Ever since the Judas Priest story surfaced I've had the strangest sensation that someone is sending me subliminal messages too. To bring you up to speed on the story: In 1985 two boys made a suicide pact while listening to Judas Priest (better they should have shot the stereo). The families are now suing the group and CBS Records on grounds that the album contained subliminal commands, "Do it" and "Let's be dead," which spurred the boys to shoot themselves. Ordinarily, I don't put much faith in (... Confirm Souter! ...)

Excuse me, where was I? Talking about subliminal messages, I believe. It's not that I don't think hidden messages have no influence. We've all heard about movie theaters flashing subliminal ads for soda, and all of a sudden there's a line five blocks long at the concession stand. But as a rule I can't accept the notion that your unconscious mind can be manipulated so easily. That's the Manchurian Candidate, isn't it? What's next, subliminal labeling, so when you reach for a can of tuna you're really getting bean dip instead? Honestly, would anyone (... Confirm Souter! ...)

Huh? What? So anyway, what do you think about the Souter nomination? I was in my car and I heard the name on the radio. Not seeing the spelling, I was excited that the Bushman had nominated Bruce Sutter, the former relief pitcher, which I thought was good, because who'd be better for throwing a case out of court than a pitcher?

But let me ask you something. I mean, Souter's 50, and no one's heard him say a word his whole life. Who is he, Chance the gardener? I take that back. If he were actually a gardener, his front lawn in New Hampshire wouldn't be so overgrown. Just between us -- off the record, okay? -- when you look at that house stuck out in the woods, and you factor in he's never been married, and his great pleasures are reading obscure texts and taking long hikes alone, tell me you don't think to yourself, "Bates Motel." What was it that attracted Bush, other than the fact Souter was so tiny in comparison that he looked like a Chihuahua in a teacup? Was it the decisions he made on important New Hampshire questions, like where to build the neighbor's barn or whose cow has the right of way on the unpaved part of (... Fly Eastern! ...)

What? Did you hear that? I was astounded when I saw Souter on TV. I called to my wife, "Come quick, Barney Fife's just been nominated to the Supreme Court." They're not going to give him the Douglas Ginsburg Don't Bogart That Joint Test. He doesn't look like a B-B-B-Bud Man either. Lock up the Marshmallow Fluff, though, in case he gets zany.

Remember the old days when they had assigned seats; you know, when they had a Southern Seat and a Jewish Seat etc., and these seats were safe. I was hoping the Bushman would set aside a Really Cool Guy Seat, and when they'd take the official photo, first the eight stiffs would lumber in, then the Really Cool Guy would bop in wearing shades and a Bart-Man T-shirt. But Souter? (... Fly Eastern! ...)

So what I'm saying about seats is, why would you sit in any seat on Eastern now? Okay, we're used to lugging the car back to the shop because the mechanic didn't do all the work, but this isn't the car. This isn't, let's pull over at the next gas station. This is, ladies and gentlemen, can I have your attention, we're ditching in the ocean. Thank you for choosing Eastern, and we hope to see you again.

"Oh no, I can't swim."

"Don't worry, lady, the fall will kill you."

It's the scariest, most unconscionable transportation news ever. This is 300 people at 30,000 feet. If convicted, Eastern faces $30 million in fines -- it ought to face a firing squad. (... Sing, Roseanne! ...)

United flies the friendly skies. American is something special in the air. Delta loves to fly, and it shows. What will Eastern's new slogan be? "You Pays Your Money, You Takes Your Chances." Or "Whatsa Matter, You Chicken?" Or "Our Mechanics Are the Best Rested in the Business." Or, "Triple Bonus Miles ... If We Get There." Or "Eastern: No Promises." At least you don't have to worry about terrorists on the flight. Not even terrorists are that (... Sing, Roseanne! ...)

Talk about terrifying sights. How about watching Roseanne "That Your Dress, or Did Tent City Go Out of Business?" Barr cat-scratch the national anthem the other night? The opera better be over before that fat lady sings. Two Dalmatians on my block were so disoriented by the notes Barr hit, they went out and bought a Judas Priest album.

I'm not sure what the big deal is. It couldn't be her grabbing her crotch. Madonna and Michael Jackson do that and they were spokesmen for soft drinks. It can't be spitting. Billy Crystal did that in the first scene of "When Harry Met Sally ..." and he hosts the Oscars. Every major leaguer grabs his crotch and spits. That's Lesson 1 in Nuke LaLoosh's Do It Like the Pros Baseball Primer. So the problem is she sang the anthem off-key? At least Barr got all the words right. That's more than Robert Goulet. San Diego pitcher and John Bircher (yes, John Bircher) Eric Show complained, "There are people who died for that song." Hey, Goulet died singing it.

Barr tried to be funny. She wasn't. Wrong place. Wrong song. You shouldn't jerk around with the national anthem. But tell me why they play the anthem at ballgames? They don't play it before movies, or concerts. Only ballgames. I keep thinking they could get another song. Maybe something by the Beach Boys. Maybe Paul Simon could (... Helter Skelter ...)

Huh? This subliminal messaging has to stop. What am I, a channeler?

(... Helter Skelter ...)

Oh, no, not Charlie.