MONDAY, DECEMBER 25 The sleigh bells are jing-jing-jingling and ring-ting-tingling too—because it's Christmas Day and all the Britneys, Lindsays, and Parises are safely tucked away in their beds with visions of va-heena slips and Botox appointments dancing in their heads. So no big gossip today—unless you count the death of R&B superstar James Brown (which we won't, because unlike half the things we report in this column, his death actually happened). The so-called "Godfather of Soul" passed away early this morning at the age of 73 after a bout with severe pneumonia. Later this week, Brown will be honored with an extravagant memorial service inside Harlem's famed Apollo Theater, in which thousands of fans (including Michael Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, and a line-cutting Julia Stiles... SHAME) will come to see the singer laid to rest in his 24-karat gold coffin. And while those eulogizing the man will undoubtedly sing his praises, they may neglect to share a couple of interesting bits of James Brown trivia: such as how he was a big supporter of Richard Nixon's campaign, was arrested in 1989 for assault and possession of PCP and illegal weapons, or how the Pope once advised him to stick with a music career instead of switching to ministerial work. Or there was the time he pulled a shotgun out in an insurance meeting because he believed someone had used his personal toilet. And when he had a new set of eyebrows tattooed on his face. And when he allegedly told a female employee that he had "powerful testicles given to him by the government." It's too bad these things probably won't be mentioned, because James Brown was no angel—and we wouldn't have him any other way. As he said in his song "The Big Payback," "I don't know karate/but I know ka-razy." R.I.P. Mr. Dynamite.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 26 And though you won't see his gold-plated coffin at the Apollo, former President Gerald Ford died today at the ripened age of 93. The man who replaced Richard Nixon—and later killed his chances for reelection by pardoning Tricky Dick—was the longest-living president, and one of the more annoying ones as well... at least to current President Bush. Ford made no qualms about publicly stating he would not have gone to war with Iraq—which made him few friends in the current asshole administration. Sorry George W., there will be no pardon for you. MEANWHILE... Today on SE 16th here in Portland, the gaping maw of the HELLMOUTH opened on the street next to the Buckman Elementary playground, swallowing the front end of a 50,000-pound sewer truck. Though authorities claim the "sinkhole" was caused by either faulty sewer lines or a problem with a nearby swimming pool, any faithful viewer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer knows how these things happen, right? A hellmouth can only be opened by dripping sacrificial blood on the Seal of Danzalthar. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY TEACHING THOSE KIDS AT BUCKMAN ELEMENTARY??

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27 If you are as confused as we are by the va-heena flashing behavior of Britney Spears, it turns out there's a pretty good reason; she doesn't have a publicist telling her to wear underpants. Mouthpiece/advisor Leslie Sloane Zelnick jumped ship in October without giving any reason—though we imagine it was for incidents such as the one reported today: Britney was recently seen excessively whooping it up at Hollyweird hotspot Les Deux, and demanding the DJ play some of her songs. The DJ obliged, but followed the set with ex-bf Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" (oooooooh... burrrrrn). Apparently the song didn't go down too well, because Britney was seen dashing to the powder room, and according to a witness, "threw up all over." But it's not just Brit's publicists who are fleeing the sinking ship; the web's most popular Britney fansite ( has closed its doors after owner Ruben Garay declared that the former pop goddess is "done," and "losing her identity and credibility with fans and industry people." See, Britney? When you lose the respect of bathroom janitors, you lose the respect of the world.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 28 Get ready to feel great about yourself again! Homeland Security Advisor Frances Fragos Townsend has coined what will surely be the most optimistic phrase of 2006. During an interview tonight with CNN's Ed Henry, the correspondent asked Townsend to explain how the administration could proclaim "successes on the war on terror," when they had not captured Osama bin Laden. "That's a failure," Henry said. After shifting uncomfortably in her seat, Townsend responded, "I don't know I view that as a failure. It's a success that hasn't occurred yet." Love that attitude, Townsend! And even though we may NEVER catch bin Laden, let's go ahead and chalk that up as a "success" on the president's resume. In related news, though it hasn't happened yet, we've successfully slept with Brad Pitt!

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29 We all know the simple ingredients for a good life: Finding a great pair of Manolo Blahniks on sale, getting drunk, getting naked, and making out with Miss USA. That's what the Founding Fathers meant by "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," right? And is it too much too ask? Well, apparently, yes, it is: Katie Rees, better known as Miss Nevada, was officially scorned by the Miss Universe Organization today, after photos surfaced showing a drunken Miss Nevada "kissing another girl, flashing one of her breasts, and giving the camera a glimpse of her thong underwear," according to E! News. (Miss Nevada's been in trouble before, along with Miss USA Tara Conner—the two were caught drinking, making out with each other, and sneaking men into their Trump Place apartment.) Ignoring the dejected sobs of lipstick-lesbian-loving frat boys across the land, today the officials of the Miss Universe Organization stripped Miss Nevada of her title (rimshot, please). Now, seriously: Who among us hasn't gotten tipsy, flashed a boob or two, and/or made out with a slutty Miss USA? Exactly! Everybody has! It's a tradition as time honored and American as the Miss USA Pageant itself! And when good, wholesome Americans like Miss Nevada are punished for it... well, shame. Shame on you, officials of the Miss Universe Organization! Or as Jesus once said, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first thong."

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30 Think James Brown and President Gerald Ford had a bad week? Well, not as bad as Saddam Hussein, who was hanged today in Baghdad. "Down with the traitors, the Americans, the spies, and the Persians," were Saddam's somewhat bewildering last words, though—perhaps out of politeness?—the dictator declined to remind the world that the United States supported him for years before deciding that he (and not, say, the far more elusive Osama bin Laden) was the figurehead of worldwide terrorism. On the upside, shortly after the hanging, Hussein's ghost was heard to remark that he was "really, really glad" that—unlike at James Brown's funeral—Michael Jackson didn't show up to eulogize him. "Seriously," Hussein's ghost said. "Did you see it when Jacko kissed James? Two corpses making out is too weird even for me."

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31 Let's keep the cheery, uplifting news about Iraq rolling, shall we? According to Reuters, today marked American death number 3,000 in the Iraq War. "Violence in the country is at an all-time high," The New York Times wrote, adding that "If the conflict continues into March, the Iraq War will be the third longest in American history, ranked behind the Vietnam War and the American Revolution." Okay, so at least we got Apocalypse Now from Vietnam, and the Revolutionary War taught us it was okay to dress up like Indians and throw tea into the ocean. But what are we getting out of Iraq? Oh, right—a crazy old man who hides in spider holes and cusses out Persians with his dying breaths. Ah, the Iraq war: totally worth it.