Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 8 Perform, 2 Eliminated

We're heading fast toward the finale here, aren't we? Which must mean we are also heading fast toward the end of summer, if you can believe it. Although here in Los Angeles, school is already back in session, making driving to work all the more annoying, so I guess summer is already sort of over for me. But let's get back to something much more fun than traffic - dancing! Joining Nigel and Mary on the judging panel this week is Jenna Dewan-Tatum for the special Michael Jackson tribute show.

Along with the partner dances with all-stars, we are also seeing everyone's solos as well.

Tanisha - Solo. Wow, talk about sexy. She just knows how to sell that.

Ricky and all-star Jaimie - Travis Wall contemporary. I'm not sure I entirely got the "message" of this dance where Jaimie was supposed to be depressed and Ricky was supposed to be the light, blah blah. I guess because she didn't seem that depressed in the beginning. It was beautifully danced, though, of course. I'm not sure there's anything he can do wrong. And of course he is safe, I mean if he wasn't safe, that would be the shock.

Zack - Solo. It's nice to finally see him do some tap. He's really great at the slide-y type moves. Very fun.

Valerie and all-star Ryan - Jean Marc Genereux samba. I think that's the most skin we've ever seen her show, whoa. I'm not sure I thought that was the best samba in the world. Those samba rolls could have used a little bit more work. The rest of it was pretty good, though. Mary gives her quite a few compliments, though, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Is she safe, though? Wow, she IS safe, even though they didn't much like her routine last week.

Casey - Solo. I mean, I love his music choice. He's definitely a strong dancer, but I always feel like I lack a little personality or something.

Rudy - Solo. His solo is all about strength rather than pure elegance, which plays to his strengths. Definitely a good solo.

Casey and all-star Comfort - Pharside and Phoenix hip hop. I am so distracted by the black widow marking on Comfort, ack. She is pretty much out-dancing him, though he does hold his own. He definitely had a lot more personality in this than he normally does, especially since the routine was pretty theatrical. Nigel makes a "whatever happens in the show" comment which makes me think he is in danger. And as Cat reveals, he is in the bottom.

Jacque - Solo. She is definitely the best when she is doing her ballet thing. Nice and elegant.

Tanisha and all-star Nick - Stacey Tookey contemporary. A nice little routine, I suppose, though I didn't find anything that was particularly memorable about it. I was honestly kind of distracted by the music in this one. And sadly it looks like Tanisha is going to be in the bottom just based on logic, boo. Nigel comments that she needs to show more of her vulnerable side, and I guess that is probably true in terms of gaining votes, as yes, she is in the bottom two.

Jessica - Solo. Man this is just full of the things that kind of bother me about her. Too much hairography and face pulling.

Rudy and all-star Allison - Ray Leeper jazz (? I guess it's considered jazz). Can we just have Allison in all of the things? I must admit I was watching her nearly the entire time. Yeah, Rudy was good, but I feel like it was just more of his strong stuff when they said he should be a bit more vulnerable? I really did like the routine on the whole, though, it was a great combo with the Dirty Diana song and the choreography. The audience is going crazy, so it's actually a bit of a surprise he's in the bottom.

Valerie - Solo. It's always fun to see Valerie tap as well, but if I had to choose I would probably pick Zack to watch? Not that I don't like her, I do!

Zack and all-star Mackenzie - Spencer Liff Broadway. You know, I really like Zack. He's become one of my favorites just because he is so versatile and it's always such a surprise when he does so well. That being said, I'm not sure I really liked this routine. It felt just slightly lackluster to me, though I'm not entirely sure that was his fault necessarily. Nigel seemed a bit lukewarm on the routine as well, though he was fairly complimentary. He IS safe this week, though, thanks to his great routine last week.

Ricky - Solo. I mean, this is why he is the frontrunner. There's just so much emotion in his movement, I don't even know how to explain it.

Jacque and all-star tWitch - Dave Scott hip hop. I mean, again tWitch is just so great that I just want to watch him the whole time. She did okay, but she could've hit harder and gotten down more as well. I'm not sure the judges are going to necessarily agree with me this time around, but eh. The judges have hardly any criticism lately, it seems. Is she in the bottom? She is, even though her routine last week was so good.

Jessica and all-star Will - Mandy Moore contemporary. Definitely a strong routine. I kind of forgot about Will, but he definitely brings a manly strength to the stage. We do already know that Jessica is safe this week, which I suppose is not a surprise considering she seems to have a lot of votes. She is apparently super popular, though I've never been the biggest fan personally, though I'm not sure I can say why exactly. The judges all love it, though.

Okay, now we get down the brass tacks. Who is going home this week?

Tanisha and Rudy

I mean... I guess Jacque had a better routine than Tanisha last week, but Tanisha is a better dancer than her in my opinion. Sigh. I do agree with the Rudy versus Casey showdown though. I feel like it's definitely going to be Jessica and Valerie as the top two girls, with Ricky and either Casey or Zack in the top two, it could go either way on those two. What do you think?

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Supernatural: Top 5 Season Nine Episodes

We're about two months away from the season 10 premiere of Supernatural on The CW (that's Tuesday October 10th at 9pm for those not sure). As I do every summer, today I am taking a look back at the best episodes of the past season. You know, to pass the summer doldrums of no new episodes. Now that the excitement of  Comic Con is over, obviously you need something else to tide you over until the show returns, right?

I've discussed in the past how I personally think the show probably should've just ended back at season five. That's not to say that there haven't been some good episodes since then, but I think even the die-hardiest fans would have to admit that some of these last few seasons haven't been quite as good. However, this season introduced a new arc for Dean that they've never really explored before, and that will continue on into season 10, so I have to give them some props for that. We'll see where it goes, because it could go well or terribly from a fan's perspective! Until then, let's take a look back at this past season with the top five episodes...

As usual, the title next to the number is a link to a favorite scene from each episode.

5. I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here (9x01)

The premiere episode of the season had to set up quite a few things - just what was going to happen to Sam since he started the trials? Well, he was going to die, that is until Dean calls up some help from Ezeki...wait. We all know where that ended up going. Plus Castiel is on Earth as a human without powers, along with a bunch of other angels who still do have powers and are gunning for him since he "helped" Metatron close Heaven. Plus we got to see both Bobby and Death briefly, so I'm sure that pleased some people.

4. Meta Fiction (9x18)

There was Dean in the shower, there was Gabriel with a surprise cameo, and just a lot of references to past episodes in general that made this episode fun for longtime fans. This episode was a lot to do with what Metatron wanted Castiel to do, and although I was getting sick of the angel mumbo jumbo by this point, I didn't mind it quite so much in this episode.

3. First Born (9x11)

Halfway through season nine came this episode that set up the rest of the season and even a good deal of season ten. Crowley seems like he is on the Winchesters' side, but as we learn, his introduction of Dean to Cain was all a big set up to try to get Dean to turn into a demon. What does he hope will happen once Dean is a demon? Guess we'll have to wait and see, but we will definitely be seeing a lot more of Crowley as he is a series regular next season too.

2. #thinman (9x15)

I'm sure a lot of you disagree about my order in this case, but what can I say, I love the Ghostfacers. Their first episode is one of my favorites of all time, and #thinman here was a nice departure from the rather bleak nature of season nine as a whole, giving us some much needed comic relief, if only briefly. After all, the Ghostfacers parted ways at the end of the episode as well. Hopefully not forever. 

1. Do You Believe in Miracles (9x23)

This season finale paid off a lot of plots set up throughout the season. Metatron finally gets his due, although the fact that he is just in angel jail and not actually dead does not portend well for the future necessarily. Dean's dealings with the first blade and the Mark of Cain finally come to a head when he, you know, dies. Then comes back to life... as a demon! I think some of us saw this coming, but that doesn't make it any less surprising considering they have refused to go there for so long. What does that mean for next season? We'll find out in October.

There you have it! Of course, this list is only my personal opinion, so please let me know your favorites in the comments and on this here poll!

What is your favorite season 9 episode of Supernatural? free polls 

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 10 Perform, 2 Eliminated

We're already to the top ten? That's how I'm feeling right now, I kind of can't believe it's already time for that. As in the past few seasons, this episode features the introduction of the all-stars. Joining Nigel and Mary on the judging panel this week is Tara Lipinski, even though they no longer decide who goes home at this point, instead relying on the votes. And tonight the votes are revealed individually rather than all at once. Sheesh.

And on to it then...

Bridget and all-star Brandon - Bollywood disco from Nakul Dev Mahajan - Brandon always gets the disco numbers, doesn't he? They seemed a bit off sync-wise there at the beginning. She did seem a bit behind Brandon, but was good overall, it was a super fast routine after all. The judges are pretty effusive, but is she in the bottom two girls? In fact, she is. Not that surprised.

Tanisha and all-star Ryan - Argentine tango from Miriam and Leonardo - Wow, this is a hot routine. And they are pretty much killing it. So many lift kicky things that just look really cool. Tanisha is turning out to be pretty dang amazing. Mary practically hyperventilates after the routine ends, but I kind of agree with her. And of course she is safe, duh.

Emilio and all-star Jasmine - Hip hop from NapTab - Is this the first NapTab routine of the season? I think it is. And... hmm. I wasn't the biggest fan of this one. I thought it was only okay. Perhaps because it was distracting because she's so much taller than him? Hmm. The judges are all effusive so maybe I'm just crazy? Now the question - is he in the bottom? Yes he is.

Valerie and all-star Ade - Jazz from Tyce Diorio - You know, I haven't been the highest on Valerie throughout the season, but I thought she was pretty great in that one. I also loved the music. Tara says she isn't as emotionally connected, and Mary agrees. Funny, usually I agree with the judges but I'm disagreeing with them a lot tonight! She is still safe, though.

Rudy and all-star Jenna - Cha cha from Louis Van Amstel - I'm not 100% feeling this one. I think it's something to do with their connection. He seems to be playing more to audience than connecting with her and it's supposed to be about their hotness connection. I mean, am I crazy? Because Mary loves it too, even going full on hot tamale train. At least Nigel comments on his hamming for the camera too much. And yes he is safe too, duh.

Jacque and all-star Chehon - Contemporary ballet from Travis Wall - Well, is there anything Travis can't choreograph? That was really quite beautiful, especially with how the lighting cast their shadows on the background as well. This is the first time I've really cared much about her, which makes me pretty sure she is going to be in the bottom now. And.... she is.

Ricky and all-star Lauren - Jazz from Mandy Moore - I mean, it was a good routine and they danced it well, but I just wasn't that into it. I did like the ending leg roll thingy. I'm just not sure I really cared about the routine or how memorable it is for me in the end. And der her der Ricky is obviously safe.

Casey and all-star Kathryn - Broadway from Spencer Liff - That was quite a fun routine. I'm not always a huge Broadway fan, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It was much hotter and not quite so over the top as some others we've seen on this show. He's had an upward trajectory on the show and is really quite likeable. But is he in the bottom? No.... which only leaves one. Poor Zack.

Jessica and all-star tWitch - Hip hop from NapTab - That was a cute little routine. tWitch is awesome, of course. Jessica holds her own with him too. I think that one was a lot more fun than the other NapTab dance tonight. Jessica finally seems to be coming back into her own now as compared to a few down weeks. And if you've been paying attention, we know she is safe.

Zack and all-star Amy - Contemporary from Sonya Tayeh - Well, that was a pretty powerful one. I had some chills there at the end. I loved the choice of quiet music with the rain in the background. Amy of course was awesome as well. And poor Zack is in the bottom, I just hope he isn't the one to go home.

And now it's time for the dreaded results. But at least America gets it right. The two going home tonight are:

Bridget and Emilio

It's going to be quite tough after these two now, because it's getting harder and harder to say who will be in the bottom. Is this the first time we've had a goodbye package this season as well? I could be wrong but I think it is. I'm honestly not sure who will be in the bottom next week. If I had my druthers it would probably include Rudy, though I'm not sure who besides him. I suppose if I had to pick a girl it would be Valerie? Argh.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

You know sometimes all you really want is to make something that will not dirty up a bunch of pots, pans, bowls, etc. And sometimes that desire can combine with something that is an entirely awesome idea. You know how you can get a pizookie type thing at some restaurants? Basically it's just a giant cookie baked in a mini skillet. Now, sure, you can buy some mini skillets if you want and go that route, but why not just go full speed and make it in your full size cast iron skillet? I mean, come on.

I don't know many people who would deny eating some warm chocolate chip cookie goodness with some nice melting ice cream on top. If you are one such person, I really question why you're here reading this blog post in the first place. Perhaps you are lying to yourself that you don't like ooey gooey goodness. Is that some drool hanging off your lip? Yeah, I thought so.

This is so easy to make, you guys, and an instant gratification deal. It comes out of the oven, and you really only have to wait a few minutes for it to cool down just a bit so it won't burn the roof of your mouth. So if you are just dying for some chocolate chip cookie goodness, but want it nice and warm and with some ice cream on top and none of that scooping out onto a cookie sheet stuff, try this! I don't think you will regret it one bit.

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
(Recipe via Sophistimom)

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2-1 cup chocolate chips or chunks (depending on how chocolatey you like it)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt butter over medium-low heat in your 8 inch cast iron skillet. Stir in the sugars and vanilla and remove from heat. Let it cool for about 5 minutes until the pan is warm but not hot.

Add in your egg and mix with a fork until well mixed. Dump your flour, salt and baking soda in and mix that in carefully with a wooden spoon until it is just incorporated. Then, stir in your chocolate chips or chunks. Stick that in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or perhaps longer depending on the consistency you like. This is more about personal preference here as some like it a bit more underdone. In any case, the edges should be a bit golden brown with the center still soft. Serve it on up with some vanilla ice cream (because why not?).

In Photos:

Melt your stick of butter in your skillet on medium-low.

Once melted, stir in your vanilla and sugars.

Take it off the heat and let it cool down for five minutes, then mix in your egg thoroughly.

Then dump in your dry ingredients - flour, salt and baking soda - and mix carefully until just combined.

It will turn into that!

Then add in your chocolate chips and make sure it is fairly evenly distributed in the skillet.

Bake at 350F for 15-20ish minutes until the edges are golden, but the middle still a bit undercooked. This is all a personal preference area at this point, whether you like it undercooked or you want the edges a bit harder.

Scoop some ice cream on there and dig on in while it's still warm!

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SYTYCD S11 - Top 14 Perform, 4 Eliminated

I don't often comment on the opening routines for some reason, but I really liked the one from tonight, by choreographer Stacey Tookey. Tonight is a tough night, though, as not two but four of these kids are going to be sent packing until we get our top ten. Helping Nigel and Mary with the decisions tonight is Christina Applegate. And they are letting them do solos tonight as well.

But before they make their decisions, we need to know just who is in danger, and they are....

And now on to the dances...

Bridget and Emilio - Ray Leeper jazz. I'm not sure I'm really getting creepy demon from this dance, but I am noticing that Bridget is super sharp with her moves. She may be emerging as my favorite girl this season, which I never would've thought from the beginning. The judges are pretty complimentary of Emilio.

Tanisha and Rudy - Mandy Moore contemporary. Tanisha is another one I wasn't sure I was going to be a big fan of, since she is a ballroom dancer. But she is extremely versatile and great again in this contemporary. That one-handed lift thing was pretty crazy too. Definitely fits the seduction theme. The judges all love it.

Serge - Solo time. Always weird to see the ballroom solos. Sad to say I am pretty sure he's going home tonight. While he certainly has some crazy fancy footwork, I don't think they will keep him over Teddy or Casey.

Jacque and Zack - Jean-Marc Genereux paso doble. The music and lighting are super distracting in this one. I'm not sure I would have any idea that was a paso doble if I hadn't been told it beforehand. They danced it well enough, but I'm not sure it was my favorite.

Carly - Solo time. She's doing a lot of strutting, not sure she's doing a lot of dancing other than the long spin move.

Emily and Teddy - Warren Carlyle Broadway. This is a very classic style Broadway routine without the super cheesy factor. Dare I say that maybe it's a little bit boring, though? They don't look quite as light on their feet as I would expect. Nigel comments that they were a bit all over the place near the end, and the others agree as well. Things do not look good for their top ten chances.

Casey - Solo time. Can someone tell these kids that just doing a long spin thing isn't quite enough? I do think he's doing more than Carly did, though.

Emily - Solo time. Now this is a solo. She actually planned it out and didn't just dance around aimlessly.

Jessica and Casey - Travis Wall contemporary. Well, that seems to be made for them make it through the bottom, doesn't it? These two would've been much better together from the beginning, they have much more chemistry than they had with their other partners. And the judges are on their feet, pretty much securing their spots I think.

Teddy - Solo time. it's nice to actually see Teddy do something in his own style, because honestly I didn't really know he was a hip hop style guy. A fun little routine.

Carly and Serge - Jean-Marc Genereux quickstep. Oh gosh, the kiss of death. Do you need any more evidence of who will be staying? Sheesh. Carly's arms seem a little flaily. Serge is actually kind of killing it in this, but I don't think it's enough. The judges are pretty complimentary, but the praise is a bit quiet if that makes sense.

Jessica - Solo time. She's going full force seductive. I think I liked Emily's solo more, but this was a bit better than Carly.

Valerie and Ricky - Pharside and Phoenix hip hop. Um, I looooved that! You know, I always enjoy hip hop when it's done well. That leg wave thing was pretty amazing, and I was really impressed with both of them in this. They were both getting down and in character pretty completely. Great. The judges all loved it as well; Mary even called it her favorite number of the night.

Top 7 Girls - Mandy Moore routine. If Mandy didn't want it to seem super pretty, perhaps they shouldn't have worn such flowy dresses? They did have the power too as she was talking about. Enjoyable routine to watch. The girls are all very emotional after.

Top 7 Guys - Travis Wall routine. I wasn't sure about the dress pant combo thing at first, but it helps to make it look more like they're in water. Very ethereal routine for a group of guys, which isn't often something you see for a group of guys.

But now it's time to find out who made it through to the top ten from the bottom dancers... And the two they are saving are, to no one's surprise...

Jessica and Casey.

Which means farewell to Carly, Serge, Emily and Teddy.

And one more thing! The all-stars are coming next week. And the first ones to feature are, with their partners...

Rudy and Jenna
Jacque and Chehon
Zack and Amy
Bridget and Brandon
Ricky and Lauren
Tanisha and Ryan
Emilio and Jasmine
Valerie and Ade
Casey and Kathryn
Jessica and tWitch

And... phew! That's it for this week. Are you happy with the top ten? Anyone you wish had made it instead? I feel like so far the eliminations haven't been that surprising. Now is when it will start to get a bit tougher. None of the routines tonight were outright bad, so I'm not sure who may be in danger next week. Are they also going to go down to just two each in the bottom instead of three at this point too? I can't really remember what has happened in the past (am just too gosh darn lazy to go look it up). I don't think I can make predictions this time! Ack!

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