Relic From the Golden Age of Television Seems Just a Little Bit Too Colorful

Among the exhibits at the Orange County Fair is a replica of the Ricardos' apartment from the "I Love Lucy" TV show. One problem: Shouldn't it be in black and white, as the show was?

Listen up, aspiring vocalists: Auditions are nearing for the Fluidmaster Flush-Off, with a $1,000 prize going to the performer who can give the best imitation of an emptying toilet.

The recitals are by phone, and the usual jokesters are expected to call when the line--(714) 573-4409--is activated Aug. 1.

"A lot of people call up and just flush their toilets," said Gretchen Kurz, a spokeswoman for Fluidmaster, a maker of toilet repair parts. Kurz pointed out that, unfortunately for contest officials, the advent of cordless phones has given callers more access to their bathrooms.

And has anyone fooled the judges with this tactic?

"We know the sound of toilets," she said. "That's our business."

Advancing to the head of the class: The toilet mimics with the best phoned-in acts will compete in person in the Flush-Off finals at Fluidmaster's headquarters in San Juan Capistrano on Oct. 17. The competition has produced some unusual performances.

"We had one man--a schoolteacher--describe the Coriolis effect: why the water swirls down the drain one way in the Northern Hemisphere [counterclockwise] and the opposite way in the Southern Hemisphere," Kurz said.

Other entrants use a more basic approach.

"One guy wore a toilet seat cover on his shoulders," she said.

Then there was Bill Perron of El Monte, who followed his imitation by affixing a faucet to his head. When he turned it on, a stream of water escaped.

"Don't forget to wash your hands," Perron told the judges.

Celluloud: Just how many ways can cell phone users annoy others? My colleague Steve Emmons described this scene at a Costa Mesa restaurant:

"The phone rings at a table, and a woman answers it. The guy with her says, 'Lemme talk to him.' She shakes her head and keeps talking. He reaches for the phone. She bats his hand away. He says loudly, 'Lemme talk to him!' She turns her back on him. Everyone within earshot was getting very nervous. They simmered down, and no blows were struck."

Emmons added: "But I felt like smacking them both."

Guide to Adventurous Dining: Today's selections (see accompanying):

* A "delicious" plate somewhat akin to finger food (submitted by Joan Thompson of Whittier).

* A $1.6-million mansion filled with "steak"--or should the word be "style"? (Marcy Fitzgerrell of Laguna Beach).

* A found mixed drink that will be returned only if the owner can describe it (Pat McDonough of Westlake Village).

I didn't know the altitude was that high: When Holly McKnight of Brea visited the Big Bear City mountain resort recently, she encountered Tinkerbell Avenue, Wendy Avenue, Michael Avenue, Peter Avenue, Nana Avenue and Tiger Lily Drive in one neighborhood.

Who could blame her for wondering if she'd chanced upon Never Never Land?

miscelLAny: I'm taking a week of vacation to recharge my batteries (though not the ones in my cell phone, which I hope to use as little as possible). I won't be misplacing any cocktails either.


Steve Harvey can be reached at (800) LA-TIMES, Ext. 77083, by fax at (213) 237-4712, by mail at Metro, L.A. Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., 90012 and by e-mail at

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