September 29, 2006

Hair today, gone tomorrow

When we last left the young bitches-in-training on America's Next Top Model, some girl was elminated, but she was so dull we forgot about her. But apparently Melrose didn't, because in the confessional she's sad thinking about Christian leaving. She really thinks she'll have to step it up this week to stay in the competition.

The girls first join the J's at breakfast, where they supposedly will be getting good advice. But all they show (and I'm sure the best the girls got) is OJ telling them that if you're a strong person, you have to find a way to use your life experiences to portray vulnerability. He points this out in particular to Megan, which instantly sends a chill through my heart, because I know how this show is edited.

When the girls return to the house, we discover why they had to get them out for breakfast - this year the makeover salon is going to take place right in the living room of their house. And who's going to do their new looks? Oh just a little man you may have heard of called Frederick Fekkai. Impressive, no? Tyra reveals what all the looks will be like, and then it's off to work. Some girls get longer hair (like Megg and Eugena), others get it all chopped off (like Jaeda). Several just have their hair dyed dramatically different (like Megan). But poor Anchal has to have her hairline reshaped, and I don't understand what they did, but it looked painful.

But as usual, the makeover time is not without drama. AJ bitches about her look, even though it's practically the same as what she had. Jaeda sobs about having all her hair cut short (a'la Halle Berry). And Monique wails over the fact that America is seeing her without her weave. Whatever! Get over it bitch. And in fact, in a surprising turn of events, OJ shows some character by making them all feel guilty for being so inconsiderate of their guest stylist. After 7 seasons of this, he's just fed up. Um, I never thought I'd say this, go, Jay!

Properly chastised, the girls adjust to their new looks. Also we find out that people still don't like Monique. More on that later.

Tyra Mail brings this week's challenge, which takes the girls to a hotel. OJ meets them there, and explains what is perhaps the weirdest challenge ever. First, each girl will have 60 seconds to grab some of Cover Girl's new Queen collection make-up, and then they need to run to the elevator. They'll need to apply their look in the elevator, and if they miss the doors, they are SOL. At the 15th floor, they pop out and get a minute to find a dress. Then it's to the 25th floor to pick up shoes, and finally to the penthouse to face their judge from CG. So apparently a top model needs to learn how to make herself presentable fast while finding her clothes strewn about a hotel after a night of drunken partying? Whatever. On with the challenge!

Right away things are looking up, as Monique misses the door and is eliminated. Ha! At the shoe floor, Megg misses the doors, so she's gone also. Then they meet the CG rep - Queen Latifah herself! And her makeup stylist. The girls present their looks, which are mostly pretty good, but I'm still bothered by Eugena's bad skin. CariDee looks RIDICULOUS, with some kind of wrap on her head, and a shirt-as-skirt look. She calls it "beachwear" - I call it "housefrau." Anyway, ultimately they pick Eugena as the winner, which I found baffling. Eugena gets to pick 2 friends to share in the prize - she chooses CariDee and Jaeda. The next day they will get to do a shoot together for a special web ad for Cover Girl. Sounds great, but I defy anyone to actually find said ad on the internet!

Back at the house, Ms. Monique is bitter over not being able to meet Queen Latifah, and Amanda quite rightly guesses that she'll take it out on the house. Indeed, Monique decides to then get on the house phone for 3 1/2 hours. As if that weren't enough, she (and everyone else) knew that Melrose really needed the phone, as she had to talk to her landlord about getting back her $1,800 deposit, and it had to happen today! Instead of confronting Monique, though - they all just make fun of her. But then finally one woman warrior steps forward to defy the diva - it's Anchal! I know! Ms. Formerly Timid steps in and tries to hang up the phone, getting into a shouting match about how Monique has no respect for others. It was DIVINE if you like reality TV drama like I do! Eventually Monique gets off the phone when no one is around, and to herself makes fun of the other girls' perky attitudes. That is one hard-core bitch, and she might be f'd up crazy to boot. Let me put it this way - she's starting to make Jade look stable.

Anywho, now that the storm has passed, the girls head to this week's photo shoot. OJ introduces 3 "weavologists" who compete in an event called "Hair Wars." If you haven't seen it, it's basically like hair sculpture, which has to be worn by a person. Lots of bright colors, and - I'm serious - moving parts. At first I was like, "They just got makeovers and already are covering up their new hairdos?" But the shoot is actually pretty cool, so forget that.

First up is Monique, and she gets some real praise from OJ for pulling it out. Pardon my French, but...FUCK. Of the rest of the girls, most do really well, but OJ points out that Megan isn't giving him much emotion, and Jaeda is just giving one expression. Also Eugena is dull. Melrose gets singled out for really giving what she didn't last week - OJ is impressed, and Melrose gets a hug.

And in no time we're at the judging panel. The guest judge this week will be their photographer from the shoot, Tracy Bayne, who has done past shoots for ANTM, including the falling fairy tale women last cycle. There is no stupid judging challenge (please, PLEASE tell me those are a thing of the past for good), so it's time to look at the photos.

AJ has an interesting shot from below which is pretty good, but as Tyra points out - when you're shot that way you have to watch out for "pig nose."

Amanda was my clear favorite this week, surrounded by a huge heart shape in red. Her face is amazingly mature and professional. Well done, twin #1! Tracy points out that Amanda had a clear sense of possibility at the shoot and offered good suggestions.

Anchal is also very strong, covered by a thatched roof of hair, and a spinning bird. But in the midst of it, she has a smokey look with pouty lips - super.

Brooke is trying not to be overshadowed by the plethora of American flags that surround her face, but she has a nice doe-eyed innocence here.

CariDee has a good pose, but it somehow comes off as "drag queen." I'm torn, because the shot is absolutely a good one, but you expect to see "Kristy Kreme" printed at the bottom of the shot.

Eugena...zzzzzzzzzz. What? Huh? I'm sorry, what was I talking about?

Jaeda just looks pissed off.

Megan has these weird spinning Princess Leia honeybuns on the side of her head, and she just looks young and cute.

Megg is fine, but I'm distracted by the fact that her mascara was glopped on very heavy and is clumping all over the place.

Melrose is trying to play the ugly/beautiful card, looking like a crazed excotic bird with huge rainbow feathers. I have to say, although I'm not a fan, it's a pretty good editorial shot.

Michelle shines again as a shy bird creature, with a slight kiss on her shoulder. Good instinct, twin #2!

Monique hilariously has a spinning trophy at the top of two big brown wings. Her face is lovely, but it's a bit dull.

And then the judges deliberate. Twiggy really thinks Amanda has potential and could be the darkhorse favorite. Tyra is astounded by Anchal's beauty. Nigel is afraid that Brooke is too all-American "cute" and thus not model material. They are all disappointed by Eugena's photo, and (could it be?) Monique's.

12 ladies, 11 photos (They aren't "beautiful" this week? Ouch, Tyra.) - and the first goes to...Melrose! The mighty hath lifted herself back up by her ponytail. Then photos go to Amanda, Michelle, Anchal, Brooke, CariDee, AJ and Megg. Eugena is called out for being dull, but gets a photo anyway. Could it be? No, it couldn't - Monique gets her photo next. Boo! So that leaves Jaeda and Megan. This is not a good sign.

Jaeda and Megan? This week both of you didn't show personality in your photos, letting yourselves become lost amongst all that hair. So will manly Jaeda go home, or very-tragic Megan? The photo goes to...Jaeda. Nooooo!!! I'm sad to see Megan go - I thought she had great potential. But she does come off a tad bubble-headed in her exterview, so perhaps I am wrong.

Next week - more drama with Monique! Ms. J balances on a wire! And a girl goes to the hospital. Let's hope it's because somebody cuts Monique with a hair extension, but more likely it will be "exhaustion."

You're a heart-breaker, a rule-breaker!

If you thought that Dancing With The Stars was just a lot of nice celebrities dancing and smiling, this week's show would have changed your mind.

On the one hand there were some great dances that wowed us - in particular Vivica and Nick, who did a smoldering tango. (And check out that hair - hello, Dorothy Dandridge!)

But on the other hand you had several teams that kept trying to push the envelope of the rules with some lifts, and intentional form breaks. And the judges? Were NOT having it. Len was grumpy as could be all night, and eventually Carrie Ann stepped in with the scolding. To Karina and Mario she said, "Maybe if you LEARNED to RESPECT the RULES you would do better!" When scoring, both she and Bruno were all, "8, but it COULD have been a 10!"

Such drama!

I admit, it was a little bit delicious, but it was also like watching your parents argue, y'know?

But the biggest injustice this week was that Emmitt (who admittedly was not at his best) got the lowest score - even lower than dancing-as-a-joke Jerry Springer. NOT cool. I had a near heart attack watching the results show! But in the end it was Harry Hamlin who was eliminated. Poor little Ashly crying her eyes out! What a sweetheart.

How about the musical performances on the results show? I love me some Scissor Sisters, but even I admit it was a rather bizarre place for them to perform. (Well, and on Disney-owned ABC, it's not like Jake could be tearing his clothes off.) And what the heck was with that opera guy? He looked like a Jack Black sketch on Saturday Night Live. At least the paso doble-as-modern dance was entertaining.

September 27, 2006

She works hard for the money

Despite Six Degrees turning out to be a real disappointment, I'm pleased to say that NBC's Heroes was even better than I expected. This one was engrossing and (at least for now) will be appointment television for me.

The character development is the focus in the show, which is very appealing. In fact, it has a lot in common with Lost - complex characters, an air of sci-fi mystery, and strong writing. Heroes also has a real sleek high-budget look to the camera work, which is impressive for network TV.

NBC made a smart move by getting a presenting sponsor, so they could have just a couple commercial interruptions. That helped keep us involved in the story. Speaking of the story, let's meet our cast of characters, shall we?

* Isaac is a painter strung out on heroin, who paints pictures that appear to be precognitive visions. Has he seen a great evil that is coming?

* Claire is a high school cheerleader in Texas who has discovered that her body appears to be indestructible, able to repair itself rapidly. Part of her wants to test the limits of what she can do, while part of her just wants to be normal again.

* Hiro is a Japanese office worker in a dead-end job, but he thinks he has the ability to manipulate time and space. Did he really teleport himself to New York City just by thinking it?

* Peter & Nathan are brothers that couldn't be any more different. Peter is a meek hospice nurse who has dreams of flying. Nathan is a high-powered politician running for Senate. What power links them together?

* Niki is a struggling single mom, trying to provide for her savant son by stripping on the internet. She owes a lot of debt, and thinks she's being watched all the time - but by whom?

* Mohinder is a professor in India who receives news that his father (also a professor) has disappeared. Did the father's research into the next level of human evolution put him in danger?

What Heroes has is a lot of inter-connectedness - exactly what Six Degrees purported to have. For example, Peter's current charge is the father of Isaac's girlfriend. And the myserious man in horn-rimmed glasses that is following Mohinder turns out to be related to another person in the cast. It's all VERY intriguing.

And there's still more to come - we have yet to meet the cop who hears the voices of other people...

Anywho, I think the show has great promise, and I'll be tuning in next week!

September 26, 2006

The goal is Mongolia

Due to some technical difficulties (or to put it succintly - "CBS sucks"), my wonderful TiVo missed the last part of The Amazing Race on Sunday. So unfair! I had to resort to reading about it online today.

Thus I don't have a lot to say today. But I'm happy to report that the beauty queens are still pleasant (if a tad forgetful), and David and Mary seem to like everyone. And although I don't know exactly how it happened (something about flaming arrows), the cheerleaders were eliminated. I'm envisioning that they hit the mat and screamed, "Gimme a B-O-O!"

This week's leg took place mostly in Mongolia, which is a new country for the show and thus cool in my book. What have we learned about it? Apparently that the hooved creatures have minds of their own.

So stay tuned for next week, when we will hopefully be able to talk about it more! (Anyone see the ending that can give a little commentary?)


Remember when I talked about a little musical called The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee? Well on Friday, I was lucky enough to see the national tour kick off at Baltimore's Hippodrome.

It was such fun!

Of course, my only point of comparison is the Broadway soundtrack (which I've listened to approximately 50 bejillion times). And like my experience with Assassins recently, there were things I liked better on the soundtrack - the actresses who played Rona and Logan. But other things were definitely better in what we saw - particularly the actor playing Leaf. Best moment (which ALMOST made me cry) was "The I Love You Song." Such amazing 3-part harmony.

But the funniest moment? One of the guest audience spellers was supposed to get out on an obscure word (which may have been made up) - and he got it right! It was a very Carol Burnett moment up on the stage as the actors tried to figure out what to do next. They followed up with an even harder word, which he then got wrong. Still - the audience was ROLLING.

It's great fun, and if you can make it there in the next week, I highly recommend it! Worth every penny. (And the traffic jam on the way home.)

September 22, 2006

Don't call her a diva, even if she is


Now that I have your attention, perhaps you're ready for the trash-talking, runway-walking, nude-balking premiere of America's Next Top Model! It's a two-hour show, so bear with me, faithful readers.

First up, Tyra reminds us where we have been. Supposedly past winners have appeared all over the place, but I guess until one of them becomes a Victoria's Secret angel, we won't remember them. But a few are familiar to me - remember Eva? Or Naima? And last season's winner Danielle? Enough of the nostalgia - on with the show!

To begin the process, Tyra and her staff looked at a lot of photos and videos. Eventually they whittled that down to a group of 33 girls who are invited to Los Angeles as semi-finalists. And when they land, they discover that a true Top Model needs to be ready to work it at any moment. Because Ms. J meets them in the airport, and escorts them directly to the tarmac where a wind machine and photographer are set up. They snap some shots, and that gives us a quickie introduction to the girls. If you think I'm going to name all 33, you are about to be sorely disappointed.

Moving on! The girls then meet for a brunch at a hotel. The lovely event on the terrace is interrupted by those damn "Aswirl Twins" from last season, and they are so dumb and ridiculous that I can't even talk about them for another second. Finally breaking up that madness, in walks Ms. Banks herself. She greets the girls, they're excited, fun and such.

Later that day each of the girls "auditions" for Tyra, Ms. J and Jay Manuel. I swear, Jay has become even more orange since last season. In fact, I shall henceforth refer to him as OJ (Orange Jay). Just don't confuse him with a certain former football star and actor... Anywho, during this audition period we learn a bit about some of the girls. There's one girl that totally emulates Tyra (her name is Christian). Another has a husband in Iraq and 2 kids at home. Then there's the girl who is a stripper and tries to say it's part of modeling. Tyra is NOT amused.

All that takes awhile, but I'll spare you the pain and humiliation to move right to the first cut. The girls meet Ms. J and OJ in front of a beauty parlor, and inside they are told there will be 21 Tyra magazines (which is odd, as Tyra does not have a magazine yet, which I think is actually healthy, RACHAEL RAY), and inside each is a photo of a girl that's made the first cut. Predictably, they start a stampede racing into the parlor. Much screeching, much jumping up and down. Also much crying, as the girls that got cut are pretty upset. (And to be honest, the ones that survived could have done a bit less celebrating in the losers' faces.) Shockingly, stripper girl is cut. Except not shocking, because she had bizarre lips.

After the chaff has been sent packing, the girls are presented with a wall of bad wigs. They are told that they will be having a photo shoot shortly, and each need to do their own make-up, and can use a hair piece if they like. In general, most of the short-haired girls opt for the wigs, sometimes with tragic results (What were you thinking, Brooke?). They are then instructed to meet OJ up on the roof of the hotel.

It is there that he reveals that he hopes they paid attention to their hair and makeup, because that's all they'll have - this will be a nude photo shoot. I admit to being shocked by this, but I suppose I should realize that our American culture is edging closer to that of the Brits - not so prudish about the nudity. OJ promises that this will be extremely tasteful, and there won't be full body shots. (In other words, no ta-tas or va-jay-jay.) Most of the girls are like, "Sure, why not?" But one girl in particular is struggling - Ginger. Short version - she's from a conservative Republican background. Eventually she does it, but only stays up there for 2 frames. Lame! Top Models get naked on command! Or at least it would appear so.

Later that evening, it's time for Tyra and the J's to look at the girls' pictures and make the final cut to the 13 that will compete on the show. They point out various things about each girl, and I really can't be bothered to tell you what they said about all 21. Just be assured that they were often right on the money.

Back outside, and Tyra faces 21 beautiful ladies. She will name 13 girls (What, no photos?) who made the final cut. And here they are, with a brief snap judgement at this moment thought from me on each:

A.J. is a little bit punk, with short (probably dyed) black hair. She's hip and I like her.

Amanda and Michelle are identical twins. Amanda has the straight hair and I think wants this a little more. Michelle's hair has a bit of waviness, and I think she's actually the better of the two.

Anchal is Indian-American and gorgeous. She'll be fighting against the fact that her face is unique in its angles and shape. I love her.

Brooke is a hyperactive blonde and tiny. Not a fan.

CariDee is a wide-eyed blonde and expresses each emotion about 5 times bigger than necessary. Sorry, but no.

Christian wants to be Tyra in a way that I think is a tad unhealthy.

Eugena is one of those girls who is like, "I say what I'm thinking, and it's not my problem if you don't like it." I'm assuming she's only on the show to be a shit-starter. I think she has problem skin.

Jaeda looks older than she is (18) and her face is a bit hard.

Megan has a pixie haircut and seems a bit tough and cool. She has an "Are you serious?" story that she was in a plane crash when she was only a couple years old - they crashed in a snowy area, and her mother died on top of her - the warmth keeping Megan alive. I know!

Megg says that she's "rock and roll" and anyone that says that usually isn't. Yuck.

Melrose looks a bit weird to me, and her personality is too set in its ways to win this competition.

Monique is filling the requisite slot of "African-American girl from a troubled background that will be healed through the power of this show and Tyra's guidance." Also, she's kind of a bitch.

The losing girls cry and are comforted by Tyra. Sorry mother who abandoned your kids - go take care of them. Sorry Ginger - learn how to get comfortable with your naked body.

And with that, the winning girls pile into a huge stretch Escalade limo to their house for the season. As usual, it has Tyra's face plastered everywhere and has a hot tub. The theme of the decoration this year is "Tyra Magazine" which explains the fake issues in the parlor earlier. The wrinkle here is that for some weird reason, there are only 11 beds. So when Monique is one of the ones to not get a bed, she goes on the offensive. She moves Eugena's stuff, and dumps some water on the bed. She then lays on the bed, and when Eugena comes back, Monique says "I peed on it." So she's not only implacable, she's a bit crazy. Eugena finally relents.

The next day, we discover that the girls clearly have no trouble eating, because the kitchen looks like a pigpen. Melrose is not amused as the self-appointed mother hen. So she calls a house meeting. They discuss being respectful, blah, blah. Then when it comes to talking about showers (i.e. if you have 13 girls in one house, you need to be quick), Monique says that she takes long showers and that won't change. You can imagine how this makes the other girls react. (Let's just say that "bitch" comes up in several interviews.)

Finally we move on to the first challenge. The girls see a short runway show of clothes designed by Elmer Ave, all worn by men. Then comes the details - they will each pick a model and strip him of his garments and will then style and do a runway show themselves. The Elmer Ave. guys really want to see "rock and roll." You would think this means that Megg is supposed to win, but she's lame and Melrose wins because she sticks out her tongue. In other news, A.J. looked really awesome, and Anchal was unsure of herself. And one of the girls tripped - I think it was Michelle. Anyway, Melrose will win a prize that she'll find out later.

Fast forward to the first photo shoot. Tyra comes in doing a super-fake "I am a stereotypical diva model" act that the girls find very funny. I only find it funny because it reminds me of Margaret Cho screaming in a way that only she can make truly funny. After she leaves, OJ comes in and says that was the hint that today they will be doing "our most controversial shoot ever" - they will portray model stereotypes. Umm...that is so not controversial at all. Posing with a tarantula? Maybe. Anyway, they get their assignments (which I'll outline below), and head off to get hair and makeup. But as Melrose's prize, she'll get a personal assistant for the afternoon, and a massage.

Some highlights of the photo shoot:

Monique is supposed to be angry and throwing a cell phone at her assistant. But she appears to only be able to throw it one way, across her body. Also, she can't do the angry diva routine very well, which is surprising considering her behavior in the house.

Both Christian and Jaeda have issues with only giving one expression to the camera, no matter how many shots are taken. Not a good sign.

Melrose gets her massage, and then decides after that she'll need to have her makeup retouched, even though it will make her late. When she shows up 10 minutes late, OJ is not amused. (Not that he can show anger very well - I'm guessing Botox.) She gets a warning and they go on with the shoot. Melrose is supposed to be a model that won't get out of bed for less than $10,000. Instead of looking apalled, she just does really bad acting. She sucks.

Back at the house, Melrose worries about she has dropped from winning a challenge to doing so poorly today. How the not-so-mighty have fallen!

And then at last the girls arrive to their first panel judging. They've really spiffed up the room - full of glowy runway floor and everything! Also, the prizes are a bit different this season. Ford Models? No more - it's a new agency. Also the spread will be in Seventeen instead of Elle - perhaps Heidi's show got the corner on that market, eh? And the photo shoot will not be done by that French photographer with the unpronounceable name. But the judges remain - Tyra, Nigel Barker, Ms. J and Twiggy. No guest judge this week. Also there will be no special challenge - we'll move right to the best part - harsh criticism! So here are the girls, in alphabetical order:

AJ was amazing as a casting couch victim. Does she look like Pink in this photo, or what? Surprisingly, AJ doesn't recognize how hot she is here, so she's playing the lack of confidence card early - a cagey move!

Amanda portrayed an anoerxic model who is measuring her waist, thinking she's not skinny enough. She really has the ugly/beautiful thing going on here - well done.

Anchal is all Beyonce' in shimmering gold as a narcissistic model. (I like how they photoshopped in four different shots to make this one. Anchal is also trying to overcome the issue of self-confidence.

Brooke is supposed to be a jealous model, but she looks more like an angry woodland creature. On the right track, but not quite.

CariDee is a dumb blonde, and is portraying a dumb blonde. (rimshot) She actually captures it quite well, although Nigel says her challenge was too easy. Was that a back-handed insult?

Christian is supposed to be a bad actress model, but she just looks...tired? Whatever, it doesn't work.

Eugena is a black model that is trying to "be white." The body? Hot. The face? Like Serena Williams if she took a Xanax. *snore*

Jaeda is a model who's had too much plastic surgery. Apparently she interpreted this to be done as "wax museum." Will someone wake me up?

Ah, I see that Megan will! Megan is a diva model with her lap dog. Very cute, although I think the angle on her legs is a bit off. Still - a very good start!

Megg is portraying a model who's strung out on booze and drugs. And I think the photo is quite good, but as Tyra points out - she is squinting so much that you miss her eyes, which could nail the shot.

Melrose's shot turns out just as OJ said it would - it looks like really bad acting. Moving on...

Michelle actually nailed the shot of the week! She's playing a bulimic model, caught in a bathroom stall gorging. It's really hot and artistic, and she bears more than a passing resemblance to Fiona Apple (around the time of her second album). You go, girl!

(Hey, I just noticed all the girls have names that start with A through M - how odd is that?)

Monique's shot has two issues - the first is her face. She looks less angry, and more like Whitney Houston belting a high note. Also, the assistant is in the foreground of the shot. The judges harp on that, but isn't it the photographer's fault? Or OJ's?

Time for the judges to deliberate, and the girls to sweat. Or, glisten if you will.

Most of the girls get praise. The ones being singled out for falling short are Brooke, Christian, Eugena and Jaeda. Who will they choose?

13 beautiful ladies (I guess "girls" conflicts with the show having nudity), only 12 photos. The first photo goes to...Michelle! Great work, twin #2. The others are handed out, leaving Christian and Melrose to step forward.

Christian, you are boring and trying too hard to be Tyra and not yourself. Melrose, you actually HAD a diva attitude at the shoot, which is unacceptable. But...she'll get one more chance, as she gets the last photo. Melrose collapses on the ground in a completely embarassing way, and Tyra practically has to pull her up - you're SAFE, you twit! And then Christian is sent on her boring way to be boring, perhaps in boring catalogs.

Next week - make-overs! Will Jaeda cut her hair? Do we care?

Pop culture potpurri

Today's post is a mish-mash of various items on my mind lately. So many tidbits, so little time...

First up, a movie. The other day I went to the AFI Theater in Silver Spring to see a special screening of Pedro Almodovar's classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. What I hadn't realized was that this was part of a film festival honoring his work called "Viva Pedro!" They'll be showing 8 films in the coming weeks. First off I should say that the AFI is an excellent place to see a movie if you've never been there. The movie itself was pretty good. It's definitely showing its age (it's from 1988), but the climax of the movie was very hilarious, and the only other person in the theater and I were laughing quite a bit. It's a nice introduction to Pedro's work - I give it a B-. Right now they've started showing Talk To Her, which is excellent and highly recommended.

In the world of music, I picked up the latest Indigo Girls album, Despite Our Differences. Those who know me well are aware that I'm a HUGE fan of the Girls, who have now been recording for an amazing 20 years. I've listened to the album over and over, because I find that I really have to hear the songs often to appreciate them. Their harmonies are complex and the lyrics are dense poetry. But if you give the Girls the time, you will be rewarded. The best song by far is "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate" which features a great guest appearance by Pink. (The Girls actually guested on Pink's album as well, singing on "Dear Mr. President.")

And how about art? A few weeks back I finally got to see the Rousseau exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, and I admit I was disappointed. They had a few great pieces that were in his signature "jungle" style, but none that were really famous, per se. And they really only had about a dozen of those paintings. Don't get me wrong - it was great to see the exhibit - I've just see the Gallery present much more comprehensive displays in the past.

You didn't think I'd leave out TV, did you? On Dancing With The Stars, the men did the quick-step, while the women tackled the mambo. The best performance was a surprise to me - it came from pop singer Willa Ford. She had great energy and sharp twists - well done! For the men, Emmitt Smith continued to be my favorite. He wasn't quite as awesome as last week, but still way up there. In the end, Shanna Moakler (who?) was eliminated, which just goes to show that when you perform a mambo, Kris Kross' "Jump" is not the best choice of music.

This Thursday brought us the much-anticipated season premiere of Grey's Anatomy. It wasn't amazing, but it certainly made me happy to sit down and reconnect with my doctor friends. And fortunately the major focus wasn't on Meredith and her choice of beau. We actually had some nice highlights of Bailey, the chief, and especially Addison. How about that flashback scene with Derek? He was MAD! But I think my favorite scene was Callie in the kitchen trying to explain to Dr. Finn why they are all so screwed up. Maybe after orthopedics she can move into psychiatry?

After that I watched the season premiere of Six Degrees like I mentioned previously. I didn't like it. Perhaps it will pick up as the season progresses, but there just wasn't much interesting that happened. Too many long looks of worry, sadness and indecision from the cast. And the the "twist" at the end was not at all shocking. Of course, there's nothing good on after Grey's anyway, so I may continue to have it on in the background, but it will definitely not be appointment television.

In my next post I'll talk about what I know several of you have been dying to hear - the season premiere recap of America's Next Top Model! It was a 2-hour show, so I need some time to write up all the commentary. Rest assured, the show was really good, and I am hooked once again!

September 18, 2006

Cha-Cha and China

Well week 1 of season premieres has passed, and so let me discuss them! First up we have Dancing with the Stars. I wondered if the bloom would be off this rose, but clearly it's not. It was still great fun. Seeing people doing elegant and romantic dances on TV is still a thrill for me. Shut up! That doesn't make me a dork, it just makes me CULTURED.

There is a bevy of stars this year that range from B-list (Vivica Fox) to "Who's that?" (Shanna Moakler). This first week the women danced the Foxtrot, and the men did the Cha-Cha.

Some real pleasant surprises and strong contenders emerged. Emmitt Smith (NFL star) had great charisma, solid rhythm, and a surprising dexterity. I'm willing to bet he had some ballet training back when he played football! He was by far the best - so adorable! Also impressive were Vivica Fox (sleek in a purple gown) and Mario Lopez (could he BE anymore gay?). The judges also liked Joey Lawrence, but I thought he was just OK. (And what's with the shaved head? I swear, I'm expecting any minute he's going to change his name to Joseph Lawrence, a'la Deborah Gibson.)

Jerry Springer will be filling the "suave old guy" role this season. He was actually not terrible.

But there was some bad stuff out there. Harry Hamlin (who should have learned something from wife Lisa Rinna last season) was stiff as the Tin Man. Sara Evans was pretty dull. The worst, though, was Tucker Carlson, and he received the much-deserved boot the next evening. I guess America likes their conservative pundits on news programs and not the dance floor. Also if I may be catty for a moment, Tucker has tucked away one too many cream puffs, if you catch my drift, and I think you do.

Meanwhile, last night was the exciting premiere to The Amazing Race! As soon as it started I got a little giddy and forgot how much I missed it. I think the ending last season was so disappointing for me I needed to fall in love again. Done!

One thing I love about the casting this time around is they took the opposite approach from Survivor - there are plenty of people from various ethnic groups, but they all just get to interact on their own. Novel, no? So here's a rundown of the teams as I see them so far:

Bilal and Sa'eed are best friends and devout Muslims (longish beards and all). Bilal is a bit louder and more aggressive. They mention that they will stop to do their prayers daily, which you could see would be risky race strategy, but you can admire their devotion.

David and Mary - oh my. Well, they (on the surface) could appear to represent the redneck population. He's a coal miner, she's the supposedly submissive wife. Biggest issue for me with these two is their teeth! Pretty scary. I found myself hoping a challenge would involve seeing a foreign dentist for a cleaning.

Duke is the father of Lauren. They had been estranged because she came out to him as a lesbian. But they are rebuilding their relationship, and how better to do that than travel the world together?

Dustin is a woman and the reigning Miss California. Her friend is Kandice, the reigning Miss New York (and a Rockette). They are very blond and smile a lot.

Erwin and Godwin are Asian-American brothers from California. They are both Ivy League educated.

Friends Kellie and Jamie are cheerleaders, and reinforce quite a few stereotypes from the get-go. I'm waiting for when they land on the mat and do a cheer - "P-H-I-L spells PHIL!!!"

Lyn and Karlyn (that could get confusing) are African-American single moms and friends. They are a bit too grumpy and angry this early on for my taste.

Peter and Sarah have a rather odd relationship. She was born with one very short leg, so she wears a prosthesis. He's her clinical prosthetist. And they recently started dating. It really sounds like she's more into him than the other way around. We shall see.

Rob and Kimberly are my least favorite type of couple on this show - the ones that aren't sure if they should get married - so they go on a high-pressure reality show. Brilliant, no?

Tom and Terry are gay boyfriends from New York City and they also are enforcing some stereotypes, as their introduction shows them getting manicures. As long as neither of them screams "Mother!" and throws confetti, I guess we'll be OK.

Tyler and James are pretty boy models, but they originally met because they were drug addicts in recovery. Now they are friends. So expect them to tell you constantly how they have overcome so much.

Vipul and Arti are the other married couple and are Indian-American. They are pleasant and non-threatening. She is gorgeous.

So...on with the Race! This season they began in Seattle and made their way to Beijing. It's surprising how hard it was for many of them to find the airport. I can tell you from being there that although Seattle is pretty big, there is like one main highway, and it runs right through the middle of town, so it's not hard to find. At the airport, everyone is surprisingly very nice to each other! We do learn that although Bilal is friendly, he can't shake a woman's hand because of his religion. You'd think that would have off-put Kellie, but she was very good-natured about it. What's with these people? Where's the indignation? (Not that she SHOULD be upset, it's just odd to find a reality show contestant to be so open-minded.)

Ah, indignation of another kind shows up in China, where Karlyn is irritated with Sarah - one minute she plays up her disability (like in getting a cab), other times she's "just like anyone else." Although Karyln is rather bitchy about it, she has a point, and you can see Sarah acting like that throughout the episode.

Speaking of Sarah, she runs into a major snag right away - her artifical knee is leaking hydraulic fluid. Where does one buy that in Beijing?

At the start, Phil warned that there would be twists, turns and surprises. Boy, was he not kidding. At the end of the first day, the last one to arrive was eliminated, even though it wasn't a pit stop! Sadly that ends up being Bilal and Sa'eed, so we won't get to see them anymore. I was definitley disappointed.

The girly-girls performed pretty strongly, which is nice to see. Although the beauty queens had a real struggle finding the restaurant for the first Roadblock. The place was called "Gold House," and they run around all over asking people where it is. ScottE and I joked that asking for a Chinese restaurant with Gold in the name is like finding a needle in a haystack - Gold Chopstick, Golden Bowl, Golden Wall...

What was most surprising was how David and Mary got along very well with the other teams, and were not really annoying! Sure, they bickered a bit. But I was happy to see that I wanted them to do well! Go Kentuckians!

And can we just say - scaling the Great Wall of China? Sign me up!

Sadly at the end there was another elimination, and Vipul and Arti were the victims after it took them far too long to find a pedi-cab station. They were good and drama-free about it.

So that's the fate of this Race - you never know who will do well and who won't! I guess I'm just hoping that this isn't another season where the final teams are people that are pretty and young (e.g. Tyler and James).

Next week - fun with hooved animals!

Also a programming note - for some reason Project Runway will not have a new episode this week. I know - I'm sad, too! But I guess that means I can put my focus on the Top Model premiere.

September 15, 2006

Deja Fools

So when we last left our Project Runway designers, they said good-bye to Vincent with very little remorse, as he headed off to go design for Lazy-Boy. And as we tune into Atlas Apartments, Kayne "laments" Vincent's departure, but I believe the Sarcasm Meter is beeping. Meanwhile in the ladies' apartment, Laura is taking the criticsm she received last week pretty hard. Uli does her best to console her roommate.

At the runway Heidi pops out to offer...not much. They will find out their next challenge at a party being hosted by L'Oreal. All she'll say is there will be "special guests." You can tell the designers are suspicious, because a "party" has not always been a good situation for them in the past!

The designers head off to the party at a place called "The Pink Elephant," which is a name that requires no further comment. Interestingly, I think this is the same place they had the party last season with Nicky Hilton. Heidi enters, and says it's time to meet the first guest. And to their horror (and mine, and I'm sure yours), in walks Vincent. I start to have nightmare visions that they will be designing for Vincent as their client. "I want something that turns me on." Eww! And the other guest? Angela. To which I say - damn rosettes.

Clearly Angela has no idea what's going on, so Heidi explains. Throughout the season they have hinted that winning challenges would "have a benefit that will be revealed in a future challenge" - and this is it. All designers that won a challenge have the opportunity to return for this week, and if he/she wins, he/she will be back in the game, so to speak. What's interesting from Tim's podcast is that this was always the plan, so technically Keith would have been brought back as well, but due to his rules violation, he wasn't allowed to do so. Anyway, the final point is that three designers will be out after this challenge. So if Vincent or Angela wins (HA!) two of the final five will be out. This is a future too horrific to mention, and there are some really queasy stomachs in the room. Heidi then announces the challenge - create a cocktail dress using only black and white fabrics. Since this puts everyone on the same color palette, the real challenge will be silhouette and styling. Then she sends in the models so they can all reconnect and get drunk in the morning (SCORE!).

In the apartments (I guess they had a pit stop there), Laura and Angela are having a discussion/arguement. Laura points out (quite correctly) that unlike Vincent, Angela did not win an individual challenge. She thinks that "some people" (i.e. herself) could be upset about that. Angela looks all shocked and surprised and disagrees. But whatever, we know that despite her bitchy attitude here, Laura is right that she and Michael are pretty much the main reason Angela won the INC challenge.

Back at the workroom, Tim reiterates the challenge, and adds a final twist - they must use ALL of their fabric in their design. So they really need to plan carefully. Talk about ratcheting up the tension! I kind of hate this twist, honestly. Angela asks the pertinent question - "Do we have to use black AND white?" The answer is yes. Remember that. Anyway, they get 15 minutes to sketch, then it's off to the warm comforts of Mood.

And then it's...F1 time! They cut, they sew, they drape. The first thing is that Vincent discovers that he has half a yard more fabric than he asked for (or so he says). Wow, that just breaks my heart. Except not. You will be shocked to hear that Jeffrey rips on Angela while she's not in the room. Ah, back to old times. Meanwhile, Michael is looking at Kayne's outfit with a worried expression. He tries to offer some advice, but as usual Kayne listens, but doesn't incorporate. It's a little hard to tell at the moment what the issue is, but you'll see later.

Later in the day Tim brings in the models for an intial fitting. The main thing here is that Laura's model (Camilla) is trying to help her make the look younger - it looks like lace on fabric. They talk about changing the sleeves, and what I love here is how Camilla is really trying to help Laura improve the design.

Day 2, and a lot more F1. Not much to say throughout the day, except Laura seems to be getting pretty tired. Tim finally shows up for his critiques, which will mostly consist of asking them how they'll use their extra fabric. Tim responds well to Uli's design, and that she has decided to turn the extra fabric into a large necklace. Tim's definitely fond of what Michael is doing. With Jeffrey there is a question about leggings. LEGGINGS? Pardon me, but isn't this a challenge to design a COCKTAIL dress? Since apparently you've only been to beer bashes, let me spell it out for you Jeff - short, cute, and maybe frilly. Leggings are none of those.

With Vincent, Tim is exasperated, presumably because he thought he'd never have to deal with this freakshow again. He really pushes Vincent on the extra fabric, and Vincent eventually decides he'll do a shawl wrap. With Kayne, we get Tim's Furrowed Brow of Doom. The basic question - where's the white? The design is all black at the moment. Kayne holds up some wimpy trim, which Tim identifies as that - trim, not fabric in the design. Make it work, Kayne!

And then Laura. Although Tim doesn't really offer her any negative criticism, she starts to tear up, saying she "can't sit here designing for the Olsen twins." Well thank goodness, because you'd have a helluva lot of extra fabric. Laura then interviews in what turns into a total meltdown. And let me sum it up - hormones. This poor woman is finishing her first trimester, when a woman's body is raging harder than a Metallica concert. I think the combination of that, exhaustion, challenge stress and the recent criticism from the judges have created a perfect storm in the normally implacable Laura. Buck up, lil' camper!

Collier Strong is back to consult on their hair and makeup looks. It appears Amanda will be sporting purple eye shadow, and Camilla will have some really bright pink cheeks and lips to give a younger look.

Day 3, and a touch of F1. Then finally, it's time for hair and makeup, which we know is a bit more important this time. BUT - there's an issue. Vincent's model (Gia) was in an accident. She'll be OK, but certainly can't walk today. So at the last minute they got...Javi. Javi the she-man. This leads to some rather funny (for me) scenes of muscle-bound Javi trying to squeeze into the dress, breaking the zipper. Vincent feebly tries to sew it shut. And off to the runway!

Heidi introduces the judges, which include designer Zac Posen, who I feel like was a guest judge in a previous season. Michael and Nina are there, so the balance of the universe isn't off. On with the show!

First let's look at Kayne's dress. From the front, it's simple but nice. All in black, it covers her in a form-fitting way from the shoulders part way down the arm and to the knee all in one piece. Simple, but chic. The back is very open, and we see the problem. There is a simple ribbon-like ring of white fabric around the back that just looks arbitrary and odd. Not impressed.

Michael chose to do his dress mostly in white, as the others were focused on black. It's again a one-piece dress from shoulder to knee, but the top is asymmetrical, so it's an off-the-shoulder look on one side. Across the middle is a wide black belt with some detailing on it. Nazri is sporting huge hoop earrings, and carrying an adorable black purse. As usual, Michael has created a look that is hot, hip and "now."

Uli has chosen a print (of course), this time what looks like black and white paisley. The loose-fitting dress is tight in the bodice (there's some interesting construction with black fabric there), and the sleeves hang down the sides to match the length of the dress. They also bell out a bit at the wrist. And over it all is a large necklace that looks like the fabric has been twisted around balls of various sizes.

Laura's dress is babydoll shaped - with mini-cap sleeves and no waist, ending well above the knee. It looks like black lace on top of white fabric. At the bottom the detailing is quite nice - she has woven strips of black fabric that hang loosely below the hem, and there is a lot of shiny beading. It almost looks like the lace pattern is deconstructing into strips. Laura says it reminds her of Josephine Baker style, and I totally get that.

Jeffrey...what the hell? It makes no sense. I'm not sure I can even describe it. It's this print fabric that shifts from white on top to black on the bottom with dots in the middle. It's bunched at the waist with a huge white belt. And below that the (completely detached) black leggings. If anyone showed up to a cocktail party I was hosting like that, I'd tell them the whores walk down K Street at night, so head over there.

And Vincent's dress can go to the same place. The top is a reverse pleating (like a cumberbund) in white, over a far-too short skirt (which I think even on Gia would have been short). The wrap makes no sense and just is there. Heinous.

Angela had a good idea gone bad. The top is a bolero-type hood over a simple black dress. But of course she has put those damn rosettes anywhere she could. They line the trim of the dress in black, and a ton of them in white fill the hood. She looks like the inside of a coffin.

During the judges' comments, they like Laura's and Michael's pretty clearly. With Kayne, where's the white? Although they do like the front. With Jeffrey, it just doesn't make sense - can he do anything that's NOT rock n' roll? Where is the elegance, asks Nina. vincent's dress is called out as being for a streetwalker. Angela - no comment. Uli gets pretty harsh criticism for the length of her sleeves - even if they were shorter, the judges aren't sure it would work. And they really don't like the necklace. As for others and their extra fabric, Laura had just enough and covered her purse in it. Michael had extra, so he lined the purse "several times." Angela just shoved hers in her purse. She says it was to create volume and give it shape, but it's really just a cheap excuse. The fact that they don't really hold them accountable for these things is why I hated that twist. Dumb.

In the deliberations, Michael is once again praised for really considering the whole look from hair to jewelry to fit. They really like that Laura finally (in Nina's words) designed something that wasn't what Laura would wear. With Kayne they like that he listened to them about scaling back - but is it too little too late? Can Jeffrey do anything else? Will Luke marry Laura? Whoops - wrong show!

First up they announce the winner which is...Laura! Hooray! She really was on a roller coaster this week, and I'm pleased she came out of it so well. But that of course means Vincent and Angela will be out, again. Thankfully, for our collective sanity. Michael is in. Now I start to sweat bullets a bit - could my dear Uli be in danger? But no, she is not - she's in too. That leaves Kayne (Where's the white?) and Jeffrey (Me love you long time!). Kayne? You're out. Aww...but it was bound to happen. He gets a nice hug from Jeff, and graciously makes a classy exit. He certainly has nothing to fear, as pageant girls from across the country will be clamoring to his side for years to come.

Next week - the final 3 who will go to Fashion Week are selected! Who will it be? As much as I love her, I'm afraid that Laura's days are numbered. If Jeff pulls out something classy in the next challenge, I expect that will be all it takes to keep him in. Michael is a shoe-in. And despite some small mis-steps, I think the judges want to see what Uli can do with a whole line of prints. But who knows? I also thought Nick would make it last season. Stay tuned!

Question of the week - which of the other designers would you have wanted to see have a hand at this challenge? You can pick from Alison, Bradley, Bonnie, Katie, Stacey, Robert or Keith.

Also, I'd like to give a shout-out to a fun new blog I found written by Capitol Hill Barbie. We share a mutual love for Project Runway, and she writes some great recaps. Best line ever: "Then there is Vincent. First of all, there was so much glue on his dress that horses would be afraid to go near it." Hee! Check out her blog, I'm sure you'll love it like I do.

September 11, 2006


I know it's been awhile since I've done some movie reviews, so this will be my "catch-up" post. We'll discuss a few movies currently in theaters, and several on video.

Last night ScottE and I had an impromptu date night of dinner (at Annie's Steakhouse) and a movie. We went to see Another Gay Movie, because sometimes you just need to see something fun. And it was! Great fun. This is one film that does not try in any way to have a message or socially redeeming value. Instead it's spot-on parody of the grossest variety. There's not much I really feel comfortable putting in print here, so let's just say there's a lot of gay sex, a lot of nudity (rear and full-frontal), and more than you straight folks probably ever wanted to know about! I'm not sure if there's an audience out there for it, but you do in fact see Richard Hatch's...little Richard, so to speak. Grab your best gay pal and go prepared to laugh and squirm! My rating - A-!

Last week we caught a show of Little Miss Sunshine right after Stef saw it. This was a movie that I liked, but didn't love. Actually I had no real issue with it - it just wasn't in my "huge favorites" list, y'know? All the characters are delightfully quirky - from the son who's taken a vow of silence to the grandfather who snorts heroin. And am I a little out there if I say that Steve Carell is really hot? Best part of this movie without question is the van when the horn starts going off...heh. My rating - B.

Based on a recommendation from Lord and Lady B, we rented two videos recently. The first was V for Vendetta, and I just loved it, much to my surprise. I guess I just didn't know what to expect. Natalie Portman - not annoying! Hugo Weaving - cool, not creepy! The storyline is engaging, and the visuals are on such a grand and impressive scale. It made me want to get out there and celebrate Guy Fawkes Day myself. Grade A!

The other movie was a Spike Lee joint - Inside Man. It was definitely good, although I think I personally was too focused on the bank robbery and a potential twist. Instead I should have realized that the movie is really about the conversation and relationships between the characters - how they love/hate/resent each other, and especially the frank comments on race. Denzel Washington is wonderful, as always. He and Jodi Foster spar in a way that is just divine - love her! And of course Clive Owen is yummy enough to eat with a spoon. I give this one a B+.

Also that week I picked up a random gay flick, assuming it would suck. (Secret tip - 90% of all gay movies are terrible, and we know it. I guess it goes with the whole "10% of the population" thing.) Much to our surprise, Adam & Steve was not only funny, it was often hilarious. The movie features Malcom Gets (formerly of TV's Caroline and the City) as well as Parker Posey and Chris Kattan. Synopsis - 2 men have a tragically bad date in the 80s, and then meet each other again years later, not realizing they had met before. Hilarity ensues. Other than one real gross-out moment, this one can be fun for all - I give it an A-.

We have quite a few films lined up to see in the coming weeks - Babel, The Black Dahlia, and Shortbus. Stay tuned!

September 09, 2006

Locked and loaded

The fall TV season is upon us! Thanks to updates from Entertainment Weekly, I'm ready and rarin' to go. So here's a list of premiere dates for shows on my short list.

Also, as mentioned by Stef on my previous post, ABC has instilled enough confidence in Ugly Betty to move it to the Thursday 8 p.m. slot before Grey's Anatomy. So great news for that show, but I'll have to wait until re-run time to get my dose of "Oh, snap!" on My Name Is Earl.

One other tidbit missed in my previous post - the main reason I'm attracted to watching ABC's Six Degrees is because of two of the stars - Hope Davis and Campbell Scott. Love!

Premiere dates (note that in many cases the first show will be longer than usual):

Dancing With the Stars - Tuesday, Sept. 12th, 8 - 10 p.m. ABC
(results show follows on Wednesday as usual)

The Amazing Race - Sunday, Sept. 17th, 8:30 - 10 p.m. CBS

America's Next Top Model - Wednesday, Sept. 20th, 8 - 9 p.m. CW

Grey's Anatomy - Thursday, Sept. 21st, 9 - 10 p.m. ABC

Six Degrees - Thursday, Sept. 21st, 10 - 11 p.m. ABC

Heroes - Monday, