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Praise From Loyal Readers Includes Sincere Wish for a Timely Demise

March 13, 2000|ROY RIVENBURG

Going Postal: The accolades keep pouring in for Off-Kilter. For example, reader Jenny Cosgrove said she hoped we would follow the example of Charles Schulz and die before our final column. Thanks for your support, Jenny.

Another reader, fellow humor columnist David Allen of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, wrote: "Your crowning glory may have been your 1998 investigative report regarding the long-mysterious lyric in Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' ('R-E-S-P-E-C-T, take care of TCB'). If you did nothing else for humanity--and, frankly, you probably didn't, but wasn't that the point?--you solved a riddle that has puzzled mankind for 30 years."

In other heartwarming mail, reader Bon Mambo Racine Sans Bout Sa Te La Daginen (and we thought "Rivenburg" was unwieldy) blasted us for "negative stereotyping" of the voodoo religion in a column that said toy dolls and action figures modeled after celebrities could be converted into voodoo dolls: "This is nothing more than a cheap shot intended to boost circulation by objectifying and persecuting members of a minority religious tradition."

Yes, circulation did soar that day, as it always does when Off-Kilter objectifies and persecutes minority religious traditions. Another voodoo follower noted that voodoo dolls are mostly a Hollywood invention. OK, then explain the stabbing pains in our torso and head since the column appeared.

We also endeared ourselves to numerous Bee Gees fans by mentioning that our time-traveling journalist recently got stuck in the 1970s and later had to undergo electroshock therapy to "control the Bee Gees flashbacks." A reader named Julie snarled: "I can't believe you could make such an insensitive comment. The Bee Gees are the most amazing and versatile songwriters ever to live!"

Ever?? Aren't you forgetting about Kool and the Gang?

On another topic, William Heaton slammed a December column in which various celebrities were nominated for Playboy's playmate of the millennium, including Betty Rubble, Richard Simmons and former FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover, dressed in a stunning sequined evening gown. "The photograph of Hoover that ran with the column caught my attention," Heaton wrote. "I expected a bit of information of interest, enlightenment or social redeeming value."

Obviously, Mr. Heaton was unfamiliar with our work.

Finally, reader Mojo Smith asked if we were joking when we said that most newspaper columns are tested on focus groups before publication and sometimes rewritten if preview audiences don't like the ending. It's true. For example, we recently had to rewrite a column on the assassination of John F. Kennedy because focus groups thought the part about JFK dying was "a downer."

So instead we had JFK live, get impeached for having an affair with Marilyn Monroe, and then Jackie moved to New York and ran for U.S. Senate.

Random Facts Bureau: "Wheel of Fortune" letter turner Vanna White says her favorite vowel is the letter "E."

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Real-Life Stephen King Horror Story! Severed Head Takes Two Puffs of Cigarette--After Being Decapitated in a Car Wreck!" (Weekly World News)

Another tobacco-related death.

Unpaid Informants: Stephanie Goodman, Wireless Flash News Service. E-mail Off-Kilter at roy.rivenburg@latimes.com. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, which is our subtle way of objectifying and persecuting Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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