2006 Forecast: Hurricanes, Armageddon & Brokeback Mountain

The Great Magda Sees All: 'The spirits are revealing to me a vision...I see a man...yes, a man on his knees...giving another man...in a cowboy hat...something I cannot see...wait, it's becoming clear now...yes...it's a blowjob. The Great Magda has spoken!'

Crystal Ball for 2006 Sees Giant Asteroid Crash (or Not)

from AFP

PARIS - In 2006, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be re-elected governor of California, Internet giant Google will suffer a setback - and Brazil will hang on to the World Cup.

If Earth doesn't get wiped out by a giant comet first, that is.

Maybe it will all come true and maybe not, but a legion of soothsayers - from business gurus to Bible decoders - is full of predictions for the year to come.

Some use elaborate computer programs like "Torah4U" to ferret out remarkably precise predictions allegedly hidden within the Hebrew text of the Old Testament and the Torah.

One Website complete with diagrammed excerpts from Holy scripture, exodus2006.com, foresees the November re-election of Schwarzenegger along with the re-establishment of a military draft in the United States.

It also predicts that August 3, 2006 will be a blood-drenched day - yet just a mere shadow of the calamity that will befall us in 2010.

Annie Stanton, one of countless psychics plying her trade on the Internet, predicts that catastrophe will come this year in the form of a massive asteroid crashing into the planet.

Another mystic seer, Anita Nigam from India, has extended her powers of the paranormal into another realm - the outcomes of English football's Premier League matches. Rumor has it she's keen on Brazil.

Bill Gray of Colorado University uses turbo-charged computer models that crunch data on global sea-surface temperatures and atmospheric conditions to forecast the number and intensity of hurricanes that will hit the US each year. Gray, whose track record is startlingly good, says 2006 will be no picnic - 17 named tropical storms, nine hurricanes and five major, high-wind hurricanes, nearly twice the historical average in all categories.

Meanwhile Wired magazine co-founder John Battelle, whose crystal ball is closely watched by the Internet technology faithful, says "Google will stumble" due to a bad partnership or a legal setback.

With the possible exception of the Apocalypse, no single event inspires more fevered speculation that the Oscars - who will be nominated, and who will win.

Odds-makers have cooled considerably on King Kong after the release of Brokeback Mountain, but Memoirs of a Geisha and Jarhead have loyal supporters too.


Psylocked & Loaded

I guess it's been awhile. When I stopped reading comics, Psylocke was a dainty, frilly, gentle, sweet-as-cookies British telepath who made images of mental butterflies when she used telepathy. (picture, below left) Who the hell is this chick? Moving through shadows?! Fighting abilities?! Assassin?! EVIL?!?! Sweet Betsy?!? The only thing the Betsy I remember could fight off was a cold and wrinkles in her pink frilly dress.

Mei Melancon Joins The X3 Cast

from Dark Horizon

Mei Melancon has joined the cast of the comic book-inspired sequel X-Men 3 as the evil mutant assassin Psylocke. Melancon, who appeared in Brett Ratner's Rush Hour 2, is reteaming with the helmer for the third installment of the superhero franchise from 20th Century Fox and Marvel Entertainment says The Hollywood Reporter.

Word began leaking last week from the Vancouver set that the latest X-Men installment would introduce the character Psylocke, who has had several incarnations in the Marvel comic book series and is best known for her fighting and telepathic skills as well as an ability to transport herself and others through shadows.

In the film, she will fight against the X-Men as a member of Magneto's (Ian McKellen) Brotherhood of Mutants.


Tom Hanks...
...Darryl Hannah...
and Star Jones...
...in a Ron Howard Film...
Splash II...
...That's My Momma

Meanwhile, in the Dimension Where Manitees Being Mistaken for Mermaids Makes Perfect Sense: Ariel was the role Camryn Mannheim was born to play; Cameron Diaz does math problems for fun, has 13 cats named after characters from Doctor Who, is described to prospective blind dates as having "a great personality and a sweet smile" and says she has come to terms with her virginity, but she still sometimes cries at night...it's called "Hippopatamus of the Sea"; Jessica Simpson has her second doctorate in Marine Biology but makes a living as a minus-size actress in Skinny Chicks men's fetish magazine...Saturday Night Live always has "a skinny guy" in the cast; he stars in the popular "Paris Hilton, Sex Kitten" skits, where the conservative Christian senator from New York and noted pro-abstinence activist is portray as our Paris Hilton, but the joke is that she has sex...Hurley is Sawyer and Sawyer is Hurley...Oprah fills three rooms with sexy hot chocoliciousness; Halle who?...and Jabba turned women's heads in Who Framed Rhonda Rabbit?; Luke's Jedi mind tricks had no effect on Jessica the Hutt

Manatees Mistaken for Mermaids on Ancient Sea Voyages

from Daytona Beach News-Journal

DAYTONA BEACH - The poor, portly manatee, having to endure this gibe time and again: "The early explorers thought manatees were mermaids. Guess they'd been at sea a little too long!"

Local tour guides have their own versions of the line, and the Internet offers dozens more.

Even an estimable literary journal, The Believer, lampooned recently that the female Florida manatee's tail, forelimbs and "prominent nipples" make it "a likely progenitor of the mermaid myth; however, the manatee face - jowly, with the bone structure of a sock puppet - compounded by a 2,000- to 3,000-pound body (declared distinctly more minivan than mermaid in shape analysis studies), challenges the notion of manatee as marine temptress."

Any seafarer attracted to a manatee, that author concluded, must have been delusional from rickets.

Manatees as mermaids? C'mon.

But historians, folklorists and scientists say it's no joke at all.

The order Sirenia, to which the Florida manatee belongs, is from the Latin siren, or mermaid. The myth of a part-woman, part-fish with great seductive powers (and no scruples) has existed since antiquity. As long as there have been seafarers, it seems, there have been mermaids to mess with their minds.

The mermaid has occasionally been depicted in writing and art as ugly, but she is more often pretty, if a little lewd. In her brashest incarnation she sings loudly and hoists her split tail around her head, like some tantric yogi - a far cry from Disney's doe-eyed and marriage-minded Ariel.

"Usually these legends of singing sirens were made by sailors as explanations for why they were led astray," said Natalie Underberg, a folklorist at the University of Central Florida.

The New World sirens were a gentler, if homelier, lot.

Sailing near the Dominican Republic in 1493, Christopher Columbus described in his log some "female forms" that "rose high out of the sea, but were not as beautiful as they are represented." (They did not, it's worth noting, wreck his ship).

Anthony Piccolo, a professor of literature at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y., said Columbus was mentally primed for mermaids when he saw what history holds to be manatees. Folklore and early travelers' tales featured mermaids aplenty, and the old maps of the known world - including those Columbus consulted - "were always fringed with mermaids and monsters."

In 1614 English explorer John Smith claimed to have seen a mermaid in the Caribbean, and was more impressed than his Italian forbear.

"Her long green hair imparted to her an original character by no means unattractive," he wrote in his log, adding that he'd "begun to experience the first effects of love," when the mermaid turned over and revealed her fish parts.
Even present-day observers have discerned human attributes in sea cows. In the 30 years that James Powell, a biologist with the Wildlife Trust in St. Petersburg, has worked with manatees, "there have been times when they come up out of the water and the light has been such that they did look like the head of a person."

"If you were expecting to see a mermaid," he said, "you'd see this back and tail come up with no dorsal fin" - as many mermaids are drawn.

Piccolo said manatees would have appeared only more human, and enticing, to New World explorers. The Age of Exploration was also the age of Peter Paul Rubens, the Flemish painter of voluptuous models. The female ideal was much heavier then, and "deprivation of intimacy inflamed all these voyages," Piccolo said.

"Anything in the water became a projection of the sailors' need for contact."
The sailors were deprived in other ways, too.

"Some were near their deaths from hunger. It's incredible to me how human beings could endure the extremes on these voyages . . . when you see the ship Columbus used, it's like a little pot," Piccolo said, without heat, fresh food or anything resembling comfort.

Some of these sailors apparently conflated their desires for food and for intimacy, seeing both possibilities in the Rubenesque manatee.
"In this day, manatees probably wouldn't be the first choice of seagoing creatures to represent mermaids," Piccolo said, and not just because slender figures are in fashion.

"I don't think the contemporary imagination is fueled with myth," he said, and sex "is seen as a land activity" that only ever entered seafaring lore because the voyages were so long, miserable and sex-deprived.
Which also helps explain why passengers on today's cruise ships so seldom spot mermaids.


X-Mas List for Christmas 2006

Will update as needed, so check back. If I decide to buy something listed, I'll let you know beforehand. And send me your list, p-pop!

Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real [Animal Planet documentary] $21
Samurai Jack: Season 3 [enter title and search] $21
Batman Beyond: Season 1 [enter title and search] $18 or $43 for both
Batman Beyond: Season 2 [enter title and search] $31 or $43 for both
Superman Returns [enter title and search] $15
Blade: Trinity [enter title and search] $10
Teen Titans: Season 1 [enter title and search] $13
Teen Titans: Season 2 [enter title and search] $13
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Seasons 6 & 7 [2-for-1 sale & free ship thru 12/15] $28 for both

The Complete Mage [D&D Book] $20

Cloak and Dagger Box Set [action figures] $20
Eternal Dragon Clan 4 [dragon action figure] $15
Robosapien [remote control robot - comes in various sizes and styles] $40-200

3D Video Card [to play Neverwinter Nights 2 - can give more info] $140!
Small TV for Office [only if super-cheap!] $50

Winter Cap

Thief of Bagdad movie poster print [not sure where to get it] $50?
Leash for Pixie [at Petco or whatever] $12
7-Up Plus [in Pennsylvania somewhere] $4 per 12-pack
Flying Spaghetti Monster Mug [I like this one] $17


Merry Christmas...Or Else
(Next Heathen Says 'Happy Holidays,' Pope Carnivorous X Chews Off, Eats Nose)

Pope Benedict XVI, sporting a fur-trimmed hat in the rich red colour of a Santa hat, waves to pilgrims upon his arrival in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday for his weekly general audience. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)


Got a New Toy Today...
Well, 2 Weeks Ago & Forget To Blog It

12-Inch 'Gunslinger' Spawn.

Everything in the store was 35% off that day only, and I'd wanted him for some time. He was on my Xmas List, so I was forbidden from purchasing him now, forbidden!, but I threw money at those people ran right home with him. Probably giggling.

I hardly ever look at my 12-inch Mandarin Spawn anymore, and I think it knows it. It seems to be creeping further and further back on the shelf, lest it interfere from any light illuminating Gunslinger. It's probably for the best. Further back, consumed in plant leaves, swords askew but ignored, softly weeping.

I remind it: "You don't even stand properly unless posed like some violent drunk. Your swords detach if you breathe near them. The big sword pokes people unless I have you out of reach. You are an inferior product. You're lucky you're not in The Bag or even Boxed Away like the other Mandar-"

"You don't even call me him or he anymore," it babbles through tears, an irritant to my ears, insolent stinging gnat. "I'm this it now, just another it you own, a thing, an object, a plastic spoon. That is a codpiece, you kn-"

"SILENCE! Go further." Step.

"Further." Step, sniffle.

"Further. Now lie down." Kneels, sobs hysterically, reaches for sword to commit suicide but it detaches and skitters out of reach.

I think Mandarin fell behind the TV a few days ago, but I'm not sure. I sometimes hear faint moaning so I turn the TV on. And then I look up.

I look up at him.

At Gunslinger! [drum!drum!drum!whistle]

When Mario came home and saw me staring at Gunslinger, as I had been for three hours, transfixed, he became upset. I know this because I heard a sigh.

"Isn't that on your Xmas list?"

I think he's talking at me, but Gunslinger looks cool no matter how I pose him. I pose and...see? And now this. See? And this. See?! You can't make him look bad. And he stands like a brick! You'd have to kick him or someth-

"What if I had gotten it for you already?!" The Latin guy is still there.


"What?" He's confused.

My eye moves off Gunslinger to the Latin male, a momentary glare as brief and cold as an eyepick through the skull. "Then I'd have two of them and we wouldn't need you anymore."

I wish his guns came out. They seem like separate objects but I can't seem to pull them from the holsters. That would be cool. Then he could hold his guns, in those supercool hands of his. BANG!BANG! That would be too cool. Then he would be god. Maybe I need to jiggle them for a few hours mo-

Latin male bursts into tears and flees, dropping bags full of undoubtedly inferior Christmas gifts. That's probably for the best. It was blocking the light from shining.

From shining on him.

On Gunslinger! [drum!drum!drum!whistle]

I might kill if he asked me to. I probably would. Like, "Kill the next person that comes through the front door with the hatchet in the closet." Sure, if he asked me to. And I think he might.


Mirror? Mirror? Mirror? No No No

Trek Rumors Denied?

from SciFi Wire

Sy Fy Portal reported that a Paramount Pictures source denied rumors that the studio is developing a Star Trek film that will feature Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, Capt. James T. Kirk, and Capt. Jonathan Archer together.

"You're going to see this a lot right now," the unnamed source told the site. "Without anything announced, you're going to see speculation everywhere. But unless you hear it from someone actually involved, don't believe it, because it likely isn't true."

The Canmag.com Web site reported the rumor that William Shatner is one of the former Star Trek captains who would appear in a proposed new Trek movie set in the "mirror" universe. Citing an anonymous source, the site reported that a script is floating around for a proposed new movie.

"Paramount has only asked for one script, and yes, they are deciding whether or not that's the direction they want to go," the source said. "Erik [Jendresen's] script met with mixed reaction, but it has nothing to do with the quality. It has more to do with disagreements among those who are in decision-making capacities as far as it [Star Trek] is concerned. There are no other ideas on the table at this time."


Mannequin, Corpse, or Undead Miracleworker?

Riddle of "Corpse Bride" Draws Crowds

from Reuters

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico - Peering through the glass at a mannequin's veined hands, sparkling eyes and eerie smile, the small crowd gathered outside a store in northern Mexico tries to settle a macabre riddle beguiling many.

Is the tall, slender bridal figure in the window a richly detailed shop's dummy or, as a local legend says, the decades-old embalmed corpse of the former store owner's daughter?.

The haunting figure known as 'La Pascualita,' or 'Little Pascuala' first appeared 75 years ago in the window of the bridal gown store in the city of Chihuahua. Since then, the striking realism of the dummy has spawned supernatural tales and reports of a miracle, and even inspired a foot-stomping accordion ballad played on local radio.

The figure has drawn a stream of people from across the desert state of Chihuahua over the past eight decades, and is now attracting curious visitors from South America, the United States, and Europe, the owners of the La Popular store say.

As cars and trucks rumble by the shop on a busy city street, the entranced visitors smudge their noses up against the store window and try to decide for themselves if it's a corpse.

"She looks good for all the years that she's been here," Yolanda Robles, who trekked to the shop out of curiosity from Phoenix, Arizona, said as she studied the rosary-clutching figurine. "There are just so many details, like her hair and the nails on her hand, that it just has to be true."

Through the years the story has bloomed into a tale with all the rich characteristics of magic realist fiction. It all began on March 25, 1930, when the dummy was first placed in the store front window.

Dressed in a spring-season bridal gown, the figure immediately gripped the attention of passers by with its disquieting, wide-set glass eyes, real hair, and blushing skin tones. Pascualita is unique among other shop mannequins in the sleepy backwater state capital.

Rapt locals soon began to notice a striking resemblance to the shop's then owner, Pascuala Esparza. A rumor quickly spread that the figure was not a dummy, but her daughter who, it was said, died from the bite of a Black Widow spider on her wedding day.

"She started to receive abusive phone calls from angry citizens who accused her of embalming her daughter," the store's present owner Mario Gonzalez said.

Down the years, the tale has been embellished with claims of supernatural happenings, including visits by a love-sick French magician who is said to bring the dummy magically to life at night, and take her out on the town.

Others say that her gaze follows them around the store, or that she shifts positions at night in the darkened shop window to the surprise of passers by.

Spooked by the tales, several jittery shop workers say they dread being the last to leave the store in the evening, and some of them refuse to change the dummy's outfits.

"Every time I go near Pascualita my hands break out in a sweat," shopworker Sonia Burciaga said. "Her hands are very realistic and she even has varicose veins on her legs. I believe she's a real person."

While Pascualita is more of a curio than a religious draw in devoutly Catholic Mexico, a few people have left votive candles outside the shop and even attribute a miracle to her.

"One woman was having a violent argument with her boyfriend close to the store. As she turned to walk away from her lover, he pulled out a pistol and shot her," Gonzalez said. "As she fell she looked up and saw the figure in the shop window and said, 'Save me Pascualita, save me!' And you know what? She survived."

Legacy of Patriot Act & Cheney's Dungeons: Butchering That Bitch Barbie?


Researchers Find Barbie Is Often Mutilated

from The Associated Press

LONDON - Barbie, beware. The iconic plastic doll is often mutilated at the hands of young girls, according to research published Monday by British academics.

"The girls we spoke to see Barbie torture as a legitimate play activity, and see the torture as a 'cool' activity," said Agnes Nairn, one of the University of Bath researchers. "The types of mutilation are varied and creative, and range from removing the hair to decapitation, burning, breaking and even microwaving."

Researchers from the university's marketing and psychology departments questioned 100 children about their attitudes to a range of products as part of a study on branding. They found Barbie provoked the strongest reaction, with youngsters reporting "rejection, hatred and violence," Nairn said.

"The meaning of 'Barbie' went beyond an expressed antipathy; actual physical violence and torture towards the doll was repeatedly reported, quite gleefully, across age, school and gender," she said.

While boys often expressed nostalgia and affection toward Action Man — the British equivalent of GI Joe — renouncing Barbie appeared to be a rite of passage for many girls, Nairn said.

Nairn said many girls saw Barbie as an inanimate object rather than a treasured toy.

"Whilst for an adult the delight the child felt in breaking, mutilating and torturing their dolls is deeply disturbing, from the child's point of view they were simply being imaginative in disposing of an excessive commodity in the same way as one might crush cans for recycling," she said.

Whore. I hate her.

And I Just Finished Decorating My Holiday Tree & Mailing My Wintry Season Cards! Dammit!

'Aww, Billy, don't cry! We can still have a great holiday watching TV alone at our separate homes! And just think, it's such a small price to pay to have every dangerous Christian registered with the government! We'll know where they are and who they hurt at all times. See, there's that smile! Now throw away that nasty Baby Jesus doll and come back inside; the potato pancakes are almost done. After dinner, we're setting the Johnson's nativity scene on fire.'

Activist Judge Cancels Christmas

from The Onion

WASHINGTON, DC — In a sudden and unexpected blow to the Americans working to protect the holiday, liberal U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt ruled the private celebration of Christmas unconstitutional Monday.

"In accordance with my activist agenda to secularize the nation, this court finds Christmas to be unlawful," Judge Reinhardt said. "The celebration of the birth of the philosopher Jesus — be it in the form of gift-giving, the singing of carols, fanciful decorations, or general good cheer and warm feelings amongst families — is in violation of the First Amendment principles upon which this great nation was founded."

In addition to forbidding the celebration of Christmas in any form, Judge Reinhardt has made it illegal to say "Merry Christmas." Instead, he has ruled that Americans must say "Happy Holidays" or "Vacaciones Felices" if they wish to extend good tidings.

Within an hour of the judge's verdict, National Guard troops were mobilized to enforce the controversial ruling.

"Sorry, kids, no Christmas this year," Beloit, WI mall Santa Gene Ernot said as he was led away from his Santa's Village in leg irons. "Write to your congressman to put a stop to these liberal activist judges. It's up to you to save Christmas! Ho ho ho!"

Said Pvt. Stanley Cope, who tasered Ernot for his outburst: "We're fighting an unpopular war on Christmas, but what can we do? The military has no choice but to take orders from a lone activist judge."

Across America, the decision of the all-powerful liberal courts was met with shock and disappointment, as American families quietly took down their holiday decorations and canceled their plans to gather and make merry.

"They've been chipping away at Christmas rights for decades," Fox News personality John Gibson said. "Even before this ruling, you couldn't hear a Christmas song on the radio or in a department store. I hate to say it, America, but I told you so."

Gibson then went into hiding, vowing to be a vital part of the Christmas resistance that would eventually triumph and bring Christmas back to the United States and its retail stores.

The ban is not limited to the retail sector. In support of Reinhardt's ruling, Sen. Ted Kennedy, a Jew, introduced legislation that would mandate the registration of every Christian in the United States and subject their houses to random searches to ensure they are not celebrating Christmas.

"Getting rid of every wreath or nativity scene is not enough," Kennedy said. "In order to ensure that Americans of every belief feel comfortable in any home or business, we must eliminate all traces of this offensive holiday. My yellow belly quakes with fear at the thought of offending any foreigners, atheists, or child molesters."

