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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XXII

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28 May 2017

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No. 507 (cartoon)

Ygvzsht fgjemdf vskig lyfrpe.

That’s easy for you to say, isn’t it?

Vsypj drtihd zpeif!

29 May 2017

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Jerk

Byron and I went for a stroll in the Marin Headlands this afternoon. The toilet at the trailhead would have been free of graffiti had it not been for some jerk who wrote “Jerk” with an underlined flourish on one of the panels separating the urinals. It straddled the line between vandalism and conceptual art; I liked it.

30 May 2017

Cecelia’s Age Group

Cecelia is Cedric’s new love interest, and I can see why: she’s smart, attractive, and quite charming. Nevertheless, he seemed apologetic when he mentioned that she’s fifty years old; that’s rather than older than he is.

“Don’t you think it’s strange that I’m romantically involved with someone who’s fifty?” he asked.

“I think it’s surprising you’re with someone who’s much more mature than you,” I replied, “but I suppose that was the case with Antoinette too, and she wasn’t even half your age.”

I knew that Cedric would probably wince when I mentioned Antoinette, and he did. He should have; her last words were, “I’m sorry, but I’m done with old men.”

“I guess you’re right,” Cedric admitted, “Cecelia’s better than I deserve.”

“And anyway,” he added, “there’s nothing wrong with being fifty. Everyone in her age group is.”

I’d like to think that Cedric is maturing, but I rather doubt it.

31 May 2017

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The Perfect Leica

I love my Leica cameras. Like Harley-Davison motorcycles, they represent decades of tradition unhampered by progress.

That was not criticism. Unlike my Leicas, the excellent Nikon and Fuji cameras I use have literally dozens of electronic menu options, dials, knobs, levers, and switches. I have no idea what most of them do. After spending a couple of hours figuring how to control the focus, aperture, and shutter speed, I’ve reached the terminus of my learning curve and then it’s time to get to work.

Ogden Nash and James Thurber had the right idea: “Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.” (One of them said it before the other, and I’m too lazy to find out who.)

My problem with my Leicas is that I can’t use them in public. The lens I bought for a couple of hundred dollars forty years ago is now worth ten times as much. When I put that on the least expensive digital Leica body I could find I have five thousand dollars hanging around my neck. Doctors and lawyers wear a Wetzlar necklace to ostentatiously display their wealth, but when I go out with a lucrative target on my chest it just says, “rob me.”

But that was before I discovered the perfect Leica: it costs forty-nine dollars for a brand-new body and two lenses. It’s made of wood and can’t make photographs, but who cares: it has the red Leica red button on it.

I’ll wear the wooden Leica around my neck and keep the brass and titanium one in my pocket. I’m back in business!

1 June 2017

Nikon AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED

I have over a dozen Nikon lenses. I’d have more, except that I have every type I could ever want or need. Until today that is; I just read about the new, mellifluously-named Nikon AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Lens. A fisheye lens that zooms! I ain’t never had one of them!

I do have a fixed-focus fisheye lens that I’ve only used once to photograph Internet Archive Eruv (sketch). I don’t feel bad about that, though; no other lens would have worked. Still, I generally agree with Ken Rockwell’s take on the optics.

I’ve owned fisheye lenses since the 1970s. I’ve never found much to do with them creatively that says anything other than “look at me, I bought a fisheye lens.”

If I could only find a good reason to make a hundred and eighty-degree circular image ...

2 June 2017

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Seven Fields of San Francisco Nature Photography

Conrad asked me why I never made nature pictures, so I told him. I made beautiful landscapes and such when I was a teenager. I figured that since the f64 gang made such decidedly artistic nature photographs, then I should too. Of course, I was even more stupid then than I am now. It took me a few years to understand that since the f64 crowd made such decidedly artistic nature photographs that I should make my own work instead of copying theirs.

Conrad wasn’t satisfied with my explanation, and pointed out that there were many different fields of nature photography and it could be time to revisit them after spending the last few decades pursuing other aesthetic interests.

I accepted the challenge and put my Leica in my cycling backpack. I then photographed every field I came across in my travels. I stopped after the seventh when I got bored. I’m nevertheless pleased with Seven Fields of San Francisco Nature Photography; it’s a good reminder of how tedious such photographs are.

3 June 2017

Are You a Camera?

All of my female friends assure me that most men are shy and stupid when it comes to courtship, and usually not in that order. It’s no surprise that they would turn to artificial intelligence when the homegrown variety is rare; that accounts for the popularity of Janelle Shane’s recent project, char-rnn, a neural network that generates pickup lines men can use to befriend and seduce women. The results are what I would charitably describe as mixed.

My personal favorite is on the surreal side of the conceptual fence. “I have a cenver? Because I just stowe must your worms.” I doubt many women would find that beguiling, but at least it would make a unique impression.

Here are a few of the runner-ups.

Are you a camera? Because I want to see the most beautiful than you.

Hey baby, I’m swirked to gave ever to say it for drive.

I’m not on your wears, but I want to see your start.

You are so beautiful that you know what I mean.

You must be a tringle? Cause you’re the only thing here.

You’re so beautiful that you say a bat on me and baby.

And finally, by minimalist favorite: You look like a thing and I love you.

4 June 2017

Horrific Death by Violent Nausea Caps

It’s that time of year again when city folk get out of town to reconnect with nature. Sometimes the best of intentions result in the worst of consequences, as was the case recently when fourteen people from the area were poisoned after eating Death Cap mushrooms.

There’s poisoning and then there’s poisoning. Death Cap mushrooms, Amanita phalloide, are, as the name denotes, deadly. The victims didn’t get anything as benign as a headache or indigestion: three of them needed a liver transplant and an eighteen-month-old girl will suffer from neurological damage for the rest of her life.

I might understand ingesting the toxic fungus if it had a cute name like “Leprechaun’s Tophat” or “Joy of the Forest,” but there’s no stronger word than “death” when it comes to an unmistakable warning. Or is there? I suggest Horrific Death by Violent Nausea Caps, but that probably still wouldn’t dissuade someone from sampling the tasty treat. And if you don’t believe me, ask Charles Darwin.

Stare.

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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart

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