Lately, on this blog, I’ve been doing a lot of culling from older posts, waking and copying previously written posts from my first blog within the hibernated storehouse where I keep it on Blogger, then pasting them down on a new blank “page” here, on Art Regard, where I look at them with fresh eyes, perhaps editing lightly or heavily as need be in order to make them more comprehensible. More precise. Less obtuse. Often, this involves making them less “humorous” as well.

I put quotes around humorous because, while there is definitely something funny about my humor, at times, it’s even beyond me; seemingly so avant-garde, it seems, that even its author isn’t all that sure about it.


Speaking of my humor, here’s the most recent episode: 


I hired my son-in-law, Erik, to install an aftermarket cruise control system into my Ford F-150, as I’m going to be taking a cross-country trip to Bend, Oregon in a few weeks, the home of ArcLight Dynamics, to pick something up related to the public art project that’s commencing. Possibly, Erik will join. Maybe Sophie as well. More on that later. Anyhow, what he thought was going to be a fairly straightforward install on Saturday turned into a bit of a headache – especially the fact that once he’d reconnected and soldered all the wires, following the unit’s poorly written instructions to the T, the truck’s horn wouldn’t stop blaring, requiring him to hastily detach a few wires until he could resume the installation yesterday, at last delivering the upgraded truck and its key to me last night. 

Excited to give the cruise control a whirl, I bade Nan, Nate, Peter, Sophie, and Erik adieu, left the house, got into the truck, turned the key, hit the lights, put it in gear, and headed for the highway. Once up to speed, I checked to see if the cruise worked. It did. Excellent. 


Then I had an even more excellent thought – genius, really. After taking an exit, crossing over the highway, and beginning to head back in the opposite direction, I called Erik and hit the phone’s “speaker” button. 

As soon as he picked up, and I began intermittently hitting the truck’s horn. In what I hoped sounded like an understatedly concerned tone, I asked him if he could hear the noise. 


Baaaa-ba-baa-baaaa-baaaaaaaa-b-baa-b-b-baaaaaa… 

Over the sound of the horn, I could just make it out that he said he could, and he sounded a bit disquieted, too. As, I’m sure, were the people in the cars nearby, who were, as a result, giving me a wide berth.

Just as I felt Erik might be starting to pull his hair out, I let him in on the joke. We all had a good laugh. Meaning, primarily, me, myself, and I. 


It can be fun to be a father-in-law.

Speaking of fun and genius, I have a contention about the continuum from imbecility to Einstein. Here it is:


I don’t think the continuum from low IQ to high is a straight line. It’s more like a clock face, with imbecility at the 12 o’clock position. As you travel clockwise around the circle, the intelligence quotient keeps rising, rising, rising, until you at last reach the 12 o’clock position again. 
  

But to get to the truly genius end of the continuum, you have to continue beyond 12 o’clock to, say, somewhere around the two or three o’clock position.


As a result, there’s a fifteen to twenty percent overlap between the lowest and the highest outliers, and as a consequence, 


it can be really hard to tell if what you’re hearing coming out of a person’s mouth, not to mention written on their, ahem, blog, is one or the other.

Me, I essentially like to keep you guessing. 


I agree with John Cleese, in his lecture on how to be more creative, that humor is often essential to the enterprise. Hence, I now justify employing humor liberally at times, both in my writing and in my non-virtual life, although I’ve toned it down since the following episode, which occurred at a college faculty meeting over a decade ago.

Now, I was a staff member of the Art Department at the time, not faculty – though when students called me Professor, I didn’t disabuse them of the notion – and, relatively new to academia as I was at the time, being asked to attend a faculty meeting to update the regular attendees on news related to the shop felt like being asked to the ball.

In the meeting, when it came my my turn to speak, I was succinct and businesslike. That is, until I was asked a straightforward question, with nothing behind it, from one of the art historians present.

“The shop is busy this year, isn’t it?” she asked me.  

(Editor’s note: at the school, courses are taken one at a time, each for a three and a half week long ‘block’, with four such blocks per semester – a total of eight over the typical school year. In the 3D Arts Building I supervised, sculpture and design-related courses are taught on one side of the building, in a large classroom, and the other side, where I typically hung out, has an expansive wood and metals shop, where students work on their projects. Typically, the art faculty would try to give the shop a few block-long breaks from heavy use, but not this year, and not, increasingly, in the years to come, until I resigned in 2016. Hence, perhaps my reply was due to feeling just a bit like the veritable frog in the frying pan.)

“Yes,” I replied, “there’s been a class in the building each block this year, and there were a few blocks where at least two art classes used the space pretty heavily – 3rd and 4th blocks in particular – with painting students coming through twice each of those blocks to build stretchers and panels [then to paint on back in the painting studio in another building], not to mention sculpture classes and senior year art majors using the space a lot as well…”

It was difficult to give a concise yet accurate picture of my busy world, which really could have used a second supervisor. I probably should have stopped there, but I didn’t. I delivered my next statement absolutely deadpan.

“…but that’s ok, because next block, I plan to recover by locking Carl Reed and his class out of the shop altogether.”

Professor Reed wasn’t present at the time, but in my peripheral vision, I could tell that one of the co-chairs, who already knew of my outsized penchant for playfulness, was quickly and ever so slightly shaking her head – a helpful warning sign for me to halt. She knew my words would be lost on a number of those present, for historical reasons I won’t get into. 

Now, I have a good relationship with Carl, which, side note, makes the lack of a cigar, as originally mentioned in the photo-centric piece I did on this blog about him and his work, just a bit puzzling to me. Although we can be serious, much of our conversation, back when we saw each other more regularly, and, evidently, up to this very post, is basically dry one-upmanship. I had never locked him out of the shop, and had no future plans to do so. I like to think everyone in the room knew that I realized I didn’t have the power, nor the desire. 

But I like to think a lot of things that turn out to be erroneous. Just ask my wife. 

Had the American ambassador responded to Khruschchev’s “We will bury you!” line with, “Buddy you’re a boy, make a big noise…” from Queen’s anthem We will rock you, slapping his hands on the desk and clapping out the rhythm, I feel the resulting Russian reception would’ve been less uncomfortable.

Accordingly, the strange, deadpan line hung in the room like a bad odor you can’t deny having emitted and, after an awkward silence which seemed to last for minutes, the agenda moved on to the next person. No follow up. No smiles. No laughter. 

Mercifully, I developed a genuine tickle in my throat that caused a coughing fit which in turn had me precipitously bowing out of the meeting, to no one’s disappointment, least of all mine.

That was the last time I was asked to join a faculty meeting. 

And here’s the thing – for a while, afterward, I thought I was an idiot. In time, however, especially as I began to realize that such meetings are just about the last place I wanted to be, I discovered that once again, 

my humor had outsmarted even me, if that were possible.

Like I said, genius. 

What I have to say about mixed messages may, in a later post, segue in a more direct way to art, and, more central to me at present, mixing up metaphoric motifs. Including one highly possible result of such a wholesale change up – that of eliciting a somewhat similar reaction from viewers to that which I got in the faculty meeting. 

For today, however, it seems I’ve developed another uncontrollable cough, causing me to need to duck out of the virtual world, hurriedly down another mug of starter fluid, and head over to a friend’s workshop, there to work on a component for my new art studio.

Especially in comparison to an faculty meeting, it’s a place I’d much, much rather be. 

Seriously.