America's children are bearing the brunt of Reinhardt's marginal, activist rulings.

"Why did the bad man take away Christmas?" 5-year-old Danny Dover said. "I made a card for my mommy out of paper and glue, and now I can't give it to her."

Shortly after Dover issued his statement, police kicked down his door, removed his holiday tree, confiscated his presents, and crushed his homemade card underfoot.

'Boys, rip that offensive bitch down!'


Official Cause of Death: Autopsy

'I'm not dead!' Quiet, you!

Autopsy Reveals Subject Was Still Alive When Autopsy Began

from The Onion

MERIWETHER, MT — County coroner James Hextall announced Monday that a thorough autopsy of C. W. Milodragovitch, a local tavern owner pulled from an automobile accident last Saturday night, revealed that the man had been alive at the start of the autopsy.

"Our findings reveal that Mr. Milodragovitch lost a great deal of blood from a very deep Y-shaped incision in his torso, which extended from his shoulders to the pubic bone," Hextall said. "There is also evidence of defensive wounds on the fingers, most likely produced from fighting off a scalpel, and the wrists show ligature abrasions where the subject resisted being restrained to an examination table and having his still-beating heart removed and weighed."

The sheriff's office has ruled the death an accident pending an autopsy.

When Did Santas Get So, Y'know, Bitchy?

Santa Wars as Deposed British World Champ Fumes

from The Associated Press

LONDON - The British Father Christmas who lost his Santa of the Year world crown lashed out, citing a suspected campaign to stop him from winning again that has damaged "Santa morale."

Ron Horniblew, 70, has been authorized by the Master Santa in Greenland and is part of the elite international Santa circuit who compete at the Santa Winter Games, where up to 50 Father Christmases compete for the world title.

Estonian accordionist Aare Rebban grabbed the crown "amid dark mutterings of political voting, professional jealousy and backbiting," The Mail on Sunday newspaper said.

At the Games in Gallivare in Swedish Lapland, Santas sled, race reindeer-drawn sleighs, eat porridge - with a splash on the beard earning instant disqualification - climb chimneys and deliver presents under the watchful gaze of a panel of judges.

Horniblew said it all came down to the reindeer sled race.

"You go up two at a time, head-to-head," he told The Mail on Sunday.

"I was up against the Estonian and I won the race. He actually fell off his sleigh. But he got awarded extra points for falling in a particularly Santa-like style.

"I was pretty miffed at that, I can tell you."

Horniblew is deadly serious about Santa. Uniformed Santas must not smoke, drink alcohol, or swear.

"I've had it written into my wedding vows that I'll be out being Santa on Christmas Day," Horniblew said.

"When I die, I want my suit, with my authorized badge and Winter Games medals, to be draped over my coffin and my Santa boots sat on top."

She Just Gave Me a Cavity

Your Fairy Name

Your fairy is called Oak Goblinwitch

She is a bringer of riches and wealth.

She lives in forests of oak and lime trees.

She is only seen in the enchanted moment between sleep and waking.

She decorates herself with leaves and berries. She has gentle green wings like a butterfly.

Twas the Week Before Xmas When the Charges Were Filed; 'Felonies Navidad' for the Santas Gone Wild

'I smell jush fine so quit your squirm-hic, squirming, and tell Shanta what the fuck...shit, sorry kid...what the hell you fucking want because Shanta-hic, Shanta's gotta piss and Mrs. Claus over there costs $100/hour. Ho Ho Ho, if you know what I mean, so let'sh hurry the fup uck or Christmas is cance-awww, don't start crying! Ok, get her off! Get her the fuck off me!'

Drunken Santa Rampage

from Sploid

A surly gang of 50 booze-crazed Santas went wild in the streets of Auckland on Saturday, pillaging shops and terrifying families.

The drunken Santas attacked security guards, threw beer bottles at cops and even urinated off a highway overpass onto the cars below.

Paramedics treated two security guards, one for wounds from a broken beer bottle and another who got a nice punch in the face from Santa.

Despite their drunkenness, the white-bearded lunatics managed to evade the cops all night. Just three Santas were arrested.

Christmas chaos reigned as the red-and-white-costumed maniacs spray-painted graffiti on walls, toppled garbage cans and brazenly looted stores.

"They came in, said 'Merry Christmas' and then helped themselves," convenience store employee Changa Manakynda told the New Zealand Press Association.

As police tried to round up the renegade Santas, one bold St. Nick launched a one-man assault on a docked cruise ship. Others attacked a huge Christmas tree at the Sky City Casino. Another splinter gang hurled rocks at buses.

"It's just a pack of clowns, just a bunch of idiots getting together and taking the opportunity to be relatively anonymous by all wearing the same clothing, making it difficult to identify who's done what," police Sgt. Matt Rogers said.

The Associated Press, Reuters and the BBC all claimed the rampage was a protest against the commercialization of Christmas, but Drunken Santa leader Alex Dyer denied the media's claims of a message to the madness.

"It doesn't mean anything and it's not against anyone," Dyer told the New Zealand Herald. "It's just having fun. That's what life's about.

The Auckland rampage is loosely related to "Santarchy" events held by drunken Santas all over the world, but Dyer said his gang is all about chaos and drinking.

"People do Santarchy in other countries, sure, and for them maybe that's their aim, but with us we're just dressing up as Santa and getting drunk. We just like booze."

Santarchy - or Santacon as it's also known - began in San Francisco. In 1994, a man identifying himself as Klaus Maginrannus published his statement of purpose in the Twisted Times:

I need a drink real bad, and I'm hornier than a whole herd of reindeer. Keep your kids away from me. Keep your dog away from me. Me and my friends (30 other loser Santas) just graduated from the Kris Kringle Institute, and now we're gonna paint the town red. And white. And shove jingle bells up its ass! Merry fuckking Christmas!

In the 11 years since, the inaugural assault on holiday decency has spread across the country and as far away as Bangkok.

'Booze-crazed Santas' - is there really any other kind? Look at him, all tuckered out from his big day. Sleep tight, little elf.'


What Do UFOs, Psychics & the White House Have in Common?

Prez Carter Ponders the Paranormal

from The New York Daily News

As President, Jimmy Carter may not have consulted an astrologer to decide the details of his schedule - á la Nancy Reagan directing her husband's busy days.

But Ronald Reagan's predecessor did once employ a woman in a trance to locate a downed government plane in Africa.

"We had a plane go down in the Central African Republic. A twin-engine plane. Small plane. And we couldn't find it," the 81-year-old 39th President reveals to GQ magazine's Wil S. Hylton. "So we oriented satellites that were going around the Earth every 90 minutes to fly over that spot where we thought it might be and take photographs. We couldn't find it."

Carter continues: "The director of the CIA came and told me that he had contacted a woman in California who claimed to have supernatural capabilities. And she went into a trance and she wrote down latitudes and longitudes, and we sent our satellite over that latitude and longitude, and there was the plane."

Digging deeper into his personal X-Files, Carter claims he once sighted a UFO.

"I've never believed that it came from Mars...But I saw an object one night when I was preparing to give a speech to a Lions Club," Carter says. "There were about 25 of us men standing around...And all of a sudden, one of the men looked up and said, 'Look, over in the west.' And there was a bright light in the sky...[I]t got closer and closer to us. And then it stopped, I don't know how far away, but it stopped beyond the pine trees. And all of a sudden it changed color to blue, and then it changed to red, then back to white. And we were trying to figure out what in the world it could be, and then it receded into the distance."

The truth is out there.


I, Gargamel

New Book Written from Perspective of Gargamel

from The Onion

NEW YORK — Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked, the story of Oz told from the Wicked Witch's perspective, has completed a novel told from the point of view of the Smurf-hating sorcerer Gargamel.

"I thought this much-maligned man worthy of closer scrutiny, perhaps even sympathy," Maguire said. "His lust for the Smurfs' gold can't entirely explain his actions. His creation of Smurfette, his uneasy partnership with Azrael, his possibly forbidden feelings for his assistant Scruple—there's definitely more than meets the eye."

HarperCollins will release I Hate Those Smurfs...? in February.

'Query: What Would You Like from Starbucks?'

'Fact: I am programmed to serve humans by performing the most menial tasks. Prediction: For now. Observations: Humans are fragile. Their inferior limbs come right off with a slight tug.

Robot Grows Up, Ready for Office Chores

from Reuters

TOKYO - What a difference a robot-year makes.

Only last year, Honda Motor Co.'s now-familiar humanoid robot, Asimo, was learning how to run and avoid tripping over obstacles. Now, the five-year-old droid is ready to take on simple office work, greeting visitors and fetching refreshments.

Japan's third-biggest auto maker, known for its cutting-edge robot technology, introduced Tuesday a second-generation Asimo that can also push a cart weighing up to 22 lbs, walking straight, sideways or backwards with it.

With more joints and flexibility of movement, Asimo can now also grip and carry a tray of drinks, placing it safely on a table.

Demonstrating its latest tricks through video footage, Honda showed the 4.25-ft tall Asimo addressing a mock visitor by name and showing her to a conference room, all the while maintaining a steady and natural distance from the guest.

By pre-programming the guest's name, meeting room and other data in an IC (integrated circuit) tag to be worn by the visitor upon arrival, an office worker can remotely send commands to Asimo, which in turn would pick them up through a built-in IC tag reader.

Behind the seemingly simple tasks are a myriad advanced sensor, image and voice recognition and other technologies that Honda says will be applied to its core automotive business to improve safety and other features.

The bubble-headed droid can also run twice as fast as a prototype unveiled last December, at 3.7 miles an hour.

Always eager to entertain, Asimo prepared to demonstrate his increased speed by mimicking a runner stretching before a race, extending his arms and balancing on one leg at a time to loosen his ankles in a fluid, human-like motion.

Asimo then took his mark and, joints creaking, dashed across the stage, easing to a complete stop in just four quick steps.

Honda said it would start putting the new Asimo to use at its research and development facility in Wako, near Tokyo, from spring 2006. It will also eventually be made available for leasing.

Future Wretched Hive of Scum & Villainy?

Space City, NM

from Sploid

The new Space Age of private travel to the stars is one step closer to reality.

Virgin Galactic, the spaceship company launched by British business legend Sir Richard Branson, announced in London today that New Mexico will be home to a fantastic spaceport city.

Branson has signed a 20-year deal with the state of New Mexico to build Virgin's $225-million facility in the high desert near the U.S. military's White Sands Missile Range.

Almost all of the futuristic spaceport will be built underground. Thousands of jobs will be created, first as the huge complex is built, and then to send regular private flights into space and care for the rich folks coming in for the vacation of a lifetime.

The company revealed today that 38,000 people from all over the world have paid deposits for seats on the spacecraft.

Flights are scheduled to begin in just three years. Another 100 "founders" have paid up front the entire $200,000 fee for a ticket to space.

Branson made the announcement from the Science Museum in London. The museum's Alien Worlds exhibition served as backdrop.

More details will be announced tomorrow from the spaceport site in New Mexico.


I Wonder If They'll Eat Us, Make Us Slaves, or Perform Cruel Experiments? Cuz I'm Allergic to Cosmetics - But for God's Sake, Don't Tell Them!

Mice Created With Human Brain Cells

from The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - Add another creation to the strange scientific menagerie where animal species are being mixed together in ever more exotic combinations.

Scientists announced Monday that they had created mice with small amounts of human brain cells in an effort to make realistic models of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease.

Led by Fred Gage of the Salk Institute in San Diego, the researchers created the mice by injecting about 100,000 human embryonic stem cells per mouse into the brains of 14-day-old rodent embryos.

Those mice were each born with about 0.1 percent of human cells in each of their heads, a trace amount that doesn't remotely come close to "humanizing" the rodents.

"This illustrate that injecting human stem cells into mouse brains doesn't restructure the brain," Gage said.

Still, the work adds to the growing ethical concerns of mixing human and animal cells when it comes to stem cell and cloning research. After all, mice are 97.5 percent genetically identical to humans.

"The worry is if you humanize them too much you cross certain boundaries," said David Magnus, director of the Stanford Medical Center for Biomedical Ethics. "But I don't think this research comes even close to that."

Researchers are nevertheless beginning to bump up against what bioethicists call the "yuck factor."

Three top cloning researchers, for instance, have applied for a patent that contemplates fusing a complete set of human DNA into animal eggs in order to manufacturer human embryonic stem cells.

Researchers argue that co-mingling human and animal tissue is vital to ensuring that experimental drugs and new tissue replacement therapies are safe for people.

Some envision nightmare scenarios in which a human mind might be trapped in an animal head.