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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XIV


3 April 2011

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No. 6,078 (cartoon)

You cut me intentionally.

You have a keen grasp of the obvious.

4 April 2011

The Coincidence Engine

I read a great review of Sam Leith’s novel, The Coincidence Engine. I appreciated it because the piece didn’t talk about the novel, not at all. Instead, Sam Leith, the reviewer, just trotted out lots of anecdotes. Perfect!

The 1898 novel Futility featured an “unsinkable” ocean liner, the Titan. The fictitious ship sank after smashing into a North Atlantic iceberg on her maiden voyage. Most of the passengers in the book died because of a paucity of lifeboats. Of course, that’s exactly what happened to the Titanic fourteen years later.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the second and third United States presidents, both died on 4 July 1826, exactly fifty years after they signed the Declaration of Independence.

Mark Twain was born when Halley’s Comet approached earth in 1835. Twain predicted that he’d die the next time that the comet returned. And he did, in 1910.

And so on.

Here’s my favorite line from Leith’s review: “In a universe where anything can happen, most things sooner or later do.”

I suppose that’s as good of an explanation as any for last night’s dinner with Lydia.

5 April 2011

The Truth Crutch

Theresa asked me if my story about the gerbils, the wasabi mayonnaise, and the muumuu was true. I didn’t know what to say, since I can’t remember if the unfortunate event really happened. And anyway, what is really, really?

I felt sorry for Theresa. I don’t think she’ll ever be truly happy as long as she uses her search for “truth” to mask her imagination deficiency. Or maybe her penchant for truthiness is just a crutch; I don’t know. She gets perturbed when the subject comes up, so we never discuss it.

Truth is a crutch for people with an imagination deficiency.

6 April 2011

Everyone Hates an Editor

Over lunch, Cheryl announced that she’s working on her will. This struck me as an improbable endeavor, since she’s as unburdened by financial wealth as I am. It turns out that she’s worried that a stroke or some other serious malady might leave her completely incapacitated. Or, to use popular slang, a human vegetable.

“I’ve edited it down to two sentences in plain English,” she said as she passed me a sheet of paper. “What do you think?”

I don’t want to live in a vegetative state, dependent on a machine and fluids from a bottle. If I’m found in that condition, I want my life ended.

“You need to start over,” I advised.

“What’s wrong with it?” Cheryl asked.

I pointed out that she spends most of her waking hours with a computer and a bottle of wine.

“According to your definition,” I explained, “you’ve been dead for years.”

“Feh,” she replied.

Everyone hates an editor.

7 April 2011

A Thing or Two About Nothing

Stephanie told me I should start at least two ambitious projects if I wanted to be truly happy. I argued that I’m reasonably satisfied with my modest creative output, and that doing much more work might adversely affect my indolence.

“You’re doing nothing wrong,” Stephanie declared.

“Thanks,” I replied, “but I wouldn’t go quite that far.”

“No,” she protested, “I mean you’re not doing nothing well.”

“Why the double negative?” I asked. “Is that some Zen precept?”

Stephanie was at a loss for words, so she recited a Jerome Klapka Jerome quote.

“There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do.”

I was skeptical that she accurately remembered his words, so I asked the Internet to confirm he actually said that. The Internet confirmed that he did indeed say that, and more.

“I like work. I am fascinated by it. I can sit and look at it for hours.”

Wow, what an hombre! Jerome knew a thing or two about nothing.

8 April 2011

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A Penny as Old as My Father

I was counting the change in my pocket this afternoon, and noticed a very old penny. It was minted in 1920, the year my father was born.

I was struck by the coincidence: today would have been my father’s ninety-first birthday. Would have been, except that Glenn died almost twenty years ago.

I suppose I should say something profound about my father and/or life and death, but I’m not feeling the least bit erudite. Instead, I think I’ll have a few beers and one more for Glenn. My father would have liked that.


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©2011 David Glenn Rinehart

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