2009 Notebook: Weak XXXIII
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13 August 2009
No. 6,726 (cartoon)
How can you be so remorseless?

I can’t explain it; it’s my gift.

14 August 2009
Les Paul, 1915-2009
I’d heard about the brilliant inventor and so-so musician Les Paul, but I didn’t really know much about him until I read his obituaries after his death yesterday. Dying is perhaps the best way of getting publicity; too bad it usually only happens once.

Had he not died, I wouldn’t have known that Paul almost perished over sixty years ago, when he drove off a bridge into a river during a horrific blizzard. (That’s another good reason to avoid Oklahoma, as if another one was needed.)

“Everything I had was broken,” he recalled, “and I was in bad shape for about two years, so I had a lot of time to think.”

Two years thinking, imagine that! I can’t. The idea of meditation is anathema to me; I can’t tolerate two minutes of physical inactivity before I fiddle with some electronic doodad in my pack. Given Paul’s innovation, perhaps I should rethink this silly behavior.

At least I agree with Paul when it comes to the importance of inquisitiveness.

“Why? And that’s the key to the whole thing, that curiosity,” Paul said. “You just ask that question, ‘Why?,’ and you’ve got your life cut out for you.”

Paul had his life cut out for him, and I still do, although I don’t know why.

15 August 2009
There’s Always a Catch
Once upon a time, Joseph Heller wrote a novel called Catch-18. His publisher asked him to change the title, though, when Leon Uris beat him to the presses with Mila 18.

It’s too bad that Heller died without writing an epilogue explaining the search for another number. Seventeen? Too similar to the film, Stalag 17. Fourteen? Not funny enough. I wonder what other numbers were considered and rejected before they settled on twenty-two?

I’m too slothful to investigate, but I’d wager that some academic somewhere has written a long dissertation on whether eighteen is more humorous than twenty-two.

Personally, I think that a catch by any other number would jell as complete.

16 August 2009
Kiliaen’s Exasperating Pronouncements
Kiliaen was in an obnoxiously contradictory mood when I went over to his studio for lunch today.

I told him that I liked the soup he made; he said that he knew I didn’t really enjoy it. I told him that his obnoxious dog was bothering me by trying to eat my dinner; he said that he knew that I secretly adored the drooling beast. I told him that I was happy to fix his computer; he said that I only make such repairs grudgingly.


I found Kiliaen’s insistence that he knew more about what was going on between my ears than I did extraordinarily annoying. I thought I’d retaliate by being even more irritating, but couldn’t think of anything of a greater magnitude. I gave up, and resigned myself to not having any beliefs or opinions during what turned out to be a brief lunch.

17 August 2009
Wine Glass Variations
I pulled out a bottle of cheap wine when Sid came over for dinner tonight, then uncorked it and took a little gulp.

“Good enough for the likes of us,” I declared, offering the bottle to Sid.

“How about some glasses?” he asked.

“Glasses for what?” I replied.

“Um, for the wine.”

“Is that some kind of joke? Wine needs to breathe, not see, so it doesn’t need glasses.”

“No, a glass for drinking wine.”

“You want a glass of your own?”

“Yes, please.”

I opened another bottle of wine for Sid, but that just led to more confusion. It turns out that Sid didn’t consider a glass wine bottle a wine glass. I did. It seemed silly to generate another dish to wash, but I’m nothing if not a gracious host so I gave Sid a clean cup.

The rest of the evening flowed swimmingly.

18 August 2009
Alicia May Be a Serbican
“I want you to tell me the truth about something,” Alicia began.


I’m always honest with my friends, so it’s worrisome when one of them prefaces a query with a request for candor.

“David, do I look like I’m from Eastern Europe?” she asked.


Alicia is the daughter of Kenyan immigrants, so I didn’t need to massage the truth, not even a little bit.

“I might have thought you were from Tanzania instead of Kenya,” I replied, “but I’d never mistake you for an Eastern European.”

“So I don’t look like I’m Serbican?” she continued. “Gerrit said I was.”

“I never heard of Serbica. It could be one of those tiny African countries an ignorant American like me would not have heard of because we never invaded it. Are you sure he didn’t say Serbia?”

“No, he definitely said Serbica.”

“So what did he day, exactly?”

“We had a big fight, and Gerrit told me that he was tired of me being a Serbic.”

Uh-oh redux.

“Maybe it’s some region that neither of us have heard of. I’d ask Gerrit for an explanation,” I advised.

“I’m going to have a word with that Gerrit,” she said shrilly.

Poor Gerrit; he’s in for a Serbic encounter.

19 August 2009
Ululating All the Way to Flint
I’m on a flight to Flint, Michigan, and the plane is full of ululating and screeching children. I can’t blame them; who wants to go to Flint?

Perhaps the aggravated bairns on their way to some sort of caterwauling competition; we’re an hour into the flight and they’ve managed to sustain the same impressive decibel level since the plane left earth.

I don’t have a problem with the cacophony. I’ve convinced myself it’s music, so it is. It’s also a great form of birth control, almost an aural vasectomy.

The young woman sitting beside me is decidedly less sanguine.

“Contraception has to be one of the best values on the planet,” she observed.

I didn’t see much point in replying; the music blasting out of her headphones was so loud I knew she couldn’t hear me.

“Asparagus kangaroos weave granite,” I said with a grin.

She nodded, returned my smile, and returned to her book.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart