Keith Snyder
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One bourbon, one scotch, and zero crossings

Last night I had the strangest dreams,
I never had before.
I dreamed Catherine Zeta Jones singing ALL THAT JAZZ,
And 3D renderings of fluorescent lighting fixtures,
And also ground my teeth.

I blame the Scotch.

Maybe a month and a half ago, a friend in L.A. found himself at a zero crossing. In audio, a zero crossing is where the waveform is neither positive nor negative; it represents a speaker cone in its rest position. It's a good place to make an edit when you're working on audio, because you can (for instance) smoothly draw a new waveform there, without causing pops or clicks. The end of one wave merges smoothly into the beginning of another, and the new one doesn't have to have the same shape.

The weekend of my birthday, Kathleen and I were taking the train into the city for a party, and we had one of those "what each of our friends really needs" conversations that smug married people have--and realized that we really could put him up and help him get started in New York, and that it really would be a great place for him, probably. I remember pacing outside the bar, calling him in L.A., while Kathleen was dealing with the unprepared-for-a-party bar staff inside. He was like, yeah!

Then while I was teaching at Novels-in-Progress in Kentucky, our host had a bourbon-tasting, and I thought they all tasted pretty much like bourbon--though each more refined than the previous--until we got to the final bottle: Basil Hayden's. Which I thought was outstanding, not even being a bourbon drinker.

The thing with zero crossings is that you can go in just about any direction from one, and choice can be more paralyzing than limitation. So it was New York? L.A.? Same job? New job? Freelance? New apartment here, or new apartment there? Making a living--possible here. Possible there? Probable? Costs, times, risks... Every few days, the opposite impulse would kick in: He should. He shouldn't. He should. He shouldn't.

So another cell phone call, on Queens Boulevard on a gray day, standing near a pay phone because I had to put my new bottle of Basil Hayden's on something so I could write my friend's name on the side of the label, and the letters NYC on the top. Got a bottle of that bourbon, like I said, and your name's literally on it. It's going up on the fridge, and it's not getting opened 'til you get here.

We'd already had the conversation about how I was going to do this--he'd said he was more of a Scotch man, himself, and maybe he'd go and get his own bottle and bring it out--but there it was, done.

This and that, that and this. Things went this way, things went that way. Opportunities kept arising from this zero crossing, and every time one would open up for him going one way, another would open up going another way. I called him in March: Looks like we're doing that project sooner rather than later. I'm going to need a production artist. Interested?

Of course, this was at the same time some other thing had also opened up for him. But finally, a week ago last Friday, I called him again: Boss wants to meet you on Monday. And he called me up on Saturday: Guess what I'm holding in my hand. I guessed wrong. It was a bottle of ten-year-old Talisker Scotch whiskey.

Which we cracked open Sunday night when he got here. Came in to meet the boss Monday morning, took the job, flew back out Monday night and stepped out of his job in L.A. Everybody was apparently extremely cool about the short notice--they said they admired him for taking the risk, since everybody talks about it and nobody does it--until the next day, when the General Manager came into the office with a vein throbbing and tried to bully him in front of the rest of the office.

My favorite line from the General Manager: You're moving to Queens, huh? I hear that's where the cats in the white hoods hang out.

My friend, who's sort of cappuccino-colored, said: Good, 'cause I'd like to find me one a them motherfuckers.

(Dude, he said in voicemail that night. Tell me I got a job there, 'cause I sure don't have one here.)

So I've been trying out Scotch and soda. Or, more accurately, first it was Scotch and orange-flavored sparkling water, then (because that's wrong) it was Scotch and seltzer, but I've still got to get out and find some actual soda water. No more before bed, though. I liked her in CHICAGO, but Catherine Zeta Jones doesn't need to appear in my dreams all night, and neither does a Linear Lighting Ellipse-29 2-T5 fixture with PRD perforations.

Bourbon's up on the fridge, unopened. He flies in tomorrow morning.

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