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Laugh Lines

Off-Kilter

July 23, 1998

Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200: In a clever but somewhat misguided publicity stunt, the makers of Monopoly are asking fans to help choose the first new game token since 1950.

Right now, players move around the board with a tiny metal thimble, cannon, race car, top hat, Scottish terrier, flatiron, battleship or shoe. Hasbro, parent company of Parker Brothers, also claims there is a wheelbarrow and a horse-and-rider token, but nobody we know has ever seen the horse, and only a couple recall a wheelbarrow.

In any case, the world's best-selling board game--which has been translated into 26 languages, including Croatian and Arabic--clearly needs an update. Unfortunately, Hasbro has limited the choices for a new token to a biplane, a bag of cash or a piggy bank.

This is unacceptable. Before Hasbro even thinks about a new game piece, it ought to modernize the old ones. For example, the Scottish terrier should be put to sleep and replaced by the Taco Bell Chihuahua, the race car should be scrapped for a white Ford Bronco and the shoe should be converted into a Nike with "the pump." Also, instead of a battleship, we suggest a replica of the Titanic, complete with a microscopic frozen Leonardo DiCaprio.

Another possibility is a new Chance card with Kenneth Starr saying, "Go directly to jail. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200 campaign contributions from a Buddhist temple." Or maybe the jail square should be replaced by an anger-management workshop.

As for the new game token, how about a miniature metal cell phone, slot machine, TV remote control, flying saucer, hooker or Viagra pill? Cast your vote before Sept. 30 by calling Hasbro at (888) 81-TOKEN or visiting the Monopoly Web site, http://.monopoly.com. The winning token will be added to games in 1999. So far, the bag of money is in the lead.

Weird Holidays Department: Cancel that Hawaii vacation! The Great Texas Mosquito Festival commences today in Clute, Texas, with an inflatable 25-foot-tall mosquito wearing a cowboy hat and boots.

Anal Retentive Humans Department: From a letter to the editor in the San Francisco Chronicle: "While trying to listen to the quiet strains of Giya Kancheli's Symphony No. 4, I counted 158 coughs from the audience."

In similar fashion, a reader of Linn's Stamp News recently expressed dismay about a place setting depicted in the new Emily Post stamp: "Proper etiquette would place the salad fork outside the dinner fork."

Quote of the Week: From Parade columnist Walter Scott, when asked what he thought of alleged psychic James Van Praagh's claim that he can communicate with the dead: "If it were possible, you can be sure AT&T would be doing it."

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "I Was Sexually Molested by a Giant Octopus!" (Weekly World News)

This could start a whole new genre of romance novels. Or maybe the frisky mollusk could become a Monopoly game piece.

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

Unpaid Informants: Baltimore Sun, Susanna Timmons, Allie Borden, Ann Harrison, Valerie Marz, Martin Miller, Janet Cromley, Wireless Flash News Service, the Realist, Chicago Sun-Times

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