Friday, February 03, 2006

You heard it here first

Yeah, TV shows are after ratings, and "Dancing with the Stars" will disappear if its ratings aren't good. So maybe it's a small price to pay to have the audience vote, even if they don't like the same things I do.

Even so, I'm guessing that Tia Carrere will be gone this week, instead of the more deserving George Hamilton. Jerry Rice is next to last, but he's better than Hamilton and probably has strong audience support. Whatever happens, surely all three will be gone two weeks from now. Anyway, we'll find out Friday night.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Upcoming dance competitions

Alright, Midwesterners, I'm giving you plenty of warning. Two terrific competitions will occur in the next month and a half, and you'll get a chance to see some of the best dancers around at both of them.

The Indiana Challenge should be going on Feb 23-26 at the Radisson in Merrillville, IN, just southeast of Chicago. Their website seems to be kaput, though. Anyway, last I knew they where going to have Bob Powers and Julia Gorchakova there as feature performers, and those two only monopolized the American Rhythm championships for a decade or so.

Then on March 9-11 there's the St. Louis Star Ball. Past competitors have included Ben and Shalene Archer Ermis, repeat American Smooth champions whom you may have seen on the recent "American Ballroom Challenge" show, and although I don't know their plans I'd be surprised if they didn't make it to nearby St. Louis from their home in Nashville, TN. Other terrific competitors will be there too, putting on a memorable show there as they have for years.

If you do decide to show, dress up or you'll look out of place. And there will be intermissions, so be ready to dance.

For you Easterners, don't miss the Heritage Classic in Asheville, NC around the end of February. Or Westerners can go to Utah for the US National Amateur Dancesport competition on the BYU campus in Provo.

These are just a few of the competitions that happen across the country over the course of a year. No more excuses - come on out!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Musical blegging et al

Remember the old show "Name That Tune"? I'm looking for a way to play it, with search engines as contestants.

Well, it's not the game I'm after, it's the songs. Once in a while I have one I'd like to identify, and you can bet your sweet patootie that someone out there knows it. But how do I find the info?

Imagine recording something, feeding it to Google, and getting a list of songs and artists back. Precise tuning might be able to distinguish between separate takes, or a fuzzier search might find, say, "He's So Fine" and "My Sweet Lord".

Then it could be scary too. Imagine being able to record someone, feeding it into a search engine and having it return a list of names. They're probably working on it now, for the new Chinese Google.

Sometimes you can find songs from the lyrics. There's a commercial, I think for the US Winter Olympic team, that was playing something I hadn'd heard. I could make out "you're gonna fall behind me" and fed it to Google. Sure enough, it pointed me straight to the Donnas, a punkish SF based girl group.

But what to do with instrumentals? Like, say, the song they play on Taco Bell commercials? This might be a step in the right direction, but we're limited by whatever they happen to have in their databases.

Oh yeah, I've gotta know that "ooh baby baby" song they play on the boom box on the Sprint/Nextel commercials. Then just wait for the next status meeting...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jimmy Carter: wrong then, wrong now

Cataloging the errors of ex-President Jimmy Carter could keep a blogger busy full time for quite a while. Many of these involved energy - apparently he never fully appreciated that it's an essential part of habitat for humanity.

Rod Adams corrects some misinformation about Carter's qualifications with nuclear power here.

But don't stop there - make Rod's blog a regular stop.

Dancing with the gangsters

Disturbing things happening in the world today. Hamas won an election. Iran is rattling sabers and allegedly is in the final stages of developing nuclear weapons. China is dealing with internal disturbances. The genocide goes on in Darfur. And Master P has made a mockery of "Dancing with the Stars".

DWTS is now in its second season. It's a way for B and C list celebrities to get some exposure while competing against each other in rumba, foxtrot, tango, etc. They are judged by a panel of three experienced judges and response from the TV audience - supposedly each is weighted equally in determining standings. Each week the lowest-scoring competitor is voted off.

