2005 Notebook: Weak XIV
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3 April 2005
No. 1 (cartoon)
Do you think I’m paranoid?

No. Everyone really does despise you.

(Technical aside: all the titles for my cartoons are created by a random number generator. For reasons known only to Chance, this cartoon is number one.)

4 April 2005
The Hierarchy of Poets
To avoid unnecessary delays, the poets in black berets defer to the poets covered in mayonnaise, but only on the odd-numbered days.

5 April 2005
Hello Kitty, Gagged
The attractive Japanese woman sitting next to me on the flight to Amsterdam had a white, fluffy sock in her mouth. Were it not for several visits to her inscrutable island, I might have supposed that she’s crazy. I understood, though, that she’s merely protecting herself from germs, real and imagined.

When the meal came, she pulled the sock out and held a napkin over her mouth, removing it only long enough to insert small bites of food. She sipped her drink through a straw. After dinner, she rolled up the sock and put it back in her mouth.

Occasionally, I’d catch her glancing at me nervously, as if she was debating what sort of Gaijin diseases I might spread. I tried to pretend I wasn’t breathing, but I think she saw through that.

We were both relieved when the tedious flight was over.

6 April 2005
Marijuana like Windmills
I was surprised to see that the train I took from Schiphol airport to Amsterdam’s central station had one carriage reserved for marijuana smoking only. Later, Gert explained that it’s a gimmick for tourists, “like the damned windmills.”

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7 April 2005
Giving Artists a Bad Name
I showed up at The Old Chain Pier this morning to begin two weeks as an artist in residence at the venerable Edinburgh pub. All the staff members I met were cheerful, courteous, and more than a little skeptical. They’d been told I was to have anything I wanted to eat and drink without charge; I think they’d all concluded I was receiving additional remuneration as well.

Everyone except Jacek—a recent immigrant from Poland—was too polite to say anything. Jacek asked me what I planned to do; I admitted that I had no idea except to make “some conceptual work.”

“With photographs?” he asked.

“Probably not,” I replied, “I just brought my camera to make some visual notes.”

“Ah, conceptual art,” Jacek said. “Ninety-nine percent of artists give the rest a bad name.”

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8 April 2005
Miles 1991-2005
I was upset to receive an email today announcing that Miles died this morning after a massive stroke. A few hours before he was chasing a dog ten times his size around the house to remind the poor canine who ran the place, and now he’s gone. I can only hope that my passing is similar, albeit without the dog.

Miles and I shared a common respect for each other and a common disdain for smelly, drooling dogs. When I housesat at Miles’ place, we’d dine on salmon while the pooches chewed on crunchy pellets of dried offal scraped from the slaughterhouse floor. After that, we’d retire to a large bedroom free from dog oil and lock the door. We ignored the dogs’ plaintive whining to be allowed to join the party; Miles and I agreed that they should know their place.

Any dog stupid and/or unfortunate to challenge Miles as the alpha animal usually only did it once. After feeling sharp claws tear through its delicate nose flesh, even the dumbest dog remembered who’s boss.

I’m sorry to see Miles go, but glad that he quite enjoyed each of his nine lives. (He should have died years ago after being mangled by a car, but love and veterinary medicine gave him another chance.)

Fine cats come and go, but I’m as certain as I can be about such things that I’ll never meet a cat like Miles again.

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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart