Letters to Holly

Sunday, March 4


We met up with Travis and Kathy on Friday for dinner, and he asked me to join him and some other guys for a man-date to see 300. We're going to see my parents next weekend for mom's birthday, but I'll be able to squeeze in. While the guys see the film, the wives will have a ladies night. Then, of course, Your Sis and I will go watch 300.

I woke up early Saturday, sketched the comic a bit, and went to work on the yard. I always prefer to rake the leaves at winter's end so all of them can be gathered at one time. We have plenty of space behind the tree line to stash them. I also cleared out the creek obstructions. It was one of those things that develop organically. I dump some leaves, see the high waterline, yank out some creek junk, notice the other patches of junk backing up the water, tackle those, and go back to raking. The iPod is nice for this kind of work. I can even listen to NPR; the local Saturday lineup is stellar: Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, This American Life, Fresh Air recap, The Ticket, Money Matters, On the Media, All Things Considered, and Prairie Home Companion. Your Sis came out about an hour later to plant bulbs we got from my parents. We grabbed lunch at the pub later, and then Your Sis, brace yourself, napped. I worked on the comic. I'm almost through with penciling, and I finished up the hardest panel with the strong perspective.

But at 4, we split up. I had the poker party, and she was off to Greenville. This was my first tournament game, and we only played Texas Hold 'Em. This is the game you see most often on TV because it's extended and relies on individual betting on communally held cards. I knew no one else there aside from Big Mama, but it was a friendly gang. Some saw the play but didn't recognize me even after looking at the cast photos. I've got more hair, a beard, an earring, and no accent. Her husband Mike ran us through the house rules. I knew the game fine, but the betting rules were new. We had randomly assigned seats at two tables (it was me, Mike, and five women at one), and the betting increments increased every 15 minutes. We all paid $10 to play $2,500 worth of chips. You began with a stack of $5 chips as the smallest increment, but within an hour the minimum bet was $40. And when you got to the last two cards, all antes doubled. This was done to move the game along as we had 13 people playing.

I have two rules of playing poker:
1) if you have a face card, bet at least for one round to see the next three dealt cards; and
2) play further if you have an 8 or a queen. These are my lucky cards. And sure enough, the first hand I won was a split pot with a Q8 full house.

I wore my new skull-and-crossbones socks for luck (with no idea if they were lucky). I did fairly well to start, but some of the gals were brand new to the game. We bent the rules a bit initially to make it fun and more than fair. They picked it up quick, and Mike helped me with some bet strategies. He was the first one out from our table, by the way. Then we lost two more players, and the players spread out again among the two tables. And we kept playing. And playing.

Long story short, we played for six straight hours. We started right before 7 p.m. and ended about 12:45 a.m. I stayed at my table and snacked throughout. I drank two of my beloved Smirnoff Ices early and then switched to soda to stay sober during the big bets. When the game ended, the minimum bet was $1,00 dollars. And I was one of the last three, which meant I would get a piece of the tournament pot. There was $130 to be given to the last three players. Last place got $26. First place got $64. I played pretty conservative but did pursue some hands foolishly, hoping for luck on the last card. Sometimes I got it. Sometimes I thought I got it until I learned what the other players were holding.

My best hand was a full house, the fourth best you can get. I also won a hand with the high card, the lowest victory you can claim. But I got to the last three, and then we played against each other for about half an hour, just picking away at each other's stacks. I did bet everything on one hand(which we could only do later in the tournament), but the other player folded. And then we lost a player, and it was just two of us, me and Big Mama. And after six fucking hours, we decided to split the pot. We played a game only for bragging rights (I lost to a high card), but walked away from the table with $52 and a nice showing for my first time with them. I drove home blasting my radio to stay awake and got home at 1:40. I did get to hear the late-night conspiracy radio show, and that's always fun. Did you know gray aliens talk to humans telepathically? Did you know the FAA is hiding evidence of UFOs? Did you know that when I was 10, I would have sworn these were so?

I was dead on Sunday. I barely slept because I chugged soda to stay awake for the game, and couldn't rest at home with that lingering buzz. I drew a bit, bought lunch with the poker winnings, got groceries with Your Sis and that included the weekly crackuccino to help me remain standing (also bought with poker winnings). She worked on school stuff, and we split the laundry while I did research for the comic. I thought I only had a few panels left. But I can't find a decent painting of Norse apple imagery. It looks like I'll need to draw that particular panel, and I'm inclined to work in the intricate Norse patterns. Maybe I can escape that. I also may need to draw the Arthurian panel after all. I'll definitely finish the pencil work this weekend and then start inking. I may scan the pencil work, get the lettering out of the way on the PC, and then scan the inked pages and place them under the word balloons. I want this to look sharp, I want to improve on what I've done before. and I have exactly four weeks to do it. That should be plenty of time. I would have worked more on the comic yesterday, but I didn't trust my addled brain.

Picture of the Day
This has been called a new Spidey 3 poster, but it's missing all the text. It's still cool. Can the filmmakers make a third film that stands well along the first two. Can it possibly be better than the second film?

The black costume -- and the villain that adopts it later -- is almost a franchise unto itself, and the comic fans are soiling themselves with glee. I'm from the generation before the black costume, so I maintained an arm's length from it. There was no reason to move away from the classic outfit, reasoned my young mind, and that conclusion stands. Peter didn't even initially change costumes for psychological reasons; his old one was shredded and an alien costume machine gave him a new, different one. And then he found out it was sentient and nasty, and it moved to someone who had a reason to hate Peter and a new villain was born. The trailers suggest that's what's going to happen onscreen. And I must need more sleep because I am making with the blah-blah something fierce.

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