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I am in somewhat of a state of confusion. Nothing new for those who know me or work with me or, say, my creditors to whom I am constantly imploring for an explanation regarding this or that on a bill. (If my Total Telephone Usage Charge reads $0.00 on page 316 of my Digital Telephone Service Charges and Roaming Subtotal Per Bi-Monthly Optima-Family Selection Plan Per 2004 and Long Distance Abbreviated Itemization Version For Your Convenience Update: 2005 -- and then reads, under Total Telephone Service for [619] MY PHONE Usage Charges as of Above Billing Date, Billed Amnt: $25.66, which balance am I to pay?) No, it's not that. I'm actually confused at the moment about something a little different. Through my own sort of calendar gerrymandering and turning in columns more erratically than usual, I'm not sure exactly on what date this column will appear. And so I will address both Fridays April 21st and April 28th here. First of all: celebrity birthdays. Why not? It's all part of my new campaign to make the column more upbeat, fun-loving, young at heart, more FRIDAY! Birthday girl Queen Elizabeth II is a personage of somewhat more substance (isn't she?) than Cher, Charo, Pauly Shore, and/or, I think, Claude Aikens. Actually, I don't even know who Claude Aikens is or was or if he's real, an animation figure or comic-page character or what. I just keep hearing his name and feel I can safely assume he is at least some kind of celebrity. Anyway it's not his birthday, nor is it any others mentioned above except for the Queen of England.

The rest of the short list for April 21in the book Chase's Calendar of Events includes such unexcitables (to me, to me) as Ed Balfour, Andie MacDowell, and Tony Danza. I do have a spot in my heart for Danza, as he reminds me of my younger brother, Paulie, recently deceased and a guy so generous and sweet I sometimes think I thoroughly confabulated him just out of some unfocused need for a better world. Two entries redeem April 21 in some flakoid astrological sense, I suppose, and those would be Iggy Pop from Ann Arbor, fifty-freaking-eight years old now and still fixed with that happily demented look of the guy you meet on the first day of high school that you just know is going to get you through this thing. And Elaine May is on this roster, too, a comedian, movie director, and former wife of movie man Mike Nichols. She always struck me as an overlooked brilliance, quietly pulling off homers in American comedy (The Heartbreak Kid) while writers and actors the equivalent of Red Skelton or Carol Burnett will forever be immortalized on velvet or late late late nightly advertised DVD collection deals for a limited time only, and if you act now The Flip Wilson RoastSeries.

Onward in my crusade to beggar astrology (if that's what I'm doing -- I may have inadvertently lent it some credibility with some of the above examples) let's move on inChase's to Friday, April 28.

Irony is not far past notations like: FIRST TOURIST IN SPACE about American businessman Dennis Tito, who paid $20 million to accompany the crew of Russia's Soyuz TM-32 to the international space station on this date in 2001, past a very short notation about Workers Memorial Day, and then, here we go, the listing, "61st Anniversary of the Execution of Benito Mussolini" with nothing about the aftermath of that execution, which speaks volumes about humanity's righteous indignation at such hellishly sick brands of sadism.

Finally, we get to birthdays. This is only interesting to me for reasons like this first listing. I feel like a man whose media center of the brain is being kept alive artificially -- only a bit more clinically alive than the guy whose plug had just been pulled, like, 20 minutes ago. Jessica Alba was born on April 28, 1981. No idea who she might be (except when I entered the ComicCon last year with a press pass, some kid offered me $20 to get her autograph). I Googled her. She looks like a nice girl. Ann-Margret is 64 (supposedly) on this day, and she played no small role in my sexual awakening, her and Diana Rigg. Penelope Cruz, too; so what? She's probably a nice person, too -- just waiting, like every other attractive woman out there, to humiliate me in some cruel way. Oh, yes, I'm not stupid. Jay Leno, okay. Bruno Kirby and oddly (am I yet again an unwitting dupe for the forces of astrology?) Saddam Hussein within ten days of Adolf Hitler's birthday. Only one other entry strikes me with any sense of reverence. It is also the date on which Harper Lee was born.

The author of To Kill a Mockingbird had no way of knowing how deeply her book would affect me and millions of others. That the intriguing Catherine Keener recently portrayed her in the film Capote seems significantly co-incidental in that she was the actress in Being John Malkovich that so, ahem, aroused my attention. No doubt one of those seemingly "significant coincidences" that in the end mean nothing.

And with that, I will remark that the entire idea of significant coincidences that held me in thrall since I read Arthur Koestler's book The Roots of Coincidence has deflated, imploded, been burst like a piñata -- full of perverse nothingness; in short, has pretty much been shot to hell -- quite possibly unjustly -- since I read (on reasonably good authority by Colin Wilson) that Arthur K. was a terrible rapist.

I think my work here is done. Yes, this week's column full of lively celebrity dish and tidbits has gone some way, I think, in redeeming "TGIF" as some sort of grumpy old downer. Go out there and make it a good Friday, a good weekend, a good Monday (c'mon, you can do it) and darn it, a good week.

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