DWTS: Favorite Dances of Season Eight

Season eight is history. Congratulations to the winners, Shawn and Mark, and to all the finalists. This was a spectacular season, and I’m sure everyone is looking forward to season nine in September.

My top three dances of the season are shown here, and I’ve posted links to a few special mentions.

In first place is Li’l Kim and Derek’s “Jailhouse Rock” jive (week 6). It was also the best dance of that night. Derek, you’re under arrest for stealing my heart!

My second favorite is Shawn and Mark’s freestyle. Energetic and kissed with Mark’s quirkiness—wonderful! Some people say it’s the dance that won Team Shark the trophy.

Third place: Gilles and Cheryl’s quickstep to “Kryptonite” (week 2). Yes, everyone talks about their Argentine tango, but I never forgot this routine. Gilles, you really are Superman!

What are your top three?

Here are a couple other of my favorites:

“The Quintessential Latin Lover”: Gilles and Cheryl’s jaw-dropping Argentine tango (week 4)
You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me: Shawn and Mark’s Aladdin quickstep (week 9)

And let’s not forget the most memorable samba of the season, provided by Steve and Karina. It takes a lot of work to earn a 10…total…

On that note, thanks to the entire Dancing cast for a great season, and congratulations once again to Shawn and Mark!


Team Shark Wins “Dancing with the Stars”

Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson now has Dancing’s “coveted mirror ball trophy” to add to her medal collection. The seventeen-year-old and her professional partner Mark Ballas beat Sex and the City star Gilles Marini and The Bachelor contestant Melissa Rycroft in the show’s closest ever finish, with less than 1% of the votes separating first and second place.

Monday night, Shawn and Mark (a.k.a. “Team Shark”) performed the only perfect-scoring freestyle number, a combination of all the dances learned this season plus some youthful tricks. Judge Bruno Tonioli enjoyed it so much that he pretended to give a score of eleven. Despite the acclaim, the Sharks finished in a tie at fifty-eight points with runners-up Gilles and Cheryl. Melissa and her partner Tony Dovolani claimed third place both that night and overall.

Shawn Johnson is the third Olympian to win the show, joining Apolo Anton Ohno (season four) and another of Mark Ballas’ partners, Kristi Yamaguchi (season six). Tonight, the now two-time winner Mark seemed shocked to hear host Tom Bergeron call his and Shawn’s names.

All six finalists will appear tomorrow on Good Morning America.

The results of the first-ever Pro Dancer Competition were also announced tonight. Anna Demidova defeated Mayo Alanen for the chance to dance with a celebrity next season.

“Digimon Data Squad” Boxset? Oh, yeah!

Digimon fans, rejoice! A legal boxset of season five, Digimon Data Squad (the English Digimon Savers dub), will become available online on May 26 through retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. You can pre-order it now on all three sites. The set contains three disks with the first thirteen episodes: “There are Monsters Among Us” to “The Rise of RizeGreymon.” And since it’s labeled “Collection One,” we can expect at least two or three more volumes soon to complete the series.

Besides the English version of Digimon RPG, this might be some of the best Digimon news I’ve heard in a while. While Digimon Data Squad is not my favorite season, it still has its charms, and I am definitely going to buy these DVDs. Plus, it’s about time someone released a real Digimon boxset, instead of the bootlegs floating around. (Do these season one and season two covers look familiar?)

An Amazon user wrote a review of the boxset that ruffled me up a little, so I want to say a few words about the dub versus original “debate.” I’ll speak more about it later, but to summarize, fans should watch what they like. If you like the Japanese version more, fine, but don’t tell the rest of us what to watch. Not everyone thinks dubs are horrible. Personally, I prefer the Digimon dub. The original actually bores me. Does that mean I’m childish just because the dub is marketed towards children? No. It simply means the dub interests me in a way that the original does not. Bottom line. Whatever that appeal is, it isn’t necessarily the same as it is for a younger fan. There are shows I would rather watch the Japanese version of than the English version—Tokyo Mew Mew is an example—but it’s not a quality issue but a taste issue. Everyone have different tastes. That’s what being an individual is about.

That said, back to the point.

If you’re a fan of the show, please buy this boxset. If it’s popular enough, Disney might…might…decide to release not only the rest of this season but the other four as well. What a collection that would be!

Camp Ponderosa: What Happens on the Tribe Beach Stays There

Camp Ponderosa—for those who don’t know—is where the Jury lives until the end of the game, when they have to decide who wins the million dollars. You know how Jeff says, “We’ll now bring in the members of our Jury” at the beginning of each Tribal Council, right? Well, that’s where they’re coming from. The Ponderosa “tribe” gets constant meals, tents to sleep in, bathroom and shower facilities, counseling from a psychologist (another Jeff in this season), and mini vacations.

But the most important thing about Ponderosa is that it brings the players back together. The game is over. The stress of suspicion, competition, scheming, backstabbing, and alliance-making is behind them. All that remains are the fundamental building blocks of the game: people, and the eliminated players have the chance to construct something more lasting and positive out of them. Unsurprisingly, “enemies” become friends and all the laundry, dirty and clean, is laid out. The players can finally be themselves, completely open, without worrying about how it might affect their place in the game. They can step away and realize how trivial it all was.

As of now, there are three Jury members (eliminated in the following order): Brendan, Tyson, and Sierra. Brendan and Sierra were part of the semi-secret “Exile Alliance,” which originally included Taj and Stephen and adopted J.T. after the merge. Tyson was a co-founder of the dominant “Warrior Alliance,” now lead by Coach and Debbie. Tyson (along with half the other players) hated Sierra; in fact, during his last three days in the game, he intentionally mocked and insulted her as much as possible, just to make what he thought were her last three days more painful. He actually said he wanted to see her cry at Tribal Council. As for Brendan and Tyson, their rivalry came mostly from being members of opposing alliances. Brendan was the head of the dragon Coach’s alliance wanted to slay. (The only way to understand that is to watch the show.)

But that seemed to disappear when they each crossed the bridge to Ponderosa. Tyson even welcomed Sierra with a hug. Soon the three of them were laughing and chatting together more than they ever would have on the beach. You can watch it for yourself here:

Brendan Part 1 | Brendan Part 2

Tyson Blindsided | Food Overload | Tribal Council

Sierra in Ponderosa | Slip and Slide | Gold and Geysers

I think we fans forget the Survivors are regular people outside of this game. In a high-stakes competition, anyone can become devious, dishonest, and unkind and say and do unexpected things. Because this is a television show, the players become “characters,” and we viewers assign qualities to them based on what we watch, just like we would with cartoon characters. But real humans are multi-dimensional, and their personalities aren’t inked and filmed into place. What we see isn’t always what we get.

Take the game away, and the Survivors are allowed to act more like they would in real life; that’s when we get to see them (and they get to see each other) in a purer light.

More Than Weather: NOAA Posts Links to Swine Flu Info

NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), generally associated with The National Weather Service, is pulling double duty by adding a green box of links marked “2009 Flu Info” to their home page. The links only lead to government health sites, of course, such as WHO, HHS (Human Health and Services), and the CDC. So if you’re someone who frequents NOAA’s website, you now have another place to get both the recent weather and health news.

Of course, this also shows the extent of the fear about the swine flu. Health may have a lot to do with climate, but to me, NOAA’s still seems to be stepping out of their boundary. Or maybe they’ve done this before—I don’t know. Can we go nowhere without getting the swine flu bulletin waved in our faces? As excessive as the hype is, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; that’s the intent of this move: to help people prepare.

Swine Flu: Deadly Hype

Scientists have discovered the H1N1 virus lacks a key amino acid found in deadlier flu strains. This means the swine flu is not lethal. That doesn’t mean no one will die, as some people already have, but widespread deaths are unlikely. Influenza can mutate easily, so it could be temporary good news. However, a vaccine like the shot Americans get every year is in production, and just like with seasonal flu, health officials will monitor any mutation.

So, the situation isn’t as bad as it seems to be, yet everyone’s panicked about it. Is the fear more virulent than the flu itself?
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It’s the End of the World…Again

Swine Flu, Avian Flu, SARS, Hurricane Katrina, The Indonesian Tsunami, 9/11, the World Wars—every time there is a disaster, someone in the religious community declares it the beginning (or continuation) of the end, and they have Bible verses to prove it. Some people have gone so far as to mark our exact final day (sometime in 2012, if you have not heard). Well, here’s my two cents.

Yes, I believe the world will eventually end. When? I have no idea, and neither do the people who say they do. All anyone can do is speculate. Wars and disasters have been occurring since time began. What about the Black Plague? The American Revolution? The Civil War? These events were as horrific as recent ones—perhaps even more so—and “evangelicals” were as sure then as now that we had only a few years left on this Earth. Yet we’re still here.

Trying to pinpoint a date is useless. The more you get it wrong (and you will), the less people will believe you—it’s the simple “boy who cried wolf” phenomenon. Instead, if you’re so worried about everyone (or really everyone’s souls), get them saved so they will be ready when the last day sneaks up on all of us. There are better ways to do that than scaring people into being “desperate for God,” literally. (The term “fire insurance” comes to mind.)

The church is meant to be a house of refuge, right? Not a house of prophecy. God will handle those details.