thinky tim


I have a Tumblr now. I'm using it as a repository for linkblogging; at the moment, all the links I'm blogging are about The Avengers, so if that's what you're looking for, have at. I expect that it'll expand to other geeky things and social justice stuff soon enough.

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thinky tim

Personal landmarks

First, context: I hate embarrassment more than just about any other feeling in the world, and physical embarrassment is even worse because (I feel) it's more noticeable. Also, when I'm embarrassed for any reason, I have a strong physical reaction of my body locking up.

Last night, I nearly fell on my ass during salsa class, which was remarkable not because of the infrequency with which I fall on my ass or am otherwise clumsy (haha, no), but because of my reaction: I was okay with it.

I was partner-less for a rotation because we had more follows than leads last night, so I took the time to work on the one-and-a-half spin that we've been learning. That in itself is an improvement over what I used to be able to do, because I'm usually shy about learning things in front of other people (see above re: physical embarrassment), so flailing around solo in the middle of class is progress for me (when the instructor has us practice moves facing the mirror, I have to keep my eyes locked on her rather than watching myself, because then I imagine that everyone is staring at me while I look awkward ... even though I'm sure the others are more concerned with their own learning). Anyway, I guess I was dizzy from what I'd already done with a partner, because I totally swung myself off balance and nearly ate it.

I was definitely flustered, and more cautious about trying it again (though I did, eventually, and kept stumbling a little ... I think I was just having an off night). But I didn't stop practicing; I just told myself everyone else was focused on their own dancing (which is probably true) and kept going. And I didn't want to stuff myself in a dark closet to curl up in a ball! At least, not much. Progress!

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thinky tim

Obligatory Avengers feels post

I have to say, I'm not entirely sure how I became so obsessively excited about The Avengers. Sure, I grew up on Marvel comics, but they were pretty much entirely X-Men; I knew of Cap and the other Avengers, but sort of ignored them as boring. (Oops.) Partly, I blame Captain America, because the adorable bastard really sucked me into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his movie, when I had previously seen (and greatly enjoyed) the Iron Man movies without dissolving into a puddle of feels.

In addition to that, though, I think a good chunk of my excitement comes from the fact that this is a superhero team movie, and the superhero team genre is my favorite of the comic book medium. Even though I love the Batman books - and even though I'm going to see The Dark Knight Rises and expect that it will be very fun - it's that core dynamic of the disparate personalities coming together as a supportive (if snarky) family who work together to do hero stuff that I really love best. (Of course, the Bat-family has this dynamic, but the Nolan movies are more about Batman-the-dark-angsty-urban-legend-loner.) The Avengers is more about that than any other superhero movie that's come out recently (including X-Men: First Class, I'd say), and it made me feel like it was 2000 and I was squeeing over the first X-Men film again.

So I saw The Avengers at midnight on Friday, and then again on Sunday (with different people! so it's totally justified! :P) and loved the shit out of it. (And have been largely useless since then.)

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Now that I've gotten all that out of my system, maybe I can finally go back to being functional ... or maybe I'll just go obsessively hunt down news about Iron Man 3/Thor 2/Captain America 2/whatever else they announce next. :P

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thinky tim

Lea Salonga

I got to see Lea Salonga in concert last night, and she was amazing - sassy and gorgeous and in charge of the stage. I just wanted to wrap myself in her voice like a blanket. I have recordings of her that must be 20 years old, and I've been listening to them for over 10, and she just sounds even more vibrant and rich singing live.

The audience was wild about her too - she came out on stage and immediately went to the mike for her opening number ("Feeling Good" from The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd, though her rendition sounded more like the Muse cover), but people kept whooping and cheering. Her response was, "It's the tux." XD (And she did indeed look hot in her sleek, black, neckline-down-to-here tuxedo.) Some people came in late, getting led by the usher's flashlight, and when she ribbed them they made a dig at Filipino time. XD

Lea performed numbers from her most iconic roles, like "I'd Give My Life For You" from Miss Saigon, "On My Own" from Les Miserables (which was also her audition piece for Miss Saigon), and "Reflection" from Mulan. And speaking of "Reflection," there was a very enthusiastic audience member who hollered for it while Lea was introducing another song ("Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal," the title song from her first movie, which sadly was the only Tagalog song she performed), and Lea proceeded to sass him about it the entire night. In fact, she said that she needed a volunteer to sing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin, and rather than ask for a volunteer she said "Reflection Boy" had to do it.

Well, it turned out that "Reflection Boy" was an actor who had just played Jafar in an Aladdin dinner theater production (I think?), and he was positively giddy to sing with her. He shook her hand when he got on stage, but she insisted he give her a hug so he swept her off her feet in a bear hug. Then, despite his giddiness (and the fact that he didn't know the lyrics that well), he really hammed it up and made Lea burst into laughter mid-song.

Lea did a couple more Broadway numbers at the end: "For Good" from Wicked, dedicated to the audience for changing her for the better; and "Everybody Says Don't" from Anyone Can Whistle, in defiance of the naysayers (such as those who said to her - before she embarked on her 20+ year Broadway career - that she couldn't do it because she's Asian). It was at that point that she mentioned she was sick, to explain why she wouldn't sing "Defying Gravity" ... which kind of blows my mind. I could ... maybe hear where a couple of high notes sounded thin, maybe, but not anything that was anywhere near bad.

It wasn't all Showtunes and Disney, though. At one point she broke out a lounge-y rendition of "Poker Face," which she then finished up at the original Lady Gaga tempo. Then, for her encore, she sang an original song ("The Journey") and then finished up with Cee Lo Green's "Forget You." XD

In conclusion, Lea Salonga is awesome. XD Next month I get to see Kristin Chenoweth in concert, then Idina Menzel in June, so my little musical-loving heart is quite happy.

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thinky tim

Charming moments during waltz class

When your instructor is having you practice transitioning back and forth between closed position and promenade, and the sweet older man you're dancing with (who is very tall and taking the class with his very short, cute wife) starts making jet noises.

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thinky tim


I was being so good about keeping track of my dance class experiences here, and then I pretty much forgot for the month of December. :P

So let's see ... I finished the beginner salsa class, and it was a lot of fun. During the final session, I danced with my instructor M, and she took all the bits we'd learned and threw them at me in different combinations. By the end of our rotation I'd taken it all and not missed a beat, and she said "Yeah!" and internally I was saying "YEAH!!!" XD I definitely want to take her level 2 class, though it's offered quite frequently so I might hold off and do other classes first.

I also finished re-taking beginning Argentine tango, and I'm going to give that a break for now. When I danced with instructor M in the final session of that class, I did not manage to do all the moves she threw at me. :P I don't want to give up on it, but it just isn't clicking with me very well. Hopefully, as I take more classes and get better, I'll reach a point at which I can come back and try it again with more success. Right now, I'm trying to commit a lot of basics to my muscle memory, so trying to add the peculiar basics of Argentine tango is just too much for me.

The introductory ballroom class I started at the beginning of December just ended last week (though I missed the final session), and it really did kick my butt. Instructor C told us in the first session that she would give us more information than we could really process or remember, and she was true to her word - telling us all about how we should make this or that step, and why we hold our bodies this way, etc. Some instructors might just say "step here and here" and save the details about how to hold your body or move your feet until later (instructor M did a bit of this, though she still taught us plenty of technique). So when we did waltz, even though I've already taken a class (only 4 weeks, admittedly), I was unexpectedly challenged - suddenly I had to pay attention to the rise and fall or how to rise to the left in hold.

The class was really about the basics, and not about getting a solid grasp of any one dance. I did like getting a taste of foxtrot and cha-cha, though. We also did west coast swing, which I've done before, but a different variation than I'd learned. I think I'd like to learn more cha-cha sometime.

This month I'm taking a beginning waltz class from C. The first session was a bit quick, because all of the students had had some waltz instruction before, so I'm hopeful about how much I'll learn.

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thinky tim

Ow, my feet

I've been somewhat lucky in that, over the course of the four beginner dance classes I've taken through the university, I haven't really had my feet stepped on by partners. But tonight, on the first night of a new class at a new venue downtown ... I seem to have made up for all that missed time. >_<

I wouldn't actually mind too much - we're beginners; it happens - but my feet were already a bit sore because I'm breaking in my new shoes. (If you're curious, these are the shoes - they're character shoes, rather than actual ballroom or Latin shoes, which the local dance shop recommended because they are lower in both heel and cost. I am a liiiiittle worried that I got a size that's too small, but I'm crossing my fingers that they just need to be broken in.)

Anyway, the class itself was pretty cool. It's an introductory course to social ballroom, covering four dances (foxtrot, waltz, cha cha, and swing) over five weeks. So, not very in depth. At the beginning of the hour, I had a moment of worry that I might've wasted the not-insignificant amount of money it cost to register, since the instructor emphasized how little content we would cover, and how rudimentary the course would be. In the end, though, I'm glad I'm in the class. As we were covering the basics (foxtrot was tonight's dance), the instructor talked constantly both about what our bodies should be doing, and why they should be doing those things. She did acknowledge that a lot of that information would not stick, at least on this first go-round, but I loved hearing it - I really like building an understanding of why something works the way it does, and I do believe this part of the learning will make me a better dancer.

As for the other two courses, salsa is really fun and I'm going to take the next level in January; Argentine tango continues to kick my butt and yet I'm still somehow compelled by it. :P

This week was actually pretty full, because the intro course is offered at a place that does monthly courses, whereas the salsa and Argentine tango classes are scheduled based on the school calendar; so for this week and next week I'll be taking three classes each week. Whew. But, at least I won't go class-less over the school break and totally get out of practice.

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thinky tim

I need a dancing icon!

I think I've felt terrified at the beginning of each session of dance class I've attended. I still do it, obviously, but there's always that surge of "What do you think you're doing here?" at the beginning.

(This was probably exacerbated by me watching the beginner hip-hop class that takes place right before my class starts, and waffling between, "I could maybe try doing that" and "ooh, that looks hard, I'd just make a fool of myself.")

That being said, Argentine tango went well tonight. I'm getting better at following, in that particularly devilish kind of following AT requires, which I think you can boil down to, "You don't have any idea what's coming next, HA!" I still had a lot of stops and starts with my various partners, but I think I am understanding how to respond to their leading - and thus responding - better overall. I danced with one guy who had taken the same class with me last session, and he led a move that we learned last session but hadn't yet gotten to this session (ochos) - I was caught off-guard and didn't pivot like I was supposed to, but I did actually turn and step in the places I was supposed to, just because my body responded to his lead.

It's funny; this stage of, "I generally know what my body is supposed to do based on what the lead does, yay!" came immediately with waltz, but I'm still clawing my way to it in AT. :P

Happily, some of our leads were students from the instructor's intermediate AT class, so they were stronger and smoother leads than the beginners (nothing against them - and I really noticed improvement in one of them - it's just fun to dance with people who know better what they're doing). There was one guy who, when I took my turn with him, made me feel like I was actually doing the dance I'd seen and admired - slow, but controlled, with bursts of sharp movement. There was a nice quality to his leading - it wasn't that he shoved me around, but more like there was a hairsbreadth of mild/gentle leading to show me what to do, so that I could go with him when he moved more firmly and we hit the step in a sharp, showy way (well, it'd be showy if I were more polished). This gives me hope that I still have the potential to learn the really "boom! pow!" kind of AT that I like to watch.

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thinky tim

Dancing my troubles away

On the one hand, work made me want to cry today.

On the other hand, I went to salsa class and one of the leads told me I was the best dancer he'd danced with all night.*

I also bought my first yarn (I've been learning to knit on tools donated to me by [profile] shadawyn) for my first scarf, which I'm knitting for [personal profile] ratzeo.

Now if only I could be as happy at work as I am outside of it.

*Unfortunately, because he was trying not to announce it to the rest of the class, he sort of said it into the back of my hair, which made my personal space sensors go off. Lucky for him, my reaction to being startled like that was not to headbutt the offender.

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