In the news: Today marks the first official shopping day of the Yuletide season, says comedy writer Alan Ray: "Customers will search for that elusive item--a friendly sales clerk. And stores will be festooned with the traditional signs of Christmas: Batteries Not Included and Some Assembly Required ."
Comedy writer Michael Connor, on the GOP welfare reform plan: "It's a classic! In fact, it's based on the teachings of Ebenezer Scrooge."
A sign of the times, says comedy writer Tony Peyser: "The phrase \o7 when hell freezes over \f7 has been officially replaced with \o7 when Huffington concedes\f7 ."
TV newswoman Cokie Roberts, on prayer in school: "As long as there is math in school, there will be prayer in school." (Lynn Ewing, L.A.)
That's Entertainment: Tom Arnold is planning to marry his college-student girlfriend and Premiere Radio's Morning Sickness says he isn't taking any chances: "Tom's drafted a prenuptial agreement so his new bride can't get any of Roseanne's money."
Director George Lucas will use state-of-the-art computer graphics to update "Star Wars" for a 20th-anniversary re-release in 1997. Comedy writer Mark Miller says the new version features "Luke Skywalker 'using the force,' as Princess Leia moans, 'Yes . . . yes . . . oh yes!' "
Spider-man's wife has announced she is pregnant. Reader Ben Green of Westlake Village figures "this is the last time she'll use Raid for birth control."
Comedy writer Bob Mills, on Andrew Lloyd Webber's triumphant Broadway opening of "Sunset Boulevard": "First-nighters were doubly thrilled when they were led to their seats by the theater's new head usher, Mario Cuomo."
Reader Daniel Rodriquez of Claremont wonders whether new alternative groups such as Blind Melon, Smashing Pumpkins and the Lemonheads are "only about rock 'n' roll or are they another Biosphere II agricultural experiment gone awry?"
A representative of a fried chicken chain had an audience with the Pope, asking if he would change the Lord's Prayer for $5 million. The specific change: Replace "daily bread" with "daily chicken." An annoyed Pope asked him to leave.
A month later, the offer was upped to $100 million, but again was denied. Several months passed and the rep made his final offer: $1 billion. The Pope said he'd discuss it with the cardinals. Prefacing the request, the Pope told them he had both good and bad news:
"The good news is we have $1 billion. The bad news is we lose the Wonder Bread account."
Reader Nicole Heilman overheard her cousins talking after Leslie, 5, walked in on Nathan, 4, in the bathroom: "Where did you get that?" Leslie asked. "I am a boy," Nathan said, "this is how God made me." In disbelief, the young girl replied:
\o7 "No, your mom got that from Kmart!"\f7