2008 Notebook: Weak XLIX
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3 December 2008
No. 1,304 (cartoon)
I’m so happy I found you.

I wasn’t lost.

4 December 2008
More Suffering Than Drawing
“Many are willing to suffer for their art. Few are willing to learn to draw.”

Simon Munnery said that; I’ve never heard of the hombre before. Noah thinks Munnery’s a comedian, but I’m not so sure. His observation strikes me as more insightful than humorous. I can’t be certain, since I rarely suffer and can’t draw.

5 December 2008
Pablo the Lazarus Dog
People in the advertising business use a lot of recreational drugs. Or so I’ve heard. And thus, it’s always amusing to see what the advertising hacks come up with when they ostensibly attempt to dissuade others from using the same drugs they enjoy.

The latest farcical example of such an advertising campaign features Pablo, a dead talking dog. The English video ads begin with Pablo not doing so well. He’s sprawled on a dirty, concrete floor with a large, open incision the length of his underbelly. He’s as dead as a dead dog. Someone reaches into his abdomen, then pulls out the canine’s entrails and finds a packet of cocaine.

Poor Pablo! Someone slipped some cocaine into his mongrel chow for him to smuggle! Bad traffickers! Bad dog! (Or something like that; I’m not sure what the message is.)

Removing the cocaine has a miraculous effect on Pablo; he comes back to life! And what’s more, the beast can speak! (I’d be tempted to conclude that cocaine is an antidote to muteness and death, but I’m sure that isn’t the intended message either.) Pablo the Lazarus dog then goes on to chat up drug dealers and users to learn more about cocaine.

The ad wasn’t very enlightening vis-à-vis cocaine, but may provide an interesting perspective on recreational drug use in the advertising industry.

6 December 2008
Marriage and Tolerance
Alina and Jacob are dear friends of mine; why else would I agree to take care of their place and their worthless dog Titian while they’re away?

I went over to their house this afternoon for a tutorial in beast management.

“First thing you do when you get up in the morning is you take the dog for a walk,” Jacob explained. “In an emergency you can just let him out into the back yard, but then clean up his mess if you do.”

Jacob went on to explain that his wife was more tolerant of shit than he was, and would greatly appreciate it if the dog defecated on someone else’s lawn.

Later, I told Alina that Jacob revealed the secret of their successful marriage.

“What’s that?” she asked, “I’ve always wondered.”

“Jacob says you tolerate a lot of shit,” I replied, then added, “but you needn’t repeat that I said that.”

Alina smiled knowingly; she knew why their marriage works all along.

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7 December 2008
Giant Roll of Honour
Many of my friends are anxious to see this year’s Rolls of Honour, but, as usual, I won’t be publishing the list of my august sponsors until the end of the month. Between now and then, however, I’m in a bit of a quandary.

I visited Lani this afternoon at a Hunters Point Shipyard studio; that’s where I received my latest grant. All the other rolls I’ve received have been more or less identical, but this one is massive. I couldn’t establish its provenance; I can only guess it may have been designed for nautical use, i.e., substantial enough for a long ocean voyage.

So now what do I do? Put an asterisk next to Hunters Point Shipyard on my list? Create a separate category for mammoth rolls? Cite Hunters Point Shipyard next year as well? I don’t know.

I don’t know and I don’t care; I’ll improvise something later. Today, making such a decision smells like bureaucracy. That’s not what I want to stick my nose in at the moment; I have a more appealing option that I can’t mention for all the obvious reasons.

8 December 2008
Deathbed Music
I just heard about the Threshold Choir, an ensemble of women who perform for people on the verge of death.

What a brilliant idea; the musicians can’t go wrong! If someone in the audience likes the music, that’s obviously a good thing. Conversely, if someone on their deathbed despises the singing, they might look forward to their imminent demise. (I’ve heard lots of alleged music that makes the silence of a grave seem like a preferable option.)

The hospice circuit isn’t a good way to develop a following, but, since someone’s always dying, it doesn’t really matter.

9 December 2008
Minimal Computer Insight
I bought my first computer twenty-five years and a few days ago. After spending tens of thousands of hours with a succession of modestly less infuriating machines, I should have a sage insight or two. But, I don’t.

About the only thing I can say is that computers have never worked with the reliability of, say, a fifty-year old Leica or a ten-dollar Japanese watch. They’re undependable now, and I expect them to perform erratically until I pop my clogs.

I know such an obvious observation certainly doesn’t qualify as any sort of insight, but then I’ve never come up with any insights on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

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10 December 2008
Dubious Chinese Candy
Nico’s mother may be trying to kill her, but probably not. The question involves the gift of a packet of Chinese “candy” distributed by the Oriental Trading Company of Omaha, Nebraska. Why is an “oriental” trading company based over a thousand kilometers from the nearest seaport? And why are the suspicious sweets packaged in an airtight cellophane membrane? Could it be to prevent vigilant melamine-sniffing dogs from finding anything?

Melamine wasn’t found in food until recently. There’s a good reason for that: the compound created from cyanamide and formaldehyde is poisonous. It also contains a lot of nitrogen; that looks good in lab tests, as long as the technicians are looking for protein and not toxins. And so, innovative Chinese entrepreneurs have been adding melamine to all sorts of foodstuffs from pet food to infant formula to candy. The move has generated lots of profits, as well as a number of dead dogs and dead babies.

Given the sweets’ dubious radix, Nico did what any good daughter would do. She sent her mother a nice thank-you note, and gave the white pellets to Josephine. Rats overrun Josephine’s cabin every winter, and if the aggressive rodents die a horrible death after eating some Chinese candy, well, Josephine can still sleep with a clear conscience.

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©2008 David Glenn Rinehart