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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XLV

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5 November 2013

gratuitous image

No. 606 (cartoon)

I forgot how brutal you can be.

Maybe this will help you remember.

6 November 2013

gratuitous image

Libraries Burn, Ask Any Alexandrian

At three-thirty this morning, some idiot decided start breaking glass in the recycling bin outside my window at the Internet Archive. Engineers are generally intelligent, so why don’t so many of them have even the most basic social skills?

And then I realized it wasn’t recycling; thieves were smashing windows in order to break into the Archive’s scanning center to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars of hardware. Why do these things always happen when my Glock is being cleaned?

And then I realized it wasn’t a burglary; intense flames generated the flickering light and exploded pane after pane after pane of overheated glass windows.

I approached the inferno, but didn’t get very close. I responded to the terrifying conflagration with a primeval fight-or-flee response and fled. I called the fire department, and the firefighters had the blaze under control in ten minutes.

And that was that: the fire destroyed the small building adjacent to the Archive proper, along with everything in it. No humans were injured; it was just a matter of money and machines.

The espresso machine as well as the main building were untouched; the rest of the day was uneventful.

As usual.

7 November 2013

Overcoming Chromophobia

I’ve been making entries in this alleged artist’s notebook of sorts for almost eighteen years. During that time, I recall publishing color photographs five times: two of my bloody limbs after some graphically rewarding bike accidents, an orange peel, ketchup, and the image of yesterday’s catastrophic fire.

I normally don’t use color because it doesn’t provide any important information a black and white image doesn’t. The orange peel may have been invisible in a photograph unless I used color, but everyone knows that fires are orange and that blood and ketchup are red.

So why did I include redundant data? Perhaps because I’m inconsistent and hypocritical? And which is worse, ignorance or apathy?

I don’t know, and I don’t care.

8 November 2013

A Grand Theory of Urination

Vivian told me that Georgia Tech researchers went to the zoo in Atlanta, took some notes, and came up with a Grand Theory of Urination. It’s fairly simple, really: all mammals from hamsters to hippos empty their bladders in twenty-one seconds.

I told Vivian that their southern-fried theorem was balderdash and bunkum.

“Not so fast,” she advised. “As a scientist, I think we need to scientifically test their poppycock theory.”

We repaired to the local liquor store and purchased a large supply of Rainier Ale for our research project. After drinking can after frosty can of the fermented nectar, we proceeded to urinate as needed. Given the quantities of the test beverage consumed, we obtained enough data to decisively conclude that the Grand Theory of Urination remains undiscovered.

9 November 2013

I Could Have Thought of That

Roscoe, my late grandfather, often said, “I have a lot of music in me, but none of it ever came out.”

This fallacy may or may not be a corollary: in American folklore, everyone has one great novel in them. Some woman told that to Ann Patchett; she described her rebuttal in her book, The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life.

“Does everyone have one great floral arrangement in them?” I asked her.

“No,” she said.

I remember that her gray hair was thick and cropped short and that she looked at me directly, not glancing over at the flowers.

“One algebraic proof?”

She shook her head.

“One Hail Mary pass? One five-minute mile?”

I suppose that’s a decent argument, but I dislike a series of rhetorical questions. I prefer the case that Douglas Adams made against the naïve supposition that anyone can do anything if they really tried.

“It is a rare mind indeed that can render the hitherto nonexistent blindingly obvious. The cry ‘I could have thought of that’ is a very popular and misleading one, for the fact is that they didn’t, and a very significant and revealing fact it is too.”

10 November 2013

The Report of My Illness Grew Out of His Illness ...

“James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness; the report of my death was an exaggeration.”

That’s one of Mark Twain’s less popular quotes, and the basis for a famous misquotation: “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

Twain never said that, but the clever line was attributed to him since he said something similar and because it was as witty as many of the things he actually did say.

That’s a common occurrence. Many famous quotes went through many iterations before evolving into the version that became popular. And since virtually all famed sayings are attributed—or misattributed—to prominent figures, we’ll never know who originally said, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

11 November 2013

Don’t Invite Us to the Same Party

I told Thia that I didn’t want to come to her party because her obnoxious friend Devorah would be there.

“What’s wrong with Devorah?” she asked.

“Well, to begin with, she has the personality of a rabid chihuahua with a methamphetamine problem.” I began. “How much time do you have?

“She has a fine personality,” Thia protested.

“Perhaps,” I conceded, “but not for a member of the human race.”

Stare.

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©2013 David Glenn Rinehart

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