Letters to Holly

Friday, January 21


You may have noticed a new text block on the right. I noticed in my Goggle stats that I was getting traffic from that site, and I figured it was the usual phishing link scam. But this site actually posts my blog link on their page among others it claims contribute to its gallery of reviews. I do not. The site offers nothing in the way of contact links, leaving me no way to tell them to go eat a bug. Petitioning blogspot's legal department requires me to scan and upload my driver's license for legal verification, but I don't want that online, even squirreled away in Google's virtual subbasements.

We hooked up our dish receiver box to our internet to play with On Demand video. DirecTV offers a legion of free films and shows organized by channel. You scan through and find the show you want, and it downloads to our recorder. It's like Hulu, right down to the cost: free. And that's confusing. I can watch a HBO series, for instance, whenever I want without paying for the HBO channel. If I pay for HBO, I'd have to wait for shows to air in HBO's schedule to watch them. Seems like HBO would charge for any-time access to their programs. DirecTV offers free access to programming from channels we don't pay for, and now I can't see why we would ever pay for those channels.

The sidekick is inching closer to crawling. He can get his knees underneath him and push with his toes. He's making the transition from swimming. But he'll need to build up his neck muscles to carry that gigantic noggin around.

The comic work continues apace as the sketchy thumbnails become tighter and I move my imaginary camera around the action. I'll post progress work later.

Picture of the Day
I didn't know they closed-captioned R2. Was there a committee to organize noises into appropriate emotional categories? How do you get that job?

Wednesday, January 19

Dumb Dubbing Dammit

The dubbed cassette music is muddy, and I blame the lack of equalization on the tape player. I've decided to buy the albums from iTunes (if available) over the next few months. I waited ten years or so for the music in digital form. I can wait a little more.

I found on Amazon a MP3 version of the Depeche Mode album I mentioned yesterday. Amazon sells it for $7 including remixes of the whole CD. That beats iTunes. With prices that low, I can buy the digital files in one batch instead of stretching it over a few paychecks. I'll have to go with CDs for Def Leppard as they aren't on iTunes for whatever reason. I don't understand why artists wouldn't want to be on iTunes. They stand to make more per download than they would through physical CD sales. Not everyone will have the kind of reception and immediate success The Beatles did when they went to iTunes. I mean, look at me, Lepprd. Look at the lengths I'm going to for your music. But I'm a diehard fan. How many casual fans could you ring up at the register if you hopped on iTunes?

The sidekick attended his first library kids' event. As one of the youngest there, he was the object of fascination of the other kids. I hope this boosts his immune system. His flu seemed to pass within a week. As did mine. He was a terror to put down last night. He was clearly sleepy, but he wouldn't gear down, and it took both types of milk (bottle and tap) to get him down. I'll try it again tonight when Your Sister goes to yoga, and I hope my limited supply can do the job.

I checked on Your Parents' house, and all seemed well. The plants were watered, and the oil furnace is near capacity. I really like that basement and it's half-bath. That would make a great workshop for my stuff. I assume a local kid is feeding the cat, but she doesn't seem to be cleaning the litter box. I'll tend to it if there's no improvement by next week.

Picture of the Day
Now that Michael Steele has left the RNC post, it seems his character will be retired by The Daily Show. They smelled this change in the breeze and introduced a John McCain puppet last week. So he's my avatar for now.

Tuesday, January 18


Listening to music from my wide-eyed days has shaken me to the gray-haired roots. I copied and heard the two Twin Peaks soundtracks and Depeche Mode's Songs of Faith and Devotion, a quasi-industrial record based on religious imagery. So, yes, your typical dramatic college music. But it all holds up. I think it does, anyway. I'm pretty sure I'm not bolstering it to validate my old interests. I mean, I have no problem mocking my old fashion sense, including my perpetual trenchcoat and dangling earrings. No wonder college buddies took me to gay bars. My afternoon was a fog of distortion and deep, repetitive bass tones. I remembered mindsets long shelved, and I wonder if this is how midlife crises start.

Probably didn't help that I had the Naked Lunch movie running in the background. I saw this film at ECU's old student center cinema and loved it. I was already a reader of Burroughs, and I thought the movie was a dead-on adaptation of a novel that was supposedly impossible to adapt. Legend has it Burroughs was so whacked out on drugs that he didn't know his friends had published his writings until after the book was printed and making money. The film is about a bug exterminator who disappears into a hallucination of a foreign land after he accidentally kills his wife. Burroughs actually did kill his wife in the manner the film gives us: He would shoot glasses off her head in what they called the William Tell party trick. The last time they did it, he missed the glass.

Comparing the film to the book was an evoltuonary advance in my critical thinking skills. Seing it again yesterday revealed what I missed the first times I watched it, yet it felt like slipping on an once beloved shirt. A lot of intensely earnest English majors go to the beatniks for at least a few months, and I chose Burroughs over Ginsberg and Kerouac. He was Hunter S. Thompson before Hunter was Hunter.

 I had this soundtrack on CD, and I remember My Mom hearing it waft out of my bedroom and asking if it was supposed to sound like an acid trip.

"Heroin," I corrected her, and she walked off wondering why they just didn't buy a cat instead of siring a weirdo.

I was initially drawn back from the ennui abyss by my cassette of a Paul Simon anthology, but the tape flows from bouncy '70s pop to a crowd of heartbreak and nostalgia, and that didn't help what was becoming the damp, drizzly November in my soul. Then I ended the night by reading from Steven King and having a dream incorporating Silence of the Lambs (Your Sister and I bought a house with bodies packed behind the clapboards, and suspicion grew that one of us was responsible). My brain has tumbled backward 20 years, and I'm simultaneously invigorated and exhausted from all that black-box urgency.

My iPod-powered commute will definitely have a different tinge to it. I wish car stereos allowed us to tune into others' iPods during commutes. I always wonder what mixes other folks have crafted.

Picture of the Day
This image reminds me that I started sketching my comic pages at a larger size. This is the hard work of tightening camera angles and solving anatomy problems.The final large pages will be a cinch once this step is completed.

Monday, January 17

Clearing Away the Debris

I once had boxes of cassettes. As part of my bedroom cocoon in high school, I taped songs off the radio for my imaginary radio station, and I had as many official tapes I'd buy at the mall. Moving a number of times in ten years whittled them down to a shoebox of treasured albums: Twin Peaks, Depeche Mode, adaptations of The Shadow, Hamlet and Les Miserables.

I had the notion for years now to burn them to digital files, but my two options involved elaborate Goldbergian methods to make copies or paying someone to do it for me. The local radio store does this, and I hesitated, hoping a simplified option would emerge, and finally it did.

Using Audacity, the software I already have for remixing music, I learned I only needed a dubbing cable to connect a tape player with the laptop. Luckily, we had a tape player. Unluckily, the store most likely to have that cable, Radio Shack, isn't open on weekends. Because, really, who shops on weekends? I hopped into Kmart on the off-chance they'd have it, and they did. The packaging is so contemporary, it doesn't mention cassette dubbing. I am a man from the distant past.

Your Sister lent me her classroom tape player, and I've already made copies of my Def Leppard tapes. I was surprised to see how many tapes I had already replaced with albums bought off iTunes, but I will be able to hold onto my drama adaptations and hear them during my commute. This tape copying has lingered over my head for years. It's a relief to chip away at that cloud.

I also chopped at the driveway ice, and the remnants were sizable. The flat area was still a sheetcake of snow and ice, and it took more than an hour Sunday to clean it away. I only worked at it because we're predicted to get more ice and snow this week, and I didn't want to surrender any ground to the elements.

We took the sidekick sledding Saturday morning. It was a passive experience for him; Your Sister and I took turns holding him as we went down hills at the school. This was my first time as I grew up in flat lands, and I stunk at it. Your Sister was on a varsity skill level, diving belly first on the sled and down the hill. She's determined to get back into pre-baby recklessness. No, not recklessness. Spontaneity. We then left for lunch, and she inhaled a bowl of chili.

I made simple borders for some of my comic pages and ordered a mess of more. I tried Amazon, but the storefront wanted to charge me shipping for each bundle I bought. Instead, I went to the manufacturer and bought more than twice as many pages for the same amount I would have paid Amazon. Now I have 100 pages lurching through the mail service toward our citadel of ice. The month is half over. I have to start cranking out art.

Picture of the Day
Keep within reach at all times.