Stare.
 
2009 Notebook: Weak XXVIII
 
   
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9 July 2009
No. 5,100 (cartoon)
This cannot be!

Well, then I suppose it isn’t.

10 July 2009
Cheeseburgers versus Art
I try and maintain a reasonably healthy diet, but on occasion the odd cheeseburger somehow finds its way down my gullet. Cheeseburgers are something of a generic commodity, but for some reason the high-cholesterol sandwiches manufactured at In-N-Out Burger franchises are exceptionally tasty.

The In-N-Out Burger menu is a model of fast-food minimalism; there aren’t many options besides greasy burgers, greasy potatoes, and sugary drinks. The absence of adornment reflects the philosophy of the company’s cofounder Harry Snyder, who advised, “Keep it real simple. Do one thing and do it the best you can.”

Harry came up with a great formula for business in general and cheeseburgers in particular. Unfortunately, too many people apply that same approach to their ostensibly creative pursuits. I like the idea of being able to enjoy the same sandwich year after year; I appreciate a good culinary formula. Why people choose to paint the same painting, sing the same song, or repeat some other ostensibly creative act year after year after year, this I cannot understand.

Repetition and formulas are for restaurateurs, not artists. On the other hand, since so many artists repeat fatigued formulas, I suppose I could be wrong.

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11 July 2009
Motorcycle Accident with Whisky
I just had my first cycling accident in over a year. As usual, it was my fault.

A lot of people think the hardest part about cycling in San Francisco is navigating the steep hills. That’s not true; all but the most vertiginous inclines are navigable with a good bike and a few months of exercise. No, the most difficult aspect of biking is concentrating.

After cars twice knocked me off my bike, I learned to assume every automobile was going to abruptly turn into my path without signaling. Now, when I ride, I always ignore midgets with flamethrowers, beautiful women of every flavor, garbage catapults; I only pay attention to things that may cause my immanent demise.

Actually, I should have said that I almost always ignore such distractions. Today, I couldn’t resist gawking at a huge motorcycle towing a barrel of whiskey. With a handy spigot, even. I wondered if I was seeing the mechanized version of a St. Bernard rescue dog with a barrel of brandy around its neck.

I should have been wondering where the curb was, since that’s what I crashed into while gaping at the mobile whiskey dispenser. I doubt I’ll ever have the visual discipline to be a safe cyclist.

12 July 2009
Henry David Thoreau’s Compliant Mother
Today is Henry David Thoreau’s one-hundred and ninety-second birthday. As a hypocrite who admires other hypocrites, this is a birthday worth noting.

There are many things to admire about Thoreau, such as when he turned down a diploma from Harvard when he graduated at age twenty. He did that because the prestigious piece of sheepskin cost five dollars, but it’s still a good story. What’s not as well know is that he “became weepy” when his mother gently suggested that, as a Harvard graduate, it might be time for him to move out of her house. He refused.

Thoreau is famous for his time at Walden Pond. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach ...”

Apparently, laundry wasn’t one of life’s essential facts; his mother washed his dirty clothes and provided him with apple pies. I wonder what the pies taught Thoreau?

His foray into the natural world only took him some three kilometers from the town of Concord, Massachusetts, where he regularly dined. Still, that was sufficient for purposes of his research.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

In my common hours, I’d never expect my mother to feed and house me and clean my clothes as an adult, so I suppose Thoreau had a point.

13 July 2009
Mysterious Ways
Conrad and Lori are at it again; here’s what happened.

Conrad declined Lori’s invitation to visit her after his last client of the day left; he explained that he needed a nap before going to a party.

“You can take a nap at my place,” Lori replied.

“I can’t sleep there; there’s too much light.”

“I have new, opaque curtains.”

“And anyway, I need a shower.”

“You can take a shower here.”

“I need clean clothes.”

“I’ll wash your clothes while you sleep.”

“I want to wear something else, so I’m heading back to my place.”

“You don’t love me any more, do you?” Lori demanded.

“Of course I do,” Conrad responded. “Just because I don’t do everything you want doesn’t mean I don’t love you.”

“Actions speak louder than words.”

Conrad reported that was the last thing Lori said before hanging up.

“So did you to Lori’s place or did you go home?” I asked.

“I decided those were both losing options,” Conrad explained, “so I went to Angelina’s house and skipped the party.”

Love works in mysterious ways, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all.

14 July 2009
Lip-smacking, Finger-licking Delights
I enjoyed a healthy breakfast of beans with rice, followed by a tasty lunch of rice with beans. I’m looking forward to a combination of the two for dinner.

I feel sorry for my friends who find such cuisine uninteresting; my low entertainment threshold for the culinary arts makes every meal a lip-smacking, finger-licking delight.

15 July 2009
Not a Proper Subway Rat
I missed catching the 22:37 train in Berkeley tonight, so I found myself all alone on the subway platform. Except, I wasn’t alone.

On the other end of the station, I saw a rodent scurrying under a bench. I investigated the sighting, and discovered it was only mouse, and not a proper subway rat. Nevertheless, for just that moment, I felt like I was in a real city.

16 July 2009
Forbidden Meatfruit
Freddie is making a fortune selling vegetarian bacon at health food fairs, vegan festivals, and other such venues. He explained that what most born-again vegetarians miss about their carnivorous days is bacon, so they pay a fortune for his vegetarian bacon.

“What’s in the vegetarian bacon that makes it taste so good?” I asked.

“Some combination of pigs and nitrates and hogs and antibiotics and inorganic phosphate salts and such shit, I imagine,” Freddie explained. “It’s just repackaged cheap factory bacon that I sell for seven times what I paid for it.”

“That has to be illegal,” I observed.

“Most highly-profitable ventures are,” Freddie replied. “I figure I’m bringing happiness into the universe; I’m making so many people happy by giving them the forbidden meatfruit they crave.”

Freddie’s great at business; he can justify anything.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart