Woz gave me permission to post his diary updates from the set of Dancing with the Stars. Be sure to watch tonight and vote for Woz.
This update came Saturday around 230p EST. I have a few more in the hopper…
I’m living in L.A. at the xxxxx East. The last thing I need is one extra mail but if you send anything, the address is:
I drove down with Julie and we have been skirting all over this part of L.A. and Hollywood on Segways. One of the 3 Segways I brought down stopped working, but that’s very normal for me. We glide on our Segways to any kind of shopping, dining or entertaining you can imagine, all very nearby. The elegant Grove mall is right down the street and we have visited the Apple Store (I even purchased the new Time Capsule there) and restaurants. We glide to the DWTS tailor and to the studio where we practice, which is a few miles away. It’s so wonderful to show up for the exertion of dance practice and training after floating along with the self-generated breeze that you get from a Segway, using your weight and feet like lightweight skiing. One day Julie arrived after about 7 miles and her feet actually were sore.
I like to get started on training and work hard at the start, building up a major sweat, front and back. Usually I’ll start practicing parts of the routines on my own, trying to catch things that my partner has pointed out and get them corrected, before we do it together. After a slight preparation, my partner Karina is usually ready. Karina likes a coffee to start the morning. When they do a Starbucks run they get me a cider, with no caramel, the drink I like. I bring bottles of diet green tea with lemon and also water to drink during practice. I sweat hard and get out of breath and exhausted and have even gulped down almost an entire bottle at one time. As much as I drink, I never have to go to the bathroom, I’m sweating so hard.
Over time, my feet, ankles, shins, knees, thighs, hips, lower back, and shoulders have gotten constantly sore. I never take baths but on the suggestion of Karina I took an Epson salt bath and it helped a lot. I don’t get massages but I have one scheduled soon today, so you know how much I’m hurting.
Back to the practice, after getting ready to start with Karina she might grab me sort of privately just before the camera turns on and say “Steve…we have to have a talk.” At that point she gives me talk about things I’m doing well enough for myself but that need work on to look right for the dance. With the camera rolling, she might also so instruct me, but in less of a parental correction mode, more like a nice teacher. The one approach does shock me (about things I’m doing poorly) and I listen hard and do try hard to correct them and improve them. When I learn how to improve I usually have to skirt Karina aside for a while and just practice it over and over and over, getting it mostly wrong. When I get one thing right I forget to do the other 20 things. but after enough repetition I actually learn things and learn to do them together. I know that my head can’t remember the thousand things we do in a 77 second dance, but my muscles learn it and my head finally forgets.
I am so glad when I actually manage to do the right thing with my hands and not forget what my feet are supposed to do at the same time. I know that I’m not the only dancing celebrity going through this, from the little talk I’ve had with a couple of them, from what I hear from the dancers, producers, and directors, and from what Mark Cuban, a former contestant on this show, shares with me.
I rarely take aspirin, and even then only for the worst headaches. Sometimes I don’t even take it for a headache. But I have wound up on a few occasions so far taking Alleve to reduce my pain, and I have to say that I believe it has been helpful.
In our dancing, there are two aspects, roughly like the trees and the forest. I need to run through the entire dance order to get in my head what comes after what. I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop practice runs just because I got to a point and forgot what thing comes next. Then there’s the work on individual parts. We’ll be dancing through and Karina will be saying, as we dance, things like “stand tall”, “small step”, “lasso”, “meow”, “look at watch”, “head high”, “stand tall” and so forth. She’s done it so many times that now I hear her saying it even when she’s silent and it helps a ton, I can tell you.
My best moments are when I did something more correctly that I had been trying to get down. I can tell when it actually reached my muscle memory and will probably stay more correct from then on.
I was scared at the start but smile a lot now. Our second song, for the Quickstep, is “Oh Boy” by Buddy Holly. Anyone who knows me knows that when I hear music I like my feet start tapping, whether I’m at a concert, in a movie, driving or just standing. I love music this way and my feet want to dance so badly but I never get up to dance because I have no idea how to. Well, that Buddy Holly song is one of those. My head perks up with the biggest smile ever and my feet just start moving as fast as they can and it’s the most fun ever. In our quickstep dancing, my feet are making me dance, rather than vice versa. We cover so much dance floor space so fast that it’s like riding a Segway, and the dance is over too soon for me, rather than seeming so long. I feel like the luckiest person there to be able to dance to that song.
At some point in the near future, possible extended slightly due to some performers dropping out, I’ll have to learn new dances pretty much in 3 days. If I make it to the semifinals I’ll have to learn 2 dances in 3 days. If dancing is your thing, that’s nothing and you can do it in a couple of hours, but for me, this seems so impossible that it’s my biggest fear and worry right now. I hear stories of men refusing to do 2 dances and basically just standing there. I hear stories of men and women coming to tears. I hear stories of planned fake injuries. The only thankful thing is that not many of us have to reach the semifinals.
I’m enjoying this experience right now so much that I’m going to try to go all the way. If enough fans and friends vote for me, we’ll find out what my physical limits are. Keep in mind that at 58 years old, I’m the oldest contender this year. Watch how fast young kids pick up dance and aerobics steps and learn video games and you’ll understand what that means. One of my competitors is a 17-years old Olympic gymnastics gold medalist. I say that the others are all fingers and I’m the thumb, out of place. Of course that is also true for Steve O. of Jackass fame. I feel like an underdog and the main things I have going for me are popularity for having created such a great company, for being an outstanding engineer, for caring about kids, for being a fun and nice guy, and for my general personality. I have a lot of fans in parts of the world that normally don’t show up in the demographics for entertainment like this show, and if they come out of the woodwork and watch me dance, and VOTE FOR ME, then the producers and the industry will recognize this group like never before.
Please, especially close friends, understand that I am very pressured and don’t have time to answer all calls and email. Some of you have tried to call me during practice but we are so busy that I don’t even bring my phones anymore. I am going to try to twitter occasionally, but hopefully I can get info like this on occasion to the related “vote-for-woz” websites that I have heard of but not had time to peruse.
best to all of you in your endeavors,
and may something this shocking never happen to most of you!,