MONDAY, NOVEMBER 22 The week begins with a full-frontal assault on Last Days' post-election plan to avoid the sort of soul-crushing, kid-killing horror stories that have made this column America's preeminent source for pitch-black commentary since 1896. The first wave of the assault comes from Texas, where today police visited the apartment of Dena Schlosser after the 35-year-old Plano woman told a 911 operator that she'd just cut off her baby's arms. Police arrived to find a blood-soaked Schlosser sitting in her living room holding a knife and listening to church hymns while her armless 11-month-old daughter lay dead in her crib. Horrifying supplementary facts are provided by the Associated Press: Horrifying fact #1: The night before the deadly deed, Dena Schlosser, a mother of three who's repeatedly battled post-partum depression, told her husband she wanted to "give her children to God." Horrifying fact #2: After a seven-month investigation, Texas Child Protective Services concluded that Mom Schlosser posed no risk to her children. (Whoops.) Dena Schlosser has been charged with capital murder, while her two remaining daughters--ages 6 and 9--have been placed in state care.

-- Meanwhile in Washington: A 50-year-old Edmonds man took revenge on his child-custody-claiming ex-wife by killing the divorced couple's two daughters, then shooting himself in the head. "By the time you get this, I'll be dead," wrote alleged murderer/suicide Stephen Byrne, who e-mailed at least two friends about his murder-suicide plan shortly before its execution. Edmonds police told the Seattle Times that they received their first 911 call from one of Byrne's e-mail recipients at 12:42 p.m., with officers arriving at Byrne's rental home within minutes. Too late: Cops found Byrne dead in the backyard, and his two daughters--9-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Kelsey--dead in a bedroom. Extra-creepy twist: Neither of the girls showed any evident trauma, leaving their cause of death a mystery until toxicology tests are completed--a task that police say could take weeks. Stay tuned, and may God have mercy on our souls.

-- Finally, in far less murderous news, today brought the birthday of Last Days' own mother, Rosemary, a uniquely wonderful human specimen we would like to thank for never severing our arms, placing us under a broiler, or doing whatever Stephen Byrne did to his two daughters. (Our guess: poisoned pudding. Stay tuned for confirmation.)

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 23 Having survived the reporting of yesterday's wealth of horrible news, today Last Days plunged into the slightly less horrifying saga of the Wisconsin hunting massacre, wherein a Caucasian hunting party instructed a trespassing Hmong-American man to vacate one of their private hunting platforms, after which the man opened fire with his semi-automatic rifle, killing six of the hunters--including a father and son--and wounding two others. Following Sunday's slaughter, conflicting stories battled for media prominence. On one side is alleged killer Chai Soua Vang, the 36-year-old Hmong refugee who left Laos for the U.S. in 1980, eventually training as a sharpshooter in the California National Guard. In a court document filed today, Vang admitted to shooting the hunters but claimed he only opened fire after the hunters cursed him with racial epithets and allegedly fired the first shot. Bullshit, says wounded eyewitness Lauren Hesebeck, who told police a member of the hunting party shot only after Vang opened fire. Whatever the case, today a judge found probable cause to hold Chai Soua Vang on $2.5 million bail pending trial on six counts of homicide and two counts of attempted homicide.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 24 Take your head out of the oven: Today finally brought some good news, as Reuters reported the heartwarming story of the pod of dolphins in Wellington, New Zealand who formed a protective circle around a group of swimmers threatened by a great white shark. According to the swimmers' testimony, the one-man, three-woman swimming party was about 300 feet off Ocean Beach on New Zealand's North Island when the dolphins herded around them. When one of the swimmers tried to drift away from the group, two of the bigger dolphins herded him back in. The wandering swimmer soon realized why: the nine-foot shark swimming toward the group from six feet away, from which the heroic dolphins protected the swimmers for 40 minutes before they could safely swim back to shore. Hurrah!

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25 Today Last Days gave thanks to the Associated Press, who today reported the horribly hilarious story of Frank Palacious, the 24-year-old Massachusetts man who responded to his family's critiques of his Thanksgiving table manners by allegedly stabbing two relatives with a carving knife. According to Worcester police, the stabbings occurred after 49-year-old Gonzalo Ocasio and his 18-year-old son Gonzalo Jr. reprimanded Frank Palacious (described only as "an uncle") for picking at the turkey with his fingers, instead of slicing off pieces with a knife. Apparently determined to show his facility with knives, Uncle Frank allegedly grabbed the carving knife and started stabbing--hitting Ocasio Sr. in the arm and Ocasio Jr. in the chest, back, and side. Both men received treatment for their wounds (which have so far proven to be non-fatal) while Palacious was arrested on charges of domestic assault and assault with intent to murder.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 26 Nothing happened today, unless you count "Black Friday," the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza named for its historical distinction as the day American retailers move "into the black" and known far and wide as "the biggest shopping day of the year!" Unfortunately, Last Days' three-hour investigation of the largest shopping mall in Norfolk, Virginia turned up nothing more newsworthy than the limited revelations that the majority of Virginians are deeply unattractive and the food at Sbarro is never as good as you allow yourself to pretend it will be.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 27 Hot on the heels of the Tacoma Dome's 2004 Holiday Gift Show, today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on the hot new stench adding sickening spice to the already legendary aroma of Tacoma. Described by one local businessman as "dead-body strong" and inspiring numerous complaints to city officials and the state Ecology Department, Tacoma's staggering new stench was found to be emanating from an industrial lot owned by Tri Pak Inc., a Tacoma rail transport company that has been loading fish meal onto rail cars for shipment to Midwestern pet-food plants since October 15. Before long, the overwhelming odor of rotting fish inspired a visit from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, whose officials promptly discovered a number of waste-disposal violations, including rat-attracting fish waste littering the ground and a stench intense enough to constitute "an unreasonable intrusion on the rights of others." Health officials have given Tri Pak 30 days to fix their fishy problem.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 28 Nothing happened today, unless you count Last Days' visual collision with an absolutely horrible new television commercial, wherein marketers of Mucinex expectorant hope to amp up their sales by personifying human phlegm. Clearly reminiscent of Danny DeVito's character on the TV sitcom Taxi, the wad of human phlegm is depicted as moving into some poor sap's lungs. (He has luggage and everything.) Unfortunately, their hideous ploy worked. (Would we be writing about Mucinex if they hadn't insisted on a puke-inducing ad campaign?)

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