Jan 27, 2006


Posted by Mary |

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Too cold to come up with a more clever post title. Too cold to stay at work very long. Perhaps even too cold to go to Free Beer Friday.

Jan 26, 2006

inspiration vs. lack of motivation

Posted by Mary |

Don't blame me for not going to the gym when it's -45 degrees F. I just don't want to stop work, get all bundled up, walk over to the gym, thaw out, exercise, shower, rebundle, rewalk, rethaw and resume work. (You like that re-re-re-re alliteration? That's the sign of an editor, baby) So I'll do some free weights when I get home and maybe hit the free yoga at the commune tonight.

But the temperature hasn't stopped me from starting to fixate on a goal. Perhaps inspired by Jill, who is blogging her training for the Susitna 100, I've started to consider setting a goal to work towards. One that's a bit more tangible than, say, "lose 10 pounds."

To make it more real, I'll just say it here: I'm thinking of running a mini-triathlon this summer. Emphasis on the mini. Tom and I have been talking about taking a trip to Nome (City slogan: There's no place like Nome.) for a few years, and we both have the miles for free tickets. A friend who lives out there has offered to kick her dogs off the couch for us. It's all starting to look like a distinct possibility.

OK, all except for my level of physical fitness. While I dance a lot and hit the elliptical, I'm not exactly a triathlete. However, this is a mini-triathlon. A 1-mile swim (in an indoor pool, no less), 3.5-mile run and 7.5-mile bike ride. Plus, Nome is pretty flat, so I shouldn't have to worry about hills. I think that with a careful training plan (plus the help of TriathaNewbie) I could actually do this.

Oh hell. Let's just say it: I'm going to do it. I'm going to Nome in May to run the Stroke and Croak mini-triathlon. If only for the free T-shirt and the joy of dropping "Oh, yeah, well, I did run that triathlon in Nome once..." (yes, I will forget to add the "mini-"), I will do this. So in the spirit of Jill, I'm adding a donation button to my sidebar. Just in case you want to help me scrounge up the $5 entry fee. Any money left over from the entry fees will be used to stimulate the economy in Nome by means of purchasing copious amounts of beer after the race.

hooked on hasselhoff

Posted by Mary |

This distracted me from work quite a bit today.

Jan 25, 2006

dance dilemmas

Posted by Mary |

As a bellydancer, I am not immune to the occasional self-doubt. Is my 3/4 shimmy smooth? Why can't I flutter? Should I wear the bedlah or the coins? But since I started studying Middle Eastern dance, I've been pretty content with it. Until I saw the Bellydance Superstars DVD.

At the start of my bellydancing experience, I knew of two types: Cabaret and American Tribal Style. And for me, it was Cabaret all the way. ATS was nice, sure, but tassel belts, turbans and black clothing can't really compare. With Cabaret you get glitz, glamour, sequins, beads, coins!
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Look at the lovely Aziza, for example. Cabaret was what I always thought bellydancing should be.

But then I found Bollywood, which has its own style of dancing. Precise hand movements, sharp hips and back-up dancers.
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I couldn't find anyone to teach me Bollywood, so I started to study some movies and pick up the moves. I put together a routine and performed it at a hafla. I grew more obsessed with Bollywood movies. The Hindi songs are often very catchy pop tunes, the costuming is incredible, and I could always end up playing Aishwarya to Shahrukh.
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To me, there were strong similarities between Cabaret and Bollywood.

But then there were those pesky Bellydance Superstars. Specifically, one Ms. Rachel Brice.

At first glance, her style of dancing was ... wrong. It was slow. It was creepy. It was gothic. And yet her technique was flawless. She didn't smile, but I was captivated by her eyes. The more I watched, the more I wondered.

Rachel Brice's style is called Tribal Fusion. It has many of the standard bellydance moves, but they are slowed down. Arms are always up, hands constantly moving in slow, snaky ways. She throws in lots of fabulous backbends and Turkish drops. And the look? Well, it's starting to appeal to me.
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Unlike ATS, Tribal Fusion dancers wear whatever they feel like.
Dreadlock falls? Check
Fishnet tops? Check
27 bracelets per arm? Check
Gartered pants? Check

But my troupe is Cabaret. Very Cabaret. When I mention Tribal Fusion, they say "Oh, we did tribal once." But their idea of tribal is a strict ATS style, and they don't seem to understand my explanation of Tribal Fusion.

I love Cabaret. I'll always love Cabaret. But I'm starting to think that I'm not cut out for Cabaret. To be blunt, Cabaret dancers seem to all try to fit a particular look, and it's one that doesn't suit me. I'm not a Barbie doll. I dye my hair pink. I cut it short. I have piercings and tattoos. Sometimes I don't want to be pretty, I want to be powerful.

I think Cabaret may have been what I needed to get into the world of bellydancing, but it's not what I need to stay here. I'm not a touchy-feely hippie dancer who sighs about how the dance is so empowering and really helps to ground me with the forces of nature. That's crap. But in Tribal Fusion, I find more of a sense of acceptance.

So what do I do? Well, for now I'll keep dancing with Tundra Caravan. But in my mind, a new troupe is forming. It's called Cold Fusion, both because it's in Alaska and because I'm a dork. Will I find other dancers? Will we get booked for performances? Will this even get off the ground? I don't know, but I think I'm going to try.

monkey business

Posted by Mary |

Another monkey pictures, because they keep doing cool things, like mixing and serving martinis.

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Eight-year-old monkey Gun-Mo skates on the ice during a promotional event for the 2006 Animal Academy show, which runs until February 10 in Seoul , January 24, 2006. The monkey was drilled to skate for two weeks, the animal trainer said.

Jan 23, 2006

oooh, that smell

Posted by Mary |

I work near someone who wears too much perfume. Working on a college campus, I'm quite used to the boys who douse themselves in cologne or the girls who use enough Victoria's Secret body sprays to smell like a nudie bar dressing room. This woman, however, is on a whole new level. She walked past my door about 10 minutes ago, and I can still smell her perfume in the air. Strongly.

If she wore a more pleasant scent, perhaps I wouldn't mind, but this is a noxious old European lady-type perfume. It digs its way into the nostrils and stays there until I get a headache. And the worst part is that I don't know of a tactful way to let her know how bad it is. Maybe I should just write a letter to Dear Abby and hope she recognizes herself.

I should know better than to bitch about someone's perfume. In fact, I longed for the sweet, heady aroma of her heavy perfume when I hit the gym during my lunch break. I found myself trapped on a recumbent bike next to a man pedaling and sweating furiously in what smelled to me like some very dirty socks. Karma is a bitch.

Jan 20, 2006

pay attention now

Posted by Mary |

Today I discovered that at some point while I had headphones on and was rocking out in my office to Generation 80s Retro, someone removed all the lockers by the elevators. Those must be some good headphones. I hope that was authorized.

winter ennui

Posted by Mary |

I'd hoped that taking a vacation would allay the dreaded winter doldrums, but it doesn't seem to have done the trick. Maybe it's the -40 degrees F weather, maybe it's the long hours of darkness, maybe it's the hormones.... All that I know is that lately I'm tired and cranky a lot. And if a morning person like me can't wake up with a smile, there's something wrong with the world.

So what do I think will cheer me up? I'm glad you asked that. Arabian Spices, my friend. There's nothing that a little tribal fusion won't cure.

Jan 13, 2006

favorite new album

Posted by Mary |

Rilo Kiley has been one of my favorite bands since I got their albums last year. Sure, it hasn't been long, but I can't seem to get their albums out of rotation. Their songs are light indie-pop with lyrics that are often subversive or wicked. Recently, I came across an early copy of lead singer Jenny Lewis' new album, Rabbit Fur Coat. And with one listen, I was hooked.

First of all, Jenny Lewis is pretty foxy. Let's just get that observation out of the way.
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See? OK, moving on.... Jenny is joined here by the Watson Twins, who provide backup harmonies. The first thing I noticed was a strong Gospel influence. Of course, like a Rilo Kiley album, Lewis combines the Gospel flavor with an infectious indie-pop-alt-country flair.

After the sultry intro of Run Devil Run, Lewis gets your toes tapping with a strong beat in Big Guns, then slows down with the soulful Rise Up With Fists. The next track, Happy, is anything but happy. It slows down the tempo of the album and features soft guitar and Lewis' stunning voice. The rest of the album continues to take listeners on a fast-slow-fast roller coaster of sound.

Jenny Lewis has been on the music scene for years, and her songwriting has grown with time. Lyrics such as "When I'm with you, I'm looking for a ghost or invisible reasons to fall out of love and run screaming from our home" are hidden inside the upbeat tempo of You Are What You Love.

The album will be available at the end of the month, if you can wait that long.

