MONDAY, MARCH 1 This week of canned laughs, encroaching equality, and the rich collision of gay prostitutes and the Vatican kicks off with a gritty reminder of mortality reported by Hot Tipper/Seattle playwright Scot Augustson, who was strolling through the Arboretum yesterday when he came upon some ashes. "Yes, those kind of ashes," writes Scot. "Cremated remains. A little gray circle around a tree. I don't know whether they were human or pet, but they were what they were. (Wee tiny bone fragments are a dead giveaway.)" In a bit of thematic overkill, less than 24 hours later, Scot was confronted by another batch of cremains of the day, these found this afternoon at the Montlake Playfield. "It is getting downright creepy," reports Scot, who celebrates a birthday tomorrow and patiently looks forward to one day being a bunch of ashes scattered along the bluff at Fort Worden.

TUESDAY, MARCH 2 The week continues with a singularly cynical night of American entertainment courtesy of NBC, as the resuscitated The Tonight Show with Jay Leno welcomed failed Alaskan governor/failed vice-presidential nominee/American success story Sarah Palin to its Los Angeles soundstage. Performing the curious double duty of political personality/fledgling comedienne, Palin appeared in a skit spoofing her written-on-her-hand talking points and delivered a comedy monologue including jokes about Alaska and Botox. Palin then sat down with Leno for an interview, during which she (a new employee of Fox News) casually quipped that our "broken" media could use more fairness and balance. Through it all, the studio audience cheered and chortled like Palin was the second coming of Carrot Top, or so it seemed to those watching the broadcast. But then came the widely disseminated testimony of Michael Stinson, the activist and blogger who attended Palin's Tonight Show taping and reports that the audience's positive response was a product of postproduction, accomplished via the addition of laugh and applause tracks. "Seventy percent of the audience wasn't buying it," reports Stinson, who sat in the studio audience while Palin's "jokes" drew small laughs, uncomfortable chuckles, and, occasionally, crickets. NBC denies Palin's set was subjected to any special enhancements.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3 In real news: One day after the Supreme Court refused to block the District of Columbia's new legislation recognizing gay marriage, today Washington, D.C., began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, becoming the sixth bit of United States territory—after Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont—where marriage equality is a reality. As the Associated Press reports, more than a dozen couples lined up early this morning at the city's Moultrie Courthouse, with D.C.'s first gay marriage license going to partners-of-12-years Sinjoyla Townsend and Angelisa Young. "It's like waking up Christmas morning," said Young outside the marriage bureau, which was staffed with extra workers to help with today's big gay rush. "Everybody who wants a marriage license is going to get one," said courthouse spokesperson Leah Gurowitz to the AP. "It may take a little longer, but they will get their license." Cheers to D.C.'s legislators and lucky citizens, jeers to the antiequality ogres still hoping to overturn today's triumph in court.

THURSDAY, MARCH 4 The week continues with international translations of the face-fuckingly salacious story published yesterday in La Repubblica, Italy's second-largest daily newspaper and first-best chronicler of the collision of gay prostitution and the Vatican. Details come from the New York Times, which identifies the twisty tale's primary players as 63-year-old Angelo Balducci, a Vatican-appointed Gentleman of His Holiness and a former member of the board of Italy's public works department, and 40-year-old Ghinedu Ehiem, a Nigerian-born member of the elite Vatican Giulia Choir who also allegedly served as negotiator between Papal Gentleman Balducci and all sorts of male prostitutes, from young choristers to money-hungry seminarians to undocumented immigrants seeking residency status. Further details are so dirty the NYT won't touch them, so thank God for Gay News Daily, which dives fearlessly into the rent-boys-in-the-Vatican muck: "Ehiem and his assistant Lorenzo Renzi, 33, allegedly arranged for prostitutes for Balducci several times a week," reports GND. "The two men are said to have operated a network of aspiring young priests and choir members, and sometimes recruited foreigners seeking to secure their immigration status. In 72 pages of transcribed wiretaps, Ehiem tells Balducci about one possible candidate: 'Two meters [six feet], 97 kilos [213 pounds], 33 years old and completely active [top].' In one wiretap from last December, Renzi is heard explaining the rules of engagement: 'You'll get up to 2,000 euros... Do not touch his balls... Put on some music, take out the [inaudible], swallow the Viagra, and adelante!'" Today, both Balducci and Ehiem will be stripped of all Vatican credentials, and oh yeah: Mr. Balducci is already in prison, having been jailed last month on unaffiliated corruption charges. Stay classy, Vatican. (And if the year produces a more schadenfreude-rich headline than "Vatican Enmeshed in Gay Sex Allegations," we'll eat a priest.)

FRIDAY, MARCH 5 The week continues back in Washington, D.C., where the previously newsworthy marriage-equality ruling was totally eclipsed by yesterday's crazy pothead on a suicide mission at the Pentagon. Details come from ABC News, which identifies our subject as John Patrick Bedell, a 36-year-old California man who spent years battling marijuana addiction (and marijuana-related criminal charges) before driving to D.C. to attack the Pentagon. "At 6:40 p.m. Thursday, [Bedell] approached one of the entrances to the Pentagon and began firing," reports ABC. "He had two semiautomatic weapons concealed in his clothing and a large amount of ammunition." Bedell managed to shoot two Pentagon officers before being fatally shot in the head. The officers escaped with "grazing injuries," Bedell was pronounced dead at the hospital, and the cops' best guess at a motive are Bedell's internet ramblings about 9/11 being an inside job. Condolences to all.

•• In much better news: Today brought a fat wad of triumph to Lynn Shelton and the cast of Humpday, which tonight won the John Cassavetes Award—given to the best feature film made for under $500,000—at the Independent Spirit Awards. Congratulations, people of Humpday!

SATURDAY, MARCH 6 Nothing happened today, unless you count the ongoing search for the three teenage boys who beat up a disabled man at a Rainier Valley bus stop last night. "That's how we do it in the South End," crowed the teens after robbing the disabled man of $1, as witnesses told police and police told KIRO. Dear South End: Please learn how to do it better.

SUNDAY, MARCH 7 Nothing happened today, unless you count the 452nd Academy Awards, covered in full in this week's New Column! recommended

Dear everyone: If you have any facts about Monday's ashes, let us know. Send Hot Tips to lastdays@thestranger.com.