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  #551  
Old 06-27-2019, 09:38 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
I understand that the show needs to find new milestones as the old ones fall, but I can't help but feel a thinly-veiled phasing out of childless lady jocks who don't do their maternal duty.
This seem like a weird conspiracy theory. Did they give one whit less attention to Jessie Graff or Barclay Stockett than you think they deserved? I think that on the big banners hanging around the set this episode, right next to Kid Ohwadi, were Jessie Graff and Meagan Martin and Jesse "Flex" LaBreck.

I feel like you have this weird subconscious belief that ANW is an arm of the deep state of cultural conformity or something.
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  #552  
Old 06-28-2019, 02:39 AM
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Eh, just a gut feeling. I didn't sense any hostility or anything, but I'm getting the sense that the bloom is off the rose. Yeah, the producers will put up posters of Graff and Martin based on past successes, but not with any great amount of enthusiasm. Mostly I get the impression that they've really been forced into tiny box with these Acceptable Stories, and all the interesting stories about the top ladies are stuff they just can't talk about. (Did you notice that the subject of race has never come up with Martin, not even once? How does that happen in America?) Motherhood is a great angle because they get to play up new generation of ninjas and biggest fans and all that fluff; if she's actually good on top of that, she's going to be an instant star. Who knows, maybe Sandy Zimmerman is going to spark a revolution, maybe she'll be a one-hit wonder. We'll see more of the story in six weeks.
  #553  
Old 06-28-2019, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
Eh, just a gut feeling. I didn't sense any hostility or anything, but I'm getting the sense that the bloom is off the rose. Yeah, the producers will put up posters of Graff and Martin based on past successes, but not with any great amount of enthusiasm. Mostly I get the impression that they've really been forced into tiny box with these Acceptable Stories, and all the interesting stories about the top ladies are stuff they just can't talk about. (Did you notice that the subject of race has never come up with Martin, not even once? How does that happen in America?) Motherhood is a great angle because they get to play up new generation of ninjas and biggest fans and all that fluff; if she's actually good on top of that, she's going to be an instant star. Who knows, maybe Sandy Zimmerman is going to spark a revolution, maybe she'll be a one-hit wonder. We'll see more of the story in six weeks.
I mean, yes, I certainly agree they're always looking for new angles and new stars. Daniel Gil is clearly better than "Kid" Ohwadi, but Kid is new, and we've heard all about Daniel Gil, so... and if that reflects to some mom getting more coverage than an established star, well, it's just because of newness, nothing more than that. But if a babyless jock woman athlete shows up next year who has a super awesome hook story (and is also physically attractive and also good at ninjaing) they're certainly not going to refuse to jump all over her story just because she doesn't have a baby.
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Old 07-04-2019, 02:30 AM
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As this season develops and details continue to unfold, I'm seeing a real...evolution, for lack of a better word. I'm reminded of a similar situation after CBS' ruinous decision to focus on "stories" for the Winter Olympics because that's supposedly what women wanted, which, you'll recall, resulted quite possibly the most utterly unwatchable sports programing in history. The reaction was virulent, cooler heads prevailed, and storymania is a thing of the past. Now it looks like NBC is finally getting the hint as well.

Will this trend continue? What implications does it have for siffies? Only one way to find out...another round of highlights!

0:00 Is "shoelessness" Jamie Rahn thing's now? Like, how "going inverted" was for Kevin Bull? Ye gods, fate worse than death. I'm reminded of the "Bechdel Test" and what a goddam disgrace it is that that's the only thing the overwhelming majority of America knows Alison Bechdel did.

0:03 An acapella group serenades the first competitor, Daniel Eiskant. Okay, they're pretty good as singers go, but I can't help but feel a bit miffed that anything past 0.5 or so on the rock hardness scale is forbidden on this show. I saw a rousing rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar on primetime TV not too long ago and the world didn't come to an end.

0:07 Alex Goodwin is an animal lover, and because of that Bodge is going to have to wear a snake around his neck for the entire run. Because clumsy rehashes of cheesy 80's WWF gimmicks are just what this show needs. (Oh, and reminding us of Eric Middleton, thanks for that as well! ) Screw it, if I get a chance to make the announcers do some revolting crap, I'm going for "10 lashes for each obstacle cleared". That way not only do I get to work off some frustration for all the moronic drivel they've subjected me to over the seasons, I forcefully drive the point home that accepting hideous dares/stipulations/concessions is an utterly brain-dead idea and maybe convince them to stop freaking doing them.

0:13 Our first shot of the Baltimore Orioles mascot, The Oriole Bird. No, really, that's what it's called. I'm thinking I may have been a wee bit too harsh on the competitors' nicknames. Much like that moose last week, it's a ubiquitous fixture for tonight. Lessee, which are the big Baltimore teams...the Orioles, the Ravens, and the Terrapins. That's it. See previous notes on city choices.

0:15 Nobody should ever suffer a torn ACL for a sport that pays jack squat. Just sayin'.

0:24 Damn, those have to the the frumpiest cheerleaders I've ever seen. Not to mention the quietest.

Profile of Brandon Stenta, who...oh, for the love of Byakuren. He got a girl pregnant in high school, they broke up after high school, and now he's raising his son alone. This is one of those stories where it's a lead pipe cinch that NBC will never tell you more than 0.001% of what actually happened and die to the last man before allowing the truth to come out. I mean, think of the possible angles here! The importance of contraception! What being a father truly means! Realizing there's a life beyond high school and preparing for it! Being the bigger man in the face of adversity and not throwing everyone under the bus! But of course all that is waaaaay too contentious, so we're only going to get awww-isn't-the-little-boy-cute and single-dads-are-so-inspirational. And of course he clears the course handily, which means we can look forward to getting this EXACT SAME STORY WORD FOR FREAKING WORD six weeks from now.

0:35 Yooh nuh, ith yuh guhinn ta thick yuh tug oud lige yuh da negs Mithelle Wunky uh sum crab, yuh willy thud nod wath oud od thuh flibbin' thedd obthagul. Yooh thuck!

0:36 Sheesh, I sure hope he responds to fires a helluva lot faster than he's responding on the course. Mike Bernardo really was a fluke, wasn't he?

0:39 Profile of Abby Clark. Ever notice that you never see a cat person in one of these? Nobody gives cats any love.

0:46 Whoa, is this really just our second full waiweewuwwawei of the night? They're definitely struggling a bit in birdland. All right...well, geez. There was a time when this kind of schlock would've gotten five minutes. Now they're given the blink-and-you-missed-it blowoffs they deserve. Good times, folks. Good times.

0:48 On deck is Conor Galvin...goddammit. His 93-year-old grandfather is in attendance. His World War 2 veteran 93-year-old grandfather. Which means that the camera's going to be on him 75% of the time, we're going to learn something allegedly interesting about him...ooh, dancing, that's always a sure winner! ...and of course, of Galvin himself, we are not going to learn one solitary goddam thing. AT ALL. EVER. I can't even begin to describe how much it completely, colossally, royally SUCKS to have your entire identity completely revolve around someone else. I remember that face...brrrrr, shudder...and how it absolutely sucked all the air out of the room with a nuclear-powered vacuum cleaner and almost singlehandedly wrecked the career of...who was it again... [checks earlier posts] JESSE LABRECK? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? SHE OVERCAME THAT??

(Post is #169 if for some inexplicable reason you feel like revisitng that moment of lunacy.)

0:57 Oh, look, it's the weekly "Our established stars are getting destroyed!" pity party. First up is Carl Fantauzzo, who has been in this a bunch of times! That apparently is supposed to be absolute insurace against no-resulting! Then Casey Rothschild, who is apparently one of the women we're supposed to give a rip about, except when she's caving on the third obstacle! Then...

...Jon Alexis Jr.??? The hero of Ninja vs. Ninja? Who'd improved so much and gained so much confidence? Reduced a footnote in season 11?? And yes, that's exactly what happens, going out in exactly the same spot as Rothschild. There's absolutely no chance of him advancing with such a poor result. Damn. I know there's no sympathy for has-beens in sport, but no event drives that point home with more skull-crushing force than ANW.

0:58 All right, enough posers; time for the MAN to get to work. I am talking, of course, about Joe Moravsky. He's had some of the most spectacular moments in the history of this event, none greater than going 6-0 in Team Ninja Warrior, which was sparked by winning an unbelievable four heats in one day, but he's lacked in one crucial statistic...money. And you can bet that he's more than a little miffed that Drew Dreschel has pulled in $110,000 more. This run is all about one thing, the Mega Wall.

Eyes mentions that Moravsky has hit six straight quallies buzzers, as if that matters. (Oh Miko, he's going to act like that matters, isn't he?) Of course, the reason it doesn't matter, which I hashed out a very long time ago, is that quallies have gotten so difficult that there will never again be a situation where more than thirty competitors make it past the fifth obstacle. Furthermore, given that the finish now has a Speed Pass and cold hard cash potentially on the line, there isn't any real incentive to ease up on #5; if anything, the producers want it to be a major roadblock.

On #3. Bodge says that Moravsky's never fallen on a quallie and is incredibly consistent. You can tell that he doesn't care about speed, sizing up every task and making sure of it. #4, little interesting, but it goes down. #5, and he's calmly grinding away. Final transition...big drop...no problem. On to the money run! First attempt...well short. Eyes reminds us that he can't switch to the more reasonable wall, as if he'd even want that. Second attempt...something goes wrong and he aborts the attempt! Not looking good. Eyes bleats about the stupid meaningless buzzers again. Third attempt. Reaches...reaches again...way off.

And of course, Bodge wails that "The Streak" is over, and I don't remember anyone, anywhere, making any kind of a deal about "The Streak", probably because he completely made it up. Good lord, as forced narratives go, this dwarfs the beard bet. I mean, at least there was a molehill there! God damn. Eyes tries to console himself by saying that "Moravsky is all but guaranteed to make City Finals." Hey, you need to remove only two words from that sentence to make it correct!

1:07 I am stunned that this wasn't a thinly-veiled cell phone commercial. Stunned, I tell you.

1:08 Ooh, father and son running the same course, now there an Acceptable Story we haven't seen in a while! Sadly, Brandon Singletary fails to do his dad, or anyone else, for that matter, proud, falling to defeat on #3. Having two upper-bodiers in a row is making hash of this field.

1:11 Next up is former WNBA superstar Tamika Catchings. Predictably, she has a forgettable run, but credit to NBC for acknolwedging that the WNBA matters. Whatever your opinion of no dunking or slow pace or a high school team could blah blah blah blah, any league that's found a following and survived for over two decades is legit and worthy of respect.

1:20 Garrett Lam has impressive academic credentials, but who cares because we're going to make caring for his special-needs brother 100% of his identity! Hahh...this is one of those quallies, isn't it?

1:30 Hey, what's Jamie Rahn been up to lately? An afternoon with a boatful of fans? Dang, that sounds really cool; I'd definitely like to see more of that. Y'know, provided it wasn't just tiresome chants and boring discussions about losing his shoe that one time, which I get the sinking feeling it was. Now let's...aw, geez. Going barefoot on a stone floor at night sounds like a totes brilliant idea. He looked strong out there, and I would've liked for him to take a shot at Mega Wall, but he has a The Streak of his own (seven) and I guess he didn't want to risk letting his fans down. Sheesh. Someday someone is going to seriously regret preserving these meaningless milestones, you heard it here first.

1:31 Alyssa Beird puts up a highly respectable effort; can't quite figure out #5 but still has easily the best women's run of the night. The only other thing of note was Michelle Warnky and Jesse "Clubhouse" Labreck jumping the wall in the middle of the run, and it's a testament to how respected they are as competitors that security did not immediately jump on them and beat them to a pulp. I was actually a tiny bit afraid that something like that would happen.

1:40 I got chills hearing Chris Wilczewski scream going up last year's Mega Wall. Perfectly encapsulates just how hard he's willing to fight for recognition. No such luck this year, unfortunately. With most of the top competitors coming up short, it looks like we could be headed for our first cashless episode of the season.

1:42 Dave Cavanagh has the best quallie of his life and easily finishes with the top time. With only one competitor left, this guarantees him a spot on the Power Tower. All right, now that he's finally has a real accomplishment, can we please come up with a less utterly, revoltingly pathetic nickname than "King Of The Walk Ons"?? Pretty please? Seriously, that is worse than "Sparkly Ninja", it is that bad. I don't know how many more snarky substitute nicknames I have in me.

1:51 And here comes the star of the show, Najee "Albatross" Richardson. He minced no words about what he's after tonight: ten thousand clams. Much like Moravsky, he plays conservatively and saves his strength for what really matters. He's there. First attempt...whiff. Second attempt...a few inches short. Third attempt...short again. There will be no Mega Wall finsiher tonight. That's...unexpected. I don't like that nobody's made any money, of course, but in a sense it's best to get this over with now. Much like Moravsky and his The Streak.

1:56 Power Tower! Tonight's matchup is Conor Galvin versus Dave Cavanagh, and if you told me that none of the big names would come even close...well, it's happened before, so I guess nothing special. It's even until the horizontal balance bar, where Galvin loses his footing, followed quickly by his confidence. Cavanagh has no trouble with his balance and is soon pulling away. Eyes' last-ditch horse race narrative does jack squat to slow him down, and he has a decisive win. I bet Eyes is so impressed that next season he'll be calling him the Emperor of Walk Ons!

1:58 Somewhere there is a fan with a t-shirt design of a teary-eyed pig learning that he just got eliminated from quallies because he could've taken Warped Wall but got greedy, tried Mega Wall, and failed, and below it is the message "PIGS GET SLAUGHTERED", and he's just seen yet another week where every single person who failed Mega Wall made it to siffies, and he's starting to get the first nagging little doubts as to whether his absolutely brilliant idea is ever even going to get off the ground.

Okay, maybe not, but this show has given us stranger things.
  #555  
Old 07-10-2019, 03:20 AM
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Bunch of stuff tonight. Some of it less than predictable. I think this calls for one last round of highlights. Doesn’t seem like anyone else is posting at the moment. Fun times. Let’s go.

Sooo, what real sports tieinitutde can we expect from Cincinnati? Lessee, they have the Bengals, quite possibly the most infamous doormat in the history of American pro football, and that’s before you get to the nasty stuff (here, just watch), and the Reds, who are currently dead last in the NL Central. Sheesh. Should’ve just went to Boston. Yes, the YouTubers are going to grumble about “bandwagoning”. YouTubers grumble about everything! Deal with it!

0:03 James Wilson comes out accompanied by Andy Dalton, a quarterback who I assure you is not in the same galaxy as Tom Brady. I’m reminded of how Got Milk went with Trent Dilfer for their post Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl ad despite the fact that he had maybe the 25th biggest impact on his team’s victory. I’m seeing the same thing here, a team where the real stars are all so...problematic that there’s really no choice but to latch onto the QB. He’s a hometown hero, which is of course the freaking kiss of death in ANW.

Oh, look! Wife!

On to the actual run, where Eyes laments that he’s never hit a buzzer. That doesn’t strike me as particularly noteworthy, particularly when he makes mistakes like he did on Wing Nuts, allowing his foot to hit the second nut. He’s unable to deal with a moving target and splashes.

0:06 Johnnie Pietila. Oh, look, overpopulation and reducing family to numbers, that’s totally a positive thing! He promises that if he completes the course, he’ll hit the buzzer 119 times. He’s not quite that good, of course, but when it eventually happens, I want NBC to show all 119 presses in real time. Just because you freaking can. I mean, good gravy, you’ve wasted so much of my life with insect eating and boneheaded skits, give me the kind of novelty that’s only pointless, dammit!

0:13 Amanda O’Dell in her own words: “When people typically think of a lunchlady, they think of a much older woman with like a mole somewhere on her face and a big poofy curly hairdo and serving disgusting food.” Damn...offensive stereotypes have gotten complicated since I was in grade school. I remember a time when “slanty-eyed” or “hooknosed” was plenty sufficient.

0:24 Mike Bernardo, who has a Very Acceptable Story for us all: Last September he suffered a serious neck injury on the job and it looked like he’d never compete again. Which, of course, the show plays up as this big tragedy; they even got music, for crying out loud. Huh...facts, folks. 1. This is his 10th season. 2. He was never that great. 3. The one thing he could have conceivably made a name for himself on, Super Salmon Ladder, has been resoundingly lunch-eaten by Sean “Church” Bryan so hard that Amanda O’Dell came in to serve him seconds. Well, we all know what’s going to happen here: He proceeds at a much slower pace than at his peak but still manages to avoid mistakes and go up the Wimpy Non-Mega Wall and Eyes and Bodge trump it up as this wonderful inspirational tale and He Is Now Baaaaaaaaablah blah blah freaking blah. I do give him credit for always screaming around the camera, however. That level of consideration is all too rare among our contenders, even the long-timers.

0:37 Cameron Nave, who recently lost his dad. And is the “Kilted Ninja”. And that’s as much time as anyone needs to waste here. (Jeeziz, two sob stories in a row? Did someone at NBC suddenly realize they were under quota or something?)

0:47 Tyler Yamauchi, who if nothing else is one of the biggest overachievers this contest has had. No one’s immune to missteps, unfortunately, and his comes on Spinning Bridge, where two misplaced feet spell doom. He says afterward “I didn’t take enough speed to the platform.” To know right away how you messed up? That’s painful.

0:49 And in the spirit of two-allegedly-quirky-things profiles, Jackson Twait gives a two-fer: He’s a cat person and...rides a scooter. Boy, the glurge is feast or famine tonight, isn’t it? And then he breaks out the frickin’ cat puns and I’m on the express train to Nopeville. Hit the buzzer mundane time happy happy whatever.

0:58 Oh, now wasting ridiculous amounts of time with godawful dancing is a bad thing.

1:00 Michelle Warnky is here! Experience: 2nd woman to conquer Warped Wall! I mean, for crying out loud, that’s the best you could come up with?? You sure you don’t want to touch her team event records? I know there’s no beef with USA, dammit! All right, Warnky...oh my. That’s a nasty cut she got on Ring Toss. But she’s a fighter, so...yeesh, I do not like it when someone bleeds that much and smiles. Really uncomfortable. Warnky does hit the buzzer, which is fine, but this is one of those times I’m definitely glad to move on to something else.

1:11 At the start of the show Brandon Mears and Dan Polizzi boasted that “The Towers of Power are going to the Power Tower!” Now they’re up and...oh my, cutesy predictions really do not have a good track record, do they? Both out on Slingshot. See you in oh you get the picture.

And now...oh you gotta be...it’s Ethan Swanson. Who comes out in a freaking burning swan T-shirt. He made a vanity logo to show just how swanny swan swan he is. But that’s not the worst of it...no, that’d be the utterly asinine arm flapping done by him and his many fans all freaking night. Look, I’ll say it again: The one sport that’s an appropriate nickname for is figure skating. Got that? Figure. Skating.

Haaaaah...well, you all know what’s coming. He has a bunch of videos where he does stunts, most of them falling considerable heights (and in fact that’s what he was famous for before swanawanawanawanawanawanawanadingdong), so Imma call him “Lemming”.

And of course he completes the course with the top time, which makes it all the more of a shame that he was so fixated on the top time that he never even considered Mega Wall. Seriously, is Daniel Gil the only one here with any backbone? Man, you really are a lemming. Which is, appropriately enough, your nickname, lemming.

1:22 Um...ahhhhhh... You...I mean... You do know that wrestling isn’t real...right?

(Again, why the hell do Cincinnati Bengals cheerleaders get excited about anything?)

Drew Lachey is a former pop star who does exactly as well as you’d expect a former pop star to, taking a dive on Ring Toss.

1:25 The walk-on lottery. Nope, glorifying getting lucky hasn’t gotten any less nauseating. (Heh. More like the nine minutes ninja, am I right? )

1:32 It’s still weird seeing something as simple as Jump Hang and remembering that this used to be a Ninja Killer. Seriously, there was one Sasuke where it took out like two-thirds of the field.

1:33 Now it’s time for Jessie Graff’s big rival for Queen of the Amazons (like how I snuck a Wonder Woman reference in there? ), Jesse “Clubhouse” Labreck. All right, we already know about how she cared for a special-needs patient and got involved with Chris Digangi, but the real story is how she came off a phenomenal and completely unexpected triumph at Ninja vs. Ninja. The preview has to show her taking out Ian Dory. I mean, that’s a no-brainer. So...

...it’s all about getting engaged to Digangi.

That’s it. Start to finish.

Haaaaaaahhhh. Ooh, made it out of quallies the past two seasons, that’s certainly a titanic world-shattering achievement! Finishes, top ladies’ time, meh.

1:43 Still no Mega Wall, with Michael Torres being the latest...OH, CRAM IT UP YOUR PIEHOLE, EYES!

1:44 Okay, you know what...I’m a Pump It Up player. Recently got serious about it again. And I don’t consider what I do on it dancing. Yeah, I know it’s a “dancing game”, but I’m not dancing. It’s fun, something of an achievement, definitely a workout (especially at level 6), but not dancing. But I will say that it’s a helluva lot closer to dancing than whatever the freak Grant McCartney insists on wasting ten minutes before and after every goddam run doing.

Let’s just skip to the only thing worth a damn about this run, or McCartney, for that matter, the Mega Wall. He looked for a little while that he wasn’t going to attempt it, but he, ahem, changed his mind. Yeah, definite . First attempt...oooooh, barely got a hand up but couldn’t pull himself over! He could be regretting his decision...

...but he doesn’t, as the second time he makes it easily!

So once again a marginal second-tierer who never accomplished much in his ANW career is a quallie's sole breadwinner. He has some choice postrun comments, as follows: “Friggeea jaaaaaawwwwwb! Dash rawwwb! Wajja gesh ruggaw desh rai! Wajja goona gawa dab rai!” Word.

1:54 All right, we’re just about ready for the final Power Tower duel of the season, Ethan “Lemming” Swanson against Jackson Twait. This one looks like it has the potential to be a...

Oh, of all the...“DO NOT ATTEMPT??” Really? You thought that was a thing that needed saying? His thing is arm flapping! Arm flapping! That goes on freaking forever! Seriously, this has the potential to become more insufferable than the tomahawk chop! Does that sound like someone anyone with a tenth of a brain wants to emulate in the first place? Well, does it??

Haah.

And now, a fricking chant duel, and I now officially cannot take another microsecond of quallies. Swanson falls behind early but pulls ahead on the upper-body section and wins, not that close. Woo hoo. And he caps off the night with a Leap of Faith. (I’m a bit surprised I still know what that is despite not giving a rip about Assassin’s Creed for quite some time, much less playing any of it.) My, that was very...lemming-like of him!

Well, so far this new-look ANW has been...revelatory, if nothing else. Quallies was definitely more interesting and less soul-numbing than recent seasons, but there weren’t any really thrilling moments. Mostly the higher number of 3WAs, along with the complete neutering of the results, gave me the impression that we weren’t supposed to get really emotionally invested at this early stage. Right now I am very intrigued as to just how siffies are going to play out. With old names on the decline and Acceptable Stories no longer the main focus, there’s the potential for genuine intrigue, if not star breakouts. As long as it’s more fun than quallies, I’m a happy man!
  #556  
Old 07-10-2019, 09:25 AM
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In case anyone was curious, I have copy/pasted this from reddit (no reason not to think it's accurate):

Quote:
Notable Ninjas that didn't compete This Season:

- Josh Levin: Training for 2020 Olympics

- Nicholas Coolridge: Didn't Get the Call & Taking a Break

- Thomas Stillings: Didn't Get the Call

- Drew Knapp: Didn't Get the Call

- James McGrath: Was Suppose to compete in Baltimore, but his shoulder got injured at the Last Minute

- JJ Woods: Got Injured, Was Suppose to compete in Atlanta or Cincinnati

- Rachael Goldstein: Pregnant, Was Suppose to compete in Baltimore

- Brain Arnold: Taking a Break
Also note that Ian Dory competed in Cincy, but was DQ'd for grabbing a rope on the spinning bridge.



So... what do people think of the new format for city qualifiers, with the mega wall and power tower? I like them both individually, and I think it's WAY more interesting than in past years, but I don't think the way they interact is particularly good... when a bunch of the top ninjas end up trying the mega wall and failing, we don't end up with the top two ninjas duelling on the tower, which is a shame.
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  #557  
Old 07-13-2019, 11:12 PM
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I look at it this way: Only one man gets the Speed Pass, but there's no limit to how many can go for the money. Since everyone who fails Mega Wall still qualifies for siffies (ahem), that means the only real drawback is not having a chance at the Speed Pass...not a guarantee, a just a chance...and that's IF he's potentially fast enough to be in the top two for that week. After quallies, only one man gets the $100,000 grand prize, and that means reaching to stage 3 and at the very least not stinking up the joint on it. Bottom line, a Faaaaast Tiiiiime doesn't materially help anyone's financial prospects in the slightest; all it's really good for are bragging rights and largely meaningless streaks.

I say if you have any shot, do Mega Wall. Hell, do it just to say you did it. Now if you're clearly not up to it, yeah, find, do Warped Wall and save some energy. But only then.

I'm not really concerned about "interacting". If NBC wanted to make it "fair", they could take the Walls out of the equation completely and give the Power Tower to the fast two through 5 obstacles. While it might make for a more exciting battle, they'd take serious heat for that, especially since daah waw is supposed to mean something now. Bottom line, it's an all-out battle between two strong athletes, and that's always fun to watch (you have have deduced that from my elaborate team event recaps), so I'm not concerned about whose names are on the marquee.
  #558  
Old 07-16-2019, 11:20 PM
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Siffies! Or as NBC calls them, City Not-Qualifying-Not-Finals-Finals To Qualify For The Real Finals In That Other Big Glitzy City! Should’ve just gone with Stage Zero! Simply and catchy in a cheesy video game sort of way! Should go nicely with the actual ANW video game! The big change this year (other than the Power Tower, of course) is that only the top twelve make it through to Stage 1, as opposed to fifteen from previous seasons. The bar has been raised, and we could be seeing plenty of very good efforts which would have made it in the past come up just short.

Very little in the way of stories this year. Huh. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that NBC has seen the light and is easing off on the fluff (which propelled this back to “Best Reality TV Show Bar None” status ), but this seems kinda...sudden. I don’t seem to recall a massive groundswell of complaints or news about a major new direction. Anyone have any insight as to why this very welcome change of direction happened? Just curious.

Well, I was looking forward to going through the profiles and snarking on them one by one like I did I in the past (fun!), but since there hardly were any, I’d think I’d better stick with the good ‘ol highlight reel.

0:00 One thing that really sticks out about the new-look ANW is how aggressively in-your-face the production is about spelling out things. Like, there wasn’t ever any confusion about “bee daah waww”, right? You have the competitor right there in front of Warped Wall sizing it up, it’s an easy concept to understand, right? And yet...in the 11th season, mind you...they apparently now need multiple giant video screens with “BEAT THAT WALL!” emblazoned on them. Something similar happens here with “CITY FINALS” literally plastered across the entire width of the screen. No, it’s not “semifinals” “cityfinish” or “sillyfiddles”! You will refer to this stage of the competition by its proper terminology, dammit!! This comes across as heavy-handed, obviously, but in a sense it’s simply the next step in the evolution of the event...bringing in the casuals. This event doesn’t have a tremendous amount of mainstream recognition, and if codification helps build an audience, well, more power.

0:01 “SAFETY PASS” and “$1,000,000” get the same treatment. “$100,000” doesn’t appear all night, which I think is a real insult to Drew Dreschel. He worked his butt off to get to Ultimate Cliffhanger slightly faster than Sean Bryan, dammit!

0:03 One of the weird things about this show is that, due to the extremely condensed nature of the presentation, combined with certain, ahem, editorial decisions, you’re watching essentially a completely different cast every week. Good for diversity...well, kinda...but it makes it tough to get invested in these athletes or their stories. Case in point, Brian Burk, who is apparently this big feel-good story, and I couldn’t tell you why with a gun to my head. Seriously, I have no recollection of who this guy is. None. At all. Anyway, he has the typical feely-goody overachiever opening run, clearing eight obstacles in way more time than anyone who has any aspirations for Stage 1 should be comfortable with, which should be just about enough to earn him a 10-second waiweewuwwawei spot in Vegas. Also, of all the lazy, trite, unimaginative, zero-effort ANW nicknames I’ve heard, “Burkinator” is easily in the bottom 10.

0:11 Okay, time for our obligatory real-sport boost...the CHARGERS?? Really, NBC?? In a city with the Lakers, Rams, Kings, and Dodgers, not to mention UCLA and USC (You did a team competition with them, remember)? Hell, the Clippers are getting hot and could be poised for a breakout next season, and you went for the freaking San Diego transplant with zippo fan support. Ye gods.

That was the second biggest misstep you made here. The first, of course, was allowing the cheerleaders to wear all-black long-sleeved shirts and pants. I mean...good Yukari, I don’t even know where to begin with this. Never mind that it’s freaking SUMMER in freaking LOS ANGELES...ladies...you are goddam cheerleaders. Your job is to look pretty and act perky. That is why you were brought here. That is your role. That is your obligation. So if the camera is going to cut away from every goddam run five times to show us eye candy, I expect to freaking see eye candy. If you want to wear frumpy, dumpy rags while inanely waving around bits of tinfoil and doing numbnut chants, you are perfectly at liberty to do so off-camera. Okay? Okay.

0:13 Verdale Benson...aw, geez, here it comes. HOO RAH! HOO RAH!...and that’s it? “I’m a serviceman, go me,” and that’s it? I’m liking this new direction! So the run begins and...oh man. In prelims they have infinite time, and by gum they are going to use it! That’s why siffies always has had the worst pacing of all the stages of ANW, and even more now that we have a lot more strong contestants who can go far. He does somehow manages to nail eight, but with the cutdown that definitely puts him on the edge.

0:24 Anna Shumaker. Don’t remember anything about her. No profile. Fails on Warped Wall. Didn’t think that still happened. Still should be enough to make it through. Next.

0:33 Kevin Bull, who’s made it to Stage 1 every year he’s competed. Not sure who’s compiling all these stats for a sport that pays nearly everyone jack squat and has zero applicability to any other sport, but thanks for giving these athletes a purpose. Bull, you’ll remember, juuuuuuust missed out on a shot at the Power Tower six weeks ago and is no doubt feeling tons of seething resentment right now, same-calm-focused-expression-he-always-has notwithstanding. He sets a blazing pace through eight (by far the fastest of the night) but can’t quite keep his grip on the tricky Leap of Faith and splashes. Bulls can fly, but they sure can’t swim! Or something. Moving on.

0:37 Profile of Jonah Bonner. He’s a gondolier who works the harbors of Southern California, which is apparently this really weird thing, which just goes to show you just how far downward NBC has to scrape for allegedly “weird” stories in siffies. Gondoliering is pretty strenuous work, so it’s a great way of getting in shape for ANW. Hey, that’s actually good to know! Thanks! And then he has to fricking sing...and...oh my goodness, I don’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s actually kinda passable! A lot more tolerable than much of the really bad crap on American Idol and America’s Got Talent, that’s for sure. That’s it, I’m tepidly rooting for him!

Actual run is something of a bummer, as he’s barely able to get past Salmon Ladder before going straight in. With the kind of talent on display tonight, seven is definitely not going to cut it.

0:47 Brian Kretsch. Eyes informs us that he is just one of four competitors who have competed on all 11 seasons. Yo, relevant stats. Winnings: $0. All-star medals: 0. Team event championships: 0. USA vs. The World wins: 0. Yeah, definitely a life well spent. Gotta wonder, though, if there really is going to be a hard-fought race between the four to see which one will last the longest and what the reaction from the fans is going to be.

All right, profile...sick dad. Whatever. On to the course. He’s lost a step, but his fundamentals are sound...and how about that, he’s the first person to clear Leap of Faith. Spider Trap is no problem after that, of course, and he’s the first finisher of the night at 5:42.71. Leap of Faith looks really tricky for some reason; it’s looking like it’s going to be a race to eight for most of the field.

0:59 Ooh, nice bucket list, Corey McCoy! Now all you need is “take off shirt for no reason” and “scream gibberish directly into the camera” and you’ve got page 4 nailed, bro!

1:00 Profile of Danell Leyva. Huh. How big is men’s gymnastics in this country? I don’t recall ever hearing much when there’s not an actual Olympiad going on at the time. Also stymied on Leap of Faith.

1:09 More stuff with the Chargers. It’s just so bizarre to even think about.

1:11 On to the last woman of the night, Tiana “Tweb” Webberley. Definitely one of the stronger, though not elite, women (after Graff, Clubhouse, Martin, and Warnky they start running together), and she’s in a prime position to lock down another trip to Vegas. Since the top two women are guaranteed spots...wait a minute...hey, did anyone else besides Shumaker make it past Diamond Dash? Anyone? Sheesh, this is like hoping Brooks Koepka makes the cut or the Milwaukee Bucks finish above 500.

Oh, I’m looking at her now, and wouldn’t you know it, her “actual” nickname is still ridiculous and she still looks like something from Mortal Kombat! (Hey, don't take my word for it!)

The profile is about the time lost to injury from a stunt accident. Oh, geez...how do I put this...look...it’s great that she recovered, it really is. But I am so, so tired of the angle ALWAYS being you’re-never-down-and-you-can-achieve-anything-you-put-your-mind-to. Just once I’d like to hear about the dedicated medical professionals who helped her when she was hurt and freaking allowed her to recover in the first place. It’s always “God” this and “human spirit” that; why doesn’t anyone give a huge shout out to the people who actually deserve the credit?? For that matter, why doesn’t anyone praise the advance of technology and medical knowledge? Just once, dammit.

Anyway, she gets up the wall no problem, which guarantees her the top women’s spot of the night, and it’d truly rock her if she just stepped off at this point and said that she did enough. Seriously, just call it a night and don’t waste any more energy. What are they going to do, pull your sponsorships? But of course nothing logical is allowed to happen here so she does the honorable blah blah and goes out blah, see you in Vegas.

1:21 Ben Udy, a farmer who goes “Chad Flexington” in his role...oh, hell no. All right, big guy, your nickname is “chaff”. I don’t have time for this crap. Another victim of Leap of Faith.

1:32 And this Chance At Speed Pass Uber Alles crap has got to stop. Look...Eyes...Bodge...every contestant has to make a choice. Some are really here for the money. Kyle Soderman is one. He decided that a shot at cold, hard cash was worth more than a CHANCE a privilege which would not have realistically increased his chances of MAKING GODDAM MONEY. Furthermore, without the benefit of a time machine, there’s no way to tell if he would’ve made good on his CHANCE, and therefore there’s no grounds for THAT GODDAM DISGUSTING SMARMY JUDGMENTAL ATTITUDE YOU COMPLETE PIECES OF...OF...AARRRRGH!

Gah. I’m ending this before I completely lose it.

Actually, too late. Let’s just move on...

1:34 Flip “David” Rodriguez is still on his crusade to end sex abuse. Given how social justice in America advances at a rate that a tectonic plate would find lethargic, that’s incredibly noble of him, and it’s just tragic that he’ll very likely never see any progress within his lifetime. Given his notorious inconsistency, you can bet that he’ll be gunning for the Safety Pass. He finishes at 4:13.48, the best time of the day, so his chances are looking very good.

(Oh, choke on your “sense of urgency”, Bodge, assuming anything’s big enough to fill that space.)

1:45 The last man is Hunter Guerard, who prevailed at the Power Tower in quallies. Eyes mentions that he’s already Punched His Ticket but is now going to go for the Safety Pass with no pressure. Playing and passing both have their benefit, although it’s extremely unlikely that anyone’s going to go for the latter, at least this season. Personally, if it’s my choice, I enjoy a well-earned vacation and go into Stage 1 healthy and confident, but time will tell which is better.

On the profile, Guerard mentions some incredibly obvious facts before reminding us that he has nothing to lose and is going for the Safety Pass with no pressure. Uh, yeah, we got that. He also admonishes us that going Too Fast is deadly, therefore you must know the exact unspecified speed you’re supposed to go at before starting. Just like Bodge is always bleating! This man learned from the best!

Okay. Clearing obstacles. Fast but controlled pace. Looking very good. Everything is rock-solid. On to Leap of Faith, which has been causing endless headaches tonight. Still looking good. About to make the leap to the last...