Jan 12, 2006

a picture is worth a thousand words

Posted by Mary |

But I'll give you a caption anyway.

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Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey rides his border collie dog during a break in the Denver Nuggets Phoenix Suns game in Denver January 10, 2006. Whiplash was in town for the 100th National Western Stock Show going on across town.

Jan 11, 2006

another thing to love

Posted by Mary |

Add this to my list of things I like about Alaska: You can go to a job interview and all the people there are wearing jeans or Carhartts.

I had an interview for a part-time editing position yesterday, which seemed to go well. I could see that one person kept circling the top score for my answers. To be fair, the position only requires a high school diploma, so I hope my degree and editing experience will give me an edge. They're interviewing four people for the position and I should find out within a few weeks.

The good thing about this position is that I'd be permanent at the university, which means better benefits, including free classes for my financially interdependent partner (hmmm...FIP...maybe that's what I'll call Tom from now on). The bad thing is that I'm currently in a full-time temporary position at the library, which I really like. But there are no guarantees after this fiscal year.

Jan 6, 2006

what's ahead for 2006

Posted by Mary |

I do this every year and it never seems to take, but here are my resolutions:

  • find a way to exercise more
  • figure out finances and look into grad school options
  • be less overtly bitchy and more passive-aggressively bitchy
  • dance at least twice a week, not counting rehearsals

recommended for you

Posted by Mary |

Sure, Netflix occasionally recommends Japanese transexual soft-core pornography for me based on my movie selections, but at least they never called me a damn dirty ape....

Wal-Mart Halts Movie Suggestions on Web
By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer Fri Jan 6, 6:25 AM ET
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is shutting down the system that creates movie recommendations on its shopping Web site after it linked a "Planet of the Apes" DVD to films about famous black Americans, including Martin Luther King Jr.
Wal-Mart said Thursday it had removed what it called the "offensive combinations" from a walmart.com page advertising a boxed DVD set, "Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series."
Under a "similar items" section, the DVD set's page linked shoppers to four films about the lives of King, actress Dorothy Dandridge, boxer Jack Johnson and singer Tina Turner. Wal-Mart later altered the page to link with television show DVDs.
The world's largest retailer said the software that generates links for shoppers from one movie to others of similar interest would be shut down. All cross references would be removed as soon as technically possible until the system can be fixed, Wal-Mart said.
Bill Wertz, a spokesman for the Bentonville, Ark.-based company, said it wasn't yet clear how or when the technical problem arose. "We're still looking into it," he said.
Wal-Mart moved swiftly after a link to the page for "Planet of the Apes" began circulating on the Internet.
"We are heartsick that this happened and are currently doing everything possible to correct the problem," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mona Williams said in a statement.
"Walmart.com's item mapping process does not work correctly and at this point is mapping seemingly random combinations of titles. We were horrified to discover that some hurtful and offensive combinations are being mapped together," she said, adding that the company was "deeply sorry that this happened."

Jan 5, 2006

jet lag blues

Posted by Mary |

While I'd love to celebrate my return (and my new digital camera) with a nice, big post, I'm still too tired to do anything. I woke up Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. (that's 3 a.m. Alaska time) and began preparations for my return home.

Thanks to a little girl reading her Bible lessons out loud, I got no sleep between Boston and Seattle. Thanks to a mother who decided it was a great idea for her kids to run around the people attempting to sleep in the airport, I got no sleep in Anchorage. By the time we made it to Fairbanks at 8 a.m., I was wired and tired, a delightful combination. We cleaned, we ate, we spent time at the DMV, and by the time we went to bed, it was around 9 p.m. That's pretty close to two days without sleep.

Many other Alaska blogs have great timelines of the past year, which I would also do if I had the energy or memory. Instead, I'll just rattle off a few of the year's highs (and lows)

  • new cabin built at Hidden Hill This was a high (got a place to live) and a low (took quite some time to get that place to live)
  • dorky library job at UAF Technically I got the job in Nov. 2004, but I got another contract in June.
  • Tom moved into above-mentioned new cabin Great, except for the stress of living with a boy.
  • ego problems and friendship dramas Proof that you can get away with being an asshole if you're charming
  • travel A high for me to see the family, but a low that apparently I will have to be the one to travel to do it. You know Alaska is beautiful, so why don't you just come up here?
  • dance Joined the bellydance troupe as a full member, took over their web site, auditioned students for student troupe, taught myself Bollywood dance, performed in a burlesque show, etc.