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Where There Are Men in Black, We May Come Across Extraterrestrials

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Campaign Madness: Last week’s Republican presidential debate could have been a ratings blockbuster, but the moderators blew their chance to liven things up. For example, instead of asking Sen. John McCain only once about his alleged explosive temper, they should have kept asking him about it--on every single question--until he finally flipped out and punched someone.

And they should have given George W. Bush another pop quiz on foreign leaders like the one he recently flunked.

Moderator: The prime minister of England is (a) Tony Blair, (b) Tony Bennett, (c) Tony the Tiger, (d) Tiger Woods, (e) Monty Python.

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Bush: I’m going to use one of my lifelines on this. (Phones his father.) OK, I’ll choose (a) Tony Blair.

Moderator: Is that your final answer?

McCain: Would you stop saying “Is that your final answer” to everyone? It’s ticking me off.

Moderator: What are you gonna do about it, Sen. McCain, huh? You want a piece of me? Huh?

McCain: Don’t make me come over there.

(Suddenly, Scully and Mulder from “The X-Files” leap onstage.)

Scully: This question is for Sen. Orrin Hatch. Sir, in a 1994 Weekly World News article headlined “12 U.S. Senators Are Space Aliens,” you were accused of being from another planet. Is it true?

Hatch: I am from the planet Remulac. (Pulls mask off his face, revealing he is actually . . . Al Gore).

Steve Forbes: (shrieks like a girl).

Gary Bauer: I’m an alien too. (Peels off his face to reveal he is . . . still Gary Bauer).

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Brave New World: Scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of the universe. On Thursday, a team of researchers announced it had deciphered the genetic code of an entire human chromosome--apparently using nothing more than a cereal-box decoder ring.

And now, two more astounding discoveries, both 100% true:

* Putting a miniature Slinky inside the lungs of a cancer patient can help unblock bronchial passages, according to research at the University of Florida.

* Listening to music by Yanni causes people to eat more slowly. According to a study at Fairfield University in Connecticut, music affects chewing rates. If a fast tune is played, people chomp at a rate of 4.4 bites a minute. But mellow music brings the gnashing speed down to 3.83 bites a minute.

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Alarming Musical Trends: Madonna has recorded a version of Don McLean’s “American Pie,” according to People magazine.

And, in other alarming musical news, comedian Rodney Dangerfield has recorded a gospel song, according to Wireless Flash News Service.

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TV Listing of the Week: From Richard Polito of the Marin Independent Journal: “Interview With a Vampire” (1994). “Tom Cruise is a bloodsucker who drains the life from everything around him. In this movie, he plays a vampire.”

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R.I.P.: Some sad news. Veteran quiz show host Gene Rayburn died a week ago. The longtime emcee of “The Match Game” will have a tombstone that reads: “Gene (blank) Rayburn. Born in (blank) 1918. Died Nov. 29, 1999. May he rest in (blank).”

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Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: “Animal Rights Nuts Selling Pet Clothes Made From Human Skin! ‘People Wear Fur Coats and Animal Skins--Why Can’t Animals Wear People Skins?’ ” (Weekly World News)

Unpaid Informants: Ann Harrison, Wireless Flash News Service, San Francisco Chronicle. E-mail Off-Kilter at roy.rivenburg@latimes.com. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and (blank).


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