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  INCOMING! AUGUST 22, 2005.  


Today, the San Francisco Chronicle begins running a multi-part series about the Iraq elections by Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn. Penn penned the series based on his travels almost two months ago and turned it in last month, while in Iran; Chronicle editor Phil Bronstein said, "As with anything like this, it required a fair amount of work between the editor and the author." Sean was awfully convincing in that retard movie with the kid from War of the Worlds.

And speaking of zany left-of-Marx entertainers … remember the first time you heard Tori Amos' "Little Earthquakes" album? Remember how you dyed your hair red and crammed a piano into your studio apartment? Remember how you reconsidered your hue and dropped the piano from the window (lucky Wile E. Coyote was there to break that fall) when Tori breast-fed that pig two albums later? Everyone's favorite whack job redhead turns 41 today, so let's make our Bösendorfer cry and give the Cornflake girl a big breathy shout out.






On this day in 1926, silent-screen idol Rudolf Valentino went to the big boudoir in the sky. Valentino's death caused mass hysteria and prompted several suicide attempts from female fans, who, losing their fantasy fuck, would have no one to flick the bean to until Clark Gable didn't give a damn 13 years later. Each year on the anniversary of Valentino's death, a mysterious woman in black appears to place a single black rose at his tomb in Hollywood. For years the identity of the woman has been disputed, but experts at Star magazine now believe it's just Courtney Love wandering away from away from her rehab facility.

Also today, the UN Security Council will hold a meeting to discuss Afghanistan's upcoming parliamentary elections. Uber journalist and election expert Sean Penn will be brought in for consultation.






August 24, 79 A.D. was so not a good day to be a Roman. Mount Vesuvius shot its load all over Pompeii and Herculaneum, and all the good people of these two advanced societies had to stop all their advanced society activities and die. Survivors got a bum deal, too. In addition to your junior high PE teacher making Mt. Vesuvius jokes about unfortunate skin situations, every maudlin poet felt the need to write about Pompeii's ashy end. (Herculaneum got off; it was harder to hard rhyme.)

For your perusal:

From Don Gray's The Last Day of Pompeii, a poem:
They died from crushing stone, the fumes, the smoke
that had no life to give, but all to take.
All was taken. Life, love, hope, home.

Arthur Graves Canfield Pompeii.
0 sad Pompeii!
0 dead Pompeii!
Silent are thy streets;
Heavy is thy winding sheet of ashes.
In the old time the sky was blue above
Thou hast been happy with the play of
Hast feasted, and been gay with dance and

From Dar Williams' This Was Pompeii
Once I had a sadness and the sadness turned to trust
The trust turned into ashes and to lawyers and to dust
A century, a day
This was Pompeii





Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run album turns 30 today. If you have fond memories of getting to third base in the backseat of your brother's 72 El Camino while "Jungleland" blared from the radio, The Black Table will now allow you a moment to lament your lost youth. Now snap out of it.

I've always said I'd marry the first man who knew all the words to "Thunder Road." Actually I didn't always say this: Jeremy Mullman said he'd always marry the first girl who knew all the words to "Thunder Road," and I thought it sounded cool, so I started saying that. But that's not important now. What's important is that I'm cute and still not married. So, you know, like now you have a little activity to keep you busy this weekend.






Today is Suffrage Day! The day that penis-free individuals and their be-penised-but-not-narrow-minded friends celebrate the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution in 1920, which gave women the right to vote. You've come a long way, baby!

But there's still so much work to be done. While you the ladies of the land may have the right to go do your thing behind the curtains of the booth, there's no guarantee that your vote will be counted, especially if you live in heavily Democratic counties in Florida or Ohio. Just ask bionic world consultant and astronaut Sean Penn.

And while we're on the topic of the political process, Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee -- best known for shedding 100 pounds -- will travel to New Hampshire over the weekend to meet with other Republicans for an annual pig roast. Aww shucks, it's just too easy to make a joke here. Let's leave that for the Pompeii poets and Supersonic Sean Penn. You've got some lyrics to memorize!




Shari Goldhagen is the author of the upcoming novel Family And Other Accidents, which will be released by Doubleday in April 2006.



INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.