WRITING: ELUSIVE TERMS November 25, 2017

WRITING: ELUSIVE TERMS                    November 25, 2017 For speaking and writing, the dictionary defines “elusive” as follows:  “eluding one’s clear perception; hard to express or define; skillfully evasive.”   Some words in the English language are elusive.   Such words may seem to add substance or description to our communications, and some can be helpful in verbal situations. In writing, however, they rarely add anything to the cause. In fact, they often interfere with reader comprehension. Some examples of elusive terms are:  all that, all that much, very, just, rather, somewhat, quite, like, at that point in time.  Let’s discuss each of them.   Maybe you’ve noticed that usage of “all that“ ranges from interesting to irritating. In a form of modern slang, some GenXers sometimes say, “She thinks she’s all that.” To the rest of us, what IS “all that“? It seems to mean, for example, that a girl considers herself to be the best, and her attitude shows in her snobbish behavior. In another example, some say, “I didn’t like it all that much,” such as while testing a product in a marketing survey. The listener, though, doesn’t know what “that” is or the speaker’s basis for comparison; as a result, he/she is left to wonder, “How much is that much?” Speakers can prevent such problems by saying simply, “I didn’t like it,” or by adding an explanation: “I didn’t like it well. I like the concept, but I don’t like the taste.” In this last example we have clear usage that anyone can understand.   “Very“ often is used in exaggeratedly in conversations. When people are eager to amplify their description of an event, they may merely take the word from “very” to “v-e-e-e-ry,” with the possible inclusion of a few head nods. If that isn’t sufficient, the speaker is inclined to bring in the big ammo–voluminous vocal inflections, eyeball and head movements, and arm gestures.  That’s the beauty of conversation, especially informal moments; you can say as little or as much as you want.   “Just“ is often substituted for “only” and “simply.”   Again, such usage is okay in informal conversation. But, in writing and formal situations, if you mean “only” or “simply” you should use the correct word so that no misunderstandings will occur.   Some people consider “rather,” “somewhat,” and “quite” to be high-brow terms. “Rather” and “somewhat” indicate a small degree; “quite” indicates much more. Whereas in conversation you may have a chance to clarify, in writing you will not.   “Like“ has been used in a slang sort...

DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 25, FALL 2017, WEEK 10 FINALE!

DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 25, FALL 2017, WEEK 10 FINALE! Dear DWTS Fans:  Welcome back!   It’s Week 10, night 2 of the FINALS, the FINALE of Season 25–Tuesday, November 21, 2017, 9-11 p.m.!  Tom and Erin hosted; as usual, Tom spent most of his time in the ballroom indoors while Erin spent most of hers at The Grove outdoors. Carrie Ann Inaba (CAI), Len Goodman, Julianne Hough, and Bruno Tonioli judged.   THE CURRENT CAST:  Actor Frankie Muniz (formerly “Malcolm”) & pro Witney Carson (1-800-868-3405) Actor/Singer/Dancer Jordan Fisher & pro Lindsay Arnold (1-800-868-3406) Electronic Violinist Lindsey Stirling & pro Mark Ballas*             (1-800-868-3407) *(2-Time MBT winner)   Ballroom & Latin Dances: Foxtrot, Quickstep, Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango, Argentine Tango, Jive, Jazz, Charleston, Contemporary; Cha-Cha, Samba, Salsa, Rumba, Paso Doble.  “Learn the dance, learn the steps, then learn the character of it.” — Len Goodman Tues., Nov. 21, 2017:   All 13 couples return in a Christmas spectacular both at The Grove (outdoors) and in the ballroom, as usual, opening to “Dancing in the Street.” Each couple will do two dances: (1)  a repeat of their fave this season; (2) the usual “24-Hour Fusion Challenge” (a new routine fusing two contrasting dance styles, prepared just since last evening). FIRST DANCE:  FAVORITE!   Lindsey + Mark: Jive.   Judges 10.  Me 10.  Completely captivating in pajamas–cute, fun, joyous, peppy, sharp, and adorable. Loved it!   Frankie + Whitney: (Pirate) Arg. Tango.  Judges: 10. Me: 10.  Focused, intense, proper, even sexy, even better than the first time. Still adorable, too, because that’s just Frankie.   Kelsea Ballerini sang “Legends,” from her new country-music album, “Unapologetically,” accompanied by romantic pro couple Val and Jenna.   Jordan + Lindsay: Samba.  Judges: 10. Me: 10.  Loved it again—one of the best and one of 0my favorite Sambas I’ve ever seen on this show!   Some of the eliminated couples performed in the ballroom (or at The Grove), a bunch of the male dancers in Santa costumes performed shirtless on stage in The Grove, Lindsey Stirling played the violin while Becky G sang, Debbie Gibson and Jordan Fisher each sang a Christmas song.     MY #2 Dancing With The Stars DANCE OF THE NIGHT!  MY #1 Dancing With The Stars DANCE OF THE ENTIRE NIGHT!      SECOND DANCE:   FUSION! Lindsey + Mark: Cha-Cha/Tango.  Judges 10.  Me 10.   Proper hold, posture, hip/leg action and extensions, footwork in a fast number that seamlessly fused the two styles.  MY Dancing With The Stars DANCE OF THE NIGHT in...

DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 25, FALL 2017, WEEK 10 FINALS

DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 25, FALL 2017, WEEK 10 FINALS Welcome back!   It’s Week 10, night 1 of the FINALE of Season 25–Monday, November 20, 2017!  Tom and Erin hosted. Carrie Ann Inaba (CAI), Len Goodman, Julianne Hough, and Bruno Tonioli judged THE FINALS!   THE CURRENT CAST:  “Property Brothers” Drew Scott & pro Emma Slater (1-800-868-3404) Actor Frankie Muniz (formerly “Malcolm”) & pro Witney Carson (1-800-868-3405) Actor/Singer/Dancer Jordan Fisher & pro Lindsay Arnold (1-800-868-3406) Electronic Violinist Lindsey Stirling & pro Mark Ballas* (1-800-868-3407) *(2-Time MBT winner) Ballroom & Latin Dances: Foxtrot, Quickstep, Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango, Argentine Tango, Jive, Jazz, Charleston, Contemporary; Cha-Cha, Samba, Salsa, Rumba, Paso Doble.  “Learn the dance, learn the steps, then learn the character of it.” — Len Goodman   Mon., Nov. 20, 2017:   The show opened with many pros and a few troupers dancing together to a number choreographed by Mandy Moore. Each couple will do two dances.   FIRST DANCE:  A Redemption Dance, Each Coached by One of the Judges   Drew Scott + Emma: Paso Doble with Bruno as Coach. Judges: 9. Me 9.  Drew  opened with 10 or 15 seconds of a solo, after which Emma danced in from across the floor and joined him.  Much improved in posture, Paso requirements, footwork, and confidence!  To me, he is the most improved. Watching them has given me much joy this season.   Frankie + Whitney: Foxtrot with CAI as Coach.  Judges: 10,9,10,9. Me: 9.5.  Frankie opened in an excellent solo to a Frank Sinatra song before being joined by Witney in a Golden Age of Hollywood Foxtrot. He looked quite accomplished, confident, and as cute and sweet as ever. Yes, it was adorable again and happy and smooth. Very enjoyable!   Pitbull and Fifth Harmony (including Normani Kordei, who competed with Val a season or two ago) performed together, singing Fifth’s latest single, “Por Favor,” accompanied by female pro dancers.   Jordan + Lindsay: Charleston with Len as Coach.  Judges: 10. Me: 10.   Talk about energetic and super-fast!  It was SO MUCH BETTER THAN THEIR FIRST CHARLESTON!  It was filled with Charleston content, except the knee-crossing, Lindy Hop, each of them jumping over the other’s shoulders from back to front, and more.  And the hot-pink outfits (shoes, too!)—loved it all!  In my opinion, Lindsay still has the best legs of all the female dancers.   Tom introduced longtime singer Lionel Richie, who will be one of three judges when “American Idol” returns 11 March 2018.  He announced the winner from among...

DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 25, FALL 2017, WEEK 9

DANCING WITH THE STARS SEASON 25, FALL 2017, WEEK 9 Dear DWTS Fans:  Welcome back!   Welcome to Week 9 of Season 25–Monday, November 13, 2017!  Tom and Erin hosted. Carrie Ann Inaba (CAI), Len Goodman, and Bruno Tonioli judged.  It’s Semifinals Night!   THE CURRENT CAST:  “Property Brothers” Drew Scott & pro Emma Slater (1-800-868-3404) Actor Frankie Muniz (formerly “Malcolm”) & pro Witney Carson (1-800-868-3405) Actor/Singer/Dancer Jordan Fisher & pro Lindsay Arnold (1-800-868-3406) Electronic Violinist Lindsey Stirling & pro Mark Ballas* (1-800-868-3407) Former Paralympic Swimmer Victoria Arlen & pro Val Chmerkovskiy (1-800-868-3413) *(2-Time MBT winner)   Ballroom & Latin Dances: Foxtrot, Quickstep, Waltz, Viennese Waltz, Tango, Argentine Tango, Jive, Jazz, Charleston, Contemporary; Cha-Cha, Samba, Salsa, Rumba, Paso Doble.  “Learn the dance, learn the steps, then learn the character of it.” — Len Goodman Mon., Nov. 13, 2017:   Each couple will do two dances.  The pros were allowed to choose their first dances.  For each, the second dance will be performed as a reinterpretation of sorts of an iconic song that was done in a previous season; I say that this is unfair to current contestants whose dances will be compared with those of contestants who won their seasons involving this dance. FIRST DANCE Drew Scott + Emma: Tango (“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” The Proclaimers). Judges: 8. Me 8.  Drew wore a kilt and the rest of the Scottish getup to represent his heritage for this song/dance.  He always gives his all. The tempo of the song threw off his technique/posture and such; this usually happens when he dances to something other than a slow number. Also, this dance held none of the required obvious intensity, sexual or otherwise, between the two.  He’s due for:  Jazz, Contemporary; Cha-Cha, Samba, Salsa, Rumba. Victoria + Val: Contemporary (“To Build a Home” [feat. Patrick Watson], Cinematic Orchestra).  Judges: 9.  Me: 9.  Creative, cohesive, graceful in representing her journey back to health with the amazing support of her parents.   She’s due for:  Waltz, Jive, Jazz; Samba, Salsa, Rumba. Jordan + Lindsay: Argentine Tango (“Brother” [feat. Gavin DeGraw], NEEDTOBREATHE).  This dance represents Jordan’s track record as a loving, supportive sibling in the family who adopted him and in his journey with Lindsay.   Judges: 9,9,10. Me: 9.5.  Loved it! He’s due for:  Waltz, Jive, Jazz; Cha-Cha, Samba, Salsa. Lindsey + Mark: Contemporary (“Head High,” Alexander Jean).   Judges 10,9,10.  Me 10.  They danced about triumph through adversity and freedom to be one’s self.  Talk about dancing, moving from primal instinct and the core! Raw, emotional vulnerability with...

WRITING: SENTENCES November 7, 2017

WRITING:  SENTENCES                                                   November 7, 2017 In writing, if all sentences were the same type and of a similar length, reading could become less interesting.  Alternating sentence types and lengths, whenever possible, makes writing and reading more interesting.  Fortunately, we have three different types of sentences.   Simple:  I am going to cut the grass. Very-simple and very-short sentences are most often geared toward young children to suit their limited reading and/or comprehension levels.   Compound (more than one part):  I am going to cut the grass, and then I am going to trim the bushes. Compound sentences are for readers of average ability.   Complex:  I am going to cut the grass [Part 1, independent clause, complete thought/sentence], and then I am going to trim the bushes [Part 2, independent clause, complete thought/sentence], which is what all homeowners should do to take good care of their properties [Part 3, dependent clause, incomplete thought/sentence].   Complex sentences that contain short, easy-to-understand independent clauses and a short dependent clause also are usually for average readers.   However, a complex sentence can become more complex as more and longer parts are added.  Those parts can be independent clauses (they usually follow a semicolon), but they’re often dependent clauses.  The more parts that are added, the more difficult the sentence becomes for less-sophisticated readers to follow.   Varying sentence type and length is okay to keep interest in your writing, but more important than that is to tailor sentence length and word choice appropriately for your readers.   Many lessons and bits of advice in this writing/grammar series have been taken from Writestyle’s online campus of courses covering Grammar, Punctuation, Proofreading, and Editing.  If you need help, we’re here for you.  (Note: Our very-old Web site, https://writestyle.com, is being revamped but is still accessible.)   Vickie L. Weaver’s beloved rhyming picture book, My Child, I’ll Still Be Loving You, highlights the parent-child bond while her biography, Dancing in the Stars, entertains and inspires via dance, romance, history, Vaudeville and Hollywood.  ...

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