Each week, Last Days scours the globe for the week's most fascinating and significant news events, from splashy advances in the fight against bioterrorism to the latest in fecal protest. However, due to circumstances beyond our control, this week Last Days only had access to a supermarket newsstand in Portland, Oregon, forcing us to draw each and every one of this week's items from the glossy, glammy world of popular magazines.

The week begins with the snazzy hiphop digest Vibe, which this month features a smashing cover story on Last Days' pop-culture obsession du jour: the creepy, caught-on-videotape, supposed sexual shenanigans of R&B superstar R. Kelly. For those who don't know R. Kelly from S. Epatha Merkerson, he is the vocal force behind such gazillion-selling pop hits as "I Believe I Can Fly," the soppy, gospel-tinged power ballad featured in the kids' flick Space Jam in 1996 and at every high-school graduation ceremony since. But Kelly gained a whole new level of fame last February, when a mysterious videotape arrived at the Chicago Sun-Times containing 26 minutes of footage depicting a man who looked exactly like R. Kelly having sex with (and urinating on) a female partner who looked exactly like a 14-year-old girl--according to the girl's aunt, who identified her niece after Illinois law enforcement officials played her the tape. Penned by Lola Ogunnaike, the Vibe article delved deep into the scandal known as "Pampergate," offering detail after mortifying detail: Not only did R. Kelly allegedly have sex with a minor, he videotaped it--an act which instantly boosts the crime of sex with a minor into the felony of producing child pornography.

And not only did R. Kelly produce Aaliyah's 1994 debut album, he also married the recently deceased pop star when she was 15 years old. (The marriage was annulled, and the debut record was titled Age Ain't Nothin' But a Number.) Vibe reports that Kelly's lawyer has denounced the incriminating video as a forgery, but video experts have dismissed that claim as a near impossibility, requiring thousands of hours of painstaking labor. Chicago police are now three months into their criminal investigation of Kelly, who has yet to be charged with any crime in connection with the video. If charged with and convicted of a felony, Kelly could face up to 15 years behind bars.

TUESDAY, APRIL 30 Speaking of pop superstars (and child pornography): Today Last Days had the pleasure of perusing J-14, the "just for teens!" mag devoted to the worshipping of today's hottest young music, TV, and movie stars. Among the riches in this month's issue--featuring a kick-ass centerfold of Pink, the bitch to Britney's babe, and the most promising new pop star since little Miss Ciccone--was the J-14 rap dictionary, devoted to deciphering and translating today's hottest rap rhymes. For example: the X-Ecutioners' "My beats get feet to steppin' like Fast-Actin' Tinactin." (Translation: "Just like foot medication, my righteous rap makes people want to dance.") Or Ghostface Killah's "Just like a fresh pair of Royals on the first day of school/It was love, even from the jump I spoiled you." (Translation: "Our romance reminds me of a brand of sneakers I had when I was young that has since gone out of style.") And finally G. Dep's "I'm here now and I'm bangin', kid, you softer than the Queen of England." (Translation: "I'm edgy, you're not.") Inspired by J-14's interpretive brilliance, Last Days composed an additional entry: "J-14 rap dictionary." (Translation: "Lame-ass honkies struggling to make word count.")

Speaking of lame-ass honkies struggling to make word count: Today Last Days snatched up the brand-new People, featuring the magazine's annual list of the 50 most beautiful people. However, we never got to see who made the list, as our eye was captured--and every fiber of our mind blown--by a particular photograph, which we stared at for 25 minutes, causing us to feel queasy for the next 72 hours.

Speaking of disgustingly creepy men: Today Last Days delved into Maxim, the men's magazine devoted to the sexy side of straight singlehood, beloved by closet homosexuals and date rapists. Alongside such vital offerings as "Chickproof Your Pad" and a guide to spotting easy girls in bars (hint: look for unguarded drinks) was Maxim's sassy stab at jocularity: "Die Laughing," an open-forum column in which Maxim's readers are invited to submit their very favorite jokes. The results are as face-numbingly dumb as you'd hope. Sample entry: Why don't witches wear underwear? So they can get a better grip on the broom. Sometimes Last Days is embarrassed to have skin.

FRIDAY, MAY 3 Today Last Days took a spin through Us magazine--basically People's slutty cousin--drawn in by irresistible cover text: "Celeb Cheapskates Revealed!" Between the covers, we devoured the dirt on penny-pinching stars, and were galled to discover that America's highest-paid blow-up doll, Britney Spears, is a lousy tipper. Us listed a number of eateries where waitstaff were completely stiffed by the stingy Ms. Spears, from an unnamed Las Vegas coffee stand to the upscale West London bistro Bellini. Even more damning, Us had to go all the way back to Howard Hughes and Cary Grant to find companions for Britney in the celebrity cheapskate hall of fame. The message is clear: Unless she's ready for additional dousings with urine, Britney had better learn the meaning of gratuity.

SATURDAY, MAY 4 It's the question that has beguiled humanity since 1986: How come Oprah always looks so good in her photos? Today Last Days discovered the answer in O: The Oprah Magazine, in which the illustrious Ms. Winfrey shares her pointers for being photographed at your best. Among Oprah's shutterbug secrets: widening her eyes, parting her lips, pointing her breasts to the sky, and conjuring "a tender thought" in the moment before the shutter clicks. Offering evidence of the effectiveness of her tips, O's one and only cover model outdoes herself by appearing seven different times on this month's cover.

Today our subscription ran out.

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