2009 Notebook: Weak VIII
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20 February 2009
No. 9,827 (cartoon)
You were the wrong person to marry.

You were too.

At least we have that in common.

21 February 2009
Ridiculousity and Money
Michelle mailed me a quote by Jules Renard, “Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money.” I couldn’t figure out why she sent me his observation; she knows I’m quite happy being risible or worse. That’s why I didn’t like Renard’s comment; what’s wrong with being ridiculous?

And so who is Jules Renard, anyway? If I found the right hombre, he’s some French guy who died almost a century ago, from arteriosclerosis. I guess all that yummy cheese and cream finally caught up with him. That information generates no schadenfreude, but it does make this morning’s oatmeal a bit tastier.

Renard also said, “Look for the ridiculous in everything and you will find it.” That’s more like it; concentrate on ridiculousity and leave money out of the equation.

22 February 2009
Museum of Immature Art
Andy took me to an exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Immature Art for the obvious reasons: his children had drawings in the show. (When I asked him about the curious name, he explained that the institution’s creators came up with a unique designation because there are already hundreds of children’s museums.)

The kids’ work was predictably good; none of them were old enough to have heard a string of teachers tell them that they weren’t really qualified to be artists. I especially liked the installation: all the work was mounted on refrigerators with magnets! The curators did a great job; all the refrigerators were working, and filled with the disgusting rubbish on which the bairns thrive.

23 February 2009
The Curse of the Drinking Classes
When I visited Andrea, I was surprised to see five cases of high-priced Scotch in a tower in the corner of her kitchen.

“That’s quite an expensive stack of stock you have there,” I remarked.

“It makes my miserable job bearable,” she replied.

“Wouldn’t that suggest that you should look for other employment?” I asked.

“I have been looking for other work, but haven’t found a job that pays enough for me to afford first-rate Scotch,” she explained.

I wonder if Andrea ever heard Oscar Wilde’s remark, “Work is the curse of the drinking classes.” If not, I’m not going to be the first one to tell her.

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24 February 2009
Free Range Broth
Elaine served a stellar soup at lunch today; she told me her secret ingredient was free range chicken broth.

I didn’t know what to say.

I generally support anyone’s effort to eat healthy food that’s grown responsibly. Still, I’m never concerned enough to inquire whether the chicken in my meal was raised humanely, or if it came from one of those hellish animal factories, where the birds are raised in claustrophobically cramped cages.

When it comes to chicken broth, though, I don’t see any difference between broth that was concocted in an industrial cauldron and broth that was allowed to follow the course of random gravities and range freely.

I didn’t share my thoughts on free range chicken broth with Elaine, and my atypical diplomacy was rewarded with a second huge bowl of soup.

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25 February 2009
Eighteen Coupled Black Beans (with Stains)
I cook black beans frequently, and when I do, I’m struck by how very black they are, and how black everything in their cooking pot becomes. Green peas become black peas, white cauliflower becomes black cauliflower, and so on.

And so, I decided to photograph black bean stains. I put pairs of dry black beans on nice pieces of thick watercolor paper, then used water from an eyedropper to wet them. I planned on getting a nice, black blob, something like an asymmetrical Rorschach test. I’m pleased to report that I got unanticipated results.

Even though the beans were all from the same batch, they each yielded different levels of opacity in the water. Some yielded such light stains that I watered all of the pairs several times. That approach yielded an agreeable variety of patterns, not the uniform inkblot I’d anticipated.

I also experienced one other unplanned result. Having lived in large cities most of my life, I forgot—if I ever knew—that beans are seeds. I was pleasantly surprised when some of the beans sprouted. Seeds have been around for some four-hundred thousand millennia, but I was nevertheless surprised when my beans germinated.

And so, I ended up photographing Eighteen Coupled Black Beans (with Stains). I filed away the original pieces of stained watercolor paper; I doubt I’ll ever see them again.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart