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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XXXV

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28 August 2014

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No. 7,239 (cartoon)

I don’t feel alive.

Life doesn’t suit you.

29 August 2014

A Real Keystone Cop

Tyson Young was a California State Parks ranger, “was” being the operative word. Before I recount Young’s story, I think it’s important to remember that his job involved constant danger, everything from poison oak to escaped convicts with automatic weapons, including escaped convicts with automatic weapons firing hollow point bullets filled with poison oak. In short, it’s a dangerous, stressful job.

If I had such demanding responsibilities, I’d do what I frequently do: have a beer or two and take a midday nap. That’s what Young did too, but some nosey Nellie photographed him asleep, mouth agape, in his patrol car. With a large, open can of Keystone beer between his legs. (I suppose his unwise choice of beverages technically makes him a latter-day Keystone Cop.)

Vicky Waters, a State Parks bureaucrat, announced, “We do not tolerate the use of alcohol in the workplace.” Speaking from the safety of her well-protected desk, she added, “We take matters like this very seriously.”

Thanks to such dogmatic policies, Tyson Young is no longer protecting us from the myriad threats with which park visitors are only too familiar. I haven’t been to a state park in years, and, with Young off patrol, I’m certainly not going to start now.

30 August 2014

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Pouring Man

Twenty-eight years ago I joined a handful of revelers on Baker Beach in San Francisco. We built an effigy of no one in particular, set him alight, then scattered when the authorities arrived. That was the first Burning Man, unless you count Joan of Arc, et al. I was happy not to be among the sixty-six thousand people sweltering in the heat and dust of the Nevada desert watching the man’s annual burn tonight. It’s like Yogi Berra said, “It’s so crowded that no one goes there anymore.”

Instead, I want to Pouring Man, a Sans Frisco event I organized. Ted Nelson, among the few learned colleagues and riffraff who joined me, provided the best—and most succinct—review. “It’s like literally nothing I’ve seen or experienced before.”

I’m still developing the film, and can’t wait to make a feature-length documentary about the evening. That was just a figure of speech; I’ll obviously have to wait. That’s just the way life is.

31 August 2014

A Dubiously Unusual Month

Ruth sends me stupid things she sees on the Internet, including the claim that the occurrence this month of five Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays happens once every eight hundred and twenty-three years.

That’s obviously complete rubbish. Eight hundred and twenty-three years ago we were using the Julian calendar, today we’re using the Gregorian calendar, and eight hundred and twenty-three years from now generations yet unborn will be using my Davidian calendar.

Ruth knows I almost always ignore the nonsense she sends, and that’s fine with her. We both know the code: when she forwards Internet nonsense, the message is that she’s thinking of me. I think Claude Shannon would agree that when the message sent is the same as the message received, that’s perfect communication.

1 September 2014

Let’s Stockpile Toilet Paper!

More than one hundred and forty thousand people in Tokyo alone died after the Great Kanto Earthquake ninety-one years ago today. Ever since, the Japanese have observed Disaster Prevention Day on the first day of September. Today’s theme: “Let’s stockpile toilet paper!”

Wipe that smile off your face; this is serious. Government and industry officials—a most subtle distinction in Japan—noted with due alarm that forty-one percent of the nation’s toilet paper comes from the earthquake-prone Shizuoka Prefecture. (Is there a prefecture that’s not prone to earthquakes?) As if not to be caught with their collective pants down, Disaster Prevention Day organizers announced a special one hundred and fifty meter long roll of toilet ideal for catastrophes from tsunamis to diarrhea.

I applaud setting Japanese strategy of setting a very modest goal. Stockpiling toilet paper is something that the Japanese can accomplish in a generation or two (as opposed to containing the spreading radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi Genshiryoku Hatsudensho).

Oh, to be in Japan on Disaster Prevention Day!

2 September 2014

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It’s Smack Talk Season

An advertisement at my local subway station announces, “It’s smack talk season,” and features Patrick L. Willis, a sports mercenary, er, professional football player for the local team. The gargantuan galoot posits, “Unnecessary roughness is a necessity.”

A recent news report suggests that Ray McDonald, Willis’s one hundred and thirty-six kilogram teammate, is on the same philosophical page. Police arrested McDonald for, “inflicting injury on a spouse or cohabitant,” and charged him with felony domestic violence. According to the press accounts I read, the necessary unnecessary roughness left his pregnant fiancée battered and bruised.

How stupid can these football players be? (That was a rhetorical question I don’t want answered.) As a public service, I’ll provide simple guidelines even a professional athlete can understand.

If you’re wearing a helmet and standing on grass or ice in a sports forum, and happen upon a fellow sportsperson wearing a helmet that’s a different color than yours, then it’s permissible to inflict great bodily harm. If you’re not wearing a helmet, not standing on grass or ice, and happen upon a person who’s not a fellow sportsperson and/or is not wearing a helmet, e.g., the pregnant woman with whom you live, do not hurt her; don’t even smack her just a little. Just behave yourselves, yous knuckleheads!

And that concludes my smack talk for the season.

Stare.

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©2014 David Glenn Rinehart

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