Off Limits

At last! A true public service announcement from Westword
After you've packed away pounds of turkey, and stuffing, and gravy, and yams, and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and then settled your expanded self into a chair to watch a Thanksgiving football game and look through some long-neglected mail, do NOT open ANY envelope postmarked Santa Ana, California -- especially if it was addressed by primitive typewriter technology and looks so intensely personal that it might be from your very best friend. Or your very worst enemy.

Because inside you will find a piece of paper calculated to hit you where you are most vulnerable. The envelope contains what seems to be a ripped-out page from a magazine or newspaper, with gut-wrenching advice on one of two topics: You're an Embarrassment as a Public Speaker, But We Can Help, or You're Fat as a Pig But This Berry Trim Plus Plan Used by the Stars Can Help!

Although the mailings first appeared in the area several years ago, they've made a recent comeback that baffles postal authorities and the envelopes' recipients alike. If you don't realize the clipping is a fake (the public-speaking advisory seems to come from a quality business magazine, the Berry Trim from a mysterious newspaper named the "_aily News"), you might spend hours wondering 1) Who was mean enough to send this to me? and 2) Just how fat/incompetent am I?

We can't help you answer that -- and we doubt that Health Laboratories of North America, listed in the _aily News ad, can help you, either. The address leads to one Dr. Hertzell, a dentist in Katonah, New York; the 800 number leads to a clueless operator who insists Berry Trim does not send out mailings and who, when spoken to sternly, throws out an address in Carson City, Nevada. Which is a long way to go for revenge -- and besides, now that you realize the whole thing is a fraud, isn't it time for another piece of pie?

Blue highways
Another holiday service comes from the Colorado Department of Transportation, which finally plans to release a new official state map that acknowledges that Bill Owens is our governor and that E-470 exists.

When the state ran out of CDOT road maps last year, the Colorado Travel and Tourism Authority stepped into the breach and printed its own ad-heavy giveaway -- the one currently available to flummoxed tourists at Denver International Airport. It's better than nothing, but it's easier to find a Best Western (each motel location is handily pinpointed on the map itself) than the town you're driving to.

While you're picking up that road map at DIA, you'll notice two recent additions to the terminal. "Mountain Mirage," the long-delayed fountain designed to emulate the Rockies' silhouette, is finally spouting, even if it looks more like an ad for low water pressure than art. A few feet away, you can grab an inaugural copy of FlyDenver, the quarterly publication published for the city of Denver by Bush & Associates; its travelogue on England may have nicely padded someone's expense account, but doesn't do a lot for a visitor coming into DIA. At least there are plenty of words of wisdom from Mayor Wellington Webb, who writes a "postcard from Africa" describing his visit to Ghana, "a beautiful, diverse country filled with grassy plains, dense rainforest, open woodlands" -- and lots of junketing politicians who attended the Fifth African-American summit. He also invites travelers to "dine and shop at DIA" in his "welcome" to the magazine's premiere edition, and he's quoted in an article titled "Denver's Global Age," blabbing about how "we've come a long way in the last eight years." Which is exactly how visitors to DIA might feel after getting off one of those trains.

This means war! No sooner had Colorado wrested the World Cup races away from drier-than-usual Utah than another upstart lobs a snowball. This item is repeated in its entirety from B.J. Roche's column in the Sunday Boston Globe: "Ski plea: Vermont's ski industry faces an uphill competition for skiers against its ski-nemesis, Colorado. Ski area owners want state money to help increase the number of skier visits to 5.5 million, up from 3.9 million last year. (They also want the state to lighten up on the environmental review process to make it easier to build ski villages.) A scholarship program might help: weekend lift tickets go for at least $50, and when you toss in rentals and food, the cost of a weekend for a family of four approaches the cost of a mortgage payment. Of course, in St. Moritz, these prices may be considered a bargain. Time for a trade mission."

Off Limits is compiled by Jonathan Shikes. If you have a tip, call him at 303-293-3555.

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