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The Column's Death Be Not Proud, but the Ending Is Still Up for Grabs

March 03, 2000|ROY RIVENBURG

Alarming Trends Bureau: As if Madonna's cover version of "American Pie" weren't depressing enough, now Britney Spears plans to record a cover of the Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" for her next CD, according to the London Sun.

Good News for Joyce Brothers Fans: One of the creepiest tasks in journalism is writing advance obituaries on celebrities--especially when the person doesn't die when you say they will and you have to kill them yourself and try to make it look "natural."

Equally strange is writing about your own demise, which is what we'll be doing on March 31. In case you missed our previous announcement, Off-Kilter has received its death sentence. Apparently, someone high on the food chain inadvertently read the comics page a few days ago and realized we were here.

Oh well. As a Catholic, we believe that when God closes one door, he opens another, although sometimes it's the emergency exit on a plane cruising at 30,000 feet and you don't have a parachute.

Actually, the worst part is trying to figure out what to write for our final column. It's similar to the dilemma "Seinfeld" faced: How do you end a column about nothing?

Do we have our time-traveling journalist perish in a time-machine crash a la Col. Henry Blake in "MASH"? Do we file one last report about the worldwide animal revolt? Or do we publish our closing column on March 29 and then wait for readers to fax in pictures of Bic lighters before doing an encore on March 31?

We're open to suggestions. Reader Logan Runger requests a final installment of stupid lyrics to otherwise decent rock songs, such as Elton John's "Amoreena," which contains this amazing insight: "And when it rains, the rain falls down." We could also print more misheard lyrics (such as the person who thought the refrain in the Beatles' "Ticket to Ride" was "She's got a chicken to ride").

Or we could defy expectations and excerpt great lyrics, like this verse from Joni Mitchell's "The Same Situation": "Still I sent up my prayer, wondering where it had to go, with heaven full of astronauts, and the Lord on death row. . . ."

We have no idea what it means, but it's one of our favorites.

Other options include a backward column that can only be read when held up to a mirror, a heartfelt tribute to Regis Philbin or something totally out of character, such as reprinting--verbatim--a scientific paper titled "Aspirin Inhibition and Acetylation of the Plant Cytochrome P450 in Endoperoxide H Synthase."

Then again, maybe we should spend every waking hour slaving over our final column--like Jack Nicholson's character in "The Shining"--and turn in something like this:

All Work and No Play Bureau: All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy. All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy.

"All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy."

All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy. All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy. All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy. All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy:

* All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy.

* All work and no play makes Off-Kilter a dull boy.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "All Work and No Play Makes Off-Kilter a Dull Boy!" (Weekly World News)

Unpaid informants: Baird Jones, Joe Price, Meghan McLaughlin. E-mail Off-Kilter at roy.rivenurg@latimes.com. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays until April.

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