Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Five Commandments

The Governor looked at the members of his cabinet and began to speak.

"As you know, a few months ago we commissioned a sculpture of the Ten Commandments to display in front of the State Capitol."

"Based on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling, I thought we should reconsider that decision. However, Mr. Caron over there," he gestured towards a disheveled artist slouched in the corner "claims our payment is non-refundable and that he's already carved the tablets. It also seems that he spent most of the money on course entitled 'How to Pick Up Women By Looking Like a Tortured Genius.'"

The artist looked away, slightly embarrassed by the revelation.

"Fortunately, he hasn't started engraving the Commandments, yet, so here's what we're going to do. I'm going to read them out one by one, and we'll decide which ones we should include. Hopefully, this will help us weed out the ones that would violate the ruling."

"Any questions before we get started?"

There were none.

"The First Commandment: 'You shall have no other gods before Me.'"

"That one seems pretty obvious." said the Governor. "I mean. This is all about the separation of church and state, so there's no way we can include it, right?”

He paused and looked around the room. “Any objections? No? Great."

"The Second Commandment: 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.'"

"Okay. No statues of saints and the like. I say we keep this one. That stuff has no place in government offices. Objections?"

The Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director raised his hand.

"Um, sir? In my office I have a painting of a landscape and a seashell sculpture. My wife made them for me. They're hideous, but she'll kill me if I don't display them. You're up for re-election this year and the last thing you need is some dumbass from the religious right telling you that I'm violating the Second Commandment."

"I think the intent is to prevent the worship of graven images, not paintings and sculptures, Tom." said the Revenue Director.

"Well, I'm, uh, also thinking about those novelty saints that I picked up during my trip to Italy last year -- the ones that do the little dance and then turn around and moon you. I'd hate to have to get rid of them."

"I hear you, Tom," said the State Lottery Director, "but if I were you, I'd worry more about those animal sex DVDs that you have in your office."

"Those are for a mating ritual study we're conducting!" cried the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director as the others looked at him skeptically.

"In the interest of group morale," the Governor said, "we'll strike the Second Commandment."

"And Tom," he added, "I want you to get rid of those DVDs and get some counseling."

"The Third Commandment: 'You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.'"

"Given the number of 'goddammits' and the like I hear around this office every day, I don't think any one of us wants that one hanging over our heads, do we?" he said with a chuckle.

The others smiled and shook their heads.

"Strike it." he told the artist.

"The Fourth Commandment. "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.'"

"Anyone here want to work Saturdays?" The Governor looked around the table and saw a bunch of shaking heads. "Didn't think so."

He felt a flash of sudden inspiration. "Hey, artist guy," he said "Why don't you go ahead and add 'and Sunday' to that."

"Friday afternoons would be nice, too" added the Administration Director who constantly seeking new ways to sneak out of work to play a round of golf.

And thus began the most spirited discussion of the day. By the time they were done, the Fourth Commandment read:

'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Don't work Sundays either. While your at it, take Friday afternoons off and have some fun. Coming in late on Monday is okay, too, especially if you're still fighting a hangover.'
Which the cabinet members agreed was probably closer to the Lord's original intent.

The Fifth Commandment, 'Honor your father and your mother', was considered a no-brainer and included with no debate.

The Sixth Commandment, 'You shall not murder', seemed headed in the same direction until he Agriculture Director spoke up.

"I’m not so sure that we want to keep that one.” he said. “I mean, hasn't anyone ever strangled a stranger who stopped to ask him for directions and then buried body in his backyard only to have the idiot neighbor's dog constantly try to dig it up? So you go out in the middle of the night, throw the body into your trunk, and drive out to the country only to be pulled over by a well meaning cop who tells you that your taillight is out? So then you hit the cop with a tire iron and leave him laying on the road while you drive away? Then you go off into the woods, dig a shallow grave, and dump the body in it only to realize that a camper nearby saw the whole thing, so now all of a sudden you have two bodies to get rid of? And so you dig another shallow grave, bury the camper, and then drive home only to wake up the next morning to find that a man walking his dog found both bodies and that you’re now the subject of a statewide manhunt?"

The room grew silent as the Governor and other Cabinet Members looked at him in horror.

"Uh, I was just speaking hypothetically, of course. Never mind."

And so the Sixth Commandment was included - much to everyone else's relief.

The Seventh Commandment: 'You shall not commit adultery' was next.

Because of lingering bad blood from a recent incident in which the Environmental Quality Director came home from work early to find his wife, the wife of the Labor and Industry Commissioner, and the Budget Director engaged in a threesome, the Governor chose to cross it off the list without debate.

The Eighth Commandment: ''You shall not steal' was agreed to in short order.

The Commerce Director spoke up, asking, "Does this mean that a certain person who I won't identify, but who's name rhymes with Dill Bonohue, will stop stealing my lunch every day? He does it on purpose. I know because I put my name it to make sure everyone knows it’s mine."

"I've had it!," hollered the Natural Resources and Conservation Director. "You've insulted my integrity for the last time. Apologize right now, or I'm gonna put my foot up your ass."

"Knock it off you two." said the Governor. "And Bill? For future reference, your indignation might be more believable if you weren’t eating from a bag labeled ‘Tom’s Lunch’."

The Ninth Commandment, 'You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor', was quickly approved as everyone agreed that they had enough dirt on each other that they didn't need to resort to lies.

"And finally, the Tenth Commandment: 'You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor's.'"

"Okay, let's hear the objections," said the Governor.

"I’ll start” said the Chief Business Development Officer. " My neighbor’s wife is pretty hot. I mean, I'm pretty sure that Jesus himself would covet her."

The 78 year-old Transportation Director chimed in. "My neighbor's 19 year old pool boy? Well, let's just say that I covet him at least three times a week...if you know what I mean."

The others in the room shuddered and gagged, thus demonstrating that they knew exactly what she meant.

"Uh, I have a similar issue with my neighbor's maid." said the Corrections Director.

"And I definitely covet my neighbor's house and car." added the Public Health and Human Services Director.

"Okay, that takes care of the wife, the male servant, the female servant, and the possessions." said the Governor, "At least we get to keep the ox and donkey part."

Everyone chuckled and they prepared to move on to the next order of business.

"Erm, Sir?" said the Military Affairs Adjutant General. Twenty heads slowly swiveled towards the man they all considered the most straight laced of the bunch.

"Perhaps now is a good time for me to clarify what I mean when I tell y'all how much I love oxtail."

Friday, June 24, 2005

The Week in Pictures IV

Earlier today, the newly reconstituted Iraqi air force began a series air patrols over Baghdad and the surrounding area. The show of force is meant to strike fear in the hearts of insurgents by demonstrating the military's air superiority. Unfortunately, only an hour into the patrols, they lost a plane when the rubber band powering the propeller snapped.

According to an article in the July edition of GQ magazine, Saddam Hussein is reportedly lonely and has placed a personal ad on Match.com. In his profile, entitled "My Wives Don't Understand Me," the former Iraqi president describes himself as having the "soul of a poet." Under hobbies he lists invading neighboring countries, torturing dissidents, and gassing Kurds.

Police have captured the Rogaine thief that has been terrorizing local pharmacies over the past three weeks. The bandit was caught when a sharp eyed patrol officer noticed him in a crowd and recognized him from a wanted poster that hung in the stationhouse.

The tobacco wars claimed over 3.5 million cigarettes this weekend. Anti-war protestors have begun building makeshift cemeteries in towns across America in an effort to call attention to the senseless slaughter.

*Warning: The following two segments focus on Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

Tom Cruise now claims that he misunderstood the recent Supreme Court ruling that homes may be 'taken' for private projects. The actor insists that had he known that they were referring to property seizures, he would never have kidnapped and brainwashed the actress.

How long the Cruise-Holmes relationship will last has become a matter of debate after a gay porn video starring the actor surfaced on the web yesterday. Cruise's publicists insist that the video was made during the days when he was "experimenting" and released a statement saying "Like many young actors, Tom did what he needed to do to make ends meet," adding "He's matured a great deal in three days since he made that video."

Players and fans alike were stunned when Gary Sheffield ran from the dugout and groped teammate Derek Jeter at home plate during last night's game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

"I just couldn't help myself," said the outfielder. "He looked so sexy standing in the batter's box in his tight little uniform." After the game, Sheffield coyly told reporters that he was confident that he could get to second base with Jeter and that he liked his chances of scoring.

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! What the hell is that?

A colorful crowd of 20,000 people gathered at Stonehenge earlier this week to witness the dawning of the longest day of the year.

In an attempt to solve the mystery behind the significance of the structure, famed psychic medium John Edward contacted Celtic warrior queen Boudicca, who is credited by some with building the monument.

"We got really stoned one night" she said, "and we thought it would be cool to build a house lots of doors but no walls or ceiling. About halfway through we got the munchies and never got around to finishing the thing." Embarrassed scholars had no response.

Hopeful of enticing passing cruise ships to pull in for a visit, the Ireland Tourism Board hired 200 nude models to lay on the shores of Aran Islands. Unfortunately, the program was suspended after many of the male models sought medical treatment for "shrinkage" brought on by the frigid water.

Not to be outdone, the Polish Tourist Office (PTO) is using the image of a handsome plumber to promote Poland as a holiday destination. Their new slogan is "Come lay pipe in Poland."

Panicked over the realization that her 15 minutes of fame have nearly expired, Paris Hilton took one last shot at prolonging her undeserved stardom by announcing plans to open her cervix for public tours.

However, some sections are still considered unsafe and will remain closed to tourists. Hilton claims that it poses no problem. "After all," she said "a woman does have to leave something to the imagination, doesn't she?"

Fourth-seeded Serena Williams was forced to forfeit her third round match at the Wimbledon championships after she expressed her displeasure with a line umpire's call by having a bowel movement on the court.

Tired of constantly being constantly mistaken for King Tut, actor Brendan Fraser visited the exhibit of the boy king's artifacts at Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see for himself if there was any resemblance. Said Fraser "I just don't see it. We look nothing alike. For one thing, I have both my arms and for another he's gold and brown and I'm pasty white."

"Besides," sniffed the actor, "I'd like to see him try to play Dudley Do-Right with same the understated elegance that I brought to the role."

Authorities in Los Angeles are evacuating residents from a five square mile area of the city after scientists warned that Courtney Love is expanding rapidly and could explode at any moment.

In an effort to stop the blast from occurring, authorities raided and shut down Ms. Love's kitchen where chefs were busy preparing the first course of her midday snack.

Finally, after a difficult and draining two weeks in the spotlight, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes took a much needed vacation to Mexico this weekend where the lovebirds frolicked in the water and recovered from the media frenzy they went out of their way to induce.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Behind the Election: Pope Benedict XVI

Inspired by Lena's continuing assertion that the new Pope is evil, I took it upon myself to investigate the true story behind his election. What follows is a dramatic recreation of that fateful day based on thousands of hours of interviews with well-placed sources within the Vatican.

The Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals watched anxiously as the three tellers tallied the votes. It had been a long day, and he'd worked tirelessly to build consensus amongst the members of the conclave. By no means were they an easy bunch. Many of the men held fast to their beliefs about the direction the vote should take, and for a long time it appeared that no amount of persuasion would move them. He'd pleaded, cajoled, and in some cases even resorted to outright threats.

Finally, the results were confirmed, and the Dean stood before the Cardinals and proudly announced "Habemus prandium"1

"We'll start with an antipasti of marinated asparagus, roasted peppers, zucchini, pecorino cheese and fennel with calamari, along with Bruschetta with tomato, basil and cheese. For Primi Piatti , you'll have a choice of Mezzemaniche pasta "Carbonara" or Spaghetti alla buttera ( aglio, olio, peperoncino, rosso d'uovo), for Secondi Piatti we'll have Fresh seasonal fruit and Assortimento di formaggi al piatto.2

Hoping to make one of the older Cardinals feel useful, he asked him to dispose of the slips of paper they'd used to vote and he set about placing the order. The day was already half over and they hadn't even begun the papal election process, but the last thing he needed was a hungry group of Cardinals arguing amongst themselves. The last time that happened so many of them had dammed each other to hell that the new Pope spent the majority of his first year in office hearing confessions and granting Holy Absolution to the Cardinals.

The men sipped espresso and played cards while they waited for the food to arrive. The chapel took on a relaxed air as everyone calmed down after the heated exchanges that dominated the morning and slowly returned to their normal, peaceful selves. Suddenly, a roar erupted from the faithful who had gathered in St. Peter's square to await the announcement that a Pope had been elected. The Cardinals looked at each other quizzically, but the Dean realized with dread what the sound meant.

He hurried over to the Cardinal to whom he had given the voting slips. Trying his best to sound casual he asked the old man, "Erm, what did you do with the ballots I gave you?"

The Cardinal gave him a gummy smile and said "Well, I noticed it was a little chilly in here and you know I've never been one to waste anything, so I started a fire and burned them so we could warm the place up a little."

The Dean closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose, and said a quick prayer. He took a deep breath, mustered the last reserves of his patience and asked, "Now this next question is very important, so I need you to think hard for a moment before you answer. When you set them aflame, did you make sure to mix in some of the chemicals we keep next to the furnace to make the smoke black?"

The man thought for a moment, then his face lit up. "No, I didn't." he said proudly "I remember thinking that I wanted the smoke to be pretty and white. I thought the crowds would like it since it looks like little angels flying out of the chimney. Judging by the cheers we just heard, I think I was right."

This was a disaster. The Dean knew that by now the news that a new Pope had been elected would have been broadcast to the entire world. There was no way they could admit their mistake, for the last thing the Church needed right now was another scandal.

Thinking quickly, he checked the biographical data on the active Cardinals. He knew exactly what to look for: someone old, but not too old; someone well known, but not inclined to make sweeping changes to the Church doctrine; and someone who could tide the church over for a few years before he politely died to make way for the next man. Only one cardinal fit the bill - the 78 year old former archbishop of Munich, Germany, and current prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Joseph Ratzinger

The Dean called the conclave to order and explained what had happened. He told them of his proposed solution and, after a very brief debate, they realized that there was no other viable option. All that was left was for Ratzinger to accept, which he did after a moments hesitation.3

The new Pope was then asked to choose a name. After Adolf, Heinrich, Fred, and Jerry were all discarded, he finally settled on Benedict XVI because it was also the name of his favorite style of eggs.4

After the Cardinals, came forward to offer congratulations it was time to introduce Pope Benedict XVI to the masses. In keeping with tradition, the oldest Cardinal stepped out on the balcony overlooking St. Peter's Square, said "Habemus papam"5 and introduced the new Pope - at which time Pope Benedict XVI stepped forward to bless Rome and the world.

As the Dean looked on, he felt relieved to have averted one crisis but at the same time he couldn't help but wonder he had triggered another, larger one.

"I just hope" he said to himself "that this turns out better than the last time the world saw a German on a balcony waving to an adoring crowd."


1 "We have a lunch"

2 Of course he said all of this in Italian and I speak very little Italian so I wasn't able to translate all of it. Besides, do I have to do everything for you guys? There must be like a thousand free online translators out there for crying out loud. Would it kill you to show just a little effort here? I'm not asking for much. After all, I slave away over a hot keyboard all day, ignoring the work piled on my desk to give you fresh blog entries. The least you could do is show some appreciation. I'm not asking for much. Flowers once in a while might be nice, or a dinner and a movie, or even something as simple as a nice comment or two just to show that you still care and that you don't take me for granted.

3 He actually used that moment to ask two rather pertinent questions. (1) Do I get to die of natural causes? and (2) Do we still get to eat our lunch? Assured that the answer to both questions was 'yes', he accepted.

4 Eggs Benedict. Get it?!?! How clever is that? Erm...for those of you that don't know,
Eggs Benedict is a delicious dish consisting of slices of toast or halves of english muffins topped with poached eggs, smoked bacon or ham (traditionally Canadian bacon) and hollandaise sauce.

5 "We have a Pope."6

6 What he actually said was "Ego utor laboro" or "I have to use the bathroom" However, nobody really understands Latin any more so the media reported it as "Habemus papam." Besides, the journalists had already written their stories by that time and after being confined to Vatican City during the Pope's funeral and the conclave, most were anxious to get back to drinking heavily.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

30 Second Relationship (okay...maybe 60 seconds)

"EXCUSE ME!", she shouted angrily as I walked past her.

I'd been lost in thought and automatically assumed that I'd accidently brushed against her or walked in front of her, cutting her off without realizing I'd done so.

"Sorry." I mumbled with what I hoped was a winning smile and a look of genuine remorse.

"WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?" she bellowed as if I hadn't said a word.

I looked around, hoping to find that I was not the target of her fury but merely an unfortunate soul who'd stepped in between her and the intended recipient. Unfortunately, the person closest to us stood a good five feet away. Like everyone else in the area, she was watching us with the peculiar mix of sympathy and fascination unique to this type of public spectacle.

"I'm sorry." I repeated. "To be honest, I'm not even sure what I did, but if you'd just calm down, I'm sure that we can work this out."


She had me there. I had to admit that she was pretty perceptive. It usually takes a little whie for people to figure that out about me, but she'd pegged me right off the bat.

I gazed at her with a newfound respect. Somehow this woman - this stranger - knew me better than I know myself. I looked at the fire burning in her dark brown eyes and found myself transfixed. I drank in her words focusing not on the things she said, but on the passion with which she said them. No doubt about it, I was falling in love.

"Look, if you'll just tell me what I did, I'm sure I can find a way to make it up to you." I said, hoping that I'd be able to convince her to let me apologize by taking her out to dinner.

At minimum, I thought there was a slim chance she'd agree to a have a drink with me as kind of a peace offering (although if she were this out of control sober, I shuddered to think what she'd be like after a few drinks).


That seemed to be the end of it. I stood still for a moment as the realization hit me that our thirty second conversation neatly summarized every relationship I'd ever been in. The undying love, the abuse, my confusion over what I'd done wrong, the angry good-bye, the broken heart. Yep, it had everything.

"Okay." I said softly.

The crowd that had gathered around us to watch sensed that the show was over and began to disperse. I sighed and turned to walk away, nursing a badly bruised ego and preparing to pick up the shattered remnants of my manhood as I made my way down the street.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned and braced myself for another tirade. Instead, she stood before me smiling.

"Did you say something?" she asked as she reached up to remove her wireless earpiece. "I was having an argument with my ex-husband on my cell phone and I noticed you trying to get my attention. Sorry about the language. He's the one person in the world that makes me lose it like that."

"Oh, I...erm...thought you were talking to me and I was apologizing for...well...for whatever I'd done that made you so angry."

"Really? That's too adorable. I'm sorry if I embarrassed you."

"No, no. I wasn't embarrassed at all. Until a minute ago, that is, when I realized that I'd been talking to myself."

She laughed prettily, and my heartbeat quickened at the sound. I decided to throw caution to the wind.

"Would you care to join me for a drink?" I ventured.

"Are you kidding?" She replied. "I'm divorced - not desperate. Nice meeting you, though."

Friday, June 17, 2005

The Week in Pictures III

This just in. "Random Thoughts" has learned that Tom Cruise is secretly dating former Dawson's Creek star Katie Holmes. More on this developing story as it unfolds.

In world news, an experiment is underway in Great Britain to see just how much more unattractive the British can make themselves. Immediately after the bicycle tour that marked the event's kick off, bio-hazard suit wearing members of Britian's National Disease Control Centre swooped in and burned all of the bicycle seats.

