Sunday, May 25, 2008

So You Think You Can “Dance” Highlights…

And by highlight I mean:

My favorite show (yes, it’s official now, this is my favorite show) started up again last Thursday, and even though I totally forgot about it and had to catch it the next day on YouTube, which kind of took some of the magic out of it, I’m ready to let it take over my entire life. In fact, I go willingly.

One thing this show does better than all the rest is introduce us to the contestants. I don’t know if it’s Cat Deeley’s superior interviewing skills or what, but I feel more connected to the people trying out, whether they’re good or bad, which makes the viewing so much more satisfying. I’m usually overwhelmed and exhausted after the American Idol auditions, not only because they spend too much time highlighting the atrocious people, but also because the little time they do spend with the good singers seems shallow and one-dimensional. I don’t expect perfection… after all, these shows have to edit an entire two days’ worth of auditions into two hours (more or less), but all I’m saying is this show seems to do it better.

There were many memorable characters on the premiere episode, but one in particular really touched me. Meet Jonathan Anzalone, a 21 year old “professional dancer” from Italy.

Well, obviously, he’s hot as hell. But he isn’t just a pretty face. In his brief, yet undeniably sexy, audition segment, he scandalizes Cat Deeley, teaches us important life lessons, takes off all his clothes, puts them back on again, does a bad Michael Jackson impression, forces Mia Michaels to humiliate herself, pisses off Nigel Lythgoe, and flirts rather aggressively with the camera crew. Indeed, he had a busy day.

Judging by the reactions on the blogs Friday morning, Signor Anzalone certainly made quite an impression. The consensus seemed to be, and I’m paraphrasing, “He is soooo hot. But also… jackass.” While he did come off as rather, shall we say, cocky (no Mia, that is not a Freudian slip), I think he’s being judged unfairly. There’s an old saying that goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” and I think it applies here… except it would go more like, “Don’t judge an Italian Stallion by his very pronounced bulge.” In that spirit, let’s examine his misadventures to understand him a little better.

The very moment the camera finds him, he pulls out this little number from his bag of tricks.

So, we already know he’s very flexible, although… I’m not sure that’s a dance move as much as it is porn. And even though his leg is awkwardly twisted around his head, and he looks very uncomfortable… it’s kind of hot. I can’t lie about that.

Moving indoors, Cat Deeley corners him on the staircase to ask him how American men are different from Italian men. Since the question was stupid, Jonathan gives the stupid answer, “we’re hairy,” even though he proves the statement false. Cat Deeley, observant as ever, points out Jonathan’s immaculately shaved chest, which is gorgeous, by the way, to which Jonathan responds, “Oh, you noticed.” Of course, it’s impossible not to notice his chest, considering his shirt is conspicuously (deliberately) unbuttoned. I’m not sure why Cat Deeley walked right into that set-up so blindly, unless the whole thing was scripted (which it very well may have been), but the whole exchange is indicative of whom we are dealing.

In between various shots of Jonathan hip-thrusting and posturing around the building, he tells us (sexily) that, “(he) likes (him)self, and (he) likes to show that to people.” All of this we know, but that won’t stop him from showing us again and again and again.

He shows us his abs in the lobby.

He shows us his (CENSORED) in the warm-up room.

He shows us his delicious pelvic bone area backstage.

Basically, he shows us just about everything… except any dancing abilities. He doesn’t want to waste our time. That crap is reserved for the judges.

Before going into the audition, Cat Deeley finds Jonathan more reserved and quiet, and he explains that his reticence can be attributed to the fact that he’s, “thinking about something else.” Cat Deeley, still stumbling blindly into his traps, presses him further, “what are thinking about?” He reiterates, whilst looking deep into her eyes, that, “he’s thinking about something else.” After a pause, in which we can only assume that Cat Deeley finally gets it, and then fumbles in her pocket for her rape whistle, asks him, “Are you being very Italian at this precise moment?” Jonathan, not to be swayed by hurtful stereotypes, quickly responds, “no,” because being creepy, aggressive, and inappropriate on television isn’t a trait reserved solely for Italians, which everyone knows thanks to shows like The Real World. Remember when I praised Cat Deeley for her superior interviewing skills? Well, I take it back. But not for long… I’m sure it’s hard for her to concentrate while Jonathan molests her with his eyes.

As he makes his way into his audition, he leaves Cat Deeley with one more quick look at his abs and some friendly advice on how to work off the raging lust within her after sitting next to him for 10 minutes. Cat Deeley’s only response is…

I think she speaks for us all.

In the audition, he’s spectacularly bad, but in such a hot way. He even does the whole lick-the-fingertips-touch-the-nipple move, which is just so very Showgirls and… well, I’m turned on.

The judges are confused, bemused, and amused, all at the same time, but they still can’t manage to turn away.

That’s called being dickmatized, and clearly, Jonathan has the power. To be fair, Jonathan does have some moves, well… he has one, which he performs only after removing his shirt.

Afterwards, Nigel asks Mia if she thinks Jonathan will be successful as a dancer in America, and Mia, all full of serious, says, “No, I don’t think he’ll be sex… sucsex… SEX!” and the whole auditorium goes wild, because she just said what everyone was thinking.

"Yeah, you TOTALLY said it!"

Nigel feels badly for the confused-looking Jonathan, so he takes a moment to explain the ‘Freudian slip’ to our sexy friend while Mia tries to pull herself together. Eventually she does, no thanks to Mary Murphy, who is doing her usual bansheeing and crazed cackling (oh, how I missed it), and she tells him that he won’t be successful because his technique isn’t quite up to par. Of course, Jonathan isn’t really interested in what she has to say, having already achieved his goal of dazzling her with his sexy, but he accepts her criticism with good humor and a killer smile, probably because he doesn’t really understand what she’s saying anyway. Mary continues by saying that the dancing was weak indeed. There was nothing about his performance that would make people want to get on the phone for him. Then she checks herself to admit that there might be some people out there who would get on the phone for him on account of how epically sexy he is, and even though we can’t see it, I’m sure there are about 20 people raising their hands in the audience to back her up on that one. But mentioning his incredibly good looks is really the perfect thing to do because it’s equal parts criticism and compliment, very much like Paula Abdul telling someone how good they look tonight.

So after two negative reviews, Jonathan assumes he has been rejected and dismissed and turns to leave the stage, but Nigel stops him angrily because NIGEL ALWAYS HAS HIS SAY! Jonathan tries to defend his behavior by claiming that if two judges have already said no than he’s done, but what I think is happening is Nigel has no boobs or estrogen and is therefore immune to Jonathan’s powers, which means Jonathan has no desire to deal with him. Nigel berates Jonathan for assuming anything at all (especially the estrogen part), praises his psychotic level of self-confidence, and invites him back for the choreography round. Mary agrees, and so does Mia, but only to a point, because she says that she would be reluctant to work with him because he’s a nightmare, which in her world means ‘so unbelievably hot that it’s impossible to concentrate.’ I think Cat Deeley would agree.

Later on in the choreography round, we watch as Jonathan totally botches the routine by completely ignoring his partner until the poor girl is forced to improvise by throwing herself crotch-first onto his muscular, rippling body, which Mary explains is totally understandable, which is funny because it’s true.

You can’t blame her.

After the judges let him down easy (and I’ll admit now that I was really disappointed), the camera crew follows him into the street. Jonathan, undeterred by his previous rejection, invites (nay, begs) the camera crew to come home with him. Even though the crew was probably very tempted, because GOD who wouldn’t be, we watch Jonathan’s high, tight ass disappear into the hot L.A. night.

So what do we think? When I watched the show on Friday, my opinion on Jonathan was much like everyone else’s. He’s unquestionably gorgeous, but also smug, arrogant, kind of smarmy, and really full of himself. But after watching the clip a few (hundred) more times, I found my impression changing.

Here’s my theory, and I think this will clear a lot of things up… I’m pretty sure he was trying out for a different show. Hear me out. Point 1: He’s Italian, so English is obviously his second language, right? Point 2: the word “dance” is kind of broad. It can mean all sorts of things, and all different kinds of dancers call themselves dancers even if they are working in completely different industries (think: exotic dancers). Conclusion: I think Jonathan thought he was trying out to be a stripper. Ok, ok… that’s probably a giant leap. I mean, he had to have at least seen the other people trying out and figured they weren’t all strippers. And I would hope he talked to some people and asked about the show. But after watching the video with my theory in mind, I’m convinced he thought the show was So You Think You Can Strip, and in that light, he comes across perfectly, like he was made for the role. From the aggressive flirting with every female, to the outrageous displays of his body and his ego, to the moves he chose to audition with, to the way he had eye-sex with the camera… I mean, IT ALL FITS!!!

Or not. But, you know, I just can’t make myself dislike the guy. And it isn’t just because he’s the hottest guy I’ve seen on T.V. in a very long time. He IS very arrogant, but... umm… if you looked like that, wouldn’t you be? I’m not one to sympathize with pretty people often, especially when they use their looks to get anything they want, but I can understand how pretty people are often judged prematurely and how frustrating that can be. It’s clear from watching the video that he knows he’s an incredible specimen, but there’s a pandering way about him, a desperation, that makes me think he might be… I don’t know… lonely? Alright, I’ll stop reading into things, but don’t you think it’s possible, now, after reading all of this, that his whole segment might have been a giant misunderstanding? Decide for yourself: the video of the whole affair is after the jump.

Well, I hope for his sake that one day there IS a show called So You Think You Can Strip, because, honey… straight through to Vegas.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

When My Obsessions Collide...

So what happens, do you think, when Betty Suarez, Madonna, and Jazz Hands are combined?

A Big. Gay. Supernova.

So get out your vision-protecting goggles and hunker down… BEHOLD!

If I could just add to the message…

Dear Madonna, while you’re at it, could you send me a signed copy too? It isn’t my birthday, but I’ve probably listened to it just as much as Justin (over and over and over and over). Kthxbye.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Let's do a final rehash, shall we?...

Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I haven’t been discussing reality T.V. too much (well, less than usual) here on the blog. I like to think the shows were just boring this time around, only because I would hate to think that my appetite for them has waned. That would be… heartbreaking.

We’ll start with the most obvious…

American Idol: Separating the men from the boys…

I’ve made no secret of the fact that this season of American Idol did absolutely nothing for me. I’m confused, though, because all the signs seemed to indicate that it was a terrific season… there were memorable moments, loads of controversy (Paula-gate), fairly decent guest mentors, a very suspenseful finale (it really could have gone either way)… and yet – I felt nothing. I didn’t LOVE anyone, or LOATHE anyone… frankly I had a hard time feeling any way in particular towards the entire cast. Sometimes I’m surprised that I even remember their names. I can’t say why I kept watching, other than wanting to be in the loop at the watercoolers, which is as good a reason as any, I suppose.

As far as the results go, I guess I’m OK with it. I’m still not a fan of David Cook (actually, if I were to pick a contestant to LOATHE, it would be he, at least at the beginning), but I think as the weeks progressed I found myself in his corner more often than David Archuleta’s. Little David A. is really one-dimensional if you think about it – he only does one thing well (namely, sappy ballads about peace, love, and homelessness) and all of his attempts to branch out were hilarious – and not in a good way. Meanwhile, David C., who started out really smug and cocky in my opinion, managed to deliver solid, original, and almost respectably creative performances. By the Top 5, I wasn’t sensing any entitlement or overconfidence in him – I’m not sure if it was sincere or if someone talked to him about it, but it doesn’t matter, he got rid of it and it worked. So considering the choice, American made the right decision. I think DC will be a more successful, more current musician than DA, which is good for the American Idol brand. DA will be fine, though: he’s as cute as a puppy sliding down a rainbow into a pool of magic, so… yeah, whatever.

Dancing with the Stars and America’s Next Top Model after the jump.

Dancing with the Stars: Girl Power…

I’m only slightly more enthusiastic about the recently completed 5th season of Dancing with the Stars. I was on Team Yamaguchi from the very beginning, so of course I was happy with the outcome. And while I enjoyed watching Jason Taylor and Christian Fuentes duke it out for the inevitable 2nd and 3rd place, I think we can all agree that Kristy’s awesomeness made the competition a little stale. It wasn’t just because she blew everyone out of the water, either. I think the skill levels overall were lower than usual all the way around; any of the top finishers from the last three seasons could have beaten Jason and Christian, at least technically. What I’m saying is that the show would have been even better and even more exciting had Kristy been up against worthier adversaries. But then again, if she was up against a man who happened to as perfect as she, she would have lost, at least according to past precedent. We can’t have that, can we?

I actually watched the Dancing with the Stars finale from start to finish, and I couldn’t help but feel like The Yamaguchi was over the whole thing. Was it just me? I mean, at the end when she won, I think it was pretty obvious that Mark Ballas was far more excited than she. She was all, “Um… yay! I guess. This was kind of fun, wasn’t it? I mean, it kind of pales in comparison to winning a gold medal but it wasn’t a total waste of my time all things considered.” And then there was Mark, who looked like he was about to faint before the announcement of the winner, and afterwards pretty much took it to church, all THANK YA JESUS style, and jumping and kneeling and kissing and crying like winning a disco ball trophy was the greatest human achievement since the moon landing.

Winning Dancing with the Stars might have been a small step for Kristy Yamaguchi, but I’m sure she’s happy to let Markie enjoy it.

America’s Next Top Model: Score one for the Phat Girlz…

What cycle of America’s Next Top Model are we on again? It’s got to be up there in the early 30’s. This season was one of the better ones, thanks to some truly wacky characters and better than average challenges, and by better than average I mean the teaches and photoshoots seemed more practical to the modeling industry than usual… like, I could actually imagine some of those pictures in magazines. So many of the shoots in the past have been absolutely ridonk… I’m pretty sure no company or designer would ever require a model to dress up like Brad Pitt AND Angelina Jolie in the same photo. There are other better examples, I’m sure, but that’s the only one I can think of at the moment. The point is… these photoshoots made some sense, which… refreshing.

Anyway, Whitney, Ms. Plus-size USA, took the prize, but not without some controversy. <> The little gay birdies are twittering that Whitney was a ringer. Tyra has expressed on many occasions her zeal for finally crowning a plus-size model, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Whitney was a plant. I liked Whitney quite a bit, though, and I’ve also been anxious to see a big girl take the title. And really… does it matter? Does anyone still think this show is a reliable platform for starting a modeling career? I don’t think the girls that agree to appear on the show buy into it, either. This is a chance to get on T.V., hopefully establish a name for yourself, and move on to bigger and better things. And you get to meet Tyra Banks. If you’re into that sort of thing.

I’ve already talked about Survivor here.
I’ve already talked about Project Runway here.
I’m trying to pretend Big Brother 9 never happened.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad winter/spring season of T.V., although I can’t remember the last time I was so ambivalent and uninvested. I guess I can’t expect every season of every show make my skirt fly up. But, naturally, I never give up hope. This summer, we have So You Think You Can Dance, a summer session of Project Runway (the last one for the Bravo Network), and Big Brother 10 returns to its usual dates and times. Based solely on last night’s premiere of SYTYCD, I’d say we’re in for an amazing summer.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reeva Dubois Revisited... Part 1...

A few days ago, I alluded to a new feature here on this blog in which I would delve into the archives of my previous home at LiveJournal and repost some of my favorite posts of the past. I must reiterate… I actually don’t expect anyone to read them. I’m just doing this so they have a permanent home in the archives over here. So… ahem. A good place to start would be my first significant (significant in this case means the post has content, all the ones before it were silly memes… I don’t flatter myself that any of my posts are significant in the true sense of the word) post on the LJ, wherein I introduce myself. Little known fact: there was another LJ before the one that stuck. It was the summer before my senior year of college, and I was toiling away, and by toiling I mean suffering, in the RA office of my college’s dorm. In a ploy to stay on campus with a bunch of my friends, I took a job with the Housing Department as a summer RA, with duties that included helping residents with lock-outs, opening doors for summer camps, and a whole lot of absolutely nothing. It was the most boring job that was, or will ever be, created and I nearly killed myself from boredom. The worst shift was the graveyard shift; it was not a little bit creepy, dark, and… you guessed it… boring as hell. Anyway, during that time, a friend of mine turned me on to LJ, and I posted all of five posts. It’s kind of hard to re-read them now, because they’re all about how awesome my senior year was going to be, and preparations for grad school, and friends that I don’t talk to anymore. I have no interest in posting them here, now that I’m bigger, better, and totally adjusted to the way my life turned out (ish!). No, I’ll start with one of the first posts from the second incarnation of my LJ, something that came about thanks to another friend (who shall not be named). I started in January of 2004, the year after I graduated, more or less after I’d completely fallen apart and put myself back together again. In this ditty, posted on Jan. 31, 2004, I talk about my strange sleeping habits, the joys of blogging/journaling, and I deign to give an explanation of my screen name, which has a mythology all its own. Please note how much my grammar/spelling/general use of the English language has improved over the years. I’m still not perfect, but I think we can all agree It's a far cry from the sic-tastic post that lies behind the jump, which I have decided to post unedited. Get your red pens ready! It’s called “Middle of the Night Musings.”

Yes, it is 5:15 in the morning. Shut up! I am, always have been, and probably always will be a night owl. It runs in my family. We are nocturnal creatures that reach our creative and energetic highs past midnight. We are also useless during the day, and that has its drawbacks. That is why i'm pretty sure that if i'm ever going to enjoy life i have to have a profession that allows me to sort of "set my own hours!" I know that this is impossible, and if i want to have anything ($), i have to join the real world and face the fact that i will have to get up on the morning. It is a cruel world sometimes. But i'm here now, and i'm awake, and actually feeling pretty good (ask how i'm doin' tomorrow at, say, 1:00 in the PM).

Journals are supposed to be therapuetic - an outlet for creativity and self-expression. Believe it or not, I kept journals all throughout middle and high school. I wrote in them almost everyday and i was very very secretive. Of course, the only thing in them is silly teenage ranting and REALLY REALLY bad poetry, but it is positively rewarding to know that i will never forget high school. I figuratively slap myself repeatedly on a daily basis for my one great indiscretion: i did not keep a journal in college. Its ironic that i documented the pointless feelings that i had about geometry and my little crush on {redacted to protect the innocent}(which is really fun to read about since i'm now a FLAMING HOMOSEXUAL (and yes, i know that i was always a homosexual, but high school is a confusing time (i'm not one of those crazy queens that thinks that something turned them gay (its not a frikkin light switch)))) and yet managed to leave four of my most formative years out of the channels of history. Not to say that all of it would have been interesting - "Dear Diary, today i practiced the piano...a lot." But a lot of shit went down, and even now, approximately one half of a year later, a lot of the precious details are already lost to me. So, as i began to type this, a sense of overwhelming calm overtook me, because i realized that i was doing something that used to bring soo much comfort and control to my life. I mean, the fact that other people may read this is sort of exciting (its almost like sex in public, don't you think (No? *shrug*)), but it feels so close to my little diary with the little lock. So, CHEERS to the livejournal, henceforth known as the "livejournal of life!"

Who, you ask, is Reeva Dubois? Thats me! An explanation is in order. My sophomore year, i roomed with the first guy friend that told me he was gay. I eventually got around to telling him that i, too, was gay, and we have been almost inseperable since. Anyhoo - in the room next door, lived two INCREDIBLY gay guys, who also became very close friends. So, those two rooms became known across campus as the gayest place on Earth, and even though South Beach, San Francisco, and some pockets in New York might be more deserving of the title, we held it with pride. Our shameless sexualities eventually attracted almost every other non-closeted guy on campus, and by the end of the year, we had quite a frat! We partied together, hung out together, and formed friendships that can't even really be explained - most were normal, but some were bizarre and unhealthy. Needless to say, there was never a shortage of DRAMA. We were sitting around one night after our weekly get-toghether to watch Will and Grace, when one of them commented that this group of about 10 guys really felt like his family. Someone else said, "Duh - we are a family." A surname was chosen. Dubois for three reasons. It sounds royal, and we are queens after all. It sounds french, which we just thought was neat (Ok not a good reason), and third because it literally means "of the wood", which was just too much innuendo to pass up. Then, we each picked a fabulous name, any old name we wanted, as long as the first initial was the same. Mine, of course, is Reeva - but there is also, Georgia, Vivian, Jade, Jasmine, Jessica, Kenya, Roxanne, Jacqueline, Blanche, Alexsis, Adeena, Monique, and many more through the course of the years. We actually call each other by these names, and we have grown rather attached to the whole thing. I actually created a coat of arms for the clan. I spent a fascinating shift of work on the internet researching heraldry - did you know that even the position of the different objects have meaning - its sooooo complex. If i can ever get my hands on a scanner i will post it. Our Latin motto - which we are pretty sure is absolutely wrong (we used an online translator) is "Reginas Amicitias Fides Amplexor" It (supposedly) means "Queens of Friendship Loyalty and Love". Of course now the Dubois family is scattered across the countryside, but we still keep in touch. Well, most of us anyway.

Ok - I graduated from Furman University in Greenville (G-Vegas) South Carolina with a BM Piano Performance. I'm currently taking time off from school to sort of soul search and get a hold of reality and life and blah blah blah - and i'm not being very successful. I'm supposed to go to graduate school next fall, but i have yet to apply. My parents are so proud.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

SJP, newest member of the Ministry of Silly Hats...

So, Viv called me the other day and we had just the most uproariously riotous conversation about Sarah Jessica Parker and arboreal headgear.

Apparently, the London Premiere of her new movie was the perfect time to inform the general public that she is not only obsessed with fashion, shoes, and boy-faced character actors, but also… horticulture as it applies to madhattery.

I know I’m late posting this, it happened two days ago, but I had to post it for posterity. Everytime I come to my blog I want to see this in all of its quirky, foolish, crazy-ass glory.

While I may want to remember this, I’m sure SJP’s costars would love to forget. I mean, can you imagine having to stand next to her on the red carpet, straining to keep a straight face? And what is to be done about the swarm of very confused bees following her into the theatre?

In all fairness, the dress is pretty… in a wood nymph, skipping through the meadow kind of way. And the hat, as a piece, is rather interesting. But as a hat? I don’t know. It’s hard to take it seriously because… I just can’t stop laughing at it. I think the acorn cap is the best part. It’s like Sarah Jessica Parker bloomed out of it upside down, like a fabulous, couture wearing, oak tree in reverse.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm already having Survivor withdrawal...

I really feel sorry for people who gave up on Survivor, because they just missed an epic season, one that I’m sure will go down in the books as one of the best in the series. Blindsides, injuries, tears, jealousy, bitterness, triumph… it was all there. I don’t know if it was the contestants themselves or better-than-usual editing, but all the survivors seemed much more three-dimensional this season… like they were actual people playing a game as opposed to a collection of caricatures put together for the sake of fireworks. Also, strategy seemed to trump popularity more often than not, too, which was refreshing. Finally, there were moments of pure gameplay – as in, Survivor specific tactics – resulting in spectacular Tribal Councils. These players finally figured out how to use the elements of the game to get as far as they could go, and it was deliciously good television.

More shameless Survivor fan-gushing after the jump...

Since I just praised the brilliant gameplay shown this season, I suppose I should also mention that this season saw some of the worst playing ever as well. One contestant, a darling young man named Erik, actually gave away his immunity for the sake of “redemption”, and instead received the brutal snuffing of his torch (not to mention his self-esteem) and the title “Dumbest Survivor Ever.” This season was all about the Immunity Idol, an outcome I’m sure the producers had been hoping for since the Idol’s inception, only to watch it become irrelevant among the petty interpersonal conflicts in the tribe, or worse, not get used at all because it was found by a moron (this has happened often in Survivor history). This time around, though, the Idol achieved its purpose… it was used as currency, as defense, and ultimately as the means of several players’ destruction. Holders of the Idol failed to use it when they were clearly at risk (TWICE!) and for the first time in Survivor history, the Idol saved the life of a Survivor and sent an unsuspecting player home. In every season of Survivor, there are brilliant moves and horrifically stupid moves, but this season, the good players not only recognized weakness, but seized the advantage. It is one thing to sit back and watch someone make a stupid move; it’s another to capitalize on it.

The Blindside Hall of Shame (and bad Survivor Hair). As far as I'm concerned, they're all the Dumbest. Survivor. Ever.

Also of import this season: an all female Final Four. The women really took control and proved beyond any doubt that Survivor is just as mental and strategic as it is physical. In fact, I’m tempted to say the challenges had little to no effect on the outcome of the game, barring the final immunity challenges. Erik, who I mentioned before, only got as far as he did because of his prowess in the challenges, but he couldn’t compete with the ladies when it came to the social aspect of the game, and had to settle for 5th place. Speaking on challenges, I’ve always been irritated by the show’s emphasis on challenge winning, an opinion that only got stronger watching Ozzy make it to the Final 3 of the Cook Islands. He didn’t play any kind of game! He won challenges… that is all. While I found him charming and easy to look at, I was very happy when he lost to Yul, because it just demonstrated that one can’t simply win Survivor by shutting everyone out in physical challenges (Ok, one can, but it’s boring, ok?). And this season, Ozzy’s refusal to accept the possibility that the other players wouldn’t just allow him to coast to the finals based on challenge wins resulted in a spectacular blindside at Tribal Council courtesy of Cirie and Parvati, and well… it made me about as happy as any television show ever has. I rode that one for weeks.

Back to the all female Final Four! The thing I loved about the last chapters of this season, besides the fact that I’m a super-mega-feminist that loves to see women beat men at things, was the fact that all four women actually had a conceivable chance of winning.

Parvati aligned with three other strong players right at the go, all of whom made it to the merge, and after that, she successfully brought in two members of the other tribe to add to her numbers. Also, she worked with Cirie to betray her original alliance and vote out the Prodigal Douche, Ozzy.

Cirie orchestrated the demise of several key players, even as far back as Yau-Man in Week 2. She managed to navigate carefully through several different iterations of her original alliance without drawing attention to herself. AND she did my favorite thing, which is she manipulated the people around her without being pushy. Cirie is a master at behind-the-scenes subterfuge… she was frikkin’ invisible.

Natalie, who didn’t even get screen-time until the last few weeks, pulled off two major coups: she convinced Jason not to use his Idol (and then voted him out), and then she convinced Erik to give her immunity (and then VOTED HIM OUT!). While she didn’t do any of those things alone, she definitely played a part, and I think the jury may have given her some credit.

Finally, there’s Amanda. I really like Amanda… I liked her in her China Season and I liked her in this Season. She played what seemed like a perfect game: she stayed loyal to her alliances, won challenges, and formed close bonds. She truly is a great player, having pulled off two final appearances in just as many seasons. I can’t take any of that away from her.

So once we hit Final Four, Natalie was the first to go. I wasn’t surprised. Even though she had formed some tight bonds with Parvati, I doubt she was shocked when the Trio of Amanda, Parv, and Cirie sent her packing.

The last few seasons of Survivor have ended in a Final Three at Tribal Council, so it was a huge shock for the ladies to find out that the show would be returning to its original formula of a Final Two. At the last immunity challenge, I found myself rooting as hard as I could for Cirie, but like she said, it just wasn’t meant to be. I think she knew the second she lost that challenge to Amanda that her time was up. Cirie was truly the most under-rated player of the season. Many have said that a lot of her success was pure luck, especially the early dismissal of Jonathan Penner, her main rival, due to injury. While I can’t really argue with that, Cirie also played a huge part in the most dramatic vote-offs of the season. Honestly, I think Cirie might have taken the whole thing if she’d made it to the end. I was really sad to see her go.

At the final Tribal Council, we had Amanda and Parvati. Amanda planned to rely on her loyalty, truthiness, and her close bonds with the jury to get the win. Parvati only had her crucial strategic maneuvers to convince them. The Q & A was as silly and as spiteful as ever, and the editing was, as always, misleading. They want to make it seem as even as possible, I guess, because that’s good TV. The edit we saw implied that Amanda was treated fairly tenderly, while Parvati was verbally assaulted more than once. When the voting ended and Jeff left, it seemed like Amanda was a shoe-in for the win… she had more friends on the jury, and hadn’t done nearly as much to antagonize the group as Parvati. I felt in my gut, though, that Parvati might pull this out.

Here’s the thing: some players are always going to vote emotionally, even though it’s, like, insanely unsportsmanlike. But most of the time, regardless of whatever bile they throw out at the final Tribal Council, the jury almost always rewards the better strategic player. The Cook Islands is a perfect example. There was Ozzy, who was pretty much universally beloved by the jury, and Yul, who had stepped on some toes. The jury gave Yul a hard time, but ultimately gave him the money, simply because he had played a tactical game, as opposed to a passive one, like Ozzy. While Amanda definitely played a good overall game, including a masterful Idol blindside, she didn’t have any ammunition to counter Parvati’s ouster of Ozzy, which was not only awesome, but changed the course of the game completely. Compared to Parvati and Cirie, Amanda played a passive game, much like her game in China, and I’m convinced that if Cirie had been the third person at Tribal Council, Amanda wouldn’t have received any votes, except from maybe Ozzy, who we all know votes with his penis.

Indeed, this final vote was Amanda’s to lose. And yet… somehow she missed again. I would have been happy with an Amanda victory, not only because it would have redeemed her after a heartbreaking loss in China, but also, I don’t know… she seems like a good person. But that’s not Survivor, is it? Parvati played the better game, so I was more than satisfied when Jeff announced her as the winner. She wasn’t my favorite player, nor was she all that great of a personality, but you have to give her the snaps. She worked it out. And we shouldn't feel too bad for Amanda. After all, she landed a hot jungle-dude (she's dating Ozzy), so she'll never want for coconuts. And apparently, there's a swimsuit calendar in the works. She'll be fine.

Survivor really is an amazing game. If you think about it, it’s really three games: Pre-merge, Post-merge, and Endgame. I think it’s safe to say that Amanda is the best Pre-merge and Post-merge player we’ve seen in a long time, the proof being that she got to the finale two seasons in a row basically playing the same kind of game in both. Her Achilles Heal is her Endgame. At the next to last Tribal, in which Amanda was forced to choose between Parvati and Cirie, Amanda made a huge show of crying over her decision. Look, I’m not insensitive, but that was a really bad move. Having watched Amanda play this game for two seasons in a row, I’m pretty confident that the tears were genuine, but tears never go well with a jury. Observe: there’s Amanda, crying her eyes out, when she’s just clenched a spot in the final. And there’s the jury, out of the game, thanks to her votes. Clearly, Amanda expected the jury to sympathize with her, and that maybe showing some emotion would endear her to them. But, come ON, these jurors don’t give a crap of she’s upset over having to cast a vote. Amanda should have looked Cirie in the eye and said something like, “I really don’t want to do this, but I’m absolutely sure that I can’t beat you in the final vote. Goodbye.” The jury doesn’t respect tears, they respect gameplay, and I think a little more strength and conviction from Amanda would have gone a long way towards earning her a much-deserved victory. What I’m saying is, “There’s no crying in Survivor,” and if Amanda is smart, she’ll never cry again. After all, those tears cost her 2 million dollars. Parvati, on the other hand, not only claimed her lying, back-stabbing, devious ways, but declared them necessary to achieve her goals. Of course, the jury sneered and got nasty with her because no one likes to admit they got beaten, but when all is said and done, they had no choice but to give her the money. It’s all about ego: the jury thinks, “I’m awesome! (Yay!) She beat me! (Boo!) She must be REALLY awesome if she beat me! (YAY!)”

So, congrats to Parvati! And cheers to another amazing season of Survivor. Even after 16 seasons, I still believe in this show. I’m super pumped about Gabon, Africa, and I’m even more super-pumped about the season after that, which is rumored to be set in a wintry climate. Just imagine: Survivor: Siberia. That would be sooooo awesome. And cold. Wait, a winter season would mean no shirtless hunks. I take it back, a winter season wouldn’t be awesome at all.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Reeva Meets Radiohead...

This weekend, I had the honor of escorting an old friend up to Charlotte to see Radiohead in Concert. As usual, I was completely unprepared and didn’t take a camera, so, as is customary, I will reminisce with my words.

I’m not what one could ever call a true Radiohead fan. While they are truly an excellent band, I can’t say I share the obsessive, almost cult-like devotion to their live shows as many of their fans. I own three of their albums, and I enjoy them in my way, so I was very much excited to attend the concert, but perhaps not as excited as some. Actually, I was more excited about attending a massive venue. It’s funny… while I’m usually sort of hesitant to put myself in large crowd situations, music crowds don’t intimidate me at all. There’s something surreal about thousands of people directing their collective attentions in one direction. I imagine there is power in it.

More after the jump...

I was a little concerned about how much I would enjoy the concert, considering I felt like a Johnny-Come-Lately, but I was surprised and then comforted by the diverse demographics in attendance. For every somewhat intoxicated fratboy who felt the need to bellow every word to every song, there was a quiet thirty-something tapping his foot ever so delicately to the beat. For every shrieky girl slowly unraveling on the spot upon hearing the opening strains of her favorite tune, there was a shy, supportive girlfriend hanging on to her boyfriend’s hand, since he was obviously the true fan of the two.

A few years back, I attended a Tori Amos concert with Roommate (and I should mention that he’s about as obsessed with Tori as anyone has a right to be), and I sensed a certain… disdain from the people surrounding us regarding my obvious amateur status as a Tori fan. (Now, they should be thrilled to know that I’ve come a long way in my Tori education, no thanks to them.) So, that’s why I was a little nervous going to a Radiohead show with a decidedly low level of expertise regarding their music. I didn’t know many of the songs (not that it mattered… I couldn’t understand a word out of Thom Yorke’s mouth. He’s either mealy-mouthed or I was rendered deaf by the sound system), and when I would ask my friend what song I was hearing, nearby patrons would not only turn around and answer me, but also offer long-winded explications and thorough background stories about each song. I felt welcome, and the fans seemed genuinely excited to spread the Gospel of Radiohead to me… the uninitiated.

They played a long set, probably 20 songs, and the crowd ate out of their hands the entire time. My favorite moment was Paranoid Android, from the album Ok Computer, which is not only one of the songs I know, but also my favorite. Another great moment was the opener of the show, All I See from their new album, In Rainbows.

After the concert, my friend likened the concert to a religious experience, and judging by the faces in the crowd as we made our exit, she was right on. I’m probably not white enough or straight enough to be the kind of person that “gets” Radiohead, but I can only assume that most of the people at the concert had just experienced something that I could only experience by seeing Madonna – the out-of-body bliss of seeing and hearing your favorite music performed in real time. I really respect that.
Seeing Radiohead has really given me an appetite for live concerts, which is something I never thought would happen. I’ve always been wary of live performances because I usually find them disappointing, especially if I’ve fallen in love with a recording. Like, one time, I went with Roommate to hear the Charlotte Symphony play Beethoven’s 7th (probably my favorite, after the 9th and 5th… I know, predictable), and I was flabbergasted by how kind of… not good it turned out to be. Now, by most standards, it wasn’t bad at all, but I’d gotten so used to my recording of the New York Phil and Bernstein that I noticed every little problem. I knew good and well that this wasn’t the New York Phil and I should probably lower my standards, but for some reason, I couldn’t turn off my critical ear. I wondered if I would have enjoyed it more if I’d never heard my recording, and chances are I would have, but that didn’t help me get through hearing it. I can also mention my Exhibit B: seeing The Phantom of the Opera in New York. I couldn’t stop myself from fixating on the fact that Christine didn’t sound like Sarah Brightman and the Phantom didn’t sound like Michael Crawford. That soundtrack ruined Phantom for me, basically. (But I still love it). To translate that into popular music, let me just say that you couldn’t pay me to attend a live performance of Britney Spears, or Gwen Stefani, or most pop acts. So very few of them can actually sing live, it’s kind of ridiculous. Again, I love my divas and I love the music, and I understand how difficult it must be to reproduce the sounds of their albums on the live stage, but… I don’t know - if it doesn’t sound like what I’m used to, I just get turned off. Don’t confuse what I’m saying with remixes, because those are purposefully different, so I listen with an open mind. I’m talking about pop stars who can’t stay in tune without a production staff. I will buy their albums and gush about them on my blog, but you’d have to trick me like a dog on the way to the vet in order to get me to a live concert.

I think Radiohead may have changed my mind, though. They reinforced something that I knew to be true in theory, but had never experienced… live music can be really good. My mission is clear: I will henceforth be known as a Concert Goer Extraordinaire. Before I expire from this Earth, I must see Madonna (that was true before Radiohead, though), but I intend to attend as many concerts as possible going forward.

So, thank you Radiohead. You made a believer out of me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

To all ya'll moms out there...

Happy Mother's Day!!

My Ugly Betty Obsession has gotten out of hand, no?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Come ON!, Trebek...

Tonight on Final Jeopardy, the answer was regarding the boyhood home of a certain famous composer from Vienna.

The two girls in third and second place correctly indentified the question... Who was Mozart... but didn't wager enough to overtake the gentleman in first place.

His response? Who was Motzart. Seriously. M-O-T-Z-A-R-T. He wagered almost all of his money, so if the judges had felt the slightest bit inclined, I think they could have hit the buzzer. I mean, it isn't like the answer was some obscure Russian composer with tons of consonants in his name or whatever. This is MOZART we're talking about here.

Should he have won? Hmmmm....

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Technical Details...

I have some blogger maintenance announcements to make, but don’t stress… you won’t have to update your feeds or bookmarks or anything inconvenient like that. I’ve decided to close my old site at LiveJournal for good. I haven’t updated there in a several months, (since coming over to Blogger), and I’m liking it so much over here (once I got everything kinda, sorta figured out) that I don’t see the need in maintaining both.

So, what I plan to do over the course of the next few weeks is go through three years worth of posts over on LJ and pick some of my favorites and re-post them here. I know it’s kind of self-indulgent to repeat, but I think post-dating gets confusing. Think of it as The Greatest Hits of Reeva Dubois.

Also, a few of my LJ friends have successfully followed me over here to Blogger, and I really appreciate that -- it means a lot to me. Others, however, I haven’t heard from in quite some time, which… sad face. I hope they do find their way over here eventually, and I promise to update my Google Feed Reader with their journals to keep up with them. Basically, I’m not interested in losing readers and friends, but I think I’ve done everything except mass email my new URL, and I’m trying not to be obnoxious about it.

All of this to say, if you’re following this blog on a feed reader, be prepared for an onslaught of posts that may or may not be interesting or contextually relevant.

Finally, great news! I’ve passed the 650 unique visitors mark on this here web page, and if I understand how all of these web statistics work (which I probably don’t), that’s pretty darn good for three months, considering I don’t advertise. I read somewhere (I’m always reading things somewhere), and here’s a juicy nugget… Some researcher combined statistics from the major blog patforms (LiveJournal, Blogger, Typepad, Wordpress) and found that the average number of unique hits on all blogs was (wait for it…) one. I wasn’t expecting that, honestly. So I’m perfectly happy with my 650 unique hits, and I’m glad to see that people are finding my site AND coming back again later. It’s doing wonders for my self-esteem, if you really want to know.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Netflix Shenanigans and Bonus (Eye Candy!)...

This past weekend, I spent some quality time with my Netflix queue by watching Eastern Promises. I don’t think I need to go into how much I LOVE Viggo Mortensen, because, frankly, it would be like a kid trying to explain to you the size of the fish he just caught… I LOVE him thiiiiiiiis much… basically, it’s the kind of hyperbole that’s unquantifiable, like infinity times infinity… anyway, that’s how much I love him.

So the movie… It’s about a kindly, well-intentioned ER doctor in London, played by Naomi Watts, who finds herself drawn to the fate of a new-born baby whose mother, a Jane Doe, passed away during the birth. She finds a journal, written in Russian, on the deceased mother’s body, and in an attempt to identify the baby’s next of kin, finds herself suddenly and inexplicably knee-deep in the Russian Mafia. Turns out the dead woman was involved in the nefarious practices of said Russian Mafia, or vory v zakone (Thieves in Law), and the journal and the baby are forms of evidence greatly coveted by both the Mafia and an increasingly pushy Scotland Yard. At the center of the conflict is Nikolai Luzhin, played by Viggo, the Mob Boss’s son’s personal valet and “cleaner,” and if you don’t know what a “cleaner” does, I suggest you look it up. It’s, like… something everyone should know.

Basically, Anna (the doctor) starts asking too many questions to the wrong kinds of people and the story unfolds as she attempts to get out of a potentially fatal situation involving hitmen, mob bosses, and knowing too much. The twists are unexpected, the emotional strands are well pulled and well placed, and Viggo has a full frontal nude scene. Granted, he’s fighting two goons with knives while nude, so the blood and graphic representations of severe bodily harm kind of ruin the normal appeal of a full frontal nude scene, but I’ve learned to take what I can get in mainstream Hollywood fare. Also, the Russian accents are truly delicious on the ears. I know some people think Russian sounds ugly, but I think it’s really fascinating… the way the r’s are rolled and the way vowels are swallowed, I mean, there’s nothing else quite like it. What it lacks in phonic beauty it totally makes up for with sheer interest. I could listen to it for hours.

All nudity aside, Viggo’s character is a disturbing, yet strangely optimistic look into the human side of being a career criminal. While these men (and women) are hardened and morally bankrupt, they are still capable of human compassion and decency (at least, in this movie). Supposedly, these people are frightening because they commit incredibly heinous crimes nonchalantly, almost like it’s a habit. This movie asks what is scarier… the idea that they are capable of doing evil, or the fact that true acts of charity feel so unnatural to them? I have a lot of living left to do, but as cynical and bitter and misanthropic as I tend to be, I still believe that people are good at the core. Being kind and thoughtful and compassionate is very easy, but being evil is actually kind of hard; it requires hard work and practice and a hardening of the spirit. It’s the hardships, unfairness, and injustices in life that make good people work very hard to be evil.

The other neat thing I want to mention: tattoos play a big part in the movie. Each member of the Russian mob is etched with many important tattoos that identify their status or rank in the organization. In a way, the tattoos are visual records of the criminal’s life. For example, each stint in prison is documented in ink on their body somewhere. I assume successful hits are documented as well. So like, if the body of a member of the Russian Mafia washed up on the riverbank, or something, a person in the know could tell you the guy’s whole life story just by putting together the pictures. This isn’t anything new or anything, I know that prisoners in US prisons still do this kind of thing. But it got me thinking… if I was to document my life on my body with tattoos, what would that… be?

I remember when I got my tattoo, the hardest part was trying to figure out what to get. I remember feeling a little bit depressed because I honestly couldn’t think of anything I’d ever done or been through that might merit a permanent mark on my body. It made me feel like I hadn’t done anything or been anywhere. I went to school, and I got a job, and you know… nothing special about any of that. But after seeing Eastern Promises, I was laughing out loud to myself thinking of what my body would be covered with if I chose to do it like the Russian Mob. Like, a bust of Beethoven on my ass to symbolize my classical music training. Or two diplomas on each arm to represent my two graduations. Or something to represent those three summer camps I went to… Obviously, all of that’s pretty lame and I would never do it, but again… this gets depressing. See what I mean? This is making me want to go skydiving or something. Anything at all just to feel like I’ve done something.

Anyhoodle… see the movie. ‘Tis good! 4.5 out of 5.

Bonus Eye Candy after the jump!

These two are from the movie...

And finally, Viggo as Aragorn... quite possibly my favorite...

MVD 5-5-08 Robyn / Who's That Girl...

Since Madonna’s new album came out last week, I’ve been listening to it non-stop, which… predictable. But another amazing album dropped that very same day, and I would be remiss not to mention it.

Does anyone remember Robyn, of Show Me Love fame? Neither did I. That’s not quite true… I remember the song – it was the deal for about ten seconds in high school, but I didn’t connect it to the blonde, asymmetrical hair-stylings of the Robyn of whom I speak. A lot of the blogs I follow have been screaming at me about her, though. Starting on April 1, mentions of Robyn and her Swedish-Dance-Pop-Fabulousity have been interspersed with the Madonna hype, so I was almost (I said, almost) as excited to pick up Robyn’s new album as Madonna’s.

This song is why:

Hey, all you band dorks? 50 princess points if you can name the instrument Robyn bangs on during the interludes! I can’t help but feel like her outfit is a shout out to bank dorks everywhere. Do they have marching bands in Sweden? I’m not being silly, I really want to know. Are there Swedish Marching Bands?

God, that’s good stuff right there. For me, Robyn represents everything that is missing from America’s Dance-Pop scene. She’s sexy without being… you know, all about sex. She’s sassy and edgy without being completely unapproachable. She’s got a girl-power vibe, but she isn’t obnoxious about it. And the music isn’t bad, either.

I could be wrong, but unlike a lot of the “pop” coming out in the states, this music seems like it could be enjoyed by people besides girls under the age of 15 and gay guys. It’s pop for the people, ya’ll.

I’ve only listened to her album once since buying it, you know… because of Madonna, but I will say that it’s incredible and I can’t wait to bond with it further. When that will be totally depends on Madonna, so… who knows, right?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Tonight on Ugly Betty...

Special cameos from Project Runway winner, Christian Soriano and judge, Nina Garcia.

I swear, if this show gets any gayer, it'll need it's own Pride Parade. Wait, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea. Now where did I put my leather chaps....