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Off-Kilter

July 16, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Off-Kilter Goes Down the Toilet: Nobody is going to believe that we normally cringe at toilet humor. Not after today's column, in which every item is somehow latrine-related. But we can't help it. Fate has delivered a harmonic convergence of weird bathroom stories to our desk.

Scary Aquariums Department: In an attempt to revitalize aging downtowns, cities across the nation are building fancy municipal aquariums to bring in tourist dollars. Now you can try the same thing at home. According to John Wilcock of the Montecito Journal, a London company is advertising "illuminated glass toilet tanks filled with plants, pebbles and tropical fish" as the latest feng shui accessory. Feng shui is the ancient Chinese art of arranging environments to create maximum good vibes. The Journal says "fish and flowing water can stimulate the wealth and prosperity aspect of your home."

Toilet tank aquariums offer other bonuses too. When a fish dies, it's just a short trip to the traditional aquatic cemetery. But rest assured that no sea creature will expire before its time. A safety valve blocks the fish from being swept away when the toilet flushes. However, we're not sure this idea would work with tropical fish--unless you own a heated, saltwater toilet.

Synchronized Flushing Department: Baltimore tested the plumbing at its new Ravens football stadium Wednesday night by having hundreds of volunteers simultaneously flush 1,000 of the arena's urinals and toilets. Operation "Super Flush," which was designed to simulate halftime potty-break conditions, was so popular that hundreds of Maryland residents requested passes to take part. Radio stations awarded tickets to lucky callers, and a comedian named Rusty Bidet was hired to emcee the event.

"Baltimore loves stuff like this," said one observer. According to the Baltimore Sun newspaper, the purpose of the mass flushing was to avoid a repeat of what happened at Oriole Park in 1992, when the valves on 30 to 40 toilets burst during the inaugural game and doused fans who were unlucky enough to be using them.

Weird Statistics Bureau: Last week's 10th annual Love Parade brought 1 million techno-pop music fans to Berlin. But apparently there weren't enough toilets to go around. Officials say an estimated 187,000 gallons of urine were splattered onto the bushes of Tiergarten Park. We didn't ask how they calculated such a statistic.

Random Toilet Facts Department: Amaze your friends with the following toilet trivia tidbits:

* San Antonio is home to a toilet seat art museum.

* One of President Millard Fillmore's greatest accomplishments was preventing a war with Peru by negotiating a treaty for the rights to use Peruvian bird droppings for fertilizer.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Toilet Story: In keeping with today's theme, we are obligated to tell you about a somewhat tasteless Weekly World News report that says "the latest fad among superwealthy Californians is hiring professional 'wipers' who clean up after them in the bathroom."

For now, the rich must pay $700 a week for the service, but we think some Baltimore residents might be willing to do it for free.

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

Contributors: Valerie Marz; Wireless Flash; "White House: Confidential," by Gregg Stebben and Jim Morris; Phil Arkow; the Tidy Bowl Man.

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