Sunday, June 29, 2008

Definitely Maybe (Movie Review)

Last night my wife sent me out to bring back some videos and I came back with Definitely Maybe, a DVD whose cover leans heavily on its connection to Love Actually and Notting Hill (a little misleading because some of the same production people, but those two are very English while this one's set in New York). Of the four movies I’d brought back on my bicycle, this was the one she wanted me to put on right away. Five minutes in after Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine) showed up, she says “Oh, I’ve seen this already with H (our daughter).”

“It just came out on video. You’re saying you guys rented it in the last three weeks without my knowing?”

“No, it wasn’t in the last three weeks.”

I had to take the movie off and we then watched choice two. Our daughter came home from work (she’s had a job at a high-end ice cream parlor for three years), saw the DVD box, and said, “Mom and I saw that one in the theater a few months ago. Remember mom, we didn’t like the ending?”

Great….I’m the only one in the house who hasn’t definitely maybe seen Definitely Maybe, I have to wait until they go to bed, and I already know there’s something odd about the ending. In the meantime, I'm wondering how my wife managed to forget seeing a movie in a theater.

To be accurate, my problem with Definitely Maybe is also with the beginning. It’s way too cutesy. It starts with an over the top parody of the aftermath of a public school sex education class where the parents didn’t get prior notification (doesn’t work that way) then slips into the kind of post-modern story telling device for that elderly beast known as the romantic comedy aka chick flick pioneered by Woody Allen in Annie Hall thirty years ago. Sadly, Woody Allen remains the one semi-popular film maker who actually does post-modern romantic comedy well at least on screen though not in his real life.

In any case, Defnitely Maybe’s premise is that Dad and Mom are about to get divorced. Ryan Reynolds has visitation rights with daughter Abigail Breslin (she’s really good at the cute kid thing, but her role in this movie consists of little more than her making precocious comments every ten minutes). Breslin demands that Reynolds tell her the truth about how he met and fell in love with mommy. After some cutesy pleading from Breslin, Reynolds agrees reluctantly on the condition that he can change all the names and some of the details.

The bystander story is a pretty well-established movie device. It’s often done with the main character talking to someone in a bar or at a train station (read moving conveyance) and jump cuts via from the frame story to a series of flashbacks. This particular frame with a ten year old daughter has some problems, the biggest being why wouldn’t a ten year old know some basics about her own mother as in which state she was from or what she did for a living at the time she met dad? You have to get past that, or you’ll probably hate Definitely Maybe and yeah the ending has a similar issue. That said, director-writer does add a twist to the formula in that this is both a “How I met your mom” movie and an exploration of something a little less romantic, the business of giving up dreams and missing opportunities.

I did really like what was inside the frame. The inner part of the movie tracks the Clinton years as Reynolds moves from idealism and a romantic view of love to cynicism and resignation along with the Clinton administration. On the way, Reynolds gets involved with three very different women . Elizabeth Banks is the college sweetheart. Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) plays the free spirit who has a thing for old copies of Jane Eyre, a device used in the movie Serendipity with copies of Love in the Time of Cholera. Rachel Weisz (About a Boy, The Constant Gardener) plays the ultimate New York career sophisticate who serves as a marker for Reynolds’ progression from boy to man. All three actresses are terrific on screen, but the performance of the movie comes form Kevin Kline who reprises his role from Orange County as a cantankerous but brilliant writer who serves as the main character’s simultaneous rival, mentor, and plot device.

Most romantic comedies are really timing movies. Usually, the audience knows the final pairing but various roadblocks to their pairing come up at all the crucial times. Definitely Maybe is no exception to that, but it rather cleverly keeps things hidden by baiting and switching with an ancient movie cliché (this is Breslin’s main function in the movie). What happens along the way though is done with some measure of wit and originality. Reynolds actually has some charm as a romantic lead (Just Friends was a disaster, but he apparently got another chance) and pulls off the 16 year time span for the main character with real credibility. As he shifts from innocence and ambition to resignation with various romantic mishaps and the crash of his political career, there’s a certain growing heaviness to his movement and his facial expressions become ever so slightly guarded.

Of the three female leads, Elizabeth Banks may be the weakest, but that’s partly because she’s perfectly cast as the Midwestern hometown love who initially fears the ways in which New York will change Reynolds. Weisz and Fisher are both terrific versatile actresses. Fisher’s especially good at shifting emotional gears. In one key scene, she reverses field on the plot with a genuine stillness of self accompanied by a slight but noticeable change in voice tone. You can believe her both as a young woman with no political convictions who dates wannabe rock musicians and as someone who slowly finds her center, one which turns out to be more idealistic than Reynolds's. I’ve never seen Weisz be anything less than good in a movie. In this case, she’s sexy, sophisticated, yet flawed, something which she pulls off with her eyes.

I should also mention that Defnitely Maybe is one of many movies in which New York, the city,is a character. This version of New York is soft and welcoming. People wander empty streets in the middle of the night. Every store and bar is filled with gregarious people and chatty service people. 9/11 is never mentioned, yet Adam Brooks rather subtly gets across the relative innocence of the nineties which seem filled with the possibilities of the internet and other changes against the grimmer times that come after 9/11.

This would have been a Maybe for a movie to see in a theater, but if you want something that’s both diverting and mildly intelligent (if you ignore the hokey beginning and end) Definitely Maybe definitely works on video even if the rest of your family is in bed not watching with you. Think of it as How Harry Missed Sally.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Graham Cracks ( Bachelorette 4 round of 4)

Graham Bunn and Deanna Pappas sit on a bench together and the Bachelorette lectures her reluctant suitor about “stepping up”. She even says the four letter “B” word multiple times and all but tells the former high school basketball player that she feels like he’s Womacking her attempt to give a hundred percent of her heart to the show. “You’re the one I wanted to fall in love with, “ she sobs.

Graham keeps shaking his head and gesturing as if he’s trying to say something. Eventually, he pulls out a letter that’s not for the tv cameras. He goes off in that limo in which they drive you around in circles until you either say something emotional or break down crying. Even Mike Fleiss can’t limo-board Graham Bunn. The camera then shows you Deanna reading the letter.

I have no idea what happened on that home visit. When the guy was running around the Wake Forest-Rollesville gymnasium, he seemed into it. After a brief visit with his surprisingly elderly looking parents that included only a handful of Graham reaction shots and a bit with his father where he seemed quite open to the possibility of Deanna, he was next seen on a bench there being oddly diffident. Well, star athletes often don’t take well to being on the bench. I wondered if Graham was maybe bi-polar then it struck me that something significant got left out of his home date story arc. If it’s on the editing floor, they may have made the right decision for once. I’m not sure that I’ve seen this much dramatic tension around a hometown date elimination.

All at once, Deanna’s expression of desire for Graham, his discomfort with the “reality television” setting, and Graham’s mom’s bit about her son shutting other people out conspired to make this “reality tv” moment suggest feelings so actual that Fleiss’s camera was sort of at a loss. It was just there. The captain of the basketball team had just dumped Deanna right after making like he was going to ask her to the prom.

Usually the hometown visits focus on the “families”, this installment instead emphasized the evolution of the four relationships. It reminded me of the movie Love Actually, a romantic comedy that explores all the different types and stages of love through a series of interconnected stories that all culminate in an airport. The movie was made not long after 9/11, so the airport at the end has this resonance that makes the stories even more affecting. In this case, we saw Jesse-the friend who shows signs of being able to be something more: Jeremy-the guy who opens up to Deanna for the first time because they both had parents die when they were young. At the same time, there’s a sense that the two might be too similar. Too controlled- too much affected by the pain. At one point, Jeremy’s brother says “the last woman to break your heart was mom” and instead of thinking “how sweet?” I was going “Oh wow, don’t go there. Those photos of Jeremy’s mom look a bit too much like Deanna herself” : Jason- makes the case for a reverse Jerry Macguire thing. He has the Jonathan Lipnicki stand in instead of Renee Zellweger. There’s the ultra-warm family and the “you complete me” revelation that seems to pour forth from Deanna as they feed the ducks. Oddly, Deanna looked a little awkward with the kid, but the show still delivered the Deanna discovers her inner-mom thing successfully enough. If you remember, Jerry has this bit where he has to ask himself if he’s more into the kid and the instant family than he is into Renee’s character herself (especially since she hasn’t accepted L. Ron Hubbard) then has to go off to sort it out. In this case, Jason seemed like a bit player on the hometown visit : Graham- as we discussed is Brad 2.0 distant, unpredictable, yet has this primal and possibly unhealthy hold on Deanna’s affections.

At the end of the episode, my wife and I turned to one another and said “Wow Dear, that was the most dramatic hometown date episode ever!”

For once, you could actually make a good case for any of the final four as a possible romance. Noelle Drake was one of my favorite Bachelorettes, but no one thought she was really in the horse race even if they did ride horses on Matt’s hometown visit. Who doesn’t remember the disaster of Amber Al Chalabi’s hometown visit with Andy, the chatty roommate, the dog leaving his opinion of the Doctor-Officer, and the parents no-showing the visit? Bottom line, there’s historically always been one hometown date where the Bachelor or Bachelorette has better chemistry with the sister, brother, best friend. This time, even after Graham disappeared, we’re left wondering “What the hell is in that note and could he pull a Trish or something and try to come back?”

This time all possibilities seem plausible and instead of losing steam at this point, this installment of the Bachelorette is deepening the tension. Even the previews were done pretty well. There were little suggestions that Jesse is a bit more personally conservative than one would imagine. Amidst talking aout how they waited twelve years to have a child (Abraham and Sarah), his parents mentioned God multiple times. Jesse appears to pull a Bachelor first by insisting that he meet Deanna’s father before they do the fantasy suite. After dozens of sleazy Bachelors, who would have thunk that this guy who sometimes seemed slightly stoned would have this strong a sense of romantic honor?

Even if Jason remains the favorite, they show him being a bit too happy about the offer of the Chris Harrison card. I was somewhat amazed at the way they didn’t hold back at all with the romantic comedy storyline with Jason, the son, and the family, yet managed to suggest real doubt without resorting to Fleissian artifice. For one, you do wonder if Jason really is ready emotionally? Even bigger, I wondered if they had Deanna spending an unrealistic amount of time with Ty on that date. Geez, it even seemed like they had the guy come home after several weeks away and he didn’t get any alone time with his son. Instead, he shows up with Deanna right away and spends his first evening back having one on one time with the pretty lady from the tv instead of being alone with his son.
Besides, Deanna seemed awfully careful in that game of leap frog not to touch any Mesnick family butt (Dad who I think is divorced from Jason's mom really seemed to like Deanna in a way that shot straight through the camera) and Jason and Ty also seemed to take care not to make rear end contact with the Bachelorette.

Getting the ending right matters of course and who knows if they manage that one, but I’m ready to say that this has been the best installment of the Bachelor yet. They haven’t hidden anything, yet they’ve kept the viewer wondering even about the inevitable because the trick this time has been to show more (maybe because there's more to show of these Bachelors). They finally got their soap opera.

You may have noticed that there was almost no footage of Jeremy in the previews. Most folk are convinced that he goes next week, yet you feel for Jeremy regardless. It’s a little reminiscent of Danielle (the dead boyfriend lady) from Andy’s season, but it’s done way better. He needs Deanna in his life, but it begs the question does she need him? Is love a deep physical longing? Is it a sense of being covered in a blanket of happiness? Is it a sense of comfort that evolves unexpectedly? Is there a single right guy? If one does have to make a choice between viable possibilities, isn’t that a sign that there’s something wrong with the available choices? Is the chooser a bit too self-absorbed? All these questions and not nearly enough roses :}

Little stuff:
1) Was that a Kellie Pickler moment when Deanna didn't know what the space needle was?

2) Graham's form on that half court shot was pretty iffy. Is he auditioning for the lead in John Tucker Must Die the sequel?

3) This is mean, but with Jeremy's family was Deanna thinking....This is cool, I get to be the hottest woman in this family for sure.

4) The photo album thing was a direct play on Deanna and the photo album with Brad.

5) Jesse insisting on meeting her Dad....seems to be leading to Deanna's dad flying out once again for the final rose though I don't think Jesse gets that rose. Still, it's a nice foreshadow. Jesse meets Pappa Pappas, then pulls out a label that says "Deanna's Dad" on it and glues it to the man's forehead.

6) Deanna's timetable, the same as Lisa Blank's btw, pretty much eliminates anyone but Jason. How do you get engaged, married, and have 3 children between age 26 and 30? I suppose she could turn into Brangelina Jolie or perhaps certain precautions get forgotten in the fantasy suite.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Birthday Banquet

I went to my aunt’s ninetieth birthday party last night at her restaurant in San Francisco. You measure the size of a Cantonese celebration in tables (10 people each around a circular table with a lazy susan in the center) rather than by counting the number of guests. There were fifteen tables last night which is significantly smaller than her family celebrations in the past. The last really big one was for my uncle’s seventy first birthday around 1984. Danny Kaye who had befriended my uncle when his company helped build a kitchen for him was there and made a speech. The celebration filled both floors of the restaurant and accounted for more than a hundred tables. My father used to tell me that Chinatown used to have banquets so big that the guests had to eat in two shifts.

There were eight brothers and sisters in my mother’s family, a least eight who made it to adulthood. My mother who at 78 is the youngest and her sister who happened to be the oldest are the only two left. For most of my life, my mother and my aunt were unusually close. I finally did the math and came to understand why. My grandfather whom I never met came to San Francisco first then sent for my grandmother. At that point, they already had four children together. They couldn’t bring all four children with them, so she brought my two uncles and left two oldest daughters with relatives in Southern China for what turned out to be several years.

My aunt was almost eleven when she came to the United States, a year or so before my mother was born in San Francisco right at the start of the depression. My grandmother had a breakdown, too many kids in a strange country in very few years, and it was my aunt who new to the country and about twelve years old found herself looking after my mother and to a great extent being the one to raise her. Purely by accident, my aunt and my mother married men who happened to be first cousins to each other (my father’s mother and my uncle’s mother were sisters). No, this was nothing like West Virginia, though I’ve gathered that my father’s people were somewhat similar to Chinese hillbillies, their dialect is often characterized as being mostly swear words. In those days, there weren’t that many complete Chinese families in California and within Chinatown most everyone was connected to everyone else in some way.

My grandmother’s family (my dad and uncle’s side) had a long history of feuding. One of my theories is that my great grandparents had something like half a dozen unusually beautiful daughters (my paternal grandmother being one of them) in a time when Chinatown was largely a bachelor society. The result was something like Chinese Helen of Troy. As a result both my mother and my aunt married into versions of the same mildly insane family and they apparently shared that bond as well.

Through and odd set of circumstances, my aunt wound up estranged from her own mother for many years. My grandmother had forbidden one of her daughters to marry a guy whom she had heard was a gambler and a womanizer. My aunt, then married, stepped in and took the other sister and her fiance in. My grandmother found out and disowned her too. It was my mother who brokered my aunt’s return to the “family” when my grandmother was quite elderly. I was a teenager at the time, but it seemed then that the tie between my mother and her sister was exceptionally strong.

I’m not sure why or how these things happen as people get older, but my mother and my aunt haven’t been especially close for the last decade or so. For whatever reason, we wound up at a slightly distant table and my mother and her sister barely visited with one another. Somewhere between the peking duck and the lobster or was it the mushrooms with emerald greens in clear sauce, I decided to go say hi to my cousin and his wife and wound up at the head table somehow with my aunt, my three cousins and two spouses, and my aunt’s accountant and his wife. Her doctor and his wife hadn’t shown so I happened into their empty seats. For years my aunt also had a personal “priest” who disappeared from the mix about fifteen years ago.

Much to my shock, my ninety year old aunt started talking about John McCain. Years ago, my aunt and uncle were more or less Democrats then moved rightward with Ronald Reagan well after they became wealthy. I imagine that this horrified my cousin who started as a social worker and worked for the democratic mayor of San Francisco. I was fully expecting my aunt to say that she admired John McCain, but instead she said “What kind of idiot wants to keep us in Iraq for four more years? Why are we sending our young people over there at all?”

My cousin and the accountant’s wife (not young herself) then jumped in and said “It’s not four years, he wants us to stay for a hundred years). My aunt nodded her head and it struck me as more than a little amazing that a whole family of wealthy Chinese were happily going to vote for a black man for president of the United States. I don’t know how to put this, but there were definitely members of my family who were more than a bit openly prejudiced for many years. Instead, my other cousin was marveling about Tiger Woods and the fact that he’s made everyone else on the PGA tour wealthy. This was followed by a third of the table objecting to my cousin calling Tiger “black”. “He’s Asian,” we said “At least as Asian as he’s black.”

For one thing Tigers come from Asia not Africa. They don’t have tigers in Africa except in zoos.

Somehow this spun into conversations about the lives of Anna May Wong (the American born Chinese film star from the twenties) and how she degenerated personally after she was denied the lead in the Good Earth (there was a recent documentary on PBS) and Victor Sen Yung (Hop Sing from Bonanza and one of Charlie Chan’s sons) who couldn’t get cast after Bonanza. This was one of those weird signals from the cosmos to me. I’d written a short story based on Victor Sen Yung and it turned out that someone at the table really did know the guy, one of the “fictions” in my story. This segued into George Takei’s, Sulu from Star Trek, who recently made the news for being one of the first prominent Californians to apply for a marriage license to validate his same sex marriage which precipitated talk of is Sulu the wife or the husband and comments about the fact that the other Mr. Takei isn’t Asian.

Basically, it was like having all the characters in one of my own stories show up in my real life for half an hour and wreak havoc with what’s left of my imagination. This is, of course, just the stuff I could include in a blog without getting too personal or identifiable. My oldest cousin, in the meantime said little. I don’t know that anyone in my life was more generous to me than my oldest cousin after my father died. When he had money, he shared it. When things went bad, he didn’t have the greatest judgment. He’s been married seven times and had a son at the age of sixty five more than forty years after he had his first child with his first wife. He’s one of the reasons people tell me my mother’s side of the family is way more interesting than my father’s side, the one which I tend to write about.

We had to leave just before the sweet bean soup (no loss there as far as I’m concerned) so I could pick my wife up at the airport. I don’t know that I’ll be to another Chinese banquet in the meantime. So it struck me that this might have been my last time with red paper packages of money at each plate, noodles, some guy getting up at different times in the meal to introduce everyone of significance, speeches in two languages that don’t match up at all, and bottles of sparking cider (a soda I've pretty much only seen at Chinese banquets). It also might be one of the last times I see my aunt, who looks to be around 70 and who still watches CNN every day.

Years ago, when I was about seven years old, my aunt took me with her to the toy counter at the old City of Paris Department store. She told me that she wanted to buy me any castle there with all the knights and peasants I wanted. They had a huge display there, possibly because it confirmed the vaguely European flavor of the store. The castles were made of painted plastic bases with plywood walls that had little nails that stuck into holes on the base.

I looked at them all, then chose the smallest one there. I think the prices ranged from sixteen dollars to something like a hundred and eighty dollars. My aunt encouraged me to think “bigger” then pushed me to at least go up a model or two, but I dug in. I didn’t want her to spend the money (though she was already fairly wealth) and it was just a “toy”. I’ve kept the castle. It’s still in my garage on a high shelf. I think my aunt was struck by the fact that I chose the least extravagant castle even when I could have had something more elaborate. I did look for quite a while, but started thinking about things like where to store the castle, what a castle was (moat, towers, drawbridge), and how long I might actually play with the thing. In other words, I couldn’t know it at the time, but I was a bit weird for a seven year old.

A fifteen table banquet would be a big deal for me at any point in my life, though I think there were maybe twenty at the banquet for my first wedding. My aunt was extraordinarily generous to me and my wife both times I was married. When I finished graduate school, I remember that she insisted on getting me a Rolex. I picked the only model they had in stainless steel (it was still seriously expensive). I keep it in a drawer in our bedroom.

My aunt has led a long and extravagant life. She may even outlive me for all I know. I’ve insisted on a sixteen dollar castle of a life. My only serious extravagance seems to be my obsession with trying to document a family culture that’s slipping away quickly. As I got my mother’s Prius from the garage beneath the motel on Broadway just above Grant Avenue, it struck me that we’d once stayed in this motel because my father found my Grandmother’s apartment too cramped and Chinatown like, so we compromised by staying in a motel almost directly behind her. My aunt’s restaurant stands in the space that used to be my uncle’s contracting shop before he broke off from his brothers and opened a business on his own. The housing project is immediately across the street. There once was a Chinese language movie theater around the corner, but the need died with the invention of the vhs videotape. It's been replaced by video stores that specialize in getting the latest movies from the homeland.

My mother gets in the car and mentions that it didn’t seem right to have a ninetieth birthday party and not serve shark’s fin soup. In my head, I see my own cousin’s seventeen year old grandson at the table with an Ipod. When I was younger, these banquets seemed endless too. I figure I’ll see two more of these in my life. The chances are good that my mother will be the last one. I doubt that she’d want a banquet or that there’d be many people to invite.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Chairman of the Bored (Bachelorette 4 Round of 6)

photo courtesy of ABC

A few people have noted that Deanna Pappas blinks a lot. On Deanna Tells All she also had a bit of hair that kept dropping across her forehead. These things happen when you violate the time-space continuum. While some reality shows really are more or less “live”, the Bachelor, by nature, is shown mostly after the fact. I think the only time it was live was when Charley asked for extra time to choose between Krisily Kennedy and Sarah. A few other reality shows do this as well, but the Bachelor complicates matters by including things like the Women/Men Tell All show which is also taped, but shot after the episodes have started airing. It’s more or less up to Chris Harrison to maintain the illusion that all these events are happening in tv present despite the fact that the time frames jump back and forth.

In the past, the other big problem has been that so much time passes between the final rose/ring and the airing of all the episodes, the Final Pair who aren’t allowed to appear in public together often lose interest in one another. I suspect that had something to do with the quick turnaround times with the last two shows, though I’m not sure it’s helped Shayne and Matt given that he just moved out of her condo. Anyway, so when exactly did they tape that interview with Chris Harrison and when did they get Deanna to say “I know my future husband is on this show”?

I do wish that Chris would try a few more follow up questions for things like “I never knew that Ryan Hoag was a virgin” (meaning that some of this was taped after the episodes actually aired). For instance, he could have asked, “Would that have changed your decision to not give him a rose?” or “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a male virgin in the fantasy suite with you?”

In the meantime, this was Trista’s millionth appearance on the show. Is Ryan Sutter ever going to get to say anything? When they do Bachelor 86 and Grandma Trista comes on some Bachelor special will she still be the only “successful” match in the history of the franchise? Who in the world did her makeup for that final rose ceremony with Alex Michel? No wonder the guy changed his mind. Of course Trista can be a stay at home mom with a fireman husband, I assume they pay the woman every time she shows up on this show. If that were my job, I’d love it too. I thought a long time ago at least in Bachelor terms she was studying to be a physical therapist.

Any time, they break out the Trista-Ryan-Max footage you know that they ran out of stuff to do on the show. I thought Deanna Tells All was going to be interesting, instead it was more like Deanna tells nothing that you’d actually care to know. You want an example? Ron Mayer, one of this year’s villains, played college football with Ryan Sutter. Maybe they could have asked Ryan what he thought of Ron’s attempt to blitz Jeremy Anderson? Well, there is the whole matter of Ryan never talks anyway, but you get the idea. How about, “Hey Deanna did you know that Bevin Powers was one of the bridesmades in Jason Mesnick’s first wedding?” Imagine having a whole wedding made of Bachelor and Bachelorette runner ups. Deanna would get to toss the bouquet and whoever caught it would get to be the next Bachelorette.

The other problem is that they just didn’t have enough material to do a two hour show with the round of six. The actual episode was about as flat as the town of Palm Springs itself. First, who could take Sean Ramey seriously after they did that little profile on the pre-show? Gas is four and half dollars a gallon and he’s tooling around in his Hummer and going on about Louis Vuitton luggage. This is not to mention the home tanning booth and the three calls a day with mom. Alex Michel…if you’re still looking for a mate, I think we’ve found him in Kentucky.

I know that the Bachelor is about Fleiss’s notions of regular people’s materialistic fantasies, but I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing a “greener” Bachelor. They don’t have to fly everywhere in helicopters or tear up the desert ecosystem on four wheelers. While I’m at it, what’s with all the singing this year? We already established that Jeremy can’t sing, do we have to find out yet again? And geez, what’s the point of staying in the Chairman of the Board’s house if you don’t know his music?

In the meantime, I say slit the throat of whoever next says “family is really important to me” on this show. What next? Let me guess….you want someone you’re really passionate and excited about who you can spend the rest of your life with. You want to hear this sort of stuff, they need to match the Bachelorette with twenty five greeting card writers.

It was sort of fun to learn that Blaine Twilley is Howard Twilley’s son. I had wondered about the Tulsa connection. Btw, Howard Twilley was the prototype for Steve Largent who went on to become a Republican congressman, maybe Bachelor Twilley went on the show to run for office. He certainly didn’t seem to be on the thing to find romance. Yeah, the bit with the helicopter door was just dumb, but did we ever get to seem him have a normal conversation with anyone?

Usually, the final six is one of the more interesting episodes. It’s the point in the show where there are still possibilities, yet the viewer actually knows at least a little bit about each of the folks who still have a chance. This time, though, it was one hour that felt like two hours with or without the cocktail party. Part of the problem is that there was so little doubt about Deanna’s final four. I can count the moments worth seeing in this installment on one hand.

1) Deanna in a bikini again. This is interesting because, I thought she was third behind Bettina Bell and Jenni Croft in the swimsuit phase of the Bachelor. If they get her to tell America who her trainer’s been, she can make that person rich.
2) Jesse not quite getting there with the kiss. I’ve never seen a Bachelorette/Bachelor not get kissed more than this one. It’s kind of interesting.
3) Twilley’s complete lack of disappointment at not getting a rose
4) Chris Harrison missing his “Just one rose left” cue. I figure he was tired from all that heavy lifting on Deanna Tells All. Mmmmm….can I find another way to bring up the Brad Womack thing again?
5) Jeremy comparing taking the bar exam to thrill seeking. I don’t even know what to say. I think Deanna thinks thrill seeking is Jesse losing a whole layer of skin from failing to do that wheelie in the desert.

I’m still going with the whole Jason story line, as in the Bachelor franchise’s second family. I know there are people spreading the rumor that Deanna pulls a Brad and doesn’t choose anyone, but that would be the equivalent of Obama picking John Kerrey as his running mate. No, it’s more like Obama picking Joe Lieberman. I can’t see them destroying the franchise just for the heck of it, though Deanna Pappas definitely isn’t getting the “America’s sweetheart” edit. They’re showing her as self-centered, vain (those talks about guys falling for her), and more than a little confrontational at times. I sort of like it though I’m a little worried that I mentioned that my wife is sort of similar to Deanna in many ways (it’s more the confrontational-I know what a I want part). Anyway, watch for Ty to break out that star certificate thing.
other Chancelucky reviews
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Buddy TV Bachelor page
Sirlinksalot Bachelorette


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Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Last Tournament (volleyball)

Photo courtesy of Arctic Ferret

I sit in the first row of the bleachers behind court 1 at the UC Berkeley recreational center. My daughter backs up to prepare her approach for her jump float serve in the too tight space between the back line and the bleachers. It’s early in the game. The score is actually close, but there’s little doubt about the outcome. The group on the other side of the net is Golden Bear Forefront 18, one of the strongest teams in the country. They won the Crossroads Qualifier in 18 Open early in the year and won the regional championship two weeks ago. For a variety of reasons, my daughter’s team has struggled all year. As she steps back, I instinctively move my knees parallel to the bench and turn my body away from her to give her as much space as possible. I do not make direct eye contact with her. Whenever she is on the court, we don’t make eye contact.

She begins her jump and I do my other serve-watching ritual, something I’ve done for at least ten years now. I hold my breath and then exhale just at the top of her jump when she makes contact as if I can release whatever pressure is in the atmosphere of the gym to give the ball a little extra push. It works, the ball clears the net then heads towards the floor just behind the ten foot line on the right side. Before it touches the floor though Audrey Kuan manages to get a hand under the ball in the general direction of setter Blair Safir (Colgate) who zips it to Sophia Dunworth (Duke) who bounces it into the backcourt where the back row does little more than watch. A few Tarah Murrey (Cal) kills later and the game and the match are out of reach.

By this time tomorrow, my fifteen years as a junior volleyball parent will essentially be over. My daughter’s team has one more tournament at AAU’s in Orlando in June, but we can’t afford to go. Actually four members of her team also decided not to make the trip, so her team at AAU’s will be at least 50% different from the one with whom she started the season. In three months, my daughter will be playing on the East Coast for a small D1 College in the Big South Conference which almost no one in California has ever heard of. In other words hardly anyone “oohs” when we answer the inevitable question “What’s your daughter going to be doing next year?”

It’s not been a good year for “Oohs” in any case. Her high school team, after many years of success, degenerated to slightly above average. That means they got into the North Coast Section tournament then got annihilated in the second round by St. Mary’s and the nonstop “Ooh” that is Tarah Murrey, the #2 recruit in the 2008 class according to Prepvolleyball (the rest of the team had a lot to do with the result as well).

For whatever reason, Murrey’s been a presence in my daughter’s junior volleyball career ever since they were among a handful of 7th graders starting on high-level 14’s teams (my first volleyball posts were about trying to watch a tournament while standing behind really tall parents and more or less realizing what that boded for the future) Even then, it was hard to miss Tarah Murrey, already college size and a very good player, and Amanda Gil (UCLA) who at that point was 6’1 but still had difficulty jumping and swinging at the same time. My daughter was 5’3 and is probably about 5’6 now, which is the equivalent of being more or less invisible in the junior volleyball world at least when it comes to the prospect of getting time or notice in the front row or the prospect of being considered a prospect. I should mention that if Murrey were say 5’9”, she’s one of those tall players whose skills, court sense, and athleticism would still have gotten her a D1 scholarship. Angie Pressey, her direct predecessor at Cal is probably 5’8” (her level of athleticism however is probably rarer than whatever genes makes young women 6’4).

Amanda Gil’s dad Randy is more than 7 feet tall. Doug Murrey was drafted by the Warriors after starring at San Jose State. Tarah’s mom also was a great athlete and she’s close to as tall as dad. Her father once told me that Tarah’s mom was the real athlete in the family. I’m 5’9” and not especially athletic. My wife is noticeably shorter than I am but she’s mysteriously coordinated. We went to a batting cage once many years ago and she stepped up and hit seven live drives in a row. Bottom line, I’m the one who limited my daughter’s horizons in her chosen sport.

So, here I am at the Bayview Classic watching my daughter’s decidedly undistinguished team try to survive one last tournament with its dignity intact. At this point, they have no illusions. They’d be happy to come away with just one meaningful win to finish their year. Honestly, if that were to happen it would be a gift. As a whole, the team lost focus somewhere during the middle of the season. Senioritis set in. Players started prioritizing other activities, missed practices, even tournaments, and three team members including the whole back row left the team for various understandable reasons (not the coach or the players). As is often the case the reasons are always understandable, they just aren’t the sort of reasons that come up with more committed or successful teams.

At this point, the teams on the other side of the net have generally worked harder, wanted it more, and deserve to win the match more. Making matters worse, a lot of them are simply more talented and/or experienced in the first place. These are cold hard facts. Another simple but depressing fact - No team can win matches at this level with no back row (the team’s playing a 6’ tall right side with a bad elbow and shoulder at libero and she’s done well at it for someone playing completely out of position) and only three players who can consistently get a serve in play.

This last season has been a test of my daughter’s maturity and her love of the sport. Over the years, we’ve gotten used to the sound of her setting volleyballs off the open wall space near the high point of our living room ceiling and the rhythmic thud of her jump training after we go to bed at night and sometimes before we wake up in the morning. She’d sometimes come home late because she was running two miles after her high school practices. In the meantime, she sent out hundreds of e-mails to colleges, talked to coaches on her own, and even spent six months her junior year on the other coast playing with a team with more of a national profile (one of their wins last year was against Golden Bear 18 Forefront at Crossroads). She still attends every practice, she plays every match with intensity regardless of the score, she still tries to encourage her teammates (all very nice young women btw, even if they don’t live and die for the sport), and the talk in the house is still repeatedly about volleyball. Part of that is that our older daughter is a college assistant, so we’ve learned some things about the sport that most volleyball parents don’t. We consider our daughter very special because of her dedication. Still, it’s important to point out that there are hundreds of young ladies across the country just like her who don’t necessarily get much acclaim and who are special too.

My daughter’s shoulders droop after the handshakes. She’s frustrated. Her coach motions for the team to meet with him in the corner of the gym to discuss this match and prepare for the next against City Beach 17-1, the second seed in the pool. I look back and up at the steel spiral staircase that hangs over the bleachers. At the top two dads videotape either for memory’s sake or for the much hallowed and often dreaded “recruiting video”.

A few years ago, one college coach told me that the most effective recruiting video he’d ever seen was thirty seconds long and included no volleyball footage. The young woman introduced herself said what club she played for, her height, and position, then jumped up a grabbed the basketball rim. This is not a viable option for most hopefuls, but it was clear that the player/parent had grasped a lot more than the rim when making that tape. Whatever happens in these matches matters a whole lot less in recruiting terms than most of us think even with the college coaches watching.

The first few times we tried to videotape our kid’s matches disaster always struck. If the camera worked then the team would have its worst match of the season. If the match was interesting at all and she made some plays, something would go wrong with the electronics. The gym lighting would be off, the camera would be at a bad angle, or the battery would run out at just the wrong moment. I’m thankful for the Arctic Ferrets and Bear Clauses, mysterious characters who take photos at tournaments then post them on the net. Bear Clause is unusual in that he remains one of the few people who follows the sport who wasn’t a player or coach and doesn’t have a kid in the matches.

This year, we decided not to use the video camera. One of the problems with video is that it tends to tell the truth. Booming swings look a lot more ordinary. On blocks, you see the fact that the hitter was hitting down and the blocker wasn’t all that high. Endless rallies with save after save turn out to be far shorter than you remembered or experienced and involve several free balls. In the meantime, parent memory can be the ultimate video-editing software.

Actually, it was better when I did stand alone with the camera, back against the far wall of the gym or perched on top of the bleachers. I have a tendency to comment on matches as they unfold. I don’t say mean things about the players, but I do react when I see mistakes. I’ll slap my knee, make faces, exhale loudly, occasionally use minor league vulgarities that don’t quite cross into swearing or simply shake my head. I’d thought of myself as relatively silent until I played a couple of those videotapes with the audio on. It’s often better if I don’t sit with the other parents.

My wife’s notion is that you should watch junior volleyball as if you were some cross between the Buddha and Mr. Rogers. Nothing upsets you, you smile a lot, and you only chant supportive things. When we go see other people’s kids play or even matches to which we have no direct ties like this year’s women’s final four, I can actually be like that. Put my own child somewhere on the court or god forbid standing next to the court and watching and I’m not capable of that state of grace. In fact, there’s no grace or graciousness to it at all. I become the Tasmanian Devil from the old cartoons. It’s decidedly unhealthy, yet it’s all worth it for those stretches when balls hit the top of the net and fall to the other side, when the hitters find the spaces on the court, and all balls on defense seem to reflexively pop up and towards teammates who then actually free ball without dropping it ten feet out of bounds. If anyone out there remembers pinball and ever actually had a run where the bumpers and flippers were all one and the machine never tilted, it’s the same high. the Gods of gravity are with you. It’s as good a second-hand high as you can have.

That is, of course, the weirdest part of it all. It’s second hand. You’re not the one o the court nor are you the one attending practices and workouts. It’s not your hand trying to either set or hit the ball. Your only tie to what goes on there is genetic and financial. So, what the heck makes it so exhausting sometimes to watch a day’s worth of volleyball. Yeah, I know you wake up at five thirty in the morning, drive a hundred miles each way, and spend much of the day fetching food and water, acting appropriately supportive, etc., But there’s something more to it. At the end of some tournaments, my wife (with her totally different way of being at the events) and I are often more exhausted than our daughter.

When our older daughter went to play in college in the ACC, we still got very excited about the matches. It’s just that it was never as exhausting, because college parents have to be more detached. She was living on her own. She had a coach whom we didn’t pay. With one rare exception, we didn’t drive home together, find some restaurant to stop at, and offload the satisfactions and frustrations of the day. One time at the end of a road trip, the coach let us drive our daughter back to campus. It was her freshman year and it didn’t occur to us at the time that we’d never get to do those little rituals again with her.

One of the odd things about this generation is how much we’ve institutionalized play. When I was a kid (back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and gas was less than fifty cents a gallon) , little league was perhaps the only organized team sports experience you’d have prior to high school. If you wanted to do sports, you did them on your own with friends, neighbors, sometimes in pick up games. With rare exceptions, the adults never watched. Sometimes a Dad maybe once in a while a Mom would come out and join you for a bit and you’d marvel at the fact that they could actually hit, catch, or run, but it was a world owned and occupied by the kids themselves. They made the laws, suffered the consequences, and taught themselves or frequently each other how to master that corner of their universe. If your kid had a stellar day, he’d have to let his parents know that it even happened. If it was a rough day, parents might not even know unless it was so bad and you were so frustrated you’d have talk to them about it.

The junior volleyball lifestyle is more or less the exact reverse. Kids mostly play only when coached in organized practices or matches. Where kids once used to hang out watching their parents do things, parents now plan and build entire weekends around watching the kid engage in some athletic endeavor. It’s sort of like the movie Gypsy transposed to the suburbs and played out in gyms and convention centers instead of in vaudeville halls. The worst of it is that what used to be or fun has turned into some sort of scholarship factory. Seriously, fourteen year olds shouldn’t be visiting colleges much less taking offers to play at them. While that’s may be ten kids a year at best, the rest get caught up in the somebody or nobody wants me thing within two years (way worse than prom). These days, if you don’t have an offer by the end of the fall of your senior year, you’re the volleyball version of an old maid. While many blame the NCAA for this state of affairs, I suspect that we parents have played a role as well.

One proof of that is that a visit to’s message board, the center of the junior volleyball bee hive, reveals that the kids themselves hardly ever post. Almost all of those messages about playing time, getting the attention of colleges, and guarantees of great things at qualifiers and JO’s are coming either from parents or coaches. The players themselves tend to be far more positive and relaxed about the whole thing. Even John’s marketing plan reflects that. The heart of the board consists of endless lists. Where volleyball magazine’s Fab 50 used to be pretty much the only list in our world, John has lists of just about everything volleyball. Someday soon, we’ll see a list of the top fifty outside hitters named “Gretchen”. The concept is simple. Parents who spend thousands of dollars/year on the sport will happily come up with twenty five bucks to see their own child’s name on a list. It’s done with integrity though. I’ve even written stories for John and my kid’s never made a prepvolleyball list (She has been mentioned in passing in a couple articles). Amidst all this talk about the virtual reality possibilities of the Nintendo Wii and its progeny, volleyball parents have been having the experience of playing the sport without actually being on the court for years.

Between matches, my daughter finds herself keeping the scorebook. I have no idea how many times she’s helped ref at this point. She confessed to me this year that she’s pretty much managed to avoid down reffing throughout her career. The scorer’s table is probably the best duty. You get to sit down and you get to sit next to a teammate. The only downside is that the parents yell at you repeatedly whenever you’re too slow in changing the score or God forbid that you ever actually screw up the score. If you do lines, you have to fight falling asleep. Down reffing, they give you a whistle and you have the ultimate weapon for match destruction. Some kids like it and many of them do a great job at it. Most avoid it. Then there are the ones who occasionally seem to glory in making all manner of technical calls that even the refs in the chairs would hesitate about. The worst instance I remember was in a low level under fourteens match, a seventh grader decided to call every set a double regardless. Her coach wasn’t anywhere to be seen and it was one of those reminders of what was lost when NCVA decided to provide real referees only for major tournaments. Meanwhile, everyone pretends that the problem doesn’t really exist and it does sometimes happen in matches that matter. I’m not suggesting that it’s a Tim Donaghy type thing, but there’s a real value to neutral adult referees for both teaching the sport and minimizing the temptation (usually unconscious) to affect matches.

In general, reffing time is the stretch during the tournament day when we’re not utterly aware of our children. For years, I’ve used it as my time to either socialize with the other parents (the grumpier I get the less I do that) or for exploring for food. Naturally, Berkeley may be the ultimate site for that particular activity. There might be twenty places within walking distance of Haas gym, maybe more, and it’s a great assortment. You have Top Dog, an only in Berkeley libertarian hot dog stand, the usual assortment of Mexican and pizza by the slice, then the Pepto Bismol triangle (a growing concentration of Asian restaurants representing a variety of countries anchored by the venerable King Pin Doughnut shop).

Some of my best times at volleyball tournaments have come from foraging. One time I found great Thai food in Clovis. Another time it was pho near the disaster once known as the NCVA Sacramento facility (playing three matches in fourteen hours on a hundred degree day had to be good for something) My trick is that I find all this exotic food then I quickly locate some deli and bring my daughter a turkey sandwich or something recognizable. Last year at JO’s my wife discovered the joys of walleye, a kind of freshwater fish not a description of my face after watching a frustrating match. They say food always tastes better outdoors, but there’s also something very satisfying about escaping a gym and turning up exotic food near a place lined with sport court.

A couple weeks ago, one of my old friends asked me “So are all your friends these days from volleyball.”

I didn’t want to admit it, but that’s not far from the truth. It’s not quite like serving in the army together, but it’s an unusual bond. You see each other’s children grow up, work through challenges, and you spend all this time muttering about coaches and referees together. Some of the time, you play travel agent, some version of a gymnasium bound Martha Stewart, diplomat on special assignment to the afternoon pool on court 7, and you have endless conversations about kids and their plans or in some cases unwillingness to plan. Sometimes your kids wind up on different teams or in our case different clubs and you wind up measuring your level of comfort after the fact.

We never expected our daughter to play for three clubs in three years. Her playing in North Carolina instead of Northern California for a season isn’t part of the usual volleyball menu, but it worked out well. She made new friends, tested her committment to her goals, and got to play a national schedule with Triangle. We’d never have attended JOs otherwise after 13 years as club parents. Senior year, our daughter wanted to play for a club where she had a strong personal connection to the coaches. She went to Absolute, a newish Marin-based club, which in its third year had two teams qualify for JO’s for the first time.

It felt good to hang out in the food room at Bayview (they cover the floor of one room in plastic and let the kids eat indoors at actual tables). As it happened, we wound up in the same pool that morning with our daughter’s original club. This was the first time, we’d gotten to visit with some of the parents whose daughters used to be her clubmates at Empire. As we talked about the tournament, where our daughters were headed in the fall, and the approach of graduation, it didn’t occur to us that we weren’t going to do this again at least quite this way.

City Beach 17 is coached by two guys I became e-mail friends with over time. It turns out that Chris Crader and Dave Winn also went to the same junior university though they’re much younger than I am. For several years, City Beach was the dominant club in Northern California. That changed a few years back. In the meantime, Chris and Dave’s teams have always been extremely well coached. Soft blocks get picked up, backrow players are always in position, the defenses balance to cover all parts of the court on out of system plays, and players keep their poise. This team, their first year in 17-18’s features outstanding libero/ds pair in Candace Silva Martin and Courtney Vaccarello and a pair of consistent lefts with Ally Whitson and Abby Whelan. My daughter’s team had struggled in an earlier meeting this year simply because City Beach was too fundamentally sound.

For whatever reason, City Beach chose the first game of this match to completely implode. Serves went out, balls fell to the floor, and my daughter’s team went out to a rather surprising lead. In the meantime, her own team’s backrow rather mysteriously solidified and my daughter was doing most everything setters are supposed to do. On three occasions she passed balls on two into the far corner for kills, blocked a couple balls, and turned any number of impossible to play balls into sets. It was one of those matches where we wished that we’d had the video camera. Much to their surprise, my daughter’s team took the first game.

In the second game, City Beach steadied out and built a five point lead midway through the game. For most of the year, this had been the point where my daughter’s team would then take itself out of the match. Rachel Wilson then made several digs at the libero position. After being one of the better prospects in the Empire club at age 15, a serious shoulder injury had forced her to sit out a club season and Rachel the hitter never re-appeared or to be more accurate never developed quite the way she might have. This was a reminder of what might have been. Juliet Witous (University of Puget Sound) who at 5’8” was considered too small despite her athleticism kept hitting over the City Beach block and suddenly the score was 18-18. A rather odd under the net call followed and City Beach went on to score three points in a row, one a textbook 4 from Whitson.

I suppose if this were a movie, my daughter’s team would have gone on to win the game and the match, but most matches come down to basics like making serves, closing the block, keeping free balls in play, etc. and if you don’t do these things it catches up with you more or less the way gravity prevails. City Beach reverted to its normal solid fundamental play and my guess is that they’ll do fine in 17 Nationals in Dallas.

After the match, Chris Crader was gracious enough to tell me that he thought my daughter had played well. It was the sort of gesture for which I’d come to appreciate so many of the friends we’ve made over the years in the region.

Potentially, the match with Empire also would have been those opportunities for “saving the tournament”, but it simply wasn’t to be and the match wasn’t even remotely close. The next day was even worse. Early in the day, my daughter dove to the floor for a ball and a teammate landed on her head. She didn’t move for several seconds, but fortunately got up and insisted on continuing to play. Simply put, it was a dismal end to a tournament to finish a frustrating year. It happens.

On the same weekend, our older daughter called to tell us that her women’s adult team had beaten the National A2 team in five games in pool play (technically, it was half the A2 team) at the US Women’s National Open in Atlanta. Ironically, that A2 team included Kimmie Rolleder who starred for the Point Break team in last years 18 Nationals at JO’s, the team that eliminated our younger daughter’s team. Rolleder had probably been the second best player at last year’s tournament after Kelly Murphy of SPVB, who had one of the great JO finals in a 5 game match with Long Beach Mizuno. More interesting, the A2’s were coached by a guy who had decided not to recruit our daughter way back when . The next day, her team managed to beat a team of University of Hawaii alumna, many of whom came from the team who beat her team in her last college match in Lincoln in the round of 16 so many years ago. Among the Hawaii players was our older daughter’s equivalent of Tarah Murrey, former Hawaii setter Jennifer Carey. According to my daughter, the player who stood out on the two A2 teams was Callie Rivers (Florida- her father coaches some basketball team in New England), whose last year with OVA ended in frustration at Far Westerns. In other words, it’s never over.

A couple months ago, we had flown to North Carolina to visit our daughter’s college for the first time. On the trip, we decided to see the team our older daughter coached at the time play in a spring tournament at Wake Forest. It turned out to be a fascinating mix of the full range of east coast volleyball. Wake Forest is a solid ACC team. Winthrop is a long time power in the Big South. Winston Salem State is perhaps the weakest division 1 program in America. ECU is a solid team from conference USA. In addition, Wingate a D2 team coached by former Georgia Tech coach, Shelton Collier, and Gardner Webb were also there. We were looking for the ECU team and our older daughter when much to our shock we saw her on the court setting her adult team in the tournament (an emergency came up and they needed her to play). Even more surprising, her group of former college players most of whom hadn’t played in several years was more than competitive, one of these reminders that it’s a shame that there are so few opportunities for volleyball players after they use their NCAA eligibility. Molly Pyles’s father, Jerry, had made the trip from Asheville to watch his own daughter play. I went over to him in the bleachers and in some ways it was like no time at all had passed. We were just another couple volleyball parents still watching our daughters play.

Throughout my daughter’s own college career, her team’s single biggest individual nemesis had been a Wake Forest Player, Trina Masa De Moya ( a player so athletic that after playing volleyball throughout college went out and played professional soccer after a four year layoff). She had now joined Get Low and they were playing against Wake Forest together in the Wake Forest gym. Masa de Moya remains the only player I’ve ever seen dive into the right corner for a dig and get a kill from the left on the same play. Bottom line, it’s possible to keep playing the sport and these women were clearly enjoying themselves.

Despite the way my daughter’s last Bayview Classic went in our last adventure as full-on junior volleyball parents, we’ll miss this. Both our daughters found a sport they seem to love deeply and that sport provided them with an opportunity to grow as competitors and young women. We often wondered about the younger one taking on a sport for which she did not have the ideal body and in which her older sister had been relatively successful. Instead of creating stress between the two, it actually bonded them. They still talk about someday coaching together. Instead of discouraging our younger daughter, her lack of height made her even more determined to prove that she deserved to be on the court (she’s one of the smaller non-liberos in the country with a D1 scholarship). We’ve met wonderful people along the way from all three clubs our kids played for (coaches, parents,players, and surprisingly people I met through the internet) and from teams they played against. There are just so many memories for us.

A few years ago, I wrote that club volleyball is the product of a few happy circumstances that include large numbers of middle class and wealthier parents, people thinking of girls’ athletics being important, and affordable gasoline. We’ve been very lucky to have been parents in a time where the opportunity has been available to our girls. As we finish our own run, things may be changing within the sport (the JVDA challenge to USAV may be the least of those looming changes), I just hope that when we become volleyball grandparents at some time in the distant future that some of these opportunities will still exist or that they will have expanded.

The traditional thing is to say that we’ll still go to an occasional junior tournament, but I actually find that’s not the case for most of us. We’re looking forward to being the parents of a college student and I imagine I’ll look at the prepvolleyball message board, but I know that looking at all those lists now for recruits in the class of 2010 is just a completely different thing. I just hope the parents after us will always fight to make it a positive, wholesome, healthy experience for all their sons and daughters at every level of the sport.

We had two daughters play this sport. After all those hundreds of matches, neither one ever qualified in open, made a fab 50 list, or even got close to a USA developmental camp. Neither one won a state championship. In the end, none of that mattered. Both of them made it across adolescence and into healthy young womanhood at least partly because of the experiences they had playing junior volleyball. Both came away with a feeling of accomplishment, a willingness to work as part of a team and to improve themselves as individuals, and a sense that a woman can work on herself physically for reasons other than to get males to pay attention to you. We’ll miss getting home on Sunday night with an exhausted child asleep in the back seat. We’ll miss showing up at work on Monday and not being able to explain to co-workers that we spent an entire weekend watching our daughter run around a gym and that we actually loved it. I’ll miss the ritual of holding my breath than exhaling every time my daughter serves then feeling exhausted at the end of the day as if I’d been on the court myself. Whenever I try to look back at all of those years a a junior parent, it wasn't always smooth, but we'll remember it as one big "ooh". We've been terribly fortunate.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Deannica Pappas (Bachelorette 4 Round of 9)

Wow, you want the faq on how not to get a rose? Robert Fair might not know the recipe for love, but he sure knew how to cook his own goose. Where do we start? Yes, the other guys were doing the frat boy thing by hazing Robert and Fred at the afternoon cookout/pre 2 on 1 date with Deanna. No, you don’t throw your apron up the hillside, go sulk in the bunk house, or throw a fit because the guys called you Bobbie. I know that it may be some residue from the fact that you can’t hit a baseball, but let’s be real. You were sulking because while the rest of the guys there scored points by taking their shirts off for the Bachelorette, you weren’t one of them.

I mean, you ‘ve been watching the way she’s sidled up to Graham Bunn and how she keeps buying lapdances from Jeremy Anderson. Yeah, I know, no one else can understand what Blaine Twilley is still doing on the show, but you were absolutely right about that top three thing – you didn’t have a chance. I suppose it gets you even madder that Jesse Csinksak, the midget snowboarder, is getting his chance, but there’s a guy who's a serious operator. Did you see him segue into the rose talk on that one on one date? He also figured out that the songwriting contest really wasn’t about the singing or even the songwriting. You, however, might fancy yourself as a ladies man, but in the words of Ron Mayer “You’re seriously lacking something my friend.”

Okay, so where do we start? If you’re just sitting down on the couch to talk to a lady, you don’t ask to kiss her right away. If she only lets you kiss her on the cheek, it’s also definitely not a sign that there’s a real connection developing. Sorry, Mr. Passion go back to the little boy’s table. Even worse, if a lady asks you what’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done on a date, you’re not supposed to have an answer right away and the object is definitely not to blow her away with an elaborate story about another woman. Dude, it’s a trick question!

So, what do you do oh Master Chef. First you mention an ex-fiancee maybe for the first time, then you launch into what appeared to be a half hour long story that sounds like the corniest possible fantasy date from the Bachelor (rose petals, helicopters). You then top it off with, “It took me six and a half months to pay it off”.

What was wrong with this? Well, there’s the talking about old girlfriends rule. Second, there’s the fact that you made it clear that you were still way into her. Third, Deanna said she’s looking for a husband and so you basically confessed that you can’t make sensible money management decisions. If you want to blow six months income, do it on the engagement ring or the wedding.

Anyway, it was pretty funny when Deanna does “Well, Bobbie…I gotta say good bye right here, really nice knowing you.”

Let’s back up here….Years ago, I had a guy friend who went to culinary school. He insisted that it was maybe the easiest place to um get approached by women that he’d ever seen. First food is a very sensual activity and most of the other students are female. Anyway he was an attractive enough fellow but no male model (somewhere between Fred and Sean) and he said that they were literally appearing in his bed and surprising him at times in the dorm. Anyway if that’s the case, what’s Robert doing on a dating show. There was a guy near me (never met him) who runs a local micro-brewery pub place who went on Meredith’s show. He got it. You go on the show so America knows about your business (see Brad Womack). You may have noticed that ole Robert had the chance to do the steaks at the cookout and left Fred to be the “good guy”. In other words, he missed his chance to have all those bare-shirted guys say things like “Bobbie might be a dork, but he sure can cook.”

There have been any number of folks who did something borderline psychotic or simply idiotic on the Bachelor which probably led to not getting a rose. I’ve never seen anyone step in it more than Robert without doing something psycho, say like Trish or Lee Anne (Bob’s season). If he really wanted to find someone to date, he should at least have gone on Top Chef. Instead, I’m wondering would I eat at this guy’s restaurant? (occasionally Deanna Pappas does have a sort of Catherine Zeta Jones thing going “Without Reservations”)) Kind of like I’m wondering would I really want Ron Mayer holding a razor to my neck? Robert’s fall from grace from getting an early rose last week to the cold shoulder or was it cheek was just great tv.

I do think they’ve overhauled the writing for the Bachelorette and that’s been a good thing. While the choosees have occasionally been a bit loony, the Bachelor or Bachelorette generally stays calm and polite on the surface. Regardless of what happens, the Bachelor usually says things like “Don’t worry about it, anyone can pass out drunk on a group date at the beach. It’s just that I had a stronger connection with the other ladies” or “It’s not that big a deal that everyone in the house hates you. You’ve always been wonderful around me. It’s just that I’m contractually obligated to pick Shayne.”

Anyway, I thought it was really cool that Deanna went into full PMS mode. “What’s the matter with you guys? You’re supposed to be getting to know me, not trying to avoid me. I’m the f’ing Bachelorette. I was led on by that scumbag, don’t you think I know what you’re all going through? I’m going back to the house.”

I also really liked the whole kiss bit with Graham Bunn where he’s pulled off his sweat-soaked flame-retardant suit and Deanna “time to kiss me” to which Graham replies “I don’t do sloppy seconds lady” or “I’d rather do Danica Patrick”. I don’t know why but Deanna just didn’t seem to take well to Graham’s insinuation that she was some sort of slut. Ever see “Heart Like a Wheel”, the movie about Shirley Muldowney? My guess is that if they were going to play Dukes of Hazzard, Graham wanted Deanna to be more Daisy Duke than John Schneider, at least before he got in the mood to kiss.

I also have to say that Sean Ramey might have seemed to make progress with Deanna, but it’s illusory. He claimed to be Mr. Muscle Car and Deanna out drove him, it’s going to get to him eventually. What next, is she going to be kicking two lemons off his head before the rose ceremony? More serious, he didn’t seem to understand the not so fine distinction between being “Southern”, something Deanna clearly takes great pride in, and being a “Redneck”. When he started going on about how the Bluegrass state connection was a sign that they’re meant to be, I was thinking “Wow, now if she were just the guy’s first cousin and 14” she’d be perfect. Finally, he blew it big time. Deanna talked about her mom spending her last years in Fort Campbell and the guy didn’t ask a thing about the lady.

If I felt bad for anyone on the show, it was Fred. Even Robert thought Fred was a great guy. If this show were “The Mensch” instead of the “Bachelorette” ole Fred would still be in it weird yankee accent and all. What’s his reward for all this? Deanna gives him the same speech that Brad gave her. I know she’s doing it earlier in the name of not leading the guys on, but come on lady! You already made him think he was getting a rose. At least you could have made out with the guy for a minute then decided that the chemistry wasn’t quite right. She sent him home to the Average Joe 8 auditions anyway.

So after the most unromantic Bachelorette episode ever, good old Jason just happens to be the only guy in the house when Deanna gets back and it just happens that he’s not on the phone with his son or looking through a telescope for the star that Deanna named for him. What do we get? It’s a full-on Meg Ryan movie and Jason gets to go from I’m slipping behind hard to get Graham and Eddie Haskell’s long lost cousin Jeremy to Mr. Sensitive. Btw. Was it Jason who set up the special table for Fred and Bobbie? If so, the guy’s damned smart. You notice how they didn’t mention Ty once this time through? Wanna know why? Cause come that home visit it’s going to be Ty Mesnick all the time.

Other stuff-
I seriously thought Jesse should have given the rose to Natasha Bedingfield. How weird is it? Both Jesse Csinsack and Deanna were suddenly on a first name basis with their bud Natasha. Jesse appears to be one of these guys that the Bachelorette just can’t eliminate, but who just doesn’t make sense for her either. His pal Natasha would have been a way bigger boost to his clothing line anyway. Btw, if I were Natasha and cut my fee to be on the show, I’d be majorly upset that they let that bozo Twilley sing more than I did. This is reality tv, they should at least have mentioned her latest album or concert tour.

I really liked the impromptu pool party for reasons other than the obvious. I agreed. I thought she did look good in the bikini. I’m thinking personal trainer post-Brad. Just as Deanna’s confrontational side was getting to be a bit much, she did know when to make things fun again. Actually, my wife’s personality is eerily like Deanna’s so it’s been a bit strange to watch this installment. Well, my wife doesn’t drive quite that fast. The scary thing is that I’m a sulker like Robert at times.

That Brian guy was sure huge. It did seem like he was a little unclear on the concept. When you go on the show, you’re supposed to actually talk to the Bachelorette. All I remember the guy saying repeatedly was “I want to be married for life when I get married,” as say opposed to do it just to be on national tv. Why am I not shocked that a football coach bonded with the guys too much?

I think Deanna tells all is a terrific idea. I suspect it’s because there’s not that much suspense about the final four, but it’ll be interesting to see her comment on this stuff. For instance, the barbeque she walked out of certainly didn’t seem so bad in the out takes. I could see Chris asking her say “What she really did with Jason with the two of them alone in the house that night?” “So Deanna, how does he compare to Brad?” We could find out why in the world Twilley keeps getting roses. She could comment on the Trista-Ryan divorce rumors. Maybe Brad himself will show up or Andy can turn up to hit on her. If only she throws Twilley out of that helicopter after he gets that window open next week.
other Chancelucky reviews
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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Birthplace of the Blues (fiction-alternate history)

note: I just need to make sure that people who read this understand that it's completely made up. I recommend David Garrow for those who want a balanced take on this.

He didn’t know she was married or that she was anyone’s mother, much less my mother. I don’t know for sure that he would have cared, but it’s important to me that he didn’t know. He was in the city to support the garbage worker’s strike. As it happened, my father had a desk job with the sanitation department. It doesn’t really figure in except Daddy hadn’t been home before nine in three weeks. He was the only person in management trying to talk the city into a compromise. The people at his work called him the worst names behind his back.

Mamma collected autographs. Daddy didn’t like her doing it. In front of me, he’d say “You’re too old for that sort of thing. You’re not some bobby soxer. It ain’t dignified.”

She kept them in a red book like a diary with a tassel to mark the newest page. Her favorite story was about Union Avenue in front of Sun Records. She not only got Johnny Cash’s autograph, but Jerry Lee Lewis’s too on the same day. Elvis had a page all to himself. She met him when she worked at the car dealer’s. Elvis offered to buy her a cheeseburger. She had to tell him that she was married. Elvis felt guilty and didn’t buy the gold Cadillac De Ville. The boss fired her the next day. “It was just a cheeseburger girl. The king’s married himself.”

Mamma had red hair and green eyes. People used to tell her back then that she couldn’t possibly be anyone’s mother. Her face would light up and she’d shake her head so that her hair moved around and say, “Aren’t you so sweet, but I wouldn’t trade my boy for anything in the whole world.”

She was walking up Beale Street and and a friend told her to get his autograph. Mamma asked “Does he sing or play an instrument?”

Her friend just laughed “Girl, are movie stars and musicians the only thing you know about?”

“I read the front page of the newspaper sometimes, “ then she looked again and went “Oh…”

The entourage was just about to walk past, so the friend says “Here’s your chance.”

Mama stepped to their side of the sidwalk, held out the book and the pen and smiled. He’s nice about it, but he has other things to do that afternoon. Two of the men wear white clerical collars. He smiled at my mother and looks her straight in the eye. It took her by surprise. Black men still didn’t usually do that, but she was the one asking for the autograph and that didn’t happen much either still. One of the men with a collar started to move towards them.

He took the pen and signs, gave her back the book, but accidentally held on to the pink pen, then walked back up Beale Street. Mama closed it up quick and didn’t even look at the autograph. She got me from school twenty minutes late, made our dinner, and left her book on the kitchen table. We took the dog for a long walk, but forgot to leave a note.

Daddy must have come home in between. All I know is that he opened it up to the spot marked by the blue ribbon and it said “Room 205 Lorraine Motel”. Mama didn’t even know that’s what was written in her book until it was too late, at least that’s what she told me.

I never saw my father again. You didn’t have to read the papers to hear the news. Even though it was April 5 already, Mama decided to build a big fire in the living room fireplace. When the flames got real high, she tossed in her red book of autographs.

“But Mama, you love that book.”

“Not any more," she whispered.

She sat on the sofa and pressed me against her then began to cry. The next morning, she read the front page of the Memphis Record over and over. Every day for the rest of her life, she read the paper.

“Where’s Daddy?” I asked her.

She shook her head. “I don’t know…..We’re just having a misunderstanding. He’ll come home, we’ll get it straightened out.”

We watched the funeral on television. They showed the widow Coretta with their children and Mama made me turn it off.

Two months later, they caught a man named James Earl Ray whose lawyer talked him into confessing without a trial. My Daddy’s body was found in the Mississippi River six months after that. They don’t even mention it in the paper.

I was twenty two when the cancer took her. I married young. My wife is black, we met at Southern Illinois. I was surprised that mama never seemed bothered about it given that the South never left her in most other ways. She just told us, “You two stay faithful to one another. Promise?”

We were living in St. Louis by then and after we left Memphis we never went back. Mama gained weight. She used to love to gossip, but gave it up after the move.

Before she died , my mama told me what was in her autograph book, “It’s the dream not the man that matters sometimes. Swear that you’ll never tell anyone.”


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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Name that Spore (social comment)

Last week, my wife came from her garden in our front yard and she was really upset. There was a pile of animal feces right where she had begun planting corn. She was absolutely certain that the pile was too high to have come from a dog and immediately concluded that it had to be a stalker among our corn stalks. Like all neighborhoods, ours comes with a bit of history. We moved here seventeen years ago and there was a pair of hunting dogs roaming front yards at night. After talking to some of the other neighbors about it, a few of them mentioned that they didn’t like it much either but apparently no one had done much about it. My wife went to talk to one other neighbor whose dogs had also gotten loose and he and his wife started screaming at her. Anyway, she took the matter into her own hands (she’s very good at this) and called the pound.

As it turned out, the owner of the two hunting dogs is the neighborhood psychopath. One neighbor explained that he’s the guy who works underground at the construction sites and it’s affected his personality or he’s always been that way. Every few years, the police show up at his house on domestic violence matters. Anyway, he wasn’t very happy that it cost him a hundred dollars to get his dog out of the pound.

Fast forward, twelve years, yes twelve years, and his dog gets out again and kills our cat on our front doorstep. He killed another cat down the street as well. It costs us almost two thousand dollars in vet bills and the cat dies anyway. The owner doesn’t come over to apologize, refuses to return my phone calls, then screams at me when I knock on his door and threatens to kill me. I call the local police and the officer tells me that my neighbor wants me to sue him in small claims court so his property insurance company can cover the cost. I do that then get a call from the insurer who give us something like twenty five hundred dollars for the cat.

The next year, my wife isn’t happy about strange dogs coming and leaving dog things in our front yard. She puts a sign by our mail box asking people walking their dogs to pick up after themselves. One night she’s driving home and the neighbor is standing in front of our mailbox with his young daughter. In the morning we discover that he’s left a pile of dog poop in front of our mailbox and left a sign on top of our sign. I’m not sure why he decided to involve his daughter in the matter.

Two years later, one of our dogs (Lucky) is missing. We eventually get a call from the police saying that our neighbor has it and is insisting that Lucky keeps slipping into his yard and kills his chickens. He’s holding up a dead chicken and he tells the officer that he wants two thousand five hundred dollars for the return of our dog and to replace the dead chicken. There are a couple problems with his story. Lucky is eleven years old and doesn’t move around very well anymore. She’d either have had to jump a five foot tall cyclone fence or slip across a thorn-infested creek that links our yards then came through his backyard to kill chickens when he still has hunting dogs there. The police officer makes him return the dog then gives us a ticket for our dog being out of the yard.

For some odd reason, my wife is convinced that the poop in front of her nascent cornstalks must be our neighbor (three houses up the hill). She starts telling me that he’s probably going to use a gun next time. She goes to the police who take her report. I bury the pile of poop. It is rather large and contains fragments of undigested nuts or something like it. Yuck.

Two days later there’s another pile of pooh in exactly the same spot though this one is a bit smaller. We then learn that our across the street neighbor (also a little strange) is getting the same pile in their front yard as well. It then occurs to us that it might not be the psychopath neighbor. Believe it or not, I’ve still never exactly spoken to the guy.
One night I was riding my bike down the hill and he was driving up in his car and he did spontaneously start swearing at me, but even then I didn’t talk to him.

We now believe that it’s some sort of animal, but what sort of animal leaves this kind of conical pyramid of spore and always in the same exact spot? We do live a couple counties away from Big Foot, the giant humanoid creature that supposedly roams the redwoods. That would be way better than the flock of wild turkeys that wander our front yards from time to time. My sister in law is a biologist from fish and game and she’s thinking raccoon, but that’s way too boring. I’m sort of rooting for Big Foot or some other mythical creature. Perhaps it could be a prehistoric rodent or space aliens who have moved from crop circles to crap circles. We do watch a lot of Law and Order SVU. I was thinking of calling Doctor Warner (Tamara Tunie) to have her run the DNA test.

Maybe we can turn it into a hit reality show “Name that spore” and we can then move to another neighborhood and be free of psychopath neighbor?


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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Guy's Guys (Bachelorette 4 Deanna Pappas Round of 12)

Ron Mayer has to be one of the scarier characters to appear on the Bachelor franchise. Some of those looks he aimed at Jeremy Anderson in the name of Bachelor equity or whatever it was would have made you think that Jeremy had been the guy who broke up Ron’s marriage or that he’d spat on the flag or something. The only thing I could figure out was that Jeremy kept asking for time with Deanna when other guys hadn’t had as much personal time with her. When Deanna asks him to “Tell me something fun about yourself, Ron?”, he goes all Captain Queeg, “Hell, I’m a fun guy, a real fun guy, yep who stole my strawberries, Jeremy’s stealing my strawberries.”

I started thinking about a few things and it dawned on me that Ron owns a high-end barber shop, in other words a real Guys’ place. So, you really want this fellow standing over you with a razor blade in hand and a hot towel wrapped around your face? Think the opening scene of Eastern Promises….Think Sweeney Todd… If Jeremy Anderson ever goes to Kansas City to get his hair cut then disappears, just don’t eat the the mincemeat pies served at Ron’s barber shop. See ya sweetie, we all want the best for you there Ron.

In Deanna’s terms though, Ron was one of these guy who just couldn’t “open up” with or without his case of the Deannas. “Opening up” seems to be her mantra for this show. Doesn’t matter if you’re funny looking (Jesse), all the guys hate you (Jeremy), positively drip with cheesy pick up lines (Robert), or just don’t seem to have anything in common with you (Fred) if you open up to Deanna, you get your rose. Actually, I think that’s a good thing. My only qualm is that there’s some major transference going on here.

Deanna’s issue is that she’s actually the one who can’t open up easily. She said so herself. She tends to keep everything in and wants to be in control. It’s her reaction to having to deal with her mother’s cancer at such a young age and being the one who then felt responsible for her sister. Jason Mesnick confesses about Ty, the infant that he dragged across the putting green, and somehow that turned him into some sort of emotional can opener. He says, “Tell me about your mom…” and the freaking dam breaks. After trying to get various guys to open up for three weeks (okay if this is what she wanted I don’t understand the Brad Womack thing at all), Deanna has always been the one who’s said relatively little about herself in response. This time though, it’s Oprah city (sorry Ellen).

At the cocktail party, Deanna then indulges in one of the most romantic exchanges in Bachelor/ette history. “Here’s a certificate Jason, I had them name a star for your son. You get to look at the star every other weekend and on Monday, Wednesday, Friday.”

I’m trying to remember, didn’t they do something similar in the movie Roxanne? (no kid though) I’ve written that the key to the Bachelor is that the audience has to love the Bachelor or Bachelorette before they start rooting for him/her to find the perfect match. Bob Guiney seemed perfect because Oprah/Bachelor fans across America already loved the guy. It just turned out that he had this rare disease, generally found only in frat houses, where he had this compulsion to stick his tongue down the throat of every woman he met whether he intended to give her a rose or not. Jesse Palmer, Lorenzo Borghese, Travis Stork, Matt Grant, and most spectacular of all Jen all foundered on the fact that viewers quickly fell out of love with them. The bought you a star episode bought Deanna major Bachelor street cred. So much of the show is “yes, I want a connection, I feel a connection, I’m want to be there for you.” This was one of those gestures speak louder than words things. Deanna found a way to say “I’m okay with the kid thing there Jason” with a level of style that was beyond your average romance movie.

Not only did she tell Jason,”You’re the first guy I’ve ever dated who I told about my mother.” (if you watch Romance movies, this is basically the point in the script where the audience knows that it’s over. Here on in it’s just a question of what or who might get in the way of the inevitable and how the screenwriter solves it), Deanna buys the kid the star which Jason no doubt sends to poor Ty for that tear jerker of a home visit when she finds it posted in his room or he starts referring to her as the “Wish upon a star lady”.

Btw I’m waiting for two other things. We’re going to learn that Jason’s first wife’s change of direction was to become a friend of Ellen. We’re then set up for the ultimate Bachelorette with the highest male viewership ever. Second, knowing Fleiss if there’s a a proposal in the works look for signs that the show flew Deanna’s dad out to California or wherever the final rose ceremony is going to be. Remember that was the first big tip that Brad Womack was basically a sleaze. Not only did he sleep with all the ladies on the fantasy dates, he let them fly Deanna’s dad out, then claimed that he just didn’t feel that way about any of the women. Anyway if you happen to be a sleuther or knows someone who admits to it, I’d say follow Deanna’s dad’s whereabouts. If the guy say has been anywhere near Seattle or Los Angeles in the last couple months, it’s a done deal.

I think the other interesting sleuther development is that there are signs that the Ty footage used at the beginning of the show may have been shot in May or after the completion of filming.

On the other hand, Mike Fleiss for a guy who produces a romance show has an amazingly clumsy feel for actual romance. VH1 had Bachelor reruns on over the weekend and they were showing the last couple episodes of Alex Michel. My wife caught me watching and she started screaming at me that she wasn’t going to permit to watch that sleaze. She’s still upset and insists that the guy was the ultimate combination of sleaze and momma’s boy at the same time which is sort of scary because she accuses me of that sometimes :}. Anyway, there was the bit where Alex pressures Shannon about the fantasy suite and it was also clear that he really didn’t like her dog (the dogs always know btw), there was the part where he tricks Trista Rehn into sleeping with him by telling her that he wants to pick her, and then there was this great bit where Amanda Marsh’s parents ask him where he went to college and Alex says “Harvard” and they look at him totally blankly either “we’ve never heard of the place” or “How did our previously married, damaged goods daughter, turn up some guy from Harvard?”. First time I ever saw that happen with the “H” bomb. Harvard folk always tell strangers that they went to college near Boston because they’re so afraid of the devastating impact of the “H” bomb. Arguably, that’s been the template for the show ever since.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that they think they’ve got Trista-Ryan version 2 on their hands here. Can you say Big Fat Greek Televised wedding with everyone in pink?

Richard Mathy: What was with the copycat date? Didn’t Jade and Deanna have a two on one date atop a tall building in Los Angeles with good old Brad? And the Cinderella carriage was used in one of the dates on Age of Love. Poor Richard, they don’t give the science teacher the Mount Wilson Observatory date even after his own most romantic moment was exactly that? Worse yet, he was a total goner as soon as he confessed to Deanna that he’d never brought a woman home to the family even the woman from his romantic moment.
Am I the only one who noticed? Deanna’s speech to Richard was amazingly similar to Brad Womack’s let down speech to her all the way to details like “I can’t return those feelings and I’m going to have to say goodbye to you here.” They should have showed her circling the Cinderella carriage with the rose in her hand. I thought the “I can tell Richard’s falling for me” thing a bit presumptuous on her part, but whatever.

Jeremy Anderson: He’s a Deanna favorite, but he’s subtly losing steam. He did rescue her from Ron, something Deanna thanked him for, but the actual talk between the two of them didn’t really move forward substantively. Jeremy’s “I’m in it emotionally not just for the right reasons” was sort of a weird non sequitur.

Btw , there was a little running joke with the Ron vs. Jeremy thing. As in they kept making a repeated oblique reference to the guy who’s starred in 850 movies that have never been on network television. I think I did see part of Orgazmo on cable once though. Also the random shots of the bulges during the Ellen Boxer’s sequence suggests to me that a couple of the Bachelor camera men moonlight in Chatsworth, AKA Porn Valley. Maybe Fleiss doesn’t pay all that well.

Paul Brosseau: He seemed very happy to get to take his pants down for Ellen. He even threw his arms up. This guy took the whole idea of national tv exposure a bit too literally. I’m thinking set him up with the Nanny from Brad’s season who jumped in the pool in a bikini at the opening cocktail party.

Robert Fair: If you can’t feel your fingertips, you may be having a stroke. They stole this plot line from Mostly Martha (the German movie not the remake with Catherine Zeta Jones), but he’s not right for the part. He’s supposed to be loosening Deanna up and it’s just not happening.

Jesse Csinack: Deanna fakes the injury on the mechanical bull, straight from the Tessa Horst playbook btw, and Jesse is the first guy to lay hands on her. He then tells her that he “farts” in bed. Way too much information there. I confess, he’s a very entertaining character who seems to be there to show America how open-minded Deanna is about love.

Graham Bunn: I said it last week. This is Brad 2.0 though this guy did admit to the pain of seeing Deanna date other guys.

Fred: Okay, he makes a closing argument for himself in front of Ellen and he does get some time at the dude ranch, but does anyone think this guy has any kind of chance?

Sean Ramey: Was he actually on the show this week?

Brian: I loved Deanna’s complaint that he keeps talking about the other guys. They do shower together, so who knows.

Blaine Twilley: Can you be more annoying than this guy? Deanna worried to Ellen that the guy was too over the top for her. You think? He’s too over the top for Bette Midler concerts.

other Chancelucky reviews
Sir linksalot Bachelor links

Buddy TV Bachelor page


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