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August, Ick 

Inspiring little admiration and even less awe, the eighth month is just plain insufferable.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter August. It may not be the cruelest month (that moniker is already taken by, of all things, April), but it's certainly the nastiest. August in Tucson is like Florida without the saving grace of Cuban music. Not much has ever been written about August, and with good reason. The quills kept slipping out of people's hands.

I did a Nexus search in my head and found only two vague references to August. British blues band Humble Pie, with the late Steve Marriott on vocals and teen phenom Peter Frampton on guitar, sang about August in the sweet little number "Hot and Nasty." And in "Good Morning, Vietnam," fictional field corespondent Roosevelt E. Roosevelt, when asked about the weather, replied, "Tonight it's going to be hot and wet. That's fine if you're with a lady but it ain't no good if you're in the jungle."

Or the desert.

Face it, folks, August sucks. We're at the point in the year where the frivolity of the Fourth of July is a fading memory and the blessed relief of autumn is but a mirage, taunting us from far off in the distance. We're faced with an entire month of heat, humidity, downed power lines, idiots stuck in running washes, insipid local TV news puff pieces about the first day of school, no holidays, swamp coolers that are starting to stink, the dregs of summer movies, sales at the malls, bad drivers, bad TV, bad tempers, and more heat and more humidity.

If life were fair, we'd go directly from July 31 to September 1 and then have two Decembers. What's amazing is that the Romans named the month with a word that means "inspiring admiration or awe." If that other Roman emperor hadn't had this weird thing about horses, we might be heading into the month of Caligulary, which would probably be more appropriate.

But why complain? It's not gonna help. Besides, October is bound to get here sooner or later and when it gets here, we'll feel that we earned every single breeze, every giddily cool morning, every spectacular sunset, every overnight low in the 50s, and every sportscast full of football with just a hint of basketball on the horizon.

In the meantime, we've still got this August thing to deal with, so whaddya say we try to make the most of it? I've come up with a few things to help us get through the 47 days of August.

(They tell me that it's only 31 days, but it sure feels like Lent to me. Or at least what Lent would feel like in North Hell. During the real Lent, I give up fried chicken. During August, it's too hot to eat fried chicken. That's a subtle difference, at best.)

The first thing we have to do is get behind the Sidewinders in their stretch run. Not for the sake of baseball or to momentarily bail out the political dolts who put Tucson Electric Park down in East Butt Cheek. No, we should all go and watch because they're involved in something that only comes around maybe once in a generation.

See, at press time, the Sidewinders were tied for second with Sacramento in their division, but were only one-half game behind first-place Las Vegas. (The last-place team, Fresno, was only three games out.) The really cool thing is that all four teams have industrial-strength crappy records. League-leading Las Vegas is five games below .500, which means that the Sidewinders would need a six-game winning streak just to reach the break-even point.

Look at it this way: Eight of the 12 teams in the other three divisions of the Pacific Coast League would be in first place if they were in the Pacific Conference's Southern Division. Portland, which has the same record as Las Vegas, is in third place in its Northern Division, 16 games out of first. Their season was over by the summer solstice.

It'll be fun to see if Tucson can rise to the level of mediocrity and steal the division crown.

This won't be like your normal race where two really good teams are sprinting to the finish line. This will be like having Norm, Cliff, Frasier and that other fat guy (Phil) on "Cheers" running 400 meters for the opportunity to see Salma Hayek naked. They'd all try real hard, a couple of them might die in the process, but somebody's got to win and, in relative terms, it would be real exciting for them to do so.

In order to win this thing, at least one team will have to play better than it has all season. The Sidewinders are actually in a great position with 16 home games against division rivals remaining. Alas, trying to get this team to win more than one in a row is like trying to persuade Lara Flynn Boyle that she might benefit from eating solid food.

Still, this could be fun.

Next, we can watch the Perseids meteor showers in mid-month. Every year I try to watch them but I'm constantly thwarted by monsoon cloud cover. So this year, I'm going up on Mt. Lemmon. I've never actually been on Mt. Lemmon before, so that would kill two birds with one stone. Hey! I've only lived here 25 years; I figured I'd wait until the construction was done.

I've got an idea. Let's all go up on Mt. Lemmon to watch the Perseids. See how the merchants up there like that action.

Or, we could spend the next few weeks getting fired up about UA football, which, according to some preseason mags, is set to finish dead last in the Pac-10. But the Cats start off with San Diego State, Idaho, UNLV and Washington State, so they could be flying high at 4-0 before they start breaking our hearts. Heck, they started out 5-1 last year and we all remember how well that ended up.

But this is a new season. It's a new coach. It's a new era. It's ... aw heck, I can't go on. It's too hot. It's too nasty. Today, it's (like they say in Europe) 2 August.

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