Friday, January 30, 2009

Ryan Conklin Is Not The Love Guru

In episode four of Real World Brooklyn Ryan Conklin showed that his views on socializing with females are practical and utilitarian. Ryan is not interested in any extra things, like romance and sentimentality. He just wants to focus on everyone having a good time in the simplest way possible.

The episode begins with the news that Scott Herman has gotten the cast invited to a private party. Unfortunately for Ryan, it was expected that everyone should dress nice and Ryan was worried that he didn't have anything suitable to wear. Baya Voce told him he needed to wear a shirt with a collar, which confused Ryan, whose only frame of reference for that manner of dress was going to a golf club.

Ryan has the same approach to his wardrobe that he does for girls. His clothes are for casual times and require low maintenance.

Ryan ConklinRyan settled on wearing his suit. On the way out of the house, raffish Ryan was very impressed with his sensible suit of proletarian brown and gave himself a hearty "bwang!", which is like a "schwing!" but is specifically from getting excited about seeing yourself in clothes that never need ironing.

At the party, Chet saw Scott's model friend Alex, who he had previously met. Chet hoped that he would have the opportunity to get to know her a little more "intimately" that night. Since Chet has stated that he is unwilling to engage in any sort of close or suggestive contact, I'm not sure that he understands what "intimately" means. Later we learn that in the Mormon dialect the term may refer to an act that is something on the way merely to kissing with your eyes open.

Ryan ConklinRyan gave straight forward advice to Chet, saying, "go get her," and "trust me." Chet for some reason didn't appear yet to want to take the advice of a man who accessorized with a taped on, ersatz Snidely Whiplash mustache.

Chet did manage to chat her up and he danced with her for awhile. He thought from that they he might actually have a chance with her. Yes, with giving a girl the opportunity to be on national television he had a chance with her. Oh, it's going to be sad and lonely to be there when the cameras are turned off for good.

Chet did manage to corral a date with Alex and while she and Chet were out together she appeared to enjoy her face time on camera. After the date was over, Chet, somehow flush from his night of heavily bridled passion, talked to Ryan about the evening. Chet talked about his feelings, saying he felt like he had had a really good night. Ryan, on the other hand, wanted to be much more practical in his own assessment of the appointment.

Ryan ConklinRyan astutely told Chet that Chet really couldn't see himself marrying the girl. Chet agreed. Ryan asked then why was Chet wasting his time dating her. Ryan explained that the reason you go on a date with someone is to "try them out" to see if you want to marry them. In other words, it's a casting process to see if the female is suitable to take care of your house, bear your brood, and most importantly, not try to hinder you from having some fun in your life by you getting out of the house and going out with the guys.

My advice to all the Mrs. Conklin-wannabes is that he's just not that into you, but don't take it personal. Ryan Conklin will choose someone for that cameo role someday, but not anytime soon. Still, if you don't mind just taking care of business, and be willing to be the subject of a prank or two, you might be the lucky one to curl his 'stache.

Ryan Conklin

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ryan Conklin Making Music

In episode three of Real World Brooklyn, Ryan Conklin pursued his plan to make a song recording during his time in New York. Because the phone calls and written arrangements between BMP, MTV, music managers and music producers isn't very exciting to watch on television, the show had Ryan and other cast members go to Angels & Kings lounge where he 'happened to' meet manager Doug Newman from Crush Management. From that encounter, he got an appointment to meet with music producer Machine.

On the day of the meeting, Ryan and sidekick Chet Cannon left to go meet Machine. Chet, as amateur life coach and career consultant, gave Ryan the best advice he was capable of: "Play well today. Don't f' it up."

Ryan Real World BrooklynAt the meeting, Machine showed interest in Ryan's experience in Iraq, knowing it could be inspiration for Ryan's music and that it could produce compelling results. He mentioned the movie "We Were Soldiers" as an example of a high-quality, dramatic piece that was inspired by combat.

Machine then said to Ryan, give me one thing that will sell you and endear you to everybody. ("Bring you into me!") Ryan, incredibly, turned to Chet and asked for advice on song selection. Chet, the never-to-be music mogul, picked his own favorite, "The Tampon Song". Apparently, Chet doesn't follow his own advice not to f' it up.

