The week begins with a shocking tale of gross impropriety from that bastion of bad taste, the British Broadcasting Corporation. Today, Reuters reports the BBC issued a formal apology to a British housewife after she was made the butt of a practical joke for the pilot of a late-night television show. The offending prank consisted of an actor playing the part of a charity collector knocking on the woman's door and persuading her to part with one pound for an orphaned African child. After the woman handed over her donation, a seven-year-old posing as an African child was unloaded from a crate and given to her. (Wow.) Failing to see the humor in the prank, the woman promptly called the police, who ordered the crew to stop filming, as they risked inciting a breach of the peace. "It seems extremely surprising that the BBC would act in such an irresponsible and exploitative manner," said a spokesperson for the charity Save the Children. "I'm sure it was not a particularly positive experience for the young person involved either." Said the BBC: "We are sorry if we caused any unnecessary offense."

Speaking of poor taste, today the Associated Press reported on the new list compiled by MTV and Rolling Stone magazine of the greatest pop songs since 1963. Using the year of the emergence of the Beatles as an arbitrary starting point, the list aimed to rank the songs that had the most influence on popular culture, not necessarily the best songs. This criteria was made immediately evident in the list's choice for top song--the Beatles' "Yesterday." (Yeah it's pretty, but zzzzzzzzz.) Among the smarter selections: Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (#3); Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" (#13); Janet Jackson's "Nasty" (#79); and Cheap Trick's "Surrender" (#85). Among the stupider choices: The Eagles' "Hotel California" (#11); Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" (#34); and No Doubt's "Don't Speak" (#81). Unfortunately, in the end, the list was rendered ultimately worthless, as everyone with half a brain knows that the greatest pop songs since 1963 are the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop"; Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise"; and Archers of Loaf's "The Lowest Part Is Free."

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 22 As a passionate proponent of the beautiful (and cinchy) art of haiku, it is with great pleasure that Last Days reports on the ferocious haiku slam tonight at Seattle's Dutch Ned's Saloon. According to Hot Tipper Tim, the competition began under a cloud of controversy, as Dutch Ned's defined "haiku" as a "short, epigrammatic, imagistic poem" with no specified syllabic structure--greatly peeving those haikuers who'd spent weeks preparing 5-7-5s for battle. But once all feathers were smoothed (and the drunken heckler shouting "Haiku is dead!" was silenced), the competition got off to a short, epigrammatic, imagistic bang, with 12 poets competing over four rounds for the title of Haiku Champion of Seattle. "Not surprisingly, the prevailing theme of the night was sex," reports Tim, who notes that the phrase "I want you to fuck me" was uttered by three different contestants, and that a whopping 11 out of 12 performers devoted their scant syllables to the joys of getting banged. (Prime example, from one feisty young woman: I want you to charge into my opening/blaze right through my center/like the monorail.) When the dust settled, fiftysomething Renee Robertson came out the champ, with spunky twentysomething Sarah Zane as runner-up. Robertson was awarded 50 bucks, Zane was given a used sweatshirt with a caricature of Jack Kerouac on it, and everyone went home happy.

Happy holidays--from the hospital! After suffering what has repeatedly been described as a teensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy little heart attack, 59-year-old Republican vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney spent Thanksgiving in D.C.'s George Washington University hospital, where he underwent treatment to clear an artery that was 90 to 95 percent blocked. This week's heart attack (Cheney's fourth) is but the latest in the long line of health troubles that have dogged the would-be V.P., including dangerously high cholesterol, skin cancer, and gout. Nevertheless, Dr. Alan Wasserman, interim chair of the hospital's Department of Medicine, said that Cheney would have no difficulty performing his duties as vice president if elected, and that he did not believe the strenuous election campaign played a role in Cheney's latest brush with death. (Good one!) On a "down" note, doctors say that Cheney is not out of the woods yet, as roughly 20 to 40 percent of arteries cleared through the treatment used on Cheney will close again within six months. On an "up" note, Cheney's dislodged artery clog was rushed to a nearby food bank, where it provided a protein-rich holiday feast for a homeless family of four.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24 Following 1999's mind-boggling rush of news stories chronicling the cohabitation of kids and their dead parents, here's a story providing a delightful turnabout. After several years of suffering from mysterious stomachaches, a Colombian woman was found to be carrying a calcified fetus from a pregnancy four decades ago. Reuters reports that 72-year-old Otilia Castro evidently became pregnant when she was about 32, but the child developed outside the uterus, in her lower abdominal cavity, eventually growing to a length of 10 inches and a weight of 3.5 pounds. "I've been a radiologist for 14 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Guillermo Diaz, who X-rayed Castro for what was initially suspected to be a tumor but what was instead discovered to be the calcified fetus. Speaking to the local press from her hospital bed, Mama Castro said, "I felt like my stomach was big and it hurt me a lot, but I never thought it was that."

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25 Speaking of uncomfortable mistakes: Today Reuters reported on a woman in northern New Jersey who accidentally super-glued one of her eyes shut. According to the police report, 43-year-old Gladys Wyse was reaching for a bottle of eyedrops but grabbed a container of super glue instead, applying the contents to one eye and gluing the lids together. "She just grabbed the wrong bottle," said Jefferson Township Police Sgt. Eric Wilsusen. After gluing her eye shut, Ms. Wyse called the police department and was taken by rescue squad to St. Clare's hospital, where she was treated and released. Sgt. Wilsusen said he did not believe Wyse was blinded or suffered any permanent damage.

The week wraps up with a slew of warm birthday wishes to such historical notables as anti-slavery/women's rights advocate Sarah Moore Grimke (b. 1792), trippy-brained playwright Eugene Ionesco (b. 1912), worship-worthy cartoonist Charles Schultz (b. 1922), shamelessly schmaltzy singer Robert Goulet (b. 1933), talented yet annoying impressionist Rich Little (b. 1938), and ass-kicking rock legend Tina Turner (b. 1938). Whoo-hoo!

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