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Dogs and Monsters: A Dramatic Story of Civic Law and Disorder

May 03, 1999|ROY RIVENBURG

Apocalypse Watch: Here's yet another sign that civilization as we know it is on the ropes. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that officials in Urbana, Ill., have repealed a 1954 law that made it illegal for any monster to enter the city.

In other disturbing news, the town of Zion, Ill., has reversed an ordinance that made it a crime to give a lighted cigar to a dog.

Some readers probably are wondering why such laws were ever passed. A better question is: Why are they being deleted? Do the people of Zion now think that dogs are responsible enough to smoke? And why did Urbana cave in to the monster-rights movement? Was the ACLU threatening a discrimination lawsuit? Or did the town's Police Department finally admit it couldn't afford handcuffs big enough to restrain Godzilla or the Blob?

Dead Man Driving: In response to last week's item about President Ulysses S. Grant getting stopped for speeding while driving a horse-drawn carriage in 1886, reader James Ellern writes: "I was astounded to discover that Grant was speeding--or doing anything--in 1886, since he died in 1885."

That's exactly why we printed the story, Mr. Ellern. Even more astounding: The Washington, D.C., cop who made the bust had Grant take a Breathalyzer test (even though the device hadn't been invented yet) and then confiscated the keys to Grant's horse. When Mayor Marion Barry heard about the incident, he had the cop fired.

OK, actually, the 1886 date was just a typo by one of our unpaid informants. Grant really got his speeding ticket in 1868.

Pass the Porch, Dear: Here at Off-Kilter, where we have nothing better to do all day than try to think up millennium stories involving liver pa^te just so we can use the headline "Pa^te Like It's 1999," we know many of you are worried about possible food shortages caused by the Y2K computer bug.

Fortunately, we've found a solution: edible houses. According to the Arizona Daily Star, members of a 4-H Club in Pima County, Ariz., recently built an entire home out of canned goods.

New Meaning for 'Light Beer': A pair of scuba-diving doctors from Pennsylvania has announced plans to create glow-in-the-dark beer and soda pop by reproducing a substance that causes some sea animals to light up underwater.

The physicians claim they have figured out how to clone the harmless blue-green goop and add it to food and other products.

No word on whether the phosphorescent beverages would still glow after passing through the human bladder, but if they do, we predict headlines that use the phrase "Potty Like It's 1999."

Lunatic Fringe Bureau: A psychic in Carlsbad says jazz legend Duke Ellington will be reincarnated as the president of Switzerland.

Confession Department: Off-Kilter wishes to apologize for not revealing that Friday was National Honesty Day. We should have come clean on that at the time.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Female Space Alien Accuses President Clinton of Sexual Misconduct! Bizarre Incident Nearly Sparked an Interstellar War!" (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation, http://www.dumblaws.com, Allison Joyce, Luis Zaragoza, Wireless Flash News Service. Off-Kilter's e-mail address is roy.rivenburg@latimes.com. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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