Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Accented Historians

I recently finished listening to The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, which was a very enjoyable 30 hours. I got Mom started on the deadtree version of it as well, and tonight read a few chapters aloud to her while she did some packing for her impending move. The chapters I read mostly took place in Istanbul, so I got a considerable amount of practice doing a Turkish accent, as well as a bit of Romanian for one of the main characters. Not something I'd ever tried before, but I had the characters' voices in my head from Paul Michael's excellent narration, so that helped. I love how some of those accents really roll the syllables around so thoroughly while they're still way back in the throat. The back of my tongue is actually kind of tired from it. Fun, though.

While I'm talking about this book, I'd like to say that the title and cover could both really have been chosen much better. As it is, it actually took me a long time before I realized this was something I actually wanted to read. First of all, I don't know what that weird cover design is all about, with a sideways slice of someone's head spliced on top of a curtain or something. (The back cover is actually kind of cool, though.) And "The Historian" isn't much of a title (though it eventually turns out to be kind of interesting to see exactly who all the historians are in the story). Something like "The Book of Drakulya" or even just "Drakulya" would have worked and been more interesting, I think. Though perhaps it doesn't quite catch the right feel of the overall book. Maybe "Drakulya's Historian" as a compromise.

Good book overall, though, and I thought it was neat following multiple generations of the storyline at once. You have to be kind of willing to be a vicarious historian yourself to read it, though, as there is much more historicizing than actual action, and it could get to be a long slog if you're not into reading letters from medieval monks or whatever. Heh, so maybe it is an appropriate title afterall. It's more interesting than it sounds, though.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Idle What Now?

I took Mom on a belated-birthday movie outing today, and since we both wanted to see a dancey sort of movie, it was a toss-up between Idlewild and Step Up. We didn't really know much about either one, except that they're supposedly hip hop plus swing and hip hop plus ballet, respectively. So we went with Idlewild. Turns out neither of us is much into gangster movies. Mom said it reminded her of the time years ago when she accidentally went to see Poltergeist instead of E.T. Oh well.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Did I Call That Or What?

Benji won! (Just like I thought he would.) I must say, though, that they could have organized that last show much better. Eliminating the two girls and then pulling the envelope on Benji and saying "I'm sorry... but you'll have to wait until after the break," -- that was just cruel. And then when he won they went almost instantly to the credits. No final dance, no look back at his auditions, no nothing. I feel very incomplete. They should have cut out those extra hip hop guest performances, which were boring anyway, and left more time at the end.

However, I did like all the repeat performances from the top 20 competitors, with each of the top four doing their favorite couple dance and a solo, and each of the judges picking a favorite. I got to see most of my own favorites again that way, though I really would have liked a repeat of Ivan and Allison's tango and second contemporary piece. Those two as a couple had some of the best choreographies (including their first contemporary, which they did do tonight), even though I still think Benji was the individual dancer who most deserved to win. So much fun to watch. I wish I could see him actually do some west coast swing, though.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


So far this weekend I've had at least three separate people come up and express to me how sad they are that I'm moving to Seattle. Unfortunately, no one has yet been able to tell me when I'm moving, which is a bit worrisome, since I haven't started packing. I'm still trying to track down a decent "why," as well as the "when," but all we really seem to have so far is the "who" and the "where." If anyone has any further details, please let me know. Luckily, Tracey has offered to put the entire dancing population of the bay area in a bus and haul everyone up to Seattle with me if I move there, which is nice, since I don't really want to leave here anyway.

Note: If anyone wants to help spread the alternative rumor, the story is that I married a biker chick, moved to Seattle to practice underwater welding, opened a motorcycle repair shop that went bust, and now am actually moving back to the bay area. Thanks to Lisa for helping sort this all out.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


This is a cool idea: BookMooch.com. It's a points-based book trading system. You can list books you own and want to give away, then when someone requests one, you send it and earn a point. With each point, you can request someone else to send you a book. The only cost is the postage. If you sign up and list 10 books to give away, you get a starter point to get you going before you even have to send anything out. Should be good, assuming they get enough people and books in there to have a decent amount of interesting things available. I'm going to try it out.
[via Lifehacker]

Update: Within a day of signing up, I sent off one book, got credits for two more, and requested one to be sent to me. Good start!

P.S. You can view my wishlist if you want to send me something, or see the books I have available to trade in my inventory.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Newport Redowas

I came up with a couple clevernesses at Friday Night Waltz last night. First of all, I realized that you could do cross-step hemiola pivots, but starting on the 4 instead of the 1. Same concept, but very different feel, at least for the lead (I haven't tried following it yet). Doing the waterfall cross behind thing on the crosses helps, too, I think. That one was pretty straightforward.

The other invention was mothered by necessity, since there were a number of waltzes last night at awkward tempos, either slow rotaries or fast cross-steps. This idea works best for that in-between tempo, preferably with some good percussion or something to keep the energy up and make the music seem faster than it is. You start off by doing Newports, which I know as part of the Bronco schottische, but which I tend to forget are actually waltz steps. For those who don't know it, you basically do rotary waltz steps, but add in extra "ands": 1-and-2-and-3, 4-and-5-and-6. You're just kind of barely pushing off on the "ands," not making real steps, so it makes it bouncier even though it's slower than a regular rotary. Now, if you want to kick it up one more notch, you start doing redowas on top of the Newports. I haven't thought of a good way to really describe this, other than "think redowa and stretch it out more." But anyway, it works and it's great because you can match redowa energy in the music, even if the tempo wouldn't ordinarily support it.