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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

IN A LEAGUE OF HER OWN


Greetings Bachelor Nation; it’s time for another fun(ish)-filled recap of…THE COURTNEY SHOW BACHELOR! This week takes us to spectacular Vieques, Puerto Rico. Everyone is super excited…well, except for Courtney.  She was just there two months ago because--I don’t know if you knew this--she’s a model. Oh, you didn’t? It’s probably because she never mentions it. She’s so modest.

Upon learning the ladies were traveling to Puerto Rico I found myself hoping someone would steal Courtney’s passport so she’d be stuck there, but I was informed that Puerto Rico is actually a U.S. territory so she doesn’t need a passport. Curses, foiled again.



First 1-on-1
The first date card arrives, reading “let’s find new love in old San Juan.” Only it’s written in Spanish, so no one but Emily understands it. Really, ladies?? It’s only the fastest growing language in the world. I bet if the Twilight series had been written in Spanish, you’d learn. 

Anyway, the first date goes to Nicki, and boy is she excited about it. Don’t get me wrong--I heart the girl, and most of the time I totally appreciate her zest for life. But someone needs to go refill her ADHD prescription immediately. Ben is also excited about the date because ‘Nicki brings out the kid in him,’ which isn’t hard to believe. She bounces off the walls like an 8 year old high on birthday cake, and her nails are bright yellow. She might as well be carrying a lunch box.

Ben arrives to pick Nicki up for their date, and we discover that they’ll be traveling to Old San Juan in…a helicopter! Again? Come on, guys…you’re on an island. Give us a hovercraft. Or jet skis. Even highly trained dolphins would suffice. That’s #2 on the season; if we get to five I’m submitting a formal letter of complaint.

Once they arrive in Old San Juan, the two basically just pal around town together. They get some shaved ice, and Nicki gushes that she’s doing things she’s never done before. Wait, you’ve never had shaved ice? Where did you grow up--Soviet Russia?

Inevitably, the sky falls (as it is wont to do in the tropics) and the happy couple gets drenched. Ben is really impressed the Nicki is rolling with the punches. Of course she is, Ben. People in the early stages of a relationship are ALWAYS more accommodating to one another. Add to that the fact that you’re the Bachelor and you’re on national television, and she probably wouldn’t mind if you accidentally shot her in the leg. But try dragging her around in a torrential downpour after you’ve gotten married, and let me know how it goes.

Once the rain subsides, Ben decides they should buy some dry clothes. He comes out dressed like what I would imagine Ricky Ricardo would look like after three days of heavy drinking, and she vaguely reminiscent of a tablecloth. Ben says he feels like he now has some Latin swagger. I don’t know if it’s the clothes or the pencil-thin inchworm of a mustache on his upper lip, but I can’t say I disagree. All he needs to complete the look is to be sitting on a park bench smoking cigars and playing dominoes.

They stumble across a wedding, which gives them an opening to talk about a more serious subject--i.e. Nicki’s first marriage. She was clearly hurt by the fact that it ended the way it did, and I feel bad for her. But she’s optimistic that this is her second chance at a fairy tale. At first I laugh at this statement, but then I realize she’s in competition with an evil queen, and lives with Grumpy, Whiny, Jersey, Tiny, Perky, Nerdy, Boobs, Bangs & Casper the Friendly Ghost. So in a way, she’s right. She’s the reality TV Snow White. 

(By the way, bonus points if you can accurately attach each girl to her dwarf name). 

In the end, Nicki gets the rose. I didn’t see a ton of chemistry between her and Ben, but she’s just so lovable there’s no way he could have let her go home yet.



Group Date
The Group Date Card arrives, teasing the girls with the famous words ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.’ Everyone but Nicki and Elyse (who, by default, gets the second 1-on-1) goes on this date. The ladies are pumped by the titillating words on the date card (hehe…I said titillating), but much to their chagrin they find out they’re actually going to be playing some good old fashioned beisbol. I dig the play on words, Ben, but be careful--if I mentioned diamonds to my lady and then pulled the old bait and switch, I’d probably wind up with a dead horse’s head at the foot of my bed. And she’s not NEARLY as crazy as some of your girls.

To heighten the tension, the girls find out they’ll be split into two squads and play a softball game for the right to go on a date with Benicio that evening. Winners rule, losers…go back to the hotel (I swear; I had something for that). The ladies pick squads, and I find myself hoping that Courtney and Emily will be on the same team. No two teammates would have hated each other that much since Shaq and Kobe, or Barry Bonds and…anyone he ever played with. Unfortunately, my dreams were for naught.

Since there are 9 girls on the date, Ben has to choose one girl to play for both teams (or go both ways, depending on your preference for sexual innuendo). He chooses Lindzi, meaning no matter who wins, she can’t lose. She’s like the modern day Parker Lewis (additional points if you get this reference).

