The Breakfast Table

Bloated Gas Giants and Happy Hygiene Products

Dear Todd,

Whew. Calm down, bunny. I want you drink a cup of herbal tea and take a multivitamin. I’m sure there must be a sphygmomanometer in a desk drawer somewhere at the Onion. I’d like you to ask your editor to please check your blood pressure.

While we’re waiting for it to drop back to human levels, let’s talk for a minute about our friend, the brand new planet. Apparently they took the first-ever direct photographs of a new (to us) planet circling a star outside our solar system. The disturbing thing is that it is described in the L.A. Times as “a bloated gas giant.” Only one photograph in and already the name-calling has started. At this rate, I won’t be surprised if they never get close enough to snap a second photo.

There’s actually a front-page headline in the L.A. Times today that reads “Time, Space Obsolete in New View of Universe.” Time and Space. Gone. Just like that. “The notion of space-time is something we’ve cherished for thousands of years,” it goes on to say, “and it’s clearly something we’re going to have to give up.” Another fine old premise right down the dumper, tossed away like TV variety shows and the idea that cheese is a health food. Personally, I’m kind of relaxed about the whole thing, as I have never exhibited much skill at organizing either space or time. But I am a little concerned over the new talk among the string theorists, who are at the forefront of revolutionizing our thinking about these things, that the universe may have 11 dimensions. How much do you want to bet you that when they make this all more tangible and we find out where those 11 dimensions are exactly, I already have piles of papers and unopened mail cluttering up the surfaces of at least 10 of them?

There’s a lot of revolutionary thinking going on. In the health and fitness section of the New York Times, there’s a piece about a new no-holds-barred book for adolescent girls called Deal With It! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain and Life as a Gurl. In it, not only do they designate a new spelling for “girl” (!) and are not afraid to discuss vaginal discharge (!), but apparently “tampons are drawn with grinning faces.” I’m sorry. This is going too far. Not just anthropomorphizing tampons but also characterizing them as cheerful willing participants. It disturbs me the same way I am always disturbed when my dinner entree is depicted on a menu as a smiling cartoon sailor dancing the hornpipe. It’s just more emotional stress than I need to have to see my food having a great time on shore leave just minutes before its death. When I was an adolescent girl, I had a book by that great behavioral expert and star of TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes, Dick Clark. It was called Twixt Twelve and Twenty. I can’t recall a single thing it said, but I do know this much: He never once mentioned vaginal discharge. In those days there were no cartoon tampons, but if there were, they would have been depicted as the grim-faced civil servants we know them to truly be.

There’s a lot going on in the book world. How about the fact that the new 60-pound Helmut Newton photograph anthology comes with its own coffee table! The idea of matching a book with an accessory or item of furniture that is essential to its enjoyment could be the breakthrough in publishing that everyone has been looking for. Lengthy fiction can come with a reclining chair. Textbooks with a pillow and a cot. Books that the publishers know are impossible to make sense of could come with another book that you’ll like better when you get fed up that you wasted your money. I don’t know.

If you’re not busy Saturday, would you like to go with me to an auction in Rancho Santa Fe of the household items left over by the Heaven’s Gate cult members when they left their “earthly vehicles” and went into the sky to join Halley’s Comet? Apparently there are kitchenwares, TVs … I have dibs on the trampoline. I remember reading that they had a seating chart for watching TV. I would pay a pretty penny for that one. I never know where to sit.

Talk to you soon.


P.S.: A few additional thoughts. You wrote, “He could’ve made a movie called Fuck You, Pope if he wanted.” I don’t know if this could have been a big studio picture in wide release unless he got financing from someone like Joel Silver. In my experience, by the time his movie got through all the rewrite committees, it would star Julia Roberts and probably be called That Vatican Summer.