Thursday, March 29, 2007

At the Folks'

I'm in Spring for the next 20 hours or so. I came in this afternoon, and tomorrow will be nabbing Jamie and Mel and heading back to S. Austin.

Of course I'm way off schedule and everyone else has headed off for Sleepytime Junction. I was tired until about 9:00, and then my brain's second shift showed up, energized for duty. I had tried to beat them into submission with a large dinner and some wine, but no go.

As many a-Leaguer knows, my folks live in the same house I moved into in high school. And, therefore, not just the house but certain streets, car washes, bridges and loose items laying around the house are marked with that soft glow that, when you think on it too hard, tosses you back 15 years into the past. The magnifying class on the computer table is an odd anachronism, once belonging to my grandparents and now sitting here. The same calculator we bought when I was in high school, and it still works. Easter decorations I made with my own hands when I was in fifth grade.

And, of course, the notebooks of bad, bad maudlin poetry and prose that I'd hung on to at some point when I was ordered to clean out my old room. In reviewing my work, I was a rotten kid, I can tell you that much. Poor me. Lots of talk of anguish and pain, which sounds about right for the time. Drama kids.

At some point in the not-too-distant future my folks will sell this house, and it leaves me in an interesting pickle. I do not want this stuff crowding my house anymore than they want it moving with them to whatever version of Del Boca Vista Phase II in which they decide to land. When these things go to the dump, this external RAM I've been keeping of my life is going to go, too. I guess that's the nature of getting older.

These days when I come back, I don't mind if synapses fire that haven't seen a spark in years. There was a time when I found that almost threatening, but these days... there's a lot of water under the bridge, I suppose.

We'll be heading back tomorrow evening, I think. So we'll have tomorrow to sift through some of this stuff.

I might even venture into the garage attic and see if I can find my Matchbox cars.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

League Links

Nathan was recently here for SXSW. He's a bit of a journalista for Texas Public radio in San Antone...

here's some of his reporting. Go to about minute 20.

here's more

And the Texas Matters site

Neil Gaiman's Stardust is now a movie.



Yes, you can have my $8.00.

And, a timely comic strip...

It's my understanding that the nation of Turkey is a fascinating place with a culture thousands of years old, rich in the arts, and generally not a bad place as long as you don't ride the Midnight Express.

But, here, I don't think they even tried...

Flying Solo

I've been back since Monday as Jamie gets some tests run. Looks like I'll drive back to Houston on Thursday and then drive back to Austin late Friday night. My folks do this kind of trans-290 driving all the time, but I don't particularly care for it. That Stephen King audio book is going to come in real handy.

Yesterday I totally lost track of time as I puttered around the house. At this point I just expect to lose track of time for the first 36 hours or so when I'm left to my own devices.

Last night involved grabbing some pizzas and heading over to Mandy's to catch some Boston Legal (which I realized I had seen before, but had forgotten). Then home for wild night which I planned to spend blogging and watching some Adventures of Superman episodes to wrap up the series. What I forgot was that I needed to catch up on some sleep as I'd not slept much Monday night/Tuesday morning. I made it through two Superman episodes and then toddled off to bed at 11:45, which may be the earliest I've checked out for the day in over a month.

Lucy is clearly missing Jamie and Mel, Jeff is unreadable, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with myself for the next 24 hours.

At least it's sunny and warm. Shorts wearing weather. So beware my milky-white legs as they make their first appearance of the year.

As is my want, I made a detour through Toys R' Us yesterday. The mega-toy store, which was all but the Mecca of toy-lovin' kids has fallen on some hard times since the big box stores got serious about the toy business. The action figure section at your local Wal-Mart or Target is significantly better stocked than Toys R' Us, and short of a few lines Toys R' Us seems to have picked up which otherwise would only be found at comic shops and specialty merchants, their selection has dwindled to near nothing. It's kind of sad.

Toys 'R Us almost went out of business a few years ago, but some crafty Germans swooped in and bought the company right out of bankruptcy, so at least they didn't close their doors. Then Toys 'R Us parted ways with

Anyway, this is all a long, long way of mentioning that the Spider-Man 3 movie tie-in toys are out. Every time a comic-related movie is coming out, I gawk at the toys, and within a short while am able to ascertain the plot of the movie by looking at what toys and tie-ins are on the shelf. I actually figured out the plot to Superman Returns by looking at the toys about two months before the movie was released.

Not this time. Spidey 3 has incorporated a multitude of Spidey villains into the toy line that may or may not be in the movie. And if I hadn't made a pretty specific promise to Jamie that "I'm only buying DC toys from now on" about a year ago, and then a "only Superman toys" rule this year, I might have gone bonkers grabbing The Lizard and other items from the shelf.

There is one item I want, for oddly practically reasons. There's a Spider-Man 3 "bug vaccuum" that is handheld and could easily solve my problem of being unable to get at bugs in corners.

So, yeah, I'll probably be breaking my "no Spidey toys" rule.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007



Sorry I didn't call. And sorry about the rain on your birthday. I had this whole fan-dancer routine worked out I was going to perform in your yard, but it'll have to wait until a sunnier day.

