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 One Hundred and Eighty-Four Lines Generated Randomly Within Certain Subjectively Chosen Parameters Resulting In Five Empty Diagonal Corridors

P E R I O D  V  1 9 9 8

7 April 1998
One Hundred and Eighty-Four Lines Generated Randomly Within Certain Subjectively Chosen Parameters Resulting In Five Empty Diagonal Corridors
One Hundred and Eighty-Four Lines Generated Randomly Within Certain Subjectively Chosen Parameters Resulting In Five Empty Diagonal Corridors is yet another tediously boring formal work. I just can't stop myself.

(This piece is also available in the PDF format; that TLA (three letter acronym) and others are explained in the technical notes.)

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8 April 1998
Amsterdam Urinals
There are urinals, and then there are urinals, and then there are urinals, and then there are urinals, and then there are urinals, and then there are urinals, and then there are urinals, and then there are urinals, and then there are the urinals at the Amsterdam airport.

Some of the urinals at the Amsterdam airport have an image of a fly silkscreened (?) on the porcelain. Very nice.

9 April 1998
Kinky Love Motions
I was in San Francisco for only a few hours when I got a call from someone at KLM Airlines. I thought I must have left something on the jet, but it turned out to be a sales call: "My name is Eva, and I'm calling to invite you to join KLM's Flying Dutchman program."

She went on babbling until I interrupted her pleasant corporate drone to ask what KLM meant. She replied with an annoying giggle, "Why, Kinky Love Motions, of course."

Of course.

I don't think I'm going to join the Kinky Love Motions Flying Dutchman program soon; I haven't been in San Francisco long enough to even think about anything that athletic.

10 April 1998
Sonya was surprised when I referred to The Bellicose Forest as tedious. That's because I once called it interesting. But now I'm uncalling it interesting.

11 April 1998
Rule Changes
Ever since I was in my thirties I've made it a practice never to drink alcohol during the first two weeks of every quarter. It's a curious habit that's proved to be a worthwhile experiment. Recently, though, I've decided to amend the rules.

From now on I will never drink alcohol within ten kilometers of Earth during the first two weeks of every quarter except on religious occasions. I don't have to explain why; it's my game. But I'm bored so I will.

Morrie and Lynn invited me to their seder tonight, which will of course involve drinking wine. And I've decided if I ever go into orbit I'll certainly enjoy some low-gravity whisky, even if it's during the first two weeks of the quarter.

That's all there is to it.

12 April 1998
Chinese Potatoes
I just heard there are potatoes in China; I just heard there are lots and lots of potatoes in China. This strikes me as strange. I've never seen any part of a potato in a Chinese restaurant, so I figured that the humble tuber didn't have much of a following in China. I once again figured wrong.

I learned that potatoes are considered peasant food, and, as a result they're almost never offered to guests. It sounds like offering someone potatoes is a social faux pas on the order of giving someone an American Budweiser weasel water beverage when they were hoping for a real beer. I can't believe there isn't a Chinese restaurant that doesn't serve "Authentic Hunan Potatoes" for twenty dollars a plate; I bet that would be very popular with Americans.

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13 April 1998
Guess Boys
The Guess boys advertisements on buses have the model's chest aligned with a couple of semispherical projections from the back of the vehicle. Boys with breasts: marketing breakthrough or graphic design failure?

14 April 1998
It's a Job
Eugene maintains three small ponds of ciphering sturgeons to generate the necessary coding algorithms. It's a job, I suppose.

15 April 1998
Jesus Noise
A friend told me that Marconi believed that the resonance of sound waves never died away; he spent lots of time trying to hear Christ's Sermon on the Mount. It just goes to show that everyone has time to waste.

16 April 1998
I have a new word, and the word is logorrhea. (Actually, the word has been around for about a century, but it's nevertheless new to me.) My dictionary defines logorrhea as "pathologically incoherent, repetitious speech" and/or "incessant or compulsive talkativeness; wearisome volubility."

Logorrheic: that's me!

17 April 1998
Hellacious Strategies
I met a demon at a party, it was a good chance to learn more about hell. I asked him if eternity in hell was the worst that could happen to me.

"Eternity in hell is about our most charitable option," the demon explained. "We let the people we really want to torture escape periodically; it's worth all the paperwork to see how crushed they are when they're sent back to the very same hell from which they thought they'd escaped."

I have to admit that hell sounds like quite a well run organization.

18 April 1998
More Representative Than Best
The author of The Prison Experience told me he didn't use his best photographs in the book, he instead chose the most representative.

"There's a difference" he explained.

I'm not sure if I believe in putting truth before art and ego, I've always been more enamored of the latter.

19 April 1998
Labeling Efficiency
I asked Seth why he kept all his computer and camera catalogs in a file marked "Masturbatory Aids." He said it was because he found accurately labeled possessions increased his efficiency.

20 April 1998
Explaining Obituaries to Myself
I heard that Octavio Paz died at age 84. I know almost nothing about the writer except that I liked his belief that he wrote to explain things to himself, not to others.

One thing that struck me as curious was that his age of death was included in the obituary. An obituary always has the age of the deceased on it, but it's exactly that ubiquity that prevented me from ever noticing it before. How many physical years one lived seems largely irrelevant; some people live more in thirty years than others do in ninety. I believe the real reason lifespans are an unquestioned component of an obituary is because of the undeniable entertainment value.

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21 April 1998
Mozzarella Hair
Some music store manager decided to promote a singer by placing a huge photographic cutout of her in the window. The art of the silhouette is a difficult one, though, one not mastered by the person who trimmed the photograph. The singer's flowing locks look like Mozzarella cheese dripping out of her nose, yet another triumph of art over reality.

22 April 1998
Hollywood Secrets
A couple of friends paid a lot of money to go to a reception ostensibly hosted by four famous Hollywood movie stars. The actors and actresses walked in, smiled for the cameras, then retired to a room by themselves to do whatever famous Hollywood movie stars do when they're alone. Cocaine? Group sex? Group cocaine sex?

Famous Hollywood movie stars are hard to fathom, even if you waste a lot of money to be in the same room with them.

23 April 1998
Not Good Nasty
A couple of months ago a friend told me she was receiving unwanted amorous overtures from a new coworker, so I called her today for an update. She reported that things had gotten nasty, then added a clarification: "And I don't mean good nasty either."

24 April 1998
Creative Dementia
Dr. Bruce Miller, from the University of California at Los Angeles, conducted a study that suggests that a rare form of dementia--one that causes the loss of many brain functions--may also improve one's artistic abilities. Miller began to study creativity in dementia patients when a patient's son told him that his father's paintings were getting better as the disease became more severe.

I can't believe scientists get paid to verify a priori knowledge.

25 April 1998
Violent Acts of Consciousness Have Only Begun
I wonder how brothers Geoffrey and Aaron Kuffner are doing? The last I heard, they were arrested in New Orleans in June, charged with terrorism.

The Brothers Kuffner scared the hell out of people by sending local government and news media offices the four-page manifesto Violent Acts of Consciousness Have Only Begun. Their diatribe was an attempt to call attention to popular ignorance of poetry and suggest positive solutions, such as having all state inaugural speeches written in iambic pentameter.

I don't think Aaron and Geoffrey Kuffner got much sympathy. Who could argue with locking up poets?

26 April 1998
A Lost Sale
A friend told me this notebook just cost him a lot of money. He was designing an Internet site to show a potential client and put a reference to my notebook in it--temporarily--until he could design the particular component that was supposed to go there. That was a big mistake; he then forgot to replace my work with his work.

At the formal presentation, the client was accidentally sent to my site and was appalled by my work; he called it "coarse, vulgar, and offensive."

I can't imagine that some shit-for-brains corporate twit was too fucked up to recognize contemporary aesthetic values when he saw them.

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27 April 1998
Real Mexicans
Now someone is advertising real Mexicans. I saw a band of them on a platform at the corner of Howard Street and Second Street. I run into so many real Mexicans every day I can't imagine why they're advertising.

28 April 1998
Saving the Whales in Absentia
Once a year I usually go to the International Whaling Commission, ostensibly to save the whales. (I don't really get all that worked up about whales, or any other megafauna for that matter. On the other hand, you show me someone who doesn't like whales and I'll show you someone who hasn't tried them with soy sauce and wasabe.)

I don't go to the International Whaling Commission to behold the sad spectacle of self-important whalers and even more self-important environmentalists presenting their case to pasty government bureaucrats with expensive haircuts, although that can be amusing at times. I go to the International Whaling Commission to be somewhere I've never been before. You see, the IWC meets in a different place every year; this year it's in Oman.

But I'm not going to Oman, and that brings up the other reason I go to the International Whaling Commission: the parties! There are the regional drinks at the local pubs or bars, the fancy government and embassy receptions with good champagne--plus barrels and troughs of tasty hors d'oeuvres, the hotel bars, and then there's my temporary office where the people who hire me keep yet another bar.

And that's why I'm not going to the International Whaling Commission meeting in Oman: there are no pubs or bars there, just the odd bottle of Scotch smuggled in by Westerners. And so it was that tonight I saved the whales, in advance, over North Beach pizza and Anchor Steam beer. As a result, I will remain embarrassingly ignorant of Arab cultures and besotted with mine.

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29 April 1998
Tonight I'm having a green dinner: fresh asparagus and Rainier Ale. The asparagus is from the farmers' market, and was ostensibly picked yesterday. The Rainier Ale is from the Rainier Brewing Company and is so full of chemicals, preservatives and additives it doesn't really matter when it was made. What's interesting is that two dollars worth of asparagus and two dollars worth of Rainier Ale are roughly the same volume, shape, weight, and, of course, color. It's a pleasing dinner any way you look at it.

30 April 1998
No Fiends of Mine
I thought I was working on an exciting project with an organization called the Fiends of Photography, but then everything went terribly horribly wrong. It turns out the organization was really called the Friends of Photography, which wasn't any fun at all.


1 May 1998
Wrong Number, Can Opener
I was telling a cat the story of Ken Charles Barger, the North Carolina man who accidentally killed himself with his handgun. The telephone beside his bed rang, but the unfortunate Mr. Barger grabbed his Smith & Wesson .38 Special and put the pistol to his ear.


The end.

"You can openers are hilarious!" said the Maine Coon.

"Can openers?"

"From what I can see, that's about all you humans are good for," said the cat.

2 May 1998
A Silly Spectacle
Oliver Peoples is (are?) running an advertisement featuring a photograph of Bernie Taupin modeling "Elton John Limited Edition Spectacles III." The trendy glasses look just like all the other trendy glasses around these days. What really makes the ad exceptional is the quote under the photograph: "Enhance the eye for it is the camera of the poet."

When I first read it, I thought is was an imbecilic line from a copywriter on bad drugs. After rereading it, I still think it's an imbecilic line from a copywriter on bad drugs, but I also think it's great advertising. Anyone stupid enough to think "Enhance the eye for it is the camera of the poet" is pretty deep and insightful stuff is probably also stupid enough to pay much too much for glasses vaguely associated the sad pop musician who, as Keith Richards so uncharitably put it, has made a career of "writing songs for dead blondes."

3 May 1998
The Gravity of the Chief Executive Officer
I visited the chief executive officer of a large corporation in her office on the top floor of the company's skyscraper. When I asked her why her office was on the eighteenth floor, she gave a surprising answer:



"We only employ brilliant people, although some are admittedly more brilliant than others. I am frankly the most brilliant person here, which is why I am CEO. One of my duties is to share my brilliance with the people who are literally my underlings. The junior executives on the seventeenth floor are quite brilliant in their own right, so my wisdom need only trickle down to be absorbed. We keep our least brilliant people in the maintenance department, loading dock, security detail, mail room, et cetera on the first and second floors. By the time my brilliance has reached the bottom of the tower, gravity has accelerated it to such a degree that it gets through the thick head of even our least brilliant employee."

I asked her what affect her brilliance had on other people on the eighteenth floor.

"In your case, very little."

These CEOs really are quite smart; I now understand why they get paid a lot.

4 May 1998
Tiny Little Cans of Apple Juice
Joe likes apple juice in tiny little cans. That's why he just bought twenty-four and three-quarter quarts of apple juice in one hundred and forty-four tiny little cans.

"Why don't you buy the juice in more economical large containers?" I asked.

"It's political," he replied. "If I don't buy all these cans I won't have anything to recycle, and that would lose me points where I work."

No one ever said saving the planet would be easy or inexpensive.

5 May 1998
A Bilingual Tautology
I discovered a lot of hubbub at my local burrito parlour today ... a whole lot of hubbub.

"What's all the hubbub about?" I inquired.

"It's Cinco de Mayo, Señor!"

"And what's Cinco de Mayo?"

"It's the fifth of May, Señor!"

"And what's the fifth of May?"

"It's Cinco de Mayo, Señor!"

I had a good burrito, with habañeros.

6 May 1998
Alcohol in the Air
It sure is drunk out tonight!

I heard that statement attributed to the leader of the Shade Tree Boys, but from now on I'm going to tell everyone it's my line. Since no one's ever heard of the Shade Tree Boys let alone the organization's leader, I figure I should be able to steal it with impunity.

7 May 1998
Good Weather Entertainment Value
It's raining and Susan's wet, wet and angry.

"The idiot television weather forecaster said it wasn't going to rain, but if he'd just stuck his hand out the window he would have known it's been pouring all day."

Susan proposed "educating the moron" by going to the television studio and forcing the inept weather forecaster to stick his hand out the window. At gunpoint, if necessary.

"Just think of the possibilities! Not only will we get better weather forecasts, since the TV cameras are already there it will also be great entertainment value!"

8 May 1998
Inscrutable Japanese Suicides
Hideto Matsumoto, the guitar player for X-Japan, recently committed suicide. No one knows why and I, for one, don't know how. The news report I read said "He hanged himself Saturday with a towel hooked to a doorknob."

How can you make a noose with a towel? I suppose you could cut it into thin strips, but that still doesn't address the larger mystery: how can you hang yourself from a doorknob? Was the doorknob on a very very tall door? Was Mr. Matsumoto very very short? And why do the Japanese appear so very very inscrutable?

9 May 1998
The Logic of Ménage à Trois
Dr. Magnus Enquist is he author of an amusing essay, The Logic of Ménage à Trois. Dr. Enquist noticed that previous girlfriend "was more interested in dressing up" when they went to social gatherings than when they were alone together. From this observation, the Stockholm University researcher began to extrapolate that, from a biological perspective, women flirt to keep men at home.

Here's the logic: the men who would otherwise go out to impregnate other females stay at home with their mates to prevent them from being impregnated by other men. If women weren't flirtatious, men might feel free to leave home to become foreign impregnators rather than the preventers of foreign impregnation.

Anyone who thinks artists are weird has never met a scientist.

10 May 1998
Safety in Percussion
Alan's new ensemble doesn't have a drummer. Since most people expect a musical group to have a drummer, I asked if he wasn't taking a commercial risk.

"Using a drummer is like using a condom," Alan explained. "It's safer but less pleasant."

11 May 1998
Sewage Seminars
I just got a piece of junk mail from Photoplus Expo West, an organization that promotes bad math and poor logic: "new seminars + new products = new ideas."

"Creating from a Sacred Space" and "Heart Storming" are two of the new seminars that appear to be new age seminars. (As a linguistic aside, "sewage" is the only word I can find in the English language that rhymes with "new age.") Both of these seminars are presented by someone named Ian Summers, who advertises that he will "teach participants how to develop a 'sacred space' that will foster creativity by helping them build such a space in the seminar room itself." Oh dear. He also promises to "demonstrate how to inject dye into your field of vision."

Ow! Ian Summers' seminars sound like they're every kind of painful.

12 May 1998
Beer Bottle Tracking Strategies
I was talking to a woman at a party, who interrupted me when I reached for my bottle of beer.

"Excuse me," she said, "but I think that's my bottle."

"No," I replied, "I'm sure it's mine."

"How can you be so sure?" she asked; "they both look the same."

"It's easy," I explained, "my beer is always the one that's fullest and coldest."

"Ah, but that also describes my beer."

We had a pleasant conversation.

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13 May 1998
The Fortieth Ring
Today is Stephen's fortieth birthday. It's his party and he'll cry if he wants to. Even after we showered him with glittery little 40s, he's still glum.

"Why so glum, chum?" I asked.

"I'm old."

"Forty ain't old if you're a tree!" I said helpfully.

Stephen remained wooden and glum.

14 May 1998
The Art of Gynecology II
I went to see Ellen Steinberg's solo performance, Herstory of Porn. She gave a witty, clever and amusing commentary on her quarter century of being a pornography star.

(I wouldn't presume to call anything pornography, but I might start after hearing Steinberg's explanation. "Does anyone know the difference between erotica and pornography? In erotica you use a feather; in pornography you use the whole chicken.")

I saw more pornography tonight than I have in the rest of my life, and it was anything but erotic. Most of it was fairly predictable (except for the bits with the kielbasa and the toothbrush); but Steinberg's running commentary on her various roles made the tedious anatomical shots bearable if not entertaining.

Ellen Steinberg aka Annie Sprinkle saved the disturbing images for the end of the evening. Seven years ago Steinberg decided she was a lesbian. I love lesbians except for those of Steinberg's persuasion: she's a new age lesbian! She showed lesbians having sex in space with cosmic lights, lesbians double exposed with dolphins ("that was a whale of an orgasm!"), et cetera. That was way too kinky for me.

Despite what appear to be her later lapses in aesthetic judgment, I had to admire Steinberg's monomania. "Why anyone would like to make a movie about anything but sex, I don't know."

15 May 1998
Frank's Dead; Now There's Hope
Frank Sinatra's death was the only career move he had left and he just got around to making it. The news wasn't surprising, but the obituaries were. Most were uncritically laudatory like Luciano Pavarotti's "Frank Sinatra is [sic] the Mozart of popular singers." Few publications mentioned either his involvement with the civil rights movement or the mafia.

Sinatra's death wasn't the one Brad's been anticipating; he's been waiting for Bob Hope to die.

"Why Bob Hope?"

"I just want to walk around the city looking at all the HOPE IS DEAD headlines."

16 May 1998
I have a new word, and the word is cunctation. It means procrastination or delay; I wonder if it has some special nuances or connotations? I should look it up in a good dictionary, but being a cuncative type of guy, I may never get around to it.

Mañana, maybe.

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17 May 1998
Too Many Pictures
I visited my negatives today, thousands and thousands of them, maybe even tens of thousands. They're in plastic sleeves in notebooks in cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic bags.

Those aren't archival storage conditions, those aren't even good storage conditions. Right now some nasty chemicals from somewhere are probably damaging the negatives, slowly and perhaps irrevocably. I don't worry about the irreparable damage too much. First, I can always feed the remnants of the images into a computer and clean them up to something approaching the original, maybe even better than the original. The main reason for my lack of concern is that I'll probably never get around to printing them. Never ever.

Imagine, all that work, all those images, just sitting in the dark going nowhere. That's art for you.

18 May 1998
Sauce for Gooses and Ganders
Everyone's talking about oral sex these days. Thanks to the president of the United States' alleged liaisons, everyone over the age of eight seems to have a rough idea of what fellatio involves.

I thought people were only getting half of the story on oral sex until a friend told me about watching a mainstream network television show with his nine year old daughter in which the following joke was told ...

    So anyway, there two fleas were in Miami for the winter, and one of the fleas was shivering.

    "Why are you so cold?"

    "I rode down here in the mustache of a guy on a motorcycle; I thought I was going to freeze to death."

    "That's not the way to get to Miami! You wanna go to an airport bar, have a few drinks, then climb up the leg of a stewardess headed to Miami. Find a nice warm spot, take a nap and you'll wake up in Florida!"

    So anyway, the next year the two fleas were again in Miami for the winter, and one of the fleas was still shivering.

    "Why are you so cold, why didn't you take my advice?"

    "I did what you said, but it didn't work!"

    "Whadda you mean it didn't work?"

    "Well I did what you said. I went to the airport bar, had a few drinks, then climbed up the leg of a stewardess headed to Miami. I found a nice warm spot, took a nap, then the next thing I knew I was in the mustache of a guy on a motorcycle!"

I should have known; there seems to be popular support when it comes to equal time for both ends of oral sex.

In looking through my archives, I found a letter I wrote seven years ago to a dictionary editor.

    8 January 1991

    R.E. Allen
    Oxford University Press
    Walton Street
    OX2 6DP

    Dear R.E. Allen,

    Recently I returned from a visit to England with The Oxford Dictionary of Current English. I noted that the volume you edited had a definition for fellatio but no definition for cunnilingus.



    D.A. Guerre

Here's the reply I received:

    13 February 1991

    Dear Mr/Ms Guerre,

    Thank you very much for your letter of 8 January about the inclusion of fellatio in The Oxford Dictionary of Current English but the omission of cunnilingus. Although this could be justified on the grounds that, according to our sources, fellatio is more frequently found in print, we have decided to include both words in the next edition of the dictionary. In the words of another correspondent on the subject, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

    Yours sincerely,

    Della Thompson
    Oxford Dictionary of Current English

Good for Della!

19 May 1998
My Least Favorite Airline
I am flying to London on British Airways, which purports to be "The World's Favourite [sic] Airline." This is of course complete and utter rubbish; if it really was "The World's Favourite [sic] Airline" it wouldn't have to brag. (Have you ever been to a restaurant that claimed to serve "the city's best food" that actually served the best food in the city?)

British Airways is unbearable. The cabin crew are a bizarre mix of domineering and repressed, kind of like a school headmaster at the hands and whips of a dominatrix. And they're stingy with the drinks, meaner than even the dour Dutch blondes on KLM. The flight crew felt obliged to talk like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, complete with "jolly good!" and "cheerio!" And the flight's late, too.

Since I feel sorry for the poor British Airways sky serfs, I decide to do a favor and point out a glaring typographical error.

"Hey, pal, there ain't no 'u' in 'colorful!' "

"I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about, sir."

It figures.

I suppose now TWA will have to change its name, since it's no longer The Worst Airline (even though its 747s spontaneously combust more often than most).


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©1998 David Glenn Rinehart