Well, whew. It’s done. My big self-imposed-writing-deadline project, that is. I rewrote it, then re-rewrote it, then spat upon it, cursed it, and re-rewrote it again, which by this point mainly consists of block/save/pasting with fingers crossed. It goes to FedEx tomorrow.
And no, you can’t know what it is. If it bears fruit — months away — I’ll be happy to shout it from the rooftops, but for now it’s just Unworthy Writing Project No. 3,984.
The Tour de Lance could not end too soon for me. I’ve been enjoying every minute of it, because it involves many stimulating photographs. But three weeks of Lance is just about enough, even for a girl who enjoys examining every striation in you-know-who’s quadriceps. Also, unlike the pituitary cases and mesomorphs who play everything else, we have this bond because we’re both cyclists. He rides up the slopes of the Pyrenees, I ride — or rode — up the slopes of Ann Arbor, Mich. — we’re practically twins! And yeah, he’s hot.
The question remains: Is Lance on dope? Lance says no, and I’m just goofy enough to believe him, especially when I read about his training regimen. Ultimately, though, I reserve the right to have the same reaction so many men have had when I pointed out that this or that woman they were ogling had plastic breasts: “And this is a problem…why?” sums it up pretty well. Maybe Lance is simply an athlete with enough brains not to get caught, or maybe — it’s just crazy enough to be true — he’s telling the truth. Maybe he owes his success to the fact he spends every damn waking hour riding his bike fast.
Anyway, I don’t care.
Best Tour stories of the weekend:
The New York Times on the lanterne rouge, the guy in last place. Jimmy Casper was so far behind the field he was fined by race officials for, get this, allowing spectators to push him up the hills. A man after my own heart.
Sally Jenkins in the WashPost maybe goes a lee-tle over the top in her Lance-mania, but she’s upfront about her prejudice: Armstrong has his detractors and doubters, but I’m not one of them. My view of him is colored by affection: He’s my friend and he gave me a bestseller. OK, fine. It’s still a good column, but this one, about Lance’s coach, was better.
The other thing I think you should take note of was in Friday’s Salon, an interview with the mother of Mark Bingham, one of the heroes of Flight 93, the one that crashed into the Pennsylvania field. (You’ll have to watch a short ad, but don’t complain — it’s worth it.) Maybe I’ve been snoozing, but it’s the first detailed account of what the families heard on the cockpit voice recorders, and even almost three years later, it’s knee-buckling, eye-tearing stuff:
At this point, Hoglan says, a struggle mounts in the rear of the plane. It’s the moment when Todd Beamer, an account manager for Oracle, utters the now famous line, “Let’s roll.” A few seconds later, Hoglan says, “you hear somebody being killed, probably strangled. And then you hear Todd Beamer saying something like, ‘God help us.’
“That’s when they run forward and you hear this ‘rrrraaahhh’ getting closer to the cockpit. You visualize guys running forward and yelling, trying to get their blood up. They’re unarmed and they’re going after these guys they know have killed people and have knives. You hear them say, ‘In the cockpit, in the cockpit, in the cockpit!’ Then you hear this terrible bloodscream. I know it’s silly, but it sounds like somebody who is a non-native speaker, probably the terrorist by the door. Next you hear this terrible crashing of a food cart, and I’m a flight attendant, so I’ve heard crashing carts before.
“They ram the door with the cart and all of a sudden you hear these voices in English getting louder. Remember, the terrorists are at the controls, and the plane is heaving back and forth at very low altitudes. If you’ve ever tried to walk in turbulence, you know how tough that is. I think the hijackers are now in this terrible struggle and know they are going to be subdued by the passengers, so they start thrashing the airplane around, more than ever.”
Hoglan says that an Arabic voice inside the cockpit then asks, “Finish her now?” The answer comes back, “No, not yet.” Then, she adds, “maybe a minute later, with more scuffling and struggling in the background, the very last thing you hear is a low voice spoken in English: “Pull it up, pull it up.” It probably signals the last struggle, they are probably trying to get control of the airplane. Maybe their hands are on the controls when the plane goes into the ground.”
I don’t really believe in God, but it’s hard to be a mammal with higher-level thinking skills and wonder what a death like the one these passengers suffers does to your…soul, or karma, or whatever. Who wouldn’t want to go out like these folks, who, the 9/11 commission pointed out, were the only Americans that day to appreciate the gravity of their situation and act accordingly? Who doesn’t want to die a hero?
OK, so one last thing, again from the NYT. According to blog aggregators, everybody’s linking to Okrent’s column, but I won’t, because this was the most entertaining thing in today’s paper, for me: A feature on the world’s foremost tosser-of-bouquets-at-ballet-dancers. Hilarious.
See you tomorrow, when No! Deadlines! Reign!