back to the Black Table
  INCOMING! DECEMBER 12, 2005.  


It's Gustave Flaubert's birthday! Forgot to get a gift? Well, you can still celebrate by living a provincial lifestyle that bores you so much that cheating on your nice husband with a series of dangerous and exciting assholes seems like a great idea. And if it doesn't work out, remember: there's always arsenic. Hmm. You know, instead of enacting the plot of Madame Bovary, you could also just go ahead and reread it. This time, you won't be in college or high school, and you'll realize that it's the most gorgeously written trashy romance novel of all time.

If plan A seems too risky and plan B seems too highbrow, you can always celebrate the birthday of another cultural icon by watching every single episode of "Blossom" on DVD. Mayim Bialik is 30 today! Last year she got her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA. Let me be the first to say (in Joey Lawrence voice): Whoa!






Tonight, if you're running late for your fancy formal event (okay, caterwaitering gig) and you just don't have the manual dexterity to tie a tie in 1928, you don't have to sweat it -- thanks to some wily inventors. The clip-on tie was invented on this date. Sure, it would be nice to wear a real tie like the grownups do, but sometimes second best is good enough. Is that a ballad by Bo Bice yet? It should be.

At around 9, after you get done with the caterwaitering, it might be cool to head out to the Glass House Gallery in Williamsburg to see some experimental noise bands. The SB, the Black Lakes, Sharks with Wings and Blastocyst will be shaking the floor with their . . . noises, and the 'suggested donation' is only $5. Meet me there! Don't worry, I'll recognize you: you'll be the one wearing a clip-on tie.






On this day in 1999, Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz retired, prompting lots of lame "It's Retirement, Charlie Brown" type probably much dismay from uberfan Jonathan Franzen. Even though things got a little you-can-rearrange-the-panels-in-any-order-and-they'll-still-make-the-same-amount-of-sense toward the end of the strip's 49-year run, Charlie and his roundheaded cohorts still represent the zenith of the daily strip medium. So take a moment today to leaf through the old Peanuts anthologies in your parents' basement and marvel at the enduring resonance of sentiments like "Everything I do makes me feel guilty" and "I'm so mad I'm just going to stand here for the rest of my life."

Hey, wait, did I just say that Peanuts is the zenith of the daily strip medium? Well, maybe not for people who prefer to read about the antics of a perpetually drunken diabetic cat, a teddy bear, a less drunken cat and an otter who is just learning about the concept of death -- all of whom have blogs. Today, celebrate Charles M. Shultz's retirement by reading Achewood, the Peanuts of the internet generation. Oh, ouch. I just said that something was the something of the internet generation! But it's true, and I'm too lazy to come up with a better description. Whatever. As Achewood's Ray would say, "Sure, there will be a party tomorrow, and everyone will have a great time. It only takes me like half an hour to get that stuff together, including 20 minutes where I read magazines on my bed."





Today is the official day to realize that you have not yet purchased one single Christmas present. NOT ONE. Even worse, every time you've gone into a store with the intention of getting a gift, you have either dawdled, picking up things and noticing that they all have prices on them (too much!) and then walked out without buying anything, or . . . oh my god, you didn't. You bought something but it was for YOURSELF! What an abuse of the festive Holiday spirit. You better get cracking, Mister (or Ms.): there are only nine shopping days left. It would behoove you to get out there and join the frenzy of conspicuous consumption.

However, if the reason you have been abstaining from making the purchases our culture demands of you is that you are just a little grossed out by the whole mass-produced mess at the mall, mark your calendars for this Saturday's BUST Holiday Craftacular at Warsaw. Support local artisans by purchasing their relatively inexpensive wares while drinking beer! I'm sure your friends and relatives will appreciate the hand-knitted vibrator cozies. (If you don't live in New York, just buy things online from Bust while drinking alone at your computer, I guess).

So that's what today really is: make a plan to do something virtuous/fun on Saturday day.






Did you finish Madame Bovary yet? Great job. It was so good, wasn't it? Didn't you love that line about how "human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars" ? Well, gear up for some more of the finest of the crude rhythms: Today is Jane Austen's birthday so you have to read something by her now. Pick something that hasn't been adapted into a bosom-heaving big screen romcom lately so that you can make up your own mental images: I recommend Northanger Abbey. But you don't have to take my word for it! (That was me being LeVar Burton).

Speaking of literary lights, keep your fingers crossed for Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, who goes on trial today for violating Article 301/1 of the Turkish Penal Code, which states that a person who explicitly insults being a Turk, the Republic, or the Turkish Grand National Assembly shall be imposed to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years. Aren't you glad you're not a Turk? You'll be even gladder after you've finished Snow, Pamuk's award-winning, explicit insult-filled novel.

Well, that's it for this week. Get cracking with the homework I've assigned, and good luck buying things (remember: for other people). And stay away from the arsenic: I hear that stuff leaves a nasty black residue in the mouth after you die.




Emily Gould likes to force books on people, sometimes in her professional capacity as an assistant editor of them. She reviews bars and books and is cowriting a novel about teen witches; read more of her important thoughts at


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.