2005 Notebook: Weak XLIV
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30 October 2005
No. 1,338 (cartoon)
Stop telling lies about me.

I will, if you’ll stop telling the truth about me.

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31 October 2005
Trick-or-Treating Strategies
Beverly has to work tonight, so she asked if I’d take her seven-year old daughter Samantha trick-or-treating. I cheerfully agreed.

Samantha wore a generic princess outfit, one that I didn’t think would serve her well in today’s cutthroat begging environment. To give her a competitive edge, I taped a dozen orange road flares to her arms and torso. The emergency flares were supposed to look like dynamite, even though they didn’t. Since they were reddish and cylindrical, they were adequate for our purpose. I also taped an old, broken walkie-talkie to her chest then gave her the script for the evening.

We decided to practice on her mother, which turned out to be a big mistake.

“That mean man’s gonna blow me up if you don’t give me all your candy right now,” she told Beverly.

I smiled, and pointed to the other broken walkie-talkie in my hands.

Beverly gave me a nasty look, and confiscated Samantha’s flares and walkie-talkie.

“C’mon, princess,” I told Samantha, “not much we can do if your mother doesn’t want us to try something different.”

“Goodbye, Sam, have a great time,” Beverly said. “Your mommy loves you. And as for you, David, I’ll deal with you later.”

I was afraid of that.

It turns out that Samantha ended up with tons of candy anyway, after she learned to say, “Please, may I have some more for the sick children at my orphanage?”

1 November 2005
Short for His Heighth
Beverly is a very tall woman; she’s exactly six feet tall. She reports that she regularly meets men who claim to be that tall, but are demonstrably shorter. Beverly is not a shy person, so when a poser says that he—and it always is a man—is as tall as she is, she asks for proof. And so, when they stand toe to toe, they rarely see eye to eye, since the liar ends up staring Beverly in the chin.

Beverly reports that the best excuse she ever got from a charlatan was, “I’m short for my heighth.”

2 November 2005
The Wrong Heighth?
Although I can cobble a few paragraphs together on a daily basis, I have only a tenuous grasp of the phenomenally complicated underbelly of the English language. And so it was that I asked Anika, one of my learned friends, to proofread recent notebook entries. Even though Anika’s Danish, she knows a lot more about my native tongue than I do.

When she came to yesterday’s entry, I told her that I always got confused between the words “height” and “heighth.” She told me that the rule is to always use “height” and never use “heighth.” I asked her why, and she gave me a simple explanation.

“Heighth isn’t a word,” she declared. “Never has been and never will be.”

“Ah,” I replied, “that would explain why I couldn't find it in the dictionary.”

After Anika left, I decided to get a second opinion. The Internet found over eighty thousand references to heighth. For example, Dickens used it in Great Expectations: “Pip, I wish you ever well and ever prospering to a greater and a greater heighth.” My favorite citation, though, was from an academic who declared, “... heighth was common until the nineteenth century when educated usage began to favor height.”

If educated users prefer “height,” I suppose that dictates that I use the archaic alternative.

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3 November 2005
Truth in Pizza Advertising
Piatza’s Pizza advertises fourteen-inch long slices of pizza. I’ve always been suspicious of that claim, so today I finally purchased one of the three-dollar slices and took it away for clandestine scrutiny. I’m pleased to report that the artery-clogging delight is, in fact, fourteen inches long.

The pizza wasn’t particularly tasty; the cheese and crust shared the same rubbery texture. The lack of quality, however, was more than offset by the gluttonous quality. In combination with a few cans of marginal beer, the pizza provided a cheap, piggy feast.

4 November 2005
Ono’s Appropriate Apology
Today’s newspaper featured a story that Yoko Ono apologized to Paul McCartney for suggesting that his songs were trite. The reporter tried to put Ono’s statement in context by noting, “McCartney has sometimes clashed with Ono, Lennon’s widow,” a statement roughly analogous to, “Palestinians and Israelis have, on occasion, found themselves at odds.”

I’m glad Ono offered a public correction. McCartney’s work is mediocre, insipid, vapid, hackneyed, and tedious, but, unless he gets much better, his songs certainly haven’t achieved triteness.

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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart