Is America Out of Tune? – American Idol, 04-06-05

Is America Out of Tune? – American Idol, 04-06-05

by Sue Mulcahy

Last night’s elimination round of American Idol had something for everyone. For fans, having last year’s winner Fantasia perform reminds us why we watch the elimination show each week. Frankly, it’s torture. Not only does the Wednesday night show have no live performances, it showcases why many believe Ryan Seacrest can be incredibly annoying.

Fantasia’s performance was wonderful and brought the audience and judges to their feet. For Fox, it has to be satisfying to know that they had truly allowed America to vote for a real star last season. The question remains if the network will be lucky enough to crown someone equally talented this season. While these nine finalists have talent, I’m not sure any of them have the “it” factor the show and record companies are hoping for.

Tuesday night’s show had an interesting theme. To tell nine people who probably knew little or nothing about musicals to sing a song from a Broadway show proved for some of them to be a tough challenge. Coming from someone who knows a lot about musicals the key to Tuesday’s voting rested a lot on song selection. When it came to song selection, some of these contestants failed miserably.

The opening montage on Wednesday had me believing that I had made the right voting decisions on Tuesday. Constantine, Anwar and Nadia did an excellent job taking a show tune and making it their own, something typically rewarded on Idol. Other than Constantine trying to make bad love to the cameras, I thought for sure they would all be safe.

Carrie and Bo both surprised me this week by making poor song selections. Here are two people who had a chance to really shine in this category. Both were ordinary at best but I still believed they would make it to the next round.

Vonzell selected “People” from the musical Funny Girl. To me listening to someone sing Barbra Streisand’s “People” is the equivalent of bad lounge acts bellowing Barry Manilow’s “Feelings”. I mean does anyone really need to hear those songs again? Still I thought Vonzell really showcased how far she had come in the competition.

I personally thought all of the bottom three would be men this week; Nikko, Anthony and Scott. But as usual when it comes to American Idol, I was wrong. Nikko was the first to be called into the bottom three. In a move that seemed to surprise the audience Vonzell was also facing elimination. They were quickly joined by Scott, who I felt was just awful on Tuesday.

When I saw that Anthony was “safe” on the couch, I couldn’t help but think that the American people have some kindness in them after all. How anyone could forgive that horrible rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” Anthony sang on Tuesday I do not know. But we all love The Sound of Music and Anthony will live to sing another week.

Vonzell was told she would continue. That left Nikko and Scott. Scott was told he would go on and Nikko was sent home. Scott seemed surprised but I was shocked. For me, this competition has nothing to do with what these people do or have done off the show. Scott may have had some past troubles, but I would rather focus on his current troubles. And in my opinion his current problem is that he can’t really sing. He just was not better than Nikko this week or really any other week for that matter.

Scott went first this week and selected a weak song that he couldn’t sing on key. Maybe America tuned in late. Maybe people were getting a snack. Maybe they were getting in their pajamas. One thing is for sure the voters were not listening closely on Tuesday. And for that we might have to listen to some more bad tunes next week.

(Thanks for all the emails last week. For comments or suggestions you can email me at suemulcahy@aol.com )


The One Where Anastasia Wakes Up On The Wrong Side Of The Bed – Nashville Star 3, Episode 6

by Lisa

I must confess up front that I am on the road this week, meaning that this recap will be done without the safety net of my beloved Tivo. So forgive me if I leave out a few minor details, but I am scribbling as fast as I can!

Our host LeAnn Rimes takes the stage to welcome us to the show. But before getting to the good stuff, we must first rehash last week’s departure of one of the perceived frontrunners, Tamika Tyler. LeAnn asks the judges for their reaction to the surprising dismissal. Phil and Bret both respond with nice comments about her, but Anastasia says “I could sense a diva lurking inside and I think America did too so they gave her a big ole spanking”. Yow!

We are then treated to an appearance by the original Nashville Star, Buddy Jewell, singing his current hit “If She Were Any Other Woman”. Or at least part of his hit. Did I miss something already? Anyway, in the brief time he is allotted he does a super job and shows us what we should be looking for in our contestants this season.

The first singer called to safety this week by LeAnn is Jayron Weaver. In his pre-recorded interview clip he claims to be the underdog of the competition, but I think we all know better than that. And the ensuing screams from the crowd confirm our suspicions about his obvious popularity. Jayron sings “Shoulda Been a Cowboy” and does a good job as usual, though maybe not as energetic as he could have been given that it is a Toby Keith song. Again, both Bret and Phil have nice things to say, then Anastasia complains “I think there’s not enough grit in your country”. Did someone put a pin on her chair tonight or what?

We then cut to some amusing clips from the audition process. I think this year’s 10 finalists are on average much more talented than the finalists we started with in the past 2 seasons, and these clips confirm that we could have done much much worse!

The next name LeAnn calls is no surprise either, it’s our resident cowboy Jason Meadows. He sings “Down on the Farm” using a headset microphone, which allows him to tear up the stage totally unencumbered. This guy just gets better every week, and I would be very surprised if he does not make it to the final episode. Phil says he liked the way he moved, Bret says he digs him, and Anastasia finally lets something nice come out of her mouth, telling him he is “rock solid”

We then go backstage with Cletus T. Judd, who is interrogating poor Jody Evans about the unflattering comments he received from the judges last week. Jody is (as always) polite as pie, so Cletus moves on to Jason Meadows and makes dumb jokes about his headset instead, but is unable to stir up much of a reaction from either victim.

LeAnn then returns to call Erika Jo to safety. She chooses to sing “You’re No Good” and gives another crowd-pleasing performance. Phil says she is the best stage performer of the bunch (doesn’t he always use some form of “you’re the best in this competition” to everyone in the competition?), Bret says she rocked, and Anastasia says she would be her pick for Nashville Star, but then apparently remembers she is in a bad mood and goes on to tell her that she still has an “image problem”. I have tried to cut back my comments on the wardrobes of folks on this show as I think they are all pretty goofy and that analysis could be a whole column unto itself. I don’t think Erika is any more of a fashion victim that anyone else on stage tonight (Did Anastasia get a load of Buddy Jewell’s shirt – what was that? And what about her own crazy get-up tonight??). But I suppose Anastasia feels the need to cough up some kind of constructive criticism to everyone, as Bret and Phil both seem to be channeling Paula Abdul and her Speak No Evil mantra.

Anyway…after a few more funny audition clips, the next performer to move on to next week is Justin David. He picks “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and gives it his all and then some on the fiddle playing, but I’m not sure his vocals can fill Garth’s big shoes. The judges’ reaction is mixed, with Anastasia of course jumping on him saying that his weakness is his voice, but then trying to soften the blow by telling him she doesn’t dislike him. Bret tells him he dug it, and Phil starts off with “Maybe you’re not the best singer in the world…” and then backpedals a bit as well by telling him the song choice was hard and etc.

And it is nail-biting time once again, as we are down to the final 2 contestants, Jody Evans and Jenny Farrell. After totally being blindsided the week before, last week I predicted that Jody and Jenny were most at risk to leave us. LeAnn pulls out the Card Of Doom, and tells us we must say goodbye to…Jenny Farrell. While I’m sure Jenny is disappointed, I am pleased that she was not eliminated right off the bat after her difficult start on the first episode, and I hope she finds some consolation in this as well. Good luck Jenny!

A happy Jody Evans then takes the stage and sings “Just Call Me Lonesome” and gives a much stronger performance than he did last week. The crowd sure is pleased to have him back on top of his game, and the judges are psyched as well. Bret tells him “That’s the Jody I love!”, Phil says he loves his thing, and Anastasia says she wants to adopt him.

As one would hope at this point, it is getting harder to say who should get the boot from the show. I predict that the final 3 will be Jason, Erika and Jayron, meaning that we will say farewell to Justin and Jody in the next two weeks, most likely in that order. Also coming our way next week is a performance by special guest Jamie O’Neal. See you then!

You can contact Lisa with questions, comments, or general gabbery at lisa@realityshack.com.

“I’m Fat, You’re Fat…We’re All Fat!” – America's Next Top Model 4, Episode 6

“I’m Fat, You’re Fat…We’re All Fat!” – America’s Next Top Model 4, Episode 6

By: Cori Linder
clinder@realityshack.com

I thought it appropriate to title this recap with a quote from Janice Dickinson in response to a couple of the judges’ comments that Naima needed to lose a few pounds. Now, anybody with at least an eyeball who has watched one of these episodes can tell you that none of the girls need to lose an ounce. But, Janice’s comment about everybody being fat in the room reminds us viewers that though this is a reality show, it is not our reality or our show. Moving on…

Bacteria is slowly leaving the America’s Next Top Model suite and, much to her delight (and relief), Michelle is looking less like a leper and more like the model she is.

Lluvy, on the other hand, is not so happy. With her skin still in tact (luckily, Michelle wasn’t contagious!), Lluvy is continually reminded that she has been in the bottom two twice in a row. She knows she has to step it up.

TYRA MAIL: “How bankable are you?” the paper asks.

After the girls collect in an office waiting room, a man hands them a contract and tells them to sign it. The problem is that the girls have no idea who this man is or what they are supposed to sign. However, since they cannot enter the next room without signing, they innocently sign the contract.

Spinning around in her business chair, Tyra Banks surprises them. “This is ‘Bankable Productions,’” she tells them. Today, the girls are going to learn about the business side of modeling. Tyra introduces them to her mother, Carolyn London, and her father (the man who asked the girls to sign the contract). The girls learn that they basically signed their life away. This is, of course, only an exercise about how important it is to read everything before you sign, but I thought it would have made an interesting twist in the show if the girls had REALLY signed some over-the-top contract and had to abide by it.

After business comes pleasure. The girls decide to alleviate stress by dining at a restaurant. Alcohol prompts Brittany to dance on the table and, in some of the girls’ opinion, causes her to disrespect the restaurant and herself. On the way home, she even “moons” a passing car. Brittany reminds me of that guest you don’t want to invite to a wedding for fear he/she will get liquored up and embarrass the newlyweds.

The next morning…TYRA MAIL: “Time to party,” the paper says.

Beautified in their black dresses, the girls are told they will be attending the Cover Girl product debut party. They are excited, of course, for they see it almost as an extension of the fun night before. But, what they don’t know is that this party is really a challenge where they will be judged on confidence/poise, how they “work” the room, and how their beauty shows inside and out. Poor Michelle with her scabby face.

Almost all the girls mess up on something. Brittany is overly concerned with drinking alcohol. Tiffany is glued to the product because, as she notes, make-up doesn’t talk to and intimidate her. Michelle wears a skirt that is too short and looks uncomfortable. Naima is too quiet; although, she had a fantastic line. Somebody asked her, “How does it feel to be the center of attention?” She quietly responded, “It humbles me.” Perfectly said.

Keenyah wins the challenge and chooses her best friend, Brittany, to partake in her reward at a beachfront hotel.

TYRA MAIL: “Are you running out of gas?” the paper says. The girls suspect that their next challenge will have something to do with a gas station.

A short while later, Lluvy is on the phone, crying to her boyfriend that she feels lost and needs her puppy. Imagine how she would feel if she was on the other side of the world?

The girls soon find themselves in the middle of the desert next to a lonely gas station. Their challenge is to look sexy while wet. Water sprays and wind blows everywhere! The girls have to use this to their advantage and inspire a sexy photo.

Meanwhile, back at the beach, Brittany and Keenyah are engaging in massages and enjoying themselves immensely. They are allowed to sleep in and show up “fashionably late” to the shoot. They arrive fresh and anew.

During the photo shoot, poor Lluvy is having a heck of a time trying to look sexy. She’s lost, though, and doesn’t know what to do with her face and poses. When she is asked if she feels sexy, she says no and just wants to laugh. This might be a problem for her.

The girls face the judges panel. They will be evaluated first on their ability to decorate a perfume bottle and market themselves in a short pitch. It’s Christine’s turn, and Janice says, “You don’t have any idea who you are.” Surprising everybody, Christine’s eyes fill with tears, explaining that she doesn’t want to get walked over like her mother was. The judges welcome this vulnerable side of Christine, and Janice even says a genuine “sorry.”

After reviewing everybody’s picture, the judges choose Lluvy and Rebecca to be in the bottom two. Tyra tells them that they both have a lot of potential but are not progressing. They’re basically giving out the same thing over and over again.

Lluvy is out. She had a beautiful face (super long eyelashes and big lips), but she didn’t know how to use her face.

Until next time…


Mid-Season Wrap-Up – The Amazing Race 7, Bonus Episode

mid-season wrap up the amazing race 7 bonus episode

by LauraBelle

I’m not quite sure why CBS had The Amazing Race on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, but I was quite tickled to watch both The Amazing Race and American Idol back-to-back two nights in a row. In these mid-season wrap-up shows, we usually don’t see many new things, just an interesting tidbit here and there and a few funny lines they neglected to keep in editing. Tonight’s show follows the beaten path.

Phil narrates the way through seven legs of the race. As the teams leave Long Beach, California, we hear Lynn tell Alex, “I think I accidentally pushed Amber … survive that!”

Biker buddies Ryan and Chuck get together with Ron and Kelly in the airport and talk politics. Pageant queen Kelly discusses how she and veteran Ron are card-carrying Republicans who voted for George W. Bush. Ryan and Chuck see Ron and Kelly as the Republican party’s dream couple.

Rob dictates to Amber his three rules of the game. Love me. Have fun with me. Don’t be last. Oddly enough, I think this is why they are still in the game. They truly love each other, have fun no matter what they’re doing, and haven’t come in last.

Several teams had run out of money in the airport and were begging for more. Meghan and Heidi are using their womanly ways to beg and Uchenna is doing back flips. Gretchen notes she’s not blonde, twenty and sporting low cleavage, but figures she did okay in her old sweater. Alex wishes he had boobs watching Meghan and Heidi succeed.

Later, during the llama challenge, when Lynn and Alex are being spit on, Lynn says he thinks it’s a gay llama because it’s being very bitchy. He and Alex are perhaps the only people that could get away with saying that.

Everyone hitched rides on the back of trucks along with locals as part of the race at one point. Brian and Greg spent the time on the truck playing with local kids, Meghan and Heidi put makeup on the local women, and the truck Rob and Amber were on broke down, so Rob jumped out, fixed the truck, and they were on their way.

On the last leg, Kelly entertains locals with her pageant skills, and Amber gives Rob spanish lessons while they debate if it should be Yo Quiero or Do Quiero. A security guard settles the argument for them. Later Rob pays off another security guard not to tell the others that the bus that leaves later actually gets there first, and gets upset at Debbie and Bianca calling him out on lying about it.

On the long bus ride, Patrick hits his head badly enough to need medical attention and Brian and Greg get to know Meghan and Heidi better braiding their hair. A local has a whole feast set up on the bus with Uchenna digging in and Lynn and Alex making fun of Ron gnawing away at the bones like he’s on Flintstones. A woman uses the aisle of the bus to butcher a lamb.

In a layover at an airport, Meghan and Heidi invite Brian and Greg up to their room, and later call the brothers perfect gentlemen as they never made a pass at them. Later, Brian and Greg pay them back, beating them in a foot race to the mat, essentially eliminating Meghan and Heidi from the race.

Leaving the next morning, Rob steals Debbie and Bianca’s cab, paying the cab driver ten dollars, after Debbie and Bianca had promised the driver four dollars to wait for them. Debbie and Bianca never realize it was Rob and Amber that stole their cab, and once they catch another cab and meet up with the group, they apologize to Rob for calling him a liar during the previous leg of the race.

As Debbie and Bianca get lost driving through the Andes Mountains, one of them says this is why her parents stopped taking trips where they had to drive. Lynn and Alex are amazed to see a Wal Mart while driving through the Andes.

In a water rafting challenge Lynn and Alex pass Rob and Amber which I think is Lynn’s personal highlight of the race, and Alex later says he still has scars form the looks Rob gave him.

At the roadblock where one member of every team was required to eat four pounds of meat, while Rob strategizes it’s better for him to accept a four hour penalty than lose the race, Lynn tells Alex to plug his nose while eating and Gretchen tells Meredith she’s keeping the flies off the meat as it would mean even more to eat. It occurs to me that eating four pounds of meat would be like eating sixteen quarter pounders.

During the horse riding challenge, Deana whines about it hurting her legs and also that her shoe fell off. Patrick complains loudly as well that his legs are killing him.

All the teams that ate the meat the previous leg are on a flight leaving five hours earlier than the people that took the four hour penalty and Susan and Patrick, who ate the meat, but came in last. The meat-eating teams are celebrating their coup and Rob and Amber hop on the plane with them. Rob glances at Ron and asks him how his stomach is. He then proudly says he and Amber are living the American dream.

Brian and Greg are thinking they are doing better than the dating couples in the race as they are not out to decide if they should be brothers anymore.

When Meredith and Gretchen are in a cab, caught without enough money to pay him, they offer him a calculator, watch and orange, and Gretchen wishes she wouldn’t have spent money to eat something earlier. As he drops them off, Meredith gives him something he says is worth twenty dollars back in the states. Gretchen is amazed at the sacrifice the driver made for them.

In South Africa, the teams are met for the first time with cars that are set up to drive on the opposite side of the road from what they are used to. I had never thought about it before, but everything is on the opposite side, not just the steering wheel. The clutch, gas and brake are in reverse order. Amber asks Rob why the wipers are on when it is sunny, and he replies because he is changing lanes. The wipers are where the turn signal should be.

When Gretchen takes her treacherous fall down a hole, she quips that she has been wanting a facelift for a long time and begs to not have any closeups of her wounds.

While driving, several teams, including Meredith and Gretchen, are lost, and Rob and Amber initiate a follow the leader game. Realizing he is being directly followed, Rob continually switches lanes back and forth. Rob pretends he’s lost by signalling “Where are we going?” to Meredith, and Gretchen worries that they’re all lost.

In an African airport gift shop passing time, Rob and Amber find a local magazine with their smiling faces on the cover. They talk of the jealousy the other teams have for them.

When Lynn and Alex are milking the goats, they believe when the goats are relaxed, they give it up, just like on a date. When another goat is braying, one of them, probably Lynn, says, “Oh Honey, don’t be jealous. I’ll come back and squeeze your nipples.” Brian and Greg end up with a license plate souvenir from their travels through Botswana after swerving off the road yet again.

While not much new was learned, it was still an enjoyable hour, watching how we got to Botswana from the start in Long Beach, California. I am so glad that of the teams left in the race, the majority of them are the ones with the good one-liners and great attitudes. It makes it so fun to watch, and should make for an exciting second half of the season.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com


captainD's Boot Prediction – Survivor Palau, Episode 8

captainD’s Boot Prediction – Survivor Palau, Episode 8

by captainD

And then there were two. Last week we saw Koror again dominate a mentally and physically drained Ulong team. The Alabama alliance came crashing down as Ibrehem took the walk of shame. The bad thing for the remaining two is that they are expecting a merge. Who said anything about a merge? Be careful Stephenie, you don’t want to end up like Shii Ann.

In case sweaty butt-cracks and an hour of CSI wasn’t gross enough for your Thursday night, this week we have our yearly gross food challenge! Ulong is “hungry” to win another challenge and since it’s for reward they may actually win this one. For immunity, blah….blah….blah….blah…..and Koror wins again!! That’s a real shocker!
Tribal council will come down to some kind of challenge between Bobby Jon and Stephenie. Because he hasn’t performed well in recent days, I believe the next boot will be BOBBY JON.

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at captainDs5@yahoo.com


You Are The Starlet! The Starlet – Series Finale

You Are the Starlet – The starlet episode 6

by Chloe

Where there once were ten, there now is three; soon to be just one. The Starlet. She’ll be the winner of a one year management contract with 3 Arts Entertainment, a role on One Tree Hill and ongoing gig opportunities with the WB.

Through class instruction on anger, seduction, comedy, commercials, etc., through the tough screen test kissing another woman, winning the Diva Suite, losing the Diva Suite, losing newly made friends as Andie, Andrea, Courtney, Neva, Lauren, Cecile and Donna were all told “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.” all that remain are Katie, Mercedes and Michelynne.

As the show begins, the girls prepare for their final screen test. Each one expresses sadness upon realizing this is it. It all ends tonight.

Each one brings to this final test all the seriousness, strength and skill that they have learned in the last weeks. They walk to Studio One with determination and, strangely enough, void of the physical jitters they displayed in previous tests.

Quietly, Mercedes, Katie and Michelynne perform their roles, and even though they stop and start like a faltering car engine, they finish with dignity and a sense of accomplishment.

The remainder of the morning is devoted to packing their belongings, which seemed to have multiplied since their adventure began. Each wonder, as they place high-heeled shoes into bags, what they would if they were not chosen as The Starlet.

Later, the girls are surprised with Hollywood makeovers and evening gowns, compliments of the judges; Faye Dunaway, Vivica A. Fox and Joseph Middleton. Soon the afternoon is filled with hair, makeup and gown fittings, and all things that create a bond between women. Gone is the earlier animosity toward ambitious Katie, who earlier declared independence and abruptly cut any friendly ties, by focusing only on winning the competition alone.

Tonight the judging is to be held in the famous Orpheum theatre, and as the girls glide along in their limousine, dressed in their borrowed finery, nerves rise to the surface. All three are beautiful. One by one they enter the theatre and walk down the red carpet to the judge’s panel. With a mix of pride and apprehension they watch their last test.

Michelynne had colors and has grown a lot according to Vivica. Joseph also, could see the change for one so green and young in the business. Faye believes she still has a lot to learn and that she sometimes tries too hard.

Katie was accused of just trying to remember her lines. Joseph asked if she had fun with this test. Katie replied she had a blast, but before she could finish, Faye jumped from her seat and asked, “How could you say you had so much fun? Fun is not what you have in one of those scenes.” Faye said she didn’t think she was really into the scene at all. Katie argued with her. Faye said, “If we wanted fake emotion, we would have casted Barbie.”

Mercedes takes Faye’s breath away in the screen test. She feels Mercedes has a lot of dignity, but doesn’t think she is accessible and that she is holding back. Vivica says she needs to look up more instead of looking down. Joseph thinks she’s strong and comes right out and says according to him, Mercedes is his starlet.

The three ladies are brought back into the theatre for the final results. After much discussion they agree that Katie is the all-American girl, Mercedes is elegant and Michelynne has that something special for one so young.

They tell Katie she is not consistent, but will have a career ahead, “Don’t call us. We’ll call you.”

The judges list the qualities of Mercedes and Michelynne. Faye says they are both wonderful and shine, but there can only be one starlet.

“Michelynne. You are The Starlet.”

Look for Michelynne in her first role on One Tree Hill in two weeks.

I welcome your comments. chloe@realityshack.com


First Impressions – Starting Over, 04-05-05


by LauraBelle

We all make first impressions. The big question is if we can have an easy time accepting others’ first impressions of us. By no surprise, Tess has an easier time handing them out than accepting them.

Rhonda gives everyone in Group cards to make first impression lists of each of their housemates. There are different descriptive words pre-printed to circle if they apply and blank spaces to write in their own, if they wish.

After all the women receive the cards written for them, Bethany is first to share others’ opinions of her. She is told she is friendly, nice and a country bumpkin. She feels that’s the image she wants to put out there, so feels good about it.

Tess is told she is friendly, fake, a people-pleaser and a brown-noser. Rachael lets her know right away that wasn’t hers. Tess starts demanding to know who did write it. When Rhonda tells her that’s not being open to criticism, Tess asks why it’s not engaging herself. Rhonda tells her either she can continue to believe her own version or learn to see the truth of how others see her. (Silently cheering Rhonda on.)

Rachael sees that she has two separate sides to herself with words like friendly, nice, conceited and drama queen. Alison has one side and feels sad it’s not deeper, being called theatrical, vivacious and obsessive. That’s not deep enough for her?

After Vanessa reads others see her as sarcastic, sweet, gifted and talented, Karen says she’s afraid to read hers. She reads that the other women find her friendly, a people-pleaser, isolated obsessive and crazy. She is ultimately surprised, as she thought people would think even less of her.

Karen moves on to join Iyanla in a one-one-one. Karen tells Iyanla she’s afraid she built up this fake persona so long that there’s nothing left. Without it she might cease to exit. Iyanla reminds her that her first step is to tell the naked truth, as it will set her free. Karen knows that the lie she is telling is that she is horrible and not capable of being loved.

When she says she thinks something is wrong with her, Iyanla tells Karen that her husband supported that idea, as did her whole family. She needed the lie then, but doesn’t need it anymore and can now create a new reality. There will be a reporter at the house later to write two separate stories of Karen’s life – fairy tale and reality.

Dr. Stan arrives and meets Tess for the first time, although she has been in the house for a week. Perhaps the Michael Jackson trial is keeping him too busy. Dr. Stan wants to know who she is.

Tess explains she has always had negative relationships with women and figures it is because they are jealous of her looks. Or perhaps you are just too full of yourself, Tess.

Yet it’s the infidelity issue that has brought Tess to the Starting Over house. She feels the need to tell Dr. Stan that her husband started cheating first, and she feels she was in the right since she waited five years before retaliating and cheating on him. He also did it first the second time. Dr. Stan asks if he gives her excuses for her own behavior. Dr. Stan is getting a little snippy after dealing with Michael Jackson.

Bethany goes on the first of three blind dates with Sean. They go fishing at a port. It makes me immediately miss our recent Florida vacation where we visited Port Canaveral nearly every day. Bethany tries coaching the fish to her line by saying, “Come ‘lil fishy!” She and Sean realize they both were on the swim team in high school, and she feels comfortable with him.

Barbara, the reporter, arrives to interview Karen, who starts with the fairy tale story of her life. She and her husband, Phil, wed in a small town and were both well-known and powerful in the community. He was a lawyer and together they appeared as a perfect couple whose life evolved around their two daughters.

In her reality story, Karen says Phil was cold and controlling. She was never good enough for him, and he would claim she didn’t know how to keep things clean if there was something a half inch out of place. Her doctor made a move on her and she began an affair with him. Karen’s daughter found intimate pictures of her and the doctor when she was thirteen or fourteen, and Karen says it was the worst day of her life. She would like her daughter to forgive her, and Barbara says she would then have an all new story.

Bethany gets back from her date and admits she was attracted to Sean, but says they did not exchange numbers. She now heads out on date number two with Scott. Right off the bat, Vanessa says “huh-huh,” but Bethany likes that he brought her roses. They head to an art gallery where he explains he used to do ceramics. Bethany says she’s more into guys that are tough and into sports.

Iyanla brings Rachael a present. She opens it to find a nurse’s hat – a gift celebrating Rachael being accepted to nursing school. Rachael is very excited about meeting her biological father the next day, and isn’t nervous as they have talked on the phone so many times already.

Iyanla is busy today, and meets back with Karen and shows her the reporters’ stories. First is an article with a picture of a young Karen holding her infant daughter with the headline, “A Perfect Fairy Tale.” Next up is the “reality” article. There is an odd picture on there where Karen looks like she is coming off a bender – make-up screwed up and all. The headline says, “Lies, Lies, Lies.” Iyanla has Karen read the story aloud and says that’s not the truth either. The real truth is somewhere in between.

It’s pointed out by Iyanla that the reason Karen draws her daughter’s wrath is because she has wrath for herself. Iyanla explains Karen has a week to mourn these two stories, and then she is done with them.

Bethany’s third blind date, Justin, arrives and Rachael talks her into wearing a skirt. This one, Bethany says, is more her style. They go to a restaurant where they need to sit on the floor. Bethany says she picked the wrong time to wear a skirt, and Justin points out he doesn’t mind too much. He is a songwriter and says she’s a hopeless romantic, definitely hopeless. he likes that Bethany laughs at her jokes.

After the date, Justin takes Bethany home and gives her a hug and his number. She tells the girls in the house she liked him the most. I bet he would love to hear her beautiful voice singing one of his songs. Bethany notes the difference between the Bethany who thought no one in all of Los Angeles would want to kiss her and the one that just got done having three dates in one day.

Bethany was right about all of her first impressions of her dates. The women were for the most part correct about their first impressions of each other. I, so far, am correct on my first impressions of Tess and Karen. I really want to change my mind about Tess, but she’s making it real tough.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Get the Hook! – American Idol, 04-05-05


by LauraBelle

Classical musicals night on American Idol, and Ryan is wearing a shirt that I first thought was a skeleton shirt. Upon closer inspection I see it’s white tornado whirls going vertically down one side of the black shirt, and white lettering going down the opposite sleeve. Truly, very odd.

As Ryan is shown telling the singers last week what the theme is for this week, he gives clues that only Constantine gets. Finally they all pick up on it. Bo, in particular, does not look pleased.

Scott Savol is up first. Looking for help choosing a song he called his mom who suggested Impossible Dream from Man of La Mancha. I think he is better tonight than most recently, and when I look at him, I can’t help but think of the news reports of him and his earlier domestic violence arrest. I liked him a lot before, and wish I didn’t know that about him. Between that and the stuff with his father, he has a lot of sadness going on in his life. Randy tells him that was a pretty tough song to sing and was shaky in parts. He found it boring, although it ended with a bang. Paula finds it interesting how Scott always seems to find songs that fit his life. She calls it the most heartfelt so far, and says it proves you should always listen to your mother. Simon calls the ending more of a tap than a bang.

Up next is Constantine Maroulis choosing My Funny Valentine from Babes In Arms and also by Frank Sinatra in Pal Joey. I just think of Janice singing it to Chandler in Friends. He is vocally awesome, and proves he has more than looks. Randy tells him he never bought the rocker thing, and this is the best he has ever sang anything. Paula gives him a standing O and says the first step is admitting it. She is falling in love with him. I don’t believe she is alone. Simon says he thinks the difference in Constantine is he is growing in confidence. And for good reason, Simon.

Carrie Underwood chooses Hello Young Lovers from The King and I because she wants to prove she can do something different. Yes, she can do different, but it just didn’t seem special enough to me. Randy tells her it was a boring song but she sang it in tune. At this point we’re supposed to honor someone that can sing in tune? Personally, looking for slightly more than that Randy. Paula calls her a well-oiled machine and Simon says the song was a bit too old-fashioned and uses some odd analogy about “1965 washing machine soap powder.” Paula has a good time making fun of Simon for using a term such as soap powder.

Vonzell Solomon sings People from Funny girl after hearing it for the first time last week. She calls it challenging and says it took her three hours to choose a song, and wants to show her range. She shows her range needs a little work still, and her outfit looks designed to match Ryan’s. Randy thinks she is getting better every week, and Paula calls it a bold choice, noting she sang in the exact same key as Barbra Streisand. Simon says it left him cold and a little clinical.

The oddest song choice of the night award goes to Anthony Federov, for choosing Climb Every Mountain from Sound of Music. Really, why would a guy choose a song sung by the Mother Superior? He sounds breathy and looks like he raided a 70s teen idol’s closet. Randy calls it flat and sharp and all over the place. Paula likes how he made it more of a pop song, and Simon can only call it hideous before Ryan cuts him off and yanks Anthony off the stage. Only thing more they needed was the giant hook.

Nikko Smith sings One Hand, One Heart form West Side Story. I do not like it. I do not get the Nikko love with the judges as I see Randy and Paula nodding along. Simon is either nodding along as well, mocking the other two or puking. Randy likes how Nikko always keeps it contemporary, and Paula calls him the comeback kid, noting that West Side Story has always been her favorite musical. Simon notices a habit forming in this competition of a big note at the end so that everyone forgets the rest of the song wasn’t as good. Yes!! I’m so glad someone pointed that out.

Picking If Ever I would Leave You from Camelot, Anwar Robinson sounds the best he has since Wonderful World. This is truly his genre. Randy says welcome back, Baby, and calls Anwar one of the best voices there. Paula agrees he’s the best singer technically and Simon says he seems very comfortable, and is interrupted by Ryan once again yanking someone away. What is it with Ryan tonight? Maybe he’s so embarrassed of his shirt he wants to end the show as soon as he can.

Bo Bice says this was not a favorite week for him with genre, and literally closed his eyes, and pointed at a song in the book, then crossed his fingers. He ends up with Corner of the Sky from Pippin. I have to say he is surprisingly not bad with this, although if I had to choose one of the rockers for a musical, I would choose Boston Conservatory-trained Constantine. Randy tells him that once again, he was consistently great. Paula says he can cross his toes, legs, it doesn’t matter. He is a winner. Simon believes Bo has had two bad weeks and is loudly booed. Just because Constantine did better does not mean it was a bad week for Bo.

The last to sing is Nadia Turner who chooses As Long As He Needs Me from Oliver! She looks very sultry in a white slinky dress. She has the best facial expressions as she sings. Her face and Constantine’s eyes in a duet would be so much to watch we wouldn’t hear the song. She does pretty well with this, and it might be enough to keep her around another week. I missed what Randy said, but Paula calls it beautiful and Simon says she did the best she has in a few weeks. He then says the show shouldn’t let Ryan choose the musical themes anymore. Are these two having a tiff tonight?

This was a very tough genre. A few did phenomenally well, a few did okay and didn’t lose ground, and some did awful. I predict there will be one woman and two of four guys in the bottom three tomorrow. I predict it will be Nadia and two of Anthony, Nikko, Scott or Anwar. Probably Anthony is leaving. He has been in the bottom before, and did not have a good night. I feel cheated not being allowed to hear all Simon’s comments.

I also need to add in here a quick thank you to Annie for filling in for me last week while I was on vacation. Reading her recap I never once felt the need to borrow Ryan’s hook.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Milking It – The Amazing Race 7, Episode 6

Milking It The Amazing Race 7 Episode 6

by LauraBelle

The producers of The Amazing Race must have been listening to us. We have been complaining for years about the equalizers in the race. Having something not open til a certain time in the morning or a flight that everyone is going to catch timewise, allowing everyone a chance to get caught up and bunched up again. Throughout the whole show tonight, they stayed in Botswana, Africa. It did seem to make the show more exciting.

Ron and Kelly are the first to leave at 5:29 AM and are to drive one hundred and forty miles to the Sankuyo Village where they will find a water tower with their next clue. Kelly says she was reading the love chapter in her bible last night, subbing her name for the word love. Kelly is always patient and kind, etc. Ron says he hasn’t been thinking about their relationship the entire race. This spells trouble.

Leaving next is Rob and Amber, with Amber saying it is so great to do this and have the good time they are having. She realizes they are blessed. Rob talks of having no friends left in the game. Their previous allies, Uchenna and Joyce leave next, with Uchenna saying his father is a Nigerian.

As Lynn and Alex leave, Alex notes they play differently. Good and honest. They play the game; they just do it sneaky without cheating. Maybe it’s just me, but if you’re being sneaky, you aren’t being totally honest.

Meredith and Gretchen are just happy to still be in it after going through a non-elimination round last week and Brian and Greg leave just after them, realizing that they need to take Meredith and Gretchen out, since they are their biggest competition right now. At least I finally figured out which was Brian and which was Greg.

Driving to the water tower, Rob notes it must be about one-hundred forty degrees out. As an ostrich crosses the road in front of them, Amber notes how it’s anything but a normal animal passing like they would have with deer. They feel they are among the luckiest people in the world to be on this race.

Ron and Kelly get to the water tower first and find a Detour – Carry It or Milk It. In Carry It, teams need to balance and carry three separate things on their heads without using their hands. In Milk It the teams need to pick out some goats, tie them up and milk them until they fill a ten ounce cup. Ron and Kelly first decide to milk the goats then change their minds to Carry It. The villagers laugh at Ron attempting this and when Kelly can’t do it at all, he gets upset with her. He feels being an ex ballerina she should be able to do it pretty well. She points out she didn’t balance buckets of water on her head when she was doing pirouettes.

Rob and Amber arrive and choose Milk It. Then once they see Ron and Kelly there they switch to Carry It. Rob looks over at the villagers doing it so effortlessly and jokes for them to stop showing off. He tries to carry a basket of corn and drops it all over. They switch back to the goats.

Brian and Greg, trying to make up time, make it worse when they go to the wrong water tower. Meredith and Gretchen had done that a little earlier as well, but had found their mistake quickly and moved on. Brian and Greg spend some time there trying to figure out where they went wrong. They even climb the tower looking for the clue before they reread the last clue that indicates they need to drive through the first town with the water tower.

Meredith and Gretchen arrive and decide to do Milk It. Gretchen says to look for goats with nice big teats. The ten-year-old in me giggles every time I hear that word. Ron and Kelly finish and receive a clue telling them to drive to the marker at the Khwai River. Rob and Amber finish and are on their way as well. Amber thinks the difference between she and Rob and Ron and Kelly is that Ron and Kelly don’t seem to have any teamwork. I’ll agree to that with the difference in how they see their relationship.

Lynn and Alex, just like the others before them, try the balancing first and move on to milking the goats. When they goats won’t organize themselves to be caught by Lynn, he says, “Hey! Stop it. Seriously!” to them. I was waiting, but he never called them biyatches. As they watch Meredith and Gretchen finish and get their next clue, they predict they’ll get lost because they’re so stupid. After making a joke about how many gay guys it takes to milk a goat, they finish the task.

Uchenna and Joyce arrive and are the only ones to be able to carry the items on their head. Originally I believed Lynn and Alex were doing some racial stereotyping when they noted Uchenna and Joyce were born to do this, but even Uchenna notes the villagers where his dad is from do the same thing, and figures that is why he did it easily.

As everyone else has left, Brian and Greg arrive at the Detour and choose to milk the goats. Lynn and Alex run into some bad luck when their car dies, and must wait for a replacement. I honestly don’t remember seeing as many broken down vehicles before as I have during this race.

All the racers are ecstatic to see various animals such as elephants, warthogs, zebras and giraffes. Gretchen pronounces herself now happy.

Ron and Kelly arrive at the Khwai River first and find a Roadblock. One member of each team needs to navigate their car through a crocodile-infested river, choose a route, remove the marked post, then drive through, removing all the fallen logs along the way by hooking them up to the cars and dragging them clear. Ron decides to do this task. Rob and Amber arrive shortly after and Rob will do the driving. Rob and Amber remove the logs much quicker and are the first to finish the task. They now need to drive themselves to the pit stop at the Khwai River Lodge.

Ron and Kelly follow behind a short time after, and she is quite upset at Ron’s treatment of her. She claims he said “Shut the F up.” He says he did not. She refers to him as a piece of trash redneck. Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. Resorting to name-calling rarely solves the problem. She then points out to the camera how she did not point out all of Ron’s errors this day, but Ron made sure to point out all of hers. She is right about that.

Uchenna and Joyce arrive, and while Uchenna initially gets the car stuck in the river, he gets it out quickly. As they choose a route, they make a critical error and only remove the ribbon from the post instead of removing the whole post. They finish, or so they think, and are on their way to the pit stop.

Meredith drives for he and Gretchen. They drive right past the next clue, and not knowing what else to do, follow the route markers to the pit stop.

After receiving a replacement vehicle, in a surprise move, Alex drives for he and Lynn, since Lynn has already done so many Roadblocks. The funny thing is it doesn’t seem like Alex knows how to drive stick, and Lynn coaches him from behind the whole way. Their luck hits rock bottom as they get a flat tire and need yet another replacement vehicle. Once they get their second replacement, finish, and are on their way to the pit stop, Lynn makes a touching comment, saying even if they come in last, he knows Alex did something that was super-hard for him and that is awesome.

Ron and Kelly try to make it a foot-race between them and Rob and Amber at the pit stop, but Rob and Amber win easily. Not only are they in first place, but they have won a trip to Monte Carlo. As Ron and Kelly come in second, Ron and Rob shake hands.

Phil tells Uchenna and Joyce they arrived in third place, but didn’t complete the last task. He instructs them to go back and figure out where they went wrong. On their way back, they read the clue again, and realize they need to grab the whole post, not just the ribbon. As they arrive back with Phil again, they are shocked to learn they are still in third place. Uchenna shouts out a celebratory, “Africa!”

As Meredith and Gretchen arrive in fourth, Phil asks them how they got there without their clue. They admit they couldn’t find it and followed the route markers. He instructs them to go back and find the clue. Lynn and Alex figured they are in last place on their way in. While Lynn is driving, Alex puts on as many of their clothes as he can, fearing a non-elimination leg and having all their bags taken away like Meredith and Gretchen. They finish in fourth while Gretchen and Meredith are looking for their clue.

Brian and Greg are racing through the Roadblock with Greg doing the driving for the first time in the race. They are doing so well, Brian suggests he should have been driving all along. They figure they are last, but aren’t sure. Hoping for a non-elimination leg, they decide to put on their swim trunks and ski hats, daring Phil to eliminate them or take away their bags while they are wearing that get-up.

It’s a race to see who will get back for fifth place – Meredith and Gretchen or Brian and Greg. Meredith and Gretchen come in fifth, while she pronounces them old Energizer bunnies. Phil laughs as Brian and Greg run in in their get-ups, but eliminates them nonetheless. They say they are best friends, not only brothers, and feel this was a great bonding experience for them.

There were no equalizers on this leg of the race, so Brian and Greg never had much of a chance, but once Lynn and Alex had a car break down on them not once, but twice, and two separate teams screwed up getting the last task done, it game them some hope, only to have them eliminated anyway. I am sorry to see them go, but I would be sorry to see almost anyone leave at this point, save for Ron and Kelly. They really need to get that relationship thing settled. They seem to be on opposite sides of the spectrum.

I also want to add a quick thank you here to Carrie for filling in for me for not just one hour, but two hours of The Amazing Race last week while I was on vacation. It was most appreciated.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com


Reunited and Joe Feels So Good: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Texas Episode 3.11

–Christina M. Rau/GatsbyGirl

Still in the Lone Star State which means the SUV still has some big scary horns on its hood. They yeehaw to Joe of Fort Worth who plays guitar at a nursing home and is married to Penny who was 300 lbs but had gastric bypass. She’s a musician too. They have a baby named River which Jai says is more like Creek because he’s 9 months old. Joe hasn’t seen his dad in 20 years and the Fab Five are appalled. Even more appalling and challenging is that Joe is color blind. The mission: A long overdue family reunion.

Credits. Eagle-eyed credit watchers will note that all the men on the billboards as well as some of the background buildings have been Texified.

The Fab Five surprise Joe at work. They pull up to a nursing home filled with wheelchairs and old people. Joe is in purple scrubs and wears goggles and a hot dog on his head. He’s singing a song that repeats the lyrics are “I wonder where my hot dog is.” Could this be any sadder or is that just me? Ted tries on a fuzzy purple hat. Kyan plays the tambourine like that little girl in the Partridge Family. They grab Joe, who has lots of facial hair and weird head hair, and go to his little white house with yellow trim and a bush outside.

They step into the house with Hairy Joe in the lead and they yell a simultaneous “Ohhhhh!” Very white walls and furniture. A typical wood entertainment center. Semi-sparse.

Jai grabs a lawn gnome that’s on a shelf and they claim that the resemblance to Hairy Joe is uncanny. Well, if Joe had on a red pointy hat….

In comes the wife and baby. Penny is a soccer mom type with short dark hair and a pretty pink button down blouse. Baby River is ADORABLE!!

Ted then runs his fingers through Hairy Joe’s spiky hair and asks if he’s using hair care products. Hairy Joe says a little bit. Ted answers, “Really??”

Kyan asks the wife what she wants him to do to Hairy Joe and the wife answers, “New haircut.” Kyan immediately drops the whole gay thing and steals Hairy Joe’s wife because she understands it’s all about the hair. Well, not really. But he’s happy she wants Hairy Joe to have new hair.

Meanwhile, Thom, baby, and Jai find a room behind curtains that is strictly for the refrigerator and Hairy Joe’s clothes. Okay, then.

Ted finds lots of canned soup in the cupboard. “These people are lazy.” Can we say judgmental?

Carson inspects a tattoo on Hairy Joe’s ankle. It’s a Chinese symbol. Carson thinks it translates to chicken fried rice. HJ says that they told him it means guitar. Carson insists chicken fried rice. “You were duped!” Heehee.

Kyan tries on some glasses and says he feels as if he’s walking down a tunnel. He grabs onto a wall to steady himself. Heehee. Penny says they’re Joe’s glasses. They look like the X-Ray glasses advertised on the back of comic books.

Carson finds clothes with monkeys on them and Hairy Joe says that’s his nickname. Then Carson makes some flying monkey jokes that I don’t quite find amusing but Hairy Joe laughs away. I think he’s easily amused.

Ted finds a tray of what looks like old pizza. He asks if it’s low carb. It’s not appetizing and it was probably frozen at one point. Heehee.

Jai finds a mask and scares the crap out of Carson. It’s like a Jason mask meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s a scary mask that I never want to see again. Ever. Hairy Monkey Joe laughs and laughs at how Carson got scared.

Outside, Thom tugs at a leaf and tells Penny, “You could use a little landscaping.” Penny’s like, yeah, I know.

Ted tries on shiny pants and calls himself MC Hammer. They’re not really diaper pants like MC Hammer wore but it’s still funny. He does a little dance step, ending with the whisper, “Fierce!” Heehee.

They find some fat Penny pictures and are like, Wow. Because what else can you say about someone who lost like 200 lbs?

Then there’s a close-up of a fish who has seen better days. He seems to be saying, “Please let me out of this murky water!”

Over in the bedroom, Thom finds Penny’s bra and is impressed. Carson says that she could “hoist up buildings with it.”

Meanwhile, Kyan dresses River in a white feather boa and then rubs the boa in River’s nose. Penny giggles. River is unimpressed.

Carson sits on the porch swing with Hairy Monkey Joe and discusses his dad with him. They basically lost touch. He started another family. HMJ has half siblings.

In the kitchen, Thom and Ted ask Penny what happened to the chairs. They have weird drippy stains on them. Ted asks, “Was somebody murdered here?” Wouldn’t it be funny if someone was? Then what would Ted say? Not that murder is funny, but you know. In any case. Penny has no clue how those stains got there. I have a pillow in my car that has a mystery stain on it. I’d like to think that all mystery stains are either coffee or chocolate. That lets me sleep at night.

Kyan inspects HMJ’s teeth. He asks if HMJ either smokes or has coffee. HMJ says coffee. Kyan tells him that he has coffee haze on his teeth. That’s nice.

Thom and Jai throw chunky white chairs onto the front lawn. They say, “These are terrible.” Ha.

Ted looks through Penny’s fat pictures when she was swimming on her honeymoon. Ted says she looks good with a snorkel. Now that’s a compliment you don’t hear every day. Kyan says that she looks great now. Her hair and make-up are cute. Wow, Kyan actually approves of something.

Over in the living room, there’s a tangle of wires in and around the fireplace. Thom asks, “How does Santa Claus get in here?” Instead of worrying about pretend children’s characters, perhaps they should worry about an electrical fire. HMJ says he forgot he had a fireplace because the entertainment center blocks it.

In the kitchen, Jai wants Eggos but doesn’t know how to cook them. He throws one into the oven. Ha.

HMJ gives River and Penny kisses as they leave. Carson says that he’ll look a lot better when she gets back.

Then Kyan asks HMJ if he’s mad at his dad. HMJ says no. He thinks that it takes two people to make and break relationships. Kyan’s like, are you sure there’s no animosity? It’s as if he wants there to be anger. Kyan, quit it. You irk me this season.

Meanwhile, Thom has a tantrum in River’s play pen. Carson leans over and consoles him. Thom may get stuck in that playpen. His knees are up to his chin. Hee. And man, can he scream. It’s funny because while Kyan and HMJ were having they’re very serious conversation, you can hear this ruckus going in the background and when you finally see it, it just all makes sense.

HMJ sings a song he wrote for his dad. This song does not contain lyrics about a hot dog nor does HMJ wear a hot dog hat. Jai thinks it’s awesome.

Now Carson has found the thick glasses. Thom keeps calling him Ted. Heehee. Thom is so into making fun of Ted.

The real Ted has HMJ in the kitchen, telling him that he should be prepared to cook for 15 people. HMJ is very hesitant and petrified. Ted is pretty much like, too bad, you’re cooking, so there. Get tough, Ted.

The scary mask? Is back in the bathroom. Shaving. Scary.

Carson springs a “quick color blind test” on HMJ. He lays out all different colored fabrics on the floor and points to them one at a time. The test goes a little something like this:
Carson: “What color is this?”
HMJ: “Green.”
Carson: “Good.”
HMJ: “Blue?”
Carson: “Teal!”
HMJ: “Blue or black?”
Carson: “Blue!”
HMJ: “Blue?”
Carson: “Lavender!”
HMJ: “Yellow?”
Carson: “Red!”

Meanwhile, Jai and Thom are in the bathroom still grooming the scary mask. The scary mask that I said I never wanted to see again. Ever.

In the bedroom, Carson tells HMJ to pull out something he’ll wear to the reunion party. Not much to wear party-wise. He goes through HMJ’s closet and finds heavy tweed jackets. He thinks that the tweed will be too heavy for the party. He also finds t-shirts and cargo shorts. And that’s pretty much it.

Thom tells HMJ, “I think you will agree that this house lame is pitiful. And the fish? Can we kill it? It’s in a cesspool of filth. You eat next to that?” The fish is in foggy water. You can barely see the poor fish. Ew. HMJ laughs laughs laughs because he knows it’s pitifully true.

Carson finds family photos and HMJ’s dad looks a lot like HMJ.

HMJ’s friend interviews that he doesn’t believe that HMJ has no animosity towards his father. Has he been talking to Kyan? Why does everyone want all the drama?

In the SUV, HMJ says he’s very excited and wants to show his dad that he’s had a wonderful life. He doesn’t want anyone to feel bad. His dad, his mother, his step-father, and all his siblings and half-siblings will be at the party. That’s a lot of people.

At the furniture store, they do some obligatory sofa sitting. Thom makes fun of HMJ’s style of matching all the furniture because he finds one piece that he likes and then buys the whole set. They find an off-white sofa. They move on to coffee tables. One has storage space. Thom says that they can add water and put the poor fish in it. Ha.

Obligatory chair sitting on striped chairs. Cool. Then some leather chairs. They’re going for a bungalow look. Then they talk about Penny meeting the dad for the first time because the furniture store is the most appropriate place for that conversation.

Over to Ted and Penny as they race around human-sized veggies at the market. Ted calls it “veggie slalom.” Heehee. Ted is showing them food that isn’t in a can. He sends HMJ to get avocados and HMJ asks if they’re all one color. Because he’s color blind. See how that’s the running joke?

They drive shopping carts over to seafood. Actually, they race them and Penny loses. The seafood guy says that fish should smell like the ocean and not the dock and the eyes should be red. Gross. They buy fish to feed 15 people.

Over to the mall and Carson, who is mall walking. They look at some “nicer” clothes. Weird voice-over stuff is happening here and I’m disturbed because all we see is HMJ’s face smiling and Carson’s hands and a striped shirt moving through the air. Weird. Okay, they dress HMJ up in a black suit with brown suede shoes. He gives him a camel blazer. Very nice. Some reflective sunglasses. Questionable. He looks good, though.

Kyan brings HMJ to Todd Allen, his very best hair friend. Kyan tells HMJ that his hair has interesting texture and they had to call in a special stylist to shave him. Kyan is getting a haircut too! Kyan’s excited: “I’ve never had a haircut with a straight guy before!” HMJ says, “I’ve never had a haircut with a gay guy before.” So it’s a first for both of them.

HMJ gets shaved and looks about 20 years younger. Then he gets his hair styled as Kyan talks to him about his dad and River. Haircut finished and it seems fuller on top.

HMJ meets up with Jai at a saloon with Shawn Colvin. HMJ is a big fan and has goosebumps. Jai says that Colvin’s greatest hits CD is out and she should listen and critique HMJ’s song. She has a greatest hits CD? I know one song of hers and I’m not really sure if it’s her. Sonny Came Home? Anyone? Anyway, they play guitars and sing and Jai joins in with no guitar.

HMJ’s friend interviews that bad feelings may lead to disaster at the reunion.

IN the SUV, Kyan suggests that HMJ will learn about himself. Jai says that he took HMJ’s fish to the aquarium for a better home. Carson says that they’re making his place Wowtown.

They’ve painted the door red and did lots and lots of landscaping. The living room walls are yellow with wood trim on the windows. A white brick fireplace with an orange-brown picture over it. A flatscreen tv mounted on the wall. White couches, striped and leather chairs.

The dining room is orange-red with a dark wood table and zen-green dishware.

Back to the porch, Thom plugs the landscapers and painting company. It’s bungalow style with white rocking chairs. There’s a Texas flag made of wood on the wall next to the door.

In the kitchen, Ted has about a thousand ingredients out on the counter. Olive oil, garlic, capers, tomatoes, Sheri vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, olives, chicken stock, cumin, lime juice, and avocado. And that’s just the sauce! They put it over the fish and put it all in the oven. But that’s not all! Corn, black beans, carrots, green onions, basil, and cilantro. I hate cilantro. It tastes like my foot. Not that I’ve ever tasted my foot but I imagine that it’s what cilantro tastes like.

Fashion time. Thom is inside the coffee table in the living room for some reason. They put HMJ in non-cargo shorts where they can see his knees. Carson says it makes him look taller. He wears shorts and a long sleeved shirt which some people think you can’t do but you so can. He puts on a suit. Then a “Tex in the City” outfit. Carson also gives him a sweater to give to Penny.

Kyan takes him into the bathroom to show him products. Most of them are herbal. And out come the Crest White Strips Premium. He tells him to brush his teeth after he uses them but I don’t think you’re supposed to brush afterwards. Whatever. He won’t have hazy teeth anymore.

Next they go into the living room where Kyan teaches HMJ how to massage a rubber baby doll. This is very disturbing. It’s a way to bond with River. Moving on.

Jai, who Kyan calls Jai Bird, teaches HMJ how to wrap a present using double-sided tape. They’re running out of things for Jai to do. They cut and tie ribbon. Pretty. And now, Jai the Instrument Fairy gives HMJ a new guitar. Then Jai the Instrument Fairy gets a hug. He then tells HMJ that he knows what it’s like to not have a father and that HMJ has the best opportunity ahead of him.

The Fab Five gather in the living room to give HMJ stuff for the baby. Then they tell HMJ to have fun. HMJ appreciates the education he got from them and thanks them. They all cheers and then leave. Thom gives HMJ an extra-lingering hug.

Hip Tip: Thom says to move furniture on towels so you don’t scratch the floor. Or just leave your furniture where it is.

HMJ’s brother interviews that the reunion is something they need.

Over on the Critic Couch, the FF are all nervous for HMJ. HMJ cooks. He chops one scallion at a time. Carson says, “I don’t think you’re supposed to put the dirty roots into the mix.” Ted says, “no, you’re not.” He’s not very good at chopping. Jai thinks they’ll need the ER soon. Or a maid. He’s made a mess out of everything. HMJ smirks to himself. Fortunately, the final product looks delicious.

Next, he wraps a bunch of presents and puts the double-sided tape on the outside of present. The FF notice that he’s laughing to himself so he knows he’s making a mess of it all.

Then he tries to get dressed. Carson hopes that he’s putting on an in-between outfit because he’s not wearing anything that Carson told him to. They all think this is becoming a disaster.

Penny comes home and giggles with glee. She gets teary and then tearier when she walks inside. “I can’t believe this is our house!” She loves loves loves the wall unit that has replaced the fish tank.

HMJ gives her a present. He says, “It’s a camisole.” Carson is excited that he knows that new word.

Then HMJ grabs the baby for a bonding experience. River keeps crawling away. HMJ says, “Okay then we’ll do your back.” Baby keeps crawling away. Thom crawls across the Critic Chairs to imitate the baby. Heehee. Kyan’s like, “He’s not having it,” as the baby crawls away again. Kyan laughs and keels over onto Thom. River grabs for a pillow and HMJ drags him back again. HMJ settles for bouncing him for a bit.

Penny comes out in the cami and cardigan. HMJ tells her she’s gorgeous. The FF think they’re good together.

HMJ then tries to open wine. He tries to twist it off. Then Penny tries. Ted says, “I feel bad. I didn’t think I had to teach them this.” They finally figure out how to use the corkscrew but she breaks the cork off instead. The Fab Five are exasperated. Jai throws himself down on the couch.

Mom, step-dad, and others arrive but Penny and HMJ are still in the kitchen. Thom sneers, “Let’s hope they don’t like wine.” Carson calls out, “Hello! There are people in your house.” They all love the house and think HMJ looks great. Penny’s family arrives and has the same happy reactions. Kyan loves that they are so “Texas.”

Then the dad arrives with the step-siblings. HMJ opens the door with a “Hey, how’s it going? Thanks for coming. This is amazing. Hey, what’s going on?” Hugs. Hugs. And then? HMJ cries and leans against the step-brother. He weeps, “Introduce yourselves!” and everyone kind of looks at him all weird like he’s crying as if he’s meeting his father for the first time in twenty years or something! Jeez. The FF yell, “Someone hug him!” Finally, the step-brother hugs him.

The dad meets River and Penny. Kyan says, “Oh he’s meeting his grandson for the first time!” Thanks MOTO.

Then HMJ needs to check the fish. Ted says, “I’m so upset that they have to worry about the food.” That’s the first time he’s said that. HMJ tries to check the fish but then cries into his oven mitt. Penny says, “It’s okay,” and hugs him. She takes the mitts and then cries her way through checking the fish. Penny says, “I wish Ted were here to check the fish.” The FF love Penny. Because she cries too and check the fish for HMJ.

They wind up in the living room. HMJ says, “So tell me what you’ve been doing for the last twenty years!” The FF are happy that they’re approaching this with a sense of humor. The dad says that he’s been working for the government. Ted says, “That’s where he’s been! He’s a spy!” Heehee.

Out on to the porch where HMJ sings the song he wrote. Everyone loves it. Then it’s one-on-one time. They talk about poor communication skills. The dad says that he wouldn’t trade it for anything and that’s he’s missed him and they love each other. Carson sighs, “Huggage!” and the FF awwww.

Thom thinks they reconnected because HMJ took charge. Ted says, “It’s never too late.” They toast to courage and new beginnings.

A monkey musician becomes a happy host to a long lost dad. And hopefully he’ll never wear a hot dog hat again.

Still no tips. Perhaps the guys are flying back.

Email me: Christina@realityshack.com Is it right to take advantage of the color blind?

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