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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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10 September 2016

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No. 868 (cartoon)

I’m at death’s door.

May I open it for you?

11 September 2016

Not a Very Good Writer

I’m not a very good writer. I know this is true, since I know good writing when I see it, and that’s not what I see when I look at my own words. Here’s what good writing looks like, excerpted from an article by Philip Bump that recently appeared in The Washington Post.

The way the promotional structure of the United States military works is not complicated. ... The short version is that it’s the culmination of a flawless decades-long career within one branch that rides heavily on personal and professional chance. The long version is longer than that.


If I had to explain the labyrinthine path to becoming a five-star general, I probably would have rambled on and on, as I’m wont to do, instead of simply explaining that the longer version is, in fact, longer.

I’m not a very good writer, and that’s fine with me. Writing good takes a lot of work, and that’s not my style.

12 September 2016

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Zip Line (sketch)

There are two ways to get on the stage of the Internet Archive’s Really Really Great Room, and “practice, practice, practice” isn’t one of them. No, one can walk out from a door behind the stage or climb up a few stairs with one’s derrière facing the audience. (That’s an unforgivable offense to a Nauruan, so I suppose it’s a good thing that there aren’t many visitors from Nauru in Sans Francisco.)

There had to be a better way, and I found it. I thought it would be nothing less than magnificent for a presenter to soar over the audience and land on the stage. (Facing the house, but of course.) I made an artist’s sketch (English translation: prototype) of how that might look.

I stretched a monofilament nylon line from high above the stage to the west wall of the Really Really Great Room. It’s not sturdy to enough to support the weight of an adult, but it can easily carry a hundred megabytes of data, so that’s what I did. I fashioned an attachment for an Iomega Zip disk that allowed it to glide smoothly from the far end of the room directly to the stage.

And that’s how Zip Line (sketch) came to be, and still is.

13 September 2016

A Directionless Burrito

Wilma’s most recent romantic relationship just ended like most of the other ones: abruptly, messily, and painfully. She asked me to come over to her studio and commiserate. That was her polite way—she’s from Georgia—of asking me to empty a bottle of gin with her. A depressed person shouldn’t be near a full bottle of gin, so I agreed to be a supportive friend.

“His bitter farewell sticks in my heart like the burrito I had for lunch,” she explained, “like a burrito that doesn’t know which way to go.”

That may have been the gin talking, but I’m pretty sure that was what was on Wilma’s mind. That’s the way she thinks when she gets around to it. I’m not complaining, though. At least she didn’t draw any analogies with mole sauce or refried beans, neither of which pair well with gin.

14 September 2016

Diversity, Eh?

Apple, Incorporated, spent more than the annual gross domestic product of Liechtenstein to promote the company’s new phony thing a week ago. A string of company representatives breathlessly extolled the device’s virtues and explained how anyone using it would lose weight, have great sex, and be the envy of everyone who didn’t own the latest iGizmo.

A journalist watching the presentations noticed something funny that really wasn’t funny at all: all the Apple employees on stage at a press event were people of noncolor, i.e., white. Men spoke almost ninety-three percent of the time. The reporter opined that this was a fine example of Silicon Valley diversity: not so much at the top of the food chain.

An Apple public relations flack responded by pointing out an omission in the journalist’s story: one of the Apple men was a Canadian.

I stopped following the story after that, so I don’t know whether or not the journalist apologized for the oversight.

15 September 2016

Rifle Redundancy

Vivian told me that Americans own some two hundred and sixty-five million firearms. She couldn’t tell me whether that total included bang sticks, bazookas, flamethrowers, et cetera.

“What’s the point of quoting fudgy statistics?” I asked.

“The point,” she responded, “is that that’s more than one gun for every adult, and three percent of the population own half of them. That means seventeen pistols and rifles per gun nut!”

I chided her for replacing one dodgy statistic with another. Vivian obviously knows little about real life, so I asked her what she’d do if she was attacked by a bevy of grizzly bears and her gun jammed. It happens all the time, so it’s only prudent to have a dozen assault rifles on hand when either you and the all of the bears will have to die. Darwin and all that.

She just shook her head without saying a thing. I wasn’t surprised, that’s usually the last thing one does before an Ursus arctos horribilis turns her or him into scat.

16 September 2016

La Dolce Vita

More than ten percent of the residents of Acciaroli live for over a hundred years. Scientists from the San Diego School of Medicine, who know a juicy junket when they see one, decided to go to the Italian village to investigate. Along with their colleagues from Sapienza University in Rome, they identified the probable cause: sex, and lots of it.

“Sexual activity among the elderly appears to be rampant,” reported Alan S. Maisel, a cardiologist on the team.

There’s probably more to the study than that, but I stopped reading once I found what I wanted to hear. I have no desire to live to see my hundredth birthday, but it’s only prudent to take preventative steps to avoid a premature death in case I later change my mind.

17 September 2016

Flea Scratch Fever!

When I think about Cat Scratch Fever I think about Maggie. Her breast cancer was misdiagnosed as Cat Scratch Fever; she died before her thirtieth birthday. I’m glad that I may not hear about Cat Scratch Fever again; it’s apparently now called Cat Scratch Disease.

Dr. Christina Nelson, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently authored a study of the malady. She reported that cats spread it. That made me sit up and take notice; it sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.

Or maybe she doesn’t.

I wasn’t surprised to read that pussies aren’t really the problem. Instead, the disease is spread by the feces of parasitic fleas that are abusing the poor kitties as unwilling hosts. If I weren’t so busy working at nothing all day, I’d organize a campaign to change the name of the affliction to Flea Scratch Fever.

In any case, the report assures readers that the disease can be avoided with a little bit of common sense.

“Letting [cats] lick you if you have any scrapes, scabs, or open wounds isn’t a good idea,” Nelson advised.

Who can disagree with such wisdom? Anyone who keeps grimalkins around to lick their open, running sores is probably better off dead.


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©2016 David Glenn Rinehart

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