Tuesday, January 31, 2012

There’s Crying in Baseball: The Bachelor recap

Baseball's Been Very Very Bad to Them

Today's recap features very special co-blogger, Courtney!!!

“BE NICE!” – Ironic tee-shirt sported by Courtney
(At least, I think the tee-shirt is ironic. The words are written in a somewhat menacing, goth font—you’d expect such a font to spell out a sentiment like “I DRINK BLOOD”—so I’m guessing/hoping she’s wearing it as an inside joke.)

So yeah, the girls are in Puerto Rico now. Too bad it’s so ugly there. (Heh.)

Nicki gets picked for the first date and I think we all learned a very valuable lesson from her: Neon puce nail polish is not a good look. On anyone. Ever.

So they take a helicopter—God damn Mike Fleiss loves him some helicopters— and then go for a walk around a Puerto Rican market and things are going just swimmingly—Ben is rolling his r’s like a champ—until Nicki makes a rookie mistake:
 “This date is going so well, what could possibly go wrong?” she enthuses.
Aaaaand. . .cue another torrential downpour.  (When will these girls learn?)
It’s not the cute rain either. It’s the gross, clothing sticking to you, water sloshing around in your shoes kinda rain.
But they make the best of it and kick off their shoes and run and frolic and kiss and Ben is very impressed with how easygoing Nicki is. (Yes Ben, because you should definitely make assumptions about Nicki’s easygoing nature based on how she acts in front of a camera crew and millions of people while on a reality TV competition.)
So they duck into a clothing store and decide to buy new “authentic” clothing. Somehow, this ends up with Ben dressed like a Cuban pimp and Nicki looking . . . exactly the same as she did before.
“Ben is mooey, mooey caliente!” Nicki says, and actual living Puerto Ricans are rolling in their graves.

The most interesting thing about Nicki—okay, the only interesting thing about Nicki—is the fact her divorce is, like, the shame of her life. The show really plays it up, too—ignoring the fact that roughly half of all marriages end in divorce and acting as if Nicki is some sort of social deviant. Then they really rub it in, parading Ben and Nicki in front of an elaborate wedding ceremony that they “just happen” to stumble across. Uh-huh.
Nicki is so distracted by the spectacle of a woman wearing the white gown she can no longer in good faith ever wear again, she can barely concentrate on Ben—but eventually they leave, go to dinner, and she gets a rose. (Who doesn’t get a rose? If Ben  had a date with JoJo the Dog Faced Girl, she'd get a rose, too.)

“Blakely is like a champion out there. Who knew that strippers could play baseball?” – Courtney.

Now time for the group date.
Blakely was really, really, really hoping she’d get the final solo date with Ben but that honor goes to—hold please while I look up her name—Elyse.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” the group date card reads.
But it’s not those kinds of diamonds, silly—it’s the baseball kind.

The bachelorettes convene upon Roberto Clemente stadium where they’ll play a game of baseball with Ben as the pitcher.
All the girls change into their cute little baseball get-ups and are obviously told to put on eye black, because some producer thinks it’s sexy, but they don’t seem to truly understand the point of eye black and Casey uses it to accentuate her cheekbones and I think another girl may put it on her lips.
As for Ben, he’s wearing a super baggy retro uniform that even he can’t pull off.
So what’s at stake?
First prize is a Cadillac Eldorado (in this case, a beach date party with Ben)
Second prize is, you’re fired (in this case, sent home on a bus.)
(And if you know what film I just referenced, you and I can hang.)

Lindzzzi gets the honor of being the designated floater, so no matter what happens, she gets to go on the beach party date. Unfairsies!

And let me tell you, shit gets competitive. I mean, diving for ground balls, talking trash, blood sweat and tears (especially tears) competitive. It is awesome. It seems like the team with Blakely and Emily is a lock to win, because Blakely is a super jock (thus inspiring the fabulous Courtney quote above) and Emily is literally doing handsprings all over the field, but somehow—fueled by the sheer force of Courtney's toxic personality— the red team pulls it off.

In the dugout, Blakely pulls a Kobe and accuses her teammates of not wanting it as badly as she did.
Suddenly a helicopter touches down.
“If that damn helicopter lands on this field and picks those girls up, I swear to God. . .” she says.
Really, Blakely? It’s The Bachelor. Was there ever any doubt?

So Ben hops aboard the helicopter with Courtney, Kacie and the rest, while Blakely, Emily, Jennifer and co. have to go home on a rickety school bus. The tableaux in the school bus is truly hilarious as they all sit in separate seats, rocking back and forth in the fetal position, weeping. (Crying on a school bus? Yeah, I called that junior high school, by the way.)

Courtney, as always, is a model of compassion and tact: “I don’t want to see any tears out of them. They had their shot at the title and they blew it.”

At the beach party, Ben feels guilty about the crying busload of girls, but happy to have a more reasonable number of women to choose from. He has a one-on-one with Kacie, and—yippee!—she gets the rose. (I’m not sure if it’s because she had the first-ever solo date with Ben, but I find myself rooting for her.)

Anyway, Courtney will have none of this—so she basically pulls Ben aside and says, “You know what would be awesome later? If you and I had sex.”
Okay, she didn’t put it quite that bluntly, but it is strongly implied. Instead, she talks about how much she loves skinny dipping—and how great it would be to steal a private moment with Ben and go skinny dipping with him.
Once Ben rolls his tongue back into his mouth, he whole-heartedly agrees.

“These girls have no idea what I’m capable of,” Courtney says, ominously (and awesomely).

Maybe she drank too much and the Jersey Shore came out,” Courtney on Elyse

Time for Elyse’s one-on-one date with Ben.
Poor Elyse thinks this is her time to shine, when basically the show just wanted one dramatic moment where Ben finally doesn’t give someone a rose.

Courtney, needless to say, sees right through it: “It does occur to me, I might not be seeing her later,” she says.

Ben and Elyse go on a yacht and poor, doomed Elyse is blathering on about how “it doesn’t get any better than this” and “I think he could be the guy I eventually marry”—and the thought bubble over Ben’s head is basically “Courtney. Water. Naked. Want.”

At their private dinner he does a cruel Bachelor fakeout, brandishing the rose in front of her. I can hardly stand to think about the smile that materialized on her face—so full of hope, optimism, and innocence—it’s like a horror film being played out in slow motion.

“Unfortunately, I was hoping for some things today that I just didn’t find,” Ben says.

It actually takes a few seconds for this news to process. The smile is slow to fade. But finally she gets it. She’s the one-percenter—the girl who doesn’t get Ben’s rose.

So she’s sent packing. (For a brief horrifying moment it looks like she’s going to have to swim ashore, but fear not. There’s a boat—indeed, a far more distinguished boat than the little dinghy Ben was forced to paddle away on after Ashley rejected him.)

Then little sensitive Ben is seen traipsing along sadly on the beach, in his tux, with the pant legs rolled up, almost in tears—and he “spontaneously” (no producer manipulation there—no siree) drops the rose into the ocean, where it washes forlornly away.

He's obviously very very sad about. . .whatever her name was.

 “Now, I’ve got something planned for him.”- Courtney

When Ben gets back to the hotel, he has this awesome dream where Courtney is sitting on the stairwell waiting for him with a bottle of wine. Except it isn’t a dream—it’s real, you guys!

“She broke the rules,” Ben says nervously. “I don’t know how I feel about that.”

That’s Big Ben talking. Little Ben knows exactly how he feels about it, if you know what I mean.

So she “twists his arm” and he agrees to go skinny dipping with her on the beach.

Now, I don’t want to boast, but if you caught the series sneak preview that played a couple of months ago on EW.com, you would’ve seen Ben’s actual Bachelor Butt, not this pixilated bullshit that ABC has given us.
I’m sure it’ll come as no surprise to you that Ben’s Bachelor Butt is as cute as the rest of him. As for Ben’s Bachelor Boner? Only Courtney knows for sure.

Puerto Rico, with Ben under the moonlight.”- Courtney, describing her “hypothetical” favorite way to go skinny dipping to the girls.

Ben skulks into the cocktail party feeling a little guilty.

“Courtney and I shared a very intimate moment,” he says. "And right now I feel kinda crappy about what happened. There are other women here that I still need to explore relationships with.” (And by "explore relationships with" he means, get naked with.)

As for Courtney, she’s as cool as the other side of the pillow.

“It’s fun watching him interact with the other girls,” she says languorously. “Because they’re not having the same connection we had.”

As for Blakely, she makes a risky—and let’s face it, desperate—move that actually works.
She pulls Ben aside and bares her soul to him. She spews all sorts of flattering bullshit about how she writes down one great thing about Ben every day (Monday: He’s a boy. Tuesday: He’s a dude. Wednesday: He’s a guy) and how just being around someone as awesome as Ben makes her feel like she deserves love (wha?) and he buys it—or maybe he’s too busy looking at her breasts to hear what she actually said (but it sure seemed like soul-baring).

Meanwhile, Courtney is curled up on the couch with the other girls, toying with them once again like a cat with a mouse.
She’s having the “hypothetical” discussion of skinny dipping—relishing the knowledge that she and Ben got naked and wet together last night.

Now Emily has her one on one moment with Ben and she uses it to quickly apologize for her behavior at the last cocktail party.
And I think, “Atta girl, Em. Way to see the big picture.”
But damned if the girl just can’t help herself. “I still think Courtney is a weirdo,” she adds quickly—and the next thing you know, she’s talking about Courtney playing Ben for the fool and being here for the wrong reasons and how blind Ben is and yada, yada, yada.

This time Ben is less charitable. Some combination of skinny dipping with Courtney and throwing Elyse under the bus (or off the yacht, in this case) has empowered him.
“You have no idea what goes on in the moments I spend with each woman,” he warns her. (Ben's internal monologue: Skinnydippingskinnydippingskinnydipping.) “It’s wrong for you to assume. What I encourage you to do is tread lightly. Be careful.”

Wow. Bachelor Ben was just a . . .jerk? Didn’t see that coming.
Emily, of course is mortified. One day, when she looks back on this Bachelor experience, she’s going to be so glad that she made it all about Courtney.

“I think I screwed up. . .again,” she sighs. (Oh no, Em. That went great!)

And, she’s gone,”‑Courtney, wishing on a candle and using some sort of voodoo sorceress Wikka magic to exorcise Emily from the house.

Rose ceremony time.
Kacie and Nicki already have roses, if you haven’t been keeping score at home.

Here’s the order Ben calls 'em:
1. Lindzzzi
2. Jamie
3. Rachel
4. Courtney
5. Casey S. (for realz?)
6. Blakely

Now there’s one rose and two girls—Emily, who just screwed up royally and girl next door Jennifer, who is supposedly the best kisser in the house.
It’s gotta be Emily who’s going home, right? Right?

But no, in a surprise move, Ben calls “Emily.”
I demand an explanation! Don’t you guys?
I mean, it was obvious she was more into him than he was into her, but I at least had her pegged for sticking around longer than Casey, Blakely, and Jamie. (On a brighter note, I'm slightly relieved that Courtney doesn't actually wield the power of black magic.)

Poor Jennifer. She ugly cries, needless to say. But it’s worse than that. She does this sort of hiccup, snort combination—a sniccup—as she cries and it’s really very unfortunate.
Poor kid. Our final image of her is a sniccup.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Look at Your Life, Look at Your (Healthy) Choices: The Top Chef Texas recap

This is my sad face

It’s so nice that now that Bev has left the show all the rest of the cheftestants sit around singing her praises and talking about how much she’ll be missed and reflecting on her pluck and her indomitable spirit and reminiscing about all the good times they shared with her.

Or, uh, not.

Luckily, we are saved from the bitchfest by some bonus Charlize Theron who does that falsely humble thing that celebrities do when they encounter the little people: “You’re all my idols,” she says.
(Yeah, I’m so sure that Charlize Theron has a picture of Chris Jones hanging up on her wall at home.)

So Charlize is gone and our Top Chef world is just a little sadder and drabber and shorter because of it.
But no time to cry over lost glamazons, it’s time for the Quickfire Challenge.

Padma is standing in the kitchen with Emeril and Cat Cora, which would also be a great name for a villainess in a Bond film, by the way.
She—Padma, that is—puts the cheftestants into 3 teams: Grayson and Chris Jones, Paul and Edward, and Sarah and Lindsay. Those teams are not arbitrary, by the way. Padma—and by extension the show—has selected these teams. I mention this because it will come into play later.

Paul, for what it’s worth, feels “sick” that he’s partnered with his pal Edward. Every time they are paired together, Paul screws things up. (Self, meet fulfilling prophecy.)

This is a variation on the classic mise en place challenge (and by classic, I mean a Top Chef classic; as far as I know the mise en place challenge is not sweeping family game rooms across the country.)

The teams have to peel and de-vein butterfly shrimp, make a pound of pasta, and shuck a whole mess of corn.
Then they have to make a dish using those ingredients.

Hall monitors Lindsay and Sarah naturally finish first.
Then Paul and Edward.
Then sweaty, freaked out Chris and Grayson bring up the rear.

No sooner has Padma yelled “time!” that Paul realizes he forgot to add the shrimp.
It’s not like he and Edward were running around like maniacs. Quite the contrary, they were taking the time to decorate their plate with ornamental herbs.

“I forgot the shrimp,” Paul says, in such a resigned, fatalistic way that I begin to wonder if he’s actually part Jewish. (Yes, I’m allowed to make that joke.)

So the judges taste and they do that same thing they did to poor Beverly last week: Suggest that Paul and Edward would’ve won if only their shrimp dish had shrimp.
“But nice ornamental herbs!” says Padma. (Not really.)

Instead, the winners are  … Grayson and Chris!
Lindsay and Sarah respond in classic Lindsay and Sarah fashion.
 “Our dish was better,” sniffs Sarah. “It’s just that Cat Cora doesn’t like tarragon.”

Time for the Elimination Challenge, where they’ll be cooking head-to-head against their partner.
Now, I imagine the show did this to pit friend against friend, figuring it would ramp up the drama.
But here’s why it backfires: Everyone is so sickeningly supportive and nice to each other, the whole challenge becomes a ginormous snoozefest.
(It doesn’t help that it’s a lame challenge to begin with—create a healthy dish for a block party to benefit the San Antonio food bank—that seems more intended to placate a show sponsor—Healthy Choice—than generate some actual culinary fireworks.) (Just sayin’)

Now, if they really wanted excitement, they should’ve pitted crazed perfectionists Lindsay and Edward against each other and pitted Paul’s quiet intensity against Sarah’s loud intensity. (By default, Chris Jones and Grayson would’ve stayed partners, but let’s face it, they’re kinda filler at this point anyway.)

To Whole Foods they go, where Grayson has the entire staff doing her bidding: One employee is trailing behind her with a giant cart of watermelon and the guys at the butcher counter are running around like madmen to fill her order on time. Whole Food is basically Grayson’s bitch.

Also, there’s lots of backseat cart driving going on:
Chris thinks Grayson is screwing up by using mayonnaise (he’s using emulsified tofu. . .yum! yum!).
Paul wonders about Edward’s use of actual shortrib (he’s using turkey).
And Sarah thinks that Lindsay’s veal and lamb meatball isn’t exactly the “Healthy Choice.” (See what I did there?) (Ugh.)

They have two and a half hours to cook and then the floodgates open.
For some reason, Chris’s station is being attacked by marauding gangs of yellow jackets, which is bad times, especially since  he’s allergic. (True story, I got stung by two yellow jackets on the bottom of my foot last summer and I literally crumpled to the ground in pain. Crumpled.)

“What’s the less healthy version of your dish?” someone asks Paul.
“It’s over there,” Paul says, jerking his finger toward Edward’s station. Heh.

Actually, the worst part of Edward’s dish is that he made homemade buns for his “open faced” sandwiches, but they are self-serve. He’s expecting each guest to dutifully take one bun.
But I think Edward has been in Texas long enough to know that “moderation” and “restraint” are not exactly in the state vocabulary.
Everyone is taking two buns and one little whippersnapper actually grabs three.
So poor Edward has to be, like, the bun-catcher, grabbing stray buns off people’s plates. It’s awkward.

Does everyone remember Ryan Scott from Season 4? No, me neither.
But he is now a “Flavor Ambassador” for Healthy Choice, so good for him. I actually minored in “flavor ambassadoring” in college, so it’s nice to see someone making a career out of it.

Dana Cowan of Food and Wine magazine is helping with the judging, along with Emeril, Tom, Padma, and Pussy Galore (I mean, uh, Cat Cora.)

This is another one of those challenges where the guests actually vote for their favorite dish, which seems a bit unfair, considering that the more fatty and flavorful dishes would naturally have an edge, even though the challenge specifically called for healthier preparations.

Despite Padma insisting that “two of the healthiest dishes were the two best we ate”—it doesn’t quite play out that way.

The fans vote Paul, Grayson, and Lindsay into the Top 3. Of the three of them, Paul was the only one who went with a lot less fat than his counterpart (Grayson used mayonnaise—olive-oil-based, but still—and Lindsay, as you recall, used veal and lamb, which, last I checked, is still yummier than turkey).

Tom starts out by asking Grayson if she really thought that chicken salad could ever be the winning dish.
“You have to win this against other dishes that are potentially much more exciting than a chicken salad sandwich,” he says.
“Like a meatball?” Grayson asks sarcastically.
“Right,” says Tom, staring at her.
“Right,” says Grayson, staring back.

Right about now, I half expect a Whole Foods employee to emerge from stage left and konk Tom in the head.

Anyway, it comes down to Lindsay’s Greek meatball vs. Paul’s turkey kalbi with eggplant and white peach kimchi.

And Paul wins!!!! Paul wins!!! (Extra exclamation points to denote an excitement that none of us are actually feeling at this point.) (Love me some Paul but his winning is getting a little old.)
Paul gets $15,000 for the victory. At this point, I’m pretty sure he could buy and sell Andy Cohen several times over.

Back to the holding room, where Grayson licks her wounds.
“They wanted me to do more. Duly noted. Maybe I should be in there—” and she points to the judging room where Sarah, Edward, and Chris are meeting their fate.

What was up with those dense rolls? Tom asks Edward.
I wanted to avoid using the “empty calories” of rice, Edward explains.
“Bread is empty calories, too,” Padma snips.
(When will these contestants learn that there is no pulling the wool over Padma’s eyes? First of all, she has X-ray vision. Also, she only wears cashmere.)

As for Chris, he totally should’ve made his sandwiches to order, because the bread was dry. Also, there were chunks of ice in Emeril’s watermelon and pineapple smoothie.

Chris reacts to this news as if one those yellow jackets actually made it into the mix.
“I’m sorry,” he says, practically banging his head against a wall in shame. “That sucks.”
Ice in a smoothie!! Why? Why?

As for Sarah, her meatball was probably not bottom 3 material, but they quibble over the inconsistent veggie distribution of her salad.

And. . . Chris Jones is packing his knives and his little Pebbles hairdo and going home.

He gets the “reverse Beverly”: His fellow contestants are genuinely sad to see him go. In fact, they’re all having a moment of self-immolation.

“Jonesy’s going home and it’s my fault,” says Grayson. “The chicken salad was all my idea.”
“It should’ve been me Chris,” says Ed.
“I’m sorry, who’s going home?” says Paul.  “I was too busy counting my money.”

Next week, squee! Pee-Wee!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Foiled Again! The Bachelor recap

One of these two people is totally in love

Okay, so I had a DVR malfunction and only caught hour 2 of The Bachelor last night.
My apologies. (Blame Gossip Girl and House—two shows long past their expiration dates that I nonetheless can’t stop watching. Old habits die hard, people.)

The first thing I caught was Courtney doing some sort of double reverse sneak attack on the group date and winning the rose.
I don’t even know how she did it, but I do know that she non-ironically likes to utter the phrase “winning!” which is so fitting because—from a mental health standpoint, at least—compared to her, Charlie Sheen is Tom Brokaw.

(Don’t you just love the way Courtney touches herself all the time—sometimes with a rose in her hand and sometimes without? It’s so deliciously cray-cray: It’s like her narcissism manifests in actual self-touching.)

Anyway, so yeah, I missed how Rachel got her rose. Did she have a solo date with Ben? If so, I can only assume it went something like this:
Rachel and Ben do some vaguely daredevily thing that he weaves into an elaborate metaphor about their future together:
“If we go-cart down a mountainside we can go-cart down the mountainside of life together.” Or somethin’ like that.
Then, lots of kissing.
Then, a romantic dinner, with Ben confessing to the camera that the connection he feels with Rachel is so real and so right and a little scary because he can totally see himself with her and she fits into his little Ben world like the missing piece of the little Ben world puzzle.
Then, more kissing.
Then he ambles off to the get the rose, she pretends to be surprised to get it, more kissing, and she floats home with the smug confidence of a woman who believes that she and Ben are in ♥ 4Evah! and 2Good2Be4Forgotten and all the other girls give her death stares from the couch.
(Am I anywhere close?)

All I know about the group date is that it seemed to be going one way—Kacie perhaps?—and then Courtney broke out the big guns—crying? threatening to leave?—and Ben was helpless in the face of her master manipulations. Poor sap.

Now onto what I did see:

Ben’s next solo date is with the guileless Jennifer. I worry a lot about Jennifer, because she seems so sweet and innocent and fragile, like a little lamb, if a lamb sported Colorsilk Luminesta 150 Red Permanent Hair dye by Revlon and killer abs.

So he and Jennifer go repelling into a crater (yeesh, is this The Bachelor or Fear Factor?) and Ben has a metaphor at the ready:
“Relationships are all about trust and diving into the unknown.”

Then they go swimming in the swampy, sure to be super sanitary crater water—once again, congratulations on those bodies, kids—and kiss a lot.

“Nothing can ruin this date!” gushes Jennifer. Cue the monsoon.
But they run through the monsoon together because they can “weather the storm of this monsoon they can weather the storm of life.” (Okay, Ben didn’t actually say that, but probably just because it ended up on the cutting room floor.)

Meanwhile, back at the house, Blakely is dying Emily’s hair—with foils.
First of all, I thought Blakely was a VIP cocktail waitress. This behavior is not befitting a VIP cocktail waitress. Second of all, even if she moonlights as hairstylist on the side, who the hell brings foils on a vacation? (Did she also pack a waitress tray and cocktail glasses?) Third of all, if you were competing in a reality TV show for the love of a man, would you let your competition anywhere near your hair? One false move with those foils and Emily looks like, well, Jennifer.

Back on the solo date, Jennifer is having the “best night of her life” (uh oh). “I’m falling for Ben,” she says. “I would be the perfect partner for him for life.” (Double uh oh.)

Once again, there is some sort of awkward concert with a semi-famous musician—Clay Walker—and once again, the bachelorette thinks Ben actually set this whole thing up himself.
“It makes me feel really special that Ben would set this up for me!” she says.
And by Ben, she means Next Entertainment Telepictures, the production company that produces The Bachelor (sometimes nicknamed “Ben.”).

Cocktail party time.
All the girls are sitting on the couch bad mouthing Courtney and when she enters the room, they go silent.
It’s actually hilarious. No one is even smart enough to even pretend that they weren’t all just talking shit about her. No one even offers a half-hearted, “Oh, Jamie was just telling us the funniest story. About somebody else. Who is definitely not you.”
Instead, they’re all exchanging looks like, “Awkward!”
And damned if Courtney doesn’t just slither over and sit on the edge of the couch and stare them all down, calm as you please.
Love that crazy bitch.

Meanwhile, Ben has asked to spend some quality alone time with Monica.
The whole Monica thing has been a bit of a bust, to be honest. I thought she was going to be a salty, feisty wise-cracking lesbian—the kind of character who would be played by Stockard Channing in the summerstock production of The Bachelor—but she’s really just receded into the background. She’s filler.

Anyway, Emily breaks up their one-on-one time, because she needs to tell Ben something very, very important—namely how wrong, misguided, and flatout dumb he is being about Courtney. (She’s not doing it for herself, people, she’s doing it for Ben.)

Hey future bachelors and bachelorettes of this world, can I give you a little unsolicited advice? Don’t be that guy. Don’t be the “so and so is totally different around the other bachelor/ettes then he/she is around you” guy. It never works. Never. You just seem like a narc and it kinda puts you in the friend zone and you’re also, indirectly at least, calling the star of a show a fool who’s being duped.

Ben even tries to give Emily an out.

First, she starts talking in generalities—although she has every intention of narc-ing on Courtney. (Her secret desire is that Ben will demand the name of this scheming infidel and immediately banish her from the house!)

“There is one girl who is very different around you than she around the rest of the girls,” Emily starts.

“I don’t know who you’re talking about. And I don’t expect you to throw anyone under the bus,” Ben says.

It’s not too late, Emily! Run away! Run away!

“It’s COURTNEY!” Emily says.

And, in fact, Ben does take a  little offense. He’s basically like, “You do Emily and I’ll do Ben, m’kay?”

And she skulks back to the couch in shame.
“I think I just screwed up,” she says. Ya think?

But her mensa moment continues. She starts bitching about Courtney to Casey, the Paris Hilton lookalike, who also happens to be Courtney’s best (and only) friend in the house.
When will these girls learn? The Queen Bee always has a sidekick, someone who is pretty, but not as pretty as she is, and who will blindly obey and worship her.
So Casey immediately goes and tells Courtney about Emily’s tattling to Ben and Courtney FREAKS. OUT.
“I’m a nice person,” she says. (Oh, that's rich.) “But don’t f**k with me.  Emily should watch herself. I’ll shave her eyebrows off in the middle of the night. I just want to rip her head off and verbally assault her!”
(Just a suggestion, Court-Court: Reverse that order. Because once your head has been ripped off, the verbal assault stings a lot less.)

So Courtney marches up to the couch and confronts Emily and it’s really like Emily has brought a butter knife to a gun fight. She’s not even in Courtney’s league.

And Emily’s little face begins to screw up and her lip begins to quiver in a somewhat unattractive way and Courtney just laughs that crazy, maniacal, Glenn-Close-in-Fatal-Attraction laugh and says, “Good look, Emily! Winning! Winning!!!”
And I just want to get on my feet and applaud.

So rose ceremony dram-ah. Will he deep-six Monica or Emily?
It’s Monica—who actually cries in the limo.
“It sucks when somebody doesn’t feel the way you feel,” she says. (She’s talking about Blakely, right?)

Then Ben announces to the remaining girls: “We’re going to Vieques, Puerto Rico!”
And they’re all squeeing and jumping up and down except for Courtney, who says with a bored eyeroll, “I was just there two months ago.”
And if I were doing the Bachelor music, I would totally play the sad trombone sound, because it is such a perfect buzzkill. (Have I mentioned how much I love that crazy bitch?)

Next week, Ben goes skinny dipping with  . . . well, do I even have to say who?

And I promise to work out my adventures with digital video recording technology.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Food Fright: The Top Chef Texas recap

Who's the Plain Jane next to Charlize Theron?

If you were hoping that this episode was going to finally resolve the “how the hell do you pronounce Charlize Theron’s last name?” question once and for all, you’re out of luck.
We have 7 remaining contestants and roughly 7 different pronunciations—from Ther-in to Ther-on to the vaguely French sounding Thér-onnnn. (If Ty were still around, he’d pronounce it Ther-ön.) Such is life.

Anyway, before the show is graced by the one woman on the planet who can make Padma look frumpy, we have a fun Quickfire Challenge involving a conveyer belt.
And trust me when I say, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a man with floppy rooster hair chasing after a lobster tail on a conveyer belt.

Here’s how the challenge works: 30 minutes are on the clock. The belt goes ’round and ’round, but much like the luggage carousel at the airport, you’ve got to wait longer if you want the “good stuff” (in the airport, the “good stuff” = your actual luggage; here, it’s the aforementioned lobster,  plus the likes of halibut and foie gras.)
Some contestants just say, screw it, and grab rice crispies and macadamia nuts and bitter melon.
Chris decides to wait for that brass ring—the lobster tail. He misses a few times, lunging hilariously, but eventually snags it.

Time runs out and Beverly hasn’t been able to add her curried rice crispies to her sockeye salmon so she’s screwed.
Edward, revealing a bit more about his sportsmanship than perhaps he intended, claims that she should’ve just “cheated” and thrown some curried rice crispies in the air as time expired, hoping a few stray puffs landed on her plate.

The whole crispies fiasco is made an even bigger deal when Chef Ripert announces that Beverly would’ve won—by a mile, no less—if she had just had some damn crispies on her plate.
In an ironic twist, Lindsay, who some people (specifically Lindsay herself) thought should’ve won the Restaurant Wars challenge, is the beneficiary of Beverly’s misfortune.
She wins the challenge and. . .immunity. (Cue ominous music.)
Snap-Crackle-Pop-gate is in full effect.

No time to obsess over that though, because a goddess has entered the room.
And because I’ve been so numbed by the show’s relentless product placement, I actually find it refreshing that they’re only shamelessly promoting a movie this time—Snow White and the Huntsman—instead of a mini-van or a frozen food product or a  tequila brand.

Charlize plays the Evil Queen in the film, and it’s apparently a very dark, macabre retelling of the story.
As such, the contestants are told to make a gothic feast fit for an evil queen.

Unsurprisingly, Edward seems a little too amped up about making something evil.
And Chris knows that he’ll get to play with liquid nitrogen, so he’s like a kid in a molecular gastronomy store.

In the kitchen, glorious things are overheard like, “oooh, the maggots are everywhere!” and “my plate looks like a crime scene.” Good times.

Beverly is doing her Beverly thing: Namely, acting all cute and innocent as she bulldozes her way around the kitchen. (Also, she’s making halibut, people. Halibut. To prove to Lindsay that she DOES know how to cook the fish? Paul thinks so, and so do I.)
“She’s a bulldog, man,” says Graysen of Beverly. “That girl is tiny, but she’s crazy.”
Preach, Graysen, preach.

Anyway, the most charming thing about this episode is how nerdy and tongue-tied Tom Colicchio gets around Charlize Theron. He keeps trying to make these clever little jokes and they keep backfiring.
It’s funny to see a man who is sex symbol to many (including someone whose name rhymes with “faxthewhirl”) just totally lose his cool.
I will point out the various adorkable moments as they crop up. . .

“If I was going to make a dish that was evil, I would just make food and put poison in it,” gleefully announces Charlize Theron as the meal begins. She's joking. Right? Right?

Up first is Edward, who brings out his tuna tartare. He says that the good (Asian pear vinaigrette) is battling against the evil (black garlic ponzu) for the heart of the tuna tartare.
Also, fried fish scales are involved.

“You combine the good and the evil you get a politician!” says Tom. (Adorkable wooing attempt FAIL number one.)

Anyway, everyone loves the dish. (A theme will soon emerge.)

“I could eat this every day,” says Charlize Theron.

Next up Paul with his foie gras with bacon, pumpernickel, picked cherries, beets—and bloody hand print.

“It’s fantastic,” says Chef Ripert.

Now Padma, sticking to the script, asks Charlize to talk a little about her movie.
“We have 8 dwarves,” says Charlize.
“Is that a union issue?” cracks Tom. (Not the adorkable FAIL yet, but wait for it. . .)
“If we had an 8th dwarf,” says Padma.
“It would be Tom!” says Charlize.
“Well, at least I’m not Dopey!” says Tom. (And BOOM goes the dynamite!)

Next up, Beverly with her perfectly prepared (she asked me to emphasize that) seared halibut with red curry sauce and forbidden black rice.
Again, delicious. But maybe not macabre enough?

Lindsay has cleverly named her dish seared scallops over witches stew.
It’s really just seared scallops over a bean sauce, but by calling it “witches stew” she has everyone fooled.
Regardless, it’s apparently witchtastic.

“The queen would’ve made it with peasants, not pheasants!” Tom jokes. (Ding!) (That was the dork bell ringing, by the way.)

“Lindsay has immunity and she may not have needed it,” Padma reports.

Next Sarah with her amarone risotto and lamb’s heart.

“I’d like to give you the key to my lamb’s heart,” Tom says to Charlize. Okay, he doesn’t actually say that, but he was thinking it.

Charlize loves the heart: “I am the queen! I want to eat more of this heart!” She's joking again. . . right?

Next up, Grayson, with her slaughterhouse black chicken with dead chicken fetus (aka runny quail egg).
The judges agree that she “went for it.” (I'll say.)

Finally, Chris’s poison apple and cherry pie, with puffed rice crispie maggots. (Ironically, earlier today Beverly was referring to her rice crispies as maggots, but for different reasons.)
They love the drama of it.
It’s so him, they agree.

So the meal is over.
 “I loved this meal,” says Charlize.
“This is clearly the most exciting meal we’ve had on the show this season, by far,” says Tom
“It’s the best meal I’ve ever had on Top Chef,” reports Eric Ripert.
Uh oh, dilemma time people. All the dishes were great. What’s a judging panel to do?

“We’d like to see all of you,” Padma reports.

“The meal was spectacular!” Charlize tells them.
“We are here to please you,” says Edward, smooth as silk, as Tom glowers at him from the table.

And the winner is. . Paul!

The bottom 3 comes down to Graysen, Sarah, and Beverly.
Again, all three had great dishes. The judges are just nitpicking here.
Sarah’s risotto was slightly undercooked. Beverly’s sauce was slightly sticky. And Graysen’s greens were slightly salty.

Aaaand. . .  Beverly, please pack your knives and go.

Ouch. One rice crispie away from glory.

Instead, she must sadly take down the “Congratulations, Top Chef Beverly Kim!” sign from over her bed.

“I never threw anyone under the bus,” she says, keeping her chin up high.
Suffice it say, she never personally drove a bus over anyone, but she was definitely a backseat bus driver.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

On a scale from 1 to 10, I feel like I’m going to throw up: The Bachelor recap

So this happened. . .
Oh, I learned so much last night.
I learned Ben’s kiss has restorative, redemptive, and possibly supernatural powers.
I learned that a thing called a “Leap List” exists, but only in an alternative TV universe sponsored by Honda.
I learned that Ben, much like a Miss America contestant, only knows how to play one song on the piano. (David Gray’s “This Year’s Love” for what it’s worth).
I learned that Shawntel—the femme fatale of funeral homes, the queen of caskets, the Elektra of embalmment—also exists. And for that I am grateful.

Okay, let’s take it from the top.
They are now in San Francisco, which is the second most meaningful place in the world to Ben, after Sonoma Valley. (Or maybe it’s the first most meaningful and Sonoma Valley is second, I can’t keep up with Ben and his passionate connections to various zip codes.)

“The only way to experience San Francisco is with Ben,” says Nicki. Really Nicki? Because I can think of 10 better ways to experience San Francisco, just off the top of my head.

First solo date goes to Emily, who is the oddly unspecific “PhD student” and therefore deemed “smart” by everyone.
Emily seems like a lovely girl and all, but I haven’t seen any evidence of this rapier intellect she supposedly possesses, just yet.
“Booksmart is a little boring,” sniffs Courtney. (But crazy never gets old.)

Emily responds to the datecard message—“Love Lifts Us Up”—in pretty much the way I react to all first dates: “What should I wear? Will he like me? Does this involve heights? Am I going to pee my pants?” (The answers, in no particular order: Yes, hell yes, maybe, and crampons.)

Turns out they are going to be scaling the Bay Bridge, which has also been on the kind of “Leap List” that inspires calls to 911, if you know what I mean.

Poor Emily is deathly afraid of heights and is, therefore, having a panic attack. So about halfway through the climb, she just stops. She can’t move forward, she can’t move backward. She will just waste away and die, right there, midway to the top of the Bay Bridge.
But luckily, Ben and his lifesaving lips are right behind her. He kisses her, and together, they scale the bridge.

“If Emily and I can climb to the top of the Bay Bridge together, there’s no telling how far we can take this relationship,” he says. Barf.

Next, they have dinner and Emily is side-eyeing that rose, which mocks her from the table.
“The two things in life that I’m most scared of are heights and. . .rejection.” (Followed closely by floppy hair and Jack Russell terriers.)
Ben puts her out of her misery, and quickly gives her the rose. Thank. God.

One of the other big themes of this season is voyeurism. The bachelorettes are always creeping around and watching Ben make out with other girls. Whatever floats your boat, ladies.
They take it to a whole next level during Ben’s date with Emily, actually watching the date, Rear Window-style, through a telescope.
(If you like Hitchcock and schadenfreude, you’ll love this season of The Bachelor!)
When fireworks go off, one girl says forlornly: “She totally got a rose.”
Another one says, “I’m so sad right now.”

Next, the group date, with its ridiculous Leap List concept.
A Leap List is a like a Bucket List but without the inconvenient dying part. You do it before major life milestones, like giving birth or getting married.

Now I consider myself something of an expert on cultural trends and the Leap List didn’t even ring a distant bell. Have I been living under a rock? Is everyone making Leap Lists but me? Am I being intentionally excluded from Leap List mania? Um, no.

Because Leap Lists are not a real thing, people, despite the fact that Rachel matter-of-factly describes what they are to her fellow bachelorettes.
It’s all part of this stupid Honda CR-V advertising campaign. I feel so used.

So anyhoo, the Leap List activity in this case is for Ben to see all the girls in bikinis—I mean, uh, ski in bikinis down one of San Francisco’s notoriously steep hills.

Ben is rockin’ the sk8ter boi look—ski cap, no shirt, board shorts. Me likey.

You're welcome

As that date is going on, the rest of the girls sit around waiting for the next solo date card. Everyone is expecting it to go to Lindzzzzzi, so the room is pretty stunned when it goes to Brittney. Who? Yeah, she’s the one who brought her granny to the first date, remember? Actually, it appears that Brittney herself has forgotten who she is. She looks truly shaken, bordering on horrified, to have received the datecard.

She has decided that this whole reality-TV dating life isn’t for her (if only there had been 15 previous seasons of the show to prepare her for what to expect!!).

“This really isn’t for me, so I’m going to go home,” she says.
“Noooo!” the other girls say. (Translation: “Yessssss!”)

Meanwhile, back on the group date, Ben is kissing Rachel, the stylist, and all the other girls are watching, because that’s how they roll.

Why don't you take a picture—it'll last longer!

Kacie takes it particularly hard and needs to steal a private moment alone with Ben. He comforts her with one of his magical kisses and she feels better about things.
(Just as a social experiment, Ben should try kissing Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas and see if it brings about peace in the Middle East.)

Anyway, since Brittney is gonzo, Lindzzzi takes over for her on the one-on-one date.
For her evening sight-seeing trip around San Francisco, she decides to wear the single most painful-looking pair of stilettos I have ever laid eyes on. It’s excrutiating to watch her stagger down the street. (She probably would’ve worn those on the scale-the-Bay-Bridge date, too. Hey, a girl’s gotta keep up appearances. )

They take a trolley, eat some Rice-a-Roni (that joke just totally dated me), and then Ben has the key to City Hall—because he is San Francisco’s most beloved son—and they have the place to themselves.
“I don’t know who this guy is, but he’s kind of amazing,” Lindzzzi says.
(She does realize that Ben doesn’t usually carry around the key to City Hall, right? Also, fireworks don’t usually go off when he kisses someone. And he can’t summon snow at will.)

They step inside and it’s that awkward moment when Matt Nathanson is getting his big break on national TV and after a few half-hearted dance moves you basically ignore him and make out.

Can we kiss yet?

“I  don’t normally kiss. . .boys on the first date,” Lindzzzi says. (And somewhere, back at the house, Monica’s ears are perking up.)

Then they go to this kinda gimmicky, but kinda cool Speakeasy place and Lindzzzzi tells Ben about her horrible breakup.

Ben’s internal monologue: You think you had a horrible breakup? Ha! My humiliating proposal rejection has aired repeatedly on national TV! I had to exit, alone, on a rickety little boat—the S.S. Misery!

Lindzzzi: I got a text that said, ‘Welcome to Dumpsville, Population You.’”

Ben’s internal monologue: You win.

So Lindzzzzi gets a pity rose—just kidding, Ben seems to really like her—and they go back to the house for the cocktail party and rose ceremony.

“Nothing can ruin tonight,” says Lindzzzi. She doesn’t actually say, “Unless that mortician bitch from Brad’s season shows up unexpectedly,” but it’s implied.

First a few pre-Shawntel highlights of the cocktail party:

Ben tells Jennifer she’s the bestest kisser in the whole wide house and she’s positively floating on air and then lets it slip out in an interview that she “loves him.” Oh girl, check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Ben takes Courtney (“who is super mellow and drama free!” he had insightfully informed his sister) on the roof and grants her one of his elixir kisses. He’s super into her.
(Good news: Shawntel’s presence throws things so far out of whack, Courtney actually slips up and exposes her inner Mean Girl to Ben! More on that soon.)

So Elyse—who is a person, I believe, who is on the show. . .I think— is getting some alone time with Ben and that’s when Shawntel sashays into the scene.

So yeah, Shawntel in the house. Not an ex girlfriend but they’ve .  . . talked? Had a connection? It’s a little confusing how they even know each other (possibly a key party at Mike Fleiss’ house?)—but Ben seems extremely flustered and flattered by her arrival.

And the other girls are positively freaking out. I mean, they all have the vapors or something. (In Erika’s case, quite literally.)
I’m not quite sure why Shawntel’s presence sent them all into such a tailspin but I guess they were pretty much on edge to begin with.

Some quotes about Shawntel:
“You guys, if he kisses her, I’m going home right now.”-Emily.

“This isn’t what I signed up for. If she stays I’m out.”- Courtney

“She says she’s here for Ben and I’m not okay with it.” -Nicki.

“I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t like the bitch.” - Rachel.

“I hope these women are gracious and welcoming.” –Bachelor Ben.

So they all line up for the rose ceremony and some sort of teamster gets in the shot—a real friend of Tony Soprano type—and I’m thinking maybe he’s also there to protect Shawntel in case one of the other girls puts a hit out on her?

Erika gets the aforementioned vapors and Jaclyn cries and cries and cries (and utters the awesome phrase of my title) and Shawntel looks defiant—but Ben decides to gets rid of all three of them.
Good move, Bachelor Ben.

“See ya!” trills Courtney to Shawntel—in front of Ben!!! “Sayonara!”

(Earlier she had referred to Shawntel as “what’s her butt”—in front of Ben!!!!)

Exactly how mellow and drama free does she seem NOW?
Ball's in your court, Bachelor Ben. I’m sure you’ll do the wrong thing.