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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XII


19 March 2011

gratuitous image

No. 8,165 (cartoon)

You’re hopeless without me.

And even less with you.

20 March 2011

Conceptual Extreme Supermoon

There was a supermoon over San Francisco last night. I read about it on the Internet, so it must be true.

Right now, the earth is closer to the moon than it’s been since 19 January 1992; it’s only only 356,577 kilometers away. As a result, the full moon appeared three tenths of a percent larger than it would appear at its most distant orbit from Earth.

Or, to be more accurate, it might have appeared that way had not San Francisco been suffocated in the stormy embrace of a winter monsoon. I wasn’t very disappointed; a supermoon seems like more of a conceptual experience than an empirical one.

21 March 2011

Andy’s Immigration Stratagem

Andy loves Andrea and vice versa. They’re getting married, maybe. Andy’s an American, Andrea’s Canadian, and that’s a problem, since the American government is skeptical about giving Canadians citizenship and vice versa.

Last week, Andy endured a grueling interview with an immigration official in Vancouver who was trying to ascertain whether it was a marriage of love or a marriage of convenience. He reported that his interrogator asked him if he was truly attracted to Andrea.

“You’ve seen her, haven’t you?” Andy replied. “You’re not a heterosexual, are you?”

Andy’s risky gambit of turning the tables on his questioner worked. The bureaucrat sullenly stamped his papers and released him without asking another intrusive questions.

That’s amore, Canadian stylee, eh?

22 March 2011

¡Viva Snotty!

I first heard about the Snot Otter, or Hellbender, quite some time ago, but couldn’t think of anything to say about this remarkable amphibian except a few dry, er, slimy facts. The beast can grow to three fourths of a meter long, lives up to thirty years, dines on crayfish, has toxic skin secretions, that sort of thing. In short, an unremarkable reptile résumé.

That’s why I’m grateful to the staff at the North Carolina Zoo for embracing the cannibalistic salamander as a mascot in the form of Snotty, a stylized version of the real gooey thing. At last, there’s a noteworthy development in the riparian world of Cryptobranchus alleganiensis.

“They are beautiful and I do love them,” Jayne Owen Parker, the zoo’s director of conservation education said, “but they are not fuzzy or cuddly.”

That’s quite an astute observation. Most commercial wildlife enterprises, nonprofit and otherwise, profit from their association with charismatic megafauna: pandas, lions, marine mammals, et cetera. That’s easy money; I’ve been living off such creatures for most of my life.

Fedoras off to the folks at the North Carolina Zoo for having the courage to associate with a homely domestic endangered species instead of one of the usual suspects.

¡Viva Snotty! ¡Viva!

23 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor’s Remarkable Obituary

I appreciated the Elizabeth Taylor obituary that appeared in The New York Times, even though I didn’t read a word of it. (I’m not interested in thespians, living or dead.) Here’s the interesting part of the necrology: Mel Gussow, the reporter who wrote it, died six years before Taylor did.

Should anyone draft my obituary six years before my demise, I hope I’ll have done something in those years that would merit at least a modest revision.

24 March 2011

Macaulay versus Brown?

I just heard a scary lecture by Lester Brown; he talked about the very possible collapse of civilization because of climate change, overpopulation, water shortages and related famines, et cetera. Brown’s a smart and insightful hombre with a good track record as an astute observer, so his dire predictions seemed entirely believable.

Soon thereafter, I read this equally compelling observation by Thomas Babington Macaulay. “On what principle is it that when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” The English historian wrote that 1830, well before the industrial revolution.

I don’t know what to believe, so I believe I’ll have a drink.

25 March 2011

Vietnam Postcard

Mark sent me a postcard from Viet Nam, imagine that!

I have a very outdated picture of that country. When I think of Viet Nam, I think of the war there into which I feared being conscripted as a teenager. I’ve never been to Viet Nam, but I flew over it one night en route to Thailand. When I did, I imagined that my first flight over the jungles there might have been in a military aircraft had one or two variables been different.

I remember my first trip to Germany decades ago. I couldn’t help but initially think of Nazis when I heard Germans speak, even though there were—and are—probably more Nazis here than there. I quickly disassociated the German language with the Third Reich after a few glasses of apfelwein.

I assume it would only take a couple of days in Hanoi or Saigon, er, Ho Chi Min City for me to also relegate the Viet Nam war to the history books. I understand most of the populace there have already done so; well over half of them were born since the end of the fighting over thirty-five years ago.

I look forward to having a bowl of pho with Mark the next time he visits San Francisco; I wonder how our fare compares to the native versions.


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©2011 David Glenn Rinehart

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