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  INCOMING! FEBRUARY 28, 2005.  
   
   
 

Monday

Today is Public Sleeping Day, a good thing considering it's the day after the Oscars, which just ended a few seconds ago. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also celebrates the 65th anniversary of Hattie McDaniel's Academy Award win for her nuanced and altogether complimentary role in Gone With the Wind McDaniel was the first African American to win this prestigious honor, even though she wasn't allowed to see the film's premiere in Atlanta (uh … perhaps they ran out of tickets).

This movie debuted some 74 years after the end of the Civil War, but it may as well have been a documentary about current events. Imagine, the audience tucked in their seats - they likely munched on snacks produced by cheap black labor -- with visions of antebellum South dancing through their heads. Ah, good times.

If you'll recall, McDaniel played Mammy, a maid to

 
 
 

her white slaveowners. Other Oscar winning performances by a black actor include: an overpaid athlete, a single-mother whose husband was first jailed then executed, a charlatan psychic and a cop-turned-thug. African American nominees this year portrayed a hotel worker, a washed-up boxer, a musician and a taxi driver.

Nope, no stereotypes here.

 

 
 

Tuesday

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush gives his state of the state address today in Tallahassee. Topics likely to include a progress report on the state's education system.

In 2003, Bush promised sweeping education reform. Last year, he patted lawmakers on the back for their bold efforts to improve classroom learnin for tiny tots like Isaac, a young boy suckled by the newfound super education system (because, remember, when a kid does well, the system works; when he fails, it's his parents' fault). Isaac went from a child who could barely read to the star of something called the Black History Brain Bowl all because of the governor's plan.

"As a result of your leadership," Bush congratulated the ladies and gentlemen of the Florida statehouse, "the state of our state is stronger than ever, because more children are learning in our schools and more students are graduating prepared for success."

   
 

Folks, the results are in. Florida was the 10th dumbest state in the union last year. The dramatic education reform has boosted the state all the way to #11 this year. Good news, though, New Mexico residents are still the idiots in the pack.

Also today, the Honda Civic, a preferred form of transportation for pot-smoking suburban teens, celebrates its 30th birthday by denying its age. The car was introduced to the United States with the promise of "more miles per gallon than anybody." Tell that to the stoned kid with an empty gas tank in search of chocolate milk.

 

 
 

Wednesday

The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee decides today if any players abandoned by the evil voters in the media deserve enshrinement. If it were up to Joe Morgan, here's betting only his bust would remain in Cooperstown.

Morgan, the Hall of Fame second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds, a.k.a. the Big Red Chewing Gum Machine, is an obnoxious chap who bloviates about assorted topics important only to him whenever ESPN puts a microphone in front of his chipmunk-like face, which, unfortunately, is often.

There are 25 former players on the committee's ballot this year. To be elected, a nominee must win 75 percent of the popular vote, but don't expect baseball's electoral college to rescue any candidate who falls short in the peoples' eyes. Nominees include Bobby Bonds (who is, incidentally, dead, and also has a son trying to make a name for himself through good, old-fashioned hard work), Roger Maris (also dead, but has, we imagine, been having quite the interesting conversations lately with Mr. Bonds in the afterlife) and Gil Hodges (who had a fine career, to be sure, but we, for some reason, had him confused with the fictional character, Roy Hobbs, in The Natural.)

Former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, also among the nominees, should earn entrance to the Hall of Fame based on his merits alone. We also feel bad for him because he has no legs, although -- just to be clear here -- he did at the time he played baseball.

Today also marks the one-year anniversary of the UN report saying Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction after 1994. Happy anniversary,

 


 
 

Saddam!

 

 
 

Thursday

Today marks the 14th anniversary of the beating given to Rodney G. King by L.A. police officers in what can only be described as practice for the whack-a-mole game at Chuck E. Cheese. The officers involved in this little exercise racked up enough prize tickets to buy a kazoo.

This delightful incident reminds us of another travesty of racial injustice taking place in a courtroom some miles away: The latest Trial of the Century gets underway. The oddly normal King of Soda Water, Michael Jackson, faces child molestation charges.

The jurors picked to decide Jackson's fate are a diverse bunch (just one black face in the crowd, and he's an alternate) with some interesting pedigrees, according to the Associated Press:

-- A 71-year-old woman reports that she once saw a person murdered in a bowling alley, is a terrible organ player and has never received a traffic ticket. She also cited age as the reason why she has forgotten details of an interview with Jackson.

-- A 19-year-old man says he can do the "moonwalk" and once declined a trip to Jackson's ranch, Neverland, because he didn't want to go with a group. He doesn't believe in safety in numbers, apparently.

 

 

 
 

-- A 62-year-old man says he believes Deepak Chopra is a rapper.

 

 

Friday

If it were 1933, President George W. Bush would have been inaugurated today. But thanks to the 20th Amendment, Dubya got a head start on his second term. The added benefit for the rest of us is that there are now 43 fewer days left before someone else takes over. What great vision by our 20th Century countrymen!

Prior to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's January 20, 1937 inauguration, nearly all of the occupants of the White House were sworn in on March 4. Like the daylight savings time rule, we always thought this had something to do with farm kids trying to make it to school on the back of a reaper. But lo, it turns out the rule has something to do with making sure government runs smoothly and all.

Back in the day, new presidents had to hop on their horses and travel cross country to get to the White House. This was hell on horse's hooves, considering the hot pavement they had to walk on for much of the way. New presidents also apparently didn't have slaves, because it usually took them several months to get their crap together to bring it along.

 

 

As this was going on, Congress was forced into session each December during what was called a lame-duck session, during which little was accomplished. (Things certainly have changed!)

By the time the 20th Century arrived, presidents were able to get from here to there much quicker -- because of evolution.

Sunday is Toronto's birthday. Founded in 1834, this bucolic city is famous being the starting place of the world's longest street, having the world's tallest building and for looking a lot like Chicago in many, many movies. Happy Birthday, eh.

 

Mike Cetera is a reporter for the Aurora (Ill.) Beacon-News. And yes, he is in fact related to former Chicago lead singer Peter Cetera, but barely.

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INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.