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Off-Kilter

January 21, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

A Cemetery on the Moon? We don't usually have lunch with the riffraff who send us e-mail, but we couldn't resist an invitation from the founders of Tabloid, an Internet news service whose stories sound like something out of a supermarket weekly, but which are actually true. Or so they claim. Guided by the motto, "Headlines must be extremely large," Tabloid's staff scours the globe for stories that are too weird for most of the media. Aided and abetted by wire service reporters who pass along tales their bosses won't touch, Tabloid posts a daily compendium of bizarre people, events and science at http://www.tabloid.net.

In some cases, such as last week's frenzy over Britain's daredevil escapee pigs, Tabloid's discoveries eventually turn up in major U.S. newspapers. Others never see the light of day. One of the strangest was a dispatch from Shingo, Japan, where Jesus is supposedly buried on a garlic farm. People in the tiny village believe Christ escaped crucifixion, walked across Siberia, sailed to Japan, married and lived 73 more years. The town's elders tend his "grave" and some residents claim to be his descendants.

Another recent story involves the furor over NASA sending a vial of scientist Eugene Shoemaker's cremated ashes to the moon aboard the Prospector satellite. Navajos say it is sacrilegious to place human remains on the lunar orb.

Now that we know Tabloid meets our rigorous journalistic standards, we'll include their reports from time to time.

(Your Name Here) Heaving Bosoms Department: A few weeks ago, Vice President Al Gore hinted that the novel "Love Story" was based on his real-life romance with Tipper. Nobody believed him, partly because his wife--unlike the book's leading lady--never died. So Gore recanted. But we found a way he can save face. A Virginia company, Personal Passions, is selling personalized romance novels. Customers send in 50 details--including name, job, favorite drink and physical description--and the information is plugged into a thin paperback called "Emerald Seduction," by Desiree Lamour. The Valentine's price is $59.95. Call (800) 366-1541, or order at a discount via the Internet at http://www.PersonalPassions.com.

Edible Canines: Fluffyville USA plans to market a chocolate Labrador puppy called the President's Buddy, according to the Wall Street Journal. That's probably more tasteful than a chocolate cat. Nobody would want to eat something called the President's Socks.

E-Mailbag: Reader response to Off-Kilter's first two weeks has been gratifying, especially the notes that say we are "an atrocity," "exceedingly insensitive" and "lame." We must concede that's a pretty accurate description of the column. Other comments:

* Allen E. Kahn e-mailed about our Jan. 15 trigger-happy dogs item, saying it proves the National Rifle Assn.'s theory that "Guns don't kill people; dogs kill people."

* We also got several scoldings for our Jan. 16 report on Paul McCartney's alleged conversations with God. We said the real God would have made McCartney publicly repent for such tunes as "Silly Love Songs." One reader insisted the Lord would "probably like" McCartney's sappy post-Beatles oeuvre. So we double-checked. He doesn't. He also said the Spice Girls will have a lot to answer for in the afterlife.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Mom Eats Spaghetti--Through Her Nose!" (Weekly World News)

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

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