<HTML><HEAD><TITLE>Thoughts of Miss Universe 2014</TITLE> <META http-equiv=Content-Type content="text/html; charset=windows-1252"> <META content="MSHTML 6.00.2800.1106" name=GENERATOR></HEAD> <BODY vLink=#800080 link=#111999 bgColor=#360353><FONT color=#E2BEF6 size=4> <P align=center><BR><BR>THOUGHTS OF MISS UNIVERSE</P></FONT><FONT color=#ffffff size=6> <P align=center>2014/15</P></FONT><FONT color=#E2BEF6 size=4><FONT face=Verdana> <P ALIGN="CENTER"><FONT color=#E2BEF6 size=3> <BR><IMG SRC="uni14win6.jpg"><IMG SRC="uni1458.jpg"><BR> The world's finest coffee land and the land of passions and emeralds and victoric orchids has waited almost 57 years for this moment and it has finally come. Colombia has finally won its second Miss Universe crown after many years placing as a runner-up and also having many semifinalists. Colombia had an exciting run from 1992 to 1994 placing as 1st runner up for 3 consecutive years which no other country has done in Miss Universe history. They also placed as 1st runner up in 2008. Now, Paulina Vega Dieppa joins the sisterhood of Miss Universe winners like Colombia's first Miss Universe crowned in 1958, Luz Marina Zuluaga. In pageants past, we were told that Luz Marina was famously given a mansion and declared tax exempt for life and even had stamps issued of her so will the same rewards be in store for Paulina? This also marks the first time in history that a paternal last name is shared by two Miss Universe titleholders. Paulina's paternal last name (Vega) is also the paternal last name of Miss Universe 2003, Amelia Vega of the Dominican Republic. <BR><BR> This 63rd Miss Universe pageant was the first Miss Universe pageant to be 3 hours in length. Prior to 1972, the pageants were 90 minutes in length or under and from 1972 to 2013, each pageant was 2 hours in length including commercials. I thought there might be a top 20 like there was in 2006 but they actually reduced it from a top 16 last year to a top 15 and they was no semifinalist selected via the Internet this year. This year's pageant was also not held in the calendar year of 2014 which also wrecked the historic timeline of this pageant and is the cause of some speculation that 2014 might end up being skipped altogether and there might not be a catch-up year like Miss America did in 2013 after not holding a Miss America pageant in 2005. I thought they would be careful to not mention what year this was during the telecast. But, lo and behold, right at the beginning, one of the performers from the opening La Linea band prior to the delegate introductions declared this Miss Universe 2015. He probably didn't even realize this is actually supposed to be Miss Universe 2014. Another reason I think next year's pageant will probably be in January again was because the ratings for this Miss Universe pageant were excellent. It was the highest rated show of that Sunday night, January 25 and Miss Universe had its best ratings this year since 2006 so they may have found that the awards season would be an appropriate time of year to hold Miss Universe as the 2013 pageant held on a Saturday in November. I think there has been a lot of shuffling of the months that Miss Universe has been held in to find the best time to hold Miss Universe but they may have sacrificed history and the year 2014 in the attempt. <BR><BR> So this also begs the question. Should the Miss Universe title have been kept post-dated all along? The first official Miss Universes of the 1950s all had post-dated titles like the Miss America pageant. For example, Miss Universe 1952, Armi Kuusela of Finland won her crown in 1952 but her title at the time was Miss Universe 1953 and her sash also read Miss Universe 1953. I'm actually unclear what title Akiko Kojima held at the time (whether she was named Miss Universe 1959 or 1960 at the time) but I know for sure Luz Marina Zuluaga when she won in 1958 was actually named Miss Universe 1959 but Linda Bement was named Miss Universe 1960 and since then the titleholders kept the year they were crowned in rather than the next year in their official title. <IMG alt="Armi Kuusela of Finland was crowned the first official Miss Universe and her sash says 1953 although she was crowned in 1952" hspace=12 src="14prefin52.jpg" align=left><IMG alt="Venezuela's Marena Bencomo, 1st Runner Up to Miss Universe 1997 looks as USA's Brook Lee reacts to being named Miss Univers 1997 in Miami" hspace=12 src="97reacts.jpg" align=right> We learned about this setback in September 2014 when after rumored venues such as Fortaleza, Brazil or what was hoped to be the Philippines since they hosted in 1974 and 1994 so this pageant would have completed a now broken 20 year chain of them hosting the Miss Universe pageant, that we would return to the area of Miami, Florida which last hosted the pageant in 1997. They also hosted from 1960 to 1971 as well as 1984 and 1985. Yet, another year hosted in the U.S.A. seems to indicate that it is a struggle to get an international venue to pay the hosting fee and secure a venue for the pageant. I don't think there will be a second Miss Universe pageant in 2015 to immediately catch up. There may be a long wait period if we ever do catch up just like the Miss America pageant experienced. The Miss America pageant had normally post-dated its title when Alabama's Deidre Downs was crowned Miss America 2005 winning her crown in September 2004 but the 2006 Miss America pageant was actually held in 2006 in the month of January after it was dropped from the ABC network and was shown on cable network CMT and Oklahoma's Jennifer Berry won her title Miss America 2006 in the actual year 2006 making 2005 a year without a Miss America pageant much like 2014 became a year without a Miss Universe pageant. The Miss America pageant struggled to find a network home during those years. 