Times Staff Writer

The Ties That Bind: We aren't too keen on having tight things around our neck, such as nooses, Latrell Sprewell's hands and neckties. But because many of our male readers must wear such implements of carotid bondage to work, we thought we'd tell you about Stonehenge Ltd., a New York City company that has designed ties based on the molecular patterns of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Chicago's Wrigley Field, moon rocks, pizza and famous cocktails (the latter to raise funds for Mothers Against Drunk Driving). Stonehenge's latest project is a line of neckties modeled loosely--very loosely--on artwork by various sports figures.

Well, "artwork" is putting it nicely. Green Bay quarterback Bret Favre produced a scribble that looks vaguely like a Christmas tree, sportscaster Dick Vitale sketched a crude basketball court, San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice drew a scrimmage of Xs and O's, and former New York Knick Willis Reed submitted a kindergarten-quality "landscape" of two trees.

But it's for a charitable cause. A portion of the profits are pledged to go to the V Foundation, which was founded by North Carolina State's late basketball coach Jim Valvano to fund cancer research. The neckties are available locally at Macy's. Fortunately, most bear little or no resemblance to the sports drawings that inspired them.

Best Weather-Related Ad Slogan: Spotted on a bus in Orange County: "Why El Nino Keeps Coming Back--It's the Cheese."

More Virtual Excess: Last week, we told you about a woman making tiny coffins for deceased Tamagotchi virtual pets. Alas, that isn't necessarily the weirdest development in the world of battery-powered toys. Virtual-pet companies are now manufacturing virtual lovers, which players woo with virtual flowers, virtual chocolates, virtual diamonds and virtual dates to virtual karaoke bars.

If all goes well, there's a virtual marriage. Which leads one of our readers (who wished to remain anonymous) to suggest the next inevitable product, the Virtual Ex-Wife. Here's how it works: Throughout the day, the Virtual Ex emits, at random intervals, sarcastic phone-machine messages. These messages cover a wide variety of subjects but have the recurring theme that, somehow, it's always your fault. The Virtual Ex-Wife is kept alive by regular feedings of virtual alimony. The feeding schedule is programmed in at the factory by means of a Virtual Judge chip. Attempts to modify the Virtual Judge chip are extremely expensive as they require a Virtual Attorney unit (sold separately).

Set for release later this year: the Virtual Deadbeat Dad. You buy it, set it down and it's gone.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Field Goal Kicking Granny, 90, Signs Pro Football Contract!" (Weekly World News)

A line of neckties is probably next.

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

Contributor: Chicago Sun-Times

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