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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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9 July 2010

gratuitous image

No. 2,489 (cartoon)

May I ask you an embarrassing personal question?

You just did.

10 July 2010

Mort Amore!

Byron works at the city morgue. It would be unfair to describe him as having a taste for the macabre; he revels in it. From “processing fetuses” (the bureaucratic nomenclature) to inventorying body parts after an explosion, Byron loves it all.

He enjoys working alone at the morgue, because he’s not alone. He talks to his clients, and more. Every so often, Byron notices that two unclaimed bodies he’s befriended obviously belong together. In such cases, he takes advantage of a useless certificate sold by a bogus church and marries the couple. If business is slow, he’ll also perform a quick heart transplant to seal the union.

That’s mort amore!

11 July 2010

Healthy Worms

“Ewwwwwwww! It’s a worm!”

That’s what Cecelia shrieked upon discovering a worm in the fish I bought for dinner.

“Is it alive?” I asked.

“It’s wiggling!” she said as she backed away from tonight’s main course.

I explained—or at least I tried to explain—that lots of fish have worms, and that the worms to worry about are the dead ones. If the worm’s alive, that me

ans the fish is fresh. And just for overkill, I added that worms in vegetables were a positive sign as well.

Cecelia may or may not have believed me, but I don’t care. She barely touched the entrée, so more fishy goodness for me!

12 July 2010

Drunk Crocboy

“Crocodile Bites Man” really isn’t a news story, “Man Bites Crocodile” certainly is. Today’s report from Broome, Western Australia, falls somewhere between those extremes.

An unnamed Australian holidaymaker headed for the zoo after being ejected from a pub. That’s where the thirty-six-year-old drunk saw Fatso, a five-meter saltwater crocodile. And that’s when he did what anyone would have done: he sat on the croc.

Now, here’s a surprise: things didn’t end well. The second surprise is that Fatso didn’t kill the would-be jockey; the disgruntled but relatively merciful reptile only chewed on the leg of the inebriated cowboy (crocboy?).

“Once they [saltwater crocodiles] get hold of you, are not renowned for letting you go,” Broome Police Sergeant Haynes explained. “He’s lucky to have escaped with his life.”

Finally, here’s the amazing part of the story. The man with the perforated leg was, “thrown out of a pub for being drunk.”

Thrown out of a pub for being drunk!? I can’t imagine such a thing happening in the civilized world, let alone Australia.

13 July 2010

Chile’s Very Large Telescope

I long ago gave up complaining about hyperbole and exaggeration in advertising and business. I figure there’s not much point in fighting a tsunami. But, every now and again, there’s a little gem of plain speaking in the tidal wave of vapid twaddle.

For example, I just heard what Chileans have named the very large telescope that astronomers have used to make a number of stellar discoveries. The name of the device: Very Large Telescope.


14 July 2010

Costumers Only

I’m sort of taking care of BJ’s cat, Topaz. I say “sort of” because Topaz is a ninja cat; I almost never see her. Still, her food keeps disappearing, so I assume the wily beast is still thriving.

The other mystery is BJ herself. I’ve known her—albeit in passing—for decades, but I have no idea what her proper name is. I’m guessing that it’s probably not a nice name like Belinda or Bethan. I wonder if BJ’s really Brunhilda Jo or Bertha Jane?

What I do know is that BJ’s a costumer; she makes elaborate, complicated outfits for movies, plays, and the opera. It seems like an unusual occupation, but apparently it’s not.

There’s a restaurant not far from her with a sign on the door, “Bathrooms Are for Costumers Only.” I wonder if she lives in a neighborhood full of costumers? It’s almost impossible to tell; a costumer looks like almost any other person when you see one on the street. Kind of like haberdashers, I suppose. That makes a certain amount of sense, since costumers sometimes work closely with haberdashers.

15 July 2010

Elephant and Castle

I was drinking whisky with Roger Payne a few weeks ago in Morocco. When he talked about elephants in England, I paid respectful attention. As one of the world’s preéminent cetologists, I reasoned that he had to know what he was talking about.

First things first: there are no elephants—or at least no free range elephants—in England. Never have been. I’m pretty sure Hannibal never made it across the English Channel, although an army of elephants swimming the thirty-four kilometers from France would have been quite an intimidating sight.

But then, why oh why are there so many “Elephant and Castle” pubs in England, an elephantless, decrepit country rich in decrepit castles?

The story goes back centuries to a time long, long ago when some English hombre was going to marry some French lassie, lass as is fourteen years old. Ensconced in a castle pending the wedding, the pedophile’s fiancée was known as the child of the castle. Or, l’enfant de castille.

Or, it follows logically, elephant and castle.

16 July 2010

First Person on the Moon, Plan B

Fifty-one years ago today, American astronauts sitting atop a behemoth Saturn V rocket blasted off for a trip to the moon. They intended to be the first human beings to walk on the moon. And they were, conspiracy theories notwithstanding.

That sort of thing could never happen today. The National Space and Aeronautics Administration bureaucrats managed to lose all the blueprints for the 1969 rocket, so they couldn’t build another Saturn V even if they wanted to.

The story sounds simple: humans decide to go to the moon, humans go to the moon, humans return safely, triumph! Success was anything but certain, though; not for nothing is NASA known as Need Another Seven Astronauts.

William Safire, a White House speechwriter, was hired to come up with the “oops” response. Having coined the phrases, “nattering nabobs of negativism,” and, “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history,” Safire was clearly up to the task.

This is what he penned: “Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.”

I’m glad the space cowboys made it back safely; that leaves room for one more milestone. I wonder who’ll be the first person to be interred on the moon?


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