Welcome to Peace Week, Day 5

Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014 by Travis Cody in

My family's hands of love built the foundation of my personal Peace.  I lean on my family every day.

This week I've told you some special stories about my grandparents.  Today I want to tell you one about my sister and me.  I first told you this story in 2011.

My bed time changed when I was 8 years old, from 20:30 to 21:30.  Part of that was because I was playing football and Mom wanted me to have time for homework and a little more down time in the evenings with the family.

And when I was 8 years old, I had to start taking out the garbage.

When I was 11 years old, my folks got divorced and it was just me and my mom and my 6 year old sister.  I was still playing football and my bed time was 22:00.

And when I was 11 years old, I still had to take out the garbage.  I also had to empty the dishwasher, and run the vacuum once a week, and a few other chores.  And I had to pick up my sister after school every day and take her to football practice with me.  Mom picked us both up after practice.

When there was no football, I just picked my sister up from school and we both walked home together.  Latch key kids, we were.

I don't know why I thought about that last night.  It's a good memory.  My sis and I had our differences, every once in awhile.  We had chores and we had curfew.  We didn't have a lot of cash, but we had enough allowance.  We could yell at each other and slam doors and hide stuff from each other.

But none of that was permanent.  That was just being siblings.

The permanent stuff...the real stuff...that was every day when she ran out of her class with a big grin and traded her little book bag for my helmet so she could wear it while we walked to the practice field.

The permanent stuff...the real stuff...that was when I could hear her yelling "Go Trav" whenever I did something.

The permanent stuff...the real stuff...that was when she lugged my pads out to the car when Mom got there to drive us home.

The permanent stuff...the real stuff...that was knowing she was always in the stands yelling for me, and when she knew I was in the stands yelling for her.

The permanent stuff...the real stuff...that was when I waltzed with my sister at her wedding, and when I got my first look at the little person she made a few years later.

The permanent stuff...the real stuff...that's my family's hands of love building the foundation of my personal Peace.

I believe that words have power, so this matters.  Join us as we speak on one subject with one voice on one day.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Welcome to Peace Week, Day 4

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014 by Travis Cody in

My family's hands of love built the foundation of my personal Peace.  I lean on my family every day.

I first told you a special story about my grandfather back in 2011.

I love my grandpa.  And I miss seeing him.

He just made a major life change.  After more than 60 years in the house my mom grew up in, he has moved into a retirement community in San Mateo CA.

My mom and my sister helped him organize and downsize the stuff in the house.  Pam and I couldn't make it down to help.  I'm sad about that.  I have so many memories of that house.  I know it's just a place.  It's the memories that really matter. 

We had a great evening last night.  We met the gang downtown.  We ate and laughed, and ate and laughed, and drank and laughed some more.  Then we came home and my grandpa called me.  He doesn't do that often.  He says he intends to call me, but then he gets a little side tracked and by the time he remembers, it's late and he says he'll do it tomorrow.

Last night he wanted to tell me that he got my check and my monthly note.  I had sent it to the old address and the post office forwarded it to his new one.  He wanted to tell me, so he took advantage of a perk at his new home...he asked the front desk to call him at one bell at evening watch and remind him to call his grandson. 

Grandpa worked ships.  He often lapses and calls time by ship's watch.  One bell at evening watch is 20:30 hours, or 8:30pm.  The gal at the desk who entered the reminder for him knew that!  Grandpa was delighted that he didn't have to explain.  Grandpa has a clock that rings the bells of each watch.  It used to sit on the mantle.

I remember having a struggle learning to tell time correctly when I went to school because I thought in watch bells. 

He's 89 years old and has had only two addresses for his entire adult life...either aboard ship or at the house in South San Francisco.  The last time he moved was out of his parents' home and onto his first berth as an ordinary seaman.  He was 16...lied about his age.

My grandmother took care of the move into the house in South City because Grandpa's ship was on a 2-day turn in port...just long enough to sign the papers to buy the house.  When that tour ended and he was able to take extended leave, Gram picked him up at the harbor and drove him to the new house, which had been completely furnished and made ship shape.

That was in 1948.

So he had to tell me that it was nice of the post office to put a big yellow sticker on his mail, not just to make sure the mail got to his new home, but to remind him to tell the sender that he has a new address.

Mom had already sent me an email with that and his new phone number.  But my grandpa is a responsible man.  He said that it was the right thing to do to follow the instructions of the post office, and be sure to notify anyone who might mail him something to send it to his new address.

And I have dutifully written down the new address and phone number, even though I already have it in my yahoo contacts and in my phone.  After all, my grandpa called me specifically to tell it to me.

"My boy," he said.  "This yellow sticker on your letter says that the post office will forward all my mail, but that I should remember to advise my contacts and associates that I have moved.  I forget things, so it's good that they do that.  While I have your letter in front of me, I decided to call to give you my new address and telephone number."

He says telephone.

Nobody else calls me that, by the way.  Only my grandpa calls me "my boy".  It's comforting.  So I write him notes and call him every so often so I can hear him say it.  "My boy, I enjoy those notes" and "My boy, it's good to hear from you".

I'll miss that old house.  It's just a place, but it's the place where my mom grew up.  It's the place where my sister and I spent summers with our grandmother.  For half of my life I lived within 100 miles of that house and I could go there whenever I wanted...or needed.

Gram is buried less than 5 miles from that house.  Grandpa's new home is about 10 miles from it.  It's the place where my grandpa taught me to grill a steak, because a man should know how whether he does it every weekend or only a few times in his life.  It's the place were my grandpa told me that whatever I was going to do, I should always be determined to do it well.

I have photographs of the house, and so many memories of my grandparents' hands of love.

I believe that words have power, so this matters.  Join us as we speak on one subject with one voice on one day.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Welcome to Peace Week, Day 3

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 by Travis Cody in

My family's hands of love built the foundation of my personal Peace.  I lean on my family every day.

Yesterday I told you a special story about my grandmother.  Today I have another.  I first told you this in 2007 and then again in 2011.  It's about memories, and home, and family...my family's hands of love.

When I was about 10, my parents divorced and my younger sister and I were raised by our single mom.  We lived about an hour and a half from my grandmother, and so we made lots of weekend trips over to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit.  They were like mini vacations for us.  We would laugh and sing in the car during the entire drive.

I remember the time we tried to take a short cut through Hayward to get to the San Mateo Bridge.  We ended up lost!  If there was a way to lose a large body of water like a bay and a huge bridge...we found it!  But such were our little adventures.

Editor's note:  I have inherited that trait.  Just after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, while driving late at night in downtown San Francisco, I managed to lose the Bay Bridge.  But that's a story for another trip in the Wayback Machine. 

Anyway, that shortcut turned out to be the best thing because we passed right by a 7-Eleven convenience store on a side street.  Once we figured out the short cut, we almost always used it and Mom would give in to our begging and stop for Slurpees.  Not always, but more often than not.  If she didn't, we'd have to wait until we got to Gram's.

My sister and I were Slurpee-holics in those days.

Gram was the best.  She was a fireplug of a redhead and she was so much fun when I was a kid.  She'd take us down to Tanforan Mall in San Bruno.  We'd have adventures in parking.  She'd drive and drive around the side lot next to the Sears entrance to the mall, waiting for "her" spot to open up right near the front.  My sister and I would play scout from the backseat, keeping an eye on the entrance and watching for people heading to their cars.  And then, just like that, Gram's spot would open up and she'd swing the big Caddy in like a pro.

Honestly!  Can you imagine a woman all of 4'9" wrangling a huge 1970's model Cadillac around a parking lot?

After our triumph in parking, we'd walk into the mall through Sears.  This was my first experience with any large shopping mall.  Gram would always take us to the toy store and the pet store.  Sometimes she'd need to stop at a shoe store, and she always picked the one next to Waldenbooks so we could browse while she got her shoes.  Sometimes we'd get a prize for being patient...a new Hardy Boys book for me and a Trixie Belden or Bobbsey Twins for my sis.

Then we'd head over to the Walgreen's.  Now back in those days at Tanforan, the Walgreen's was more than just a place where Gram could get her necessaries, as she called them.  Once in awhile we'd get new coloring books and the small boxes of new Crayola crayons.  Of course we'd lust after the big box of 64 with the built-in sharpener, but that was always reserved for a holiday or birthday gift.

But the Walgreen's...it was a drug store like it is today, but it also had a cafe/restaurant!  My sister and I were always on our best behavior with limited fidgeting and whining during the shopping phase of our outing, because we knew that after all that good behavior we'd get grilled cheese and hot fudge sundaes at the Walgreen's cafe/restaurant.

The best thing though...the ultimate...the grandest thing about going to Gram's was that she lived around the corner from a 7-Eleven.  Can you imagine anything better for a couple of Slurpee-holics?  After a day of racing Big Wheels down the big hill, or building Legos and Tinker Toys in the backyard, or drawing and coloring on the big dining room table, Gram would hand us a dollar and send us around the corner for Slurpees.

Yeah...back then you could get 2 Slurpees for a buck. 

My grandmother has been gone for more than 28 years now.  My grandfather just sold the house in 2012 so he could move into a smaller place with more immediate onsite care and attention.  I'm a little sad about that, but all things change.

My aunt and uncle still live one block over from that house.  So now it's a two block walk to get to that same 7-Eleven. 

So what feels like home, now that the old house is no longer part of our family?


Memories of my redheaded spitfire Gram, and Caddy wrangling in a parking lot, and Walgreen's grilled cheese and hot fudge sundaes, and Crayola crayons, and getting lost as an adventure, and Slurpees.

Memories are always home.  And home is family.  And my family's hands of love built the foundation of my personal Peace.

I believe that words have power, so this matters.  Join us as we speak on one subject with one voice on one day.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Welcome to Peace Week, Day 2

Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2014 by Travis Cody in

I got virtually hugged so hard last night by some blogging pals who were happy to see me out and about in the old community again.  It's good to be missed!

Of course, there's a reason I'm here this week.  Blog Blast is exactly one week from today.

My family's hands of love built the foundation of my personal Peace.  I lean on my family every day.

I first told you a special story about my grandmother back in 2008.  I shared it again in 2013.  She's been gone more than 28 years now, but her impact on my life remains strong.

My grandmother died on 21 April 1986.

I had been living and working in southern California at the time, a long way from home.  When she went into the hospital for the last time, I took a long weekend and drove up to see her.  It was difficult for me.  I wanted to come home.

She told me to hang in and do my best.  And she told me that if it was what I really wanted to do with my life, then everything would work itself out.  Of course it wasn't what I wanted to do with my life.  I wanted to be a Marine.  But that wasn't going to happen no matter how much I wanted it.

I felt selfish for bringing my own problems like that.  But she told me she was at peace and there was nothing she would rather do in her final days than help her grandson figure things out.

Yeah...I cried.

Gram was always such a presence in my life.  The story goes that just after I was born, they couldn't get me to make much noise.  I didn't cry or fuss much...just a few random grunts.  And one little fist kept escaping from the swaddle package.  No matter how many times they wrapped me up tight, that little fist kept working its way free.  And my eyes were open and wandering from sound to sound.

They tell me that when Gram came into the room and spoke, my head snapped to her and my eyes fixed on her.  These are the words my mom has always said Gram spoke to me.

"Well hello there.  I'm Grammy and of course you must be Travis."

And that was when I started to make a lot of noise.  If Gram left the room, they say I "looked" for her and fussed until she came back.  I had a bond with her. She was one of the three women who raised me...along with my mom and my sister.  They made me who I am.

Now this is a story about ghosts, and I promise I'm getting there.

I knew the moment Gram left.  I knew she went peacefully after such a long and draining battle with emphysema.  I called my supervisor and quit my job.  I knew I was on the wrong path and I knew I needed to go home.  I wouldn't be able to get through my grief without my mom and my sister.

And even going home, I struggled for a long time as I tried to get used to the idea that I couldn't get in my truck and drive 90 miles to see Gram anymore.

One night about six months after she died, it got to be too much.  I got in my truck and drove to her.  She's in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno CA.

I'm not a religious man and I don't accept the concept of any god or supreme being.  I wasn't raised with any kind of belief or study in that kind of thing.  I am spiritual in my own way and it doesn't have anything to do with any ideas about religion or heaven or angels.

I believe we all come from a well of energy, and when we die our energy returns to that well.  I believe that we are all connected to the energy in the well.

I'm not looking for a debate or discussion.  I simply state the way I think so you have a context for what I experienced.

It was after midnight when I pulled to a stop on El Camino Real.  Golden Gate National Cemetery is huge.  But I knew where she was...almost as though I was being guided to the spot.

I got out of the truck and walked to the fence.  I was looking down the row of headstones, and her place was about 75 yards from where I stood.  She's buried there with my baby Uncle Joey who was stillborn in 1954.

It was oddly peaceful to be standing there.  A lot of stuff was working itself out in my mind.  I could feel her with me.  And so I asked out loud, is it ok with you now?  Is it better?  Are you at peace now?

When I was little, Gram used to play a game with us.  Every time she entered a room, she'd flick the light switch off and on three times.  So just as I finished asking my questions, the lamp post over my shoulder flicked on and off three times.

And I knew she was ok.  She was better.  She was at peace.  And I could be too.

When I got back in the truck, I felt light.  For the first time since she died, my thoughts were clear and I wasn't sad.  There was an overwhelming presence in the cab with me, but it wasn't oppressive at all.  It was warm.

As I drove away from the cemetery, the presence coalesced and Gram was there in the passenger seat.  I felt her there, and I saw her there.  I told her I loved her.  She rode with me for awhile.  We had our real final talk about where my life was headed, until she started to fade as we approached the San Mateo Bridge.

Her ghost faded away, but her presence remained.  She has been in my heart every day since then.

I've seen her ghost return twice since that night.  She was there when my sister got married, and she was there on the day my niece was born.

I swear I heard her say, "Well hello there. I'm Grammy and of course you must be (my niece's name)".

My family's hands of love built the foundation of my personal Peace.

I believe that words have power, so this matters.  Join us as we speak on one subject with one voice on one day.

Dona Nobis Pacem

Welcome to Peace Week, Day 1

Posted: Monday, October 27, 2014 by Travis Cody in


You didn't think I'd let Blog Blast go by, did you?

Of course you didn't.  And so I won't.

I am a Peace blogger, even if I'm not actually an active blogger at the moment.  I still believe that words have power, and so this movement matters.

Last year, Blog Blast founder Mimi Lennox of Mimi Writes asked Peace bloggers what they wanted the world to look like.  I put my answer on my Peace Globe.  I did and do want the world to celebrate diversity in all its forms, and for everyone to have the opportunity to pursue his or her purpose with intent.

I think that's a good way to live, and I've always tried to follow that path.

This year, Mimi asks us to explore how we translate the words we convey about peace into our day to day bricks and mortar actions.  After all, what you put down in words should translate into behaviors, don't you think?  As Mimi says, these are words in the hands of love.

These days I'm finding so much peace in my family, friends, and colleagues.  I always enjoyed my interactions with my blogging community.  I've missed that since Trav's Thoughts went dark.  But what I've gained is more time to look into the eyes of others, and to have them look into mine.  There is a reason they say that the eyes are the windows to the soul.  A person's eyes reveal personal truth.

So welcome to Peace Week 2014.  Leading up to Blog Blast day on 4 Nov, I want to hit the Wayback Machine to share some stories I've posted in the past about my family.  That's where my personal Peace begins.  That's where it grows.  And that's the safe place from which my Peace ripples flow into the world.

