Letters to Holly

Thursday, November 18

Thinking Ahead

According to Your Sister, whom I'm inclined to believe, Your Parents said Tuesday they were not going to Alabama. They cited the neighbor's dog and said they agreed to take care of it over the holiday. They told her this while they were out at the baby store. When Your Sister got home, she found a message on the phone. It was Your Parents. Saying they were going.

By the time you read this, their answer probably changed four times.

We're talking about various Future Baby Concerns including gates and locks and playpens. He's fairly immobile right now; you set him down, and he won't go anywhere. But eventually those knees will find purchase, and he'll probably rocket himself into the ceiling fans. We figured out how to fence in the kitchen and TV room. Also we discussed how we should teach him to refer to his bathing suit area. I suggested "battleship."There was no applause. In related news, the boy seems to have learned how to cough, and it's his new party trick. If you cough back at him, he laughs.

Ingles held a companywide food drive yesterday complete with soldiers standing outside next to donation canisters. I bought a small bag of items from his posted list and offered to buy him something from Starbucks. He wouldn't hear of it. I assume he didn't want to tempt fate amid limited pee breaks.

Moving Picture of the Day
Another comic book film. I don't know this title, but that's a nice cast except, honestly, I'm seeing Olivia Wilde everywhere, and it's getting boring.

Wednesday, November 17

Weak Copies and Grand Masters

I was so concerned about leaving my concert ticket at home that I kept in in the car for three days. I was ramped up. Not so much in eagerness to see Sir Elton, but in a heightened pessimism that my ducks should be lined up when the inevitable obstacle falls from the sky. It didn't. I saw the show. It was huge.

Your Sister called right as I parked to say she and the sidekick were in town meeting Your Parents at a baby store. We couldn't meet for dinner as she was on her way home. After a quick dinner at the Noodle Shop (with a West Wing scriptbook), I snuck into the nearby 16 Patton Gallery to pursue a mystery. I was in there last week as a new exhibition was being assembled, and I saw a near life-size reproduction of a Bouguereau. That's my favorite artist. I know my guy. This is the original, Evening Mood.

Here's the copy.

I hadn't seen this gallery offer reproductions before. Not direct reproductions, anyway. Anna Jurik's work includes a series of people taking in artworks in museums, and her work includes those art pieces.

I like Jurik's work. It exemplifies everything good about oil paint. I was sorely tempted to buy one earlier this year but couldn't justify the cost.

Anyway, the Bouguereau copy is weak, and I couldn't figure out why it would hang in a gallery with this pedigree. I consider it on par with Blue Spiral. They shouldn't offer this kind of knock-off. I wondered if they knew it was a copy and secretly hoped I could bust the artist for trying to sneak one on the local art scene. I downloaded a copy of the original on my Droid (or, as Your Sister first called it, Doctor Oid) and prepared my comments to whoever was minding the gallery.

Turns out the painting is part of a display from a local fine arts club dedicated, their flyer says, to studying and creating realistic fine art. So this was a student's work. To his credit, or maybe his teacher's, the ID card notes the original, calling it a reference. I think that's a stingy word choice. Not stingy is the asking price.

That's some chutzpah right there. You could probably buy a print of the original for a few hundred.

I killed some time at the nearby art store and discovered a portfolio designed to the dimensions of my comic art boards. That would make it easier for me to make sketches at that size for the convention and sell them. I made use of downtown's new-ish public bathrooms (very practical, not decorous) and browsed Malaprop's. About 7:10 I headed to the civic center and got in a line that strung from the center's front door to the parking deck behind the library. There were two big concerts in town, and the parking spaces vanished quickly. I felt pretty good about getting a first-floor space three hours before the show began. Leaving would be a breeze.

I sat between two sets of women in the back right corner of the civic center. The stage was a simple platform on the concrete floor, and the room was a barebones brick box.

But once the lights went down and the stage lights went up, none of that mattered. We got three hours of Elton John. Kinda.

The show was advertised as a greatest-hits show by Elton. But he recently released an album with Leon Russell, whom he cites as an influence. Elton took the stage at 8:07 to explain how the night would go: Russell would play some of his solo hits, Elton would play a few of his, they would play from their new album, and Elton would finish the concert. That duo material was a solid hour of the show, and it was all new stuff. Some folks around me grumbled at that, and I admit that it's not what we paid for. But one gets the feeling Elton is gonna do the show his way, and the new stuff isn't bad. It's very much in keeping with the classic Elton sound: background harmonies to kill for, honkytonk piano, and white soul vocal phrasing.

When he did play the classics, they each had a vigor that made them practically new-sprung works. "Rocketman," for instance lasted well over ten minutes and drifted into gospel, blues, and prog rock. He's got a galaxy of songs to choose from, and I'm glad to say I heard some of my favorites -- "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," especially -- and didn't hear those overplayed on local radio -- "Get Back Honky Cat" and "Crocodile Rock."

There was no intermission. A three-hour show like that is worth the money even if it's not what the money was coughed up for. I think Your Mom and Sister would have balked had they come along. As it as, streams of folks left at 11, presumably to relieve babysitters.

