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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

Last Weak  |  Index  |  Next Weak

Weak XXI

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21 May 2017

gratuitous image

No. 8,546 (cartoon)

Why are you so cruel?

If I have to explain it then it’s not funny.

22 May 2017

Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish

There’s no justifiable reason for taking even a modicum of pleasure in the death of another human being, but I never claimed that I was perfect. And so, good riddance to the late Theunis Botha.

Botha, who boasted that he, “perfected leopard and lion hunting safaris with hounds,” owned Game and Hounds Safari. Calling an open-air slaughterhouse “hunting” is akin to referring to scouring the oceans with factory ships using the latest sonar and three-kilometer-long nets “fishing.” Contemporary wildlife predators use all kinds of rather unsporting technologies including bait, traps, poison, night vision goggles, drones, et cetera to track down their vanishing prey. Once spotted, the wild animals can’t hide and rarely survive a fusillade of high-powered bullets from military assault rifles.

Botha’s operation added dogs to the mix. Why go trudging through what’s left of the jungle when the hounds will chase a shooting gallery of wild animals your way? Given the size of an elephant, it’s even easier than shooting fish in a barrel. And speaking of pachyderms, that brings us back to the nominal story.

Botha and his brave band of rich customers tracked down a herd of elephants. It couldn’t have been that difficult; they were breeding in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

Most improbably, the slaughter didn’t go as scripted. One of the elephants charged through the shower of bullets, grabbed Botha with her trunk, and lifted him in the air. That was the last thing she did, or perhaps the next to the last. No one will ever know if the mortally wounded elephant’s final act was intentional or accidental, but she landed on Botha and crushed him to a bloody pulp.

I fear his unlamented demise will mark the end of an era. In the future, I’m sure affluent “hunters” will annihilate their quarries with seventy-five-millimeter anti-aircraft guns mounted on air-conditioned armored vehicles. I wouldn’t be surprised if a technician in an office in Harare controlled the vehicles and guns.

23 May 2017

Listening to Dementia

Derek told me his father gave him some cryptic advice the day before he died: “If you can understand something, then you can hear it.”

“What do you suppose he meant by that?” I asked.

“I have no idea,” Derek replied. “And I’ll never know if it was him or his dementia talking.”

24 May 2017

Winding Me Up Fruitless

Isabella invited me to visit her studio to see if I could figure out why her computer was overheating for no apparent reason. I pride myself on being a very good friend, but I’m reticent to touch someone else’s computer since from that day on everything that goes wrong with it may be attributed to something I did or didn’t do.

As I was stammering to come up with an explanation why I couldn’t help, Isabella added that she’d ply me with cocktails until the problem was solved. That’s when I came to my senses and realized that I couldn’t let her down.

After half an hour of running every diagnostic and debugging program I had, I concluded that her computer was overheating for no apparent reason. That’s when I had to resort to the last resort, contacting the manufacturer’s “customer satisfaction center,” where I found myself exchanging text messages with Chet, an enthusiastic representative whose only qualification for the job was his ability to read a script. (An irrelevant aside: why is every man working in a support center in India named Chet?)

After fifteen minutes of wasting my time, I told Chet that none if his suggestions were at all relevant to the overheating problem. He was undeterred, and assured me that we were “making quite excellent progress.”

“Don’t worry,” he typed, “I’m not gonna exhaust you with this inquiry or wind you up fruitless.”

He wound me up fruitless.

I told Isabella that she should take her computer to Bernie’s shop in the morning, and started to pack it for her. That’s when I discovered the source of the problem: all the vents were clogged with cat hair.

“Oh dear,” she exclaimed, “I’m afraid Mrs. Pookums has been a very naughty pussy.”

She made us each another cocktail and we lived happily ever after until I left just before midnight.

25 May 2017

National Wine Day

Today is National Wine Day; huzzah! Every other day of the year is Local Wine Day, so National Wine Day is an auspicious holiday. Dahlia called and told me that she was coming by my studio later to celebrate the occasion with two or three glasses of wine.

That might sound like a stingy ration on such a felicitous day, but I know Dahlia defines “glass of wine” as a seven hundred and fifty-milliliter bottle with a cork in one end. But it won’t be there long on National Wine Day.

26 May 2017

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Quindici Salvapizza (1:100 Maquette)

Enrico threw a large party at his studio last Saturday featuring fifteen pizzas and cases of wine from his uncle’s estate near Vicenza. Some boorish, ungrateful guests complained about the food, but not me. The only thing better than fifteen pizzas is more than fifteen pizzas.

I collected all the plastic thingies that keep the lid of the cardboard pizza delivery box from sagging and becoming one with the melted cheese. I couldn’t think of anything to do with them, so after a few days I stacked them in order to store them in a compact space. I did and discovered my new sculpture as soon as I looked at what I’d mindlessly done. Again, chance and accidents were my friends.

But what title? And what are those three-legged doojies called anyway?

Jonah suggested the technical name, “package saver,” as described in US Patent 4,498,586: “A temperature resistant molded plastic device is described for use in boxes or packages such as pizza boxes where there is a tendency of large cover portions to sag downwardly to damage the soft pizza or other packaged products.”

Nah.

Abbie liked “pizza box spacer,” but I didn’t.

I finally asked Enrico; he declared matter-of-a-factly that it was a “salva pizza,” or pizza saver.

Ovviamente!

That’s how I arrived at the title, Quindici Salvapizza (1:100 Maquette).

In the unlikely event I ever fabricate the piece (aluminum? brass? iron? steel?), the top will be four meters in diameter. I wonder where I’ll find a pizza that large?

27 May 2017

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A Head Full of Snakes

The Golden Gate Bridge opened eighty years ago today. That’s boring, so let’s move on.

I’m afraid I have some bad news for ophidiophobes: snakes hunt in packs. Researchers from the University of Montenegro found disturbing evidence of this strategy in the village of Gjirokaster, Albania.

The wife of a local pensioner found his lifeless body in the potato patch. He had apparently died a horrific death: Transcaucasian Rat Snakes (Zamenis hohenackeri) were slithering in and out of every orifice, including his eye sockets.

Dr. Svetozar Sturanovic led a team of biologists who discovered that this wasn’t an isolated incident. The phenomenon of groups of predatory snakes tracking and killing mammals as large as a cow was well known in small villages throughout the Balkans. The researchers traced reports of these incidents all the way back to ancient times. Dr. Lavrentis Papaharalambous from the University of Athens proposed that such writhing swarms of snakes were the source of the legend of Medusa, and that Caravaggio used one of the victims as a model for his famous 1597 painting.

I love that story. I should; I just fabricated it.

I actually did read a report in Animal Behavior and Cognition that proved that some snakes do cooperate when hunting. But only in Cuba. And only in caves. And they only attack bats, not humans.

That’s as boring as an iconic bridge’s eightieth birthday.

Yawn.

Stare.

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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart

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