Whenever I think of your birthday, I think of the time we all went rollerskating, you got kicked in the head with a skate, and we all gave up and watched Conan: The Destroyer at your house. You were seriously jacked up, but we all liked the movie. Leave it to your mom to have Conan on tap for a "plan B". Good lady, that Mrs. Peabo.

Also, one year, we went to Malibu and you totally smoked my sorry self on the track.

Monday, March 26, 2007

We had a lovely weekend.

Saturday we arrived at my folks' place, dropped off Melbotis, discovered my parents' air conditioner had died, got ready and then headed for Erica and Scott's big night.

The location wasn't too far off 288 in South Houston. It was a lovely, outdoor ceremony at dusk. The ceremony went off without a hitch, although I later heard rumors that the bride's mom had somehow disappeared prior to the ceremony and this caused some backstage consternation (no drama, she had just wandered off or something).

The reception was similarly lovely. Erica and I went to high school together, but whereas I showed up for the last three years of high school, Erica had lived in the same area since she was five. Therefore, there were a lot of faces at the wedding that I sorta-recognized, but was unable to put a name with. Aside from one, who, of course, had no recollection of me at all. And in this manner the cosmic wheel doles out justice.

Did some dancing, including some of my patented "Robot". Jamie looked totally foxy, so I got to appear as the guy with the cookie on his arm. Go, me.

Returned to Shannon and Josh's place, chatted a bit, got some sleep, and then got up in the morning yesterday for the post-wedding breakfast (which began at 8:00). The breakfast was obviously thought up by people who didn't plan on hanging near the bar at the wedding. Anyhoo, that was nice, and we got to see the bride and groom looking a little less stunned as they made their morning rounds.

Yesterday was Jamie's birthday, and I think my presents were sort of a dud, but she seemed happy enough. Shannon and Josh were nice enough to drop by for dinner.

I also found out (last, as always) that Julie B., wife of Cousin John, is expecting. Bully news, I say. John and Julie are great folks and will make ace parents, I have no doubt.

Today we dropped off Jamie at dialysis, I had lunch, then hit the road. It's raining like crazy in Austin, which I drove into around Giddings. It was all right. During Heather's recent visit, she'd loaned me a book-on-CD of Stephen King's "Dreamcatcher".

I haven't read any King since, maybe, middle-school. And somehow it's comforting to hear King's paid-by-the-word approach to a novel, with his squarely believable characters who eat the same junk you do, get hung up on the same minutia as your neighbors and are usually written awfully close to the folks you already know. In a way, it's sort of stunning how difficult a task that must be for writers to achieve. the Joe Averages who populate most novels are there specifically to remind you that average people are quirky and bizarre in their own way... But King's books are more interested in putting folks that could be you into some odd situations.

One of my great dis-satisfactions of trolling the New Fiction aisle at Barnes & Noble is that the characters all too often might as well appear in books down in the sci-fi and fantasy book sections for as much relevance as they have to my daily life. The kid winning the spelling bee with seemingly supernatural talent, the lonely widower bee keeper, the Indian kid stuck in a boat with a tiger, the Chinese peasant's family getting the tar kicked out of them for generations, the rich scenester with the tell-all about how they realized life isn't about doing copious amounts of blow, the Addams Family/dysfunctional family yarn... It's exciting to write about exciting people, no doubt. And we've all sat in a class where someone mistook their life for being worthy of novelization. So I'm not sure what the happy medium might be that I'm looking for.

That's not a knock on those books, it's much more of a knock on my own taste and patience. All stories worth telling, but none of which dwell anywhere near anything resembling the life of Bill and Kathy Armswagger in Goober Springs, Alabama. It's an oddity of the legacy of American Fiction that the person who may chronicle this period in the US most accurately might do so with stories of killer cars, rabid dogs and weird clown/ spiders. His characters are not just projections of who King wishes he could be, or cooler people living cooler lives than the author which King actually manages to swing...

That said, King still drives me nuts with his endless parenthetical asides (a crime which should be outlawed in any form of writing. It distracts, is tangential, and never really adds to the narrative at hand). I guess I'm mostly a glutton for narrative economy, possibly a by-product of reading too many comics and reading screenplays where much of the action is shown, not told. And I certainly see the flaws of which I feel guilty on the page in his work. Sometimes you wish he would simply kill his darlings... But what editor is going to tell King how to write at this point in his career?

That said, without the asides, how much of that detail I admire would survive? I'm conflicted, Leaguers.

Listening to it can be taxing, when you just want for him to describe the important action, not some-body's goofy hat.

I got through 3 discs today as I took an extra hour on taking The Admiral and KareBear's official shortcut from Manor to 71, and, I believe, missing a turn at 183. Then getting stuck in the molasses of Austin's traffic, when one adds in rain.

Jeff The Cat is quite happy that someone is home, and in a bit I'll head down to Jason's house to retrieve Lucy, whose been inside all day at Jason's. Tonight will be fun.