· · Also today, The Inquirer reported that a shameless self-promoter and convicted child-killer who escaped from a South Jersey prison 27 years ago was taken into custody after posing as a former member of the oldies group Sha Na Na, under the invented name Daniel "Danny C" Catalano. In 1974, 55-year-old Elmer Edward Solly was convicted of beating to death Christopher Welsh, the two-year-old son of his girlfriend, and was given a 15-to-20-year sentence. Solly escaped while on a furlough, and sometime in the '90s ended up in Florida, where he assumed the identity of a doo-wop bad boy complete with a satin Sha Na Na jacket, a gold Sha Na Na necklace, a customized van with the vanity plate "SNN 1," and a website. "Florida is a place for misfits and losers," said "Marvelous" Marvin Boone, an oldies radio DJ in the St. Petersburg area. "You come down here, you can be Elvis' bodyguard for a year."
TUESDAY, MAY 22 The Yakama Indian tribe performed two ritual rain ceremonies aimed at ending the drought in the Northwest--and then sent a $32,000 bill to the Bonneville Power Administration, which operates 29 hydroelectric dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers, The Associated Press reported today. Randy Settler, a tribal council member, believes the March ceremonies were beneficial. "We've had more rain since those events," he said. "We've had a lot of rain."
· · New details about the pointless death of Spokane third-grader Nathan Walters emerged today, the Associated Press reported. Nine-year-old Walters, who was known to have a potentially fatal allergy to peanuts, was given a lunch while on a school field trip last Friday. The lunch contained a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, a peanut-butter cookie, and trail mix containing peanuts. Though he only ate the cookie, Nathan immediately became ill and died soon afterward. School Superintendent Gary Livingston admitted, "No special lunch request was made by the school for Nathan." Rather than put our kid's life in the hands of the same sort of inept civil servants who molded our own mind, Last Days would have packed his damn lunch.
· · Also today, Reuters reported that police shot and killed 24-year-old Juan Gutierrez on Saturday, after he attempted to scalp his three-year-old daughter. Police Chief David Ashburn of Angleton, Texas, told reporters, "It was a steak knife being used, and the child's scalp had actually been cut four to six inches, and [Gutierrez was] peeling the hair and the scalp back." The traumatized tot is expected to make a full recovery. The lunatic had reportedly come from Houston to celebrate the girl's birthday. Some present, huh?
· · Also today, Afghanistan's Taliban rulers ordered non-Muslim minorities to wear distinctive badges on their clothes when they go out of doors, Reuters reported. The Taliban-controlled Voice of Shariat radio quoted religious police chief Maulawi Abdul Wali as saying that the order, which evokes memories of the Nazis' treatment of Jews, had been issued in the light of a fatwa, or religious decree. This human-rights violation came just a day after a new 120-bed hospital in the capital of Kabul was closed when armed members of the religious police forced their way in, beat staff members, and took away three employees. The hospital apparently made the grave error of allowing men and women to eat in the same room.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 23 With all the dead children in this week's column, Last Days is pleased to relate a relatively uplifting story about a spunky little black dog. Glenda Stevens discovered her canine companion, Sweetie, sprawled lifeless on the pavement after the dog was hit by a mail delivery truck on Monday, the Associated Press reported. Hours after burying her beloved pet, she saw Sweetie's hind legs sticking out of the ground. "Have you ever heard of an animal digging itself out of a grave?" Stevens asked. "She's my baby and I love her." Stevens plans to take her zombie baby, who suffered a broken front leg and a broken jaw, to a specialist for treatment.
· · Also today, students at a Boulder, Colorado, high school held a same-sex "kiss-in" to protest the yearbook's refusal to run a photo of two girls in a lip-lock, The Denver Post reported. "Coming out is a very serious issue," yearbook adviser Ruth Palmer said. "The decision was made out of consideration for the kids and their families." Last Days supports the right of gay and lesbian youths to grow up just as mortified of their yearbook photos as straight kids.
THURSDAY, MAY 24 Hot Tipper Rhonda phoned to confess that her cell phone, which she thought was lost for a week, was actually sitting on top of her SUV. "I could hear it ringing in the distance, but I thought I was simply losing my mind." Thanks for summoning the courage required to share this tale, Rhonda!
FRIDAY, MAY 25 Hot Tipper Chris phoned to say that while he was enjoying a sandwich outside of Dish--the tasty Ballardian deli--he watched a group of elderly tourists bunch together for a snapshot. But in lieu of shouting the traditional "cheese" to coax a smile from his subjects, the photographer hollered, "Say Ballard!" Chris, who currently resides in a condo on Capitol Hill, said that he is going to move to the Promised Land as soon as his lease expires.
SATURDAY, MAY 26 Texas took one baby step toward the rest of the industrialized world today when its legislature approved a bill that would ban the execution of convicted killers determined to be mentally retarded. Governor Rick Perry has indicated he will wait for a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court before deciding whether to sign the bill into law. The nation's highest court is currently considering the case of Texas death-row inmate John Paul Penry, a 44-year-old convicted of a 1979 murder, who is said to have the mental age of a seven-year-old.
SUNDAY, MAY 2 Confidential to the creepy guy who kept turning around and frowning at Last Days during the screening of Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? Bothered by people laughing too loudly during funny movies? Wait for it to come out on video. And while we're chatting, lose the rat-tail, buddy, it's terrifying.