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  INCOMING! MARCH 28, 2005.  


It's the Monday after Easter! If you're coming back from a three-day weekend, welcome back. If you're coming back after a normal weekend, you're welcome to curse your heathen employers for not giving you the God-given right to honor Christ's death by watching Dr. Phil in your jammies while eating a big bowl of Count Chocula.

However, there's a way for you to get back at your evil employers. Tell your boss that you are going to be celebrating "Everything on a Stick Day" by taking a three-hour lunch. Go to the mall and gorge yourself on anything at the food court that comes on a stick: corn dogs, kabobs, caramel apples and Big Macs (I'm sure they'll put one on a stick if you ask). Then call out sick for the rest of the day. If you get fired, you can sue your boss for stick-food-lover discrimination. It's just that simple!

Things could be worse at work, though; You could have been dealing with a partial nuclear meltdown. Today is the 26th anniversary of the infamous accident at Three Mile Island, when a combination of mechanical and human errors that are far too tiring for me to type caused the core in Reactor 2 to fail. In order to alleviate the situation, a lot of the radioactive steam and hydrogen were released straight into the atmosphere, which wasn't such a good thing, because the plant was near Harrisburg, Penn. No one was hurt as a result of the accident, but from there on out, nuclear power went from being a clean, efficient method of creating energy to a dangerous fool's game that should be stopped at all costs. Oh, and it also made the film The China Syndrome a hit, furthering Jane Fonda's annoying career as an actress-activist.

After calling in sick, you can settle down to watch the Mrs. World pageant on PAX-TV, featuring a whole bunch of beautiful women that are already



freakin' married. Dammit.




Today, the Supreme Court hears the case of MGM vs. Grokster. Essentially, the argument in the case is that the Ninth Circuit court was in error when it found that services like Grokster were not responsible for the copyright infringement perpetrated by their users. Judging by MGM's upcoming DVD releases, I can understand why they might be eager to curtail Internet piracy. I mean, they must be hemorrhaging money from the Grokster downloads of "Green Acres Season 2" alone.

This ruling might be irrelevant, anyway. Let's get real, here: Do people still use peer-to-peer downloading sites anymore? Music downloads have proven to be of poor quality and full of viruses, and videos take longer to download than to watch. And Grokster doesn't work with an iPod, so it is automatically considered uncool.

Speaking of uncool, the song "Ebony and Ivory" was released on this day in 1982. A sappy pop duet between Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, the song extolled the virtues of racial harmony by equating blacks and whites with the keys on a piano (which are colored … oh, hell, you know).

The song was historic, not because of its message or the number of copies it sold, but because it was the first pop song to simultaneously kill two superstar careers. We always had an idea that Sir Paul could lay on the schmaltz, but Stevie? Man, he was cool. This was the same guy that gave us "Superstition" and "Living For The City." The success of "Ebony and Ivory" put Stevie on a slippery creative slope that reached its nadir in 1984, when he foisted "I Just Called To Say I Love You" on an unsuspecting public. If only Stevie could see us gagging at the thought of that song.


In today's celebrity birthdays, two distinguished Brits were born on this day in 1943: Eric Idle, member of the Monty Python troupe and the mastermind behind the hit Broadway musical "Spamalot", and John Major, the most boring and inconsequential Prime Minister of the 20th century.




Twenty-four years ago today, President Ronald Reagan was shot outside a Washington, DC hotel. Reagan, press secretary James Brady and two others were injured in the assassination attempt. John Hinckley did the dirty deed, apparently inspired by the success of his New York doppelganger, Mark David Chapman, who shot and killed John Lennon five months earlier. Later it was discovered that Hinckley shot Reagan in attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster, to whom he had written a love letter the day before the shooting. Poor sap. Hasn't every guy gone through this? Fall in love with a celebrity, shoot the President, go to jail and then find out said celebrity might be a raging lesbian. Man, been there…..

Also on this day, in 1968, Celine Dion was born in Charlemagne, Quebec. Two years later, her brother, Secretariat, was born in Doswell, Virg. Both went on to climb to the heights of their various professions, and … wait, I just found out that the two are not indeed related. Damn… they look so much alike!

Finally, on March 30, 1492, Spain's Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand signed a decree expelling all Jews from the country unless they converted to Catholicism. Essentially, this was the beginning of



the Spanish Inquisition, the source of many a Mel Brooks comedy routine. Over the 341 years the Inquisition lasted, about 125,000 people were tried as heretics. Those who were found guilty were tortured in public. If you didn't repent, you were garroted and burned at the stake; if you did repent, well, then you got off easy: you were burned at the stake but kept alive. Oy gevalt, the members of The Tribe never got a break, did they? Well, at least the only torture religious Jews suffer in Spain these days is the fact they're not allowed to eat all that yummy paella.




When you lose that hour of sleep (or drunkenly perceive that you are vomiting at a later hour than usual) on Sunday morning, you can think back to this day in 1918, when Daylight Savings Time was first observed in the United States, and thank the federal government for stealing your time. It was essentially put into effect to help people save energy. Also, it would allow agriculture workers to work in the fields longer (although the animals, for some silly reason, never observed DST, so they just had to be fed and milked an hour earlier).

Now, trying to memorize "spring ahead, fall back" is complicated enough, but imagine if you were one of the beleaguered residents of Indiana. To them, this time of year is a nightmare: After 2 a.m. Sunday, 77 counties will be on Eastern Standard Time, 5 counties will be on Eastern Daylight Time and 10 counties will be on Central Daylight Time. You could lose an hour just going down to Target to buy a gallon of milk. That kind of discombobulation can't be good, especially when a person is trying to operate a tractor or shear a sheep, or whatever the hell they do out there.

In other news, today is the first day of the Log Cabin Republicans' National Convention, to be held in New Orleans. Talk about discombobulation; The Log Cabiners are loyal to the values and principles of the Republican party … but they're gay. "Whaaaaa?" you say. "How the hell does that happen? Don't most Republicans think gays are immoral and filthy?" Well, yes, in a way. The folks that were standing outside of Terri Schiavo's



hospice last week, for instance, probably don't like gays too much. But people forget that there are Republicans who actually -- hold on to your seats! -- believe that issues of religion and "family values" don't belong in a political discussion. They actually believe in states' rights, small government and the superiority of private enterprise (and you thought that was just what those kooky Libertarians believed). To that end, one of the three straight Republicans who actually still feel this way, former New Jersey governor Christie Todd Whitman, is scheduled to speak.

On a completely unrelated note, today is William Daniels' 78th birthday. For those of you who are thinking "Who the fuck is William Daniels?" maybe this will refresh your memory: "Michael, I don't think applying the Turbo Boost is such a good idea." That's right folks, William Daniels was none other than the voice of the anthropomorphic Trans Am K.I.T.T. in the classic Eighties series "Knight Rider". He also has had a distinguished movie and TV career, including roles in the long-running series "St. Elsewhere" and "Boy Meets World", but who the hell cares? He was K.I.T.T.!




Today is the day when immature people all over the world inflict mental torture and severe embarrassment on the weaker of the species, all in the spirit of a good laugh at someone's expense. April Fool's Day started many centuries ago after the Gregorian calendar was adopted, changing the observance of the New Year from April 1 to January 1. What likely happened is that a number of people either were too drunk or too busy tending the fields to realize that the calendar had changed, and they would break out the wooden hats and stone noisemakers to celebrate, only to get laughed at by the people who were in the know. Following that tradition, expect to see a lot of zany pranks perpetrated by television and radio programs, including the horrific sight of Al Roker in a dress.

In one of the grandest April Fool's Day pranks ever, American Motors introduced the Gremlin on this day in 1970. One of the ugliest cars ever made, the Gremlin was said to have been first sketched out on the back of a Northwest Orient barf bag by an AMC's chief designer. In the eight years that the car was in production, there were over 600,000 sold, making it a very successful model. But most rusted soon after purchase and became about as fashionable as that leisure suit your grandfather continues to wear to this day. Nowadays, it's considered a collectible car, but not by anyone who has any kind of balls. Let's just say this: Mustang collectors think Gremlin collectors are women.

On Saturday, the NCAA men's basketball semifinals (that proverbial Final Four that the NCAA has cleverly copyrighted… the check's in the mail, NCAA!) will be held in St. Louis. Louisville, Illinois, North Carolina and Michigan State will play for the



chance to make millions of people all over the country lots of money, if their brackets weren't already blown after the first round (serves you right for picking Farleigh Dickinson over Illinois … the school isn't even taken seriously in its home state of New Jersey). The women's Final Four (oops… that's another check I've gotta send out) will kick off in Indianapolis on Sunday, if they can figure out what time it is.

Also on Sunday, a sporting event will take place between angry steroid-fuelled athletes who are on the verge of beating the shit out of each other. No, I'm not talking about the Yankees and Red Sox, who open the baseball season at Yankee Stadium that night. I'm talking about Wrestlemania 21, to be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Fake wrestling matches will be held between people I've never heard of, and lots of large-breasted women -- who hopefully don't look like Chyna -- will parade around and convince themselves that they're more than just exotic dancers for 14-year-old boys. In a flashback to the WWE heyday of the Eighties (before the environmental weenies at the World Wildlife Fund sued and made the WWE change its name), new Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper will bring back "Piper's Pit," which back in the day was an ingenious cross between "The Tonight Show" and a Mad Max movie. As Bill Simmons would say: Good times.


Joel Keller is a freelance writer from New Jersey. He was hankering for a chocolate bunny the whole time he was writing this.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.