2002 Notebook: Weak XLV
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5 November 2002
No. 9,530 (cartoon)
How can I tell if I’m dead?

You can’t.

I was afraid of that.

6 November 2002
The Grim Election News
Yesterday, the greedy, spineless conservatives in the American Republican party defeated the spineless, greedy conservatives in the American Democratic party in national elections. The triumph of the greater of two evils sent Walter into a foul froth.

“I’d say big money won the election yesterday, wouldn’t you?” Walter asked. “And don’t you think the war mongers and corporate crooks who paid for yesterday’s victories are rubbing their fat, greasy hands in glee now that they’ve installed their stooges in public office? Can you believe how stupid people are to have voted for the very idiots who are shredding their constitution and turning the country into a police state? And wouldn’t it be fair to say that ...”

“Hang on,” I interrupted. “You’ve just used up your quota of rhetorical questions. The answers are yes, yes, and yes; care for a beer?”

“I assume that’s a rhetorical question,” Walter grumbled.

7 November 2002
Texas Isn’t What It Used to Be
This is the first time I’ve been in Texas since the last time I was in Texas. I can’t believe I’ve been away for six years; these Texans are a hoot! Those hilarious accents! Those women with improbably big hair! And all those big, yellow pickup trucks!

But under the familiar, ridiculous façade, Texas is not what it used to be.

After Gregg picked me up to the airport, I asked him for a corkscrew to open one of the bottles of wine I brought from San Francisco.

“Can’t do that, I’m afraid,” Gregg said.

“And neither can I,” I replied. “Those airline idiots wouldn’t let me take my Swiss Army knife on the plane. Where’s yours?”

“Right here,” Gregg replied, “but that’s not the point. Last year, Texas politicians outlawed drinking alcoholic beverages in a moving vehicle.”

I didn’t know what to say. Years ago, it was legal here in Texas for both the driver and passengers to drink while driving, as well as fire guns from a moving vehicle. Although I think it’s only prudent and sensible for drivers to concentrate on driving without the distractions of drinking and target practice, I was shocked to hear that passengers now have to endure the seared, barren monotony of the Texas landscape without even a cold beer for mild respite.

Like most things, Texas isn’t what it used to be.

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8 November 2002
Rebels I Wouldn’t Understand
Elliot took me to my first Texas high school football game tonight, and I’m still in shock.

“Why is this twelve-thousand seat stadium called The Hawkville I.S.D. [Independent School District] Fine Arts/Athletic Complex?” I asked.

“Some sort of scam to get a majority taxpayers to vote to pay for it,” Elliot explained. “You wouldn’t believe it, but there are some folks here—Yankees, mostly, I reckon—that don’t like football. I think there’s a room in back of the press box where kids make collages, do fingerpainting, that sort of thing.”

The children from Hawkville High School were attired in various forms of clothing featuring iconography from the American Confederacy. Many of the kids wore shirts featuring the slogan, “Rebel Tradition ... You Wouldn’t Understand!”

They were correct.

I saw a young, black woman earnestly screaming “Go rebels!” during the game. I was disturbed and confused until I saw the words “DADA Supreme” stitched on the back of her satin jacket. DADA Supreme, absolutely.

And then there were the Hawkville Dixie Belles, teenage girls wearing identical, bizarre costumes, something like a Texan synthesis of Japanese schoolgirl fetish outfits, Junior Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Follies Bourgeoisie. The audience seemed deeply appreciative when the girls kicked their white cowboy boots high in the air to lift their miniskirts and reveal their rebel-red underwear.

And why were other girls in long, black, velvet dresses—with a long slit up the side—twirling fake, plywood rifles painted glossy white?

I do not understand rebel tradition.

9 November 2002
A Question You Just Don’t Ask
I had lunch at Pistol Pete’s All-You-Can-Eat Tasty Tacos and Texas Taters Restaurant today. The tacos were neither tasty nor tacos, and I doubt that the “Texas Taters” shared even the smallest strand of DNA with any common potato. Pete, however, was in fact armed.

I knew I didn’t fit in when a small boy came up to my table and asked me, “Hey, mister, you from Texas?” Before I could come up with an answer, the boy’s father approached me and apologized for his son’s behavior.

“No problem,” I replied. “Seemed like a reasonable question to me.”

The man didn’t reply. As the pair walked away, I heard the father gently reprimand his son.

“Boy, you never ask a man if he’s from Texas. If he is, he’ll tell you,” he explained. “And if he ain’t, you shouldn’t embarrass him.

10 November 2002
Cheeseburgers and Pills!
I’ve never cared much for Elvis Presley’s music, but I’ve always admired his way of life. Anyone who blasts televisions with a handgun earns my respect. For years, I’ve been composing a musical tribute to Elvis, but, in an extraordinarily persistent case of writer’s block, I haven’t been able to get past the first four lines.

    Cheeseburgers and pills,
    Cheeseburgers and pills,
    That’s how I get my thrills,
    Cheeseburgers and pills!

Some people claim there’s more to life than cheeseburgers and pills. I, for one, disagree.

11 November 2002
Another Story of Stupidity
Sixty-one hear old James F. Welles, Ph. D., of Pompano Beach, Florida was taken into custody after allegedly trying to arrange sex with a fifteen-year old girl over the Internet. Authorities nabbed the author after he arranged to meet girl—who turned out to be an undercover male detective—at a restaurant. Welles was later released on fifty-thousand dollars bail after being charged with soliciting a minor over the Internet.

“We can’t be lovey-dovey in public,” Welles allegedly wrote. Thus he reportedly suggested the ever-popular and romantic idea of having sex in the back of a car. “Bottom line,” he added, “I’m committing a crime.”

Ordinarily, this would be just another sad story of a pathetic, stupid old man except for one delightful twist. Welles is the author of The Story of Stupidity and Understanding Stupidity.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart