MONDAY, MARCH 29

Okay. Listen to this blind item posted in today's New York Post: "WHICH plucky pop tart lived up to her bad-girl image with some X-rated action at the recent World Music Awards in Monaco? We're told that the songbird was invited to an orgy by a certain sex-obsessed aristocrat, who ended up with a royal pain after the singer used a sex toy on him. Our heroine coyly referred to the unprintable incident by telling reporters she had a 'strapping good time in Monaco.'" For those unfamiliar with the term "blind item," it refers to a particularly salacious piece of gossip that the reporter cannot or refuses to confirm--usually for fear of being sued for libel. However, that doesn't mean we can't take an educated guess! FACT: Britney Spears, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Madonna, and Mariah Carey are all "plucky pop tarts" and were in attendance at Monaco's Music Awards. Hilary Duff was nowhere near the rumored "strapping"--but let's just throw her name into the hat for fun. Britney can be ruled out for her recent knee injury (trust us--using a strap-on requires strong joints). Madonna and Mariah are too old to be invited to orgies, which leaves Pink, Christina, and Hilary. Now--let's all take a moment to imagine each of these ladies wearing a strap-on and pounding a prince in the rump. Okay... Hilary's out. Therefore it's got to be either Christina or Pink... and frankly, we can't decide! Both seem more than capable, so we're going to let our readers decide. Send your best guess (and the reasons behind it) to ann@portlandmercury.com, and we'll print the results next week! It'll be a strapping good time!

TUESDAY, MARCH 30

Today President Bush tucked his tail between his legs and finally agreed to let National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice testify publicly under oath before an independent Sept. 11 panel. And while he's acting like it was a grand, magnanimous gesture on his part, the agreement didn't come without some very restrictive restrictions. In order for Rice to appear, the panel must agree to seek no more public testimony from any White House official (actually we're okay with that... watching Donald Rumsfeld testify makes us feel throw-uppy). Meanwhile! If the White House thought they had trouble with whistle-blower Richard Clarke, wait till they get a load of Sibel Edmonds! According to an interview with London's The Independent, the former FBI translator claims to have provided top secret information to the 9/11 investigative panel proving the administration knew of al-Qaida's plans to use aircraft to attack U.S. landmarks months before it happened. "President Bush said they had no specific information about 11 September and that is accurate--but only because he said 11 September," she said, adding there was plenty of information about the potential of airplane strikes and that an attack was generally thought to be months away. Note to White House: We think Ms. Edmonds is a nice lady, and we'd appreciate it if you didn't kill her.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31

Hilary Duff photographed wearing strap-on! Okay, that isn't true, but we felt that was the only way we could get you to read this incredibly depressing story about the continued disintegration of Iraq. Today in Fallujah, a town just west of Baghdad, the burned, mutilated bodies of four American "contractors" were dragged through the streets, after their SUV was ambushed by rebels. Bystanders chanted "Fallujah is the graveyard of Americans" as the two SUVs burned. Associated Press Television News obtained pictures of a man beating one of the blackened corpses with a metal pole. After two of the bodies were dragged behind a car, they were hung from a bridge "like slaughtered sheep," said one resident. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the contractors were " trying to make a difference and to help others." It's important to note, however, these so-called "contractors" weren't exactly civilians, but military trained mercenaries hired to protect buildings, and officials. Along with five U.S. soldiers who were also killed today by a bomb, today was the bloodiest day of this seemingly endless conflict since January 8th. But like the Bush administration likes to say, there's always tomorrow.

THURSDAY, APRIL 1

Time for some palate-cleansing gossip! Is breast-baring diva Janet Jackson planning on marrying record producer Jermaine Dupri? We hope not... he's gross! Nevertheless, according to the wags at the Post, Ms. Jackson (so-called if you're nasty) is sporting a "20-carat yellow diamond dazzler" and Dupri told the even ickier Ryan Seacrest on his LA-based radio show, "I want to marry her... I would like to be with her forever." If it happens this would be Janet's third marriage; the first being a hush-hush endeavor between herself and James DeBarge in 1984, and the second with choreographer Rene Elizondo, which was even a bigger secret. Personally, we're all for secret weddings--especially if you're marrying Jermaine Dupri. As mentioned earlier, ewww, he's gross. MEANWHILE! What's all this about Britney Spears being PAID to go to fancy-pants clubs? According to the New York Post, a South Beach party promoter demanded 2,000 smackers from posh Miami nightspot Mynt to insure that Spears would be guided into their establishment after her live Showtime concert on Sunday night. "It's not our policy to pay celebrities to come to Mynt," said one of the club's managers. Unfortunately, this type of celebrity scam is an alarming and prevalent new trend in the restaurant industry. Why, just the other night we told the International House of Pancakes they'd have to pay for us to eat there--surprisingly, they also refused.

FRIDAY, APRIL 2

The government raised the U.S. transit system to a "code yellow-plus" today following a warning that terrorists might strike trains and buses in major U.S. cities using bombs concealed in bags or luggage. This action raised a host of questions, mainly, "what is a code yellow-plus"? Yes, just when we've all caught on to the color grid alert system, the government has apparently incorporated a plus-minus system overlay. Did U.S. officials have intelligence about the Madrid train bombing and notify the Spanish government of an impending orange-minus attack? Were the Spanish all like "what the fuck does that mean?" Were we then like orange-minus assholes, which is between regular orange and yellow-plus? But while the Spanish were looking up "yellow-plus" in their little English dictionaries, the trains went boom? Is this perhaps indicative of a serious flaw in our every-confounding national alert system? We know. We ask too many questions.

SATURDAY, APRIL 3

More fantastic news from the Osbournes! We've all enjoyed the Osbourne Quarterly Family Drama. Sharon has cancer! Jack is hooked on Oxy! Ozzy crashed his four-wheeler! Well, guess what? It's Kelly's turn. The Associated Press reports that the 19-year-old has checked into a drug rehabilitation center for an addiction to painkillers. We know, it's shocking. Kelly was always the reasonable, levelheaded one. Some might use this development as further proof of Sharon and Ozzy's questionable parenting skills. Not us. Sure, Sharon and Ozzy raised their kids to be unselfconscious about gobbling large quantities of prescription opiates, but they also raised them to embrace the cardinal rule of Hollywood: there is no shame in rehab. It's like camp, but without the mushrooms.

SUNDAY, APRIL 4

Today was a real benchmark in our war against terror. The American military death toll in Iraq rose to 600 with the report that two Marines had died in the dangerous Anbar province! Who says America isn't accomplishing anything in the Middle East?! The administration was cautiously optimistic about the number and announced that it would try to raise it to the "5000 range" by fall. In an effort to meet this goal, officials announced that as of May, they will start sending U.S. Forces into the country unarmed.