Sunday, June 29, 2008

Reeva Dubois Revisited... Part 3...

Fast Forward slightly from the previous episode and arrive at September of 2004. After an awful summer of slinging over-priced food at Ruby Tuesday’s, I packed my car, kissed my dog, and drove off to Cincinnati. I was super-pumped to be reuniting with Viv, super-nervous about living in a big city, and super-poor. Ah, to be young and foolish. My first few months were filled with job-searching, meeting new friends, and not a little bit of debauchery… activities that resulted in a fabulous good time, but also the unceremonious maxing out of all three of my credit cards. After several weeks of doors slamming in my face, I ended up waiting tables… again… at another frikkin’ Ruby Tuesdays (UGH!). After a few horrid months of that, I landed a temp gig at an investment company, answering phones during their busiest time of year. I can barely stand to be on the phone when I’m talking to my dearest friends, so you can imagine how much I loathed this job. The only good thing about it was the pay. I started in December of 04. Right after the Christmas holidays, an “incident” took place at work involving a girlfriend of mine and another guy we worked with. To summarize, they were engaging in email conversations of a frank and explicit nature, which started innocently enough, but then spiraled out of control. My friend, being unsure of what to do, forwarded snippets of these conversations to myself and another girl, apparently to solicit our advice as to how to proceed. Of course, we told her to report him and STOP IT! Well, she didn’t, but the other girl and I did, because it was really, really inappropriate (and gross). We never thought the girl would get canned, but… she did. And one by one, the other girl and I were picked off as well. Something about “wiping the slate clean,” according to HR. My friend was devastated that we got caught up in the scandal, especially since she forwarded the emails to us, which was why HR felt they had to fire us. But WE reported her and the guy to authorities, which wasn’t really our business to do. Basically, we all screwed up, which made it all less of a tragedy. I kept in touch with those girls for a few months afterwards… I wonder where they are now, shopping together...

Even though this whole debacle ruined what may have turned into a really good year for me, I’m not sorry I got fired, because, like I said, that job royally sucked, and it made me clear about one thing: Corporate jobs just aren’t worth it. Life is just tooooo short. Stay away from them if you can help it. Also, don’t have email sex in your company email account! I mean, DUHHHHH!!

January 19, 2005

Ok -

So, i got fired today. I had a super headache on Friday, so i called in - and apparently, the other girl involved was fired on Friday. I think she may have tried to call me but i haven't checked my messages - and i really really wish i had. I showed up today and wasn't even able to sign into my computer. I got called into the office (i felt like i was a little kid in the pricipals office). After about 10 minutes of exasperation - i still stand by the whole "i didn't do anything wrong" bit, the HR woman lowered the axe. Even though she basically agreed with me, it is the policy of the company to just wipe the entire slate clean. So there you go, four staff members gone because of one naughty email. I was upset at first, of course,(bemused, bewildered, baffled, betrayed...oh..and BAMBOOZLED) but i think its for the best. I really sort of hated the job anyway, and the only reason i showed up was the $12/hour. Looking back on it, it really seems like a dream, like a bad episode of the Apprentice. Remember when the Donald fired two people in one episode? I thought the TV was going to explode. Let Job Search 2005 commence - AGAIN - Take 3.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Top 16...

I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but I feel like this season has been going on for months. Like, I feel like I’m ready for the finale. Either my attention span has gotten shorter or I’m just not into the show. It’s gotta be my attention span.

So where were we? Last week, Chelsea T. and Thayne tanked big time, although no one could decide who was to blame (the uncommitted dancing or Mandy Moore’s tired choreography), Comfort and Chris krumped their way nowhere, and Susie and Marquis went home. Everyone else was decent, except for Kourtni and Matt (who were only OK) and Chelsie and Mark (who were frikkin’ brilliant). I’m aiming my poison darts at Chris and Jessica, although I’m pretty sure Jessica isn’t going anywhere, thanks to Will, who gets hotter and hotter to me every time I see him. Damn, that bitch got lucky.

Twitchington – Hip Hop

Tabitha and Napoleon are back with two more routines this week, and Twitchington will perform the first. It’s a Prison Break inspired clown dance, in that it’s silly and slapstick and not very hard-hitting (in my opinion). It kind of matches the first Hip Hop dance by TabNap from Week 1 with (God, I’ve already forgotten their names!... I’ll have to look them up… ahh, here we go) Rayven and Jamie, which was more of a comedy routine than anything. I’m starting to think Tabitha and Napoleon should stick to the slower, emotional hip-hop. Anyway, about thisdance… everyone loves Twitch, including myself, so I feel bad saying I didn’t really like this routine, but ya’ll, I didn’t really like this routine. And I think I disliked it because of Kherington. She’s about as gangsta as I am (which, not at all) and she pulls faces just as much as Matt and the rest, so I can’t help but feel like she’s getting an epic FREE PASS just because she is paired with Twitch. I seriously doubt she would be doing as well with a different partner, although I AM excited to see her dance with a different partner in a few weeks just to see if my theory holds water (I’ll be the first one to admit I’m wrong if she proves herself). Mostly, this was the first time I got the feeling Twitch was really pulling her along (much like Will is pulling Jessica), so I was a little peeved that she didn’t get roughed up by the judges like I thought she should.

Courtney and Gev – Rumba

Something miraculous has happened. Yes, Courtney is responsible for the single most miraculous thing that has happened in the history of this show. Somehow, someway, she worked the voodoo juuuust right… that I, the gayest of the gay, the queerest of the queer – I, who put the Ho in Homo – was turned on by a girl.

I don’t know how she did it, and really, I don’t want to know, but this was the sexiest, hottest, steamiest dance I have ever seen on this show. I suppose some credit must go to Gev, but in a bizarre twist, I barely saw him. I was too busy watching Miss Thang over there with her bad-ass sexitude. This routine was so good… it was like a slow burn. Something about the choreography allowed the chemistry to build and build until it boiled over. It was like these two were dancing alone… except we were watching, and feeling all sorts of dirty about it, but loving it at the same time. And can we talk about that dress?? SCANDAL! She was practically half-nude, but somehow, it didn’t look inappropriate. God, I love her right now. What is happening to me!?!

I don’t blame Gev at all for being totally in love with Courtney, and I think it’s kind of charming that he can barely hide how he feels about her. But I think dances like these are going to be the death of him. In a way, it’s kind of unfair. Did you see how she was looking at him during that dance? I’m sure she was acting, and I know she has a boyfriend, but I don’t think any red-blooded American Man could resist reading into those looks. That chemistry was real and I don’t care what anyone says!

Comfort and Chris – Jazz

I needed to cool down, and who better to that with than Comfort and Chris. This routine was a big ‘ol mess. At first I thought the choreography was to blame, but then I watched it a few more times and I’ve convinced myself that two better dancers really could have worked this routine out. It had rhythmic urgency, it had dynamic technical moves, and it was an interesting enough story. Somehow, though, Comfort and Chris found a way to make it suck. I was bored. That’s all I have to say about that.

Jessica and Will – Disco

Everyone hates on disco, but I happen to like it. I’ve enjoyed all the routines Doriana Sanchez has put together. I mean, her routines have amazing lifts and awesome partner turns… what’s not to like? Here comes Jessica to change my mind. Nah, I’m kind of kidding. I don’t hate her, I just think she sucks.

It’s no secret that Jessica is a weaker dancer than Will, but I feel like I’m being manipulated into treating her like an underdog, which I don’t appreciate. In the pre-package before the dance, we get a heart-wrenching backstory about how Doriana Sanchez had to put some tough love on Jessica, because up to this point, she’s been pretty bad, and she needs to step it up. Will this be the week? Well, I certainly didn’t think so. First of all, I didn’t need an instant replay to know that she botched that first death drop. I mean, girlfriend hit the floor with an audible thud, and then Will had to mop the floor with her to get her back up. The only reason I can be so critical is I’ve seen so many couples on this show with equal or lesser levels of technique pull off a perfect death drop, so it can’t be all that hard. And then there was that thing at the end – more obvious mistakes. But the whole routine looked frightening… something about their performance made me nervous. Nothing was effortless. Listening to the judges praise this pair and that routine was really irritating. I mean, I just ragged on Jessica quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean I’m OK with Will’s performance. That death drop was probably his fault, and he sure did lose his balance at the end, but the judges just can’t say anything bad about him. Is Debbie Allen going to cut them or something?

Matt and Kourtni – Contemporary

Hooray! A new choreographer. I was just thinking last week that we needed some new blood on this show. It isn’t that I don’t love Mia and Wade and Mandy and TabNap and all the rest, but it starts looking like more of the same. The new girl, Sonja, has a giant Mohawk that makes her look like a human My Little Pony, which really isn’t a bad thing in my book. She has put together a routine about quirky comic book characters who like to flirt. I, for one, really enjoyed the routine. It was the first time I liked Matt (ever) and the first time since her audition I liked Kourtni. The routine was maybe a little cutesy, but there were some killer moves that blew me away, like those side-by-side jumps in perfect unison (I think Mary pointed those out). All in all, I thought they did a good job, so I was surprised when Nigel continued to harp on Matt’s alleged lack of personality. I mean, what does he expect Matt to do?? It’s a mystery.

Chelsea and Thayne – Quickstep

Oh, Chayne… what is to be done with you? Everything about this made me sad. It’s like watching a sparkler in your hand – bright and explosive at first, but it slowly peters out, occasionally shooting sparks, until it just dims and dies. Chelsea and Thayne were my undisputed favorites three weeks ago, and now… look at them… tired and rundown and listless… and folding.

The Quickstep is supposed to be a curse on this show, and I think I believe in that curse now. Let’s start with what I really want to do, which is defend my favorite couple. The Quickstep is probably the hardest dance in the ballroom repertoire. Not only are the steps incredibly complicated, but the character is difficult to capture. It’s stiff but light… frenzied but smooth… happy but not hammy. I think I remember one of the professionals on Dancing with the Stars talking about how difficult this dance is, and if the professionals find it hard, what the hell are two contemporary dancers supposed to do with it after only 6 hours of training? The character of the dance, which is breezy and cool and easy, can only be captured if the couple is comfortable with the steps. A brilliant performer may be able to hide their discomfort by acting, but the audience is way more perceptive than anyone knows. Unease isn’t a look, it’s a feeling… and it’s unmistakable. Clearly, Chelsea and Thayne weren’t ready to perform this dance, and the nerves were impossible to hide. I think Nigel nailed it when he talked about the painted on grins, because it was obvious to me that the smiles were fake, like they were covering something. And Chelsea just didn’t seem interested, even. Someone on a recap said that Chelsea was phoning it in, and even though that makes me really sad, I can’t argue. And after getting thrashed by the judges last week, I knew they weren’t going to stay out of the bottom 3. Whether or not one of them (or both) would go home was totally dependant on who went with them.

Chelsie and Mark – Hip Hop

Oh, Hell YES! All I really have to say about this dance is LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT. I was enthralled. The song was perfect, the choreography was brilliant, the story was touching… I mean, I can’t ask for anything else. Mark was amazing to watch, and Chelsie… oh, my girl, Chelsie… girl worked it out up there. The emotions were sincere and believable… I was completely convinced. God, if I were Mary Murphy this is when I would scream.

On a completely unrelated note… during their pre-package, was Chelsie coming off like a total twerp? I mean, she’s awesome and I love her and everything, but there was something about her personality in that pre-package that rubbed me wrong. I wonder if she was in character or something?

Katee and Joshua – Samba

Do we like Katee yet? Is everybody over that episode in Vegas? Yes? Good… because WOW! Another great Latin dance from Tony and Melanie, and after Courtney and Gev, I wasn’t sure I could handle more hotness, but I am soooo glad I did.

What I loved about this routine was that it was very sexy, but in a completely different way than Courtney and Gev’s. Courtney and Gev managed a sensual, lusty chemistry, whereas Katee and Joshua were more flirtatious and fun. The cool thing is both couples matched the character of each dance perfectly. The Rumba is supposed to be a seduction, while the Samba is a party. And without raining on Katee and Joshua’s parade, I’ll say they got lucky picking the Samba instead of the Rumba because I’m not sure they could have pulled off the sexual chemistry of Courtney and Gev. It doesn’t even matter, though, because they did exactly what they were supposed to do. Didn’t Katee look gorgeous? I was surprised the wardrobe people convinced her to wear the other half of Courtney’s dress (I know, but I’m tired so I’ll steal Nigel’s joke and you will LIKE it), but she should be happy about it because she looked awesome. And while I’m not particularly attracted to Joshua, I will admit freely that he looked damn fine in those ass pants. The boy has got serious junk.

My 3 favorites of the night were:

1. Chelsie and Mark – Hip-Hop by TabNap
2. Courtney and Gev – Rumba by Tony and Melanie
3. Katee and Joshua – Samba by Tony and Melanie

My Bottom 3 are:

1. Chelsea and Thayne – Quickstep by Heather Smith (it makes me heart hurt)
2. Comfort and Chris – Jazz by Tyce Diorio
3. Twitchington – Hip-Hop by TabNap

I tuned in on Thursday Night with some trepidation. I just had a bad feeling for my girl Chelsea. I was confident that she and Thayne would be in the bottom 3, but I couldn’t quite get my psychic forces to focus on the other two couples. A good bet would be Comfort and Chris, of course, but Comfort seems to be developing a cult of personality (and why not? She’s kind of a hoot). I was crossing my fingers the last couple would be Jessica and Will, because I figured Chelsea could beat Jessica in the solos.

Mia Michaels covered the group routine this week, and once again, I was angry at the camera-work. I’m pretty sure I liked it, but I didn’t feel like I saw enough to really make a decision. However, I do remember the song. If you’re interested, it was called The Dance by Charlotte Martin. I’ve listened to it at least 3,000 times today.

So the bottom 3 couples were announced in the order of their obviousness. Chelsea and Thayne, Comfort and Chris, and… (Awww crap!) Kourtni and Matt.

After the solos, and a semi-frightening performance from Jordin Sparks, Cat Deeley handed Chris and my girl Chelsea their walking papers. I couldn’t care less about Chris (oh, just go… be a tree), but I shed one salty tear for Chelsea. I truly believe there was better dancing in her… she just got screwed by some crappy choreography and the dreaded quickstep. So sad.

On the bright side… the idea of Comfort and Thayne is… well, kind of fascinating. I love that Comfort lost her partner and then got stuck with the second whitest guy in the competition. If she had trouble developing chemistry with Chris, I can’t imagine Thayne is going to make her job any easier. I predict a trainwreck, and I kind of can’t wait.

The Big Read Meme

The Big Read says that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. What about you?

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Put a line through the books you HATE.
5) Post your list in your blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (a million underlines)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (oops, this is a repeat, right? Get with the program Big Read!)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle [I've read quite a few of these]
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

So I've read 29/100. That doesn't seem bad at all. As an aside, has anyone not read The DaVinci Code?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Le Sigh...

I haven't been feeling very organized lately. Seems like the perfect time for a list...

1. My job negotiations started today. I met with my new supervisor, her supervisor, and HR. It started out bad - they told me I wasn't going to get a raise. Well, CLEARLY they don't even know me. Like, at all. After an hour, I managed to convince them that a raise was not only a good thing, but the right thing. The good news is I'll probably get the raise I've been hoping for. The bad news is they have to start the process all over again to make that happen. I may have to wait up to six months before any salary change takes place. HR fell over themselves promising it wouldn't take that long, but I've been around enough HR people to know that I shouldn't expect anything until, oh... Christmas. Well, a raise is a pretty good present, I suppose. Meanwhile, I need to stay positive and keep my attitude in check and NOT focus on the fact that a lot can happen in six months - a very hard thing for yours truly.

2. I've been knee-deep in Alanis Morisette for the past couple of days. I celebrated her new album by listening to all her others before going to buy it. It was like my own personal Angst-by-Alanis Fest. Her lyrics are soooo amazing, even if they do make me giggle sometimes (I mean, talk about overwraught!). The new album is, as expected, incredibly wonderful. For me, it harkens back to her first two albums, in that it's so intimate and emotional. Alanis is one of my favorite song-writers because the emotions are so raw... she somehow manages to find that perfect emotional clarity... one can't help but relate. In fact, the new album is so deeply personal that I kind of feel uncomfortable at times. She's brave to expose herself through her music like she does. And seriously, if I dated Ryan Reynolds for even a hot minute and he dumped me and got engaged very shortly thereafter, I promise you I wouldn't be writing an album about it. I'd be too busy stalking him (I mean, have you seen him? Maybe I'll stalk him anyway!) and sending hate-poetry to Scarlett Johansson.

3. Have you heard of the Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer? The receptionist where I work turned me on to them and I really hate to admit it, but I might be obsessed. Why am I embarassed? Well, it's young adult fiction for teenage girls. I don't have anything against young adult fiction (Helloooo... Harry Potter), but the fact that I love these books so much convinces me that I have the sensibilities of a 14 year old girl. I'm two steps away from prank-texting my crush and getting a subscription to Tiger Beat. There's hope for me, though - I'm still not into the Jonas Brothers. Let's hope I stay strong.

4. Let's talk about Garbage. Everyime I think I'm getting the hang of this domestic stuff, life throws me another foul ball, and by foul, I mean FOUL! Li'l Sis and I made fajitas the other night (they were fabulous, btw), and I was really stupid and threw the cooking waste into the garbage and forgot about it. Well, I got home today from work and the smell... Good GOD the smell... It was like an olfactory bitch-slap! I immediately took out the trash, but my apartment still REEKS! I Febreezed and everything, but now it just smells like Febreeze and Trash, which is not a good combo. I opened up my porch to air the place out, but I had to close up after killing the 9th giant bug. The worst part is I think the smell burned the inside of my nose. I smell landfill all the time now, regardless of where I am. Tomorrow I'll be paranoid that the smell is following me.

5. I'm super-pumped about *Wall-E* and am now accepting applications for a movie buddy. Bachelors Degree required. And please have all your teeth. I'll buy the popcorn if you'll drive.

Monday, June 23, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Top 18

I love the second (and third) week of competition on So You Think You Can Dance! We’ve had a week to process the contestants and maybe even pick some favorites, but nothing is final. There’s still some mystery and romance, and this season, I think, is going to be as unpredictable and suspenseful as any Reality show has the right to be. I don’t see any clear front-runners (despite all of Nigel’s efforts to pimp the male hip-hop dancers) and I’m still very eager to see those who haven’t had a lot of time in the spotlight. It really is anyone’s game to win, proven by the fact that the two couples who survived last week’s bottom 3 were saved this week, putting three brand new couples on to the chopping block. Oooooh, this season is gonna be good, ya’ll… Oh wait, I’m sorry. This season is gonna be “banoodles.”

Chelsea and Thayne start us off this week, and they’ll be performing a Jazz routine choreographed by Mandy Moore. After their amazing Cha-Cha last week, I considered myself the premiere member of the CHAYNE GANG (trademark – put it in my pocket), so I was more than excited about this routine. Who could have predicted this performance would so thoroughly and devastatingly break my heart? Ya’ll, this routine was a nightmare.

Besides the dreadful Elizabethan Circus clothes, the oddly incongruous choice of song (don’t get me wrong, I love the song: Untouched by The Veronicas), and the boring choreography (and really, isn’t that enough)… Chelsea looked uncomfortable and Thayne looked comatose. I mean, what happened?

Once the routine was over, there was nothing for me to do but shake my head and wait for the inevitable onslaught of bile from the judges, because I think we all knew this display was going to get ripped. Of course, it did, but not enough for me. There was so much left unsaid, and we’re going to fix that. Right. Now.

The real losers in this whole thing are Chelsea and Thayne; they were handed a really bad routine, forced into ridiculous costumes, and then verbally man-handled afterwards by the judges. The worst part is none of the judges pointed out the real problem: the choreography. The routine was flat-out boring. I kept waiting for things to heat up, but alas, it was 1. 5 minutes of stale. The lifts weren’t creative, the partner-work was cliché… I mean, it was just… boring, you know? How are Chelsea and Thayne supposed to tell the story of a forbidden romance in a royal court if the choreography doesn’t at least try to simulate it? Even the best performers will flop if the material is bad. Chelsea and Thayne got blasted for being unconvincing, but I’m not sure they could have done anything else to make the story come across short of shouting out narration. Nigel made it a point to make sure the audience understood that the dancers were not responsible for their wardrobe, but I think he could have gone further. They are also not responsible for shoddy choreography. I love Mandy Moore most of the time, but I think she needs a vacation or something, because that Sh*t was WHACK.

To be fair, though, I’m not sure Chelsea and Thayne were trying very hard. I like to think they hated the routine just as much as I (and, apparently, America) did, and that’s why they seemed so uninvested out there. Things might not have gone so badly if they’d really tried to sell it. I sensed that Chelsea was having trouble with her footwear, and Thayne may have just been OVER it. After watching the routine a couple more times, I think I get what Mandy Moore was trying to do, so I’ll amend my comments from, “That routine was TERRIBLE,” to, “That routine was WEAK.” I think weak is a better word, because it implies that the routine was good conceptually, but lacked any kind of pay-off. Well, I really hope they draw a better dance next week, because one more like this and I may have to unlink the Chayne gang.

The only good thing that came out of the first 10 minutes of the show was Chelsea taught me a new word, Exhuberating. Try using it in a sentence today.

Good NEWS! I don’t have nearly as much to say about all the other routines. REJOICE!

Chelsie and Mark will perform an Argentine Tango, which, if understand correctly, is a Tango only sexier. So basically, if the Tango is a PG-13, the Argentine Tango is an R. I’m not sure where the MPAA would have placed it, but I LOVED this routine. I mean, I love the Tango, anyway, and Chelsie and Mark were really hot. I loved the foot action… there was so much to watch what with all the kicking and leg-locking. I’m amazed these dances are so entertaining when one considers that the entire dance takes place in hold. Anyway, I agreed with the judges about Mark’s great performance. I thought he looked the part and played his role perfectly. Nigel said he would have liked Chelsie to be just a little bit sleazier, and maybe that is the correct assessment for an Argentine Tango, but I’m not sure I want my Chelsie to be any sleazier. She’s so cute and blonde and All-American… I’m not sure Slut will work on her. I think it would make me uncomfortable.

Also, I spent probably 30 minutes too long re-watching the video of this routine trying to find exactly when Chelsie’s pinky toe escaped her shoe.

Will and Jessica are next up with a Hip-Hop routine by Cicily & Olisa. Ya’ll, Jessica may be in trouble. It’s not because she’s white… it’s because she can’t move past choreography. I’m not a hip-hop expert by any means, but I do know that Hip-Hop requires a certain attitude… a certain looseness. It isn’t about the moves, but rather the attitude in which they are delivered. I’m not sure that attitude can be taught.

In a surprise, I thought Jessica did pretty well. Nigel nailed it when he said that she looked kind of sloppy dancing next to Will (who was awesome), but she held her own. I liked that he also mentioned how cheerleader-y she looked at times, but I don’t think it was so much a dig at her as much as a statement of fact. I imagine a lot of white girls will look cheerleader-y when they dance hip-hop… again, because it can’t be taught. In another surprise, I actually liked the routine. I confess that I was getting tired of the faster-paced hip-hop routines on this show, but this one brought me back.

Kourtni and Matt will be hitting it up ballroom style this week with a Jean-Marc Genereux Foxtrot. Just FYI, the Foxtrot is one of my fav ballroom dances. Matt is, like, made for the Foxtrot… with his height, his build, his slicked back, dark hair and charming face. He’s the perfect leading man for a dance like this, and he performs with elegance and grace. Kourtni, however, is just alright for me. Her hair isn’t working for her at all, so that’s distracting, but besides that, she doesn’t seem as graceful… her movements don’t seem as effortless. Mia says Kourtni doesn’t “own” her size yet, whatever the hell that means, but I, too, sensed Kourtni was awkward out there. She needs to work that out. Show did her a huge favor pairing her up with Matt, who is her only equal when it comes to height. They could have paired her with Gev, who I think may be a hobbit, and then she would be really uncomfortable. And I need to add, I hope she leaps across the stage and claws out Nigel’s eyes the next time he calls her fat on national TV.

Courtney and Gev, who I’ve affectionately dubbed the Shire-Folk of So You Think You Can Dance, will be performing a Contemporary routine by Mandy Moore. Mandy is in my dog-house right now, and she better not sabotage another couple I like. Aaaaaand she doesn’t. Even though this routine seemed kind of Mia Michaels Lite, I enjoyed watching the connection between Courtney and Gev. You can totally tell he is mad crushing on her. It’s really cute and really depressing at the same time, because she has a boyfriend, but all of the unrequited love underneath the surface makes this performance even more fun to watch. I was glad to see some interesting lifts and partner work, mostly because I was starting to think Mandy Moore had lost it. She must have been tired when she worked on Chayne’s Jazz routine. That’s the only explanation that makes sense. Get some sleep, girl!

Also, in case I haven’t made it clear, Courtney and Gev are very short!! Like Hobbits!!

Which means Cat Deeley is a magical elf-giantess, just as I have suspected all along!

Next up, Joshua and Katee. Just so we’re all on the same page, most people still dislike Katee, thanks to that embarrassing display in Vegas, but Joshua has enough goodwill stored up in his cheeks to sustain them both through the winter. This week, they’ve chosen a Tyce Diorio Broadway routine set to some song from Godspell, and we’re promised lots of jazz hands. The routine is a high-spirited, fast-paced, frenzy of Broadway clichés (sorry, but it’s true), and I was kind of let down when it was over. I think Katee and Joshua did incredibly well, but I wasn’t nearly as excited about the routine as Nigel was. Frankly, I thought he’d lost his mind. It was good, but was it that good? Personally, I thought the choreography was uninspired, and the only reason the audience got into it was because it was fast. If you really watch, though, not a whole lot is going on. Geez, I must have been in some kind of bad mood when I watched this. Joshua and Katee are awesome… thrilling performance… blah, blah, blah… NEXT!

Susie and Marquis have hit a bit of luck, it seems. They’ve drawn the Salsa, and since Susie is a salsa dancer, this should be incredibly good news. Well, things start to fall apart rather quickly. In rehearsals, the choreographer, Alex da Silva, points out for our benefit that Susie isn’t really a salsa dancer… she’s a street dancer, but Susie overhears the comment and takes it to a deep, dark, not-so-spicy place in her heart. I don’t think Alex meant she sucked or anything. I think he was trying to build suspense by saying that her salsa background wasn’t necessarily going to help her master this routine, because it’s just that difficult. I suppose if I were insecure and terrified, I would have taken that comment badly as well, so I feel Susie’s pain, but I’m pretty sure Alex didn’t mean anything malicious.

Seeing the dance on stage, I have to say I didn’t hate it at all. It had a lot of potential. The choreography was, indeed, very difficult, but all things considered I enjoyed watching them perform. The judges… not so much. I get where they are coming from, though. There were moments when the dancing looked tentative (or labored, as Mia said), and I can’t say they always looked like they were having a great time up there, but I thought Susie was in character and Marquis did the best he could. The judges, like they often do, decided to dwell on the negative, ignoring the great tricks and decent Salsa stepping going on in that routine. Perhaps they were disappointed because it wasn’t great, even though Susie is a salsa dancer. She didn’t meet their expectations and they can’t let that slide. It’s funny, though, because that’s what I think Alex da Silva was trying to say when he accidentally insulted Susie in rehearsal. This routine was beyond any Salsa Susie had ever performed, and maybe he hoped that fact would be taken into consideration.

Ok, ya’ll, get ready for controversy! Twitchington will be dancing a Viennese Waltz by Jean-Marc Genereux, and this Waltz comes with baggage. Jean-Marc is dedicating this dance to his young daughter suffering from Rett Syndrome, a developmental disease that causes poor motor skills (I’m sure there’s more to Rett Syndrome, but that’s what show gives me). According to Jean-Marc, the only time his daughter seems to want to move is when she is watching other people dance, so this goes out to her.

Kherington looks beautiful in her flowy, white gown, and Twitch is all open-shirted and handsome. They glide across the floor doing lift after lift after lift while Celine Dion shrieks on the soundtrack. It’s very pretty and very emotional. Here comes Mia to destroy the mood.

But before we get to that… my thoughts. First of all, this was not a Viennese Waltz. This wasn’t even a Vietnamese Waltz. It was, in fact, an anti-Waltz. I think the dancers performed basic Waltz steps for less than 1% of the piece, and that’s kind of not acceptable. Other than that, I thought it was perfectly lovely, and I’m glad the choreographers got the chance to do it, because it clearly meant a lot to them. It’s all good for me to have thoughts about this dance, but what the heck are the judges supposed to do? It really puts the judges in a weird position… I mean, they can’t be honest, can they? So Mia, since she can’t crap on the dance itself, decides to critique Kherington’s smile, and we all know how that went. I’m not even going to go into what the judges had to say because, frankly, it’s all moot. It could have been a Viennese train wreck, but since it had a backstory involving a special needs child and the simultaneous pain and joy of parenting such a child, there’s nothing much to talk about. While a part of me appreciates what happened on stage (I mean, it’s for the children, I’m not a complete bastard), I kind of wish it had been a passable waltz, at least. I knew Nigel was going to try to explain, too, because he knows as well as I that we didn’t get any waltzing out of that number, but I mean… why even bother? Why even call it a French-Canadian Waltz? That was a contemporary number is ¾ time. Call it that and I’ll shut my face. As for Twitchington… congrats! A dance about a sick kid is what we call a FREE PASS!

Comfort and Chris are krumping, and since I’m lazy, I’m just going to refer back to my comments for Will and Jessica.

I thought Chris did pretty well, actually. I mean, the kid is white, so what was Nigel expecting? I need to call out Nigel for what is turning out to be an alarming double standard. An hour or so ago, he was giving Jessica the benefit of the doubt with her hip-hop routine, but he pans Chris’s performance, even though he’s dealing with the exact same situation. Why is that, Nigel? And while I’m at it… why does Nigel give the hip-hop dancers credit when they perform decently in a ballroom dance or a broadway dance, but won’t give the contemporary dancers credit when they krump? I’m not defending Chris’s krumping… it was pretty bad. I’m jusy saying Nigel’s negative comments were a little over the top, especially when he grabbed his crotch. I don’t want to see that. Oh, and Chris… I’m sorry you don’t want to grab your crotch. I’ll admit it’s a little unsavory. But this is krump! If Li’l C tells you to grab the boys… GRAB ‘EM and MEAN IT.

My Top 3?

Ummm… wow. This is hard. I really didn’t love any of the routines this week. But I guess I’ll go with:

1. Chelsie and Mark – Argentine Tango
2. Courtney and Gev – Contemporary
3. Katee and Joshua – Broadway

My bottom 3?

1. Comfort and Chris – Krumping
2. Chelsea and Thayne – Jazz
3. I’m sooooo tempted to put Twitchington’s Waltz here, but… Jessica and Will – Hip-Hop

On elimination night, there was a Shane Sparks routine that I think I liked, except I couldn’t really follow it because the cameras were frikkin’ EVERYWHERE!

The bottom three couples were: Comfort and Chris, Chelsea and Thanye, and Susie and Marquis. So I was 2 for 3. I totally knew Chayne was busted because they went first, their routine was boring and unmemorable, and Mandy Moore broke my heart. I wasn’t surprised to see Comfort and Chris at the bottom because that routine just wasn’t very good, dancing-wise or krumping-wise. I’m not really sure what krumping is (textbook definition, anyway), but I do know that that wasn’t it. It’s hard to say if Comfort and Chris were to blame or the choreography, but none of that matters because they’re in the bottom 3 regardless. Even though I don’t believe Susie and Marquis deserved to be in the bottom 3 based on last night’s performances, I wasn’t shocked to see them there. From what I’ve heard and read, people just HATE Susie, and for a variety of reasons. Some say she isn’t good enough for the Top 20. Others insist she got through on looks alone. Others are convinced she’s a transvestite. I don’t have the same knee-jerk hatred towards her, but I’ll admit I’m not a fan, so I wasn’t upset when she got the boot. Chelsea and Comfort danced her off the stage, so I was all… fair is fair.

The boys had an even playing field, all three being contemporary dancers, so they all kind of did the same thing… showing off their kicks and leaps. I was “exuberated” when Thayne was saved, because I love him, but between Chris and Marquis, I was very six-of-one. The judges ultimately sent Marquis home, which the audience brutally boo’ed, but I enjoyed, because that means all the couples are still intact, which is the way I prefer things to work out.

So BYE Susie and Marquis! Apparently, you’re Salsa routine just wasn’t “banoodles” enough.

Oh, and P.S. That flamenco dancer on elimination night was something else, right? I mean, talk about smarmy. Would you still be my friend if I said I liked it? Because I did, a little bit. The lack of shirt was a plus.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

MVD 6-19-08 Cyndi Lauper / Into the Nightlife...

I’ve never been a huge Cyndi Lauper fan, which is weird because I was most certainly a child of the 80’s. And of course I love Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (I have the ringtone!). I guess I just didn’t know much about her.

When her new album, Bring Ya to the Brink came out a week or two ago, I bought it on a whim because Amazon described as a dance/pop/club album, and I’m such a sucker for dance music. Ya’ll – best. Impulse. Purchazzie. EVER!

My favorite song on the album (and the first single) is called Into the Nightlife. Plug in the earphones, turn up the volume, close your eyes…

You can ask any of my friends – I don’t do clubs, but if the music is always like this, I would definitely like them more.

And seriously, I love that lyric:

Shirtless wonders wreck my sight… I’m now officially a Fan!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Oh, Honey… No. This just won’t do...

I suppose it had to happen eventually.

I can now say that there is a photograph of Daniel Radcliffe in which I do not (GASP!) find him attractive.

All the good things are there: piercing blue eyes… shy, unassuming smile… stylish wardrobe.

But there’s a certain right-off-the-Quidditch-pitch-ness about him. He looks like he’s about to pass out from overexertion. I mean, did he sprint to this event? Also, I can’t decide if his eyebrows are just windblown or if they’re in the process of migrating elsewhere, perhaps to bridge the gap between the two. This is the first time I’ve looked at Daniel and thought, “Wow… without help he would have a unibrow.”

Normally, I enjoy seeing my favorite boys all hot and sweaty. I guess I should clarify: sweaty = good; flushed/pale/ill = bad.

And finally, this photo was taken on the Red Carpet of the Tony’s. I know I’m no looker, but I think I would shave before appearing at a nationally televised awards ceremony. That might not be the “hip” thing to do, but I can’t pull off the whole scruffy look like some others can and I’m thinking that’s one thing Daniel and I have in common. So, Daniel, for the love of Dumbledore, please do whatever you have to do to be hot again. I would help, but I don’t know the magic words for “man-scaping.”

And just so we don’t forget the good ‘ol days…

Monday, June 16, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Top 20

I always approach a new season of every show with a little bit of apprehension, especially when the season preceding it was, like, awesome. Thus, I turned on Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance with more apprehension than ever, because last season was more than awesome… it was sublime and magical and everything good wrapped up in Sabra’s cute little ankle warmers. I knew from watching (and recapping) all of the audition episodes that the judges had picked up some incredible talent during their travels, but would these dancers be able to live up to my impossible standards? Somehow, I doubt it, but I’m watching anyway, because that’s what I do.

Rayven and Jamie, Hip-Hop by Tabitha and Napoleon

First up, Rayven and Jamie, or as I like to call them, who? and who again? Rayven, the mistress of superfluous y’s, is a ballet dancer, and Jamie is a practitioner and educator of West Coast Swing. Before they even dance, I know they’re in trouble. Not only have we never seen them before in any kind of context, except for maybe the smallest of reaction shots during the auditions or Vegas Week, but they are also dancing first, which is where the producers like to “thin the herd.” I suppose that drawing Hip-Hop as their first genre is a small consolation, since Hip-Hop usually fares well with the voters. Their dance is choreographed by the new Hip-Hop gurus, Tabitha and Napoleon, whom I really like so far, mostly because I think their names are catchy, like, I want to name a restaurant after them or something. Rayven and Jamie are dressed in urban-preppie ensembles, complete with argyle, trucker hat, and silk scarf (all of which are obvious ploys to destroy the little street cred they have), and are dancing to one of my new fav songs, American Boy, by Estelle.
Now, I didn’t hate this routine nearly as much as everyone else, judging by what I’ve read, but I freely admit that it wasn’t great. It was soft when it should have been hard, goofy when it should have been cheeky and all sorts of lame when it should have been cool. Some of the blame must go to Tab and Nap, I suppose, because no one can say that Rayven and Jamie didn’t do their darndest to sell it, but you know what they say… the best used car salesman in the world is still selling used cars. It’s tempting to say other dancers may have fared better with it, but since that will never happen, there’s no use arguing the point. All I saw was a not great routine. Hell, if a very attractive guy getting his pants pulled down and showing off his goodies doesn’t help, then the whole venture is probably doomed.

HOWEVER, I do appreciate the different flavor Tab and Nap are bringing to hip-hop. I like that they’ve devised a way to make the genre a little softer, a little less serious, a little more universal. But I think this routine proves that hip-hop doesn’t always translate well into goofball.

Suzie and Marquis, Smooth Waltz by Hunter Thompson

Next up is Suzie and Marquis. Suzie is the much-maligned high school teacher / pussycat doll, and Marquis is another who? They will be dancing a Smooth Waltz, brought to you by another new choreographer (at least I think he’s new), Hunter Thompson. I’m always nervous for people who draw a slow ballroom dance during the first week, because I tend to forget about them, and I also think they get judged with a different set of standards, which is totally fair, but also confusing to the public. All of this to say, I barely watched. That is UNTIL they totally botched a lift. But kudos to them for their recovery. Although I knew they had messed up, neither of them let it show on their faces, and they saved it as best they could. That’s called working it out and I applaud them.

Kourtni and Matt, Jazz by Mandy Moore

I think Kourtni and Matt get the Ok-but-not-great-which-kind-of-disappoints-me award for the night. Kourtni was basically paraded into this competition with trumpets and tambourines and riding on a float made of money, and while that might seem like an advantage, it actually builds a sense of goodwill that can rapidly backfire if she blows it. Matt, likewise, was presented with glowing adoration through the audition process. And then they got Mandy Moore as the choreographer of their first routine, which is more good news for them, because Ms. Moore is only slightly behind Mia and Wade as my favorite choreographer on the show. And they drew jazz as their genre, and then Mandy picked "Tainted Love" as their song, and they’re dancing jewel thieves. The question is: how did something that sounds so fabulous end up being so… not? I’ve watched this routine quite a few times since last Thursday, and I’ve convinced myself that another couple, say… Sabra and Neil, for example, would have killed this routine… it could have been an instant classic. So where did the lauded and universally adored Kourtni and Matt go wrong? Personally, I think Kourtni over-acted, and Matt just looked out of his element. Nigel’s comment about Matt having a broomstick shoved up his butt might have been a little harsh, but he isn’t wrong about it, either. I think Matt has a personality, it’s just one that hasn’t adapted to this kind of dancing quite yet. For him, acting out a dance involves pulling faces, which just won’t work when there’s a camera aimed right at your mug. The emotions have to be real and the story-telling has to be sincere. Since he isn’t there yet, the dancing suffered, the overall performance suffered, and the chemistry between him and Kourtni REALLY suffered. BUT, I think he WILL get it, if he’s lucky enough to stay around. All of that said, they are both incredible dancers. I worry about their partnership a little bit, since they’re both gigantic… if they thought the puny lifts in Mandy’s routine were hard, just wait until they have to do disco or ballroom. I feel I have to reiterate, just one more time… I loved this routine, just not the people dancing it.

Chelsea and Thayne, Cha-Cha-Cha by Tony Meredith and Melanie

Next! Chelsea and Thayne. They’ve drawn the Cha-Cha-Cha, choreographed by Tony Meredith and Melanie. Before I talk about the dance, I must sidebar: ya’ll know how I secretly believe in all those conspiracy theories about producer manipulation and subliminal strategies to control the votes… smoke and mirrors and all that… well, these two are the DEBUNKERS. We’ve never seen nor heard from Chelsea (Chelsea who?) and Thayne got less than 10 seconds in Salt Lake City. Neither has a story, nor do they have fan-bases. And yet, here we are: they had my favorite routine of the night.

There’s no need to get too deep. Chelsea was fiery (in her purple, feathery, next-to-nothing slip of a dress) and Thayne was smokin’ hot. The movements were sharp, their technique was spot-on, they engaged the crowd, and seemed to have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. I don’t remember much about the choreography, but I do remember the raw, sexual energy coming off of Chelsea in waves. The judges were equally dazzled and heaped Chelsea with most of the compliments, while Thayne was credited with just keeping up with her. Well, I’ve watched the video a couple hundred times, and trust me, Thayne was working it out! He’s a little toothy, and he can get a little maniacal looking when he pulls his face, but otherwise, I’m feeling him... his hip action was good for me. Really good.

Chelsie and Mark, Contemporary by Mia Michaels

Mark, another one of our beloved who?’s, has been paired with Chelsie, the ballroom dancer from Salt Lake City with many brothers but not so many cars. It doesn’t really matter what I think of them, because they’ve drawn a Mia Michael’s contemporary routine, which translates to FREE PASS. Honestly, this routine isn’t my favorite of Mia’s routines. I’d go as far as to say I didn’t like it, but that sounds blasphemous, so I won’t. Was anyone else a little weirded out by Mia’s comments about Mark before we saw the dance? I mean, geez, lady, it’s week 1, we barely know the guy, and here you are throwing him under the bus. I’m sure she’s just trying to “keep it real” but I thought it was really bitchy. Anyway, Mia explains that this piece is an imagining of Tim Burton’s wedding, which, if I’m following her, means we’ll be seeing something that is macabre but sweet, quirky but moving. All I can see is Mark dancing like a molting bird and Chelsie trying to dance whilst bearing her own weight in tulle. That tutu was out of control. Some people liked it, but I thought it was a little distracting, and it obscured some of the more subtle movements, especially when the two were dancing together. All in all, it was good, and like I said, FREE PASS, but I didn’t cry or call my friends or take a picture of it or anything.

Kherington and Twitch, Broadway by Tyce Diorio

Next up are Twitch and Kherington, aka Twitchington. I have a feeling I’m going to be so tired of the word Twitchington by the time this season is over. Anyway, they will be performing a Tyce Diorio Broadway number, set to “Too Darn Hot” from Kiss Me Kate. I tend to run hot and cold with Tyce Diorio routines. His Lion King group number is one of my favorite routines, like, EVER, but some of the partner dances he has put together are just alright for me (sorry for that Randy Jackson moment, I’ll try not to do it again). And unfortunately for Twitchington, this routine left me cold. I will say that they were both terrific, and they did what they could with it, and for all I know, it was exactly what Tyce intended. The deal, though, is that Twitch could go onstage and run in place for 2 minutes and he’d still get a trillion votes. We just love him, don’t we? While I thought Kherington was very good, I think she was lucky to get paired with Twitch. She’ll ride him to the Top 10.

Comfort and Chris, Jive by Tony Meredith

Comfort (who is Comfort?) and Chris (the boy with the personality of a tree) (that sounds like a bad children’s book) must have some seriously bad luck. I always feel bad when the non-ballroom dancers have to do a ballroom number, but I feel even worse when they have to do it in the first week. I think contemporary dancers can pull it off easier than the hip-hoppers and breakers, but still… that’s a rough bit of luck. Comfort and Chris have chosen the Jive, choreographed by Tony Meredith, and ya’ll… it’s bad. Comfort looks uncomfortable and awkward (although, cheers for staying on those heels, girl), and Chris just looks desperate. As a couple, they look tentative and frightened, which they can’t hide by pulling their faces. If it wasn’t for Comfort’s incredibly likeable personality (“Bra… panties… BEADS!”), they would have certainly been in the Bottom 3. And even though I kind of hate it, because he’s just so cute, the first time Chris finds himself in the Bottom 3 will be his last.

Katee and Joshua, Hip-Hop by Tabitha and Napoleon

Katee, that girl who almost didn’t make it to the Top 20 when she pissed off the judges by being human and honest, and Joshua, the boy who cries a whole lot and whom I, therefore, adore, will be dancing a Tab&Nap hip-hop routine to the tune of “No Air” (or Ayuh, if we’re being phonetic about things) by Jordin Sparks. I was disappointed with the first hip-hop routine, so I was itching to like this one. And SCORE, second favorite routine of the night! I LOVED it. And here’s the thing: another couple might have blown it. Katee and Joshua were so committed, so deeply involved with the movements, that it never came across as cheesy or overwrought. It had feeling and substance, which made it work. It was soft hip-hop done right. Although, it does make me wonder if Tab&Nap are capable of truly hardcore hip-hop. We’ll see.

Jessica and Will, Tango by Hunter Thompson

There’s one more ballroom dance to get through, and it stars Jessica (Jessica WHO!?) and Will. I’ve never even seen Jessica before, but I remember liking Will. My first impression of Jessica is… not good. First, we find out it was she who misspelled Vegas at the Charleston auditions, and even though she spends her interview packet proving once and for all that she does know how to spell simple words, I think the damage is done. Second, her hair. Before I get to that, though, Will and Jessica will be dancing a Tango by Hunter Thompson. Will is flawlessly masculine, strong and graceful. She is wobbly on her heels and her hair makes her look like a ginger Sonic the Hedgehog. There are a couple of good lifts, and they successfully capture the mood of the dance, but the dancing is uncomfortable … I can see their nerves through the movements. I don’t get it, but the judges give them rave reviews. Mary even pronounces them the couple to beat. You know what, Mary? Not even! I won’t say the routine was bad, but it made me nervous, and that is bad.

Courtney and Gev, Disco by Doriana Sanchez

Last up, Courtney and Gev. First of all, love this couple. I think it’s a great pairing with a lot of potential. Unfortunately for them, their first test is Disco, choreographed by Doriana Sanchez. Ya’ll, I love Disco, but only when it’s done right. There’s a vibe to it, a spirit. I think people’s bodies just moved differently back then. I can imagine how hard it must be to teach these young, very modern dancers how to “feel” Disco. Anyway, I think the routine is enjoyable to watch, and I’m almost certain Courtney and Gev did the absolute best they could. I’d venture to say Gev may be the weaker of the two, but this dance was all about survival.

Ok, my three favorites were:
1. Cha-Cha by Chelsea and Thayne
2. Hip-Hop by Katee and Joshua
3. Jazz by Mandy Moore (Ok, fine… and Kourtni and Matt)

My Bottom Three are:
1. Hip-Hop by Rayven and Jamie
2. Tango by Jessica and Will
3. Jive by Comfort and Chris

America’s Bottom Three turned out to be:
1. Rayven and Jamie
2. Kourtni and Matt
3. Jessica and Will

So far, so good, America. We basically agreed.

Wade Robson is back for the first group number of the season! It’s too bad I didn’t like it. I know, I can’t believe I said it, either. Let me explain. I did like the dancing – I love Wade’s style. But I thought Nigel’s big face ruined it. Why did we have to point the camera at him every five seconds? We missed so much dancing! Another small quibble: the hair and make-up on the dancers made it hard to pick out my favorites. Otherwise, it was splendid.

On elimination night, the judges sent Rayven and Jamie home, and I can’t disagree. I was totally onboard with giving Rayven the boot, especially after she performed solo without going on point. Nigel took the words out of my mouth with his critique. She was brought on to the show because of her ballet background… it was a mistake not to show it off. Meanwhile, Kourtni was terrific and Jessica looked injured. On the boys’ side, there was no way in hell the judges were going to send Will home, and Matt had a decent solo, so the short straw went to Jamie. I have to say, I felt bad for the kid. I’ve always felt that the whole dancing-for-your-life bit gives the breakers and poppers (and on occasion, the contemporary dancers) an incredible advantage, while the ballroom dancers get screwed. It’s hard to stand out with samba steps, especially when the next guy spins on his head, bends himself into a pretzel, and closes out with some tumbling. That said, Jamie didn’t have a prayer, which is sad, because he was kind of cute. I think he could have wowed us with a ballroom routine or a contemporary routine. Now we’ll never know. And speaking of: with Jamie gone, we don’t have any male ballroom dancers. Jamie wasn’t even a ballroom dancer, technically speaking, but he was the closest we had. It makes me miss Pasha. Where is Pasha, anyway? What the heck happened to him??

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Who needs Animal Planet?

I’ve only just recently started calling my apartment “home” and meaning it. The process is slow, and I’m still not completely finished, but it’s becoming what I always envisioned it would be: my place. I love many things about it, but the thing I love most is my porch. I got really lucky when I got the place, because I was able to land an apartment at the very back of the property facing the woods behind. It’s so much better than having a scenic overlook of the parking lot, trust me. For one thing, it’s great that I don’t have to get dressed to go sit on my porch (I’m not in the habit of sitting out there nude but it’s nice to know I could if I wanted to). What I really enjoy is watching the woods.

From my porch, I have a great view of a fairly dense patch of trees and the tall, wooden fence that marks off the complex’s property. The squirrels are rambunctious and very active throughout the day, and the trees right on the edge make good homes, apparently. They scamper right along the top edge of the fence and jump from the branches and dive bomb one another from incredible heights, and I’m never at a loss for entertainment. I’m not a casual observer, though. They have marked me, and they watch me just as I watch them. Earlier this year, I was pretty sure there was a nest of baby squirrels very close to my enclave, because every time I came out, a squirrel, who I very uncreatively named Mama, would come bounding down from some unseen place and bark at me in that high-pitched, yet oddly unexpected, yip that squirrels have. At first, it was unnerving, because I kept expecting her to leap at my throat in a fit of paranoia and rage, and… that’s really not the way I want to go. But luckily, she was all bark and no flying berserker. I will say, for the record, though, that squirrels do in fact throw things. When I was going to school at Furman, we always had an inkling that the squirrels enjoyed throwing acorns on us as we walked beneath them, but we could never prove it. Well, I’ve seen it first hand, and… they most certainly do. The good news is: they have sucky aim.

The birds also play a vital role. I’m not a birdwatcher or anything, but I have enjoyed seeing cardinals, bluejays, robins, woodpeckers, and doves and other breeds I can easily identify twittering about. I also see lots of crows. I don’t know the difference between crows and ravens, but these creatures are the big ones. I swear, I’ve seen some as big as turkeys, except I wouldn’t want to eat one. They harass the squirrels viciously, and I’ve witnessed several nasty altercations from my private box. One incident, which was actually kind of frightening, occurred not too long ago. I was sitting inside with the blinds open, and suddenly, a dark shape was flapping very close to my window. I jumped up to see what was going on, and apparently, the crow had attacked one of my squirrel friends. I should say now, before I proceed, that I’m a vehement squirrel supporter. I don’t know if it’s because I’m also a mammal or what, but I always pull for them in these disputes. Anyway, the poor squirrel was on the ground with a massive crow hovering menacingly above her. After a few moments of posturing, the battle proper began, and I quickly become worried for the squirrel’s life. The crow was hitting her with claw and beak, not to mention it was easily twice as big, but the squirrel gave back as much as she took. The fight was epic, ya’ll. I believe it ended in a stale mate, once the crow realized my friend wouldn’t be an easy snack, but I’m pretty sure they don’t sign peace treaties. Hopefully, that crow moved on for good.

A bird I do happen to be fond of lives in the pond at the center of my complex. The “fishing hole,” as we affectionately call it, was one of the main reasons I decided to move into the place. It’s a very well-kept, very pretty artificial lake with a fountain that is kept stocked with fish. People really do fish in it, although, I can’t imagine the fish would be any good to eat. Maybe they catch and release. Anyway, the keeper of the pond is a mallard duck named Rufus (Li’l Sis named him). It’s a mystery why Rufus has decided to make this pond his permanent abode, because it’s rare to see a duck living alone. At first, we thought maybe he was crippled, or really old, and that’s why he didn’t migrate with the rest of the ducks. Well, he isn’t crippled because he flies just fine, and it’s rude to ask his age, so I guess we’ll just never know. Anyway, every time I leave and every time I return, I always look for Rufus to see what he’s up to. Usually, he’s cruising lazily in the pond, but he’s been known to venture forth on webbed feet into the inner reaches of the apartment complex. He enjoys socializing with the many dogs that take their walks around the complex, and he isn’t afraid of people at all. I’ve only discussed Rufus with a handful of my neighbors, but everyone knows him and loves him, though they may call him by a different name. I’m embarrassed, but I find myself worrying about Rufus quite a bit. I worry about visitors to the complex not watching for him on the roads. I worry that he might be lonely. I worry when I don’t see him as I come home in the evenings. I worry about myself and my irrational attachment to a duck.

Back to my porch. As I mentioned, my porch faces the back of the property, and the lay-out works out just so that my porch provides a very cozy shelter from wind and rain. While this is great for watching a thunderstorm pass (one of my favorite things), it also means I have a great many creepy crawlies setting up residence. I’m not a huge fan of spiders, but I appreciate them for what they do. But, I have to admit, the situation I’m currently living with makes me uncomfortable. I have spiders on all four corners of my porch, and they don’t look they’re going anywhere. My relationship with them follows the same set of rules I have with all insects, which is based on mutual respect; I won’t bother them if they don’t bother me. Thus, if feels wrong to murder them if they’re outside, which is where they’re supposed to be. Now, if they come inside, into my space, all bets are off… may the best bottom part of my shoe win. Of course, my porch presents a conundrum. It’s my space, but it’s outside. After deliberation, I’ve decided to leave them be, if they stay still and don’t get up on me. I’ve named them Terror, Horror, Panic, and Eeeeeeek! Our arrangement seems to be working, although I do feel like I’m getting the bad end of the deal. They get their corners, and I have to stand, like, right in the center of my own porch, all nervous like. They’re lucky I’m so diplomatic.

I can’t begin to tell you how eager I am to contribute my own animal life to the complex. I have decided that I will get a dog, and to be honest, I’m not sure how much longer I can wait. A lot will ride on how my job negotiations go at the end of this month, but no matter what, I’m pretty much set on having a puppy of my very own by Christmas. I’m super-pumped about it. Before you know it, this blog will cease to be about anything except picture spam of my beautiful new lab, or cocker spaniel, or collie, or mutt… I haven’t decided. The point is… get ready.

This is one of my favorite sites on the Internet, and you know I'll be contributing once I have a puppy. Click!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Auditions: Milwaukee

What’s that smell? It’s Milwaukee, the last stop on our grand tour of the country to find America’s Most Favoritest Dancer. But before we get to the dairy farmers who think they can dance, we must meet some amazing talents who didn’t fit into their city’s episodes.

Now where did I put my cheesehat?…

Katee and Natalie are two hardcore besties from L.A. who live together, work out together, and go to dance auditions together. They aren’t as sad as Michelle and Kortney, for this I am grateful, and they are both incredibly gifted. After the obligatory ruminations on whether the world will implode should one make it while the other doesn’t (answer: No, but one will surely be homeless), Katee takes the stage to audition. She is awesome, which is expected since Cat Deeley told us she would be, and her spunky personality shines through the movements. Right behind her is Natalie, whose audition is darker, yet just as technically excellent. Both girls make it through to Vegas, which means they can continue to be friends.

Back in D.C., there was Michael, a breaker who has been through this rigmarole before. Last year he made it to Vegas, but got creamed by Mary’s salsa, which sounds all kinds of dirty (and spicy). I’m not confident about how much he has learned since then, because he apparently still doesn’t know that he got creamed by a samba rather than a salsa, a point which Mary is quick to point out, but the judges decide if he was good enough a year ago, he’s surely still good enough for a second chance. We’ll see him in Vegas.

Speaking of salsa, there’s a couple in D.C. who actually can (here’s the video, I have it bookmarked and watch it at least 40 times a day). Jeanette reminds me of Cheryl Burke in a vague kind of way and her partner, Romulo, has pelvic tattoos. Obviously, I’m a big fan already. Their routine is jaw-droppingly cool, with incredibly dangerous-looking lifts and tricks. Actually, I think they’ve moved beyond “tricks” and into “stunts”, so much so that I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they rehearse in helmets. Is there such a thing as ballroom insurance? The highlight of the routine occurs as Romulo juggles Jeanette’s head like a hacky sack with his feet, causing pandemonium in the auditorium.

The judges aren’t so much impressed by the actual dancing, but they admit the tricks are enough to carry them through to choreography. Jeanette breezes through the next round and on to Vegas, but sadly has to leave Romulo and his awesome abdominal artwork behind. They assure us that we’ll see him next year, though.
Ok, back to business.

Our first dancer in Cheese Country, USA, is Bianca, a tapper from Chicago. She’s wearing a wifebeater and suspenders, and with her tall, lanky frame, she’s the very picture of cool. I know absolutely nothing about tap, but she’s obviously well-trained, which she proves by name-dropping a ton of famous tappers, only two of whom I’ve heard. And even though she didn’t do anything in her audition to prove she can do anything besides tap, the judges send her straight through to Vegas.

James Davis is my favorite person in the entire universe. He’s a bright-eyed, auburn-haired, country boy and he has a dream, ya’ll. His preparation has been thorough and well-researched. He hired no less than five choreographers and coaches to put together his audition, and he feels very confident that he will make it through to Vegas. I can tell he’s never watched any Reality T.V. before by the way he sets himself up here. Reality T.V. Rule No.1: Never be overly confident, for it will be your doom.

His routine is a joyous celebration of dance movies of the 80’s, including jazz hands a la A Chorus Line, leaps a la Kevin Bacon in Footloose, and floor slides a la John Travolta in Staying Alive. I was sad to see he left out the maniacal gyrations of Flashdance, but maybe that was cut for time. Anyway, despite the smile he brought to everyone’s faces, the judges nail him for being a cornfed anachronism, and James’s reaction of disbelief is so precious that I want to hug him and then slap him and then maybe hug him some more. Ya’ll, he just DIDN’T KNOW! As he exits, James promises to go back to the drawing board, and for his sake, I hope his choreographers watch a current music video between now and next year, or James may show up in hammer pants. (Something to look forward to.)

The next performer, Evan, makes me swoon. He’s a Gene Kelly throwback – he even does hat tricks. Unlike James, this kid knows how to make nostalgia work. He made me a little nervous with all the hat tosses and such; I was afraid one of the judges would accuse him of being gimmicky. Luckily though, Evan is smart as well as sexy (look at the gun show he’s got going on!)…

and throws in just enough leaps and spins to convince the panel that he is, in fact, a good dancer. The judges quickly dispatch him to Vegas, while I go take a cold shower.

Kourtni (Ok, seriously, how many different ways are there to spell one name) is a brilliant contemporary dancer who happens to bear a striking resemblance to Uma Thurman. I saw it before Nigel did, I swear. I was all, Look, it’s Poison Ivy! I can’t recall much about the audition, other than that it was good, but I do remember Nigel mentioning something about Kill Bill: the Musical and thinking that was the greatest idea ever! Get on that, Tarantino.

My mother’s family is from Wisconsin, and if you’ve never been there, you’ve never heard the accents… and that’s just a crying shame. That’s why I almost cried when Tom, the dairy farmer, opened his mouth. All he said was, “I raise earless goats,” and I was a hysterical mess! It wasn’t what he said; it was how he said it, with that perfect Wisconsin lilt that makes me warm inside like grandmother’s cookies. Curse me for not knowing how to rip audio from YouTube so I can make an Mp3 of it and share it with you, but only after I make it my default ringtone. Oh, his dancing? I couldn’t tell you. I was distracted.

Do you see that girl over there? Yeah, the girl with pink highlights in her hair, wearing the mini-mini-skirt and navel-baring shirt, covered from head to toe in body glitter and drowning in her own makeup… yes, that girl teaches high school. What of it? I mean, you don’t think she dresses like that at school, do you? And even if she does, she’s in Miami and they have different standards. That girl, Suzie, is a mixed bag of Shakira and Latin ballroom, and although I am most certainly not impressed with her dancing, the judges decide that she’s HOT and send her to choreography. I get really tired when Nigel does stuff like that, and even more tired when Mary lets him get away with it.

We now return to the continuing saga of Yesenia and Phillip. These two characters were big players in last year’s pre-Top-20 activities, so logically, the show feels obligated to give them even more screen-time. Screw all those other people we didn’t get to see who may or may not be important to the rest of the season – this is a multi-season story arc we’re talking about here! Last year, as I mentioned before, both dancers (or just Yesenia… I really can’t remember) made it to Vegas and actually did very well, coming just short of the final cut. After getting booted, Yesenia changed her life – she lost 50 pounds, continued to perfect her technique, and this year, dammit, nothing will stop her. She stomps up to the stage in her massive space boots and we prepare for what will definitely be a stand-out audition. She starts going full-throttle hip-hop – lots of attitude, lots of booty, lots of… wait. Her knee just gave out. Almost 10 years of Reality T.V. has hardened my heart into a rocky, inhospitable place, but even I got misty. I can’t even make a joke. That kind of disappointment is the worst kind: all of that hard work – sabotaged by an uncooperative knee.

Her friend, Phillip, follows immediately after, and he gives an inspired breaker audition that doesn’t do anything for me, really, but I can tell it’s pretty good. He’s an emotional wreck, of course, having just watched his best friend come to such a miserable pass, but as the tears flow, so does the love, because the judges inform him that he’s moving straight on to Vegas. I think the whole room needed something good to happen at this point.

There were other great auditions, including:

1. Victor – the guy who dressed up like Zorro, danced like a fool, and acted like a douche to make some convoluted statement about individualism versus the pressures of society. Dude, this is SYTYCD – it’s just not that deep. Go take a Zoloft, you’ll feel better…

2. Ashley - the best and worst dancer that has ever been. Her personality was better than any Mia Michaels routine. I’m feeling the vibe, that’s all I’m saying…

3. Rebecca – the girl who was way too sparkly in L.A. but redeemed herself in Milwaukee by being more emo…

4. Brice – the breaker from Cameroon who entertains barely lucid senior citizens so much he forgot how to have any stage presence (awww… that was mean! FORGIVE!)…

5. Cooper – the best male contemporary dancer we will never see again…

6. Raymond – the guy who can’t handle the fact that dancing is simply metaphorical sex in public, at least according to Nigel’s definition…

7. Hau Hou – the guy who showed up in some kind of traditional garb that may or may not have been a Halloween costume purchased at your local Party City. Also, he may have flashed his (CENSORED!). The new judge, Tabitha, was appropriately scandalized…

8. Lizz – a white, female tap dancer to balance out Bianca. She’s good, but she talks a lot (this will be important later).

And finally, a “mystery guest…”

So there you have it, ya’ll. The auditions are over and we’re off to Sin City!
P to the S. If you’re like me and watching this show on T.V. as it airs just isn’t enough (and these recaps just make you tired [I love doing them, but, Lord, they take a long time]), here are two very useful and mostly reliable links that I use to relive the magic.

First and Second.