Dona Nobis Pacem

Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 by Travis Cody in

Yeah, I missed it.

In my defense, I've been dealing with a significant health issue since early October.  I've taken disability from work and Pam has taken a leave of absence.

I won't share the details because that's private.  Just know that I'm doing well and looking forward to getting back to good health in the new year.

My best to all.

We Wondersss...

Posted: Wednesday, April 27, 2016 by Travis Cody in

We wondersss, preciousss, yes we doesss.  Like...

...Pam and I bring reusable canvass bags to the grocery and to any other place we shop for our sundries.  Actually, we keep a stash of reusable bags in both vehicles so that we can use them anywhere we might require some kind of bag to carry a purchase.  We bring more than enough bags for all of our grocery and sundry purchases.  And yet, without fail, the person who bags these purchases stuffs as much as possible into as few bags as possible.

We shouldn't have to ask to spread out the load, should we?

...Why History has decided to remove all of the historical programming from its channel.  Oh sure, some would say programs like Pawn Stars and American Pickers might talk about historical trinkets, gadgets, and the occasional significant piece of Americana.  But Ax Men and Ancient Aliens?  I'm sure plenty of viewers enjoy that kind of programming, but why is it on History Channel?  Where are all the documentaries about actual historical events?  Why must so much of the programming be sensationalized pseudo-history or worse...entirely fabricated based on rumor and conspiracy theory?  Can't History make well-researched documentaries about events in time that changed the world, or advanced the human condition?

Perhaps we'll just have to continue to get decent historical and educational programming from Smithsonian Channel.

...Why so many people addicted to posting comments in articles and tweeting their thoughts can't do so with proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Or at least two out of three.  Or even one out of three.  I get that you only get 140 characters per tweet, and I get that you want to put your thought out quickly, but you really can take the extra 30 seconds to read what you've just typed for clarity and sense.  Don't you understand that words spelled incorrectly and phrases missing periods or other punctuation marks can change the meaning of what you intended to say?  Or make what you wanted to say completely senseless or impossible to understand?  Or that auto-correct doesn't always understand the word you really wanted and the word it chooses may completely ruin your message?

Those people called "grammar police" or "spelling nazis" get a bum wrap it's not about being self-important at least it isn't for me it's more about figuring out when one of your thoughts ends and the next one begins it's easier to do that if you spend a couple of those 140 characters on a period take a breath you don't talk in run on sentences why write that way?

So we wondersss...yes preciousss, we doesss.

Cue that theme music...

Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 by Travis Cody in

...uhm, or not.

While I fully intended to resume DWTS reviews this week, the stuff and the things kind of got in the way.  I can report that the stuff and the things are bringing us joy and euphoria.

So Pam and I wish you all the joy and euphoria you can get out of your stuff and things.  Perhaps you'll see a Dancing review next Tuesday in this space.  It could happen.

Carry on!


Posted: Friday, April 22, 2016 by Travis Cody in

"I had a massive ego [at youth].  Massive.  But that's not such a bad thing.  Because at least you're aspiring to be something, you consider yourself great because you want to be great."

Prince Rogers Nelson
7 June 1958 - 21 April 2016

16 B-25s Go To Tokyo

Posted: Monday, April 18, 2016 by Travis Cody in

On 18 April 1942, 74 years ago today, Lt Col Jimmy Doolittle led 16 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers off the carrier deck of USS Hornet in a raid against Tokyo.  Although damage was modest, the impact on American morale was immense.

When I was blogging regularly, I re-posted my commemoration to honor the men who flew those bombers to Tokyo to prove that the Japanese homeland was vulnerable, and to give the US a morale boost after a series of devastating defeats in the Pacific to mark its entry into World War II.  You can read my post from 2013 here.  

When I made that post, there were only four surviving Raiders.  At each reunion, the surviving crew members performed a roll call and then drank a toast to the Raiders who passed since they last met.  Each man has a special silver goblet engraved with his name.  The goblets of those Raiders who have passed are turned down.

