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Dispatches from Wackyland
New Study: Batman Really Does Turn Readers Gay

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say their new study shows that exposure to the "silver age" Batman and Robin comic books really can turn readers gay.

"My assistant Steve and I undertook a massive six-month research project, reading every back issue of Batman and Detective comics published between 1949 and 1968 multiple times over at Steve's apartment," said Dr. Frances Taylor, chairman of the Johns Hopkins psychology department, explaining his methodology. "As a result, Steve is now gay, and I've divorced my wife, shaved my head, and taken to wearing leather.

"The two of us will be moving to Massachusetts as soon as that whole gay marriage thingy is worked out."

Taylor said his methodology also involved showing images of the Dick Sprang-designed Joker to a hippopotamus at the Baltimore Zoo, following which the animal broke loose and tried to mate with a garbage truck. Taylor admits he can't explain the animal's behavior. "The color scheme on that truck was just awful."

Separately, researchers in Japan have found evidence that cult manga Fruits Basket can turn its readers into zodiac animals.

Transformers: Surprisingly Less Than Meets the Eye

Scientists have discovered that there is actually less to the popular Transformers characters than meets the eye, and they warn that unless steps are taken to preserve the robots, they will disappear from the toyetic ecosystem.

Writing in the scientific journal Nature, Dr. Helal Hassenfeld said that he and a team of researchers had found evidence that the energy lost in the robot transformations actually results in decreased mass, meaning that the robots become progressively smaller and simpler as they change. During one experiment, he writes, a Decepticon weighing several tons transformed into a handheld pistol that weighed no more than a few pounds, and it was only able to change back into a few loose screws and washers from an Erector set.

Giant Robots Level Japanese Studios

Giant robots escaped from a top-secret military installation outside Kyoto on Tuesday, going on a rampage that destroyed every anime studio in Japan.

"This is really most unfortunate, possibly the most unfortunate thing I have seen in many years, and I have seen much misfortune in those many years, more misfortune than I can possibly recapitulate right now in this briefing before I run out of breath," said a spokesman for the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

"Is it as unfortunate as the colors of my outfit?" asked a female reporter with a simpering smile.

"Yes, those colors are most unfortunate, I must admit, I don't know whether I can judge between the misfortune of those colors and the misfortune of seeing our anime industry wholly crushed, for both are highly unfortunate, but I will do my best to judge as soon as I stop blushing and dancing back and forth from one foot to the other while pumping my fists in the air," the spokesman replied as an enormous bead of sweat stood out on his forehead.

Meanwhile, until the Japanese studios are able to rebuild, U.S. distributors FUNimation, Bandai and ADV say they will import anime from backup studios in Norway. Dragon Ball ÅØ and Cutey Honey: O Ja, Yu Betcha! are expected to be ready later this fall.

Popeye Promotes Steroid Use, Critics Charge

The Alliance for the Protection of Consumer Rights (APCR) today denounced Popeye the Sailor as an unfit role model for young athletes, saying that the cartoon hero promotes unhealthy muscle-development techniques.

"The word 'spinach,' which is always shown on the cans of food that Popeye eats, is clearly a code word for 'steroids,'" said APCR president Brutus P. Berger in a presentation. "If you remove the letters a, c, h, n and p, then add the letters e, d, o, r, t and an extra s in the right order while moving the i, you get 'steroids.'"

Berger also criticized adds for Red Bull, saying the drink irresponsibly suggests that its consumption will give the drinker wings.

When it was pointed out that the letters of his organization's acronym could themselves be rearranged to spell "crap," Berger scowled, pulled his pants down and hurled fecal matter at the questioner

Golden-Age, Modern-Day Eisners Join to Battle Roy Disney

The Walt Disney Company announced today that chairman and CEO Michael Eisner will be joined by the "Golden Age" Eisner of the 1980's to battle Comcast Corp. and Roy Disney for control of the entertainment conglomerate.

This will mark the first reappearance of the "classic" Eisner with his trademark maroon tights, green opera cape and golden "Mousketeer" ears in nearly a decade. Fighting side-by-side with the contemporary Eisner (whose costume features dollar signs stitched in golden thread on a sable business suit and $100 bills sprouting from his pants cuffs), the two Eisners hope to keep control of the Disney empire, which is the object of shareholder discontent and a hostile takeover.

Contractual issues, however, will prevent the return of Golden-Age Eisner's youthful sidekick, Midgetman Jeffrey.

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