Dream, Dream, Dream

I have been having some strange, vivid dreams recently.

I had one where I was in Cleveland - a city I've never been to - and I was trying to find my way to a restaurant where I was going to be meeting someone important, but I couldn't find it. I kept walking all over the city, and going through some scary neighborhoods, all dressed up in fancy clothes, and finally I decided I had to get on a boat to see the outside of the city to figure out how to get to the place I needed to be. In my dream, Cleveland was a peninsula jutting out into the water, so I could take the boat all the way around the city to figure out the best way to get to the restaurant. I remember feeling very happy in my dream that I was getting a lot of exercise with all the walking.

This weekend, I dreamed I was singing at church (and in classic dream logic, it was the church I usually sing at, but didn't look anything like the church I usually sing at), and one of my co-workers (not even someone I'm close to) came and called me into the lobby of the church, which was vast and cold. He told me he was embarrassed because he ran out of boxers and had to wear briefs - which he showed me - and somehow we both knew that because he was wearing briefs, his soul was now more vulnerable to being taken by demons. We were standing in the lobby, and there were these cave-like hallways, and I could hear something calling his name from one of them, so I looked down, and there was some kind of specter calling him. I told him to please stick close to me, that I would protect him. So we go into the service, and I notice that he's got this pained, worried look on his face, and then he slowly slips out of the pew. I follow him into the lobby, and now, it's snowing inside the lobby - it's beautiful, the place looks like St. John the Divine, this vast empty stone space with snow falling in it. My co-workers is inching towards the cave/hall with the demon in it, and I can hear it's calling his name. My co-worker is saying "he really needs me" in a child-like voice, and so I take his hand and we go outside. Outside, it's spring, it's warm, and we sit in the grass until I can see he's back to normal.



This semester (my last semester at MCC!!!!), I'm taking Biology, Algebra and Guitar. Biology has become sort of all-consuming. I have a Bio lecture every Monday and Wednesday, and a Bio lab on Tuesday, which equals 5.4 hours of Bio class every week, plus homework and a quiz before every lab. My teacher is a very nice woman, but not the greatest or most scintillating teacher. This is my youngest class, by far. There is one other person in the class who is my age cohort, everyone else is between 17-22. I'm dreading class today because we're having someone from the college come to give a presentation on e-tutoring. But attendance is part of the grade, so I'll be there making grocery shopping lists in my head.

I have Algebra on Saturday morning, from 9-12:20. I have struggled with math since division was introduced, but suddenly, I'm getting it. This math teacher is the best math teacher I've ever had. I'm doing very well in the class, and I expect that to continue. Plenty of homework, but it's not overwhelming, and since we only meet once a week I'm finding it less difficult to fit the homework into my schedule.

Guitar is fun and I'm making progress, but I get so confused in class sometimes. The teacher is not a native English speaker, and he is clearly exhausted by the time he walks in the door, so he loses focus and changes direction all the time. He'll ask us to play something and then stop us a few minutes into the piece to talk about something else. He is also disorganized, which is a quality I've come to loathe in teachers.



My last semester at MCC started on 8/29. Yes, I will be leaving the hallowed halls of this community college after I graduate in December. This semester, I'm taking Biology, Algebra and Guitar. And I know you will all be jealous when I share that my Algebra class is Saturday morning from 9-12:20.

I have 2 Bio lectures and 1 Bio lab every week - Mon, Tues, Wed. The lecture is an hour and 20 minutes, the lab is just about 3 hours. My teacher is nice, and I like her, but she is unfortunately not a very good teacher. She lacks confidence, and all of us in the class know it. It's not a good situation, and if people start doing poorly on quizzes and other work, there could be a mutiny.

I don't start Algebra until this weekend. I am alternately dreading it and trying to improve my attitude at the same time.

I had my first guitar class Monday night, and I LOVE the teacher. English is not his first language, but he has a wonderful vocabulary, and I found myself delighted by some of his word choices as he was teaching our first class. We learned the strings, their names, how to read tabs, how to play Hot Cross Buns, a 12 bar blues riff, and some ways to fancy up the 12 bar blues riff. The class is officially Monday nights from 7-9:50, but he's subdivided us into beginners and more experienced players (I'm a beginner).

I got a guitar for the class - nothing too fancy, a Yamaha something-or-other. She is so pretty, and I'm thinking about naming her, although I'm not sure what I'm going to call her. I love her!



This show is like a bag of chips (or pretzels, or whatever bag of snacks you can't just have one of). I can't watch just one episode, I get sucked in to watching as many episodes as they run. If I stay long enough to see the four starting competitors open their baskets, that's it, I'm done. I have to watch until the end. What are they going to do with that huitlacoche? How will they incorporate cough drops into a lamb entree? It makes me wish I could be a little more free to experiment in the kitchen.


So You Think You Can Dance?

Since I'm talking about the TV show, you don't have to answer. I have been watching SYTYCD since mid-way through season 2. I have some issues with the show - Nigel Lythgoe is a gross ogler of young ladies and seems slightly homophobic, the judging often focuses on the wrong things (I don't care if the costume is terrible, the dancers don't pick their own), and sometimes the choreography just sucks ass (Tyce DiOrio), but I can't get enough of non-celebrity related dance programs.

(Sidebar: I have always wanted to be a dancer. My parents were instructed to put me in ballet after I had osteotomy surgery to help strengthen my leg and core muscles and keep my flexibility going, but they didn't. Instead, I took Irish step dancing, which I adored, but the lessons were too far away from our house, so my mom stopped taking us. As an adult, I did lots of musical theater and I even had a featured dance solo in a production of "Chess" because the choreographer loved me. I worked hard, but with a body as messed up as mine is, dancing isn't really in the cards. But I love to watch dancers, I have never been to a recital or dance show where I didn't cry - there is something about the pairing of music and movement that moves me.)

I watched the audition shows sort of half-heartedly. It's almost a waste of time, because half the dancers they pick for the program aren't featured during the auditions (usually), and you often see as much of the judges reaction (which I don't care about) than you do the solos. But last night was the first time we would meet the top 20, and since there are dance routines involved, I'm there.

The first four in the top 20 are Alexa, Amber, Will and George. I will come out and say that George is my early favorite - the boy was born to dance, and his joy at dancing comes through in his movement and his face. Seriously, his face while he dances is just dreamy. The choregraphy is Tyce Diorio, so, it's okay, but not great. Will is a giant. Everyone does a fine job.

The next three are two blonde ballroom girls from Utah, Whitney and Lindsey, and Nick, a brown haired ballroom guy from Utah (the Mormons are trying to corner the market on ballroom dancers, I think).  Jason Gilkison choreographs a ballroom menage a trois, and it is fiery and excellent, although poor Nick gets lost a little because it's hard to not look at the girls, Whitney in particular, who is demanding that you look at her, because she is awesome.

Next is Eliana, Daniel and Chehon. Eliana was an aerialist with Cirque de Soleis, and her legs are magic. Daniel wanted to move from Australia to the US and found out that you could do that if you did ballet, so he did - he seems really pragmatic from what I've seen of him just fare and way less emotional than many of the other folks. Chehon is a beautiful ballet dancer from Switzerland. His leaps are insane. He is about 20 seconds away from actually being able to take flight.  They do a very stylized and modern ballet piece, with all the strength and beauty that ballet contains. The costume they put Eliana in has actually injured both of her partners, but it was glorious, although I am worried that the floor is not good for pointe - I think Eliana was holding back a little. The routine was choreographed by Desmond Richardson and Dwight Roden, who are serious business in the ballet world.

The next routine was supposed to include three tiny dancers, Audrey, Tiffany and Janelle. Janelle is a belly dancer who (from what I saw of her in Vegas week) did well with other styles. Janelle, however, is ill and a doctor has instructed her to sit out this week. So tiny and indistinguishable Tiffany and Audrey get a Sonya Tayeh routine. I love Sonya Tayeh's work - I know it's instantly recognizable, but I find that a plus, not a minus. You would instantly recognize a Bob Fosse piece, too. She has a vocabulary of strength that I love. These girls are pulling it off, but they are so tiny it makes it look like they are the best girls at a high school dance recital.

