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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak VI


5 February 2011

gratuitous image

No. 5,466 (cartoon)

We’re very close.

Know your enemy.

6 February 2011

Hallucinogenic Jelly Beans

I love idiots; they sometimes make life entertaining. That’s why I was sad when Dan Quayle faded from the political landscape; there was something particularly amusing about someone who was too stupid to spell “potato.”

Morons breed, so I now have Dan’s politician son Ben to amuse me. I especially liked his tribute to Ronald Reagan, another affable cretin.

When I was a child, President Ronald Reagan was the nice man who gave us jelly beans when we visited the White House. I didn’t know then, but I know it now: The jelly beans were much more than a sweet treat he gave out as gifts. They represented the uniqueness and greatness of America—each one different and special in its own way, but collectively they blended in harmony.

Imbeciles cling together like hairballs on a pillow. They’re impossible to ignore, especially when they’re eating hallucinogenic jelly beans.

7 February 2011

News: Bird Stabs Man

Almost everything I know about reporting can be summed up in an ancient journalism cliché. When a dog bites a man, that’s not news. But, when a man bites a dog, that’s a newsworthy event.

I thought of that when I read about a chicken that recently killed a California man. I haven’t done any research, as usual, but I’m guessing that humans kill about seven kajillion chickens for every person killed by one of the vicious fowl.

The bird in question was armed. Some idiot (the victim?) attached a sharp knife to the chicken’s leg in preparation for a cock fight. The bird decided to go for bigger game, and stabbed Jose Luis Ochoa to death.

And that’s all I know about the story. Thanks to shoddy journalism, I don’t even know the name of the killer chicken, let alone what happened in the next fight.

8 February 2011

Japanese Customs

I’m flying to Japan, and dealing with the usual government paperwork.

The Japanese customs form asks me to declare if I’m bringing swords with me. Those samurai certainly are an insecure lot! I report that I am not carrying swords, since I have only one of them with me. It’s over a meter long, a magnificent piece of weaponry. I shall use it to reconfigure any oversized pieces of sashimi I encounter.

I’d write more, except that my plane just passed over the international date line. That means that my Tuesday is now officially over. Now that I’m done with work, it’s time to enjoy a morning cocktail somewhere over the Pacific.

9 February 2011

Japanese Toilets Revisited

It’s almost midnight here in Kii Katsuura, and I’ve just arrived at the Hotel Chantral. I’m not sure how I got here; I’m still incredulous that I managed to find the right train—with less than a minute to spare—after stumbling through the sprawling Shin-Osaka station. I guess all the sake I enjoyed on the twelve-hour flight over here awoke some sort of vestigial a priori Japanese wisdom. Or something like that; hai!

I thought my problems were over, but that was before I walked into the bathroom. In the almost nine years since I spent an appreciable amount of time in Japan, I blocked out the traumatic memories of Japanese toilets.

I should explain that I’m not talking about simple Japanese hole-in-the-ground toilets; I can handle them. It’s the high-tech toilets that intimidate me. The one in my hotel has a control panel on it more complex than in most cars that I’ve driven. I fear that one of the buttons may be for castration, so I make a point of never touching any of them.

I caught a lucky break; my toilet has a few buttons with English labels. When I touched the toilet seat, a light came on to indicate that the toilet was being sterilized. Of course! Who would consider urinating or defecating in an unsterilized toilet bowl?

I feel safe for the night, but I still can’t relax. Somewhere on this inscrutable island there are toilets waiting to maim me, and only the anemic emperor knows which one(s). Perhaps I should seek out Japanese hole-in-the-ground toilets, just to be safe.

10 February 2011

gratuitous image

Arriving in Taiji

Arriving in Taiji, I’m struck by the disconnection between image and reality. Near the Whale Museum, a sculpture shows a burly man in a loincloth preparing to impale the moon with his harpoon. (I suspect that the statue may have been obtained on the cheap from the Museum of Phallocentric Art, but that’s entirely speculation.)

This romanticized version of a Japanese, or perhaps Nubian, whaler bears no resemblance to the current practice of hunting marine mammals. Significantly less brawny fishermen herd dolphins into a narrow cove, kill them, then sell the meat, poisoned with mercury, to a generally unsuspecting public.

I know that, as an American, I have a very incomplete view of Japanese commerce and culture. Still, the local practice of introducing mercury into the Japanese diet half a century after the Minimata scandal seems incredulous at best.

11 February 2011

One Less Pharaoh

A mass uprising in Egypt has finally deposed the dictator Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak after thirty years of “emergency” rule. The president of the United States made a brief speech congratulating the protesters on taking the first steps to restore Egyptian democracy.

I appreciated his brevity, but wish the president would have addressed the fifty billion dollars in aid the United States provided Mubarak’s regime. If he was glad to see a favored despot his government supported so generously fall, I wonder what sort of nasty skulduggery secret United States paramilitary agencies wreak on tyrants the government dislikes?


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©2011 David Glenn Rinehart