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  INCOMING! NOVEMBER 14, 2005.  


This is the start of one of the longest weeks of the year: the week before the week of Thanksgiving. Why is it so long? Well, first of all it's a full five days, instead of the three that most people work the next week. Second of all, people actually like getting work done this week so they can slide the next week, so expect a lot of urgent e-mails, voice mails and conference calls. Third, you're craving some homemade turkey (or better yet, turducken) with all the fixings, but you have to struggle through ten more days of foot-long tuna sandwiches from Subway before you can go home and get it.

It's a bleak scene. But if you lived in France, you'd have a lot more to worry about: your car might be on fire. Yes, the disenfranchised Muslim youths are still rioting, so expect to see a few hundred more autos set ablaze today. Now, we all know the queasy feeling we get when we go to get our cars out of their parking spots and they've either been stolen or towed, right? Imagine how you'd feel if you stepped into a pasterie for a few minutes and came back out to see your car engulfed in flames? Not even a LoJack can get you out of that mess.

In happier news, Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of the classic sitcoms "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch" turns 89 today. Well, the news is happy for the Schwartz family, for as long as he's alive and milking more and more reality shows, reunion specials and TV movies out of those two old sitcoms, the more money that family makes. As soon as Sherwood kicks it, the family might have to -- gasp! -- come up with some new ideas.

Although without Sherwood, we'd never be able to see Chris Knight beg a woman half his age for sex on VH1's "My Fair Brady." So maybe we should try to keep ol' Sher alive a little while longer.

Oh, and today is also Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day. So, put on some gloves and a HAZMAT suit and go for it. Just remember: those furry spots are not considered "added flavor."






Today, President Bush visits Kyoto, Japan on his way to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Busan, South Korea. In Kyoto he will meet with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has a head of hair that would make Fabio jealous. I'm sure there will lots of good tidings and laughter at their meeting, but it'll probably take Bush a little while to figure out how to give Koizumi a nickname that has "-ie" at the end: "Juniciroie? No. Koizumiie? No. Koizie? Junie? Dammit! Why do those Japanese names need to have so many vowels?"

Well, anyway, as long as he doesn't puke on the Prime Minister, like his dad did thirteen years ago, everything should be fine. Actually, given how Dubya's autumn has been going -- cough, cough Miers cough cough Libby cough cough Iraq -- a little vomit doesn't seem all that embarrassing anymore.

Speaking of food poisoning, Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko visits France today. He will attend a summit meeting with French president Jacques Chirac, where I'm sure he'll be asked the question, "S'il vous plaît, Monsieur Yushcenko, tell us: What the fuck happened to your face?" many times. Let's just hope that his limo isn't on fire after he gets out of his meeting with Chirac.






It's weird how this happens sometimes, but today is one of those days where we celebrate the anniversary of three events of immense historical impact:

On this day in 1981, Luke and Laura got married on "General Hospital." For those of you Black Table readers who were only toddlers when this happened, you're probably thinking, "So the fuck what? It's a soap opera." Ah, but back in the early Eighties, "GH" was the soap opera, the one that just about every school kid watched when he or she got home from school from work (except for me: I was probably still watching "Match Game" at the time; I was more of an "Another World" guy), and Luke and Laura were the first ever soap supercouple, which was strange since Luke had raped Laura in a previous storyline. Anyway, it was a big story at the time, scrutinized as much as Charles and Diana, the other supercouple from 1981, and the wedding garnered huge ratings. Yes, we knew Luke and Laura were fictional. But considering most of us barely had cable, there was no Internet, and "ET" was more of a "newsmagazine" back then, we didn't have as many celebrity couples to stalk when we were kids. Oh, and we also had to walk uphill in the snow both ways to get to school, so get off our backs.

The second historical event happened on this day in 1990, when Rocky V was unleashed upon an unsuspecting public. Why is this historic? Because, kiddies, Rocky V was probably The Worst Sequel Ever Made. In this movie, written by Sly Stallone himself, Rocky does not box; he trains a young fighter (played by real-life boxer and real-bad actor Tommy Morrison) who turns on him when the big time calls. At the end of the movie, the much younger Tommy challenges the already brain-damaged Rocky to a street fight. Oh yeah, and playing Rocky's son? None other than Sage Stallone. That's all I really remember about the movie, because, like Bill Simmons, I'm trying to shut this one out of my memory forever.

Oh, and Oklahoma became a state on this day in 1907. Just figured I'd mention that.





If you're a smoker, today's either the first day of the rest of your life or the most miserable day of the year. That's right, today is The Great American Smokeout, the yearly event where the rest of the country tries to make you feel more guilty than usual about your hourly escapes to Flavor Country. This day is especially galling to smokers who live in New York: they can't smoke in their offices, they can't smoke in bars, they have to take out a loan to get a carton of Marlboros, and they have to shiver outside just to light up. Now they have to put up with this shit once a year, too. Look, I don't smoke and I think it's pretty gross, but haven't the poor smokers been given enough crap for one decade? Maybe this day should be relabeled "Get Off a Smoker's Ass Day".

Now, for those of you who have just quit, what better way to celebrate your newfound health (and wealth) by climbing a big hill? Today just happens to also be Take A Hike Day, which I'm sure was created by some environmentalist in Colorado somewhere and not some guy in Brooklyn who just wanted a nice way to tell people to fuck off. Yeah, I'm sure that's how it happened.

In a prelude to the APEC conference, President Bush meets with South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun today in Gyeongju. There he will confront President Roh about his nuclear program and demand that he disable all weapons immediately. He'll also tell Roh that he's not nearly as short as he looks on TV. It is then that Bush will be told by Condi Rice that they are in South Korea. An embarrassed Bush will then offer to buy his colleague a bowl of pho, at which point Dr. Rice will lean over and say, "Uh, Mr. President, that's Vietnamese." To save face, Bush will then follow his father's lead and vomit on President Roh.






Twenty years ago today, the first edition of Calvin and Hobbes was published in newspapers across the country. More mature than Cathy and less melancholy than Peanuts, C&H helped usher in a golden age of newspaper comic strips, where strips with more complex and adult humor -- The Far Side, Bloom County -- populated the pages. Unfortunately, it also created the first bunch of cartoonists that suffered from "burnout" and retired their strips after a brief period of time. I can see how someone who has to come up with something that's witty, complex and creative on a daily basis can burn out in the span of 10 years, as Bill Watterson, C&H's creator did. But sometimes I just wish the universe worked in the opposite fashion; I mean, can't the guy who draws The Family Circus burn out, even for just a month? That strip makes me want to vomit like a Bush in Asia.

Exactly seven years earlier -- and in a completely unrelated incident -- 913 members of The People's Temple, a cult started by Indiana nutjob Jim Jones, committed suicide in Jamestown, Guyana. This was the famous episode that was the genesis of the magical phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid", because the cult members died after drinking cups of grape drink laced with Valium and cyanide. Of course, it being Guyana, the only thing they could get was Flavor-Aid (or what we used to call "bug juice" in college), so the Kool-Aid folks have been getting a bad rap for the last 27 years.

It's too bad they didn't use actual Kool-Aid, though; it would have been funny if one of the cult members yelled out "Hey Kool-Aid!" just to see the Kool-Aid Pitcher Man break through a wall with a machine gun and flamethrower and rescue everyone Rambo-style. Wouldn't that have been cool? Ok, I need some sleep now.




Joel Keller is a freelance writer from New Jersey. He writes about TV for TV Squad. He also someday wants to meet Sage Stallone, just so he can make fun of his name.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.