Current Events I’m planning to attend

Frankly, I’m swamped with writing and marketing.  So I’m not planning on going very far from home this month.

I do teach a group class at Ocean State Health and Fitness on Thursday evenings at 7:30 for those who would like to start or improve their dancing.  Or, you can schedule a private lesson.  I’m in the phone book.  Or link to riDance.com and check out Movable Feet on the left side column.

I try to get out at least once a week to go dancing.  Favorite places are the Knickerbocker in Westerly for Swing, K&S dances for ballroom (a bit more rarely), and I like to pop into other places from time to time.

As far as food reviews go, I have several on the Yelp site that I will be transferring and expanding on this month and I hope to add a few more as I go.  Current favorites for breakfast based on where you are…

  • East Greenwich area – Jiggers is first choice, Dante’s or Crosby’s if Jiggers is closed (like Tuesdays).  Ed’s Roost is excellent too (but it is cash only)
  • Narragansett area – Crazy Burger
  • Exeter – Celestial Cafe ( weekend brunch)
  • Westerly area – The Cooked Goose  (check for their winter vacation shutdown)

There are many more, but these are among my favorites.

Why the Basic’s Matter

Nowhere do you get a clearer picture of how much the basics, the fundamentals, matter in life, than in dance.  For the leader, basic footwork, a fundamental frame, and attention to timing is essential to giving a good lead to your partner.  Likewise, the ability to follow, the ability to respond correctly to the subtle shifts in a partner’s lead, and simply looking your best on the floor is dependent on making sure your basic is the best it can be.

I always try to explain to my students that the real key to becoming a better dancer is not to learn a billion steps.  Instead, try to learn the fundamental characteristics of each dance.  Then master the basic step in each dance and practice it relentlessly until you do it without thinking.

When each step you take in the basic is done properly, then you are ready to transition to other more complicated steps and return to that basic step while maintaining a constant flow of movement characteristic with the dance.

Just as martial artists must respond instantaneously to their opponent’s moves, counter, and return to balance,  a good ballroom dancer must respond quickly within the constraints of the music, the position of others on the floor, and the characteristics of the dance..  Focus should not be wasted on basic footwork.  Incorrect or sloppy footwork leads to poor balance, improper timing, and missed signals.

For the leader, having to think about your basic footwork means you lose time in the selection of what steps to lead.  You can miss what people are doing around you.  You can fail to see how your partner is reacting to your lead.  Not to mention that if you are concentrating on your footwork it is quite likely your frame is suffering and you don’t look your best!

For the follower, it can mean being off balance in a turn, missing leads, looking down, and occasionally getting a foot stepped on!

So, don’t worry about how many steps you know.  Worry about how well you are doing them.

 

How I Review

This is a new blog area for me.  I’m expanding on the reviews I do for Yelp.  I don’t do a lot.  I’m pretty choosy.  Here, you will get some additional insight on my choices for good places to eat.  I’m also going to tell you a bit about my philosophy on food reviews.  I’ll comment a bit on some of the other factors I take into consideration, like service, ambiance, handicap accessibility, noise level, and even pet friendly service.

Obviously, food quality is of paramount importance.  Fresh fruits, meats, and vegetables are the starting point of any good meal.  Portion size is another factor.  These form the basis for the food portion of any review.

However, I often see reviews in which the reviewer seems to have blundered into the wrong place.  Looking for a quiet meal and elegant dining at a sports bar during the Super Bowl is ludicrous.  In fact, expecting great service is pretty much out the window too.

When I review I try to see what the focus of the restaurant is.  Are you trying to be an upscale restaurant, a country getaway, or a family friendly buffet?  I do not expect to get coq au vin, from a pizza and burger joint.  If the servers are coming to my car on roller skates, I’m not expecting the menu to have a big wine list.

My expectations are also set by what I want to eat.  When hungry I look for places with large portions.  If the waistline is pushing staunchly against the belt buckle, I seek out places with smaller portions and more interesting choices.

I try to give a more detailed view of my expectations in my review.  So, if I tell you that the décor is fun and interesting,  I’m also telling you that it’s not the place for a quiet, intimate, candlelight dinner.  If I say I liked chatting with the servers, that means I talked to them and they were intelligent, bright, conversationalists.  If I say the servers were efficient and the restaurant was intimate then I’m telling you that this is not a place for a sweats and sneakers.

I also have a personal policy of never giving a bad review.  It’s not that I have never been to a bad restaurant or gotten a bad meal.  I’ve had some that left me in an intimate relationship with the porcelain goddess for hours.  You won’t hear about those places in my reviews.

Why?  Because it serves no useful purpose.  I’m happy to tell you where you should go to eat.  I’m happy to tell you who has great service, wonderful food, and a great ambiance.  I would rather direct you to those places than to denigrate a restaurant that may have gotten a shipment of bad meat, that fired the incompetent chef I reviewed two weeks earlier, or who axed the waitress who got my order wrong three times in a single meal.  You don’t want to know all the bad places to eat – you want to know the good ones.

I also believe that price is important, but not critical, in choosing a restaurant.  I have enough of the penny-pincher in me to want to get a good meal at a fair price.  I don’t want a great meal at a great price.  Why?  Because I’ll love the food and they will either have to drop their quality or raise their price to stay in business.  If they don’t. I’d be reviewing a business that would soon be hosting a “For Sale” sign.

That said, a good chef can turn ordinary ingredients into something extraordinary.  Those are the places I love to find, and love to share.  And, when backed by a great service staff, and a good atmosphere, those are the places I highly recommend.

I’ll have more to say on that later.  But, I think it gives you an idea of where I’m at.

 

Living Life

I was thinking today about how many times we go through a whole day, just to reach the end and measure ourselves against what we have accomplished.  We make lists of things to get done, check them off, and go to bed, often unsatisfied with the outcome.  Usually this is because we have even more things to do tomorrow.

I admit I live in that world most of the time.  But, once in a great while, I manage to do something unexpected, something I personally enjoyed doing, that wasn’t called for, that wasn’t part of the plan, and I realize that much of my life is happening while I am hunched over, planning what I am going to do next.

There is something to be said for getting the essentials for life done, but just how much further should we go in pursuit of “getting it all done.”

If you are like most Americans, (and increasingly like most people in the world who are slavishly following in our footsteps) then you have more things to do in any given day than you can possibly accomplish.  The vast majority of self-help books basically consist of a set of guidelines for filtering out what are the most important things you want to do, arranging them in order of priority, determining how long each will take to do, and consoling yourself that you spent your entire day doing the most important things.  The result is supposed to be a happy productive life.  But for many I suspect it simply means that you have a really good idea that you are totally overwhelmed.

So, I’d like to offer a prescription for American Time Management.

Chill.

Take a deep breath.  Close your eyes.  Let it out.  Now, say this out loud to yourself.

“I owe myself a break.  I’ve worked hard, I deserve it.  I am taking five minutes, right now, that are just for me.  Not for friends, family, society, or habits.  I am not going to think of anything to do.  For five minutes I am going to relax and take in the whole world around me.  I am going to appreciate the simple fact that I am in control of my destiny.

“Maybe I’ll have a cup of tea.”