Jul 28, 2006

big brother is watching you....

Posted by Mary |

Tom, as you may know, is on a cross-country bike trip. He was recently in the heart of fly-over country (Monon, Indiana) where he tried to read my blog on the library computer. You know, to keep up with my busy life and all. When he tried to load the page, he got this message:

PureSight for WinGate: Access denied
PureSight for WinGate has determined that the requested URL (http://www.maryhaley.blogspot.com/) is at least 69 % likely to contain prohibited content.
The content has been blocked because it is of a sexual nature.
If you have any queries with regards to this, please contact your system administrator.

Is it ironic that my blog is 69% likely to be sexual in nature?

This reminds me of the time I discovered that the Eudora e-mail program would put chili peppers on my messages if I used certain words. In my defense, bitch is acceptable language when you are the managing editor of a magazine about dog-powered sports. Even better, Eudora would also send me a pop-up to remind me that I had used some choice language and make sure I really wanted to send the message. I had great fun playing with that program, although Tom probably wondered why he got e-mails that said "shit piss fuck bitch cocksucker damn." He probably thought I had Tourette's of the fingers.

I'll bet I'm up to 70% prohibited content by now. I won't rest until I reach 86%. Damn right. Damn. Right. Damn.

Jul 24, 2006

It's not what you know, it's who you know

Posted by Mary |

Several months ago, Pernon Ricard started marketing Soho, a lychee-flavored liqueur. I love lychee, and especially love lychee martinis, but have never been able to reproduce them well at home. Perhaps trying to puree vodka and lychees in a blender isn't the best plan, but you can't blame a girl for trying. Of course, when I heard that someone was distributing lychee liqueur in the United States, I was all over it. Well, I was all over it in a roundabout fashion.

The manufacturers decided to begin test marketing the beverage in Philadelphia in August 2005.. They then expanded to San Francisco, and that's where the lychee trail came to a grinding halt. Although the company promises a full national rollout by the end of 2006, I'm nothing if not impatient. And so, a plan was formed.

I convinced a friend [we'll call him "Jake"] who was going to the Philadelphia area to bring me back two bottles. When he arrived, he proceeded to the nearest state-run liquor store only to discover that Soho had to be special-ordered and would not arrive before his return to Fairbanks. Boo!

And then came the second plan. "Jake" would be traveling to the West Coast in June, along with another friend we’ll call "Stanley." Moreover, one of "Jake's" friends would be traveling out to meet them. ["Jake" has a friend named Cookie. No quotes because that is apparently her real name. That has nothing to do with the story.] And so it was decided that "Jake's" friend would smuggle out two bottles of Soho, and "Stanley" would become the mule who carried the bottles across the Canadian border and deliver them to me in Fairbanks. It is worth noting that there's nothing illegal about Soho, I just happen to like pretending that there is.

Several months after the plan was hatched - Sunday, to be precise - my doorbell rang. "Stanley" stood, there, bearing my contraband. Four months. $40 (I'll send you a check, "Jake"). Patience far beyond my natural capacity. It will all be worth it when I mix up a lychee martini tonight.

Jul 21, 2006

heard at fairbanks summer arts festival

Posted by Mary |

I didn't know you cross-stitched.
--Dancer 1
Yeah, don't tell anyone. It kind of ruins my street cred.
--Me Dancer 2

How did this happen? How did I allow a colleague to talk me into judging fair entries for 4-H? Maybe, maybe, on a good day when I was half-asleep or drunk I would be an adequate choice to judge livestock or something. But on a sober day? Not so much. And sadly, I'm not even going to judge livestock. (You got a real pretty mouth, pig...) No, I get to judge the creative entries. You know, photographs, poems, essays, etc.

You must bear in mind that I'm very familiar with these types of entries. When we go to the fair, Tom insists on reading each and every one. It's that same sort of sickness that forces him to read every interpretive plaque he encounters. Every. One. But back to me. Tom reads all of these entries, and I stand next to him and try to offer constructive criticism.

