Thursday, October 26, 2006

LONDON CALLING: Cheerio, Pip Pip

(I had considered recapping my recent trip to London in a straightforward, chronological fashion. There are two reasons I'm not going to do that: (1) it would have made more sense if I'd composed the entries during the actual trip, which I did not, and (2) that would be so boring. Then it would just be a diary. So instead, I'm going to break up my thoughts into several posts, and try and sort them into topics. Or at least, that's the idea. We'll see how that goes. For now, let's open with some initial musings.)

The first thing you do when someone comes back from a trip is to ask a simple question: "How was your trip?" So when you go on a trip, you've got no excuse for not anticipating the question. You'd better have a pretty good answer.

Right now, I've got three.

- "My trip was wet." The raininess of England is not only true. It is completely without exaggeration. Our first day in London was surprisingly clear. Even sunny. By the next morning, the grey had started to seep in. By the time we reached Stonehenge on Day 3, the rain was out in full force, and had no intention of leaving.

It was raining today in Chicago, and that helped me figure out what was so different about London rain. London had very little wind. Chicago, of course, has a reputation built upon wind. And therein lies the difference. In London, the rain just falls on you. It starts in the sky, lands on you, and there you go. The rain doesn't get thrown at you like little hailstones, the way it does in Chicago. Here, the rain beats you up. Not fun. I think I prefer the London version.

It's certainly not a torrential rain. We only heard thunder once. I can only describe it as steady. Constant. It falls and falls and there's not much you can do about it because it's not leaving anytime soon. (I suggest you bring an umbrella to the 2012 Olympics.) You won't drown in it, but you'll be damp a good portion of the time. I can see how it might get a little wearying after a while. Personally, I was just glad to experience the true Britain.

- "My trip was short." I've lived in Chicago for ten years now, and I don't totally feel like I've even fully explored my own neighborhood. Let's not even get into the South Side, which, I'm sorry to say, I haven't really gotten into. So the idea of trying to explore a foreign country for the very first time in only five days is patently ridiculous. It was never going to happen.

That said, London is absolutely huge, and I don't think there's any way on earth I could have appreciated just how outmatched I was going to be. Of the places we did get to, almost any one of them could have occupied an entire day on my itinerary. It was kind of frustrating. (Although it did inspire my brilliant idea for a travel guide series, Shane Wilson's 30 Days, 30 Ways, in which I visit a city for a month, and spend each day exploring one particular historical attraction or museum or whatever. It would be thoroughly impractical as a travel guide, but a lot of fun to research.)

What we ended up doing was what I call a checklist tour. This is where you mentally tick off all the things you actually see from a list of things you could have seen. This is a variation on what happened the very first time I came to Chicago, as the guest of my old school chum Laura Niesman, and we went to the Art Institute with very little time to spare, so we ended up racing through the museum, stopping only long enough to glance at paintings we recognized. Change the museum to one of the largest cities in the world and a couple hours to five days, and it's practically the same thing. In that sense, we did very well. Saw a lot of big London sights. Only now I have to go back to see what I missed. Which is unfortunate, because I still have the rest of Europe to race through and only scratch the surface.

- "My trip was comfortable." This was the biggest surprise, because I couldn't help but expect to find England...well, foreign. I mean, sure, they speak the same language, and sure, the bulk of my heritage comes from the British Isles. But still, it's another country. I needed a passport and everything. And yet...

You can put the cars on the other side of the street, but big cities are still big cities. I think I had this notion that I would be completely unable to get my bearings. I would be utterly lost, and everyone would recognize me as an alien, and point at me like Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and screech. And that didn't happen. From the moment I stepped off the plane, it felt like a place I could understand, that I could get along in.

I'm not explaining this well, because reading this part back, I sound like a complete idiot. But I guess I was prepared for it to feel weird. Different. Foreign. And it wasn't. Clair asked me if I thought I could live in London, and in the sense that it could be overwhelming like New York, I'd probably have to think about it. But in the sense of being comfortable? Feeling natural? Yeah, I could do it easily. And that was a pleasant surprise.

And that's how my trip was. For starters.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Quick One While He's Away

Clair and I leave for London today.

I've never been to London. Or Europe. Or out of the country, in the true sense of travel. Here's a quick summary of my global exploits:

- Banff, Alberta, Canada - one week
- Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada - a few hours
- Tijuana, Mexico - a couple hours, mostly spent in line to get back into the U.S.
- Fajardo, Puerto Rico - one week, which either is (according to the Olympics) or isn't (according to the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries) part of the United States

It's not an impressive list, especially when you consider that my grandparents have visited the Great Wall of China, my dark-haired friend Holly became the hottest thing to hit blond Stockholm, and my wife once went on a pilgrimage to Yugoslavia. The Banff Springs Hotel is nice, but doesn't quite compete.

I have this notion that I'm going to blog from London. That I'm going to keep track of my journeys in that fashion. But since I can't manage to do that here at home, the odds are probably against me. Still, you never know.

I'm going to London. That's incredibly cool.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

RED ENVELOPES / FINAL CUT: All Praise the Pixels

Of the approximately 436 animated movies to come out in the past 12 months, roughly 93% have been CGI epics about wild creatures coming into hilarious conflict with the modern world. I even ended up watching one of them, while trapped in a steel tube hurtling towards in an island in the middle of the Pacific. (That would be Over the Hedge, about which all the newspapers ads have quoted me as saying, "Not as bad as you'd think.") But the news is not all giggles and digital bears. Only a handful of these movies are being considered financial hits. This, thanks to the peculiar world of Wall Street, where a film like Cars can make over a half a billion dollars at the global box office, and still be considered to have "underperformed". But there's a much bigger problem. Many of these films are not especially good.

Perhaps you're thinking the solution here is obvious: make better movies. This is why you most likely do not work in Hollywood, or if you do, investors will never trust you to make the right movies. No, according to one source, the powers that be have decided that there are just too many CGI movies, and they need to make less of those and more hand-drawn films. This is a marvelous theory, especially since only a couple years ago, those same geniuses shut down their traditional animation units because they'd determined that people didn't like hand-drawn movies anymore. I mean, why else didn't they flock in droves to see Home on the Range?

Anyway, they're not going to listen to me and just make better movies. After all, the live-action films are largely crap, so why wouldn't the animated ones follow suit? So let me speak to Hollywood executives in a language they understand: utter illogic. Here's my proposal to you, Hollywood. Maybe the reason moviegoers don't go to see your movies is because...wait for it...they're too long. That's right, it's those darned attention spans that kept everyone from going to see The Wild. You need to make short films. Look at YouTube! Yes, short CGI animated films are the key to economic success.

Of course, I don't believe this for a second. But the short masterpieces I watched this weekend could very easily prove the point. In less than 15 minutes, I saw movies that managed to have more humor and more emotion than any 15 minutes of Open Season.

It began with the Academy Award-winning Ryan, courtesy of our friends at Netflix. (Who only had a broken copy here in Chicago, so they had to send me a copy from the San Jose warehouse, which just fascinates me.) Ryan is, of all things, a documentary. It's the story of an animator, oddly enough, by the name of Ryan Larkin. He made a few remarkable shorts under the auspices of the National Film Board of Canada, and got an Oscar nomination himself. This was in the early 70s, and the prevalence of drugs and alcohol combined with an already fragile psyche to completely unhinge Larkin, and he eventually wound up as a panhandler on the streets of Montreal.

It's kind of a downer, no? But in the hands of director Chris Landreth, it becomes something else entirely. This isn't just Ryan's story in CGI form. No, Landreth has used the animation form to reveal the psychological truth of the tale. So Ryan's appearance, as befits a man with a shattered ego, is that of a broken shell. His face is incomplete, his skin doesn't entirely cover his body. In short, he now looks in physical form the way he does emotionally. It sounds grotesque, but it's riveting to watch.

Other participants appear a sketches drawn by Larkin. And Landreth doesn't spare himself. As an active character in the piece, he comes off as plenty screwed up in his own way. At one point, when he makes a stab at intervention, a round flourescent bulb projects from his head, creating a halo just as false as his intentions. (Indeed, in a documentary on the DVD, when Landreth shows Larkin the film for the first time, it's hard to tell who is more uncomfortable: Ryan for seeing how he appears to the world, or Chris for trying to convince himself he's not exploiting a defenseless man.) And later, when a possible reason for Landreth's interest in Ryan surfaces, the animation tells you all you need to know in a matter of seconds. It's a devastating finale, and it shows the raw power that animation can have, if put to a higher purpose.

For good measure, two of Landreth's earlier works, the knowingly-pretentious the end and the creepy Bingo, are included. They help to demonstrate how much Landreth advanced when it came to Ryan. What's more, three of Larkin's films are available for viewing. Walking and Street Musique get all the attention in Ryan, and they are remarkable works, which play endlessly with the morphing abilities of animation. But it's an earlier piece, a wordless fable in charcoal called Syrinx, that was most captivating. Somehow, the pictures seemed to re-draw themselves. Like, I actually felt that the drawing was happening there on the screen, not on some animation table.

In a way, this was a perfect set-up for the Chicago International Film Festival's presentation of Pixar short films. For as much as Cars was a disappointment (in a "yeah, it was good, but it just wasn't the kind of great that it needed to be" kind of way), Pixar remains the foremost practitioner of making dots of light show emotion. That's still evident in their smash debut, Luxo Jr. The tale of two desk lamps, Luxo Jr. shows that you don't even need to change the set, let alone have dialogue or facial expression, to tell a story. The two lamps never leave the desk. They just play with a ball, never straying further than the end of their plugs.

All this was really the set-up for the maiden directorial effort for seven-time Academy Award-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom. He came to Chicago to present the first ever public screening of a five-minute masterpiece called Lifted. I really can't tell you what it's about. (It will come out next summer, as the appetizer for Ratatouille, and I don't want to spoil any of it for you.) What I can tell you is that we asked to see it again. Rydstrom's a hit. Like the best of these movies, Lifted was funny, it did what only animation can do, and it did it without famous celebrity voices. It didn't work just because it was CGI. It didn't even work just because it was short.

It worked because it was really, really good.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

BRIC-A-BRAC: The Rodent and the Great Emancipator? They Miss You

This has been nagging at me for a while. It's time to get it out in the open. Ease my psychic burden once and for all.

It started innocently enough. The commercial opened with a sleepy man walking into a kitchen, where he finds Abraham Lincoln and a beaver sitting at the dinner table. Behind them, an aquanaut is doing the dishes.

The ad, for a sleep drug which shall go nameless because they're not paying me a dime to talk about this, is silly. Why is this guy dreaming about Lincoln and a beaver playing chess? Who knows? You're just supposed to take it on faith that all these things are floating through his head at night. Whatever. It's no neon butterfly soaring across America, dispensing slumber at every turn, but if they think it will sell beaucoups of sleeping pills, then more power to them. I even got a chuckle out of it. The guy apologizes to the figments of his imagination for not sleeping much, and Lincoln replies, "Hey, it's cool." Lincoln says "cool". I'm down with it.

Then I started seeing the bus ads. Empty fields, filled only with a forlorn Lincoln and beaver. A teeter-totter, empty on one side, Lincoln and beaver on the other. A motorcycle, with an abandoned 16th President and his dam-building companion stranded in the sidecar. (Evidently they couldn't get the aquanaut to commit to the print campaign.) And the only thing explaining these bizarre tableaux is a URL, conveying the cryptic message, "They Miss You."

I've seen the commercial. I know what they're trying to sell. I can't begin to fathom what someone who hasn't seen it is thinking. I know ads are getting really obscure these days. But these posters on the side of the el are so utterly devoid of context, all I can envision is brain-freezes throughout the city. They're just so freakin' weird. What should a person think when the train pulls up and there, on the side, is a despondent-looking Abraham Lincoln. Why Lincoln? Why a beaver? WHY?

(To make matters worse, I'm currently tryring to get through the very-compelling-but-exceedingly-long Team of Rivals, an account of the rise to power and presidency of, yes, Abraham Lincoln. So there I am, reading about how Lincoln is trying to compose his first inaugural address, and the Purple line to Evanston comes rolling by, and I look up to see Lincoln, visibly sighing as he holds one end of an unused jump rope. With the beaver on the opposite end. And they miss me. Very disconcerting.)

