Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spy Adults?

Today I took Migu to see Spy Kids: All The Time In The World aka Spy Kids 4. I thought I took him to see Spy Kids 3D, but there's no way. He would've only been 2. We just must have watched it a million times on DVD. I DID take him to see Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D, which is in the same vein. Anyway, the last time we saw the original Spy Kids in action, they looked like this:

(Game Over? Oh, no. They'll eventually press Start to Continue.)

What adorable children. Now they look like this!

(The one in the middle is a green-screened Jessica Alba Kangaroo)

They are adults??!!?? How did this happen? Granted they are not trying to be Spy Kids. They are basically adult mentors for new Spy Kids. But like I said: They're adults. (For the record, Daryl Sabara is only 19, but hey he can vote even if he still can't buy beer, so we mark him down as an adult as opposed to still being NINE.) Has it really been seven years between movies?? Have we all gotten this much older in between Spy Kids movies? It's a scary scary thought. This was the blessing of the Harry Potter movies. Sure we watched the kids grow up, but we saw them so frequently, the gradual maturing seemed normal and Daniel Radcliffe never really had a huge growth spurt so it wasn't a whole lot for the brain to handle. It's only when you look back at Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets when you're like, "damn, those were some little kids."

But the Spy Kids became Spy Adults while my back was turned. And now I feel really old. Was it really more than a decade ago when we saw the first Spy Kids in college? All The In The World. Spy Kids? Hardly. I'm going to each lots of chocolate and pretend it's still the summer of 2001.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

United States of Rafa 2011 - Round 1

(Rafa's facing an uphill battle this year at the Open, but I still believe in his chances!)

The US Open has begun! It's already the last Major of the year. 2011 has just been flying along. It's Rafa's first match as defending champ. Remember how exciting last year was? I sure do. Those were good times!!

This year, Rafa is having some issues. They all seem to be mental which is kinda staggering. He just seems to have lost his confidence. Uncle Toni thinks so too. Maybe it comes from having already won everything. The only real motivator for Nadal now is to... win it all again? Win just the most important ones again? I dunno. With the great year that Novak is having, Rafa seems just to be having a hard time finding that extra gear to get him over the top. He really doesn't have anything left to prove. Anyway, I still love him no matter how this tournament goes, but I hope he finds a way out of his funk.

This 1st round match was a nearly-three-hour struggle before he beat 98th-ranked Andrey Golubev from Kazakhstan in three sets: 6-3, 7-6 (1), 7-5. It was not a pretty straight set win. Nadal trailed several times. He was down 3-2 in the first set, then 5-2 in the second AND third set. He fought his way back each time, but he easily could have lost either or both of those sets. Golubev had his chances, serving for the second set at 5-3, and for the third set at 5-2 AND 5-4. Nadal broke him each time. With all that experience winning, Nadal found a way to grind through. That's how you gotta do it sometimes.

Next up is is Nicolas Mahut in the second round. He can have an unbelievable serve. Let's hope Our Hero finds more of his dominant form and has an easier match through to the third round. Vamos!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Week 34

(A sweet tooth, but you'll notice no cookies!)

You know what's an effect way to deal with cookie addiction? Have a few of your teeth yanked out of your mouth. You will effectively not want to chew for several days and that will bring you that much closer to another complete week of not having cookies or soda. This is not a tactic that you can employ against cravings every week. You only have so many wisdom teeth and then i don't recommend going to permanent teeth you need to chew. I had to have my top two wisdom teeth out last week and it took a couple days, but I think I'm on the mend now. I can chew, but my teeth kinda generally ache. I think that while the swelling has gone down, there's just a bit of bruising still to get over in the gums. They gave me some strong prescription pain meds, but I've been getting by on just the super motrin. I don't need to self-medicate to forget about cookies.

I will come up with new ways to avoid cookies and soda next week that hopefully don't involve physical pain and swelling. Hypnosis, perhaps? It's worth some investigating!

Rock U Like A Hurricane

If you're living on the Eastern Seaboard I hope you had as uneventful a time with Hurricane Irene as I did. It's great that we were spared, even if we were (over)prepared. Everything at Casa de Owen was fine. Candles were bought. Flashlights were found. Movies were watched. Food was eaten. Video Games were played. Outside, the rain Fell. Winds Blew. The transit system shut down and the Rafael Nadal book signing I'd been waiting for with such joy was canceled... the transit system shut down and the Rafael Nadal book signing I'd been waiting for with such joy was canceled!!! Now I realize that in the LONG RUN my chance to meet Nadal and have him sign my book and my 2009 US Open Tennis Ball I got off him and have our eyes meet for half a second is not worth risking the safety of millions of people by keeping the city open for business until 9 or 10pm on Saturday. But in the short run... I mean we basically shut down the transit system for nothing!!! Oh, I'm so sad to have missed my chance to meet him! Maybe they will reschedule? I don't know. I doubt it. But they do want him to sell that book. So maybe? Sigh... We'll see.

Anyway, the hurricane's gone and it's back to work tomorrow. And after 4 days of basically sitting at my house after having my wisdom teeth pulled Wednesday and then being on Hurricane Lockdown, I'm ready for a change of scenery. The past 24 hours, I've tried to lift my spirits over missing Rafa by remembering I still have a chance to see him on the practice courts at the Open on Labor Day (let's be done with storms that day, okay Mother Nature?) and I've also got this delightful new Hitler Spoof video to watch and laugh at time and time again. Hitler's rage is a decent equivalent of how I felt when I learned I couldn't see Rafa on Saturday.

There's always next Monday for dreams to come true. Next Monday is not far away...

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Weeks 32 & 33

(Pret Cookies. So Delicious! ... I seem to recall...)

Hello all. Not much happened to report in my cookie-less soda-less world in Week 32, but then Week 33 was nothing but sweet temptation. It all started last Saturday at the NY Renaissance Faire - you should go! So much fun!) when my good friend Ellaree offered me some of of her deep fried Oreo cookie. It looked so delicious! But I declined. Later as the sun momentarily broke the clouds and shone down brightly on us, she offered me some of her soda. Again I declined, and told her to stop being in Eve in the Garden with the apple. She meant well. She did. She just forgot all the rules. Luckily, I kept myself full with steak on a stake, roast turkey leg and chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. And delicious fresh lemonade. SO GOOD!

Then this week at work was like navigating a minefield of delicious cookies. Suki was having pregnant cookie cravings for chocolate chunk cookies from Pret and it seemed like everyone else there wanted in on the action as well. Those cookies smell so good and the taste even better. Day after day of the aroma was driving me crazy! One of those days I actually went to pick them up for everybody (I'm so nice!) and carrying 8 cookies back to the office without taking nibbles out of any of them took intense resolve.

Also, yesterday Sukes and I went to pick up lunch at McD's and seeing the Dr. Pepper option in the soda fountain made me we want to launch myself over the counter, slam the button down and start guzzling straight from the nozzle. I have spoken of this before with Dr. Pepper. I don't know why it has such control over me!

There are now less than 20 weeks left in the year. How can that be???

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SYTYCD 8: Top 4 and Finale: The Queen of The Beasts Takes Her Crown!

(um... spoiler alert? perhaps you already heard...)

This is it, Dance Fans! Top 4. Part 1 of the Finale. It all comes down to one performance night and then we crown the winner in the season finale! 4 more All-Stars are on hand! In terms of the contestants, we've still got 2 Contempos, 1 Jazz Hands, and 1 Breaker left to dance for us. Tonight's guest judges are Kenny Ortega, and Katie Holmes. I'll tell you right now that neither of them says anything relevant the whole night and their comments won't be recapped. Also, I watched this live with my friend Sles who was very annoyed with KH for dressing down for the occasion. It's true, she looks like she's off to play tennis on a public court. She looks even more silly because she's next to marry who is wearing a lovely evening gown. It should also be noted that Mary's hair is out of control in terms of length. She looks like she's Rapunzel. I'd flat out say it's too long, but since she's survived cancer I'll say she's free to wear and wig or weave she damn well pleases... just maybe a couple inches shorter? Anyway, time for dance! Each contestant will dance 4 routines and a solo tonight. You read that right. I won't address the solos other than to say they are all good and that before hand we get treated to our annual sit down chat with Cat interviews. We don't really learn anything special though. It's been an amazing journey for all of them, basically.

Here we go!

Melanie and Marko, disco w/ Doriana Sanchez. Dancing to: "I Feel Love," Donna Summer. Concept: Uh... it's Disco! Oof. This routine is not good. It's definitely set to a classic disco song but the music is not propulsive. All the lifts look labored. The skimpy style of costume is not flattering to Melanie's frame. Marko, for his part, looks flat out exhausted. How's he gonna make it through 3 more pairs routines and a solo? It feels like Doriana did not choreograph this piece to their strengths at all. It's a shame that after so many great routines, Melanie and Marko's last routine together is something of a misfire. The guest judges are very gentle in their critique, not really saying much of anything, but Mary thinks the lifts and transitions looked rocky. Nigel also thought it was something of a struggle - especially for Marko. This dance will henceforth be known as the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. Hopefully producers stuck this one at the beginning so we'd forget about it after watching 15 more routines... dude, there are 15 more routines!!! Fasten your dance belts. It's gonna be a bumpy night.

Sasha and Mark, jazz w/ Sonya Tayeh. Dancing to: "Raise Your Weapon," Deadmau5. Concept: Sasha as explored through dance. Ooh, this will be good! Mark and Sasha are a great match. Mark, straight off the Gaga Tour, has become such an impressive dancer since his season and he's in such amazing shape. It's a strong routine with lots of intense and angry movement. There's some wonderfully weird section where Mark movers her around like she's a spider taking part in a wheelbarrow race. It's really a great routine. The judges all rave about it. Mary thinks Sasha matched Mark in power and intensity. Nigel reminds us all of the "warrior princess" arc Sasha has been delighting us with for the past several weeks. Battle On, Sasha!

Tadd and Joshua, hip-hop w/ Lil' C Dancing to: "Hustle Hard," Ace Hood. Concept: N.O.S. Just go with it. It's Lil'C. Tadd is doing fine here, but Joshua reminds us why he won this competition from among the stellar competition featured in Season 4. He just hits it so hard and has deniable charisma. Tadd gets a little outshone here, even though he does well. It's the danger of this kind of choreo where there is not a lot of partnering so the all-star can't dance in service to the contestant. Mary says he brought the hustle hard, but you can tell she doesn't 100% believe it. Maybe she 80% believes it. Nigel still thought Tadd was too sweet. I thought Tadd was too sweet only because of who was dancing next to him.

Melanie and Robert, contemporary w/ Stacey Tookey Dancing to: "Sacrifice," Sinead O'Connor. Concept: unrequited love. Melanie, of course, acts the hell out of it. The movement is quite beautiful and again Robert really comes through as a great partner. It's a little sad though. I hope Melanie gets a really fun, high powered moment tonight. Nigel thought Melanie picked up gauntlet thrown down by Sasha. Kenny says he'd push to the front of the line to work with Melanie, so Cat corners him about putting her in the Dirty Dancing remake. Cat then turns around and demands 20% from Melanie as an agent's fee. Cat is a smart lady!

Sasha and Marko, Broadway w/ Spencer Liff. Dancing to: "Whatever Lola Wants," Ella Fitzgerald. I wonder if Tyce will ever do Broadway on this show again? I hope he sticks to contempo and jazz. Concept: Marko is a nerdy waiter and Sasha is in a really sexy evening gown trying to seduce him. I like the character work and dancing here a lot. They are a cute couple. Maybe there is too much of a full set here. I usually find that distracting. There are some creative lifts here and overall it's a lot of fun. Much much better from Marko than in the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. Mary thought the comedy really worked for the number. The Clark Kent glasses confused her that it was even Marko! Sigh. Nigel, to my surprise, kinda pisses all over the routine. It didn't knock him out. I honestly don't know what they couldn't done better here. Cat's a little baffled too, but keeps it all moving along so we don't dwell on his crankiness. I love her.

Sasha and Tadd, cha-cha w/ Mark Ballas. Dancing to: "Raindrops," Basement Jaxx. What's the DWTS dude doing here? Anyway the concept is basically a naughty cha cha. The execution on stage is really a mess. As part of the routine, Tadd slaps her behind right at the beginning of the number which struck me as tasteless. There's nothing inherently wrong with a little pat on the toosh in a dance, but this one felt wrong. That's not what sinks the number though. There are a million missed hand connections, the energy is weird, the music is weird, and it just doesn't look like a cha cha. Fatigue has set in for these two. This is even worse than the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. In judging Mary's like "let's get real." Too many elements were missing and it went nowhere. Nigel thinks it was uncomfortable to watch. Agreed. The judges are happy that there is still more ahead for these two, so they can end on a better note than this.

Marko and Lauren Froderman, contemporary w/ Tessandra Chavez. Dancing To: "Shirk," Me'Shell Ndegeocello. Concept: Another Sad Relationship. This one is very emotional. It's very beautifully danced and Lauren and Marko have a great connection. I'm so glad Marko got to have this moment after the Unfortunate Disco of 2011. In judging Mary says Marko thrust greatness upon himself. She really has been Marko's champion this season. Everyone has praised the girls throughout but I feel like Mary has tried to not let Marko get lost in the shuffle. Nigel says he's been disappointed so far during the finale, but that Marko brought it with this number.

Melanie and Tadd, jazz w/ Ray Leeper. Dancing to: "Show Me What You're Working With," Sista Monica. Concept: Fight and rip Tadd's clothes off. Melanie is bad ass and is acting the hell out of the piece again before anything even really happens. I love her!! Then she takes off her shoe and flings it right into Tadd! Then she goes on dancing in one heel! and she looks amazing! She just keeps her other foot in the shape as if it had a heel underneath! It's awesome. Eventually she gets to be completely barefoot as Operation: Undress Tadd goes into full effect. They battle and dance and Tadd winds up in novelty boxers with giant hearts. This was a very fun number and had high energy which is nice for Melanie's shot at the title. Nigel notes Melanie's character work at the beginning. Mary says Tadd was fabulous and loves how Melanie can strut across the stage like nobody else. All in all, a nice recovery for Tadd and a great showing for Melanie!

Melanie and Sasha, contemporary w/ Stacey Tookey. Dancing to: "Heart Asks Pleasure First," Ahn Trio. Concept: Oppressed housewives. Each of the ladies has their own triangle of misery lined with a picket fence. I don't care for the fences. It's my thing again with too much scenery. These two are good enough to CONVEY feeling trapped without me seeing the literal boundaries. Anyway, the dresses look gorgeous. The costume department must have wanted to kill themselves when they saw how many numbers were in the pipe for this week. Sasha and Melanie are beautiful together here. I prefer this dance of their to the Sonya one from a few weeks ago. Mary applauds them for being amazing for the whole season and this dance is no exception to that. Nigel suggests they both join dance companies after the tour because anyone would be so lucky to have them. AGREED!

Marko and Tadd, Gumboot Stepping w/ Chuck Maldonado. Dancing to: "B.O.B.," Outkast. Concept: Coal Miners. This is actually a version of stepping from South Africa. Also? It's kind of a weak performance from the guys. Tadd is hitting it pretty well, but Marko isn't as sharp him, so they're out of sync. But after two hours of dance, they are both exhausted. Perhaps this dance was a little too ambitious given the amount of dancing being asked of them in one week's rehearsal time. Or maybe it's just positioned too late in the show. Ooof. I can't watch. Is it over? It's over. Mary sees no reason to dump on them since they obviously are not going to threaten Melanie or Sasha for the title, and they did their best while clearly running on empty. She just tells them they did great. Nigel, however, doesn't see it the same way as Mary, and takes this opportunity to say that a a girl will win the competition. The rest of the panel and Cat all give him "WTF?" faces while Marko and Tadd just smile and cling to each other for support and are all, That's great. Can we go sit down backstage and drink some Gatorade?" Nigel could've been a lot classier here. Not the first time I've thought that over eight seasons of show, is it?

Tonight's Dances in order of my preference!
Sasha and Mark's contemporary
Melanie and Tadd's jazz
Marko and Lauren's contemporary
Melanie and Robert's contemporary
Marko and Sasha's Broadway
Melanie and Sasha's contemporary
Tadd and Joshua's hip-hop
Melanie and Marko's Unfortunate Disco of 2011
Tadd and Marko's Gumboot stepping
Tadd and Sasha's Cha-Cha

Part 2 of the Season Finale should come down to a contest between Melanie and Sasha. Both are so deserving!

Results Show. Dude. It's the FINALE. We start with a top 20 routine that features the Bottom 16 going to town Mad Max style all over the stage to "Wanna Get Hype" by Route 78 with choreo by Sonya. It's cool and kinda awesome that they get to come back and do an original number for the finale. And despite the giant hair and crazy make up, it's fun to try and pick out who is who. I see Nick and Ricky and Missy and Jess and Iveta and... wait who of the guys dyed their hair platinum blond??? Oh dear. The top 4 come out for the last little bit of the song and end up center stage. Yay!

Crammed behind the judging table tonight are Lil'C, Robin Antin, Tyce DiOrio, Sonya Tayeh, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (yay!!), Mary and Nigel. All the judges go down the line saying nice things to the final four. The only thing that really stands out besides JTF hilarity, is Nigel publicly apologizing for dissing the guys at the end of last nights show. That was big of him.

Then we get a montage of the season and I tear up. It was really intense, guys! It was a very good season. Time for the the encore performances selected by the judges. We get:

From Mary: Sasha and Kent's Wall Dance. Amazing again.

From Nigel: Melanie and Marko's Kiss Hip Hop. Even better than the first time. They are feeling the moment in the best way.

From Robin: Tadd and Lauren's Hat Dance. Really? I'd have preferred Tadd and Jordan's Vulture Dance. The first time through Tadd lost his hat for a key part of choreo and Lauren accidentally punched Tadd clean in the face! But the second time through they are flawless and awesome.

Then we get a hilarious clip package of the choreographers trying to explain the concepts behind their crazy routines.

More encores!:

From Lil'C: Robert and Miranda's Woodpecker Hip Hip. Hmm. I'm glad they featured non-finalist routines, but I would've preferred Nick and Iveta's quick step. But this routine is fun and they are obvs thrilled to get a featured moment in the finale.

From Cat: the Top 8 Circus Routine. This one is taped. Presumably the stage set up and intense costume and make-up was not adaptable to the live show with a million other routines to service.

Then we get another original number. The current UK Champ, Matt Flynt is joined by Nick and Jess to do a tap routine. It's part of Matt's prize for winning in UK to perform here. They are amazing! I have to feature it here. SO GOOD!

More Encores!
Mary: Melanie and Neil - Total eclipse of the heart. This one is a SMIDGE below the level of the original performance. Just a smidge. It's still super-amazing.

Jesse: Marko and Allison - Crying Mom Contempo. Super intense. They both are emotionally wrecked at the end.

Tyce: Top 10 Girls - Geisha Routine. Still 10's across the board. For real. The girls are so strong here. Hi Ryan! Hi Caitlynn!

Then we get a recap of last night's show. Most of the negative comments are edited out except for that Cha Cha, which was unavoidable. The recap is mostly narrated by Melanie and Sasha with a few comments from Marko and Tadd. Take from that what you will!

Then it's time to go from 4 dancers to 3. The first one out is Tadd. He takes it super well. His montage includes messages from the three other finalists. I get choked up a little bit. Tadd is gracious and lovely in his goodbye, gets a giant bouquet and walks off stage. Congrats, Tadd. You rocked.

More Encores:

Lil'C: Ashley and Chris in the Prison Dance. It's fun to see these two get a moment in the finale too. I would've preferred one of Ricky's numbers though. It doesn't look like we'll be getting one of those. Too bad! The scarf one would've been cool.

Then the Final Four get sucked into a commercial for the Glee 3D Concert movie.

More Encores:

Nigel: Sasha & Twitch - Misty Blue Breakfast. So so good. These two are great together.

Sonya: Top 10 Guys - Matrix Doors Routine. This one is really great again. Alexander is the one who dyed his hair blond! Oh, Alexander.

Jesse: Caitlynn and Pasha's Tango. Taped?? Pasha was around the whole effing season and he's not available for the finale? It's great, but since the show is live I'd have preferred to see Caitlynn and Mitchell's Celine Dion number. That was really great and they are both in studio. Still this is undeniably a stand out routine of the season.

Mary: Melanie and Marko's Statute routine. They don't have time for the statue make up, but I swear it's even better than the first time. There's so much more between them now then when they first danced it. They know THIS is their last time dancing together on the stage, not that Unfortunate Disco of 2011. And they are so present with each other. It makes me cry.

Now it's time for three to be trimmed to 2. And it's Marko who is out next. Melanie vs. Sasha is in effect. Marko hugs the girls and they head off stage to hug and cry. They are the first all-female finale two in 8 seasons. Cat congratulates him on being the last man standing. His montage is really lovely. I get choked up AGAIN. Jeez, Show. "Money's paper. Contracts are paper. This is our life." Marko says tearfully. He is the best. Melanie is losing it in the pit beneath the judges table, and Sasha is trying to get her head back in the game. They are all so amazingly supportive of each other. Quite a bunch of artists they found this year!

Final Encore!

Nigel: Melanie and Sasha, Beasts Unleashed! This is actually MUCH much tighter than it was when Gaga was in the studio. It's still not the piece that affects me most emotionally of the season from either of them, but it's a strong showcase of their power and dominance of the season.

So it's time for a joint montage for Melanie and Sasha. Again, I cry. I love these two! It's finally time for the final results. The runner up got 32% of the vote and the winner got 47%. Oh, wow. That's not even close. Before Cat says it, I become certain it's Melanie. I would've thought it could be Sasha in a tight race, because she came on so strong these past few weeks, but Melanie has been so dominant since her first audition, I can't imagine she'd get such a small percentage of the overall vote comparatively.

And I'm right! MELANIE WINS!!! Wow, she defied all the rules of Showmentum. She started strong and just never gave up her lead or faltered. Sasha would've been a totally acceptable and enjoyable alternative winner, but Melanie's skill, artistry and popularity was simply undeniable. Confetti explodes out of everywhere. Melanie cries and is overwhelmed with joy. Cat hugs her and closes out the season as the rest of the Top 20 rush the stage and put Melanie on their shoulders. It's delightful. The End.

This was really a delightful season with lots of memorable routines and contestants. Good work, show. Good luck at the Emmys next month. Also a special shout to the youtube poster SYTYCDFanS08V2 who has such high quality clips of all the season's routines, highly organized in different playlists arranged by episode. This is my trusted embedding source!

I'll be seeing you next summer, Dance Fans!! Goodnight!

(Thanks for the Dance, Class of 2011! I hope to see some of you show up as Future All-Stars!)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

In The Mouths of Madness

(A smile is worth a thousand feet of advertising space.)

If you're like me and you happen to commute through the Columbus Circle subway station a lot, then you know how the long-ass walkway from the entrance at 57th and 8th Ave to Columbus Circle proper (where the ABCD and downtown 1 trains connect), has been a long-time victim of construction/renovation woes. It seems like it'a gone through 4 or 5 cycles - spanning the course of several years - where they'd lay down tiles, almost get to the end of the job and then tear it all up and start over. Now it seems the floor is finally complete, but they still have much left to finish on the station as a whole.

For instance, it seemed at one point like they were aiming to create retail space on both sides of the tunnel. Hence they lined the walls with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, presumably so people could see the merch inside. That's the way it is underneath 8th ave at 42nd st. It eventually became clear, however, that all people were going to see looking through the glass was massive amounts of construction equipment and bags of cement. Since that's not pretty to look at, the MTA came up with a way to obscure the fact that they were never gonna finish this project and also bring in a little pocket change. They covered all the glass with advertisements! But not a bunch of different advertisements. Oh no! They did one HUGE advertisement with the same images being shown over and over again.

First it was a horrible Levi's ad. A guy and a girl looking bad in bad outfits in a bad photo spread. Oh, how it hurt my eyes! And it was all over the place! The thing with these giant ads is that its impossible to avoid looking at it unless you walked with your eyes shut, which I don't recommend in the subway (or elsewhere).

Then they got rid of that one and replaced it with an ad for Mohegan Sun. This one took 4 guys and 4 girls and matched them in every pairing imaginable so that every gay, straight or bi person out there would be able to see they too could have a good time at Mohegan Sun. This ad campaign was much more tolerable in terms of design, color scheme and message than the Levi's ad.

But now they've gone and replaced that with a bunch of giant mouths. I mean GIANT mouths. They are everywhere!! And they are TOO BIG!

(giant mouths with giant shiny front teeth and giant mouths with no front teeth!)

(giant mouths with beards)

(giant mouths with braces! giant mouths all the way down the line!)

(giant crazy mouths!)

Crest is responsible for this insanity. I get that the teeth are all clean and THANK GOD it's not some anti-smoking ad because you KNOW those people would be forcing us to look at black lungs and tobacco stained teeth and amputated fingers and zoomed-in tracheotomies given the chance. But still... If the whole station has to be covered in ads, can it not be giant human orifices, even clean ones sponsored by Crest? I'd really appreciate that, MTA, so that I don't go out of my mind or have to change my whole commute around just to avoid them. Thanks!

Alice Jacobs is on Hulu (And She's Dead & Loving It!)

(Watch this!)

My super-good-friend Alex's super-good movie, Alice Jacobs is Dead, is now available for viewing on Hulu! You should check it out. It's really quite good and it's quick and engaging - it's just about the length of an episode of Saved By The Bell and you've watched all those a million times by now. Try this instead! Better production values all around. It has been on the Film Festival circuit for some time now and has won top honors at ComicCon in San Diego, DragonCon, The Coney Island Horror Festival and many others. If you like zombie movies, or just awesome movies in general, click the link and be entertained! Alice Jacobs is on Hulu!

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Year Without Cookies - Week 31

(Happy 31 weeks from the Baskin Robbins, dude!)

It's the 31st Week of A Year Without Cookies. This week zoomed by fast. It was another very warm couple days in NYC and soda was greatly desired. Instead I drank a lot of iced tea. Maybe too much. Maybe 2012 will be the Year Without Iced Tea. Hmm... something to think about!

I had a cookie dream this week. It was not exactly like the soda dreams. The soda dreams have me drinking soda and then remembering I shouldn't. This cookie dream never got that far. Instead I was standing in front of a large table filled with cookies. mostly Christmas cookies. The kind that come in the tins and have sugar sprinkled all over them. Maybe they aren't specifically Christmas cookies but we eat them a lot around Christmas. So I'm at a giant table filled with them. I pick the ones I want, put them on a plate and then head to a computer lab that i think was the Science Center Lab at Wesleyan, and sit down at an old school Apple IIe. But I never actually ate the cookies. So I never felt the guilt. But the following day I was trying to figure out where I saw such a nice spread of cookies and only later remembered it was only in my mind.

Week 32 and I'm not looking you straight in the eye!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

SYTYCD 8: Top 6 - Two Get Waacked & Two Get Eliminated.

(I can't imagine a scenario in these goodbye photos where Cat is not the tallest!)

We're back again, Dance Fans! Top 6 Week. So very close to the finale! New All-Stars are coming at you! In terms of the same old contestants, we've still got 4 Contempos, 1 Jazz Hands, and 1 Breaker left to dance for us. My how the numbers have fallen, There used to be NINE contempos alone! Tonight's guest judges are Christina Applegate from TV, Stage and Film and Lil'C from the judge/choreo pool. Christina is a hardcore fan of the show and she is gonna tell you how it is! I love when the guest judge is a SYTYCD nerd. Lil'C promises to do his best to make the show go over by talking in long tongue twisters all night. We love him!

Each contestant will dance 3 times tonight. I pretty much ignore the solos as much as I ignore National Dance Day, but Melanie's was actually AWESOME and others were good. I rank them thusly from favorite to least favorite: Melanie, Sasha, Tadd, Marko Caitlynn, Ricky. Since all of them are such exceptional dancers. I'm highlighting each of them once in clips from the performance show this week. Good work, guys! Let's get to the dancing!

1. Melanie and Twitch - hip hop w/ Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo. Dancing to: "Roman's Revenge" - Nicki Minaj ft. Lil Wayne. Concept: Little Red Riding Swag. Twitch is the Wolfman and Melanie is about to go all Hard Candy on his ass - interpretive dance-style! This one is a bit weird for me. It's filled with the usual energy and charisma of Melanie and the same could be say for Twitch, buuuuut... I dunno. The track is weird. I keep waiting for it to pick up the pace and have them really go wild and it just never does. I didn't completely connect with this one. At judging, Lil'C talks and talks and talks, but eventually he says it started shaky but improved. Christina loves her and liked the routine. Mary tells us that her brother's a fan of Melanie, and there's nothing she can't do. Nigel talks about the conspiracy theories that Melanie hasn't been challenged in the variety of genres on the show. Cat mentions how they pull the genres randomly from a hat and I swear if it was anyone else on the planet I'd call bullshit, but I believe Cat is sincere in her belief the genre assignments aren't rigged. Anyway, Nigel loves Melanie.

2. Sasha and Kent - contemporary w/ Tyce D'Orio. Dancing to: "Fool Of Me" - Me'Shell Ndegeocello. Concept: Up against a wall. There's a wall on stage and the dancers put it to good use with some interesting choreo. Kent is supposed to be hurting Sasha emotionally, and if I'm being honest, I don't totally believe Kent in the role. His body is amazing and his dancing is so strong, but his face looks young and innocent to me. It doesn't really matter because he's not competing and Sasha is absolutely killing it or her part. The only really negative for me here is that the it's a downer of a piece emotionally, and after Big Bad Wolf Routine, I really wanted something fun and light. Judges: everyone loves Sasha and heaps praise on her. It's well deserved. Christina takes a shot at recently departed Jordan and her emotionless leg extensions, and even at one point says she doesn't know what the hell Kent was doing because she couldn't stop watching her. Hehehe. I love her! Mary and Lil'C are crying through their critique. We are still in "Boost Tyce's Ego" mode this week, so there are passionate words in defense of his entire body of work. Tyce nods in aggreement from the audience as tears well up in his eyes. NPH really did some damage a couple weeks ago! Nothing they say will make me reverse my position that many of those Broadway routines he does are boring or just not well-conceived. But back to Sasha. She is back to being Nigel's favorite again too. We'll see how long that lasts! Nigel is fickle with his sexy beasts.

3. Marko and Janette - Paso Doble w/ Dmitry Chaplin. Dancing to: "Zorongo (Traditional)" - Antonia Goemz, Ely "La Gambita", Guillermo Basilisco and Paco Pena. Concept: She will stop him from bullfighting! This routine didn't connect with me the first time through. I watched it back and the second time I dug it more. the contestants are a little nervous tonight. I wonder if it's just an overall feeling that the competition is down to just this week before the finale. They are all so close to the finale! It has to be hard to stay mentally tough. There are just a couple moments here where Marko wobbles. And it reminds me of the little wobbles he had Chelsie and the wobbles he sometimes had with Melanie. The dude wobbles from time to time. He's otherwise doing a strong job here. I don't really get the story Dimitri was going for, but okay. There's one part where Marko flips Janette around his head (twice!) as if she is his cape and that's really cool. The judges give him high marks, except for Nigel who was left a little cold. Dmitry said the dance was all about the crotch and Christina thought he was a couple inches higher than that. That registers some laughs from the studio audience, but I get what she's saying. Marko could've gone a bit deeper into the physical energy.

4. Tadd and Ellenore - jazz w/Sonya Tayeh. Dancing to: "The Gulag Orkestar" - Beirut. Concept: Swing from the chandeliers! It's supposed to be about two aristocrats who touch for the first time and go crazy? I don't know. There's a chair and and a chandelier and the two of them grope on the chair and then swing on the chandelier. At one point, Tadd has to kiss up her arm and the kisses are such unsexy pecks, I found them almost comical. The tricks on the chandelier feel like tricks. Cool ones, no doubt! But it doesn't really add up to a dance for me. Sorry! Oh, but Nigel agrees with me (and doesn't give Cat a chance to send Ellenore offstage before he starts critiquing.) C tells him he he needs to live in all the moments of the dance fully and not let any pass him by without intention. Christina repeats the "You're a B-Boy! Who are you?" mantra that's been popular with Tadd for weeks. Mary appreciates the risk Sonya took with using the chandelier prop and thought it went really well, all things considered.

5. Ricky and Jaimie - contemporary w/ Dee Caspary. Dancing to: "Inside These Lines" - Trent Dabbs. Concept: Orchestrating the perfect mate. Ricky has batons in his hands to affect Kamie's movement and that means he can't ever grab on to her, or lift her using his hands. It also must be weird for him to not be able to extend through his fingertips in his arm movements. I think he does a great job partnering considering the no-hands issue. He and Jaimie have a good chemistry. There are small moments where it seems like Ricky is thinking about the piece and not fully performing it. He's young, though. I think he can grow stronger in that. The judges are very complimentary. C does a crazy poetic compliment thing that he's known for. Christina wants a little more intention behind all his movements, and Nigel still wants him not to dance so high and to go deeper into his center.

6. Caitlynn and Pasha - samba w/ Dmitry Chaplin. Dancing to: "Drop It Low (District 78 Remix)" - Kat DeLuna. Concept: Be sexy! Caitlynn draws Pasha as a partner again, and when is that a bad thing? They look very good together. Maybe not as good as Lauren F. did late in the competition last season, but still very good. There's one point where Pasha draws her in and it's so sexy, but then she makes this really overdramatic face and it kinda ruins the moment for me. Smolder, Caitlynn! The judges like her a lot, but call her on pulling faces during the routine. As they should!

7. Sasha and Ricky - waacking (yeah, you read that right) w/ Kumari Suraj. "Schoolin' Life" - Beyonce. Concept: Be waack, not whack. What is waacking? Let's refer to the SYTYCD website for an explanation:

"Waacking is a style of street dance that originated in Los Angeles in the early '70s. It takes a lot of skill, precision and control. It is typically choreographed to Disco music as the driving rhythms and defined beats compliment the quick hand and body gestures. We first saw Waacking during auditions for Season 8 then with a Kumari Suraj routine performed by Sasha Mallory and Ricky Jaime to "Schoolin' Life" from Beyonce."

Remember Princess Lockeroo from auditions? Well this is kinda what she did. Except these two are not as good as her. Hey, I'm not knocking them. This dance was her specialty! They were all-around stronger dancers than she was, but it's like if they were doing a tap routine right now not being tappers. Plenty of trained tappers could dance circles around them in that scenario, even if they weren't as versatile as Ricky and Sasha. So for me this routine looks a little... under the level they can otherwise dance at. Ricky in particular seems to be concentrating on the intricate arm movements. They might have done better just to have thrown caution to the wind and had more fun than anything else. But Show, why throw this never-before-scene genre at them in top 6 week? That seems a little unfair. The judges don't really love it. They try to be nice and mostly make comments that refer to things being "whack" or "wacking off." Oh, judges.

8. Melanie and Tadd - Broadway (oh no!) w/ Spencer Liff (oh, okay.). Dancing to: "(Where Do I Begin) Love Story (AwayTeam Mix)" - Shirley Bassey. Concept: A choreographer and dancer have a "bad romance" in front of a mirror. This one is great because Melanie's selling the theatrics of it. The whole routine is well executed. Tadd and Melanie are great together, but it requires a lot of emoting to make it work and in the hands of another dancer besides Melanie, it would not be as successful. The judges love it. They return to the usual superlatives they always heap on Melanie. Also of note: Nigel, C and Christina all take time to rave about her solo (which was pretty awesome and a big change-up from the usually frenetic run of tricks that solos usually turn into this late in the game.) They tell them that Melanie is the original beast, the Queen of the Beasts, a phenomenal actress and Tadd dancing next to her managed not to suck. That's basically what they said! Tadd manages a pretty-genuine smile throughout the whole thing.

9. Caitlynn and Marko - jazz w/ Sonya Tayeh. "Heavy In Your Arms" - Florence and The Machine. Concept: Woman escaping her overbearing lover. This one was very good. I have a hard time describing it for some reason. There is a lot of emotional intensity from both of them. A terrific push and pull. The jumps and tricks are very athletic and fast. It definitely has some elements of regular Sonya, but it's got different flavors and colors to it. The judges eat it up. They particularly enjoy a somersault that involved both Caitlynn and Marko and looked like it could've killed both of them if something went wrong. Christina lets Marko know that he is the Male Beast of the season. Nigel makes up with Sonya for disliking her chandelier routine earlier.

So that's all the performances! In order of my preference they go:

Melanie and Tadd's Broadway
Caitlyn and Marko's Jazz
Sasha and Kent's Contemporary
Ricky and Jaimie's Contemporary
Caitlynn and Pasha's Samba
Melanie and Twitch's Hip Hop
Tadd and Ellenore's Jazz
Sasha and Ricky's Waacking.

Tomorrow: Results! And The Final Four! I think it's Ricky and Caitlynn, but we'll FINALLY get America's vote to determine the exiting dancer, and who KNOWS what America might do given the chance. We'll have to tune in and find out.

Results Show: The opening number involves a gigantic flower that ascends to Heaven. I shit you not. The dancing is actually very pretty and with three couples, we get to see a reunited Marko and Melanie and a brief but delighted-on-their-part moment between Ricky and Melanie as well. It was choreographed by Justin Giles.

Christina Applegate is not in the house tonight. The tension is palpable. Let's just get this thing under way! The girls come out on stage. The first of the girls into the Finale is Melanie!! Hooray! There was no last second vote upset! No one could deny she deserves to make it all the way to the end of the season. Now bring the guys out (doing a congo line, sillies.) The first guy through is Marko! Also very appropriate. M&M in the finale!

Then there's a lot of filler, because the show is still an hour. We get a dance from Lauren and Kent which is their Emmy-nominated Prom Routine, "Collide." It is amazingly strong. These two have clearly been dancing this routine for a while on tour (there is one move where it looks like Kent can't quite over her on the floor. heeheehee! these things happen!) There's also a quirky routine from The Bad Boys of Dance. They are wearing... football tights? I don't know. They have one Bad Girl of Dance with them. They do a contempo routine. It's moments like this on TV when I have no idea what decade it is. This feels very 80's to me. Not in a bad way.

Then we are down to one slot left for the girls in the finale and it's obvs Sasha. Caitlynn handles elimination with much grace. She's a beautiful dancer and I grew to like her a lot during the competition. And now it's time for the second guy finalist. Oh wait. No it's not. Pia Toscano is performing. Can we hurry it up? It's now 8:57pm and I don't want the show to end without them showing us footage of the the contestants all hugging and crying. That's better TV than this song. Also, what the eff was up this season with the All-Stars never dancing on results night. Sure we got Lauren and Kent tonight, but we could've/should've gotten more. Next summer, Nigel. Next summer.

So with roughly 145 seconds left of show we learn that Tadd is in and Ricky is out. Aww, Ricky! Look how far you've come! He's such a sweet kid up there and such a talented dancer. So now we get a few seconds where everyone runs and hugs them and they cry, which is the best part of any results show.

(yes, with the hugging and the crying!)

And now it's time for the FINALE where a new winner is crowned! Can Melanie take the title of Miss Gatorade:Sports Dancer 2011 and also be America's Favorite Dancer? That would be an impressive feat since she was a front runner from the very beginning of the very first audition show this year. Fingers crossed! Nigel would have you know that considering how strong this Top 4 is, whoever winds up on top, the real winner here is DANCE. It has been a very strong season. Good work, Show.

Also? Next week's All-Stars are Lauren F. from Season 7, Robert from season 7, Mark Kanemura from Season 4, and Season 4 winner Joshua. No PASHA?? Well, something tells me he'll show up in the Grand Finale. But no Katee. And no Jakob. After they ran the choreo segments in so many of the initial auditions. That's so cruel. I want them back as All-Stars. Next year, Nigel. Next year.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Name is Mud!

(here's mud in your eye! and everywhere else!)

Today I signed up to do the Merrell Down & Dirty 10K Mud Run in NYC. I'd been looking for a fun physical challenge for 2011 (as the Disney World Marathon is not actually happening until January 2012) and this is it! Running! With MUD! And obstacles! This is going to be fun. And very very dirty. The mud will be gross, but the resulting pictures will be amazing.

I will not be doing this alone. My girl Fabby will also be running and mudding with me.

(we luv mud.)

See how nice we look in over World Cup Jerseys last year? Man, my hair was much shorter then! We will look much worse after the mud run, but it will be fun. And it will give me a goal to keep up my training for the end of summer/early fall before we get to intense marathon running. I'm so looking forward to this. I will have to remember this feeling when I'm actually crawling through the mud under wires in October.

If you wanna run in the mud too, you can register here.

Happy Anniversary, Apartment!

My apartment and I have reached our 5-year anniversary!! My longest relationship ever! Where has the time all gone to? I guess I have lived in NYC for quite a while, considering there were numerous other places of residences before this one.

I do enjoy my spacious 1-bedroom in Astoria quite a bit. Sure the Super is unresponsive to maintenance requests and the lock on the door to Entryway D of my building has been broken off about 85 times (remember that one time when somebody who didn't like keys just taped the buzzer down inside their apartment so that the front door would rattle away 24/7 and anybody could just walk in? Some real geniuses have lived in my building.) and occasionally people leave trees in pots outside my door, and the heat is uncontrollably intense for 6 months of the year. And of course there's Domestic Dispute Neighbor who wakes me up expressing his feeling at 3am every once in a while. Even with all that, I still love my place. And it seems I outlived that one barking dog who used to run around in the apartment right above me, and drove me crazy. I don't hear from him no more. That gives me great satisfaction. :)

My apartment has seen many fun play readings, and birthday parties and movie nights and has never had roaches or mice or bed bugs. Plus I'm super close to the subway. Believe me, I know how lucky I am.

Here's to a bright future together, Apartment! Thanks for always being there for me! To honor this occasion, I've invited Ben Kweller here to share a song about love. Bring it home for us, Ben!!