2009 Notebook: Weak XVIII
gratuitous image
30 April 2009
No. 3,951 (cartoon)
Tell me what I want to hear.

What’s that?


1 May 2009
Abraham Lincoln and The First Rule of Plagiarism
For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like.

When I read that line somewhere on the Internet, I said to myself, “Self, you must plagiarize that.”

The first rule of plagiarism is to only steal from someone very obscure, and preferably dead. It’s not a theft unless you’re caught, no? And so, I did my homework.

I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that the line was well known. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to discover that the author was Abraham Lincoln. How prescient of him! I wonder if he’s related to Yogi Berra and/or Samuel Goldwyn?

2 May 2009
Writers’ Juice
I visited Annette this afternoon, and she asked me if I wanted some writers’ juice.

“I’d love a glass of wine,” I replied.

“I meant coffee,” she said, “it’s too early for wine.”

“Well, it’s too late for coffee,” I responded.

Annette graciously opened a bottle of wine for me, and made some espresso for herself. We enjoyed a pleasant conversation, during which we agreed to never refer to any beverage as writers’ juice.

3 May 2009
An Inconvenient Fee
Al Gore is known as an environmentalist, in large part because of his film about climate change, An Inconvenient Truth. Al Gore is known as an environmentalist, but I know better. When he was vice president, he tried unsuccessfully to scuttle laws protecting dolphins. He failed because associates of mine beat him up in court.

Some time later, I was asked to photograph some sort of save the rainforest project in Bolivia with a beautiful professional race car driver and Al Gore. She volunteered her time, and Gore said he’d be happy to spend a few days there ... for a quarter of a million dollars. Because of an inconvenient fee, the project was canceled.

I wasn’t disappointed. People who are motivated by money—especially the disingenuous ones—bore me. (And Gore’s wife Tipper is a notorious would-be censor, but everyone knows that.)

4 May 2009
Who Needs Plots or Characters?
I listened to an interview with John Cleese in which he cited the conflict in writing screenplays between plot and character development. He said he’d often write one draft to develop the plot, then another one to flesh out the characters. And so on.

Dang, that sounds like a lot of work! And even worse, a lot of unnecessary toil. My films feature neither plots nor characters, so the whole ordeal is over in less than a minute. If Cleese wasn’t sitting on enough laurels to see him comfortably into the next century, I could learn him a lesson or three.

[Insert clever Monty Python reference here.]

5 May 2009
Cinco de Mayo, For Real
I’ve heard several explanations for the fifth of May holiday; I’ve written about them in 1998, 1999, 2002. But today, Imelda insists she has The True Story.

The celebrations commemorates the victory of Mexican military forces—lead by the legendary Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín—over French troops at the Battle of Puebla on this day in 1862. From all the accounts I’ve read, the French imperialists’ brutal regime was fueled by a diet of pommes frites slathered in mayonnaise. Seguín made the brilliant move of sinking both emergency supply corvettes loaded with potatoes and mayonnaise, leaving French forces hungry, demoralized, and even more lethargic than usual.

Imelda explained that The Sinking of the Mayonnaise later became known as The Sinking of the Mayo, which then became known by the date—in Spanish—of the triumph, Cinco de Mayo.

I was skeptical of Imelda’s explanation, until she pointed out that burritos feature all sorts of high-fat ingredients such as cheese and crema agria, but never mayonnaise. Or pommes frites, for that matter.

6 May 2009
Razor or Sword: Who Cares?
Art historians are jousting with each other again with their flaccid lances, this time over whether Vincent van Gogh cut off his ear with a straight-edge razor or whether Paul Gauguin achieved the same result with his rapier.

I have a strong, almost visceral, response to the debate: who could possibly care? Van Gogh’s amputated ear is as relevant to his work as my amputated finger is to mine. The fact that a cheerfully inebriated Eugène Atget whacked off my right index finger on a bet has nothing to do with everything, and vice versa.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart