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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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26 March 2010

gratuitous image

No. 1,852 (cartoon)

You savor your depression.

It’s all I have.

27 March 2010

Shut Up and Write!

Samantha invited me to join her at a meeting of her writer’s group. That seemed kind of silly, since I think of writing as a solitary pursuit. Still, I do like to try new things on rare occasions, and this was one of them.

Her group had a name: Shut Up and Write! The gaggle of writers assembled for a simple purpose: to shut up and write. Simple, no?


I sat there and wrote for ten minutes, then kept writing despite the irrational urge to check the latest exchange rates for the euro. At fifteen minutes, I wondered what Rasputin’s first and middle names were. Since that query was unrelated to what I was writing, I abstained from that temptation as well. I kept resisting the siren calls of my other favorite time-wasting pursuits.

By the time I’d been writing for forty minutes, I kept glancing at the clock to see if I was done. I hadn’t had that feeling since I was a classroom prisoner. After what felt like a short eternity, an alarm rang, and one of the writers announced that we’d finished the first hour.

I decided to escape during the short break. I went to the bathroom, climbed out the window, and fled down an alley toward freedom and sloth.

I was surprised at how much writing I got done without my pleasant distractions, but that was the problem. Writing felt like work, not fun. Also, I have so little to say, that I really couldn’t write for more than a solid hour without running out of ideas.

28 March 2010

Timeless Russia

If you’re headed to the Russian regions of Chukotka, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Samara, or Udmurtia, you don’t have to worry about arriving on time: there’s none there. Dmitry Medvedev—Vladimir Putin’s poodle and notional president of Russia—eliminated those regions’ time zones today.

Medvedev reportedly dismissed reports that the peasants there were revolting against his autocratic decree.

“Peasants are always revolting,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, anyway. Of what use is time to a serf?”

29 March 2010

Another Detestable Dog Trick

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how dogs like to drown humans in icy waters. I need to update that public service warning by adding that crafty canine assassins don’t need ice to accomplish their lethal mission. I was reminded of their deadly deceit when I read a news report from a beach not far from me.

The story is a variation on the classic thin ice trick. Pooch swims into heavy ocean surf. Owner goes into water to rescue mongrel. Owner drowns. The newspaper story ended predictably: “The dog survived.”

I feel sorry for the dog’s victim; she should have had a cat. A grimalkin’s never drowned anyone, ever. I think.

30 March 2010

Small Bathroom Ideas

Joey and I were at an impasse on our latest project, until I returned from a bathroom break with an efficient—albeit not terribly elegant—solution.

“I always have my best ideas while urinating,” I explained.

“Ah,” Joey replied, “that would explain why they’re always so small.”

I never really thought about it before, but dang if he wasn’t right.

31 March 2010

gratuitous image

Sixty-Four Foil Eyes

Sixty-Four Foil Eyes was supposed to have been one of my simpler productions. Photograph sixty-four pieces of stale Halloween chocolates wrapped in foil with an eyeball motif; what could go wrong?

In a word, everything.

I photographed all sixty-four without realizing that the diaphragm in my lens wasn’t working properly. All I had to show for hours of meticulous work were lots of overexposed, blurry photographs. And so, I repeated the exercise, manually inspecting each exposure. (I never did figure out whether the problem was with my lens or my bellows.)

When I started to work with the images, I got an unpleasant reminder of one of my myriad technical shortcomings: I didn’t light the subjects well; they were all flat and muddy. That led me to some graphic chicanery, a favorite first resort of incompetent would-be artists everywhere. I posterized each of the photographs into five shades of grey to disguise(?) the fact that they were mediocre photographs.

In the unlikely event I ever print the work on paper, I’ll probably do so in an eight-by-eight grid to divert attention from the weak individual images.

1 April 2010

Another Saint Stupid’s Day Parade

I’ve been going to the Saint Stupid’s Day parade for at least the last eight years, but today’s was different. Or, more accurately, my perception of it was different.

The parade was the same as it’s been for years: the same characters, the same themes, the same route, the same everything. Just like the San Francisco Iditarod, the Saint Stupid’s Day parade has become almost completely predictable. Curiously, the lack of innovation seems completely appropriate. It’s stupid to repeat oneself, and today is a celebration of stupidity, so it all works!

2 April 2010

Bhut Jolokia Bombs Away!

Progress in military technology usually means more death and suffering, not to mention less support for more beneficial public spending. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to read a news report from Gauhati about the Indian army’s plan to weaponize the hottest chili in the world, the bhut jolokia (ghost chili).

If everything goes smoothly, Indian soldiers may soon use bhut jolokia gas in exploding canisters and hand grenades to disable their enemies.

“This is definitely going to be an effective nontoxic weapon because its pungent smell can choke terrorists and force them out of their hideouts,” claimed R. B. Srivastava, the director of the Defense Research and Development Organization’s Life Sciences Department.

I wonder if I can get my hands on one of these devices? It would be perfect for traveling through the world’s bland areas. One grenade would be just the thing to liven up a flavorless buffet in South Dakota or Newfoundland or Aberdeen.

Bhut jolokia bombs away!


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©2010 David Glenn Rinehart

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