5

Tales From Elementary School: To Vladivostok and Beyond…

Day two of Tuesdays at the elementary school, check. I also led a lesson on Thursday, but today’s turned out to be pretty epic.

In going along with our theme of Russia for social studies, I began where I left off last week, at the end of the Czars and the beginning of the Soviet Union. However, I wanted the kids to get some perspective on just how large Russia really was, so I introduced them to the Trans-Siberian Railway. I know that these kids love anything that has to do with transportation, so it was perfect. We went around the room and made guesses on a) how many miles of train tracks there were, and b) how much time it would take to get from end to end, Moscow to Vladivostok. Some of the guesses were silly, but most were pretty on target. Miranda (again, all names for privacy), one of the youngest students, guessed that the train was 6,000 miles long, which was the closest of anyone; the actual distance, according to my source, was 5,772 miles, but I checked a few more places, and the number seems to be closer to 6,152. Still, in the ballpark. The actual time it takes to travel the whole way is 8 days, and two students got extremely close in their guesses, choosing 7.5 days. Those two? Kate, and…Miranda. I don’t know about you, but if it involves guessing numbers, I want to be on Miranda’s team.

Next, I wondered aloud how long of a trip that would be, so it was time for a class trip. We all lined up in a train, and I used my phone’s stopwatch to time how long it took all of us to march around the block and back to the school, and then see how long it took, and then see how many trips around the school it would take to equal a one-way trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. The answer? 1,152. That’s a lot of walking for little legs.

After a quick break, we headed into the Multi-Purpose Room for Part II of the lecture. We left behind the train and fast-forwarded to the 1950s/1960s, the birth of the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and the Space Race. Crystal surprised me by knowing what the Cold War was, and explained it to the rest of the class. We then talked a little about the first people to go to space, and the first to land on the moon. Then, it was time to do…a space dance!

First, I instructed everyone to find their own space in the room, and crouch into a ball. Then, I turned on “Cold War” by Janelle Monae – a perfect backdrop song for this activity – and we went through the stages of space flight. We built our rockets, attached our engines, put on our seatbelts, flew through space, landed on the moon, experienced zero-G, re-entered our pods, strapped in, and flew back to Earth, landing just as the final drumbeats hit on the song.

Then, we reconvened in the classroom to talk about the breakup of the Soviet Union, and I broke the kids up into five groups of three, and each group got a packet of info about a country which came from the Soviet Union, and were assigned to make a poster about it, following the diagramming plan (a satellite diagram) that I did on the board about Russia. For this project, I did research on five interesting countries: Azerbaijan, Latvia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Each group got an info packet and an iPad to look up pictures of things like national symbols and flags. Marla helped the Ukraine group with their poster, which included horses and the Chernobyl disaster. The Azerbaijan group worked on their own to draw an incredibly detailed Azeri flag, and made a border of flames, and a cup of tea. I flitted between the three other groups – the Latvia group had a slow start, I think they ended up with a flag and a few other shapes; the Kazakhstan group, consisting of three kids who I wasn’t sure would work together well, came up with a cool poster full of apples and eagles; and the Kyrgyzstan group drew flags, airplanes, snow, tulips, and their national animal, the snow leopard. We only had enough time for Azerbaijan and Ukraine to present, but we’ll finish it up next week.

As for me, I learned a lot today as well. Dealing with the train game taught me to handle outdoor activities with care, and that I need to figure out more about how rocket ships work. Also, when doing guessing games, everyone gets one shot, no answer-changing. And of course, make sure the kids know why Azerbaijan is the Land of Fire, and not just what it is.

Oh, and someone in the class wants to be me when they grow up. So that’s kind of a big deal.

2

The Long-Awaited ATHE Recap

Now that I’ve recovered from what was an insane week of travel, here’s a recap of this year’s ATHE conference, my 7th and the 30th to occur, overall.

