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  INCOMING! OCTOBER 3, 2005.  


I've always been happy to see October show up on the calendar. There's a certain change in the air that comes and goes with the fall, something more than the drop in temperature. It's all the expectations of a new school year, hayrides, sweaters, football games, changing colors, the smell of burning leaves in the wind and gluttonous little kids dressed as Satan; there's just a magical quality about the whole month.

Of course, here in Los Angeles the seasonal change is minor, although those leaves, they are a-burnin'. In fact, fire has ripped through the outskirts of the city for most of the past week, destroying something like 25,000 acres. Beats the hell out of the leaf piles we used to burn back in Illinois. Luckily, the L.A. County Fire Department has announced that the whole thing should be 100 percent contained by 6 p.m. tonight.

And they're just in time, as today is World Habitat Day. On this day, the UN asks that people everywhere direct their attention to providing adequate housing and a sustainable living environment for all. The first step in providing adequate housing? Make sure it isn't on fire. Good job, L.A. County -- the UN likes what you do.

Any Jewish firefighters still running their hoses at 6 p.m. will have to take the first available engine home as Rosh Hashanah begins tonight at sundown. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, a time to reflect on the past year's deeds and pray for good fortune in the coming months. Today is also the official Day of German Unity, a holiday marking the 15th anniversary of German reunification. Germans will doubtless use this day to reflect on their past deeds as well and then try to avoid eye contact with the Jews.






Speaking of avoiding eye contact, the very first Hooters restaurant opened in Clearwater, Florida on this day in 1983. There are now over 350 Hooters restaurants in 43 U.S. states plus 13 other countries, and most are open well after dark for those who happen to be fasting during the day.

Why would anyone be fasting during the day? Because today marks the beginning of Ramadan, you heathen! For those of the Islamic faith, eating, smoking, drinking and having sex with the spouse are all prohibited from now until November 2, at least while the sun is out. But once night falls, look out Hooters girls! It's time to Ding-a-Ling-Lang those Rama-Lama-Ding-Dongs! (Note: In the Islamic faith, this phrase is used to mean "enjoy a modest dinner of buffalo wings and iced tea, then return dutifully to one's family.")

There's also some big hoopla called the ARM Developers' Conference starting up in Santa Clarita today, which I think has something to do with a bunch of people inventing new technologies or something. All I know is: If any attendees want to see a real Arm Developers' Conference, they're welcome to come see me and my reflection getting our flex on in the bathroom mirror any day of the goddamn week. BAM! Who turned this conference into the motherfuckin' gun show? Uh, oh -- I think I did! Double-BAM!

Seriously, come check me out sometime.






Today is my 31st birthday, which is kind of a bummer because I still feel like I'm 16. And female. Which somehow becomes creepy with age -- I don't know. Anyway, my birthday last year was more of a bummer, because Rodney Dangerfield passed away. All over the city, you could hear snooty society broads heave a collective sigh of relief. There would be no innuendo-laden ribbing on that day for the old bags. I can only hope that Rodney is now looking down on us from heaven, plotting to wreak havoc on high tea with his newfound supernatural powers. Go get 'em, Rodney -- no old woman is safe from a good goosing by your spectral fingers now.

In other havoc related news, today is "Dine for America" day, a Red Cross fundraising effort in which participating restaurants nationwide will donate their profits to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. Bully idea, I say -- forget all of these benefit concerts and TV specials and let Americans do what they do best: stuff their faces with deep fried animals and buttery mashed potatoes. Shit, if the Red Cross were really serious about it, they could rebuild New Orleans with the profits from just one Hometown Buffet in Kentucky. Throw in a Red Lobster, and you could build a New Orleans replica on the moon.

Ha, ha: Americans are so fat.

By the way, did you know that on this day in 1864, Calcutta was almost completely destroyed by a cyclone? Around 60,000 people died. I offer up this information only because things have seemed pretty grim what with the war in Iraq, the tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. In a way, it's comforting to know that things have always sucked.





Which brings me to the Chicago Cubs, a reliably sucky baseball team. Now that the Red Sox have broken their losing streak, my Cubbies are all alone in the underdog house, having not won a World Series since 1908. In fact, they haven't even been in a Series since 1945, when a man named Billy Sialis placed a curse on the team. It was on this very day, Game 4, when Billy brought his pet goat with him to Wrigley Field and was subsequently removed by security. Naturally, he showed his displeasure by resorting to witchcraft, and Cub fans continue to blame the Curse of the Billy Goat for their team's misfortune.

Do you like to blame goats and/or curses caused by goats for all of the terrible crap that's happened to you? This is just one of the many questions that will be asked by physicians today as part of National Depression Screening Day. Doctors have been encouraged by the American College of Physicians (ACP) to screen patients for anxiety and depression on this day and give recommendations for healthier, happier living. This is in contrast to the other 364 days of the year, in which physicians are encouraged by the ACP to tell patients to leave them alone; they've got their own damn problems.






Arnold Schwarzenegger won the California recall election on this day in 2003, unseating Gray Davis to become the Governor of California. Two years later, with all of the jokes exhausted, it's still just surreal. Every time the Governor comes on TV, I expect him to throw a saw blade through somebody's head. Granted, I expect that of most people, but with Arnold, it just seems more likely to happen.

Waiting..., a film about slacker restaurant workers, opens today. As far as I can tell from the trailers, it's about people spitting and/or jacking off into food, then serving it to other people. Thank God this flick is premiering after "Dine for America" day -- it could really put a dent in my plans for a lunar New Orleans.

Today also marks the 256th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe's death, a nice macabre note on which to end this column and begin the Halloween season. For the next few weeks, it's time to visit ill-constructed haunted houses, purchase cheap compact discs of people screaming and -- at least for me -- dress up like a 16-year-old girl without shame. I can already tell -- it's gonna be a great October!




Chad Fifer is a writer in Los Angeles and is one of the minds behind



INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.