In his thunder-stealing recap of last week's show, because its not like he didn't already know that I do this, Kevin (we are fighting - GO BACK INSIDE) covered most of the important points, except for one. The judges, especially Nigel, repeatedly and pointedly calling out Travis Wall's jazz routine for not being jazzy enough. Not only did every judge completely fail to comment on the quality of Ashley's actual performance because they were too busy bitching about the dance being too contemporary-y(?), but Nigel took time out again later in the show after a jazz routine choreographed by Tyce to say, "Thank you Tyce for giving us a real jazz routine" or some such knife-twisting nonsense. Cut to Travis sitting in the audience next to Tyce and mouthing a very lip-readable "God dammit."
Maybe Nigel should go a little easier on Travis next time, considering that, jazz hands or no jazz hands, he's the best choreographer working on the show right now not married to a tiny Asian woman (and Wade Robson has pretty much limited himself to group routines the past few seasons). Maybe Nigel is happy with the latest lame wuss-hop routine that NappyTab churns out, or whatever boring bullshit Tyce throws together in between eyebrow appointments, but Travis routines are among the few that have any chance of being memorable these days. Just sayin.
11. Christina Santana (last week: 10)
I know she technically went out second, but I'm retroactively correcting this injustice and putting her 11th. She should have gone out first. She was awful. Note to aspiring reality TV show contestants: maybe you can wait until the braces come off?
10. Alexie Agdeppa (last week: 11)
9. Adechike Torbert (last week: 9)
Even though the boys and girls aren't dancing with each other, the judges are still going to feel compelled to keep the penis-vagina count as even as possible. That means a penis is going home this week. And that penis is going to be attached to Adechike.
8. Jose Ruiz (last week: 7)
He stays ahead of Adechike because, if that sad excuse for a Bollywood routine didn't put him in the bottom three, I see no reason to expect that he'll be going home anytime soon. But that performance might have been a low point for the show that didn't involve Russian Folk dancing.
7. Melinda Sullivan (last week: 8)
Watching her stare at the judges, all facade, dead behind the eyes, while they implored her to try to connect with the audience, it occurred to me: I don't think she has a soul. And even so, I had to put her ahead of Jose.
I must call bullshit on the description of her dance with Ade as well, in which she was dressed up like the Chiquita Banana lady and called "Mother Earth", and he was put in a tank top and called "Mankind". That dance was about the destruction of Earth, but don't pretend that (incredibly dark-skinned) Ade was supposed to be Mankind. He was the oil spill. That was the BP dance.
6. Robert Roldan (last week: 3)
No idea what Robert was doing in the bottom three, but it does not bode well for his chances on the show.
5. Billy Bell (last week: 5)
I actually thought Billy did pretty well with his krumping, despite the judges calling him out for lack of gangster-ness, or warrior-ness, or whatever bullshit they were rolling out with while trying to channel their inner Lil C (and I'd like to think that there is a little Lil C in all of us, wouldn't you?) But I'm still waiting for him to give us a performance worth caring about.
4. Lauren Froderman (last week: 6)
The new hip-hop choreographer (who's name I forget, and am too lazy to look up, sorry) gave her some good moves to work with, and she had great chemistry with her partner Dominic. Really enjoyed that performance. Now let's break this promising couple up for no good reason! Whee season 7!!
3. Alex Wong (last week: 1)
Blame in on Tyce's horrible choreography if you want (why waste Alex's physicality on a small, internalized Broadway routine?) but Alex bombed harder this week than Robert Lewis (look it up, bitch) . A bump in the road, or is his weakness as a performer finally catching up with him? Stay tuned.
2. Ashley Galvan (last week: 4)
There wasn't lots of discussion of her performance on the show because the judges were too busy ripping into Travis' choreography, and that was a real disservice to Ashley. She was great in a physically demanding piece.
1. Kent Boyd (last week: 2)
Like it or not, but Kent is an unstoppable freight train of naive redneck adorableness. Who is sometimes asked to dance in a gimp harness for some reason.
Ladies, listen up: there is something wrong with you.
And I don't mean that in the typical, tired, "men and women sure are different!" stand-up comedian way of saying it. I mean it in the way that a computer programmer would mean it. You have a bug in your programming that can be exploited by hackers to steal your identity, or turn your machine into a zombie. You have all been exploited. And that hacker's name is Stephanie Meyers.
I don't know how else to explain what has happened to the Suze. The Suze has previously shown signs of being compromised, but The Hills is mere adware compared to the identity theft that has taken place regarding the Twilight Saga. I do not understand what is happening to her.
My hate for these movies goes beyond the mere fact that I am not a 13-year-old girl. I find Kristin Stewart repulsive, and her acting is so bad that not only can I not enjoy it on an ironic level, I find myself compelled to leave the room while she tries to remember her lines. And when I'm not repelled, I'm bored. Is the fact that nothing happens in these movies some sort of meta-commentary on abstinence? Like, just like Edward and Bella must abstain from sex, the movie must abstain from entertaining the audience? These are the things that I ponder while the Suze is watching Twilight on HBO for the 7th time.
Here is an actual e-mail exchange between us.
Me: Eclipse is at 46% on the tomatometer. Compared to new moon (27%) and twilight (50%). Ebert gives it two stars, and at one point asks why Edward and Jacob don't just give in already and go brokeback.
What? No! Not awesome! Boring! And this is coming from somebody who not only records "This Old House" but also "Ask This Old House". I fucking KNOW from boring, okay?
And I haven't even MENTIONED the gender politics of these goddamned movies. Bella, the ineffectual heroine, who must constantly be protected by two supernatural beings, but cannot give in to her sexual desires or else she'll be either torn apart or turned into an undead monster. Also she can't remember her lines.
Do not try to defend yourselves, ladies. There would be no point. Your security has been compromised. You are all Twilight zombies.
Since I just can't quit commenting on this show, let's take a glance backwards in uninformed, lightning fast fashion, ignoring the ones too dull to be worth remembering. Also let's face it, the all stars are consistently outdancing the contestants to the point it's not even worth the effort to type out each time, so use your imagination!
Because apparently they can't scrape up enough filler, we'll now be watching extended scenes of each dancer pulling their partner out of a hat, possibly every week. It's only purpose is to make me sad that Twitch got left out, then to realize that the male all stars will be tragically underused, since most of the female contestants are going to be out fast.
Adechike comes back from his incredibly uncomfortable first week performance with a quite decent routine, even if it is set to the horrific "Listen to Your Heart". OH GOD I'M HEARING IT AGAIN NOW WHY DID I THINK ABOUT IT.
Alex had a technically proficient but dull routine that was supposedly inspired by Bob Fosse. Amusingly, he flubs Cat's softball about which routines he watched: "...uh, a bunch of them on YouTube". He should've asked Sarah Palin how well that works as an answer.
It feels almost mean to even comment on Billy Bell. At least he gave it something that looks like effort for the first time this season.
Melinda is worth mentioning solely because of Nigel's utterly incomprehensible ramblings about Canada and Mother Nature. Perhaps he and Lil C switched brains backstage.
Jose was not good at Bollywood, but he looked like he was having fun and it was infectious. That should buy him a couple weeks.
Also having fun? Lauren. Unfortunately it was a routine about domestic abuse.
Poor Kent must have stepped on a costumer's toes backstage or something, that S&M outfit was just unpleasant. He gives a solid effort, and when the judges aren't being too obnoxious about him he's actually growing on me. Nigel apparently does NOT want the all stars to say anything as he gives Courtney a severe death glare when she speaks up.
Bottom Three? Melinda and Cristina again, with a wild card third. Adechike probably avoided the axe, but it could easily be him or Jose. At some point the judges are going to have to start sending guys home just to keep some kind of parity so expect some bitching about that from me when it happens.
Mom, if you want to make any money with your Etsy store, enough with the goddamn beads already. You need to get on board with the latest handmade trend. This is a human centipede:
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) is a 2010 horror film written and directed by Tom Six. It stars Dieter Laser, Ashley C. Williams, Ashlynn Yennie, and
Akihiro Kitamura. The film tells the story of a German doctor who
kidnaps three tourists and joins them surgically, mouth to anus, forming a
human centipede. Having completed the operation, the doctor begins training the
centipede, while attempting to hide his actions from the attention of
the outside world. [Emphasis, and vomit, mine].
Instead of voting off one of the dancers this week, can we vote off the director instead?
Competent direction of dancing should be the easiest thing in the world. Here's what you do: you point a goddamn camera at the dancing and let us watch. Instead, the new director for the show this year is all swoops and cuts and closeups and weird angles that do everything except highlight the dancing. Is the director paid by the cut? And maybe next time you do rehearsals you should have some people in the audience so you could realize that the way you've blocked out the low angles, the audience members heads are in the way. It looks like an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Also lost are the seemingly telepathic use of replay. One of the remarkable things about the show in years past was the ability to splice together little clips from the dance, so that when the judges say something about that incredible lift, or footwork, or whatever, right on cue a clip of the relevant dance section would replay. Not this year. Instead, there is an almost tangible feeling of emptiness every time the director fails to have any clips from the dance we watched on cue. I hope they got this shit straightened out for this week. On to the rankings.
First off the show is cute little Alexie, who I thought was sexy and fun during her hip-hop routine with Twitch. But, like I said last week, there's probably a reason she tried out for the show half a dozen times without making it before this year, and I was right. Besides, at this point in the year, as long as one of the top 3 or 4 dancers doesn't get voted out, I don't get too worked up: she wasn't winning anyway.
Cristina moves up by virtue of not getting voted off. I've seen her dance three times. Once it was a contemporary piece with Mark (who remains freaky awesome), and twice it was in her own style. The contemporary performance was best: probably because it didn't demand too much movement from her lazy, lazy feet. She should be gone this week.
Speaking of Mark, and the other All-Stars, sister Rose asks: does anyone else feel bad for the All-Stars after the dance is done, and they have to do the awkward walk of shame off stage while the actual competitor gets critiqued? That's the best they could come up with?
She also asks: if they wanted to do an All-Star season, why not just do a season with 20 All-Stars competing for an All-Star prize, instead of mixing them in with the new competitors? Who wouldn't want to watch that instead of this?
Adechike was asked to pretend, for three minutes, that he thought All-Star Kathryn was sexually attractive. And he couldn't do it. I mean, dude, I know you are gay, but is anybody THAT gay? I'm not saying I'd leave the Suze for a chance to be with Kathryn...
All performance, no dancing. The voting public saw right through her. I have her this high based on talent (CHRISTINA MOVE YOUR FEET YOU LAZY BITCH), but I would not be surprised to see her out the door next.
This is definitely a case of falling up, as I was not impressed with Jose, dancing in his own style. Which reminds me: I am tired of the judges pointing out that this wasn't technically his own style, because he's a b-boy, not a hip-hop dancer. Let's stop slicing the onion quite so thin, shall we? It's not like you were asking him to do fucking ballet.
Ugh. Lauren. What happened? Not everything is a cheer routine, honey. And the petulant back and forth with the judges, where they call you out for your petulance, and then you petulantly try to explain that you aren't being petulant, its not doing you any favors either.
I'm not even sure you could call him a dark horse at this point. I'd call him adorable again, but I've been informed that if I do then Kent and I will officially be gay married, so let's just say that... fuck it! He's adorable! I LOVE YOU KENT!
He's all shtick, except he isn't self-aware enough to actually be doing shtick. It's just his genuine personality, and I can't get enough.
Nigel said he was head and shoulders above the other contestants, and he was correct.
Actually, Nigel was eerily correct last week, predicting not only Alex's dominance, but also the LA Lakers Game 7 victory AND the demotion of the English soccer team's goalie. He also learned how to pronounce Wapakaneta, probably after hours of intensive speech therapy.
I proposed the following business concept to the Suze. She used to work at a local publication in Albany called The Jewish World. It is exactly what it sounds like, a newspaper covering the news and events important the Jewish community of New York's Capital Region. So I said, hey, there's a pretty large Jewish community here in Houston. You should start a local Jewish paper here, except to give it a more local, cowboy flair, you shouldn't call it the Jewish World. You could call it the Jewish Roundup.
When Howard Stern flew the terrestrial radio coop for satellite, it left a gaping, 4-hour hole in the morning programming of hundreds of radio stations around the country. In LA, the hole was filled by Adam Carolla, the former host of flash-in-the-pan MTV hit (and radio show) Loveline*. Ultimately, Stern's shoes proved too big to fill, and his show was canceled after three years. Now, after a year of tinkering with the podcast format, Carolla has reconstituted the cast and crew of his LA show in an internet-only forum.
The Adam Carolla Show is produced each evening, and is available the next morning for download. It is a direct pirate assault on the morning drive-time talk show, complete with news segments, guests, and yes, advertisers. But like the morning radio show, it is also completely free.
Regardless of the quality of the product, the concept itself is audacious, and, as far as I know, one-of-a-kind. There is no podcast-only product like it; a well-produced, well-staffed, long-format, radio quality production with no radio outlet. Yes, This American Life produces a long format radio show that it sends out as a podcast, but it has the backing of a radio station and is also broadcast over the radio. Yes, Planet Money produces a high-quality, enjoyable radio show, but they produce less content in a week than Carolla does in a day.
And like Stern before him, Carolla has used the opportunity to unshackle himself from the FCC to great effect. Only unlike Stern, he doesn't have a $100 million dollar safety net under him. For all the great content we can get from the internet these days, people still struggle with ways to make it work as a viable revenue stream. Carolla has thrown himself out there, and I think it will be fascinating to see if he can succeed.
*As always, his participation in "The Man Show" is to be forgiven and ignored.
With the auditions over and the Top 10 11 set to go, we can finally start talking about So You Think You Can Dance Season 7, an object lesson in the theory of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Can we even begin to count the ways in which the producer's fiddling, induced by panic after last fall's Season Six catastrophe, have messed with the show we all grew to love after initially just tolerating it because our wife will watch anything with dance in the title? Yes we can!
#1: The All-Stars. This seemed like a good idea, but the problem was immediately revealed during last Thurday's (admittedly spectacular) "Get To Know The Top 11" performance episode, when poor Cristina Santana was practically danced off the stage by the superior ballroom skills of All-Star Anya Garnis. Even in a show where everyone was dancing in their own style and the judging would presumably be light, Nigel couldn't help but call Cristina out for her "lazy feet". I had already figured that being paired with an All-Star dancing in their own style is going to highlight the deficiencies of the dancers when they are outside of their own style, but now its going to highlight the deficiencies of the dancers even inside their own style.
#2: The Top Eleven. Reducing the pool from 20 down to 10 means that many talented dancers weren't given the chance to perform on the show, and thus we were denied the chance of enjoying them dance. While I understand that the judges don't want to reduce the show to "So You Think You Can Be A Contemporary Dancer", a top 20 would have prevented the greatest injustice in the history of mankind: Anthony Burrell, he of the sprained hamstring and red leotarded package, was passed over in favor of Jose "Token Breaker" Ruiz, Kent "I Went To Columbus Once" Boyd, and Billy "Totally Phoned It In In Vegas" Bell.
#3: The judge visits. Did everyone else find the whole "judges visit the contestants in their homes to give them the news" conceit to be horrible? For a show that purports to be about finding professional dancers, it didn't seem like a very professional way to end a job interview. Plus there was Nigel's insufferable visit to Kent Boyd's house, with his obnoxious yellow phallus of a car, pretending that he couldn't pronounce the completely pronouncable "Wapakaneta", and then making the whole family wait for the news while he takes a dump.
UGH. Got that out of my system. Okay, onto the power rankings. Here's how it works: The bottom ranking is the person I most expect to be voted out, the top person is the current favorite to win the show, and everybody else is somewhere in between. Got it? Good!
Adechike is a talented dancer who ended up dancing for his life in Vegas after opening the week with an ill-advised tap routine. Really, ill-advised. His tap routine was ill-advised like Stephany Flores going on a date with Joran van der Sloot was a miscalculation. What, you figured you'd be okay because he didn't have access to his friend's boat in Peru? Well, you figured wrong.
In a normal season with 20 performers, he might have had time to grow as a performer and endear himself to audiences like Legacy did last season, or even hip-hop winners Joshua and Russell. However, there isn't any time for that, and instead Jose will be eliminated after ballroom catches up with him.
Alexie was rewarded with a spot in the top ten after trying out for the show 300 times, which is impressive since this is only the seventh year. Might I point out, however, that there might be a reason she wasn't picked the first 299 times?
She somehow made it into the top ten as a tapper after last year's tap-astrophe. I won't deny she has a certain star quality on stage, and she's also really pretty, which helps, but I don't think it is enough.
If you want to know why there's a top 11, this is it: Alex Wong, Kent Boyd, and Jose Ruiz had their spots sewn up in the top 5 boys (Jose as the token b-boy, Kent and Alex for reasons we will get to in a minute). That left Adechike, Robert, and Billy. The judges decided to put Adechike in the top 5 for, and I'm just guessing here, a little racial diversity (if a token black was really necessary, I personally would have selected Anthony), which left one spot for Robert and Billy. Billy was the incumbent after having to leave last year's top 20 with an unspecified illness (probably AIDS). But Billy totally phoned in Vegas Week, and any merit-based argument would favor Robert. But if Robert displaced Billy, the fans would hate him, and he would have just been voted out. So they expanded to 11 and brought Billy back so that Robert wouldn't just get thrown out immediately by a pitchfork-wielding mob of Billy Bell fans.
Alex would have already been on the show two years ago if he had been let out of his contract with the Miami City Ballet. But he wasn't, because HE WAS TOO AWESOME. My only concern is this: there is a tradition on this show of the best dancer coming in second every year. Jakob (Season 6), Brandon (Season 5), Twitch (Season 4), and Danny (Season 3) were, in my opinion, all more deserving than the actual winner of that season. So look out, Alex: Kent Boyd and his pinchable cheeks may be coming for you.
I couldn't take it anymore. I needed the chocolate donettes. I broke down, and bought the powdered donettes that were in the way. I paid for horrible, inedible white powdered donettes, and then I threw them in the garbage.
You win, vending machine. You win.
(leans back in his chair, looks to the sky, and shakes his fists) DONETTES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You know who really grinds my gears? I mean, you know who really grinds the bejeezus out of my gears? I know I've said some shit grinds my gears before, but you know who is now grinding my gears like a Chinese woman driving a stick shift? The goddamned diabolical genius who stocks the vending machine on the 3rd floor of my building.
It has got to be the worst vending machine on earth. Instead of Mrs. Fields cookies, it has those awful, chalky cookies with the fake raspberry center. The only flavor of Pop Tarts is brown sugar, which is the Tea Party candidate of Pop Tart flavors: only crazy people and retards want brown sugar. Half the machine is filled with gum. Gum! Hey, its 3 in the afternoon and I'm hungry, you know what would be great right now? ANYTHING BUT A PACK OF FUCKING GUM WHICH MAKES YOU SICK IF YOU ACTUALLY EAT IT.
But none of this should matter, because the machine as chocolate frosted donettes. Ooh, chocolate frosted donettes, how I love you. You are the best. You are the Yankees. You are Taco Cabana. You are Battlestar Galactica seasons 1-3.
So none of the other garbage in the World's Worst Vending Machine(TM) should matter, but it does, because the diabolical genius who stocks the machine did not give the chocolate frosted donettes their own slot. No, what he did is intersperse the chocolate frosted donettes with the white powder donettes. White powder donettes are the Red Sox. They are Taco Bell. They are Battlestar Galactica season 4.
I can leave my office, walk down two flights of stairs (because the exercise makes it okay to eat a whole pack of donettes before I even get back to my desk, DUH), and go to the vending machine, only to find the slot is empty. And I'm okay with that. They are the only tasty thing in that vending machine, of COURSE they'd be gone. But what I'm not okay with, what I will NOT accept, is that I can go down there and find that the chocolate donette is trapped behind a white powder frosted donette, and that the only way to free it is to pay for donettes that I do not want.
I will not pay for the white powder to get to the one I want. I refuse. I WILL NOT BE MANIPULATED IN THIS WAY, VENDING MACHINE OPERATOR. So instead I must play chocolate frosted donette roulette every time.
In that article you were learn two exciting things. Thing #1: guess what Battlestar nerds? Fracking is an actual word! It is the process by which natural gas molecules are released from shale, to produce what's known as "shale gas" (where do they come up with this stuff?) Fracking is the injection of high pressure water and chemicals deep underground, where the pressure just rips the rock apart like the girl from "Precious" getting into a back of Doritos. (The cheese dust she gets all over her face? That's the shale gas.)
Doesn't that sound kind of crazy? Breaking rocks apart deep underground doesn't sound like a method of extracting natural gas, it sounds like Lex Luthor's plot from the first Superman movie. And even if it doesn't result in triggering the Andreas Fault, deep underground is where a large portion of the country gets their potable water from. Now we're injecting chemicals into it. Sorry, New York City's watershed!
It may sound crazy, but it's no crazier than building an enormous, complicated platform out in the middle of the ocean that is an airtight dome away from being a space station and drilling thousands of feet into the ocean floor under another thousand feet of water. Which brings us to thing #2 you'll learn when reading that Slate article: the "easy" fossil fuels are already gone. There's a reason that companies are willing to break open the earth to find gas, drill under the ocean to find oil, and go to the moon to find special moon hydrogen. Because, despite all the difficulties, it is still profitable.
Let's say you are Daniel Plainview, and you show up in Texas in the 1800s. You can't swing a pick axe without hitting oil, or a bowling pin without hitting Paul Dano. There's so much oil, that you can just drink it up with a straw, and it only costs, in today's dollars, $10/barrel to produce. So, if oil is selling for $30/barrel, you make money.
But you aren't Daniel Plainview. You are BP, and Daniel Plainview already got here, and he already drank your milkshake. Now you need to go out into the deep ocean to find oil, and it costs $60/barrel to produce. If oil was still only $30/barrel, you'd say, fuck it, I'm going to build some solar panels. But oil doesn't cost $30/barrel anymore, it costs $80. So you go out into that ocean and drill away and, oh, by the way, you are an irresponsible fuck up.
Why does oil cost $80/barrel? Because you, the consumer, are willing to pay for it. If you boycott oil, if you refuse to pay the $80, then the discussion about offshore drilling and ANWR and funding Saudi terrorists would be over, and instead we'd all be deciding which electric car dealership to get gay married in.
So point the finger at BP if it makes you feel better, but if you are being honest with yourself, you'll realize that as long as we were going to extremes to find energy, then something going extremely wrong was only a matter of time. And you are funding those extremes every time you fill up your tank.
What's the dorkiest thing one can do on a Friday night?
The answer is, of course, get Indian takeout, watch the finals of the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee, and blog about it on Obscurecraft.net. It's happening live, right now, on ABC, and I'll be updating this post as the evening goes on, for your liveblogging bemusement. Jesse may or may not be joining me at some point for a bit of old fashioned dorkiness.
My commentary starts after the jump... I'll be updating the page throughout the evening.
...so obviously I had to go another 6 miles by rented bicycle to get to the nearest Dunkin Donuts.
Too bad the coffee sucked. I knew it would, however, because this Dunkin' Donuts had three of the major warning signs of a low-quality DD experience. They are, as follows:
1) It was a new one. Specifically, a new one without an adjacent bakery. Back in the day, each Dunkin Donuts had its own bakery, and the pastries were made on-site. However, some time around 2000, they decided to move to centralized baking facilities, which allowed them to explode the number of franchises. This, however, came at a cost in terms of the quality of the product. I am not sure why the lack of on-site bakery affects the quality of the coffee, but it does, dammit.
2) I was served by a white person. Before the franchise explosion, every DD was owned by some manner of brown person: Indian, Pakistani, possibly Indonesian. Here, for your handy reference, is my official ranking of Dunkin' Donuts counter people:
#1: A 40-something brown man with a thick mustache, manning the store by himself at 4am (because a real DD is 24 hours)
#2: His wife by arranged marriage and his three daughters manning the morning shift
#3: Any white person (adult)
#4: Any white person (surly teenager)
This, by the way, covers the entire roster of all people I have ever seen working at a Dunkin' Donuts.
3) There was an attached Baskin Robbins. I don't understand why any person would ever go to the Baskin Robbins when there are delicious donuts available at the same store. If its hot out, just put a boston creme in the freezer and call it an ice cream cake. You are welcome, tastebuds.
ALTERNATIVE THEORY: The coffee tasted the same as it always does, but after 2 years of living in Texas, I am now suffering from Stockholm Syndrome re: Starbucks. The hash browns, however, were still out of this world. They make me want to go on a killing spree just so I can have Dunkin Donuts hash browns as my last meal on death row.