2006 Notebook: Weak XL
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1 October 2006
No. 5,176 (cartoon)
How could you be more vile?

It’s a question I often ask myself.

2 October 2006
Issac Bears Down on Dildo
From time to time, I look at the Internet manifestation of “Newfoundland’s Prince of Print,” the Dildo Gazer. I can always count on the Canadian periodical to provide interesting news stories. And so, I wasn’t surprised when I saw this headline in today’s edition: “Isaac Bears Down on Dildo.” The reporter told of how the good people of Dildo were girding for the impact of Isaac, a hurricane recently downgraded to a tropical storm.

I feel sorry for the Dildonians. No matter what disaster befalls them, it’s hard not to snigger at the name of Newfoundland’s third-largest city. Poor Dildoers, tee hee!

3 October 2006
Rolling Unstoned
Keith Richards claims that he’s stopped using recreational drugs because the people who concoct and sell them are purveying goods of inferior quality.

“I really think the quality’s gone down,” Richards opined, adding, “and you’re talking to a person who knows his drugs.”

I suppose it’s like Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989) said, “The sixties are gone; dope will never be as cheap, sex never as free, and the rock and roll never as great.”

Why Keith Richards just noticed that the sixties are over, this I do not know. Perhaps he enjoyed a different perspective on matters brought on by recent changes in his brain’s chemistry. Or, possibly, his perception was skewed by listening to sixties music for forty-some years.

I suppose I should try to get together with him and ask, but I doubt that I will. After all, he doesn’t sound like much fun any more.

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4 October 2006
Japan is a nation of tea drinkers, mostly. Coffee is a misunderstood beverage on that inscrutable island, in part through the misguided work of Chimaki Ishikawa.

Ishikawa spent much of his youth hanging around with beatniks, and claims ingesting large quantities of amphetamines with Jack Kerouac was the highlight of his time in San Francisco. It may have been the negative side effect of the drugs, the bad poetry, the interminable hours in malodorous coffee shops, or his ultimate failure to gain acceptance as a tambourine player, but, with the notable exception of his time with Kerouac, Ishikawa found the beatnik culture depressing.

Ishikawa returned to Japan, where he drew on his beat experience to concoct and market canned coffee from vending machines. Unfortunately, whether it’s because Ishikawa never appreciated that coffee is a stimulant or because he associated coffee with the dour beatniks, Ishikawa drew on his modest command of English to label his product, “Deeppresso.”

Like, crazy, daddio!

5 October 2006
Tyrants’ Genitalia
Zhang Yonghua wrote to inform me that Mao’s dubious hygiene habits involved more—or perhaps less—than never brushing his teeth. (As an aside, Yonghua confirmed that Mao’s rationale really was, “A tiger never brushes his teeth.”

“My genitals were washed inside the bodies of my women,” Mao explained.

A tiger never brushes his penis, either, I suppose.

Finally, it’s almost impossible to discuss tyrants’ genitalia without mentioning that Hitler and Mao had only one testicle. Each, that is.

6 October 2006
Barnacle Flatulence
Julian told me something about Nora Barnacle and James Joyce that I doubt any of the eight-seven people who read Ulysses cover to cover even know. That something is this: Joyce was an eproctophiliac. That is, he enjoyed a fetishistic attraction to human flatulence.

“Presumably Barnacle’s,” I replied.

“Absolutely,” Julian confirmed. “You should read some of the steamy letters he sent her in 1909 talking about how she released gas during sex.”

I told Julian I might read Joyce’s letters after I read Ulysses. Which, of course, I’ll never do.

7 October 2006
Meecrog! It Was Mee Krob!
I enjoyed a lovely dinner with Nancy last night at Phuket, Just Phuket, a Thai restaurant in San Francisco’s Middleton district. We were served by a diminutive Thai woman who spoke in a soft, heavily-accented voice.

Everything was going smoothly until I asked what she’d recommend.

Meecrog,” she said with a disingenuously innocent smile, even though she’d just said the most obscene word I’ve ever heard.

“What did you say?” I asked.

Our server resorted to the international language of pointing, and directed my attention to item number seven on the menu, Mee Krob.

“Fried noodles,” she explained with a perpetual smile, “very good.”

Oh dear. For years, I’ve been using the mispronounced name of a common Thai dish as my strongest expletive. No wonder I’ve never been able to offend anyone that way.

8 October 2006
Ig Nobel Disappointments
Even though I try to read—or at least scan—a wide variety of different publications and periodicals, inevitably I miss some useful information. In particular, I’m thinking of the Annals of Emergency Medicine. That’s the august publication that published a piece by Francis M. Fesmire, “Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage.”

I learned of this oversight thanks to the Ig Nobel Prize awards; Fesmire won the prize in medicine. I also liked the award-winning article by Daniel Oppenheimer, “Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly.” Since I abjure obfuscation, I’m glad he won the prize for literature.

Nevertheless, this year’s awards were something of a disappointment, and not just because they don’t have the salacious appeal of, say, homosexual necrophiliac birds. No, the problem with this year’s awards is that some weren’t particularly timely.

For example, Fesmire’s article was published in 1988. Since then, he’s recommended, “sex—culminating with orgasm—as the cure-all for intractable hiccups.” That’s what I call progress!

I hope the Ig Nobel jurors will demonstrate better judgment in the future, perhaps by awarding me the literature prize? I think that’s a splendid idea, now all I have to do is write something to earn it.

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©2006 David Glenn Rinehart