2001 Notebook: Weak XLVIII
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26 November 2001
Severed Chocolate Fingers
I usually don’t appreciate chocolate or gifts, but I was delighted to receive four severed chocolate fingers, complete with simulated raspberry filling. A severed chocolate finger alone is a source of joy, and the simulated raspberry filling radiates contentment.

Why haven’t I seen severed chocolate fingers before?

27 November 2001
A French Standoff
I’m having a terrible time aboard Air France Flight 84 from Paris to San Francisco. The surly French waitresses of the sky keep talking to me in French, as if I hadn’t bathed in a week, as if I wasn’t headed to a state where only seventy-three people speak the Garlic language.

But that’s not the worst of my problems.

It seems that none of the sullen air servants realize the perils of dehydration on eleven-hour flights. I’m on my own, and decided to act accordingly. That’s when the real trouble started.

“Monsieur, no no no no no!”

That’s what the nefarious “flight attendant” shrieked when she caught me grabbing a few tiny bottles of cheap wine from the galley. Le grande fit du hissy!

Then things got worse.

Since none of my three French basic phrases seemed appropriate for the situation, I resorted to primitive French. I made a nasally congested snort followed my an almost inaudible grunt.

The waitress of the sky responded in kind. She threw back her head, aimed her nostrils at me, snorted contemptuously, then made a strange guttural sound.

It was a French standoff.

28 November 2001
Duck Art
The American government only sponsors one art competition, and it’s something else. Unlike so many contemporary aesthetic concerns, the Americans know exactly what they want. In a word, “ducks.”

The American government is a collector with narrowly defined interests. Every year, the American government wants to review more images of ducks. No kittens, beautiful women, or heroic landscapes need apply; the bureaucrats want pictures of ducks.

When it comes to art, the American government’s desires are extraordinarily practical. The government reproduces the image winning duck on federal “duck stamps,” a government license every duck hunter is required to purchase.

Government art: quack, quack, quack!

29 November 2001
Two Down, Two to Go
Although I’m generally a nice guy, I must confess that I have a perverse interest in offensive humor as long as it’s not racist, sexist, or any of the other unacceptable -ists. Perhaps the best—or maybe the worst—example of my unfortunate taste is my favorite joke of all time.

Q: What would it take to reunite the Beatles?

A: Three more bullets.

I’ll never tell that horrible joke again. I just learned that, like all things, George Harrison has passed. It’s all very sad. Fifty-eight is too young to die, and cancer’s a horrible way to go. Although I’ve never had any interest in Harrison’s spiritual pursuits, I’ve always liked his music, especially his plaintive voice.

This is all very morose, but I suppose that’s to be expected when it comes to death and bad jokes.

30 November 2001
A Blemish on My Horizon
It’s almost December. Almost, but not quite. And so it is that I’m annoyed by a blemish on the San Francisco skyline. Some inconsiderate ninnies have filled the window of their high-rise apartment with gaudy holiday lighting. In November, even!

The garish display is an electric carbuncle on an otherwise grand panorama. I’m annoyed, but only moderately. It’s only going to get worse over the next few weeks.

Bah humbug.

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1 December 2001
Corporate Fine Arts Vision
Edwin sent a cryptic email suggesting I have a look at Grundig Vertriebs GmbH’s new product, “Fine Arts Vision.” Edwin’s an untrustworthy scoundrel, but I couldn’t resist taking the bait. I went to Grundig’s Internet site and discovered the claim, “Fine Arts Vision is more than an exclusive television set.”

In fact, Fine Arts Vision appears to be nothing more than the biggest television set in the world. The Grundig site shows a grown man dwarfed by a mammoth television set the size of a truck. I can’t tell whether the man is controlling the television, or vice-versa.

The ad promises, “a new dimension in vision coupled with creative aesthetics.” Creative aesthetics! What will those wacky Germans think of next?!

I have no use for Grundig’s “Fine Arts Vision.” Although the Teutonic box is a handsome toy, I doubt there’s anything in it.

2 December 2001
Contemporary Art Perspectives
Gert thought I might enjoy reading a new periodical, Contemporary Art Perspectives. Gert was wrong.

Contemporary Art Perspectives is a tedious read, full of long-winded essays in which a variety of critics go on and on and on and on some more. The writers spoke with one voice, the voice of a boor.

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart