DWTS Finale

As you can probably guess, I wasn’t happy with the outcome of DWTS this season. But it’s a symptom of what’s wrong with the program. It can’t decide if it wants to be a dance competition or a popularity contest. Strike that. It’s decided it wants to be a popularity contest masquerading as a dance competition. So why even bother with judges? Just let the viewers decide.

I don’t really blame the viewers for making such a boneheaded choice. I’ve embraced my misanthropy and realized that people are stupid. Given a choice, they usually make the wrong one. Then you get the Bobby Bones Anomaly. Some celebrity without any discernible dance talent wins the competition.

I do, however, blame the judges. The scores they gave Iman were not earned. Even Len refused to say anything complimentary about Iman’s dance, although he held up the 10 paddle. Maybe he was told that he had to. But the things Julianne and Carrie Ann said were way over the top and totally flew in the face of what was obvious. His dances were poor.

Amanda and Alan in VW/PD fusion

It was a seamless fusion. I loved it. I could have done without the flashing lights, however. It made parts of it hard to see. And that red dress. Wow!

Cody and Cheryl in CC/PD fusion

The boy knows how to throw down some paso. The cha cha was good, but not as engaging as the PD. He just looks odd or ungainly when he’s doing cha cha.

JoJo and Jenna in CC/T fusion

Flawless performance of tango but kicked into high gear for the cha cha. Damn, but they were working it. One of my favorite songs and a cute little switched-lead coffee-grinder at the end. I loved Bruno’s comment, “Freaking awesome!”

Iman and Daniella in CC/FT fusion

I noticed they stuck mostly to cha cha. The little foxtrot he did was a mix of mediocre and just plain awful. No body flight at all and again, he looks terrible in hold. I have no idea why the judges awarded him such high scores unless they had been ordered to. I’ve long thought the outcomes were fixed.

The Freestyles were fun, enjoyable, eye popping and WFT in turn.

Cody’s in your face mess. Uh, no. It lacked sharpness and was just a mishmash with no focus. Kinda fun though.

Amanda’s freestyle was so joyous; a celebration of the end of the season. I loved the elements of traditional ballroom.

JoJo knocked it out of the ballpark. That’s what I was looking for. Lots of sass and pizzazz. A glam-flash extravaganza for the ages. They even got the boy pros to dance in hold with each other. It was the dance of the night. My absolute fave.

Iman did some hip-hop. I saw nothing special. Maybe I’m just not woke enough.

DWTS Week 9 Semi-Finals

Another episode of Why the Hell Did They Do That?

What an awful choice the judges had. To pick between Suni and Amanda. I think they made the right decision, but it was still a terrible thing to have to do. How the hell has a talentless dance hack like Iman survived this far in the show? Just a byproduct of people voting without giving a thought to the person’s dance ability. Like David Ross and Bobby Bones.

But we soldier on.

I found a weird bit of synchronicity in the pairings of judges and dancers for the redemption round.

Cody & Bruno            gay dancer & gay judge

Melora & Len             oldest dancer & oldest judge

Suni & Carrie Ann      Asian dancer & Asian judge

JoJo & Len                  youngest dancer & oldest judge

Iman & Derek             blackest dancer & whitest judge

Amanda & Len           really couldn’t find anything for this pair

The Men

Cody started the show right with a blazing salsa. It was high energy, and he was really feeling it. He was working those hips for all he was worth, but the body roll he did in the package never made it to the floor. Too bad, it was sharp. I especially liked Cheryl’s head slide down his leg. Fun to watch. He looks kinda odd though. As a fitness trainer I expect him to be thinner, leaner. But in profile during the dances he looks thick, and it makes it seem like he’s lumbering around, almost as much as Iman. It really came out in his Argentine tango. It looked like they didn’t fit together. That made it lack fluidity and seem a bit klunky. The fast parts were hot, though.

Iman just needs to go. And I don’t mean into the finals. We are faced with another year of a person with little dance ability taking the prize. I complain about it nearly every year, and I probably will keep on. Len keeps calling it a dance competition and Carrie Ann pulls that stupid lift rule from dance competitions, so I expect it to be decided like a dance competition: whoever has the most political pull wins. No, I expect the winner to be able to go on the floor and give a good dance performance. Iman cannot. His tango was passable for a bronze recital, but unacceptable for this level of competition. He was less awkward than previous outings, but still hunched over and still stuck his butt out. The dance was again mostly Daniella. I could hardly take my eyes off her. Yowza. As for the Jazz, some nice acrobatics. That’s her strong suit. Most of their high scores came from the judges scoring her rather than him. There wasn’t much of what looked like dance to me in their routine. But then the music sucked, too. How do you dance to rap?

The Women

I loved the rolling hips in Melora and Artem’s rumba. Lovely figure eights with the promise of sensual delight. And Melora looked good, too. Just kidding. It was one of her best dances. But what was with that weird clomping flat-footed walk?

Suni hit that foxtrot out of the ballpark. OMG, but I loved it! She finally showed up for the dance. This was the Suni I wish we’d seen all season. It was imbued with joyful, in yo’ face, kiss my ass insouciance that just sparkled. I was worried at the start with the song choice because Derek’s performance of that a few seasons back was iconic. It seems like there might be room for two icons on that platform. Well done.

Amanda stepped up and really worked the tango. I loved her frame. There was plenty of sharp footwork. And those legs! At first, the music didn’t really set a tango feel to the stage, but then it kicked in much like Assassin’s Tango and just rocked. The lighting and camera angles made some parts of it hard to see, but I disagree with Carrie Ann about the foot coming off the floor. After Suni, it was my second favorite of the redemption dances.

JoJo’s Argentine tango was technical perfection. I loved the music and laughed out loud when they changed who was leading. Very cheeky. My only complaint comes from my traditionalism. The Argentine tango requires a certain masculine flavor for it to seem authentic to me. That’s why two men can do it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6-6kN79oIA

JoJo had plenty of bravado, as Len said, but not enough to carry it off. I may be unfair in that assessment, but it’s how I feel. Otherwise, a flawless performance.

The other four dances were contemporary. I used to not like contemporary because it isn’t ballroom and this is supposed to be a ballroom competition. After many seasons of watching So You Think You Can Dance, I’ve come to a better understanding and appreciation of contemporary. It can be moving and appealing. It’s still not ballroom and shouldn’t be on DWTS. Much of contemporary, to me, just looks like people jumping around in their pajamas for no reason. Others tell emotionally wrenching stories that leave an effect long after they’re gone. Unfortunately, Melora’s contemporary was the former type. None of the moves wowed me and I felt no emotional connection.

The other three – Suni, JoJo, and Amanda moved me, but for different reasons. I hate when they get all weepy. Yeah, we’ve all lost people. Get on with it. But Suni’s contemporary was everything that Melora’s wasn’t. The opening flip to a stand was spectacular. All the moves were powerful and filled with emotion. Almost made me cry.

While Suni’s was about the power, JoJo’s was more about the movement. Her figures were out of this world. Such connection with her partner. And the words of the song made a teardrop fall. Not sure I agree with Derek that it was the best contemporary ever on the show, but it ranks up there.

Amanda took the prize among contemporaries for me. Not only were the moves wonderful, but they really conveyed a story, a heartbreaking one and the emotion came through loud and clear. I remember her husband’s battle and death. Aside from whether it was appropriate for it all to play out on social media, the fact is, it did. And it was devastating to watch. I was as moved by it as everyone else. I’m a romantic at heart, not that you’d ever guess. This one left me a weepy mess. It was a shot right through the heart. Maybe not the best DANCE of the night, but possibly the BEST dance. There is a difference.

So we have a very unlikely crew going into the finals. I’d expected JoJo and Amanda. I don’t think anyone expected Iman and Cody.

Discounting a Bobby Bones level anomaly, I don’t see either Iman or Cody being a challenger. I think it comes down to JoJo and Amanda. Not so much on how well they dance. I’m pretty sure that, barring some disaster, they both turn in two 40 point performances next week. The key is how well their fans turn out, and how the fans of the defunct performers throw their support. I feel Suni’s will go toward JoJo and Melora’s will go to Amanda. So again, maybe an even split. JoJo seems to have had the vibe since day one, so I’ll go out on a limb and predict her as the winner, but in my heart of hearts, I like Amanda.

A word about the Freestyle event. I pretty much hate it. Sometimes they come up with something that looks dancey and works (Like Drew Lachey’s country routine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbmqN_HUe90 It still gives me chills. And Amber and Derek https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3aIaS7QlFQ ).

So many times it’s just a mess that doesn’t even resemble dancing like Apolo Ohno’s hip-hop mess. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhaQTYClcUA

I imagine Daniella will have lots and lots of lifts. She’s kind of a one trick pony in that regard.

Cheryl will try to do something that doesn’t make Cody look awkward. May be hard to find.

Alan has a history of wringing magic out of his partners at the end. He was in the same position last season with a similar partner. He’s also made the finals or semi-finals twice in addition. That’s a pretty good record for the five seasons he’s been on.

I don’t recall how Jenna has done other than she won once.

So, Jenna and Alan have won once, and Cheryl has two trophies. Daniella’s a newbie. It’s anybody’s guess.

DWTS Week 8 Janet Jackson

After two epic weeks of great music this was a letdown. I’m sure Janet Jackson is a great entertainer and has won more accolades than I have, but she’s not my generation’s music. I mostly know her as Michael’s sister who had her tits exposed at the Superbowl. I didn’t recognize a single song they used during the program. I have to give props to the music people that they only went with jazz once and the rest were ballroom oriented, even if the music wasn’t. I mean Feedback doesn’t resemble a salsa in any form.

We’re getting to the part of the season where my misanthropy comes out full force. I just get annoyed when good dancers are sent home and stumblebums are retained. If the bottom three had been lined up and the judges were told to save one couple, I feel sure it would have been unanimous for Olivia. I understand people might hate her mother, but it’s hard to believe that people wouldn’t vote for her because of that. And she has Val. People should vote for her for that alone. He’s the God of Dance. And she’s what the competition should be about. She and Melora are the only two of the top six with no dance experience. And they were going gangbusters. Minus the stupid public I was giving Olivia an even chance of winning the whole shebang.

And in what alternate, bizarro universe is Iman a better dancer than Olivia? Or Mel C or Kenya or even Jimmie? He’s not. He lumbers around stage like Herman Munster and bobble-headed idiots vote for him week after week. That’s my problem with DWTS. They let idiotic people vote. The public has shown time and again that they are incapable of making rational decisions when given an opportunity to vote.

Aside from the awful results, last night was mostly ho-hum. None of the dances wowed me, some were a snooze.

I don’t know if it’s serendipity or prophetic that the top four dancers from the first round (three 40s and a 39) were not pitted against each other in the dance off, and each won their second round.

 My thoughts on the dance offs.

Jimmie versus Suni in salsa

He started right in from the first note, working it in his Jimmie style. Suni stood around like she was wondering what happened. Throughout the first half of their song Jimmie was dancing his heart out, but every time it cut to Suni we would see Sasha doing something fancy and Suni standing there watching. He finally let her do some acrobatics (that’s not actually dancing). By the end she was dancing in that awkward way she has. I had to give it to Jimmie. The judges were blind and gave it to Suni.

JoJo versus Olivia in rumba

JoJo was dancing too hard, rather than graceful as rumba should be. And what was with all the weird faces? Olivia was grace personified but kept tucking her chin. I gave it to her as a slam dunk. Once again, the judges missed the obvious winner.

Melora versus Iman in foxtrot

She was divine and he was just plain awkward. Melora by a mile. It was almost embarrassing. Even the judges had to see this one right.

Amanda versus Cody in cha cha

At first, I figured Cody was in for a drubbing against someone like Amanda, but he came through. I was pleased to see he had no heel leads. Amanda didn’t seem to care much about technique. I called it a tie. Of course, the judges missed it by a wide margin.

Of the three “perfect routines”, I liked Amanda’s the best. Even though it was jazz. There was plenty of jazz hands going on, but she owned the floor. She brought it like nobody’s business, and I loved the lifts.

Suni, on the other hand, lacked fluidity and sexiness. It was so jerky, kind of like all her dances recently. There was a definite misfire on the rear leg lift that the judges either didn’t see or ignored. Actually I don’t know what they were watching. Maybe they were watching America’s Got Dance on their cell phones.

Melora was a little better. She’s got some spice for an old gal. I liked the wicked skirt work, but it devolved into flailing. Looked like she was running out of steam at the end. And what was with the Oscar speech?

JoJo in fourth place on the board was a new experience. I was impressed with her strength. Those tiny dancers are all muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. I saw almost no salsa content, but then the song wasn’t even close to being a salsa. What she did was fun, though.

The doomed Olivia had one of my favorite dances. Val is at his best in Argentine tango and foxtrot. I loved the sharp flicks and rondés. And that opening dip was outstanding. I knew Len wouldn’t like the table and Val knew he wouldn’t like the table. It didn’t add much, so why do they goad Len like that?

Cody’s come out of nowhere the past few weeks to make himself known. I credit Cheryl. She can make anyone look like a dancer. I loved his form. I kept thinking what a mess Iman made of his paso and how Cody embodied it. Len got it right when he said it was “dominant”. He had power, presence, and menace. His best dance so far.

I have no idea why Iman is still here. He is way out of his depth. There was very little cha cha going on in his take on Rhythm Nation. He did some hip-hop groove thing about as well as grandpa at the wedding, but in hold he’s just awful. Derek proved that Witney doesn’t have the brainless blond moniker cornered. His best line: You gotta be memorable ‘cause that’s what people remember.

Poor Jimmie just couldn’t make it any longer. He was definitely feeling the funky stuff in his cha cha, but the heel leads were awful. I liked the side by side, but he was stiffer in hold than I’ve ever seen. Sorry to see him go, but it was time.

So we’re down to six and next week is the “semi-finals”. Are they doing another double elimination or going into the finals with five couples? They’ve never done that before. It’s always been three or four couples. And I haven’t heard what next week’s gimmick is. All they’ve missed so far is the My Most Miserable Memory weeper. I desperately hope we don’t get that.

It looks like Suni, Melora, Amanda, and JoJo are squaring off for the mirror ball. Suni has the Olympic crowd, JoJo has the Disney kids, I have no idea who follows Amanda and Melora. Amanda is daytime TV, so I guess housebound people see her. Melora was (is?) on a weekly show so people saw (see?) her at night. I don’t know what show she was on or if it’s still on or available in reruns.

Personally, I like Amanda. Suni just looks awkward when she dances and has this weird jerky thing going on. Melora seems to edit her moves, perhaps saving energy. JoJo is just too hyper for me. Watching her is like eating a fried twinkie rolled in sugar.

In the best of all possible worlds, next week would be another double elimination and they’d send home Iman and Suni. I want my homeboy Cody to make the finals.

Week 7 QUEEN

OMG! I love me some Queen! What a great show. From opening with Bohemian Rhapsody to the We Are the Champions finale, it was a first rate Queenfest. All my favorite songs. The only downside was losing The Miz. I hated to see it but knew it was time. Fun while it lasted. Reminded me of an old Calvin & Hobbes cartoon.

 I loved his Dad. The grace of foxtrot isn’t something I pair with The Miz but, damn if he didn’t pull it off. While the chin pointed at the ceiling was over the top, he actually had grace and elegance. And that outfit Witney had on. Red sparkles – what there was of it. Hard to look anywhere else.

The relays shook up the race. Jimmie went from tied for second place to fourth and Olivia stole the lead from JoJo. Jimmie, JoJo, Iman, and The Miz were the only ones who didn’t get any relay points. Interesting. And how the hell did JoJo end up in the bottom two?

The winner of the night was Olivia. Her and Val’s quickstep was picture perfect and way cool. I love watching Val do smooth dances. He’s just perfect. And who’s monitoring Len’s meds? He needs a checkup.

I feared two females doing tango might seem odd but, damn, that was hot. I loved Jenna’s sweep and JoJo attacked the floor. Not a soft tango, but an aggressive one. Loved it. JoJo’s doing very mature dancing for a kid. Sorry, I think of her as a kid.

Melora refuses to go quietly. Looks like she’s in it for the long run. Artem can foxtrot like nobody’s business and took Melora along for the ride. They took their time getting there, but once in hold it moved like a dream. The queen and her prince costuming was spot on. Kudos to Artem for not waxing, and I loved how he ignored Tyra’s inane question.

Jimmie’s another one who refuses to die. After the first round of scoring he was in second place. I don’t think anyone was more surprised than him, but he earned it. His VW wasn’t as floaty as I’d like but his lines gave me chillbumps. Such controlled power. In the opening sequence when it looked like he was going in for a kiss, I laughed out loud when he looked away with what’s known as a shit-eating grin. He’s gone several weeks without crying. Now if he would just lose the do-rag.

Amanda must have been surprised to find herself in fifth place after all the points were counted. I loved her jive with my favorite combinations of kicks and flicks. She had more energy going on than Alan. There was one little piece at the end where she was a hair ahead of Alan, but the judges are idiots. And when did lifts become illegal in jive?

Cody’s finally getting some love. He can’t get above midway, but he’s avoided the cellar. I guess the celebrities go in for the sob stories because they think it humanizes them. Yeah, it’s sad, but that’s not why I’m here. I loved the huge frame he had; I think we forget how big he is. And I’m glad he’s opening up his body for the dance. However, I thought his foxtrot looked heavy and a bit awkward.

Maybe it was Suni’s illness that affected her dance, but I didn’t feel any attitude in her paso. I loved the skirt work and got a laugh out of Sasha’s Freddy Mercury mustache. Len said she was hesitant, and that captured what I was seeing.

Iman seems like a really good guy. They need to give him some nice parting gifts and send him home. Yes, he has come a long way in his dancing, but he’s not the caliber of any of the others who are left. Parts of his paso were nice, but it just didn’t have the flavor of paso to me. He usually looks good in solo parts and weird when in hold, but this time he looked gangly and out of place in the solo parts. Bruno called him on the chest and I agree. How did we lose Mel C and Kenya and keep this stumblebum?

I loved the relays. Again, the music was so cool and as Len said it was good to see them go head-to-head. In the The Miz-Iman-Cody face off, I gave my vote to Cody. The guy just threw down and danced his heart out. And he put in my favorite kicks and flicks combo that the other dancers omitted. I have no idea why they gave any points to Iman. The last time someone stumbled around like that, and it was considered good was the Tin Man’s dance in The Wizard of Oz. But like Derek, I loved that sparkly blue shirt.

In the JoJo-Olivia-Jimmie foxtrot, I had to go with Jimmie. He was throwing down lines again in the foxtrot and Olivia just didn’t look like she was trying. Still, she got all the points.

The Amanda-Suni-Melora relay was split, but I went with Melora, Suni a close second. It was almost a tie for me.

I’m still saying if the voting public shows any sense (a sucker’s bet) next week will see the exit of Iman and Cody. Or possibly Iman and Suni. She doesn’t seem to be drawing the votes. Worst case scenario, any two going and Iman staying. Jimmie and Melora want to be spoilers, but I still think it’s JoJo’s to win and Amanda and Olivia will duke it out for second place. I have a soft spot for Olivia because she’s the only one of the three without any real dance experience. Plus Olivia has Val, and everybody loves Val. And I love Amanda’s legs.

Next week is Janet Jackson week. Meh. She’s nowhere near the icon as Queen is for my generation. I can’t think of a single song she has. She does concerts so I’m sure she has plenty of them. It just doesn’t speak to me like Grease and Queen did. Yeah, I’m an old white guy. So sue me.

I found this online recently and it made me laugh. Enjoy.

Halloween: DWTS Week 6

Halloween, the show we’ve been waiting for. And it was a complete dud for me. It was more tricks than treats. The only saving grace is that the next to worst dancer was sent home.

I found four highlights for the night. That’s such a dismal score than past seasons. Halloween has always been over the top fun, thrills, chills, and exciting routines. Think Frankie Munoz as a slasher and Jordan Fisher as a werewolf. Where was the magic? Nowhere to be found.

The highest of highlights was Amanda and Alan. We had to wait until the final routine, but it was worth it. My first reaction was simply WOW. When she asked Alan if he wanted to dance, I felt chills run across my body. It was so eerie. Loved the use of the song Paint It Black. Just made it that much more menacing. Her lack of expression throughout was especially chilling. Gave me goosebumps repeatedly. I have no idea what the hell Len means when he said it was “too sharp”. Sharp was what this dance was all about. The only thing that could have made it better was if she’d pulled out a saw at the end.

Olivia and Val rarely disappoint. Or rather, Val rarely disappoints. Olivia is just along for the ride, but what a ride. Their paso was what I felt like I was waiting all night for. It was good old fashioned, damn good dancing. She worked that skirt like nobody’s business. I felt a sense of control in her that while Val was leading, she was the one in command of the floor. He was required to dance to her tune. And I loved the music. I have no idea what the movie was about. I also don’t know what the judges said because the show was interrupted for a weather alert. Crap.

Suni is finally dancing like she means it, but just can’t seem to catch a break. She and Sasha brought out a proper tango, done the way it should be, with plenty of style and drama. She already has the tango face anyway. I just loved the flow of it. And all the judges can say is “ho hum”? They were robbed.

Gotta put the Miz in as a favorite dancer. He comes through every week. I just like him. That paso was made for him. He kept the intensity strong, but in check, and stayed in character. The movement flowed and he had no funny foot work. He knew his steps. I like the Chris Isaacs version of the song better, but they have to make do with the house band. Not a big fan of Pinhead, but I love the Miz.

After those four, the night was a series of “what the hell?” and a WTF?

Biggest WTF of the season was 40 for Iman. What? NO! It was episodic and lacked flow. Both last week and this week it’s obvious they are judging Daniella’s choreography and dance ability rather than his. The highlights of their dance was all her. He was just a lumbering scaffold for her to work on. I did like the airplane move. That was well done. Again, I had no idea what the movie was about.

Halfway between WTF and WTH was JoJo and Jenna. I found it a total misfire. I thought they were supposed to go for scary. I read IT and it scared the bejesus out of me. This routine looked like a kid capering about with a clown at the circus. I’ve been kind of scared of clowns since Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and IT solidified it. This clown piece wasn’t scary. The music was absolutely ridiculous. I guess the moves were okay if you like jazz, but it had no mood, no menace, no fear. A total dud. The judges are idiots.

Another WTH was Jimmie. Now everybody knows I love Jimmie. I think he’s one of the best male dancers left. Since the theme of the piece was silence, I was amused that the name of the song they used was Say Something (I’m Getting Over You). I love the song and it has a lot of stars on my iPod. But the contemporary they did was dry and emotionless. It was a big blah that didn’t reach me. Maybe if I had seen the movie. I think the extra points came from the tears. Carrie Ann will cry at the drop of a hat, and she always adds points for that.

This was the week I was hoping Cody would strut his stuff. Well, he did. In a way. But it looked so awkward. I missed the package and part of the dance because of another weather alert. I guess the local affiliate couldn’t pause the show because of the voting thing, but it was a mess. Not Cody’s dancing, but the weather alert. The judges fell all over themselves to congratulate him, but I wasn’t a fan. I saw American Psycho; the dance really didn’t evoke the movie at all. And I hated the way Cody’s belly stuck out like an old man on his cross overs. Still, you can tell Cheryl has been working on him. If he can hang in another week, he might make something of himself.

Melora’s jive just showed her age. There was no energy to it. She even looked tired as the dance began, and then went downhill from there. No kicks and flicks. WTH? And I read Cujo. Once again, no evocation of the story.

While it was time for Kenya to go, Iman should have preceded her off the show. Her Argentine tango was nice, and props to Brandon for getting her off the ground. She doesn’t look light weight. She just seemed to be on her tippy toes the entire dance. Len said “It captured the flavor of Argentine tango” but he often says stupid stuff when he’s off his meds. The fact that it DIDN’T capture the flavor the Argentine tango is what bothered me most. But nice leg extension.

I don’t know what to make of placement if the judges are going to be as irrational as the voting audience. Iman needs to go. He’s a nice guy, but not a dancer. Cody, the Miz, Melora, and Jimmie are on a par and should go next. I don’t think Suni has the legs to finish and will come in fourth. JoJo is the runaway winner. Amanda and Olivia can duke it out for second place. Or rather Alan and Val can duke it out. Val is the better dancer and choreographer, but Alan has shown he can pull it out his ass at the last minute.

As for the floor show, I found Derek’s routine less than a showstopper. Poor camera angles and too many extra dancers just got in the way. I could never get into the music, so the piece just didn’t work for me.

Next week is Queen. I hope it’s as much fun as Grease. Scaramouch, scaramouch, will you do the Fandango?

Now go read my story “Welcome to Hell” at talltaletv.com. Just in time for Halloween.

Welcome to Hell

My short story Welcome to Hell has been published on the Tall Tales TV podcast. The host of the podcast reads the story to listeners. My thirty-minute story is about a nonbeliever who finds that hell is a very real place, and maybe not as bad as people fear. The host has some interesting insights into the undercurrents of the story. Stick around for his comments at the end. And check out TallTalesTV.com for other great SF and Fantasy stories. Enjoy.

Here are some links:

YouTube

Facebook

https://fb.watch/8ShBfglfJy/

Website

MP3 (Podcast)

DWTS Week 5

Wow, I loved the Grease theme. I love all the songs from the movie, and I’ve seen it about a dozen times. Even the TV version with Julianne Hough a few years back. This definitely ranks as the best show of the season. Too bad they had to ruin it with an awful showdown. The obvious one to go was Iman. Even when he has a good week, he can’t break out of the 20s. As Derek said, “America, what have you done?”

We also got our first 40, four 10s for JoJo and Jenna’s foxtrot. They were flying when in hold. I love a fast foxtrot, and this was the fastest. They had shaping and all the things that make foxtrot look so good. I loved the sly change of lead at the very end. As Len said, “Superb.” Quite possibly the best dance of the night. But I won’t give them that accolade all alone. There was another couple who should have gotten 40.

Amanda and Alan. They had the best Viennese waltz on the show this season. So elegant and so in character, with such precision of motion. Beautiful flekerl and shadow right turns. And that leg extension – wow! I absolutely loved it. They even trotted out old Frankie Avalon. He had a birthday last month and looks pretty good for 81.

My other fave of the evening was The Miz and Witney in the jive. So, so good. Loved the kicks. Just wish there were more of them. The tandem turns were a little messy but who cares, he’s the Miz. I love The Miz. He’s so entertaining.

Val is my go-to guy for foxtrot, and he got to step out last night with Olivia. Great job. He shapes and moves like no one else. The man is foxtrot personified. And Olivia stepped up and was a great partner. Who are the idiots who put her in the bottom two?

Mel C. also put on a great show. Her Quickstep to You’re the One that I Want was super. That’s my favorite song of the movie. She stumbled a bit but it was so fun that the gaffe was forgivable. As Carrie Ann pointed out she started out nervous, but quickly found her stride. Through the past five weeks she has consistently been scoring lower than Olivia and that night they were tied. I think Len made the right decision. Anybody else note that after Derek voted for Olivia and Carrie Ann for Mel, Bruno’s vote became irrelevant? Derek and Carrie Ann were already divided, meaning the decision was up to Len. Bruno was obsessing over his choice that meant nothing. Some don’t like that Len has the final say, but them’s the rules.

I love Kenya’s grandma. When she said, “That’s MY baby,” I just smiled. She and Brandon had her best dance yet. She channeled Rizzo perfectly. She became the bad girl. She may have been led, but she made sure we knew she was in charge.

WTF was Charleston doing in the mix? That’s not a ballroom dance. I don’t know beans about Charleston but what Suni and Sasha did was straight from the movie. OMG so good. Loved the foot on the chest. So much fun, but Suni still seems reserved and only lets small glimpses of personality out.

Melora rounded out the five-way tie for third place. I actually got chills watching her dance. She’s so long and lithe and gives Artem something to work with. She’s doing pretty well for a 54-year-old gal.

I love Jimmie and Emma but didn’t love their foxtrot. It was slow and awkward to start, but he soon got into it. Like Iman, he is much better out of hold than in hold. And even with the giant Pompadour, he had on a do-rag.

Cody is light on his feet and moves well, but some of his closed moves looked awkward. It looked like he was trying to step outside her in what I call the cowboy in the cow pasture move. That made him stick his butt out. Lots of energy, though.

Iman was the disappointment of the night. His VW just failed to ignite. He’s got some dance chops, but still looks awkward in frame with his butt sticking out. His flekerl was so ungainly I groaned. Bruno called him on it. He so needs to go and should have been invited to leave last night. Who the hell is voting for him?

The girls are running away with it. JoJo definitely has the lead, but Amanda is hot on her heels. Olivia may challenge, but I don’t think Suni is going to ignite. Melora is a dark horse. She’s got the buzz, but I don’t know if she can sustain it all the way. Iman, The Miz, Cody, and Kenya probably in that order will go next. Kenya might outlast Jimmie. But as we saw last night, when you let a nation who will vote a mirror ball to Bobby Bones participate, anything can happen.

Next week (Oct 25) is the last one before Halloween. Will that be the famous costumed extravaganza? Here’s hoping.

DWTS Week 4.2 Villains

It turned out as I called it. Yay. I don’t think it surprised anyone, least of all Brian, that he came in last place. Since Martin Kove got kicked off, it seems the mantle of grandpa at the wedding has fallen on Brian, even though he’s only 48. His paso was embarrassing, especially when he was doddering about like an old man.

I was crossing my fingers when the judges were deciding who to save. I really wanted them to save Kenya because she is a better dancer than Matt. He’s just a mess. I had thought for a double elimination they might just put the bottom three out there and ask the judges to save one. I don’t know why they did it the way they did, unless they wanted to make sure that Brian got the ax. He’s the only one they told, “you lose, go home, no chance of redemption by the judges.” Pretty cold. There’s been a lot of internet chatter that people are pissed because 2 judges wanting to save Matt and one wanting Kenya was not an even split. But it’s their game so they can make any rules they want. In the end, the better dancer was salvaged. Not that she’s anything special. Being the least bad of a group of bad is not much of a claim to make.

Matt’s paso doble was not his worst performance and may have been one of his best. The weird expression on his face freaked me out. It wasn’t passion or aggression or any of the emotions I equate with paso. It was more like mania. Scary. And Derek called him on stumbling while trying to drag Lindsay through her splits.

Cody and Cheryl keep flirting with the bottom of the chart. They scored just above the two who went home. If the bottom two next week are them and Kenya, they may be in trouble. I’m not sure if the Pelaton world votes more than Atlanta housewives. But to the judges, Kenya has been consistently acceptable whereas Cody has been hit and miss. They may have mercy and give him a break seeing as his time there has been a disaster. I like that he’s tall and in shape, so he looks the part of a leader. Cheryl will slap him into shape. However, that Viennese waltz was way too stiff. I did like that Len congratulated them on the flekerl. I love that move. It looks like this coming week will be the first time they’ve had the same amount of time as everyone else to prepare. I’m sure Cheryl is riding his ass.

Kenya’s Viennese waltz on the other hand was more polished, although she did stumble coming out of a turn, and she was frequently off balance. I don’t think Brandon’s ever taken anyone to the finals yet, and I don’t feel this will be his year. I’d like to see her leave next.

Iman and Daniella must be the most surprised couple of the season. After several weeks of being a wandering mess, he started shaping up into a dancer. He’s still not all that good, has a long way to go, but he’s actually doing some dancing. The real star of their routine, however, was Daniella. How in the world did she keep her body stiff for those lifts? They were amazing. The judges fawned all over Iman for it, but all he did was lift her like she was a bar at the gym. Is that the move they call the jerk – lifting from a dead stop? Aside from the lifts, though, he still suffers from awkward body movements. He looks ungainly, especially when matched up with Daniella. He loses all musicality and body flight. Maybe she’ll find the key, but I don’t expect him to be around very much longer.

I’m still in love with The Miz. That was a damn dark tango. An Argentine tango is a lot about performance and that’s his strong suit. He’s a natural showman. That came out in spades in a super scary dance that held me spellbound. Love how he works the cameras. And he even looked like the evil Scar.

I loved the music and feel Mel C. and Gleb created with their Viennese waltz. It was haunting and moving, but I kept waiting for the waltz part to happen. It was too much arms and not enough spins. I agree with Len on calling them for not enough waltz. And what was that on Gleb’s chest? Fire?

Jimmie and Emma got the dreaded (by me, at least) jazz. What’s with all the jazz, anyway? Len goes on and on about it being a ballroom dance and Carrie Ann is manic about calling out lifts like in ballroom comps. Then they throw in this non-ballroom crap. If I wanted to see jazz, I’d turn the channel to wherever jazz lives. If they want to make us watch non-ballroom, why not put in dances that people would like to see like West Coast Swing, Hustle, Country Two Step. Those are dances the public would recognize. Who knows what the hell “jazz” is?

Anyway, I didn’t understand Jimmie’s dance, but it looked fun. And he didn’t cry.

Amanda was simply mesmerizing in her paso doble. Even as the female, she dominated the floor. Scary how well she channeled the villain. As Len said, it had the menace factor. And Bruno mentioned the danger and aggression. It was the whole package. All the things that make paso great. I loved it. I give them a 10. But why was Alan in a blonde wig?

Finally, the real Suni showed up and danced. She not only danced, she threw down. Her best dance yet. Great Viennese.

Olivia and Val with jazz, again. I didn’t see the movie, so I didn’t get the references. In fact, other than Snow White when I was 7, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any Disney movie. So sue me. And I’m really getting tired of the jazz.

I don’t agree with the judges about JoJo’s paso doble. I think it was her best dance to date. She hit that dance like it was the bully she hated. Kinda like Mean Girls in a cat fight. Passion, aggression and anger. Good show.

Melora and Artem. <resigned sigh>  Jazz again. Len broke out the 10 paddle for this? Someone needs to check his meds.  

The scores show the story thus far. The top five are the 5 best ladies. Melora is a surprise in this group. Has she peaked too early or just in time? Now that Suni is back in how will this affect the dynamics? Olivia, Amanda, and JoJo are yet to square off. In the bottom tier I expect Cody and Kenya to bow out quickly, leaving Jimmie, Mel C, Iman and The Miz to fight for “also ran” status. In a perfect world, Jimmie and The Miz would survive in this grouping to duke it out head-to-head. Jimmie’s got the smooth and The Miz’s got the schmooze.

As to Halloween, will DWTS go all out on October 25, which seems too early or November 1? Even one day after Halloween it seems anticlimactic. I guess they have to go with the 25th. How many weeks is this supposed to go on anyway? After next week’s Grease there will be 10, after Halloween 9, and after November 1 we’ll have 8 contestants left. Barring double eliminations we’ll need four more weeks to get down to 4 for the finale. That takes us to November 29 with the showdown the first week in December. Just in time for my birthday.

Next up: Grease is the word.

DWTS Week 4.1 Heroes

I’m pleased to announce we made it through the first night of Disney without any awful dances. Some of them may be counted as a series of unfortunate events, but the only thing truly dreadful was Tyra and her wardrobe. That monstrosity she came out in made her hips look as big as my grandma’s wide-butt washing machine. I’m taking bets that tonight she comes out as Cruella de Ville.

The ladies have taken over the show this season. The bottom seven were all the men plus Kenya. Jimmie did get a bump over Mel C. when he got the 2 extra points for the bizarre Mickey challenge. The highest scoring male was The Miz. For some reason, I love The Miz.

The two unarguably worst dances of the night were Brian Green and Matt James.

Maybe Matt should have defrosted his Frozone before putting it on the floor because it was the stiffest Quickstep I’ve seen recently. The silly outfit did him no favors, just showed off his big booty, and the insertion of the Mickey moves was awkward at best. Yuck.

Brian’s waltz was not impressive. The waltz is supposed to be romantic and Brian and Sharna claim to be in love. I see no evidence of it in this dance. It was flat and flavorless. I’m with Bruno in thinking it should be more. Technically he had no rise and fall, and they both flubbed the Mickey move. He never clapped under his knee, and Sharna only swatted her hand at her knee. Much as I love Sharna, these two guys need to be the next to go. I imagine Bachelor Nation swings more clout than old 90210 fans so I expect it will be Brian getting the boot. He and Sharna can snuggle at home and watch the rest of the season.

I truly wanted to love Cody’s jive. I mean he’s our homeboy and has been battling Covid. Who doesn’t love an underdog? But alas, it was a disappointment. It lacked the energy of a jive and was short on content. Like the judges I wanted more kicks and flicks. If you have a few minutes here’s a look at what I expect from a jive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWarrvF4nSE

Kenya’s contemporary routine was utterly forgettable. Brandon showed off and outdanced her. The transitions were rough and the choreo was pedestrian. Twenty-nine points was too kind.

I really like Jimmie Allen and Emma as a pair. They seem to be fun together. It’s a shame he won’t make it very far. He’s got great dance instincts. From his earlier rumba I knew he was good at lines and had great shaping. I thought paso doble would be his dance. Emma just didn’t give him enough to do. I liked how they worked in the Mickey moves and made them actually look like paso, but in the end it lacked the passion and aggression, the subtle menace that paso requires. Jimmie just isn’t scary enough. And what’s with all the tears? He’s cried on three of the last four shows. Maybe that’s why he’s in country music – all the songs are sad. On a side note has anyone else noticed that he and the hip hop dancer Fikshun (got his start on SYTYCD) must have been separated at birth? They could be twins.

Iman surprised everybody, maybe even himself, with his performance of the foxtrot. He was so graceful and light on his feet. His body just sang with the music. Until he and Daniella came together. Then he hunched over to make up for the height difference and stuck his butt out. He began clomping and lost all semblance of body flight. That ruined the dance for me. But I did like his backstory. Dr. Shump delivered his own kids. I can understand the first time, but the second was more like a Britney Spears Oops I Did It Again.

I love The Miz. I so wish he could make the finals. He’s the best male contestant this go round. And he’s so personable. He comes across in the wrestling world as a villain, but it’s so cool when you find out the villain has a heart of gold. Kind of like a few years ago when Jerry Springer gained redemption on DWTS. So his Quickstep wasn’t the most graceful ever and there were weird little baby steps at the beginning, it was so much better than the other blue guy. What’s the deal with Quickstep and blue? The Miz is such a showman and really sold it. He makes me laugh. And he moves so well for a big guy. Love me some Miz.

Mel – Jazz. I don’t do jazz. It’s not ballroom. From what I could tell it was a frenetic mess and Gleb needed to wash his face.

Amanda had one of the best dances of the night in my opinion. She made the rumba romantic and sexy without it turning into vertical sex. They even made the weird Mickey moves look elegant. But that last little jump was way out of sync. Just a few seconds into the dance they did a series of synchronized turns that made me shout. It was so cool. Loved it. But why was Alan wearing his Pirates of the Caribbean pants and not a Ron Ely style loin cloth/mini-skirt?

Val looked great in his samba with Olivia. Great hip action. Now she needs to do the same thing. I loved the samba rolls and real samba moves. It made me smile, but it was all about him. She’s got the makings of a top-notch dancer but he needs to make her do it rather than grandstand and drag her through.

JoJo’s Viennese waltz was nice but it never reached escape velocity for me. It was clean and sharp but lacked something. Maybe it’s just that I’m old fashioned and think every dance couple needs a Y chromosome. A quick internet check reveals there is a whole culture of same gender couple dancing, even competitions. I remember a few years back a same gender couple (men) tried out for So You Think You Can Dance. They were not very good. Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy made fun of them and said some rather homophobic things. He actually apologized on air the next week for what he said, but it was perfunctory rather than heartfelt, just because of the producers. So I know JoJo has faced challenges since coming out, and I applaud her courage. Someone sent me a TED talk some time back that went over Liquid Lead. It was about a way of dancing that switched the lead back and forth between partners. Rewatching it has given me a better perspective on appreciating JoJo and Jenna’s performances. I recommend it. Maybe JoJo and Emma should try exchanging leads. I bet it would wow the judges and the audience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mq-HqRnngc

Melora was the surprise of the night. That was a Quickstep for the ages. It’s how the dance should be done. Kudos to her and Artem. But I’m not all that surprised at what Artem can do with a partner. He’s won a mirror ball already. I loved the Roaring Twenty’s flavor of the dance and how Melora kept up with Artem’s energy. I absolutely loved it and it was probably the best dance and my favorite of the night.

The season is still young and it’s any woman’s prize to take. Sorry guys, but y’all are out. Melora may be a flash in the pan. We’ll have to see. If she keeps it up, I see a four-way run at the title between JoJo, Amanda, Olivia, and Melora. Suni could step up her game and make it a contest. And Amanda or Olivia could fade in the back stretch. The only thing I feel certain about is that JoJo will be in the finals. Let’s see what happens tonight.