On Fall Break 2015

Over the past few weeks, I have struggled with visiting other blogs and my own writing. Experience tells me that’s a sign of needing a blog break. Besides, I normally take one in the September-October time frame. So, the stars are aligning for me to take a blog break, thus I’m hitting the Pause button.

Most of my blog-break time will be Level 1 – Total Abstinence – however, I will creep a bit of Level 2 as I hope to write a little during that time. (For those needing more information about the levels of blogging breaks, click here.) To help separate myself during the break, I’m turning off my notifications. Meanwhile, my comments are On because I will be phasing myself into break oblivion.

Regular series as Monday Morning Entertainment and Satire Bits gave me a chance to share bits from my personal life, which many seemed genuinely interested. Now that those series are no more, so is my personal sharing – so going into the break is a good time for an update.

After my year off, I didn’t return to the handbell choir, but my wife still plays. They recently played this version the Led Zeppelin classic – Stairway to Heaven. (Consider playing it as your background music while reading).

My golf game started the season with a bang, but then I hit a 6-8 week spell of what I described as my worst golf in 30 years. However, I righted the ship.

For those who miss my list of monthly, weekly, and daily celebrations, I promised to provide my main sources – and here are the top 2 – this one and that one.

Ballroom remains part of our life. You may recall that I doing a tango routine for a showcase event at a private studio. It’s not with my wife, but she approves of my partner. It’s been an interesting experience, but because of the time commitment, I’m not sure if I would do this again. Nonetheless, here’s the song – which is a tad fast, so we slowed it down.

I continue volunteering with ballroom dance for those with Down Syndrome and other disabilities. It’s a very rewarding experience, and I try to attend most of the weekly events. Unfortunately, this year I’m going to miss their competition, the event started my interest. (Remember this post?)

I recently started serving as a volunteer in an English Second Language (ESL) program for adults. It’s off to a good start. Regardless of their individual reasons for being in the US, each of them wants to improve their proficiency in English.

However, our season of ushering at plays is underway. We recently saw The Secret Garden, and young artist (Caitlin Cohn) in the lead role impressed both of us. We are curious to see how far she climbs on the ladder to stardom.

I’m a Christian who believes in Interfaith dialogue and efforts – both within Christianity AND between different religions. The Friday’s Interfaith ceremony at the 9-11 Memorial in NYC was very moving!

My initial plan is to stay away 3-5 weeks, but time will tell. I encourage you to visit bloggers you may not know -the good people listed on my Sidebar and those on the Blogroll page – especially the New Acquaintances section. Regarding all bloggers listed today, I hope to reorganize them in the future.

To lead you into my break, here are several videos for you to enjoy. Take your pick – a singing two-year old, a singing comic, today’s comics doing their version of a classic routine, or a major hit from many years ago that still sounds great today.

Wishing you all the best and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 278

Dance: The Musical is over with the 4 acts unofficially providing 48, 34, 30, and almost 40 songs. Many thanks to all, and I’ll post the list of songs sometime in the future. (It’s almost done.) Act 4 was a difficult theme, but the readers came through … and with so many dances available, I also provided a dance to everyone participating guest – I guess one could say that was my way of dancing with everyone.

The next theme? I haven’t made the decision. However, I anticipate another short one.

No Explore post this weekend, but a post is planned.

Did you see the picture Jamie Lee Curtis in the shower screaming while holding the picture of her mother screaming in Psycho’s shower scene? If not, see it here.

Pope Francis visiting the US is big news here. In my opinion, he’s quite the humanitarian and leads by example. To honor his visit, I’ve provided an extra set of headlines from The Onion further down this post.

Kim Davis (Clerk of Courts, Rowan County Kentucky) didn’t let me down, thus did something stupid that made the news by the end of the week. Meanwhile, I think she could play the “Clueless” card, but neither she or her legal team seems to understand that move.

Last week I heard (with my own ears) Michael Smerconish (CNN personality and Sirius-XM radio host) use “bloviator” when referencing Donald Trump. On a similar note, The Bloviator and Pope Francis provide an interesting opportunity to compare and contrast humility.

Ben Carson (R-MD) seeks the Republican nomination for president wants to protect the US Constitution – well … unless he disagrees with it, thus being less faithful to the Constitution. Although his ridiculous statement served the purpose of raising money followed by playing the victim card, I can’t see how he could get the nomination – let alone, win the election.

17th September was Constitution Day in the US. Columnist Ruth Marcus (Washington Post) wrote this interesting piece fitting for both the day and the current Republican campaign.

As the Republican field use phrases as “war on religion” and “war on Christianity”, why am I (as a Christian) not having the sense of being on a battlefield?

With two of the original 17 in the field having recently dropped out of the race (good riddance to both)… and more are to follow suit … many voters may wonder what happens to the Super PAC money. NPR answers it here.

Before the next Republican debate happens on Oct 28th, the Democrats will start their debates on Oct 13th. To me, this means I won’t watch two debates in October.

Speaking of the debates, I enjoyed this column from Kathleen Parker (Washington Post).

To lead you into this week’s satire, The Onion discovered and published Pope Francis’ US itinerary.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Wedding guest in suspenders and bow tie unafraid to take to dance floor
Area woman’s hair always wet
Extension cord on stage steals show at campaign rally
Beautiful sunset wasted on a few schmaltzy bozos
Ethical Hunter Throws Duck He Shot Back Into Sky
First-time flasher definitely going to make sure he’s erect next time

My Combo (I’ve seen this happen): Unafraid erect flasher steals dance floor show

Special Edition Headlines about Pope Francis
Pope Leaves Detailed Instructions For Taking Care Of Holy Spirit While He Out Of Town
Pope Francis Reverses Position On Capitalism After Seeing Wide Variety Of American Oreos
House Lawmakers Brainstorming Some Good Things To Say About Poor People Before Meeting Pope Francis
Pope Francis Kills 3 Hours Milling Around Atlanta Airport During Layover To D.C.
Frustrated Republicans Argue Pope Should Leave Science To Scientists Who Deny Climate Change

Interesting Reads
Libraries and the public today
A new human relative
A hidden hero of jazz: Mary Lou Williams
Futuristic navy
For those remembering James Meredith
Linking medieval history and your DNA
(Photos) On the side of the road

Below are 3 songs to send you into the weekend: a leftover from Act 4 (one of my favorite dance songs – The Bop by Ms. Jody) and two classics. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Dance the Musical – Act 4: The Dances

The Story
Whether as a ritual, a tradition, or the sign of the times, dance is an expression that crosses many cultures. Dance is social, ceremonial, and competitive. Whether at a club, in a ballroom, on a gymnastic mat, in water, on a stage – dance is personal – dance is fun – dance is energy on display. Dance expresses and it entertains.

From the time we are babies bouncing along in someone’s arms or on a lap, dance has played a role in everyone’s life in some way. Dance: The Musical aims to capture the essence of this activity that brings DancePlaybilljoy to many.

Program (Past Posts)
Act 1: Dance
Act 2: Dancing
Act 3: Dancers

Act 4: The Dances
There are many forms of dance – the formal, the trendy, the cultural, and more. Whereas previous acts focused on different aspects of dance, Act 4 is about the dance – but not “dances”.

Although dances is in the title, dances is not the keyword for this act – actually, it should not be used. This act is about the name of a dance.

  • Song titles with a dance in the title (ballroom type or popular) (EX: Waltz is a dance, so “waltz” must be in the title
  • There are so many, the “only one song per dance” rule will be applied (EX: Once waltz is used, no more songs with waltz in the title)
  • No children songs or dances
  • Beware of 2-word dances as Square Dance. This requires both words together, thus not automatically qualifying square or dance.
  • “Dances”, on its own, is NOT acceptable, thus agitates The Producer. (EX: She Dances, Josh Grobin)

Production Note
To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please 1) include the song title and artist in your text, and 2) paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line). The latter will provide a link, thus not embed the actual video … but I don’t mind unembedding, so apologies are not necessary.

Welcome to the closing act for Dance: The Musical. You, the audience have helped gather 112 songs in the previous 3 acts. A toast to your efforts, but now you face the greatest challenge in aFa Productions history.

Our theme is The Dances, and the guidelines are stated above in the program. Because many possibilities exist, we hope to see performers from Strauss to Chubby – from Offenbach to Lou Bega – from The Diamonds to Baauer – from Freddie and the Dreamers to Rufus Thomas.

The production team went gone back to 1989 for the opening act. Although a worldwide hit, this song and dance (the lambada) was most popular in Latin America. Some of you may not know the song or the dance, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. Let’s hear it for Kaoma with The Lambada.

On Bored

“Mommy/Daddy – I’m bored.”

That’s a line many of us have said at least once – especially when we were very young. – and I’ve got the feeling parents in the crowd not only have heard it, but they also have a response.

Bored – feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity. (Oxford Dictionary)

One side of me wants to side with the youngster. After all, kids look forward to events – they live in anticipation – and if they aren’t anticipating, they are bored.

As we move into and within adulthood, approaching deadlines come in our lives, thus shifting the feeling of anticipation toward the hustle to get something done on time. Life shifts from waiting to being rushed – frantic may be a more appropriate adjective – but I’m bored can also fit for adults.

In the work world, there’s always something to do. My parents were small-town merchants, and I still recall Dad saying, If you bored, there’s always something to do – and he meant sweep the floor, stock the cooler, wash the windows and more.

Today’s work world has amplified that thought by many workers have too much to do in too little time. So, it becomes not a question of boredom – but one of frantic, staying sane, and balancing life.

What if you had a job with only one thing to do? Yes … only one. I started working part-time in February – and yep – with only one duty – and if customers aren’t present, I could honestly say, I’m bored.

I quickly learned to bring something to do – commonly blog stuff – a notebook for drafting future posts, or hard copies for editing. No wonder I have so many posts in draft stage. Still, there were many times when I said, I’m bored. I left the one-obligation duty in mid-July,  so I now have time to write this post and include supporting songs – which (for the record) isn’t boring.

On Exploring a Duet

Duet …
… two working together working together as one
… a pair performers working in concert with one another
… a duo, twosome, match, dyad, a couple a pair

There has to be chemistry in a duet, but if you go beyond the point of friendship and attraction, you lose something. (Kenny Rogers, entertainer)

To sing a duet together means sharing with someone both the pleasure and the responsibility of making music for an audience which is there to feel enjoyment through music. (Andrea Bocelli, singer)

Our mind is capable of passing beyond the dividing line we have drawn for it. Beyond the pairs of opposites of which the world consists, other, new insights begin. (Hermann Hesse, novelist)

Marriage should be a duet – when one sings, the other claps. (Joe Murray, artist)

Enjoy this animation by Glen Keane with this question in mind: What meaning do you apply to this Duet?

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 277

Cheers to your efforts of making Act 3 of Dance The Musical a success.

In the next and last act for Dance: The Musical, Act 4 provides the biggest challenge of any musical act.

  • Songs must feature the name of a dance in the title
  • Waltz, Macarena, and Hokey Pokey are acceptable examples … BUT ….
  • No dance can be used more than once
  • No children songs
  • Info is on the Hear Ye page
  • Performance time: next Tuesday at 9:30 pm (Eastern US)

I will probably have an Explore post this weekend.

Wouldn’t you know it. Kim Davis (the Kentucky County Clerk) finally made a good decision, and then screws it up when she added a disclaimer line to the marriage license. The lady doesn’t get it and I think she’s getting lousy legal advice. Meanwhile, The Onion got their word in by doing this profile on her.

In terms of the second Republican Debate, yep – I followed my same format as before: deciding not to watch, then get some information from a variety of talking heads. The day after I watched both CNN and Fox News … and I came away with the same conclusion about these two networks – There’s no way they were talking about the same event – although the difference wasn’t as vastly different as after the first debate.

I discovered (from NPR) the amount of talk-time for each candidate in the second debate. The data supports my idea that the “debate” is the wrong term. Although the evening’s rules naturally skew the results.
TalkTime2For the interested, here are various FactChecks from the event: PolitiFactsWashington PostCNNFox NewsAssociated Press

To lead you into this week’s satire, here’s The Onion’s help to parent when talking to children about death.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (Combos welcome)

  • Juggler’s Medication Wears Off Halfway Through Routine
  • Report: 92% Of Americans Would Have Gotten Over Ex By Now
  • Report: Oyster Cracker–Wise, Nation Doing Pretty Good
  • Google Engineers Invent New Body Part To Strap Gadgets Onto
  • Weather Report: Upturned earthworms imminent
  • Gender Guessed Correctly On Second Try

Interesting Reads
Pope Francis and the Vatican: Who changes who?
The blind hiker
China’s growing middle class
Africa’s population boom
(Video) Connection in and through dance (Thanks Lame)
Headless chicken
(Photos) Autumn in Alaska

Here is another two-fer to lead you into the weekend. A leftover from Act 4 (I was surprised it wasn’t used) and a rock classic. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Dance: The Musical – Act 3: Dancers

The Story

To illustrate what I mean, an apt dancer may be in thorough unison with the others in that particular group, and at the same time reveal a difference in dancing temperament, rhythm or technique; she may phrase, accentuate or actually interpret differently. (Florenz Ziegfeld, producer)

The body cannot lie. You cannot be somebody else onstage, no matter how good of an actor or dancer or singer you are. When you open your arms, move your finger, the audience knows who you are, you know. (Mikhail Baryshnikov, dancer)

The dancer’s body is simply the luminous manifestation of the soul. (Isadora Duncan, dancer)

I did not want to be a tree, a flower or a wave. In a dancer’s body, we as audience must see ourselves, not the imitated behavior of everyday actions, not the phenomenon of nature, not exotic creatures from another planet, but something of the miracle that is a human being. (Martha Graham, dancer)

Let’s not call physical comedy falling down and pratfalls. All humor is physical, no matter how you dish it out. It’s timing, like a dancer or an athlete would have. (Chevy Chase, actor/comedian)

I would imagine that if you could understand Morse code, a tap dancer would drive you crazy. (Mitch Hedberg, comedian)

DancePlaybillProgram (Past Posts)
Act 1: Dance
Act 2: Dancing

Act 3: Dancers
Dance is a rhythmic action to music, but it’s also an event where the action occurs. Then again, from the time we most-likely first danced on someone’s lap, one can dance anywhere – around the house, down the aisles of the grocery store, or wherever one desires.

If dance is an action painting to music, dancer is the artist of motion. Some names are synonymous with dance: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gene Kelly, Martha Graham, Anna Pavlova, Gregory Hines, Rudolf, Nureyev, and Sammy Davis, Jr, to name a few. Interesting, Baryshnikov said, “No dancer can watch Fred Astaire and not know that we all should have been in another business.”

Although Dancers is the title, this act is much more – thus offers a variety of choices of keywords in the song title. After all, there are different dancers and common places to dance

  • Songs titles with dancer(s), dances, a specific dancer (as ballerina) or compound words including dance
    • (EX) Dancehall is an acceptable compound word,but happy dance is not acceptable because it is not a compound word.
    • Exception: dancehall, dance hall, dance-hall, dancefloor, dance-floor, and dance floor are acceptable – but this exception is not applicable to other compound words
  • Dances refers to the actual word, not a specific type of dance
  • New addition: Ballroom will be accepted

Production Note
To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please 1) include the song title and artist in your text, and 2) paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line). The latter will provide a link, thus not embed the actual video … but I don’t mind unembedding, so apologies are not necessary.

Special Note: Next week’s Act 4 will be tricky, so plan ahead by visiting the Hear Ye page, then (if needed) ask questions.

For opening acts, we at aFa Productions tend to go with classic artists or surprises. This time, even we surprised ourselves with our choice. Then again, this was a chance to demonstrate the exception in the rules. The date was 1984, so some in the audience may recall this group from watching the early days of MTV. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome Wang Chung to the stage with Dance Hall Days.