Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Salsa dancing in Houston and Other Folds in Space

Well, for lack of a better idea, I'll say something about my most recent visit to the Tropicana night club, located at Fountain View and Richmond. Saturday night several of my friends and I decided to go check out Grupo Kandente. I have seen this band once before: in March 2004 at Ringside in Sullivan's Steakhouse on Westheimer. Ringside no longer hosts Latin dancing, and though I don't miss their dance floor (my friends do for some strange reason), I do miss the great (and sometimes not-so-great) selection of Latin artists they brought to Houston.

Tropicana does bring in other artists, and they have a really nice wooden floor, and I can usually get a table even when I forget to call in a reservation, so they do okay in my book.

Saturday, I was sitting at the traditional "Michael Martinez" table, watching the free dance lesson that German organizes get started. All of sudden he came over to me and said, "I need you to do a favor."

"What's that?" I asked, realizing the last-minute table was about to cost me something.

German (pronounced "herr-man", by the way) reached into his coat pocket and took out a digital camera. "Would you please take some pictures of the class?"

So, for the next hour, I ran around the club taking pictures of about 40 dance students, presumably to be used on the Tropicana Web site. If you see any weird angles that remind you of old Batman television show reruns (remember how all the criminal hideouts were filmed at a 40-degree angle?), well, those are probably my shots. I did my best to get action shots, but the camera was a bit weird for me. I'd press the button to take a picture and the camera would use about 3 seconds to focus itself.

Naturally, I had to use my precognizant abilities to determine when the optimal moment for snapping a picture in the future should be.

German graciously thanked me nonetheless, but I did get a few good action shots of him with different students. The still images don't do him justice. Although I know he was picking girls he has taught and danced with before to demonstrate moves, he is still a great dancer and can generally make anyone look good.

That said, I've found myself drawn more to Plaza 59 over the past few weeks. Plaza 59 is located on Hillcroft next to U.S. Highway 59. They have a smaller dance floor than Tropicana but they are very stylish and have a good stage and sound system. Mary Frometa and Mary's Band play there on many Saturdays. My friends tease me constantly about being Mary's biggest fan, but I can usually persuade the group to alternate between Plaza 59 and Tropicana on the weekends.

I don't quite yet have a "Michael Martinez" table at Plaza 59, but I can usually get a reasonably good table when I make my reservation. They know who I am, so that's a good thing (but don't get me wrong -- these clubs get to know their clientele -- they don't bow and scrape just because Mr. Martinez comes rolling in).

And just to test out the "EDIT HTML" feature, let me throw in a random plug for my new SEO Specialist page at Michael-Martinez.com. Yes, I think I have figured out the obvious at last. Never use COMPOSE mode on Bloggger.

I caught some of the Monday reruns of Stargate-SG1 on SciFi this evening (it's a rare Monday when I manage to do that), and I noticed in "Torment of Tantalos" (the 1st season episode where SG-1 takes Catherine Langford to another planet to find her long lost love, Ernest Littlefield) that the MALP was moved up onto the ramp in front of the gate before they activated the wormhole. Daniel even walked up there to put something on the MALP, so the two shots of the MALP on the ramp are clearly well-designed intentional shots.

You have to wonder how long it took the SGC to fix up a second MALP after the initializing wormhole shot out and dissolved the first one (on the ramp) into sub-atomic little nothingness. I can see a couple of MALP wheels rolling back down the ramp (in my mind) and the gateroom tech saying, "Oops" as General Hammond (who was a bit stiff and officious in the first season before he started to warm up) turns to Sergeant Siler and says, "Airman, I want another MALP on that ramp ASAP after the wormhole has stabilized."

They learned a lot in the first season....

On that note, I think I'll cut this one short, especially as I have nothing else to say. With any discipline and luck, this blog won't get mired in the traditional "Today I brushed my teeth and walked the dog" kind of posts.


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