Letters to Holly

Thursday, January 24

Back to Comics

I narrowed down the causes of my recent back agony to my new office chair. When I grabbed the former corner office of our most recent departure, I kept her chair and desk set. The chair, I realized, is a four-wheeled torture device, and I traded it out for my old chair, and now my back is in bliss. No more pain.

I've narrowed down my comic proposals to five, keeping the weaker option among them just in case. The trick with that one was coming up with a catchy heroine name after I crafted my snazzy premise. And I'm not sure I've done that; I've settled on a moniker for now, but I don't think it will catch fire for the judges. I've reduced them to smaller paragraphs, and after running them past Your Sister, I'll email them Monday. The problem is that these ideas are practically fully formed (with designs and names), but the proposals need to be small. I'm cutting out the meat to make the platter prettier.

Picture of the Day
Bionic contacts lenses that might replace certain surgeries.

In The News
Kucinich is giving up today on his presidential campaign. His fans are loyal to a fault, but what skunks his chances isn't his ideas but his stature. He simply can't rile up support from casual audiences, and if it wasn't for his Irish wife, he would have received zero mainstream coverage.

The S.C. Democrat primary is tomorrow, and everyone's tired of hearing Obama vs. the Two Clintons. And, barring a second-place win, Edwards is perceived as a lame runner trying to finish a marathon. He can't even get enough bad press to help his cause.

The NY Times endorsed McCain and Hillary, but this comment about Giuliani was the most eye-catching:

"The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square. Mr. Giuliani's arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking. . . . The Rudolph Giuliani of 2008 first shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business, with a secret client list, then exploited his city's and the country's nightmare to promote his presidential campaign."
The stimulus package might not get the Senate rubber stamp that would send it unscathed to the president's desk. If the Senate decides to tinker with rebate amounts, the bill would have to go back to the House and then might not pass Bush's standards. I like the idea of getting $600 from the government, but one wonders:

1) How much this adds to the deficit?
2) How much better the economy would hum along if we all paid less in taxes to begin with?
3) Isn't this a form of welfare?
3) Why are we having to ask these questions during a Republican administration?

Making the rounds today is the comprehensive list of reasons why David Banner became the Hulk on the TV series. Trivia: The name was changed from the comics' "Bruce Banner" because the first name was considered gay. It's also my middle name.

Avoiding the Draft

One of Your Sister's coworkers has restarted her effort to recruit me as a teacher. The last two times she's called, she's given me the hard sell. But she also mentioned an option I'm not so averse to: Reading storybooks at the elementary school. Her husband teaches there, and he likes to bring in guests for storytime. Not only would it give provide a small theatrical outlet, but it would get me out of work.

Picture of the Day
Last year, the U.S. Army paid for subtle advertisements in Marvel comic books. Instead of buying regular full-page ads, they paid instead for army logos and placards to appear inside of comic panels. This year, ABC is doing the same to sell Lost. Below, you'll see a pic of Kate and a drawing of someone who appears to be modeled after Hurley.

Recent comic artists are also drawing celebrities as characters in comics, and Sawyer is obviously starring in a current Marvel comic, probably without the actor's knowledge or permission. You can see more examples from just one title here.

Also, keep in mind that Lost runs on Thursdays starting next week.

Wednesday, January 23

In the News

My dad's having a health scare involving his lymph nodes. The doctors think it might be MRSA as his bloodwork doesn't suggest any tumors. His tests were supposed to come back yesterday but didn't. Hopefully, he'll find out something on Friday. He's taking medicine that doesn't affect his diet or sleep. His side of the family has multiple cancer problems, and Mom's worried about this flaring up in him. He's lost a lot of siblings (but then, he had 12), and unlike the majority of them, Dad stayed thin. Then again, Mom and Dad smoke like chimneys.

Two Three biggish news items hit yesterday.


Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in “Michael Clayton”

Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood”

Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

Tommy Lee Jones in “In the Valley of Elah”

Viggo Mortensen in “Eastern Promises”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”

Javier Bardem in “No Country for Old Men”

Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War”

Hal Holbrook in “Into the Wild”

Tom Wilkinson in “Michael Clayton”

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”

Julie Christie in “Away from Her”

Marion Cotillard in “La Vie en Rose”

Laura Linney in “The Savages”

Ellen Page in “Juno” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in “I’m Not There”

Ruby Dee in “American Gangster”

Saoirse Ronan in “Atonement”

Amy Ryan in “Gone Baby Gone”

Tilda Swinton in “Michael Clayton”

Best animated feature film of the year


“Surf's Up”

Best documentary feature
“No End in Sight”

“Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience”


“Taxi to the Dark Side”


Best foreign language film of the year
“Beaufort” Israel

“The Counterfeiters” Austria

“KatyƄ” Poland

“Mongol” Kazakhstan

“12” Russia

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Falling Slowly” from “Once”

“Happy Working Song” from “Enchanted”

“Raise It Up” from “August Rush”

“So Close” from “Enchanted”

“That’s How You Know” from “Enchanted”

Best motion picture of the year


“Michael Clayton”

“No Country for Old Men”

“There Will Be Blood”

Achievement in visual effects

“The Golden Compass”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”


Adapted screenplay

“Away from Her”

“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

“No Country for Old Men”

“There Will Be Blood”

Original screenplay

“Lars and the Real Girl”

“Michael Clayton”


“The Savages”

I haven't seen a lot of this, although I adored Ratatouille. No Country For Old Men is playing in town, but I don't think I'll get to see it before it's ultimately replaced by Alvin and the Chipmunks. I'm glad to see Blanchett nominated, and I think this is the second straight year she's been nominated in the lead and supporting categories.

Shocking only for the fanfare that precluded his campaign. He was the GOP savior, the star coming off the bench to win one for the team, the new Reagan, the rare celebrity Republican who could turn his fame into political success. But he entered so late into the race that he never got his sea legs, and his alleged fame didn't play with the young crowd. Also, his heart wasn't in it. I mean, look at the guy. What in his bearing suggests he's gonna wear a dumb smile and wave to the crowds? He's a cranky old man. That kind of figure can't win an election. This is why Cheney didn't run for the top spot. I enjoy the debate about who he will support now as if he has any clout he can bestow onto another candidate. Thompson ran because the other guys supposedly couldn't win; why would he back one of them?

I only saw the guy in Brokeback Mountain, but I marveled at his created voice and mannerisms. He deserved an Oscar. Of course, we geeks are shaken because he's the new Joker in this summer's Batman film.

Picture of the Day
For just
£100,000, you too can reserve your seat aboard Virgin's space plane.

From ThisIsLondon.co.uk:

The Virgin Galactic spacecraft, which was being unveiled in New York today, is already under construction. Test flights are expected to begin in June, with commercial flights starting 12 months later.

More than 200 potential astronauts are believed to have already paid deposits for the 100,000 flights, including actress Victoria Principal, scientist Stephen Hawking, and Princess Beatrice.

Flights will last for two hours and will include four and a half minutes of weightlessness.

The 60-ft ship is expected to reach an altitude of 110km - 68 miles - and will be launched from underneath a mother ship called White Knight.

Once the mother ship reaches 50,000 feet, which was the cruising altitude of Concorde, the spaceship is released and its rocket is fired, accelerating the craft up to 2,500mph, and taking it to 110km, officially making its passengers astronauts.

There's no way I'm going up on the first flight.

Tuesday, January 22

We Saw Shows

I spent some hours pounding out and refining proposals for the super-heroine contest. I now have five really good stories, and I'll spend the next week refining them further. I don't think I'll get a full ten complete, but I'd rather not dilute my submissions for the sake of numbers. Your Sister is pushing me to apply for the creative director job, but I don't have the necessary experience. They want seven years of book publishing, a very different creature from magazines and newspapers.

A daylong snow shower didn't postpone the Saturday production of Top Secret, a reading theatre play about the Washington Post fighting the Nixon Administration to publish the Pentagon Papers on Vietnam. This is the show featuring Your Sister's crush guy, but it also gave us a pack of Those Guys, supporting actors you see constantly without knowing their names. It was a good show, and it flew by within ten hours. Your Sis sneaked over to Mast general to buy me a sack of Krackle. We spent Sunday watching quality football.

I had Monday off, and I managed to see Cloverfield, the NY monster movie shot like Blair Witch. It's good. It's not much more than an experiment of style, but it succeeds in being both harrowing and cool. Maybe a bit better than The Mist. Including those two films and 28 Weeks Later, I've had good luck with horror movies lately. Once again, I shared a theatre with an idiot who brought along a child too young for this kind of film, and naturally the kid freaked. I don't blame him one bit, but that father should be strung up.

Picture of the Day
A new picture of Mercury

In the News
The Democrat campaign ads are breeding like rabbits as the local weekend primary approaches. Edwards has no chance. None. The Huckabee campaign has ended the press transportation to cover its events, and the Florida events have been scaled back. Giuliani, who is banking on his first win there, is still an underdog to Romney. Thompson may pull out of the running as early as today.