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Category: dance

02/04/11 09:24 - ID#53547

Pa Pa (Du Du) Pa Pa Pa*(Du Du)

I am going to try and learn the moonwalk and how to spot the salsa rhythm this week. Quite strangely, they are very similar in nature though completely different on the surface. The prominent effect of each is just a facade to what is happening underneath.

There are actually several rhythms to the salsa all vying for attention. The most prominent is the cowbell racket, which serves as the metronome for the whole track.
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &. 1...

Following the law of contrariness, it is the least useful for dancing the salsa. The Conga and the Clave are perhaps the most useful for dancing. Their relation pretty much stays the same in most songs:

The conga is the muted low "DU DU" with the high "tu". In around 80% of the songs I have heard thus far, it sounds at:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &.
1 & tu & 3 & DUDU & 5 & tu & 7 & DUDU

The Clave rhythm can be interpreted in two main ways (and I am sure, a million other ways). Simply, it's a beat that goes:
Pa Pa, Pa-Pa-Pa

In the west coast LA "On1" style (and in my class) we choose to hear the clave as a 2/3 Split:
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &.
1 & Pa & Pa & 4 & Pa & 6 Pa 7 & Pa &

But NYC chooses to hear the clave on a 3/2 split or the "On2" timing which is just the reverse of what the west coast does. So typical!
1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & 5 & 6 & 7 & 8 &.
Pa & 2 Pa 3 & Pa & 5 & Pa & Pa & 8 &

Put together, all of it roughly sounds like:
Pa Pa DUDU Pa-Pa-Pa(DUDU) - LA "On1"
Pa-Pa-Pa(DUDU) Pa Pa DUDU - NYC "On2"

Isolating this thread of the conga/clave rhythm in the cacophony otherwise known as salsa is really quite complicated, especially with songs that have more instrumentation and variations than... well, a simple clave and conga struck together. The montuno or the piano melody is sometimes helpful because its repetition helps spotting the initial Pa Pa.

Altogether, all of this is driving me nuts... I was chanting the Pa Pa DUDU Pa-Pa-Pa DUDU all of today morning and realized that it was a good way to look like I had lost some marbles. I should have just added my moonwalk efforts to make it more dramatic and completely asylum-worthy.
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Permalink: Pa_Pa_Du_Du_Pa_Pa_Pa_Du_Du_.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 02/05/11 03:37

Category: dance

02/04/11 02:18 - ID#53542

They are irresistible!

I stomped into class all ready to walk out after the beginner's class but could NOT pull myself away from the oh-so-cool steps that Sean and Sarah were teaching the intermediate class. Energy-beam Mariposa made it 5x more fun than it already was. As a result, I am still in both classes and danced every step of my way home today.

I still can't find the correct beat in the music, still can't do any body isolations and rolls and still can't follow intermediate steps. In spite of all these glitches, dancing with Sean and Sarah is probably my most favourite 2 hours in the 168 hours of the week. My spins are improving with the new shoes though.

What is it that these two have?
Magic? It certainly feels like it. I am so hopelessly in love with their classes :-)

PS: Come to Salsa for the Soul at Configuration Dance Studio (Lexington and Ashland) and experience pure salsa joy with Sean Ortiz and Sarah Hooper on Thursdays:
at 6:30 PM: For the rocket-launcher absolute beginner class.
at 7:00 PM: For the advanced beginner super fun class.
at 8:00 PM: For the intermediate insanely creative class.
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Permalink: They_are_irresistible_.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 02/04/11 08:22

Category: dance

02/03/11 02:16 - ID#53536

Sin clave no hay son

I went to Hip Hop Yoga at Hand to Heart Yoga with Erin today. It was a very interesting experience and not at all what I thought it might be. By yoga standards, it was a very intense and very aerobic one hour. I don't know where it stands by hip hop standards. I will probably take a sample class of real hip hop at Verve this Saturday afternoon and report back.

I broke out into quite a sweat. Some of the exercises pushed the isotonic limits of my puny muscles and I could actually feel my muscle fibres and bundles twitching out of sheer disuse. Maybe this is what Neo felt like in the first Matrix movie before he learnt to fly 60 minutes later. But everyone knows that only happens on celluloid. Because 60 minutes later, in real life, I bought swiss cheese slices and ate it on toast. I really like swiss cheese. It has a whopping 20% calcium and 8g protein in one serving.

I also love Celia Cruz.
And I sorely, no, make that VERY SORELY missed her during the class. My muscles probably ached for her because I didn't dig the soundtrack to my exertions so much. I am not sure what the other yogis in class thought. Quite inexplicably, all of them were named "Sarah". Not that replication of names has anything to do with musical tastes... The point is, for me, without Celia's clave, everything was slightly off tune...


Apart from reservations about the music selection, I really liked the class today. I am not entirely sure if it's hip hop, though. It could be... but to my untrained senses, it seemed more like a hybrid of yoga and aerobic dance. I will go again next Wednesday and see if my muscle endurance has improved any. Meanwhile, I am going to have to increase my consumption of egg whites and cheese if I keep up with all this dancing and hurrying about in knee-deep snow. Not an entirely unpleasant side-effect... :-)

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Permalink: Sin_clave_no_hay_son.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 02/03/11 02:19

Category: the odes

01/31/11 09:30 - ID#53526

Feeling of teeth falling out

I somehow drank a lot of chinese loose-leaf green tea today. By "a lot", I really mean A LOT - close to a litre or more. I didn't stop there. I went ahead and ate all the leaves as well because they tasted pretty good at that time - a flavour-packed cross between kale, spinach and mesclun. Their total packed volume equaled around 8 ounces (half my generous tea mug).

I shouldn't have.

Now my teeth feel as if they are about to fall out. It's not a dream. They really feel like they are doing one of those synchronized-in-a-row rockette kicks and getting ready to pop out, any moment now. It's not painful but it's such a peculiar floaty feeling - localized to the gums.

I am now wondering what chemical in those leaves has produced such a potent alteration of perception. I am just a bit curious if anyone else has had such an experience. But then, maybe I am being too optimistic about there being people out there who have actually downed a liter of green tea and eaten all the leaves after that.

I just hope they don't really fall out. I can't deal with being toothless tomorrow.

On a side note, searching for "teeth falling out" on google images brings up a video-chat still of (e:paul) and (e:lilho) labeled "lilhowithbandwidthleprosy1090". 6th row from the top:

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Permalink: Feeling_of_teeth_falling_out.html
Words: 258
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 02/01/11 04:57

Category: music

01/30/11 03:40 - 24.ºF - ID#53516

Besamé en la boca

I posted the live salsa version of this earlier but I couldn't bear to listen to Chemaney going off-tune and murdering the Ricardo Montaner melody. It may have been great in his album but his live version annoyed the hell out of me. And the flamenco dancer was creepy and his jeans were ridiculous.

So here is the much-loved original.

Since I criticized Chemaney's ludicrous jeans, I feel it's unfair of me if I don't even comment on that beach-shot cover of Montaner's album. That has got to be the fake-est beach-shot ever, don't you think? He is sitting IN the water but his trousers are completely dry with the waves splashing all around him. What did they take Montaner's listeners for? Blind?

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Permalink: Besam_en_la_boca.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/31/11 10:34

Category: eating in

01/30/11 01:59 - 22.ºF - ID#53515

Papaya Plot

I developed a crazy craving for papayas over the past couple weeks and luckily found that they sell fabulous Caribbean Reds from Belize at Pricerite for $1.29/lb.


I couldn't resist and grabbed three big ones off the display and dragged them back to my lair yesterday evening. As a result, I am now sitting here with Bengay for some miserably strained deltoid muscles and a particularly awesome salad of cubed papaya with a lime juice and black pepper garnish.

I say, fair trade.

PS: I am SO glad pricerite came to roost downtown. You can't imagine how inconvenient it was to take a bus all the way to Wegmans for things I couldn't get at Guercio's and then wait in the cold for the bus back. I remember walking back with my cart (because there was no bus for nearly 40 minutes) a couple times, Both times, I had 2 gallons of milk spoil on me the next day because of the 80 minute-break in refrigeration. Also, I don't like the price-mark-up at Weggers. It may be fancy looking and all spiffy but I don't think it's good practice to increase prices of produce and keep prices of sugary stuff and baked-goods low because it encourages poor eating habits in the population.

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Permalink: Papaya_Plot.html
Words: 212
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/30/11 02:18

Category: goals

01/30/11 08:14 - 24.ºF - ID#53513

Factoring February

I skipped yoga as well as salsa this past week because of grad-school worries. And an alarming proportion of my hair is edging towards white. I have concentric worry lines under my eyes and I think I am slowly losing my mind whatever meagre muscle I have on my body. But then, when did I ever let something like that stop me from making wild resolutions? Never. So in February, I will
  • Do a whole lot more of statistics with R Fridays and Saturdays
It helps that I actually like R as opposed to hating SAS.
  • Salsa Salsa Salsa Thursdays

I am dropping out of the intermediate class. I am not good enough for all the complicated patterns and frustrate myself in the process. And something about that class edges me out of happy mode. Could be one of the leads or a combination of things... I don't want this minor detail derailing my fascination with salsa music and dance. The beginner's sessions with Sean and Sarah, on the other hand, are pure magic and I feel like a sufi saint in them...

  • Yoga and Hip Hop Wednesdays
Erin at Hand to Heart (Bryant & Elmwood) is a really amazing guide. I might add the Wednesday evening Hip-Hop yoga to my vinyasa sessions. Who knows, someday you might see me suddenly twisting into this pose:

I guess that leaves the first three days of the week for having massive freak-outs about graduating. Fair enough.
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Permalink: Factoring_February.html
Words: 251
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/31/11 10:27

Category: eating in

01/25/11 09:44 - 29.ºF - ID#53496

Food processor Vs. Blender Vs. Wand Vs. Knife

So I had this interesting argument about the functions of a food processor vs. a Blender vs. a Stick/Wand Blender and a knife today afternoon with a couple department-mates.

Do you think a food processor can completely replace a blender, stick/wand blender AND a knife? Really? When I think of food processor, I think of mushed up poorly cut vegetables. How many of you have ALL the above in your kitchen? I have everything except a food processor. I get immense pleasure in chopping stuff down to cookable units with a variety of knives. Should I be lusting after a food processor? Can a food processor knead bread or cookie dough? What can a food processor do that a combination of the other three can't? If you were setting up your minimalist kitchen, would you choose a food processor over the other three?
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Permalink: Food_processor_Vs_Blender_Vs_Wand_Vs_Knife.html
Words: 145
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/25/11 09:47

Category: the odes

01/25/11 08:21 - 29.ºF - ID#53494

Stressed out.

Things have not been going smoothly of late. Too many failures, too much uncertainty, too many iffy outcomes, too many hashed presentations, too many negative vibes, too little inspiration, drained out ideas... I really want this phase to end and a better phase to roll around. All of this is wrecking havoc on my sleep. I used to sleep at least 3 hours at a stretch. Now I get up every 1.5 hours with random nightmares and stretches of worry about whether I will ever graduate and whether my dissertation will ever reach completion.


I somehow need to claw back into focus, re-prioritize everything and fast-track somehow. Just not sure how to successfully spin into that resolve. I guess the new salsa shoes aren't really of much help here...

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Permalink: Stressed_out_.html
Words: 129
Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/25/11 09:15

Category: dance

01/25/11 07:31 - 29.ºF - ID#53493

Salsa for the Soles

I came home to these strangely attractive eccentric-looking extremely light shoes today. Their passing resemblance to football shoes is deceptive. Instead of the turf-gripping evil field spikes, the soles of this pair of Gabellini "The Fly" are layered with salsa-smooth suede instead.

They fit me like a glove. I am seriously floored. The floor feels like an alternative padded universe through every inch of their suede soles. Balancing on the balls of my feet feels very natural and my turns feel almost effortless compared with every other shoe I have ever worn or tried out... But I guess their real test will be in class. Can't wait to try them out! Come and see them in some salsa action at Lexington & Ashland, 7 PM Thursdays with Sarah Hooper & Sean Ortiz! :-)

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Permalink: Salsa_for_the_Soles.html
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Location: Buffalo, NY
Last Modified: 01/25/11 07:43



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mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

mike said to grandma
I'm so glad you made it safely!...

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