MONDAY, OCTOBER 15 The week kicks off with two tales of wacky happenings from foreign lands. The first story comes from Rome, where today an 84-year-old Italian man confessed to killing his 72-year-old wife with a hammer after she served him a really bad cup of coffee. "It was disgusting," said the elderly killer to his prosecutors in the town of Bari. "I drank a little, then I picked up the cup and smashed it on the floor." Reuters reports that the slain wife's body was found by a neighbor, who alerted the police. The husband was immediately arrested on suspicion of murder, with the suspicion quickly confirmed as fact as the seemingly shame-free killer led cops to the murder weapon and the blood-sodden clothes he'd worn during the assault. Obviously there's some closing joke about coffee to be made here. However, Last Days took a solemn oath to never, ever write a joke about coffee (or rain, or slugs, or traffic), and readers requiring coffee-based humor should immediately turn to Seattle morning radio. (Or perhaps just kill themselves.)

··Speaking of suicide: It's a thought that undoubtedly crossed the minds of the unlucky family in Sweden, who, after wondering why the potato chips they were eating tasted a bit spicier than usual, discovered a fried mouse at the bottom of the bag. "We nearly threw up when we saw it," mother Laila Axelsson told the Stockholm newspaper Trollhättans Tidning. Daughter Sandra added that the rodent-contaminated chips "tasted funny and chewy, a bit extra-spicy." Last Days regrets that the Axelsson family had to suffer through such grossness, but we're glad to learn that mice taste spicy.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16 Today the internationally renowned, wheelchair-bound British science geek Stephen Hawking warned that humanity is doomed, unless we reach out to the stars. "I don't think the human race will survive the next thousand years unless we spread into space," Hawking told Britain's Daily Telegraph. "There are too many accidents that can befall life on a single planet." Hawking added that the coming Armageddon is less likely to result from a Cold War-style nuclear holocaust than from a collection of smaller, more insidious attacks. "In the long term, I am more worried about biology," said Hawking in his funky robot voice. "Nuclear weapons need large facilities, but genetic engineering can be done in a small lab. You can't regulate every lab in the world." Still, Hawking said the chances of humanity pulling through looked good. "I am an optimist. We will reach out to the stars." Last Days is pleased that Hawking continues to see humanity's glass as half-full. But if the best survival plan our leading genius can concoct is fleeing into outer space, we are so, so doomed.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17 Residents of Chicago got a chilling bit of news today, as the Pottstown, Pennsylvania paper the Mercury reported the case of two Middle Eastern men found with detailed video footage of the Sears Tower. Police encountered the two men after workers at Plymouth, Pennsylvania's Pizzeria Uno called to report an incident of illegal dumping behind their restaurant. When police tracked down the dumping suspects (highly visible in their full-size tractor-trailer), they discovered that the falsely procured vehicle was stuffed with furniture and boxes--one of them containing a Sony video camera featuring extensive footage of Chicago and detailed close-ups of the Sears Tower. The cops then called in the FBI, who transferred the two men--Moshe Elmakias, 30, and Ron Katar, 23--to a federal detention facility for "further investigation." What alibis can two Middle Eastern men in a stolen truck containing footage of the Sears Tower provide? They're tourists with an eye for architecture? They were collecting footage to submit to FOX TV's America's Funniest Gargantuan Structures? Who knows? Stay tuned for further details.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 18 With a knot in our gut and no knives in our luggage, today Last Days took our first commercial airline flight since the Attack on America, and the results were deeply illuminating. Heading into the airport, we were besieged by fears both fresh (is an Islamic terrorist going to murder the flight crew and fly the plane into a building?) and familiar (are they going to show Patch Adams as the in-flight movie?). And while Last Days has indulged in our fair share of post-attack anxiety (after eating a bag of Erin's white cheddar popcorn, our fingers were covered with a mysterious white powder!), we managed to suppress our anxiety with a few dozen Percocet. Once on board, we found ourselves placed in a middle seat between two very overweight men--a situation that previously would've made us see red, but today made us happier than a pig in poo. Awash in narcotics, wedged between two living pillows, we were swept into a state of near-fetal euphoria, completely at peace with the possibility of the plane crashing straight into Hell. As it turned out, the plane landed safely in Houston, which is hotter than Hell and twice as ugly

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 Today Last Days sat in a hotel room in Texas and read the only thing we could wrap our day-after-drugs brain around: Cosmopolitan magazine. After flipping through countless pages of ads featuring terrifyingly skinny models (and almost acquiring our own eating disorder in the process), we found this month's quiz: "Are you too guy picky?" Through a series of 10 simple questions, Cosmo revealed to us our innermost soul. Turns out we qualify as a "realistic romantic--perfectly picky, self-respecting without expecting the moon and stars. While you accept the occasional faux pas from men, you do not tolerate repeated bad behavior." Word up, Cosmo.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 20 Today Last Days flew home from Houston, and was once again placed in a middle seat between two oversized persons. Obviously God loves us.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21 The week concluded with a fascinating study about nudism. Conducted by Ellen Woodall of the University of Florida in Gainesville, and reported by Reuters, the study found that--eureka!--living nude is just as petty and boring as living clothed. A practicing nudist of 15 years, Woodall spent two years studying the nudist movement in the United States for her Master's thesis in anthropology. As part of her study, Woodall worked for two summers as a housekeeper at a nudist resort--and found the current nudist movement to be a far cry from its idealistic roots. "I observed the formation of cliques, men commenting on or joking about the obesity of certain women, women giggling about the size of a man's genitals, sexual comments and harassment--all activities one might commonly witness in larger society," said Woodall, adding that nudism's previous foundation in the counterculture has now thoroughly eroded. "It's very firmly located in the mainstream," Woodall said, identifying a majority of contemporary nudists as "white, middle-class, educated people"--precisely the folks who should never, ever be naked in public.

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