Day 1 – Thursday

Caught the 10:30 AM bus down to Chicago, and once there, waded through the heat to the Palmer House. Within minutes of stepping into the hotel, I saw Iris and her daughter, Angela, who had just flown from Taiwan and were trying to caffeinate. I checked in, rode up to the 14th floor, put my stuff wherever I could find a spot, and changed outfits for the Dramaturgy Business meeting. So many regulars were there, and a few new faces. Bryan and Carrie led the meeting, and I sat between Natalie and Martine. After, I went upstairs to change clothes again for the keynote and opening reception. Lydia Diamond, the playwright, spoke very well, and they had FREE WINE AND PIZZA at the opening reception, where I got so many hugs from so many folks I hadn’t seen in forever, and of course Iris and I got our conference selfie with red wine, which we’ve been doing since before the word selfie was invented. Also at the reception, I finally met my roommates for the weekend, Kate, Carrie, and Rebecca. I made it an early-ish night to get some writing done, along with Rebecca, while Kate and Carrie went out to a social.

Day 2 – Friday

Early rise for 8 AM panels. We managed to get ready for the day without getting in each other’s way, and I started off what would become the motif of this conference, choosing the wrong panel to go to. I started off at a panel on theatre of the Middle East, which ended up being not so interesting, so I stole out for an Asian theatre panel and just missed Jasmine’s paper. At least I got to say hello to her and meet her new baby. Then, I saw Jill Dolan in the hall, and she asked if I was going to the panel on Pulse, but I decided to go to a directing panel on Brecht instead.

Note to future self: always listen to Jill Dolan.

I got lunch on my own over at Freshii, and then headed to the All-Conference Plenary. I could only stay about half the time though because I needed a break. I ended up skipping the next round of sessions, which in hindsight was a good thing because the one I was planning on going to ended up getting cancelled. So, at 4 PM, I went to the Debs Panel (where I was actually on time for once, go me!) and saw three wonderful dramaturgy presentations. Cindy and co. really do a great job at picking quality panelists – after all, they chose me 7 years ago 😉 Next, I went to a panel on food and performance led by 3 alums of my department, Niccole, Kristen, and Megan, and had a great time there. It ended up being another pack-it-in night. I can’t remember where I had dinner (or if I even had it).

Day 3 – Saturday

Panels started at 8:15, but I was fully attentive at Natalie’s panel, “Babies R Us: Laboring Bodies in Academia,” in which female professors and grad students talked about being a mother and academic at the same time. It was a really warm atmosphere in the room, and it was great to hear personal stories that you wouldn’t normally hear on the day-to-day. After the panel, Natalie was officially finished with her duties at the conference, so we escaped the premises and took a walk to the Chicago Cultural Center, where we saw some really cool art exhibits, and then had lunch at Peach and Green. It was so nice to be able to catch up with her; we talk online all the time, but I hadn’t really gotten to sit down with her since probably Orlando, which was 3 years ago. We got back in time for the 30th anniversary celebration, and I sat with Bryan, Carrie, Cindy, and Rachel as we toasted ATHE with champagne and a delicious layer cake. The rest of the panels that day were a blur – dramaturgy follow up meeting, a panel on theatre and TV, and then a quick lie-down before one of the best parts of every ATHE, DNO (Dramaturg’s Night Out). It was huge this year, and we practically took over Berghoff. The food was really good, and our waiter was hilarious. Thanks to our table pic, I now know who all was there: me, LaRonika, Annalisa, Cindy, Jim, Bryan, Karen Jean, Martine, Brad, two faces I can’t quite make out, and newcomers Jessica, Rachel, and Alex. I sat between Annalisa and Alex and got to know them better over salmon and spaetzle.

Most importantly, that night I sat down and resolved to finish my prelim writing. At 1 AM, in a corner of the 4th floor of the hotel, I passed the 20 page mark, and hit save on my final draft at 1:30 AM. I didn’t carve my name anywhere, but I did take a picture of the spot, which is why there is a random photo of a table on my phone.

So that’s done now.

Day 4 – Sunday

I woke up refreshed, knowing that my prelims were done, and as a reward, skipped the first session of the day for a nice breakfast. We checked out of our room, and then I headed to some acting panels, just for fun. At the first one, we played some games I already knew, plus a few I didn’t (Hi-5 or Death and Move Me). The second acting panel was a little less interactive than the first, but it was led by Margie who is just this electric ball of energy. I capped off my conference with lunch at Le Pain Quotidien with Iris and Angela – a nice bookend to the trip.

There were so many people who were there that I didn’t get to say hi to, but there’s always next year in Vegas.

Just when I was retrieving my bag from the hotel and contemplating whether it had been a successful ATHE or not, THE Holly Hughes (!) appeared out of nowhere and we had a big hug before I stepped out of the Palmer House.

So I think that pretty much cemented the weekend as a successful ATHE.

6

Soothing Summer: Cutting Paper

I couldn’t sleep last night, so apparently I spent two hours editing one of my prelims. I have yet to reopen the file, but I’m hoping I didn’t do too much damage.

Yesterday, I got a care package in the mail from my mom. I love her, but she always sends the most random things. This time around, she sent me one thing that I actually needed – a T-shirt that I ruined in the wash that she treated with something really strong to get the stain out. In addition, she sent a huge bag of Twizzlers (but the one flavor I don’t like), some coupons, and some coins wrapped up in containers. She also inexplicably wrapped everything in little bits of glossy newspaper. So, this morning, as I was drinking my coffee and listening to Jimmy Kimmel’s interviews last night with JoJo and Jordan from The Bachelorette, I had to search for something constructive to do. Finding nothing, I found one of the inexplicably crumpled pieces of paper, a pair of scissors, and just started cutting random patterns in it. I ended up with both a lovely if somewhat asymmetrical star and a new distraction, or at least a way to soothe myself.

Here are some awesome paper cuttings I found while slacking:

paper-cutting-monogram

It might look like a painting, but it’s actually a very intricately cut birth announcement by paper artist Emma Boyes. See more at All Things Paper.

papercraft art from one sheet of paper peter callesen 17 20 Sculptures Cut from a Single Piece of Paper

Artist Peter Callesen does these amazing models, from a skeleton to a pagoda to this bridal gown, from just one piece of paper. See more at Twisted Sifter.

idea for child project

How about one of the world’s great landmarks like the Coliseum, or this nifty paper castle from PhotoWebs?

paper-cutting-ideas

This intricate 3D piece comes from LifeChilli.

scher_motherdaughter1.jpg

A scene like this mother and baby is called scherenschnitte. There’s even a video tutorial here at the website of Dot and Mae.

free vector christmas tree paper cutting different style

This one comes from Alt Free Downloads, and it looks like something I could actually do.

And hey, being a paper artist is a more legitimate occupation than 75% of the show’s contestants, so there’s that.

7

August Blog Project: Soothing Summer!

Summer doesn’t happen very often in Madison, Wisconsin, and it’s practically over as soon as it began. Today, the first of August, is the beginning of the end; prelims are due in 2 weeks, and school starts 2 weeks after that. I wanted to start a new, fun, multi-person blogsperiment or something, but I think I found something that will a) substitute, for now, and b) encourage me to post more, with better quality.

The idea? Soothing Summer Series.

Every day (or when I remember/get the idea), I will post something that eases my tension and pain and helps my mental/emotional health.

For today, August 1, I choose…The Golden Girls. Two hours every night on Hallmark channel is good for the heart, soul, and whatever bodily process causes you to laugh. My grandmother loved the show, she always said that “they always have something interesting to say.” I don’t know about that, but despite being an 80s-90s show, it’s still relevant, and, in a ironic twist, not dated for its age. The episode that’s on right now is the one where Rose, Blanche, and Dorothy all get the flu before this big charity banquet, and includes the epic line “if they can make cinnamon-flavored dental floss, how come they can’t cure the flu?” If you want to be wrapped up in some grandmotherly warmth but still laugh at jokes about sex, I prescribe The Golden Girls.

My all time favorite exchange is from the episode entitled “Stand By Your Man.”

Morning. ROSE and DOROTHY are sitting in the kitchen. SOPHIA enters, all dressed up.

SOPHIA: Come on, get dressed, we’re going to be late for temple.

DOROTHY: Ma, it’s Tuesday…and we’re Catholic.

SOPHIA: Oh. ::beat:: In that case, bacon and eggs.

Probably the funniest part of that sequence is the fact that the actresses who played Sophia and Dorothy (Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur) were both Jewish in real life.

Here’s an animated gif from the show to entertain you.

Needy Sexy People – the alternate title for TLC’s first album

15

The National Convention Lineup Generator

For the last few weeks, at least here in America, everything in the news has been about the Republican National Convention, which concluded with Donald “The Human Cheeto” Trump being nominated, and currently, we’re in the middle of the Democratic National Convention, where Hillary “After a 16-Year Break, Ready To Pick Up Where She Left Off” Clinton is the first female major-party candidate in American history. The conventions have been filled with speeches by great American orators such as Melania Trump, Antonio Sabato Jr., and Sarah Silverman, as well as booing, protesting, and awkward out-of-sync dancing. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we Americans don’t get to share the fun with our friends and neighbors from other nations, because a) most of us can’t name more than 5 foreign countries, b) most of you are too busy dealing with actual issues in your own countries, and c) most of you are just happy not to have it thrust in your face 24/7.

But that’s all changed now, because I’ve created a way for you to have your own three-ring circus, wherever you are in the world, with…

The National Convention Lineup Generator

Disclaimer: This might take a while for you to do, but I’ll try not to make it too complicated.

Your convention will be four days, each with a different topic.

Step 1: Take the first four letters of your first name. These will be your topics.

A – Angry

B – Bake

C – Confused

D – Drink

E – Emotional

F – Fart

G – Gassy

H – Hiccup

I – Irritated

J – Juicy

K – Kill

L – Loopy

M – Married

N – Nae Nae

O – Oblong

P – Pregnant

Q – Queer

R – Regular

S – Sigh

T – Twerk

U – Urinate

V – Vomit

W – Wardrobe Malfunction

X – X-Rated

Y – Yawn

Z – Zucchini

Mine would be: Juicy, Angry, Confused, and Oblong.

Step 2: Next, you need someone to open your convention by singing your country’s national anthem? Who will take the honors? It’s the first number in your address.

1 – Madonna

2 – Celine Dion

3 – A chorus of one-armed schoolchildren

4 – Mongolian throat singers

5 – Your least favorite aunt

6 – Roseanne Barr

7 – Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast

8 – The cast of Big Brother

9 – The Baghdad Gay Men’s Choir

Mine would be my least favorite aunt. Joy.

Step 3: Now, you need some speakers! Day 1 will be a female speaker, determined by the final number of the year you were born.. Day 2 will be a male speaker, determined by the last digit of your phone number. Day 3 will be a private citizen, determined by your birth month.

Female Speaker:

0 – Theresa May

1 – Miss Universe 2016, Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines

2 – Malala Yousafzai

3 – Angela Merkel

4 – Conchita Wurst

5 – Taylor Swift

6 – Kate Middleton

7 – Dame Maggie Smith

8 – Nicole Kidman

9 – Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Male Speaker:

0 – Kermit the Frog

1 – Vladimir Putin

2 – Lin-Manuel Miranda

3 – Rafael Nadal

3 – Bill Cosby

4 – Pope Francis

6 – Lance Armstrong

7 – Prince George of Cambridge

8 – PSY

9 – Jedward

Private Citizen

January – Your kindergarten teacher

February – A garbage collector

March – A bag lady

April – The exterminator

May – The head of the local nudist colony

June – The kid next door

July – Your long-lost twin

August – Your grandmother

September – Your accountant

October – A local prostitute

November – That annoying guy at the gym

December – Someone who just walked in off the street

Step 4: Now, each of your speakers need topics. Your first speaker will talk about teaching our children about [the date of your birth]. Your second speaker will talk about the dangers to our society presented by [the date of your first blog post] and your third speaker will talk about what we really need is [the date of birth of your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/best friend/life partner take your pick]

1 – Selfies

2 – Rollerskating

3 – Plagiarism

4 – ISIS

5 – Beauty tutorials on YouTube

6 – Game show hosts

7 – AshleyMadison.com

8 – Photoshop

9 – Medical marijuana

10 – Store-brand knockoff Oreo cookies

11 – The 2016 Olympics

12 – Picking your nose and eating it

13 – Zumba

14 – Sweatshirts for dogs

15 – Broccoli

16 – Emojis

17 – Doritos

18 – Pokemon Go

19 – Laser hair removal

20 – Sweet potato fries

21 – The metric system

22 – Hand-me-down bridesmaid dresses

23 – Spaghetti

24 – Adult diapers

25 – Cinnamon-flavored dental floss

26 – Peeing in the swimming pool

27 – Lumberjacks

28 – The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

29 – Nuclear warheads

30 – Miniature golf

31 – Babies

Step 5: Finally, it’s your turn to shine. You speak, and then what happens? Look at the time: it’s whatever hour it is, AM or PM.

1 – ::crickets::

2 – Someone starts a slow clap

3 – The crowd joins hands for an emotional chorus of “Call Me Maybe”

4 – Someone throws a bra at you

5 – Someone throws rotten vegetables at you

6 – A fire breaks out and everyone runs for their lives.

7 – You pass gas loudly into the microphone and blame it on a staffer.

8 – You tell everyone to open their hymnals to page 29 and lead the congregation in singing “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” followed by communion and a bake sale.

9 – You tell everyone that they get a new car!

10 – You put on your jet pack and do aerial stunts above the crowd.

11 – Fireworks go off, scaring the bejeezus out of a bunch of cats in the crowd.

12 – You go “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

Now, welcome to…

The National That’s So Jacob Convention

Day 1 – “Make America Juicy Again”

The national anthem will be sung by Jacob’s least favorite aunt.

Headliner: Dame Maggie Smith, “Teaching Our Children about The Metric System.”

Day 2 – “Make America Angry Again”

Headliner: Rafael Nadal, “The Dangers of Miniature Golf to Our Society”

Day 3 – “Make America Confused Again”

Headliner: A local prostitute, “What We Really Need: Lumberjacks.”

Day 4 – “Make America Oblong Again”

That’s So Jacob accepts the nomination, and…some fireworks go off, scaring the bajeezus out of the cats in the crowd.

Your results may vary.

Enjoy!

11

Masterpiece YouTube: Team StarKid, “The Trail to Oregon!”

Happy July 4th, y’all! I haven’t shared a fun YouTube in almost a whole year (September 30th, 2015), so I figured I’d share one of the most American things of all time (or what should be): musical theatre mixed with American history, so…here’s the full cast recording of Hamilton!

Just kidding, and yes, I am sick of hearing people obsess over it, it’s kind of like…have you ever seen a musical before? Ever? Anyway, here’s another fun musical.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 22: Team Starkid, “The Trail to Oregon!” (2015)

Any true American who grew up in the 1990s played Oregon Trail, the original educational, low-graphics game designed to teach kids about Manifest Destiny but mostly ended up teaching kids how to shoot a buffalo, die of dysentery, and an excuse to make up obscene family names.

I remember I was scared of the game when I first encountered it in fourth grade, because the trend was to name your characters after your family members and friends, and I got it in my head that if you died in the game, that meant you died for real, or were going to die soon, which led to many, many nightmares about my family members being buried in the Wyoming wilderness or eaten by wolves. Eventually, though, I got over that silly fear and joined everyone else in making sure that Jelly Head, Pantyhose Nose, Donkey, and Princess Bunny make it to the Willamette Valley. And if they didn’t, oh well, at least you could write a dirty epitaph on their 8-bit tombstone.

But enough about nostalgia, back to the video. Team StarKid, the University of Michigan-based student acting troupe behind A Very Potter Musical and its sequels came up with The Trail to Oregon!, a brilliant choose-your-own musical adventure that eventually made it off-Broadway. Five characters play the basic family members your game gives you: the dimwitted Father (Jeff Blim), the stressed-out Mother (Rachael Soglin), obnoxious Son (Lauren Lopez, AKA Draco Malfoy from AVPM), easily-distracted Daughter (Jamie-Lyn Beatty, AKA Ginny Weasley from AVPM), and stereotypical oldster Grandpa (Corey Dorris), who doubles as Cletus Jones. The remainder of the parts, including a deformed ox, a fast-talking general store owner, and a horny bandit, are played by Joey Richter, AKA Ron Weasley from AVPM.

If you have two hours, or even if you don’t, it’s worth a watch for all the witty lyrics and low-budget fun. You even get to pick who dies at the end: I’ve only clicked on the Mother one and the Daughter one, but eventually I’ll watch the other three.

My favorite numbers are the two that open the show, “Gone to Oregon,” especially with all the bad rhyming, and “Independence,” a perfect selection for July 4th, especially with the “YMCA” tribute towards the end. Even though the talk of it being a “family vacation” is a little cringey – it was actually a complete lifestyle change, it’s not as if they were going to take tacky tourist photos and then turn back around and head back to Illinois, although that would be an interesting twist. The only part where it sagged for me was the story line with the Daughter and the bandit, I felt it was too melodramatic and one-note for the rest of the production despite Beatty’s brilliant acting and singing. “It Pays to Be an Animal” and “Speedrun” are also fun numbers. Anyway, enjoy!

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by AMERICA.

2

Wonderful, Wonderful Wisconsin: Because The Devil’s in the Details

I’m a little sunburned, a little tired, and a little itchy, but I had a lot of fun today with around 25 members of my ballroom team. Join me in:

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Wonderful, Wonderful Wisconsin

Episode 8: Because The Devil’s in the Details (Devil’s Lake State Park)

After twenty long, hot minutes of walking in the sun, I made it to the ramp at Steenbock where the rest of the group was waiting to set off for a day of fun at Devil’s Lake State Park in Sauk County, near Baraboo. I squished into a car, and less than an hour later, we were in the wilderness. Well, us and a ton of other people, but none of us had phone service, so we all had to interact. It was a beautiful afternoon, and people were swimming, playing, and enjoying the sunshine.

A huge group of us set off together, hiking on one of the trails around the lake. Hiking is fun when there’s a ton of people and everyone’s talking.

Until someone got the bright idea to climb up the rock fall.

So, as a group we clambered up an almost vertical rock wall on hands and knees. Of course, I ended up at the back, asking myself why we did this rather than just walking up on a trail. But after several close calls, I made it to the top, and wasn’t even the last one, and the view was beautiful: a blue-green lake just shining through the trees. After a short break, the only way to go was down, and fortunately for all of us we took a conventional trail. We stopped for several group photo ops, tripped a few times, and saw a snake, but we made it down in one piece, to the North Shore parking lot. We had been hiking for two hours, but were still less than halfway there. Regardless, we took a break at the concession stand there (yummiest strawberry shake ever) and then continued along the trail towards the South Shore parking lot, where we started. Half the group took the high trail, and I joined the other half, who walked along the lake on a lower trail. There were way more people, but the breezes were nice and cool and the rocks were all differently colored pastels. There were even a few balancing rocks. Just as the group of us (five at this point) were in sight of the end, somebody had the idea to wade through the lake…so we did. As the only person in the group wearing pants, I was worried, but surprisingly, I was able to roll up just enough so that I didn’t get them wet. We beat the high-trail group back, but by this point it was 5:30 PM, an hour past our reservation time at Farm Kitchen for dinner…whoops. But, we went there anyway, and although it took almost 2 hours, the 20 of us got dinner (or most of it) and headed back.

Now, I’m just sitting on the couch, pounding some popcorn. Despite the fact that I only got through maybe half of my reading goals for the day – just 1 book for prelims and 1 play over breakfast, no pleasure reading – I feel pretty accomplished. And a little exhausted. But not too exhausted to walk down to Capital Centre for some ice cream.

6

The Luck of the Irish DanceSport Gala Weekend

So now I’ll tell you what that hotel room thing was all about.

I didn’t want to jinx it, but my dance partner and I decided to compete at the Irish DanceSport Gala at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana! And no, it’s actually not an Irish dance competition, it’s called that because the school is the Fighting Irish.

