Today's News Update consists of three items that I am not making up, starting with: THE WORLD'S
As some of you may recall, I have been participating in an ongoing scientific project to set a world speed record for a tomato thrown by a jai alai player. This project is being conducted at the prestigious Dania Jai Alai institute of Dania, Fla., which used to bill itself as "The Tomato Capital of the World," which is how the publicity director, Steve Bourie, motivated by a sincere desire to get publicity, developed the idea of having one of the players get into the Guinness Book of World Records for throwing the World's Fastest Tomato.
He asked me to be the Objective Media Observer who stands behind a plastic shield and times the oncoming tomato with a radar gun, and I agreed, a decision that puzzled my friends.
"Dave," they said, in unison, "you are blessed with a good job and a loving family and a dog who is finally getting over the habit of rolling in filth and then trying to climb into bed with you; why would you risk death at the hands of a salad ingredient?"
And I answered: "Why? I'll tell you why. For the same reason that Christopher Columbus, nearly 500 years ago, set off across the vast and unknown ocean: stupidity."
Which is how I found myself crouching against a wall in the Dania Jai Alai parking lot, protected only by an inadequate-looking transparent shield and easily breaking all existing North American records for armpit wetness while a professional jai alai player named Charles (Chaz) Brower, who I would estimate is 9 feet 7 inches tall, hurled greenish tomatoes ("You don't want them too ripe," he explained to a local TV news crew) at me from close range with all his strength.
It is not easy, even for a professional, to control the direction of tomatoes; sometimes they would sail completely over the building, and sometimes they would hit the wall next to me at breathtaking speeds, exploding into clouds of tomato shrapnel. Also, the first time we tried this experiment, last spring, we couldn't get the tomatoes to show up on the radar gun. But recently we tried again, and I am pleased to report that we got a definite reading of -- get ready -- 103 MILES PER HOUR.
Probably you want to know what a tomato looks like, coming straight at you at that speed. I have no idea. My eyes were closed. But I do know this: All of us, as Americans, have reason to be proud of this achievement. Next summer, during the Olympics, if the communists are rejoicing because they won the gold medal in some weenie event like the uneven parallel bars, we can lean forward in our reclining chairs and say to our television screens, with scorn in our voices: "Oh yeah? Name ONE SINGLE VEGETABLE where you have a world speed record."
Ha ha! THAT should shut them up! Although I hear the East Germans are making tremendous progress with rutabagas.
Our next news item is: NEW JERSEY MAN
An alert reader named Bob Ingraham sent me a news article from the Echoes-Sentinel in Somerset County, N.J., which states that a man named Michael A. Case was arrested at home after firing eight bullets from his .44-caliber revolver into his IBM personal home computer. These were not just any bullets, either: These were your hollow-point "dum-dum" bullets, which, as you sportsmen know, give you the kind of "stopping power" you need when you're up against a product backed by the world's leading manufacturer of data-processing equipment.
Lt. Donald Van Tassell of the Passaic Township police told me that Mr. Case was not very specific about his motive: "He said he just got mad at his computer and he opened up on it." I was unable to reach Mr. Case, but I want to state, on behalf of all the computer users in the world, that we are behind him 1 million percent. If we have reached the point in this country where a man does not have the right to bear arms against his own computer, then we might just as well pour New Improved Liquid Drano on the U.S. Constitution. Although at this point it hardly matters, because the EARTH IS THREATENED
BY TERMITE FLATULENCE
I found out about this from Claire Martin, a Denver Post reporter on the Cutting Edge of journalism. She located a scientist named Pat Zimmerman, who -- I swear I am not making this up -- has traveled all over the world measuring termite flatulence, and has concluded that termites may be responsible for HALF of the methane gas in the atmosphere, and that the rate of termite emissions is increasing so rapidly that they could change the Earth's climate, and we're all going to die. (He didn't actually state that last part. That was my conclusion.) So I am urging all of you to proceed with whatever emergency procedures your state or local government has established for Termite Flatulence Alert situations. Me, I am going to try to get this tomato shrapnel out of my hair.