Saturday, June 30, 2007

Midwestern, down-home and comfortable

You may have noticed by now that I haven't commented on So You Think You Can Dance this week, with predictions, affirmations or lamentations. It's because I haven't watched either show yet, so Shh! Don't tell me what happened. It's waiting for me--with, I hear, some face-rocking Wade Robson genius--in my Tivo, and I'll watch it when I get home from Austin.

Oh, yeah: I'm in Austin, TX. Howdy y'all! Austin is RAD. Wait, that's not the right complimentary adjective. Let me tell you what it's like, and you can help me come up with one.

Austin is lush and green and beautiful. When you fly in and look out your window, you see rolling countryside blanketed in trees, buffeting the twists and turns of the Colorado River. Stepping outside on a late June day feels hot and humid, but it's not overpowering--this is what summer should feel like. The neighborhoods are each unique, the houses are darling and situated on plots of green grass next to tall leafy trees. The occasional rope swing dangles from the front yard. It immediately feels Midwestern, down-home and comfortable. But with guitar sculptures. Austin fits like an old pair of Levis. I like it here.

So far, we've checked out a bit of SoCo, where I bought a birthday present for my sister at one of many groovy boutiques. We ate dinner at Guero's Taco Bar where I had my first taste of Real Queso (Texans are particular), and it was delicious. After a long day of travel we capped off the night early with some beers & conversation poolside at The Hotel San Jose.

Yesterday we lunched at the Whole Foods Flagship store before checking out the new Die Hard at the Alamo Drafthouse. Of course, Mac and I and the friends we're staying with all had to work at some point in the day, but we managed to squeeze a Sno Beach break into the late afternoon. For dinner we inhaled some Texas BBQ at Rudy's, followed by Mexican Martinis at Trudy's.

If you haven't figured out by now: you can totally eat your way through this city, and well. And cheap. This morning I got stuffed with deliciousness for about $4 at El Chilito. Breakfast tacos: come to Austin to see what all the fuss is about. They really are that good. Also proving to be fun and productive, is the shopping.

Still on The List: bats at sunset. Fireflies (I miss them). Maybe a chill hike at some point to walk off all the delicious food we've eaten, and have yet to enjoy. Not to mention a long list of recommendations from all my Texan friends. We have a day and a half left, and many more opportunities to come back.

And after all that, I still can't think of anything else, so I guess I'll have to stick with my initial assertion: Austin is RAD.

Monday, June 25, 2007

I will know for sure

Sometimes I'm awesome. Why? Because my iTunes is set up so that when I'm done listening to some chill Rufus Wainwright while working working working, I will know for sure that I am done when Run D.M.C. show up and announce,


It's also almost 8pm. That's right, boys. It IS tricky to rock a rhyme that's right on time. It's also time to stop working, get out of my chair, and shake my ass a little.

Monday's cold, black heart

My friend Sam sent me this over the weekend. Just a little something to melt Monday's cold, black heart.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I didn't get it

Well get me a donut, a Star Wars t-shirt 3 sizes too small, and my own comic shop, because I am officially becoming Comic Book Guy over this show. By the time they'd gone through the first 3 couples, I was already shaking my head and muttering: Worst. Decision. Ever.

It's not that I care that I'm wrong. It's that Hok and Jaimie were weak, and Pasha and Jessi were awesome. And yet, the weak are safe and the strong are in danger of leaving. Are the people watching this show idiots? Seriously.

Sabra and Dominic were also safe, which surprised me as much as it made me happy. I mean, I think they're both great dancers, I'm just surprised they inspired people enough to vote.

(At this point you may have realized I'm just recapping the show. Get over it. I have.)

So, Shauna and Jimmy joined Pasha and Jessi in the bottom three, along with the predictable Faina and Cedric. Although, I must say, the more people rip on Cedric, the more I feel bad for him. I mean, they keep pointing out his weaknesses, but forgetting to mention that when he dances his own style, it's not only unique, he's freaking brilliant at it. I mean, I'm not necessarily convinced he's right for this competition either, but I really love to watch him dance.

Shauna's solo: THAT's what a kickass solo should look like. Wow, that was amazing. Also kicking out an amazing solo? Jimmy. Who knew? Jessi's actually sucked, and the judges agreed with me. They also agreed with me about Shauna's solo. Faina just kind of pranced around, and, predictably, she's gone. She also is gracious, yet teary when saying goodbye, and it's very sad. As for the guys, Nigel reeeeeeeeeeeeeally drew out the discussion on the guys, and then shocked everyone by dismissing Jimmy. Which... what? I didn't get it, as much as I'm happy to see Cedric have another chance. And Jimmy's crying as well, and then the show just ended.

Not satisfying. Not satisfying at ALL. I mean, I never expected Jimmy or Faina even remotely close to the top 10, but this all went down really weird for me tonight.

I guess I'm going to have to start (gulp) voting.

who really COMMITS

I'm obsessed, I'm a nerd, whatever. Here's what went down on tonight's So You Think You Can Dance, and here's what I think will happen tomorrow night.

Couple 1: Lauren & Neil, Hip Hop - I think Lauren is a bit young for this competition, actually, and her immaturity comes through in her dance. She doesn't connect with the material or her audience enough emotionally. Neil is a little arrogant for me. That said, this was a kickass routine, very well done.

Couple 2: Jessi & Pasha, Jazz - Jessi annoys the crap out of me ("Desk jobs are tedious and hard, wah!"); Pasha's the most adorable Russian ballroom dancer ever. He has this boyish grin that kills me. Beyond that, however, these two are sensational dancers who partner each other exceptionally well. Also, this was a really unique and fun routine, and they nailed it.

Couple 3: Jaime & Hok, Samba
- I *heart* Hok, as you know, and want him to stay. And I was surprised and impressed with what he did accomplish in this routine, and found he slipped into the Latin posture and movement fairly well. It wasn't enough, however, and the end result was uneven and ultimately forgettable. Jaime is childish and hard to listen to? And everything she says? Sounds like a question? And her dancing isn't special enough for me to overlook it? Overall, these two tried to overcome their lack of substance with some fabulous style, but were, sadly, unsuccessful.

Couple 4: Sabra & Dominic, Contemporary - I appreciate the technique that needs to go into contemporary, but GOD could a choreographer try just once to create a routine that isn't overwrought melodrama? Whatever, these two are fine. Dominic is a "B Boy" (break dancer, spins on his head a lot) who's trying to prove he can do more, and he will, and I believe it will only get him so far. Sabra is a darling girl and a lovely dancer, but ultimately easy to forget once you've seen her. I don't doubt she'll have a nice long dance career, but it won't be on this show unless she shows us something more exciting about herself.

Couple 5: Faina & Cedric, Foxtrot
- Cedric is a sensational solo dancer and a weak partner. All the judges have said it repeatedly, because it's just true. Also, I really kind of love Cedric--he's fascinating and intelligent and kind of a puzzle. Faina seems a little uptight, and a little full of herself, and seems to take herself way too seriously. They're an odd couple, although both talented on their own. In this number they were way uneven, and the choreography, in trying to compensate for Cedric's evident shortcomings, ended up betraying the true nature of the foxtrot, and that's unfortunate.

Couple 6: Lacey & Kameron, Broadway - Ooh, I love me a Tyse Diorio Broadway routine. These two are a lot of fun to watch. They have great chemistry, they really commit to the style and the step, and I think they'll go far. I have concerns, however, about them always coming up just a little bit short on every dance, and getting outshined by someone more technically proficient down the line. For now, however, they're a favorite of mine.

Couple 7: Anya & Danny, Viennese Walz
- These two can kick everyone else's collective asses technically and professionally. They're amazing to watch and make everything seem effortless. If a girl wins this year, and I'd love to see that for a change, I think Anya's the one to beat at this point. Danny is beautiful to watch... when he's dancing. When he's talking, he's a little insufferable. Like, we GET IT, you had a hard knock life and dance saved you. It's a beautiful thing, and we're all very happy for you, but Dude? Drop the attitude, save it for the dance floor.

Couple 8: Shauna & Jimmy, Hip Hop - This was a fun routine with some stepping built in, although it didn't work as well with the venue and the sound set up as I think the choreographer imagined. As for the dancers, they were good, they were fine, they seem nice. I don't think Shauna's doing Jimmy any favors here, actually, I would be interested to see him with a different partner. He's another who really COMMITS to every step and feeling, but Shauna's just kind of... meh. Not exciting enough for me.

Couple 9: Sara & Jesus, Paso Doble - I'm with Mia Michaels on this one: the music SUCKED for this routine. I think Paso Doble, and I think Strictly Ballroom, and that's what I want. Not Queen's "We Will Rock You." Ill-advised. As for the dancers, I like them. I really like Jesus, I think he's a positive, committed dancer with a lot of potential to show us great versatility on this show. I think Sara has the same potential, but I also kind of don't like her because I think she's full of shit. In all her interviews she tries to be all badass: "I'm one of the few B-Girls, yo what's up I got no formal training, yo." Or whatever. But then you read her bio on the show's site, and she talks about all these classes she's taken. I think, to use the slang of her so-called roots, she's frontin'. I mean, she can breakdance? But overall, I'm not feelin' it.

So to sum up, here's what I think will happen tomorrow:
1. Fun, staying
2. Awesome, staying
3. Not good enough, bottom 3
4. Lovely but forgettable, bottom 3
5. Uneven, bottom 3
6. Fabulous, staying
7. Beautiful, staying
8. Good enough, staying
9. Weird, but probably staying

Of those bottom 3 couples, the judges will really want to keep Sabra & Dominic and unless they really jack up their solos, they're not in any danger of going home this week. As for the others, it's a tough call, but I think ultimately Faina and Cedric are going to go, or maybe they'll even change up the partners and send home Jaime and Cedric? But I doubt it. Faina is proving to be a handful in any style she doesn't automatically know, she is frustrating for choreographers, and she is alienating the audience. Cedric is just a little too much of a puzzle for the majority of the American public, I think, and that's a shame. He and Hok are equally good solo performers, I think, but Hok has the edge of a slightly more winning personality. And, as we learned in Pulp Fiction, personality goes a long way.

I already have opinions on the future top 10 of this competition, but I'll save them for now 'cause this post is getting long. We'll see what happens tomorrow night!

Friday, June 15, 2007


It's back. So You Think You Can Dance is back, I really couldn't be happier. This year, I'm rooting for this guy.

But I already think this girl will win.

Oh! And this routine gave me chills and almost made me cry. Note: this is a swing dancer and a hip hop dancer. SERIOUSLY!

I love this show SO MUCH, I barely have words. Man.

Wade Robson's routines still rock my world.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

from Hot Shit, to oh, crap

Don't let anyone fool you. Starting a new business is hard like Christmas*. Working from home, while enjoyable, has all kinds of interesting challenges. Hustling new business, then trying to figure out how you're going to manage the business you've secured, is both painful and exhilarating. Managing the operations--the budget, the benefits, the banking--is tedious and trying. Figuring out roles when the players are husband and wife, and both people need to try to teach each other and learn from each other at the same time is like embarking on a whole new relationship, all over again. Learning a new industry while trying to balance all of this is an awesome way to freak yourself right out.

Would I go back and do things differently? Hell NO. This is the most strenuous path of Self Discovery I've ever forced myself to traverse. But still. Every day I'm helping myself to a big ol' slice of Humble Pie, while convincing our clients our agency is a one-way ticket to Awesome Town. I'm just saying: this endeavor is not for the faint of heart.

Professionally, I'm good at a lot of things. In fact, I've come to appreciate things I was really good at in my role at Ticketmaster, that I took for granted when I was there. Like, I'm good at learning the players in any given situation, noodling out what motivates them, and figuring out solutions that can satisfy just about everyone with a minimum of, you know, pissing every one off. I used to think these feats of diplomacy and finesse were annoyances in my day; I've come to realize they were a big part of my job, and I did it really well.

I'd also worked my way up to a fairly Big Fish status at a company that doesn't have very many Big Fish opportunities. Ticketmaster doesn't hand out Director titles like candy, but I had one. I'd be lying if I said everyone loved me, but my region's numbers were solid, year over year, and I set a high standard of excellence to those I was charged with leading. There were those I worked with who, for whatever reason, tried to keep me down or make me feel like I was Less Than. That's an unhealthy way to work and one of the reasons I was fine with leaving. But mostly, I was Hot Shit at Ticketmaster, and I didn't care if no one believed me when I told them, because hi: look at my region's sales and superior promotions. Think whatever you want, I'm taking credit for that.

Today, I don't get credit for being an Entrepreneur! A Business Owner! It's not enough. I have to walk in, say "This is what we're going to do for you, please PAY US." And then? I have to deliver, or they'll leave us for the next new agency. I have to deliver work that, in some cases, I've never done before. I'm learning about streaming video links and digital EPKs, and storing site after site in a stretched out memory bank every day just so I can maximize the coverage my clients get on every DVD they release.

Some of the work is remedial. Some of it is tedious: follow up, follow up, and follow up some more. I went from Hot Shit, to oh, crap: I have to do work I used to give to an entry-level coordinator, and I can't even be a snob about it because I'm still learning.

And yet, I'm surprised every day. With every new thing I learn, I still get to teach something to Mac, or my clients. Very cool. Sometimes, when I've been struggling with something for a week, I'll discover that the client was struggling with it too, and what I've gotten done is actually more than they expected. Groovy. The littlest things have become the biggest thrill. Best of all, when I score a hard-to-get placement and squeal, "YES!" from my desk, Mac runs in and celebrates with me. I didn't have that at the old gig, and it isn't just fun, it's intoxicating.

Most surprising of all, is when I realize that I've put myself in a position of Struggle in my life, once again. I'm not actually a huge fan of Change, but in the last 10 years, I've moved cities twice, thrown myself into 5 different jobs that were just a little out of my reach when I started them, gotten married, adopted pets, bought and renovated a house... all of these things aren't just big, life-changing endeavors, they're freaking WORK, man. They are work, and while they all came with either short or long-term benefits, that doesn't make the struggle any easier.

Then again, all of the moments of struggle in my personal history have yielded huge returns in personal growth. I've learned about myself, and what I can take, and what I can do if pushed just a little further. I've learned about how I relate to my family and friends, and how I can make those relationships better. I don't always apply what I've learned, but hey--odds are good I'll throw myself into the deep end with some other life-changing challenge again before too long, and I can learn to apply it then.

It reminds of my favorite poem, "Ulysses," by Alfred Lord Tennyson. It's a poem I read in high school or college, and it was one of those times when enjoyed just one of many profound impacts that art has had on my life, and my approach to life. It's a really long poem about Ulysses, an aging king who had survived many adventures** and challenges in his life, and found himself in his golden years unwilling to rest and just relax. A couple excerpts, and I'll go (although, seriously, read the whole thing).

"I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life!

". . . tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

*This is a saying in the McLean house because of a story one of our Seattle friends told us, in which one of her young, "special" students was struggling to make a Christmas card for her parents, and after messing up her card for the third time pouted, "Christmas is HARD!"

**The Odyssey--ever heard of it?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Today I found out that the Foo Fighters are going to be opening for The Police at their June 23 Dodgers Stadium concert. And who has tickets? Who is also a ginormous Foo Fighters Fan? Who's missed every other show she's tried to attend because they always conflict with shit she can't get out of, like weddings and trips overseas? THAT'S RIGHT BITCHES! I'm so excited. I know, they'll play a short set & all, but I don't care. FINALLY. I get to see my beloved Foo Fighters. And then I get to see The Police!! Prepare for glory!

