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Castro Death Meter: Fidel Deader Than Jesus, Less Dead Than Pope Benedict

This morning, we woke up and hopped into the shower as we always do before pulling on a dirty t-shirt and pajama pants and plopping down at our filthy computer to make fun of things.

This time, however, our delousing was interrupted by a divine vision: somehow Mrs. Riptide's stray hairs -- normally scattered around the bathroom -- had miraculously coalesced into the shape of a long, scruffy beard on the shower tiles.

Like the bat signal against the clouds, la barba en el baño was an instantly recognizable message from above. So rather than risk heavenly ire, we treat you to a special papal visit installment of the Castro Death Meter.

This edition of the Death Meter finds Fidelito in high spirits. As Cuba prepares for the arrival of Pope Benedict on Monday, el comandante sits in a plush purple highchair smirking and strumming his fingertips together. The scratching of his undead dedos makes a sound like crickets chirping for help.

"Finally!" Castro bellows. "A visiting dignitary deader than I am."

Surprisingly, close analysis by Riptide's crack team of scientists (and guest theologians) finds that the strongman is onto something. Here are the facts.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz:
>Age: 85
Born: Birán, Cuba
Occupation: retired dictator-in-residence

How dead is Fidel? 92%
How dead is that? Castro has so outlived his expiration date that bits have him have started falling off in his morning coffee. As a result, Cuban doctors have been forced to gradually replace his body parts with those of younger human beings. They quickly realized, however, that his blood type (Authoritarian negative) meant that only organs from other dictators would do. He now has the tiny, blue-suede feet of Kim Jong-Il, the ring-laden jazz fingers of Muammar Gaddafi, and the rather smelly left kidney of Idi Amin.

Yet, according to a flyer prepared by the Cuban government for Benedict's visit, Fidel is still full of enough life that he swells up to full size when left over night in water. He recently struck out Albert Pujols with two pitches, officials say. After shaving his beard, he successfully impersonated Mitt Romney for several hours at an Illinois fundraiser. It was only when his four-hour tirade against Obama was suspiciously invigorating that his cover was blown. And he remains a world champion wet-willier.

Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger):
Age: 84
Born: Marktl, Germany
Occupation: Leader of the Catholic Church

How dead is the Pope? 93%
How dead is that? El Papa has had better days. He was the oldest pope elected in nearly 300 years to begin with. Then, this past December, newspapers around the world predicted that he was knocking on heaven's door. The Associated Press sketched a portrait of the pontiff as remarkably similar to our grandpa: "weak" and "seemingly too tired to engage with what (visitors) were saying." He now uses a mechanical platform to wheel him along St. Peters' Basilica. And he's started inserting random words like "fudge" and "meatballs" into the middle of mass.

So, unless, the Pope arrives in Havana wearing a holy jumpsuit and bedazzled crucifix, we're scoring this one for Fidel. Castro may be consumed by fantasies of nuclear fire washing around the earth, but at least he does more than mumble in seven languages.

There's a turd in el comandante's custard, however. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans are expected to flock to Revolution Square to hear the Pope speak. And while one can argue that Benedict is just the medium for God's voice, his visit points out that the Catholic Church may very well be more popular than the regime in Cuba.

Which means that after 2,000 plus years, Jesus Christ has still got enough juice to motivate the masses. That makes him waaay less dead than Castro. Call it a DKO: divine knock-out.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.