Tabula Rasa Bureau: A recent visitor to our house noticed a pen on our night stand and asked, "Why do you keep a pen by your bed?" Our answer: "In case we get any brilliant ideas in the middle of the night."
She then asked, "What happens when you get a lame idea?"
Answer: "Those go in Off-Kilter."
For example, we are seriously thinking about moving to New York to run for U.S. Senate--and we're encouraging others to do the same. Our theory is that the contest will be more exciting with more outside blood. So, in addition to Hillary Rodham Clinton (official campaign slogan: "It Takes a Greenwich Village"), we'd like to see campaigns by Rep. Barney Frank (slogan: "It Takes the Village People"), Dan Quayle ("It Takes a Village Idiot") and Slobodan Milosevic (mainly so NATO will bomb Congress if he wins).
As for our own platform, it consists of one idea: a proposal to make it illegal for anything invented in this century to be manufactured in the next. Although we realize this would mean outlawing such useful devices as heart defibrillators, airplanes and Thighmasters, we think it'd be worth it to stop the following product:
* Millennium Celebration Cabbage Patch Kids, which are dressed in diapers and a sash, and come with miniature party favors, shiny hats, a baby bottle and a birth certificate dated Jan. 1, 2000.
The other good thing is we'd be able to get rid of the word "jiggy."
Promising Authors Bureau: Writer John Boe tells the San Francisco Chronicle he's working on the Great American Electronic Novel. The book's opening sentence: "Call me E-mail."
Ashes to Fishes: Every time we report on a brilliant new method of burial--whether it's hologram tombstones or cremated ashes being turned into fireworks--we assume it's the last. But every time, we underestimate the ingenuity of the funeral industry.
The latest breakthrough is transforming cremated ashes into underwater reefs. An Atlanta entrepreneur has begun selling Eternal Reefs, which he makes by mixing cremated remains and concrete to form a 3,600-pound artificial reef, which can be dropped into the ocean to create a new ecosystem.
Think of it as an upscale version of Mafia victims being dumped in the East River wearing cement overshoes.
Inventor Don Brawley says the underwater urns cost $850 to $3,200, depending on whether the deceased wants to swim with the fishes solo or join a communal graveyard.
Grammar Improvement Bureau: The correct spelling of Homer Simpson's famous exclamation is "D'oh," according to a report in the New Yorker magazine.
Weird Polls Department: The latest useless research from America's premier social scientists:
* 3% of men wish their bosses would let them work in the nude.
* When women were asked to choose their least desirable celebrity marriage partner, President Clinton topped the list, followed by O.J. Simpson, Dennis Rodman and Donald Trump.
* Marlon Brando's character in "The Godfather" ranked seventh on a survey of ideal movie dads.
Best Supermarket Tabloid Headline: "Psychic Mechanic's Brain Explodes--While He's Using His Mental Powers to Fix 1949 Ford!" (Weekly World News)
Unpaid Informants: Ann Harrison, Wireless Flash News Service, PR Newswire, Susanna Timmons. Off-Kilter's e-mail address is email@example.com. Off-Kilter runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.