Cloudy Crystal Ball Department: In our tireless effort to bring you tomorrow's news today, we wanted to let you know about a book of predictions for the next millennium titled "Predictions for the Next Millennium" (Andrews McMeel).
It contains soothsaying from 250 celebrities and world leaders, including Kato Kaelin, Manuel Noriega and ex-Beatle George Harrison. Most of the forecasts are snoozers, but we did find a few entertaining ones.
For example, Mario Andretti envisions "auto racing on Mars before the year 3000." And Newt Gingrich predicts "permanent colonies on asteroids" by 2100.
Actor Daniel J. Travanti offers the dopiest comment, saying he hopes humans in the next millennium will realize that "our place on Earth is to protect everything [including] dirt and microbes." Perhaps Travanti will form a virus and bacteria rights group to lead the way?
Most of the other prognosticators submitted boring drivel about cures for cancer or an end to war. There was also a heavy dose of New Age psychobabble, such as Kenny and Julia Loggins' statement that earthlings might "destroy ourselves in a series of non-actions resulting in an ecological self-annihilation followed by physical self-destruction in the form of wars brought on by collective denial and self-hate."
After choking down that one, we had no choice but to turn to the Weekly World News for a list of Nostradamus predictions for 1999, which included:
* Dogs and cats will speak to their masters and fish will walk upon the land before the end of the year.
* The Bible's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse will be spotted in Washington--just days before the president is shot and killed while jogging in a park.
We're hoping you have some funnier predictions because we have a stockpile of prizes to unload. Send your forecast for the next millennium--in 40 words or fewer--by fax, (213) 237-4712, e-mail (see end of column) or regular mail to Roy Rivenburg's Off-Kilter, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053. Contest deadline is Dec. 14.
Include your name, address, phone--and prize preferences from the following list: a Muhammad Ali action figure, a hand-held electronic trivia game, a NASCAR Barbie, a National Geographic book on perfume, a kit to make chewing gum, a book of word games, a book of cool Batman comic art, a hand-held electronic Monopoly game, a guide to obscure but influential rock bands, a CD of Christmas tunes sung by animals, a compendium of restaurant recipes, a book on cows, electric-chair T-shirts, a cassette of "greatest hits" from the last two millenniums (including a pre-Van Morrison "Gloria," as in "excelsis Deo"), "Italian Cooking for Dummies" or a CD of frog sounds.
We also have several "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus" board games. Personally, we think author John Gray's "wisdom" is suspect, but since Mattel was kind enough to donate the games, we'll ship them to any winners who want one.
All entries become property of the L.A. Times.
Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Pope Will Blast Off in 1999! At 78, Aging Pontiff Plans to Be the Next Senior Citizen in Space!" (Weekly World News)
OK, but how will they fit his hat inside the spacesuit?
Roy Rivenburg's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.