2009 Notebook: Weak IV
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22 January 2009
No. 6,647 (cartoon)
Demand failure.


You earned it; you deserve it.

23 January 2009
Wonder Wok Cockroaches
Andrew invited me to lunch at Willy Wo’s Wonder Wok. The food wasn’t great, but at least it wasn’t as bad as the establishment’s name suggested.

The bathroom was chock full of cockroaches. I saw no reason to mention that to Andrew, who has a phobia about those prehistoric critters. After all, we weren’t dining in the bathroom. (But the cockroaches certainly were!) I’d rather eat in a restaurant full of cockroaches than one full of insecticides and other poisons.

24 January 2009
Skin to Brain, Two to One
Your skin weighs about twice as much as your brain. That explains a lot if you ruminate on it, especially if you think about it with your skin.

25 January 2009
Burns Burrito
Robbie Burns was born a quarter of a millennium ago today. We remember the Bard of Ayrshire on his birthday by throwing Burns Night suppers. The event—more of a ritual than a dinner—begins with reciting Burns’ epic love poem, To a Haggis ...

“Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great Chieftan o’ the Puddin-race!”

That’s followed by the presentation of the haggis, a boiled sheep’s stomach stuffed with the beast’s entrails, suet, and oatmeal. Then, as a British Broadcasting Company recipe suggests, “Eat and then belch loudly or throw up.” Finally, wash the whole feast down with more than a little whisky.

What could go wrong? That’s a rhetorical question; I know the answer.

I’ve been telling everyone that tomorrow is Burns Night. When I called Walter this afternoon, he told me that I was off by a day: it’s tonight. For the second rhetorical question, how could I have been so stupid?

There was no time to track down a haggis, so I employed a burrito instead. A burrito’s pretty much like a proper haggis, except edible. I finished off my Burns Night repast with a large glass of Islay whisky, a peaty, malty delight appropriate with—or without—any meal.

26 January 2009
4707 Haggis
My grocer called this morning to let me know that the haggis I ordered for Burns Night was ready to be picked up. I was too embarrassed to admit that I ordered it for the wrong day, and felt obliged to buy it. Who else would buy a haggis from a Lithuanian grocer?

For today’s Chinese New Year feast, I fried the haggis with onions, garlic, bok choy, peppers, salmon, and black bean sauce. After all the ingredients were seared to golden goodness, I threw the horrid haggis in the compost then enjoyed my first dinner of 4707.

27 January 2009
Defective Orthography
I’ve always known that there was something fundamentally wrong with the English language, and I finally identified what it is. English has a defective orthography. What’s worse, it’s irreparable, at least in my lifetime. The good news is that “defective orthography” isn’t as bad as it sounds.

In practice, defective orthography simply means that there’s no consistent correlation between a sound and a letter, e.g., grow, though, tango, et cetera. That’s the way English has always been and, most likely, the way it will always will be.

English is difficult and broken, but it still works. On the good days.

28 January 2009
Authors Named John
I didn’t know what to think when I read that John Updike died yesterday. That’s because I always confuse him with John Cheever and John Irving. I’m sure that remark would, in theory, annoy all three authors. In practice, though, Irving’s the only one who might possibly care, since he’s the only living member of the troika.

I don’t believe that I read anything by Updike except for one or two of his magazine pieces. Now that he’s deceased, it seems like a good time to repeat a line from one of his unread novels.

    The great thing about the dead, they make space.

I suppose John Irving can stretch out now. I shall try to remember that he is, at last report, still alive.

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29 January 2009
Nine Pieces of Studio China
Except for my alleged art, nothing in my studio is made in the United Stares. Odds and ends here come from Germany, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, and elsewhere. Almost everything else is made in China.

Disposable electronics and shoddy clothing comprise most of my Chinese possessions. A cheap, porcelain bowl that I bought in Chinatown—where else?—is the only thing that resembles traditional chinaware. That’s one of nine objects I photographed to make Nine Pieces of Studio China.

This is one of those days I’m glad my mother has no idea what I do in the privacy of my studio. This wouldn’t appall her, but it might lead to a request to photograph her collection of china, which is much more extensive than mine. And more difficult to light.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart