- 19 November 1997
- Five Thousand and Fifty Percent Depicted in One Hundred Presentations
- This piece is another boring conceptual work based on a simple premise: spell each of the percentages from one percent to one hundred percent and reveal the amount of text equal to the percentage stated.
Five Thousand and Fifty Percent Depicted in One Hundred Presentations is available in the PDF format.
- 20 November 1997
- Protected Identity
- Margaret asked me why I used someone else's name when I talked about one of her adventures in a previous notebook entry.
I told her it was the prudent thing to do. "Your clever prank really irritated the Stasi, and some of my sources suggest it would be wise to lay low for a few more years."
Margaret knew exactly what I was talking about, and made me a lovely batch of lemon squares as a token of her appreciation. Who says goodness is its own reward?
- 21 November 1997
- Zesty Technical Tips
- One of the problems with Internet publishing in these days of crude, immature technologies is that I'm always being pestered by boffins wanting to know how I did this, that, or the other thing. When it comes to graphics, nerds want to know if I used the JPEG of GIF format? 87a or 89a? Interlaced or not? And so on.
For the record, I don't use any of the above formats. Instead, I use the proprietary LEMON Jif image file structure. It gives my pictures a tart, tangy sensation and keeps them as fresh as the day they were made.
- 22 November 1997
- Modern Excuses
- Stuart said he'd email a new recipe for pepper sauce that actually causes third degree burns on the tongue--yum! That was weeks ago, so I asked him if perhaps he'd forgotten to send it.
He said he had in fact emailed the formula when he said he would, but "technical problems beyond my control" delayed the transmission. He claimed "a packet-switching router in Reykjavik overheated and exploded, and the packets had to be dried, cleaned and painstakingly reassembled before they could be resent. (I hear this sort of thing happens more than people let on.)"
My academic friends tell me any new technology is first used for military and pornographic applications. I'm not sure that's right; what about new excuses? I'd develop this argument further, but since my RAM is almost empty and my firewire port is becoming clogged by radical bytes I think it's time to quit writing for the day.
- 23 November 1997
- A Sharp Eye-Catching Show
- I have an idea for an exhibit, A Sharp Eye-Catching Show. The piece would consist of fish hooks and razor blades suspended at eye level with thin, almost transparent, threads.
- 24 November 1997
- Gallery of the Future
- I was invited to visit an Internet site called "The Gallery of the Future." I was bored, so I did. When I got there I saw a fanciful picture of the future: a giant incense stick balanced on a rock formation with the help of two gigantic dunce caps. There was also some sort of bowling ball--or maybe a cookie--in the sky.
Since there wasn't anything interesting there for someone with my fifteen second attention span, I headed for the publications section. And when I got there, the cupboard was bare, it was "under construction," and had been for half a year.
You can't get to the gallery of the future from here; if you could it wouldn't be the gallery of the future, would it?
- 25 November 1997
- At the End of My Rope
- I found a small cream-colored envelope buried in my files. I'd written the word "later" on the outside of the envelope. I found a short piece of string in the envelope. Or maybe it was dental floss. Or maybe it was just a length of thread. In any case, that's all there was in the envelope.
Why would I have put a piece of string in an envelope and written "later" on the outside? If it wasn't my handwriting I would have assumed someone else did it. Oh well, it's just one of life's little mysteries.
- 26 November 1997
- Thoughts in a Vacuum
- I was discussing the sad phenomenon of men whose genitals had been damaged by vacuum cleaners with some friends. Jon suggested that such incidents were urban myths, but I knew better. The British Medical Journal reported on a number of such cases in its 4 July 1980 issue, so it must be true.
Although there's nothing amusing about genital pain, some of the stories the men concocted were pretty funny. There's something intrinsically unbelievable about getting your penis stuck in a vacuum cleaner when you're cleaning house in the nude, even if it really did happen that way.
Donald said a friend of his once put his mouth over the aperture of a vacuum cleaner, but couldn't remember what happened. I asked if that would draw in air through the nose, but none of us knew enough about basic physiology to even hazard a guess. We all agreed empirical evidence was needed, but we couldn't find a volunteer.
- 27 November 1997
- Not a Paperless Office
- Terry teaches college students how to use computers. He appears to be a good instructor, if only because he doesn't subscribe to trendy nonsense like "the paperless office."
- 28 November 1997
- This Wrote Itself
- I listened to an interview with a contemporary composer in which he said "I only write pieces that write themselves." What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that decades ago?
- 29 November 1997
- Greasy Academic Appendages
- Anyone considering becoming a Philosophiæ Doctor would do well to remember Henry David Thoreau's advice, "Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes." (Actually, what he really said was "I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes," but the edited version served my purposes better so that's the one I used.)
Beryl became Dr. Beryl today in a drawn-out ceremony that required the donning of an unusual and elaborate outfit. I'd describe the hat as a floppy wide brimmed medieval hippy number, except that medievalites and hippies would never rent a hat. The robe was entirely ridiculous: it had a droopy flaccid hood hanging off the shoulders that resembled nascent batgirl cape and flapping sleeves that hung down to the knees.
The sleeves were particularly curious: the ends were sealed, but that didn't matter for two reasons. First, they were so long that not even the most deformed professional basketball player's arms could have reached the end. Second, there were slits in the middle of the sleeves for the academics' arms to escape.
I told Brian I thought the sleeves were designed for crazed doctors: all you had to do is sew up the sleeve slits and the robes then became a straitjacket! Brian told me I was completely wrong.
"Academic straitjackets are much more subtle than that, old boy" he rebutted. (I never realized until that cheap sherry fueled moment that "old boy" is a brilliant pincer-movement putdown.)
Brian went on to explain that the chimpanzee sleeves were developed at Oxford centuries ago. The useless appendages at the end of the sleeve weren't useless at all; they were used for storing food and drink. In the old days, Oxford professors would carry around bottles of mead and huge greasy slabs of oxen in the sleeve ends. Being an Oxford don was and is a good job: they never had or have to worry about getting enough to eat and drink. (Brian also mentioned that Oxford was founded by a rich ox farmer; he built the university near the site where the oxen forded the stream.)
Suddenly everything made sense. The disgusting stains on the old professors' robes were really marks of distinction!
Now I'm worried about Dr. Beryl's future: how far will she go if she only uses her extended sleeves for carrying around extra computer batteries and contact lens fluids?
- 30 November 1997
- That's Not a Hot Dog!
- On a trip to Great [sic] Britain I saw an advertisement for a "hot dog" at a train station. Hot dog? Hot dog? You call that a hot dog? That's not a hot dog!
First, let's start with the bun: it's not a hot dog bun at all, it's a bread roll! The put a hot dog in a bread roll! And then there are the condiments. Or, more precisely, there aren't: there's just a drizzle of some brown sauce down the length of the so-called hot dog. No onions, no mustard, no catsup (or is it ketchup?).
And then there's the meat. I suppose British "hot dogs" are made with whatever the meat packing plant scrapes off the floor and out of the drains, so it probably does taste something like an American hot dog. But the shape is all wrong! Instead of the curve suggestive of an animal's intestine, this impostor is as rigid as the day it was put in the freezer. I guess someone forgot to tell the photographer to thaw it and cook it before taking the picture.
What can one expect from a backward country, one that has no association with baseball?
- 1 December 1997
- A Day Not Without Art
- Today is supposed to be "a day without art," a day to remember the artists who have died from AIDS. I'm sure the organizers had the best of intentions, which is of course a polite way of saying it's a stupid idea.
What about all the artists who have died of cancer, heart disease, and, let us not forget cirrhosis of the liver? There's no point in getting into a hierarchy of tragedy and suffering, so I won't.
A day is a long time to waste; life's too short for a day without art.
- 2 December 1997
- Sugar Frosted
- Snow fell for the first time this season, although there wasn't much. Everything was lightly dusted; the white scenery reminded me of a series of pieces I've been meaning to make for years, but never have.
The work simply involves covering things in sugar then photographing them. I suppose one reason I've never actually made the pieces is that I haven't come up with a very interesting list of things to photograph. In fact, my list so far consists of only cow pies and dog shit.
I think today's out of focus snapshot of a pile of dog shit may be about as far as I'm going to get with this project. It's a fine line between a project in gestation and one that's stillborn.