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1 April 1996

Declaration of Extended Galactic Antics

"Whereas, April Fools Day is a joyous occasion and a glorious holiday, and,

"Whereas, the British custom of concluding all pranks before noon is repressive in the extreme and desecrates the holiday, and,

"Whereas, the Brits generally need to lighten up,

"Therefore, be it resolved that perpetually hereafter April Fools Day shall be celebrated for a 24 hour period throughout the entire galaxy."

So there. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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2 April 1996

No Thing

I spent most of the day as I've spent most of the past two weeks: trying to get a new computer with a new operating system to run new software. I have no thing to show for my dreary efforts except for sore wrists.

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3 April 1996

Smart People

I dropped a container of pesto when I was putting away the groceries. The jar bounced twice then sent the cafetiere shattering on the floor.

A smart person came to investigate and expostulated that breakable objects should not be placed near the edge of a counter. Where would I be without smart people?

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4 April 1996

Hero / Antihero

aircraft / antiaircraft
body / antibody
c / antic
christ / antichrist
climax / anticlimax
clockwise / anticlockwise
dote / antidote
establishment / antiestablishment
freeze / antifreeze
gravity / antigravity
hero / antihero
matter / antimatter
pasto / antipasto
personnel / antipersonnel
static / antistatic
thesis / antithesis
trust / antitrust
venom / antivenom

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5 April 1996

Visible Roots

What we call trees are really the roots of trees. We're all walking around upside down. Everybody's crazy.

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6 April 1996


Sabine writes to me in a strange code. It takes me an hour to decipher one of her letters, and even then I still can't understand a few words. Is that sequence of regular loops supposed to be "mushroom," "mesmerize," "meditation," or something completely different?

I think Sabine is a secret agent. She's smart and beautiful and enigmatic like all the spies in all the films. I think her lipstick tube is actually a combination camera/radio/stiletto; it may even have a cyanide capsule inside as well for those sticky situations.

I fear I may have inadvertently led Sabine to conclude that I too am a secret agent. Perhaps after a few glasses of red wine I added too many embellishments to my story about being captured by the Soviet Army and held prisoner in a Siberian army base. Why would she write in code if she didn't think I could speak spy?

Sabine's letters are nevertheless always a pleasure. It's just like Giorgio de Chirico said: "Et quid amabo misi quod ænigma est?"

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7 April 1996

Old Man Hamilton's Legacy

Neighborhood children gleefully keep alive a grim local legend. They assert with varying degrees of conviction that before old man Hamilton moved to Spretly he sealed the notorious little Jimmy Spring inside his house and left him to suffocate. (In fact, the Springs moved unannounced to Peghildens to elude bill collectors.)

I like the apocryphal tale; it keeps the little miscreants on their toes.

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8 April 1996

Birthday and Deathday

Today would have been Dad's seventy-sixth birthday, had he not died quietly during a nap on the 1991 winter solstice.

If I live as long as he did, I will die on 20 September 2027. Sometimes that seems unimaginably distant. (It is, after all, the next millennium.) On other days it seems like Monday after next.

For today, I look into an grey sky, imagine and remember. I miss my father.

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9 April 1996


It was a scene of horrid brutality, even for the seventeenth century France: during communion, Father M. attempted to rape Mrs. C., who was some eight months pregnant. Her pleas for help were ignored by the dumbstruck faithful as well as the insane Father M., who screamed hysterically that "the seed of God would triumph over the spawn of the devil." He did not stop his frenzied attack until Mrs. C. smashed his skull with a heavy silver chalice. For what seemed an eternity, Ms. C.'s quiet sobs were the only sound in the cathedral; Father M.'s blood mixed with the communion wine at the base of the alter. Then, one by one, the parishioners crept silently from the dark cathedral into the midday sun.

The nuns from the convent buried Father M. later that day; and the incident was never discussed until the Cardinal's inquisitors arrived several weeks later.

The cardinal's men interrogated the villagers to find Father M's murderer. When no one acknowledged seeing anything, the inquisitors interrogated the alter boy, who would have to have seen the murder. The inquisitors became angrier and angrier as the boy maintained he could not remember the events of that day because he had been lost in a religious trance. In frustration, the chief inquisitor ordered the boy to be taken away to be tortured.

No one ever spoke about the event until many decades later. Even today, the cemetery gardener maintains an opaque cloak of vines over the statue of Father M. that was toppled almost immediately after it was erected.

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10 April 1996

Explosive Device (Installation description)

The piece consists of a plinth1 concealing a timed or remote-controlled explosive device2; a business card (above) is held in a gold-plated "alligator" clip projecting from the center of the top of the plinth.

1. Size: 1.5 meters tall and .5 meters square.

2. A site-specific explosive will be installed; it may range in size from a device small enough to merely damage the plinth to one large enough to destroy the entire building.

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11 April 1996


I was surprised to find a dead pigeon in the street; it had apparently just been hit by a car. It seems that pigeons always manage to get out of the way of speeding cars at the very last moment. (Almost always.) Like human jaywalkers, pigeons always seem to exert the minimum amount of energy necessary to avoid getting hit.

You can't go wrong with images of dead animals, as most modern artists will attest.

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12 April 1996

Perfect Crimes

A friend of mine used to be part of a gang of eco-terrorists. He and his cohorts used to put timed destructive devices in backwoods buildings, structures they maintained shouldn't have been built in the first place.

Their technique was simple: they simply placed pine cones--or was it seedlings?--at structurally critical parts of the building. By the time the roots had damaged the building beyond repair, they already had made their escape some years earlier.

They were very clever; they never got caught.

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13 April 1996


I saw the first buds of spring today. (It's been a long cold winter.) This is a sad time, it means soon all the marvelous specter of grey plastic bags will be obscured by leaves. The leaves all look the same but no two bags are the same.

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14 April 1996

Night Patterns

Kathy likes to shatter glass just before dawn. She goes downtown and fires a pellet gun through the windows of businesses she dislikes. After a good morning's sleep, she goes back to survey the damage. She shouldn't do that sort of thing; I feel guilty admiring the cracks.

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15 April 1996

Vindaloo You

When you're in England, your best bet for spirited food is an Indian takeaway. The illustration on the carrying bag says everything you need to know: "Delicious Hot food Especially cooked for you!" In this case, the illustration is a bonus.

It's a good custom.

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16 April 1996

National Constipation Day

A multinational laxative manufacturing conglomerate has declared that today is National Constipation Day in England. It was a shrewd move; Brits seem constantly in a delicate balance of terror and awe of their bowels.

I'm sure this will is no special day to the breathtakingly incompetent government arts bureaucrats who are in the third month of processing my grant application. Every day is constipation day for inept apparatchiks.

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17 April 1996

Military Order

On the way home I saw a tank speeding through my neighborhood. For some reason I felt no safer.

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18 April 1996

Nazis Raus

The walls of this town are adorned with the work of a prolific graffitist. The graffiti doesn't seem to advocate any discernible political or social agenda ...

The handwriting is all the graffiti have in common. I can't tell whether the slogans are the work of a clever artist or a psychotic; that's always a fine distinction.

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19 April 1996

Spam Insights

I stop every time I walk by a local book store; its windows are filled with copies of Insight Guides Spam. A closer look at the poor typography reveals that the book is in fact the much more predictable Insight Guides Spain, but I never remember. The next day I again stop to look at a window full of Insight Guides Spam.

Bad design is always entertaining.

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20 April 1996

Fabled Fortunes

There are definite causal relationships between wealth and happiness as well as between wealth and unhappiness. The popular media has found it profitable to highlight the former relationship; it seems most people love to read how miserable the rich really are. Still, my affluent friends don't seem to be oppressed by their wealth.

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21 April 1996


The windows of Factory Direct Windows have been boarded up for as long as I can remember. The shoemaker's children go barefoot. I have no photographs of some of my closest friends. Clichés live.

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22 April 1996

Newcastle Ail

Newcastle upon Tyne (or is it Newcastle-upon-Tyne?) has changed a lot in recent years. Shipbuilding, coal mining, the steel industry and most of the fishing is gone.

The brewery, however, continues to pump out oceans of Newcastle Brown Ale. As the warning sign on the brewery entrance cautions, it corrodes metal and dissolves flesh. That's why my friends and I drink Newcastle Brown Ale straight from the glass. We're professionals.

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23 April 1996


Elbows are interesting but rarely seen. Or perhaps they're interesting because they're rarely seen--especially the ones with scars. I simply must depict more elbows.

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24 April 1996

Play Ball

Someone--or, more likely, some committee--has put up signs throughout the neighborhood admonishing the kids that there shall be "NO BALL GAMES." The kids, of course, ignore them.

A friend theorizes that the signs are there to make the children's play experiences more enjoyable. Since the slanted lots of pitted asphalt and broken paving stones is such a miserable place to play, at least the kids have the small pleasure of breaking silly rules.

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25 April 1996

Paving Aesthetics

Workers are busy preparing the infrastructure for cable television. I was impressed that one laborer took the time to sprinkle small pieces of lightly-colored stone on top of the fresh asphalt covering the trench. Since I don't think the embellishments increase the structural integrity of the filling, the little rocks must therefore be art.

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26 April 1996

A Time-Based Woman

I saw a picture of the "Woman of Today" drinking "The Wine of Yesterday" whose appearance was ostensibly enhanced with "The Hair Care Products of Tomorrow." She was definitely some woman.

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27 April 1996

Inflatable Cows

The Mad Cow Epidemic has, appropriately enough, reached epidemic proportions. The government has given English farmers military "adversary bags," huge thick plastic bags to be used for ten enemy bodies during "times of conflict" (or, "war," as it was previously known).

Each farmer used the bag for one infected cow carcass. Curiously, no one foresaw fundamental physical problems with the hastily-implemented disposal procedure. A decomposing cow's body generates a tremendous amount of gas. The inflated pile of bagged corpses I saw erupted into an explosive fire after it was struck by lightning.

My camera was inoperable when it happened; suffice to say it was a spectacular catastrophe.

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28 April 1996

Olde Englande Farming

You may thing that the English countryside is a tableau of cow dung, ruminant urine, and other such byproducts of contemporary British farming practices. If that's what you thought, you'd be right, but, more to the point, you'd be wrong.

There's nothing more relevant to the English landscape than a sheep's placenta. Can a leg of lamb not be soon to follow?

There'll always be an England.

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29 April 1996

Moonlight Something

I recently enjoyed a delightful dinner with an old friend. After we were all suitably sated, he brought out an old 78 record player. We listened to an ancient Glenn Miller recording of Moonlight Serenade. The music was delightfully scratchy and hissy, exactly as my father would have heard it during World War II.

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30 April 1996

Danger Food

A friend asked me if I knew the most common source of food poisoning. I guessed chicken, since it's rinsed in a fecal bath as part of the industrial meat processing ordeal. Anything that's been sautéed in shit has to be dangerous.


My mother had warned me never to eat commercially prepared tuna fish sandwiches and to beware of silverware that had been in contact with mayonnaise for an extended period.


I remembered that my mother never suffered from spoiled tuna or bad mayonnaise, but was taken away in an ambulance once after eating a tainted Easter egg.

None of the above.

A food safety expert told my friend that the most dangerous source of food poisoning was rice. Rice! Apparently the individual grains of rice provide a large high-protein surface area that nasty bacteria love. Rice? It all seems rather improbable, but since a specialist said it's true I suppose it must be.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart