Re: Rug Cutters

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I frown on dancing, which often leads to relationships and other illusory forms of happiness.

If for some reason someone wants to entrap themselves in a relationship, with all that that entails, I'd recommend learning to dance. Also, for guys, buying a couple riding horses and learning to ride.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:13 PM
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I always wished I could dance. My ex-MIL can dance. She danced some sort of jitterbug or similar thing with me at the wedding and it was a total blast.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:13 PM
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Also, of course, the guys who could dance could have gone home with any girl there. Hell, if my grandfather'd been on the prowl, he probably could have taken a girl or two home.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:18 PM
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I took dance classes for about a year, but at no point could I comprehend any imaginable reason why I was bothering to do so. I was basically being taught to memorize extremely simple mathematical patterns and perform some sort of superfluous nonmusical accompaniment to music. This was when I was 14 and my partner for the classes was my 10 year old sister, with no other people in the room except the instructor. Soon thereafter it turned out that dancing was actually supposed to be a form of flirtation. Thanks mom, for creating strong bonds between the concepts of "dancing", "mindnumbing boredom", and "incest", all for $20 an hour.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:34 PM
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My favorite dancing ever on was Wednesday nights at a bar in Minneapolis: they played all old school funk and there was a jitterbug class upstairs that got out right at bar time and for some reason lots of ballet kids always went there from the U of M. So it was full of crazy half jitterbug half ballet moves all set to James Brown and George Clinton. Lots of chalk on the floor and martinis. Mmmm.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:34 PM
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Soon thereafter it turned out I discovered that dancing was actually supposed to be a form of flirtation. , that is.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:36 PM
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My godparents used to participate in something called Waltz Evening which is now defunct. My godfather is an excellent dancer. I'm not sure where he picked it up, since he comes from a very working class Cambridge background. (He went to Harvard, and his brother works there as a maintenance man.) He used to teach it to undergrads when he was an affiliate. I'm a total clutz.

A couple of years ago I was dancing with a Frenchman and pretty drunk when I did it--drunk enough to be over my inhibitions about not being good at it, and he was sort of telling me how bad I am.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:52 PM
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My godparents used to participate in something called Waltz Evening which is now defunct. My godfather is an excellent dancer. I'm not sure where he picked it up, since he comes from a very working class Cambridge background. (He went to Harvard, and his brother works there as a maintenance man.) He used to teach it to undergrads when he was an affiliate. I'm a total clutz.

A couple of years ago I was dancing with a Frenchman and pretty drunk when I did it--drunk enough to be over my inhibitions about not being good at it, and he was sort of telling me how bad I am.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:52 PM
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My godparents used to participate in something called Waltz Evening which is now defunct. My godfather is an excellent dancer. I'm not sure where he picked it up, since he comes from a very working class Cambridge background. (He went to Harvard, and his brother works there as a maintenance man.) He used to teach it to undergrads when he was an affiliate. I'm a total clutz.

A couple of years ago I was dancing with a Frenchman and pretty drunk when I did it--drunk enough to be over my inhibitions about not being good at it, and he was sort of telling me how bad I am.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 4:52 PM
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Bah. Drunken fun dancing is the way forward.

The one form of formalized dancing I nearly learned was Stepping, which was suggested by an ex. But the wikipedia page looks nothing like the Stepping done on the South Side of Chicago, which is a much more sedate, almost ballroom-style affair for middle-aged black couples.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:07 PM
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As much as I hated it at the time, Cotillion really, really helped in those years after college when all get married. Per Becks 3, a good time was had by many, if not all. Ten year olds can't look that far ahead, but my college age self thanked my ten year old self. Oh, I suppose I should thank my mom, too. Thanks, Mom.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:13 PM
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Apologies for the triple commenting. I think that one was in Firefox which froze, and the other two were from one click using Safari. Safari can be weird and dangerous.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:18 PM
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If you really want to get some attention try tap dancing. Chicks. Dig. Tap. Dancing.


Posted by: mistersmed | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:20 PM
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The post gets it exactly right. There's a great advantage for guys who know how to dance. It's exactly like a perfect conversation opener, and very easy, if you're a halfway decent dancer*, to get to dance with lots of women.

There is no direct nookie correlation because one might well be dancing with the wives and girlfriends of boring men sitting at the table, but it's a good way to meet people. My nerdy friends who can dance always have a great time at weddings and similar functions.

*Maybe even less than halfway. There are steps. You do them. Just by trying to do them you are dancing more than 95% of everyone else there.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:22 PM
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If there had been just one other girl there in the dance class aside from my sister, I think it would be possible for me to enjoy dancing now when not extremely drunk. But no, it just feels weird.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:22 PM
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I went to a wedding recently where the groom's family came from Mexico and the bride's hobby was swing dancing (and thus many of her friends were dancers). Let me tell you, there was some awesome dancing going on. Salsa, swing, you name it. And the father of the bride was hilariously good.

Also, the fun of having dancing partners ages 1, 2, 9, etc. cannot be overestimated.

ALSO, yay feminism for giving single men (or male couples) the social freedom to get out on the dance floor the way single women always have (at least at the weddings I've been to). Whooeeee, some of that stuff was hot!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:25 PM
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My alma mater has monthly waltz and swing parties in the Great Hall. Formal attire. There's nothing more delightful than a semi-fast waltz whilst half-drunk on champagne (oh yeah, they serve champagne).

Everyone in my public high school had to take Social Dance to graduate. Did I go to high school in 1945? I did not.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:26 PM
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We had to learn to dance at school. Traditional Scottish dancing with a little bit of waltzing and latin stuff mixed in. Every year for five years, one PE class a week turned into traditional dancing for the term leading up to the Christmas dance.

Hadn't done it for years until I went to a couple of weddings that had a ceilidh band [or rather a punked up variation on a celidih band]. Since then I've been once to a 'hip' ceilidh club, a place which had a really young crowd. Mostly 20 and 30 somethings.

It is fun. Fun enough to leave bruises.

Hated it at school, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:27 PM
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I love swing music, though. I can even play it a little. So that would be a fun thing to learn.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:28 PM
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11: I had to go to some kind of Cotillion dance lessons thing when I was in middle school. It blurs together with all the other hollow, soul sucking activities that got planned for me at that age. It probably wasn't soul sucking for most kids there, but my soul was easily defeated and packed off.

I don't think it occurred to me that any dancing-like activity could be fun until I saw the Dead Kennedys and threw myself into the slamdancing pit.

To this day the only form of dancing I do or can personally relate to is the ecstatic and spasmodic kind.

Watching Fred Astaire type dancing for me is like watching the graceful movements of an exotic, wholly alien, bird.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:41 PM
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We learned square dancing in school. How worthless.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:43 PM
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I actually learned to schottische, polka, two-step, and maybe waltz in eighth grade. Water off a duck's back. Even the dancers didn't like it, because it was old fashioned and probably countryish. Even the jitterbug was already old-fashioned.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:43 PM
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In the US Irish music is low-pressure music for people who like to dance and drink. Someone who can play it can make a sort of a living in any city with a scene. It's a funny scene because there are some excellent dancers and musicians, but also a very high tolerance for sub-mediocre dancers and musicians who are fun.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:47 PM
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I don't know how many of you watched Carrier http://www.pbs.org/weta/carrier/

but there was a whole story line about a Marine that did salsa dancing. He practiced when off duty with a female sailor. All very innocent, if intimate. (The dancing, I mean). Wife back in San Diego not as understanding as one might hope.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:48 PM
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The schottische is like a polka, originally bohemian but with a Latin form. I'm not going to get into any argument about the Mexican polka, however.

Finland is the world's tango center, for reasons known only to God.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:50 PM
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20: Robert, you never danced at a Waltz Party? Oh, right, you and CA were anti-social and drinking Beast on the steps. Well, pfft. I danced. I bet Molly did too.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:51 PM
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25: Yes, but it is the "melancholy" Finnish tango. No, really.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 5:52 PM
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Someone with better google-fu than myself can find where I suggested to Teo, some time before success was actually had, that learning to swing dance would totally get him laid. It would absolutely have worked.

I can't say how many times I've wished I'd learned -- for the dancing, if not the sex.

(Can't complain, though. Taking the opportunity to be seriously tipsy on finishing the leftover high-end Zin and watch that Dead movie from the mid-70s is pretty good fun, when no one else is home . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:00 PM
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Wouldn't you know, WIki has it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_tango

I do love Wiki.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:02 PM
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No information about the whether the gay voodoo limbo tango and wango dance has reached Finland.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:07 PM
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Related: MA Numminen sings Wittgenstein.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:10 PM
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Finland also gave us the tuba Zeppelin, IIRC.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:19 PM
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Partnered dancing is great fun, although I haven't done much of it. I remember an evening at MIT where another co-op had a party in one of the big lobbies -- they had a boom-box playing Viennese waltzes, and one German guy who really knew how to dance well. I didn't know what I was doing, but following (at least enough to enjoy yourself) isn't that hard if you're dancing with someone who knows how to lead, and I had the best time.

Anyone do contradancing? It's sort of like square dancing, but faster and more fun.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:23 PM
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Yeah, I danced at the waltz parties. They were only fun when I happened to be friends with good dancers (centering around sophomore year).

I should point out that I took Rob to this crazy rural contra dance this summer, and he seemed to really enjoy it. I even got Caroline (who is 5 now) to do one of the dances. Luckily it was one of the simpler ones, and she managed ok, but had a hard time during the part where she was not next to me (I usually ended up shouting instructions to her across a couple of peoples' heads). Fortunately, those parts only lasted 30 seconds or so. The amazing part was for the next hour strangers kept approaching us and complimenting her dancing skills. I guess she made an impression.


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:24 PM
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34: Every time I've been contra dancing, people have been very affirming -- I think there's a certain amount of recruitment effort going on. And little kids being game about trying stuff is always adorable,


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:27 PM
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I occasionally entertain the idea of learning how to dance not only for the reason Becks mentions in three.

I don't have much rhythm, though.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:30 PM
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36.2: Ben, do I have to say it? You just don't know you have rhythm.

Also (having skimmed the thread very quickly, not much at all), swing dancing is way cool, square dancing not so much. Also just prancing around is underappreciated.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:37 PM
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34: Hi Molly! Yeah, much more fun with the boys who could dance. There was a passel of boys 2 and 3 years ahead of me who were very good indeed. One is a philosophy prof now, another a classicist, and a third a right-wing lawyer.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:38 PM
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I do have to say that this is one area where I have to agree with Ronald Reagan. He always said that Ginger Rogers was a better dancer than Fred Astaire: she did everything he did, as well as he did, only backwards and in high heels.

I have no rhythm and would probably suck no matter what, but I think that dancing must be harder for ladies.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:43 PM
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If you have to do it in high heels, I'm sure it is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:45 PM
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Is Molly also a Johnny? A ... Jane? Johnnina?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:45 PM
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For a social level of ballroom dancing, faking it well enough to follow someone who leads well is pretty easy. Being a seriously good dancer might be harder for a woman, but I think an experienced man/novice woman couple is going to generally look better on the dance floor than the reverse.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:47 PM
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41: Johnnie. It's unisex. After all those books, we're only fit to be with one another. Mmmaybe a Maroon. It would depend.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 6:47 PM
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Ginger Rogers was a better dancer than Fred Astaire: she did everything he did, as well as he did, only backwards and in high heels.

I've always found this quote to be unthinkingly sexist, defining dancing "forwards" as whatever the man does. Though the heels part is true.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:06 PM
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We learned square dancing in school.

Hey, so did we! In middle school. I have no idea if they danced in high school PE, since I took my two years of high school PE in summer school, and we basically played volleyball for like four hours a day after the health-class part. No joke!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:09 PM
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The two things I most regret not learning when I was a teenager are dancing and statistical analysis. Read into that what you will.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:09 PM
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A friend's brother met his now-wife at the MIT contradancing club. They had contradancing at the wedding. They are quite proudly nerdy.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:13 PM
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defining dancing "forwards" as whatever the man does

I always took it to be an accurate reflection of the fact that in the social dances I know, the man is expected to lead. So he is the one going "forwards" (if not always literally) and she is the one following, which sometimes does actually mean backwards.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:26 PM
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If you want another real-life take on learning to dance, and how it helps integrate strangers together, go to any dancehall in podunk southwest Louisiana (Opelousas, Eunice, Breaux Bridge) and see how many times you can dance with the locals with 2 left feet. (Mine.) I got asked to dance once at El Sido's, he found out I was a crap dancer and I was left to nurse my Abita on the sidelines. Wish I had more of a capacity to learn movement like that but I'm just a mangled, footy mess.

Watch any Gene Kelly movie where he's dancing and performing and be inspired.


Posted by: KJ | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:33 PM
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Being a seriously good dancer might be harder for a woman, but I think an experienced man/novice woman couple is going to generally look better on the dance floor than the reverse.

My cousin used to dance ballroom competitively collegiately, and she found that what you said was somewhat true, in that a couple that had a talented male tended to place well. In competition, though, having a pretty, expressive girl dancing around while the guy manages not to fall down and stays on beat works well enough. It's easier for a woman to hide a weaker partner than the other way around.

And I think that's what drives the social thing; as long as the guy's competent, the woman probably has enough rhythm to look confident and pretty. If she misses a step or two, who cares? He's leading.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 7:57 PM
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I like dancing a lot, but have pretty much zero interest in learning any kind of formalized steps. We shall wing it together!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:21 PM
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I also sort of vaguely resent the implication that things that don't involve doing actual steps to standards isn't real dancing. There's some mighty talented dancers in nightclubs.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:25 PM
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Also, you know, the twist was fifty years ago. Viva yesterday's tomorrow!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:26 PM
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Obligatory Canonical Reference.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:26 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:28 PM
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Being a seriously good dancer might be harder for a woman, but I think an experienced man/novice woman couple is going to generally look better on the dance floor than the reverse.

Oh Christ, yes. I always have to submerge my desire to take over the lead when dancing with an unsure partner. It's a problem.

Are contra dances like the Sir Roger de Coverley? Because that shit is fun. I can do (or fake) most of the major dances, except for the foxtrot, which seems totally awesome but sadly neglected these-a-days.

The twist, btw, is a *great* move. There's a way to do it that can be sexy as all hell; it involves Bob Fosse arms. I learned some of my moves from a scene in one of the Beatles movies---maybe Help!?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:43 PM
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We lucked out at our school. The guy teaching us social dance danced with Lalala Human Steps. He just had to touch your shoulder and voila, you were this amazing dancer.
Of course, the effect wore off as soon as he let go. Then it was someone else's turn, and you were back to being a schmuck. But it felt so cool while it lasted.


Posted by: Penny | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 8:55 PM
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Both Contra dance and sir roger de coverly wikipedia entries reference english country dance as their origin. Signs point to related. Trying to read descriptions of dances on wikipedia was a bit dancing about architecture. At least the contra dance page had still photos.


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:31 PM
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I and a friend's date whom I stole were Tango King & Queen at my 9th grade prom. Incredibly nerdy but it was the first time I'd ever been good at anything at all physical and got me to do spring musicals in high school and all that. The lesson of a supporting role in a production of The Boyfriend is that the Charleston is insane amounts of fun but only when in a crowd of thirty energetic people.

There is no direct nookie correlation because one might well be dancing with the wives and girlfriends of boring men sitting at the table, but it's a good way to meet people.

I slept with every straight man who asked me to teach them to dance in college.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:33 PM
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Mmmaybe a Maroon. It would depend.

I can only hope.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:35 PM
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59: yeah but as near as I can gather from your comments you just slept with every straight man in college, period.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:36 PM
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I learned some of my moves from a scene in one of the Beatles movies---maybe Help!?

Beats me, but I would like to aver that Help! is a great movie. I can, however, say no more.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:37 PM
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yeah but as near as I can gather from your comments you just slept with every straight man in college, period.

Some of them I just made out with, y'know.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:38 PM
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I think you left out this phrase: "for some definition of the word 'straight'".


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:47 PM
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I slept with every straight man who asked me to teach them to dance in college.

That's code, see.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:48 PM
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Jesus, England is trying to destroy Iceland.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:49 PM
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Seriously, guys who can really dance well, to the point that they know how to move me around the floor without my even knowing it, can have anything they want. Anything. They. Want.

I've probably only danced with one or two such partners in my life, and neither of them were people I was attracted to before, but afterward, I never could look at them the same way again.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 9:52 PM
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There is no direct nookie correlation because one might well be dancing with the wives and girlfriends of boring men sitting at the table, but it's a good way to meet people.

Depends.

They have (used to have? -- I haven't been in years) regular swing dancing classes at Glen Echo Park, an old amusement park. All the men line up, and all the woemn line up, and you dance with the person across from you, and every few minutes, you switch. Dancing with strangers means you don't have someone who likes you hiding your mistakes.

I need a partner who hides my mistakes.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:01 PM
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Swing dancing is still insanely fun - it even has esoteric little side paths, like Balboa (no, not like Rocky)

Highlights reel from a recent competition:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW7Ur0lr7DM

It's to the same music you would Charleston to, but translated by uptight Californian kids who had to figure out how to dance swing based on what they heard on the radio and stuff in the movies. All in a very very crowded ballroom, initially, so it's can be a very tight-stepped, close dance. :)

For those who aren't much into remembering steps, may I recommend ArgentineTango? Especially if you're on the prowl. Hot dance, basically walking with attitude.



Posted by: katmandu | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:04 PM
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A young woman with whom I should've slept when I had the chance was a swing dancer. Now she is a swing-dancing actuary.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:08 PM
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No, I prefer the grumpy Finnish tango.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:10 PM
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basically walking with attitude.

There you go. Prancing, as I said.

Although. I saw a woman at the small grocery store this morning who was walking with attitude, and I thought: inappropriate! We're all just getting coffee and bread and apples and such here! Take it outside!

Prancing is best done with humor.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:16 PM
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Prancing with intent is a misdemeanor in some jurisdictions.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:18 PM
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I love to tango, but a good waltz will make my knees wobble. I don't know how to dance well, but would like to learn.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:20 PM
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She was guilty of a misdemeanor.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:23 PM
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Very good post, very true. My notes:

1. You know that guy who can swing and dip and reel you in and out, but doesn't actually know the steps? I'm that guy. I fake it really well. I can push you around the floor, but I use lots of cheats and if you actually know what you're doing, you won't like me.

