2008 Notebook: Weak XI
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13 March 2008
No. 8,782 (cartoon)
I can’t tell you how I feel about you.

That’s fine; I don’t care.

14 March 2008
Buttery Lungs!
Dang, filmmaking is turning out to be a lot more complex than I ever imagined. Take popcorn, for example.

Popcorn and movies go together like whisky and writing. You may have one without the other, but it’s not natural. And speaking of unnatural brings me back to popcorn.

I’ve learned that a lot of the the popcorn fabricated to be popped in a microwave oven is poisonous. The industrial food chemists who concoct such things add diacetyl to give the processed food a purportedly “buttery” flavor. The problem is that it tastes like axle grease. The other problem is that the chemical can lead to chronically scarred airways (bronchiolitis obliterans) and a host of other nasty respiratory ailments.

Really nasty. A judge ordered International Flavors and Fragrances to pay twenty million dollars to a microwave popcorn worker who suffered such severe damage that he required a lung transplant.

Mmmm, there’s nothing like noxious buttery flavoring! And that’s why I put cayenne pepper and wasabi powder on my popcorn.

And that’s the way the popcorn pops. Roll ’em, Ferndock!

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15 March 2008
Swiss Army Knife Conundrum
My Swiss army knives seem to disappear every five years or so. After I lost my most recent one in a filmmaking mishap, I ordered another one.

When my new knife arrived in today’s mail, I faced a predictable quandary. The device was shipped in a box tightly covered in thick plastic. I needed a knife to break through the prophylactic barrier, but the knife I needed was on the other side of said obstruction.


I figured I could burn off the plastic by putting the package on the burner of my stove, so I did. Like so many of my clever plans, this one didn’t work very well.

Within seconds, the plastic-wrapped box was a flaming glob of toxic waste spewing a fountain of acrid, black smoke that triggered the kitchen’s smoke alarm.

I grabbed the fiery blob with some tongs, ran to the bathroom, and threw the catastrophe into the toilet. (As an unpleasant aside, I wish I’d remembered to flush after cleaning out the cat box.)

I fished out the charred mess, and managed to extract my new knife from the charcoal jumble. My new knife, marred by few globs of melted polyethylene, didn’t look new at all. Also, the heat warped it a bit.

Still, I can’t complain. The corkscrew works fine, and who really needs a knife once they already have one?

16 March 2008
Easy Mud Cookies
Elaine asked me if I wanted to go to Haiti with her to do a photo story on mud cookies. The slum dwellers there are so desperately poor that they eat “cookies” made from dry earth, vegetable oil, and salt. It sounded like an easy photography project, too easy.

“Sorry Elaine,” I replied. “If I could endure third-world misery I might never have left Flint.”

17 March 2008
A Sticky Situation
Sitting on a toilet is as close as most people, including myself, get to meditation. The world would be a better place if more people spent more time ruminating on the toilet.

I rarely say this, but there may be too much of a good thing when it comes to sitting on the toilet. I’m thinking of Pam Babcock in Kansas, who spent two years sitting in her boyfriend’s bathroom, so long that her skin grew around the toilet seat. Kory McFarren, said sweetheart, brought her food, water, and presumably toilet paper. (The news article I read skirted the delicate issue of whether they enjoyed conjugal visits.)

After a couple of years, McFarren suspected he might have a problem on his hands, and called police to express his concerns about Babcock’s welfare. The cops responded by releasing her from her porcelain prison.

“We pried the toilet seat off with a pry bar and the seat went with her to the hospital,” reported Ness County Sheriff Bryan Whipple.

“She is an adult; she made her own decision,” McFarren said supportively. “I should have gotten help for her sooner; I admit that. But after a while, you kind of get used to it.”


I wonder what kind of philosophical insights Babcock gained from two years on a toilet? At least report, Babcock wasn’t talking, but when she does it should be enlightening!

18 March 2008
Classically Stupid
Kurt chided me for giving bad advice to Joey vis-a-vis making money with art.

“Why didn’t you tell him about the sure-fire way to make a small fortune in art?” Kurt demanded.

“Because there’s no such thing?” I asked.

“Invest a large one,” Kurt explained.

“That’s stupid,” I opined.

“Maybe, but it’s a classic,” Kurt replied.

I was tempted to point out that classically stupid is still stupid, but changed the subject since discussing stupidity is especially stupid.

19 March 2008
Opposing Drinking Strategies
Alphonse’s therapist told him is was fine if he drank alcohol as long as he didn’t do so to escape the way he felt. They got into a protracted argument when Alphonse maintained that he drank to escape the way he didn’t feel. They agreed to disagree, and Alphonse is looking for a new therapist.

I have no idea why Alphonse pays someone lots of money to tell him what he wants to hear; it sounds like hiring a prostitute. But, since I’ve never been in therapy, there’s every chance I’m missing something.

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©2008 David Glenn Rinehart