As he eases into his second term in office, President Bush appears to be relaxed and more willing to open up about his vision for the country. Not surprisingly, his popularity has skyrocketed among registered Republicans.

Frustrated by the slow pace of U.S. efforts to eliminate acid rain, the Canadian government fired back today by rolling a giant snowball across the border and injuring several individuals atttending a rooftop party in Detroit.

As we told you in the top of this broadcast, we are able to confirm that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are, indeed, dating. While the couple has done everything possible to keep their relationship private, our sources tell us that Cruise is apparently madly in love with the actress despite the fact that she has ruled out converting to Scientology, calling it a "fake religion created by a failed sci-fi writer and practiced only by complete lunatics."

Embarrassed scientists at the National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colorado admitted this afternoon that what they initially announced as an earthquake in Southern California measured at a magnitude of 5.3, was actually the work of a bored geophysicist who doodled on the seismograph.

An angry George Steinbrenner threw Bill Clinton out of the owner's box at Yankee Stadium after the former President began eating the Yankee owner's dinner. Reached later, Clinton denied having done anything wrong, saying unequivocally "I did not eat off that man's plate."

In our continuing coverage of this rapidly developing story, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got engaged after he popped the question atop the Eiffel tower in what their publicists called a "very private and completely unique" moment.

In response to the approximately zero questions he was asked about the subject during a Paris news conference, a tight lipped Cruise would only say, "It was early this morning at the Eiffel Tower, so I haven't slept at all. Today is a magnificent day for me, I'm engaged to a magnificent woman."

As reporters assured him that they don't care about his personal life, the actor continued. " I've never been to the Eiffel Tower. It's Paris, it's a beautiful city, it's very romantic. We haven't discussed a date yet. One step at a time. Let's see. We're not sure. Oh, and I'm not gay. Really. Make sure you write that part down."

He then talked for two hours about his undying love for Holmes, eventually concluding his remarks to an empty room as all of the reporters had walked out in disgust by that point.

In a related story, Holmes announced that she will convert to Scientology saying that it was a decision that she and Cruise reached together, and that it had nothing to do with the brainwashing that she underwent during a recent visit to the Church of Scientology's major west coast headquarters, the Pacific Area Command Base.

Graffiti artists struck this weekend at Coney Island beach, surprising dozing sunbathers who awoke to find themselves "tagged." Local police launched what they called "an all out war" against the vandals, but also warned beachgoers to "stay awake and stay vigilant" lest they become the next victims.

Faced with rising shipping costs that threaten to put him out of business, famed intergalactic bounty hunter Boba Fett announced that he will no longer encase his captives in individualized frozen carbonite containers. Instead, he will switch to a new frozen carbonite container capable of holding upwards of 250 captives at once, which he estimates will save him over $500 million per year.

The world's first attempt to breed a giant catfish with a human being has failed. The couple reportedly went to dinner and a movie before ending the evening with a brief kiss at the dock. Afterwards, they said that the chemistry "just wasn't there" and that neither is interested in being more than friends.

However, the results of other genetic engineering experiments have proven more successful including one involving human brain cells and horses....

...and another involving a panda and actor Stephen Baldwin.

In entertainment news, Elton John had himself covered in chocolate in an effort to stop the aging process after he learned that additional plastic surgery was not an option for him. The singer claims to love his new look, adding that "it's also an excellent way to meet young boys."

In other news, actress Jennifer Love Hewitt was in town this weekend to congratulate the winner of the first annual "Jennifer Love Hewitt look alike contest."

Fresh from her reported role in the break-up of Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt's marriage, Angelina Jolie set her sights on a new target this week. Jolie, who has served as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees goodwill ambassador since 2001, used her designation to wrangle an invitation to the Washington ceremony marking the opening of a five-day recognition of June 20th's World Refugee Day.

Heedless of the budding romance between U.S. Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice and Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who provided protection for more than 1,000 refugees during Rwanda's genocide in 1994, Jolie sat between the couple and openly flirted with Rusesabagina throughout the event.

Despite the fact that they left the event together and that she was seen sneaking out of his hotel room the next morning, the actress insists that nothing happened, and that she and Rusesabagina are just "good friends."

In sports, Brazilian F1 driver Rubens Barrichello finished in last place at the Grand Prix of Canada, after a member of his pit crew mistakenly stuck the clutch label in the wrong place. The car repeatedly stalled and never left the starting line as the driver furiously tried to shift gears while pressing on the mirror.

Man, I'd love to date this woman. Oh.......erm......sorry.....back to the news.

Police are asking your help in identifying the men who mugged San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobili during game two of the NBA finals. They released this picture taken by a security camera in the building and asked anyone with any information to come forward by calling 955-TIPS.

Finally, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced that they have broken up. The two said that they remain close, but that the relationship had just reached a point where it just wasn't working any more.

Cruise followed this announcement by dropping in on the Oprah Winfrey show to declare his love his 11 year-old "War of the Worlds" co-star Dakota Fanning, "I can't be cool. I can't be laid-back," an exuberant Cruise said during a taped appearance on the show. "Something happened and I want to celebrate it."

A starry-eyed Cruise got down on his knees and repeatedly jumped up on the couch like a Robin Williams comedy act, saying that his love for Fanning was "beyond cool."

Will he propose? His answer did more than leave the door open.

"I'm going to discuss it with her," the twice-divorced actor said. "Honestly, I haven't had this kind of experience before."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Jackson: Five Stories


Michael Jackson was found not guilty Monday of child molestation, conspiracy and other counts. Jurors said the accusations of a young boy and his family were not credible — a total legal victory that triggered jubilation among the pop star's fans and embarrassment for the district attorney's office.

Attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. said the singer was still recovering from the ordeal. "He's going to take it one day at a time. It's been a terrible, terrible process for him," Mesereau said Tuesday, adding "He's so scarred by the entire incident that it's going to be a long time before he can bring himself to get young boys drunk and share pornography with them. "

Mesereau went on to say that the singer will no longer share his bed with young boys. "He's not going to do that anymore," attorney Thomas Mesereau Jr. told NBC's "Today." "He's not going to make himself vulnerable to this anymore." He declined to comment on whether or not Jackson would continue to molest young boys in other rooms of his Neverland ranch.


Legal experts were critical of prosecutor Tomas Sneddon's decision to include the conspiracy charge.

"Had Sneddon not overreached on the conspiracy count, the jury and the rest of the world would not have been introduced to the mother and all her shenanigans," said Robert Pugsley, a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Sneddon appeared defensive about his key witnesses in a post-verdict news conference. "I strongly advised her to leave her shenanigans at home, but she couldn't find anyone to watch them for her." he said.

Other experts said the conspiracy charge also highlighted a troublesome timeline in the case, asking jurors to believe Jackson did not molest the boy for two years, then engaged in a criminal conspiracy over a molestation that hadn't happened yet -- and then, under a media microscope, molested the boy. "The explanation for the verdict is two words: The mother and the timeline," said former Santa Barbara County prosecutor Craig Smith, conveniently ignoring the fact that his explanation contained five words.


After months of testimony and days of deliberation, the jury appeared to relish prospect of returning to their normal lives. "We the jury feel the weight of the world's eyes upon us," they said in a statement read by the judge. "We would like the public to allow us to return to our private lives as anonymously as we came." They followed up their heartfelt plea for privacy and obscurity with a press conference and an appearance on last night's "Larry King Live."

"We would hope ... that he doesn't sleep with children anymore," jury foreman, Paul Rodriguez said on CNN. "He just has to be careful how he conducts himself around children. I'd hate to see him get caught again and be subject to the whims of a less star-struck jury."

During the "Larry King Live" interview, Juror Number 1, a 62-year-old man from Santa Maria, later identified as Raymond Hultman said he believes Jackson "probably has molested boys."

"I can't believe that this man could sleep in the same bedroom for 365 straight days and not do something more than just watch television and eat popcorn," he said. "I know I've never been able to sleep next to a young boy without fondling him." he added, as the other jurors looked askance at him and slowly began to creep away from the man.

The jurors, who listened to the mother testify for more than five days, indicated that they doubted her credibility and were put off by the way she directly addressed jurors and accented her testimony by snapping her fingers.

"I disliked it intensely," said Juror No. 5, a 79-year-old woman from Santa Maria as other jurors laughed and nodded in agreement.. "I thought, 'Don't snap your fingers at me, lady!' "

"She didn't take her eyes off of us. That was uncomfortable," said another.

Legal analysts weren't surprised by the comments, citing finger snapping and eye contact with the jury as two of the top five reasons that pop stars are acquitted of felony charges. The jury's reaction was reminiscent of the comments made by a juror from the O.J. Simpson trial who said "We decided to acquit when Kato Kaelin had the audacity to look us in the eye. We said to ourselves 'Who the hell does that freeloading scumbag think he is making eye contact with us? We're a jury of O.J. Simpson's peers, not Kato Kalien's.' "

Jurors apparently also discounted the cache of sexually explicit material seized from Neverland and presented by prosecutors, who argued the material was used by Jackson to help groom young boys for abuse. "Those are adult magazines. Anybody can own them," Rodriguez said. "It doesn't prove the charge."

"I studied the so called 'girlie magazines' in great detail during the deliberations." he continued. "Every time I went to the men's room, I made sure I took one of them with me. I read Barely Legal, Just Legal, Finally Legal, Purely 18, Plumpers, and Big Women from cover to cover. Not only was I not offended, but I'm their newest subscriber."


More than 1,200 people had waited outside for the verdicts. Jubilant fans of Michael Jackson erupted in chants of "innocent" and tossed confetti into the air outside the courthouse Monday as the pop star was cleared of child molestation and other charges. One woman who had camped out for day with a box of white doves released them, one by one, for each count on which Jackson was acquitted.

Still shaking from his ordeal, one of the doves reached for comment later said, "I can't believe that woman held us captive in over 90 degree heat to show support for that freak. I shudder to think what she would have done to us had he been found guilty."

"It's victory," said Tracee Raynaud, 39. "God is alive and well."

Clearly angered by her assumption that He cared the slightest about the outcome of the trial, God immediately smote Ms. Raynaud with a well placed lightning bolt. Shortly afterwards, God announced plans to market a line of "Jesus Juice" wines named after His Son. "I had the name copyrighted while Jackson was distracted with the case," He boasted.

Meanwhile, back on earth - so to speak - Jackson's deluded fans contined to act like they - not the singer - had been acquitted.

"I'm shaking," said Emily Smith, 24, of London, who was among the few lucky fans in Santa Maria who got courtroom passes to hear the reading of the verdicts. "I believe justice has been done today. I can't tell you how good it feels."

As Jackson left the courtroom, more than a dozen white balloons were released. The musician blew kisses and waved to the exultant crowd before departing for Neverland. There, hundreds of fans hugged and sobbed as they greeted Jackson's convoy of SUVs with a huge cheer. In interview after interview the fans attributed their sobs to the fact that the long ordeal was over and that they would now have to return to the drab, empty, meaningless lives they lead before the trial.

But those were tomorrow's worries, for today was a time for celebration.

Later, fans followed him back to his Neverland ranch, leaving their cars along the side of the road and walking to the gates of the sprawling complex to give him a raucous welcome as her returned home. As a convoy of black SUVs carrying Jackson and his entourage pulled through the gates, his sister La Toya rolled down a window, smiled widely and waved. The crowd responded with a euphoric cheer, before recoiling in shock and horror as her face began to melt in the hot sun.

Martin Stock, the founder of a Jackson fan club in Germany who stayed up past 11 p.m. to watch the outcome had the final word, saying said he was overjoyed, even though he had expected his idol's acquittal. "The whole trial was laughable and Michael was treated inhumanely. I think people were trying to throw him into prison to get at his money," Stock said.


Santa Barbara county jail inmates disagreed, with Stock's assessment, saying that it wasn't the singer's money that were going to get a piece of had he been convicted.