Wednesday, August 05, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance - Cardio Funk & Tone and Groove

Written by la familia de Musgo del Jefe

Musgo likes the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. It's a favorite summertime passion of the Musgo family. I also like working out. Maybe "like" is too strong a word, but I do go to the gym on a regular basis. What I've never been able to find is an "at-home" workout that would hold my attention for multiple viewings.

I was intrigued to find out that the cast of SYTYCD was putting out some fitness DVDs. The weight-loss market is a huge one to be sure. That area of the market is currently dominated by the powerhouse of Biggest Loser and the related marketing machine of that show - with workout videos, protein shakes, diet books and more. This seems like a safe way to initially market the likable kids that we get to know each summer on the show. Many of them will be appearing in films over the next year and this is a good way to keep them fresh in the public mind.

I turned over the actual workouts to my in-house experts - Senora Musgo (a workout veteran since the Jane Fonda days) and Pequeña Senorita Bailarín Musgo (my 11-year-old who dances five days a week in classes and is a stellar performer). Here's some of their thoughts on the routines.

So You Think You Can Dance Get Fit: Cardio Funk

Hip Hop: Lauren. Sra. Musgo found this to be a fun and energetic routine. Lauren's youth made this a little hard to match move for move.

Contemporary: Travis. Pequeña Srta. Musgo liked the moves that Travis came up with. Sra. Musgo thought the moves were much easier to follow than the Hip Hop. This is a favorite of the ladies who found it unique. It's probably not a coincidence that Travis is an up-and-coming choreographer on the show this season.

Disco: Courtney. This is Pequeña Srta. Musgo's favorite section of all the workouts. She liked the speed and moves of the dance. Sra. Musgo found those same things to be a drawback. The workout moves quickly and there's lots of moves to learn.

Cardio Funk Bonus Workout / Cool Down. In the "bonus workout", the dancers all get together and do a combined workout with parts of all three workouts combined. It's the same movements, just combined into a single workout. The exercisers in this house found this to be a section you might go to in future viewings when you've mastered the basic moves of each workout.

Bonus Interviews. Interviews with creator Nigel Lithgow and the three dancers who choreograph the workouts. Not much new information here but it's a lot of cheerleading and rah-rah to keep you interested while sitting on your couch.

So You Think You Can Dance Get Fit: Tone and Groove

Hip Hop: Twitch. This was the favorite of Bebé Musgo (my six-year-old). But he didn't really get out and do the moves. Both Sra. Musgo and Pequeña Srta. Musgo found Twitch's Hip Hop routine to be easier than Lauren's from the other disc. It doesn't move as fast and was easier to keep up with. Twitch was one of our family's favorites on the show last season - his personality is infectious and I expect we'll see him branching out beyond just dancing very soon.

Jazz: Katee. The Musgo family thought that the routine was relatively difficult. The moves were "weird" according to Pequeña Srta. Musgo. The workout as a whole didn't leave much of an impression on either of them.

Cha Cha: Dmitry. There were lots of hip action in this workout. That made it one of the most difficult routines of both discs. Dmitry worked pretty quickly and the viewer has to work to keep up once he starts his counts.

Tone and Groove Bonus Workout / Cool Down. Same "bonus workout" as the previous disc with moves from all three routines.

Bonus Interviews. Also the same Nigel interview and the same behind-the-scenes type of interviews, just with three different choreographers.

Overall impressions of the discs from the Musgo ladies: The slow teaching of the moves makes it easier to pick up the moves than most workout discs. The choreography is pretty basic compared to what they do on the show, but still challenging enough to feel like your learning something new. The cardio workout portion of each section has a good pace of movement that will certainly make the most experienced dancer break out in a sweat. Overall it's a fun way to get in your cardio workout. The discs are great for fans of the show that don't get much of their favorite dancers once the season is over.

The discs weren't without their problems. All of the dancers were guilty of over repeating "just have fun" and "if you're not ready to move on, go back on the DVD to review." That seems like common sense for anyone that's used a DVD or DVR in the past 20 years. These are dancers not fitness instructors. And while they probably received lots of fitness advice, there is not any true "fitness" advice. There's no reference to muscle groups or advice during warm-up and cool down. Even the Tone video didn't focus on specific muscle groups as the title would suggest. Most other fitness videos offer modifications to the exercises. There were not alternatives offered for those that are true beginners or can not follow the moves exactly. All of the background dancers performed the same moves - one or more could be showing simpler versions of the same moves.

The discs are a nice addition to the So You Think You Can Dance family. The dancers are energetic and fun to watch do what they do best. As strictly an exercise video, they can't live up to the standard set by Jillian Michaels and the other Biggest Loser trainers. Those people are exercise professionals who know how to motivate through an entire workout. I don't discount that these will appeal to fans looking for an occasional break from their other routines. I think the Musgo women here found them to be very entertaining. But if it's a true workout your looking for, keep looking.

Unborn in the USA - Inside the War on Abortion

Written by Fumo Verde

If there is one line in the sand that truly divides this country, it is the right to abortion which some will call murder as others call it the right for a woman to rule over her own body. However you see it, this issue brings more emotion to it than any other. Unborn in the USA brings us some of this raw emotion, along with the ideals and ideas of how the pro-life movement is trying to changes its image and message while still touting the Bible as their rule of law. Directors Stephen Fell and Will Thompson crossed our nation visiting well over two dozen states and interviewing more than seventy participants in a movement that has been trying for decades to overturn a law they see as mass murder.

I first thought this documentary would be the type which would portray the pro-lifers as crazy wing-nuts shouting out Bible verses and damning everyone to eternal Hell, and yes, there is some of that, but interestingly enough, these directors give actual meaning to the words “fair and balanced,” something FOX News could take a queue from.

The film opens up in a university of which young Christian students are learning how to present their message without the use of guns and bombs, but how do you get people to focus on what nobody really wants to talk about? You all remember the term “shock and awe”? Well, the movement has taken this idea and ran with it. Take a photo of an aborted fetus, blow it up so someone driving down the road could see it and really make it out, and watch how many people stop to talk about it; you would be surprised. This is the next phase the pro-life movement is attempting to use to further what it now likes to call “opening discussions with the other side” and it’s working.

Now what I just told you was one way the pro-lifers are bring up the discussion of abortion, but the college students who are learning how to do this are using their Constitutional rights by expressing these man-sized poster boards as an exhibit which was brought to over a hundred college campuses all around the U.S. Change starts in the open and bold mind of the fresh, young college student who already thinks they can change the world, so presenting these photos was a smart move because it is bringing about a discussion. Be the discussion for or against, just talking about it is the first goal, which is being achieved.

Yet this film doesn’t leave out the loony side, either. They talk to folks like convicted bombers, priests and reverends who preach “an eye for an eye” style of justice, to smalltown pastors who gather up their family and have them along with other volunteers hold up these enlarged photos alongside busy streets and roads in other towns across the nation. The directors let these people speak their minds and you get a much unbiased look into their world.

Even the extras give the viewers a closer look. The directors interviewed a few of the people spotlighted in the film and asked them after these people had previewed the movie, if they thought the directors portrayed them in a fair and just manner. Most said yes, except for the crazy lady who went dumpster-diving to retrieve aborted fetuses so they could take the picture and use them in such ways as they are being used now. We even get a glimpse of the fundraising machine which supports the activities of many different pro-life groups, so this documentary shows you how and why a woman’s right to choose may be a fleeting idea in the decades to come.

Unborn in the USA wasn’t made to offend or persuade. It has no lean to it, no political gain and doesn’t try to sideline the issue with other propaganda from either side. All this documentary does is show how the new tactics of the pro-life movement are chipping away at Roe v. Wade and other laws that have protected the right of a woman for decades. My suggestion, if you are pro-life you may already know what’s going on; if not, watch this and you will. If you are pro-choice, you want to watch this because it will give you the idea on how to keep your end of the fight up and running, for this maybe your only chance.