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Laugh Lines

Off-Kilter

July 02, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Chinese Misfortune: President Clinton's advisors must be crazy. What's the point of sending the guy to China if all he's going to talk about is boring stuff like human rights and economic growth? Instead, he should be confronting Beijing about the sorry state of Chinese fortune cookies.

Never mind that most of the cookies are made in California. We need a symbolic gesture. Millions of Americans depend on these edible crystal balls for guidance on important decisions regarding love, business and lucky Lotto picks. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult. The straightforward predictions of old have been replaced by annoying smiley faces and vague aphorisms.

But there are a few holdouts. A San Francisco company called Misfortune Cookies packs its doughy confections with such prophecies as:

* You will buy a talking parrot. It will testify in court against you.

* Look forward to love and marriage, but not with the same person.

* You have already reached your full potential. It's downhill from here on in.

A cheerier set of messages comes from Minneapolis-based Evangelistic Foods, which stuffs Bible verses into its Scripture Cookies. Or, for do-it-yourselfers, there's "The Fortune Cookie Book" (Cumberland House, 1997), complete with cookie recipes, legends and 500 ready-made sayings, including:

* Today's oak tree is yesterday's nut that held its ground.

* If three people say you are an ass, put on a bridle.

* If your mind goes blank, be sure to turn off the sound.

* A girl worth kissing is not easily kissed.

* One joy will scatter a hundred griefs.

* Give unasked and you give double.

* All the treasures of the earth cannot bring back one lost moment.

* The best mirror is an old friend.

Money to Burn Department: A cigarette butt that was puffed by Bette Davis in 1960 sold at auction Monday for $345.

Understatement of the Week Award: Jaleel White, who played Urkel in the TV embarrassment "Family Matters," said in a recent magazine interview that if he ever portrays the character again, he hopes somebody will "put a bullet in my head . . . [or] call Dr. Kevorkian."

Best Supermarket Tabloid Tall Tale: "Bible Scholar Says Heaven Is Full . . . but Contractor Vows He'll Build an Addition if God Will Let Him In!" (Weekly World News)

Fortunately, the dead won't be put out to pasture during construction. According to another Weekly World News article, headlined "Working Stiffs," top companies in the Far East are now hiring corpses to replace live workers. "These people don't need paychecks or restrooms--and they're dying to work," explained one economist. According to WWN, the bodies are specially treated to prevent decay and then used as movie extras, security guards or mannequins. "Of course, dead workers are not suitable for all types of jobs," one executive said, "but it's surprising how many positions they can fill successfully."

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

Contributors: Premiere Radio, TV Guide, Wireless Flash News Service. This column is for Cathi Douglas.

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