This wasn’t the most exciting episode I have watched of The Amazing Race. This group of teams doesn’t seem to have the great sound bytes the past two seasons had, and the challenges were less than thrilling. We watched as they shined shoes, and later made a choice between shopping and stocking bookshelves. Without the cunningness of Rob, and the fact that I finally figured out that the redhead was Debbie and not Bianca, we would have nothing to show for the evening.
The ten remaining teams are set to take off from Cuzco, Peru. First to leave at 10:54 PM in a downpour are Debbie and Bianca. They know they aren’t the most physical, but feel one of their strengths will be their mental game. The first clue tonight sends them to the bus terminal to catch a bus to Arequipa, Peru. The bus station doesn’t open until 5:30 AM, and the first bus isn’t until 6:20, so they have a wait before them.
Next to leave are mother/son team, Susan and Patrick, who believe they are much smarter than people give them credit for. Not exactly a good thing to admit out loud, guys. Rob and Amber leave shortly after, and Amber readily admits Rob is the smarter of the two. At least she admits it.
At the bus station Rob gets insider information from a security guard that the first bus to leave is the last to arrive. He pays him not to share the info with anyone else, but decides he himself will share it with Uchenna and Joyce and Ray and Deana.
Brian and Gregg and Lynn and Alex leave next, with Alex saying they want to show the edgy side and maybe a little butch as well to their personalities. Leaving next are Meredith and Gretchen, with Gretchen saying they work well together even though she is very emotional. They are followed in order by Ray and Deana, Uchenna and Joyce, Megan and Heidi, and Ron and Kelly.
At the station, Alex is miffed because the security guard tells him he can’t help. Apparently Rob looks like the cat that ate the canary, and everyone realizes Rob has paid the security guard. He says he didn’t do that, and is accused of being a liar. It’s brought up that Megan and Heidi lied last time while digging in the sand for flight times, but everyone feels this is different. Someone quips that it’s a good thing people don’t get voted off this show, and Rob winks at the camera.
Gretchen calls the ten-hour bus ride beautiful, with all teams now on the same bus. Brian and Meredith find they have sparks with each other. Rob collects money from Uchenna and Joyce and Ray and Deana and pays the driver to only open the door in front at the stop. What the others don’t know is he didn’t bother to chip in himself.
At the Shoe Shine Union in Arequipa, the clue asks, “Who likes shoes?” As a Road Block, one person from each team must shine five pairs of shoes for one Peruvian sole for each finished shine and turn the earnings in to receive the next clue. The first five done receive tickets for the first flight to Santiago, Chile where they will then find the statue of the Virgin Mary.
Amber, Ray, Ron, Uchenna, Lynn, Megan, Susan, Debbie, Gretchen and Brian all participate in this Road Block. The only amusing thing that takes place during this is that Gretchen can’t seem to shine the shoes without getting black shoe polish all over the socks at the same time. Ron and Kelly, Ray and Deana, Rob and Amber, Susan and Patrick, and Meredith and Gretchen are the first five teams dome, and will get the first flight to Santiago. Megan and Heidi, Uchenna and Joyce, Debbie and Bianca, Brian and Gregg, and Lynn and Alex are the last five and will be on the second flight. There’s nothing more to say about it. It was THAT exciting.
At the top of the Statue of the Virgin Mary, they find a Detour, saying they must choose between Shop and Schlep. For Shop, the teams will need to travel to a restaurant to get a recipe, buy the ingredients at the market and deliver them to a chef. In Schlep, they need to go to a bookstore, load up 180 books, and deliver them to the Library of Congress. Wow, a little too much excitement for me.
Susan and Patrick run into trouble when they don’t have enough cash to get to the top of the statue. They have to go out and borrow money from tourists just to continue. It has to be noted here that Patrick thought he could easily outsmart Rob. Rob tricked others into offering money to bribe the bus driver and currently is in first place at the challenge, and Patrick is borrowing money just to continue. Hmmm.
Rob and Amber arrive at the bookstore first. Rob, working in construction previously, knows how to stack and balance the books on the dolly to only take one trip. All the other teams that choose Schlep; Ron and Kelly, Ray and Deana, Debbie and Bianca, Brian and Gregg; take two trips. Kelly believes this is a mistake, but Ron won’t listen to her.
Uchenna and Joyce, Lynn and Alex, Meredith and Gretchen, Megan and Heidi, and Susan and Patrick all decide to shop. Gretchen is upset because it smells like fish in there, and is then shocked to find they need to pay for these ingredients. They have no more money, and the man selling the fish eventually decides to donate it.
Susan and Patrick run out of money again and realize this is why the others chose the books, as now they have to beg for money again to move on. Right, but Rob is the dumb one. Patrick eventually sells a flower for the money to buy the fish.
