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See You In Hell, Michigan

(AP Photo)
Have you heard? Today is June 6, 2006, a.k.a. 6/6/06, a.k.a. 666. And if you've been watching or reading the news, you know what that means:
6/6/06: Is This the End?
Could It Be ... Satan?
6-6-6: Is our number really up?
Apocalypse Tomorrow? 666 Arrives
Is 6/6/06 a devil of a day?

My personal favorite came from The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash.: Apocalypse looks unlikely, experts say. Phew...glad to hear there was an expert consensus on that. Although "unlikely" does leave it a little up in the air.

Yes, today is the day when Hell, Michigan gets its moment in the sun (Get it? Get it?) -- by becoming Punxsutawney for a day (the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Web site, by the way, notes that "as the Groundhog Day celebration has grown in Punxsutawney over the past several years, so has our preparedness for the many members of the media who visit our town each year" -- convenient parking for satellite and press vehicles is available at Gobbler's Knob.) I hope, for the sake of Hell residents, there is ample parking for satellite trucks outside Screams Ice Cream, where, according to Time magazine, "cones can be had this week for just 66 cents, and T-shirts with hellish slogans are going for $6.66. 'I've Been to Hell and Back,' one says."

But today isn't Groundhog Day, the annual fest that put Punxsutawney on the media map. No, for many, today's a devil of a good time. Well, I guess not for people writing headlines (please refer to my own example at the top of this piece.) Who is having a, ahem, hell of a time? Marketers. A remake of "The Omen," in which the devil's child is marked with the number 666, is being released today, to much fanfare from the media.

At MSNBC.com, Dave White has a hysterical outline of the slew of advertising campaigns ("June 6, 2006, Satan is officially lame, ruined by advertising") set to accompany today's pending apocalypse. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is welcome news. Because according to White, David Lee Roth has released a new album today – "Strumming With the Devil."

What's really funny about all the hoopla? If you actually read the Associated Press article that so many outlets are repurposing you'll find this nugget of information: "Many scholars … say the beast is really a coded reference -- using Hebrew letters for numbers -- for the despotic Roman emperor Nero, and 616 appears instead of 666 in some ancient manuscripts." Apparently no one shared that information with Rachel Phillips, who told CBS News that she changed the date of her caesarean section -- originally scheduled for today. The date she chose instead? 6-1-06.