Letters to Holly

Monday, May 8

Le Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible 3 is a heckuva movie. It starts hard, keeps a frenetic pace, and doesn't get dumb. It's a tight, tight film without the kind of breath-catching scenes one might expect. We understand the investments of the characters only as much as needed to work the plot and hook the audience. There is no fat to trim. Great action sequences, and, because his screen time is kept at a premium, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is a credible, spooky villain. To be honest though, you could plug anyone into the Tom Cruise role, and the film would still work. He provides nothing except a determined glare and his standard agape expression that signifies he's thinking on his feet. The supporting cast is charming, but one wonders if the lead actress is supposed to look exactly like Katie Holmes. 'Cause she does, and that makes even the most casual of gossip consumers (hi there) wonder if we're supposed to cheer for the real-life couple as we watch these characters jump through hoops. Before the film, we got to see the trailers for Superman Returns and Pirates of the Caribbean 2, and they look even better on the giant screen. Nacho Libre looks like a scream. When the film ended, the theatre people immediately turned on the house lights and cut off the projector in the middle of the credits. It was the most jarring a gesture to make, short of being picking us up and heaving us onto the sidewalk.

On Saturday, I tidied up the house and lawn and did the laundry while Your Sister worked at school. We watched Titus, the Julie Taymor adaptation of Titus Andronicus. She thinks it's easily Shakespeare's worst play (it's also his first), but the production design is dazzling. Anthony Hopkins and Alan Cumming compete to steal the show, but Jessica Lange is fascinating to watch. I never expected to see her deliver Shakespeare, and she does it right. I finished up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It doesn't feel like 700+ pages, but it's one seriously dark story. The last quarter is as spooky and dire as anything one could possibly write in a kid's book. The next books I read in the series will be the first for which there isn't a movie adaptation. All of the books so far have been vastly superior to the films, and Goblet has so much more in character, plot, and substance than the corresponding film. Still, it's 700 freaking pages. I can use this to crush garlic.

On Sunday, we met Valerie. She arrived in Brevard about 4:30 and we picked her up at a local church parking lot. Her French Rotary club arrived there from Black Mountain, and we got to meet all seven members of the group. They’ve been in the area for six weeks, meeting other Rotary Clubs and seeing the sights. They are all, except for Freddy, tiny people. Slim and short. But they have great attitudes and are thoroughly, infectious cheerful. They are conversant in English to varying degrees. Valerie isn’t the most proficient, but we can talk without much problem. We brought her to the house and set her up in the guest room. We got to know each other a bit as Your Sister and I argued over how to make tomato mozzarella salad. Valerie is a professional artist, creating trompe l’oeil paintings for houses and businesses. She also just had her first painting exhibited in a museum. I tried out some French and apparently didn’t sound too bad. She showed us her portfolio, and I showed her a copy of the comic story I did last year – the published dream story, not the as-yet-unpublished Podunk tale; the publisher dropped the ball on that one.

About two hours later, we went to a gathering at the Averette’s house. She teaches French at the high school, and he’s a town lawyer. He helped us close on the house, and he officiated the formal wedding. The party was for the local Rotary and French clubs to meet the visitors. The host families don’t speak French, so this was the touring troupe’s chance to talk easily. Valerie told at least one of her group that I spoke French and, well, wackiness ensued. There were maybe 30 people there, and Your Sister and I were in the minority who was not fluent in French. I can follow along sometimes, and I can answer a little if asked a simple question. That’s it. So I snagged the perfect position for the evening: bartender. Folks came up, picked their poison and I doled it out with small French phrases and cheers. Sante is short for a votre sante which means “to your health”).When they say merci, I offer a certainment. This is what I did the entire time. I got to talk to some of the kids of the adults and Your Sister sat with me to eat. One of the kids is her student and said I was rumored for a time to be an imaginary creation of Your Sister.

We got home about 10 o’clock. It was colder last night than expected so we offered Valerie the electric blanket. She didn’t know what this was, and we assured her we both used it and survived. It was safe. She joked about meeting her friends today and them smelling something burning. I dropped her off at the local bakery and she had her first croissant since leaving France. The group has a set schedule, but it’s pretty flexible. We asked Kathy, Travis, and Tonia to come over tonight for dinner with Valerie, but Valerie may join her group in a trip to Asheville for clubbing. The local organizer is to let us know who’s doing what, and I told Valerie to do what strikes her, and we’ll work around it.

It’s going well. The concern I had about conversations and attitudes was unfounded. We’re not subjecting her to wings ‘n’ rasslin, though. She’s been through enough.

Sketch Day

It’s getting there. This is my first crack at drawing your head. Don't worry; it'll get better. I found some online reference pictures of the Han blaster, and I’ll redo that next.

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