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January 23, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Final Exits Department: Here at Off-Kilter, we're always on the lookout for new and improved ways to die, especially since our favorite supermarket tabloid just informed us that the end of the world is scheduled to commence in June and we're all doomed.

Today, we bring you three of the latest burial innovations:

* For football fans, a Michigan company called Oak Grove International is marketing fiberglass caskets emblazoned with university logos. We're not quite sure why a company named Oak Grove makes stuff out of fiberglass, but we can tell you its custom coffins are ideal for diehard fans of Texas A&M, Ohio State, Alabama's Crimson Tide, the University of Tennessee and the Arkansas Razorbacks. Personally, we're not sold on this idea. We think sports fans should be buried in a fiberglass BarcaLounger.

* Another option, from Houston-based York Group Inc., is an off-white casket with a special coating on which mourners write final messages with permanent markers. It's sort of like when you break a bone and everyone signs your cast, except this way you don't get to see what they write and, unfortunately, this "cast" never comes off.

* Finally, in Stamford, Conn., a deceased golfer is having his ashes scattered on his favorite course. His widow originally buried the remains along a fairway near the ninth hole, without permission, but a dog dug up the plastic-and-tinfoil "urn." Last week, she confessed to police, and course officials were sympathetic, according to the Associated Press. They said she could try again, anywhere but on greens or tees.

Luxury Room Service: How many times has this happened to you? You're in a hotel room and you want to meditate, so you dial room service and ask the operator to send up a yogi. Usually, you're out of luck--or someone mistakenly delivers a hoagie, but those days are coming to an end. At the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, guests can now order a room-service yoga master, who arrives with CD player and Indian classical music, for $85 an hour. According to U.S. News & World Report, other hotels have also added unusual items to their phone-in menus. Seattle's Four Seasons offers an on-call acupuncturist and pet therapist. Singapore's Ritz-Carlton will dispatch a butler to draw an old-fashioned bubble bath, complete with rubber duck, for $14. And San Francisco's Nob Hill Lambourne Hotel has a room-service psychologist. The $2-a-minute fee can be billed to your room.

Dead Letter Bin: In response to our item Monday about the deer that barged into a Vermont motel room and got locked in the bathroom, correspondent Phil Frick theorized that the animal wanted to check the accuracy of the toilet-seat night-light target beam that we also wrote about that day. Phil could be onto something, but we'll never know, because the motel didn't have a room-service animal therapist to analyze the situation.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Dinosaurs Cracked the Sound Barrier . . . Millions of Years Before the U.S. Air Force Did in 1947!" (Weekly World News)

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

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