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 Shit Detector

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29 January 1997
Shit Detector
I took Ernest Hemingway's advice that every artist should have a good shit detector. ("The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have it.") The one I designed and built worked OK; in fact, it worked too well: I got powerful readings everywhere I pointed it. Maybe I'll have better luck following Hemingway's example with guns.

30 January 1997
Many years ago I asked a friend if there was a story about the gold heart she wore around her neck.

She smiled, cocked her head slightly, and said "Actually, it's a reminder of the time I learned to hate."

"When I was about 12 or 13, I was swimming in a pool as my new stepmother watched. When I looked up after swimming awhile, I was furious: she was opening my locket. My locket."

"That's private, and you don't violate someone's privacy. It's just something you don't do."

"I got out of the pool, walked right up to her and snatched the locket from her hands. I was so indignant. I didn't even stop to dry off; that's how the photograph got fucked up."

I looked at the dark locket riding on her chest, and she looked quietly into the distance. I don't know if she was looking past me or through me. She was a woman who had learned how to shield her heart.

31 January 1997
Comatose Suit
l am looking at an old, puffy businessman; we're both waiting to catch a midnight flight. He looks totally exhausted, and I am tempted to make a photograph of him. But If I did, who would believe it? He looks like someone out of central casting, or the morgue. I hope he made a lot of money this trip.

1 February 1997
The Thermodynamics of Accomplishments
Harold J. Morowitz raised an interesting point in his book The Thermodynamics of Pizza:

Currently, the statement, "Mr. X is a great philosopher," will evoke the response, "What has he written?" In the classical period of China, the retort would have been, "what kind of life does he lead?"

I'm curiously uninterested in what kind of life Morowitz leads. I liked The Thermodynamics of Pizza, but wasn't quite ready for measuring my work with classical Chinese criteria. Morowitz wrote a good book, but what I have I done recently?

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2 February 1997
Cheating with Jalapeños
Mark uses latex gloves when he dices peppers.

That's cheating!

3 February 1997
Fun with David and Richard
I was on my way to visit Richard, who I hadn't seen in ten years, when I ran into David, who I also hadn't seen in ten years. It was good seeing them again.

Many of my friends think it's odd that I regularly make the effort to stay in touch with them and other old friends. It doesn't seem the slightest bit strange to me, though. If someone was once a friend, why would I not stay in contact? (It's true I don't always remember all my friends all the time, but fortunately I have a computer to serve as backup for my patchwork memory.)

I had fun with David and Richard: condensing a decade of picaresque adventures into a fifteen minute monologue gave me the momentary feeling I'm on the right path.

4 February 1997
Baited Breath
I was locked out of the cabin, the lock was frozen. I desperately wanted to brush my teeth, so I decided to destroy the lock. I squirted out a long length of toothpaste which immediately froze. Using my pocket knife, I chiseled serrated edges into the frozen length of toothpaste, which I then used to saw through the locked bolt. Despite my ingenuity, I was still unable to brush my teeth: when the toothpaste eventually thawed, it formed noxious greasy powdery slime.

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©1997 David Glenn Rinehart