Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Latest

I did a great job for the first half of the year writing consistently in this blog. I set a goal to get to it four to five times a week in order to beat my best year of writing consistently (200 posts in 2008) and do way better than last year (only 45 posts in all of 2013), but then I fell off---I am not sure why. My life didn't get busier--it got slower. I am more productive when I have a lot to do and sloth-like when I have less to do. But I will try to get to the blog more often. It's like if someone told me I had to do it, I would, but since I'm the only one paying attention, I let it slide.

My Penn degree arrived in the mail yesterday.  I am not even quite certain what the degree is MLA? LPS? MRS? It's a Master's in liberal studies of some kind. It was not inexpensive to get, even though since I worked at Penn, much of the coursework was covered by my benefits. But the way that goes is you can take a limited number of classes per year, so if you don't want to spend ten years toward a degree, you end up covering some of the costs to expedite the process. But Penn has been generous with me as a student and as an employee, and I got some writing done there, and so I have no complaints.

The other cool thing that's in the works is that I will be teaching a comp course at Rider in the fall. I met yesterday with the director of the rhetoric program and the head of the English department and got a ton of suggestions for course books. I lugged them home to go through them this weekend. I'm  intimidated and excited to get back to teaching. I love it, and I know it can be all-consuming. Unless you're the kind of teacher who coasts and structures the class so that the students present or it's half about workshops, you have to prep for your lesson plan all the time. The class I'm teaching is an introduction to writing, so I will need to spend time talking about thesis statements and argumentation and paragraph development.

Here are the books that were suggested. Let me know if you think of others, particularly if there are any grammar books you like:

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Big Finale or No One is Getting Married Just Yet (My Guess) at the End of this Amazing Journey

We already know that there will be a shocking ending to the show which could mean a few things:

1. Andi decides not to pick either the poet or the former baseball player and to go on Bachelorette in Paradise and roll the dice again.
2. Andi picks Nick and he turns her down, telling her that he just got a call from NBC for his own sitcom.
3 She chooses Josh and Josh throws her a curve ball by letting her down easy.
4. Someone dies unexpectedly, like Nick's non-existent maternal grandmother and there is no resolution.
5. Andi realizes that she is in love with Juan Pablo and sprints off with him to go on a Hawaiian cruise.
6. Andi picks Josh, but Josh doesn't pick her.

My guess is that she picks Nick and he tells her to go fly a kite, but in a way that rhymes.

Hometown date #1 with Nick 

Nick sucks up to the family by bringing very gender-specific gifts such as flowers for mom and a big bottle of booze for dad, whose name is Hy, short for?? Hythere? Hylo? Hyfive? Nick wears a pair of long underwear unbuttoned to his navel. He proclaims how much he loves their daughter and mom starts to cry because maybe she's gotten into the booze stash meant for Hybrow.
This is the other part of the show I despise. The guy asking the dad if he can wed his daughter and the father negotiating the number of asses he will bring to the wedding. Dad hesitates about giving his permission for Nick to carry Andi off into the marriage hut and rape her on their honeymoon, but hell, yes, why not?

Hometown date #2 with Josh
Josh shows up in a nicer dress shirt, also unbuttoned a little too far. His gender specific gifts are flowers and cigars. Dad observes that Josh is sweating like a pig. Andi's mom finds him to be boisterous and obnoxious. Sister Alli with her Hercules tattoo on her shoulder wants to know if he's as much of a player as he seems. The sisters seem to be the exact same age, but they don't look  all that much alike. Josh talks a little too fast and is appearing a bit like a used car salesman. He may be coked up. He literally without a doubt knows that he wants to probably spend the rest of his life with Andi. Hy and Josh are wearing the exact same outfit----blue shirts and white shorts. It's a battle of the chest hair. I missed the scene due to spending too much time Googling "handsome car salesman" (see photo to the left).

Final date with Josh on some island somewhere

Why does he keep saying "Mw-ah" when he kisses her? Why does he wear a tank top with a tiny pocket on the front of it? Who is driving this cruise ship or is it self-piloted? These two both have excellent dentists. He's a spanker. He may have celery between his perfect teeth. He's a total goofball and I find it ridiculous that she can even fake it this much. Dan observes that they look like brother and sister. This creeps him out no end. Andi wonders if this whole thing is too good to be true, and I can't understand what's so good about it. For the evening, Josh changes into red sweat pants. I wonder if they have stylists who help them decide what to wear? And make sure that they match and stuff. I feel like he might be a loud breather.

Josh says he knows everything about her and he has no questions. To his credit, he does ask her if she has any questions for him. "There will be ups and downs and peaks and valleys, and my love for you is not just a puppy dog phase. That's not how I feel. Me personally." He has brought her a note that he wrote for her in boyish penmanship. He gives her a baseball card with her name on it and his last name engraved over hers, not realizing that she would never want to take his  last name. Well, that's my assumption, but I might be very wrong. She seems to like it. Audible kissing. Is it so weird to kiss someone while they are filming you? It must be.

Ya'll, I may not be able to blog through the "after the final rose" ceremony. I need to put on my p.j.s at some point.

Final date with Nick in some other tropical place 

They are going off-roading and Nick will be driving with the camera planted on the dashboard mirror to capture their jiggling and mudding. "Andi makes me feel alive." I have never said that in my life, about anything. I don't know what that means--like, normally, he's dead inside? A black hole of despair?

They bring coconut milk and papayas to a remote part of the island with fake sand.  Nick says that he told her mom that he's loved Andi in ways he's never loved anyone before (insert weird sexual position here). Why does Nick suddenly feel like he's a phony and why am I questioning if he has hair plugs?

Later, they get to go to Nick's fantasy suite and do a big hit from a bong. Stop acting so bashful and tongue-tied, Nick. Andi seems to be re-evaluating him and not in a good way.  Nick may be about to screw it all up by talking so much about his previous relationships. Andi advises him to turn his brain off and just go with the flow, man. It can't be about to go too bad because piano music is playing softly in the background. Nick describes the most mundane life that they could share forever until someone has an affair. He gives her a necklace instead of a baseball card so that should tell her something.

Final Rose Ceremony

We all gasp as Andi shows up at Nick's bungalow ahead of the final marriage proposal. My guess is that she's going to go ahead and send him home prematurely and probably Josh too, so that they can avoid being embarrassed at the final rose ceremony. It really can't be anything else.

Blah, blah, blah as we are back in the studio, live, and the other cast members try to determine why Andi showed up at Nick's door. No one really wants to weigh in about what it all means, though clearly, it's not good news.

Back to the show. Nick is near panic and trying to suck air into his body like how a dying fish does when it's stranded on dry land.

Andi uses Nick's own words to break up with him, reminding him how he described that he didn't feel right the last time he got engaged. I think he might hit her. She says that the things she sees with him isn't ultimately what she thinks is best for the two of them. I cannot believe that she would be choosing the other guy who is a total airhead dude. Andi is worried that Nick is over-thinking it all and she feels that he thinks too much and that's not what she's looking for in a partner. She wants someone who won't think at all, and that's why she's picking Josh. And cuz he's more fun!!!

She's doing that thing again where she cries to get out of facing conflict. He wants to know if it's more about the two of them or more about the fact that she's in love with a dumb jock. I don't like her anymore. I will only like her if she also dumps Josh. She cannot end up with Josh, that is just ridiculous. The sweat factor alone should be a deal killer.

I hope he doesn't cry, please don't cry in the minivan in your checked Old MacDonald shirt. Dan says, Now at least he can go out to the bar and have sex with whoever he wants. Or maybe he will be the next bachelor? I don't know if he has the right charisma for this. Dan does not approve of the sappy music. Just so you know, he keeps up a running commentary throughout the show.

Josh shows up and gives Chris a chest bump. He wears a dapper handkerchief in his suit. Well, of course she will say yes, because there is no one left. I guess they are perfect for each other if she is as shallow as she now appears. She is wearing the final in a series of togas, the most specialist toga in the world, one with silver beads around the neck. "When I saw you in front of that mansion, you took my breath away." Ramble, ramble, "Andi, you are the answer to all of my prayers, you are a woman that I never thought existed in this world. That smile makes me feel like I can do anything in the world." 17 cliches in a row, this must be a world record. Who wrote this shit? It is shit. Is this script written by V.C. Andrew? Can she really marry her own brother?  Does he have a wad of chaw in his mouth right at this moment? She now rambles on with fewer cliches but no actual substance either. Andi says that she is madly in love with him and she wants to have his babies so bad. Dan says that they should be the King and Queen of the White United States. Loud kisses. This is the old bait and switch, people. They have a battle of I love you's and his face gets redder and redder. I think she picked him because he's the closest in physical proximity to her life in wherever she is from. Macon?

I do not think I can put myself through this ever, ever, ever again.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Men Tell All or 25 Recaps and 1 (Unmentioned) Funeral

The worst episode in the series--this time waster of a two hour fest where they bring back all of the dudes to recap what's happened so far, in case you haven't watched any of the program or in case you give a shit.

Oh, here's a twist, this old pregnant Bachelorette. Ashley, takes an ultrasound on "live" TV and they will be finding out the gender of their baby at the same time as us.  What if the doctor is like, Oh, it's a kitten, or oh, it's not moving...This is beyond stupid. This is beyond exploitative. Cue women in the audience being told to open their mouths wide as if in amazement. Never mind anyone in the audience who might have lost a pregnancy or two or five. It's a boy! He will be the next bachelor in just twenty short years. They are going to name it Harrison, after Chris Harrison. God, I hope they're joking. I can't wait to see the live after-birth on the next episode, otherwise known as Cody.

Right, so the other part of the recap is the premiere of my next ten weeks of not writing a novel, Bachelor in Paradise. This is where they bring back the most annoying contestants from previous seasons and force them to live together and make out in hurricane type weather in the surf and fight with each other for all of the right TV-rating reasons. The one-armed girl returns to be humiliated further as all of the guys pretend not to notice that she has just this one full arm. They will bring back new arrivals each week. Only one black guy is participating and only one ambulance so far. Someone gets arrested and fifteen people get the human papilloma virs (HPV) on or around the anus.

Chris welcomes back all of the guys, including the pantsprenuer, all wearing man scarves at an attempt to seem humorous. Chris asks Chris what he liked most about Andi, and he says that she's beautiful and has a lot going for her. Illuminating. He then asks the black guy, Marquel, what it felt like to roll up as one of the few only black men, knowing he would never get picked? Of course he didn't ask that! Recap of basketball game, the opera singer embarrassing himself, men taking their shirts off and stripping, Craig getting blotto, a big-eared guy wearing a huge bow tie, and repeating the phrase right reasons, right reasons, right reasons. Chris really does ask Marquel now about receiving one of the roses as a black guy and Marquel says he prayed about it. Oh, God, the one white guy got the name of the other black guy wrong, he called him Ron, instead or Marquel. Major faux pas. Fighting ensues as the boys attack the big-eared guy who told the secret and wonder why he didn't tell everyone sooner. This goes on and on.  I guess I should be happy because I've been accusing the show of pretending to care about racism while never yet having one person of color as the Bachelor or Bachelorette in twenty or so seasons. And so now they have given five minutes to the issue, and we should all be placated by that.

Marquel is in the hot seat. Let us not forget that Andi picked CODY over him. Cody is the worst, the worst. Marquel explains the rejection as being the result of not ever being able to get out of the friend zone. I will explain it as the show not feeling comfortable showing a black man kissing a white woman. Producers, you're so open and this is so not scripted, so how about putting a black or Asian or Hispanic person as the main protagonist in the next season? Marquel brings black and white cookies and hands them out to the screaming fans.

Confession: I just ate like a whole tub of Kozy Shack pudding.

Marcus is now in the hot seat. He has not shaved for this episode either. He must have watched a lot of Northern Exposure right before going on the show. They go over his premature love confession and his numerous tears. He sits watching himself and possibly is contemplating getting his ear pierced. Chris asks if he regrets saying he loves her after two dates, and I wasn't really listening to his answer--oh, yes, he really was in love. Dan says, "If you love someone, say something." Not to the person, but to a policeman.

Recap of Chris' love affair with Andi. I am guessing that this might be the part where they announce that he will be the next bachelor contestant, right? He is not sure what he wants to do with his life. A random woman yells out to him. She is wearing a short short pantsuit. She is mildly attractive, except for having a ton of make-up on her face. She is from Canada. Chris suggests that he have a speed date with the other Chris and hang out together for thirty five seconds while they advertise more ABC shows. Why does the show pretend to be spontaneous when it so clearly is not? Does anyone believe this?

Andi comes to the stage wearing sparkles and a dress that is ridiculous short. Is she appearing in the Ice Capades immediately after this? Chris asks her what changed after the home town date. Andi says she had the most fun at Chris' house, but she didn't see the foundation. The truth is that she loves Nick and doesn't want to be with anyone else. She didn't want to go with Chris to the fantasy suite and have to sleep with him while imagining Nick. Marcus, who does not wear socks, wants to know if he scared Andi away but saying he loved her too soon. Cody says that she never did see the real Cody (referring to himself in the third person) and he wished that she had. We do see that he is wearing a denim shirt and possibly eye liner. He looks like David Bowie right now, but I'm sure he has no idea that he's coming across that way.

They will have to pretend to be serious soon to talk about the guy who died, right?

Chris wants Andi to take an ultrasound because the rumor is that she's pregnant. Did Chris just say, Somebody shot a load back in Georgia? She would have no idea who the dad is. She tore up some lie detector results which Chris still has, but I don't know what this is all about. I must have been in the Outer Banks when this aired. The men on this date, Bryan, Marcus, Chris, JJ, Dylan and Josh who is not here (the one who died?), three of the men were completely truthful, Brian, Chris and JJ. Marcus, Dylan and Josh lied. About what? Marcus said that he has slept with fewer than 20 women and that is a lie. He hasn't slept with any. Dylan said he preferred brunettes and that was a lie. Does Andi want to know what he lied about? Yes, of course you want to know. Dan says, This reminds me of a party I went to in the eight grade.

Blooper reel. I will not recap. That's enough, ya'll. Next week,  stay tuned for the most dramatic rose ceremoy every. Dan just said, Who will win Andi?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fantasy Suites and the Color Wheel

Nick's outfit is a mixture of the above. 
First fantasy suite card: Nick, the Bad Poet

I missed the first half hour of the show due to extenuating circumstances. Here's what I can tell in a flash: they drink a lot of wine. They fly in a lot of helicopters. They touch their own hair a lot and bite their (own) lips. Nick says he has "a sense of wonder," which makes me want to vomit. He is reminding me more and more of Fred Savage. They obviously don't know each other at all because she's asking him stuff like what his most embarrassing moment is. He wears sixteen different kinds of pastels to illustrate that he has a sensitive side. They kiss loudly around a bunch of palm trees. He tells her that he loves a lot of things about her, including just, like, her. They go into the fantasy suite so he can say more things that sound half literary and half like he's never dated a girl before in his life.

Second fantasy suite card: Josh, Who Couldn't Care Less

Josh wears a blue checked, short-sleeved picnic tablecloth of a shirt unbuttoned to the middle of his chest. Where are they? Seville? Miami? He speaks Italian/Spanish. A local hands him an aphrodisiac drink, which he tosses back without a second thought. A lame golden dog looks on as Andi and Josh dance awkwardly in the square, his tail tucked between his legs (the dog, not Josh). They watch the local boys play softball and he can't help but hone in on the game, eager to beat these seven year old amateurs. Then he buys a gigantic fruit with alcohol in it and two straws. He says, "You know, like, I do love you, I love you, like, kind of, you know? I know you can't say any of that back, you know, but I just wanted to let you know that I feel stuff with you and that's all that matters to me, I don't care how you feel, you know? It doesn't matter one bit."  The dog howls in the background.

Later, Josh, face sweating, confesses that he was literally afraid he would go home on the first night. Andi is dressed in a shapeless mauve toga. They loved seeing each other out there, they say. I don't know what they're talking about, on the softball field? Josh's sentences are long, repetitive ramblings with at least one cliched thought and four "you knows" thrown in. "I love helping out kids, you know? Kids are so great and like, I like to throw things at them, you know? It makes me feel good." He just said, "I love being happy, I love life, and life is great, and you are life and happy great." He's definitely drunk.  Stop talking in the middle of a kiss! Dan says from across the room, "Headline tomorrow reads, 'Former Baseball Player Rapes Bachelorette in the Fantasy Suite.'" They move the make out session to the candlelit pool.

Third Fantasy Suite Card: Cowpoke Chris

Cue cows mooing. Sure, this Southern belle could see herself in living in Iowa. No problem. Longhorns ramble down a dirt road  so that we are certain to recall that Chris is a farm hand. Andi shows up in yet another mumu and short shorts which are surely going to chafe if she rides a horse. NO, no one rides a horse in shorts. Come on. Andi tries not to panic when the horse begins to trot. I think she just got her period. She goes, "Where's the closest CVS?" (Dan told me to type that). They have the family recap and Andi agress that his family was okay. Dan likes Chris the best because even though he just said, "I loved when you hopped on my lap and went to town." Andi steps on a cow patty while searching for Chris in the underbrush. Later, she confesses to him that she doesn't feel it for him and would rather just tell him that and not blame it on Iowa. Chris listens and says he's glad she told him, and he respects her for that. She tells him that she feels like an idiot for not picking him. Her head and heart don't match up. Bummer, there will be no fantasy suite for the two of them. I'm glad she said something, but I wish she didn't cry while she did it, because then he has to comfort her. I also don't like it because I've done the same thing; it's a way to try to keep someone from being mad at you. He gives her a hug and I will bet you fifty dollars that he's the next Bachelor.  He tells the camera that he didn't see it coming. He is model gorgeous. I think it's because she knows that she loves Nick.

Boring Recap with the Host

Another  mumu in a series. Nick makes her feel very intense and passionate and Josh is goofy and giddy and possibly stupid. She keeps making that duck lip face whenever she pauses. I don't understand why she can't propose to them herself and why she still only gets to hand out a rose and they have to propose? And while we're at it, why not just go with Chris the farmer into the fantasy suite and see how it goes? I mean, have the extra ten hours of off camera time with him and see how you feel after that. You don't have to fool around, especially if you just got your period on a rented quarter horse.

Unnecessary Rose Ceremony

Nick shows up in a pastel checked shirt and then Josh shows up in a lovely blue blouse. He walks like he's carrying a walnut between his muscular legs. They wonder why Chris the farmer hasn't shown up. They give each other "What the---" looks. ANDI!!Change the mumu. Maybe she's already pregnant. Andi gives them the option to not accept the rose because "it's a two way street." She has used that phrase a couple of times already. Nick accepts the rose. Josh does too. Four minutes left. They will now both be going to meet her family, ya'll.

Next week is the dude recap. We know that she will end up with Nick.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Home Town Dates, Ya'll

She has whittled her picks down to four lucky bastards all of whom have made gestures toward confessing their love for her (ranging from giving her knucks to saying, I think I, like, have more than the hots for you).. The only catch? They have to introduce her to their parents. This will also be the episode where she discovers that Eric died  and so we are unable to make jokes about it.

First hometown: Milwaukee with front runner, Nick

Nick takes Andi on the worst date ever, forcing her to polka dance to an accordion player. Nick comes from a large family, and they all where scarves and cry when they get introduced to her. I missed the part where we figure out how many brothers, sisters and uncles he has.Nick wants his sister's advice. His sister is a ginger. Or wait, is this his ex-girlfriend? She wears a dress that's as big as a cocktail napkin and a scarf. I bet if Andi were cast in  a remake of Happy Days, she would definitely be cast as Pinky Tuscadero. She has a certain way of curling her upper lip like a toughie.

Andi tries to explain the difference between a sexual connection and an intellectual connection with Nick's eight year old sister.  Not a great conversation, but it's okay, because the little sister forgets all of it right away.

Nick's mom has very short blond hair and wears a pearl choker necklace. She might be a vampire. Nick and his mom both cry because they are so happy.

Second hometown: Arlinton, Iowa with Chris, the fake farmer

I mean, I get that he really was born in Iowa, but I do not doubt that he has always dreamed of being an
actor/model/mannequin. Lots of corn fields and barns and John Deere tractors. Chris lives in a huge house, likely something that belongs to his parents. I mean, no 28 year old guy owns his own farm without years and years of family help and money. Chris lets Andi sit on his lap while she drives and we pretend it doesn't appear as though they're doing it doggy style while also plowing corn (sorry, Emily. Ask your mom).  Andi asks Chris what she would do for work and he jokes around that she could be a home maker. He says, I am being sarcastic and suggests that she be a district attorney in Cedar Rapids. Good for you, Chris! A helicopter flies by that reads "Chris loves Andi" and he actually spelled her name correctly. They make out in the middle of the field,  He outs himself as her secret admirer, which I guess means that he wrote that letter.

Chris mom makes a drunken toast. Shortly thereafter, someone else makes a fart joke, for the first time ever in Bachelorette history. His sister has a seriously modern haircut. They all three do, and they are all beautiful and seem to totally love their little brother. Except for the fart joke, that have a lot of nice things to say about him. Chris has a heart to heart with his mom by the fire pit. He doesn't tell her that her bra strap is showing.  I see a cat head in the background, so I"m not paying attention to what they're saying.

The family forces her to play Ghost in the Graveyard. Andi finds him and they kiss again behind a giant barrel, before getting caught by the entire family. He should be the next  Bachelor. She won't ultimately pick him, but he is a sweetheart.

Third hometown: Tampa with pro ball player, Josh

He's the one I like the very least, especially now that I learn he's from Florida. He says that he is pumped to see Andi. I don't like it when guys wear gold bracelets, especially when they also have long words tattooed on the inside of their forearms, like he does. What does it spell? ANDI? I am confused as to whether or not he actually still plays baseball or not and if he doesn't, what it is that he does with his time. Is he retired at age 28?

Hugs all around as she meets his family and the other main woman in his life, a pink-collared bulldog. Josh's brother, Aaron, looks just like Josh only not as cute. Same for dad.  They immediately start talking about sports and Andi is lost. Startlingly, Josh's mother looks exactly like Andi except with a little more frosted eye shadow. "Creepy!"Dan proclaims. The dad wants to know if Andi would plan on going to football games if Aaron gets drafted and the two of them end up together. Andi says, "Uh..." Sister also looks just like Andi only a little rounder in the face. Josh endears himself to me by being a crier. All of these families are nice. Oh no, group sports. Sister Stephanie wears the worst pair of patchwork pants that I've every seen. Josh aggressively pushes everyone out of the away so that Andi can make a fake touchdown in the yard.

Fourth hometown: Dallas with Marcus, sports medicine manager

Marcus re-enacts his most successful date with Andi by stripping down to his underwear. That pretty much sums up where they are in their relationship--nowheresville. Marcus confesses his love for her while still not finding the wherewithal to shave his face.  He has never brought another girl home to meet the family, he says, because they were never special enough. His dad will not be there because they hate each other. They all squeeze together on the sofa and Marcus' niece makes her a plastic bracelet. His mom wears all black, just like Andi. Wait, is this his mom or his sister? She looks very young. And also beautiful. Andi's mom/sister asks her if she's bugged by Marcus falling in love so fast. Andi says yes, and she's  not sure if she can catch up. He will be sent home, no doubt. Him or the ball player. Marcus cries telling his brother that he appreciates him being a father figure. And then he gives him a rose.  Oh, wait, that younger looking one was his sister. Now comes mom, who is possibly from Bolivia or Paraguay. I am not a linguist. Heart to heart between mom and Marcus. Dozing off slightly. He wears mint green shorts. She thinks that life would Marcus would be a fairy tale, because he would adore her and give her the world. Which is why she will dump him.

Death of a real person who was a minor character on this show

All the men and Andi are brought back together to wear scarves and learn about the tragic death of Eric Hill that she could've prevented if only she had liked him more. Chris stretches it out like the longest rose ceremony ever...and finally...tells them all...that Eric passed away. Andi cries, Nick rubs his temples, and the other two guys bite their knuckles. Marcus goes outside and Andi follows. Marcus says how weird this is. Andi says they should all go inside, instead of pairing off and taking advantage of the situation. Someone drops the camera and the whole crew comes out to embrace one another. Please cut to a commercial soon. I don't mean to be a dick, but they knew him for all of three weeks. I guess maybe is the producers way of trying to show that they care and maybe to avoid a law suit?

Final Rose Ceremony

Andi wears a green ball gown. Chris asks Andi if she's worried about making a mistake this week, because damn, that person could die. We will all die. The make-up person is cringing because Andi keeps ruining her mascara. Chris urges Andi not to think it's her fault, because Eric chose to be on the show too. Andi can't go through with the rose ceremony because of the death, but like...Is it totally self-involved for her to take it this hard? Or is it just crass of the show to profit from this loss? Chris tells Andi to suck it up because they don't have all day.

First rose: Josh, bball something or other
Second rose: Chris, farmer
Third rose: Nick, mauve suit
Going home: Marcus, sorry. Maybe now you can shave. Cue violins. She walks him out and says, It's
hard. I mean, trust me, there's a part of me that knows that you will give me the world. I would be lucky to be with you. Cue his sobbing. She tells him that he did nothing wrong, but she just didn't feel it.  He will also not be the next bachelor, but he might get a lot more dates now and ride this small fame into a marriage with someone and then everything will be okay, right?

Next week, it's the fantasy suite dates where they all have the chance to sleep with one another and we get to see all of them in bikinis.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Church of Dead Girls with a cast of 500 characters

I had a hard time getting through this book, The Church of Dead Girls, by Stephen Dobyns. Not because I was disinterested or the writing was bad or the story wasn't compelling. It was because keeping the characters and their various relationships straight was exhausting. To be fair, the book is about the people of a small town who begin to mistrust each other, and so you can't have like four town members. At least the author didn't do that thing where he named the characters similarly--there wasn't a Todd and a Ted or an Alice and an Anne; everyone had a somewhat distinct identity and role, and yet...There was a reporter named Franklin, whom I kept confusing with the cop, Ryan. Franklin and Ryan. Are those names too similar sounding? It took me half the book to keep them straight. Add to this that they share a common bond of this dead woman named Janice, though I still can't be sure if Janice was Ryan's sister, or his ex-wife or Franklin's girlfriend or if they were just both involved with her at the same time. Ditto a younger girl named Sadie who was either Franklin or Ryan's daughter, and she had a crush on Aaron, who I know was the son of Janice, so there was some overlap there, and then throw in another woman named Paula, who was Ryan's girlfriend and also connected somehow to the other guy and maybe even slept with Aaron at one point? Don't forget about Harriet and Leo and Donald the pharmacist and the twins, a couple of super masculine bullies and various thugs, along with Barry the albino and his hysterical mother, Mrs. Barry's Mom and Dr. Malloy and this other detective and the Captain of the police force and a gay hairdresser named Jaime and a Marxist teacher, Mr. Chiani and Meg, Sharon, and this one other last minute girl who goes missing, and someone named Liebermachmanary (or whateves--I made that last name up, but all of these characters were instrumental in the plot).

If I'm the author, I would defend this large cast by saying, "Exactly! Small towns are incestuous and everyone knows everyone else, but do they really? Because any one of those people could be the serial killer."  But listen, I'm just telling you, half the fun of reading a mystery is being able to untangle who the bad guy might be, and that's difficult to do when most of your energy is consumed by needing to create an Excel spreadsheet to keep the characters in line.

Maybe another factor in the challenge of reading it was because the first person narrator was distant from the action. He wasn't a cop or a detective, but rather a high school teacher. It took me a couple of chapters to figure out his job or role in the town and then it was odd that he seemed omniscient. In the re-telling of the story, he recounted entire conversations and thoughts and descriptions of scenes where he wasn't present. You can also chalk this up to the writer's understanding that the reader comes to a novel with a willing suspension of disbelief, but maybe it would've been nice to have some kind of gesture toward explaining how he was able to get these details so precisely, like possibly if he were a reporter for the newspaper.

And then there's this other thing that I don't love--when writers take on a marginalized identity to narrate the story. Like, when a 50 year old white guy writes in the voice of a 22 year old or takes on the persona of a Native American. In this case, the narrator is a gay man who talks about prejudice and how the police are targeting other gay men in the town. But then, the killer turns out to be a perverted man who is not comfortable with his sexuality and has had sex with the male albino in town. So, like, if you're writing a story and pointing out that society is prejudiced against homosexuality, perhaps don't then have the madman turn out to be a guy who cuts off the hands of girls because they're dirty and who is desperately ashamed of his own desires.  Lest you think I'm making assumptions about the writer, I'd just like to point out that the back cover of the book jacket reads something like, "Stephen lives in Syracuse with his WIFE and TWO CHILDREN." In other words,  HE HIMSELF IS NOT GAY, in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What are the right reasons, anyway?

I missed a week because we were on vacation in the Outer Banks, and so I don't know who got kicked off, who threw a punch, and who turned out to be there for the wrong or right reasons. My main question is, Has Andi blown her nose yet? And why do the guys hate Nick so much?

We start in Brussels with accordions, which I guess is a Belgium type of instrument.  All of them are wearing women's scarves, because that's another thing they do in Brussels that is so cosmopolitan. I can't really tell who is gone, because all of the guys left look exactly the same. Oh, wait, it looks like she finally sent Kewpie back to the gym. That is honestly the only guy I recall as missing. Everyone else in the show has the same moussed hair style, bluish brown eyes, clear skin and orthodontia straight teeth. And no chest hair, as far as I can tell. They've all been shaved down for Andi.

First One on One Date with Marcus

Merci, merci. Marcus tells Andi that he's been writing in his Hello Kitty diary about her. It appears that last week, Marcus was going to leave because he loves her so much and it scared him. Then he realized he wouldn't get any more air time, and he changed his mind about leaving. Oh, and also because he's in love with her. They are having dinner at the Academy Palace. Seventeen  chandeliers blaze and their table is crowded with wine and water glasses and candles. As much as Marcus loves Andi, he hasn't managed to shave. Marcus tells a sad story about how his dad abandoned him and Andi breezes over that and asks him what kind of questions her mom might pose to her. Marcus then confesses that his mom beat them up when they were little. Oh, my God, wait until his mother sees the show. He is damaged. Does this make him more or less attractive to her? If she's healthy, she will see him as less attractive. If she's like me, she will decide they should move in together immediately. Every time he tells her that he loves her, she goes, Aw!! as if he's just showed her a picture of a puppy or kittens driving a doggie drawn carriage (see below).

Aside: Dear State Farm Insurance Commercial Makers,

Whenever I hear your commercial about singing the good neighbor song and having a genie appear, I almost break my arm hurrying for the mute button on the remote. STOP playing this ad.

Nick does not want to hear about the other guys one on one dates. He does that thing where he goes to her room because he decides that you don't get what you want without asking for it. The hotel concierge will lose her job shortly after this show airs, as she gives the room key to Nick without him having to provide any ID.  I don't get what's so crazy about Nick going to ask Andi to talk a walk. Why are they so Puritanical on this show in this way but then they have the fantasy suite card where they get to spend all night together? Andi and Nick make out against a lamp post and Andi finds it so so hot, she says. Maybe something is wrong with me, but I like this guy. They are making him out to be a bad guy though and so that means that he's likely going to be kicked off.

Second One on One Date with the Jock

Andi wants Josh to break out of his shell and tell her what he's feeling. Since he's obviously feeling nothing, this might prove to be a challenge.

Let's pause for a second and consider how crazy it is that we are supposed to kind of believe that ten guys have fallen in love with the same girl. Because that's the premise that the show posits. Am I resistant to this idea because...well, because it's usually completely the other way--women fall in love and men choose them or don't choose them? Does The Bachelor set up somehow feel more natural or believable, because women are supposed to be more emotional and prone to crushes and falling immediately in love and men seem less likely to do so? Women are supposed to want to settle down and men to constantly pursue while also trying to avoid being caught by any one woman.  Whatever the reason, I don't buy it. I don't buy that all of these guys think they are falling for her and want to marry her.

And I definitely don't believe that Josh is falling in love with her.
They have strategically placed glitter under her eyeball to make her that much more alluring. Josh says he's falling in love with her, but this is how he says it, "Like, I don't throw the word 'I love you' around lightly, you know, man? I only sorta say that kind of thing to the woman or women I might want to marry." They make out in the middle of a fake fog storm in an alleyway and I wonder if he will just snap her neck. That would be the most surprising moment ever.

Group Date 

I missed some things because I was brushing my teeth. Dan said all that happened was that she and some guy with a down-turned mouth re-enacted a scene from Ghost where they use all four of their hands to make an erection out of clay.

The date is outside of a castle and that guy who looks like someone from Mad TV is very upset at how fake and strategic Nick is being. So instead of being genuine, he tells Andi that he's "100 percent in love" with her and he can't wait to see his mom's face. Nick's over confidence does make him seem like kind of a jerk. Or is that what they want us to think? I don't recall any season of either B or B-ette where the guy who is made out to be a douche actually ends up staying.

Andi makes a speech in front of the guys and asks Nick if he will accept the rose, which makes all the other guys clench their jaws and Nick has to sit on his hands to keep from doing a fist pump in the air.

As a final humiliation, the three rejected guys have to squish into the back of a minivan together after putting their seat belts on first.

Cue fireworks.

When Nick gets back to the house, all of the guys give him the evil eye, especially the ball player who coughs as if he's giving a signal calling for a fast ball. You can see that he wants to beat the crap out of him. The guys look like jerks. They are saying that he's not there for the right reasons. I think it's more that they're pissed that she clearly likes him the best. I just want this episode to be over.

Cocktail Party and Final Rose Ceremony 

I am confident that the guy with the too-long hair and mullet will be going home. Probably also that too-cute farmer.

Andi arrives wearing a high-cut ball gown with giant mirrors on it so that the guys can check their teeth. The dress ages her by ten years. Chris finally gets some alone time with Andi and I notice that his head is super square. Chris also says that he's falling in love with her. She stares back at him coolly, blinking her false eyelashes. He sounds desperate and he is sweaty. I mean, sweaty and adorable. Nick paces and says he's relieved to say good bye to the guys. Here is where he blows it completely and she takes the rose back. Is he psychotic? Like, will he turn out to be obsessive? He starts crying talking about it.

Why don't they just get into a fist fight already? These guys are so competitive. It's embarrassing, but Chris took her outside to make out with her awkwardly. She says to the camera, You go farmer! He is doomed.

"There are six great guys in front of me right now, and I would be lucky to be with of ya'll," she says. Just ask them to drop trou right now and go forward based on that information.

First rose: Josh, will you autograph this baseball? Absolutely.
Second rose: Marcus, damaged goods.
Final rose: Chris, the farmer.
Going home: The mullet and the broad-shouldered one, Brian and Dylan. I don't really know which one is which. He holds his head back too far all the time. She says good bye and rubs their backs as if burping them.

Hey, Andi, stop saying ya'll.

Next week: Home town dates in Milwaukee, somewhere in Iowa, and a couple of other places.