Each celeb has a professional partner for practice and performance. Most of them seem to take if fairly seriously in terms of effort - after all, the longer they last the more exposure they get. In the latest competition some of them allegedly have spent as much as 130 hours practicing so far, and we're only 4 weeks in.

And then there was Master P. He wound up entering as a last-minute substitution, so it's fair to cut him some slack. He certainly needed it.

Week 1. Two people emerged from the pack as truly sorry - Kenny Mayne from ESPN and P. Mayne got the axe. The judges noted that P could do better with more appropriate shoes. Centimillionaire P noted he was from the 'hood, in New Orleans, he suggested donations for post Katrina cleanup, and by the way he sold his own shoes. Meanwhile Tatum O'Neal got an excellent score. .

Week 2. Ex NBA athlete P put in another pitiful performance. Tatum O'Neal was dumped. Giselle Fernandez put in a fine performance for the 2nd week straight, but in an interview she expressed fear that she had little natural fan base to support her.

Week 3. P did a little better, but still stunk out loud. Giselle Fernandez was dumped. One of the judges said openly that it was time for P to go. Competitor George Hamilton (no dance hero himself) joked about his "'hood". P noted that he had a new release out.

Week 4. P was an utter disgrace, putting on a paso doble which amounted to him flatfootedly following his partner around the floor. The judges reamed him but good, and said that the people at home who were voting to keep him alive weren't doing him any favors. Someone mentioned that to this point P had spent a grand total of 20 hours learning 4 new dances, vs. as many as 130 for others. P suggested that the judges "hated", and worked in a couple more plugs for his enterprises. Would he survive another week?

No, yesterday night they finally dumped him. Given that the judges scored him at 8 and the second lowest (Tia Carrere) was 21, apparently audience support wasn't enough. Either that or it's my favorite case of election fraud.

Ballroom dancing is well established worldwide, with elaborate rules and expectations. You don't have to know them to enjoy it, but you should at least respect them, especially if you're going to compete. Arguably P wasn't even any good at whatever he *was* doing, and that certainly wasn't anything like what he had signed on for.

So why did he last so long? Near as I can tell, he's a good enough guy who got along well with everybody. He was a last minute sub, so he deserved some allowance. His professional partner, Ashly DelGrosso, is very likable herself - she was on the first show too and busted her butt carrying a difficult partner then too, so she probably has some sympathy voting herself.

Was P the worst? He had some competition - Kenny Mayne had better keep his day job. George Hamilton is getting by out of effort and personal popularity and should have been the next to go after Kenny and P. Tatum O'Neal would have lasted longer, and near-anonymous Giselle Fernandez was robbed. Bottom line - there was no reason for P to survive past week 2.

The others? Jerry Rice won't win, but he's clearly putting in some effort. Tia Carrere delivered a baby just before the contest started and isn't back in actress trim yet, but she has worked hard too. Lisa Rinna looks good, has some talent and arguably has the best partner (Louis Van Amstel) there - she might be a dark horse.

But the clear front runners are Drew Lachey and Stacy Keibler. It's tough to handicap them, but I'll go for Ms. Keibler if only because her partner, Tony Dovolani, is much more successful and more experienced than Lachey's. (Lachey's partner is good for sure, but she is still competing in the minor-league Rising Star ranks). And it doesn't hurt Ms. Keibler one bit that she's 100% pure eye candy from head to toe - she's definitely not your father's lady wrestler.

Anyway, by now the riff-raff is gone, so this is as good a time as any to start watching "Dancing with the Stars". Performances are on Thursdays and executions are on Fridays. What are you waiting for?

...He who controls the past controls the future.

George Orwell died half a century before Wikipedia showed up, but he called it right.

Betsy reports on an attempt by a political hack to control the past.

"Like a breath mint for smokestacks"

Another use for algae right here.

Link via Wilson Fu, who knows watermelons when he sees them.