Seattle, Washington An Inverse Vacation

It was supposed to be a break, but it wasn’t.

For the last three weeks, I’ve been busier than any time in my life.

I came home from Africa still coasting from the high of live television — and still wearing the same clothes I wore on the show, having not had an opportunity to change.

I found all the stuff I’d pushed off until May still waiting for me. But before I could even get to it, new stuff kept popping up and distracting me.

Some nice folks at Google called me up out of the blue with a project I couldn’t pass up. I’m not sure what I’m allowed to talk about at this point, and I may have already gone to far, so I’ll leave it there.

…well, one more thing: at their headquarters in Mountain View, they have a T-rex skeleton in the courtyard and a scale replica of SpaceshipOne hanging from the lobby ceiling. And those are only the 14th and 9th coolest things about the place, respectively.

Some publisher interest came up. So while I haven’t been updating the blog, I have been struggling to hammer out words that may one day be printed on sheets of paper and exchanged for money. It’s a novel concept…also very intimidating.

I had a few meetings and speaking engagements. Flew down to visit my aunt and talked to the students at my cousin’s school. I’ve been to loads of schools in the last year, but never in front of a relative. The stakes were a lot higher. Marco is in seventh grade, so a poor showing could have been disastrous for his reputation. He seemed to feel his stock went up as a result of the whole thing, so I guess it went okay.

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Got some nifty free stuff to take on this trip. I’ll talk about it later.

Planning to meet up with some TV show people for a day so they can shoot a promo for a travel series they want to pitch. I’m not sure I’m cut out for that sort of thing — dancing on camera is a lot easier than talking — but I’m going to give it a try.

Spent a lot of time planning out the 13 or so countries we’re visiting in the next month. But Melissa has really done the lion’s share of the work on that; setting up dancing events in each city, collecting the email addresses, sending out the invites, booking the hotels, and on and on. This new video is a lot more logistically complex than the last one, and there’s not a chance I could do this without her.

I’ve mentioned it earlier, but in case you’re wondering, I’m not announcing the Europe dates and locations on the site. You’ve got to sign up. I’d like to be able to post them, but that wouldn’t be a very wise decision for several reasons.

I will say we’ve picked about ten cities and we’re sending out around 80 invites in each one. It’ll be interesting to see how many people show up. So far they sound pretty enthusiastic.

Somehow, in between all that’s going on, we managed to catch the big summer movies we wanted to see. I’ve found Shrek excrutiatingly unfunny since the get-go, so that wasn’t anywhere near the list, but I did hold out hope that Spiderman 3 would be worth seeing. It wasn’t. Aside from some nifty Sandman effects, the most interesting thing going on was Tobey Maguire’s double chin.

Caught Pirates last night. I quite enjoyed the second one and found its overstuffed plot to be a nice counterpoint to the typical streamlined blockbuster. Part three was too much for me, though. I actually spent six months sorting out the Pirates of the Caribbean universe when I worked on the script to the PS2 game, and I still couldn’t keep track of who was where and why and which side they were on and why they wanted the thing they wanted and why they weren’t dead anymore.

I’m all for thick plots full of intrigue with lots of characters and shifting alliances, but at least SOME effort has to be made to let the audience in on what’s going on. If I’m watching Syriana, then fine; challenge me, leave me stumped and confused. But when I go to a Disney pirate movie, I want stuff spelled out a little better. Give me some Cliffs Notes.

Oh, and they forgot to make it funny.

There are still about five Africa entries I haven’t gotten to. I’m not sure I ever will, so here’s a quick overview:

– Spent a few days in Zanzibar. Found a place called the Zanzibar Curio Shop that is my all-time favorite store. Remember the shop in the beginning of Gremlins where the guy finds the Mogwi? Just like that.

– Madagascar. Lemurs. Fun!

– Went to Johannesburg and got a tour of Soweto, where some of the major events during apartheid took place. Went to a place called Soweto Kliptown Youth and danced with the kids. When I walked in they thought I was a dance instructor…There was nothing I could teach them. Also got a bone reading and found out my son is going to be a pain in the ass.

– Two days of safari in Zambia. Watching elephants off the balcony. Escorts to our cabin because of lions on the prowl. Sharing a safari jeep with a group belching, spitting, farting Chinese tourists. Very, very expensive.

– A couple days relaxing in Cape Town. Went to the top of Table Mountain and took one of the nicest walks I’ve ever been on. Checked out the outrageously scenic Cape of Good Hope.

Someday, maybe, I’ll elaborate. Anyway, off to Iceland in four hours. Seems we might end up blowing the whole Europe budget in three days there. It’s mighty expensive.

After that, it’s on to the mainland.

Bag is backed. Consciousness is waning. Time for a little sleep.