Who’s Paying?

Once upon a time, I heard a woman speak about an organization that had united women who considered themselves pro-life with women who considered themselves pro-choice to work on a common goal – fewer unwanted pregnancies among teenagers. The idea was, as vitriolic as the fight about abortion could be, there were still some things that pretty much everyone could agree on, one of them being, teenagers should not be having babies. (Of course, I saw this woman speak when I was in high school. Ah, the late ’90s. We thought we were a country divided then. We had no idea what was to come.) To that end, this group created the Baby-Think-It-Over that would be used in high school classrooms across America to stimulate what having a newborn was actually like. It was like making teenagers carry around an egg or a sack of flour and pretending that was a baby, only for the Next Generation. The baby doll had a computer inside it that would get it to cry and stuff, at random hours, with very slightly different cries for “hungry,” “tired,” “need a diaper change,” and “don’t give a shit, just gonna cry until you want to throw me off something.” And then the computer would record how long it took you to tend to the crying baby, how often you fed it, changed it, burped it, etc., and even whether or not you did, in fact, shake it or throw it off of something. I was never in the class that distributed these, but my sister was, and guess what? I have a kid now and she doesn’t. Coincidence? Probably. Yes. But that’s not my point.

My point is that there was this organization that said, “Look, we don’t agree when it comes to whether or not a fetus is a viable being with its own right to life separate from its mother. Fine. But we do agree that teenagers shouldn’t have babies. What could we do to work together on that project?”

Right now there is a protest going in Chicago – and it’s part of a country-wide protest – about raising the minimum wage. People who disagree with the notion tend to say things like, “Look, it’s a minimum wage – you’re supposed to get promoted and get more money!” and “Why are these people looking for handouts from their employers?” and “It’s unskilled work – how much do you think you should get paid to do it?” And I disagree with these sentiments pretty vehemently. Not everyone is going to get promoted. The whole point of having a minimum wage is that it should be a living wage, which is not. Getting paid does not equal getting a handout. Etc.

But the comments miss a point, and it’s a point I think we could all agree on. The point is, multi-billion dollar corporations should not be getting government handouts. Our taxes should not go to padding the wallets of people who are going to use our money to buy that third man-made island off the coast of Dubai that they’ve always wanted.

And that’s what not raising the minimum wage does. Look, every company needs employees who have had enough to eat, who have a safe place to sleep and a stable home where they can be found by their employers, who have the transportation necessary to get to and from work, who are healthy and energetic enough to come in to work and perform their tasks. At the very barest minimum. The current minimum wage in most places is not high enough to pay for those things. Not even for a single person, never mind a person who has any kind of family to support.

And yet, McDonald’s, et al, finds employees who have had enough to eat, who have safe(ish) homes, who can (by hook or by crook) get to and from work, and who are (sort of) healthy and energetic enough to perform their tasks. How?

Because minimum wage workers are making so little – even when they work two full-time minimum wage jobs – that they qualify for public assistance. Because your taxes fund food stamps and housing vouchers and bus passes and Medicaid and an assortment of other programs that do their damnedest to make up the difference between what their pay can afford them and what they actually need to function. Do those government programs always work really well? No! Should there be serious inquiries into how they allocate their money and whether the programs are actually serving the needs of the people they’re supposed to serve while not wasting the money of the taxpayers whose taxes feed those funds? Absolutely yes! But do they work well enough to ensure that McDonald’s doesn’t have to pay their employees better?

Yes. Yes, they do.

Those corporate officers are living the high life on YOUR taxpayer dollar. They can afford to give themselves billions in bonuses because they know that you, the taxpayer, are picking up the tab to keep their employees fed and housed and transported and all the rest. Forget about minimum-wage workers asking for hand-outs; this is already-incredibly-profitable COMPANIES asking for handouts, asking you, the taxpayer, to pay their employees so that those employees can help the companies make an even bigger profit.

We can all, left or right, bleeding-heart or bootstraps-believer, agree that that’s fucking bullshit, can’t we?


SYTYCD XI – Finale!!!

Erica: Okay, for real this time! This is it! We get to watch two hours of dancing/pretending that we don’t already know that Ricky has won!

Kate: If he didn’t, I would give up on this world. (I feel like I say that a lot?)

Erica: Now, this is the night where they pick some of their — and our? — favorite dances to re-dance, so commentary will be somewhat more limited tonight than usual. Also I’m not covering any special performers.

Kate: If you don’t dance, you don’t get comments from us. So THERE!


Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Erica: Fabu.

Kate: I mean, I just love her most when she’s in semi-loose sparkly dresses with her long beachy wavy blonde hair swishing around her shoulders.

Erica: I actually don’t “like” the dress; like, by itself, I wouldn’t pick it up off the rack and go, “Ooooh,” but it looks fantastic on her and her hair looks really great.

Kate: She’s always so tan.

Erica: I do wonder why it’s so much more casual than the finale ensemble normally is.

Kate: Is it? I don’t remember.

Erica: So, like, all the judges that ever have been here are here with us. I’m happy to see Adam Shankman and Debbie Allen — I wish Debbie Allen was around more, and I wish Adam Shankman was choreographing more. Tara Lipinski is also here for reasons I don’t fully understand, and Mrs. Magic Mike is…very pretty.


Top 20 Group Routine – Broadway, choreo by Warren Carlyle

[“Doctor Jazz” from Jelly’s Last Jam]


Kate: Camera making me NAUSEOUS.

Erica: I mean, this is pretty much exactly my thing. A fun, sharp, bouncy, jazzy Broadway routine with everyone in tuxes? Yep, sign me up for that.

Kate: It was pretty great. A lot going on, almost too much, but great.

Erica: They sure are featuring what’s-his-name on camera lot. Rudy. (I had to go look him up.)

Kate: Oh, I thought there was a good amount of focus on Ricky.


Mary Murphy’s Choice: Jessica & Casey – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“Like Real People Do” by Hozier]


Erica: Yeah, I liked this routine a whole lot. Still do.

Kate: Me too, but Casey looked a little wobbly. Jessica was quite lovely.

Erica: It can’t quite capture the magic of the first time because it’s not a surprise this time. Also I’m pretty sure Casey almost dropped her when he swung her over his head.

Kate: Right?!

Erica: Super love this song.


Debbie Allen’s Choice: Ricky & Valerie – Hip-hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix

[“Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake & Li’l Jon]


Erica: Damn these two are good.

Kate: Valerie’s hip-hop face is so cute. Ricky was better at the hip-hop swag this time than the first time.

Erica: I had completely forgotten this routine — which is not surprising; my short-term memory lately has been practically non-existent — but once they were on stage I remembered loving it the first time, and I think it has only gotten better. I wish they wouldn’t do goofy things with the lighting, though.

Kate: I continue to not get the relationship between this song and the doll concept, but whate’er.

Erica: Her costume, too, is maybe my favorite in a while.


Zack’s Choice: Zack & Season 10’s Amy – Contemporary, choreo by Sonya Tayeh

[“Europe After the Rain” by Max Richter]


Kate: I liked the dancing-to-the-sound-of-rain only a little more than last time, but I think they both did very well here. Probably better than the first time.

Erica: Wouldn’t it be funny if one of the top four dancers didn’t pick one of their own dances as a favorite of the season? It would be super-funny if they simply didn’t dance; they just got to watch it. But it would actually be pretty interesting if they then took one of the places in that dance. I think they should require that next year. Also, I think Fox should hire me.

Kate: I love that idea, and I’m not sure why Fox hasn’t paid us to do these blog posts yet. Marketing, people!

Erica: I liked this dance the first time. I still do.


Nigel’s Choice: Rudy & Season 2’s Allison – Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper

[“Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson]


Erica: So, first I thought, oh, great, I missed this one! Then I thought, oh, shit, no Allison? But then they managed to get Allison back from her new “Dancing with the Stars” gig, a popular place for SYTYCD alumni, so that’s great and I didn’t really need to know that they almost didn’t have her and then they did have her and all that, Nigel.

Kate: He definitely has a Thing about DWTS. She is so freaking sharp and FIERCE.

Erica: Yeah, if I had seen this the first time, I would have had stronger positive feelings for Rudy. And…okay, I’d still find Ray Leeper creepy and annoying, but I do like his choreo.

Kate: I just hated all the rando MJ songs from that episode, and I didn’t want to hear them again.

Erica: And Allison is perfection as ever.

Kate: I cannot even.

Erica: So then Paula Abdul, who judges for SYTYCD Australia, is suddenly on stage. I don’t know what’s happening right now. Did she do something to her nose? Anyway, she’s here to introduce the winner of SYTYCD Australia, Michael Dameski.

Kate: Poor Paula. She needs our help.


Michael Dameski’s Solo

[“Unstoppable” by E.S. Posthumous]

Erica: Holy moly.

Kate: They grow good dancers down undah!

Erica: I mean, there were lots of impressive flips and twirls and whatnot, but toward the end, where he pauses to make a sexy face at the camera, but he looks about 12 years old, I kind of started giggling. Remember that scene in The Wedding Singer where all the 13-year-olds are trying to get Drew Barrymore to dance with them? It was like that.

Kate: Yes, but his legs, leaps and turns are quite impressive. I’d like to see him, Ricky and Chehon in a routine together. Look out!

Erica: Also, should one really call oneself “Posthumous”? A little tempting fate there, no?


Valerie’s Choice: Valerie & Zack – Tap, choreo by Anthony Morigerato

[“Sing” by Ed Sheeran]


Kate: I continue to be very concerned about those stairs.

Erica: See, this makes me lose respect for her a little bit. She’s grown a lot as a performer and yet she picks her very first number and the style she came in with.

Kate: Could not agree more.

Erica: I shouldn’t be so hard on her. She’s very young. And she’s probably very tired. Maybe she just wanted something she knew she could handle easily. But Zack picked a contemporary number instead of a tap piece for his favorite.

Kate: She was just much better in many other routines.

Erica: I also think Valerie has lost weight over her time here. Not for good or ill; just an observation. Anyway, they definitely performed this very well. High energy, and no one fell off the steps.

Kate: Ugh those steps!

Erica: And now, a special performance from Les Twins

Kate: Who???


Les Twins

[“Fading Flower” by Yuna]

Erica: It is unclear to me who these two are or what their connection to the show is, but I am super-digging this hip-hoppy, jazzy, performance art-y piece with the two of them. Their bodies are like silly string and their performance is so expressive and fun.

Kate: I know! I, too, haven’t a clue where they came from, but I very much enjoyed the routine. They were very loose and fun.

Erica: Also I like the song so I wanted to make sure I’d remember what it was called or at least have a record of it.


Ricky’s Choice: Jessica & Ricky – Contemporary, choreo by Sonya Tayeh

[“Vow” by Meredith Monk]

Kate: Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Better and sharper and more passionate than the first time? Gorgeous.

Erica: See, I don’t really remember this piece. At all. I like it. And it must have been performed fairly recently, and, you know, I must have written about it and everything. But I don’t remember it at all.

Kate: I do! And I love it even more now!

Erica: Ricky’s feet and Sonya’s foot-centered choreography are really a match made in heaven.


Viewer’s Choice: Carly & Serge – Hip-hop, choreo by Luther Brown

[“Senile” by Young Money feat. Tyga, Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne]


Erica: I only dimly remember this one, too. And…it’s not that good. Voters, what are you thinking?

Kate: Carly continues to be too ballet for hip-hop; her back is just too rigid.

Erica: It is possible that this was better the first time around. This performance looked incredibly phoned in.

Kate: Well, I felt like I could feel both their anger at not being in the finale. I would love to see Jasmine and tWitch do this.

Erica: Like these two, having not made the final whatever, were really willing to go, “Screw it.” And yet they’re getting a standing O. Yeah, right, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, you don’t give those away.

Kate: Hold on, of all the performances this season, THIS won the viewers’ choice? Or perhaps it came in, like, 10th, and the others were already going to be performed because the judges chose them?

Erica: So now, Season 10’s Jasmine, who has been appearing on Degree commercials all season, has brought on Ciara to spout reality show nonsense at the finalists. I’m pretty sure this is either a commercial for Degree, or for Ciara, or what. I don’t know what that was about, really.


Mrs. Magic Mike’s Choice: Tanisha & Rudy – Contemporary, choreo by Sonya Tayeh

[“You Need” by Bengsons]

Kate: Booooo Tanisha.

Erica: Again with the lights.

Kate: I know, it’s like they want to see how many seizures they can bring on.

Erica: I mean, expensive light show, complicated costumes, professional stage, and two chairs they pulled out of the waiting room at the local insurance company?

Kate: Nothing wrong with being resourceful!

Erica: The dance was pretty good. The performance could have been a little better.

Kate: I don’t think I liked it the first time, and I didn’t need to see it again.

Erica: I’m skipping Enrique Iglesias (as fun as that name is to say) and Sean Paul.

Kate: I cannot believe those two are still performing and trying to seem cool. Especially Enrique.


Adam Shankman’s Choice: Zack & Ricky – Hip-hop, choreo by Pharside and Phoenix

[“The Antidote” by District 78]

Erica: Honestly, I feel like everyone is not bringing the same sharpness and energy that they brought to these dances originally.

Kate: Oh, I felt like Ricky, again, was slightly more hip-hop than the first time, and Zack was slightly less? But I did like the first time better.

Erica: I mean, don’t get me wrong. These guys are still pretty awesome. But it looked a little rushed this time, and less sharp than the first time.

Kate: Agree. I love the part at the end where they’re both in semi-lunges and wiggling their hips. So cute.

Erica: I think it’s also worth observing that a pretty high percentage of these choices are featuring top four finalists.

Kate: Well, they are supposedly the best, no?

Erica: And now for some results. Really? Now? The person in fourth place is Zack. I am not surprised. I mean, look, he’s pretty amazing. And then he playfully pushes Ricky, so I guess he knows Ricky is going to win, too.


Tara Lipinski’s Choice: Emilio & Season 10’s Jasmine – Hip-hop, choreo by NappyTabs

[“Get Low” by Dillon Francis & DJ Snake]


Kate: I don’t think I ever much liked Emilio, but I will say that Jasmine looked even better in this than the first time. Does that count for anything?

Erica: So Tara chose one of the ones she was there to judge originally. Is it because a) it was just that good a dance, b) the live experience adds a lot to the enjoyment and appreciation of these performances, or c) she didn’t actually watch any other episode?

Kate: Methinks it might be option C.

Erica: What honestly goes through NappyTabs’ heads? “A king and his pet snake”? Sure, why not. It’s a lot of fun, though. And Jasmine looks super-sexy. Although those pants are sure weird on her hips/crotch.

Kate: I know, and I know, but who cares? I loved her in this. Both times.

Erica: After the break, Jesse Tyler Ferguson walks out and everyone cheers because he is the best forever. He does a laughably terrible job of being the host and tells us not to worry about where Cat is. He also says Travis Wall is his spirit animal and they do a little bit together and it’s adorable. Because these people are adorable. Then there’s footage of some sh!t I don’t even know what we’re watching. Audition montage? Why?

Kate: I like montages!

Erica: “Hey, look at all these people who aren’t here right now. And a couple who are.” What is happening right now? I’m tired. I have to go to sleep at some point tonight. Wait, now it seems to be a whole season recap. Why? Why is all of this happening?


Group Routine – Top 10 & All Stars, choreo by Sonya Tayeh & Christopher Scott

[“Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap]

Erica: So we’re in a train station and everyone seems to have a different story. There’s a fighting couple, a just-meeting couple, a homeless guy…Just a bunch of stuff.

Kate: OH MY GOD.

Erica: I feel like there’s supposed to be some kind of “And we’re all connected, no matter how different we seem” message here, and we know how I loathe messages, but this is a really terrific performance. Totally cool choreography, great performances, very high energy. Just neat.

Kate: This blew me away, truly. I think this is one of my favorite group routines on the show, ever. I loved the concept — it could have gotten really messy with the wrong choreography/dancers, but luckily we had awesomeness of both. It was executed beautifully.

Erica: But doesn’t NappyTabs usually do the Top Ten + All Stars group routine? And by usually, I mean, for the last two seasons? Are we not getting one of those?

Kate: I don’t know that it was a regular thing? I don’t even know what to categorize this dance as because it had hip-hop and contemporary. Let’s make a new genre: Contemporary Hip-Hop?

Erica: After the break, we get the winner of the dance crew competition, which Cat describes as having received a “record” number of votes. Isn’t this the first time you’re doing this competition, Cat? I mean, I guess it’s technically a record but…

Kate: Boring.

Erica: Anyway, the winners are a Bollywood outfit whose name I can’t understand.


Wanted Ashiqz

[“Dhoom Again” from Dhoom 2]

Erica: You know, I don’t know if I can fully appreciate this. I never saw the first Dhoom.

Kate: What the heck is going on here? This is Bollywood?

Erica: Look, I’m not going to say these guys aren’t good. But my favorite part of any Bollywood number is usually the girl’s outfit. There are no girls in this group.

Kate: But there is no shortage of sassy guys. This was good, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the extreme silliness of the main guy and all their faces and sassiness.


Jessica’s Choice: Jessica & Season 6’s Robert – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“When I Go” by Over the Rhine]

Kate: Be still my heart.

Erica: It’s okay to just admit you wanted to dance with Robert again, Jessica. None of the voters will blame you.

Kate: I certainly don’t. I loved this routine before and I love if even more now.

Erica: I knew they were going to do this routine at some point tonight. It breaks my heart. It’s very effective and beautiful and well danced and also I never want to see it again.

Kate: I do, but mostly for Robertttttttttt ❤

Erica: It’s time for more results. Jessica is out. She’s so pretty. I’m not worried about her. By the way, I dig Valerie’s costume right now. It’s like the dance version of that newspaper dress Carrie wore on SATC that one time.


Cat’s Choice: Ricky & Valerie – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“Oh Darling” by Gossling]

Erica: See, and this one I felt was even better than the first time. Valerie really has improved as a dancer.

Kate: I love that Cat gets a choice.

Erica: Also, Travis, you’re breaking my heart. For real. I think you’re breaking Valerie’s heart, too. She looks like she’s about to lose it.

Kate: I don’t remember the first time of this one, but Valerie looked like a contemporary dancer up there for sure. Brilliant.

Erica: Now before we hear Cat announcing that Ricky wins, we are going to look at a montage of Ricky and Valerie dancing. You know, I think they genuinely adore each other. I mean, it’s not surprising. They are both such cheerful, joyous people.

Kate: Hoorah hoorah for Ricky, all is right with the world!!!!

Erica: And then Ricky wins, to no one’s surprise at all except maybe Ricky but come on, dude, and yes, NappyTabs did not do a big group routine and as much as I loved Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott’s routine, I am sad about that.

Kate: How expensive do we think On The Town tickets will be?!

Erica: That’s it from us for this year! Thanks for reading!

Kate: Til next summer, folks!