Letters to Holly

Friday, October 23

Win if You Can, Lose if You Must, But Always Cheat.

Your Sister received a late email informing her the dodgeball team would be made up of teachers and named the Pugnacious Pedants. When the tournament began, however, a typo rendered them the Pugnacious Pendants. They still got to use Hot for Teacher as an entrance theme. This is the second tournament for the high school art guild, and it remains a huge success. At least a dozen teams played in double elimination for two hours, and her team made it pretty deep.

There was an instance when she ran to the other team's side of the court (a gross violation) and she removed herself from that bout. But apparently she terrified the other team into paralysis, and they lost easily. I didn't get out of work early enough to see this, but I am not shocked. Of course she wandered onto their side; she also hogs the mattress in a spousal manifest destiny. I ascribed her action to watching too much pro wrestling with its many catchphrases in praise of cheating. So is this my fault? I can't believe that. I'm a paragon of virtue, and I've marinated in the junk for decades.

The winning team (the AK47s) won the school's version of the Stanley Cup, a giant gold hand clutching a dodgeball. It's the final day of the homecoming week, and today's theme is "extreme blue and white." She wore her devil horns to school. She's adorable.

We discovered a local bar now serves gyros, and I may have a new favorite watering hole. I'm a gyro whore, and I am not ashamed.

I still need a costume for next week's race, and I hope to check the local stores for a lightweight skeleton mask and costume.

Picture of the Day

Stevie Stevie Stevie.

Thursday, October 22

Wary and War and World

It's been busy.

It's homecoming week at the high school, and the staff are encouraged to join in the daily costume themes. So far, it's been superheroes, sports, and a day when groups of teachers dressed alike. Decreed frivolity becomes a chore before long. I offered her coworkers my comic shirts to wear that day and had no takers. That day always makes clear to me how much geek clothing I have. Yikes and yikes some more.

We're surrounded by the flu bug. Or pale imitators that spook everybody. One school lost 100 kids to sick beds, and the absences at Your Sister's school are noticeable. We have simple symptoms, but we attribute it to the seasonal swings in temperature and moving through structures with newly cranked heating. We're careful, and she's most susceptible as all bedraggled teachers are.

She might be even more so tonight: She's been drafted to play on the faculty dodgeball team.

We rendezvoused in Asheville last night to see a double-bill of radio plays performed onstage. We've seen the tours from the LA Theatre Works before. They mounted a show based on transcripts of a trial regarding the publication of Pentagon material on Vietnam and a show based on transcripts of the Scopes monkey trial. This year, they're doing adaptations of Lost World by Doyle and recreating Orson Welles's War of the Worlds. I've wanted to see the latter onstage for decades, and they delivered a show worth the wait.

It's a short script as the radio show was an hour long, and the people who believed the play was real way back when had to be irregular listeners to the Mercury Radio Theatre at best. Orson Welles voice is clearly identifiable, and he's all over the original broadcast. The majority of those tuning in had to have said "oh yeah, that's Orson Welles playing an astronomer." But the theatre tour set the stage (literally) by playing clips of Hitler beforehand to remind us that fears of war were heightened already, one year before Germany took Poland three full years before Pearl Harbor.

The Lost World was played broadly for simple laughs, and we kinda smirked through most of it. There was audience participation cued by signs and gestures. The group held a QnA session after. I noticed a few scripts had different colors of highlighter blocks and asked if they had a communal code. Nope, they said, it's up to the actor. One actor pointed out that he uses different blocks of color to separate the paragraphs.

I felt that pull, that magnetic allure of the stage calling me up, and I remind myself I won't go back just for that radioactive pile of frustration to beat me down again. I had another dose of it this week when the group president put me in a mass email saying I was a candidate for theatre board member. I succinctly told them I can't commit at this time. I would have preferred he verify his hope with me before announcing it to the entire theatre group.

Oh, and our usher last night was a fellow actor from the courtroom show. Small world. She hosted the wrap-up party. She keeps a very kosher house -- my first exposure to it -- and the food was fantastic.

As we always do, Your Sister and I hit a convenience store for candy to keep us awake as we drove home. She got mint 3 Musketeers because she has crazybrains.

Picture of the Day
Here's the group doing The Lost World. The actors are using scripts to pantomime paddling up the Amazon. Man, I wish I could have talked the local company to do a show this way.

Tuesday, October 20


I forgot to mention two items of conspicuous consumption.

Saturday afternoon, after I prattled at the senior for an hour, I bought new running shoes. I think my original pair are three years old. The soles are starting to peel, a good barometer of when to get new shoes. I think. Maybe. With the Halloween race coming up, I thought I should get a new pair now and break them in. The local sports store owner knew exactly what I was looking for, and found me a pair that fit within seconds. They felt marvelous. Like they were molded for my feet, and I could tell only then just how flat my first shoes had gotten. I wore them all day, and they felt like slippers. I hope to run in them tonight. I'm leaning toward a skeleton costume for the race. I have the gloves from the Scrooge play to wear.

On Sunday, we bought pumpkins from a church. They had a small patch in front of their big steeple room, and we grabbed three. The biggest is for Your Sister, and I predict she'll need a half hour just to scoop out the brains. We're hosting a party on Saturday, and I picked up more cutting kits and decorations last night. I can find no Krackel, my favorite candy bar, and I take it personally.

The NFL Bet
Her Teams (boo!)
New England (4-2)
Pittsburgh (3-2)

St. Louis (0-6)
New York Giants (5-1)

My Teams (yea!)
New England (4-2)
Pittsburgh (4-2)

Philadelphia (3-2)
Atlanta (4-1)

Moving Picture of the Day
It wasn't, but it should've.

Monday, October 19

Finally We Meet

Preparing for this weekend's college presentation took up all of Friday evening for Your Sister. We went back to the school around 11 to dot the i's. She left early Saturday with a local college professor to travel halfway to Virginia to talk about senior projects. I saw her off after loading her CDs into the car stereo for her. I got a haircut and more silver gray was revealed (to her delight). I was to meet my mentored senior for the first time at 12:30, and I intended to kill time at my computer after visiting the barbershop. I had my iPod on and it hit a good sequence of music. It got me antsy. So antsy, that I was soon slipping on my still-wet cold-running shirt and darting outside for a 3-mile run. It was very cold, and I was very brainless. But I ran well and burned the antsiness away.

I got back in time to clean up and grab a snack before driving to the library to meet him. I packed along a pile of minicomics, some standard comics, my sketchbook, the camera, and a handful of letter paper. He arrived about ten minutes after I did, and we sat inside.

First of all, he's not a comics fan. His buddy is, and it was the latter's notion that this kid make a comic out of their shared love of zombies. This would not be so much of an obstacle had he arranged a rendezvous last month when the emails began. We've lost a month, and now we need to scramble. I told him to read the minis to consider page dimensions and story length and cautioned him not to ape a particular style. I showed him how he could fold letter paper repeatedly until it was the size comic he wanted to make and to use a stack of these to make a comic outline.

I saw his sketches and they'll work for the kind of story he's telling. But he needs to show the teachers and judges that he can make a decent comic package. That's the kind of skill these projects are to foster. I told, him, however, that we'll worry about that once he gets a story down on paper. I showed him where the library shelves their comics and found him some good examples to take home (a how-to book and Persepolis). I also handed him a Hellboy comic and told him to look at the tone and techniques.

This may not be as polished as I hoped. I assumed he knew something about comics. He doesn't. But I think I can steer him to a passable illustrated story in a bound folio that will look good. That should get him a passing grade. The meeting lasted only an hour (and that was me talking for practically the entire hour), and I was back home sketching out more genre signs for the library. I need to talk to that contact too about specifics.

Your Sis got back in town around 5:30. We zoomed to the pub to chow down and trade day notes. She sweated over that presentation for two weeks, stayed up much later than normal, and ate little. All for one audience member. She only had one person in the seminar. She's glad to have this thing in hand for the next time, but she's chagrined.

She slept most of Sunday. She couldn't get the gas stove to work Friday night, and I took a shot at it after we got groceries. We were worried I'd have to get a technician to look at it; the instructions are clear that any procedural hiccup should stop the cranking process before the house blows up. I got it to to work, however, and she slept in that room for hours. I did laundry and read and drew and stayed inside to avoid the cold. We made pizza and added reindeer sausage Your Parents brought from Alaska. 'Twas good.

Picture of the Day
The exclusion of Count Blah is inexcusable.