More Celebrities Competing, Now They're Swapping Wives; Guest Writer Michelle Overhauls Her Aquarium

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ABC's had celebrities dancing for quite a few years on Dancing With the Stars.. Donald Trump converted his Apprentice series to Celebrity Apprentice to reinvigorated success. Over on Food Network they've got celebrities cooking.

Now we've got celebrities swapping wives and it's not like it sounds.

Actually, the show about swapping wives has been aired in the past and I did a review on it.

ABC took that older show concept only inserted celebrities into the mix. I must suppose that adding more well known personages to the drama helps bring up audience interest. In most cases the celebrities are competing to earn monies for a charity so there's the humanitarian aspect of it for additional appeal.

The concept of the Wife Swap series is an interesting one and does make a good use of an hour if one also crochets during the time. As the title suggests, two families swap wives for a week. The new wife, at first, joins the house of her hosts and is given a set of household "rules" loosely followed by the hosting family. She lives in the house of her hosts for a couple of days, meeting the husband, of course, and all the children of the hosting family. ABC provides an example of such host wife's rules, HERE.

ABC also provided a short video synopsis of the first episode of the series.

During this intro period the viewer, if the viewer has a brain, hones in on the problems of the hosting families. There is also little vignettes given by the guest wife that summarize her observations and her possible changes to come.

At some point the guest wife is allowed to change all the household rules as left by the host wife (who is the GUEST wife at the swapped house, keep this in mind) and insert her own household rules.

From the ABC web site for this series:

In this new series, the mothers in two celebrity families with vastly diverse values switch homes (but not bedrooms) -- embarking on a journey like no other and revealing the various ways some controversial celebrities live their lives. The two moms are given the chance to see how another celebrity raises their children and deals with life in the spotlight, while allowing both couples the opportunity to re-discover why they love each other and decided to get together in the first place. It's a mind-blowing experiment that will change their lives forever.

In each of the five one-hour episodes, two mothers with very different types of households swap lifestyles and children in a week-long challenge. In the first part of the swap, each mom moves into the other's home and adopts their new celebrity family's lifestyle, no matter how different it may be. They agree to follow a manual written by the departing mother that sets out the rules of their new household - how they parent, manage their social life, do house work, unwind and more.

In the second half of the week, everything changes. The new moms take charge. They introduce their own set of rules and get to run the new household their way. It's a radical shock to both celebrity families. The results are explosive, enlightening, emotional and often very funny.

On the Celebrity Wife Swap episode aired on 1/3/12, the celebrities swapping wives were Ted Haggard and Gary Busey.

Let us begin with the smile of having Gary Busey as part of any reality series. And, in fact, it wasn't that long ago that Busey was a contender on Celebrity Apprentice. I remember well Busey's brand of craziness and the havoc his presence often brought to the challenges.

Busey's second appearance as a reality star contender also causes me to stop and ponder...could appearing on these "celebrity" type of events become, de factor, a "career" for the contenders, a new way to earn fame and fortune, to eventually be a replacement for the original career of note that got them a spot on the venue?

This combination of host/guest swap was, indeed, quite intriguing, bound to raise curiosity.

Ted Haggard is a famous evangelist leader who fell into great scandal as a result of an alleged homosexual prostitute who said Haggard not only had a sexual relationship with him but he also shared drugs with him. The story gets murky as Ted did admit to sharing the drugs but never fessed up to the homosexual relationship. Haggard is married, of course as his wife Gayle was part of the swap. He also has five children. The status of Haggard's sexuality will be forever unclear as why would the homosexual prostitute charge an affair, what could be in such a charge for him?

As best I can figure there was some sort of proof re the drug deal, perhaps a photo, but there was no proof re the homosexual relationship so Haggard denied it. Haggard confessed to the drug charges but that's all.

Busey, on the other hand, lives with his "wife" of this swap as they feel no need to get married. The have one toddler boy.

As Busey's significant other learned during her stay at the Haggard house, the Haggard children were quite shocked by the charges against their father. Haggard, who resigned from his position at the break of the scandal, has started another church as told during this episode. His children felt left out as Ted undertook the burden of his ministry.

Over at the Busey house, Gayle felt that there needed to be more of a dose of physical activity, that Gary needed to get more comfortable interacting with his young son.

At this show goes, the offenders realized the error of their ways/the families reunite, happiness reigns and everyone goes off into the sunset to live happily ever after.

Celebrity Wife Swap airs on ABC, Tuesday nights at 10 pm. Future celebrities scheduled for swap include:

* TRACEY GOLD, actress, formerly of "Growing Pains," and CARNIE WILSON, singer/actress/TV host.

* GARY BUSEY, Academy Award-nominated actor for "The Buddy Holly Story" and TED HAGGARD, Evangelical pastor.

* FLAVOR FLAV, world renowned rapper, and DEE SNIDER, rock star.

* NIECY NASH, actress/comedienne, and TINA YOTHERS, rocker and actress, formerly of "Family Ties."

* MICK FOLEY, professional wrestler/writer, and ANTONIO SABATO JR., actor/model.

Drivel: Aquarium Renovation

We have begun another journey.

The 125-gallon aquarium gracing our living room had been a saltwater reef tank since 2004 when we took it apart in late February of last year and converted it to freshwater. That was a hard decision, but we had hopes of making a beautiful planted tank out of it. The fish weren't as colorful and the other "stuff" in the tank wasn't as exotic, but the monetary drain would stop and it would still look good.

At least, that was the plan.

This January, almost a year later, I have finally given up on that dream. The planted tank remained brown. The water had a brown tinge to it we couldn't get rid of. The plants - when they didn't just die -had brown edges. And while the tetras weren't brown, you couldn't see them very well through the brown water. We were still battling pH and kH and losing the war.

So last weekend we emptied the tank of fish. Every tetra which had survived the alkali soup - some of them for almost a year! - went back to a pet shop. Catching them was difficult, as we did not drain the tank. We had a plan, but needed more time to execute it than one afternoon, so we left the water and substrate in the aquarium for awhile.

Fish, plants, and driftwood all came out.

For a week, the aquarium bubbled along, empty of life save a few confused snails.

On Saturday, we took the rest of the stuff out. We removed the black planted aquarium substrate. Surprisingly, it was working; there was no smell at all. Not decaying plant, nor fishy leftovers. We gave all of it to the front garden.

We drained the aquarium of water. Every bit of tainted brown water came out. Harry used a shop vac to get the last bits of substrate and water from both the tank and the sump, which is a 30-gallon aquarium hidden below the aquarium, in the stand.

After that, the magic began.

Bit by bit, piece by piece, we set the aquarium back up. First, standard aquarium gravel in earth tones. Next, a four-foot piece of Astroturf, which had been soaking in our tub for several days to rinse off any possibly harmful residues. Then, new dividers meant to look like wooden walls and the big rocks from the old setup, followed by massive amounts of fake plants.

Fake wooden walls don't sweat brown tint into the water. Fake plants can't die.

When the dividers, rocks and plants were just so, we added our finishing touches. Completed, we stepped back and admired our new aquarium setup - a golf course, surrounded by jungle.

Everything set for a few hours, and then we filled the tank with water using the fancy gadget we bought awhile ago to do water changes. (For the technically inclined, it's either a reverse osmosis or a de-ionizing machine and I can never remember which.)

The aquarium took hours to fill, but when it was done . . . paradise.

We aren't done with the journey yet, though, because no fish can go in for about a week. The temperature has to come up to the desired level (it started at 63.8 and has reached 72.3 as of today), I have to test for all those fishy things, and we need to double-check that everything is working first. We're hoping to get fish for it this weekend.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the new setup and feel like the aquarium is the masterpiece of the living room once again. It's been a long time coming.


The Desk Drawer writer's exercise list

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