Thursday, June 29, 2006

Of flats and friends and flying men

Wow, it's been a packed last forty-eight hours!

On Tuesday night, Otis and I took a little ride on the Burke-Gilman out to Matthews Beach. (Maybe we'll repeat the exercise tonight, only heading towards Shilshole.) My bike was rolling fine the whole trip.

But yesterday morning, on the way to school, all of a sudden my rear tire was flat! I didn't go over any obvious debris and there was no pop - it was round, and then it was not round. I had to call Otis to pick me up and drop me off at campus before she went to work at Hi-Lai's, and it has been so busy since then that I just got to fixing that flat a little while ago.

I had to bus home (which was actually very easy) to meet Angela and Lyle, who were paying a little visit from Boston. While waiting for Otis, we raided their local storage unit and now, yes, we have more stuff. I accept it because it meets the criterion of merely holding other stuff: we got a hallway shelf/coat rack and some shelving for my closet. We also got cool and yummy summer drinks at the local Evil S when otis came home.

That fun lasted right up until when we had to leave to visit Otis's grandma; we satyed and chatted with her right up until it was time to leave for dinner before Superman Returns. We had a great meal at Bamboo Garden, with Jimbo5, Dingo, Johnbai, and surprise (dinner) guests Claymation and Emmy. After eating, we walked over to Imax and stood in a too-long line in a too-hot room for too long a time, until we could take our seats with our plastic goggles for the big-screen, semi-3D extravaganza. That gave plenty of time for us to be met by Soapy and new gal pal Ya-El (no relation to Kal); Mighty Mel (bearing plenty of concessions); JagGirl (who requested the record show that she arrived at 6:48 pm for a planned 6:00 pm rendezvous, much earlier than not quite as tardy as she usually does; and Mystery Man, a friend of Emmy who made a last-minute subsitute for the under-the-weather MaryBee.

My response to the movie itself was lukewarm; perhaps my expectations were too high. There were some awesome moments (particularly the early action sequences) and I had a good time, but much of the film seemed meandering and not very interesting. One reviewer I read today summed it up nicely: Not enough Superman, too much Returns.

Oh, and the 3D segments still looked like Viewmaster slides to me.

So, today was just teaching and cleaning and fixing flat time. I got to use a Twilight Zone episode in class this morning; it worked and was a lot of fun. I also got a phone message in the middle of my class from JustJon in the middle of his bike ride; apparently he is back on the saddle again. And the RSVPs are coming in for the Saturday SOS.

As Nacho Libre said, my life is good. Really good!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In the heat of the day*

It is that hot, langourous part of the afternoon; this time of day is usually my slow time, and the heat just makes it even more so. Otis is off for tea in Mongolia, so I am hiding in the relative cool of the lower level. I think we may try a bike ride after dinner, when the temperature has moderated a bit.

I have been biking the past two days, but only on my NSCC commute, and that's only five miles roundtrip. Tomorrow I'll add a loop to the comics store on the return leg to see if I can squeeze in a few more miles without making a separate trip.

The commute itself has been a thing in doubt. No kidding, even on the first day of class, my dean was talking cancellation. Both sections were under the usual minima for a class to run; heck, truth be told, even combined they were barely at the maximum enrollment allowed for one class. As it turned out, since it is a required class, and since the numbers were right on the cusp, she let them both run, but it was a near thing and I might have had one class only (which wouldn't have been a terrible thing). The classes look to be just fine, although it is odd to teach the same lesson plan back-to-back with two different sets of students.

Working as much as I am just means that I have to plan out the important stuff, like seeing Otis's friend Angela yesterday, and seeing her and her husband Lyle tomorrow, and doing Superman Returns (oh, check out this review) tomorrow night, and so on and so forth, including more Summer Outdoor Spectration events, like the one pictured here:



Clicky for a bigger, annotated version

Okay, it might be time for dip in the pool right about now.

*Of course, bitchin' rights are held by JustJon, with little chance of a challenge - 108 degrees! That's flippin' hot!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Last hours of the last day of the last weekend of a "summer vacation" that was too short*



My last class of Spring quarter was on the afternoon of June 7; in less than twelve hours, on June 26, I will be teaching the first session of my first class of Summer, after which I will essentially be teaching full-time (at part-time pay) every week until December 15th or thereabouts.

Even though I had to do grading and class prep over those nineteen days, I came around to consider that period my "summer vacation." I know that there will be fun stuff on the three-day weekends that I have all summer, but this will have been the longest period of time without classroom obligations all year. I guess I can be glad that this vacation closed on such a quintessentially summery day.

Otis and I did head up to LFP to clean up the detritus of the SOS party; it wasn't bad at all, and we found Dingo's sandals. (BTW, we have decided to have an encore screening this coming weekend; be on the lookout for a email invite.) It was hot on the way there and hot on the way back; we discussed heading out to Magnuson Park or to some other body of water to try to get cool. After lunch, we decided to bring the mountain to Mohammed instead.



Yes, for just fifteen bucks and a walk to Bartell's, we installed out very own interactive water feature. Otis wasted no time in enjoying the splendor of 91 gallons of cold hose water captured in a polyvinyl basin.





I must admit, it was kinda fun and definitely cooling. I even got in on the act.



After passing a lazy afternoon and making all our neighbors envious, we had a little dinner, did a little work, and decided to watch the sunset in the company of a soft-serve cone from Little Coney's in Shilshole.



It was a beautiful sunset, and we weren't the only ones with the idea to watch it: Golden Gardens was packed.



I took a picture of some teeny-tiny people sitting on Otis's shoulder.



And I am vain enough to like this picture of me enough to post it for no real reason.



JustJon reported the valley reaching 100 degrees, as predicted; he fled with the boys to the air-conditioned comfort of a movie house. I checked in with Mighty Mel, who was enjoying the air-conditioned comfort in the Turf Club at Emerald Downs as an honorary steward. I hope the rest of y'all found comfort, air-contioned or not, on this paradoxically first and last day of summer.

*The last time I had a post title this long, Johnbai complained about it. Let's see if he does this time.

