2001 Notebook: Weak XV
9 April 2001
Three-Hitter No-Hitter
I have a number of friends who are fanatically enthusiastic about sports. It seems that they can’t go an hour without turning to the radio and/or the television and/or the phone and/or the Internet to see how their favorite teams and athletes are faring.

I’m sure the meaningless, worthless, and ultimately pointless world of sports isn’t any more meaningless, worthless, and ultimately pointless than the world of art, but that still doesn’t make their pursuit any more interesting for me.

Having said that, I did hear about a memorable sporting achievement that impressed me.

On 12 June 1970, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. (In baseball parlance, a “no-hitter” is a game in which a pitcher doesn’t allow the opposing team to get a single hit.) I understand no-hitters are rather uncommon. If the stories I’ve read are true, the performance of Mr. Ellis was probably unique in the annals of the game.

Dock Ellis pitched the entire game after taking three healthy doses of lysergic acid diethylamide. Yow!

It turns out, in this instance, that LSD acted as a performance-enhancing drug. Watson saw the ball leave a trail of light behind it, “just like a comet.” Pitching a no-hitter was simply a matter of aiming for the catcher’s glove.

I was atypically skeptical about this story until I mentioned it to a friend of mine, who told a similar tale about a professional tennis player he knew. It seems that the tennis player played an incredible game against a formidable opponent under the influence of the same psychedelic drug. The player reported that the game was one of his easiest matches. He couldn’t miss the tennis ball, since it was moving so slowly, possibly because it was several times as large as his racquet.

Although I must admit that such chemically-enhanced feats of athletic prowess are not without interest, I still don’t see what people see in sports.

10 April 2001
Poor Mr. Wagner
Poor Dickie Wagner; everyone says such nasty things about him. First, there’s that catty Gioacchino Rossini, who said, “Mr. Wagner has beautiful moments but bad quarters of an hour.” And then there’s Mark Twain’s remark, “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds.”

And now, some researcher has concluded that Wagner spread rumors that Brahms was a kitty killer.

“After spearing the poor brutes, he reeled them into his room after the manner of a trout-fisher,” Wagner claimed, “then he eagerly listened to the expiring groans of his victims and carefully jotted down in his notebook their ante mortem remarks.”

Not true, not true at all.

That Dickie Wagner really was a miserable piece of work, even before the damned Nazis recycled him.

11 April 2001
A Think-ological Error
A good excuse is usually a good substitute for working; that’s why I’m always looking for new excuses (and not for new work).

Andy Ihnatko just came to my aid with a brilliant line I shall use to my advantage. He explained he used the wrong word in an article, “because it was late in the day and I was tired and I hadn’t had any Coke in the past two hours, I made a think-ological error when retyping that sentence to make it even smaller ...”

Although it’s great to have Ihnatko’s excuse added to my arsenal of slothful tools, his brilliance makes me realize how far I have to go to be a really good writer. But that’s irrelevant, I suppose.

Thanks, Andy!

12 April 2001
Practical Philanthropy
I live in many worlds all at once. I’d like to say that I do so in order to experience different perspectives on life, but the truth is that being in several places at the same time is an elegant and effective way to avoid being cornered by my pernicious foes. (Take off every ‘zig’!! All your bases are belong to us!!)

I was reminded of my duplicitous existence today when I asked one of my businesslike associates to make a donation to one of my unbusinesslike friends.

“No problem,” she replied, “we’re happy to give it to anyone who wants to pay for it.”

Wow-wow! I’ve just had my first encounter with compassionate capitalism.

gratuitous image
13 April 2001
Dead Happy Face
In 1963, State Mutual Life Assurance Cos. of America (now doing business under the dubious name, “Allamerica”) paid Harvey R. Ball US $45 for his now-ubiquitous “smiley face.”

Mr. Ball died yesterday, at the age of seventy-nine. His “smiley face” lives on as a cultural icon for innocents and junkies alike.

I suppose that’s as close as one can get to being a successful artist these days. Since I’m neither an innocent or a junky, though, I can’t really say that with any certainty.

14 April 2001
A Bit Closer
I’m a bit closer to death after writing this sentence. You’re a bit closer to death after reading that sentence. I’m a bit closer to death after writing this sentence. You’re a bit closer to death after reading that sentence.

And so on.

Pretty stupid, no?

15 April 2001
Who Am I to Argue with Edward Weston?
Today, I saw an exhibit of a century and a half of California photography at the Oakland Museum. Edward Weston provided the raison d’être for the show with his observation, “Everything worth photographing is in California.”

Who am I to argue with Edward Weston? Not me, that’s certainly for sure.

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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart