The trouble with
Valentine's Day

By John Breneman

Sometimes, Jay mused to himself as he scanned the sports page on a blustery mid-February morning, life just isn't fair.

Here it was, almost Valentine's Day, and he was feeling more than a bit lonely and depressed that all his relationships had basically failed, even the ones he'd truly hoped would last.

Sure, plenty of people have worse problems. But he wondered why he couldn't seem to find someone who is gorgeous and brilliant, funny and athletic, wholesome and sensual?

Someone who likes to curl up with the Sunday paper and coffee. Someone to share life's trials, tribulations, and triumphs. Someone who would rather make passionate love than read about it in Cosmo. Someone without a criminal record, or an ill-tempered German shepherd named Cupid.

Just last night, he'd met a nice woman at "Loserz," the nightclub he often visited for Rolling Rock and rejection. He offered up one of his best lines -- "Hi, live around here often?" -- and asked her to dance. But, of course, she shot him down.

Later, while the surgeon was removing a .38-caliber slug from his right shoulder, Jay couldn't help feeling a little bummed. Still, he was proud that he only missed half a day of work, despite a persistent tingling sensation in his middle finger.

Sitting at his boring desk in the boring insurance company he'd slaved for since dropping out of college, Jay tugged at his tie, which always seemed a bit too tight, and drifted off into a depressing daydream about the women he'd dated, and what went wrong...

There was Svetlana, whose parents named her after an obscure Russian gymnast. But Sweaty, as he affectionately called her, defected to the Commonwealth of Independent States to free herself from parental oppression.

There was Desiree. She was perfect, and she seemed to love him. Unfortunately, she was much too beautiful for Jay, who spent much of his time worrying about losing her to someone more handsome, athletic, and masculine. Then one Thursday she announced she was leaving him for a chain-smoking lung cancer research technician named Gladys.

Oh and Penelope, the free-spirited astrology buff (a Gemini) who believed in Santa Claus (swore he was a Leo) and wore a garlic pendant to ward off disease, misery, pestilence and her evil twin sister Chakra. Penny died tragically one morning, crushed by a wayward bungee jumper after forgetting to read her horoscope.

Sandy loved nature, long walks on the beach, picnics and entomology, but she ended up joining the Peace Corps to work on an ant farm somewhere near Botswana.

Something jolted Jay back to reality just as he was spilling some hot coffee onto his lap.

"Celtics lose again," said the sports page. Yeah, but at least they have wives and girlfriends, he grumbled, and they make big money just for playing basketball. Jay began to think he should start reading Cosmo instead of the sports page.

He looked up and was startled to see Melissa, the attractive new account executive, standing in front of his desk. She smiled.

After spilling some more coffee onto his lap, Jay popped two Certs into his mouth and let the invigorating retsin take over. Melissa agreed to join him for dinner that evening.

Later, as they sat at a quiet table stirring their drinks, things really seemed to be going well. Melissa was articulate and sensitive, and came from a nice functional family.

"Hey," she whispered, leaning across the table with a strange gleam in her eye, "did I ever tell you about my ex-boyfriend Ludwig, the psychotic rock-opera composer and Vietnam vet who did time for napalming a guy that asked me out to dinner?"

Note: Adult situations, nudity and language unsuitable for a family Web site have been painstakingly edited from this story.

'Friends' cameo may boost president's approval rating

By John Breneman

Convinced that TV can reverse his sagging approval rating, President Bush's handlers have arranged for Sunday's unusual appearance on "Meet the Press" to be followed this Thursday by a surprise cameo on "Friends."

Eager to help the amiable chief executive, Ross uses his scientific knowledge to offer theories on what became of the weapons of mass destruction while Chandler quips that Saddam Hussein either flushed them down the toilet during a U.S. raid or "his dog ate them."

Bush's approval mark dipped to 48 percent this week as more people realized they don't appreciate it when their president tells them something as "fact" (Iraq's possession of weapons) that is actually a "load of crap."

The president, also dogged by his sketchy record of service in the National Guard, could gain a 7-8 percent bump in the polls if he did a guest spot on "JAG" outfitted in, say, a military flightsuit. This idea from his chief TV adviser was one of several detailed in a confidential memo obtained by the Humor Gazette.

Bush has been asked to appear on "Hardball with Chris Matthews," but the memo advises he is better suited to "Softball with Larry King." The president will avoid "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" in favor of some voter-friendly mugging on "This Week With George Foreman." The memo also reveals Bush ordered his aides not to book him on "Face the Damn Nation."

White House advisers even strategized about a reality show but agreed they didn't want Bush anywhere near Donald Trump. Discussions of a new program called "Joe President," in which a failed businessman from a prominent political family ruins the U.S. economy and turns much of the world against America, were quickly scuttled.

Grain Expectations

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