Warmth

I've been up for a while; just came back from walking across to Whole Paycheck for some milk. It was already warm in the sun, and I'm having an iced tea for my morning beverage. The internets say that we could break a record here in Seattle today; it might hit 90 degrees. (Of course, that means that JustJon down in the Willamette Valley will hit 100...) Is this one more tease of summer? Or has July 5th come early this year?

Of course, with such a nice day, the question of what to do with it arises. Mighty Mel will be down at Emerald Downs acting as an honorary steward for one for the horse races on Irish Day. She gets to has to hang out in the paddocks and then go to winner's circle and make a presentation (and has to be kinda presentable herself, too). She even gave free passes out to some of us, but I don't know who's going to make it.

There's also the Gay Pride Parade today; or should I say the New and Improved Seattle Pride 2006™ Parade - they have moved the event from Capitol Hill to downtown and the Seattle Center. Dingo et alia watched an alternate parade on Saturday - the LGBT Community Center held a "march and rally" on Broadway and a Queerfest in Volunteer Park to keep the tradition on the hill. I don't know if this event will be much of a draw for Our Gang today, either.

One event that has to take place to day is cleaning up from the other event that happened last night. A veritable throng - J-Force, Soapy, Mighty Mel, Hi-Lai & Welcome Matt, Johnbai, Cair-uhl, and Dingo - made the trek up to LFP for our first SOS (Summer Outdoor Spectration). Grilled veggie dogs, Mel's Mighty Salsa, ripe raspberries, bean salad, and mimosas were among the comestibles; the film fare featured a Rent excerpt, a Venture Brothers cartoon, and the John Carpenter classic They Live, which was great fun for everyone except Dingo (who enjoyed it almost as much as she did Nacho Libre and might have said this). Anyway, we had a great time, hanging out until almost 1:00 am, and it was wonderful to have everybody together. We are going to leave the spectration rig up there, I think, and try for a repeat next weekend.

But for today, we'll just see where the warm winds blow us.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Bidness taken care of

B2K = 83.38%

Well, much of it anyway - the more time-sensitive part. Not yesterday, though - actually early today, in my most productive time, between 6:00 and 9:00 am.

One piece is still missing, however: I want to use a video during my first week. That leads to this request:
  • Does anybody out there have Otis's collection of Twilight Zone DVDs? I dimly recall their having been lent out, but I can't remember to whom. If I could get them back forthwith, that would save me a trip to Scarecrow. Thanks!
  • Update 6-25: When I moved the spectration unit yesterday to prep it for travel to LFP, I found the DVD slipcase tucked behind a storage basket. Whoever, um, borroweed them must have, uh, put them back. Yeah, that's it.
Yesterday was a pleasant day, and not just for the weather. I made a scooter run around Cap Hill in the morning, dropping off Superman tickets to Dingo and Johnbai (and I got to talk cycles with O-laya). After lunch, I directed my bike ride past Scarecrow to get the crapfest classic movies for tonight's outdoor screening. Mighty Mel and Soapy came over later for an evening of burgers, text-messages, and catching-up. Nice agenda for the last Saturday of my little vacation.

Speaking of which, the Burke-Gilman is calling me for another leisurely daytime ride. But before I go, here are some Brazilian World Cup team jerseys for (respectively) Neds, Wheylona, and JustJon, courtesy Minimals World via the Generator Blog:





Friday, June 23, 2006

Bad boy

B2K = 83.15%

Well, not to much bidness got taken care of yesterday, as I fell victim to the sosh-syndrome.

In the morning, Otis went off to work and I intended to get started on my teacher-tasks as I also took care of household stuff like dishes and laundry. But before that really got underway, Jimbo 5 called, and we whiled away the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry crossing time catching up and making plans. (Jimbo, BTW, has entered the blogosphere and we have a wonderful Father's Day post as a result.

Okay, so once Jimbo was on the road to Microwork in Redmond, I could get down to business, but first I had to have a little lunch and take a bike ride; at least I figured I would drop off some Superman tickets along the way and get that out of the way.

My first stop was Green Lake library, to give MaryBee her ticket. She wasn't working, but JJ was, so we wound up spending a nice lunch hour together in the sun. Then I headed of to Ballard to get a new bike lock from my favorite bike store (and to click up some miles).

On the way back, I stopped at JagGirl's office down at the UW, gave her her ticket, and met everyone that she works with or has ever worked with or passed in the hallway. It's a very friendly office.

So, I finally got home and finished up some chores but didn't have too much time for work before Otis got back, all dog-smelly from her Reiki client. We hosed her down and hurried out to do the once-a-month grocery provisioning, since our cupboards were bare, bare, bare, and then had a quick pasta dinner.

Just as we were about to plan the evening, J-Force called; she was in possession of some DVDs and without company to watch them. Of course, any excuse for a BWS will do; we invited her over immediately, fed her linguine, chattted and stuff, played with the cat we don't have, and then all settled in to watch Flightplan, a Jodie Foster thriller that was actually quite good.

But today - today I will get that work done.

If not, there's tomorrow.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Back to bidness

B2K = 83.02%

Well, I guess I have to admit that my just about two weeks of vacation, with its not-having-to-be-anywhere in-particular and no-deadlines-looming goodness, is just about over. On Monday, NSCC starts up its summer quarter, and my share comprises two classes, ten credits, three hours a day, four days a week. A week later, Antioch starts up and I add another three once-a-week classes, for a total of 19 credits, or 127% of full time. Before the classes start, I need to have all my ducks in a row (syllabi, readings, materials) and once they begin, I need to start meticulously scheduling my extensive responding/prep time. So much for becoming a teacher to have summers off...

I took care of some of these responsibilities yesterday; I had to head up to NSCC to pick up my copies of the course books, and since it was nice out, I took the opportunity to bike there. After taking care of business and visiting some folks, I went up to Greenwood to go to the comic book store there, but I found it closed, so I headed down to the one in Wallingford. By meandering a little on the way home, I managed to make the expedition for 52 #7 a ten-mile ride, and had my bare minimum for the day. The trip reminded me, though, of the days way back when, in '92-'93, when biking was a common mode of transportation for me. The hard bit to this practice, I think, is the starting; this is why I use all that OCD stuff, the spreadsheets and targets and whatnot - to make biking a habit. Now that I have been riding consistently, the hills are starting to flatten out a bit and traffic doesn't seem quite as loud and scary as it used to. I am certainly going to continue to commute by bike (at least to North; my Antioch classes end at 9:30 pm and I'm not sure about riding Eastlake in the dark) but I want to start adding in other trips as well.

Last night's jaunt to Capitol Hill was not made by bike. Otis and I went up to a meeting of sorts with some operators of small indie businesses. Kris-10 (known to these pages) writes science curricula as Laughing Crow; Thad Tichenor does design and illustration; Rena is developing the Story Foundry, a personal history service; and Kate has just opened Nancy, a Belltown gift and stationery store that is the brand-new addition to fancyschmancypants. With Otis's massage practice and my vague, blockheaded notions, it was a diverse group, but there was a pretty fruitful exchange of ideas regarding challenges and opportunities. Otis is eager to ramp up her marketing, and even the inspirational value of the get-together was useful in that regard. I, of course, need to decide whether I want (and can find) a full-time teaching job, or whether I want something else.

Linkies:

This article is for all the Mundial fans. Man, 31-zip -- that must have been painful.

This quiz is mostly for JustJon and Wheylona: who will score higher?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Afternoon sun

B2K = 83.0%

That's what we've been having lately, innit? Otis and I actually timed things well, for a change. We went out on the scooter this morning, to pick up the Superman Returns tickets, run a few other errands, and have lunch while it was mild but cloudy. Then, after we got home, we went out for a bike ride on the Burke-Gilman while it was bright and sunny. Hooray for us!

Just some quick bits this time around:

***Not a very odd coincidence: We found curtains for the living room at Value Village, just like Dingo did. A bit more coincidental: They were Pottery Barn curtains, just like hers.

***This one is mostly for Johnbai and Dingo:



Bill Sienkiewicz is a cool comics artist who did the art for the DVD package.

***Alan Cumming (the Emcee in Cabaret and Nightcrawler in X2, among other roles) has a fragrance. Check out the website and make sure you click on the commercial.

***In case y'all missed it (as I did until tonight) Just Jon (with lots of help from Neds and Wheylona are giving this site a run for its money with this blog.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mon day

B2Keenness index = 82.9%

Well, I found out today that Golden Gardens is precisely 10.0 miles from the house - that is, if you bike all the way to the furthest end of the parking lot and make a little circle. That being the case, I didn't quite do the 27 miles I was planning today - not because I was tired, but because I am getting bored with Burke-Gilman and with riding around in circles. I need to find some different routes.

I also decided that I needed a different mileage tracking system, one that actually showed progress rather than scolding (positive reinforcement and all that). So the B2Keno number has been replaced by the B2Keenness index, which should gradually approach 100% as the season continues. (BTW, it does not mean I am 83% finished, of course; it is a measure of being on or off pace.)

:::::::::::::::

This bit is mostly for Ned and Johnbai, I guess:



I got this from a large-print edition of Reader's Digest I was leafing through at Group Health. The sad part is that large-print editions are starting to seem like a good idea...

:::::::::::::::

T'other day, Otis and I were at Value Village when I came across two radio controlled soccer players. Since this is Mundial season and all that, I snatched them up and mailed them off to Just Jon. I guess they were a bit of a hit, because today I received thank-you notes in the mail from Zach and Gethin, illustrated by the boys themselves:





Trying again

After Saturday night's blogging disaster, here's another try. I had been looking at Wordpress this morning, but it will require a bit of a paradigm shift, so while I haven't ruled it out, I'm postponing the switch process until I have more time.

What a jam-packed weekend it was!

Solstice Parade
We had a great time in Fremont on Saturday morning for the Solstice Parade. Otis and I scootered down early (with folding chairs bungeed on!) to claim a space. Dingo and New York Alex joined us shortly thereafter (with even more chairs!) and we claimed a good spot on the sidewalk. Invisible Adam and Even-More-Invisible Karen were on hand, and we were joined shortly before parade time by O-laya, O-Cher, and O-Sara. Johnbai couldn't make it because he had to answer the call of his softball gods, but he did send his camera along so I could take pictures even though I forgot mine.


Otis looking birdly


The Invisibles


Dingo and NYA looking raffish in shades


The O Squad

As for the parade itself: the weather started out a little gloomy, but then turned parade-perfect as the day went on. I was a little disappointed in the naked bike contingent there was no great mass of whooshing cycles, more like a lot of drips and drabs. Still, we saw lots of folks with lots of colorful body paint, and the bikers were joined by a lot of walkers, too.



The parade had all the usual elements: there were about three or four Bush-bashing pieces of political theatre, including the Wheel of Abuse; the hemp guys were on hand, as were the Green Men; and there was lots of randomness. Here are some faves:


A lady wearing a giant penis (and guy, barely seen to the left, in a set of giant boobs), were chased around by a minister-type trying to cover them with a churchly American flag.




This was some sort of (fertility?) goddess figure that was pulled down the street on top of a big pyramid-like structure. If that wasn't cool enough, every once in a while the structure would disgorge a bunch of giant babies, who were then chased down by a mohel with an oversized knife.


The belly-dance brigade was huge this year - there must have been over 100 synchronized dancers.


This was a big bird-thing that Otis liked.


Toward the end of the parade, there were some sufis. They had been whirling - it was very pretty - but stopped before I could get a shot.

Post-parade
We decamped quickly and got the heck outta Dodge - no one stayed around for the fair or the pageant. Otis and I headed home and got in a 13-mile ride in the afternoon sun, so I stayed on my B2K pace and brought the streak to seven days in a row. We had planned to do an evening thing, but JJ took sick, and Soapy got stuck doing the help-move thing, Mighty Mel had to drive to Olympia, and Dingo was tired anyway, so we just bagged it. And then Blogger sucked hard.

Father's Day
We planned to have breakfast with Otis's folks; unfortunately, they were up at the cabin in Chinook Pass. So, we got up at 5:00 am and left the RD at 6:00 and were in Cliffdell, WA at Whistlin' Jack's lodge by about 8:10. We had a swell brekkies and then returned to the cabin for a little walk and a lot of relaxing in the sun by the river.

Post Father's Day
We were heading home and had made Enumclaw by about 4:00 pm when Johnbai called with a need for sedentary socializing after his four-game, six-hour softball stint. A few hasty phone calls later, I had forsaken my daily bike ride (breaking the streak!) and we were heading to pick up Johnbai and Dingo at the Satellite. The fully-loaded Great Red Rental then sped toward the wild reaches of Woodinville, where we met Mighty Mel for some tasty Thai food. (Johnbai ate anything and everything that anyone had left on their plate.)

After dinner, we drove the walking distance to the Woodinville Cineplex (this was the 'burbs, after all) and caught Nacho Libre. Johnbai was roaring with laughter during the whole movie, at one point even causing the whole auditorium to laugh along with him. Dingo, on the other hand, was stone-faced and silent; she said it was likely the worst movie she had seen in years. The rest of us fell somewhere along the spectrum between the two. I'll just say that I laughed a few times, but it was no Napoleon Dynamite.

Before calling it a night, we made a quick stop at Mel's apartment to (a) check out the pool situation, since many voices have been clamoring for a pool party at Mel's complex since we found she had a pool; (b) check out the furniture and stuff that she drove 5,000 miles to get; and (c) check out the pool situation.

I even gave Johnbai his camera back!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go bike 27 miles to make up for skipping yesterday.

(BTW, Blogger crashed or lost the connection four times while I was doing this post. Clock time is now actually 9:18 am as I cross my fingers and press "publish.")

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Grrrrrr

Blogger lost my whole solstice parade post, including about a dozen photo links. I didn't even try to publish - it lost it when I tried to save a draft, which I did in case it was going to lose it when I posted.

Blogger sucks.

I'll repost later, but not now.

Blogger sucks.

Last night's post

B2Keno - 13.2 /Streak = 6 go

Almost a triple-dipple:

Of course, I maintain a spreadsheet to keep track of my biking stats. I record mileage and time and calculate average speed for each ride. If I do 15 miles and ride for at least an hour and maintain and a speed of 15 mph, it's called a triple-dipple.

Well, I got close yesterday, acheiving the benchmark in spirit if not in letter. I did 14.8 miles on the Burke-Gilman in 58 minutes for an average speed of 15.3 mph. I blame the slight shortfall on my inability to read my odomoter accurately without my glasses and therefore turning around a tenth of a mile too soon. Curse you, presbyopia!

In my favor:
No hills: Since I was dropping Otis off at her grandmother's, I drove down and started the ride near Gasworks Park and did it all on the flats.
No books: My usual 15 miles to Bothell was usually completed carrying schoolbooks and papers; not this time.
No people: The trail was relatively empty so I could maintain a pace much of the time.

Working against me:
My knees: Which have been hurting and which is why I was riding on the flats in the frst place.
The rain: Which was coming down intermittently, although the big downpour held off until I was back at the car.

I'm really not a speed rider and the speed limit on the Burke is 15 mph anyway (as well it should be), so this this will have to stand as the glorious acheivement of the season.

Road Trip Mel:

So, word is that Mighty Mel will be starring in a remake of this movie. She actually made it back to Cascadia for her meeting at 4:00 pm on Friday - having left Butte, Montana that morning. (Makes driving to Portland seem like a jaunt around the block, doesn't it?) Otis and I met her up in Bothell afterwards to help haul the stuff up the stairs. Good to have her back safe and sound.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Thursday's other post

BeKeno = 13.2 / Streak = 5 go

I didn't want to sully the structure of my essay with diarist ramblings, but I did want to mention that I spoke with Mighty Mel, who is eating up the miles on the way home; that Dingo stood me to a great lunch at a vegan Thai place, Araya; that the streets of Wedgwood are so bumpy that the 2-liter Coke I carried home on my scooter exploded along the way; and that Otis was interviewed by a student from a career program for homeless youth.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Women in movies

So, over in comics world, there has been a bit of conversation lately on the portrayal of female characters, and I recently posted here about the Mo Movie Measure, which relates to women in films. This got me to thinking about what I considered the best realized, strongest portrayals of women in film; that is, those portrayals where the woman is something besides a victim, a love intertest, a token, an objective, or eye candy. I have a short list, but I would be interested in your candidates, too.

Women in Film: The Magnificent Seven

#7: Charlie Baltimore (Geena Davis)
in The Long Kiss Goodnight


This rather unlikeable character from a not-very-good movie starts off the list for two basic reasons: One, Charlie kicks ass in gloriously chorographed fight scenes, out-Bonds James Bond, and is even tougher than Samuel L. Jackson. Two, despite all this, she doesn't die at the end. Too many movies with strong women end with them dying, being killed, or killing themselves (the price they pay for being to strong?), but in this no-brainer action flick, Davis, as Charlie, an amnesiac assasin on the run, does all the stuff we're used to seeing Arnold or Sylvester or Bruce do - fight, shoot, kill, maim, and crack wise - and she gets to go home to her husband and kid at the end.

#6: Mathilde (Audrey Tautou)
in The Very Long Engagement


Although Amelie may be the pinnacle of Tautou's gamine trope, Mathilde is a bit harder-edged than that and even more appealing for it. The indefatigable Mathilde never gives up on her lost, presumed-dead lover, and in the course of her journey reveals herself to be wise as well as clever and resourceful, and smart as well as tough and dogged, and is never, ever portayed as a victim. She uses every means available - and invents some along the way - to reach her goal and maintain her humanity.

#5: Ogdoo (Odgerel Ayusch)
in The Story of the Weeping Camel


Whle the prior two entries display what could be called exceptional physical and emotional prowess, Ogdoo is here because of the strength of the quotidian. On a small ranch in Mongolia, a family struggles to maintain their camel herd in the face of an unrelentingly hostile environment. Ogdoo, the mother, works no less than anyone else. Seemingly radiating competence, she wrangles camels, tends the ranch, fixes tents after sandstorms, sings magical songs, and generally takes care of business with straightforward effectiveness. The viewer gets the impression that she is one of the more productive members of the extended family, and that everyone knows it.

#4: Mrs. Brisby (voiced by Elizabeth Hartman)
in The Secret of Nimh


This was actually the character that got me thinking about the idea for this list over twenty years ago. In 1982, I saw this animated film about a mouse community under threat and one mother's efforts to save her family. I can remember thinking afterwards that Mrs. Brisby was one of the best-written roles for a female that I had ever seen - and she was a cartoon mouse! Of course, the top-grossing movies that year included Tootsie, Rocky III, Porky's, An Officer and a Gentleman, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, and The Verdict - none of which did much to expand the dimensionality of female characters. Yet here in this animated feature was a female character who was strong of will, brave of heart, capable of learning and overcoming obstacles - and who didn't define herself through a male character. The ur-film heroine, at least in my book.

#3: Bree Osbourne (Felicity Huffman)
in Transamerica


I will admit that Bree may be benefiting from the "most recent" effect, but I think she earns a place on the list nonetheless. Rarely have I seen a character protrayed as such a mensch: a mid-op transexual, Bree is flawed and troubled, but every inch a decent and responsible human being. While never losing sight of her own needs, she tries to be as tolerant to everyone as she would like the world to be to her. The truly unconditional acceptance she provides to her wayward son in the movie's final moments represents moral courage at its finest and most difficult.

#2: Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh)
in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon


Yu has it all going on: she is a successful business operator (the director of Sun Security), an exceptional and respected martial artist, a clan leader, and an intimate of movers and shakers. She is also representative of the beauty and grace that comes to women with maturity. In the baroque kung-fu epic that is Tiger, Yu is as much a pillar of probity and wisdom as Chow Yun Fat's Master Li, and she has the better fight scenes. As much as I loved this movie, what I really wanted when it ended was for a sequel called Tales of Sun Security, so I could see more of Yu doing her thing, putting the high-flying smackdown on bad guys and sipping tea afterwards.

And now, the #1 female film character:








Lola (Franka Potente) in Run Lola Run

Now, this is a woman to reckon with. In this story of potential alternate outcomes of a young German woman trying to save the life of her oops-I-made-a-BIG-mistake boyfriend, one constant is the power and strength evident in every cell of Potente's Lola. Physically expressed through her near-constant running through the streets of Berlin, Lola is almost as much a force of nature as she is a person. Whether her possible fates involve committing armed robbery, saving a life through a touch, or changing the laws of probability through sheer force of will (and an ear-splitting shreik), we are with her all the way. Her loyalty, devotion, and love are awesome to behold, and her self-propelled trajectory through the story is breathtaking. Lola is an unstoppable agent, one whom we feel that even death could only slow down momentarily.



Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not one with a topic

B2Keno = 13.2 / Streak = 4 go

Jobs update (or, bad news travels fast):

Well, it looks like my odds of leaving the LotU any time soon have diminished somewhat. Shoreline CC has withdrawn their recruitment for a full-time English teacher until at least Fall 2007, so I don't even get a crack at that one. (Given the administrative and financial difficulties they have been having lately, I can't say I'm too surprised at this development.) It appears I don't get a crack at Hugo House either; they have hired their new grant writer, and I didn't even get an interview. That leaves the King County Library System abd Kwantlen College in BC still live. Ah, me.

JJ was kind enough to refer over a job opening at SPL: Startegic Initiatives Manager. The job description was filled with stuff like this: Develops system-wide performance measures, including but not limited to statistical and workload measures, which provide relevant information for effective decision-making, informing long-term strategic planning and the evaluation or organizational performance. My eyes glazed over and I got itchy just thinking about having to wear a suit...

I like bikes (motor-wise and pedal-wise):
I still haven't spent much of the funds from the flapper-bracket budget (the money I got for selling my sidecar), so today I went out and did some bike gear shopping, to wit:


A totally cool old-school bell in ninja black. It goes bring-bring!
Perfect for being polite on the Burke-Gilman trail.


So I finally bought one of the frame bags that have the shoulder-rest for mountain bikers, just because I can't find any of the plain style. When I tried it out, I found that my pump, as little as it is, wouldn't fit in it. I brought it back to return it, and the bike guy came up with the brilliant idea of strapping the pump outside the bag, under the shoulder rest pad. He even gave me a cool elastic-velcro strap for free. Hot-digetty-dog!


And we got Otis's bike ready for inclement weather and more riding. You can see she now has a front mudguard, a rear mudguard, and a little cargo rack in the back. You might not be able to see that she also now has toe-clips on her pedals and my old bell (that just goes ting).

I also bought a new set of saddlebag-style panniers that will be great for carrying school papers and books. We even rode the bikes to the bike store, to be completely bikish!

We made this expedition even though I had said that I was going to go up to Camano Island today to buy a new-old motorcycle, so I could have a little more oomph than the scooter provides. Well, I woke up this morning and just knew that I had decided not to do it. As much fun as a little Honda 360 would be and as nice as it would make summer trips on one, the idea of having another vehicle to park and move around and insure and so forth was apparently a bit too much for my subconscious. So I cancelled and I think I'll just stick with ol' Ruby.

On the road again:
I spoke with Mighty Mel as she was making her way across Wisconsin and Minnesota today - she wants to try to make it to Mitchell, South Dakota by tonight, although I think she has given up her hope of making a 4:00 pm meeting in Bothell on Friday afternoon! (If she makes Mitchell, she'll still have 1400 miles or so to go in two days.) She sounded really good and happy to have gotten her stuff (which was made by her grandfather, not her uncle as I reported earlier). Give her a call on her cell phone if you get a minute over the next two days; she'd appreciate the break from the monotony of the heartland.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just a short one tonight

B2Keno = 13.2 / Streak = 3 go

First of all, I was a cool teacher today. One of my students had not handed in his final portfolio. I realized that it was just an oversight - I knew he had completed it and he attended the last class session; he just forgot to stick his folder in the box. So I emailed him and he found it buried in his backpack and beggedpleadedbeseeched me to let him hand it in late. So I did. And I even rode up to Bothell (well, drove 25%/rode 75%) to pick it up. Awwww. It was just a way to 23 miles in.

Second of all, Otis had her first male stranger-client, and he was a nice guy, and the massage went well, and it broke the Curse of the Creepy Guys.

And later we tried out a new-to-us pizza place, Palermo, with Dingo, and had a great ol' time!

Plus, Mel was in touch - she's doing great and is set to start heading back at 3:30 am (EST) tomorrow.

Coming soon: posts on actual topics!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Two in a row (and more)

B2Keno - 13.3 / Streak - 2 go

Boy, what a jam-packed day! I got up at my usual six-something, did the email & blog reading thing, and then headed out for a bike ride. Mathews Beach and back, 14.2 miles, and I was home (sweaty and rained-on) by 8:15. Yay, me!

I then had to take Otis to the Ridge, since her brother still has her car and she worked for Hi-Lai today. While I was out, I stopped at a coffee shop and graded final portfolios for a couple of hours. I returned home and had lunch before spending another couple of hours completing the last calculations for final grades for two classes, and getting in a few phone calls. Then I had to scoot back to Phinney and pick Otis up.

We headed downtown to Cost Plus, just for fun, and to look for curtains. We found some fun, but had no luck on the curtains. In a festive mood nonetheless, we splurged on dinner at - no lie - The Old Spaghetti Factory, and can report that it is every bit as mundane as you remember it. We were then off to Value Village in Crown Hill, where we once again did not find curtains (although Otis scored some neat summer clothes). It was still early, so we zoomed up to the Crest and caught a showing of Mrs. Palfey at The Claremont. It was a sweet, touching movie with some great performance.

Then it was home to a demanding neighbor-kitty. Maybe thunderstorms tonight - we hope!

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In case you were wondering what Mighty Mel is up to, she is in the middle of a trip to Northport, Michigan to retrieve some furniture that was hand-made by her late uncle. Never before has she so lived up to her name: she left Woodinville on Saturday morning driving alone in a borrowed truck, and by noon today (Monday) she had driven 2,000 miles to Manitowoc, WI. Oh, and then she took a four-hour ferry ride and drove another 120 miles or so to her destination. What could top that? Well, she's leaving Michigan on Wednesday morning so she can get back here by Friday night! My stars and garters! To show you just how nuts this is, here's a map of her route (click for WTF bigness):



When she gets in on Friday, Otis and I will be meeting her in Woodinville so that she doesn;t have to haul all the stuff up the stairs to her apartment by herself. If you're free, join us; we can even carpool.

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Farmer Scott has a busted pin. In telling me how he hurt his knee bad enough to inhibit getting in and out of his truck, Scott said in his usual matter-of fact way "I was running, and then I wasn't." Send him good energy, okay?

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Hey, if you don't think that you will have had enough socializing after the Solstice Parade, come on put to the RD for dinner. JJ is working parade day and can't make the festivities, but she's saving the evening for us. Come over early and we'll slap a DVD on the Big Wall or play some preprandial games.
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Once again, Blogger crapped out on me when publsihing this post and i had to rewrite the whole thing. Grrr. One of my comics-blogging coleagues has gotten so fed up with Blogger he moved to Wordpress. Anyone know anything about them?


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Full of vim and vigah

B2Keno = 13.3

I have to say that today started out somewhat grey, in atmosphere and in ambience. You see, I missed riding yesterday, because I was waiting for Otis to join me on an expedition, but then in the morning she walked seven miles with a massage buddy and pulled her popliteal or something, and we didn't ride.

So today I knew I really wanted to get some miles in, but it was misty and cool and not terribly inviting. Otis was heading off to Snohomish to do art with Kris-10, and I couldn't decide what to do or where to ride, and the slowly climbing B2K number was never far from my thoughts.

Thinking of that number, I realized that riding to Bothell had got me into the habit of thinking of my rides as 30-35 mile chunks: two or three expeditions a week, and I'm on pace. All I have to do is figure out where to expedate, and make time for it. And that's where my strategy was wrong.

The B2Keno number is a daily number, and since my average riding speed in town is about 14 mph, I could keep on pace with an hour or so of riding a day. And that's how I have decided to run out the rest of the summer: each morning, after tea and before my shower, I will jump on the bike and head out for an hour, rain or shine, happy or sad. I mean, I can blow an hour each morning just surfing the net, so it's not like I'll be taking time away form anything urgent. And this steady commitment will eat away at the B2K; if I have expeditions on top of that, they will just be gravy.

That thought thunk, I pulled on my shoes, got the nacvarro out of the shed, and took off. For a change, I headed southwest on the B-G instead of north, and found a route out to the locks and back that clocked in at 15.4 miles and 69 minutes riding time. Yay me!

If I can find a looping route to North Seattle CC that takes seven miles or so (direct it's only 2.3), I can even make my commute my daily ride four times a week.

So here's to a renewed attack on the 1,510 miles left!

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Short takes:

Otis really did do something to her leg yesterday. She's been limping and icing it and whatnot.

One of the expeditions we did make yesterday was to Dingo's new treatment space. It is lovely and I am sure she will thrive there.

One of the expeditions we didn't make yesterday was to West Seattle. A fellow put a Honda Elite 250 scooter on sale at 10:30 yesterday morning (this would be just like my red scooter but with a little more ooomph) and I wanted to check it out. I had a 3:00 appointment to see it and by that time it had already been taken. These models are rare and coveted, and I missed this shot at one.

Check out the activities blog for the upcoming events - you should have gotten an email, too

And speaking of wasting time surfing the net, here's a neat little optical illusion thingie, with a thematic connection to a significant fraction of our blogoship.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Crappy pictures of a great night

So, last night, Mary B, Dingo, J-Force and I took in Scotty Tuxedo's new show. (Otis kept the home fires burning with the elemental heat of her headache.)

We did the car-pool thing (Mary came to the RD and then we picked up Dingo; J met us at Post Alley) and scored a FREE parking space in Belltown on a Saturday night, Woo!

The Door was packed: some of the people looked suspiciously spiv-ish, but it was mostly a dinner crowd, with a good sprinkling of tourist types. The bartender was great, and after a bit of a stand, we found a table.

Scotty was working with accordionist Greg Adair, who both accompanied Scotty's acts and performed songs of his own, macabre little ditties that tended to remind me of Nightmare Before Christmas. It was a bit hard to follow the act, since the performances took place in both the dining room and the lounge, so there was some getting up and down on our parts. Call it participatory theatre.

Scotty was at the top of his form. Before a telescoped version of his usual stage show, he did a trapeze act with a Cabbage Patch doll as a partner. It was good to see Scotty get to use his physicality on stage (as it were) and the crowd ate it up, since it was both impressive and funny at the same time. Good stuff all around!

Click these crappy thumbnails for crappy large-size versions. The lighting was really rough to deal with.

Scotty dangling above diners


Mary B gets the "momma-go-to-poppa" bit


One last note: Walking back to the car after the show, we all of us felt soooo out of place among the thronging Friday night Belltown hipsters. It was a bit jarring to me to see that much money spent and that much energy expended by that many people on just having a good time. Ah, well, to each their own.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Malaise or ennui?

I have noticed a drop in the blog-energy lately. Johnbai hasn't posted since Monday, unless you count his "dead CDs" lists. Just Jon hasn't posted since Sunday, Wendy since Saturday, and Neds and Quiet Girl since Sunday last week.

Even in my alter-ego in the comics blog orbit, I have seen that there are three or four routine bloggers, some of them big-time, talking about going on hiatus or giving it up.

Have we said all we need to say? Has the blogosphere reached critical mass? Is an implosion coming, a shakeout? Are we on the cusp of a great advance in evolution?

I dunno, but I have been told that blogging about blogging is a sin, so I will stop now.

While Otis was at work yesterday (for Hi Lai and then giving Reiki to a dog), I went asploring the city. I tracked down J-Force in her native habitat, and found out that she didn't drop off the earth, she just hasn't been as wired as she has in the past. We hope to see her soon. I went to University Honda to look for a cheap scooter and found this instead. Tempting, too tempting. I looked at and measured a bunch of chairs to replace my too-tall stool and then decided just to raise the height of the desk instead. That inspiration came from Dingo, who met me at Piecora's to while away some afternoon hours. And I even got some work done.

And I don't think we could manage anything like this, but I think we should all check this out for the Solstice Parade this year. (If nothing is there, enter wings in the search box.)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bollywood lite

I tripped over a cool site while wandering among the internets: you can take a (really) short clip from BombayTV and put your own subtitles to it. Here are my two short-short films:


I'm tagging anyone who reads this to make another one and send me the link!

Help, I'm being edited!

First of all, Dingo has correctly corrected my list of books for my new class. It is indeed The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick to which I was referring. I don't know where "tower" came from but I don't think the error was random; the New York Times has made the same mistake (see question six in this quiz). Anyway, it's a great book and I'm looking forward to teaching with it.

Second of all, some anonymous commenter has beaten me to the punch of promoting Scotty's new show this Friday. Here's a link to Scotty's blog, with pictures and stuff, and if you're too lazy to click, here's the full text of his flogmail:

I just wanted to say hello and wish you all a happy summer and invite you to one of my upcoming shows. This is one that I'm especially excited about and happy to recommend. The show is this Friday at the Pink Door at 9:00pm. The show is completely free of charge.

It is a very special show for a couple of reasons. One is that this is the first time for me to collaborate with Greg Adair of the Moon Penny Opera and Circus Contraption, although he is a long time friend and role model. As far as I know, Greg is the pioneer of the Stanislavsky approach to Clown, a method which I learned from him and have been using for years. He is the composer of a large number of original masterpieces, each one as heartwarming and twisted as the last, and you don't want to miss a second of this event.

In addition, I'll be doing my long-time cabaret act, but also presenting my new autobiographical mop and bucket love story, a fifteen second performance of Hamlet, and the world debut of my Flying Spumonis Trapeze Act!

Add to that the fact that the Pink Door is the coolest little venue in Seattle; tucked away behind an unmarked Pink Door in the Pike Place Market, featuring great food and the coolest mural of Pierrot I've ever seen, a permanent trapeze, and a stage shaped like a baby grand piano, and you have yourself some reasons to come!

The show starts at 9:00 but if you come a little early you'll be sure to get some seats and have a chance to eat before the show starts. Feel free to bring a camera or a video camera if you have one to help me document this milestone of my career. Scotty Walsh and Greg Adair, Live Behind the Pink Door.
Do we want to meet somewhere beforehand?

Interlude: Because this is such a text-heavy post, here's an image, for Johnbai:




We now resume:

Third of all, Soapy's Birthday was celebrated in grand style last night. Thousands of people thronged Broadway and spontaneous demonstrations sprang up all across Capitol Hill; mounted police had to be called in to control the crowds. Actually, I'm guessing at that stuff, but given the size of the group at The Garage when Otis and I stopped by to give our best wishes, I wouldn't be surprised. Happy Birthday, Steve!

We couldn't stay long, because Otis was up against deadlines again, and after working late last night she will be working most of the day - and she has a massage client, too! For me, today = go to school early to get started on final grading and then have The Last Class of the Quarter. (I am actually looking forward to a summer that will be busier than this spring was - I find I manage my work more effectively when I am busy.)

N.B.: I typed this whole post out and Blogger ate it. I had to rewrite it from scratch, just like historian Thomas Carlyle "had to rewrite The French Revolution after he had sent the manuscript to John Stuart Mill, whose maid burned it - the only copy - for waste paper." Well, maybe not just like that, but it still took a few minutes.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Fun with PVC redux

So, Otis is grading papers all day today, and I'm looking around for stuff to do that isn't grading papers, and I think about cleaning out the shed. I says to myself, man, it's a mess in there, we've just been throwing everything in there and I wish I had some shelving for it, because it's all cluttered with suitcases and storage boxes and that old PVC pipe and... and...

Wait a minute!

Remember Fun with PVC Version 1.0? Those old PVC pipes don't need storage - they are storage!

Calling upon all my design and drafting expertise, I drew up these meticulous plans based on the available materials. My PVC cutter actually worked without a hitch, and in short order I had the requisite lengths cut. A few minutes of playing with giant tinker-toys, and voila, one custom-made storage rack, suitable for, um, storing things!





Seriously, it will let us get at the stored stuff easier while maintaining a clear space for the bikes to move in and out. Yay, PVC!

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I went down to North Seattle today to check out the class I will be teaching over the summer, and especially to find out which books have already been ordered. The readers for the class are Brave New World, The Man in the High Tower, and Lathe of Heaven, all of which I have read and feel cool about teaching. I need to find a movie or two with the same theme - called "conscious evolution" in the course summary - and I'm good to go.

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The guest-kitty caught a fly and ate it today. Otis was torn between being impressed by Kitty's hunting prowess and being affronted at her lack of respect for our vegetarian household.

Who trusted God was love indeed
And love Creation's final law -
Tho' nature, red in tooth and claw
With ravine, shriek'd against his creed -

Monday, June 05, 2006

Truth and dare

B2Keno = 12.8

So, I tried to blog this morning but the Blogger was broken. Hmpf.

Yesterday was pretty much the way we anticipated it. After brekkies, we walked down to Cafe Maree near Green Lake ( a place where I once spent a long afternoon grading papers with Wheylona) to grade papers. We had some lunch at the lake and then came home for more bidness and grading.

But then, after leftovers for dinner, we walked down to the Guild 45th to catch An Inconvenient Truth. (Well, actually, we walked to the Neptune to see it, but it wasn't playing there, so we walked to the Guild from there.) It is a great documentary - and has more in it about Gore than the previews let on. Worth seeing.

Today was the penultimate day of class at Cascadia, and just in time for quarter's end I had one of those one-door-closes-another-opens deals: after losing one of the four classes I had at Antioch, I was offered two classes for summer at North Seattle. (Ironically, the classes are available because another adjunct got a full-time job at Highline.) I said yes because

(a) The classes are two sections of English 102- Speculative fiction: conscious evolution in film and literature. Not that I know what that means, but it sounds like fun.
(b) The classes meet Monday through Thursday back to back starting at 9:30 am, so the schedule is workable and I still have three-day weekends.
(c) Summer quarter is only eight weeks long.
(d) It's the Benjamins, man! Seattle District pays the best.

So, that was a welcome bolt from the blue, even if it means a little less time for playing this summer.

Anyway, today was the last day of class, and my students did group presentations. One group chose to do a short substance abuse awareness morality play called (I kid you not) Drugs Are Bad. It was actually a pretty clever skit (that included personifications of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, and cocaine) and they supported it with some direct instruction, but overall it was like some kind of demented D.A.R.E. program put at an alternative high school.

And weirdness continued on the way home from class. One of my sneaker laces came loose, and the pedal started winding it up, so I had to backpedal to get loose (not the first time I've had to do that, eh?) and stop to tie my sneakers. Then, shortly afterwards, I rode through a bunch of gnats and swallowed some. I grabbed my water bottle to take a drink and rinse my mouth and when I went to put it back in the rack, I dropped it and had to go back to get it. A little while after that, I went over a bump and my pannier just flew right off and i had to go back to get it. Plus, everybody kept getting in the way today, and i had stop stop at lights I never get caught at. Bad Burke-Gilman karma, I guess.

Hey, check out the group blog for some discussion on event and let's make some good juju.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Road trip!

So, a little while after posting that last gifapalooza, Otis and I fed the cat that we don't have and drove down to Wallingford. We were about getting the oil changed on the Ford before the road trip, and at the recommendation of Dingo we went to the 45th street Jiffy Lube (with a coupon, no less). It was a fine and dandy experience: the process was cheap and quick and the guy didn't oversell the extras - and even actually told me the car didn't need a new air filter yet. Cool beans.

We then drove the newly-lubed car down to Oregon to see Just Jon. The I-5 corridor is now even longer than befoere, since Jon lives in BFE. We hit one major nasty squall near Olympia, and the rest of the trip alternated rain and gonna-rain. We got down to Monmouth in the afternoon, and you can check out Independence Days to see what we did. (Editorial comment: that movie was lame, lame, lame! The visit, however, was the swellest.)

On the way up, we stopped to see the Jacobses and their burly offspring. Nice spread of victuals, nice chat, nice time.

We hit the road quickly to make time to stop at IKEA on the way back. It was a mostly fruitless trip, since we didn't bring enough measurements to make the decisions on most of the purchases we had planned to make. We picked up some doodads and called it good.

It has been a long day, so I think we may skip the Door tonight, since tomorrow is responding-to-papers day. Ah, well.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Easy money

Last week I signed up for a focus group on Craig's List. Something about over-thirty renters, a 90-minute interview, and a $100 thank-you envelope, so I sent an e-mail and was selected.

So I head down there yesterday afternoon at 2:45, to a small office block on Eastlake near Julia's, park for free, take the elevator up, and check in. The receptionist gives me a little standing card with my name on it and tells me to look through the magazines in the lobby and pull out two pictures: one that represents an apartment I could reasonably rent and one that represents what "downtown living" means to me.

I sit in the lobby leafing through Home Decor and Apartment Life. I pull out a picture of one of the units from the Queen Anne High School conversion and another that shows a skyline and views.

A few minutes later the receptionist announces that they have "over-recruited" for the session but that everyone showed up; she will call out names for people to follow her: no name, stay in the lobby.

The she says "Matthew, Mark, Luke, John" (or maybe it was "John, Paul, George, Ringo") and these four other mooks follow her into this little conference room and I am left alone in the lobby with my clippings.

She comes back to me and says that I will fill out a few surveys and get my thank-you and then I can go.

She gives me a clipboard and I answer questions on a few forms about which is more important, a hot tub or a doorman, and how much I would pay for parking, stuff like that, while she photocopies my driver's license. (I think the survey was for that big new builiding on Denny, the one that will have the Whole Foods in it.)

I give her my surveys and tear sheets; she gives me back my license and an envelope with two Grants.

I leave and I'm back in the RD by 3:25.

Not bad.
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I also had a nice lunch with Sailor Sue yesterday. Long time, no see and all that, and her hair is long (for her), but all's well in the wacky world of higher ed administration and she promised to come to a movie soon. We had yummy Thai at an unassuming little place near Aurora. I do have an application in for a full-time position at Shoreline, but since Sue is now a Science Dean instead of an English teacher, she doesn't have as much influence as otherwise might be the case., and that's now why I went anyway, but it would be cool to work at the same place.

BTW: If you are heading north of Seattle, stay off Aurora. It's a construction nightmare from about the city limits on, for a few miles.

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And finally, the conclusion of Annoying Animated Gif Week:

Returning to our original themes, we have dancing:



We have superheroes:



and we have the baddest dancing superhero of all!



Thank you, thank you! I'll be here all week - be sure to tip your waitress!