2009 Notebook: Weak XXI
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21 May 2009
No. 8,482 (cartoon)
Sometimes I’m happy to see you pass through my door.

Why only sometimes?

Only when you’re leaving.

22 May 2009
But Entertaining!
Ballet, but entertaining.

That’s what a poster for a local dance company promises. It’s about time; I never understood why anyone would watch malnourished women—mostly—in frou-frou tutus prance around on deformed tippy-toes.

I wonder what the choreographers and dancers will do to make ballet entertaining? Firearms or explosives perhaps; they’re appealing without fail. Or maybe farm animals: they’re always agreeable and lots of them—especially chickens and sheep—can dance to some degree.

I was thinking of checking out the show, but the tickets are prohibitively expensive. For that kind of money, they’d better have guns, rockets, and hopping chickens or sheep.

And no damn tutus.

23 May 2009
Wasted Time
I came across a Bertrand Russell quote this morning, “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” That’s almost identical to John Lennon’s remark, “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.”

Did Lennon get the idea from Russell, who was born way back in 1872? Or did two smart hombres arrive at the same logical idea independently? I suppose I could waste hours discovering who said what when, but I won’t; that would be wasted time I wouldn’t enjoy wasting.

24 May 2009
The Cats and Birds War of 1976
American politicians such as Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger were professional actors before they were politicians. I think everyone in the higher echelons of the American government is acting (albeit with litle talent); no one could be so consistently stupid without a script.

The most recent example of mass lunacy is a new law that allows visitors to national parks and wildlife refuges to carry concealed, loaded guns. As someone who’s lived on oats and dried noodles in the back country for weeks, I can appreciate how convenient it would be to blast the evening’s entrée. The occasional tasty dinner aside, guns, wildlife, and humans are a ménage à trois with no happy ending. Anyone who remembers the Golden Gate Park Cats and Birds War of 1976 knows that.

That was the year hawks started preying on feral kittens in the park. Cat lovers roamed the grounds with pistols to defend the kitties. Meanwhile, armed bird lovers showed up to protect the birds from hungry felines. During the ensuing mêlées, seventeen people were shot, three fatally.

No one in Washington remembers the carnage, or else they would know that guns in wildlife refuges are a really bad idea. Perhaps the legislators should legalize concealed weapons in congress; that would liven up tedious debates and give the ignorami a tenuous grasp of reality.

25 May 2009
Innovative Expense Accounts
Inspiration comes from many sources, but nothing seems to be a better catalyst for creativity than an expense account. And that brings me to my friend Isabella, who reports for a prominent east coast newspaper.

For years, she’s been turning in receipts for extraordinarily lavish lunches with her “inside contact at the National Security Agency.” Her gravy train ran off the rails last week when some impudent clerk informed her that he’d been researching her claims and discovered, “no such person is employed at the NSA.”

Most people caught filing false claims might have acknowledged such obvious guilt, but not Isabella.

“Are you suggesting that a spy revealing classified government secrets didn’t use his real name?!” she asked. “This comes as quite a shock.”

She laughed, then asked if he had anything else to discuss. The embarrassed accountant said everything was fine.

The best part of this story is that she told it to me over our lunch, for which she was reimbursed $173.39. Nice!

I always wanted to be a secret agent, and now, somewhere in the ledgers of a distant publication, I am.

26 May 2009
Zuzana Licko’s Mrs Eaves
I received a handsome booklet in today’s mail introducing, “Mrs Eaves, a typeface designed by Zuzana Licko.” That announcement pleased me; Zuzana Licko is a fantastic name.

As for Mrs Eaves—now available in both XL Regular and XL Narrow—I’m not sure what to say. (As a pedantic aside, Mrs Eaves is definitely missing her period.) It’s clearly a handsome font, er, typeface, but it’s not of much interest to me. I have some fifteen-hundred megabytes of fonts in my computer; I’ve used perhaps two dozen of them in the last decade.

It all goes back to paper. Or, more accurately, it doesn’t go back to paper.

Long ago, most of my work was realized on paper. Silver halides in gelatin on paper for photographs, ink on paper for words. But now, the finished work is made from pixels, bytes, and other such digital components.

I love working in digital media, but the subtle nuances that differentiate Mrs Eaves from other serif typefaces are mostly lost on a computer monitor. I don’t think I’ll ever collaborate with Mrs Eaves. On a positive note, Zuzana Licko is someone I might enjoy meeting; we shall see.

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27 May 2009
Seventeen Fort Mason, San Francisco, Painted Rails
I photographed the old railway lines in the parking lot near my studio last year, but the project didn’t go very well. Like a novice, I made the mistake of using clever compositional tricks and dynamic lighting. This year, I waited for a rare overcast day, then made forty-one photographs, all with the rail centered statically in the center of the frame.

I threw away the two dozen most interesting images, and I’m relatively pleased that the remaining set, Seventeen Fort Mason, San Francisco, Painted Rails, exhibits the level of tedium for which I strive.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart