In an attempt to modernize their notch-above-truckstop image and shake off the stigma of their recent $45.7 million racial discrimination lawsuit, Denny's is getting a makeover. Today the restaurant chain announced plans to spend $30 million this year to revamp 150 Denny's into jukebox-rockin' 1950s-style diners. "In order to stay relevant with today's changing society, you have to refresh your image or you become really irrelevant," Denny's eloquent president John Romandetti told the Associated Press. The Seattle area is already blessed with three newfangled Denny's (in Kent, Federal Way, and Parkland), and the company eventually wants to convert all 1,700 Denny's restaurants across the country. The new Denny's diners feature stainless-steel exteriors, neon lights, rotating pie cases, and jukeboxes, along with new "classic American" menu items (chili, meatloaf, pot roast) and snazzy new employee uniforms (colorful bowling-style shirts.) And in true 1950s retro style, Denny's will now serve colored folk out back behind the kitchen.
· · Also today: Some Indians killed a whale.


Today: An astounding display of smoker's etiquette on the University Bridge. This afternoon, an attentive Last Days Hot Tipper was crossing the U Bridge when he saw a man walking and smoking a cigarette. To the astonishment of our eyewitness, when the man had finished smoking, he stopped walking, snuffed out his cigarette on his shoe, and tossed the butt in a trash can. "It was the first time I've seen that happen in my five years in Seattle," reports our man on the street, who was so impressed he approached the Good Smoking Samaritan and thanked him. Life is, indeed, beautiful.


After months of unprecedented hype, Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace was unleashed today on the general public, breaking opening-day box-office records and causing many, many people who should know better to behave like, well, a bunch of spastic geeks lining up for Star Wars. As even the self-loathing Last Days has too much self-respect to buy into the shameless Lucas hype machine, we were left to gather opinions on the film from weak-willed friends and colleagues. The verdict: "It's okay." Most enjoyed the acting, all enjoyed the pod race, and everyone bonded together in their hatred of computer-animated goofball Jar Jar Binks, the worst thing projected onto a movie screen since Patch Adams.
· · In other Star Wars news: After hawking his overblown kiddie flick as the cinematic equivalent of the second coming of Christ to any franchise that would have it (only the power of the Force-and owner PepsiCo-could've brought Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Kentucky Fried Chicken together), today George Lucas dared to diss his light-saber swinging, Yoda mask wearing fans in the New York Post. "It's only a movie," said the poofy-haired Lucas. "People should get a life." Phantom Menace actor Liam Neeson was even less sympathetic to die-hard fans: "Even if my career is on a slippery slope at the speed of light, I will never be at a Star Wars convention."


Glory be! Nearly one full year after their leaders shameful resignation, Overlake Christian Church elders have finally admitted that former Pastor Bob Moorehead is a lying, parishioner-groping freak. In a letter to church members (dated May 18 and made public today), the elders confessed that they had erred in their support of Moorehead, who last year faced accusations of sexual molestation from at least 17 male parishioners. The elders begged the congregation's forgiveness, called themselves "ordinary, fallible men," and cited "new evidence" -- as yet undisclosed -- that forced the reversal of their position of support. While it's nice to know that sometimes even Christians come to their senses, one thing is conspicuously absent from the elders' statement: an apology. Moorehead's victims -- shunned by the church for their accusations -- received not a word of apology from the supposedly repentant elders. "They accused us of lying when all we've ever done is tell the truth," said former Overlake member/Moorehead accuser Gary McLean to The Seattle Times, adding that he doesn't expect he'll ever get an apology from Moorehead himself. McLean should rest easy, as Bob Moorehead will surely spend eternity roasting in Hell with Slobodan Milosevic, Lenny Kravitz, and Jar Jar Binks.
· · Also today: Broadway bomb scare! A bustling lunch hour at the Harvard Market was interrupted by the presence of a bomb (marked with the words "I'm a bomb -- don't touch me") placed in a newspaper box on the corner of Broadway and Pike. Seattle's Bomb Squad sicced a groovy, bomb-defusing robot on the volatile box; an explosion was heard but not seen, and no one was hurt.


Today: An enthralling tale of heroism at the International House of Pancakes. In the wee hours of this morning, at the IHOP on Aurora, a surprisingly large number of customers (around 25 or so) were enjoying late-night feasts, served up by a single, overworked waiter. According to our eyewitness, the poor guy was "swamped and doing his best," but that didn't stop a table of "rowdy, shit-talkin' skater types" from giving him wads of unnecessary shit. After it became apparent that the snotty punks weren't going to let up, a solitary and very brave customer told the punks to shut the fuck up and stop being pricks. The leader of the gang then approached the male customer and offered to "take him outside and make him his bitch." To everyone's amazement, the customer accepted the challenge, the pair went outside, and after one cheap shot by the shithead punk, the brave customer proceeded to give the punk a course in Bitchmaking 101, kicking the living shit out of the guy and leaving him face down on the pavement. Our hero was rewarded with cheers from the onlooking customers and a free meal from the waiter.


As diligent Last Days readers remember, last week we ran an item on the benefits and dangers of the food supplement/party drug GHB, anticipating and inviting knowledgeable responses from the medical community. Today we got one, from a fellow named Lamont at the Department of Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Washington. Lamont's bits of wisdom: GHB shouldn't be combined with alcohol-not because it causes nausea, but because it causes death; 3 ml of concentrated GHB solution can contain enough of the drug to render someone unconscious; and no one should ever take more than a teaspoon of GHB of unknown potency. Also, GHB didn't kill River Phoenix -- cocaine (mixed with heroin, Valium, and an over-the-counter stimulant) did. Thank you for sharing, smart man.


The week wraps up with more weirdness in a newspaper distribution box -- this time outside of the Cinerama, where a whole bunch of people were standing in line for the 10 pm showing of The Phantom Menace. One man got the idea to kill time by reading a Seattle Weekly, but when he opened the distribution box, he found only 11 sheets of graph paper covered with teensy handwriting. It turns out the sheets contained the whole of Ecclesiastes (it's a book in the Old Testament, you dope), and featured this preface from the writer: "I began and finished copying Ecclesiastes on Wednesday, May 19, 1999, in the central library in Seattle from 9:15 am to 3 pm, straight through without stopping. This is a mystery book -- under the sun." The text was written in black ink, with the phrase "under the sun" (which appears in the book close to 50 times) underlined in orange crayon. "It's by far the most interesting thing I've ever found in a Seattle Weekly box," said our man on the street.

Thank you Jesse, the Hot Tip King. The rest of you: Get busy. Send your Hot Tips to or call the 24-hour Hot Tips hotline at 323-7101, ext 3113.