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Test Pattern: Five-link Friday

Celeb mug shots, 'Survivor,' Peanuts, more
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Five-link Friday

• It seems as if we can't go a week these days without seeing another celebrity mug shot. Nick Nolte and James Brown were among the most startling. A site called is now selling a deck of cards featuring 52 of the most famous mug shots. Of course, the Smoking Gun also has .

• Seattle-based Fantagraphics is now for the first of 26 volumes of The Complete Peanuts. They'll issue two volumes a year with two years of strips in each volume (that'll take 12 1/2 years to complete, so no need to buy a new bookcase for them just yet). Also in Peanuts news: has opened online, and it's the perfect place to pick up a yellow zigzaggy Charlie Brown T-shirt.

• "Survivor All-Stars" has been a hoot so far, but even funnier is the . You can also page through old comic versions of past "Survivor" seasons, including . Speaking of "Survivor," CBS is running an , as they've done for several seasons now. It's kind of like fantasy football, only you don't have to know anything about sports.

• Matt at the always-hilarious X-Entertainment noticed that animated character SpongeBob Squarepants has been hawking an awful lot of products in your friendly neighborhood grocery store. He bought as many of them as he could and ga. Best thing about his writeup: The photo of a SpongeBob figure about to snack on a SpongeBob Pop-Tart alone is worth the price of admission (which is, er, free).

• Massively talented Spalding Gray had struggled with depression for years before he disappeared a few weeks back. The story seems to have slipped out of the press, and the fear is that Gray commited suicide. New York Magazine has a that does a good job of examining the events leading up to his disappearance. New Yorkers may have seen it, but it's a good find for those of us in the hinterlands who still wait for news.

Here comes the comic-strip bride?

Reports are that the eternally single Cathy of the comics is from boyfriend Irving in the Valentine's Day strip. of course, is the '70s-tinged strip about the eternally single title character, who loves shoe shopping and her dog Electra and hates diets and dating.

Too many similar plotlines have made "Cathy" a cliche (how many times can she go home for the holidays and be babied by her mother?), but I confess, I still check it out from time to time, and I'll turn to the funny pages on Saturday to see if the proposal is accepted (as if that would all happen on one day -- comics, like soap operas, can str-e-e-etch plots out for weeks).

I have trouble believing that cartoonist Cathy Guisewite will let her cartoon alter ego wed, even though Guisewite herself is . "Cathy" the strip was born and still survives on the daily troubles and traumas of a single working woman. That's its audience, that's its purpose.

Marriage and children are done well in some strips — and even handle it with aplomb, letting their characters grow up and face new challengers. Others need to feed their characters anti-aging pills — imagine dealing with mortgage woes, or Jason, Paige and Peter of marrying and moving off on their own. Their strips would be ruined!

The same thing goes for TV shows, and network after network fails to learn that lesson. A prime example: "Mad About You" was a decent show until characters Paul and Jamie had (no, really, they named her Mabel). Even the behemoth "Friends" has been slipping as its characters began marrying off and having children, getting away from the platonic-but-maybe-someday friendships that have always been the core of the show.

Cathy needs to stay single. Huey in needs to stay sarcastic. Jason in "Fox Trot" needs to stay smarter than his parents and siblings. That's just the way it is in Comic Strip Land.

Now maybe someone will answer the real question: Why does my daily paper run 35 daily comics, but only 3-4 of them are worth reading? And who thinks is funny these days anyway?

Drop me a line and tell me which comic strips are still worth reading these days, marriage proposal or not. And yeah, I know, I've already admitted to reading "Cathy," my taste is no doubt in question already.

Feb. 9, 2004 | 9:30 a.m. PT

Real-life ‘Monster’ trial on Court TV

The for the movie "Monster" calls Aileen Wuornos but the at Court TV's disagrees with that term, saying "women have been murdering serially for as long as men, though their victims are usually family members or acquaintances, and they most often choose poison over other means of disposal."

Wuornos' life was a bleak mess, that's for sure. Her father died in prison, her mother abandoned her, she became pregnant at 14, a prostitute shortly after. (, who wrote "Lethal Intent," a book about the Wuornos case, claims Wuornos turned to prostitution at 11.) Like many prostitutes, she slipped out of society and perhaps would have remained there if not for the trail of dead men who began showing up along her path.

In addition to "Monster," Wuornos' case produced multiple nonfiction books and even .

If "Monster" has made you curious about the real story behind this case, Court TV is showing excerpts from all day Monday (and possibly Tuesday, but Court TV doesn't seem to list its schedule of trials on its otherwise-useful ). There's a chilling segment in which a police detective reports that Wuornos confessed to him and told him that the men she killed "deserved what they got." Court TV interviewed Wuornos two years before her execution, and are on the site, along with .

Recently, I watched the 2002 movie in which the characters played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Renee Zellweger are both imprisoned murderers. They're gorgeous, of course, and talented. Their crimes were straightforward and deserved, and now they'd never hurt a fly. Their lawyer is Richard Gere. Like Wuornos, these fictional murderers blame their victims, but instead of quietly confessing, they prowl the stage singing That's Hollywood crime -- light on the blood, heavy on the beauty.

"Chicago" was a fine film, but as "Monster" and Court TV's trial coverage reminds us, real-life murderers look an awful lot more like Aileen Wuornos than Catherina Zeta-Jones, and their crimes aren't easily explained in song.