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by John Grant

I have recently begun reading the New York Times . . . for the very good reason that, on his final release by the feds (well, a good 85% of him, anyway) and his discovery that perhaps less had been done for the legal fees he'd been paying me during his incarceration than might have been expected (he hideously underestimated the sheer hard grind of checking my Chase Manhattan Bank account daily and challenging them on over 7000 "Miscellaneous Account Charges" to the tune of $168,000.73 for such items as "Teller takes coffee break"), my good friend Dave Knuckle became a less good friend and threw me out of my apartment — after, let it be noted, uncovering my hidden collection of Britney Spears CDs and telling the neighbors about them to insure that I could never, ever go back.

In short, I've been reading my bedding.

But my enforcedly alfresco existence these past few days has not been without its benefits. Scales have been removed from my eyes: I have begun to realize, for example, that Buffy the Vampire Slayer does not lust after my youthful body, and may never do so — despite the wads of used notes I have been periodically mailing her ever since she erupted into my existence in 1998.

And I have been educating myself, thanks to the New York Times. Here are some recent cuttings that I'd like to pass on to you in case they escaped your attention:


Presidential Decree Declares Alfred E. Bush Son of God

Cheney Demands Percentage
Rumsfeld Blames Iraq, Later Claims Was Misquoted
Rice Jubilant: "This Proves Florida Count No Fluke"
Powell Prepares Wrists, Razor for Ultimate Sacrifice
Ashcroft's Shock Counter-Claim: "Am Little Teapot, Short and Stout"

In the greatest shockwave to impact the foreign policy of any nation since Ozymandias fell off his legs, President Alfred E. Bush today declared himself to be the Son of God, adding that in future all heretics and unbelievers will be despatched to the Flames of Hell Fire or to Leavenworth, whichever is the closer.

"I am confident that Congress would be entirely behind me on this one if I hadn't disbanded it on direct instructions from Dad — er, the Dad in the sky with the beard, I mean. My other Dad is seeking political asylum in Haiti, or anywhere. My new Mom is Britney Spears, she being the only possibly-virgin of child- bearing age I could find at short notice.

"In future, anyone who fails to address me as Alfred E. Christ will be deemed a blasphemer and sentenced to spend a FREE three-week luxury vacation in the Texas resort of your choice oops I turned the wrong page."

Reactions from leading Democrats were muted. According to Tom Daschle, "We prefer to concentrate on the economic issues."

Asked by the press to demonstrate his newly discovered deity with a few miracles, the Christ said he would, in front of witnesses, turn wine into water, a process that he added would require a few hours. His offer was hastily declined.

British premier Tony Blair has responded with enthusiasm to the announcement. "I'm sure I speak for all the British people when I say that we wish Alfie the very best, oh gosh yes." The Christ welcomed this message, as he did those from many individuals who rang the White House hotline to wish him a prompt and easy crucifixion.

Other international leaders have been more skeptical, and their countries have been accordingly nuked, as have the United Nations and Mars. "The jihad on terrorism is not yet over," warned the Savior.

Pressed by a BBC correspondent, the Messiah gave that trademark quirk of the mouth that indicates severe toothache and replied: "I am as sane as the next man."

The reference is believed to be to Sir John Ashcroft.

Late Developments:
* Pope Excommunicated
* Bush Levitates: "No Fracture," Assures Bel Air


Darwin Blamed

Cheney Proposes Chastity Surcharge
Spears Reported "Ecstatic, But Only A Bit, You Know"
Ashcroft: "Not Tonight, Josephine"

The Schools Board of Kentucky has banned sex within the state, a ban expected to be confirmed Thursday by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

"There is nothing moralistic or Puritanical in our decision," explained a Schools Board spokesman. "It is the simple fact that sex can lead to pregnancy, pregnancy to childbirth, and childbirth to — in the longer term — evolution."

Asked if homosexuality would therefore be smiled upon in Kentucky in future, the spokesman responded: "Just because both partners in a sexual act are of the same gender doesn't mean one of them can't get pregnant and thereby inadvertently contribute to the accursed blight that is evolution. It says so in the Bible."

British premier Tony Blair has responded with enthusiasm to the ban. "I'm sure I speak for all the English people when I say that we wish Alfie the very best, oh gosh yes."

Related News:
* Florida Man's Sperm Count Challenged


Galactic Federation Overtures Rebuffed by Messiah

Cheney: "Beware Of Geeks Bearing No Gifts"
Rumsfeld: "Nuke Universe!"
Powell: "No Split in Cabinet"
Ashcroft Claims: "Clinton Fathered My Love-Child"

A large flying saucer landed on the White House Lawn at 3am Tuesday morning — according to a witness who declined to be identified beyond saying that he was the Son of God — and several aliens emerged.

"They cunningly evaded all security surveillance as they walked up to and into the building," said the witness, "and went straight to the bedroom where the One Who Was Foretold was relaxedly dunking pretzels in his Bud Lite before saying a few prayers to himself and getting snuggled under his Barney the Dinosaur comforter with matching coprolite-style pink pillows.

"The alien spokesperson spoke person-to-deity with the Anointed One, and explained that the Galactic Federation insured peace, plenty and total harmony throughout all the inhabited world, with long lives and happiness for all . . . and other un- American, unpatriotic pinko liberal bulldoodoo like that.

"It soon became evident to the Chosen that the Galactic Federation doesn't know the value of a good war, and furthermore forbids its private citizens to carry nuclear-armed anti- personnel weaponry, in direct contradiction of the edicts of the NRA. There was no choice but to reject contemptuously their invitation to join the Federation.

"So I . . . or, er, rather, the Messiah . . . the Messiah told the aliens, 'Go stuff all your lefty liberal hogwash up Saturn.'"

The witness displayed that trademark quirk of the mouth which is the sole clue that he has cracked a funny, and continued.

"They went, and the next thing the Christ knew was that it was morning, his six-pack of Bud Lite was unaccountably finished, and he had a splitting headache.

"Thank you, Christ, for having saved the Universe!"

British premier Tony Blair has responded with enthusiasm to the news. "I'm sure I speak for all Londoners when I say that we wish Alfie the very best, oh gosh yes."


Ashcroft Steps In

British premier Tony Blair has responded with enthusiasm to the splash headlines. "I'm sure I speak for everyone in Downing Street when I say that we wish Alfie the very best, oh gosh yes."


Redundant Employees And Bankrupted Shareholders Jailed

Cheney Declares Triumph For American Way Of Justice
Ashcroft Urged To Make Clean Breast; Swiftly Covers Up
Judge Buys Hawaii As "Retirement Home"

Judge C. "Kid" Hecney has declared the entire board of Halliburton entirely blameless of professional misconduct, thus effectively silencing all those critics who had commented adversely on such unorthodox business practices as:

* Selling off a division and then declaring that all the division's employees had "resigned", so that the company could simply purloin those employees' pension fund; * Changing its own rules of employment so that when its CEO, one Richard Cheney, resigned he could be given a multi-million-dollar golden handshake.

"I made my ruling as a result of a direct decree from the Oval Office," explained the feisty Judge Hecney. "The Christ told me he'd had it direct from his dad, who as we all know is God Almighty himself, so it must be absolutely fair and true."

Questioned further, the rejoicing "Kid" Hecney stressed, mid- starlet, "It is not true to say that I was put under any undue or illicit pressure. As our beloved Vice President said to me himself, the dead cat in the biriani was all a dreadful mistake, and I didn't like my wife and kids anyway."

British premier Tony Blair has responded with enthusiasm to the judgement. "I'm sure I speak for Cheri and myself when I say that we wish Alfie the very best, oh gosh yes."


Cockroach Infiltrators Seized

Cheney Visits Scene, Appropriates Tips Jar "For National Good"
Chanteuse Pouts
Rumsfeld Moves to Nuke Manhattan
Messiah Moves Lips In Trademark Quirk, Fails To Blow Gum At Same Time
Ex-Customer Powell Moves Hastily
Ashcroft: "Here's My Pout"

Tipped off by the CIA, agents of the FBI tonight raided Britney Spears's newly opened food'n'fun emporium, the up-scale Manhattan restaurant Put Down That Meat Cleavage. In the process, they terminated with extreme prejudice 414 patrons in what was described as "regrettable collateral damage", and arrested long- time fugitive D. Knuckle, who is currently being disintegrated in search of further information concerning a sinister plot by Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein to disseminate the potentially lethal salmonella virus on a widespread scale throughout the continental USA.

Also seized were seventeen million cockroaches, themselves fleeing from the restaurant's patented All-Britney karaoke machine. The bugs are proving more cooperative in helping the authorities. "Salmonella's not too bad, actually," said a spokesroach through its lawyer, "although it leaves a bitter aftertaste. We are eternally grateful to the emissaries of this great nation for liberating us from the oppression of the brutal tyrant's karaoke machine, which had already slaughtered us by the million, and we will give any information the FBI tells us to give — including that Sir John Ashcroft is, in our opinion, perfectly sane."

The Messiah has been quick to act in vengeance for this thwarted attack, and already B-51 bombers loaded to the gills with Britney CDs, Britney posters, lifesize Britney inflatable action figures, remaindered copies of Britney's novel, and Donald Rumsfeld's ego are on their way to blitz Baghdad. "We'll show those naive European lefties what's who," pronounced God Incarnate. "Just read my hips."

British premier Tony Blair has responded with enthusiasm to the closure. "I'm sure I speak for me and my dog when I say that we wish Alfie the very best, oh gosh yes."

Latest news:
* Baghdad Succumbs To "Britney Fever"; Millions Suicide


Cites "Incessant Bickering Over Who Is Bigger Teapot"

Related news:
* Tony Blair's Dog Flees Family Home


It was the Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu who wrote: "Once upon a time I dreamed that I was a butterfly, flying happily about. It did not know that it was Chuang Tzu. Suddenly I awoke . . . I did not know whether I was Chuang Tzu dreaming that I was a butterfly or whether I was a butterfly dreaming that I was Chuang Tzu."

These words were much in my mind as I awoke on that cold bench in Central Park, realizing that I must have been dreaming that entire issue of the New York Times. It was a refreshing relief to be back in mundane reality, where such insanities could not rule our nation.

Humdrum and boring our world might be, but at least it's better than that, I mused, breathing the chill night air and observing from the corner of my eye the silhouette of a pig crossing the whining disk of the full moon . . .

The End