Letters to Holly

Tuesday, December 1

Allegations and Bad Planning

My senior student called me last night to say he had just opened his template package. He claimed to have forgotten about it over the holiday break. He couldn't hear my eyes rolling. He claims to have finished all his preliminary work and is ready to begin in earnest. He has exactly one week to draw 24 pages (his new page count) and the covers and Xerox four copies and assemble them into individual issues and prepare his senior portfolio. I have folding money that says it's gonna be crap. We're to meet Saturday to finalize the project, and I intend to warn his teachers about his lazy-ass ways. What he turns in cannot be regarded as what I tried to teach him. I think the one-page story I'm turning into the school literary magazine will show the distance between his lame work and a designed comic. I turn that in Friday.

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My theatre liaison called me yesterday afternoon to ask again if I'd direct a play next summer. He had mentioned this most recently when I saw the Halloween play he directed, and it was a suggestion he made in script committees a few months back. He called on behalf of the latest artistic director, his replacement, who wanted the directors all set before the new season started.

Before, I had said I would have to see about directing the offered play (Mousetrap). It's a much larger challenge than directing the one-act this past spring. I had my doubts about it even then. Directing a one-act took up so much of my time that I dreaded tackling any three-act play, much less the longest running play in theatre history and the standard for parlor mysteries. My answers weren't coy. They started off as "hmm, maybe"and quickly shifted to "I can't do it." Now I was asked point blank to say yea or nay. I did, and I added the best alibi possible: My wife is expecting. I may not leave the house next year, I said. Congratulations followed as did the newest eye-rolling, head-slapping story of the local company.

The theatre leases the local Legion Hall to host its shows. It's a five-year contract with the option of doubling that. The Legion has been good about working with the theatre for upgrading the premises. The theatre has installed a nice new curtain system both on and offstage. Plans are afoot to renovate the kitchen and pantry to allow for more variety in intermission food sales. One big project was scrapping and rebuilding the green room. After some stupendous estimates from an architectural firm, the theatre was saved by an offer from the Legion. They would provide the labor free and build the green room if the theatre bought the new equipment (window units, lights, furniture, etc.). The estimate shrank from $50,000 to $5,000 to about $2,500. It was a godsend for a cash-strapped company. The Legion recently went the extra mile and offered to host a fundraising BBQ, with a chunk of the money going to the theatre to pay for that green room. The Legion advertised it in the paper and around town.

What did the theatre do? Stayed completely away. No one showed up to either volunteer or buy food. The Legion folks are pissed and declared they will not provide any labor for any projects, including the green room. That's gonna double the current estimate again. And the Christmas show starts in a few weeks.

My liaison is no longer my official theatre connection. He decided to relinquish his positions and step away, except to direct an upcoming show. He and I can equally share the freedom from entanglements in bad decisions and follow-through. Good night and good luck.

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Your Sister had a hankering for Ruebens last night The sandwiches, not the artist. I had never made nor eaten one. They're pretty good. Sauerkraut isn't bad at all. We didn't have any of this where I grew up. The closest we got to sauerkraut was boiled cabbage. Your Sister liked what I made and followed it with the rest of the cranberry salad leftovers.

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We got our second creditor phone call with a year looking for my ex-wife. I suspect she's gone off the grid and living with someone whose name is on every bill. Jesus, am I glad we didn't have kids.

Picture of the Day
These are the initial sketches for the comic story. I knew I wanted to talk about running and where the mind goes. On the top right of the first image, you can see the page design I envisioned: lots of boxes with prose outside the art. That changed to a more traditional format, seen below. The title, Running Through My Mind, was a no-brainer.

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