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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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23 July 2014

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No. 117 (cartoon)

You believe your own lies.

You have your reality and I have mine.

24 July 2014

Stuck Deep in the Bowels

Deep in the bowels of the Pentagon, the six-star general defecated worriedly.

Those are the first twelve words of Rebecca’s first novel. They’re also the final twelve words. In fact, those seventy-seven characters represent her entire progress. She claims that she made a huge mistake by starting with such a brilliant sentence, and that she can’t think of how she could possibly go on from there.

Rebecca’s problem isn’t her hallucinatory genius, or even her delusions of adequacy. No, she dug the hole she’s in by telling anyone who’d listen that she was working on a novel. Big mistake.

I learned to (almost) never tell anyone about work in gestation. If I complete it, that’s the time to announce it. And if I don’t, no one knows about yet another failure except me.

25 July 2014

God’s Bollocks!

I was delighted by Sheila’s two-word critique of my latest chowderheaded scheme: “God’s bollocks!”

I knew she meant to say codswallop, but English is not her first language. As a result, she was in an excellent position to coin a new phrase, and I’m glad she did.

26 July 2014

You Certainly Got a Good One!

My parents raised me to be a nice guy; that’s served me well except when it comes to telling someone their work aspires to mediocrity but misses the mark. I can’t be that direct, so I tell them another version of the truth: their work addresses aesthetic concerns that have little in common with mine.

I recently heard a more amusing way of saying the same thing that was broadcast on an episode of the “I Love Lucy” television show years before I was born. Here’s the setup: Marion enters the room wearing a farcical hat and solicits Lucy’s opinion.

“Well, Marion,” she replied, “if that's the kind of hat you wanted, you certainly got a good one!”

27 July 2014

Taking Good Pictures

I’m always amused and confused when someone asks me to recommend a camera that “takes good pictures.” They all do, or they all don’t, depending on who’s using it.

I can’t decide whether this is a corollary, but I heard a story many years ago about a photography teacher who blindfolded a beginning student and took her and her automatic camera for a walk. She photographed blindly, and the novice ended up making a number of photographs that were rather good, and certainly better than had she tried to make a “good” picture.

The way to make good pictures is not to make good pictures; any camera or medium will do.

28 July 2014

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Lily Pond (Painting)

A few weeks ago I reported on my aborted attempt to paint roses. Sheila told me something I should have known all along: painting roses was a stupid idea.

“Great artists don’t paint roses,” she explained, “they paint lily ponds.”

I thought painting a lily pond was an even stupider idea than painting roses, so of course I had to try it. I spent a hundred dollars on the cheapest white paint I could find, the grabbed my night vision goggles and headed to Golden Gate Park at three in the morning.

By the dawn’s early light, I returned with my camera to admire my new piece, Lily Pond (Painting). That’s when I discovered I probably needed at least five times as much paint to thoroughly paint the pond. I hope someone else finishes my painting; I’m not going to invest more than a hundred dollars in any piece, no matter how stupid it is.

29 July 2014

A Maoist Correction

Berkeley Breathed and Bill Watterson more or less retired from publishing comics after a decade of great work. I miss their humor, but it’s good that they didn’t continue to work until their creations were mediocre, irrelevant, or worse.

I wonder what Garry Trudeau is doing these days? It certainly isn’t working on his daily Doonesbury cartoon strip; he’s only creating a new strip once a week. For the other six days, he’s publishing reruns from decades ago. It’s too bad that I’ll be glad when he quits rather than wish he’d kept at it, as was the case with Breathed and Watterson.

As Pythagoras of Samos noted two and a half millennia ago, “It’s a bad joke that is without value.” And so, I note from a Doonesbury rerun that I need to correct something I wrote exactly a dozen years ago today:

“It’s like Chairman Mao said, if one can believe Garry Trudeau,” I explained. “There’s confusion in heaven, and the situation underneath is excellent.”

He actually wrote, “There is great disorder under heaven and the situation is excellent.”

Having set the record straight, I’m tired by my tireless quest for journalist excellence. (This notebook is also a journal, no?) The situation is excellent for a nap!

Stare.

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©2014 David Glenn Rinehart

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