Letters to Holly

Friday, May 9

Back to the Paint

We met at the local dessert bakery for the company's open house. This is the bakery that -- cruelly, brilliantly -- moved next door to the gym. It's previous location was bought out for a blockwide building that has yet to be built. A lot of businesses were displaced, and suspicions continue that the condos will be overpriced and the offices will sit empty. The bakery owners weren't thrilled, but this party was to mark their one-year anniversary in the new place. I put in an order for eight ├ęclairs for My Parents. Mom always loved them, and Dad needs calories. I'm driving down to see them Sunday.

I painted for almost two hours before Lost last night. The notion about moving clockwise faded as my eye drifted right and up. I just followed the paint.

I'm getting closer to the finish. Maybe within three hours or so. I really need to redo the corners.

This is the red pepper in the top center of the painting. I love my red pepper. This is the most artistic part of the whole work. I'm going to stroll the Woolworth gallery in downtown during my lunch break today. Even though this painting isn't even finished, I'm thinking about setting up a booth to hawk my feeble wares. I intend to lowball my prices and skunk the overpriced crap they sell there.

Thursday, May 8

The Weirdest Fucking Day

My car's CD player went haywire yesterday morning, and I blame the new REM CD. I suspect some anti-piracy software screwed up the player. I have a 25,000-mile tune-up coming up soon, and I'm hoping they can fix this. A quick Google search says that this particular error message means the CD player is d-e-d dead. I just called the dealership, and they said they'd have to order a new stereo. I'm within the warranty deadline; it should be free. Thankfully, I can just upload my CDs to the iPod and broadcast it through the radio, but this may very well have turned me off CDs entirely.

I still haven't used the free iTunes songs yet because I can't decide what songs to grab. The song from the latest iTunes ad is damn catchy though.

I found a link to an online archive of news footage from 9/11, and I watched the ABC feed. I didn't see any of the morning newscasts that day. We only had radio in the office, and I got most information online. I remembered calling my then-wife who callously dismissed my anxieties. She was blase about the day even when I camped in front of the TV for hours that night. She walked away three weeks later.

Just hours after the CD player died, I get an email from that very same ex-wife telling me she learned that a guy I've known since high school has cancer. I've since confirmed it. This is a one-two punch I never suspected.

I raked up the garden, and Your Sis rented a chipper and tiller for the weekend. I didn't paint. I was too sore and tired. Hopefully I can do some tonight after Lost.

Also, don't forget about Lost tonight.

Picture of the Day
That little smudge on Saturn there is a gigantic lightning storm.

Tuesday, May 6

I'm Going to Babble About Music

Trent Reznor announced last week that Nine Inch Nails had a new album to download for free at nin.com. This just a few months (if that) after the previous album was made available for download. I'm a NIN fan from way back; the first CD marked my freshman year of college. The first album can be downloaded a few ways, and I got the freebie chunk of songs; I downloaded the entire second album on Monday. The first album is now for sale as a CD in stores, and I bought that yesterday, along with the new REM who made it big when I was still in high school.

A distinction has to be made in REM's success; they were big with folks listening to something other than Top 40 radio before their major-label debut with Out of Time. That CD has Losing My Religion, and that made them household names. People loved them some mandolins. The new CD is really, really good. The band seems to have remembered they play guitars.

Nine Inch Nails had only a few really big songs, and the biggest song, Closer, is heavily edited for radio play. NIN is my angry band, my pouty and maudlin and surly music, and if you try to listen to them when you're in a good mood, the simplistic, mopey lyrics will crack you up. Still, when the mood is right, they're the go-to band. I was so eager to buy the above two CDs that I fogt to get the new Def Leppard.

I'll listen to the CDs while I paint; the music rarely makes any difference to what I'm working on. I've heard the Fight Cub commentaries and talk radio while working on this painting. The dark colors are just how my brushes roll, I suppose.

I added another level of brown through the canvas, touched up the lower left and spread to the lower right.

Honestly, it's coming along pretty well. I even see an indirect influence of Wayne Thiebaud. I've passed the hump of drudgery and now eagerly skitter off to the workshop to work with the paints.

I also ran into the mom of the kid who played the murderer in the last play. He's still interviewing to get into the state art school, but all signs point to a certain admission. Meanwhile, the gal who played the widow in the first local play pulled out of the school's Oklahoma! just over a week before they open. I hope she doesn't expect to do any more plays for that drama teacher.

When I got home, I attacked the garden. The blackberry bush also hosted a pernicious ivy vine, and the roots spread throughout the entire left side of the potential garden swath. I dug up the root clusters, and I think fatally damaged the main root strand. Tonight, I'll rake up the ivy and roots. The predicted rain this weekend might keep us from tilling and wood mulching.


An unexpected -- read: contrary to every weather report -- rain shower kept me from working in the yard, and I did what all manly men do instead: I painted.

This is the painting after I slapped down some simple brown patches for the meat. I was still trying to clean up my proportion in my internal struggle of abstracting the photo versus maintaining a semblance of realistic dimensions.

Then I focused on the bottom corner. I plan to work clockwise. I obviously need to vary my brown tones more. I tend to work dark, and I'm fighting that. Also, the paint seems thin and requires many coats.

The state's primary is today, and we got four campaign calls yesterday alone. We watched House last night, and Your Sis finally managed to skunk me in identifying a guest actor from a previous role. She totally identified the patient as the Samantha's model boyfriend from Sex and the City. She's frazzled from school, to the point that she's depriving herself of fun movie time. She's now downplaying her enthusiasm for Speed Racer, a film she's been dying for since last year.

Monday, May 5

Iron Horses Running in the Garden of Eden. And A Painting.

Saturday morning was spent weeding the garden. We put down tarps to burn away the overgrowth, but it didn't work. We created instead a greenhouse. A lush forest of weedy weeds. I ripped through them with the weedeater. I found a lot of vine root clusters, and I'll dig them out as soon as the dead weeds turn brown and thin. I'll clean up the garden enough for us to rent a tiller this weekend. We also need to rent a wood chipper for the winter branch debris and use that mulch throughout the yard.

Your Sis was too busy to watch Iron Man with me, which is a shame as I'm sure she'd love the gadgetry and improv-style dialogue. It's a great comic movie. In fact, it gets weak only when it becomes most like a comic: the big climactic fight. The rest, however, is chock full of nods to comic fans and the history of the characters. The post-credits extra scene made me gasp; it sets the stage for big things. No one is mailing it in here, and that energy makes for a fun two hours. The majority of audience members were older folks, and I spent part of the credits answering questions about the comic book.

We did watch the Kentucky Derby together and enjoyed it until the philly had to be killed. This is the second catastrophic horse injury during a Triple Crown race in a few years, and questions abound regarding breeding criteria. The horses are becoming fragile.

I ran Sunday at the school, chugging through three miles on the track. That's almost 2 5ks within four days. The knee held up, and this week's garden work will replace running.

I did a bit more on the painting. I'm making a four-square grid to somewhat match the photo, but I don't want to be too rigid. I don't want to replicate the picture.

I started reading the Bible again. My Parents gave us a copy for Christmas. I haven't read the thing since college. It sparked a long debate with Your Sis last night about the physics of the creation story: if God created light, that meant all was dark beforehand. But would that make The Void itself darkness or would "dark" only be defined by the creation of light?