MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 Today we all wished that Hollywood would just CALM DOWN, and realize that erasing every single reference to the WTC attack is not going to make us feel all hunky-dory. This week, a new episode of the NBC hit, Friends is getting entirely reworked simply because it takes place in an airport. They claim they're re-shooting the episode because "a lot of the comedy in it didn't feel funny." Okay. And what was their excuse before the WTC attack? And speaking of NBC, the season premiere of The West Wing has already been postponed twice, and this week, creator Aaron Sorkin has asked to postpone it yet again. According to network sources, the request didn't have anything to do with the specific content of the show, but rather, Sorkin had "a general concern with how viewers will respond to the Oval Office drama given its political tone." Need we remind you, Mr. Sorkin, that a good many of us wrote in President Bartlet's name in last November's election! Go back to your bag of mushrooms, and leave our Wednesday nights alone! And even the violent world of professional football isn't immune to the threat of a reduction of violence. Major networks have promised that sportscasters will tone down any "terms that compare the game to acts of war." These terms include "attack," "blast," "blitz," "end around" (a term unknown to us under any circumstance), "suicide squads" (okay, we get that one), and the "war room." Maybe it's just us, but we think this confirms all of our previous suspicions: Football is soooooo GAY!

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18 Happily, it was nice to learn today that Americans are not panicking. They're acting pretty much the same as always--with the possible exception of stocking up on guns, ammunition, and gas masks. According to a Reuters report, military supply stores can barely keep pace with the skyrocketing demand for such items as gas masks and knife-proof vests. Forest City Surplus in Ontario, a specialist in military supply gear, claims they are selling upwards of 100 gas masks per day over the internet; mainly to American customers. Gun and ammunition sales are also way up, and while this statistic could be explained away as a natural occurrence that coincides with the beginning of hunting season, General Laney of Laney Gun Supply in Detroit astutely notes that "when people are buying double-ought buck [shot], that's for hunting two-legged deer." Also in the news today, a Gallup poll of Americans revealed some rather uncomfortable statistics when it comes to the treatment of Arabs: 58 percent of the people polled would support requiring Arabs (even those who are U.S. citizens) to undergo special, more intensive security checks before boarding planes. And even worse? 49 percent would support a law requiring Arabs and Arab Americans to carry a special ID. It looks like dark days are ahead for Arab Americans as well as the rest of us "two-legged deer."

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 Today in Olympia, Washington, residents were scratching their heads, wondering if a seven-foot-tall wooden penis could be considered "patriotic." The penis belongs to Jean Paul "J.P." Parshall who carved the work of art out of a tree stump earlier this summer, placed it in his front yard, and adorned it with two American flags sticking out of its pee-hole. Answering complaints lodged by neighbors, Capt. Dan Kimball of the sheriff's department said, "We don't have a county ordinance that I know of that says you can't carve your tree into a penis." As for Parshall, no one has complained to him directly about his flag-waving, knotty penis, and even noted that on a recent morning, he found an older couple in his front yard saluting the statue. It just goes to show that while terrorists can take away our buildings, the enduring symbol of the American penis shall never be undermined.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20 Tonight, President George W. Bush addressed Congress and the nation (both of whom were silently praying he wouldn't fuck it up). Happily he did a pretty good job overall, leading many people to think he should never leave the house without a teleprompter strapped across his chest. And though the affair resembled an overzealous Hollywood production by Jerry Bruckheimer, it was the vomitous post-speech performances by CNN anchors Aaron Brown and Judy Woodruff that had many Americans thinking that maybe these guys in the Taliban aren't so bad after all. As soon as Bush finished speaking, the two immediately began gushing about the President's performance as if they were two teenage girls clawing at the stage door of a Backstreet Boys concert. Foregoing their duty to provide in-depth analysis of the good (as well as wrong-headed) points made by the President, Aaron and Judy sounded like the same government-paid employees who were hopping up every 30 seconds to provide the scripted standing ovations. On the upside, when these two hacks finally get fired, at least they'll be able to secure careers in infomercials or perhaps, the ever-growing "high school pep rally" industry.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21 Today, controversy surrounding Bush's speech from last night reached a fever pitch, as his blatant snub of Canada nearly resulted in an international incident. Or at least a minor ripple in the pool of current events. Poor Canada. Left out in the cold as Bush listed friendly nations from all over the world and practically threw a bouquet to his new super-best friend, British PM Tony Blair, who sat next to Laura Bush looking constipated and teary-eyed. Did Bush mention Canada, our ally and comedic foil to the north? Not a peep. Canadian Defense Minister Art Eggleton chose to give Bush the benefit of the doubt, telling reporters that Bush "knows we're there" for him. To the north. Just above Wisconsin. The country with the hockey. And the Labatts. Maybe Art should send a map. Just to be on the safe side.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 Ever wonder who's creepier than James Woods? According to The Oregonian, Woods himself found out on a Boston to LA flight about a month ago, when he observed four guys of apparent Middle Eastern origin who were acting so oddly that he reported them to the flight attendants and authorities on the ground when he landed. Woods told the feds that he was alone in first class with the four men and noticed during the entire cross-country flight that none of them had any snacks, nor did they read, sleep, or appear to make themselves comfortable. They sat erect in their seats and stared straight ahead, saying nothing to the flight attendants, and speaking to each other only in hushed tones. Woods thinks the flight may have been a dry run for the September 11 attacks. You know you're sending out bad vibes if James Woods thinks you're sinister. Then again, maybe they were just working up the nerve to ask for an autograph.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 Today we awoke, used a moisturizing creamy cleanser, exfoliated, applied rosewater tonic, plucked eleven chin chairs, and then opened up The Oregonian to discover what we have always known--that the Beaver State has the most beautiful, talented ladies in the free world (including Canada). Yes, girls, Miss America has been crowned, and she is none other than Miss Oregon, Katie Harman. Katie, 21, a student at PSU, whose talent is operatic vocal performance (and we're not talking "Memories"), represents a return to basic American values. She's blonde. She's white. She's photo-ready. She also was able to pass the pageant's new rigorous quiz--heck, it IS a scholarship--correctly answering such mind-benders as "Which country gave the Statue of Liberty to the United States as a gift?" Hint: It's NOT Canada.

Should the U.S. recognize Canada as a nation?

Email ann@portlandmercury.com