MIR FOLLIES
Is this space exploration—or National Lampoon's Cosmic Vacation? The Russian space station MIR crashed its computers, lost its oxygen supply, careened into a cargo ship and watched its chief cosmonaut develop heart trouble. Moscow, we have a problem!

NOW A RIFF FOR THE DONTIFF
In September, BOB DYLAN went knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door at a Catholic conference in Bologna, Italy. Who answered? His hard-rockin' Holiness, THE POPE.

ALL DOLLED DOWN
Say it ain't so! BARBIE is getting a thicker waist, smaller breasts and less promworthy daywear. Uh-oh, remember New Coke?

EVEN KINGS OF POP DO IT
MICHAEL JACKSON produced an heir with his bride, dermatologist's assistant DEBBIE ROWE. Son PRINCE now shares the throne at Jackson's Neverland ranch-theme park. Mom is expecting No. 2 in May.

BITE ME
This year, CHRISTIAN SLATER, MARV ALBERT and MIKE TYSON all developed a taste for human flesh. In August, Slater took a bite out of a guy who intervened in a fight the actor was having with his girlfriend at a Hollywood party. Sportscaster Albert defined "media backbiting" for a woman in an Arlington, Va., hotel room. And don't lend an ear to Mike Tyson's excuses for his behavior during a championship boxing match in Las Vegas. He already has a good chunk of Evander Holyfield's!

OLD SOULS
Butt-kicking Under Siege star STEVEN SEAGAL is the reincarnation of the revered 15th-century Tibetan lama Chung-rag Dorje? 'Tis so, declared a Buddhist monastery in India. In other matters spiritual, somewhat lapsed Catholic Madonna is leading the Hollywood stampede back to the 13th century and an esoteric, mystical branch of Judaism called Kabbalah.

HEY, JUST DROP BY
World leaders pop up in the oddest places. First, 12,500 feet up in the Arizona sky! "I'm a new man," said former PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH, whose sky dive at age 72 fulfilled a promise to jump out of a plane other than his Navy bomber, shot down by the Japanese in 1944. THE CLINTONS turned up at comic ROBIN WILLIAMS'S San Francisco mansion and a birthday party for his mom. Toasted Hillary: "Life begins at 75." But it could end earlier if lived on pizza, so 66-year-old former Soviet leader MIKHAIL GORBACHEV—soon to be seen in a Pizza Hut commercial—stuck to caviar and vodka while dining at the L.A. home of actor KEVIN COSTNER.

PROVING HIS METAL
PAT BOONE traded his white bucks for black leather on his heavy-metal album, In a Metal Mood: No More Mr. Nice Guy. "I've found there's something really nice about OZZY OSBOURNE," he told New York magazine.

THAT'S A WRAD, ER, RAD SHEET
CHUCK NORRIS—TV's Walker Texas Ranger and a reserve officer for the Terrell, Texas, police department—stayed in character to help arrest 67 accused cocaine dealers in a November drug crackdown. Asked one: "Is this a movie?"