MONDAY, FEBRUARY 21 Over the past year, the popular children's game/cartoon series Pokémon has been denounced as everything from illegal gambling to kiddie crack. Today the creepily marketed but relatively harmless merchandising phenomenon achieved new infamy when a Roman Catholic archdiocese in Mexico charged the game with inciting violence and sexual perversity among children. "Pokémon is not as innocent as some believe," the Mexico City Archdiocese said today in the weekly publication Desde La Fe, adding that the sexual references in the cartoon series failed to take into account children's level of "maturity and comprehension." Investigating the charges, Last Days could find no evidence of extraordinary violence or sexual perversity in either the card game or cartoon series; however, our discovery that the name "Pokémon" is the shortened form of the boneriffic euphemism "pocket monster" was highly disturbing.

··While American children's first drug of choice is denounced in Mexico, their #2 pick is being celebrated right here at home. Today researchers announced that nicotine has shown significant promise in treating children with Tourette's syndrome. Traditionally, Tourette's has been controlled with the powerful tranquilizer Haldol; a new study (reported by the Associated Press) has revealed that a combination of Haldol and nicotine, dispensed via patches, alleviates the symptoms of Tourette's -- the shouting of obscenities, the licking of light switches -- more effectively than Haldol alone. But don't go buying your Tourette's-ridden kid a carton of Kools just yet -- researchers have cautioned that smoking is a bad way to get medical nicotine, and say that more research is needed before nicotine patches become standard medical treatment.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22 Today newspapers around the globe reported the titillating tale of NASA's outer-space sex experiments. According to newly published book The Final Mission, by former trainee astronaut Pierre Kohler, astronauts aboard NASA's four 1996 space shuttle flights performed a variety of sex acts to determine which positions are most effective in zero gravity. Citing NASA document 12-571-3570, Kohler reports that of the 10 positions tested, six required the use of a belt and an inflatable tunnel, while four were contingent on just hanging on. However, the story took an even better turn on Thursday, when NASA officials blasted the media for reporting a story they purport is "a decade-old hoax." Brian Welch, NASA's director of media services, told United Press International, "We categorically deny there is any such 'experiment.' Welch expressed dismay that anyone could still be taken in by this "fairly well-known urban legend," and also dismissed the oft-rumored incident of John Glenn entering the Apollo capsule to find Neil Armstrong getting his peanut-butter-smeared penis licked by a German shepherd.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23 On this day in 303, Emperor Diocletian ordered the general persecution of all Christians. On this day in 1836, the Alamo was besieged by Santa Anna, who soon slaughtered all 185 of its defenders. On this day in 1942, a Japanese submarine bombed the coast of California. On this day in 1991, French forces unofficially kicked off the Persian Gulf ground war by crossing the Saudi-Iraqi border. On this day in 1998, an El Niño-inspired tornado ripped across the Florida peninsula, killing 42 people. On this day in 1999, 263 women were raped in the United States. On this day in 2000, Lenny Kravitz won another Grammy.

··In other Grammy news: True to form, this year's Grammy ceremony was a noodle-scratching snoozer, enlivened by some unexpected entertainments (host Rosie O'Donnell's uncomfortably sharp tongue, performer Whitney Houston's unfortunately profuse sweating), but ultimately dragged down by so much stupidity (see above). But the backstage drama almost made the crap worthwhile: Double winner Barry White was a conspicuous no-show (he's still mad about losing the 1974 Best New Artist award to Bette Midler, really), and über-nominee Carlos Santana made headlines by revealing that, as a child, he was repeatedly molested by a Vermont man in a cowboy suit. In an effort to cheer Santana up, the 1999 Grammy board gave him a whopping eight awards, tying the record held by Michael Jackson, another performer who knows a thing or two about child molesting.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 24 In a thrilling display of cross-denominational solidarity and equal rights ass-kicking, today 26 Christian ministers and Jewish rabbis stormed the international headquarters of the Fox Family Channel, demanding to meet with President and CEO Richard Cronin to discuss the network's "anti-homosexual rhetoric." "For 18 months we've tried to get an appointment with Fox executives to discuss Pat Robertson's misinformation campaign about homosexuality on their network," said Pasadena Rector Ed Bacon, and today the interfaith vigilantes took matters into their own hands, linking arms outside the headquarters' entrances and stopping all comings and going for over an hour. Police were stationed nearby to arrest the demonstrators, but Fox Family officials wisely decided to leave the building closed rather than suffer the negative publicity that would follow the arrest of two dozen respected clergy members protesting anti-family rhetoric on their "family" channel. The heroic ministers and rabbis plan to return to Fox headquarters for a follow-up protest on Friday, March 24.

··Also today: Crybaby ice skater Tonya Harding (Last Days' fourth favorite celebrity of the 20th century, after Eleanor Roosevelt, Tennessee Williams, and Dina Martina) pleaded not guilty to getting drunk and smashing her boyfriend in the face with a hubcap. The classy lassie has been ordered to keep away from her beau and to take Antabuse, a drug that will make her puke like a goat if she comes within 50 feet of alcohol.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 25 On February 4 of last year, Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo was shot to death in the vestibule of his New York City apartment. On January 31 of this year, the four white New York City police officers who fired the 41 bullets into the unarmed Diallo were brought to trial, facing charges of second-degree murder by intent, second-degree murder by depraved indifference, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, and reckless endangerment. Today a New York State Supreme Court jury (four blacks, eight whites) declared the officers not guilty of all charges. Oh, how we wish we were making this up.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26 We interrupt this broadcast to wish a happy 60th birthday to Last Days' father, Walter Schmader, the man who taught us how to chug beer, manage our finances, and insult people with charm.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27 In the wake of the Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? debacle, Fox Television Entertainment has promised to scrap the exploitative reality shows that are the cornerstone of its prime-time lineup. Never mind that shows like When Good Cysts Go Bad have been paying Fox's rent for the past five years; Fox chairman Sandy Grushow has promised to banish from his network "anything that is exploitative, that reeks of desperation, anything that's merely out for ratings." Last Days looks forward to tasteful new Fox programs like Who Wants to Adopt a Palsied Orphan? and Touched by an Uncle.

Send your Hot Tips to or phone the 24-hour Hot Tips hotline at 323-7101 ext 3113.