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Dear W.J.I.L.,

I have lots of money. Daddy wants to invest it in pork bellies, but those are grody. Is there anything more wholesome I can invest in?

Christina Aguilera

Dear Tina,

You've already demonstrated your savvy by coming for us to help. We are among the world's foremost brokers of worldly knowledge. And knowledge, of course, is money. What is money but nature's way of rewarding the smartest?

Here are some tips to help you out. If all else fails, just remember that trade margins are much like your own tube tops: the skimpier, the better.

  1. Stay abreast of the financial trade. Many publications exist to help you sort out the more esoteric points, and help you decide what's worth the risk.

    For instance, People Magazine devotes an entire issue each year to the world's 50 most beautiful IPOs. Selected CEOs and Chairmen of the Board pose in tasteful, low-cut DKNY attire. Beside each photo are fascinating notes about how these men achieved their dreams, and how much kelp they utilize - internally and externally - to stay in fighting trim.

    People's list is more selective than the Fortune 500, but it's double-edged. Success does breed success. However, many photogenic IPOs are passed over simply because they're not well-known. Finally, it's suspicious that Amazon.com has won the title of Most Beautiful IPO for the last three years running.

    Other publications dig even deeper than People. Esquire runs a monthly feature entitled Mergers We Love. The most recent issue, which spotlit ABC and Disney, drew such a response that a dramatic miniseries based on it is now in the works. The title? Touched By a Mickey.

    Rumor has it that Julia Roberts is slated to play the feisty, flighty ABC, and Richard Gere will complement her as the jaded, heart-of-gold Disney. (Note: this puts to rest earlier rumors of a project titled Look Who's Merging Now. Costars Travolta and Alley were willing to merge, but Alley supposedly balked when asked to be a dummy corporation through which Bruce Willis would be laundered).

  2. For those who play it safe, there are always IRAs and CDs. Occasionally a crossover will meet with success, such as the Irish Republican Army's release of its EP Irish Eyes Are Flying.

    However, for those who desire quick returns, there's a better way to fly. Welcome to the elite world of supermodel speculation.

    Every day, trillions of dollars worth of supermodels are traded around the world - ten times the amount of trade in actual goods and services. (This is the reason models are anorexic: to ease shipping and handling).

    However, values fluctuate wildly. A Daniela Pestova kneecap that trades for ten Angie-Everhart toes at the market's opening may only be worth five at close.

    A small group of transnational brokers have come to understand the fluctuations in relative supermodel value, and have grown incredibly rich as a result. When everyone went hog wild for Estonian supermodels - and lost their shirts - these men hedged their bets on good old Transcaucus girls. And won big.

    Some complain that this type of speculation results in capital flight. Entire nations are stripped of their models. For example, Japan is in crisis. Its population of naked anime girls has flowed en masse to the basements of American high-school sophomores. Top scientists are attempting to deal with the crisis by crossbreeding the Precious Moments kids into a more doe-eyed and nubile form.

    However, this is a small price to pay - when weighed against the opportunity for a small group of transnational corporations to become even richer at everyone's expense.

    Tina, you yourself are insufficiently lanky to be traded in the supermodel market. But that's all to the good. The riches you acquire will have no taint of insider trading.

  3. Avoid investing in new religions. Many startups look strong, but this is due solely to initial appropriation of believers' worldly goods. Unless some type of pyramid scheme is used, the well quickly runs dry. Most new messiahs aren't savvy enough to collect their followers' trailers and start profitable "retirement communities".

    Many bemoan the fact that they didn't get in on the ground floor of today's major religions, like Coke and Microsoft. However, we forget that their success was far from certain.

    Christianity began as a dream in its parents' garage. Despite early prophecies of world dominion, only infusions of government-issue gold and myrrh kept it solvent. In fact Christianity's original tenets included the renunciation of worldly goods - hardly the goal of a serious investor.

    The balance tipped with Martin Luther. He began a process of stock splitting within Christianity that made even modest investors wealthy. With sects splitting faster and becoming more numerous, believers could now operate within a comfortable safety margin. And by buying into a local franchise like Southern Baptism, investors could take advantage of overall company assets while maintaining a degree of independence. Stockholder confidence soared, and Christianity's place in the Fortune 500 became assured.

    Again, this story is the exception. Most such stories begin with salvation, but end in shattered dreams and confiscated AK-47s.

  4. You probably want to invest your cash (and plastic) in something solid. If so, look no further than celebrity marriages.

    After two to three years of empty hell, a lifetime of monthly alimony is almost guaranteed. When a couple splits, stockholders normally demand funds for lifestyle maintenance.

    And that's just the beginning. Most Hollywood marriages have at least a two-for-one split, if not a three-way. And emotional difficulties only increase celebrity value. Be warned, however, that overvaluation and resulting backlash can occur, as with Pamela Lee's recent divorce from her chest. (Tommy Lee is rumored to have got half for lifestyle maintenance, but the damage was done).

We hope this helps fill the financial gap left by your high-school bake sales. The old Eighties fad of quick wealth is now retro cool. And no one should understand better than yourself, Tina, the value of milking a fad to death.

- What Jail Is Like

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