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Off-Kilter

June 18, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | Times Staff Writer

Slow Motion Department: Psychologists say time seems to speed up as you get older--unless you're thrown into an extremely stressful or life-threatening situation, such as being handcuffed to the stage at a John Tesh concert. In those instances, the body goes on red alert, increasing your heart rate and pumping adrenaline. As your internal clock accelerates, the external world seems to slow down, giving you the illusion of having more time to react. How much more time? According to Colors magazine, racer Craig Breedlove (who once hit 675 mph trying to break the world land-speed record) experiences such an altered perception of time that it took him an hour and a half to describe an 8.7-second crash.

Two Thumbs Down: Everyone seems to be grumbling about the American Film Institute's choices for America's top 100 movies. Actually, we weren't surprised that lots of our personal favorites didn't make the list ("The Bishop's Wife," "All That Jazz," "Field of Dreams," "The Natural," "Thin Blue Line," "The Rapture" and "Miracle on 34th Street," to name a few), but we were bugged at the short shrift given to comedies. So here's our solution: It's too late to fix the AFI list, but maybe we can convince the Academy Awards to create an Oscar category for best comedy. Actually, we're not sure how to make the academy listen to us, unless we take over a major studio and threaten to release more Pauly Shore films. But if you agree with us, drop a line, and we'll forward the letters. It's time to honor great comedy, which is harder to do than great drama. In the meantime, we salute "Groundhog Day," "When Harry Met Sally," "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," "Airplane," "L.A. Story," "City Slickers," "Stripes," "Silver Streak," "Ruthless People," "Animal House" and "The In-Laws."

Also, we can say one nice thing about the AFI show: Our favorite part was when they ran the interview with Ted Turner, Mr. Colorization, in black and white.

English 101: Shakespeare makes us puke. Not literally, but he did invent the word. According to a new book, "Coined by Shakespeare" (Merriam-Webster), the Bard was the first writer to use such terms as "gossip" (which meant "to make merry" in "Comedy of Errors"), "coldblooded," "wild goose chase," "shooting star," "luggage," "misquote," "alligator" and "skim milk" (which appeared in "Henry IV" to describe lack of character).

The list goes on, but authors Jeffrey McQuain and Stanley Malless apparently missed several of Shakespeare's other contributions to modern English. For example, Off-Kilter's team of linguistic experts discovered that the 17th century playwright also coined such expressions as "milk mustache" (from an obscure Shakespearean advertising campaign, "Dost thou got milk?"), yo quiero (which appeared in early drafts of Juliet's dialogue, "Romeo, Romeo, yo quiero Romeo") and "toupee" (first used in Hamlet's soliloquy about medieval hair loss, "Toupee or not toupee? That is the question").

Best Supermarket Tabloid Tall Tale: The sinking of the Titanic surely ranks as one of history's greatest tragedies. Not only did it kill Leonardo DiCaprio, but now the Weekly World News reports that 300 Eskimos who were camping on the iceberg also perished. Most died instantly; however, because time seems to slow down in such situations, psychologists believe the Eskimos' final seconds seemed as long as James Cameron's film and possibly even included previews of upcoming movies.

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

Contributors: Ann Harrison, Wireless Flash News Service

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