Times Staff Writer

TV Listing of the Week: From Rick Polito of the Marin Independent Journal: "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first woman she meets, then teams up with three complete strangers to kill again."

It's a plot summary for "The Wizard of Oz."

From Water Closet to Water Park: Every time we think we've finally run out of material for this column, along comes something like the luxury bathroom. According to Newsweek, people are now spending $50,000 and up to transform the traditional toilet, sink and shower into a palace complete with fireplaces, waterfall spas, built-in stereo systems, original artwork, mosaic tile floors and $246 Bacarat crystal faucet knobs. In well-heeled Rancho Santa Fe, for instance, one couple recently built a 1,600-square-foot bathroom with floor-to-ceiling bookcases, three TVs, two whirlpool tubs, a pair of toilets, a bidet and a steam shower big enough for eight.

Others opt for such innovations as home urinals, self-flushing toilets and storm-cloud-size shower heads that are 18 inches in diameter and have 60 jets. The El Nino-esque shower heads cost as much as $7,000.

Rinse and Spin Department: The bathroom isn't the only area of the house with unusual goings-on. According to a survey by TumbleWash (a consortium of New England utility companies), the laundry room may be even weirder. Some examples:

* A Vermont woman uses her washer to scrub cucumbers before pickling.

* A Cape Cod man makes gin in his washer.

* A Vermont couple claim their most enjoyable sex occurs on top of a running washing machine.

* A Boston family uses the washer to clean massive quantities of spinach.

* Assorted people fill washer tubs with ice and use them to store beer and soda for parties.

Apocalypse Soon Department: As if we needed further proof of the decline of Western civilization, our friend Bob Bennett reports that after watching the American Film Institute's show on all-time greatest movies, he went to a Blockbuster Video store in north Long Beach to rent the No. 1 film--"Citizen Kane"--to show to his son. Unfortunately, Orson Welles' masterpiece wasn't available. But not because someone had checked it out. The store simply didn't carry it--for rental or purchase. Happily, it did have a copy or two of "Booty Call."

Return to Sender Bureau: As Off-Kilter careens toward its six-month anniversary on July 5, we want to thank the 200-plus readers who have sent us notes of encouragement and praise, although we're a little alarmed at how many of you are convicted felons, mental patients, cult members, former guests on the "Jerry Springer Show" and / or lawyers. Even the letters from "normal" people seem a little quirky. For example, Sharon Craig-Insalata of Redondo Beach says she "enjoys reading Off-Kilter and the obituaries daily." We won't worry until our name appears in both.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: Our latest Weekly World News has apparently been abducted by UFOs, so we had to turn elsewhere for goofball headlines. Unfortunately, we gambled on the Globe, and the best it could do was "Oprah Stole My Wife." We were hoping for something like, "Oprah Stole My $7,000 Shower Head and Bathed With the Ghost of Elvis." Maybe next week.

* Roy Rivenburg's e-mail address is

Contributor: Wireless Flash News Service

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