2003 Notebook: Weak XXI
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21 May 2003
No. 6,724 (cartoon)
You’re only fooling yourself.

That’s good enough for me.

22 May 2003
That Doctor Lehman! Hoo boy! She’s up and gone and done it again!

With a flick of an elegant wrist or the almost imperceptible wiggle of a pinkie, Doctor Lehman pulls conceptual rabbits out of her imaginary hat like there’s no tomorrow. Her latest feat is a collection of writing, Asleep and Out of Control. That’s the best title I’ve heard since Colin McEnroe came up with, How To Lose Weight through Great Sex with Celebrities (the Elvis Way).

You really can judge a book by its cover, or maybe you can’t. I’m not exactly sure.

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23 May 2003
The End of the Forties
I had a frightful fright tonight. Here’s how I remember the exchange I had with the proprietor of Asad’s Market after I put a couple Rainier Ale forties on his counter.

“That’s it.”

“What do you mean?”

“That’s it; no more.”

“No more Rainier Ale?”

“They stopped making it, no more.”

“You mean this is the last of it?”

“No more after this.”

That’s when I panicked; I felt my will to live modestly diminished.

It turns out that although the refreshing, forty-ounce towers are now history, my favorite adult beverage is still available in the pill-sized pints. Whew; that was close!

I’m sad to see the end of the forties, but not entirely surprised. I got a hint that the end was near over four years ago when the company replaced the handsome Rainier Ale bottle caps with cheap, generic tops.

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

24 May 2003
Alive or Dead Horses
“Always bet on the dead horse or the live horse,” Wiley advised.

“So Wiley,” I asked, “why in the world is that?”

“First rule of gambling, my son,” he replied, “always keep your eye on the odds.”

“Stare,” I suggested.

And that’s how we left things.

25 May 2003
The Hierarchy of Curses?
A dear friend recently said, “My big curse is that I seek clarity rather than imposing it.”

“As big curses go,” I replied, “I think you’re not doing so bad.”

She frowned.

I suppose I should have been more sympathetic. After all, who am I to judge the hierarchy of curses?

26 May 2003
The Better Artists
Although I generally dislike hierarchies, I must admit that there are two types of people who are better artists than I am. (And better than you are, for that matter.)

First, we recognize that we could be as accomplished as some of the people we admire if we just worked a bit harder, slept a bit less, did all the things our parents admonished us to do, that sort of thing. We also know that will never happen.

And then we have The Most Brilliant People on Earth. In this case, we recognize that these people do things that are simply beyond us.

And then we die.

27 May 2003
Baroness Strange and Beyond
I just discovered an unexpected source of comic brilliance at a most improbable address: the British House of Lords. The noble lords are completely away with the faeries! Whether it’s inbreeding, absinthe, or centuries of breathing their own fumes, the right honorable clowns are more out of touch with reality than a three-liters of vodka a day alcoholic.

For example, Lord Renton may be one of few English-speaking politicians who doesn’t know that “spam” is an euphemism for junk email. And so it was that he asked one of his colleagues, “My Lords, will the Minister explain how it is that an inedible tinned food that lasted for ever and was supplied to those on active service can become an unsolicited email, bearing in mind that some of us wish to be protected from having an email?”

I suspect the noble lord’s ignorance will protect him from “having an email” for some time to come.

For a taste of life in the dusty chambers, here’s a transcript of the debate that preceded the spam debate.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Statistics show that the number of accidents from corned beef cans has been declining and they are not a major cause of accidents now.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer, but does he understand that many of us still believe corned beef tins and, indeed, other varieties of pull-top cans, to be inherently unsafe?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I am delighted that the noble Lord has asked me a Question about corned beef cans. I have been answering questions about them all my life and I regard them as one of my real areas of expertise.

There has in fact been a remarkable drop in accidents with corned beef cans. They have fallen from 8,720 per year out of 26,000 accidents caused by all tins to 3,091 out of 19,000. I should point out that the really dramatic decrease came after 1997.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, can the noble Lord say whether ring-pull cans are safer than ordinary cans which are opened with a tin-opener? Which is safest?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I am not sure that I can give exact details between the different kinds of can, but the one which is used for corned beef is particularly disliked by people, mainly because they lose the keys and then attack the corned beef can with whatever is at hand. If the noble Baroness would like to pursue this point, I can probably find her some detailed statistics.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, is the Minister aware that if, having taken off one end of the corned beef can with the twisty thing provided—assuming that you have not lost it—you then take a common, ordinary, household tin-opener and take off the other end, it is very easy to push the corned beef out of the tin without any danger to yourself?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Yes, my Lords, I was aware of that, and I am very glad that that essential piece of information is passed round for the benefit of this House.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, does the Minister agree that sardine tins and anchovy tins are also very difficult to open with their tin-openers?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I think I will just agree with the noble Baroness on that question.

Go Baroness Strange, go!

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©2003 David Glenn Rinehart