This week's Slightly Off Center (via USA Today)



Mayor's message temporarily rated X

ROUND ROCK, Texas - Mayor Charlie Culpepper learned an important digital
age lesson: Change your pager's password often!
Somebody managed to hack hizhonnor's pager and replace otherwise
standard ''leave a message'' to a rap song graphically describing
a sex act. Says one councilman who got the new message: "It was pretty
vulger." Says the mayor: ''I'm just glad my mother or my
wife didn't try to page me.''

Maybe he looked like a bank robber

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Bank robbery suspect Timothy Hough had the cash but
couldn't get a cab. Police say Hough robbed the downtown
branch of M&T Bank - netting less than $2,000 in the process. Trouble
was, when he tried to get in two taxicabs, the drivers threw
him out. Finally, the desperate man jumped on a Metro Rail train. It had
barely started rolling when police stopped it and arrested
Hough. No word from the cabbies on why they wouldn't take his tainted

It takes 'guts' to take a pay raise

JACKSON, Miss. - Call it a political gut check. A legislative pay plan
that cleared the House would require bill opponents to admit they
were gutless to get their share of the money. The bill - that also gives
pay raises to hundreds of state and county officeholders - had
been rejected last week. House members and senators voting against the
bill could get extra money only if they sign a form saying, ''I
was for the legislative pay raise but did not have the guts to vote for
it.'' Lawmakers would receive $6,300 more each year in expense
money immediately under the bill. Their base pay would increase from
$10,000 to $15,000 in the year 2000. Lawmakers now receive
about $25,000 yearly, including expenses.

A kiss is (more than) just a kiss

EVANSVILLE, Ind. - Professor Michael Christian is making the perfect
kiss academic -- so much so he's written two books on the
topic. The Boston College professor says there's about 25 different
kinds of lip-locks, from the lip-o-suction kiss to the upside-down
kiss. The smooch expert says that most Americans kiss for less than a
minute, but the longest kiss on record lasted more than 200
hours. His interest turned academic after a girlfriend complained that
he kissed with his eyes open. He now knows he was just kissing
the wrong girl. One-third of the population likes to kiss 'n' peep.
''Women's expectations are too high and they always say things like,
'You've got to be kidding. You wrote the book on The Art of Kissing and
this is the best you can do?'''

President Coolidge was one cool rider

FREMONT, Ohio - So where will you find an 800-pound electric hobby
horse? Well, at one time it would have been under President
Calvin Coolidge. That's just one of the 200 exhibits at "Presidential
Potpourri" stopping in the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center
through July. Other items on display: a lock of George Washington's
hair, the life mask that Abraham Lincoln made four months
before his death, a tape recorder used by Richard Nixon during the
Watergate scandal, William Howard Taft's giant bathtub and Teddy
Roosevelt's teddy bear will be on display. ''You can see the power and
the glory of the presidents. But you can also see the fun and
downright silliness,'' Jay Snider, curator of the Hayes Center. 

'Motherhood' prevails on California ballot

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. - Call her Candidate Mom, or formally
''Businesswoman-Mother.'' That's how Denise de Ville will be
identified on the ballot in an April 8 election to fill a vacancy on the
San Mateo County board of supervisors, south of San Francisco.
The county elections chief agreed to de Ville's desired designation. The
state maintains that parenthood is not an occupation, and
shouldn't be listed on the ballot. But authorities in Sacramento concede
they don't have the power to change a ballot already approved
by local officials. 

Mom couldn't 'bear' to let go of beagle

PERKINS TOWNSHIP, Maine - Dodger the beagle had a new mother for a few
days: a mama bear the dog had rousted out of
hibernation. Every time Dodger tried to leave, the groggy bear thought
she was preventing one of her cubs from leaving the den,
according to biologists. ''She had adopted the dog. There was no
question in their minds,'' said owner Butch McCormick. The owner
and biologists finally yanked Dodger free by its dog collar after a
four-day standoff at the bear's burrow in this remote town. ''He's not
hurt at all. There's just a few teeth marks in his ear,'' McCormick
said. Maternal love bites, no doubt.

Where the heck did all these kids come from?

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In 1916, George Couron met a girl named Gaynel at a
carnival and said to himself, ''That was the girl for me.
And he's had her for almost 81 years. The score since then: Fourteen
children, 43 grandchildren, 75 great-grandchildren and at least
30 great-great-grandchildren. George and Gaynel are surprised as anyone
at their long life and marriage. ''I could say we behaved
ourselves, but that just wouldn't go down very well with some people,''
he said. The couple, who live here with their daughter, will
celebrate their 81st anniversary April 10. It is the nation's
longest-lasting marriage. Said Couron, who is 100. ''I got the woman I