Jacko hobbles into court, claiming spider bite. The tarantula-loving King of Pop mugs for the cameras, says he recalls few of the details of the 1999 concert deal over which he's being sued

After a two-week recess in the civil trial against him, Michael Jackson returned to court on Tuesday, where his appearance continued to seem more newsworthy than his testimony. He arrived at the courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif., on crutches and wearing only one shoe. He told reporters that he had awakened to find his left foot too swollen to fit in a shoe. ”It’s a spider bite,” he said, according to Reuters. ”If I showed it to you, you’d be shocked. It hurts very much right now as I speak.”

The bite did not come from one of the tarantulas he keeps as pets on his nearby Neverland Ranch, the King of Pop said, but rather a small spider that had invaded his home while the compound was beng fumigated. ”I love tarantulas. This was a little one.”

At least one entomologist, Rick Vetter of the University of California at Riverside, doubted Jackson’s spider-bite claim, calling it ”a bunch of crap.” He told the New York Post that the only poisonous spider crawling around Jackson’s neighborhood would be a black widow, whose bite does not cause swelling. ”Jackson has no idea what he’s talking about,” Vetter said. ”I want to see the spider.”

Jackson’s time on the stand, where he’s defending himself against promoter Marcel Avram’s $21 million breach-of-contract suit over two canceled 1999 concerts, was punctuated by the singer’s mugging for cameras (he made silly faces and used his fingers to make devil horns over his head) and his repeated insistence that he couldn’t recall key details of his deal with Avram. Asked by Avram’s attorney if he suffered from memory problems, Jackson responded, ”Not that I can recall.”

Jackson even said he couldn’t recall Howard Rubenstein, the well-known celebrity publicist who once represented him. Asked about Jackson’s testimony by the New York Daily News, Rubenstein said, ”I met him many times. Maybe he’s under a lot of stress and forgot the relationship.”