“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night, in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make it possible. ” – T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia)
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat” – Teddy Roosevelt
Human beings are the only life form that will do less than it possibly can… there has never been a tree that didn’t grow as tall as it possibly could…
Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has a genius and power and magic to it. – Goethe
She took my arm
I don’t know how it happened
We took the floor and she said
Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me
I said you’re holding back
She said shut up and dance with me
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me
–Shut Up and Dance with Me – Walk the Moon
It’s the natural order
– Samuel Becket
Dancing is a contact sport
– Nino DiGiulio – May I Have This Dance, Chicago.
Dance begins with a dancers feelings.
– Ms. Mitzi – Shall We Dance
When you get the hang of it, dancing is like the most fun thing in the world. – Ed Sheeran, singer/guitarist/dancer
“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”
(Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice)
Baila morena, baila
que tú lo bailas como ninguna
moviendo las caderas,
moviendo la cintura.
– Baila Morena -Julio Iglesias
Couples’ Dancing is a wonderful pass-time. You get to meet new people , you get to move you entire body to music, you get exercise in a enjoyable, pleasant way, you get to interact with someone else – it can be for as short as one dance, it could be an evening, or it could be an entire lifetime. You don’t know which it might be. It’s enjoyable as a couple to interact with others in a safe environment. It’s especially worthwhile if you are single.
If you look out on a typical dance floor, you will notice that there are more women than men. Women seem to be more naturally inclined to take the opportunity to express themselves and enjoy the music than guys. But guys do themselves a great disservice by thinking ” I don’t know how to do that” or by worrying “I’m going to look stupid trying” so they don’t go out on the dance floor. I’ve been amazed by guys who aren’t good looking, or are built like Lurch from the Adams Family, who are light on their feet and have taken the time to learn how to dance, and women find it fun to dance with them.
Contemplating the idea of learning to dance generates similar feelings to those one has when thinking about starting an exercise program. You compare yourself to the people who have been doing it for some time – they are in incredible shape, great tone, defined muscles, trim, not fat, and endless stamina. It can be intimidating.
But remember that they didn’t start out that way. They had those exact same feelings when they began. But they were smart enough not to care about what others might think, and they kept their eyes on the goal they had.
The other thing for guys to consider is that more guys don’t dance than do. Most women who enjoy dancing would prefer to dance with a partner than to dance alone. It’s nice to interact with someone and give them attention and to receive their attention. A guy who can dance is welcomed to the floor. So, if you are a guy, it’s very worthwhile to take lessons so that you will, over time, become one of those guys who can really take a woman around the dance floor guiding her, surprising her, and making it fun for both of you.
It’s also the last remaining social activity where the guy gets to lead the woman while both partners get the opportunity to express themselves in their own style.
I think the best way to begin is to start with group lessons. They are inexpensive and you can come as a single or as a couple because there will be a bunch of singles as well as couples there too. Either way, you’ll get to dance with everyone else who is also just beginning. Dancing with other people, if you did bring a partner, strengthens you’re skills because people vary in their lead and response and what they do easily and what they don’t, as well as what they know at that point. There are some women who are very light and responsive in their “follow” and, as they get better, dancing with one of them is like driving a high performance Ferrari. Others may not be as responsive, but can be real fun to dance with. As with all things, attitude plays a large role in the interaction. And everyone literally feels differently. I was surprised once when I put my arm around a new partner – she had a perfect back (!) and, unexpectedly, she felt exceptionally good to hold.
Also, more experienced dancers are usually very nice with beginners for several reasons. First, they remember when they started and only knew how to do just three things. Second, they know that next year you will be a much better dancer with whom they would enjoy dancing, and that you will be more likely to dance with them if they were nice to you when you were starting out. Usually, it is acceptable to invite another’s partner to dance and it’s not a big deal.
Pattern Dancing –
In some ways, pattern dancing is a relatively simple style of dance. It’s a set sequence of moves that is repeated through the song. So, you can have 20 couples on the floor and they all move and do the pattern simultaneously.
Some pattern dances are danced individually, like a line dance or Electric Slide or Cotton Eye Joe. Some are danced as couples. The wedding reception video below shows a pattern called the Traveling Cha-Cha to the country western song “My Maria”. There is a set sequence of four different steps- each one is repeated twice before moving on to the next step.
Each couple has customized their steps. The best pair, IMHO, is a very large man with a petite partner. He’s surprising nimble, has a natural flow to his lead and varies up the execution. There is a couple with the woman in a long red dress and the man spins the woman completely around him changing hands behind his back. There is another couple, the man is wearing a vertical pattern shirt, who double spins his partner instead of a single spin and also, instead of turning just her, sweeps both their hands over and to the outside and they both do the turns together.
I enjoy the variety of moves even within a set pattern and like to cherry-pick the more interesting moves and combine them. Picasso once said “good artists borrow, great artists steal.”
There are some country bars, like Renegades in West Palm Beach, that have both line dancing in the center of the floor and pair dancing with the couples circling around the outside of the floor, so you can choose to dance individually or as a couple.
Even with a set movement pattern, each couple has its own style of dancing,
Free Style Couples Dancing
Ball Room Dancing
There are a large number of styles of dancing you can choose from. Ballroom Dancing is one of the most popular and covers a variety of dance styles – foxtrot, waltz, quick step, rumba, cha cha, tango, paso doble and others. So one can learn a wide variety of dances and be able to dance and enjoy whatever type of music is played. It’s a bit more formal and some of the steps get stylized, so you can show off when you like.
West Coast Swing
One of the styles I most enjoy is West Coast Swing. It has lively, contemporary music. Some of the outstanding couples choreograph their dance and then present it publicly, and some of it is spectacular.
Jack and Jill
Of all the competitions in West Coast, I especially like the “Jack and Jill”. The dancers sign up individually, and one dancer is chosen randomly and then the partner is also chosen randomly. There is no time to rehearse anything, so it is totally spontaneous, improvised and free style.
The “lead” has to have the skills to: select the step, give the signal communicating what he wants the partner to do, anticipate the syncopation and what’s coming up in the music, and react to what his partner does. The “follow” responds in that instant to that signal, listening to what’s happening in the music and embellishes her steps with her own personality. With all the challenges, it is fun to watch, and it’s especially delightful when it all comes together. Both dancers feel the music, and he sets up the move in time so that they both “hit” the beat or freeze simultaneously on a pause, or build off a move that one of them spontaneously improvised. They also surprise each other and it’s fun to watch them laugh. Many times they’ll anticipate the lyrics and if, for example, the words say “I’m down on my knees”, as the words are sung, the dancer is literally down on his knees.
Also, watch the other competitors and their reactions to good sequences and surprise improvisations by either dancer. The women competitors focus on and support the female and the guys do the same for the male. Sometimes you’ll see both groups react to a move. Not only are the individual moves well executed, but, as in martial arts, if you put them together a flowing sequence, the result can be exceptional.
There are a number of special moments. In the first clip below, Tatiana, at one point ducks under Ben’s arm and does a number of rhythmic head swings to either side of Ben’s arm. He responds to her lead by quickly by ducking under her arm and answers back swinging his head up and down – also in perfect timing with the music. At another time, after Ben dips her, he does a high risk move – somehow flipping her so she’s facing down and then she flips over leaning backwards again. They accomplished this difficult move pretty much keeping up with the beat. The communication was instantaneously, difficult for her to execute with minimal leverage points to make the turn, and her trust in Ben was so strong that she didn’t hesitate. If she had hesitated, she might have fallen and they wouldn’t have won first place.
Tatiana later starts a hip sway and lowering down by bending her knees. She then sets up the next sequence by bending her head back and looking up at Ben. He sees her and supports her neck and starts her leaning backwards. He realizes he can swing his leg over her and, without hesitation, does that. As he turns, he no longer is supporting her neck, but she anticipates this and is quick enough to use his leg for support to gently land into a neck bridge.Ben finishes the turn and lifts her back up.
Like in other sporting events, these dancers are among the best in the world and have put in the time to make it look simple and easy, so think of it as a goal. (BTW, the music is more of a merengue than a rock and roll song).
Here’s one more clip of Ben Morris and Susan Kirkland which is an excellent example of improvisation (when was the last time you found yourself lowered flat on the dance floor, intentionally, and being asked to rise like a cobra?) –
Cumbia came together in coastal Columbia as a melding of native Colombians, African Slaves, and the Spanish musical and dance styles. It was introduced to me by a wonderful friend who could dance any style. It’s not common outside the Hispanic community, but can be a lot of fun with its straightforward rhythm and basic step. One of the things I realized early was that many of the moves and turns from one dance can be carried into other styles of dancing, so you keep building your capabilities as you go.
The Cumbia below was well designed and executed by Israel and Rosie. Rosie breaks out into smiles of happiness throughout the dance, particularly after they complete some challenging moves. She even claps her hands after completing a flip. Israel knows what he’s doing and is non-stop. Rosie is a great dancer, beautiful and happy, there’s a joy and exuberance to her dancing, what’s not to like?
There’s a whole variety of Latin dances – salsa, rumba, bachata that are fun. One that I like to play with is the merengue. The basic step is truly simple – step with the left foot and drag the right foot up to the left. A story I heard, which may not be true but makes perfect sense, was that it was started in Santo Domingo by a sailor who had a peg right leg. So, when he danced, he would step with his good left leg and then draw up his peg leg to get centered and repeat his two-step.
What I like about the dance is that its fast and spirited, and it lends itself to getting into very fast spins. You have to have a good tight hold on your partners and start the turn slowly ratcheting up the speed. I take it as close to the loss of control boundary without actually crashing and burning. I find that to keep from getting dizzy, you can focus on each others eyes (there’s a lot of communication and trust going back and forth between those eyes).
You should start winding down to not overdo it and restore your ear balance and then go back into normal turns and regular movements.
Here Suavemente gives an example of the style and rhythm of a Merengue.
The Argentine Tango may be (I think is) one of the most sensual couple’s dance. It is dynamic balance, timing , flow, contact, communication, connection and interplay,Its sensuality begins with the embrace. It can be an “open embrace” with couples separated like in a Fox Trot, or it can be a “closed” embrace. The woman can opt for the open embrace if she prefers. Each couple stands apart and leans into each other like a letter A. Both chests make full contact, but the feet have space to move. The closeness of the embrace varies. If the couple is moving in a straight line together, it’s a fully closed embrace. If turning, it opens up a bit to allow for comfortable movement. When the turn or move is done, the embrace is closed again. After being separated, it is like two magnets pulling back to each other.
Guido, a friend of mine, danced with a woman he really liked and she liked him. They felt a special embrace. He hated breaking the embrace to do a step like an “ocho” ( a series of figure 8 steps and pivots) or a “molineta” where the woman circles around the man, or a “gancho” , or the classic step where the man pivots the woman rapidly on one foot so that the momentum of her free leg swings around and wraps around the mans leg. After the move was done, however, because of the separation, the return was an even greater reward as the couple returned naturally back into a closed embrace. A man in the dance group once complemented the two of them for showing how an embrace should be. Even years later, Guido says that he can remember exactly how she felt within that embrace.
In Tango, the man leads. He has to know what leg each partner is balanced on, choose the step, communicate it, monitor the surrounding traffic since couples frequently stop to do a move, and also pay attention to what the woman is doing because she may chose to pause to do some embellishment in her move. If the woman is feeling playful, she can do a “caricia” where she slides her leg along the outside of her partners foot as she takes her step.
There are a lot of possible moves which keeps it interesting. There are paradas, where usually the lead, will extend his foot and stop the partner’s foot to change her direction, or an entrada where, as she shifts her weight moving forward onto her stepping foot, he steps into her space and pivots her as she is moving. (you have to practice that once or twice :- ) to get the timing down).
There are three styles of Tango – the Tango, the Vals (waltz) and the Milonga. The sensual Tango is the most famous. The Vals has a waltz rhythm, and the Milonga has a spirited, upbeat rhythm and pattern and is a lot of fun.
The Tango is a very civilized dance. Traditional dances are comprised of Tandas which are a series of three songs. In the first song, is kind of a shake-out dance where each person learns the characteristics of the other person. The second dance allows them to be on the same page. By the third dance, they now dance smoothly with each other.
To protect peoples pride, the Argentinians have a custom called the “Cabeceo” or “Mirada”. The men are on one side of the dance room and the women on the other. Instead of risking a visible rejection by walking to the other side of the room and have the woman decline the invitation to dance and and then returning alone, the men will try to capture the eye of someone they’d like to dance with and then cock their head towards the floor or give some other signal inviting her to dance. If she accepts, she will nod and remain seated. He crosses the floor and takes her out to the dance floor.
While it’s an intimate dance, if the man misbehaves, that woman will not dance again with him and the word will get around.
Most cities have surprisingly large numbers of Tangueros. In Chicago, you can go to a different place every night of the week and dance Tango. People from all over the world dance it. Even smaller cities like Orlando can field several hundred dancers.
A friend of mine once went dancing Tango outdoors in a park on a summer evening in Chicago. She was having a great time, and, in the middle of the dance, it started to rain. They continued to dance and got soaked – hair, clothes, everything. They danced on. She described it in a dreamy tone of voice as “magical”.
Jennifer Lopez got it right in the clip below when she says (even better than Samuel Becket): “Don’t say anything… and don’t think……. don’t move…………. unless you feel it.”
This is the “Greek Tango”. Its wonderful to dance to – one of my favorites. The lyrics recount a convoluted Greek myth, of course.
There’s a wistfulness to the sound and for some reason, I shut out the outside world and focus only my partner and the music.
Here are two “reality” (non-Hollywood production and editing) films of a street dances in Buenos Aires. Focus on particularly on the first couple with the lady in the red dress. The lead displays a wide variety of moves pivoting the lady, changing directions, she executes beautiful, extended leg swings and embellishments. Both leads step into their partners space in mid-step spinning then and also sweep their partners “free” foot. Both couples are very experienced.
In the second film below, each of the couples execute a wide variety of steps. The first couple, with the girl in the blue sweater, probably has the most expressive, sensual dance, but they are all technically very good.
“Nations go to war over women like you –
its just a form of appreciation” – “Strut” – Shena Easton
“I spent half my life looking for you.” – borrowed from song “Cotton Eye Joe”
“It’s easy being with you,
as long as we’re together,
there’s no place I’d rather be.”- Clean Bandit – “Rather Be”
“Is there a brown eyed boy in my future?…
I will plant my heart in the garden of my dreams, and I’ll grow up where I wander wild and free..
How do you keep your feet on the ground
when you know that you were born to fly.”
Born to Fly by Danielle Bradbery:
Don’t ever take yourself out of the game.
Too often in life, in one of our least productive pastimes, we worry about being judged by others. Am I going to measure up, be worthy, be loved? Sometimes, we fear rejection by someone who is important to us and it’s easy to think ” She’s (He’s) so _______, and I’m so _______”, or “this position needs _______ and I’m not up to speed with that”, and conclude “this is not going to work.”
