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A Religion That Grew From a Lot of Brew

"He's a devil," Chief Isaac snarled.

It turns out that Prophet Fred heads an apostate John Frum group that split from Chief Isaac's church. The two Frum sects have been known to fight pitched battles, just like Catholics and Protestants and Sunnis and Shiites. Ain't religion grand?

Raffaele asked the chief what kind of cargo he hopes John Frum will bring to Tanna if he returns.

"A 25-horsepower outboard motor for the village boat," the chief replied. "Then we can catch much fish . . ."

Hey, chief, let's make a deal: I'll trade you an outboard motor for a big barrel of kava. Man, I haven't kissed the moon since I was back in college.

"John promised you much cargo more than 60 years ago and none has come," Raffaele said to Chief Isaac. "Why do you still believe in him?"

Chief Isaac smiled and uttered an irrefutable answer: "You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth," he said, "and you haven't given up hope."

Dr. Z Gets an F

Thinking about betting on Sunday's Super Bowl? Here's a tip from a renowned expert, Paul Zimmerman, aka Dr. Z, Sports Illustrated's veteran pigskin prognosticator:

Put your money on the Carolina Panthers. They're going to beat the Indianapolis Colts, 31-27.

Hold it. Wait a minute. This just in: The Panthers and the Colts won't be playing in the Super Bowl. Instead, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Seattle Seahawks. Which is why the folks at SI are hoping you have forgotten Dr. Z's predictions in the magazine's Sept. 5, 2005 "NFL Preview" issue, the one with the cover line reading "That's right! The Panthers will go all the way."

But we at the Magazine Reader never forget. Well, actually we did forget about SI's predictions. But then somebody walked past our palatial offices and accidentally bumped into the huge mountain known as the Magazine Reader Archives and Recycling Pile, causing an avalanche of magazines that nearly buried the entire staff. As we dug out, we found many interesting antiques, including a half-eaten liverwurst-and-Swiss sandwich and a copy of SI's National Football League preview issue.

The sandwich had some fuzzy green stuff on it and it tasted kinda funny, so we threw it out. But we kept the SI issue, which proved that Dr. Z's predictions were approximately as accurate as what you'd get if you blindfolded a chimpanzee and had him throw darts at a list of NFL teams.

Take our beloved Redskins: Dr. Z predicted that they'd finish last in the National Football Conference East, with a 4-12 record. Actually, the Skins finished second with a 10-6 record, right behind the New York Giants, who were 11-5, despite Dr. Z's prediction that they'd end up 5-11. The Z man said the Philadelphia Eagles would win the division with a 10-6 record. Actually they came in last at 6-10.

Dr. Z also predicted that the Baltimore Ravens would win the American Football Conference North with a 11-5 record. Actually, they finished 6-10.

He predicted that the Chicago Bears would finish dead last in the NFC North with a 3-13 record. Actually, they won the division with an 11-5 record.

And on and on. It just goes to show you that it's hard to predict the future. I prefer predicting the past. Take my word for it, folks, the United States will beat Japan in World War II.

Dr. Z could not be reached for comment yesterday. His colleagues at SI said they couldn't find him. Perhaps he was hiding from his bookie. But in last week's edition, he issued his official prediction for the Super Bowl: "Pittsburgh 27, Seattle 21."

Let the bettor beware.

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