Zoe

I’ve been reading this blog a little bit lately and I feel kind of divided because, on the one hand, yeah, these people are annoying. (And the guy who wrote that thing on Amy Winehouse’s death? About how she hadn’t done anything of “real significance,” whereas his wife stays home with their son and has taught him math, so that’s “an accomplishment that matters.” WTF, dude? I mean, look, I’m a stay-at-home mom like your wife, so I obviously think there’s something valuable about teaching your kids and blah blah blah, but I don’t think it’s the only significant thing one can do on the planet. Writing songs that millions of people love is, you know, “an accomplishment that matters,” too. Ass.) And on the other hand, I am a parent and I like talking about how adorable my kid is. As I do when I, for instance, post these updates.

So I’m sorry if these updates annoy you. The posts are always titled “Zoe” or similar so if you see them crop up and your reaction is, “Ugh, she’s bragging about her kid again,” then please don’t read them. Partly I’m doing this for posterity anyway, so that there is a log of all the things we’ll want to remember but won’t.

But partly I’m doing this for the people in our lives who love these posts. Some people tell me they only read these posts. Some people live far away from us and want to know what Zoe is up to. Some people love Zoe as much or more than they love me, but she can’t blog or Facebook update yet, so I have to do these things for her. I’m really not trying to be obnoxious.

That said, here we go:

1. She’s going extremely polite. “Please” and “Thank you” and even “Thank you for everything, Mom,” all the time. She’s even able to say “Please I want more chips” and “Thank you” to waitstaff, something that some nearly-grown-ups I know have trouble doing. It’s really very heartening.

2. She has started the dramatic play phase of her development, which is pretty awesome. She pretends to talk to people on the phone, she puts on “shows,” she has complicated relationships with stuffed animals. But so far its chief manifestation lies in wanting her friends to “save” her. The other day her (male) friend Ero “saved” her and she clung on to his arm and cocked her head to the side and walked around the room with him with a coy look on her face. Guys. I am in so. much. trouble.

3. She likes to throw fabric around and call it “laundry.”

4. Her first question about a day is “Who are we going to see?” (And her first guess is “Ero and Lou.”)

5. She had such a good time in the Berkshires. I barely saw her. So many willing playmates (especially cousin Sammy)! And she made my dad read Not a Box to her over and over again. He was really annoyed by it. 🙂

6. She talks about things happening “when I was a little girl.” Like, when, yesterday? Five minutes from now?

7. She calls them “nighting gowns.”

8. So we took her to see Beauty and the Beast on stage, which was semi-successful. Her Grandma Lisa and Poppa got her the Beast plush doll which she immediately started a love-hate relationship with. That night she started referring to the doll as her “scary child.” And she had this whole involved conversation with him in which she expressed that he was scared of the “black kitty” (We were watching True Blood. We know we’re bad parents. Shut up.) and he wanted to watch a different Tivo because we have Tivo but the scary child must not touch the remote and also the scary child is hungry and wants a cupcake. Then there was a whole thing about how Zoe is scared of the Beast but she’s not Zoe, she’s Belle, and the Beast marries her. It’s hard to transcribe but trust me, it was the most awesome thing ever.

8a. Also she pointed to the Beast’s purple cape and said, “That’s a cute top on him.”

9. Chicago is having this Go Do Good campaign. I was having trouble discerning the Os from the Ds in the signage (because I am very, very old) and so I asked the usher at the play. When they said it was to encourage Chicagoans to do good deeds, I asked Zoe, “What good deed should we do? What would make someone happy?”, she said, “Me.”

10. When we were in the Berkshires with my dad, we were staying at a house that was about a half-mile from the “downtown” of Great Barrington, and we would walk there just about every day for shopping, food, whatever. Now that we are home, Zoe keeps asking to “walk into town.”

11. We went into Bloomingdale’s because she had to go potty. We walked in through the shoe department and she was immediately like, “Let’s buy shoes! Let’s buy some red shoes for you! And a necklace!” (I kept moving through this because she was on my shoulders and I didn’t want her to pee on my head.* So we hit the jewelry section next.) So then after the potty I took her to the shoe department. She was so enthused, you guys. Her first pick was a pair of red patent leather Kate Spade flats with pointed toes and an ankle strap – way more trendy than I’d ever go for. She also liked these jewel-encrusted Coach flats, which she felt would be good for Rapunzel, and stiletto pumps with saddle-shoe detailing by Joan & David. And really, really tall black boots. I really think I gave birth to Kate‘s daughter instead of mine.

12. She’s so verbal and so precise in her language. She doesn’t say, “Cupcake!” or even, “I want a cupcake!” She says, “Mommy, I would like a cupcake please. A pink cupcake. A pink cupcake with a white star.” (Because they’re from Sprinkles, and she sometimes chooses her own little decoration-thingie.) “Let’s go, Mommy, let’s go buy a cupcake. Let’s go buy one. Let’s buy a pink cupcake for me. And a brown cupcake for Daddy. And a white cupcake for you. You can have a cupcake with me, too. Come on. Come on, let’s go. Right now.”

13. She will only wear dresses now. Skirts? No. Shorts? No. Dresses. And nighting gowns.

14. She’s been bad lately. It’s not just the hitting, it’s the total lack of regard for what I tell her to do. And it’s the instant screech-and-hit reaction to anything other than getting exactly what she wants right now. And for the most part, I like my updates about her to be sunshine and lollipops, because, you know, this is for posterity and who wants to read about bad stuff? On the other hand, there is some value to talking about just how tough this shit is. Because you might be thinking, “Oh, your two-year-old hits you, so what? Two-year-olds do that and you just put her in a time-out and get on with your day, right? I mean, she’s itty-bitty, even for a two-year-old. It can’t possibly hurt.” You guys, it hurts. It doesn’t hurt physically (although she does have some degree of strength and no real understanding of how or why to control that), but it hurts your heart when your own child hits you. And when she’s far into the tantrum, screaming and flailing and hitting repeatedly, the helplessness, the lack of control, the RAGE I feel, coupled with the absolute commitment to controlling that rage, are overwhelming. And at that point, you can’t “just put her in a time-out”; children (people) don’t work that way. She’s mid-tantrum, time-outs are meaningless and impossible. Not to mention I don’t think I believe in time-outs. And that’s actually the hardest thing – that the RAGE is directing me to parent in a certain way – punitive, harsh, authoritarian – and it’s the opposite of the way I want to parent. But the way I want to parent offers limited advice for what to do with a child who is SCREAMING and HITTING you RIGHT NOW. So, my point is, this parenting stuff is hard.

15. On the other hand, she always wants to help. Even if it’s actually a hindrance to let her, her eagerness to do it is pretty awesome. She likes to help me put laundry in the washer and dryer. (She also likes to throw it around while I fold it.) She likes to help Daddy clean. Recently she tried to help me fix a paper jam in a copy machine. I really like that about her, that a) she wants to lend a hand, and b) she’s interested in everything that happens around her and wants to be a part of it. It’s a little bit of a pain in the ass, but it’s more awesome than unfortunate.

16. “I don’t want this dress on anymore.” (Removes dress) “I want to wear a blue dress. I want to wear my Cinderella nighting gown. Right now. I want to wear my Cinderella nighting gown on my nak’dy legs.”

17. (At the grocery store) Me: I love you. Zoe: I love you, too. Let’s talk about noovies. Me: Okay. What movies do you want to talk about? Zoe: I like Winnie the Pooh, I like Marry Potter (and I should note here that she is saying “Marry,” to rhyme with “Harry,” not “Mary.” There’s a distinction in the vowel sound, just like a real East Coast-er. So I guess I’m getting through, after all.), I like Cars 2. I saw Cars 2 with Daddy. Me: Yeah? You liked Cars 2? Zoe: Yeah, I liked the red one and the purple one. I had fun with Daddy. (Of course, “Daddy” sounds like “Dyaddy”. So it’s not all the way East Coast.)

18. She likes to feed me lines, like I am a particularly stupid actor. “Mommy, say, ‘Do you want a cookie?'” She especially likes to feed me lines in order to start a conflict. Zoe: This is not our house (as we pull up to our house). Me: Yes, it is. Zoe: No, it’s NOT! Me: Okay, it’s not. Zoe: Yes, it is. Me: Right, it is. Zoe: No, say, ‘No, it’s NOT!’ Me: No, it’s NOT! Zoe: Don’t whine at me!

19. She also likes to prompt action that will give her a chance for a little melodrama. We went to a park with her friends Ero and Lou (and their mother, obviously). When we got into the car to leave, she was upset but she was pretty quiet as I futzed with the iPhone and whatever I did before actually pulling out. Finally, Zoe got tired of waiting and said, “Drive, Mom!” So I started driving and she started faux-crying. “Why are you sad?” I asked. “I’m sad because you took me away from Lou!” she wailed. In other words, she was waiting for me to drive before she started her performance of sadness over it.

20. We told her we were going to Target. She said, “I want to go with Daddy. Only Daddy, not YOU!” This is because Daddy will buy her a red Icee and I won’t.

21. She does this finger-pointing thing when she’s expounding on a topic – her thumb and forefinger clenched, her wrist locked – that’s really too cute for words. She has a series of gestures, actually, that are pretty cute. She sort of holds her arms out to the side and brings her hands into her chest with a definitive nod of her head/upper body to emphasize points. She holds her hands out to the side, palms up, for questions or other “I guess . . .” statements. She pats her hand on her chest emphatically almost every time she says “for me” or “with me.” Just full-time cute.

22. After watching last year’s Sectionals episode of Glee, she keeps getting up on her stool, directing me to a spot where I can be an audience member, and singing, “Hey, Mr. Armstein! Here I am!” with arms thrown up above her head. She also treated me to an intense, and long, rendition of “Girls of Rock and Roll” from The Chipmunk Adventure (which is the best movie ever and I don’t care what you have to say about it). She even did the Brittany eye-roll while she was singing the Alvin part. And she saw Mulan 2 when we were with G.C. last month, and she was going around for weeks singing “Like Other Girls,” still remembering a lot of the lines and even the gesture for the line, “like holding a lily”. Awesome stuff.

23. We wanted to go to the mall the other day. Zoe didn’t want to go. We told her she could play on the tree (the big kid’s playground thingie they have at the mall). No go. We told her we could go to the toy store. No go. We told her we could look for Zoe dresses. Suddenly she’s interested. We went to Janie and Jack, she picked a dress (I directed her immediately to the sale section; have no fear). She put the dress on the counter, interacted with the saleslady with smiles and nods, and jumped up and down while waiting for the bag. Then she carried the bag to show her daddy.

24. She is further developing her flirting ability. When Lou and Ero were over, she pulled a chair up next to Ero, who was holding a toy phone, and asked him to tell her about his iPhone.

*As a note, I begin to think that those people who don’t potty train until their kid is, I don’t know, in elementary school have the right of it. Because an imperfectly potty trained child is a lot more disgusting than a diaper-wearing one. When I changed her diaper in public, I never had to worry that she would somehow spray piss all over my skirt. (I know people with male children still have to worry about this with diapers, but still.) I didn’t go into a blind panic every time I didn’t know I was three feet from a public toilet. And I never, never, never ended up with piss all down my back. Just a thought.

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SYTYCD – Top 8

Kate: Tuning in to channel 5 and discovering that Ms. GaGa was one of the guest judges truly made my week. She’s such a huge star and there she was sitting on a judges’ panel for a reality competition show, long mint green wig and all. She’s just full of surprises. Was Z excited to see her?

Erica: Yes, Z was very excited to see her, and when other judges spoke, she kept demanding to see Lady Gaga. “Does she have green hair?” “Yes.” “Oh, why?”

Sasha and Pasha

Erica: How happy could I be with Sasha and Pasha kicking off the night for me? Very happy, indeed!

Kate: I just can’t bring myself to like the quick-step. Even when it’s Sasha and Pasha.

Erica: I loved this. I thought when the choreographer was talking about the quick-step in bizarre-o world that it was going to be stupid but no, it was totally quirky and cute and I loved it. Put a big smile on my face. I even looked at Sasha and not Pasha for most of the dance! And not just because I want her dress! I thought her technique looked good, I thought her legs were great with all those kicks, and I thought her character was perfect. Sasha for the win!

Kate: Yes she had great form and that was quite an interesting dress. It still wasn’t my favorite from her.

Erica: I must say I am really surprised that Lady Gaga is so lucid and coherent and not nearly as prone to dance babble as I thought she’d be, and a really helpful and informative judge.

Kate: I enjoy her appreciation of dance.

Caitlyn and Ivan

Erica: Caitlyn did seem more present and alive during this number. But I didn’t like it. I hate the amateur-theatrics stuff with the phone and the head-shaking and I thought the choreography was meh. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t dance it well.

Kate: Oh yeah, I hated this. Mostly because of the bad choreography-the
intro had approximately zero dancing.

Erica: See, Lady Gaga called the choreography “dated” and I have to say that’s exactly how I felt but couldn’t articulate it. Which is, of course, the definition of a good judge-someone who agrees with me but says it better.

Kate: Who’da thunk it?

Jordan and Ade

Erica: I know this is shallow but costume people, seriously. What the f*ck is Jordan supposed to be wearing and why? I consider Zoe too old for rompers.

Kate: The costume people must have beef with Miss Jordan because nothing they choose for her is ever flattering.

Erica: I feel that both of them move their bodies like wow and are well-matched in terms of the athletic-ness of their dancing but I felt her performance was forced. It is possible that this is just my anti-Jordan prejudice showing, though.

Kate: No, you’re right. Put two people with awesome legs together and you should get an explosive performance, which this was most decidedly not.

Erica: See, I was liking Lady Gaga, and then she had to say the thing about the catheter.

Kate: Wait, was she serious?

Erica: I sure hope not. She later threw those shoes at Sasha, Melanie, and Sonja.

Melanie and Neil

Erica: Melanie and Neil? This night just keeps getting better! And if you can trust anyone to hit the “emotional highs and lows,” it’s them. For serious.

Kate: Unreal.

Erica: Trust Mandy Moore to pick a super-cheesy song, too. Which is not to say I don’t love this song. I love this song with my whole heart.

Kate: I also found the song choice hilarious and had a hard time taking them seriously, but they were just so phenomenal.

Erica: Zoe observed that they were dancing to a Glee song. (She had the opportunity to make that observation many times tonight.) She asked me who was singing; I said “Bonnie Tyler.” She said, “And Rachel?”

Kate: Hot damn I miss that kid.

Erica: They were just f*cking amazing. Amazing. The leap. The everything. I loved it. I love them. I love her. I changed my mind; Melanie for the win!

Kate: It’s certainly going to come down to her and Sash!

Ricky and Anya

Erica: Here is the problem-the only person who’s ever been manly enough to partner Anya is Pasha. Everyone else just gets led around the floor by her. And hey, I would pay good money to watch Anya lead a series of men around the floor. The chick rocks my socks off. But I was already over Ricky and this didn’t help.

Kate: Agreed. If I were Ricky I’d feel pretty emasculated from her throwing me over her head.

Erica: I felt like his feet weren’t going high enough and he definitely did not look like he could be trusted with the lifts. He gave off no heat. There were some moments where his lithe slinkiness looked good, but overall? Meh.

Kate: I don’t get what the judges see in him.

Erica: And I get so excited when I can tell that Mary Murphy totally agrees with me even if she says it nicer.

Jess and Lauren Gottlieb

Kate: He was FANTASTIC in this! Let me pretend to be Nigel for a moment and say I am ecstatic that a hip-hop performance like that came from a Broadway dancer. That’s the kind of hip-hop dance I’d love to do.

Erica: Jess looked manly doing this! He did a great performance! I feel my love for him is justified!

Kate: It is!

Erica: And I also maybe had a sort of anti-Lauren feeling during her season which is perhaps not justified.

Kate: I didn’t watch her season but I’ve always thought she was good.

Erica: Lady Gaga did not like the props! I love that she’s going after choreographers.

Kate: Yeah, she’s getting pretty sassy. It was only one prop though. I like that she stopped and said, “You know I love props.” We know, Gags.

Tadd and Lauren Froderman

Kate: L-O-V-E-D looooooved it. Another routine I would love to do myself, they were spot-on.

Erica: These two belong together, I thought. Both of them make me smile. I thought it was super cheesy, which I sort of expect from Mandy Moore, but there’s “Ugh, this is so cheesy” cheese (like Caitlyn and Ivan’s number) and then there’s “Nom, nom, I love cheese!” I loved this cheese. I must figure out what makes me go “ugh” and what makes me go “nom”; it would really help my writing.

Kate: Good explanation. I now like Tadd a lot more.

Erica: And if they bring up the “You’re a b-boy” nonsense again I’m going to lose it.

Kate: I’m sayin’!

Marko and Allison

Erica: Another great pair.

Kate: Wow. WAIT! Did you know that Allison and Twitch are dating!? I just discovered that this morning via Twitter, and I think it is just the best thing ever. They probably have earth-shattering sex.

Erica: You know, I thought it was lovely and amazing, but I didn’t lose my shit like all the judges and the two dancers seemed to. Which may be because I was watching through a weather warning and a toddler who wanted “Another One Bites the Dust” again and a husband who wanted to tell me about some tech thing he wants to buy. But I love Marko and I totally melted with the interaction between him and his mom because I am a softie at heart. But not such a softie that I want to listen to Nigel natter on in a patronizing way about parental love and loss. Shut it, Nigel. Other people in the world besides you have felt emotions.

Kate: Well yes that was pretty freakin’ adorable with his mom, and I thought this was a great number, but let’s get back to the Allison and Twitch sex. I mean relationship.

Erica: I did hear that and I need to see them dance together before I can tell whether I think they are having the most amazing sex relationship ever. But chances are pretty good that they are.

Caitlyn and Tadd

Erica: Seriously, Caitlyn grew a personality in a week or something. Where did she come from?

Kate: Still don’t think she’s all that and a bag of chips.

Erica: She’s just a lot better than she has been. And I’m losing it. Enough with the b-boy nonsense. Especially because you just know he’s tried out for this show a time or two and
he’s taken classes in stuff like contemporary and ballroom so this ridiculous “You’ve never seen choreography before!” is not only insulting and a little racist, it’s a manipulative lie.

Kate: Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Erica: The thing Lady Gaga said about trophies and how she makes each album like she’s never had a hit before was great. Really good advice for any artist. Why am I liking her so much? I was definitely not expecting this.

Kate: ZT is rubbing off on you.

Marko and Ricky

Erica: Aw, how cute. The two least tough people in this competition get the swaggiest (for NappyTabs) hip-hop choreography yet. And actually, I thought Marko pulled it off.

Kate: Agreed, but I agreed with GaGa’s “contrived” comment. It was a little too similar to Jeanine and Ade “Move If You Wanna” and it even had a little borrowed choreography from Alex Wong and Twitch’s “Outta Your Mind”.

Erica: I’m kind of loving Lady Gaga ragging on NappyTabs.

Kate: But I still love NappyTabs!

Jordan and Jess

Erica: Here’s what I love: when the judges totally agree with me! I thought they both danced well but not together and there was no heat, no chemistry at all. And I even noticed the swayback thing Nigel pointed out! I am a dance-judge genius!

Kate: Yes you are. This, in a word, sucked. See what I mean about the costume people’s beef with Jordan? Perhaps they are annoyed with her faux innocence as you are.

Erica: I don’t know; I think they don’t know what to do with her. I mean, to call her “thick” would be a joke of monstrous proportions, but she’s built a little more solidly and a little more broadly than your average dancer while still being short. So the costumes that look good on lithe, tiny girls like Sasha (who is still crazy muscled but just slimmer and longer) don’t quite work as well on Jordan. But the costumers don’t do anything to adjust their costuming to flatter her. That said, I didn’t mind the ballroom dress as much as the friggin’ romper.

Sasha and Melanie

Erica: Sasha and Melanie?! Sasha and Melanie?! I wasn’t even this happy about Sasha and Pasha!

Kate: Yeah, during the commercial break I tried to figure out who was left and realized they were going for this. Pretty awesome.

Erica: I can’t even speak. This was awesome. This was so awesome it went beyond awesome and then came right back around to it. How, America? How will we decide between these two amazing, beautiful, ridiculous dancers?

Kate: How sick would it be if there was a tie!? And don’t you think Ms.Tayeh should choreograph for Ms. GaGa? They seem somewhat made for each other.

Erica: Are we certain she hasn’t?

Kate: Also, Lady GaGa made for a surprisingly great guest judge but lest we forget some of her shameless self promotion tricks-she dropped in “on the edge” and “born this way” several times throughout her critiques. Yea, I see you GaGa!

Erica: See, I’m an idiot. I didn’t know she had a song called “On the Edge,” because they haven’t covered it on “Glee.” But I don’t care much about that; it’s not like there’s a large demographic of people who watch SYTYCD but aren’t much aware of Lady Gaga. On the elimination show, Zoe loved the Lady Gaga number. And the opening number. She was trying to imitate the dances.

Kate: We need to start Facetime-ing more.

Erica: Sure. And Ricky didn’t even make bottom two. The bottom two boys were Jess and Tadd. And Jess went home. Allegedly the judges went with the votes. WTF, America?

Kate: SO disappointed, I will restate what I said on Twitter: There is absolutely NO reason Jess should have gone home and Ricky should still be in the competition. NO REASON, AMERICA!

Erica: I mean, I can see either Jess or Tadd being in the bottom two. It was obviously not going to be Marko. But why wasn’t Ricky there so that he could have been sent home instead? At least they got the girls right with Jordan and Caitlyn in the bottom two. And Jordan went home. Caitlyn will go home next week. And their dances are kind of exactly what I mean about the whole “I’m a virgin but I dance like a whore” dichotomy. Both of those girls were deliberately sexual in their solos. Both of those girls-ESPECIALLY Jordan-are known for “sexy” solos and deliberately include overtly sexual movements in their solos, solos which they choreograph, so it’s not like they’re being told to be sexy by someone else. We even saw Tyce go ballistic over Jordan’s deliberately sexy audition, saying “You NAUGHTY girl!” And both of them, but more so Jordan, have been very “I’ve never heard of sex; I don’t know if I can be sexy; ew, totally cute Tadd might actually put his tongue in my mouth, gross!” in interviews. Now I don’t know which persona is false but they’re both annoying. That said, Jordan, you do have crazy-ass legs and a lot of talent and I’m sorry I’m such a bitch.

Kate: Yeah, my world will go on with Jordan out of this competition. And I hope you’re right about Caitlyn next week.

Erica: And Jess, I love you, bubbeleh. You can come over for Shabbat dinner any time.

Kate: You are such a good Jewish mother. Poor Jess! ❤ Hugs.

Hello. You’re a Girl.

And here’s what you’re going to be hearing for your entire life:

Guys want to fuck you. It’s not a compliment, they want to fuck just about anything that moves. Badly. They won’t really care about anything else to do with you except whether you are willing to have sex with them. They don’t want to talk to you or hear your opinions or go out to brunch with you. And they’re right, too. Your opinions are stupid. So is brunch. You know why it’s stupid? Because it’s the kind of thing girls like to do, that’s why. But you can use their single-minded and stupid-making desire to have sex to make them do other things that you like. Such as shopping. Or making babies.

Because it goes without saying that you don’t like sex. You’re a girl. It’s icky. I mean, it’s fine if it gets a ring on your finger and all. And kissing and cuddling are fun. But actual, like, sexual desire? The deep and instinctual need to pound your body against someone else’s until you come? No. You never feel that way. Unless you’re some kind of gross, dirty slut. Guys never give rings or babies to dirty sluts.

Of course, when we said guys want to fuck any girl, we didn’t mean you. You’re kind of . . . well, you could use some improvements. It’s a good thing we have this thing to sell you that will fix all the things about you that will turn a man off. Well, as long as you keep buying what we’re selling for infinity. Even after you get the ring. Because he’ll leave or cheat if you don’t stay fuckable. It won’t be his fault. It’ll be the other woman’s, for being a dirty slut. And yours. For not staying fuckable.

Here’s what’s wrong with you: Cankles. Bad skin. Lack of confidence. Too much confidence – who do you think you are, with those cankles? Intelligence. Stupidity. Weird boobs. Shoes that are so five minutes ago. You’re fat. You’re not fat, but you still have jiggly parts. You are not fat, but you lack boobs and a butt. You can’t cook. You can cook, and that’s what’s making you fat. Or boring and too much like his mother. You’re not enough like his mother. Women from her generation knew how to treat men. You can’t dance. You can dance – too sexily. He thinks you’re a dirty slut now. He’ll fuck you, but he won’t marry you.

Which is too bad because didn’t we mention? You don’t like sex. It’s icky. Plus you hate the way your thighs look naked and that makes you too self-conscious to enjoy yourself during sex. And why is it, exactly, that you’re so insecure about your thighs? Insecurity is unattractive.

But guys hate it when you act like you don’t like sex, especially when they’re having sex with you. They like it when you act like a porn star. But not too experienced or anything. They don’t like thinking about any other men you might have allowed to have sex with you. So act like a virgin. Except not nervous or inexperienced or unskilled. Like a girl who’s in her first porn movie ever. That’s how you should act.

Also, even though you don’t like sex, remember that nothing is important about you except whether guys want to fuck you or not. If guys don’t want to fuck you (which they don’t, because did we mention that you have totally weird shoulder blades and oddly shaped labia?) you are invisible. You don’t exist. You are vapor. People’s eyes will pass over you as if you literally don’t exist. So you better spend a lot of your time trying to attract a certain kind of attention that obviously, you don’t even want. But if you don’t attract it, no man will ever marry you, and that will be the ultimate symbol of your total failure to be a woman.

But wait, there’s more! If all you do is try to make yourself sexy, then you’re a dopey bimbo. You should have a career. You should make money (although not as much money as any of your potential sexual partners). You should do something Important or Cool, and preferably sexy and feminine, but it’s okay if the job is a little masculine if you look good doing it. You should have hobbies and interests and friends (but none that you wouldn’t drop in a minute for the right guy). You should be smart without being nerdy or threatening, and funny without being gross or too, you know, into laughing about girl stuff. You should be good at stuff, maybe even one or two masculine things, like darts or punching. (But not better! Never better!)

But never forget this – even if you are a PI in pencil skirts and stilettos who graduated summa cum laude and you love Will Ferrell and the Green Bay Packers, if you have cankles and bad hair, you’re just a desperate whore and no one will want to fuck you.

And it’s worse than no one will want to fuck you. Well, not worse. Because nothing is worse than no one wanting to fuck you. But there are other bad things, too. If you can’t manage to occupy that exact space between fuckable but not slutty, you won’t get the career opportunities that prettier but less slutty girls get. People will care a lot less if you go missing or if you’re the victim of violence. And no one will believe you if you accuse someone of rape. Because either you were obviously asking for it, come on, or there’s no way anyone would want to have sex with you badly enough to force the issue.

And we haven’t even gotten started! Just wait until you become a mother! (What do you mean, you’re not having kids? Weirdo. Well, you’ll change your mind eventually, we’re sure.)

Have a nice life!

SYTYCD – Top Ten!

Erica: So tonight we saw them dance one dance with an all-star and one solo. And may I just say to all current and future SYTYCD dancers: that thing they used to do at the end of the solo where it went “So you think you can dance . . . dance . . . dance . . . dance”? It doesn’t do that anymore. It’s just “So you think you can dance” and then it’s over. So stop making little moves to the non-existent echoing “dance”.
Kate: I noticed that too! I thought some of the girls choreographed the end of their solo specifically to shake their hips to that “dance …dance…dance”. #Fail
Erica: It happens all the time. And Neil Patrick Harris as a judge? Best guest ever. Please make him come back every day.

Erica: I do wonder why Pasha danced twice. Not that I’m complaining. At all. I would like to watch two hours of Pasha doing ballroom. More than that, I would like to spend two hours ballroom dancing with Pasha. But what happened? Did they lose a guy?

Kate: Yes. They lost Alex Wong. Remember?

Erica: Oh, right. Couldn’t they have asked Ade? He was right there in the audience.

Kate: I thought you’d be thrilled about that! He was looking more scrumptious than usual to me. I think he is in love with himself though.

Erica: I am thrilled! I was just wondering. Anyway, here we go:

Marko and Chelsie

Erica: Holy hell, I love him. During the dance I was thinking, “Is his back supposed to be straighter?” Just because I’m trying to look for these technical things. But Mary Murphy thought he was awesome, and if Mary Murphy thinks he’s awesome, he must be awesome.

Kate: Dag nabbit Archie made me miss the first dance again! I heard the critique though and they said it was “hot”, so I feel as though I need to YouTube it.

Erica: You know, I think I might like this Duffy chick.

And the solo was awesome. It was one of the few of the night I actually enjoyed. I usually am bored by solos, particularly contemporary ones.
Kate: Oh, we’re commenting on the solos? They usually bore me too, in fact I usually don’t even watch them. Solo dances are completely uninteresting to me, so if they can impress me with a solo dance then they have really impressed me. That said, I don’t even remember this one. I do like Duffy though.

Jordan and Brandon

Erica: I can’t believe I disagree with NPH but I didn’t feel their connection very well. It was actually better when they were dancing in parallel than when they were dancing together, you know? Anyway, both of them are ridiculous with their bodies.

Kate: Yea, I liked Cat’s comment about Brandon needing muscle definition. I thought this was okay, not as spectacular as the judges said. I was however wowed by her legs once again.

Jess solo

Erica: He’s just so good. He really looks like leaping five feet into the air and spinning around on one foot a hundred and 47 times is nothing to him. And he’s so joyful.

Kate: I am now seeing in him what you see in him, this was great. He looks like such a nice little Jewish boy, too.

Tadd and Comfort

Kate: Goodness gracious this was unbelievable. I LOVE that Chris Brown song for a hip-hop routine and they did it BEAUTIFULLY. I disagree that Tadd out-danced Comfort, though; no one can out-dance Comfort.

Erica: I love Comfort. I think it’s hard to look like you have swagger standing next to her, even if you are, like, a battle-hardened actual gang member or something. But Tadd did pretty well. I love how, EVEN WHEN DANCING HIP-HOP, there’s still the “You’re a b-boy! You shouldn’t be able to do this!” meme.

Kate: Oh my God I almost threw something at the TV. Hip-hop is the dance genre CLOSEST to b-boy-ing! For the love of all things sacred Nigel GET. OVER. IT.

Melanie solo

Erica: She has so much control over herself.

Kate: What negative thing could anyone ever possibly have to say about this little angel?

Our Mother: What is that?! Is that a cover of “You’re the One That I Want”?! (major eye roll)

Mitchell and Melody

Kate: You know something, I actually liked that the theme of this was so different than the usual sap story. It was fun and weird and had something to do with airplanes, and WHO CARES if that didn’t come through? Did they dance it well? I think so.

Erica: Fine. Not so much with the loving. Still loving NPH, though. Especially when he disses Tyce D’Orio.

Kate: I think this is the point where Cat Deeley said, “Well, not everyone will love everything and Mom walked in and said, “How philosophical.”

Erica: In case you can’t tell, we were raised by the Grand Duchess of Snark.

Ricky solo

Erica: I’ve liked other solos of his better. He’s appeared more liquid-y before. This didn’t strike me as markedly different than any other contemporary male solo. Which is not to say he was bad, just it was boring.
Kate: Yea, barely watched this one. I’m not a fan of him.

Clarice solo

Erica: Again, to me, this was a boring contemporary solo. It showed that she can move her body really well, but it wasn’t an interesting performance.

Kate: Oh no I liked this one because it wasn’t the usual slow contemporary, she put some sass in it. What’s with the thing attached to her bottom thing though? Dumb.

Caitlyn and Pasha

Erica: Drool. You know, I don’t know that this is the first time the judges have been all, “You were a girl before but tonight you danced like a woman,” when the person had just partnered with Pasha for the first time. I’m saying, I think he has that affect on the female population.

Kate: I didn’t love this as much as the judges did; like when NPH said it started off slow I thought it stayed awkwardly slow for the bulk of the performance. Not that Pasha could ever be awkward. Perhaps I just don’t really fancy the Argentinean tango.

Erica: The dancing I thought was unusually kicky for a tango, which was interesting to me, and I thought maybe her kicks were not as tight as they were supposed to be, but I again defer to Mary Murphy, who apparently didn’t think so.

Kate: Yea, I was actually really taken aback by her “standing ovation” (note that she was the only one standing). I mean she was better than she has been, but nowhere near the level of the beloved Melanie or Sasha.

Mitchell solo

Kate: Meh.

Erica: It was . . . good? I don’t know how to evaluate contemporary male solos.

Sasha and Twitch

Kate: Un. Be. Lievable.

Erica: Damn. Damn. A thousand times DAMN. That was awesome. I loved the choreography, I loved doing hip-hop to a non-hip-hop song in a non-cheesy way, I loved Twich, I fucking LOVED Sasha because DAMN. I think she’s going to win this thing.

Kate: The crowd’s reaction to that solidified in my mind that she will in fact win this, which makes me feel bad for Melanie but I don’t think it will hurt her career at all. Don’t you think there was a little somethin’ somethin’ going on with Sasha and Twitch, aka THE GOD OF ALL MALE DANCERS?

Erica: No. Well, maybe. I mean, look, Sash, it wouldn’t be a bad idea, nah mean? But I’ve got to complain about some production issues. It might be fine for a girl in black pants to be dancing in an area with no lighting LIVE, but on TV it looks bad and we can’t see her dancing.

Kate: How can you pay that much attention to costume in a routine like that?

Erica: Because I couldn’t see the AWESOME DANCING as much as I wanted to. But oh my goodness that was sick.

Jordan solo

Erica: Good?

Kate: Not that good.

Jess and Kathryn

Erica: I thought he was amazing. I think he’s maybe a touch muggy but really over all I think he’s great. And the lifts—he did well, and he’s only 18, people! He’s going to grow!

Kate: I loved him in this! I’m also not sure what everyone means by “muggy”, but he is clearly significantly smaller than the average male lifter so cut him some slack. I thought his emotion in this was spot-on.

Erica: By “muggy” they mean he pulls too many faces, overdoes the character stuff. I don’t think he does.

Tadd solo

Erica: Super fun solo. He does b-boy with not so much swagger but with a lot of joy and silliness and I like that.

Kate: Don’t think I watched this one, and despite that awesome performance with Comfort I don’t think I like him that much.

Melanie and Pasha

Erica: Some more drooling for me. And Melanie was just dreamy.

Kate: I have never seen such an incredible Viennese waltz on this show; Mary Murphy was totally right, she was literally floating. AND did you see when they were critique the camera panned to her mom and grandma (I’m assuming?) Her mom was crying! I wanted to hug all of them. I teared up a bit when NPH said she has a light from within. (And again, I want to borrow her dress.)

Caitlyn solo

Erica: Fine?

Kate: Why did she have that thing on her bottom thing too!? It’s a conspiracy.

Allison and Ricky

Erica: I think I’m pretty much over Ricky. I didn’t think he was creepy or strong enough and I didn’t think he danced at Allison’s level.

Kate: Then again, who can? Besides Robert Roldan, of course. I agree though. Buh-bye Rick.

Marko solo

Erica: I love him. Although it occurs to me—of the five girls in the competition at this point, all of them are contemporary dancers. And three of the males are, and then Jess is “Broadway,” which doesn’t really mean anything and he’s probably taken classes in contemporary along with everything else, and Tadd is a b-boy who IS COMPLETELY UNTRAINED AND HAS NEVER EVEN SEEN DANCING OTHER THAN BREAKING, by which I mean he’s probably been taking years of classes in everything, including contemporary. So that’s pretty weighted and maybe next season they should make an effort to include more of a range?

Kate: I hadn’t thought of that, but sure. Contemporary is always the biggest genre on this show I feel.

Clarice and Robert

Erica: I am not normally attracted to men in purple sparkles. But I guess I can change.

Kate: I’m attracted to Robert in whatever pants he wants to wear. I thought that was fun! I love Bollywood, every time I watch it I want to learn how to do it. It’s got to be murder on your quads.

Erica: And it was Mitchell and Clarice who went home. They would not have been my picks but I’m not excessively sad, either.

Flabbergasted

I know this is off-schedule but I’m so . . . something. Disgusted? Shocked? Disgusted that I’m not more shocked?

So Catherine Kieu Becker drugged her husband, tied him to the bed, cut off his penis, and ground it up in the garbage disposal. This news broke a little over a week ago and I heard it and thought “Ew, gross,” and thought no more about it. Because I didn’t think this was going to be a thing. You know, it’s a heinous crime, and all people who are not sociopaths are all going to think, “That’s terrible!” and that’s really all there is to say, right?

I know. I’m so naive. Of course it was going to be a thing. Over on The Talk, which is CBS’s The View, Sharon Osbourne called it “fabulous,” and all the ladies on the panel and in the audience laughed. One of the audience ladies, upon learning that the guy had filed for divorce (before the penis-cutting-off incident), said, “That’ll show ’em.” And they all laughed. Then Leah Remini tried to (sort of) bring order to the proceedings by saying there’s only one thing that would make her that mad, and all the ladies guessed, “Cheating?” and I went, what? Cheating? I mean, I’d be mad if my husband cheated on me, for sure. I’d be file-divorce-papers mad. I’d be fuck-whoever-would-piss-him-off-the-most mad. (Well, maybe. On the other hand, if I wasn’t filing for divorce, I wouldn’t want to give up the moral high ground). I’d be take-the-kid-to-New-Jersey-until-he-made-a-Grand-Gesture mad. But cheating would not make me cut-off-his-dick mad. A man raping my daughter would make me cut-off-his-dick mad. And I assume that’s what Leah Remini was alluding to. And I (and probably Leah Remini) still would not actually cut off someone’s dick. Because that shit is still wrong. And then Sara Gilbert really tried to fix things by saying, “Hate to be the spoilsport, but we wouldn’t be laughing if a man cut off a woman’s breasts and said she deserved it.” And everyone said, “Oh, you! It’s not the same thing at all! Breasts and penises are both hilarious! Let’s laugh some more.”

And I just don’t know how to process all of this. I don’t know what to do when people – mainstream, on TV, on a major network, on a regular morning show that usually talks about, I don’t know, how pretty Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress was – react to “A woman cut her husband’s penis off and threw it in a garbage disposal” with “Ha, ha, awesome!” rather than “Ew” and “That’s awful!”

What’s really upsetting is that this is exactly what I was talking about when I said I hate how all these “girl power”-type moments in pop culture are not only not feminist, they draw unfair ire towards feminism and thus erode or make more difficult the work feminism actually wants to do. I saw this clip because I was looking at this blog, and I almost didn’t post because the clip they’ve got has one of these self-identified MRA guys talking for a few minutes beforehand, and while he makes valid points about how no one would laugh if the shoe were on the smaller, daintier foot, he still calls women “cunts” and talks a lot about how emotional women are and how we want “pussy passes” for being emotional and violent and destructive. And I want to be able to say, “No, no, no, women don’t think this is acceptable; OF COURSE women don’t think this is acceptable, that’s nuts!” Except that then this fairly mainstream sampling of women – the hosts and the audience – think it’s hilarious. So these MRA guys can go, “See?”

And the guys who are on the fence, who say, “Hey, I’m just a regular guy and I think women are sometimes nice and sometimes bitches,” see this and become MRA assholes. Maybe.

So let me do what I can here. Let me say, cutting off a man’s penis is not a feminist act. It’s a sick, twisted, violent, criminal act. Laughing and assuming all men deserve to have their penises (penii? Latin people?) cut off is not a feminist reaction. It’s a sick, twisted reaction and it makes me very concerned about the relationships you have with the men in your life. I mean, really, Sharon Osbourne. You have a son. You think it’s laughable and fabulous when a man’s penis is cut off? That’s not okay.

Sometimes my fourth-grade class does something that makes me say, “Really, guys. Don’t throw crayons at each other, and don’t make me say, ‘Don’t throw crayons at each other’ to a group of fourth graders. Y’all know better.” That’s kind of what I feel like here. Like saying, “Don’t laugh at a man’s penis being cut off. And don’t make me say, ‘Don’t laugh at a man’s penis being cut off’ to a group of humans. Y’all know better.”

But with significantly more disgust and disappointment that I have towards my fourth graders. None of whom would be laughing about this.

Erica Answers, Sophia Butts In

Hey, guys? Remember Sophia? She’s going to help me give some advice.

Dear Erica/Sophia

I am an elementary school principal in a very small town, and I literally run into my students, my teachers and their families EVERYWHERE! It’s a pretty conservative community, so I feel like I have to project a certain image. This means a strict “no touching in public” policy when I’m on a date. Usually it’s not a problem (most of them are first dates), but recently I went out with a guy who just didn’t get it. It was only our second date, and there he was, trying to hold my hand in the park! When I explained my predicament, he let go, but less than 15 minutes later he was putting his arm around me. This would have made me uncomfortable even if my job wasn’t so public, because it feels like something couples do, not just two people on a date. My married friends say it was sweet, and that if I liked him I wouldn’t have minded. I say it was a weird thing for him to do, that my job concerns are legitimate, and that I would have had a right to shake him off even if he were Brad Pitt (which, by the way, he was not). What say you two?

Handsfree in the Heartland

Dear Handsfree,

I think there are two separate issues here, and the trick is in untangling them. The first is the effect your job/location has on your dating life. Frankly, I think you’re overestimating the conservatism of your location. If you’re in the United States, chances are, hand-holding is not considered that big a deal and no one will try to have you fired because their darling children saw you on the street holding a man’s hand.

Then again, “small” and “conservative” are two different things, too. I think you’re too worried about “conservative,” but, on the other hand, it is absolutely no fun to go out with a guy once who you never plan to see again and to have to hear questions at the next PTA meeting. “What was wrong with him? He took you to a nice restaurant.” “So you’re not dating that skinny fellow we saw you with last month? He seemed nice enough.”

It can also be uncomfortable, darling, if she is just using the man in question for sex. How do you answer questions about that at a . . . what is this you call? PTA meeting?

Um, yeah. That can be bad, too.

So I think the solution to Problem One – how to have a dating life with a townful of busybodies watching your every move – is to get out of town for dates. Pick a place forty-five minutes away or something. Pick a place your conservative small-towners are unlikely to go. Then you can relax a little. Hold hands or not hold hands based on whether you want to, not based on whether Mrs. Weathersby is at the next table.

Why are you dating men you don’t want to touch?

She might not know them well enough to know if she wants to touch them, Sophia.

I do not understand these words which you are saying to me.

Never mind. With getting out of town, you do have to deal with the question of who drives? You might not want to commit to an hour and a half in the car with a guy you barely know. It could be a wonderful way to get to know each other, but it could also be a great way to get to know that he’s actually a serial killer.

You are simply no fun at all. Must you approach everything as if the gentleman in question is likely a psychopath?

Well, it’s an important consideration.

Pah! The world is not full of psychopaths! The world is full of delightful, delicious men with whom you could very much enjoy driving to the country with a picnic basket and a bottle of wine. My recommendation? Wear one of those darling ’50s-style skirts – and no panties. Let him find that out on the picnic blanket.

Sophia. Honestly. She’s not even sure she wants to hold hands with the guy yet!

I do not understand these words which you are saying to me.

I know. Anyway, my point is, if you know the guy already – he’s a friend, he’s someone you’ve met in a non-romantic environment that you’re now having a romantic interlude with, etc. – then, fine, maybe drive with him. But if it’s a new guy, arrange to meet there. But get out of town so you can have an actual date, with touching if you want it.

Do you not mean “when” rather than “if”?

Your second problem is you were on a date with a boor. Do you have the right to shake him off? Hell, yes! You ALWAYS have the “right” to shake someone off and you don’t NEED a better reason than, “I don’t want to.”

Amen, darling.

Really, Soph? You agree.

Darling, the only reason to do something is because you want to. The only reason not to do something is because you don’t want to.

Well, that’s not always true, but in this case, it is. You told him what your boundaries were, and he didn’t listen or respect them. It doesn’t matter why you didn’t want to hold hands in public. You didn’t. You told him you didn’t. He did it anyway. You told him not to. He put his arm around you. He’s a boor, and he’s not worth dating.

While I don’t disagree, Erica, darling, I must add that I do agree with her friends that if she had felt an attraction for this man, she would have enjoyed the touching.

Yeah, okay, I agree on that point. If you liked him, the hand-holding and arm-putting-around would have been more, “Baby! Not in front of Mrs. Weathersby! Teehee!” and less “Don’t touch me. Ew.” And that’s fine! You don’t have to like him just because he asked you out!

Certainly not, darling. You must feel a little tingle for a man or there is simply no point in continuing to see him.

Well, you can be friends with a man and not want to sleep with him, Soph.

I suppose so. I’ve never tried it.

Fine. My point is, he’s not “sweet” for doing something you told him you didn’t want to do; he’s boorish. Holding hands is not “sweet,” it’s just a thing to do. Listening to and respecting another person’s preferences is “sweet.” And “sexy.”

Very sexy, darling. A man who remembers and and acts on your preferences is ALWAYS a man worth keeping around.

SYTYCD – Top Twelve

Kate: I don’t know about y’all but I get downright giddy when we start seeing 2 dances from each couple per episode of SYTYCD. There’s just more of a focus on the actual dancing, nah mean?

Erica: Yes! I didn’t realize what they were doing right away but I did notice the lack of “let’s do some stupid thing to ‘get to know’ the dancers” bits and the quick pace Cat kept with the judges. And hey guess what I know? Jesse TylerFerguson was in the original cast of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee! I loved him as a guest judge; I thought he was terrific. He didn’t give great critique, but he was funny. And I must say, Sonya Tayeh did give pretty good critique.

Kate: I know, it was frightening how many times I agreed with Sonya. She’s still obnoxious though.

Erica: Well, she’s still got that hippy-dippy blather that Mia Michaels does, but I felt she was much less condescending and much more comprehensible than Mia Michaels. (That said, I like a Mia Michaels’s choreography better.)

Kate: I enjoyed Jesse as well, sometimes I was like okay that wasn’t funny but other times I was like okay, that was funny. Know what I’m saying?

Erica: I liked that he made some silly metaphor and then worried about it being ‘lame.’ Seriously, dude. Look to your right. Then look one more over to your right. Do you think you can be lamer than them?

Kate: I loved Cat’s whole look, minus the dead bird on the bottom of the oh-so-sparkly dress and the way-too-heavy smoky eye makeup. How can I get my hair to do all those perfect little flippy things?

Erica: Hire a team of stylists to work on it for three hours.

Kate: All right, let’s get down to business.

Sasha and Alexander (1)

Erica: See, when choreographers Tony and Melanie were going on about how this was a “different” pasa doble because it was about strength and fighting and masculinity and femininity, I was going, “Isn’t thatthe pasa doble?” But then I saw what they meant! Sasha wasn’t in a skirt!

Kate: Sooo I missed this one. It was only this one though I swear, and it was due to a certain canine distracting me.

Erica: And hey, guess what ELSE I know? Melanie was once on What Not To Wear! They let her wear Dansko shoes because they found some cute ones she could still teach and dance in. And they put her in gorgeous non-neutral neutrals.

Kate: Look at you, knowing so much. I did actually catch the judges’ critiques of this, and I think that if they tell Alexander that he is in Sasha’s shadow one more time he might just go apesh!t and start killing people. Starting with Nigel.

Erica: Well here’s the thing—Sasha was definitely more manly than Alexander. By far. And I didn’t think it was hot. AND because I can’t resist, I want us all to keep in mind that it’s okay for girls to be matadors and bulls, but it’s still not okay for boys to be capes. Got it?

Jordan and Tadd (1)

Erica: Aw, Travis, baby, did some evil bitch break your heart? I’m sure you can find many willing to mend it.

Kate: Any time I hear the words “a Travis Wall contemporary routine” my heart flutters a bit, but was this not a bit TOO similar to that hummingbird vs. flower piece (that was him, right?)?

Erica: No. Wade Robson. I think Travis Wall has some weirdness in him like Wade Robson, but he’s not as weird. And he’s got some emotional stuff like Mia Michaels, but he doesn’t go off the deep end like she can sometimes. I love him. This, I thought, was ALMOST as good as the hummingbird piece.

Kate: Well, copy cat or not, they were fantastic in this.

Ryan and Ricky (1)

Kate: See!? See what I mean!? The judges totally agree with me on this chick, she’s too much. Everyone was very careful not to point out the shoddy choreography on this routine, and that’s really what the problem was, but the dancers did not perform it well at all. They could have salvaged it a little with some seriously extended movements and exaggerated this and that, but it fell completely flat. There was just nothing going on, like, ever.

Erica: Okay, they can go home now. I thought Ryan actually did a good job with character here and that Ricky was too stiff—it looked like someone had dinged his lack of masculinity at some point.

Kate: Disagree, they BOTH stunk up the place. And oh HELL NO Cat did not refer to Ryan as Audrey Hepburn. Bite your tongue you sassy little Aussie.

Erica: I think she was just referring to the outfit.

Kate: Still!

Caitlyn and Mitchell (1)

Kate: Ugh she has great flippy hair too! Minus the bangs. How can I get that? And more importantly, why does it look like that for dance rehearsal?

Erica: Stylists. An army of them. Oh, speaking of dance rehearsals, I was a little shocked to hear the judges say that they saw a dress rehearsal! They aren’t seeing these routines for the first time when they are judging! That’s so magic-ruining for me.

Kate: Oh yea, big oops on their part. But, I digress.

Erica: We both do.

Kate: Here we go with another “message” routine, and this one was really far fetched. It was, however, the first one the judges disliked! Shocking! I for one felt super awkward when they were critiquing it, and I felt especially bad for that choreographer. I think he might join Alexander in the stabbing Nigel party. But I would like to point out that while these 2 were not together at all, it was more an issue of Mitchell being significantly better and sharper than Caitlyn. If you just watched him, the dance wasn’t half bad.

Erica: We know how I feel about “special.” And “moving.” And “important.” But here is the thing—it’s usually bad for two reasons. One is that the choreographer tends to do hackneyed work when s/he has a “special,” “important” message that s/he’s hoping will “move” you. That was definitely the case here. Too much flailing of arms and flipping of hair. Too many moves I could have made up when I was 12. Two is that frequently the judges tongue-bathe the message without critiquing the dance. Here they critiqued the dance, and they were right on; Caitlyn and Mitchell did not dance together and did not seem to fill the choreography. I agree, Mitchell was sharper, but even he was just not good enough in this routine.

Melanie and Marko (1)

Kate: Loooooove love love, look at Miss Melanie sassing her man with a tango. I agree with Mary that there were a couple awkward moments but like she said, some professionals can’t even do those moves. And wait, Marko is Asian?

Erica: Yes? Could you not see his face before? Love them. Love them. Love them some more. Thought her hips could be looser and he could look stronger. But they are such freakin’ performers and I too am sad that that was their last dance together. I can’t imagine either of them with anyone else.

Clarice and Jess (1)

Kate:  A-dorable. I’m really becoming a fan of these 2. And thank goodness for Boyce Avenue’s version of that song, much better than the original version in my humble opinion.

Erica: Oh! That wasn’t Bruno Mars, then! I thought it didn’t sound like him but I wasn’t 100% sure.

Kate: No it was Boyce Avenue‘s cover, they (or is it just one guy?) do awesome covers often better than the original songs.

Erica: I have to tell a story here that may be embarrassing to you. When Kate was little we had a tape of Alvin & The Chipmunks songs. She loved it; we listened to it all the time. One of the songs on it was “Uptown Girl”. One day we were in the mall when the actual, non-Alvin “Uptown Girl” came on, and Kate said, “Hey, it’s that song! But it’s by a different guy!” That’s how I felt when I heard this song start up, because I’m so used to the Glee version.

Kate: Well I’m used to the devil’s aka Bruno Mars’ version. Bleh.

Erica: They did a great job with this. I liked that they did a kind of hip-hop where Jess didn’t need any swagger. Although if someone could please explain to me the difference between “jazz” or “pop” and “lyrical hip-hop”—especially when the song in question isn’t even a hip-hop song—I’d be grateful.

Kate: For starters, pop isn’t a dance genre. You know what jazz looks like, and you know what straight-up hip-hop looks like. Put those together and you sort of have lyrical hip-hop (my favorite form of it actually, and what I tried to choreograph in my dance class last year), which sometimes just means slow hip-hop or hip-hop routines set to non-hip-hop songs. Ha, I guess I can’t offer that great an explanation so if anyone else has one feel free to jump in (in the comments section below)!

Sasha and Alexander (2)

Kate: This was somethin’ else. These 2 finally connected and it really worked for them, in fact this routine put them right up there with Melanie and Marko. Sasha has uncanny control over her body and can thus completely let it go. I admire her so much.

Erica: Gorgeous. Tyce D’Orio is hit-or-miss for me; this was a hit. Alex ALMOST came up to the level of Sasha. ALMOST. But it was still not Melanie and Marko for me.

Jordan and Tadd (2)

Erica: Really, Jordan? The concept of French kissing is gross to you? How old are you? Maybe if you learned to enjoy some French kissing you could have danced that song like you knew what it felt like to wanna wail at the moon like a cat in heat.

Kate: Ha, I knew that was going to bother you. It bothered me quite a bit too. I had high hopes for this one when I heard the beginning notes of “Out Tonight”, but it disappointed.

Erica: I knew it was going to be a Rent number when they said “Broadway” and showed the outfits before the commercial.

Kate: Once again I agreed with the judges (what’s going on here?) that they could have done so much more with their characters and, you know, the dancing. Can we please talk about the extreme silliness of Tadd’s outfit, though?

Erica: Sure, let’s talk about it. I have to say, for the first minute there, he was kind of rocking it.

Kate: Oh but it’s just so silly, and so Disney! But, if nothing else, this dance highlighted Jordan’s insane legs. Her leaps, turns, kicks and extensions were all over this piece in the best possible way; those stems are forces to be reckoned with.

Erica: She just didn’t dance with any joy. That song is joyful.

Ryan and Ricky (2)

Kate: God help me I agree with Sonya Tayeh on something (although I don’t express all of my thoughts in patronizing tones with question marks at the end of things that are not questions). Ryan IS far too desperate and “pressured” and it shows in her dancing; she was okay at some of the fast cha-cha moves but she was so stiff and focused on herself that she forgot her saucy little partner was there to cha-cha WITH her.

Erica: Again, the judges loved Ricky and criticized Ryan, but I thought her character was good and he wasn’t sexy enough. Is it me? Am I getting too old to have dirty thoughts about the boys on this show? Or am I right, they just aren’t that sexy this year? I miss Pasha.

Kate: They certainly aren’t sexy together, and I miss Pasha too. I actually laughed out loud when Mary put Ricky on the Hot Tamale Train and Cat said, “And he’s got the right suspenders for the train.” #Goodonegoodone

Caitlyn and Mitchell (2)

Kate: Whoa! Well, you obviously like this one for the song. I liked this better than their first and I thought they were very into it, but Caitlyn was perhaps a little too into it and trying too hard to be sexy. Like, fake sexy.

Erica: Yes! Fake sexy! Because none of these girls can publicly declare that they know how to be actually sexy!

Kate: And I thought that one lift was going to break her leg! (Caitlyn, or whomever your costume person was this week, can I please borrow that outfit?)

Erica: I’m pretty sure you can get it at trashy.com.

Kate: So, where I ordered my Halloween costume that one year? (PS HAH trashy.com is in fact a website for sexy lingerie, which I only discovered when I looked up the site to see if it was worth hyperlinking!)

Erica: Anyway, I do love that song but I just didn’t think they were sexy enough. Or, like, in time with the music. Also, Nigel? Everyone knows you are a dirty, dirty old man.

Melanie and Marko (2)

Kate: Perfect. There’s just nothing else to say, except can I borrow her outfit as well?

Erica: Gorgeous, perfect, love them all the time.

Clarice and Jess (2)

Kate: And another winner from these 2 cuties! I never like the jive but this was great, they seemed to have so much fun with it.

Erica: I love a good jive. That was a very good jive. She looked gorgeous with her legs and he just makes it look like he learned to dance before he learned to walk. I love it.

Kate: Wait, why the heck are they switching partners next week? Does this happen every year? Last year’s “all-star” season has me all kinds of confused.

Erica: Yes, they always start mixing it up after the top ten. I kind of heard rumors that they’re doing something all-star-y this season once we get to the top ten this year as well? I hope so. I have love in my heart for some of these boys—Jess, Marko, a little bit Mitchell—but it is the love of a big sister for a little brother. I want a different kind.

Kate: Well I predict Ryan and Ricky are out. Maybe Caitlyn and Mitchell. I just don’t know.

Erica: My bets to go home are Ryan and Ricky, but I’d be happy if they lost Alexander and Caitlyn instead (and kept Sasha and Mitchell). My bet for the win is Sasha.

Kate: My ideal top 6: Sasha and Alexander, Melanie and Marko, Clarice and Jess. Boom.

Erica: Who are we, Ari Gold?

Kate: Does Ari say “boom” often?

Erica: Yes. My bet for the final 4 is Sasha, Melanie, Marko, and…Tadd. But it’s possible Melanie and Marko will implode without each other, in which case…Clarice and Mitchell? Who knows? I’m always wrong anyway.

Kate: You are not always wrong, it’s just that I’m always right.

Erica: WAIT, Cat Deeley is up for an Emmy! She should win based on hair alone. And if they throw legs into the judging, whoa baby.

Kate: The whole show is nominated! How do we know which dances were nominated?

Erica: I dunno. Watch? Pacey and Sookie from “Gilmore Girls” are
hosting. (What, do they have real names?)

Kate: Who’s Pacey from “Gilmore Girls”?

Erica: Obviously, I meant Sookie, from “Gilmore Girls,” and Pacey, from Paceyness.

Kate: By Paceyness you mean Dawson’s Creek. Got it. What random Emmy hosts?

Erica: Possibly they just made the announcement? Anyway, who went home? I didn’t watch last night.

Erica: Ryan and Alexander. Not at all upset.

Kate: Good job, America!

Hero Dog

Well, it looks like blogging about SYTYCD is not going to work out this week. I was away, then I was un-being-away (unpacking, etc.), then our power went out and is supposed to be out until tomorrow morning. What joy is ours.

So if you want SYTYCD stuff, see my sister’s post. And while you’re here, read my story of my hero dog.

I saw this and it got me upset, because I didn’t get a chance to nominate our Curly. So I will tell the story of his heroism to the two of my readers who’ve never heard me natter on about this before.

My mom has a townhouse on the Jersey shore. It’s not in a ritzy area at all, and it sort of borders marshland, so there’s always lots of wildlife around. One particular year there was a sort of family of ducks that hung around the parking lot of the complex – one female and two males. (And who are you to say that’s not a family, by duck standards? Or any standards?) And of course they were terrified of Curly whenever he came out for a walk, especially because Curly was notorious for not understanding that not every creature in the world wanted to befriend his big, galumphing self.

Then one day, my mom saw this family of ducks, and then she saw a gang of male ducks attacking them. Some of them were holding the two males off while another (or some others) were attempting to rape the female duck. So my mom leashed up Curly and brought him outside, where he made a big ruckus and scared the gang of rapist ducks away.

And from that day forward, that family of ducks wouldn’t fly off in fear when they saw Curly. They wouldn’t, like, cozy up to him and lie against his belly or anything, but they definitely recognized that Curly was a friend.

Now, when I tell this story, people generally look at me like I’m a nut. But it turns out that ducks really are incredibly prone to rape. Duck genitals are designed to either be able to successfully rape a female (and impregnate her) or to expel unwanted sperm from rapists.

Those of you who know me (all of you) might expect me to start a long treatise here about animal sexual behavior and the total nonsense that is evolutionary psychology. But that is not what I’m here for today. Today, my point is, Curly was a hero, and deserves to be honored.

So You Think You Can Dance – Now with 100% more social commentary!

Since my sister couldn’t watch this week, I thought I’d do something a little different. I don’t know if it’s me or the show this week, but it was tripping off all kinds of my feminist/progressive/over-analytical buttons, so I thought I’d write about that stuff instead.

First of all, this season, they’ve been saying that the girls are just amazing, amazing powerhouse dancers who rock their worlds, and the guys . . . are really good. Ish. But they have to work hard to keep up with the girls, dontcha know. I’ve been finding this pretty annoying, myself. And I’d be especially pissed if I were a guy who didn’t make the cut. “Really? I’m not even good enough to play with these apparent losers?” I’d also like to say, if you’re going to say shit like that, stop voting off one guy and one girl. Because that means you’re letting girls go who are better than the guys you’re keeping, and that’s no fair. We’re supposed to be voting for America’s favorite dancer, not America’s favorite couple, no? And we all know same-sex ballroom can be done, even if it freaks Nigel out. But it wouldn’t even have to be! Just don’t give the girl-girl pairs ballroom that week! (Oh, I know, the dancing styles are randomly drawn from a hat. As if.)

But anyway, this meme has led this week’s show to feature a lot of “girls dominate!” dances, or at least a lot of chatter about “girls dominate!” dances. The first group routine featured four of the girls attacking four of the boys with chairs. The second group routine featured the other four girls poisoning the other four boys’ wine glasses. (It was actually a hella cool routine by a contemporary choreographer who also did Sasha and Alexander’s routine this week. He’s very intense and melodramatic but the dancing is pretty awesome.) And one of the dance routines featured Melanie (love!) supporting and pushing up and generally helping out Marko (love!) while he got over his fiancee who just left him at the altar, and then dun! dun! dun! He realizes he really loves her! (And it’s a credit to the dancers that they took this totally cheesy “lyrical” “hip-hop” piece and performed the hell out of it. I love them both. They are my favorite couple.) Which Cat tried to sell as “Girls rule!” And listen, I like a romantic storyline in which one party or the other suddenly looks at their best friend and goes, “You!” as much as the next person, but this was not a “girls rule!” moment. This was a “girl actually, literally supports a man until he finally can be arsed to notice her” moment. Not the same thing.

And my problem with all this is that the show presents this all as so sexy and cool and, like, progressive of them, to be celebrating talented girls who can kick the asses of talented guys! I, a feminist, am supposed to be pleased by this development!

I am not pleased. Because this is exactly what these MRA types and others think feminism is, and it’s why people hate it. Because they think feminism is about girls taking power away from boys, girls beating up on boys, girls “dominating” at the expense of boys. It’s not. Many people have been more articulate than me about why it’s not and I can be more articulate than this about why it’s not another time, but it’s just not. And look, if there were a dance about boys poisoning girls collectively, it would be dark and serious and tragic. But the dance about girls poisoning boys was cute. And you’d never have boys miming the level of violence towards girls that the girls mimed during the first group routine with the boys, it would be too scary. So what I’m saying – and what most feminists are saying, actually – is that violence by women against men is just as uncool (if less prevalent) than violence by men against women. And what this show seems to be saying is, “Boys perpetrating violence against girls is evil and scary and dark. Girls perpetrating violence against boys is beautiful and/or sexy and fun. And, thinking that way is a progressive, hip, cool way to think.”

And I hate that.

But then the show has this other meme, which it always has, which it always has had, in which, in the interviews/rehearsal footage, these girls, who are 18-25, with gorgeous dancer bodies and beautiful TV-ready faces, who have been studying how to use their bodies for years and also hit puberty some time ago, have to pretend that they do not believe they are sexy, do not believe they can project sexiness, do not have or like sex, and still sleep with a stuffed bunny in their bed. This would be annoying enough. But then the show also demands that they get on stage and dance sexily. They’ll get dinged if they can’t be adequately sexy on stage. And they’ll get dinged if they don’t act like innocent virgins off stage. Which is, like, a literal representation of regular life for women, but this is what’s called “normalizing” that.

Then Nigel forcibly kissed Mary Murphy. She actually seemed genuinely frightened and then genuinely pissed during the kiss. But then she had to laugh it off, of course. Because being actually pissed would have made her look like a bitch. And no one likes a bitch! Sexual assault is funsies! Swear! Then the judges had to keep this going. Guest judge Kristen Chenoweth (who I love, but come on, girl. You’re the queen of character work through song and dance; no one on that stage is better than you. Not even Melanie and Marko who are awesome.) kissed Li’l C. Then Nigel kissed Li’l C. Because he’s totally not homophobic, you guys! And as funny as a man sexually assaulting a woman is, it’s even funnier when a man sexually assaults another man! Homosexuality is hi-LAR-ious.

And then they had a dance routine about two people waking up in the same bed who don’t remember how they got there. Because date rape is also hilarious!

Okay, it’s not date rape if you can’t tell who’s the victim and who’s the perpetrator (right?). But still. This was supposed to be so adorable, how they were horrified by each other’s presence at first and then wanted to, like, totally do it again. That’s not . . . well, maybe I’m a big old prude. And Jordan and Tadd certainly danced it well and it was super-fun. Although then Li’l C had to be all, “NappyTabs, your concepts are just so inventive!” (NappyTabs was also responsible for the left-at-the-alter-best-friend-love one) and I’m going, “Inventive? These are plots of movies starring Ashton Kutcher and/or Katherine Heigl.”

But it’s part of a narrative on this show that’s at once disturbing and totally normal, and it’s about who women are sexually and who they have to perform being sexually and how fucked up that all is. Except the show doesn’t acknowledge that it’s fucked up. They think it’s cute and fun.

And we won’t get into all the moments that I wish I had that little .gif with the boy going, “That’s racist!”

Dancing? Yes, I believe there was dancing. The first group number by Tyce D’Orio was good. Though I didn’t understand the three glow-in-the-dark circles under each chair. They looked like those Ti-D-Bowl things.

Sasha and Alexander (Fun fact: In Russia, “Sasha” is a common nickname for “Alexander.” So now you know.) did a beautiful contemporary piece by that new guy. Alexander seemed almost as good as Sasha this time. I hate the camerawork on this show sometimes, though. We don’t need so much swooping. We should probably stay more or less where they audience is to get the full effect of the dance.

Caitlyn and Mitchell totally rocked the Jean-Marc Genereux (love!) samba, especially Mitchell and his crazy, crazy hips.

Miranda and Robert did a Tyce D’Orio routine. They continue to be meh for me. This was better than their jive but I felt a lack of connection to each other even when they were actually, you know, touching.

Melanie and Marko as I mentioned did a NappyTabs routine. They continue to be the bomb with frosting and I love them. In addition to being wonderful dancers with great movement, they can perform the hell out of anything.

Ashley and Chris did a Sonya Tayeh piece. They disappointed this week but Nigel’s critique was pretty much spot on so I have nothing to add.

Clarice and Jess looked great tonight doing a Jean-Marc foxtrot.

Ricky and Ryan’s Sonya Tayeh routine made me think a lot about the production of this show. Like, they get their dance style Thursday night after the results show. They perform Monday. At what point did Sonya Tyre say, “We need cloth, we need it to be this length”? How long do they have to rehearse with it? How does that all work? Which is to say, the dance was meh.

Jordan and Tadd rocked their NappyTabs number.

And the final group number by that new(?) guy was pretty awesome even if I object on ideological grounds.

Not surprisingly, to me, anyway, Robert and Miranda went home. So I will not make fun of her tendency to wear what appears to be regular underwear a lot of the time, and will just say I think she has a lovely and interesting face and her solo was pretty good. So was his, actually.

The surprise last night was that there was no doofy, forgettable pop act backed up by some former contestants. Instead there were two dance performers, a ballet duo with one member of the duo in a wheelchair. Awesome. Then there were the “theatrical ballroom” world (national? No, world.) champions who were OH MY FUCKING GOD. Just one day, God. I just want one day in someone like that’s body.