Times Staff Writer

Chicken Little Visits the 21st Century: Apparently not everyone is happy that the milewide asteroid originally believed to be on a collision course with planet Earth is now going to miss us in the year 2028. Journalist Ken Layne, for example, claims the doomsday rock could have been a blessing in disguise.

In a thought-provoking essay appearing on the Internet at, asteroid groupie Layne argues that the specter of global annihilation might have allowed the world to embark on "a 30-year festival of fun." We could all "forget about retirement and stocks and homeownership and cholesterol . . . [and instead] stay up late drinking with our friends, travel the globe, cash out the IRAs, enjoy the books there's never time to read, take up painting, get divorced or get married, quit our pointless jobs and generally live like civilized folks instead of nervous drones."

Then again, maybe the Molotov meteor would have inspired complete chaos and lawlessness, especially as doomsday drew nearer. It's an intriguing topic. So let's rewrite the scenario a bit--from 30 years in the future to five years--and pose the question to readers: What would you, and the rest of the world, do if a killer asteroid was definitely coming in 2003? We'll print the best answers in a future column, especially if they involve the asteroid landing on Kenny G or Michael Bolton.

Mayhem on the Menu: Speaking of death and destruction, Baltimore developer Patrick Turner plans to open a chain of theme restaurants called Crash Cafe, featuring the smoking fuselage of a DC-3, lots of spark-spewing wires, and film clips of train wrecks, exploding buildings and collapsing bridges. According to the Wall Street Journal, the rubble-filled restaurant will debut in Baltimore, then migrate to Los Angeles. The crash motif should "appeal to everybody," Turner told the paper. "Your highest-grossing movies are action movies."

In that spirit, he added, waiters trained as stuntmen might fall off balconies on the way to your table.

Oscar Phobia Department: For those of you dreading the probable deification of "Titanic" at Monday's Academy Awards ceremony, allow us to suggest tuning your computer into eDrive, an Internet service that will be presenting Snubby Awards as part of its live Oscar coverage. The categories include "Film That Most Needed Subtitles Even Though It Was in English" (nominees include "The Full Monty"), "Best Movie By a Chinese Director Who Fled to the U.S. Before the Hong Kong Handover" (believe it or not, there are four nominees, including "Mr. Magoo") and "Best Movie Performance By a 'Friends' Cast Member" (again, four nominees). The Snubbies will be awarded to nominees with the least number of votes.

Cast your anti-ballots at

Interesting Choice of Words Department: Our favorite line of the week comes from U.S. News & World Report's otherwise sobering cover story on funeral industry rip-offs: "In the past five years, funeral prices have risen three times faster than the cost of living."

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Ben Franklin Shocker! He Was a Founding Father, a Signer of the Declaration of Independence--and a Serial Killer!" (Weekly World News)

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

Contributors: Olympia Daily World, Wireless Flash

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