gratuitous image
1 December 1996

Holiday Spirits

Yesterday I received a Christmas mailing from "your perfect hosts" at Liquorsave. It featured a variety of alcoholic beverages (including the "Superbooze wine of the year") as well as sugary and salty snacks. On a dark winter afternoon even this parody of holiday excesses has a certain appeal.

I know in a few weeks that I'll be a zombie after days of eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, drinking too much, doing the dishes, eating too much, then drinking too much again. Tonight, though, pastries and whisky sounds like a great dinner.

gratuitous image
2 December 1996

The Polish Scottish Widow

I met the Scottish Widow in the park today. She's actually not a widow at all, nor is she Scottish. "The Scottish Widow" is a young Polish model used by the Scottish Widows insurance company. Like most of the models I've met, she wasn't that attractive; she seemed rather chunky and ill-formed.

As it turns out, she's suffering from the side effects of an unsuccessful medical experiment. In order to achieve the currently popular "pillow lips" look, she had haggis extracts injected into her lower lip "and certain other places." (I didn't ask.) She said the haggis extracts had "certain unpleasant side effects." (Again, I didn't ask.) She said the experiment was worth it; she attributed her lucrative contract to the Scots' inscrutable attraction to haggis.

gratuitous image
3 December 1996

Cold Light

The first light doesn't come through the small dirty attic window until after noon.

The light slaps against the grey wall and slides down to the floor in barely perceptible ripples. Once the light--which accumulates in small coagulated globs--reaches the floor, it creeps along the sloping baseboard until it reaches the lowest corner of the loft. After a few hours enough has accumulated to fill a shallow bowl.

Late in the afternoon I use a hypodermic needle to transfer the light into the bowl. I then place the bowl in the center of the otherwise empty room. When I touch a match to the bowl of light, it burns with a grey wavering flame that fills the room with darkness.

gratuitous image
4 December 1996

Meretricious Contraption

I was disappointed in the quality of the exhibits at the annual Inventor's Exposition. To cite just one example, someone was demonstrating a "Baby Watch" contraption. It seemed like a good marketing idea to appeal to parents' paranoia that their kids would be stolen by slavers or mad scientists or some other deranged person. Unfortunately for the inventors, though, it obviously didn't work: someone had already stolen the kid by the time I got there and the alarm hadn't even sounded.

gratuitous image
5 December 1996

Hardware Store Art

For years I've wanted to present an exhibition of sculpture from a hardware store.The perfection of a key ring and the elegance of a paper clip are almost never appreciated.

gratuitous image
6 December 1996

Fields of Desire

I've never been able to play soccer very well. When I was younger I only played because I was attracted to one of the girls at school who liked to play. I was too distracted by admiring her to pay attention to the ball. Now that I'm older, I'm too distracted by the way the goals line to pay attention to the ball.

It's no wonder professional soccer players have to be paid huge sums of money, why else would they pay attention to the ball instead of their more passionate desires?

gratuitous image
7 December 1996

Gluttonous Cod Proportions

The Waterford Arms menu features fish and chips dinners in three sizes: "small, medium, and large." In practice, this translates to "bigger than the plate, bigger than your head, and bigger than your thigh."

I believe William Somerset Maugham's experience at the Waterford Arms was the the source of one of his most famous observations: "I have not been afraid of excess: excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit."

I have yet to have my first revelation at The Waterford Arms, but I'm not bothered: the fish and chips are excellent.

gratuitous image
8 December 1996

Unstable Lads

I was walking down a country lane when I saw a small building designated "Stable Lads Accommodation." I told my companion that I doubted the structure could house many people.

"It doesn't have to," she replied. "Most of the chaps from 'round these parts are unstable."

gratuitous image
9 December 1996

A Competent Undocumented Fraud

I read that David Williams was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to "one count of unauthorized practice of a profession." It all started after the TWA 747 blew--was blown?--out of the sky near New York. (They don't call it The Worst Airline for nothing.) Williams donned an army uniform and strolled into the crash site command center and proceeded to help coordinate helicopter flights for 12 hours. It took that long for the people there to agree that no one there knew who he was or why he was there. They all agreed Williams had done a splendid job--which is more than can be said of the New Delhi folks--but nevertheless ordered him out of the building. And then the ungrateful bureaucrats reported him to The Authorities, who sent him to the slammer for half a year.

In the past Williams had successfully diagnosed patients for a private medical care provider and even given well regarded seminars to physicians even though he's not a bona fide doctor. I imagine Williams scares a lot of people who don't know as much as he does even though they have diplomas and certificates stating otherwise.

I admire Williams' chutzpah, but his case alarms me. What if someone asks me for my credentials as an artist? I bet I'd be convicted as a fraud after the prosecutor told the jury that "the defendant dropped out of art school after less than two months, speaks with open contempt about most respected professionals in his field, and even boasts about his complete lack of certification!" (That's not exactly true, but I know from unfortunate past experience that prosecutors rarely let the truth stand in the way of a conviction.) And if any members of the jury were still undecided, I'm sure Dr. Thomas Bonk's digitally enhanced photograph of me allegedly smoking a cigar would convince them that I was an unrepentant impostor.

gratuitous image
10 December 1996

Improbable Domestic Accident

I set my coffee cup on the edge of the bathtub then forgot about it. A minute later I turned around and knocked it over. Instead of landing on the floor, however, it landed in the tub where the spill was easily washed down the drain.

That was the most statistically unlikely event of the year, as improbable as dropping an open peanut butter sandwich and having it land with the peanut butter side face up.

gratuitous image
11 December 1996

I'm Not In Right Now

When I'm out walking around town or visiting friends I like to call my answering machine and leave short messages. This inexpensive practice is a source of great comfort and satisfaction.

When I get back it's nice to hear "I'm fine, I hope everything's well with you too" or "make yourself at home; feel free to help yourself to all the beer in the refrigerator." I find these messages both comforting and reassuring.

These brief missives are also somewhat mysterious, even though I'm the person who left them. For example, after "I like your new project" the answering machine intones in its soulless machine voice that the message was left "Saturday, five forty-three." I know this is almost impossible. I'm sure I left the message within the last couple days, and I'm rarely awake after five or before six in the morning. The misleading dates and times are attributable to my inability to set the time on the answering machine. I did it once, but after the power went out once I never bothered to do it again.

I wonder how people without answering machines get by?

gratuitous image
12 December 1996

Unsatisfactory Impersonation

A huge new piece by Edward Kienholz has just gone on exhibit here. The huge construction, 280 sq. ft. of downtown, Rexburg, ID, is mounted in a billboard near the football stadium.

Of course, a new piece by Edward Kienholz is an oxymoron since the artist died a couple of years ago. (I believe he was buried sitting in the driver's seat of his favorite car with a bottle of very good wine in the glove compartment--a damn good idea if you ask me.) 280 sq. ft. of downtown, Rexburg, ID is the product of a multinational tobacco company's advertising agency.

I couldn't figure out why I disliked 280 sq. ft. of downtown, Rexburg, ID until I remembered one of David Bailey's observations.

"Photography isn't art. Nor is painting. Nor is anything. It's whether the person doing it is an artist or not. I mean, if you see a picture of an old man, you say it's a picture of an old man. And then if someone says that's Stravinsky, then it isn't just an old man anymore. You think of it as a photograph of Stravinsky. And then if someone says that it is a Richard Avedon picture of Stravinsky, you say Ahhhhhhh."
And when they say Marlboro I get sick.

gratuitous image
13 December 1996

The Truth About Yellyfish

Jellyfish are the result of international semantic misunderstanding. In 1702, Lars Weløe, the eminent Norwegian biologist, gave an address to the British Academy of the Natural Sciences in which he described the "yellyfish." Weløe said yellyfish and he meant yellyfish, but the Academy reporter misunderstood, misinterpreting Weløe's Nordic accent.

And that's where jellyfish came from. Having been stung by one while swimming off Hawaii, I agree with Weløe: they're yellyfish.

gratuitous image
14 December 1996

As Handsome as Baron Romero

Nothing happened when I drank a bottle of Baron Romero, a cheap Spanish wine. As I drank a second, bottle, though, I began to become more handsome. By the end of the second bottle, I was as handsome as the baron himself. I won't like the way I'll look in the morning, but the moment it's delightful to be at one with the baron.

gratuitous image
15 December 1996

Your Best Entertainment Value

I listened to an Interview with Ian Dury in which he admitted he stole the melody for his song Sex and Drugs and Rock & Roll from a bass solo on an old jazz record. He later confessed to the bassist what he'd done, but the other musician wasn't upset: he'd stolen his solo from an old Cajun folk tune.

gratuitous image
16 December 1996

Know Who You're Eating

There's nothing like a wall of denuded turkeys to herald the onslaught of the year-end holidays. A local butcher leaves the heads on the birds "so you know who you're eating." Since he sells his stock of gallinaceous birds by weight, his real motive is of course to make more money. Still, it's a nice thought. And, as with everything else associated with the season, it's the thought that counts.

gratuitous image
17 December 1996


Government scientists have released a report suggesting that pigs' hearts be used in humans. As with most of these reports, ethics were not addressed, thus avoiding the moral debates associated with animal husbandry. I doubt most of the government bureaucrats thought much about pigs, who by all accounts are quite remarkable animals. I suspect they viewed the pigs as greedy unscrupulous creatures, which may have had a subliminal appeal to the politicians who are always trying to convert voters to their ideology.

gratuitous image
18 December 1996


The natives here act more irrational than usual during the freezing winter months. The colder the weather, the fewer clothes they wear. In practice, this means I can accurately guess the temperature by noting the lengths of women's skirts. If it's relatively warm the women wear long skirts, but when they're wearing mini-micro-skirts I know it's painfully cold outside. On days like that it's safest not to venture out.

gratuitous image
19 December 1996

Leonardo da Vinci's Vision

"Creatures shall be see on the earth who will always be fighting one another, with the greatest losses and frequent deaths on either side. There will be no bounds to their malice; by their strong limbs the vast forests of the world shall be laid low; and when they are filled with food they shall gratify their desires by dealing out death, affliction, labor, terror, and banishment to every living thing; and from their boundless pride they will desire to rise toward heaven, but the excessive weight of their limbs will hold them down. Nothing shall remain on the earth or under the earth or in the waters that shall not be pursued, disturbed, or spoiled, and that which is in one country removed into another. And their bodies shall be made the tomb and the means of transit of all living bodies they have slain."

Leonardo da Vinci: what an hombre.

gratuitous image
20 December 1996

Idea Grin Interrupting Something

first own the wont tried while cake was shouted will cartwheels sudden children cakes up sigh dancing just shriek large saucepan went supple my forgotten hard and day hours prize thing take its nonsense matter ridiculous of sobbing mean oh on queerest one children into large animals her hungry found arm the grief foot the words difficulty rabbit people and little dead must things as them growing agree through two tasted languid be golden hatter gryphon follow difficulty wonder there water the ugly said lobster the riper queen be queen of hole fear gloves the to perhaps rabbit was here caterpillar uneasily tried from beginning to the ill the absurd said without them the direction roots what its tree itself replied suddenly graceful it was flamingo sneeze curious wonderful begin did hold vanished in name to gryphon king not fallen offended had forty-two down adventures pretending wings march at tone some the finger toes without thimble cat back breath fond expecting idea grin interrupting something caterpillar she a happens busily of could as fear found animals wasting gravy stolen pity well once will at the any chorus into their that's going the ground remember air voice fish waited enormous before moment uncommon caterpillar eagerly the asking its easy mouse was share might silence educations afterwards in the soup be alice five more of kept other eyes

gratuitous image
21 December 1996

Art from Money

Since contemporary art's frequently about money, I thought it would be a good idea to make an unambiguous piece by making paper out of real money. Ritsuko Taho had a similar idea, but without my mercenary intent. I saw her work in a museum, where visitors were encouraged to combine shredded bank notes, soil and grass seed into a ball. The participants were then requested to write about money on a slip of paper and put the paper into the middle of the ball.

I think Taho missed the ball (so to speak), or maybe it's just one of those ideas that doesn't translate so well from east to west. It seems the whole point of making art from money is to appeal to people's greed. I didn't make a grass ball, but I did take some shredded bank notes.

gratuitous image
22 December 1996

Technical Difficulties

The grim reaper came for my digital camera today. It--the camera, that is--has captured its last pixel for the foreseeable future. In this case, "the foreseeable future" is the remainder of 1996. It is with great reluctance that I am forced to supplement my scans with the Incredible Image Pak [sic] library of 65,000 "instant images" I confiscated from Mr. Allen Spanger a couple months ago.

My reliance on imagery is becoming increasingly problematic, a problem I shall have to address when redesigning this notebook for the coming year.

gratuitous image
23 December 1996

Santa Died for Your Sins

Anne reported that when she was in Japan years ago found a store selling icons of Santa Claus nailed to a cross. According to local legend, the first Santa-on-a-cross was made years ago by a confused Japanese designer. I suspect it was actually a very clever business move: they've been selling well ever since the "mistake" was first marketed.

The only mystery about Santa-on-a-cross is why they've never been exported. I think they'd be very popular over here.

gratuitous image
24 December 1996

The Most Wretched Holiday

Oh dear, another Christmas with its absurd customs. I feel obligated to send gifts to my friends and relatives who haven't needed or wanted any material things in years. Similarly, I must graciously accept--and appear grateful--for the various doodads and baubles I'm given. I have a devoutly religious Christian friend with a large family who quite enjoys the seasonal rituals, but for the rest of us, well, bah humbug. Arf, even.

A few years ago I found the ideal Christmas gift: it can be transmitted over the phone, on a postcard, or as an email message, yet it ends up as a physical object of infinitely variable dimensions. If you'd like a present from me, here's what to do ...

