MONDAY, APRIL 14 This week of troubled men, identified writers, and real-life horror stories kicks off today with a pilgrimage made by over 14,000 schoolchildren to Seattle's KeyArena, where students from over 200 Washington State schools gathered for an address by the Dalai Lama. Wrapping up his five-day, region-enthralling Seeds of Compassion tour, the exiled Tibetan leader regaled the arena full of youngsters with what Reuters' Laura Myers and Adam Tanner identified as "a wide range of issues related to compassion," including maternal love, the need to nurture children, and forgiveness. "A sense of responsibility and self-respect—that's the real compassion," spake the Dalai Lama, whose blending of the best traits of Elvis, Jesus, and Yoda infused the Northwest with a sparkly spiritual buzz it won't soon forget. Best of all, an entire generation of Washington schoolchildren will forever recall the field trip wherein they gathered permission slips, loaded themselves into buses, and packed themselves into KeyArena in order to hear a 72-year-old Buddhist monk urge them to be nicer to themselves and each other. (In this world cruelly deprived of Fred Rogers, at least we have the Dalai Lama. Come back soon, darlin'.)

TUESDAY, APRIL 15 The week continues with the explosively creepy saga of Zane Dittman, the 26-year-old Pierce County man who was killed by a homemade bomb at a house being investigated in connection with sexual assaults on children. Details come from a mysteriously unbylined KIRO news piece, which reports the body of Dittman—a registered sex offender convicted of abducting a child in Spokane—was found in the charred rubble of the Pierce County home where he rented a room. As KIRO reports, the home's owners returned from a trip today to find that Dittman had "changed the locks, was drinking, and working on a bomb." Police arrived in time to see Dittman flee upstairs and an explosion tear off the top floor of the house, leaving the remains of the home in flames. Condolences to the burned homeowners, and good riddance to the bomb-making child abductor.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16 Today, Last Days turns to the aforementioned real-life horror story, provided by Associated Press business writer Ellen Simon. (For those wondering about this week's individually identified sources: Due to a plethora of ineluctable forces, the news reports from which Last Days draws our stories are being written by fewer and fewer people, and it only seems fair to cite these increasingly rare creatures by name.) As Simon reports, "The U.S. is wrestling with the worst food inflation in 17 years," with eggs costing 25 percent more in February than they did a year ago, and milk and other dairy products jumping 13 percent. Experts say 2008 will be worse, due to the significantly higher costs of wheat, corn, soybeans, milk, and transportation, as well as a handful of global finance issues. As Simon writes, "Rapid economic growth in China and India has increased demand for meat there, and exports of U.S. products, such as corn, have set records as the weak dollar has made them cheaper. That's lowered the supply of corn available for sale in the U.S., raising prices here. Ethanol production has also diverted corn from dinner tables and into fuel tanks. Soybean prices have gone up as farmers switched more of their acreage to corn. Drought in Australia has even affected the price of bread, as it led to tighter global wheat supplies." By next week, reports will surface on the rationing of flour, rice, and cooking oil by a number of major American retailers, as "demand outstrips supply." Holy crap, and stay tuned.

THURSDAY, APRIL 17 Nothing happened today (unless you count the endless bashing of ABC over the network's craptastic handling of last night's Democratic debate, hailed by Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell as "perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years.")

FRIDAY, APRIL 18 The week continues with an update on the Mormon-scented shitstorm swirling around Texas, following the evacuation of over 400 children from the Eldorado compound run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where police were summoned after a teenage resident phoned a domestic-abuse hotline to report sexual and physical abuse. Last week, police came in, rounded up the 400-plus children, and handed the courts the largest, messiest child-custody case in history. Further details come from ABC News, which has a slew of writers covering the hubbub, including John Quinones, Scott Michels, Jim Avila, Teri Whitcraft, Reynolds Holding, Andrea Beaumont, Neal Karlinsky, Gina Sunseri, and Chris Cuomo. On one side of the battle: the polygamous sect's lawyers, who claim the entire raid is tainted by religious persecution. (Their argument: Using one child's claim of abuse to validate the removal of all the compound's children from their parents is unfair; police didn't round up every altar boy during the Catholic sex-abuse scandal.) On the other side: Texas investigators, who believe one of the primary abuses occurring in the compound is the marriage of barely pubescent girls to much older men—known within the FLDS community as "spiritual marriage" ordained by God, and known in the secular world as statutory rape forbidden by law. This weekend, the case will take a couple more dramatic twists, with the adult nephew of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs telling ABC about his childhood rape at the hands of his uncle, and the search for the abused 16-year-old whose call instigated the investigation taking a problematic detour to Colorado, home to a 33-year-old woman who may be behind the abuse report. Authorities will begin getting the mess sorted out next week, when the sect's children will be given DNA tests at a mobile genetics testing lab to determine their parentage, after which they'll be sent to foster homes. Stay tuned.

SATURDAY, APRIL 19 The week continues with National Record Store Day, wherein hundreds of independently owned music stores across the U.S. celebrated "the culture and unique place that [record stores] occupy both in their local communities and nationally," and it was our duty as an art-loving American to drag our ass into a three-dimensional record store and buy some music. Our store of choice: Sonic Boom on 15th Avenue East, where we found DJ John Roderick spinning Fun Boy Three's dreamy "Our Lips Are Sealed" while strange fat snowflakes fell outside. The haul: Lovework by Seattle's Gabriel Teodros, Left for Dead by Cincinnati's Wussy, and Real Emotional Trash by America's Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. Thank you, National Record Store Day, for making consumption feel like altruism.

SUNDAY, APRIL 20 The week ends with Passover, the festival/holy day commemorating the Jews' exodus from Egypt and the Israelis' liberation from slavery. To honor the day, Last Days attended a low-key, highly illuminating "standing seder," where we were treated to an exceedingly catchy Hebrew song from the Youngest Jew in the Room and schooled in the deeply satisfying combination of red wine and horseradish mashed potatoes.

Attention everyone: Saturday, April 26, brings the second annual Stranger Gong Show to Chop Suey; see Stranger Suggests on page 25 for more info. Also, send Hot Tips to