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Off Kilter

January 05, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

"Proof" of Alien Abductions: A Florida company is peddling a product for people who need solid evidence they've been kidnapped by a UFO. For $24.95 (and a photo of yourself), the Home Alien Abduction Documentation Kit provides a photo of you and the aliens sharing a six-pack of Miller Lite, a video of you and your captors sitting around a campfire singing "Kumbaya," a newspaper article about the abduction, and a cocktail napkin with the phone number of your alien boyfriend or girlfriend. For info, call (305) 460-3235.

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Vanishing IQs Inc.: As if we needed more proof that people are getting dumber, a story is making the rounds on the Internet about dopey airline passengers. Among the gems:

* A woman tells an airline clerk she wants to visit Hippopotamus, N.Y. When asked if she means Buffalo, she replies, "I knew it was some kind of big animal."

* A man says he wants to go to Illinois, but when the agent asks what city, he answers, "Cleveland, Ohio."

* A Dallas man calls for reservations on a pay phone, then tries to purchase his ticket by putting quarters into the phone.

* Another passenger asks about catching a flight to Maconga. When told that such a place doesn't exist, he insists otherwise and produces his ticket: Macon, Ga.

As is common on the Internet, the stories have suspicious lineage. We traced them to a 1985 article in Travel Weekly, written by reservations agent Jonathan Lee. However, Lee's first-person account is also suspect. A remarkably similar Maconga item ran in the Washington Post a year earlier, attributed to a different reservations clerk.

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Camel Through the Eye of a Needle Department: If it were possible to buy a spot in heaven, how much would it be worth? A survey of America's wealthiest denizens by Worth magazine found that rich men would be willing to shell out $1 million for a piece of eternal real estate, but rich women would cough up just $313,000. Maybe the women would pay more if they knew for sure that toilet seats in heaven were never left up.

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A Cross-Dresser to Go, Please: The top-selling celebrity sandwich at New York's Stage Deli is the Marv Albert, according to Olympia Daily World. It's corned beef with Swiss cheese and costs $13.95. The sequined gown is extra.

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Slippery Slope Department: In a recent New York Times Magazine piece, Steven Pinker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggested that killing newborns is OK because infants don't have "an ability to reflect upon [themselves] as a continuous locus of consciousness, to form and savor plans for the future, to dread death and to express the choice not to die."

Hmmm. If "locus of consciousness" is the standard, shouldn't lots of adults also be considered expendable? Our nominees for liquidation: Quentin Tarantino, Johnnie Cochran, RuPaul, Barney the Dinosaur, Jerry Springer and the editors who decided to print Pinker's article.

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Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Teens Sniffing Human Ashes to Get High! Warning: Someone May Be Snorting Your Grandmother!" (Weekly World News)

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Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at roy.rivenburg@latimes.com.

Sources: Wireless Flash, Adweek

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