2008 Notebook: Weak XL
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1 October 2008
No. 1,937 (cartoon)
Why do you loathe me?

It’s your face, both of them.

2 October 2008
Duchamp in Purgatory
Marcel Duchamp died forty years ago today, so now his work’s in purgatory. That’s not my story, it’s his, and here it is.

“No painting has an active life of more than thirty or forty years—that’s another little idea of mine. I don’t care if it’s true, it helps me to make that distinction between living art and art history. After thirty or forty years, the painting dies, loses its aura, its emanation, whatever you want to call it. And then it is either forgotten or else it enters the purgatory of art history.”

Duchamp’s been dead for forty years, and now his physical creations are in houses of aesthetic purgatory, or museums. His best work is still readily and freely available. If one looks carefully, it’s everywhere one sees it.

3 October 2008
Tic-Tac-Toe for Dummies
Over lunch, Sandra announced she was commissioned to write a book, Tic-Tac-Toe for Dummies.

I congratulated her, but admitted I’d lost interest in the game when I was five or so. She chided me for my lack of imagination, and pointed out that the small board yielded an interesting range of mathematical possibilities. She added that the first video game, OXO, was based on tic-tac-toe. (As an aside, the program—launched on a EDSAC computer in 1952—never lost a game.)

Then she told me the bad news.

Every book in the For Dummies series must be exactly three hundred and eighty pages long; that’s the formula. I wonder if the dummies who run the company ever read Publishing for Dummies? How else would they come up with such a silly rule?

Sandra seemed undaunted by filling that many pages with tic-tac-toe trivia; she pointed out that even commenting on a small fraction of the 362,880 possible games would meet her arbitrary quota.

When I asked Sandra who would read three hundred and eighty pages about tic-tac-toe, she replied without hesitation: dummies.

4 October 2008
Eric confused me when he asked if he could borrow my camera-holder-upper.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.

“You know,” he replied, “the thingie that holds your camera up.”

It took a bit to figure out that camera-holder-upper was Eric’s synonym for tripod. I love Eric’s new word; I shall never use a tripod again.

5 October 2008
The Odious Jobs Threat
Gomez told me that he was unhappy with the presidential candidates’ promises that everyone will have a job under a new administration.

“I wouldn’t worry about about it,” I advised, “politicians have to lie, it’s a professional requirement.”

“But what if they’re telling the truth?” Gomez replied. “What if they force us all to have a job? What’ll we do?”

“Look at it realistically,” I advised, “can you imagine anyone employing either one of us?”

Gomez took a long, thoughtful gulp of his wine, wiped the last trace of lunch off his chin with his sleeve, burped loudly, then agreed with me.

Jobs for everyone? The despicable fearmongers have no shame.

6 October 2008
Sloppy Child Legislation
Poorly crafted laws result in unintended consequences; ask any Nebraskan legislator. In an attempt to give mothers an alternative to tossing unwanted newborns in the trash, the prairie lawmakers enacted a “safe haven” statute that allowed parents to give unwanted children to the state.

Their move wasn’t at all innovative; every other American state has a similar law. What’s notable about the Nebraskan version is its sloppy wording; most other laws only apply to babies less than three days old.

As a result, a single father dropped off his nine children—from one to seventeen years old—at the Creighton University Medical Center; another parent came to Nebraska from another state to abandon her child. Nebraskan lawmakers plan to rewrite the law.

I’m glad there wasn’t such a law when I was a child. Even though my father and mother were great, I’m sure they—and probably every other parent—had occasion to take advantage of a humane alternative to a postnatal abortion.

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7 October 2008
My latest film, Honey, is my most predictable yet. It has a beginning, a middle, an end, a thunderous soundtrack—almost gave away the plot!—and even a splash of color. It’s less than a minute long, and thus shouldn’t waste much of anyone’s time.

8 October 2008
Nappus Interruptus
I’m in a very foul mood after low-flying Navy jets ruined my afternoon nap. Although I don’t want anyone to get hurt, I started fantasizing about a giant catapult that would hurl giant paintballs at the damnable planes.

I think my vengeful disposition doesn’t bode well for world peace. If those annoying jets led a pacifist like me to even consider nonviolent terrorism, I can barely begin to imagine the response of the people in other parts of the world whose naps are disturbed by deafening American jets dropping bombs, American jets dropping bombs and killing friends, family, and neighbors. I bet they’re not at their computers designing a giant paintball catapult.

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©2008 David Glenn Rinehart