Dona Nobis Pacem

6 June 1944

Posted: Friday, June 06, 2014 by Travis Cody in

It doesn't matter that this space is dark in 2014.  Today I am present for the 70th commemoration of the Allied invasion of the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944.

  • In 2008 I wrote about US Army E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division
  • In 2009 I wrote about the diversity of the combined Allied effort
  • In 2010 I wrote about US Army 2nd Raider Battalion
  • In 2011 I wrote about the British 6th Airborne Division
  • In 2012 I wrote about the Omaha Beach assault by elements of 1st and 29th Divisions of US Army V Corps supported by 5th Ranger Battalion and 5th Engineer Special Brigade 
  • In 2013 I wrote about deception and spy craft to misdirect Germany in the weeks leading up to the invasion
I don't have a new essay for you today.  I simply wish to ask you to please remember them today, tomorrow, and in all the days to come.  Remember ordinary men who did extraordinary things because those things needed to be done.

To those who never came home, I thank you profoundly for the sacrifice you made. 

To those who returned, may these your twilight years be filled with light and peace. 

It is the nature of time that they leave us.  I make the choice granted me by liberty and freedom to remember their service and sacrifice, and to honor it always.

Going dark

Posted: Monday, November 18, 2013 by Travis Cody in

It has been my pleasure over the last seven years to share my thoughts with the blogosphere.  I have decided that enough is as good as a feast, and so today Trav's Thoughts goes dark.

Whether the thoughts cease to be shared permanently or only for a short while remains to be seen.

Cheers and best wishes to all.

Five on Friday Set 200

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013 by Travis Cody in

Edit:  Jamie pointed out that I forgot Mr Linky one last time.  I fixed that.

Now we come to the end.  Set 200.

Seriously...200 is a pretty big deal.  To date I've posted 1025 songs on 199 Sets.  The math should make it 199 x 5 for 995, but there were a few times when I posted more than 5 songs on a Set, bringing us to 1025.

Through Set 199 I have included 474 different artists and there have been 67 duplicate tracks, not counting the same track recorded by different artists or coincidentally having the same title.  Here is a list of tracks that have been used more than twice.
  • Photographs and Memories by Jim Croce has been used three times
  • People Got To Be Free by the Rascals has been used three times
  • The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield has been used three times
  • Landslide by Stevie Nicks has been used three times
  • Good Morning Starshine by Oliver has been used three times
  • I Can Hear Music by The Beach Boys has been used three times
  • Rainy Night in Georgia by Brook Benton has been used three times
  • Secretly by Jimmie Rogers has been used three times
  • Turn Around Look at Me by The Vogues has been used three times
  • Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls has been used four times
Now you all know that I don't typically commit to single favorites, except in very rare cases.  My tastes change daily in terms of what I consider best or favorite.  I like all 199 Sets I've posted for different reasons.  But when you're closing down a long standing feature, I think it makes a good ending to put together something special. 

So Pam chose her favorite tunes from Sets 1 through 198, while I chose groups of tunes I can safely say I've enjoyed more than others.  For our final Set 200, I'm combining my 5 favorite Five on Friday Sets from the last 199.

You'll note from my list above that Iris appears four times on FoF.  It was on three of the five Sets I chose for today, so I replaced two of the appearances.

Please enjoy my Super-Sized-Mega-Step-Over-Lip-Lock Set 200.  I've enjoyed preparing this feature every week.  I've enjoyed visiting those who share their own musical interests.

But 200 is enough for me.  And so, The End.


