Just Try to Worm Out of Making a Statement After a Few Good Lix

For the adventurous sucker-lover, we now present Hotlix. It's sugar-free. It's got a hot, tangy taste. And it's got a dead worm in it.

Say what?

You know, like the dead worm at the bottom of Gusano Rojo ("Red Worm") mescal, that tequila-like firewater from Mexico made famous by the villain in the movie "Urban Cowboy."

Sucker-maker Larry Peterman, owner of SS Lollipop in Pismo Beach, figures it's time for a macho sucker, a confection with a kick. He grows the worms in his spare bedroom.

Peterman introduced the worm-sucker in January, branching out from banana, cinnamon and jalapeno flavors.

Not cheap: $1.98 each. Advertised as "The Tequila Sucker With a Worm" (actually it's booze-free because of state health regulations).

Interest soared when Arsenio Hall spent his entire show licking the sucker and eyeing the worm, warily. I caught up to Hotlix at a candy stand at Lindbergh Field.

"A big seller?" I venture.

"Tourists, mostly," the clerk responds.

Probably heat-crazed Zonies, I think.

Peterman denies any antisocial intent:

"It's just a fun thing. I'm not trying to hook anybody on booze or anything. It's for adults who are interested in making a statement."

Making a statement?

"Sure, some people want to be different. What could be more different than candy with a worm inside?"

Although SS Lollipop mostly sells its goods in Southern California, the splash on Arsenio Hall brought orders from such worm-eating centers as Slick, Okla., and Dillsboro, N.C.

Peterman even has a toll-free number: 800-EAT-WORM.

He says the worms have a walnut taste. Don't look to me for confirmation.

My contract doesn't say anything about eating worms.

Awaiting SEAL of Approval

A city out there.

* When an amphibious invasion of Kuwait looked imminent, Navy SEALs from Coronado had concerns about swimming long distances ("aquatic delivery option") with their heavy gear.

An urgent order was relayed home: send flotation devices immediately.

Within hours, 37 boogie boards at $51 each were purchased from a Coronado surf shop and rushed to SEALs afloat in the Persian Gulf.

Now the Navy is deciding if the boards should become standard issue.

* Of the 250 mayors in San Diego for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, all but two of the out-of-towners are staying at the U.S. Grant or Omni hotel.

Big-time Democrats Art Agnos of San Francisco and Richard M. Daley of Chicago are staying at the Hotel del Coronado, at the invitation of M. Larry Lawrence, also a big-time Democrat.

Lawrence is hosting a fund-raiser for Agnos. Daley will be late; he's been delayed by today's civic celebration for the NBA champion Bulls.

* Look for the mayors' conference to endorse the Brady Bill, the gun control bill due for a crucial vote soon in the U.S. Senate.

* The royal stuff.

Prince Philip of England and the King of Spain are both expected in San Diego for next year's America's Cup.

* Libertarianism meets existentialism.

Richard Boddie, candidate for the Libertarian nomination for president, comes to San Diego soon to talk to the party's local chapter.

His campaign motto: Dare to Be.

Funny, but There Are No Losers

News you can crow about.

Here's how three newspapers in San Diego and one in Escondido reported the same event:

* "Tribune Tops County Press Awards."

* "Times, Tribune Each Take Newspaper Writing Awards."

* "San Diego Union Gets 21 Awards in Professional Journalist Contest."

* "Times Advocate Wins 13 Awards in Contest."

I could tell you which paper used which headline, but you've probably figured that out.

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