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  INCOMING! OCTOBER 11, 2004.  


Happy Columbus Day, everybody! Yes, today's the day to honor Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America because 500 years ago, three ships from Italy landed in the Bahamas and declared it India in the name of Spain. Actually, he landed tomorrow, October 12, but holidays are best when they hug weekends, so it's fitting that we bury the true facts about Colombo: The Man, who committed unspeakable atrocities and was whole hemispheres off-course, and instead celebrate the false date of Chris Columbus: The Myth. That's the guy we all know and love: the director of Home Alone and Harry Potter, two franchises which have grossed more than a billion dollars.

Meanwhile, as America celebrates Columbus Day, our neighbors to the North are chowing down on Butterball and cranberry sauce … because it's


Canadian Thanksgiving! Canada doesn't give a squat about Columbus, because you can argue that San Salvador is America, but there ain't no way it's Canada. Plus, they probably give credence to the Vikings who came first, and the Eskimos and Indians who were here to begin with. So, co-opting yet another great piece of Americana, they choose the second Monday of October to give thanks.

Not only are Canadian magazine prices a buck higher than in the U.S., but Canadian Thanksgiving is only a three-day weekend to our four. Of the many ways in which America kicks Canada's maple-leaf ass, the post-Thanksgiving Friday is our biggest coup: A free day off with no holiday chores to neglect, and the frantic spending of a dump truck's worth of cash is encouraged. What could possibly capture the fanfare of America's spirit better than a lazy day of digestion and debt?

Special bonus fact: Also on this day in 1975, "Saturday Night Live" was first broadcast with guest host George Carlin, and Andy Kaufman did his "Mighty Mouse" bit for the first time. And without Columbus or S.N.L., we'd have no Father Guido Sarducci.




Happy 34th birthday to actor and former Tiger Beat cover boy Kirk Cameron, best known for his role as a kid inhabited by Dudley Moore's brain in the gripping psychological thriller Like Father, Like Son. How's Kirk spending his special day? Spreading the unreserved love of God.

Yes, after starring in Left Behind: The Movie and Left Behind II: Tribulation Force (not kidding), which probably sit beside "Marie Osmond's Merry Christmas" (also featuring K.C.) in George W. Bush's entertainment center, Kirk Cameron has finally cast off the corruptive influences of Boner Stabone and embraced the Flanders-like clean living of mustachioed evangelist, Ray Comfort. Cameron'n'Comfort now run a ministry called The Way of the Master. While it sounds like a chop-socky kung fu flick that Tarantino's itching to slap his name on, the enterprise is a do-it-yourself


proselytizer that distributes preachy instructional videos in which Kirk smiles a lot and goes door-to-door hugging strangers like he's rolling on two hits of pharmaceutical-grade Ecstasy. The WOTM Web site has a virtual quiz to determine Are You a Good Person? (First two questions: High-speed connection/low-speed; Christian/other.) Seriously, take this quiz. It's a gas.

Kirk follows in the born-again footsteps of lovable schmuck Willie Aames (a.k.a. "Charles in Charge"'s Buddy Lembeck), who, having abnegated all impure thoughts of Gwendolyn Pierce, now preaches holy heroism to children as the caped crusader, Bible Man. If you're keen on the word of God and conflicted about that commandment against the worship of graven images, Bible Man action figures are available on eBay real cheap.

Anyway, fans of Kirk can take heart: this Sunday night, ABC will run "Growing Pains II: Home Equity", the long-unawaited reunion of the Seaver clan. Will Mike Seaver make amends for his youthful indiscretions? And Is Stinky Sullivan a Good Person?

[Interesting side note: Kirk Cameron is one of only three members of the Screen Actors Guild voting for Bush. (Ron Silver and Arnold Schwarzenegger are the other two; Willie Aames cannot vote, as he spent six years in prison for garroting two hitchhikers with fishing wire in 1993, after getting fired from the set of Zapped Again!)*]

*Not true.




Today is the official start of the N.H.L. season in America-2, the parallel universe where people only play sports for love of the game and there's no such thing as ongoing contract negotiations or collective bargaining agreements. Meanwhile, in America-Prime (this universe right here, warts and all), the N.H.L.'s new season is postponed indefinitely, and its players are begrudgingly scoring goals for the International Ice Hockey Federation, which nobody is paying attention to because nobody cares that much about hockey to begin with, much less second-rate scab hockey. That kid who passed out during a spelling bee got more ESPN coverage than any hockey player ever will.

More importantly, in both utopian and dystopian alternate universes, tonight marks BUSH v. KERRY III: The Final Smackdown. The general consensus is that Kerry mopped the floor with Bush after the


first debate, but the President squeaked through with a draw in the second debate (which is the equivalent of a runaway victory, according to Republican electoral math). Tonight in Arizona, the two contenders for Leader of the Free World Just Before the End of Fucking Days will debate the shit out of each other in a no-holds-barred, last-man-standing death match. It's like a Wild West showdown combined with "Celebrity Boxing": Expect the two men to enter opposite ends of the stage at dusk while tumbleweeds roll down the stadium seating and the moderator whistles the ominous theme to Sergio Leone's spaghetti-Western trilogy; only both of them will have ads for online gambling sites stenciled on their backs.

I swear, if you're not drooling and bouncing with anticipation before tonight's debate, seriously, I just don't want to talk to you, OK?




Since there's no hockey coverage to dilute today's post-debate punditry (Bush won), here's some highlights from yesteryear which may be fondly recalled:

Middle-agers and Kevin Costner fans (redundant, yes) will remember that on this day in 1962, the Cold War kicked off the North American leg of its world tour with the first of 13 panicky days which became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. It all started when a U-2 spy plane flying over San Cristobal snapped photographs of Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballistic missiles being aimed at apple pie and Mom. (Baseball was safe; Fidel's a Yankee fan.) Luckily, the days when Americans struggled in anxious fear and jittery despair while the palpable certainty of imminent destruction by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of irrational enemies loomed over our social consciousness are long, long behind us. America! Safer than ever in 2004.

Seniors and aerodynamics aficionados might


remember that on this day in 1947, a maverick U.S. Air Force pilot without the right stuff broke the sound barrier. Yup, Chuck Yeager and his Bell X-1 aircraft flew quicker than the speed of sound, a staggering technical advancement that baffled rocket scientists eventually attributed to the fortuitous placement of the letter X in the model name, thus birthing eXtreme.

The Bell X-1 was the first product to harness the awesome power of X, which today has been sapped of its potency thanks to exploitive marketing. One might imagine that a plane shooting across the sky before its noise could catch it would be an awesome spectacle to behold -- but let me tell ya, I live in close proximity to J.F.K. Airport, and the sonic boom following the France-bound Concorde was a deafening pain in the ass twice a day, rattling glassware and teeth, and momentarily eclipsing the audio of televisions, phones and everything else. I'm so not impressed by the ability to race faster than sound waves. Really, what's the hurry?

Finally, today in 1987, an 18-month-old baby somehow fell in a well in Midland, Texas, and the whole planet stopped its normal operations to wait on pins and needles until she was safely hoisted out 58 hours later. Miraculously, Baby Jessica emerged unharmed, and the parents who let a baby toddle near open shafts weren't sent to prison for gross stupidity. Because of Baby Jessica, now there are strict laws that dictate open-well placement and security, and all babies must be tethered by a length of bungee cord no less than 30 feet.

Today's history lessons are brought to you by the films 13 Days, The Right Stuff, and Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure (made for TV).




This evening's sunset cracks a bottle of champagne on the hull of the S.S. Ramadan, the joyous but solemn month of tolerating hunger pains during daylight hours to prove your self-control and give thanks to almighty Allah. If you're a Muslim-American who follows Siyam, the fourth pillar of Islam (fasting), but allows the yummy goodness of breakfast pork to infiltrate your otherwise strict halal diet, today's a good day to try Burger King's


new cardiac aggravator, the Double Croissan'wich®: a scrambled egg, a sausage, two slices of American cheese, and 3½ slices of crispy bacon on a butter-soaked croissant. If that doesn't sound like a gastrointestinal orgasm, brother, I don't know what's wrong with you. The new double-stuffed meal clocks in at a slim 640 calories with 46 grams of delicious fat, so just three or four of these double-wide loads should carry you through the whole hungry month.

What, you're on Atkins/the Zone/that South Beach thing? Fear not: Burger King loves you still. There's also a "low-carb" option, in which the loose, greasy contents come in a plastic clamshell instead of a croissant. This breadless oil slick contains just 490 calories, but loses 30 percent of its yummy points. [Note to self: The Ramadiet -- carb-free halal meals for health-conscious Muslims will sell through the roof!]

Anyway, whatever you choose to gorge on pre-fast, the next time you eat lunch, America will have already decided its next president (Floridian high jinks notwithstanding). Happy Ramadan, everybody!


Josh Abraham is an editor at Yankee Pot Roast.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.