The fish needed for the recipe needs to be exactly three kilograms. First Lynn is grossed out, not wanting to hold the fish (as would I, Lynn!), then the fish they grab falls just short of three kilograms, and they run back to the market and complain that they cheated them out on the size of the fish. When the merchants refuse to accept blame, Lynn and Alex call them “bitches” and storm off. Eventually they get a better-sized fish somewhere else.
At Cerra Santa Lucia, the statue of Neptune, the teams will find the second pit stop of the race. Coming in first are Rob and Amber. They win a trip from Travelocity. I wonder what happened to American Airlines sponsoring this. Ron and Kelly, Ray and Deana, Uchenna and Joyce, Lynn and Alex, Debbie and Bianca, Meredith and Gretchen, and Susan and Patrick come in second through eighth place. The last two teams, Brian and Gregg and Megan and Heidi are stuck in traffic. Brian and Gregg finally abandon their cab and run in instead. The come in in ninth place. Coming in just moments after are Megan and Heidi, and they are eliminated, saying they are proud they never gave up. I never did figure out which was which.
Let’s review, shall we? Last week Patrick said he’d watched Survivor and Rob was “dumb as a rock,” causing Patrick to make it his mission to eliminate Rob and Amber form the race. Currently Rob and Amber are in the lead, and Susan and Patrick are in eighth after running out of money twice. Hmm.
I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com
John Stinks – Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
–Christina M. Rau/GatsbyGirl
The Fab Five do the SUV scurry. The guy this week is John, who Ted calls a frat boy. Kyan says he has BDJ—bad dye job. Already he’s started in with the hair without even meeting the guy. John is a workaholic and has an online friend Emily coming to stay at his place. He’s also a recently promoted manager of the minor league baseball team in Staten Island. He needs to clean up for his job and a party. Ted suggests the mission is to take John from minor league loser to major league manager. Carson ups the ante and says, “Major league schmoozer!” Hooray.
Credits. Is Thom talking to Pier 1 on that cell phone?
And the boys invade the frat house. Carson calls out, “The Staten Island fairies are here!” John is a skinny All-American boy with a receding bleached hairline and a dirty baseball cap that covers the nasty blonde color. And I don’t quite understand the Hawaiian shirt and its relationship to his baseball job.
The guys corner John, and Carson unbuttons and removes John’s Hawaiian shirt. All the while, Ted asks in disbelief, “Are you really wearing that shirt?” They toss it out the window, which is the Queer Eye way to get rid of tacky things.
Now he’s left in a wife-beater, some gold man-jewelry around his neck, and his ugly hair, which the guys liken to plastic. Kyan’s reaction: “Holy Moley. Omigod!” John claims that someone told him it looked good. You should stop being friends with that person, John.
His place is NASTY. Your basic graying white walls but not your basic crap. It’s advanced crap. Piles of it. And not just dust bunnies. There are dust ducks and bears as well. A whole forest-ful of woodland dust creatures. Mismatched furniture abounds, including a fold-up metal Yankees chair. Oh, don’t be that guy, John. Thom says “the city would shut this down like a bad ferris wheel.” Heeheehee! Then Ted shows Thom that John has a Mexican blanket hanging on the wall to cover up a huge hole. Ted calls it “innovative decorative techniques.” Heeheehee!
Carson comes in from the bedroom closet all perplexed and asks John, “How do you explain this?!” while holding up a jersey that has Gay written across the back. John laughs uncomfortably as Kyan nods along with Carson, pondering John’s sexuality. Heehee. I love making straight-semi-homophobic men uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, Jai walks into the bedroom and ew ew oh oh ews.
Kyan and Carson are now scruffling up John’s hair. Kyan asks where the bleach is so he can make John’s back hair match the awful color on his head. Ha!
Pan over to the garbage pail that’s overflowing. It’s surrounded by bags and bags of garbage. Ted says that he hasn’t thrown out garbage “in like six years.” Ha. It must really stink in there. And are you supposed to put light bulbs in the regular garbage? I thought you couldn’t because of chemicals and the glass factor. But, believe it or not, I’ve been wrong before.
Jai comes in, suppressing panic-mode. He tells Ted that this is probably the worst straight-guy house he’s ever been in. Ted agrees.
Carson and Thom take John into the bedroom. Carson’s description: “It says romance but it smells like ass.” Heeheeheeeeee! This, by far, is the funniest episode all season.
Cut to Jai jumping and sprinting up and down in the living room. He chants, “I don’t like it here!” Heeheeheeeee! I don’t think Jai has ever been more endearing or amusing until this very moment. He is so skeeved.
The guys look at old pics of John. He actually looks really good in them. They tell him that he looks better with dark hair. I agree with them on that one. He reveals that he thought blonde would make the receding hairline seem less receding. Kyan, hair extraordinaire, guffaws and says no no no.
Over in the bathroom, Ted is pondering the existence of a rotten banana. “This shouldn’t be near the toilet.” He scrunches up his face. Jai does the same. Ted says, “It belongs IN the toilet” and he tosses it in. So gross.
Now John is wearing a red, short-sleeved button down with Hawaiian imagery on the front of it. He’s in the closet with Carson (sorry, I just can’t resist these closet puns). Ted appears with a huge gold ring thing hanging around his neck. Carson and Ted tell John that it’s as if Ted and John are going steady. Then Ted kneels, grabs John’s hand, and presses his head into John’s side, all lovey-dovey like. John skeeves, “Oh God no.” He’s so uncomfortable.
In another closet, Kyan dons a dinosaur-like mask. It’s scary and unnecessary.
Meanwhile, Thom is flipping out because his bare foot touched the carpet. Why he took his shoes off in the first place, I have no clue. But he’s hopping around as Jai did before, but he’s not chanting. He’s just bitter and pissed that his foot is now sticky. Ew.
Back over in the bedroom, Carson sits on John. John stands up to push Carson off his lap. Carson says, “You’re gonna hurt mother that way!” John sits back down, unimpressed.
Kyan asks Ted if John is giving “closed off body language.” Ted says yes, and he’s giving Carson the same thing “which is understandable.” I love how they all talk about Carson behind his back and he so knows that they do so it’s okay. They decide that John “has got some issues with the gays.” Ha!
John explains that he does on-field promotion at the games and he wears the Hawaiian shirts to get the crowd going. Yup, they’re a crowd pleaser.
Cut to Ted among the muck, calling John “The straightest guy who ever lived.”
And onto John’s feet. They stink really badly. Carson says they’re the worst he’s ever smelled and dumps a bottle of baby powder over the shoes. Next they make Jai smell the shoes and he literally swoons. Next up is Ted who says, “That’s not even human!” John explains that it only happens when he sweats and not when he wears sandals. Carson yells, “Sandals it is!”
Kyan confronts John in the bathroom and asks why he skeeves when they touch him. John says it’s not a gay thing. It’s a touch thing. He prefers not to be touched by anyone. So he’s a touch-phobe. Then Kyan asks about his online girlfriend and John yells, “She’s not an online girlfriend!” because he’s twelve and girls have cooties. He tells Kyan he’s known Emily for four years and therefore, she will sleep in his bed. His stinky bed. Carson says she’s 20 and impressionable and “she’s going to think everyone in New York lives like this!” The horror.
John then randomly confesses that he doesn’t treat his back well. He’s thrown it out a bunch of times. Relevance?
In the kitchen, Ted weeps over a fermented bottle of White Zin.
Over in the living room, Thom tells John that the house is “vile.” That’s one of my most favorite words ever. John says he doesn’t spend a lot of time in the house except to party so he doesn’t take care of it. Yet, one of his favorite things to read is Ultra Modern and Clean. Cut to Ted yelling for a shovel instead of a vacuum to clean the not-so-ultra-modern-or-clean frat house.
Jai then tells John that he has no method to his madness. He needs to take charge of the roommates and delegate chores to clean.
John does his on-field crowd rousing announcement for the FF. They love it. He’s really good at it. Too bad he smells. Ted then starts in on him about his food situation. It’s all fast food and convenience. Again, he’s not home much and that’s why. Ted asks if he has anything planned for Emily. John answers, “I’m not a big planner.” No! Then he mumble-laughs, “God, I need help.”
Elsewhere, Carson climbs into a laundry bag. With the dirty clothes. Ew. Seconds later he complains that he can’t breathe. Wonder why.
John’s sister interviews that his hair “doesn’t work” and “no one looks good in a Hawaiian shirt.” Smart woman.
In the SUV, Carson admits that they’ve been hard on him and he agrees. Thom pipes up, “Your house is disgusting!” Heehee. Rub it in.
They arrive at Nautica which offers a good color scheme because it’s all American, and has good fabrics for a dirty boy who is laundry-challenged and stain-prone. Carson says that the knit shirt is good for business casual. Knits come in three levels of class; from lowest to highest, they are pique, interlock, and jacard. And all are stain-resistant. Stains won’t penetrate. Carson says, “Sometimes penetration is bad.” Hee.
He puts John in medium shirts and John is shocked to learn that he shouldn’t wear extra-large shirts if mediums fit. Carson then explains that John’s feet stink because they’re squished into tiny shoes that make him sweat. Moral of the story: wear the proper size.
John moves on to a furniture store named NKYPLZK or something like that. Thom reiterates the whole disgusting, hideous, affordable house thing. He says that this store will be hip and affordable, which is a much better alternative. They start with a lamp that’s a person’s body with a lampshade-hat thing. They move on to a wooden wall unit. John likes the whole look, especially the colorful plates. Thom smiles and exclaims, “You’re getting it!”
Thom then insists on buying him a book about Turkish wrestlers. John thinks that Thom may find that more enjoyable for himself.
They move on to pillows. Then they need to find something for Emily. John says she’s punk. Thom is surprised but they find something punk.
Thom then sends John off to Ted, taking the opportunity to take a cheap shot at Ted by calling him old. For no reason other than to take a cheap shot.
Ted takes John to the Gourmet Garage, which is where he shops for his own food. The GG has pre-made, fresh meals. They look at soup which is freezable and travelable. Then they discuss organic beer—it really does exist. Cheese—it smells better than John’s feet. Sauces. And finally, Ted reveals that John will be making bruschetta. John says Emily will like it because she’s part Italian.
Over to Jai at Details because John has pubic hair soap and that’s never good for a houseguest. They sniff around the scented candles. Jai asks, “How do you want your bedroom to smell?” Without a beat, John says, “Good.” Ha! They decide on a rosemary sage scent. Jai inquires about the towel situation. John says that his towels are falling apart. Jai explains, “That’s when they become rags.” Heeheehee. I so love Jai this episode.
John meets up with Kyan at RoJo Salon, where Kyan used to work. And he got fired for Haircut OCD. No, I’m making up the firing part, but I had you going for a second, right? Kyan exclaims, “I can’t believe you ever thought your hair looked good. Let me tell you what’s wrong with it.” Hair arrogance. He tells John that the shape is a mushroom and that he has too much contrast between the black roots and bleached top. True, but still condescending.
This job isn’t for any colorist. It requires a master colorist because John needs color correction, which is really complicated. Enter the Master. John tells Kyan that Emily doesn’t like blonde hair anyway. Kyan says, “I’m getting you laid as we speak!” Then he says “dude” some more because it’s now Kyan’s favorite word. For fun, count the number of times he says it in an episode!
The Master finishes. Then he gets a cut. And, it’s a miracle. He looks like a person. A good-looking person. So much better. Kyan says that John’s original hair was much more gay than it is now. Heehee.
John’s roommate interviews that any change will be positive.
In the SUV back home, the Fab Five say that John’s feet still smell but the rest of him is clean. John says his boss will be happy.
At the house, Thom yells for John to wash his feet before he enters. Then, “Unbelievable!” Seriously, Thom is a magician. The living room is actually a living room. He installed a cranberry banquet around the entire room to seat about thirty people for John’s parties. There’s also a stainless steel keginator in the room, which is a refrigerator with a keg inside. High-tech frat boy. On the coffee table? Turkish wrestlers. On the floor are brown and orange industrial carpets. The walls are butternut squash and sage.
The next room Thom calls the bar slash kitchen. There’s a stainless steel bar and black walls that are actually a chalkboard. The entire room is a chalkboard! Cool.
The bedroom has bamboo wallpaper and brown bedding. And it’s all clean. CLEAN. It’s amazing what cleaning can do.
Over in the kitchen, Ted is talking about bruschetta. Garlic, toasted bread, olive oil, sea salt, artichokes cannolini beans, and pesto. John can’t believe it’s so easy. Ted suggests he make it for the boys at game time as well. I think they’d prefer the chips.
Ted then introduces him to Big House Red and White wine. It has a screw cap! Corks aren’t high tech. John says that he won’t be seen as cheap, but he’ll be ahead of the times. Ted says, “You can still be cheap but it won’t be because of the wine.” Heehee.
Carson then tells John to send out his laundry because he’ll never do it in a timely fashion. He separates the dirty clothes into three hampers: dark, light, and dry clean. Hey, I do the same thing. Carson and I have something in common after all. He tells John to pre-treat all the stains. There’s that nasty penetration thing again.
Fashion show! Carson took John’s Yankee t-shirt and used sandpaper and bleach to distress it. Then Carson demonstrates so he can cop a feel on John’s chest. He pairs the shirt with a seer sucker blazer, flat front khakis, and a belt made from a tie with sports stuff on it.
Outfit 2: muted Hawaiian shirt with khaki shorts.
Outfit 3: shorts, blue-striped knit shirt, and slide sandals. The Fab Five clap for ventilated shoes.
Jai takes John into the kitchen to show him a chore calendar on the wall. John needs to delegate the chores to his roommates and have them stick to the schedule. Then Jai gives John a laptop and a bag for Emily that has water, chocolate, and Time Out Magazine. He calls it “everything a girl needs to feel comfortable.” Jai is obviously not the expert on female comfort. He forgot the tampons and the my-ass-looks-fabulous jeans.
Kyan enters and says, “I’m in my underwear.” And he’s in his underwear. What the? He tells John that he’s had back trouble, too. So he has John roll around on the floor to stretch and do crunches. Then Kyan shows him a big surprise in the bedroom. Kyan enters and says, “I’m naked” and he is and he attacks John which is John’s worst nightmare come true. No, I lie. The surprise is a new mattress that molds to the body.
In the living room, John toasts to each guy individually. Then he gives Carson a kiss on the cheek and everyone cheers. John is no longer a homophobe or a touch-phobe. He says, “I feel like I’m home now.” Aw. They chant “let’s go Yankees.”
Hip Tip: Season your grill with veggie oil. Recycled, Ted. We’ve seen that tip before.
John’s brother interviews that John wants a relationship.
Over on the Critic Couch, the Fab Five sing “take us out to the ballgame” to the beat of their own drummer. Carson says that John’s stench is still beneath his fingernails. That’s very gross.
John gets ready in the bathroom and the FF comment that he is quite fuzzy. Kyan says, “I could only do so much in one day!” Corrective color, foot odor, back remedies. Kyan had his work cut out for him. Then Ted calls John “a creative shaver” as he shaves diagonally against the grain. Ouch. He puts on stone khakis and a Yankee t-shirt.
While making bruschetta, the doorbell rings. Enter Emily under really large luggage. She has short black hair, fair skin, and is wearing jeans and a white jacket. They hug. She calls the place “geometric” and scoffs at the keg fridge. John gives her the gift bag from Details and goes to finish the bruschetta. Emily makes faces.
Kyan becomes my grandmother when he yells, “I didn’t hear a thank you from her.” She smacks her gum and grimaces. Jai yells at her sneering.
In the kitchen, Emily tells John that he’s not really cooking. John calls it “Cooking for Dummies.” Ted sneers, “Why don’t you whip up some stroganoff then?” Thom is impressed that John rolls off all Emily’s negativity with a positive and says, “Her laugh drives me nuts.”
Emily tastes the bruschetta and Ted braces himself. She calls it “toast with stuff on it.” Ted says, “John just wants to sleep with her anyway.” Low blow! I love it!
Then Emily finds the Turkish wrestling book. She’s perplexed. She thinks John might have a little fairy in him. Thom yells, “I’m sorry John! It was a joke.”
John gets ready for the party. He tries on some sunglasses. Emily doesn’t like them. A thousand pairs later, Emily approves.
They move to the big game. John comes into the party with mascot cows in tow. Everyone hugs him. The boss runs his fingers through John’s hair. John hugs some more people. Wow, that “I don’t like touch” thing disappeared. Thom says that John is smart by not introducing Emily to anyone. Ha! He calls her “little Mary sunshine in the corner.” Heehee.
Then there’s another bickering moment about how making bruschetta isn’t really cooking. The FF want John to leave with another woman.
Outside, the rain is pouring. The boss tells John to make an announcement that the game is cancelled. Thom says he should start the announcement, “Ladies and Gentlemen: I have good news and I have Emily.” HA! Now that’s comedy! John makes the game is cancelled announcement and adds a thanks to the Fab Five.
John then pulls Emily aside to give her a gift. Kyan says that if she doesn’t react correctly, he should throw her off the balcony. She jokes, “If you’re proposing, the answer is no.” John instead gives her earrings. She likes them and thanks him more than once. Carson gives her two brownie points for being gracious.
They are impressed with how charismatic John is around a crowd and they toast to a home run.
This week’s tips:
Kyan says jumping rope is good for you and you should steal jump ropes from children.
Jai says to treat friends’ homes like your own homes and leave gifts behind.
Carson says use erasers to unstick sticky zippers.
Thom says use a brazil nut to fill in scratches in wooden tables.
Ted says that a screw-capped wine can be stored any which way. But loose.
A major case of foot odor and a minor case of homophobia cured all within a queer-filled hour!
Email me: Christina@realityshack.com Is making bruschetta really cooking?
Face It Growing Up Gotti Season 2 Episode 9
|by Mrs. Agnello
The first scene is in the Gotti’s kitchen where they are all having dinner. Victoria starts by saying that John wants to be a boxer. Wow! She says that John is too vain and he would be upset if he bruised his face. John says that’s not true and mentions that when he was five years old he broke his nose. I have to say Victoria sounds a little over protective but I could understand because it’s her baby!
After dinner Victoria shows Robert a video of when she was on Passions a few months earlier. She tells him that her agent has been nagging her about an Off-Broadway show and she’s not sure if she should do it or not.
Robert, who has cornrolls by the way, tells her that she should at least do the audition. She agrees to do it.
Uncle Pete takes John to a boxing match so John can see how it is done. John watches in fascination as two guys clobber the heck out of each other. Uncle Pete tells him that if he wants to be a boxer he can’t have one ounce of fat on him. In other words he has to get in shape.
Following Victoria to her audition for an Off-Broadway show called “Bertey’s Bachelorette Party”. She and Robert arrive and Robert mentions that the place looks like a strip club. I have to say, it did look kind of like a night club or something. One woman explains to Victoria what the show is about and some of the things she would have to do, one of the things she has to do is get picked up by a group of overly-masculine men. They ask Robert to do it first so they would make sure its safe.
The Choreographer asks Victoria to give him her version of a “sexy” walk and she is a little bit shy but struts her stuff as the guys in the back cheer. After they leave this audition Victoria looks like she’s not feeling it too much and says she’s not sure if she auditioned or Robert.
Well, Uncle Pete takes John to the ring for the first time to practice. Before they enter Uncle Pete reminds John that these people don’t care about their last name and that’s the way it should be. Meanwhile, John looked incredible in a gray “SHADY” hoodie. They walked in and John got to meet the owner (I guess) of the place and get a feel for it.
He got in the ring and was taught how to properly punch. I can’t believe they would just throw him inside the ring with no prior conditioning or practice. But he got to practice somewhat. The guy asked him if he dances and he said yes, mostly hip hop. The guy then asked him if he can waltz and he says no. I can understand why he would be asking this since you know what they say: A man that can fight is a man that can dance, and a man that can dance is a man that can… well, never mind, maybe it’s just those two things they say.
After John gets home that day Victoria and Robert have a talk with him about how it went. John says he likes it, but Victoria keeps saying constantly that she is afraid he will mess up his beautiful face, it is something that I also fear. Robert adds that John does look like a boxer, which is not something a mother would like to hear. I have to agree, especially with that hoodie on! Victoria is just hoping that something will happen so he wouldn’t want to do it anymore.
The next day, John and some of his buddies go to the gym to work out. Looks like he’s really serious about it. After working out somewhat they notice an aerobics class going on next to them. One of John’s friends suggests that maybe they should do that. John tells him that those classes are for advanced people. They don’t believe it so they decide to join them. After a while they look tired and the guy who is leading the class tells them they should do cardio more often. I agree, it’s a great way to burn fat.
Victoria has one more audition with a different Off-Broadway show called “We’re still hot”. She is greeted by a whole bunch of people that work there and is asked if she would like to act, sing, or dance first. She looks a little hesitant and says acting first.
She seemed really confident reading those lines and looked like she knew what she was doing. After that she went to the singing part and I have to say I was pretty impressed, she can sing! I think they were happy with it and offered her the part. She hadn’t accepted yet and decided she will think about it.
It is the highlight of the episode, John’s boxing debut! I was excited to see how he would do. He arrives there before his opponent and gets changed. He looked so cute! We see his opponent arrive and get changed, that guy looked a lot more experienced than John so I was a little worried.
During the match he did pretty well. He got some good punches in there and I think he could have a good future in boxing. One thing he did mention was that he was tired and that could be because he’s not breathing correctly while he’s fighting (I have the same problem).
Meanwhile, back at the house Robert tells Victoria that the people from “We’re still hot” need to know if she is going to accept the role or not. She says that she’s not sure at first and then agrees to do it.
John’s boxing debut was a hit and so was Victoria’s Off-Broadway audition. John still has his beautiful face and Victoria is going to show hers off on stage. All is well in the Gotti household, at least for now.
Disclaimer: Mrs.Agnello is just a writing name, but I hope one day it will be my real last name.
Random Acts of Courage
When I first heard Sylvester Stallone was backing and hosting The Contender, I laughed. Seriously, come on now, wouldn’t you laugh, too? Stallone played Rocky, he isn’t Rocky. He’s not even a professional boxer, his training limited to what he learned on-the-set of the film and probably the bar brawls he gets in when he goes down to the pub for a drink and the other drinkers who just want to take on “Rocky.”
So, how then, does Sly get off thinking he has the right to be leading boxers into the big show? Ask Mark Burnett, multi-talented brainchild behind The Contender, whose franchise success with Survivor has practically made him the modern creator of reality television; if he’s backing The Contender, surely, he must believe it’s a hit!
Guess what? It’s a hit. Even I’m convinced, and I’m pretty damn cynical when it comes to reality television.
“Random Acts of Courage” began with an overture by Sylvester Stallone and the contenders themselves. Stallone says, “Life is a fight. Everyone gets knocked down. What matters is how fast you get up. This is what this story’s about.” He calls the 16 contenders heroes, whose stories are universal. The contenders are there for one goal, one purpose, to fight live at Caesar’s Palace for $1 million and the chance to break into the big time.
To the song “Iris,” by the Goo Goo Dolls, the candidates are introduced, their stories are told.
Jimmy, Jeff, Juan, Peter, Najai, Brent, Ahmed, Jonathan, Jesse, Sergio, Anthony, Ishe, Alfonso, Miguel, Tarick and Joey come together from all walks of life. The youngest contender just turned 18 years old, one is a European champion who wants to make it big in America, and another is ranked third in the world in the middle-weight division. All of them have families, some have children, most married, others religious; all walks of life are represented by these 16 men who, as Stallone points out, “Welcome you all to an opportunity of a lifetime,” when he comes out to great them at their Southern Californian training ground.
The gym is state of the art, and the contenders all enter – after saying goodbye to their families who have been relocated to Downtown Los Angeles to be there for every step of the show – to wait for the beginning to finally start.