This one time Dinah was so drunk

I recently sent out a survey to my nearest and dearest in a scientific attempt to discover any truly legendary drunken shenanigans in my past that I may have forgotten. The results are in, and they are conclusive: I am, generally speaking, a really well-behaved drunk who mostly just pukes or passes out after a few too many. From time to time, however, I have my moments. And since I promised to share the results here in my blog, here they are, along with the initial request, for your enjoyment.

"Here's the thing: It's been brought to my attention that I can't think of a time I was ever THAT drunk. You know what I mean? As in,

'This one time, Dinah was so drunk she decided to beat up a sidewalk with her FACE.'

'This one time, Dinah was so drunk she believed herself above the rules of the hotel pool, and just jumped on in with all her clothes on.'

'This one time, Dinah was so drunk she thought it would be an awesome idea to stick her naked ass in a refrigerator.'

Great stories, right? ALL TRUE. Not mine. (You know who you are.) Yeah, I've fallen down once or twice, but sadly I'm just a klutz and do that more sober than I do after I've had a few. A little drunken karaoke? Who hasn't? In recent memory, I can only come up with '... she, very professionally, complimented the producer of Scrubs on the healthy work environment he created on his set,' and '... she convinced her equally drunk Australian friends that she could expertly imitate every American accent imaginable.' YAWN. Mostly, my precious few moments of binge drinking all end the same way: 'And then she threw up/passed out.'

So, here's the deal: You help me remember the good stuff, the true shenanigans, and I will faithfully post your stories to my blog.


"This one time Dinah was so drunk she had a very one sided conversation AT Guy Pearce that went something like '… and Momento. What the f*@K was that about?' Oh hang on, that was me." (Beautiful.)

"Do you remember being completely wasted at my friend Becky's house in Edmonds one night after partying heavily? You threw up more than any food we saw you eat that night, seriously. And then you told us that when CSI showed up later, they should check the dumpster out back for your stomach lining." (Oh, god. I remember this. I really thought I'd barfed up internal organs and was at death's door. Not pretty.)

"I do recall playing strip poker in Andy B's basement, though I'm probably the one who lost a shirt. And my dignity." (Ah, yes. Parties at Andy B's. Good times. And, no. I never lost my shirt.)

"Two words for you pumpkin: Glam Fest! And maybe a few college experiences. Ooh! And the time you ran head first into a glass door! Although that's only funny if you have the eternal mental image of it. I'll elaborate later. You really shouldn't have sent me this email." (God bless old friends to hold onto memories of you at your klutziest, right? Right?)

"I can only remember you dancin' it up no matter how trashed you may have been." (This, my friends, will ALWAYS be true.)

"This one time, Dinah was so drunk at an Umatilla party that she called mAc and fell asleep on the phone." (A variation on the passing out theme, but kind of cute, I think.)

"I can’t remember a time when you weren’t in control of your faculties, my friend. You are a responsible drunk." (Hey, someone's gotta be able to talk to the cops.)

"I cannot think of anything; this is not necessarily a bad thing. So you've lived your life with style and grace, what's the worry?" (Now that I know for sure I haven't forgotten anything? I am worry free!)

"I do remember a walk to 7-11 for chili dogs where we were both fushnuckered and I could not help but mention how straight and even the grass was cut at the apartments in front of Langworthy. I'm sure you did something like laugh at me. But I can't remember." (Maybe this is why my friends all think I'm so responsible... they're always drunker than I am.)

"You are one of those people who can be drunk & be rather inconspicuous about it. I can’t recall a time I ever thought to myself 'Dinah is super drunk.' You should drink more and do stupid stuff much more often." (I promised my friend Amanda, who thinks she's never seen me drunk, to get wasted at her birthday party on the 16th. I'll let you know how I do.)

Odds are, your stories are better than mine, and that's what the Comments section is for. Now, bring on the tequila shots!