Sunday, July 28, 2013

SYTYCD 10: 16 to 14 Recap - Before You Danced Into My Life I Missed You So Bad

We're back, Dance Fans! I hope you enjoyed the All-Star Break. Isn't two weeks such an awfully long time to wait for more of our favorite show?? Hopefully all our dancers come back well rested and full of energy and injury FREE! We have 7 Contempos, 3 ballers, 3 tappa tappa tappas, 2 hip hoppers, 1 animazing still in the mix. Can you believe we still have THREE tappa tappa tappa's? Incredible. Let's get to it!

When the show starts, Cat is speaking but I can't hear nothin'. I try to adjust my TV, but it's not me it's them. My DVR always freaks out right at the beginning of SYTYCD making me miss the first few seconds of the group dance before it settles down, but this was on a new level of dysfunction. They had sound issues two weeks ago as well. C'mon Emmy nominated, Show. Get it together.

Opening number choreographed by Stacey Tookey and Peter Chu. Music: “New World” by The Irrepressibles.

We get lots of Jasmine Harper special moments as she's lifted into the air by the boys. Very red costumes get ripped off in favor of beige costumes. Fik-shun stands out here as well. It's a fun opening number. Maybe I expected a little more after two weeks away. I do love the group shot posted above though!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Who Run The World? (PIES!)

(Bey is crazy in love with pie.)

So my friend David is in Australia teaching health education models to school programs. At least I think he's in Australia and I'm pretty sure that's what he's doing. It takes too much energy for me to really keep close tabs on him, but last time I was paying attention that's where he was heading and that's what he was going to do there. ANYWAY, earlier today, (which might have been tomorrow for him, given the time zones) he posted this to Facebook:

Quote of the Week
Me: Okay so the rules of the game go like this. We must keep the ball in the air for as long as we can, and you can't hit the ball twice in a row. That's all there is to it. Are there any questions? Student: Hey! Why don't we all be PIES??
Me: ..........................................................

My immediate gut reaction to this was: Who run the world? Pies.

I wrote that in the comments and then spent the whole rest of the morning singing "Who run the world? Pies! Who run the world? Pies!" I don't really know why inspired this, but it made me very happy. So later I decided to go through the lyrics and adapt the whole song to be about pies running the world. I share it with you now. Warning: it might make you very hungry for pie.

Who Run The World? (Pies!)

PIES! We run this mother (yeah!) [4x]
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!) 

Some of them cakes think they freak this 
like we do - but no they don't!
Make your knife slice at their center
Disrespect us? No they won't!

Cakes, don't even try to touch this!
Boy, this crust is crazy!
This is how they made me.
Kenmore Kitchen, baby!
This goes out to all my pies that's on the counter cooling
Who will buy it for themselves and get the others drooling?
I think I need a baker
None of these chefs can make me
I'm so good with this.
I remind you I'm the food you miss!

Cake, I'm just playing! Come here, baby.
Hope you still like me, F' you pay 4 me
Taste sensation, can thrill a nation
Endless power, the fillings we can devour!
You'll do anything for me...

Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)

It's hot up in the kitchen
Don't be scared to run this - run this back
I'm repping for the Pies
who taking over the world
help me raise a glass for the pastry snacks

Baking pin rolling
to let you know what time it is, check
You can't hold me
I smell great 9 to 5, better cut my check
This goes out to all the fresh pies getting it in you're on your grind
To other sweets that respect what I do please accept my shine
Boy you know you love it how we're rich enough to make these millions
Sweet enough to please the children (children) then get back to business.
See, you better not play me.  Oh, come here baby.
Hope you still like me. F' you pay 4 me.

Taste sensation
can thrill a nation
Endless power,
the fillings we can devour 
You'll do anything for me...

Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run this mother? Pies!
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who run the world? Pies (Pies!)
Who are we? What we run?! The world (Who run this mother?)
Who are we ? What we run!? The world (Who run this mother?)
Who are we? What do we run?! We run the world (Who run this mother?!)
Who are we?! What we run?! We run the world!! Who run the world? PIES!!

Anyone who wants to record this on a track and make a music video. Just let me know and give me credit for the killer lyrics. You're welcome, America. You're welcome, The Pie-Run World!

SYTYCD 10: 18 to 16 Recap - Dance Like There's No Tomorrow!

Welcome Back, Dance Fans! Remember how fun it was last week when they changed the format and everyone watching the show freaked out and forced them to change it back? Wasn't that FUN? What kind of changes in the show might fan outrage spark this week? Only time will tell! 7 Contempos, 3 ballers, 3 tappa tappa tappas, 2 hip hoppers, 2 animazings and 1 Jazz hands remain. Let's get to it!

Opening number choreographed by Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott Music: “Pretty Face (Nathan Lanier Remix)” by Soley

Dual choreographers! Everyone's dancing in ethereal white costumes and there's this funeral pyre made of light and they all keep jumping off into the white flames in highly dramatic poses as if they are taking part in Pippin's Grand Finale. I like what Sonya and Christopher are cooking up together. When it's done, Cat comes out looking more gorgeous and radiant than ever (Fourth of July Weekend OBVIOUSLY agreed with her) and asks us if we noticed that there were 17 dancers on stage instead of 18. We all shake out heads, "No..." because 17 people is still a lot of bodies to account for on a stage that size and with lighting that dramatic. But it was Jade who was missing. Jade aggravated an old knee injury and it's going to require surgery and he can no longer continue in the competition. That's a shame! I don't wish injury on any of them. But I had figured this was probably his last week anyway so I don't think it drastically cut short his time on the show.  Cat also acknowledges the fan outrage from last week in the sweetest way possible and then introduces the judges of which there are so many tonight. Joining Nigel and Mary this week are Erin Andrews (Dancing With The Stars vet and Fox MLB All-Star Game representative) and the incomparable Paula Abdul. I cannot believe it's taken 10 effing seasons for Paula to show up on this show, especially given her professional connections to Nigel, her love of all things dance, her judging of every other reality competition show on Fox and her actually multiple Emmy awards for choreography. What took so long? And why is she sharing the spotlight on this night with Erin Andrews? I'm surprised it's not Paula Abdul Tribute Night where they all have to dance to Paula's hits from the 80's. THAT's how you show proper respect. I can't believe I'm missing a Sonya number to Cold Hearted Snake! NappyTabs doing Opposites Attract! Mandy Moore doing Forever Your Girl! Top 18 doing Vibeology! Oh man, Nigel. You totally missed the boat on this one. TOTALLY.

So we were able to get the eliminations back at the end of the show, but not the reveal of the bottom six and not the dance for your life solos. Mob protests only gets you so much. Cat rips the band aid off quick and lets us know the bottom dwellers are BluPrint, Curtis, Jade, Alexis, Jenna and... Jasmine Mason? Huhbuhwha? That's crazy! Jasmine is AMAZING. Her tango last week was a total stand out. What's going on? Obviously with Jade in the bottom three AND injured he's the eliminated guy this week and Curtis and BluPrint are safe. Meanwhile, the girls will all be asked to perform solos to fill some time in tonight's schedule.

As the girls stand together, I notice a curious bandage wrapped around Jasmine's arm. Is she injured? Nobody says so, but it's around her whole bicep. I've seen enough tennis players play with practically their whole bodies wrapped to prevent injury to know this could just be done as a precuation, but I'm worried nonetheless. Season 8 had people dropping seemingly every week from injury. Remember that bullshit? Now there might be a second dancer who's injured? I wonder if they won't just dump Jasmine now to avoid a possible withdrawal next week. Is that's what's going on here, Nigel? We'll have to see how #BandageGate unfolds. The solos are all fine. They're better than last week and Alexis in particular here is pretty cool, but no one whips out a hidden straight razor and slashes their wrists in desperation, so Nigel probably wasn't that impressed overall for another week running. On to the routines!  

Amy and Fik-Shun - Paso Doble by Jean-Marc Genereux, Music: “Tactical Dominance (Orch Hybrid Version)” by Jack Trammell
It's a Paso War! Amy vs. Fik-Shun! This routine is very reminiscent of Jeanine and Brandon's classic Matrix-inspired paso routine down to the black leather costumes. It's a very solid execution of the paso. Fik-Shun's shoulders are too tense, and it draws my attention to how short both dancers are. His shoulders need to be broader and more expansive. Still the emotion is right. They're very connected. Mary is already dialed up to 11 screaming "PASO WAR! PASO WAR!" And Cat is like "wow, this is where we're starting from tonight? Where are we gonna end up?" Erin then yells at them that they're awesome and that they are at the top and have targets on their back. I don't know a lot about Erin but she is intense and she seems to like the show A LOT, so I'll just move along. Paula wishes that Amy was around back when she was choreographing because she's have put her front and center. Paula also clues us in that Fik-shun was actually on Paula's short-lived show from a few years ago called "Live to Dance." So SYTYCD can't claim him as a completely untrained dancer. Nigel gives proper time to the Fik-shun shoulder situation, but it's clear to everyone these guys are as safe as anyone can be in the competition. Even if they somehow fell into the bottom 3 at this point, there is ZERO chance they'd get eliminated.

Aaron and Jasmine Harper - Broadway by Spencer Liff, Music: “They Just Keep Moving The Line” by the Smash cast feat. Megan Hilty 
Aaron is an investigator at a crime scene where Jasmine's ghost comes to... dance with him? Don't worry about the weird story. The routine here is great. Jasmine's always on fire and Aaron just keeps getting better for me. He's built for lifts, but he's bringing so much more. And seriously no other guy in the competition could allow Jasmine the height and extension to show off what she can do with her legs. This routine is fantastic. At judging there are people with giant Aaron heads in the audience and everyone thinks that's a little uncomfortable to see your facial features supersized. The judges are all basically like "LEGS! LEGS! LEGS!" And who can blame them, because Jasmine's legs really are a THING. They give Aaron due praise too, so it's not like they just focus on Jasmine. Again, I can't imagine these two going anywhere right now.

Mackenzie and Paul - Contemporary by Lindsay Nelko, Music: “No Day But Today (Live From Soundstage)” by Idina Menzel
New choreographer! She looks like she's 14, but I assume she's old enough to purchase alcohol. In this dance Mackenzie has a terminal illness and Paul has a hard time letting her go. Idina is killing it on the vocal. I think Paul really nails the emotional arc here. There's a wind machine off in the corner somewhere that's giving Mackenzie's skirt a lovely ethereal lift. The choreo is quite lovely. Their connection is great. Execution is great. The judges love it. Paula actually talks about working with Wish Kids that's pretty lovely. The judges think this was really a moment for both of them and I agree. I feel like it came at a great moment in the competition for them as well. It should keep them out of the bottom at a critical moment.

Alan and Jasmine Mason - Jazz by Sean Cheesman, Music: “Veins” by Charlotte Martin
Concept - King and Queen having quirky tea. It's very stylized and intentionally stiff and restrained. I really like the precision and the character work and their connection. The judges are kinda like, "huh..." and I'm like "uh oh." That's not good for Jasmine. They didn't think there was enough quirk. I immediately rewind and watch again. I get what they're saying. I think they were doing what they were told and they maintain a restrained character throughout. But I see where there are times when you could've seen an inner-quirk struggling to get free and that was basically absent from the character work. They were both a little too comfortable in their restraint. But I really liked it. They have more praise for Alan than Jasmine. Jasmine is in trouble. And she's still wearing that bandage on her arm under her costume. #BandageGate

Jenna and Tucker - Hip Hop by Keone and Mari Madrid, Music: “Dangerous (Immortal Version)” by Michael Jackson
More new choreographers! I'm not really super-jazzed about this routine. Jenna and Tucker have definitely gotten the short end of the stick in terms of actual routines this year. They had that lame tyce Broadway routine to start, then had that non-cha cha from Dmitri, Nigel hated. This one is supposed to be about a femme fatale, but I don't get that story AT ALL. Perhaps it's the white pin-stripe pants Jenna is wearing? I think they are hitting it hard and it's good, but I just don't get the story sold to me in the rehearsal package. I really like these two together. Mary thought it was a little too jazzy for hip hop, but the others don't really care about that. Paula actually gives the most astute critique and talks about how MJ borrowed a lot from Jazz so it fit well with is music without copying what he did. Nigel actually thought it was one of his favorites of the night. I really think Jenna and Tucker have been rising above some mid-level choreo that hasn't allowed them a Moment yet. These two are due for a really stellar contempo number next time.

Malece and All-Star Marko (in place of injured Jade) - Contemporary by Sonya Tayeh Music: “In the Embers” by Sleeping At Last
Okay, this one hardly seems fair. Marko is one of the best male partners on the show ever. If jade was dancing this with Malece it would be totally different. Malece does well here, but Marko's dance skill and star power really take this to a different level. To Malece's credit she steps up and delivers. It's definitely her strongest work thus far. I don't know why I'm so down on her. Maybe I just wrote her out of my top 5 girls and now I might have to find a place for her. lol If she keeps up this kind of emotive dancing each week, I won't be complaining. We'll see what happens when she goes back to a regular contestant partner next time. Erin has a SWF crush on Sonya and lets her freak flag fly. Everyone adores Malece. They think she is maturing which is the shows favorite character arc to support. Everyone wishes Jade a speedy recovery and they all send him kind words which feel very sincere and that's nice to see. Jade in the audience is taking it with a lot of humility and gratitude. Despite losing her partner early, this was really a strong week for Malece.

Hayley and Curtis - Samba by Jean-Marc Genereux, Music: “Straight to Memphis” by Club des Belugas
I don't like this one. It's not terrible, and honestly 3 weeks in there really hasn't been one routine I thought was awful (the worst one so far was that limp hip hop Alexis and Nico did the first week) which I think is a credit to the quality of this year's top 20. Curtis looks really young here though. They don't have the sexual chemistry needed to really sell the samba. Hayley's sexy in the movement, but it's not really enough. Her movement is not forcing me to keep my eyes on her. I'm a little bored. The judges are kind but they spell it out pretty clearly to Curtis what his execution problems were, Mary gives the longest explanation of what was wrong with his feet. I like listening to her on these points because she's very good at leading us through how one incorrect placement or movement sets the dancer up for further problems as the dance goes on. I don't know if Hayley will be safe this time, but I think next week Curtis won't be able to skip that Dance for his Life at the start of the show again.

Alexis and Nico - Jazz by Spencer Liff, Music: “I Put a Spell on You” by Nina Simone
Concept: Alexis is hypnotizing and seducing Nico. There's nothing wrong with this one. They do some really strong synchronized spins. Alexis does some strong character work. I don't know why I'm not more interested in them as a couple. Am I still holding that hip hop against them? All the judges think it's CRAZY that Alexis was in the bottom 3 (by that logic, they must not know WHAT they themselves are thinking when they later put her in the bottom 2) but these across the board endorsements make me think Jasmine's fate is sealed. (#BandageGate.) At one point Paula attacks Nigel and maybe punches him in the balls. I have no idea what's going on. Nigel says he's having a 3rd heart attack. Erin tells them all to shut the hell up and it's not funny. This girl's got spunk. I like her!

BluPrint and Mariah - Hip Hop by Luther Brown, Music: “Bring The Noize” by M.I.A.
These two finally get hip hop. Much like during Meet the Top 20, Mariah just blows her partner away. She's got so much skill and so much attitude. BluPrint hits the moves as remarkably as you'd imagine, but there's nothing going on in his face. Even in the rehearsal package Luther Brown is like "dude, never changes his face. that's not gonna work." But Mariah is super strong. She dances with such joy. The judges get pretty down on BluPrint about not letting his personality out on stage. And he does have to give more if he wants to stick around. The judges all love Mariah. Her personality just explodes on stage.

That's all the routines! So now we get down to eliminations. Nigel says the choreographers think Jasmine has a lot of self-doubt that shows in her work (???) and that Alexis has to be given the same notes over and over again. So Jasmine is going home. WHAAAAT. I really thought it was going to be a Jasmine H. vs.  Jasmine M. season. Alexis should've gone first for sure, based on their work thus far. But maybe Nigel is just sticking it to the viewing public this week? We forced him to change the format, but we couldn't force him to cut his tappa tappa tappa girl.  Or maybe #BandageGate is a real thing and wanting to avoid more dancers leaving due to injury, they decided to cut Jasmine before her arm became a problem. Either way, you win some, you lose some America! You live to fight and complain another day. Please vote my favorites into safety!

Tonight's routines ranked in order of my personal preference:

Aaron and Jasmine's Broadway
Mackenzie and Paul's Contempo
Malece and ALL STAR! Marko's Contempo 
Alexis and Nico's Jazz
Jenna and Tucker's Hip Hop
Alan and Jasmine's Jazz 
Amy and Fikshun's Paso WAR!
Mariah and BluPrint's Hip Hop 
Curtis and Hayley's Samba

Bottom 6 Predictions: Alan, BluPrint, Curtis, Hayley, Alexis and Jenna. (I would choose Malece to replace Jenna, but she got such a spotlight this week it seems impossible she'll be in the bottom. And I love Alan, but he's been bottom 3 before and they just axed his partner and their routine got little love from the judges. We'll see!)

The show seems to be taking a break next week for that MLB All-Star Game they were plugging at the beginning of the show. See you in two weeks where hopefully 16 healthy well-rested dancers will be battling it out for your hearts and your votes! She is Cat Deely! Goodnight!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

WIMBLEDONE! Final Entry: Murray Breaks The Curse! (...By Casting Additional Curses?)

(All curses are broken with True Love's Kiss.)

I love how I reported on all the craziness that happened for 2 weeks at Wimbledon and then don't say anything about the Men's Final for like 3 days. Congrats to Andy Murray for winning his first Wimbledon Championship, bringing the 77 year drought of a British-Born Wimby champion to an end!! His homeland rejoices! The curse has been broken! And we finally know the answer to the question on everyone's minds for a fortnight: who really has been holding all the voodoo dolls in his racket bag? It turns out it was Murray all along!
(The voodoo dolls are now hidden inside the trophy!)

Now we can see how all his biggest adversaries uncharacteristically fell by the way side. How the dark magic was too much to be contained and took over the women's draw as well. How in the final the previously wickedly accurate serve of Djokovic became a mess of double faults. The previously serene Novak became impatient and agitated. He made three incorrect challenges in the second set and then couldn't believe when another call went against him that he couldn't challenge (had he a challenge left to spare, he'd have lost it on that point as well. What we thought would be a knock down drag out affair turned out to be a rather straightforward straight set affair. Djokovic was in a bit of a haze. He couldn't maintain early breaks in both and couldn't convert multiple other break point chances. It was simply not his day. Someone forgot to drink he Felix Felicis potion before the match.

It's not hard to be thrilled for Andy Murray. What relief and joy and satisfaction he must feel in the wake of winning the pinnacle of men's tennis, not only for himself, but for his mother, his coach Ivan Lendl, and his country. The pressure on him was enormous, so to pull of a victory in those circumstances against such an elite player in Djokovic is really a triumph.

(Even Bradley Cooper and Clive Owen need to stand up and applaud Murray's efforts!)

Afterwards, Murray looked dazed as much as he did elated. He spoke afterwards about how much that last game of the match took out of him mentally. In truth, he was up 40-0 on his own serve, only one point from the Championship. But Novak refused to go easily. There would be no easy gifts. Suddenly it was 40-15, then, 40-30, than deuce, then break point AGAINST Andy. And the whole centre court crowd began to (mostly quietly) freak the hell out. Murray fought back to deuce. Then had another break point against him. He fought that one off. Had ANOTHER break point against him! What was it going to take? Apparently everything. Murray through everything he had into winning three consecutive points. He did it. But it took everything he had. Sue Barker from the BBC told him in his on court interview how tortuous the final game had been for his fans to watch, to which he honestly replied, “Imagine having to play it.” I hope he takes a well earned victory lap around the country and then a nice long vacation to recharge his mental battery.

So Andy has his first Wimbledon trophy, his second Major title and an Olympic gold medal. What a difference a year makes when he was moved to tears as Wimbledon Runner-Up and NO major titles!   After winning Murray told all his family and friends and supporters, that he had “tried his best.”Almost as if he hadn't won! He just wanted them to know how hard he tried to give them the victory they all wanted. Well played, Andy. Even if I'll always tease you about using Dark Magic to get there, we both know deep down you earned it and deserved it.

 (All dressed up for the Champions Ball!)

I'd like to close out my Wimby 2013 blog coverage with this amazing quote I read by Marion Bartoli about what it felt like to win her first Major Championship. I totally love it and think she's awesome.

“You know, I don't know if you can really realize, but for a tennis player, you start to play like at five or six years old. When you decide to turn pro, your dream is to win a Grand Slam. You dream about it every single day. You think about it every single day.

So when it happen, when it actually happen, you felt like, you know, you achieve something that you dream about for maybe million of hours. You went through pain, you went through tears, you went through low moments, and actually it happened, once it happened.

Those five, ten seconds before you shake the hands of your opponent, you felt like you're almost not walking any more on earth. You're really flying. It's really hard to describe how it felt.

That was the perfect day. It was sunny. It was beautiful. Centre Court Wimbledon, it was packed. I won in two sets. I didn't drop a set for the whole championship. Even in my perfect dream I couldn't have dreamed a perfect moment like that. That is beyond perfection.”

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Congrats to Bob and Mike Bryan who completed their Bryan Bros. Golden Slam by winning this year's Wimbledon tournament 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 over Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo. They're the first men's doubles team in the history of Open-era tennis to hold all four major titles at the same time, plus the Gold Medal in the Olympics.

They now have 15 Grand Slam tournament victories, increasing their own record in that stat. If they win the U.S. Open this year, they'll also record a calendar Grand Slam which hasn't happened since 1951, which was before the Open Era. Then there will basically be no more accomplishments left in the sport for them to make!

The brothers are really a national treasure in men's sports - not just in tennis. While they're well respected, I just don't feel they get the press attention they deserve. Hopefully we'll get to enjoy their dominant play for another few years, as they plan to keep going until 2016 at the Rio Olympics.At which point they'll be 39!! They should be able to retire by 40. :)

They currently have 91 career titles and it seems likely they will cross the 100 mark before they retire. They've also finished No. 1 in the year end rankings for eight years and could possibly hold on to make it a full decade. A DECADE! That's so crazy.

Good luck, Bryan Brothers! Thanks so much for repping US Tennis so well for so long. I send you a virtual chest bump in your honor!


(Bartoli waited a lifetime. For a moment. LIKE THIIIIIS!)

In 2007's Wimby Tournament, Marion Bartoli lost the Final to Venus Williams 6-4, 6-1. She wouldn't reach another Major Final until Wimby again in 2013. Six years later, she holds the Venus Rosewater dish as Wimbledon Champion, beating Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4.

Bartoli was a bit of an underdog in the final (if you can pick an actual underdog in a final with both players not even seeded in the Top 10) because Sabine Lisicki had been giant-slaying for several rounds, taking out Serena Williams and Radwanska. But Bartoli completely dismissed Flipkens in her own Semi, and had the experience of that previous Wimbledon Final against Venus. That proved to be invaluable, as Lisicki crumbled under the pressure of the moment, while Bartoli played loose, incredibly aggressive tennis the whole match. She bulldozed through the first set and raced to a huge lead in the second. Lisicki finally gathered herself in the second, getting back to 5-4, but it was too much distance to make up and Bartoli (in a state of disbelief) won the match at 6-4. Bartoli didn't drop a set during the tournament, and because of the weird upsets early on, never had to face a player in the ranked in the Top 10 the whole way through!

"I dreamed about this moment for so long," Bartoli said afterwards during her on-court interview. "I was there in 2007 and I missed it. I know how it feels, Sabine, and I'm sure you will be there one more time. I have no doubt about it."

In truth, I think Lisicki will have another chance at the Wimby Final in her career. She's a really great grass court player, and the nerves won't get to her again like they did on this occasion. She should take comfort in the second chance Bartoli made for herself. I'm really thrilled for Bartoli in winning this year. I love seeing these veteran women players finally getting their first Major Championship wins late in their careers. Schiavone and Li at the French, and now Bartoli here. It's a well deserved reward for staying committed and continuing to fight on, even if the sport has been dominated by other players like Serena or Vika or Maria. You just keep fighting one match at a time and eventually you just might have that trophy in your hands for a day, and the title "Wimbledon Champion" attached to your name forever. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

WIMBLEDONE! PART 8 - The Curious Case of Juan Martin Del Potro - PART 2!!

(They're gonna KIIIIIIISSSSS!!!!)

So, after all the craziness of the men's draw over the past two weeks, we still wind up with No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the final. I was hoping for a totally insane and improbable Delpo vs. Jerzy Final, but it's Djokovic vs. Murray, the winner will determine who's been carrying the voodoo dolls in his bag all along. Novak won in 2011. Murray made the final last year and won the Olympics here as well. They both seem to be in great health and should have plenty left in the tank for the final. So it's up for grabs at this point. Maybe I give Novak a slight edge. But to say that the crowd will be against him is the understatement of the century.

But before we get to the Final, let's reflect on the EPIC semifinal between Juan Martin Del Potro and Novak Djokovic. With a score of 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-7 (6), 6-3,they played the longest Wimbledon's men's semifinal in history, where both men were firing on all cylinders in what will be a truly memorable match for years to come.

For 4 hours, 43-minutes these two just threw everything they had at each other. Amazing shot after amazing shot, neither man would give up as the other got close to the finish line. The most truly amazing example of this was the 4th set tie break. Please do yourself a favor and watch the 12 minute clip embedded below.

If the video is eventually removed for copyright purposes, let me tell you that the most amazing few minutes came when Delpo was down two match points to Djokovic in the tie break with Djokovic serving at 6-4. At that point, Delpo just unleashes a string of forehands in a 24 stroke rally that are completely insane. Each one just seems to shout, "FUCK YOU!" as Delpo refuses to concede the match and Novak keeps returning them until finally a defensive lob sails long. 6-5. Having saved one match point on Novak's serve, he then had to save one on his one serve. Thanks to another truly wicked forehand, he does. 6-6. On his next serve, he smacks a backhand winner down the line. 7-6. Then it's back to Novak, and on a second serve opportunity, Delpo just crushes a cross-court backhand to win the set. Four straight unbelievable points to snatch victory away from Novak. Well, at least temporarily. But usually it's Novak who pulls off that kinda come from behind insanity. It was really sweet to see someone do it to him!

Both men had chances in the 5th set. Delpo had break point opportunities but couldn't convert. Novak could. So he took the 5th set and the match 6-3. But it was such a close match through out and such an exceptional level of play that Novak and Delpo decided to gay marry each other when they met at the net post-match. There are no losers here. Only winners.

Who even had the energy and concentration to focus on the Murray-Jerzy match that followed? It was also well fought and well played, but I think in the end Jerzy just didn't have the experience needed to handle the occasion and Murray did coming back from behind to win 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. I hope we see more great play from Jerzy in the future. And I'm really excited to see what Delpo can do at the US Open.

Now Nole and Muzz have a day of rest. The moment of truth is almost at hand. Wimbledon is finally almost truly Wimbledone.


Friday, July 5, 2013

SYTYCD 10: 20 to 18 Recap - The First Cut is the Earliest

Okay DanceFans. So this week's episode was brimming with controversy. We'll get to it in a minute but I'll start out at the beginning and just say that fan outrage was so loud and proud in the 48 hours following Tuesday night's show that Nigel already has announced an about face on the disastrous format change they tried regarding the eliminations. I have no idea why they thought this would work and it was at the expense of the two dancers who got eliminated, but at least order has been restored. I almost never comment on the show via official message boards or tweets, but I added my voice to the discontented masses on Tuesday night for sure. Anyway, to the recap! We've got 8 contempos, 4 ballers, 3 tappa tappa tappas, 2 hoppers, 2 animazings and 1 jazz hands. Here we go!

There's a group number that looks a lot like one Tyce did a couple seasons ago.  I feel like that one had a rope people swung around on as well and there were less people on stage. But this routine had a lot in common with that one in tone. And Tyce choreographed both of them, so that makes sense. It was nice. It's a lot of people to feature on that stage in a short amount of time and not a large space.

Ok, cue the music and... Guys... the intro is all fucked up. They don't introduce the couples right after the group number. Instead Cat comes out and talks to us first and then she introduces the jidges, which tonight include the totally lovely Christina Applegate and then they bring out the dancers, but they cut the traditional "here are the girls and these are your guys" bit which is a HORROR TO ME. Then we get a quick recap of the routines, Then they just announce the bottom 3 guys and girls and everyone else just kinda wanders off stage.
Bottom 3 Guys:
Carlos, Alan and Jade

Bottom 3 Girls:
Mariah, Brittany and Mackenzie

Immediately Saved: Mackenzie and Alan. Alan's bottom 3 finish is the only one that's a real shocker for me. Well the other shocker is that Alexis isn't in the bottom 3 girls. I thought her hip hop last week was pretty bad.

So the other four do solos and then Nigel eliminates Carlos and Brittany. Just like that! And they still have to dance this week's routines for their partners. Mariah is about to totally lose it. Guys, this is so stupid. This is the worst format decision this show has ever made. Worse than that season where they went to people's houses just to tell them they weren't on the show in front of their families. Cutting people this way starts the hour off on a total bummer of a note. It relieves all the dramatic tension for the night an replaces it with an awkward melancholy. Are we really supposed to shrug off losing two dancers we enjoyed and just get super-happy again 30 seconds later when the first pair comes out to dance the new routines? It puts the dancers in a horrible head space as well! It's beyond me why they thought this would work. I think it's total nonsense and it lessened my enjoyment of all the routines tonight. 

But anyway here we go AGAIN: Now 7 Contempos, 3 ballers, 3 tappa tappa tappas, 2 hoppers, 2 animazings and 1 jazz hands are competing with another contempo and baller who are now forced to hang around and dance for the benefit of their partners. Oh joy.

Hayley and Curtis - Jazz choreographed by Ray Leeper Music: “Mama Knows Best” by Jessie J. 
I should say right now that almost all of the choreographers decided they were going for "sex sells" this week and almost all of the "stories" of the routines involve a lot of literal grab ass. Some are executed better than others, but after a while it all just blurred together for me. First up in this category is Curtis and Hayley's jazz number ...which has almost exactly the same look and feel of the routine they did last week, except this week Curtis is 13% more comfortable with touching Hayley's butt and they are both dressed in tighter skimpier black clothing. Despite a better showing from Curtis than last week, I just think there has to be a better story these two could be asked to tell. Nigel just wants to slobber over Hayley and I'm over him right now. Mary calls Curtis a Giggle Monster. Christina tells them they should also think about oozing into the words along with the music to help fill out the choreo. Good advice! Love Christina. Overall the judges are too effusive for this routine.

Aaron and Jasmine Harper - Lyrical Hip Hop by Tabitha and Napoleon Music: “Tears Always Win” by Alicia Keys.
Aaron is a traveling musician who's come for a little nooky from Jasmine while he's in town and she can't resist him though she wants to. This one is very good. There's a maturity to the characters and to the movement and Jasmine and Aaron compliment each other so well. Is it at the level right now of Sasha and Twitch's Misty Blue routine from Season 8? No. Not quite there. But it's very strong work from them in Week 2. Mary and Cat give us the new phrase "Step. Push. Ripple." Christina throws her notes from rehearsal out the window and call them the couple to beat. Nigel thinks the routine was danced with honesty and applauds Aaron for going from being a Lucky Loser of the season into a true asset among the contestants. Good on you, Aaron!

Jade and Malece - Bollywood by Nakul Dev Mahajan Music: “Student of the Year” (Original Soundtrack) by Radha. This number didn't work for me at all. The costumes, as always with Bollywood, are totally gorgeous. But the hand gestures seemed really non-specific. The energy didn't maintain itself throughout the number. Some of the leg work and arm extension didn't seem in sync and sometimes missed the mark. It looked labored. Sorry, kids. Christina gives Jade some tough love about working harder, but mostly gives both of them a pass. Nigel tells Malece eyes are drawn to her, so her mistakes are more noticeable. Nigel tells Jade that he has to do more when he's dancing for his life - possibly next week? I'd say so. If he's in the bottom again, it's time he went home. He already danced for his life twice in Vegas. How many times does this have to happen before he's cut?

Alexis and Nico - Contemporary by Stacey Tookey Music: “Old Skin” by Olafur Arnalds & Arnor Dan.
This dance is a sequel to a piece Stacey did several seasons ago with Kathryn being a soldier going off to war. Now Alexis is playing the same character who is coming home from war. This is a better effort for the two of them than last week. Their connection is stronger and Alexis expresses a lot of joy through her movement. If they were safe last week, I assume they'll be safe again this week. Nigel is like "Great song choice!" which Stacey and I think is an odd thing to say (although the song IS very pretty, you think he'd be more taken with the dancing.) Mary was very moved by it. Christina continues to hit judging out of the park by making both a Velvet Underground reference for the old people watching the show (like me!) and noting a change that Nico made of attitude turns to pirouettes between rehearsal and performance. Veronica Corningstone knows what she's talking about, folks.

Brittany and BluPrint - Broadway by Spencer Liff Music: “It’s Oh So Quiet” by Bjork
So here we go with the first awkward eliminated partner dance of the evening. It's young love in the library scenario. It's nice to have Spencer back doing the choreo. Brittany actually does her best and looks lovely, but BluPrint looks totally out of it. He doesn't seem particularly happy at all. Maybe because his partner was eliminated while he wasn't even in jeopardy not 30 minutes ago? Hmm. I wonder. The judges aren't exactly sure how to handle the situation either. What do they have to say to Brittany? Voters didn't eliminate her, Nigel did! I'm actually not interested in what they have to say. Though Christina does give BluPrint some good constructive criticism about how to approach Broadway. I wonder if this awkward performance is going to hurt BluPrint in the vote this week.

Alan and Jasmine Mason - Tango by Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo Music: “Escape From Slavery” by PP Music (UK)

Alan, with Adam Lambert hair styling, is out to steal Jasmine's innocence in the form of a pink scarf. What sounds astoundingly silly actually makes for a great tango routine that is very creepy and very well executed. It feels twice as long and 50 times more complex than the Broadway number that preceded it. The judges' minds boggle at how Alan fell into the bottom 3 this week, and I have to agree. He was very strong in his contempo last week. We'll have to see if this tango was enough to change his trajectory in the competition. Everyone agrees that Jasmine is a total star.

Mackenzie and Paul — Jazz with Sean Cheesman Music: “Mannequin (Skeet & Tito Remix)” by Trish
Weird Science themed dance! I am intrigued. This dance is fine. Actually it's pretty strong. It's definitely fun, but I don't know if it's really memorable. But again, I'm just in a bad mood with these early eliminations.  I like the choreography. They both are very cute. I'm not sold on Paul's sleeveless dress shirt look. Mackenzie was in trouble after last week, I don't know that this gave her that much of a better platform to showcase her latents. Nigel points out that Naughty Ballerina Melissa (Cat actually shouts her out by name) is SUPER PREGGERS and in the audience tonight. Christina really liked this routine, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt that it was being a grump that I didn't connect with it.

Mariah and Carlos — Contemporary by Stacey Tookey Music: “Dead in the Water” by Ellie Goulding

Ironic song choice for Carlos to have to dance to right now, wouldn't you say? The dance is about someone who's lost their memory after an auto accident. HUH? Is there a SYTYCD Dance Concept Generator out there on the internet? There must be. Anyway, Mariah is dancing in the agony of having lost Carlos and Carlos is just IN IT. He was not one of my picks to make Top 10, but certainly he should've stayed over Jade this week. The judges lie and say that Carlos shouldn't have even been in the bottom 4. Yes, he should've. The jive was the second weakest dance of the night last week based on technique after Alexis and Nico's hip hop. He was definitely right to be in the bottom 3, and you judges decided to eliminate him at the start of the show, so don't cry foul now, please. I'm not having it.

Amy and Fik-Shun — Hip-Hop by Tabitha and Napoleon Music: “After Party” by Dorough Music
Concept is Bellhops having fun. They have these large white gloves on that remind me of Mickey Mouse hands that I sort of hate. It's such a little thing but it bothers me for some reason. But the routine is legit fun and they both hit it really hard. They're both very joyous dancers and they are so in sync. They make use of a luggage cart that they keep jumping on and through which is a little crazy to me since it's on wheels and they never lock it down into place, but there are no accidents. These two are really really strong together. The judges totally love them. Nigel thinks they are destined for the Final Four. That's gonna be a tough fight when it comes to it folks.

Jenna and Tucker - Cha Cha by Dmitry Chaplin “I Like It Like That (Aaron Jerome Remix)” by Pete Rodriguez.
 It's really sexy. I like these two a lot. They have an amazing ability to capture characters that  relate to each other through the dance. And Jenna is super hot in her home style. Mary locks in to the critique since ballroom is her thing, and she thinks Tucker relied on just guiding Jenna around instead of really getting down in to it. Christina, like me, loved all the storytelling and Nigel hated the choreography. Nigel is having a weird night y'all. He almost never bad mouth's the choreographer. He just didn't think there was enough Cha Cha in this Cha Cha. Perhaps a valid critique, but he went on about it at length, when he could've just mentioned it and moved on to the dancers. Well, the whole night was weird. But it's done now!

This week's performances in order of my preference:
Alan and Jasmine M.'s Tango
Aaron and Jasmine H.'s Lyrical Hip Hop
Carlos and Mariah's Contemporary 
Fik-shun and Amy's Hip Hop
Jenna and Tucker's Cha Cha
Alexis and Nico's Contemporary
Mackenzie and Paul's Jazz
Curtis and Hayley's Jazz
Blu-Print and Brittany's Broadway
Jade and Malece's Bollywood

Bottom 3 Guys/Girls for next week? I'll guess Jade, Curtis, Blu-Print, Malece, Mackenzie and Hayley. I'm glad we're back to end of show eliminations next week. I wasn't looking forward to a whole season of that nonsense. Enjoy your July 4th Weekends, everyone! I'm sure you're all wishing  you could've been at Cat Deeley's Pool Party and BBQ. Hopefully they'll post some pics on twitter!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

WIMBLEDONE! Part 7 - Adieu, Ferru.

 (No. 4... No More)

The men's semifinals are set, with one more top seed saying goodbye to the competition. No. 4 David Ferrer lost to slightly injured No. 8 Juan Martin Del Potro 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (5). For his efforts, Delpo will now face off against No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic, who recorded a straight sets victory over No. 7 Tomas Berdych, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3. Coincidentally, both matches which started at the same time on different courts also finished within a breath of each other.

On the bottom half of the draw, Murray also continued on besting Verdasco, but it took him 5 long sets. So maybe I've been wrong all along. Maybe it's not Murray who's got all those voodoo dolls in his racket bag. Maybe it's actually Djokovic after all. Novak hasn't faced a significant challenge at all the whole tournament, while his whole list of top competitors have lost early, withdrawn with injury or been pushed to their very limits in 5 sets. The only thing standing between Novak and the final now is a hobbled Delpo. Murray still has to contend with No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz who could prove to be a wild card in the next round. Obviously I'm hoping for a Delpo-Janowicz final. I mean, with the way things have been going this year, why not just overturn the apple cart completely?

(Radwanska is SO over this whole handshake thing.)

On the women's side the final match up has been decided. The last remaining top seed has fallen with No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska losing to No.23 Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 2-6, 9-7. It was a nail biter of a contest with both players having their chances. Radwanska just couldn't put the final few points together in the end when she needed them, which has to be a huge disappointment for her. She had the final in sight with no Serena, no Sharapova and no Vika waiting for her there.  Instead it will be Lisicki who will face off against No. 15 Marion Bartoli, who will be making her second appearance at the Wimbledon final after losing to Venus Williams in 2007. It seems impossible to make a prediction at this point, but the way Lisicki has been taking down the strongest players all tournament, I'll say I'm rooting for her to win the whole thing. We'll find out soon enough! This crazy tournament is almost at an end!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

WIMBLEDONE! PART 6 - A Flip In the Script

(Bruised and Battered, but she won! That's what mattered!)

So the two ladies left in the draw I was still rooting for - No.6 Li Na and No. 17 Sloane Stephens - both lost their quarterfinal matches yesterday. With Li out and No. 8 Petra Kvitova ALSO losing in the quarters, there are not only no former Wimby champions left (Kvitova won in 2011) among the semifinalists, but no former Grand Slam winners AT ALL. Never before in the Open Era has there been a Ladies Wimbledon semifinal round without at least one previous winner of a major championship still in the field. Kvitova, summed this tournament up pretty well after her loss, ''Very weird Grand Slam over here.''

Still, what an amazing opportunity for the 4 remaining ladies. One of them is going to get there first grand slam title and it's going to be at Wimbledon! So crazy! It's going to be Lisicki vs. Radwanska and Flipkens vs. Bartoli. How can anyone even make predictions at this point? My totally uneducated guess is that it will be a Flipkens-Lisicki final. But I think both matches are a coin toss. Radwanska is the only top seed left, and as you can see from the picture above, the Curse on the Courts has already tried to take her out once this year. Watch your back, Radwanska!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Go See a cautionary tail!

(go see this play!)

Hey Ladies & G's. Wanted to let you know about a great new play I saw at The Flea Theater (41 White Street New York, NY 10013) which I almost missed out on telling you about, because I saw it at the end of it's original run, but the run has now been extended! So now I'm telling you NYC-folk to go downtown and catch it while you can.
 (Plays getting extensions! Success! Live the dream!)

a cautionary tale by christopher oscar peña (he doesn't like capitals, but that's okay because I LIKE CAPS ENOUGH FOR BOTH OF US!!) and directed by Benjamin Kamine is the surprising and captivating story of Vivienne and Luke, brother and sister 1st generation Chinese-Americans growing up in contemporary New York City. Sometimes allies and sometimes adversaries they navigate the obligations and pressures of tradition, family, friends, lovers and their own internal demons. Along the way we encounter many interesting characters (Luke's best friends and a very peculiar Life Insurances salesman stand out) and some very creative staging that transforms the Flea's downstairs theater space. I've been thinking about the play a lot since seeing it, and a lot of it has really stayed with me in a strong way. I LOVE when theater does that. It's certainly what we aim for as theater people. :) I don't want to say TOO much about it because I don't want to spoil any of the plot twists, but there are some plot twists and I believe you'll enjoy them. Plus a cautionary tail is performed by The Bats, The Flea's resident theater company and you should check out the great work these young talented super-sexy actors are serving up. The play is a little long (y'all know I love to be in and out in 90 minutes with no intermission), but Act 2 offers a lot of surprises and revelations so it's worth your time investment!

 (there is an intermission and fun surprises await you out in the lobby!)

The show's extension runs through July 23rd, but it's not always on the same days of the week, so you should check out the calendar here!.

ALSO, christopher recently co-created and co-wrote a really awesome web series called 80/20 with Vayu O'Donnell and you should check out that out because it's well-made, well-written, well-acted and, well, really a lot of fun. And NOT super long either, so you can watch on your computer and get invested, but not worry about a thirteen hour TV binge commitment. Watch and enjoy! Congrats to christopher on the great success of these two projects this. I will keep watching for his work in the future!

WIMBLEDONE! Part 5: Serena Slammed!

(this. SUCKS.)

Well folks, the dark magic took out No. 1 Serena Williams today. It was the only REAL upset on a day of many dramatic matches, but it was certainly a doozy. Serena's 34-match win streak has ended! If it truly has been a bit of Brit sorcery that's been stirring up the bad juju these past 8 days, it boomeranged back at them this afternoon as Laura Robson also got knocked out of the competition. Once again, Britain's hopes for a female Slam champion are crushed.

(life is sad.)

But let's stay with Serena, shall we? Let's acknowledge that Lisicki is certainly no slouch on grass and that she has the peculiar distinction of taking out the newly crowned French Open champ here at Wimby three years running. So she definitely has the skills to compete. All the same though, Serena should've won this match. Sure, she dropped the first set, but then she was in total control. She won  nine straight games to claim the second set and take a 3-0 lead in the third. The players then traded breaks, giving Serena a 4-2 lead. And then that was the last game she won as Lisicki fought her way through the next four games to take the match.

Afterwards Serena said, "I probably couldn't be more disappointed. I think I may have backed off of a success. I was playing something successful. I didn't continue that path. The result didn't go the way it could have gone had I continued to play the way I did in the second set. I felt that I was on the verge of winning. At that point I just was physically unable to hold serve. ... You have to be ready and willing to hold your serve. I wasn't willing or able, probably didn't even want to hold my serve today."

Wasn't willing or able... because of outside forces? MAYBE. Now the field is wide open for the final 8 women. It could seriously be anyone's for the taking. Personally, I'd love to see Sloane Stephens or Li Na take the title. Whatever happens, I assume it will be a crazy and drama-filled final week.

Over on the men's side, Novak, Murray, Ferrer, Berdych and even injured Delpo got through. I expect the WIMBLEDONE! curse to strike at least one of them on Wednesday when the men's quarters are played. Who can survive??? Stay tuned...