Going along, Ryan felt compelled to explain that the song was written while drinking with army buddies, enjoying a "drunk escapade". Not a song coming from a tragic experience, but rather a song that could create one.

Ryan ConklinRyan sang his song with enthusiasm. You would want to cheer for him, if you were able to block out the subject matter. The bottom line was that the song didn't showcase Ryan's talent as a songwriter and it got in the way of appreciating his vocals.

Machine politely told Ryan that the song was very funny. He also said that Ryan is a cool guy and lovable. In other words, it was the music business equivalent of telling an obese person that at least they have a nice personality. Unfortunately for military loving Machine, he wanted Saving Private Ryan and got Shaving Ryan's Privates. Still, he was very nice about it. Machine's advice was to go build a following (actually accomplished in some way from the airing of the show) and then in the future the sky would be the limit.

It had not turned out the way that Ryan had hoped. He really just wanted to do a demo recording and not present himself yet as being immediately ready for a professional career.

Afterward, Ryan immediately regretted his song choice (and his reliance on Chet for potentially life-altering career advice) and thought he might have had different results with a different song. That might be true on American Idol, but really the situation was not exactly what Ryan thought it was, so any song would have led to the same result and guidance.

Ryan Real World BrooklynNevertheless, Ryan was disappointed and a little embarrassed, but he tried to appear as though nothing was wrong. That night Ryan tried to take his mind off of his disappointment by laying on his bed and editing his manuscript on his war experience. Fellow cast member Baya Voce, eager to know how things had turned out, tried to talk to Ryan about it. He brushed the experience off as being not too important and just the way he thought it would be. That was so sad. You want to cry for Ryan when he won't.

Baya has said that she gets along really well with Ryan, which is totally understandable. Who wouldn't get along with Ryan Conklin? Even a man called "Machine" said he was lovable.

At a club one night, Baya thought she was good enough friends with Ryan to do some playful dirty dancing with him. Concerned with how it would look later to his girlfriend Belle (and because he feels awkward with displays of affection with the ladies), he shut Baya down hard by telling her, "I have a girlfriend."

Whoa, bad move. I hope Ryan learned his lesson. Saying that to a girl is going to be regarded as very offensive. It's a double accusation that a girl is hitting on you and that worse, she is trying to steal some other girl's man. Most females are not going to like that (except for women like Angelina Jolie who would only think, so what?)

At home, Ryan realized that he had done something wrong and while he and Baya were brushing their telegenic teeth, he told her the George Costanza-ish line that he had gotten scared and it wasn't her, it was him. It took holding a large mouthful of spit and toothpaste for him to be able to say that with a straight face.

Ryan ConklinHaving hopped on the lame bus, Ryan tried to make things clearer by writing Baya a strange rambling email. Again concerned with his actions being captured on camera, Ryan decided it would be better to write out his words rather than speak them. The message was edited for the viewers to be nearly incomprehensible but the gist of what was presented appeared to be that he would like to be with Baya if he didn't have someone at home that he was afraid to piss off. That didn't make his relationship with Belle sound so good.

When Baya read the note she had trouble understanding it. One, because as Ryan later admitted he had been under the influence when he wrote it, and two, because straight boys should only write things like memoirs about fighting in Iraq, not notes on love or relationships. If they need to do the latter, they should just copy from Hallmark.

By the way, when I think of the name Baya (Spanish for 'berry') I think of the exclamation of "Bailamos!" from the song with that title. In Spanish the word means 'we dance', which fits well with a dancer like Baya. Maybe Ryan could get some song writing inspiration from a name like Baya Voce to make his own signature Babalu. A thought, use it as you will.

Ryan ConklinLooking for a way to bump and grind his troubles away, Ryan went with the girls to a pole dancing class. At the class, he stretched, he danced, he undulated. He enjoyed himself, although he appeared a bit pained when he had to lay on his back, throw his legs in the air and spread them wide. What would you expect from a guy that's a top?

He showed another of his many talents when he humped the pole. Seeing the clip of it, you have to think, now that's a demo tape. It wouldn't get him the career he wanted, but it would at least be a start in the entertainment business.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ryan Conklin Comes Out

In episode two of The Real World Brooklyn, Ryan Conklin showed his interest in socializing with some of the other 2% of the population. He was eager to take a walk on the wild side, by making his first visit to a gay bar.

Some of the housemates had agreed to go out one night, and JD Ordonez suggested that they leave Brooklyn and go into the city to a bar in Chelsea. Ryan learned from a friend that the district is known for containing concentrated gayness. He let his roommate Chet Cannon know, but in the process showed his lack of knowledge of the gay social scene and the Chelsea area in particular. Ryan said that the men at the bar would eat Chet up the way Chet was dressed, and that people in the area were all into S/M and wearing assless chaps.

Ryan ConklinMaybe the patrons at a gay retiree bar might consider eating up Chet the way he looks and dresses, but I have to believe anywhere else they would just spit him out. I did find it adorable that Ryan, after having just stated his belief that there would be assless chaps, said excitedly, "I'm going! I'm down for different things!" That's good to know. Some guys might be wishing he were down with being in a bromance with them - you know, with benefits.

Ryan is straight, so I won't claim that he was making Freudian comments when he said why he was going. "Dude, that's why I'm coming! Because I've never been around that kind of stuff, so I'm trying to expose myself!" Dude, wait on the exposing until you're on the dance platform, and then only if you think the tip will be worth it.

Ryan Real World BrooklynEntering the bar, Ryan said to Chet what most guys in that situation do. "I'm nervous. Pretend you're my boyfriend." Interestingly, it didn't seem to be a stretch for Chet to pretend that.

Like Alice, having then fallen down the rabbit hole, Ryan Conklin needed something to drink to carry on. After lubricating himself with alcohol, he looked around in wonderment. Seeing a drag queen perform and lots of men making out, he regarded it all as curiouser and curiouser.

To have some fun, JD then told Ryan he would give him $100 if Ryan would dance with the drag diva, Peppermint. Ryan was well intoxicated and agreed to the bargain. Under the spotlight, and being the center of attention at the bar, Ryan felt understandably awkward and embarrassed, but tried to be a good sport about it. Peppermint then changed the deal to be Ryan giving her a kiss on the cheek instead. Good-natured Ryan went along with the revision. As Ryan prepped himself to plant the kiss, Peppermint counted to three. Suddenly Peppermint turned and gave Ryan a big ol' surprise kiss on the lips. Apparently, the shocked and soused Ryan took a dislike to the taste of the gloss and/or the thick layers of lipstick and immediately and repeatedly wiped his lips. Whatever it was he came in contact with, Ryan frantically wanted to wash it off with a lot of soap and water.

Ryan Real World BrooklynLeaving the bar, Ryan was so drunk that he could barely walk. Understandably, when he got back to the house he had to throw up. Afterward he walked in on JD, Sarah Rice and Devyn Simone, and wearing a t-shirt and boxers, laid backward on Sarah. JD copped a good feel of Ryan's chest, while asking him the odd question of whether Ryan believed that he would have thrown up after coming home (seeing double) from a straight bar rather than a gay one. Bewildered, Ryan replied no. Devyn then correctly pointed out that he wouldn't have drunk so much in a straight bar because the girls there wouldn't have bought as many drinks for him as his discerning admirers at the gay bar would.

By the way, some smart (and necessarily good-looking) straight boys have already discovered that starting their evening at a gay bar is a good way to score some free drinks and some entertaining conversations. Give it a try.

Anyway, it was a cool bonding moment between JD and Ryan. JD in confessional stated he felt that, contrary to first impression, Ryan seemed more "open-minded" (i.e. a good guy).

Ryan ConklinThere could have been friction between the two, in asserting a dominant role in the male social hierarchy in the house. JD had a natural advantage for the top spot as Chet found out when he discovered that JD had possession of Magnum condoms, which indicated by association that JD had an extra large penis. Chet was rightfully in awe of the physical manifestation of JD's manhood and told JD in front of Ryan, "Make us proud," as JD sashayed across the room. JD was literally the c@ck of the walk, projecting his preeminence.

To keep all of the guys on the same level, Ryan sounded the alarm (as in an alarm clock). He made it seem like it was a phone ringer or door buzzer and had JD running through the house and out of it looking for the cause. Apparently all the blood and nutrients required by that extra large penis didn't leave much for the brain cells. JD was let in on the joke and with the gaiety of the prank was gently brought back down into the peer group.

There wasn't such a nice set of stories regarding Ryan's best friend in the house, Chet.

Ryan ConklinFirst, Scott Herman and JD noticed that there was a banana wrapped in a condom in the fish tank. Ryan, a believer in cleanliness and tasteful decor, ruefully said, "Way to make everything look trashy here." JD, due to the size of the condom, immediately wondered if the condom was his.

JD noticed that his backpack and drawers had been opened, and he complained to Devyn that he suspected that Chet had done it. The house meet to discuss Chet rummaging through JD's things and they elected Sarah to discuss it with Chet. Sarah bravely agreed to do it, considering that Chet creates the appearance of someone who is substantially mentally disturbed under his somewhat creepy outward eccentricity. She talked to Chet, who wasn't happy about it. He denied the charge, but probably lied to her and then again to JD, saying he didn't do it.

Later, Chet's family came for a visit. The blond brood appeared to the product of a Mormon eugenics and large scale breeding program. Unfortunately, mixing genes can cause some unintended consequences, like maybe turning on a gene for sociopathic behavior. During the visit it was said that Chet was thrown out of his fraternity for setting someone's hair on fire. Let me mention the definition of antisocial personality disorder from the APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and leave it at that: "The essential feature for the diagnosis is a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."

At the end of the episode, JD went out by himself and came back home wasted. He told a tale of going into a store to purchase Chapstick where the clerk could not understand what he was requesting. The way he told the story was rather humorous. I like JD so much better when he has been drinking. The moment was ruined however when Chet came upon the scene and tried to take advantage of JD's state by trying to pick a fight. Chet's soulless and glassy-eyed stare as he confronted JD was pretty scary but the argument was broken up by the roommates and JD was taken off to bed. Fortunately, with the cameramen present the roommates didn't have to sleep behind locked doors or with one of them staying awake as guard while Chet was in the house. Their hair and lives were safe.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Stars of Real World: Brooklyn

Ryan Conklin Real WorldIn the 21st incarnation of The Real World, the first episode showed that eight, not seven, roommates would be moving into the "house" in the host borough of Brooklyn. However, even from the very first minutes, it was was clear that the season would actually be about the two leads, Ryan Conklin and Katelynn Cusanelli, and one supporting character, Chet Cannon. Then there are five extras that appear in order to support the understanding of the main characters and to provide various meaningless subplots.

Between the two leads, the top billing would have to go to Ryan. He says, when we are first introduced to him, that "I like to think I can figure anyone out in the first five minutes of knowing them. Guaranteed." Well, what makes him the lead, and the most interesting character (of this season and maybe any other), is that you can't figure him out in five minutes. There's clearly a lot to him and it's going to take a full season to get a grasp on who this engaging person really is.

Ryan Conklin Real World BrooklynRyan is humorous and lighthearted, but also bright and very articulate. He likes to analyze his roommates and from that he is able to make accurate discoveries of who they are before the others do. (Analyzing personalities makes him a man of my own heart so I got to love that.)

Some of the things he figures out is that Katelynn is transgendered and that roommate J.D. Ordonez is gay. Ryan is not aware of any gay or transgendered people in his hometown of Gettysburg, so he is deeply interested in learning more about LGBT people. (Note to the gay people of Gettysburg: your assignment is to go introduce yourself to Ryan. Maybe not all at once but perhaps a dozen or so at a time.)

What the other roommates didn't discover about Ryan until he told them was that he spent over three years in the Army, including a year in Iraq. He didn't divulge it right away because he didn't want the other cast members to prejudge him as a "military goon" or a veteran that "has problems." But after awhile he let them know that he had joined the Army when he was 17, having been inspired by the events of 9/11. So from this the viewer can see that in addition to the other traits mentioned, he is also idealistic and patriotic, although he tempers it with rationality and realism as he didn't always agree with the conduct of the war.

Ryan Conklin Real World BrooklynDespite the maturity needed to go off and fight, it's clear that Ryan is still a kid at heart. One wonders, how does a kid handle that kind of experience, that kind of responsibility? You would think it would have to have some kind of lingering effect. Ryan stated he is able to transition from Iraq to being home like turning off a light switch and that his miracle cure is to push the thoughts out of his mind and onto paper in a 300 page manuscript that he has written about his time in Iraq. Hopefully things are as smooth as he says they are, but if not, it will be compelling to find out what more Ryan has to relate about his time in the military.

For his goal on what he what's to accomplish during his time in Brooklyn, Ryan decided he wants to pursue recording songs that he has written. At Chet's prompting, Ryan sang a song about Iraq, which actually was pretty nice, although the vocals were rough enough to warrant a vocal coach. The lyrics were good in that song, but maybe not so good in some other songs he has written. He should probably consider a good lyricist partner.

Ryan's best trait: the expressiveness in his face. You can tell exactly what he's feeling in a given situation without waiting for a later confessional to explain it.

Chet CannonRyan's roommate in the "Grand Army" bedroom is Chet, who Ryan sang the Iraq song to while sitting together in a decorative boat. Chet appreciates Ryan and his talents and tells Ryan in typical straight boy banter, "I could sail away with you any day." (Ryan, ditto!!)

There was a little confusion about Chet's orientation at first. There were several unusual things about Chet that made people, including Ryan, think that he was gay, but come to find out he was just Mormon.

Chet himself can't tell who actually is gay. He didn't realize JD Ordonez was gay (maybe because compared to Chet's own flamboyancy, everyone else appears straight as an arrow.) Speaking of appearances, seeing J.D. wearing a deep V-neck shirt made me realize that he and I are getting off on the wrong foot. J.D. is one of the gay men in this country that still hasn't gotten the memo on how retarded it looks. Men do not look good with a plunging neckline and unless you have moobs, there is nothing to reveal with it, not that you would want to.

J.D. OrdonezWhat J.D. should stick with is a wetsuit like he uses as a dolphin and whale trainer. I get a little wet in my suit when I see a muscular little guy in such a tight fitting body outfit.

J.D. takes a special interest in Katelynn because he realizes that she is transgendered and so he sees them both as being different than the other members of the cast. Actually the commonality is how bad they dress, but that wasn't how J.D. saw it.

Ryan was the first to say aloud that he believed Katelynn was transgendered. I don't think I would have known. I only look for the adam's apple and since she had hers fixed, I think I would be thinking she was always female. Maybe once in a certain light and with a certain facial expression I could see a hint of boyishness. Ryan was looking much harder, looking for Katelynn's genitals, but Chet called him out for it. As mentioned before, Ryan's an inquisitive fellow.

Ryan conklinJ.D. decided that he wanted to take Katelynn to dinner to get her to come out to him. This displeased Ryan as he was very interested in knowing Katelynn and JD better and he really would have liked to have gone to dinner with them. In telling J.D. that he wasn't happy that the two of them were going by themselves, Ryan at least got J.D. to acknowledge that J.D. is gay. In the dailies, Ryan also asks JD if JD is attracted to him. JD says no, although you don't know if he was just saying that because he thought that would be best. I thought about what I would say if I had been asked such a thing by Ryan. I think I would say, "If you mean, do I want to have your love child, yes, but since I obviously can't, we should both just forget about trying."

Ryan counseled J.D. not to talk to Katelynn about the transgender issue until she was ready, but J.D. felt he knew best. I agree with Ryan that people shouldn't pry into other people's business. Here I quote from's article by Japhy Grant ("Gayest. Real World. Ever."), which expressed very well my own view. "You can tell J.D.'s spent a lot of time in therapy, as he has the lingo down pat and, frankly, in the first episode he comes off as kind of a prick. From the get-go he realizes Katelynn is transgendered (because he you know, has eyes) and decides that what he needs to do is take her out to dinner and make her come out to him. We can see why the Coop no longer dates a guy whose first impulse when he meets someone is to get them to divulge their personal secrets, but whatever."