Hollywood, CA: normally a sunwashed land of tinsel and glamour. Today, a community ripped to emotional shreds by three horrifying events! Horrifying event #1! Tom Cruise files for divorce! After 11 years of perfect marital bliss, swarthy actor Tom Cruise has requested an absolution of his holy vows from extremely pale redhead Nicole Kidman. The couple were rumored to be happily wed until they witnessed each other naked on the set of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Still others think the breakup was destined because both were members of the Church of Scientology, and everybody knows that people who belong to that church are crazy. Horrifying event #2! Charlize Theron--star of the upcoming Sweet November alongside the mentally disabled Keanu Reeves--has broken up with boyfriend Stephan Jenkins, lead singer of the washed up alterna-band, Third Eye Blind! okay, so maybe nobody was upset about that. But wait! Horrifying event #3! Creepy old Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger made another passive-aggressive threat to run for California governor! Upset about the way current governor Gray Davis is handling the state's electricity crisis, Arnold said he could see himself following in the footsteps of former governor Ronald Reagan (who also went on to become President, and eventually deteriorated to the point of being unable to identify what a doggy is). To all our friends in Hollywood, best wishes for a speedy recovery!

Okay, are we ready for the "Ewwwww!" story of the week? It was announced today in the Seattle Times that a former teacher who at one time molested and raped his student has married her (Ewwwww!). Mark Blilie, 46, who spent four years in prison for sexually assaulting his former student Toni Pala when she was 13, married the woman (now 20) in a Las Vegas ceremony (Ewwwww!). Blilie has written a manuscript documenting his affair, writing "I had no way of knowing that seated in the class that first day of school was a 13-year-old girl who would eventually change my life. (Ewwwww!) A girl who would prove to be an outstanding student (Ewwwww!)a girl who would also come to adore me. (Ewwwww! Ewwwww!)" However, things haven't been all soda shops and lengthy discussions of Nabokov for the smitten couple. "I can't teach. I have no money." Blilie says. "But so what? Yes, we're happy." To which his blushing bride adds, "Would you not be happy? Can you not understand it?" Hmm, you know, it is a little hard to understand, especially when we're so busy saying EWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!

Even more icky news from up north. Today the Bellingham, WA police were called out to round up Phillip Lee Roberts and his wife for--brace yourself-- producing and selling more than 100 videos of their 16-year-old son having sex with their 14-year old daughter. Back in November, the family's then-13-year old daughter had taken one of the tapes to a neighbor's house. Alarmed, the neighbor immediately phoned police. Since then, the Roberts have been eluding a $600,000 warrant for their arrest. The manhunt ended today after a SWAT team surrounded the Bellingham apartment Roberts was renting. For 31 hours, the SWAT members tried to negotiate Roberts and his family out of the house. Eventually Roberts shot himself and the other family members fled the apartment. Note to self: Look for the occasional story with a happy ending.

I found it! It's Portland's birthday! That's right, it was 150 years ago today, that Governor John P. Gaines signed the act that chartered Portland as a city. And to mark this momentous occasion, a noontime party was held in City Hall where everyone except the Mercury--who wasn't invited because we wrote a mean article about Vera Katz-- chowed down on cake, listened to a mariachi band, and viewed models of vanity projects designed to waste taxpayers' money. Onlookers were also encouraged to plant a rose to honor our city's historic beginnings, which is exactly what One Day attempted to do, but was stymied because we couldn't find a garden that had not been replaced by a Starbucks. So instead, we bought a prostitute! Back in the early days of our city, prostitution and gambling were the city's biggest industries, and we felt that buying a prostitute would be a more accurate way of reminding ourselves how Portland got its start. Naturally, we didn't have sex with her, but had a nice time anyway shopping for books at Powell's and coercing her into sneaking into City Hall to snag us a piece of cake. Thanks, prostitute, and happy birthday, Portland!

That collective thump you heard this morning was the much-anticipated Portland Tribune hitting the doorstep of 160,000 or so Portland homes. The biggest threat to the Mercury since the Nickel Ads changed fonts from Arial to Times New Roman in 1982, the Trib has vowed to steal the Mercury's hipster readers, and with them our vast fortune of porn advertising dollars. When the debut issue was finally laid in our trembling hands you could have heard an Evian bottle drop in the Mercury's expansive and expensively decorated offices. It was worse than we had thought. The witty design homage to USA Today, the absurdly compelling lack of news, the post-punk thoroughly ironic banal prose. It was brilliant! Even our own Mercury teen issue was not as clever a send-up of culturally vapid values and common dominator marketing mediocrity as what we held before us. Satire? We had never seen such subtle alternative guerilla journalism. Our only hope is that our readers miss the joke and assume the Trib to be just another prosaic, condescending, mainstream collection of badly written litter terrorism.

Speaking of bad ideas, The Oregonian reported today that a man returned a $640,000 bundle of money that he found after it fell off the back of an unlatched armored truck. The money was still wrapped in plastic and was fully accounted for. The article did not name the man, who is rumored to have gone into hiding fearing retribution from his friends and family. Along with the money, the man is also said to have returned a quarter he retrieved from a phone booth in 1979, extra ketchup given to him in a Wendy's bag, and an old shoe he found on the side of an interstate highway. The police confiscated the money. And gave him a reward for the old shoe.

Today, in yet another blow to the man-ape psyche, The Associated Press reports that the human gene pool is far shallower than expected. This information follows the release of two landmark studies that offer the first detailed look at the human genetic code. It turns out that humans have "remarkably few genes--not all that many more than in a fruit fly." This low number came as a shock to the scientific community, many of whom have personally slaughtered thousands of generations of fruit flies. "It seems to be some kind of affront to human dignity," said Eric Lander, director of the Whitehead Institute Center for Genome Research. In other disappointing news, it turns out that the earth is not the center of the universe

My, but we're prickly this week.