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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak I


1 January 2021

No. 3,275 (cartoon)

You’re unspeakably vile and cruel.

Don’t mention it.

2 January 2021

Remembering the Perihelion

A couple of weeks ago I made some photographs of the weird thing outside—please don’t ask—that were unsatisfactory. I did a reshoot this early morning at exactly the same time: half an hour after the sun rose on a perfectly clear morning. I was pleased with the results until I discovered that they were slightly overexposed.

I’m fairly fastidious when it comes to photographic technique, but I know my ceiling. There’s no one in my orbit more fastidiouser than Molly, so I sent her the digital files with all the related data and asked her why the photos were a fraction of an f-stop too light.

“Did you factor in planetary considerations?” she asked.

“You betcha!” I replied. “I took into account that the equinox was eleven days ago.”

“How ’bout the perihelion?” she continued.

The perihelion! Of course! I was so embarrassed to have made such a rookie mistake. Everyone knows that the earth was closest to the sun just before dawn this morning. Of course it was brighter then!

How could I have been so stupid?!

That was of course a rhetorical question. If I replied thoughtfully, I’d still be typing here next new year’s eve.

3 January 2021

Calendar Considerations

Polly was whinging we’re already five dozen hours into 2021 and everything’s the same. She’s smart, so I don’t understand why she expects something different from the same Gregorian we’ve been using since 1592. Except for the odd leap second or leap day, it’s predictably boring.

If she wants a gradual change, it’s currently 2012 using the Ethiopian calendar, so there’s still a chance to relive 2017 and avoid repeating The Incident About Which We Do Not Talk.

There’s always the Chinese calendar as well as its various permutations in Korea, Vietnam, and, of course, the Ryukyu Islands. She can start the year again on 12 February if she chooses.

And speaking lunar calculations, she can also step up to the calendar buffet and ponder the Islamic, Jewish, and Persian calendars if she’s willing to risk options paralysis.

For a radical change, she needs to go to Bali, conceptually speaking. The Balinese Pawukon calendar features years that are two-hundred-and-ten days long, divided into six thirty-five-day months; that’ll keep her on her toes.

She won’t ask for my advice, but that’s not going to stop me from subjecting her to it. All this calendar nonsense is just that. The only unit of time that matters is the present; nothing else exists.

4 January 2021

1925 Revisited

Ever wanted to riff on Fats Waller’s Anybody Here Want To Try My Cabbage? Well, now that it’s 2021—one of those years no one asked for—you can riff until you raff with legal impunity. Want to edit, rewrite, or just plain ol’ plagiarize Franz Kafka’s The Trial? Go right ahead; he won’t mind and neither will anyone else. I recollect that one is supposed to provide examples in sets of three, but I’ve generally avoided doing what I’m supposed to do my entire life and I ain’t a-gonna start now.

Where I was going with all this, and where I’ve arrived, sort of, is 1925. Those works were copyrighted in the United States in 1925, and everything from then is now in the public domain.

It’s simple, no?


Tom Lehrer posted a notice on his Internet site granting anyone permission to do anything with any of his songs, adding, “There is no legal way to unilaterally transfer a song into the public domain ...” Kinda puts a new spin on, “Can’t give it away.”

Since I have a Premium Platinum Premiere Artistic License with the real zircon trim, I thought all I needed to do to put one of my creations—such as the increasingly-popular Quarantini—in the public domain was to make a written declaration to that effect. Nope, apparently that’s not possible.

I respect my learned friends who tirelessly advocate both artistic freedom and protecting one’s creations, but to me these niceties matter not a whit. W.C. Fields knew what I would one day think when he proclaimed, “A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for.”

5 January 2021

Sexistpigdog Nouveau

As far as I can figure, the author Karl Ove Knausgaard is mainly known for the volume—some four-thousand pages—of one of his earlier works, My Struggle. (Maybe it’s a coincidence that he chose the same name as Adolph Hitler did for his book, but since one should never ever compare anyone to Hitler under any circumstances, I won’t.) Notoriety begets notoriety, so I’ve seen several headlines about his latest work, In the Land of the Cyclops: Essays.

I decided to see what all the hubbub was about, and didn’t get far before discovering Dwight Garner’s delightfully snarky review of My Struggle in the New York Times, “There are few books I will more avidly not read again.”

As for the most recent work, I got as far as reading about his apparent disgust with Francesca Woodman’s “female hideousness.” The photographer, who committed suicide when she was twenty-two, had a “pudgy” torso and a “hairy crotch.” Quel scandale!

That’s when I decided I wasn’t going to spend another minute thinking about a narcissistic, entitled, and misogynistic sexistpigdog.

I appreciate that virtually all of the artists, musicians, and writers whose work I appreciate and admire are imperfect and sometimes deeply flawed human beings; that’s life. But I draw the line between cretins like Alfred Hitchcock who’s been dead for forty years and nouveau male chauvinists like Knausgaard who are very much alive and offending.

Hold it; why and am ranting about the litterary world? That’s in a different universe, and heading back to mine right now.

6 January 2021

A Day Without Wine Is Like ...

I always thought Internet contests were scams until Melanie showed up at my place with a case of wine as a new year’s gift. Before I could show my appreciation, she thanked me for taking it off her hands, and explained that her garage was completely full after a delivery truck dropped off a hundred and forty-four cases of wine. She won them in an online essay contest sponsored by the Oenophile Appreciation Society of the Americas.

The competition was simple; each contestant had to fill in the blank following the words, “A day without wine is like ...”

The obvious response is to complete the simile, e.g., “A day without wine is like flossing with barbed wire.” Melanie took an entirely different approach: instead of finishing the sentence, she answered with a statement: “How would I know?”

She moaned that she had no idea how she’ll even make enough space to work at her tool bench that’s buried under cases of wine. I assured her that I would be delighted to help her solve her problem expeditiously; that’s what friends are forl

This just may be a good year after all!

7 January 2021

April Fool’s Baby

Ever since I learned subtraction, and that the human gestation period is nine months, I’ve been lovingly teasing my friends who were born in late August or late September that they were probably conceived on Thanksgiving or Christmas, respectively. It’s almost guaranteed to elicit a wince—and sometimes even a grimace—when they imagine their parents having sex. (See? You just did!)

Today’s my birthday, so I decided to try it on myself for the first time. Instead of using nine months, I used a more accurate measurement, two hundred and eighty days. The result: 2 April.

I’m going to assume a bit of biological wiggle room, as is appropriate when talking about spermatozoa, and declare that I was conceived on April Fool’s Day.

Done! I’m an April Fool’s Baby!

(I’m not going to ask my mother to confirm or deny this; why risk ruining a great story with alleged facts?)

8 January 2021

Fucking Roads, Austria

I have a folder buried in my computer labeled, “Work in progress.” (I should call it “Purgatory,” but that’s Stega’s domain, figuratively and literally.) Some of the ideas in there are notes I made over thirty years ago. Given the rate of progress to date, it’s anyone’s guess whether they’ll be completed before the sun explodes in a few billion years.

One of the foundations of the space-time continuum is that nothing happens without a deadline. When I learned a few weeks ago that the town of Fucking, Austria, would soon be renamed Fugging, I realized that I didn’t have long to digitally reprocess satellite images of the local roads.

I’m finally done with Fucking Roads, Austria; it was fun while it lasted!


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©2021 David Glenn Rinehart