2. I have to take dance lessons in advance of my wedding. We're going to do a waltz to "Go Places" by the New Pornographers. It should be fun. Unfortunately, "Have you scheduled dance lessons yet?" has become a bit of a nag around here, and I've been putting it off. T minus 10.5 weeks.

3. Ben has rhythm, but it's in 17/8.

4. When my first wife and I tried and failed to learn to dance together, we took classes at the community college. The instructor was this seventy-year-old Scottish gentleman who would stop class for long discourses about the dancing contests he'd won back during the war. I think he may have parachuted behind enemy lines to steal a ballroom dance contest out from under Jerry's nose.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:23 PM
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She was guilty of a misdemeanor.

Ugly, huh?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:24 PM
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3. Ben has rhythm, but it's in 17/8.

My true home is Bulgaria.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:25 PM
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Ben has rhythm, but it's in 17/8.

Awesome.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:25 PM
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Continued:

I really should know how to dance, for all the lessons. A family friend offered ballroom dancing lessons as a means of socializing the cluster of pubescents in our family's circle. I learned a very complex waltz for the 11th grade production of King and I. Summers were rich with various ethnic folk dancing, including the Tarantella, the Doubleska Polka, and the Tenessee Wig Wok; the Polka has come in handy, most recently at a wedding up Emerson's way. (Sorry I didn't have time to swing by, John.) And I've taken salsa lessons numerous times. (I have the basic step down.) After my first wedding, I had a really good foxtrot, but I let it slide.

A lot of the problem may be that Wife 1 and I always seemed to be a semiquaver off each others' internal rhythm, and never enjoyed dancing together. Or, really, the other thing.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:27 PM
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Well you play that tarentella, Wrongshore, all the hounds will start to roar. Plus you've got the Cuban/floor situation to think of. So, all told, kind of a risky proposition.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:29 PM
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77: Good grief, ben. No.

76.3: Indeed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:30 PM
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76.2 has me wondering which is more inappropriate for a wedding reception: "Adventures in Solitude", or "Entering White Cecilia"?

But anyway, I like the "Go Places" idea. Any idea what the bit says that comes before "deus ex machine, good morning Christina"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:30 PM
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84

I do tapdance. This is not a very sexy thing to know how to do.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:32 PM
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85

I am really loving the semiquaver off, as I seem to completelyunderstand. It.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:33 PM
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86

"From somewhere encita / deus ex machina / good morning Christina" -- that's what I get, you?

hit me up by email and I'll send you the sweet "Lite Mix"


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:34 PM
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87

||
For everyone who enjoyed nattarGcM's mp3s of his accent, here's a short story you may like.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:35 PM
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88

77: Good grief, ben. No.

Geddit? Misdemeanor???


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:35 PM
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I don't think it occurred to me that any dancing-like activity could be fun until I saw the Dead Kennedys and threw myself into the slamdancing pit.

Slam dancing is a lot of fun. I saw gogol bordello on sunday. It was sweet.

I never did any formal dancing. I always thought that I would take swing dancing lessons but never got around to it.

I also agree with sifu tweety that the informal dance styles of the last 50 years or so shouldn't be underrated.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:36 PM
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76.4: Wrongshore! Did we take the same dance class? Instructor initials J.F.?

If so, he was adorable, very dapper and elegant. As were his beautiful elderly lady dance partners.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:37 PM
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91

Where are Tam and Kirsty going together?!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:38 PM
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92

A high proportion of jazz drummers were tap dancers, because it teaches you to use your feet.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:39 PM
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I do tapdance. This is not a very sexy thing to know how to do.

The world-famous Pontani Sisters beg to differ.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:39 PM
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And on topic, I really really wish I weren't too sad and broken down to learn how to do this. (Skip to about 1:10.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:42 PM
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My sister makes tap dancing look sexy, somehow. And wholesome.

I, on the other hand, manage to make belly dancing look tame and frigid. Or like it's being practiced by an arthritic robot. (Undulations kick my abs.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:42 PM
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Like learning a few words of a foreign language

Don't talk to me about foreign languages, especially in the context of dancing. I can't dance, and my spanish sucks, and I'm in the fourth week of an insanely hard chinese class. If this is what dancing is like, fuck it in an uncomfortable place.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:42 PM
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I am taking a german class this quarter!

If I may be permitted a small immodesty, of the three students in the class, I think I have by far the best accent.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:43 PM
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This is not a very sexy thing to know how to do.

You must be joking; Fred Astaire is definitely in my top ten.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:43 PM
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86: it's the "encita" bit that puzzles me. Does that mean something to you? I was always wondering "encida? encina? in scene a? unseen a?"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:45 PM
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of the three students in the class, I think I have by far the best accent.

Aim high, w-lfs-n.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:45 PM
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88: I got it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:48 PM
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I do, Josh. I do.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:49 PM
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87 - dear god. What was that?

Listening to it was great.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:50 PM
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Until she cry, lover, goldhatted, high-aiming lover, I must have you!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:50 PM
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103: It was a story of love, trust, and death.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:51 PM
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I don't think it occurred to me that any dancing-like activity could be fun until I saw the Dead Kennedys and threw myself into the slamdancing pit.

Pits are fun*, but I wouldn't call that dancing. There aren't any girls!

*Except for Slayer pits. Slayer pits are something, but whatever it is, it isn't "fun."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:53 PM
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It's never seemed to me that slamdancing would be fun.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:57 PM
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108

87 is hilarious.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 10:58 PM
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87 is brilliant and never would be published in America.
They've done it ten times now, and it gets better every time

It could hardly get worse, but acknowledgment that sex might be enjoyable from a PSA? Heresy. It'd be pure chucked, and never mind the semi-accurate depiction of "all the positions."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:05 PM
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Wait, is "covered in her own vomit" her reaction to how the guys were more interested in football than in her, or are we to think they had their way with her and left her there?

To think Obama wanted 5-year-olds to visit that website!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:06 PM
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To the original post: the best wedding I've attended involved many children and older persons doing their various things. The older persons danced in ceremonial yet dramatic ways, while the children squirmed and twirled around barefooted amongst them. It was excellent. No self-consciousness to be seen.

We regular people just joined in, you see. You could scarcely not.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:07 PM
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||

I just came across "The reason [....] is because" in a linguistics textbook.

Somebody fetch W-lfs-n's salts.

|>


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:13 PM
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Somebody fetch W-lfs-n's salts.

He has several backups, just in case.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:14 PM
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112: Descriptivism does tend to run pretty deep in linguistics...


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:18 PM
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114: it's also a cognitive linguistics textbook. I bet they did it just to prove some sort of point.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:20 PM
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Some day Ben will retire his wilting lily grammatical persona. And then he'll just be able to come on strong, without apology. Of course, nobody will recognize that this has occurred.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:25 PM
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linguistics textbook
See, this is the right approach. Studying languages: hard. Studying language: doable. The study of linguistics is the iterative process of better understanding Chomsky-jargon, and what'shisname jargon, the para-Chomsky. It's basically cognitive science.

Bonus linguistics joke: A new study has shown that celebrities present different aspects of language based upon their gender. These differences prove robust to variances in culture, such that the structures of celebrity press and public relations language are inherently gendered, regardless of whether the subject is Canadian or Chinese. Interestingly, the structural differences narrow markedly when the celebrity in question is homosexual. I call this "Ellen DeGenerative Grammar."


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:29 PM
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117: cognitive linguistics turns out to be pretty anti-Chomsky, which suits me fine, because I am too.

There doesn't seem to be any particularly strong reason to believe it's the correct methodology for understanding cognition per se, but oh well. It's so pretty!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:33 PM
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But you've studied linguistics, so presumably you recognize that the man is a genius, even if he does get more than his fair share of academic do-overs. So you're not anti-Chomsky in that regard, right?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:40 PM
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120

118.2: Is there any particularly strong reason to believe it's the correct methodology for understanding language-use? (I don't know; honest question.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:40 PM
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121

119: I salute Chomsky because, like Minsky, he created an entirely new field of study. Also like Minsky, I think he got pretty much everything wrong.

120: everything fits pretty nicely, more so than in some other linguistic frameworks. I'm looking for a better answer than that, but I'm not sure there's one to be had.

It has yet to fail catastrophically, which also differentiates it from various other approaches, as best I can tell.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:43 PM
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The hovertext for this XKCD seems newly relevant.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:50 PM
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Well, shit, Josh. That's funny, because I'd just been deliberating about whether to go ahead and post this that I wrote a moment ago (I was afraid it was too combative):

121: Okay. I actually don't know what you're referring to with "cognitive linguistics," as you called it in 115, such that it might succeed or fail. I thought it was a field with a number of conflicting viewpoints.

--

Anyway, the XKCD thing, great.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10- 9-08 11:58 PM
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123: no; "Cognitive Linguistics" refers to specific approach to linguistics, which is in conflict with Chomskyans and generative theories and truth-conditional analysis and all sorts of other business I don't know that much about.

It's the general approach taken by George Lakoff, among others, and dovetails with a bunch of other work on mathematical reasoning and general-purpose cognitive function by various other people. It's specifically different from a Chomskyan kind of approach because it treats language ability as a subset of a bunch of more general cognitive abilities, rather than as an atomic kind of special-purpose function.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:02 AM
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They've done it ten times now, and it gets better every time Kevin lasts more than 30 seconds now.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:03 AM
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Which is just about all I know about the topic, but I'll be sure to keep you posted as I get further into my textbook.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:03 AM
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90: jms, I'm sure we did, although I don't remember the man's initials. City College, right?

Ballroom dancing makes the best case you can for gender roles. I danced a girl around the floor at a party once who was kind of appalled to find herself being led. "I usually don't like masculinity this much," she said. I spun her around on my hip. "Maybe you just haven't met anyone who's actually masculine before," I said.

Somehow we didn't make out. I'm still confused about that.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:04 AM
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87 isn't a textbook, Sifu.


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:06 AM
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Ask the mineshaft: Any of you studied Pu3tong1hua4? Sorry for the funkiness, haven't installed the East Asian Languages Support (Thank you Windows XP SP2 CD). Technical bitches aside, how many characters is it reasonable to ask a beginning Chinese student to absorb each week?


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:10 AM
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One. Don't Chinese students usually spend about a year learning everything in pinyin before they even try to memorize the characters?


Posted by: CN | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:12 AM
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Apparently not.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:13 AM
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Yeah, I've been working just from pinyin for the past several months. I should try to do pu3tong1hua4 but am lazy. I'm just learning Chinese so I can eavesdrop on the subway.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:14 AM
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124: Thanks. I might have looked it up myself; so thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:15 AM
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Well, no shit, our lao3shi1 is having us learn at least 40 chars a week. And testing us every single class, twice a week. I'm only 4 weeks in to this bitch and I can smell a GPA hit. No questioning her effectiveness, I know 95 chars more than I did to start with, but how will the others hold up to this? At this rate, it'll be me and two others in her second semester class. And one of them lived in China and the other has a Taiwanese passport. She can't be serious.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:29 AM
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But is it exhilarating, fm?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:34 AM
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135: In the extremely geeky way that involves sequestering oneself in a room for ten hours at a time drinking tea because coffee renders you unable to muster the precision to execute the small motor coordination required to write the characters again and again and again, yes it is exhilarating.

btw, if it makes it unfogged palatable, my 50 year old, insane, chinese professor appears to be into me. As if that helps anything,


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 12:44 AM
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I don't mean to fill up our thing with Chinese bitching, it's just that my life is Chinese these days, and the study thereof both prompted and prevented (for many hours) an online bitch. I don't want to waste space, so consider all my posts to implicitly bitch about my insane teacher and how creepy it is how much she likes me.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:04 AM
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I had a brilliant time at a wedding last year which put on a ceilidh for the evening. Dancing when it doesn't matter too much what your feet are doing and someone else is telling you what to do, and all the women are in their stockinged feet because it was far too energetic to be wearing shoes was excellent fun.

As opposed to the wedding I went to this year which played mostly standard cheesy pop, and my kids were the only ones dancing for about the first hour.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 1:08 AM
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I think an experienced man/novice woman couple is going to generally look better on the dance floor than the reverse.


...unless the woman leads (and the man lets her). Many, many people are under the misapprehension that I know how to dance after having seen me dancing with Fleur at parties and weddings. That girl has some moves, I tell you.

She once totally scandalized my family reunion by doing that 1950's rock & roll dance move where the woman jumps up, straddles the man, then swings backwards with her legs in the air--all to the accompaniment of a bluegrass string band. I thought a couple of the older uncles were going to need CPR.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 2:26 AM
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you know, I love you knecht, but you're overchicked.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 5:58 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:01 AM
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I'm not talking about the dancing one does at a bar or drunkenly in one's living room but actual dancing.

Perhaps not, but the dancing I did drunkenly in your living room during UnfoggedCon '06 was in fact the most fun.


Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:11 AM
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I spun her around on my hip.

I am imagining you twirling her vertically, with one hand pinning her pelvis to your hip and the other spinning her head over heels, like a wheel.

"Maybe you just haven't met anyone who's actually masculine before," I said.

"Please stop knocking my head against your shin," she said.

"This is my little twist on the Pamchenko," I said, and flung her at the ceiling. If I had stayed to catch her, I can't imagine that we wouldn't have made out.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:19 AM
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re: 138

Yeah, proper ceilidh dancing involves tons of energy and can leave bruises. If some people's feet aren't leaving the ground during Stripping the Willow the side is being left down. You do need a good caller though, for people like myself who've learned all the dances at one time but haven't done it for 20 years/


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 6:59 AM
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I've taken latin dancing classes on two occasions. Unfortunately, I have been a very slow learner.

I would love to get better at it.

BR and I have regular dance parties with the kids. My daughter does an excellent tango, complete with counting out the steps as we step cheek to cheek across the living room.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:02 AM
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Pits are fun*, but I wouldn't call that dancing. There aren't any girls!

This is why 7Seconds wrote "Not Just Boys' Fun."

(Man you've gotta problem/ who made you fuckin' king/ A macho pig with nothing in your head./ No girls around you, their place is not at gigs,/ Don't want 'em on the dance floor 'cos they're weak./ A woman's place, the kitchen, on her back,/ It's time to change that attitude, and quick./ Cause it's not just boys' fun (4x))


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 7:43 AM
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Oh, I'm so glad ttaM mentioned ceilidh dancing. When I was teaching in Germany, a Scottish woman teaching at another school put together an after school ceilidh dancing event for her pupils. Some of the best fun I've ever had.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:29 AM
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Chinese: the answer is, "It depends".

It sounds like your class is insanely text-based. There's no language where verbal fluency and reading competence are less connected than Chinese. In the old days most Chinese saved all that work by being illiterate.

On the other hand, if you really want to be able to read the language, cramming might be best. There are Chinese boot camps where you work 10 hrs a day for a year and end up with usable Chinese. 3000 characters is basic literacy.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 8:42 AM
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143 is exactly how it happened. In fact, she left the party permanently upside-down. Doctors have not been able to right her.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:07 AM
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my 'language theory' is that maybe one neuron in the language area when activated represents one letter, there are like clusters of several hundred thousands of the similarly functioning neurons and the thought process works like typing coz if one neuron would represent one word it is not simple enough maybe
but children before learning how to read and illiterate people think in images maybe
then those image neurons get further differentiated to encode letters one by one maybe with learning,
like kanjis were first some simple pictures and then evolved into kanjis, so how many neurons you have and how many kanjis, i mean, FM, you'll learn it, just one needs a lot of perseverance to repeat, if you write down one kanji like 5 or more hundred times or one full page you'll memorize it like against your will and after memorizing it would be like some road signs
but you forget the kanjis very easily too if not use it daily, like for me now they look just familiar shapes without meaning or pronounciation


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:19 AM
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In the old days most Chinese saved all that work by being illiterate.

I am so old-school Chinese.

I'm learning mostly from ChinesePod, which now requires you to pay for access to anything above the Newbie level lessons, so my Chinese learning curve has leveled off quite a bit. I was up to very confident Elementary level, and could handle Intermediate, but now am back to "Dad, this is Mr. Chu. Mr. Chu, this is my Dad. Do you have any beer?"


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:20 AM
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Knecht in 139 is totally correct.

In theatre any, ahem, let us say man of years and reduced athletic ability knows the absolute best dance, at least on stage, is the one where the man remains fairly stationary, smiling and perhaps making some graceful arm motions, and the woman dances around him. That way the man doesn't sweat and the audience gets to see a brilliant dancer doing her stuff.

No one gets embarrassed and the audience sees a great display of dancing skills.

At least that is how I do it.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:23 AM
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sound i meant
i know only: wo shi .... in Chinese
but my Chinese coworkers say my pronounciation is very good when i repeat words after them, so my ambition was to learn Chinese if i'll master Japanese, but i'm like forgetting my Japanese, so, alas, that won't come true


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 9:49 AM
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the absolute best dance, at least on stage, is the one where the man remains fairly stationary, smiling and perhaps making some graceful arm motions, and the woman dances around him.

This is why the vast majority of the winners on "Dancing with the Stars" have been male. So much easier for the man to look good with a female partner who knows what she is doing. That is true for almost everything, though.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:08 AM
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It sounds like your class is insanely text-based.

No, it's just that the insane part is limited to the characters. We're still using the standard American textbook, for grammar and pronunciation and such, which is no problem, it's just we're ignoring the fact that the text specifies that only one in five or ten characters is to be learned. Plus, she gives us extra chars that aren't in the text.

151: You have "have"? I'm so jealous. I'm at: "Teacher Chen, this is my friend" "May I ask your friend's (honorable) surname?", etc... Seriously, though, if you want mp3s of a year's worth of Chinese lessons, pronunciation drills, etc.., I'm your man. They'd probably be more useful with the textbook, but the text is only 20 bucks, probably less online. And if you want flashcards to learn characters, which you shouldn't, I got loads of those too.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:11 AM
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TLL,

So much easier for the man to look good with a female partner who knows what she is doing. That is true for almost everything, though.

I think that is true for everything. It is a wonder woman put up with it.


Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-10-08 10:14 AM
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On the subject of linguistics, Ray Jackendoff's Foundations of Language is a fascinating if at times highly speculative attempt to marry generative and cognitive approaches.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 10-13-08 4:53 AM
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