Stallone explains to them how the competition will work. They will be fighting at the middle-weight division (158 lbs.). Each week two will fight, the winner stays and the loser goes home. As Leonard said, “You win, this goes on your record, you lose this goes on your record.” They are then divided, predictably, into a West Coast team and an East Coast team.
The West Coast team consists of Alfonso, Anthony, Joey, Jesse, Ishe, Miguel, Sergio and Tarick; The East Coast team consists of Ahmed, Brent, Jeff, Jimmy, Jonathan, Juan, Najai and Peter. (I found this division to be kind of corny, but in the end, it proved to be valuable, considering both teams seem to be pretty evenly spread. Only time will tell though…)
They are then introduced to Jackie Kallen and Tommy Gallagher; the first a world champion representing manager and the latter a world class trainer who has trained the finest in boxing. Both are at the contenders disposals, where they can talk to about their problems and seek advice. Both Stallone and Leonard stressed to talk to them, learn from there and be better for it.
After the introductions were done, Gallagher gave them a tour of their new home for the duration of their stay. Now, let me tell you, if I could live where these boxers were living when they were just getting a shot, I’d go on The Contender any day. This is Hollywood chic at its finest; it’s very much a modern shindig. Paintings hang from the walls in a large spacious loft-style apartment. There will be two guys per room, East and West separated. “Just treat this as your shot,” Gallagher tells them when he leaves them to settle into their home.
We find out, next, that Alfonso and Ishe – who now share a room – have fought previously. They’d never said two words to one another until then, when they began sharing pictures of their family and talking about their experiences. Other boxers share pictures of their children and families while settling in. Anthony perhaps sums up the attitude each contender needs to have while making friends on the show, and it made me chuckle when he said it, “I can make friends with these guys, but when the time comes to go in their and kick their butts, I can do that.”
There first day of the competition starts with a workout. Each does their individual thing. Punching bags, sparring, jumping rope… its one big melee of everyone being able to see the others train. They can learn their strengths and weaknesses to better use that against them in the ring. However, it’s easy to see from the beginning who is going to be painted as “the bad guy” of the show.
Ishe begins egging on Ahmed while he’s sparring in the ring. He’s upstairs yelling at him as he fights; after the sparring match, Ahmed begins – angrily, I might add – yelling back at him. The whole time, Ishe admits he is just playing psychological games with him, because that’s how he fights. He gets into every corner and crevice of their style to tear them apart. Gallagher tries to calm Ahmed down, telling him not to let Ishe get to him, because we later finds out that Tommy thinks Ahmed could be the best fighter among them with a bit of work.
Ok, up to now, there hadn’t been a commercial break, and let me tell you something, the hype for this show annoys me to no avail. Let the show speak for itself, trust me, this one’s a winner. NBC has interplayed previews to the next segment of the show during commercial breaks. I hope this doesn’t become a weekly occurrence, or else I’m taping it every week, and skipping the segment previews.
We come back to seeing some of the boxers, like Peter, visiting their families while the others eat dinner. Stallone and Leonard come to see them all and see how they’re settling in and immediately the patronage begins! (I’m sorry, I’m no Sly Stallone fan, at all, and these guys kissing his ass just makes me sick!) “They’re film critics. I didn’t know you guys were so talented,” he jibes. Jesse brought up arm wrestling and Sly started pulling his leg by saying he once arm wrestled a guy who drank motor oil and swallowed a cigarette before each match. When Leonard and Stallone leave, they laugh at the gullibility of some of the contenders.
On to the next day, challenge day, for the teams. Under the view of the Hollywood sign, the teams will compete for the right to choose who from their team will box their choice of fighter for the other team in the weekly match. “Nobody has ever given boxers a choice of who they fight,” Stallone tells them, now this is their choice.
Basically, each team has to run on mile up to the top of the Hollywood sign. On the way to the finish line, there are three logs they have to carry with them – the first log they just pick up, the second log they have to untie, and the third log they have to unlock by remembering combinations on highway signs on the path – and the first team with all three logs that crosses the finish line wins. Leonard explains that this challenge is to test their teamwork and ability to concentrate when exhausted in the final round of a fight. “Champions never show signs of quitting,” he reminds them.
And the race begins… West Coast gets ahead early, Ishe leads way above them. Brent beats Ishe to next log, begins untying the log. Some stand around while others work. Ahmed beats everyone to the next log. Both teams begin to walk, tired. Gallagher reminds them to remember the combinations; nobody seems to be paying attention that they need to do that, especially the leaders. East Coast makes it to the last log first; West Coast switches around who’s holding their two logs. Ishe beats Ahmed to unlocking the log, because Ahmed didn’t just forget the combination, he failed to even care about it. East Coast makes it to the final log, Ahmed admits he doesn’t know the numbers, and team member unlocks the combination. West Coast begins walking up the hill, then to a steady jog while East Coast is still trying to catch up. West Coast wins by pulling up their flag first; East Coast is defeated. “You tried, you lost,” Stallone says, “You’re at West’s mercy.”
