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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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30 April 2021

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No. 4,852 (cartoon)

This is our thousandth cartoon!

That’s funny!

First time for everything!

1 May 2021

Dead Whales Can’t Swim

Here’s the headline in today’s Guardian née Manchester Guardian: Why do dead whales keep washing up in San Francisco? I’m not going to mention the author’s name, because I can’t believe Gabrielle Canon is as stupid as the question suggests.

Or maybe I’m being too presumptuous. After all, I’ve seen the giant meatballs of the sea cut up into cubes on a beach in Siberia, watched them repeatedly spoil otherwise tranquil seascapes off the coast of Oregon, and dined on them in Norway. (As I’ve said before, anyone who doesn’t like whales hasn’t tried them with wasabi and soy sauce.)

I humbly admit that I’m regarded as something of an authority when it comes to cetaceans, so I can give dozens of reasons why whales are ending up on Sans Frisco shores. Here are just three.

Dead whales can’t swim.

Dead whales float.

Whales are among the cleanest of marine mammals, but they don’t like to shower. Instead, they prefer to wash up on beaches.

Sydney Holt knew even more about whales than I do, but since he died a year and a half ago this will have to do for now.

2 May 2021

Do Snakes Have Ears?

Do snakes have ears?

Tara Santora answered that question in five hundred and ten words. I assume that’s because she’s a professional writer who gets paid by the word. In a moment, I shall provide an executive summary in five hundred and nine fewer words, but first, a disclaimer.

I realize that by weighing in on this matter of significant scientific importance one might conclude that I am a herpetologist, but that’s not true. As repeated lab tests have shown, I do not have herpes or any other sexually transmitted disease. Thank you for not asking.

Now that we have that straightened out, it’s on to the query du jour: Do snakes have ears?


3 May 2021

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Rain Man

Abbie loves to play in her sandbox. She insists it’s a garden, but after a long spell in New Mexico I know the difference between sand and soil: it’s a sandbox. I am nevertheless supportive of her quixotic efforts, though; we have an implicit pact. I don’t criticize her stupid endeavors (trying to grow plants in dry sand) and she doesn’t criticize me wasting what’s left of my life on creating things that almost no one else will ever see, read, or hear.

I visited her for lunch today and brought her a spoof that I passed off as a present: an AcuRite 00850A2 rain gauge. The joke, of course, is that it almost never rains here: there’s a reason this is a desert. Now here comes the good part ...

As soon as I planted the device—which was nothing more than a transparent plastic funnel—a dark, ominous cloud materialized overhead and almost eclipsed the sun. A few minutes later minacious curtains of rain shrouded the distant mountains, then the rain poured down on us.

Shazam! That wasn’t a rain gauge at all; it was a three-dollar cloud control device!

If one of these contraptions could bring rain, a million of them could end a drought. Let’s see; how much would that cost? I don’t like to brag, but I’m really good with numbers so I didn’t even need to turn on my computer to do the cipherin’. I did the math in my head: only three million dollars. Hell, I know people who have more than that in their petty cash drawer.

My discovery could change the course of history, so I’m putting the technology of my weather modification contrivance in the public domain. I have more pressing things to do than make the world a better place.

Epilogue: The total amount of rain wasn’t enough to register on the gadget’s crude scale. I’m not a meteorologist, so I’d describe it in lay terms as a tiny wee puddle.

4 May 2021

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A Bright Idea

Automobile manufacturers around the world are shutting down production lines because of a shortage of chips. New cars are so automated that each one requires some three thousand of ’em before it can even move a millimeter. That’s just ridiculous, in the negative sense.

For example, Enrico’s new car has seven anal gas sensors in every seat. The car monitors every flatulent emission then analyzes the data to suggest nearby restaurants featuring food favored by the driver and passengers. I’m not sure whether that’s even more absurd than the cameras mounted over the gas and brake pedals to alert the driver when it’s time for a shoeshine.

I haven’t owned a car in over thirty years, in part because one can’t buy a new car that’s half as good as my first one, a 1966 American Motors Corporation Rambler Ambassador.

Looking back, I can’t say with certainty how many chips my Ambassador had. It depended on the day: how many nachos, crisps, and fries had accumulated between the seats and on the floor since I last cleaned it. I do know that it had no chips in it when it left the factory; even the United Auto Workers have minimal standards of competence.

Meanwhile, back at today’s crisis ...

Have you heard about a global shortage of vacuum tubes? Neither have I; that’s because there ain’t one. The solution to the chip shortage is obvious: replace them with inexpensive, readily available vacuum tubes. Problem solved.

I can see it now: every low rider in Los Angeles illuminated by the golden glow of shimmering vacuum tubes. I must admit that I’m blushing as I write this run-on sentence, but damn, that sure was a bright idea, wasn’t it?

5 May 2021

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IFOs on Parade!

I was sitting around the fire under the stars with Dr. Gilbert on the back forty of his ranch quaffing and rambling about ... hold it; what’s that?! A parade of UFOs was slowly crossing the sky to the north as if they were on parade, or perhaps being towed like a cosmic train.

Sally said she’d seen UFOs over San Francisco a while back, so after watching the unreal procession for a few minutes I called her to compare notes. Her first question seemed like a non sequitur: when was the last time I was outside in the desert after dark?

She laughed when I told her that the most recent time was never; I’m not that flavor of crazy. There are all sorts of animal, vegetable, and mineral evildoers lurking out there that would bite, eat, poison, stab, and slice you open without a second thought, and in many cases not even a first one.

She said I was seeing Identified Flying Objects, the new telecommunications satellites orbiting the globe. She didn’t add, “y’durn fool,” but I could hear her thinking it.

Tarnation! What a dadburn disappointment! And yet another reason not to go outside, as if I needed one.

6 May 2021

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Dead Mule Gulch

Now that I’ve had my anti-cooties vaccinations it’s time to leave New Mexico. But first, I took a twenty-kilometer bike ride through the desert. After all, I’ll never see this much sand, dirt, and dust anywhere else I’m going. Cycling under a blazing sun is thirsty work, so first I sipped some bourbon before takeoff ... can’t be too careful when it comes to hydration.

I took a break at the obvious spot to make a predictably pretty postcard for my friends, Dead Mule Gulch. I stripped out all the redundant color. After all, even colorblind people know that the sky is blue. I left the saturated color of my orange bike, though; who could guess that there’s even one orange bike on the planet?


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©2021 David Glenn Rinehart

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