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  INCOMING! SEPTEMBER 27, 2004.  
   
   
 

Monday

Time to swing your telescope away from the bedroom window across the street and point it toward the heavens -- removing the lens cap this time -- to see the glory of the Harvest Moon. Yes, the Harvest Moon of song and legend arrives for two nights only, and tickets are still available. So take a good, long look at the only real estate within human eyesight that the administration is not currently planning to drill for oil.

The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox and is so monikered because farmers could get in some extra work bringing in the crops thanks to nature's nite lite. But armies from ancient times to the present have also used

 
 
 

the opportunity to wage war, as with Operation Harvest Moon, in which U.S. forces attempted to drive the notorious 1st Viet Cong Regiment from the Que Son Valley, in I Corps' Quang Tin province in 1969. Meanwhile, in Alabama, George W. Bush was launching his own Operation Harvest Moon. Details are sketchy, but we believe it involved several bottles of tequila and the lowering of his pants toward passing motorists from a highway overpass.

For a different sort of stargazing, try the Monday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. Once a must-see showdown between franchises directed by megalomaniacal owners who would sell their own children to win, now it's … nothing much, thanks to Paul Tagliabue's parity concept. Joe Gibbs and Bill Parcells were once the most feared coaches in the land, but now they're presiding over a game that more resembles electric football, where the players vibrate, run in circles and eventually congregate on the sidelines without having accomplished much. Even the legendary team mascots, the cowboy and Indian, will be in a bar downtown during kickoff buying each other shots.

 

 
 

Tuesday

A brave group of scientific entrepreneurs has set up the world's first Penis Museum (officially known as the Institute of Phallology) in Reykjavik, Iceland, to which I say: What took you so long?

Phallology, according to Museum officials, is an ancient art, until recently neglected in the scientific disciplines. Those bastards.

So you've gathered the family and trekked out to the Museum ... what can you expect? Well, a gallery containing more than 100 penises, for one thing. All the mysteries of male genitalia are revealed to the public at large, including phalluses of almost all land and sea mammals that can be

 
 
 

found in Iceland, such as whales, seals, goats and lesser-known species such as the aquatic unicorn Equus Fabulosus Aquaticus, which we have seen, and let's just say … it's not all that fabulous, considering the hype. Also advertised is something called an Icelandic Elf, and the "Christmas Lad," both of which make it clear that if Michael Jackson ever jumps bail we'll know exactly where to look.

There is also this odd, disturbing note on the Museum's Web site: The museum is also expecting the donation of a set of male human genitals at some point in the future to complete the catalogue...

If it's you, and you're reading this, get those things in the mail pronto.

Never in our history has there been such a fuss over the penis. Chances are, your e-mail box at this very moment is clogged with ads for penis enhancement or some Viagra-type medication. Then of course there is the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, which is for some reason circling my block every 15 minutes in every dream I've been having for the past two months. Spike strips won't stop it -- nothing will. But enough about me.

At the Museum, there is also an art gallery on the subject of the penis, and a selection of "practical utensils." When we go we're heading straight to the gift shop, where the items for sale will likely make the trip worth what we paid for passage on the Greenpeace Orca rescue ship. So I'd like to remind my friends to watch their mailboxes, you'll be getting a postcard you won't soon forget.

 

 
 

Wednesday

How fitting that on this, National Women's Health and Fitness Day, we have the debut of the ABC reality TV show "Wife Swap." The "naughty new reality series" is based on the popular British TV show of the same name, in which two wives trade husbands and families for ... a day, a week? The press release is not clear.

What is clear is that this is a blatant example of

 
 
 

"bait and switch," in which we are led to believe that there will be hot, groovy sexual activity in an Austin Powers vein and instead are presented with nothing but cooking and cleaning in a hostile environment. The everyday comparisons to my marriage here are endless.

Billed as an honest look inside the American family, rules are that the new mom must operate by the rules of her new family for the first half of the show, then will be able to go by her own rules for the second half. Will hilarity ensue? Acrimony? Litigation? Personally I have fantasies about what would happen if Carol Brady switched places with Shirley Partridge for a week, but those are just fantasies, and you can't prove a thing. The fact that Robert Reed turns out to have been gay doesn't make it any easier to explain to my therapist.

 

 
  Thursday

"Look, an argument isn't just saying 'No it isn't.' "
"It can be."
"No it can't!"
-- Monty Python

It's the first Presidential debate, to be held at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., which begs the question -- haven't these people suffered enough?

Actually, the last hurricane to touch down in this section of Florida was Andrew, in 1992. But the ill wind that will strike on Thursday is much more potentially devastating. I know people who chose to dig in and ride out Andrew but are fleeing for the duration of Bush and Kerry's visit.

Of course, this won't be a debate at all. Funk & Wagnall's describes "debate" as "A formal contest in argumentation." What will occur on Thursday, and twice more in October in St. Louis and Tempe, Ariz., are campaign infomercials in which the two candidates happen to be live in the same room. The only real arguments have already taken place between the respective campaign staffs and the networks, and the campaign staffs won. Among the rules: The candidates may not address each other directly, only rhetorically. ("I'm not naming any names, but it's rumored that my opponent humps geese. If he were here, I would ask him: Why do you molest fowl?"). Also, candidates may not approach or touch one another -- the age-old "no

 

 
 

rasslin" rule.

Make no mistake -- these questions will be softballs that Stephen Hawking could hit for triples. Not exactly stuff of the Harvard Debating Society, but then, neither side wants people to see how lacking their guy really is. The only candidates who could have handled themselves in a real debate have long ago been eliminated (Howard Dean, Al Sharpton, Dave Barry).

The evening's moderator will be Jim Lehrer, the Cowardly Lion of PBS, who weekly referees those ferocious free-for-alls between David Brooks and Mark Shields on The PBS Newshour. Like an attendee of a Dick Cheney campaign rally, the Independent Commission on Presidential Debates has been asked to sign a loyalty oath to the campaigns, promising they will not stray from the pre-ordained rules. So far the Commission has refused. But don't look for any wild ad-libbing from Lehrer, who exhibits all the rebellious moxie of the wooden soldiers from Babes In Toyland. Among other dictates are that the lecturns must be exactly 50 inches in height, which means that the candidates, if they choose, do not need to wear pants.

The funniest moment in the prelude to the spectacle so far has come from MSNBC's Chris Matthews, who predicted that the debates would be like "a courtroom showdown between the folksy, country defense attorney and the city prosecutor." Presumably he meant Bush in the Clarence Darrow role to Kerry's Matthew Brady, to which I say, "I knew Clarence Darrow. I saw 'Inherit the Wind.' George W. Bush is no Clarence Darrow."

Anyway, Encore is showing "The Hot Chick" with Rob Schneider that night, so if you tune in to the debate, let me know how it turned out.

 

 

Friday

If you're anywhere near the Comfort Inn in Edwardsville, Indiana today (coincidentally, I will be), stop in for a lecture by top UFO researcher Peter Davenport. It's in the evening, so you'll miss the continental breakfast, but it will still be worth the trip.

Davenport is Director of the National UFO Reporting Center, but has also worked as a commercial fisherman, a Russian translator in the Soviet Union, a fisheries observer aboard Soviet fishing vessels and a flight instructor. A native of St. Louis, he experienced his first UFO sighting over the St. Louis municipal airport in the summer of 1954, and he investigated his first UFO case during the summer of 1965 in Exeter, New


 

Hampshire. He has also served as the director of investigations for the Washington Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network.

A subject at the lecture will be the latest sighting reported to the National UFO Reporting Center, which occurred at 1830 hours (PDT) on Tuesday, Aug. 31 2004At approximately 1830 hrs. (PDT) on Tuesday, August 31, 2004. At that time the center began receiving reports of a bizarre looking object, which reportedly has been seen over FL, TN, KY, PA, NY, OH, NH, VT and Washington, D.C.. Some of the witnesses include a police officer, an astronomer (Ph.D), an experienced UFO investigator with MUFON, and several public employees.

The following depiction of the object was submitted by Kim Shaffer, MUFON State Director for eastern Tennessee: http://www.nuforc.org/CB040831A.jpg.

So if you're like me, you're going to want to show up at the Comfort Inn to find out what's up (limited free parking available across the street at Applebee's).

 

Rick Chandler owns many attractive ties.

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INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.