Over the past few months, readers may have noticed the dearth of Hot Tips in this column. We certainly have, and we credited the lack of Hot Tips to the indifference and laziness of our readers. But as it turns out, our readers are neither indifferent nor lazy and had been sending in scads of Hot Tips -- that were unfortunately trapped in a black hole in cyberspace. Last week that hole was unplugged and five months of reader-generated Hot Tips came flooding in, nearly overwhelming us with news, gossip, death threats, bad poetry, and sexy come-ons. This week Last Days brings you a selection of these Ice Cold Hot Tips, along with our regular batch of current events. Thanks to all you Last Days Hot Tippers out there -- and if YOU have a Hot Tip, call our brand-new, 24-hour Hot Tips Hotline-323-7101, ext. 3113-or e-mail us at lastdays@thestranger.com...

Our week begins with a Hot Tip lost since Monday, January 18. On that day, a Seattle man with a bad habit of putting his wedding ring in his mouth was riding in a car with his mother-in-law. When she slammed on the brakes, he abruptly swallowed the ring; the best advice a doctor could offer was to "wait for it to pass." For days the man was made to poop into plastic bags, which he would carefully seal before squishing around for a feel of the ring. Three days later the ring finally passed and regained its rightful place on the man's hand (but, hopefully, not in his mouth.) This beautiful story was sent in by the ring-swallower's younger sister, who said that although she loves her brother with all her heart, she couldn't resist humiliating him in print "for all the times he chased me around the house with a butcher knife."

On Tuesday, December 2 a devoted Hot Tipper witnessed some freaky shit on a #7 Metro bus. After pulling over to pick up several passengers at a bus stop in the International District, the bus was proceeding down Jackson Street when suddenly from out of nowhere came a bionic man in a wheelchair. "Hey!" cried the man as he power-rolled his wheelchair after the rapidly accelerating bus, eventually outrunning the speeding Metro-which he brought to a screeching halt by jumping off the curb straight into the bus' path. Of course the bus driver was furious, having almost been forced to squash the Six-Million-Dollar Differently Abled Man, but soon everyone's annoyance returned to awe. "He had that thing going at least 15 mph," said our amazed eyewitness.
路路路 In other, worse, bus news: Today a Pierce County Transit bus driver suffered a heart attack at the wheel, causing the bus to strike a retention barrier and slide 251 feet before coming to a stop. Fourteen passengers suffered minor injuries, and driver Shirley Helton was taken to Harborview's cardiac-care unit, where she was listed in serious condition.

As if all the pot found lying around the streets of Wallingford recently wasn't enough: Tonight, while taking a refreshing late-night walk around Capitol Hill, Last Days stumbled upon an abandoned Altoids tin (the international symbol of narcotic contraband). As expected, the tin contained not mints but curiously strong drugs: a small baggie of little blue pills (discovered to be Valium) and a collection of sticky black rocks, which a real live former junkie declared to be real live heroin! Also in the tin: a larger sticky black rock said to be "phony smack to be sold to desperate junkies." Upon learning the facts of the tin's contents, Last Days promptly flushed the real heroin down the toilet and sold the fake heroin in front of Jack in the Box for $17.
路路路 Meanwhile, way back on Wednesday, December 30 Last Days was sent an e-mail from a "geography expert" correcting us for "mistakenly" referring to New Orleans as "a state." Very funny, sir. Next you'll be telling us that New England isn't a state either.
路路路 Oh yeah: Today the United States (via NATO) bombed Yugoslavia.

Today jury selection continued for the trial of Russell Henderson, one of two men charged with the beating death of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. But long before this week's search for jurors began, Last Days had called together a jury of our readers to decide the fate of Shepard's murderers. In a slew of e-mails sent in late January, our sympathetic readers overwhelmingly (65%) voted to sentence Shepard's killers merely to life in prison. A smaller but much more passionate group (27%) called for execution by the state, while only a handful (8%) thought Shepard's killers should be made to mop up spooj in a sleazy gay sex club for the rest of their lives. Additional write-in suggestions: public hanging; a mob-style execution at a gay pride parade; and the insertion of broken glass into the guilty killers' anuses. Mercy.

Today we bring you a relatively lukewarm Hot Tip from Friday, March 5, when a Salvation Army truck visited an Eastlake neighborhood to pick up a king-sized mattress set. While executing this good deed, the driver smashed his truck into a pair of motorcycles parked on the street. An eyewitness reports that the driver and his helper placed the "excessively damaged" motorcycles back upright, loaded up their mattress, and drove away -- without even leaving a note! Fortunately a bystander took down the truck's license plate numbers, and the incident was reported to police.
路路路 Speaking of do-gooders charged with hideous crimes: Today assisted-suicide crusader Dr. Jack Kevorkian was found guilty of second-degree murder for fatally injecting a terminally ill man suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease. Kevorkian faces a minimum of 10 years in prison.

A violently Hot Tip from Saturday, October 24: In the wee hours of the morning, outside Pioneer Square's Backdoor Lounge, two big drunk guys tried to beat each other to death. Eyewitnesses report that one of the brawlers was so drunk he couldn't recognize his own girlfriend (who was screaming and begging him to stop), while the other had long, curly hair that was getting ripped out by the roots. Several bystanders said it was "the worst fight they'd ever seen," but when they tried to enlist the aid of an (off-duty) bouncer from the lounge, they were told, "Oh, let them go at it. I'm sick of those guys."
路路路 Speaking of fighting: Tonight a U.S. stealth fighter jet was downed over Kosovo. NATO has yet to reveal what "downed" means (shot down by Serbs or just crashed?) but the pilot was quickly rescued and reported to be in good condition.

Today was Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, when Christians commemorate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem by waving palm leaves around. Christians should be wary of overdoing the "Welcome Back Jesus" schtick. To quote Max Von Sydow in Hannah & Her Sisters (Last Days' third favorite movie of all time): "If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up."
路路路 Speaking of vomiting and the possible return of the Messiah, here's a Hot Tip from Sunday, October 25. On this day, an apparently homeless man was seen masturbating in the Starbucks on University Way. After scaring off a couple of sorority girls with his grunting efforts under the table, the man stood up, poured some cream from a carafe into his hat, placed his hat on his head, and left with cream streaming down his face.

Phone in your Hot Tips to the Last Days 24-Hour Hotline: 323 7101 ext. 3113. Or e-mail lastdays@thestranger.com