Charlottes Web Blog







July 1, 2008

Happy First of July!

I have officially lost 36 pounds and damn I feel good! I think the biggest reason for the success of this diet is that I haven't killed myself or deprived myself. I have days where I will have a "sinful" snack or eat a couple of hundred calories more in a day than I'm "allowed" and I think that it's important to do that.

It's nice to wear sleeker clothes again, though if (when!) I lose more weight, I'll have to buy myself a whole new wardrobe. Incentive!

I recently packed up a huge bunch of clothes that are too big for me and dropped them off at one of those collection boxes for the women's shelters. Incentive!

I think it's also important to keep a journal of what you eat and do. Mine is in spreadsheet format where I list everything I eat and the calories consumed. If I stay within the "allowed" calorie range, I get a smiley face. Then those days I go to the gym, or do a lengthy workout at home, I have a different colored smiley face. And I get red marks on my bad days…

Only two more days of work this week and then three days of … getting myself ready to go on my trip. NOW… I'm getting excited!

Stay cool.



July 1, 2008

I was thoroughly looking forward to my workout tonight after work. It was a beautiful evening, a bit muggy but not terribly so. I got to the gym and got a spot to park right away. Good omen, right?

I get on the bike and start up and along comes … a kid … maybe all of 8 or 9 years old and hops on the bike next to me. This is now the third time going to the gym and finding children on the weight floor. The club provides a large room for children to hang out along with supervision that is … free. Needless to say, I was dismayed when I glanced over and saw that the kid had the bike set to the maximum level that would cause an ache in the most fit of adults. There was no adult with him that I could see monitoring him at all.

Last week, there was a boy about 9 or 10 ten years old with his father on the weight circuit. His father set him up on a machine, then walked away. The kid waited until his father wasn't looking, then changed the weight … to the maximum, which is like 220-240 pounds.

So, anyway, I start on the weight circuits and notice a boy, maybe 10 years old, if that, in the free exercise area playing with one of the large balls. He throws the ball, then runs and jumps on it, and rolls around until he falls to the floor. No adult seemed to be watching him either. I went to the glute machine, which borders the free exercise area. I'm working out and WHAM! the kid rolls off the ball and into me. To say that I wasn't happy is being tame. I was beyond anger. Not only could the kid have been hurt, but so could I. I didn't bother talking with anyone at the club; they're nothing but kids themselves, and quite likely the child belonged to a friend of theirs.

I will now be sure to have my cell phone at the ready, and snap pictures of the children on the weight floor. They are not allowed for liability reasons.

When I got home, then shot off a letter to Bally's corporate offices.

I go to the gym to enjoy a workout in a nice adult environment; not to go and babysit someone else's child or be concerned of getting injured because of children.

I turned on Wipeout last night and then picked up my book to read; it was far more interesting.

Finally, I Survived a Japanese Game Show came on. It was a very surprising night for many reasons!

First, we learn that something was up with Punxsutawney Ben. While Bilenda and Darcy were doing their elimination game. While everyone congratulated Bilenda, Ben had an odd look on his face and said he had to go to the bathroom. Donnell mentioned that he had gotten sick. Apparently very sick, as he ended up in the hospital. The next day, upon their awakening, the Green Monkeys learned that they lost their team member for the duration.

Mama-san made a Japanese style breakfast of shaved fish and soup. The shaved fish wasn't a fave and folks weren't sure how to get the soup out of a bowl with chopsticks. Justin had the right approach to the meal, "I'll try anything," while Cathy's attitude is the type that courts travel unhappiness. "You can take the girl out of Staten Island, but you can't take Staten Island out of the girl," she said.

With breakfast over it was back to the studio.

But!! To make up for the loss of the team member they had a surprise NEW member for them. In walks… Darcy. Andrew is none too happy, which made think, "WTF? WHY? She's not on YOUR team?" Darcy stuck up for herself and confronted him and told him that a GOOD team member doesn't talk smack about another. Good for her.

First game up is "The Human Claw." You know those arcade claw machine games? Yep. This was the humanized version. Since the Green Monkeys had five team members, and only needed four to play, they opted that Darcy should step out of this one, which seemed just fine to her! Then both teams had to select which member would be the human claw, and which member would operate one of the three levers (up/down, left/right and … I didn't get the third at all). Mary quite contrary slips in that Meaghan should be the claw, and suddenly everyone agrees, and it's decided, leaving Meaghan wide-eyed. Justin on the Yellow Penguin team is chosen; he is athletic and quick.

The Yellow Penguins go first, and they totally have their shit together. Justin plops the 10th HUGE stuffed panda into the slide as the buzzer goes off. Bob says it's official, "TEN!" Holding up his fingers in case we can lip-read Japanese or understand the English translator.

Meaghan is very worried now, and her team calms her down. At least they hope they did. They did not have their shit together. Meaghan gets one right away however, and things look good until … the next few times, she is simply not lifted high enough and doesn't have the strength to use the awkward claws to lift the pandas higher herself, and drops three in a row. Olga was quite vocal to Mary that she wasn't properly working her lever, with Donnell equally loud in his complaints of Meaghan; she kept losing her hold when the steam/smoke would burst out just as she reached the slide to dump the prize. "EW! ICKY!" I can just hear her say. In fact, I think in a flashback, she DID say exactly that. The Green Monkeys ended up with a grand total of … one panda. Meaghan broke down in tears.

The winners got to spend the day at a spa, enjoying massages and total pampering. First, they enjoyed the heated sand treatment, where you lay on your back on a towel, then they bury you (save for the head of course) under the heated sand. Mmmm. The most interesting thing they experienced were doctor fish! I've heard about these fish before and I would love to enjoy this treatment!

Doctor fish is the name given to two species of fish: Garra rufa and Cyprinion macrostomus. A type of small tropical fish, also nicknamed Chinchin Yu, kangal fish, nibble fish, doctorfishen, or simply doctor fish; in non-medical contexts, Garra rufa is called the reddish log sucker. The fish only consume the psoriasis affected and dead areas of the skin, leaving the healthy skin to grow.

Originally and more traditionally known from the spas found in Turkey, for their long-practiced use in the outdoor pools of some Turkish spas, where they feed on the skin of patients with psoriasis. The spas are not meant as a treatment option, only as a temporary cure for symptoms, and patients usually revisit the spas every few months. Some patients have experienced complete cure of psoriasis after repeated treatments, but due to the unpredictable nature of the disease, which is strongly influenced by endogenous factors, this may simply be regression towards the mean. However, doctor fish spa resorts opened in 2006 in Hakone, Japan, and in Umag, Croatia, where the fish are used to clean the bathers at the spa. There are also spas in resorts in China, such as Hainan, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia.

Garra rufa occurs in the river basins of the Northern and Central Middle East, mainly in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. It is legally protected from commercial exploitation in Turkey due to concerns of overharvesting for export. Garra rufa can be kept in an aquarium at home; while not strictly a "beginner's fish", it is quite hardy. For treatment of skin diseases, aquarium specimens are not well suited as the skin-feeding behavior fully manifests only under conditions where the food supply is somewhat scarce and unpredictable.

So, Andrew, Cathy, Bilenda and Justin furtively slip their feet into the water. Everyone is amazed how they particularly take to the very vain Cathy. "She must have really nasty feet," someone suggests.

Meanwhile, the Green Monkeys were required to work in a Pachinko Parlor. Pachinko, often described as 'Japanese Pinball', is a game in which the player buys a large quantity of silver balls and feeds them into a sort of vertical pinball machine where the balls cascade around, their paths determined by small metal pins. If any of the balls land in a small hole in the center, the player wins more balls, which he can feed back into the machine or exchange for prizes. The smoke-filled Pachinko Parlors resemble casinos found here in the U.S., with one minor (and frustrating) addition: those within the parlor must endure listening to a cacaphonic soundtrack played at ear-splitting levels.

Each member was assigned a task; Donnell had to clean Pachinko balls and Meaghan was a drink server … that is until she got busted stopping in her duties to play a bit of Pachinko herself. She was quickly reassigned to clean Pachinko balls alongside Donnell, a task which included gathering the tiny balls that fall onto the floor.

Back at the studio, the Yellow Penguins, relaxed and beaming; Andrew remarked how he hoped the Green Monkeys tore each other up deciding who would play the elimination game.

Andrew got his wish. Mary and Meaghan thought the two loudest should be pitted against each other; Donnell and Olga. So, Donnell and Olga decided that they should get Darcy's support to have Mary and Meaghan face off. Then Mary and equally contrary Meaghan cornered Darnell; they didn't want to lose the only man on their team, definitely Olga should square off with Darcy whom they didn't really like or want. Olga caught wind of it, and told him that he'd be sorry to back them, rather than her; she thought he was a friend.

"This is a competition," Donnell says later, voicing his dismay of whether or not to vote with the M&Ms, or with Olga. He has a chat with Darcy, who, is right along there with Olga and considers him a backstabber for even considering voting with the two airheads.

Darnell does, however, go against friendship with the reasoning that Olga was a shoe-in to win; Darcy couldn't cut it on the first show, and he was certain she'd go down easy. Olga and Darcy hug each other fiercely. It was time for them to suit up and play…

EXTRA! EXTRA! CRAZY WIND HITS CRAZY AMERICANS! In this contest, each contestant has to deliver as many packages as possible to two differently-shaped mail slots in the allotted time while fighting against a powerful wind fan and lots of flying debris tossed at them by her opponent.

First up is Olga. Okay, she was walking pretty weird with her feet turned completely out (think, first and second position in ballet). I guess she thought that gave her leverage. She did pretty good, but Darcy was fierce with her attacks of the toys; she was not going to make it easy on Olga. Olga ended up with a total of 5. Not bad!

Now it was Darcy's turn and she was — fierce! She was smart, too, and stuck more to the sides, so she didn't get hit so hard with the wind or the toys that Olga threw down. Olga was not as fierce with the toys as Darcy had been. Darcy, however, on her return to grab a new package would always fall; thusly erupting much laughter from Andrew and the Japanese audience. "She's going dowwwwwwwwwwwwwn!" Andrew chanted.

In the end, Darcy just sneaked in package number 6 and Bob confirmed that she got it in just in time. Darcy was the winner and Olga was carried off to be sent home. Donnell wasn't happy. "Oh great. Darcy. She hates me and now I'm stuck with her." Hm. Should have thought of that before Donnell ol' boy; Olga's predictions about the M&M's will also come to haunt him, I'm quite certain.

This week is nearly over. Just tomorrow and then three days off, then only two days of work next week. Hallelujah!




July 3, 2008

FINALLY! It's Friday. Or rather, Thursday. But as far as work goes — it's a Friday.

Of course, I don't get to go home early. Those that work for the large corporation that our tiny office is kindof-sortof a part of get to leave at 3:00 today. Not me. Why? Because I'm going on vacation next week, so the theory is that I then don't deserve to leave early today.

I could understand if I were buried in work. But I'm not.

So You Think You Can Dance was a mix of ho-hum and extraordinary performances. I think I know who will be packing up and heading home this week.

Last night, the remaining seven couples had to tackle two dance routines; the judges being Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, naturally, along with guest judges Napoleon and Tabitha "NapTab" D'Umo. Cat was dressed — and coiffed — in such a way, it was hard to decipher if she were trying to look like an American woman in the 1920s or danced in wooden shoes in Holland in the same time era. Weird hairdo. Sorry. The dress was cool in a faux-tuxedo-ish sorta way.

For me, this year has been a somewhat downer and I realized why. There's been no Dominic, no Sara; no appealing underdog who's shown real, true improvement and growth week to week. All the dancers have either remained at the same level they started at or have faltered slightly (greatly) since Vegas.

On to the performances…

Jessica and Will danced a lively jive with tons of high-stepping and included a "waterfall" flip. While NapTab thought the routine great, ballroom expert Mary had plenty of wrong things to point out, as did Nigel. Their second number, a lyrical-jazz routine was by far the better of the two performances. Jessica didn't fair well in the judgement call after the second number either; she was accused of bringing the great will down. I have to agree. We learn the duo (or just Jessica) suffered a few meltdowns during the week, though with the crunched time allotments, we weren't given any insight on those.

Comfort and Thayne first took on a West Side Story Broadway routine that proved to be just okay. I'm with Nigel and his comment: "When you take on West Side Story on a show with this much serious competition, the passion and angst better be first-rate and Broadway ready, and it was just good enough for a regional road show." Yeah… The second routine was a lovely waltz that Comfort nailed with style and elegance. She just might be this season's underdog story. Thayne disappointed me and it seems that losing Chelsea has knocked the wind from his gut or something. I'm picking him as the one to leave tonight.

Kourtni and Matt first took on hip-hop routine which proved as if there were any reason to doubt that these two are totally white-folk and not made for hip-hop. Or rather, Kourtni is just too white. Matt, I thought, got down and dirty, though it didn't play as cool or collected on screen, especially toward the end. The second routine was a mambo, a dance to get down and dirty, but Matt held his goofy super-smile throughout and it totally took from the theme of the dance. Kourtni's hips just couldn't shake'em either, again proving she is very limited in her ability to expand into other styles. The judges felt the same way; neither dancer won any praise from the judges. Nigel's right that these two really should have delivered considering that other dancers in other seasons have had less training than these two while taking on a demanding style outside their comfort zone, and they've aced it. My guess is that it's Kourtni's time to bid adieu, though I think Matt runs a close tie with Thayne for the guys.

Chelsie and Mark were just amazing. Again. NapTab totally zeroed in on their best strength when they praised the couple's ability to always tell a story with their dancing. Their first number was a nice jazz number from choreography Mandy Moore that was flirty and fun. The second routine was a lovely fox-trot that despite the feather in the mouth, Chelsie danced on uninhibited or distracted. Nigel didn't mention that he held them in his top 3 or 4 couples of the ones to beat, but maybe had they been placed into Mia Michaels' golden hands.

I went to Mia's website by the way and loved it. Anyway, there are times when Mia has an off night, but this week wasn't one of them; both her routines were phenomenol and engrossingly beautiful. Nigel made a subtle point that it's not exactly possible to critique the dancing technically since Mia's routines are much more about commitment than pointy toes and correct carriage.

Kherington and Twitch first routine was a corny dorky paso doble, which happens to be one of my favorite dances. Unfortunately, they didn't perform it well. The routine with the capes was painfully awkward, there was no real passion shown by either dance. Twitch appeared to shuffle from one move to the next, while Kherington wore a dorky faux-mean look that would scare a person only because it was so … dorky. Okay, her face was one similar to a person who just caught whiff of a gastric explosion… The second routine, thanks to Mia Michaels, will be their saving grace this week. A bedroom duet to John Mayer's "Dreaming With a Broken Heart," a firey bounce (literally) upon a bed amongs petals of flowers, Kherington with mussy hair and ending with Twich collapsed on the bed, shirtless, breathless, yummy, tempting… I have to applaud the judges however; they stopped heaping praise on these two and gave them the constructive criticism they deserved and quite frankly, needed.

Joshua and Katee's first routine was another Mia Michaels brilliance in motion, and that assisted run had me gasping for breath with eyes riveted. It was simply… breathtaking. Their second routine was totally the opposite. A West Coast Swing routine that was anything but. I think it was the choreography that set these two dancers to lacking considerable (okay, and those obnoxiously hot pink costumes). The performance was definitely off, yet the judges said nothing to that effect. It seemed suspicious the judges were rather lenient toward this couple; a consipiracy perhaps?

Wait. That"s a line from Top Chef

Courtney and Gev first did a hip-hop routine with Courtney shaming Gev. She literally took control of this number, which given that Gev is a B-boy, that was surprising. On the other hand, Gev was far more credible in their On the Town Broadway number than Courtney, a number she should have shined in. All in all, however, despite being the last performers to dance, they were quickly forgotten. This leaves them as a possibility to be in the bottom three tonight.

My high school 35th (EGADS!!) Reunion will be in mid-October this year; I'm waiting to spring the trip on Tony and see if he's interested in going at all. It'll be fun, seeing everyone really old and gray and trying to figure out who I'll recognize and those I won't — and vice versa.

Tomorrow, I plan a quiet day of not doing a damn thing. We'll cook up burgers on our indoor grill and turn on the air conditioner, turn up the TV and probably watch a movie or two, and console poor JD who gets quite nervous at the sounds of fireworks. If it's not raining, we may venture out to hang out on the palisade overlooking the Hudson into New Jersey and catch a fireworks show that way. Or not.

Saturday will be a busy morning for me. First up is my workout at the gym, before I head off to the store and make last minute purchases of things I'll need for my trip. Such as batteries for the MP3 player and cameras. Sunday, I'll do my laundry and set aside those clothes I plan to take with me.

Yes, folks. I'm an early packer… What can I say.

Happy Independence Day! Enjoy the barbecues, the beach, the get-togethers — and stay safe.



July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

I hadn't intended to write today, but I decided to add some thoughts to last night's eliminations from So You Think You Can Dance.

It was a night, really, of no surprises, and the outcome inevitable.

I'm truthfully making a guess that Tyce Diorio's "Money Money" Cabaret routine was great, because I really only caught glimpses of the performances during all the frenetic, abstract camera angles and cuts. Mary insisted it was a great showcase for Thayne. Hm. Maybe his teeth.

None of the bottom three couples were a shock, though truthfully, I think Twitch and Kherington were the only one's who weren't shocked that they were safe.

The bottom three were, naturally, Thayne and Comfort, Gev and Courtney and Matt and Kourtni.

Courtney and Gev delightful bundles of dance of energy during their solos, and Cat Deeley looked genuinely furious with Gev for racing into a near-miss flip not three feet from where she was standing. That WAS scary. It was easy to see the judges were going to be kind to them and keep them. Comfort and Thayne both looked pretty beaten down during their solos and they were high contenders of heading home. Kourtni, who really only comes alive during her solos, lost the plot about halfway through and resorted to pointing devil horns. Um. Okaaaaaaaaay. Matt proved again that he was high on the mark in technique, but lacks any emotional connection. Big circles around those last two names.

Next week, we'll surely say goodbye to Comfort and Thayne, making the Top Ten to be: Jessica, Kherington, Courtney, Gev, Chelsie, Twitch, Joshua, William, Katee, and Mark. That's exciting, because at that point in time, each dancer is on their own to shine, and America alone decides who is good enough.

Did anyone else think that montage of Tyce's catty commentary during the auditions to be rather unnerving? Like, the judges seem to think the show is about — THEM? *rolls eyes*


Robert Muraine, that freaky-incredible (white) popper that can mutate his body so gut-sickenly-fantastic was the guest dancer. If I were Robert Muraine, I would seriously think twice about returning for the finale for a dance-off with Phillip Chbeeb after Nigel not once, but twice, called him a coward for choosing to step away from the Vegas auditions rather than fall flat on his face tackling choreography that he obviously knew that he couldn't handle! Personally, though, I'd love to see the two battle in dance, but I would understand if it didn't happen.

OneRepublic performed while the judges deliberated, not a song that is my favorite but I quite like the group itself. Did you know that Ed Burns of "Saving Private Ryan" is a member?

Then the judges returned to give Gev and Courtney their reprieve before informing Kourtni and Matt that they had reached the end of the road. As I said, inevitable.

All right. Now it's back to relaxing before tomorrow arrives. Then it's off to the gym and then afterwards, to the store to purchase things to keep Tony fed while I'm gone and things I'll need to keep me from going insane, like batteries for my MP3 player… Later, I'll be firing up the indoor grill for burgers. Yum. It's as close to real barbecue I can get where I live.




July 9, 2008

VACATION has arrived! WOOT!!

I didn't think it would EVER get here! But then, time snuck up far too fast, and unfortunately with some problems that have nagged me.

At first, I thought I got bit by a spider or something, by the way the red area looked on my leg. Now, a few days later, it's still sore and a lump still beneath the skin, and I'm worried that it could be phlebitis. So, that's what I get to deal with when I return from Portland. Yay. I just hope it doesn't interfere with my time away. That would just suck.

I chatted with a friend last night during Wipeout though finished the conversation right before the final contest. Have you noticed, each week, the contestants take longer and longer to complete that obstacle course? I guess they decided the foam was a bad idea and that was absent from the first slide downhill, but to make up for it, they added a blast of steady cold water on the section where the contestants have to cross a VERY thin-lipped ledge and already slippery enough handgrips.

Then it was time for I Survived a Japanese Game Show. After spending the morning with Mama-san learning about real Japanese green tea (gritty, nasty) and how to properly hold a tea cup, it was off to the studios to participate in the team competition game.

"Pedal Fast or a Big Splash" was the game of the day. Two team members had to pedal stationary bicycles, which the fast they pedaled, the slower the conveyor belt above moved. The other two team members each took a turn riding a tricycle on said conveyor belt. Their goal was to reach the red zone and pedal for as long as they could. Any misfortune would send them backwards to their doom: a pool of ice (cubes and all) water.

Judge Bob being good natured and all, said the Yellow Penguins were first. Cathy was first at the trike, with Bilenda waiting off sides for her turn, while Justin and Andrew pedaled the stationary bikes. An obvious disadvantage already for the Green Monkeys who only have one fella. Cathy got to the red zone and then, in her effort to not bypass the red zone but stay within it, tripped up somehow and toppled over the handlebars. She couldn't untangle herself fast enough before she plunged into the cold. Bilenda then took her shot, doing much better than Cathy, but then she lost momentum, recovered it well, but eventually lost it again and to the ice water she went. Total official Bob time between the two: 38 seconds.

Now it was time for the Green Monkeys. Donnell and Mary worked the stationary bikes, though it was obvious Mary was out of shape; she wasn't pedaling fast or hardly at all most of the time. However, Meaghan got the trike first, and put herself into Zen space or something, because she looked amazingly calm and focused and did better than anyone else on the trikes thus far. But Mary, pooped out on the bicycle, and the treadmill speeded up, wisking Meaghan to a leisurely waterfall into the cold drink. Then Darcy took her turn on the trike. She did pretty good; that is, until her feet got tangled up on the pedals and she was history. Total official time for the two: 34 seconds.

The Yellow Penguins learned that for their reward for winning, they were going to go on a tour of the largest fish market in the world. The Green Monkeys? Well, they were going to be rice farmers for the day. Heh. They had NO idea what was in store for them…

Already the Green Monkeys started talking about the elimination round while everyone was sitting at the house, and Meaghan waltzed out in nothing but a towel, dripping wet and announced, "I'll volunteer for the elimination round. But on the condition that I get immunity from any others." Donnell nodded, "I'm cool with that." Darcy, of course, was voted in without question. Though, in all honesty, it was Mary that was the weakest of the team in the last competition. Darcy quipped, "If I have to be in every elimination round and take the girls down one at a time, then I will!"

In reflection, prima donna Cathy surprisingly 'fessed up that Bilenda was the better player between the two of them and that Bilenda saved the day. And that, she nearly cried, for letting her team down. Nearly.

The Tsujiki Fish Market consists of "several" airplane hangars full of vendors, where we are told that 4 million pounds of fish are sold. Per day. That's $20 million worth of sushi, et al. Per day. Cathy made a rather astounding reflection: "There is SOOOOOOO much fish sold daily, you have to wonder if there's anything left in the ocean. I mean, like, the ocean is really big. But still." Yeah. Exactly. Bilenda is astounded that you could buy one tuna fish for the same price as a new car in the U.S. Andrew is loving the fresh samples of raw tuna they are given, and I admit, it did look delicious… At the end of their tour, the Yellow Penguins left with souvenir bags of goodies (I wonder what was in them? Fish?), and headed back to the studio.

Meanwhile, the Green Monkeys were brought cute little outfits to wear by Mama-san. Consisting of a robe and a scarf for the head, Donnell remarked that he felt like Jet-Li's illegimate son, while Darcy admitted liking the outfit because it was much roomier than others in the past. It was off to the rice paddies, which Darcy summed up as being, "a muddy… mudhole." Donnell sank a foot in the mud and got stuck. Literally. Darcy swore she'd never eat rice again. After a day of planting rice, they left, still muddied to return to the studio for the elimination round.

Once at the studio, Donnell decides the immunity thing just wasn't going to happen, and spoke up and said so. Meaghan gave him a heated blast of venom, calling him a backstabber. Yeah, well she didn't learn from Olga's lesson I suppose.

Darcy and Meaghan have to put on these jumpsuits with gloved in hands. Sticky suits, they were called. That's because they were about to play, "You Look Funny Stuck on the Wall." The two had to one at a time, jump on the trampoline and up onto a large velcro'd wall where a human outline (think, crime scene chalk drawings) awaited them. The object was to land within the chalk drawing. In the first round, Meaghan went first and landed spot-on perfect. Darcy landed a smidgen lower. This is where things get really iffy for me and I think the judge just didn't like Darcy and wanted her gone. Jump number two, Darcy went first, and for me, it appeared that she was perfect within the shape, and Meaghan really didn't make it; one of her feet was too low. However, the judge, again, found it in Meaghan's favor. The third jump, the drawing was slightly twisted, and everyone had a laugh at that. "That's the kind of crazy stuff I was waiting for," said Mary, back in her safe hollow in the room watching it all on the monitor. Meaghan went first, and as she landed, her right leg was WAY out of the drawing, and she looked down, saw it, and drug her leg over. Now, to me, that seems wrong that such was allowed. But, oh no, Bob said she landed perfect. Hm. Darcy was next and ended up too low. However, she didn't bother to try to move herself in position but remained as she was. Of course, it was time to say goodbye to Darcy, whom they left hanging long after they brought Meaghan down. "To further the humiliation," she quipped, but she was in good spirits, though you could tell, she felt she got cheated on, and so do I.

In the back room, Andrew was having a whooping good laugh at her expense. I have come to immensely dislike the man.

Today I'll be packing away and getting things organized. NOW, I'm getting really psyched about my trip.




July 10, 2008

Leaving, on a jet plane…

Today. In just a few hours now I'll be hopping a cab to the airport. I'm excited, not nervous. Flying has never frightened me.

What does have me worried is my leg, and this … thing. Tony thought maybe cellulitis. Regardless, when I get back and still have it, I have to see the doctor. *grumbles*

Last night's So You Think You Can Dance was a little disappointing in some ways. I think each couple had one great routine and one so-so routine. I'm still predicting Thayne and Comfort as leaving tonight, which I won't get to see unless I can catch it on a pod-cast or something.

Cat Deeley looked stunning; wardrobe got her right on the money. She was also pretty full of quirky anecdotes and one-liners that had me chuckling. Nigel seemed to be a bit overly randy last night (Viagra anyone?), Mary was pretty laid back than her normal self, and wow, Mia Michaels looked great in her cool black hat and outfit.

Mark and Chelsie were up first with an Alex 'Da Silva salsa routine. Gorgeous dress that adorned Chelsie and the two were hot, and I thought for a non-Latin dancer (as Chelsie is), he held his form fairly well, though Mary and Nigel found him a bit tight. Nigel made an off-flavor comment on the sexiness of Chelsie and dancing with her, and Mia compared Chelsie to a combination of Cyd Charisse and Bridget Bardot. The girl does have that quality of looks and figure. Mia then told her, she looked so good, she was going to stab her. Okay then…

Their second routine, a Tyce Diorio Smokey Joe's Cafe Broadway number, which was hot and sassy, with Chelsie strutting near naked and slapping Mark around. Nigel of course, threw in another off-color remark about him just returning from Vegas where it was 110 degrees, but that wasn't near as hot as it was on stage. "You've got legs!" Nigel pronounced. Mary loved it and the attitude Chelsie portrayed, though Mia wanted more movement out of Chelsie, then commented to Mark that his lack of training and technique really showed, but overall their routine was a success. Nigel commented about the dress as something that wouldn't be worn in the kitchen. Cat quipped she would, but added, "not to cook." Nigel blushed and Cat just looked beautiful.

Thayne and Comfort followed; their first number a NapTab hip-hop routine that could have been good had Comfort not left Thayne to flounder. As all three judges stated, they just didn't connect and Comfort did her own thing, though Thayne in all fairness, did pretty good for a white boy. Comfort's behavior will be the downfall of these two, and she'll have to bear that weight on her slight shoulders; Nigel predicted they should plan their solos. The hip-hop was just okay, and Mia was totally right, that once they left the stairs, the story left their steps for the remainder of the time. Mia then told Comfort (and Thayne) that while she had been one of their strongest supporters, she was going to have to pull back now. Comfort definitely looked concerned, as she well should be.

Their second routine was this time in Thayne's "comfort" zone; contemporary. Mandy Moore is one of the easier choreographers, but she announced that Comfort needs to step it up and she was not going to be easy on her. It didn't matter; the lack of interest in the dance was evident in the way Comfort moved. You could literally see her thinking her way through the routine. Thayne, of course, did well enough, but you could see disappointment in his partner as he danced. Nigel bluntly told them that he would have preferred seeing another couple do the routine, a couple who would due justice to a wonderful routine by a wonderful choreographer. True. So true. Mary said it wasn't believable and Mia threw everything wrong in the dance at Comfort, but commended Thayne for his brilliance.

Next in line, Will and Jessica. Their first routine was an erotic Garden of Eden routine by Tyce Diorio. It was, in a word, HAWT. Beautiful, moving, sensual and so full of technical wonders of the human body. Of course, seeing Will in nothing but a burlap sash was pretty hot in itself. All three judges were nearly speechless, and probably horny as heck after sitting there watching it right before their eyes. Mia made me laugh though. The music was … odd. She said that Tony had come over to her home and played the music for her, and asked her opinion. Well, Mia fell asleep on it. She had to take back her words with the comment that the music was perfect for that dance, which was absolutely brilliant.

Unfortunately, they drew the dreaded quickstep as their second routine, and it was just … sad. They should watch Dancing With the Stars and take notes. Seriously. It is an exceptionally difficult dance to do, and they gave it a shot, though it backfired. Tony Meredith and Melanie-LaPatin certainly tried to save the dance by inserting the occasional backflip and twist, but every time Jessica and Will re-entered their official quickstep "carriage," you could see it in their eyes: "Oh, sweet baby Jeebus, please just get me through this dance." What I didn't see was Will's eyes screaming, "Oh, sweet baby Jeebus, free me of the deadweight that is my partner Jessica," as Mia suggested. Yes. She did. Wait. She said, and I quote, "I think it's time for a new partner…" Will, however, was well supporting his partner. Good man, that Will is. She tried. He tried. They both failed. Mary felt that his jacket held him too tight. Nigel thought the flips and twists and jive sections were great, just the true quick-step soured.

Courtney and Gev were up next with a hot-cha-cha-cha-cha Cha-Cha number but the awesome Sasha Kovalev and Anya Garnis. (WOOTS! coz they're back). The routine they created, a driving beat, intricate and whip-fast spins and twirls, sexy but not crude crotch thrusts, and a smattering of playful touches like Courtney's horizontal kicks during one of the percussion breaks. Nigel thought Courtney was as sexy as Anya, which he couldn't believe either, and thought Gev did well as far as being entertaining, and be damned with technique; they were fun to watch. And. He felt they were the best two as a couple over all. Mary thought it was magical and hot-cha-cha-cha-cha… (Nigel had no clue what that meant) and put them aboard the hot tamale train. Mia said they were fabulosity at its best, though not the best dancers, but the best entertainers, and that, too, she says, is what it's about. Cat piped up about Gev's chest; yes, he shaved it. Courtney's eyes widened and said, his chest hair was soooooooooooooo long… It was a great moment.

Their second routine was a Mandy Moore jazz routine with a take on a couple lost, and the man not wanting to stop for directions sort of thing. It was fun, playful, and as all three judges said, "GREAT!" However, the judges raved on their steady improvement in one sentence, then pointed out Gev's sloppy footwork, but again raved on his showmanship.

Alrighty then…

The most egregious excuse making however happened after Twitch and Kherington's krumping. While the two did come the closest of all previous SYTYCD contestants to ever have to matching what actual krumping looks like, but… Twitch hit it so hard, in fact, that I wondered if he'd krumped for real before making the show. And Kherington was right there with him — for the first two-thirds of the number, and then the buckness left her completely. She bucked the buck. The buckness bucked her. She couldn't buck up her buck. The buck stopped with her. Yet Kher left the stage carrying all kinds of slack from the judges. Nigel said on paper it was more like BustaRimes and Miley Cyrus, but they pulled it off "super buck." He made some odd face at first that had me wondering if he was shitting his pants, then commented that it felt like constipation. OOOOOOOkayyyyy… I don't know, but everytime Kherington opened her mouth to try to be cute, Li'l C (who choreographed the number) didn't find her especially humorous. Mary said it was the first krump she believed in and Mia thought it was dirty, disgusting, nasty, skank and buck. All three uttered that Kherington did so well that they were going to ignore that she pooped out at the end. Hm. Favoritism anyone?

Next up for them was a tango routine by Jean-Marc Devereaux. It was tepid. It was anti-buck. This is the second week in a row that Twitch has lost all his flavor when taking on ballroom, which does not bode well for the coming weeks when the couples split off into new pairs. Nigel complained that he wasn't completely honest in his performance and hopped too much; Mary concurred. Mia felt neither were committed to the dance.

Katee and Joshua first took on a waltz by Jean-Marc Devereaux that I thought was beautiful despite the mistakes that they made. Joshua was too bouncy, said Nigel and Mary, though the lifts helped draw the attention from those mistakes, and Katee showed lovely lines (she did). Mia felt that Joshua was rather clumsy but called Katee "a gift to dance" and said she couldn't wait to work with her.

Their second number was a wonderful Baliwood routine by Nakul Dev Mahajan. Taken from a traditional Indian dance, with a bit of hip-hop, and other cultural flavors, the routine was simply magical to watch and the two did so wonderfully well. Of course, I don't quite know how the judges are supposed to seriously critique a Bollywood number, and, indeed, Mary seemed at such a loss for words, so she did a Paula-ism and commented, "On this stage, we have one rule. Heart. Soul. Equals stardom." She did add in the amount of athleticism it took to perform that number (I was sweating bullets on those knee bends) and put them back on the hot tamale train. Mia thought Katee should wear that outfit all the time (she did fit it beautifully).

So, tonight, we'll be bidding adieu to Comfort and Thayne, and next week begins the Top Ten, where couples are broken apart on a weekly basis and repartnered. The couple I'll be most sorry to see part, though, will be Katee and Joshua. Like Chelsie and Mark, they've been almost unfailingly consistent this season, but more than that, they've found a simpatico frisson on stage that goes beyond mere chemistry.

See you when I return next Tuesday…



July 11, 2008

I made it Portland in one piece and without losing my mind — too much anyway.

Yesterday started out well enough. I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare and found the gate I would be leaving from. I had passed a few eateries and thought once I found the gate, checked the flight status on the screen, I?d go and get a soda or something … maybe even a beer just because. However, upon reaching the gate, there before my eyes was … a Chili?s. OH yeahhhhh… Perfect. The hostess was sweet as pie and took me to a quiet booth where I could sit and not have to worry about anyone banging into my leg. Even though I had eaten lunch only three hours prior, something nagged at me to eat dinner then and there. So I did. I ate (somewhat) healthy, opting for the half turkey sandwich and salad. Healthy, yes, that part, but the sandwich also came with fries, and dammit they were GOOD!

Our flight finally geared up to board, already a good twency minutes late because the flight they boarded prior took FOREVER to get the last of the stragglers and listening to the poor Delta employees try to call out passengers? names who were on standby — the flight was to Bucharest. "Will passenger Ba-Ba-Barush-Barush-gadorkadorkovsky come to the gate please." Ah. Simple amusments. So, we're standing there, and told that it's time to board. With a twist. We didn't just walk down the ramp to enter the plane. Oh no. Too easy. We had to walk down two flights of stairs and then squish into a bus that reminded me of when I used to take a bus in Manhattan during rush hour. We were driven out to the plane and … I blinked. This is the ONLY aircraft, I have entered through its asshole. Literally. Tiny, narrow stairs up through the ass of the plane. Goodie.

I?m one of the first on board, and get my seat, and finally the plane is packed up and ready to go. I had nobody on my row. Awesome. Then we sat. And sat. And sat some more. Our pilot, who sounded like Dennis the Menace (but swears he has 17 years pilot experience in the military and 8 years with Delta), said he was waiting on the paperwork, we?d be leaving shortly. Fifteen minutes later, Dennis the Menace comes back on and apologizes profusely, but the paperwork he received was wrong, he?s already been waiting on it TWO hours by now, and he apologizes (again) and they?re printing out the right manifest and he?ll be getting it shortly. I suddenly thought of "Monsters Inc" with the mention of all the paperwork! Add another apology. "We?re doing all we can to make your experience with Delta enjoyable!" he happily chirped.

FINALLY, we were taxi?ed out and we?re pushed ahead of others in line, and the pilot got permission to put the pedal to the metal and fly at a faster speed. I suppose he feared his life ending in a revolt as every passenger had a connecting flight that would probably have been missed otherwise! I surely was going to lead that revolt… I stretched out on the row and relax listening to music and copping a nap here and there. It was a pleasant flight, though thank goodness for headphones, because when I did take them off all I heard were babies screeching.

We landed finally in Cincinnati only twenty minutes behind schedule, but according to my itinerary we were technically right on time. Cool. I had time to grab a munch, and most importantly, go to the bathroom! I hate using the toilets in planes and will hold it rather than deal with them …

I found the gate, after passing the nice area of some good eateries, as well as the bathroom, checked the flight for status, and discovered it was leaving about 15 minutes later than planned. Coolbeans. I went to the bathroom then headed to grab a munchie. I forgot that though Cincinnati is a big city, it?s still just a hick town in Ohio and at 8:30, they were rolling up their carpets to close for the night. At a still busy airport. Hm. I missed being in one of the last straggling few in line by 2 minutes. Nope, no one would let me have even a drink. I turned on my heels to return to the gate, recalling a big restaurant that also had an outside "to go" area of sodas and water and such. But THEY were closing up and I pouted, "Oh damn, you?re closing…" but the girl was just SO sweet. I only wanted a bottle of water, I had snacks in my bag. She opened up long enough to let me grab a drink.

By the time I arrived in Portland, and got my bag, it was almost 11:30, almost a full hour late. I had been calling Amanda to give her statuses, and when I got in the car (a 2009 brand-spanking-less-than-1200-miles Subaru Forester), I called her to let her know I was on the way. MapQuest gave me horrible directions. Had it provided me directions ON THE FREEWAY, my time would have been shorter, but no. MapQuest gave me all non-freeway routes, which sucked because that late at night, tired and eyes grainy as it is from travel, topped off with poor night vision as it is, I poked along, between reading the map, reading street signs (or trying to — seemed almost ALL were covered by tree limbs), I finally made it. Plus, my cell phone battery died, so I couldn't call her to let her know I was slow… When I got to her street, I couldn't read the numbers on the houses at all, but then I saw Amanda wander outside…

I was happy; I was able to catch the broadcast of last night's So You Think You Can Dance.

The show itself was pretty much shenanigan free. Napoleon and Tabitha's group number was tight and fresh and the judges kept their nattering to a minimum — well, save when Nigel announced that Phillip Chbeeb and Robert Muraine will indeed dance off on the finale, only to completely dismiss the showdown as irrelevant mere moments later. Thankfully yet unnervingly, Mary looked, behaved and even sounded like your average, non-shrieking Midwestern mom. A trio of dancers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, our world-of-dance guests for the evening, schooled us on what serious, noncompeting, nonpartnered, professional contemporary dancing looks like, and brought the house down in the process. And while I couldn't tell whether Katy Perry's voice was prerecorded or live, the fact that a show with such a tricky history with the homosexuality would welcome lyrics like "I kissed a girl and I liked it….I hope my boyfriend don't mind it" with nary a raised eyebrow or snippy comment from the peanut gallery — well, it certainly was refreshing.

Within the show's one-man-one-woman rules, yes, Thayne and Comfort did deserve their tickets home. Though, personally, I think it would be a greater test of the dancers when one or more couples might have to team up with a partner of the same sex… Okay. Okay. Katy Perry pushed that idea forefront. Blame her.

Here are my picks from on how I think the dancers are in their standing of strength.

10. Jessica. She could surprise us and blossom into a thrilling dancer instead of a merely competent one.

9. Gev, Now that the B-boy can no longer rely on his partnership with the agreeably game Courtney (who's also one of the few women on the show appreciably shorter than him), Gev's got to work double hard to shore up his technique lest the other women leave him in their dust.

8. Courtney. There's something that's instantly appealing about Courtney, but when I think back on the previous episodes, I can only think of one routine where she stood out from the pack with any kind of wow factor, that of the ghetto princess hip-hop number.

7. Kherington. She's fun, she's blond, she's drop-dead gorgeous. She's been the stronger dancer in her partnership with the more easy-to-like Twitch, but if she's ever going to become the American sweetheart she so longs to be, the lady has got to learn how to dance in heels.

6. Twitch. He's lovable, and very buck in his own genre, however the ballroom gigs are his major obstacle.

7. Mark. Without any screen time during the auditions, and practically zero unearned pimping from the judges, Mark has managed to win over the crowd for one simple reason: the guy performs. Other dancers are certainly more technically capable, but no one draws me into a routine more immediately and with more natural style, and I don't know if any dancer has more fun up there on the stage.

4. Joshua. This handsome and charming guy is still by far this season's biggest surprise, the one who's impressed us most often with his ability to take on styles whole time zones away from his wheelhouse.

3. Chelsie. Just as much an entertainer as Mark and considerably stronger in her technique, Chelsie's done herself no favors by giving off the impression that she sees Mark as a walking booger with icky crooked pinkies. However, if she keeps wowing with her dancing and performance over all, she'll easily be in the top four.

2. Will. He's got world-class technical skill with elegance and poise and an easygoing attitude. Okay, and a nice body to boot. But since the judges have worked overtime to paint Jessica as a pair of soul-sucking human manacles keeping Will's brilliant wings from reaching their true stratospheric potential, the guy's kinda under the gun to break the SYTYCD sound barrier now that he's free to partner with women more equal to his blinding magnificence.

1. Katee. It's hard to believe that she entered the Top Twenty with the greatest handicap of any of the dancers, namely her honest-if-none-too-wise remark in Vegas that if she didn't make the finals this time, she'd likely never audition for the show again. She can make pretty much any style look as if it were coming naturally out of her own body rather than a series of steps placed on her by someone else, and she quietly refuses to mug, clown, pose, or in any way seem desperate for America to love her.

Off to play with the baby and spend time with family. Adieu until next week!



July 16, 2008

I'm home… While I?m sad to have left behind my family, it never felt so good to get home.

I walked into the house and discovered… Amanda has two cats, her boyfriend, Allen, has one, and then there were the three 6-week old kittens they were giving away. That first night there, the three of us stayed up a bit to chat about an hour, and the baby woke up. Her first reaction to me was, "who the hell are you?" *LOL* Of course, I?d be like that too in the middle of the night looking at the face of a stranger. My bed that night was the couch, and if it wasn't for the fact that I was exhausted, and that I popped a couple of Alleve… Between one of Amanda?s cats being in heat, and making her horny catcalls all night, and the other cats annoying her, and the kittens running through the living room/dining room/kitchen playing and knocking everything down… except for two that is; they found a soft warm bed. Me.

Of course, I was awake at my normal time and had to force myself to sleep longer. Still, at 6:00 a.m. I was up (because that?s 9:00 a.m. for me normally), and fixing breakfast. Amanda got up to fix the baby a bottle, and whimpered, "why are you awake?" *LOL* I ate, curled back on the couch, which was absolutely comfy and got out my book until it put me to sleep until about 8:00, when the baby normally is awake for the day.

Later that morning, it was off to head to my daughter Nikki's, with a couple of small stops on the way. After visiting a bit, we all three agreed we were starving and decided upon Olive Garden, a perfectly yummy place to throw all ideas of sticking with my diet out the window. As a side note here, when I got home, I looked on their site and Olive Garden gives very little nutritional value information on their meals; their diet section is there, but not the non-diet stuff. What are they hiding? That their menu is a heart attack awaiting to happen?

That evening, Tim heated up the barbecue while we girls went shopping and got some stuff to make burgers for dinner that night, and enjoyed a bit of that nice backyard of their neighbors, and their koi pond. It was a nice cool evening, making it all the more enjoyable. That is, until it was time to head back to Amanda's and I got royally sick… Good times.

The next day, we had planned a barbecue with a few other people coming over, but that next morning when I called Nikki, she said Tim didn't want to do the barbecue and explained why. Not a biggie. Instead of the barbecue, Nikki had done some research of places to go, and we all decided the Japanese Gardens sounded the nicest. Tim joined in to go with us girls; Amanda didn't call Allen becaus he had spent ALL night long playing WOW, which sort of kept me up all night because he had the sound up pretty loud.

We stopped at the store on the way for Tim to run in for some ice, he mentioned he saw a nice dining room table and chair set that was pretty awesome and on sale. Nikki said, "cool, maybe mom will take us there when we get back…" and I said sure!

The Japanese Gardens were … so incredibly beautiful and peaceful. We all had a really great time and I took lots of pictures! Tim and Nikki were so cute; picking out flowers they wanted for their yard (they?re going to buy the house they now rent), and talking about other things they wanted for the house and all. We got a nice walking workout to boot. Tim mentioned that the next day (Sunday), he wanted to barbecue; his mom and sister would be coming over. That was cool. When we got back to Tim and Nikki?s, Allen pulled up right after, since Amanda had called him to let him know to come over. We left Allen and Amanda there and headed to the store to look at that table Tim had mentioned; which they bought. It was a great price and a gorgeous table to boot.

Then it was time to head to the restaurant. There wasn't enough room in the SUV, so Allen and Tim drove there in Amanda's car, while us girls had the air-conditioned SUV and chatted. The food was delicious at the restaurant and we all had a great time. Because I knew that Amanda was hurting for money and no way did I want her to use funds that were needed to take care of herself and the baby on a frivolous dinner, I paid for both hers and Allen?s meal.

After returning to Nikki?s, we made it an early night. The baby was restless, Tim started working on putting together the table, and Nikki and I were not thrilled because… Nikki mentioned watching a movie and chilling out in our visit, which sounded wonderful. But, Allen just … picked up the game controller and turned on the PS2 and played a game. Huh? Without asking any of the rest of us is it okay? Yay. I just love to sit around and watch someone play a video game. To say the least, I was pissed (at Amanda's, I don't have access to a TV to keep me occupied when I?m awake and they?re sleeping), I knew Nikki was pissed; she slid off to help Tim set up their new table instead. Amanda had a helluva time to get Allen to pay attention that it was time to go home. Amanda told Nikki and I the next day that Allen gets lost when playing video games. I personally suggest a heavy boot to the head as an attention getter.

When we got back to Amanda's, Allen added further insult when he said to Amanda, that he was going to their room; he wanted to watch a movie. Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiice.

I curled up to sleep, or tried to anyway. Just shortly before they went to their room, one of the kittens decided to use my bad leg as a climbing post, and scratched the area of my wound! So I was in pain, and popped three Alleve, and fired up the water bottle to douse the horny cat whenever she came near. I had to open the windows to get some cool breeze so not to faint from heat exhaustion. The windows were by the couch where I slept, and so she wanted to hang out there and wail. She didn't like me very much after that night; she had plenty of showers. Heh.

The next morning, it was off to Nikki's. When we arrived, Nikki said us girls were on order to do the shopping for the food. Smart Nikki had created three shopping lists; one for her, one for me, and one for Amanda, to make the shopping faster. I grabbed a Sunday paper to take home with me, to look at the cost of living and the job opportunities. While in line at the grocery store, Nikki told me that the night before, when I told the waiter to put Amanda?s and Allen?s meals on my tab, Allen set down his menu and gave Amanda a nasty, dirty look! I told Nikki, that Allen could have been a real man and said, "hey, I appreciate the offer, but I?ll pay for mine and Amanda?s meals…" or simply just say thank you. I told Nikki that he needn't worry about getting upset again; that was the last meal of his I?d pay for. The fact that Allen had not said thank you to me, even after we returned to Nikki?s, was not lost on Nikki or Tim either.

Anyway, the barbecue that Sunday was very nice; Tim cooked up his special chicken recipe, which was yum. His mom got smashed on beer and was a hoot and I enjoyed conversation with Tim's sister. My leg was raging and Tim?s mom, who is a nurse, told me that she thought it looked a lot like cellulitis. I told her that I thought that, but also thought maybe phlebitis, too, because the symptoms and such were nearly the same. She said I?d better get to the doctor ASAP because cellulitis kills; it eventually will break down enough cells to cause septicemia throughout your whole body. I promised that I would.

I wasn't sure how I would feel Monday, our last day together, but I woke up feeling well enough. Amanda had suggested we spend the day at the beach, and Nikki was all for it too (and me too!). It was a girl?s only day; both Tim and Allen had to go to work and besides, we wanted our last day together to really be just us. The drive was beautiful and it took less than two hours thanks to lack of traffic. The small village, Cannon Beach, was similar to the one up at Lake George, NY. Very touristy, with restaurants and antique shops and art galleries (lots of those) and gift shops. First up, was getting me a sweat shirt because it was windy and a bit chilly, then lunch before we walked to the beach itself. The beach was … awesome. I love the Pacific North; it?s every bit gray and craggy and full of such interesting landscape; the sand white, soft and pristine, the water clear and that day, very cold. It was one of those days that even in mid-summer, the weather was anti-beach bumming. Even still, the girls all got their feet wet while I videotaped and enjoyed a short time along the coastline, before venturing back to the village for shopping before we headed home. On the drive home, we stopped at a restaurant called "Camp 18" named for a famous logging camp. Outside, it was decorated with old logging equipment, train cars, etc. Nikki had mentioned the great food there; it was a tradition for Tim?s mother to always stop there on their way back. Well, apparently we had an off day for the cook, because the food was … terrible. And not cheap either. Ah well…

Leaving Nikki?s that night was hard; and I forced myself to not break down and bawl like a baby. Amanda and I hung out for awhile once we got back to her house. She put the baby to bed after I gave her some last snuggles because I wouldn't see her in the morning. I had taken my Alleve, my leg was hurting nasty bad, and was doing my best to stay awake while Amanda was talking. I zonked out and when I woke up, she was writing Allen a note to be very quiet when he got home (around midnight-ish); that we?d all be asleep. I wanted to stay up longer to talk, but I had to be up no later than 4:30 to leave no later than 5:00 come morning. Amanda said she?d try to be up then, but we said our goodbyes that night just in case.

I didn't sleep well. In fact, I remember feeling… odd… and opened my eyes to the darkness within the room, to see Allen staring down at me. THAT was creepy. Maybe he thought I was awake and would say something to him, but uh… I was too creeped out say anything. It was too dark for him to notice my eyes were open, not to mention I had my arm resting on my forehead and hooding my eyes slightly. He finally walked off to his room.

The cats were unusually quiet that night, which allowed me a cat nap or two. I was wide awake and reached for my travel alarm, and saw it was 4:15. Then noticed that I had the alarm set to "OFF" so… I grumbled and got up. Then got dressed, ate my breakfast and headed out; Amanda never woke up, which I already predicted wouldn't happen. It was okay, though. I was sad, and crying and it was just better to leave like that.

I turned in my car, checked in my bag and found the gate, then bought some bottled water and a bagel. Once boarded, I literally crashed even before takeoff. In fact, I don't remember takeoff. I woke up sometime later, just when the pilot announced that snacks and drinks were being served. The flight from there to Cincinnati was packed full, and efficient and ahead of schedule upon our landing. My only complaint was the man right behind me with his year-old baby who kept kicking the seat and disturbing my sleep after we had our first snack break. Once awake, then the baby decided to play with me, and I'd feel little fingers tickling at my arm. Cute.

My connecting flight was almost a nightmare. We were about to taxi off, when the pilot announced that either the indicator light for the second fuel pump was acting up, or, the second fuel pump wasn't working, but the mechanic was checking it out. About ten minutes later, we were informed it was just the indicator light bulb had died, and we were off. It was a comfortable flight, though; the plane only half full, and though my row shared by another lady, at least the middle seat was empty and we could stretch out some. Already a bit behind schedule when we landed in New York, we sat and drove in circles on the taxi lane for what seemed like forever, or, as one of the stewardesses said, "It may look like we?re driving back to Cincinnati…" There was a jam up of planes at the loading docks, and we had to wait for the plane occupying our gate to finish boarding and leave. Then I wanted to cry on my cab ride home when we hit traffic, but my driver was cool and knew a shortcut around the jam up and soon we were on the highway flying…

I unpacked but didn't put my suitcase away, opting to deal with that the next day, then I called Tony and told him I was ordering pizza. When it arrived, I curled up to zone out in front of the TV…

It was time for I Survived a Japanese Game Show. Yippee.

The teams welcome back Meaghan, though it seems that the Yellow Penguins bet cookies against Meaghan. Mary thinks that the challenges aren't that exhausting.

It's morning now, and Mama-san greets the team and tells them they need to learn Japanese. She teaches Justin "How Much is it?" and Cathy is taught, "I?m sorry." She wants to know what's up with that.

It's time to go to the studio, where they're all provided baby outfits; bonnets, bibs… Donnell sports the bonnet to the side. Meaghan makes it worse and puts her hair in pigtails. Mark becomes "angry baby" and lifts a couch. Mary cries. The teams are brought out to the laughter of the audience. Apparently, Meaghan was taught "I love you" and Donnell was taught "I love Japan" by Mama-san.

The team challenge is called "Big Baby Go Boom." In this challenge, the teams are first spun in an oversized crib. The first now dizzy teammate will have to climb out of the crib and make their way through an obstacle course carrying two cups filled with milk to pour into a large baby bottle. Falling will ensue; they have to navigate over a seesaw, to spinning disks, and if they make it that far with milk, under a rung and up through a fog bank, to follow along a small walkway to the waiting bottle, where, if they have anything left, they fill it, then race to the timer to signal for the next team member to go. To even out the teams, one of the Baby Penguins must be sent to the corner for the duration of the game. Wah. That team member will be Bilenda (which she is delighted not to be spun about and deal with dizzy).

The Baby Penguins are first. Cathy gets out of the spinning crib first. Cathy is spun around as she gets the milk. Right as she makes her first step, she spills it, but has to finish the course even if she didn't have milk. Mark is next. He holds some milk as he spins off of the peppermint patties. He makes it through with a little bit of milk. Justin wobbles a little bit, but he clearly is drunk often. IMark is up again, he slips but maintains a good amount of milk, though he couldn't make it to the bottle before time is up. They are definitely nervous!

Baby Green Monkey team is up next. The host tells the audience that he loves watching everyone fall. The green team decides to have an eyes closed technique while being spun about. Donnell doesn't do well at all. He goes plop almost as quickly as gets the milk. Meaghan is next, she does the balance board correctly but she cant get past the first spinning peppermint. Meaghan makes about half a thing. Mary survives the peppermints without a lot of spinning. She pours a lot in. One minute to go. Donnell is last. Donnell swoops and no milk. He has to finish the course. Clearly, time is gonna run out. Game over!

They bring the Penguins out. Judge Bob brings out the bottles. He peels the green label off. That?s not a lot. Bob then pulls out the yellow teams label, more than green! Not by much, but moonshine Justin saved the day. The prize? Soba-noodle making day! Losing team? Harvest Clams! That?s three in a row for the teams. Donnell thinks that Mary doesn't deserve to go in. Meaghan?s "immunity" is on the line. Donnell is really afraid of these women.

Mary wakes up early and looks off into the Japanese skyline. Mary really doesn't deserve to go. Mama-san makes sure that people have to wear dirty clothes for the green team. Yellow team gets to go the second oldest temple in eastern Japan. The team gets a soba-noodle making lesson. The guy doing the demo does an amazing job. The other team is greeted by old women who are shucking clams. The clams smell, like clams. Yellow is served the soba-noodles. Cathy is so Staten Island. Meaghan is freaked out by the whole living clams. Mary is grossed out. Donnell. They bring another bucket out for the team to finish.

The teams are brought back to the studios. Mary decides to apparently have one-on-ones with the contestants. Cathy says that "You?re not here to make friends" Drink! The other green teams are up to change and Donnell goes tries to convince Mary to go up against Meaghan. Mary is hesitant and adjusts her glasses. Time is up.

They bring the Green Monkey team out. The girls and Donnell smell like clams. Donnell likes the smell. Who is up? Mary & Donnell. Mary is true to her word. Meaghan is sent to the back. The two remaining contestants are told to strip and put on chicken heads. Kinky.

The eliminator is called "Big Chicken Butt Scramble." In this game, the contestants are first oiled and feathered. Once they are sufficiently coated with both, they have to run to their "nest box" and pop eggs with their behinds.

Mary is up first and lubes herself up; time starts when she starts to slide down. I don't know how they judge the feathering; Bob declares when she is sufficiently feathered. Mary is off and she gets a good amount until she hesitates on the 5th egg. She gets a flow with her "tiny" booty. I don't know how she gets the 9th one. It pops itself. She falls. The eggs would not budge. The oil gets to her. With time running out she edges out a 10th.

Donnell is up next. He greases himself up as the sexy music plays in the background. Slide time, he feather?s himself and Bob okay?s him. It seems he was allowed less time in the feathering and had less feathers on him. Donnell has trouble with the first, but gets a flow going. After the 7th, he gets a bad egg. He finally gets the 8th and 9th. And gets the 10th. With a good amount of time left, he gets number 11. Donnell wins.

The Sayonara team comes in to swoop Mary away. Poor girl. If she just broke her word Meaghan would have gone home. Incredible hulk music plays as Mary walks away. Mary was happy during the whole time. That?s good. I think I'll miss her. I know Meaghan feels in deep doo-doo now.

Before I left, I changed doctors with my health insurance, but I couldn't get in to see him that day before I left. I called Monday to make the appointment, and he?s out today, booked thick for tomorrow and Friday, but I was told to call first thing in the morning Thursday and see if I could get pushed in. He is going away on vacation the following week, but has another doctor filling in for him. Yay.

Then I called my boss and the first words out of his mouth were, "I don't care… I need you to do a full day's work tomorrow" and started bitching at me about the doctor. I had a "whole 6 days" to get it checked out. I couldn't get a word in edgewise, and finally I told him, can I please TALK! I told him that my leg was better when I left, and since I can't afford to be out the money for the plane trip, and dammit, I haven't yet seen my granddaughter, and she was over a year old, I went ahead and went. But it flared again out in Oregon and told him that I was seen by my son-in-law?s mother who is a nurse, and she told me that I needed to get to the doctor upon my return home, and that I tried getting in today, but he was booked solid, and that I have to call in the morning, and if I can't get in to see him, I have to go to the ER. I told him it could be cellulitis, and that I?ll be there first thing in the morning, but depending on when I can get in to see the doctor, I HAVE to go, then asked him if he even knew what cellulitis was, and explained that I could literally die from it if that?s what it is. I told him, I may well end up in the hospital. Then he went on about how it was hard for him to hold down the fort for an extra day (WTF? What "extra" day? I get two weeks vacation and took only 6 days) and how Marian was no help and on and on and on, but he is concerned about my health and obviously it comes first, yadda yadda… I told him I?d be there in the morning at the very least and that I am going to see about getting in to the doctor on Friday because Tony is off that day and could take me to the hospital if I have to be admitted, which again I re-iterated that it?s a very good possibility… or, in some cases, they hook up those IV pumps that can be worn at home.

Then I wanted to throw the phone, but instead played a bit of Diablo and then some browsing about until I needed a nap.

Sadly, I learned that after an injury, So You Think You Can Dance finalist Jessica King leaves and Comfort Fedoke, touted as the best female hip hopper, eliminated last Thursday, is getting a second chance and takes Jessica's place in the Top Ten. Not only will Comfort be replacing Jessica in the Top Ten, but she'll take the contemporary dancer's place on the So You Think You Can Dance tour that will hit 50 cities across the country this fall. In a statement released by Fox, top judge and executive producer Nigel Lythgoe said, "I would like to say how sorry I am that Jessica cannot continue dancing in the competition at the advice of her doctor. Her full recovery is paramount and will only come with rest. We are fortunate that Comfort has agreed to rejoin the competition and know that under the circumstances she has Jessica's full support." No mention was made about the specifics surrounding Jessica's injury.

After watching Jessica plié for her life these past few weeks on So You Think You Can Dance, one thing became apparent: No matter how much technique, soul, or heartfelt contemporary routines this girl put out there, the judges were going to bash her on something. All their critiques centered around the idea that she was dead weight in her partnership with their beloved Debbie Allen protégé Will Wingfield. Last week Nigel went so far as to say the judges wished they could have sent home two girls to save one of the bottom three boys.

Ugh. Back to work tomorrow…



July 17, 2008

I made it through my first day at work without a problem, though my leg wasn't feeling too well and I fought a small fever. I did get an appointment to see the doctor tomorrow. My boss isn't too pleased, and basically called me a liar regarding my flight times (mm, okay), and has made me feel like he thinks I did this to myself to get a few extra days off work. Hm, yeah. Like, I can think of better, less painful ways for that…

I'm so ready to leave the state of New York, as is Tony. He's picked out a few jobs in the Portland (OR) newpaper, as have I. We hate our apartment, he hates his job, and now… I have to say that no longer do I enjoy going to mine.

Anyway, so last night's So You Think You Can Dance was darn good, for the most part. You've got to hand it to Jessica; after five weeks of the near-relentless drumbeat of "you're not good enough, you're not as great as Will, you're not good enough," she makes it to the Top Ten, only to be felled by some busted ribs. Then not only did Jessica have to sit in the audience and watch Comfort — a.k.a. her replacement, a.k.a. the dancer with at least five lives — give her best performance of the season; she also had to witness the judges rhapsodize over her former partner's two numbers with by far the best female dancer on the show. The trooper of a dancer stood her ground and smiled.

Cat Deeley's gold Saran Wrap number last night was pretty smashing. Mary coined some real doozies: "Happy's kind of a way station between too little and too much"; "Dancing doesn't build character, it just reveals it"; "I'm hopping on the Love Boat with this number!" (The hot tamale train has been forsaken!?) But for the most part, the judges went easy on the grating obnoxiousness, and krumper Lil' C proved himself as insightful a guest judge as the show's had this season.

It was some of the dancers and choreographers who irked me the most last night.

Mark as the dancer to beat this season, he delivered two lackluster numbers when he really needed a solid to stay out of the bottom four. Not that it's his fault entirely; Kherington did him no favors during their country two-step, dropping their spins and giving off the vibe that she never fully trusted him to be as physically strong a partner as Twitch. Indeed, the partnering charm I praised in Mark last week certainly didn't endear him to Kherington, which seems to be half the battle with the paired numbers. Meanwhile, they both ran out of gas as they entered the second half of Tyce Diorio's jazz number, but in fairness, so did the routine itself. Tyce has created eight dances for the show this season (including one group number), more than I believe any other choreographer, and his idea fatigue is starting to show, from the by-the-numbers steps to the choice of Jamiroquai's too-on-the-nose "Canned Heat" as the song.

Even Tyce's Broadway number for Will and Katee didn't exactly live up to the choreographer's promise to blow the roof off the joint. It was fun, sure, and definitely well executed by the dancers; it just spent way too much time literally and figuratively trapped in the "boat" of that Guys and Dolls song to really take off. I wanted to like the number far more than I actually did, a feeling that was even more potent after their second routine of the night. And, unlike the judges, I didn't loooooove that pas de deux; the song choice, David Archuleta's "Imagine," felt totally disconnected from the movement, both in form and in content. Again, Katee and Will danced it to near perfection, but with due respect to choreographer Desmond Richardson (and I mean that; YouTube his name and you'll quickly see why), it simply didn't connect for me. Thank goodness both Will's and Katee's solos were so rich, effortless, and expressive.

Which is more than I can say for Chelsie and Gev. Neither solo was impressive, and Gev missed first trick and that threw off his game for the rest of the number. But they both wholly redeemed themselves by committing from tip to toe to their paired routines. By now, Chelsie's technique has shown her to be, along with Katee and Will, one of this season's true "serious" dancers. If you looked closely enough, I'm pretty sure you could see Nigel's butt clench after Mary critiqued the jive by referencing Dancing With the Stars.

Gev's old partner Courtney fared better last night, though her new B-boy has far more skill that her last one and, it seems, is much more the man. She may have been overshadowed by Joshua in their Bride of Frankenstein hip-hop routine, but her solo was pretty spectacular, and that rumba would not have worked had Courtney not given as much heat as she was getting from Josh. The choreographers, though, really need to get more creative with their song choices. "Hero"? Seriously? I mean, do we really need to be encouraging the Swaybots, who were out in force last night? It was a real treat, though, to finally see Joshua do his thing in his solo, and I especially liked how he started an underground dance-off between him and Twitch by duplicating the same solo-ending chest thrusts Twitch used in his.

Speaking of Twitch, I winced when Cat announced that his and Comfort's first number would be a smooth waltz, and I winced again when they danced it. The genre just outright stymies Twitch, and doesn't exactly help Comfort's chance at seeing past another night. Fortunately for both of them, I don't think anyone's going to remember that ballroom number after they demolished Dave Scott's futuristic hip-hop routine saddled with costumes that belonged on a 1950s sci-fi series. Alas, Comfort's triumph also just reinforced why she doesn't really belong in the Top Ten; it was in her own genre, with a partner also well versed in that genre, and a choreographer who played right into her strengths — a pretty wide target for her to hit. Given how small Comfort's voter base has been for so long, I still don't think it was enough to keep her out of the bottom four.

Well, wish me luck for tomorrow…



July 18, 2008

With the boss away, I was able to pump out quite a bit of work that morning before I had to head to the doctor. Not to mention, I packed up work to do from home over the weekend, even after the smarmy attitude echoed in the boss's statement when I told him what I was doing. Like, uh, I didn't HAVE to bring work home…

With a high blood pressure reading, I wasn't thrilled, but likely due to stress (um, the boss adding to it didn't help) and worry about what this thing might be. But the doctor pronouned it not cellulitis, though they did take blood to check things out. Because I had flown in a plane, twice, long-distance, the mild phlebitis that he concluded it was could well have turned to a deep thrombosis. Yay. So it was off to the hospital across the street for a venous doppler. Since the doctor was going away on vacation, he wanted the results right away. Big ol' negative! Whew… He told me to go get my antibiotics, go home, take them and rest.

It was a long day and I was exhausted by the time I did get home. I died on the recliner almost right away (after taking my first dose of anti-biotic horse pill and an Alleve), but woke when Tony had finished up the light meal he cooked up for us. Mmm, perfect.

I can feel the meds working already and I'll likely hit the bed shortly, but I want to finish this up first.

The exuberant Bollywood number that opened last night's So You Think You Can Dance results show was pretty much everything I'd hoped it would be.

Mia Michaels continued her season-long therapy session with an anguished all-girl group number about, um, milkmaids (angels?) keening in grief over, um, something really, really, really sad. It was still pretty stunning.

The guys were given a a simple three-and-two lineup, some (slightly off) step dancing, Broadway capering, and good ol' fashioned hoofing, in their Five Guys Named Moe routine by a "mystery choreographer" whom I had guessed to be Nigel Lythgoe himself. It was. Well, shucks, Nigel, I'm impressed.

As for the results themselves, well, I can't say I'm exactly surprised. The bottom four of Gev, Comfort, Kherington, and Mark was pretty much preordained after Wednesday's performance show, and although I pegged Comfort to go home before Kherington yesterday, based on their numbers this week and their solos last night, Kher deserved the boot first.

Comfort's solo last night was definitely a favorite of mine; it was pretty clear that she expected to go home, so the pressure was off, and it made her a better dancer. Kherington, though, was just the opposite. Mary called her a front-runner, but I think Kher's popularity ended up having more to do with Twitch's popularity than her own and when left on her own and alone, she couldn't define who she is as a dancer. You don't end your solo with a shrug, Kher, even if you do think the judges are stinky-poo pants for hating all over your missed turns and perfunctory dancing, making America not vote for you.

Mark wasn't quite Mark this week. However, Gev just didn't quite get it, I think, and never make it a joy to connect to his dancing, a nut that season 3 breakers Dominic and Sara had cracked early on. Simply, Gev's internal artistry never quite met his physical expression and thus he was also given the boot.

Okay, time to sleep.




July 22, 2008

This is day five now since I saw the doctor and started taking the antibiotics. They are definitely working. At least insofar as the swelling gone and the reddened area now just a hot to light pink and reduced in size. However, I did discover a new small pink lump just above the first one last night. Yay.

I see the doctor again on Friday and frankly, the week couldn't go fast enough. I want to find out if I can get back into my workout routine! I'm going nuts without it.

I Survived a Japanese Game Show tonight promised more fun and wacky games.

With Mary gone, the Green Monkeys are down to a whopping two players. Meaghan seems to have gotten over losing Mary, and she is antsy to be rid of Donnell.

Tony shows up at their house late that night and drags them all out of bed to announce that the game that is to be played the following day needs to have at least three team members. Which means, the Yellow Penguins need to cough up a member to send off to join the Green Monkeys.

Who will it be?

Donnell, of course, wants Justin (who wouldn't?) who is considering jumping ship and being with his buddy Donnell, while at the same time happy to be where he is now. Cathy figured she would be the one booted and said that she'd have no hard feelings if it were so, and admitted she hadn't performed in games very well.

It was off to the studios and there, Tony asked for the decision. Cathy doesn't give them the opportunity to say she stinks and eagerly volunteers to go; Andrew is happy, Justin is shocked and Donnell wasn't too pleased.

The teams were called out to the stage, and while the host made all sorts of derogatory remarks about the dumb Americans, they were then informed they were going to play: "Sticky Sticky Bang Bang."

In this game, one team member dons the sticky suit (Meaghan and Darcy wore them once before) and is lifted in the air by a cable. While their other two team members attempt to stick as many balls as they can to their hanging member, the opposing two team members not in a sticky suit each have the end of a rope to yank and pull and sway the hanging sticky suited person. One team member shoots a machine gun with small balls, while the other team member throws basketball sized balls. The sticky suited person is allowed to reach out with hands and legs and feet to grab and catch as they can.

First up, the Yellow Penguins. Bilenda is sticky suited, Andrew shoots the machine gun balls and Justin throws the big balls (analogous?). Of the opposing team, since Cathy awaits in the sticky suit, it's up to dorky Meaghan and Donnell to man the ropes and hopefully sway Bilenda away from the balls. It didn't work out so well. For one thing, Meaghan was just so dorky, she didn't pull the rope well, and then the two of them pulled Bilenda in a very methodical rhythm that, you guessed it, was easy for the Yellow team to guess and time their shots. Total balls adorning Bilenda per Judge Bob: 24.

Bilenda comments on big bodies coming in handy at times; Meaghan chirps, "We're screwed."

Now it's the Green Monkeys turn. While Cathy dangles in her sticky suit (I thought Meaghan would have been better, since she's tall and gangly…), Meaghan mans the machine gun and Donnell the football player is in charge of throwing balls. Strategically, since Bilenda was the dangler for the Yellows, this means Justin and Andrew man the ropes to sway Cathy. And they do, and then some. They are fast, they tug hard, with snaps erratic; that poor girl is yanked back and forth and around. While Meaghan is complaining that Cathy isn't even trying to reach out and grab balls (um, apparently Meaghan has no understanding of physics), Meaghan is there… focusing… on the machine gun, to line up the "perfect" shots. I think she fired off all of five balls the entire time. Even the Yellow team was stupefied at Meaghan's dumbness. Ah… but even that is strategically good for them. By the end of the allotted time: 7 balls declares Bob.

The Yellow Penguins win a trip to a Shinto Shrine while the Green Monkeys are charged with making mochi (that rubbery gooey "treat" from the first game on day one).

Additionally, the Green Monkeys must choose two for the elimination round. Here's a rule that had never been stated before (apparently there was no need to either). If the losing team cannot make a unanimous decision on the two players for the elimination round, that decision then goes to the opposing team. Hm.

Meaghan is already plotting of how to worm out of being in the elimination round… Cathy blamed the egotistical football player Donnell for not making the throws well enough and blamed Meaghan for spending too much time "focusing"; Cathy was, after all, at the mercy of two strong men yanking her like a ragdoll. Good point Staten Island chica.

The Yellow Penguins head for the Shinto temple, meet a priest and are told to don robes to partake in a religious ceremony. Bilenda loved the serenity and the history of the religious sect. They saw a girl dance in the ceremony and then were blessed. Afterwards, they partook in some archery, which the Shintos use to help them focus; a form of meditation.

Meanwhile, the Green Monkeys made, or tried to make at least, mochi; a sticky gooey mess of rice that is generally coated with syrup and other confections. Yes, mochi is a dessert. Blech. The Green team pummel the rice that's placed in a wooden barrel that serves as a super sized mortar bowl. The "pestles" then are wooden mallets. Donnell takes much joy in pulverizing the rice, which turns into a goo. As Cathy said, "it's sticky and gross." The Green team Americanized their mochi and made them look like sort of cookies. The green ones are deadly. Wasabi! Donnell was given one to eat and nearly died. His comment was that it "tastes like cow nostrils dried up." I guess he's eaten cow nostrils both dry and wet to know this?

It was time to head back to the studios, and the Green team brought trays of their mochis. Of course, Donnell was eager to sic the wasabi mochi on Andrew and Justin. Bilenda remarked that the Green team was trying to get back at the Yellow team by feeding them nasty food. Um. Yeah. Wouldn't you Bilenda?

Donnell doesn't think he'll be in the elimination round because he's so egotistical to think that neither Meaghan or Cathy want to compete against the big bad football player.

Meanwhile, Meaghan was snuggled up with Andrew. Andrew wants Donnell gone and says so. He says there's a bigger loss to lose either woman (less competition for him) and Meaghan tells him she will feign indecision so that the Yellows have to make the choice for the Green team.

Tony arrived at the studios to get the decision of the Green Monkeys. Meaghan played the actress (and said so in an out-take) and feigned her indecision. Cathy was upfront that Donnell and Meaghan should play, while Donnell was voting on the two women. Which means… now the Yellow Penguins have the ball in their court, and are sent off to deliberate.

Donnell doesn't think he'll be in the elimination round in the event the Yellows have to decide because Justin is his buddy and he'll be able to convince the other Yellows that the women should go up against each other.

Au contraire! Justin is perfectly happy to send Donnell to the eliminations in hopes he'll go home; Donnell is a friend, yes, but this is a game, and he wants to be the ultimate winner, so… hasta la vista Donnell. All the Yellows feel Cathy should play since she so eagerly abandoned them. They come out of deliberations and give their decision to Tony. Donnell is not a happy man. Aw shucks. He's been backstabbed! *gasps* Like he's so innocent… Meaghan is secretly proud of herself and certain Donnell will finally be gone.

Both teams back on stage, the Green Monkeys carrying their trays of mochi to hand out to the audience, Cathy and Donnell are then told that they will be playing: "You Swing and Hope for the Best." Omnious.

In this game, there are seven doors side by side, with a rope in front of each one. The player has to grab a rope and swing to a door in any order, to try to find the three solid doors. If they crash through a door, they are subject to beatings and powderings from scary pandas and gorillas and have to hurry back up to swing on another rope in hopes of finding those three solid doors. After finding the third solid door, the player then must race to the button on the other side of the stage to stop the clock. The player with the best time wins.

First up is Cathy. The first three doors she swings into all break! Not good! The others are in disbelief; it's apparent she has no strategy. She's scrambling quickly though and door number four and five are both solid. However, door number six is not and she must once again wend her way around to swing to door number seven, then scramble to the button to stop the clock. Her time: 2 minutes, 5 seconds.

Donnel is next. He swings at the first door and breaks through, but he's too fast for the gorillas and pandas. Back up on the platform, doors two and three are solid. Except he swings so hard that his foot STILL breaks through the "solid" door! The crowd goes wild! He's moving fast and thinking he's done, as he swings for door number four and it breaks. He is battered, returns and swings through door number five as well. Now, he's worried, and Cathy is holding her breath. Donnell swings to door number six — and it's solid. He hurries to the button and stops the clock. His time: 1 minute, 7 seconds.

Sayonara to Cathy, but … OOPS! The Sayonara boys go and grab Donnell incorrectly (or maybe they wanted Donnell gone too?!) The producers go crazy. People will get fired, you can tell. Cathy is swept away, and everyone says goodbye and left in good spirits. I think I'm really going to miss that Staten Island girl.

Andrew and Justin said that if Donnell comes back there with a pissy attitude, they were going to be pissed. Meaghan is surely not happy to see she is still stuck with Donnell.

Next week promises fireworks.




July 24, 2008

My leg is a lot better today with no apparent redness on the surface of the skin. I can even walk on it without feeling the twinges of pain. Goody. Now, I'm hoping tomorrow, the doc says I can work out again. I may anyway; at least hit the bikes.

"We're frighteningly close to the finale," the mildly BeDazzled Cat reminded everyone last night on So You Think You Can Dance. Two weeks away, in fact; time surely flies when you're actually looking forward to watching TV, especially FOX who has systematically cancelled every show I have liked after just a few episodes for the past three or four years.

While it was obvious that the producers were looking for ways to comfortably fill the two hours of eight routines and eight solos; they could have easily allowed longer solo dances, but I guess we needed to hear the guest judge, choreographer and singer Toni Basil (hey Mickey you're so fine!), define street hip-hop for us two or three times. Or talk about the organics of dance feelings six or seven times.

Will and Courtney were the first couple to pair up and they appeared to be very pleased about it. Their first dance, a samba choreographed by Jean-Marc Genereux, was pretty sexy hot, though there were moments of clunkiness. Still the judges seemed to think they did pretty damn good. I mean, how could the women NOT like it with Will exposing his lovely pecs with a fishnet tank top! They even gave high praise to Courtney; bless her for trying to strut like a Latina hipswayer and leg kicker, but to me, her efforts were jerky and too obvious that it was not technique. The face-to-face body humping looked awkward, though, apparently they had charisma together; at least that's what the judges said but I didn't buy it. Charisma seems to count more this year than the actual dance or technique.

Their second dance, a Napoleon-Tabitha slow hip-hop routine, I felt lacked any genuine connection, though the judges apparently saw it, or at least they lead us to believe it was so. Personally, a great routine was wasted on a couple that can't kill it like Katee and Joshua. *le sigh*

Oh, and Will's James Brown solo was … odd. I didn't like it at all, and haven't really been able to connect with the Debbie Allen protégé from the beginning; he seems to like to throw that in everyone's face too, and I think the judges feel a bit loyal to their friend Debbie. So he's a ridiculously beautiful, talented, and a great dancer, but for me, that really all that the show is about. Even Toni Basil admits that dance needs organics and heart is the word of choice for Mary. I don't get it with him. Personally, I thought Nigel's early but brushed-off comparison to last season's Danny was actually spot-on: Will is cocky and knows he'll be successful with or without the title of America's Favorite Dancer.

Bottom line? He'll just never have the same spirit we see every week in Twitch, Joshua, and Mark.

On the other hand, New Yorker Courtney, whose Long Island accent was in full force last night, really impressed me with her contemporary solo. It was definitely one of her best, passionate and original, and well choreographed.

Twitch drew Katee and the duo admitted that they knew each other before they came on the show! Mia Michaels developed a contemporary routine waiting for them that was so deliciously like daily tabloid fodder. The beehive, winged eyeliner, destructive relationship — Amy Winehouse anyone? Katee wowed everyone effortlessly, as she does every week, and rocked her part in the dance. Hell, they rocked it together as a couple, showing the deliciously lustier side of the face-to-face humping motion. Nigel proved he could reach new levels of major ick last night as he compared Katee and Twitch's routine to forcing himself on Mary. I thought Mary was going to die on the spot. Even Cat was embarrassed by him, like he some stupid-drunk relative acting out at in public.

Their second routine, a Tyce Diorio Broadway choreography that was actually his best thus far this season, although Katee was stuck playing another hoochie-mama on the prowl. Twitch had a truly gifted partner to keep up with and he pulled it off wonderfully.

Katee's solo was just all right; contemporary routines are usually rather well, routine, that they can be the most boring of all. You know. Spin. Stretch your legs in a standing full split. Leap. Throw yourself on the floor in anger. Wrap yourself in your arms. Pout.

Twitch seems to be in despair over Kher being gone. His solo was his usual game too, but I still love him.

Mark drew Comfort's name and you could feel that "ZOMG!!! NOOOOOO!" in his voice. And eyes. Luck of the draw netted them their first routine as a Napoleon and Tabitha hip-hop. Mark did justice to the routine and of course, Comfort did quite well, of course. Their second routine was a jazzy foxtrot by Jean-Marc, wasting on a couple who has no clue. Mark was stiff and not in form; clunky. Comfort. Ugh. Super clunky and just awkward all around.

By this time, she had done her solo, and Nigel slapped her with the ultimate backhanded compliment: "You dance much better when someone else choreographs for you." Yay. But true. Adding further insult in a night where each contestant divulged what led him or her to dance, the alleged B-girl came clean and admitted that she went to a performing-arts school and did ballet. "It's a good thing I had some other training to get that technique." Uh, girl, you need to get your money back or return for more classes; you do not have technique.

Mark's solo was a little better than last week. Still, I'm not sure it was enough to save him.

Chelsie and Joshua. The absolutely positive couple to beat for the night. Their first routine, a technical Argentine tango choreographed by (YUM) Dmitri, but WOOTS. Off-stage brat Chelsie was hot, sexy, strutting her Latin ballroom Cyd Charisse legs and performing some naughty chair work. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO… Joshua was into it too. Yummy. And the music fit perfectly as well.

Their second routine, a VERY dangerously technical batch of choreography was the best the show has ever seen. ZOMG! When Chelsie changed position in midair about five times, it was breath-taking, and the lift high in the air, beautiful.

Chelsie strutted in her solo the best ever as well, and Joshua was awesome as ever on his.

I predict tonight, we'll be saying hasta la vista baby to Mark and Comfort, though, in all honesty, if it's Will and not Mark, I won't be sad.




July 25, 2008

TGIF! And then some.

My gawd what a week. I'm glad it's over. As I sit here with my leg elevated, reflecting on things that have happened, I can only say that I look forward that chance should it come to pack up and head west on a permanent basis. Every day, Tony is geared more and more to pulling up stakes as well.

I went to the doctor this morning; though it wasn't the same doctor I saw last week (he's on vacation), this fellow was just as nice and absolutely thorough. I spent well over an hour with him, and then he sent me across the street to the hospital to have an x-ray. I had to wait awhile to get through the check in process, then wait some more to be called in for the x-ray once I got to the radiology office. My boss was having a cow over it all. Like I have control over all this, yanno? There's still a major concern that there's something life-threatening going on inside my leg. At least the blood test results showed negative for Lyme's, as well as other things they were looking for; the doppler too. I have to call Tuesday to get the results of my x-ray.

Of course, the doctor wanted me to go home and put my feet up and heal, but I explained the contrition of my boss. He sighed.

I asked if I could return to the gym and at least use the stationary bikes. Nope. Not yet. *deep sigh*

At least I've lost the five pounds that I gained while on vacation!

So, wow, last night on So You Think You Can Dance was a pleasant shocker! Not so pleasant for the judges, I have to say.

The night started off with a hip-hop number set to Common's ''Universal Mind Control (UMC)'' and honestly, it was rather … boring.

And how truly refreshing it was to have Toni Basil as a guest judge this week; not only is she a dance legend, but she actually thinks before she opens her mouth to speak.

And … WTF? Nigel tells us to vote in this year's presidential election?

So anyway… we had no shock to learn that Comfort and Courtney were the two in danger. Don't get me wrong, I love Courtney; she's cute, funny and a joy to watch, but it's obvious that Katee is the strongest of the all the dancers, not just the girls, and Chelsie has been right up with her a close second.

As for the guys… Will and Twitch shocked many, including Mark with his face frozen in absolutely shock, and a near-melted-down Twitch. I was kicking thinking SHIT SHIT NOT Twitch! Aw man. He gave me a lump in my throat. And Cat. Bless her heart, the way she turned her back to the camera and stooped down next to him to comfort him; it truly showed the genuine affection she has for these contestants.

We watched a ballet piece and listened to LL Cool J. After the bottom four performed their solos, it was time to learn who was to leave.

It was no surprise that Comfort was the girl sent home; she can outshine others in hip-hop routines, but her solos are rote and never differentiated from one to another, and she just can't cut it outside her genre. Even she wasn't surprised.

With Twitch and Will nervous, Nigel said he couldn't understand why; they were the best performers the night before (though actually, Wednesday night, he said that about Joshua, too). Will, I could understand; his cockiness, I think, the continued reference to being Debbie Allen's wonderboy… That, and the fact, that he didn't do the samba all that well, compared to the big-butted Joshua who totally got into the tango and demonstrated his performance skills. Not to mention his odd solo. But Twitch? Why not Mark! Ah, but at least, it was will that had to bid adieu. I'm not going to miss that smug face. At all.

I'll say it again, TGIF.

Good night.



July 29, 2008

Okay, so I went to see the doctor again as a follow up last Friday. With my doctor away on vacation, I saw instead another fellow who was funny as heck, nice as can be and seemed very thorough. He gave me another prescription for my antibiotics and then sent me off to get an X-ray of my leg, because it's better, but then again, it's not better.

Because of the boss having a cow over the X-ray, I didn't stop to pick up my prescription not far from the doctor's office, but instead made a special trip on Saturday.

Yesterday, when I needed to start the new bottle, I opened it up … and … there are five. FIVE. FIVE pills in the bottle. Total.

I called the doctor's office to first ensure that the pharmacy didn't screw up. They didn't. The on-call doctor only prescribed five (FIVE!) pills. *blinkity-blink-blink* To say the least, I was not particularly happy. First, at the doctor for not telling me that it was only a two-day supply (I wouldn't have bothered) and secondly, for the pharmacy to charge me my full co-pay, rather than telling me, "hey, you only have five (FIVE!) pills here, and that is less than your co-pay…"

So, I'm waiting for my doctor to call me, though I'm not holding my breath that he will. I'll give him until the end of day Wednesday. Hopefully he'll call the pharmacy and inform them that the dispensed amount was a mistake and they owe me the other 25 pills (at no additional charge). He will know that I'm not pleased at wasting gas for five (FIVE!) pills and about $7.00 additional for paying them as part of my insurance co-pay, rather than outright for the pills themselves.

On to fun stuff…

The fireworks were flaring on I Survived a Japanese Game Show tonight for sure! Donnell, declared the winner of the elimination game headed back to the waiting room where the others awaited just outside in the hallway. He stormed passed them in a major attitude pout and the others followed. There in the room, Donnell said, "don't talk to me anymore" and then threw a major tantrum every two year old would be proud of. He mentions some "secret alliance" of the men.

Everyone snorted and remarked at his attitude…

Back at home, however, Donnell whined to the boys and referring to a "silent" alliance that most everyone else saw as merely friendship; that male bonding thing, yanno. Eventually the three of them kissed and made up.

Meaghan is feeling confident with her team as they're called back to the studios.

The game tonight, "You Stand Still! No! You Stand Still" was pretty crazy. The two players start off in a chair that spins them around. Once it stops, they have to maneuver along a narrow pathway to two spinning disks, swap sides, and head for the opposite chairs; one collects a set of three keys, the other a belt with a big pink heart-shaped lock (and must put it on as well). Then they must meet once again at the spinning disks; the one with the set of keys must unlock the lock, then return to the chairs retaining hold of either key or belt in their hand. All without falling into the dreaded powder pit. Best time wins. Oh but wait! There's more, the contestants learn. One must dress as the groom, one as the bride.

Since only two can play, Bilenda bows out and lets the boys have at, while Donnell and Meaghan are taken to their wardrobe. Bride and groom, right? Except, she is told to wear the tux, Donnell to wear the wedding dress; he's not pleased. He remarks, "I feel so beautiful-licious." Andrew volunteers to wear the dress and Justin in the tux. I think Andrew has issues.

The team up first is the Yellow Penguins. The chairs spin really, really fast. Host Romu Kanda says it spins at 100 revolutions per minute. "Just kidding!" It looks super fast. Justin remarks, "I was coming close to vomiting." He looked it, too. Justin gets off the chair and wobbles along while Andrew takes it the easy way and crawls. Justin falls on his spinning disk as Andrew is attempting to stand on his spinning disk and falls into the powder. Finally they get it together and swap. Andrew is having problems with the key; none of the three seem to work. Finally, he gets the lock open and the two return to the chairs and sit. Official time per Bob, our fearless judge: One minute, nine seconds.

Now the Green Monkeys take their turn. Meaghan is surprised at how fast the chairs spin. Her eyes are crossed when she gets off the chair after it stops. Both Meaghan and Donnell crawl to the spinning disks, and manage to stand albeit wobbly and exchange places seemingly flawless until — whoops! — Meaghan goes down, but not completely into the powder, and she's soon at the opposite chair, and puts on the belt. As she returns to the spinning disk, she doesn't realize that the lock is at her back, not her belly. It's fixed and the lock is removed on the first key. Donnell hurries to head back but wait! He forgot the keys that Meaghan is trying to get to him. After much hollering and excitement, Meaghan throws the key over and it lands in the flour. She panics and starts cursing for Donnell to grab it. Finally, he has them and both hurry to the chairs and sit. Their time: One minute, FOUR seconds.

The Green Monkeys are happy to win! And what a prize they get.

The winning team gets to spend the night at "the most modern luxury in all the world!" which turns out to be a Grand Hyatt. They also get a personal chef to cook them anything they want.

The losers are informed they will be staying at "The Capsule Hotel" and find out how the less-fortunate tourists spend their evenings. Justin remarks something about calling it sure death.

Donnell and Meaghan are talking, and kiss up; they're even now (at backstabbing), so things are good. Bilenda pretty much figures she's going to be pushed into the elimination round and intends to fight back. The Yellow Penguins are determined not to let the Green Monkeys choose for them.

The stretch limo arrives to take Donnell and Meaghan to the hotel, which was awesomely beautiful. They're taken to their private kitchen after a tour, and meet the chef and his sous chefs, and discover they have a whole personal KITCHEN, complete with each assigned a personal waiter to boot! Meaghan orders a pizza and the chef nearly bowls over, but then composes himself and says he can make it and it will be the first-ever pizza made in Japan.

The losers take a bus to the "tiniest sleeping chambers in the world." First, they're served their dinner; Bendo boxes. The food is cold, the beer warm. Yay, aren't they having fun yet? Then, it's off to their "room" which is a honeycomb of tiny chambers, much like the sleeping cars found on trains. Justin is 6'2" and not comfy at all. They're given PJs, which Andrew says look like OR scrubs, and the one's provided to him are TINY! Someone quips, "It's like sleeping in an MRI unit."

Donnell and Meaghan are taken to their room — the $12,000 per night Presidential Suite. It has three king sized beds snuggled next to each other. Donnell remarks it's the size of three apartments. They even have a swimming pool in their room. Oh yes, they're very happy indeed.

The Yellow Penguins return home the next morning grumpy and sore and not thrilled at having to attempt an elimination game after a night of poor, cramped sleep. They are quite jealous of the Green Monkeys.

Back at the studio, the Yellow Penguins are each given karate outfits to wear and then must deliberate and decide who will be in the elimination round. Bilenda is determined not to agree to put herself in the competition. The Green Monkeys obviously want Andrew and Justin to go against each other, and that way ensure to have equal "man" power in the finals. Andrew says that Justin doesn't deserve to be in the elimination game and volunteers. "That wasn't in my plan!" Bilenda moans, and she is forced to be Andrew's opponent.

Bilenda's in luck though. The elimination game is called, "Clothes On, Clothes Off." In this game, the contestants race to a changing booth and must change out of the clothes they are wearing and into a costume. The costume is displayed on a mannequin, so they know how to dress. Once done, they hurry out and punch the button to stop the clock; best time wins. Andrew is pretty confidant that Bilenda has the advantage here.

Wait! They have a THIRD contender! He is known as the fastest clothes changer in all of Japan. They play against him, and if a contestant beats him, they get something special.

The first costume is that of a construction worker, wig, hat, clothes and shoes. They zoom, all except the champ. He is very slow indeed, and then — POOF! — he vanishes behind a secret door, and finds his twin, already dressed and switches places. The "champ" is first, of course. Bilenda comes out next. Her time: 2:09. Andrew limps out not far behind with a time of 2:18.

The second costume is a devil costume. Of course, the champ does the switcheroo again, and Bilenda is zooooooooooooming! She is out with a time of 53 seconds; Andrew is not far behind with a time of 57 seconds. He now has 13 seconds to make up and beat if he's going to win this game. He's clearly concerned.

The third costume is a Little Bo-Peepish type skirt, blouse, wig and tiny pink shoes. Officially, it's a "harajuku girl." The contestants are told that the champ will go first. He's out super fast. Bilenda calls out, "He's a TWIN!" Everyone laughs; the twin comes out and joins the champ. Everyone laughs more.

Bilenda and Andrew are given the signal and they're off. Wow! Andrew now is zooming; he just might win after all. He's heading out to the button, but wait! He forgot to button all the buttons and has to go back into the booth to do so. Meanwhile, Bilenda has used that advantage and is now heading for the button. She wins. Andrew doesn't quite have the blouse over his big belly. Then he rips open the blouse and sends buttons flying, hitting host Romu in the eye.

The Sayonara Mob comes to cart Andrew away, but he's too heavy, which Romu delights in telling his Japanese audience (in Japanese of course!). The crowd howls. Bilenda is giddy-happy. Me too. I was so tired of Andrew. Sayonara tubby! He bicycles at the end still in drag; yup, he's got issues. Check out that bloody knee!

Next week is the finale; two hours full of mayhem and three elimination rounds are promised that look pretty wild. Man, the fun is ending too soon.

I've been watching a lot of the previews of the new shows. Fringe looks interesting, but it's on the doomed FOX network, that has a prediliction for axing shows after the third or fourth episode, despite huge fan bases. I avoid watching FOX as much as I can these days. ABC looks to have one or two interesting newbies.

Have a good night all… Pax.



July 30, 2008

I had a surprise in my mailbox yesterday; I actually got the medical records from my former physician's office. After nearly a month fighting them.

The doctor did not call me today and I'm very unhappy with that. Granted, he was on vacation last week, but he's had three days to make a quick call to me, after reviewing notes and the X-ray.

So You Think You Can Dance is down to six dancers this week and OMG, it's a bit nerve wracking for me, because I love these particular six and want them all to tie for the title. Yeah Yeah. I know that's not possible, but can't one hope?

Courtney and Mark were paired up this week and started off with a stunning and elegant — and very romantic — Viennese waltz. It was beautiful choreographed by Tony and beautifully danced. The judges gave high praise; me too.

Their second dance was a jazz number by the new exciting choreographer Sonya Tayeh. OMG! I just LOVED the sickness of the dance; it was quirky, fun, hilarious, emotional. Wild. Mostly, it was just awesomely WILD. The judges whooped and fell in love; me too. But, will America love it? I have to wonder, because of its darkness and sickness. Bible-belters likely will not approve.

Joshua and Katee were reunited. YAY! That will seal Joshua in the final four, I have to believe, because of their dazzling chemistry and ability to work together so very well. Katee brings out the strength in Joshua, and as Nigel said (or was it Mary?), it's hard to believe that he's had no classical training at all. Unlike Comfort, who hid that fact for awhile, though apparently that training didn't help her one iota; she had no clue on dancing classical. Their first number, a beautiful contemporary dance choreographed by Tyce that was just breathtaking. I'm with the judges; this is Tyce's best piece. EVER. The two dancers were stunning, remarkable, memorable. The judges couldn't praise enough.

I want to be Katee. *le sigh*

Their second dance was a striking paso doble. I just LOVE the paso doble, and it's so exciting to see two dancers who — get it! They were awesome, strong, and filled with the emotion the dance is all about, and the costumes added to the flair of it. The judges gave high praises; me too.

Lastly, Chelsie and Twitch were paired, and came on first to dance a sexy, hot mamba number choreographed. Wow. Talk about sizzle. Twitch did okay; he's fun to watch and usually these numbers are his doom, but as the judges said, eyes were drawn to Chelsie who just was … wow. Hips that don't stop, fast, agile feet, and that red outfit that was dazzling. She was the ballroom queen last night. Twitch managed to sweep by without a word of technical criticism from ballroom expert Mary Murphy, but rather she lauded high praise for his ability to be "mostly on time" in that difficult number

Their second number was happily a Napoleon-Tabith slow hip hop number that was fun, fantastical, funny, and awesomely danced — though, truthfully? It could have been a lot better than it actually was. Of course, Twitch in his element now had the upper hand, but Chelsie was right there with him. I enjoyed it, though by far it was the least favorite routine of the night, but the judges were wowed. However, the suspicious person as I am had to consider that show was stacking the deck in Twitch's favor.

As far as the solos go, Courtney and Katee were awesome as always,though I think tonight, Courtney out-wow'ed Katee in the solo. But WOW! Chelsie! Not only did she look hot-cha-cha, but she was a wow in her solo act which has incredibly grown to a much more thought out piece, with a twist of contemporary thrown in. Kudos!

For the guys, Mark was his quirky normal self, which I love with a much improved solo routine. Joshua, too, stepped up his solo act as well; like Chelsie, he threw in a few things not-so-gangsta.

ZOMG! Can you believe the coolness of Cat Deeley? Not only is she just adorable as heck, and a great supporter of each and every dancer, she crossed a boundary last night that was remarkable. After Twitch performed his solo set to Midnight Touch's ''Midas Touch'' and sported golden sneakers, golden glasses, and a golden grill, he sidled up to Cat and she asked to wear his gold glasses; she wanted to see things his way. Nigel told her to put the grill on, too, and … she did! ''Oh, come on, then, hand them over, spit and all.'' Twitch looked incredulous. My jaw dropped. I'm pretty sure Mary was trying to hold back whatever thoughts crept in her brain. But Cat was determined not to cave, and in they popped. She didn't look so much gangsta in that get up than she did a comely teenaged girl adorning braces and spectacles. The judges and audience were howling.

''The things we do for art,'' Cat said afterward, while ridding her mouth of Twitch spit with all sorts of faces and much laughter derived from the onlookers. ''That was art, ladies and gentlemen, nothing else.''

It was also cool. Just as cool as those corsage pom-poms on Cat's shoes. IV REAL.

Hard as it is to figure out who will be leaving tomorrow night, I'm guessing Twitch, since he is the weakest of the remaining fellows, and possibly Courtney, though I find that so sad; I just love the girl. But I adore Chelsie, too. If I were the cynical suspicious sort of person, I'd have to truly wonder why Katee was ''randomly'' paired with her old partner Joshua, forcing then Mark to work with the ever-so-likely doomed Courtney and Twitch with the great-legs-ballroom-queen Chelsie.

Katee is a shoe-in. I mean, c'mon! When Katee leapt into the air in a full split and somehow stopped on a dime in Joshua's arms, that was a major clue that she is most likely the one to earn the title this year. Unless people forgot to vote for her. Eeps. That has happened! Shhh, I'm jinxing it now!

I think if they got Melanie LaPatin up there as a judge, things would be a lot different. A whole lot.

Adieu and good night. It's late and I have a great book waiting on me.



July 31, 2008

Happy last-day-of-July.

Wow. Summer is well over halfway in the past. It surreal.

The book I'm reading, er, well, finished up while I waited for So You Think You Can Dance to come on, is by a great author by the name of Stephanie Meyer. Her first book, Twilight is so incredibly good. Critics mention teenagers loving it. Hey, us older teenagers do too! One of the ladies I work with loaned me the book, and now I'm hooked. Three more in the series to go…

As far as So You Think You Can Dance all I can say is… is that I'm pissed. Super pissed. I was so disgusted and irritated and incredibly when when Cat Deeley didn't call Mark's name as the second guy to make it to the finals. It really surprised me because I thought he had a pretty good fan base. But then at the same time, it didn't. I knew Twitch had a good fan base, too, but while I like Twitch well enough, I don't see him as top four fodder.

Mandy Moore's opening group number was pretty and, to be honest, rather boring. The routine asked little of the fellows save for the ability to hold their respective partners in the air, while the women wriggled and posed on the fellows'.

Then we sat through the annual ''the world of dance is so much harder than this show, be prepared for rejections, yadda yadda'' speech from Nigel, although this year, he softened the blow a bit by revealing that all six of the finalists polled over 1 million votes last night. Now, that's cool.

Mary's declaration that all of the top six deserved to win didn't ring true because she'd rather that Will were up there above the others. Mary can just be so … full of it.

Of the three judges' speeches, I felt Adam Shankman's was the most genuine; you just know he's intending on using them perhaps in upcoming projects he has brewing.

Then came the solos performed by all six dancers. Of the solos, Katee's was just … okay, which she'd better vastly improve for the finals. She can't be beat when it comes to giving life to someone else's choreography, but on her own, she's lacking severely, though no one has told her (as they did Comfort) that she can dance better when choreographed than when she solos. But we see it, Nigel, we see it. Twitch's freestyling has been dexterous and playful; there's no doubt. But, he's also just been performing variations on a countless-viewed theme that frankly, leaves me saying, "Ho-hum." Joshua lacks originality in his solos, but at least you know that he plans his solos in advance.

Darling Courtney provided further proof why she absolutely without a doubt deserved to reach the top four last night, dancing her solo once more with a genuine purpose that is far too rare, especially from contemporary dancers. Not to mention, she's simply a lovely, endearing person.

Finally, sadly, Mark and Chelsie spent their final time on the stage as the two contestants performing their best solos of the season. Chelsie has always been at a disadvantage, due to the fact that her style normally requires a partner; a handicap that has plagued ballroom dancers in seasons past. Then, yay, Cat points out that handicap to her and poor Chelsie blurts out, ''Yeah, it sucks!'' I was certain that people would be so in awe of those awesome legs of hers and choose her over the more deserving Courtney, but, unfortunately we saw that in fact, Chelsie does have a heart, and emotions, and all that. Even though she cried, I was perfectly happy with the female line up for the finals.

While waiting to hear who the final four would be, we were treated to a performance by 6-year old B-boy Lil Demon. Cute little guy that Cat couldn't resist lifting into her arms.

Then we had to endure Lady GaGa, whom I think would be better suited with the name The Not-So-Lady Gag-Me. Egads. I wondered what those two chicas thought when the "lady" was knelt in front of them dancing naughtily? I think my favorite thing in that performance had to be the kid in the catwalk doing Katee's spazzy elbow dance.

The finals are next week, and the dancers we are provided to choose from is the technical Katee and the spunky Courtney, and the two B-boy freestyling Joshua and Twitch.

I'm banking on Katee winning, but I'll be routing for Courtney.

In a foul mood after watching Twitch steal Mark's spot in the finals, I shall go and pour myself into a new book.



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