Grandpa Rossy’s DWTS Run Extends 2016’s Fun Ride

Image: Chicago Sun-Times

“I hadn’t watched an episode of Dancing with the Stars in years. And I don’t suppose anything other than a member of the 2016 World Series Chicago Cubs accepting the challenge to compete would have enticed me to return. This is an abnormal moment in American history. The former host of The Apprentice is now Commander-in-Chief. And the spiritual leader of the greatest Cubs team in modern history is faithfully shaking his sequined moneymaker every week on live TV. How can I reasonably stay away?

I admit that when I first learned Rossy would take on ballroom dancing, the idea seemed to make as much sense as giving a thirsty person a glass of saltwater. After years spent in a crouched position racking up concussions, no way was David Ross a threat to flexible fellow contestants like Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Simon Biles. But the catcher is retired from baseball and always demonstrated a flair for the silly in the Cubs dugout (treat yourself to this video of Rossy playing air drums during Phil Collins classic “In the Air Tonight”). Why not try something scary and new?”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.

Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories

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We’re back! The BeckySarwate.com Team took a break from this feature over the summer. But with the runup to the November 8 presidential election in full swing, we figured some worthy stories are bound to fall through the cracks. We’re here to help draw attention to the serious, silly and uplifting news items you might have missed this week…

Muslim woman set on fire in suspected hate crime

While Donald Trump has been haranguing Hillary Clinton after her now-famous “basket of deplorables” comment, a disturbing trend of attacks against Muslims continues. One can’t overlook the possible connection between Trump, his hateful rhetoric and proposed ban on Muslims and these misguided vigilantes. Back in August, an Imam and his assistant were murdered near a Mosque in New York City. This week’s hate crime once again took place in New York City when a woman wearing a traditional head covering had her garments set on fire outside a high-end clothing store. The BeckySarwate.com Team members are rabid consumers of cable news, and Trump’s quest for apology after Clinton’s accurate description of some of his supporters has been given exponentially more coverage than this crime. Once again, the media should be ashamed of themselves and its skewed priorities.

NCAA bans North Carolina from championship events

So called ‘religious liberty laws’  have been a hot topic for much of 2016. In fact, prior to the summer hiatus, this weekly feature highlighted the consequences facing the state of Georgia over this very issue.  Apparently North Carolina learned nothing from their neighbor to the south. How is it that certain states refuse to wake up and realize segregation is bad for business and for humanity? Oh, and they also refuse to acknowledge that the civil rights movement happened and was largely successful. It’s time for members of a certain political party to move on and accept that humans are humans. Period.

ABC execs apparently didn’t get the memo that people don’t like Ryan Lochte 

Our team experienced a collective jaw-dropping shock when the cast list for Season 23 of Dancing With the Stars was announced earlier this month. Ryan Lochte? Really? The d-bag who very recently concocted an absurd (read: totally made up) robbery story during the Olympic Games in Rio? The guy who, at the time of his casting, hadn’t yet been handed his punishment for creating international tension by the United States Olympic Committee? Ultimately he received a 10-month ban from the sport. Lochte disgraced this fine nation at the competetive level when we’re already grappling with enough humiliation from The Orange One. Yes indeed, this is who ABC figured would make a fine and popular contestant for their long-running celebrity entertainment program. It seems we weren’t the only ones to object. Click the link above for some semi-hilarious evidence that Lochte is not exactly America’s Sweetheart.

New York Fashion Week makes history 

This week’s feel-good story comes at a time when divisiveness seems to be the norm. Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan debuted her collection this week with models wearing hijab, thumbing her nose at those who protest the modest religious garb. It’s enough that she shared this message of inclusiveness at her first ever NYFW show, but the more touching story is the reaction from the crowd. The display concluded with a standing ovation, something the event’s press manager has never seen in all her years in the industry. We are all about trail-blazing, strong women at BeckySarwate.com and this gal has stolen our hearts.

Spinning Plates (February 25, 2011)

Ever since I started a full-time job a couple of weeks ago, I have been forced to do something I loathe: admit that sometimes, as much as I want to, it’s impossible do it all. More specifically, I am referring to maintaining this blog, reading the work of other writers I admire and staying up on current events. Sure I have been able to grab some of the headlines: Libya’s Qaddafi the next dictator on his way out, Charlie’s Sheen’s bizarre war with his long-enabling network, Christine O’Donnell’s possible appearance on Dancing with the Stars, and the fulfillment of my secret wish that Eliot Spitzer be allowed to host his CNN hour without the dull as can be Kathleen Parker. Be that as it may, I haven’t been able to engage in the media deep dive I had ample time to enjoy as a member of the mass unemployed community.

