MONDAY, MARCH 6 This week of fluffy lawsuits, lingering sleep, and deeply unfunny jokes kicks off today with a flurry of activity over the unborn. First comes the hubbub from South Dakota, where today Governor Mike Rounds signed into law a near-total ban on abortions in the state. Described by Gov. Rounds as a "direct frontal assault" on Roe v. Wade, the bill would make it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion unless the procedure was necessary to save the woman's life, with errant doctors facing up to five years in prison for each illegal abortion. Most offensively, the bill makes no exception for cases of rape or incest, casting the law to the far-right end of the "pro-life" spectrum and inspiring some critics to dub the bill the "Rapist Reproductive Rights Act of 2006." But as the Associated Press makes clear, today was a terrifyingly great day for American foes of abortion. "We finally have been heard," said anti-abortion activist Leslee Unruh to the AP. "We are so excited. We're ordering lobster and having a party."
•• Meanwhile in Florida, a citizen has launched his own protest against the improper handling of the unborn. Details come from Southwest Florida's News-Press: After years of living next door to the Cape Coral Yacht Club, resident Robert Payne was fed up with all the horny people having sex in the yacht club parking lot. To articulate his exasperation, Payne collected a wealth of used condoms from the lot, rigged them on flagpole-like sticks, and planted them in the meridian by the yacht club's entrance. (In an e-mail to city officials, Payne characterized his work as both a helpful gesture toward the city's hazardous-waste collectors and "a proud symbol of our freedom and the great traditions of Cape Coral.") Mr. Payne has yet to receive an official reprimand for his spunky protest, but Mayor Eric Feichthaler says he's well aware of Payne's concerns, and finds his method of protest "repulsive."
TUESDAY, MARCH 7 Speaking of repulsive: Today Last Days turns to the allegedly edible concoction known as Fluffernutter, the bastard love child of peanut butter and marshmallow that's sizzling at the center of a heated legal battle. On one side: culinary retailer Williams-Sonoma, which sells a chocolate-covered peanut butter and marshmallow wad named Fluffernutter through its website and catalog. On the other: Durkee-Mower Inc., holder of the Fluffernutter copyright, and filer of a lawsuit charging Williams-Sonoma with selling knock-off Fluffernutters without consent. According to the Associated Press, Durkee-Mower is seeking unspecified damages, both real and punitive, from the alleged F-word poachers. Meanwhile, all mention of peanut butter, marshmallow fluff, and their unholy alliance has been purged from the Williams-Sonoma website. Don't fuck with Fluffernutter.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8 The week continues with a fascinating story from the New York Times, which today featured an exposé on the hottest thing to hit American roads since Isadora Duncan's head: the Ambien driver. According to the NYT, the nation's best-selling sleeping pill is "showing up with regularity as a factor in traffic arrests," with reports of "sleep-driving" zombies stricken with complete amnesia as to how they came to be driving in the first place. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration received 48 reports of "adverse events" tied to Ambien, including three cases of sleepwalking, six reports of hallucinations, and one traffic accident. Still, Ambien's makers insist the drug is safe when taken as directed—right before bed, when users have "a full eight hours to devote to sleep"—and say they're working with the FDA as part of their "ongoing post-marketing evaluation." For now, Last Days is content to bask in the sordid fascination of the cases cited by the NYT, from the registered nurse in Denver who took Ambien before bed and woke to find herself in the custody of police (cops informed her of her midnight drive in her nightgown, public urination in an intersection, and violence against those who came to help), to the British man on a US Airways flight who took one Ambien with two individual-serving bottles of wine and became "like the Incredible Hulk"—tearing off his shirt and threatening to kill himself and his fellow passengers. If this account of a flier going bonkers after taking a single sleeping pill with a not-unreasonable amount of wine sounds familiar, it is: After his 2002 arrest for wreaking allegedly drunken havoc on a British Airways flight, R.E.M.'s Peter Buck shot down all reports of drunkenness, blaming whatever happened (he didn't remember) on a single sleeping pill and a small amount of wine. After presenting his outburst as "non-insane automatism," Buck was cleared of all charges. Shame on all of us who scoffed at the notion of a single wine-soaked sleeping pill turning a beloved folk-rocker into a raving maniac, and stay tuned for more on the Ambien fiasco.
THURSDAY, MARCH 9 Nothing happened today, unless you count further revelations about the three Alabama college students—19-year-olds Benjamin Moseley and Russell DeBusk and 20-year-old Matthew Cloyd—who were arrested yesterday for torching nine Baptist churches in a string of arsons that terrorized Alabama last month. Key revelation #1: The arrested arsonists say the first five churches were torched as "a joke," while the other four—all situated in a different part of the state—were torched to throw investigators off track. Key revelation #2: Two of the three arsonists—DeBusk and Moseley—were described by peers as amateur actors who were known as pranksters and dreamed of becoming stars. Confidential to the fraternal firebugs and alleged pranksters: Burning down a fire-extinguisher factory is a joke; burning down an Alabama church is not. May your prankster pedigrees and improv-acting skills help you navigate your forthcoming incarcerations.
FRIDAY, MARCH 10 Today Last Days turns to the mounting avalanche of crap ready to fall on and further ruin the life of Michael Jackson. Returning to the U.S. this week after a nine-month Bahrainian vacation, Jacko set up camp at his family's compound in Encino, carefully avoiding his own Neverland Ranch, which was ordered shut down yesterday by California authorities. Besides failing to pay Neverland's insurance, Jacko has reportedly failed to pay any of his staff since last December (according to Fox News, 30 Neverland employees have filed complaints with state labor authorities). Aside from money woes (including $475,000 in insurance fines and back pay and imminent foreclosure on $270 million of loans), Jacko faces a growing threat from ex-wife Debbie Rowe, following an appeals court ruling that Rowe's parental rights were not properly relinquished under the law. The unofficial Michael Jackson suicide watch begins... now.
•• Speaking of preemptive justice against alleged (or at least acquitted) child molesters: Today brought some closure to the case of Michael Mullen, the 35-year-old Bellingham man who posed as an FBI officer to gun down two sex offenders in their home last year. Prior to his trial, Mullen boasted of killing the men to "make the community safer," leading to aggravated first-degree murder charges that could have landed him on death row. Thanks to a plea bargain, Mullen's crimes were reduced to second-degree murder, and today in Whatcom County Superior Court Mullen was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
SATURDAY, MARCH 11 The week continues with a singularly bizarre public grooming sighting from Hot Tipper Jeff, who was one of a gazillion people milling around IKEA today when his eyes were accosted by a horror in the bed department. "I watched as a woman took off both shoes and sat in the middle of a floor-model bed," writes Jeff. "After fishing a pair of nail clippers from her purse, she began a good, old-fashioned toenail clipping, right there in the middle of the busiest store known to man. The best part: The guy she was with raked her toenail shards into a pile, swept them onto the floor, then helped his lady off the bed." Dear Jeff: Thank you for noticing and sharing. Dear Clippi Longstocking: Are you insane? Or were you consciously auditioning for this column?
SUNDAY, MARCH 12 Nothing happened today.
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