2004 Notebook: Weak XXIX
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17 July 2004
No. 4,652 (cartoon)
I think you should go far.


Yes, start now.

18 July 2004
An English Breakfast
Today, I spent two hours at a London airport on my first visit to England this year. That proved to be just time enough for the classic English breakfast: a couple of large glasses filled with gin and tonic water, followed by a gin and tonic. Pip pip cheerio; perfectly scrummy.

I’m glad to be in Italy now; two hours a year is about the right amount of time, on average, to spend in the United [sic] Kingdom annually. I may skip the next few years and spend six hours there in 2007; that will give me enough time to get far enough away from the airport to find some decent fish and chips.

19 July 2004
Television in Italian
I dislike television; we don’t have one at the lab. Italian television is different, though, and I’m quite enjoying it. I’m sure it’s broadcasting the same consumerism brainwashing as every other television, but, since I only know one or two words of Italian, I can’t hear the annoying messages. I’m not watching, either, so I’m not distracted by visual images. Instead, I’m marveling at the Italian language: beautissimo!

I don’t know if they’re trying to sell me deodorant or insurance; it’s all poetry to me.

20 July 2004
A Harmless Italian Mosquito
I was sitting at my computer this afternoon on a balcony overlooking the sea off Sorrento when I spotted a mosquito. Damnation; no one told me about Italian mosquitos!

The mosquito landed beside my computer, then stuck its sucky sticky thingie into a drop of red wine Francesca spilled. What a triumph of evolution! I wish old Charlie Darwin was around to share our excitement. Instead of getting mildly-diluted red wine from my arm, this clever mosquito had figured out how to get a drink while minimizing the risk of getting slapped to death.

Viva Italia!

21 July 2004
The Foreign Language Trap
I’m by myself today, and I’ve fallen into the foreign language trap. I don’t want to go into any place in Italy with signs in English; it’s obvious they’re preying on stupid tourists. On the other hand, I don’t want to go into a place catering to locals since I speak virtually no Italian.

I’m in a familiar predicament, so I know what to do. When I get hungry and thirsty, all I have to do is reach in my shoulder bag and pull out some bread, cheese, and wine.

Bono appetito!

22 July 2004
Whales Are Delicious
I’m here at the International Whaling Commission meeting in Sorrento, and I’ve annoyed an alleged environmentalist. I suggested that he was wasting his time here; the whales are big enough to take care of themselves. He responded by accusing me of “not loving whales.”

“That’s not true,” I replied, “I do love whale, especially raw, with soy sauce and wasabi.”

He looked confused, so I added, “Whales are delicious!”

23 July 2004
Unhelpful Carabinieri
There are two types of Italian police. Like every other country, Italy has regular cops that write parking tickets, corral drunks, eat donuts and drink coffee, those sort of things. And then there are the Carabinieri.

Carabinieri is Italian for “carbonated,” and these are the effervescent police who ensure everyone’s happy. They help children and old people cross busy streets, find missing cats, eat biscotti and drink espresso, that sort of thing. Or so I was told.

After losing my Swiss army knife, I was wandering around Napoli with a bottle of wine and no corkscrew. And so it was that I relieved to run into a group of five Carabinieri; they were standing around their Carabinierimobile, smoking cigarettes and looking fashionably macho in designer sunglasses. I figured one of the bubbly police had to have a corkscrew, so I pointed to my bottle of wine and made the universal corkscrew gesture with my left hand.

Or, maybe I didn’t.

One of the Carabinieri made an even more universal (?) gesture of ill will, another threw his cigarette at me, and they all started yelling at me, something like, “Adagio spaghetti casu marzu pistachio!” Or something like that.

If these are the effervescent cops, the regular police must be really surly.

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©2004 David Glenn Rinehart