'85 Chicago Bears Return To Studio:

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Issue 3304

Zapp Institute Adjusts Bounce/Ounce Ratio

LOS ANGELES—Alarmed by the sharp decline in overall U.S. rump-shaking levels in the past 12 months, Zapp Institute director Dr. Roger Troutman announced Monday that the federal bounce/ounce ratio will be raised to four-to-one effective March 1. "The American people can not adequately get down if they do not receive more bounce to the ounce," Troutman said. "Hopefully, by increasing per capita BPOs, or bounces-per-ounce, to four-to-one, the Zapp Institute will help Americans to once again get their groove on."

Psychic-Phone-Line Customer Used To Be Closed-Minded Just Like Her Friends

DETROIT—Detroit-area receptionist Nadine Jackson announced Monday that, after years of being closed-minded like her friends, she has finally come to realize that the Caring Psychic Family Network is an amazing psychic service that really works. "Now listen here, honey," said Jackson, swaying her head from side-to-side in a sassy, authoritative manner, "I used to be skeptical about 1-900 hotlines just like my friends. But let me tell you, the Caring Psychic Family Network is different. Their expert psychics' predictions really work!" Jackson said she will pray each night for the souls of her misguided, non-believing friends.

Last Remaining Novelist Dies In Captivity

COLUMBUS, OH—Cultural zoologists are mourning the extinction of a species following Monday’s passing of novelist John Updike. The last living novelist, Updike died in his cage at the Columbus Zoo. "We will greatly miss Mr. Updike, to whom many of our trainers and feeders grew very attached," zoo director Cheryl Berner said. "Columbus Zoo visitors of all ages loved to watch him hunch over his typewriter, furiously pressing the little keys." Berner said the zoo had tried for several years to mate Updike—known for his long fictional books called "novels" (KNAW-vuls)—with female ad-copy writers, cartoonists and screenwriters, but were unsuccessful. "At one point, we tried to procure a sperm sample from Mr. Updike to inseminate People magazine managing editor Jane Lowery, but he became enraged and violent when approached,” Berner said.

Abortion Issue ‘Most Critical Of Our Time,’ Say Tobacco-Industry Executives

WINSTON-SALEM, NC—At its quarterly meeting Wednesday, the National Association of Tobacco Growers declared abortion "the most critical issue of our time," resolving to significantly increase public awareness and discussion of it. "There are many controversial issues in America, but none more controversial than abortion," NATG president Buddy Ott said. "It is a highly volatile, complex issue and, as such, it deserves a tremendous amount of attention and scrutiny from the American public and media."

Swiss Threaten Ricola Embargo

BERN, SWITZERLAND—Angered by rising international tariffs against his nation, Swiss president Gunter Klima threatened a worldwide Ricola embargo Tuesday. "If these unfair tariffs are not lifted," Klima said, "we will have no choice but to withhold our natural Alpine-herb throat lozenges, causing billions of throats across the globe to go tragically unsoothed." An estimated 2.1 billion people rely on Swiss menthol for their throat-calming needs.
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Terrifying Uniformed Bachelorette Party Storms Local Bar

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'85 Chicago Bears Return To Studio:

CHICAGO—In an announcement that has electrified the music world, the Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew confirmed Monday that it is reuniting and will soon begin work on its first new material since the seminal 1985 "Super Bowl Shuffle" single.

The Chicago Bears Shufflin' Crew

Confirming the recent swirl of music-industry rumors regarding a possible reunion, Shufflin' Crew lead singer Willie Gault told reporters: "After nearly 12 years of solo gigs and side projects, we decided it was time for us to work together again."

Gault went on to strongly deny rumors that the Crew was returning to the studio looking for trouble.

"We didn't come here looking for trouble," Gault said. "We just came to record the long-awaited follow-up to the 'Super Bowl Shuffle.'"

According to Shufflin' Crew member William "Refrigerator" Perry, he, Gault and punky QB Jim McMahon have already sketched out rough demo versions of 10 to 15 songs, which will, over the next two months, be fleshed out in the studio with producer Steve Albini.

Perry said fans should expect the new album to be "darker and more introspective" than the group's "Shuffle"-era work.

"[The new album] will definitely reflect our maturation as a group and as individuals," said Perry, who may be large but is no dumb cookie. "Back then, we were young, wild and arrogant: Jim [McMahon] had his spiked hair, shades and controversial, message-bearing headbands, and I had my legendary eating exploits and rushing touchdowns. We kind of had this attitude like, 'We're so bad, we know we're good, blowing your mind like we knew we would.' But while the new record will still have that trademark Shufflin' Crew swagger, it will also show our more reflective side."

All of the original Shufflin' Crew members are expected to participate in the reunion except Otis Wilson, who told Spin magazine in a recent interview that his "heart just isn't in it anymore."

"Back when the group first started, we were just struttin' for fun," Wilson said. "But once we hit it big, everything changed. Suddenly, there were business meetings, publicity appearances, video shoots, sponsorship deals. Before long, it wasn't about the music anymore. That's when I knew I had to get out."

Numerous names have circulated as possible Wilson replacements, ranging from former Poco bassist Jim Messina to former Bengals running back Ickey Woods.

"Otis has made his decision, and we respect that. It will be difficult, but we must go on as a band without him," Shufflin' Crew co-founder Walter Payton said.

Added Payton: "Running the ball is like making romance."

While the album is still months from completion, the Shufflin' Crew tried out some of the new material at an unannounced gig at Chicago's Lounge Ax music club last Friday. Response from the sold-out crowd was overwhelmingly positive.

"They sounded really good, really tight, man," said die-hard fan Jeff Rampling of Des Plaines, IL, who estimated he has been to over 250 Shufflin' Crew shows. "Once they got warmed up, they were rocking like vintage '85 Crew."

"They kicked some serious ass tonight," said Don Frischman, lead singer for Four-Six Defense, a Chicago-area Shufflin' Crew tribute band. "Richard Dent still blows me away live."

In negotiating terms for the new album with Geffen Records, the Shufflin' Crew made one demand: complete creative control over the project.

"We made it clear that under no circumstances would we allow participation by the female referee who twice blew a whistle over our singers' attempts to say the word 'ass' during the 'Shuffle' sessions," backup vocalist Steve Fuller said. "The Bears traffic in the truth, and either you can handle it or you can't. Censorship is slavery."

Expected to hit stores in early November, the new album will be followed by a world tour beginning February 1999. All proceeds from both the album and tour will go toward charity.

"I want to stress that we are not doing this because we're greedy," Payton said. "The Bears are doing this to feed the needy."

One of the most successful American bands of the mid-'80s, the Shufflin' Crew broke up in May 1986 due to creative differences and infighting, particularly between Gault and keyboardist Gary Fencik. Gault embarked on a solo career in 1987 and scored a minor hit with the song 'Chocolate Swirl (That's What I'm As Smooth As),' but never equaled the success he had with the Shufflin' Crew. Fencik and Fuller went on to form the band Touchback with New York Giants wide receiver Phil McConkey.

"After so many years apart, it feels good to be back together again," Gault said. "But most of all, I'm happy for all the Bears Shufflin' Crew fans out there. You guys are the reason we're shufflin' on down. We're doin' it for you."

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