Five on Friday Set 200 by Travis on Grooveshark Set 22
  • A Summer Song, written by Chad Stuart/Clive Metcalfe/Keith Noble, released by Chad & Jeremy in 1964
  • The Rain, the Park, and Other Things, written by Artie Kornfield/Steve Duboff, released by Cowsills in 1967
  • Clair, written by Gilbert O'Sullivan, released in 1972
  • A World Without Love, written by John Lennon/Paul McCartney, released by Peter & Gordon in 1964
  • I Saw the Light, written by Todd Rundgren, released in 1972
Set 38
  • The Time of My Life, written by Steve Lipson, released by David Cook in 2008
  • Iris, written by Anthony Romo, released by Goo Goo Dolls in 1998
  • Better Together, written by Jack Johnson, released in 2006
  • For the First Time, written by James Newton Howard/Jud J Friedman/Allan Dennis Rich, released by Kenny Loggins in 1996
  • The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, written by Ewan MacColl, released by Roberta Flack in 1972
Set 94
  • Could I Have this Dance, written by Wayland Holyfield/Bob House, released by Anne Murray in 1980
  • If, written by David Gates, released by Bread in 1971
  • The Goodbye Girl, written by David Gates, released in 1977
  • And I Love You So, written by Don McLean, released in 1970
  • Sunday Morning Sunshine, written by Harry Chapin, released in 1972
Set 108
  • Do You Want to Dance, written by Bobby Freeman, released by Bette Midler in 1972
  • Light as the Breeze, written by Leonard Cohen, released by Billy Joel in 1995
  • Songbird, written by Christine McVie, released by Fleetwood Mac in 1977
  • Iris, Goo Goo Dolls
    • Replaced with Elusive Butterfly, written by Bob Lind, released in 1966
  • Here, There, and Everywhere, written by Sir Paul McCartney, released by The Beatles in 1966
Set 156
  • Iris, Goo Goo Dolls
    • Replaced by I Knew You When, written by Joe South, released by Billy Joe Royal in 1965
  • If You Could Read My Mind, written by Gordon Lightfoot, released in 1970
  • Photographs and Memories, written by Jim Croce, released in 1972
  • Landslide, written by Stevie Nicks, released in 1975
  • Maybe You Should, written by Taylor Hicks/Gary Nicholson/Mike Reid, released by Taylor Hicks in 2008

Cue that theme music

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2013 by Travis Cody in

Welcome to our final encore post.

I thought Jack and Cheryl had a great night.  First they danced a lovely Viennese Waltz.  Then they followed up with a fun Samba in the Trio Round with Sharna Burgess.  Both performances are encore worthy.

First the Viennese Waltz.  Click here if the video doesn't play.

Then the Trio Samba.  Scroll forward to 1:55 for the dance.  Click here if the video doesn't play.

The Trio Jive from Leah and Tony with Henry Biyalikov was so clever and creative.  It was also danced extremely well.  Scroll forward to about 1:49 for the dance.  Click here if the video doesn't play.

Our final dance of the night selection could conceivably crack the Top 10 all time performances in the run of the show.  This is the Trio Jazz from Corbin and Karina featuring Witney Carson.  Scroll forward to about 1:49 for the dance.  Click here if the video doesn't play.

It has been my pleasure over the years not only to recap performance night, but also to bring you a taste of the dancing in my encore posts.

Cheers gang!

Cue that theme music!

Posted: Tuesday, November 12, 2013 by Travis Cody in

It's live from Hollywood!

Well gang, welcome to my last performance recap.  After due consideration, I have decided that it's time to stop.  So we've duded up in our fru fru finery, we've got our cheese and crackers, we've cracked open a fine merlot, and we have CAKE.

Our six remaining pairs will each have an individual dance, and then it's the return of the Trio Round.  More on that later.

First it's our individual round.

Amber and Derek dance Quickstep.  She's got both of her knees wrapped this week and she's having a tough time getting through practice.  You need to be on both legs for Quickstep.  There's no hiding when your wheels aren't healthy.  I love this music.  It's more classic and Quickstep looks right to it.  Amber is keeping up, and Derek did a smart thing by not making too many super difficult steps.  There was plenty of classic content, so there shouldn't be any complaints there.  She gave it her all, but there were some issues with her posture and a couple of mistakes with footwork.  I suspect she was leaning forward a bit more to favor those knees.  I've done that myself.  She's always spot on for performance.  It's a shame that her knees won't allow her to go full out.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.    

Leah and Tony dance Tango.  The drama of Tango suits her as an actor.  All she has to do is keep up with the tempo and not make any footwork or posture mistakes.  I'd still like to see her extend her legs and arms.  I want her to reach out beyond her feet and hands.  Reach right out into the audience and pull them back in.  That extension and line emphasizes the drama, particularly in Tango.  These routines are seeming very short to me.  It doesn't seem like the full 90 seconds.  I liked this routine, but there just didn't seem to be enough of it.  I thought her frame was very good.  She never missed her footwork.  But I wanted more of the performance.  I was just getting into it and then it was over.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Corbin and Karina dance Waltz.  They talked in rehearsal about dancing traditional.  If you do that with Waltz, you can't go wrong.  Rise and fall.  Fairy tale.  Spins.  Twirls.  Add it all up and you get romance, and that's Waltz.  I think they did a fine job with every element.  It was a pretty dance.  I thought Corbin's frame was excellent.  He was expressive and classy.  Leah should watch some tape of the way he extends through his hands and feet.  You create entirely different and complete shapes when you do that.  You also enhance the little performance details, because that extra quarter beat on the reach helps you breathe through the phrasing.  I thought the movement in this piece was smooth and fluid, mainly due to that wonderful extension.  Judges say 9,9.10 for a total of 28.

Jack and Cheryl dance Viennese Waltz.  Happy Birthday Jack!  Cheryl gave him a mini mirror ball trophy.  Sweet!  I enjoy the shapes he makes.  Jack understands extension and pause.  His frame is excellent.  His footwork is excellent.  He always looks like he's leading in the ballroom styles.  This Viennese Waltz had all the content.  It had so many lovely turns.  It had fluidity and flow.  I thought he had tremendous control in spins.  If he could just release the tension in his hands, he'd have the entire package.  I really enjoy the way he has embraced and built on technique.  That foundation lets him dance with incredible confidence, particularly in the ballroom styles.  Judges say 10,10,9 for a total of 29.

Bill and Emma dance Charleston.  Bill was a bit stompy with his footwork.  Yes, stompy.  It's a word.  It was a bit of a silly routine.  Certainly entertaining.  But I didn't see enough real Charleston in that dance.  Or perhaps it was that I had trouble recognizing the real Charleston elements of the piece.  I thought Bill's musicality and timing were way off.  He didn't turn out on the kicks.  He wasn't able to swivel.  There was almost no bounce.  The movement didn't seem to match the tempo of the music.  Yes, he works hard and tries and puts out his best effort.  Unfortunately some of the dance styles require a minimum amount of technique, otherwise they just look bad no matter how hard you work and how much you try.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.

Elizabeth and Val dance Viennese Waltz.  They struggled last week, I believe due entirely to Elizabeth making the music change.  This week, Val took back control and asked her to dance what he choreographed.  She did that, and the performance was beautiful.  There was drama in the story, directed by Val's choices to leave an edge to the movement rather than to soften it.  I thought it was an unusual piece of choreography.  There was a bit more jerkiness in the movement than I typically care for in Viennese Waltz.  I prefer the smooth flow.  However, I thought this piece made lovely use of a contemporary darkness and for that creativity, I enjoyed the performance.  Judges say 9,8,9 for a total of 26.

Here's our leader board after first round.

29 Jack and Cheryl
28 Corbin and Karina
27 Leah and Tony
26 Elizabeth and Val
24 Amber and Derek
21 Bill and Emma

Now it's the Trio Round.  Each of our couples gets to add an eliminated pro or a member of our Troupe.  The idea is to make the celebrity shine.

