SYTYCD July 17. A simmering sense of tragedy.

Are we all in favor of democracy now?

We, the people. Weed the people, perhaps.

As Gev and Kherington wafted off into the night with their ever tightening eyes and bottoms squeezing their disappointment shut, can one really believe that the So You Thigh You Can Dance voters chose well?

Perhaps the most obvious question is: “If Comfort was the worst of the girls last week, what changed?”

Here’s a couple of things.

One, the people voted. And there has never been much of a history of singing and dancing reality show voters casting their text messages for pretty girls.

Forgive me for sounding a little on the cynical side, but I suspect the majority of the voters are women slightly less pretty than, say, Kherington. They are perhaps slightly more likely to cast aspersions in her direction rather than votes.

Secondly, may I raise the subject of the choreography just for a few breaths?

There exists a slightly sycophantic tendency on the part of Hell’s Teeth, Tia and Maria to begin their critiques by praising the choreography. This is often used as the precursor to declarations of the dancers’ shortcomings.

However, Mark and Kherington’s jazz, er, reggae, er, what the hell was that, routine enjoyed the choreography of the Idea-Free Zone.

Mark and Kherington wafted their way through as if impersonating blind people in a black-walled room.

It was almost as if they thought if they kept on going, somewhere, in some tiny corner of the stage, they would find the meaning of their meanderings.

They didn’t.

To precede that by slipping them the Two Step was a particular form of cruelty not dissimilar to a contractor accidentally burning down your house and then suing you for his distress.

While the viewers forgave Mark because he possesses dangly bits and is a fine performer, Kherington was punished for having perfectly-sculpted eyebrows and a midfielder’s thighs.

Comfort and Twitch’s smooth waltz was about as smooth as a John McCain joke.

Poor Twitch was forced to take the pitter-patter steps of a Russian square dancer as he circled around an achingly effortful Comfort.

Frankly, they both looked as out of place and time as each other.

Still, there were enough wonders to make Wednesday feel like the apogee of the week rather than its saggy middle.

Joshua and Courtney proved that their ability to entertain and, frankly, lift was not confined to their previous partnerships.

Their hip hop was vibrant enough to make even the most spuddish couch potato’s hips sense movement.

Will and Katee’s pas de deux and Broadway Boat Dance were exercises in marvelous precision, but it just so happened that neither routine really asked them to display togetherness.

Which is not the same as synchronization.

I leave poor Gev until last. Because the sad thing is that his solo was unquestionably the most perspired and inspired of the night.

And the oddity of this competition is that one winner is chosen, yet judgments are made on paired performances.

Chelsie unwittingly highlighted Gev’s technical infelicities. Yet their contemporary routine was the truest of the night.

Chelsie and Gev showed a far greater ability to express connection while physically apart then, say, Will and Katee.

Yet Gev was jettisoned for being outjived by Chelsie and outprettied by the other gentlemen.

This despite the fact that Lil’C brought a sharp sensitivity and reasoning to the judging process, to the degree that a Tia-less Maria and Hell’s Teeth almost seemed subdued.

But let us end with a message to the nation.

Oh, America, please let your heart lead your eyes next week.

Because this week, it was the other way around.

The Pond thanks the futuristics for reminding us about dancing joy.




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Why Major League Baseball Should Fire One Of Its Senior Individuals.

There is no reason to feel sympathy for Major League Baseball.

It is, being charitable, a venal colony.

They sit in front of senators and blithely claim they knew nothing about steroids. They were so, so shocked when they discovered some of the hulks in their teams’ employ might not have achieved their corporal mass naturally.

They really did think the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire was astoundingly kosher.

It might not have been? Well, you could blow them all down with a feather from a lapdancer’s brassiere.

One of Major League Baseball’s most recent wailings at the Wall of Shame was their lamentation that there are so few African-Americans left in the game.

Somehow, the thought of playing in the NBA, the NFL or even the streets seems preferable to a career in America’s Pastime.

Here’s one teeny suggestion why that might be.

There is an African-American player called Barry Bonds. He is quite old now, but he still managed to have a better on-base percentage than any other player last year.

This year, no team has chosen to make an offer for his services, because somehow the impression has been created that he was the only baseball player ever to have taken steroids.

(Not that this has actually ever been proved, of course. No one has produced, for example, receipts of EPO shipments to him, as allegedly were produced this week in the case of pitcher Roger Clemens.)

So hark at the true and sensitive words of Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice President of Labor Relations, Rob Manfred:

“I don’t evaluate players, but I think anybody who has watched the game understands that’s there’s a variety of factors surrounding this individual that might make the clubs hesitant.”

I could disqualify Mr. Manfred from holding important office by calling him, oh, I don’t know, a lawyer.

I could suggest that he represents an organization that is about as honest as a car salesman.

Which would have nothing to do with the fact that its Commissioner, Bud Selig, was, indeed, a car salesman.

But what is the point?

Mr. Manfred has revealed himself in all his glory by referring to Barry Bonds as ‘this individual.’

Barry Bonds is someone on whose back and bat the San Francisco Giants built a stadium. And when they thought they had squeezed all they could out of him, all they left was one little plaque in left field that reminded those with perfect vision that he had broken the home run record.

By using the words ‘this individual’, Mr. Manfred showed a cynical, patronizing, spiteful nature, his spit suggesting that Barry Bonds was nothing more than a cypher, a felon, a slave, a piece of unwanted dirt.

He could have said ‘Barry Bonds’.

But why bother?

Mark McGuire, who happens not to be black (and the Pond recognizes this is not all about race, but still..), sat in front of a Senate hearing and paraded his ashamed self like the Naked Emperor in a bath house.

Would Mr. Manfred refer to him as ‘this individual’?

Of course not.

And baseball wonders why African-Americans don’t want to play baseball. Would it really have caused Mr. Manfred some waning of his dignity to refer to Barry Bonds in at least a vaguely respectful manner?

By calling him Barry Bonds, for example.

But no. This individual. A phrase taken straight from Law and Order re-runs.

Here’s a helpful thought.

For this phraseology alone, Mr. Manfred should be jettisoned to an individuality somewhere east of Kirkutsk.

Major League Baseball should say that just as it will not tolerate drugs, it will not tolerate disdainful statements about players or former players made by those who are supposed to be the guardians of what remains of the game’s integrity and universal appeal.

There must be some rule in Major League Baseball covering what one baseball person can say about another.

Let’s ask Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice-President of Labor Relations.

Oh, wait.

The Pond thanks thecarspy for his individualistic sensitivity.

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SYTYCD Top Ten. The pairings begin to leak.

Oh, no.

Some site somewhere (The Pond doesn’t do links. It affects the purity of the performance here) has revealed that Courtney and Joshua will be together for this week’s So You Thigh You Can Dance.

I can imagine Gev’s rather wide pants filling with tears at this very moment.

Will it be possible for him to find another girl like Courtney? Of course it won’t.

Shall we, just for the fun of it, try and guess what the other pairings will be?

If this were American Idol, I would pretend to know, because it was always so much fun to hear the outrage of outhouse-dwellers who were aghast that, say, David Archuleta would be singing Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle.”

I cannot do this to the loyal and honest SYTYCD audience.

Ergo, let us try and imagine, because Gev is such a genuine chap, the worst possible scenarios for the other chaps.

Well, now that Jessica is out through injury, Will, that most uptight of professionals, surely fears Comfort.

Will and Comfort might have all the makings of Will and Grace beneath the sheets.

The man with the most training coupled with the girl with none at all. And a girl whose confidence must have been squashed like a tomato in a bolognese with her elimination last week.

I can hear the rehearsal screams from hundreds of miles away.

What might Twitch be fearing the most? Perhaps a partnership with Chelsie. Somehow, I cannot see their energies quite melding. Twitch, I imagine, is secretly hankering after Katee (in a dancing sense).

Mark seems to be the one with the least to fear- unless he is paired with Comfort. Kherington and Katee are both vintage actresses and would surely complement him like a fridge complements white wine.

And Gev, well, you know he must be a distraught little Clyde at losing his Bonnie. With luck like that, I am imagining it will actually be Gev and Comfort.

I am not trying to demean Comfort’s abilities in any way. But she is the weakest of the girls.

And sometimes, well, sometimes you might imagine producers getting up to their old Idolesque tricks.

So here are my utterly wild and ridiculous guesses:

Gev and Comfort. Mark and Katee. Will and Kherington. And Twitch and Chelsie.

I could be wrong. And I trust you will not besmirch me if I am.

The Pond would like to thank Prince Roy for his image of a Taiwan Lottery Dream Sheet. Whatever that is.

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SYTYCD July 10. The strangeness only gets stranger.

I never thought this was possible.

But So You Thigh You Can Dance is managing to reach heights that Nigel Lythgoe’s dentist can only dream of.

This week’s two shows were controversial because, to my disbelieving, bedazzled eyes, there was no controversy.

The weakest links were told goodbye and the strongest, most inspiring performers were given accolades that they actually deserved.

It made you believe in truth, justice and the immediate immolation of American Idol.

Gev and his little pixie vixen, Courtney, for example, entertained as if they were on the Titanic and had already heard that it didn’t handle icebergs too well.

Entertainment truly is about giving of yourself and concentrating your mind’s emotions on those things that uplift people with mundane existences.

You know, affix a permanent image of Kirstie Alley in your mind and then try and find a way to make her heart leap and her body, at the very least, jiggle with joy.

I defy anyone alive not to be moved to simultaneous admiration and giggles at the sight of these two leading the audience a merry dance.

Joshua and Katee, the Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan of the proceedings, took on an Indian routine that put Mike Myers and artists of even greater pretension to shame.

Their beguilingly honest and joyous performance made you want to shoot over to your Netflix queue and slide Monsoon Wedding, one of the finest movies ever made, to the very top.

Mark and Chelsie continued to defy gravity and mediocrity by confronting both in an Ultimate Dancing Brawl.

Kherington and Twitch perhaps didn’t have their finest six or seven minutes. But when asked to perform solo for their lives, they vaulted their souls onto the stage as if to say: “Still got it, you know.”

Which leaves the bottom three and a half.

Really, can anyone argue with the fact that Comfort was uncomfortable and Thayne was, at best, cornered into submission? Perhaps he didn’t have the benefit of the best partners, but the smiling really did overwhelm any character he was asked to play.

Imagine Marlon Brando smiling during the Godfather.

I fear Thayne Brando would have done.

What of Jessica?

Tia, Maria and Teethy have undermined her confidence by continuing to tell her she’s not as good as Will.

Yet they have failed to highlight Will’s Achilles Ballet Slipper.

He so wants to be so perfect that he sometimes forgets how to be real.

Real people like us still prefer to watch Mark or Pixie Vixen because they bring new character to the floor and sweep it past our skepticism.

Will is in danger of letting his perfect lines dominate his ability to move. In the emotional sense.

Jessica’s problem is not so much that she struggles occasionally. It is that the struggle is written in bold capitals on her face.

Personally, I am struggling with the fact that this exhaustingly honest show is becoming like a burglar who, instead of creeping into your house in the middle of the night, knocks politely on your door and asks if he can pilfer your plasma.

Next week, it will be the Top Ten. I suppose I will be forced to take sides, to favor one performer over another.

Perhaps this will be not so bad, as, despite Maria’s shrieks, Hell’s Teeth’s beak and Tia’s slightly dazed vocal delivery every week, So You Thigh You Can Dance seems to favor the right result over the cheap trick.

It can’t possibly last, can it?

The Pond thanks antmoose for his extraordinary portrait of honesty.

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SYTYCD July 3. America loses its sight.

I watched the performances and then the results one after the other.

So You Thigh You Can Dance had its first truly difficult moment.

A case of shoulder prejudice.

That nice, tall, blonde girl should never have been in the bottom three.

She had a face like Uma Thurman and was significantly better proportioned.

(I once stood next to Uma in the bar at the Baltazar and her torso was as long as the Mississippi. While her legs were shorter than a coke-addict’s attention span.)

Kourtni Lind was, I think, her name.

And she was rather broad across the clavicles.

Apparently America was not fond of this.

Hell’s Teeth was clearly not happy, as he would have preferred to deport the rather dull Comfort, whose solo resembled a Thursday Tourette’s Night in an Indiana bar.

Yet he was overruled by Napoleon and Josephine, expressing solidarity with a fellow hop-hipper.

Maria sided with them.

May I say, as an insanely late arrival to these mesmerizing proceedings, that I am finding Maria’s voice slightly less soothing than a power drill being slipped into my right nostril.

Her high-pitched, maximum-decibeled screech would not only break the panes of Notre Dame Cathedral.

It is also powerful enough to sever the heads of small animals.

I am sure that Toyota could design a car powered by this polluting energy source.

However, I am dwelling in the wrong wigwam by even mentioning things negative.

The dancers again provided more inspiration in this one week than all of the American Idol contestants in the last seven years.

There was that Chelsie (why must they all spell their names like, well, masseuses?) girl, a ballroom dancer allegedly, inspiring the most exalted emotions while performing a routine entirely removed from her own metier.

To think that Sanjaya Malakar, as metierless as any supposed artist on the Idol show, managed to take Stevie Wonder and create an algae pudding out of his music.

He still made the Top Ten.

His equivalent in So You Thigh You Can Dance would be scratched from the auditions like a wayward zit on the bottom of a supermodel.

If you consider that Comfort and Thane, the least inspiring of the remaining dancers, still have more talent than any Idoler other than Jennifer Hudson, then you might ask yourself why you have allowed yourself to watch the Idol Torment in such numbers.

Rubbernecking, perhaps.

But rubbernecking is not theater.

Twitch, Mark, Courtney Shortney, Gev, Kherington, Will, Katee and Joshua all managed, in one show, to do something that lifted both the spirits and, albeit temporarily, the quality of something that masquerades as art on the flat screen.

I remain fascinated by how these temporary marriages the producers have created will develop.

How is it that dancers can instinctively give to each other, often making each other better in the process, while singers in the supposedly equivalent show contrive to surround each other with nothing more than the sad niff of mediocrity?

The world is not a fair place.

If it were, America’s iPods would be full of Joshua, Will and Kherington, rather than the beige bilge provided by the Whites and Archuletas that fog our ears and just very slightly disturb our digestive systems.

The Pond thanks kalandrakas for reminding us of the power of harmony.

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Germany lose. Spain win. There is a God.

It wasn’t exactly David versus Goliath.

But it was unquestionably a win for the little people, those that believe in the more beautiful things in life.

Like flowers. And trees. And Pamela Anderson before thirty-two surgeries.

Perhaps the most bizarre part of a pleasantly pulsating Euro 2008 Final was that Spain decided that they would do the naive thing.

They would continue to play football and history be damned.

This is like a politician standing up and deciding to tell the truth about something as ridiculous as, oh, I don’t know, politics.

Or his sex life.

Germany carried on being Larry Craig.

Deny, deny, deny. And if you keep on denying, you might sneak one between someone’s legs in the very last minute.

In truth, the Germans were very lucky to lose by a mere goal.

The Lilliputians from Spain wriggled around the Germans’ crudity like so many children avoiding the advances of suspicious-looking men outside the gates of their school.

No, they did not want a sweetie, thank you.

They wanted to pass the ball to each other and enjoy the simple pleasure of the opposition not being able to get it back.

Because the opposition did not have the brains, the skill or the imagination to engage the ball in anything other than a sad hoofing.

Michael Ballack was a drunken cousin at a wedding.

For most of the game, he would bump into people, pretending it was by accident.

Then, when the bouncers would occasionally step in to admonish, he would blow self-righteous snot down his nose at them in an attempt to gain the upper hand.

The Italian referee, probably an admirer of self-righteous cynicism, let him get away with it for most of the match.

The German captain should have been red-carded, if only for his awful impersonation of Judas Iscariot at a Charity Telethon when Germany were denied a penalty.

There was, though, something terribly comforting about seeing so many perfect German specimens be Arnold Schwarznegger trying to bed Scarlett Johannson.

In their clumsiness, they revealed their inadequacy.

In their preening, they revealed their sense of entitlement.

And in their incapacity to even get a shot on goal, they proved for every man on earth that size really does not matter.

There perhaps was no greater example of the depths to which German football is prepared to sink than to see goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, a sad old trollope at the best of times, kick out at Fernando Torres, even after the Spaniard had put the ball beyond Lehmann’s reach for the game’s only goal.

Watch the slow motion.

Lehmann, as he realizes he has gone down too early and in the wrong direction, tries to give Torres an Ballackesque accidental kick on the leg as the Spaniard moves away from any potential contact with the German.

If only we could all lose as gracefully.

If you did not see just a little poetry in those empty German faces watching the Spaniards, still surprised to have finally proved they are as good as they secretly thought they were, reliving a relieving victory, then you are not human.

Or you are Franz Beckenbauer.

This was a Kaiserslaughter.

And when you look at that word ‘Kaiserslaughter’, one that I invented not ten seconds ago, what do you see tucked away near the end?

Yes, the word ‘laugh’.

I can only hope that you are laughing too.

The Pond thanks David de Groot for stepping in with a picture of a happy pizza when we couldn’t find one of a happy paella.

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Euro 2008. Here’s hoping for Spain.

There used to be a Spanish car company.

It was called Seat.

It is now owned by Germans.

Most commentators believe the Spanish national football team will, tomorrow, be owned by Germans too.

It is a little harder to despise German football in these European Championships.

But that is only because Italy managed to surpassed even their own desperate excrescence.

There are, I am told, some objective enthusiasts who would prefer Germany to win.

They are in Finland. Or psychiatric hospitals. Or psychiatric hospitals in Finland.

A question that, perhaps, might amuse is whether any of the Spaniards would even make the German team.

Not because they don’t have the talent.

But because some of the Spaniards don’t have the large chests and thighs.

Germany, in essence, play football as invented by a corporation.

If IBM were to have a football team, it would be Germany.

If some multinational packaged goods company were to suddenly decide to select a squad, they would unquestionably build it around someone called Schweisteiger.

Germany’s formation is not 4-4-2. Nor is it 4-3-3.

They have a rear unit comprising CFOs.

They have a distribution department across the middle.

And they have the warehousemen up front.

The Marketing Department sits on the bench.

And the goalkeeper is the CEO. Why, he blames everyone when something goes wrong.

The Spaniards, on the other hand, are a dance troupe.

They understand that creating beautiful patterns can actually be effective.

They believe that there is a place for wit and imagination, even on a football field in Austria.

And they ride their naivete like a child enjoying its first ride on a carousel.

When a German scores, he feels power.

When a Spaniard scores, he feels joy.

Of course, there are those who far prefer power to joy.

But they are never really happy, are they?

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