MONDAY, MAY 20 Hello, dear readers, and huge thanks to Ann Romano and Cienna Madrid for filling this column during our time away. This week of slimy psychics, subpar Scotch, and horrifying Islamic jihad kicks off in Oklahoma, where today a combination of severe thunderstorms, unstable air mass, deep-layer wind shear, and a cold front resulted in a huge, deadly tornado that damaged and/or destroyed more than 12,000 homes and killed 24 people, including nine children. Condolences to all who were directly affected, and marching orders for those who weren't: Give what you can at redcross.org.
TUESDAY, MAY 21 In far less tragic news, the week continues in the Pacific Northwest, where an Issaquah psychic is facing felony theft charges after allegedly bilking a customer out of $30,000. Details come from Seattlepi.com, which identifies the psychic as Paula Ann Adams, a 36-year-old palm reader who King County prosecutors say preyed on her customers with one of the oldest tricks in the psychic book. "The basic scam consists of a victim, usually in a vulnerable state, who seeks the help of a psychic palm reader to help them with a relationship problem," reports Seattlepi.com. "The con artist charges a moderate amount of money for the first reading, then tells the victim her money must be 'cleansed' because it is the cause of the trouble. At the con artist's urging, the victim cashes out her bank accounts and performs a series of rituals meant to rid the money of evil. Dolls and candles are usually involved... the victim is then cleaned out when she delivers the money to the psychic for a final cleaning." According to charging papers, this is precisely what allegedly happened to one unnamed woman who sought solace during a divorce by visiting Adams a dozen times and spending hundreds of dollars on palm readings. "She also brought $25,000 in cash and $4,000 in Nordstrom gift cards to Adams for 'cleansing,'" reports Seattlepi.com. "Investigators later learned Adams went on a shopping spree in the days after the woman gave her the cards. According to charging papers, Adams actually exhausted six of the eight $500 cards the night she received them." After the woman's demands to have her money returned were rebuffed, she contacted police, and on March 5, cops raided Adams's home and office, seizing designer clothing and jewelry believed to have been purchased with the stolen gift cards, along with keys to safety deposit boxes containing $1,500 in cash. (Kicky twist: On May 7, an "associate of Adams who described himself as a 'gypsy tribunal counsel leader' contacted prosecutors and offered to deliver a $4,000 check to 'make this go away,'" reports Seattlepi.com.) Paula Adams has been charged with one count of first-degree theft and five counts of second-degree theft.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 22 In far worse news, the week continues in London, where today Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old British soldier, husband, and father was fatally hacked to death on the street by two Islam-obsessed psychos, who followed the barbaric attack by calmly telling passersby, "By Allah we swear by the almighty Allah and we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone." By next week, 10 people will have been arrested in connection with what British authorities are calling a "low-tech terror attack." Condolences to all, including the many Muslims who don't support hacking people to death on the street.
THURSDAY, MAY 23 In lighter but still really bad news, the week continues on Interstate 5 near Mount Vernon where this afternoon a 1,111-foot bridge collapsed after an 18-wheeler with an oversize load struck one of the bridge's overhead tresses. Cars plunged from the broken bridge into the Skagit River, at least three people were taken to hospitals, but, miraculously, no one died.
•• Meanwhile in New Jersey, today brought the results of Operation Swill, wherein "Investigators raided 29 establishments around New Jersey on suspicion of filling empty bottles of premium liquor with cheaper brands," as the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports. As today's results made clear, booze-swapping was the least of the accused bars' problems, with investigators finding one establishment allegedly passing off rubbing alcohol with caramel food coloring as "Scotch" and another allegedly pouring dirty water into an empty liquor bottle and passing it off as booze. "Officials today refused to disclose which places served the rubbing alcohol or the dirty water, or what switches specific bars made, saying the investigation was continuing," reports the Star-Ledger. (However, 13 of the 29 raided establishments were TGI Friday's.)
FRIDAY, MAY 24 Nothing happened today, unless you count whatever the hell's going on with Amanda Bynes, the troubled former Disney starlet who today appeared in New York criminal court to plead not guilty to charges of reckless endangerment after allegedly heaving a bong out of a 36th-floor window. Bynes will spend the rest of the weekend going crazy on the internet, where she'll claim sexual harassment at the hands of the NYPD and share her opinion that Chris Brown beat Rihanna because she's not pretty enough (though Bynes later will claim the Rihanna-related tweets were "fake"). She'll also steadfastly maintain her status as a completely sane non–drug user, despite the fact that today's criminal charges were set in motion by a report of Bynes openly smoking pot in the lobby of her Manhattan apartment building, or that Bynes appeared in court today wearing what looked like a wig she found in a ditch. Stay tuned.
SATURDAY, MAY 25 Nothing happened today, unless you count the heavy rains that triggered flash floods that killed two women in San Antonio, Texas, or the school bus explosion that killed 17 children in Pakistan, or the revelation that US television personality Jimmy Kimmel spent $1.9 million on a nude painting of Bea Arthur, which he then gave as a gift to friend and fellow comedian Jeffrey Ross.
SUNDAY, MAY 26 Nothing happened today, unless you count the continuation of the Sasquatch! and Northwest Folklife festivals in the Pacific Northwest, or the commencement of Arrested Development's season four on Netflix.