August 29, 2006

History lesson

I fully admit to not being a history person. It was a subject I avoided as much as I could in high school, and steered completely clear of in college. And when I play Trivial Pursuit, my friends know that the final question for the win to give me should be yellow, since I'll likely get it wrong. (Sure, I'm not good at the Sports questions either, but there's at least a 10% chance there you get something about games or drinking.)

So imagine my surprise at how much I enjoyed and devoured Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation.

I picked up the book from QPB, but I think at the time I thought it was fiction or something. It's actually a non-fiction examination of the first three presidential assassinations - Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley. The author travels the country visiting historical sites related to those events.

What's wonderful is Vowell's ability to paint a picture as if the events happened today. You hear all the crazy personalities involved, and how unbelieveable some of the events actually were. Take for example Robert Todd Lincoln, who was a bizarre harbinger of death. He attended the bed of his dying father, then was near Garfield when he was shot, and later found out McKinley had been shot in Buffalo mere moments before Lincoln had stepped off the train in that city!

Vowell's sarcastic style is great fun, but I'll warn my readers that she has a pretty sharp anti-Bush bent, so she won't be everyone's cup of tea.

Fun trivia fact - Vowell (a frequent NPR contributor) provided the voice for Violet, the daughter in The Incredibles. In fact, on the DVD there is a nifty extra where she does a video essay which in part shows her writing Vacation.

A great, quick read - A-!

August 28, 2006

Everything old is still old again

Yes, the Emmys were on last night. No, I didn't watch them.

Maybe it was out of protest for the snubbing of Lost in all major categories. Or the fact that we had better plans (a preview of Shakespeare Theatre's production of Ibsen's An Enemy of the People - an incendiary winner). But most likely it was because I knew that the Emmys would do what they have always done and fall back on awarding the same old people.

And indeed they did. I mean, I love Megan Mullally as much as the next person, but are they honestly saying she was better than Jaime Pressly? How many times can Mariska Hargitay really win? And is it any surprise that the Oscars win for Directing of a Variety Program every year?

Plus I have every right to be bitter that Chandra Wilson was denied a trophy!

Still, the stupid new nomination process at least helped a few newcomers get up to the podium. Even though I've never seen Entourage, there's no denying that Jeremy Piven is a stud and deserving of a trophy. And isn't it nice that Julia Louis-Dreyfuss has reclaimed some of the post-Seinfeld spotlight (in a good way)?

I am sad I missed a couple choice moments. I understand that Conan O'Brien's opening montage was killer. And seeing all three original Charlie's Angels on stage would have been nice (I was always a Sabrina man, myself - love ya, Kate Jackson!).

Lest you think I'm completely bitter, I'd like to give it up to two bright spots I saw in the awards. So here's to Leslie Jordan, who finally earned his due for years of playing Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace! And there's no denying the excellence of The Amazing Race when it walks away with the trophy once again. (Although I'm ready for those statuettes to start going to Project Runway now, thank you very much.)

In fact, I think it's time I started giving out my OWN awards. Because we all know that my opinion has to be better than an auditorium of industry types, right? After all, I am the audience! I am everyman!

So may I present the winners of the first annual Footsie Awards for Television! Winners may email me for information on how to receive their trophys (which are shaped like an ankle sock in the finest 8k gold plate). I won't cover every category the Emmys do, because contrary to popular belief, I don't really watch all that much TV.

Best Drama - Lost

It's inventive, it has a dynamic cast, and it's appointment TV.

Best Actor in a Drama - Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Although it's tough to pick out one man in such a strong cast, I really loved his performance as Eko the most.

Best Actress in a Drama - Yunjin Kim

All the women are great on Lost, but y'all know I love me some Sun. Remember the hug at the end of the pregnancy episode? Priceless. (Honorable mention to Geena Davis, by the way.)

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama - Michael Emerson

C'mon, there is no denying that not-Henry was super-creepy.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama - Chandra Wilson

I can sum it up in one word - "vajay-jay."

Best Comedy - Arrested Development

Dead before it's time - that's for sure.

Best Actor in a Comedy - Jason Bateman

Again, a strong ensemble cast, but Jason is just so adorable.

Best Actress in a Comedy - Jessica Walter

Lucille Bluth is an amazing character creation.

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy - Will Arnett

I have to give props to a man that played every scene to the hilt - Gob is a real larger-than-life character.

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy - Jaime Pressly

I don't watch My Name Is Earl regularly, but whenever I do, she is the best part and always makes me laugh - hard.

Best Variety Program - The Soup

Yes, I could extoll the humor of The Daily Show. But the place where I get the news I really care about is on E!

Best Competitve Reality Program - Project Runway

As much as I love my TAR, its quality has declined a bit, while Runway just keeps getting better. It's professionally done and always exciting.

Best Non-Competitve Reality Program - What Not to Wear

Although I've recently been taken with Mike Rowe on Dirty Jobs, I find that I find WNTW to be enjoyable every time, even if the lessons don't change all that much. Clinton and Stacy are my friends!

August 25, 2006

Family affair

Just when I think that Project Runway can't get any better or more exciting, they bust out with a show like the one this week! I predicted maternity wear, but this was way better.

When we last left our designers, they were full of weepy good-byes for Alison. Well, when not chastising Vincent, that is. Jeff interviews that Alison was his best friend, and he misses her terribly. The fact that she could manage to befriend Jeff really speaks to what a good person she was.

At the runway, Heidi tells the designers that this week they will be designing for the everyday woman. But first! Let's bring out your models. The silhouette behind the screen is a larger woman, certainly not one of the frail models they usually have. At that moment I thought, "Women who aren't model-skinny! Perfect!" But it's better - as the women start to come out, we hear Angela shriek, "Mom!" And that's when I realize that these are loved ones of the designers. AWESOME. While much waving and weeping takes place, Heidi asks the ladies to introduce themselves. They are all mothers, with the exception of Robert and Vincent's sisters. The women range in age, size and shape, so this should be fun. But first! Heidi announces that they can not design for their own loved one! An interesting (and will prove fateful) twist.

Last week's winner Michael gets to go first, and he opts for the safe route, taking Robert's sister, who although short is still slender. And then in no particular order, Uli takes Kayne's mom, Kayne takes Michael's mom, Angela takes Laura's mom, Laura takes Jeff's mom, Vincent takes Uli's mom and Robert takes Vincent's sister. So that leaves Jeff with (oh, karmic payback is a bitch) Angela's mom! Delicious.

Off to the workroom, where everyone gets to embrace their loved ones. Uli mentions that she hasn't seen her (German) mother in years - awww! That is really super that she got the chance to see her lovely mom. Tim then comes in to tell all of them it's time for a field trip. And where do they end up? Tavern on the Green for an al fresco brunch, hosted by Michael Kors. And his mom! It's funny and a bit freaky - he looks so much like her. She's basically the drag version of him with big orange sunglasses.

As they all sit down to enjoy brunch, we get the best part of the show - the loved ones brought old pictures of the designers! First we see a dapper young Michael Kors who looks almost the same. This is followed by an "awww" picture of the other Michael in a striped polo shirt for a school picture. Cute! But the topper is Jeff as a geeky teenager - braces, bleached hair and all. Hilarious!

And then the moment of drama - during a chat between Tim, Laura and her mother, Tim mentions that Laura is quite a woman to be doing this as a mother of five. Laura casually says, "and soon six." WHAT? Mom is floored. Apparently Laura hasn't told anyone - she just found out yesterday that she's pregnant. She hasn't even told her husband yet! You can tell that Mom is certainly happy for her, but taken aback to be ambushed on camera in this way. "Gobsmacked" is the only word that really fits here. Then Laura interviews (with the best line of the season), "I figure once you have five kids, another is no big deal. I'll just throw it on the pile with the other ones." HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

Also during this time, Jeff's mom reveals that he is a recovering alcoholic. She is so proud of him and the progress he's made. Now, less you think I'm a cold-hearted bastard, I absolutely applaud that. It's great he's rebuilt his life, and it's great his mom is so supportive. That being said, he doesn't get any special treatment from me for acting like an a-hole. Oops - sorry! Spoiler. Oh, and Kayne used to be a real porker. Congrats on the weight loss; I suppose someone could say that he grew into his looks.

No doubt drunk on mimosas, it's time to return to the workroom. The designers get a little caucus time with their clients. Kayne loves the rhinestones Michael's mom (Pamela) is sporting and plans to use some in his design. What a pageant queen. Robert feels a little constrained that Vincent's sis (Patricia) really wants to stick with black and red. Laura is interested in the fact that Jeff's mom (Pam) likes to travel and go on cruises, so is planning a nautical theme. But the real challenge is between Jeff and Angela's mom (Darlene). She expresses some colors that she likes and the fact that she prefers to remain more covered. But they just can't seem to agree on a design concept. Everyone in the room can sense tension already. Tim informs the designers that once again they will only have one day to complete their designs.

Off to Mood, where fabric shopping happens. Jeff says that Darlene expressed an interest in colors like dark purple and dark green. He doesn't find a dark green that works, so he picks...periwinkle. Yep, because that's so much like dark green. Whatever.

Back in the workroom, it's time for - you guessed it - F1! Robert just stares at his dress form, unsure of what to do. Clearly he and other designers are unsure how to proceed with a plus-sized design. You can't exactly put it on a size 2 dress form and tailor it to a 14. Don't they make adjustable forms? I swear I've seen them. Maybe that's just not in the budget for Parsons. Jeff is just going with a concept he thinks will work, and makes various comments about Darlene that are too rude to quote here. He is being a complete jerkwad.

Later in the day, Tim wants to bring in the clients to check in with the designers. This goes pretty well all around - Uli is explaining how her choices will flatter Kayne's mom (Judy). Michael tells Robert's sis (Teresa) that his dress will be reversable. Wow! Talk about ambitious. Vincent asks Uli's mom (Heidi) if she likes the look, and clearly she can't understand him very well, so she just says, "Ja!" So cute.

But all is not well at Jeff's table. Darlene's just not seeing the design, and after some bickering, he leaves. Tim then shows up and asks her what's going on. She explains that the colors don't match what she had asked for at all, and she doesn't feel she's being listened to. Just at this moment, Jeff comes back. Tim fills him in on what's been said. But Jeff (being the ass he is) somehow decides that Darlene has embarassed him in front of Tim, and betrayed him or some other crap. He is then unbelieveably rude to her, basically flipping her the proverbial bird and saying he's going to do what he's going to do, and hopefully she'll like it. She leaves in tears. IN TEARS! For fuck's sake - this is someone's MOTHER, Jeff. And it's not like she's some horrible Mommie Dearest - she's a sweet and gentle midwestern mom. You would be APALLED if someone treated your mom like that. ASS! If I was ever on a show like this, I wouldn't even consider having my own mom subjected to this - the thought that she could end up with someone like Jeff is too horrible to consider.

Darlene goes to the lounge, and Angela arrives to hear the backstory and comfort her, like any good daughter would. Pam then arrives and tries her best to smooth things over. I admire her trying her best, but I think even she knows he stepped over the line. Pam goes back to Jeff a bit teary herself, I think because she's afraid his stubbornness is going to get him eliminated. We can only hope.

Later in the sewing room, Angela bickers with Jeff over how awful he was. He continues to stand his ground. He is seriously so distasteful right now.

The next morning, the designers have a bit more F1 time before the show. Uli off-handedly says to Michael, "What if you won for a third time in a row?" He doesn't even want to talk about it, for fear of jinxing his chances. (This is where I wondered if they showed the scene of him calling his mom 2 weeks ago as foreshadowing for this week's mom & sis challenge?)

Tim brings in the model mothers and sisters to get fitted. As Darlene goes behind a screen to get dressed with her daughter, Angela quietly counsels her to be honest on the runway - "If you don't like it, just say so." Jeff can totally hear them, I think. Off to hair and makeup, and you can tell this is part the moms are just loving. It's like having a mini-makeover!

At the runway, Heidi Klum-Seal introduces the judges, which we already know are Michael Kors, his mom, and Nina. On with the show!

Uli has of course favored using a print. The top is a loose top in a sheer earth-tone paisley. The border at the collar and sleeves is larger and in stripes. Beneath that is a simple orchid tank, and the pants are straight-legged in a golden tan color. She's added an accessory of a long over-sized necklace. It sounds like a bit much, but the overall effect definitely disguises Judy's frame which is a bit larger (she's also a bit short). It's a bit retro, a bit chic, and very Uli. Judy obviously passed on some theatrical genes to Kayne, because she really struts and preens. I love this look!

Vincent's dress for Heidi is pretty simple - a sleek black sleveless dress. There is a faux belt that is attached on one side and attaches at the navel. And the collar is over-sized in off-white. What's a bit odd is the collar doesn't go all the way around - it's only on the front of the garment. It's nothing special, but it's not horrible. When they show it close-up, it definitely looks better.

Michael's design for Teresa is a simple coat-dress that ties at the waist. It's black, but the reverse is black with big white paisley. The way he's constructed it, you see the paisley a bit at the sleeves and the collar, and where it opens slightly in front near the hem. Also the belt is showing just the paisley. It's simple and smart. I admit he had less of a challenge because of Teresa's tiny shape, but the reverseable garment was a challenge in of itself - love!

Laura has put Pam in a high-waisted form-fitting skirt in light blue, with large nautical-type buttons at the waist. The blouse is simple and collared in off-white. A scarf is loosely tied below the collar and hangs free down past the waist. It's pretty simple, but I like it. Again, when we see it in close-up, it comes off better.

Kayne's outfit for Pamela is a bit confusing. The top is loose with long sleeves, all in orange. Across the front is a wide swath of a print fabric (in orange, red, pale green and cream) that hangs assymmetrically and also continues a bit at the back. All this is over a cropped khaki pant (that looks pretty wrinkled). I think I see where he was going with this, but he missed the boat. And where are the rhinestones? Oh, I guess she's wearing some rings or something.

Angela's design for Laura's mom (Lorraine) confuses - the top is a simple black V-neck sweater. Then it appears to continue down into a wrapped skirt over pants, with layers of the skirt having a long fringe. She's also carrying one of Angela's hideous bags (in eggplant color) that is of course covered in those damn rosettes. I don't get it.

Robert has put Patricia in what amounts to be a big black mumu covered in a loose red top that has a scarf on one end that can be wrapped around. Patricia holds it and tosses it around in what I think she thinks is model-like behavior, but it really just looks silly. Considering the gene pool, I wouldn't be surprised if in her mind she believes she's a ballerina.

And last is poor Darlene in Jeff's monstrosity. Seriously, it sucks. A short black jacket covers a long nearly-black dress which has no shape at all. At the top is a bizarre collar - it looks like a periwinkle collared polo is sticking through the main dress (an illusion, it's all one piece), and on one side is a folded piece in dark purple. It seriously makes no sense. But Darlene is a real trooper and struts and smiles as best she can in that horrid get-up.

The judges tally, and Heidi asks one group to stay - Uli, Kayne, Michael, Vincent and Robert. (ScottE figured out that it's so all of them on stage have each other's loved ones.) So we won't be doing the traditional top and bottom groups this time. The judges love what Uli has done, and how much thought she put into the overall look. With Kayne they really question the print fabric - it would have been better if it was smaller and just near the collar, and also the pants are too short. These result in her looking bigger and shorter than she is (true and true). With Michael they like it well enough, and appreciate his explanation of what a businesswoman like Teresa needs in a dress. But they are really bowled over when he says it's reverseable. Michael Kors, however, finds the belt to be a bit matronly. Robert - they are bored. So bored. He counters that he was giving the client what she asked for. But Heidi Klum-Seal comes back (as she does each season) that as a designer you know better what looks good and have to help steer your client's opinion to a good compromise. In other words, he let Patricia walk all over him. They like Vincent's outfit. Sure, I guess it's fine.

In group 2, we have Laura, Jeff and Angela. And the judges just don't like any of it. Laura - the outfit is not "everyday" enough, and Pam looks older than she is. Michael thinks it may have looked better had she tied the scarf in an ascot or something. Angela - the design is too simple. Jeff - your outfit makes no sense. Does Darlene like it? No, she doesn't. She calls it "miscommunication" between herself and Jeff, which is an incredibly diplomatic way to describe what happened. Heidi asks Angela if she likes Jeff's outfit for her mom. No, she doesn't. (ScottE pipes up to say he assume they asked all the designers that, but this is the only one they showed.) Time for more deliberation.

Alone, the judges recap their thoughts. When discussing Robert's dress, Michael tosses his head back and snores. Boring! They really like Vincent's more than I would expect. What's up with that? Heidi says that she still appreciates that Jeff put "his mark" on his outfit. What's his mark - crappy design?

With all the designers back on the runway, Michael is the first one "in," because he had immunity from last week (which I forgot, but that's good). Laura is also in. And the winner is Uli. Wait, what? It's not? It's VINCENT?!?!?! WHAT IN SAM HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!?!?! I'm perplexed beyond belief. Uli was totally robbed! She is of course still in, but she has every right to be peeved. In Tim's podcast, he said the exact same thing - Uli had to deal with a different body type than they normally design for, and she pulled it off beautifully. SUCK!!! Sorry, I'm over it. Well, not really, but this post is already too long.

Kayne is in, and so is Angela. The leaves Jeff, who didn't listen to his client, and Robert, who listened too intently.'re...out! Boo! I suppose he should go, because he's just been Snoozefest 2006, but I really wanted karma to deal Jeff the final blow. Here's hoping it does next week.

Next week - Jeff and Angela still fight! And the designers create a look for "a jetsetter." What could that be? Flight attendants?

And this week's new Question of the Week! Which outfit would you put your own mother or sister in? I think my own mom could pull off a few of these, but I imagine that Michael's design would be the most flattering for her figure.

For more juicy analysis, check out what they're saying at the Washington Post Express.

August 24, 2006

Start drooling now!

'nuff said.

(Well maybe one comment - what are we to make of the lack of Michael & Walt in this photo?)

The bad old days

According to recent reports, the next season of ratings-challenged Survivor will have four tribes, and they will all be...wait for it...split up by race!

Only in the world of "reality TV" would network executives sanction putting segregation on the air and calling it "programming."

CBS - it's the new Fox!

(And no, I won't be watching. This show is dead to me.)

August 19, 2006

Dumpster diving

I'm here at last with my recap of this week's Project Runway. Perhaps I was putting it off because it didn't end the way I wanted it to. Oops, sorry - spoiler!

When last we left our sartorial staff, they had bid farewell to Bradley. Even the fact that he used Tresemme hair products was not enough to spare him from a lack of Cher knowledge. For now we join Heidi at the runway. She taunts them by saying the previous challenges have been "too easy" and that things will be much tougher from here on out. Angela protests loudly. She worked so hard on those rosettes! But there's no time to dwell on that - let's bring out some models. Back to the traditional method, the winner (Michael) chooses to keep Nazri, or take Bradley's model instead. He wisely keeps his new muse, so Katie is sent packing.

The designers' day starts off painfully early when Tim knocks on their doors at 5 a.m. No open-toed shoes. I feel their pain - I had to wake up at an ungodly hour for jury duty this week! For the designers, they are shuttled off in vans on a field trip. Where will they end up? Soon they are seen going into New Jersey. Laura, a typical Manhattan elitist, shudders.

Eventually they are brought to a warehouse. What could it be? It turns out to be...a recycling plant! Tim announces that the challenge will be to create a garment using all recycled materials. So in other words, they have a budget of nothing. After a brief (pointless) introduction to the plant director, the designers go off in search of source materials. Kayne is happy as a clam, taking caps off of plastic bottles to use. Don't ask me why. He's just happy to be back to his apparent white trash roots. Vincent is grabbing miscellaneous crap. Just like usual! Before they leave, Michael is sitting beat-boxing, and Laura tries to dance in what I assume she thinks is "street." It's bad but funny, and Michael starts laughing so hard he begs her to stop. It's hard to describe how hilarious this moment was - these two need their own show!

From there, they head to an art supply store, where they can spend $25 for additional materials. The theory here is that with non-traditional materials, you will need non-traditional things to put them together (tape and so forth). All we see is Jeff buying paint.

Back at the workroom, Tim drops the biggest bomb of the day - they will only have until midnight, plus a short time the following morning to work. And keep in mind, they were up at 5. Ouch! Still, they need to "make it work" so it's time to do modified-F1.

The first thing we see here is that Alison is using a striped paperboard of some type to make a skirt. Jeff is painting newspaper strips. Laura is having fun with a peanut sack, but has folded it so the message across the back of the skirt will read "FOR NUTS ONLY." Vague humor is best for fashion.

Then we have a random scene where Kayne and Robert sit eating lunch and trash-talk about Laura. It's actually rather minor, and I doubt they really hate her - this just reeks of manufactured drama to me. Hey producers - just because Keith is gone, doesn't mean you have to get desperate!

We return to modified-F1, and Vincent believes he is creating "art." This is the first time he speaks the words that make me want to pour bleach on my brain - "It gets me off." NO. Do NOT say that. PLEASE!

Meanwhile, Kayne has taken a big piece of stiff paper to create a giant cone skirt and has painted snot green flowers on it. Could it get worse? Oh yes, it could. He has randomly affixed those plastic bottle caps all over it. It looks like shit, and he knows it.

About mid-day, Alison is struggling with her material. It's just not working, and she has to abandon her stripes completely and try something else. Instead she moves to some paper substance that looks a bit like crepe paper and begins molding a short dress.

Late in the day, Tim arrives to critique. He loves what Uli is doing, braiding mylar and another material that is white. He does everything except tell Kayne he will be booted if he keeps that skirt. Panic time! His concern with Vincent is that it's one-dimensional (or technically, two-dimensional) - he's just glued random crap all over the front of the dress, with the back being plain and white. With Alison he likes the dress, but is concerned that the waist is too shapeless. He calls Alison's model "zaftig" which is an old-school way of saying "plus-sized." Alison talks about what the waist will be like in terms I don't get, but I'm sure mean something to Tim. He seems satisfied.

Kayne scrambles to make a new skirt. He's just crumpling up mylar, and it just looks like trouble. Time to go to bed, my pretties! ("Pretties" being a collective term for "you" and in no way implying that Vincent is pretty, which he's not. Ew.)

On day 2, the designers have only a short while before the models come in. After fitting, it's off to hair and make-up. We see Alison say, "I want all the hair up, on her head." In no way are we prepared for what that will mean! Kayne has his model (the verbose Amanda) in completely wacko eye make-up - like one eye is covered in turquoise sparkle, and the other is...brown? During a down moment, Laura expresses concern to him that she's worried about his choice here. Kayne basically tells her to eff off, that he's worried about her attitude or something, and it just comes off as bitchy. But again, I say he's tired, and it's not real hate. You'll see that at the end of the show, my friends.

Runway time! The judges are Michael, Nina and celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe. I think she actually sucks - she was on Top Model once and gave absolutely no advice that was helpful. Bring back Diane! Whatev - on with the show.

First up we have Jeff's halter dress. It's all made of newspaper, painted in vertical blue and yellow stripes. There is what looks to be a large yellow belt across the middle. I must say, it is innovative, even if it's a bit dark in tone. I don't hate it, and considering I hate him, that's impressive.

Laura has made a very simple sleveless dress with a low-cut front. The rear has the affore-mentioned message across it. But what sets it off is a belt and flower that she's crafted out of black plastic. It's very simple, and of course, it's chic.

Michael has a stylin' outfit - he's also used a peanut bag, but as a shaped skirt with ruching at the bottom. The top is mylar, but it's actually the reverse side, which turns out to be gold. To top off the look, he took a loose plastic tarp, and fashioned it into a wrap, that's pinned at the belt. It's all rather remarkable, as you might not even know what materials he used from a distance.

Similarly, Uli has twisted silver mylar and a white material into vertical braids that form the skirt. Horizontal braids go across the middle, and the sleveless top is just in the white material. It's quite lovely, and doesn't look to be anything other than fabric, actually.

Robert has finally redeemed himself, with a shapely halter dress all in mylar. It's layered all the way down, and a bit looser at the bottom. It's a flattering look, which couldn't come at a better time for him!

And then we see what Alison has done. The dress is a bit poofy - a form-fitting top that lets out over a short bubble skirt. But the apalling thing is that the model's hair has been tied into a giant Minnie Mouse-like bow. It's HIDEOUS! Now she looks like some kind of cream puff confection. Danger, Will Robinson!

Angela, you may remember, likes collages, so she made a big one that hangs over the front of her model in 2 large diamonds - the overall color is purple-blue. Underneath this is a short skirt and a bandeau top in some shiny material I can't identify. Honestly it isn't half-bad, although the diamonds are so stiff that they sort of shift side-to-side as the model does the runway.

Kayne's outfit is so heinous, it defies description. Let's just say there's that ugly green, the skirt is silver, the hair is wild, and the make-up sucks.

Vincent once again misses the mark. It's basically just a long shift dress that is covered in random paper and crap. The model can't even walk - she's shuffling. Stuff falls off left and right. He interviews that it gets him off. ARGH! Stop it!

Scores are tallied, and Uli, Robert and Angela are given a pass to next week. The rest of the designers watch their models come back out onto the runway.

The judges react much as I did, praising Laura's style, Michael's flair, and Jeff's innovation. They call Kayne's outfit "costume-y" and he acknowledges that it's not what he wanted to do. Michael calls Alison's model a "giant brioche" and they don't get the bow either. Vincent gets into an arguement with Nina - she maintains that a garment needs to be wearable, regardless of the artistry. He says it gets him off. SHUT IT!

The judges deliberate, and not much more is said, except they express their disappointment with Kayne and Alison - "What were they thinking?" Michael calls the belt on Jeff's garment trompe l'oeil, which is interesting, and I see that. I saw an exhibit of that type of art at the National Gallery, and it was excellent.

First up, Laura is in. That seems fair - her design was lovely, but pretty simple. And the winner...Michael! Again! I'm so happy. He just rocks. Backstage, he gets hearty congratulations, and Nazri screams with joy. Jeff looks pissed, but he is in. Kayne, who is presumably given a pass for his strong previous work, is in. So that leaves Vincent (who is stubborn and makes comments that hurt me) and Alison (talented but needs to give up this sudden Disney fascination). And Alison? You're...out. Noooo!!! That sucks. REALLY sucks. Is Vincent paying off the producers?

Backstage, we have perhaps the most dramatic post-out scene ever! As Alison comes back in tears, she is embraced by Uli. We stumble on what I understand was an arguement amongst several designers with Vincent, but we only see Laura tell him, "She couldn't move in that thing, Vincent! That's terrible!" Even if you saw that scene, you might have missed her saying that, because the SIDE OF HER BOOB is showing as she leans over! This is full-on, mother-of-five, saggy breast showing. As much as I love her, I think even she would agree this was not one of her more stylish moments. To quell the arguement, Kayne says they need to focus on the fact that these are their final moments with Alison. Well not FINAL, Kayne - she's not being sent to the gas chamber, for pete's sake. Alison receives a warm embrace from Jeff as she departs, interviewing that we haven't seen the last of her. Told ya, Kayne!

Next week - designing for the everyday woman. But you know there's a twist, somehow - I'm banking on maternity wear! That would rock.

August 13, 2006


Recently I made an impulse buy (I know, SHOCKING) and picked up the new DVD edition of Valley of the Dolls. I said to ScottE that I felt like although I hadn't seen it, we would probably secure our gay cards if we watched it.

And on a weekend jaunt to our "country house," we did go ahead and watch the movie with our friend D, who also hadn't seen it before.

This movie is pure classic camp. I would try and explain the plot, but believe me when I say it wouldn't make any sense if I did. Just picture your average Danielle Steel miniseries of women hopping in and out of bed, but throw in some bad show tunes badly done, and a pervasive soundtrack, and you've got yourself the Dolls experience.

What I recommend to you if you want to really enjoy this movie is to follow a few guidelines.

J-Lo's Guide to Viewing Valley

1. Plan to be intoxicated or otherwise in an altered state. (Please note that the author of this blog is in no way encouraging you to take uppers!)

2. Try to identify how a country girl from New England develops the accent Anne has. (Is she the inspiration for Madonna's faux British accent?)

3. Look for similarities between the dancing of Neely and that of Elaine on Seinfeld.

4. Make sure everyone in the room tries to do Jennifer's bust exercise.

5. Turn the movie into a drinking game by tossing one back every time one of the women says "fag." (Example: Jennifer says, "You know how bitchy those fags can be!")

6. Another drinking game would be to chug every time Dionne Warwick breaks in with that ridiculous theme song. "How will I? When will I? Get off this riiiiiiiiiiiiiide..."

7. Try to spot a brief cameo by a young Richard Dreyfuss (hint: it's near the end).

8. Engage in a debate about whether Helen looks better with the wig or without.

9. Cross-reference your viewing experience with the classic quotes listed on IMDB. (The best is probably Neely with "Who's stoned? I am merely traveling incognito.")

10. Laugh, laugh, laugh. (Truly - if you take this movie seriously you will be MOST disappointed.)

Honestly, as wacko as this movie is, it was great fun to watch as a group. D is already planning some type of Dolls theme party. Personally I plan to come with kettlebells, leotard and tights to be "Neely gets in shape!"

August 11, 2006

If Heidi could turn back time

Hooray! This may have been my favorite episode of Project Runway so far this season. So much happening, an interesting challenge, new personalities - fun! Let me tell you all about it - won't you join me?

When we last left our designers, they were sad that Bonnie left. Jeff is still bitter that Angela won the INC challenge, while Michael hopes that he can win a challenge solo. Robert resolves to do something "not boring" this time around, because if the judges don't dig his aesthetic, maybe he should "just go home."

At the runway, Heidi announces that they'll be all designing for a fashion icon. But first - model selection. This time it's being done a bit differently. Heidi will choose one of their names from the velvet bag, and the model will actually choose the designer. Interesting! But with 12 models and only 10 designers, the last 2 not picked from the bag will be out. Shitty! To have them leave from a random draw is unfair, I think. Anyway, they all pick and choose, with Bradley being picked last (again). I forget who got picked first - I'm pretty sure it was Alison. The two left and sent packing are Javi (the she-male) and Katie. Then it's the models sent to meet Tim, not the designers. What could they be up to?

In the workroom, Tim shows the models a bunch of placards featuring 10 fashion icons. They will each pick one for their respective designers. The challenge is to make a design inspired by the icon that she would wear, but modernized for today. When he says go, the models enter some sort of frenzy (I assume because they've eaten nothing but celery so far today) and claw and push past each other to grab the placards. If I was straight, I might have found that hot...but I'm not. Anywho, the designers are then ushered in to meet up with their models and find out their icons.

For the most part the match-ups are perfect. Laura gets Katherine Hepburn. Michael has Pam Grier. Jeff has Madonna. Alison has Farrah Fawcett. Kayne has Marilyn Monroe. Robert has Jackie O. Uli has Diana Ross. But a few of the match-ups worry me - Angela has Audrey Hepburn, Vincent has Twiggy, and Bradley has Cher. They all get a chance to "caucus" with their models, sketch, and then it's off to Mood to shop. Not much to say about this week's Mood trip, except we see Robert choose a soft aqua fabric.

Then it's time to cut, drape and sew (F1). As they all begin to F1, the first major incident is that Jeff sits down to a machine that isn't functioning right, and he blames Angela who was there last. They bicker, they bicker - heck, I might as well call that F2. Laura rolls her eyes, because she now hates Jeff. (Well with Keith gone, what's a girl to do? Hate Jeff! It's the new black!) She inserts her own comment during the F2 festivities, but Jeff isn't having it. Michael finally tells Jeff that it's not really fair to gang up on Angela about it. Jeff tries to F2 a bit, but Michael just gets out of it completely. He's above that. In fact, he goes and calls his mom.

This begins our "Michael is nice" segment. He calls his mom, she's his rock, she misses him, etc. Yes, it's generic to see this on a reality show, but since Michael actually DOES appear to be nice, I don't mind. He seems energized by the phone call and goes back to F1.

A group of tired designers march in for Day 2 which will be a full day of F1. Early in the day, Robert decides that his aqua fabric isn't working. He talks with Vincent, who has decided not to use this drab, oatmeal-colored linen. Robert comandeers that, and you know this is bad. Let's just say muslin would be a more attractive fabric to use. And in typical fashion, Bradley looks like he's floating on Mars. He just doesn't know what to do, and the other designers worry about him. He seriously says he doesn't know much about Cher. What is hilarious is that on Tim's podcast he said that this is what suddenly called Bradley's sexuality into question. Up to this point the assumption was he was gay, but now...?

Towards the end of the day Tim comes in for critiques. Robert's? Boring. Uli's? Yet another interesting print done well. Bradley? He's worried - VERY worrried. When he talks to Michael, Michael says that he's happy with his top, but feels his pencil skirt is too generic and not sexy like Pam Grier. So he's decided to pants. Tim says, "Well, I hate them, but they're very now!" I start to fret - was this a good decision? And worse, Michael will have to sew them in the morning!

Day 3, and the designers meet their models, and have 2 hours to finish, fit, and do hair and make-up. They will also have a consultation from the lead stylist for Tresemme. But the big news - the winner will have an ad for Tresemme in Elle magazine, featuring the winning look and the designer. HUGE! Keep in mind for the model this is almost equivalent to what she gets if she wins the whole thing. In fact, because the prize is so big, there will be no immunity this week. Last minute F1 scramble, where we see Michael sewing those pants. Tension! Also this is when we get to know Kayne's model, Amanda. This segment is called "Amanda is a chatterbox." She keeps talking about everything - how much she's eaten today, which iPod her boyfriend wants to buy her, blah, blah, blah to infinity. Kayne says she's a good model, but needs to shut the hell up and just be pretty. I'll at least agree with him on the shut up part. (But hello - models are people, too! Well, maybe not Jade.)

At the runway, we are all relieved to see that the wonderful Michael Kors is back. And the guest judge is my favorite - Diane von Furstenberg. Let's start the show!

Laura has done exactly what Katherine Hepburn might wear today. A high-waisted tweed pant over a loose wrapped pale pink top. The top has a large collar and a loose tie that hangs down the side. It's very stylish and sophisticated, just like Laura.

In a real shocker, Angela's outfit is nice. It's a multi-layered black dress with a low-cut front, and the dress has the fabric going in different directions in various parts - hard to describe, but it's nice. Of course, the girl can't stop doing those damn rosettes, but at least they have been tastefully placed at the hem (small) and one at the waist (medium). It's...good! I'm in bizarro world, I think.

Uli once again triumphs with a bold print that's mostly purple and nearly leopard-like. The halter dress has a collar that is crossed at the neck, revealing a peek-a-boo middle. It's definitely what you could see Diana wearing were she to be at the Grammys today. (But old Diana, not crazy Diana of today that touches Lil' Kim's boob.)

Alison's look is OK, but not my favorite. It's a very low-cut brown top with seafoam trim, and a loose sheer skirt in the same green color. The model of course has the requisite Farrah feathered hair.

Michael's outfit is awesome. The top is a halter style that is held at the waist by a wide belted swath, which has a nice metal piece sewn in the middle so it really looks like a belt. And the "hot pants" are really just square-cut short shorts. Nazri's hair is big and curly, but a bid more modern - not a full-on afro. The look is really hip - I could totally see Beyonce' or someone in this. Very Miami chic.

Kayne's dress is prety strong. He's got a sheer black fabric over a cream fabric. The halter dress is low cut in front, floor length, with a big opening at the front. The edge of the collar is black leather that also wraps around to form a waist band. And it's topped off with a black stole. It's definitely modern, but you can see this as Monroe material.

Jeff's outfit I just don't get. It's a bustier made up of a hodge-podge of materials in patches, all over a bubble skirt. And the model is sporting a heavy pair of short black boots. The bustier doesn't fit the model at all - it's like it entered the room a full minute before she did. Hate it.

Robert's is also baffling. It's a casual jacket over skirt combo in that awful linen, over a loose black wrap top. And the worst - the coat is tied with a piece of rope. I don't mean a piece of decorative rope - I mean NAUTICAL rope.

Could it get worse? Yes, it could. Here comes Bradley's "outfit." The top is basically a belly shirt made out of shiny silver material that they probably line satellites with. The white pants are too tight and show a bit too much in the pelvis if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Oh, and did I mention there are random pale green triangles all over the top of the shirt? Bizarre!

Vincent is like halfway to an idea. It's a short dress that has a plaid criss-crossed over a black fabric. Both sleeves are long and bell-shaped, and there are a couple faux-pockets on the front.

After the tally, Laura, Jeff (what?), Alison and Uli are all in. This is when I realize that yes, Angela is in the top again. How did this happen? During the judges' inquiry, they first examine Kayne's outfit, and really like it, especially the back. But I also notice that Amanda wasn't kidding about all that eating - I swear she has a little fat roll hanging over the belt, so it doesn't look good from the back to me. I think it's just too tight on her, actually. (Marilyn was not model-skinny, Kayne!) With Vincent, just as I said, they see where he was going but don't think he got there. After Vincent stumbles through his explanation (as usual), Diane corrects him that Twiggy is not dead. Burn! Hasn't he ever seen Top Model?

They love Michael's outfit a lot. He explains how he changed his original vision, because he wanted to give it that sexy Foxy Brown vibe. They admire his tailoring. With Bradley, they just don't get it. Moving on... Heidi shocks me by saying she loves Angela's dress so much she wants it in several colors! Nina very diplomatically says that she likes how she kept it sophisticated and Hepburn-like, but also put in her own signature style (i.e. those damn rosettes). Robert gets ripped apart. They hate the fabric. It looks messy. Michael scolds him, saying, "The one thing with Jackie O is she ALWAYS looked crisp, clean, and put together." Oh, and it's boring. Self-fulfilling prophecy!

The judges deliberate, and basically say the same things they just did, so we'll move right to the end. Angela? Is in. Well, good for her, I guess. At least she's proving she deserves to even be on the show. And the winner? MICHAEL! Hooray! I jumped up and down in bed, I was so happy! And that means he and Nazri will be in Elle for the Tresseme ad. Kayne, to his credit, is a genial loser, and he's in. Vincent is also. So that leaves Robert (boring) and Bradley (WTF?).'re in. I'm guessing on the strength of your first two designs this season. So Bradley gives a disjointed and weird exterview, and ScottE suggests that maybe if he just shaved that beard, Heidi would like him. Not likely! Actually I looked back, and I never really liked anything he did. So, good-bye, Mr. Granola.

We conclude with a brief moment where they are shooting the Tresseme ad. Michael is happy and sweet, Nazri is excited at the opportunity. This time her hair has been really smoothed into more constructed curls. It all looks hot and awesome. I love happy endings!

So someone asked me how I think/want the show to end. At this point I'm pulling for a final 3 of Laura, Michael and Uli. It would be great, as their styles are so different. Laura would have sophisticated Upper East side chic. Michael would have hip and sexy outfits that show some skin. Uli would have a wealth of vibrant prints. But of course that means one of them will surely not make it, because the universe hates me. Maybe Kayne will slip into the end? Alison would be OK. Just not Jeff (ugh), Vincent (wacko) or Robert (snore). Angela? Well, she'd certainly make sure it wasn't a dull finale...

Next week, Tim promises a field trip!

August 07, 2006

A pleasant weekend

Y'know, when life has you down, a weekend of things that make you happy really does the trick.
I'm pleased to say that this was just one of those weekends.
We started off with a nice visit, where ScottE made his delicious steak soft
tacos with homemade roasted tomato salsa. While dining on that we enjoyed such
delights as Margaret Cho's"I'm the One That I Want on video, and
Dirty Jobs as a part of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

Let me pause to extoll the virtues of DJ's host, Mike Rowe. Vaguely recognize
him? You may have also seen him doing the Epic Pharmacy commercials, or back
when they had that odd show called Worst Case Scenarios, based on the popular
book series.

Mike? Is hott. He's hot in the
middle-aged-been-around-the-block-but-still-in-shape kind of hot. And why was
Shark Week a good time to see him? Because it involves swimming, which involves
Mike in a swimsuit. ROWR! It appears he may be a confirmed bachelor, but if
anyone has further information - call me!

Saturday was a good day for vegetating, but also to do a little shopping. While
we were out, I picked up a movie we loved in the theater - The 40 Year Old
with Steve Carrell. It was just as funny the second time! The DVD has
some nice extras on it, including extended sequences that had to have been
improvised bits. And as mentioned before by me (I think on this blog) - Paul
Rudd? Also hott.

Sunday morning brought us to the lovely home of DC Food Blog, where we dined on
a delightful spread including divine blueberry mini-muffins, and the most
interesting little spinach balls. Yum! You will be shocked to hear that
scanning their bookshelves and video collection, we share many, many of the same
tastes. The parallel universe phenomenon persists!

After a pleasant mid-day chat with Sterfanie, it was off to dine at our favorite
"this is going to make me regret it, but it's so worth it" place -
Ben's Chili Bowl. We dined on their supremely fantastic chili dogs and cheese
fries. It does NOT get better than Ben's!

From there it was on to Studio Theatre, where we got to see Dog Sees
God. It's an interesting play that was recently mounted off-Broadway,
that takes the characters from The Peanuts and moves them into the present, with
teenage angst and crushes. All the kids are shadows of their former selves -
Pigpen is now a blowhard jock with an obsession for Purell who insists on being
called "Matt." Schroeder is now a meek and damaged outcast called
Beethoven. And Lucy, well...Lucy likes taking lithium. But our main character
of course is Charlie Brown (now just "CB") who still struggles to make
friends and find his place in society. [And on a side note, the actor playing
him? Hott!] I pretty much enjoyed the show - my main issues were with the
script and a few blocking problems. But I do recommend it!

To wrap up this fine weekend, I sat down to another of my purchases - a movie
from the A&E collection of Miss Marple films starring Joan Hickson. Although
the recent versions on PBS have been fun, the Hickson ones are really the cream
of the crop. I started with They Do It With Mirrors - hoping the movie might be
a bit stronger than the novel (which wasn't one of Agatha Christie's best, in my
opinion). Although lovely to see, the movie didn't quite rise above. I'll
probably go next with one I know is great - like Nemesis.

I love Michael!

Thanks to The Kara for sending this in!

August 03, 2006

Expect the unexpected

Welcome back to another episode of Project Runway, in which a designer gets forcibly removed, Laura says what we're all thinking, Michael is quite funny, and Jeff stil needs a chin. On with the show!

As we start the show, Uli and Bonnie are in their room, lamenting the loss of Katie. They wonder if they'll be put in one room with the other women. Uli simply says, "As long as it's not with Angela." And thus we have this week's theme!

At the runway, Heidi announces that the next challenge will be for INC (the place offering the mentorship prize) which apparently is an exclusive brand sold at Macy's. Considering I never shop there, I'm not surprised I've never heard of it. Anywho - it's time for model selection. But to keep things interesting (because you know this part is pretty dull), they're all picking models again this week. Uli will get first choice, and she takes Keith's model, Narzi, on the theory that she may be the source of his mojo. The rest all pick their models, leaving Robert with last choice. He either gets to keep his model, or take Alison's. He stands by his (wo)man, and Toni goes home. You can tell she's all, "I got my hair all poofy and flat-ironed last week to be treated like this?"

At the workroom, Tim introduces Mehmet from Macy's, who will explains what they're looking for. Like any marketing person, he uses extremely vague terms like "fashion-forward" and "ready to wear." The designers will each get 30 minutes to sketch and then present to him at Macy's. 4 will be chosen as team leaders, so this is another group challenge. During the sketching part, Angela says that sketching "is not normally part of [my] process," so I think she actually CAN sketch, she just prefers not to. Not that I'm defending her, mind you.

At Macy's, they present. I hear a couple of them mention cardigans. Lots of pants, so it looks like this won't be all dresses. Finally Mehmet announces the leaders - Keith (ugh), Robert and Bonnie (who both work in corporate fashion, so that makes sense), and...Angela. Yes, I'm serious. Immediately you can see the designers go, "Oh, shit!" Indeed, Michael interviews that they're all thinking, "Don't pick me!"

Back at the workroom, they select teams. Bonnie gets Uli and Bradley (who was picked last). Keith takes Alison and Jeff. Robert wants Kayne and Vincent. Angela (perhaps because she's not totally an idiot) takes Laura and Michael. They both grimace but suck it up. Time to caucus and shop! Michael points out a fabric to Angela that she loves. And there's something about Keith cutting a deal with the Mood staff, but I don't see how that's really bad - haggling is legitimate in business.

And now it's time to begin the sewing, the cutting and the draping - F1! Only thing to report here is that Keith basically delegates everything, and Bonnie is all up in Bradley's grill (he's doing the pants), as she's concerned about his time management from last week. F1, F1, F1.

That night, for some reason Kayne decides at this moment to start stirring the pot and mentions to his roommates (Vincent, Robert and Michael) that he is aware that Keith has pattern books in his room. This is against the rules of the show, and after basically confirming that he should in fact rat out Keith, Kayne brings it to the producers. [Apparently in real-time 2 days actually elapsed after this point where they did publicity photos and whatnot, but we just fast-forward.] Tim interviews that it's definitely against the rules. He comes to Keith's apartment that evening and basically tells Keith that it's wrong and he's going home. And not only had he had the books, but he had taken off one evening for several hours and used the internet, which is also against policy. Keith packs. Then Keith has an awkward conversation with the guys in the other apartment, trying to apologize. Kayne (who really is being a bit too bitchy for my tastes here) keeps prodding him, and Keith feebly says how sorry he is. And...he's gone. Jeff is a bit upset, but is also thinking about the challenge.

So on day 2, the designers gather, and Tim lays it out for them. Angela looks all shocked, but it sounds like they all had known already. Then again, I could see her being the one person no one told. Then Laura pricelessly interviews, "Keith...what a shit." Awesome. Alison is a bit shaken up, but she manages.

Now the matter of Keith's team - basically Tim says, "Make it work." Jeff and Alison have their work cut out for them in more ways than one. So they return to F1. Over the course of F1, Vincent and Kayne are not crazy about Robert's look. Kayne thinks it's turned out "flight attendant." They agonize over the collar. Meanwhile Bradley is having trouble with the rear on his pants. Later on, Laura and Michael are in the sewing room alone, and she's mocking Angela's aesthetic - something about "grandma." I didn't quite catch it, but whatever it was, Michael is cracking up. Seriously - what an odd yet wonderful pair these two have turned out to be! Back in the workroom, we see that Angela is making more infamous rosettes. Each time she holds one up to the form saying, "What about here?" Michael cringes, agonizes, falls over. I think he might be getting his point across. Also, he is hilarious. He needs to do physical comedy! Seriously, my love for him was solidified in this scene.

Day 3, and it's the usual last-minute scramble of F1 as the models enter. They are of course encouraged to use the Macy's accessory wall. All we really see here is that Michael took over the hair and make-up time for their team, to make sure the model stayed "young and fresh." I can only imagine what Angela had suggested. ("Can we dye her hair gray?")

It's runway time! The judges include Nina, Mehmet, and Vera Wang (Michael Kors, how I miss thee). This is when I notice that Vera has some pretty unattractive folds in her neck, and could use a good plastic surgeon. On with the runway show!

First up is Angela's design. It consists of a long-sleeve deep V-neck top, over sleek gray pants. There is a matching small gray shrug coat. We see that what they ended up doing with the rosettes was just using them as faux buttons for the jacket and pants - it actually looks...good? I think the outfit is great, and actually just hate the model - her walk is too stiff and...yuck. Someone ditch her next week.

Bonnie's design is a 70's style cream jacket that ties across the front over a pink cowl-neck shirt. The pants are simple, brown and dull. I actually like this outfit (except for the pants), but then again I like retro-chic.

Robert's thing is...ugh. A white jacket with too many elastic ties is over a simple black dress with a flat white collar. In the back there's a slit in the skirt that is too wide and is showing too much leg. Anne Slowey would call it "vulgar."

Jeff and Alison have a long grey coat over tight navy pants. The top is a simple white turtleneck, but has an odd couple straps hanging down the bottom - like you'd look if you had a tank top just hanging on your waist. Other than those straps, it's a good look.

First Heidi talks with the two high-scoring teams - Angela's and Jeff/Alison. Here we see that the interesting pink pattern fabric Michael picked out at Mood was actually used as a lining for the jacket, which is very nice. The winner will be revealed the next day, where the design will be in the Macy's window at Herald Square.

Now for the losers. Basically Nina rips Bonnie's design apart - the look is not "now." She HATES the cowl neck and loathes the material the pants are made from (which appears to be cheap - keeping in mind they only had $100 for this challenge). With Robert's design it's a matter of a bunch of things that don't go together. Vera gently says that the backslit is "tough to make work" which translates to "never a good idea." Asked about teamwork, Vincent basically says he wasn't crazy about the design, but "Robert was the team leader." And I cry - BULLSHIT! Yes, Robert was the leader. But that's the SAME excuse Angela used week 2 that got Vincent all riled up. Crazy jerk.

As the judges deliberate, Mehmet laments that Bonnie's design is like, so 3 years ago. It's just not "fashion-forward." Nina REALLY hates that cowl neck. Did she mention that? Robert's design is "a mess."

Back on the runway, Uli is in because she has immunity. Then Kayne is in, followed by Vincent and Bradley. So this will be a judgement on the designs themselves...and Bonnie is out. Sadness! She cries, they all cry, and she's gone. [Interestingly, in Tim's podcast he says that the original plan was not to cut anyone because Keith left already, but at the last minute the producers decided to move forward and didn't tell him. So even he was taken aback by Bonnie's ouster.]

The next day, the five top designers head to Macy's, and we see that Angela's design won. Shocked? Don't be. Keep in mind two things - first, how could they really reward Keith's design after all that? As much as it's unfair to Jeff and Alison, I just don't think the producers (or Macy's) would allow it. And secondly, remember who won the Banana Republic challenge in season one? Wendy Pepper. I'm just saying.

Next week - design for another "icon." How many fashion icons ARE there?

August 02, 2006

Don't shoot the messenger

This past weekend, ScottE and I had the opportunity to see Signature Theatre's production of Assassins. I was looking forward to this, as I'd seen the 2004 Broadway production at Studio 54. Considering their slamdunk last year with Urinetown, I hoped Signature could do it again.

Quite simply, they did it again.

Under Joe Calarco's superb direction, Signature made the most of this unusual musical in their intimate space. I won't spoil the set-up in case any of you are still going to see it, but let's just say he drove home the idea that these assassins are not some bizarre people from another planet - they are everyman, they are us.

For those unfamiliar with the show, Sondheim wrote this musical back in 1991. It imagines a hypothetical place where the nine people in America who have attempted to assassinate the President come together and interact. He explores their motivations, their reasons and their humanity (or lack of, you might argue). It is really half-play, half-musical, as there are some longer sections of just dialogue, and only 9 songs. The action reaches a crescendo as these characters converge to implore Lee Harvey Oswald to be the man that shoots President Kennedy.

If it sounds odd, it is. And often uncomfortable. I mean, sure, you KNOW the guns they're holding are fake, but you still squirm a bit in your seat when they aim them right at you! Still, it's a remarkable piece of theater.

In many ways this production surpassed the Broadway version. I much preferred Will Gartshore as John Wilkes Booth, Tally Sessions as Leon Czolgosz, Andy Brownstein as Samuel Byck and Donna Migliaccio as Sara Jane Moore. Also the intimacy of the space lends itself well to such a personal work.

But on the flipside there were things in Broadway I liked better. The set there was truly spectacular - made up like a carnival shooting gallery beneath a roller coaster. And Neil Patrick Harris really shone as Oswald.

All in all, a tremendous show. We've signed up as subscribers to the coming season at Signature, and I look forward to seeing what they do with My Fair Lady and Into the Woods!