Letters to Holly

Friday, January 18

Snow Day

We got hammered by snow Thursday, shocking everyone because the weathermen got it completely right. They said the snow would start about 7 pm Wednesday night, and by 8:30, our deck was completely white. We both had Thursday off, and we moseyed about town. There was one restaurant open -- one -- and we had Hawaiian pizza, the traditional winter feast of tis modest hamlet.

I called work this morning and discovered Asheville got virtually nothing compared to us, and yes the office was open. I shoveled the driveway in record time (wrenching it into utter agony, I must admit; I'm getting old) and drove in. We're expecting more snow tonight, threatening tomorrow's play starring Your Sister's high-school celebrity crush.

I had two opportunities drop in my lap.

1. A writing contest for a new creator-owned super heroine. A large publisher wants to start a new series with a brand-new character, and they're taking brief descriptions from applicants. Then voters will determine whose proposal becomes a comic. It's comics version of American Idol. I have plenty of these characters ready to package this way, and I'm giving myself a ten-proposal quote to fill.

2. A local book publisher needs a creative director, and the job sounds right up my alley. Unfortunately, it's also in Asheville, so unless it pays much more than the current job, it does me no good to apply. The commute would still be a problem.

I'll keep you informed.

Moving Picture of the Day
Your Sister says hi.

In the News
The GOP primary in South Carolina is tomorrow, and Huckabee is courting the locals by equating homosexuality with bestiality and supporting the state's right to fly the Confederate flag.

Wednesday, January 16

Watching American Idol

As Your Sister's semester winds down, a few students and teachers are letting the pressure get to them. One kid still owes her the final pages of his research papers after pretending he didn't know how to send an email attachment. Another has her mom ask Your Sis what could be done to help her grades, but she asked on the last day of classes. A teacher decided she wasn't going to help in pre-exam remediation despite the standing order from Your Sis.

American Idol started its seventh season last night, and I asked her if she wanted to try it. Maybe give her some conversational ammo for the students. The auditions are my favorite part. I appreciate the quick movement from applicant to applicant, and I enjoy the assurance that there are people who sing worse than I. In contrast, the second half of the show is a parade of whining and griping, both from the contestants and judges. The first part of the season is a game show; the second is a reality show.

We saw the usual stream of variety. Some incredibly, unfairly talented people were also gorgeous. These people are the next evolutionary advances ,and we poor Morlocks can only scheme to steal their fire. Some people were clearly seeking TV time: One guy dressed in the Slave Leia outfit and was allowed to come back after he promised to wax his chest hair. He did. Sang about three notes before getting yanked.

But the ending was a singular oddity. There were two girls left: a brunette and a blonde. The brunette went first. She dressed up in her costume from the Los Angeles Star Wars Convention -- Star Wars belt buckle, clip-on hair rolls, tight black dress, silver platform shoes. In her pre-singing interviews, she bragged she wasn't wearing make-up, made a Star Trek insult, and impersonated Chewbacca. She galloped into the audition and made nervous conversation (I can't imagine how anxious that scenario must be for the borderline talented). Then she sang. And she wasn't bad. A little soft, maybe (again, nerves), but she had a nice, even sound. The problem was that she was jittery and socially awkward. She was a nerd.

And when she lost, she went off to the cameras. Complained that the show only wanted cookie-cutter looks and voices and needed an "oddball" like her. But while she was ranting, the show aired a montage of the previous two hours' winners, and she had a point. I couldn't tell if the show was trying to prove her wrong with the majority of petite women and their blinding white smiles or if we were supposed to nod in silent agreement, that yes, it's unfair that society wants pretty things to stare at for six months at a time.

Ultimately, her adamant goofiness was her poison pill. She set those judges up to see her as an insincere applicant, and she dared them to give her a pass. Anyone who's seen the show -- anyone who knows of the show -- is aware that applicants are prepared to be pop stars. And even pseudo-punk pop girls wear makeup. Presentation is crucial to your audition. Her outfit was a protest to the show's bread-and-butter. She was borderline, and if she had slipped off her high horse and met them halfway, she might be in Hollywood right now instead of becoming another failed contestant bitching on camera into her cell phone.

She wasn't as offensively stupid as the veterinarian student rocker who went apeshit against Simon despite what might have be the most pleasant rejection from all three judges. Clearly, when she got on camera to curse him out, she had a prepared speech. Unfortunately, she scrambled it and came across as a loon.

Oh, and the thin blonde after the Star wars girl was approved after offering a weaker audition. She won on personality.

I don't know if we'll watch again. It's entirely Your Sister's call. I'd be curious to watch more.

Picture of the Day
The latest picture from this year's Indiana Jones film.

In The News
Even though Romney took Michigan, the GOP is only accepting half the delegates as punishment for the early primary. He may have taken the state, but he doesn't get the full benefits.

South Carolina comes an even bigger primary now that Romney, Huckabee, and McCain have all won at least one state. All three, Thompson, and Paul are running ads here. Giuliani is a non-entity, betting on Florida for his first primary win. Obama and Edwards have TV ads, but I don't remember any for Clinton. To be fair, we don't watch much of the local affiliates. American Idol and Terminator are both on FOX, and only football and Lost make us watch ABC.

The GOP primary in SC is Saturday, and the Democrats' is a week later.

Tuesday, January 15

A Short Meeting

The education board held its regular meeting at the local library to recognize the new nationally certified teachers. We knew two of the three. Your Sis also got to stand up as one of the county's 40+ certified educators. There were snacks.

Before we slunk away, one of the board members noted that they would visit school campuses to personally see the items needing repair. He made a point to address all the principals (absent and present) to say he only wanted to see those items and not be subjected to a "dog-and-pony show." I can appreciate a non-nonsense approach. I'm sure these folks have to glad-hand their way through weekly needless and time-consuming formality.

(In fact they instigated some last night. The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance. The only flag was the outdoor lighted banner, and no one could see it from our room. We all rose, covered our heart, turned to the nearest door, and pledged allegiance to the buffet bar.) Anyway, this particular board member's delivery suggested a cowboy attitude I'm sure he cribbed from his favorite radio talk-show host. Maybe he was hoping to impress a newspaper reporter.

We watched the second episode of the Terminator series, and Your Sis loves it much more than the weak Bionic Woman reboot they tried in the fall. Penny from Lost (Desmond's girl) is now a supporting character on the series, and I don't know what this will mean for her Lost character.

Picture of the Day
Is this thing on?

Monday, January 14

Catching Up

Your Sister spent much of the weekend grading papers as the semester ends this week. I used the quiet time to try my first run of 2008, and I'm feeling it a bit two days later. I ran about 2 miles with s small walking break, and it was my best chance to try the new running shirt. It's incredibly tight. Indecent, even. But it helps me stay upright while I run.

The comic script is moving well. I take breaks to step back and see if this is developing into what I want instead of organically blossoming into crud. So far, so good, I think.

The NFL playoffs this weekend brought some surprises, and Your Sister wasn't happy to remember that I picked the two remaining AFC teams (New England, San Diego), the latter beating her Colts yesterday in an upset. This leaves next weekend's games as:

San Diego vs. New England
San Diego's game yesterday left them beat up, and they might limp to their game against the Patriot machine.

New York vs. Green Bay
New York has gotten hot at just the right time and have to play in front of the most rabid fanbase in the league.

These will be good games.

Your Sister proposed a double-event Valentine's date: We'll catch a play at her old college in the afternoon and see a wrestling PPV in person that night.

Per her request, we watched the first episode of the new Terminator series last night, and she seemed to like it. She's a big fan of the films.

Picture of the Day
A big shuttle photo.

In the News
I watched some C-SPAN Michigan coverage. McCain isn't offering much but assurances that he'll encourage young people to join the military, and he'll get Bin Laden. He's doddering, and it's a shame that he missed his best chance to win the White House because of dirty politics in South Carolina in 2000. The state's largest paper endorsed him this weekend.

The current Edwards TV ad for South Carlina (his home state) is a weak bit of pandering to the blue collars. I haven't seen an Obama ad since Christmas.

Rumors say Giuliani has stopped paying his campaign staff. He has no presence in South Carolina.

The talk-show hosts are clearly backing Thompson and were giddy over his performance in the Thursday debate. He's running on a heavy immigration platform, and that's essentially it. He's now bickering with Huckabee to make headlines.