Letters to Holly

Thursday, April 24

Mix CD

I handed over a new mix CD for Your Sister. I listen to a regular podcast called Coverville dedicated to playing covers or originals of songs many don't realize are covers. It's hit and miss, and the host tends to get into ruts; how many covers for Umbrella, Crazy, Hey Yeah or Hallelujah can one hear? The variety of the podcast makes it consistently interesting as familiar songs swoop through bluegrass or ska translations. I've listened to it for a few years now and kept the best episodes to hear particular songs. But thanks to the free Audacity software, I can clip those songs and ditch the rest of the file. This is what I did for her, making an anthology of the most effecting covers.

1. Hot Rod Lincoln Bill Kirchen
I don't know the original, but this cover distinguishes itself when the band imitates dozens of other musicians halfway through.

2. Changed the Locks Tom Petty
Originally by Lucinda Williams

3. Don't Stop Believing Petra Hayden
A one-woman a cappella cover.

4. Girls Just Want To Have Fun Greg Lazwell
A very slow cover using only the piano.

5. Creep Clockwork
A capella. Radiohead's Creep may be the best song of the '90s, the immediate descendant of the Police's Every Breath You Take. The simple chord structure helps it move to other genres smoothly.

6. Better Be Home Soon Casey Chambers
Originally by Crowded House

7. Something About You Anthony David
The original, by Level 42, is one of the best '80s songs. It never lost its luster.

8. 3 is the Magic Number Jellydots
Originally from Schoolhouse Rock. I didn't get to see the ACT production.

9. Somewhere Over The Rainbow Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
This is the Hawaiian version, the one sung note-for-note recently on American Idol. I first heard it in Season One of Lost, back when each episode ended with a musical montage.

10. Short People King Singers
This is Randy Newman's infamous song, done a cappella.

11. Hope That I Don't Fall In Love Amiliana Tourini
Originally by Tom Waits.

12. Hey, Jude Wilson Pickett
Originally the the Rolling Stones. No, Sex Pistols.

13. Mama Told Me Not to Come Randy Newman
This is actually the original. Three Dog Night covered it and made it famous.

14. The Gambler Johnny Cash
Originally by Kenny Rogers.

15. Take On Me Sarah Bareilles
Originally by A-Ha. She's the women whose Not Gonna Write You A Love Song is everywhere now.

16. Common People Joe Jackson and William Shatner
Originally by Pulp. Shatner speaks his lyrics, and the production is stellar.

I'm gauzed up, and the wound continues to seep.

Lost comes back tonight at 10 p.m.

Picture of the Day
A scarf that looks like bacon.

Wednesday, April 23

The Story of My First Running Accident

Well, now I know that I have declared war against someone who employs voodoo.

I decided to run a different route yesterday and turned onto a road that sprouted off into gravel. A car was headed in my direction and stopped suddenly when the driver saw the gravel. Tuesday was a weird day for drivers as I had close shaves in both commutes, and I was sure he'd back into me. I kept my eye on him but didn't stop running, and I stumbled in a pothole. Down goes Frazier.

I scraped my knee, and it wouldn't have been so gruesome had I not banged up my knees with bike wrecks when I was younger. I have thin scar tissue, and it went away easily. I was half a mile from home, and there wasn't much pain; I decided to run as much as I could. It turned out to be a bad running day. I had breathing trouble, and a bug flew into my eye. But I jogged for close to 20 minutes. My knee was a horror movie by the time I got home to clean it up, and I hope I increased my street cred by running with this caked mess on my leg.

It's not so sore this morning. I'm bandaged and limping slightly. This is nothing compared to those crashes of yore such as when the bike rusted apart into two pieces, and I belly flopped on the road. That required the good people of the emergency room.

Dad called. He had another chemo yesterday. His blood work is fine, and he's gained four pounds in two weeks. He aims for 1,000 calories a meal. He's halfway through his chemo and plans to go back to work in June.

Picture of the Day
I'm in a Hanks mood lately. I watched Cast Away twice recently and picked up a free copy of Philadelphia when I bought the Cloverfield DVD.

Tuesday, April 22

The Story of My First Comic Book

So, you can say you ran in the Boston marathon. And I, the itinerant jogger, can only claim measly local 5ks.

Fine. I see how it is.


I'll go to Chicago or New York and sneak into their marathons too. Or I'll run in drag in the women's Olympic race this summer.

I'll show you all.

Your Mom, you should know, is tickled that her daughter and son-in-law are doing any kind of running.

During a downtown stroll this weekend, we ducked into the local antique store. They sell old magazines and whatever comics someone has brought in. While the comics are usually piddling, they all sit on an old-fashioned spinner rack -- the kind that used to stand in grocery and drug stores -- and I would kill to have one. The store won't sell theirs though (I've asked), and it taunts me whenever I walk by the front windows of the store.

I checked the rack this weekend, and someone had brought in their load of 1970s horror comics: Godzilla, Man-Thing, Tomb of Dracula, and assorted others. I didn't really care for them, but I will keep my eyes open for work by particular artists. When Marvel started their horror comics, they were handing them to whoever could slap together a script and dribble ink on an artboard. I never heard of some of these folks, and the comics didn't crank my engine.

However, I did find something I never, ever thought I'd find. It was so random and weird that I had not once considered I'd ever find it. I've scoured back-issue bins for decades, looking for bargains and specific titles to complete my collection. But I never looked for this issue, and here it was, in my hands just after I had eaten lunch and shopped for shoes for Your Sister. It's a copy of the oldest comic I remember owning. As far as my brain is concerned, it's my first comic book.

The copy I had was so beaten up that I don't ever recall seeing the cover. It was gone. The pages were battered from being shoved and piled in a cardboard box from the grocery store. My grandparents used to babysit me while my parents were at work, and I kept a pile of comics at their place instead of schlepping comics back and forth. This comic was one of those. I don't think I have that original copy anymore. I hadn't thought of it for at least 15 years.

I, of course, bought this new one, and I read it that night as Your Sis cracked open a Wonder Woman. It's bizarre. In this 1975 comic, a pan-dimensional demon tries to invade our world but is denied by a centuries-old Scarecrow who lives in a painting. The Scarecrow leaps from the painting to fight demons (who just happen to stroll by the framed art), and his presumably straw-packed gloves dispense justice with fisticuffs. There's also a giant mutant fish and a fight in a lab. I'm not sure the artist and writer spoke the same language, and I'm convinced drugs were imbibed before and during this comic's production. It's pretty damn crappy. It's a bad comic. It's a dopey premise. We can't tell if the title character is a good guy or not. The magic has no rules.

I had to be three when I first got this comic, and I probably asked for it because there's a scarecrow on the cover. He was my favorite character from The Wizard of Oz. This comic, you may have guessed, has nothing to do with the Emerald City or Ray Bolger. And I think the comic scared me as a kid because it was so weird and unexpected. If I had read it now for the first time, I would have disregarded it. It has no value except sentiment. But it was my first, and now I have a decent copy of it.

You may also have heard that the three presidential candidates taped messages to appear on the WWE show last night. Obama may have won me over by cribbing The Rock's catchphrase: "If you smell what Barack is cooking."