Miss Dish is on the receiving end of many questionable press packets for organizations, associations, groups and bureaus. One recent release about National Eat Dinner Together Week (Oct. 7-13), the brainchild of the National Pork Board (you know them as the "other white meat" people), caught her eye. The headline reads "New Survey Finds Busy Families Eating Together But Starved For Meaningful Conversation." The survey was sponsored by the pork people. Some of the stunning results: "Parents and kids are on different wavelengths when it comes to what they enjoy talking to each other about. Kids tend to be more interested in talking about friends, TV programs and music, while parents would rather talk about family events, school and their children's goals for the future." Stop the presses!

To do their part to close this generational chasm, the Pork Board included a rainbow-rific brochure called "Cookin' Up Conversation!" stuck in with the pages of pork recipes. "Cookin' Up Conversation!" includes tear-out cards you can hand out at the dinner table to spark discussion. Here are some of the thought-provoking repartee generators: "Describe your dream job." "If you owned a store what would you sell?" "What is your all-time favorite movie? Why?"

Wow, this is genius. Miss Dish doesn't know if she could even begin to come up with a more brilliant way to turn families into gruel-brained champions of superficiality. To help this burgeoning movement, Miss Dish offers these special conversation stoppers you can hide under the pork chops in case of emergency:

*Mom, is Dad the only man you've ever had sex with?

* Kids, why does the vodka from our bar taste like water?

* I saw Daddy kissing Santa Claus!

* Mommy, how come you use your neck massager everywhere but your neck?

* Kids, I borrowed that oregano from your room for the spaghetti--is that OK?

* Mommy, if the FedEx man is always here, why don't we get any envelopes?

* Daddy, I read in this book that those who've eaten human flesh compare the taste to that of pork, the other white meat. Is this true?

In other news:

Hark! The bad news is that Saucebox (214 SW Broadway, 241-3393 ) stopped lunch service last week. The good news is they've introduced a happy-hour menu with discounted drinks and food from 5 to 7 pm. In gooder news, your faithful food tester Miss Dish will be manning the wheels of steel there on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 27, as guest DJ. The deal starts at 10 pm, and Miss D. will be pulling out all her favorite platters--a tasteless melange of old school hip-hop, mopey '80s, Broadway show tunes, fairy dust and, of course, Olivia Newton-John. Plus, an international cross-genre salute to New York City!

Hark! Jonesin' for some schabowy, pierogi ruskie, placki ziemniaczane, golabki, kielbasa or bigos? Then get your tush down to St. Stanislaus Church, 3900 N Interstate Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 29 (11 am-10 pm), and Sunday, Sept. 30 (noon-7 pm), for Polish Festival 2001. Polka + beer + pierogi = heaven. Call 281-8099 for more deets.

Hark! Our House of Portland, this city's very own AIDS hospice, kicked off its annual dinner series fund-raiser last week. If you donate money, you could eat dinner with the likes of Michael Allen Harrison, Caprial and John Pence, or former Gov. Barbara Roberts. To attend one of the 70 dinners, call 503-736-9276.