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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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15 October 2017

gratuitous image

No. 6,847 (cartoon)

There’s only one thing stopping me from killing myself.

What’s that?

I wish I could remember.

16 October 2017

Third Grade Biology

Carlos apologized for cutting our visit short; he explained that his partner just called and said that she couldn’t pick up their two boys from soccer practice.

“How old are they?” I asked.

“They’re eleven,” he replied.

“Are they twins?” I continued.

“I usually don’t like to answer a question with a question,” he responded, “but did you fail your third-grade biology class?”

That struck me as a strange thing to say; it must be one of those Zen questions. Why would he expect me to remember my grades as a boy; that was over half a century ago.

17 October 2017

Sole Survivor

Fish on my dish is my wish. I should hastily add that it can be problematical. Some fish contains enough mercury to fill a thermometer or two, other fish were caught by slaves, and that salmon over there just may be the reincarnation of Uncle Lawreston, although I don’t believe in any of that woo-woo malarkey. If I only consumed food that seven billion people agreed was perfectly acceptable I’d have to live on air. And even then, I wouldn’t be surprised if a Jain chastised me for inhaling microbes.

Perfectly cooked is, by definition, perfect. Raw fish is fine too if you don’t mind swallowing the odd parasite along with your sashimi. But I draw the line at eating live fish, especially after reading about an anonymous fisherman in Dorset, England. After catching a fourteen-centimeter Dover sole, he started clowning with his mates and put the fish near his mouth. The slippery fish (is that repetitiously redundant?) wiggled and waggled out of his hands, jumped in his mouth, then squirmed down his throat. Fresh fish is good, but this one was so fresh that it almost killed the man. He—the fisherman, not the fish—lost consciousness and stopped breathing for three minutes.

It took paramedics six attempts to pull the spiny fish out of the victim’s windpipe. The fisherman survived, but the sketchy reporting made no mention of what happened to the sole.

I shall continue with my practice of having dead fish on my plate and live fish in an aquarium. I’m not dead yet, so ’twould appear to be a winning formula.

18 October 2017

Life After Death

Dr. Sam Parnia announced that people retain consciousness for a few seconds after they’re technically dead, i.e., after the brain stops receiving fresh blood. The New York University researcher made a big whoop-de-do of the inconclusive results; how else will he get his next grant?

This is hardly news.

I’m thinking of Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier, who was executed in 1794 during la Terreur. The eminent scientist asked to be spared from the guillotine, but the “judge” was having none of it. “The Republic has no need of scientists or chemists,” he reportedly said. Off with his head!

For his final experiment, Lavoisier asked a colleague to study his face after his head dropped into the basket after the executioner lopped his head off. He said he’d blink as long as he could retain consciousness. Sure enough, he blinked for twenty or thirty seconds. There’s a reason the details are a little vague: the story is almost certainly apocryphal.

We don’t need a dead eighteenth century French scientist to confirm Parnia’s hypothesis; it’s worthless. It’s empirically evident that a lack of blood pumping through the brain doesn’t indicate certain death. If it did; paramedics would take cardiac arrest victims to the morgue instead of the hospital, where they may or may not be revived.

I’ll be two billion seconds old on 22 May 2019. I’m not sure another thirty seconds would add much to my life, but it would certainly be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see my severed head in the mirror, say “I loved all of you,” and have a look at the cross-section of my neck if I have time.

19 October 2017

Good Career Move

Herbert can’t understand why he just lost his wretched job at an advertising agency.

“I can’t believe I got fired!” he protested. “I was always in the office before everyone else and was the last to leave. I never took a lunch break and worked most nights and weekends, too.”

“It’s no wonder they canned you,” I replied. “You demonstrated extreme inefficiency, horrible time management, and made your coworkers look bad. No one likes a martyr.”

“It’s not fair,” he grumbled.

“Look on the bright side,” I insisted. “If you like being self-unemployed half as much as I do, I think you’ll agree this is a good career move.”

20 October 2017

The Cunning Nude Empress

Wilma and Vivian are at it again.

“Looks like the emperor has no clothes,” Wilma smirked.

“I’m flattered that you think that would be a good look for me,” Vivian replied. “I do like the idea of walking around nude.”

What a brilliant reply! By turning Wilma’s insult into a compliment and avoiding the argument she wanted, she angered her even more by being nice.

Vivian feigned innocence; well played indeed!

21 October 2017

The Bourbon Diet

Thia was a bedraggled mess when she showed up at my studio this afternoon.

“Looks like you were rode hard and put away wet,” I opined. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” she replied, “it’s just that I’m on a new diet.”

“What kind of diet is that?” I asked.

“It’s the bourbon diet,” she replied.

“That can’t possibly work,” I responded.

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she insisted. “I’ve already lost four days this month!”

I shrugged my shoulders. Can’t argue with success ...


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©2017 David Glenn Rinehart

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