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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XXV

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18 June 2014

gratuitous image

No. 5,373 (cartoon)

Our love has reached a new level.

I think so too.

We’ve sunk lower than I imagined possible!

19 June 2014

Dull Computers and Stupidity

I don’t think I’ve ever given consumer advice in this notebook before, but that’s going to change right now: do not buy anything from Dull (spelled “Dell”) Computer.

Last year, I bought a seven hundred dollar Dull monitor for five hundred dollars. I thought that was a good deal, but it proved to be false economy. First, it took over a month to fill the order. Then the display flickered with increasing frequency until it stopped working entirely. After a month of complaining, the Dull people sent me a replacement unit, but it was the wrong model. They eventually shipped the correct version another month later, but it didn’t work. After months of backing and forthing, I demanded a refund. Instead, the Dull folks sent me a larger and much better monitor along with new video cables. Before returning the “broken” display, I tested it with a new cable and it worked fine. I was too stupid to realize that the problem wasn’t the expensive monitor; it was a defective ten-dollar cable.

I told this story to Dr. Jesi, and concluded that it pays to be stupid since that’s how I got a very expensive piece of hardware. She agreed, and lamented that you can’t plan on stupidity or else you’d be smart. Although it worked out advantageously for me, I’d advise against buying anything from Dull Computer unless you’re stupid.

20 June 2014

Charles Barsotti

I asked the obvious question when Willy told me that Charles Barsotti died: “Who’s that?”

I soon discovered that I was familiar with his cartoons, over thirteen hundred of which were published in the New Yorker magazine alone. His cartoons look like New Yorker cartoons are supposed to look, primarily because he was one of the people who defined that genre over the last half century.

I don’t believe in measuring success, but, if I did, that would certainly be one measure of success.

21 June 2014

Solstice Prediction

Astronomers and hippies alike agree that today is the summer solstice, at least in the northern hemisphere. It’s also a day when I can safely predict one aspect of my behavior for the next six months.

Normally I agree with Niels Bohr’s observation, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” I have decades of data on which to base my projection, so I’m not going out very far on a limb by saying that for the next six months I’ll be noting that the days are getting shorter, just as for the last six months I’ve repeatedly pointed out that they’re getting longer.

Fiona said that I’m so predictable that I’m boring. Or maybe she said that I’m so boring that I’m predictable. I can’t really say, but I do know that it will be six months before the days start getting longer again.

22 June 2014

The World’s Ugliest Dog Ever

The twenty-fifth World’s Ugliest Dog Contest produced an unconvincing winner, a Chihuahua and shih-tzu mix. Sure, the cur is ugly, but then most dogs are. But when I think of disgusting, abhorrent, and nauseating dogs, I think of Betty’s dog Boots.

Boots was more of an open running sore with canine DNA than a real dog. Boots was allergic to a combination of fleas and his own saliva, and he spent his miserable life chewing on himself. He gnawed off his fur, and what was left of his skin was covered in abscesses, pustules, and lesions. What made Boots a truly grotesque specter was the sound the doomed beast made when it walked: a combination of his clanging chain collar and the click-click-clicking of its teeth as he chewed on his dripping wounds.

I’m glad the wretched dog is out of his misery, but it’s too bad he never got to compete in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. He would be remembered the way I think of him: the dog against which all other repulsive dogs are measured.

23 June 2014

I Could Have Been a Quadrillionaire

Minnisha told me I could have been a quadrillionaire by now if I’d spent my life investing wisely. She said had I invested a penny when I was born then doubled that amount every year, I’d have over a quadrillion dollars, $1,441,151,880,758,560 to be exact.

That was such a stupid idea I didn’t know how to respond. What investment generates a hundred percent return for decades on end? And what would I do with over a million times more money than I need? And why would anyone who knows me give me advice, sensible or otherwise?

Instead of discussing her ridiculous scheme, I asked Minnisha how close she was to being a quadrillionaire. Predictably, she hadn’t followed her own ridiculous investment plan. She explained that she’d come up with her cockamamie scheme too late in life for it to work.

“I could always marry that much money if I really needed it,” she added.

I was impressed that her second plan was as ridiculous as her first; I wish I had that sort of consistency.

24 June 2014

gratuitous image

Postcard Cliché

Everyone and her sister has photographed a postcard held up in front of an appropriate or incongruent background. Everyone except me, that is. And so, this morning I grabbed my camera and a postcard and cycled to the ocean, inspired by Karl Valentin’s observation, “It’s all been said already, though not yet by me.”

Clichés are clichés for a reason: they work. I photographed a postcard of Barbara’s boat with the Pacific Ocean in the background, and found the predictably pleasant image to be predictably pleasant in spite of compositional weaknesses. Having done that once, I shan’t do it again; my first and last effort was good enough for a cliché.

Yawn.

25 June 2014

Strawberries, Chilies, and Cockroaches

There’s a roadside strawberry stand on Verona Drive in Sebastopol. (That’s Sebastopol, California, not Sevastopol, Russia: there’s no Verona Drive in the latter city.)

The Laotian immigrant who runs it will sell you strawberries, but they’re really just a front for his real business: black market chili sauce. I rarely use the word “best,” but his oily chilies are certainly the best I’ve ever tasted. My dealer says there’s nothing in the unlabeled jar except for chilies, shallots, olive oil, and an illegal secret ingredient, hence the need for the strawberry stand facade.

For years, he’s promised that “some day” he’ll tell me what the secret ingredient is. Thanks to the bottle of cheap whiskey I offered him, he finally revealed his secret: fried cockroaches ground to a fine powder.

I was taken aback, but bought four more jars anyway. Why would I not want to have the tastiest chilies on the planet? I did, however, protest that there was nothing illegal about selling cockroaches as food.

My dealer seemed embarrassed, and admitted that he had all the necessary permits, health department inspections, et cetera, to run his chili business. When I asked him why he claimed he couldn’t legally sell his chilies, he looked at me as I was the stupidest person he’d met this month. He laughed and explained, “You stupid Americans pay three times as much as something’s worth when you think it’s illegal.”

I couldn’t object to being called a stupid American, so I didn’t.

Stare.

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©2014 David Glenn Rinehart

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