Letters to Holly

Friday, September 4

Slippery Situations

A coworker of Your Sister suggested dropping mineral oil on corn to keep the bugs off the cobs. I had no idea where to get mineral oil. I looked at the Lowe's website, and the monitor shrugged. Some more research told me that mineral oil + fragrances = baby oil. Ah. The grocery store had it cheap. Allegedly, you coat the corn silk just as it emerges. I did that when I got home and drew a bit until Your Sister got home from the parent meetings.

The theatre liaison says he found someone for the role he asked me to do, a guy who will commute from Greenville each night to rehearse and perform. That's a haul. That distance is a crucial reason why I looked for a job nearer Your Sister instead of commuting to my old one. My finely honed and inerrant theatre sense says he'll back out. According to the liaison, he will be leaving a current backstage position (for a play that's just about to open) to take this onstage role. That's not a good sign. He's already backing out of one commitment before taking on a very large one. I hope his withdrawal, if it does happen, occurs early on in the rehearsals. Imagine the meltdown that would ensue if he backed out right before the show opens.

The liaison also asked if I would stage manage this show, and this makes the tenth position I've been offered within a year. It would be easier than the last production to manage, but as I don't know who is tapped to work the sound, I can't agree to it. I'm willing to bet money it will be the same woman, and I will be too tempted to behead her. Again I told him I'd have to see how work and Mom develop over the next weeks before I can say yes to anything. What I really need to say is no to everything. Just the idea of it is exhausting.

I was a zealous theatre worker earlier this decade. I was a bachelor, recently divorced. The distraction of constant stagework helped. So did, it goes without saying, Your Sister. Now we're married. I have to ration out my time for the theatre, and it has to be a project I can feel safe committing to. Everything with this group feels shaky right now. They still don't have a season to advertise. It's this fall show and the Christmas show, and that may very well be it.

We don't have Labor Day plans as we usually do, and I'll pack for the week of babysitting Mom.

Picture of the Day
President Chewie is outta here.

Thursday, September 3

Different Directions

I'm trying to keep the garden plants alive, but Your Sister says they know fall is coming, and it's their time to wither. Well, that's sad. And I won't have it. I'm watering and composting and babying. I'm keeping them alive as long as I can. The latest plucked jalapeno is turning red on the dish rack and grows more evil as it brightens.

I ran my second 5k route this week yesterday as Your Sister sold soccer tickets at the school. When I cleaned up, I sat with her as the boys started playing, and we talked to another teacher. Her marriage is ending, and we know both spouses. It's sad. I tried to offer notes from my divorce, but the circumstances are too distinct. I'm not much help.

I also was told a couple I had known from my late high-school days are breaking up, and that reeks of madness. They have four grown kids. What happened just now to wedge them apart? What do they need now they didn't need before? The bookending separations weigh me down more than it should. The latter couple were the parents of my first real girlfriend, and that family treated me better than I could possibly ask. Their split hits me harder than that of the teachers. It's seismic. I hold Your Sister a little closer these days.

I slept badly in the sick bed as a precaution last night, and I'm dragging this morning. Wah.

Picture of the Day
That's no moonwalk, that's a space station trooper.

Wednesday, September 2

Drawing Conclusions.

I didn't expect someone to kick off Sketchtember by requesting I draw myself as a superhero. I've gotten the Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic comparison before; we both have the gray temples, and I'm thin and tall. It would make for an easy costume one year in Atlanta. Instead of practicing piano or running, I banged out the sketch when I got home last night. I recently discovered iTunes offers a free streaming station for old radio shows, and I listen to it whenever I'm in the workshop. I love those old shows: mystery, comedy, thrillers, westerns -- doesn't matter. I gobble them up.

Your Sister's first public meeting went well. The school holds an open house Thursday, and I again offered to pretend to be a parent and commandeer her allotted facetime. But she isn't wary of any parents so far, and she's not worried about meeting them. She recently heard back from an administrator about a persistent whiny parent who objects to her teaching Kite Runner. She's taken it way too far, including calling up the superintendent to gripe. Your Sis prepared a syllabus of required reading -- hers and all the other English teachers -- for the school board to scan. The administrator said the memo and accompanying letter went over well, and I don't see that parent gaining any traction in her book-burning campaign. I suppose she could go to the governor ...

Look, I hate the book -- it's simple pulp masquerading as capital-L literature -- but I can see its use in the classroom, especially when we have troops on the ground there. It does the mountain kids good to read about the other side of the world. A full fifth of her students could be over there within a year. We did run into a recent grad who's joining the Marines within a month.

Picture of the Day
The Venn Diagram of Mythical Creatures

Tuesday, September 1

Angered by Corn

Again, I have grubs and worms eating my cobs. I sprayed this year with Liquid Seven, a pesticide so toxic that it requires eye and mouth protections and gloves and suggests you wash your clothes after application. I sprayed the garden four times. I still have grubs. I am confused.

We plucked some cobs last night from the oldest stalks and cut away the damaged kernels and the attached creatures. The good stuff boiled up fine and ate even better. But I'm bedeviled by the monsters. Did I pluck the cobs too late? Does our heavy rainfall dilute the pesticide? Do we have mutated worm families? No other plants were bug-ified. It's a mystery.

Also, I can't help but compare my corn to those from the stores, and I know -- I KNOW -- the grocery cobs are unnatural. They are engineered (engine-eared?) to be fat and large. My cobs are lean and small. But the kernels are, as the French say, pretty fucking awesome, yo. My last stalks should give us corn in mid-October.

The garden is peaking, and we've eaten tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn within two days. Pieces have gone into the Spaghetti Bucket. We also have new jalapenos that we eye warily. We hear them snicker at us, eager to rake our eyes with their evil residue. We'll show you, peppers of peril. We'll show you.

Sketchtember has begin on the Book of Face. Your Sis is doing better and hopefully will be out of the sick bed tonight.

I have your t-shirt suggestions on my office wall, and I'm running through notions.

Travis called me last night to say he heard the news about Disney buying Marvel and wondered what the geek universe thought of it. Some factions are greatly afeared, but if Disney can stomach the primetime offerings of ABC (which it owns), they should have no problem with the comics Marvel publishes. Marvel recently started making their own movies and worked out deals with studios to distribute; Disney has a distribution system with very little original content, and they are desperate to lure teenage boys. This makes a lot of sense for both companies.

Picture of the Day
By Jove!

Monday, August 31

Bossh Office: District 9

Once again, the two different versions of The Empire Strikes Back bounty hunter dissect a movie. This week: District 9.

Chipper Bossh: Finally, sci-fi in the traditional sense: metaphors for the human condition and analogies for political actions wrapped in alternate-universe technology. I don't ask for much really. So many sci-fi movies are really action films with lasers. This has more to say.

Surly Bossh: I was happier when it said less and got on with the blood and bullets. It sucked at the beginning. I saw some people leave the theatre, probably because they got bored.

Chipper Bossh: The early documentary style was fine for explaining the premise: A spaceship parks above Johannesburg in 1982, and the aliens are ghettoed. They can't assimilate in human society and exist on the fringe with no options. They are angry. They are desperate. But that's not where the movie goes really. And I like that. It picks a novel route through a cliche forest.

Surly Bossh: Coulda gotten to the good stuff earlier is all I'm sayin'. When it gets bloody, it gets REALLY bloody.

Chipper Bossh: Yeah, I think it goes too far with that.

Surly Bossh: It's like we're not even the same lizard.

Chipper Bossh: I was happy with the human drama, the agency stooge who gets in over his head and has no one to turn to. I enjoyed seeing the Nigerian criminal influence in the shantytown. I could have watched a miniseries just on the ramifications of aliens shoehorned into human society.

Surly Bossh: That Nigerian crime boss was kinda cool. The movie should have been about him.

Chipper Bossh: My point exactly. The film could have been told from any number of perspectives. That's a sign of good storytelling, I think.

Surly Bossh: So you're not gonna admit this is essentially the African Alien Nation?

Chipper Bossh: You know, I'd like to see a series of stories about how different societies handle a sudden alien influx. How would North Korea handle it? London or Russia or India? This idea has wings. We could have an anthology of this.

Surly Bossh: As long as we get another half hour of special effects and violence, I'm all for it. For all your talk about traditional scifi, this sucker's a running gunfight in the last half hour. Thank God.

Chipper Bossh: So we both like it?

Surly Bossh: Suppose so. Surly out.

I spent a week getting ready to completely change out the laundry room light. It went out the same day the water heater died, and I've let its mystery fester in my brain for a year now. I checked online tutorials on wiring and walked through the hardware stores to check their stock for whatever contingency pops up. Saturday morning, I was prepared to work four hours to finish this. I was going to run new wires to the fixture and the two light switches if it came to it. I was girded. I pulled the car out of the garage so I could reach the attic door, closed off the room, and psyched myself up.

Then I checked the fixture's wire caps, and noticed one was loose. I tightened it, reconnecting the wires from the fixture to the switches. And it worked. The light came on and the switches are fine and house has not burned down. It took five minutes. I now had half the day free.

When Your Sis was through meeting a teacher buddy over coffee, we went to the movies and Krispy Kreme. She's fighting the new school bug. Probably not swine flu. Maybe Pigs In Space flu. She used the Netti Pot you gave me, and it's helped her sleep better. She is, however, in the sick bed, and I wake up thinking she's back in Maine.

A student lent her a copy of Twilight, and she promised to give it a try. I'll debrief her when she's through. Some of the other teachers swear by it. My dental hygienists talked about it the entire time I was in the dentist chair Friday.

We went to this year's first football game on Friday. Fall is sneaking up on us.

My theatre liaison called me again to get me to join the fall play. I again begged off, citing my workload and the upcoming mom care. He said they really need me and are willing to push back the opening weekend to make it convenient for me. A tiny voice in my brain is telling me to do it. I, however, had a nightmare last night about working in two simultaneous productions, and it shut that voice right up. He also asked me about casting either of two actresses from the play I directed. I gave him my notes with the disclaimer that they may have behaved differently for me because it was my first time. I can and did confidently recommend one of them, and this play now has three people I'd enjoy working with and that internal play-eager voice is starting to get on my nerves.

Moving Picture of the Day
This was the original film expanded into District 9 here. It's about five minutes long. Same director and writer and at least one actor.