My favorite part of the game was Kacie B’s rally cry of “COME ONNNNNN, BITCHES!” So awesome. If Braveheart Mel Gibson met everyday life Mel Gibson and the two had a profane, inspirational baby Mel Gibson, that baby would be Kacie B. 

Anyway, the red team ultimately wins the game, prompting the blue team to prove that there IS, in fact, crying in baseball. The red team is whisked away to their beach date by…grr, what else…a helicopter (That’s 3!!!), and the blue team sulks back to their hotel in a beat up old school bus.

The after party is pretty standard by comparison. Lindzi says she wouldn’t mind continuing to be Ben’s MVP (cute, if cheesy). Courtney decides it’s time to bust out the big guns (and by big, I mean medium. And by guns, I mean boobs). And Kacie B is awarded the group date rose because, according to Ben, she’s a great listener and really gets him to open up. Hmm, who knew nodding and smiling was such a valued skill?



Second 1-on-1
I have to admit that up until this episode I hadn’t been a big fan of Elyse’s, primarily due to her accent, her rudeness to Shawntel, and her apparent obsession with self-tanner; but she really grew on me during this date. She seemed sweet, genuine, and easy to get along with. I wish we’d seen more of this side of Elyse during the first few weeks of the show.

Ben says he’s excited about the date because his feelings for Ashley really grew during their boat date, and he’s confident that feelings can really change on the water. It’s true…I once went from feeling perfect to throwing up in about ten minutes while on the water. Of course, I think that had more to do with the fish I ate than the company, but whatever.

I think Elyse might’ve been fine had she not made some fatal mistakes in her conversations with Ben. As soon as they sat down she unloaded on him that she’d left her job and missed her best friend’s wedding to meet him. I have a couple of thoughts on this:
1. How did she leave her job? Isn’t she a personal trainer? I thought her job was wherever the fat people are. Did they all miraculously get skinny when she decided to do the show?
2. This was a bad idea because it immediately puts pressure on Ben--like, ‘you can’t send me home because I gave up so much to be here.’ How is he supposed to be comfortable with that hanging over his head?
Then at dinner Elyse makes a similar mistake, saying she’s just ‘so tired of being single.’ The second I heard that I knew she was going home. Why? Because it makes Ben feel like she’s just looking for a guy, any guy, and that she doesn’t particularly care if it’s Ben or not. 

Given those mistakes, it wasn’t a surprise to me when Ben told her he couldn’t give her the rose. Still, I felt really bad for her as they took what had to be the most awkward moonlight stroll on the beach I’ve ever seen. Don’t worry Elyse, plenty of guys will be begging to do pushups for you in no time. Hell, Nick Peterson can even do them with you on his back. Just sayin.’



Skinny Dippiing:
When Ben arrives home from his ill-fated date with Elyse, he finds Courtney sitting on his steps, looking for a nightcap (is that what the kids are calling it these days?). In an ITM, she says she doesn’t know if Ben’s ever skinny dipped with a model before. I’m assuming by model she means something that’s long, skinny and doesn’t have much shape…which makes me wonder--does driftwood count? 

In his interview, Big Ben says he doesn’t think this is such a good idea, but then little Ben chimes in with ‘are you f**king kidding me?!? She gon’ get NEKKID!,’ causing Big Ben to come to his senses and say ‘Why the hell not?’As they stripped off their clothes, drunkenly stumbled into the ocean and proceed to get their groove on share an intimate moment, I found myself thinking that any girl that can convince a man to get butt-ass naked on national television is a force to be reckoned with. She might just run away with this thing.

From everything I’ve seen on this show (which, granted, might not be everything), Courtney is as manipulative and underhanded as they come…but I’ll say this for her: No one has played the game this well since Jordan. Girl can flat out ball.

Cocktail Party/Rose Ceremony
The highlights/lowlights of the cocktail party and rose ceremony are as follows:

1. Blakely meets with Ben and shares the fact that she writes down something she loves about him every day. She says the reason she’s still single is because she’s always been waiting for the perfect guy, but never really believed someone like Ben would be interested in her. Until now. It’s a sweet moment, and I have to admit that Blakely really grew on me this week. First her softball skills, and now this? Welcome to my top 5, m’lady.


2. Courtney says it bothers her to see the other girls spending time with Ben, but she’s confident because she knows none of them have the kind of connection with him that she does. I’m not sure she knows the difference between ‘connection’ and ‘penetration,’ but that’s neither here nor there.


3. Emily tells Benjamin that she hasn’t thought about Courtney all week, and wants to only focus on her relationship with Ben going forward, which of course means she promptly spends the next five minutes complaining about Courtney again. This leads Ben to warn her to ‘tread lightly,’ and ‘be careful.’ Which leads me to:




4. I was all but SURE Emily would be going home after her second foot-in-mouth incident, but out of left field (see, I’m keeping with the baseball theme), Ben decides to send JENNIFER packing instead. I’m sorry, what? Did I miss something? The same Jennifer you called the best kisser in the house? The same Jennifer that shared a really nice date with you LAST WEEK? No bueno, Benjamin. No bueno.

So that’s the show, folks. I hope everyone will join me next week when we head to Panama! But before I go, some awards from this week’s episode:

Line of the Night: A tie between Courtney's “Blakely is like a champion out there. Who knew strippers could play baseball?” and Courtney's "Maybe she drank too much and the Jersey Shore came out." (I might have to rename this award the Courtney award, as she seems to win it every week. She might be the female version of Darth Vader, but homegirl is funny.)
Irony Award: Courtney sporting the “Be Nice” t-shirt to open the episode
Awkward Outfit Award: A tie between Ben’s white linen ensemble and his “Beach tuxedo.” Well played, sir…well played.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bachelor 101: An Idiot’s Guide to Falling


First things first, we’re approaching the point in the season where these recaps are going to be a bit less snarky than they’ve been in the past. This is because as more contestants get eliminated and real feelings begin to develop, a lot of the drama and opportunities to poke fun disappear. That’s not to say that I won’t still get my shots in, but ultimately I watch this show for the same reason most of y’all do--because I want to see two people fall in love.

Yeah, yeah…yuck it up. 

Secondly, this week’s episode was kind of unique in that it offered up a sort of how-to guide for life on The Bachelor. In addition to the usual drama, this episode showed us several dos and don’ts for lasting on the show. As a result, this week--in addition to my standard recap--I’ll be highlighting the lessons we learned in beautiful Park City, Utah. 

As the show opens, we see Ben soaring high above the mountaintops…in his very own helicopter! Look, I love a good ‘copter ride as much as the next guy, but would it kill us to get some variation in modes of transport here? How about a shot of Ben weaving through forests on a hang-glider? Or a jet-pack? Hell, at this point, I’d rather see him bounce from place to place on a pogo stick…but maybe that’s just me.

Ben notes that he’s bringing the ladies to Park City because he wants them to experience the outdoors. He adds that nature is a big part of his life, and based on the subsequent shots of him standing by a river and staring thoughtfully into the distance while sitting on a horse, I can tell he really means it.

Meanwhile, a few miles away Kacie B is already complaining about how much she misses Ben and hates the idea of him spending time with the other girls. In general, I really like Kacie B; but she’s falling into the same trap that someone falls into every season--she’s looking at this like it’s a normal dating situation, where not wanting the person you’re dating to go on dates with other people or kiss other people is normal. But in Bachelor-land, dealing with those things is as routine as a morning poop…which brings us to our first lesson:

Lesson 1: This isn’t Kansas anymore, so you might as well embrace Munchkinland:

As much as you might want this to be a normal dating situation, it isn’t ever going to be. The fact that a camera crew is present to document your every move should be your first clue. Besides, unless you happen to have never seen a TV before, you know how this show works…the lead dates several men or women, slowly whittling them down until he picks the one person he or she (theoretically) wants to spend the rest of his or her life with. 

But even knowing that, someone always develops a connection early on, and then spends the rest of their time slowly unravelling at the thought of losing it. 

“We kissed! Yay!” 

“Now he’s kissing her…oh no!” 

“But then he looked at ME! Huzzah!” 

“But he gave HER the rose. (Sniff, Sniff) How could I be so blind?? ” 
  
If you try to analyze dating the Bachelor or Bachelorette as if it were real life, you’re going to go crazy. Instead, you need to embrace the uniqueness of the experience. In real life, relationships typically develop slowly over time. Here, they happen so fast, that all the dates with other people almost NEED to happen for the lead to be sure of his final choice. So to Kacie B, and all future Kacie Bs, I say this: Encourage your Bachelor to go on other dates. Encourage him to explore his feelings for other people. Because in the end, if he picks you, you want him to do so knowing he made an intelligent, well thought out decision. That way you might actually stand a chance of lasting longer than a Super Bowl halftime show.

Back to the action, the first one-on-one date goes to Rachel, whom I also really like. She’s gorgeous, seems very low maintenance, and has that raspy smoker/1-900 number operator’s voice that I can’t help but find sexy. She’s a little worried because in the past she’s had trouble opening up early in relationships.  This brings us to


Did you say something? No, that was just the crickets.

Lesson 2: You don’t need a book of conversation starters, but have some stuff in mind.
I always found it hilarious that Ryan Park bought a book of conversation starters and carried around a pad on which to jot down notes of things to tell Ashley, but in a way he had the right idea. As Chris Harrison says every week, you’re only going to get a limited amount of time with the lead, so you need to be prepared to use it wisely. Now, you don’t have to go the extent Ryan did, but you should always be ready and willing to communicate when it comes your turn for some one on one time.

