Minnesota's senior senator, Paul Wellstone, says he has a mild form of multiple sclerosis. The ailment is described as a progressive disease of the central nervous system. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star-Tribune says the 57-year-old Wellstone reports that so far the condition has only manifested itself in his lower right leg, which he now drags when he walks. In making the disclosure, Wellstone noted that he has a "strong mind, a strong body and a strong soul." The newspaper says he considers himself lucky because of the rather mild form of the disease, which, in some people, can be very severe. His form of MS is the least-seen of four types and affects about 12 percent of patients.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO 'THE MAN IN BLACK'
Johnny Cash turns 70 this week. In celebration, a slew of country music stars and other entertainers is either sending greetings, doing special tributes or releasing Cash-oriented CDs. According to music industry statistics, some are turning "The Man in Black" into "The Man in Green." Sony, for example, has just released a new two-disc Cash anthology called "Essential." Two older Cash albums are also being released on CD, as well as several others -- some from the 1950s. One of them is the singer's patriotic 1972 effort "America." Also on shelves again is "Ragged Old Flag," released in 1974. By the way, another effort is in the works, produced by Cash's son-in-law Marty Stuart. It contains tribute recordings by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, Sheryl Crow and several other yet-to-be-named artists. It's due out in a few months.
ARTISTS PUSH FOR PERSONAL RIGHTS
You would not think that wealthy and successful music stars would find their lot in life unbearable, but that's nearly the case for some of them. The Eagles, the Dixie Chicks, Eddie Vedder, No Doubt and even Billy Joel are making a stand this week for their latest cause: a better deal from their record companies. According to published reports, the entertainers have been staging concerts (in advance of the Grammys) to raise money for the Recording Artists Coalition. Among other things, the singers and songwriters are wanting more say-so on how their products are marketed. Even Don Henley has taken a stand. He recently told the media that "it's time that the artistic community grows up ... (and) artists not ignore the business of music."
CHELSEA CLINTON GOES TO THE MOVIES
Former "first daughter" Chelsea Clinton has surfaced. This time in London, with latest boyfriend Ian Klause. The New York Post says she and her beau were attending the British premiere of the movie "The Shipping News." And it wasn't the best evening for either. The publication uses the word "avuncular" to describe the demeanor of the head of Miramax, Harvey Weinstein, who was there to emcee the opening. "Avuncular" means "uncle-like." In other words, embarrassingly protective. At one point Weinstein told the audience about his first meeting with Chelsea. It was on Martha's Vineyard, while her father was still president. Weinstein noted that it was difficult to approach her because of the omnipresent Secret Service. He then warned Klause, in front of the entire audience, that he might have trouble getting any private, intimate moments with Chelsea, warning him to "be careful."
JACKSON WILL NOT SING ON GRAMMYS SHOW
Michael Jackson has opted out of this week's glitzy Grammys. The announcement, made by a spokesman for the international media, seems strange in the wake of lawsuits and name calling in that tug of war between the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences -- the Grammy people -- and the American Music Awards -- Dick Clark's show -- over which venue he would choose. Jackson, who has had a hard time jump-starting a flagging career and regaining his title of "The King of Pop," is apparently going to focus more of his energies on movie and video production. You may remember that Jackson displeased Clark by backing out of an appearance on January's American Music Awards, fearing that were he to appear there he would be denied an "invite" to the Grammys. The question remains, though, just how much energy would it take from video and movie production to do one number on the internationally televised program?
ROSEANNE HEADED FOR BROADWAY?
Entertainer-comedienne Roseanne (Barr, Arnold, whatever) may be on the verge of turning a new page in her career. She is reportedly headed for the Big Apple to assess her chances at the legitimate stage. Columnist Cindy Adams says Barr is slowly changing her image, seeking to look less comedic and more cerebral. She recently attended a dinner honoring politico Dick Gephardt. It was held at the home of Toni Kramer. Now there is talk that she may attempt a try on Broadway, even doing a one-woman show. Let's just hope that she doesn't start her performances by shrieking the national anthem. New Yorkers are pretty sensitive about things like that lately.
UPI DAILY SURVEY QUESTION NO. 277
Well, the Winter Games have now gone into the record books. Thrills and disappointments and a bunch of broken records. So, here is today's question: "What did you think of this year's games?" You can reply about any aspect of the contests, ceremonies or surrounding hoopla. Put OLYMPICS in the subject line and send to firstname.lastname@example.org via the Internet.
RESULTS OF QUESTION NO. 272 (PILLS)
Last week we wondered how many pills you take each day, both prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. I was floored by some of the answers. More than half of the respondents noted that they take at least a dozen a day. I found that surprising. Many noted that they never really noticed their daily pill consumption until being urged by the survey question to monitor their 24-hour intake of drugs of all kinds. Cheryl, for example, wrote to say that she found it "scary" when she totaled them up: "Thirteen prescription pills a day, seven vitamins, flax seed oil and calcium. Also medications for allergies, migraines, muscle pain, etc." she reports. She also said that since she had a regularly scheduled appointment with her doctor in a few days she's going to mention all of this and the possible drug interaction problems. Not a bad lesson for all of us. On the other side of the coin, Michael TM is among those who don't take any. He says that he thinks an over-medicated society is one reason we have so many diseases. Additionally, my heart goes out to the many of you who suffer from migraine headaches. I knock on wood that mine, lately, have been few and far between. But, I remember a time in my 30s when they nearly ran my life. TOMORROW: Your stories about having your car repaired. Later in the week we'll keep in touch with old classmates. GBA.