1999 Notebook: Interval XXXI

16 October 1999
The Wine of the Wrath of Her Fornication
There's a poet on Market Street in San Francisco who displays his writing on a sandwich board. He's got the same poem hanging on his chest and on his back. The poem never changes day after day, week after week, month after month. This is the poem:

    Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink the wine of the wrath of her fornication.

The wine of the wrath of her fornication! What a line! What a poem! It's no wonder he hasn't written a sequel.

17 October 1999
Lorna's Practical Ambition
I never thought of Lorna as overly ambitious. Thus I was surprised when she said she was proud of all she'd accomplished in the last millennium.

"Uh, Lorna, I never really thought of you as being consumed by blind ambition," I said. (I couldn't think of a nicer way of saying that I thought her to be probably as lazy as I am.)

"I'm selectively ambitious," Lorna explained. "A lot of people waste their time trying to accomplish impressive feats. I think it's a lot more productive to concentrate on not doing stupid things than it is to waste your time on being great."

"So, what you've accomplished is avoiding mistakes?" I asked.

"Exactly!" she replied.

I think Lorna may be on to something. Or maybe not.

18 October 1999
Life Before Computers
Terry and I spent the entire afternoon and most of the evening trying to get the computers to talk with each other.

About 23:17 I asked, rhetorically, what life would be like if I'd been born forty years earlier. I almost certainly would not be pissing away days of my life working on electronic gizmos as I have been recently.

Terry thought about it for a while, then hazarded a guess. "Well, I suppose you'd be forty years older. For a start."

I couldn't argue with that.

19 October 1999
An Accurate Prediction
When I awoke over eighteen hours ago, I had a feeling nothing would happen today.

It turns out I was right.

20 October 1999
The Length of Death
Chris was even more generous than usual tonight. Every time I turned around, there was more salmon and asparagus on the table, more champagne in my glass, and so on.

Chris graciously accepted my compliments with modesty.

"It only makes sense to live one's short life well," he said. "When you die, you're going to be dead for a long, long time."

21 October 1999
I'm No Sellout
When I was a barely out of my teens, a friend warned me of the dangers of becoming rich and famous when young. Although I've so far avoided becoming rich or famous, my comfortable obscurity has little to do with the good advice I was given. I didn't believe that advice then, but I do believe it now.

I was reminded of the pitfalls of "success" when I read an interview with Trey Parker, one of the creators of the sweetly nostalgic South Park cartoon series. Parker recounted the accurate predictions of another cartoonist about the public's fickleness.

    "Back when people were first hearing about the [South Park] show, Mike Judge basically showed us a diagram of how the popularity would go," said Parker. "He [said something] like, 'It's going to be real popular; you're going to hit a peak; then there's going to be a backlash. Then it will go down, and it will level out. And before you know it, you're going to be a sellout just by doing what you do.' "

I'm proud that I've never been accused of being a sellout, even though that has more to do with a lack of buyers than any personal integrity.

gratuitous image
22 October 1999
Paul Batlan (snaportrait)
Paul is a friend of mine.

23 October 1999
The Path Less Travailed
I don't know why people write about love or war or joy or loss. Damn good writers have been scribbling about the Big Things for centuries if not millennia.

I think Charles Remey wisely realized that the market for writing about the Big Things was pretty well saturated, so he chose unexplored terrain. That was the first smart thing he did. The second good move he made was following what's-his-name's admonition, "write about what you know."

Remey, who died twenty years ago, bequeathed boxes and boxes of his writing to the Iowa State Historical Society. His work turned out to be brilliant! In particular, the Des Moines Register wrote a glowing review of The Wardrobe of Gertrude Heim Remey. The reviewer called the thick tome ... "quite likely the best book ever written about his wife's clothes."

Way to go, Chuck!

24 October 1999
Good Busy
Cotton told me he's been busy recently.

"Good busy or bad busy?" I asked.

"Busy is always good," Cotton replied, "as long as you never mistake motion for progress."

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart