An Open letter to Bill Holbrook

Hi Bill,

My name is Brett Taylor. I’m a 24yo male from Wellington, New Zealand. I’m proud to be a geek.

I started reading your web comic Kevin and Kell on Monday 5th September after repeated recommendations from several sites around the internet. I finished reading it all last night (Monday 12th). I had never read any Kevin and Kell before that Monday.

I’m writing to tell you about how Kevin and Kell has changed my life. You see, I really shouldn’t have been reading this comic in the first place; I’m recovering from an addiction to pornography — my favorite stuff was the furry stuff, and anything furry-related (like Kevin and Kell) is a potential danger zone for me.

But I kept reading. I read all ten years of your comic in a week, taking up all my spare time. But I started getting depressed. I guess I grew kind of jealous of how the characters of Domain came together when they faced problems time and time again, and how they grew closer together, overcoming adversity as a team. For some reason, I really identified with Lindesfarne early on. At the time, I couldn’t work out why.

On Friday night, a friend of mine gave me some ribbing about how I should ask this girl that I had told him I fancied, like he normally does. Usually I can shrug his pestering off, but this time it stuck. And it hurt. The depression got worse. But I kept reading, longing to know more about the world of Kevin and Kell.

On Sunday night, at my church, after the evening service, I broke into tears, confused at what was going on inside of me. The pain that resulted inside of me from reading the comic that was full of happiness and joy was tearing me apart.

Pain is a good thing. It tells us that something is wrong and we need to take action to fix it.

Thankfully, a friend came over and looked after me. I thank God that she did. Over the course of what seemed like an eternity, I came to realise that while I am caring and loving to others, I do so without realising that there is a wall around my heart, making it difficult for others to care for me. I was lonely. I knew I was lonely, but I didn’t even know that it was this wall around me, but I now I know it’s there.

I guess that’s why I identified with Lindesfarne so much. She grew up with her quills as a wall that made it hard for others to get close to her without getting hurt. But somehow she made it through, even gaining a life-long companion. I long so much for family, friendships and relationships similar to the ones portrayed in your comic in my own life.

Is what I long for attainable? I know K&K is fiction, but I know that within the story of Domain there is truth for the whole human world, and that some of that truth is obtainable for my own life. I know the road in front of me is long — I have to figure out how to let people into my heart, and not scare them away. Am I scared? I’m scared out of my wits. I don’t know what I’m gonna have to do. I’m afraid of rejection; of putting my heart on the line, only to have it thrown back in my face.

But I guess I’m writing you to say Thank You. When I think about the world of K&K and Lindesfarne, I’m sad, but now I know what’s wrong with me, I’m going to do what needs to be done to let people into my life. I know that eventually goodness will come out of this. I know that the sadness will eventually pass and I will feel some of the joy that Lindesfarne must feel when she thinks of her friends and family.

Thanks Bill. Thanks for contributing towards this revelation in my life. I will continue to read every day. Please pray for me that I will be able to take down my walls and let those who are closest to me into my heart. If you don’t reply, that’s okay; you’re probably a busy man.

God Bless.

A huge fan,

Brett Taylor

Private Karaoke

Believe it or not, but Karaoke is cool. Unfortunately, us kiwis have preconceptions of it: we think it’s getting up on stage in front of strangers and singing along with words on a screen to complete strangers. Preconceptions become misconceptions.

Tonight, after a nice steak at the birthday party of my friend Matthew, he and his friends were gonna go and do some Karaoke. I was sceptical, as you can understand — I am the first to say “hell no” when it comes to karaoke. However, they mentioned that they were going to this place in Manners Mall — upstairs. There is only two bars on Manners, Hoops, a hip-hop bar on the ground floor, and the Pool Bar, which is a pool hall. Apparently, we weren’t going to either of those places. I was intrigued; I tagged along keeping an open mind.

Up the escalators in the Rock Shop Plaza and we reach the top floor just outside the Pool Bar. We don’t go in, but a couple of people from the group go up to “negotiate” our entry into “Oops! Karaoke”, a small complex of over 8 of what I could best describe as ‘karaoke booths’.

The seven of us are admitted and shown to a booth. The booth has 2 comfy couches, a table littered with vinyl covered books, a Korean remote control outclassing most label makers, two microphones connected by cables to a machine in the wall, which is also connected to 4 TVs in the wall.

Before I realise what is happening, a wig, a cowboy hat, and some tamborines are procured from the depths of the couches, and the lights dim and music begins. Two of the people have picked a song and are getting right into it, no waiting. I’m handed one of the vinyl books and told that the blue pages in this book are songs in English and advised to find a song I know and enter the code on the remote. I start flicking through the book, simultaneously listening to my new found Asian friends sing songs. (incidently, I’m the only non-asian in attendance) I’m sitting next to the birthday celebrant, who I know pretty well, and he’s singing a song I know REALLY well. He finishes a verse and hands me the mic. Everyone present encourages me to sing, so I do. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the songs we sang, but they were English pop songs that you’d probably know.

I get right into it, singing my best. When I’m done, a score comes up on the screen — 94. I guess it’s out of 100, because the birthday boy says that I did awesomely well. Well I’m not sure, but compared to one of the guys sitting across from me, I’m definitely doing okay ๐Ÿ™‚

I proceed to find songs I know in the book, and sing along with the songs that others have picked that I know the tune to, singing into the microphone if it’s passed to me. I’m having a ball! But I hate karaoke!? This isn’t the same as in karaoke bars; This isn’t embarrassing; this is having fun with your friends! W00t! I pick a song, and when it comes up, my friends join in with me!

In the wall, the little karaoke machine is responding to the remote. You look up a song in the book and punch the number of the song into the remote, and press the big yellow “reserve” button. The number you punch appears on the TVs, with the title of the song in English and Korean next to it. The number and title of the next song up are along the screen. When one song ends, the next song begins.

Quickly I realise that the machine is quite simple: it is basically a library of MIDI files, with a loop of irrelevant video behind the lyrics. I spot a laminated sheet on the table that translates the Korean remote: not only does the remote program which songs we want to sing next, but the remote can change the speed of the music, change the key that the song is in, change the volume of the music, the volume of the microphones, the amount of echo in the microphones, and even a button to unleash canned applause, the latter of which I managed to activate after a rather good rendition of “My Heart will go On – Celine Dion”; a song easily hammed, but in this case, well deserved of an automated applause ๐Ÿ™‚

The unit in the wall has a LED readout, one for the number of the song you’d punch in, but another for how many minutes we had left to sing. It started at ~70 minutes. At the end, we were having a really good time, and it let us sing our last song, then we left.

Would I do this kind of Karaoke again? You betcha. Making a fool of yourself in front of people you know, who are also making fools of themselves, is the best thing on earth. The fact that you’re doing your best to sing along to songs everyone already knows becomes hilarious and fun. Ask me 4 hours earlier if I’d have this much fun singing Karaoke and I’d have told you to get out of my face.

My name is Brett Taylor, and I like to sing karaoke with my friends.

A late late night.

After an impromptu late-night-picnic-and-beer session in the Botanical Gardens with my flatmates + friends, I headed off to the Interislander ferry terminal to meet one TmsT at 10:30, texting him all the way, and wondering why I wasn’t getting any text back. 11:30pm rolls around and the Interislander still hasn’t arrived, and wasn’t due to arrive till 12:30am… something is wrong.

Turns out I was wrong. They hadn’t caught the Interislander, but had caught one of the other, faster ferrys and had been in town for over an hour now. And I didn’t know this because Andrew’s cellphone was flat and he hadn’t been getting my messages.

One taxi ride later, a dash to get my wallet from inside, a dash to the ATM to get some cash for the fare and a dash back to the taxi to pay the bill, I proceeded to idle up Cuba St and finally we meet!

Andrew’s stuff was in his friend’s car who was stuck somewhere deep in the one-way system that is the Cuba Quarter. Told to go meet him at a particular corner, Andrew’s friend was a no-show. Call Andrew’s now charging phone, and get dispatched to some unknown cul-de-sac in Dixon St. A quick jog and I am able to guide the driver to Lower Cuba St.

After unloading some of TmsT’s gears, and me getting drive-by-egged in the process (I actually came out of it unscathed – I took the egg on the shoulder, it ricocheted off me and hit the inside of the open boot door where it released its runny yellow payload), we ride the lift to the roof and chill out there for half an hour, admiring the city scape. Andrew meets his biggest fan in Wellington.

We retire to the apartment, set up Andrew’s computer and get down to animutating. At some point we get the munchies and make a quick raid to the corner BK, and get back into it. About 4:20 we decide it’s Z-time. Glutnix set up TmsT the spare mattress, and we crash about 4:45am, not before setting the alarm clock for 7am, only a little over 2 hours away.

A Klaxon sounds. Rising from our slumbers quicker than a zombie on guarana pills, we pack up Andrew’s computer. We pose for a photo, and when we get the word that Andrew’s ride to Auckland is en route, move his stuff all back downstairs again. He hands me a copy of his graphic novel “The Fisherman” and we bid each other adiau.

That’s when I crawl back into bed and sleep till past noon. We had a grand ol’ time ๐Ÿ™‚ Best wishes for art school in Auckland, Androo ๐Ÿ™‚