June 02, 2008

Your Mama Don't Dance (Unless It's On TV) Ugh, I need time to watch TV. I really do. My heart lies with Battlestar Galactica, Lost, 30 Rock, The Soup and The Office. Eventually (by which I mean in the next few years), I plan to catch up on Friday Night Lights, The Riches, Mad Men, Damages and The Wire. And there are more shows after that, too. However, in between catching glimpses of The Dog Whisperer, Degrassi, and Groomer Has It at the gym, I haven't had the chance to discover anything new. And yet, after seeing a clip of Your Mama Don't Dance on The Soup, I wasn't entirely convinced that the show was not a joke. Naturally, I DVR'd the remaining season and was horrified/delighted to learn that the show is, in fact, real. It's a cheesy, low-budget basic cable ripoff of an already cheesy, low-budget big network smash, Dancing With The Stars (and Mama's host, Ian Ziering, comes directly off a stint on Stars, not coincidentally). I have long worshiped the cultural practice of Mom Dancing. There really is nothing better than attending a formal event and witnessing hordes of middle-aged women in floral blouses and beige slacks take to the floor to awkwardly shuffle, twist and turn through every volume of Jock Jams. Heck, it doesn't matter if it's The Bee Gees or The Black Eyed Peas - if there's a rhythmic pattern a Mom can defy with unsynchronized arm gestures and blind confidence, she's on it like white on rice. My favorite team, Jesse and Rebecca (the former specializing in "street moves," the latter specializing in "watching Jesse"). As if that weren't enough, Mama also includes downright silliness in its Father-Daughter competitors. Although there are plenty of vaguely sexual interludes, this clip of Noel and Doug is so earnest that its weirdness is almost sweet. Almost (the faux fauxhawks are a bit much). While many would argue that The Moment Of Truth has redefined the lowest common denominator in television programming, I think that Your Mama Don't Dance ups the ante. It's one thing for Steve Gutenberg to flaunt his D-list status by reminding the public that he exists, dancing skills be damned. But it's something else entirely when ordinary Americans, whose children dream of appearing in the national tour of Mamma Mia, agree to be dragged onto national TV to physically demolish a karaoke version of "Grease Is The Word." P.S. How could I not love a show whose role of top judge is filled by the unflappable Ben Vereen (I say "unflappable" because anyone who voluntarily appears on television in a collarless tweed and isn't a Muppet is not someone you want to meet in a dark alley)? His nods to Bob Fosse and usage of the word "musicality" when describing the clunky footwork of the contestants are brilliant, and if he doesn't get to publicly dust off those white evening gloves from Pippin during the show's finale, I might just be forced to blow up Lifetime HQ. Check out more videos from Your Mama Don't Dance at Lifetime.
If I Could Talk To The Animals Every now and then, a Web Site surfaces that goes inexplicably overlooked by the tastemakers of Internet culture - the Kottkes, Filmoculouses, and Metafilters. Somehow, a worthy phenomenon manages to escape the cybermasses hungry for content weird and wild. But not today. Ladies and gentlemen, I eagerly introduce to you Ms. Cynthia Fellowes. How I came across her, I do not remember. But to navigate her site is to navigate the tragic journey of the human spirit, an exodus that will leave you feeling anything but unfulfilled (seriously, you can't go wrong on a site whose homepage looks like Lillian Vernon's bathroom on an acid trip). For starters, a traditional mouse won't do for Cynthia Fellowes, whose site comes replete with a butterfly that accompanies your scrolling arrow. Perhaps the allusion to animals is intentional for a reason besides the fact that she is quite obviously all about "spirituality" (in, of course, the most accessible, consumer-friendly form - think Loreenna McKennitt, semi-sheer scarves, and a bumper sticker that reads, "Just Breathe"). Fellowes, as it turns out, is an "animal communicator," which means she speaks to animals both alive and dead, relaying their emotions to the public. So when Fido is caught eating his own feces, Cynthia Fellowes will be able to translate to you just exactly what he's trying to say. In fact, she's been on television and radio and is even available for private parties and corporate events. Guinea pig seance, you guys? But the fun doesn't stop there. Cynthia Fellowes is also a prosperity coach! And an eBay merchant. And an actress. (In fact, if her face looks familiar, you probably saw the Off-Off Broadway production of I'm Zsa Zsa, in which Cynthia played the role of "Ann.") This is why I love the Internet: if you need an unbiased review on a restaurant, you go to Yelp. If you need to find vintage footage, you go to YouTube. If you're looking for someone to sell you dishtowels while simultaneously teaching you how to save money, all before helping you understand why your Welsh Corgi feels taken for granted, you go to Cynthia Fellowes (and, if you're lucky, she may even throw in a monologue from Steel Magnolias [seriously, Southern accents are her specialty according to her resume]). Below, enjoy my friend Dave Hill's amazing interview with Fellowes:

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