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 No Ball Games

P E R I O D  VI  1 9 9 8

20 May 1998
No Ball Games
I did a sketch for this piece a couple of years ago. Since recent events suggest I'll rarely visit the NO BALL GAMES neighborhood in the future, I decided to redo the piece one more time. For keeps. It's also available in the PDF format.

21 May 1998
Academic Adrenaline
I first heard Brahms' Academische Festouverture when I was thirteen during my first week at the arts academy. I was amazed at how well the older students played, especially the molto ballsissimo horn parts toward the end. I wondered if I'd ever be able to play that well. (The answer, with the benefit of hindsight, is: not yet.)

I heard the Academic Festival Overture again today, and sat through most of it impatiently awaiting the dramatic finale. It was the musical equivalent of suffering through the semblance of some sort of plot development in an Arnold Schwarzenegger film in order to watch the big Austrian wreak his formulaic mayhem. It seems like my musical tastes, like so many other preferences, haven't noticeably matured since I was a teenager.

What is it about boys and adrenaline?

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22 May 1998
Saws Harpened
I looked out the window of the train and saw a business that harpened saws. I'd never heard about harpening saws, but that's not particularly surprising given my lack of useful skills. I looked again, and saw that the "S" on "Saws" was also supposed to go in front of "harpened," e.g., sharpened. It's amazing that even in these days of sophisticated typographic tools people can still find new dimensions of bad design.

(As a technical aside, I have recreated the bad typography with some poor typography of my own since my cheap digital camera didn't capture enough data to see the original very well.)

23 May 1998
A Certifiably Insane Valid Comment
Mot Yeldig is an English artist who describes himself as "certified insane" and "struggling with inner demons." Unlike so many other artists who make the same pseudo-romantic claims, Yeldig isn't all hat and no cattle as a recent account of his work demonstrates:

    Recently a small group of friends bought me a computer to celebrate my release after a particularly long and harrowing period of enforced detainment, which was the result of a work I created at Waterloo Station during rush hour involving a goat, twenty-two chickens and a naked teenage girl. I still believe it was a valid comment on the world of commerce, though the judge, a mere servant of the establishment, took a rather different view.

I wonder what he'll do with his new computer? If he just lets his demons at the keyboard without too much interference, I expect Yeldig may make another memorable comment on the world of commerce that oppresses him and so many other artists.

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24 May 1998
On Spherical Breasts
Sophie née Roger Wilson maintains "I am a real woman in every sense of the word." Since s/he helped to create the Lara Croft video game character, I am skeptical about how much s/he knows about real women. It's been my experience that women's breasts are neither spherical nor larger than their heads and that women's waists are always greater in circumference than their wrists. These are but two of the most obvious ways in which real women differ from Wilson's and his colleagues' video creations.

I feel sorry for my poor nephews whose primary knowledge of women seems to come from playing computer games. With creations like Lara Croft as their ideals, I fear that their courtship path may be longer and more difficult than most. Or maybe not: I saw an advertisement for a bra that contorted the model's breasts so that they appeared spherical. Can whale bone corsets be far behind?

25 May 1998
The guy in the room below is playing some sort of technocrap noise; I can tell because of the annoyingly unvarying and unimaginative drum machine sounds rattling the radiators. How can kids these days listen to such mindless formulaic technocrap?

That was probably my parents' lament three decades ago, albeit without the techno- prefix. I suppose I'm just getting old.

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26 May 1998
The Beauty of Bollards
I was walking down a dead end ally when I came across a beautiful sturdy black enamel bollard. Apparently I wasn't the first person to recognize its meditative beauty; the adjoining business put a sign on the wall behind it that stated the obvious: "A time of quiet and reflection in the busy city."

27 May 1998
Candle-powered Cars
Jeremy's been working on candle-powered cars for years with nothing to show for it. His first balsa wood prototype demonstrated some promise until a loose candle fell and burned the whole contraption to waxy ashes. His new carbon fiber model with hydraulic invection generators looked like it might actually work until the car reached a speed of ten kilometers an hour, then whoosh! The wind blew out most of the candles.

I don't see much of a future for candle-powered vehicles, but I do admire Jeremy's fanaticism. Flame on!

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28 May 1998
Lord Cathcart-Fellingham's Oak
Lord Cathcart-Fellingham thought a large oak tree would be just the centerpiece for the one hundred and forty acre grounds of his estate. Since Cathcart-Fellingham was neither patient nor young, he bought a perfect mature oak tree from a farm some two hundred kilometers away. The oak's rail journey stopped at the old Roman overpass near Nordgrenshire; the huge tree couldn't pass under the ancient arch. Or, to be more accurate, it wouldn't fit until the railway workers sawed off the offending branches.

Today Cathcart-Fellingham's oak lies horizontal on the grounds of his estate; every tree surgeon he consulted agreed that it won't survive the multiple amputations. At least the tree's providing lots of fun for squirrels and lawyers. That's just fine; Lord Cathcart-Fellingham has more money than brains.

29 May 1998
Certificate of Authenticity
Dr. A. Woots of Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin, asked me to prove that my notebook is authentic, so I have no option but to waste space by certifying that this is authentic.

This is authentic. Suitable for framing, even.

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30 May 1998
It's a Bird!
Old habits are hard to lose. When I took the snapshot at Lord Cathcart-Fellingham's estate a couple days ago, I waited to release the shutter until a bird flew into the frame. Since I was using a cheap digital camera, the effort was wasted. When I zoomed in on the bird, there was only a pixelated diagonal blob.

Oh well.

As old habits go, waiting for birds to fly into the frame isn't one of my more destructive practices.

31 May 1998
A Into B
Pia told me that the shortest path from a to b is not a straight line from a to b. Instead, the most efficient course is to transform a into b. That's a great solution, now all I have to do it to find a problem to go with it.

