Oh, ate, oh, ate, oh, ate

Eight is the date. My Ladies of Sonoma Calendar tells me it will be August 8, 2008 on Saturday – the first and last time we’ll enjoy the auspiciously octo-centric date of 08-08-08. The date is the second to the last of its kind we will experience in this century seeing as September 9, 2009 is just another spin around the sun. Having slept through 07-07-07 last year and narrowly escaping the sacrifice of my corporeal being while covering the Sonoma Satanic Society shindig on 06-06-06 (the “next of kin” request on the media invite should have tipped me off), I’m determined to make of the most the eight-date by changing my name to Octavius, dining on octopus at precisely 8:08 p.m. and crank-calling Hawaii by serial-dialing in the 808 area code. After playing the Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” eight times, I’ll give the dharma wheel a spin and merrily skip down the Eightfold Path to enlightenment whereupon I’ll realize that I’ve become eight times the fool I used to be.

• • •

Astronomers at Sonoma Mountain’s Bergerstrom Observatory have announced the discovery of Gliese 581 C, an extrasolar planet orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581. The blue-green planet appears to be in the habitable zone surrounding the star, with the correct atmospheric conditions to be suitable for life as we know it. “This is not only a marvelous discovery for the scientific community, but a boon for commercial real estate,” observed astronomer Kyle Dawson, who is seeking seed money for an off-world colony. “It only took about 200 years to trash the Earth, from the onset of the Industrial Revolution to our End of Days environment. With what we now know about ecology, we could probably trash Gliese 581 C in about three weeks. Can you imagine the kind of party that would be?” Dawson added, then smashed a beer can on his forehead.

• • •

Due to the increased encroachment of civilization on natural habitats, several animal species have undergone rapid evolution, according to zoologists at the Sonoma Biological Institute. Among the fittest currently surviving are those species that have adapted new modes of camouflage. Zoologists have discovered a chameleon-like newt that looks almost exactly like a 1983 Honda Civic. The “doormat ferret” can lay nearly as flat as its namesake, but don’t step on it – it is the natural predator of flip-flops. A species of jellyfish dubbed the “violet sploosh” makes its home in empty wine bottles. Those unfortunates who inadvertently drink the neurotoxic sploosh may exhibit signs of mild intoxication, followed by a compulsion to end typewritten sentences with the word “sploosh.”

• • •

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves, Did gyre and gimble in the wabe” read the opening lines of “Alice in Wonderland” scribe Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.” Long thought to have been a poem written as ear-pleasing nonsense hewed together with English, a local scholar has discovered that the work actually borrows heavily from ancient Norse. Carroll embedded the poem in the “Alice” sequel “Through the Looking Glass,” a children’s book, though when translated, the poem is far from age-appropriate. The Jabberwocky, according to Sonoma State University professor Anders Gulbrand, is a saucy love letter to a bar maid which enhances the understanding of such Carrollisms as “bandersnatch” and “tulgey wood.” When asked what such phrases as “He took his vorpal sword in hand” might mean, Gulbrand simply sighed and said, “If I told you it goes ‘snicker-snack,’ would that help?”

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