MONDAY, DECEMBER 4 This week of omnipresent gunmen, faux retardation, and unmistakable "blort" noises kicks off with a story destined for the annals of Christmas lore. Last Days is speaking, of course, of the urban-legendary dealings that went down yesterday in South Carolina, where an exasperated mother punished her 12-year-old son—who'd repeatedly defied orders to stay away from his "hidden" Christmas presents—by having the boy arrested. Details come from the Associated Press, which identifies the irresistible present-to-be as a Game Boy, which the boy repeatedly snatched from its hiding place at his great-grandmother's house to indulge in some illicit pre-Christmas gaming. When his mother discovered him with the Game Boy again yesterday morning, she called police, who arrested the boy on petty-larceny charges and took him to the police station in handcuffs. "My grandmother went out of her way to lay away a toy and paid on this thing for months," said tough-lovin' mom Brandi Ervin. Next up: a date with the Department of Juvenile Justice, where his mother hopes her son will be sentenced to a program that will finally "scare him straight."

••Speaking of freaked-out parents: Today former president George H. W. Bush spoke at a forum honoring his youngest son, Jeb, who will relinquish his post as governor of Florida next month. More striking than anything the elder Bush said is what he did: broke down in sobs, which the 82-year-old ex-president attributed to a burst of paternal affection, while pundits of all stripes posited juicier theories. "Jeb lost his [1994] election, George W. won, and so the family launched the son who won as opposed to the son they wished had won," said placid Newsweek firebrand Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group, suggesting Bush's blubbering was the result of cumulative Dubya-related shame. This theory was seconded by Clift's fellow guest Pat Buchanan: "I think the older president is carrying around a huge tumor or agony and concern about his eldest son in the White House."

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5 From the Emerald City's Tom Skerritt to Bellingham's Hilary Swank to that guy who dresses up like historical figures and talks on the Seattle Channel, the Northwest is home to a wealth of notable acting talent, whose hallowed ranks were joined today by a breakout newcomer: Pete Costello, the 28-year-old man from Vancouver, Washington, who stands accused of faking retardation since at least August 1997. But as the Associated Press reports, Mr. Costello's wasn't a solo act—his mother, 46-year-old Rosie Marie Costello, has been collecting disability benefits on her son's behalf since he was 8 years old, insisting for the past 20 years that her son couldn't read or write, shower, or drive a car. Now prosecutors allege The Costello Show was all a ruse and claim to have the videotapes to prove it. In one recording, Mr. Costello allegedly feigns retardation during an interview with Social Security workers; in another, he lucidly appears in court to contest a traffic ticket, miraculously cured of the developmental disabilities for which his mother has received a reported $111,000 in government benefits. In September, the duo was indicted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government, with both mother and son pleading not guilty today in federal court. Spicy twist: Prosecutors believe Mama Costello pulled the same trick with her daughter, whom officials have been unable to locate. Stay tuned.

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6 The week continues with the avalanche of damning evidence presented by the Iraq Study Group, which today released the results of its extensive investigation into Operation Iraqi Freedom. It wasn't pretty: The 10-member commission characterized the situation in Iraq as "grave and deteriorating," said President Bush's policy in Iraq "is not working," and warned of a "slide toward chaos [that] could trigger the collapse of Iraq's government and a humanitarian catastrophe." Among the panel's suggestions for improvement: embracing diplomacy (including negotiations with Iran and Syria) to stabilize Iraq, and withdrawing most combat troops by early 2008. President Bush pledged to treat each proposal "seriously" and act in "a timely fashion."

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7 Nothing happened today.

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8 Twenty-five years after the tragic assassination of John Lennon, today a Chicago man went all Mark David Chapman on a high-rise law office, shooting four, killing three, and claiming the slaughter was retaliation for a stolen invention. Details come from the Associated Press, which reports 59-year-old Joe Jackson showed up this morning at the Chicago offices of the intellectual property law firm Wood, Phillips, Katz, Clark & Mortimer, where he forced a security guard at gunpoint to take him up to the 38th floor, grabbed a hostage, and started shooting. Killed were 58-year-old attorney Michael McKenna, 65-year-old attorney Allen Hoover, and 78-year-old retired teacher/part-time mailroom worker Paul Goodson, along with the disgruntled gunman himself, who was fatally shot in the face and chest by members of a summoned SWAT team. Heartbreaking detail: The invention at the center of the deadly patent battle was described as "a toilet for a truck." (You have blood on your hands, Tailgate Toilet®.)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9 Speaking of deadly gunmen, this weekend the Northwest was littered with 'em. In the University District, one man fatally shot another in the head. In the Central District, a man shot and critically wounded a young woman before fatally shooting himself. In Shoreline, someone fatally shot a beloved 7-Eleven clerk. Tiny ray of hope: Next week in Olympia, State Senator Adam Kline will announce work on a gun-control bill that would help make it harder for furious people to get their hands on deadly weapons.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10 The week ends with another pungent slice of life onboard Seattle Metro, courtesy of Hot Tipper Tyler. "I was riding the 15 bus back to Ballard after work. We had just reached Market Street when I heard someone make an unmistakable 'blort' noise. A moment later, I felt the vomit hit the back of my neck. I turned around and a very chagrined-looking lady mumbled 'sorry' and fled the bus. Needless to say, the last 10 minutes of my ride were unpleasant, and though the rancid puke ruined a hardcover book as well as my irreplaceable trail jacket, I felt worse for the poor woman who threw up on a complete stranger. Hopefully she feels better without whatever that purple goo was in her system." Thanks to Tyler, who clearly deserves a medal, and P.S. to the curious: The ruined hardcover was Isabel Allende's Zorro. recommended

Attention Showgirls lovers: You presently have two opportunities to expose yourselves to Paul Verhoeven's masterwork with live annotation by yours truly. If you're reading this before 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 15, you can bid on the Strangercrombie package featuring a private Showgirls screening in your home at Or if you prefer watching Showgirls in a nightclub packed with drunken others, come to the Triple Door on Thursday, January 4, for a blowout Showgirls spectacular, thrown in honor of the child-advocacy heroes at Washington State CASA ( For tickets, call (206) 838-4333. And send Hot Tips to