MAJOR ASHPOLE




SUPERNOVAE, NAPS AND MARTINIS


  Astronomers recently reported on a supernova that’s so big it makes all the others look like fireflies (or like much smaller supernovae...take your pick).

  This supernova is so large and full of energy that it shines more brightly than the rest of the combined light coming from its entire galaxy.

   Imagine a working copy of Sarah Palin’s self-portrait and you’ll get the idea.

   A supernova is a star exploding, or at least, that’s the scientific myth.

   [You may insert your own line here about myths, exploding stars and Sarah Palin’s ego.  I have to keep moving on.]

   No one’s ever been able to get a ticket to a supernova, or even received an invitation to one, and there are no press passes.  So scientific statements purporting to describe what a supernova really is are based on a substantial amount of guesswork and a fair amount of wishful thinking by astronomers who need to support the illusion that they really do know what’s going on in the universe, even though they’ve found that at least a quarter of it is filled with something they call “dark matter” because they have no idea what it really is, the Higgs boson particle notwithstanding.

   This remarkably huge supernova occurred at a place 240 million light years away from earth.

   That means the supernova we’re witnessing today actually took place 240 million years ago.

   That’s longer than we’ve been in Iraq.

   When I think about actually seeing something that happened 240 million years ago, I can’t help trying to connect that unimaginable stretch of time with my own life span and how that comparison defines the significance of my existence in the grand scheme of the universe.

   My foot itches.

   It also makes me wonder what’s happening in that very same spot right now, 240 million years later, but I don’t think I’ll be able to wait long enough to find out, so I’m going to take a nap and see what happens when I wake up.

   Well, I’m back from my nap, and I checked on the Internet, and the supernova is still 240 million light years away.

   My foot still itches, it’s not athlete’s foot, and I don’t know what to do about it.

   It would be nice if we could somehow benefit from the largest explosion we know about since the Big Bang, which is another explosion we know about but are only pretty sure actually happened.

   Yet so far the only beneficiaries seem to be scientists who can now get new grant money to study the explosion.

   Some would call that study the advancement of knowledge, but it seems to me like the ultimate cosmic incarnation of dumb luck for scientists who get the grant money.

   Astronomers also reported on another giant star that’s in about the same unstable state that the 240 million light years away star was in before it exploded.

   But this other star is only 7500 light years away, which is also longer than we’ve been in Iraq, but much closer to the six month time span applied to those “it’s going to be better then” statements the Bush administration made about Iraq for the last four solar years it was in power.

   If that 7500 light-year-away huge sun does go supernova, it, too, will create light that outshines all the light coming from its galaxy, which, as it happens, is our galaxy.

   No one really knows how that explosion would affect us here on earth, although we’d probably still have 256 cable channels and nothing good on in prime time.

   For all we know, that supernova may already have occurred tomorrow, 7500 years ago, give or take, and when we wake up some morning in the not too distant future, we may find out more than we want to know about what happens when a notable heavenly event occurs on one’s celestial doorstep.

   I don’t know about you, but after my evening prayers, I’m going to start adding a new word after “amen”: “Gulp.”

   Speaking of gulp, now that I’ve had my nap, and considering the vast and rogue potential of the universe, I think it’s time for a martini, in the big glass, which is my idea of a heavenly event that shines more brightly than a galaxy of supernovae, or at least helps me forget they’re out there in the first place, which I wish our talented scientists would do so they’d turn their attention to what needs help here on earth.

   My foot still itches and I don’t think there’s a telescope anywhere that’s going to solve that problem.


LETTERS TO MAJOR ASHPOLE



Dear Major Ashpole,

   This is the second time in recent memory you’ve complained about scientists studying the universe instead of spending time paying attention to matters here on earth.

  I may not have much of an education, by I know what “scientists” means.

   That’s all I have to say. 

   I have to go brush my hair now.


Sarah Jessica Parker

Feeling Beautiful, Always


P.S. Have you ever heard me sing “I Only Have Eyes For Me”? 

   I really can sing, at least as well as my “Broadway star” hubby, what’s-his-name, who thinks Nathan Lane is a genius, but, I mean, who’s the one who got $38 million for driving the Gap’s business into the toilet in twelve months and still gets eight figure endorsement deals: me, or the paunchy guy who got stuck in The Adams Family?


