The romantic TANGO VALS

There are three kinds of Argentine tango: tango salon, milonga, and tango vals. They are written in 4/4, 2/4, and 3/4 time, respectively.

Tango valses tend to have a romantic feel and vals tandas (sets of 3-5 related works) often are played toward the later part of the night to encourage newly-met couples to exchange contact info.

Tango valses are fast tempo, so dancers typically only step on one beat of each measure. Usually but not always this is the first of the One-two-three beats. But for variety dancers may throw in double- or triple-step sequences.

One of the most popular is “Desde el Alma” (dez-del-ol-ma, “Out of the soul” or “From the soul”). It was composed by 14-year-old FEMALE musical prodigy Rosita Melo in 1911. The words were much later written by her husband, then the more famous version by Homero Manzi.

The Rose Pavilion was a large two-story chalet style cabaret and ballroom surrounded by a garden. Tango greats played their music and danced there during its lifetime from the late 1800s to 1929. (Other non-tango events were also held there.)

“Heart of gold” was written by composer, orchestra leader, and impresario Francisco Canaro.

“Tears and Smiles” was composed by Pascual de Gullo & N. Casuscelli.

“Blue Illusion” was composed by Alfredo De Angelis.

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Tempest in a teaspoon – the HUGO AWARDS 2015

The Hugo Awards are given out each year by the World Science Fiction Society at the World SF Convention. They have never meant anything to me. I only read novels, and few of the winners have ever attracted me. Often I have never even heard of them.

The several times I went to the WorldCon, the yearly convention, I ignored the Hugo activities and focused most on the panels, dealer’s room, exhibits especially of art, and the costume competition. And most of all a chance to meet writers whose works I loved.

This year I became mildly interested in a bit of political wrangling started by two small group of writers and fans who felt the Hugo Awards weren’t being given to the kinds of sci-fi and fantasy which truly deserved it. Wired Magazine gave what seems to me to be the most objective account of this drama – or melodrama.

Design: Matthew Dockrey, Photo: David Bliss. Click photo for more works by David Bliss Photography

The vote-counting process is called Instant Runoff Voting and is the same one used by the Oscars. Some governments are also decided this way. Here are the numbers of votes for the 2015 Hugos.

Below are the 2015 winners in order of their wins, linked to Amazon so you can get some idea of what the books are like and can read samples of them and maybe buy them. Respectively they are alien invasion, high fantasy, space opera, urban fantasy, and epic space war.

The only vaguely odd book is the winner, written by a Chinese and first published in China. It is set in China during the Cultural Revolution, but does not glorify or vilify communism. The time and place is only the backdrop.

The Three-Body Problem
Goblin Emperor
Ancillary Sword
Skin Game
Dark Between the Stars

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BIG BANG THEORY WRITERS Comic-Con 2015 joint interview

I usually only post short videos. This one is nearly an hour long.

But my lady friend and I are huge Big Bang Theory fans, and we’ve always wondered what its writers were like.  We watched the whole video & were not bored. Especially we enjoyed the hilarious “GuthrapAmy” fan fiction which Miriam Bialik and Kunal Nayar read toward the end!

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Tango MILONGA: Sebastian Arce & Mariana Montes

The Argentine tango (contrary to myth) did not start in brothels. It began as a folk dance called the milonga in Uruguay and Argentina well before 1900. The music was in 2/4 time and the dance was bouncy and happy.

As often as not it was danced on dirt or grass in the beginning, at a picnic site, in a backyard, or in the patio of a tenement. Later it moved to bars where the floor might be uneven concrete or tile as often as wood. Because of these rough surfaces, each individual step was lifted and placed, not gliding close to a surface as in many ballroom dances.

The “steps” or patterns were very simple and the “hold” was close, perhaps little more than suggestive bumping and grinding. Later as the dance became more family oriented and done in polite society the hold became looser and the steps trickier.

Here are three videos of milongas done as show dancing, elaborate and at least partly choreographed. The first two couples are Sebastian Arce & his partner Mariana Montes, dancers from the age of eight. He lives in Russia, she in Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia where she teaches at the Tangomeet tango school. From those bases they travel all over Europe to perform and teach.

Sebastian Achaval & Roxana Suarez are friends who’ll soon be at the tango school.

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S. K. DUNSTALL, sci-fi discovery

I just discovered a new author whom I like very much: S. K. Dunstall – who is actually Sherylyn and Karen Dunstall. I highly recommend their first book: Linesman. It’s available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sources.

The story is space opera with many of the usual elements of the subgenre. However, the characters are believable, the writing spry but not hurried, and the story compelling. I read it straight through with few breaks for food or relieving hydraulic pressure. And I begrudged those breaks!

I eagerly await their sequel: Alliance, out February 23rd, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve pre-ordered it.

Click the cover images for more info.

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I don’t know how good an idea it is for people with no flight training to buy something like this aircraft, even if they can afford the luxury. But it does show us that we are one step closer to having widely available personal aircraft. Much thought went into making the aircraft easy and safe to fly. Whether they did enough, only time will tell.

This is the Icon A-5 Amphibious Light Sport Aircraft.

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PAPER TOWNS movie is enjoyable

I’m a big fan of young adult fiction and have been for 20+ years. Non-fans often believe in a stereotype of teen fiction as juvenile in both style and content to match its main audience, juveniles.

The stereotype is untrue. Much of it is the equal of any other kind of literature. Styles vary widely, some of it a bit experimental, some of it unconventional. Topics vary all over the arenas of modern life, including some pretty dark ones.

One of the more popular writers is John Green. And one of his more popular books is Paper Towns, about a young man obsessed with former childhood playmate, and the lengths he goes through to find her when she goes missing. It has been made into a movie (the second made of one of his books; the first was the blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars).

I saw it today and enjoyed it a lot. It actually improves on the book. Which you might want to read before seeing the movie. You can get it from your local library and from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, among other sources.

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I’ve recently begun to reread the Brotherhood of War series by W. E. B. Griffin. It’s still as compelling this Nth time around as the very first time when it was begun years ago.

There are nine volumes which cover the period from the end of World War II through the Viet Nam conflict. They center around four soldiers who began their career as lieutenants through the promotion of some of them to general.

There is a fair amount of action but the series is most notable for the secret conflicts between the various services and within some of them, for public attention, private influence, and budget. It is surprisingly compelling stuff.

You can probably check out the individual books from your library, but can also download ebook versions. I suggest you start with The Lieutenants. To read the first few chapters click the image.

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AGENT CARTER Comic-Con panel

The first season of Marvel’s Agent Carter is available for streaming through Amazon Instant Video and on September 18 will be available on Blu-ray and DVD.

Click the image to read text excerpts from the Comic-Con panel with Agent Carter’s Hayley Atwell and the producers and writers of the TV show. Among other reveals is why they moved the second season to L. A. And when it premieres: in January of 2016 as a mid-season replacement for Agents of SHIELD.

For even more info you can watch a YouTube video of the Comic-Con panel.

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SUPER TUCANO anti-covert-warfare plane

Many people love the jet fighter. It’s fast, powerful, deadly, and as lovely as a dagger with its severe streamlining. It’s flown by pilots trained to duel with enemy pilots like knights of old, a romantic image.

It’s also super expensive. The fifth generation F-22 Raptor costs $150 million just to fly it away from its makers. To keep it flying can cost as much as the aircraft itself. It takes at least ten hours of work on the ground for every hour it spends in the air, and sometimes twice that.

The fighter’s purpose is to control the air over ground being fought over. Future ground forces, however, increasingly are terrorists or insurgents who are well able to hide from their enemies. They have no need for aircraft to protect them from advanced aerial enemies. Covert small-scale warfare is replacing overt large-scale warfare.   Fighters are increasingly obsolete.

This makes the main need for future military forces to have aircraft for ground attack and near-ground reconnaissance. Such as the A-10 “Warthog” and such much-lower-cost cousins as the A-29 Super Tucano. This single-engine turbo-prop aircraft is cheap but good: highly effective against small stealthy ground forces.

For more detail click Embraer EMB 314 Super Tucano.

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