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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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26 November 2010

gratuitous image

No. 405 (cartoon)

You stole my future.

You weren’t going to do anything with it.

27 November 2010

Hidden Degrees

Gomez is a smart guy, but there’s no evidence of his two doctorate degrees anywhere in his office.

“Why didn’t you frame your diplomas?” I asked.

“They just remind of every wretched exam I had to take,” he explained.

That makes sense. And anyway, Gomez is smart enough that he doesn’t need to convince anyone, let alone with his papers.

28 November 2010

Leslie Nielsen, Finished

Leslie Nielsen died today. He will rightly be remembered as a fine actor, but I shall remember him for nothing. Or, specifically his observation on the subject.

“Doing nothing is very hard to do; you never know when you’re finished.”

And now Leslie Nielsen knows, surely.

29 November 2010

Fifty Black and White States

I couldn’t resist doing another conceptual piece this month, so I didn’t. Resist, that is.

This silly piece is based on two definitions of the word state: “the particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time,” and “a nation or territory considered as an organized political community under one government.” Silly redux.

I digitally stretched each rectangular flag into a square, the great equalizer. I then converted the colors to greys, posterized the images, then converted them to either ninety-percent black or ninety-percent white.

After that, I added the inane captions, lifted from government publications. That’s all I needed to do to complete Fifty Black and White States.

I wouldn’t bother reading all the text; it’s tedious even for conceptual art. There are, nevertheless, a few interesting bits. The Kansas flag features the motto, “To the Stars Through Difficulties.” The Oregon flag is the only one with different images on both sides. And the people who designed the Tennessee flag came up with a curious justification for their tedious design. “The final blue strip relieves the sameness of the crimson field and prevents the flag from showing too much crimson when it is limp.”

Too much crimson when it is limp? Those crazy hillbillies!

30 November 2010

Mark Twain at One Hundred and Seventy-Five

Mark Twain was born one hundred and seventy-five years ago today. It’s been a good year for him; the first edition of his autobiography has just been released. In a brilliant marketing move, Twain’s will forbid publication of the work until a century after the his death.

Twain wasn’t hampered by modesty when penning his introduction.

“I intend that this autobiography shall become a model for all future autobiographies when it is published, after my death, and I also intend that it shall be read and admired a good many centuries because of its form and method—a form and method whereby the past and the present are constantly brought face to face, resulting in contrasts which newly fire up the interest all along, like contact of flint with steel. Moreover, this autobiography of mine does not select from my life its showy episodes, but deals mainly in the common experiences which go to make up the life of the average human being, because these episodes are of a sort which he is familiar with in his own life, and in which he sees his own life reflected and set down in print. The usual, conventional autobiographer seems to particularly hunt out those occasions in his career when he came into contact with celebrated persons, whereas his contacts with the uncelebrated were just as interesting to him, and would be to his reader, and were vastly more numerous than his collisions with the famous.”

I like Twain’s work. I haven’t read in over a third of a century and probably never will again. One of life’s little mysteries, or ironies, or something. I bet Twain had something witty and incisive to say about this situation; too bad I’ll never get around to reading it.

1 December 2010

The Cheeseburger Question

Carlos is back from his trip and is, by his own description, “rather on the stinky side.”

“That’s why Hitler was a vegetarian,” I said. “He thought eating meat made him smell.”

“You mean maybe cheeseburgers could have prevented the second world war?” Carlos asked.

“I doubt it,” I replied, “but getting into art school might have.”

Hitler tried to get into the Vienna Academy twice, and failed twice. Had the administraitors admitted him, he might of spent his life making mediocre drawings and paintings instead of war. Art schools aren’t always entirely worthless.

2 December 2010

Belochka Warning

One day the Russians are concocting vodka pills, the next day they’re urging people to drink more, and now they’ve enlisted the help of a mangy, hallucinating squirrel to urge people to drink less.

In Russia, someone who has had so much to drink that s/he suffers from delirium tremens is known as a belochka, or little squirrel. Said unpleasant little varmint was chosen to deliver the message in a cautionary public service advertisement. The deranged beast rambles on, chases imaginary spiders up the walls, suggests killing the wife of a neighbor, then asks, “Are you a very heavy drinker? Then I’m coming around to your place.”

I’ve quaffed quarts of vodka with Russians. In Russia, even. (It was the Soviet Union then, but a prison by any other name would still smell as sweet.) I can’t see a satanic, rabid rodent ever coming between such dedicated Russian alcoholics and their succor. If the unfortunate creature did, I imagine it would soon end up as a greasy snack.

(Anyone who says they don’t like fried squirrel hasn’t tried that oily delicacy after a liter or two of tepid vodka under a cold Moscow sun.)


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©2010 David Glenn Rinehart

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