Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 2011

Totally Unnecessary: House Will Vote on “In God We Trust” as Official US Motto

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I’m sorry; I thought I’d seen it all from this bunch of do-nothings we currently have in the United States Congress, but now they’ve topped themselves.

Tomorrow, they will be voting to “re-affirm” the “In God We Trust” motto in the United States House of Representatives.  Really.

Which begs the following question: do we really need to have this vote, considering all the real problems that this Congress isn’t facing?

See this article from Raw Story, if you don’t believe me . . . this is just absolutely, totally nonsensical, and probably the worst action I’ve yet seen out of this bunch of yahoos that are currently wasting our money and time in the House of Reps.

How can Speaker of the House John Boehner have the nerve to schedule a vote on “In God We Trust,” of all things?  “In God We Trust” has been our official motto since 1956, so this vote isn’t even original legislation — so what on Earth is the justification for it, except for the Republicans to point out to voters the many Democrats out there who will vote “no” on it (as they should as it’s an unnecessary time-waster).  Then these self-same Rs will tell voters, “Oh, no!  Those Dems don’t believe in God!  See?  They voted against ‘In God We Trust’ — aren’t they bad, evil, and vicious people?  They must go!”

There are people who are genuinely hurting in this country — many, many people.  Yet this is the best the House can do for anyone?

I’d not care about this sort of petty-politicking so much except we have genuine anger out here, for good reason.  (See the “Occupy” movement for further details.)  We have a national unemployment figure standing firm at 9% or more, with some areas (including my own) way above that.   There are many real problems in the United States that this Congress won’t do anything about.  Instead, they’d rather waste our time with garbage like this.

No wonder so many of us are in a “throw the bums out” mood, considering our elected leaders (starting with Boehner and moving on down) would rather play stupid power-games than actually legislate and do their jobs.

My Take on Hallowe’en DWTS Episode

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Well, Chaz Bono is gone, but in my opinion, “Dancing with the Stars” could’ve used him and his partner, Lacey Schwimmer tonight during their Hallowe’en episode.  They would’ve been a great help, as they always brought the entertainment first, last, and always.

This was a Hallowe’en episode, so the hair and make-up and song choices all reflected that, with the song choices actually hindering several couples.  Still, it was a show that mostly entertained, with a few really low spots.

Here we go, first with the “solo” dances (as two group dances followed at the end of the show):

David Arquette and Kym Johnson:  He did OK.  Arquette is a bit manic for my tastes and he got ahead of his choreography; if he were a musician, I’d tell him he was rushing and to stay behind the beat rather than in front of it.  (Johnson, of course, was great, as she always is.)  ** Edited to add: Score was a 24.

Rob Kardashian and Cheryl Burke:  Surprisingly good tango, though they drew a fairly easy song for it, the theme song for “The Addams’ Family.”   Kardashian’s form was good and he stayed in character.  (Burke, of course, was wonderful, as she always is.)  They scored a 25.

Derek Hough and Ricki Lake:  They danced a paso doble to the song “Dream (or a Beautiful Nightmare),” and the choreography was excellent.  (Hough’s always is.)  Lake is hurt, and it showed; Hough did a lot of dancing around her.  They were given a 27, the best score of the night for the solo dances, which probably was deserved as no one really danced up to his or her potential.

Maksim Chmerikovskiy and Hope Solo: Danced a samba, of all things, to “Werewolves of London.”  Decent samba.  Solo looked more relaxed this week; she was helped in rehearsal by one of the “Troupe” dancers, Teddy (he often dances on Tuesday evenings with other pro dancers) because Chmerikovskiy has a broken toe.  (Note that I enjoyed Bono and Schwimmer’s samba much better than this, and yet this got a better score.)  They scored a 24.

Nancy Grace and Tristan MacManus:  They drew an impossible song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”  They had to try to do a jive.  Grace is OK with a slower tempo in most disciplines, but her jive was really awful.  It scored a 21, which was far too high; really, it deserved something like a 15.  (MacManus was cute, and competent, and I enjoyed watching him.  He does not out-dance his partner and tries hard to showcase her.  May he be back next season with someone who has more dancing talent than Grace.)

J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff:  They had the nearly impossible task of dancing a tango, of all things, to the “Ghostbusters” theme.  Smirnoff’s choreography was inventive, but Martinez didn’t look right as he danced — his back was out of position, I think, and his legs were too bent.  That said, he still danced better than any of the non-pros this evening and did more actual work than anyone else, too . . . they scored a 25, and were underscored.

Next, it was time for the team dances.  First, they had to pick teams; “Team Tango,” which featured Martinez and Smirnoff, picked Grace/Rogers and Arquette/Johnson.  The team choreography here was really good — better than I’ve seen in many a season for these team dances — but every solo was a bit off.  (Martinez, again, was the best of the three, by a lot.)  Arquette rushed, again, and was visibly ahead of Johnson most of the way.  Grace looked better at this than she did in the jive even though she’s not yet danced a tango, and may not if she goes home tomorrow as she should (being the weakest celebrity dancer left).  They scored a 23, which was added to the individual scores for all three couples.

Then, there was “Team Paso,” which was led by Lake and Hough.  Hough actually did the picking here, and chose Solo/Chmerikovskiy (to avoid Chmerikovskiy having to dance with Smirnoff, his ex-fiancée) and Kardashian/Burke.  Solo, predictably, had trouble learning the choreography, and Hough stepped in to help her learn it when Chmerikovskiy was too frustrated to teach it to her.  (This was one of the few times in quite a number of seasons that I’ve seen Hough do anything of the sort.  Solo learned it when Hough taught it to her; this makes me think at least some of why Hough has such a high opinion of himself is due to knowing he has great skill in teaching and choreographing — which indeed is the case, though I wish he could be a little humbler about it.)  The individual routines here were the highlight; all three couples did their best in those (Kardashian looked a bit lost, but up against two pros like Hough and Chmerikovkiy, that means Kardashian actually did very well and the judges knew it; they even said so), though to be fair, I don’t think these dances between the pairs were as difficult for both partners (in the tango, both partners must dance well or it looks awful; in the paso, only one partner — the male — must dance well or it looks awful).  This dance scored a 26, which was added to each individual dance team’s total.

My predictions for definitely safe:  Martinez and Lake

Probably safe:  Kardashian and Arquette

My predictions for bottom two: Grace and Solo, though Arquette, if he lands in the B2, probably goes home as it seems to me he has a lesser fanbase than either Grace or Solo.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm

The Writing Life — and a “Changing Faces” Update

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Folks, once again, I had a promising story bounce out of a market.  I have tried this particular story, “Sounds of Nightfall,” at every major market and most of the minor markets . . . sometimes it gets good comments, and other times, it has drawn a “huh?” reaction.

Anyway, I’d found a jazz magazine that does a short fiction contest, so I decided to try “Sounds” there, as it’s about a jazz musician who’s been helped by the spirits of two deceased saxophonists — Charlie Parker and Art Pepper — and I hoped for the best.

Unfortunately, it didn’t win a prize there — they have first, second, and third prizes available — and it bounced out after about a month and a half.

I write urban fantasy, mostly.  (Every once in a while, I surprise myself and write space opera.  Or even hard SF, when I can wrap my mind around the concepts.)  This was a story that was in the queue for the magazine Dreams of Decadence when it suddenly went under about a year ago; that’s probably as close as “Sounds” has been to actually getting published.

I’m starting to think that I should put together a bunch of my short stories that have drawn good comments, or, “I nearly bought this, but . . . ” types of things, and put them at SmashWords and at  I don’t know how well they’d sell, of course, but at least they’d be out there and off my computer.

See, this is how the economy affects writers.   Mainstream magazines, even in the SF/F genre, have to be cognizant of the “bottom line” — how much profit, or at least as little of a loss as possible, can they make during this economic downturn?  With the digital realm affecting print magazines in various ways, that means there are more markets available than before — but most do not pay very much.  And all of them want to find people who have sales, and a following, and/or have gifts of self-promotion if at all possible, all in order to drive sales and page-views.

Now, this is perfectly understandable from an economic perspective, but it hurts newer writers — or unknown ones, like me — because we don’t necessarily have names.  We don’t necessarily have enough of a Web presence to drive page-views.  All we have are good stories that we want people to read, and sometimes, that doesn’t seem to be enough.  (But I shall persevere.)

So that’s about it, as far as a short story update; a few stories and one poem are out at various markets — and I did get a story into the Writers of the Future contest last quarter, for whatever that’s worth — but my main strengths as a writer tend to come out when I’m writing novels, not short fiction.   That’s why I work on my novels more, even though they take more time and thought to write . . . but I also work on the shorter forms (short story, novelette, novella) because I want to master them, too.  (We’ll see how long that takes, or if I ever get there.)

My general advice for other writers is this: go out there and write whatever you can.  Then try to sell it — is one of the best places to go to find markets, while is another good one (both are free, but take donations if you’re able to help them out) — however you can.  Some of my fellow writers have discussed how they use spreadsheets; they mark off which magazines they’ve tried, and when, and where, so if you find this a useful tool, go for it.  And don’t let rejection get you down; just keep trying, because you never know when someone’s going to like your work.

As for the “Changing Faces” update, I’m happy to report I managed about 1800 words (the first words written on this project, at all, since last year sometime) and believe I have a good starting point for chapter 20.  We’ll see how it goes, but I’m cautiously optimistic at this time.

Figure it this way: if I get any words in during this time of great stress (with the bad economy, many personal issues including the ill health of my very good friend Jeff, and other things), I’m ahead of the game.  Which is why when I turn on my computer later tonight, and see what else I can get with regards to this MSS, I hope to be able to better develop the nascent “I think I know what’s next” feeling and get it actually down on the page.  (Here’s hoping.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Posted in The Economy, Writing

Who Cares About the Friends and Family?, or, How to Stay Strong during a Family Health Crisis

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Right off the bat, I want to say that I’m not a health care professional.   I’m just a person who’s observed many people in crises and believe that caregivers, or family members, or those who are trying hard to support someone who is in the hospital, or has a serious chronic illness that impacts every part of his or her life, need to be supported.

Note that this particular post has been prompted due to the health of my good friend Jeff, who remains ill in a Fort Collins hospital at this time.  Jeff’s been in the hospital now for approximately three weeks; two weeks ago, he had open-heart surgery, and there have been a number of people at his bedside ever since (along with the doctors and medical personnel that you’d expect).

I know that I’m far away from where “the action is” with regards to my friend; he is ill, and I am very concerned about him.  I have talked with his family members, I have talked with his good friend (and medical POA), and for the most part, my focus has been on how to get Jeff better rather than how all these people, who’ve been around Jeff and his illness now for three solid weeks, can hang in there and remember their own needs at such a difficult and distressing time.

But they, too, are suffering.  They see Jeff in that hospital bed, and he’s not well.  They’ve been there for weeks now, and that’s extremely distressing; further, there’s no timetable as to when he’ll get better and be able to go home or to a rehab facility — which is why I thought to post this at all, in the hopes that it might do some good, and that it probably won’t do any harm.  (“First, do no harm,” that’s the Hippocratic Oath.  And while I’m not a medical person by any stretch of the imagination, self-care is still a medical function, right?  So it seems like that Oath applies.)

What I’ve learned is this: if you take some time for yourself — providing you’re in a long-term situation, where someone is ill for a long period of time (either at home, or in the hospital, or in a hospice, or whatever), you are actually better able to deal with your ill family member or friend.

I know this sounds nonsensical; you want to be there every minute, to show that you care, and to do all you possibly can to aid the health care professionals to get your loved one well, or at least keep him or her as well as possible.

But we’re human beings, and we need to take at least some care of ourselves during a health crisis.  We have to remember that if we don’t take care of ourselves, we’re not going to be able to do all we can for our ill family member or friend.

Now, what I mean by “take care of yourself” is this: make sure you eat.  Make sure you get adequate rest.  Do something nice for yourself, even if it’s as simple as buying yourself a small piece of candy, or talking a walk outside in the sun.

Don’t neglect yourself, whatever you do.  Because focusing all your attention on your ill family member is actually counterproductive, unless it’s such an urgent crisis (life-or-death, with immediacy, something like I faced on my husband Michael’s final day of life) that you have no choice but to do so.  (Even then, the health care people told me I should make sure to eat something; I managed a banana, I think.  To go wash my face; to have water; to talk a walk inside the hospital to clear my head.  And they told me to take my regular medicines on schedule, too; I had to stay strong in case my husband was able to survive.)

For Jeff’s family and friends who are there in Colorado with him — and for those of us who care for Jeff very much, but do not live in Colorado and haven’t been able to get there — we have to remember to do what we can to take care of ourselves in addition to whatever we can do for Jeff.  (What I can do right now is pray.  That’s about it.  But I am assuredly doing that.)

Taking care of ourselves is not selfish; instead, it’s our way of staying ready to help.

So if taking in a movie helps to clear your head, you should go do it.

If going out to eat is what you need — go do it.  (If you can’t stand the hospital food, briefly leaving the hospital for an hour or whatever isn’t going to change things for your loved one — and it may really help you, which indirectly helps your loved one.)

In other words — self-sacrifice to excess is a vice.  So please, do something nice for yourself every day — even if it’s just to luxuriate in the shower an extra minute, or take a walk, or eat a candy bar, or read a few pages in a book that makes you laugh . . . these are good things to do, and you should make a point of doing them for your own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Taking care of yourself should help you be better able to deal with your extremely sick loved one.  So please, keep this in mind; I know it feels wrong to take care of yourself at such a stressful time, but if you won’t, who will?  (And if something happens to you, how will that help your sick friend or family member any?)


Note: I’ve walked this path, and I know how bad it feels to be there but not be able to affect the outcome at all.  I think being there at your loved one’s bedside is the right move — of course it’s the right move!  But you have to remember that in a long-term illness, you need to take care of you in addition to your loved one . . . also, if the person in question wasn’t so very ill, he or she would want you to take care of yourself.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 30, 2011 at 4:45 am

WI Legislature — Pass April’s Law, Now

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Hey, Wisconsin Legislature — it’s time to unite behind a piece of legislation everyone should get behind, “April’s Law,” which will increase the mandatory punishment of sexual offenders (i.e., predators) who commit offenses against children under age twelve.  Put your politics aside, and vote for this common-sense piece of legislation.  Now.

As to why I feel so strongly about this?  My friend, Lika Saliscente, has been working hard to get “April’s Law” passed in Wisconsin for several years now.  She runs a non-profit called the Youth Voice Initiative, and recently testified before a legislative subcommittee, the Assembly Subcommittee on Criminal Law and Corrections, in Madison, Wisconsin; “April’s Law” is called that because a little girl named April, who was only six, was raped over and over again, to the point of contracting an STD; the perpetrator only served one year in prison.  Ten years later, he was convicted of raping several other children; you can see why, if this violent, disgusting individual had been put in jail for a longer term, it may have done some good in this instance.

“April’s Law” would increase the mandatory minimum sentence from twenty-five years to life in prison to a very simple “life in prison” without any possibility for parole or “early release due to good behavior.”  There would also be stricter penalties for adults who are convicted due to possessing child pornography, which is also something I strongly support.

Lika’s story, and push to get “April’s Law” passed in Wisconsin, was recently discussed in the Racine Journal-Times (on the front page in its Monday, October 24, 2011 edition; the online version was published on Sunday, October 23).  I urge you to read this important article if you haven’t already, and if it doesn’t make your blood boil, I’ll be quite shocked.

Now, not everyone is behind this law.  State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), has said he does not support this law in the past, to Lika and others; his reasons for not supporting this bill are spurious to the point of ridiculousness.  (He was not quoted in the Journal-Times article, and I’ve been unable to gain a response from him regarding this, or any other, issue, which is yet another reason why Van Wanggaard should be recalled and replaced.  But I digress.)

Fortunately, Lika’s push to get “April’s Law” passed does have the support of at least two Racine Legislators, Assemblymen Cory Mason and Robert Turner.  Here’s what Cory Mason had to say in the recent Journal-Times article:

“She stayed with it,” said Mason, who gives Saliscente credit for the bill now known as “April’s law.” Her bill received a hearing last week before the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Corrections, thanks to the help of Turner, who sits on the committee. 

She even helped with multiple drafts of the bill, said Mason, who believes in the importance of the bill. 

“Those are horrific crimes and the victims of those crimes deal with the consequences of those crimes for the rest of their lives,” Mason said. 

Exactly.  Which is why it’s time for the state Legislature to put their politics aside, and pass this extremely important bill.  Now.

Because child rape — which is what we’re discussing — is neither a Democratic nor a Republican issue.  It’s a human issue.  Period.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

My Goal for NaNo — Finish “Changing Faces”

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Folks, I’m going to set this in stone right now: my goal for NaNo is to finish, for once and for all, my novel CHANGING FACES (a non-Elfyverse spiritual, transgender romantic urban fantasy).

NaNo, for those of you who are new to writing, is National “finish a novel” month — or “write a novel month” if you’re so inclined.  Writers are encouraged to write 50,000 words or more on a novel, and some writers work the whole rest of the year setting up what they’re going to write in November because it’s become a very big deal.

Me, I don’t do that — I don’t plan my whole year around November — but I do have this novel, CHANGING FACES, that has been in need of completion for a few years now.  What stopped me was this: my husband’s death.  That, and only that, has been the main reason CHANGING FACES hasn’t made a whole lot of progress in recent years; I have finished a few more chapters, and am very close to the end, but up until now I haven’t been up to writing the resolution of this novel — how these two lovers, who are transgendered through no fault of theirs (a Deity figure intervened, for reasons that seemed good at the time), manage to become reunited.

Now, there’s a coma involved — body displacement — with only one of the lovers awake and aware (knowing full well he’s in the wrong body, but not knowing why the Hell he’s in this situation), while the other one is speaking with an alien life form inside her own head (but also in the wrong body).  In effect, these two lovers have “changed faces” — the man’s in the woman’s body, the woman in the man’s — due to a tumultuous situation that happened long before either one met the other.

For the longest time, I didn’t know how to get these two out of this situation — reversing the “body displacement” won’t work.  Having it all be “a dream — a terrible, terrible dream!” (as Pam on “Dallas” said years ago when a whole season was wiped out) — won’t work, either.  This has to be “played straight,” or it won’t work at all — and as some of it is really funny, I have to let it play out the way it wants.  Not the way I want.

I now have an ending that works — not just the final scene, which I’ve had for years, but the whole ending.  I have the additional characters I need.  Now I just have to see how it all “plays out,” that’s all.

So that’s my goal — I plan to finish up CHANGING FACES in November.  No, it won’t take me 50,000 words to finish it; it might take 30,000.  (I am already at 108,000, but I believe a few thousand will go after the final edit.)  It will take a lot of time and energy to do . . . but I believe it’s worth it, and I believe the final result will be a positive one, which is why I’m discussing it at all.

So expect some CHANGING FACES updates in November, along with my irregular “Elfyverse” updates (if and when I make any progress in any of the ELFY-derived novels), and of course the usual flotsam and jetsam of my other, non-publishing related posts.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 28, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Writing

About to watch Game 7 of the World Series

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Well, folks, it’s all come down to this.  Game Seven of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals is about to start, and the clichés will be falling thick and fast, like snowflakes, from television announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

This is because last night, the Texas Rangers couldn’t hold a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the ninth.  They only needed one more strike to get the third out in that inning, yet the Cardinals rallied and tied the game up, 7-7. 

The game went to the tenth inning.  The Rangers took a 9-7 lead into the bottom of the tenth, but couldn’t hold that lead, either; again, they pushed the Cardinals to needing only one more strike to conclude the game . . . but again, the Cardinals rallied, and tied the game, 9-9, sending the game to the eleventh inning.

This time, the Rangers did not score in the top of the 11th; the Cardinals sent David Freese to the plate, and as he did so often against the Brewers, he got a clutch hit (this time, a home run), which sent this World Series to its concluding — and conclusive — game seven, with history in the making, the game itself in the balance, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I was hoping the game would be over last evening; the Rangers’ manager, Ron Washington, actually pitched to Albert Pujols in the bottom of the ninth inning rather than walk him intentionally — and IMO, that was a really stupid move, because Pujols isn’t a three-time MVP for nothing.  Of course Pujols got a clutch hit that extended the game and helped send the game to extra innings; who wouldn’t have predicted that, other than Ron Washington?

Anyway, this series has been marred by some really inexplicable managerial moves on both sides; this is one reason why this series will make history no matter what, though if the Rangers win, they’ll have won their first — and only — world championship, which is one of the reasons I’m rooting more for them than for the Cardinals (though I don’t really have a “dog in this hunt” either way).

So we’ll see what happens in game seven . . . won’t we?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Just Reviewed Martin’s “A Dance with Dragons” at SBR

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As the post says . . . I just reviewed George R.R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS at Shiny Book Review.  My capsule review is as follows: nearly as good as the first three books in his SOIAF cycle, much better than the fourth book, A FEAST FOR CROWS.

Have at!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 26, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Texas Rangers lead in World Series, 3-2; Tony LaRussa’s Mismanagement Steals Show

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What would baseball be without a little controversy?

Amidst the Texas Rangers convincing 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals last evening, there were a bunch of odd managerial decisions that made absolutely no sense by Tony LaRussa.

Consider this:

A pitcher, Lance Lynn, was called in to pitch when he’d been told he’d “only pitch in an emergency situation” before the game began.  (Lynn walked the only batter he faced intentionally, as once he was in the game, by rule, he had to face one batter before he could be removed.)

The bullpen coach, Derek Lilliquist, didn’t hear the right name when Tony LaRussa had called asking to get bullpen specialist Jason Motte up, which is why Lynn was up and pitching; Lilliquist, inexplicably, heard the wrong name (or at least that’s what everyone’s saying now).  That the names “Lynn” and “Motte” do not sound remotely the same makes no nevermind.

And third, because Motte wasn’t up and called in when he was supposed to be, Texas had two guys on rather than one when Rangers’ catcher Mike Napoli came up; Napoli hit a two-run double (when if LaRussa had properly managed to convey that he wanted Motte in there a batter earlier, only one run would’ve scored at maximum rather than two), and that was the ballgame.

Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan has an excellent article about this here; for now, I want to give you a few of his thoughts, because I find them both cogent and compelling.

Passan writes:

Seriously, La Russa wants people to believe that he, the most controlling of control-freak managers, would let a failure the magnitude of his best reliever not warming up go by without a trillion precautions to ensure it didn’t happen again? The guy who, when the bullpen phone malfunctioned earlier this year, sent one of his players sprinting from bench to bullpen to relay instructions – he would sit there idly in a swing game of the World Series and leave his chances up to a set of ears on the other end that blew the first conversation?

Inconsistencies between La Russa and Lilliquist’s stories were plentiful enough that it’s impossible to know what is truth and what isn’t. There could be more. Did La Russa forget the number of outs when he walked Cruz? Did he forget to mention Motte’s name on the first phone call? Most important, in what universe does “Motte” sound like “Lynn”? Especially a Lynn who isn’t supposed to throw.

As Passan says, this story doesn’t fly.  And quite frankly, it makes me wonder if LaRussa was having a “senior moment” with regards to this huge mistake in judgment, considering the amount of “cover your rear” that’s going on today over it all.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Dancing with the Stars Update: Chaz Bono Voted Off

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Folks, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me any that Chaz Bono was voted off earlier tonight during the “results” portion of “Dancing with the Stars,” but it does sadden me.

As I said last night in this post, I believed Bono wasn’t given enough credit for what he actually did during his tango.

Now, was Bono’s tango with professional dance partner Lacey Schwimmer a flawless dance?  Of course not.  But it was interesting, entertaining, and I think Bono performed it to the best of his ability.

There were plenty of performances last night that didn’t entertain me half so much as Bono’s, including that of soccer star Hope Solo and her professional partner, Maksim Chmerikovskiy.  Chmerikovsky had a well-publicized rant that I won’t reproduce here that went to the effect that Solo is being asked to do more than “other contestants, who are only judged on effort” (Chmerikovskiy said this tonight during DWTS, which is why I was able to reproduce it nearly word-for-word) — more or less calling out Chaz Bono and possibly Nancy Grace, as Grace has to be the worst dancer left now that Bono is gone (Grace also has half the charm and less than half the personality of Bono; what she does have is a cute partner, Tristan MacManus, though Schwimmer is a beautiful woman and has a following of her own due to several seasons on DWTS and a season on “So You Think You Can Dance” years ago).

I chose to focus on Bono rather than Chmerikovskiy’s rant because to me, as a performer, what Bono was going through was obvious.  He had just done his best; it wasn’t perfect, but he did something way outside his comfort zone, and aside from his partner Schwimmer (and maybe the rest of the cast, who all seemed to love Bono like he was a long-lost brother), Bono got no appreciation for it.  That judge Bruno Tonioli called Bono a “cute little penguin” didn’t sit well with Bono, as we saw during tonight’s results episode, where some of the “behind the scenes” stuff from last evening was played — Bono said that he was tired of being called “some fat troll who’s dancing with the beautiful girl” (referring to his partner, Schwimmer, who really is a beautiful woman) and that Tonioli, in particular, kept saying this about Bono.

I know that hosts Tom Bergeron and Brooke Burke-Charvet were worried that Bono would lose it on stage due to how angry he was due to last night’s comments from head judge Len Goodman and Tonioli, but Bono was gracious.  He thanked the cast of DWTS; he thanked them for the opportunity, and said that his whole mission was to give others the idea that there could be a “different kind of man,” at which point Schwimmer hooted and hollered in obvious support.  (Good for her!)

I think Bono acquitted himself well on DWTS and I really enjoyed watching him dance.  I also believe Schwimmer should be commended on three fronts: she helped Bono learn to dance, she helped Bono withstand the criticism of being DWTS’s first ever transsexual contestant, and she was honest with him about his ability and his strengths from the first.

I hope Bono realizes what Schwimmer has done here, as it goes well beyond a teacher who’s proud of her pupil.  Schwimmer actively supported Bono and treated him just like any other guy; she saw him as male (which, of course, he is), she saw him as worthy of praise and criticism just like anyone else, and she did what she could to help him withstand the unnecessary criticism she knew he was likely to get from some of the judges.

Now, Bono also made one other point in those revealing “after-the-Monday-dance comments” — he said that the bigger women (referring to Nancy Grace and Ricki Lake) were praised for losing weight, but that his weight loss had gone unobserved and/or uncommented on.   Schwimmer definitely seemed to understand this; she’s had large, male partners before (Kyle Massey immediately comes to mind) and she knows from her own father, Buddy Schwimmer, that bigger men can indeed learn to dance and dance very well.

I hope that Bono will take away three things from his DWTS experience:

1) He has made a true friend, Lacey Schwimmer — and her friendship is worth having.

2) He learned how to dance several dances (cha cha, rhumba, tango, samba, quickstep, and one more).

3) He has a winning personality and the ability to persevere amidst a huge amount of psychological and physical strain.

If he keeps all of that in mind and dwells on what he did right rather than the DWTS judges commentary, the world could indeed be his oyster.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2011 at 10:13 pm