MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17 Hello and welcome to a very special edition of Last Days, in which we venture out of our usual private bunker of composition to write this column from within the heavily scented, human-filled wilds of the Alderwood Mall. For those who don't know or can't remember what a "mall" is, think of it as the internet in 3-D, where stores are sites, seasonal kiosks are pop-up ads, and everyone's allowed to hang out for free so long as they don't mind being aggressively advertised to. In the second half of November 2014, the Alderwood Mall is a holiday wonderland, where the endless red of the Christmas window displays gives way to ever-present bursts of ice blue, sea blue, and neon green, thanks to the omnipresent licensing triumphs of Disney's Frozen and the Seattle Seahawks. The alleged point of it all: finding the perfect holiday gift, which, as the week's first news item makes clear, cannot be found in any mall, as it is already in the possession of Jose Canseco, the former baseball great who last month blew off his middle finger while cleaning his gun and today announced his plan to auction off his liberated digit on eBay. "The eBay ad will read slightly used middle finger with 462 home runs could be used as a stirring straw for drinks," wrote Canseco on Twitter this evening, after which he tweeted his plan to also auction off the gun that did the finger-blasting, perhaps as a "package deal." "Despite Canseco's intentions, he likely won't be able to auction either item," reports the New York Post, as "eBay's policies prohibit the selling of firearms and only allow the selling of human remains if they are 'items containing human scalp hair, and skulls and skeletons intended for medical use.'"
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18 Speaking of gifts, the week continued with a wonderful one from the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel, where residents have spent years trying to stop neo-Nazis from marching through their town. "Neo-Nazis are attracted to the town because Hitler's deputy Rudolf Hess was once buried there," reports the Guardian. "Though his remains were exhumed in 2011 and his grave was destroyed, far-right extremists still flock to the town year after year." But this year, disgruntled citizens found a new way to protest the annual neo-Nazi march: "Without the marchers' knowledge, local residents and businesses sponsored the 250 participants of the march on 15 November in what was dubbed Germany's 'most involuntary walkathon,'" reports the Guardian. "For every metre they walked, €10 went to a programme called EXIT Deutschland, which helps people escape extremist groups." Bonus: a sign hung at the end of the march route, thanking the marchers for their "donations." Viva Wunsiedel!
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19 Back to the mall! As a devotee of the culture of celebrity, Last Days was looking forward to finding our favorite mall experience at Alderwood Mall: the As Seen on TV store—the retail outlet filled with products that are regularly hawked on television infomercials, from the Ronco Veg-O-Matic to Dutch Glow Amish Wood Milk. Unfortunately, while hunting for this shop in Alderwood Mall, Last Days found only a sad imitation: the As Seen on Screen store, a knockoff of the As Seen on TV store, complete with knockoffs of products found in the original store. (Instead of the celebrity sleeved-blanket the Snuggie, for example, As Seen on Screen sells the not-so-popular sleeved-blanket the Warmie.)
•• Speaking of things seen on TV, today also brings an update on Bill Cosby, who suffered his second week of indignity thanks to the rape allegations (and fallout from said allegations) that grow more substantial by the day. Among this week's Cosby-related developments:
* Public pronouncements from at least six more alleged victims of sexual assault at the hands of Cosby.
* The cancellation and indefinite postponement of Cosby's scheduled projects with Netflix and NBC, and the yanking of all Cosby Show reruns from the TV Land network.
* An admission from former NBC employee Frank Scotti, who told the New York Daily News that he helped facilitate Cosby's hookups during the Cosby Show era—standing guard outside Cosby's dressing room and paying off women in exchange for their silence.
Meanwhile, Cosby continued to dismiss the highly specific and repetitive allegations as "innuendo," while his lawyer told the press, "We've reached a point of absurdity." Indeed.
•• Speaking of accused rapists: Today also brings a story out of Portland, where this morning 66-year-old Terrence Bean—a prominent gay rights activist, founder of the Human Rights Campaign, and major Democratic donor and fundraiser—was arrested and charged with the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old boy in 2013. "The indictment charges Bean with two counts of third-degree sodomy, a felony, and one count of third-degree sex abuse, a misdemeanor," reports the Oregonian, which tomorrow will report the follow-up arrest of 25-year-old Kiah Loy Lawson, Bean's ex-boyfriend, who'll face charges stemming from the same alleged 2013 encounter. Ugh and stay tuned.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20 In better news, today President Barack Obama appeared on live television to unveil his executive action on immigration, a GOP-infuriating move that will, as the Washington Post writes, "offer a legal reprieve to the undocumented parents of US citizens and permanent residents who've resided in the country for at least five years" and "expand the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allowed young immigrants, under 30 years old, who arrived as children to apply for a deportation deferral and who are now here legally."
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21 Speaking of major announcements, today brought the results of the House Intelligence Committee's two-year investigation into the 2012 attack on a US diplomatic compound in Benghazi. To the dismay of countless Tea Party and GOP conspiracy theorists, the Republican-controlled investigation found no wrongdoing by the Obama administration. "Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria," reports the Associated Press.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22 Nothing happened today, unless you count the birthdays of actor Geraldine Page, tennis legend Billie Jean King, Talking Heads' bassist Tina Weymouth, and both Last Days and Last Days' mother.
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23 The week ends, as weeks tend to do this time of year, with football—specifically, the Seattle Seahawks, who left behind their recent klutzy losses and locker-room intrigue to clobber the top-ranked, allegedly fearsome Arizona Cardinals 19–3 today at CenturyLink Field. To celebrate, Last Days ventured into both of the Alderwood Mall stores devoted entirely to Seahawks merchandise and basked in the blue-and-green glory, from hats and jackets to kitchenware and Christmas ornaments. (However, the only Seahawks-related menorah we could find was on Etsy.)
Thank you for your hospitality, Alderwood Mall. Everyone else, send hot tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Twitter @davidschmader.