MONDAY, JULY 8
Say what you will about the New York Post--that it's a mean-spirited, right-wingish rag catering to knee-jerk patriots and the thick-skulled lower classes--but nobody beats 'em at GOSSIP! In this week's edition, the Post came through again with what could be the juiciest squirt of dirt of 2002: the alleged romance between 'N SYNC's Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson! EEEEEEEEEE! Couldn't you just die? According to the report, spies saw the two giving each other tongue-alicious tonsil exams at rapper Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott's birthday party in Miami. "Janet and Justin just started making out in front of everyone," the tipster reported. "It's like they wanted the whole place to know." And by "the whole place" the tipster was referring to Leo DiCaprio, Spider-Man Tobey Maguire, and oopsy! diminutive rap impresario Jermaine Dupree, who is supposed to be Jackson's squeeze du jour. Dupree first discovered Jackson's delicious duplicity after showing up for their date at an L.A. nightclub two weeks ago, and witnessing Timberlake performing the serious freak-nasty with his girlfriend on the dance floor. "When he showed up, Janet was on the dance floor grinding all over Justin," spies say. "She was going buck wild. Jermaine was not happy." And while he may not be happy, we think it's HILARIOUS! Janet Jackson swapping love juice with honky Justin Timberlake? Girl, from now on you KNOW we're referring to you as "Ms. Jackson" 'cause you NASTY!

TUESDAY, JULY 9
And, fearing that the news of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson would make Americans forget all about al-Qaida, the terrorist organization gave an interview today, just to let everyone know they're still around, they're still attempting to bring America to its knees, and not to worry. The interview was published in the Algerian daily El Youm, and was gathered with the help of two intermediaries. The editor faxed questions to the first intermediary, who ran them over to a second intermediary, who then ran over and asked the al-Qaida each question. Then the whole process was reversed to deliver the answers. Naturally, by the time all of this was complete, no one at the newspaper gave a shit about what the al-Qaida had to say, but were too embarrassed not to run it. But just in case you're curious, al-Qaida wants you to know that "[the group] still maintains its military, security, economic, and informational structures." They also noted that al-Qaida "functions according to a rigorous, secret logicthat cannot be knocked out." (We're going to assume there were some translation problems between the two intermediaries.) Then it was pretty much what they always say: "Al-Qaida will organize more attacks" blah, blah, blah "inside and outside American territory" blah, blah, blah and "we will attack when we choose, how we choose" blah, blah, blah, blah, BLAH. So basically, al-Qaida has NOTHING new to say, right? Oh, wait one more thing. They also wanted to know if we're going to see the new Austin Powers movie. Mmmmm don't think so.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 10
It was another banner day for the Los Angeles police, after learning they're being sued for beating the crap out of a young black man and his father. What's that? They beat the crap out of black men everyday? That may be true, but this time it was caught on videotape. According to the "beatees," 16-year-old Donovan Jackson and his father, Coby Chavis, were at an Inglewood gas station when "deputies drove by and gave them a mean look." The cops then allegedly doubled back and began hassling the two about expired vehicle plates on the car. According to a lawyer for Chavis, the father was threatened by the police, saying, "Nigger, we're gonna arrest you. Today, we beat your son's ass, and if we see you on the street, we're gonna beat your ass." The videotape does show quite a beating, with Officer Jeremy Morse lifting Jackson off the ground in handcuffs and slamming him onto the squad car. Morse is then caught dead to rights slugging Jackson in the face. However, the offending officer's lawyer claims there was a very good reason for that smack in the chops. "After his hands were cuffed, Jackson was able to reach out and grab my client's testicles," said the highly imaginative lawyer. "And on that occasion the punch was seen in order to make that activity cease." Okay. So instead of rioting and destroying half of L.A., let's just go beat the crap out of this lawyer. Whaddaya say?

THURSDAY, JULY 11
"David Hasselhoff has checked himself into the Betty Ford Center. He realized his social drinking had increased more than he was comfortable with, and he decided to do something about it." At least that's what his publicist had to say about the former Baywatch star's highly publicized drinking problem. But what we really want to know is what the National Enquirer had to say! According to this highly respectable tabloid (at least compared to ours) Hasselhoff showed up at Betty Ford the first time in late June, only to quickly check out two days later. He turned up "with no luggage" at the nearby Desert Springs Marriott Resort, cleaned out the mini-bar in his room, and was discovered passed out cold, surrounded by those adorable, yet empty, bottles. Paramedics were called, and after reviving the actor, they whisked him to the hospital where he was treated for alcohol poisoning. He was then taken back to the Betty Ford clinic to be treated for that "social drinking" problem he wasn't entirely "comfortable with." See? Publicists don't lie! They just sometimes forget to mention the juicy parts.

FRIDAY, JULY 12
The mother of the California schoolgirl whose atheist father sued to have the Pledge of Allegiance declared unconstitutional, wants you to know that her daughter is not a no-good, godless commie like her soulless, unpatriotic pop. "I was concerned that the American public would be led to believe that my daughter is an atheist," the mother, Sandra Banning, said. "In our home we are practicing Christians." Ms. Banning went on to explain that her Jesus-loving daughter is DEVOTED to the Pledge of Allegiance and can't get enough of reciting it. She has no idea why the girl's father (who, in addition to not believing in God, apparently does not believe in marriage or birth control) has chosen to pursue this in court, except maybe to be irksome. The girl's father, Michael Newdow, a Sacramento doctor, says he does not remember ever knocking up any practicing Christians, and is reconsidering the feasibility of Immaculate Conception.

SATURDAY, JULY 13
The New York Times reported today that a Pennsylvania State appeals court has refused to allow a divorced husband to visit his dog. As part of their divorce, the couple agreed that Lynda Hurley Pritchard would have custody of the dog, Barney, but that Anthony Desanctis could visit it and bring it chew toys and Mr. Barkies. The court found that the arrangement was, in a word, silly. The court voided the agreement, and Mr. Desanctis is no longer allowed to see the dog at all, though he does get custody of the DVD player and a floor lamp every other weekend.

SUNDAY, JULY 14
Larry Hagman (of I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas fame), as quoted in today's Oregonian: "When I die, I want my friends to eat me. I want to be fed through a wood chipper, be spread over a wheat field, then have a cake baked from the crop for all my pals to munch on I want the cake to be made of half marijuana, which makes people so much less violent than booze." Cut that out and put it somewhere where you can read it everyday.

Maybe the hey hey hey at ann@portlandmercury.com?