivenburg's e-mail address is roy.rivenburg@latimes.com.

Contributors: Wireless Flash News Service, Wall Street Journal

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