Coming from a position of fear, it’s not hard to be negative and jump to an expectation that it isn’t going to work, and in the least bad case, give up hope and expectation, and adopt the feel of losing, – losing the energy, losing the anticipation, losing the joy and transmitting those vibes. In the worst case, it’s like pulling a plant out of the earth while it’s still alive and before it’s even resolved that it’s necessary to do it.
The major problem is that we’re not in the other person’s head and don’t know what they think, what they feel, what they’re hoping for. The other person may very well say no, but, then again, they may very well say yes. They may understand how far you have actually traveled. You don’t know what their tolerance range is. You don’t know if they think the differences and strengths you have might actually compliment the other person or the situation.
For those reasons, never make a negative decision for another person when it concerns you. Make your own decision from your point of view based on what you want, Be positive. Be expectant. Then, let the other person make their decision. They’re a big person and can do that for themselves, and you want them to choose freely.
If you don’t act on what you want, you take yourself out of the game. – Jennice Vilhauer
So, never make a negative decision in life for someone else -Especially, if it is something that is really important to you and that you really want to go forward. You can control half of the equation. Make your decision the way you want it to be. Let them make the other half of the decision. If you want to be in the game, decide to be in the game, take action and play it hard. If it works, Great! If it doesn’t, stand up, dust yourself off, and change your focus. You will see those open doors that are now available to you – but Never take yourself out of the game.
Happy Birthday Song – Mexican Style
In Mexico, they sing a different birthday song than our “Happy Birthday to you”. The song is called “Las Mañanitas” about the morning (mañana) songs and celebrating the day of the Saint for which they have been named.
For those of you born in this month, imagine yourself awaking to a cheerful, lively mariachi band with a dozen singers and players in their dark black outfits with their beautiful embroidery, sparkling silver trim, large sombreros and trumpets and big, bass guitars playing outside your window on a beautiful, sunny morning – just to wish you sincerely a Happy Birthday – pa tí.
Whatever it is that I want from a relationship, I would say, “Be that.” If what you are looking for in a relationship with another person is an exquisite sense of love, then be that.
I have often said, “You do not attract into your life what you want. You attract what you are.” If you are coming from a complete state of loving everything and everyone you encounter, you will find people showing up in your life who will want to relate to you in a closer way.
In dating and in romantic relationships, get your ego out of the way, stop thinking about what is in it for you, stop thinking about how much is coming your way or what is missing from you, and simply say, “How can I make this person’s life as glorious as can be?” This means constantly being in a state of kindness and doing kind things. When you have a choice, always pick kind. Do deliberate loving, kind things continuously. Everybody loves to feel loved that way.
[About first dates] Don’t talk about yourself. Be as inquisitive about the other person as you possibly can. Be as thoughtful and kind as you know how to be. Give them a gift. Catch them doing things right, rather than doing things wrong. It is great parenting advice and it is also great dating advice. Look at the person and see no flaws. See them as perfect, divine creations and treat them that way. The same way you would treat a beautiful tree, or an animal or a sunset. Appreciate them for what they are and ask nothing in return.
[On whether to “stay or go”] I would just say, “Trust your heart.” Staying or going is not relevant, but your heart will tell you exactly what to do. Listen to your heart. Listen to the most inner peaceful voice in you. Whether it says, “This is a place I want to get away from, or someone I want to stay closer to,” you will never be disappointed.
[On how people can value themselves more]
All you have is yourself. That is all you have in this whole universe. When your eyes are closed and when you die, the whole universe disappears. All you have is how you process this world. That inner part of you that is processing this world that is your highest self. That is the part of you that you have to treasure. You have to go through life reminding yourself how incredibly valuable and important and terrific you are. Then you will never have a question about relationships again. There will be so many people wanting to be in your life.
Most people aren’t math fans. But orders of magnitude are important. House Minority Leader Everett Dirksen back in 1969 said that ” A billion here and a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” The Federal Budget then was $867 Billion.
Today, with the overview of both parties, the annual U.S. Budget is $3.24 Trillion with revenues of $2.8 Trillion. The shortfall is borrowed from other countries and individuals. The total US Debt of these shortfalls has risen currently $18 Trillion.
So, what really is a trillion of anything? It’s just the next number after Billion. Right?
Let’s count a Trillion seconds and then put it in perspective:
There are 86,400 seconds in a day. That seems to be a lot of seconds.
In a week, there are 604,800 seconds – say 600,000 seconds
A million seconds is 1.65 weeks.
A billion seconds is 32 years. (That’s quite a jump between the two.)
A trillion seconds is 31,797 years. (Now that is a real jump!)
18 Trillion seconds is 572,344 years.
Christ was born 2,015 years ago.
Woolly Mammoths died out 4,000 years ago.
The first pyramids were built 5,200 years ago.
The first cities were built 7,000 years ago
The last major Ice Age carved out the Great Lakes and the Finger Lakes 20,000 years ago.
Humans migrated into the Americas 30,000 years ago
Neanderthals died out 41,000 years ago
Homosapiens left Africa 60,000 years ago
Homosapiens developed in Africa 200,000 years ago
Neanderthals appeared 350,000 years ago.
18 trillion seconds would carry you 2,000 centuries earlier than the beginning of the Neanderthals who existed 1,500 centuries before homosapiens appeared.
So, then, what is the difference between a billion and 18 trillion in seconds? It’s the difference between 32 years and 572,000 years. The order of magnitude change, to me, seems a bit staggering for a slight syllable difference.
A world traveler was talking about his trips, He would enter one country and make friends during his stay. When it was time to go on the road again, they would tell him that their country was friendly, but to look out when he went into the neighboring country because they were of a different background and it was a dangerous place. He would enter the new country and again find new friends. As he was leaving that country, he smiled as his new friends, in turn, warned him about the people in the next country.
During these travels, he met an old Serbian farmer who told him something that I know from my heart to be wonderful advice:
“Dance with your heart, and
Smile with your eyes”
That’s an overwhelming combination. Hopefully, you have had the gift of knowing someone like that. More importantly, I hope you have the gift of being that person.
If you have any plans of going to Europe (I do), there is a new website that could help you get around. With GoEuro.com, you can enter your departure city, your destination city and date, and the site will respond with the availability and price of the different travel modes available (rail, air, bus). For example, if you wanted to go from Madrid to Barcelona, Bus is the cheapest (and longest 12 hrs.) for $56. Rail is the fastest and most expensive $147. Air is a hair longer (2 minutes) but somewhat less expensive at $112. Couple that with AirBnB.com and Bon Voyage!
A Wedding, A Cello, A Tenor and A Song.
I was invited to a wedding down in Puerto Rico. The ceremony was held in an old catholic church that was refreshed for the wedding. The bride was beautiful, her gown was perfect for her and truly complimented her. The groom was young and lively, also an engineer. They were a great couple. The selection of the musicians was also well done. Two violins and a cello provided the music and then then during the ceremony, a young tenor began to sing. He hit the notes perfectly modulating between soft and strong, and sang with great feeling. The tenor and the strings filled the church with their music through the ceremony playing so exceptionally that, by the end, the two hundred families and friends were applauding both the new couple as well as the musicians – particularly the tenor, Carlos Feliciano.
One of the songs that he knocked out of the park, I wanted to hear again, but didn’t know the name – it was in Italian and operatic in style. Searches of Puccini and Verdi were unsuccessfully. So, I called up my cousin, father of the bride, and found out the piece was called Nessum Dorma for Puccini’s Turandot.
The story line is that a beautiful, icy (and dangerous) princess, Turandot, daughter of a powerful king. She doesn’t wish to be married, but accedes to her father’s wishes with the condition of requiring that any suitor must answer three riddles to win her hand. If they answer incorrectly, they lose their heads.
The latest suitor is the Prince of Persia. But, he couldn’t answer the riddles and will have his head cut off at moon rise. In the crowd for that event is a young man named Calaf, the hero. He runs into an old man with a young slave woman, Liu, whom he recognizes as his father – a deposed Mongol king. The slave girl he recognized from his youth.
When the moon rises, the crowd pleas for the life of the Persian Prince, but Turandot appears and silently motions for the execution to proceed. Calaf sees the Princess for the first time and is overwhelmed by her beauty. After the execution, Calaf orders the gong sounded to announce he will be the next high risk suitor.
Calaf is presented the deadly riddles. The first is “what is born each night and dies at dawn?” He thinks and answers “Hope.” He is asked the second riddle – “What flickers red and warm like a flame, yet is not fire?” He thinks and then responds “Blood”. He is asked the final riddle – “What is like ice yet burns?” Calaf reflects on this and answers “Turandot” and survives the test.
Yet, the Princess refuses to marry him. So, in order to win her heart, Calaf offers her a challenge – if she can tell him what his name is by sunrise, he will forfeit his life.
Turandot accepts, but issues a proclamation that No One Shall Sleep (Nessum Dorma) until they find out the man’s name. If they don’t, she will have the entire city killed. Frantically, they try to find out his name. They figure out that the slave girl Liu knows the answer. As a young girl, Liu had fallen in love with Calaf, Turandot has her tortured with no result. She asks Liu how she can resist the torture and Liu says “Love”. Turandot directs the soldiers to increase the torture and Liu grabs one of their knives and takes her own life, before she gives Calaf up.
As the sun rises, the Princess has run out of time and Calaf sings he has won (vincerò) and forcibly kisses her for her first time and begins to turn her heart.
Here is Luciano Pavarotti singing the same song from the wedding: Nessum Dorma – Calaf’s song of victory.
Yesterday, listening to my smorgasbord of stations on Pandora, a song started playing! Turns out it’s a fairly recent song – very melodic with a touch of wistfulness to it. There lyrics are even more so:
“There is no light if you are not here with me. Lands that I never shared with you, I shall experience with you on ships across seas that exist no more. With you, I will go. I know you are with me”.
Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli
This was my first exposure to Bocelli and he too can hit the low as well as the high notes. I think of him as an international Frank Sinatra – only more mellow and with less brass. He also did a classic Spanish song that’s a mix of love, passion with a dash of the uncertainty , insecurity and ephemerality in relationships . It’s a great song for lovers to dance to:
Besame Mucho –Andrea Bocelli
Looking over his songs, there was a surprising discovery – a duet cover of another classic Mexican love song “Somos Novios” sung by Bocelli and Christina Aguilera, who, although having a latin name, I have never heard sing in Spanish. (Shakira sings in English and Spanish, but her voice is most powerful in Spanish).
The words start: “Somos novios,
Pues los dos sentimos mutuo amor profundo,
y con eso, ya ganamos lo mas grande de este mundo…”
“We’re a couple, we both feel profound mutual love,
and, with that, we have won the biggest thing in this world…”
So here are Andrea and Christina:
Somos Novios – Bocelli and Aguilera
Speaking of Shakira. she was a judge on The Voice and had a thoughtful, soft approach. Though English may not even be her second language, she has an incredible English vocabulary to describe precisely what she’s feeling. In fact, they did a compilation of her comments over the season that was really impressive to listen to. She’s a polyglot speaking five languages! In addition, she is reported to have an IQ of 140. (She gets more amazing the more I learn about her.) Her mom is Colombian and her dad is Lebanese, and she honors both musical traditions. Her name means “Thankful” in arabic and you can thank her paternal grandmother for introducing her to belly dancing. Here’s a short clip of her on The Voice and another while interviewed on-tour.
Shakira on “The Voice”.
Shakira Interviews On-Tour
Below is the song that I was thinking about in audio format.
Ojos Asi – Shakira (audio)
Ojos Asi – Video – The Mongoose Tour – Rotterdam
Shakira puts on a great show and selects a team of top musicians, stage and lighting designers and managers.
Petraeus and the “Terrrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Year”
One of my current reads is “All In” about Soldier/ Scholar David Petraeus. He’s a man of amazing abilities, talents, intelligence, a leader by example, and he has his own weaknesses (which he, like everyone, also has to live with ). Back in 2007, David Petraeus was transferred from the US and reassigned as the commander of the rapidly disintegrating situation in Iraq. Nothing was going his way, but stabilizing and turning it around was his challenge. In reflecting on the situation, he said:
” The situation …is dire, The stakes are high. There are no easy choices. The way ahead will be very hard…
But hard is not hopeless.”
He consistently did new, multiple, different things, took risks that exposed his troops and himself to danger, got involved with the local population and leaders, created security for them, won their trust and turned the situation around.
His philosophy, and practice, is useful in life: Hard is not hopeless.
Food for Thought – A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools. – Thucydides
I am told one should get in 10,000 steps per day. Using a metronome, I found that a brisk walk runs around 120 – 130 beats per minute. However, by adding music at that pace, I forget about the exercise part of it. Leaning forward – with shoulders swinging and full-body tango strides (don’t knock it till you try it- click on picture for more information –>) my full body gets into the rhythmic movement and it turns more into a dance than an exercise – and it’s definitely a lot more fun. I end up looking forward to it in the morning rather than thinking of it as a drudge task. Once I get going, it feels really good and I get a big smile on my face. The playlist below is a compilation of songs in that pace range and is shuffled so that there’s variety every time you load it.
The song rhythms vary, so you may have to shift gears and shorten, or lengthen, your steps to keep the beat and the movement. There’s around five hours of music which should carry you for as long or far as you want. Some of the songs I like were borderline in their tempo, so I edited them to include them. If you don’t have a computer near by or unlimited mobile data, work off a wifi connection.
In trying to start a habit, it helps to set a trigger to get you going – place your shoes by the bed, or exercise before a meal, or when you get home – just pick an event, location or action that you’ll recognize every time and use that as a trigger to get you started. First day, walk a few songs, maybe a block or whatever is comfortable. Next day, when you bump into your trigger again, do a few more songs, walk an extra street and come back. The following day, walk an extra street or a block and build up. As with all good things in life, start out with small steps, and you’ll surprise yourself at how much you will be able to do. The people who are in great shape or who can bench press 300 pounds didn’t start like that. Also, let me know what think about the playlist and any suggestions.
While you are walking, pay attention to the environment around you. Also, tune into your mood, and if it needs improvement, think of a few of the things that you truly enjoy that make you happy and “lift your vibe”. Today the sun is bright and warm in a beautiful blue sky with white puffy clouds with a wonderful breeze cooling off the early morning, A sleek, white breasted osprey glides in silent easy circles over the lake, and a small alligator floats enjoying the water and sun, and, with the music to pump it up – it’s just perfect.
I woke up this morning really pumped. Though sleepy, I was happy to be able to open my eyes and start a new day. It’s also great to wake up next to a person you like and love. We got through the morning “launch”, even dancing through a couple of songs on the radio, and still hit the departure time. There are a couple of songs that played during this time.
The first one, I like has a simple, repeating, adhesive melody, but with oddly dark and menacing words. It is eminently danceable and you can play sensually with the rhythm and each other. It’s fun when you play when you’re dancing and your partner responds even more playfully ( I hope it plays again tomorrow).
“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People (audio).
The second song is a lively, rhythmic , Jamaican Love Song with light, fun lyrics and it fun and makes me want to dance. Find someone you like and dance it with them. The video is also entertaining:
The third song was “Some Nights” by Fun. The energy and strong rhythm of the chorus makes me feel joyful and makes me move. The lyrics are weak and mostly about not knowing what he stands for. It could have been a better marriage if the lyrics were about what he does stand for. But, the music carries the day. The audio version and the written lyrics, to me, are unrelated to the Civil War theme of the video e.g. “jack my style” and finding a distracting female “martyr in my bed”, “worried that you’ll forget me again” and “I wake up… and see your ghost…”, “..die in the desert sun…I called you up and we both agreed” don’t clearly connect for me to a (Civil) war story. Regardless, the rhythm and energy are very danceable.
” Some Nights” by Fun (Nate Ruess)
Another lively song also has Jamaican musical roots – “I’m on Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons.
Once, I hadn’t gone out with anyone for a long time. Dancing ,which I enjoy, was my socializing, but it ended with the music. I then met someone with potential, and this song came to mind. The music is is fun, but the lyrics are what carry it. It shows, after a long winter of solitude, the budding feeling at the beginning of a romantic relationship and the combination of uncertainty and the promising chemistry, and the feeling of happiness at the meeting and the pleasant experience of discovery.
Billy Joel – Longest Time
In affairs of the heart, sometimes one can’t “convince” a woman to change her mind. It reminds me of a passage from Bill Joel’s “She’s Always a Woman”
and she never gives out
And she never gives in,
she just changes her mind
Ultimately, she’s the only one who can change her mind. Hopefully, you can give her information she didn’t know and tell her what you’re feeling, what you wanted to happen and why you wanted it to happen, and, if she’s willing to listen, then maybe…
There’s another passage where he sings:
And she’ll promise you more than the garden of Eden
Then she’ll carelessly cut you and laugh while you’re bleeding
But she’ll bring out the best and the worst you can be
From your point of view, she might be wonderful, but she may cut you and laugh if she’s paying attention, or ignore if she she’s not. (Someone once said the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference- I know that’s true). In all cases, she can inspire you or she can crush you. While this can be uplifting or devastating, you have the ability to uplift her or drain the joy out of her, too.
Here’s the song: Billy Joel – Always a Woman.
I’m a guy. I tend to be quiet, reflective. I see things and do pay attention, but I try not to form an immediate judgement – I think life is a lot like that Indian story where the Chief tells a visitor that his son found and captured a beautiful white stallion and brought it home to train and ride. The visitor responded ” How wonderful that he was to capture such a fine horse”. The Chief responded “Not really. While he was training the horse, it threw him off and he broke his leg.”. The visitor answered” That’s terrible”. The Chief responded “Not really. Shortly after that, my son had to stay behind when the young braves went out on a war party, and many of them were killed”… and the discussion continued like that.
So, as a quiet, romantic male, I heard this song when a fellow worker got married. She was a blithe spirit and he was good ol’ boy and I didn’t know if he would allow her to fly enough to keep her spirit alive. The song is a wish that people can communicate non-verbally and be able to trust in and count on that communication. Words can clarify, but they may ultimately have the same dependability as non-verbal “feeling”. (On reflection, the non-verbal might be more reliable, especially if you are the more discerning type who pays more attention to what people do than to what they say.) So, here is the song:
Alison Krauss – When You Say Nothing at All.
Another marvelous and uplifting Country song talks about the challenges of life and the daily choices that we make regarding them that shape what we do as well as the joy and quality of our lives. Some great lyrics.
I Hope You Dance – Lee Ann Womack
Another good story told in a country song, is about a bar owner, who doesn’t have anyone in his life, and is cleaning up by himself at the end of the night. A woman comes trying to find her purse that she thinks she might have left in the bar. I liked how the story evolves and how they surprise each other.
We Danced – Brad Paisley
In a change of pace, in a movie featuring Richard Gere (I believe), there was a tune that played in the background of one scene in his apartment that was ethereal. I was able to track it down (pre Shazam – what a wonderful application! Its developer should be sainted along with the inventors of air conditioning, the snow blower, and General Zou’s chef) and found it was written by a French composer, Leo Delibes over 130 years ago. It is a duet between a coloratura soprano (the highest range female singer) and a mezzo-soprano (next highest female singer). This music is one of my absolute favorites.
Duet of the Flowers – Delibes
I went to a good concert in Chicago where the headliner was Robin Thick singing “Blurred Lines”. He sang the song well, but disappointed me because he skipped part of his act, confusing his band who didn’t understand that he wanted to just get it over with. His disinterest in being there was obvious to us in the crowd. The last performer was a young woman who’s first songs were very loud and punk-rocky and we bailed to beat the traffic. What I didn’t realize was that she sang a song that I really like and I would have enjoyed hearing it that night. It’s a lively song about how “after all this time”, and things that has passed, she’s telling her boyfriend “she’s still into him”.
Paramore – Still Into You
Blake Shelton’s “My eyes”
I wasn’t a fan of country for much of my life, but I ended up working in a place where that style was popular, so, I got exposed to it and learned that it has some of the best lyrics of any genre.
My Eyes recently came out sung by Blake Shelton, written by Dorff, Osborne and James (sounds like a law firm), and has a clever line that goes:
Come a little closer, Come a little closer,
Girl the way you look tonight,
My eyes are the only thing I don't wanna take off of you
My Eyes by Blake Shelton
I hope you enjoy some of these songs. Let me know what songs you think are fun or uplifting and improve life.
This weekend I was coming back from running an errand and stopped at a pawn shop that I was told was good for finding inexpensive tools. The main door is offset to the right side of the building. The area you enter into, surprisingly, is dedicated to musical instruments. I like and play the guitar so my eyes went to the collection on the facing wall. I looked around and saw an unusual short necked banjo with four pair of double strings hung next to several mandolins. Turns out it is called a “manjo” since it is a combination of mandolin and banjo. My father loved to play his mandolin, so this section brought back fond memories of him.
The thing that most surprised me were two cellos hanging on the wall of the entry door. I asked Erin, the employee who greeted me, about them since I thought it so unusual to see a cello (much less two). My interest prompted him to pull one down and he grabbed a bow. He said he was just learning to play it and shyly started playing a most beautiful piece. It was technically simple, but the deeply resonant tones and the harmonic combinations that he produced were hypnotic. I had never heard a cello up close, and its sound was so strong and vibrant that I appreciated the true beauty of this instrument for the first time. Erin grew self conscious about his imperfect playing and put down the bow and started to pluck the strings falling back on his guitar picking skills, Fortunately, I was able to coax him to continue with the bow and I devoured the music as he played. He finally came to the end of his knowledge of the piece and stopped his solo concert. I was so impressed by the hauntingly beautiful sound of the instrument that I seriously considered buying one. The style of the piece reminded me of Bach’s intricate, woven structure. So, when I got home, I googled Bach and Cello and, searching the results, guessed that it was his cello Concert No. 1 in G Major, and it, indeed, turned out to be the song that Erin was playing.
Tonight, I thought about the odds of walking into a pawn shop in a small town in Florida, and finding cellos there, and then encountering a musician who was learning to play the cello, and who had heard a piece that he really liked, and who was learning to play it, and who loved it enough that he was willing to play it to a total stranger even though his technique and knowledge were very preliminary, and who, also, in spite of his elementary knowledge, was able to convey the beauty of the piece. The odds of all those things coming together was so remote, that I should never have heard the piece, But they did all come together, and it was a transformational. I fell in love with the uniquely full and resonant sound of the cello. I was so grateful for this small miracle life gave me, and for Erin’s willingness to share his love.
Here’s a link to the piece. It is well played, but it is much better heard – and felt in your ears and body – in the presence of the instrument and player (the recording takes about 10 seconds for the piece to start, so hang in there).
Bach Concert No. 1 for Cello by Mischa Maisk (audio)
There is a more contemporary take on this piece by the “Piano Guys”. You might like this lighter version expanded from solo cello to eight cellos all played by just one person with talent, technology and patience:
The Cello Song – by the Piano Guys (audio)
Speaking of cellos, I remember reading about a famous cellist – Pablo Casals. who was reputed to be among the best cellists ever. Born in Spain to a Catalan father and Puerto Rican mother. he was playing violin solos by six. At the age of 11 he heard the cello played for the first time, and was so fascinated by it that he dedicated himself to the instrument. Two years later, he found a tattered copy of the same Bach’s Cello Concertos that Erin likes in a sheet music store. He practiced them every day for 13 years before he performed them in public (I’m glad Eric wasn’t fettered by wanting to be perfect).
The image I remember from this article was of this very old, stooped, slow moving man accompanied by his attractive, dark-haired, 20 year old wife and fellow musician. Casals seemed to have a sense of humor. In his article about Casals, writer John Amis said “Casals dismissed concerns that marriage to someone 60 years his junior might be hazardous to his health by saying, ‘I look at it this way: if she dies, she dies.’ ” The article I remember described how this old man, who, with his many years, had stiffness in his joints, and probably arthritis, slowly took his chair behind his cello. As he began to play, he transformed into a man of supple, quick, strong movements creating his splendid music. The music inspired and transformed him.
Do you play the Body Cello?
If you don’t do this, give it a try. If your partner is about the same size as you, or smaller, lay on your back on a firm bed and have them lay on top of you, chest to chest, and cheek to cheek – like you were dancing. Now pretend that your are going to play your partners body like it is your cello. Reach down and touch the spine where it tapers into the bones just above the tail bone. Press down on each side of the center line of the spine, not on the bumpy ridge of the spine, with the pointer, middle and (if there is space) ring fingers and massage that spot by moving the fingers down holding the gentle pressure and slowly moving outwards. Repeat this moving, again, from the center area outwards. Now move up one vertebrae and do the same slow downward and out movement. After the first few, you’ll move into larger, more sensitive areas with more muscle and tendons. Keep holding the pressure and then slowly move outwards. With some luck, you will start getting some music from your cello in the form of suddenly released soft sighs and even moans. Work slowly all the way up your “frets” and see how much music you can make. Take it up to the junction with the skull massaging gently there too. With practice, your partner will be completely limp. I just like to hold her there afterwards.