Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vladimir Vysotsky

Vlladimir Vysotsky is one of the most beloved of Russian bards. "the greatest Russian bard of the second half of the 20-th century", "voice for the heart of a nation". "Admired by all circles of Soviet society, a voice of dissent, but not a dissident, accepted by the Soviet government as an actor, but never as a poet and singer, Vysotsky held no office, no titles. "He was simply a son of his country, he was very Russian. He did play a very political role, because in his songs he came out against evil force, against the ugly system under which he was born." It is often said that his lyrics are untranslateble but here is one I found that conveys a good point. Unfortunately the lyrics are always much better in the original language, and there is just something unrepeatable in the Russian language in poetry.

Be thankful
Russian title: Podumaesh, s zhenoj ne ochen' ladno...

Who cares that your old lady's always nagging?
Who cares that you are breaking out in hives?
Who cares that, once again, you're off the wagon?
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

Big deal -- your only jacket doesn't wear well.
Big deal -- the nightmares tortured you till five.
Big deal -- somebody mugged you in the stairwell.
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

Yeah, yeah -- your poker partner died of scurvy.
Yeah, yeah -- you're looking pale and sleep-deprived.
Yeah, yeah -- you spent a week-end on a gurney.
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

So what if you've got footprints on your forehead?
So what if your career just took a dive?
So what if your cholesterol is horrid?
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

No sweat -- you never learned to play the fiddle.
No sweat -- another summons has arrived.
No sweat -- your head is hurting you a little.
Be thankful that, at least, you're still alive.

It's true that it's my fault, and I am sorry.
It's true -- you can't achieve unless you strive.
It's true. I only have a single worry:
To whom should I give thanks that I'm alive?

In Russian:

Подумаешь - с женой не очень ладно.
Подумаешь - неважно с головой.
Подумаешь - ограбили в парадном.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Ну что ж такого - мучает саркома.
Ну что ж такого - начался запой.
Ну что ж такого - выгнали из дома.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Плевать - партнер по покеру дал дуба.
Плевать, что снится ночью домовой.
Плевать - соседи выбили два зуба.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Да ладно - ну, уснул вчера в опилках.
Да ладно - в челюсть врезали ногой.
Да ладно - потащили на носилках.
Скажи еще спасибо, что живой.

Да, правда - тот, кто хочет, тот и может.
Да, правда - сам виновен, бог со мной!
Да, правда. Но одно меня тревожит -
Кому сказать спасибо, что живой?

Monday, July 27, 2009

I can't wait to be out in the sun for a weekend!

I have just yesterday returned from a camping trip with my family and extended family, as I call our Russian friends here in America since we basically have become a huge family over the past 15 years or so. My dad picked me and another family friend up from sunny Ann Arbor and we headed to the north of Michigan to the AuSable river, only about a three hour drive.

It started raining halfway through our drive. Thankfully it had stopped when we got to our pick up location. Here are my dad's friends waiting for us.

The smoke you see rising on the next picture is from the cooking already going on at our campsite...mmmmmm ribs! My mom and my brothers and some others had already gotten there the day before and have been waiting for us.

I cannot remember which English author said this but it went something like "Only the English and the Russians can love nature not because (...insert reason...) but simply just." My dad was saying this just as I was taking this picture.

Here is a tour of the campsite:
The kitchen and dining room

My bedroom

And other bedrooms

The living room

The bathroom

Friday night it did not rain anymore but everything was wet and the sky overcast. That night with tea and whiskey and a guitar we sang old Russian songs around a blazing fire.
Despite rain at night and in the morning the sky did clear up in the afternoon of Saturday and gave us a few glorious hours of dryness and warmth. The kids even went for a swim. But that was about all we got as the heavy gray clouds rolled in again and the rain smashed down. The kids hid out in the tent with a deck of cards while the older people huddled under the tarp and ate Pringles and tea made on the tiny gas tank with the dog that had gotten sprayed by a skunk two days ago. Everyone became a meteorologist that weekend trying to figure out wish way the clods were moving an if that bright spot in the horizon would be coming over us or not. It never really seemed to. The sun, that tease, would peek through the clouds once in a while but once we stuck our noses out to see if it would stay the rain shooed us back inside. Half of the camp, the men, would go out fishing early in the morning, in the boat with ample supply of bait and beer and stay out until basically dinnertime. The rest of us entertained ourselves on the site. The highlight must have been after a certain very torrential downpour on Saturday afternoon, we needed to start the fire for dinner. The rain let up for a few hours with only occasional sprinkles and my mom dragged in some birch logs and as dry was not an option, we used sketch paper from the kids to start some birch bark to start some twigs to start some branches and so on. It took about an hour of fanning, lighting and relighting the carefully and strategically built pile to get the flame going. The whole process was quite comical/entertaining/energizing/heartwarming for everyone. But we did get the coals going. Then the men came back and poured some gasoline on it. We made dinner ate it as it started raining and the fire was in danger of dying again. Fashioned from a plastic table cloth and a few sticks we tried to protect the fire, at least the coals. After about half an hour of rain the fire was resurrected an the day was finished in some degree of warmth. The next day was our last. We left by about two in the afternoon as the sun smiled down on us from clear blue skies. I learned a new word that weekend "volgliy" or волглый, which means not wet or damp but not really dry either, which describes the state or basically everything that weekend. Two things would have made this weekend more perfect, either separately or in combination: the sun or someone to snuggle with. I still choose to remember the time with fondness because it was the respite and change of scenery I needed and the air was pure and the surroundings were glorious.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

new favorite song

One of my top favorite songs just added to the list - Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.
I liked the song before but for some reason and especially after watching "Immortal Beloved" I just listen to it over and over again and absolutely cannot get enough of it. so simple but so emotional; and it matches my feelings of late very well.

Lets take a few moments out our busy lives and have a nice listen even if you have heard it before. You wont regret it. Its very soothing, to say the least.

A love letter

Letter from St. Paul to the Corinthians

Some of you may have seen this quote before...
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately as well as spiritual discussions with my mother and this has got to be one of the best quotes ever. but just to read it is to see it superficially and say "ok, I get it" and then one forgets really. But to truly lie that way is what is important. When people say that love requires sacrifice what they often picture is an unbalanced system I feel. Sacrifice and love must be mutual for any relationship to work and Im not just talking about relationships between man and woman I am talking about friendships as well. Any person you feel is dear to you. I have also heard people say Love is overrated but then what do you live with? what are all your friends and family to you? Love is not a one dimensional aspect in life everyone hopes to attain its something that is always present whether one accepts it or not. It might take someone a while to really realize what it is, but if you were to truly be in a world with no love people would be a lot worse off that they are now. Anyway that about al I can write in the time I have, in terms of random thoughts

"If I speak in human and angelic tongues 2 but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Thursday, July 16, 2009


"Hope - is not a wish that sometime in the future things will get better... but seeing that within this day full of despair and suffering and sorrow, a light shines and love glistens; that the light in the darkness really glows and sparkles and the there is no way that dark can conquer it with any of its forces. Thanks to this hope we are filled with the assertion that in the end of ends light and good will prevail. This is our hope, and this is our faith, and this is where our love starts to grow." - Метрополит Антоний Сурожский

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Its been a while...

This past sunday I went to Balroom Dance club open dancing at the Michigan Union and even though it was in the small Pendleton room, I had a lot of fun dancing. The past few weeks I would come only for about an hour or less towards the end, if at all, and even though I always have fun dancing some times are better than others. I realized after almost 2 hours that I hadn't danced that much in a really long time. I had danced almost to every song that as played. My feet were screaming this. And my pedicured toes were very angry. An yet, a bunch of us went out salsa dancing at Cafe Habana afterwards. For another two hours. It was great! the room was not as crowded as it usually is on Thursdays and we were basically the only people dancing there. A lot of the team members that usually go to open dance were not there that day perhaps because of the IDB dance camp that weekend, or because it was a holiday weekend, or because of the room the dancing was in. But, those that came managed to meet and befriend new people as well as see some older acquaintances. It just turned out to be a very fun night, despite the fact I could hardly walk the next day. Its time to renew my friendship with my calluses, if I plan on dancing next semester. Step 1: studio time. Step 2: find a partner.

random thought of the day: I think this series of pictures is hilarious and awesome!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This Rhumba makes me want to cry its so perfect

I really enjoy the Blackpool congress demonstrations because everything looks so simple (even though I love costumes and showcases) and yet so full of emotion, the dancing is pure and beautiful. no fillers or mucking around, as fun as it is to watch.

This is one with Yulia and her old partner Max Kozhevnikov, I think 2 years ago when they still danced together. Another rhumba. (although the announcer is a bit of a fruit).

Do you like one over the other? Why? I can't say that I like one better but I dont really like to compare dancers because they are great in their own ways and its way beyond me to critique them. Especially when it is two favorite couples. I think both couples demonstrated the contrast of quick and slow movements characteristic of the rhumba exquisitely. When I watch how Michael and Joanna dance to this music that beforehand I really did not like (Empress Orchestra - Cuban Love Song) and how they made every movement match the movement and changes in the music I get goosebumps - and that's from the youtube screen, can you imagine live. Now everytime I hear this song I get this image of Joannna and Michael, and I can really get into the movement when I pretend I am her, it really helps, and its fun, pretending you are that good, believe it or not it makes me dance better, I think.

I realize that I have not posted any standard videos even though I dance all 10 dances. And I really like standard as well. well, here are a few. Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti, number 1 champions in the world right now. Tango please.

Do you see how still their frame is?!

Timothy Howson and Joanna Bolton. Waltz. The thing I really like about these demos is that they do choreography that I have learned and seeing pros do it makes it even more fascinating, "OH, thats how it looks!"... on the dance floor in a different sequence. Its like, "I know that move! oh and that one! We do that in our routine!" Its really makes me feel connected to my dancing more and inspiring. Of course seeing cool stuff that I cannot do yet is awesome but its more achievable when you see the people you admire do the thing you just learned, its almost if a link is formed.

And Ill finish with something that just blew me away, its very unconventional and yet not extremely complicated if taken separately.

Brian Watson and Carmen former Latin Champions and William Pino and Alessandra, top standard professiols.
Its absolutely mesmerizing! They are doing the same movements but one is standard stylized and the other latin. And using the same music they do their own style of dance! And the way they keep switching partners...This whole showcase makes me giddy! Watch it, Love it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

King of Storytellers

So I picked up another book by one of my favorite authors, Rafael Sabatini. I have developed an intense love for his stories ever since I read the first one. The one Im reading now is "Master-at-Arms" but some of my favorites include "The Sea Hawk", "The Black Swan", "Scaramouche", "The Tavern Knight", "Adventures of Captain Blood". The thing I love about these stories is they all happen right in my favorite time periods and settings: 1700s - either French Revolution, at sea on ships, England, nobility, etc. Most often a cool, and suave but not too cocky hero with calculating, intelligent, intense and sparkling eyes falls in love with a woman of equal stoicism and intelligence, and she with him, evan though in the beginning they do not always know it. I love everything about these novels from the swordfights to the overcoming of self-restraint and seeming emotionlessness of both parties to finally admitting their feelings for each other in subtle tones with gleaming eyes. It all happens so grippingly involving a tangled or veiled past perhaps that the hero himself is unaware of but soon discovers and along with so much intrigue and betrayal and mystery and then the final revelation which sets everything right. The thing I probably most admire about these heroes is the way they keep their temper and cool facade in whatever situation they may be in, whoever is threatening them, they keep their impenetrable face and level voice and witty, non offensive comments (unless one decides to takes them so). The only sign of any disgruntlement being a steely look passing through the eyes with a hint of challenge and a subtly cutting remark that reminds one that he is a man of honor and it will not be taken advantage of. These men are always excellent swordfighters and are deadly with a pistol, in fantastic physical shape and irresistibly handsome, and very fast thinkers with a broad understanding what is going on around them "You are a man to whom a woman could resist nothing." And yet they are not womanizers but sincere gentlemen. Sabatini novels are not dirty romance novels, otherwise my mom would never had given one to me at the age of 16 but they are more classic romance and adventure novels and they can be for both male and female audience I think, although I have a suspicion women may enjoy them very much, not to be sexist or anything. Ever since then I was just drawn in and in love, I could not put the books down, there was always something happening that kept me guessing in every story. For anyone interested in a good action read, these are quite an adventure. I just wanted to post this to share my opinion on something I enjoy so much!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A couple favorites, more to come...

This is a video of Slavik Kryklyvyy and Karina Smirnoff, my first favorite latin couple. When I just started dancing they were my idols. Alas, they broke up and this was probably one of their last performances together. They were the number 2 couple in the world for a while after Bryan Watson and Carmen. Here is their 2005 rumba, which many of you Im sure have seen but for those who havent enjoy (and for those who have, also enjoy!)

And here is their 2003 chacha, one of my favorite performances ever.

And now here is a video of another couple that I recently found and now really like, Ive heard of them before but never really watched, I cant believe it either, because theyre awesome. Stefano di Filippo and Anna Melnikova. Super fun to watch!
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Jive!

"May we please have...the Rumba."

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Just starting

Since I just started this blog not to long ago from some inspiration from friends, I wasn't sure what to write about. But I thought that the thing I've grown to love and treasure would be a good start. SO Ballroom it is (along with some random thoughts and daily activities). I decided to share some of the experience and knowledge I gained in the past 5 years with people who are either interested, just picking up the activity or feel like discussing some of the pointers I will be posting.
So to begin I want to post some videos of perhaps my favorite dancing couple: Riccardo Cocchi and Yulia Zagaruchenko. I love this performance along with basically anything else they do. They are the number 2 couple in the world behind Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis, whom I also admire greatly. They actually performed this showcase, a cheeky chacha at the Ohio Star Ball in November 08 and I saw it live! It was one of the best dance experience related of my life!

They also did this performance, a samba and medley, which was equally breathtaking, which I also watched at OSB. Their sense of musicality along with music choice is simply magnificent. And of course they won the best couple award!

And check out this video as well. This is their rumba - once again gorgeous beyond expression.

All of these videos, asides from being taken from youtube are from the World SuperStars Dance Festival held each year in Tokyo, Japan, where they have the world's best or so couples in Standard and Latin do 5 showdances each. So best dancers do best dances although sometimes they do come up with strange, strange things.

Standard dress for sale!

I am selling this standard dress that I made. Its perfect for smooth and standard, syllabus and open as it has detachable floats. The fabric and flow is the best quality of the dress as the skirt is huge and swells and spins wonderfully. it does not have underwear attached so something skin colored underneath is recommended. I have attached a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. I am selling it for $100USD because the fabric is quite expensive and the dress is hand made and fitted. It can be used for standard and smooth and both syllabus and open events. Floats are provided but they are not permanent as they can be attached in many different ways. The point was versatility. Keep in mind that the dress was made for someone small ~ about 5'2 w/o heels. Let me know if you are interested.