Stare.
 
1999 Notebook: Interval III
 
   

20 January 1999
Idiotic Safety Precautions
The man who took my ticket for today's flight told me that my carry-on bag was unsafe because it was too heavy. (My carry-on bag should, of course, not be confused with my carrion bag, which I always send as separate luggage.) I told him that it was more or less the same assortment of cameras and computers I've been using for years, but he ignored me with professional disdain. I think he was trying to earn the Good Employee of the Month Award.

I told him I'd transfer some of my equipment from my shoulder bag to my other piece of luggage. What I really did was to simply put the two heaviest pieces of my computer equipment on the terminal floor (where he couldn't see them), then let him reweigh the bag. Nine-point eight kilos! Safe!

I then repacked the "overweight" pieces of computer nonsense and then boarded the plane, after the idiot "serving" me concluded that my bag was no longer dangerous.

If you're reading this I'm not dead. Yet.

21 January 1999
Digital Beer
I spent all night dreaming about how to digitize cans of beer. If I could convert beer to and from a digital state, then all I'd have to do would be copy-paste-drink, copy-paste-drink, copy-paste-drink for the rest of my life.

Beautiful!

My nocturnal adventure reminds me of the story of the man who passes out in a ditch on the way home from the pub. Our hero is very drunk, and he only regains consciousness just before dawn. After opening his eyelids a couple of millimeters, he sees the fuzzy outline of a leprechaun ... and then grabs the little creature by his ankle!

"Let me go!" screams the leprechaun.

"I know my rights," answers the drunk. "I want my three wishes!"

After protracted negotiations, the leprechaun grants the drunkard's first wish for a bottle of Guinness. Our drunken protagonist gulps the bottle's contents again and again, but the bottle remains full.

"What's going on?" asks the drunk drunk.

"What you have there, my pissed friend, is a magic bottle of Guinness. You can drink as much as you want, but the bottle will always remain full."

"Really?" asked the drunk.

"Really," replied the leprechaun.

"Well then," said the drunk, "I'll have two more magic bottles!"

And that was more or less how my dream progressed. The search for free beer is a never-ending quest.

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22 January 1999
War ... and Peace
A visiting friend told me she was reading Leo Tolstoy's War. I asked her if she meant War and Peace, but she said meant War.

She explained that War and Peace, at 1,352 pages, was too long to read on a two-week trip and too heavy to carry. She solved the problem by chopping the book in half.

I don't think Leo would have liked that, especially when she decided not to read and Peace because War was too boring.

23 January 1999
Deranged Art
"If contents in glass become deranged they may be set in order by removing top of box." That's what Joseph Cornell wrote on the back of Soap Bubble Set No. 22. I love the thought of part of an art work becoming deranged.

24 January 1999
You Make Love Like a Communist Spy
Eva's back from Berlin with yet another strange report. One of the most popular nightclub acts is a performance by the Glacier Sisters. Their act consists of singing a very long and repetitious song, "You Make Love Like a Communist Spy." They do this dressed in thick, one-piece, black neoprene swimming suits, the kind made famous by the East German women swimmers in the 1952 Olympic games. The Glacier Sisters always perform with their backs to the audience.

Mit schlag!

25 January 1999
Old Bad Trip
I've been listening to a BBC radio play about a fictitious rock band from the 1970s. It's not a bad piece, but I can't help but be reminded that it sounds very much like the film, This is Spinal Tap, which, because of its widespread distribution and promotion, remains perhaps the definitive caricature of that era's musical and commercial excesses.

So why would anyone do something that's been done so well before? I believe I found the answer in the credits. The person who wrote the radio piece also wrote the accompanying "hits" of the mythical ensemble. I can only conclude the entire exercise was concocted in order to provide a legitimate reason to write 1970s rock music two or three decades after it became unpopular.

26 January 1999
Fear of Wildebeest
I'm staying with friends and reading some of their old magazines. (Since I haven't seen the periodicals before, they're new to me.) I found an amazing piece of copywriting in one of the advertisements:

    INTRODUCING THE NEW JEEP® GRAND CHEROKEE 5.9 LIMITED, THE WORLD'S FASTEST SPORT UTILITY VEHICLE.

    When you think about four-wheel drive capability, speed isn't the first thing that usually comes to mind. Unless, of course, you're being chased across the Serengeti by a herd of hostile wildebeest. Then you'll want the exceptional speed and capability of the new 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about, now I fear being chased by a herd of hostile wildebeest. And to make matters worse, I haven't owned a car for almost a decade.

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27 January 1999
Hannah Henry (snaportrait)
Hannah is the daughter of friends of mine.

28 January 1999
Good Parental Advice
I kept worrying that one of Mary's kids would hurt themselves. The youngest one was rather wobbly on her feet and the older ones didn't worry much about falling, tripping, or smashing into things.

"Don't worry," she said. "They're built close to the floor for a reason."

29 January 1999
Connoisseurship
I overheard a gallery owner trying to sell some bad art to some gullible rich people. Again and again, the salesman kept using the word "connoisseurship."

I asked my companion, who knows much more about gallery nonsense than I ever will, what connoisseurship meant.

"In his case," she replied, "it means a license to fob off pathetic crap that people would normally be too smart to buy."

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart