To Be Continued? – The Amazing Race 6, Episode 6

The first thing I need to address in tonight’s review of The Amazing Race is the abuse issue. I received many emails last week agreeing with my thoughts on Jonathon and Victoria’s relationship, and his apparent abuse. I even received one from an animal lover that questioned my treatment of my dogs because of the first line of my review. We have since straightened it out, and exchanged many pleasant emails after. I received another email from someone saying they felt sorry for Victoria UNTIL they read that Victoria and Jonathon have said since the end of the show they were only acting these roles out during the show. I disagreed; I don’t believe Victoria is that good of an actress. Even if they were, it would still be wrong to make light of domestic abuse to get ahead in a race. I stand by my original thoughts, and hope CBS will address this issue eventually, so that future racers won’t see this behavior as a way to get ahead. In the meantime, if anyone out there believes themselves to be living in domestic abuse, the National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-7233, and I urge you to seek help.

The first stop this leg of the race will be Checkpoint Charlie, the East and West crossing of the Old Berlin Wall. Kendra is getting a little bit agitated, saying Freddy just always wants to, “Go, go, go!” Aaron and Hayden are the next to leave, and Aaron is beginning to think Hayden can be psycho sometimes. Arriving at Checkpoint Charlie, Freddy and Kendra find they need to travel next to the Olympic Stadium, and are told to put their names on the board.

Kris and Jon, who are long-distance dating, leave the Gate next, and are saying they are happily surprised to find they have a lot in common now that they are spending so much time together. Gus and Hera leave after them, and Gus is saying rushing for rushing’s sake never seems to do much. As Adam and Rebecca leave, she is saying he is so spoiled and stubborn that she isn’t so sure she wants to stay romantically involved with him. Lori and Bolo are the last to leave.

In a cab, Victoria shouts at the driver that the light is green. He tells her she is wrong; it is red. As the camera pans up, it confirms the cabbie is correct. While Victoria and the cabbie are busy arguing this, Freddy and Kendra arrive first at the Olympic Stadium. They sign up first for something happening at 6 AM. Kendra wants to do some research while waiting, and Freddy thinks that’s stupid as they don’t know where or what they should be researching right now.

Jonathon and Victoria arrive and see that Hayden and Aaron have somehow passed them, and are now in the Number Two slot. This infuriates Jonathon as he writes down only his name for Team Number Three. Kris and Jon arrive for the Number Four spot and laugh with the others about Victoria and Jonathon, but in a serious note, they all suggest Victoria and Jonathon should get counseling. Jonathon and Victoria walk by, and he wants to know when she’s going to start carrying her own weight. Gus and Hera, Adam and Rebecca and Lori and Bolo arrive and sign up in the Numbers Five, Six and Seven slots.

At six the next morning, the racers find this will be a Road Block. One person from every team will need to do a Hot Rocket Bungee Jump. As the person is strapped into the apparatus, they are shot upwards over two-hundred feet in the air, like out of a rocket, then hang upside down from the bungee. All the teams being co-ed, it is the female half of every team that decides to do this Road Block. Adam wants to do it, but Rebecca insists on doing it, referring to him as a “wussy boy.”

Kendra does the Rocket jump first, and after says she’s dizzy, and that she’s going to be sick. She and Freddy find they now need to fly to Budapest, Hungary where they will drive notoriously unreliable cars to Eger, Hungary. Hayden does the Rocket next, followed by Victoria, who the minute she is shot up, Jonathon starts yelling, “You’re a super hero.” That’s funny; I thought he and Bolo were super heroes; at least that’s what Jonathon said on Day One of the race. Victoria is followed by Kendra and Hera. Gus has a harder time watching his partner than the others. This is his daughter after all. Rebecca and Lori are the least to get shot up in the Rocket.

Arriving at the airport, Freddy and Kendra and Hayden and Aaron get the first two spots on a flight leaving at 9:45 AM and landing in Budapest at 11:05. Gus takes this opportunity to utilize his philosophy of not rushing for rushing’s sake and seeing the others standing in line, he and Hera quietly go to a different counter to get tickets, and end up getting the last seats on the flight, before Jonathon and Victoria, Kris and Jon or the rest. He notes they aren’t going to be the fastest, so they just need to be observant. Jonathon is furious. Jonathon and Victoria, Kris and Jon and Adam and Rebecca end up on a flight that leaves just a little later. Lori and Bolo end up on a different flight than anyone else. They will leave first, but actually arrive last at 12:20 in the afternoon. Jonathon uses his extra time to ball out the airline employees to say he has just lost the race, and it’s their fault.

Freddy and Kendra, Hayden and Aaron and Gus and Hera’s flight arrives, and they all run to get to the unreliable cars. These cars are so tiny, Gus nearly can’t fit, and he says, “This ain’t a lotta car! These cars operate a little differently than the cars they are used to, but Gus says his experience as an engineer and aviator makes this not a problem. Freddy, along with Kendra, who didn’t know what a beer stein was last week, says he’s never driven a car with a gear shift on the steering column, and it was difficult for him. Remind me not to let you behind the wheel of my mini-van, Freddy. Hayden and Aaron’s car has a dead battery, and they need to wait for a confirmation from a mechanic, and then get a replacement car. Thank God Maria and Meredith didn’t stick around for this one. They wouldn’t have left the parking lot.

Adam and Rebecca, Jonathon and Victoria and Kris and Jon arrive and run out to the cars. Rebecca tells Adam he won’t get anywhere in 0 gear. Victoria complains that Jonathon is shutting the door on the car before she is even done putting things in the trunk. As Adam and Rebecca struggle to figure out the car, Lori and Bolo arrive from their flight. Adam finally gets it going, but says if he stays in that gear, the car will explode.

Aaron asks Hayden for navigational help, and she explodes, “Have you forgotten I am retarded with directions?” They proceed to pass up their exit and need to turn around. Freddy and Kendra arrive in Eger first, and are met with a Detour – Catapult Crash or Cannonball Run. In Catapult Crash, the teams will launch small watermelons over one-hundred fifty feet in the air to smash on a small target. In Cannonball Run, they will need to push a cannon up a long hill, then carry fifty-five small cannonballs up the hill, and stack them in a pyramid. Freddy and Kendra choose the cannonballs right away. Finishing, they find they need to take a train back to Budapest to the Net Klub Internet Cafe. Gus and Hera initially try the catapult, but after several failed attempts, they switch to the cannonballs. The small cannonballs are each very heavy, and it takes them a few trips to carry them all.

Jonathon and Victoria are pulled over by the police. I get excited thinking my prayers have been answered. The police are informing them they should have their lights on. I’m not sure how he does it, but Jonathon talks the police into escorting him to Eger. He then tells Victoria, “It’s amazing the things I can do.” Watch me abuse my wife … amazing. Adam kills the car they are driving in and are pulled over on the side of the road. A nice local Hungarian man pulls over and does what Rebecca refers to as a “voodoo spell” to get the car going again. Bolo is doing what he always does, he is stopping for directions. Perhaps he is the only man in the history of the world to do this so readily. Freddy and Kendra meanwhile are all alone on their train, and much ahead of everyone else. They delight in this, talking about how great it will be to get to what is assumably the pit stop first. Something tells me they are looking ahead too easily, and that this is some type of editing foreshadowing.

Jonathon and Victoria arrive at the Detour. They choose the cannonballs. Initially Victoria has a hard time pulled the cannon, and asks Jonathon to be a man and do the front part of pulling. Jonathon shoots back that she should be a woman and shut up. As they are pulling the cannon up the hill, he is still bitching about missing out on their flight. They drag the cannonballs up the hill on the tarp. Finding themselves five short, Adam bitches, and he carries one back while Victoria carries four. Then finish and catch up to Gus and Hera waiting for the train. Jonathon is excited to meet up with his nemesis and says “Oh yeah. Game’s on.” He tells them if he and Victoria had been on their place they would be in first place, as they were having a flawless run.

Kris and Jon, stuck in their tiny car, get yelled at, assumably in Hungarian, by a local whizzing by on his motorcycle. Kris says she knows what that means, and it wasn’t good. Jonathon tries pushing the car to get it started, but it won’t work. They get a replacement car. Arriving at the Detour, Hayden and Aaron choose the cannonballs, and use their backpacks to carry them. Kris and Jon choose the cannonballs as well. Initially Adam and Rebecca choose the catapult, but also switch to the cannonballs. Lori and Bolo are still driving, and their car quits. Bolo pronounces the motor done, and they wait for a replacement car.

As Hayden is freaking out again, Aaron yells are her that she’s psychotic and that she should just relax. Freddy and Kendra arrive at the Net Klub Internet Cafe, only to find it doesn’t open until ten o’clock at night, and they have a three hour wait. Off the train, Jonathon and Victoria are in a cab on their way to the Internet Cafe. Jonathon keeps yelling at the cabbie to hurry up because they are in a race. The cabbie says, “Finito!” puts the cab in park and kicks the annoying twosome out. Justice! As they enter a second cab, Jonathion asks the cabbie if he knows what the word race means.

Gus and Hera and Jonathon and Victoria arrive at the Internet Cafe only to find they have to wait two-and-a-half hours until ten o’clock. Bolo and Lori finally get a new car, which Lori says shifts a lot better than the other. Once at the Detour Lori and Bolo decide smartly, and go with the cannonballs, utilizing their natural strength. They get this done quickly, and get to the train station, only to find the last train has left for the evening, and they will need to wait for morning. I find myself hoping this is a non-elimination round, as I am not ready to say good-bye to the wrestlers yet. Yet there’s only a few minutes left in the show. I check info on the digital cable box for Amazing Race to see if this is a two-hour show. What the heck?

As the awaited hour of ten o’clock rolls around some racers enter the internet cafe, but some miss out, having fallen asleep outside. It’s hard to tell who this is though. Just after, we see “To Be Continued” flash across the screen. While delighted with hope that there will be some type of equalizer in next week’s show to help Lori and Bolo out, it also means another guaranteed hour of Jonathon. At least we weren’t treated to his full arsenal of abuse this week, but knowing what he’s capable of, it is still difficult.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Can I have some “whine” with my cheese – Swan, Season 2 Pageant

Now, I must say that I am shocked and appalled at the level of cheese I saw at the Pageant last night. I am lactose intolerant and needed to take my medication when it was over. Beauty that comes from within – shouldn’t be broadcast with — a swimsuit competition, a lingerie competition and well the nude Jello wrestling competition that was only available on pay-per-view. I’m just kidding about that last competition; however, from what I saw last night, it just didn’t feel like it was that far afield.

Maybe next year. We can only hope. (Note: If you are immune to sarcasm, read on. If you have a low-sarcasm-intolerance, please consult a physician before reading the rest of this review. It only gets worse.)

Hostess Amanda Byrum walked out onto the stage looking quite lovely. Perhaps, one of the perks of being a host on this show is “tweaking” surgeries. If that’s the case, can someone give Ms. Byrum a little more cleavage and a boob lift. Otherwise, she’s fine.

Amanda should receive combat pay for all of the bombs that they made her toss last night. Who the hell are the writers for the pageant? They need to be sent to Guantanamo Bay for questioning.

Amanda started out by saying that the pageant was the “culmination of a dream”. Yeah, some pubescent guy’s wet dream.

Then, they went and showed some footage proving how the Swan has become worldwide phenomenon. Now, that’s scary. We learned that there were thousands and thousands of applicants for this season. The experts had greater and greater challenges to face. The Swans required more. We had a deaf Swan (Gena Davis), a Swan with cancer (Patti) and two Swans (Amy and Lorraine) who needed their whole mouths reconstructed.

All women’s lives were changed forever. The Swan even saved a life – Patti! Yeah, Swan. Saving lives one plastic surgery at a time.

Amanda said that all competitors were pushed to their limits. So, were the experts and I would wager – the viewing audience. At least, I was.

After three months with no mirrors, the women got to see themselves. The reveals were dramatic and full of tears. As well as – the “Oh My God, I’m so hot” and “I’m so beautiful – look at me” moments. Touching, right?

The experts chose the Swans who had the greatest transformations to move on. Gee and I thought it was just the Swans who were the youngest and prettiest. So, sue me. This is really about the “internal transformations”. Sure – and Lorraine, Patti, Dorie and a few others didn’t transform spectacularly! (I guess when you’re pushing 40, it takes more to transform.)

The next segway led us into footage which showed how the contestants prepped for the pageant. They had to learn to walk and talk as pageant gals. But – we’ll delve deeper into that superficial stuff soon. In the meantime, here’s your pageant bunnies:

Jennifer P – Mesa, AZ
Gena Davis – Daytona Beach, FL
Erica Moore
Kari B
Cinnamon Smith
DeLisa Stiles
Marcia M

And

Amy Williams

Wait! There’s one more. The judges have selected a wildcard. I’m so excited. I can’t wait to find out. The suspense is killing us, Amanda. Please tell us. Not another commercial break.

Amanda returns and reminds us that the judging is based on:

Poise
Beauty

And

Overall Transformation

It really is important. (Sure! I believe you!)

Now, let’s introduce the judges:

***Ken Baker, from US Weekly. (Apparently writing for a tabloid mag makes you uniquely qualified to see ‘inner beauty’)

***A modeling agent who was, by the way, Tyra Banks’ first agent – Krista Sides – Klayman (*I’ve spelled it wrong, I’m sure). We all know how Tyra radiates internal beauty. That’s why she’s a Victoria Secret model. Lingerie shows the beauty within. Always.

***Carnie Wilson, who was described as a “shining example of self-transformation”. Gastric by-pass will do that to a gal.

***Next up was Hollywood Producer – Larry A. Thompson. Couldn’t they have at least chosen one psychologist or life coach to judge them on internal transformation? Or a blind person?

****The final judge was former Miss Universe — Dayanara Torres. She’s the ex-Mrs. Marc Anthony (pre-J.Lo) Dayanara is a beautiful and courageous woman – inside and out. I give her props for all she’s been through. That’s not sarcasm.

Now, Amanda has to introduce the contestants, one by one. The lines she’s given to read are horrific. Poor Amanda. Here’s Erica Moore looking resplendent in powder blue. (Oh yes! We get to see footage of the gals’ transformations before we get to see them in gowns and walking!)

Can I just say that the music was inspired — by the movie, 2001 Space Odyssey and bad techno! Dumb did e dumb dumb dumbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb.

Jennifer Patton is ready to “rock the runway” in her beweled scars. Look at what a difference 4 mos makes! (And tens of thousands of dollars of plastic surgery!)

DeLisa Stiles is next. She came to the Swan looking for her ‘feminine side’ and dealt with the devastation of divorce. (I, for one, believe that divorce can be a good thing and, for DeLisa, it was. Ex-hubby! Eat your stupid-a$$ heart out! Not sexually attractive. Your ex-wife is a complete babe! Hahahahahahaha!) Amanda then, said it’s time to “salute” DeLisa Stiles. She’s a ‘soldier’. GRRRRRRRRRRRROAN.

DeLisa looked awesome and even cuter than in the show. She was wearing a black, sequined sheer gown. WOW! She looked good.

They talked about how the “arresting” officer Cinnamon Smith missed her kids. Then, I kid you not, Amanda said, “you have the right to remain awestruck!” OH GOD! I do have to say that Cinnamon’s not my fave. She’s not that attractive now. I honestly thought she had more potential before the surgery to be less plastic looking. She didn’t look ‘real’ enough to me. Sorry Cinnamon.

Then we saw Amy Williams, the singer who was told that she had a “face for radio”. She looked cute, but suspiciously like some of the other contestants. I do have this overwhelming feeling that I’m not sure if I can handle this for 2 hours. Ugh!

Amanda called The Swan – the #1 pageant in America. I certainly hope not. I used to like beauty pageants. My dad made us write down the scores of the girls. He worked nights and didn’t believe in a VCR. It’s a long story and I’m still in therapy over it.

We’re baaaaaaaaaaack. Amanda says it’s time to let us in on Swan secrets. I can’t wait. It’s too exciting for this PTA mom.

She answers the top 3 questions they get from viewers. I sort of thought that this would’ve been on that list:

How do y’all sleep at night? You figure out what I mean by that!

#3) Which of Swan’s has lost most weight

Last season’s winner – Rachel Love Fraser – lost 39 lbs.
This year, the girls have lost over 200 lbs combined. Gena lost 22 lbs; DeLisa – 25 big ones and Kari shed 35 lbs.

#2) What part of transformation do they love most?

Depends on the Swan. Some like their boobs best. Others, like their lips or their eyes and a few (too few in my opinion) enjoy the therapy and internal transformation the most.

1) Do swans really not see themselves in a mirror?

Yes! WOW! The Swan has its own recon team; they hunt for mirrors in the girls’ luggage and everything. (I wonder if they’re made up of ex-Airport security guards!) And everything shiny is sprayed down. (And I thought that was just to keep the girls’ from being distracted. Ohhh! Something shiny! I can’t concentrate on my transformation. It’s sooooooooooooo shiny!)

They can’t look at themselves. For serious.

Now, let’s get back to the contestants Marcia Medelberg (spelling is terrible again!) had social anxiety. She wanted to be invisible. She also had to shave her face; she felt disgusted by (and with) herself. They take a girl with a social anxiety and shine a spotlight on her. She struts now and looks like she lost more weight. Weight loss and surgery really are cure-alls, aren’t they?

I’m really hating this pageant. Maybe it’s ‘cuz I’m dissatisfied with the way I look. I do think it’s something more though. Maybe I need to think that to get through the night, but I just feel that there is WAY too much emphasis put on how the girls look and not who they really are, which is what I’m more interested in.

It’s not entirely true that looking good means that your life is good. It’s also not true that outer beauty reflects inner beauty and well, I do think that, even though it may not be intentional, the wrong message was sent loud and clear.

Gena Davis, the hearing impaired contestant, was next. She wants to be an example to others with handicaps. Kari is the one who beat out her sis. She was wearing the same electric blue dress that Erica Moore wore. I think they’re really the same girl, being recycled. It’s just my opinion.

Let’s find out who the wild card is –and then we’ll have a swimsuit competition — yippee!!

But first, let’s learn about the prizes these women win for allowing themselves to be degraded and paraded around for us:

**national spokesmanship for Nutrisystem contract worth 100s of thousands of dollars (and I just thought they used Nutrisystem for pure reasons; not anything monetary for either Nutrisystem or FOX’s marketing division. Silly me! Didn’t see that contract coming, did we?)
**a trip to Thailand where the winner will get a gown of custom-made silk
**a Gym membership for the whole family, complete with training sessions
**a One-year supply of skin products
**trip to Las Vegas
**a $10,000 personal coaching scholarship from Tony Robbins
**$50,000 educational scholarship
**daVinci veneers and a smile ‘transformation’ from Dr. Sherri Worth for a significant other!

Now, it’s time to find out who the Wild Card is!!!!!!! Wow! The surprises are endless.

And the candidates are:

–Kim
–Lori Arias
–Cristina Ozuna
–Gina Bravata
–Patti
–Lorraine Norris
–Sylvia Cruz – Chicago, IL
–Dorie Weber – Las Vegas

Gina Bravata got in because well – she ‘transformed the most’. It doesn’t matter that she was really young and her sister was also in the pageant. I’m sure that dramatic fact was completely independent of the experts’ decision. They even let her sister, Kari, tell her the news

After that lead in, Amanda says – “let’s welcome to the stage our “red-hot wild card”. She was wearing a porn star silver sheer number. No self-respecting Miss America contestant would be caught dead in that slutty gown.

They look good but what happened to their self respect! There was so much plastic on that stage — if there was a fire, the poor gals would melt. I just can’t believe that I’m saying this, but this pageant is cheesier than last year’s.

Now, we get to see how they girls prepared for the big day. They hit the dance studio to master the pageant walk – it’s not as easy as it looks. (How darn hard is it!) They hit the gym hard 6 days a week for up to 3 hours per day. Now, that’s rough!

They had to transform their voices with a vocal coach who told them over-pronounce every syllable and risk sounding ‘stupid’. (Why oh why are they lobbing me so many softballs!)

They then learned how to “make the most of their new-found beauty with makeup lessons”. After all of that grueling work, they got a spa day and pampering! It’s so tough being pretty.

Next up is the swimsuit competition in high heels.

Here are the highlights (or lowlights depending upon your opinion. I think you can guess mine!)

–Amanda said Cinnamon looked “arresting” in red. Someone should arrest the writers. Okay!
–Marsha wore a gold and black suit that made her look like a plastic goldfish.
–Delisa was announced as a military woman who’s no longer a GI “plain jane”. She looked oh-so cute in her Destiny’s Child inspired suit. It was green and just had strips of fabric, sort of like the outfits they were in their “Survivor” video. UGH!
–Gina looked cute in a red bikini. Now, I see why she was the Wild Card. It was all that internal transformation; her inner smile if you will.

Here are our 9 contestants! Amanda told me that because I don’t think I could count them anymore — I was just thinking how stupid I am for watching this and how many brain cells I’ve lost in the past 45 minutes.

Let’s announce the 5 semifinalists who will then go onto the next round (lingerie!)

In random order, of course:

**Erica Moore
**DeLisa Stiles
**Gina Bravata
**Kari Bravata
**and Gena Davis.

Wait I jumped the gun so to speak. It’s now time to find out if the beautiful exteriors are reflected on the interior. The contestants choose a question from the judges and must answer it in 30 seconds or less.

Dayanara Torres’ question – Who is Erica today and what are your plans for the future?
“I had no self-confidence. Now, I’ve had so much help. I’m leaving here very confident and strong. The future is so bright and nothing’s gonna stop me now. I feel amazing. I look amazing.”

Ken Baker’s question – How would you say the Swan has prepared you for what comes after the dissolution of your marriage?
“True beauty is in inner strength. Even though I was caught off guard, I’m stronger, more complete and a better person.” — DeLisa

How do you think the transformation would change your life? From Tyra’s first agent
Kari says: “I used to think my body stopped me from doing things. I’m now more secure and comfortable. There’s a whole new world waiting for me.”

Carnie Wilson asked Gena Davis her question. How would you compare the person you were 4 months ago to the woman you are today?
“I learned that my disability is special and I do have the future ahead of me. I want to help those with other disabilities and hope that my changes will give them hope.”

Gina Bravata’s question, as asked by Larry Thompson:
What have you gained by finally focusing on yourself?

“I learned I’m worthy of the attention. It’s not selfish. If I’m confident, I can spread it around to others and can benefit those around me.”

Next up is the fashion photo shoot and runway lingerie competition. Yes, it’s now. The women went from being afraid to show themselves in sexy clothes around their men… so let’s see how they look in their photo shoots and on the runway – both are done in lingerie. Of course!

We get to hear them speak in pre-recorded interviews as they walk:

And I quote —

Erica — “It’s exciting to show the world what I look like. This is a dream come true. I’m hot. I’ve never been so curvy in my life.”

Delisa –- “I’ve worked very hard for this new body and I’m proud to show it off. I want people to see a strong, confident person.”

Kari thought the shoot would be hard, but the photographer told her what to do. (I’m too mean-spirited to write this review. I’m also bleeding from biting my tongue.)

“I worked so hard to get this body. I look good. I feel good and I can’t wait to show it off.”

Gena Davis: “I want the world to see me as a competent person with a beautiful body.”

Someone shoot me now! Please. Am I wrong? I guess I value the wrong things in people like strength, kindness and generosity of spirit.

Gina Bravata said that the shoot was like– a day of glamour – what more could a girl ask for? I feel really sexy and glamourous and proud of the work I’ve done.

“I feel like a supermodel and I like it!”

One last look – oh geez!

During the break – they’ll (the judges that is) bring it down to three.

There were over 300,000 applications this season
16 were chosen to come to LA
9 made it to the pageant
5 semifinalists will go to 3 finalists
1 of those will be the Swan

(Just so you don’t have to do the math!)

Let’s look at the last-chance parade for the semi-finalists

R U ready?

3 finalists in random order are:

DeLisa Stiles
Erica Moore

And

Gina Bravata

Uh – oh! Kari didn’t make it but her sis did. There’s gonna be some fighting, isn’t there? Amanda tells the ladies to be proud of themselves because 4 months ago they took a “leap of faith” – in themselves. Why couldn’t it have been a bungee jump without the chord?

Now, for the final Test – In 30 seconds, tell everyone why you deserve to be crowned the Swan?

DeLisa: “During the course of this program — I learned my strength, my beauty and my place in this world. The only limits we face our ones we place on ourselves.”

Erica: “I’ve gone through a constant transformation in my entire life. From Day One! I had no confidence. This whole program has brought so much joy to my life. True inner beauty is what matters.”

Gina: “I had given up on myself so I focused on others. This program has taught me to focus on myself. I can accomplish anything… I want to help others spread their wings and fly (like I have).”

Rachel Love Fraser takes her final walk and gives up the crown like a plastic surgeon’s version of Miss America. Rachel says, “I used to wake up every day like I was in a rut. Now I’m ready to take on the world.”

Are you ready for the winner? Are you ready for this to be over? Are you ready?

2nd runner up – Erica Moore
1st runner up – Gina Bravata

and the Swan 2 is ….

DeLisa Stiles! (Big Shocker, right! They set her up to win from the beginning of this pageant. I was glad she won considering who was in the Pageant with her but still I could’ve skipped the pageant and still been glad for her.)

——————– Please, don’t email me (panndyra@realityshack.com) with comments on this. I’m ashamed enough — that I watched the pageant. Feel free to check out the Reality Shack Holiday Gift Guide for a copy of the Swan Curriculum. http://www.realityshack.com/giftguide

Focus on Catty – Starting Over, 12-20-04

It stands to reason that when Iyanla enters the Group Session today and announces today’s topic will be Focus, that she isn’t counting on the women focusing on all the wrong stuff. Yet, in the course of the show, things go from bad to better to worse.

After the beginning of the Group Session focusing on Cassie and her non-blonde hair once again, Iyanla passes out peacock feathers to everyone. They are asked to balance the feathers on the tip of their fingers. After all falter, Iyanla shares with them that the purpose of this exercise is to learn focus, by focusing on one thing, the eye at the tip. Not surprisingly, Renee seems to have the most trouble focusing on the balance. Even less surprising is that Towanda seems to do the best with it, as she is currently focusing intently on her solo concert one day away. The one surprise is that Cassie doesn’t claim that her non-blonde hair is the reason behind her inability to focus. I’m sorry … I feel for her, but it’s getting old.

Despite the fact that in Group Iyanla urged her to look past the hair and towards why it was such an issue, Cassie just can’t do this. She writes a letter to Rhonda explaining her feelings. She reads it aloud to Sommer, and notes at the end that she has signed it “Cassie” and not “Thanks, Cassie.” Sommer urges if she feels that strongly, to read it to Rhonda. Cassie goes to the kitchen, finds Renee, and reads it again, noting once more the ending. Renee also urges her to read it to Rhonda.

Rhonda and Cassie have a private session, and we all know what the focus of this will be. Cassie reads her letter, once again noting the exclusion of the word “thanks.” I can’t help but think how juvenile it seems to repeatedly point out that she is not thanking someone. Rhonda appears to agree, as she refers to Cassie as an eight-year-old little girl. As Cassie still doesn’t get it, Rhonda leaves and comes back wearing a black wig. She wants to show Cassie that her hair doesn’t change her; she is the same person. Cassie does understand that concept but can’t understand why she just can’t get a few blonde highlights. While noting that Cassie is fighting for something so silly, Rhonda does add that this is the most real she has ever seen Cassie. I have to agree there. Instead of the little baby doll voice, with all the sweetness, she’s angry, and she’s letting everyone know. There is something else there that needs to be dealt with and figured out, and if she goes back to blonde, she’ll only put the mask right over it again. Rhonda tells her to write another letter.

Rhonda moves on to a meeting with Sommer, and tells her her focus the next few days will be on her remaining step of intimacy. She wants Sommer first to make a chart – one one side is the goals of a man looking for a short-term relationship, and on the other the goals of a man looking for a long-term relationship. She instructs her to call her male friends and get their input, and of course, her first phone call is to Ed. Her chart complete, Sommer moves on to a meeting with Dr. Stan. He points out to Sommer how interesting it is to him that Sommer’s traits of a man looking for a long-term relationship are all negative. He knows Sommer is afraid of this.

Iyanla holds a one-on-one with Renee, trying to get to the bottom of her issues to see why she has such lack of focus on herself, and is so angry. She asks her to list the bad things that have happened to her, which Renee does easily, until she stops and asks if she needs to list things that happened a long time ago. Telling Iyanla it’s a secret, Iyanla knows this is code for something violently abusive happening to her. Iyanla tells her if she doesn’t know, she can’t help her, and as her life coach, she knows to know the things that hurt her the most. Renee finally tells Iyanla that a male babysitter touched her and her friend inappropriately when she was seven- or eight-years-old. The worst was that she kept it a secret for years, and when she eventually told her mom, her mom wouldn’t believe her. Iyanla is happy to get to the bottom of Renee’s anger and selfishness. They now know where to begin their focus.

While it was good to get it out of her, Renee is having a hard time after bringing those feelings to the surface again, leaving her a little more angry. Her and Rachel tussle in the kitchen a little. Rachel, Denise and Cassie leave to run some errands, and by no surprise, Cassie wants to stop at Target to buy a curling iron. This girl definitely has focus. After this she gets a little catty and talks about Sommer, and her breaking the rules by having some type of relationship with a member of the production staff, although it is probably just talking with this person, it’s still against the rules. Rachel picks up the cattiness ball and runs with it, talking about Rachel, saying she thinks she’s in the house for the wrong reasons.

Back at the house, Renee finds the cattiness ball and says she’s irritated with Rachel. It’s Sommer’s turn to run away with the ball as she says she doesn’t trust Rachel. She believes all those tears over her difficult childhood are fake, and that she is snowing everyone. The other women return home, and surprisingly Cassie is sitting at the table with Renee instead of curling her hair. Renee starts talking about her feelings about being upset, and Cassie says it’s great to see her open up, but Renee can see that there is something Cassie’s words. She knows they must have been gossiping about her while out on their errands. Rachel can’t keep out of the conversation, and comes up telling Renee she’s in the house for the wrong reasons. This escalates into a shouting match, and a shocked Denise, on the phone, drops her wine glass on the floor as she stretches the phone cord to hear what is being said.

Is this what Iyanla planned when she wanted the women to learn focus this day? I’m thinking not. However, it is good they are very obviously focusing on themselves, but they take the issue too far and focus on the others’ negative traits. This issue isn’t over, and in previews we see that Renee will slam the front door behind her in disgust, saying she wants to leave as she doesn’t trust anyone. Whether this is for good or just a momentary temper tantrum, they leave us wondering. We also see a special meeting called, with Iyanla saying the sanctity of the house is in question. While I originally believed it was that they found out Cassie had put Lemon Joy in her hair, they show Sommer nodding, and it seems maybe they are again back to Sommer immersing herself in the production staff. This entire week seems like it will be a ‘must-see’ TV event.

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

Interview With Ann Markley of America's Next Top Model 3



by aurora

Ann was told almost every week that her photos weren’t good enough, yet she outlasted several other models who had fabulous photos. What was it about Ann that kept her in the running until the final four? Find out here!

Hi Ann! Have you mended fences with Eva yet, or do you still think there are issues the two of you need to work out?

Well, we haven’t really been able to talk much yet, but we’ve chatted a couple of times. We’ve sort of worked things out. That whole situation was like when you have a very close friend and you have a stupid fight – you always end up making up. We will always be friends. But just friends! So many people thought I was obsessed or in love with her!

Going into this, were you prepared for the amount of drama that went down?

I knew that if you put 14 girls together that there would be drama. I expected it, but I didn’t want to cause it. That’s the way it’s been all my life; I don’t want to be involved in the drama, but I always end up causing it.

You got a lot of criticism about your photos each week, yet you outlasted quite a few girls who consistently churned out great pictures. What do you think gave you the edge to last as long as you did?

The judges saw potential in me. Nole called me his ‘orgasmic letdown’ – he knew I had it in me to have these great photos, and they all kept telling me how beautiful I am in person. The photos weren’t bad, they just expected more from me and I had to keep stepping it up. On top of that, there’s so much more to modeling than the photos. Commercials, the runway – I could do all of that!

Well let’s be honest – your photos weren’t all that bad either!

I don’t think they were either! Diane Von Furstenberg loved my beauty shot. The panel was always split down the middle; sometimes they loved me, sometimes they hated me.

So let’s clear up the “favourite band/actress” thing. It looked like there was some heavy editing in that scene – can you explain what went down?

My tastes are so diverse and I like such a broad spectrum of things, so it’s hard for me to nail down favourites. Even my friends are such a diverse and different group of people.

I was trying to explain that to them, but I did understand what they were getting at. They wanted me to identify with something that would bring out some passion in my photos. I got that. I just don’t think that for me, it would have made a difference.

For the record though, I love 80’s rock. Motley Crue and Poison are my faves,

If they did an “America’s Next Top Model, All-Star Edition”, would you participate?

It would depend on where I was with my career. I’m planning on moving to New York in January, so hopefully things will take off for me there. If I thought I needed more practice or more experience, then I’d do it again. I loved the experience – we were all treated very well!

If you did it again, what would you do differently the second time around?

I would try – you know, the friendship with Eva wasn’t even a choice. We met and it was just an undeniable friendship. But if I had to do it all again, I would try to distance myself from making friends and try to concentrate more on the modeling.

Was there any one judge on the panel who you thought was more difficult to impress than the others?

No, there’s wasn’t any one specifically. It was always just hard to know what would make them happy. They were all different, and all looking for different things, and it was dependant upon the girl to bring that out. They were all equally difficult.

Norelle told me last week that you all had a ton of fun while you were there. Are you disappointed that the viewers didn’t get to see much of that in favour of the more dramatic moments?

Sure, I would have liked to have seen the funnier moments on television. But people forget that it’s a TV show – they want to show the juicy stuff, the things that will get people talking after the show is over. And that’s the drama.

There were so many funny things that happened. We had so much fun! And just so you know, that boy who called me that Norelle told you about – he’s my boyfriend now. We’ve known each other for along time.

I remember one night, he left his cell phone in a cab and we were screwing with the cab driver, calling him at all hours on the cell phone. It was just so funny! I don’t think Norelle could say anything that wasn’t funny, she’s just a blast.

When you left the night you were cut, did you have a gut feeling as to who the winner would be?

All three of the remaining girls were beautiful inside and out. They all take beautiful pictures, and I thought any one of them could walk away with the title of America’s Next Top Model.

Thanks for your time Ann, and good luck to you!

Thanks! Thanks a lot!

Comments are welcome! Contact me at carrie@realityshack.com.


Destiny – Starting Over, 12-17-04

by LauraBelle

I can’t help it. As Rhonda is asking the women in the Starting Over house, “What is your destiny?” all I think of is Michael J. Fox’s future father telling his future mother in Back To The Future, “I am you density” instead of “I am your destiny.” I am sure this is not what Rhonda meant when she posed the question, yet my mind still wanders there.

As Rhonda goes around the room, many say their destiny is to somehow help others, with Denise saying she is sure she will be helping others with her humor somehow. Sommer begins to break down, crying and noting all the hard work she knows she will have to continue even when she goes back home, to begin to find out what her destiny is. She says she doesn’t know why she’s crying. Denise, reverting to her old ways, tells Sommer maybe she’s crying because it’s her destiny to cry.

Rhonda immediately jumps on her, calling the remark flippant. Everyone else, clearly uncomfortable, agrees it was rather flippant. Later, even Denise agrees it was flippant, and realizes it was another of her attempts for attention. While she believes her destiny is to make people laugh, she is now beginning to realize her humor hurts people sometimes as well. Rhonda informs them there is a Board of Review that night.

Before Denise can define her destiny, she needs to clean up her life. She has so many things scattered about, there is no way she can come to a clear understanding of herself. Rhonda knows that Denise seems to understand everything she has learned in the house, but is questioning her desire to change, since she still doesn’t follow through and execute. She even tells Denise that she finds herself not believing Denise when she says she wants to change, as if she wanted to, she’d be doing it. I have to say I agree with that one, and have even used that same logic on my eleven-year-old son. And when I do, I can hear my father telling me twenty-five years ago, after I’d say, “I know”, saying, “No, you don’t know. If you did, you’d be doing it.”

After Rhonda sees the little progress Denise has made in keeping her living area clean and orderly, she sends in a professional organizer to help Denise, to see what Denise will do with additional knowledge. The Organizer, looking at Denise’s bathroom products spread from her counter to Towanda’s two counters, and her clothes in a laundry basket and an additional pile on the floor, sees an immediate need. The first thing she does is give Denise a drawer insert, telling her the good thing about those was you could still drop things in drawers, you just had to compartmentalize it at the same time. Moving on to the bedroom, everyone agrees Denise is a “shover.” Asked where she keeps her paperwork, Denise pulls a pile out from under her nightstand. The Organizer shows her a bin where she can store her paperwork in three sections – In, Working, and Out. Denise appears astonished they make such things. Okay, I’m not always the most organized either, but I do know the tools exist.

Cassie is still pouty and upset with her hair. She’s not willing to think about the change, so Rhonda notes she won’t ever like it. She is so tied to her blonde hair, she can’t see past how changes might be necessary sometimes. She can’t even begin to see where her destiny might lead her, as all she knows right now is that her destiny will lead her to have blonde hair.

At the Board of Review, I had expected Sommer to hear she was graduating, but this wasn’t the case. She wasn’t even reviewed. First up is Cassie. There is a layer of tension so thick around the table when she is up before everyone for her review, that garden shears would be needed to cut it. All of the talk is still centered around her hair. She still can’t see that she looked bad before, or looks better now, so she basically hears nothing. Rhonda tells her she only seems to be putting herself into her assignments that she enjoys. If her assignment is the least bit hard, she can’t seem to put herself into it. Everyone agrees her past was hard, but she needs to get past it, accept the style change and move on. We know she is only half-listening as she receives a B for her effort thus far.

Denise is called up next, and I guess that makes sense. Every time someone is called before the life coach on a day when there is to be a Board of Review, and they are told privately by their life coach that they need to be putting more effort into everything, they get called up for review. We can see where t his is going for Denise. As expected, she gets called out for not putting every bit of herself into it. Even she gives herself a C in most areas, when asked by the life coaches what she would give herself. Her housemates say she still leaves messes around and can’t find things. As expected, she gets a C, and just like the others before her, she questions why she is there and considers leaving.

One of Rachel’s assignments is day had been to make her mother’s favorite dessert, and share it with her housemates. They all sit around the table to enjoy peanut butter cookies and Ovaltine. Rachel tells how she was told that her mother always had to stir the glass of Ovaltine three times, and she demonstrates clink, clink, clink. The other women appear to be sincerely touched to share this with her. Rachel asks them to share what they remember about their own mothers. Towanda remembers picking berries and making pies. This discussion was a great tie-in to their theme of destiny. Rachel now sees she wasn’t destined for a life without a mother, as she still has one, and just needs to honor her memory and the time spent with her.

Seemingly after everyone else is in bed, Cassie is downstairs at the kitchen sink in her bathrobe. She washes her hair with dish liquid, trying to rid herself of the darker dye. This won’t bode well with Rhonda; we just not know it. This is not a good day for her to think about her destiny. She sees no future without her blonde hair.

I think it was an interesting placement of their women’s time in the house to talk about destiny. The seasoned veteran Sommer, acknowledges the work she’s done so far, and fears what changes going home will bring. Towanda sees a life of helping others, just before her probable last big assignment of her solo concert. Denise knows the area it has to deal with, but can’t pinpoint it, and the others can’t even begin to think of going there yet. There is too much work to do.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

The Fragility of Self Esteem – Starting Over, 12-16-04

by LauraBelle

A person’s self esteem can be tied to so many different sources, that when a person displays a particularly low self esteem, it can be difficult to know where to start to bring some change. Much of it is physical, but can this be changed before we learn to accept ourselves more and are open to the changes?

Today’s group meeting was led by Dr. Stan and focused on self esteem. He started by going around the room and asking all of the women what they would place their self esteem at on a scale of one to ten, and then followed asking where their friends and families would believe their level of self esteem to be. Four of the women placed their self esteem at seven or higher, and believed their loved ones would think it was the same or higher. Sommer thought hers to have improved now to around six or six-and-a-half, but thinks others probably think she is an eight or higher. Sommer has had such a hard time accepting herself as anything but overweight and unworthy even after her gastric bypass, so this is good news to hear from her. Sadly, Cassie places her self esteem at three, and believes others think of her as only having a one on that scale.

Dr. Stan finds it very interesting that five of these women have great self esteem, and Cassie does not. Struggling with self esteem issues most of my life, I find it hard to understand how someone enters the Starting Over house accepting they need to make some drastic changes in their life, but having good self esteem. Two of these women have joined the show in the past two weeks, yet they had among the highest of self esteem. While not making sense to me, I suppose not everyone that knows they need to make changes has to think badly of themselves.

Dr. Stan tells Cassie that aside from the work he is already doing with her on her self esteem, today she is going to get some help externally. Citing the troubles she had in her meeting with the tutor the day before, he asks why Cassie felt the need to tell her tutor of her the attempted rape against her. She says it was what she was feeling at the time. He suggests she needs to stop telling this story to move past it. He believes she needs to completely change on the outside to move past her difficult early years and says they are going to start this today, and that there is someone who is going to come in and help her. Screams lift the room as Starting Over Graduate, and makeover specialist Andy Paige, enters.

Cassie says she is so excited to have someone like Andy help her. She doesn’t care what changes are asked of her, she is ready and willing to make them. Andy starts in Cassie’s closet, showing her where she needs to make the first changes. As they move on to a clothing store, Andy shows her she needs to highlight some of the great body she has. She has such a tiny waist, it really needs to not be hidden, and instead draw attention to it.

As they move to the salon, and she sits in the chair, Cassie begins to feel the anxiety. A natural brunette, who is now a bleached blonde with light skin and dark, thick eyebrows, Andy and the colorist discuss bringing more of the dark in. When Cassie questions if she is losing her blonde, they reaffirm that she will be keeping some of it, but it will be less and more of an ashen color than the brassy blonde. Cassie enters it very warily. For someone who was so gung-ho earlier, it seems a little odd.

Moving on to the manicurist, Andy tells Cassie she will look better with some slightly shorter nails and in a pale color. Cassie hates the shorter length, and complains that it hurts when the manicurist is trimming them. Such a tiny little change and she is already resistant. How will she react to her hair color and cut? It just makes us start to wonder if she was truly ready for this.

As the color is finished, and the wet hair is being cut, Cassie is complaining it is way too dark, and is afraid it will be too short. Andy tries to pacify her and says wait till it is dried, it will be lighter, but Cassie remains on the defensive. Once it is completed, Cassie is shocked and outraged. She says this is not blonde. Well, yes it is, and is looks a helluva lot better. Andy, everyone in the salon, and all of us at home can see that. But Cassie is not ready to accept it. While still there, her housemates are discussing the changes she might have and should have made. All hope she loses the brassy blonde and gets a cuter, more updated look.

Andy calls Rhonda and they agree to have a meeting with the three of them back at the Starting Over house to move past this. Cassie shows up wearing a babushka. They do all the talking with her still wearing it, and when Rhonda attempts to remove it, Cassie freaks out. Rhonda and Andy face the difficult task of telling her her old look made her look just that … old. At forty-one, they tell her she looked like she was in her fifties. The long blonde hair made her appear at least ten years older. Rhonda tells her she has led a hard life and she looks it. They go on to tell her she is stuck in a time warp, and Andy estimates the look to be somewhere around 1986, which is not surprisingly, the same year Cassie had her son that she gave up for adoption. She is stuck in a year that she is afraid to move past. She is afraid to face that she lost eighteen years of her son’s life. This poor girl lives in such a fantasy world, I don’t think she was anywhere near ready for this.

Cassie reluctantly agrees to keep the look and try it for three days. Rhonda removes the babushka and screams with joy, then goes to talk to the other housemates privately, and ask if they will please support Cassie. She urges them not to lie, but just be supportive, and to take her out to dinner tonight to celebrate the new her. Andy fixes Cassie’s makeup, which is also being updated. Gone is the pale face and red lips. We are now left with a look that is so warm and inviting. As she enters the room, her housemates jump and scream in excitement. They love the new Cassie, who turns around and thanks Andy, but later is complaining again, saying she agreed to the three days, but doesn’t think she will ever like it.

As they sit down to dinner in an outside restaurant, the same one they went to when trying to bring Sommer out of her shell, they show her how the waiter was making eyes at her, and tell her the honks from the street in front are aimed at her. She doesn’t believe them at all.

I don’t think this poor girl was ready for this. She was still too fragile, and was now told she looked old, was practically wearing every bad thing that ever happened to her and was stuck in a time warp. Would it not have been more appropriate to broach this subject for those three days, and THEN move in for the kill? At this point, we know they are right, but are questioning their motives and how they went about it. She does look better and younger, but she will never believe it, still living in her fantasy world. The woman has a crush on John Davidson for gosh sakes.

I just can’t imagine even having good self esteem and being told you look old, like you have had a hard life and are living in a time warp. Imagine how distraught a person would be hearing all that, after they had just admitted their self esteem was at a three. Yet, they are doing this to change her self esteem. The whole process seems a little backwards to me.

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

The Brunette Bully Brigade – Rebel Billionaire, Episode 6

[i]by atarus[/i]

I apologize for the lateness of this recap, I just finished my last exam this morning, and sometimes school comes before reality TV. (Yeah, I hate it too, but life goes on.)

We start off the episode with Branson telling us that he wants to see how the contestants do when they are taken out of their element. Apparently the women’s element is fighting, because Erica is already talking about how Candida always contradicts herself when she talks. Sara says that Erica and Nikki always put people down and she doesn’t like that they treat people poorly. Candida calls them the “Brunette Bully Brigade.”

Candida is the only person that hasn’t been a team leader yet, so she is automatically one of the team leaders. Branson is facilitating a team shuffle, so Candida has to pick the other team leader, and she chooses Nicole. Candida takes Heather, Steve, and Gabriel for her team, and Nicole has Erica, Shawn, and Sara. Before the challenge, Branson takes the teams to dine at the royal palace in Morocco. While dining, Branson has a confessional about Steve, saying that when he first met him he was a nice guy, but lately another side to Steve has been coming out. During the dinner, belly dancers come in to entertain, and Gabriel says that they “capped off the dream dinner.” Shawn says that while the dinner is enjoyable, he’s stressed about the challenge because he doesn’t want to face elimination again.

Branson says that their task is to decorate a suite. Virgin is building a hotel in Morocco, and they want the two suites to be the most beautiful in the world. The teams have to complete their suite with $5000 by 5 PM tomorrow. They have roughly 24 hours. Branson says it will be interesting to watch since none of the teams speak the language and they need to buy all their things from the market.

Erica and Nicole decide that the theme for their room will be MoRockin’. (Clever, very clever…..not.) Meanwhile, Gabriel on the other team comments that the market is quite large. Candida tells the group that they need lamps and decorations, and she wants something with a splash (some sort of fountain). Gabriel says that she is focusing on the icing on the cake before getting the cake, and Steve says that Candy “has no idea what’s going on” and she got everyone on her team to lose any respect for her as a leader before the first hour of the challenge was up.

Nicole whines that bartering in Morocco is hard. That’s it for that team! Now we’re back to Candida who says that her team isn’t cohesive and calls Gabriel “stupid” for wanting to get a bed for the room first. The other team decides to split up, and Sara and Nikki go into the market for things while Shawn and Erica are going to oversee painting the room. Back on Candy’s team, Steve is talking to Heather and says that their leader is basically useless, and their other teammate (Gabriel) makes no sense. Later at night, Candida starts freaking out because *gasp* people are touching her in the market. She nearly has a spaz attack in the middle of the market with Heather trying to calm her down. Steve remarks that at the end of the day all they have is a bed.

Morning comes, and Candida wants to buy as much stuff as possible with Steve. Steve tells Heather “we’re going to have to overthrow our leader.” Back to the other team, Sara is scared because the curtain person they were going to get their curtains from is closing early and the curtains are a huge part of the room. They manage to get to the curtain person in time and seal the deal on the curtains, and Sara says that they dodged a bullet. Back to Candida, who is begging people for a good deal, and Steve knows that’s not how you barter in Morocco, and he pantomimes shooting himself while Candida talks. Later, talking with Heather, he tells her that Candida negged every one of his ideas and so everything’s going to be blue because Candida’s favorite color is blue.

Time is winding down for both teams, and Shawn commits a crucial error for his team…he spills a bucket of paint that splashes all over the room. Uh oh! He says that he feels like a moron and they have to fix it, otherwise he’s probably toast. Gabriel remarks that they are at a completely frenetic pace, they’re finishing touches at the end and he’s not sure they can do it. Branson arrives at five and tells them to exit the rooms. He inspects Candida’s room first and says it looks like a student version of a suite…he likes the lights but the curtains are awful. The other room, according to Sir Richard, is incredible, he is amazed they pulled it together in 24 hours. With very little dramatic fashion, he declares Nicole’s team the winner. Nicole is ecstatic that she won, and Candida is annoyed she lost to Nicole. At this point, Branson pulls a Donald Trump and very obviously dubs over the episode at the point where he’s “telling” Candida about having to choose someone to go up against.

Candida talks to each person on her team for advice on who to take. Gabriel and Heather both say Steve, and Steve says Gabriel, because “there’s no way he’d lose to Candida in a challenge.” The next morning, Candida chooses Steve and says that he’s said and done things that are hurtful, but Steve says he has no idea what she’s talking about. The twist to this particular elimination is that Heather and Gabriel are a part of it too. Steve and Gabriel work together, as do Heather and Candida. Heather and Gabriel are set off on horseback into the middle of the desert area. Steve and Candida’s job is to find them just by having the other person navigate them to their location. Once there, they will have to use a military helicopter to find Sir Richard in the city of Morocco.

Heather and Candida get off to a rough start, and Steve and Gabriel seem more on top of things. Candida complains that she “has no idea how she’s going to find Heather.” Steve finds Gabriel first, and he opens a letter Branson gave him that reveals five locations Branson might be at. Him and Gabe are off. Candida eventually finds Heather, and Heather gives Candy the advice that “when they were at the Riad (sp?) was when Branson said to “pay attention to their surroundings” so maybe they should go there first. Candida says they are taking a huge risk in going straight to Riad.

However, the risk pays off as they spot Richard at the Riad. The men are having trouble locating Richard as Candy and Heather climb out of the helicopter. Steve and Gabe spot Richard at the Riad, and it turns into a TAR-type footrace to see who finds Branson the quickest…and Candida and Heather beat out the men. *tear* It’s elimination time. Erica says that while Candida made her team lose, Steve’s been shady. Shawn says he expects Richard to send Steve home. Steve complains that Candida is “the worst leader in the world.”

