Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sirius Black and X-Tunes

I got my new MacBook last weekend. I'd been waiting very patiently for the MacBook Pros to come out in something smaller than 15" and the un-pro-ified MacBooks are still a tad bigger than my old 12" Powerbook, but close enough. I went with the black version rather than the white, though I'm bummed they don't have these in titanium. The white ones look a little too Fisher-Pricey for my taste, but the black is kind of cool. And that means I can name it Sirius Black. (Naming is always a very important part of getting a new computer.) Also, the two partitions on my external hard drive are now called Padfoot and Prongs. (Yeah, I'm a Harry Potter geek. So sue me.)

The overall transition has been pretty easy and painless, and I love having a zippy new machine with fewer problems. The only thing I'm really missing that I can't get to work is X-Tunes. That's a little iTunes controller that lets you just hit a key combination and then use Return and the arrow keys to play, pause, skip and change the volume on iTunes tracks. It's absolutely fantastic, but doesn't appear to work on the new Intel Mac system. Not only that, but the email address on the site bounces, so I can't contact the guy who developed it. Phooey. Anybody else know any cool little iTunes controllers like this? I was just going to use the Dashboard widget, but that doesn't accept keyboard commands, which is really the important part.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Alright, just because I haven't posted for a while. Did you know that my full name can be rearranged to spell "slosh a warm dragon"? Or "oh, worms as garland." Or, perhaps best of all, "world has an orgasm." Wow. I knew I was put here on Earth to do big things, but... gee golly.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Speed Waltzing

Yesterday I was trying to describe what it was like doing the speed waltzing competition at Big Dance, since it was pretty interesting (to me, anyway). In fact, I kind of wanted to do it again, even after two rounds at hyper-speed. What I started doing was consciously moving all the energy and activity as far down in my body as I could. I relaxed my head and shoulders, and my arms and torso, while still keeping a good frame, of course. And I watched my breath to keep it calm and even. Then I even pushed all the energy in my legs farther and farther down until it felt as though only my feet were moving, like the roadrunner whose feet spin into a blur as he just leans his body away from Wile. E. Coyote and zips off. It was kind of like when I've been running for a while and then decide to speed up for a little bit, and just magically fling my feet out farther, extending my stride, so all of a sudden I'm going faster with (temporarily) no (apparent) extra exertion of energy. It's really a fun feeling, and in a waltz that's constantly speeding up it just gets you spinning around like crazy until the rest of the dance floor blurs into nothing. I don't know how Lacey was doing it, but she can zip around like nobody's business somehow or other, so she was an excellent partner. (Yay Lacey!) And if I hadn't been starting to tire, I would have caught that last tempo change a measure or two sooner. :-)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Big Dance in Disguise

The theme this year was "Masquerade: Big Dance in Disguise," which was appropriate, given that holding it in Arrillaga rather than Roble made the whole thing very different from usual. Especially with only having one room for everything. But it was still fun. The performances were all very good, especially Swingtime and Decadance. I want to make sure to go to their spring shows this year. Lacey and I almost won the speed waltzing competition, but got tagged out for being just slightly too slow to catch one of the very last tempo changes. Phooey. Lacey also ended up sitting out a lot of the night later on because of her ankle, but I did get to dance a lot with Quena who came down from Davis, and that was fun. I had many other lovely dances with various people as well, including some folks I hadn't gotten to dance with for a long time. After learning the dawn mazurka last week, I never got around to reviewing it, so I snagged Eric's notes around 5 AM and tried to remember how it all went. I got through it by the skin of my teeth and thanks to various helpful set-mates. (There were 10 mazurka sets, a new record I think.) For the last waltz, Quena and I did a basket chair sort of thing with our arms and carried Lacey through the dance, which really worked surprisingly well. We did both right and left turn waltz, some lifts (bouncing Lacey up in the air a little bit), and even a very clumsy, lumpy jumping sort of thing for the redowa part of Erin's Shore. And we only had a few slight bumps with other people, probably no more than we would have had waltzing normally in that crowd. So it was moderately ridiculous but made us all happy. 212 people made it all the way through to 6 AM, and for me it was my 7th year in a row. We eventually got home and went to bed around the time my alarm would normally wake me up on weekdays. I eventually staggered awake around 2:30 this afternoon, and I'm going to take it pretty easy for what's left of the day.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Be Ridiculous

How to Exercise an Open Mind: "Simply put, all one needs to grow his or her brain is to do unique, random, different, and ridiculous things as often as possible."

Sounds like a good plan to me.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Walls, Drawings and Adverbs

Living Room Wall Update After the initial flurry of activity, progress on the living room wall art project has slowed a bit, but it's definitely still going. I did some more work on it this weekend (compare with the previous update). I also got some unexpected assistance with it from a complete stranger who found my blog and decided to email me scans of six lovely little watercolors, which I printed out and added to the design. I was pretty tickled at that, since I figured at most a small handful of people I know would actually contribute. (Side note: This is actually the only contribution I've gotten so far, so all friends, family and acquaintances are hereby given a friendly poke in the ribs.)

As I was drawing, cutting and pasting this weekend, I also watched MirrorMask, which I now have a DVD of. I rarely buy DVDs, so take this as a very strong recommendation. I love the movie as much as the book and it relates a lot to this art project. Helena draws entire worlds from her imagination and plasters them all over her walls, and then all her adventures seem to take place inside them. The whole thing is a wonderful celebration of creativity and imagination, which is what I always want to have more of in my life.

And while we're on the subject of relating books to walls, I'll mention that I just finished reading (listening to, actually) Adverbs, by Daniel Handler. It was an interesting book, though I'd have to say that I wasn't so much in ecstasies with it to the extent that I was with Watch Your Mouth or The Basic Eight. But what I liked about it was that it was a series of short stories (all titled with an adverb intended to modify the verb "love") but they were all still connected into a unified whole. This is a general theme of things I like across various art forms. Another excellent example of it in literature would be Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities. In art, perhaps Kandinsky's Small Worlds, which I saw at the NY MOMA. In music (and art) there's something like Satie's Sports et Divertissements. And in my house, there are dozens of miniature drawings, paintings, photographs, limericks, quotes and other designs all forming a mosaic on my wall. Fun stuff.