West Coast comes up with a strategy in the locker room when deciding who is going to fight; they believe by having the least experienced boxer from each time fight, they will weed out the easy targets. At first, they decide that Jeff – the smallest guy in the competition – from the East will face their very own Joey. When Alfonso noted how nervous Joey seemed, he stepped up and said he wanted to fight undefeated (21-0) Peter Manfrado, Jr. While most of the West Coast team doesn’t think this is the best strategy, because Alfonso is clearly the underdog, they let him go for it to prove himself.
Meanwhile, the East Coast is in their locker room discusses why they failed. They all agreed that Ahmed was at fault for getting so far ahead in the mile without memorizing the combination for the final log. What he was thinking, I will never know, because if it wasn’t for him, they would’ve won because of how far ahead they were overall. Peter, however, stresses, “Everything we do here is about learning about something in the ring.”
From here, they go to the gym and West Coast chooses their match. It’ll be Alfonso Gomez versus Peter Manfrado, Jr., which takes everyone – most notably Sly Stallone – by surprise. “No doubt in my mind I can beat him,” Gomez says. “I think he has a lot of heart,” Manfrado, Jr. said of his competition. The gentlemen toed the line, an old boxing tradition we’re reminded of by Stallone’s words.
Peter goes home that night to visit with his family while Alfonso goes down to the ring to visualize winning the fight. Each prepares in their own way.
Three hours prior to the fight, the boys have their weigh-in and pre-match press conference. Alfonso weighs in at 156 ½ pounds, Peter at 158 pounds even. Stallone starts off the conference by saying the choice “caught us all off guard. This is what The Contender is all about.” Peter and Alfonso exchanged mild verbal jabs at one another but things heated up when Ahmed and Ishe began trash talking each other. Ishe called Ahmed out. This is the rivalry of the season.
An hour before the right, we find each contender in their locker room getting ready for the fight in various ways. Families come out to support each boxer. Their trainers wrap their hands, give them last minute advice, and 30 minutes to the fight they zone out; Alfonso shadow sparring and Peter listening to music.
Cut to the arena, where Chuck Norris sits ringside and every seat is booked. The announcer comes on, “Five rounds of middleweight boxing,” and each contender comes out to the theme song music of the show in their respective team colors – Yellow for West Coast and Blue for East Coast – to standing ovations.
Then, the fight begins…
Round 1: Alfonso starts fighting first, Peter takes it, comes in on openings. Alfonso looks like he’s going to wear himself out quickly. Alfonso lands some great shots, Peter kind of starts faltering. Round goes to Alfonso.
Round 2: Peter gets some shots in early. Peter beating the shit out of Alfonso, can’t keep up anymore, he’s hurt. He can’t defend himself and is bleeding from the eyes. Round goes to Peter.
Round 3: Alfonso’s dad gives him tips from the side. Alfonso walks in with hands down. Peter gets in early; Alfonso gets a great shot, gets a few more shots. Slower round. Not much contact. Peter’s wife is yelling at him furiously. Alfonso gets in abdominal shots, lots of tiring down shots. Alfonso gets him in the corner and right hooks him. Round goes to Alfonso.
Round 4: Blue is very quiet now, teammates that is. Peter’s wife is going crazy. Peter comes out swinging, Alfonso’s being defensive. Alfonso throws his hands up when he dodges a fury, teammates start shouting his name, East Coast counters with shouting. Defensive, catching air. Alfonso dodges more, each take a few shots. Leonard asks Stallone, “Where is this coming from?” Peter begins offensive too late. Round is a tie.
Round 5: Trainers psych them out to win. Both come out swinging, lock up, looking for opening. Alfonso gets some punches in, Peter gets fewer. Alfonso stars boxing harder, hitting Peter harder. Alfonso gets something in, Peter’s bleeding again. They lock-up, Alfonso shakes his head. The match is called. Round goes to Alfonso.
Judges scorecard is announced and its unanimous decision: The winner is West Coast’s Alfonso Gomez. Family, team and trainers storm the ring.
Peter is seen walking back to the locker room as everyone celebrates. “I feel like I let everybody down. Not just myself. My wife, my daughter, my father. All I can hear is my father in my head,” he says dejectedly. His wife and daughter join him and he talks to his wife while in the shower. “This sport is like a fiery burning inside of me and it just feels like it exploded.”
Manfrado, Jr., the first contender to be sent home, then goes back to the gym, hangs up his gloves and leaves with one question on his mind, “Where do I go from here?”
Carpesomediem is an aspiring freelance writer from Lancaster, Pa. who enjoys music, movies and writing about the way the world works; you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about this week’s episode or anything at all.