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1 June 1998
What a Doll!
I only have one doll; it's a sad little yellow creature Mary gave me a couple years ago. It's filthy and its face is shredded, but I like its Andy Warhol wig. The best part it that the beast's battery hasn't died; squeeze its chest and you'll hear an annoyingly electronic Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

2 June 1998
Dancing on Dr. Gachet's Grave
There's an article on sculpture in this month's ARTnews that compares the highest price ever paid for a painting with the most ever paid for a sculpture. Specifically, Vincent van Gogh's Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for U.S.$82,500,000 and Edgar Degas's Little Dancer went for U.S.$11,880,000.

Those figures suggest that a painting's worth almost seven times more than a sculpture, but that calculation only tells half the story. ARTnews didn't tell the other half, and neither will I since I don't have the necessary statistics. A lack of data has never stopped me from speculating before, though, and it won't now.

How big is the painting and how big is the sculpture? If the painting has a larger surface area than the sculpture, then it might only cost five or six times as much. On the other hand, if the comparison is made on cost per gram, I'd bet the painting might be worth a hundred times as much as the sculpture, maybe even a thousand times as much. After all, bronze weighs a lot more than oil and canvas.

Why is ARTnews only telling half the story? What are the editors trying to hide?

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3 June 1998
Precisely Timed Drinking
When it's time to drink Biere d'Alsace, timing is everything, absolutely. Fortunately, the brewers make it easy to get the timing exactly right.

The brewery workers have a strong union; in practice that means no one there works before 9:00 or after 17:00. At 16:55 every day the last contents of the brewing vats are dumped into the bottling production line, and that makes all the difference. I had one bottle that was capped at 16:54; it tasted fizzy and watery albeit pleasantly alcoholic. The 16:55 bottle, though, was full of grainy sediments, fibers, and a rich, thick taste albeit pleasantly alcoholic. When it's time to drink Biere d'Alsace, it pays to shop around for the last batch of the day.

4 June 1998
Dr. Beer Meets Dr. Beer
I got an email note from guy who trademarked the name Dr. Beer ...

    Subject: trademark infringement on your web page

    Dear Sir,

    It has come to my attention that your web page contains an infringing usage of the trademarked term "Dr. Beer" as follows ...

    You are probably unaware that Dr. Beer is a registered trademark (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registration #2,080,963) belonging to me, filed in Feb. 1996 and issued in July 1997 based on usage dating from 1988. I therefore respectfully request that you remove your infringing usage of this trademark from your web page and cease using it without proper authorization in the future as your usage directly violates my trademark rights.

I didn't worry. People are always accusing me of this copyright violation and that trademark infringement but nothing ever comes of it. It's all rather ironic, especially considering that I copyrighted the four elements years ago.

Who cares? Life's to short too spend in court, which is more or less what I told Dr. Beer. I also pointed out that Dr. Beer's developer has been used by photographers for decades. Since I couldn't not like a guy named Dr. Beer, I also warned him to stay away from the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, the nasty Philistines (by all accounts) who publish Ansel's books extolling the virtues of Dr. Beer's developer.

I was glad I didn't tell the new Dr. Beer to piss off; he sent me a nice reply in which he agreed most people wouldn't confuse beer with photographic developer.

Take it from Professor Beer (that's me!): don't drink any photographic chemicals with which you're not familiar.

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5 June 1998
It Has to be Broccoli
I asked the local greengrocer for some broccoli, and that's what she gave me. I don't know of any vegetable that even vaguely resembles broccoli, so I couldn't figure out why the vegetable was labeled BROCCOLI in eighty-six point Helvetica. Might the pickers confuse broccoli with cucumbers? Could the shippers mistake broccoli for spinach? Broccoli labeling is probably one of those stupid mysteries that's not worth examining.

6 June 1998
A Dictionary of Art

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7 June 1998
The Speed of Nails
Five months ago (on my birthday) I used a needle to etch a line in the base, the cuticle, of my fingernail. And now the etched line is on the verge of being cut, so it's time to announce my conclusion: my fingernails take between five and six months to grow.

So now you know.

8 June 1998
Thinker Pasta
I lost the reference and am too lazy to look it up, but some museum (I think it's the Philadelphia Museum of Art) is selling "Thinker Pasta," presumably modeled after Rodin's sculpture of the same name.

What a great idea!

I can now imagine the perfect meal: Thinker Pasta and cheap Baron Romero wine. I could eat Thinker Pasta until I felt too smart, then I could drink Baron Romero until I became more stupid. Too stupid? Eat more Thinker Pasta! Beautiful!

Bon appétit!

9 June 1998
Alien Transmission No. One
OK; let's get this out of the way right now: I am not from Earth anymore.

And now you want to know why, so here's why: on 9 June 1998 my plane traveling from LHR to SFO was captured by aliens, people ("creatures" and/or "beings" is perhaps more accurate from your perspective) from another galaxy, or maybe another universe. The words are very confusing, the English language isn't yet ready to deal with the new realities I've experienced. (That's probably not true; I'm sure English is more capable and flexible than I am.)

And here's how: we were coming out of European air space into North American airspace when the 747's engines stopped. Cold. With the white noise gone, all the conversations were first amplified, then they stopped too. As the jet rose silently though the atmosphere and into the darkness of the stratosphere, everyone passed out from the lack of oxygen.

Correction: everyone passed out except me. I had so much whisky to drink that I was almost paralytic. I saw what happened next as if I dreamt it. I saw it but I can't describe it.

And now I'm one of them, or, rather, one of us. Even though nothing's changed everything's different. I'll now return to our regularly-scheduled broadcasts.

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©1998 David Glenn Rinehart