2003: Year In Preview

Fake News written by James Baughn on Tuesday, December 31, 2002

from the peering-into-the-future-and-getting-eyestrain dept.

Sure, we could follow tradition by putting together a retrospective of the previous year. But with all of the business scandals, the weak economy, Martha Stewart, the Sept. 11th anniversary, the utter collapse of the Rams and Cardinals, the bizarre success of "Survivor" and "The Osbournes", and the growing threat of war with Iraq and North Korea, there's not a whole lot of positive things to be said about 2002.

Instead, it's far more comforting to look to the future. With the help of a psychic, we have compiled the following timeline of events that will occur in 2003. [Editor's Note: The fact that we're still running this low-budget humor website is a clear indication that we did NOT win the Powerball, which is a very good signal that this "psychic" is anything but.]

January 8 - Whitewater resident Curtis "Cur" Mudgeon calms fears of neighbors by promising to take down his Christmas lights and yard decorations "real soon now". Last year, Cur didn't take down lights until July 4th.

January 15 - Stock prices of AT&T drop 25% after word leaks that auditors discovered "accounting irregularities" at the company; the most egregious problem found was $100 of petty cash that was unaccounted for.

January 16 - A report on page 16C of the Washington Times discovers that the Federal Department of Education "accidentally misplaced" $5.4 billion, most of which is now irretrievably lost. Nobody cares.

January 24 - Surprise snowstorm dumps 6-8 inches of snow in Cape Girardeau; however, snow comes late Friday evening and melts Sunday afternoon, preventing any school closings, much to the disappointment of students hoping to escape doing homework for an extra day or two.

January 29 - In a stroke of strategery genius, the Bush Administration secretly leaks documents to North Korea and Iraq supposedly describing how to build nuclear missiles with 50% less weapons-grade plutonium. North Korean and Iraqi spies believe they are purchasing these documents from al-Qaida spies; little do they suspect that the documents have been planted by US operatives.

January 31 - Medical community stunned by a new study that argues that hormone replacement therapy in older women provides health benefits that far outweigh the risks, contrary to studies from 2002. Study authors recommend "all older women receive therapy" to reduce risk of Alzheimers, osteoporosis, stroke, and several other health problems.

February 8 - Chicago newspaper reports that, for several years, Illinois Turnpike Authority provided kickbacks to state troopers who enforced speed traps and erected roadblocks on free roads running near toll roads in order to increase business on turnpikes. Word of the scandal dampens discussion in the Missouri General Assembly about authorizing toll roads here; one senator says, "The biggest problem we face is the lack of accountability of MoDOT. We're not going to solve that problem by creating a toll road authority that is even more unaccountable and bloated -- just look at Illinois!"

Februrary 13 - Curtis Mudgeon of Whitewater still hasn't dismantled Christmas Nativity scene in his front yard along with 23,000 Christmas lights on house. "I'll get to it eventually," he says.

February 27 - Arguing that public education should begin as soon as possible and that "pre-school is simply too late", Gov. Bob "One Term" Holden announces "in-womb education" program to begin providing lessons and activities to fetuses. Motivated by one study that claims babies can "learn algebra by the third trimester", parents begin lining up to participate in the program. The study, however, is quickly discredited, but that doesn't stop parents from demanding $140.2 million in state aid to continue funding the program for the next year.

March 2 - New study counters previously published study about risk of women's hormone replacement therapy; threat of cancer and heart attacks so great from therapy that one author of study exclaims, "It's a wonder millions of women haven't already dropped dead!"

March 18 - While restarting its nuclear power plant, North Korea experiences "an unwanted fission surplus" causing a meltdown; conveniently, weather patterns send radioactive cloud directly to capital city Pyongyang.

March 19 - Unfazed by North Korean meltdown, Iraqi scientists proceed according to plan and assemble first nuclear missile using techniques described in planted US document. It blows up in their faces, literally.

March 20 - President Bush issues terse statement to both North Korea and Iraq, saying only, "You asked for it". To other aspiring rogue nations, Bush warns, "You could be the next to suffer a horrible nuclear accident of your own making."

March 30 - City council gives preliminary approval to rename Cherokee Park for Kiwanis Club in exchange for boatload of money.

March 31 - Verizon Wireless offers even bigger boatload of money -- $3.3 million -- if Cape will rename park after company and agree to installation of new cell phone tower within park. Council quickly approves plan, with one member saying, "All hail crass commercialism!"

April 4 - Brand new study argues that benefits and risks of hormone replacment therapy are about equal for older women, contrary to all previously released studies. Spokesperson for AARP demands, "Well, make up your damn minds already!" In other medical news, scientists announce that fiber is bad for you, Vitamin E can cause headaches, and eating potato chips can reduce the risk of hearing loss.

April 9 - Angry residents of Whitewater present petition to village board demanding resolution requiring Curtis "Cur" Mudgeon to stop procrastinating and "take down his [expletive] Christmas decorations already". Display of 23,000 lights, which Cur leaves on during the night, recently mistaken by airline pilot for runway lights, nearly causing catastrophe.

April 11 - Succumbing to angry mob assembled in front yard, Curtis "Cur" Mudgeon finally begins process of taking down garish Christmas decorations. "If I could have held out for a few more months," he says, "I could've just left them all up for next season."

April 13 - China successfully sends a manned rocket into orbit. Hailing it as a victory for Communism, Chinese leaders vow to become the first nation to send a man to Mars. In response, President Bush says, "Pigs will fly before that happens."

April 14 - China sends second rocket into space, this time carrying two men and one pot-bellied pig. "Pigs have flown," says announcer on state-run propoganda TV. "Mars is ours."

April 15 - Line of severe thunderstorms rips through Stoddard County; series of tornadoes touch down and destroy several homes, but, much to everybody's surprise, come within 200 feet of a trailer park without causing any damage there.

April 29 - After paying multi-million dollar fines to Federal and state governments for deceptive business practices, TV psychic "Miss Bleo" is free to start spreading her fake Jamaican accent on the airwaves again. This time Bleo and her parent company, A Sucker Is Born Every Minute, Inc., assure investigators that they can rake in enough profits from gullible callers through perfectly legal means without resorting to scams.

May 6 - After a dismal start to the season, the Kansas City Royals -- Missouri's other baseball team -- spearhead program to reward and punish players and coaches based on performance. When the team loses a home game, players' daily salaries will be withheld and given to ticketholders in the form of refunds. "It's a win-win situation for fans: either the team wins the game, or attendees get their money back," explains the team's Specific Manager.

May 7 - Baseball player's union denounces Royals plan to punish players for mediocre performance. "These players have mansion mortgages to pay and luxury car payments to make. This is unfair!" says union leader. Plan is subsequently dropped by Royals, but later in year several minor league teams start paying players based on performance and giving out refunds for losses. Minor league attendance soars 150% by end of season.

May 12 - Jackson resident sues McDonalds for $92.3 million after she accidentally spills a cup of "excessively cold coffee" in her lap while driving, the shock of which caused her to veer off into a ditch. McDonalds spokesman explains that the company recently instituted a policy of serving only lukewarm coffee in response to the many pending lawsuits involving customers unable to comprehend warning label "Caution: HOT!" plastered on all cups.

May 15 - In response to "cold coffee lawsuit", McDonalds upper management decides to stop selling coffee altogether nationwide. "It's just too much trouble," Vice President of Lawsuit Avoidance says.

May 18 - McDonalds faces class-action lawsuit filed by customers upset that the company no longer offers coffee (hot or cold). Plaintiffs allege company secretly added ingredient to coffee "to make it more addictive" over the years; now that coffee is no longer available under Golden Arches, severe cases of withdrawl symptoms have surfaced "resulting in extreme mental and physical anguish."

May 23 - Another day, another study announced about the consequences of hormone replacement therapy for women. This time it's good news; "This therapy can extend life expectancy by nearly 15%!" says backer of study. "The fact that we received funding from a large drug company that markets hormone replacement products in no way impacts our findings."

June 2 - Sick of watching endless commercials for "Alabama's Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail", managers of several local golf courses band together to form the "Southeast Missouri Rush Limbaugh Golf Trail". Courses allot $1.5 million to bombard Alabamans with Missouri golf commercials featuring endorsements by the Cape native himself.

June 11 - Congressional study finds that Federalizing airport security has been a "rousing success," with over 10.2 million nail clippers, 5.9 million box cutters, 1.2 million pairs of scissors, and zero bombs and guns confiscated from airline passengers. In response, Democrats push plan to "Federalize everything". "We will not rest until we have created a sea of alphabet soup agencies spanning nearly every three-letter acronym," proclaims Sen. Fattecat (D-Washington). "Everything from the AAA (Automobile Airbag Authority) to the ZZC (Zoo & Zookeeper Commission)..."

June 18 - Hormone replacement therapy is now bad for women, according to the latest study. Meanwhile, fiber is indeed good for you, Vitamin E has no impact on headaches, and potato chips no longer serve any beneficial purpose.

June 23 - Cape resident fined by city for posting large anti-ACLU sign in front yard without first obtaining proper billboard permit. In response, ACLU files lawsuit against city arguing that man has "fundamental First Amendment free speech right to post sign calling ACLU the 'Anti-American Communist Lawyers Union'". City loses case and court orders city employees to undergo "First Amendment Sensitivity Training" to prevent additional Constitutional violations from occuring. Afterwards, man erects even larger anti-ACLU sign, failing to see irony of situation.

July 4 - Jackson fireworks organizers are greatly relieved that nothing goes wrong with display... except for the fact that hardly anybody showed up, many frightened away by last year's little incident.

July 9 - Mt. Auburn Third Baptist Church initiates a hostile takeover of La Croix Sixth Baptist, creating the city's largest church. Congregation leases and remodels abandoned Kmart store to house new worship center, but hopes to pool resources over next five years to construct largest church edifice in Midwest.

July 22 - Hoping to take the bite out of the high cost to attend a Cardinals game, team offers "installment plan" to allow families to pay for tickets, parking, and food with low-interest financing over 36 months.

August 1 - Cape abuzz with numerous reports of "Elvis sightings". Elvises spotted at mall, Wal-Mart, McDonalds, and cruising Broadway. Resulting hysteria covered on national TV.

August 2 - Residents learn that large number of Elvis impersonators were traveling down I-55 to annual convention in Memphis; several stopped in Cape on way, causing epidemic of Elvis sightings. Impersonators assure jittery Cape Girardeans that real Elvis "has left the building -- and planet".

August 10 - Just minutes after a study is announced that promotes the health benefits of hormone replacement therapy for some older women, another study appears in a competing journal that finds the exact opposite. Potato chips are good for you again.

August 11 - Surgeon General issues statement denouncing flurry of conflicting studies, saying, "Studies have shown that frivolous medical studies can increase stress and raise blood pressure by 50% in certain patients, causing serious consequences. We need to quit waffling on these issues and stop scaring people into thinking that they're going to die tomorrow because of something they eat or do."

August 18 - Gov. Bob "One Term" Holden announces that he will not seek re-election in 2004, much to the dismay of Republicans who realize they will now have to face a Democratic opponent who actually has a chance of winning.

August 24 - After several signs marking the Crowley's Ridge Scenic Byway are toppled during heavy thunderstorm, local officials decide not to replace them, citing a severe lack of interest in the program. "Nobody cares," says the mayor of Malden. "We haven't seen the influx of tourism we hoped for, and we never will. It's not worth wasting the 23 bucks to replace the signs."

September 1 - New study suggests that the results of nearly 35% of medical studies are exaggerated or outright wrong as the result of bad methodology and other factors. The next day, this study is discredited and the study's sponsor is charged with doctoring data.

September 10 - In one of the highest rated shows in television history, the world learns that, contrary to predictions by bookies, Sarah is indeed the grand prize winner of "Survivor: East St. Louis".

September 22 - Piedmont historian Rutger T. Noliffe founds the "Wal-Mart Historic Preservation Society", dedicated to saving older Wal-Mart stores from being replaced by Supercenters. Noliffe explains, "We must preserve these historic treasures before they are abandoned -- or worse, become the target of a wrecking ball. The old stores, with their vintage 'Discount City' signs out front and their quaint, narrow aisles, represent a dying era in Americana." Group hopes to include historic Wal-Mart location in Piedmont on the National Register of Historic Places, preventing the company from building a dreaded Supercenter in its place.

October 1 - Furor develops in 'Speak Out' column after caller reports seeing Cape police officer drive 5 mph over speed limit on Mt. Auburn at the same time second cop has somebody pulled over.

October 2 - Several Speak Out callers report seeing minor traffic violations by Cape and Jackson cops: rolling through stop signs, failing to keep right except to pass, ignoring "Center Lane - Left Turns Only" signs, and running window wipers in rain showers without turning headlines on.

October 4 - Half of Speak Out column devoted to people criticizing local police for "being above the law." Unexpectedly, furor spills over from printed page into Real World; Mayor Jay "The Body" Knudtson demands action.

October 5 - City council proposes creation of "Neighborhood Watch Watch" composed of citizens keeping an eye out for safety violations by law enforcement officers.

October 10 - At a national conference of doctors, it is agreed that fiber is good, potato chips are bad, and hormone replacement therapy is a definite maybe. For now.

November 5 - According to a survey published in Hypochondriac Magazine, 80% of the population ignores new medical studies, believing that the results will likely be altered by another study the next week. "People don't like having their chains yanked like this -- one minute something is good for you, the next it'll kill you," explains one industry expert who is always available for an interview on CNN.

November 12 - Nine-year-old home-schooled Jackson boy inadvertantly hears cuss word while at shopping mall with parents; incident leaves boy -- who up until now had been raised in a sheltered world -- scarred for life. Therapy and counseling unable to stop child's downward spiral after traumatic experience; within weeks he is caught smoking dope and vandalizing neighbor's doghouse.

November 16 - A new record is set at the I-55 Oak Ridge interchange when ten cars exit there in one day. The previous record was set when nine cars used the ramps after the ribbon cutting ceremony a couple years ago.

November 18 - Scientists predict a spectacular Leonid meteor shower, saying, "We won't see anything like this for 333 years!" However, many people remember that the same thing was said last year (and the year before), causing them to accuse astronomers of playing "The Boy Who Cried Meteor Shower!"

November 29 - Nearly simultaneous wrecks at Center Junction, I-55 Diversion Channel Bridge, and old Mississippi River bridge, plus general congestion from Christmas shopping season, causes one of worst traffic jams in city history. Mr. and Mrs. Frudale of St. Louis, visiting Cape with the idea of relocating to a smaller, slower-paced town, decide that the hustle and bustle of St. Louis isn't all that bad after all.

December 10 - Federal marshalls bust a ring of con artists operating in Southeast Missouri providing fake genealogical research. "This is one of the most elaborate cons I've seen," one FBI agent says. "It didn't matter who you were -- Smith, Jones, McGlufilorihan -- these people would always say you were descended from somebody famous like George Washington or Dolly Madison, and they would provide the fabricated family tree to prove it..."

December 13 - "Neighborhood Watch Watch" program, created to monitor abuses by city police, disbands amid allegations that several members abused their own power for monetary gain. Mayor Knudtson proposes "Neighborhood Watch Watch Watch" to watch over the group that watches over the police that watches over civilians, but sheer complexity of idea dooms it to immediate failure.

December 17 - Hundreds of thousands of hard-core Tolkien groupies and geeks buy advance tickets to see the final installment of "The Lord of the Rings" at midnight on opening day. They are shocked, however, at the unexpected finale of the trilogy: The hero, Frodo, is killed by Gollum and it seems certain that Evil will triumph... until Jar Jar Binks (the wildly unpopular character from Star Wars) drops in to save the day. As a result of this wretched abomination, several hundred geeks riot in a California theater, burning it down. Director Peter Jackson is immediately forced to apologize on national TV, saying, "The studio's marketing heads made me do it!" and "It's a shame that my career will end on this note..."

December 31 - At last check, fiber is still good for you, potato chips are still listed as "junk food", and hormone replacement therapy is still doubtful. However, French fries are now considered "good" because they can reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus.

December 31 - At the last possible moment (11:59 PM), MoDOT crews open the new Bill Emerson bridge to traffic. "We said we would finish this darn thing in 2003," explains the district engineer. "And we did." Old bridge, currently held together with duct tape and superglue, expected to be demolished within days.

December 31 - While Republicans maintain control of two out of three branches of the Federal government, the world still hasn't ended.