Ramblings

Usually drunken.

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I’d rather be dancing ballroom

Mar 12, 2009, 10:37 am by Paul Stiverson

Last week at The Hall I realized that I am becoming increasingly frustrated with country-western dancing. I guess it isn’t specifically the dancing that I am bored with, but rather the (wait, let me get out my soapbox) relatively low quality of the average partner. There are, of course, some outstanding dancers to be found at The Hall, but they are the minority. I am usually fortunate to be surrounded by good partners, but on slow nights I find myself torn between my desire to dance, and my aversion to dancing with somebody who (a) is no good, and (b) has no desire to improve (either of the two is fine, but together it is a shitty combination).

Another infuriating aspect of C&W is the lack of dancing etiquette. There are a few simple rules that—when followed my everybody—make dancing much more pleasant, they prevent collision and reduce traffic-jams. However, folks at honky-tonks have no knowledge of these guidelines (or perhaps they know them but have no desire to follow them, either way the result is the same). These rules include: No standing on the dance-floor, slower moving couples should stay to the inside of the dance-floor allowing faster moving couples to pass by, avoid stopping (for floor moves or otherwise) in a choked area of the dance-floor, don’t attempt lifts when another couple is in striking distance, and remain vigilant of other couples so as to avoid collisions.

The Hall has also made a deliberate shift in their musical selection, this move toward Nashville Country is infuriating. The management claims it is good for business, but I don’t see how selling out your regulars and becoming exactly like your competition is a good thing.

There is no denying that there are bad dancers and people with poor etiquette at ballroom dances as well. However there is adequate social pressure to correct the etiquette problems, and it is easier to recognize good dancers.

I will continue to dance C&W because it is fun and I still enjoy the different social aspects of a honky-tonk, but there are several things that I would change given the opportunity.

Sweeney Todd

Oct 30, 2008, 12:38 pm by Paul Stiverson

My FriendsLast night I had the great pleasure of watching a stage production of Sweeney Todd. My dance partner, Natalie, was kind enough to join me for what was an amazing performance—as well as an amazing interpretation of the musical. The entire cast was on stage for the whole show, and on top of singing and arranging the stage props, they were playing. All the actors were quite competent on at least one of the many instruments found on stage: Violin, Cello, Contrabass, Guitar, Flute, Clarinet, Trumpet, Baritone, Accordion, Piano, and a battery of percussion instruments (including a well used Triangle).

The company used a black wooden coffin as their primary prop, arranging it in every imaginable way to set scenes throughout the show. Chairs, and a ladder were used to allow the actors to elevate themselves over the stage as necessary. As cast members were killed off, they (being a vital part of the musical ensemble) couldn’t leave the stage, instead they donned bloodstained barber shirts and haunted the stage. The cast also made clever use of flashlights to indicate important movements, like that of the key to Johanna’s room moving from Judge Terpin to Anthony. There were some technical blunders in the show, a few microphone wires out of place (and Sweeney’s guitar mic fell off), but ultimately a grand performance.

The one shortcoming—for me at least—was the actor’s dancing. Briefly, during one of the numbers, Sweeney and Ms. Lovett waltz on stage, granted that the song was rather quick, and the footwear was less than desirable for the conditions; the waltzing was abysmal. I was entirely drawn into Johanna’s performance, when she was “offstage” (not at the forefront of a scene) she would affix her eyes to a point in the audience and wail on her cello, it was really creepy. Toby’s performance was also quite good, he was very Gollum-like in the way he would slink around the stage and reach out to the other characters.

If you think you are having déjà vu, relax, I have made a post about Sweeney Todd before (bitching about Johnny Depp’s ignorance of barbering procedure).

Chapter 1: WTF Wednesday

Sep 22, 2008, 9:56 am by Trey

WTF Wednesday batt advertToday is Wednesday September 17th. My emotions are basically riding the batman roller coaster and have been all week. As of now however they are in the apex of the tightest and most intense length of track. Tomorrow is Thursday, the day before the day I have been waiting for my entire life, no exaggeration. Good bull. Tomorrow is Thursday, the night I have dedicated to drinking and 'shooting the shit' with some of my close friends. Good bull. Tomorrow is Thursday, and I have a test in one of my online classes (bad idea btw) around 11:00am. Bad bull. But it is Wednesday, WTF Wednesday to be exact (so says the texas hall of fame), and I am waiting for jenny to come and pick me up to go for a night of drinking, dancing, and pool at our beloved honky tonk.
The night was a different kind of fun than I am used to while attending any kind of event at the hall; it was incredibly relaxing. They did however, both fortunately and unfortunately, kick us out around midnight because we accounted for 2 of the 7 people in the entire place.

Finally Home

Aug 22, 2008, 12:35 pm by Paul Stiverson

Well I’m finally back from California, I’ve been in Texas since late Sunday night, but I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to make a post about it until I really got home. Last night was Thursday and—as usual—we went to the hall. The very minute I walked in there and saw all my friends all the homesickness I had been feeling went right away.

There were a few changes at the hall, first they did some remodeling in the shadow box area (both sides have been done now). Next, they hired a new DJ, the old DJ, Ron, is now the manager. At first I thought the new DJ was going to be a problem—he was playing a bit more Nashville country than I would have liked—but when I approached him with my concerns he was receptive and fixed the problem. He also played an impressive number of waltzes which is an entirely welcome change. They are also taking out the platform at the center of the dancefloor, good riddance as far as I’m concerned, I hate all the showboating bullshit that goes on up there. However it was quite helpful to have the raised platform for dance lessons, oh well. Overall it was a pretty awesome night though, good to see the old crew (sans John).

Mark’s Wedding

Aug 11, 2008, 11:20 am by Paul Stiverson

This past weekend I travelled to Dallas for Mark’s (a fellow contributor to this bloog) wedding, and boy howdy, it was a blast.

The Rehearsal Dinner

Everybody meets up at the church and we proceed to have a pretty elaborate rehearsal for the wedding… rather than just remember where we were supposed to stand we put pins in the carpet to mark our locations. The planner did a really great job at being prepared, but sometimes it is best to just step back and let the magic happen. On an interesting side-note, I got matched up with the best looking bridesmaid. One thing that struck me as kinda odd was that the bride didn’t participate in the rehearsal at all, she was there, but she just sat there in the pew. Apparently the planner wanted her to shoot from the hip on the big day. Anyway, after the rehearsal we all went to dinner at a ridiculous restaurant in Dallas (I can’t remember the name, Mark?). We get there and the first thing they do is start pouring us some pretty damn tasty wine, so far so good. The food they delivered was abso-fucking-lutely amazing, but unfortunately I was seated across the table from one of the less good looking bridesmaids (thanks Mark). Then came the gift giving part. Mark had everybody in the room leaking like a sieve with his emotionally charged descriptions of his relationship with everybody in the room (thanks Mark).

Post Rehearsal Dinner Drunkfest

After the rehearsal dinner we all retired to the hotel (which Mark’s parents were gracious enough to provide for us) and promptly got fucked up and retold some old corps stories. The fellow with whom I was sharing a room ended up getting a little too drunk though, and the night ended with him wandering around the room naked looking for his cellphone/underwear (well it really ended with me leaving the room after he started vomiting, but that isn’t as funny as the drunken nakedness).

Pre-Wedding Shenanigans

About an hour and fifteen minutes before we were supposed to be at the church (for preparations and pictures and shit) we decided to make a trip down to the amusement center which was conveniently located directly adjacent to the hotel to ride some go-carts. I have to admit that I wasn’t too keen on the plan, but I went so as not to be a wet-blanket. This was the right decision, I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun. Needless to say we were all about 15 minutes late to the church, and the groom was about 30 minutes late; no biggie.

Wedding Boringness

Once we are all there and dressed we commence the waiting around part of the day. We all sat around for at least 30 minutes waiting for the photographer to show up, and after the elderly couple with the camera and weird umbrella thing showed up we all wanted to kill them. They were easily the most irritating people within a two-mile radius.

The wedding went off without a hitch; credit should go to the thorough preparation by the wedding planner I’m sure.

Immediately after the wedding there were more pictures to be taken. If I had a crowbar I would have taken to each of those camera toting dorks with a fury that cannot be adequately described.

Reception

The reception was pretty awesome (I submit that Jim and Jamie’s was still awesomer but that is neither here nor there). At one point the DJ brought the entire wedding party out on the dance floor to do a wedding party dance, this was the definition of a poorly executed great idea. First problem, the dance floor was about two sizes too small for the number of people on it. Second problem, the song that was selected was entirely too fast (3rd gear and seventeen, but Aaron Watson). Third problem, I’m a natural showoff. Those three things equal my dance parter and me in a compromising position on the ground, goddamn I’m a loose cannon sometimes. Oh well, nobody got hurt, but it did so happen that the cameraman got the whole incident on film (thanks Mark, I expect you to edit that out (and put it on youtube or some shit)).

Those who know me best are aware that I love to waltz, this being the case I bugged the crap out of Mark (before the wedding) to make sure that the DJ played some waltzes, and then I bugged the crap out of the DJ to play some waltzes. Unfortunately only one waltz was played, and it was only for the married couples. I asked the DJ to spin another and he said, “Sure thing chief, the next song will be a waltz”. As it happened the next song was “The Chair”, by George Strait; at the time I thought, hmm not a waltz, but a good song never-the-less. I went back and bugged the DJ, “I though you were going to play a waltz”, the person behind the booth replied “‘The Chair’ is a waltz”. I was once again reaching for my crowbar. A lesson for the rest of you: when hiring a DJ bring along a boom-box and ask them to classify a few songs by the type of dance that is to be done to them, if they can’t determine what a waltz is then hire somebody else. This wasn’t a huge deal, but I didn’t get to waltz with Mandy or Mallory.

Post Reception Drunkfest

After the reception we all retired to the hotel once again, and we got drunk(er) once again; but this time we had some intelligence and we went back to the go-carts, it was slightly less fun this time because the place was a bit more crowded, but still pretty damn fun.

Tuesday Night Dance

Jun 18, 2008, 12:19 pm by Paul Stiverson

I found out that there are dance lessons here (on base) every Tuesday from 5–9 which is pretty sweet, This month they were doing the Society Tempo Two-step—which is really quite different from the C&W two-step that most of the readers are familiar with. I came in a bit late on the lessons (like 2 weeks late) but was able to keep up with the class, and I feel quite comfortable doing the dance. After about two hours of two-step we moved on to a crazy salsa-square dance hybrid—called La Rueda—that was really quite fun. Everybody forms a big circle and there is a dude calling out steps to perform and ever so often all the leaders move to the next follower in the circle.

I’ve never been a big fan of salsa dance, but I think I could get into it, it was pretty enjoyable; also it might give me a way to dance to the hip-hop music they play at The Hall.

Alright, lets do a little TAAS review, this is an analogy that is quite fitting, “mexicans:Texas::asians:the bay area”. I’ve mentioned it in a previous post, but I hadn’t realized the degree to which this holds.

Trip Itinerary, a retrospect.

May 26, 2008, 1:46 am by Paul Stiverson

On Thursday I took a short lunch and took off from work a little early, I went back to the dorm and packed all the stuff I had set out into my backpack, grabbed my book, and was southbound on the 101 by 5:15. Unfortunately I was on the 101 at 5:15 which meant I was mostly sitting still; it took over an hour to drive the 30 miles required to make it to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). Now my flight to DFW was scheduled to leave at 7:10, so I was a bit nervous while navigating the labyrinth of overpasses leading into the airport but finally found a parking space in section E22 and after hastily grabbing my backpack, shoes, and book I started running (that’s right, running) to the check-in desk. I made it to the check in desk by 6:30 and thankfully there was no line, not even a hint of a line… I was the only person. I got my boarding pass and head to security—there were a few people in the security line, but no worries it seemed to be moving pretty quickly and my flight hadn’t even started boarding yet. About the time I took off my shoes and tossed them in the grey bucket/tray thing I realize that I had left my book (Dreams From My Father) setting at the checkout line. I thought it would be a terrible tragedy to miss my flight on account of a paperback (no matter how engaging it is) so I chalked it up as a loss. I get chosen for a random security check, thankfully I left my bomb in my other backpack… close call. I throw my shoes back on (I didn’t bother to tie them) and head for my gate, stopping briefly on the way to see if the newsstand has any interesting books. After looking at the shelf full of Dean Koontz novels I decide that I can make the 3 hour flight without a book.

After boarding the plane I met a lovely young couple who were flying home to visit their families. The two were from Dallas, but had been living in the Bay Area for a few years. Really nice folks. The flight went smoothly—we left, and arrived on time. Mark was waiting for me, and we proceeded back to his house for the night.

