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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak IV


22 January 2012

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No. 3,709 (cartoon)

I always wanted to be somebody.

You’re a pillock.

I should have been more specific.

23 January 2012

Stalling for Wisdom

I don’t understand why some of my friends take writing classes. Even though I never did, I assume that one can learn spelling, grammar, punctuation, et cetera, in a classroom setting. But writing? Barbara Kingsolver had an interesting perspective on the situation.

“It is harrowing for me to try to teach twenty-year-old students, who earnestly want to improve their writing. The best I can think to tell them is: Quit smoking, and observe posted speed limits. This will improve your odds of getting old enough to be wise.”

I’ve spent decades not smoking while obeying traffic laws, but I’m still not wise. I’m glad I never had Barbara Kingsolver—or anyone else since I was a teenager—as a writing instructor.

24 January 2012

Indispensable Copy Editors

My writing is full of typographical errors. That’s not surprising, since English is a difficult language, I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t have an editor. What I don’t understand is why I find typos in the New York Times, a huge institution with an army of editors. For example, here’s a mea culpa the newspaper recently printed.

We spelled the word “indispensable” correctly 161 times in the last year. Unfortunately, we spelled it incorrectly, as “indispensible,” 17 times, an error rate of nearly 10 percent.

That confession cheered me up. If the New York Times can’t eradicate typographical errors, I’m certainly not going to do so. I long ago learned to live with my typos; they entertain my friends. (I would have added, “and foes,” but I don’t have any.)

25 January 2012

Enjoying a Grown-up Birthday

Today is Jules Feiffer’s birthday, among others. I know nothing about the hombre except that he created some great cartoons, and he had the same childhood aspiration that I did. As a boy, “the only thing I wanted to be was grown up.”

Even though I had great parents, the main thing I remember from being a boy were all the silly rules and chafing restrictions. Tonight, for example, it’s almost midnight, and I’m gnawing on a rubbery haggis and swilling whisky in honor of today’s other notable birthday boy, Rabbie Burns. Most children aren’t allowed to enjoy such pleasures; how unjust is that?

26 January 2012

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The Abominable Hairs

One of the many things I love about Japanese culture is the obsessive compulsion with order, cleanliness, and homogeneity. Some entrepreneurs have tapped into this market by creating a service, “Chololi,” that allows people to anonymously tell their alleged friends that their nose hairs are visible. This is how it works.

The complainant fills out a short form with the accused’s name, email address, and number of hairs visible in each nostril. S/he then decides the tone of the notification: mild, strong, commanding, or scornful. According to the company’s propaganda, that results in the hirsute offender going on to enjoy a better life after eliminating the abominable hairs.

I wonder if Chololi, “taking care of nostril hairs,” will be successful. If so, maybe the company will expand its mission to rid the world of mousey mustaches? And bouquets of scraggly hairs growing out of warts? Like most wars, the war on hair could be a very profitable one.

27 January 2012

Placebo Overdose

Wanda reported that Joel’s father died from an overdose of placebos. Apparently, the old man had suffered so long from his debilitating diseases that he lost the will to live. He decided to end it all by eating the bottle of pills his doctor gave him; he didn’t know they were just inert tablets to distract him from the fact that he’d never recover from his afflictions.

I was skeptical about the story, but not for long. It makes sense that if someone can trick themselves into believing that a sugar pill is making them better, it’s not hard to believe that they could convince themselves that too many would serve as a lethal overdose.

28 January 2012


People laugh at my telephone. With derision, even. It has no camera, navigational aids, suite of computer applications, or even Internet access. In fact, about the only thing that it’s good for is to talk with someone far away. Apparently, that’s considered a rather useless—albeit novel—thing for which to use a phone.

As if modern phones don’t have enough features, I spotted a new telephone device, the Intoxicase. It’s nothing more than a telephone case with a built-in bottle opener. It seems like a really dumb idea, especially since there’s no corkscrew included.

I may be dating myself to note that it’s easy to open a bottle with a key. With fingerprints, retinal scans, et cetera being used in lieu of metal keys, perhaps there really is a need for a telephone that also serves as a bottle opener.

29 January 2012

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Gratuitous Photo of the Weak: Shrubberies Against the Wall

I don’t understand people who romanticize sunlight by describing it as Arctic light, Mediterranean light, or Californian light. It all comes from the same star, just at different angles and distances. I took this photograph of winter shrubberies this afternoon on the Oakland Riviera; I have no idea whether I used Mediterranean light or Californian light.


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©2012 David Glenn Rinehart