Letters to Holly

Friday, October 30

Race Eve

The weather looks sucktastic for the race. That might spook off the casual runners (oh hey, that's me) and leave the runners who demand to run in costume (oh hey, that's me too). If it's a thunderstorm, they'll have to postpone. I hope they don't hold it the next day; I'm going to the local play Sunday. I promised the director. Although, I might leave the play early for the race if need be, and look at me making plans for things that haven't happened yet.

Your Sister and I went to the school for a light workout. She feels horrendously out of shape and a failure, and I remind her she's run maybe two miles during the entire year. She can't compare herself to me at this stage. When she builds up her cardio and readies her knees, then we can be good-naturedly competitive. We ran some stadiums and jogged a bit. She's worried about winter weight. I would like to run in the mornings when the clocks change this weekend (reminder to all exam-crazed med students), but I'd still face school traffic. No thanks.

She's at home today for the second of her furlough days, and she's up to her eyes in paperwork. Granted, that's not that tall a stack, but the point remains. I'm supposed to meet the senior tomorrow, but the annual fall festival might put the kibosh on that. The library will either be closed to avoid constant bathroom requests or the parking lot will be commandeered by tourists. Also, a few hours after the scheduled rendezvous, the 5k race will take over the adjoining parking lots and the entire road for a half mile. During this, trick-or-treaters will start heading out. There's one leg of the race that goes right by the most popular candy-giving neighborhood in the county. That neighborhood already gets traffic rerouted around it. The police are presumably (hopefully) going to close off the usual detour road for the runners. This could be a mess.

I'm not worried. I have my costume, and I have my goal time of sub-28 minutes. That's all I care about. I won't get a trophy. I'd really love to be among the first 100 finishers. That's be nice.

Picture of the Day
Summer's really gone, I guess.

Thursday, October 29

The WorldBrain Has Spoken.

I know nothing about iPod Touches, other than I lust for one in a gee-whiz haze of geekgasm. I do need a new cell phone, but we live in an area with un-good AT&T coverage. The iTouch would be an awkward iPod to run with too. Here are the answers I got yesterday:

  • Geek Squad or Apple Store might be the most obvious options. She might be proper fucked as far as getting it repaired, though. Apple's stuff isn't known for being easily repairable.

  • It really wouldn't hurt her to take it to the Apple Store. I know that I have had friends without the warranty left on it get a new one for a deal or even free.

  • A later comment says: They don't fix iPod touches at the Apple Store. She can repurchase a refurbished one at a discount.

  • Here is a link to Apple's support for the ipod touch: http://www.apple.com/support/ipodtouch/ Give tech support a call, they will open a case and advise what to do. If it's under warranty they'll provide shipping labels so you can send it free to have repaired / replaced. If it's not under warranty they'll give a quote on the repair cost.

  • Apple probably won't even be willing to touch it if it's water damage. It can be repaired but based on past models, repair from water damage always leaves issues. It's not likely going to be as good as new.

  • Try ifixit, I've done multiple ipod repairs using their instructions and parts. I'll warn you ahead of time iphones and ipod touches are specifically built so that they aren't easy to open. good luck.

  • If it's within the 1 year warranty they may just give her a new one at an Apple store (a later comment says this: "not for water damage"). If not they'll probably try to sell her a new one, with a discount taken for the broken iPod.

  • I suggest lying and not mentioning the water part. (a later comment says: "All ipods and most modern electronics have built in indicators for water exposure.")
Couldn't hurt to ask local Apple folks, if there are any. Best Buy has an Apple section these days, and that might be your best option. Also, they offer in-store warranties that might cover water damage if you have to buy a new one.

Your Parents called me Sunday to ask advice on HD TVs. Your Dad saw a flyer for a Panasonic with a free Blu-Ray player, and the price was too good to pass up. They supposedly bought it later that day, but I've heard no updates.

I ran last night for the last time before Saturday's race. I had a very good time. Your Sis wants to run tonight at the school, and I volunteered to chaperon. I wanted to buy old-fashioned tube socks for the boxer costume, but they apparently no longer exist. Also, you can only buy single pairs of tube socks for $10 each at sports stores, so no thank you, sir. I figured that my boxing gloves would make it difficult to operate my iPod during the run and will make me look like I'm repeatedly punching my appendix.

As the World Series began last night, the Yankee Stadium played the Imperial March for the visiting Phillies. The Yankees got the awards ceremony music flowing into the main theme for the ending credits. The game was broadcast by FOX, so I guess they have the music rights and the good sense to use that to lure in casual fans like me.

Picture of the Day
Bert sees all. Bert demands information. Bert will transmit the recorded data to his overlords on Muppetron IV. Bert is programmed to operate for 10,000 years, and he will outlive us all, and his final words will be "whither the pigeons [computebootundo] ?"

Well, that was more depressing that I intended.

Wednesday, October 28

My Disappointment Is Inexhaustible

I learned earlier this week that the previous theatre company has scheduled 12 shows between the current Halloween play and Christmas 2010. Twelve. No one does this. Not colleges, not amateur companies nor professionals. No one has the talent or money to do a decent production at a clip of one a month.

They also decided to drop Annie, the one show that would bring in guaranteed box office and a flood of young talent and new volunteers for future shows. When I was still meeting with committees, this would have been Spring, that was the show felt by theatre veterans that had to be announced ASAP to lure actresses and families away from their 2010 summer vacations. I didn't hear the reason why Annie was scrapped, but I can imagine: Who can fit 20 young girls on that small stage for a three-weekend run? Who wants to corral that mob for two months?

Among the reasons I stayed away from the current production was concern that chaos and drama would enter via the crew. No matter who was put onstage, I assumed the director would sit on any divas enough to make the show work. The crew, however, are often chosen without the director's input or he has to settle for whoever he can find at the last second. It appears my cynicism was founded: The director and the stage manager are at odds, and what a lovely distraction that must be for five actors working a three-act play. One has to wonder how the group manages to attract this quality of professionalism. It must be some sort of mountain magic that lures them to a locus of theatre calamity. We're Las Vegas in the community-theatre version of The Stand.

As my liaison leaves this fall, he removes my true obligation to the group. I recently turned down another nomination to join the board. I'm staying away. Even though the group is doing big-name shows this season -- Odd Couple, Mousetrap, Glass Menagerie -- the backstage whirlpool isn't worth hopping into a big play. Nor is it rewarding to surrender two months of time and brain work to perform before 50 people. Snobbish? Perhaps. Soul-crushing? Always. The building can hold four times that number. I believe the company could lure larger crowds if they cut back on the number of shows. Better posters, also. You can't draw in people off the street with clip art found online on letter-size paper carrying 200 words of information. When the posters are taped to shop windows and bulletin boards, they vanish amid the other flyers. I'm tired of presenting my sales pitch to make the posters. It's been two years.

The only good news is that college may allow its theatre students to work in the local theatre's prouction, ending the boycott. That will get new blood, but they need veterans to help them learn the craft, and all of us are running into the night.

So why do I despair about this so often, you may ask? Two reasons:

1) Everyone else I know in town is through Your Sister, and while she makes good friends, I'm dependent on her for a social network. That's a bind. The theater gave me a conduit to more people.

2) The theatre is so physically close to our house that, if I were to be involved, I'm pretty sure I would be the closest of any other theatre person to the building. That, combined with me knowing my stuff, would make me a major contributor to the company. That's appealing. So much so that I constantly question my judgment about previous theatre meltdowns. Was it really so bad? Couldn't I bow up and muddle through? Then I read some of the blog posts on those shows and think I wouldn't do that again if they paid me.

2b Bonus Reason Cheap At Twice the Price) No one gets paid. It's all volunteer. That means there's no incentive to do more than the bare minimum nor is there an attractor for the best skills. What do we get? An inordinate amount of dingbats and drama queens (which might just be the name of my new rock band) eclipsing the energetic cheerleaders and the eagerly competent.

Picture of the Day
Mars orbiter photos show dark sand whirls that scientists suspect are made by dust devils turning up the topsoil. This doesn't even look like a landscape. We've stared at Mars for hundreds of years with our state-of-the-art technologies, and we're still surprised by it.

Tuesday, October 27

I Am Just A Poor Boy And My Story's Seldom Told

I spent my lunch break standing in a Halloween store debating between two boxer costumes: the Everlast and the Rocky. The Rocky came with a short white robe, small gloves, and these shorts.
Except the shorts looked much cheaper, and "Rocky" replaced "Balboa." The other set, however, had larger gloves and longer shorts, and I worried they would drag me down in the Saturday race. I picked the latter set because I could be any boxer. In the first set, I would have to be Rocky, and I don't want to do a Stallone impression.

I did not wear it during my run last night. This was my first 5k run in the new shoes, and my mind would be on distracted enough by them, I thought. Nope. My feet were fine, and the thicker soles are a big temptation to bounce more in my run. It certainly helps when running downhill, which I now do at near full stride.

Your Sister and I decided to walk together after my runs, and we left the house near the same time last night. I took a different route to replace the last half mile I'd lose by meeting her at the school, where she was ran stadium steps and jogged the track. On the second half of my run, I saw a kid running in the direction of the school. Now this was just as the big downhill starts, and I figured he was either running Saturday's 5k route or heading to the school for the rescheduled JV game. He was delayed by a red light, and it still took him a half mile. But he was zooming at a pace I couldn't match. I watched him pull away ahead of me and was convinced he was a regular runner testing the 5k route. I again accepted my age and relative lack of training and picked up my stride a bit to think of other matters.

I could see him when he passed the road that makes up the majority of the 5k route and realized he was both headed to the school and slowing down. By the time I reached the school, I saw him shuffling forward at a dead walk with his hands on his head. He was beat, and I was still going, feeling solid in the third mile. Before I could pass him, he heard me and turned to watch me pass by, and I knew the dark night would hide my smile. Your Sister was right there to watch us both. She just finished her new workout, and we walked home to make pizza.

I modeled the costume after I added one of my boxing t-shirts. We gave each other rabbit punches with the gloves. I used to be a big boxing fan before the sport degraded into one-punch bums. Tyson affected a whole generation who thought a haymaker was all they needed to be rich. What they forget is that, early one, he was a very smart fighter who just happened to be a devastating puncher. His defense was perfect.

Picture of the Day
My 5k race costume. Very fit guy not included. I won't run in the robe, but the gloves and shorts shouldn't be a problem during the race. They're light. I still need to buy tube socks though.

Monday, October 26

We Stab It With Our Steely Knives ...

Swine flue is officially at the school, and all is calm. The sick are staying home. My Mom says the Spartanburg hospital has banned visitors except in dire emergencies and absolutely no kids. I always knew kids were trouble, and now the medical system backs me up. We decided to skip the homecoming game in the driving rain, and Your Sis feels she bolstered school spirit enough in the preceding days.

I had delivered a formal presentation at work to a national finance committee that day. It was my first such effort, and I prepared for days. I crushed it. I bestrode the meeting like a mighty colossus. Your Sis bought my bakery snacks and a 40 of Smirnoff Ice to celebrate. And, lo, did I gobble.

We got up early Saturday to prepare for the third annual pumpkin carving party. Groceries were bought and supplies stocked up. It's surprisingly difficult to find cords of firewood in this, the second half of October. I had to buy some gourmet wood packs from Lowe's. Your Sis began the cooking while I met with the senior for his project.

I'm disappointed that he isn't following up on my template of comic as research paper. Instead he's making finished pages despite not knowing what his story will entail or how long it will be. I showed him my thumbnails and script and sketches for a few of my comic projects to reiterate the need for the process. The kid allegedly is a writer, and I thought he'd latch onto the possibility of writing in layers, first with plot and then with dialogue. But he's the kind of kid who wants to go with his first notions, even if they're incomplete.

I pulled rank and assigned him homework: Give me a thumbnail outline of the comic's full story (knowing it can be adjusted) by next weekend. If he doesn't, I'll give him the same homework each week until he does. This is how comics are made. If he intends to treat comic production as the other legitimate guild skills his fellow seniors are learning, he has to respect the formal process. I admitted it sounds like I'm intentionally squelching the fun of creation, but I assured him a scaffolding of narrative will be his bestest friend come December when he's scrambling to finish this.

I talked to a few of his teachers at the carving party, and they shared similar stories. I remember being the same way in school. I thought the burst of creativity was better than planning, editing, and incremental production. You know, work. And work sucked for my lazy bones what wanted to doodle.

The party folk arrived at 5:30, and suddenly the house was filled. We had people in the library and the TV room and on the deck. I put the AMC Alien marathon on TV and asked each parent if they were OK with it around their kids. Only one blanched and that was much too late to keep her kid from seeing blood and goo. He thought it was, and I quote, awwwwwwwwwesome. We provided carving kits and drinks. People brought their pumpkins and communal snacks. Your Sis bought a growler of local beer for me to enjoy and share, and it was simply OK.

The party went well, and the firepit kept us from freezing as we reached deep into the bowels of the gourds for their sweet seed brains. The party ended at 9, but it felt much later, and all were of the mind that we do this every year. And so we shall.

Sunday, then, was our laze-about day, but we took advantage of the clear skies to carve the final pumpkins that afternoon. I plugged the iPod into cheapo exterior speakers, and we listened to Dan Savage podcasts. We're planning some joint exercise outlines to ward off the winter weight, and I need to decide on my race costume nowish. She roasted seeds in two spice combinations, and they were so good, even I couldn't give pass them up.

Picture of the Day
This is a costume for sale in Target. I don't think that word means what they think it means.