2007 was on CMT, 2008-2010 were on TLC, In 2011, Miss America found itself back on ABC but since then the pageant has been a paid presentation so the Miss America organization has to pay ABC to air the pageant. Miss America didn't go back to having a post-dated title until 2013 when New York's Mallory Hagan won Miss America 2013 and later that year in September 2013, New York's Nina Davuluri won Miss America 2014 and things went back to normal for that pageant. But it took 9 years for Miss America to return to normalcy so I hope it doesn't take that long for Miss Universe to return to normal but it is possible that 2014 could be a forever skipped year so time will tell what happens with the dating of the winners title. Some speculate that the reasoning behind this Miss Universe pageant being delayed was actually caused by scheduling from NBC who co-owns the pageant with Donald Trump because of the tie-in with Donald Trump's other NBC show, 'Celebrity Apprentice' which started on January 4, 2015 and this edition was expected to be held in 2014 but was delayed by the network to the current season so I'm sure that there's some connection there. That and the delay of trying to find a venue outside of the United States. By the way, the phenomenal Kenya Moore, Miss USA 1993 was a contestant on this edition of the Celebrity Apprentice and she finished a respectable 7th place. This delayed pageant also gives Venezuela's Gabriela Isler, the second longest reign as Miss Universe and the first reign to span over 3 calendar years. The longest Miss Universe reign still belongs to Miss Universe 2011, Angola's Leila Lopes who reigned from September 12, 2011 to December 19, 2012 = 15 months and 1 week. Gabriela Isler's reign from November 9, 2013 to January 25, 2015 was 14 months and 2 weeks pushing Miss Universe 2005, Canada's Natalie Glebova to the third longest reign from May 31, 2005 to July 23, 2006 = 13 months and 3 weeks. <BR><BR> <IMG alt="The new DIC crown unveiled" hspace=12 src="uni14dic1.jpg" align=left> A new era also gave us a new crown designed by Czech company DIC (Diamonds International Corporation) has designed a new crown as part of a ten year deal with the Miss Universe organization. So we'll all be keeping an eye on Miss Czech Republic for the next several years. It turns out that prototype crown we saw Gabriela Isler wearing actually was an unfinished version of the new crown. I've heard a lot of comments about it from it looks like a New Year's party favor to something resembling Superman's fortress of solitude to the Disney movie 'Frozen' to what looks like a Freemasons pyramid at the bottom in the centre. The design for the new crown was inspired by the New York City skyline of tall buildings as that is also where the head office of the Miss Universe organization is and where their titleholders are based for the year. I still prefer the classic Miss Universe crown last worn in 2001 by Denise Quinones but since then several sponsor crowns have taken over so it looks like the classic crown will never return and there will always be sponsored imitations in the years to follow. <BR><BR> Being that this is the 2nd Miss Universe crown for Colombia, my friend Paulo pointed an interesting pattern from recent years that pointed to this win for this year that he dubbed Miss Universe not-2014 being that we are now in 2015. In recent years, the big 4 pageants have followed a certain pattern. In 2012, Miss Universe, Miss World and Miss International crowned the candidates from the host country (plus Miss Earth awarded the 1st runner-up to the home girl). In 2013, the big 4 crowns were shared by Venezuela and the Philippines, each country claiming two winners. In 2014, the other big 4 pageant winners were their countries second outright victory: Puerto Rico won its second Miss International after first winning it in 1987, Miss Earth crowned a second Filipino candidate six years after their first one, and although Rolene Strauss is actually the third Miss World from South Africa, she was the second to win it on the spot, as Anneline Kriel inherited the title in 1974 after the dethronement of Helen Morgan. Now, Miss Universe follows this pattern as a country has won its second title and that country is Colombia. He even picked her to win! <BR><BR> <IMG alt="Venezuela's Migbelis Castellanos in her National Costume" hspace=12 src="ven14nat.jpg" align=left><IMG alt="Thomas Roberts and Natalie Morales" hspace=12 src="uni14hosts.jpg" align=right> The introductions were excellent showing the delegates in their national costumes as it is supposed to be. The fabulous Migbelis Castellanos of Venezuela was my favorite of course in her tree costume when she hid her face at first with the leaves and then the reveal with the leaves dramatically shooting out of her hands. That woman is pure magic!! A shout-out also goes to Korea's costume for featuring the flags of the world incorporated into a traditional Korean outfit. The hosts were great as well. My handsome namesake, Thomas Roberts returned for his second stint as Miss Universe host after co-hosting the last Miss Universe pageant in 2013 and Miss USA 2014 also and Natalie Morales returned for her third time co-hosting after 2010 and 2011. It looks like Natalie Morales hosting is good for Ukraine as they have placed in the top 5 all 3 years that she hosted and Jamaica also placed in the top 5 in 2 of those 3 years! It was fun was Thomas came out wearing a mish-mash of some of the costumes including Aruba's long feathers which he comically brushed over Natalie's face on occasion. Of the top 5 national costumes belonging to Argentina, Canada, Germany, India and Indonesia, Indonesia won the twitter vote as I suspected as Indonesia actually has a large pageant following even though they have only placed 3 times as a semifinalists never making the top 10 though. I loved Argentina's costume inspired by Iguazu falls. <BR><BR> This year's announcement of the semifinalists was broken into parts which hasn't been done since 1972. The first 7 semifinalists were announced followed by the remaining 8 after a commercial break with a video montage shown of each delegate after each was called as was done for Miss USA 2014 which was a good way for us to learn about each delegate. Since we no longer have a semifinalist interview round since 1999, these video montages are a good and probably more exciting way to get to know the ladies better. <BR><BR> <IMG alt="Lithuania" hspace=12 src="lit14nat.jpg" align=left> In terms of my predictions, I picked 10 of the 15 semifinalists plus 1 alternate (Ukraine) and 2 honorable mentions (Netherlands and Brazil). The 2 that escaped my list were in my next tier (Italy and Indonesia) so the semifinalists made sense this year for the most part. The 5 ladies in my list that didn't place were: Lithuania, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Canada and Serbia. Did you notice something interesting? I picked Ecuador to win Miss Universe 2012 but Ecuador was 2nd runner up in 2013. In 2013, I picked Ukraine to win and now Ukraine was 2nd runner up for 2014/15! Does this mean that since Venezuela was my winner this year that Venezuela will be 2nd runner up in the next Miss Universe pageant?? Or have I jinxed it now that I mentioned it? It was like that time when I predicted Canada to be 4th in 1999 but we were 4th in 2000 and then I predicted Canada to be 10th in 2001 but we were 10th in 2002! It's weird how that happens to me. It seems like many recent winners come from the Americas and it has become increasingly difficult for contestants from other parts of the world. In fact, as my friend Hernan points out, Venezuelan Miss Universes have all crowned winners from the Americas as their successors: USA in 1980, Canada in 1982, Chile in 1987, USA in 1997, Venezuela in 2009, Mexico in 2010 and now Colombia in 2014/15. This is also the 2nd year in a row where the woman I placed as 4th runner up in my predictions won the crown. This also happened in 2004. Did you also notice that 3 of my top 5 (Venezuela, Philippines and Argentina) finished in the 6 to 10 finalist spots just like last year when 3 of my top 5 (Ukraine, Great Britain and Dominican Republic) also had to settle for top 10 rather than top 5? I'm starting to think I should start turning my lists upside down or scrambling them up! And what happened to my picks that didn't place? The first was Lithuania who was petite but powerful. Shorter delegates regularly have a difficult time in pageants. Even of the shorter delegates that placed in the semifinals, India and Brazil were both eliminated in the first round. Patricija is a dancer and just so photogenic that I thought she would get noticed but alas, it was not to be and Lithuania has yet to place. They seem to have chosen other dancers like Ukraine and Italy to place over her. I think Lithuania should have worn a more impactful gown in preliminaries. Puerto Rico was the next of my unplaced picks but she did win the Photogenic award which was when they brought up her incredible weight loss story losing 60 pounds and fighting the obesity gene in her family. I thought with her story and great body and gown that she would place but they opted to leave her out for whatever reason. Next was Thailand who was very unusually tall for a Thai girl but perhaps deemed more of a country-hopper like Guam's delegate as Thailand's delegate was born in California. Canada seemed to be getting a lot of buzz in the lead-up to the pageant making international headlines due to her national costume with a functional scoreboard attached to it. Chanel also has a really hot body but her gown may have been too risky. Finally, Serbia sent a stunning delegate who also placed in the top 8 at Miss Earth 2013 but she also wore a risky gown in preliminaries but she was fun and I thought she would get a spot but it was not to be.<BR><BR> <BR><BR> <BR><P ALIGN="CENTER"><CENTER><TABLE CELLSPACING=0 BORDER=0 CELLPADDING=7 WIDTH=700> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P><FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3">ACTUAL TOP 15:</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3"><P>MY PREDICTIONS:</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Winner=Colombia-Paulina Vega Dieppa</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Winner=Venezuela-Migbelis Castellanos*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>1st Runner Up=USA-Nia Sanchez</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>1st Runner Up=Philippines-Mary Jean Lastimosa*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>2nd Runner Up=Ukraine-Diana Harkusha</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>2nd Runner Up=Argentina-Valentina Ferrer*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>3rd Runner Up=Netherlands-Yasmin Verheijen</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>3rd Runner Up=France-Camille Cerf*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>4th Runner Up=Jamaica-Kaci Fennell</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>4th Runner Up=Colombia-Paulina Vega Dieppa*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3"><P>FINALISTS (alpha'l):</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3"><P>FINALISTS:</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Argentina-Valentina Ferrer</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>India-Noyonita Lodh*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Australia-Tegan Martin</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Jamaica-Kaci Fennell*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Philippines-Mary Jean Lastimosa</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Lithuania-Patricija Belousova</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Spain-Desire Cordero Ferrer</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Spain-Desire Cordero Ferrer*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Venezuela-Migbelis Castellanos</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>USA-Nia Sanchez*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3"><P>SEMIFINALISTS (alpha'l):</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3"><P>SEMIFINALISTS:</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Brazil-Melissa Gurgel</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Puerto Rico-Gabriela Berrios</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>France-Camille Cerf</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Thailand-Pimbongkod Chankaew</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>India-Noyonita Lodh</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Australia-Tegan Martin*</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Indonesia-Elvira Devinamira</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Canada-Chanel Beckenlehner</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Italy-Valentina Bonariva</FONT></TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>Serbia-Andjelka Tomasevic</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P>&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3"><P>ALTERNATES: </FONT><FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6">Gabon, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ukraine*, Russia</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P>&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#D560F3"><P>HONORABLE MENTIONS: </FONT><FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6">Brazil*, Netherlands*, Great Britain, Dominican Republic, Czech Republic</FONT></TD> </TR> <TR><TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <P>&nbsp;</TD> <TD WIDTH="50%" VALIGN="TOP"> <FONT SIZE=2 COLOR="#E2BEF6"><P>* = made actual top 15</FONT></TD> </TR> </TABLE> </CENTER></P> <P ALIGN="CENTER"> <FONT color=#E2BEF6 size=3> <IMG SRC="uni14s.jpg"><BR> On to the swimsuit competition which featured Prince Royce singing his songs, "Darte Un Beso" and his crossover song "Stuck on a Feeling". The first song was probably a hint too mellow for swimsuit as I feel it should be more high energy but the second song had the right beat that put more bounce in each girl's step. Colombia came out first with her long, lean body. I don't think anyone could really debate that she was one of the strongest overall delegates. Italy followed and all I have to say about that is (cough) Yamamay (cough). So it's not secret that this year's swimsuit sponsor, Yamamay is an Italian company so I actually thought this was a good sign for last year's stunning Italian delegate Luna Voce who was in my top 10 but ended up not placing but then they give a spot to this year's Italian delegate who does have a really good body but a more mature face and her preliminary gown looked like something you would have seen Barbie wear in the 80s so she was eliminated in this round. India followed making it three years in a row now for India in the semifinals so it looks like this former pageant powerhouse is starting to gain some ground after missing the semifinals 4 years in a row from 2008 to 2011. Noyonita was a formidable delegate who in spite of her height really had a great body and presented herself well but sadly, the judges chose to eliminate her in this round. France's Camille Cerf followed looking like Taylor Swift at times. Camille also had a great body and overall look but seemed to have a low energy performance and that may have been was contributed to her also surprisingly being eliminated in this first round. Camille was the most recent winner participating in this delayed Miss Universe pageant which saw many delegates competing that had already completed their national reigns months ago but Camille was just crowned a month before arriving in Miami. It was nice to have France place at least given the recent tragedy of the shootings at the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo's head office. Camille's father also recently passed away in September from cancer. I should also point out that France has still never made the top 5 since their only win way back in 1953. USA's Nia Sanchez maintained herself very well so it actually wasn't really a surprise that she finished as well as she did. Her body and hair looked amazing. She also was beaming from her recent engagement to boyfriend Daniel Booko. Indonesia then stepped out but I immediately knew she would be eliminated. That was not a semifinalist body. Indonesia does have a large pageant following but I was not expecting them to place two years in a row. I actually was expecting her spot to go to another nation that loves pageants, Thailand. Then, my enchanting Venezuelan, Migbelis Castellanos looked so gorgeous and I was just enamored by this woman who just has that star quality. I felt like Migbelis was the second coming of Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996 also of Venezuela but perhaps with Alicia's post-coronation body rather than her pre-coronation body. Alicia completely owned the night she won Miss Universe also had Emilio Estefan as a judge as he was this year. Because my precious Migbelis didn't easily win this crown like I hoped she would, it is at this time that I must rant about the decreasing relevance of a swimsuit competition. Oh, the frivolity that we must be forced to scrutinize women for their tummies not being tight enough or their hips being too wide or their legs being too stumpy or breasts being too small or too large. Some might also argue that being in shape is a sign of self-discipline which is a good characteristic to have. You might notice that the Miss World pageant announced that they would officially be doing away with their swimsuit competition this year but they haven't really featured a full swimsuit competition since 1997. The reigning Miss World, Rolene Strauss of South Africa was easily the winner but had Miss Universe been held before Miss World for 2014 then Rolene would have competed for Miss Universe but while a lot of people think she could have also easily have won Miss Universe, I actually think it probably would not have been as easy for her because of the swimsuit competition and that Miss World was the better route for her to take. Mind you, Miss USA and Miss Universe were actually started as swimsuit competitions by Catalina Swimwear because Miss America 1951, Yolande Betbeze refused to be photographed in a swimsuit saying that she was not a model but an opera singer. We don't really see the winner that much in a swimsuit and sometimes I think pageants should have a competition for facial beauty alone as that probably is the more important and photographed aspect than the body itself. Next up was Spain who was again a favorite this year but I knew that tattoo near her crotch would keep her out of the running. She does have a great body and overall look though. Philippines also looked phenomenal with her sexy catwalk, curvaceous figure and great overall look. Mary Jean also maintains Philippines' long running streak with them placing 5 years in a row now. Argentina followed and what an outstanding, athletic figure she has. Valentina was a total find for Argentina which is a country that rarely places. They last placed in 2006 unexpectedly and their last placement prior to that was way back in 1979 although they do have one winner in 1962 so hopefully this is a sign for good things to come from the land of Evita Peron. Jamaica then followed with her refreshing distinct look with her short hair and cool style. I loved this girl's reactions throughout the night too. Also a favorite, Kaci won an edition of Jamaica's Next Top Model and fiercely worked that great body of hers and made the world say, 'Jamaica me crazy.' Ukraine followed also showing off her dancer's body. I'm not wild about her profile but she was decent but not top 5 worthy to me. Brazil followed and she is short but feisty. It wasn't enough to pull her through to the next round though. Netherlands has gone the exotic route before but this year's girl had a great body and even a little sass with her give-it-up-for-me move with her hand. Finally, Australia returned to the semifinals after missing it last year breaking a long running streak for the land down under. Tegan was your classic summery blonde that we are used to seeing from the Aussies and she also looked very fit and together. <BR><BR><IMG SRC="uni14g.jpg"><BR> <IMG alt="Nick Jonas and Olivia Culpo, Miss Universe 2012" hspace=12 src="nickolivia.jpg" align=right> Following the announcement of the top 10, they showed the first of two montages of pageants past which I loved, of course. They also pointed out that this year's Miss Finland, Bea Toivonen is the daughter of Miss Finland 1985, Marja Kinnunen who also competed in Miami. Then it was on to the evening gown competition set to performances by Nick Jonas singing his tunes, "Chains", "Teacher" and "Jealous". The video for "Jealous" features Olivia Culpo, Miss Universe 2012 who is also dating Nick and Olivia was seen in the audience as Nick went up to her while performing. Jamaica was up first and she was actually a great choice to go up first because of her supreme confidence. Kaci really showed off her great modelling moves here with a wide range of emotions and this fiery red gown had a nice open back and she just exuded such power. Colombia followed in a silvery number that had that sheer material showing off the body and the vertical lines really did elongate her. Ukraine followed in a red gown from designer Zuhair Murad's collection. To be honest, I was never a fan of this gown but she worked it well. Argentina had a gorgeous silver gown with sheer material showing off her amazing legs and this was a vast improvement from the pink gown she wore in the preliminaries which I knew she would change. This was a very well prepared delegate and she was absolutely worthy of a top 5 spot and shouldn't have been eliminated here. Philippines had a decorative white gown that gave her body the perfect shape and I like the mermaid fishtail style in general so I thought she too should have advanced. Spain also had a silvery intricately designed gown and she also looked great. A lot of people thought she would have advanced also but this was as far as she would go. Netherlands followed in a yellow gown with a pleated skirt that I thought made her hips look wide but nonetheless, she advanced. I think this is one of the few times that a delegate with some Indian heritage advanced over Miss India. Dave points out me that Venus Raj, Miss Philippines 2010 is half-Indian so she also advanced ahead of Miss India that year who didn't place. In 2002, I pointed out that India finished one spot ahead of Miss Canada who was also of Indian descent and Venezuela also finished one spot ahead of Miss Germany who was of Venezuelan descent. A sign of the world's increasing diversity! I'm sure you also noticed Jeannie Mai was very careful not to say that yellow is the color of joy as there have been some online memes circulating showing her using that line too much whenever someone wears a yellow gown. So then followed my Migbelis and you might notice that Venezuela changed her evening gown from the preliminaries to the only red gown that didn't advance to the top 5 (Jamaica, Ukraine and USA also wore red and advanced to the top 5) and while I loved the white gown she wore in the preliminaries, some people felt she needed to go with a darker, more slimming color so this deep red gown that she used for her portraits was her alternate gown but it also accentuated the little paunch she had going on so she was tragically eliminated here. Nonetheless, Migbelis is an absolute star with her ethereal glow and she has a promising future ahead of her. Australia had a rich blue mermaid-style gown similar to that worn by Tiana Griggs at Miss USA 2014. I thought her overall look was nice. Finally, USA followed in another well-designed, red Michael Costello gown and the red color really seems to favor Nia. <BR><BR> <IMG alt="Top 5 - Colombia, Jamaica, Ukraine, Netherlands, USA" hspace=12 src="uni14t52.jpg" align=left> Afterwards, Nigeria won the Congeniality award for not poking anyone with the porcupine quills on her national costume. Kidding!! Puerto Rico won the Photogenic award and caused an awkward selfie moment. Puerto Rico later felt a bit dizzy during one of the video segment breaks and almost fainted and had to be taken off stage. Then, Indonesia was declared the National Costume winner thanks to winning the Twitter vote. Then the top 5 were announced and I suddenly became very disillusioned as a lot of my favorites were cut and it seemed as if Colombia's strongest competition was eliminated to make it easier for her. Nina Garcia, one of the judges also hails from Paulina's city of Barranquilla, Colombia but one judge normally doesn't make that much of a difference but if a lot of the strongest delegates are strategically placed lower, it can result in a weaker top 5 like I felt we saw this year and that was reflected in the question and answer rounds as I felt these were some of the worst answers I've ever heard in the literally hundreds of pageants I have watched. Some of the questions were also poorly delivered as well as they were hard to understand not so much because of the accents but because there was also a lack of enunciation. USA was called first of the top 5 and I believe this is the first time that USA was called first of the top 5 as I feel being called first is a high pressure position and USA rarely faces that. I do recall Carole Gist was called first of the top 3 in 1990 and like Nia Sanchez, Carole also wore a fabulous, glistening red gown and also finished as 1st runner up at Miss Universe. Nia's judge's question came from Manny Pacquiao with a heavy accent and I couldn't understand him at first either but he asked, "If you were given 30 seconds to deliver a message to our global terrorists, what would you say?" Nia's response was, "If I was given 30 seconds to deliver a message to our global terrorists? Is that what you said? Okay. Um. I would just say that you know, I know as Miss USA, I can always spread a message of hope and love and peace and so I would do my very best to spread that message to them and everyone else in the world." I think it was decent how she asked for clarification without being too condescending so she handled it well as Nia normally does as she has been competing in pageants for years so is very experienced. Prior to winning Miss Nevada USA, she competed at Miss California USA even competing against Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella at the state level. Maybe she could have addressed how horrible the situation is but she avoided it entirely. Next, Netherlands picked Giancarlo Stanton who asked, "What is the biggest change you would like to see for young women in the next generation?" After asking him to repeat the question, she responded, "I'm an ambassador for child prostitution and um, I want that child prostitution stops so that's what I want for the next generation." This answer could have been delivered a lot better. It just seemed too low energy. <IMG alt="The top 3" hspace=12 src="uni14t3.jpg" align=left><IMG alt="The top 2" hspace=12 src="uni14t2.jpg" align=right> Ukraine picked Lisa Vanderpump who asked, "If you could remove the swimsuit competition from the Miss Universe pageant, would you and why or why not?" Ukraine replied, "It depends on the situation. If it's gonna be nice, why not? I feel comfortable in any things. Thank you. Yeah." Yeah, indeed. I think Ukraine should have used her translator to deliver a much stronger answer but... yeah. Next up was Jamaica who got Emilio Estefan with yet another thick accent asking, "One of 3 women will experience violence in her lifetime. What can be done to get that number down?" Jamaica responded, "Sorry, I didn't understand. Hello??" Emilio said, "That happens a lot." Then he repeated the question and Jamaica still didn't understand but she went with something. "Good evening, esteemed judges. Good evening, Doral! Crime is a global phenomenon. It does not just affect one nation and we as people of the world should work together to prevent it now. Thank you." So maybe she thought he said 'crime' instead of 'violence' so she just went to what was clearly a general rehearsed response and a lot of people griped about Jamaica placing as 4th runner up of this top 5 but this was probably why since she didn't really answer the question. At the same time, I don't blame her as Emilio's accent made it hard to understand him. It almost seemed like this was intentionally done perhaps to either create a viral video moment or maybe because Miss Universe travels to different countries that she should be able to understand different accents and maybe this puts them to the test? Finally, Colombia was next to answer using that same translator that been around for around 30 years. He's amazing by the way and thanks goes out to Etienne for finding out his name. He is Vicente De La Vega of Precision Translating Services. I commend him for doing a particularly great job delivering the translations of Alicia Machado's answers in 1996. Colombia picked Rob Dyrdek's question, "All right, well, you've probably, all the time, people have asked you, 'What can men learn from women' but I'd like to know, 'What can women learn from men?'". Using the translator, Colombia responded, "I believe that women... That's quite a tough question! I believe there's still men that believe in equality and I believe that is what women should learn from men." So this was a semi-cheeky response that she pulled off.<BR><BR> Finally, it was time for the final question where all the delegates had to answer the same question which returned for first time since 2002. Like 2002, this question was also selected from one submitted online but it was selected this year from submissions on the Miss Universe facebook page. There was one word to describe this round and it was... messy. The guys holding the headphones on each delegate seemed a bit slow on their cues to remove the headphones but we got through it. The final question was submitted by Maria Navarro Fernandez and all the top 5 were asked what I thought was a great question that allowed the delegates to demonstrate their knowledge. The question was, "What is the greatest contribution of your country to the entire world?" USA responded, "Well, I'm very proud to live in the USA and I'm honored to represent it and I feel like the contribution is just that we have a wonderful influence on the world and we can always help other countries if they need our help and we can give back as much as we can." I like how Nia is very alert and keeps her mind open to listen to the question and gives good responses. She is very well prepared. Next, Netherlands responded, "Um. I'm born and raised in Amsterdam and Amsterdam is one of the most tolerant cities of the world and a very, uh, a lot of art and history and I'm very proud of it. Thank you." Something about the way she delivered this answer immediately made me think of Amanda Aardsma, Miss Colorado Teen USA 1997. It was a fair answer but again, low energy. Ukraine responded, "Thank you for question. Um. (uses translator) So, now we have a very difficult situation in our country and right now, the very most important contribution is to direct all of our energies to support our army and our people. We have to restore schools. We have to restore kindergartens and orphanages. (in English) Thank you so much." This answer was more of one that seemed to be an attempt to garner sympathy points. It was nice but didn't really say what Ukraine contributes to the world. Jamaica's response was, "Well. As we all know, we have the home to the legendary Usain Bolt, Bob Marley who have contributed such great music to this world and we have the fastest man alive who has been trailblazing the Jamaican flag. Thank you so much." This was actually a great answer and I thought it redeemed her from the answer to her judge's question but I guess it ended up not being enough to save her. Colombia responded, "I believe that my country has been an example to be followed by the rest of the countries. We are a persevering people no matter what obstacle we have in our way and we continue fighting for that which we want to accomplish. Notwithstanding many difficulties we have gone through today, we are world leaders in many different matters and I am quite proud to represent it before all of you." This was also a well delivered answer. I actually would have liked to have heard the other delegates that didn't advance to top 5 to actually be the top 5 and answer these questions. I'm sure Migbelis would have aced this round as she excels in speaking ability and presents with flair. But it's all done now. <BR><IMG SRC="uni14crn3.jpg"><BR> So after another wonderful montage of Miss Universes past reflecting on their wins and a farewell from Gabriela Isler, it was time for the big announcement. The 4th runner up was Jamaica which triggered a 'What?!?!' out of me and very loud boos from many members of the displeased audience. Kaci is very special and cool and they obviously loved how refreshingly unique she was. The 3rd runner up was Netherlands who I thought at first would be 4th runner up. Ukraine was 2nd runner up then it was down to Nia and Paulina. Colombia was declared the winner and USA was the 1st runner up. After the crowning, there was an interesting development as a group of delegates crowded around Colombia to congratulate her as the winner and another group of delegates crowded around Jamaica as if she was the winner. There were even chants from the audience for Jamaica. Kaci, when asked after the pageant if she would change anything about the pageant, she quipped, 'Not a thing! *drops mic (without really dropping the mic but gesturing as if she did)' That right there is a great attitude to have and Kaci is developing a huge fanbase because of all this. Meanwhile, Colombia finally has its 2nd Miss Universe crown and while at first, I had watched interviews online prior to the pageant and felt that no one had the charisma of Venezuela's Migbelis Castellanos. Paulina Vega was decent in interviews but lacked the spunk that Migbelis had but I have watched post-coronation videos of Paulina and I get her more now. On her appearance on Live with Kelly and Michael, Michael Strahan butchered the pronunciation of the name of her city, Barranquilla and with deadpan delivery she outright told him, 'That was awful' in a funny way and corrected him and so she's a no-nonsense kind of girl and makes no qualms about it. So far, of the delegates for whenever the hell the next Miss Universe pageant is, I actually like Paulina's Colombian successor, Ariadna Gutierrez so will the back-to-back dream become a reality for Colombia as it did for Venezuela in 2009? <BR><IMG SRC="uni14win5.jpg"><IMG SRC="uni14jamwin.jpg"><BR> <IMG SRC="uni14post1.jpg"> <P align=center><FONT color=#fcc8e3 size=4><FONT face=Verdana><BR></P><FONT color=#A9CCF1> <P align=center>&nbsp;</FONT><A href="http://www.tpmum.com/uni14thold.html"><FONT size=4>THE PRETHOUGHTS - Miss Universe 2014/15</FONT></A></P> <P align=center><FONT color=#fcc8e3 size=3><FONT face=Verdana><BR></P><FONT color=#E2BEF6> <P align=center>&nbsp;</FONT><A href="http://www.tpmum.com/index.html"><FONT size=4>BACK TO FRONT PAGE</FONT></A></P><FONT color=#51387F> <P align=center>&nbsp;</P> <P align=center>Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP</P> <P align=center>&nbsp;</P></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></BODY></HTML>