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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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5 March 2010

gratuitous image

No. 1,999 (cartoon)

You’re the most despicable person I’ve ever met.

You’ve led a sheltered life.

6 March 2010

Suicidal Exposure

Mark Linkous killed himself today; he fired a bullet through his heart. Very sad, tragically romantic.

I’d never heard of Linkous before, which is too bad. He was a very good composer and musician. Were it not for his suicide, I may never have heard of him. Death is great publicity; it’s too bad one can only do it once.

And that brings me to Vic Chesnutt, who wrote a beautiful love song about suicide, “Flirted With You All My Life.” I like the lyrics; who wouldn’t?

I am a man. I am self-aware, and everywhere I go, you're always right there with me. I've flirted with you all my life, even kissed you once or twice, and to this day, I swear it was nice, but clearly I was not ready.

But clearly Chesnutt was finally ready last Christmas, that’s when he took his life. And the resulting press coverage led me to listen to his fine music for the first time.

There must be a better way to promote one’s work, but I have no idea what it might be. And that’s fine with me: if my work doesn’t call attention to itself, then I’m not going to either.

7 March 2010

Snuff Film Buffet

A group of prominent and professionally incestuous members of the film industry got together tonight to give each other awards. The whole self-aggrandizing spectacle was broadcast.

Some friends invited me to watch the silly extravaganza with them, and I agreed. I have no interest in Hollywood vapidity, but I accepted their offer since it included a huge buffet.

My friends organized the event because their organization was peripherally involved in a documentary about dolphin massacres. Of course, their film won a prize. As I learned when I worked with Greenpeace, snuff films are always popular and profitable.

I spent the evening working on my portable computer, drinking my friends’ wine, and ignoring the televised nonsense. I left with a full stomach, so I suppose that I won too.

8 March 2010

gratuitous image

Naegleria gruberi and Naegleria fowleri

Naegleria gruberi lives across the bay in Berkeley. Beneath eucalyptus trees. In the soil. I hear it’s an unremarkable amoeba; it just spends its days chomping on bacteria. Until ...

When Naegleria gruberi gets worried (do amoebae worry?), it develops a couple of little arms that allows it to move on to greener pastures, er, dirt. Apparently, it’s quite endearing.

“I really fell in love,” enthused Lillian Fritz-Laylin. “You take this organism that oozes and is slow and clumsy, and basically you just stress it out, and it becomes this fast, fun, kind of bird-like organism.”

The graduate student at Berkeley also reports that Naegleria gruberi has an evil cousin, Naegleria fowleri.

“It’s pretty, pretty nasty,” Fritz-Laylin reports. “If you’re swimming in water that has a lot of Naegleria fowleri and you happen to get some water up your nose ... they basically go into your nose, into your brain, and eat your brain. And you’re dead pretty quickly.”

I looked at photos of Naegleria fowleri, and they do indeed look scary, albeit relatively humane. Being dead pretty quickly is better than a number of alternatives.

9 March 2010

Things (Not) to Do Before Dying

When I visited Colin at his studio, I saw the book 101 Things to Do Before You Die on the table.

“What are you doing with such a ridiculous book?” I asked.

“It’s for my health,” Colin explained. “I figure I’ll live longer if I avoid doing anything I’m supposed to do before I die.”

I was confused by Colin’s reasoning, or lack of same. Do two stupid ideas cancel each other, or is stupidity cumulative?

10 March 2010

A Turbulent Flight Aborted

A Delta Airlines pilot recently aborted a flight when two flight attendants got into a fistfight. (As an aside, I think that’s yet another good reason the cabin crew shouldn’t carry firearms.) A spokesperson for the airline said the flight was canceled because a passenger suffered a panic attack. Predictably, the official story wasn’t the real story.

Jerry’s daughter Megan works for the National Transportation Safety Board; she sent me a copy of the investigators’ confidential report.

It’s true that one of the passengers suffered from anxiety, and asked for some water so she could take her medication. When one flight attendant went to the galley to get a bottle of water, the other flight attendant blocked her path. She reportedly said, “Are you crazy? If you serve one of these morons they’re all going to want us to bring them s*** all the way to f***ing Atlanta!” And then:

“Fisticuffs ensued.”

Having flown quite a bit recently, the content of the report wasn’t surprising. On the other hand, I found the quaint use of asterisks quite amusing. And “fisticuffs?!” I’d love to see a copy of the bureaucrats’ style book, but Megan said it’s highly classified.


11 March 2010

Noisy German Youth

I haven’t visited Berlin in seven years. After reading about recent legislation, I may never travel there again. German lawmakers have decided that children may be audible from 0900 through 1900, Monday through Saturday.

Gott im Himmel!

Until now, German law sensibly required children to be quiet at all times. I remember enjoying the sound of bird calls and rustling leaves in Berlin’s parks; the children were circumspect and quiet. They spoke in hushed tones, but those halcyon days are gone.

“We have to consider the rights of children to shout and make noise while they are growing up,” explained Axel Strohbusch, a Department of Noise Protection [sic] spokesperson.

I don’t like the idea of new generations of wild Germans. After all, it was a previous crop of unruly Germans that annexed Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Oh well, I’ll probably be dead by the time any of these noisy kids are old enough to organize a putsch.

12 March 2010

Whale Must Get Stoned

Religious fanatics settled America, and their descendants are thriving. Some of them formed an organization, the American Family Association.

One of the group’s members, Bryan Fischer, recently wrote an article advocating that the captive orca whale that killed its trainer be stoned to death. Fischer explained that he’s just helpfully passing along God’s instructions.

“Says the ancient civil code of Israel, ‘When an ox gores a man or woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten, but the owner shall not be liable.’”

It gets worse. Since the killer whale in question has killed humans before, the recent attack triggered new penalties for repeat offenders.

“To use the example from Exodus, if your ox kills a second time, ‘the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death.’”

Yep, that means Chuck Thompson, the amusement park employee responsible for animal behavior, should also be stoned. And not in the marijuaniac sense, either.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the whale’s owners accept the Neanderthals’ advice. Public executions have always been popular, and I can imagine members of the American Family Association throwing stones at the whale for years without harming the five thousand kilogram beast. With any box office luck, one of the zealots will get close enough to the tank for the whale to grab another victim.

A perversion of wildlife coupled with a perversion of religion, what a show!


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©2010 David Glenn Rinehart

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