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17 December 1997
Pool Table
A billiard table covered in shallow water, the depth equal to the radius of a ball.

Pool Table is available in the PDF format.

18 December 1997
Poetic Dictation
I was sitting by myself in a corner at another horrible party when a woman with elaborately braided and beaded hair and a Kodachrome dress asked me if I had any anxiety about dressing. I told her I never worried about that to wear. (I didn't bother to explain that since I wear the same old clothes everywhere all the time there was no choice involved.)

I asked her if she had any anxiety about what to wear, she said she did not. She then insisted I write down this poem; how could refuse?

    You said "That looks a bit funny."

    All I could see was smiling blue cerulean skies. Another vodka, barman!

    Nirvana is never easy to each.

(I'd never heard the word "cerulean" and had to use my dictionary to discover it meant "sky-blue." This confused me; I always thought poets used "azure" as the preferred synonym for "blue.")

That's all she wrote, so I'll stop now too.

19 December 1997
Comfortable Jowls
I've always thought if the neck as a fragile link between the head and the body; it's a brittle stalk that's easily broken. That's why I took great pleasure in seeing a man with the most enormous jowls I've ever seen. His jowls weren't fat; they were beyond fat: they were surreal.

The man with the mammoth jowls looked secure in his bulk. Instead of having his head delicately tethered to his body, his noggin was floating on a soft fleshy bouncing pillow as he walked. Bouncy bouncy bouncy down the street.

20 December 1997
The Seven Secrets of Art
Marcy said she liked my work, then added "it looks like you know most of the seven secrets of art." I then asked her the obvious question: "what are the seven secrets of art?"

Marcy frowned.

"No one knows. Actually, that's not true: millions of people know, but they're all infants. By the time they develop the ability to speak they've forgotten the seven secrets ... which is why they're still secret."

I asked the next obvious question: "so how does anyone know there are seven secrets, and, not, say, three or seventy-one?"

"Some Harvard professor did some experiments on his four kids back in the late 1950s. They all later went into business, so Harvard and most other universities subsequently banned research on live children."

This seems like quite a shame: doing experiments on children seems like one of the few reasons to bother with procreation.

21 December 1997
Right Number, Wrong Time
My father died six years ago today. It doesn't seem that long ago, it just feels like I haven't heard from him recently.

I'm tempted to call him, or, more accurately, dial his old number. Although I'm sure the phone company has given the number to someone else, there's an infinitely small chance he might answer. He always liked to play practical jokes.

22 December 1997
Impractical Jokes
I just reread yesterday's entry, which is always a pointless exercise. No matter how many times I proofread what I've written, some typos always servive.

I was struck by the phrase "practical jokes." I wonder if there are impractical jokes? I suppose my proofreading may fall into that category.

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23 December 1997
A Black and White Hair
I noticed an unusual hair on my desk: it was black on one end and white on the other. (I've been pulling my hair out recently; it's one of my less successful strategies for dealing with the alleged holiday season.) I don't know why this black and white hair surprised me, but it did. Intellectually, I know that my few follicles that are now producing white hair once grew black hair, but I was still surprised to see one in transition.

24 December 1997
A Disappointingly Predictable Eve
One of the great disappointments if my life is how predictable it's been. (It didn't seem that way at the time, but it seems rather normal in retrospect.) I take some solace--but not much--in Gustav Flaubert's admonition: "Be regular and ordinary in your life, like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."

And so it is that I can't resist the perverse urge to send out xmas cards on the eve of a day I loath. At least it's relatively quick and painless via email. And here's the card:

    Lines for a Christmas Card

    May all my enemies go to hell,
    Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel.

    - Hilaire Belloc

I don't have any enemies, but I like it anyway. Thanks Hilaire!

25 December 1997
Humbugmas
What could make this wretched day worse? That's a rhetorical question since I already know the answer: a cold. I rarely get the flu, but when it happens I know what to do.

First, don't go to a doctor: s/he'll just advise staying in bed and drinking lots of fluids. Second, stay in bed and drink lots of fluids.

Unfortunately, I can't take my own advice. Due to incompetent helliday planning, I'm out of beer, wine, whisky and whiskey ... every beverage that contains the essential germ-killing alcohol. And if I go out to hunt down medicinal drinks, I'll probably be out of bed for some time looking--probably in vain--for a liquor store that's open on xmas.

Bah fucking humbug.

26 December 1997
Boxing Day Barbecue
I told my five year old nephew that today is the day Santa and the elves have the big reindeer barbecue. He looked skeptical, so I explained that Father Christmas was doing the beasts a favor: after he'd made them fly all over the planet the previous night the abused animals were so miserable that he was actually being kind by ending their world tour at the North Pole Abattoir.

He seemed rather upset, which I thought was strange: if the kid had his way he live on nothing but meat and sugar. I tried to cheer him up by telling him the biggest honor was saved for Rudolph: not only did Saint and Ms. Nicholas eat him personally, but the reindeer's nose sat atop an elaborate cake.

That only seemed to make things worse; he turned a disconcerting shade of crimson and ran to his mother. She later told me I could expect radioactive cinders in my stocking next year. So it goes; this isn't called the helliday season for nothing.

27 December 1997
Ian's Sober Rejoinder
Ian said he'd been to a wonderful concert by the Corini Renaissance Ensemble. "They used period instruments; they were great!"

"It's been my experience that period instruments means periodically out of tune" I said skeptically.

"No, they really were good" rejoined Ian, "and I wasn't even stoned or drunk or anything."

I had to admit that was a petty good review.

28 December 1997
Hunted By Insects
I watched a documentary on insect predators, but I didn't discover the one thing I really wanted to know: what kinds of sounds would I hear if I was being hunted down by insects?

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29 December 1997
Standard Air Frames
I've been looking back on 1997. (It's that time of year, isn't it?) At first I was surprised to notice the similarities between the notebook photographs from 22 February 1996 and 18 September 1997, but then I changed my mind. After all, how many different photos are there to be made through a jet window, even if one photograph depicts Greenland and the another an anonymous plane state? (The plane states are those states best seen from a jet plane while traveling from one coast of North America to the other.)

30 December 1997
What Next?
The day after tomorrow is next year, a change that's only of concern in terms of this notebook. In 1996 I did an image with words every day; this year I did a combination of words alone as well as words and images, plus forty or so "serious" pieces. And now, what next?

I'm rather pleased with my notebook(s), "rather pleased" being the next step down from "complacently satisfied" on my emotional scale of personal aesthetic reward. So far so good.

The problem I have with this ongoing notebook project is its formulaic nature. And the problem I have with the problem of the "making art on a schedule" formula is that I probably wouldn't have done a third of what I've done had it not been for my self-imposed schedule. I would have spent even more time lost in more immediately rewarding forms of indolence and debauchery.

Despite the drawbacks of this project, I want to do another notebook next year, but what flavor? I suppose the ideal would be a freeform notebook, one that didn't follow a tight formula. For example, I might have one of the entries be an image without words, something I've yet to do. On the other hand (why is there always another hand?), if I don't give myself a fairly ambitious quota I doubt I'll exhibit very much ambition. ("Exhibiting Ambition"--that's a good name for a show.)

I seem to be going around in circles with all this (lack of) logic. I suppose I'll do what I do best and procrastinate and not worry about what to do the day after tomorrow until next year.

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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart