Thursday, December 28, 2006

Uncredited Greatest Living Hoofer

I just read this article in the New York Times, which brings attention to the fact that "Happy Feet", a movie apparently about the unifying power of dance in a (penguin) community, doesn't credit those tapping feet to it's owner: Tap virtuoso Savion Glover. In an industry where voiceover actors have their names dominating the credits (even in foreign countries where their voices are deleted), it is a shame that Glover's name isn't used in advertising nor credits. He has put in hours of work, in his recognizable, signature tap style, as both dancer and choreographer, in a movie about the power of dance! And his name only appears at the very end as "Animation Motion Capture"! A clip:
Maybe a proper credit for Mr. Glover just slipped everybody’s minds, including Mr. Glover’s. Maybe dance, even in a film whose entire plot hinges on dance, is so far from the concerns of most people that Mr. Glover’s credit escaped everyone’s attention. But that omission seems especially worrisome when the dance being slighted is deeply rooted in the black American tradition.

“I was just so excited that someone was putting dance in the movie,” Mr. Glover told Ms. Kaufman. “I didn’t ask any questions. I was just going on the strength of tap-dancing — someone wants tap-dancing.”

Well, someone did, and maybe Mr. Glover is as happy as he says he is with his, and tap’s, new prominence. But if tap is to be respected, its greatest living exponent must be respected too. To win respect, you have to do more than be the best there is. You have to fight, meaning negotiate, for the recognition you deserve.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Contents of Xmas letter: Too bitter?

Merry Effing Christmas to everybody! My warmest Aloha to you all, especially those of you suffering through bitter snowstorms who weren't really aware I live in Hawaii now (Has it been three years since I sent out Christmas cards? I'm such a slacker!) I love Christmas card mass letters and won't apologize one bit: How else do I get to flaunt my fabulous life?
Well, let's get to it then:
I still work the same dead-end job at the nut-house (Macadamia! I'm not crazy!...Yet)where this year alone we had a fire that damaged pricey equipment and buildings, a plummeting crop price as Mauna Loa (Hershey's) flooded the market with cheap foreign nuts (I'm a free-market economist: Screw all those little old Hawaiian farmers!) and the earthquake which damaged our newly-completed and not-yet-paid-for visitors center. The epicenter for the earthquake was riiight out there (pointing out my office window). I'm still writing a food column for the Hawaii Island Journal, where I attempt to rein in my bitter distaste of the local greasy-spoons long enough to pound out a thousand words (my editor says I have a "uniquely flippant voice": Whaddya think he means by that?!?!) And last week I successfully passed the exam to become a certified PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor! While I was chasing this goal, my dearest boyfriend, who promised undying love when he moved here in March, took advantage of my absence to break up with me. Anyone want his Christmas gift? Up for grabs!
There were bright spots this year (besides the fire- hehe!) including a visit last December from my sister Tamia and her husband Rowshan, a visit last spring from my dearest friend Lori, and a visit last summer from my brother Michael. What about the rest of you? Step up! I live in Hawaii and can teach you to Scuba Dive! And I'm not this bitter all the time!
In fact, I look forward to the New Year, where I will curl up with the cat and my knitting and a bottle of champagne and work really hard to pursue my goal of becoming that crazy cat lady with the 200 cats. Screw it. Make it 300!
May you all have a wonderful Holiday Season, and an excellent New Year, and may you see past my vicious sarcasm to the love I have for you all.

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Scuba Instructor! Yay!

Started Wednesday off in a conference room at the King Kam with the Instructor Examiner, Lori Bachelor-Smith of PADI Americas in California, and seven other IE Candidates (3 of us with Bob from Breeze, 5 who went through the program at Jack's: One of them was from Seattle and another was from Palm Springs, and I think the other 3 were all from Kona). She did an introduction which included all the legal paperwork, then we got started on our tests:
Theory tests were first. We had 90 minutes to complete 5 Dive Theory tests of 20 questions each (I think...). We needed to score 75% or better, with only one makeup available (fail 1/5 can make up, fail 2/5 no pass for you!) Subjects were: Skills and Environment, Physics, Physiology, Equipment, and the Recreational Dive Planner and Deco theory. If you recall, these are the subjects we are supposed to know from Divemaster (which I took quite some time ago) and the part of the IE I was most worried about. With Bob's help in the IDC I was able to bring my scores up to an acceptable level, and on Wednesday morning I scored: 100%, 100%, 100%, 100% and 100%. Not too shabby. I'll take it! And quite an impressive start.
PADI General Practices and Standards Exam was next. We were supposed to score 75% on a 50 question test with no make-ups allowed. This was an "Open book" test using the huge door-stopper of the Instructor manual, and needed to be complete in 90 minutes. This test is more about being sure we can find the information we need. I scored a 98% (Got one question wrong: It was a damn "All of the Above" question. I can convince myself of anything!)
We then piled into the car and went over to the pool at the Kona Aquatic Center for our skills circuit and Confined Water Presentation. I was assigned "Cramp Removal" which I could teach either on the surface or underwater, each having it's pros and cons. I choose surface, volunteered to go first, presented my briefing and my demo, caught my studen't problems and corrected them, used my assistant effectively and did a fine debrief. We needed a 3.5 to pass, with a makeup available. I scored a 4.4 I think.
Skill circuit we needed to score a 17 out of 20 on 5 skills, with all skills not below a 3. We had makeups available. I had to make up the damn remove and replace the scuba unit at the surface, because while I performed it beautifully, I twisted my low-pressure inflator hose under my shoulder strap and didn't notice. I re-did that one skill and scored a 5. Other skills: Mask remove/replace, 5. CESA 4. Hover 4. Regulator remove/replace 5. Fine: Will take it! I was thinking that if the damn twisted strap was the only thing that went wrong, it was fine with me. I also performed all the skills circuit first.
Back to the King Kam conference room for Classroom presentations: Again we had to score a 3.5/5 to pass, and could do one makeup if needed. I was thrown for a loop when asked to teach something NOT in the Instructor manual. The difference in buoyancy between salt water and fresh water: I used slides and books and equipment and a little model of 2 cups: one filled with water and one filled with yoghurt (the m&m floated on the yoghurt and sank in the fresh water). This time I didn't get to go first, but I did manage to go third (I'm more comfortable if I get it over with). Earned a 4.8. Got dinged for being nervous. That's cool: I'll take it!
So that was the end of the first day: 100%, 98%, 4.4, 4.6, 4.8. All Good!
Thursday I awoke and got to Breeze by 6am. We drove down to Honaunau and got down there by 645am for a 730am start. I realized immediately that I had left my weight belt in my car, over 45 minutes away. DOH! So stupid! I was so nervous: I had prepped my presentation and gone over my rescue and made sure I had taken a sea-sickness pill, brought food and water and even had a little bit of breakfast...but the damn weightbelt was still in the trunk of my car parked in Kona. We called another candidates wife, and she packed up a weight belt with extra weights, jumped in her car and arrived at 730am while I was in the middle of my breifing (I went first). We did all the Open Water Breifings all at once on land, then the first group of 4 went into the water and set the float and line in the Aloha sandy patch at about 25-30 feet of water. I went first: I had two surface skills (what is with the surface skills?): Snorkel to Regulator Exchange from the Open Water class, and Surface Approach, Evaluation, and Contact of a panicked diver from the Rescue class. I needed to average a 3.5 on both skills, with absolutely no make-up. I caught the problems, but I felt I was perhaps a little slow. We went on through the teaching presentations of the other 3 students, and I acted the part of a student for all of them. Later Lori said the highlight of the day was watching another student and I mis-performing the Efficient Fin-Kick Skill from the Advanced Open Water Class: He dolphined while I bicycled. After they were done, we surfaced and performed our rescue assessments. I went first and did well. I then acted the part of the victim for all 3 of the other candidates, plus one makeup. Although I had taken a seasick pill earlier, all that bobbing about on the surface with my eyes closed made me a bit dizzy and naseous. But I make a great victim: I float easily, am smaller than some of the guys, and have quick releases on my gear. In contrast, one choice was a sinker (I chose him as my victim: had rescued him before), one choice was large, and the third choice was the unknown: none of us had worked with her or her equipment before. So...I was the victim. And I got a little dizzy. Then, when we were all done and I was floating there without my equipment, wearing the first-aid pocketmask, and the examiner asked if I would play her victim...and she proceeded to demonstrate different holds with the pocketmask. I have no idea what she was saying, because my ears were underwater and the whole time I'm thinking (Do NOT throw up on the EXAMINER! That would be BAD!) But luckily we finished, put all my equipment back on, descended, and returned slowly to shore. After the other group of four was done, we finished our debreifs and got our scores: I got a 4.75 on the snorkel-reg exchange and a 4.25 on the panicked diver approach, and passed the rescue assesment...
So I am officially now a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor! Woo-hoo! And on behalf of PADI Americas, I'm supposed to thank my friends and family for tolerating me during this process! So THANK YOU!!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Last IDC Days: 9 and 10

Well, the IDC is over, and now it is all about some last minute cramming and avoiding that cold that is going around:
Extra Skills Afternoon: Thursday we watched the Pro Rescue Video, and practiced absolutely gorgeous demonstration-quality skills in the pool. I had to sneak out of work 5 hours early to attend, but felt so much more confident about my skill demo afterwards.
Day Nine was mostly in the pool again, this time presenting our last Confined Water skill (Rescue Class) and practicing our Rescues to within an inch of it's life. Day Ten had our last Perscriptive teaching presentations, and the remainder of the classroom work. We also sat for a few final exams. I was proud to bring my scores up from where they had started, but: Constant Vigilance!
Bob counseled me that he thought I was ready and would do well, and furthermore, he was happy that he dogged me for so many missed IDC's until I could actually take this one. I'm happy I got to take what he threatens to be his last IDC for awhile!
Now it is all just down to the Instructor Exam on Wednesday and Thursday...

Monday, December 04, 2006

IDC Days 7 and 8: Unprecedented Disaster!

Threw up.

Yup: Seasick both on the surface and underwater. Light surge, but basically calm seas in the most calm of bays. Dehydration, lack of sleep, lack of taking care of myself is the explanation. Struggled through the swim, the Confined Water exercises, and the Open Water exercises, always a step behind.
Second day was better: Wasn't ill at least. Classroom work. My first prescribed teaching presentation went well. My theory tests are still not up to snuff.
Ah well, it is a learning experience, right?