MONDAY, JANUARY 1 Hot on the heels of last Saturday's contentious execution of deposed Iraqi dictator/convicted criminal-against-humanity Saddam Hussein, the week kicks off with the hottest youth-oriented danger trend since "ghost riding the whip": impersonating Saddam's death by hanging. The first of the copycat hangings occurred yesterday, when a 9-year-old boy in Pakistan wrapped up a day spent watching TV footage of the Saddam execution by "attempting to imitate the hanging," and, tragically, succeeding. Next up was a 10-year-old boy in Houston, who watched Sunday's news reports then attempted to mimic the event with his bunk bed and a belt; he, too, succeeded. The week's third and final Saddamicide will land on Thursday, when a 15-year-old girl in India will kill herself replicating the Saddam hanging, making a political point to boot. "She said they had hanged a patriot," said the girl's father to the Associated Foreign Press. "We didn't take her seriously when she told us that she wanted to feel the pain Saddam did during the execution." Condolences to all who lost loved ones through reckless Saddam impersonation, and P.S. to the kids: Please try to find a better role model to emulate than an executed Iraqi dictator. (May we suggest Mandy Moore?)

TUESDAY, JANUARY 2 In much better news, the week continues with a thrilling tale of heroism from New York City, where today 50-year-old Wesley Autrey was standing with his two daughters on a subway platform when he saw a man fall off the platform onto the tracks. With a train approaching, Autrey dove into action, wrestling the man—20-year-old Cameron Hollopeter, who was suffering a seizure—to the center of the tracks and pinning his convulsing body to the ground as the train passed overhead. Miraculously, neither man came into any contact with the train, and the heroic Autrey walked away without a scratch while grateful Hollopeter was taken to St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in stable condition. "I didn't want the man's body to get run over," said Autrey of his motives to CBS. "Plus, I was with my daughters and I didn't want them to see that." By week's end, Autrey's selfless act will have earned him vast bling, including a $10,000 check from Donald Trump, a one-week, all-expenses-paid family vacation to Disney World, and the Bronze Medallion—New York City's highest civic award, honoring exceptional citizenship and outstanding achievement—from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who'll also give Autrey a year's worth of free subway rides. Hurrah for everyone (and thank God Autrey's daughters didn't have to watch their heroic dad get mangled by a train).

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3 Today brought a shrieky bit of drama to Washington, D.C., where a press conference called by House Democrats to unveil their lobbying reform package was drowned out by chants from antiwar activists who, according to the Washington Business Journal, "want Congress to stop funding the Iraq war before taking on other issues." Among the Democrats' disrupted proposals: a ban on gifts from lobbyists and mandatory public disclosure of negotiations for private-sector jobs. Among the Democrats' disrupting protestors: Peace Mom™ Cindy Sheehan, who led the group chant, "De-escalate, investigate, troops home now!" "Sheehan says she has nothing against lobbying reform," reports the WBJ. "But she and her fellow antiwar activists want Democrats to know they will keep pressuring Congress to end the war in Iraq."

THURSDAY, JANUARY 4 When it rains, it pours: Today brings another instance of remarkable heroism in New York. Unlike Tuesday's "Subway Superman," however, today's heroes didn't exhibit superhuman bravery, just exceptionally good timing, finding themselves outside a Bronx apartment building when a 3-year-old boy fell out of a fourth-story window. Further details come from ABC News: After tumbling out of the only window in his family's apartment (reportedly left open by the boy's 50-year-old babysitter after a smoke), the Bronx toddler had the good fortune to land on 40-year-old Pedro Nevarez and 43-year-old Julio Gonzalez, who broke the boy's fall and got him safely en route to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was treated for cuts and abrasions to his head and face (he hit a tree on his way down). "This is the week of heroes in New York," said New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to ABC, which reports detectives are now questioning the allegedly errant babysitter.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 5 "It seemed like any other Friday night at Ruth's Chris Steak House," writes Hot Tipper Greg, who was among the postholiday diners this evening at Seventh Avenue and Pine Street when "around 7:30, a large, sweaty, and completely naked man entered the restaurant in a frenzy. He's shouting, calling random people 'faggot,' and throwing punches at anyone in his path. The ensuing chaos could be heard from across the restaurant. One gentleman was hit quite hard in the face, and his wife rushed to his defense, swinging her purse at the large, naked man, who seemed strung out on a variety of chemicals. Finally a few brave employees took the man down and held him until the SPD arrived to carry him off." Thanks to Hot Tipper Greg for noticing and sharing, and further thanks to the Ruth's Chris Steak House employee who corroborated Greg's tale. "It took seven people to subdue him," said the sweet female employee, who confirmed the ranting intruder was "naked—except for a watch. He accessorized."

SATURDAY, JANUARY 6 Nothing happened today, unless you count the Seagulls' thrillingly lucky trouncing of the Dallas Cowboys.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 7 As regular readers can attest, Last Days routinely serves as a guided tour of exotic emotions, from the burning pathos of the baby left to drown in a bucket of its mother's vomit to the agonized, there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I empathy of the morbidly obese woman whose immobility allowed her skin to graft over her sofa. However, in a rare twist, this week's column ends not with some perverse metaemotion but with a sure-fire emotional crowd pleaser, courtesy of ABC News, which reports the feel-good story of Kevin Alfred Strom, the nationally prominent white supremacist who was arrested this week on charges of possessing kiddie porn. As ABC reports, Strom is the founder of the National Vanguard, the white-supremacist group through which Strom distinguished himself as a "leading intellectual" of the white-power movement. But Strom's career as a cross-burning Foucault hit a monumental snag this Thursday, when he was arrested by FBI agents at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia. According to the indictment, Strom allegedly possessed or attempted to possess "multiple images of child pornography" on his computer's hard drive. In addition, Strom was charged with witness tampering, which reportedly involved "physically assaulting and mentally intimidating a witness to his criminal activity." Stay tuned, and viva schadenfreude. recommended

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