In the past seven days, I’ve been handed the secret of getting free beer at a rock concert, appeared on National Public Radio, learned swing dance from a Russian and taken my first steps towards being a motion graphics guru.
Sunday: Sumo East and West at the Michigan Theater. An opportunity to meet filmmakers, friends of Nancy’s who have made a feature length documentary. I liked the filmmakers more than the film. Tara, who is front of house manager, sorted me out a staff card after I said the door person always gives me a funny look when I just walk in there. Back home, I started my new After Effects training book intending to work through every chapter until I am a guru.
Monday: Brian Wilson, also at the Michigan. Last of the Beach Boys. We always play the Beach Boys when we go to California (Laura has a very eclectic taste in music). So, Brian Wilson. Full house. Three middle aged dudes bobbed their balding heads in time to the music in perfect unison one row in front of us while their teenage son tried to hide inside the hood of his fleece. Somehow they kept it up for the whole show but the kid left in the interval.
Can’t decide which bit I liked best, although free beer thanks to flashing the new staff card was a bonus. Good Vibrations was awesome, with that combination of rock, electronica, close harmony singing and the wall of sound quality. Brian’s new stuff from the new album was “out there”. We bought the album anyway, although it wasn’t as immediately appealing as the David Byrne latest.
Brian looked completely spaced, like his band was holding him together, but they still gave an excellent two hour show. Surfing USA was a tear to the eye moment, not overdone, not schmaltzy but like you can understand this nation if only fleetingly, just for that moment. Oh, and they sang Barbara Ann, which is probably only funny to me and my sister because our neighbour in Mayflower Avenue used to be Barbara Chan. Guess what we used to sing. I texted Elizabeth to share this high point with her.
Tuesday: Laura at WBO dinner, me taking Sam to soccer then keeping boys from killing each other and stressing out (them, not me) yet still doing their homework. They really do seem to get into the whole “performance art” thing whenever possible. Jack was in full Drama Queen mode having left his homework at his dad’s yet he’s still unable to drag himself away from TV long after to pay attention to his problem. Problem resolved by getting him phoning around friends to get the questions.
Wednesday: Leadership Ann Arbor, first day induction at Chamber of Commerce. Talked to loads and loads of people. Network network network. Out for dinner in the evening at The Earle, one of A2’s finest restaurants. We used one of our few remaining ‘newcomer’ coupons and were suitably well fed.
Thursday: woke up to the sound of me. Yes, you’ve all said, “He’s got the face for radio.” Well, now it’s proven. Russ and I recorded Cinema Chat, the weekly NPR film feature, with host David Fair a couple of weeks ago and my program went out this week. I liked me more at the beginning of the show than me at the end. I was more dynamic to start with, then meandered a bit (much like these blogs) although I didn’t lose the plot entirely.
Thursday evening was the visual effects guru talk at Rackham auditorium at the UofM, mentioned elsewhere. Rackham interior looks very much the learned academic institution, by the way. An instant movie set. Marble floors everywhere, art deco touches and the urinals are so classy, they have a pedal to flush them. Which is nice.
Friday: private swing dance lesson in Saline (pronounced “Celine”) with waif-like Russian instructor, Adriana. Learned three-step, three-step, rock step and some turns. Still don’t feel confident about this new dance as I’m totally concentrating on my footwork and trying to keep that in time to the music but it’s a start. Should feel fitter, sleep better and all those good things if we keep it up.
Presidential debate in the evening. Bush and Kerry looking far more alert. It was style versus substance as Bush played to the bread and circuses crowd, Kerry appealed to the intellectuals. Yes, they’re all politicians, therefore they must be lying. One blog noted that Bush came across as surly and spoiled. Funny, that’s how the rest of the world sees the USA. Funnier, most people here aren’t actually like that at all. It’s not funny at all, is it.
Which reminds me, our new wheelie bin was delivered by the city this week. It came with instructions. And I don’t mean a sheet, I mean a manual. What kind of people need an instruction manual to operate a wheelie bin? Really. You can see why so many people in this country have problems selecting a leader.
Saturday: Sam soccer game in the morning. Spoke to Colin, former Brit who just became US citizen so he can vote against GW. Colin thinks dancing is just for dating. I disagree. Sam’s team lost but it was a good match and only one goal in it, ending 3-2.
U of M football–The Wolverines–versus Minnesota in the afternoon. Wolverines won with new freshman quarterback, Chad Henne, and there was much rejoicing. Hard to believe how big this sport is here, college football that is, when the kids are so young. They really are just kids, some of them were only in high school last year.
Swing dance at the Pittsfield Grange in the evening. Another lesson beforehand, not private this time and no Russian. Instructor got us doing more of the three-step thing, then taught the timing of leading (which is good to know) and then kind of dropped the three-step thing so it all becomes shuffling but keeping the rock step. Rock step seems to be the key to swing. We danced for a good two hours or more, until my legs ached. Various speeds, various songs. Can’t help counting the beats in Russian accent now.
Sunday: legs ache a bit. Finished second chapter of AE book, feels like I’m make some kind of progress. Went round the corner to see Will Smith do the I, Robot thing on the big screen. Not much there from the Asimov books. On the other hand, it was a reasonable action movie and, frankly–aside from the famous ‘three laws of robotics’–Asimov wrote a lot of boring crap. No wonder they changed it.
House is looking particularly beautiful as the trees change colour and provide this red, gold and green backdrop. Squirrels chatter and continue to gorge themselves on our windfalls. Next weekend: Chicago for Laura’s high school reunion. I’m looking forward to this, for many reasons, not least of which is the nosiness factor of seeing inside US schools and comparing to many many movies. There’s also a homecoming parade, football game and dancing. In Russian, natchwarly.