Times Staff Writer

Doomed Boats Department: In the mind of comedy writer Valerie Hansen, the movie "Titanic" is a cross between "Romeo and Juliet" and "Poseidon Adventure," minus the presence of Ernest Borgnine. Here at Off-Kilter, we are puzzled by the film's success--in the sense that we haven't figured out a way to cash in on it ourselves. (In college, we published a humor paper called the Daily Titanic, a parody of the official campus news organ, the Daily Titan, but it barely made enough money to buy a six-pack of beer.)

So we were duly impressed when we heard about a San Diego entrepreneur's plan to ride the movie's coattails. In Ocean Beach, an area known as a throwback to the 1960s and a center for fine French cuisine (don't those two things always seem to go together?), an upscale restaurant called Thee Bungalow is dishing up a $150-per-person reenactment of the boat's final meal.

Based on actual menus kept by survivors of the journey (wouldn't a menu be the first thing you'd grab on a sinking ship?), the 11-course feast includes poached salmon, roast duckling, chocolate eclairs, port and "coffee lifeboats."

For added authenticity, at the end of the meal, guests will be thrown into Mission Bay. OK, not really, but the French restaurant will bring in a string quartet, a Titanic historian and extras from the movie. The dinners, scheduled for March 17-22, are booked solid, a spokesman said.

Titanic II: Speaking of big doomed boats, we'd be remiss not to inform you of two recent Weekly World News stories on the Titanic. One claims it wasn't an iceberg that sank the liner. Instead, experts now believe that "someone pulled a gigantic plug" in the ship's hull. Another WWN report carried this headline: "Titanic Survivor Saved Her Pet Beagle--by Disguising Him as a Baby!"

We're thinking that the Ocean Beach restaurant could advertise its Titanic meal with a beagle that spoofs those "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" Chihuahua commercials.

Hamilton-Burr Revisited? Kentucky officials may rewrite the state's 152-year-old oath of office to delete the part about abstaining from dueling. Chicago Sun-Times columnist Zay N. Smith sees an incredible opportunity here: "Mr. Clinton, Mr. Starr, choose your weapons. We could put this behind us right now."

Hawaiian Habits: The best-selling author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" recently found a highly effective way to jeopardize his own livelihood. In November, at a Honolulu fund-raiser for a group seeking a constitutional amendment to ban homosexual marriages, Stephen R. Covey said he was "thrilled to be part of this tremendously important cause." According to the Wall Street Journal, he followed that up with a newspaper interview implying that gay relationships contradict a "natural principle." He started backtracking, however, when word of his remarks spread to some of the companies where he lectures--at upward of $65,000 per appearance--and gay employee groups began urging their bosses to cancel contracts with Covey, the Journal says. The result: Covey's company dashed off letters of apology to at least six of the clients--and averted any cancellations.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Miracle Drink Makes Joggers Glow in the Dark!" (Weekly World News)


* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

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