Sunday, April 20, 2014

Side by Side in Sochi

I've been looking around for a set of gifs showing VM vis a vis DW twizzling in, I believe, the team competition in Sochi, but haven't succeeded in finding them again.

Eta: Here they are, thanks to 6:23 a.m. from the comments below:

The above were gifed by If you're in the mood for a good ice dance-related cry, head on over there. Lots and lots of VM to DW comparison gifs.

Below are my gifs from the individual event, and the wtf-ery in Scheherazade continues to impress. Look at whatever the fuck this is below.*

This is junk. It's okay in small doses, as a final accent or flourish, but every time we break down one of Davis White's programs we get nothing but dumbed down elements and filler crap like this. Meryl switches legs as she's dragging on the side of her boot, and my favorite part is how after she lifts that right leg, it dead weights on back down. Why bother with control when gravity can do all the work? Of course Charlie's bent over so Meryl's arm can do that reach back hook around his neck. There certainly aren't any more efficient holds for this move, right? But don't let Meryl's mess distract you from Charlie - he's FUBAR too. When he assists her back up, his posture is ass and he's moving as if he's got his head/hair stuck caught in her costume, even though he doesn't. That's just how he rolls with posture any time he's not standing straight up.

10:57 AM in the comments section under this post directed the blog's attention to this gif below. (Thanks very much, 10:57 AM) It's Hubbell/Donohue doing a move that, in its contours, is somewhat similar to DW's above, except not similar at all because Maddy is skating. Compare her edge to Meryl's, and stay tuned for Doris & Co. to explain why sliding around on your boot after half-assing a short, wobbly flat off a cursory, half-assed inside edge is a whole lot more difficult than doing the nice clear, clean edge change H&D execute below. And of course, those wizards of physics will explain why reaching back and hooking your arm around your partner's neck so he has to make like a hunchback when you pull this off is more impressive than neatly balancing yourself on his leg while he skates as well. Why doesn't Zach snow plow like Charlie? Don't they want to win Olympic gold? Please also note, as also emphasized in the comments section beneath this post, that Zachary is tracking her change edge with his own change edge, while, mind you, changing the orientation of his upper body mid-move. Please, Doris Pulaski, explain why, according to the standards and criteria spelled out the rules by which this "sport" is judged, Davis White's junkyard piece of claptrap is more difficult and demonstrates skating skill superior to the version executed by Hubbell Donohue. Is it because Charlie, albeit on two wide-planted feet, risks getting his windpipe strangled by Meryl's arm?

Here are the Sochi fd twizzles from the ice dance competition.

Some twizzle snapshots:

The Entrance

The entrance
After first set, prior to second set.
Look at them. Can you blame VM fans for being so jealous?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Not like a ballerina.

This is not like a ballerina

I don't see many ballerinas with the torso tight, chest closed, hips tight and closed, shoulders nearly hunched, and chin down facing the floor or ice. This is almost freakish.

See the difference?

See the difference?

Forget the toes. And the skating. Look at the torso, the shoulders, the chest, the neck (not snapped back, btw), the pelvis and the hips. Everything's stretched, lifted, open.

See the difference directly below? Straight up and down. The body isn't connected, there's nothing running "through" the body. And look at that dropped elbow.

See the difference?

Let's look back at the top again.

This is not good. It's bad. I imagine Davis White fans have simply been in the habit of getting those two concepts mixed up for a long time.

I'm having issues embedding Meryl and Charlie's dances from last night, so I'll have to troubleshoot that later.

ETA - okay, here we go:

I haven't broken thse down yet, but I bet Charlie wouldn't have dropped the cane if he engaged his upper body fully when he moves. Charlie trends to "quick" but small. He doesn't really articulate his body unless it's where it's been particularly broken down for him and emphasized by his instructor, and then defaults back to small. He might have caught the cane before it flew away if he didn't have that habit. He needs to keep his chest and shoulders open.

But note that at the end, Sharna is able to rotate without Charlie hunkering down and girdling her with his arm, pasting her to his trunk, and pushing her legs straight.

I do think his partner is a class act, that they connect well, and it helps him phrase, cue off her, and lose himself more in the performance. He shouldn't, IMO, start getting fast-but-unfinished when he starts getting into the performance, but that happened less here than in the jive.

And as for Meryl, I thought this was her best performance in terms of moving with some naturalness and relaxation added into her jackhammer movement style, but then again, there wasn't exactly a ton of movement, period. There were glimpses of samba in tiny segments. It was like DW skating programs (and like Maks' choreography, which means he and Meryl are a match made in heaven) - show a minimal amount of the actual dance - dance, hell, minimize steps, period, and vamp with the upper body. Execute super complicated open hold moves like moving side by side across the floor or ice in a stright line facing the same direction and then switch from right to left in an arm's length hand hold. That blew up the scoreboard in Schez, if memory serves.

Gifs after the jump.

I'm going to put them up and comment more later but I think most of the "samba" speaks for itself. If anybody can explain some of the WTF, feel free.

You know what I just now noticed, and realize happened in the AT too - she tries to or actually does hop or jump in direction changes even on the floor. Look at the elementary direction changes in this "samba".  Little hops, up-jerks and jumps all over the place (and I don't mean the samba "bounce", but when she changes direction).

Pirouettes are my favorite part of samba.

I can't remember what part of samba this is but Meryl is killing it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I'll do more with this later, but I was so curious how Val would handle the positions in the air in Argentine tango, as often the man holds the woman with her feet off the ground, in frame (but supported). With her hips and both legs free, she hits lines with her legs while he turns or moves her from one side of his body to the other. That would require core control and control of her limbs Meryl has never shown in ice dance.

Take a look. The answer is - Val didn't. The strobe lights also helped the illusion of sharpness, as did a costume down one side of her body.

There has to be a reason Meryl's gotten two weeks of tens, and it's not because her dancing has gotten awesome after weeks one and two. Weeks one and two is when the fan vote comes in and the producers know what they've got. Frequently, if the fan vote is crushing it, the show creates suspense by lowering scores and building them over the season. If somebody is not getting the fan vote, then often their scores are inflated to make them seem like the sure winner. Meryl's score inflation is so abrupt, and so disconnected from what she's actually doing, even by DWTs standards, that it makes me suspect a Ricky Lake, Stacey Keibler, or even Mario Lopez situation (my understanding is Mario was popular enough but Emmitt Smith crushed it in the fan vote).

P.S. Charlie has to learn not to jerk his partner from here to there. Actual dancers like Sharna and Peta don't need to be yanked into place. Still, Charlie got an actual critique. This week, the judges decided to notice what was there and not there, and addressed it.

Okay, duly noted from comments contributor 5:34 below, Maks/Meryl's foxtrot got 120,907+ views. What does that tell us? I don't know. If you filter DWTS youtube videos by count, ignoring the non-dancing performances (like Bieber and Selena Gomez) and ignoring pro dances (like the Hough sibs jiving) and count only the highest views for celeb/partner dances, and depending, I'm sure, on how the search is worded, we see these results:

Bill Nye/Tyne cha cha: 3,545,714 views
Nancy Grace wardrobe malfunction: 1,281,543 views
Kim Kardashian Foxtrot: 1,183,195 views

And a whole bunch of Derek Hough dances with both Jennifer Gray and Nicole Scherzinger are over a million.

Gifs start after the jump.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Let's look at lots of teams

Here are more of canadablue's ice dance comparisons. Thanks canadablue.

Every time one watches Meryl skate, new weirdnesses. This time, I saw how her blade will jerk-slip-slide forward on a flat in the middle of a transition. It's as if her foot gets away from her. Watch her feet.They're ridiculous. Charlie's can be messy, and lack control, but she is on flats out of nowhere, and there are so many other instances of seemingly random what-the-fuckery with her skates constantly going on right in our face.

In the twizzles, look at the ice coverage from Tessa and Scott, and that Mery and Charlie's slow to a virtual standstill by the last rotation of the second set.

Let's also just revisit the glory of the team that stood on the top of the ice dance podium in Sochi because of this kind of "skating".

There's that technical precision that gives them the edge.
Well, not the edge, edge, but you know what I mean.
But at least in their twizzles, they're doing that super hard thing of hopping into them, an ultra challenging L4 feature seeing as how you could really hurt yourself trying to get back onto an edge. Hopping into a rotation doesn't create rotational momentum at all. That's why nobody jumps into a spin. Don't listen to actual physics. Listen to Doris Polaski's made-up physics.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Maks is catching on.

Got a better copy of this. As I just watched it, I had to take back the idea of not saying anything until tomorrow. My main question isn't just where did the Foxtrot happen, but where did the dancing happen?

Meryl actually walked this dance. I could see if it were contemporary, where you sort of walk around lyrically in between emoting and lifts, but this is Foxtrot. She was striding through the parts where she wasn't death dropping and kicking. I get when you've got somebody who's not really a dancer - and she's not - you break it up so they don't have to sustain a through line. I get it. But the part where we're to believe she was actually doing the assigned dance, she was walking and striding. No rise and fall. That's what I'm going to gif tomorrow.
Look at Meryl foxtrot.
One wonders what went on in training, and at what point
Maks realized he couldn't teach her to actually dance.
Break out the bag of schtick (He had Kirstie Alley
on the floor in one of their dances too. Of course, she
was 60.)

And this:

8 straight seconds standing dead still. I recounted. 14 seconds standing in one spot on the floor. 7 seconds not even changing position, just lip hovering. I bet even Marina would be hard-pressed to beat that. You go, Maks.

This guy's older than Meryl - it's John O'Hurley from Season 1, doing a foxtrot. I don't think he has a gold medal at home, but he's not taking a load off in the middle of his routine. I'm putting it here so the rise and fall can be observed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

It's not like Moirville is subtle

It's not random. It doesn't work like that.

And not for nothing, but let's remember a triple play of family events right after the Olympics last time and consider how it's setting up right after the Olympics this time. That didn't stop Scott from putting the Jessica sham on blast or Je taiming Jessica on facebook.

P.S. - this just occurred to me, so file it under the category of "Slow-witted":

Scott and Tessa could be being cagey about their retirement plans in order to keep the spotlight on themselves and Moirville. Yes, I think they want to stay in, but there's the need to stay relevant as well. Moirville went big the past two seasons, and went grabby. But Moirville isn't really good at saying "That's enough." Keeping the issue open keeps VM (and Moirville) in the spotlight.

Look at Shannon Woodhouse's follow-up:

Look at that follow up. Even "good friends" is a lot to see when you're watching from another table. What's the "can't say more than that." There's more to say but I can't say on twitter? Or couldn't tell if it was more?

This is such b.s. Imagine you work in an institution and at the next table is someone else who works there, dining with her well-known son, her husband and a guest. You get on twitter and tell the world the son is there with a well-known guest, and you put your name on that tweet. You don't ask permission to tell the world your colleague's business or her son's business. You know it's just fine you're putting news about a colleague onto the cybersphere. When a stranger on twitter follows up with a question, you are happy to expand and you are unnecessarily cryptic about the status of the famous son and his friend. Shannon Woodhouse is a freaking adult, a grown person, not somebody who just left school. This was a set up.

Please with this.

P.S. - Recapping DWTS tomorrow night - am not watching in real time so will wait til the videos are up on and elsewhere. I do know the scores so far - Meryl on top of the leaderboard. I'm anxious to see if it's the routine or the dancing (Maks got Willa Ford tens for Foxtrot once so it's not always dancing. But if he got Meryl to really do it, good for them. With Willa he pretty much held her up.)

I think there's bizarre score inflation for this season. I recently checked out the season where Zendaya/Val danced and that team got 8s for better stuff than they're giving 9s and 10s for this season. Maybe they're inspired by DW's ice dance career.

My work here is not done

So ISU president Speedy Cinquanta is looking ahead to his 2016 departure, and, as he notes in a recent communique, time's a wasting. A lot has been accomplished, but there's more to be done if the sport is to be irrevocably be stripped of its credibility before his final sayanara.

He shares his thoughts:

There's still time to make figure skating worse

Read that. Does anybody think a penetrating intellect like David Dore's would have trouble controlling this guy?

I don't know why Speedy's plans are so conservative. I've got some ideas:

For pairs:
Divide the rink in half and compress the routine.Two pairs teams compete at the same time, one at each end. Judges compare tricks, and the audience is on the edge of their seats in case one of the throws sends a lady sailing to the wrong end of the rink, decapitating the other guy.

For singles:
No more singles. Singles relay. One by one each skater in each flight races after the other onto the ice and does their opening pose and preliminary stroking. Repeat as each follows the other with their next sequence or element. Only half the footwork is done per turn, because the audience doesn't have the attention span for all that shit at once. The spirals can be completed in one go cause they're pretty.

For dance:
Two teams on the ice at once, but the rink isn't split. At a point to be determined by blind draw at each event, the teams must switch partners before a key, easily apprehended element such as the dance spin or the twizzles. The voting is factored so that the skaters are scored individually, not as a team. At the medal ceremony, it could be Alexandra Paul standing up there with Alex Shibutani.