2002 Notebook: Weak XLII
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15 October 2002
No. 8,137 (cartoon)
Which way out?

Your choice.

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16 October 2002
An Undesirable View of London
Right about now, I should be gazing at a two of my favorite cylindrical objects: a large, succulent burrito and a tall, frosty can of Rainier. Instead, I am looking at the industrial—yet tasteful—carpet pattern on the floor of my room at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel.

I am here because of a grand conspiracy orchestrated by my least favorite airline. Through a combination of aggressive incompetence and spectacular treachery, British Airways has me ensconced in a miserable airport hotel, a few hundred meters from the jets thundering overhead, and some eight million meters from burritos and Rainier Ale.

I’m stuck here for the next twenty-one hours, and can think of nothing more to say about the increasingly tedious carpet.

17 October 2002
My Favorite Novel
I had a ready answer when Paula asked me if I had a favorite novel.

Lanark,” I replied without hesitating.

“Who wrote it?” Paula asked.

“Some Scot,” I finally said after an inordinate amount of hesitation.

Paula was incredulous that I couldn’t cite the author’s name. I tried to explain that my ignorance—or forgetfulness—was a sign of the author’s success. Some authors are famous because they’re famous, but I recognize my favorite author because of his wonderful novel, Lanark.

[Afterword: the Internet tells me that Alasdair Gray wrote Lanark.]

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18 October 2002
Home Run on the Range
After returning to San Francisco after a month outside the United States, I was surprised to discover the San Francisco baseball team was joining in the “world” series. (I hate to be so tiresome, but I have difficulty referring to a North American sporting contest as a global competition.)

It seems natural that a city full of mercenaries and carpetbaggers should cheer on a successful gang of carpetbaggers and mercenaries, so the outpouring of public support for a few dozen men chasing a little white ball around a field doesn’t seem particularly strange. (That may or may not be because nothing in San Francisco seems very strange.)

The baseball frenzy inspired the Jackson Arms’ graphic artist to create a lovely, surreal montage. The gun shop ad features an image of a baseball player and a semiautomatic pistol in front of a circular target perforated with three bullet holes. (Three strikes and you’re out?) In addition to the obligatory “Go Giants” slogan, the indoor shooting range’s copywriter cleverly linked Americana, guns, and baseball with the phrase, “Home Run on the Range.”

I like the way the Jackson Arms folks think; baseball would be much more interesting with live ammunition.

19 October 2002
Flame On, Doris!
I’ve never agreed with the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” I can, and do, judge a book by its cover, and I’m usually right.

That’s why I was sad to hear that Doris Wishman—probably America’s most prolific female filmmaker—died on 10 August. Although I’ve never seen any of Wishman’s work, she certainly had great titles.

I was delighted by the name of her first film, Hideout in the Sun. I imagined some sort of incredibly sophisticated spaceship that could withstand the incredible heat of the sun and fly into its hot gases.

I soon discovered that Hideout in the Sun is the story of some desperadoes that hole up in a nudist camp. In fact, most of Wishman’s early films depicted nudists. She chose this genre in order to take advantage of a loophole in the prudish American anti-pornography laws of the 1950s, as well as other logistical considerations.

“Nudist films were easy to produce because it was cheaper,” Wishman explained. “No costumes!”

These are some of the title of Wishman’s films.

The Amazing [Penis] Transplant
Another Day, Another Man
Bad Girls Go to Hell
Behind The Nudist Curtain
Come With Me My Love
Dildo Heaven
Deadly Weapons
Double Agent Seventy-three (a reference to the acclaimed actress Chesty Morgan’s seventy-three inch bust)
Gentlemen Prefer Nature Girls
The Immoral Three
Indecent Desires
Let Me Die a Woman
Keyholes Are For Peeping
Love Toy
My Brother’s Wife
A Night to Dismember
Nude on the Moon
Playgirls International
The Prince And The Nature Girl
Satan Was A Lady
The Sex Perils Of Pauline
A Taste of Flesh
Too Much, Too Often

It sounds like Wishman led a productive life; she left a number of screenplays, short stories, and a novel. And, if her boast is true, she’s still at it. “When I die,” she claimed, “I’ll still be making movies ... in hell!”

Flame on, Doris!

20 October 2002
Aesthetics and Anaesthetics
I’ve always liked Man Ray’s observation, “There is no progress in art, any more than there is in making love.” That’s a great quote, but it doesn’t address retrogression in art.

The corporate chemists at SSL International plc have succeeded in doing the unthinkable: developing a product to decrease sexual pleasure. The new Durex Performa condom is filled with ethyl aminobenzoate, an anaesthetic.

I’m unfamiliar with pharmaceutical drugs, so I looked up ethyl aminobenzoate on the Internet and discovered its side effects include “itching, burning, redness, or oozing sores in the ear.” I can envision a sleazy guy propositioning a woman in a bar with boasts about his oozing sores. That’s amore!

Although I agree with May Ray that there’s no progress in art or making love, the opportunities to ruin a great thing seem infinite.

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21 October 2002
Salt and Pepper Photographs
I try and stay away from the “art” world; it’s an incestuous nest of crooks and thieves stealing from each other. That’s why a lot of contemporary art has all the aesthetic delight of an inbred moron.

I like to steal my ideas from other people’s neighborhoods. Somewhere in my travels I picked up a pair of seasoning packets. One features a grey photograph of Big Ben with the word “Salt” printed in white lettering in the lower right-hand corner of the image. The other envelope shows a narrow, dark alley with “Pepper” superimposed over a building.

My salt and pepper diptych is perhaps the loveliest piece of packaging I’ve seen since I came across tiny, white tubes of toothpaste labeled simply, “TOOTHPASTE.”

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©2002 David Glenn Rinehart