A final toast was to be between the last two surviving Raiders, with a bottle of vintage Hennessy cognac from the year of Colonel Doolittle's birth, 1896.  The bottle and the goblets have traveled to each reunion since 1960.

On 9 November 2013, at the National Museum of the US Air Force near Dayton OH, the four surviving Raiders made the Final Toast, knowing that this would be the last time they would be able to travel.  They saluted their brothers who have passed before them, and declared the mission over.  The goblets remain on display at the museum.

And now only two surviving Raiders remain.

  • Sgt Edward J Saylor was born 15 March 1920.  He was a flight engineer and gunner on aircraft 15.  He retired from the Air Force in 1967 as a Lt Colonel.  He passed on 28 January 2015, just a few weeks short of his 95th birthday.
  • Lt Robert L Hite was born 3 March 1920.  He was co-pilot on aircraft 16 and survived his war in a Japanese POW camp.  After leaving the service at the end of the war, he returned to active duty in 1951.  He left the Air Force finally in 1955 as a Lt Colonel.  He passed on 29 March 2015 at the age of 95.
  • Lt Richard E Cole (born 7 Sept 1915) turned 100 last year.  He was co-pilot on Doolittle's aircraft.
  • Sgt David J Thatcher (born 31 July 1921) turns 95 this summer.  He was a flight engineer and gunner on aircraft 7.

On 15 April 2015, the Doolittle Raiders were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for "outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States". 

It is the nature of time that they leave us.  One day, all the goblets will be turned down.  The deed will live on as we choose to remember it.

Gentlemen, you have my profound gratitude for your service and your sacrifice.

Let me also recognize the 57 US Army maintenance crew, without whom the planes could not have been properly prepared to succeed.

And lest we forget...the crews of USS Hornet, USS Enterprise, and Task Force 18 cruised into harm's way with the precious tonnage of an American Navy still reeling from the attack on Pearl Harbor just a few short months before.

I also recognize the Chinese citizens who assisted the Raiders, at great personal risk.  I thank those people for their courage and sacrifice.

Sorry, no Dancing

Posted: Tuesday, April 05, 2016 by Travis Cody in

Sorry gang.  Last night was the NCAA Tournament final, so there is no Dancing review this week.  There won't be one next week either, because I'm out of town on business.

I will continue the reviews, because I'm remembering how much fun I used to have.  As long as it doesn't become a chore, I'll keep it up.

But congratulations to Villanova.  They executed an outstanding game plan, endured a furious late comeback by North Carolina plus an outrageous three point shot to tie the game with 4.7 seconds to play, and then won it on a three pointer at the buzzer.

And that was the 20th upset of this terrific tournament.


Cue that theme music...

Posted: Tuesday, March 29, 2016 by Travis Cody in

Live from Hollywood!

Here we are for week 2 gang.  I'll see if I can do a little better than last week.

My encore from last week is the Foxtrot from Paige and Mark.  I chose it because Paige caught me totally by surprise with how well she danced.  Click here if the video doesn't play.

OK ready?  Here we go!

And it's Festival of Tiny Costumes, otherwise known as Latin Night!

We've had our first injury...Mark Ballas hurt his back so we'll see what that means in a bit.

Jody and Keo dance Samba.  She really needs to get out of her head.  Sometimes you just need to learn the steps and then dance it.  It's hard to do, but you just have to put in the work and it'll come to you...especially if you have some natural talent.  She has that, plus she has the performance behind it.  So I think all she needs to do is relax and trust Keo.  I think the pressure really is on Keo, because he hasn't had partners with this kind of ability before on this stage, and he has to understand what she can do and provide her with a framework to succeed.  I think he did that tonight.  The choreography was challenging but not overly difficult.  There was content and she danced it pretty well.  The performance had energy and it seemed like she was relaxed.  Now I would like to see her focus less on perfecting everything all at once and more on finding the little things in the routines that invite us all into the story.  I think that's where she'll begin to shine and make herself unique and different.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.  Solid score.

Marla and Tony dance Argentine Tango.  We find in rehearsal footage that Marla is an organically healthy eater.  Okey dokey then.  She's also kinda sexy with those long LEGSSES.  I'd like to see her dig into the extensions and use those lovely long LEGSSES more effectively.  She talked in rehearsal about drinking her amino acids to avoid cramping up, but then it seemed like she danced like she was afraid of cramping up.  She rarely extended through the movements with tight calf and thigh, and she seemed much too reserved.  I thought she just went through the performance motions instead of really owning it.  I do agree with the judges that there was more sophistication in this choreography and in the phrasing of each movement, but I also feel that Argentine Tango should be a more sensual dance.  This routine didn't feel sensual to me.  I thought it was danced reasonably well, but she could have taken it to another level.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.  That's fair.

Geraldo and Edyta dance Salsa.  This could be disastrous.  I wasn't aware that he is working with a bit of a handicap.  He had back surgery which left him with no feeling in his left foot.  I'm not a fan of the opening, but Edyta has to do something to make the routine work.  There is still very little dancing from Geraldo and virtually no hip action.  Although I must say that toward the end he did start to move a little better.  And it looked as though he was enjoying the performance much more than last week.  Of course the best part of the dance was Edyta in a tiny costume.  You know I loves me some Edyta in a tiny costume.  Still, Geraldo won't fool anyone into thinking he can actually dance.  There was more rhythmic movement and better musicality, but still too much walking through the steps.  Judge say 5,4,4 for a total of 13.  Harsh but I think fair.

Paige is supposed to dance Salsa with Mark, but will dance with Alan from the Troupe instead because of Mark's injury.  He injured that back doing a very basic partner swing through is legs during camera blocking.  I remember Alan from SYTYCD and he's a terrific partner.  Paige is really good gang.  I am so impressed.  She dances with the energy of a pro.  She and Alan look like they've been dancing together for weeks, and it's really just been two hours.  That was an outstanding performance.  I can't even believe what I just saw.  Alan was able to go full throttle and she kept up with every step.  That was fantastic choreography.  Her technique is terrific.  If I have a criticism, it would be her tendency not to really listen to the music and be aware of the beats, because she often gets well ahead of where she should be.  Mark can pull that back without sacrificing her strengths, and if Alan has to keep dancing in Mark's place, he'll learn how to guide her through as well.  Nicely done!  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.  Yup yup yup!  I think she and Mark are an early favorite, and it's good to see that Alan can step in and keep it going if Mark is out for a couple of weeks with the injury.

Antonio and Sharna dance Rumba.  I've heard Rumba called the vertical expression of a horizontal desire.  Now Sharna explains it as inviting someone to invade your personal space.  Works for me!  Rumba is super sensual.  Some celebrities pick it up very well, and some are very awkward and visibly uncomfortable.  I actually like the way he frames Sharna.  He's very smooth and he's clearly enjoying himself.  I'd say he's in the "picks it up very well" category.  That smile is so genuine.  I thought his technique was solid.  I think he mostly kept his shoulders back and his core tucked up, which allowed him to keep good balance and that strong frame, although I did see that his feet tended to slide just a little bit.  For me, that didn't affect the overall feel.  They have excellent chemistry together.  Now all Antonio needs to do is work on performance and connecting one movement to the next.  I enjoyed this dance and I'm looking forward to seeing how he improves each week.  I think he'll be around awhile.  Judges say 6,6,7 for a total of 19.  I think I might agree with that.

Kim and Sasha dance Rumba.  Kim had a bit of a meltdown in rehearsal.  She took some criticism seriously and it hurt her feelings.  Sasha made it all better by connecting with Gloria Estefan.  I think sometimes the pros have as much of an adjustment as the celebrities.  They have to figure out how their celebrity learns best, and possibly change the way they teach more than a little so they develop a bond rather than an adversarial situation.  Anyway, the dancing was pretty good.  I'm not worried about performance.  I think Kim has musicality and she's not afraid of the steps or the stage.  Unfortunately she got her foot in the wrong spot, stepped on Sasha's foot, and messed up the timing toward the end of the routine.  She let the flub pull her out of the performance, so the dance kind of limped to the finish.  I thought it was a pretty strong routine up to that point.  Judges say 7,6,6 for a total of 19.  I want her to stick around for awhile, so I'll be looking for her to have a good rehearsal week and a break through performance next Monday.

Nyle and Peta dance Rumba.  His family came to rehearsal this week.  His entire family is deaf, by the way.  Doesn't matter.  He's just a performer.  I don't think I need to mention anymore that he is totally deaf and has been since birth.  This was a sweet performance.  Again Nyle demonstrates a natural rhythm.  There are two issues I have with the his work this week.  The choreography was a little too fast and a bit jerky for my taste in a Rumba.  I missed the smooth sensuality typical of this style.  And, although I find the constant picking on lifts to be annoying, Rumba shouldn't have any and Sharna's choreography flagrantly broke the rules.  Even with those issues, I still enjoyed the performance.  I think Nyle has a potential that is going to be realized as he and Sharna continue to develop the physical cues that get him through the dances.  He's already far surpassed my expectations and I think he's just going to get better each week.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.

Mischa and Artem dance Cha Cha Cha.  Artem is trying to take the drama out of learning and performing this week, but Mischa doesn't seem to be cooperating.  Here's another gal who just needs to relax and trust her partner.  I actually know people who work really hard to not have any fun or enjoy anything.  Mischa seems like she's working hard at not enjoying this experience.  Maybe it's just because she's a bit shy and still uncomfortable with what she's doing.  She says the music has been different throughout the day, which threw her off.  She thinks she's not having good rehearsals and music is different and yada yada yada.  You know what gang, sometimes life just doesn't go right on the first try.  So you try again, and try again, and then try again.  Nobody is going to make it better for you, so make it better for yourself.  It's a shame that she and Artem just don't seem to be connecting.  They don't have any chemistry.  I'd like to see her calm down, give over to Artem, relax, and just dance.  Artem is a great partner if she'll let him help her.  It's what he's there for.  Judges say 5s across for a total of 15.  The attitude is off putting and isn't going to get her votes.

Von and Witney dance Cha Cha Cha.  Uh-oh.  Von is late to rehearsal and gets fined.  And then it becomes a game in rehearsal.  Everything costs $100.  Looks to me like Von is giving us a nice club performance vibe with this Cha Cha Cha.  There's some classic content, but a lot of it was straight off the club dance floor.  I don't mind all that much, as long as posture and technique are really good.  I can't say those things were really good.  I think I'd say this performance was sort of like playing a pre-season game instead of a Super Bowl.  It was adequate, but my expectations are higher than just adequate.  So choreography and technique were a bit lacking, whereas performance and style and swag got high marks.  I guess I liked the performance, but I think he can do much better if he applies himself to cleaning up technique, expressing the flavor of each dance style, and then using his full size to make a great frame for Witney.  Club is fine, but respect the medium here and give us good competition level effort!  Then we'd have something to talk about, I think.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.

Wanya and Lindsay dance Salsa.  Wanya is on the road in concert with the Boys this week, so rehearsal time is hard to find.  This routine is really good y'all.  The movements are all well connected.  The pair is in constant motion,, which is how a Salsa should be done.  Wanya is so light on his feet, and it felt like he was leading Lindsay through the whole routine.  That was really impressive.  Lots of energy.  Excellent footwork.  Tremendous choreography.  Style and swag.  There was a club feel to it without losing the flavor and presentation of competition Salsa.  I loved how fluid the dance was.  I admit to a bit of surprise at how good Wanya is, because I don't really recall dance being part of Boys II Men.  They are an excellent vocal group, but not really in that old "boy band" category with the hip hop dancing as a large part of the act.  So the fact that he has caught on so well so early is nice to see.  Wanya and Lindsay look to be a strong front runner at this stage, not only because of the dancing but also because he should have a solid voting block.  Judges say 8s across for a total of 24.

Doug and Karina dance Paso Doble.  He actually might be able to do this dance well.  One thing he's got is the attitude.  It's nice to hear the Paso style music.  I think that always helps.  I like the aggression and the stomp in the footwork.  You know, that really worked for me.  He attacked it and controlled it.  He hit all his marks.  The phrasing was really good.  Karina's choreography suited him because it was basic Paso.  She didn't add anything that was too difficult.  The simple choreography allowed Doug to focus on his steps and improve his footwork, and give us a performance.  Yes, he should have led more with his hips and chest.  Yes, he should tuck in his backside.  Yes, he needs to be more fluid as he connects movement to movement.  But this performance was an improvement over last week.  Also I think the chemistry with Karina was improved.  He's going to keep working as long as he's around.  I'm hoping he gets a chance to Waltz.  Everyone should get a chance to Waltz.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.  Very nice.

Ginger and Val dance Samba.  They are looking for the sexy and the flirty this week.  I like this routine.  Samba is the party dance, and this piece had that flavor.  Lots of bounce and energy.  There was a cute intro with a bench and a flower, then a nice story to tie the intro to the dance content to the ending.   It did take just a little long to get to the actual Samba content, but once they got there they sure did pack a bunch of those recognizable Samba steps Len wants to see.  Now apparently she missed a couple of steps, but I actually missed her missing them because she covered so well.  I did enjoy the performance, and I liked that Val made a whole story out of the routine.  I think the light and fluffy choreography allowed Ginger to find herself in the music and to relax so that she could easily cover the little foot faults.  Overall, a very nice job.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.

Here's our leader board after these dances:

24 Paige and Alan subbing for Mark
24 Wanya and Lindsay
21 Jody and Keo
21 Ginger and Val
20 Marla and Tony
20 Nyle and Peta
20 Von and Witney
20 Doug and Karina
19 Antonio and Sharna
19 Kim and Sasha
15 Mischa and Artem
13 Geraldo and Edyta

And now results based on the scores from last week plus votes!

Mischa and Artem are in the bottom.  Geraldo and Edyta are in the bottom.  Doug and Karina are in the bottom.

Everyone else is safe.

Geraldo and Edyta are the first elimination, which should surprise no one.

Tune in next week!

Final Four

Posted: Monday, March 28, 2016 by Travis Cody in

Well gang, after 13 upsets during the round of 64 and 3 more in the round of 32, we had to get to the Regional finals before we saw any more.

And while a 2 seed over a 1 is technically an upset, a case certainly could have been made for Oklahoma to be on the top line.  So the 2 seed Sooners winning the West Region over 1 seed Oregon doesn't really pass the eye test for the word upset.  Oklahoma has arguably the leading candidate for National Player of the Year in senior Buddy Hield.  But OU lost its conference tournament so the committee put them on the 2 line.  Oregon won its conference and was rewarded with a top seed.  Go figure.  And so, 2 beats 1 in the West Region, and the number of upsets goes to 17.

Villanova is another team that lost its conference tournament and dropped from the top line to a 2 seed.  Kansas was named the overall top seed in the field.  So this is technically another upset, but in this case I firmly believe that the 2 seed Wildcats were the better team on Saturday.  Kansas is led by a solid upper class who were after-thoughts to kids who went on to the NBA after just a single season.  Villanova is also led by a group of outstanding seniors who are all about effort and defense.  That defense won them the South Region, as 2 beats 1 again bringing the number of upsets to 18.

So our first match up in the Final Four is 2 Oklahoma vs 2 Villanova.

Sunday's Regional final games feature two more 1 seeds.  All four teams are from the ACC, and we'll have significant upsets if the favored seeds don't advance.

If you're a top seed and have to play a double digit in a Regional final, and if you're going to build a comfortable lead in the second half, then at some point you're going to have to expect the DD to let everything hang out and come after you.  A DD has nothing to lose and everything to gain.  As a top seed, you simply cannot allow the DD to make you panic.  You shouldn't panic.  And yet, 1 seed Virginia did panic in the second half after building a 16 point lead, giving up a 25-4 run to 10 seed Syracuse.  Down 4 with :26.9 left, Virginia forced Syracuse to try and win from the free throw line.  The Orange made 3 of 4 from the line to win the Midwest Region and become the fourth double digit to make the Final Four, and the first 10 seed.  The number of upsets is now 19.

Last chance for the top line comes down to 1 seed North Carolina against 6 seed Notre Dame.  The Irish are my last real rooting interest in this tournament.  ND stayed close in the first half and managed to get a short-lived lead in the second half, but UNC used its size and quickness to overpower the Irish and build a lead.  The Tarheels maintained a comfortable distance, scoring when ND missed and otherwise trading baskets as time wound down.  UNC did what a 1 seed should do...impose its will and close out strong.  North Carolina is simply a very good team having a very good run at the exact right time of the season.  And so the Tarheels are the only 1 seed to survive, winning the East Region rather easily.

Now we have a Final Four with a 1 seed from the ACC, a 2 seed from the Big East, a 2 seed from the Big 12, and a 10 seed from the ACC.

2 seed Villanova plays 2 seed Oklahoma
1 seed North Carolina plays 10 seed Syracuse

I'm indifferent to Villanova and Oklahoma, but I despise both North Carolina and Syracuse.  But you know what is really neat about all four of these teams?  They are all led by outstanding seniors.  And I dig that.

Dancing tonight!

Cheers gang!

Of Lions and Lambs

Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 by Travis Cody in

Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz.
I wonder where
The birdies is.
~Bulwinkle J Moose~

It's said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  I say ppppppffffffffftttttt to that!

It has done nothing but rain since the middle of December and frankly I've had enough.  I can typically get through the wet season, but we've had record wet here in the Pacific Northwest and I just want to be dry for awhile.  We've seen the dang lion.  Let's have some lamb!

I'm fortunate that my life right now is tame enough that I can spare the energy to whine about the weather.  My heart goes out to the families of the victims of the terror attacks in Brussels.


Cue that theme music

Posted: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 by Travis Cody in

OK, let's give this a try.  I'm pretty rusty, but I think I remember how to do it.

Live from Hollywood!

Hehe.  That felt good.

Welcome to Season 22.  We're wearing our fru fru finery.  We've had our cheese and merlot and CAKE.  And I'm ready to tell you all about the Dancing.

Are you ready?

I think I am.  Here we go!

Kim Fields and Sasha Farber dance Cha Cha Cha.  Kim says best case for week one is that she "don't hurt nuthin".  I remember Ms Fields from Facts of Life.  Lady got groove.  Plus she's an actor so she's all about the performance.  She and Sasha have great chemistry together.  The choreography was basic, but there was plenty of content for the first week.  Kim handled what she was given very well.  She has great musicality and timing.  She does need a little more hip action, but she danced with great energy.  She'll have to work on her footwork and relax her shoulders to get her hips moving.  I enjoyed the performance, and that's as much about her dancing as it is about the fact that she's Tootie!  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.

Paige VanZant and Mark Ballas dance Foxtrot.  She's an MMC fighter and it may be impolitic to say it, but it will be interesting to see how she transfers her athletic power into elegance and grace.  Oh, no problem there.  I don't watch fighting so I really had no idea who she was or how she was going to react.  She was outstanding.  She had plenty of elegance and grace, and beyond that she had presentation and confidence.  She's a lady gang.  That shouldn't surprise me, and I apologize that it does.  I shouldn't stereotype her because she fights.  I really enjoyed that performance.  She had musicality and her lines were really nice.  She extended through the movements.  There is so much potential there.  I thought she was very confident, and Mark is going to have a great time teaching her.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.

Doug Flutie and Karina Smirnoff dance Foxtrot.  OK.  Equal impolitic comment...let's see if Doug can translate his athletic power into elegance and grace.  It's a plus that he gets to start with a ballroom style in the first week.  He has very little rhythm and almost no musicality or timing.  But that's OK.  He embraced the opportunity and gave it his all.  He lost his balance a bit through the twirls and that messed with his steps, but other than that he got it all in and made it through the dance.  Dancing certainly isn't natural to him, and some of his movement is awkward.  He smiled throughout the performance and Karina gave him good choreography that he could handle.  Judges say 5s across for a total of 15.  That's OK.  I suspect he'll have a fan base that should get votes and potentially he could improve.

Jodie Sweetin and Keo Motsepe dance Tango.  Her biggest problem may be getting out of her own head and not putting too much pressure on herself to do well.  She does have some dance background, and talk about a built in fan base.  I figure she'll not only be an early favorite because of her dancing, but she'll have the Full House crowd poised to vote.  Oh good for Keo.  He has a partner this season and he can really stretch with his choreography and performance to really make her look good.  That was really strong, just as I suspected it might be.  There definitely are some areas to work on, like posture and head position and control.  They were just a little exuberant, which made the dance seem hectic in spots, although I did like the attitude and attack.  I think these two could settle in quite nicely.  Judges say 7,6,7 for a total of 20.  Hmmmm...I would have expected 7s across for that performance.

Geraldo Rivera and Edyta Sliwinska dance Cha Cha Cha.  This could be awkward.  And it was.  Although he his 72 years old.  And he does have a sense of humor about himself, opening the dance with a reference to Al Capone's vault.  But let's face it, there was no real dancing in that routine.  He just doesn't have any natural rhythm.  He tried and he had fun, which might be the best thing I can say.  There just isn't much else.  It's kind of a rotten thing to do to Edyta on her first season back after taking so much time away from the show, but someone had to get the guy who can't dance a lick.  Fortunately we'll get to see plenty of Edyta during the pro routines with the dance troupe.  And yes, pun was intended because we always get to see plenty of Edyta.  She is Queen of Tiny Costumes!  Judges say 5,4,4 for a total of 13.  Ouch.

Marla Maples and Tony Dovolani dance Quickstep.  Tough dance to begin the competition.  I think Tony just might have himself a pretty good partner for this season.  She has lovely long lines and a very playful presentation.  There was a moment where it looked like Tony was dragging her across the floor, but she managed to hang on and keep her feet under her.  I thought she kept her poise.  Her posture was pretty good.  Did I happen to mention that she has lovely long LEGSSES?  I didn't?  Well she doesss, preciousss, yes she doesss.  I love Tony's choreography and I can tell that he enjoys her.  She was elegant even as she lost frame and timing a couple of times.  Very solid performance.  Judges say 7s across for a total of 21.

Wanya Morris and Lindsay Arnold dance Cha Cha Cha.  Love it.  Boys II Men was actually my introduction to hip hop music.  I like that Lindsay made her choreography around Wanya's personality.  And man did he dance it.  There could have been a little more Cha Cha Cha content and a little less hip hop, but the energy in the room red lined.  There's no question he has musicality and excellent timing.  Plus he's got swag.  I think he brings a lot of what Alphonso brought a couple of season ago.  Wanya will have a huge fan base that should pick up the phone, and he'll deserve those votes.  The man has natural rhythm and takes choreography really well.  It will be interesting to see how he controls that swag and turns it into the elegance and grace needed for the ballroom styles.  I'm thinking he'll do just fine.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  Wow.

Ginger Zee and Val Chmerkovskiy dance Jive.  Now that was fun.  I like that Val recognizes what he can give his partner each week, and he knew that she could handle just a little more difficulty in his choreography.  He won't hold back on degree of difficulty once he recognizes potential.  She managed most of it, but there were just a couple of times when she wasn't confident with her steps.  Other than that, she had so much chemistry with the audience.  We could see how much fun she was having.  She threw herself into the dance and brought the rest of us in with her.  I think one thing she'll get better at is extending through each movement with her legs and her arms.  That's going to come with confidence and I don't think it will take her very long to build that confidence.  I loved that performance.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.  Wow again.

Mischa Barton and Artem Chigyintsev dance Tango.  Sometimes the celebrities think they know what they are getting into, but realize pretty quickly once rehearsals start that it's way more than they expected.  Sometimes they rise to the challenge, and other times they just don't have what it takes.  I think Mischa is one of those who will ultimately thrive if she stays in the competition long enough.  Her performance was very reserved, and I think that comes from lack of confidence.  She's going to have to work on her posture because she's really leaned over.  It was almost like her upper body wasn't connected to her hips and legs.  She was certainly awkward and I don't think she has a natural rhythm or musicality.  I think she has the potential to get there, but she'll have to commit to it and bring more energy to her performance.  And trust Artem.  Judges say 5,5,6 for a total of 16.  Could have been worse.

Nyle DiMarco and Peta Murgatroyd dance Cha Cha Cha.  I had no idea he was deaf.  It doesn't matter.  Perhaps someone can tell me how a person who can't hear anything at all can have natural rhythm, musicality, and timing.  Wow.  I absolutely loved that performance.  Peta's choreography was outstanding, and Nyle followed it the whole way.  He never missed a step.  He was on time throughout.  He does have some things to work on such as footwork and extensions through his arms and hands and fingers.  But I have to say that even for a celebrity who can hear, that was an outstanding performance.  He danced with energy and so much personality.  He and Peta have a wonderful chemistry together.  Judges say 8,7,8 for a total of 23.

Antonio Brown and Sharna Burgess dance Quickstep.  Oh you just know Antonio wanted a Latin dance to start.  But he'll have to demonstrate elegance, grace, and control right off the line.  I liked his musicality and his energy.  You could tell he was having a great time with the dance.  I thought he did a fine job on some of the quick footwork, although for the most part I didn't think he danced as cleanly as he should.  He has the same issue that so many football players have...keeping his upper body from leaning forward and controlling a tendency to be a little hectic.  Football is about attack, but dance is about knowing when to pull back and find the moments between the phrases.  Quickstep isn't an easy dance to start with, but he did a credible job.  I love his personality.  Judges say 8,6,7 for a total of 21.  The 8 is too high, so the 6 balances that out.

Von Miller and Witney Carson dance Foxtrot.  Congrats to Witney on her recent marriage!  Now with Von, I think starting with a ballroom style actually was good for him.  I actually expected him to be light on his feet.  He's a big man, but as linebacker he has great footwork.  I though he did a good job keeping his shoulders back and down, which couldn't have been easy because Witney is so small compared to him.  A natural tendency would have been to lean down toward her.  So that's an early point in his favor if he doesn't have to break a habit to lean.  I thought he had a wonderful ease in his movement.  I think he has tremendous presence, and it was great to see him show control throughout the dance.  I'm very happy with this performance.  Judges say 8,6,7 for a total of 21.  The 8 was high again, but again the 6 balanced it out.

Here's our leader board after opening night:

23 Ginger and Val
23 Wanya and Lindsay
23 Nyle and Peta
21 Paige and Mark
21 Marla and Tony
21 Antonio and Sharna
21 Von and Witney
20 Jodie and Keo
20 Kim and Sasha
16 Mischa and Artem
15 Doug and Karina
13 Geraldo and Edyta

I dig this cast gang.  There's a lot of personality, a lot of energy, and a lot of potential.

Hey, that was kind of fun.  Reading back through for my edits, I can definitely tell I'm rusty.  I'll have to work it out and get back into review and recap shape.

Tune in next week for a Latin night and our first elimination.