Tears of pride filled the eyes of Stumptown today as (temporary) hometown-boy-made-good Benicio Del Toro returned to Portland brandishing his "Best Supporting Actor" award. Rather than hanging around L.A. with the rest of those Hollywood coke-snorters, our diligent Benicio was up bright and early this morning working on The Hunted, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones, and directed by William "The Exorcist" Friedkin. And while last night's Academy Awards may have been a ratings disappointment, the national watercooler was abuzz with chitty-chat about the nipple-riffic gown of Jennifer "J. Lo" Lopez. However, the all-encompassing specter of her nipples did not fool the intrepid reporters of Entertainment Weekly, who discovered an even deeper J. Lo scandal. Along with her practically invisible sage-green Chanel gown, she was also wearing fake eyelashes! Made out of genuine fox fur! From an eyelash factory in INDONESIA! Now, if this had happened to Kathie Lee Gifford, she would be on the first jet to that fox-murdering Indonesian eyelash sweatshop, and handing out one-hundred dollar bills faster than Hugh Hefner at a hooker convention. However, the lucky Ms. Lopez could torch a busload of nuns, and the Pope wouldn't even look up from his DVD of The Wedding Planner.

Send in the clones! Today, two scientists testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, saying in a nutshell, "Remember, when we said that we'd never, ever, EVER clone humans? Well we're gonna clone humans." Fertility specialist Panos Zavos, along with an Italian doctor, is planning to use cloning to help infertile couples who are obviously mentally incapable of adoption. Initially it would seem that the world could only benefit from the ability to clone a thousand Benicio Del Toros. However, according to Rudolf Jaenisch of MIT's Whitehead Institute, there is an incredibly high percentage of deformities that have occurred after cloning animals. Janenisch was one of the creators of "Dolly," the first cloned sheep, which failed 276 times before she was born. Now the sheep is grossly overweight and may have a variety of other defects. Nevertheless, 700 couples have volunteered to participate in the experiment regardless of Jaenisch's cryptic--and hilarious--warning: "There's no such thing as a 'normal' clone."

While many of our fine officers of the Portland Police Bureau were busy being extras today on the set of Benicio del Toro's movie The Hunted, another was being rushed to the hospital after being accosted by a mysterious, big milky-white cloud. Officer Chris Devlin was searching what is believed to be an abandoned drug lab in a home on Southeast 64th Avenue. After 20 minutes of cleaning up drug-related supplies such as "syringes, spoons, and other items," a resident of the house asked him to check out a room that had "a strange smell." Cautiously approaching the room, he slooooooooowly opened the door peeeeeeked his head around the corner aaaaaaaand "BOOOOO!" A big milky-white cloud attacked him! Overcome by milky-white fumes, Devin quickly ran outside. He was then rushed to OHSU, where he has since been released. Sowhat happened to the big milky-white cloud? "At this point it's a mystery," said drug squad Capt. Jim Ferraris. However, if any Mercury readers happen to see a big milky-white cloud, they should NOT approach it, and immediately call the authorities. The big milky-white cloud was last seen looking big, and white, and very, very milky.

You know, sometimes you're in the airport, and those airline gate people make you so mad, you just wanna break their necks. Well, don't do it! As Virginia native, John Davis, Jr. might say if he were here right now, it just isn't worth it. He was on trial today for breaking a Continental Airlines gate agent's neck--but says he did it solely in self-defense. Davis claims that he was just patiently waiting in an extremely long line, and when he calmly approached ticket agent Angelo Sottile to ask a simple question, the Continental employee flew into an agitated rage, grabbed him by the throat, and was about to punch him, when Davis accidentally picked him and calmly threw him down, breaking his neck. Surprisingly, this account differed substantially from what other passengers witnessed, who claimed they saw an enraged Davis confront Sottile for pushing his wife, before picking the agent up and viciously slamming him to the ground. The trial will continue, and if convicted Davis faces up to 10 years in the hole.

Attention Benicio Del Toro fans! Today, The Portland Tribune reported the make and model of the car that Benicio drives in The Hunted. It is a Plymouth Acclaim. It is gray. It is, according to the Trib, a "genuine beater." The front page story that spread nearly two full-pages and featured six color photos, also described director William Friedkin as wearing a "sea foam green windbreaker and a jaunty cap." Sea foam green? Doesn't Friedkin know that we Portlanders prefer our Gore-tex in periwinkle? And speaking of snappy dressing, Benicio Del Toro was spotted today in Ozone Records special-ordering--now, get this--a Bruce Springsteen t-shirt in TWO different sizes. So what's going on here? Is this merely a statement of fashionable irony or do we now see a new side to Benicio-- a Boss-lovin' rocker? The mind continues to reel!

The New York Times
reported today that NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani has released his picks of people to serve on a "decency panel" that would review art in publicly financed museums. The list of about 20 names included Giuliani's divorce lawyer, as well as the pop artist Peter Max, who pled guilty in 1997 to charges of concealing $1.1 million in income from the IRS. Others named include members of the Giuliani administration and what the Times described as "friendly clerics." The one name that was conspicuously missing from the list was that of Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro. Known for his decency and love of the arts, Del Toro was expected by many Del Toro fans to be named to the panel. Clearly Giuliani was intimidated by Del Toro's large moral compass. If you know what we mean.

The Oregonian
reported today that the Freemasons aren't as freaky and mysterious as you think. In an effort to expand membership, the Oregon Masons decided to invite the public and press to attend one of their legendary secret rituals. The Oregonian reported that it went something like this: "A cast of older men robed mainly in ankle-baring gowns and wearing make-up and fake beards recited long, philosophical lines laden with historical and Christian references, laying out in allegorical terms the essence of freemasonry." You were thinking maybe they would sacrifice a goat? There was one surprise in the evening. At the close of the ritual the Freemasons' leader ripped off his beard and turned his face triumphantly to the crowd. We swear to God--it was Benicio Del Toro.

Send all Benicio sightings to us!