Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'm Sorry, Have You Never Seen This Show Before?

I watch reality t.v.  Not as much as I used to, and I never got into the whole "Survivor" thing and I'm not a fan of "American Idol", but I watch some "reality" t.v. from time to time.  The Amazing Race, Bachelor and Bachelorette, Fear Factor, the Voice, Extreme Home Makeover and Biggest Loser have all sucked me in from time to time.  I used to watch some of them every time they were on, and some, just once in awhile.  In watching all of these shows over the past few years, something always amazes me - the surprise on the contestants/participants faces when they are told to do something or a "surprise" twist is revealed.  Can you picture me, yelling at the television: "Are you kidding me?!?!"  No, I'm not yelling about the "twist," I'm yelling at the contestants.

How can anyone with even a remote touch on reality these days not know how these shows work?  Even the news covers these shows, right there along with the Internet and Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and TMZ.  Newspapers and magazines cover these shows and the contestants.  So you can imagine why it is so hard for me to understand how someone can claim to not know what is coming.  Fear Factor always had bugs or something slimy to lay in and Amazing Race always has something strange to eat.  It is just how these shows work.

The reason for my latest bout of incredulity comes from Tuesday's offering of The Biggest Loser.  Apparently the remaining 5 contestants got wind of the upcoming "surprise twist," that the 14 eliminated contestants would be given the opportunity to earn a spot in the final, with just a few weeks left in the show.  For the first 10 minutes of the episode, we were treated to a show about the remaining players' internal struggle with "what they believe is right" and their "principles" and got to watch the camera crews and producers scramble because they did not have anyone working out in the gym to film.  Bob, one of the trainers, said it best when he was told what was going on.  He said,  "Have they never watched this show?  This happens every year!"  He's right!  Just last season (or was it the season before?) the eliminated contestants were given the chance to earn a spot in the finals - all they had to do was run, and win, a marathon (26.2 miles.)  None of the remaining players complained.  No one staged a coup or threatened to leave.  They ran the marathon.  In Tuesday nights episode, Alison didn't even have the chance to reveal the twist - the contestants got wind of it early and staged a coup.  Really?

2 of the contestants ended up going home.  Maybe they were just done.  Maybe they thought that they had achieved all that they could at the Ranch.  But if they truly admitted their reasons for leaving, my guess is that it would be all about the money.  They weren't upset about the twist of bringing back eliminated players.  They were upset that there was possibly another challenge to their quest for the "dough," an unknown element, something they had not counted on.  If they were there to lose weight, if they were truly concerned about their health and livelihood and showing their children how to live healthy (like they all claim,) then they would have stayed.  To leave, especially so close to reaching their weight loss and other health goals, is to admit that they were only in it for the money, and when their access to that money was threatened, they ran. 

It will be interesting to see if they are invited to the final, or if they are eligible to compete for the "at home" prize.  We will have to wait a few more weeks to see how that unfolds.  But the attorney in me cannot help but wonder whether or not they will have to face any repercussions from their choice to leave.  My guess is that they signed some kind of "iron clad" contract when they signed on, that they would subject themselves to whatever the producers threw at them.  In fact, Tuesdays' episode showed them meeting with the show's attorney and the attorney pointed out the part in the contract where it says that eliminated players would be brought back at some point.  Those choosing to leave said that while they acknowledge signing the contract, they did not feel that it was "fair" to spring the twist on them this late in the game.  Um... o.k.  Like I said (and Bob said,) all they had to do was watch the last few seasons to see how that played out.  But back to the attorney in me.  Do you think that they will now have to pay for the fair market value of Bob's time in training them?  Do you think that they will have to forfeit any of the little prizes that they might have won over the course of the show?  Do you think that they are going to get hit with a whopper of a 1099 at the end of the season?  I do.

One thing is certain - at least from my perspective.  The actions of those 2 contestants on this season are likely already having an affect - you can bet that the attorneys for the show are currently rewriting the contract before signing up the contestants for next season - and you can bet that it is going to specifically address what will happen when or if a contestant decides to walk out.  Oh to be a fly on that wall.

I have to wonder what people who sign up for these reality shows are thinking when they start.  Do they think that it will be different for them?  Do they think that the things producers did in the past will just be set aside for them?  Or do they think they can handle it, and when looking into the belly of the beast they realize that they can't, and that is when they bolt. 

The Bachelor and Bachelorette are fun samplings of this same behavior.  The boys and girls happily tramp off to the "mansion" in hopes of finding Mr. or Mrs. Right and getting their "happily ever after."  Then they act surprised or upset when the door opens and reveals 20 other guys or girls looking for the same dream.   So many tears when they should know better.  Then again, I guess the tears is what makes it "good" television, right?  People are still tuning in, so I guess something is going right.

Perhaps it is time to go back to scripted television.  After all, the drama that these 'reality' shows are producing has to be scripted in some way, right?  Or are we really supposed to believe that these people really have no clue what they signed up for when they showed up on day one?  Perhaps we should be asking ourselves the same question - have we never seen the show?  Should we not expect these little things to up the ante and increase the drama?  Maybe the producers of Biggest Loser leaked the "twist" information on purpose, to then create the drama of contestants leaving, and maybe the joke is on us, the viewer?

Until next week's episode, I guess we will just have to wait to see.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Those Who Forget Their History are Doomed to Repeat It

I find myself in a strange place, feeling like I've been here before and worried that history might repeat itself.  Five years ago, I had a little girl who was about 18 months old.  I was going to the office 2 days a week and the other 3 days I was home with her, going through the motions, watching with wonder and she grew and experienced new things.  I struggled to find my place in her world and struggled with my own redefined world - not just "me and him" as a couple, but now "me, her and him" as a family. 

Passover that year came early and our annual Family Seder fell on Saturday, April 7 (which also happens to be my sister's birthday.)  We had a strange discussion that day about happiness and how things were going between us, a discussion that would branch out over the next few days and weeks, expand and then explode, disappear and come back to haunt us.  As I recall that day, it launched a summer that I would rather forget, but in many ways, feel that I can't lest I be doomed to relive another summer like it somewhere in the future.

But why, you may ask, is the timing so "strange" again?  Because once again, Passover comes early.  Once again, our annual family Seder falls on Saturday, April 7.  Once again, I have a little girl at home, who is just about 18 months, growing and experiencing with excitement and wonder.  Once again, I am working 2 days a week and staying home with her the other 3.  Through it all, I can't help but wonder if I should be worried that history will repeat itself, even if I haven't forgotten.

It is true that we are now five years older and hopefully, even if just a bit, wiser.  Everyone goes through tough times and those who come through on the other side are usually stronger.  I can only hope for that luxury.  I know that I haven't forgotten that crazy summer, 5 years ago.  Feeling that history has spun back around to line itself up for another shot has me worried - not necessarily because I think he has forgotten that summer of the past, but because he wants to forget it - pretend it never happened. 

I suppose that is the way of things.  Women tend to hang on to things.  We rehash and review, we discuss, we find it difficult to let go. (Just ask any woman who her first crush was - I'd bet you $5 that she remembers ALL of the details and another $5 that if you asked the guy, he would probably not even remember her name.)  That is our lot in life, to carry the history, to remember the "good old days" (and the days that weren't so good.)  Most of the time, the men get the luxury of forgetting and moving on, leaving us to dwell.  Wasn't that an episode of Friends, or another sitcom?  The guy forgets something and the woman remembers and stays angry and then brings it up at a later time. 

In any event, I find myself on alert, more diligent and paying attention to things, careful not to let life get away from me again, careful not to lose sight of things at home, or get too lost in watching the girls grow.  Like I said, we are older and wiser and in different places in our lives.  Things that may have seemed trivial just a few short years ago are now much more important.  Things that seemed more important then now have taken a back seat, replaced now that we are refocused.

We are moving on, growing older, growing up.  We can move past our history in some ways, but although some things move to the back of our memories, they are never fully gone, nor do I think they should be.  Because the minute we forget how those stories came to pass, as soon as we lose the details of what was, we fall prey to the danger of repeating it. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

50 Shades of Monotony

I just finished the book "Fifty Shades of Grey."  Honestly, I cannot see what the fuss is all about.  I first heard stirrings of it amongst the PTA set, but nothing in great enough detail to make me run right out and buy the book, only that it was supposed to be causing a "stir."  It wasn't until it graced the cover of the most recent Entertainment Weekly, that I took another look.  According to the article, the book is supposed to be the "every woman's" erotica of the day, bringing the steamy side of life to the forefront.  One of the main characters (the male) participates in a BDSM lifestyle and hopes to bring the other main character (the female) over to his "dark side."  She yearns for love and they struggle to find the medium ground.  Their ideologies clash when she realizes that he cannot love her the way that she loves him, and also realizes that she cannot submit herself completely to the type of dominance he requires to feel anything.

After reading the EW article, I was ready to read.  Sign me up, let's get it started!  The article promised titillation and steamy scenes, erotic prose and heart-thumping heat, and told of controversy over content and even compared it to other books of days gone by, banned by governments and deemed "obscene." 

I bought the e-book and dove right in.  After about 20% of the book, I found myself wondering when the real "action" would begin.  By 50%, I was wondering if I had bought the right book.  The writing is pedestrian and rivals that of a school girl secretly scribbling her heart's desires in her diary, under the cover of darkness.  I've read cheesy romance novels with more steam than this piece of fiction, and the underlying sexual tension between Ranger and Stephanie Plum that is left to your imagination in the Janet Evanovich books does more for the female libido than the scenes played out between James' characters directly on the pages.

Yes, they say "fuck" a lot in this book.  Yes, there are sex scenes in which the characters engage in some bondage and/or dominance role play.  But have we devolved so much to our puritanical beginnings that many are labeling this book "trash" or "smut" or obscene?  I really do think that I read the wrong novel, if that is the case.  And no, I did not see many redeeming qualities to this book, nothing that might save it from the harsh criticism that it may well deserve. 

A self-proclaimed "Twihard" (uber-fans of the Twilight books and movies) Ms. James began her tale on a fan site, posting chapters for free that other fans would read.  Given that humble beginning, it is easy to see why the writing seems so juvenile.  The Twilight series was written for a young adult audience, and although many adults have clamored to read the tales as well, the writing remains geared to young adults.  There is nothing deeply earth shattering in James' writings either, no challenges on a grand scale that her characters must experience, it is more simply a tale of two people finding their way in a relationship and not even a truly steamy one at that.

The EW article also mentioned that some of the BDSM movement were upset over the book, claiming that it painted the lifestyle in the wrong light and that the male character's actions went beyond the acceptable "norm" of BDSM and more towards destructive and dangerous behavior.  To them, I say not to even waste their time.  While I do not profess to know alot about the BDSM lifestyle, I have read enough other novels and literature to know that this book doesn't do the lifestyle any harm.  While I haven't read the second and third books in the trilogy (and probably won't,) I don't believe that the male character's issues are related to the lifestyle, but rather seem to be based on his struggle with finding a woman that he truly likes and wants to be with, and having to reconcile his own desires with the fact that she has a life of her own.  I didn't see him as overly controlling, and the times it did come across, I didn't read it thinking that it related to his proclivities.

In any event, I would have to chalk this novel up to a wasted effort on my part.  I went in expecting some exciting reading, some hot and steamy scenes and walked away feeling let down.  Ladies, if you want hot and steamy reading, there are a few romance novelists that I can point you too.  They may not use the "f" word nearly as much as James did, but they can certainly weave a tale with much more finesse, and what is left unsaid in the novels is brought to life in your imagination and you aren't left disappointed.

To those out there in my circle who have not read this but were curious, I'd say not to worry about it.  But, if you must find out for yourselves, find a way to borrow it from someone, rather than spending your money.  This book is $10 down the drain for me.