Monday, April 30, 2012

Dancing with the Stars: Classical Night

I (Kel) am back to blogging, though I is still pissy that Gavin DeGraw is gone. And now there is no more Gladys Knight, which means no more Tristan. Not a great situation. However, it is Classical night, so that should be fun. However, Jen does not seem to be around. So I am the only blogger!

Mark & Katherine, Rhumba
Katherine is passionate about classical music, so this week should be in her comfort zone. According to Tom, their outfit is "Game of Thrones: The Musical". Ha! Anyway...the dance. Mark is shirtless! Their rhumba isn't very smooth. It is lovely and she looks gorgeous, but there doesn't seem to have any real flow to it. However, it was well acted. And really, can we discuss how lush Mark looks. And not in a "Oooo he is shirtless, look at his abs" sort of way. But in a really gorgeous dancer way. His back muscles are entrancing.
And apparently I am ignoring the judges. As I have no idea what they said. Bruno was dirty as always. No...I'm sticking with ignoring the judges. You only get my opinions tonight! Rock!
Score: 9s across the board

Maks & Melissa, Argentine Tango
Oh no! Maks has ankle problems and pain. Bad! Maks trained Val to do the dance, too, just in case he can't make it. Melissa is a lucky girl to have two Chmerkovskiys. Also, Val is nicer than Maks, so that probably makes rehearsal nicer. However, Maks is dancing tonight. At least for the tango. Their tricks are nice, though Melissa still looks vaguely awkward. Something about the way she holds her shoulders (which may have something to do with her breaking her back) seems off. Though she just never looks quite comfortable. However, that choreography was all star. Like, ridiculously amazing. Maks really worked that shit out. But I was distracted by her outfit which just did not work.
I think the judges are overly mean about the choreography. Melissa looks shocked and Maks looks epically pissed. I want to hear uncensored Maks comments because he is not a happy camper.

Cheryl & William, Viennese Waltz
Fun fact...when they showed them before saying their names, I could not think of what his name was. Generic Ken! Generic Ken whines too much. I mean, I feel back about his ankle, but could you not whine about having to dance classical? Blah. I'm sure there is a dance going on, but I cannot concentrate on anything besides how that voice is coming out of that kid. I mean, seriously. It doesn't make sense. And I love the stained glass floor. That is wicked! The dance didn't look comfortable. I could feel Williams's discomfort with the style. It seemed not smooth enough. Also, I mostly ignored it, so take my comments with a grain of salt. Can we score the singer? Because she was ridiculous.

Chelsie & Roshon, Argentine Tango
I feel bad for Roshon because he really does put his everything into his dancing. And it is like he just has too much energy and ends up being a bit sloppy. Roshon is talking to Val to learn how to be a man. What a great decision! Roshon, with his dimples, looks too adorable to be manly enough for Argentine Tango. I'm fairly sure Bad Romance is not a classical song. I gotta say...Roshon looks in control tonight. It looks kind of like he is playing the part and not really believing it, but you cannot fault his effort. I give the kid props, mostly because I like him.

Peta & Donald, Viennese Waltz
Their outfits are fantastic. They looks straight out of a movie. Peta's red number is amazingly striking. And Donald looks great in tails. Donald looks strong, though not particularly in it completely. The choreography was amazing, but I really wasn't feeling much of anything during that. I wanted to like it way more than I did. Perhaps I am just getting tired.

Derek & Maria, Paso Doble
I love that they are dancing to Montagues and Capulets from the Romeo & Juliet opera. Fantastic piece of music. This week they are the drama couple. DRAMA! Derek's choreography is fierce. It has a story and is very dynamic. And really fits the music. Everything about this piece is working for me. Definitely my favorite of the night. And Maria werqed that Paso all over the place.
First perfect score of the season. And grading on the scale of judging, well deserved.

Kym & Jaleel, Viennese Waltz
Once again, Jaleel really acted out the dance and understood the story. And Kym's choreography was gorgeous. I think Jaleel could have been a lot smoother, though. And not in a smooth swag sort of way, but in a not quite so bouncy way in his basic. It was nice, it was good, but I did not really feel anything from it. It seems a little flat and I'm not sure it was danced with any sort of particularly good technique. A bit meh.

And now there are two group dances. I'm sorry, but are we going to drag the last two dances out for half an hour? I am just not ok with that. Oh wait, Jackie Evanko (little girl who is ridiculously talented) is back. Still...seems like way too much time and not enough dance. However, I got a dance of Karina and Tristan so I am less pissy about it.

Team Tango: Katherine, Mark, Jaleel, Kym, Derek, Maria, Chelsie, Roshon
I like their concept a whole lot. And the outfits are fierce! The music and lights are all working for me. In the solos, Derek and Maria botched the end of their part. Jaleel and Kym were pretty great. I feel like Katherine and Mark could have used a bit more polish. I think I liked Chelsie and Roshon the best in their part. Chelsie's choreography was really interesting. I'm not sure how much group work they were supposed to have, but I thought it could have used some more interplay between the couples. It really seemed like four separate dances for the most part instead of one group. That being said, I really enjoyed the overall dance.

Team Paso: William, Cheryl, Maks, Melissa, Donald, Peta
Love the music and the flame floor and the flames! Fire! Besides a few spots that were not quite together, that was brilliant. They really seemed like a group. The choreography was fantastic. None of the solo sections was weaker than the other. Everyone had passion and strength. I even like William! I thought Donald looked especially fierce in his part. Definiely nailed the whole performance and beat the other team. And not just because they were team shirtless. The shirtlessness worked and added to the dance. And the suspenders were a delicious touch. Team Tango was fun, but Team Paso was lush. And I would like to point out that the crowd is right that Team Paso should have had higher scores than Team Tango. The fact that Team Tango got a higher school is bullshit, which can be seen on Maks's face. Maks is not having a happy ballroom day.

I have no idea who will be in danger. I would be good with William leaving (he is still boring). I think Roshon may be in trouble again just because he doesn't have the fan base. I would probably stick Jaleel in the bottom as he did nothing to really impress tonight. I'm also worried for Melissa, though I think Maks's fan base may be big enough to take them through. Other fun facts: Gavin is going to be back tomorrow to sing (Yay! I hope he sings his new single Sweeter because it is hot and slightly dirty) and while I can spell Chmerkovskiy without looking, I apparently cannot spell Viennese without spell check.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dancing With the Stars: Mo-town Marathon

It was Motown night on "Dancing With the Stars," and that automatically means that Gladys Knight wins right? RIGHT!?

At the very least, it meant that the singing was decent, because instead of the normal singers who sound like cats being strangled, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and The Temptations sang the songs.

It was also "dance marathon" night. Don't expect to read much about it, though, because it's stupid.

Also, don't expect any striking commentary from Kel, because she's protesting the fact that Gavin DeGraw was eliminated and, therefore, refused to watch.

First off the bat on Motown Night was Tristan McManus and Gladys Knight, with a Rhumba to "My Girl." I loved it, because SHE'S GLADYS KNIGHT! DANCING TO MOTOWN! It was a smooth dance, and it was great to see Gladys out there, in her element. The judges enjoyed it, but they claim she forgot some steps (I didn't see it!) and just wasn't terribly polished. They gave them a score of 21, but Len also said, "If I were at home, I'd be on the phone right now." He should probably vote after the show!

Derek Hough and Maria Menounos danced a foxtrot to "Jimmy Mac." It was a super cute, light little dance, but what really made it shine was not their dance steps, but their personalities and chemistry. They really dance well together. Maria did have a little slip on the train of her dress - she's not used to long ballroom gowns! - but it was one of my favorite dances of the night. The judges really enjoyed the fun and the joy, but honed in on their slip-up. They gave them a score of 26.

Chelsie Hightower and Roshon Fagen danced a rhumba to "Cruisin'". Roshon was really trying to be sensual this week, and when he hit it, he really hit it. Unfortunately, he didn't hit it very often, but I was kind of afraid he was going to hit Chelsie in the face with his over-the-top movements. He really flung his arms around. The judges didn't like his overexaggerated movements, and Len thought it didn't flow well. Their score was a 23.

Mark Ballas and Katherine Jenkins danced a samba to "I Can't Get Next to You," and I was really impressed. She seems to really understand dancing, and she had a great little hippy, bouncy happiness that worked well with the samba. I could quibble about her arms, which I found to be a little wishy-washy, but overall I loved watching this dance! So did the judges - Len called her "the midwife," because she keeps delivering week after week; Bruno called her dance "exhilarating;" and Bruno said it was "amazing." She received a 29, just one point off a perfect score. (Thanks a lot, Len!)

Peta Murgatroyd and Donald Driver danced a foxtrot to "The Way You Do The Things You Do." It was just a touch cheesy at times, but overall it was a great dance. Donald is so smooth and light on his feet - something that still surprises me when I see how big and buff he is! Also, his hip action? FAN. TAS. TIC. Oooh, baby. The judges drooled all over themselves, panting to tell him how great he had done. "You came out and exploded!" Len exclaimed. His total score was 27.

Maksim Chmerkovskiy (whose last name I spelled correctly without looking! Nice!) and Melissa Gilbert danced a Viennese Waltz to "Ooo Baby Baby." FINALLY, Melissa didn't look like she was about to shit herself as Maks whirled her around the dance floor. She really started to look comfortable on the floor, and although she didn't look perfect, she looked happy. This was, by far, the best I'd seen her. The judges were very complimentary too, praising her extended lines, control, connection and the poetry in her movement. Her score was a 24.

Kym Johnson and Jaleel White danced a chacha to "Ain't Too Proud to Beg." It had a great feel, and I really enjoyed his sharp movement and the way he really got into the dance. The judges all loved it too, and urged him to continue to bring his A-game to the competition. He also was just one point off the elusive perfect score, with a 29, again thanks to Len!

Cheryl Burke and William Levy danced a rhumba to "Being With You." I liked him the best I have this season, even though he's not my favorite because I just don't understand why everyone loves him so damn much! He had a better connection with Cheryl this time, and really looked like he was working hard instead of phoning it in. They still focused just a teeny bit too much on him acting sexy instead of actually dancing, but because rhumba is a sexy-sex dance, it worked. Bruno said the dance was "filth! And I loved every minute of it!" The other judges liked it, but didn't love it. William received 27 points, which included a perfect 10 from Bruno, who I think was scoring with his "Little Bruno," if you know what I'm saying.

After a little intermission, it was time for the Dance Marathon! They had to dance for SEVERAL MINUTES, which Kel would tell you is no big deal if you're at a real ballroom competition instead of a silly celebrity dance competition. They all had to dance a chacha, and after Gladys was eliminated first, I really kind of stopped watching because Gladys should have won ... because it's Motown week and she's GLADYS EFFIN' KNIGHT! Katherine and Mark won, which was probably well-deserved, but, dammit, GLADYS KNIGHT!

Speaking of Gladys, I fear for her. I hope her sweetness and celebrity keep getting her through, but one of these weeks it's going to be over for her, and I will be even sadder than I was when Gavin DeGraw was eliminated last week. I think Roshon is also probably in jeopardy - he didn't dance great, and he doesn't seem to have a great following.

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Problem with Nicholas Sparks Movies

OK, full disclosure: I've never read a Nicholas Sparks book. His books could be the most well-written, wonderful books on the planet, and I would never know it.

However, I have seen the majority of the movies based on his books: "A Walk To Remember," "The Notebook," "Nights in Rodanthe," "Dear John" and, today, "The Lucky One." 

I didn't really like any of them. (And the fact that I've seen 5 of 7 Nicholas Sparks movies kind of makes me want to cry, then re-evaluate my life choices because I obviously went wrong somewhere.)

Oh, there are bits I like - the 40s feel of the love story in "The Notebook," Zac Efron in "The Lucky One" (specifically his muscles!) and so on - but, in general, the movies kind of make me want to hurl into the nearest popcorn bucket.

It's not even that I don't like romance, because I actually kind of do. I cheerfully sat through three hours of "Titanic" a few weekends ago and loved it! I even teared up. Two of my all-time favorite movies are "Casablanca" and "Gone with the Wind." I even get gooshy at the romantic parts of a lot of non-romance movies. The "I love you"-"I know" exchange in "Star Wars"? When Wesley says, "As you wish" in "The Princess Bride"? My heart melts every time.

So why not Nicholas Sparks movies? Oh, there are several reasons:
  • Too much soft-focus. I saw "The Lucky One" today, and every other scene was some soft-focus, slow-motion scene of the main lovebirds frolicking in the woods or rowing a boat or something equally as idyllic. One or two scenes of that in a movie is OK. But Nicholas Sparks movies could be 45 minutes long, tops, if they cut them out. Plus, they function as a lazy way to show the couple falling in love, rather than showing them actually, you know, falling in love while doing anything remotely interesting, like fixing the Millennium Falcon or hanging around in Paris during World War II while your Czech resistance-leading husband was killed escaping from a Nazi concentration camp.
  • Too melodramatic. There is a constant specter of death hanging over all of the movies, posed to strike when it will make the audience weep the hardest. I find that totally gross. I don't have a problem with characters dying, but it feels so contrived. Take "Nights in Rodanthe" for example. They fall in love, and then he's tragically killed in a mudslide while helping poor children or something. (I can't remember the exact details.) "The Notebook" bugs me too, with the frame story of the old guy telling the lady with Alzheimer's their story and then, of course, dying at the end. I mean, COME ON! You can't get more melodramatic than that. (I realize that I will get blasted by some smarty-pants for liking "Titanic," then, but at least it made sense that Jack died in "Titanic" - HE WAS ON THE FREAKIN' TITANIC!)
  • Things are far too perfect. Aside from the fact that people die all the time, everything else is perfect. People live in idyllic small towns, in big beautiful historic houses, next to perfectly clean and clear bodies of water where they can frolic. There are conflicts, but everything wraps up totally neatly - either they get together, or somebody nobly dies and can be remembered as a perfect martyr of love forever. Contrast that with arguably the two best romances of all time - "Casablanca" and "Gone With the Wind." Do they end perfectly? Spoiler alert: Hell no they don't! And that's part of what makes them great. Scarlett ends up at Tara, a shadow of its former glory, with Rhett having walked out of her life just as she realized she really loved him all the time. Ilsa leave Rick in Casablanca. There's war and other lovers (real or imagined) and real conflict, and in the end, things don't work out. It's messy and open-ended, just like real life! In Sparks books, it's all neat little packages, tied up with a bow. It's not only horribly unrealistic, but once you're in on the secret, it makes the movies really boring to watch.
I realize that Nicholas Sparks movies are well-loved, and I can't say that I don't understand why. I know it represents a perfect fantasy life, and it's not much different than enjoying a fairy tale with a happy ending. They're fine for what they are - romance schlock - and I'm glad that people get joy out of watching them. I tend to dislike them, but I'll go see schlocky action crap any day of the week, so who am I to judge? But for me, I want so much more out of a romantic story, and Sparks movies just don't do it for me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Midweek Mancandy: Zac Efron (and his biceps)

"The Lucky One" comes out on Friday and the Pop Tarts are not excited about it at all, since it's based on a Nicholas Sparks book and movies based on Sparks' books almost universally suck. However, they are both going to end up seeing it. Jen because she is a movie reviewer and Kel because her friend wants to go and she loves trashy movies.

However, both are excited to see Zac Efron and his excellent biceps!

Efron became known for his role in "High School Musical," in which he was sooooo adorable! However, he also played a young Simon Tam on "Firefly." How cool is that? After "High School Musical," he started appearing in a variety of movies, doing his best work as a goofy romantic lead in movies like "Hairspray" and "17 Again," as well as two "High School Musical" sequels.

In addition to his biceps, there are other things that make Efron hotter...he practices safe sex (dropped a condom on the red carpet at the Lorax premiere) and can unsnap a bra with one hand (and looks so pleased with himself when he does it).

Here is to Zac Efron, our Midweek Mancandy, and his hot arms and talented hands!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dancing with the Stars: Latin Night, Surprisingly Boring

 Jen could not blog tonight because her tv signal went out. So you are stuck with me, Kel, for all your ballroom snark tonight.

Tonight is Latin Night, but sadly with only one Chmerkovskiy as Val and Sherri went home last week. Tragique! However, Santana is in the ballroom tonight, which really kind of makes everything better!

Kym & Jaleel, Samba
Dance: This just in...Jaleel White is built. However, I think he had the same problem that I did in getting distracted by Kym's outfit of fringe and he lost his steps. He also seems to lack some energy. I'm also concerned about his lack of real hip movement. Kym's choreo was really fantastic, though. In conclusion, the dance was meh, but he looked hot. Also, pretty sure Mekhi Phifer is in the audience!

Judges: Len thought he was rhythm and hip movement. He liked his bum. Bruno liked his bum wiggle. Which, fair enough, but that doesn't mean he had hip movement. Carrie Ann thought he had attack and fire, but his arm occasionally goes dead.
Carrie Ann: 8, Len: 8, Bruno: 8, Kelly: they were slightly over scored

Maks & Melissa, Salsa
Dance: Maks is in hot pink open shirt. Melissa still looks awkward when she dances. But I'm not going to lie...I mostly watched Maks. He is looking especially hot tonight. I think it is the white pants and open shirt. I think Melissa tried really hard and knew her stuff. She seems to be getting better every week. She just needs more confidence in herself.

Judges: Bruno thinks she went maximum energy, but she wasn't really precise. Carrie Ann thinks that Melissa has gained a lot of confidence, which is great. However, she is not controlled due to how big her steps are. Len thought it had great rhythm and feel, but some parts were rough.
Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 7, Bruno: 7, Kelly: they were probably scored about right

Derek & Maria, Salsa
Dance: Brook has a showgirl headdress. I want one, kthanks! Oh, she took it off. Bummer. Her Salsa has no snap. She is doing the steps correctly and all the sexy stuff is sexy. DEREK SHIRTLESS! This just seems to have no energy by Maria. Derek's choreography is really intricate, but it just wasn't performed with enough oomph!

Judges: Carrie Ann thought it was hot, but didn't like the kiss. Len thought Derek's body and Maria's talent were revealed on the floor. Bruno is just horny.
Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 9, Bruno: 9, Kelly: they were way over scored

Mark & Katherine, Argentine Tango
Dance: Katherine's feet aren't always great. She doesn't quite point or flex correctly all the time. But her flicks have nice snap. And I have to say, I love the choreography. Mark created a really interesting story and did some really nice tricks. I'm not sure I believed her intensity all the way through, but the dancing was fairly on point. I'm concerned that the general public won't quite get the subtlety of the dance, but I really enjoyed it.

Judges: Len thought the dance was a rose, it had beauty, but had something menacing under the surface. Bruno said the dancing and choreography were perfection. Carrie Ann thought that Katherine's legs are the best ever (I agree!).
Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 9, Bruno: 10, Kelly: perhaps slightly over scored by a point, but based on the other scores, it is well deserved

Karina & Gavin, Samba
Dance: Gavin is always a bit flingy with his arms. But damn does the boy try really hard and put his everything into the dance. And he looks like he is having the time of his life. I have trouble complaining about his (lack of) technique when he makes me smile the entire time he is dancing. He really reminds me of a lot of guys that I used to dance with in college which just really makes me happy.

Judges: Bruno thought it was something between barmy and delirious, but he liked it. Carrie Ann thinks that Gavin just goes for it, but was lacking form. He agreed that it was a bit of a struggle. Len thought it was a "shamba" (which made Gavin laugh), but it was a gallant effort. My two cents: I like that Gavin knew that his technique wasn't going to great so he just decided to go for it and have fun and not worry. I respect that and would rather watch that then a perfectly executed boring dance.
Carrie Ann: 6, Len: 6, Bruno: 7, Kelly: probably appropriately scored, but come on. Vote for him!

We now interrupt this program to squee over Louis Van Amstel dancing on my tv screen to Santana. Nothing tonight has made me as happy as this.

Cheryl & William, Argentine Tango
Dance: Cheryl's choreography was fantastic. And she looked absolutely amazing. This was the most that I've liked William. He really was there for Cheryl the entire time. I can't really find any fault in his dancing because I don't know Argentine Tango and can't comment on the technique. But as far as showcasing the woman, that happened well. William did a good job, but I still find him bland and dull and could not pick him out of a line up.

Judges: Carrie Ann called him James Bond, Len say passion, Bruno got horny again.
Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 9, Bruno: 10, Kelly: Argentine Tango is owning tonight

**Dule Hill is in the audience!!!!!

Tristan & Gladys, Samba
Dance: No I will not comment on Gladys's technique because fuck you, she is above technique critique. She shook her ass and shimmied and had the most fun of anyone in the ballroom. I would watch her and Gavin dance over William any day of the week.

Judges: Len thinks that she is easy on the eyes and the number was simple but effective. Bruno thought she played to her audience and was magic. Carrie Ann thinks that she commanded the stage.
Carrie Ann: 7, Len: 7, Bruno: 8, Kelly: there is no score high enough for them

Chelsie & Roshon, Salsa
Dance: He isn't as smooth as he needs to be. His feet look like he doesn't quite know what he is doing. And his kicks need way more point to them. However, I like his energy. He is the first person to have the appropriate energy for his dance. And I just like a contestant who tries really hard and puts it all out there. He also has great musicality.

Judges: Bruno thought he was right on the beat and had lots of energy. Carrie Ann thought he had his own mojo and was appropriately sexy and was on the beat. Len likes his enthusiasm but he needs to calm himself down occasionally.
Carrie Ann: 9, Len: 8, Bruno: 9, Kelly: a touch over scored, but I like his enthusiasm

Peta & Donald, Argentine Tango
Dance: This is the perfect dance for Donald because he gets to be intense and strong and hot. And he has the strength to throw Peta around and make it look like nothing. That was really great choreography. And I'm just going to say is unfair to have some people dance Argentine Tango and some not because the Argentine Tango has so much more of a story and tricks that it is better than the other dances.

Judges: Carrie Ann thought there was a lot of technique and it was great. Len thought the lifts were great but the rest of it was just ok. Bruno loved the build up was fantastic, but it didn't flow all the way.
Carrie Ann: 10, Len: 8, Bruno: 9, Kelly: those are good scores but Donald being upset with those scores makes me want to score him lower. Don't be a douche, dude.

This show isn't nearly as fun to blog without Jenny. Hopefully she will be back next week for more snark. And as far as a prediction for who will be bottom two...I have no clue. I voted for Gavin and I hope you did, too. Gavin and/or Gladys. I think it is probably time for William to go home because he is boring.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fun Facts: Cartoons and Classical Music

Yesterday marked the day that Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville recorded himself singing Au Clair de la Lune on a phonautogram in 1860. This is the earliest known recording of a human voice and the earliest known recording of music.

Camille Saint-Saens ripped the first few notes of Au Clair de la Lune for The Fossils part of The Carnival of the Animals.

Saint-Saens was worried that The Carnival of the Animals was likely to harm his reputation as a serious composer because it was too frivolous and would only allow one movement, Le Cygne (The Swan), to be published while he was alive.

Saint-Saens allowed for its publication after his death. The first performance was February 26, 1922, 2 months after his death.

Chuck Jones directed an abridged version of The Carnival of the Animals, featuring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, which featured 10 of the 14 movements.

The first incarnation of Bugs Bunny was "Happy Rabbit", who appeared in Porky's Hare Hunt in 1938. The first cartoon to feature Bugs as we know him now was in 1940 in A Wild Hare, which also featured Elmer Fudd in one of his first cartoons.

Elmer Fudd is commonly accepted as evolving from the character Egghead, who starred in Daffy Duck & Egghead, which was Daffy Duck's second cartoon appearance after Porky's Duck Hunt. Daffy Duck & Egghead is essentially just Porky's Duck Hunt with Egghead instead of Porky.

Daffy and Porky starred in numerous parodies including Robin Hood Daffy (Robin Hood), The Great Piggy Bank Robbery (Dick Tracy), and Duck Dodgers in the 24th & 1/2 century (Buck Rogers).

Arguably the best cartoon ever created (definitely Daffy's best) is Duck Amuck. It was voted second best behind What's Opera, Doc, but I find that ruling questionable.

What's Opera, Doc features music from Richard Wagner's operas, most notably the Ride of the Valkyries, the beginning of Act III of Die Valkure.

One of Wagner's earliest champions in France was Camielle Saint-Saens, who taught his pieces during his tenure at the Ecole Niedermeyer.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dancing With the Stars Recap: Rock and/or Roll

Tonight on "Dancing With the D-list," it was Rock Week, otherwise known as the week that Jimi Hendrix rolls in his grave when a football player dances the Paso Doble shirtless to one of his songs.

Jimi Hendrix' rolling aside, it was an exciting night, especially because we totally didn't mis-hear last week. KISS is there tonight! That is awesome. Kel also loved the troupe dancing, with the boys are in sparkly tight bodysuits. That does not leave much the imagination.

On to the dances ...

Val & Sherri Shepherd, Tango to "C'mon Feel the Noise" by Quiet Riot.
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: See! See! Ballroom instructors are hands on and place/push their partner into place. So can we now not spazz out when Maks does it. Kay? Also, Val really is hot. He should always dance shirtless.
Dance: Though Val in only a leather vest is hot, too. Sherri also looks hot. I want that outfit. Sherri's technique is not great. She needs to arch back way more. One of the easiest things to do right in tango when technique isn't your strong point is the form. She looks a bit ploddy. However, the intensity in her face was great. And can I say, I got very distracted by her boots, his lack of shirt, her cleavage, his ass, etc.
Jen's Thoughts: First of all, let's just put it out there. Val's chest. Yum. OK, anyway. Sherri has been riding on her bubbly personality so far, but this week she amped up the sex appeal. I loved her outfit, her intensity and her hip action. She also is improving at the actual dancing, which is a huge plus!
Judges' Thoughts: The judges liked her attitude, though Carrie Ann missed her exuberance. Overall, they thought she did well but needed to be a bit sharper with her steps.
Score: Three 7s, for a total of 21.

Mark & Katherine Jenkins, Paso Doble to "Time is Running Out" by Muse
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: She looks terrified to be tough. Luckily Mark takes her fighting! She is adorable. Not really what you are going for in Paso.
Dance: She seems to not be totally sure of her moves. She keeps fumbling her connections with Mark. She has the intensity in her face, but her dancing seems very surface level. Mark looked great in that dance, though.
Jen's Thoughts: I like it when she goes into the strong, fighty moves, but she does seem a little timid at times. It was really fun to see her go outside of her normal comfort zone, but her dance wasn't terribly memorable overall.
Judges' Thoughts: They agreed that the intensity was there, but it really threw off her footing. She was, in Bruno's words, a "whirlwind of fury" but it wasn't as clean as it should have been.
Score: Three 8s, for a total of 24.

Kym & Jaleel White, Tango to "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: Does he really not know who Mick Jagger is? I'm going to assume that he is joking. They are fun together in rehearsal. And I love how jazzed Kym is about it being rock week.
Dance: He had pretty decent footwork and Kym's choreography was good. But overall I felt no energy off of that tango. Maybe it was the band's fault? I'm not sure. It just did nothing for me. I think it may be that it was an awfully happy tango with no real intensity. Jaleel's death drop was fun, though.
Jen's Thoughts: I like his strut, but overall it's a weird feel for the tango. Part of it is just that he's trying to be too smooth. This sort of rock isn't really that smooth. I feel like there wasn't a lot of tension or heat in this tango, and that's what tango needs.
Judges' Thoughts: Carrie Ann loved it, because she is an idiot. Len and Bruno, however, thought that it was too smooth and didn't have enough drive.
Score: An 8 from Carrie Ann and 7s from Len & Bruno, for a total of 22.

Maks & Melissa Gilbert, Paso Double to "Conquest" by the White Stripes
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: Maks's hair is a bouffant! Maks wants Melissa to get mad. I feel like working with Maks, it would be easy to channel anger into the dance. Please don't step on Maks's jewels.
Dance: So far, this is the most traditional paso, both in music and outfitting. Melissa really pulls off this look. And is really nailing her dance. She still has moments of awkwardness, but this dance really worked for her. There was intensity and passion and her swivels were sick. My favorite dance so far tonight. And by far her best dance. Not sure how Maks fell there. He really recovered it well.
Jen's Thoughts: I was glad that they did a paso that actually had that traditional matador-bull feel, since that's what the dance is about. I think that Melissa actually did channel some anger and passion into the dance, because it was her best dance so far. She still looked liked she's being put through her paces and, occasionally, hanging on for dear life, but part of it is that she looks a little slow next to the super precise Maks. Also, let's just say that Maks looks good in an open shirt!
Judges' Thoughts: They loved the flavor and confidence and generally agreed it was Melissa's best dance. However, they mentioned that there was a problem with the end of the dance (Maks apparently slipped), and that Melissa still looks like she can't keep up with Maks.
Score: Surprisingly, an 8 from Len and 7s from Carrie Ann and Bruno, for a total of 22.

Peta & Donald, Paso Double to "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: Holy crap his arms are hot! And so is his chest. Donald in Peta's sweater is my favorite thing I've ever seen. That is amazing.
Dance: He needs a bit more snap in certain parts of the dance. However, he performed the shit out of that dance. And he looked ridiculously strong and hot and I sorta forgot to watch the technique. Peta did a great job showing off his strength. He really nailed it.
Jen's Take: Love the intensity! Love the strength! Love the shirtless football player! Seriously, though, it was a very intense, strong dance, which obviously works for big strong football players (duh, Brookbot). There was a lot of snap and intensity to most of his moves, and I just absolutely LOVED watching this dance!
Judges' Thoughts: Carrie Ann jizzed in her pants, I'm pretty sure. Also, apparently dropped acid before the dance, because she called it psychedelic. Bruno called it "muscular, masculine, magnificent!" And Len said it was his best dance so far.
Score: Three 9s for a total of 27.

Tristan & Gladys Knight, Tango to "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: Gladys said she was going to be a "real slut". Gladys is in the rock n' roll hall of fame. She gives great sound bite. And you can tell that Tristan is totally in love with her.
Dance: I would critique Gladys, but I think that any dance problems were caused by the shit singers. Her outfit was hot and the choreography was amazing. Also, her hair is spiky and sparkly! Holy shit I love her so so much. Also, Tristan has chest hair and looks hot with eyeliner. I'm just going to keep loving on Gladys because I can, so there. 
Jen's Thoughts: First of all, the judges and Tom Bergeron's faces at the beginning like Queen? Genius. OK, anyway ... Gladys tries hard and has fun, but her feet were a hot mess. I thought they did a great job choreographing, and I thought she could feel the rock part of the song better, but it wasn't that great as far as a dance goes. Still, I am like Kel - I love Gladys anyway!
Judges' Thoughts: They liked her ambition and her coping skills, but they agreed her feet weren't great. Still, Bruno said she's a class act, and that's all you really need to know.
Score: A pair of 7s from the Spazzy Twins and a 6 from Len for a total of 20.

Cheryl & William Levy, Jive to "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: Why do they get to do jive when everyone else had to do Tango and Paso!? I like the crazy heavy metal guys. They should be on the show!
Dance: He looks like such a dork doing jive! He has no turnout. And he is ploddy. And he messed up his cool trick. Which made him lose the performance. This dance went downhill fast. You can even see it in Cheryl's face. Apparently that is because her shoe fell off. But overall, William's dancing is lazy. 
Jen's Take: Blah. Even I can see that William is lazy with his feet. He just doesn't commit to the steps, He is getting by with his inexplicable popularity and generic hotness, and that's just not cool. He sucked it up tonight.
Judges' Take: At least the judges kind of called him out on it. Len, especially, sparking Kel to say, "I agree with Len's judging. You tell them, crabby old man." He said that there were timing issues and he didn't nail the dance. Bruno said he was getting complacent. Carrie Ann babbled for a while.
Score: A pair of 7s from Carrie Ann and Len, and an 8 from Bruno, for a total of 22. Kel says, "How did William get a higher score than Gladys? At least she knew her fucking steps!" Amen, sista!

Chelsie & Roshon Fegan, Viennese Waltz to "Time of My Life" by David Cook
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: Roshon doesn't seem like he would be suited to Vienese Waltz, which really is the hardest of the dances to learn. They are adorable! His pants are tighter than hers, though.
Dance: Dancing to a David Cook song = awesome. Dancing to this David Cook song = not so awesome. Viennese Waltz is supposed to be smooth and he is a bit bouncy on his basic steps. However, it did have a lot of traditional steps, which I really like. Just because you are using nontraditional music, or especially when you do, it is nice to have traditional dancing. He really faked the dance well, but the technique was not super.  
Jen's Thoughts: He's so adorable! Look at him in his little suit! Awwww! I want to pinch his cheeks. Sorry, I'm OK now ... he's just so adorable! I thought he danced well and had a nice feel. It wasn't thrilling but it was a very sweet little dance.
Judges' Thoughts: Bruno said he had great extensions, and Carrie Ann thought it was like the climax of a Disney movie. Len even humored Roshon by saying, "Good job, dawg!" They all thought it was elegant despite a couple of stumbles.
Score: 9s from the twins and an 8 from cranky old man, for a total of 26.

Derek & Maria Menounos, Tango to "School's Out" by Alice Cooper
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: Maria, I understand pushing through the pain on your broken foot, but you have to take care of yourself! You don't want to have to quit. Take care, girl!
Dance: Maria almost has great posture. She needs to lean her shoulders back more, not just arch her back. However, she is rocking her choreography, which is once again excellent choreography by Derek. I'm not sure I believed her intensity. It seemed a bit too happy for such an intense dance. However, Derek looked hot with his mohawk! 
Jen's Thoughts: Maria has great moves! I know it's a bit happy, but Alice Cooper is kind of silly, so I think it works. I thought it was a good, well-choreographed dance that was executed well and a LOT of fun!
Judges' Thoughts: They liked the aggression and chemistry, but thought she lacked control a little bit. Still, they were pretty happy with it.
Score: Same as Roshon's for a total of 26.

Karina & Gavin DeGraw, Tango to "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones
Kel's Thoughts: Rehearsal: He really should do well with the rock n' roll attitude since he is a rock singer. I'm concerned about the sexiness of Gavin. She really may tape his mouth shut at some point. They are fun together.
Dance: Gavin's eyeliner is the star of this show. Whoa boy, put your shoulders down. He definitely still has some technique issues, but he knows his steps and works probably harder than anyone else. And he had some nice attitude in his dancing. Karina's tango choreography was really interesting. Also, I'm fairly certain he is in a velvet and sparkly vest. Automatic win! 
Jen's Thoughts: Gavin really worked to be snappy and aggressive, and it mostly worked for me. You can really tell he's working hard and concentrating, which is good except that sometimes it makes his face look a little closed off and nervous. He's a little messy but, dammit, I love Gavin DeGraw!
Judges' Thoughts: They liked it! They really liked it! At least, they liked the flair, attitude, determination, intention and character. However, they critiqued his hold, posture and the fact that he doesn't tuck his bum in while he dances.
Total: 8s from Carrie Ann and Len, and a 7 from Bruno for a total of 23.

Final Thoughts:
We both really like several people, and not always the best dancers! There were some good dances tonight, but some of it was sort of weird. If it were up to us, we'd send William home in a heartbeat, but that may not happen. And we're both worried about our sentimental favorites, Gladys and Gavin, going home this week.

Fun Facts: Brazil Nut edition

Brazil Nut refers to both the Brazil Nut Tree and the edible seed that comes from said tree.

The Brazil Nut tree is from the same order of plants such as blueberries, cranberries, tea, and kiwi fruit.

Though attempts have been made to harvest Brazil Nuts from plantations, Brazil Nuts tend to only reproduce in the wilderness and thus it is not economically viable to try and farm them.

The actual nut of the Brazil Nut tree looks much like a coconut and can weigh up to 4.5 pounds.

Each nut contains 8-24 seeds, which is what is commonly called the Brazil nut.

If you eat a Brazil nut, you are actually eating a Brazil Nut seed that is from Bolivia, not Brazil.

Brazil nuts can be sexually transmitted. If a man eats a Brazil nut and than has sex with a woman who is allergic to them, she can have an allergic reaction.

Granular convection is sometimes called the Brazil nut effect, which is the phenomenon where in a mix of objects of various size, the largest of the items will end up on the top. It is called the Brazil nut effect because it is easiest to demonstrate in a nut mix because the Brazil nuts will always end up on top if the mix is vibrated.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Fun Facts: Easter Edition

The date of Easter was established by the First Council of Nicaea and is the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. Therefore, Easter can be anywhere from March 22 to April 25.

The First Council of Nicaea was a council of bishops called together by Emperor Constantine I in 325 AD. The point of the council was to get consensus on numerous issues such as the date of Easter, the validity of baptism by heretics and the Arian question.

The Arian question is the question of whether Jesus and God are actually one in being, or if they are one in divine purpose only meaning that God the Son (Jesus) is a subordinate to God the Father (God). Arius claimed the later and was deemed a heretic by the First Council of Nicaea, though he was later exonerated by the First Synod of Tyre, and again pronounced a heretic at the First Council of Constantinople.

Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 the Turkish government began to object to the use of "Constantinople" and required people use the Turkish name of Istanbul.

The song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" was recorded by The Four Lads in 1953, but is more well known by the They Might Be Giants cover, recorded in 1990.

They Might Be Giants wrote the song "Boss of Me", the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle. Other great bands who wrote theme songs include Bowling For Soup who wrote (and sing) the theme for Phineas and Ferb, Barenaked Ladies on The Big Bang Theory, and The Friendly Indians on Psych.

Pysch has had numerous remixes of their theme done to follow the theme of an episode including Boyz II Men performing an a cappella version and a version done by Curt Smith of Tears for Fears.

Tears for Fears reached their highest success with the song Mad World, which is probably most well known from the Michael Andrews and Gary Jules version from Donnie Darko, which I didn't known wasn't the original version until after Adam Lambert sang it on Idol (What? I was born 5 years after the original came out. Give me some slack). After being used to the Donnie Darko version, my friend Kat pointed out that the Tears for Fears version seems really rushed and makes her feel panicked. I concur.

Donnie Darko is a movie that I have numerous times, including with commentary, and I still don't get it. Time travel is involved? All I know is that there is one creepy bunny in it.

The most famous bunny (besides Bugs Bunny) is the Easter Bunny. The reason bunnies and eggs are associated with Easter is because both represent fertility and the Vernal Equinox symbolizes the fertility of the earth.

Hares became a symbol associated with the Virgin Mary because it was believed in ancient times that Hares were hermaphrodites and therefore could reproduce without the loss of virginity...just like Mary (there are so many things wrong with that idea that I'm not even going to go into it).

In Australia, instead of having an Easter Bunny, they have an Easter Bilby, which is a a marsupial that is described as a rabbit-eared bandicoot.

The idea of the Easter Bunny laying eggs came from the Pennsylvania Dutch telling their children about the Osterhase, who left good children gifts of colored eggs in their caps and bonnets. Santa Claus.

Monday, April 2, 2012

"Dancing With the Stars" Recap - Sob Story

It's Monday night, which means it's time for "Dancing With the So-Called Stars." 

Most importantly - Kel is back, which means that both Pop Tarts are blogging! 

Kel: Did you miss me last week? I'm sure you did. I watched the dances from last week, though not the judge's comments because they are cracked out anyway. I'm sad Martina is gone, but really, she was bad last week. This week is the "Everyone Is Going To Cry" week. Something about most important times in their life week. Or something. Also, holy shit! What is wrong with Brooke's dress?

Jen: Since it's "Everyone Is Going To Cry" week, it's also "The Judges Ridiculously Overinflate The Scores, I Mean, More Than Normal, No Really, You're Giving THAT A 10, You Idiot?" week. 

The Dances:

Anna and Not Robert Wagner, Samba 
Not Robert's most important year is 2011 because he met a daughter he didn't know he had at a concert.
Kel: Anna's outfit is my favorite thing ever. His technique is bad. When he is doing super slow sidesteps, he has decent hip work, but besides that, not good. He reminds me of that spazzy uncle at a wedding reception who thinks he is a better dancer than he is and really is just all gangly limbs and sloppy dancing.
Jen: First of all, there was some bad lighting on the far shots! It was a good dance but I just get a total dork vibe off him. He's too stiff for samba and danced it like a white guy. He did alright on the steps but I don't get the great vibe off him.
Judges: The judges thought Not Robert was very improved from last week, and that he was much more "on it" this week.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 8. Total: 24.

Derek and Maria Menounos, Rhumba
1988 is her most memorable year. Her parents were janitors at night clubs after immigrating. She and her siblings would go to work with their parents because they didn't have the money for a babysitter. Maria would pick up quarters and play Material Girl on the jukebox.
Kel: I don't really have any comments on that. It was super steamy (given the opportunity who wouldn't lay on the floor and kiss Derek Hough). I liked the look of the dance and she really looked like a pro. But I feel like it was a bit of a cheat in that there was very little ballroom dance in it. It was more lyrical Rhumba than true Rhumba. Which is theory is fine, but that makes it very hard to judge against an actual Rhumba.
Jen: It was a damn sexy dance! She had pretty decent footwork, and I liked the feel. There was even some delightful making out, definitely feel the passion between the two of them! Kel is right that it wasn't really a Rhumba, but damn, it was hot! Twitter just wanted to know, "OMG DID THEY KISS!?"
Judges: The judges all liked the sensuality of the dance. Kel liked that Carrie Ann used her favorite ballroom quote, "Dance is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire." Len praised it for the mix of ballroom and bedroom.
Score: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 9. Total: 27.

Tristan and Gladys Knight, Foxtrot
1957 is her most memorable year because it was her first tour with the Pips and when she met all the best musicians at the time. I bet she has amazing stories about amazing people.
Kel: I love that Tristan sticks out his tongue! Did I mention that before? I really do because I have that habit, too.! She looks very elegant. And he looks gentle. Foxtrot is never a big fan favorite, but I personally love it a lot. That was very well danced and had the perfect Foxtrot feel. And she looked so happy!
Jen: She has such a regal presence, but is just so cute and wonderful! It's not the hardest dance by far, and it's not super exciting, but she danced a very solid foxtrot with good footwork. Also, she's a legend.
Judges: They loved her grace and presence on the dance floor. Carrie Ann said she needs to work on her frame, but in general the judges loved her flow and grace.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 8. Total: 24.

Chelsie and Roshon Fegan, Samba
1996 is his most memorable year because that is the first time he saw Michael Jackson on stage. We're not old, but this kid makes us feel old. He got to rehearse with MJ's choreographer. Awesome!
Kel: So much sparkle! He is a little flingy with his arms and his legs are still a bit gangly and sloppy, but you can't fault a kid was being that excited to be dancing. That kid is a pure performer. He is not the best technical dancer, but I like to watch him. How fun.
Jen: I love Lacey's sparkly outfit and the general sparkly 70s vibe of this dance! Roshon is a very good dancer, with really good moves! They just look like they're having a lot of fun, even though Roshon gets a little wild at times. I would watch him dance any day.
Judges: Len and Carrie Ann wanted to see a more traditional samba, which, as Kel says, "fair enough. But Derek's bedroom Rhumba was fine? Favoritism? Maybe a bit?" Bruno said Michael Jackson would have loved it. 
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 9. Total: 25.

Karina and Gavin DeGraw, Rhumba
He and his family went to a Billy Joel concert which made him want to be a musician in 1998, which his family encouraged him to do. His dad got him gigs by going door to door. I love his dad! How sweet. However, Gavin, the hats? What are you hiding? OMG no hat!!!!!! (He's hiding nothing.)
Kel: Would that be considered a lift? I can't tell if his hips are good because he is blending into the background. He did exactly what a guy is supposed to do in a Rhumba, which is be strong and showcase the girl. Mmmmm steamy! Oh and finally getting to see his hips...they were nice. His arms were also good. I'll tell you why I like Gavin and why I think most people will also like Gavin. He dances like a normal dude. He isn't super polished or perfect and it doesn't come naturally to him. But he is trying really really hard.
Jen: His Rhumba had more of a beat than Maria's. It was not quite as sexy, but still pretty sexy because, hello, Gavin DeGraw! He's adorable! He feels the music, I can tell. Plus, at the end of the dance, he put his face in Karina's boobs and then looked up with a big giant ornery grin. Hilarious!
Judges: They dug the hip action, the sexiness and the fact that he's improving all the time. Carrie Ann's heart is going fluttery for him.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 8. Total: 24.

Mark and Katherine Jenkins, Waltz
1996 is her most memorable year because she found out that her dad had lung cancer. Why can't people have happy memorable years?
Kel: This singer isn't bad, but I'd rather hear Josh Groban. This isn't a fucking waltz! Waltz = 3/4 time. This is 4/4. Therefore I don't care how lovely her dancing is and how much she looks like a pro. Not waltz. Disqualified! Suck it! I refuse to pay any more attention to her tonight.
Jen: It's not a waltz! It was a well-executed dance, but not super moving. AND IT'S NOT A FREAKING WALTZ!
Judges: They were practically jizzing in their pants over the dance. I CALL SHENANIGANS! Thank goodness Len at least mentioned that Mark didn't choreograph enough waltz. BECAUSE HE DIDN'T CHOREOGRAPH ANY WALTZ!
Scores: Carrie Ann, 10; Len, 9; Bruno, 10. Total: 29.

Val and Sherri Shepherd, Rhumba
Her son being born way early is her most memorable year. Again with the sad, but now happy!
Kel: Oh adorable. He is like a safer version Maks. Her son is so cute! It is weird to dance a rhumba for your kid. Because Rhumba is the sensual sex dance. I may have been distracted by Val and Sherri's dress during most of that. She acts the dances out really well and her arms and hands look great. But she feet are a bit meh. Can we discuss how strong Val is. Hot. Sorry, yeah. Her dance. Technique is not her thing, but whatever.
Jen: Sherri is telling a story, ladies and gentlemen!! Her dancing is quite good, and she has more control than last week. She's feeling it! It's not as sensual as a Rhumba often is, but she danced an emotional dance.
Judges: They thought she did really well, but didn't really elaborate much. Carrie Ann did praise how she let her emotions out.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 8. Total: 24.

Maks and Melissa Gilbert, Jive
2010 is her most memorable year because she broke her back and had to walk with a walker. So kinda a happy memorable because she is better. She's dancing to "Dog Days Are Over" by Florence+The Machine.
Kel: Maks has his shirt open. Mmmmmm...Val is Maks lite...Val had one button done to be less threatening. Her legs have no snap to them. And she looks like she is just hanging on for dear life dancing with Maks. However, this is the first week that she looks excited and happy to be dancing. Also...Maks looked so hot during that dance.
Jen: Maks' shirt is open, which makes every dance better!! The beginning part of the dance is great, with lots of lifts, but when they sped up, they had a tear with the band (which is the band's fault). However, even when they got back on the same tempo, Melissa was still pretty sloppy, especially on the fast footwork. She got better as the dance went on but, for me, she just doesn't have much of a personality.
Judges: They liked that she seemed happy and not terribly nervous for the first time all season. They were mixed on the fast part, but liked the beginning part.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 8; Len, 8; Bruno, 8. Total: 24.

Kym and Jaleel White, Rhumba
Bringing the Stefan, as that is his most memorable year - when Steve Urkle went hot and smooth. Ahh, we remember it well (we were HUGE "Family Matters" fans when we were kids).
Kel: Are we always going to put him in white? Because he looks good in it. He steps very flat footed instead of on the balls of his feet. However, he looks smooth and is acting the hell out of the dance. He looks strong and manly and hot. That ending pose is hot! Mad mad props to Kym for choreographing that and mad props to Jaleel for that swagger. He was lush.
Jen: He's so sexy! It wasn't a super tough dance, though, and he's a bit ploddy on his feet at a few points to boot. He did a good job on dips and stuff and had some great moves later in the dance. Overall, it was pretty good and sexy (or lush, as Kel says).
Judges: Len said the performance was "competent," but said he needs to use his arms as well as his hips. Carrie Ann and Bruno said very little helpful.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 8; Bruno, 8. Total: 25.

Cheryl and William Levy, Salsa
1995 is his most memorable year because that is the year that he came from Cuba to the U.S. A happy memory!
Kel: Cheryl's outfit is better than Anna's. He has really good club salsa style. Very relaxed and sexy. The open shirt doesn't hurt. He needs to work on turn out and being lighter on his feet. He steps kind of flat footed some times. Also, I will say...the man is hot. But I find him generically hot and do not see the insane reaction from everyone else in the world. What am I missing? Seriously. If you find him hot, please tell me what I am missing.
Jen: OK, he does look good shirtless. And he has GREAT hips. However, he also dances with ploddy steps! Overall, they're depending too much on his dynamite hips and general sex appeal to get him through from week to week, and since I, too, do not find him terribly sexy beyond the general "Oooh, look at his chest muscles!" I'm left a little flat each week. However, I do have to say it's the best I've seen him.
Judges: Peed themselves in excitement. Jen did like Len's quote, "You put a whole new meaning to Free Willy!" but he was talking about him breaking out and conquering salsa and not a wardrobe malfunction, which is where Jen's dirty mind went. They were all dazzled by his abs, so Kel was apparently the only person looking at his feet.
Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 9; Bruno, 10. Total: 28.

Peta and Donald Driver, Rhumba
His most memorable year is 2010 when his best friend died from cancer. Again with the sad.
Kel: His pants should be tighter because he has a nice ass. I could also use more hip action overall. And OMG point your toes and turn your feet out. Not a lot of real dance in there I think. I think I just get crabby by the end of two hours. It was fine. He looked fine. He's hot. He gives good chest.
Jen: It was not super sexy, but it good emotional dance, just like sherri. Donald was precise when he danced, but there was not as much passion as I like in my Rhumba. It was good overall, but not great.
Judges: More piddling in their chairs. Len went so far as to call him "awesome," which is not a word Len, a cranky old British man, uses very often. Kel is pissy that "it is the like the judges are refusing to judge because there is emotion. Emotion doesn't trump technique. You need both. Blah."
Scores: Carrie Ann, 9; Len, 8; Bruno, 9. Total: 26.

Overall ...
Tonight was a night with a lot of emotion, which can be a good thing because it makes the dances interesting to watch. However, this causes a lot of problems in the judging, because they overinflate their scores even more. As an audience member, the emotion is probably more important than the technique. But as a judge, the technique should matter. That is why you are a judge. You are the expert and should act like it. Harumph!

Books in Pop Culture

The past few weeks (past month? I don't know. I've lost all track of time) have seen a couple big pop culturey book things happen. And I am finally getting around to writing about them!

First, 50 Shades of Grey. It is an erotica novel that went main stream. And everyone has an opinion about it! And so do I! The whole Grey conversation seems to be centered around two main issues: Erotica vs. Porn and being embarrassed by what you are reading.

Let's first handle the whole porn issue. I keep seeing the phrase "mommy porn" being used to describe Grey. What the fuck is mommy porn? Actually, that is besides the point as I do not really care what sort of porn anyone is into. However, the use of the word porn in this situation seems problematic. I think we need some definitions before we start discussing this further.

Romance Novels: Romance focuses on the story and the seduction of two people. Not all romance novels have sex scenes. Or if they do, if you take the sex out, the story still works as a tale of two people and how they fall in love.
Erotica: It is all about the sex. But not necessarily the act of "having sex", but the emotion behind it. The feelings involved.
Porn: All about the act of sex. Meant for no other reason than to turn you on.

Now that we are on the same page, 50 Shades of Grey is erotica. I haven't read it, but from what I've seen about it, it is a BDSM story that started as Twilight fan fiction. There is apparently a lot about the ideas of submission and pain and why the woman likes it. Or something. Again, haven't read it. However, it isn't porn. There is something behind the sex. There is discussion of why something turns someone on. And how this relationship functions. If it were porn, it would just be sex with no thought as to the why or the fallout after. So, can we stop calling this mommy porn? Or porn of any kind. It is erotica and a book and really not that big of a deal.

This now brings me to my favorite part of the discussion...there has been lots of discussion about people reading this on eReaders because that way they are not embarrassed by people knowing they are reading erotica. Now, I realize that not everyone is like me and doesn't give a crap what other people think. However, people, stop caring what other people think! I mean, seriously. Why is it a bad thing to enjoy a sexy book? Let's go with some gender stereotyping for a moment: a guy watches porn and no one really has a problem with it; a woman reads erotica and it is a shameful secret that should be hidden. Is this a gender thing? Why can't a woman shamelessly read a book that turns her on? As I've said, I haven't read Grey, nor do I ever plan on reading it. I think it is really funny that it started as Twilight fanfic and I think that adding BDSM to Bella/Edward actually makes their love story less creepy (gives Bella some power). However, that really isn't my thing and the story sounds a bit blah for my tastes. However, if I did read it, I would read it proudly. If I were on a plane, I would read a paperback version, just like I read any other book.

So to recap...Erotica does not equal Porn. And don't be embarrassed to read Erotica.

Making a giant 180, let's talk about YA books! Namely, adults reading YA.

I'm not sure if you heard, but The Hunger Games movie just game out. It is a small movie based on an unknown YA book series. Not sure if you've heard of it, but everyone has read the books. And seen the movie. Probably twice. This has sparked the discussion that is had about every other month or so...Adults reading YA books. Joel Stein, a columnist for Time, wrote a little opinion piece entitled "Adults Should Read Adult Books". To which I say, I agree, there is nothing wrong with reading Erotica. Oh? He was using adult as the age range and not as "Adult Entertainment". My mistake. I must have sex on the brain after hearing so much about 50 Shades of Grey. Anyway. Stein seems to think it is super embarrassing for adults to read books aimed at a younger market. He admits to never having read any YA, so he is talking out of his ass. It was pointed out that the whole article is a classic Troll, but let's take him seriously, shall we.

If you are an adult (let's assume you are whether you act like it or not) and you do not want to read a YA book, don't read YA books. There is no reason to read something you aren't interested in when there are so many books out there that might interest you. Not reading YA = totally fine. If you don't want to read a YA book, you should not, however, call everyone who does choose to read YA an idiot. It is just bad manners. I don't personally read a lot of YA books. Sure, I've read Hunger Games and all the Meg Cabot books and Harry Potter and Twilight and a few others, but I like my books to contain bad language and sex and a lot of adults frown on that in books for teens (though there are a few exceptions like Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist...lots of swearing and heavy petting. Yay!). However, that doesn't mean that other people shouldn't read YA or that YA is bad. I've actually found that YA books can be just as profound and well written as adult books. Sure, there is some tripe (Twilight), but there is badly written adult fiction, too.

Stein also sights that YA isn't good because it doesn't give you the opportunity to learn. Two arguments. One: pretty sure YA can teach just as much as any adult book can. Perhaps a different lesson, but learning is learning. Two: why the fuck do I have to learn something when I am reading? I read to relax and escape and enjoy myself. Hence the reading of romance novels and mysteries. Sure, I've learned things. Historical romances are particularly good at teaching you new words, like tupping, and helps you answer Jeopardy questions about laudanum. But why do we have to learn something when reading? Why can't I just read for fun? Oh wait, I can. Screw you!

Recap...You don't have to read YA if you don't want to, but there is nothing wrong with reading it even if you aren't in the market group. Also, don't tell other people not to read something just because you don't read it.

Are there any book issues that I have neglected? I think those were the main two. If you have opinions about either, I'd love to hear them in the comments. Or if I missed any, let me know. Or if you have other things you want to hear my opinion on, write that in the comments. I enjoy extolling my opinion!