2007 Notebook: Weak XI
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13 March 2007
No. 6,552 (cartoon)
Why am I so miserable?

You’re not miserable, you’re a cartoon character.

Don’t be so prejudiced.

14 March 2007
Pi Day
I set my alarm to go off in the middle of the night in order to sip just over three drams of whiskey at fourteen minutes after three in the morning on the fourteenth day of the third month. All the threes and fourteens were in recognition of pi day.

Pi drives people to do strange things. Akira Haraguchi, a sixty-year old Japanese counselor, can and has reeled off the first hundred thousand numerals in pi from memory.

“What I am aiming at is not just memorizing figures,” Haraguchi explained. “I am thrilled by seeking a story in pi.”

Actually, I can’t find a story in pi. For me, memorizing pi to two decimals has always been sufficient. Ah, but phi; that’s another number for another day: 11 July 2001.

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15 March 2007
Dirty Diaper Diptych
Life in the vomitusphere is getting less appealing all the time. My most recent insight into the grim realities of life in space comes from Lisa Nowak, the disgraced former astronaut who attempted to beat up a love rival. Jealousy isn’t a news story, but Nowak’s approach to dealing with it was. The U.S. Navy captain was in such a hurry to confront her boyfriend’s new girlfriend that she wore diapers—just like on the space shuttle—in order to avoid unnecessary stops on her fifteen-hundred kilometer drive from Houston to Orlando.

Fortunately, the rogue astronaut failed to brutalize or kidnap the other woman before the police arrested her. The authorities thoughtfully released a photo of the fallen astronaut, which every news outlet on the planet juxtaposed with the press photo of the mother of three as a model astronaut.

“Isn’t that great a brilliant, cautionary diptych?” I asked Duane. “A morality tale in just two photographs; it’s no wonder the media have been milking the schedenfruede for weeks.”

“As a parent, I think I see something in the second photo that you don’t,” Duane replied. “You see her forlorn expression? That’s the look of someone with overflowing diapers.”

I can’t endorse police abuse of prisoners, but in this case I think that the public humiliation was called for, if only to make other astronauts think twice before they go on a maniacal, dirty-diaper rampage.

16 March 2007
Art As Performance
I endured forced meditation yesterday when I had my teeth cleaned. All I could do was lie on my back, stare into the bright light shining in my face, listen to the “classical” music on the radio, and let my mind wander and wonder. After a violinist displayed impressive technical prowess ripping through an unusually complex piece, the announcer commented that we’d just heard an incredible performance.

And that’s when I wondered, for probably the first time in my life, whether art is much more than a performance. How much of art is about ideas and emotion, and how much is about cleverness and technical virtuosity? That’s not limited to fast-fingered violinists; I’m also thinking of writers, visual artists, actors, and even conceptual artists like myself. No, especially conceptual artists like myself.

I never meditate, but perhaps I should. Or, perhaps not.

17 March 2007
Victor and Eugene Hugo Love Story
The last time I was in Paris, I couldn’t walk anywhere without bumping into some Victor Hugo monument. Since I don’t speak French, I had only the sketchiest idea of what any of them said. Amanda, who was with me on one jaunt, said she thought one plaque noted that Hugo once enjoyed a croissant at a nearby cafe before it was torn down to make way for a McDonald’s “restaurant.”

Today, I read about Victor Hugo’s fantastic love story. I’m referring to the one he lived, not to any of his litterary works. It seems that Hugo and his brother, Eugene, spent much of their early years together: cruising around Europe, writing plays and poetry; they even started a joint publishing venture. Their common interests didn’t end there; Victor and Eugene both fell in love with the same woman.

Hugo got the girl; I wonder if she was impressed by all the plaques?

When Hugo married, Eugene suffered a nervous breakdown. He never recovered, and spent the rest of his days in a mental hospital.

That’s amore! Or, rather, c’est amour!

18 March 2007
Airborne Beer Delivery System
Although I try to focus my attention on aesthetic undertakings, I must admit that clever gadgets fascinate me. That’s why I was glad to read about John Cornwell’s ingenious invention, the beer-tossing refrigerator.

Like most great innovations, Cornwell’s invention seems so obvious it’s hard to imagine why no one thought of it before. The software engineer simply combined three things almost every home has: a refrigerator, an electronic remote control device, and a personal catapult.

Et voilà! A cold beer comes flying across the room with the click of a button. I’m glad I never invested in one of those humongous armchairs with a built-in refrigerator; the monstrosities now appear quaint and outdated.

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©2007 David Glenn Rinehart