Rachel’s date was a prime example of someone who wasn’t prepared for their time when it came. Watching her and Ben stare off into space silently drinking champagne or make idle conversation about the weather was so awkward that I had to start to drinking. Not that I’m opposed to that…at all…but still. In my mind, Rachel’s voice is one of her best attributes, and she just seemed content to let her time with Ben pass by without using it. This is an excerpt from their actual conversation:

Ben: It’s so beautiful out here. 

Rachel: It is.

Ben: It’s so quiet.

Rachel: It is.

Ben: And so romantic.

Rachel: It is.

I’m sorry, what? I’ve gotten better conversation from a statue of Teddy Roosevelt. Granted, I was hammered at the time, but you see my point. Thank God for Rachel she’s hot enough and it’s still early enough in the game that Ben excuses her, saying their relationship must just be a “slow burn,” so she skates by…for now.  But she needs to step up her game pronto or her slow burn will be a no burn before long. 

Moving on, this week’s group date takes the ladies horse back riding and fly-fishing. Ben says he’s excited about the date because he’ll get to see how the ladies take to the outdoors and embrace something that they maybe don’t have a lot of experience with. The ladies, however, are more excited because they think Michelle’s…err, Courtney’s…true colors will finally shine through. There was one big lesson to take away from this date:

Catching a man is like catching a fish. One down, one to go bitch!

Lesson 3: You can’t win if you don’t play the game

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not Courtney’s biggest admirer. Yes, she’s good-looking, funny, and has a confidence that one can’t help but find attractive. But at the same time, she’s rude, mean-spirited, and she won’t…stop…saying…WINNING! It’s like 1) Make up a catch phrase of your own, or 2) if you insist on using someone else’s, please--for the love of GOD--keep it current. Winning hasn’t been funny since before I went on the show, almost a year ago. That would be like me running around telling everyone to ‘eat my shorts’ or ‘synchronize watches.’ The only exception to this rule is if the catch phrase is old enough that it’s become so uncool that it’s cool again--“DY-no-MITE!” from Good Times is an excellent example.

One thing I WILL say for Courtney, however, is that she knows how to play the game. While other girls stood to the side drinking, talking to the other ladies, or even fishing, she engaged Ben and pulled him away so she could have more time with him. Further, she was exceedingly complimentary when he showed her how to fly-fish and, although luck may have played a part, she was even able to catch a fish which had the added benefit of making him feel like a good teacher. 

What’s more is that later, at the after-party, when Courtney saw that Ben was probably going to give the group date rose to Kacie B., she had the presence of mind to bust out one of the oldest tricks in the book--cat and mouse--and pretended to be pulling away from Ben ‘because the experience was just so hard on her.’ As an old proverb says, ‘we pursue that which retreats from us.’ Courtney used that knowledge  to sway Ben into giving her the rose. 

Manipulators...mount up.
Compare that to Kacie B’s actions on the group date. When she received one on one time with Ben, she was very sweet, very open and was completely honest about her feelings. In other words, she didn’t play any games at all. In real life, this is the right thing to do. In real life, being real almost always wins out in the end. But again, this isn’t real life. There isn’t always enough time for Ben to get to know when the girls well enough to know when they’re being forthright and when they’re playing the game, which leaves him more open to being manipulated.

Does this justify Courtney’s actions? No. But you have to give her credit--she realizes that at least a part of this experience is competition, and she uses all possible angles to her advantage. 

The next one-on-one date goes to Jennifer. From her date we learned

Lesson 4: This show really likes metaphors.

Love is like a dark, smelly abyss...wait.

I’m sorry. I like Jennifer; I really do. She seems very sweet, and down to earth. But I can’t spend too much time talking about this date because all the ‘taking the plunge,’ and ‘diving in deeper’ metaphors were making me gag on my Chipotle. 

I also wonder about dates like these where there is a concert scheduled after the rose is to be handed out. What if Ben decided not to keep her? Would the concert be cancelled? Would all those people be told they couldn’t see Clay Walker just because Ben didn’t think he and Jennifer had a future together? Or would Ben be forced to dance awkwardly on the podium all by himself? 


My point is, I wonder if dates like those are given to people he already knows he’s going to keep around. If so, there really isn’t much to learn here.

Finally comes time for the Cocktail Party and Rose Ceremony. Here, Emily apparently gets amnesia and forgets everything she learned in kindergarten because she becomes yet another contestant on this series to make one of the worst mistakes you can make in this situation:

Courtney stole my snack pack!

Lesson 5: Nobody likes a tattle tale.

Remember when you were a kid and you saw Bobby Johnson stealing crayons, or Suzy Long drinking someone else’s milk? Your brain told you this wasn’t fair, so you did the first thing that came to mind--you told on the them. Except, much to your surprise, no one was ever happy with you when you reported the offense. Maybe you were scolded; maybe you were even punished yourself…but the lesson you took away was always the same: NOBODY likes a tattle tale.

Bitches be frontin!
It’s so simple, and we all know it. Yet somehow every season someone decides that it’s their job to tell the lead that someone acts differently around them than they do everyone else in the house. There was the Weatherman, then William, and now Emily. Emily even says she thinks Ben will be HAPPY when she throws another girl under the bus.

Of course he isn’t, which makes things awkward between the two and destroys most of the progress they’d made on their one-on-one. Further, it gets back to Courtney, who says she’d like ‘to rip her head off and verbally assault her.’ (Courtney, if you’re going to verbally assault someone, you should probably do it BEFORE you rip their head off. Otherwise, what’s the point?) As a result of all this, Emily very nearly goes home. 



But in the end, she’s saved when Ben somewhat surprisingly chooses instead to eliminate Monica. Monica is the only person sent home at the rose ceremony, since Samantha was asked to leave earlier at the group date. I find myself feeling bad for her, because I was the only person eliminated in Phuket and can relate with the sting of being the one person deemed to be not good enough to continue on. 

But on the bright side Monica, at least you got walked out!

Ok, kids…that’s all for now. I’ll be back next week when we go to sunny Puerto Rico! It looks like we’ll see Emily continuing to throw Courtney under the bus, to which Courtney responds by showing Ben her lady parts. Mmm, cattiness and nudity…I’m in!


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Mean Girls and Conspiracy Theories--Just Another Day in the Life…


Well folks, I hate to break it to you…but I think this one may already be a wrap. Yep, you heard me. Cut. Fin. Game over. Of course, the show isn’t going to come out and say it until the end, because they want you to keep watching. In the same vein, I’m not going to tell you why I think that just yet, because I want you to keep reading.

I know, I know; I’m an ass. Sorry.

When the lights come up on the third week of The Bachelor, the girls find out they’ll be headed to Ben’s hometown of…SAN FRANCISCO! Wait, weren’t they just in his hometown? How many places is this guy from? Could he be…Frankenstein: “BEN ARM FROM PHOENIX, HEAD FROM TACOMA...BUT HEART STAY HERE WITH YOU, PRETTY LADY.”

I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’m pretty excited about going to San Fran. I’m envisioning pot smoking competitions, electric car races and the always popular ‘who can dress like the biggest d-bag and hate on everything the rest of society likes’ game, otherwise known as Hipster wars.

While the ladies are getting checked in to their hotel, Ben meets with his sister, Julia. She says she’s really excited for him to have a girlfriend, presumably so they can go on double dates and stuff. I have two things to say about this:
1. She does know he’s not leaving this with a girlfriend, right? More like fiance. Fee-ahn-cey. Like Beyonce, but with an F. 
2. Thank God Ben didn’t choose Shawntel. She and Julia could be twins. Could you imagine that double date? Turn the lights down a little too low and you could end up making a BIG mistake. 


First One-On-One
Emily gets the first date card, which makes me happy because I really like Emily. She’s pretty, smart, not afraid to act a little goofy, and seems like one of the most normal girls in the group. Unfortunately, being ‘normal’ doesn't usually get you very far on this show, so I’m gonna go ahead and predict that she doesn’t win. But hey, at least I can enjoy her while she lasts.

The date card reads ‘let’s scale to new heights together.’ This worries Emily, because she’s afraid of heights. She hopes she doesn’t pee her pants, but I kind of hope she does…you know, for comedy’s sake.

When she arrives at the date, Emily’s worst fears are realized when she discovers that she and Ben will be…SCALING THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY BRIDGE! Wow, are you kidding me? I’d have given at least one of my baby-makers to go on a date like that, even if it was with Ben; but no, let’s give it to the girl who might actually defecate on herself out of fear. 

Life is so unfair sometimes.

Emily freezes about halfway up the bridge, so Ben does the only thing he can think of, which is to kiss her. This makes sense, because everyone knows that Bachelor kisses come equipped with angel wings and fluffy clouds. That way if Emily falls she’ll float gently to the ground like an autumn leaf.

Once Emily is healed by Ben’s magical lips (Bachelor kisses also cure anxiety, vertigo and, in some cases, scoliosis), the two finish scaling the bridge. They’re both really excited because if they can climb a bridge together, they can accomplish anything! Yay for tenuous metaphors!

Later, at dinner, they share their dating history. Ben reveals that he proposed once, but it didn’t go well. (Wait, really? When did that happen?) Emily says she tried online dating once, but the site set her up with her brother. There are quite a few jokes about the south I could make here, but 1. I’m better than that, and 2. I’m from South Carolina--my state has single-handedly kept the Daily Show on the air for the past several years. So yeah, we’re gonna gloss right over that.  Emily gets the rose, in part because Ben thinks she’s smarter than he is and that’s what he wants in a girl. Really? If that’s the case, I’m pretty sure we could shorten this show by about 6 weeks.

I’m actually excited for Emily because she seems really happy and genuine about her feelings for Ben. One little nit-pick though: she said perfect about 10 times in 30 second. “I conquered my fear, and it was perfect. And then we had dinner, and it was perfect. And then we kissed, and it was perfect. And now I’m doing this interview, and IT’s perfect! Perfect perfect perfect PERFECT!!!!” I’m not even going to dispute that Emily is a jillion times smarter than I am, but good lord, someone get that girl a thesaurus.

Group Date:
The next day, it’s time for the group date. The girls exit their hotel wearing short, summery dresses only to find out…they’re going skiing? Turns out the show has closed down a street in San Francisco and made an artificial ski slope, all so Ben and his lovely ladies could strip down to their skivvies and ski down the street. 

Yep, a fake ski slope. In San Francisco. I wanted to hate this idea so bad, but as a general rule my brain completely shuts down when I see two things: hot girls in bikinis, and ski bunnies. Combine the two and I was officially a mouth breather for about 15 minutes.

Ben says this has always been on his ‘leap list,’ whatever that is. I’m guessing it’s basically a bucket list, but since that was probably trademarked, ABC had to change the name. Anyway, it ends up being a pretty enjoyable date to watch. For the most part, the girls look great in their bikinis, and if that wasn’t good enough some of them are TERRIBLE skiers. Kacie B. is a prime example of this--she falls about once every three seconds, but she seems to be having a lot of fun with it anyway. This earns her a lot of points in my book. 

(Related Note: I find that women will often get frustrated if they aren’t good at something because they think they aren’t impressing their guy. Ladies, we are much more impressed when you are terrible at something but are comfortable enough with yourself to laugh and enjoy it anyway. Fact.)



Back at the hotel the second date card arrives, and it’s for Britney. This is a little surprising to me, as I would’ve at least waited until she turned 18 first.  She doesn’t appear to be very excited about the date, and without much explanation decides to remove herself from the competition. Poor girl, she must have been missing her Dora the Explorer cartoons.

Returning to the group date, it’s time for the after-party, which Ben leads off by saying he thinks the night will be drama-free. Either he has a serious case of amnesia, hasn’t actually met these women, or he meant that they weren’t going to be acting out any more plays, because those are the only possible explanations for why he might’ve said that. In any case, bad joo joo my friend. Bad joo joo.

The highlights/lowlights from the after-party are as follows:
1. Rachel and Ben get their first kiss. It’s pretty tame, mostly just pecks. I find this a little disappointing, mostly because Rachel has a nose ring. Don’t get me wrong, I think nose rings are HOT, but they kind of scream naughty don’t they? All I’m saying is if you aren’t going to get after it, you shouldn’t be allowed to wear one. It’s false advertising. (I still adore you though, Rach).
2. Kacie B. shows flashes of jealousy when she sees Ben kissing other girls. I love this, as I think a little jealous streak is sexy. 


3. Ben checks in with Blakely and asks how she’s doing. Blakely says all the girls hate her. Ben then clarifies that what he MEANT to ask was how are her boobs doing. (Not really, but that would’ve been funny, right?)
4. Brittney shows up to announce that she’s leaving. I kind of feel bad for Ben, because in a way it’s like he’s getting dumped on national TV again, but I don’t think Brittney was a strong contender anyway, so he probably doesn’t care.



5. Rachel gets the rose, and we get a brief shot of Monica crying. I’m not sure if she’s crying because she’s upset she didn’t get the rose, happy that Rachel did, or sad that Brittney left. Regardless, is it possible we’re seeing someone else start to unravel? It would be only fitting that after Jenna’s departure, Monica-who set the Jenna crazy train in motion-would be the next to go.


Second One-On-One Date:
I’m afraid I don’t have much to say about this one. After Kacie B., Lindzi is my favorite thus far. She seems like such a sweet, real person, and she and Ben appear so comfortable together that there just isn’t a whole lot to make fun of. I mean, I could say something about their awkward dancing, but even that was cute. 

Dammit.



Cocktail Party:
Finally, the good part! Here are my thoughts on the cocktail party, in bullet form:
1. Ben tells Jennifer she’s the best kisser in the group. If by best, he means loudest, then yeah…definitely the best.
2. Jennifer says she feels herself falling in love with Ben. For the love of God, people, it’s been three weeks! Granted, it’s an intense situation and I’ll admit that Bachelor time is the emotional equivalent of dog years, but THREE WEEKS!
3. Is it me, or is Courtney ALWAYS giving the stink eye? Is it possible she was that kid our parents told us about growing up whose face actually got stuck like that?
4. Best line of the episode award goes to Courtney: “Blakely is the kind of girl your boyfriend cheats on you with.” Yeah, you know exactly what she’s talking about.
5. Ben tells Courtney he doesn’t know what she did to him, but he’s been thinking about her all week. Two words, Ben: Roofie colada. Or is that a one-word-hyphenate? Roofie-colada? Whatever.
6. Shawntel may have been a little over-confident in saying that Ben was going to fall for her after they’d only exchanged texts a few times…well, unless they were picture texts. In that case, it depends on the pictures.
7.  It was highly entertaining to watch even the ‘nice’ girls go into bitch mode when Shawntel showed up. Dumpster trash? Really, ladies? Look, there’s only two reasons a girl is going to be that mean to a girl they’ve never met before--either because they feel threatened, or they’re jealous. It’s that simple. And they were right to feel that way. I mean, did you see that dress?
8. Watching the ladies audition for Mean Girls 2 made me think they should have me back on the show to be the ‘Ben Nazi.’ It’s like the soup nazi from Seinfeld, but for Ben. Every time I caught a girl being unnecessarily catty, I’d be all like ‘hey Elyse, NO BEN FOR YOU!’ What do you think, producers? Can we make that happen?
9. Finally, I don’t know why Ben was having such a hard time deciding on what to do. If I were him, I’d have traded Erika, Jaclyn, Jennifer AND future draft picks for Shawntel. Salary cap be damned!



Rose-Ceremony Eliminations:
Ok folks, it’s finally time to reveal my conspiracy theory on why this thing might be a done deal already. Only two people needed to be eliminated tonight, and I whole-heartedly agreed with Ben’s choices to send Erika and Jaclyn home. They just seemed like a bad fit for him. He’s a laid-back, low maintenance guy, and their hysterics at the rose ceremony only proved why I think they’re weren’t right for Ben. Fainting? Cursing at another girl before the rose is even handed out? Come on, ladies. You’re better than that. I hope.

But there’s just no legitimate explanation for choosing not to hand out that final rose and send Shawntel home. Sure, you can say there would’ve been a lot of drama if she’d stayed, and you can agree with Ben that it wasn’t fair. But Shawntel was right when she said this wasn’t about drama, or fairness. It’s about love, and if Ben felt a connection with her he owed it to his heart to explore that connection.

So I call BS on the stated reasons for sending her home.

Instead, I call your attention to Courtney’s little acceptance speech upon getting her rose. She made it clear that she wasn’t pleased with how Ben conducted himself around ‘what’s-her-butt’ and then thanked him for not putting her throught ‘that.’ What could she have possibly meant with that? The night had already taken place; she had already gone through it. She was talking about not putting her through that going forward, as in ‘don’t you dare give that b!tch a rose, or we’re gonna have problems, mister.’ And my take is that Ben, already being seriously taken by Courtney, decided right then and there to cut his losses and send Shawntel packing. 

So there you have it. Maybe you agree with me; maybe you don’t. Maybe I’m right; maybe I’m wrong. But if it’s true, and Courtney has that much influence on Ben’s thinking already, maybe--as Bentley would say--we should just hit the reset button on this thing and start over.



Monday, January 16, 2012

A Dream Preserved


On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed outside a motel room in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 39 years old. Today, January 16, 2012, nearly 44 years later, we once again celebrate him and the legacy he left behind.

In his short time on earth, Dr. King was a clergyman, activist and iconic symbol of the American Civil Rights Movement. He led the charge towards equality, shaping the course of history itself and improving the lives of millions of people.

At a time when years of oppression and hate had led people to become angry and jaded, he preached love and tolerance. When just a few hundred miles away, another leader espoused venom and violence, he taught that "darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Most people remember Dr. King for his most famous speech, delivered at a 1963 march on Washington and entitled I Have a Dream. There he spoke the timeless words "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character," where he urged America to "let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado...let freedom ring from every molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside; let freedom ring!"

But the truth is, his work was much greater than that, and went much deeper.  A student of the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King dedicated himself to non-violent forms of protest despite the brutal acts of violence committed against African Americans every day.  He refused to take part in politics, saying "I feel that someone must remain in a position of non-alignment, so that he can look objectively at both parties and be the conscience of both--not the servant or master of either."

King organized the Montgomery Bus Boycotts of 1955, and in 1957 helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In 1959, he wrote The Measure of a Man, where he attempted to portray the ideal political, social and economic structure of society.

Some saw King as a lawbreaker due to his ardent belief that minorities should be welcomed as equals and his refusal to accept laws that treated them as subservient. His consistent reply to this was that "an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law," and "one has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws; conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."

Dr. King showed this respect for the law after being arrested for his part in the Birmingham Campaign. While sitting in jail, he penned the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," where he wrote "freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed," and "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, at age 35. After his death, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2004, and Martin Luther King Day was established as the federal holiday we observe today in 1986.

Would Dr. King be proud of the progress our society has made since his death? I think so. Though racism in many forms still exists around the world, we are always making great strides towards friendship and equality. This isn't to say that there isn't still work to do, because as King would himself say: "All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another."

Still, if there is one lesson we can all take away from Dr. King's teachings, regardless of our creed or color, it comes from what would ultimately be his most prophetic of quotes: "A man who won't die for something is not fit to live." We should all strive to find that thing we are passionate about, that thing we care about so much that if in the end we were called upon to die for it, we could look back and see ours as a life well spent. Be it equality, or art, or family or love...if we dedicate our lives in service of that thing, on our last days the final line of I Have a Dream will ring true:

"Free at last, free at last; thank God almighty, we are free at last."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Guest Post: Why I Watch the Bachelor

Today we have a guest post comes from the incomparable Sarah Storer. Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who already read her blog (www.thenakedredhead.com), or follow her on Twitter (@sarahjstorer). But if you aren't, you need to get on that train ASAP. She's thoughtful, has a knack for telling a good story, and most important, she's balls out funny. 

So without further ado, here she is. Today's topic:

WHY I WATCH THE BACHELOR


I watch The Bachelor.

There, I said it.

I know it’s a show that perpetuates negative female stereotypes--always fighting over one man! Emotionally unstable! Would throw another woman under the bus for love!--and let’s not even get started on how the women who choose to pursue a career over love are portrayed. 

I also know it’s a show that, with a little editing magic, can portray a perfectly normal lady as a raging psychopathic bitch (who is eventually labeled as a “man stealer”…as if you’re not all in that hot tub together, ladies). 

And I know it’s a show that, for all its hype about “finding love” has a pretty sketchy track record for actually accomplishing that end.

But I watch it anyway. Sometimes I yell at the TV screen. Sometimes I roll my eyes so hard that I can hear them.

And sometimes, I get a little weepy.

Yeah, I said that, too.

This show is about extremes, and I get weepy over extremes. 

It’s extreme to go onto a TV show, compete with 30 other women who are either just as or more beautiful and accomplished than you are, and then somehow convince yourself that it’s really your LAST CHANCE AT LOVE. It’s extreme for one person to have his or her pick of crazy-attractive people, all at once (you know, aside from delusions of grandeur at the bar on a Saturday night). And it’s extreme-ly lucky for someone to actually find love in that situation.

If it works, it’s pretty cool. Yay, love!

When it doesn’t work—which is often—it’s kind of heartbreaking. What happened to that beautiful, successful woman on the screen who has some serious stanky-cry-face going on that makes her think that THIS was her last chance at love? I want to go up to those women (who, granted, have just been through the equivalent of the weirdest version of emotional summer camp ever) and tell them, “You’re okay. We’re all okay. Suck it up, sister.”

But maybe I watch because there is a TOTALLY INSANE part of me that wants to believe that this next season will be the one where the women are gracious to each other. That this one will show more beautiful, accomplished ladies who are truly passionate about their careers and either a) don’t make excuses for that passion or b) quickly negate that passion by saying, “But of course, I can’t wait to be a wife and mother one day.” 

Not that there’s anything wrong with being a wife and mother, of course, but there is also nothing wrong with being a woman and passionately loving what you do…and being okay with being defined by that fact, regardless of whether a man thinks you should be or not.

Obviously, I know that’s not the formula of the show. No one really wants an hour and a half of level-headedness, practicality and kindness…otherwise, we’d all still be watching Mr. Rogers re-runs. (Which was a great-meow show-meow!)

<snarky aside> Besides, if it wasn’t mostly an invitation to Tears-ville, how else would we compare ourselves to those women and say, “OMG, I’d NEVER do that. What a crazy betch!” </snarky aside>

But I can hope for it, right? Or, I can at least hope for it in my everyday life. Practice it, even. After all, if we can’t be supportive of each other, who else can we count on to do it?

Well, if nothing else, I’ll watch because I totally like to be on “boner patrol.” 

C’mon…tell me you’re not looking for it after some steamy hot tub make-out sesh. OF COURSE YOU ARE.

Oh…it’s just me? Okay then.

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Sarah J. Storer  is a blogger, speaker and storyteller who calls Columbus, OH home. Her internationally read blog (www.thenakedredhead.com) is a quirky mix of life, love and relationship advice, and snarky musings. When she's not writing, she enjoys helping businesses with creative social concepts, and has also been seen on the stage and screen performing improv, theatre and stand-up. She is currently looking forward to co-hosting Jane in the City, a dating show coming to theJane.TV network in Fall 2011, and helping other women learn to trust their guts and use their noggins when it comes to love.