Before We Say Goodbye

Some things to remember about the summer of 2003.

OK, summer's over. It's September, and the NFL is starting. Turn off the swamp coolers and break out the sweaters.

I know the National Weather Service says it has hit 100 degrees as late as Oct. 19, but that's October heat. It's different. The angle of the sun makes it bearable. And it's cool at night.

Don't give me any of that nonsense about real seasons. Summer runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day. I know the solstice is still a couple weeks away, but the only people who really care about that stuff are pagans who use it as a dress rehearsal for Halloween.

We've made it through another summer, somewhat worse for wear. Summerhaven burned down, but there are already plans to rebuild. We got some rain, but not enough. And gas prices spiked again for no good reason, but at least we didn't have gas lines like in Phoenix. However, on the bright side, the UA football team is undefeated. Say it while you can.

As we say goodbye to the summer of '03, let's not forget the:

Best Movie of the Summer: For once, the biggest money-making movie of the summer, Finding Nemo, was also the best. This may be the greatest animated movie of all time, and it (along with Seabiscuit, Open Range and the wonderful Bend It Like Beckham) helped movie lovers forget about the torrent of crap the studios threw at us.

At the same time, the ranks of Blockbusters That Sucked (movies that raked in large amounts of money--usually in the first weekend--but about which nobody will say a kind word) swelled with the addition of The Matrix Reloaded, Charlie's Angel's Full Throttle, Hulk and the absolutely dreadful Bad Boys II.

Best TV Show (With First-Run Episodes) of the Summer: Nip/Tuck drew huge audiences to FX with its smutty dialogue and salacious content, and the charming Monk, with Tony Shalhoub as the obsessive/compulsive title detective, delighted us with another all-too-short season on USA. But the big deal for the discriminating TV viewer (and yes, there is such a thing) was MI-5 on Arts & Entertainment.

Intricately plotted and well-acted by an ensemble cast, the show follows several members of the branch of Her Majesty's Secret Service that deals with domestic security. (As with our FBI and CIA, MI-5 occasionally butts heads with MI-6, which is supposed to operate strictly outside of the country.) Mannered and clever, this is great TV.

Try to catch it before it finishes its limited run, or if and when it comes back. And do yourself a favor by taping it. The British accents are thick, and it's real easy to miss a plot point.

Strangest Religious News of the Summer: Televangelist Pat Robertson, who, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, claims to be a Christian, spent part of his summer praying that certain members of the United States Supreme Court would have strokes or suffer other debilitating illnesses so they'd have to leave in time for George W. Bush to appoint more right-leaning justices before he gets voted out of office next November.

Earlier in the summer, Robertson tried to rally his faithful to work against a Middle East peace proposal that included the formation of a Palestinian state, claiming that God doesn't want Israel to be subdivided.

According to Robertson's Web site, "On April 30, 2003, America was positioned as the catalyst to jump-start the so-called 'solution' to the Middle East Crisis (and) the peace plan was set in motion. The very next day began the worst month of tornadoes in American history, with more than 500 in a single month." (Imagine that! Tornadoes in America. In the springtime!)

This is not his first foray into meteorology. It should be noted that a few years back, Robertson, speaking for God, said that a hurricane would hit Orlando, Fla. in retribution for a gay celebration that was to be held in that city. (Even though Orlando is about as far inland as one can get in the peninsula of Florida, predicting that a hurricane will hit Disney World is not a big stretch.)

That very year, Hurricane Bonnie slammed into Virginia Beach, Va., home of Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network.

Dumbest Political Statement of the Summer (A very crowded category): In other hurricane-related news, Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee complained to the National Weather Service that no tropical storms are given (in her words) "black names."

Maybe they should humor her, lest she find some vindictive way to cut their funding. Why not name one after the greatest black actor of our time, James Earl Jones? Or, if you want to be hipper, name one for the best R&B/hip-hop singer of the day, Mary J. Blige. What the heck, if Rep. Lee wants stereotypes, why not go with the greatest athlete of the past quarter-century, Michael Jordan?

Yeah, call it Hurricane Michael, but have an asterisk that explains that it's for all of the black people named Michael.

Congresswoman, you're an idiot É for all seasons.

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