...oh. Oh my. That’s... He banged his head on the final...I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s made of steel, it’s very solid, and it just collided hard with an easy-to-cut part of his face. Which means that he doesn’t get a shot at the Safety Pass and is bleeding like a stuck pig. I’m surprised it was even allowed on the show at all, it was downright disturbing to look at.

I’m sorry, did I say something about going into Stage 1 healthy and confident? All this time the announcers made it sound like there was no possible drawback whatsoever to going balls to the wall. Well, ladies and gents, here’s the drawback. How would you like that weighing on your mind going into Vegas? And it’s not like serious injury is a rare occurrence here...Team Ninja Warrior 2, anyone?

1:54 Flip “David” Rodriguez vs. Brian Kretsch on the Power Tower. Just in case you missed it the first three times, here is Eyes to explain the purpose of the Safety Pass! Twice! I’ve had Church teachings that didn’t have this much redundancy! We finally get to see the thing, and...it’s a pure upper-body race. Well, if the pass is going to improve their chances of taking home the hundred-K, I supposed they need to be upper-body crushers.

1:56 Nearly ready to begin. Eyes notes how the competitors have a combined twenty years of his experience, to which Bodge says “What?” in an unnaturally high voice because he is a close-minded imbecile. I already did Kretsch, so here are David’s numbers: Winnings: $0. All-star medals: 1. Team event championships: 0. USA vs. The World wins: 0. Should be an epic battle!

And they’re off! And...David runs away with it. Not much else to report.

Verdale Benson, the patient soldier, just made it in at the #12 spot. NBC didn’t show the bubble, but there’s a pretty good chance that at least one competitor who cleared #8 didn’t make it through. I’m pretty sure that after years of finishing in siffies meaning jack squat, there was pressure to force the competitors to do more to advance. Doing away with the really tough obstacles until the end and the cutdown were the first logical step, and I can see a future where clearing 10 or at least 9 is going to start mattering. Good. Reality shows die when the powers in charge don’t acknowledge and fix problems, and NBC is doing just that here.
  #559  
Old 07-17-2019, 09:39 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
1:11 On to the last woman of the night, Tiana “Tweb” Webberley. Definitely one of the stronger, though not elite, women (after Graff, Clubhouse, Martin, and Warnky they start running together),
I think there are two others who really stand out: Barclay Stockett, who I think is definitely better than either Martin or Warnky, and still getting better; and Alyssa Beird, who has beaten stage 1.

I agree that there's a large clump of good-but-not-great woman ninjas after them, waiting to break out and beat city finals, or beat stage 1, or something like that.


Quote:
1:21 Ben Udy, a farmer who goes “Chad Flexington” in his role...oh, hell no. All right, big guy, your nickname is “chaff”. I don’t have time for this crap. Another victim of Leap of Faith.
He's actually my favorite new ninja in quite some time. The character is so over-the-top, but he clearly doesn't take it very seriously. I mean, his little video features sound effects as he violently and suddenly.... eats fruit. And he's good enough not to just be a joke, either.

FLEXINGTON!!!!!!!
__________________
This post is merely corroborative detail, intended to add artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative
  #560  
Old 07-24-2019, 03:36 AM
DKW is offline
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Before I begin this week’s...bull session, for lack of a better term, there’s something I have to get off my chest right now. Well, actually, two things. Three if you count both principals in the second.

You’ll recall post #459, where I gave my take on last season’s Stage 1, day 2. (Short version: Long version: ) Well, guess who’s here tonight: Brett Sims and Ryan Stratis. The, ahem, principals in the exercise in slow, agonizing torture that was the beard bet. "Oh c’mon, DKW, that was one year ago!" you're undoubtedly saying. "Stop harping on the past, for Miko’s sake! Move on!" And I was prepared to do just that...except for one little detail. THEY’RE DOING IT AGAIN. Yeah, apparently it was such a huge hit the first time, as measured by the number of extra pairs of underwear Eyes and Bodge required, that they’re going to submit us to this goddam most grossly overblown piece of dreck in the history of reality TV, and I’m including Sanjaya Malakar.

But I shouldn’t hurl all my ire at this...mainly because I have to save some for the whole nauseating spectacle of Kenny Niemitalo, whom NBC is apparently determined to treat as this great hero and shining example of humanity for...what was it? Oh yeah, convincing SOMEONE ELSE to make a sacrifice. To recap, his daughter needed a kidney, and since donating one of his own was obviously out of the question (), he begged and pleaded for someone to make the donation. And someone did! Now, you’d think that he’d at minimum be highly grateful for this selfless donor, maybe give this person front-row seats and plenty of crowd shots (hey, if that face deserved it, someone who actually did something tremendously good sure as hell does), maybe even give some material reward...donation to a charity of this person’s choice, help funding a college education, that sort of thing. Or if not, NBC certainly should’ve been so kind. So what happens? We learn that Niemitalo found his donor, and we learn absolute jack squat about this donor. Hell, it’s treated like a complete afterthought! And what is Niemitalo doing now? Why, begging for yet ANOTHER person who is not him to donate a kidney so that someone he cares about can survive, and he’s so serious about it that he’s joined an organization devoted to begging OTHER PEOPLE to make sacrifices! And for this he gets all the attention, he gets all the praise, he gets all the lionization. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if he got all the girls as well. The donor? Nothing. Nothing at all.

I’m not going to mince words here...this offends me deeply. This is symptomatic of one of the biggest enduring malaises of America, that it’s perfectly fine to take credit for other people’s accomplishments and leave them in the cold. As someone who has never...not once, in my entire life...got to be the abuser, the tyrant, the parasite, the goldbrick, the brown-noser, the teflon don, the spoiled brat, the tormentor, the sadist, the pit, the bulletproof golden boy surrounded by bleeding hearts and slobbering sycophants who make excuse after excuse after excuse...I find this attitude absolutely sickening.

I’m putting my foot down right now. After this week, I promise you all that I will not waste one word on Ryan Stratis, Brett Sims, or Kenny Niemitalo until they freaking do something else. I don’t care what. “Crazy, crazy, craaaazyyyyy!” is acceptable.

All right...the show must go on...

0:02 Shot of tonight’s #8, Up For Grabs. I remember seeing something similar to it in...I think it was NvN? It’s kind of like a toned-down Flying Bar, with two large cradles the contestants have to leap bars into. It doesn’t look that complicated and should have a decent success rate. That’s what I’m thinking, anyway.

0:03 Hey, anyone here ever see Tyrone Poole in action? I don’t remember him ever being that big a name. That’s the trouble with being a part of such a massive, transcendental dynasty; it’s really hard to stand out. His run isn’t going to help any in that regard as he quickly bows out on #2.

0:05 Josiah Singleton, our obligatory indoor plumbing-free entrant! Seriously, NBC, you do realize that not only does a really small percentage of our country live in rural areas, most of them are too poor to waste hours and hours training for a contest that pays jumping jack zilch? He keeps the dream alive for a quite a while but flames out startlingly quickly on Up For Grabs; didn’t even attempt the first jump.

0:12 Neil “CC” Craver, the crazy crazy himself! Who crazies down to a watery crazy on the third crazy! Crazy luck next crazy, crazy! (Phew...and I thought Eric Middleton not making it was a relief...)

0:15 Caleb and Caitlyn Bergstrom share a good-luck hug at the starting line. They’re going for an unusual achievement; they want to be the first ever brother-sister duo to get make it to Stage 1 in the same week. I’ll be rooting for them to succeed, mainly because that means I’ll never have to hear about it again. The less trivial crap Eyes and Bodge get to balloon into the goddam Normandy invasion, the better. Caitlyn goes first. She didn’t go very far in quallies...and doesn’t get far here, barely making it past #4, Hourglass Drop, before being run into the water at Ferris Wheels. It looks like her chances are pretty bad. Key words, "looks" and "like".

0:26 Good lord, Devin Harrelson’s profile oozes so much conventional middle-of-the-road vanilla pablum, it belongs in a Miley Cyrus video. Of course, “Dougie Fresh” is a royally stupid nickname for multiple reasons (the big one being that his name isn’t Douglas or anything close to it), but I’m not sure if he’s going to get enough airtime that I’ll actually need to make a snarky nicknames. Maybe in a few months. Gets as far as Up For Grabs before collapsing.

0:35 Uh, guys, you do know that the whole point of a waiweewuwwawei is to save time, right? I felt like I was going to be 56 by the time you finished.

0:36 Oh, geez, Eyes just called Kenny Niemitalo a “lifesaver”. Nice knowing you! Next!

0:48 Wait, Bodge, how is the big beefcake going out on the balance obstacle “shocking”? Isn’t that where they usually stink up the joint? Damn, Rob “The Adonis” Moravsky wasn’t that long ago.

0:49 All right, our first real stud of the night, Kevin Carbone! He’s a powerful athlete and plenty of fun to watch; I still remember how much he dominated in NvN. So of course, he has to get saddled by THE MOST FREAKING PRETENTIOUS NICKNAME EVER, “The Maker”. Look, I don’t care how creative he is, calling him a freaking god is waaaaaaaaay overboard. Since he’s best known for Wing Nuts (Which, honestly, isn’t as breathtakingly brilliant an idea as Eyes and Bodge are always making it...I mean, c’mon, is “horizontal lache” that exotic a concept?), I think “Wingman” fits, so that’s what I’m going with. And we have our first finisher of the night! Nothing too hard for him anywhere and he set a good pace, so he’s definitely in the running for tonight’s Power Tower.

1:01 Another woman loses her feet on Block Run, and all of a sudden Caitlyn Bergstrom’s lackluster effort looks like it might just be enough. Roo Yori was here too. His run was nothing special, but since he’s all about the dogs, I’d like to take the opportunity to remind you all of my favorite Baha Men Song.

1:02 Travis Rosen, now 44, broke his ankle in Stage 1 last year. That should’ve been the end of it. Hell, after that broken wrist he suffered in TNW1, I thought for sure that was the final straw. And here he is. I again remind everyone of persevering and coming back from mishap for a noble cause...running a homeless shelter, for example...and persevering and coming back from injury to compete in a meaningless reality show that pays nothing. Needless to say, both approaches get the exact same gushing praise from the ever-dependable commentators. Rosen sets a very slow pace and almost completes Up For Grabs but can’t manage the second cradle.

1:12 Oh, look who it is, Ryan Stratis...what the...he tore the skin off his hand?? And this was 100% ON-CAMERA???? And Eyes just casually mentions it like he brushed off a bit of dandruff?? Glorifying SELF-MUTILATION now?? Are you guys trying to get sued or something???????

1:22 Hey, it’s Brett Sims! [redacted] they have a flipping name for that horrible [redacted] [redacted] [redacted] Oh look, wife! [redacted] [redacted] NEXT!!!!

1:23 Jody Freeman. Not thirty seconds into his profile he starts talking about a severe birth defect he was born with, which is just what I needed to hear after Ryan Stratis’ bout of S&M. Actual run is...mighty good! If you can overlook the moronic chants from the crowd and Eyes’ and Bodge’s suffocating condescension...always an uphill battle, I know...what we have here is a quiet, methodical grinder who gets the job done. Doesn’t quite have enough left in the tank for Spider Trap, but he’s still easily through.

1:34 All right, NBC...announcers...you’ve got to put a lid on all this armed forces worship. Especially when the present-day reality is vastly closer to Camp Swampy (or, y'know, this) than a John Wayne movie. Case in point, the profile for Jessica Clayton, the hoo-rahing hoo-raher, who we see...conducting a PT class. That’s what she is. An aerobics instructor. She has played as much of a role in “defending our country” as Richard Simmons. She goes on to further establish her overwhelming athletic credentials by utterly bungling Hourglass Drop and splashing. Luckily (for her, not us), she was just barely good enough to be the 2nd best woman tonight, which just goes to show you how weak the women’s contingent was in this city, which of course NBC will never admit to because that would require honesty. Good Yukari, this has been an absolutely brutal night.

1:44 Caleb Bergstrom washes out on Up For Grabs like so many before him (#9 was a complete non-factor tonight, BTW; I can’t remember the last time that’s happened) but was fast enough to make the top 12. Caitlyn locks up the top women’s spot by virtue of being the only women who cleared Hourglass Drop all night...did I mention how painfully feeble the women were in Atlanta?...which means that...yes...we have our first ever brother-sister duo to make Stage 1 in the same week! Heck, the same year would’ve been impressive enough. Congrats, super sibs, you’ve done a real service for ANW and its viewers. More than Kenny Niemitalo or Jessica Clayton, that’s for sure!

1:45 Man, never in my life have I been more overjoyed to see Drew Dreschel. A rock of no-nonsense skill in an ocean of nauseating BS. He, too, is going for a benchmark, one far greater than even the Bergstroms’ recent triumph...the trifecta. He’s already made waves by defying Eyes’ and Bodge’s dictum for the Walls, i.e. you either go for the money or the top two, and if you go for the money when you have a chance at the top two, you are a royal fool who deserves endless ridicule. Dreschel looked at that and said “Screw choosing,” with the result being that he got the cash and the carry. Now, with his spot in Vegas secure, he can go for the Safety Pass full of confidence, and tonight it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone who can stop him.

The run? Not much to talk about...he methodically crushes ten obstacles and Wingman’s time with it. I mean, just no slowdown or quit with him at all.

1:55 It’s Drew Dreschel vs. Kevin Carbone on the unforgiving upper-body bomber known as siffies Power Tower! And they’re off! And...oh my...oh, yikes...Dreschel...he’s completely running away with it...it’s not a contest at all...and he wins. Just like that. Hey, “The Maker”, meet the destroyer.

Dreschel sets yet another milestone with the trifecta. He has been absolutely unstoppable so far, and he’ll be taking insurance to Vegas. Right now he’s looking like a prohibitive favorite to take home another $100,000 payday, and this to go with the $10,000 he’s already won so far. Wow. Thank you, Real Life. You saved tonight.

1:59 So if the Speed Pass winner finishes in the top 12, the #13 guy goes through. Okay, fair enough.

(Didn't think I'd be ending on a mundane observation, but I take 'em as they come.)
  #561  
Old 07-24-2019, 06:03 AM
Ellis Dee is offline
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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
1:59 So if the Speed Pass winner finishes in the top 12, the #13 guy goes through. Okay, fair enough.
It appears the speed pass winner doesn't count for the top 12, meaning every city will actually send between 13 and 15 to Vegas:

- The top 12 finishers not counting the speed pass winner
- The speed pass winner
- Up to two women if they didn't finish in the top 12 or win the speed pass

For the edge case, I'm assuming if a woman wins the speed pass, two more women advance. Essentially, the speed pass means you don't technically count for the city final rankings in any way except qualifying for the Power Tower.
  #562  
Old 08-01-2019, 12:11 AM
DKW is offline
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Note: The SDMB, of course, does not have a throwing-up smiley. Tragic, I know. As it turns out, there are times where that would’ve been quite useful in this thread, and this week’s siffies, in particular, was particularly...fertile ground, to put it as discreetly as I can. Therefore, I will be using <BARF> to indicate the presence of the smiley in question, and you can use your imagination. Which these competitors leave very little to, I understand, so just do the best you can. All righty...

0:01 How you can tell ANW has truly arrived: They’ve just spent who knows how much cash to bring in a real live Clydesdale and rider to make some kind of cryptic point about how yeeeehawww-ish Oklahoma City is. Hope they take plenty of precautions the next time they’re in Indianapolis. Those open wheels can really do some damage to unprotected toes.

A quick look at #9, the brand new Snap Back, which requires the contestant to grab a quickly-moving bar in midair, then do it again. Furthermore, he must transition from a front to a reverse grip. This one would’ve easily been a late Stage 3 obstacle in past seasons; it looks like it has the potential to be an absolute killer.

0:03 Profile of Jeff Harris, the “Waste Warrior”, whom Eyes immediately compares to the Village People. Huh...geez...look, how do I put this...making lots of callbacks to 70’s culture made sense when the 70’s weren’t that long ago. You could ask any grade school kid during the Reagan Administration who the Village People or the Bee Gees or John Travolta or Donna Summer are and there’s a pretty good chance they’d know. Now it’s 2019, and the people who were big fans of that stuff are now in their 70’s, and WE’RE GETTING REFERENCES TO THEM ON AN ALLEGEDLY EMMY-NOMINATED PRIMETIME REALITY TV SHOW. I’m really going to be putting up with Boomer crap my entire goddam life, won’t I? This planet is doomed.

Oh, and his thing is that he’s really, really super-duper double-dog serious about recycling. Because listening to a preachy environmentalist is just what reality TV fans tune into ANW for!

The run, what-goddam-ever, he made it. Oh yeah, stupid-looking fake mustaches, always a treat. Moving on...

0:10 Of the five women here tonight, four of them made the top 30, tying the best result ever. This is big. Really big. And as soon as figure out why, I’ll be glad to share it with all of you. First up is Maggi Thorne, who wears a pink bow and pink lipstick, and unlike Natalie Duran has not recently undergone a catastrophic decline. Profile bludgeons home “single mom” with every big as much subtlety as you’d...

...what the...she has a goddam leitmotif??? Someone thought juggling family, career, and participation in a sport that has about a millionth of the value of either of the first two items was worth making a sappy theme song?? I’m sorry, did the Hallmark Channel buy the rights to this show while I wasn’t looking?? Well, you know what’s coming... <BARF>. Truly, madly, deeply, never has a <BARF> been more justified. Anyway, run begins, blah blah set the bar high blah blah inspirational blah, and of course the important lesson is that if you’re injured, keep going! Under no circumstances is pulling out due to injury ever acceptable! Why do you think we can’t have another Ninja vs. Ninja? Gaaaah... Aaaand, fade out to more beautiful strains of that leitmotif. (A leitmotif!!! She has a freaking LEITMOTIF!!! <BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF>) This is going to be one of those siffies, isn’t it?

0:23 A checklist of all six rounds of ANW (and “Salmon Ladder” for whatever reason). On his shirt. Heh. Why don’t you ask Jeff Gordon how well that sort of chest-thumping worked out for him. Poor fool. (Yeah, kinda hard to write on soaking wet fabric, isn’t it? )

Tonight’s #8 is Crazy Clocks, always a notorious stumbling block, and it’s already taken out several pretty good competitors. There’s nothing fancy about it; you just need really strong arms, especially since it comes right after Salmon Ladder with no rest. Between this and Snap Back, it’s going to be a battle to find anyone worthy of Power Tower.

0:24 All right, let’s see what’s the deal with Rick Hinnant...whoa, was not expecting that! I’ve mentioned before that siffies was where NBC had to get creative with their profiles, having neither the large pool of Acceptable Stories candidates of quallies nor the star power and playoff excitement of Vegas, but this is definitely a new one...a cross-promotion. He was on Shark Tank and was able to impress one of them enough to lock down a deal, which eventually propelled him to tremendous success. I know that Shark Tank is owned by sister network CNBC, but dang, of all the guest stars we’ve had here, Barbara Corcoran definitely qualifies as one of the most unlikely! So! What-are-you-going-to-do? Only one way to...

...oh, you gotta be kidding me. Segue into Acceptable Story. (Also <BARF>.) His wife had a miscarriage. (What the hell is a “routine” pregnancy, anyway? Maybe you should ask her how freaking routine carrying an increasingly difficult burden and experiencing a laundry list of health problems is. ) And they even had a name, too. Apparently this was so shattering for him that he completely lost his will to have children forever, which is why he turned to entrepreneurship to build his legacy. Well, it’s not the path anyone would have chosen, but if running a successful business gives him a purpose and direction in life, I’m all for it. And if it allows him to set an example for young people, that they don’t need children to be worthwhile to society, so much...

What the hell do you mean, you have three healthy kids?? What in...how...why...but he just... I... ...I don’t a clue what to think anymore. I’m just plain confused. Dammit, when I said I wanted more variety in the stories, I didn’t mean all at once!

Out on Coconut Climb, won’t be advancing, and no doubt the Stage 1 profile writer just breathed a huge sigh of relief.

0:33 Ben Wales becomes the first victim of Snap Back. Almost had it but just couldn’t manage the second reverse grab. With stronger competitors stepping up, more could be following soon.

And as I write those words, here comes Karsten Williams. He’s had a rather checkered career, and at 38, he knows the clock is ticking...does he have one more inspired performance in him? As with the true contenders, no sappy profile, no big intro, he just gets right into it. Okay...okay...okay...on to Salmon Ladder, good. Now the unforgiving Crazy Clocks...and...not a problem! He still looks in great shape...

Oh, of all the...what the bloody hell even IS this???? The run cuts away to a long...long...long...looooooong montage of the times he failed on the 9th obstacle. (Which of course has rarely, if ever, been any kind of deal since prior to the cutdown a grand total of ONE siffies contestant has failed to advance after clearing 8, but you already knew that.) First a leitmotif, now this? Is this a reality show or a documentary?? And to cap it off, Eyes calls it...wait for it...Da Kurrrsssss. That’s right, he just compared Williams having a little bad luck on obstacles that ultimately meant nothing to THE MOST FREAKISH, INSANE, BIZARRE, BAFFLING CHAMPIONSHIP DROUGHT IN THE HISTORY OF SPORTS. I...

And Williams finishes, which means that Eyes can finally shut up about it. Don’t worry, though, he’ll have something equally ridiculous next week. That man’s a professional!

0:45 On to the second of our lady qualifies, Taylor Amann, who...I’m sorry, there’s no way to mince words about this. She is breathtakingly beautiful. She really is. And, you’ll remember, one of the stars of the Wisconsin juggernaut that utterly steamrolled Team Ninja Warrior College Madness, including a surprisingly powerful MIT squad, thereby ensuring that we’d never have another College Madness.

Boyfriend Clay Raterman is here as well. He’s been largely a non-factor in ANW so far (including College Madness), but he does serve to illustrate the weird balancing act NBC is doing with love interests of the strong women. See, it’s pretty obvious at this point that the loathe the patriarchal mentality as much as anyone else with half a functioning brain, but for some reason they just cannot completely cut ties with these Neanderthals...y’know, the losers who got genuinely outraged when Tifa Lockhart started wearing a sports bra. (Which Amann has on tonight as well, and damn, she is SMOKING.) That turns each run into a weird hedging match where they tease at making it all about the guy but never follow through on it.

Anyway, she went out on Coconut Climb the first time but learned from her mistakes, and the wall is no challenge after that. Not quite powerful enough for Crazy Clocks, but still easily good enough for the top women’s spot. She’ll definitely be one to watch in Vegas. For multiple reasons.

0:54 God damn...one of the saddest things in sport is seeing the inexorable decline of a former superstar who hangs on for too long. I remember a time when Brent Steffensen dominated this event...being the first man to clear any iteration of Ultimate Cliffhanger will do that. Now here he is, shuffled off to a 3WA land in quallies, and now tonight, the erstwhile king reduced to an afterthought. He did get as far as Crazy Clocks, but in much too slow a time, and he will not be competing in Vegas. I need to move on before I get depressed.

0:55 David Wright! The Cake Ninja! Which means that instead of 200 shots of fans waving idiotic signs, jumping, flailing, and screaming directly into the camera, we’ll have 200 shots of fans stuffing their faces with junk food! <BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF> Which of course, Eyes and Bodge... <BARF> On second thought, screw their opinion of this. Oh, lovely, the fans have figured out how to use their brain-dead three syllable chants to make demands! <BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF> Look, I like cake too, I just don’t think glorifying this type of... <BARF><BARF><BARF><BARF> I mean, you could show something positive, like donating cake to homeless shelters, or doing a bake sale to benefit a school! Not everything has to be greed... <BARF><BARF><BARF> Gah...

1:06 Karen Wiltin, who looks not much unlike Barbara Corcoran. All things considered, she has a heck of a run, managing to get as far as Warped Wall. Amazingly, this is the worst ladies’ run of the night! Man, just think of what she could’ve accomplished last week. (Put Jessica Clayton in KP where she belongs, that what she could have done. )

1:18 Joining Jody Avila in progress, a sure sign of someone NBC expects to actually have a prayer in Stage 1 so they don’t want to overexpose him now. (Also Wiltin’s run ate up a lot of time...seriously, she was the archetypical “has infinite time and is going to use every second of it” contestant...so they have to make cuts somewhere.) Powerful all throughout and gets up Spider Trap breaking a sweat. Yeah, he’s legit.

1:27 Madelyn McNeal goes out in the same place she did in quallies, Coconut Climb. The #5’s have eaten a lot of lunches this year, and that really show you just how much this contest has evolved. There was a time when things like Devil Steps was a bonafide ninja killer, and that one only required strength and grip.

On to the last woman of the night, Barclay “Bars” Stockett. She’s fallen off my radar a bit, mainly because the camera cut to her roughly 4,000 times during American Ninja Warrior Junior and it got just a tad irksome, but I do remember her as one of the better female contestants. One of the best, honestly, now that old favorites like Kacy Catanzaro and Meagan Martin have fallen by the wayside. The profile highlights her work with Exile International, a nonprofit which helps boys who have been abducted and forced to engage in armed combat...

[OKAY, TIME OUT. Everyone. Everyone, everywhere who is tempted to do this: If what you are talking about consists entirely of boys...i.e., does not contain even one girl...do not use the word “kids”. Okay? It is not “kids” who went on that mass shooting spree or spread that racist propaganda or sexually assaulted that girl. It’s boys. It’s ALWAYS boys. Don’t say “kids” when it’s something only boys ever, ever do. It’s boys, it’s boys, it’s boys, boys, boys, B-O-Y-S BOYS BOYS BOYS BOYS BOYS BOOOOOOYYYYYYYSSSSSSSSSS. I'll just leave this here.]

...get back on their feet. How? By...setting up an ANW course. So they can engage in an activity which is physically draining and completely fruitless, but at least they don’t have to worry about getting shot it. This is the best that America can do for young people who have suffered some of the most unspeakable atrocities. Yeah, pretty sure this planet is completely doomed.

On to the marginally happier run. If Bars gets up Warped Wall, this will be the first time in history that four women made it that far in siffies, an impressive figure and one we’re unlikely to see surpassed for a long time. She does the usual pause-to-showboat-after-every-damn-obstacle thing...swear to Reimu, this crap is worse here than in the NBA...but does, in fact, get up the wall. Excuse me, bee daah waww. Y’know, I don’t see the point of chanting when she’s done this before and it’s not hard for her at all. Despite taking what seemed like a lot more than 3:35, she gets to Crazy Clocks and cements the second women’s spot of the night.

1:39 Matthew Day had a deep run last year, and with a lot of old favorites fading, he feels the time is ripe to seize the crown. Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen with mental errors on #5. He was doing great until he simply whiffed on the notch going down, and with his upper body horizontal there was no saving it.

1:41 Oh boy. Things just got serious. Daniel “Dag” Gil just stepped up to the plate, and like Drew Dreschel before him, he’s going for the trifecta. I had the feeling that reality would screw with Eyes’ and Bodge’s narratives regarding the Power Tower, but I didn’t expect it to happen in the middle of the first iteration. But then, Dag’s never cared much what anyone thought of him, and that confidence serves him well as he (yep) breezes through completely in control (yep) has no trouble with Crazy Clocks or Snap Back, and (yep) gets the (yep) fastest time of the night (yep-yep yep-yep, yep yeeeeeppp ) I’m seriously starting to wonder what the damn point of the Speed Pass even is.

1:50 Closing things out is Mathis “Cougar” Owhadi, who is Dag’s student. Given how many storybook Power Tower matchups failed to happen, you can bet Eyes and Bodge are hoping for him to beat out Karsten Williams for the #2 spot with a desperation bordering on pants-wetting. Personally, I’m hoping it happens too, mainly because Gil/Williams promises to be about as competitive as a Crimson Tide nonconference game. It’s really close to the end, so, per usual, I’m going to skip the roughly two hours of suffocating drama and inform you that Cougar made it by less than a second. Yay.

1:56 The battle of the fortnight! The firebrand phenom takes on the invincible matter in an upper-body...



What...the...hell...is...happening?



COUGAR WINS! COUGAR WINS! COUGAR WIIIINNNSSSS! And it wasn’t even close! Man...I knew Dag had slowed down a bit, maybe picked up a few mental stumbling blocks (the mind is always the first thing to go), but you’d think that he wouldn’t have trouble with this one. Hey, this may not be a real sport, but it can still surprise you like one!

How about that: a night that was mostly terrible ends with a young phenom taking out a legend, and all of a sudden he’s in the front running for the $100,000. I don’t really think he’s quite good enough to beat out the likes of Drew Dreschel, but it’ll certainly be a thrill to see him go for it.

1:58 The usual results, where we learn that men named “Alex Blick”, “Kendall Ortez”, and “Damir Okanovic” will be in Stage 1. Maybe someday we’ll actually see their runs instead of...what we actually see. Maybe they can convince NBC by bribing them with fruits and vegetables, then it’ll truly be a win-win!
  #563  
Old 08-01-2019, 08:00 AM
Ellis Dee is offline
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How about that: a night that was mostly terrible ends with a young phenom taking out a legend, and all of a sudden he’s in the front running for the $100,000. I don’t really think he’s quite good enough to beat out the likes of Drew Dreschel, but it’ll certainly be a thrill to see him go for it.
To be honest, if I had to put money on one of them, I'd bet on Gil going further than Owadi in Vegas despite Owadi being the one with the mulligan.

But then again, if you give them both two mulligans -- one each for stage 1 and stage 2 -- I'd still bet the 401k on Drew Dreschel even if he didn't have his own mulligan.

At this point I see Drew Dreschel as roughly as much ahead of the pack as Jessie Graf was ahead of the pack for the women's game a couple years ago. She still is pretty far ahead of the #2 woman (Flex Labreck?) but a couple years ago it was like she was in a completely different league. That's where Dreschel is now. Not even the Weatherman is close, I don't think, and Moravsky's the clear, uncontested #2. Gil is bunched in with an ever-growing pack of elites vying for #3.
  #564  
Old 08-01-2019, 04:23 PM
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Has anyone here actually been to a taping? I have the impression the city shows are taped in February or March. Are the Vegas finals done in the summer? Are the fans switched out between runs? Do they hand out tons of t-shirts on the sidelines for each competitor or are the fans switched out for each run?
How long does the taping take? Must be hours to reset between runs, interview everyone, etc.
  #565  
Old 08-01-2019, 04:24 PM
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At this point I see Drew Dreschel as roughly as much ahead of the pack as Jessie Graf was ahead of the pack for the women's game a couple years ago. She still is pretty far ahead of the #2 woman (Flex Labreck?) but a couple years ago it was like she was in a completely different league. That's where Dreschel is now. Not even the Weatherman is close, I don't think, and Moravsky's the clear, uncontested #2. Gil is bunched in with an ever-growing pack of elites vying for #3.
Last year I would have agreed that Drew and Joe were definitely #1 and #2. This year Joe looked a LOT slower and then announcers mentioned something about how he hadn't been training as much. Maybe he was going slow because he knew he wanted to tackle the mega wall above all else, so why screw around for the speed pass... or maybe he's just not putting in the insane training hours that are required to really be a peak ninja these days.

Anyhow, I'd say that if Joe is no longer at peak Joe, then Sean Bryan is the clear #2 after Drew as the clear #1.
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  #566  
Old 08-05-2019, 10:14 PM
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adhemar - NBC is extraordinarily tight-lipped about everything, but here's what I know. Every second is taped in advance and very heavily edited. The live runs were at least a couple months back. A number of contestants get interviewed and NBC decides later which ones they want to air. The one Eyes says is the last runner of the night really is, but other than that the network can air them in any order they want. To save time, they'll show only brief clips of most of the runs (the "while we were away" segments), and to save more time, they'll also chop off the front end of one of them. Fan seating, as far as anyone can tell, is first come first served; I've never heard anything about reserved or preferential seating. And no, the network does not provide free merchandise. In fact, it doesn't have any (otherwise it'd be for sale somewhere). Those t-shirts, signs, and masks are the product of an extremely dedicated fanbase.
  #567  
Old 08-06-2019, 11:40 PM
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Well, history was made. Kind of. For the first time ever, the ninja who went furthest in a city finals course was a woman.

Sadly, she only went furthest, not furthest-and-fastest, so it didn't count for anything. Still, an impressive performance by Jessie Graff.

And some catastrophic performances by a bunch of other ninjas. Jake Murray and Meagan Martin will not be at Vegas. Sean Bryan turns out to be a mere mortal. The first mom up the warped wall is now the first mom to make it up the warped wall and then not qualify for Vegas.

It's always a bit hard for us laymen to judge, but boy did Northwest Passage look like one of the most brutally difficult obstacles ever.
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Old 08-07-2019, 05:07 AM
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I thought it was a combination of a tough course and a relatively thin field. The power tower wasn't overly impressive; one guy wasn't even able to finish it!

Loved seeing women finish in 3rd (Jessie Graf) and 8th (Mady Howard?!) place. Howard -- the blonde gymnast who is cute as a button -- hauled ass all the way through the salmon ladder, but it was early on so it wasn't clear at the time that she made it as far as anyone else outside the top 3, man or woman, and she did it quickly.

I mean, come on, a top 10 overall city finals run by a rookie woman?! They really should have done some editing there, moving her run to 3rd to last and hyping the shit out of it. My only guess as to why they didn't is maybe she completely tanks in Vegas? I hope not.

Based on this results page, Jessie Graf was over a minute slower to the final obstacle, so I guess I don't object to her official rank as 3rd.

Is this the first week the speed pass winner from qualifiers (Sean Bryan) didn't finish in the top 12? I couldn't tell; he wasn't listed in the top 12, but separately at the end. In previous weeks they listed the speed pass winner in their position in the top 13. Also, since the top 2 women finished in the top 12, only 13 people (the minimum) advanced to Vegas.

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Anyhow, I'd say that if Joe is no longer at peak Joe, then Sean Bryan is the clear #2 after Drew as the clear #1.
Fair point about Joe, though IIRC he still looked pretty impressive in the skills competition before the season started.

Sean Bryan is a good thought. Before this city final performance, I would have said if he isn't already he will be by next season. I still think I think that but did he really not finish in the top 12? If so, yikes. It's one thing to slip up on a balance obstacle or something, but to finish at the back of the pack isn't a great way to demonstrate that you're ahead of the pack.

I'm only seeing the gulf getting wider between Dreschel and the field.
  #569  
Old 08-07-2019, 10:37 PM
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Fair point about Joe, though IIRC he still looked pretty impressive in the skills competition before the season started.
I'm fairly sure that's filmed at the end of last season, not at the beginning of this season.
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  #570  
Old 08-08-2019, 12:32 AM
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Guys... I know you’re expecting more highlight reel goodness, but... Aaaaagh.

I would say that the Seattle-Tacoma siffie was what finally broke me, but it’s not so much “broke” as “bled dry”. You may have noticed that in my previous highlight reel recaps, I did a way too much grumbling (yes, even I think it’s a bit excessive) but was able to take away some positive notes. That’s gone now. And I don’t just mean in the sense that nothing good happened; the makers of this show seem to actively despise goodness and fight like maniacs to thwart it at every turn.

Since I do want to end the season on a high note, I’ll just post my Really Bad Things About ANW Siffies here and then never revisit it again. In no particular order:

All the damn chanting – Remember when it was just “bee daah waww”? Now the mindless, obnoxious drone goes on all throughout the run. There were times I thought I was in the Temple of Doom. And of course, of all the things NBC could’ve put on that big screen, it had to be “BEAT THAT WALL”, because what this nation needs is even more blind conformity.
All the damn screaming – I remember the first few times I watched Sasuke and how overexcited and noisy I found the announcer. He’s a goddam Masterpiece Theater narrator compared to the continuous ear-bleeding cacophony siffies has become.
(We’re trying to convince you that) Lady ninjas RULE!! (with a desperation bordering on pathetic!) – Did I mention something a while back about propping up the women didn’t make much sense since they weren’t going to make an impact in siffies? NBC’s “solution?” Screw it all and give the 5 women disproportionate representation! Uggggghhh...I’m starting to think that the real reason we don’t have a counterpart to Kunoichi is that someone at the network just likes pushing heavy-handed agendas like this. On top of that, are we really supposed to think that it’s a good thing that some of the top female athletes in the country get pushed into a sport where they’ll never make a penny and will train like demons for month after month to get seen for barely a few minutes a year? A positive development would be to increase the profile of a legitimate women’s sport: the NBA, beach volleyball, tennis, skateboarding. Instead we have them getting chewed up by upper-body blasters and then run out on a rail in Stage 1. Sigh.
Showing a montage/mini-profile in the middle of the damn run – I mean, seriously, what the bloody hell is this?
Ludicrous, essentially impossible back half obstacles – Given how much of a hash Flying Monkey Bars made out of the ninth NvN prelim, you’d think someone would at least give it a serious redesign. Nope, still in it’s field-wrecking glory. And seriously, whose demented idea was Northwest Passage? You’re going to combine Monkey Peg with a 45 degree uphill climb, AND add two descents? Which leads to...
Jessie Graff getting royally screwed. Again. – Okay, I’m the last person to cry conspiracy, but there’s simply too much evidence now: Someone clearly has it out for Jessie Graff (and probably Meagan Martin as well). How the hell do you explain the two reasonable siffies in a row, and then this utter ABOMINATION just jumps out of nowhere? Maybe there’s resentment that she’s become “too good”, maybe frustration that she still doesn’t have a single Acceptable Story, maybe now that Sandy Zimmermann has turned out to be good she’s outlived her usefulness. No matter what, it’s disgusting.
Finishing not mattering in the slightest. Again. – Hey, remember how the Power Tower was going to completely solve all the issues we’ve had over the crippling failure rate in siffies? Yeah, hell no. The back half turned even that into a complete crapshoot. Can you explain how we got Karson Voiles vs. Dan Yager?
Bloodlust – Injuries are always a risk with any intense physical activity, but lately it seems that ANW has gotten really dangerous. Bad enough in itself (no prize money to defray medical expenses, for one), but not every time we need a freaking close up of the contestant’s agony. I’m sorry, wrong, epic no way, 100% bad, DISGUSTING. You do not fetishize human suffering. How this manages to maintain a clean TV-PG, I’ll never understand.
Nobody giving a crap about any of this – The thing that really blew me away about Eyes tonight was how apathetic he sounded about there being no finishers. One, Eyes isn’t apathetic about anything, and two, something like no finishers used to set klaxons blaring and let the producers know that something needed to change.
But no, everyone’s signed on, “ninja killers” are in no way indicative that the course is broken, don’t even try to get a decent representative sample of contenders in the runs you actually show, and let’s enable Jake Murray some more while we’re at it. Oh, and it’s perfectly fine to mike up two nails-on-a-chalkboard irritating boys! They’re enthusiastic! Enthusiasm is good! Always good! 100% good! Good, good, good, good, good, good, good!

The thing is, if you watch Sasuke, even now, you won’t see any of this...there simply isn’t the time. Everyone starts right at Stage 1 and runs the same course with the same time limit. A lot of them don’t have any chance, and a few of them are outright jokes. If you were to congratulate any of them for “making the National Finals”, you’d get some pretty funny looks. Nobody is interested in making stories, or enforcing narratives, or promoting girl power, or horribly mangling the whole stupid system to ensure that Kacy Catanzaro can cling to her one completely meaningless milestone. Prelims are addition that has no analogue in the original contest, therefore NBC can do whatever they want with it, and now we’re seeing the disturbing lengths they’re going to enforce complete conformity and ensure that this never changes. Seriously, is anyone even bothering to make suggestions anymore? Even something as modest as “Hold the camera back a bit whenever someone screams directly into it”? Will there be any repercussions at all for that galactically ill-advised Flying Monkey Bars/Northwest Passage combo?

And now my concern is that it’s going to spread to the real contest. So far time limits have prevented NBC from making a complete mess of Stages 1-2. But we saw this begin to crumble a bit last season, what with the very long time limit in 2. How long before even that part gets assimilated? And make no mistake, once it becomes obvious that $100,000 is the most anyone can get, some fans are going to get resentful, and NBC will have to do something to keep interest.

Oh, one more thing...“THIS YEAR THERE WILL BE A WINNER”. <BARF>, <BARF>, and more <BARF>. The assimilation process continues. Gah. Wake me up when Stage 1 begins.
  #571  
Old 08-13-2019, 09:49 AM
MaxTheVool is offline
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Jessie Graff getting royally screwed. Again. – Okay, I’m the last person to cry conspiracy, but there’s simply too much evidence now: Someone clearly has it out for Jessie Graff (and probably Meagan Martin as well). How the hell do you explain the two reasonable siffies in a row, and then this utter ABOMINATION just jumps out of nowhere? Maybe there’s resentment that she’s become “too good”, maybe frustration that she still doesn’t have a single Acceptable Story, maybe now that Sandy Zimmermann has turned out to be good she’s outlived her usefulness. No matter what, it’s disgusting.
Finishing not mattering in the slightest. Again. – Hey, remember how the Power Tower was going to completely solve all the issues we’ve had over the crippling failure rate in siffies?
When was the power tower ever going to do that? What the power tower is intended to do (imho) is mean that there's always something exciting to watch, and the broadcast will always end on a high note. I can't see any reason it makes it more or less likely that there will be finishers. Less likely, if anything, as it maybe slightly tilts people toward going fast.

Anyhow, a week later, and the course was even MORE ridiculously difficult, with no one even making it to obstacle 9. Which suggests to me that the Occam's Razor approach is that there's no resentment or anything towards Jessie Graff (why on earth would there be? she's a photogenic star with a great story, and being a stuntwoman naturally leads to cross promotional possibilities with movies and so forth), but rather they just don't always know how hard obstacles are going to be. And sometimes, they're too hard. Last week was too hard, and this week was WAY too hard. But Jamie, Joe and Najee are three of their most-hyped favorites, no reason they'd be trying to screw them or anything.

(I hope Joe gets back into top Joe shape before Vegas, however... seeing him as merely a top ninja instead of an elite ninja is just sad.)
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  #572  
Old 08-13-2019, 11:39 AM
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I think it's become a sickness with them: they desperately want to hype each and every course each and every year as NEW and HARDER. So they're constantly making the gaps between holds an extra six inches here and there, or making the number of handholds to cross a few more or increasing the length of one of those stretches you have to cross by bracing hands and feet with your body horizontal over a gap.

At first this was okay, the early ninjas WERE getting stronger and faster as they got more experienced. But I think it may be that they're simply pushing the limits of what human bodies can *do.* The strength of our muscles and joints simply don't evolve from year to year.

I believe something similar has happened with horse racing. At first the times for winning various races got faster and faster. But then they hit a sort of plateau: the best horses now run at the best speeds their anatomy/physiology allows. Until we start tinkering with genetics or allowing performance enhancing drugs, we aren't going to see great leaps.

ANW needs to recognize that. Sure, shake things up by using NEW obstacles, but not ones that are simply harder and harder and harder. Also, how about more variety? How many of the added hard obstacles consist of 'hang from your hands/arms while traversing something'? Why not add another agility challenge in the back half? How about that water challenge they had in the finals last year or so?
  #573  
Old 08-13-2019, 06:38 PM
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I think I heard Eyes say that Vegas will be four weeks this year, which implies to me that we're getting a million dollar winner. I assume it will be two weeks for stage 1, one week for stage 2, and one week for stages 3 & 4. Meaning maybe we get to see every single stage 1 run, which will include a ton of finishers advancing to stage 2, and maybe like a dozen or so people advance to stage 3? That would be pretty cool.

Regarding this week, I was bummed that Jamie Rahn didn't qualify for Vegas. I have him firmly in the same tier as Daniel Gil, in the pack of elites behind Dreschel. And (sadly) agreed that Joe Moravsky is now in that pack as well simply due to lack of time to train. In some respects that's almost more impressive, though, since everyone else in that pack undoubtedly trains non-stop, while Moravsky is on par with them almost from natural ability alone.

I think I'd put Sean Bryan also in that pack, but toward the top of it.

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Originally Posted by StarvingButStrong View Post
At first this was okay, the early ninjas WERE getting stronger and faster as they got more experienced. But I think it may be that they're simply pushing the limits of what human bodies can *do.* The strength of our muscles and joints simply don't evolve from year to year.
Agreed. My only caveat is that I think Dreschel would have completed every single course we've seen this year.


Speaking of newer obstacles, I had an idea for an obstacle. Essentially, a 20 or 30 foot long tightrope with walls around 4 or 5 feet to either side of it where you can brace your hands for balance, but using the walls puts you at an angle. (Steeper angle if you're shorter.)

At various points, something blocks the way forward so you can't remain upright, and the walls go further away from the rope, meaning you essentially have to body prop your way under the obstacles to the point you're fully horizontal. Ideally this would happen at least twice, and you have to go horizontal once to the right and once to the left. Any potential there? I was trying to think of a "full body" obstacle instead of yet another arms-only rock climbing style obstacle. I also though incorporating balance might nice. Maybe there's a 5 or 6 foot section at the very end where it's just a tightrope, no walls.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; 08-13-2019 at 06:43 PM.
  #574  
Old 08-15-2019, 01:17 PM
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but rather they just don't always know how hard obstacles are going to be. And sometimes, they're too hard. Last week was too hard, and this week was WAY too hard.
I mostly agree with what you're saying. I only watch the last 15 minutes of Monday night's episode, and I'm kind of thrilled that I missed the most boring ANW show maybe in the show's history. I'm sure the producers wouldn't deliberately put an obstacle in that kills every remaining competitor's run, because that doesn't make for very interesting TV. Only thing I sort-of disagree with is that they really ought to have known how hard the floating monkey bars are, since that's not a new obstacle. So maybe they actually do want the 8th obstacle to be that hard??
  #575  
Old 08-17-2019, 12:21 AM
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Would've responded sooner, but it took me a while to properly sort out my feelings and decide just how I was going to respond to Baltimore's...undesired outcome, let's put it that way. All right, top to bottom:

Max - Remember when all the talk was "six buzzers", implying that completing a siffie was supposed to mean something? And remember how that got shot to hell when we had only one person finishing, soon followed by zero persons? And finally, remember how the the first three siffies this year seemed reasonable, at the very least considerably toned down, and we actually had finishers again? Not nearly as many as in the good 'ol days, but enough that it looked like a viable benchmark? So what changed? Only one thing I could see: Power Tower. Close out with a match race (which the team events have proven is a pretty good bet for entertainment) with something potentially huge at stake. But to make sure it really is a clash of the titans, you need credentials, and that means finishing. Who wants to see a Super Bowl between two 9-7 teams? Anyway, that was my thought process...at least until Cincinnati, when two 8-clearers met on the tower and nobody really seemed too choked up over this. As for Graff, yeah, confirmation bias, I didn't do the research, I get it. But here's a bonafide superstar who's accomplished things that were completely unimaginable when she started and set marks that may never be surpassed, and I keep asking myself, how has she never cleared a siffie? This is one of those eternally baffling gaps, like Phil Mickelson and the U.S. Open. It seems like every year we see two or three challenging but reasonable siffies and then SHE gets the one with the god-tier abomination or freakazoid monkey wrench. First Invisible Ladder, then Clear Climb, then Step Slider (oh my Suwako, freaking Step Slider), and now Northwest Passage. I never really believed there's a big conspiracy against her, but the optics looked really shady on this. At least until Baltimore, which was an even more colossal screwjob.

I'm always willing to change my initial assumptions based on new evidence, but in a sense it was more comforting believing that someone had it in for Graff than the apparent reality that NBC is just throwing obstacles out there and hoping they don't make a hash of things. The former is coldly cynical; the latter leads to problems.

Speaking of which, the main problem with putting in a monstrosity like Angry Birds...I'm sorry, but front grip to blind back handholds is just insane...isn't that it makes finishing irrelevant (that ship sailed by around, oh, season 3), but it changes the complexion of the entire contest. It's not a matter of how far they can push themselves, or even da faddes da fasses (Notice how neither Eyes nor Bodge has said that once so far this season?), it's a race to a completely arbitrary point that's not the finish. It's a shame what happened to Jamie Rahn mainly because he's never been one of the speed contestants, and taking down as many obstacles possible is supposed to be how an athlete like him tackles the course.

Going forward, I think NBC just needs to start listening to the people and ease up. I mean, yeah, you could make siffies a total clusterfrag, but who benefits? At some point the viewers are going to stop being so forgiving and tune out. Heck, when American Ninja Warrior Nation is this upset, you know there's a problem. If it's a choice between too many finishers and too few, I'm always in favor of erring on the side of too many. Hey, 12 make it through no matter what, so what's the harm?

Ellis Dee - Part of me wants to blow off things like "There WILL be a winner this time!" and "History will be made!" as the usual misleading hype, but the way this season is going, I wouldn't be surprised if NBC really is giving away endings as a desperation move. One thing I hadn't considered was how long it's going to take for the Safety Pass winners to get ready to go again. If they're soaking wet, they have to take care of that, and then they have to get their heads back in the game, warm up and loosen up again, etc. I get the feeling that's going to eat up some time and the extra week doesn't automatically translate to Total Victory. We'll see.

As for that big announcement re. Cincinnati siffies: ANW Nation already has the scoop on this. I'm not going to spoil it here, of course, but suffice it to say that if it's true, we'll never have to hear about you know who again.
  #576  
Old 08-20-2019, 09:52 AM
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Well that was... weirdly anticlimactic.

Normally it doesn't bother me that some finals courses are harder than others. After all, all you have to do to get to Vegas is do better than other competitors on the same course you are running. So unless a course was so easy that > 12 people finished it, it wouldn't matter at all.

But still... when "no woman has finished city finals" has been such a talking point for so long, it seems a bit sad that it's broken in such an unimpressive way. And I feel guilty saying so, because Michelle Warnky and Flex both seem like genuinely nice people and are obviously excellent ninjas, but still...


Anyhow, on to four nights of Vegas! Will we have a million dollar winner? Will Flip Rodriguez finally make it to stage 3 before his inevitable crushing disappointment? Will a woman beat stage 1 again? Will a woman beat stage 2? What random facet of the show's production will DKW rant about? Tune in next week and see!
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  #577  
Old 08-20-2019, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by MaxTheVool View Post
Normally it doesn't bother me that some finals courses are harder than others. After all, all you have to do to get to Vegas is do better than other competitors on the same course you are running. So unless a course was so easy that > 12 people finished it, it wouldn't matter at all.

But still... when "no woman has finished city finals" has been such a talking point for so long, it seems a bit sad that it's broken in such an unimpressive way. And I feel guilty saying so, because Michelle Warnky and Flex both seem like genuinely nice people and are obviously excellent ninjas, but still...
My sentiments as well. I liked the difficulty level of the Cincinnati course; there weren't a huge number of finishers, but enough to make it fun to watch. And the obstacles were hard enough to knock out the majority of the competitors, but no single obstacle was knocking out everyone.

But then you think back to the strongest female competitors in the previous two weeks and wonder how many of them might have been able to complete it as well, if they had just gotten to run this course instead of one so hard that not even the top male ninjas could complete.
  #578  
Old 08-23-2019, 02:40 PM
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Yeah, it’s taken me a lot longer than usual to respond to Cincinnati siffies, mainly because...I’m not entirely sure how I want to react. When a show goes in a direction that infuriates me, I have a ready response. When a show makes me happy, or excited, or thrilled, or validated, I can’t wait to put words to monitor. These year vacillated so much, every “That was AWESOME!” or “I freaking KNEW it!” promptly shot down in the next episode, that right now I’m just...kinda lost.

First off, let me say what a wholly, unequivocally joyous thing it is when “history gets made”, for the sole reason that we’ll never have to hear about it again. This season we’ve had the first ever brother-sister duo, the first mother, Drew Dreschel’s amazing trifecta, and maybe a couple others I’m forgetting. Now, after what seemed like decades, we can finally be done with Kacy Catanzaro forever. Look, I appreciate her accomplishments and what she brought to the show, but the hard fact is that after 2014 she aged about as well as macaroni salad. Had NBC not grossly overramped siffies, we would’ve had more lady finishers, heck, more finishers of all stripes. And Jessie Graff never being able to escape her shadow was absolutely vexing. If throwing a relative gimme to Michelle Warnky and Jesse Labreck was what it took to make NBC give up the increasingly aggravating narrative of Catanzaro being this indomitable legend, more power. Come to think of it, for all Warnky and Labreck’s accomplishments in the team events (and they are impressive), neither has made a tremendous impact in the normal contest, so I guess this is poetic justice. On a similar note, kudos to Grant McCartney for getting over the hump. I thought he caught a horrible break last year when he cleared 8 obstacles, which in any other city or any other year would’ve been a mortal lock, and he just happened to run into a Murderer's Row of superstars who just barely squeezed him out. This time he only managed 7 thanks to an inopportune mental blunder, but the field was weak enough that he still managed to slide in. I’ve never been a fan of his cornball “dancing”, but he goddam earned his place last year, so I’m glad that he finally got it. (Plus, as a fellow Hawaiian, I’m kinda obligated to root for him, in spirit if nothing else. )

It’s pretty obvious that NBC freaked out big time over Seattle and Baltimore. Maybe they overcompensated a tad, but after the travesty that was Angry Birds, I don’t fault them for erring on the side of caution. So is an easier siffie a good or bad thing? You tell me. As far as I’m concerned, a good thing will be cutting out or at least majorly curtailing the utterly disgusting crap such as up-close hi-def face stuffing and cartoon depictions of butt-ugly lunch ladies, whereas a bad thing will be if that does not happen. The siffies are a uniquely American fabrication which has no analogue in the contest its based on, and as such doesn’t even have any real difficulty standards. I guess it would be a good idea to make it tough enough so that you don’t have more than 13 finishers, but other than that, whichever. What I’m really hoping for, and especially now with Warnky and Labreck’s successes, is that everyone stops taking them so damn seriously. Siffies accomplishments don’t mean anything in the grand scheme, and there’s no point pretending they do. Every course is so radically different that the chances of finishing, or even what constitutes a good result, are almost purely a matter of luck. Catanzaro is not better than Graff, even though one completed a siffie and the other didn’t. My hope is that the more milestones fall, the more controversy there is, and the more obvious it becomes that NBC really is just throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks, that everyone will eventually see this round as the largely inconsequential silly season that it is and always has been, and we can stop stressing over everything and just enjoy the thrill of seeing who’s going to make it to the real contest.

Last edited by DKW; 08-23-2019 at 02:41 PM.
  #579  
Old 08-24-2019, 12:15 AM
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I think this last city finals gave the Platonic Ideal for perfect results: Half a dozen finishers, then furthest the fastest for the next 6. Two women in the top 10 was just a bonus.

I would point out that it's not necessarily just that this was an easy course. Warnkey and Labreck didn't end up with the 31st and 32nd fastest finishing times, behind all 30 men. No, they both finished in the top 10 on merit.

I don't think either would have finished the course that knocked out Graff, and I do think Graff would've finished much faster than them if she got this course -- neither woman beat any male finisher on time, but I think Graff would have -- but it's still not nothing. Both women legit beat over 20 men and finished in the true top 10. That's an impressive accomplishment regardless how hard or easy the course is, since the men face the same course.
  #580  
Old 08-24-2019, 12:21 AM
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Something from weeks ago...

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Originally Posted by DKW View Post
I understand that the show needs to find new milestones as the old ones fall, but I can't help but feel a thinly-veiled phasing out of childless lady jocks who don't do their maternal duty.
I thought this was insanity of the highest order. However, a few weeks later I posted this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellis Dee View Post
Loved seeing women finish in 3rd (Jessie Graf) and 8th (Mady Howard?!) place. Howard -- the blonde gymnast who is cute as a button -- hauled ass all the way through the salmon ladder, but it was early on so it wasn't clear at the time that she made it as far as anyone else outside the top 3, man or woman, and she did it quickly.

I mean, come on, a top 10 overall city finals run by a rookie woman?! They really should have done some editing there, moving her run to 3rd to last and hyping the shit out of it. My only guess as to why they didn't is maybe she completely tanks in Vegas? I hope not.
DKW's embarrassing conspiracy theory is as good an explanation as any for Howard. If they blow past her run in the finals with a WWWA and her run is anything better than terrible, well, looks like I'll have to start gathering tinfoil for a hat.
  #581  
Old 08-24-2019, 09:34 PM
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Ellis - Look, pal...I think conspiracy theories are at best a colossal ludicrous waste of time, and I've seen more than enough credible reports and studies that back this up. But bass-ackward yahoos in positions of power making terrible decisions is absolutely a thing, and there are countless examples of this in the world of reality TV. As always, I call 'em as I see 'em. I don't remember Mady Howard, but I very clearly recall an 8 months pregnant Rose Wetzel running in a race (nice side view, too!) followed by a present-day shot of her rock-hard abs, the implication having all the subtlety of Bodge in a Metal Gear.

Anyway, if a hostility toward strong, confident, childfree, Acceptable Story-free women...not overt, but definitely there...by someone at NBC who could act on it isn't the reason for shafting Jessie Graff again and again...what is? You mean to tell me that a network that knows exactly what all the obstacles are before the season begins and has complete free rein to put the contestants wherever they want just accidentally stuck Graff with the Ninja Pulverizer four years in a row? Or consider just how much of a huge deal NBC made of Rose Wetzel and Sandy Zimmerman's runs before the episode even began. And it wasn't like Zimmerman had three little babies who needed constant attention. Trust me, it's okay to leave the kids with a relative for a few hours while you're at the gym. It takes a village, you know.

Of course, I'm always perfectly willing to change my mind based on new evidence...say, a profile of Meagan Martin that tackles the subject of race or at reveals something about her more interesting than "girly" or "sleeps in airports". Not holding my breath, obviously.
  #582  
Old Yesterday, 03:05 AM
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Mady Howard is a super cute blonde nurse (formerly a gymnast) who finished in the top 10 (8th overall) at a city finals course in her rookie season. I can't find video of her unprecedented run -- Has any rookie woman ever finished in the top 10 before? -- and that in itself is kind of weird.

Here's an article discussing her run that includes pictures of her. The one of her in her nurse scrubs is adorable.

How is she not being hyped beyond all reason?

EDIT: For context, Flex Labreck made it to city finals (but not top 10) as a rookie. How much hype did she get?

Last edited by Ellis Dee; Yesterday at 03:08 AM.
  #583  
Old Yesterday, 03:30 AM
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EDIT: For context, Flex Labreck made it to city finals (but not top 10) as a rookie. How much hype did she get?
I assumed incorrectly; she did indeed finish in the top 10.

Flex Labreck finished 10th in the 2016 Philly city finals as a rookie. This was before there was a separate women's bracket, so Labreck was the only woman from Philly to advance to Vegas that year.

So the last time we saw a rookie woman finish in the top 10 at city finals it was Flex Labreck. Compare the hype she got to the (lack of) hype for Howard.

Last edited by Ellis Dee; Yesterday at 03:31 AM.
  #584  
Old Yesterday, 08:22 AM
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So the last time we saw a rookie woman finish in the top 10 at city finals it was Flex Labreck. Compare the hype she got to the (lack of) hype for Howard.
Could most of the difference come down to what the athlete *herself* wants?

I mean, look at the men. Some of them are, well, attention SEEKERS. They give themselves what they hope will be memorable nicknames. They come up with stunts, like dancing or eating hotdogs on the course or acting out entire skits with casts, ferchristsakes. They plaster that nickname/logo all over their outfits. They print it up on signs and t-shirts for their fans. They travel with relatively huge clunches of their families and friends. They make videos for you tube. Some enter competitions all over the world.

Basically, Ninja-ing is their profession, how they support themselves. They want the news attention. They need it to keep people signing up at their personally owned gyms, etc. etc.

And there are others....who seem to see it as a (gasp) sport/hobby. They mostly go by their real names. Maybe their mate comes with them, maybe just a close friend, or even no one. They show up, run their best race, and don't put on dog and pony shows or make a point about how they're doing it to in the name of their dead grandpa or to raise awareness of Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva or whatever.

Which group do you think the PR arm of the AJW network concentrate on? The ones that make their task of creating 'news' easier, that's who.

So maybe Howard is naturally one of the second type. Quieter, more modest, less extroverted, heck, call it less obsessed?
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