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Call me paranoid, but my first reaction, upon learning about the dead sheep being found in treetops in New Zealand, was that something unusual was going on.

I found out about this thanks to alert reader Steven Moe, who sent me an article from The Press of Christchurch, New Zealand, concerning "the discovery of several dead sheep high in the trees of Tunnicliffe Forest."Right away I said to myself: "Hmm."

I base this statement on the well-known fact that sheep are not tree-dwelling animals. Zoologically, sheep are classified in the same family as cows: Animals That Stand Around And Poop.

On very rare occasions, a single sheep or cow will climb a tree in an effort to escape a fierce natural predator such as a wolf or (around lunchtime) Luciano Pavarotti.

But The Press article states that "four or five decomposing sheep were high in the branches." That is too many sheep to be explained by natural causes.

Which leads us to the obvious explanation; namely, supernatural causes.

I realize that many of you laugh at stories of the paranormal. "Ha ha," you say.

But the truth is that the world is full of strange phenomena that cannot be explained by the laws of logic or science. Dennis Rodman is only one example.

There are many other documented cases of baffling supernatural occurrences. Consider these examples:

- Early in the morning of Oct. 8, 1991, Florence A. Snegg of Uvula, Mich., was having an extremely vivid dream in which her son, Russell, was involved in a terrible automobile accident. Suddenly she was awakened by the ringing of her telephone. On the line was a Missouri state trooper, calling long distance to remind Snegg that she had never had children.

- On the afternoon of March 13, 1993, Winchester B. Fleen of Toad Sphincter, Ark., was abducted by hostile, large-brained beings who drilled holes in his head, probed him with giant needles, pumped chemicals into his body, took samples of his organs and removed most of his bodily fluids before they found out that he did not have health insurance, at which point they released him back into the hospital waiting room.

- On the morning of July 3, 1994, 7-year-old Jason Toastwanker fell off his tricycle, hit his head and was knocked out. When he regained consciousness, he spoke to his parents IN FLUENT GERMAN. This did not surprise them, because they were Germans and this happened in Germany. What surprised them was that, before the accident, he had cleaned up his room WITHOUT BEING ASKED.

- On Feb. 12 of this year, Thelma Crumpet-Scone of New York City purchased a Whopper at Burger King; when she started to eat it, she bit her own finger, causing a painful red mark for several minutes. Incredibly, she decided that this was TOTALLY HER FAULT, and she DID NOT SUE ANYBODY.

Impossible, you say? Perhaps so, but all of these incidents, along with hundreds more that have not occurred to me yet, have been thoroughly documented by the Institute for Documenting Things Thoroughly.

The lesson is this: Before you say something is "impossible," you would be wise to remember the old saying: "Truth is stranger than fiction, especially when `truth' is being defined by the O.J. Simpson defense team."

And thus when you consider the New Zealand tree-sheep article, the question you must ask yourself is: "How can I, keeping an open mind, best explain what happened?"

The answer is: "Read the rest of the article, you moron."

It turns out that the sheep had fallen from a helicopter. The pilot had been transporting - I am not making up this quote - "some ewes that had died from sleepy sickness," and the wire that was holding the sheep under the helicopter broke.

Incredibly, the pilot had been warned about this the night before in a telephone call from a Missouri state trooper.

No, I made that last part up. But the rest of the story is true, which raises the following alarming questions for those who live in, or plan to visit, New Zealand:

- Is it a common practice there to transport deceased sheep via helicopter?

- If one of these sheep were to land on you, would you get "sleepy sickness"?

- What about mad-cow disease?

For the record, tree sheep are not the only bizarre phenomenon to occur lately in New Zealand.

I have here a document, sent in by alert reader Gretl Collins, stating that a researcher in New Zealand has discovered a new, improved method for growing tomatoes hydroponically. ("Hydroponically" comes from the Greek words "hydro," meaning "a," and "ponically," meaning "way of growing tomatoes.")

According to the document, the researcher has found that he gets excellent results when he grows the tomatoes in: brassieres. I am not making this up.

This leads to still MORE questions, including:

- Does this give new meaning to the expression "Get a load of those tomatoes"?

- Would it be tasteless to make a joke here about growing zucchini in athletic supporters?

- What about Mad Tomato Disease?

There's probably nothing to worry about, but until we get some answers, I think everybody should panic for a while and then get some sleep. I myself am suddenly feeling VERY sleepy, so I'm just going to put my head down and . . .