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In the Future, There'll Be but One Stylish Way to Drive Six Feet Under

May 17, 1999|ROY RIVENBURG

The New Chevy Bon Voyage: Say what you will about the funeral industry (really, go ahead and talk; we're miles away in an office, so we can't hear your incoherent ramblings), but you have to give morticians credit for creativity.

For example, in Ghana, coffins have been built in the shape of a giant lobster, shoe, onion, fish, Mercedes and even a bottle of Beck's beer, according to a report at http://www.ship-of-fools.com.

This got us wondering about future death trends in America, so we sent our time-traveling journalist into the next millennium aboard Caltech's top-secret time machine. He returned with news of the ultimate status symbol, the sport-utility coffin.

Accessories include rear seats that fold down to create 9,000 cubic feet of cargo space (so you can take it all with you); a digital sound system with its own organ music; 22 cup-holders; side-impact air bags to prevent passenger injury during transport; a power sunroof for optional viewing of the deceased; and a V-6 engine with four-wheel drive to eliminate the need for pallbearers.

Election 2000 Update: We'd like to get serious for a moment. . . .

. . .

OK, we're done. Now let's take a look at next year's presidential candidates. In order to help you decide who is the most qualified, Off-Kilter did an in-depth analysis of the personality traits, job experience and religious beliefs most likely to make a great leader.

As it turned out, those criteria don't matter. The deciding factor is whether or not the candidate has a pet. According to U.S. News & World Report, every president since Grover Cleveland has owned an animal, a fact that is not lost on the current crop of Oval Office aspirants.

For example, Ohio Republican John Kasich has an entire Web page devoted to his dog, Penny Bird, who craves Snausages and white wine, and likes to chomp on Tupperware. And Pat Buchanan reserves a seat at all policy meetings for his 14-year-old cat, Gipper.

Steve Forbes would bring two poodles to the White House (reason enough to vote him down, in our opinion), Dan Quayle owns a lab, and George W. Bush has a springer spaniel and a six-toed cat.

Vice President Al Gore, the self-described inventor of the Internet, keeps two dogs, Shiloh and Daisy, whom he assembled from scratch in his laboratory. His rival Bill Bradley is petless. So is Elizabeth Dole, although her late schnauzer, Leader, still has his own Web site, http://www.firstdog.com.

Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain is trying to cover all possible pet bases with a menagerie of 16 animals, including three dogs, four cats, a rabbit and assorted snakes, lizards and tropical fish.

Sky-High Whopper Bureau: Burger King, which recently opened the world's first "fly-thru" restaurant in a London suburb, has now debuted its highest-elevation franchise, located 11,000 feet above sea level in La Paz, Bolivia.

The air is so thin there that the company had to convert its oxygen-dependent flame broiler to electricity and had to modify its soda dispensers.

No word on whether the restaurant will install a "rappel-thru" window for mountain climbers.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "The No. 1 Name for Newborns in Nepal: Andy Griffith!" (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Martin Miller, San Francisco Chronicle, PR Newswire. Off-Kilter's e-mail address is roy.rivenburg@latimes.com. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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