We (me, my partner, and two other team members) drove down to South Bend from Madison on Friday afternoon. It was probably between five and six hours of driving, but we managed to make it to the welcome dance before heading off to our hotel which was surprisingly a ways away. I bunked with a random assortment of team members in a rather comfortable hotel room.

The day of the competition was beautiful and sunny, and we were up bright and early around 7:30 or so, and relaxed before heading over to the venue for our first event. I tried not to be too intimidated by the other dancers and just have fun. There were some really, really good dancers there. There were a lot of bedazzled costumes on the ladies, and a few men even had their hair bedazzled. I mean, I wear a little makeup, but bedazzled hair is a little too much, even for me. We competed in 8 Bronze dances and 8 Newcomer dances, opting to forgo Viennese at the last minute because we were tired. Our first callback was, surprisingly, in Bronze Tango, followed by one in Newcomer Tango and Newcomer Foxtrot. Breaking Bronze is pretty decent, especially for a rather inexperienced pair like us. We didn’t fare well in Bronze Latin, but got called back for quarter-finals in Newcomer Rumba (despite getting extremely off-time in the final 10 seconds or so), and then semi-finals! According to the judging page, we didn’t get any points in that last rumba, but we managed to score at least one point for all the rest of our first-round dances except for Bronze Waltz (our first dance of the day) and Bronze Foxtrot. Even though we did not place, my secret goal was at least one callback, so after that Bronze Tango callback, I was a little calmer, but still feeling competitive. Overall, we gave it our best shot, and I don’t regret anything I did on the dance floor. Okay, maybe a few botched quickstep moves and a couple moments where I almost lost it in jive, but other than that, I’m happy with my performance.

The long and short of it, we didn’t do too bad, especially this being my third-ever competition and my partner’s first.

And the reason I didn’t post this all yesterday was because even though it was only four and a half hours to drive back, I drove the first two hours or so and then slept as my partner drove us the rest of the way. I’m surprised that I didn’t wake up this morning slumped over in the parking lot of her building, but I managed to get up and lead a talkback this afternoon. I have plenty of work and stuff ahead of me this week, but at least this weekend happened and now I’ve just gotta worry about this week.

48

The Terrible Hallmark Valentine’s Day Movie Generator

I actually had a lot of fun making the Overly Dramatic Memoir Generator, and since my chill-out activity of choice these days is late-night Golden Girls marathons on Hallmark, I’ve encountered a whole lot of…commercials for really terrible sounding movies for Valentine’s Day. Seriously, why make another romantic blah-dee-blah when we have enough to watch one every day for fifty years in case we get trapped in an underground bunker while we wait for the nuclear waste to settle and the Earth to become habitable again?

Step 1: She’s a… (first letter of your first name)

A: Single

B: Widowed

C: Divorced

D: Unhappy

E: Sensitive

F: Depressed

G: Over-the-hill

H: Newly single

I: Hopelessly Romantic

J: Unlucky

K: Innocent

L: Lovesick

M: Love-lorn

N: Warm-hearted

O: Cold-hearted

P: Aging

Q: Elderly

R: Nubile

S: Young

T: Prideful

U: Unusual

V: Vain

W: Frustrated

X: Psychotic

Y: Misunderstood

Z: Fabulous

Step 2: Who is she? (month of your birth)

January: Movie Star

February: Telephone Operator

March: Ice Skater

April: Grandmother

May: Chocolatier

June: Sanitation Worker

July: Hairdresser

August: Beekeeper

September: Schoolteacher

October: Secretary

November: Call Girl

December: Lounge Singer.

Step 3: He’s a… (first letter of your last name, Step 1 List)

Step 4: Who is he? (color of your shirt)

Red: Meth Addict

Orange: Actor

Yellow: Sideshow Performer

Green: Police Officer

Blue: Surgeon

Purple: Dentist

Pink: Home Economics Teacher

Brown: Traveling Salesman

Black: Rabbi

Any Other Color: Nobody

Step 5: What happens when they… (date of your birth)

1: Start a business together?

2: Fall in a manhole together?

3: Wake up in an abandoned castle together?

4: Casually exchange glances over sippy cups?

5: Become neighbors?

6: Fight over a parking spot in front of Radio Shack?

7: Accidentally witness a federal crime?

8: Accidentally commit a federal crime?

9: Meet in a unisex handicapped bathroom?

10: Have root canals in adjacent chairs?

11: Sit together at bingo?

12: Get shipwrecked on an uncharted island?

13: Run into each other crossing the street because they’re idiots with no conception of physical space?

14: Adopt the same cat?

15: End up handcuffed together by a magician at a six-year-old’s birthday party?

16: Coach competing cheerleading squads?

17: Have to pick up trash by the side of the road as community service?

18: Get drafted into the army?

19: Walk into a plate glass window?

20: Reach for the same library book?

21: Get seated next to each other at a lesbian wedding?

22: Bump into each other at a Nickelback concert?

23: Accidentally switch bodies?

24: Accidentally switch cell phones?

25: Accidentally switch dressing rooms at Kohl’s?

26: Get jobs at Target?

27: Work the same corner?

28: Shyly smile at one another while picking up their dog’s poop in the local park?

29: Rob the same liquor store at the same time?

30: Discover they kissed at summer camp?

31: Figure out that they might be related?

Find out this Feburary 14 in Terrible Valentine’s Day Movie, 8/7 central, only on Hallmark.

My movie?

“She’s an unlucky secretary. He’s a newly single nobody. What happens when they get seated next to each other at a lesbian wedding?”

Hallmark: Television for People Who Live in a Jodi Picoult Novel

Oh, and hooray hooray for a six continent day! North America (Canada and USA), South America (Brazil), Europe (UK, Greece, Netherlands, Ireland and Romania), Asia (India, Philippines and UAE), Africa (Zambia) and Oceania (Australia).

52

The Overly Dramatic Memoir Generator

One Small BoatThree Little WordsFive Smooth Stones.

Everyone’s read at least one in their life: an overly dramatic, too sappy memoir that is some person’s personal journey to emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual health/perfection/nirvana, and so can you. They show up in book clubs, on summer reading lists, and in psychiatrists’ waiting rooms. And they’re all equally annoying.

Well, guess what? Now, thanks to That’s So Jacob, you can have an instant best-seller with a personalized overly dramatic memoir about your life in a few simple steps!

Behold: That’s So Jacob’s Overly Dramatic Memoir Generator.

  1. Pick the first digit of your phone number. Mine is four.
  2. If you were born between January and June, pick a word that describes the first thing you touch with your left hand. If you were born between July and December, pick the first color you see when you look to the right. Mine is red.
  3. Pick the first item you see on the closest table to you. I just looked, and saw a pen.

Voila, I have a title. Four Red Pens.

Now the even more fun part: what’s your amazing, inspirational story? Now, think of your first and last names.

The first letter of your first name will correspond to your sorry-sounding adjective.

A: Lost

B: Teenage

C: Secret

D: Pregnant

E: Hidden

F: Long-Lost

G: Found

H: Orphaned

I: Changed

J: Runaway

K: Homeless

L: Innocent

M: War

N: Child

O: Rescued

P: Forgotten

Q: Saved

R: Abandoned

S: Broken

T: Imprisoned

U: Anorexic

V: Uncommon

W: Gifted

X: Violated

Y: Depressed

Z: Battered

Now, who are you? Take the first letter of your last name to find out who you are:

A: Runaway

B: Gym Teacher

C: Bride

D: Whore

E: Nun

F: Teenager

G: Centenarian

H: Midwife

I: Orphan

J: Hooker

K: Wife

L: Addict

M: Daughter

N: Son

O: Angel

P: Mother

Q: Veteran

R: Prostitute

S: Zombie

T: Thief

U: Robber

V: Criminal

W: Slave

X: Grandmother

Y: Queen

Z: Princess

So, my memoir would be:

Four Red Pens: I Was a Runaway Midwife

So, what’s your memoir? Let me know in the comments!