1999 Notebook: Interval XXXVI

3 December 1999
The Essence of Jewish Holidays
A cheery BBC announcer explained the essence of every Jewish holiday: "They tried to kill us; we won; let's eat."

That sounded pretty damn clever to me, but what do I know? I'm only an honorary Jew. I told this story to a Jewish friend, who provided a helpful correction.

"Bubbie, we didn't win," he explained, "we survived."

I think I understand what he meant, but enough quibbling. Let's eat!

4 December 1999
Casanova (Sugar Art)
This Internet nonsense is just nonsense, pure and simple nonsense.

"Internet," I asked, "please tell me about 'artists' newsletter.' "

And the idiot-savant Internet sent me to some damned hillbilly site that posed the provocative question, "So who is Casanova, anyway?"

The publishers then went on to answer their own question:

    We are an organization of cake decorators and confectioners from Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland who enjoy getting together every month to visit, watch a demonstration, and sample each other's creations. Our purpose is to promote creativity and experimentation in cake decorating, sugar art, chocolate, pastries, candies, and just about anything edible that can be done decoratively. We welcome anyone interested in meeting other cake decorators and swapping ideas and techniques to contact us and attend one of our meetings.

It turns out that Casanova is an acronym for "Cake And Sugar Artists of Northern Virginia."

This Internet nonsense is getting ridiculouser than ever.

5 December 1999
Good Advice, Wasted Again
A friend told me, "No amount of time or money will buy any amount of time or money."

That's obviously good advice, but what do I do with it?

I suppose the only thing is to follow the example of Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband: "I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself."

6 December 1999
Happy Ending
Enrico just read Tolstoy's Anna Karenina , a thick novel I haven't looked at in decades.

"What did you think of it?" I asked.

"It was pretty slow going in parts," replied Enrico, "but I enjoyed the happy ending."

"I don't remember a happy ending," I said. "I thought almost everyone dies."

"Exactly!" exclaimed Enrico. "I was happy when it ended."

7 December 1999
Last Moon Words
Almost everyone knows the first words uttered by a human being on the moon were a mistake. Neil Armstrong said, "One small step for man ..." when he meant to say "One small step for a man ..." That's what NASA bureaucrats get when they send a pilot to do an actor's job.


But what about the last words spoken by a human being on the moon? Gene Cernan's exit line was ...

wait for it ...

"Let's get this mother out of here."


Historians disagree as to whether that's what Cernan actually said, but what does it matter? I think it's important that the facts shouldn't diminish the value of a good anecdote.

8 December 1999
Invincibility Pill
I found an invincibility pill in the luggage compartment of a train. I checked the serial number with my pharmacist; she said it would be good until August, 2002. She added that it was made by a reputable manufacturer, Vetslar, and should do the trick. She warned me, however, that the invincibility pill only lasts about ten minutes or so.

I can't imagine what I'll do with ten minutes of invincibility, but I'm sure it will come in handy.

9 December 1999
Tree Posturing
I been studying trees lately. After analyzing my findings, I have decided to adjust my posture when idle. I shall be more piney in general, and less willowy in particular.

gratuitous image
10 December 1999
Healthy Broccoli, Maybe
I just cooked some broccoli I bought at the farmers' market a couple of days ago. I chopped the broccoli up into small pieces, washed the chopped up bits, then boiled them.

After a of couple minutes, I noticed a pair of worms floating in the pan. I figured that if the broccoli wasn't toxic for worms, it probably wouldn't be toxic for me either. Many of my friends disagree.

Oh well, no one ever suggested that food was simple.

11 December 1999
I had a good time with my ten-year old goddaughter; she keeps me appraised on the state of popular culture. For example, I was relieved to learn that the Spice Girls are "totally over, completely yesterday."

She also keeps me posted on contemporary semantics. She judged my new cheese and nails sculpture to be "hella-tight," which is an order of magnitude better than "tight." I believe those terms are roughly analogous to "way cool" and "cool," respectively.

I'm not sure, though. Kids always keep their linguistic cards close to their vest.

12 December 1999
A Polite Admonition
I witnessed another artist abusing an administraitor. Although I normally don't condone such behavior, the administraitor deserved it. Asked for it, even.

For months, Marsha's been trying to get a decision from the administrator about her book. The administraitor seems incapable of making a decision. I think that's his way of ensuring he won't make the wrong one. His bureaucratic strategy is apparently successful, he's been entrenched behind his greasy desk for ages.

Marsha's had enough of his dilly-dallying, and told him as much at the last trustees' meeting. She gave him a take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum; she told him it was time to "defecate or abdicate."

Later, over a few beers, I asked Marsha what she meant by "defecate or abdicate."

"That's just a polite way of saying 'shit or get off the pot,' " she explained. "It was also obfuscated enough for an administraitor to understand."

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart