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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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Weak XV


9 April 2022

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No. 5,563 (cartoon)

Are you blackmailing me?

Blackmail is such an ugly word.

Can we agree on extortion?

10 April 2022

Goodbye Bangkok

I didn’t do an exhaustive search since that would have been, by definition, exhausting, but it appears that many of the world’s most famous cities have at least one thing in common, two-syllable names: Frisco, London, Madrid, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Phnom Penh, Tokyo, et cetera.

What about Bangkok? Well, if you’ve never been there it’s too late now. The Royal Society of Thailand declared that the official name of the capital city is now Krung Thep Maha Nakhon.

Six syllables?! Big mistake. To be fair, at least that’s a contraction of the real name, Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.

India’s Shiv Sena party apparatchiks knew what they were doing when in 1995 they renamed Bombay Mumbai, a reference to the goddess Mumbadevi. They were smart enough to keep it short, so when I was there a few years later it wasn’t much of a stretch to replace one six-letter, two-syllable name with another.

11 April 2022

Jerry Uelsmann

I just heard that Jerry Uelsmann died. Eighty-seven; not bad, not bad at all. I quite liked his work when I was a teenager; I still do. It’s held up well. Meticulously and seamlessly combining several negatives in the darkroom to create a single photograph foreshadowed today’s ubiquitous computer-generated imagery.

His technique wasn’t unique; any dedicated dilettante can mimic it. I’ve never appreciated his work for the craft; I remember it for the visual and visceral impact of the lovely, often surreal images he created.

Damn, that sounded awfully academic; just look at his prints.

12 April 2022

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Abrasive Swiss Security

I have a very close friend who’s so high up in the darkest and most powerful echelons of the government that I don’t even know her name, or if she even really has one. She tells me what’s really going on in the world.

She told me that Putin’s brutal attack on Ukraine is just the dress rehearsal for conquering Poland, Slovakia, Czechia, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Hungary, and Austria. You’ll note that Switzerland is not on that list; here’s why ...

Everyone over the age of fifteen in Switzerland carries a Swiss army knife. Everyone. Even a short little psychopathic tyrant with delusions of adequacy like Putin wouldn’t dare to invade the most heavily armed country on the continent.

I have one too, but it’s problematic in that it eventually wears a hole in my pants after years of rubbing against the denim.

Tattered jeans are a small price to pay for safety and security, but thanks to a little bit of mildly lucrative product placement I’m pleased to report that I now have a clip made by [company name withheld pending payment] that keeps my knife secured to the top of my pocket where it doesn’t abrade any fabric even on the longest of bike rides.

I was planning on extolling the virtues of the tool in question, but since I just found out Victorinox doesn’t pay for editorial mentions, I’m done for the day. As Samuel Johnson said, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”

13 April 2022

Boneless Burrito as Lunch and Metaphor

I was having an enjoyable morning with Dr. Wiles at his desert compound when his grandfather clock struck half-past peckish.

“I feel like a boneless burrito,” he announced.

“I can’t think of a better lunch,” I agreed.

“What are you on about? he asked.


Hilarity ensued. I was talking about grub, and he was describing his “existential ennui in a rusting world where nihilistic machines outnumber fresh vegetables and no one much cares” or some such self-indulgent cosmic debris.

I’m pleased to report that, as I suspected, there was nothing wrong with him that a stonking huge boneless burrito rich in jalapeños couldn’t remedy.

14 April 2022

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Keep a Clean Hole

Dr. Gilbert said he needed help at his ranch in Eldorado, so I hopped on my bike and headed on over. He greeted me with a shovel, and we commenced to digging.

I know for a natural fact that there’s gold in Eldorado, but that wasn’t his hole’s raison d’état. Dr. Gilbert was having problems with his septic tank, and he needed to either locate the outlet cover or spent twelve thousand dollars on a new septic field. We were excavating for a different, more odoriferous kind of treasure, as it were ...

We digged and we dugged until we hit a layer of cement. Except it wasn’t cement; Dr. Gilbert explained that it was caliche, a rock-hard layer of clay and calcium carbonate. In any case, I could barely scratch it with my pickaxe and shovel, so I graciously accepted defeat and went to get a beer.

Dr. Gilbert agreed it was time to call it an afternoon, but before we enjoyed a cold beer or several he said that we needed to “keep a clean hole,” so we scooped out all the loose sand and gravel.

Still, I learned something despite my disappointment. It wasn’t that owning a house was expensive and lots of work; I learned that a long time ago which is why I’m untethered by real estate. And I unlearned caliche as soon as I learned it; it’s probably not even a real word. Or, if it is, it’s probably Spanish slang for something like “petrified hernia.”

Nope, here’s the wisdom I gained today: keep a clean hole. It’s a metaphor for so many things, although I can’t think of one at the moment.

Epilogue: The following day Dr. Gilbert hired a strapping local lad who knew his ASCII from his elbow. His tools went through the solidified earth like a hot spoon through cold ceviche to reveal the golden brown portal of Eldorado. The End.

15 April 2022

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Brunswick Gutterball

I was walking down a long, sloping grade on Encantado Loop when I spotted a strange-looking black object partially buried in a ditch. It turned out to be a real Brunswick bowling ball! What a find!

The ball’s resin surface had discolored and cracked from the heat of the desert sun, and the plastic inserts in the finger holes looked like ossified cartilage. Brunswick Gutterball almost photographed itself; all I had to do was focus the camera and set the correct exposure; the model did all the rest.

Coming next weak: more of the same.


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©2022 David Glenn Rinehart

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