Technically speaking, the odds were just one in 300 that it'll actually hit the planet--and it's not due to smack us until March 16, 2880. But that's close enough for us to announce that we're now living in the End Times.
Sure, we've heard that Armageddon song and dance before. We've heard it from religious nuts who carry signs promising judgment day is near. We've heard it from scientist who fear we lack the responsibility to handle the awesome power of the atom. We've heard it from the mainstream media, who told us all computation would come a screeching halt as of midnight Y2K. And yet, we're still here.
But all the signs point to this being the real thing. How else do you explain a world where the UA football coach lets a tear slip while promising to be more sensitive? Where a goose terrifies golfers on the seventh hole at a tony resort? Where Ted Williams ends up frozen in a tank in Scottsdale?
Here again, with heartfelt apologies to old gang at Esquire, is TW's own semi-local Dubious Achievements of 2002: A MAN WITH HIS PRIORITIES STRAIGHT
"Through his decades with the Times, Mr. Wilson remained a free-lance. He said he turned down offers of a staff position because it would mean having to attend meetings." --from obit for John S. Wilson, New York Times jazz critic
AND THOSE PLANS FOR GOING TO A STRIP JOINT, SMOKING A BONE AND PANTSING EACH OTHER ARE DEFINITELY OUT
A group of Tucson cops joined a lawsuit seeking pager pay for being on call while off-duty. The President of the Police Officers Association complained that guidelines governing on-call behavior are too restrictive. Explained Richard Anemone, "They can't go out of town; they can't go out drinking. "
BUT, LIKE, WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU SPEND THAT MONEY ON, EDUCATION?
The UA football team made national news when a group of 41 players demanded the resignation of head coach John Mackovic, claiming he was an abusive jerk. Mackovic has won only three conference games in two seasons. His salary is $800,000 a year.
DON'T YOU HATE IT WHEN BEATINGS GO WRONG?
"A local handyman [was] killed by a mob of young people during a neighborhood beating that went horribly wrong," wrote Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel columnist Eugene Cain.
HTTING THE GROUND MIGHT'VE HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT
A California Earth First! member staging his first protest tree-sit died of injuries sustained when he tumbled more than 50 feet from his chosen branch. The Associated Press reported that the county coroner had not yet determined the cause of death.
AND THEN THE DOG ROPED POOR OLD MURRAY TO THE BUMPER AND DRANK SOME SCHLITZ
A Minnesota hunter was shot by his dog. Michael Murray was taking pictures of the seven birds his friend had bagged when his dog, Sunny, stepped on his 12-gauge shotgun and fired it, hitting Murray in the ankle.
MAYBE WE COULD MAKE THIS HIDING THING PERMANENT
Although he received no specific threat, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup went into hiding on September 11, the anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, where he remained under police guard until the threat that didn't exist passed.
HE'S GOT A LAPTOP UNDER THOSE ROBES
The mission San Xaxier del Bac has an e-mail account for St. Francis of Assisi, who died in the 13th century, allowing Catholics to send him prayers and special requests. A popular carved-wood replica of the saint lies in state inside the mission.
HEY, BUDDY. THIS IS LOOT COUNTRY...ER, WE MEAN LUTE.
The thousands of UA students who lined up outside McKale Center to buy basketball tickets turned into a shoving, cussing, soda-can-throwing mob before police dispersed them. Several were injured. "It was pretty sick," said UA junior Michael Gidaly. "All that pushing and screaming just to get a ticket. That's just insane."
IT'S ABOUT TIME SOMEBODY TOOK A STAND ON THIS GROCERY STORE NIGHTMARE
A grocery checkout clerk was arrested on charges of beating a customer who brought 13 items through a 12-item checkout lane. Karen Morgan allegedly punched and kicked a 51 year-old customer outside the market basket in Lowell, Mass., then went after the victim again as she walked home. "She got out of the car and commenced a weapon on me," the victim said.
AFTER DARK, MY SWEET TOOTH
Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio claimed to uncover an assassination plot against Jane Dee Hull and arrested three men, including a 65-year-old jail chaplain from Mesa. The men planned to grab the ransom money and bury Hull's body in the desert.
The ringleader of the plot, 78-year-old Navy veteran Donald Cochran, also threatened eight years ago to kill then-Attorney General Grant Woods unless he was given $500,000, 20 Baby Ruth candy bars, five giant bags of plain M&Ms and crossword puzzle books.
IVY LEAGUE DROPOUTS
After two students fell out of their bunk beds at Princeton University, the director of undergraduate housing sent a mass e-mail to residents at the elite college reminding them to use safety railings. The message prompted widespread guffaws. "I felt like by the time you get to college you should be able to use a bed," said junior Ari Samsky.
A CRY FOR COUNSELING
Angry at his father's request that he move out of his parents trailer in Three Points, 28-year-old Aaron Jackson allegedly beat up his father, threw him to the ground and poured transmission fluid on him. Investigators said Jackson then set fire to the trailer with his mother still inside.
MORE LIKE THE MISSING LINK
A 40-year-old Tonbridge, England man who tape-recorded himself strangling his wife, shouted, "You are the weakest link, goodbye!" while committing the deed. Anne Robinson, host of the game show The Weakest Link, uses that line to send off failed contestants.
THE WRITER MUST'VE BEEN SHELLED
"Roasted nuts!"--headline on story in the Trentonian (New Jersey) newspaper about a fire in a mental hospital.
IT'S LIKE THE OLD-FASHIONED WELCOME WAGON EXCEPT EVERYBODY'S NAKED
After buying 500 condoms at a bulk discount, residence hall officials put them in gift baskets, alongside blue books, note cards and snack foods for distribution to dorm students prior to finals.
BE OF GOOD CHEER
The nickname of the hockey team at the Rhode Island School of Design is the Nads. During games, fans cheer, "Go Nads!! Go, Nads!!"
UNDER THE GUN
Police discovered a cross-border drug tunnel in Nogales running right underneath a U.S. Customs parking lot. The tunnel's existence was discovered after a rain caused a portion of it to collapse.
Scientists at the Royal College of Art in London developed a phone that can be implanted inside a human tooth. The device is equipped with a radar receiver that sends a ringing signal along the jawbone to the person's ear.
DUBYA WASN'T WAVING. HE WAS SIGNING.
Anne Robinson, host of the quiz show The Weakest Link, criticized the intellect of Americans, including the president. "I saw George Bush at a benefit concert actually waiting to Stevie Wonder," said Robinson.
THEN AGAIN, YOU COULD ARREST JOE ARPAIO ON THE SAME CHARGES
Maricopa County sheriff's deputies arrested Nick Tarr, an actor who portrayed Joe Arizona, the public face of the political campaign to win the right to have slot machines at racetracks, for impersonating a state trooper. Tarr was wearing pink boxer shorts, a U.S. Forest Service shirt and a Smokey Bear hat on Halloween.
AIRLINE FOOD STRIKES AGAIN
When his son pushed wheelchair-bound James Mark Walsh off his America West plane into the Des Moines airport, the flight crew thought Walsh looked "kind of stiff." Actually he was dead. Walsh's sister, a registered nurse who met his plane, made the discovery.
"We're very satisfied that the passenger was alive when he boarded our aircraft," said America West spokesman Patty Nowack. "We never would've allowed a passenger who'd passed away to board our aircraft."
FORMER POW GOES MIA
Republican Senator John McCain missed a Senate vote on a $355 billion defense spending bill because he was in rehearsal to host Saturday Night Live. The Arizona Republic reported that McCain was a Senate leader in blowing off votes.
GUYS GONE WILD
Members of four ASU fraternities, including a student body vice-president, came under investigation by the universities after they participated with porn stars in Shane's World #29: Frat Row Scavenger Hunt 3 after the film's producer arrived unannounced on campus in a Hummer limousine.
"There will be an ongoing investigation into any individuals involved," Virgil Renzulli, ASU vice president of public affairs, told the Arizona Republic. "It's inappropriate for fraternities to permit these kind of things. You can party, but this goes beyond that."
An America West passenger was booted off a San Francisco to Tucson flight for jokingly asking the flight crew if the pilots were sober. The action came only a week after two America West pilots were pulled off a Phoenix-bound jet for allegedly being drunk in the cockpit.
Teacher Peter A. Wolf was temporarily suspended from his job at Baboquivari High School in Sells after Tucson police mistakenly charged him with two felony drug counts. The cops intended to target another Peter Wolf. "I became extremely upset and outraged trying to find out what happened," said the teacher.
SILENCE OF THE LAMB
After suffering widespread criticism of her political views, including saying that both the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington and the American response in Afghanistan were terrorist acts, Tucson author Barbara Kingsolver told the Arizona Republic that she was no longer giving interviews and would only answer non-personal questions in writing.
SOUNDS LIKE A GUY WHO NEEDS TO GET HOOKED UP WITH THAT CLEAN ELECTIONS PROGRAM
Reform Party gubernatorial hopeful Scott Malcomson was cited for violating a city ban on roadside soliciting after he stood on a midtown street corner with a sign labeled "Hit a Politician with a Pie $10."
"I've got to be creative, you know," Malcomson told the Tucson Citizen. "It' the only thing I've got going for me."
Malcomson didn't make the 2002 ballot.
A white goose began terrorizing golfers at Scottsdale's Coronado Golf Course, including one woman who was treated by firefighters after being bitten on the thigh.
"We can't have this goose attacking our customers," said Connie Adams, manager of the course, who announced plans to relocate the bird.
Rep. James Kraft of Phoenix had to apologize after he lied about plans to attend the Super Bowl as a guest of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, whom the lawmaker claimed was a cousin.
"I will not dwell on this," said Kraft in a letter to former legislators.
In the following days, Arizona Republic reporters revealed that despite a vast collection of Krafy memorabilia, Kraft's claims to be a bigwig in the Kraft Foods family (he had handed out boxes of macaroni and cheese during his campaigns) appeared sketchy as well.
WHERE DO WE SIGN UP FOR THIS JOB?
Hoping to hush up a harassment allegation against administrator Paul Felix a TUSD clerk was quietly paid to stay home for eight months, drawing $17,000 of taxpayer money for doing nothing.
OH, FOR GOD'S SAKE
Christ Community Church of Alamogordo, N.M., burned a pile of Harry Potter books described by a church official as "a masterpiece of satanic deception."
"These books teach children how they can get into witchcraft and become a witch, wizard or warlock," said Jack Brock, the church's founder and pastor.
THAT'S A LOT OF HAPPY MEALS
Former professional tennis player Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, seeking child support from former husband Kirk Kerkorian, said she needed $350,000 per month to keep their 3-year-old little girl, Kira, living in the style to which she is accustomed. Kira's monthly expenses included $144,000 for travel, $14,000 for parties and play dates, $7,000 for charity, $4,300 for food, plus $5,900 to eat out, $2,500 for movies, theaters and outings, and $1,400 for laundry and cleaning.
STUCK ON JUSTICE
Mark Adam Younglove, a fugitive on an allegation of molesting children in Chandler, Ariz., was found beaten into a coma and impaled on a cactus in Mexico. Pamela Calimeri, who told the Arizona Republic that her daughter was one of his victims, described her reaction as "basically ecstatic. I do feel sad for being happy about it," she said.
'TIS THE SEASON...TO BUST ROCKS
Tony and Anjelica Flores, a Peoria, Ariz. couple, were handcuffed and tossed in jail for keeping their Christmas lights up until April, a violation of city code.
Former UA guard Damon Stoudamire, now with the NBA's Portland Trailblazers, pled guilty to felony marijuana possession. Police were responding to a burglar alarm at his posh Lake Oswego, outside Portland, when they found the drugs.
GONE WITH THE WINDBAG
"Next to all the things I've done in my life, this is the best. It's like an epic." --Two-time mayoral candidate Jim Anderson, describing his reaction to appearing on the People's Court TV show. Anderson had been sued by Marcy Morgan, who claimed she was forced down and branded with a hot iron at Andersen's downtown bar. Judge Marilyn Milian dismissed the suit and called Anderson a loser.
HEY 'DERE, DOLL, WHAT CAN WE GET FOR YEZ?
The Seattle Times reported that two men who robbed a Monroe, Washington Starbucks were so dissatisfied with the contents of the store safe that they worked the drive-up window for an hour, pocketing that cash, too.
HUB FANS BID KID ADIEU...MAYBE NOT
"The Big Chill"--New York Post headline on a story about Ted Williams' body being sent to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, a cryonics company that freezes corpses in the hope of bringing them to life later.
A REAL CUT-UP
Cantor Samuel Greenbaum was arrested for DUI while on his way to perform a circumcision in Detroit.
A police dog named Scooby chased a man who stole a pack of cigarettes from a Pinella County, Fla. liquor store and bit his penis off. Doctors reattached the organ at a nearby hospital.
OK, THIS BRINGS US DOWN TO FOUR COMMANDMENTS WORTH KEEPING
The Catholic Diocese of Tucson reached an out-of-court settlement, estimated at up to $16 million, with 10 men who alleged had been abused by Catholic priests.
Throughout the scandal, officials of the diocese intimidated whistle blowers; tried to seal court documents; blamed horrible acts on dead bishops and priests; obstructed police investigations; claimed not to understand the nature of child abuse; attempted to hide assets; failed to report credible abuse allegations; in the case of Bishop Manuel Moreno, gave false statements under oath, requiring corrections later; and claimed insufficient evidence to support charges that Fr. Robert Trupia, nicknamed "chicken hawk" by other priests for his known dalliances with young males, was "doing anything other than sleeping" when he brought boys into his bed overnight.
PUT A QUARTER IN FRED AND LET THE HILARITY BEGIN
Former KVOA-TV newsman Fred Allison, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Tucson, provided endless entertainment as he attempted to explain the actions of Diocesan leaders and personnel in the sex abuse scandal that roiled the church.
Sample: "The Diocese is doing its best ... to provide a settlement in moral and spiritual terms."
IT'S WHAT WE DO
Citing evidence of flooding on Mars discovered by UA graduate student Devon Burr and planetary scientist Alfred McEwen, the tabloid Weekly World News reported that Noah's ark had been found on the red planet. "I was very impressed at their ability to completely misrepresent the situation without actually lying," said Burr.
COME AND GET ME, COPPERS... HELLO?...ARE YOU OUT THERE?
Scott A. Kline, one of Pima County's most wanted fugitives, tried to turn himself in to authorities on marijuana charges, but no one at the federal prison on Wilmot Road in Tucson would take him in. He'd made telephone arrangements to meet U.S. Marshals at the prison, but they failed to show up.
WHAT A GUY
Amid one of the worst budget crunches in state history, UA president Peter Likins got a 46 percent raise, increasing his total compensation to $468,394. Likins said he would accept to raise because he was unwilling to let the UA president's pay fall far behind ASU's.