Friday, June 26, 2009

SYTYCD - Week 3

Alright, almost caught up! Whew.

But, before we start, can I say how much Toni Basil is a waste of space on the show. Seriously, I fast-forward through everything she has to say. With all the other great people they rotate through that 3rd judges chair, I'm not sure why they keep bringing her back. Sigh.

Jonathan and Karla - Dave Scott Hip Hop: Good choreography, liked the hat tricks and stuff. However, while I thought Karla could move and did a good job looking comfortable in the routine, Jonathan looked soooo uncomfortable with everything. It really wound up being pretty messy at the end of the day. Not good.

Vitolio and Asuka - Mandy Moore Jazz: For me, this was another case of good choreography and bad execution by the dancers. Asuka and Vitolio were both back to bland, no personality mode, which made the whole routine feel very boring and meh. Put Melissa/Ade in that routine and it would have popped off the screen. Blah!

Ade and Melissa - Tony Meredith Rumba: Hot, hot, hot!!! Both of them were incredibly strong and gave each other something to play off of. Their chemistry is absolutely believable to me and I love watching them dance together. Can I also just metion how Melissa is ripped?! Good lord! Quite nice with Ade's abs, dontcha think? ;)

Brandon and Janette - Dave Scott Hip Hop: Finally! A routine that shows off their dancing skills! I thought this routine was super fun and showcased both of their talents very well. Who knew Brandon was so freaking great at hip hop? I was very impressed. Great choreography and Brandon and Janette absolutely sold it. Fabulous!

Kupono and Kayla - Jean Marc Genereux Viennese Waltz: Lord knows this has been a hot mess before on the show, but this routine was very pretty. It felt a bit fast for me for being a Viennese Waltz, but they danced it well. I would agree that's it not something that I think will cause people at home to jump up and down, but it was a good solid performance. And Kayla is still just a ridiculous dancer.

Evan and Randi - Mia Michaels Contemporary: One of my favorite choreographers paired with one of my favorite couples? Holla! Oh and it was quite a match, wasn't it? I love me some kooky and crazy Mia characters and this fit the bill. Evan and Randi were fantastic in executing the dance steps and really bringing the characters to life. I was worried though, when she started the dance in 5 inch platform stilettos (broken ankles, anyone?), but I thought the way they became part of the props for the routine was very cool. LOVE this routine. LOVE IT!!

Jason and Caitlin - Jean Marc Genereux Paso Doble: I wasn't a fan of this routine. The music was a bit much, the choreography felt rushed and Jason and Caitlin looked sort of frantic performing it. Not my cup of tea.

Phillip and Jeanine - Tyce Diorio Broadway: How fun! I really like "Moses Supposes" anyways, but I liked the routine Tyce choreographed around the song and was pleased to see the couch was a large part of it - a nod to the original number. I know the judges thought Phillip needed to up his game, but I thought they were both quite good and brought lots of energy and Broadway charm to the number. Super cute!

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Anyone else LOVE the collaboration between Dimitri and NapTab for the opening group number? I'm a huge fan of hip hop/latin fusion to begin with and this number was a beautiful blending of both dance styles into a number that was sexy and fun and worthy of a music video. A+!

Bottom 3 - made sense. All 3 numbers had problems and I was happy with who was chosen for the bottom this week.

For the girls, I really wasn't sad to see Asuka go. I totally agree that she doesn't seem to be growing at all and think it was her time to leave. For the boys, Jonathan had to go. He's only had one really good routine and his solos are incredibly weak. That said, Vitolio and Jason aren't fairing much better when it comes to solos and I think they're going to really have to step it up if they want to stay around much longer. I do hope, though, that being paired with Karla will bring out some personality in Vitolio already. We shall see.

SYTYCD - Week 2

I've been out of town this week, which is why this is so horribly late. Vacation recap to come sometime next week. Highlights include some kickass pictures of a jaguar mid-meal, jumping dolphins and a bunch of monkeys. :)

Evan and Randi - Louis van Amstel Jive: It was, wait for it, FUN! ;) In all seriousness, I thought it was good. Upbeat, lots of energy, good choreography. I agree that Evan wasn't quite as sharp and intense as I was expecting him to be, but overall, a good way to start the show.

Ade and Melissa - Sonya Tayeh Jazz: I LOVE this couple. I would never have put them together, but they are perfect with each other. Sonya's choreography is quirky and weird and they performed it with reckless abandon. I also love that Melissa is a) the "grandma" of the show at a whooping 29 (old married hags unite!!) and b) a ballerina that can actually move. One of the best routines of the night.

Jason and Caitlin - Shane Sparks Hip Hop: Oh, this just made me sad. As most of you know, I am a huge Shane Sparks fan. Huge! But, this piece just wasn't good. And it was made worse by the fact that they dancers totally missed the mark. Painful to watch, like I cringed through the whole thing. Ugh. Not good dude. :(

Brandon and Janette - Doriana Sanchez Disco: I should fess up now, I'm not a huge fan of any of the disco routines. They usually seem rushed and frenzied, which I know is disco, but personally, I just don't think it translates well for this show. That being said, I think Brandon and Janette brought a ton of energy to the routine and danced it well. Not memorable, but enough to keep them safe.

Vitolio and Asuka - Louis van Amstel Waltz: This was quite lovely. It was nice to see a bit of personality from both Vitolio and Asuka for a change. Beautiful choreography and they did justice to it. Very nice.

Max and Kayla - Brian Friedman Pop Jazz: So happy Brian Friedman is back! This routine was fun and out there, but I was worried that it might not go over so well with the folks at home. :/ While I think Max did a good job, Kayla was fabulous. Her lines and extension are sick and I really love watching her. Nice.

Jonathan and Karla - Stacy Tookey Contemporary: Love this new choreographer. The routine itself was absolutely breathtaking, but the chemistry between Jonathan and Karla feels fake to me. I would love to have seen Evan and Randi or Melissa and Ade perform this routine instead - I think it would have brought the feelings in the routine to a whole other level. As it was, A+ for choreography, B for performance.

Phillip and Jeanine - Tony Meredith Tango: Well, this was rough, wasn't it? Jeanine looked stunning, but poor Phillip. Not much flow and the undercurrent of terror on his face didn't help matters any. Looks like it could have been a good routine, but there were too many distractions for it to really pop. I like this couple, but this wasn't their week.

Kupono and Ashley - Shane Sparks Hip Hop: Argh! What the hell is going on with Shane Sparks! Seriously, he is breaking my heart. :/ The choreography was just not that good and again, the dancers didn't help matters any. This was just kind of a mess. Not a good night for hip hop. :(

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Let's start off by talking about the group number from Mia Michaels. LOVED IT!!! So awesome. And Ade?!? For me anyways, he totally stole the spotlight when all the boys were dancing together at the beginning. I'm telling you, he is fabulous!

As for the bottom 3, I don't think it was quite right. Much as it pains me to say it, Phillip and Jeanine probably should have been in the bottom instead of Max and Kayla. For the girls, I think sending home Ashley was right. Her solo wasn't strong compared to the other girls and I think overall, she is probably the weakest dancer of last week's bottom 3 girls. Still sad to lose her as she didn't really have a chance to even get started.

As for the boys, I don't get how they sent home Max and not Kupono. Don't get me wrong, I like Kupono, but I think his solo was quite weak and his performance in the hip hop routine wasn't anything to write home about. I didn't agree with the decision, but it is what it is.

Up next, recap of Week 3.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

SYTYCD - Week 1

SYTYCD is one of my favorite TV shows as is painfully obvious to anyone who knows me well. I really wanted to do a weekly recap last year, but was too busy with moving and other stuff to sit down and do it. I'm going to give it a shot though for Season 5. No spoilers until the end, and I'll put a big spoiler alert up before I reveal my thoughts about who was sent home.

Phillip and Jeanine - NapTab Hip Hop: What a way to kick off the real meat of the show! Obviously, Phillip is a master at his particular style of hiphop, but I loved how Jeanine kept up with him and Phillip didn't try to outshine her. The mark of a real partnership right there. Loved them, loved this number!

Vitolio and Asuka - Tyce Diorio Broadway: How can two people with so much personality off-stage be completely flat on-stage? Tyce gave them a cute routine to work with and their lack of personality left it totally flat. Disappointing.

Jonathan and Karla - Tony Meredith Salsa: It was alright. They both showed a lot of energy, which was good, but I thought it was really unmemorable. We didn't know much about either contestant before tonight and this didn't do much to make me want to pick up the phone and vote. Meh.

Evan and Randi - Tyce Diorio Jazz: Completely believable - they are another brillant partnership in the making. I totally agree with Adam Shankman in that they dance like they're 8 feet tall. Tyce gave them a beautiful and difficult routine and they danced the hell out of it. Gorgeous lines, stunning lifts. Loved it!

Tony and Paris - NapTab Hip Hop: Huh. Well, the choreography was good, but the dancers didn't sell it. It was just okay, nothing memorable. Meh.

Jason and Caitlin - Nakul Dev Mahajan Bollywood: After the amazing Bollywood routine Katee and Josh performed in season 4, these two had a lot to live up to. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it was better than last season's routine, but it was pretty awesome. Great choreography, fun song and they really went for it. Loved their energy and the connection they had with each other. I also really liked that they utilized Caitlin's gymnastic ability and had her do an 8 count upside down. So cool! Two thumbs up.

Brandon and Janette - Louis van Amstel Foxtrot: Not the most fiery routine, but I thought they did a beautiful job with giving it as much personality and flare as they could while still maintaining the structure and feel of the dance. The lifts they performed were hard, but them definitely made them look easy - a real tribute to Brandon's strength and Janette's flexibility. Good solid performance.

Kupono and Ashley - Wade Robson Jazz: So quirky and cool. Loved it! Maintaining a character like that for an entire routine and making it believable is hard, but they killed it! Even with all that makeup, Ashley is delightful to watch and her personality came through bigtime. Kupono did an excellent job being quirky cute as well. I think part of the reason why it was so seamless was that not only did they stay in character, but they danced it perfectly. So awesome.

Ade and Melissa - Mandy Moore Contemporary: Gorgeous. That was such a difficult routine, especially the lifts, and they executed it beautifully. Another great partnership in the making. Loved it.

Max and Kayla - Louis van Amstel Samba: Okay, so this was fiery! ;)I wasn't quite as in love with it as the judges, but they sold it - Kayla was especially impressive seeing as how she has had no previous ballroom training. Nice choreography that showed off both of their strengths.

Overall, I think this might be the strongest group of contestants right out of the gate. I feel like everyone, the choreographers and dancers, are really bringing their A game, which makes this show so fun to watch.

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I think America absolutely got it right on who was in the bottom 3. As for the solos, frankly, I wasn't impressed with any of them. I don't know if it was nerves or what, but they're gonna have to dance a helluva lot harder than that if they're in the bottom 3 next week. I think it's pretty crummy that Paris basically got sent home because the other contemporary dancers are better than her, instead of strictly comparing her to Asuka and Karla, although none of them really had me fired up. I figured that if Paris was going home, then Tony would follow. They tend to send home whole partnerships in the early weeks, and since none of the guys were all that great, it made sense that Tony would be out of there.

Meh. Not too upset by the cuts this week. I predict that it'll start getting particularly tough come week 4 or 5.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

NBA Finals 2009 - Game 1

***Please note: The pictures below were taken with my little point and shoot. I know that doesn't inherently mean crappy pictures, but we were running late on the way in so I was snapping away haphazardly and once inside, taking pics at 8x zoom in a dark stadium, even with cranking up the ISO, still leads to pretty crummy pics. Although, I guess I get a few points for even realizing I could switch to manual mode on the point and shoot and kind of know what I was doing, right? Anyways, I would have loved to have the SLR there, but I had low hopes of actually getting it through security. Okay, you've been warned.***

Now that the Lakers just pulled out a nail-biter of a win for Game 2, how 'bout we look back at Game 1. You know, the one they won without giving their fans heart attacks. Staples Center was nothing less than a big 'ol Purple and Gold party on Thursday night. More Laker jerseys than you could shake a stick at and everyone smiling and in a festive mood. Great way to get the series started. In addition to all the Lakers fans, there were also a few folks sporting Magic gear. Including a group decked out in Superman capes. They got booed well before they ever entered the building. Once inside we got t-shirts. Jim quickly put his on to disguise the blue work shirt he was wearing. Good call. Tip-off was quickly approaching so we grabbed our usual grub and settled in to watch the teams warm-up. Um, if you didn't know this was a finals game, well, the ridiculous number of cameras on the court would be enough to clue you in. The Magic were introduced first. Boooo! Then the Lakers! YAY! The hoopla before the Lakers take the court is quite spectacular and the fans go gaga for it. The video shown on the screen changes throughout the year and for playoffs, it changes for each series. Pictures don't do it justice. Finally, the Lakers are introduced. Magic Johnson presented the game ball, which the crowd loved. After checking in at the scorer's table, they were off and running. Dwight Howard shot (and missed) a bunch of free throws. The Laker girls kept us entertained during timeouts. End of the first half and Lakers were up by 10. Kobe stopped for a quick interview before heading to the locker room. The half-time entertainment was, um, interesting. The is the Red Panda acrobat. She balanced multiple bowls on her foot and then tossed them up and caught them on her head. I kept expecting a spill, but there was none to be had. It was strangely impressive. The third quarter started off with a bang. The Lakers quickly opened up the lead and the crowd was pumped. By the fourth quarter, it was pretty obvious that it was going to be a blow-out, but the Lakers kept pounding - and none more so than Kobe.Why? Well, I think it probably had something to do with wanting this: That'd be 40 points - A Finals Game record for him.

The fourth quarter is also when a bunch of shenanigans occur during timeouts. The first - celebrity watch. The jumbotron featured Andy Garcia, Billy Idol, David Arquette and of course, Jack Nickelson. Kayne was also shown, but I couldn't get my camera up fast enough. Besides the real celebrities, the Chili's Fan of the Game is also highlighted on the jumbotron. The kid that won this week was particularly awesome. He wore not one, not two, but 6 jerseys from various Lakers players one on top of the other and kept lifting them up to reveal another and another and another, would get to the last one and start all over again. Hilarious!
Before we knew it, the pain the Lakers inflicted on the Magic came to a close. Lakers win! Wheeee! On the way out, we ran into the Superman crew again. They look a bit worse for wear, no? They were heckled so much as they left Staples. Teeheehee.

Next stop:

Photography is fun!

As some of you may know, I'm finally learning how to use my digital SLR camera by taking a Photography 101 class with a tater and a monkey. And yes, where three or more of us are gathered, we're inevitably shushed. In fact, I've even been shushed twice - once as part of our little group and once on my own for trying to explain something to one of our classmates that is not the brightest bulb in the bunch.

Aside from the shushing, I'm actually learning a lot! I'm starting to feel confident shooting in manual mode and I now know what most of the buttons on the camera do, even if I don't always know when it's best to use them. While we're not graded, we are given assignments to complete each week to actually try the concepts and techniques presented in class. Assignment 1 wasn't much to look at and my ankle issues didn't leave me with any time to complete assignment 3, but I got some good shots for assignment 2. Wanna see?

Random shots around the house and on my drive home from work:




Playing with white balance:


Playing with F stops:
F5.6 1/200F20 1/25 F5.6 1/160F20 1/25


For this week's assignment, I even took a little field trip, but will post those pics later this week after I sort through everything. I still have a lot to learn, but I'm definitely much better than I was just a few weeks ago.