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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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30 April 2012

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No. 8,333 (cartoon)

I’m shattered.

I’m flattered.

1 May 2012

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The Answer Secret Question Game

A wretched city deserves a wretched airport, and Los Angeles has one. I know this to be true since I had to endure a couple of hours there last night. Part of creating a miserable airport experience is to charge arriving passengers ten dollars to receive electronic mail. Having just paid a fifteen-dollar landing fee as part of my fare, I found this policy particularly annoying, which was no doubt the perfidious administraitors’ intention.

One can access the Internet at the decaying, third-rate (I’m nothing if not charitable) airport with an account and a password, so I made a game of guessing how to do that.

The first step was to guess an account name, which wasn’t hard. I just picked a popular surname like Jones, then added a letter before it; ajones, bjones, cjones, et cetera. Once I found a valid account name, I chose the “I forgot my password” option. I was then asked to answer a “secret question.” It was a poor choice of words, since the question wasn’t secret at all.

For example, “What’s your favorite pet’s name?” That was a tough one, since such names are unpredictable. I guessed Fluffy, Fido, and Rex, but none of them worked. I had to stop after three guesses; that’s when the system locked me out and I had to guess another account name. The stupid game proved remarkably entertaining, especially while sipping whisky.

On what street did you grow up? Main, Green, and Elm never worked.

What is your mother's maiden name? The surname in the account name, Smith, and Jones never worked either.

What is your favorite movie? That one was easy: the traditional answer is Citizen Kane, and that’s what janderson chose for his or her answer. My winning guess didn’t get me far though, only the opportunity to add more money to the Internet account.

I kept going until I got to ievans and got lucky: “In what city did you grow up?” I guessed using the names of the three largest American cities: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. For once, Chicago was a winner, and I finally won access to the Internet.

This proved to be a Pyrrhic victory, though, since it occurred a few minutes before my flight left. The only email I received was an advertisement for “an ancient Aztec solution for natural breast enlargement.”

And that’s how the “Answer Secret Question Game” ended.

2 May 2012

A Dubious Prize

I was one of only six passengers on yesterday’s flight to Flint, Michigan. The flight attendant said it wasn’t unusual for most of the flights to Flint to carry very few passengers. When I asked him how the airline could afford to operate the route, he explained that the flights always left with no empty seats.

“We call it the evacuation run,” he explained.

A fellow passenger from Minot, North Dakota, expressed her dismay after overhearing the conversation. She explained that she’d won the second prize in her local newspaper’s contest: a ten-day vacation in Flint.

“What was the first prize?” I asked.

“A five-day vacation in Flint,” she replied.

“Have a great time!” I said before returning to my seat.

Since she wasn’t smart enough to appreciate the implications of the prize structure, she might actually enjoy her stay in the crumbling city.

3 May 2012

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Gratuitous Photo of the Weak: Rain

Photograph rain.

That task has been on my list of art projects in alleged gestation for at least a decade. The problem is that it doesn’t rain that often in San Francisco, and, when it does, it’s not the almost viscous downpour I want.

As is usually the case, my procrastination paid off, and tonight I enjoyed the thunderstorm of my dreams. I made a number of photographs, but not the one(s) I wanted. This was one of those rare occasions when the lack of the desired hardware—lights and a tripod—prevented me from achieving the results I wanted. That’s most unusual.

I shall have to revisit the “photograph rain” project, most likely with an artificial deluge.

4 May 2012

What Really Happened to Jimmy Hoffa

I ran into Dennis this afternoon. I hadn’t seen my childhood friend in decades, long enough for him to begin and retire from a career in the police force. As a retired detective who lived in Michigan his entire life, I had to ask him about Jimmy Hoffa. The labor leader disappeared in the seventies, and no one knows what happened to him. Or, more accurately, anyone who knows ain’t talking.

A friend of mine with whom I sailed on a Greenpeace boat swore that he knew for a fact that members of an organized crime syndicate killed Hoffa and fed his body into a sausage-making machine. And so, I asked Dennis if he knew what really happened to him.

He solemnly pondered the question for some time before replying, “I do in fact know what happened to him.”

He paused for almost a minute before finally answering the question.

“He died.”

5 May 2012

Sad Lithuanian Beer Tale

Roscoe told me that a Lithuanian court ruled that beer is an essential public service, just like drinking water and medicine. I don’t remember drinking a lot of beer when I was in Lithuania way back when it was occupied by the Soviet Union. My lack of beery memories may be because that was a long time ago, and/or it may be because I really did drink a lot of beer at the time.

The Bhutanese have a right to happiness, and the Lithuanians have a right to beer. Nice, no?


The court was ruling in favor of the Carlsberg Group, the international brewing conglomerate. Workers at the Svyturys-Utenos Alus Brewery voted to strike after Carlsberg decided to freeze their wages for three years; the court ruling prevented them from doing so.

Dang; I hate it when a happy story has a sad ending.

6 May 2012

An Older Ideal of Beauty

For decades, I’ve marveled at why hundreds of millions of women buy periodicals that promote malnourished young teenagers as the epitome of female style and beauty. It looks like I’m not the only one, for the editors of Vogue magazine announced that, beginning next month, their periodicals will no longer feature models who are under sixteen and/or anorexic and/or bulimic.

I suppose that the message is that now women of all ages no longer need to aspire to look like an anorexic thirteen-year-old girl, and instead have the more desirable option of attempting to pass for a healthy young woman of sixteen. At this rate, Vogue may feature aged women of thirty in a century or two.


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©2012 David Glenn Rinehart

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