Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 296

Our hearts and support to Belgians this week. Wishing them peace and strength today, in the days past, and in the days ahead.

Hard to believe that an 18-year-old American injured in the Brussels blast was also in Boston (the day of the Marathon bombings) and in Paris (the day of the recent attacks).

Thanks to those who watched and commented on the PSA in the previous post. My weekly volunteer time with Down Syndrome adults has taught me a lot. It’s where I learned how they see themselves as normal – and it’s where I’ve learned to appreciate them for who they are. A parent told me that the video bothered them as a parent. I responded by saying what I’ve learned from volunteering – to which the parent responded, “You’re exactly right. They really don’t see themselves as any different than anyone else. Thanks for pulling me back.”

We recently saw a stage version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Wow – it still carries a powerful message.

Next week is The Right Angle’s last week of work as she is ready to ride into the retirement sunset.

This is a great laugh.

Being in the middle of basketball’s March Madness, my city is lucky to have to top programs within the city – let alone, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart. But the way both the Bearcats and Musketeers lost was difficult. Ouch! On the other hand, in my opinion, the torch has passed from UC to XU for having the top program in the city. Nonetheless, by the end of the weekend, only 4 teams will be left.

Season 22 of Dancing With The Stars is off to a good start. Definitely a group with some interesting people. It was great to see Edyta back on the show, but ouch – she got the contestant with the worst rhythm and lowest ability.

Act 5: Green of Colors: The Musical was huge! At the time of this writing we’re approaching 50 songs! Then again, I went a bit crazy in my replies … and that’s before Marina and I start playing our additions game.

On the topic of colors, I understand the cherry blossoms of Washington, DC are in full bloom. Elyse and Duncan would gladly give you a walking tour if you stopped by. Make sure to ask her to show you the two trees that are from the original plantings. But if you can’t join her tour, here’s a video to help you enjoy them.

To those celebrating Easter this weekend, a glorious and happy Easter to you.

No Explore post this weekend.

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Republicans love to praise Ronald Reagan, but a 1980 Reagan would be lousy 2016 candidate … just as he would have been lousy in 2012. Don’t believe it? Just compare the party platforms.

There’s a lull in primary season as all eyes are directed at Wisconsin. I wonder how much money the campaigns and organizations will spend on ads in the Dairy State.

In terms of this summer’s Republican convention, keep your eye on changes involving Rule 40-B.

I called Sen. Portman’s office (R-OH) about his stance regarding the current Supreme Court opening – and yep – I said the stance will cost him my vote in November.

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To lead you into your weekly dose of satire, The Onion offers tips for establishing a campsite.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Chess onlooker sees a possible move
Scissors kills Paper and Rock; then turns blade on self
Volunteer exercises option to stop volunteering
Shit … new girlfriend snores
Stomach sets aside synthetic additives until it has a few minutes to figure out how to digest them

Interesting Reads
The boom in craft beers
The hidden strengths of introverts
The man who sold the Eiffel Tower twice
3-D printing and the blind
Animals of the world (article & images from National Geographic)

Given Blog Musical Week, it’s a two-fer to send you into the weekend. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Close Encounter of …

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I recall hearing and reading about the hub-bub between John Hurley and Kelly Monaco in Season 1 of Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) – but I didn’t watch. As a sports fan, having ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne in the Season 2 cast caught my attention – so my wife and I watched DWTS for the first time on January 5, 2006.

We watched the entire show. The next day was the results show, and my wife asked, “Don’t you want to see what happens?” I had seen the first night with Kenny, and that was good enough, but she was curious – so we watched the elimination of Kenny Mayne.

Season 22 (of the 2 seasons per year) starts later this month. Since that first episode we watched, DWTS was the first domino that led us into the world of ballroom dance. We’re still watching the show and still dancing. Who knows how much money we’ve spent on lessons, dances, and shoes – at least I can blame Kenny Mayne.

Long-time watchers may remember Season 2 as it included guests Drew Lachey (a Cincinnatian who won), Stacey Keibler, Jerry Rice, Lisa Rinna, Tia Carrere, George Hamilton, Tatum O’Neill, Giselle Fernandez, and Master P, It also introduced us to professional dancers Tony Dovolani, Maksim Chmerkovsky, Louis Van Amstel, Cheryl Burke, Anna Trebunskaya, and Edyta Śliwińska – the Polish-born dancer who easily catches the eye. Besides, many of us would love an opportunity to dance with the partner of our choice …. Just once! Did you hear that Edyta? Anna? Sharna? Peta?

To those of us old enough to remember the variety shows on television, DWTS is a blend of a reality show of today and the variety shows of yesteryear – especially on the Results Show when top artists perform – such as this appearance by Michael Bublé in Season 9.

Like any business, dance studios aim at making a profit. Every studio has their way of increasing sales, which may include providing coaching sessions. The “coach” is usually an experienced dancer/teacher from out-of-town who is part of a normal lesson – of course with an extra fee. Yes, coaches are an outside perspective providing a new set of eyes for suggestions, but it’s never interested us – after all, we are social dancers who don’t compete.

As part of one of the sales promotions are our current studio, we earned the right for a drawing – and what did my wife select? … a free coaching session. We talked with our regular instructor about the upcoming coaching possibilities, so we selected Agnes. Plus, I took a group class with her last year, so I knew she had a pleasant demeanor … as well as being an attractive woman. (At least I’m honest.) 😉

Early this past February, we had our coaching with Agnes. A wonderful lesson – and I had a few steps with her. In our chit-chat time, I discovered that she’s Polish and now lives in Los Angeles … but why I didn’t wonder if she knew Edyta is beyond me! After all, look at the connections – Polish, dancer, Los Angeles.

Two weeks later, my wife was gone on her girls’ cruise – which meant too much time on my hands – so I searched Agnes. On her website I discovered her personal story of dance and journey to the USA – her dance accomplished as a winner or finalist in the most prestigious dance competitions, and her appearances on Dancing With The Stars.

WHAT? I had in my arms and danced a few steps with someone who has been on the show! My wife and I had a coaching lesson with someone who probably knows cast members – including Edyta! … and yes … in the video above, that was Agnes and her partner dancing to Michael Bublé … and odds are, we watched that episode!

With YouTube doing what it does, I saw other videos, of Agnes and her partner Urs … including the entertaining, unique dance video below that demonstrates grace, variety, speed, strength, versatility, control, and probably more. TIP: After watching up to 2:50, save yourself time by forwarding to 4:50 … and enjoy watching the lady I think of as my Close Encounter of the Dance Kind.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 221

On Politics
For those you think the Tea Party is dead because of its unsuccessful showing in Tuesday’s primary, think again because if nothing else, it has shifted the party to the right.

As Washington examines issues at the Veterans Administration (VA), comments by members of Congress demonstrate to me that they are more interested in political gain than solving the problem.

Speaker Boehner’s (R-OH) new conference came on the radio as I was listening today, and I changed the channel. Later, I returned to find Minority Leader Pelosi’s (D-CA) new conference, so I changed the channel again.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Congress reluctant to cut funding for tank that just spins around and self destructs
  • Revealing spring attire reminds man he’s nothing more than weak, hormonal ogre
  • High school student, teacher applying for same summer waitressing job
  • Paleontologists unearth earliest known dinosaur stickers
  • Experts recommend breaking down crushing defeats into smaller, more manageable failures
  • Ohio replaces lethal injection with human new head-ripping-off machine

Interesting Reads
Leadership lessons from Dancing with the Stars
Columnist Ruth Marcus on politics and money
Interesting interactive sorting state (US) data
Learn to love your doppelgänger
The real Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Interesting infographic on man-made structures
Nutella in America

On Potpourri
Meryl and Maks were very deserving champions of Dancing with the Stars. Although some complained about co-host Erin Andrews in her debut season, but I say bring her back.

Taken April 22, 2014

Taken April 22, 2014

I took this picture about a month ago after getting some gas.

Thanks for the wonderful music in Act 4 of Life: The Musical. I love getting different genres of music!

With Monday being a national holiday (Memorial Day) in the USA, I will not have a Saturday Morning Cartoon Classic post this weekend. I know … this pattern is too frequent, but I’m still digging out of my hole from the move.

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Weekend) Mudbug Madness, Polka Weekend, Old-Time Player Piano Weekend
  • (Fri) Taffy Day, Wig Out Day, Turtle Day, Don’t Fry Day, Crohn’s Disease and Colitis Day, Heat Awareness Day, Polka Day, Lucky Penny Day
  • (Sat) Military Appreciation Day, Brother’s Day, Jazz Day, Morse Code Day, Escargot Day, Scavenger Hunt Day, Mary had a Little Lamb Day
  • (Sun) Cookie Monster’s Birthday, Something Day, Wine Day, Tap Dance Day, Towel Day, Nerd Pride-Geek Pride Day

With Saturday being Lucky Penny Day, here’s a question to answer. If you see a penny on the ground with the tails side up, do you pick it up?

To send you into the weekend, let’s celebrate Morse Code Day (Saturday) with this hit from 1967 … Western Union by the Five Americans. (The song starts 1 minute in.) Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 220

On Politics
Is there a difference between a politician rebranding, repositioning, or evolving for personal gain and lying?

As the Benghazi beat goes on, I ponder this question: White House spin and Republican conspiracy theories? After all, both ways produce misinformation.

The kidnapping of the Nigerian girls is sad and pathetic. However, the conservative spin doctors have amazingly determined the real cause of Boko Haram’s actions – Hillary Clinton! Read it for yourself here. It’s probably safe to say that if she wasn’t a strong potential 2016 candidate for the Democrats, she wouldn’t have been blamed.

With many political pundits focusing on former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) as a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, I found this article interesting.

When it comes to caring for veterans, both parties are woefully inadequate.

On This Week’s Headlines from The Onion

  • Stone-hearted ice witch forgoes exclamation point
  • Study: Seeing Jesus in toast is perfectly normal
  • Pharmaceutical industry reeling as more mom’s making vaccines at home
  • Opposing team terrified after seeing home fans all wearing same color t-shirt
  • Budget woes force Heaven to reduce eternal life to 500 billion years
  • Report: Growing number of Americans forced to make ends meet by collaborating on song with Pitbull

Bonus Tips from The Onion

Interesting Reads

On Potpourri
The coal mining accident in Turkey is horrible. Peace and strength to all involved and affected.

Multiple US cities are hosting the Great American Beer Run, in which participates get a pint of craft beer every half mile (800 meters). The event’s FAQ page is a good one.

Running events are common fundraisers. In Cincinnati last weekend one charity effort involved running .05K …. that’s 164 feet (50 meters).

Wow – the dedication of the 9/11 Memorial Museum was quite moving.

The current season of Dancing with the Stars is nearing an end. Overall, the dancing has been very good. As in past years, viewer voting did something stupid. How and the heck could Charlie White get the lowest number of votes?

Life: The Musical returns next week, so I will announce the Act 4 theme on the next edition of Monday Morning Entertainment.

Time has worked against me this week, so no Saturday Morning Cartoon Classic post this weekend.

Your weekend celebrations

  • (Fri) Bats Day, Biographer’s Day, Endangered Species Day, Virtual Assistants Day, O. Henry Pun-Off Day, NASCAR Day, Bike to Work Day, Pizza Party Day, Spaghetti-Os Day, Sea Monkey Day, Pickle Day, Piercing Day, Coquilles St. Jacques Day
  • (Sat) Mike: the Headless Chicken Day, Armed Forces Day, Morel Mushroom Day, Merry-Go-Round Day, Rat Pack Day, Hypertension Day, Turn Beauty Inside Out Day, Information Society Day, Telecommunications Day, Neurofibromatosis Day, Cherry Cobbler Day
  • (Sun) I Love Reeses Day, Museum Day, HIV Vaccine Awareness Day, Mother Whistler Day, Neighbor Day, Visit Your Relatives Day, Cheese Souffle Day, No Dirty Dishes Day

To send you into the weekend, let’s travel back to 1965 when. Dominigo Zamudio had the first Billboard Number One Record of the Year that never made it to #1 on any week – a feat that stood alone for 35 years. Dominigo Zamudio? Yep – he’s also known as Sam. Have a safe weekend and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On Waltz

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Did you hear the 1-2-3 pattern in the beat?

The waltz is a fun, elegant dance, but the truth be known, it is not easy

Waltz music is in 3/4 time (three beats per measure), whereas most dances are in 4/4 time

Waltz music should provide an easy to hear 1-2-3, 1-2-3 pattern, with the first beat heavier (more pronounced than the others)

In many steps, dancers elongate the second beat

Today, waltz is associated with flowing gowns, tails, and sophistication, but its roots are as a dance of 16th century peasants in eastern Europe

Here’s a chance to learn the basic step

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The word waltz is from the old German word walzen, meaning to roll, to turn, or to glide

Waltz became fashionable in Vienna in the 1780s

As the dance spread across Europe, religious leaders vehemently opposed the dance, thus proclaimed it as vulgar and sinful

Acceptance in England was even slower, but opposition waned because Queen Victoria was a good dancer and enjoyed waltz

Waltz received a big boost when Austrian composer Johann Strauss wrote numerous waltzes

Waltz first came to America in the early 1800s, yet it also received religious opposition – but to no avail as society accepted waltz by the 1850s

Here’s one of our favorite waltz songs, Come Away With Me by Norah Jones with Jonathan and Anna on DWTS (listen for the 1-2-3 beat)

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In dancehall settings, waltz moves counter-clockwise around the floor with a rise on the second beat

Waltz looks best with long, controlled strides to move the floor

Social dancing is not choreographed – it’s lead and follow … yep, the male leads and the female follows …. Ladies, would any of you have a problem with that?

Today there are two prominent styles: International Standard Waltz and American Style Waltz

Major difference is that in international style, the dancers always stay in closed position (in hold), while American style breaks hold for spins, turns, and other steps (This was very evident to me on my trip to Italy early this year)

Viennese waltz (shown later) is also in 3/4 time, but at a much faster tempo with a lot of turning (thus I don’t do Viennese because of motion sickness)

Other styles include Scandinavian, Peruvian, Mexican, Cajun, Tango vals, Venezuelan, Contra/Freeform, Valse Musette, and Cross-Step

The next set of videos are to some of my favorite waltz music – Enjoy!

Still Me (American style)

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Theme from Cider House Rules (International style)

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She Dances by Josh Grobin with Tony and Julianne on DWTS

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Nocturne by Secret Garden

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Here’s a beautiful Viennese Waltz, which is much faster, but the 1-2-3 beat is still prevalent