Stare.
 
2002 Notebook: Weak XXXVI
 
   
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3 September 2002
No. 1,905 (cartoon)
I fear things are starting to look fairly bleak.

I find your petty, tireless optimism very tedious.

4 September 2002
Counting to One
I have a “Work in Progress” folder on my computer’s hard disk. That’s where I keep some fifty art pieces in various stages of gestation. Since I see that I haven’t done anything with Approved Publications since 1994, I fear my use of the words “progress” and “gestation” suggests an almost hallucinatory optimism. I’m not complaining, though. Empty work in progress folders kill more artists than absinthe and hashish combined.

Nevertheless, I began on a much more modest project this morning. I counted to one. It’s a great project; I can’t start it without completing it.

One.

Simple.

One.

I did it again!

5 September 2002
Carbuncle on the Face of Reality
Mr. F. Edwards sent me a terse email message this morning.

    Mr. Rinehart

    You are a carbuncle on the face of reality.

    Mr. F. Edwards
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

I’m confused. Why would anyone claim to be from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, even if they were telling the truth? And what in the hell is a carbuncle?

My piss-poor dictionary tells me a carbuncle is either a “painful localized bacterial infection of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that usually has several openings through which pus is discharged” or a “deep-red garnet, unfaceted and convex.”

I wonder how Mr. F. Edwards of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma knew that the garnet is my birthstone?

6 September 2002
Too Much Practice
After Jimmy gave a stunning musical performance, I told him I was very impressed with his musicianship. I lamented my lack of such success after years of playing the horn in school.

“Not only was I unable to improvise,” I said, “I couldn’t even sight-read.”

“Did you practice a lot?” Jimmy asked.

“I suppose so,” I replied. “For quite a while, I played my horn four hours a day. I did it for dedication, not love; I rarely practiced without keeping one eye on the clock.”

“I think I see your problem,” Jimmy responded. “I was good at sight-reading because I never practiced.”

“Interesting observation,” I agreed. “I never practice these days, and I’m doing much better aesthetically.”

7 September 2002
Undead Kennedys
I read that three of the four members of the musical ensemble Dead Kennedys have hired a new singer and are performing again. I think that’s too bad.

In general, artistic collaborations lose their chemistry—their vitality—after a while. When I was a boy, I was very disappointed to learn that the members of the Beatles decided to go their separate ways. I now understand that it was the right thing move, especially when I see the Rolling Stones doing a parody of the Rolling Stones.

The reunion of the Dead Kennedys is an especially unfortunate idea. The quartet’s singer, Jello Biafra, wisely chose to let the Dead Kennedys die a natural death. It’s sad to see musicians trying to imitate themselves, and even sadder to see them lampoon themselves with a the help of a bad ventriloquist.

Burlesque is so money.

8 September 2002
Grounded
I was supposed to take aerial photographs for Christa this afternoon, but the pilot canceled the flight because she questioned her plane’s mechanical integrity. Although I was disappointed to miss the flight, I was glad the pilot was smart enough to discover technical problems when the plane was at peace with gravity.

Christa opined that flying would be much safer if more airplane malfunctions took place on the ground.

I agreed.

9 September 2002
No Legitimate Antecedents, Irregardless
I interrupted Samantha in mid-sentence as soon as she said the word, “irregardless.” I have many annoying traits, and trying to be a linguistic zealot is certainly one of my most bothersome.

I claimed that irregardless wasn’t a legitimate word, then was surprised to learn that I was right. Fortunately, three different dictionaries provided such amusing commentary that Samantha didn’t get too perturbed by my pedantry.

    Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early twentieth century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.

    Irregardless is considered nonstandard because it is redundant: once the negative idea is expressed by the -less ending, it is poor style to add the negative ir prefix to express the same idea. Nonetheless, it does creep into the speech of good English speakers, perhaps as a result of attempting greater emphasis.

    The label Non-Standard does only approximate justice to the status of irregardless. More precisely, it is a form that many people mistakenly believe to be a correct usage in formal style but that in fact has no legitimate antecedents in either standard or nonstandard varieties. (The word was likely coined from a blend of irrespective and regardless.) Perhaps this is why critics have sometimes insisted that there is “no such word” as irregardless, a charge they would not think of leveling at a bona fide nonstandard word such as ain’t, which has an ancient genealogy.

I love Samantha. Why she tolerates me, I do not know.

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart