Wednesday, December 25, 2013

One of my Favorite Christmas Special Moments - The Church Scene from "Home Alone"

Plenty of Christmas specials have memorable moments. There's the love story between Rudolph and Clarice, The Grinch's heart growing three sizes Christmas Day, Ebenezer Scrooge's sheer happiness when he discovers that he has not missed Christmas, George Bailey running through the streets wishing people a Merry Christmas, and of course, Linus's brilliant speech about what Christmas is all about.

But then there are the ones that aren't talked about too much or even noticed. One that comes to mind is the church scene from Home Alone (1990). This movie is about a little boy named Kevin, played by Macaulay Culkin, who is accidentally left behind at home when his family goes away for Christmas vacation. Thereafter, while the family is away, it is up to him to protect his home from a pair a burglars.

However, the part I really love involves the subplot, which concerns Kevin's fear of his neighbor, Old Man Marley, played by the late Robert Blossom, because of rumors about him and Marley's scary old man demeanor. Towards the middle/end of the movie, Kevin goes to sit in a church and ends up meeting a rather friendly Marley there, thus easing his fear of him. Marley explains that the rumors about him aren't true, but that he does have an estranged relationship with his son and the only way he can see his granddaughter is by watching her perform in the church choir, which is singing in the scene. Kevin suggests that Marley should patch things up with his son, which he eventually does in the final scene with Kevin watching from his window and the two wave at each other.

In a movie where everything is pretty much slapstick crazy, this church scene is a nice juxtaposition to the rest of the film. It's nice to see a Christmas movie have a spiritual vibe, an acknowledgement for the reason of the season, no matter how brief. It's kind of rare to see religion and spirituality even mentioned in Christmas specials, oddly enough.

Mass isn't even taking place in the scene. Very few people are in the church at the time, the lights are dim, and it is very peaceful and quiet. It shows how welcoming the church is, that you can walk in at any time and just sit there to have one on one time with God. It reminds me of church during the Christmas season in real life and even brings back some of my childhood memories involving church and Christmas.

Another thing that is so great about this scene is that at church Kevin gains a better understanding of his so-called enemy and ultimately a friend (Marley plays a huge part later on in helping Kevin when he is in trouble), therefore suggesting that God is involved.

Isn't that part of what Christmas is all about? Looking beyond differences and fear and just loving one another? In the midst of all the slapstick and humor, this movie manages to teach valuable lessons about having Christmas spirit as well in a serious, well done way.

I unfortunately couldn't find a decent clip of the scene to include in this, but I definitely think you should check it out.

Merry Christmas, everyone! :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"So You Think You Can Dance"'s Season 10 Will Always Hold a Special Place in my Heart

The So You Think You Can Dance Tour 2013 is over, so now it's time to reminisce.

Now I have a lot of favorite "So You Think You Can Dance" seasons, including Season 10, but after I went to the Season 10 tour at the Pine Belt Arena in Tom's River, New Jersey, it dawned on me that there is something particularly special about this one, so I decided to dedicate a whole blog post to it.

I have an attachment to this season. Here are some reasons why. If you just want my recollection of the tour, skip down to #6.


The show has been on for ten years and people still love it. That's a big deal. The season began airing May 2013, which is the same month and year that I graduated college, so I knew that it was somehow going to be epic. I looked forward to both my graduation and watching this season.

After graduation life was difficult for me because like all post-grads, I had difficulty finding work and sometimes still do, being a freelance writer. "SYTYCD" was one of the things that brought me joy in my otherwise frustrating life and helped ease my post-college pain.

2) It was my first time watching the show using Twitter.

I had my Twitter account (@MissStefSears) in time for Season 9, but I didn't really use it as much back then like I do now and didn't know the advantages to it.

This time around, I was able to use Twitter to contact the dancers better, and they would favorite, retweet, and respond every so often, so I feel like I got to know them on a more personal level, a lot more than I did with dancers in past seasons. It was fun following their journey like this throughout both the show and tour. I tweeted with contestants Alan, Aaron, and Jasmine the most.

This was also the first time I watched the show with the CheForce Girls (SOTTMP). These are a bunch of women I met on Twitter through Chehon Wespi-Tschopp, the male winner of Season 9. During the SYTYCD Tour 2012, Chehon tweeted one of the members, Joanna (JoJo), who went to the performance in Atlantic City while she was there and is from New Jersey like myself. I began contacting her and then met other Chehon fans through her.

Made by Ana-Isabel, who actually just gave birth to her first child, Nina, on October 28, Chehon's birthday! :D

They include Jane, Christine, Jess (Canada), Angela (Texas), Jenna, Ruth, Erika (California), Sarah (Louisiana), TheresseBlanche (Delaware), Susan (North Carolina), Kelley and her son Maddox (South Carolina), Heather, Brenda (Massachusetts), Ana-Isabel (Guatemala), Samantha (Trinidad), and Nicole, also from New Jersey. I actually physically met her at the SYTYCD Tour 2013.

Ever since Chehon tweeted Joanna, I have been corresponding with them about the show and life on Facebook. We fangirled when each of us went to our own tour stop this year. It is so great to have met a bunch of girls that share in my SYTYCD obsession, in addition to my childhood friend Lauren, of course. This season I also befriended some more SYTYCD fans on Twitter as well, such as Marie-Eve, Kat, Ivana, Leisa, Kristina, etc.

3) They kicked off the season like this:

This concept is something that has never been done on the show before, and it was also the opening number of the tour. The music blasted out of nowhere and they charged into the aisles from the back, causing screams from their fans. I saw Aaron behind the doors in the back with the rest before anything happened and knew that it was about to happen, but it was only a matter of when. It took us all by surprise.

It was awesome. :D

4) #TeamTall

#TeamTall is the team name for the dance couple consisting of Aaron Turner (tap) and Jasmine Harper (contemporary), my early favorites and picks for the win. They shared a lot of chemistry and threw everything they had into their performances. Jasmine was only in the Bottom 6 once throughout the entire season and they both made it to the finale.

Jasmine always says that her whole life is dance and that she loves everything about it, including the blood, sweat, and tears, and I find her passion and dedication to the life in this way admirable. Aaron returned to the show after rejection from last season and was actually placed in the Top 20 this season through pure luck because another contestant injured himself and couldn't do the show. Making some TV history, Aaron is the first ever tap dancer in the series that made not only the Top 10, but the Top 4 as well!!

What is cool about Aaron too (and some of the other contestants as well, but mainly Aaron) is that we got to interact with HIS WHOLE FAMILY on Twitter. I've corresponded with his mother Christine a bit on there and so have some of my friends, especially Ruth from SOTTMP. 

However, Dushaunt "Fik-Shun" Stegall and Amy Yakima won, but I'm okay with it. During the finale I told myself that I'd be happy with any outcome. They're very talented and awesome people as well. They deserve it. :) AND I also discovered that Amy and I share the same birthday ON our birthday! :D

5) This guy.

Courtesy of FOX

This is nineteen-year-old Alan Bersten. He is a Russian ballroom dancer with a deep accent from Minnetonka, Minnesota. He often wears tank tops, button down shirts that he never fastens, chain necklaces, and OMG ISN'T HE PRECIOUS???

Earlier in the season I wasn't really sure of who he was because I wasn't paying much attention, getting him confused with Paul Karmiryan, the other male ballroom dancer of the season. I was preparing for graduation and put off my SYTYCD viewing, so I had to get acquainted with the contestants a little later on. It was SOTTMP members Angela and Heather that brought him to our attention. My early male favorites were Tucker Knox and of course Aaron, but once I paid more attention to Alan, I was hooked. Other than Aaron and Jasmine, he was my favorite.

Ah, yes. That grin from the early days. It really brings me back.

He. is. adorable. Look him up on YouTube and Vine. He says the cutest things. Other reasons why I love this kid so much is that he's a religious God man, family-oriented (especially with his older brother Gene, whom he greatly admires and has also auditioned for the show), and often cries when emotional. There is something so attractive about sensitive men that cry. What can I say? He just makes me happy. :)

If you remember, I was upset when Jasmine Mason was eliminated too soon. Alan was her partner and his obvious sadness about it is a good part of the reason why I was so annoyed. The two of them delivered a brilliant blindfold contemporary routine for their first dance together, which is one of the most impressive dances I have seen on the show, and the following week was, like, the sexiest Argentine tango ever. The concept of this is that Alan's character was supposed to take Jasmine's innocence. There's this one part where he rips her handkerchief off of her, sniffs it, and puts it his his inside coat pocket.

HOT. I was literally fanning myself afterward.

Then the week afterward she was eliminated. I didn't understand this at all. I tried petitioning with Twitter retweets a bit to get her and these routines on tour, but that didn't work out.

Here are the routines. Judge for yourself.

Anyway, we all moved on from this. Alan kept landing in the Bottom 6 but was saved every time and I continued to vote for him until he made the Top 12 with Malece Miller. Thankfully they, after some speculation and concern, along with week before eliminations tap dancers Curtis Holland and Alexis Juliano, were able to go on tour! This definitely motivated me more to go!

I practically attacked this guy with hugs that night. I heard so much about them. I loved meeting him. :D

Also, at some point during the season, for some reason he started posting stuff like this on his Instagram mostly after he went running...

The top left one was my Macbook Pro's desktop wallpaper for awhile lol

*Sigh* ^__^

Oh. Wait. What were we talking about?

6) The Tour

I always get so excited for SYTYCD tour season. It's my version of AnimeNext and Comic-Con as well as an additional holiday I celebrate up there with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, etc.

After much preparation and anticipation, the SYTYCD Tour 2013 finally came to Tom's River, New Jersey on Thursday, October 17. Now at first I didn't like that it would be taking place in a high school (believe it or not this is what happened) because I didn't think it would create a good enough tour atmosphere. Not only that, it was an hour and half away from my house instead of the usual twenty minutes away like the Prudential Center and New Jersey Performing Arts Center, both in Newark, and Izod Center (formally the Continental Airlines Arena) in East Rutherford, all former SYTYCD tour venues. I don't know what they were thinking when they organized this and actually often laugh about it. I never even heard of the Pine Belt Arena until now. People got lost trying to find it, including us.

But after experiencing it I think it was wonderful. The building is really nice looking inside and out. I am totally grateful that there even was a New Jersey tour location and that I was able to attend. It was a small auditorium, so not too many people were there and I was able to find Nicole easily. My mother and I sat on a center aisle floor seat in the back and were able to see things better up close. For the first time for a SYTYCD tour, I was able to see facial expressions and stuff without relying on the projector above. The routines and transitions were amazing and I absolutely love the group numbers. We even got to see Alexis and Curtis perform solos, which was unique for our show. The sound of their tapping was so crisp. What was cool too is that they tap danced to songs that were playing in the arena before the show started, so I then considered them the tour's theme music. Every time I hear these songs now I think of the tour (Katy Perry's "Roar" and Phillip Phillip's "Gone Gone Gone").

The way the stage was structured, I felt like I was watching the coolest high school talent show. It was a small and intimate setting. What was also nice about it was that it was a night out for my mom and myself, and we were both feeling well. (And by that I mean I had luckily gotten my period over with exactly the week before and my mother, who gets various arthritis pain often, miraculously didn't feel anything that night. :) We also, with my father, went to a nice diner down there with the friendliest staff, which added to the experience.)

Then after the show we excitedly waited on the bleachers in the performance space for the Meet and Greet After Show Bloch Party (Bloch was sponsoring the tour), the passes for which I picked up at the front counter when we first walked in. I had contacted Aaron beforehand via Twitter for meet and greet passes. For some reason, I was nervous about this. I trusted that Aaron would pull through for us to actually get us the passes, but I had never done a meet and greet like this before, so I wasn't sure what to expect and I just didn't want things to go wrong. I wanted to accomplish everything I set out to do that night, including pictures and videos, which were other things that concerned me. God forbid if I ran out of battery or memory!

The event staff, after waiting for a time in the performance arena and cleanup, took us down the hall to a gymnasium, which is where I guess the gym classes and sports events for the high school take place. As soon as I entered this gym, I actually felt relaxed. Well, still a little nervous I guess, but relaxed. I'm not a shy person, but I did want to make a good impression.

They were all standing in a line in the middle of the gym facing us and it was kind of awkward at first so I didn't know what to do. ALAN was the one closest to the entrance and I saw a woman go up to him for an autograph, so when she left I bolted for him. He smiled at me as I walked toward him. I showed him a picture of my Twitter avi that I had printed out because he once tweeted to me that he's a visual person and may not recognize me at the tour otherwise. I wasn't sure if he would know me from Twitter, and this concerned me a bit. I printed it out for Aaron and Jasmine as well. He recognized the avi right away as soon as I unfolded it and revealed it to him ("Stef, of course.") and out of sheer happiness I squealed and attacked him with quite possibly the biggest hug ever to the point where I feel like I may have startled him ("OOOH! It worked! I'm so happy!!!). He came across bashful and quiet to me, but he was still very sweet and appreciative. And we hugged again later that night when I went back to him, this time HIM shyly initiating it and we took a picture of it. Aaron even recognized my avi and remembered my last name! ("Stef SEARS, of course!") Jasmine unfortunately couldn't place my avi, but she tried very hard to and is very nice.

After awhile I socialized with the rest of the dancers, which brings me to the point this whole post is trying to make: They made me feel so comfortable! In the past when I met SYTYCD dancers on tour, some came across arrogant or disinterested. They also were a little distant considering I met them outside by the barricades.

Not these people. Initiating hugs first, they chatted with us as if we knew them for years and I actually felt closer to them because we had corresponded on Twitter. They treated us like friends, not just random fans. Paul even gave me a Bloch rubber bracelet before he left. I originally was just going to take pictures with my favorites because I wasn't sure how hectic meet and greet would be, but it was so casual that I ended up taking pictures with a lot of them. Even some dancers that I wasn't too crazy for on the show scored points with me that night. Some of the guys were even willing to make this shout out video with me, which was something I had planned as a surprise for some of my friends:

After they went to other tour locations, I felt a little tour withdrawal and sadness. I became depressed and cried. I hoped that I took enough pictures and videos, chatted enough, did what I set out to do, paid attention to every detail, etc. I felt bad that I didn't get a chance to talk to Makenzie and Malece who were in the room with me. Tucker was sick, so he didn't come out to the Meet and Greet, so that's something I couldn't control.

I had been anticipating and preparing for this event for so long (including the trials of getting a new camera) and enjoyed it so much that when it ended I wondered "now what?" I'm still in the beginning stages of post-graduation life, so when the tour was over, I kind of lacked something to look forward to. I knew this was going to happen. Them leaving New Jersey somewhat marked the ending of Season 10 for me, and I kind of envied the people who still did not go to the tour yet, remembering when I was in their position. But I also was kind of glad that my tour stop came and went, because the tour had taken over my mind and I needed to focus on other things that I was kind of putting off until after it. But even after my tour stop it and the tour itself were still very much on my mind.

After I met them, I realized even more what a special group this is. They are the type of people with whom you would want to hang, that's how friendly they are. They're also a hilarious bunch. They keep me laughing. Just watch their Vines and you might understand what I mean. I actually miss them and love them more now than I did when they were on the show. Now that the tour is over I dislike how their family has to be broken up after all this time and not involved with the show anymore, but I'm also glad that they are back home with their family and friends and aspiring to move onto new projects. I hope that they continue to have successful dance careers and that we continue to hear from them.

Best of luck to Fik-Shun, Amy, Aaron, Jasmine, Paul, Hayley, Tucker, Jenna, Nico, Makenzie, Alan, Malece, Curtis, and Alexis. It was amazing following your journey and being part of your lives for the past six months. You have brought me so much joy and entertainment. I am thrilled that I had the chance and pleasure of watching you dance live and meeting you. Keep dancing, stay awesome, and please continue to keep in touch! :)

This was pretty much the best time I ever had at a SYTYCD tour. I appreciate this season a lot. They did a fantastic job. I have such fond memories of the whole thing and sometimes it feels like it just started. It's so strange that it has officially ended now. :)

Here are some videos I took of the tour:

Part 1

Part 2

And here are my photos from it:

Another girl, Ivana, uploaded her own videos from my tour stop and I am so grateful for them! I watch them every so often to reminisce. You can check these out here.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Great News to Share!!!

I got published in Baristanet!!! And what is it? A review of a Montclair State University Department of Theatre and Dance production!!!!

This is what I've been wanting all summer! I've wanted a job that would let me write about MSU's shows professionally since before I even graduated because I was leaving The Montclarion, and after searching for so long I finally found one! This is my very first post graduation theater review.

Thank you so much to the editor, Liz George, for giving me this awesome opportunity!

Okay. Let me calm down a little bit.

The play is A Streetcar Named Desire, which I expressed in a previous post that I was interested in seeing, and I did.

Here is my review. Enjoy. :D

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sexual Healing in the Octavio Solis Play, "Lydia"

A couple of weeks ago today in the L. Howard Fox Studio Theater at MSU I saw a play reading of Octavio Solis's Lydia performed by MSU's Acting majors for the New Play Festival. It is about a brain damaged teenage girl named Ceci Flores. The play explains how this happened to her while also showing how it has affected her bilingual Mexican immigrant family living in El Paso, Texas. She wasn't born this way, but I'm not going to spoil you by telling you why and how it happened. The audience hears her inner thoughts, but outwardly to the rest of the characters she is in a semi-vegetative state and doesn't speak. Ceci's mother, Rosa, hires a non-American maid from Mexico, Lydia, to help take care of her daughter when she is out to work.

I actually read Lydia for my first theater class in my first semester at MSU and the play reading was directed by the professor of that class.

When I first read the play a few questions rose for me and the live play reading rose the same questions and even more.


For instance,

The maid sleeps with Claudio, apparently a few times. Why?

This part came out of nowhere to me when I first read it. Claudio, Ceci's father, is mainly an angry guy and is pretty much abusive to everybody but Ceci, so Lydia tells him off for both accounts. Then she straddles him on his chair IN FRONT OF CECI.

It seems to add nothing to the plot or have anything to do with Ceci's story, so why is it there?

After seeing it performed, it made more sense to me and I realized that it was included in the play for not just one reason, but three:

1) Claudio misses Mexico - This idea came to me at the end of the reading through one of Rosa's lines when Claudio asks where Lydia is and she confronts him about his infidelity indirectly. She says something like, "You miss Mexico that much?" as if to mean, "Then go back." Claudio doesn't sleep with Lydia because he has an unsatisfying sex life with Rosa. We don't see them ever interact romantically, but if this were the issue she would've probably included this in her confrontation, unless she was too scared to. The real reason he cheats is that he misses the homeland he abandoned, appears clearly miserable in America, and Lydia, being the only character not an American citizen but a Mexican one, gives him the little connection he has to his home. A good majority of Claudio's lines are in Spanish, which makes this argument more evident.

Ceci states in her opening monologue that Rosa pretty much dragged Claudio to America with her. Rosa is "clerk for the County" and Claudio a short order cook. Claudio could have animosity towards his wife for these reasons, so perhaps romance with her isn't that satisfying after all.

2) Lydia's sexual conquests mirror Ceci's sexual desires - Ceci makes it no secret that she desires sexual contact. When I read the play I thought that the Claudio and Lydia sex was real, but the play reading made me question it. Ceci recites one of her inner monologues during this point and starts off by saying "I dream..." making me think that Ceci imagines this instead of it actual happening. During the play Ceci looks up to Lydia as her caretaker, so it would make sense to have Lydia perform the sexual acts that Ceci is imagining, as if she is experiencing sex through her. It would also explain why it happens right in the room with her.

But then future lines and scenes prove that this actually did occur, more than once, so this theory isn't very plausible but more disturbing considering that it is done in the same room as Ceci in reality.

Even so, why would Ceci imagine Lydia having sex with her FATHER though? Is it because her sexual life is that warped?

This kind of suggests that she is sexually attracted to her father, though this idea is never really explored much nor does it seem important to the plot. I didn't really want to go here because not only is it disturbing, I thought this was the only clue. However, while rereading part of the play, I came across an earlier scene when Ceci has a flashback (or it could be happening in real time) of her father singing to her and giving her a pair of pearl earrings as she "sleeps." Thereafter she asks "Oh what is this yearning inside? What does it mean?" It turns out that later on she discovers she just wants sex. Perhaps this is some kind of Electra Complex (female version of the Oedipus Complex).

3) It gives Rosa motivation to get rid of her - Ceci's love interest and cousin Alvaro patrols the border so he comes to take Lydia away. For the entire play Rosa and Lydia are friends and Rosa even offers to help Lydia get American citizenship. However, once Rosa finds out that Lydia has been sleeping with her husband, all of this goes out the window and she doesn't hesitate in letting him take her away. Chances are if the sex didn't happen or was revealed, Lydia would still be there with them.

Let's talk briefly about how Ceci is in love with her cousin.

Okay so Ceci is in love with her cousin Alvaro, which is actually a catalyst for plenty of the action in the play. Perhaps nowadays this wouldn't make sense or not be widely accepted, but the play takes place in the seventies. Back in older days it was more acceptable to marry your cousin, so this point isn't as far-fetched.

But basically the entire story surrounds the fact that Ceci just wants to have an orgasm.

Sure she is in "love" with Alvaro, but even Ceci herself towards the beginning proclaims the real truth: "I'm just horny!" Even though she is brain damaged, she still has the human sexual desire. As she dances with her cousin in one of the scenes, she apparently urinates. However, this is not how I see it. What she releases to me is the moisture of her sexual excitement, perhaps mixed with urination.

She finally does climax (or rather I think she does) in the final scene...


... and then she dies, which tells me that this was her goal the entire time. Right after it finally happens for the only time in her life, she is okay with giving up her spirit. Think about it. She dies through sexual pleasure and puts herself out of her misery with sexual healing. Maybe that was her plan all along! Maybe she actually wanted to die after climaxing!

In the final scene of the play Ceci puts her brother Miguel's (referred to as "Misha" by the rest of the characters) hand down her pants and he...masturbates her.

Let's recap this. First she's connecting sex to her father, then she connects sex to her cousin, now she connects sex to her brother. There's a pattern here.

During these few moments Ceci puts a pull tab in her mouth and swallows it.

But here's the thing...

Did Ceci commit suicide intentionally or was it an accident?

When I read the play I thought it was intentional to put herself out of her misery, and I actually thought that Misha did the same thing with her, but the way it was performed in the play reading made me think otherwise.

What takes place in the earlier scenes of the play is the "Chekhov's Gun" principle. This is based on a playwriting device utilized by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. What it means is that if you see a gun in the first act, chances are it will be used by the third or fourth act. It's basically a foreshadowing technique.

The same rule is somewhat incorporated in Lydia. We see pull tabs plenty of times throughout the play as the family often drinks canned soda, beer, and place them in plain view. Claudio even throws one out of frustration. I remember them constantly mentioned in the script when I read it too. If you are familiar with Chekhov's rule, or the play itself, you know something is going to eventually happen with these pull tabs considering you keep seeing them. Other foreshadowing is that Misha looks inside of Ceci's mouth in the first scene of the play for no reason and Ceci puts other characters' hands down her pants in other early scenes. There is even a time in an early scene when Rosa shows concern that Ceci would cut herself with the pull tab Claudio drops on the floor, so she enlists Misha to pick it up.

So she puts a pull tab in her mouth as her brother masturbates her so it could be assumed that she did it on purpose. However, we must remember than she is a brain damaged girl that sometimes lives in a different realm than the rest do. Also, when a person is in a sexual ecstatic state, he or she may not think clearly then either. So technically Ceci is not in her right frame of mind for not one reason but two. She could've very well put her the pull tab in her mouth and swallowed out of sexual excitement and not thinking about what she is doing. Or maybe she is just so turned on in this scene that she put the pull tab in her mouth on purpose just for the dangerous sexual excitement it can produce.

On a side note, think about this too. This must've really messed up Misha pretty badly. This is how the play ends so we don't know how he reacts to this. Not only was he performing sexual acts on his SISTER, but she also dies afterward. How is he supposed to explain this to his family? Claudio beats him up earlier in the play for claiming to put a certain plot important dress on Ceci, so what's to stop him from doing it again? How is Misha supposed to live with himself after this?

So why is the play named after Lydia anyway?

Ceci is clearly the main character of the play. Everything circles around her. She obviously is the one that should have the title's namesake.

I questioned this when I first read the play and it still remains a mystery to me now. But let me take a crack at this. Maybe it's because Lydia is a catalyst for some action in the play, she helps unravel some family secrets, she brings change to the characters, she's a connection to Mexico, ...?

Here's something I don't understand about Lydia at all. Every time Ceci mumbles or shrieks something, Lydia is able to translate it into English for the rest of the characters with no problem. Nobody else understands how she has this ability, and frankly neither do I. She claims that she has something in common with Ceci, that the two of them share something, which kind of suggests to me that maybe Lydia's brain experienced some kind of trauma itself in the past. Whatever the reason, it is never really explained.

However, after analyzing while writing this piece, I think I got it.

Lydia represents Ceci's sexual self in the flesh simply because Ceci's sexual self is now only in her mind. From what I can tell, Ceci's only exposure to men in her life have been her father, her cousin, and her two brothers. The seemingly incest feelings she seems to have for these men isn't necessarily as disturbing when explained. It's just all Ceci knows. Since they are they only men she knows and quite possibly has seen in her life, this explains why they are the only men that are featured in her sexual feelings, fantasies, and activities.

It just so happens that these are the men who connect to Lydia sexually. Ceci's brother Rene has a sexual background that influences Ceci's life as well, but I'm not talking about him because his sexual self is a pivotal part of the conflict and twist. Rene lusts after Lydia, Misha falls in love with her, and Claudio has sex with her. Ceci observes all of this while her heart still yearns for Alvaro. Lydia experiences the sexual events that Ceci herself wants to experience, so that's why the two have such a connection.

You know, I didn't really want to do this since I feel like I always look at things through this criticism, but I have to say it again: Lydia is a feminist play. And it is one simply because Ceci, for a brain damaged young woman, is able to tap into her sexual feelings and take at least some control (depending on how you look at it) of both her sexuality and death by combining the two. After being dependent on everyone, especially Lydia, throughout the play, she finally takes matters into her own hands...and Misha's.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Robert Roldan, Don't Ever Wipe That Smile Off Your Face

One my favorite Robert head shots :)
One night in Newark, NJ, on October 17, 2010, I met the love of my life and future husband. His name is Robert Roldan, and he was the third runner-up on Season 7's "So You Think You Can Dance".

LOL JK! Though I did indeed meet him, it will probably just remain an infatuation. I believe he has a girlfriend and I am happy for him that he has such a positive lady figure in his life. :)

Here is why I am talking about him now. First of all, "Taking it One 'Stef' at a Time" didn't exist back then for me to talk about it, but just recently he made "SYTYCD" history, which made me invested in him all over again.

Back in June 2012, Robert got into a serious accident and almost died from it. He told us fans about it through Facebook. Here is what he wrote.

When I first read this I told my friend Lauren, who actually met him with me, about it. We both were concerned but more so grateful that he survived. I knew he had some recovering to do and that he would bounce back, but I never really understood the effects of his injury until recently.

On "SYTYCD" August 13, Robert made a sensational comeback to the show as an All-Star and danced with contestant Tucker Knox. It didn't really dawn on me at first, but this was the first time he was on the show again since his accident. What's amazing about this is that he accomplished what he said he would in his message. There are people that are not able to overcome an accident and resume doing what they love, even in such a short time, so the fact that he did is triumphant on its own.

This is the first time a lot of people saw him again after his ordeal and the dance, choreographed by Travis Wall, was pretty much dedicated to his experience, so therefore it was an emotional segment.

You can tell that he's been through a lot. His body isn't as broad as it once was (but has been growing) and he is more solemn, that's to be expected, but he still has his dancing talents and determination, and he's living his life to the fullest perhaps even more so now than before. But one thing is seriously bothering me about this...

He seems to have lost his smile, both physically and figuratively.

I'm not the only one who has noticed this, for I have seen comments written by other people seeing this as well. I actually kind of hate the fact that other people notice it because I normally notice stuff like that and others don't. The fact that others notice shows that the accident is a lot more obvious. When you look him up, his accident is the first topic that shows up, as if he is defined by it now and this is how he is remembered. He even refers to his accident as the day everything changed.

If you watched him on the show before, you would know that he was a total goofball and everybody knew that about him. During his season he even introduced himself as someone who always has a smile on his face. But since his accident, he seems to have done a total 180 and I'm concerned that he won't get back to the way he used to be. The right side of his face has been altered, suggesting that it was involved in the accident significantly and needed reconstructive surgery, so therefore his structure is now slightly different. Ever since this performance I've noticed that he hides that part of his face away from the camera in recent photos and videos. Either that or he's just not in as many. I think he might be self-conscious of his jaw, right eye, and the right side of his face in general. What scares me is what if he lost teeth in the accident? What if his face is permanently paralyzed on that side and he is physically unable to smile huge and make silly faces even if he wanted to? Every time I look at him now, whether it is an older or newer shot, I focus on that side of his face.

The old Robert often smiled widely and never shied away. His face was always full of expression and beautiful, his smile symmetrical with perfect teeth. Now he's more reserved with small (side) grins if anything.

Now granted his dance with Tucker isn't exactly the most jovial of routines, so I don't expect him to be all happy go lucky here. But even when he was on the show in the past dancing to serious numbers, he still seemed rather cheerful even though he understood the seriousness of the piece. He is still capable of being serious and pulling it together despite his silly personality. But I do understand that his solemnity is warranted because this routine in particular hits very close to home.

I often feel like, why did it have to happen to HIM? Why did this have to happen to the one guy on the show who was constantly laughing and smiling? I wish I could turn the clock back to before this happened.

I feel foolish because I know that it definitely could've been worse. I should be grateful that he is still alive, able to dance, etc., and I am, because if anything else happened instead the situation would've been way worse, but here I am crying about his smile. It breaks my heart to see him this way though because I feel like even though his life, abilities, and health survived the accident, his personality, his essence, I feel was lost in it. And this was part of what made me really admire him and now it's gone and we don't know if he will ever get back to the way he was.

Ever since his return to "SYTYCD" aired, I've been crying about this on and off, obsessed with the idea of him smiling again. I feel kind of embarrassed to admit this because I feel like I am crying about something that is minor. My inner feminist is also annoyed with myself because I am crying about a boy (a boy that doesn't know me, a boy with a girlfriend), something I always vow to never do but manage to do anyway. :P

This past summer was pretty rough for me. I graduated college and was struggling to find decent writing work, getting frustrated with myself and others. I also had issues with my weight gain, which didn't help matters. I could just be melodramatic, but this kind of stuff happening to me made me think negatively about how worthwhile my life is. I tried to keep myself busy tweeting about my summer TV shows and writing my screenplay, and even another play that I wrote in three days. But I still wallowed in self-ridicule because even though I was writing in my field, I still wasn't getting income. Then I saw Robert in this way and it basically topped off my already emotional summer.

But on the flip side, ever since I saw this episode with Robert I began to think about my own life more favorably. When I get angry about my life and think badly about myself, his face automatically jumps into my mind. This guy almost died and yet he's achieving accomplishments despite injury, so it made me reevaluate to appreciate my own life more. As he says in the video, "A second chance is like, the biggest gift."

He managed to go from being my crush to being one of my heroes. I'm crying again as I write this, lol.

I didn't realize what an impact Robert and his smile made on me. I just thought that as time went on since the show he lived his life and I lived mine, and that I enjoyed seeing his career progress updates.

So Robert, I don't know if you will ever read this, but if you do, please don't ever wipe that smile off of your face. It impacts too many people, myself included. Please don't be ashamed of your "battle scars" because you're beautiful inside and out and we all love you. Please try to get your old self back, because he's well missed. I'm proud of what you have accomplished thus far since your season and since your accident. I'm proud of you as well for gradually showing your full face to the camera again. DON'T STOP! KEEP GOING! :)

Since Robert's situation has been making me emotional, I didn't know how to shake these feelings and couldn't stop thinking about it. I went on a Robert photo and video spree, which made me feel happier to see again, yet sadder at the same time remembering what once was. I kept thinking about not only his face, but how traumatized, sad, and serious he appears since his accident. I feel bad for the guy for what he had to endure. I even talked to my friends about it, but it wasn't giving me the release I was looking for. They told me that he's fine, his dancing is all the recovery he needs, perhaps the accident matured him and gave him a newer perspective. These are good points, but a part of me disagrees and thinks that he isn't altogether fine and still needs to feel better in order to smile and act himself more again. It's like he's holding back. I'm actually hoping that one day his face will go back to normal, the way it was before the accident, but I realize that there is a good chance that won't happen.

I decided that the only way that I could finally unload all of my feelings was through my writing, so that's why I wrote this piece, which explains the lengthiness of it. There is more that I could've added to this, but I didn't want to bulk it up too much, so I decided to create a brand new "Taking it One 'Stef' at a Time" series dedicated to Robert called "Roberto Roldano Reminiscing". :) "Roberto Roldano" was a name he dubbed himself back during his own season when he danced the Argentine Tango with All-Star Anya Garnis, and I like the alliteration of the title.

This will be a cute small series that I will post every so often (maybe once a month) so I don't have to bombard you with my Robert fandom lol. It will be therapy for me out of support for him. :)

As time went on since I wrote this, I began to recover from my concern and sadness about it and not really cry as much about it. He began to not look that drastically different to me (I think I am getting used to it like he seems to have) and like I said, he seems happy and is enjoying his life, his personality getting more and more intact. He appears to be doing better. Earlier in September on the show, Robert returned as an All-Star once again and danced with finalist and eventual Season 10 female winner Amy Yakima. I was looking forward to seeing him dance again all week when I heard about it, but I was also concerned about it making me emotional all over again. 

Thankfully, in this episode Robert definitely looked more relaxed and happy. More himself. I feel like it's because he was already on the show since his accident and got his initial return from a long hiatus out of the way. It's normal for him to come back now and he's back in the groove of things. Plus, the routine this time didn't hit too close to home for him to have an emotional reaction. And then he posted this picture of himself on Instagram. It made me SOOO HAPPY and I shed happy tears. Even other people commented on the return of his smile, establishing again that people have noticed the change. This is the first Robert Roldan-like picture he had posted in a while, and it made my night. Since then he and others have been posting other fun photos of him and his progression makes me giddy every time. This shows that he is slowly but surely returning back to his old self! :D

And! And. He danced like THIS in the season finale, thus proving to me that his body is still capable of being quirky. Up until this point I thought that maybe his body was still in recovery and weaker so he couldn't move like this. NOT ANYMORE. There are also Instagram videos of him dancing to the NappyTabs "Run the World (Girls)" routine. HE'S BACK! :D (Gradually.)

I seriously think that his return to "So You Think You Can Dance" has helped all of this. 

And by the way, I have been getting more paying writing work lately. It's as if since he somewhat came back into my life and has been growing I've grown as well. :D 

Perhaps this accident propelled him, and he in turn propelled me, into the next successful stage of our lives. I also attribute some of his new lack of goofiness to his maturity with age.

All in all, at the end of the day, he could've passed away and been gone forever, and that would've been devastating. I am thrilled that he is still with us here on Earth and continues to grace us with his beautiful dancing presence. God is certainly not finished with him and definitely has more planned for him.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reasons Why it Actually Makes Sense that Cris is the "Whodunnit?" Killer

At first I thought it was a joke.

Throughout the whole flashback sequence it was not registering. I even laughed a few times in disbelief.

I thought there was going to be some kind of catch, cliffhanger, anything that would disprove the revelation of ABC's "Whodunnit?" Killer. That wouldn't be unusual for a show like this.

But alas, Cris Crotz was revealed as the Whodunnit Killer and Kam won both his life and the quarter of a million dollars for the first season's finale that aired on ABC Sunday night, August 18.

There she is. This is our Killer, people.
Photo from "Whodunnit?" Wiki

I never really thought SHE would be the Killer. I was dead (haha) set on Lindsey as the Killer ever since she stated that she is a preacher's daughter. How ironic would it be if a PREACHER'S daughter was a murderer? Plus, Lindsey never seemed to know anything unless somebody told her and yet she would always be spared or even impressive to the Killer, much to the chagrin of the true Killer, Cris. She was labeled by the rest of the contestants as untrustworthy and a crafty liar because she bounced back and forth between two groups of people. And, of course, she often acted peculiar to make you suspect her. I actually thought towards the end that Cris was going to win. She carried herself very intelligently, which is not necessarily associated with beauty queens as much as other professions, so it would be terrific if she won this for all the beauty queens out there.

Even when the credits of the season finale rolled I still wasn't convinced that Cris was the Killer but that night and days after I began to think of clues that point to her more and more. I also guarantee you that if we were to re-watch the entire season, which is all on the "Whodunnit?' YouTube channel (AWESOME!!! :D), it would probably all make sense now that Cris is the Killer. Watching them now knowing that she is the Killer is pretty different than speculating them all.

Cris has been answering fan questions on her Twitter (@CrisCrotz) and her answers, as well as some articles I have read, have actually kind of helped me understand it all better to write this piece. :)

Just so we all know, Cris knew the entire time that she was the Killer and actually wanted to be it, but to prevent bias, she had to play the game as well. However, I am writing this as if she did actually commit the murders to better explain why it is fitting that she is the Whodunnit Killer.

Reason #1: Cris Takes her Beauty Queen Career VERY Seriously

The only way I was accepting Cris as the Killer is because how cool would it be to have a Beauty Queen Murderer??? No one would expect that because beauty queens aren't really known for their diabolical villainy or violence.

A lot of the other contestants had jobs in or related to the crime field. For example, Don is a former homicide detective, Ronnie, a bounty hunter, Ulysses, an attorney, Adrianna, a crime reporter, Sasha, a journalist, Dana, a cardiac nurse, and of course Kam, a homeland security attorney. It would be kind of odd to have someone that normally fights crime be a murderer, so that leaves very few people leftover.

To go along with this, we have possible female angst between Cris and Sheri.

Well, the two didn't have bad blood (haha, pun) between them, but I have an interesting theory as to why Cris used Sheri's death to kick everything off. Keep in mind that the Killer spared the people that she felt matched her in stature and smarts. As Giles always said, "the Killer's most worthy adversary."

Beauty queens are judged based on their elegance and posture, among other things, and they are very invested in their competitions. The motivation Giles gives is that the Killer murdered Sheri because she "had to make an example of Sheri because she showed her incompetence by breaking a champagne glass. Her clumsiness cost her her life." The worst thing a beauty queen can do to eliminate herself from a pageant is be clumsy or do something idiotic. The same thing goes for being a cheerleader really, which was Sheri's profession. Cris could've very well originally felt that she was on the same level as Sheri because her career requirements matched hers more than they did the others. But then, Cris felt that Sheri disgraced them both by dropping the champagne glass, so she took her revenge out on her because of her pageant competitive nature.

Then there is the use of the word "mortals." The Killer refers to the contestants as mortals, meaning that the Killer considered herself immortal, or to me, not of this world. Well obviously the Killer is immortal in the sense that he or she would never die on the show, but this word could take on a whole different meaning when regarding Cris. Not of this world could mean that the Killer is an outer space alien. A bit of a stretch, but stay with me. There's also such a beauty pageant as a Miss UNIVERSE.

Ehh? ;)

In the very first episode Cris is the first one to point out the "greetings mortals" thing to the rest of the contestants and evidently called herself a sociopath. From the very beginning she wanted to establish herself and instill fear in her, as Giles says, "compatriots."

Reason #2: Her Dad was a Cop

Another thing Cris establishes in the first episode is that her father was a policeman and throughout the rest of the season shares her knowledge about guns, especially in the episode where they are investigating Geno's death by a silent gun.

She even tweeted that she purposely was hinting at herself as the Killer by stating these gun facts.

Reason #3: Ulysses's Death Episode

Let's talk about the episode "Bum Ba Dee Da", which is the episode where they all investigate Ulysses's death.

First of all, what a lame murder that was! Seriously?! He was poisoned by a flower?! Oooh! Scary!

When compared to the rest of the very gruesome murders, this one is rather tame. Even when they were inspecting his body they had difficulty finding marks on the guy. But here is a theory as to why Cris was easier on Ulysses than she was on everyone else: She didn't want to kill him.

Their knowledge about the facts of the murders determines whether or not they are the next to be killed. Apparently Ulysses failed the most in regards to the previous murder and Cris had to kill him whether she liked it or not in order to follow the rules of the game.

As the season went on, the contestants developed two teams on their own. One consisted of Cris, Kam, Lindsey, and Ulysses, and the other consisted of everyone else led by Ronnie. It pained Cris to have to kill her teammate. If you notice, she and the rest of her teammates were the final three and she worked to keep it that way by conspiring with them. She took down the rest of the others beforehand.

Not only this, but it is a rather "girly" murder to commit, isn't it? It wouldn't surprise me to hear that an ex-beauty queen performed this one.

But she was a BEAST in this episode. I never really noticed her until this one and she was cracking codes like crazy and her sleuthing skills remained this way throughout the rest of the season. It was as if she wanted to work hard to avenge her friend's death that she had to commit.

Reason #4: The Shoes and other Stuff from the "All the World's a Stage" Episode

Here is another example of Cris's cunning in the following episode. She's really a beast in this one too.

This reason isn't as riveting considering anybody could've done this, but Cris was the only one to discover that the shoes used for Dana and Sasha's murders were stuffed. This means that the true Killer's feet are too small to fit this otherwise gigantic shoe, framing Geno for the murder, but therefore suggesting that the Killer is probably a female with small feet. Cris was the tiniest person there.

Cris kept the information to herself and whispered to Kam that she didn't look inside the shoes, and was the only one to find the hidden quarters where these murders were performed. She also knew exactly how to open the bedroom doors from the outside by using a metal contraption. It doesn't take her long to figure it out.

Of course she would be the only one to know this stuff so well. She's the Killer.

Reason #5: Giles Straight Up Suggests it in the Next to Final Episode

Giles the Butler, who plays the host of the show and was enslaved to Rue Manor until the Killer was revealed, pretty much pulled the same thing Chris Harrison of "The Bachelorette" did when he suggested that Desiree was invested in Brooks.

This was the exchange:

Giles: Have you ever been "scared"?
Cris: I have not.
Giles: Interesting.

Getting a "scared" card means that you are a person up for elimination. Giles here points out that Cris never received one all season, and was the only one not to, thus suggesting that she is indeed the Killer.

Gee, thanks Giles! :P That was totally unnecessary! Why did you have to ruin it?

Reason #6: Cris and Kam Have Pretty Much Been Best Friends the Entire Season

If you notice, Cris was kind of invisible during the first few episodes. She laid low a lot, which alone suggests that she is the Killer. The only thing we really knew about Cris is that she was on Kam's team early on and offered him more information than anyone else. She clearly had a loyalty to Kam until the very end and looks genuinely proud of him when she reveals herself as the Killer and proclaims him the winner.

Cris showed friendship to others as well of course, though briefly. In the episode where they investigated Geno's murder, Cris invited Melina to join her team to take her away from Ronnie. However, when Melina decided to take Cris up on her offer, Cris refused her in front of Kam, thus proving her loyalty to him even more.

A lot of backstabbing went on during this show, but Cris's relationship with Kam remained pretty close, so therefore it is no surprise that she is the Killer and he the Winner. When Giles drove Kam home I was wondering why the rest of the contestants were just awkwardly standing there not leaving themselves.

It dawned on me. It's because they're dead and their souls are symbolically trapped at Rue Manor forever. Cris and Kam, the two besties, are the only ones that come out alive. Kam gets to live his life like a normal person while everyone else has either died or been arrested, in Cris's case. He is the only person in the whole show that didn't have anything bad happen to him, and Cris helped him the whole time to remain this way.

A little eerie, isn't it?

Reason #7: Cris Kept Lindsey Alive Up Until the Very End Just to Take Revenge on Her

Cris's relationship with Lindsey was pretty much the exact opposite to hers with Kam. Even though Cris and Lindsey were on the same team, Lindsey was Cris's biggest competition as well. In addition to the fact that Cris had an on and off relationship with her, in the "state your case" segment of every episode Lindsey always accused Cris of being the Killer. Cris technically knew this because during "state your case" they are speaking directly to her. Basically Lindsey was Cris's biggest threat because of this. I don't think anyone thought Cris as much as she did so if Cris were to kill off Lindsey, it would look too suspicious.

Cris often accused Lindsey right back of being the Killer, therefore placing the blame and focus on her rival and taking it off herself. For the times Cris spared her, especially when Lindsey was named the best performer and Cris showed suspicion of this for the viewers, it was once again putting the blame on her but also like a peace offering to try to keep Lindsey from selling her out as the Killer again. But every time it didn't work.

Cris finally got her revenge on Lindsey in the final episode when she set up a death trap for her. A knight shoots her with bow and arrow. The arrow coincidentally lands in her throat, symbolically keeping her from talking anymore by puncturing her voice box.

Cris was very clever in keeping her friend (Kam) close and her enemy (Lindsey) closer so that they were the last three for the finale. What's interesting too is that the guy who never thought Cris was the Killer won (Kam thought it was Lindsey and even said this to Cris during her big reveal) but the girl who surmised her as the Killer every week died at the very last minute, so not only did Cris take away her rival's life, she also took away her victory that she worked so hard for the whole season and was so close to getting, making her revenge that much more sweet.

But one question remains here: Who was dressed as the knight then? Are we supposed to assume that it was a robot?

Reason #8: This Guy's YouTube Channel

His name is KingofJaperica and he has a whole playlist dedicated to his "Whodunnit" musings. They are interesting videos that actually brought some tidbits to my attention. He's pretty analytical and observant.

Then I thought about his videos' thumbnails. Check out who is featured in one of them.

WHAT. What is Cris doing there???

Here's why it's so weird. The thumbnail in which Kam is featured discusses him. Melina is featured in her thumbnail because it was uploaded after the most recent episode sparked debates that she was either killed or the Killer. The video with Giles in the thumbnail talks about the first episode when they all first meet Giles. The video with Cris in the thumbnail doesn't focus on anyone specific, so why is she featured?

There is no way this guy knew she was the Killer, in fact he clearly thought it was Kam, but it's still a coincidence to see her there.

Check out his "Whodunnit" videos when you're done reading this. He recently uploaded a brand new one. Enjoy! :)

Reason #9: Cris is a Great Actress 

After all is said and done, I thought she did a great job acting the part. She wasn't suspicious like Lindsey or Kam but rather played the part of a clueless contestant well. Her wide-eyed shock and fear were very convincing. Even Gildart Jackson (Giles) said the Killer was "someone I completely overlooked." It didn't really dawn on many people, myself included, that she "dunnit." I mean, I didn't write her off completely, but let's just say that she was the last person of the final four that I thought would be the culprit.

Some of her tweets state that she has an acting background, thus proving my assumption about her having this kind of background correct. However, she now works in fashion but would like to get back into acting.

These are of course some clues that point to her and I'm sure there are more. How many can you come up with?

I know I went into this maybe a little TOO in-depth as I come up with these conspiracy theories, given that it is a REALITY SHOW, but it's still fun to think about and I enjoyed writing this. I hope you enjoyed watching the show and reading my explanation of its outcome. :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Check this Out! My Favorite Scene from Sight and Sound Theatres's JONAH on YouTube!

Remember in my piece about Sight and Sound Theatres's production of Jonah where I discussed my favorite song from the musical? Back then I really wished that I could show you my favorite scene or at least let you listen to my favorite song, but I was unable to...

But now I can do both!

Since the DVD is now available, the Sight and Sound Theatres YouTube channel was kind enough to provide a clip from the musical, which happens to be my favorite scene! Cool, right?! I was so excited when I saw this to show you. We bought a copy last week when we went there once again to see their revival production of Noah. What is funny too is that when I first played the DVD at home, I went straight to that scene to watch, which was my plan. And now I see that it's on YouTube for me to finally share with you all! :D

I don't think their channel allows me to embed their videos for some reason, so to watch the scene please click here and enjoy! Now you'll finally get to somewhat experience what I did and get the full effect without just relying on my description of it. I can just let you see for yourself.

Keep in mind that it's not the most epic scene of the musical, but I believe that it's the most fun. I'm so happy that I can actually show this to you so we can share this together because I thought I would never get the chance to. :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why I'm Not Crazy About the New "Whose Line"

The revival premiere of the improv show "Whose Line is it Anyway?" premiered last night on The CW. Unfortunately, needless to say, I was underwhelmed.

First let's look at the positives. I love that they brought back the original cast, which consists of Ryan Stiles, Colin Mochrie, and Wayne Brady. They even brought back the original musicians for the song games, Laura Hall and Linda Taylor. The coolest part is that the set looks exactly the same. Basically, to quote a tweet of Wayne Brady, it's like they never left. They still have the same chemistry with each other. I also really like the new game "Sideways Scene", which is when they perform the scene lying on the floor and the camera films them from above. The audience is also just as cheerful and interactive.

Then there are the minor changes that I'm not crazy about, but I think I can live with. First of all, the guys have aged and gained a little weight, except for Wayne Brady because that guy never changes. It's kind of depressing to see that they have gotten older, but they don't look that drastically different. They still have the same flavor that they did back then. It's like the show never ended but decided to fast forward a few years. The original red background curtain is now blue and the intro music from commercial and title card in the beginning have been altered. There are also new guest performers. These all are actually pretty good changes because it makes it not just like the original U.S. program. It's a clean slate, a fresh start. The red to the blue symbolizes that this is the revival.

Now I'll bring up my true problem with the show. Drew Carey isn't there but Aisha Tyler is.

Don't get me wrong. I love Aisha. I was first introduced to her as a host of CBS's "The Talk" and she is actually my favorite host on that show. I find that I agree with her most on what she has to say about topics and find that she is the one that speaks for me. I even took a "Which 'The Talk' host are you?" online quiz, wanted her as my result, and got her. I even fangirled when I saw her make a cameo appearance on "Glee" as Jake Puckerman's mother.

However, she does NOT fit the "Whose Line" family at all.

I'm sure the guys like her, but you can tell that they feel awkward around her. She's just not funny and tries too hard to be, as if trying to live up to the franchise, and ends up just being too loud or annoying. Every time she tries to crack a joke, they seem to find it difficult to respond. They just grin. She is not that funny on her own show either. I mean, she has some chuckle worthy lines here and there, but on "The Talk" she is more of the serious person of the group, which is fine. You don't have be that funny for a talk show, especially when you're a foil to those funnier than you as your co-hosts. Even though she's not humorous she's still very intelligent and well spoken, which is what a talk show needs. But, you kind of have to be funny for "Whose Line".

As much as the guys made fun of Drew Carey for doing nothing on the show, he made "Whose Line" what it is today. In fact, they actually look a little depressed not having Drew there with them. He wasn't as good of an actor as the rest, but he still made an excellent, funny host. The show originated in Britain, and that host was as boring and unmemorable as can be. Not only this, but the guys are friends with Drew and they made fun of him for everything: sitting behind the desk, pressing the button, having two shows on ABC, his occasional screw ups, his movie Geppetto, everything about him. And then Drew would make fun of them right back. He was one of them. Can you imagine the guys, especially Ryan, who was notorious for mocking Drew, making fun of Aisha? For what? It would be so weird.

They are just a bunch of dudes used to joking around with each other, with the occasional female guest performer, whom sadly is never really as into it as they are. With Aisha as the host, it's like a bunch of goofy teenage boys replacing their fellow goofy teenage boy friend with a little girl, which is kind of how I see this! They are older men hosted by a younger woman. Just looking at them together in photos doesn't feel right. She looks like she doesn't belong. I can see maybe having Aisha as a guest performer, but definitely not a host. Now if you were to see Aisha on "The Talk" with her female co-hosts, she fits right in with their banters, but she's also one of the quieter ones as well, which is another reason why her loudness is so off-putting. It's just not her.

I keep trying to figure out who would be a good replacement host for this show, and I can't think of anybody but Drew! Now, would I feel better if another guy replaced Drew? Possibly. It depends on who it is. And maybe I wouldn't feel as bad about Aisha hosting if there was a female host all along. But I still think Drew is the only one who deserves the title.

From my understanding Drew couldn't host "Whose Line" due to his obligations to "The Price is Right". I don't understand this because Wayne Brady hosts "Let's Make a Deal", which airs an hour before Drew's show on the same station, and Aisha hosts "The Talk". At the time of the original "Whose Line", Drew starred in his own sitcom "The Drew Carey Show". If other people can juggle more than one TV show and he has done it in the past, why can't he do it again?

I will admit that although I was excited about the show's revival, I wasn't really keeping an open mind about Aisha, and I felt this way since finding out that she was the new host months ago on Twitter. I think this is what ruined my perception of the rest of the show. I just couldn't enjoy it fully and found it a little boring. I was so upset when I found out that "Whose Line" and "So You Think You Can Dance" landed on the same night and time, and was grateful when I discovered that there was an All-Star baseball game in place of "SYTYCD" this particular night, leaving me free to watch the "Whose Line" premiere without having to swap channels back and forth. It was a sign for me to watch it. I didn't know what I'd do in the future when "SYTYCD" returns, but now that I was given the chance to view "Whose Line", it was a sign for me to leave the show from that point on. I think I'm going to dedicate my Tuesday nights to "SYTYCD", which was my plan anyway, even though I'm STILL upset that they eliminated Jasmine Mason!

"Whose Line" is a show I turned to on YouTube to cheer myself up when upset or sick, to relieve boredom or stress, or just because I felt like it. I was so excited to look forward to brand new jokes in addition to the reruns with jokes I expected. I hate to say it, but I'm very disappointed and kind of sad, especially seeing how a lot of people seem to like Aisha in the host seat, though I discovered today via social media that I am not alone in my feelings either. I feel like I won't like the show fully unless Drew Carey returns. I'm definitely willing to give it another chance, but yet I feel like not tuning in. I don't see how she got the job.

Maybe it's not her that is the problem. Maybe I'm just seriously missing Drew Carey and nobody else compares to him. Maybe any other host would get this reaction out of me as well.

I just needed to vent this. Oh, and I also decided to watch the premiere of a new dating game show following "Whose Line" on The CW called "Perfect Score". Boy was that quality TV.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Is Social Media Considered a Genre of Writing?

Last Tuesday night I was watching my most favorite TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance". I normally have my computer on during that time but this particular night I decided to turn it off and just express my opinions on the show the following day to my friends.

Then the unspeakable happened. One of my favorite contestants, Jasmine Mason, got eliminated! So after the show I quickly signed back on to express my UTMOST DISTASTE about what unfolded that evening online. Here's what I did.

I started with this. This was supposed to be my Tweet about the show for the night:

Then my tweets gradually became bitter from that point:

As you can see I felt pretty passionately about this. Still do. And these don't even include my responses to other people. But there you have it. I felt so inclined to post these tweets to get my feelings out there. I feel the need to express my feelings in writing online because I want my opinions to be read. You know, with all of my tweets, I could've just written a blog post, but normally if I'm not going to dedicate a lot of analysis to it, I would just tweet it. The same with Facebook. I don't want to waste a blog post for just one paragraph of me just making a statement. So this all being said, here is the question I pose to all of you: Is social media considered a genre of writing?

This thought came to me the night of the show after these events occurred and I went to bed. I ask because it's certainly not as creative or in-depth, and a lot of times not grammatically correct because of aim speak use. Twitter, annoyingly, limits a person's tweets to only 140 characters, so for a person like myself that needs more than that, it can be frustrating. Tweets are mainly for announcements and small statements. They're also good for real time reactions. I do this with "The Bachelorette" too. As I watch I have my computer handy to make comments and my mother has made the observation that by doing this I do not enjoy the program fully, which is part of the reason why I took my computer off Tuesday night. But yet I still had the impulse to post my opinions.

This is what is happening lately with society. We want to post our thoughts on the internet for the world to see or else it feels like they don't exist if we don't. Sometimes I attach my Twitter to Facebook and my tweets land on there as well. I try to justify what I do to myself by saying that while I am job hunting for an arts and entertainment writing job, I will tweet about TV shows in the meantime. At least I'm still doing something in my potential field. However, I get concerned that people get annoyed with my updates. At my graduation celebration dinner I asked my friends Bonnie and Kelly if this annoyed them, and they both applied with a no, and Bonnie even said that people like real time reactions. I think my problem more is that I feel like not a lot of people share in my fandom of these shows and so therefore do not care about what I post. I do this to interact with others and discuss the developments of the shows. Then I constantly have to check to see if I get a "like," "favorite," "retweet," or response in order to feel like what I have to say is validated. If nobody does this, I feel like my posts don't matter and are just random things on everyone's timeline.

Or could it also be just like creative writing, prose writing, grant writing, proposal writing, business writing, screenwriting, playwriting, etc.? There are times when I go job hunting online I notice that the job description duties in the ads include social media, so it's actually important in the business world nowadays.

I just feel like although it is important, it doesn't require as much skill nor does it look as impressive. Should social media writing be held at the same level as the other writing I mentioned?

Dontae, a former contestant from my new favorite reality show "Whodunnit?", actually said on the first episode that he was a writer because he writes on Facebook and social media, so that counts.

I brought this question up at a book signing for author Linda Rawlins at the Fairfield Public Library this past Thursday night, and she said that social media does not count as writing but only as a place to announce something and share blog posts by putting the link to your actual writing. My dad who was there with me shared his opinion with me. He told me that it does count as writing because you take the time to figure out what you are going to say. This is something that crossed my mind as well when contemplating this. Social media is a place where grammar doesn't necessarily matter, but yet I personally still have to make my writing perfect because since I am a writer and have an English degree I want to lead by example. Since Twitter allows only 140 characters, you definitely put editing into practice when tweeting to fit this format, so perhaps it can help teach writers how to say something more concisely.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Sight and Sound Theatres Jonah DVD is Now Available! :D

Remember when I wrote that huge piece about Jonah from Sight and Sound Theatres last summer?

Well, it's finally on DVD!!! :D I just saw that they posted the trailer on my Facebook newsfeed. :)

Check it out. Now you'll finally see what I saw haha. I was kind of disappointed what I wrote my blog post about it that I couldn't find footage of it to show you. Now I do!

Last year when we went I noticed that they were selling DVDs of past productions and was disappointed to see that Jonah wasn't being sold. I was so pumped from it that it was a little saddening that the one musical I actually wanted wasn't on DVDs for sale yet. Maybe now I'll find get to obtain my own copy. :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Children on Broadway: Why Being Repulsive Brats Actually Works

At this year's Tony Awards on Sunday night June 9, "Kinky Boots" won it all with Best Musical, but it's obvious who the true winners are: the kids.

And it's just as well too, since everybody on Twitter claimed that "Matilda the Musical" had been robbed of the ultimate victory.

There are a lot of child cast members on Broadway lately, with "Annie", "Matilda", and soon "A Christmas Story". And every single one is extremely talented. Please keep in mind as you read this that I am not talking about the child actors themselves, but rather the children they portray.

I was never a huge fan of children in shows. They're supposed to the adorable character everyone is supposed to fawn over, but in reality they're only annoying, repulsive little brats. These kinds of characters exist everywhere. The next time you watch a sitcom, especially those consisting of family units with children, check out the younger/youngest kid. Chances are this kid is the most intelligent, smart-aleck of the litter, and we can't even loathe the kid entirely because he or she is there to charm the audience with his or her one-liners. This happens EVERY. TIME.

This is no different from Broadway musicals, apparently.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The MSU Peak Performances Student Production 2013-2014 Season!

Ladies and gentlemen, my first blog post after graduation! And what better way to celebrate than to showcase next year's theater season! :D

What? Did you think I wasn't going to care anymore because I graduated? ;)

I went to Sprague Library on campus yesterday with my dad and of course traveled to Life Hall to see if they had the list hanging up. Before I graduated and last I checked, the heading was there but the list itself was blank. But now, lo and behold, the lineup is up! :D

Normally the list consists of plays I have never heard of before, except for a select few. Out of this list I am most looking forward to A Streetcar Named Desire and 42nd Street. However, I am also anticipating the rest of the shows as well, to see what they are about. Not to mention the dance productions.

Looking forward to it!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Why Carousel is Totally Unfair to Billy Bigelow, its Main Character

(The following is my final column and favorite assignment I wrote for my Column Writing class from my Spring 2013 and final semester at MSU. My professor wrote some minor corrections on it which I have incorporated here and I also included my own changes. He told me that he liked the ending and to chose words that are appropriate for all forums. We were supposed to chose something we passionately disliked and to rip it apart, so that is the reason for my choice of words. Naturally I chose to rant about Carousel because my friends and I have been making fun of it ever since we saw it in Kasser last semester. I could've ranted about the musical in its entirety, but decided to take it a step further and discuss how unfair the writers are to Billy. Somebody has to stand up for the guy and take him down at the same time. I received a B- for this assignment. Enjoy.)

Carousel (1945) is a Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. The music is memorable, the dance sequences heartwarming. Too bad the storyline and characters are STUPID.

From my understanding Carousel is one of the first musicals about domestic violence yet a prime example of how horrible Rodgers and Hammerstein are at tackling controversial issues. However its main character, or anti-hero, Billy Bigelow, is the greatest victim because the writers put him into situations where he is doomed to fail because society just works that way.

Their manipulations go straight down to his gender and make his life terrible simply because he’s a guy. Billy is this flirtatious carousel barker that is quite possibly banging his dead boss’s promiscuous wife Mrs. Mullin and sets his sights on millworker Julie Jordan. Billy touches Julie and Mullin kicks her off the carousel. Now we can say that Billy broke the law because back then men weren’t allowed to touch women, and still aren’t really, but it’s safe to say that the catalyst for Mrs. Mullin’s actions is that she is just a jealous bitch. Billy argues with Mrs. Mullin and gets fired. Mullin returns to the story every so often to seduce him back but Billy refuses Mrs. Mullin because he is aware of her sexual intentions and is a “respectable married man” now - that hits his wife. This is where gender problems really take off. Billy marries Julie and stresses out because he’s jobless and can’t support his family. Why they got married then is beyond comprehension. It’s stated throughout that he hit Julie once out of frustration about this and everybody makes a big deal out of it, for good reason.

Men were always breadwinners, so his concern makes sense. Julie reveals to him that she’s pregnant with their kid and at the end of Act 1 he has this soliloquy song thinking about his future child. Once it dawns on him that he could have a daughter he starts to panic again, suggesting the idea that women need men to take care of them. He doesn’t seem to have any other skill besides his barker job with the ONE carousal in the area, so what else is he supposed to do? Rob someone?

That’s exactly what he and his sailor pal Jigger Craigin decide to do.

Thanks writers. That’s one point against you.

Another reason why it’s evident that these writers hate Billy so much is that Billy Bigelow is a New Yorker with attitude. They throw Billy’s New Yorker personality into a Maine population where everyone else is singing and dancing about how “June is bustin’ out all over.” Chances are if this musical were set in New York Billy wouldn’t stand out so much as a bad guy but rather blend in more with other people like him. Billy comes across as a jerk because the writers decided to make him represent the aggressive New York stereotype in a setting where everyone else does not.

After an agonizingly long and unnecessary group musical number opens up the second act about what a wonderful clambake they just had, Billy and Jigger try to pull off their heist. It goes wrong and Billy decides that instead of going to jail where he cannot look after his daughter, he stabs himself to death because apparently him DEAD would help her more. He goes to Purgatory and though Billy really doesn’t give a crap the Starkeeper decides to help him gain entrance into Heaven. The key is to get his daughter Louise, who is now fifteen, to accept a star he gives her and then he’s good. So that’s all it took to get into Heaven back then? Billy agrees and returns to Earth as a ghost.

Don’t worry. He screws this up too. He tries to talk to Louise and she freaks out so he slaps her. Julie comes out because she hears her daughter screaming. Then Louise states the most insulting line in the history of insulting musical lines: “Is it possible that when he hit me, it felt like a kiss?”

No. No it is not. That is a terrible lesson. But of course Julie stupidly justifies her daughter’s dumb conclusion by responding “Yes.”

It turns out that the kid has been ostracized because nobody liked her father. Gee, that’s shocking. So Billy shows up at her graduation and whispers encouragement. Oh and Julie accepted the star that Billy left on her front porch, so he’s all clear for Heaven now. Yay.

Writers, Billy did nothing to redeem himself so stop acting like he accomplished something. Not only do the writers set Billy up for disaster, they force him to make stupid decisions because of the stupid scenarios they create. He fails again and again and never fixes anything. The best part is he is not somebody we root for, but yet that is the perceived intention for the character.

But that’s okay. The music is still nice.