2007 Notebook: Weak XXXII
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7 August 2007
No. 3,417 (cartoon)
None is so blind as he who cannot see.

Martin Mull said that, didn’t he?

At eight-hundred and sixty day intervals.

8 August 2007
Eyeballs Eaten Alive
Yesterday was the first time in eight-hundred and sixty days that I used Martin Mull’s quote, “None is so blind as he who cannot see.” Why I do this every eight-hundred and sixty days, this I do not know.

I’m a visual artist, and blindness scares me. According to a friend’s prediction—which I refuse to believe—in a few decades my eyes will be my favorite organs. That’s disturbing, but not as bad as also losing an eyeball in the process.

That’s what happened to a most unfortunate woman at Sambhunath Hospital in Kolkata, India. Nurses at the government hospital ignored the patient’s screams, since they’re all too common among people suffering from painful infections following surgery.

When members of the convalescent’s family visited her the following morning, they were traumatized when they removed the bandages from her left eye. That’s when they discovered a fleshy hole full of swarming ants where her eyeball used to be.

“It’s not uncommon for ants to attack diabetic patients,” hospital superintendent A. Adhikary explained. “We have set up a committee to investigate the unfortunate incident.”

And that’s where the story ends. To paraphrase Martin Mull, “None is so blind as s/he whose living eyeballs have been eaten by ants.”

9 August 2007
Sinking Spiral to Flint, Michigan
I’ve always liked Frank Zappa’s observation, “Most rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk for people who can’t read.” Having said that, I remember reading one extraordinarily prescient review of Grand Funk Railroad, a musical trio from the wretched town where I was born.

“Grand Funk Railroad is like the Ho Chi Minh trail,” the reviewer (whose name I can’t remember) wrote, “critics slam them with their heaviest artillery but it doesn’t even slow them down.”

After recalling that remark, I decided to see if the observation really was prophetic. To my amazement, I just learned that the ensemble—now a quintet—is playing today in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Well, by gosh! The boys really are indestructible, albeit no longer conventionally successful. The group’s last show was at the Buffalo Chip Festival; the tour schedule for the remainder of the year will see the lads travel to Webster (Massachusetts), St. Charles (Missouri), St. Joseph (Missouri), Springfield (Illinois), Bremerton (Washington), Evansville (Indiana), Uncasville (Connecticut), Hampton (Virginia), Memphis (Tennessee), Salt Lake City (Utah), Hot Springs (Arkansas), Wichita Falls (Texas), Snyder (Texas), Kenner (Louisiana), Homestead (Florida), North Charleston (South Carolina), Jackpot (Nevada), and Morristown (New (Jersey).

My prediction is that the band will continue its sinking trajectory and end up back in Flint, Michigan, the depression where the misadventure began.

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10 August 2007
Xenophobia in Oklahoma
I wonder why people are so mean to the good citizens of Oklahoma? I’m sure it’s been going on long before John Steinbeck wrote about the widespread prejudice against “Okies.” As is the case with most such prejudgements, I suppose they’re based on some of the most egregious examples.

I remember my high school classmates and I guffawing at the song, “Okie from Muskogee,” especially these lines.

    We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
    We don’t take our trips on LSD

(I suppose we found it so amusing because we did smoke marijuana at Interlochen, and took amazing trips to and from Cherryland.)

Oklahoma is the butt of many stories, and I’ve heard most of them, most recently, “If life’s not worth living, consider Omaha.”

Most recently until I saw the new Oklahoma license plate, that is. It’s camoflage (camouflage?!), and features a steely-eyed eagle in front of the World Trade Center. The presence of a New York landmark, er, former landmark, may be explained by the copy: “Global War on Terrorism.”

The xenophobic license plate is rather ironic in that it doesn’t feature the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City; it was destroyed by a terrorist, an American terrorist. I suppose the license plate design was a marketing decision; it’s probably hard to whip up patriotic hysteria against a former model soldier, Republican, and member of the National Rifle Association, even if he did murder one hundred and sixty-eight Oklahomans.

11 August 2007
Headless Oysters and Brainless Humans
Vale passed along a quote by John Burdon Sanderson Haldane that I quite liked; here it is.

“Evolution will take its course. And that course has generally been downward. The majority of species have degenerated and become extinct, or, what is perhaps worse, gradually lost many of their functions. The ancestors of oysters and barnacles had heads. Snakes have lost their limbs and ostriches and penguins their power of flight. Man may just as easily lose his intelligence.”

I appreciate the English biologist’s perspective over millennia. It’s one thing to note that everyone from high school graduates to politicians is stupider then they were a few decades ago, but it takes a long time to identify huge, lasting trends. I think humans are headed down the same devolutionary path predicted by Messrs. Motherbaugh, Gerald Casale, et al, decades ago. I figure it’s only a matter of time, albeit thousands of millennia, before we follow the fine example of the sea sprites and eat our brains because they’re irrelevant.

Bone appetite!

12 August 2007
“The Pelican,” Revisited
Michele likes birds in general and pelicans in general, so I decided to send her the famous two-line poem by Ogden Nash.

A very strange bird is the pelican,
Its beak can hold more than its belly can.

I decided to copy it off the Internet since I was too lazy to type out those two lines. And that’s when I discovered that I’ve been making three mistakes vis-a-vis this poem for decades.

First, I had the words all wrong. And second, it’s five lines long.

A wonderful bird is a pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.

And here’s the punch line: Ogden Nash isn’t the author. It turns out that Dixon Lanire Merrith wrote “The Pelican” in 1910. Except for those three things, my recollection was perfect.

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart