Friday, September 28, 2007

Working At The Daily Show

I Am So Funny - Lauren Weedman

This is an excerpt from Lauren Weedman's new book, A Woman Trapped in a Woman's Body (Tales from a Life of Cringe), which recounts her 6 months as an on-air correspondent at The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It's a pretty funny recounting of the mistakes she makes, but doesn't seem to get much into the culture or the nuts-and-bolts of the place. Worth a read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Interesting evening: Blind date with a friend's mother's friend (yes, I wore my new jeans). In trying to set things up, I came up against the limitations of email. It' s just too easy to set aside and not act on it. Finally got things set up during a 5 minute phone call.

Every piece of dating advice out there now states that first dates should be casual affairs in an atmosphere which promote discussion. "Dinner and a movie" is deprecated, coffee with optional snack is the standard first date.

Well, that all goes out the window when one schedules a first date right after a late work day. 7pm rolls around and John's gotta eat! Interesting chat over coffee/tea, followed by dinner at Corner Bakery. Not bad for a chain. Butternut squash soup was really tasty. Chicken Pomodori Pannini wasn't bad either: "Sliced chicken breast, fresh basil and spinach, oven roasted tomatoes, and provolone cheese with pesto mayonnaise on grilled sourdough country bread." Creepily, we ordered separately but got the exact same thing.

Chatted about jobs, Excel, regression analysis, and dance (she told me a bit about jazz and ballet, I gushed about swing). She's added herself to the list of people who told me they'd like to come along to swing dance "some day." Well, she actually said next week, so that's a possibility.

All in all, a fun first date.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm A Horrible Human Being

S: I didn't finish my school work yesterday, so I had to do twice as much today.
Me: Oh, are you home-schooled?
S: Yeah!
Me: Is that why you're so weird?

D: I'm going to school everyone!
Everyone: Bye, D!
Me: Do you have librarian classes tonight?
D: What do you mean? I'm not a librarian.
Me: Oh sorry, it's just that with the way you're dressed...
D: You already made that joke once.
Me: And it's a winner every time! I'm being pretty mean lately. I asked S if she was weird because she was home-schooled.
D: That's pretty mean. But we're all weird, I think.
Me: Yeah. Wait, what? Even me?
D: Yeah, even you.
Me: What's weird about me?
D: You make obscure movie references and quotes.
Me: Don't think you're going to make up for calling me weird by making a veiled compliment.

Good thing neither of them read my blog, or they'd have just called me 'sir.' Apparently, that's the quickest way to get under my skin: Make me feel incredibly old.

Who The F Is That?

I spent money yesterday on jeans with a washed look:

Never thought that would happen. Never thought I'd spend more than $20 on jeans, either.

And I bought fragrance on the way out. Who the F was that guy inhabiting my body?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Last Night At Tia Juana's

Amantha wants to know whether I'm going to TJ's for OC Swing's last night of swing dancing there. I hadn't planned on it. But OK. Why not? The last time I went, it was both tightly packed AND playing fast, fast music.

Last night, tightly packed, with medium tempo music. I spent more time not dancing than dancing, though there was some fun conversation with Fred, Claire, Charles, Aurelia, and Chrissy. Wait, Chrissy? I thought she hated me! She assured me that she didn't care enough about me to muster hate. No, she didn't really say that. But she was ... friendly. Weird.

Next week, OC Swing starts at their new venue, at the Women's Club in Orange. Hey, that's much closer to me. I'll definitely check it out, since that's what I need: More swing dancing! Tuesday: Atomic. Wednesday: OC Swing? Thursday: Team Practice. Friday: Atomic. Saturday: Team Practice. Sunday: OC Swing and Atomic classes. Hmmm... Two days of social dancing in a row? That hasn't worked well for me before...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Polygamy Duh

Boys Are Being Cast Out From Fundamentalist, Polygamous Mormon Group

Simple math, people. When you have polygamy, or more precisely, polygyny (men married to multiple women), the guys with the most resources (financial, spiritual, or whatever the currency is), get the wives.

AND it follows that the group is going to make up behavioral restrictions which it will be difficult for young men to follow in order to have an excuse to expel them. Maybe that's why they don't want them to get high school educations: the ignorant population is easier to control.


Watched a television show where one character goes on a tirade about people saying "LOL" in person (Californication in case you care).

I admit to having the same peeve. Well, if I was ever faced with this in real life, which hasn't actually happened. LOL is chat/text shorthand for "Laughing Out Loud" which indicates to someone over text chat that you're laughing.

Why would someone say "LOL" instead of just laughing? If you say LOL, you're not actually laughing. If one was to say "LOL" the actual emotion expressed would be more along the lines of "Hey, that was funny," which could be shortened to "Ha" or "Heh," both of which are faster than saying "LOL."

Who the F says "LOL" anyway? Is that the TV plot equivalent of a "straw man?" I mean, WTF?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sunday Classes

I make it over for Shadow Charleston. Chase entry, basic, turn, push-out, chase, back to tandem, push-out exit.

Move of the week is a fake swing-out where we put our right hand on the follow's shoulder on 3-4 to add a turn, catch the follow's right elbow and sink forward on 5-6, lead a double turn on 7-8, exit into a drag.

Rock-step, cross, step and step (x2)
swing-out going under the follow's hand on 5-6, rotating to the left, and going back into closed.
swing-out with outside free-spin, leads following back-into closed
swing-out with apache (stay in handshake, turning away from the follow. 7&8 footwork is right-right-left)
Shorty-George starting on 1
4-count outside spin + 4-count inside spin
rock-step turn into a drag
pop-up into closed

Nice little routine. I'm getting more comfortable with doing the basic drag, but I still have a ways to go with them.

Shag & Balboa
A little unstructured. We cover basic steps, basic styling. Some basic shag with tiny styling again. Back bal where we cover the super saturday night spike-out special: Spike-out with outside turn. Pick-up with inside turn, then Apache spike-out!

Routines Class
We cover the Shim-Sham, which we need for the Swing 2 team. I think with three choreography classes a week during the moth, we can get it done (by ourselves).

Still Inspired

I wanted to finish my write-ups of Inspiration Weekend with descriptions of the class content. I guess I'm going to wait for the DVD to come in the mail to refresh my memory fully. In the meantime, my observations:

Sean & Tonya were the teachers I took the most classes from, and their content was so very well suited to my skill level. The styling class that Sean taught with Nina has me doing kick-switch, kick on my 7-8, 1-2 at least once in every dance with a partner with good connection. I've been working on the 6-count break with tuck-turn and point-back styling too, though that's not as well-anchored. I'm still working that one out. Andy and Nina's "Relax Your Lindy" class has me leaving the follows out on 7-8, 1-2 and concentrating on dropping my shoulder and making good lines. Perhaps the view of Ben Morris and his rock step has me leaning forward instead of back, with a very slight weight-shift on the rock-step. Sean & Tonya's musicality class has me really listening to the music for styling cues, though I don't have a huge vocabulary to play around with.

Still buzzing from the weekend.


I come late for the Mini-dip class. Afterwards, Mark remarks about how easy it seems to pick up new choreography now. This friend speaks my mind.

Darren teaches a Westie class which is mostly wasted on me. I remember really concentrating on the walk-walk on 1-2 instead of the rock-step. But that's about it. :-)

Great time social dancing. Again, really giving the follows 4 counts to style, and concentrating on musicality and styling. Jade with the red shoes sticks out as a great follow I really had to make a point to dance with. I got to know Aurelia better during Inspiration Weekend, and make it a point to dance with her. She's a great follow, and I need to get in more dances with her, certainly more than one a night. Perhaps even a Jill and Jack or two? Or three? :-) I need to be less self-conscious about dancing with pretty young girls. I mean, it's just dancing!

I come to choreography class and we go over the Jump Charleston section of Big John's Special. Mark, Michelle, and I really hammer it after the instruction section is over. Why aren't the other's interested in hammering away at it? :-) Leave feeling very solid about it. We're 90% done with Big John's Special now.

Darren teaches Charleston Variations, which is has tons of great moves. He also teaches Reverse Swing-Outs class, which I don't remember much of.
Aubri teaches flying footwork, which is a blur. Nothing from any the classes really sticks into my social dancing vocabulary.

Social dancing is awesome again. Dance with Jade of the red shoes again. What an awesome follow. Trish tells me I've made her top 5 favorite leads. I'm flattered, if a bit doubtful of her list or criteria. :-) I make sure to dance with Danie and Amanda; Both of them are so much fun to dance with, and I think I'm slowly getting sure enough with myself to be comfortable dancing with either. Well, I'm totally comfortable dancing with Danie, and getting there with Amanda. Still haven't asked Jenny. Baby steps. Another great dance with Aurelia. Another reason I need to dance with her more often: she'll be gone for the school year, Davis, I think.

I stay until almost 1:30am. Too late if I want to ride in the morning.

Teams are now part of the class level re-naming. Swing teams are 1-2-3-Pro, not AB-1-2-Pro. We'll get over the change. The newly named Swing 2 team has the following choreography requirements: Jeep Jockey Jump, Big John's Special, and the Shim-Sham. Really? A month before the audition is when you clarify the level requirements? I think that some of the people on other teams are more affected, suddenly seeing choreography moved up and down.

Team Choreography
We do Big John's Special again, from the top. We burn through the first section, including the push-out exit and over-rotation section. Jump Charleston section again, with the Thursday class really making me feel great about the section.

Swing 1 Team
More Swing Rueda. Fun, but not at all the technique necessary for ... well, anything. I'm not sure what the goal of Rueda is, beyond having fun. We're learning a bit, which is nice, but the class doesn't fit the description given at the beginning of the day. Weird.

Swing 2 Team
Boogie Woogie
I've finally pinned down what irritates me about doing this choreography. Jerry's slotted it in as a routine the Swing 3 team learns as part of Swing 3. It's not on the list of choreography needed to get into Swing 2, so doesn't help me get to Swing 2. It isn't on the list of choreography needed to get into Swing 3, so doesn't help me get there either. So we've spent almost 10 hours working on a routine I won't need for two levels. I feel a little like I'm a guinea pig for the Swing 3 and Pro team choreography, while not doing things that help me get to that level.

Lunch with the usual suspects. Mark's kids show up, and I turn the goofing up another notch for their benefit. John the performer.

Help Lilibeth with her Unix homework a bit, and we go back to Atomic. Hey, they're playing Runaround Sue during the Ballroom Dance, so we run out and dance. I heard at least one person say, "Oh, Lindy-Hoppers!" in a good-natured way. Hey, I'm a Lindy-Hopper!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

YouTube Music Crush

Marie Digby has a record label which had the genius idea of having her cover pre-existing hits on YouTube without mentioning she was a signed artist. It's worked, and now she's an overnight success, two years later. I only have the benefit of seeing this in hindsight. But look at the makeup. And the lighting (clearly professionally lit). Anyone else doing iSight based video which looks that good? Still, she's doing catchy music, she's pretty, and her voice is pretty. Add gimmick and stir. How much time have I spent with theses songs playing in the background?!

Rihanna's "Umbrella":

Nelly Furtado's "Say It Right":

Linkin Park's "What I've Done":

Natalie Imbruglia's version of "Torn":

Joan Osborne's "One Of Us":

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Inspiration Weekend Day 1 Morning

My morning bike ride finished up around 9am, which should have gotten me done in plenty of time to get to Inspiration Weekend in plenty of time for the 10:30am check-in. 'Twas not to be. I rolled in to the area at 11am, discovered the parking structure was completely full, and parked down by the train station. The line for registration at the Imperial Ballroom makes me even later. Oh well.

11am Relax your Lindy Hop (Technique) Andy and Nina

I'm clearly late, but the content is interesting. Andy says to open up the right shoulder on 7-8 of the swing-out. He also says not to drop the right shoulder. Then, we focus on the main content, leaving the follow out on 7-8, 1-2. Very cool. We have to then travel in on 3-and-4. Everything else builds on this idea, which is very much an intermediate to advanced level concept of a swing-out.

12pm Evolution Revolution (Evolution of Lindy Hop) Sean and Tonya

The instructors take us through how partner front Charleston evolved over time to breakaways, and eventually turns into Lindy. Awkward, but an interesting perspective on how Lindy came about. Not really socially usable.

Lunch at Heroes. Too much food.

Bastanchury, Fairmont, Casino Ridge


11am is when Inspiration Weekend starts, so I wanted to ride early enough to still make it. After riding the Bastanchury - State College hill last week, I'd wanted to ride Bastanchury from the Malvern end (Fullerton) to the Village Center Road end (Yorba Linda). So today I did it.

The Bastanchury grade is slight but constant, then elevates a bit more to Harbor. Quick descent, then climbs again up to Brea Blvd. Then a 9-11% grade up to State College. Tougher than the climb from Associated, it seems. For the future, a multi-loop ride that climbs from each of the four directions?

As I got close to the Yorba Linda end, I realized that I could just return, or I could add in the Fairmont climb, ride down San Antonio to Casino Ridge Road, and do that climb. So I did. Fairmont was tougher than I remembered the San Antonio climb being. I took a breather on the partial descent down San Antonio, then climbed up Casino Ridge Road. That climb was a monster!!! I thought I'd done it last week, but no, I'd done somewhere between a quarter and a third of it. And even that part had a brief 14% grade. The latter section, after a brief flat, climbed at between 14 and 20%!!! I was in my easiest gear, climbing at a crawl, but made it to the top, took a brief break, then descended. 3/4 of a mile took 8 minutes, climbed around 400 feet. Yikes! I'll have to go back and do it again.

The rest of the ride was pretty sedate. Descended the rest of San Antonio, rode Yorba Linda Blvd to Imperial, and Imperial back to my place in Brea. Just hit 30 miles according to the GPS.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

August 2007 Dance Wrapup

Well, I'm not going to go back and wrap up all the classes I've taken. I'll try to summarize. I've been riding the ragged edge of burning out, and have had to really fight to stay on the fun side of dance. Why is that? Well, I've really found that there are some things that I don't enjoy doing, and forcing the issue really makes me feel bad. The main culprits are Jazz based shine patterns (well, mainly Apple Jacks), line dances, and perhaps solo dancing in general. So the Tranky Doo class is really frustrating to me, as is the Stomp Stomp choreography class.

So what did I do about it? I cut back on the classes I took. I stopped going to Tranky Doo and gave myself permission to miss more and more of the Friday classes. I skipped almost all the Sunday Atomic classes (no-prep social patterns was kind of a drag, followed by Stomp Stomp). I'd paid for the OC Swing Sunday classes, but I cut back on them as well, skipping a couple weeks. Even showed up once, took one of the two classes, only to bail to hang with the Remys.

Atomic's air-conditioning problem is especially pronounced on busy nights, and Fridays are getting busy again. So I'm sitting out a lot more after doing a few songs and getting a sweat on. Teams? I don't have a solution there. I might talk to Katie Jordan, as a prelim step, then sit-out run-through as a secondary step.

I've tried to add cycling back into my life. The Century ride and the run-up to it really re-ignited my passion for it. Well, having a well-matched training partner really helped with that too. I've looked forward to events like Inspiration Weekend and Frankie Manning Weekend (at Atomic) to re-inspire my dancing. As for how that goes, I guess I'll save that for another post.