Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7/18--Hometown Harmony

This is Why I Get the Big Money, Kids!
It figures that with a season as depressing, mopey, and dour as this one, that we would get hometown dates that went swimmingly well. While the rest of Ashley's season as the Bachelorette has been about as interesting and fun as touring a landfill, the hometowns came off without a hitch. It was all smelling like roses, or bittersweet persimmons anyway, as Ashley finally gave up trying to ruin the Asian tourist trade and returned to the States to jaunt around and meet the families of the four guys she has left. And since Harrison had a bottle of scotch and an "important commitment" (see photo); Ashley starts us off with a look inside her very modest student apartment while she packs and recaps the guys for us. There are zero surprises as she highlights the men's strengths and we also see that Ashley fills another important qualification to be the Bachelorette: she has a piece of shit little dog. Now that's different.

My Big Fat Greek Family

Cumming, Ga.--First up is the twin brother of Vino Ben: Constantine Hercules, a guy way too normal for this show. Constantine, who hails from the Deep South, is Greek, but he happens to own an Italian Restaurant from some reason. I seem to remember that DeAnna, who is also Greek, came from the same part of Georgia. I wonder if there may be an enclave. Anyway, he meets Ashley by a lake in a park and they canoodle around on a park bench before Constantine takes her to his restaurant for some free advertising. They go to Giorgio's (Named after...Uncle Georgia?) and he guides her into the kitchen and they make a pizza. Stacking a pie with various ingredients, he fills his hands with mozzarella, looks at Ashley (but probably said to the director) "Is this cheesy enough?" Oh, you know it is, Dino. Once they're done, he takes her to the outside portion of the dining area so the restaurant waitresses can crowd around the window, ignore any other customers, and "ohh", and "aahh". The commercial over, its now over to mom and dads to meet the family. Awaiting them are Constantine's father, Dmitri, his MILFY mamma, Eleni, and his major league hottie sister, Maria. Mamma Eleni cuts straight to the chase and hauls Ashley aside and asks the big question: Since Constantine is a restauranteur and a local boy, would Ashley be willing to relocate? Ashley, smiling happily, assures mamma that in the one in a million chance she actually falls in love with her son, she'll be happy to relocate to Georgia, or frozen hell, whichever. Pleased, mama praises Ashley in a PI, and for some reason I'm surprised when I hear the Georgia twang from the Greek mama. I won't have that problem once daddy Dmitri gets going. Sounding like Zorba the Greek, pops tells Constantine to simmer down, and not to rush. Pops is solid. So is mom, and sis is hot. Great family. After dinner, when they get up to leave, the director cues the 4,000 Greeks they've had stashed in the garage and in comes My Big Fat Huge-Assed Greek Family. The living room is suddenly filled to bursting with every aunt, uncle, granny, and kiddie Greek you can imagine; they may have even borrowed a few of DeAnna's army of relatives, because if they didn't, Greeks must now make up the ethnic majority in Georgia. They spontaneously start Greek dancing, since its a well known fact that no more than 4 Greeks can get within 10 feet of one another without being require to dance and shout "Opa!" A fat uncle tosses cash everywhere as Ashley the dancer joins in and merry is had by all. Some 4 year-old Greek relative, showing wisdom beyond her years, stops dancing and collects the floating cash while Ashley parades around and is made an "Honorary Greek." Ashley and Constantine finally depart about 5 feet out onto the driveway, so half of the 4,000 Greeks can watch them share a tepid peck from the door and shout "Opa!" once more. Ashley gushes to the camera, "I've fallen in love with Constantine's family!" Ehh, Constantine not so much though. Date over.

The Eraser Head Goes for Broke and Comes Up Empty

Chadds Ford, Pa.--Yep, nothing snotty about that name of that town. Its on to the succulent meadows and meandering golf courses of Rich People, Pennsylvania; home of Ivy League Overeducated Finance 'bot, Eraser Head Ames; a guy who has grown on me as this season has progressed. I expected Ames to be from Money, how could he not be? And I wasn't disappointed either. As Ashley pulls up in this beautiful region, we see Ames throw us a curveball, however. Used to seeing him dressed like a yacht captain or a circus clown, Ames has raided Constantine's closet on the way out of Asia and goes for the rugged lumberjack look of flannel and jeans. Trying to show some macho, Ames waits on her and when she gets out of the SUV he jogs over and he, he....well,....that looked a bit gay there, Ames. Well not gay really, just a touch effeminate, especially with the baby blue boxers exploding out from around your waistband. C'mon son, I'm trying to cut ya a break here and you're not helping. Anyway, Ashley, transparent as ever, hugs him like what he is: a friend she kept around because he was a nice guy and fun to talk to. That's all. She had thrown the friend card down on him from the first night. Awaiting them is Ames' family: mother Jane, sister Serena, and his brother, Jim. The family senses Ames is in over his head almost at once. Sister Serena, immediately tells us she sees a light in Ames' eyes that lets her know he is thrilled, but sees nothing coming from Ashley. She sits her down and Ashley, to her credit, basically tells sis there is nothing between her and Ames without too much polite obfuscation. "Our relationship has developed much slower than the others." Sis nods and goes to find her brother. She tells him what Ashley said and tell him he better get moving if he wants a chance. Ames nods, and with his baby blue boxers sticking out everywhere, he takes Ashley to a magnolia tree in a beautiful park. The baby blues safely stashed behind denim, they sit among the soft falling petals of the magnolia with wine, brie, and caviar and Ames goes all poetic and starts saying outrageously smart things again. "I want Italian love. The Italians love ordinary love; they see the extraordinary in the ordinary." Ames lets us know he lost both father and stepfather and went to high school at a boarding school (surprise!) and was basically a very unpopular nerd. Ashley looks like she wants to hug him and whisper, "Sorry!" Firing his last bolt, Ames takes her for a horse and carriage ride along the Brandywine and still nothing. Shame, really. Date over.

A Family Still Reeling

Sonoma, Ca. Now that Ames is about to be dispensed, its obvious that unless something else goes tragically wrong from here on out, that Harrison, if he finishes with Minnie Mouse and the scotch, should just go ahead and be a no-show at the Rose Ceremony as well. But the visits continue anyway, and that means its time for Ashley the Former Lush to visit her dream area of North America: Wine Country. Sonoma, California, home of the first of the two fan-favorites, Vino Ben, is her next target. Ben greets her at his vineyard and they tour the fields and stop off at his wine storgage barn to taste the goods. Ashley, who was more drunk last season than any serious contender I've seen, must have gotten a load of herself on TV, remembered her alcoholic father living in the cardboard box, and called a halt. She has barely sipped anything this season, and has never looked even buzzed. That trend continues here, as she and Ben sip his vino but barely wet their lips. As rain falls, they crowd up on somebody's front porch and thus begins a series of pretty damn serious discussion, most of them centering around Ben and his passed away father. Ashley's eyes pop when she hears that she is only the second girl to meet his mom, and the "commitment phobe" red flags fly up her lanyard like a Hurricane Warning. Ben explains his insular nature since his father's death and Ashley asks tough--but fair--questions. Ben's explanations are given life when they go to meet his family. Greeting them nervously are his mom and sister, Julia; who looks a ton like last season's mortician-hottie, Shawntel Munster. Yum. But it turns out sis is one tough cookie. They never say if she is Ben's older or younger sister, but she sure acts like an older one. Sis expreses her doubts and even has a private get down with her brother, questioning the wisdom of this whole thing. Mom shows some pictures of her kids while she and Ashley talk about her passed husband and the effect it had on Ben and his sister. Truthfully, the most illuminating thing on the whole date was Ben's talk with his mother, where he apologizes for going AWOL on her and his sister when dad died. Its a good moment for the family, but I'm not sure its a great one for Ben and Ashley. The thing whole thing, pleasant and of a healing nature though it was, was loaded with potential red flags. Ben acts eaten up by guilt about how he acted and it would have been easy for Ashley to read some of his comments as being told she would always come behind mom and sis in his eyes. The date ends with Ben crying in a private interview about his father, but he's saved the pussy label because he cried about one of the few exemptions written into the International Mancode; crying about your passed father. Date over.

J.P.'s Terrified Family

Roslyn, N.Y.--Man; I'd love to know just what happened to J.P when his last relationship ended. In all the seasons I've watched this show, I've never seen a family more terrified that their guy is gonna' get dumped; and all of them finished every terrified cringe with the remark "...like happened last time!" Wow, J.P. The Human Grenade. But before we can get to their terrorfest, J.P. meets Ashley on Long Island near a duck pond and takes her to the roller rink. As they skate up, Ashley lets us know that she roller blades and figure skates, but is nervous about being on roller skates? Ok. Anyway, both she and J.P make it around the rink in apparent silence, while we at home are bombarded by Kevin Cronin and REO Speedwagon and their 30-year High School reunion favorite, I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore. How do I know this? Because the second J.P. takes a spill, the music abruptly stopped. How cheesy. They leave the rink with kisses all around and head over to the meet the Bomb Squad J.P's family. Dad Peter, who must be a mute, Mom Ilene, Brother Roy and his girlfriend, Andrea smile and greet them before things turn serious. Mom Ilene is the first to get breathless with fear. She sits her son down and does the 'ol "...like last time!" bit. J.P. assures her that he and Ashley have a deeper connection than she does with anyone else. Ashley moves into mom's terror seat and Mom trembles that J.P might get dumped. We never see what Ashley actually says to mom, but her fears are instantly allayed. Meanwhile, brother Roy is cringing in a sit down with his brother. "I'm afraid...like last time!" J.P assures him he is ready to get hurt if necessary while in the other room mom looks ready to throw a party and dad sits in his chair like a big lump. Ashley and J.P. talk and Ashley does express concern about why its been so long since J.P has been in a serious relationship since he's so old. Ouch! J.P just grins and shrugs again. Finally mom, now euphoric, whips out a huge framed photo of J.P.'s bar mitzvah that J.P. himself accurately pegs as looking like "Kirk Cameron." Date over

Cocktail Party
I see the wingman managed to shake loose from Minnie Mouse and he greets Ashley at the Bachelor Mansion and good lord, Ashley looks good in a supertight black dress. Wow, her best look of the season. They sit down and Ashley praises Constantine's family "best hometown by far!" and generally recaps what we just saw without a hiccup. Harrison bolts for the open door as she stands to deliberate and there is no sign of indecision this time.
Harrison and the boys wait in the next room and the only thing that looks different is Ben's hair. Obviously feeling penitent to mom, who had ragged his stringy locks at home, Ben has gotten a haircut, but I'm sure I like it any better than my wife did.

1) Vino Ben--maybe red flags or not. Or a good setup as the next Bachelor. We'll see.

2) J.P. The Human...the Skinhead--I better watch myself or his legions of wild-eyed female fans will lynch me.

Wingman: Ashley, gentleman, it's the last rise of the night. Ames, you are a unique person. I'll see you on Bachelor Pad, and I was NOT with Minnie Mouse!

3) Constantine Hercules--ho hum. "Is that rose for me? Really? I barely noticed."

Dumped: Eraser Head Ames, aw, damn, what a shame. Poor Ames starts looking around like Sunny Ryan popped out from behind a drape and punched him in the noggin again. The guy is stunned, and in a millisecond you can see the horrifying memories of being a nerd in a boarding school and the nightmare of a thousand wedgies come over his face. But maintaining his cool, Ames pastes his perma-grin on, and tries to wink at Ashley. She walks him out and he maintains the class, "You are an exceptional person," shakes her hand and gets into the limo. The guy is just crushed. Can't get mad at Ashley; there was just nothing there, but it's a shame. I'm sure there is a lot of sweetness being sent out to Ames, but most of the women I've spoken to about the guy like him like Ashley did; he's just not alpha male enough.
Although I've stayed away from the blizzard of spoilers on the net about Ashley's season, I have looked at the Bachelor Pad spoilers to see if I want to blog about this year. And lo and behold, who is there, but the Eraser Head. And according to what I saw, Ames gets himself a hook up, and damn if he doesn't seal the deal in true Ames fashion. Sally forth, Good Eraser Head and take not counsel of your boarding school fears, and when you're done plying her with you cultural erudition and poetry, how about knockin' the bottom of that a few times for your old redbeard. Remember, your Captain believes in you.

Next week: Off to Fiji for the Fantasy Dates. See ya then.

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