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small green square Yesterday, late afternoon I was in Palo Alto where I found the appropriate gift for my new nephew and niece, my brother J's twins. Their list included "board books", among the shelves of these at Borders I found two similar candidates by Keith Haring - the twins should find his bright colors appealing. Escaping from the bookstore's crowds and continually-ringing telephones, I hurried down University Avenue to join the queue shivering <1> in front of the "Stanford". In just a few minutes this fine old restored cinema's doors were unlocked, and we filed in for the first of today's classic double feature. The other film was "Miracle on 34th Street", which I've never seen, and now have a bit of sport avoiding. Instead I watched "The Shop Around the Corner", which I found to be a pleasant diversion. Like "The Philadelphia Story", this is one of these pictures starring a Jimmy Stewart so young he looks weird to me - the guy's just too tall & skinny to be a leading man. I found the faux-Budapest (created on Culver City soundstages) believable, and the characters all very entertaining.

small yellow square Popped in to the comic shop and, like so many of these past weeks, found nothing new worth buying. Did stand around reading the latest issue of this thing Charles Burns does called "Black Hole". Its book-length story is called "Windowpane" <2> and it details a young man's acid trip. Walking around at night he sees strange things - some hallucinations, but the severed human arm lying in the path through the woods is real. I put the comic book back on the shelf then - I think Burns is really creepy, although his style is interesting. As a rule his pictures are better than the story behind them.

small blue square I'm packing now - the manifest is much reduced from pre-Europe, just the bare necessities and gifts. As is my holiday custom, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is playing (the soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi). It's one of the first digital disks I ever bought, and I play it over & over this time of year.

small red square Tomorrow morning at 5 o'clock I'll lock my door and walk down the stairs to street level, where I'll turn towards downtown Mountain View. Hitching up my backpack, heavy with gifts, I'll plod through the morning freezy to the CalTrain station, where I'll catch an express. Leaving the train at the Millbrae station, I'll follow everybody around the corner to the shuttle bus, which will take us over to SFO. It'll still be dark then, but by the time my DFW-bound American Airlines "Super 80" takes off the sun will have risen. In Texas a similar aircraft will convey me on to the nation's capital, where I'll be for a week. I hope to post at least one remote entry during this 1998 Back East Holiday.

small orange square Like many of my fellow travelers I'll be journeying voluntarily to an emotional family/holiday turmoil, paying big bucks and enduring hardships for the privilege. Yesterday I put together a long ranting paragraph about my brother H but deleted it since I realized that, after venting/writing, I didn't feel that way any more. Talking with him this morning helped to dissipate the angry cloud of irritation which had formed as I listened to his phone message the day before. Like everybody else he's just looking forward to some pleasant distraction.

DFW - Dallas-Fort Worth International airport
SFO - San Francisco International airport
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<1> because that wind was COLD!

<2> A key word - hearing it can make an early 70's acid head look up and smile - it's also a trippy 1993 song by Coil. O told me it looked like little teeny squares of developed photo film.