Personally, I have this additional level of confusion attached to the making of the ads. I'm imagining this guy getting the call from his agent, learning that he's going to be playing the part of Abraham Lincoln. Finally, all those years of acting classes and playing Editor Webb in countless community theater productions of Our Town and working as the assistant controller for the AAMCO Southwest Regional office are paying off. He's going to play the man who saved the Union. And then the agent goes on.

Abraham Lincoln. In a commercial for sleeping pills.

With a CGI beaver.

Saying, "Hey, it's cool."

How weird must this guy feel shooting the pictures for these ads? "Okay, Abe, just hold the jump rope, and look sad about the fact that the guy whose dreams you haunt isn't catching any z's tonight. Oh, and try not to drop the beaver." Or is the beaver even there? Is he completely CGI? Does Lincoln have to stand there all by himself? Is he method? Is he picturing his little co-star being there?

There are a lot of perplexing ads battling for my attention these days. I don't know if I'm more puzzled by the SUV commercial that depicts a divorced dad getting to spend an extra weekend with his kids or the spot that uses images of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the World Trade Center Towers of Light memorial to sell trucks. There are multiple commercials involving cars getting into massive traffic accidents. Hardly a day has gone by in the past five years where I haven't seen a Geico ad. Madison Avenue has a lot to answer for. So it's a real tribute to these damn sleep aid commercials that they've managed to cut through the clutter and emerge as the weirdest ads around.

I think I'm losing more sleep because of these ads.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

DIAMONDS & HORSEHIDE: Rooting Interests

I'm pretty proud of my hatred of the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are the most successful team in the history of baseball. They have won 26 World Championships, roughly a quarter of all those awarded. Many of the greatest players ever to take the field have worn Yankee pinstripes. The team plays in the most lucrative market in America, and consistently fields the highest payroll in the sport. The owner is obnoxious, the press is abusive, the fans feel entitled. Sportswriter Red Smith famously commented, "Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for U.S. Steel." I contend that if he were making the comparison today, he would equate them with Starbucks. Hating them is really a breeze.

Of course, in recent years, it's been harder to hate them, for the simple reason that the players really aren't hateful people. How do you hate Hideki Matsui? What's really that offensive about Jorge Posada? And Joe Torre? I gained an appreciation for his skill as a manager when he turned the hapless Dale Murphy-era Atlanta Braves into a playoff team in the early 80s. A swell guy. Hate him?

But the fact remains, they're the Yankees. As Jerry Seinfeld might say, I'm rooting against laundry. More accurately, I'm rooting against Yankee fans. There are 30 teams in baseball. I don't subscribe to the view that one of them should start every season with an advantage, and only that team should end up victorious. I like everyone to share in the fun.

So I root against the Yankees. It's pure instinct. In November of 2001, when New York was recovering in the aftermath of you-know-what, a lot of people felt like for once, New York really deserved to win. They needed the psychic boost. I could understand that. And you know what? I was still pulling with all my might for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I just couldn't pull for the Yannkees. Couldn't do it. Still can't.

So I have thoroughly enjoyed the past six years of baseball. The Yankees haven't won in all that time. Oh, they've won a lot of games. Even a couple pennants. But not the game they really want to win. Good times.

Last week, it happened again. The upstart Detroit Tigers knocked them off in four games. In the space of a few years, they went from being the worst team in baseball to knocking off the vaunted New York Yankees. Deeply satisfying. My wife will confirm that I sat in front of the television reveling in the misfortune of the Bronx Bombers. They were going home earlier than they intended.

One of those going home was a pitcher by the name of Cory Lidle.

In nine seasons, Lidle played for seven teams. He came to the Yankees this summer in a trade whose real attraction was slugger Bobby Abreu. It must have felt like quite a fortunate turn. A decade ago, he was a pariah for crossing the picket line. Now he was taking the mound for one of the most legendary teams in sport, and a team almost destined fro the playoffs.

This afternoon, mere days after his season ended, Cory Lidle piloted a single-engine into a skyscraper on the upper east side of Manhattan. He was a major league baseball player with a wife and a son, and he was a year and a half younger than I am.

Also, he was a New York Yankee.

I don't regret rooting against the Yankees. I don't regret Detroit beating them, and I don't regret that Cory Lidle's season ended with the fourth game of the American League Division Series.

I regret that his life ended with the fourth game of the American League Division Series.

I'm working on making all that work out in my mind.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Keeping the Doctor Far, Far Away

I picked an apple this weekend.

Actually, I picked several. I'd never done that before. Pretty cool.

My close encounter with farming came courtesy of our friends the Larsens, who located an orchard in some future ex-urb called Homer Glen, which sounds like the real name of a relief pitcher who goes by the name "Slick." The giant suburban houses with the mammoth lawns and the artificial lakes are just the other side of the fence; in any other neighborhood, the orchard would be a golf course. In fact, it's not really accurate to call it an orchard. They clearly grew all manner of foodstuffs: pears, peaches, sweet corn, raspberries (which they spelled without the p), grapes, pumpkins, trees and vines and fields of every sort. (I'm just going to pretend that the chickens were there strictly for the eggs.) Of course, most of those crops had already been picked over. But there were still apples. Juicy, fresh, honest-to-goodness apples.

I will admit that I've always been a pretty urban fellow. My parents loved to hop in the car and drive for hours and hours, with no real destination in mind, which to an adolescent is like being in a rolling prison. So I've never been the kind of person who's itching to get in touch with nature.

Still, I'm only human. I like trees and mountains and starry skies and all that stuff. So when I found myself standing next to a tiny tree with little honeycrisp apples hanging from the branches, even a self-professed urbanite such as myself had to appreciate the moment.

There is something truly satisfying about plucking an apple from a tree and immediately taking a bite out of it. You can't eat a steak fresh off the cow. So we really got into the swing of things, marching up and down the rows of trees with a little wagon, tracking down the finest specimens of apples we could. It was a beautiful sunny day, we were in the middle or nature, and we weren't underpaid immigrants picking apples because it was the only way we could support our families. Life was good.

My wife and I ended up collecting 20 apples. Several fujis, a couple honeycrisps, at least one giant golden delicious. The Larsens claimed about three times as many. I believe they plan to give some as gifts; I'm guessing the rest they will serve with every meal they eat for the next three weeks. I mean, that's a lot of apples. But that's okay. We were caught up in the spirit of apples.

It was almost uncanny to click over to my friends at Slate and find a diatribe against pick-your-own-apple orchards. The worst was the comparison of the dwarf trees to fattened veal. Thanks for spoiling my fun, guys. Seriously, two days later. I expect a Slate article about blogging on Thursday.

I'm not going to let it get me down. Not anytime soon, anyway. I got out of the house. I talked to the trees. I have apples to last me through next week. I'm a nature-lovin' guy.

I'm not camping or anything, but it's a start.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

They're Gonna Put Me In the Movies

I have made my YouTube debut.

I had not discovered the glories of YouTube until I came to Jellyvision. Was it around before then? It must have been, but who knows? What I do know is, now that I've found it, my time has never been in more danger.

I think it started when Thea, one of the other writers, sent around a link to this bizarre Japanese TV show, which evidently attempts to combine increasingly disturbing English lessons with low-impact aerobics. From there, I was directed by another writer, Andy, to enjoy Mr. T's very 80s fashion tips. From there, it was a steep decline.

It's an amazing repository of stuff. Want to embarrass both Jason Alexander AND the McDonald's Corporation? No problem. Miss a favorite segment of The Daily Show? Easily fixed. (Hey, Dan!) Want to see two teenagers make a better Star Wars movie than George Lucas? Coming right up.

One of the greatest benefits has been the ability to rediscover old music videos. I've long contended that there ought to be some sort of channel that played music videos. A Music Television network, if you will, or at least One that played Video Hits. But alas, no such creature exists. Fortunately, YouTube and a blatant disregard for copyright laws has brought them back. In recent weeks, I've enjoyed the Squueze video for "Hourglass" that I only got to see once back in 1987, a Paul McCartney video for "Beautiful Night" that I didn't even know existed, and Weezer's appearance on The Muppet Show in "Keep Fishin'". Take that, Laguna Beach.

My personal favorite re-discovery was a montage that ESPN made years ago for the end of the year. I remember watching this and being reduced to a blubbering idiot by the perfectly-edited collection of sports clips, even to the point of being suckered in by Aerosmith's "Dream On". So one day, while getting way too lost in the YouTube world, I remembered that montage, and searched to see if they had it. Of course they did.

So I'm kind of excited to be joining such august company. I remain proud of the film, which my friend Matt shot and edited in a four-day sprint, and which involved us and my co-star Meridith being kicked off of multiple el platforms, presumably because of the grave threat to national security we represented. But I have to remind myself that we share that space with endless footage of adolescents lip-synching to Kelly Clarkson songs. In a true democracy, there is no distinction between videos. Welcome to democracy.

But more than that, I've had my time thoroughly wasted by YouTube. It's high time I started wasting someone else's.

Like yours, for example.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

One Year...and Counting

Yesterday marked the first anniversary of my marriage to Clair. Yes, we're pretty proud of ourselves.

At a different function a week ago, my friend Kat asked me what was different about being married. And it's an interesting question, because there's clearly something that separates the Institution of Marriage from the Institution of Remaining Unattached. If marriage didn't mean more, if it didn't have so much significance, then no one would do it. You wouldn't celebrate the occasion with such huge events. Homosexuals wouldn't be working so hard to destroy it. Marriage means something.

My reply to Kat was, "I get to use the phrase 'my wife'."

This sounds glib. But I really don't mean it to be. What I mean is, there is this person who means a great deal to me, and for a year, I've had permission to use a descriptive term that carries extraordinary weight with the world. Wife. That's the really big deal. Checking in to a hotel? "I'll need keys for me and my wife." Being bothered by a salesperson at a department store? "I really can't make any decisions without my wife." It's the ultimate in heightening.

To a certain extent, we've been celebrating the first anniversary of the wedding as much as the first anniversary of the marriage. Our friends Eddie, Diane, and Padraic joined us on Sunday at The Green, which was the site of our reception. It was a glorious, sunny day. The sangria was flowing freely. And for some reason, there was a man in what I can only describe as a subdued zoot suit singing karaoke tunes that had a Latin flavor. "Hey, see if you can remember this one from Mr. Marc Anthony," he would say. Diane says at one point, he even made a little "hep-hep", raise-the-roof gesture with his hand. It was bizarre.

But we didn't care, because a year ago, we had a wedding, and it went perfectly. You plan and plan for these things, and you do so with the understanding that something is going to go wrong, so you had better just deal with it, because that's life. And yet our wedding was about as flawless as you can imagine. I don't think either of us can believe it still. We go back and look at the photos all the time, trying to convince ourselves that it really did happen, and it really was wonderful, and there really weren't any drunken rants or major injuries. It's the most successful thing we've ever done. That's worthy of a raised glass right there.

At some point today, we will finally cut into the cake that officially commemorates the occasion. We have the proper tradition, of course. Cake from a year ago. For the record, this stuff really doesn't keep. In short: ew. But we have it, and we took a bite, and it was pretty awful. Knowing that, we also ordered a new cake, and it promises to be delicious. But we had stuff all weekend, and a huge dinner last night, and there just hasn't been room for cake. But tonight, we're having cake, dammit. Because we've been married for a year, and we plan to celebrate with something just as sweet.

Mmm. Cake.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Okay, That Is Just About Enough Of That

It's October.

My last blog posting was in July.

That's three months.

In all fairness, it's been a busy summer. Saw some movies (like Superman Returns, which actually seems to get worse in my memory as time passes). Read some books (like finally making it through John Adams, which is enlightening yet an epic struggle). Went to Hawaii (which we're evidently supposed to be spelling "Hawai'i" now). Yes, keeping busy.

Of course, some people seem to have no problems with busy summers. Take the case of the fellow who managed to finish one blog and start another one. Kind of makes me look like I have little excuse.

I've picked up subtle hints from the world that it was time to get typing again. Several people have said to me, "Yeah, I read your blog." Then I point out that it's been a while since I wrote it, and they nod.

It kind of came to a head while I was watching Arnie, the aforementioned serial blogger, posting an image to his new digital diary, and I said, "Yeah, I really need to start blogging again." And there I let the matter sit...until Chris, a fellow writer of mine, started setting up a new blog of his own. To which Arnie casually observed, "Shane, I thought you were going to work on your blog again."


Well, dammit, I'm gonna try. I made promises before, and those didn't hold up, so I'm not going to do that again. But I am defintely gonna try. I've got material, and rumor has it I have readers. So I just have to write the thing.

It's October.

Let's try this again.