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Hey, welcome back. Long weekend is over. That taste lingering at the top of your mouth? That's ash, along with some leftover tequila residue from sometime between Friday afternoon and about 3 a.m. this morning. As we get older, long weekends transmogrify (that's today's Ingmar Bergman word) from four uninterrupted days of vice and obliteration to a desperate search for precious sleep. This is sad, but this is aging. Sorry you had to learn this the hard way. We suggest chocolate milk; you'd be amazed the effectiveness of this somewhat unconventional hangover cure. And hey, it makes for strong bones, healthy teeth and a winning smile.

So anyway, it's time to get back to work, not just for you, but for Congress. Most people don't realize this, but Congress takes an incredibly high number of vacation days; if the rest of the country took as much vacation as members of Congress did, our gross national product would decrease to five bolt washers, six cups of pudding and a few stray cigarettes. Last week, Congress took time out of its vacation -- harrumphing the same way your grandfather used to harrumph when he had to get up to change the channel because the remote wasn't working -- to convene an emergency session, which was nice, considering we happen to be in the midst of the worst national natural disaster in any of our lifetimes. (At least until they have the Super Bowl at an outdoor stadium and it rains; the shit will really hit the fan then.) Anyway, Congress returns today, for real this time. Initially, it was supposed to begin nomination hearings for judge John Roberts on Tuesday, but the rather intense deluge of news since the schedule was made -- Hurricane Katrina, the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the onslaught of injuries to the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line -- has moved his hearings to later this week, likely Thursday. But anyway, welcome back to work, Congress; we'll enjoy the two or three weeks until you freaking go on vacation again.

You know who never goes on vacation? 50 Cent. Say what you will about the guy, but the man puts in a full day's work. Over a two-months span, he will have released an autobiography, a movie based on his life, a video game based on his life, an interactive porn video based on his life and a vitamin water, presumably based on his life, considering that no matter how many times you've been shot, your body is still two-thirds water. The re-release of his album, "The Massacre," is today; it includes another song and a DVD, along with some remixes and, presumably, a detailed description of 50's medical history, down to the consistency of his stool. Apparently, 50 likes him some peanuts.






In the midst of everything happening, it's important to remember that, as powerful as this great country of ours is, there's another country that, if they really felt like it, could crush our skulls into powder. That's right, it's China: Population one billion and growing, military might that rivals ours, a surprisingly stable economic system and, hey, let's not forget Yao Ming. In another time, China would be our Russia, our own little cold war that we'd feel like we're winning because, on the whole, we're considerably taller. But, alas, we have Al Qaeda, Katrina, oil prices, global instability and "Two and a Half Men;" we have more pressing concerns now.

Anyway, if just to remind us that, yo (Yao!), you best not be overlooking us, Chinese president Hu Jintao is scheduled to meet with President Bush on Wednesday. This could be considered worrisome, since we somehow have difficulty trusting President Bush's ability to multi-task; somehow we imagine Dubya getting confused and asking Jintao to give him a briefing on "how it's looking down there." (This question could be about any number of things, including a poorly thought-out joke about height discrepancies between the two world leaders.) The real question: What will Bush's funny nickname for the Chinese prez be? With a first name like "Hu," it would seem the possibilities would be endless. Though it seems likely that Bush could be just enough of a frat boy dolt to refer to Jintao as "Kung Pow" or "General Tso's Chicken." Which, you know, is really reassuring.





You can learn a lot about yourself by which Thursday event you're looking forward to the most. In fact, let's play Guy's Cosmo Quiz!

  • Congress begins hearings on John Roberts' nomination to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (5 points)
  • Two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots host Oakland Raiders in opening game of 2005-06 NFL Season. (10 points)
  • Fashion Week begins with "Fashion Rocks" concert, featuring Destiny Child's last televised appearance. (2 points)
  • Season premiere of hit television program "The O.C." (3 points)
  • Federal government updates Wall Street on current stockpiles of crude oil and gasoline, with extreme fluctuations in price of gas expected, depending on the report. (7 points)

Scoring System:

  • 10 points: You are a real man. While your associates and peers are sipping appletinis, you're slugging motor oil, greasing your hair with Crisco and constantly dragging your testicles behind you. Remember: "No" always, always means "Yes." Don't forget that.
  • 5-7 points: We know how frustrating it is to know more about what's going on in the world than the current leader of that free world, but hey, this is why it was a mistake not to take your mom's advice and become a cheerleader in college. Think about how nice you would have looked in those white pants! Oh, and a tip: Please stop cornering us at parties. We know today's geopolitical culture is unstable and that there's an ongoing battle between the haves and the have nots. We get it. Now please be quiet so we can go back to our nitrous tank.
  • 3 points: Sorry, man, we just never watched "Saved by the Bell." It doesn't make us bad people. We just went outside when we were kids; it was sunshine, and it was nice. Good for you, too.
  • 2 points: No, seriously, it's totally cool to shave your legs. We know it helps your "wind resistance." And sure, it is easier to urinate while sitting down. Totally.

So how'd you do?






Here's a fun piece of trivia for you: Do you know who originated the role of sleazy lawyer Billy Flynn in the original Broadway production of "Chicago"? Of all people, the late, great Jerry Orbach, famous for playing Lenny Briscoe on "Law & Order" and, less famously, Judah Rosenthal's hoodlum brother in Crimes and Misdemeanors. We weren't crazy about the film version of Chicago, partly because it had a bunch of dancing people but mostly because one of those dancing people was Renee Zellweger, an actress whose success makes us wonder if the planet we observe on a daily basis is somehow demonstrably different than the one the rest of humanity is seeing. But we love the idea of Jerry Orbach hot-stepping it to "Razzle Dazzle."

Anyway, we bring this up because Friday is a slow news day -- though it is also Independence Day for Tajikistan, wherever the hell that is -- and the biggest happening we could find for September 9 was the debut of Brooke Shields playing "Chicago's" Roxie Hart on Broadway. Apparently Shields is over her wussy postpartum depression and even more wussy reliance on mind-altering drugs to help her deal with it. It's funny, too, because Tom Cruise squeezed a grapefruit out of his urethra just last week, and he didn't need any stinking anti-psychotics to help him with that. Honestly, Brooke, you make us goddamn sick.

By the way, anybody heard from TomKat lately? It's almost as if they're not promoting movies anymore. They're still in love, though, we're sure.




Will Leitch is managing editor of The Black Table and author of two books, including the upcoming novel Catch.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.