1999 Notebook: Interval XXXIV

14 November 1999
The Blender Channel
I don't know how it happened, but I recently found myself plopped in front of a television set watching an Indian woman demonstrating how to bake a convoluted cake in seventy-three complex steps. She was great! She used eleven pans, five mixing bowls, seven burners, and two ovens. The photographers kept zooming out to show the entire kitchen landscape.

She also used three blenders; that was the best part of the show. After she put, say, a bit of lemon peel, some butter, and some cream into the blender, the photographers zoomed in tight for the money shot.


I was mesmerized! I was enthralled by the sight of solids turning into liquids. If there was a television station that only broadcast closeups of things in blenders, I'd buy a television of my own.

15 November 1999
Lazy Man's Shine
Jonesy is not pleased with my performance on our joint venture.

"That's a lazy man's shine," he says, pointing to my third lame attempt at the same endeavor.

Lazy man's shine?

It turns out that Jonesy learned to shine boots in the U.S. Navy's boot camp. (I guess that's why they call it boot camp.) He learned that he could make the shoe polish easier to apply by heating the can of polish with a cigarette lighter. Once the boot was coated in polish, he passed the flame from the cigarette lighter over the boot to make the polish melt into the leather.

Years later--and a few days ago--Jonesy asked a man shining shoes if he ever used the cigarette lighter trick.

"And you know what he said?" Jonesy asked rhetorically. "He said, 'That's a lazy man's shine.' Ever since he told me that, I can't get the phrase out of my head."

Understandably so.

16 November 1999
Genie got a commission to create an "identity" for a new wildlife organization, Save All Species. (Apparently, what used to be logos are now identities.) All her designs featured syringes and straws.

"What do all the syringes and straws have to do with the bunny huggers?" I asked.

"Nothing, really; I just liked playing with the tubular images," Genie explained. "SAS is SAS, whether it's Save All Species or syringes and straws. People will get used to it."

Wow! So that's how advertising works.

17 November 1999
Beyond Dumb
A friend, who will remain anonymous for obvious reasons, is a thief, a petty thief. He works in a warehouse, where he stole a deck of cards.

His wife is furious. She told me he would have lost his job had he been caught. If he was going to be so dumb as to steal from a well-protected warehouse, why didn't he steal something valuable?

"It's not that he did something so dumb," she explained, "it's that he did something so dumb so stupidly."

Until then, I'd never appreciated the distinction between being merely dumb and stupidly dumb. I look forward to exploring that territory; it appears to be fertile ground for my sort of ventures.

18 November 1999
James Brown Doesn't Wear a Cummerbund
Emerson took me to see James Brown, his fourteen-piece band, five singers, and three go-go dancers. Fancy that, go-go dancers, in this day and age!

The band members' outfits were a throwback to another era, with their pinkish-reddish suits, white shirts, shiny black shoes, black bow ties, and cummerbunds. Fancy that, cummerbunds, in this day and age!

And then there was James Brown, who wore more or less the same outfit, except that his shirt was pinkish-reddish instead of white, and his jacket had a few tasteful sequins and rhinestones. Also, he didn't wear a cummerbund.

But the performers' appearances were irrelevant to an excellent performance. No, not a performance, it was a show.

My favorite part of the evening was watching the man standing next to me in the audience. He had his hair coifed in a JB, and had a James Brown button on his jacket. He clutched a purple Instamatic throughout the entire evening, but I don't think he ever made a photograph with it. I think he was too busy earnestly watching James Brown to make sure he hadn't missed anything. I never would have seen him if I had a camera.

What a show!

19 November 1999
The Rembrandt of Nothing
Dr. Rice and I recently enjoyed a learned debate about the forty-three levels of slothfulness. I asked her if she was intimately familiar with the path of laziness and indolence.

"Are you kidding?" she asked. "I'm the Rembrandt of doing nothing."

20 November 1999
I recently got a profitable commission to create a short written piece about the new millennium. This is what I came up with:

Centuries, ten of 'em.

21 November 1999
I walked past a person in the street selling flowers. One group of flowers had a card that said "Bo-K" on it. I thought about the Bo-K for the rest of the morning.

gratuitous image
22 November 1999
No More Snaportraits
My experiment with making a portrait every interval has been a failure. I give up. It's like Dr. Wiles advised, "When the horse is dead, get off it."

Although I admire the candor and insightfulness of Dr. Wiles' observation, I cannot help but think of Kermit Evans's list, Twenty Alternatives to Wiles.


  1. Changing riders.

  2. Buying a stronger whip.

  3. Falling back on: "This is the way we've always ridden."

  4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

  5. Arranging a visit to other sites to see how they ride dead horses.

  6. Increasing the standards for riding dead horses.

  7. Appointing a group to revive the dead horse.

  8. Creating a training session to improve riding skills.

  9. Comparing the state of dead horses in today's environment.

  10. Changing the requirements so that the horse no longer meets the standard of dead.

  11. Hiring an external consultant to show how a dead horse can be ridden.

  12. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

  13. Increasing funding to improve the horse's performance.

  14. Declaring that no horse is too dead to beat.

  15. Doing a study to see if outsourcing will reduce the cost of riding a dead horse.

  16. Buying a computer program to enhance dead horse performance.

  17. Declaring a dead horse less costly than a live one.

  18. Forming a workgroup to find uses for dead horses.

  19. Changing performance requirements for the horse.

  20. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

I think Kermit Evans and I are idiots. At least when it comes to snaportraits.

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©1999 David Glenn Rinehart