The next routine includes Matthew, who is a cute contemporary dancer, Dareian, who is a tiny man with clunky feet but a gorgeous dancer is every other respect, Amelia, who is a little over-affected but clearly has the dancing chops to back it up, and Jenaya, who I don't know anything about. It's a contemporary choreographed by Stacy Tookey, and it's very sweet and it's hard to not look at Amelia because she is the whitest person on the planet. Her skin is so white it appears blue on stage.

Next routine is made up of the last three guys: Brandon, who is a stepper, Cyrus, an animator, and Cole, a martial artist. Of those three styles, I only recognized stepping as a dance style, but Cyrus has one of these personalities that goes on for days, Cole is just beautiful, and Brandon is big and strong. Christopher Scott choreographs a baseball themed routine where they each get a moment or two to shine. Cyrus doesn't shine quite as much, because outside of his style, he has some issues, but it's a fair introduction.

The top 10 girls dance a dreamy piece choreographed by Travis Wall (he's an asshole, but at least he's a good choreographer); it's really lovely and the girls work so well together.

The top 10 guys get Sonya Tayeh, and I love this one. So strong. The stand-outs for me in this one were George, Cole and Will.

The last routine is choreographed by the returning Mia Michaels (again, she's an asshole, but she can be an incredible choreographer). This piece is good, with a lot of the emotional heft that her choreos provide, although it was hard to see everything because it was so dark and my TV is so old. I think Alexa was the standout in this one, and that's good if she can stand out against 20 people who are all doing the same movement.


Moonrise Kingdom

Sam Shkusky is an orphan and a Khaki Scout. His troop is attending a performance of Benjamin Britten's "Noye's Fludde" (foreshadowing!) when his restlessness gets the better of him and he gets up and wanders through the building, eventually ending up in the girl's dressing room, where he locks eyes with Suzy Bishop. Before he is returned to his seat by his troop, she slips him her address and asks him to write. They do, for a year, and Sam plans an escape. He asks her to join him. She does, bringing everything a girl needs when running away - a suitcase full of books and a battery operated record player. His Scout Master and her parents find out they are missing and the search begins while a hurricane brews off the coast.

The kids who play Sam and Suzy are played as if they were children imagining they are adults. They end up in a cove where Sam pitches camp. They swim and dance and share a first kiss. They are in love in the way only young people seem to be able to be in love - the rest of the world doesn't exist for them. The actor who plays Sam (Jared Gilman) is a little mush-mouthed, but he exudes a confidence that he can handle any problems that come their way - unless it involves swimming, because he's not a very strong swimmer. Suzy (Kara Hayward) looks at the world through her binoculars, but when she puts them down, she has a thousand yard stare that it would be unsettling to be at the other end of.

Standout performances in the movie are from Ed Norton as Scout Master Ward and Bruce Willis as the police chief. They both are sensitive and subtle and sad, but are redeemed in the end. 

The music of the movie is mainly classical - excerpts from Britten's Noye's Fludde and Midsummer Night's Dream, selections from A Young Person's Guide to the Symphony, with a little mid-60's French pop music as well as a good helping of Hank Williams.

I've been a fan of Wes Anderson since Bottle Rocket. While his movies are criticized for being twee and precious, I think despite the artificiality of the worlds that he creates, there is genuine emotion and feeling present. This movie has the look and feel of childhood remembered - there is a washed-out, Instagram quality to the picture. The story takes place on and island off the coast of New England, and the characters at the start of movie are all islands unto themselves. Suzy has a violent streak; Sam just doesn't fit in (although when it comes down to it, no one can quite figure out why they don't like him, although I suspect it's because he doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks of him). Suzy's mother is disconnected from her family - she calls the kids to meals with an airhorn - but has some kind of sad affair going on with the police chief; the police chief put his love life on hold for the woman he loved who married another, and lives a sad and lonely life; Suzy's father seems to suffer from ennui as he lazes around the house reading books. By the end of the movie, connections are made, bridges between these islands that won't be washed out by any flood.


Long time no write

It's been almost a year since I last posted. I am planning an overhaul of this blog, to focus on a few things instead of just random posting. I will be focusing on the subject of going back to school after a long hiatus (which includes the subject of being in school and working full-time); on television, movie and music reviews; and there will inevitably be some political posts.

So all my non-existent readers can look forward to changes soon. The first thing I'm going to talk about after the updates: Moonrise Kingdom.