I am not complaining. I am enjoying a career fulfillment this year which seemed so remote just eight weeks ago. I love my new position and am enjoying the challenges and opportunities to develop my skill set as a multi-media professional.

But there is that Catch-22. While enjoying financial security through ghost writing for another, I must give shorter shrift to my personal ambitions as an author, ambitions that to this point, have done absolutely nothing to pay the bills or provide a life direction. I get so frustrated with myself sometimes. Why can’t I let things be enough? I was a miserable, depressed insomniac before I found myself in this place. Being solvent again has rectified most of that turmoil, but in it’s stead is a lesser, but still persistent guilt, a voice in my head that not-so-gently goes to sleep and wakes up with me. It whispers that I have TWO jobs – the one that pays the rent and the fiscally thankless one of trying to build my own brand (whatever that means) and hone my craft.

I have written before that I am the ultimate late bloomer. I didn’t stop growing until I was 21, finally put on my first big girl bra at age 25, figured out that I wanted (needed) to write at age 30 and removed my braces (and finally gained some self-esteem) at age 31. It is terribly frustrating to realize sometimes that as I round the corner toward 33, I am far from done maturing. I am, in a very real way, still trying to figure it all out. I realize I am not alone in my extended adolescence but when I recall that Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in her early 20s, I feel so….embarrassed I think is the word for which I’m looking. I can’t even imagine being someone’s mother and I remain in awe of all the career women who do it, and do it well.

What’s my point? Besides articulating the thoughts that have taken up residency in my consciousness the last fortnight, I am wondering if other writers, of both sexes, struggle with this tension between being a part of the literal working world, while still nurturing and cherishing the dream. It’s exhausting, it can be exhilarating, but is it sustainable, or does one eventually have to make a decision about which plate they will take off the stick and eat from eternally?

No, ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ Just No! (February 12, 2011)

Please don’t do this to me y’all. I have watched every episode of every season you have ever had. I have stuck with you through Tom Bergeron’s multiple co-host changes (and sorry ladies, none of you can ad-lib your way out of a Smart car). I have suffered through Bristol Palin and feared your casting team could go no lower than Evander Holyfield, but now you are thinking of doing this? Does my loyalty purchase no gratitude?

Rumor Mill: Brett Favre to Join ‘Dancing with the Stars?’

I knew it. I was finally lulled into the belief that I might be free of seeing this grizzled old drama queen wince his way across my TV screen. I swore that after a highly publicized episode of texting his pee pee to a female employee of the NFL, after leading the Minnesota Vikings to a horrendously disappointing season, promising once and for all to free the league of his divatude, he might take his millions and crawl into a pop cultural cave for a spell. But no, the ultimate media whore has decided instead to give ballroom dancing a whirl.

Though a loyal fan, I have never cast a vote for a contestant of this show before. However, if the rumor pans out and Favre does compete on the 12th season of the program, I will start my own robo dial campaign – for everyone but him.

Go away Brett!

10 Unusual Things For Which I’m Thankful (November 25, 2010)

1. Getting Fired

Yes, though I remain out of work and the unemployment experience is often panic-filled and emotionally draining, I am grateful to have been let go. That’s because the job I worked, under the thumb of an arbitrary and capricious narcissist, was wrong for me and my long-term goals in just about every way. But because I will often continue to push a boulder up a hill even after my back gives out, I’m not sure anything short of termination would have allowed me to look beyond my immediate surroundings to strive for something better.

2. Bristol Palin Finishing 3rd on “Dancing with the Stars”

This bit of justice served demonstrated to me, on a microcosmic level, that the rational middle can band together to combat the hysterical and determined fringe, if only their organizational abilities are channeled in the right direction. All that remains is to inspire people to vote for their national leaders and the direction of their children’s future with the same enthusiasm. Maybe one day we can vote for President via 888 number, text and email?

3. Tendonitis

When a recurring case of deep tissue tendonitis on the underside of my right foot ended a burgeoning running career, I felt despondent. Forced to sit on the sidelines for eight weeks until I could consider cardio again, I felt like the oldest 32 year-old in the world. But then my friend and trainer Rob repaired my old bicycle and a new world opened. I have covered the entire North and West sides of my beloved hometown of Chicago on a trusty Schwinn, and I have people watched until the eyes literally stung. And my problematic thighs and rear end have never looked better. Boo ya injury!

4. My Father’s Final Break With Reality

Tragic and more painful than there are words to describe, but also oddly transformative and liberating at the same time. For the first time in 32 years, I am not living anyone else’s life or paying for anyone else’s mistakes but my own.

5. My Husband’s Anxiety

My nickname for Eddie is “Aunty,” because in many areas of his mostly together life, he carries himself with the needless worry of an old Indian woman. I tell him often that he loves to conjure crisis where there isn’t any. But in one particular case, when he fretted for naught this year that he was about to be let go from his contract position at work (instead, they wanted to offer him an extension), his jumpiness paid dividends. He now has a permanent managerial job with a huge and stable company – with plenty of room to grow. In a year plagued with my own employment instability (see #1), there is something to be said for insurance.

6. The BP Gulf Oil Spill

Of COURSE I wish this catastrophe had never happened. So much coastline, so many animals, jobs and resources destroyed by the carelessness and greed of a government/corporate dynamic. Horrifying. But since the tragedy did occur, I learned a lesson, one I am afraid much of America has not yet received. We MUST liberate ourselves from clutches of oil consumption. It is bad for our environment. It is bad for our nation’s security. It is bad for our economy. We need a plan, and we need lawmakers who aren’t more interested in lining their pockets with Big Oil slush funds.

7. Mayor Daley’s Resignation

Ding dong the witch is dead! Whatever the King’s reasons, I could not be happier to rid this fantastic City of his corrupt ass. The sickening property taxes, the astronomical cost of housing, the horrendous parking meter lease, the Chicago Olympic never-should-have-happened bid. Waste, graft. Rarely have I seen a lawmaker so overstay his welcome, although John Boehner has been House Majority Leader for like 10 minutes and I’m already past my limit. Anyway, Daley’s departure also opens up one of the most wacky and exciting populist contests to hit the Chicago machine since I don’t know when. Rahm Emannuel, Roland Burris, and Carol Mosley Braun? Nuts!

8. The Finale of Lost

Thank you Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse for teaching a control freak such as I that it is possible to be utterly mystified, vexed and awed and still love every moment of what I am seeing.

9. Brett Michaels

The former hair metal hasbeen taught me this year that it is possible to cheat death twice (major stroke, hole in the heart) and still come back to win Celebrity Apprentice and bust up Billy Ray Cyrus’ marriage. Inspirational middle finger to the Grim Reaper.

10. Nicoderm CQ

For saving Eddie’s life.

Dancing with the Stars Gets Palined (November 18, 2010)

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I am simultaneously awed and repulsed by former Alaskan Governor and 2008 GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s sway on the voting public. The former emotion is influenced by the undeniable statistics that underpin Palin’s track record. Six of the 11 total Senate candidates that Palin backed in this month’s mid-term elections won their seats. And of the five that didn’t emerge victorious, two of them, former Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle and Alaskan attorney Joe Miller, were defeated by a hair despite being two of the most dangerous candidates on any ballot anywhere.

Those who dismiss the real power of Palin do so at their own peril, no matter how vile I find the woman. I was quite sure in late 2008, after Barack Obama handed John McCain a resounding defeat that crossed party lines, that Sarah Palin would retreat to the Alaskan wilderness she calls home, living out the rest of her life as a political afterthought, a wacky footnote in Presidential election history.

But while Palin may not be able to recall books or magazines that she reads, the woman is a publicity machine virtuoso. Somehow, by freeing herself of the shackles of her elected office, a move many of us never saw coming, she has grown only more politically powerful. She’s like a Gremlin that someone fed after midnight. The woman is everywhere: Fox News, reality TV, candidate meet and greets. She also seems to genuinely hold together a close knit family, raising a special needs child and servicing her backwoods hottie of a husband, Todd. She somehow appears to get more attractive with every public appearance, like a rifle-toting Dorian Gray. It’s challenging at times not to admire the lady. As something of a multi-tasking wunderkind myself, I must begrudgingly hand it to another.

However, that does not mean I like her personally. I absolutely abhor her politics and just about everything she stands for: pro-life, pro-guns, anti-regulation, and many times, anti-sense period. She is equal parts fascinating and nauseating. As a card carrying liberal who worships CNN and avoids Fox and other GOP media arms, it has up until recently, been fairly easy to limit face time with Sarah Palin.

But then ABC announced its cast for Dancing with the Stars Season 11 and I knew my luck was about to end. Bristol Palin, Sarah’s 19 year-old daughter and a successful “teen activist (cough)” was chosen as one of the “celebrity dancers (double cough).” What were the odds that Sarah Palin, a nearly unparalleled media whore, would pass up the opportunity to support her offspring on TV’s #1 show?

I must admit, at first I sort of clapped my hands together with glee. What a train wreck this would be! Bristol was going to suck! And initially, I was not disappointed. Witness the mid-October routine in which Bristol and her partner Mark Ballas donned gorilla suits to dance the jive accompanied byThe Monkees theme song. Horrifying. Deservedly so, the teenager found herself at the bottom of the leader board and on her way to elimination.

Not so fast…

I realized to my horror, and all too belatedly, that Sarah Palin’s continuous presence in the audience, and inside the packaged clips that precede each choreographed dance routine, might be something of a motivator for the show’s audience, which skews older and Republican. As a contestant’s final standings comprise an amalgam of judge’s scores and democratic viewer votes (dammit!), week after week, the teenager has escaped certain death.

As the show lurches toward next week’s finale, the bodies of far better dancers whom Bristol has knocked off lie in its wake: Audrina Patridge, the talented, if vacant former star of MTV’s The Hills, Rick Fox, the sexy and suave retired L.A. Laker, and just this past Tuesday, the most shocking defeat of all. R&B singer and actress Brandy was eliminated despite receiving a perfect score of 30 for her engaging Argentine Tango.

What the hell gives?

Although violence is never the answer, I find myself sympatico with viewer Steven Cowan from Vermont, Wisconsin, a man so incensed with Bristol’s triumph over Brandy that he shot his television. New York Times’ columnist Gail Collins writes this morning:

“According to a police report posted on The Smoking Gun Web site, Cowan became so upset by the political implications of Bristol Palin’s continuing victories on “Dancing With the Stars” that he shot the family television, precipitating a 15-hour standoff with local police. The complaint notes that Cowan did not think that Bristol ‘was a good dancer.'”

Although I did little more than launch my remote across the living room on Tuesday night, I sympathize with Cowan’s rage. We have come to begrudgingly accept Palin’s influence in the political arena, but please Tea Partiers, leave the integrity of Dancing with the Stars untouched.

Too late I guess. At this point, it seems inevitable that Bristol Palin will walk off with the coveted Mirrorball trophy next week. Our only hope of salvation is the mobilization of the Jennifer Grey/Dirty Dancing/ Ferris Bueller lobby. Get out the vote! The future of reality TV is at stake! Maybe the pending miscarriage of justice will spur Democrats more than minor issues like war, tax reform, health care and the economy were able to on November 2.

God bless America.

This Week’s Pop Cultural Winners and Losers (November 13, 2010)

Winners:

Spam
This canned, precooked meat product introduced by Hormel in 1937 and sold in 41 countries around the world turned out to be a literal lifesaver for the 3,300 passengers stranded on the Carnival Splendor. The ship was finally towed back to San Diego this week after three days adrift without power. Just when we thought the era of heavily salted, processed foods had jumped the shark, mysterious gelatinous glaze stages a roaring comeback.

Chinese Architecture
The upside to denying over 1 billion citizens personal freedoms is that a government is able to mobilize and complete infrastructure projects with lightening speed. Witness the story this week of China’s completion of a 15-story hotel in just six days. Using pre-fabricated materials, the structure was assembled in record time, without injury to any of the crew. Meanwhile back in the States, we’re working on 25 years of trying to get the much needed Hudson River Tunnel started.

The NFL
If he can be believed this time, the 41 year-old quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings will finally free the sports world from headlines about his drug use, false retirements and infidelity. The athlete announced on Friday that the end of this season would be his last, and there is reason to believe he might be sincere this time as his career is currently a smoldering ruin of scandal and injury. The NFL, which has much reason to appreciate Favre’s past contributions to the game, would still do well to be rid of this prima donna cancer once and for all.

Losers:

Carnival Cruises
Fire! A Spam buffet! Overflowing toilets! No power! Let the lawsuits begin, despite Carnival’s vow to fully refund all passenger tickets, as well as issue vouchers for future travel.

Anand Vasudev
The ousted contestant on this season of NBC’s The Apprentice became the first to be dropped for breaking the rules and lying about it directly to The Donald’s face. The irony is that the infraction, which occurred on a task in which Vasudev’s team buried their opponents, proved to be both unnecessary and unproductive. The contestant smuggled a secret cell phone and sent text messages asking a friend to bring him money. The shady play backfired and not only that, but the mistake afforded Trump a great, if entirely cynical, PR opportunity. As the Donald prepared to fire Anand, he took a moment to pontificate on the corporate underhandedness that has lead America to the dismal economic place that it currently occupies.

Viewers of Dancing with the Stars
Yes, the final four includes the talent of pop singer Brandy, the inspiration of cancer survivor and Dirty Dancing icon Jennifer Grey, as well as the youthful exuberance of Disney star Kyle Massey. However, for eight torturous weeks now, the viewers have also had to endue the whiny, ungifted listlessness of teen mother Bristol Palin. Nevermind that the only thing Bristol did to become a “star” was have premarital sex before becoming the ultimate abstinence advocacy hypocrite. She absolutely sucks as a dancer, and since that is what the show is all about, here’s hoping the Red States take an early Thanksgiving break from their recent fondness for voting.