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  INCOMING! JUNE 21, 2004.  


Roger, Houston. Today is going to be a banner day for lovers of space and enterprise (and possibly the Spaceship Enterprise). If you


recall, a big deal was made the other week about a Venus Solar eclipse. The "amazing" phenomenon closely resembled a dot floating across the sun … and you won't be able to see it again for another eight years. Holy mackerel.

Anyway, today, the world's first commercially manned space vehicle is scheduled to launch. The name of the vehicle is called "SpaceShipOne," soon to be followed by "SpaceShipTwo," the low-carb


space ship. Afterwards it'll probably be followed by "SpaceShipThree," which will hastily be changed to "ClassicSpaceShip." This is the point where comedians begin making jokes about corporate logo space being bought on the space ships, but honesty, I thought that they were already doing that.

The great thing is that the public is able to view the takeoff and landing of the flight, which is good news for people who previously had been cruelly denied close proximity to giant booster rockets by the jerks over at NASA. One of the program directors hailed this as "a new, low-cost era in space travel." Because, clearly, one area where you want to scrimp and save is space travel.

The other co-founder of the project is Microsoft dude Paul Allen, whose investment firm, Vulcan Ventures, definitely wins the prize for "company with the name that most sounds like its secretly building an evil weather controlling machine." Word on the street is that Hank Scorpio can't wait to get on board.



Today, Bill Clinton manages to piss off all political parties and the ghost of Ronald Reagan by stealing the spotlight with the release of


his autobiography, My Life, for which he was paid approximately eleventeen katrillion dollars. Bloggers around the country want to know why they're not as handsomely reimbursed to write overlong, hazily flattering descriptions of their own lives.

America's first black president, who is notoriously shy, will reluctantly promote his book. Word on the street is that he will probably go the JT Leroy route, hanging in the back of bookstores during readings, wearing a wig and sunglasses, while


Courtney Love or Winona Ryder read for him.

Speaking of which, the saxophone was patented this day in history, which would pave the way for a series of sizzling solos in Billy Ocean songs.

Also Tuesday, at the Hague, the defense resumes its case for Slobodan Milosevic, which prompts the world to say "That trial is still going on?" I am still secretly hoping for a gay marriage between the war criminal and current Illinois governor Rod Blagojevic, which would of course prompt the tabloid headline, "Blago hearts Slobo."

In addition, Tuesday features some important births, such as Billy Wilder, Ed Bradly, Kris Kristofferson, the Lindbergh Baby, Graham Greene, Cyndi Lauper and, most important, Carson Daly.

Also, if you are in England, Tuesday you'll be celebrating the Feast of St. Alban. Yep.



It's Miller time for Republicans, as they clap their hands in glee while Democrats slap their heads in frustration for the Green Party National


Convention, meeting today in Milwaukee. I bet you thought I was going to make a Laverne and Shirley joke here, and I tell you it's been done. If you've been following environmental news lately, it's sort of ironic that the Greens are meeting in Milwaukee, which is in a bit of hot water. Seems its neighbors to the South in Chicago are pointing fingers at the cheeseheads for dumping toxic waste in Lake Michigan, resulting in the closing of beaches for high counts of e.coli (or, as the scientists say, "poop") in the water. Anyway, Nader-haters will be sure to continue their diatribe against the third party candidate, calling him egotistical, which is an ugly adjective surely never before leveled at a politician.




Another convention meets Wednesday, but one everyone can get behind: The National Square Dance Convention kicks off in Denver. You may make fun, but I know that you were forced to learn square dancing in gym class in school and you can probably do-se-do better than you can do the electric-slide, so grab your partner. Not there, you pervert. If you're lucky, maybe you'll get to dance with convention organizer Lettie Reed, but she will slap you silly if you try anything fresh.

While you're jetsetting from Wisconsin to Colorado, here are some crappy TV shows on tonight that you will not mind missing:

--T.H.E.M. (which stands for, I shit you not, "Totally Hidden Extreme Magic") (NBC)
-- Quintuplets (FOX)
--Two hours of Seinfeld reruns on TBS.



Nader has announced that he will no longer be performing his old songs and instead will be focusing on his 'new stuff,' so if you are in


Milwaukee today and itching to hear some tunes, Summerfest starts. This defeats all other summer mega-concerts; it's the only one where you can procure cheese curds, cream puffs and fried Snickers bars with ease. Everyone will be too fat to start fires or inappropriately touch girls in the mosh pit. Britney Spears' performance has been cancelled, but the chunks of cartilage that have been removed from her knee are scheduled to perform some Britney covers.

Is that cow skull you bought in Phoenix not thrilling you the way it used to? Check out the auction at Guernsey's in New York on Thursday, where you can bid on dinosaur bits. Everyone knows that little boys love dinosaurs, so the biggest bids are expected to be made by this guy.

Happy birthday to Solange Knowles, much-envied


kid sister of the little-known Beyonce. Beyonce! If you want to break into show biz, kid, get a name people can pronounce.

Today is also the birthday of New Jersey. Tons of great people have hailed from the Garden State, but rather than write about them, I present a Jersey joke for you:

Q: What's the difference between garbage and a Jersey Girl?
A: Garbage gets picked up.



A little-known movie called "Fahrenheit 9/11" opens today. Nobody will probably see it, so I will summarize it for you. An obese, Monday-


hating wiseacre cat annoys his human companions, eats lasagna, and cracks wise about obesity, Mondays, humans and lasagna.

Sure to get a group discount at the movie are the Promise Keepers, who kick off a meeting this weekend in Dallas. I hate the Promise Keepers. Last year, I had to go to Seattle for a business trip, and I needed a ride to the airport and they were like, "Yeah, I'll do it" and I said, "Really? Promise?" Long story short, I was out $30 because GUESS WHO BAILED ON ME. Promise Keepers? More like


Empty Promise Makers.

Happy Birthday to George Orwell, who used to bug friends by claiming that the word "Orwellian" was about him. Yeah, right. Speaking of vanity, happy birthday also to Carly Simon. Thanks for the song.

If you are a Satanist, Happy Antichristmas. If you are a Christian: only six months until Christmas!!


Claire Zulkey is the author of Girls! Girls! Girls! and runs She lives in Chicago.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table. Writers will be rotated, and if you're interested in contributing one, email Will Leitch at