Friday & Saturday

Friday: made like a zombie through work, and then collapsed in a heap.

Saturday: made like a zombie through the day, and then had Brian laugh at my pathetic attempts at tactical espionage in Metal Gear Solid. Later we watched Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle with Nate (funny movie; definitely worth renting), and then capped the evening off with some good old-fashioned Soul Calibur II.

There are so many hilarious quotes in Harold & Kumar (taken out of context, so you probably won’t find ’em funny unless you’ve seen it):

Check it out! Those guys look like a lame version of us.

Bullets! My only weakness! …How did you know?

You know the Holocaust? Picture the exact opposite of that.

Hurry up, dudes, hurry up! I’m losing wood!


As we left lindy hop—into the absolutely gorgeous sunshine and sixty-degree weather that graced us all week—Sam told us about her boyfriend who was whining about the cold weather leaving so soon.

Sam informed him, she told us, that he should be looking forward to spring and summer—because the gals would start wearing skimpy clothing again.

While the idea that Sam would tell her boyfriend this puzzled Jon to no end (I, instead, chose to overlook that apparent oddity), I took the chance to quote Neil’s observation that spring term was the best term, as the hotties [emerge] out of their hottie-holes. I remain convinced that hottie-holes have been woefully under-researched in academia.


I (re)learned how to polka!

Imagine cars racing around a track. Now, imagine those cars are actually couples in a ballroom frame: they gallop twice, rotate 180 degrees, gallop twice, rotate another 180 degrees, and then repeat the process—all to the rhythm of polka music. And polka music, whatever else you think about it, is fast.

The racetrack analogy is apt, because there’s an incredible chance for collisions to occur while you’re spinning and moving at high speed around the dance floor. In my case, though, the near-accident was a one-car affair: the side of my shoe caught on the floor. My follow and I traversed a good eight feet, struggling to stay upright, before we finally came to a complete stop. It was extreme.

It was also hell on my legs. I limped around the rest of the week—and garnered no sympathy from anyone. ::sob::

Tuesday revisited

Well, since it’s been another length of time since I last posted, I might as well continue with this “days of the week” theme.

Another odd quirk of Tuesday’s west coast class: things were progressing normally, when the class rotation paired me with Jenny. She opened our interaction with rather loaded words: I had a dream about you.

In this dream, apparently, I was some sort of crazy genius. (Alas, she failed to elaborate on what actually happened in this dream.) And, no, I didn’t have the heart to tell Jenny that I actually am a crazy genius—something about that “genius” bit rang false.


My long-standing nightmare (which began way back in September) is finally over. Last night was the first night in half a year that I slept soundly.

The issue of my not getting enough sleep last night will be rectified shortly. I’m incredibly thankful that all I lost, in the end, was this six-month period—and I didn’t really lose all of that, because I did get to dance quite a bit. I’m a better dancer, and am in better (though by no means good) shape than I’ve been in ages.

So, two links to pass your time while I catch some shut-eye: 30-Second Bunnies Theatre (link found by Marin, I think on the AOD forums), and Baby Got Bible (found on What Do I Know). Impressive!

Now that this crisis has passed, it looks like I’ll have to actually start making progress on those actuarial exams again. I’m no longer stuck in traction…weird.

Monday & Tuesday

Monday: I worked, while all my friends with government-contractor jobs had the day off. ::whine::

Tuesday: mostly unremarkable. During west coast this evening, Marco gave the class a styling tip about the step we were learning—but looked directly at me the entire time he was talking. Hmm. (One might be able to argue that I have a modicum of technical skill in WCS. One could not, however, argue that I have any style.)

I now sit huddled over my powerbook, typing far-too-literal descriptions of the events of the last few days before I forget them completely. My back is sore. I wonder if perhaps I should attempt to make witty observations about my world in this blog, rather than just regurgitate the events of my day. I reject the idea, as that might take effort and/or thought.


Andy actually came down to C-town for the weekend, though my dancing kept me from seeing him on Saturday. Sunday, then, was a day spent hanging out with Andy and Brian; we wandered around campus while Andy took pictures for the photography class he’s taking. We bought lunch from the Pita Pit, and Brian later shared bitter Dagoba chocolate (he mentioned a McSweeney’s review stated something along the lines of “[this is] God-fearing chocolate”) with the rest of us. During a slow moment, I issued the Mega Man Challenge to Brian: how little of your toes can you use to successfully balance off the side of a curb? (Mega Man can support himself with a scant pixel or two of one foot actually on a ledge.) Andy proclaimed the challenge dumb.

After Andy ran out of film, we gave Nate and Kevin a call and invited ourselves over. Kevin requested we bring some drinks, so we bought a fridge-pack of Vanilla Coke (nectar of the gods!); inspired by Andy’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force T-shirt, Brian keyed The Moon Rulz #1 into the fridge-pack.

At Nate’s, we played Soul Calibur II and discovered that Andy is a genius at both throws and guard-impacts (which deflects an opponent’s blow and stuns them for a moment). He still can’t block (by pressing the block button) to save his life, but by-gum he can press the block button and move the joystick back exactly when his opponent attacks.

[Historical Note: Soul Calibur is the series that Andy has repeatedly stated that he loves, but is simply no good at.]


I spent the bulk of my Saturday withstanding torture, making a mad dash up a communication tower with hordes of Bad Guys trying to stop me, and then rappelling down that same communication tower with a Hind helicopter shooting at me.

Of course, during that last exercise my grip ran out and I fell to my death. That’s when I gave up on my game of Metal Gear Solid.

That evening was the final ballroom dance of the term. The dance’s theme was a formal affair, which meant I got to pull my slacks and white dress shirt from my closet. That’s when I discovered that my shirt had a moth hole (or had caught on something? I’m not sure)—and getting dressed got progressively more painful from there. See, my dad hated/hates getting dressed up; I inherited that trait from him. Anything more formal than jeans and a polo shirt, and odds are I will gripe while putting it on.

Instead of being on time for the dance (which would have been a first for me […]), I was an hour late. Grar.

Fortunately, the dance was worth it. I got to waltz, cha-cha, hustle, west-coast swing, night-club two-step, and lindy hop with a variety of people, and had fun chatting with many more. (To show off: I can also dance salsa, merengue, foxtrot, rhumba, and american tango. To not show off: I’m rather rusty at and/or have few moves for many of those dances.)

Jay was ecstatic about being accepted into grad school; Tiffany (college-Tiffany, to avoid confusion) was enjoying her brief respite from the pharmacy graduate program; Connor figured out I was sneaking up on him when I laughed at something amusing that occurred nearby. Connie talked me into going into open position during a cha-cha (meaning that the lead and follow have absolutely no connection, and so are dancing both by themselves and with each other—and I’m generally no good at dancing by myself), which was only notable because I didn’t screw it up royally. A-young—I’m probably butchering the spelling of her name—tolerated my confused attempts to fuse West Coast into Lindy hop. Other than that, I did reasonably well throughout the evening. Reasonably.

After the dance, I joined a subset* of my dance friends in a late-night trip to Shari’s. (Little did I know that Shari’s is actually a hot after-dance hangout.) We wound up torturing our poor waiter by ordering fifteen-thousand milkshakes—after ordering, we saw him carrying a tub of ice cream towards the shake machine. I ordered a strawberry milkshake; Ashley (sitting beside me) decided that sounded good, and followed suit. Later, Ashley ordered french toast; I then decided that sounded good, and did the same—to the amusement of the others. (Turns out that they give you a good deal of french toast; next time we’d be better off splitting one order.)

[*Connor was greatly amused by my use of the term subset in a similar context, and commented that I was such the math graduate. I still contend that it’s the best word I could have used.]

People were mostly tired, so conversation was rather light. The boy scouts of the group—Jay, Scott, Nihal (or however you spell a name that phonetically sounds like “Knee-Hall”), and two others whose names I haven’t quite caught—serenaded the rest of us—Anne, a gal I don’t know, Ashley, and myself—with old campfire songs. Their singing made it sound more like drunkards singing drinking songs, which was probably even more amusing.

My body is telling me something

If my life were a novel, this last weekend would be a climactic battle between the forces of sleep and the forces of doing fun stuff. In this novel, fun stuff would win several early battles, but sleep would kick ass in the end.


Comedy show

So Brian, Pete, Laura, and I attended a free comedy competition this evening. Most of the comics were reasonably entertaining, and a few were downright hilarious. (One, as Brian noted, was just the other day both running illegal immigrants across the border, and in an earthquake.)

And then there was the “token” female comic, whose entire routine was based around comments about sex. Stuff that she could get away with saying because she was female; stuff that a guy would get crucified for saying (with genders reversed, of course); stuff that she really shouldn’t get away with saying, even if she is female.

I was mentally preparing myself for hara-kiri in the middle of her routine, when I found salvation—and the only damn thing about her routine that was funny—in the periodic utterances of Jesus Christ! that came from various fratboys in the audience.

You just know you’re on the wrong side of the line when the fratboys are against you.

Priorities, plus rambling (mostly rambling)

I recently finished reading Web Standards Solutions, by Dan Cederholm. Despite the dry-sounding title, it was a fun read (do keep in mind that I was already interested in CSS beforehand). I now have some ideas of things that I could improve, and I’m also starting to get an itch to revise (if not completely redesign) things around here. Of course, that sorta overlooks this site’s long-neglected links and stillborn anime review areas, but…

There are only so many hours in the day—and when you manage time as inefficiently as I do, there are (effectively) even fewer hours in that day. Once you take out time spent sleeping or working for The Man, I only have a little bit of free time to spend how I choose—and, for now, I choose to dance. (Or sleep more. My late hours continue to kill me.) Spending time with friends and family is similarly valued, even though lately I seem to be more successful with dancing. The fact that I get anything else done on the side (if I ever actually did get anything else done) is gravy to me.

It’s amazing how much dancing does for my attitude towards life. I frequently walk into dance practices (and classes) beaten down, and almost always leave with a bit of a spring in my step. That spring then quickly wears out—but it leaves me in a much more contented state of exhaustion. I’ve found something that really makes me happy.

And I don’t think anyone would have predicted that I would ever dance. (I sure as hell wouldn’t have.)

Now if I could just find an interest that I could actually talk about with normal people. Dancing is fun, but hard to describe to the uninitiated (I apologize for the repeated attempts I’ve made on this blog, though I refuse to change my ways); anime is fun, but is probably something better to enjoy quietly on the side; macs are fun, but are more a means to an end than anything else. That last one might change if I actually start trying to make a movie, or compose music, or make a book of my photography (more likely once I get a camera with image stabilization)—but, again, the interesting conversation would be about what I was doing, not the computer I was using.

I guess my problem is that the one thing I do (as opposed to more-passively watching or using) isn’t much in the way of conversation fodder. And since I don’t watch all that many movies (though I’ve been getting some milage out of Pauly Shore is Dead), or keep up with the latest gossip from around town (let alone Hollywood), or even pay attention to the weather (most days I discover what the weather is when I step out my front door to go to work)… I’m a terrible conversationalist.

I should probably learn how to chit-chat, one of these days.


Brent Dear reader,

Hope your VD is was happy and full of unicrons.


Brian Brent

My day was not particularly happy—nor particularly sad—and nary a unicron was to be found. Guess I’ll have to start continue looking for victims romantic interests (and unicrons) tomorrow.

Until then, I think I’ll catch some shut-eye. The bags under my eyes are starting to drag on the ground—and that’s never a good sign. Also, apologies to Brian for rehashing his Valentine’s Day email to me. Nevertheless, I completely believe that it had to be done.


On Saturday some form of Movie Nite was reanimated, as I ended up watching Pauly Shore is Dead with Brian, Eric, Albert, and Evrim. (Despite being pretty bad, it’s undoubtedly the best Pauly Shore movie in existence.) Afterwards we sat around and chatted; Albert eventually commented that that evening was one of the rare times (maybe the third, say) where he had been able to just sit and chat with a bunch of people in the United States.

He’s been here for two years.

Needless to say, that made me think (though the actual conversation steered back into irreverence soon afterwards): are we really so involved in our groups (of family, friends, coworkers, others with similar interests) that we don’t bother to even talk to other people? Or, perhaps, are we all so shy that we don’t bother traveling beyond our already-established social borders? (I’d peg myself in that latter category.)

Yes, Albert’s from Spain. His English is damn fine, however, and he’s a friendly, outgoing guy. We live in a liberal college town, fer crying out loud; I can’t imagine many places that should be more friendly towards people than this city.

And yet even this town has dropped the ball. I’m at a loss as to how that could happen, and am ultimately reduced to internet-speak: WTF?

The Fog

Thursday was a day of firsts for me. I began by actually being competent in lindy hop, only screwing up every single move for the free dance at the end of class. (Weird—usually I’ll start either on or off of my game, and end the same way.)

Later that evening, I was standing bent over a table (taping a box closed) when I realized that my back ached and that standing up was going to be a slow, somewhat painful affair. I suppose my age is starting to show.

Or else I’ve just been beating my body up, and not getting enough sleep to give myself time to heal. Furthering that hypothesis is the fact that my hand tremor is just about the worst I’ve ever seen it—and the degree of my tremor is (most-immediately) a function of how much sleep I’ve been getting.

Even later Thursday evening, Brian and I went out for “coffee.” (The use of quotation marks is because neither of us ever buys coffee on these trips.) As we headed to the Beanery, the sky was crystal-clear; while we were at the Beanery, a fog straight out of… The Fog… descended upon us. (It just so happens that C-town is getting ready for its centennial celebration.) Out of nowhere—I mean, out of the fog—these shapes emerged and attacked us. Freaky!

A’ight, I kid. But we really did get freaked out at the weird actions of the other Beanery customers, and so got the heck away from there. After almost running over an old guy riding a bike in the middle of the road (in the frickin’ fog!), we managed to arrive back at the very same Beanery from which we had fled. Madness!

Yep. Those are the two pseudo-horror movies I recall that really made use of fog. Yep.

That fog really was thick, though. I hated driving under street lamps, as each time I did they rendered me completely blind for a moment.

A conversation

The following is the gist of a five-minute conversation that I took part in before the start of my lindy hop class today. Other participants were Jon (Renee’s friend, and thus my friend) and Sam (a girl!*). I’ve elected to enumerate the conversation’s progression, though my divisions are rather arbitrary.

[* No, I’m not bragging about having talked to a girl. Sam’s gender might be confused by her name and her comments, is all.]

1) Talk of the superbowl. Amazement from both Sam & Jon that Brent didn’t care, and didn’t watch.

2) The half-time show being Paul McCartney. (Tangentially: the idea of Justin Timberlake running out randomly and causing a wardrobe malfunction for the second year running.)

3) Jon: which of the remaining Beatles do you think will live the longest? Brent: eh? Sam: whichever one does more drugs. When pressed for an explanation: It seems like there are all sorts of people who really shouldn’t be alive right now. Like Ozzy Osbourne.

4) Brent: but there’s also Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, on the other side. Jon: Elvis is still alive!

5) Brent: …yeah. He’s busy fighting a mummy in a retirement home right now. (Brent then tries to remember the name of the movie he’s referencing, as it eludes him at that moment.) Brent & Sam: Bubba Ho-tep! Jon: huh?

6) Discussion about Bruce Campbell. Jon is unaware of this legendary B-grade horror movie actor, so Sam and Brent try to fill him in.

7) Army of Darkness. Sam’s seen it twice, and though she hated it the first time, she loved it the second. (One’s enjoyment of that movie depends on one’s mood, she asserts.) Brent confesses that he’s only seen the first Evil Dead movie, but…

8) Sam: the tree rape scene? Brent: yeah. Jon: WTF? Tree’s don’t even have the necessary… Sam & Brent: don’t ask.

Yeah, so I’ve finally met a gal who dances and watches horror movies (and seems nice, too). I should have proposed to her on the spot, but class started soon after.

Need… more efficient… power!

I was dismayed to learn the other day that my precious G5 (just the tower itself; no monitor) consumes power like a mofo. Idling it uses 140W; fully pimped out—all PCI slots used, stuffed to the gills with RAM, etc.—it’ll consume just over 600W. One guy’s estimate of average consumption, which seems reasonable, was 300W.

For comparison’s sake: the miniMac sucks up 85W. I could power somewhere near four Mac minis with the same amount of juice that my G5 draws—and four minis would take up about half the volume that the G5 takes up. (N.B.: I know next to nothing about electricity, and so there’s probably something horribly wrong with my statement. I’ve been repeatedly exposed to electrical concepts and equations over the years, but nothing ever sticks—save for the “five rules about downed power lines.” You know: do not touch them.)

Mind you, I’m not really complaining. My G5 performs well, and does (er… can do) much more than a mini can. Still, I’d like to conserve where I can.

I was greatly heartened to learn, in contrast, that my (admittedly old) powerbook draws 45W—and that includes an LCD display that the mini does not. So, if electricity ever becomes damned expensive… you know which screen I’ll be huddled over.

New sales technique

So this guy and gal come up to my house yesterday. My dad answers the door, and they ask him to buy a subscription to a magazine or two to support inner-city kids, or somesuch. Dad tells them “sorry, no thanks.”

They then start talking smack as they leave:

Nice house; be a shame if something happened to it.

This is a nice car; be a shame if it got damaged.

Nice gun; sorry to have bothered you.

Mmm… yeah. That’s how it went down. Anyhoo, Dad had fun calling the police afterwards to note the incident. Apparently these two earned themselves numerous complaints from my neighborhood.

It’s probably best for them that they tried this in such a peacenik town. I didn’t much appreciate (“I got pissed at”) hearing their idle threats, and I’m really not that aggressive/violent a person.

I successfully avoided the Super Bowl yet again this year (I wouldn’t have known that it was this weekend, had WinCo’s parking lot not been brimming with people buying chips and drinks on Saturday), this time by buying CDs from Amazon’s Marketplace. (For whatever reason, I can spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out if a certain CD—or, even worse, a certain song from the iTunes Music Store—is worth buying. I’m not sure why I bother, as I’ve still purchased my fair share of stinkers.) I’ll spare you the details of the CDs that I bought, mostly because they’ll probably end up being personally embarrassing once I learn more about them.

It’s happened before.

Things I thought I’d never see

After some goading from me, Jay tonight (re)invented the following abominations:

1) West Coast Waltz

2) West Coast Tango

While I decried them as dance fouls, Jay enjoyed himself. Quite a bit, actually. We convinced him that he should west coast in the center of the room during the traditional last waltz; he was game, but the follow he convinced into joining him was only willing to do so on the sidelines.

Color me disappointed.

Nevertheless, the direction of the next goal is clear: viennese west coast waltz. Jay says “no way,” but we’ll wear him down.

Dance practice highlights

Good day overall, entirely because of my dance classes. In lindy hop we learned this spectacular set of moves where you and your follow form a two-person train that does something akin to the twist in one direction, and then promptly pulls a 180 (i.e. so that the one twisting behind is now twisting in front) before doing other stuff. All the while you’re also waving your free hand in the air in time with the music. As Marc (the instructor) warned us on the first day—you don’t lindy and look refined. If you can throw your self-consciousness out the window, though, you’ll have a blast.

I’m still working on that “self-conscious” thing.

We also learned two different methods to do breaks (which should not be confused with breaks in the music, which I have referred to in the past): the real version, where you jump as high as you can and pull your legs up as you jump, and the geriatric version, where you completely fake jumping. Both extremes are hilarious.

West Coast, on the other hand, left me wondering if I might actually be doing quite well in the dance—at least as far as technical form goes. (Style has never been a personal strength.) Time may tell.

During the break I got to play lead to Marco’s follow; during that dance he revealed to me the ultimate secret of West Coast: I’m not really the one who should be listening for breaks in the music. Follows end up listening to the music as they wait for their lead, he said, and so good follows will warn their lead when there’s an impending break.

This means that I’m not really supposed to listen to the music closely in addition to keeping the beat, leading the follow and moving myself appropriately, planning out future moves, and generally being aware of where others are dancing. (A good thing, because that’s a pretty full plate for me.) Instead, I’m supposed to also be responsive to the follow’s lead for breaks. (Dammit!)

I’m a lead because I’d be an even worse follow!


Lately I’ve been more distracted than usual. Not “leaves his coffee on top of his car and drives to work” distracted, but still not quite all mentally there. There was a ballroom dance Sunday evening; though I attended it, I never really got into the dance groove. My lack of action drove Barry crazy (“c’mon! get out there and dance!”; “you paid money to get in, remember?”; etc.)—and, in general, he’s right. I’ve bothered learning these steps; I might as well use them before I forget ’em. Sunday just wasn’t the night.

I did get to see Robin as Cinderella (the theme of the dance was fairy tales and whatnot; I figured that the fact I bothered to tuck in my shirt was close enough), as well as most of the leads fawn over the “new” cute gal/good follow*, so it wasn’t a complete wash. Connor was there and gave me another person to chat with; he wasn’t wearing any female clothing (that I could tell), either. Definite plus there.

[*The “new” cute gal actually just disappeared and then reappeared multiple years later; I’m probably the only one who remembers her from before**. I only remember her, actually, because she remembers me—she’s a friend of my high school prom date. I have, however, completely forgotten her name—as you might have guessed.]

[**Mostly because I was the only one who took so damned long to graduate.]

The only real good to come of this weekend was that I was able to jump on a K-Mart special and buy Shaun of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead for the price of a cheap disc and a rental. (It just so happens that I wanted to buy SotD cheap and rent DotD.) This evening I elected to refocus myself by scaring myself spitless, and so popped in Dawn.

Fast zombies do revolutionize the zombie genre. They’re also more useful when you want to make a horror movie more than you want to make a social commentary, I would imagine. (If you—shock!—aren’t familiar with them, George Romero’s original Dead trilogy was half horror and half commentary. In Night of the Living Dead, the danger to the living frequently came from other living people, and not the dead. Dawn of the Dead was a commentary on commercialism. Day of the Dead was…gory.) The remake of Dawn featured a clever opening, and an otherwise alright movie. Not great, but not awful. Gory, yes, but not as gory as I had expected. (Of course, that statement comes from someone who’s seen his fair share of horror movies.)

Am I any more focused now? Um…well…maybe. I’ll get back to you.

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