Dear Sarah,

   Your talent is indescribable.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   Just  because astronomers have yet to discover exactly what dark matter is doesn’t mean we don’t know what’s going on in the universe.

   We have in fact successfully identified all kinds of celestial phenomena, and we continue to expand man’s knowledge and his reach into the great mysteries of creation.

   Also, I’ve never seen a purple cow, and I never hope to see one.


Schuyler Wakenight, Ph.D.

Mount Canopy Astrophysical Observatory and

Poets’ Corner Coffee House


Dear Major Ashpole,

   My foot itches, too, sometimes.

   I’m glad we have something in common.


Jennifer Love Hewitt

(I’m up here!)


Dear Jennifer,

   It was very kind of you to write.

   I am going to refrain from exploiting the situation with a

comment involving “celestial,” “orbs,” and “up here.”

   I’m not even going to whisper it.

   I may be craven, but I do try to eschew the superlative.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   So let me understand this. 

   You think that because you take a nap, a 240 million year old celestial event is somehow going to have changed meaningfully by the time you wake up?

   You sure believe in some wacky stuff!!


Tom Cruise

More In Touch With Outer Space Than You’ll Ever Be


Dear Major Ashpole,

   When my foot itches, I soak it in warm water mixed with strawberry Jello powder until it begins to set, then I take a Velveeta enema (still keeping my foot in the Jello), drink a 12 ounce glass of Crystal Light, rinse my hair with Country Time Lemonade, take my foot out of the Jello and wrap it in slices of Kraft American processed cheese, then sit on a warm mound of Stove Top stuffing mixed with a touch of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce.

  You can find more great homeopathic recipes at: KraftFoods.com/personalcare/love_my_bacteria_and_high_fructose_corn_syrup.


Irene Rosenfeld, Chairman and CEO

Kraft Foods Inc.


P.S. If Ed Herlihy (rest in peace) were still around to read the copy, you’d do everything I’ve suggested above in a minute and brag to your friends about how good it all turned out.

P.P.S. For those of you too young to know who Ed Herlihy was, just insert the name of your favorite infomercial huckster with an Australian accent, although, believe me, he doesn’t come close to moving America the way Ed did.  Remember: Herlihy convinced the entire country that Velveeta is food.  Which in and of itself moved America repeatedly, if you get my drift.

P.P.P.S. Now that we just bought Cadbury, you should have some chocolate Mini Eggs once the enema clears out.


Dear Major Ashpole,

   How did you know I was working on a self portrait?

   Did you have a vision or something?

   I mean, I’ve never mentioned it to anyone, and considering what an un-self-aware beauty queen I’ve always been, how could you have guessed out of thin air--or “dark matter” for that matter--that I was also a talented artist with ambitions of world fame (pretty clever of me to include the dark matter reference and use “matter” twice for effect, you gotta agree, wink-wink, I’m gettin’ more sophisticated ever’ day!)?

   BTW: If you get any more info on that nearby supernova, don’t tell me, okay?  My brain’s still explodin’ just from what I had to learn on the campaign trail, and now those wannabe’s at Fox News want me to learn even more.

   And now I’m doing a wildlife series on Alaska on the Discovery Channel, and they won’t even let me shoot a wolf from a helicopter while I’m doing it.

   I mean, what’s a girl to do?


Sarah Palin

Governing on Fox News, For Now

Painting With My Heart, Always


Dear Major Ashpole,

   I hope you’re happy with yourself for scaring us all to death with that story about the supernova only 7500 light years away.

   I’ve started wearing sunglasses to bed and covering the nasturtiums with aluminum foil at night in case “a notable heavenly event” happens while I’m still asleep.

   And I’ve had to declare a Super-Novena to make everyone feel safe from spooky celestial stuff.

   Why can’t you just let the rest of us wallow in the bliss of our ignorance and enjoy the illusions we create so we don’t have to contemplate the vastness of time and space and our impotence

before a universe we can’t ever comprehend?


Pope Benedict XVI

The Vatican, The World’s Favorite Political Force Posing as a Religion, And Don’t You Forget It


P.S. Remember: I’ve got Bill Donohue’s cell phone number and I’m not afraid to use it. 

P.P.S. Ed Herlihy was a saint.

   I’m not sure why I said that, but I had some kind of vision while I was writing this.      

   Maybe they should open a window around here once in a while.

 

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