Leaving the parking deck was indeed a snap and well worth the special-event fee. I picked up a soda and candy bar at a local convenience store (while evading beer-seeking hobos) and drove home with my ears ringing and my grin glaring.

Moving Picture of the Day
Earlier this year, Warner Brothers realized they owned DC Comics, a goldmine of licensing material, and cranked up several movie projects. The success of the Batman and Marvel films (Iron Man, Spider-Man, X-Men) suggests the superhero genre isn't fading. The first of the new films is Green Lantern, and the trailer was released with the new Harry Potter film.

Speaking as a comic fan, this isn't bad. They've brought in a LOT of the Lantern franchise instead of hedging their bets. The hero is a cocky pilot and the origin also seems intact from the comics. This looks like the next big thing for boys.

Because the trailer deals so much with fighting fear, I think the It Gets Better project could make some headway by handing out lantern rings to show support for gay kids.

Tuesday, November 16

Mutable Plans

Your Sister and Sister-in-Law talked yesterday and worked out some details of Thanksgiving. Then Your Brother called me, and we exchanged new information. As of yesterday afternoon, Your Parents were going to Alabama. As of six hours later, they are not. Many pairs of hands were thrown into the air.

We are going. We are on the record with this. Sharing rooms will let us stay in in the Alabama house, and the single grandparents will share a room. I ran the suggestion by My Mom, and she's OK with it. Also, we're not coming back the day after we drive down. I told Your Brother we'll call to keep them informed as we drive down, but we have no idea how long this might take.

I thought the radio interview was on the weekend, but it's tonight ... while I'm at the Elton John concert. Crap beans. I was told another interview ext week might be possible, but as we're leaving town for Thanksgiving, there remains only a small window of opportunity.

New carpet welcomed me to the house. It's not much different than the original, but the padding is better. And of course the new carpet is a billion times cleaner. I unplugged and unhooked and de-cabled the TV and its accessories before leaving home and reconnected everything when I returned. The wifi wouldn't work. I checked the phone cable and AC wire and hit the reboot buttons. Nothing. I checked the phone outlet and found it working. I wondered if the carpet people had nudged the baseboards against the internal wiring and spent a few minutes wondering how soon they could come back and fix it and if they'd need to hire an electrician. Finally, I moved around the plugs to different outlets. That worked. It shouldn't make a difference. A cosmetic change like this shouldn't affect the contraption. And yet. That kind of fix is akin to magic. "I'm doing this in hopes a meaningless alteration will make something work the way I want." Took me almost an hour to get it going again.

Picture of the Day
Sometimes the British tabloids give us something beyond cheesecake and fake news. Here's a look of images from the new space station window. This image in particular is straight out of an industrial scifi movie. Yet she's really up there, 220 miles above us, reclining in a TIE Fighter cockpit.

Monday, November 15

Talking About Shows

I sometimes hit the local comic store on my Friday lunch break. Comics come out on Wednesday, and that day is usually the busiest as people take their own lunch breaks and grab the newest issues. I avoid that scene. I go to the mall on Thursdays, making Friday my best choice for killing an hour there.

Last Friday, I ran into a guy who co-hosts a local radio show on comics, and he asked if I wanted to sit in on a few shows. I could pimp my minicomics and chat about recent comic happenings. (Me, talk about myself for a couple of hours? Where do I sign up?) He interviewed me during the convention this summer, and he reran that segment on air within the last few weeks, so I hear. As it stands, I can't hear the show in Mayberry. The station is too weak to reach that far, but it does stream online. I want to do this. I have to figure out when.

Later that day, Your Sister and I were invited to a dinner with a teacher buddy and her son. Like his mom, the kid is smallish, and he seems to weigh the same as the deputy even though he's two years older. Of course, our boy is tall for his age.

I ran into my theatre liaison at the grocery store, and he caught me up on the company's doings. You might remember he, like me, swore up and down that he was walking away from them. But, unlike me, he's too nice to watch them founder and continued the work with playbills and publicity. One of the folks who succeeded him quit in a huff, and he picked up the slack. He noted that even though the rent on the theatre space had been cut in half, the company faces a complete lack of money around March.

The director of the Christmas show can't find a lead, even though that show opens within a month. He might shutter the production if no one can be found. They're looking for singers and haven't contacted me about it. I noted to my liaison that the group could dust off one of their other scripts and do a reading theatre in a short amount of time. This would unfortunately mean they'd change shows yet again after selling tickets, but it's better than refunding tickets sold for a show that never hits the stage. There are reasons reading theatre is my default suggestion for this group: it's easy, cheap, and doesn't require full casting. Do it as a faux radio production, and you have something unique in an area awash with theatre groups. But, of course, I have stepped away, and those ideas no longer have an advocate. And the company is this close to closing. Maybe those facts are connected. Maybe not.

As I talked to My Mom last night, she asked if I missed theatre. I said I missed the Greenville group specifically, but I don't miss doing bad theatre amid a constant string of bad decisions. I don't miss the ever-present hum of regret as I stand onstage and watch someone bungle their lines when they have script in hand. And it would be magnified now by the realization that, for this, I didn't do my turns at feeding and bedtime for a month.

Picture of the Day
Hokey smoke, are our maps bad.