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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak VII


12 February 2017

gratuitous image

No. 2,688 (cartoon)

The story you wrote made me cry.

It was powerful, wasn’t it?

No, it was just retchworthy writing.

13 February 2017

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Anthropophagy Can Be Boring

Bill Schutt pulled off a remarkable feat: he managed to write a boring book about anthropophagy. (I admit that I never before heard of that big word before; it means, “the eating of human flesh by human beings.”)

Schutt begins with a brilliant title, Eat Me: A Natural and Unnatural History of Cannibalism, but then bogs down after that. Before I go on, I should note that I’ve never even seen let alone read Eat Me. I did skim Frances Larson’s review; that’s how I came by my unfounded opinions. (A real book review is much too much work; that’s why I stopped doing that at least a decade ago.)

The book maintains that the myriad grotesque stories about cannibalism are rarely based on verifiable evidence, so the author eschews great tales in favor of tedious facts. Most evidence (yawn) suggests that humans rarely dine on each other except in the most extreme circumstances in order to avoid starvation: trapped in mountain snow for months, the siege of Leningrad, that sort of thing.

The author also avoids the opportunity to amuse and entertain with stories about ingesting human breast milk and other bodily fluids by noting that such activities don’t qualify as cannibalism. What a missed opportunity!

I look forward to a book on cannibalism free of footnotes and slavish attention to facts and rich in heinous butchery, unspeakable gore, and monstrously gruesome details.

14 February 2017

Leslie Ray Charping

Leslie Ray Charping is gone, but, thanks to his “relieved” daughter, he’s not forgotten. She wrote a memorable obituary of her father who lived, “much longer than he deserved.”

In addition to his daughter and son, the miserable man was survived by, “countless other victims including an ex-wife, relatives, friends, neighbors, doctors, nurses, and random strangers.”

It just keeps getting better; here are a few of my favorite examples.

“Leslie’s life served no other obvious purpose, he did not contribute to society or serve his community and he possessed no redeeming qualities ...”

“Leslie’s hobbies included being abusive to his family, expediting trips to heaven for the beloved family pets, and fishing, which he was less skilled with than the previously mentioned.”

“Leslie was surprisingly intelligent, however he lacked ambition and motivation to do anything more than being reckless, wasteful, squandering the family savings and fantasizing about get rich quick schemes.”

“With Leslie’s passing he will be missed only for what he never did; being a loving husband, father, and good friend.”

Most people would like to know that they weren’t forgotten after their demise, but I suspect Leslie Ray Charping is not among them.

15 February 2017

The Perverted Heartless Habañero

I like to avoid using the word “perversion” since it’s so subjective and judgmental. I do, however, make an exception for people who’ve bollixed up something that’s served humanity well for millennia. I’m thinking of the perverts who concocted decaffeinated coffee, nonalcoholic beer, fatfree milk, gluten-free everything, et cetera.

I’m sad to report that Michael Mazourek has joined my personal Perverts Hall of Shame for biologically engineering the heartless habañero. (The news report I read described it as a “heatless [sic] habañero,” but that was obviously a typo.)

What kind of depraved people would geld a habañero by stripping out virtually all the capsaicin in order to add it to the already abundant bland food group? The folks at Ark Foods, that’s who. They also grow the eponymously named Shishito pepper, another heartless pepper.

What’s to be done? Nothing, absolutely nothing. The evildoers have triumphed once again. Neutered coffee, beer, milk, and now peppers aren’t going to go away since perverts will pay good money for heartless, insipid food and drink. I wish them all the best and hope they stay well: well away from me and my healthy diet including alcohol, caffeine, capsaicin, fat, gluten, and everything else that’s a welcome antidote to blandness and mediocrity.

16 February 2017

A Cautionary Rat Urine Tale

My mother used to warn me about all sorts of real and imagined dangers when I was a boy. Don’t go outside in winter with wet hair. Don’t go swimming on a full stomach. Don’t play in rat urine.

’twould appear she was right about the last one. Three people in the Bronx have been stricken—one fatally—with leptospirosis, a rare disease spread by rat urine.

Health officials have responded by tranquilizing rats and fitting them with tiny diapers, but that seems to be short-sighted since it puts the people who change and dispose of the wee nappies at risk. As for me, I’m not going to exacerbate the problem by buying a rat a drink. I will take my mother’s advice—first time for everything!—by generally refraining from playing in rat urine.

17 February 2017

A Fair Cop

Jerry’s daughter Megan, who works in academia, offered to demonstrate the plagiarism detection software she uses to check her students’ papers by analyzing my writing. I knew she was taunting me, but I took the bait.

I steal all the time, but pride myself on covering my tracks and wiping my sources’ fingerprints off what I (re)write. For example, I produced yesterday’s report on the dangers of rat urine after skimming the briefest of articles, citing a couple of their facts, then embellishing it with a few more interesting facts that I created.

I was aghast when Megan showed me the results of her search: the program had found me guilty of plagiarism. That’s a fair cop, guv’nor; it got me bang me to rights. Sure, I got caught red-handed stealing from Woody Allen and Yogi Berra, but who wouldn’t? (That’s known in my circles as the ever-popular, “everyone does it” defense.) I wasn’t shocked that I’d been snared, but I was appalled at one of the sources: myself. I was guilty of reusing my own work.

Copying oneself is unforgivable, and I don’t know what to do. I’m confused: should I work harder, or just do a better job of concealing my thievery? Such a tortured internal debate calls for a drink or three; at least myself and I can agree on that.

18 February 2017

Smarter Than Most People

There’s a reason that I can’t say that all of my friends are in despair over the current political situation in the United States, and that reason, er, person, is Suzette.

“I love these wretched cretins!” she explained. “Being governed by morons, imbeciles, idiots, and worse makes me feel like my IQ has increased by thirty or forty points.”

I’m not sure what to make of her position. I’m pretty sure that the would-be despots want to make the general public stooopider; why else would they be trying to eviscerate public education? In that context, Suzette seems like a successful insurgent.

Except she’s not.

If she were really smarter, she’d realize that she’s not really smarter. The triumph of the nincompoops with their bellicose bully leader in the bully pulpit gave Suzette the impression that’s she’s smarter than most people when she’s really only smarter than the shrieking, unimaginably vapid ignoramuses. Come to think of it, I suppose that actually does make her smarter than most people.

19 February 2017

Too Many Cameras

I attach no significance to dreams, so I’m not at all concerned that I’ve been having repeated nightmares that I’ve had all my cameras stolen. It happened again last night, but it wasn’t that bad of a dream when I realized I could make ninety-some percent of my photographs with the two lenses built into my cameraphone (phonycamera?). I found it rather liberating when all my cameras fit in a small pocket.

I was somewhat disappointed when I awoke to find all my cameras still here. Oh well, times are hard all over.


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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart