ISO My Husband, Somewhere in Orbit

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, staying in touch with her high-flying hubby, astronaut Mark Kelly.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, staying in touch with her high-flying hubby, astronaut Mark Kelly. (Courtesy Gabrielle Giffords - )
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

After a busy weekend, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords flew into BWI yesterday, took the train to Union Station, then ran into a bar searching for a TV.

"I pleaded with the bartender, who had it tuned to some sports station, with a straight face: 'My husband is the commander of space shuttle Discovery. They're in the process of rendezvousing with the international pace station. May I please turn the channel?' " Giffords told us. "He looked a little confused and handed me the remote."

The Arizona Democrat, who turns 38 on Sunday, became a NASA spouse when she married 44-year-old astronaut Mark Kelly in November. The two have maintained a long-distance marriage ever since: she in Tucson and D.C.; he in Houston -- and for the next 11 days, 218 miles out in space. She'll watch him on the news every day, and wear her Christmas gift: a meteorite he had made into a pendant for her.

Giffords was in Florida for Saturday's launch and will return on June 14 for the landing. In between, they'll make do with short e-mails ("Obviously, he's a little busy") and calls to her cellphone. (Extra roaming charges?) Family members get to pick the music that wakes the crew; Giffords selected "A Life on the Ocean Wave," the theme of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kelly's alma mater) and "Crystal Frontier" by the Tucson-based band Calexico.

This is Kelly's third trip into space. He's shepherding a $1 billion space lab, a pump to repair a broken toilet, a Buzz Lightyear doll and two items from his bride: a flag from the National Day of the Cowboy Organization ("I just thought we needed cowboy representation up there") and her wedding band, inscribed: You're the closest to heaven that I've ever been."And he would know," she said.

In Va. Wine Country: Musical Chairs Followed by Punch

The family feud over Oasis Winery of Hume, Va. -- the place that Shaquille O'Neal flirted with buying -- has taken another "Falcon Crest" turn: In criminal charges and a new lawsuit, the founder's son alleges his mom's attorney slugged him. Tareq Salahi claims his mother, Corinne Salahi-- with whom he is fighting for control of the estate -- wrongly moved some chairs from his house to the winery; when he moved them back, he claims, her lawyer, Thomas Brownell, punched him in the shoulder and threw him into a door. "Tareq is a big man; it takes a lot of force to do that," said the younger Salahi's attorney, Stephanie Ryan, who last week filed suit in Fairfax County against Brownell and his firm, Holland & Knight. (The suit also alleges that another lawyer threatened her client.) Brownell is also facing misdemeanor assault charges in Fauquier General District Court. A rep for the law firm declined comment, citing a gag order. Shaq, you were wise not to get involved.


ยท Tatum O'Neal, the youngest person ever to win an Oscar, was released without bail yesterday after her Sunday night arrest for an alleged cocaine purchase in N.Y.C. Sources told the tabloids that the 44-year-old (who won the 1973 Best Supporting Actress prize at age 10 for "Paper Moon") initially told cops she was doing "research" for a role. The daughter of Ryan O'Neal and ex-wife of John McEnroe described her past drug abuse and rehab in a 2004 memoir. She'll be back in court on the misdemeanor possession charge July 28.


That glam 68-foot yacht on the Georgetown waterfront Friday? Belongs to Michael Saylor, who kicked off the summer soiree season with an invitation-only dinner on the floating party palace he named Firefly. Saylor bought the $2.95 million Italian Azimut last year; it's the biggest boat that fits under the Potomac's lowest bridge. Gawkers watched as MicroStrategy's millionaire bachelor and his 40 or so guests (all beautiful, reports our spy) were served by waiters and bartenders; crew stood on deck politely keeping crashers at bay.

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