Thursday, May 31, 2007

Andre The Giant at Modern Drunkard Magazine

Modern Drunkard Magazine Online
Words fail me.

Watch for this line:

Two liters of vodka. Warm and fuzzy. Side by side like that, the two sentences hardly make any sense. For most of us, two liters of vodka means a one-way ticket to Blackout Island aboard the good ship Regurgitania.

College Soundtrack #6

Even more Seattle. Temple Of The Dog was an album/group put together as a tribute the lead singer of Mother Love Bone lead singer Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose. It was comprised of members of Soundgarden, the surviving members of Mother Love Bone, and Eddie Vedder (Vedder and the MLB survivors were some of the members of Pearl Jam, already represented on this track list).

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Even Flow - Pearl Jam
Waiting For Somebody - Paul Westerberg
Rooster - Alice In Chains
Hunger Strike - Temple Of The Dog

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summary: John Safran vs. God

Brief summary:
John takes peyote and vomits.

Seinfeld Quote

I watched the HBO "Comedian Award" special honoring Jerry Seinfeld. Hilarious!

Anderson Cooper: And something will work one night in front of an audience, and you're in the same city and the next night, a different audience it might not work?

Jerry Seinfeld: Yeah well, I mean, there's all that stuff in development that's gonna make it... It's like a baseball team, you know, you have jokes try out, they try and make the team. And you know, you've got to be a consistent hitter. You've got to drive jokes in, you know? Once you've got a good team, you've got to be good to make that team, you know. Some of these jokes, they come, and I let them work out, and some don't make it.
I love a good baseball analogy!

I'm pissed at Robert Klein's joke about hands-free kits making him think that people are schizophrenic. My take is more about losing tried and true movie shorthand (the guy talking to himself is crazy; the terrorized victims can't call for help because the phone lines have been cut, the kids cruise to the music store to buy music).

Fascinating to hear Gary Shandling, Chris Rock, and Robert Klein in a roundtable discussion de-constructing what makes Jerry Seinfeld such a brilliant comedian.

The different takes on doing the Tonight Show were awesome.

Gary Shandling: First of all as far as my first Tonight Show goes, you said it's something you'll remember, what, 'til the day you die or the day you die?

Jerry Seinfeld: The last thing, right before you die, you remember, that was a good shot, then [slumps in chair].

Gary Shandling: See, I think when Johnny died, he remembered my shot.


Robert Klein: Now is Chris Rock saying, "Johnny who?"

Chris Rock: My first Arsenio was very touching too.

College Soundtrack #5

And Seattle just kept coming on strong. Band after band...

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Even Flow - Pearl Jam
Waiting For Somebody - Paul Westerberg
Rooster - Alice In Chains

Bonus: The MTV Unplugged Performance of Rooster

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I Rule The Maths

Email Today:

I submitted semester grades. They should be
available on-line, if not already then in the next few days.

MATH 250B Linear Algebra/Diff Equations
Final Grade: A

I rock at math classes I've already taken two or more times!!!

College Soundtrack #4

The Seattle sound was a huge influence during my early college years (it might already be obvious). A big part of that was the forgettable movie "Singles" with the killer soundtrack. Cool tracks from Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Screaming Trees, and multiple tracks from Paul Westerberg. "Dyslexic Heart" was probably the best known Westerberg track, but I prefer "Waiting For Somebody."

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Even Flow - Pearl Jam
Waiting For Somebody - Paul Westerberg

It might not be obvious why I'd have this song on my college-years soundtrack over some of the other rackss. That's mostly because I already have tracks from the other bands previously (or possibly planned). It's unfortunately true that multiple tracks from this movie soundtrack played in my personal soundtrack, but I felt that I should just pick one. This album was my gateway to Alice In Chains especially, and "Would?" is a huge track. Picking a representative track is a bit different from picking a favorite, isn't it?

No really good versions of a video for this track were on YouTube, so here are videos for other great songs from the Singles Soundtrack.

Nearly Lost You - Screaming Trees

Would - Alice In Chains

Battle of Evermore - Lovemongers (never knew that was the gals from Heart)

Drown - Smashing Pumpkins

Chloe Dancer / Crown Of Thorns - Mother Love Bone

Breath - Pearl Jam

Colbert Quotes

Late last night, I watched an episode of the Colbert Report from last week (5/23/2007). During the interview with Bob Deans, author of The River Where America Began: A Journey Along the James, Mr. Deans discussed the history of Jamestown, Virginia, founded 13 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Apparently the democratic process got used in order to facilitate quick decision making (rather than attempting to run the colony from London). But...

Bob Deans: But it wasn't democracy as we would recognize it. I mean, after all, only some people's votes got counted, there was martial law, there was torture, and the Royal Govornor ruled with fear...
Stephen Colbert: We wouldn't recognize that?
Bob Deans: Not in America.
Stephen Colbert: No, no!
Bob Deans: And the Royal Govornor ruled with fear, intimidation, and the political assassination of his critics. That's not democracy in America.
Stephen Colbert: No, no not any more. Not any more. Would that it were.
Interesting also that within 3 weeks of the first democratically elected assembly meeting in Jamestown, the first African slaves arrived (what Dean pointed to as an essential American contradiction in institutions: democracy and slavery). So yes, slaves arrived in America before Pilgrims arrived in America. I'll have to check this book out.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Nobody's Watching

Nobody's Watching is a show that didn't make it onto the air. But the producers have put the pilot on. And it's hilariously self-referential.

Nobody's Watching short form video content.

Friday, May 25, 2007

College Soundtrack #3

CB's influence spans more than one song on my college-years soundtrack. He's responsible for the next pick as well. On one fateful evening in the evening of 2002, we watched Pearl Jam perform on Saturday Night Live. I only have vague memories of the performance, but CB's new music radar was working overtime. We were listening to Pearl Jam's album Ten within a fortnight.

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
Even Flow - Pearl Jam

[Addendum 20080201]

[Addendum 5/25/2007]

High Quality Sony Video @ Youtube

MTV Unplugged Version:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

There's No Good Television

If you haven't seen HBO's The Wire, it's time for you to Netflix it. And I'll tell you what the wise internet gurus told me: Watch the first four episodes before you even think about giving up. The writers really took their time in setting up the characters and situations. Some of the plot is very subtle, and takes reflection to understand.

You really haven't seen The Wire? Wow, I wish I were you so I could see it again for the first time.

In the mean time, here's a conversation about chess comparing it to a drug gang:

Transcript [with my translation] of the introductory conversation:
D'Angelo Barksdale: Yo! 'Sup with shop? [Why's business slow?]
Wallace: No re-up. [We haven't been re-supplied.]
D'Angelo: Why not?
Calvin "Body" Broadus: 'Cause, we got red caps. Stink'um say we have a new package tomorrow. [There's been a glitch in our supply chain. One of our bosses said we'd have improved product tomorrow.]
D'Angelo: New package? [Improved product?]
Body: Yeah man, this weak-ass stepped-on shit got these fiends agitated. [Yes, our customer-base grumbling about the diluteness of our existing product.]
Wallace: Look at 'em. They still buying it, though. [Yet, they're still purchasing our product.]
Body: Yeah, they buying twice as much, and gettin' half as high. [I don't think we should interpret current sales as loyalty, just desperation. At some point, our customers will look for other suppliers.]

College Soundtrack #2

College is a time to make life-long friends, and I certainly made my share. When visiting Caltech for their spring recruiting trip (Pre-Frosh Weekend), one of the other prospective freshman I roomed with and I hit it off pretty well. We both chose to go to Tech, both ended up living in Fleming House, and decided to room together freshman year. CB was especially prescient about music trends, honing in on the Seattle sound well before the crowd. During that first semester 1991, we listened to Nirvana's album, Nevermind, well before it became a huge sensation. And of course the track that makes it onto my college soundtrack:

Enter Sandman - Metallica
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

Last month, I saw CB, his wife, and their new daughter (who is just adorable). And I neglected to ask him what the hot new band was going to be. We might be too old for him to know.

[Addendum 5/25/2007]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007



SL joins me for a day at Knotts Berry Farm, courtesy of one of my employer's vendors. I have a math final tomorrow morning, so I get up early and study at a Starbucks in Buena Park so as to not be late. But I'm still late. :-(

The vendor function is ... better left undiscussed. But I left with a dislike for bingo and chili. The corn-on-the-cob wasn't bad, and I got to show off my eat-a-single-row-at-a-time technique (which I have to admit, is sexy as hell. Not). It might have been rude, but I wish I'd had the courage to bail earlier. SL's roller-coaster hierarchy was borne out: the suspended ones are the best. And the one at Knotts, Silver Bullet, had the fastest moving line as well.

The Xcellerator wasn't bad, but the time in line was much longer than the Silver Bullet, the ride was shorter, and just wasn't as good. The Boomerang had the worst line (they can only operate a single car at a time, as the car reverses on the track), for not that great a ride. Montezooma's Revenge seemed a little antiquated compared to the others (30 miles per hour slower than Xcelerator), but the line was trivially short, a good thrill to line-wait ratio.

Oddly fun was the Supreme Scream, a seated rise of 250 feet with a three-second drop. I didn't scream, but did utter a manly yell of surprise. Then I did pushups on the the ground.

We rode the Silver Bullet again to end the park visit. They have high-speed cameras taking pictures of riders screaming, and I was tempted to buy prints of SL and I the second time around, but resisted.

We got an off-site meal to end the day. I want to say that I've eaten at Pat and Oscar's before, perhaps with my brother (I think he had a friend who managed one). Breadstick sample hit the spot, the salad had good flavor (though it was drenched in dressing), and the chicken and mushroom pizza was tasty. We talked a lot about swing dancing; I can't ever get tired of talking about swing with smart people who share the enthusiasm and have more experience than I.

P&O's wasn't bad but if anyone has a good restaurant they know of in Buena Park, I'd appreciate the pointer. Maybe I should have looked that up ahead of time.

I got home and realized I could still make it for a couple of classes at Atomic... Oh dilemma, your horns are sharp and pointy!

It Must Be Japanese

Transformers Movie Trailer


I don't want to live my life angry or outraged, but reading this article on the content of the missing RNC emails (transcript) has made me livid. Of course, we don't have access to the documents they discuss (yet), but the idea that the RNC systematically disenfranchised minority voters... Words fail me.

The video starts out with a discussion of the David Iglesias firing, but 6 minutes in starts discussing the "caging" lists. With this method, the RNC would send (I assume) delivery receipt letters to people who they profiled as voting against them. If the delivery receipt wasn't signed, the letter would be returned to the RNC, and the name would go on a list to be challenged. Lots of these lists targeted people with addresses on military bases, so the presumption is that deployed members of the military were being disenfranchised in this caging activity.

Fradulent disenfranchisement should be one of the more serious crimes in country, and if these allegations are true, someone needs to go to jail for a long time.


John Remy told me a hilarious story about seeing a guy with a "spoilers" T-Shirt. He thought it was a cool idea, started reading it, then came across a spoiler he didn't know. Not so cool anymore.

Unfortunately, the exact same thing just happened to me. I think this shirt is a bit cooler than the list of text version, but am I the last one to know that Snape kills Dumbledore? Ok, I stopped paying attention to Harry Potter, but it was a definite spoiler.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Peace Workers Suck

When watching 300, John Remy pointed out the irony of pacifist guys like us getting excited over the glorification of violence. I guess I'm all about the contradictions. In Hollywood action movies, people hardly ever have to face the physical and psychological results of their violence.

I remember watching First Blood without knowing what it was about. Though it eventually became a pretty serious action movie, at it's core it was about the alienation that returning veterans experienced in the decades following Vietnam. A better trailer would probably emphasize that, but they didn't make a better trailer than this.

The second movie? Well, the second movie wasn't so much about the alienated veteran. It was about the caricature of alienated special forces super-soldier. The trailer does a good job of capturing the tone of the movie and includes bits of the now-cliched Rambo preparation scene. You can't miss it: Rambo ties his boots. Rambo sharpens his knife. Rambo ties his makeshift sweatband. Etc. How did they manage to produce the trailer without including the "enemy soldier pauses in front of the mud wall... oh crap that's John Rambo!" scene?! That's just amazing restraint. Trailer for Rambo: First Blood Part 2

The third movie was just kind of sad. And the trailer does a wonderful job of capturing that. Interestingly, they dropped the association with the orginal "First Blood" title and went with "Rambo III."

And with all that in mind, here's one of the most graphically violent trailers that I've ever seen. It portrays peace workers as sad saps who don't understand the world. I might host a marathon viewing of all three previous movies before going out to see it. And only my guy friends would show up. And we'd have to eat a lot of meat before seeing it. And possibly lift weights. And do other man things.

When does this thing come out, anyway?

College Soundtrack #1

pilgrimgirl commented that she'd listened to When In Rome's track The Promise obsessively (my adjective) in response to this post, which got me thinking about the songs that defined my college experience. Well, here goes.

Through most of high school I was solidly focused on Depeche Mode. I'd dub copies of friends' tapes (and copies of copies. And copies of copies of copies...), record songs off the radio, try to find out who had the mega-mix of blah blah blah. It wasn't all about Depeche Mode. I listened to Erasure too.

Then one fateful Saturday evening, I was getting horrible reception for KROQ, and slid down the dial to the now-defunct KNAC 105.5. I can't say I ever listened to the station before or after, but on that magical evening, they played Metallica's Master of Puppets album from start to finish without commercial interruption. And I was hooked. This was well after the commercial success of And Justice For All, which I never enjoyed as enthusiastically as Puppets. Whatever, I'd broken through both band and genre barriers.

On the eve of my freshman year, Metallica's self-titled album was released, and the first single entered heavy rotation in my life. I never had shoulder length hair, never owned a Metallica concert shirt (please, no gifts), never cut class to smoke, and was one of the new fans that the old ones resented.

Enter Sandman - Metallica

Addendum [5/24/2007]

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Kongar-ol Ondar

When I was 15, I saw Nova's "Last Journey of a Genius," a movie which discussed Nobel prize winning physicist Richard Feynman's attempt to visit what had once been the country of Tuva. Years later, my Tivo's "Tuva" wishlist picked up Paul Pena's journey as documented in Genghis Blues. Can you believe that in that same year, Kongar-ol Ondar appeared on Letterman?! If you've never heard Tuvan throat singing, well, it's mind blowing:

You can actually get the two songs he's singing there on iTunes, off the Genghis Blues soundtrack:
Alash Hem (The Alash River)
Eki A'ttar (Good Horses)
or perhaps
Ondarnyng Ayany (Medley in the style of Ondar)

Paul Pena and Kongar-ol Ondar doing an edited down version of Ondarnyng Ayany in Genghis Blues:

Excuse me, I've got something in my eye!

Time Out With Friends

20070512 Saturday
EVH hosted a pot-luck game night which I was able to attend. The fact that I'm not attending Meeting regularly makes me feel a bit disconnected from my pals there; It feels good to re-connect. We chow down then play Pictionary. My first time playing the game, and I'm really bad. I've always been bad a drawing, so adding speed, associations, a time limit, and shouting teammates doesn't help out the situation. SS's and husband are a great team; Good thing Gameboy had the foresight to draft them both for our triumphant (no thanks to me) team!

Mr. SS is thinking about going to law school, so we have a really interesting conversation about the breadth of possibilities there. I think I'm leaning away from that route and towards business school. Of course, I'm leaning towards finishing up at Tech first...

SS and Mr. SS are really interesting people separately and together. Glad to see the two of them again. EVH is charming as always, though filled with hosting duties. Nice to see JuRa again, though she's a tough Pictionary referree. Remys were there in full force, though John had to take off early to study. Catgirl and Gameboy closed out the Pictionary with a marathon speed round which left both their hands cramping, the paper covered in ink, and me in awe of their mad Pictionary skillz (yes, I wrote skillz, shoot me). KQ was there with mini-me, both charming, lovely, and interesting conversationalists. KQ has the better vocabulary, but mini-me is willing to show us her belly button, so I think it's a wash. Animaumbrae and Catbonny were their usual charming selves, throwing out the stealth humor and witticisms. I got to chat with RK, which I haven't had a chance to do before.

So much stimulating conversation ranging over so many thought-provoking topics! I miss these people and am glad I'll be able attend Meeting more regularly after Monday's math final.

Really Elvis? Really?

While listening to Jailhouse Rock for a post... did I just hear what I thought I heard?

Jailhouse Rock lyrics, verse three:
Number forty-seven said to number three:
You're the cutest jailbird I ever did see.
I sure would be delighted with your company,
Come on and do the jailhouse rock with me.
Lets rock, everybody, lets rock.
Everybody in the whole cell block
Was dancin to the jailhouse rock.
Really Elvis? Really?

Am I the last person on earth to realize that "jailhouse rock" is code for gay prison sex?

That's just plain disturbing. Maybe not as disturbing as my images of Art Garfunkel, but still disturbing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Excercise and Stil Dancing Pt 6

Again, early morning training with AZ, then a spin class. This time, the spin class was a grind. Very difficult. I hit a wall about 30 minutes in and had to dial back. Perhaps the room was hotter, but i went through my 1.5 liters of fluid in 45 minutes and had to start drinking from my reserve liter, which hasn't happened in a while. So I drank over 2 liters in the hour-long class. Wow.

Attended Banning's Bikes open house for the first time. Banning gave me some samples for fluid replacement tablets, and I bought a one liter lexan sip bottle. Walked the Fullerton Farmers' Market, which flashed me back to last summer's fun times. This time last year, I was hanging out with RH, SD, and the rest of the "tidricks," most of whom I haven't seen in ages. Sad, really, that friends can come and go so casually.

That evening was an informal practice for the Atomic Swing Team, so I headed down to Irvine. Took the last "club" dance class, learned the hustle, and took an elbow to the right eye, which bothered me more than I tried to let on. No swelling, though I had a headache. The upstairs studio was rented 'til about 9pm, so we had to wait.

Really ironed out the group A performance section, as well as the boogie forward, boogie back section. Then something odd happened. Jerry dropped in to see how we were doing, and a couple minutes later, Jenny showed up to shut us down. This was about 45 minutes into the practice. I'd personally hoped for 2 hours of practice. It was shocking and puzzling. I chatted for a while with Gerald about what possibly could have caused this turn of events. Very little about learning the routine has made sense to me. We haven't gotten the choreography in a written format. They want us to avoid video of past performances. Now they don't want us to practice. Just really, really strange. Did they not want us to practice unsupervised? Did they want us "pumping up" the numbers at the club dance? Could they not handle the overhead of unpaid floor time? Eventually I decided that it was useless to speculate about the issue. Eventually, like 90 minutes after the act (we were still there trying to figure it out). Weird.

At any rate, I got some of the kinks ironed out of the performance, though we didn't get the chance to work out the whole routine. I'm still miffed that for some reason we can't be communicated with as adults.

Exercise And Still Dancing Pt 5

Morning sees me at the gym with AZ, then staying for a spin class. Is that going to be my Tuesday-Thursday schedule from now on? There's a dead hour in between I need to fill. I wonder if AZ can schedule me at 7am instead of 6:30. Spin was awesome, and I'm buzzing for the rest of the day.

Dancing at Atomic Ballroom
Too many dances to remember. Why has it been weeks since I danced with Nicole? Though she's someone I know peripherally, she doesn't take classes at Atomic (that I know of), and she's clearly a better dancer than I, which puts me outside of my comfort zone. I feel the same way with the advanced team members who don't take classes here like Laura or Kristina. The only way to show competence is to dance with them, but dancing nervously isn't the best way to do that...

Ooh, a funny incident. I saw Sydney looking for a partner when Jailhouse Rock came on, so I asked her to dance. For the first 30 seconds or so, I pretended that I was only going to do a sedate East Coast basic. When she realized I wasn't doing anything else, she started stealing peeks at me, at which point I laughed at the Gotcha! moment and started really dancing.

Classes earlier in the evening:
Crecia Krysia and I are the only ones present for the 6:15, so we just fill in as leads for the two people taking the AB class, which is fine. Before we join the class, Crecia Krysia and Jerry tell me that I'm making huge strides in my dancing. Crecia Krysia says she can tell the difference from night to night. Jerry says I'm where he was four years into his dancing career. I appreciate the complements, and know I have a really long way to go. I know my basics are solid and that I'm adding some moves, but there's no way that I can consider myself anything but solid beginner.

Swing 2 Jack and Jill (Jerry)
The is Atomic code for a lead change class. Probably no coincidence that Gerald is here, as he loves these classes. Mark shows up too. I meet Orchid and Carrie for the first time, and Julie joins us again. Julie's been working and doing more Salsa than anything. Interesting that one can tell a salsa dancer from her styling almost right away. Interesting that the ladies almost universally resort to muscling arm-leads. I work on being responsive to their body leads with my dance with Jasmine (and Amy) popping into my mind. This bites me a bit as Orchid points out that I'm back-leading. Ha! So she starts to really vary up what we're doing with sugar pushes and varied swing outs. That's quite adventurous, as most of the other follows are doing the choreography exactly. Jerry singles out Crecia Krysia as having particularly good lead technique, and me as being pretty good at following. I've probably worked on follow footwork more than the other leads (even Gerald) as I had to teach it to SS a few weeks back, and have specifically been doing it on my own every once in a while.

Oppositional rock-step send out
2 x sugar push
swing out
swing out with lead change
swing out
swing out with outside turn
swing out with inside turn
swing out with lead change
8 count circle

Darren teaches the Hijacks class, and again jams it full of content. I think he might be being too ambitious about how much he can cover.

Maths and Still Dancing Pt. 4

My morning starts with my study group flaking, so I'm in a bit of a foul mood as I take off for Irvine. I get down around 11am and have three hours of solo study time. I get some sun and studying at Jamba Juice. And yes, I also get a Jamba Juice. Liquid calories aren't such a great idea for me, but I feel like I should buy if I'm going to use their patio. Later on, I move to Bruegers Bagels and run into Shesha and Nikki. I've been there about an hour or so when they stop in to eat before teaching class. I'm still steaming a bit as I start afternoon dance classes.

Always an ego boost to take the beginner class and dance with the new follows.

Drags and Rags goes over some of the same material that Ben taught last week. We go into the drag from front to front, right to right.

After the intermediate class, I start the spins and turns class, but bail and head to Atomic. Nice small class with Danie, who I haven't seen in a week or so, and Preston, who I've known from the Sunday AB series in March. Preston is taking his first Swing 1 class, and will probably take huge strides if he does it regularly. He's doing the OC Swing Intermediate series too, so good for him.

Preston leaves and Chris joins for Social Patterns (which is more like anti-social patterns, I joke). We do an interesting swing out in which we change places and take a two-hand hold during 1-4, then bring the follow in for a whip-like position during 5-6, then send back out during 7-8. Very neat. We also do a six-count swing out, which is just plain weird.

The mystery slot is Aerials! We do a frog-lift, then one I don't remember the name of where the leads lift the follows with a right side torso connection, then squat while bending at the waist to form kind of an aerial dip (the follow's legs are up in the air). We did the opening portions of an over-the back flip, but don't do the lift part. Jerry is very careful with spotting and instruction about injury prevention. Neat class, though probably not socially applicable.

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy #5

When In Rome - The Promise

What I hear:
I'm sorry but I'm just thinking that the ride was the same,
I know they don't sound the way I planned it to be,
But if you wait around a while, I'll beg you for some tea,
I promise, I promise you, I will.

Actual lyrics:
I'm sorry, but I'm just thinking of the right words to say. (I promise)
I know they don't sound the way I planned them to be. (I promise)
But if you wait around a while, I'll make you fall for me,
I promise, I promise you I will.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cycling and Still Dancing Pt 3

Started work around 5am and decided to go on a bike ride during lunch time. Went on my 12 mile ride from Yorba Linda Regional Park Down to the Pond Honda Center. Only took an hour, but was a rush. Held a 95 cadence and was doing better than that on the way back with a nice wind-assist. I really love the riding and need to do it more often.

Night at Atomic Ballroom
Chatted with Nicole from the Sunday OC Swing class during the class on the Madison that Jerry runs as a warmup for the Friday night dance. I don't think Nicole and I have danced for a couple weeks, and we don't that night either. But I do dance a lot. A lot.

The best follow I danced with all night was probably Jasmine, an Asian gal I remember seeing at the OC Swing Monday Jam. And I think she was Dave Graybill's follow during the intermediate lesson when I first went to Lindy Groove. At any rate, she's an amazing dancer. I don't have the skills to do her justice, but I think she was without a partner during a great Indigo Swing song, and I stepped up. She has a characteristic that I've noticed in some of my favorite follows, responsiveness. Mark's comment about driving a Ferrari comes to mind (I think he was talking about another great follow, Amy). I only needed what seemed like the lightest frame lead to start her moving, and the lightest lead to get her to stop or change directions. Very cool experience.

I ended up leaving some time after 1 am. Annoyance: I'm on my way out as Trish is on her way in. She asks me to come back in to dance with her, then bails as the rock-block starts. I wait for a couple songs, then leave. A pretty blah ending to a great night, but what can you do? Not come back, next time! *grin*

Classes earlier in the evening:
Darren teaches the Balboa class, and really tries to jam the content in. He teaches a variation on the basic where instead of just kicking, we kick-switch. Interesting.

Smoothing out the kinks: My kink right now is the Apache swingout, so we work on that. I also ask to work on facing-away from the follow moves, which we do.

Sit dip: This class focuses on follows and their ability to control themselves during a dip (and not be a the mercy of the lead). Jenny takes us through four different variations. Reminds of me the weight support that Shesha is teaching in his Sunday Drags and Rags class.

Working Out And Still Dancing Pt. 2

Yeah, Tuesday night at Atomic was a blur. Dance, classes, I have no memory. None.

Did a spin class in the morning. As in cycling spin. It's been a while, but lots of fun. Decided at the last minute to head to Lindy Groove. That night ... total blur. It was a total blur on the night in question, to be honest. I remember the class at the beginning was interesting (taught by Steve and Heidi); The moves weren't that tough, but they taught with footwork variations (mostly kick-ball changes), which made it tougher to learn.

Saw SL, and had a chance to dance with her before I left. I was exhausted, but do remember she did a cool speed change thing during the turns which I picked up on... during the drive home ("oh, is that what she was doing?!").

Note to self: Plan to go back to Lindy Groove. Plan.

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy #4

Filter Take A Picture

What I hear:
Let go my airplane,
Let go my airplane,
My skin is burned,
My skin is burned.
If you could take my picture,
I want it all

Actual lyrics:

Awake on my airplane
Awake on my airplane
My skin is bare
My skin is theirs
Could you take my picture?
Cuz I wont remember

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Click It Or Ticket

Noticed that recently, all the L.A. Story-style freeway signs carry the phrase "Click It Or Ticket" on them. I have no idea what the message behind that is. Google to the rescue: It's a campaign to get people to use their seat belts. Wow.

  1. Who doesn't use a seat belt?
  2. Who decided the phrase needed no more explanation to link "click it" with seat belts?

It's May And I'm Still Dancing Pt. 1

When I got to Atomic on Friday evening, Trish and Jerry were practicing their ballroom routines in preparation for the Emerald Ball. And who was that watching them? Aubrey was back to teach. She's currently doing a graduate program in dance ... somewhere, and only teaches one day a month. I remember taking a Balboa class from her early in March.

She ended up teaching the Balboa class at 6:15.

The thing that sticks out most in my mind was focusing again on the come around with Spike Out. The lead into the spike out should feel like a swing out. I know that, but it usually takes me a time or two to capture that feeling. Aubrey has me think about facing away from the follow during the spike out which will give more spring to complete the come around. Nice.

During swivels/switches at 7:45, Jerry took the leads separately and taught us footwork variations to do during the switches. Aubrey taught switches to the follows. The number of 8-counts we're using balloons and balloons...

The dance is nice, and passes like a blur. I'm dancing my fill, still. I work the Apache swing out in a few times followed by a block turn, an attempt at Socks (?), or a Socks swing out [EDIT 20070528: Jerry tells me it's pronounced "socks" but spelled "SIOUX"]. Also do the tuck to outside turn a couple times, during which, follows tend to stop their travel. That is, we end up closer than open position but farther away than closed. I'll ask about this some time. Did the reverse swing out with inside turn with the same issue. Neglected the reverse swing out with outside turn. Tried the swing out with inside turn on the entry, but I've yet to do that successfully socially.

One highlight was a dance with Danie, during which I did my standard 6 count patterns (tuck turn, change places, 6 count circle), standard Lindy swing outs, then the tuck turn with outside turn. Then threw in the reverse swing outs, then a reverse with a turn. She actually squealed with delight. At the end, she was stunned that I started dancing two months ago and told me I was advanced well beyond that level. She's a terrific follow and it was a great compliment.

Sunday morning saw me studying math with the study group, and heading directly to class with OC Swing. Shesha and Nikki were competing in the midwest, and had guest instructors Ben Morris and ???. Very interesting to get a new instructor teaching familiar material. An odd quirk that Ben had was that his left hand was at waist level for the tuck portion of the tuck turn, so he'd have to bring his hand up on 4 for the turn. Weird.

Coming into the day, I only remembered the drag entrance from side to side closed position. Ben focused exclusively on the front to front entrance, which started with a rock-step forward to wind up for a clock-wise turn for the follow, then into the drag, drag steps, and a dip. Also cool was the pivot step and more drags. Also an interesting take on spins and turns. We learn some moves where the lead and follow spin at the same time, which was cool. Spins are something that I'll have to put some solo work into, though. Am I motivated enough to do that?

Awe Inspiring Consumerism

I previously commented on Bling H2O; That fine product has made it onto Wired's list of Lamest Value Added Products.

Be on the lookout for this quote:

The greatest new use for your surplus cash since the money bonfire was invented.

Monday, May 14, 2007


Record number of people pointing out that Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation was a pacifist reaction against the Civil War.

It is not true that she had anything to do with the National Restaurant Association, a group not founded until the 20th century. However, conspiracy theorists love to point out the fact that she was peripherally associated with a company that eventually became Hallmark.

I totally just made that up.

Moms and Maths

Yesterday was Mother's Day. This year I decided not to make breakfast or brunch plans with Mom as I have a study group that meets on Sunday mornings. The group met Wednesday evening, confirmed the weekend, then went our separate ways. I showed up early on Sunday to get work done (hoping that I could power through enough problems to head to Meeting). But no one showed up for 90 minutes. When the first guy came, he explained that at least one other person would be late because of Mother's Day. I was so disgusted that I blew off two things that matter to me (Mom and Meeting) to study with people who didn't have the courtesy to communicate on issues like this that I just left.

I don't think I'll be studying with the group again. I'm -still- pissed.

Friday, May 11, 2007

When Do I Replace My Business Cards?

It's been years since I read American Psycho or saw the movie. I don't remember either as being great, but the business card thing was definitely a highlight.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Atomic Regulars

Just found this video of Jim and Joanne, two regulars at Atomic Ballroom. Nice routine!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Life In Balance

Reading this blog, it's hard to come to a conclusion other than that I spend my time taking swing dance classes and cracking wise. That's not quite true.

I spent Saturday with the family for my sister's birthday. Worth missing Atomic's Saturday night to spend time with friends and family. AP showed up and mentioned he's going to try to make it to Atomic later this month. Nice!

My differential equations class has become a huge time sink, but I'm currently riding a solid 95%. Not spectacular, but solid. Even better, I've been doing the homework ahead of time instead of at the last minute. Very proud of myself for that. I'm in an informal study group which meets twice a week after class and on Sunday mornings, which has kept me away from Quaker Meeting. Hopefully I can start to make it back to Meeting after the semester ends (or earlier).

Friday, May 4, 2007

April Dance Musings

Introspection regarding swing dancing. I'm looking for inspiration, and found this video of Dave Graybill, who taught the intermediate class at Lindy Groove when I went a few weeks back:

It's interesting to see his footwork variations during swing outs. Several times he just sticks out his left foot and holds. I imagine you need great connection with one's follow to be able to pull that off.

Some thoughts on where I am in swing dancing. I think I've hit a plateau. Well, that's not quite right. I've hit the part of the learning curve where it's difficult to make huge beginner style strides. I think I'm solid on the basic East Coast, Lindy Hop, and Charleston steps and technique. I have a few solid variations in each that I can do.

East Coast:
Tuck Turn (or Tuck to Free Spin)
Changing Places (or She Goes, He Goes)
Ease To Closed (or 8-count Circle)

Lindy Hop:
Swing Out from Closed
8-count Circle
Swing Out
Swing Out with Outside Turn
Swing Out with Inside Turn
Swing Out with Free Spin
Reverse Swing Out

Offset Kick-Throughs
Savoy Kicks

Things I'm marginal in that I need to practice:
Apache Swing Out
Tuck to Inside Turn
Swing Outs with Inside Turn on Entry
Reverse Swing Out with Outside Turn
Reverse Swing Out with Inside Turn

That reminds me:

Swing 1: Front Charleston
Darren is seemingly one of the best leads at Atomic, and has recently started teaching classes. His content is great, but he tends to rush the teaching part. The only follow in the class is an Asian gal named Jenny, who tells us she's just starting up in swing dancing after a pretty long lay-off. She's very nice and quite good. Justin (?) is the other lead who is just a beginner. Mark shows up a bit late and jumps in. Darren shows us two entries to Front Charleston, both from the rock-step of the Charleston basic. In the first, we pivot the follow on her left leg to front to front position. The second entry is for the lead to pivot on his right leg to step across the follows line with his left for the kick-step, then go into front Charleston rhythm with a step back on the right foot. We also do turns in this position, and practice exiting, which I don't quite get.

Swing 2: Reverse Swingouts
Darren teaches this class as well, with the same issues, but since I'm more familiar with the topic, I didn't find it as much of a problem. More follows show up, along with more leads (like Gerald!). We do the Reverse Swing Out from open position, which I'd never done before. I think it's a better lead to turn my body to the left, but it might be harder to catch the follow when doing that. Darren takes us through an inside and outside turn when exiting this reverse swing out. Very cool. Then he takes us through the Apache on the reverse swing out. Not so nice, as I don't have the standard Apache down yet. It's on my "next action" list.

Swing 2: Modular Lindy
This is a footwork variations class where we substitute things in for the standard rock-step or triple-step. Always interesting, though Jerry tends to rely on suggestions instead of having things prepared.

Social dance is wonderful, as always. I see Aubrey, who I took a class from a while back when just starting out, but she turns me down for a dance as she's "doing homework." What?! I see her dancing later, and flash back to an etiquette discussion I had with a gal a week or so before. "If ladies turn a guy down, the guys get mad if they don't find them to dance later." Holy crap, she was right!!! :-) I try not to take it personally. I actually get turned down several times, but get to dance my fill. I leave around 11:40, to tired to push it to the last dance.

Catching Up With Dance

Dancing in the last half of April was a bit of a blur, but I'll try to recap the classes that stick out in my memory.

Smooth Lindy
We take the bounce out of our dance by exaggerating the pick-up of our feet and knees. Interesting styling that doesn't take a lot of effort.

The Eggroll
This is a Rag of sorts and can't really be led, just choreographed. From open, the follow does a 180 rotation and leans/falls back into the lead's arm support. Leads arms are straight forward while follows are straight out, continuing the shoulder line, allowing the lead's arms under the armpit area for support. There's a slight bump up to get the follow's weight centered on her own feet, then the lead twirls the crouching follow counterclockwise. The first half looks like this, (but not the swimming part; replace that with a crouching spin):

Not exactly social, but it sticks out.


New OC Swing Series starts today. I get to Avant Garde Ballroom in time for the beginner class. Lots of new faces, lots of new follows.

Rags and Drags is very interesting. It's a blues dancing class, and we learn a basic front-to-front drag, with two entries: closed and open, though I don't remember the open one. We cover a bit of basic blues dancing rhythm and footwork, and I'm reminded again that blues dancing is a lot closer and more intimate than swing (even swing in closed or cuddle). The last two dancers I'm with are Nicole and Francis, among the better follows taking the class. I have to adjust to Nicole's height a bit, and Francis' awesomeness.

Intermediate class starts a new routine (which I forget, but Mark remembers)
6-count pivot step (x2)
Swing Out
6-count Right Shoulder Spin (end right to right)
Inside Turn
Side Pass

There were some tap-steps in there somewhere, but I forget where.

Spins and Turns workshop is interesting, but it seems like a lot of solo homework is in order. Now I understand why I see Will working on spins on his own.

When I make it over to Atomic, the 5:30 class is in it's last 20 minutes, but Jerry waves me in. Jenny's added on several moves to the end of where we stopped in last week's Bal/Shag Routine class, and they catch me up (though I'm perpetually behind). Danie is the only other person in the class, though Trish shows up at the end.

The Social Patterns class is pretty interesting,

8-Count Circle
Reverse Swing Out
Swing Out
6-Count Pass to Closed
Reverse Swing Out with Inside Turn
Swing Out with Double Outside Turn (changing to right hand between first and second turn)

During the Technique class, Jerry has us set up the follows to do hip swivels on a swing out. Trish and I have problems doing this and Jerry comes over to tweak my swing out. The results are ... amazing. During the 3 & 4 counts of the swing out, he has me under-rotated with my left hand at an angle to my body instead of perpendicular. On the 5 count, I'm stepping with my right foot, but not moving the follow. On 6, I'm stepping onto my left while moving the follow to my right. As a result of this late rotation, we both over-rotate to my left. This can be used to set up a swivel on 8. The feeling of this new timing is just awesome!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Pet Peeve Hit and Run

This came up recently, and I want to put it out there.

Today's pet peeves
  1. General teenage angst. I get it. No one understands.
  2. References to Catcher in the Rye. I get it. You feel lost. You are Holden Caulfield. Super.
  3. Phonies