Amber and Derek are joined by Mark Ballas to dance Salsa.  The performance quality was high in that dance.  It had energy.  With the bad knees, she's limited.  She can't get across the floor, and she can't push off her feet to get more hip action.  The dance was essentially static, except when Derek and Mark lifted her to move across the floor.  Typically Salsa is characterized by constant flow, and this choreography had stops and starts as it moved between work in hold and side by side by side work.  Overall the dance was entertaining and I enjoyed it.  It's just a shame that Amber's knees keep her from doing some of the things I'm sure she's capable of.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Leah and Tony are joined by Henry Biyalikov to dance Jive.  HA!  They've decided to play the judges in their routine.  That was surprisingly effective.  Not only were the characterizations excellent, but the dancing was nearly flawless.  The piece was well designed.  The parodies weren't mean.  The choreography was difficult and full of outstanding Jive content.  There were a couple of issues with Leah's kicks and flicks.  I would have liked to see them a little sharper and cleaner.  But the routine was so entertaining that those things are easy to overlook when taking in the whole.  Judges say 9s across for a total of 27.

Corbin and Karina are joined by Witney Carson to dance Jazz.  That was really good gang.  This is right in Corbin's wheelhouse.  He's a Broadway performer and this routine was straight off a Broadway stage.  It had character and pizzazz.  The choreography built from note and movement one.  It had a Fosse-esque quality to it, interpreted by all three dancers.  There wasn't anything to dislike about it.  The rehearsal footage showed Corbin taking a more active role, adding his ideas to the piece.  It seemed like all three dancers were able to meld individual styles into a cohesive and complete routine.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Jack and Cheryl are joined by Sharna Burgess to dance Samba.  Let's see if Jack can turn loose and just dance a Latin number.  Oh he's done it.  He's got some Latin hips going.  He gave in to it.  He got some Samba bounce.  He completely embraced the character and the cheesiness in the story.  That brought this performance up to a level he hadn't quite been able to reach in Latin styles.  The routine was clever and creative, without being too silly.  Yes, sometimes he was flat footed and he did get a little out of control when trying to dance between the two Cheryl and Sharna.  But when he danced in hold with Cheryl, he did have solid posture and frame.  I thought the whole performance was entertaining.  Judges say 8,8,9 for a total of 25.

Bill and Emma are joined by Peta Murgatroyd to dance Salsa.  We have a Willy Wonka Salsa.  Well, there wasn't a whole lot of actual Salsa in the routine.  What there was...well, I can't say Bill danced it very well.  It was another silly routine, designed principally to entertain.  I suppose it was successful in that respect.  But there really wasn't any musicality or rhythm.  There was no technique.  It was just a combination of bizarre choreography and movement.  It's really unfortunate for Bill, because in the early part of the competition he was learning and improving his technique.  I thought he actually had potential to do fairly well.  But he has regressed in the last few dances, almost as though Emma has given up on the teaching and just gone for the entertainment value.  I guess that's one choice.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21. 

Elizabeth and Val are joined by Gleb Savchenko to dance Salsa.  This is some classic Salsa.  The flow never stopped.  The choreography was so difficult.  I thought Elizabeth lost timing a couple of times.  But the neat thing about dancing with Val and Gleb was that they kept time and synch between them so that Elizabeth became a center piece.  That meant that when she was off time, it looked like it was by design.  Val's choreography was outstanding.  It make the most of Elizabeth's strengths.  I thought the way they transitioned Elizabeth between them was excellent.  They kept her right on the edge of balance.  Just as it looked like one of those turns was going to trip her up, one or the other of the guys was there to save the movement and make it look like a natural progression in the routine.  Judges say 10s across for a total of 30.

Here's our leader final board with the scores from both rounds.

58 Corbin and Karina
56 Elizabeth and Val 
54 Leah and Tony
54 Jack and Cheryl
51 Amber and Derek
42 Bill and Emma 

Results...Corbin and Karina are safe.  Jack and Cheryl are safe.  Amber and Derek are safe.  Leah and Tony are safe.  Bill and Emma are safe.

That means Elizabeth and Val are eliminated.

You know, I can't say that's the wrong result because it's about who gets the fans to pick up the phone and vote.  Having said that, it's not really the right result.

And that's a wrap for me gang.  I've enjoyed sharing my dancing thoughts with you over the years.