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Off-Kilter

October 06, 1998|ROY RIVENBURG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Philosophical Question of the Day: From Chicago columnist Zay N. Smith: "Why aren't there 10 days in National Metric Week?"

Government Intelligence Bureau: Foreigners who make frequent business trips to the U.S. can now speed up their wait at customs by enrolling in a program called INSPASS. Among the questions on the application form: "Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage, or in terrorist activities, or genocide?"

Fortunately, most terrorists, spies and mass killers are scrupulously honest, so this should weed out lots of troublemakers.

Loser of the Week: Our latest award goes to Washington's ever-expanding roster of verbal gymnasts, for their newest creative contributions to the English language.

* "Alone": Being with one or more persons, including possibly a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium, depending on which definition sounds better to the grand jury. (Bill Clinton)

* "Youthful indiscretion": A five-year adulterous affair with a married mother of three that begins at age 40. (Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill.) What's next? "That whole Tate-LaBianca thing was just a youthful indiscretion," said Mr. Manson.

* "Accepting full responsibility": Fathering a son out of wedlock, not listing your name on the birth certificate, sending belated child-support payments and never seeing the boy. (Sen. Dan Burton, R-Ind.)

* "Sordid spectacle": What you call the president's affair, but not your own affair, because yours happened while you were divorced, which makes it OK. And never mind that the person you cheated with wasn't single. If you're a Republican, it doesn't count. (Sen. Helen Chenoweth, R-Idaho)

Last but not least is the president's use of the term "sexual relations," which prompted Jay Leno to reevaluate his own marriage and announce: "According to Clinton's definition, technically, I'm still a virgin."

The Hair Shopping Network: A lock of hair from King Louis XVI sold at auction for $5,536, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Random Statistics Department: Percentage of American men between the ages of 25 and 45 who own a pair of Dockers: 70.

Bumper Sticker Patrol: "You're driving a car. It isn't a phone booth, a beauty parlor or a restaurant."

Best Supermarket Tabloid Story: Being a demon means never having a nice day, according to the Weekly World News, which has just reported the "first-ever suicide by a demon from hell" (as opposed to, say, a demon from the French Riviera).

An expert who examined the body, which was found hanging from a tree in South Africa, said, "The life of a demon is not an easy one to bear. They spend every waking hour looking for and encouraging all that is dark, ugly and unpleasant. How can they keep from being bitter and unhappy? I'm just surprised that demon suicides aren't more frequent."

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

Unpaid Informants: Christopher Reynolds, Playboy, Kristi Campbell

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