March 29, 2006

How do you pronounce "Palermo"?

I will be discussing last night's episode of The Amazing Race, including the ending.

This week's installment of TAR was full of some tense moments, but also a lot of things that just frustrated me to no end. I present to you:

The Top 10 Things That Annoyed Me This Week

10. Eric & Jeremy are consistently annoying, and just need to be mentioned thusly.

9. I was mortified to see that Jeremy has my Ireland zipped sweatshirt that I bought at Target, and love to wear. (I tried to find a link to show you, but no luck.) I will just have to assume that he had received it as a gift, because if I focus on the fact that we have the same taste in clothes, I will explode into confetti.

8. BJ & Tyler really need to tone down the mugging for the camera. They have gone from being mildly amusing to mildly irritating. Is it possible to open a clue without a huge flourish?

7. Fran & Barry are annoying me for a reason I can't put my finger on. It might be related to them walking past a clue box continually once again.

6. I was annoyed to see a breakdown from Dave & Lori. I think they're still fine as a couple and all is well, but I hate to see any weakness from my favorite team.

5. I actually was not annoyed with Monica & Joseph at all this week, but it looks like she's going to pitch a hissy fit next week, and that sucks.

4. I'm annoyed that Ray & Yolanda are having such issues with directions lately. They are really one of the only palatable teams left, and they need to get their act in gear. Good call on taking the bell, though. Also, Ray was quite funny at the Roadblock, and I hope to see more of that.

3. Michelle - do a frickin' Roadblock already! When you get to a point that Lake has done 6 and it ends up being a very physical task, you're going to cry and cry, while I laugh and laugh.

2. Once again the Roadblock sucked, this time because they had to assemble a puzzle with 2 extra pieces...which they were not told. The ONLY reason that was done was to create false tension, and to fuck with the racers' minds. I hate that. Watch it, producers - I've got your number. When you make Lori cry unnecessarily, you face my wrath.

1. That damn Yield. This stupid element was added a few seasons ago, and it's just idiotic. It adds a mean-spirited aspect to the game that did not exist before, and is just not necessary. And for the first time in TAR history, it actually determined who was eliminated. I can confidently say that if Lake hadn't decided to Yield the Double D's (and I really don't begrudge him for taking advantage of the opportunity), then it would have ended differently.

Here's hoping next week is a really good one. And that it takes place in a city that doesn't inspire 8 different pronunciations. (Has no one even heard of Sicily before? Palermo is like the only city of significant size there.)

Tonight we return to the evening of a thousand shows to keep up with - Top Model, Lost and Top Chef. All of this while I prepare for my mother's visit. Ack! So I will recap the shows - but perhaps not for a couple days. Stay tuned, faithful readers.

March 28, 2006

Groovy Tunes

Yesterday I was doing my daily commute, listening to my iPod Mini (mine is blue, not pink like the one at right). For some reason I had left off the shuffle function, which is the regular state for me (ScottE cringes at the thought).

So instead of shuffling around, my Mini went in alphabetical order by the artist's first name. And here's pretty much what came up over the course of a day's commute:

  • 10,000 Maniacs (Which I should file under Natalie Merchant, because who can actually name one of the other 9,999?)
  • ABBA (Because an iPod without "Dancing Queen" is a disgrace.)
  • Aimee Mann (For the moody/melancholy times.)
  • Alanis Morissette (Hey, she was extremely cool once.)
  • Alicia Keys (For my inner sistah.)
  • Amy Ray (One half of my favorite group, the Indigo Girls.)
  • The Andrews Sisters (Because I'm 85 years old.)
  • Aretha Franklin ('Nuff said.)
What struck me as I took this aural journey was that I listen to almost entirely female artists. That's not shocking - just an observation. Always have preferred them, reinforced during my Lilith Fair days. And even the male artists or groups that I listen to are still pretty gay-centric - ABBA, George Michael, Marvin Gaye...

As long as I'm sharing, here's a list of the CDs I've purchased recently. These choices may not mark me as the biggest 'mo on Earth, but I'm sure I'd be in the running:

  • Fiona Apple, Extraodinary Machine (Used to be a big fan, this is a return to her good stuff.)
  • Duncan Sheik, White Limousine (My music boyfriend, I devour every moody album he puts out.)
  • Bright Lights, Big City soundtrack (A studio recording for an upcoming off-Broadway show that I think will be awesome.)
  • Once Upon A Mattress original cast album (I admit I saw the TV version recently with Tracey Ullman and Carol Burnett, so I thought it was worth hearing the original.)
  • Anuna, Essential Anuna (I have this thing for Irish music, particularly if it's of the choral variety. This group has fit the bill for me, and a collection seemed in order.)
  • Patty Griffin, Impossible Dream (One of the best female singer/songwriters of our generation to never become a household name.)
I guess there isn't a real point to this post, other than to share what I listen to. What are your favorites? Do you ever come across something in your collection that makes you say, "Wow, I'm into THAT?"

Coming up on TV tonight, the next episode of The Amazing Race, in which we ask the question - when Eric and Jeremy land on the mat first again, which of us can groan the loudest?

March 24, 2006


Trying to catch up on the many movies I missed this Oscar season, I nabbed a couple at the video store, and watched them this week. The title of this post refers to...well I think you'll see why.

First ScottE and I watched Good Night, and Good Luck. There was a lot I liked about it. It's part historical lesson, I love the black and white noirish feel, as well as the claustrophobic "everything inside an office" environment. Some good acting, particularly from David Strathairn and Patricia Clarkson. And it was certainly full of some "Hey, it's that guy!" moments - I liked seeing Alex Borstein of MadTV fame in there. But I didn't walk away thinking it was the best movie of the year by any stretch. ScottE liked it better than Crash, though - so take that as you will.

He would not even deign to watch the other movie with me - Sky High. OK, before you tar and feather me, let me explain that I rented it for two main reasons. 1 - it prominently featured Lynda Carter of Wonder Woman fame. Whom I love. Shut up! 2 - when we were in LA last summer, we happened to be across form the Disney theater as they were starting the premiere of the movie, red carpet and all.

Unsurprisingly however, the movie was not good. In many ways it was just Harry Potter in reverse. The plot was totally predictable from the first 15 minutes. Sure it was fun to see some of the kids having superpowers (the sistah cheerleader that could multiply herself was a hoot). And a few special effects were nice. But mostly this was a movie for 8 - 12 year olds, and I had no business watching it. Even if Lynda Carter was fabulous. (Which she was, of course.)

Next I hope to catch up on some higher-brow fare - Geisha, Prejudice and so forth.

March 23, 2006

Don't get me started

All right, it's time for a wrap-up for Wednesday night TV. I'm warning you now - this contains detailed information on Top Model, Lost and Top Chef.


If you haven't caught the episode for any of these, then don't read this post until you have! Got it? All the kids that don't want to be spoiled are in their rooms? (And yes, I've put the SNU in his room until he watches Top Chef.) Cool - let's roll!

So I began my evening in the fashion trenches of LA, as the girls prepared for their next challenge. This week began their runway training. "Ms. J" directs them, then puts them in heels and they walk. It's a mother-fucking walk-off! OK, not really. Much strutting ensues. And I don't mean attaching brake parts.

Basically we learn that several of these girls really must not wear heels that often. And as a potential model, you'd think they would like...constantly. Whatever - anyway, basically Kari is awful at it, Gina is of course a freak, Danielle has issues.

Next they head off for their first challenge, where they will walk in a fake runway show for this impish guy that does goth-style crap. Once the girls are all made up like the Corpse Bride, it's revealed that they will each walk with a harnessed hissing cockroach. But it's all relevant because the roaches have been BEDAZZLED. I see. So as long as your insect wears jewelry, it's totally couture. Whatever. I (love to) hate this show.

Is it undead or is it Memorex? You decide!

Anywho, this all boils down to Jade showing off that she's fearless by actually kissing her roach on the runway. Meanwhile Gina has a complete freakout including adolescent screaming, and the designer has to push her out on the runway. So of course Jade wins. She gets to take some of the girls with her to a fashion show. *snore*

For the photo shoot, the girls are all going to be dressed as characters from fairy tales, and then will fall onto a mat, caught halfway by the photographer. This strikes me as a very difficult method of modeling. Especially because of some of the outfits! Ultimately Leslie comes off really well as the Big Bad Wolf (sexy version) as does Jade playing Red Riding Hood (slut version).

At judging panel, the girls have to walk in these incredibly huge platform heels, which is just sadistic. Predictably, many of them fall (Kari in particular), and Danielle falls so bad she sprains a toe. Tyra talks about how scared she was for the girls, and I'm like, "Then don't make them do it, ya stupid bitch!" Seriously, that one competition could have ruined Danielle's chances to win, and that's completely unfair.

Ultimately the final two are Kari and Gina. This is no surprise to me at all, because the editors of Top Model have not mastered the fine art of reality foreshadowing. On the one hand, you want to make sure that the eliminated party features prominently in the show, but on the other hand not so much so that it's painfully obvious. In this case it was obvious in the first 5 minutes, so I actually wans't worried for Ms. Sprained Toe. Kari turns on the waterworks for the judges, but it's too little drama too late, and she's gone. If you want to stick around, it's got to be CONSISTENT drama like loopy Gina. Future models take note.

Over in the world of Lost, I was all happy with a show about my favorite character, Sun. First let me say that Yunjin Kim? Is gorgeous. Constantly gorgeous. Like "I might trade teams" gorgeous. I love her 4evah. The plot was predictably heartwarming and about her pregnancy (she is, by the way).

Also on Lost we discover that Henry Gale is even more creepy, and I'm now firmly convinced he is one of the Others. But any suspense about his "trap" was ruined by the ABC promotions department, which totally showed a ton of Sayid (in the hatch) for next week, so let's just say I'm not worried for the Iraqi heartthrob.

And finally, let's all take a moment to admire Jack with no shirt on. It's been far too long since I've seen that, and I humbly request the producers put more of that in the show. In fact, Jack not talking but just walking around shirtless would be a huge improvement. It's quality of life, people.

Now, I haven't really said much about Top Chef, but I have seen all three episodes. For more detailed info on what's happened thus far, check with my friends Brunette or DC Food Blog. But I felt I had to comment on this episode, because of two glaring problems.

And those problems are two GIANT FLAMING ASSHOLES called Stephen and Tiffani.

Now, Stephen has been a jerk from day one. He's a sommelier, and apparently thinks that this allows him to be an uppity pretentious prick whenever he likes. He constantly talks about how fucking great he is, and how much everyone else sucks his big toe. I kind of shrugged him off, but this week he just became too much. I seriously don't know if I can watch him for another minute, unless it's to yell at the screen.

Meanwhile, bisexual Tiffani has been pretty good so far - her food is good, she's got talent, etc. Yet for this challenge she became so fucking self-righteous, I was out of my head. She refused to "pander to children." Well I got news for you, Ms. High And Mighty Won't Compromise My Cooking Ever. You're on a fucking reality show. These shows are never designed to put you in an average situation. It's all about good TV, which means unusual challenges. If you're so freakin' perfect, then maybe you should have just been shopping your resume around instead of auditioning for this show. And yet, I suspect her foul attitude is precisely why she is not already a top chef. I now hate her with a passion. I will probably keep watching just to see her finally get her just desserts when she gets told to pack up her knives. (Lamest tagline ever.)

March 22, 2006

Oh gnome!

Alas poor Desiree, I knew her well.

Last night was a highly disappointing episode of The Amazing Race for a few reasons.

First and foremost was that major confusion on the Autobahn doomed my favorite team to eliminiation. Poor Wanda and Desiree! I shall miss them and their spunkiness. They clearly were victims of killer fatigue, as even the stronger of the two (Desiree) could barely keep up her energy in the Roadblock. Miraculously, they did manage to catch up to the team in front of them at the end, but were just not able to squeeze it out in front of the Double D's. So I guess now all my power will go into rooting for the self-proclaimed nerds, Dave & Lori. Go geeks!

A second major disappointment was the lame-ass product placement Roadblock. OK, we get it - Travelocity is a sponsor (and no, I won't link to their site). But having people search a field for a gnome is dumb, and having them carry it around for the rest of the leg is dumber. I can handle small amounts of product placement if it's at least relevant and fits into the show well (think the Banana Republic challenge on Project Runway). But this just sucked.

And finally we are subjected to the testosterone nimrods (Eric & Jeremy) landing in first place yet again, mostly spurred on by scoring the earliest flight out of Moscow. I really hate them more than I can possibly say - all they talk about on camera is sex and women. Clearly this is massive over-compensation, and they probably are horrible in bed. Henceforth I shall call them the Minutemen.

So this was all a big letdown - I'm hoping the show takes some great resurgence next week. The season began very promising.

Tonight we have the first new episode of Lost in awhile, and I know I'll love it because it focuses on my favorite character, Sun. I expect it will be more of the heartwarming variety, and there are whispers of pregnancy...remember when Claire yelled at her about, "Have you ever had a child of your own?" How much you want to bet that plays out now?

And over on Top Model, the girls will be modeling with cockroaches. No, I don't mean Eric & Jeremy, I mean real insects. This sounds more bizarre than the tarantula shoot in cycle 3.

Also I'll be watching Top Chef, which I thought I might avoid, but is now sucking me in, no thanks to Brunette. Curse you and your addictions!

March 16, 2006

Rewarding the jerks

Here's a quick recap of this week's reality goings-on with The Amazing Race and America's Next Top Model.

This week on TAR, the teams went off to Moscow, where Lake the butthead dentist lamented that it would be cold. In Russia. Yeah, I'm feeling real bad for him.

Anywho, the events leading up to Moscow were uneventful, and lead to the Roadblock, where a team member had to jump off the high dive while wearing swim team gear (that would be a Speedo, folks). That's all pretty uneventful, but I cursed myself for checking out Lake in his banana hammock. Hey, I know he's a jerk, but it doesn't stop me from looking (that's him at far left). Then the diver/jumper needs to go down a couple feet in the water to grab the clue. This is easy for most, but it turns out Mama Wanda has a phobia about swimming. You think maybe this wasn't the best Roadblock for her to choose? Desiree's encouragement doesn't help, but a Russian swim coach eventually does.

Moving onto the Detour, teams have to choose between cleaning a public bus or finding a clue in one of hundreds of Russian nesting dolls. The bus place turns out to be hard to find, so only the lagging teams opt for it - Wanda/Desiree, Dani/Danielle, Dave/Lori and...somebody else, I forget.

You would think teams would have learned from previous seasons that the needle in a haystack Detour is never a good idea, as it leaves too much up to chance. And to make matters worse, in the background are traditional Russian musicians and dancers, who are pretty much there to make noise and crank up the anxiety level a few notches. It's all highly unexciting, capped by Eric/Jeremy getting out first - HATE. They get to the Amazing bathmat to have Phil tell them that the leg is not over - it's the infamous 2-episode leg! So it's all to be continued. I'm just sad that the jerkwads with small equipment down there landed in first place. I loathe them.

Next week - Wanda and Danielle argue. Noooo!!!!

Over in the land of vacuous shallowness, Tyra saw 12 beautiful girls move on to week 2. This time the girls actually do get the makeover, and what I did not know from previous seasons is that the direction each makeover takes is determined by Tyra. So that results in some good changes (Mollie Sue sports a mod haircut like Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby) and some very bad (Sarah has this weird swept up over her head hair thing that she hates).

Next the girls go to a runway show, and are each asked to pick out an outfit that defines their personal style. They are assisted with makeup by Cover Girl spokesmodel Naima from season four, who looks like she would rather get a root canal from Lake than have to shill cosmetics. Most of the outfits are ugly to start with, so no one comes out really well here, but again Nnenna wins the challenge. She gets a huge shopping spree at a high-end boutique, and chooses Gina (how sweet) and Jade (dear God) to join her, as they are her roommates. Apparently in Nigeria they do not have a course in Divas 101, where the first lesson is "Do not reward the woman who thinks she's a diva but is not in fact talented in any way."

Leading up to the main shoot, the house drama involves Jade being a delusional psycho. She basically prances around the house at 3 a.m. in her underwear, telling everyone that she is the shit, and they should worship her. She even goes so far as to try and get Wendy off the phone. Wendy who is talking to her mom, who has just seen their flooded house in New Orleans. Meanwhile Furonda is doing her own diva routine, showing that the hair weave she got has apparently turned on her internal diva switch. Of course she and Jade face off a bit, and it's fabulous. Drama!

The shoot requires the girls to wear next to nothing while writhing around on blocks of ice. Predictably Danielle bitches that it's too cold. Nnenna handles it well, but gets a runny nose, which is totally what would happen to me. At the judging panel the results show that I am not in line with the judges this time. While I thought the real stand-outs were Gina and Joanie, they instead fawned over Nnenna and Danielle. Whatever - judge for yourself. Also, Brooke has ginormous lips to go with her big chin. The judges call her "not conventionally beautiful, but totally model material." Does that translate to, "You're weird looking, but they like that in fashion right now?"

12 beautiful girls stand before Tyra, 11 photos in her hand. It ends up with Wendy and Jade in the bottom two. The basic issue is whether to keep Wendy who is drama-free but distracted by thoughts of her family and personal tragedy, or keep Jade who is nuttier than a fruitcake but gives something to the camera. And they keep Jade. Fucking Jade.

So this is when I realize why I (love to) hate this show. If you want to succeed, you have to play your drama in front of Tyra to the hilt. If you are dull or lacking in drama, then you will go home. That's why we kept around trash like Tiffany in the past, while nice girls got the boot. So lesson learned - if you want to be America's Next Top Model and you lost everything in a natural disaster, you had best bawl about it at every opportunity.

Next week - cockroaches!

March 14, 2006

Life of Leisure

After a stressful few months at work, it was high time I had a little vacation. After all, I've been to Nice and the Isles of Greece, but I've never been to me. (OK, the first part isn't true, but you get the point.)

So I began my extended weekend with one my favorite "me time" activities - going to an art museum. Although it may not be as big and flashy as other museums in the country, the National Gallery of Art has one major thing going for's free! And they usually manage to score some good traveling exhibitions. I still revel in the memory of the Art Nouveau exhibit several years ago.

My main reason for going was to check out the new exhibit called "Cezanne in Provence." It focuses on Cezanne's work when he returned from Paris near the turn of the century. Filled with the urge towards Impressionism that he gained from his friend Seurat, Cezanne painted a lot of landscapes in bright blues, oranges and greens.

The exhibit on the whole was not bad, although nothing to write home about. A few paintings did strike me, like his well-detailed view of a grove of pine trees. But my favorite was a huge portrait of the artist's father. It features a few nice touches. The father sits in a chair, reading a newspaper. But rather than paint him reading his favorite conservative paper (think Washington Times), Cezanne instead changed the title to a liberal paper that his own friends read. Naughty! Also, behind the father was a small still life painting. Remarkably, it was a painting that Cezanne did - and the museum had that painting hanging right next to the portrait. A little connection like that was cool - quite a few people around me were tickled.

Speaking of which, the crowds! I was surprised to see so many on a non-holiday-time Monday. In fact, the Mall was swarming with people. I hung my head, and realized - tourist season has begun. Run for the hills!

In the lower level of the museum, they had an exhibition featuring some of John Audobon's bird paintings. They were extraordinary! Much more interesting than the Cezanne exhibit, actually. The colors and detail were quite striking - particularly for birds like the Flamingo or the Scarlet Ibis. My favorite name though, was of course the Great American Cock. Need I say more?

In the east wing, the museum had an exhibit on Dadaism. How to describe Dada...well let's start with this simple article from Wikipedia. To quote:

"Deliberate irrationality, the rejection of the prevailing standards in art, disillusionment, cynicism, nonsense, chance and randomness characterize Dada."

This all came about as a reaction to World War I.

I'd like to say that the exhibit was shocking, moving, or some other powerful emotion. But it felt like it was so unsurprising in this day and age. I think someone interested in that historical period would find more meaning. For me, I was wishing they had the Egyptian exhibit again.

I ended my afternoon with a jaunt over to Capitol Q to try their barbecue. Watch for a forthcoming review to be posted on ScottE's blog!

Tonight - it's episode 3 for The Amazing Race. Who will be eliminated? My money's on the old and the incompetent. (That would be Fran & Barry.)

March 09, 2006

Don't Cry For Me, Tyra Banks

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have been sucked into the vortex of America's Next Top Model, no thanks to our friend Em. A drunken New Year's marathon got me hooked, so of course I had to catch the sixth cycle premiere last night. I enjoyed it - the show I truly love to hate. At least I have this to get me by in the absence of Project Runway.

This was a two-hour special, starting with the process of whittling down a bevy of marginal beauties to get to the final 13 who will compete and live in a house together. Not much worth reporting here, except that some reality TV stereotypes were enforced, while others were busted. So although we got the token girls who cry due to tragic upbringings (e.g. separated from family by Hurricane Katrina), the token homophobic/racist girl didn't make the final cut (thank goodness, I don't think UPN viewers could handle her for more than a few minutes).

So setting that aside, let's do a quick rundown of your final 13 girls. (Emphasis on "girls" - there are few here that would qualify as "women" in physicality or maturity level.)

Brooke is from Texas, and has already been dubbed as "big chin girl" by Tyra. She is pretty in a very weird way that I can't put my finger on. Her lips are enormous.

Danielle will fill the requisite "tough African-American girl who cries a lot" role this season. She put the smackdown on the homophobe in the first hour, so I have to like her for now. We'll see how long it lasts.

Furonda is conversely the "tough African-American girl who is too tough to cry" designee. She is full of bravado and thinks she's hot shit, but she's really not terribly pretty.

Gina is a freak. Not only is she disturbingly skinny with an unattractive overbite, but she claims to be having an identity crisis. She will neither confirm nor deny her ethnicity (which is Korean-American). And she's a lush who can't hold her liquor. What a mess. Part of me wants her to go quickly, but part of me wants her around to laugh at.

Jade. Fucking Jade. She's the immediate villain with good reason. This 26 year-old basically has the attitude of, "It is a crime against humanity that this GORGEOUS self that I am has not already been America's Next Top Model like years ago because I am SO FABULOUS and everyone should love me because I'm GOD'S GIFT TO FASHION and I am just so GREAT and fucking WORSHIP ME." Yeah, it doesn't make any more sense coming out of her mouth. Attractive? Sure. Drop dead gorgeous? Not even close.

Joanie is interesting to me. On the one hand, she's the party girl/shit-starter in the group. And she's not amazingly beautiful - but she has this quality that's almost haunting. Her eyes are fantastic. I think I like her a lot. Maybe. I need time to be sure.

Kari I instantly don't like. She's generic curly blond, blue eyes, boring as hell. She's 18 but looks like 14. To be crude, she's probably the fantasy of most straight men over 40. I'm hoping she goes real quick.

Kathy is the "fish out of water" mountain girl. She is by no means what this show is looking for, and I was surprised she even made the top 13.

Leslie should be a front-runner for most of the season. She's very pretty, and has that "indistinguishable race" thing going on. But she is also low-drama so far, which does not bode well on Tyra's freakfest.

Mollie Sue is a definitely good-looking redhead, but she comes off as so very bland. I think she's probably more a victim of "too many people to focus on in one premiere episode" issue, and we'll hopefully see more about her next week.

Nnenna is my total pick to win - there is literally no reason not to like her. She comes from a down-on-their-luck Nigerian family. She's got gorgeous African features (no wonder she loves Iman). And she's dignified, regal and not dramatic. If she plays it cool, I think she could do a Naima-like cruise to victory.

Sara is my other early favorite. She was an athelete in college and has no modeling experience, but was tracked down at a mall in Georgetown to be on the show. Judging from how she's behaved the first week, I think the judges will support her throughout. She's quite tall, which is not necessarily a plus in modeling - then again, Grace won the Elle spread on Runway, and she's an Amazonian goddess.

Wendy, dear Wendy. I sort of hate that she's on the show, because it's mostly to fuck with our emotions over Katrina. Wendy lost everything in New Orleans, and is separated from most of her family. She cries...a lot. I just think it's all very gratuitous and inappropriate given the tenor of the show. And frankly Wendy (I am such an asshole for saying this) could use a nose job. There, I said it. I will now be hit by a bus as I walk up 14th Street.

The first challenge was for the girls to participate in a fake press interview with the likes of Janice Dickinson. It was mostly unremarkable except for Jade acting like an asshole, and Gina being a space cadet.

Then the first shoot - all of the girls are put in bald caps, adorned with a Bedazzler, and they pose with a bunch of mannequin heads. Most of the girls handled it well - Danielle and Sara were exceptional (see their pics above). Wendy looked...sad, of course.

The bottom two at the judging panel were Furonda and Kathy. Furonda took a bizarre shot and thought she was awesome. Kathy took a bad shot and doesn't think much at all. The judges ultimately chose Furonda's potential over Kathy's sucktitude, which was the right decision.

Next week - makeovers! (I am really far too invested in this show already.)

No Dao About It

Olympus Fashion Week had a truly fabulous event in the finale for Project Runway, season 2. On the whole, I think the designers all did an admirable job. I would have killed to be sitting in that tent.

But the winner was Chloe, and I told you so!

Chloe opted to show a collection of mostly heavy fabrics in strong bold colors. She had some remarkable tailoring, and a few pieces that made me gasp. I simply adored this chocolate brown pantsuit - so very hot. There were a few too many shrugs used, which is not really a garment I like seeing on women. But overall I think she had a clear and consistent look to her collection of eveningwear. There are a ton of folks out there outraged that she won, but I think it was 100% deserved. I very much want her to go into menswear!

Daniel's collection was a bit here and there. I did like a few pieces, but on the whole it didn't excite me. Tim was right - those big clunky purses were a bad choice. And I can't believe that he would let Rebecca out there in a dress that long. I knew she was going to trip from the moment she stepped out! I'll bet she was holding it up a bit backstage, and so it didn't alarm anyone. Such a shame. But I think 2nd place is very good, and he has a bright future ahead of him. He is universally adored, and apparently Jai Rodriguez wants to date him. Hold out, Danny - you can do better!

Santino overall had a pretty collection - but pretty safe. It was mostly simple flowing dresses. But he had a few that were so bad they made me shriek. What the hell was up with the leather armor getup - is she going off to fight alongside Joan of Arc? At least he finished with his best piece - Heather looked really nice.

If you haven't heard Tim's final podcast, you should - all sorts of fun tidbits behind the scenes. There was drama with receipts again!

You can also see Kara's collection as well (you need Internet Explorer to watch it). Because Fashion Week took place before her elimination episode aired, her collection was presented as a sort of decoy. But I'm glad she did so well - there are a couple really beautiful pieces, and it's clearly her own thing. I think she let herself get too constrained by the challenges in Runway. I do like her, and hope her future is as bright as her layered fabrics.

Such a satisfying finale - I was jumping all over the bedroom, dancing like an idiot. I love this show so much! The best part was when they were asking for contestants to be on season 3 - which means it's coming! I can hardly wait. My hunger for Tim, Heidi, Nina and Michael shall not be quenched until they return.

Stay tuned for my review of the premiere for Top Model!

March 07, 2006

The big Gunn

I love Tim Gunn so very much. He is too-too fabulous. Hope you enjoy this interview.

March 06, 2006

Everybody is a winner?

First, I'll apologize for not having this post up right away - there was a major issue with the Blogger server, blocking access to a host of blogs, including this one. So I hope you were able to be patient, as I know you were just DYING to hear what I had to say.

Overall it was a strange evening. I think Joel Siegel put it best on GMA today - all six of the big categories went to different movies! And as ScottE figured out on his little spreadsheet (cuz we are really that geeky), the biggest winners were at just 3 Oscars each - Crash, King Kong, and Memoirs of a Geisha. Go figure.

There was a lot that was expected - Phillip, Reese, Rachel, Ang Lee. Most of us saw the screenplay winners from a mile away, and for costumes - well, I told you so.

But there were surprises, of course. Crash winning Best Picture - sure it had been mentioned as the dark horse over and over, but I don't think any of us really expected it could happen. It was actually history-making - no film that won the awards from the WGA, DGA and PGA went on to lose the Best Picture category at the Oscars. As EW put it - it's hard out there for a gay cowboy.

Speaking of which, it was kind of fun to see "Pimp" win for Best Song. It's always been a bizarre category, and this just adds to the fun! Heck, even Dolly seemed to be tickled by it. Maybe this means iTunes will finally carry it.

So can we TALK about the wacko choreography during the song from Crash? What the hell was that shit? Debbie Allen isn't working it, so there is no excuse for this...poo. The song itself was all Annie Lennox-meditative, so it would have been far more appropriate for her to just be alone onstage, PERHAPS with some flames behind her. (There's a gay joke there somewhere, but I can't quite get to it.) Of all the performances, Dolly's was by far the best, because it was just her - singing simply and beautifully. She's a class act.

As happened last year, I got to see the short films ahead of time, which got me excited. And then my least favorites won the awards. At least now I know who the far-too-angry guy behind Moon and the Son was.

Here's a rundown of my own awards and raspberries for the evening:

Best acceptance speech - I'd have to say George Clooney. He was funny yet classy, and got in a brief political statement. I've completely caved and become a Clooney fan. You go, George.

Worst acceptance speech - The Moon and the Son guy, because I hate him.

Best attire, male - Actually I'm going with Steve Carell. Although Clooney was classic and Terrence Howard was sleek, I liked the smoky gray tie and perfect hair on Carell. Of course, then he walked on stage with that make-up...

Best attire, female - Several good choices this year, with simple dresses in bright colors taking center-stage - Salma Hayek, Jessica Alba, etc. But my favorite remains Keira Knightley. Great dress, gorgeous jewelry, simple hair. She looked sexy, yet age-appropriate. I suddenly have the urge to pull out my DVD of Bend It Like Beckham.

Best attire, comic - The ties on the Wallace & Gromit guys showed that they love their work and don't take life too seriously. I'm so happy for them!

Best make-up - Although I thought her dress was just OK, Uma Thurman showed great face with her smoky eyes.

Worst make-up - Michelle Williams had a very interesting yellow-orange dress, but it was marred by her too-dark red lipstick. She should have gone with simple lip gloss, or something that was more coral or plum.

Best hair, male - Eric Bana! He's a hot dish all-around, but I actually thought that I wanted his hair on my head.

Best hair, female - Most of the women sported a simple classic 'do. But I think Jennifer Aniston continues to lead the pack on this one.

Worst hair, female - Helena Bonham Carter was a nightmare, which I suppose is appropriate when you're married to Tim Burton.

Worst attire, male and Worst hair, male - A matched set - Tim Burton, hands down.

Worst attire, female - Charlize Theron was bad with that giant shoulder poof, but I did not get that thing Naomi Watts had on. It was like a bad Santino design with too much extra crap on the front. She looked like King Kong had already had his way with her.

Most improved - A tie between Rachel Weisz and Reese Witherspoon. They both looked so fugly at the Globes, but showed up to the Oscars in simple gowns that made them look classy. Maybe they were safe choices, but considering how far they had to come...I'm forgiving.

Best presenter, male - Ludacris is really coming into his own, showing he's equally comfortable in the worlds of music and movies. The fact that I'm liking him now means I'm incredibly hip (but not so much hop).

Best presenter, female - I had so much fun watching Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep together. They captured the Altman style of dialogue perfectly, while just having a good time. Casting directors - get a script for these two!

Best host - OK, so there was only one host, but I think Jon Stewart did a fine job. He was not too out there (Dave Letterman), but also not too serious. Sure, every joke wasn't a hit, but a few zingers really hit home (like the crack about the montages). I'd like to see him host again - I think he'd make a great Emmy host (if Ellen isn't available).

As for my predictions, I did better than usual! Normally I shoot about 50%, but this year I got 15 out of 24. In the future if I just pick what I think are the worst short films and the biggest blockbusters (for the technical categories), I could do a lot better. So, no win for me in Sterfanie's contest, but it was an honor just being nominated.

So what did you all think? Post your commentary here!

March 05, 2006

Boobs and a badger

So today I had the privilege of enjoying an afternoon of Oscar-nominated shorts alongside Sterfanie (not to mention Onyah and her clan). This is the second annual free program offered at the National Archives. It's definitely a blessing to be in DC and have this opportunity! The SNU and I went last year and had a blast.

Here's a quick recap/review of what we saw. But first a correction - in my previous post with my Oscar selections, I picked Die Ausreisser, but accidentally described to you the plot of another film in the category - Six Shooter. So I did mean to in fact pick the German film, but I was doing it from memory, and blah-de-blah, I'm sure you could care less...

Live Action Short Films

Cashback - This was a British film that felt like two movies in one. At first we're watching a comic piece on how grocery store workers burn time on the graveyard shift. But then it breaks into the lead character's obsession with the female form - the NAKED female form. He imagines that he pauses time and undresses all the women in the store. Basically at this point it's boobies, ass and va-jay-jay everywhere! LOTS of it! And as Sterfanie pointed out, all the women were gorgeous and had Brazilian waxes. So I guess if you like the comic/soft core porn genre, then this film would be for you.

Our Time Is Up - This is a simple comic film - Kevin Pollak plays an uptight psychologist, who never really cures his patients - just tells them "it takes time." But when he finds out he has six weeks to live, he starts getting all Dr. Phil on their asses, telling them like it is. To the man who just can't get into a bed with a woman, Pollak responds, "Hey, this is homosexuality calling - it's FOR YOU." A great film, which gets bonus points because it features Jorge Garcia of Lost!

The Last Farm - This is in the moody/depressing Scandanavian genre. A very old man in Iceland continues to work on his farm, as his daughter prepares to move her parents into a nursing home. But before she can, the man buries his wife (who was apparently dead for a few days), and himself...alive. Beautiful landscapes, VERY sad. If the Academy goes the sentimental route, this will be the winner.

Six Shooter - A hard to explain Irish film, this one is full of death, death, death. And a lowbrow moment where a cow explodes because it's too bloated with gas. Seriously! Bizarre, doesn't quite work. (This is the one about strangers on a train.)

Die Ausreisser (The Runaway) - What this film is actually about is an architect that contends with a mysterious child who keeps following him around and calling him, "Daddy." Just in case you see this, I won't reveal the plot twist. But this one really had it all - a little emotion, a little suspense, a little humor. I standby this being my pick for the winner!

Animated Shorts

The Moon and the Son - This was another one that tried to be two films in one. First, it's the animator's attempt to expunge the anger he holds for his deceased father. Then, it's the father's ENTIRE lifestory. Animated "shorts" should not be 40 minutes long! Especially if they kind of suck! It also bothered me that there were so many types of animation thrown into one piece. Hated it.

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello - While I admire the clockwork and shadow puppet type animation, the plot was really bad. Sterfanie said it was like H.G. Wells meets Aliens. It really was not enjoyable, and yet I find myself drawn to this website. Kidding! But I do have to admire a film that uses the term "Piscean pile of carnage" without laughing.

Badgered - I loved this one - it has simple animation, and a simple plot. A badger tries to sleep but is bothered by squawking birds. Solution? A set of rocket missles that just happened to be deposited in his hill. Seriously funny and smart - it reminded me of my favorite last year, Guard Dog.

9 - I picked this beforehand, and again, I'm not changing my vote. It features great 3-D animation and an interesting plot. In a futuristic world, a small ragdoll creature must outwit a dangerous skull creature to release the spirits of his fallen comrades. Hard to describe, but it was awesome!

One Man Band - The obligatory entry from Pixar Studios, this one was great - better than the one last year. To sum it up - even if you're a poor guy who's a one man band, don't fuck with the little girl holding a coin.

Tomorrow's the night - don't miss it!

March 03, 2006

Lay off, Isaac!

Well at least she's finally talking about this. Isaac's whole routine was both apalling and hilarious at the same time. I secretly can't wait to see what stars he offends on Sunday.

Wednesday wrap-up

OK, two quick shows to cover - last night we (finally) had a new episode of Lost, and then the first part of the Project Runway finale.

Lost was freaking me out! All sorts of exciting revelations about Claire, the Others, and many more mysteries. I love how they stepped out of the box by having all the flashbacks be events that took place on the island. So creepy. I think the big question is what Ethan really was injecting Claire with - was it an vaccine? Or something to "enhance" the unborn child that they were planning to steal? DAMN this show is good. If you're not watching it, you need to put your entire life on hold and go rent season 1. Then you can watch reruns of season 2 all summer!

Over on the Runway, the designers went home to "make it work." I was a bit worried how little Chloe was doing, and was actually impressed Santino made something attractive. All around I found it exciting - seeing the last minute details before showing a collection (like model selection, planning hair and make-up, etc.) was cool to me. But this "last challenge" is a doozy. Santino does not look like he can handle it. Danny of course chose Nick, because despite the suit thing, we know that he can sew well. Chloe stole my heart for choosing Diana. It means I get to see my science geek a bit longer (and we do know that she can sew well despite other eccentricities).

Can hardly wait for the big showtime! I'm standing by my predictions which I've said to friends - I'll publish them here. Something disastrous is going to happen to either Danny or Chloe, and that person will come in third. Santino will land solidly in second - he will be very creative, but will go too far as usual. I'm placing my money on Chloe to win - I think she's been set-up through editing all season that way (although I admit on first glance I prefer Daniel's outfits - we'll see once they're all on models).

So what do you think? Who will win and why? Place your bets now!

Hooray for Hollywood

And so it is time for me to display for all to see my official Oscar predictions!

I will give the caveat that I'm generally only righ 50% of the time. I tend to do well in most of the artistic categories, and most of the "big ones." I have hideous luck with the shorts and documentaries, even when I've seen them first, as I did last year at the National Archives. (I'm going this year, too - but it's not until Saturday.)

I'm sorry for the length of this post, but I wanted to at least give a brief explanation for each. My choices come from several influences, including the Globes and other award shows, Entertainment Weekly (my bible), and my own experience seeing a good portion of the nominees.

Picture - Brokeback Mountain

This is the most talked about film of the year, and with good reason. I would actually venture to say this is the one guaranteed win for Brokeback.

Director - Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain

There is so much good that can be attributed to Lee's direction, that I think he'll win. He's also won every major director's prize this year.

Actor - Philip Seymour Hoffman

As I said before, it's a race between Philip and Heath. Ultimately I think the Academy will award the flashier role, and all the buzz lately is about Philip anyway. Either way I'll be happy.

Actress - Felicity Huffman

This is the category I'll peg as one I'm likely to be wrong in. All the buzz is on Reese, and she was indeed fabulous. But my gut (and my hope) is that the Academy will go with the "you're pretty but played 'ugly' so you should win" card and give it to Felicity.

Supporting Actor - George Clooney

This could be wide open, but I'm going to go on EW's guess that this will be a sort of "consolation prize," as Clooney will lose for Director and Screenplay. If William Hurt wins, I will dance naked around a maypole.

Supporting Actress - Rachel Weisz

So many great choices here - I think Michelle Williams winning would be amazing, although she might break down at the podium. But Weisz really commanded her role, has buzz all over the place, and will be getting an award for her strong previous work as well.

Visual Effects - Chronicles of Narnia

Lots of big effect films this year, but I'm betting on the Lord of the Rings-type challenges in animating fantasy creatures like centaurs will win out.

Original Screenplay - Crash

If this wonderful film only wins one award, this will be it. It's complex twists and turns coupled with complex subject matter makes it a winner all around.

Adapted Screenplay - Brokeback Mountain

No contest - turning a sparse short story into a feature film is a Herculean feat.

Makeup - Chronicles of Narnia

Again, my gut says that the complex makeup (and hair) used for minotaurs and Tilda Swinton will win out.

Art Direction - Memoirs of a Geisha

When it comes to the "artsy" categories, the Academy loves period films and films set in faraway places. Geisha will see awards rain down like lotus petals.

Original Score - Brokeback Mountain

This is a very tough one. I mean, John Williams is in there, and he like NEVER loses. But the soft and moving score for Brokeback could charm voters enough.

Original Song - "Travelin' Thru," Transamerica

Also a challenge. I think this is a potential consolation prize if Felicity loses. And who doesn't love Dolly Parton?

Live Action Short Film - Ausreisser

I'm just relying on the EW descriptions for the shorts. This one is about a potentially threatening stranger on a train, which is very Hitchcockian, wins.

Animated Short - 9

Something David & Goliath-like - sounds like a winner.

Animated Feature - Wallace and Gromit

This is easy - a truly great movie, which features painstaking plasticine animation.

Sound Editing - King Kong

I once heard that this category always goes to the loudest movie. 'Nuff said.

Sound Mixing - Walk the Line

This one is more about sound complexity, and I think that movies with a lot of musical numbers have an edge.

Film Editing - Crash

Pulling together all the strands of this movie had to be a tough job, so I think the editors will be rewarded.

Cinematography - Brokeback Mountain

If there's one thing this film deserves the most, this is it. Lush landscapes lit made Wyoming (or actually Alberta) look like paradise.

Foreign Language Film - Tsotsi

I hear very good things about this South African feature, and the name is just kinda cool.

Documentary Feature - March of the Penguins

This is the one of the two I've seen, and although I love Ballroom (and hear Murderball is excellent), Penguins was a phenomenon this summer, so I think it wins hands down. (And I think it's kind of awesome that this category has become so contentious in the last couple years.)

Documentary Short - God Sleeps in Rwanda

It's all about using Rwanda - such a touchpoint now thanks to a certain other film that took place there last year.

Costume Design - Memoirs of a Geisha

Artsy category + period costumes X a foreign land = winner.

So who do YOU think will win? If you haven't already, enter Sterfanie's contest! And I'd love to hear some of your predictions here as well. Good luck!

March 01, 2006

Last one to the Southern hemisphere is a rotten egg!

Well as Sterfanie predicted, it's time for me to talk about the best reality show on TV - The Amazing Race returns!!! And it looks like with season 9 we are back to "normal" which is such a relief. I'm sure that my fellow fans (including Neal and Other Rebecca) are excited.

All in all, a good premiere. I like that they stayed in one city, as it meant less long-distance travel, and that allows us more time to get to know the teams well. It was also two hours, which helps. This week we began in Sao Paulo, Brazil, which is the largest city in South America - and the 3rd largest in the world!

So far our teams seem to represent the usual cast of characters, but there are a few surprises that I like. So I give you DancerInDC's Snap Judgements After 1 Episode!

Lake & Michelle - Here we have the all-too-frequent married couple where the husband is "intense" which is reality TV-speak for "asshole-ish." Despite the early drama from these two, I chuckled a little when you could see they both were wearing motion sickness patches behind their ears, many hours after their plane ride. Losers!

Danielle & Dani - These would be the bimbo pair of girls we get each season. Clearly they're not that bright, and will be relying on their sex appeal to get far. And they will, which...HATE. I would like to point out that I actually called them "Team Double D" before the episode aired, although I was thinking of it more in relation to their giant bazooms.

BJ & Tyler - I kind of like these guys, as they're a bit different for this show. They are of the Phish concert-granola-Seattle coffee crowd. They also did quite well, landing in second. So for now I like them, but I can see how they might grate on my nerves after awhile.

Ray & Yolanda - An althletic and actually intense dating couple, I so far like them. What I worry about is a jealousy streak from him - he seemed at times like he was going to punch out all the guys whistling at his girl in front of the motorcycle shop. He probably should have just said something and stopped glowering.

John & Scott - The gay non-sexual life partners were Philiminated, and I'd say with good reason. They were too full of indecision, and this game really penalizes you for that. I'm sure they're nice, and I wouldn't mind meeting them. But TAR was not the show for them.

David & Lori - This couple is a real breath of fresh air for this show. They are a dating couple that actually like each other, and they are "normal." Normal in the sense that they aren't model-skinny/pretty, have actual intellignece, and a noticeable sense of humor. They remind me of dozens of friends I've had in my life, and I bet represent 50% of the viewership for this show. Here's hoping they go all the way to the final 3!

Eric & Jeremy - Our standard vacuous pretty-boy friends. I instantly hate them because they are so...heterosexual. I don't mean that as a slam on my straight friends, it's just that they are macho just for the sake of being so. And that's tired. Of course they'll be around forever, drooling over the Double-D's. Ugh.

Fran & Barry - The old couple who are representing their generation very poorly. I screamed at the TV for them to be eliminated for walking past a clue box over and over for a long time. Have you not WATCHED the show? Do you not know what a clue box LOOKS LIKE? For the love...

Lisa & Joni - HATE. Sorry to be so strong right away, but women (or men, I suppose) who shriek at just about anything just because is so annoying, and I got enough of that in past seasons. At least the Bowling Moms in season 5 were decent racers. I'm hoping these two are gone next week.

Monica & Joseph - The couple who dubs themselves with a nickname before the show starts and picks a dumb name is dead to me. "Team Mojo," indeed. Bah. They'll be toast in a few weeks.

Wanda & Desiree - Yay for my favorite pair! It's been since season 2 that we had a mother-daughter team, and I really like these two. They work well together, but don't fall too strongly into child-parent roles. They are in good shape, and used their language skills effectively. I think a 3rd place finish the first week is a good indicator, and my hope is that they will be the team to take it all. Go Puerto Ricans!!!

I hope you all will give this show a chance - it's really returned to what makes it great, and I think you'll enjoy it.

In other news, I have to start watching my new addiction that was pushed on me by Em a few months ago. The sixth cycle of America's Next Top Model premieres next Wednesday. Work it!