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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XIX


7 May 2020

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No. 5,285 (cartoon)

Are you bored or tired?

I’m yawning in terror.

How prescient!

8 May 2020

As You Might Expect

Annalee castigated me for all the cheap shots I’ve taken at The New York Times. I thought that was a very principled stand, but I love her anyway.

I’m unrepentant. I prefer fat, plodding targets; what right-thinking person wouldn’t? But just to show that I keep an open mind, I’ll take a break from my curmudgeonly grumpiness to praise the periodical. Here’s a two-sentence summary of an article published in today’s edition:

Locking down against the pandemic, South African officials banned cigarette and alcohol sales. It has gone as well as you might expect.

I suspect that most people don’t read the news to learn anything, but instead use it to bolster their beliefs, opinions, and prejudices. Telling the reader the report contains what they might expect is a tacit recognition that the piece contains no real news.

Well played!

9 May 2020

The Photographic Numbers Game

Three years ago I wrote about a camera that can capture five trillion frames per second. A year and a half later I noted that a newer model was twice that fast. And now there’s a more recent iteration that makes seventy trillion photographs a second.

I like spiffy technology as well as the next guy or gal, but too much is plenty. I was fine with five trillion exposures a second; I’m still editing the photographs from my first shoot.

Even at four quadrillion photos a minute, a crappy photographer is still going to miss the right shot and blame it on the camera.

The optimum number for me is ten thousand. I learned that from Henri Cartier-Bresson, who sagely noted, “Your first ten thousand photographs are your worst.”

10 May 2020

Happy Birth Control Day!

I normally avoid saccharine, artificial holidays like Mother’s Day, but my sole surviving parent doesn’t, alas, so I sent her a nice little note this morning.

I hope you didn’t send me a gift. Yes, it’s true that I made you the mother you are today. (I’m sure you remember; we were both there at the time.) Even though you couldn’t have done it without me, your love is all I could ever want.

Nhien told me they have a better idea in Viet Nam: Birth Control Day! I can’t understand why people don’t practice avoiding creating babies; practice makes perfect. The world doesn’t need another ersatz day of observance, but Birth Control Day is the holiday for me!

11 May 2020

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I’ve always liked Frank Zappa’s advice, “Make a friend of failure.” I was reminded of it yet again when I was working on Capital, the last piece in a series I began in February with Majestic. When I say “last piece,” that means “final” as well as “most recent.” I decided I didn’t like the idea after all, so it’s a series of one, which is no series at all.

I’m not terribly disappointed; the only way to avoid failure is to do nothing. I’m publishing Capital here because it’s just as important to remember what didn’t work as well as what did.

There’s only one problem related to Zappa’s advice: I can’t find a single Internetty reference to him ever saying that. I’m nevertheless sure he did say that and I just reported that assertion on the Internet, therefore it must be true.

(You’re welcome, Frank!)

12 May 2020

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Bonsai Coronarama Caribou

When you’re in Canada, speak like a Canadian, eh? The civil servants working for the Yukon Department of Health and Social Services know how important this is in getting their message across to the public.

Or maybe they don’t.

To help their fellow Yukoners conceptualize how to keep a safe distance from each other to avoid spreading the coronavirus, they created a simple illustration showing a man and a woman with a caribou standing between them. I asked Dr. Dingwall, my learned colleague and the only person I know who’s spent an appreciable amount of time in that particular, peculiar Canadian province, to decode it for me.

“It is the work of hosers,” she explained. “I think that they recycled safe sex clip art from over thirty years ago.”

First, the man in the photo is slender and wearing a suit or a dinner jacket. Such a man does not exist in the Yukon.

And then there’s the woman: she’s wearing a miniskirt and high-heeled gogo boots. Anne declared that she’s clearly from Halifax.

“You mean you never wore such an outfit up there?” I asked.

“I don’t think so,” she replied. “And if I did I would have had to have had so much to drink that I probably wouldn’t have remembered. It’s one of those catch sixty-nine things.”

And finally, there’s the diminutive caribou; that’s an oxymoron. Did someone bonsai the beast?

Perhaps we shouldn’t have scoffed; propaganda is propaganda, not reportage. So far there have been only eleven cases of the virus in the Yukon; it may be an effective public service message after all.

13 May 2020

My Tilapia Pond, Revisited

Kiliaen told me I was crazy for having a tilapia pond. He said they were “garbage fish” that lived off human corpses and toxic waste. I replied that I realized they’re deficient in mercury; that’s why I eat tuna and salmon as well to keep my creative edge.

Mmmm, yummy mercury ...

14 May 2020

Sid’s Little Problem

Sid told me he was faring well during Coronarama, “... except for a little congenital problem I’d prefer not to mention.”

Uh oh ...

I’m glad he stopped there. I’m rather polyglottish, and I’m pretty sure that “congenital” means “with genitals” in Italian or Spanish. Or maybe Portuguese. Whatever. If he’s got a congenital problem with small or any other related concerns, I do not want to know.


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©2020 David Glenn Rinehart

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