Branson tells Candida that she wasn’t friends with her team and it’s hard to be a leader without the camaraderie. He tells Steve that he has promised to “lie, cheat, and do whatever it takes to succeed.” In the end, one has to be eliminated…..and it’s Steve. Branson says that Steve became “too Machiavellian for his own good.” Steve warns Branson about who he chooses, because certain people will stab you in the back. (Honestly, I think Steve should have applied for Survivor. He would have fit in better.)

Next time on Billionaire, they’re going to Japan! They have to put on a big show, and we see Sara, Nicole, and Erica dancing in stewardess uniforms (and Heather remarking she doesn’t like how overbimboed the presentation is.) For the challenge, two people have to hang on for dear life, but as tensions mount and players start arguing, a “new threat” emerges.

Looking at the editing, I’m going to find it difficult to believe that Erica, Nicole, or Candida will get the position. They are just getting too much negative focus. Heather, Sara, Shawn, and Gabriel all have more positive edits, and I think one of them will be the new Virgin owner. E-mail me at atarus33@yahoo.com if you think differently. Until next week.

Eva the Diva Brings It On Home, Y’all

by Panndyra, Goddess of Chaos

{Author Note: I live in Texas, y’all and well the show was preempted due to a college basketball game. I love basketball but had set my DVR and didn’t count on them going overtime. So, I saw the final minutes before I saw the beginning. UGH!!!! I hate to backtrack.}

BTW – VH-1 is airing the entire season of ANTM 3 as a marathon on Saturday! Catch it if you can.

It’s the final three – Amanda, Eva and Yaya. At the end of the last episode, they were all told by Tyra that the judges don’t feel confident in any of them as America’s Next Top Model. Harsh words, but the girls realize that they need to ‘bring it.’ It’s on, y’all.

Amanda has to work on her presence in person. On camera, she’s flawless. In person, she’s all hippie-dippie. Eva needs to work on toning down the spunk and serving up some elegance. Yaya is regal and refined, but maybe too much so, sometimes bordering on arrogance.

Yaya — arrogant? Color me shocked. Nah. She’s just educated at an Ivy League University. She spit out a Japanese pickled plum and wore a respeito t-shirt when she called out the immaturity surrounding her.

Not Yaya. Never.

Amanda mentions how Ann hugged her and Yaya before she left, but not Eva. She said that Eva treated Ann like “poo.” Hmmm? That’s some seriously creative editing because I’ve seen Ann treat Eva pretty poorly too. Yaya says that even if she and Amanda could do something to make Eva feel more included, they “probably wouldn’t.” And Eva’s the only b&*ch in the house? As a b%&*h myself, I feel qualified to sniff b*#tchitude out in others… yes, like a dog.

(Hmmm… Maybe the significance is just funny to me because I know what you call a female dog. I was educated you know… I’m being naughty and I don’t care if Santa gives me coal this year. At least, I’ll be able to heat my house.)

Finally, we get to Tyra mail. It talks about how actresses have usurped covers of magazines – the crowning glory of the supermodels. She says it’s time to reclaim the models’ right to a magazine cover? (I guess Tyra ain’t trying out for Coyote Ugly 2 then. I mean models never try and get all up in the grill of actresses. Rachel Hunter. Rebecca Romijn. Gisele Bundchen. There’s no precedent for model-turned-actress is there?)

Anyway, I’m digressing again. It’s a disease. I have wandering tangentitis. I sure hope Amanda talks about being blind again so I can get some help for my disability. Won’t you help? ‘Tis the season. {Meoooooooooooowww! Who spiked my egg nog?}

The girls get to the photo shoot. Jay Manuel tells them that they’re shooting an ad for Cover Girl. Ahhh! The Tyra mail was a play on words. I get it now. The winner of the competition’s photo will be used in her first campaign for Cover Girl as part of her faboo prize package.

I won’t recite it because Tyra always does and I never really listen when she speaks. I’m always checking out her cleavage (and I don’t even go that way) or Janice Dickinson’s collagen clod-hoppers that some people call lips. They look more like hooves on her face.

Each of the ladies bring their A-game. Amanda was up first and she was just eating up all the praise. She was like ‘I used my inner joy and love for bunny rabbits and Paris to serve up smiles piping hot,’ or something nonsensical like that.

Eva was next. Amanda was watching her and said that Eva smiled nicely but she just didn’t seem to have the “inner smile”. I don’t even want to contemplate the smile from within. I think it may be naughty. If it’s not, it should be. Jay, however, sees a softer side of Eva. She’s let her guard down since the beginning of the competition and he’s very impressed with her internal transformation. (Wait? Isn’t that the catch-phrase of the Swan, which I also re-cap. This week’s is right here. It’s a good review. You should read it. ——— End shameless plug sequence #1).

Finally, there was Miss Yaya. She said that she was trying to use her education to keep her positive. That’s nice. I use my education to write scathing, nasty reviews. Which of us is wasting hers more? I’m not sure right now, but don’t send me an email and tell me it’s me. I don’t want have to prove my mother-in-law right, okay?

* Note – Eva was the Cover Girl of the Week again, y’all. She’s been it since I think Toccara’s departure. Toccara, baby, I miss you. Call me. See we knew what the judges didn’t until the end of this episode. The girl has ‘it’. *

Since there’s no rest for a top model, after the shoot, the finalists made their way to a go-see with Mr. Jay and Ms. Jay. They met with Noriko Fukushima, a prominent Tokyo fashion designer (high fashion that is!). They try on some of her best stuff and look fierce doing it. Yaya complains about her ‘hoochie’, see-through skirt and Amanda hates the modern Japanese wedding dress. However, she plays it off to the designer like she doesn’t.

Cut to the panel. The girls show off their shots with Janice, Tyra, Nole, Nigel, guest judge Noriko and her translator. The panel “oohs” and “aahs” over the photos. I haven’t seen so many fake noises like that since well… you can finish the thought. I have to maintain some decorum.

Words like ‘scrumptious’ and ‘honey’ were used to describe the girls’ pics. Now I’m hungry. Darn it all.

Tyra did chide Amanda for wearing her glasses and reminded her that no designer would let her walk down the runway in them. I never noticed that. Models don’t wear glasses, unless they’re sunglasses and that was only in the 80s so they wouldn’t have to see the ugly-a$$ shoulder pads or suffer blindness from all of the fluorescent colors.

(Uh-oh! I said blindness. Not again. Now I’m becoming what I fear most – Amanda.)

Yaya was the first one into the final two. She was thrilled. Eva and Amanda were told by Miss T that each complements the other. Eva has what Amanda needs – presence – and Amanda has what Eva needs – high fashion knowledge. A ‘top model’ needs both. She also needs to be ‘accessible’. Personally, I don’t know where Tyra gets that idea. Models aren’t accessible really – unless you’re a rock star or movie star.

(Just kidding. Please, oh please, don’t contact me if you are one of these types. Please. Really. I just couldn’t deal with it, unless you were sending me an autograph, cash and/or merchandise.)

In the end, Amanda was sent packing. She was very upset and said that she just wanted everyone to see that people with disabilities can do stuff real good and that her blindness doesn’t stop her from feeling joy and finding joy in everything. It was a very “Zoolander” moment.

She said all of this while crying. Hmmm. Joyful tears? Not sure. It was very inspirational. Can I have a tissue?

Now, this part, to me, was very interesting. I was expecting a Yaya vs. Eva Godzilla/Tokyo style war. Instead what I got was Yaya and Eva mending fences. Yes. They actually began to relate to each other. This is amazing. I think if we put world leaders in a Japanese homestay and vote them off one by one (or execute them – I am a Texan after all), then we could have World Peace, or a worldwide dictatorship in the end. Either way, it may work. We could try the Middle East first.

(I smell a spoof coming on! — End shameless plug sequence #2)

Eva quips that it’s down to the “tomboy” and the “afro-centric” one. Yaya actually laughs. I think the arrogance may be a defense mechanism. Duh. Did we really believe Yaya was that evil? Did you really think I did?

Anyway, the ladies realize that they’re both not so bad once they started to actually talk and listen to each other.

They have their final one-on-one with Tyra. Eva goes first. Tyra asks her if she has any questions and Eva says, “What do you see in me?” Tyra tells her that she sees a young woman who has had a lot of troubles in her life who’s trying hard to be a good person. She may not be perfect, but she’s trying and that’s wonderful.

Eva cries and says she has always looked up to so many different people and hopes that she can be someone that others look up to. (Eva, I look up to you. I’m 5 ft tall. I hear you groaning as you read this. Yes, I do. Stop it.)

Now, it’s Yaya’s turn and they talk about Yaya’s afro-centricity. Tyra tells her that being a black woman and a model don’t have to be mutually exclusive. You can be accessible and sort of cross cultural boundaries and represent an image that others can relate to without giving up your heritage, identity or selfhood. (Wow! That was deep. I winged most of that paragraph.)

Now, they have to go to the Noriko fashion show. It’s their final challenge. Eva loves the catwalk because she can use her diva-ness to her advantage, or so she thinks. When Mr. Jay and Ms. Jay show them that they have to work in a box-shaped catwalk and are then told that they have to walk slow and somber… {oh lordy, I thought the girls were going to lose it.}

The show went off really well except at one point, Eva and Yaya almost collided. I wonder if they have model collision coverage?

When Models Collide (sounds like a FOX – TV special, don’t it?)

As soon as the show was over, the ladies got another shock – they had to go straight to panel. Competition is almost done, y’all (and so is this long-a$$ review). There is no guest judge. They roll footage of the girls on the runway. Yaya is critiqued first.

Yaya was told that she looked too “glacial” and “zombie-like”. Tyra told Eva that she looked like an “egret” – a large, long-legged and long-necked bird. Still not seeing it. Eva’s short. Nigel thought she had the right combo of “sass and zen”.

The panel gives us no indication of who the winner will be. I’m crossing my fingers for Eva. Hoping. Tyra tells the girls how proud she is of them both. They are “true models”. Eva is announced winner and says, “Watch out world – here comes Eva!”

We’re watching.

———- Check out my sassy and sometimes classy reviews of seasonal swag at the Reality Shack Holiday Gift Guide. There’s only 9 shopping days ‘til Xmas. (End shameless plug sequence #3!)

************As always, email comments, complaints and concerns to my evil twin at panndyra@realityshack.com. She’s happy to tell you what we think.********************************************

The Empowerment of Self-Defense – Starting Over, 12-15-04

by LauraBelle

Empowering is such an overused and trite term, but I think in this case it was custom-made for this situation, and perhaps all other situations are the ones that should refrain from using it. The situation, of course, is self-defense training, something that happens to be near and dear to my heart and well-being.

In today’s episode of Starting Over, life coach Rhonda Britten sent the women of the house to a self-defense training seminar. This was done mainly for Cassie’s benefit, but Rhonda hoped the others could gleam benefits from the training as well. I was excited to see the women sent here, as I have been taking Martial Arts classes myself for the past five years – two of those in kickboxing, and the remaining three in Tae Kwon Do. I am currently a Red Belt in Tae Kwon Do and have never felt more empowered.

Cassie, along with so many more women, was abused and also faced an attempted rape at the tender age of fifteen. These incidents forced her to shut herself off from life, quitting school, and becoming dependent on drugs and alcohol. She is in the house to reclaim her life, get her G.E.D., and perhaps reconnect with the son she gave up for adoption eighteen years ago at the height of her dependency on drugs and alcohol.

As the women are shown some defensive stances, I remember being in that situation for the first time myself. It appears awkward, to react physically to a situation you have never felt comfortable in. But once you are able to connect the forcing of someone to back up to previous situations in your life when you let others take advantage of you, it brings it all home, and makes you wish you had this training years earlier.

The surprise of all in the show, is the woman who is best at defending herself this day is Sommer. Sommer has had the worst opinion of herself of anyone throughout the show, and often felt she deserved bad treatment. But with her one-hundred pound weight loss and greater confidence, she has not only confronted her parents with the true facts of their relationship and her wishes for the future, but she is now standing there in a true powerful stance, forcing everyone to stand up and notice her. She will no longer be denied.

Cassie admits after this class to feeling some greater empowerment. There’s that word again, but it is truly fitting. She is beginning to feel better now about herself, and with the knowledge gained from this class, feels she may not ever be put in that situation again. As the instructor told the class, it isn’t necessarily hitting someone else that causes this empowerment, but your confidence and stance, making you less of a target. If you appear weak, an aggressor knows they can have their way with you. If you appear strong, an aggressor is more likely to move on and search for an easier target. The aggressor isn’t looking for trouble; they are looking to take advantage of someone.

In my own situation, after I gained physical strength and learned how I could force someone to back off of an uncomfortable situation, this strength spilled over into other areas, feeling stronger mentally, socially, and most of all, feeling a strength of conviction. True power comes from knowing your own strength.

Later, Cassie faces this situation as well. She meets with a tutor who is there to help her learn how to study for her G.E.D. She does well until the tutor asks her why she came up with a certain answer. Cassie breaks down and admits her fear that she doesn’t know, and won’t ever begin to figure it out. As the tutor questions her further, Cassie makes her aware of her struggle. She says she faced the attempted rape at the age of fifteen, and felt so horrible about herself after, that she only pretended to go to school every day to keep up the facade, and instead hid every day. Every time she cracks open a text book, she remembers all those old feelings of hiding, not being able to face life.

Cassie’s tutor is very understanding, and tells her she is doing well enough just to face it now and admit to it. She tells Cassie she has done enough for today, and they will do more another time. Cassie hasn’t learned this yet, but she has only begun to find her empowerment. Her true empowerment will come when she realizes she is not gaining strength but had it inside her all along. She never deserved to be treated this way, and had she known that at an earlier age, it could have changed her whole life.

I believe self-defense classes should be taught to all women for that very reason. Women need to know they all have that power inside them. They don’t need to gain it, they need to realize it within themselves. In fact, they should learn it at an early age, before they can have a lifetime of feeling they deserve to be attacked, and before they set before themselves a lifetime of fear. Perhaps self defense should be taught right after sex ed. Once we teach girls how to use their bodies, we should also teach them how to protect them.

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

Interview with Jennifer of Starting Over

by LauraBelle

RS: What advice do you have for kids that are growing up with either a parent with a debilitating disease like MS or who have parents that have been sent to jail?

J: I think the one thing that would have really helped me growing up would have been open communication.

RS: Speaking of that, have you ever thought of using your newfound knowledge to talk to kids about your own struggles and how they can avoid them? Or talk to groups of children of inmates of parents with MS? Your youth and demeanor make it seem like you would be a natural spokesperson.

J: I am actually looking into doing some motivational speaking. I would have never thought to do it before I went on Starting Over, but I think now I have a lot more knowledge and confidence.

RS: Tell us about that necklace you were forced to wear for so long on the show. How many things were actually pinned on there? Did you feel it was a worthy lesson for you?

J: There were 80 tags on the necklace when I started wearing it! I do think it was a good lesson for me because for the first week, I thought of every excuse to take it off. I was trying to handle the necklace situation the same way that I had handled everything else in my life-make excuses. Looking back, I am really glad Iyanla made me wear it. It definitely taught me a good lesson.

RS: What type of a future relationship do you think you will have with the other women in the sisterhood – Towanda, Kim and Iyanla?

J: I know that my future relationships in the “sisterhood” will continue to grow. I talk to Kim everyday. I truly feel blessed having her in the same state as me.

RS: We loved seeing the relationship you formed with Josie on the show. Have the two of you kept in touch?

J: I’m so busy it’s hard to keep in touch with everyone. I’m sure we’ll run into eachother again soon.

RS: Have you ever figured out what it was about Deborah that set you off and triggered things from your past?

J: I think the one thing that triggered me about Deborah was her resistance to the Starting Over process, and I think in her, I was just seeing my own resistance to the Starting Over process.

RS: How have your familial relationships been since you left the house? Do you and Krista continue to have a better understanding of each other? Have you become closer to your mother now that you can talk to her honestly and maturely about your dad? Have you seen your dad in person at the penitentiary?

J: My relationships with my family members are great! My sister and I are continuing to build our relationship. My mom and I are closer than I ever thought we would be. My mom, sister and I went to visit my father when I got home from the Starting Over house. We are planning on going at least once a month from now on.

RS: I have learned a lot about myself through watching the women on Starting Over. Through your struggles, Jennifer, I have come to a greater appreciation of my relationship with my sister that I recreated a relationship with as a young adult as well. I feel I have been able to forgive some of the things from my past as well, after watching you struggle to forgive them and remove those tags from the necklace. Can you tell us what you have learned from each of your other housemates and life coaches while in Starting Over?

J: All of the housemates and life coaches taught me what it was like to be loved unconditionally. All of them took a part in helping me “know love”. I learned so much from each of my housemates individually, it would be nearly impossible to list it all!

Thank you, Jennifer, for taking the time to answer these questions. We have enjoyed watching you grow in the Starting Over House, and we hope you will always know love from hereon out.

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