At 12:01 this morning, geeks, geeks, and more geeks stormed the region's Toys R Us stores to nab just-released action figures from Star Wars: Episode 1-The Phantom Menace. More than 400 people lined up outside of the Northgate store to have first pick of the new merchandise, and the Lynnwood store racked up a normal day's sales in just 90 minutes. Today Last Days spoke to Lisa, a mega-fan who just returned from a George Lucas-sponsored Star Wars convention in Denver before heading down to the Southcenter's Toys R Us early Sunday night, "right after X-Files." Lisa reports that the crowd was largely well-mannered and that no one showed up in costume. (There is a God.) Hot sellers: anything featuring Darth Maul (the tattoo-faced dark-sider) and all of the 12-inch figurines. Tepid sellers: the Boba Fett home dialysis kit, Queen Amidala's exfoliating scrub, and Jar Jar Binks brand paprika. (Don't laugh too hard. An acquaintance of Last Days recently made the down payment on his first Capital Hill home with money garnered from the auction of original boxed Star Wars items.)
· · · Also: A not-so-phantom menace was confronted by Proctor & Gamble, whose lawyers today charged Amway with spreading false rumors about Proctor & Gamble's pact with "the Church of Satan" and requested $595 million from the rival company to make up for lost sales between 1995 and 1997. Proctor & Gamble has been dogged by rumors of Satanic involvement for decades; Amway denies spreading the rumors and has filed a countersuit. Last Days is thrilled with the precedent of dragging urban legends into the courts, and looks forward to Rod Stewart's lawsuit against the fifth grader who started rumors about a certain bodily fluid being pumped from the rocker's stomach in 1976.
· · · Also today: Nice local rich folk Bill and Melinda Gates gave a $25 million grant to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative-the largest charitable gift in the history of the AIDS pandemic, and one that will allow the organization to more than double its AIDS vaccine development efforts.

The Big One's coming, and it's gonna be huge. Today seismologists at the 94th annual Seismological Society of America conference at Seattle Center revealed that the Seattle fault line, which runs from Bremerton through downtown Seattle to Redmond, is much more active -- and more treacherous -- than previously thought. The Seattle Times reports that not only does the Seattle fault have a track record of producing spectacular earthquakes, the soils and rocks of Puget Sound are softer than expected, laying the groundwork for what experts say will be a quake that kicks Seattle's ass but good. The last quake caused by the fault (1,100 years ago) caused a tsunami in Puget Sound and landslides into Lake Washington, raised Alki Point 22 feet, and sank the western tip of Queen Anne seven feet. Experts estimate a few thousand years between major quakes, but warn that the figure's not exact. Upon reading these terrifying facts, Last Days fled the house ready to spend the necessary $250 on an earthquake preparedness kit; as usual, we returned home with $10 of take-out Thai food and $240 worth of new CDs.

Speaking of Mother Nature's wrath against humanity, on Monday, horrifying tornadoes tore through Oklahoma, destroying neighborhoods and businesses and killing scores of people. Today, the Associated Press brought us survivor stories, including the tale of Martin Cash, the unluckiest man in the world. After losing an eye in the 1995 Oklahoma bombing, Cash lost his home to fire; after extensive repairs, Cash's home suffered more damage in a tornado last year. The hapless Cash was miraculously spared any direct suffering in the latest wave of tornadoes. When asked whether he had endured more than enough suffering for one lifetime, Cash said, "I don't guess God thinks so. If God chooses to leave me here for something, it's probably because I'm strong enough to take it." Reached for comment, God said, "Jesus! What's it gonna take to make that guy realize I fucking hate his guts?"

As all of our readers are well aware, today was the National Day of Prayer, and across the land citizens gathered to "light the nation with prayer." To honor the great day, Last Days asked a variety of people, "What did you pray for?" A majority of responses dealt with pop culture: "I prayed that there would never be a sequel to Patch Adams"; "I prayed that Ricky Martin would come to Seattle for a concert"; "I prayed that Gwyneth Paltrow would be crushed by a bus." But one respondent devoted her Godly wishes to greater matters: "I prayed for people all over the world to take their heads out of their asses." Amen.

Less than 12 hours after announcing its plan to curate an exhibition of fine art by local murderers, the Seattle Art Museum pulled the plug on the controversial show. In a faxed press release, SAM officials cited "notoriety and controversy" as reasons for cancelling the show (though one imagines these were the very reasons SAM booked the exhibit in the first place). And while the cancellation spares local artists the trouble of having to hurriedly murder someone to have their work considered by SAM, the replacement exhibit leaves a bit to be desired: instead of fine art by serial killers, SAM will present a collection of origami by jaywalkers.
· · · Also today: Proof that we're not all heartless, self-obsessed scumbags. At 11 a.m. this morning, at the intersection of 5th and Mercer, traffic came to a full stop as one of those bearded men in their 30s who run around town in REI windbreakers helped a mother duck walk her 10 babies across the busy street. Not one car honked during the street-clogging act of altruism. Truly we are a noble race.

Today three super-advanced, laser-guided, NATO-dispatched bombs slammed into the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing four people and injuring nearly two dozen others. The accidental bombing was carried out by U.S. Air Force B-2 strategic bombers, who apparently believed the embassy to be a Yugoslav government building; an "incomprehensible error" by the NATO operation planning division is being blamed for the slip-up. Lamented by NATO officials as a "tragic mistake," today's embassy attack was merely the latest in a series of "embarrassing accidents" in which NATO planes have killed civilians in strikes on a bus, a train, a Kosovo refugee convoy, and residential areas.
· · · Speaking of being accidentally bombed: Former Diff'rent Strokes actor Dana Plato died tonight of an apparently accidental drug overdose when she mixed undisclosed amounts of the painkiller Loritab with Valium. Plato was 34.

Today was Mother's Day, and millions of Americans paid tribute to the ladies that suffered morning sickness, distended uteruses, and almost lethal pain to bring them into this beautiful world by giving them syrupy Hallmark cards, price-gouged floral arrangements, and ass-expanding ham dinners. But what about those people whose mothers were beastly freaks one wouldn't wish on his or her worst enemy? Last Days contacted just such a person to find out how he commemorated the blessed day. Said the horrible-mother survivor: "I slept in until 3 p.m., took a nice walk, then went to a bar for homosexuals." Did he send his mother anything or contact her in any way? "Are you kidding me? I'd stab myself in the face before I'd fake an ounce of respect for that monster." The monster could not be reached for comment.

Hot Tips? E-mail or call the Hot Tips Hotline at 323-7101 ext 3113.