- 20 August 2002
- No. 4,354 (cartoon)
- I never thought it would end.
I never thought it would end like this.
- 21 August 2002
- I recently read that a British television bureaucrat damned his islands television programs as, dull, mechanical, and samey.
Criticizing television seems as pointless as attacking litterture. Im thinking of Kurt Vonneguts remark, Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae.
Despite the futility of the television apparatchiks vitriol, I did appreciate the administrators contribution to the English language. After a quick Internet check, the only English language reference I found for samey was Samey Pol Pot, which translates to The Pol Pot Era.
Samey is a wonderful addition to the critics limited vocabulary. I wonder, how much samey work have I done?
Too much is the only possible answer.
- 22 August 2002
- The Main Street Model
- I asked Marilyn how she could be so confrontational with the opposition; she said it was in her job description.
I dislike confrontations, I said.
I figure its better to get shot dead at noon on main street than to get mugged in a dark alley, Marilyn replied.
I kept quiet as I planned my next move.
- 23 August 2002
- My Most Recent Murder
- I killed my first salmon today. One minute the twenty-kilogram fish was swimming in the Pacific Ocean near San Francisco; a few minutes later it was flopping on the deck of my boat. It stopped moving once I bashed its head in with a truncheon.
Fish flesh decomposes quickly, so I cleaned it. I slid a razor-sharp knife into the dead fishs anus, then smoothly slid the steel blade up the length of the creatures body. I pulled out the salmons guts, then used a spoon to scrape the fishs burgundy kidneys from its spine. What a spectacular vision!
I was amazed at the sight of the fishs lungs, roe, stomach (complete with an undigested anchovy), lungs, and so on. What a magnificent sculpture! I appreciated the aesthetic qualities of the salmons entrails; the seabirds enjoyed them on a practical, biological level.
Tomorrow I shall dispose of the body. After the corpse is hidden in a dozen stomachs, I will have committed the perfect crime.
- 24 August 2002
- Every Review
- I like Randall Jarrells brilliant generic critique of a novel: A prose work of some length that has something wrong with it.
I thought about what Jarrell said, and realized it sounded like each of the dozen or so reviews Ive written. I only review work I like, but feel obligated to point out some perceived flaw, omission, or weakness.
Im not sure Ill ever write another review again now that Jarrells exposed the formula: I liked it except for a little thing or two here and there.
- 25 August 2002
- Wise in the Ways of Japanese Toothpicks
- I told Dr. Lauer that toothpicks are elegant because the tools entire operating manual is contained in the devices name. Dr. Lauer proved that I was wrong by demonstrating how a Japanese toothpick works.
Japanese toothpicks are pointed at one end and blunt at the other. At this point, I wish I would have taken the woodworking course instead of the explosives course, that way Id be able to describe the two parallel grooves at the blunt edge of the toothpick. Were they made by a router? A lathe? Incisors?
Anyway, Dr. Lauer explained that the indentations are not merely decorative; they provide a function essential to the tools vitality. In lay terms, that means that the notches provide the weakest portion of the shaft, allowing the user to easily break the blunt end off the toothpick.
And now, we come to the climax of the Japanese toothpick saga: the blunt, broken-off end of the toothpick becomes a stand, a rest, for the business end of the toothpick.
Dr. Lauer is wise in the ways of Japanese toothpicks.
- 26 August 2002
- The Age of Maturity?!
- Hes at it again! Saparmurat Niyazov, the inscrutable president of Turkmenistan dba Turkmen, has made a daring conceptual leap beyond naming the days of the week and the months of the year. Now the old stinkers renaming the various stages of human life.
Heres what the cantankerous old curmudgeon came up with, if press reports are a reliable source of information.
Our ancestors had a clearer and more reasoned division of the ages of man ... childhood lasted to 13, adolescence to 25, youth to 37, maturity to 49. Later there followed: the age of the prophet, from 49 to 62; the age of inspiration, from 62 to 73; the age of the white-bearded elder, from 73 to 85; old age, from 85 to 97; and the age of Oguz Khan, from 97 to 109.
Sounds like a lot of nonsense to me, although I must admit I like living in the age of maturity. (If only I could say that with a straight face.)
- 27 August 2002
- An Indefatigable Passion for Experimentation
- I love my laboratory colleagues indefatigable passion for experimentation. Im reminded of their resourcefulness every time I go into the galley and see a sink full of filthy dishes.
Do dirty dishes wash themselves?
Who can answer that question with any certainty?
My lab buddies believe that, given the right circumstances, dirty dishes can in fact wash themselves. Theyve been repeating the same experiment for years, with no success.
Do they give up in the face of almost certain failure? They do not.
These are my people: ignorant and unbowed.