Tabloid talk 

It’s always been my dream job to work for the Weekly World News, or one of those other flashy, trashy supermarket tabloids that treats stories about aliens landing in Hoboken with as much respect as it affords to real news, such as Elvis sightings and 900-pound people getting trapped in their houses during floods and having to be airlifted to safety by several National Guard helicopters.

Those papers get all the good tips, I swear — people must phone in to the WWN while they’re actually in the middle of being abducted by Bigfoot ("Uh, sure, I can put Mr. Foot on the line — hang on").

I guess all of us working at other papers were too busy making calls to our brokers ("Buy California citrus futures! Now!") or tossing our bets into the celebrity death pool ("I’ll put five bucks on Liz Taylor") to answer our phones.

In any case, the Metro Times might be called a tabloid, but it’s not one of those tabloids. More’s the pity, at least when the new year rolls around. Because now’s the time when, instead of looking back at everything that already happened in the past 12 months, the supermarket papers get to make all kinds of speculations about the coming year, with the help of false-eyelashed, pancake made-upped psychics no less. Talk about a broadcast medium.

Anyway, since I’m still waiting for that abducted accountant to call back from planet Alfa Romeo, I’m forced instead to channel the spirit of the Lizard of Fun (who first appeared to me on New Year’s Eve 1992, at a journalism conference that actually listed "recreational drinking" on its agenda), to make some predictions for the year ahead.

Now, considering 1998 whupped ass on just about every predictability front (not even the Lizard of Fun could’ve foreseen Williegate, although it swears it wasn’t surprised, either), I’m not promising that any of these predictions for 1999 will come true (and they’re not likely to get me a job at the WWN, either). But in these chaotic times, just having something to believe in, or look forward to, is sometimes enough.

January: Lizard of Fun, being the fun-loving lizard it is, predicts a massive snowfall sometime around the middle of the month. The area affected includes most of the Midwest, and stretches south as far as Florida. Snowboarding is declared the official national sport after Chelsea Clinton is caught smoking dope with Olympic champion snowboarder Ross Rebagliati.

February: La Niña takes a back seat to entertainment, when a secret cache of circa 1955 Elvis recordings is unearthed from a time capsule put together by a fifth-grade class in Tupelo, MS. Included are some early versions of later classics, such as "You Ain’t Nothing But a Watch Dog" and "Blue Canvas Sneakers." Radio listeners are forced to endure these off-key renderings in the name of history revived. Members of the class that put together the time capsule make a public apology.

March: Following yet another American attack on Iraq, members of a terrorist organization calling themselves "Enough, Already" kidnap President Clinton (who still manages to stay in office) and hold him hostage until he promises to keep his rockets in his pocket once and for all.

April: On the local scene, there’s a big kafuffle when it’s discovered that a forgotten amendment to a City Council ruling states that the Hudson’s building must be left intact for future generations to enjoy. The mayor’s office issues a statement: Whoops.

May: Yo-yos are surpassed by boomerangs as the toy of choice for the season ("Look ma, no strings and it still comes back!"). Even adults get in on the madness with mega-sized models. Several lawsuits are launched when boomerangs that are guaranteed to return are intercepted by U.S. military aircraft, although the Lizard of Fun isn’t entirely sure whether this will interfere with the rescue of the still-held-hostage president.

June: The president is rescued, but by this point nobody cares. In an apathy-fueled coup, the Lizard of Fun takes over the country as acting president in charge of absolutely everything. Fun ratings soar to an unpredictable high.

July: La Niña rears her chilly head again, this time with a record snowfall that buries most of Michigan under a foot of white stuff. The Environmental Protection Agency plans a further investigation into the impact of pollution on global warming, but is stalled when freezing rain destroys its phone lines.

August: Comerica Park, the new stadium in downtown Detroit, opens ahead of schedule. An electrical malfunction in the scoreboard causes a power outage that closes the park until next season.

September: The Lizard of Fun is ousted from office by an independent counsel investigation that shows, without a doubt, that it was having Too Much Fun.

October: Gas prices plummet to 25 cents a gallon. Car prices, however, skyrocket as Ford and General Motors negotiate a merger.

November: Election predictions are thrown off when, in a fit of civic responsibility, more than 98 percent of eligible voters actually turn out to cast their ballots. Reporters scramble to contact winning write-in candidates such as Mickey Mouse, Darth Vader and Monica Lewinsky.

December: New Year’s Eve 2000. Absolutely nothing of note happens. The Lizard of Fun sulks the whole evening, listening to Billie Holiday records and planning global domination for the next millennium.

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