Times Staff Writer

Alien Bloops and Blunders: Even extraterrestrials make mistakes. So says retired Air Force Col. Ed Benjamin in a new book about close encounters of the stupid kind. For example, a fighter pilot was reportedly taken aboard a UFO and stripped for a medical examination. But after he was returned to Earth, he discovered that the aliens had somehow goofed up and dressed him in a pair of tight-fitting women's panties instead of his own boxer shorts. (Note: According to Ken Starr's report, President Clinton once used a similar story to explain to Hillary how a pair of women's underwear got into the Oval Office.)

In another case, idiot aliens supposedly returned two Arkansas abductees to the wrong cars. Fortunately, the two men saw each other on the road, pulled over and switched back to the correct vehicles.

When Animals Don't Attack: Columnists sure have been under the gun lately. At the Boston Globe, Patricia Smith was recently canned for fabricating quotes--and then her colleague Mike Barnicle was ousted after accusations that he fictionalized a column about two young cancer patients.

Now, rumors are swirling around other columnists, including Off-Kilter's. We must tell you that we are deeply hurt that anyone would accuse us of making things up. For example, some critics suggest that we fabricated a report that animals around the globe were planning to rise up and overthrow the human race on Labor Day, in honor of the 30th anniversary of "Planet of the Apes."

As evidence, they point out that no animal revolt actually occurred last week. Well, duh. Off-Kilter's courageous expose of the conspiracy destroyed the element of surprise, forcing the creatures to postpone their rebellion. For now.

But stay tuned for further developments.

Weird Polls Department: According to a survey by the National Spa and Pool Institute, 1% of hot tub owners take baths in their spas, 16% think of their whirlpool as a "marriage counselor with bubbles" and at least one woman calls her Jacuzzi a "soul mate."

Mark Your Calendars, Part II: In our haste to get out of town before last week's animal uprising, we neglected to mention that September also brings us National Sleepwalking Day, National Oral Hygiene Week (no Monica Lewinsky jokes, please), National Spanish Green Olive Week, International Housekeepers Week (whose sponsors are urging local dust-mop relay contests), Yugoslav Navy Day, Full Employment Week (enjoy it before the worldwide economic depression hits) and the birthdays of Peter Rabbit and Col. Sanders (who was actually from Indiana, not Kentucky).

In addition, September features an Oatmeal Festival in Texas, during which 1,000 pounds of oatmeal were dropped from an airplane onto festival-goers, and a Bald Is Beautiful convention in North Carolina, at which attendees celebrated the 10th anniversary of Rogaine by blowing out candles on a half-frosted cake.

Shameless Plug Department: Last week, Off-K went on the road with Playboy's "History of the Sexual Revolution" tour. For details (sorry, no bunnies were aboard), see the story on E1.

Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Woman Sues Landlord After Termites Eat Her Wooden Leg!" (Weekly World News)

* Roy Rivenburg can be reached by e-mail at

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Buzz Report

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