Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dancing With the Stars Season 6

It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that the most boring overall season of Dancing With the Stars came to a rather boring conclusion that was foregone since the very first week, yet here we are with this season’s cast being unveiled this week. And while my overall boredom with last year’s episodes compelled me to say things like “this show is loosing it’s edge” or “these contestants couldn’t touch years past” and even “I’m just about done with this show” the release of the cast for this season has rejuvenated me and I am, again, pressing the envelope on being giddy. Speaking of which, let’s have a look at the cast shall we?

Lance Bass: the former boy band-er will be following in the footsteps of fellow bandmate Joey Fatone and seeing what he can do. You would think that all the dance training and choreography from the days of NSYNC would translate into a strong showing, but it didn’t help Joey. And let’s not forget the X-Factor; his profession partner, Lacey Schwimmer, is a new addition to the DWTS ensemble.

Toni Braxton: She’s got the pipes, no doubt about that. But this isn’t Singing With the Stars. In any event, she has some elegance about her, which will probably translate well in the ballroom rounds, but may hold her up in the Latin rounds.

Brooke Burke: She’s been on a lot of shows hosting this and that. She’s a pretty woman with a nice body, which helps the cause. If you recall Marissa from last season, no matter how well she did, the fact that she was heavy really kept her from looking perfect even she might have been. She’s dancing with Derek Hough, who’s a lot of fun to watch and had a very strong showing last year, despite a neck injury, with Shannon Elizabeth.

Maurice Greene: Once dubbed “The Fastest Man on Earth”, Mo is trying on a different pair of shoes. He’s dancing with Cheryl Burke who has had great success in the past getting her partners deep into the competition, getting Christian De La Fuente to the finals last year, and winning with Emmitt Smith and Drew Lachey. But she has a tendency not to water down her own movements when her partners are at a more novice levels and makes them look bad.

Kim Kardashian: Has anyone done less to become famous at anytime? Ever? Seriously, she’s done less than Paris and Nikki and that’s saying something. She’s paired with Mark Ballas, last year’s professional winner. So he knows how to get it done with the right tools. Unfortunately, I don’t think daddy can buy her the right tools for this job.

Cloris Leachman: With more experience in front of audiences and on TV than anyone else in the ensemble, I think she’ll hang in for a while if nothing else on the sentimental vote (see also Perscilla Presley, Marie Osmond). Just try not to pass out on live TV.

Cody Linley: Dude, cut your freeking hair already. He looks so damn feminine I want him to either dance with a guy, or loose in the first 2 weeks. He’s working with Julianne Hough, who’s won this thing twice before with Heilo Castroneves and Apolo Anto Ohno. But with a record released this year, she probably has better things to do then fend off the ooglings of a teenager.

Susan Lucci: She has set the standard for staying power in the daytime acting community. She’s paired up with Tony Dovolani who has managed to make the most out of his prior seasons. Of course if Susan’s past is any indicator what-so-ever, she’ll make it to the finals and finish second.

Misty May-Treanor: If you’ve ready any of my other posts, you can surmise that I’m a volleyball enthusiast. I’ve also see Misty play live, and she has a habit of shaking her bon-bon with the rest of the younger and thinner model-esque girls at AVP events. She’s paired with Maksim Chmerkovskiy who was on hiatus last season. I think she’ll screw around too much, and he’ll get irritated with her as he’s done with past partners. Besides, female athletes don’t have a good track record in this contest (see also Monica Seles).

Ted McGinley: This guy’s been bumming around Hollywood for YEARS, and while you may not know the name, you’ll know the face. If he can keep from sexually harassing the dancers and competitors, he might do some damage.

Jeff Ross: Like female athletes, male comedians don’t tend to hang around too long. (see also Penn Jillette, Adam Carolla). He’s dancing with Edyta, who can’t seem to keep her clothes on while on stage, and who also has a short temper for people screwing around. Must be a Russian thing. He probably won’t be around too long.

Warren Sapp: Don’t think an offensive lineman can move? Then you never watched Sapp play ball. In spite of his size and appearance, the man can flow. However, he’s paired with Kym Johnson, who is roughly the size of this left leg. Penn had a rough time working with her last season just because he’s so tall and she’s so short. And the aforementioned career as an offensive lineman doesn’t often suggest that someone’s small.

Rocco DiSpirito: James Beard award winning chef, author, host, and one of my personal heroes. A bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but seeing Rocco on TV definitely compelled me to spend more time in the kitchen. He seems like he knows enough to know that he doesn’t know everything, which is a good attitude to have in this contest (see also Cameron Matheson). He’s taller and in better shape then a lot of the other men in the show, which will help his lines look better naturally. And he’s paired with Karina Smirnoff who has had strong showings in the past. Unless he falls down, literally, or uses an ethnic slur on live TV, he’s getting my votes.
The first episode airs Monday, September 22 at 8 on ABC.

Friday, August 22, 2008

US Olympic Volleyball in 2008

When I was in college and at the height of my volleyball prowess, I was able to go up to Ohio State and watch their NCAA men’s team play what turned out to be a very exciting and impressive match against Lewis University. What was interesting to me was that the bulk of the Lewis roster was foreign. Most of them, at least the starters, were from either Latin America or South America. Paul, my friend, teammate, and co-fan on this particular adventure was telling me that as far as volleyball goes globally, the US as a whole is just behind. It made sense at the time. And to watch the foreign players, there was something intangible about them that made them better.

Now flash forward 5 years. Ultimately, the popularity of volleyball in the US is still not what it is in other parts of the world. How can you tell? Riddle me this; when’s the last time you saw a pro club volleyball team face off against a conference rival? In Europe and Russia in particular, volleyball has reached epic heights of popularity, such that the top players make NFL-like salaries. Lloy Ball and Clay Stanley, both Americans playing in Russia, have made comments that they top-paid player in their league makes the Russian equivalent of about $3 million a year. And with the failing dollar, inflation, a bad dow… sorry, got off track there.

Now the time has come to reclaim the overbearing, overwhelming, and over competitive nature of American gamesmanship. The last time the Americans even sniffed a medal round was in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Granted they took the gold, but then got thumped in Sydney in 2000, and again in Athens in 2004. This year though, the US is poised to collect every single gold medal there is across 4 different volleyball venues.

This week, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh ousted the top seeded Chinese team to win their second consecutive gold medals in beach volleyball. Last night, or maybe this morning depending on what side of the world you live on, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rodgers beat Brazil in 3 exciting sets to capture their first gold medals, also in beach volleyball. And this weekend, both the men’s and women’s indoor teams will play in gold medal matches, guaranteeing at least a silver.

Congratulations to all of them. And let any skeptics take notice that the US is not a second-tier talent on the courts any longer.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's French for Booty-Whoopin'?

Comment dit on “booty whoopin’” en francias?

Again the Games of the Olympiad are upon us. I have a many blog entries about sports, and at least one other one about the Olympics, though it was about the winter games. But as I have said before, I love the Olympics. We turn it on in our house when we get home from work, and just leave it on all day long.

Last night was the finals of the men’s 400-meter freestyle swimming relay. If you didn’t see it, go to youtube.com and I am certain you will find it there. To sum it up, the US was not favored to win, as teams from France and Australia each had teams that were considered to be superior. However, in order to keep Michael Phelps hopes of winning 8 gold medals in a single Olympiad, the US had to overcome all odds.

Going into the final 100 meters, they were lagging behind powerhouse, France. At the turn with 50 meters left in the race, team captain and anchor Jason Lezak decided not only to overcome the lead built up by the French, but to also swim the fastest split in the history of the planet to do so. Oh yeah, and while he was at it, he helped the US not break, but absolutely shatter the world record for this even by 4 seconds. Considering the gold and silver medals were determined by a difference of .08 seconds, 4 full seconds faster than they world record is roughly an hour.

What was just as impressive though, was that the US was not the only team to break the world record. Point of fact, even the bronze medal team from Australia was ahead of the pace when the race ended. As if one team breaking a world record isn’t impressive enough, 3 did it…though none faster than the US.

So now, with his two trickiest events safely stowed with gold medals, Phelps’ aspirations of 8 golds is very much alive. But that’s not all…

Alain Bernard, the wanna-be punk-ass anchorman for the French team said when asked about the American team “The Americans? We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.” So a day after, let me pose this question; How does it feel to break a world record by just a shade under 4 seconds and still take second?

USA! USA! USA!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Financing Generation Y

I read MSN.com a lot. It’s like my newspaper in the morning only it doesn’t leave my fingers black with newsprint. I like glancing over the articles when I have a little free time in the morning at work, and I think that’s because I don’t feel like anything is written over my head. The newspaper tends to have stuff in there that I just don’t care about.

I find myself reading the money articles on MSN most frequently. They appeal to me because they seem to be focused largely on my generation, and our general lack of financial knowledge and responsibility. The fact of the matter is they are right. I’ve done some stupid stuff with money I don’t yet have…thank you very much Mr. Visa and car loan. But I feel like my wife and I have taken very serious steps towards shedding the want it now, buy it on credit mentality. Actually, to be fair, she’s never been that way the whole time I’ve known her. So it’s more accurate to say that she has helped me to shed that mindset. The rest of our generation thinks differently however, and MSN thinks that enough people think differently that it deserves and article. (http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/HomeMortgageSavings
/WhyGenerationYIsBroke.aspx?GT1=33011)

Some of it is a sob story. Some of it has legitimate points and concerns. But there was one point in summary of the whole thing that got me thinking enough to put together a blog entry. It poses the question “Is generation Y dumb? Or just lazy?” If you read the article, there is a threaded forum discussing the ins and outs of this very question. Everyone has something to say from “my son is in this age range and he’d rather play then work on a nice day… blah blah blah.” Yeah, wouldn’t we all? That’s got nothing to do with the generation. To “I’m not sure the author got the dates of what defines Generation Y right?” Apparently they all missed the point.

When it comes to the protection of our finances, social security number, annuities, the very foundation of our monetary future, no one can afford to be dumb or lazy, regardless of generation. So when the question is posed “are they stupid, or are they just lazy?” I have to respond, “It doesn’t matter. Either attitude will lead to you being broke.”