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  INCOMING! JANUARY 3, 2005.  
   
   
 

Monday

Now that the holidays are over, all the parties are done, all the drinks drunk and the food eaten, it's time to get back to work (or school, if you're pre-college). And now, all you face is darkness, cold and a gaping maw of weekdays until Memorial Day.

But, fear not. The holidays aren't completely over yet, for today is the newly established holiday of Christmas II, otherwise known as Mel Gibson's birthday. Forty-nine years ago today, Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson was born in Peekskill, N.Y. (he moved to Australia when he was young) to

 
 
 

a railroad brakeman father and a supposedly un-virginal mother. No word if there were mangers, kings or myrrh involved. Of course, we all know Mel for his directorial turn in the feel-good movie of 2004, The Passion of the Christ. But: Did you know that Gibson also appeared as an actor in more serious fare? A quick check of IMDB.com shows that Mel's had a quite extensive dramatic resume, from tense police dramas such as Lethal Weapons I through IV to psychological thrillers as What Women Want. All can be found on Netflix or your local video store. Be sure to check them out!

If you're Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or just hate Mel Gibson, you can alternately celebrate Festival of Sleep Day today. Just lie down, take a nap, and forget that this day even exists. You'll need your rest, anyway, to get ready for…

 

 
 

Tuesday

Tonight at 8, the FedEx Orange Bowl kicks off in Miami. Pitting the Sooners of Oklahoma against the Condoms of USC, the winner of the game wins the mythical national championship of Division 1-A college football. Remember the days when you used to wake up on New Years' Day at noon, just in time to skip the crappy Rose parade and get down to watching some high-quality college football? By the time your hangover finally cleared, around 10 p.m. or so, you knew who had won the championship. Well, that tradition has been shattered, all in the name of high TV ratings. Will anyone who has an actual job be awake at the end

   
 

of this thing? Hard to say. What we do know is that a lot of people are going to make money from this game, from the sponsors to NBC to the schools. Even the student-athletes are going to profit, inasmuch as playing in a big game in front of a huge audience is considered profit. They don't get paid to play; they can't even take a part-time job at Krispy Kreme without threatening their eligibility. Unfortunately, these poor suckers are forced to get their Hummers under the table (the SUVs, not the good kind).

Also today, the 109th Congress convenes for the first time. This is where President Bush will attempt to get some of the agenda that he feels the American public "mandated" him to implement, such as his permanent tax cut, tort reform, partial privatization of Social Security and changes to strengthen the Department of Homeland Security. What he won't try to push through Congress? Hmm… do the words "stem cell research" ring a bell? How 'bout the phrase "Arctic drilling ban"? Luckily, the phrase "gay marriage amendment" will probably not be uttered, either, since Bush won the election and doesn't need to worry about that can of worms.

Finally, in one of the oddities that make universe the fun place it is, two notables share today as a birthday: Sir Isaac Newton, the noted scientist who first demonstrated the notion that there is an earthly gravitational pull, and Sorrell Brooke, the noted actor who played Boss Hogg on "The Dukes of Hazzard."

 

 
 

Wednesday

Speaking of Isaacs, Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender on the classic series "The Love Boat," turns 57 today. For some reason, I always thought Isaac was always known by just his first name, or at the very least, by the occupational surname "The Bartender." But IMDB shows that the character's last name was "Washington." Huh. Go figure.

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (it's still hard to type that) gives his State of the State Address today. Even though the kind folks at The Black Table are not influential enough to obtain the

 
 
 

contents of that address, you can be pretty sure that it is going to contain the following phrases: "We will need to cut spending and all dat," "Diz state over here is de greatest state in da country," and "What we need in government are more cigar smokers and less girlie men." He'll also push his legislature to ratify any constitutional amendment to allow naturalized citizens to run for President, "not for me, but for upstanding citizens like Pamela Anderson. Now Pamela Anderson, dere's an ass I could pinch and everyding."

 

 
 

Thursday

Today, Congress is scheduled to ratify the results from the Electoral College. This is usually a formality, not well-attended by the Congressional body at large. But it sometimes does present an opportunity for a few desperate publicity-seeking congressmen to take a final stand, like when the contentious 2000 election was ratified. Here's hoping that some pain-in-the-ass congressman like Charles Rangel decides to protest by calling for a quorum, and an equally pain-in-the-ass senator (where's Chuck Schumer when you need him?) backs him up. It probably won't work, but it seems like it's the blue states' only hope right now.

 
 
 

 

On a lighter note, one of Hitler's cars, a Mercedes 770K, was sold at auction on this date in 1973. The amount paid for the car was $153,000, the most for any car sold at auction up to that point. Lord knows what it would go for if it were sold today. Imagine the eBay listing: "This is a 1934 Mercedes 770L. Very lightly used; only driven during parades, 5 MPH max. Manual steering and brakes. Cherry. Used by the most ruthless murderer in the Western world. You pick up the freight, approximately $20,000. PayPal accepted."

Finally, in yet another example of why the universe is a party, two Joey Adamses were born today: Joey Adams, the pussy-whipped husband of New York's favorite yenta, Cindy Adams (let's hope that in death he's finally getting the rest he deserves), and Joey Lauren Adams, who is best known for playing a lesbian in Kevin Smith's magnum opus Chasing Amy.

 

 

Friday

Today, the court-martial of Specialist Charles Graner, who is accused of mistreating prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, begins at Fort Hood, Texas. He is shown in a number of the now-infamous photos taken at the prison, pointing to and laughing at piles of naked Iraqi detainees. However, a fact that's almost as shocking as how he treated those prisoners was the fact that the 35-year-old reservist had a "personal relationship" with Spc. Lyndie England. Yes, that Lyndie England, the short-haired, grinning, cigarette smoking woman who is shown giving the thumbs-up next to a naked prisoner in one of the most famous photos

 
 

from Abu Ghraib. Every single woman in the country must have called their mothers when they found that out. "Lyndie England's got a boyfriend and I don't! What the fuck's wrong with me?"

On the birthday front, Erin Gray was born 55 years ago today. If you don't know who Erin Gray is, go ask your "older" male friends (older = anyone over 32). They'll regale you of a time when Erin was their primary masturbatory fantasy. She played Colonel Wilma Deering on the late Seventies sci-fi series "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century." With her long blond hair, skin-tight space suit, the ability to put Buck in his place and tell that annoying robot Twiki to shut the fuck up, Col. Deering was the sexiest woman in space, Princess Leia included. Some of the younger folk may remember her from "Silver Spoons," where her character eventually became Ricky Schroder's stepmother. Lucky bastard.

 

Joel Keller is a freelance writer, at least some of the time.

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INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.