DWTS Week 1

Well, the first night is over and we have an idea of what we’re working with. With one notable exception, there were no bad dances, which is unusual for the first go round. It appears the season holds promise. However, dance ability often doesn’t really play into the final result – Bobby Bones, for example. So, everything I say here should be taken with a grain of salt. Whenever the American public is allowed to weigh in, you can be sure their stupidity will be on display. They are often more willing to blindly follow some talentless celebrity they’re obsessed with rather than vote for the ones who are actually creating art. Anyway, enough of the rant.

I expected to allow space for Tyra’s wardrobe, but she only had one outfit and it was sedate, for her. Although I haven’t seen shoulders that square since the 1980s or on Monday Night Football.

Martin Kove. Let’s start at the bottom. Possibly the worst paso doble ever (excepting Kate Gosselin). Paso should be a natural for the characters he portrays, but it could be that his characters don’t reflect who he really is. However, as an actor, he should have made us believe. I blame Britt for that. I have no idea what the story line of his dance was; maybe horror movie? He was reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster stumbling about trying to catch the girl. And at one point he reminded me of Godzilla swatting at the buildings in his way. He’s had his last hurrah, now it’s time for the rocking chair.

Iman. Younger people probably don’t remember Mutt and Jeff, but this was them. As Bruno said, the jive is hard for taller people, and he was unlucky to draw that right off the bat. Although I’m left wondering how they allot the dances. Who decides who gets the dreaded quickstep and who gets an easy salsa? It was a nice workmanlike piece, but no pizzazz. Len called it informal and I guess that quantified it (although I think 4 was a bit harsh). I probably would have said “pedestrian”. He’s a bball player and will get a boost from that, but he needs to be the second one gone. Can we arrange a double elimination next week and then get on with the good dancers?

There were five tangos during the night. I saw four nice dances, and one good tango. Where do they come up with the awful music? Those songs weren’t tangos. Do the producers sit around and say, “Well, we got a fast song here. I know, let’s make ‘em tango.” And the others on the production team laugh and shout, “Yeah!”? I swear some of them looked like hustle.

Jimmie Allen was a victim. I liked him. He has personality and natural humor. He and Emma work well together. I hope he sticks around. Their tango was messy, but I like the guy.

Brian Austin Green. The foxtrot was okay, but nothing special. I really don’t know what he did because I was watching Sharna. The blonde hair will take some getting used to, but she so reminds me of Marvel’s Black Widow. She’s definitely my favorite dancer. Unfortunately, I don’t think she’ll keep Brian around for long. The 90210 crowd doesn’t pull all that much weight anymore.

Matt James and the Miz did two of the night’s three cha chas. Matt’s definitely got game. With no dance or athletic experience he went in and gave it a good shot. He’s got natural talent, but Lindsay needs to work him and fix his posture. I really liked the Miz. At times when Witney caught him off guard or when talking to the judges, his real character slipped out and he seemed like a nice guy. I liked his humor and he’s a natural showman, working the camera. Being an athlete he can use his body, but needs to remember dancing is not wrestling. He needs to loosen up. And I want that shirt he had.

Cody is my homey. He’s from North Carolina so I have to try to like him. He didn’t really help himself. First off, that fluorescent suit made my TV buzz (and my eyes). Maybe he’s naturally effervescent, but Cheryl needs to tone him down. There was way too much energy in his tango. It was one of the ones that looked like a hustle. I know he’s glad to be there, but now he needs to settle down and get to work.

Christine Chiu was also a victim of a non-tango tango. Maybe her age makes her stiff, but it looked like Pasha was moving a mannequin around the dance floor. I feel 25 was too generous a score for that mess.

Olivia Jade has the easiest dance, salsa. But why were the steps so big? Is that ballroom style salsa? Even Val was taking gigantic steps. That lost the Latin feel of the dance. Liked her mile long legs, but she’s so young I feel like a perv.

Kenya and Brandon’s foxtrot seemed shorter than everyone else’s routine. That was fine, because it didn’t look like foxtrot and they didn’t look comfortable with each other. She didn’t deserve  the 26.

Melora. Artem did what he could with an awful tango song. And he got her moving. Unfortunately it looked a lot like walk, pose, walk, pose.

Mel C. That was a great way to open the night. Definitely the best of the three cha chas. Good rhythm, not stiff and she worked the camera like a pro. She should be around for a while. Loved the color of Gleb’s shirt, although he needed some buttons.

Amanda Kloots had the best tango of the night. But then, she has Broadway dance experience. I wonder if they’ll throw a “Broadway” genre at her one night? I expected the legs since she was a Rockette. Early on it looked like Alan was toting her. No one called it, though.

Suni Lee. She is my favorite of the competition. She nailed the jive. How can someone so short have legs so long? But more than the great dance, I loved her personality. When she talked about her “performance smile” I cracked up. She’ll be here until the finals unless the public does something completely stupid.

JoJo. 29? No way. I think the judges were afraid to be tough with her for fear of being called out as homophobic. Let me do it, then. As a person who was called the F word more times than I care to remember growing up because I sucked at sports, I think I’m unlikely to be homophobic. That QS was a mess. It looked like there was no frame and they were flopping against each other. It was too frenetic and lacked any of the class associated with QS. I give them kudos for the nice recovery when Jenna stumbled. But no, not that good.

I was annoyed hearing Tyra go on and on about it being a historic first. Well, I’m annoyed hearing Tyra go on and on about anything, but what’s the big deal. They act like women don’t dance with each other. Have they been to clubs or ballroom venues? Women dance together all the time because the men are in short supply. Now a real historic moment would be if they put two men together. But that would give homophobic America a coronary. Although men dancing together is also a thing. There are male pair dancing events. I saw two men audition for So You Think You Can Dance who were dance partners. I heard that tango was originally men dancing together. Check this out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOJ0m9G5PqI

If JoJo wants to dance with a woman, fine. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s dancing, not sex. Although Baptists always said people shouldn’t dance because it makes them think about sex. And what’s wrong with that, I always answered.

Personally, I prefer to watch male/female partners because each gender brings something different to the dance. When I see two women or two men dance, it seems to lack something. But then, I’m an old guy. What do I know?

Right now, it’s hard to tell who has the most edge. Suni is cute, funny and an Olympian. That’s a trifecta. JoJo has ability and buzz. I think that will be the ultimate battle ground. Of course anyone else could slip in as a dark horse. It’ll be interesting to watch. My four favorites right now are Suni, the Miz, Jimmie and, yes, Cody (if he calms down a bit). Of those four, only Suni is a good dancer. The others are just fun.

Dancing With The Stars – Preview

It’s time again for them to trot out the multitude of misbegotten mid-level talented creatures that answer the call of DWTS. In its 30 seasons, over 100 so called stars have strutted and fretted their hour upon the stage and as Macbeth predicted, became a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Over the seasons I have detected a certain pattern in who shows up. There are Archetypes or tropes of the characters. Here’s what I’ve gleaned.

Archetypes

Final bow: Well-known personalities, now failing, who want one last hurrah before the old folks home. Examples were Valery Harper, Cloris Leachman, Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Seeking redemption: They have committed some social faux pas and are hoping to redeem themselves. Paula Deen (nope), Ryan Lochte (not really), Nancy Grace (nuh uh), Tonya Harding (Oh puhleeze), Sean Spicer (kinda), Jerry Springer (surprisingly, yes).

People we love just because: Jane Seymour, Florence Henderson, Dawn Wells, Tommy Chong, Danica McKellar (Winnie from the Wonder Years), Niecy Nash.

Jumpstart failing career:  Their career is going down the toilet and this is their last gasp effort to salvage it. Ralph Macchio, Vanilla Ice, the cast of  BH90210, and a boatload of others. Let’s face it. They all pretty much fall in this category. How many people with vibrant careers take a turn on DWTS?

Boy/Girl band refugee:  When they realize you can’t be a teenager forever. Pretty much all of the Backstreet Boys and In Sync.

Children of famous people with no discernible talent: They get by on name recognition. Chaz Bono, Rumer Willis (actually she won), Sailor Brinkley.

Olympian: Familiar with training, physicality and knowing where their body is in space, they always do well. It’s called Dance Sport for a reason. Apolo Ono, Kristi Yamaguchi, Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Dorothy Hamill, Johnny Weir, Evan Lysacek ( I sense a theme).

Athlete: Same as Olympian, these are usually football, baseball and basketball players. Sometimes you have the odd athlete such as a bull rider, a jockey, a snowboarder, and a race car driver won one year. Usually football players do best. I guess the running in and out of the tires gives them nimble feet. Emmitt Smith, Warren Sapp, Jason Taylor.

Diva: Frequently real stars, larger than life and flamboyant. Always fun to watch. Patti LaBelle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Charo. And who out there doesn’t want to see RuPaul on DWTS?

Bachelor/Bachlorette: There is some weird symbiosis between them and DWTS. They crop up like mushrooms after a rain.

This is your 15 minutes:  The national spotlight picked them up just as the producers realized they needed more dancers for the program. Alek Skarlatos (saved people on a train).

Social Media sensation with no real purpose: The so-called influencers who infest the internet. No one remembers them the next year. Alexis Ren, Hayes Grier.

Bonafide stars: Few and far between. Jane Seymour, Milo Manheim, Tommy Chong.

Heroes: Usually make a quick exit. Often the same as the Final Bow crowd. Buzz Aldrin.

Oddities: People with handicapping conditions such as sensory deprivation or missing limbs. Even the occasional dwarf. Nyle Dimarco, Lynda McCartney, Noah Galloway, Terra Jolé.

Surprisingly inept musicians: You’d think musicians would have a sense of timing and rhythm, but DWTS seems to find the ones who don’t. Brian Bolton, Billy Ray Cyrus, Master P.

WTF?: Sometimes you just look at the celebrity and say “WTF?” Bobby Bones, Macy Gray, Redfoo, Rick Perry, Gary Busey (actually a star, he also wins the Creepy as Hell prize).

There are many crossovers, but you get the idea.

So, how does this year’s crop measure up? Are they hitting all the tropes? Let’s see.

Martin Kove               Final Bow.  He’s a 75 year old whose career stalled in the 80s. He never got out of Karate Kid.

Olivia Jade                  Social media leech, Child of a famous person and Seeking redemption. She’s checking off a lot of boxes.

JoJo Siwa                    I’d put her under Seeking redemption because she’s already garnered so much bad press for being a professional dancer. She’s not exactly alone.

Mel C                          Girl band refugee

Brian Austin Green     A subcategory of Boyband refugees are past Teen TV show cast, such as this guy from Beverly Hills 90210.

Sunisa Lee                  Olympian, check.

Iman Shumpert           Athlete: NBA player

Mike Misanin              Athlete: wrestler. The last two wrestlers were women.

Matt James                  Bachelor, check.

Melora Hardin            Actress                       

Amanda Kloots           I think I’m going to have to create a special group for Talk show hosts. They seem to have one every year.

Kenya Moore              I guess I need a special category for “Reality” celebrities who think they are actors.

Christine Chiu             A crazy rich Asians knockoff. Another Reality show.

Melora Hardin, Christine Chiu, and Kenya Moore claim to be “actresses”. So do a lot of people waiting tables. Melora has seen steady work as a background character, but I wouldn’t actually classify her as a star. Kenya Moore apparently has more name recognition, but a show about Housewives? Really? When I found out she was on Housewives of Atlanta, I’m not sure if I was more astounded there is a show with that name or that people actually watch it.

Jimmie Allen               Musician. We have yet to see if he is surprisingly inept at dancing.

Cody Rigsby               WTF? A Peloton instructor? How did he end up here? And he’s a professional dancer. I’ll have to support him, though. He’s a homey from Greensboro, NC.       

For the first time ever, I don’t know a single “star” they have selected. Admittedly, I don’t watch a lot of television. It’s just too abysmal. The slight exception is that I was aware there was a girl called Sporty Spice. I’d just heard the word, that’s all when Mel B. was on the show. I understand Sporty was Mel C.’s moniker when she was a Spice Girl. And I do remember hearing Suni Lee’s name on the news. I didn’t get around to watching the Olympics this year.

Four of the “stars” this year, if you look up their bio, one of the first words you see is “dancer”. JoJo, Amanda (she was a freaking Rockette), Cody, and Mel C. Doesn’t exactly make for a level playing field. But then, it’s not about the dancing. It’s about creating a spectacle that rivets our attention like a roadside accident and drums up votes. How else do you explain train wrecks like Bobby Bones?

Little Green Men

My short story, Little Green Men, just showed up on The Worlds Within online magazine. Here’s the link:  https://theworldswithin.net/little-green-men

I’m not 100% satisfied with the magazine. Some of the dialogue is hard to follow since they didn’t always start a new line when the speaker shifted. That takes some getting used to. They also dropped a few lines here and there so the transition is awkward. Still, I had fun writing the story and hope you enjoy it.

Update on publications and DWTS

“Little Green Men” is slated to show up on Worlds Within sometime this month. At least that’s what they tell me. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’ll post a link when it happens.

I managed to place “Welcome to Hell”. You’ll remember it was to be read on the podcast What the Writers Wrote, until the site went dead. I still don’t know what happened there. The least they could have done was send me notice like Sound of a Quiet House did. Anyway, I remembered that a friend I met on Scribophile told me he had placed a story on Tall Tales TV. (His name is Andy Houstoun and you should check his work.) I marketed my story to them, and they accepted it. No word yet on when it will be read. Again, I’ll post a link when it’s announced.

The countdown has begun for Dancing With the Stars 2021. It starts September 20. I’ll be posting my thoughts on the misfits, rogues, and actual stars they dig up for this garish annual sideshow. Keep an eye out for my thoughts.

Win Some, Lose Some

Or one step forward, two steps back. Two of my stories slated for publication are the two steps back. Welcome to Hell was supposed to be read on the website What the Writer’s Wrote on June 28. It looks like sometime in April or May the site went inactive. Old postings are there but nothing new since April. Emails have gone unanswered so I guess they’re kaput.


The other loss I’m truly mourning is the anthology Noise of a Quiet House has been cancelled. My story Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep was to be included. The editor sent me a note saying the project had been cancelled. He further said my story was a good one and should find a home somewhere. So I’m marketing both stories again. Should they find homes, I’ll link them here.


On the positive side I have placed Little Green Men with Worlds Within, an online SF magazine. It will appear sometime in September. And of course, I’ll link it here. LGM is one of my longer stories, over 9,000 words. An editor I recently sent it to said it was too long for his site but that it was good enough to have a whole issue devoted to it. The story of our first manned flight to Mars went through many permutations before I had it just the way I wanted, but now I’m particularly proud of it. Cheers.

Story on Amazon Kindle Vella

I have a story, 8 episodes long, on Amazon Kindle Vella which just went live this week. It is a sequel to a story I had published a few years ago. It was titled The Corn Field. It was inspired by the Melissa Etheridge song “We Got No Place to Go”. The song was so sad and plaintive that it moved me to write a story about two people who had no place to go where they could be themselves. At least one editor liked the story and published it. In Vella it’s titled “Somewhere in Iowa” and follows the lives of the boys until the end of high school. You can find it by clicking on this code B093D8YP4C It will take you directly to the story. I’m doubting general perusers will find story as it’s buried under pages and pages of other stories. But use this link and leave a comment about it on Amazon. Here’s a quick link to the Vella page: Amazon.com/kindle-vella

I just got a note from Amazon that this is also a direct link to the story. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B093D8YP4C

Published story

I was sure I had put this up before but I can’t find the post. Anyway, back in November Page & Spine published a story of mine – The Haint. It’s a reworking of a former story Do This One Thing. I had sent it out for comment and made some changes based on what People Who Know Things said. Here’s a link. Hope you like it. https://www.pagespineficshowcase.com/curtis-a-bass.html If the link doesn’t work, just google Page & Spine and find my name under the Authors tab.

Upcoming

I have four stories slated to be published in June. Three are reprints with links already on this site. Inna Gada da Vida will appear in The Chamber on June 4. Googling The Chamber will take you to their website and the current listing of stories. The Park Bench will appear in The Chamber on June 11 and Escape to Paradise will appear there on June 18. As I said above, these stories have already appeared in Ariel Chart Review and Scarlet Leaf.

A new story will be read live on June 28 at What the Writer Wrote. The story is Welcome to Hell, what happens when a middle-aged executive drops dead in his office. I’ll post a link once it’s available.

Finally, my story Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep will be featured in the horror anthology Noises of a Quiet House set to be published on July 1. It is a collection of eerie, spooky stories. You’ll have to buy the book to see the story, but it’s worth it (IMHO).

As an aside, I have discovered a new app Kindle Vella. It’s still in beta and no idea when it will go live. It allows authors to publish work in serial form. The first couple of episodes are free, then readers will have to purchase tokens to read the rest. It sounds interesting so I uploaded an eight-episode serial story to them. Keep your fingers crossed.

DWTS The Finale

11.23.20

I loved the opening number. That is what I have sooo missed. Pro with pro. Now that’s dancing – what a feeling.

Only one word for Tyra’s first dress – OMG. It was something I would expect to see in a drag show. Actually I was walking today and came upon an outcropping of toadstools. I pressed one with my foot and this nasty looking powder came out that looked just like her dress. The second dress looked like she stumbled into a paint display at Home Depot. And what was up with the stars on her head?

The first four dances were all recognizable ballroom dances. Yay. Kaitlyn and Artem kicked it off with an Argentine tango. Nobody tangoes like Artem. It is definitely his dance. He proved he reigns supreme once again. Great tango face, too. Both of them. The squat rondé thing was great and that lift and around the world whatever you call it was beautiful. Still, I didn’t get the tingles the judges seemed to get.

I am still puzzled how Nelly and Daniella got into the finals. I didn’t realize he still had that much of a fan base. I thought rappers had a short shelf life. And he’s 46, old in rap years. I love Rhythm of the Night as a samba and really didn’t expect much from him. He surprised me with decent hip movement for man his age. He didn’t look so much like grandpa at the wedding reception this time around. The joy of the dance shone through. A few mistakes, but his best dance of the season.

The Swan Lake thing of Nev and Jenna wasn’t my favorite of their dances over the season, but it was definitely a powerhouse of a paso. I don’t really know much about paso but I know phenomenal dancing when I see it, and I saw it. But, Nev. You shaved. NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

And damn if Justina and Sasha weren’t killing the cha cha. Sass and cheekiness for days is her signature and perfect for cha cha. She put it all out there, and, dang. Best of the first half. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Derek’s dance wiped the smile right off my face. So disappointing. Tapping doesn’t do a thing for me. I know it takes talent and artistry. So does portrait painting but I don’t want to sit and watch someone do it. I was hoping for something special. Well, maybe Bob Ross.

Freestyle

One of the things I used to like was the final practice when the celebrity would come into the studio and find huge posters of their best shots of the season on the walls. It was always a touching moment. None of that this year. I guess they blew the budget on Tyra’s bizarre getups. Not a great trade off.

I approach the Freestyle event with a bit of trepidation. I’m a bit of a traditionalist (surprise) when it comes to ballroom and the freestyle sometimes goes awry (like that stepping thing Big Girl from Glee did some years back, or the hip hop thing Apolo did). Tonight was a perfect example. I don’t care for rap or hip hop. I figured both would abound in Nelly’s freestyle and I was right. At least I got to ogle Daniella in her latest find from Peta’s dominatrix closet. And just  how many times has Nelly said ‘dope’ this season? There are ten billion words in English, how about expanding your vocabulary a little bit?

When Kaitlyn and Artem came out I expected something worthy of the finale and they delivered. It was an amalgam of dances, beautifully executed, an homage to the season. Nice, but it missed the wow factor. Artem should know better, but then again, he’s never won. There has to be a reason.

Nev and Jenna threw in what I call the wow factor. Something just a bit different. Other dancers have used the shower – Justina earlier in the season, Val dancing in his skivvies a few seasons back, etc.) But Nev and Jenna tied it to the music – Singing in the Rain. A simple melody everyone knows, iconic dancing that could have backfired, but worked beautifully for me. Cute, bouncy, engaging and just a happy feeling dance.

Let’s Get Loud has to be one of my most favorite cha chas ever. Sasha had Justina working it, using all her jiggly parts and releasing the inner Latina. It was sexy and sassy. But she was slow. She seemed a little behind and it came across as tired. It lacked enough wow factor also. But she’s always a fiesta and makes me smile.

I forced myself to watch Nelly’s musical performance. I was appalled. If this is what passes for good music we are truly doomed as a species. I was amused at some of the camera cuts of Derek. He never looks more nerdy white than when he tries to be a homey. Give it up, Derek. Your whole family doesn’t have a molecule of melanin among you.

The final result was disappointing but as I called it. I looked back at my posts and I called it on week 2. I put Nev, Justina and Kaitlyn in the finals and Kaitlyn winning because of Bachelor Nation even though I thought Nev was the better dancer.

I rank the season as a natural disaster hampered by unoriginality, fatigue, lackluster celebrities and Tyra. If there is a season 30, I may not be watching.