Monday, December 12, 2011

Strictly 11: Poppin' dem 40s

Harry displays one of he new-found facial expressions.
Craig Revel Horwood finally dusted off the 10 paddle this week, which means it must be time for the final. I suspect the CRH may have a personal rule that he will not even consider throwing a 10 until at least eight weeks into the Strictly trek. As such, he always gets a good pop when that moment finally comes. Especially because it almost always means a perfect score is to follow.

I personally feel that flashing the 10 at J-Train was unwarranted, but I always feel that. Way back on the very first week I cottoned to the judges' fondness toward the J-Train and predicted he was on a fast-track to the final. The fact he will be there in Blackpool feels inevitable and exhausting. It's like spending a long time driving to a family Christmas dinner, begrudgingly knowing the whole way that Uncle Kyle will be there and he will shove his damned iPad in your face and insist on showing you pictures of his recent trip to Bangkok. Endless badly framed shots of flowers that some part of you knows were decorating a whorehouse. Uncle Kyle may spend the whole of the Christmas dinner espousing whatever batshit-crazy right-wing views he heard on the radio whilst driving there but in your heart you know those pictures comprise a photo essay that could be titled: "Bangkok, as viewed from the doorways of its brothels."

Still a few hours away from arriving at your sister's house, drinking Starbucks coffee in one of those mega-stops that also feature a Wendy's, a Dairy Queen, an arcade, showers and a convenience store that stocks cowboy hats, all under the same roof, you start to tell yourself that maybe Uncle Kyle won't be there.

"What's my basis for thinking that?" you quietly ask yourself. "Why wouldn't Uncle Kyle be there?"

In truth, the only answer is that you simply wish for him to not be there. So strong is your wish that as you near the state line, you have partially convinced yourself this will be a family get-together that is blissfully sans Uncle Kyle. That will be nice, won't it? You can just position yourself next to Grampa, get him started talking about Korea again, and zone out until it's reasonably acceptable for you to retreat to your room back at the La Quinta.

But then, suddenly, a car comes screaming up close behind you and flashes its obnoxious xenon headlights that are blinding even in daytime. It's fucking Uncle Kyle. Driving that fucking BMW, the car that says: "I"m a douche but can't yet afford a Porsche."

He pulls alongside you, waves frantically, needing to make sure you know it's him, your Uncle Kyle, in his BMW. Ha, ha. Wasn't that a funny joke, coming up on you at an unsafe speed and driving erratically. Ha, ha. Good times. Uncle Kyle always brings the party.

For a moment you don't look over at him. Despite the fact your window is up and your stereo blaring Antje Duvekot (definitely never mention that to Uncle Kyle) and the both of you travelling at 75 mph, you can somehow hear him shouting: "Hey, big dog. Got some amazing Scotch I want ya to try with me. Cost me $250 a bottle."

Who the fuck goes to Bangkok and comes back with expensive Scotch? Uncle Kyle, that's who. Eventually you give in and look over at him, give him a goofy "Oh, hey, didn't see you there," face and smile. He makes a gun out of his forefinger and thumb, shoots you twice and then roars off ahead of you, compensating for whatever inadequacies were discovered in Bangkok with the power of German engineering, and leaving you with only 45 minutes to decide whether you want to steer your car into a ditch or suffer five hours of Uncle Kyle.

So, the J-Train will be there at Saturday's final, flashing his creepy grin and saying lots of ridiculous things that he hopes will make him appear humble. And with him will be Harry Judd (as I also predicted in week 1) and the unintelligible Hamburglar lovechild, Chelsee Healey. But first, here's a look at how the semi-final went, starting with the two existing couples:

Alex Jones and James Jordan ~ Waltz / Salsa ~ 65:
There is something about Welsh people and Latin rhythm: the two are woefully incompatible. It's like when you were a kid, holding opposite ends of a magnet up against each other. Some invisible, seemingly magical, force ensures the two shall never fit together. They can be forced into proximity but as soon as there is opportunity they will repel from each other.
My point is this: it would have required the Lord God Almighty to alter the very rules which govern our universe for Alex to perform well in that dance. He didn't, and the whole thing looked awkward. There is a reason the Welsh language has no word for "sexy" (a).
Not that James was helping much. According to the great holder of truth that is Wikipedia, James used to teach Latin dance. But this routine was thoroughly uninteresting. The whole thing felt like a comedy routine performed for Ruth Jones' Christmas Cracker.
Their waltz I don't really remember.

Holly Valance and Artem Chigvinstev ~ Argentine Tango / Charleston ~ 70:
That Charleston should have been good. It wasn't, but you could totally tell it should have been. If, say, Kara Tointon had been dancing with Artem it would have been ass-kickery. But she wasn't. Holly was. And Holly looked sleepy. Whatever gains she had made the week previous were lost in that minute and a half. Last week, I envisioned Holly as the cool older sister of a friend. Holding to that idea, I suppose this week was one in which the coolest kid in Burnsville, MN, pairs up with the coolest kid from Brooklyn and finds herself totally outmatched. Artem had come up with a brilliant routine that Holly simply wasn't brilliant enough to perform.

Jason Donovan and Kristina Rihanoff ~ Samba / Argentine Tango ~ 74:
That Argentine tango was all Kristina. Watching it, I was reminded of the Kirby Puckett "climb on my back" speech, when he effectively won game 6 of the World Series singlehandedly. Kristina stormed through that routine, had naughty-glorious sex with every single one of us watching, and Jason was just sort of there. With her legs that could initiate, fight and win wars, she launched herself around the dance floor, occasionally capturing Jason and dragging him along to a perfect score.
Had it not been for that dance, I'm pretty sure J-Train would have switched places with Holly because their samba -- despite Kristina's decision to wear only a child's bathing suit and a bit of chiffon -- was about as exciting as marzipan.

Chelsee Healey and Pasha Kovalev ~ American Smooth / Paso Doble ~ 76:
Chelsee has the ability to dance effortlessly, like she's not even thinking about it. Actually, she probably isn't thinking about it. Her vacuousness remains my greatest complaint about her. I enjoy the way she dances and think perhaps I cheer for her because Pasha seems a nice enough chap. He seems to be generally enjoying the experience and always has a grin of the like I might have if medical science were to discover that, due to a unique quirk in my physiology, it would be extremely nutritious and physically beneficial for me to eat a lot of fudge.
The paso scored highest amongst their two dances but I actually think the American smooth was the stronger dance. Both were good, however, which bodes well for the show dance next week. I'm always hoping for some Derek Hough-style madness but perhaps that's wanting too much. Still, I think Chelsee and Pasha will manage something pretty good.

Harry Judd and Aliona Vilani ~ Charleston / Viennese Waltz ~ 78:
I am additionally looking forward to Harry's show dance. Aliona has a fondness for working wrestling-style spots into her routines, so expect her to perform at least one trick that would kill a person if done wrong. That's what it's all about, bitches. You want the glitter-ball trophy, you gotta be willing to die for it.
Harry and Aliona's (under-marked) Charleston was their best dance of the night, if not the best of all that evening's dances. Aliona's outfit, consisting of just enough fabric to make a sock, was also a highlight. I'm reminded of the Zac Brown line: "She'll make a train take a dirt road." Jenn was even perving on her. I'm pretty sure the only reason the Charleston wasn't given a perfect score is that it had the misfortune of being the first dance of the evening.
Boding well for Harry's chances in the final is the fact this week he seemed to discover two more facial expressions. He has spent the whole season generally looking stern but this week managed to gives us "zany" and "cheerful." He's got to win it now!

Elsewhere:
  • I find it interesting that all three professional dancers in the final are Russian. Indeed, when the final is broadcast next week from Blackpool, the self-proclaimed home of ballroom dancing, it might be interesting to reflect on how few Britain-born dancers are in the show: Anton Du Beke (Kent), James Jordan (Kent) and Robin Windsor (Suffolk).
  • This really should be Brendan's final year on Strictly, methinks. Dancing with Natalie on the results show he just looked sort of sad. I would have far preferred to see Natalie just twirling around Aloe Blacc rather than watch Brendan try and fail to look cool in an ill-fitting shirt and hat at a jaunty angle.


Predictions:
Harry will win. He has both the actual ability and the ridiculously faithful fan base to do so. I suspect Chelsee will be runner-up.


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(a) Using "rhywiol" does not count; there is a difference between sexy and sexual. Also, use of "secsi" is just embarrassing for the person using it.

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