Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Short Shameful Confession:

I always mistake Boo Radley for Bo Diddly.


OK, just so we're clear, this post is about sex toys, not shaving. I had a conversation recently where the topic of vibrators came up organically.

[We enter a Brookstone.]
Me: Oh, look, they sell vibrators here. [Yeah, that's what passes for me bringing things up organically]
She: No, those are massagers.
Me: OK, that might be a massager.

OK, that might be a massager

What the heck do you massage with that?

Me: And if that's a massager, why aren't they showing how it's used in the picture?

That's not phallic at all.

I always get all the snappy lines when I re-tell a story, if you haven't happened to notice the pattern.

I recall this article about the semi-disposable razor as a thinly veiled vibrator, and end up driving to a supermarket to prove that I'm not making up wild stories.

Sure enough, the women's model has the vibrating bit in the handle, not the head of the shaver. Just a quick tip for those who want to avoid the embarrassment of a TSA officer pulling your vibrator out of your luggage. Or perhaps those who live with roommates or family. These things have plausible deniability.

We left the store without making a purchase.

Days later, I have an interesting discussion about Passion Parties, selling sensual products and sex toys in a model similar to the Tupperware Party. A friend has started doing this as a side-business and we discuss how different people have different comfort levels in that situation. It's basically aimed at women, and I really only see positives when it comes to people exploring and enhancing their sexuality with their partners.

Is it weird that I knew what all the products which were described to me were?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Urban Legend

There's always stories muttered about Japanese soldiers who didn't know WWII was over and fought on in remote places, but I always assumed they were urban legends. Not true.

Hiroo Onoda fought WWII until 1974 on an island in the Phillipines. Wow. Shoichi Yokoi lasted until 1972.

via The Engines of Our Ingenuity

Friday, October 26, 2007

Meet The Parents

Thoughts on humorous poses to take when you're a guy meeting the parents/siblings/extended-family of someone you're dating/sleeping-with/engaged-to for the first time:

Overly touchy guy
Be just a bit too touchy with your gal. You don't need to act out sexually in front of the parents, but immediately be a hand-holder. Put your arm on her shoulder, then sliiide it down her back after a couple minutes. You're going for, "He's making me uncomfortable, but I can't say why," not, "Honey, get my shotgun."

Overly manly guy
Say things like "Heya." Handshake with slightly too much squeeze (not pain, just slightly too much). Project burliness even if you aren't burly. Use the back-slap or shoulder clap on other guys. Speak in a deep, gravely voice as much as possible.

Ambiguous sexuality guy
The goal here isn't to come off as gay, just project interests which are slightly skewed from traditional gender roles. Perhaps you could casually ask about a window treatment. Not in too much detail, and not obsessively, but just briefly and casually. See an heirloom-quality piece of furniture? Ask about the history behind it. Then go for a contrast and ask the dad about his hunting trophies. Some questions are innocuous except when contrasted with others. Transition from a curiosity about fabric patterns to last weeks football game to "cricket is the only game you get to take a break for tea, which is just plain civilized," to working on your car ("I love working with my hands"), to a desire to try knitting some day ("I love working with my hands").

Trying too hard guy
Laugh at every joke. Be overly polite. Dress a little too conservatively (think about wearing a tie). Act like you're a perfect gentleman in a 50's movie. "I'll have her back by 10pm sharp, sir." Try Too Hard.

Argumentative guy
Be easy going until the opportunity presents itself to disagree. Then disagree, and don't let go. Argue your position zealously. Too zealously. Don't compare anyone to Hitler, but do use some other well-known or obscure Nazi. "I'm those news reports were good enough to make Leni Riefenstahl proud!" The key here is to be on the edge of offensive while remaining outwardly friendly

Just some ideas. Any others?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I now have 65 facebook friends, almost halfway to Dunbar's number (150 for the non-link followers). Who knew I knew this many people on-line? Much more successful for me than Friendster ever was. Or MySpace (Flashing unicorns?! Who thinks flashing unicorns is a good idea?! It's like web design in 1996! And your music! I don't want to listen to this damn song!).

I've added people (in or fresh out of college) with 500+ friends. Guess they never heard of Dunbar.

It's a useful way to keep in touch with people, I have to say. I can read my news feed and see what people are up to, status-wise (oh crap, isn't that what twitter is?! As longs as it's relationship-based, it seems to make sense) and 'interaction with other friends'-wise. I've noticed a generation gap, though. My college-era friends aren't joining (or perhaps all conspired to ignore my friend requests!!!), and the people I keep in touch with on-line around my age tend to do so via email rather than facebook.

That might be the thing: I want to have a single point of contact, and I default to my Google/Gmail account for that. A slightly different generation is viewing their facebook account as the center of their on-line identities. It's where their pictures, video, relationships, and public interactions are stored. OK, that said, it was an invite from my mother which finally got me on facebook...

My annoyances. :-)

  • Email notifications are purposefully obtuse. What I mean is, if someone sends me a facebook message, I get an email notification (which I've purposefully turned on) of that fact. But I don't get the content of the message! I can understand maybe limiting it to the first 100 characters (if they want to limit it), but following a link to read a "me too" note is a pain in the butt.
  • Friend sorting. I don't mean I want to sort my friends by importance, but I do want the option of sorting them by other means. Order they joined facebook? Order that we became facebook friends? How about number of "mutual friends" which would provide me with a list of the people I'm most connected to socially? How about finding people in my home network (Orange County, CA), who I share the most mutual friends with, but who aren't currently my friend?!
  • Third party applications. Well, I already blogged about that. I don't use any. No pink ribbon. No super-poke. No jedi/ninja/clown/sith/pirate/mime battles. I want my personal information shared with as few people as possible.
  • It's not Google. I'm annoyed that Google can't get it together enough to integrate their numerous services in a way that lets me do all this in Google instead of facebook.
It's very viral. I think I found several of the Atomic swing team members on facebook, and within a matter of weeks, everyone was on, everyone was friended and we had our own Group. Probably the group I have the most connections with. The Youngish Quakers are lagging far, far behind.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Short Shameful Confession:

When I'm chatting on-line with someone and I sense that they're answering questions I ask by looking up answers on Google, I start thinking up questions to ask, not because I want the answers, but because I want to teach them a lesson.

Dancing Dissonance

Jerry Jordan was covering for Shesha Marvin at yesterday's OC Swing Sunday classes. I wish I'd remembered in time to make the beginner lesson. It would have been priceless to see Jerry teaching a swing-out with a rock-step at the beginning.

The lead-and-follow class was slanted more toward swing-out technique than Shesha and Nikki's classes. Well, what little I've seen of their classes, anyway.

The cool content was the Intermediate and Intermediate Shadow Charleston classes.

Swing-out from closed
The "AJ" swing-out
This was a swing-out where the leads release the left hand during 3-a-4, and the follows hijacked by sliding under the lead's extended right arm (or ducking under). Follows kept the left hand in the standart location on the shoulder, and slid the right hand under the leads right shoulder to clasp it from both sides. Ended in right-to-left.
Rotational rock-step to a sit-dip on 5, spinning out on 6-7, connecting by 8
Swing-out with outside free-spin, leads kick-step with right leg on 7-8 to set up Cross-Kicks
Cross-Kicks with release (kick-step, kick-step, kick-step in circle and back in to cross-kick position)
In handshake, rock-step, kick
Rock-step, inside turn to rag-doll (follow's back into lead's chest for dip), pop up into
Shadow Charleston
Follow Turn
Follow half-turn, Lead Turn to right into lead-in-front Tandem
Dusseldorfer (bring follow around to standard tandem, weight on right foot on 8
Rock-step kick (left), into chase
Right side is kick-cross with upright feel
Rock-Step kick-cross
Rock-Step skip, skip, badump (jump-land)
Tuck-Turn from Chase position (Leads rock-step right, release left hand, end in handshake, fake footwork)


Especially liked the outside free-spin to cross-kicks transition.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Short Shameful Confession:

I love watching Ultimate Fighting.


A few months ago, I made plans to see Bunraku: National Puppet Theater of Japan at the Japan American Theater in Little Tokyo (had to miss the changed team practice time, but oh well). My mother tells me she took us to see Bunraku the last time there was any kind of US tour: 1988. Glad I was able to see it this time around!

The performance was in three pieces, Datemusume Koi no Higanoko or Oshichi's Burning Love, which the program tells me was first performed in 1773. Then the program broke for an hour long guided tour through the various pieces of Bunraku, the chanters (narration, dialog, singing), the shamisen players (previously: Yoshida Brothers, and Shamisen Vs.)

Here's something similar to the background on and demo of the puppets we received:

Make sure you stay/jump to the demo at 5:24. We were told that these types of demos aren't choreographed. They're completely impromptu and triggered by the lead puppeteer with the others following along. Wow.

I haven't been able to find any similar stuff on the chanters, which is too bad. They talked about how they personify women vs. samurai vs. children, emphasizing at every step the theatrical elements of the performance as opposed to reality ("No children in Japan actually speak this way!").

An intermission, then the final performance: Tsubosaka Kannon Reigenki or Miracle at the Tsubosaka Kannon Temple.

Followed up with late lunch at Daikokua at the recommendation of a friend. It's billed as the best ramen in LA, and it very well might be. Spectacular! It all starts with the soup, and they make theirs from scratch, "boiling bones for nearly a full day." The pork was tender and rich. The noodles, delicious. We timed it right, getting there off-peak. We were able to sit at the bar right away (we still would have had to wait for a table). Mmmmm.... Can't talk.... Eating....

Boring Nostalgia Weeks

A swing team member was recently in a regional production of Grease, which dredged up some memories of the movie for me. In the late 1970's, my family was living in married student housing in Riverknoll apartment complex at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Not long after we moved in, the neighbors moved out, and in moved a family with two kids named Chris and Chad Boring. I never saw Grease. To this day, I haven't seen it. But I can identify when it came out by when the Boring kids lived next door to me and Chad would run around, yelling, "Tommy Moore, Tommy Moore, Tommy More!"

I always assumed there was a character in Grease named Tommy Moore.

At the other end of our townhouse building was my best friend, Rachel Weeks. I have a vivid memory of walking to the school bus stop on our first day of kindergarten, doing yoga for kids, and all kinds of other crunchy, granola activities that our 70's influenced mothers thought up. Rachel's mother made her own Playdough, for example. My first exposure to a Magic Eight Ball. Rachel singing the lyrics to Air Supply's "The One That You Love" to me. Us looking at magazines with the four members of KISS on the cover and thinking it was a sequential makeup job, not four different people, trying to figure out what order the pictures should go in. Recently we reconnected via email and now ... facebook, and she posted a picture of her with her two kids.

She wanted me to make sure I emphasized that they had green noses because of their St. Patty's day celebration, not just randomly. :-)

Our family moved away from the area in the middle of third grade and we only saw each other once after that. Yet, she's totally recognizable as the girl I remember. Well, she also looks like her mother. Yikes, we must be as old as our mothers were at the time. And her oldest is pushing the age that we were when we met...

Friday, October 19, 2007

Banana Fanna Fo-Fonny

Attended a dinner hosted by catBonny on Wednesday evening. So much fun! Met the roommates, met the friends and associates, met some of Anima Umbrae's gaming buddies, had some good eats, good conversations. Surprise appearance by RyanH!!! Funny we live 20 meters away from each other, but never see each other.

Initially sat away from the table, chatting with roommate and her boyfriend. catBonny brings it up, so we have a chat about dating friends. They all think it's a good idea. I hope so.

I move to the main table and joke with those people. Time flies by, and it's a weeknight, so we leave at 11. Hey, isn't Strutter's Ball still going on? I stop by, and dance for the last 30 minutes. See Sarah, who's new on the team, as well as Will and Jenny. Lovely to get some dancing in.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Okay, follow along now. pilgrimgirl posted a reference to a not-so-silent Quaker meeting, and I followed the link, read it, teared-up a bit at work, then did some push-ups to re-assert my manhood. Then I read the author's previous entry on supporting civil union right for same sex couples and her conversation with and Orthodox Jew about the people who were against it.

And it reminds me about my standard defuse-the-situation joke when faced with questions about my views on homosexuality. I think we black people should be on the forefront of supporting the rights of same-sex couples and hate-crime legislation. We just went through the exact same thing.

Okay, here's the dark joke part. Why don't you ever see black guys harassing gay men the way that white guys seem to? When you see a group of guys harassing a gay man, why don't you ever see one or two black guys sprinkled in the group? They'd be worried about who they'll turn on next.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to actually work that way. Homophobia is just as alive in the black community as ever. We're not on the forefront of policing sweatshops or other slavery conditions. And we're not alone. Jews seem more concerned with anti-defamation than calling out world governments on ethnic cleansing and genocide. Is there an outcry from the Japanese-American community on racial profiling of American Arabs post 9-11? Maybe it's not fair to put the responsibility on these particular groups. But I think we should be reminding each other of these issues in the general sense, not as they applied directly to us or our ancestors.

48 Laws of Browsing the Bookstore

Monday evening was spent browsing Barnes & Noble. Excited employee takes my interest in Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power as an opening to recommend specific translations of The Prince (Machiavelli), Life's A Campaign (Chris Matthews), and The Game. He seems a bit overeager, and rushes to get another copy of Laws (for me to carry around, I guess). Maybe there's a contest to sell the most copies of this book? Is it one of the laws to get me to buy it?

When he walks away, an attractive woman who witnessed the exchange whispers to me:
That guy always talks to me about books whenever I come in.
Really? After reading Self-Made Man, I want to translate for her that this is probably that guys way of hitting on her. But that's presumptuous of me. I wouldn't personally use the book discussion method, but ... Wait, I'd totally do that. In fact, let's take a tour of a bookstore! And we do.

Wandering upstairs, I see some old favorites from my youth. A Spell for Chameleon, Cyteen, Ender's Game. She swoons at my description of Cyteen: "There aren't any cybernetic teenagers in it." Swoon as in she looks indifferent. I still think the "clone the genius and re-create his/her life stresses to re-create the genius" is a cool plot. And she's read Ender's Game. Wow.

Biographies: Team of Rivals
Only later do I remember that I haven't actually finished it.

Amusing to read more of The Rules. I'd carefully wandered into the relationship section hoping to randomly see it an re-use my "rule 23 is don't date a married man! there were 22 more important rules!" joke, but she totally steals my thunder with the exact same joke! Maybe it's just not that original. Who cares, it was still hilarious!

Where's the science section? I want to push all my cool science reading:
The Botany of Desire, Collapse, Freakonomics, Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Oranges, The Tipping Point

Hot drinks and pumpkin cheesecake in the cafe. They've changed the recipe to be more about pumpkin spice instead of pumpkin. Still good, but not as good as it used to be.

Continuing the chat, and she's willing to talk. Time flies, and the announcement sounds that they're closing up. Wow. I wonder later if I should have been more flirtatious or maybe even gone for the physical contact. It hardly ever occurs to me in the moment. Maybe I should read Greene's other book, Art of Seduction, again. I'm never comfortable being that calculated.

Do we say something about "doing the bookstore" again? Maybe not, but we should have. I should have formally set something up with her. Darn.

Later, at home, I look though the 48 Laws, I'm struck by Law 45:
Preach the need for change, but never reform too much
Everyone understands the need for change in the abstract, but on the day to day level people are creatures of habit. Too much innovation is traumatic, and will tend to lead to revolt. If you are new to a position of power, or an outsider trying to build a power base, make a show of respecting the old way of doing things. If change is necessary, make it feel like a gentle improvement on the past.
Nice. Sounds like every organization that everyone's ever belonged to. Quakers are definitely this way. :-)

New Neighbor Issues

No, I don't have issues with my neighbors, but one of the characters on Mary Worth did back in 1998. And this group produced some video acting out the comic strip. Genius!

Who reads a daily serialized soap opera?! Oops, I guess this guy does. But it seem like he's doing it ironically. And he's stealing Joe Mathlete's thunder, too.


Short Shameful Confession:
After a fun dinner party hosted by catBonny, I didn't go home, I went dancing first.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


What happens if the government can't re-create the case against you?

I am not addicted to outrage.
I am not addicted to outrage.
I am not addicted to outrage.

The Reveal

I knew then that the time was right to tell Vergil the truth about me.
"Vergil," I said trepidatiously "I've got a confession to make."
"Okay," he said with complete composure. "What is it?"
"There's something about me that I haven't told you."
"Yeah. Something important." [...] "Do you have any idea what it is?" I asked.
He thought for a minute, then ventured something he'd obviously been thinking for a while.
"You're not Catholic," he said.
"Guess again," I said.
"Hmm. Let's see. You're an escapee from a mental institution."
"Nope. Not technically, though being a New Yorker surely counts."
The monks had all been tickled by the fact that I made my home in a neighborhood called Hell's Kitchen. To them, the freak show of New York City was about as far from their home as you could get. To me it was and it wasn't.
At this point, I stopped Vergil on the path, stood facing him and said, "Look at me. It's right in front of you. Can't you see it?"
"What?" He looked into my face. "I see a guy with graying hair."
"No, that's not it," I said. "Look closer." I took off my glasses.
"I don't know," he siad, perusing me again. "What is it?"
He was blank. Puzzled.
We both turned and kept walking. I tried one last thing.
"I'm not what I appear to be."
This sank in as we rounded the corner of the footpath by the carpentry shop and began the last stretch back to the cloister. Suddenly he turned to me, the moment of revelation having come at last with full force.
"You're a woman."
"Yes," I said with relief.

Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man has been on my reading list for a while, and an expiring 30% coupon at Borders motivated me to pick it up. It's not a complex read by any means, but I still got great satisfaction from it. In fact, I'll have to re-read it a couple times.

A trap, I think, in each section, is that it tends to build towards the moment of revelation, which isn't always satisfying. Much better are the observations that Vincent makes about male character and interaction that I was unconscious of. Also interesting are the insights she makes about the contrast between male and female friendship dynamics, physical contact, showing of emotion, communication, and attitudes towards work.

As I said, it's worth reading more than once, and is going to be insightful for both men and women, though the chapter on sex is biased towards the specific experiences she has (I thought some of her conclusions were a little skewed).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

High Hair Hop

Saturday was a teams gig up in Beverly Hills at the Slimmons studio. Richard Simmons was hosting a conference/retreat there, and people from all over the country flew in to take part. Our role was to host the "High Hair Hop" on Saturday evening, which meant leading some dances, drawing the crowd into the dancing, and some performances.

First off, we performed some choreography done specifically for the event, a mix of songs from the Hairspray musical or 2007 movie (not clear which). I missed a practice on Thursday evening, so was behind on the new choreography, and never really caught up. :-( That's ok, it went fine. Ian told me that he and Molly were doing it with about an hour of prep, so I was ahead of them...

We came in for added practice at 10:45am to work on the gig. I got some help on what I missed, but the group couldn't really slow down to walk me through things that I'd missed. I got to about 70% by the end. Jerry asked for Big John's Special solos, so Michelle and I worked one out:
Swing Out
Swing Out with Apache Stomp
6-Count Circle
Chase Entry into Tandem Charleston
Tandem Charleston Push-out
Push-out Exit From Tandem
8-Count Circle
Charleston Basic

We worked on that during the Swing 1 class, but also did the Jeep Jockey Jump choreography when the Swing 1 team ran it. Ran through Big John's Special too. Push-out exit plus over-rotated circle is still only 70%.

Swing 2 team runs Jeep Jockey Jump a couple times, and it's effortless now. Well, my boogie section could use some technique work, but other than that... We then run Big John's Special a bunch of times with Michelle and I doing our solo. It works really well, I think. No aerials or anything, so it's better as the very first solo. Maybe get it on video on Thursday?

We walk through the Atomic Routine, which is awesome for me. Jeremy is leading this section, and Patty and I are the only ones who are working on it who don't already have it all the way through. I feel guilty, but this it the point of the class: to get us up to speed on the Swing 3 choreography. I work through my tap section issues, but need to practice on my own a lot more. We actually get through to the end, and I have a lot to chew on there.

We break, but I don't get to eat as we work on Slimmons gig material right away. We set partners, and re-work formation kinks out. This choreography is cheesy but so much fun! We work on some Salsa and Casino Rueda. Salsa Jill & Jack. Finally break for food and costume (black pants, white shirt, black skinny tie). I picked up a 16.5" x 34/35" fitten dress shirt from JC Pennny's on the way in. The fitted look is the way to go.

I drive Michelle's mini-van to the gig, with Tim, Karen, James, and Liz in tow. Rockin' the bad-date stories on the way up. I have such a gape in my dating years, that I don't have a good one. Oh wait, I should have told the Winter dance my Senior year in high-school story. Forgot about that.

Gig was tiring but awesome! Screwed up Hairspray a lot. Big John's Solo was good, but I forgot the triple-kick section just after jump-Charleson. I got back on, and finished strong. JJJ went really well. Line dances were lots of fun, Rueda went well, and the mixing with Slimmons retreat people worked really well.

Trip after to Bob's Big Boy in Burbank.

That's Jerry with the awesome Eraserhead hairstyle!

We did a mini Lindy-bomb of the parking lot (Big John's again) to thank a party who found our gig payment in a menu and returned it.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Viet-Thai dinner at Bamboo Bistro.

Started out splitting the Roasted Pork Spring roll, which was actually a Vietnamese gỏi cuốn (not fried, rice-paper wrap). The dipping sauce was wonderful, as was the mix of flavors in the roll. The pork itself was unremarkable, though.

Yellow curry (chicken) had great flavor, but seemed to have chicken breast, which somehow dried out in the curry. Still great. Tiny bits of potato were a cool texture contrast.

Prawns in Tamarind sauce
Again, the sauce was excellent, but the "prawns" were over-cooked.

Dessert was the banana/coconut/Nutella crepe. All the flavors in this dish were muted, and not in a good way. The banana wasn't ripe enough to have a very strong banana flavor, there wasn't much Nutella to add anything, the coconut flakes weren't toasted to bring out their flavor, and there was some kind of sweet red sauce on the plate that we couldn't identify. Crepe itself was cooked crispy, which was an interesting choice, but made it tough to eat.

Fortunately, the conversation was gripping enough to save the evening. I did manage to tell my onion dip metaphor, and transcribe it before falling asleep. I decided to miss Simmons practice (more on that, later) to continue the evening at Kean. Mexican-style hot chocolate, which I found a bit on the sweet side. They must use something more than just cinnamon, or some special cinnamon. Overall yummy. Didn't get to people watch the way I did last time with EVH. More conversation: online personalities, emoticons, argumentation.

The Kean people kick us out, and we take a extremely roundabout route on the return (73 North?! Oops). Then lots more chatting.

What a fun night out! And without swing dancing. Who knew that was possible? :-)

A Good Metaphor

It seems easy to make onion dip: add a packet of onion soup mix to a pint of sour cream. However, there's a few things you need to remember about onion dip:

1) Homogeneous is bad.
A friend told me he uses his "Magic Bullet" mini blender [1] to do the mixing fast. Resist the urge to over-use technology and mix with a whisk or even better, a spatula. Part of the joy of onion dip is coming across the bits of the mix that didn't get broken up, resulting in a tiny pocket of explosive flavor.

2) Give it time.
It seems like you could just mix it up and start dipping, but you'd be wrong. The onion bits need time to re-hydrate. The dried mix needs to diffuse into the sour cream. Extra time leads to extra yumminess.

3) Master the basics before you get fancy.
It might be tempting to spend 30 minutes caramelizing onions from scratch, but maybe you should get it right with the packet first.

I think you can make that a good metaphor for pretty much anything. Relationships, sex, career, friendships, life, and yes, onion dip.

[1] For the purposes of this metaphor, let's pretend I have a friend with a Magic Bullet min-blender. Furthermore, let's pretend this friend and I have discussions about making onion dip.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dating Etiquette

Hmmm... A commenter has encouraged me to follow-up with a gal I had a date with despite initiating a casual date with someone else. What's the etiquette on that? There seems to have been a rule for young people (high school age) to date only serially, but there seem to be different rules as one gets older.

A quick poll around the water cooler seems to bring in mixed results, and unwelcome questions.

So to generalize, is it OK to date multiple people at the same time? At what point is it necessary to openly discuss it with the people involved? Is there a presumption of non-exclusivity until it's explicitly discussed?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Ran

So freakin' funny. Yes, I know how far behind pop culture I am...

Virality? Viralness? Virosity?

I've become slightly creeped out by the viral nature of social networks, specifically, Facebook and it's apps.

Earlier this year, Facebook opened up it's platform for application development by third parties, which has created an avalanche of third party applications. Lately, I've been wondering what the heck the benefit is to a company to run n X vs. Y, advanced functionality app, "send your friend a virtual drink" app, etc.

What started my discomfort was "Likeness." The app has you answer some simple ordering quizzes (I think the one I answered was "what super powers did you wish you had?"), then tells you how similar you are to your friends who have also taken the quiz. The problem was that the results of this application were taking over my "news about friends" list of stories, masking things I might actually care about. I looked for a way to eliminate those results, but couldn't find one. Finally, I just removed the app.

What's put me over the edge is "SuperPoke!" It adds an interesting feature, "X has performed action Y on you" or some variant. But then it gets creepy. You can unlock more actions with by performing actions on your friends, which encourages you to use the app. It also provides a way to perform an action en-mass upon your friends list, or 10 random friends, or specific groups of friends, including ones who don't have SuperPoke! yet. So it spreads virally by adding an interesting feature and encouraging you to expose it to people who don't have it.

But why do all that in the first place? I might be paranoid, but does it have something to do with access my private information? I looked at my privacy settings, and there doesn't seem to be a way to mask my info from the application. I removed it and tried to add it without giving access to my personal information. No go. It's mandatory to get and use an application.

So I read the actual platform application terms of use, and found out what they're sharing:

your name, your profile picture, your gender, your birthday, your hometown location (city/state/country), your current location (city/state/country), your political view, your activities, your interests, your musical preferences, television shows in which you are interested, movies in which you are interested, books in which you are interested, your favorite quotes, the text of your "About Me" section, your relationship status, your dating interests, your relationship interests, your summer plans, your Facebook user network affiliations, your education history, your work history, your course information, copies of photos in your Facebook Site photo albums, metadata associated with your Facebook Site photo albums (e.g., time of upload, album name, comments on your photos, etc.), the total number of messages sent and/or received by you, the total number of unread messages in your Facebook in-box, the total number of "pokes" you have sent and/or received, the total number of wall posts on your Wall™, a list of user IDs mapped to your Facebook friends, your social timeline, and events associated with your Facebook profile.
Yikes. Creepy. So they're mapping my social network, then keeping stats on our interactions via their own app, and additional mapping via photo metadata (who's in the photo)? Very creepy. I think I might remove all third party apps.

Wilhelm Scream

Someone recently remarked that his favorite vocal exclamation was the Wilhelm scream. And now, I see this:

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Hadn't heard back from my two-weeks-ago blind date. Surprisingly little sting.

I found myself reaching out to ask an acquaintance out on a casual date. Successfully, it turns out. Trying to figure out what's polite to blog about and what isn't. Hmmmm... Maybe I'll just ask.

Swing Teams

Thank you for audtitioning [sic] for the Atomic Swing Teams!!! We are excited about the new teams and we can't wait for you to see what we have planned! Congratulations, you are now officially a member of the SWING 2 TEAM which meets on Saturdays from 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM. Remember that you can schedule an audition for Swing 3 as soon as you feel comfortable with the choreography and can execute a compelling performance. We would be happy to share with you a critique of your audition if you are interested, just speak to Jerry when you see him at the studio.

I think I can get the two pieces of choreography I need for Swing 3 in the next two months. As for the aerials, I'll need to find a partner to work on them with. The problem is finding someone I have good connection with who wants to do it.

Dystopian Films

From John Remy's modified list of top dystopian films.

Bold: Seen
Italics: Top Picks
  1. Brazil (1985)
  2. Wings of Desire (1987)
  3. Blade Runner (1982)
  4. Children of Men (2006)
  5. The Matrix (1999)
  6. Minority Report (2002)
  7. Delicatessen (1991)
  8. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
  9. Serenity (2005)
  10. Pleasantville (1998)
  11. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
  12. Battle Royale (2000)
  13. RoboCop (1987)
  14. Akira (1988)
  15. The City of Lost Children (1995)
  16. V for Vendetta (2005)
  17. Metropolis (2001)
  18. Gattaca (1997)
  19. Total Recall (1990)
  20. Dark City (1998)
  21. District 13 (2004)
  22. They Live (1988)
  23. Escape from New York (1981)
  24. A Scanner Darkly (2006)
  25. Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)
  26. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
  27. I Robot (2004)
  28. Strange Days (1995)
  29. Idiocracy (2006)
  30. Death Race 2000 (1975)
  31. Starship Troopers (1997)
  32. One Point O (2004)
  33. Equilibrium (2002)
Dark City is like watching The Matrix without all the cool fighting. Plus, you know a movie's in trouble when they take 5 minutes in the middle to do a plot summary (the row-boat scene). District 13 has cool parkour, but otherwise is a crappy movie. I Robot? A travesty that it was named or "inspired" by the book. Nothing like it.

I struggled to pair down my top picks. Next tier was Pleasantville and Equilibrium. Idiocracy is a hilarious commentary on modern day culture (it's got electrolytes). It's been too long since I've seen Nineteen Eighty-Four, but I do remember really liking it. And funny to see John Hurt in V For Vendetta as the chancellor, after playing the lead in Ninteen Eighty-Four.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Jack and Jill

The first Saturday night of every month is a swing dance night at Atomic. I was running late after doing Symposium with EVH, but just made the registration for the Jack and Jill contests. The catagories were Lindy, Charleston, Balboa, Fast Lindy, and Showcase (10 minutes prep). My fear of solos is related to my fear of contests, so I only signed up for the Lindy division.

Shocking realization: Since I started in March, I'm outside the "first six months" time frame! In fact, October is the eighth months I'll have been dancing in. Yikes.

My partner was Michelle M, who I've danced with a lot. In fact, we kind of started in the same time frame. We have a great connection and she kind of knows my moves already. The song was "Rip It Up" (Bill Haley), which on my computer is 205 beats per minute. Definitely a fast song. In fact, I think the Fast Lindy song was slower! There's a team routine to the song, but I don't know it at all...

We ended up tie'ing for the win with Alan and his partner (Alana?). Woo hoo!

It was a great low-pressure contest. No fees, no cash prizes. Lots of fun. Wished I'd enter more of them. The guy who won the Balboa contest (Jacob?) was really smooth. Cool to watch.


In the middle of a long day of dancing. Dinner plans with EVH turned into drink and dessert plans since we had both eaten late.

Symposium Wine Bar was a very cool destination. EVH thought it might be pretentious and crowded, but it seemed to be neither that night. We grabbed a two-top in the back, with EVH on the banquette and me in the comfy chair. Instead of drinking a lot of wine, we split a tasting of three Cabernet's. One was just OK, but two were amazing. The 2004 Cloverdale Ranch (Alexander Valley) was strongly flavored, complex, and long-lasting, my favorite of the three. The 2002 Rocking Horse (Rutherford) was a very close second, maybe not quite as bold, but just as complex and lingering. I don't have the wine-snob skills to describe the flavor, just the sensations. It's amazing how with good wine, I'll get different sensations from smelling, sipping, swallowing, and even sucking in air with the wine in my mouth.

Also split the chocolate cake thing. So good, and so impossible for me to describe.

After heading back, we chatted about relationships, then called it a night. Well, to be honest, I headed back to Atomic for the first Saturday swing dance. Though making the registration time for the Jack and Jill contests might be a problem.

The World Can Change In A Day

This made me tear-up a bit.

The World Can Change In A Day

Though I did have to look up the Soweto student protests.

Team Auditions

The auditions for Atomic Ballroom's swing teams were on this past Saturday. The format this time was interesting, requiring that everyone progress through the requirements of each level.

First was a good group photo, then an orientation session, discussing what the various levels do, what is expected, costs, etc. Questions and answers, the fact that Atomic Ballroom is an official Disney entertainment vendor now, so we can and will be asked to do dancing for them (a great fund-raising source), other stuff.

The we all went through the beginning choreography for the level 1 team:
East Coast Basic
Under-arm turn (no tuck)
Walk-through (lead a walk-forward on 1)
6-count circle
Swing-out (from closed)

Level 2 requirements:
The Shim-Sham
Learned this late in the game (started about a month ago), but I was pretty confident, and it went fine. I did screw up on camera, though. A bit more pressure. Also tough to stay on when the people in front of you screw up. So more repetition would have solved that. I'm happy about my shoulder styling, but I doubt I'm inventing anything new.

Jeep Jockey Jump
I don't remember my partners, but we did fine. Jerry asked us to do solos, which I've always had an aversion to. However, when I danced with Laura, we did it. The key was to go for the first 8 8-counts so as not to have to time the return to the line... Did scripted solos once and impromptu solos twice.

Big John's Special
My only issue is with the Tandem Charleston push-out exit to an over-rotated circle, to swing-out. When I danced with Michelle on the first run-through, it went great. But with Sydney, I didn't have as good a connection, and we didn't get enough rotation. Oh well. Maybe I should have practiced it with her the way I did with Michelle.

And then we were done. Stayed around to watch the Swing 3 auditions. When I stepped outside to make a call, Jerry came to find out why I was holding up the audition, assuming I was trying for the Swing 3 team! I told him I didn't have the choreography or the aerials. Watched the Atomic Routine and the snip of the California Routine they did, and felt a twang of regret as I realized that adding those two routines wouldn't have been that hard... But in reality, it would have been tough. I still can't do the tap section of the Atomic Routine at speed, nor have I anchored the choreography after it. The California Routine has a tough slip-slop section I don't have, and all of that is besides the point as I haven't done the aerials besides the Frog and Toss Out. And the Frog is the only one I have solidly. And I still forget the ballroom hold at times... Yes, I made the right decision. But two months from now, I think I'll have had time to get up to speed on the rest of it.

Ate a late lunch with the team at TGI Fridays afterwards. Nice to spend time with the group, bantering, telling stories, acting out, giving massages. But not getting them. No means no, Heckman.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Sometimes I'll say, "I feel like having a cup of coffee." And he'll say, "Can you get me a cup too?" But what I really meant was, "Can you get me a cup of coffee?"
Some friends (CH), accuse me of over-analyzing other people's feelings and motivations. As I wrote, it occurred to me that my family relationships are the cause of this (over) analysis. I really fear that I'm missing what someone says or does. That's a real quote from my mother, by the way. One that's stayed with me and always makes me gun-shy when I talk to her. Does she mean what she's saying? Or does she mean that she wants something from me? And that translates to my relationships with other people, not matter how shallow that relationship.
All I can do is take what people say at face value.
--A lie I tell myself and others
Whether or not it's reasonable, I feel compelled to analyze people's underlying motivations and deeper meanings.
All I can do is tell people what I mean, what I want, and how I feel.
--A truism that I tell myself and others
I can't expect other people to know what I want or how I feel unless I tell them. That sometimes comes off as sharing too much or getting too personal. Why? Oh, probably because I sometimes feel compelled to explain why I feel a certain way or make a certain request.

Whoa. Kind of like this entire post.


I've seen the episodes of Tell Me You Love Me, the new HBO series which there seems to be a mini-uproar about. There's some buzz and controversy around the graphic depictions of sexuality, and at one time, I'm sure that would have hooked me into the show. The truth of the matter is that the sex isn't that interesting. In fact, it's a little desperate and sad. Graphic real-life portrayals of sex aren't always that hot to watch. Especially when you're aware of the emotional overhead surrounding every encounter. Trying to get pregnant. Trying to avoid other relationship problems. Trying for any shred of intimacy.

What has me interested... that's not even the right word... what has me spinning are the relationships between the married (and almost married) couples. There's an amazing lack of communication that's going on there. They don't say what they feel. They don't express what's important to them. They're not honest. They carry secrets. And not in a dramatic soap-opera way, but in a very real, believable way.

Part of me recognizes that it's a great way to hook an audience. "Why doesn't she just..." "Why won't he tell..." Etc. And though it's not-quite-real situations, I recognize the frustration and grinding away of life that might cause someone to shut down.
It's amazing how honest and open with your feelings you are. Most people have a lot of trouble getting in touch with how they feel and expressing it. It's really refreshing to meet someone who doesn't seem to have a problem with either.
MS paid me that compliment (paraphrased) a few months back, and it stuck with me. At the time, I realized that it was troubling, but only after watching TMYLM did I realize why. My family and I have had terrible, horrible fights with each other. Yelling, screaming arguments. And none of us is stupid. And I don't think that any of us thought we were defending the wrong position while we were arguing. But we still had these blow-ups with each other. And they were all like this show: Caused by pent-up frustration, the daily grind of living with people, and lack of communication. So if I'm an open and honest person, how can I have the same problems as people who aren't?

That thought haunts me.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Proof of Purchase

Wow. Breathtaking brevity.

Proof of Purchase

New Material

At Atomic Ballroom's Saturday night dance:

Me: So I'm sorry but I don't remember your name.
A: That's OK, I've been in Europe all summer, it's A.
Me: And I'm John.
A: That's right! I remember because my boyfriend's name is John.
Me (internal): Is she giving me the 'I have a boyfriend?'
A: I remember I told you that and you called me on it.
Me: Wait, what?
A: You said, "Did you just give me the 'I have a boyfriend?'" I wasn't, but that's what you said.
Me: That's right, I did. And the same thing just went through my head.
Me (internal): I need new material.
A: I think you need new material.
Me: OK, stop reading my mind.

Well, OK, she actually said that she was dating someone at the time named John. Wait, did she just give me the I'm-not-dating-anyone-right-now?!

Resident Evil: Extinction

Zombies kill people.

Lessons Learned About The Zombie Future:
  • You won't live very long unless you're super hot
  • You'll worry about gasoline and ammo, Mad Max style, but not about water
  • If you're a super-hot surviving woman, you'll have immaculate makeup and plucked eyebrows
  • You shouldn't go to Vegas

Lessons Learned From Seeing This Movie:
  • The Resident Evil franchise is best experienced on cable