If you've noticed that your personal life is going crazy, join the club! Portlanders have been reporting that work-related stress is skyrocketing, weird violent behavior has tripled, and almost three-quarters of the Mercury staff has either broken up with or is experiencing severe problems with their significant others. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? To get to the bottom of this conundrum, we consulted a prominent Portland astrologist, and according to her, MERCURY IS IN RETROGRADE--the planet, not the trashy tabloid. In a nutshell, that means problems and situations that have previously been held back are finally moving forward, and change is in the air! Need further proof? READ ON.

KIDS ARE BUILDING EXPLOSIVES. KOIN 6 news reports that local children have put down the Thai-stick and are building dry ice bombs, which are being exploded in Gresham and other redneck areas. Gresham fire department spokesman Greg Matthews offers this cryptic message: "[Dry ice bombs] are explosive. You can lose a body part, you can lose a finger, you could lose some flesh." But what if that's exactly what they're intending to do? Perhaps the children of Gresham are involved in a secret scientific experiment to reanimate dismembered human flesh! After all MERCURY IS IN RETROGRADE!

JOHN CUSACK IS DOGGING NEVE CAMPBELL! Hunky heartthrob John Cusack (who is currently supposed to be seeing Neve Campbell) was seen open-canoodling with tawny Philadelphia Charge soccer star, Heather Mitts, at a midtown Manhattan club this evening. Witnesses claim to have witnessed John leaning in for a smooch which was forcefully rebuffed by Mitts who is currently hot and heavy with the Philadelphia Phillies' Pat Burrell. Sorry, John! These days it takes more than kickboxing to impress us ladies!

Need more proof of Mercury (again, the planet, not us) gumming up the works? According to New York Post's "Page Six," a normally taste-free audience of Parisian concert-goers went apeshit recently at an Oasis performance and pelted band member Liam Gallagher with tomatoes. Meanwhile, back in L.A., Titanic star Leonardo DiCaprio was seen inhaling a pastrami reuben at Canter's Deli and looking "paunchy." See? Even his own stomach has turned against him! But prepare to have your freaking mind blown away as you read the next news tidbit. Still reeling from a friend's serious bicycle accident, actor/pothead Woody Harrelson has stopped smoking dope--at least for a few days. In an interview with Premiere magazine, the former bong-huffer confessed, "I usually like to walk around in a perpetual fog, but I've been so shaken up lately that I can't even bring myself to smoke weed." And then, driving the final nail into the coffin, Harrelson lamented, "It's been FOUR DAYS since I burned one."

Remember when the Blazers dumped Coach Mike Dunleavy (thanks, Mr. Mercury Retrograde) back in May? Well, they've found a replacement and one that doesn't talk back! Say hello to former Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Maurice Cheeks. Though he may not have much coaching experience, he's much quieter than Dunleavy (who was well-known for his argumentative nature), and Cheeks has made a solemn promise that you won't hear a peep out of him! "I'm not here to be in the spotlight," he whispered. "I have a team to run, and the players are the ones who are most important." Ohhh-kay, Cheeks. But do you think you'll show up for any of the games? MEANWHILE! Mercury continues to wreak havoc on an emotionally unstable Hollywood. Not only did dreamy, synthetic boy band, O-Town, dump longtime manager Lou Pearlman (who has also been dumped by 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys), but now it even seems like O.J. Simpson can't get any respect! The former Hertz spokesperson (and we think he may have killed someone, too, right?) was seen with a harem of strippers in a West Palm Beach restaurant cutting his steak with a butter knife 'cause the management didn't want to give him a steak knife! Ohhh, Mercury! You are too cruel!


Oh, God! When will the planetary carnage end? According to the Daily News, another Hollywood romance has hit the skids. This time it's starlet Julia Roberts and longtime bohunk and former Law & Order star Benjamin Bratt. As for the reasons behind the break-up, the once-happy couple is keeping all lips zipped. However, the New York Post speculated that she gave Benjamin the heave-ho because of rumored canoodling with current Ocean's Eleven castmate George Clooney. When confronted by Access Hollywood about the rumor, Clooney denied the charges, stating, "I didn't have time. I was too busy breaking up Tom and Nicole's marriage." George you are a goddamned MONSTER! And speaking of monstrous behavior, somebody needs to talk to Neve Campbell because John Cusack is a DOG! After his aborted affair with soccer star Heather Mitts on Monday, John was on the prowl again; this time seen in maximum canoodle-osity with Jerry Seinfeld's ex-gal pal, Shoshanna Lonstein! Hey John! If that doesn't work out, we hear Benjamin Bratt's looking for a good time!

Planetary destabilization nearly toppled global capitalism today when a "worker goof" shut down the NASDAQ for two hours. Officials blamed the error on an MCI World Com technician, who is said to have caused the glitch during a routine testing of a development system. Coworkers of the technician revealed privately that she had been disconsolate for days after being unceremoniously dumped by John Cusack.

Mercury hysteria reached a fever pitch today when the U.S. House of Representatives passed a proposal to prohibit the use of mercury in fever thermometers, thermostats, and novelty items. The bill will now head to the Senate floor, where it is expected to pass. In international news, there is a movement, led by the French, to ban the use of the word "mercury" in all world languages. The powerful planetarium lobby and one Portland, Oregon humor tabloid are fighting this proposal. However, it is expected to pass in each country anyway. In a related event, several mercury supporters were stoned to death today in the Gaza Strip.

Today, the entire country--giddy with mercury-in-retrograde madness--convinced itself that Vice President Dick Cheney was one hundred percent healthy and out of danger of heart trouble. "Cheney 'Terrific' After Heart Procedure," read the headline in The Oregonian. "We love Dick!" chanted a group of young Republicans gathered outside of George Washington University Medical Center. Cheney, who is rumored to be now entirely bionic, will return to work Monday. He was released from the hospital yesterday and taken back to his residence by his wife, gay daughter, and her new boyfriend, John Cusack.

Everybody relax, Mercury is no longer in "retrograde" and is now "direct." Phew!!