In the morning we all got up and started getting our shit together for the drive to Bellville. I asked if we could stop on the way at a bookstore so I could pick up a new copy of Dreams From My Father, Mark obliged. The trip went smoothly, putting us in Bellville and at the church with enough time to change before the rehearsal dinner got underway. At the rehearsal I got to meet the bride’s two little brothers—who were serving as junior groomsmen—good kids. The rehearsal dinner itself was quite nice, we had mexican food which was quite delicious. Also, Andrew, the groom, presented us with our Groomsmen gifts, a slick Kershaw knife, which I had to leave in Texas because I wasn’t going to check any luggage on the return flight. During the dinner I was reminded of a story which I then told, and will eventually share here—“The Beanhole”. After the rehearsal dinner many of us retired to the hotel in Brenham to share a few beers and many laughs, Steven was kind enough to open his room to me for the night.

The day of the wedding we all congregated at the church to get ready, we took some pictures before everything got underway. Then the big moment was upon us. The bride’s mother misplaced the groom’s ring so we had to stall for a minute, the ring was eventually found, but not until after the ceremony—another groomsman volunteered his for the actual exchange.

At the reception I got to see most of my fish buddies, including one who had recently gotten back from Korea. Jenny was kind enough to make the trip down to be my date. Dancing ensued. After the reception I retired to The Woodlands with Mark and company to bed down for the night.

The following afternoon (today, mind you), Mark’s mom gave me a ride to Bush Intercontinental for my connecting flight to DFW. About halfway to IAH I realized that I had left my book (Dreams From My Father) sitting on her counter, I declined her invitation to turn around and get it, deciding that Mark could mail it to me along with my knife. I entered IAH at approximately 12:40 with plenty of time to catch my 2:05 flight, I knew little of the ordeal that awaited me on the other side of that security station. I stopped at a book shop in IAH and bought a book, Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk, then made my way to the gate in time to find that my flight had been delayed by half an hour. Eventually we board and make our way to DFW, a short flight. In DFW I check the departure screen to see that my intended connection is in the final stages or boarding, and in a different terminal; I make my way to the skylink and head toward gate D22 (from C18). Upon arrival I find that I have missed flight 39 and must try to board another flight. I make my way to gate A13 where I am able to get a ticket for the next outgoing flight. The plane that I should be boarding arrives and the passengers disembark, we all start to line up for the ensuing boarding frenzy, but are told that boarding will be delayed for mechanical reasons. We all take our seats. About an hour later the flight attendant comes back on the line and tells us that the flight has been cancelled, but not to worry, there are other flights leaving town and we will all have a place on one of them. After four hours in DFW I am finally boarding a plane to SFO where I will find that my book has disappeared into somebody else’s possession (not in the lost and found) and that I had parked in short term parking, I payed the $113 to get my car out of hawk and drove back to the dorm in the cold and uninviting 55º California night.

Unfied theory of girls and dance

May 19, 2008, 9:08 am by Paul Stiverson

In my ramblings I haver regularly talked about dancing, and today Thinkin’ Lincoln followed my lead. I have been of the opinion for some time that every girl (ever) loves to dance, no matter how bad they are at it. There are some who say, “Ugh, I hate dancing,” but they are simply covering up for the fact that they have never done it. Also, when a girl gets it in her head that she wants to dance, there is no avoiding it… you will be dancing by the end of the night or you will find yourself dateless. This doesn’t happen to be a problem for me because I’m always up for dancing (given the proper venue), but for some fellows I can see this as being an issue.

Dance Dance Revolution (part 2)

May 17, 2008, 1:57 am by Paul Stiverson

So the title of the previous post was some sort of crazy omen/prediction because there were a shitload of asian folks there, like well over 60%, then again I was pretty much in Silicon Valley so I don’t know why I was so surprised. The cover was $12, but it wasn’t really a bar per se because they didn’t serve alcohol, so I guess it is alright that the cover is high. The DJ left something to be desired… he didn’t have much personality, and the selection of music was pretty mundane; he did do one thing that was really nice though, he had a big board behind him where he posted what type of songs were coming up so you would know that the next song was going to be a waltz and two songs after that would be a tango (I might try to get that implemented at The Hall). The dance floor was large and well maintained, actually there were two dance floors, one for dancing and one for practicing. It was really funny to see all the tiny asian dudes dancing alone in front of a mirror, I’m only used to seeing one asian dude dancing funny.

The dancers left something to be desired, a majority of the ladies didn’t maintain a proper frame which makes the dances look sloppy. Although, there were a few really stand out dancers there, I’m thinking that the dance instructors (the place is actually a dance studio that holds dances on the weekend, so the instructors are copious) aren’t doing there jobs correctly. Altogether a pretty enjoyable night.

I miss my dance partners.

Dance Dance Revolution

May 16, 2008, 10:43 pm by Paul Stiverson

Last night was the first Thursday—apart from those adjacent to a major holiday—that I have not gone out dancing in some time. This upset me to a degree that I don’t expect many of you to understand. However I am overjoyed to say that I have found a place to go dance, the Starlite Dance Club; although it isn’t the type of dancing I typically do on a weekly basis it should be good enough to hold me over. I’ll still be on the lookout for a honky-tonk where I can drink a beer though.

I leave you with a Doug Moreland lyric:

I know I’ll never be homeless
long as there honky-tonk somewhere

Dance Partners

May 9, 2008, 3:57 am by Paul Stiverson

About a year ago there was this gal, Liz, who would hang out at my bar. Every night she would dance with me to “The Road Goes on Forever” which is a notoriously long and fast song. While she wasn’t my first choice of people to dance with I didn’t mind dancing with her because she was reliable… I could count on her being there so it was important to keep a working friendship. Lately, however, her attendance on Thursday nights has been sparse—I know I’ll come off sounding terrible here—and as a result I don’t feel compelled to save her a dance. If you aren’t that good of a dancer and you aren’t reliable then you should be totally prepared to sit on the sidelines (as far as I’m concerned), because there are plenty of girls who do come out every week and who are better dancers.

Exchange of the night:
Me: Mallory, you are a habitual line stepper
Mallory: My friends call me bold
Kellan: I bowled a 220 last night

Old Couples

May 4, 2008, 1:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

At the Hall last night there was a couple of old fogies—probably in their 70s—who where just dancing and having a good time. It makes me really happy to see old married couples who are staying active and still enjoying one another, still sharing a passion that they surely shared early in their relationship. I look forward to having those days.

Yesterday

Apr 15, 2008, 11:56 am by Paul Stiverson

Last night I started Tango lessons; the tango is an awesome looking dance, and it is shaping up to be a really fun dance too. Also, I went to my second family dinner which a weekly dinner that some friends of mine put on so everybody can get a good home-cooked meal and enjoy everybody else’s company. Toward the end of the night a political/energy policy discussion broke out, and—as usual—I was the only donkey in the room, but it was a productive discussion never-the-less.

In the afternoon I finished reading the last two chapters of The Audacity of Hope, and for the first time I was interested enough to read an epilogue. I was truly upset to be at the end of the book, I might need to buy Dreams from My Father to get some more Barack.

Old People Parties «part deux»

Apr 5, 2008, 9:07 am by Paul Stiverson

Last night I went to the B/CS Dinner and Dance Club’s monthly dinner and dance party. It was a freaking blast, the food was delicious, the people were all quite nice, and the music was spectacular.

Dinner started promptly at 7—we had smoked turkey. The dancing started at 7:30—the DJ was awesome, he had a trunk full of hats and wigs that he would put on to go with the song; excellent stage presence. The music was a great mix of Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha-cha, Swing, Polka, and Tango—this was my first proper ballroom dance. Since it was a dinner dance club it was patronized by quite a few older couples, Natalie and I were the youngest people in attendance by at least 8 years. All together a really great time.

Visitation hours are over

Feb 26, 2008, 5:50 pm by Paul Stiverson

My good friend from undergrad came into town last night, we had dinner at Haiku, it was a good time. I also started Waltz and Foxtrot 2 last night; I missed the first week so I had some catching up to do, but I kept up like a champ.

Attn: Ladies

Feb 4, 2008, 9:32 am by Paul Stiverson

If you are not single you should not go to dance lessons alone. :mad:

Being a TA is fun

Nov 15, 2007, 3:14 pm by Paul Stiverson

It is really cool to be a TA, you have no real responsibility, the students who come to your office hours think you are awesome if you are even the least bit helpful, and you really only need to know how to solve the three hardest problems in any section. Everybody should be a TA for a while. The only downside is grading. Grading is the worst activity ever conceived by man.

On an unrelated note: I’m really excited about going dancing tonight; I just got my boots back from the cobbler (a shoe maker/repairer, not dessert), so I’ve got new soles and heels. It should be fun to slide again.

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