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Dear Kropotkin,
Is the Mars Pathfinder mission a bargain, or what?
John Carter, Durham

Dear John,
At a mere $260 million, the Mars mission does indeed seem attractively priced. After all, didn't Kevin Costner's "Waterworld" also come in at around the $200 million mark. And there wasn't a single dusty red rock in it!

As for the scientist who commented that receiving the data from the space probe was like being "a kid in a candy store," fiscal conservatives should remind him that a Mars bar still costs only 45 cents.

Dear Kropotkin,
Haven't I seen the plot of the John Woo film "Face/Off" before?
Film Buff, Raleigh

Dear Buff,
Yes, indeed. Woo's innovative special effects are just window dressing on a re-tread of the 1992 presidential elections in which, as you recall, George Bush won election by trading faces with Bill Clinton.

Speaking of summer blockbusters, did you notice David Price's countenance on the display of aliens being monitored in "Men in Black"?

Unfortunately, we'll have to recruit someone other than Will Smith to blow Price away in next year's elections. Of course, if Price, like MiB's aliens, had to live in Manhattan, it's unlikely that he'd venture out of the financial district-for him, that would truly be alien territory.

Dear Kropotkin,
Are you really Dan Coleman?
Curious, Chapel Hill

Dear Curio,
Was Mark Twain "really" Samuel Clemens? Was Lenin "really" Vladimir Ulyanov? Is Dick Morris "really" Bill Clinton? Is Knucklehead "really" Al Gore? Is Superman "really" Clark Kent? Is the artist formerly known as Prince "really" Prince?

In reality, I am Kropotkin. In that same reality, Coleman is off to Iowa City. I wish him well.

Dear Readers,
This will be the last "Ask Kropotkin" column appearing in the Prism. Thank you all for your kind attentions. Thanks to the Prism volunteers for making this space available. And, of course, thanks to all the politicians who just aren't particularly amusing without some help.

Dear Kropotkin,
Aha! So, Coleman's off to Iowa and this is the last "Ask Kropotkin." Dismiss it as chance? Merely a coincidence? No way!
Gotcha, Carrboro

Dear Gotch,
Don't you have some other article to read now? Bye-bye.

("Kropotkin" refuses to reveal whether he is inspired by Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist prince, or by Kropotkin the Village Idiot, a character in the Woody Allen film "Love & Death," or if it makes any difference.)

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