  • "Using the same word twice doesn't count as a rhyme, Brianna."
  • "Maybe when mommy was helping you pick out fonts for your essay, she should have been running the spellcheck, Dustin."
  • "Iambic pentameter? I don't think so, Hailey."
  • "Dear God in heaven, do you really think that looks anything like a dog, Khrystal? It looks more like Sloth in Goonies."
  • "I find your use perspective quite interesting, Madison. Was this your view from the window in your short bus?"
  • "Well, that's certainly one way to draw the trees, Aaron. But perhaps, as the saying goes, you couldn't see the forest for the crap you were scribbling on the paper."
And, occasionally,
  • "NO! Just...NO!!!!"

Judging, of course, is horribly biased toward the kids. As I was informed, we use the Danish Method. This does not involve any sort of pastries, so I was already feeling cheated. Then I discovered that the Danish Method means, basically, everybody wins. "They should call it the Lame-ish Method," I muttered, sinking deeper into my chair. There are four levels of awards:
Blue: Given to those projects that most nearly meet the standards for the project. Please note that the highest award possible can be given to a project that doesn't even meet the standards. Social promotion, methinks.
Red: Given to projects that rank good in relation to the standards. Or, as the Web site says, "the general level of the accomplishment is less than excellent." Well, there's my answer. Bill and Ted are making these rules.
White: Given to projects that are found lacking. WTF? You get an award for this? In that case, I have known a lot of white-ribbon people in my days.
No ribbon: This may be given if an exhibit failed to produce a level of achievement. In all my days at the fair, I have never seen something without a ribbon. Every piece of crap gets a ribbon. Every child wins because the contest is rigged!

It should be an interesting Saturday....

Jul 20, 2006

texas here i come

Posted by Mary |

Found two people so far who are willing to share a hotel room in Fort Worth....
Booked the hotel room....
Registered for 9 of the workshops and the two shows....
Will book flight/find out options for Vegas....
Will start perfecting choreography for performance....
Will add Fort Worth to the list for my world tour T-shirts....

Jul 19, 2006

jumping through hoops

Posted by Mary |

I'm trying to figure out the best way to get from Fairbanks to Fort Worth for some workshops in January. Unfortunately, since they are in early January, it seems that I will be flying during a 'peak' time for the airlines. That means it will cost me 40,000 miles to fly there. I wonder if it's worth saving 20,000 miles to fly to Las Vegas, catch a connecting flight, then spend a night or two in Vegas on the way back? I can't get back-to-back flights back from Vegas, or I stray into the 40,000 mile territory again. Is an extra $350 worth the 20,000 miles? I think it might be...

Jul 18, 2006

baby's momma drama

Posted by Mary |

OK, no actual babies or mommas, I just like the rhyminess (totally a word) of the title. There is plenty of drama, though.

Let's start with the greater drama, which came in the form of a string of vicious e-mails unleashed over the weekend. To be fair, everyone has their own side to the story, but this is my blog, so you're going to hear my opinion, got it? It all started innocently enough with a dancer sending out a mass e-mail asking what other dancers thought were the qualifications of a Middle Eastern dance teacher. That's it - it was literally one sentence. That might have stayed innocent if she hadn't forwarded another e-mail precisely two minutes later that named the teacher she had an issue with and called her "nasty and unprofessional." To be fair, that was said by someone else, but she chose to forward the inflammatory statements on. The e-mail cycle continued, mostly with anger towards this teacher. (Shall I add fuel to the fire and point out that this is an attractive young teacher, whereas some of the e-mailers are of a more mature stage of life? Yes, I shall.) They mostly seemed to be upset that she didn't have enough of a background in bellydance, not to mention that she *gasp* runs a go go troupe. [sarcasm] Surely go go dancing is nothing more than stripping, so how dare she teach bellydance as well and bring down the stature of our amazing, powerful dance that is Sacred and grounds us to Mother Earth, allowing a greater bond with our Dance Sisters (not to mention causes irrAtionaL CapiTalizAtion)? [/sarcasm]

So clearly this got me dander up. Got me in a tizzy, if you will. And I finally chose to fire off a response. Did I mention that I wasn't included in the original e-mail loop? Don't feel bad for me; lots of people weren't included. Plus, even though I've danced with a troupe in Alaska for over two years, most of the other dancers still regard me as a child and speak to me accordingly. (Awwww, you did vewy good in your solo! Yes you did! Yes you did!) In my response I chose to address their issues with the teacher, pausing occasionally to educate them about what go go dancing is and query whether or not any of them had actually taken a class from the teacher in question. I might have also likened our dance community to a lunch table in junior high.

