2009 Notebook: Weak XLVIII
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26 November 2009
No. 720 (cartoon)
Does our love mean nothing to you?

No, it means less than nothing.

At least our contempt is strong!

27 November 2009
Upside-Down Nutty Putty Death
I’ve never been the least bit interested in spelunking. After reading about the recent demise of John Jones, that activity has even less appeal. Jones died after being trapped, upside down, in a Utah cave for over twenty-four hours. He’s still there.

Experts don’t know exactly what killed the twenty-six-year old medical student; hypothermia is a likely suspect. I have an unsupported suspicion that he perished from claustrophobia. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be trapped upside down in an eighth of a square meter aperture in cold, dank darkness, and I’m not going to even try. Even worse, he died in the ludicrously-named Nutty Putty Cave, where his body will remain forever, or until someone opens the recently sealed cave. Whichever comes first, I suppose.

I’ll continue to stay on the exterior of mountains. Should I fall to my death there—not a bad way to go—the end will come quickly, and I may even enjoy a great view on the way down.

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28 November 2009
Giant Scotch Egg
Michael and Lucile have a brilliant Thanksgiving strategy: they host their Thanksgiving dinner the day after Thanksgiving. That way, they can invite anyone they want without worrying about competing dinner invitations.

One of the guests brought an unusual dish, a Scotch egg. As the name denotes, the concoction was developed in the land of deep-fried food: it’s a shelled, hard-boiled egg wrapped in ground meat and breading. And, of course, fried in a deep cauldron of fat.

I’d never seen a Scotch egg on this side of the Atlantic before. This sighting was twice as unusual in that it was made from an ostrich egg. The massive ovum was too huge to fit inside the large turkey, and that’s just as well. If it did, it wouldn’t be long before someone would wrap the bird in bacon and deep fry it too.

And speaking of consuming obscenely huge quantities of food, I wonder why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with a mere turkey when eating an ostrich would be so much more gluttonous?

29 November 2009
Scratching Thia’s Acnestis
I didn’t know what to do when Thia asked me to scratch her acnestis. She’s a trusted friend, so I knew she wouldn’t ask me to do anything with which I’d be uncomfortable. No, my problem was such simpler: I didn’t know where to find her acnestis. I wondered if it was one of those female parts men should know about but rarely do, so I asked her.

She laughed, and may or may not have blushed a bit as well. She then explained that the acnestis is the part of an animal’s back that the animal can’t reach.

And so, I scratched her acnestis, and enjoyed the fleeting feeling of not being completely useless.

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30 November 2009
Seventy-One Charles Shaw Wine Corks
For this month’s project, I decided to photograph one hundred wine corks. The tedium was too much even for me, so I stopped with number seventy-one, a nice prime number.

Once again, I was pleasantly surprised when Seventy-One Charles Shaw Wine Corks looked quite different than I’d anticipated. Some friends thought they looked like planets or stars, others said the images reminded them of peering into a microscope. Despite being pleased with the photographs, I’m a bit concerned that I’m repeating myself by making another set of closeups.

[As an aside, all the corks came from bottles of Charles Shaw wine that cost less than two dollars each. And although I rarely talk about technique, Kelly asked how I got them to hold still. That was easy: they’ve been piling up in my studio for years, so I only photographed the old ones that had stopped growing.]

1 December 2009
A Disappointing Epiphany
I’ve been collecting quotes about art and other creative pursuits for decades. Earlier this millennium I arranged nine hundred and ninety-nine of them into a thirty-six chapter book. I wrote a brief introduction to each chapter, then looked for a publisher. I received absolutely no commercial interest over the years, so I recently decided to publish it myself.

I reread my introductions, and thought they were uniformly amazing. Unfortunately, they were amazingly bad, painfully trite, and poorly written. I’m so very fortunate that the original version of the book was never published. It took a while for me to realize why I generally like these notebook entries—even the ones I wrote over a decade ago—but hated what I’d written about art.

These daily entries are just little stories and anecdotes, simple stuff. I don’t put a lot of time into writing them or editing them; they’re fine for what they are. With the art book, though, I tried to philosophize and pontificate. I was way out of my shallow depth, especially when my poorly-written words were sandwiched between hundreds of concise and superior quotations.

Curiously, I’m not really bothered by the fact that I’m not a very good writer, especially since the book of quotes will be much better without my writing in it.

2 December 2009
Dueling in Paraguay
I ended a long lull in my conversation with Devorah by mentioning that dueling is legal in Paraguay. If both are registered blood donors, that is.

“Bollocks!” she replied with characteristic candor. “That’s just another Internet legend.”

“What difference does it make?” I asked. “I’m never going to shoot anyone, and I’m probably never going to Paraguay, either.”

That led to a discussion about dueling, which was especially enjoyable since both of us knew virtually nothing about it; we weren’t unduly constrained by too many facts.

I declined Devorah’s challenge to a water balloon duel, and that was the end of that.

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©2009 David Glenn Rinehart