Step One
Get a hammer, chisel, tire iron or similar tool.
Step Two
Find a crumbling concrete structure; any building site, parking lot, or curb will do.
Step Three
Knock off a piece of concrete. Choose a piece that's exactly the size of the gift you want from me.
Step Four
Place the piece of concrete in a suitable display: mount it on a piece of varnished hardwood, put it in a glass display case, et cetera.
Step Five
Title it "A Piece of the Berlin Wall." If anyone questions its authenticity, I'll be happy to attest that I really was on both sides of the Berlin Wall in 1989; I have the passport stamps to prove it.
You may enhance the gift by giving it a colorful history. For example, if there's a bit of paint on the concrete you may say it's part of a famous mural. Or if it's a very tiny piece, you can say it's a piece of the wall that splintered off when East German guards fired automatic weapons at a young girl trying to escape. (Whether or not she made it, lived or died, are all variables you can use to embellish the tale.)
And that's my gift to you. Merry humbug. Arf.

gratuitous image
25 December 1996

A Bad Taste in the Mouth

I always drink a lot on Christmas, and when I do I think of Ambrose Bierce.
"The day is associated with the barbarous custom of present-giving, present-taking and present-expecting; the solemn family dinners, hollow civilities and meaningless salutations; with the deception of children and downright lying; with mawkish editorials in the newspapers, warmed over from last year; with mental distraction relieved with flashes of physical prostration. Christmas, as observed in this country, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and as a relaxation is not noticeably superior to a shuddering drunk. I have experimented with both, and I prefer the drunk."
Bah humbug.

gratuitous image
26 December 1996

Boing Day

It's Boing Day. There's no such thing as "Boing Day" of course, it's really "Bo[ecks]ing Day" but the "ecks" key--the one that comes after w and before y in the alphabet--is broken. It happened when I was boing with my rowdy nephews. (It's called boing day for a reason.) This broken keyboard is easperating, but at least it's the perfect ecuse to resume boing with the boys.

gratuitous image
27 December 1996

Tangling with Twinkie

I've always liked Twinkie ever since I met her as a little kitten. She never grew very large, but she compensates for her diminutive size with amazing speed and agility. We played with a piece of tinsel I dragged around the room. I thought I was keeping it a safe distance from her until I felt a claw glide through my hand. I never figured out how she did it; by the end of the games I had seven cuts on my hands, Twinkie's best score to date. I never bled on the carpet; a good time was had by all.

gratuitous image
28 December 1996

Dazza for King

I've decided to run for King of England. I figure I'll take Liz and her boy Chuck by surprise since no one's challenged the current incumbents for decades, maybe centuries. I'm not sure; I've got a lot of research to do. That's OK; the election's not until 2006.

For my opening salvo, I've issued three campaign decrees:

Campaign Decree No. 1
Everyone in England shall automatically become a member of the royal family.
Campaign Decree No. 2
King Dazza means good entertainment value: I'll hire the best actors, models and entertainers to represent me at all official functions.
Campaign Decree No. 3
Everyone in England shall receive free beer or tea.
It's not going to be easy. A lot of people I've talked with don't want to be members of the royal family. And a lot of women I've surveyed don't think the model I've chosen to represent me on my initial campaign material is very handsome. (That's not a big problem, since anyone looks better than doleful Chuck.) The good news is that so far "free beer or tea" has one hundred percent voter approval.

Vote for Dazza! Dazza for King!

gratuitous image
29 December 1996


I like eating ramen out of a bowl I bought at an Asian grocery store. The imported bowl's country of origin isn't labeled as Japan, China, Korea, or even India, but simply as "FOREIGN." It's an elegantly brief adjective that provides all the information xenophiles and xenophobes alike need to know.

gratuitous image
30 December 1996

So It Went

This is my three hundred and sixty-fifth notebook entry of the year. I thought this would be the last one for the year, but I failed to take into account that 1996 is a leap year. So it goes.

Samuel Butler said "God was satisfied with his own work, and that is fatal." I'm pleased with this project, but far from fatally satisfied. Not only am I afraid of resting on my laurels (if I had any), but I'm also careful to avoid the trap of equating my worth as a human and artist with the quantity amd quality of my recent output.

Although I'm generally happy with this notebook, I'm aware that it has two fundamental problems. First, it was intended to serve as a basis for "serious" work. I could elaborate on quite a few of the ideas I've come up with, but haven't had the time to do much more than keep up with the daily notebook entries.

And then there's the problem of quantity. This notebook isn't really three hundred and sixty-five separate pieces, it's one work comprised of three hundred and sixty-five parts. Over forty thousand words with no plot is too much for almost anyone to read, even me. (That explains all the typographical errors I've no doubt missed.)

I need to do something different in 1997, and I'm sure I'll come up with an idea. I'm not worried; after all, I have the rest of the year to think about it.

gratuitous image
31 December 1996

Perfect Attendance

Last new year's eve I decided to work on this notebook project daily for the entire year. And I did. So this new year's eve I'll have a few drinks (they're almost obligatory on the occasion, no?), wear a messy smile and my Perfect Attendance ribbon, and think of something different to do for 1997.

last month | index | next month
©1996 David Glenn Rinehart