1. Archive

Visualize hurled peas

What is it about Prince Charles that attracts only soft-core assailants? Is it the bland leading the bland?

First he's shot at with a blank starter's pistol in Australia. Then he's spritzed with an aerosol can in New Zealand. And it's not even spray paint. It's air freshener. Oooh, I'm so scared!

Such purely symbolic gestures suggest reality and theater have blurred together until they're no longer distinguishable. But it could be a positive trend, this business of assault with battery not included.

For all our scientific discoveries, technological advancements and medical miracles, we humans are no more civilized in our behavior toward each other than when we first fell out of the trees. Maybe the time is ripe, judging from the Prince Charles thing, for the Addis Food-Substitute World Peace Plan, whereby we ban all explosive weapons and sharp objects and settle our factional disputes with food fights. Instead of bombs and missiles, we lob mashed potatoes and stewed okra at each other. Nobody gets hurt. More important: No matter who wins, nobody goes hungry.

Or, I have a Plan B: Take a lesson from that pioneer peacenik, Mohandas Gandhi, who wrote of the seven sins of the world: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice and politics without principle. If we worked on just two or three of these, we wouldn't have time to struggle with anyone but ourselves.

Aarrr, Matey: Ye Mystic Krewe, advising new participants in Gasparilla festivities, recommends in its Pirate's Log, "The .38 Special revolver is by far the best choice for a pirate weapon."

Right. Who among us will ever forget Robert Newton's classic portrayal of Long John Silver, firing his snub-nosed police .38 from behind the fender of his '58 Ford (or was that Lee Marvin in M Squad?), stowing his booty in a twist-tie Hefty bag and cranking up the Hispaniola's twin Rolls engines for an escape out to sea? And he got the name Silver, as we know, from those mirrored sunglasses.

ABC said they weren't going to broadcast that show in which Roseanne Arnold kissed Mariel Hemingway in a gay bar, because "it is not the lifestyle that most people lead." Sure. NYPD Blue comes much closer to representing my everyday existence. Doesn't it yours?

A bicycling streaker in England was caught after female streakees identified him by a birthmark on his departing derriere. Well, if the bloomin' twit doesn't know enough to drive an unmarked rump on that kind of mission, he deserves to be caught.

A Lakeland man shot himself by accident minutes after buying a firearm at a gun show. Now do you believe in waiting periods?

New numbers from the Census Bureau tell us the average American woman is wealthier, better educated and older than she used to be. Well, of course she's older. The last census was 10 years earlier.

Whales with legs: Scientists in Pakistan unearthed what they believe is a 50-million-year-old missing link between whales and land mammals; the fossil-remains of a "walking whale" that, evolutionarily speaking, went into the water, didn't like it and came back out. They call the find Ambulocetus natans, which means, "Another typical tourist."

USAir, you'll recall, has a special free-ticket offer for morticians who ship their clients' remains on that airline. Sure, it sounds good in the ads, but wait 'til your Aunt Phoebe lands in Miami and her pine box turns up in Duluth.

In spite of its decided reach advantage, an African ostrich came out the loser when it and a Vietnamese potbellied pig got into a fight in Moon Lake. Probably over our lax immigration laws.

Underheard: "They won't let you attempt suicide. They won't let you assist suicide. If it's against the law to die, why do so many people get away with it?"

Then there's Fort Lauderdale murder defendant in who wanted to wear his Ku Klux Klan robes to court. Obviously playing it for sympathy.

When wording is so careful it doesn't tell you anything: Have you seen the warning on the Showtime channel that "the following program contains some mild language"? That means it contains some rough language, but you have to figure that out yourself. Until then, you might think they're warning you there's a Doris Day movie coming up _ about which, come to think of it, I would appreciate being warned.

And finally, a big D-Section "Happy Birthday" to Jeanne Calment, of Arles, France, who turned 119 last Monday. Jeanne spends most of her spare moments wondering where the time went and answering the question, "What was Vincent Van Gogh really like?"

Don Addis is a cartoonist for the Times.