2007 Notebook: Weak XXXIV
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20 August 2007
No. 8,888 (cartoon)
How can you be so reprehensible?

Do I need to show you again?

21 August 2007
Saliva Chicken
Chinese officials preparing for the 2008 Olympics face a number of challenges, including language. Specifically, they’re patrolling restaurant menus looking for atrocious translation mistakes. A British journalist joined them and discovered “saliva chicken.”

With tainted—and sometimes poisonous—Chinese foodstuffs in the news these days, the reporter feared the worst. Me too. I’ve never seen a chicken spit or drool, so where’s the saliva coming from?

Fortunately, the answer is not the obvious one: slobbering chef. No, the saliva is, in theory, provided by the customer who finds the kou sui gee to be mouthwatering good. And so, by the time all the tourists arrive in a year, I suspect saliva chicken will be a thing of the past.

That’s too bad; a poorly-translated menu makes foods from other cultures taste more authentic. For example, a local burrito dealer offers these menu options in both Spanish and English.

Chorizo (Mexican Sauce)
Tripas (Guts)

“Mexican Sauce” should, of course, be “Mexican Sausage.” And I wonder if anyone ever ordered a guts burrito? Even a tripe burrito sounds infinitely preferable. With all of the cross-cultutural pollination that makes San Francisco such a wonderful place to live, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a saliva chicken burrito on offer sooner than later.

22 August 2007
On Washing Dishes
I cooked a very nice dinner for Toni at the apartment where I’m housesitting; we enjoyed a lovely chat as we consumed a mountain of pesto pasta. The conversation continued while I washed the dishes, a practice that baffled Toni.

“Why don’t you use the dishwasher?” she asked.

I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know how to program an automatic dishwasher, so I didn’t. Instead, I presented a different explanation.

“Look at these dishes,” I told Toni as I pointed to a drying rack full of glistening porcelain and silver, “not a molecule of food, not an atom of soap film. A machine just can’t do that.”

Of course, modern dishwashing machines do a fine job, but I’m not about to admit it. If everyone knew that mechanical dishwashers work well, I fear many fewer people would appreciate my modest skill.

23 August 2007
Unfamiliar With My Work
Cheri’s back from the east coast with tales to tell, and one of them involves us. When Cheri met my friend Mark in Boston for the first time, she was confused by his description of me as “funny.” (That’s ha-ha-ha funny, not necessarily weird funny.) She said that although I told lots of bad jokes, she never thought of me as particularly humorous.

It turns out that Cheri really wasn’t aware of my purportedly creative output, and was pleasantly surprised to discover my writing, photographs, cartoons, et cetera.

I found this development quite cheerful. Cheri and I have been supportive friends for years. Despite our closeness, I always suspected that one of the reasons she tolerated my quirks and excesses was that she liked my work. And thus, I was delighted to learn that she appreciates me for who I am, not for what I do.

Now that I think about it, I rarely hear any of my friends comment favorably on my work. Maybe most of my friends actually do like me. I suppose I could ask, but don’t think I will since I might not want to hear some of the answers.

24 August 2007
Good Egregious and/or Bad Egregious?
Anastasia read my little piece on Oklahomans, then asked if I meant “good egregious or bad egregious” when I wrote, “I suppose they’re based on some of the most egregious examples.”

I didn’t understand the question, so Anastasia explained that, once upon a time, egregious meant exemplary, whereas now it means shockingly bad.

Unfortunately, Anastasia’s clear definitions only confused me. I just reread what I wrote about the Oklahomans, and can’t decide whether I meant good egregious and/or bad egregious.

25 August 2007
Doing Good Thinks
Luiza wrote, “I also believe that if I do good thinks I always will get back good thinks.”

English is not Luiza’s first language; she may or may not have meant to say “things” instead of “thinks.” Since Luiza’s smart, I’d wager she meant “thinks.” In any case, I’m going to follow her fine example and do good thinks.

26 August 2007
The International Year of Sanitation
I read that almost one out of every three humans doesn’t have access to a proper toilet. (As a stinky aside, quite a few of these people live in San Francisco, where there aren’t enough public toilets for the city’s sizable homeless population.)

Having identified the severity of the problem, officials at the United Nations have declared that next year will be the International Year of Sanitation. Perhaps San Francisco public health officials will join in the celebration and provide more toilets; perhaps they won’t. On a more modest level, I just hope that the International Year of Sanitation is more effective than the annual World Toilet Expo and Public Toilet Fora.

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27 August 2007
It all started with Pearl Harbor. She and her ensemble, The Explosions, were on tour in Japan when she spotted a stereotypical Japanese family walking down the street. The younger of the two children, who was perhaps five, wore a t-shirt bearing the phrase, in English, “Eat My Fuck.” I’m sure that no one in the family had any idea what the shirt said, just as I don’t know what the Japanese characters on one of my pieces of clothing mean.

I thought Fuckeaters was a great name for a musical group, so I recruited three talented friends and formed a band for my art project of the month. I then went into my ersatz recording studio and recorded several songs by myself. And, since one can’t have a music group without an Internet site, I published the alleged music, you may find it at

“It must be art,” Gabriel commented, “because it’s certainly not music.”

I’m not sure what he meant, so I decided to take that as a compliment.

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart