Sunday, December 30, 2012

12 Posts I Never Got Around to Writing in 2012

Oh, Blog. How I have neglected you these past 9 months! I had vowed to write 12 posts a month all year and then after March... it just didn't happen! Play writing took over my time and despite my best intentions, I just never carved out the time to post things. Not that there weren't things to blog about! So often I thought "I should write about [insert topical thing that happened here] when I get home" but then the moment would pass and I'd never make the time. But the new year is upon us, and it's a time for resolutions and I resolve to get back to being good about the blog. And here, in brief, are 12 things I meant to blog about but didn't get to. Some of them might find their way to expanded individual entries in 2013, because they involve some great stories that would be fun to tell. I neglected to write many more than just these 12, but these are things that first jump to mind.


1. BARCELONA! My trip to Barcelona was awesome and filled with many adventures, great food and the most walking I've ever done in a city - which is saying something. (People told me Barcelona was very flat. It's not!) and I vow to write it all out as concisely as a bit of a wacky travel guide on the flip side of the new year. Barcelona is such a great city. I'm prepared to give you all the travel tips you could ever want for a long weekend in the capital of Catalonia.


2. The Disney World Marathon - Almost a full year ago, I went to Disney World with my whole family and ran the marathon down there and I swear each day was its own marathon and I cannot believe by the time the day the actual marathon came around I had any energy left to run the race. It was really an incredible event, one I would want to run again. I started writing about the trip on the blog, but never got to the part with the actual race. The next Disney Marathon event is on Jan 13th, so my goal is to reflect on the 2012 race by that time.


3. Readings! I had readings of two new plays I've been working on this year, "Vestments of the Gods" and "Meaningful Conversation." They are still both works in progress, but I wanted to thank the producers, directors and actors who gave their time to help we develop these pieces and the friends and family who read early drafts and came to the readings. Your support continues to mean so much to me. I'm also really thankful for Playwrights Gallery as a place to keep bringing in new pages and keeping me moving forward with a talented group of writers and actors. Hopefully I will have more news about these pieces and some new things I'm also hammering out throughout 2013!


4. The Hobbit - Special Screening! My friend got me into a special screening of the Hobbit before it was released and there was a talkback with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. It was so much fun! I thought we were going to a much less buzzworthy movie screening and was totally surprised by this early return trip to Middle Earth. Hearing them talk about the making of the film was really interesting, even if the moderator was kind of a dud. I wanted to share my advanced thoughts like some cool internet nerd, but life was so busy and then the movie actually opened! Fan reaction to the Hobbit was rather muted, but for me The Hobbit is one of those rare movies that I enjoyed watching it and then enjoyed more and more as I thought about it afterward. Usually it goes the other way where I like them less and less upon reflection. But there's a lot that's really solid in the Hobbit and   I thought this movie was gonna languish in development hell forever, so the fact that it got made with the same creative team that did LOTR ten years ago is a real treat. Personally, I didn't need to see it in 48 frames per second or 3-D, as I did at the screening. Regular 2-D has a stronger connection to the look of the original trilogy, and that's the world I was interested in returning to as a viewer. But the filmmakers should have the freedom to tell the story in the format they want to work in, not in the one I expect. So I like what was done in the first movie and look forward to the next two movies as well.


5. Survivor: Philippines was a Great Season! Y'all know I love my reality tv competition shows. Especially if there are obstacles or the opportunity for contestants to fall into a giant pool of water. I still enjoy Survivor. Season 25 was definitely my favorite season since Heroes vs. Villains and definitely among my top 10 seasons ever. The cast was dynamic, the 3 tribes each with 1 returnee was a good format switch and nobody playing this time was riding coat tails. Also, it had Blair from Facts of Life - Lisa Welchel! And stunningly almost nobody knew who she was - making me feel so very very old in the process. The best part of this season was that Tribal Councils often didn't feel like foregone conclusions. I very often had very little idea who was actually going to go home and that made for great drama. The Final Four contestants were all legitimate contenders for the title, and eventual winner Denise was a very worthy champion. I hope they can keep this momentum in the upcoming Fans vs. Favorites season in the Spring.


6. The Amazing Race ALSO had a Great Season! Something good was in the water over at CBS when these two reality shows were casting and filming last year. The 21st running of the Amazing Race had a great roster of teams. None of the couples were on the race as a "test" to see if they were meant to be together, a scenario which always drives me crazy. Nobody was abusive or gross to their teammate. There weren't obnoxious rivalries between teams. It was a bunch of enthusiastic decent folks racing around the world for $1 million. The challenges were tough and the locations were beautiful (although they went a VERY long time without having to drive themselves anywhere this season. The Fabulous Beekman Boys pulled off the most improbable of underdog victories by clawing their way up from the bottom to finally take their only lead of the race right when they crossed the finish line. I was glad to see my favorite travel competition show in such top form the fall.



7. RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars had a bit of a She-mergency. I LOVE me some Drag Race and was very excited about the prospect of an All-Star season, especially when the cast of returnees was announced via the awesome preview embedded above. But then... the show made some weird moves. It made the Queens compete in pairs and eliminated one team per week. That meant a lot of great queens went home quickly. The whole endeavor just felt rushed and never really found its groove. I appreciate Ru trying to make it work, but it didn't quite come together the right way. If they ever do it again, they should tinker with the format and drop the pairs angle. It did give us a great lip sync for your life between Jujubee and Raven though. That made it all worthwhile. A lackluster All-Star edition in no way diminishes my excitement for Season 5 in January. Gentlemen, start your engines and may the best WOMAN... win!


8. Mark Fisher Fitness - This fall I needed a new physical challenge and better nutritional foundation and I found my way to Mark Fisher Fitness. I jumped in kinda head first into their SNATCHED! in 6 weeks program and I'm so glad I did. I found an amazing work out environment, learned a lot about nutrition and fitness and made a lot of amazing friends and found this new community of like-minded fitness ninjas. If you are looking for a new gym environment and enjoy wonderfully crazy people and unicorns you should check out what they have to offer at markfisherfitness.com


9. Andy Murray - Tennis Champion. Andy Murray finally took that next step and made it to the true top level of Tennis Champions winning the Olympic Gold Medal in Men's singles at the London Games and following that up with his first Grand Slam event win by taking the 2012 US Open title. With Rafa sidelined by his knee condition, Murray really capitalized and seized his moment taking down Federer at the Olympics and then Djokovic at the Open. Now he has the belief and the major titles to legitimize his place at the top of the game. Murray still is not my favorite player, or my second favorite, but I was happy for him to finally get a major and to win for his country on the Wimbledon stage. But now that Rafa will be back on tour in 2013, I don't want Murray winning anymore. Vamos Rafa!


10. In Memoriam: Amy Pond - Dr. Who closed out it's current run of episodes by saying goodbye to long time companion Amy Pond and her husband Rory. I was a big fan of the Ponds, as they were known by Amy's last name. She had amazing red hair. That's basically all I need. But they started to kind of take over the show in a weird way. Maybe because they literally outnumbered the Doctor, the story really seemed to be about them. I would tease my die-hard Who-fan friends that the name of the show was really "AMY POND! ... and the Doctor." and oh how it would make them grumble! But then it was announced that Amy and Rory were leaving the show and that they would NEVER RETURN!! (until the 50th anniversary happens in 2013. They'll at least be referenced. They've gotta be!) I was worried they'd die a stupid death, but they wound up just living their lives in a time and place The Doctor couldn't go get them and where they didn't have cell phones or even the internet. I shudder at that nightmare lifestyle. I will miss Amy Pond and her beautiful hair, but this new companion for the Doctor seems very promising and I'm excited to see where the show goes when it's back on the air in the Spring.


11. Obama's re-election!! Guys, did you hear? OBAMA WON! GO-BAMA! As we are currently being subjected to this fiscal cliff stupidity, it's important to remember that only like 2 months ago, the majority of Americans had the good sense to stick with President O and take a pass on Mitt Romney. I seriously can't imagine what a Romney presidency would've looked like and I'm so glad I never again have to try. I still have the Rachel Maddow Show from the day after the election saved on my DVR. It's SO GOOD. I'm also still so delighted that ballot initiatives supporting Gay Marriage in Maine, Maryland and Maryland supporting all passed and the proposed constitutional ban in Minnesota failed. There's SO MUCH that needs to be handled in the immediate future and for years to come, but I'm so relieved that we still have Obama in the captain's chair until 2016, at which point I'm already completely prepared to vote for Hilary Clinton as our 45th President. This HAS TO HAPPEN!!


12. PARIS... 2010??? It's still on my blog To Do list to write about my trip to Paris from what is bordering on 2 and half years ago. Maybe it will never make it to the blog, but I have to write it out. I took all these notes and it was such an amazing experience, I owe it to myself not to leave it half done. Just like Barcelona, there were so many adventures and such great food. I'm currently thinking about the ham and cheese sandwich I had when I first arrived that made me want to punch someone it was so good. I vowed that I'd revisit this trip in narrative form in 2012 (as I also did in 2011 AND 2010) but I'm putting my foot down in 2013. It WILL happen.

Have a great New Years, folks!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Les Motivations



(I'm ready for my close up, Mr. Hooper.)

After years of waiting for and dreaming about a Les Miserables musical movie, it is finally here! After seeing it this weekend, I can honestly say I think it's the best Les Mis movie we could've hoped for. There are minor quibbles of course, of which I will name three and then be done with them. Warning: SPOILERS!! 

QUIBBLE 1) I was happy they kept in "Every Day" which is one of my favorite little musical passages toward the end of the play, but they oddly cut out Marius's line about not knowing who saved him from the barricade. So from a viewing standpoint, it seems to not be in question that it's Valjean who saved him. But then later, Marius clearly doesn't know Valjean saved him, so why cut the lyric establishing that mystery? It looked like it was a hard cut too, as if they filmed it with the lyric in there and then cut it out in editing. The movie is 2 hours and 40 minutes long. 10 extra seconds of song wasn't gonna make an already long-feeling movie THAT much longer, and it would've brought clarity to this late-in-the-game plot point. I am very curious as to why they made this cut.

QUIBBLE 2) The ending confessional lyric switch out for Valjean. His line "it's a story of those who always loved you" was changed to basically be "it's a story of how I was so awesome." Valjean makes no mention of Fantine's sacrifice for Cosette - and Fantine's ghost is standing RIGHT THERE in the room with them at the time! How rude! But seriously, this lyric change added nothing, made Valjean appear to think Cosette's truth was all about him and slighted Fantine. Everyone in my viewing party was baffled by the change. 

3) The "CRUUUNCH!!!" sound effect that accompanied Javert's suicide was totally gratuitous! He could've just disappeared into the water over the swell of the music and we all would've understood he died. Had the sound of him going splat been omitted, no one would've expected a hidden scene at the end of the movie credits, prepping us for "Les Mis 2: Rise of Javert!" I mean, SERIOUSLY. 

Those are my three things. I'm sure other fans have other issues since some liberties were taken in the transition from stage to film. Still I thought this Les Mis movie was really great. It's an impressive and exhausting cinematic experience. And there were so many ways it could've gone horribly horribly wrong. As a fan I feel very lucky this is the film we got. 

The most impressive aspect of the movie to me is that the entire gigantic cast just seemed SO INTO IT the whole time. Singing the songs live on set really transported them to another level of FEELING IT on screen, and they were committed to making sure you felt what they were feeling too. Hooper's penchant for close up framing during the songs really let the actors' eyes do the talking while their mouths did the singing. You couldn't help but feel an intense connection to them. Below I review my impressions of what I thought the different motivations of the cast were, based on what I was getting from them during the songs.



HUGH JACKMAN (JEAN VALJEAN): Strap in, mates! We're go on this crazy 3-hour emotional roller coaster TOGETHER! I'm so glad you're watching this. We are gonna share, and we are gonna CARE. Look deep into my Crazy Eyes! The framing requires you to do so! I will sing, and you will FEEL what I'm feeling, and you will WEEP for the glory of my performance. You WILL. FEEL. MY. CONFLICT. You'll believe I've been pulling giant ships ashore for 20 years, because I know I believe it. These songs are set high in my range, but don't expect any falsetto because I am also Wolverine and I always go at everything  FULL FORCE!



RUSSEL CROWE (JAVERT): Guys, Hugh is SO INTENSE with his Crazy Eye Technique right now. I'm gonna go in the opposite direction, balancing things out by having nothing going on behind my eyes AT ALL. Many of you may say that this is the path to failure. You may say that if ever a role was designed for Crazy Eye Technique, it is that of the obsessively determined Inspector Javert! But I cut my own path, ladies and gentlemen. I'm making choices here even if you're not getting them. And nobody's cutting my songs, so you better just accept it and stop resisting. I bet by the end of the film, you'll consider my "failure" to be so epic it somehow goes all the way back around to being oddly perfect within the context of the movie as a whole. That's what I've been aiming for all along. (Also, I'm not coming back for any of the sequels, so I made the sound editing guys add a loud crunching sound to make it clear I didn't survive that fall into the river so you didn't hold out hope. You're welcome.)


ANNE HATHAWAY (FANTINE): I'm about to wreck you completely. Even if you think you're prepared for what I've got, you won't be. And then by the time you get over my on-screen death, I'll come back as a ghost and wreck you all over again. For your own good, I sincerely hope you brought tissues. People have NOT been exaggerating. You're about to Ugly Cry. Now I'll be standing over here no longer starving myself while you engrave my name on my Oscar, thanks very much.


SASHA BARON COHEN (THENARDIER): I can do accents, so I'm sing in a French accent to remind you, the audience, that this movie IS set in France, despite no one else in the cast sounding even remotely French. You'll  miss one of my songs from the stage show, it's true, but did you really want the film to make you sadder OR spend more time down in that sewer? I didn't think so. I'll still have plenty of time make you love me while I'm on screen. No worries.



HELENA BONHAM CARTER (MME. THENARDIER): I'm finding my sweet spot here somewhere between "Mrs. Lovett-Crazy" and "Bellatrix Lestrange-Crazy." I know it sounds like a lot, but I'm going to surprise you. Less WILL be more. I'm grounding this dame in something real, and I'm gonna SING OUT, Louise! I won't be chewing more scenery than the songs require. You'll be glad I'm on the scene.



ISABELLE ALLEN (YOUNG COSETTE): I'm looking cute. I'm looking vulnerable. I'm looking distressed. I'm singing on key. I'm so on top of this. I'm living the dream. Hand me my rag doll and off we go.



DANIEL HUTTLESTONE (GAVROCHE): I'm gonna be scrappy and awesome! Let everyone else in the cast be the embodiment of misery. Being in this movie RULES! Don't be sad, Audience! This is all just PRETEND! Now I'm off to collect me some bullets...




AARON TVEIT (ENJOLRAS): I'm battling this crazy wig as much as I am the French Army, but this is a fight I KNOW I can win! My vocals ring loud and true. I know I have the Broadway chops to ace this assignment! I'll act the hell out of Red & Black too.  I'm not just that dude from Gossip Girl! I'm the real deal. I believe in this production! I believe in myself! I believe in us!




EDDIE REDMAYNE (MARIUS): You probably don't know me from anything - did you see My Week with Marilyn? No? Okay... - but now you're hearing my singing voice, and you're at ease. If you don't like my songs, the extreme close ups will give you the opportunity to count the freckles on my very attractive face. But I'm not coasting on good looks, good sir! I am going to sell the kinda-unbelievable-falling-in-love-at-first-sight scenario to you HARD, and I'm gonna get through this whole movie without ever seeming the least bit annoying. You heard right. Marius won't seem annoying. I might not win any awards for this film, but I certainly deserve some kind of medal for my efforts.



AMANDA SEYFRIED (COSETTE): With really no heavy lifting to do, I'm gonna play it light and sweet with an old school vocal trill in my voice that'll be unusual and play nicely. I know I've got an uphill battle for the shippers since Eponine is so awesome, but like RuPaul says I've got cunning, uniqueness, nerve and talent! Maybe my performance won't have the IMPACT! of some of my fellow cast members, but by the time we get to the wedding, I'm gonna make you love me. Yes I will. Yes I will.


SAMANTHA BARKS (EPONINE): Hullo there! I'm the Les Mis ringer you haven't met before, but trust that you haven't seen the last of me after this film. I'm gonna start my leg of this "Make The Audience Cry" Relay Race at full pace, and I won't be letting up until I have to pass the baton to my buddy Redmayne for his anchor sprint to the finish. I am NAILING On My Own! I'm thinking of that love YOU love that doesn't love you back. Don't worry, I'm not naming names. I'm just FEELING it for you! That's not rain falling down from the skies that you see. It's the film crew on the crane weeping at my heart-wrenching performance. Even though I look really sad, you know deep down I'm really delighted to be here!


COLM WILKINSON (THE BISHOP): My dear friends! I've been Les Mis'ing for more than a quarter century now! Since before some of you were even BORN! And now some of you even have children of your own? My, my! How soon the summers really do fly on and on. Anyway, my motivation here is to show you there really are no small parts in Les Mis. Sure the Bishop isn't going to get a lot of screen time, but that doesn't mean I'm not pivotal! And I might even show up at a time when you expect me! Who am I? B-I-S-H-O-P!!! I'm so happy this movie finally happened in my lifetime.

That's what I got from it. But don't just take my word for it. Go See Les Miserables in theaters now. It's worth the price of admission. And remember the truth that once was spoken. To love another person is to see the face of God...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Turnover! Over and Over Again!


This gif has been an unending source of delight for me since my buddy LMM posted it on FB last night. I may never close this window in my web browser. Whatever happens for the rest of the football season, I can look back here and savor this moment.

It's not JUST that Mark Sanchez (who I truly have nothing against and think is a genuinely nice guy - even if Team Rivalry Rules of Etiquette dictate that I must refer to him during play as "Dirty Sanchez") runs into the ass of his own teammate (#65 G. Brandon Moore, not meaning no harm), fumbles the ball and then lets the Pats run it back for a touchdown. No, it's not just all that. The real height of schadenfreude comes the moment Sanchez KNOWS that's what's about to happen, and just lowers his head to the ground in defeat. AMAZING. Seeing the above video wants me to do the below video.

Leftovers

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all. Before I rush out to buy bread to make my traditional leftover sandwich for lunch (and judging by the deliciousness of the food yesterday, this sandwich is going to be EPIC), I wanted to say a little something. All month I've been doing this #30daysofthanks thing on twitter and it's been a nice way to keep a positive attitude and notice small things I might otherwise neglect, and to not get so wrapped up in the perceived importance of my own drama. October is always my favorite month, and I still maintain it's the best month of the year, but the very very end of it this year delivered a hell of a devastating storm on the East Coast and many people are still only in the early stages of recovery. Some people have literally lost everything they own. You all know this. That part's not news. But as my own family continues to rebuild my Dad's house on Long Island, and we go through old boxes to see what exactly made it through, and what didn't, I continue to think about the thousands of people out there who have it so much worse right now and I really feel for them.

My suggestion to anyone reading this, is that as we continue into Christmas Season, we should try not to get super-distracted by Black Friday sales and getting our family and friends (and let's face it, ourselves) giant gifts we don't really need and remember that this is still a much needed time for charity. At this time of year, even when it's not following a massive storm, food pantries in New York City always struggle to keep up with the demand to feed people in need. This year the demand is even greater. In the past I have contributed to Citymeals On-Wheels, City Harvest and The Red Cross and continue to do so. If you'd like to find out more about these organizations and possibly make a donation please follow the links below.


As you prepare to add new clothes to your wardrobe this holiday season, take a little time to trim down your closet and donate some clothes to your local thrift store or Good Will. And if you are a motivated person with more extra time than extra money right now, there are so many places and ways you can volunteer. Keeping people-in-need in our hearts and minds and actions right now is so important. We need to keep helping each other through the winter that's ahead.

Thanks!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Where in the World is Rafael Nadal? Hurricane Edition

(Rafa has gone to work for Carmen Sandiego!)

It has been really weird having Rafa be sidelined for so much of the tennis season this year. He had such great success on the clay, but then his knee injury took him out of Wimbledon (well, okay, technically he lost at Wimbledon, but he was already injured) and then missed the Olympics and the US Open, and still won't be back for the Year End Finals in London. I enjoy writing about Our Hero, Rafael Nadal so much and it's weird that there's been no news for him on the court. Hopefully he'll be back in Dubai at the very end of December. That is looking likely. Then it will probably be the Aussie Open and then only clay court tournaments outside of the major tourney's he has to play. I can't wait to have him back on the courts. I miss you, Rafa!

In the meantime, it's not like Rafa has been sitting at home trapped in his house as if he was waiting for a Hurricane to arrive that was sure taking it's damn sweet time to pass through. No, he's been keeping busy. So until he's back on the court, I'm starting a recurring blog feature titled "Where in the World is Rafael Nadal?" to help promote his exploits. The answer this time is: PARIS!

Nadal went to Paris and did some press. Here's a link to his interview with M6 in Spanish with French translation! He is adorable!

He has also tweeted his congrats to Ferrer for beating Dolgopolov in Valencia for his sixth title this season and 17th in his career. Ferrer is doing really well. I would love to see him break through at a major in 2013!

Nadal also wanted everyone to stay safe as Hurricane Sandy inches toward us. Do as Rafa says! Vamos! (except stay put)

Red Fanta Lives!

(it DOES exist!)



While gathering Hurricane rations yesterday, I stumbled upon a sight I thought I would never see. On the opposite side of the aisle where they stock the bottled water stood the soda rack. On the shelf right at eye level were several bottles... of Red Fanta!! I couldn't believe it! Up until this point I thought Red (aka Strawberry) Fanta only existed in TV ads, as I had never seen a bottle available for purchase in the Tri-State area. I've actually written about this before on the blog, almost 2 years ago to the day, in fact. Now suddenly here they were. And they were on SALE, no less! Obviously I had to pick up a bottle, in case this chance never showed itself again. Concrete evidence it exists. I shall put it on the shelf next to my Yeti's paw and my Loch Ness Monster's tooth.


I am not drinking the Red Fanta just yet. I have two weeks to go on a nutrition and exercise program I'm doing at Mark Fisher Fitness and the empty calories of soda just do not fit into my daily fitness plan. But when its over I might celebrate with some Red Fanta on ice. My taste expectation is already through the roof. Don't I want a Fanta? You bet your sweet ass I do!

Rock Me Like A Hurricane Named After Annie's Dog

(Want to know a secret? This storm's a real bitch...)

Oh man! It's been so long since my last post. Over a whole month! I cannot believe it. It's not that there haven't been things to write about - travel, election coverage, TV shows, general insanity - I've just put all my time into play writing instead of blog writing. Plus somehow with Rafael Nadal still on the disabled list, it's been hard to motivate to talk about the world. But now I'm stuck inside waiting for Hurricane Sandy, so while I still have power, I figured I'd catch up on some blogging, before going back to the play writing. Because that still needs to get done too.

Sitting alone waiting for a Hurricane is odd. Hearing that the subways would shut down Sunday night and I wouldn't have to go to work on Monday, was of course incredibly exciting. I will always love the idea of a "Snow Day." although I know the potential damage of a "Hurricane Day" is actually much worse than that, and I'm hesitant to celebrate the arrival of something that can cause a lot of damage and distress, just so I can sit on my couch for an extra day. Also, the fact that the actual hurricane is not reaching us until late tonight on Monday means we had all day Sunday to gather supplies or flee to higher ground, and then we have all day today to basically... wait. And then the next day we get to assess the damage and maybe wait some more for things to be cleaned up or just go back to work. But for now we just play the waiting game, and as I said before, sitting alone just waiting for the Hurricane is odd. And can get boring REAL FAST.

Here are some things I ponder while waiting:

Should I read? No, if I read now and then the power goes off I'll be tired of reading and then have nothing to do. My book should be placed with my pile of emergency supplies. Today's book is "A Graveyard For Lunatics" by Ray Bradbury

What is "Storm Pay" rate for these reporters forced to stand outside in hurricane-force winds so that the anchors in the newsroom can ask them how it feels to be outside? Is it triple over time? Quadruple overtime? It's a rare day like today when I hope Roger Clark is making more than Pat Kiernan on NY1.

If my dollar store across the street is actually open I should go buy the finishing touches for my Halloween costume and assemble it all today for a trial run, right?

Am I really supposed to own a battery powered radio? Do they sell those at the dollar store if the dollar store is actually open? (I just checked and my clock radio takes a 9-volt battery. Hmm, worth investigating this morning, I guess.)

Is my family safe spread out across the Eastern seaboard? I hope they are safe.

Should I watch a movie marathon today? If so which one? The Muppet Movies? The Lord of The Rings? The BBC versions of the Narnia Books? Or maybe a BSG mararthon? Or Buffy? Or Strangers With Candy? I might spend the whole day just staring into my DVD bookcase.

Are there any new soft-core movies that have been recently added to Netflix that I haven't seen? If not, I can just watch Clue again. Not because Clue is soft-core, but because it's CLUE!!! And it takes place during a stormy night, so it fits the mood.

I can't watch The Dark Crystal unless it snows. The Frankenstorm promised snow, but I don't think it will deliver this close to the coast. The Dark Crystal is standard viewing for the first snow storm of the season and a Hurricane just is not close enough. I must have patience.

Wait, I'm supposed to have NON-perishable food items? I have a lot of perishables. But it's just me. Surely, I have enough food in the fridge that will last a day or two even if the power goes off. Plus I've got a lot of water and almost an entire box of saltines. I'll be okay.

Oh, I really hope the power doesn't go off.

Should I go through my entire closet and drawers and discard all clothes I don't want and make up bags for the thrift store? I need to get rid of this stuff and right now I've got the time.

Why does my DVR only record the first 45 minutes of The Walking Dead?? I'd like to see how the episode ENDS, DVR!!!

I'm so happy that I did massive cleaning earlier this weekend for when friends came over for my birthday so that now I don't have to stress over whether I should use all this time to clean my apartment. Plus it's nicer to sit here in a clean space than to sit in filth.

Is the storm REALLY going to affect the Presidential Race, cable news outlets? It still amazes me that people are "undecided" when the two options are so radically different. Can't you just talk about the actual impact of the storm on the people affected and not the politics affected for ONE EFFING DAY?? I will not be watching cable news today, for sure. 

I should move my furniture around so I have enough room to work out in my living room since I can't got to gym class tonight.

Are all my electronic devices plugged in to charge? I want to make sure I have my laptop, ipod and iphone last as long as possible before I pick up my crossbow and start living out Revolution

(Spoiler Alert!: the power went out due to global climate change!)

These are my thoughts so far and it's not even noon. The storm is still like... 9-10 hours away. Who knows what will be running through my mind by then. I might just share it with the interwebs. Stay safe everyone! 

...the Waiting Game sucks, Let's play Hungry, Hungry Hippos!






Sunday, September 23, 2012

SYTYCD 9 - FINALE & RESULTS RECAP!

This is it, y'all. The finale. Who will take the TWO crowns? Will it be Nigel's Favorite Eliana? Never before in danger Tiffany and Cyrus? Peaking at the right time Chehon? I think it's a tight race, even though if Eliana and Cyrus win, it would seem like we just followed conventional wisdom for weeks and weeks. But we'll see!!

We start with a montage of winning moments from the past 8 seasons. Two to add to that list tonight. Here come the Top 20 intros! Alexa and Daniel come out and try to do a move that goes nowhere, as if they couldn't work it out together beforehand, which seems right for them. I can't believe I thought initially they'd be a power couple! Then comes Nick and Amber, a mismatched duo, but likable dancers. Then we have Amelia and Will which seems odd because they lasted longer than other dancers. They jokingly try to upstage each other and Cat laughs at them. Then it's Audrey and Matthew doing a cute little disco combo. Then Janaya and Brandon adorably shimmy their shoulders and fist bump. Dareian and Janelle shake their moneymakers. Lindsay and Cole do almost the exact same move. I hope D&J stole their move in attempt to upstage them! DRAMA! Then it's the only non-pair as Witney and George come out together (their original partners Chehon and Tiffany are still competing, obvs) and do this awesome clap to the beat move that I love. Then we get Eliana dorking out, Chehon shimming down, Tiffany leaping and pretending to animate, and Cyrus actually animating. I always wonder which choreographer bothers to pose the couples for the end of the intro. Somebody has to! SYTYCD unsolved mysteries!


Cat shoos them off-stage to get ready for the first group number and gets to intro'ing the judges. The judges' table now hosts six. Three we've seen regularly - Nigel, Mary and Tyce - and three we haven't really seen too much of since Vegas - Adam, Debbie and Lil'C. Adam did come around to pimp Step Up Revolution, but other than that, they've been pretty hands off with the Top 20. As always, the judges will be naming a routine they want to see again. Cat also gets a pick. And in a twist this season, the four finalists will get to choose one of their own routines to perform again. I like that! There will also be some new group routines tonight, none choreographed by Tyce. Hooray!

Here are a list of routines I would like to be given encores. Obviously, we can't get to them all in 2 hours. But I think this is a good representation of what was most memorable this season. And even if you thought, as a fan, that the once-a-week schedule and 4th of July and Olympic breaks hurt the flow of the season, I think we can agree there were some really strong routines presented. Such as:

Titanic Chase Lounge - Audrey and Matthew
Lovecats - Will and Amelia
Jungle - Dareian and Janelle
Poison Paso - Cole and Lindsay
Foxtrot - George and Tiffany
Dr. Feelgood - Amber and Brandon
Bodyguard - Chehon and Whitney
Chitty Chitty Hip Hop Bang Bang - Eliana and Cyrus
Disco - Tiffany and A.S. Brandon
Shadow Dance - Lindsay and A.S. Jakob
Bang Bang - Eliana and A.S. Alex
Ratchett Dance - Whitney A.S. Twitch
Tango - Chehon and A.S. ANYA!
Power of Love - Tiffany and A.S. Ade
Jive - Tiffany and A.S. Benji
Suitcase - Chehon and A.S. Kathryn
Leave - Chehon and A.S. Allison
Animation - Cyrus and A.S.Twitch


Top 20 Group Routine (choreographed by Christopher Scott AND Sonya Tayeh!)
We are told this will be the most amazing group routine EVER! Set that expectations bar high, folks! Before we get into though lets give the lighting team props for their win at the Tech Emmys last weekend. Somehow SYTYCD didn't win the choreography Emmy, which went this year to Smash, and yes I did just throw up in my mouth a little bit while I was typing that. 

The group performance is all long dresses and wind machines. And lighting! It's very dramatic and freed from having to compete and just perform everybody seems to have a great sense of release and joy on the stage. Good work Top 20. You were an exceptional group this year!

Time for Encores!


NIGEL'S PICK: Matthew and Audrey: Titanic Chase Lounge (Travis Wall) .
Still a beautiful dance. I don't know what happened with Matthew. He had such a good start, and then fizzled. Audrey lasted longer, but couldn't match the popularity of her jazz twin, Tiffany. They totally recaptured the awesomeness of the first time through though. Maybe Matthew will be the alternate on Tour and they'll still get to do this one for the masses.


LIL' C'S PICK: Witney and Twitch: Ratchett Hip-Hop (Luther Brown)
Whitney hits the hairography just as strong this time through. I thought she was awesome. I don't know why they vote almost always went against her. Consistent Bottom 3 presence, but such a strong performer. I want her back as a ballroom All-Star.


DEBBIE'S PICK: Tiffany and George: Contemporary (Sonya Tayeh)
Hmm. Obvs, Debbie would choose a George routine. She's loved him since she declared "this child is FIERCE!" This routine is good, but I liked their foxtrot more. Like Witney, George had to be saved so many times before he was cut, but his partner Tiffany NEVER had that issue. So weird to me!




ADAM'S PICK: Cole and Lindsay: Poison Paso (Jason Gilkison)
This is the first of the encores that I think didn't quite have the adrenaline of the original routine. Cole seems slightly less intense and Lindsay seems a little bit less expressive in her face. It's still very dramatic though.


TYCE'S PICK: Amelia and Will: Lovecats (Tabitha and Napoleon)
I liked this one a lot, and I like that Amelia and Will get to do a light and fun  routine since so many others tonight will be emotionally intense. The leg flip up to shoulder isn't quite as smooth as it was initially, but it's still impressive they can do that.



MARY'S PICK: Chehon and Kathryn: Suitcase Routine (Tyce Diorio)
Mary says it's about the "Hollycaust" (she has had some weird verbal flubs this season. Nommy-Eminated, anyone? Witney/Lindsay confusion?) and it wasn't initially billed that way, but I totally saw it that way so I feel vindicated. Chehon and Kathryn continue to sell it.

So that's it for judges. That means that we get no encore for Nick, Janaya, Alexa, Daniel, Amber, Brandon, Janelle and Dareian. That's too bad. I did really like Amber and Brandon's Dr. Feelgood. But what can you do?


ELIANA'S PICK: Eliana and Alex: Bang Bang (Stacey Tookey)
This was really when Eliana broke away from the pack and it's obvious why it's so special to her. Her connection to Alex here is even stronger this time through, having danced with him in that other routine last week as well. Who is going to dance this with her on tour when Alex is not there? Chehon? Cole? I'm interested to see.



CAT'S PICK: Tiffany and Brandon: Disco (Doriana Sanchez)
I felt strongly it would be either the Disco or the Jive from Ms. Deely. She likes those high energy routines! Here Tiffany seems a little less energized than last time. I think Finale nerves are getting to her as the Final Results edge closer tonight. Brandon almost misses one of the flips when she goes over his head and simply muscles it through so as not to drop her while spinning and spinning. That was almost a disaster. Thank god they saved it.


CHEHON'S PICK: Chehon and Anya: Argentine Tango (Miriam Larici Leonardo Barrionuevo) This was when Chehon really made his presence known as not just a technician but an emotional performer. It's lovely again.Although ANYA!'s hair is down this time instead of tied back in a bun and while she looks radiant, I felt it suited the style of the dance better when it was contained.



GROUP PERFORMANCE: Hip Hip featuring Twitch, Comfort, Cyrus, and Christopher Scott. "Holy Ghost (Helicopter Showdown and Sluggo Remix)" by Messinian. Concept: Card Sharks Poker Battle! Everyone is dressed in sweet casino get-ups. Let's note before the routine that this is basically here because Cyrus is a finalist - who could WIN! - and none of the judge's picked any of his routines for an encore. Now on to the routine. It's SO GOOD. The isolations are amazing there's a lot of character and story and tough choreo! Christopher Scott is kind of adorable as well. He fits in well with the dancers. I'm so glad they did this one!



TIFFANY'S PICK: Tiffany and Ade: Power of Love (Mandy Moore)
No jive! But I get why she loves this routine. It's very emotional and Ade just has her soaring across the stage.She seems to have a bruise on her head afterward, which I wonder if she got during the Disco two routines ago.

All but one of the dances in my pool got selected. I'm S-M-R-T!


Throughout the show, Cat also presented the top 5 moments from the auditions:
#5: LeRoy, the after-school programs advocate who can do flips I only dream of.
#4: Mom with adorable kids. That little girl dancing on stage tossing he head back was TOO MUCH!
#3: The Ninja Twins - they chose dance over sports because they are fabulous.
#2: Exorcist dancer! He made people cry. Not just at city auditions but also in Vegas! 
#1: Dragon House, Cyrus's housemates get to perform live which is cool. He doesn't join them on stage. Brian Gaynor, who is in his way a SYTYCD All-Star too, joins them.The tricks and animation are crazy impressive. This was a treat!

Carly Rae Jepsen shows up onstage and then doesn't perform "Call Me Maybe," or duet with Cookie Monster on "Share It Maybe." which I find unacceptable.  


CYRUS'S PICK: Animation with Twich (Christopher Scott)
It was just last week, so it's pretty much the same. Afterwards Nigel tells Cyrus, "You stole the season," but did he steal the title? Hmm. He implores Cyrus to keep learning other styles and grow into a multi-faceted dancer. I'm all about expanding one's repertoire, but really, I think he keeps pushing forward his specialty because he's so unique and awesome.


ANOTHER GROUP PERFORMANCE! It's A NappyTabs Lion King Hip Hop Routine! The Season 9 Top 10 teams up with All-Stars Comfort, Twitch, Alex, Ade, Allison, Melanie, Kathryn, Marko, Brandon, and ANYA! I think this one is even better than the first group number. I love combining All-Stars and Contestants. Really great energy and movement. It ends with the final four ready to find out who's gonna be named King (and Queen!).

Results? Are you ready? Deep breaths. The girls go first, and their season-recap video for both girls leaves them crying already. Hold it together! You're almost there! Cat rips open the envelope and declares ELIANA the winner! She drops to her knees in shock, and seems genuinely incredulous at the news.  Her parents cheer in the audience! Tiffany hugs her and leaves the stage. You're great too Tiffany! Cat has Eliana go off and absorb the news of her win while she deals with the guys.

The guys relive their journey through the video package. Cyrus is in tears already. Chehon can't look anywhere but the floor. Cat tells us America's Favorite Guy is CHEHON! His eyes dart up in shock and you see a hundred emotional responses wash over him in a second and it's really beautiful. Cyrus and Chehon hug. Two Ballerinos won!


The judges are all on their feet with wide-eyed faces. But how many of them didn't already know the results, I wonder. Eliana still in shock is pushed back to the center of the stage. The confetti cannons go off scaring Cat a little which is delightful. Alex Wong hurls himself into Chehon's arms as the All-Stars storm the stage from the wings and the contestants run up from their waiting pen underneath the judge's table platform. They engulf the winners in hugs, screaming and celebrating. The console and celebrate the runners up. Will embraces Cat and lifts her high in the air. It's a jubilant moment. And with that the season's done.


What a fantastic ending! This season had it's hardships with scheduling and the cancellation of the results show, but it's hardly creatively spent. It hasn't been renewed for next summer yet, but it ought to be. There's nothing else like it on television and it really is a special little show. Hopefully Cat can win that Emmy for hosting she so richly deserves this weekend. Do right by your Dance Fans, Fox. Renew our show!

Thanks for reading the Recaps! Hopefully we can do it all again here next year!