2001 Notebook: Weak XLIX
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3 December 2001
Suicide Attempt Mail
Wade’s new copy of Spelunking Photographer magazine arrived in a plastic bag. I suppose it had to happen, since publishers are cramming more and more postcards, brochures, and other filler into their flimsy publications. I was surprised, though, to see that the bag was made from “USPS [United States Postal Service] 801 Approved Poly[ethylene].”

Yikes! Whether it’s a computer crash or a plane crash, any number that police radio operators use to refer to a suicide attempt is usually bad news.

Wade agreed that the bag was clearly dangerous, so we filled it with salmon bones and threw it in the incinerator. When it comes to 801, it pays to be cautious.

4 December 2001
The Sound of Text Sex
“Aiwa, aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwa aiwaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh.”

That’s Sean Thomas’s eleven-word sentence from Kissing England that won last year’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award. And here’s an award-winning excerpt from Christopher Hart’s second novel, Rescue Me.

“Her hand is moving away from my knee and heading north. Heading unnervingly and with a steely will towards the pole ... Ever northward moves her hand, while she smiles languorously at my right ear. And when she reaches the north pole, I think in wonder and terror—she will surely want to pitch her tent.”

Although I almost always dislike any arts-related contests, I think the Bad Sex in Fiction Award is undeniably brilliant. It’s just like Richard Le Gallienne said, “You can’t fake it. Bad writing is a gift.”

5 December 2001
Have a Miserable Birthday, Walt
Walt Disney would have been one hundred years old today, but I’m not celebrating. I’ve heard nothing but bad things about what a greedy, homophobic, narrow, and unpleasant little man he was; many of his employees referred his animation factories as Mauschwitz.

Although I’ve enjoyed some of Disney’s animations, for some reason I can’t help but associate Disney’s good work with Disney’s bad behavior. And that’s unusual. A lot of my favorite artists weren’t very nice people; some were downright despicable. At least I think that’s the case; I’ve successfully preserved my ignorance. After all, there’s not much good art around, and I suspect if I limited my aesthetic tastes to good art by good people, I’d go to bed hungry every night.

Have a miserable birthday, Walt.

6 December 2001
Cookery, Not Recipes
I read an interesting article about the Command Staff College in Shrivenham, Wiltshire, England. Although all of the College’s employees talked about creativity, nonlinear thinking, and other laudable practices, I never managed to forget that the college’s ultimate goal was to help military officers to use violence more effectively.

Despite my abhorrence of violence, I had to appreciate one of the staff member’s observations.

“Here we must teach cookery,” said senior lecturer Gary Sheffield, “not recipes.”

Cookery, not recipes. I like that, Nevertheless, I still smell napalm.

7 December 2001
Handsome or Ugly Doesn’t Really Matter
Evelyn emailed me an interesting note in response to my notebook entry about how men are biologically attracted to beautiful women.

“Beautiful? Plain? Who cares?” she asked. “Handsome or ugly doesn’t matter for long; after a few years one gets used to both.”

I liked Evelyn’s theory. Having said that, I couldn’t help but recall that none of Evelyn’s relationships have lasted for more than a year. Empirical evidence may or may not be overrated.

8 December 2001
Texas Uber Alles
This American “patriotism” nonsense has quickly reached a predictable extreme. In Texas, the governor appointed David Dewhurst as the state’s director of “homeland security.” I may be getting old, but every time I hear the phrase “homeland security” I think about Nazi propaganda.

It looks like I’m not alone.

Dewhurst is a candidate for lieutenant governor, and his ads feature a mas macho soldier standing in front of a giant American flag. The ad has generated no small amount of controversy, though. The soldier in the question is a German soldier in a Luftwaffe uniform.

Who’s the bigger fool: the idiot that came up with the image, or the politician who approved it? That’s a tough call.

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9 December 2001
Mimosa Math
Dampy and Rebecca invited me to have breakfast at their Pink Pleasure Palace, and I had a great time. Dampy fried up some memorable garlic spuds, and Rebecca poured some fantastic mimosas. (Rebecca’s mimosas combine lots of champagne with a tiny splash of orange juice; she’s perfected the formula.)

Drinking alcohol in the morning provided a pleasant surprise. My learned friends and I calculated that one drink a bit before noon was equivalent to a couple drinks after noon, or three drinks in the evening, or four late-night drinks. We thought about that for a while, had some more mimosas, then thought about something else.

10 December 2001
Playing Rough With Escher and Mylar
I had a pleasant visit with Mary tonight. She lives near a great taqueria, so we bought some fine burritos, a liter or two of salsa, and some Rainier Ale. We went back to her place, and enjoyed our lovely meal with her cats, Escher and Mylar.

I’ve never met a cat that I didn’t like, except for perhaps Evil Tahoe. Having said that, Escher and Mylar are particularly fine cats. (Although I think it goes without saying that Escher and Mylar are Maine Coon cats, I’ll say it anyway: they’re Maine Coon cats.)

After dinner, we retired to the rumpus room to talk about human embryos and the like. As we chatted, I played with Escher and Mylar. I must have made the wrong move, because one of the feisty cats ripped open one of my fingers with her impressively sharp claws.

Blood everywhere.

“Would you like some alcohol?” Mary asked.

“It’s just a little cut,” I replied. “It should heal just fine by itself.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Mary explained. “Would you like another beer?”

I like Mary a lot. The tiny kitty cut healed quickly, and painlessly.

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart