Freaking Out Squares

Monday, October 23, 2006

Influenza, Assassinations, and Other Trifles

I was chatting with the Pirate the other night when about an hour into our conversation about the Star Wars Holiday Special (more on that later), I felt an invisible nail poking into my right eye. I tried to counter the invisible nail by poking the blunt end of a knitting needle into it (please don't try this at home, kids), but no dice. Then I took the more traditional route of swallowing some Motrin, but that didn't work either, so it was back to the blunt end of the knitting needle. Finally, I begged off, hung up, lay around moaning for twenty minutes or so, and ended up vomiting Pad Thai into a bag next to my bed. Lather, rinse, repeat twenty minutes later. Yoicks. Not sure if that was food poisoning or if I've contracted The Bug That's Going Around (there's always a bug going around in a city of 8 million people), but I'm still not feeling too great. The headache's gone, but my stomach keeps making noises like that alien from Spaceballs is gonna poke its way out of my abdomen and sing "Hello, Mah Baby." Bioterrorism, perhaps?

I have one word to say about the SWHS: Wow. If you've seen it, you know what I mean. If you haven't, I can't really explain its godawfulness to you. All I can do is warn you. There is a scene in it perhaps more disturbing than the one in Pink Flamingos where Divine eats dog shit, and since the Pirate neglected to mention it to me, I feel obliged to share it with you. Harvey Korman's character (yes, Harvey Korman--other guest stars include Art Carney, Bea Arthur, and Jefferson Starship) gives Chewy's dad, Itchy, some kind of 3-D fantasy machine as a Life Day present. The fantasy consists of Diahann Carroll talking all sexy to Itchy (who is, I must remind you, A WOOKIEE) and singing him a love song. There are also shots of Itchy grunting in his chair whilst this is going on. You have been warned. If you still want to seek out this thing on eBay, or if you have a geeky friend who still displays all his Star Wars action figures in the living room and you can get a bootleg off of him, I won't stop you. But don't blame me if you throw up twenty-four hours after you've seen it.

I spent Sunday in bed eating bland food and rereading Sarah Vowell's most recent book, Assassination Vacation. Those of you who are fans of "This American Life" might recognize Sarah Vowell as the squeaky-voiced, yet curmudgeonly commentator on all things historical and macabre. If you're a fan of Disney Pixar (shudder), you might recognize her as the voice of Violet Parr in The Incredibles. If you still don't know who I'm talking about, well, do a Google search. What can I say?

Anyway, in this book, Sarah Vowell chronicles geographical and historical points of interest relating to three presidential assassinations--Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. No trip is too out-of-the-way or irrelevant for SV, who braves a gut-wrenching boat trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park, where John Wilkes Booth conspirator Samuel Mudd was held prisoner, visits the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia for a glimpse at a piece of flesh that purports to be a piece of Booth's thorax, and tours the site of the former Oneida Community in upstate New York, a former religious commune/free love cult that hosted Garfield assassin Charles Guiteau for a time before abandoning its seamy underside and going into crockery. (The two events were unrelated.) Guiteau, according to Vowell, was "the only guy who couldn't get laid at a free love commune." That would probably be just my luck, too. At any rate, it's a fun, informative read, and I wish I were only half as brilliant and enterprising as Sarah Vowell, but whatever--it's a lovely way to pass the time while laid up with Star Wars Holiday Special Syndrome.

Off the subject, but still important--drop on by Ayun Halliday's new MySpace group and say hi and send her your love. And what's not to love? She's an awesome writer, she still washes her family's clothes at coin laundromats, and if you email her, she'll email you back! Sigh.


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