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It must be tiring as hell processing the world with Sarah Vowell’s synaptically overfiring brain. According to this frequent contributor to NPR’s This American Life, Tom Cruise isn’t just a movie star, he’s a geometry equation: “Cruise’s face is too angular to be sensual. Whoever said that there are no straight lines in nature never bought a ticket to The Firm.” A legendary Dallas Cowboys coach provided Vowell with her first deep, dark thoughts: “[H]is life had greater, more metaphysical manifestations. At least to me. Before Sartre, before Camus, there was Tom Landry. He introduced me to existentialism.” And when she and her friends play Pop-A-Shot (“the crack cocaine of basketball”), they are not just merely adults playing an arcade game, but “patriots pursuing happiness.” Vowell reads tonight from her new collection of essays, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, so maybe she’ll expound on the Underground Lunchroom in New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns. After all, it’s not just a kitschy snackshop but “a place to sit and ponder my own insignificance.” She’s here at 7 p.m. at Borders, 18th and L Streets NW. Free. (202) 466-4999. (Sean Daly)