MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15 The week begins with a fascinating Associated Press report on the top-secret, international suicide convention held over the weekend in our very own city (known far and wide as the suicide capital of the world). Organized by the Oregon-based Euthanasia Research & Guidance Council, the two-day, invitation-only event featured discussions of methods of "self-deliverance," as well as demonstrations of ingenious new do-it-yourself suicide devices designed to bypass doctors and legislatures. And while moderates in the right-to-die movement chose to boycott the event--deeming its law-bending theories too "extreme and radical"--death fans from around the globe thrilled to the new, cutting-edge suicide technology, including the Expirator, which delivers a fatal dose of nitrogen gas, and the Debreather, a mask based on scuba technology that recycles air, gradually removing the oxygen until users black out and suffocate. (The body feels no distress, as nitrogen continues to fill the lungs.) Less popular inventions included the Mozifier, an audio brain implant that pipes the music of Morrissey into user's heads until they choke to death on their own vomit, and the Watery Grave, a one-touch button that immediately books death-hungry citizens on an Eastern-bound, transatlantic flight.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 16 As a fan of hash bars, codeine aspirin, and national health care, Last Days has long applauded the progressive liberalism of British Columbia. But, as conservatives have contended for decades, sometimes liberalism gives way to complete mush-headedness, as evidenced today in Surrey, B.C., where five racist skinheads were found guilty of kicking the elderly caretaker at a Sikh temple to death--and sentenced to a mere 12 to 15 years in prison. Perhaps provincial court judge William Stewart was swayed by the jury's inability to prove the killers' motive (group leader Daniel Miloszewski was caught on tape saying the skinheads needed money to start a racial holy war, adding, "Kill one and you're a murderer; kill many and you're a conqueror; kill them all and you're a god"), or perhaps the judge was touched by the skinheads' obvious penitence (the five young men were arrested after boasting of the killing to undercover police officers). However, to his credit, the judge did describe the killers as "moronic braggarts." And as Last Days thoroughly understands, dispensing ineffectual insults is much easier than behaving in a socially responsible manner.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17 If there's one thing Last Days loves (besides Sleater-Kinney, Hot Tamales, and helpful librarians), it's a delicious tale of hypocrisy exposed, such as this one from Elkhart, Indiana. Today in Elkhart, 66-year-old Donald Rink, the man who spearheaded a local task force to clean up lewd acts in Elkhart's Eliot Park, resigned from his post after pleading guilty to just such an act (propositioning and exposing himself to an undercover police officer, to be precise) in another Elkhart city park. And while we could use the rest of this item to inform you that Rink was charged with a class-A misdemeanor, given a 12-month suspended sentence, and ordered out of Elkhart city parks for one year, we will instead mock Rink's misfortune for our own pleasure. Ah ha ha! Whoo!

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18 Speaking of entertainment--when it comes to diversions, Last Days usually sticks to the basics: getting stoned and watching Showgirls. But tonight we took a walk on the avant-garde side by venturing out to On the Boards, where we watched [OR], the fascinating new performance piece by the Japanese ensemble Dumb Type. Blending film clips, strobe lights, a shockingly loud soundtrack (audience members were provided with earplugs), along with gorgeous and hilarious movement, the piece explored the mystery and magic that resides at the center ofÉ who the fuck knows? Still, it was a privilege just to look at it, just as it was a pleasure to see newly reinstated Artistic Director Mark Murphy's smiling face and adorable hand-wringing back on stage at the top of the show. Yay for everyone.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 19 In other "Yay" news, tonight Seattle was blessed with the presence of the one and only Gore Vidal: essayist, novelist, moralist, bitch. In the packed main chamber of Town Hall, KUOW interviewer Steve Scher fed the elderly, corpulent, but still foxy Vidal just enough questions to get him holding forth on his favorite topics--politics, art, himself--and the results were predictably illuminating and hilarious. From deeming Bill Clinton "the most intelligent president in my lifetime" (who was unfortunately naive enough to believe the President of the United States could affect actual domestic change--such as health care reform--and was promptly beaten down by the corporations that actually run the country) to his characterization of the movie Airplane! as "the Sistine Chapel of American cinema," Vidal was charming, challenging, and wise; and we will be very, very sorry when he is dead.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20 Today in San Diego, over 300 morbid bargain-sniffers gathered to bid on the worldly goods left behind by members of the Heaven's Gate UFO cult after they offed themselves in hopes of a better life on the Hale-Bopp comet two-and-a-half years ago. reports that the belongings were divided into 185 lots, which included such mundane house-hold items as a microwave oven, folding tables, trash containers, portable TVs, alarm clocks, as well as clothes, tools, and books. Among the thrifty vultures were Shawn Brennan, a salesman from Orange, CA, who paid $120 for a bunk bed used in the mass suicide that he plans to put in his guest bedroom ("It will make a good conversation piece when people stay over"), and Heidi Peterson, a San Diego pastry chef hoping to purchase the commercial-size blender rumored to have been used to mix the fatal applesauce/barbiturate mixture that killed the cult. "That wouldn't bother me at all," said Chef Peterson, "as long as it was sanitized completely."

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21 In a solemn ceremony today at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II created 12 new saints with his bare hands. "We thank God that, down the paths of time, He does not cease to raise luminous witnesses of his reign of justice and peace," said a weary-looking pope as he bestowed sainthood on 10 Spaniards (nobody you'd know) and two Italians (ditto). Today's canonizations bring the pope's total saint tally to 296 during his 21-year reign, and while the venerable pontiff seems to be virtually incontinent when it comes to naming saints, he has stubbornly ignored the one person on the planet truly deserving of sainthood: actress Lisa Kudrow. (Yes, we understand she's neither dead nor Catholic, but still, rules were made to be broken.)

--Also today: R.I.P. Quentin Crisp, the eccentric writer and raconteur who died today in Manchester, England at the age of 90. Crisp will be remembered most fondly for his keen wit, celebrated public appearances, and autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant. Crisp will be remembered least fondly for his classification of homosexuality as "an illness," and his statement that "Princess Diana was trash and got what she deserved."

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