Eh, I’m sick. Another cold. So: some mild politics, then a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” script you’ll never see. If neither does anything for you, the link on the right will take you straight to this week’s site addition. It’s a pipper, I tells you.

I’m only doing zinc for this cold. It’s like Atkins for the nose. Bloody Atkins even ruins the sole pleasure of a cold - endless Halls coughdrops. All that sugar. Note to the Atkins apparatus: brand some sugar-free cough drops and charge ten dollars a bag; you’ll make a fortune.

Heard an interesting interview with Gen. Clark the other day. Actually, they’re all interesting. He has a tin ear for politics – no, metallurgists of the future will toil for years to discover exactly what unusual material his ears are made from. Whatever it is, it keeps him from hearing and understanding the things that he says. I mean, when he says that the Democratic party is the only party that holds true to the ideals of the Christian faith, he does not know why this goes beyond the usual partisan rhetoric. When he floats the old hoary Deserter theme he does not know why this is such an appallingly lazy thing to say. During the interview I heard Saturday he announced his support for progressive taxation, and I perked up: he’d previously noted that he thought “this country was founded on the principle of progressive taxation.” Well, he expanded that idea, and said that if you don’t believe in progressive taxation, you’re not patriotic. The host asked him to repeat himself, and said - not a direct quote, I was in the shower without a pen and paper - “so you’re saying that if someone doesn’t believe in progressive taxation, they’re not patriotic?” And Clark said yes.

I think I know what Clark means: if you love your country you want to help your country, and one way to do that is to pay a higher percentage of your income to the government instead of spending it on “luxuries.” (His word.) That’s a matter of opinion, of course. Those who favor a flat-rate tax or consumption taxes or other means of raising revenue also love their country; they just have alternate views on the best way to scare up the scratch. But to General Clark, they’re unpatriotic. PATRIOTS DON’T BELIEVE IN A FLAT RATE.

So we have a four-star General defining patriotism as your acquiescence to let government remove whatever portion of your salary it desires?

Save me from the militaristic patriotism-defining property confiscators!

A Democrat could have a good shot at Bush’s job if he concentrated on spending, not tax cuts. But they can’t. They won’t. And so they send the message that will never cut your taxes. Ever. Can’t be done. We need to raise taxes and we must never alienate France is not a winning strategy, I think. However they dress it up, that’s what it comes down to.

A recipe for victory? We’ll see.

I remembered how a friend shook off his last cold: zinc, and plenty of it. He said he bought this zinc goop you put up your nose at the first sign of symptoms; he was better in three days, instead of slogging through nine days of impassable nostrils, raw throat, hacking, sneezing and general drag-arsedness. Friday night I felt the cold arrive – a ripe convocation of something in the back of my throat is how I usually know a cold is coming. Saturday morning I called him up to ask the name of that stuff.

A relative answered the phone, and said he’d taken a family member to the emergency room. Very worrisome symptoms, frankly. The rest of the day I talked to someone in the family every other hour or so until the situation seemed okay. Obviously no names or details, because that’s not the point of this. No: I have to admit that I had a pure Larry David “Curb Your Enthusiasm” moment. If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know what I mean. If not – "Curb" concerns the fictional adventures of the real-life Larry David, who was the creator of Seinfeld. It’s mostly improv, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. People talk about the golden age of television (grainy, overexposed hard-to-watch kinetescopes of big braying vaudevillians in drag) or the golden age of sitcoms (Mary Tyler Moore, All in the Family) and I suppose that’s correct. But TV today is better than TV ever was. There was never a show like “The Wire.” There was never anything as brutal and knowing as “The Office.” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” would have made no sense in 1967. It makes perfect sense today.


I needed the name of the cold medicine he’d recommended. Should I call him? Of course not. But if my name was Larry David, I'd have a scene

Larry: I called the Johnson. They’re at the emergency room. Jane had to go in for something.

Cheryl: Ohmygod what happened?

Larry: Ehhh, I dunno. They weren’t specific.

Cheryl: what do you mean they weren’t specific?

Larry: They weren’t specific! Maybe someone lost an arm.

Cheryl: Did you ask?

Larry: I think they would have mentioned if there were missing limbs involved. I didn’t want to get into details.

Cheryl: Do they need anything?

Larry: Sure they need something. That’s why they’re at the hospital.

Cheryl: I mean like dinner. Do they need any food?

Larry: How should I know? Why is it always everyone else’s responsibility to cook just because someone in your house goes to the hospital.

Cheryl: (disbelieving look)

Larry: I don’t get the connection. Oh, you fell down the stairs and you’re getting stitches? I’ll make a pot roast. I’ll boil some, some potatoes. Major surgery? We’ll bring over some lobster. I never understood that.

Cheryl: did you ask if they needed anything?

Larry: No I didn’t ask. Everyone always asks. It’s like you gotta ask. And then they say “no, thank you, we’re fine,” and then people bring over, I don’t know, lasagna. I figure I’d be the one guy they could count on not to bring it up, so they wouldn’t have another tray of lasagna in the freezer six months from now.

Cheryl: (mildly disgusted, annoyed expression.)

Larry: So you think I can call him about this cold stuff?

Cheryl: What do you mean.

Larry: He knows the name of this cold stuff. It’s got zinc.

Cheryl: Zinc.

Larry: (grinning) Zinc, yeah. I’m all about the zinc. He said it cured his cold in three days but I don’t know what it’s called. Should I call him on his cell?

Cheryl: I can’t believe you even ask.

Larry: Why? He’s just sitting there probably waiting to see a doctor.

Cheryl: Someone in his family is in the emergency room and you want to ask about zinc? Don’t you think he has other things to think about?

Larry: So I’ll take his mind off it. He’s probably worried about what’s going to happen. I’ll give him an opportunity to talk about zinc. He was pretty impressed by the zinc if I recall.

Cheryl: I can’t believe you sometimes.

Larry: What? WHAT? He sits there for six hours in the emergency room, I don’t call him, I get a cold. I call him, he’s still sitting there for six hours, and I don’t have a cold. Don’t you think he’d want me not to have a cold?

Cheryl: (leaves room)

Larry: He was the one who told me about the stuff in the first place!

(Cue oompa Italian music.)

So I went to Walgreens, and got the full spectrum: nose spray, sugar-free cough drops (Attention Atkins! Missed opportunity! Low-carb cough drops, $4.99 price point – hello?) some Zinc lozenges and the Zicam nose spray. We’ll see. This is a lousy time for a cold; busy week ahead. But who ever says “well imagine that – my schedule’s clear, I have few obligations this week. What a great time for a cold.”

And now to bed.
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