The week kicks off with a heart-rending story from Buffalo, New York, where today a foster father was forced to say goodbye to three boys he has raised for six years after a court ruled that he is too fat to care for them properly. The Associated Press reports that Brian Jones, 38 years old and tipping the scales at 500 pounds, has cared for the nine-, 10-, and 16-year-old brothers since they were taken from their drug-addicted mother in 1995. But last week, Buffalo Family Court Judge Marjorie Mix ordered that the children be removed after a caseworker reported that the largely immobile Jones supervises the boys mostly from his bedroom and relies on the eldest to do chores like cooking and shopping. To Jones' credit, the caseworker acknowledged that the children are affectionate toward their foster father and wish to remain with him. In a particularly cruel twist, Brian Jones was unable to defend himself in court, as he could find no means of transporting himself to the hearing. Too large for taxis and wheelchair transportation services, a desperate Jones asked local furniture stores to transport him in a delivery truck, but was refused. "I'm beyond the shame part now," Jones told reporters. "I was willing to go in a Sears truck." But the fight's not over yet: Working with a personal trainer since September, Jones says he will do anything, including undergoing stomach-reduction surgery, to get his weight under control. "My goal is to walk into the courtroom and start my adoption petition," says Jones, who hopes to have the kids back in time for the start of the new school year in the fall.


Next comes a fascinating tale from the hill of Queen Anne, where tonight a woman decided to spice up her boring Tuesday evening by doing something completely new and different: cocaine. "I'm not a complete stranger to drugs," says the 33-year-old retail salesperson. "In college I tried acid and ecstasy, and I still smoke pot on occasion, but I've always avoided things that require snorting." Until tonight, that is, when her boyfriend of six months arrived with some blow given to him as a Christmas gift by an adventurous office mate. So how was our lady's premiere coke experience? "Perfectly fine," she says, citing "totally spazzy and fun conversation with my boyfriend" as the best part, and "the bitter nasal drip and the general ugliness of snorting" as the worst parts. "Plus, there's that depressing letdown as the stuff wears off. I can see why people want more. Thank God we were out." Despite the uncomfortable craving, the experience as a whole was a success. "Basically, we each did a couple lines around 8:30, gabbed our heads off, made out some, and were ready to sleep by midnight." So, would she ever try the snorty stuff again? "I don't think so," she says. "But never say never." (Confidential to the kids in Jason Dodge's sixth-grade class: No, this does not mean you should rush out and do coke. Start with something weaker and less criminal, like finely chopped No-Doz.)


It's an age-old Iranian custom: During the marriage ceremony, Iranian newlyweds lick honey from each other's fingers to ensure that their life together starts sweetly. But today in the northwestern city of Qazvin, this supposedly sweet custom turned deadly, as an Iranian bridegroom licked honey from his bride's finger and choked to death on one of her false nails. Reuters reports that the 28-year-old groom died on the spot, while the bride was rushed to the hospital after fainting from shock. Last Days offers condolences to all affected by this unbelievably stupid death.


On a lighter note: As everyone knows, there are few things more satisfying than gloating over the humiliations of celebrities. Today every news source in America offered up a gloat-worthy story par excellence, as Winona Ryder was busted for shoplifting at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. Clerks at the store called police after watching the Oscar-nominated actress cram nearly $5,000 worth of clothes and accessories into her bag. Ryder's lawyer has since characterized the incident as "a misunderstanding" in which his client was merely "carrying items between store departments," leaving eyewitnesses to wonder if the celebrated actress makes a habit of ripping off security tags before carrying items between departments. The misunderstood Ryder has been charged with grand theft and possession of pharmaceutical drugs without a prescription (cops found pills in her purse), and was released on $20,000 bail.


Today: An invigorating tale of shameless racial profiling and ballsy public uproar on the Seattle Metro. Early this evening, Hot Tipper Hannah was riding the #7 bus from downtown to Capitol Hill. At Pike and Second, the bus was boarded by a significantly overweight, skankily dressed white guy who appeared to be in his early 40s, with greasy brown hair and a limp. Grumbling under his breath, the man made his way past our Hot Tipper to sit in the handicapped seats. Before long, the adjacent seat was taken by a young black woman--and all hell broke loose. "Oh, why did you have to sit there?" whined the portly limper. "Why can't you sit by your friends?" The young woman tried to reason with the man, but was soon interrupted by his booming proclamation, "I CAN'T SIT NEXT TO THE BROWNIES." At this time, the bus driver--also a brownie--instructed the man to chill out and move away from the lady. "I can't go the back of the bus!" continued the whiner. "There are more brownies back there--AND THEY'RE DEALING DRUGS!" Happily, the other riders on the packed, rush-hour bus wasted no time in denouncing the crazy whiner, collectively ordering him to "get the fuck off the bus." The commotion continued, with the man refusing to retract or revise his anti-brownie stance, all the way to Pike and Bellevue, where the driver announced that police would be arriving to remove the criminal whiner from the bus. Congrats to all who hollered at the wacko man, and thanks to our meticulous Hot Tipper.


For the first time in over 50 years, tonight a major TV network broadcast a commercial for hard liquor--and the universe didn't explode! The prohibition-busting ad for Smirnoff aired during tonight's broadcast of NBC's Saturday Night Live, a show that needs all the booze-fueled help it can get. And while the ad was a far cry from a toss-'em-back rave-up--guidelines require that the first four months of liquor ads deal with such sobering topics as designated drivers and "drinking smart"--Last Days looks forward to month number five, when the current plethora of ads featuring sexy cars and hideous Carrot Top will be spiked with stylish ads celebrating the miracle of hooch.


Today brought the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day "Festival of Fast-Breaking" which ends the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and "sensual activities" (pole dancing?) from dawn until sunset. To commemorate Eid, this morning Last Days broke our own fast with a bowl of Kellogg's Limited Edition Bart Simpson Peanut Butter Crunch cereal. And while the cumbersomely named breakfast treat tastes like the retarded, inbred love child of Kellogg's Corn Pops and Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch, Last Days is pleased that our favorite television show has been saluted with a cereal. We now look forward to breakfast products based on our second favorite TV show, Law & Order--including Briscoe Pops, S. Epatha Loops, and Dr. Elizabeth Olivet-eeos.