2006 Notebook: Weak IV
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22 January 2006
No. 4,876 (cartoon)
Why are you laughing while I’m crying?

You’re so pathetic that it’s funny.

23 January 2006
Feeling Better Without Waltzing
When I met Walter this afternoon at the pub, he said he was dispirited and demoralized, and that his inability to waltz was exacerbating his depression.

“I can’t waltz, and it’s never been a problem for me,” I said.

“It didn’t bother me either,” Walter replied, “until I heard about this new study when I was listening to the radio this morning.”

“What report was that?” I asked.

“Some scientists figured out that a half hour of waltzing cheers up a depressed person as much as snacks or beer or wine,” Walter explained.

Since our glasses were empty, I took that as a cue to get another round as well as some chips. When I returned, I corrected Walter’s misunderstanding.

“I’ve got some good news, pal,” I announced, “you needn’t be concerned about dancing. I heard the same story you did; the researchers were talking about the benefits of walking, not waltzing.”

“Really?” Walter responded. “I feel better already.”

“After two pints you should,” I confirmed.

24 January 2006
Satan’s Spawn
“Would you like to listen to a song my cousin’s band recorded?” Colleen asked.

I replied that I did, since there was no other socially acceptable answer. Halfway through the trite bombast, I asked whether the purported musicians were teenage boys.

“How did you know?” Colleen asked with apparent surprise.

“You don’t have to be an academic or even a cultural theorist to know that no one but boys within spitting distance of puberty include lines like ‘Satan’s spawn’ in their lyrics,” I replied.

Colleen thought about my the proposition for a moment, then nodded in agreement.

“May the gods bless and keep Satan’s spawn,” she toasted with a raised glass, “far away from us.”

25 January 2006
Fingers and Half-a-Haggis
“Hey Fingers!” Colin yelled when I spotted him at the saloon.

“What’s with the fingers?” I asked.

“That’s your new nickname,” Colin replied, “I’ve decided we should call each other underworld names.”

“So Colin, does that mean we’re gangsters now?” I said.

“My name’s not Colin,” Colin corrected, “it’s Two Sausages.”

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve heard this year,” I responded. “If you insist on using dumb nicknames, I’m going to call you Half-a-Haggis. I think you’ll agree that’s a great name to have on Burns Night.”

Half-a-Haggis most emphatically did not agree, and that was thankfully the end of mobster names. I never admitted that I secretly liked the name, “Fingers.”

26 January 2006
Arguably Saucy
Jerry’s daughter Megan, an aspiring photographer, asked me for professional advice at a party tonight. We ended up talking for quite some time over several drinks on the patio; she seemed appreciative of my dubious suggestions.

When we walked back into the living room, Megan told her father that I was most helpful in spite of being “a bit saucy.”

As soon as I heard that, I blushed, and insisted that I had not been in any way “saucy.”

Jerry laughed and told me that I was an old man and shouldn’t worry. He explained that the slang “saucy” no longer meant “sexually active or suggestive,” but “drunk.”

“I’m relieved,” I said. “I don’t mind being accused of being reasonably inebriated, but I’m not lecherous.”

“But you are,” corrected Jerry.

“Of course, who isn’t?” I replied, then added, “but only with women my age.”

“I’m glad to see you’re still taking the moral high ground,” Jerry laughed saucily.

27 January 2006
Trillions of Birthday Possibilities
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born a quarter of a millennium ago today. And that’s a perfect excuse—as if one was needed—to recount my two favorite anecdotes about the composer.

The first falls under the heading old clichés coming to life. Mozart calculated the odds of winning the lottery in the margins of one of his scores. I find it perversely encouraging to know that even an hombre like Mozart was having innumerate fantasies about financial solutions, just as artists still do.

But again, that’s a cliché, and a hoary one at that.

My favorite story involves Musikalisches Würfelspiel, or Musical Dice Game. In that piece, Mozart directed musicians to roll dice to choose from a variety of possibilities for certain parts of the composition. I didn’t bother to calculate the possibilities, but a mathematician who did concluded there were hundreds of trillions of possibilities.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the father of conceptual music? Regardless, who’s the mother? And who cares?

And the brings up the usual chorus: so many questions, so few brains. What kind of birthday party is this, anyway?

28 January 2006
Suzette’s Ambitious Plans
Suzette’s coming to visit this weekend, so I sent her a note asking her what she wanted to do on our Sunday rendezvous. She replied with an outline of her ambitious plans.

    I see myself sitting at a diner with a cup of coffee and a great omelette in front of me. I’d be reading a book, and I’d have the rest of the day free to walk around in the sunshine. Babies would smile at me. Dogs would follow me. Lots of people would be throwing flowers at me and then I’d save someone’s kid from drowning and I’d get written up in the newspaper. Some admired leader of a powerful—yet peaceful and humble country—would spot the article and ask me to speak at a gathering of like-minded folks. I’d make up my speech on the spot and it would be really, really great. I’d be offered some huge prize and I’d give all the money away to a great cause and still, the prize-giver types would insist that I accept, um ... that I accept a new car, and to please them I would accept, but only in the name of peace, and then everyone would applaud loudly. Modest blushing. Flattering pictures. That sort of thing.

Looks like Suzette and I have some talking to do; I was thinking of having burritos and Rainier Ale at my place.

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29 January 2006
Cheap Fish Hotel
I met Joyce at her hotel room tonight. It’s a downmarket, dingy hotel, my favorite kind. Joyce didn’t seem particularly appreciative of her temporary home until I marveled at the unusual decor.

Most hotels are filled with awful, mass-reproduced art. Joyce’s hotel is filled with awful art, but it’s all hand-painted bad art. Joyce’s room is populated with tropical sea life, except for a curiously incongruous scene of a man fishing in alpine lake. The crude fish appear to have been painted by an artist who was getting paid by the fish, not by the hour.

I opened a bottle of cheap, red wine, and we enjoyed a pleasant conversation. As always, red wine really does go well with fish.

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©2006 David Glenn Rinehart