2005 Notebook: Weak XLVII
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20 November 2005
No. 4,100 (cartoon)
Do you ever fear failure?

No, I failed long ago.

21 November 2005
David Austin’s Two-and-a-Half Hour Day
I read that David Austin died a couple of days ago. And that’s too bad; he seems like someone I would have enjoyed meeting. He’s certainly a better cartoonist than I am, but that’s hardly remarkable in that I am perhaps the worst cartoonist in the universe. No, what I liked was his approach to his job; here’s the relevant bit from his obituary.

    He came into the main building in Farringon Road, Clerkenwell, each afternoon at four pm, read through the letters to be published the next morning, began identifying his possible themes, and went to the editorial conference at five pm. Then he scowled, stuck in his ear plugs—defiantly not an office-dweller, he did not like noise—scrawled sketches across complete pages of his notebook, and produced a set of nine little boxes containing drafts of his ideas. The duty editor chose one, the letters editor another, and David polished off the finished product. By six-thirty he was gone.

And, as of last Friday, he was really gone.

22 November 2005
Dead Cat of the Year
Ordinarily, the passing of a seventeen-year old cat of the year would be a sad occasion. Not this year, though, since the late 1998 cat of the year was a dog.

Ginny, a Siberian husky-schnauzer mix, was eulogized last week at the Westchester Cat Show. Evidently, the beast was renowned for discovering and saving pusses in peril.

I’m sorry, but such awards are just plain wrong. Although I can appreciate that some dogs may be somewhat less repulsive than others, there really is a divide between felines and canines that should be observed, if only to avoid dog oil.

Yes, I suppose it’s true that Ginny pawed through shards of glass to find an injured cat, but that doesn’t alter the fact that a dog is a dog, and that a dog is not a cat. Perhaps someone should construct a Hall of Fame for Tolerable Dogs; I’m sure it wouldn’t cost that much to build such an unimposing structure.

23 November 2005
Punctuality Anxiety
I’m ruthlessly punctual; it’s one of the many ways I’ve found to aggravate my friends. For example, I usually arrive at my destination early in order to ring the doorbell at the exact time of my appointment. I can’t understand why it annoys people when I show up at eleven for an eleven o'clock brunch, but it does. And that’s all I need to know.

Of course, promptness is a two-edged sword. Earlier this afternoon I became extremely anxious when I thought Jan and I wouldn’t be able to make it to the airport on time for our flight. Jan noticed my agitation, and decided to reassure me that I needn’t worry about being precisely on time.

“One of the nice things about having my own jet is that I never need to worry about missing my flight,” she explained.

And now that Jan and I are twelve kilometers above the Sierra quaffing some very good wine in her camper van of the sky, my punctuality anxiety has vanished completely.

24 November 2005
Thanksgiving Coagulation Miscalculation
I enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving at Bruce’s ranch near Santa Fe. Of course, any dinner that begins with a champagne breakfast is, almost by definition, a good dinner. For me, the centerpiece of the festivities was literally the centerpiece.

Like millions of other people, Bruce chose a large turkey for the centerpiece of the dining room table. Unlike most other turkeys [typo?], Bruce prepared a mechanical, headless turkey, complete with feathers. He installed some sort of pump in the faux bird that sent artificial blood—complete with clots—pulsing slowly out the neck. The viscous liquid dribbled down the bird onto a huge china platter, from where it was recycled to be pumped out again.

Everything went smoothly until the middle of dinner, when the turkey started to make a loud, grating noise, then started to shudder. A few seconds later, the bird started to spew smelly, red globs around the table; Marcia took a direct hit on the lips.

“Christ,” she spat, “this is real blood!”

“I guess I miscalculated the coagulation factor,” Bruce responded sheepishly.

Nevertheless, we all enjoyed a bloody good time.

25 November 2005
Starting Younger Every Day
I saw a fascinating newswire headline a couple of days ago, “Girls Trash Kansas School Art Room.” The report triggered fond memories of my teenage days at Interlochen, until I realized the story had nothing to do with trashed girls in the art room. In a perverse way, I’m enjoying watching my brain implode. Anyway, here’s what allegedly happened recently in Kansas.

    Police said between sixteen and eighteen containers of Tempera paint were dumped in Heusner School, along with several jars of Glitter Glue and various other art supplies. Crayons were dumped on the floor and broken, and a container of body lotion was poured onto a desk. Items were pulled from desk drawers and scattered around the room. Deputy Salina Chief Barry Plunkett said school officials have yet to estimate cleanup costs.

Now here’s the best part of the story: neither of the girls who allegedly trashed the art department has seen their eighth birthday. Given their ability to outrage authorities and generate national publicity, I suspect I haven’t heard the last of these very young artists.

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©2005 David Glenn Rinehart