Letters to Holly

Friday, May 2

Iron Man

So, yes, I ran when I got home. I made myself run for 30 minutes or until I finished a new circuit of the neighborhood. I was trying to run for time, but I finished the lap in 29 minutes. The Superman theme really helps me get up the hills. The knee was fine; in fact, it bothers me more when I walk in jeans than when I run in shorts. I got home, cleaned up, and met up with Your Sis and another couple for a long, long supper. We got home after Lost had started, and I watched the recording while Your Sis slept. She'll probably catch it tonight. I made myself stay up late so I would hopefully stop waking up at 4 a.m. I hung up a new blind in the workshop and plotted the next painting strategy.

Motion Picture of the Day

Iron Man is getting rave reviews, and I'll see it tomorrow morning, come hell or Hiawatha. It's not a property that immediately makes for a sure-fire film franchise. The hero is a drunk control freak, and he has a weak rogues gallery. In fact, his greatest enemies stemmed from the character's foundation as a 1960s creation. Iron Man fought commies. He road-to-Damascus moment was during the Korean War and not in whatever Middle Eastern country this film uses. His heyday was the early '80s as the Soviet Union still lurked over the horizon. Off the top of my head, I can remember five Soviet villains and two of them wore armor suits. He also fought a Chinese imperialist and literal corporate spies. In the days of Dallas and Top Gun, Tony Stark was comics' JR Ewing. He had the Tom Selleck mustache, the fast cars, the slinky gals, the armors (lots of variations), and he threw back cocktails in board meetings.

I'm keen on this film because the cast is impressive. Love Downey, love Bridges, love Howard and Paltrow. I'm surprised the director seems to have crafted a big moneymaker; Jon Favreau is best known as an indy guy. But, to be fair, so was Chris Nolan, the guy who made the latest Batman movies, and Sam Raimi, who made the Spider-Man films.

I'm also happy to see another Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creation get a shot at the big time.
Iron Man is of the same brood as Hulk, Fantastic Four, Spidey, X-Men, and dozens more. They had no idea what would work with the readers; they used every conceivable gimmick. Iron Man took, and he remains the most successful armored character in comics. The film essentially preserves the origin, complete with his retro-cool gray armor.

From what I hear, if you stick around after the credits, you'll see a big-name actor appearing as another comic character, the same character as which he also cameos in the upcoming Hulk movie.

Thursday, May 1


I did a little exercise when I got home. Esquire, the one with Jessica Simpson shaving on the cover, ran a 7-day tune-up schedule for men, including a series of exercises. They are deceptively simple. I find myself laughing at my exhaustion after 25 reps of a seemingly easy series. I did not get to paint, but I did stop by the downtown Asheville store for a tube of Nickel Oxide Brown, I think they called it. It's a yellow-brown.

Dad called after his chemo. His red blood cell count is down, and his heart is working too hard. They're giving him injections to help this. He's growing black hair again, but his legs are getting weak. When he's tired, it's hard to talk with him; I couldn't get in any questions to ask specifics as he was practically babbling from the drugs. I'll try to get more out of him this weekend.

The knee is settling down more each day, and I intend to run when I get home. I watched a recent Nova experiment where 12 sedentary people trained for the Boston Marathon. One had to pull out because of stress fractures, but the rest finished the race, averaging a little over four hours. There's a local race here at the end of May, and I'd like to take a crack at it, but I need to get back to 3 5ks a week beforehand.

Picture of the Day
Threepio is helpless against the forceball.

Wednesday, April 30

Bedsheets in the Garden

The wild swings in nighttime temperatures require us to cover up the budding flowers often during the week. The neighbors are doing it too, and the yards seem to be holding slumber parties.

I had the need to exercise and realized just as I pulled up to the house that the yard was a jungle. I mowed it without favoring the bad knee and have changed the diagnosis from Grody Joint Chasm to Mild Inconvenience. Gone are the gauze pads and palm-sized Band-Aids. I'm now wearing to layered regular Band-Aids. The limp is no more as well.

I painted very little. My Dad called, and we talked about his upcoming chemo today. I dabbed red paint where the red peppers should go on the canvas. Next, I'll dab on the yellow and then sketch up the other stir-fry ingredients.

We watched last night's American Idol. In case you're not watching, the show is down to five people:

Brooke -- the hippie sunshine girl
Syesha -- the brassy belter
David Archuletta -- the high-school kid who sings like a Disney character
David Cook -- the stadium-rocker
Jason -- the dreadlocked slacker

Cook is ready to tour right now. Syesha might rule Broadway. Everyone else is a waste, an embarrassment of minimum competence and oh-shucks desperation for votes. They sang Neil Diamond songs, and only Syesha and Cook can sing above a whisper. Your Sister is amazed that Simon and I say virtually the same things just minutes apart.

Picture of the Day
This barely made my high standards for picture posting.

Tuesday, April 29

Painting Myself into a Corner

I moved the easel into the workshop, between the drawing table and the door. I put in the Fight Club DVD and listened to the commentary and painted for about half an hour. I still agree that Fight Club is my generation's The Graduate; however, I wonder if it's too much of a guy movie. It makes fun of male-esteem movements, but wallows in that philosophy so much that it is mistakenly seen as a true male-esteem platform. What did you think of it?

Again, I'm working on the corners, and I feared I had overdone it, but looking at the photo at this size, the corners look OK. Not perfect, but not bad. I will definitely work on the interior next time.

My knee is still aching, and I'll have to see a doctor if it doesn't start scarring soon. I think I'm developing an adverse reaction to so much Neosporin. I forced my knee to bend to keep the joint from stiffening.

This morning, I dropped by the college art building to see the senior exhibit and check the classrooms. I saw the photo teacher in passing and then I drove into work. I'm listening to the president's press conference and his answer to the economy is to drill in ANWAR. I don't know how anyone can be sure how much oil is there when it hasn't been drilled. And I don't know why he thinks anyone will believe his assertions after the WMD fiasco.

Monday, April 28

500 Posts

Wow. That's a lot of blabbing.

I'm starting the painting this weekend based on this photo.

With Your Sister out of town, I'm set up the easel in the kitchen and watched the NFL draft as I began the canvas. I had no idea how to start this as the detail is beyond my interest. I finally decided to simply slap down colors to build the approximate hues in swaths close to that of the items. It'll be very abstract. maybe. I'm winging it. My first passes on the canvas were horrible; my painting muscles were worthless.

Here it is now.

I have a ways to go.

Weirdest thing happened before I started painting. I drove out for dinner and decided on a burrito place I never go to. Walk in the door, and there is my painting teacher from college. Right before my first painting in ten years. I talked to her and her husband -- the photography teacher -- and they asked if I'd perhaps talk to their students. Odd odd odd.

I also listened to the Superman commentary, and it reminded me just how very much I adore that film. Pitch-perfect in every way. The effects hold up, the tone holds up, the jokes still work. It's a timeless film, really. Gene Hackman just nails the role of Lex. He's hitting home runs in every scene.

When she came back home, we searched for lasagna and settled for pizza instead. I ignored the painting on Sunday to let it settled down, and I might try it again tonight before wrestling and pizza. Or we might forgo wrestling and watch a new House instead. Yes. Yes, I think that's what we'll do.

In the Local News
We're bombarded by campaign ads and robo-calls for the May 6 primary. We even got a live call from a local Obama supporter. I intend to vote next Tuesday, but I'm still undecided who gets my vote. I have arguments for and against both of them.