Well, as soon as I sent my e-mail I got a response from the original e-mailer that the question was about the qualifications, not about my personal opinion on the teacher. Um, yeah. That's why you forwarded an e-mail calling her nasty and unprofessional. I have two points to make:
1. Libel. Look it up. In that thing called the dictionary.
2. Spellcheck. Actually that goes for almost everyone who replied to the e-mails. (Even I am not immune, as my trembling, angry fingers misspelled one word. Unless we can all agree to go with "attck" from now on.)

Some dancers have sent me private notes thanking me for having the courage to rudely say what they were trying to nicely say. I wasn't friendly with a lot of the dancers before, so it's no skin off my nose. Others have replied that those who defend this teacher are merely sheep, fawning over someone who is a liar and a fraud. Well, to you I say Baaa! I took the stance I did because it was childish and wrong to engage in sneak attacks behind someone's back, not because the teacher is a friend of mine. In fact, if she had been the one to start the e-mail chain, I would have said the same things. It's all about the action, not the target.

And on a lesser note - my personal drama. Ever have a friendship that died? Let's not point fingers, as both of us were to blame, but the friendship has been good and dead for a while. In fact, neither of us has spoken to each other since December, even though we occasionally attend the same functions. Therefore it struck me as a bit odd when she started talking to me at a party on Sunday night. It's not that I harbor bad feelings about her or wish her ill, but the entire experience left quite a bad taste in my mouth. As James has said, "That ship has sailed. To Antarctica." But there we were, on opposite sides of the kitchen. Taken aback, I replied with my usual sarcasm, which probably just came across as bitchy. That happens a lot. But if she's reading this: I wasn't trying to give you a bitchy reply, I was just surprised that you spoke to me after 8 months of silence. Let's let sleeping dogs lie. Lay? Lie? Damn, I can't remember how that saying goes....

Jul 17, 2006

what i did with my weekend

Posted by Mary |

Lesson 1: It is possible, if properly inspired, to create a new choreography in about four hours.

Lesson 2: If you borrow a camcorder from the UAF library to attempt to videotape yourself performing said choreography, it is likely that they will give you a camcorder with a dead battery, thus forcing you to instead videotape yourself at home after the performance.

Lesson 3: Final Cut Pro is not as easy as the For Dummies book makes it out to be. Seriously.

Jul 13, 2006

my life is jinxed

Posted by Mary |

After a string of hot, sunny days, I finally made plans to go to the beach after work today with Susan G. So what do I wake up to? A cold, rainy day. Dammit, it's not supposed to get cold and rainy until August!

Trying to look on the bright side, we have made plans to go to Value Village and then drink some wine this afternoon. I'll also bring over my newest cd, "Shimmer Sustain" by Maduro, which has been rocking my world since I got it in the mail on Friday. It took me two days to figure out a new choreography to one of the songs, which I will perform at this Sunday's show at Pioneer Park.

Jul 12, 2006

bad run

Posted by Mary |

If there's one thing I truly love about Alaska, it's the summers. They make up for the cold dark winters, but all that daylight can set a pretty frantic pace. For example, today the sun rose around 3:30 a.m., and will set around midnight. This gives me plenty of time to get lots of things done, especially when I get to work by around 6:30. Skipping my lunch break means I'm free by around 2:30, leaving me plenty of free time in the afternoon.

Lately I've been trying to go running as soon as I come home from work, but yesterday I had an inexplicably crappy run. Not even my secret weapon (cheesy rap music - I'm currently loving "Shake that ass" by Eminem and Nate Dogg) could motivate me to continue running the gentle hills of the Doc John-Wecota loop. Instead of forcing the issue, I decided to just give up and walk. I'd try for another run today, but I've got a cooking class tonight. I'll try for another run tomorrow, but for today I'll just have to stick with yoga and dance.

Also topping my "to-do" list are choreographies and other dance business. This Sunday I'll be doing tribal fusion instead of cabaret at Pioneer Park, so I'm trying to whip out a quick new choreography. I got the new Maduro album "Shimmer Sustain" last week, and it has been rocking my world ever since. Spooky electronic rhythms interspersed with straight drumming - genius! My dance time will be cut short, however, as I'm headed down to Denali on Saturday to meet with Danielle and Amanda. We've got to work on two important things: the Anchorage/Fairbanks Haflaween showcases and planning next year's workshop. There goes my free time over the weekend. Oh well, maybe I'll get more free rafting out of it.

Jul 11, 2006


Posted by Mary |

It has come to my attention that I need to get the hell out of Alaska. To be more specific, I need to travel Outside (Yes, that is supposed to be capitalized. We have our very own AP Stylebook up here.) for a dance workshop. Or weekend festival. Or maybe even a week-long intensive. While the Denali Belly Bash in June was fantastic (lovely time spent with tribal fusion dancers....see the photo of Riz, Amanda and me above), I crave more. I want more tribal instruction, which I frankly can't get here. So I'm starting to plan my next trip to the Lower 48 (Again, the capitalization is correct.) to coincide with a workshop or festival. The problem is, which one do I choose?

Tribal Fusion Faire
pro: December in California, Rachel Brice, Kami Liddle, Rachel Brice, DaVid, Rachel Brice, Boom Boom Bollywood
con: it's this December (which isn't a whole lot of time to plan), I may act like a screaming groupie around Rachel Brice

Tribal Fest
pro: the granddaddy of them all, rural northern California location
con: no instructor list yet, rural northern California location

3rd Coast
pro: Houston in January, organized by Sahira, Sharon Kihara, Sharon Kihara
con: I don't think I know any couches to crash on in Houston, I may also act like a screaming groupie around Sharon Kihara

Spirit of the Tribes
pro: Desert Sin performed there last year - yum!
con: April in Florida? really?, no teacher list yet

Tribal Quest Northwest
pro: Portland is closer than the rest, I should be able to score a free couch somewhere
con: it's in August (which means waiting more than a year), no teacher list for 2007 yet (though 2006 features Elizabeth Strong, Suhaila Salimpour, Sam of Boom Boom Bollywood and Urban Gypsy [organizers of 3rd Coast])

Northern Migration
pro: Niagra Falls isn't far from my parents (using the Alaska sense of distance)
con: June date means I'd have to wait a year, no teacher list for 2007 (2006 had Frederique, Jill Parker and Unmata)

Some of these are happening later this year or early next year. Others wouldn't be until almost or more than a year from now. My decision may very well come down to whether or not any of the Anchorage dancers can come along for any of these workshops.

Jul 10, 2006

happy monday

Posted by Mary |

Watch the Hoff. Why? Because I said so!

Jul 6, 2006

mindless e-mail

Posted by Mary |

Sometimes when I clean up my Yahoo! e-mail, I find stuff that is too priceless to actually trash. I'd like to preserve the following e-mail exchange here on my blog. It's kind of an homage to my relationship with Tom.

From: Mary
To: Tom
Subject: don't freak out
OK, so Hope and I were just discussing weddings. And I was thinking, if we ever get married, can we rent out McDonald's and have Mayor McCheese officiate?

From: Tom
To: Mary
Sometimes "no" just isn't a strong enough word. Besides, I don't think Mayor McCheese actually has any legal authority, even in Playland.

From: Mary
To: Tom
It would be nice if you could be more supportive of the things that are important to me. It would help me feel that this partnership is a two-way street.

From: Tom
To: Mary
Fine, but Grimace will be my best man.

From: Mary
To: Tom
And Birdie shall be my maid of honor.

From: Tom
To: Mary
Grimace Crowe?

Grimace Crowe is a reference to our attempt to name Jen and Don's unborn baby.

Jul 5, 2006

give it a tri or give it a rest?

Posted by Mary |

The weather has, not surprisingly, been cold in Alaska this summer. Cold enough to make me wonder about entering the Chena Lakes Triathlon this weekend. Sure, I have a wetsuit, but a 2mm shorty is good for surfing and not much else. I just don't know if I'm up for a 500-yard open water swim (especially since I've been running more and swimming less lately. It has something to do with limited pool hours but unlimited daylight). In order to avoid the late entry fee, I need to decide in a few hours, because open registration is from 4-7 today.

I keep swinging back and forth. I could just go do it. I could post a bad time. I could enjoy the race. I've got no one to cheer me on from the sidelines. It's good practice for future triathlons. I could skip it and focus on my running and enter a few road races. I like multisports. I haven't been biking in a while. I had a good run yesterday. The water might be painfully cold. The weather might warm up before Sunday. It doesn't matter how fast I go. There could be lots of really competitive people there. So what's wrong with a little competition? I hate to lose.

You see what the voices in my head are saying?

Jul 4, 2006

patriotism hits a snag

Posted by Mary |

Dear Sir or Madam Who Is Setting Off Fireworks Somewhere In The Swamp Behind My Cabin,

Hurrah! It is, indeed, the Fourth of July. And patriotic sentiments are everywhere (as evidenced by the clerk in Old Navy who kept trying to sell me a flag T-shirt "because they're only $3" or some such crap). Now don't get me wrong. I, too, am patriotic. For instance, I loved Team America. Especially the unrated version. But fireworks? In Fairbanks? For the Fourth of July?

a) Most of the people in the rest of the United States think we're part of Canada.
b) It's the Fourth of July. In Fairbanks. Alaska. Don't you think those fireworks might be better saved for some celebration that occurs when it actually gets dark at night?


ps You're the person who's always firing his or her guns back there, aren't you?

Joey Chestnut, left, points to returning champion Takeru Kobayashi during the Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Competition Tuesday, July 4, 2006, in Coney Island, New York. Although Chestnut came close to beating the champion by eating 52 hot dogs, Kobayashi won his sixth straight title by beating his own record and eating 53 and 3/4 hot dogs.

Since my camera is currently riding around somewhere in North Dakota with Tom, I'll just have to make do with pictures of grown men gorging themselves silly in eating contests.

This weekend started off with a bang on Friday, when fellow indexer Hope rented a stretch Hummer limo (because who cares about mileage when gas is hovering near $3 a gallon?) and we hit the town for her bachelorette party. It may be the first time the Midnite Mine has ever had a limo parked out front. For some reason, three guys from the bar hopped into the limo with us, and we had trouble ditching them for a while. We finally shook them loose at Kodiak Jack's. Yes, it's true - I went to a country western bar. After an eventful ride home, I grabbed a few hours of sleep before heading off to dance rehearsal.

In the late afternoon, James called my cabin to see if I wanted to join him with some steaks at fellow blogger Super Smooth Andy-G's cabin. My parents didn't raise me to turn down a free rib eye, so I readily agreed. What followed next was several hours of orgiastic eating and, well, nothing. We met at the cabin, then decided to travel over to visit The Deekers and avail ourselves of his sauna. A mighty fine sauna it was, too, until someone threw a little too much eucalyptus on the rocks, and I had to run outside to breathe. Around that time we started firing up the grill, then stood around staring forlornly at it until we decided that rare was good enough because, dammit, we were hungry! Fully sated on steak, pie and ice cream, we went back to Andy-G's cabin. Around the same time, James and I realized that if stayed out any longer, we'd be sucked into an all-nighter. Since we're getting a little old for that, we high-tailed it out of there and back to the commune.

I awoke on Sunday and peered at my clock. It seemed to say 7:25, and I cursed getting only 6 hours of sleep. Then I realized it actually said 1:25, and spent some time trying to figure out if that was a.m. or p.m. until the realization dawned that I had just slept for 12 hours. I usually get by on about 6, so that was a good sign that the night before had wrecked me. A downpour forced the dance troupe to move our Sunday evening performance inside the Civic Center at Pioneer Park, where they had trouble figuring out the lights and sound system.

Monday was somewhat cloudy, but Amanda and I decided to brave it anyway, threw on our suits and headed for Chena Lakes. When faced with the beach full of kids or the alcohol-free but deserted beach, we made the smart choice: We took the empty beach but drank our beer regardless. The intermittent sun made me wish for a good warm day back in New England, lounging on a beach in Rhode Island. Instead, I listened to a little girl scream as she found a leech on her foot and got caught up on Amanda's life.

Today actually marks another day off for me, but I needed to catch up on some work at the office, so I popped in. I needed to get at a fast computer anyway. The new Johnny Cash album was begging to be downloaded.