2006 Notebook: Weak LI
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17 December 2006
No. 5,353 (cartoon)
When will I see you again?

When you’re dead.

Everyone loves a revenant!

18 December 2006
New Artistic Standards Hitherto Unimagined
The art world is a bloated circus, and the clowns are my favorite act. Graydon Parrish is the latest buffoon to earn the spotlight, and rightly so. The nincompoop is hilarious!

Parrish’s schtick is an old one: combine craftsmanship with banal allegories, then proclaim his work to be superior to anything that preceded it. Or, to use Parrish’s pompous description, “create new artistic standards hitherto unimagined.”


I think James Panero—the managing editor of New Criterion—had a better take on Parrish’s dreck: “It’s kind of awe inspiring in its awfulness.” And Panaero also had a great review of one of Parrish’s bombastic disasters.

    “Parrish has just completed a commission for the New Britain Museum of American Art that allegorizes the attacks on the World Trade Center as two weeping men in loincloths. Judging from reproductions, the work appears to be yet another tragedy of nine-eleven.”

Personally, I’m delighted that Parrish is cranking out such codswallop. What’s a circus without an entertaining clown?

19 December 2006
The Seven-Legged Deer Problem
Melinda, my favorite biologist, told me she was dismayed to read that a Wisconsin hunter killed a seven-legged dear.

“Surely you’re past the Bambi syndrome,” I said. “There are more deer around than ever.”

“No, it’s the seven-legged angle,” Melinda replied.

“What’s the problem?” I asked. “I’ve never been to a picnic where we didn’t run out of deer legs before anything else.”

“I’m looking at it from a professional perspective,” Melinda explained. “We’ve always done deer censuses by counting their legs and dividing by four. Since some deer have seven legs, it looks like we’ll have to reformulate all our models.”

Science befuddles me, just as art befuddles scientists more often than not.

20 December 2006
Santa’s Slay Ride
Sandra’s angry with me, and all because I tried to entertain Chelsea, her six-year old daughter. I’m afraid this is yet another example—as if one was needed—that no good deed goes unpunished.

It seems that wee Chelsea had been fed a diet of saccharin holiday stories, so I decided to expand her little mind. I told her the real reason Santa Claus’s suit is red. Not everyone knows this, but Santa takes his privacy so serious that he kills any ill-behaved children that spy on him while he’s delivering presents. That’s right: Santa’s outfit is bright red from the blood of bad children!

I thought it was a great tale, since it underscores the fact that bad behavior may have serious negative consequences, people aren’t always who they appear to be, et cetera. Most importantly, I thought it would be a good way to take some of the boredom out of this alleged holiday season.

Chelsea didn’t exactly see it that way, though; I could tell by the way she ran away screaming and crying. I love Sandra, but am nevertheless dismayed by her lack of imagination when it comes to childrearing in general and, in particular, the way she threatened me a rolling pin at me after she heard Chelsea’s tearful complaint. What a cliché! I thought Wilma Flintstone was the last woman to do that!

Santa’s suit is red for a reason; children are nothing but misery.

21 December 2006
Joe Lum’s Shanghai Surprise
My father died fifteen years ago today, so I decided to go to arguably the worst Chinese restaurant in San Francisco, Joe Lum’s. The food at the greasy noodle shop is salty, of questionable hygiene, and, of course, yummily greasy.

Based on my father’s stories as an American sailor in China during the forties, I think he would have liked Joe Lum’s. Dad and his shipmates enjoyed cheap frog legs at a local restaurant, or at least they did until they discovered they were eating rat legs. My father was the only person on his ship who continued to patronize the eatery, having concluded that rat legs were tasty, cheap, and hadn’t harmed him.

Too bad my father’s not around to join me for dinner; I wouldn’t be surprised if rat legs are part of my favorite Joe Lum’s dish, Shanghai Surprise.

Like father, like son!

22 December 2006
One Less Dictator
A vile, despotic cretin died yesterday. I’ll recycle that sentence when I note the timely death of George W. Bush, but today I’m talking about Saparmurat Niyazov, the megalomaniac who, until yesterday, dominated Turkmenistan.

First things first. Niyazov was a despicable tyrant who boiled his perceived enemies alive; no moral ambiguity there. It’s no wonder a despot like Dick Cheney befriended him.

Although Niyazov was a reprehensible torturer who should have been aborted in the womb, his eccentricities were amusing for anyone who lived on the opposite side of the globe from Turkmenistan.

The mass murderer banned video games, claiming that they were too violent for his gentle countrymen. He renamed the month of January after himself (and April after his mother), and also saw fit to also rename a planet, a mountain peak, and a crater on the moon after himself.

He banned facial hair, operas, car radios, gold tooth fillings, ballets, circuses, public smoking, orchestras, and more. On a less whimsical note, he also eliminated all hospitals and libraries outside the capital city, Ashgabat.

Since it would be churlish—even for me—not to say something positive about the recently departed, I will: Niyazov banned canines from Ashgabat.

I hope abused Turkmenistan hospital workers feed the oppressor’s bloated corpse to the dogs, if they can find any.

23 December 2006
The Holiday Spirit!
I share Ambrose Bierce’s sentiments about the alleged holiday season. And that’s why I was delighted by a story I head on the radio this morning about some dogooders visiting the prison at San Quentin, the California penal institution that hosts the nastiest of the evilest prisoners. Father rapers, cat killers, that sort of thing.

Anyway, the dogooders decided to bring some holiday cheer to a literally captive audience by singing xmas songs to the prisoners. They were playing to a very tough audience, as became evident when one of the prisoners in the balcony tossed a shoe that hit a singer in the nose. She started crying, and that was the end of the ill-advised performance. (I wonder, did any of the dogooders do their market research to find out how many prisoners were atheists, Hindus, Muslims, et cetera?)

For the record, I should conclude by saying that I don’t condone any violence, whether it’s an individual throwing a show or a brutal choir inflicting aural misery.

Let heaven and nature sing! (But please, no xmas music.)

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©2006 David Glenn Rinehart