A-B introduces... prom-perfect booze?

Plus, 25 brand-new inventions that made Unreal say, "Meh."

 The following is an Unreal editorial and does not reflect the views and opinions of Riverfront Times:

Prom season is just around the corner, and you know what that means: Thousands of oversexed teenagers will soon be rounding the proverbial bases. And booze, no doubt, will play a part.

Alcohol's ability to lower inhibitions has enabled generations of teens to stretch a feeble blooper into a double, triple and the occasional home run. Now Unreal has learned that a group of concerned parents is trying to roadblock this all-American rite of passage. Numero Uno on their hit list is Anheuser-Busch's fruity new malt-beverage concoction, Spykes.

Critics say Spykes — which comes packaged in colorful, nail polish-size bottles and tastes like a fortified lollipop — can easily be concealed in tuxedo pockets and the smallest of clutch purses. Prom night, they warn, will never be the same.

Already these modern-day Carrie Nations are out to crash the party. In February the Michigan State Police alerted its officers that Spykes "appears to be marketed for young people" and "could be easily overlooked by patrol officers, especially in a woman's purse."

Temperance organizations are demanding that A-B recall the product. "It's the perfect drink for a child," Judi Vining, of the Coalition to Prevent Underage Drinking, recently told MSNBC. "Prom season and graduation are coming up. We don't want people to die."

Die of what, we ask? Excitement? Joy? A nuclear taste-bud explosion brought on by Spykes' four mouth-watering flavors — Spicy Lime, Hot Chocolate, Spicy Mango and Hot Melons?

No matter how dire the consequences, Spykes likely beats the alternative: dying from the embarrassment of showing up (banish the thought) sober to prom!

Spykes' critics are merely jealous that the brain trust on Pestalozzi Street didn't develop the product while they were in high school. Unreal couldn't agree more. When we wanted to sneak nail polish-size bottles of alcohol into the prom, we had to finish off the nail polish. Any idea how disgusting nail polish (Revlon Grapefruit Glitter excluded) tastes? And the buzz isn't worth the stomach ache.

Earlier this year our friends at A-B sent Unreal a Spykes "press kit." The company's Web site (www.spykeme.com) suggests mixing Spykes with Bud Light, but we found it works just as well with provisions harvested from the office break room. An ordinary cup of coffee becomes a booze-boosted Tootsie Roll thanks to Spykes' Hot Chocolate. When spiked with Spicy Lime, humdrum water-cooler water conjures visions of a tropical vacation. Hot Melons tastes great straight-up.

And figuratively speaking, isn't a shot of Hot Melons all we want from life, be it prom night or the end of just another workday?

Anheuser-Busch, this Spykes' for you!

Good Times

Last week a cheery photo of Easter eggs dominated the front page of the Webster-Kirkwood Times. Below the fold, the weekly paper reported on the mistrial of Kevin Johnson, charged with murdering the first Kirkwood police officer killed in the line of duty.

For readers of the Times — delivered free to all households in Kirkwood and Webster Groves — such coverage is not atypical. For nearly 30 years the paper's stock in trade has been wholesome, community-minded stories — "accentuate the positive/eliminate the negative" reporting, if you will.

But does the same mantra apply to the Times' letters to the editor? That's the question an anonymous tipster recently posed to Unreal. Our informant sent us two letters he'd sent the Times in response to columns written by the paper's editor-in-chief and co-owner, Don Corrigan.

The first letter ridiculed Corrigan for a column he'd written about a lawyers' convention in Hawaii. The writer questioned the local significance of the conference and Corrigan's role as a "certified correspondent" covering the event and closed by saying, "when Mr. Corrigan steps outside the boundaries of his readership area, he appears foolish."

The letter never saw print.

Several weeks later the writer responded to a Corrigan column advocating the use of cardboard cut-outs to serve as proxy parents when a family member is serving in the military overseas. The short, mocking letter, written under a pseudonym and a fake address, stated simply: "It is unfortunate that our daily newspaper cannot find such stories. We're lucky to have Mr. Corrigan watching out for us."

The letter ran in the paper under the headline: "Lucky to Have Corrigan."

Corrigan tells Unreal he doesn't select letters to run in the paper. "I've proofread plenty of letters that have been critical of me in the past," he adds. "The only time I recall pulling one is when it said that I was trash and the paper was trash and it wasn't worth reading. I guess I draw the line at being called trash."

As to the tipster's sarcastic charge, the editor responds: "I was presumptuous enough to think he really meant it. I'm sorry to hear now that he didn't."

What Will They Think of Next?

After seeing the 25 gadgets that made the semifinals of the History Channel's Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge, Unreal left the St. Louis Science Center last week feeling reaaaaaaallly stiffed.

Honestly, how could this so-called contest, judged by an unnamed panel of "famed inventors, technologists and industry experts," have overlooked our Robotic Ear Hair Clipper? Last year's "Challenge" honored wine-tasting robots! Like you need somebody to drink your wine — give us a break!

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