Times Staff Writer

Quote of the Day: From Chicago Sun-Times columnist Zay N. Smith: "Designer Ralph Lauren, whose Polo fashion line has nothing to do with polo, has sued Polo, the magazine of the U.S. Polo Assn., which has everything to do with polo, saying it has no right to use the word polo, which, the laws being what they are these days, it may very well not."

Smith also uncovered new scientific evidence that the end of the world is near. The latest portents of the apocalypse:

* Gladys Knight plans to record a CD that includes two songs by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah.

* This is National Accordion Week.

I Can't Believe It's Not a Cliche: It's time to retire that overused axiom about the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence and replace it with something more obtuse, like "The butter is always skinnier on the other side of the Mississippi." According to the California Cheese and Butter Assn., East Coast-churned cream is sold in long, almost hot dog-shaped sticks, whereas Western butter comes in shorter, squat blocks. The difference dates to the 1940s, when margarine debuted in stick form. West Coast dairymen liked the new spread's stockier shape and began packaging butter the same way. Eastern dairies stuck with the anorexic look.

Confessionals R Us: We knew something like this would eventually happen. We reread an Off-Kilter column after it rolled off the presses last week and felt a twinge of guilt. Believe it or not, we do have a conscience, although we're thinking of having it surgically removed, like several movie and TV executives we've heard about. Until then, the dang thing kicks in every now and then, and we feel compelled to apologize. Today, we regret getting a little mean about would-be Gov. Al Checchi's hair. Seriously. Sorry, Al. We should have tossed more grenades at Stepford candidate Jane Harman. As for Gray Davis and Dan Lungren, well, we kind of like them, but we intend to whip both at the polls Tuesday with our write-in campaign. In fact, we're so certain of victory that we're taking a few days off to celebrate. OK, actually, we're fleeing the U.S. to avoid National Accordion Week. But we'll be back June 10, God willing.

Furry Lifesavers Department: An Ohio life insurance company says it now offers discount rates to some customers who have pets. Based on research showing pet owners are less susceptible to high blood pressure and heart disease, Midland Life Insurance believes being around animals is sort of like not smoking cigarettes.

We have just one comment: The company's underwriters obviously don't read the Weekly World News. See below.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Story: We swear we don't usually like toilet humor, but we almost spit up a pancreas laughing at a recent Weekly World News article on the death of a German zookeeper. The "heartbreaking tale of constipation and tragedy" began when Friedrich Riesfeldt fed 22 doses of animal laxatives to a constipated elephant named Stefan. Folks, don't try this at home. According to WWN, "The plugged-up pachyderm finally let fly and suffocated his keeper under 200 pounds of poop." Apparently, "the sheer force of the elephant's defecation knocked Riesfeldt to the ground, where he struck his head on a rock and lay unconscious as . . . the beast unloaded on him like a dump truck full of mud."

* Roy Rivenburg's e-mail address is

Contributors: A.J. Flick, American Pet Products Manufacturers Assn.

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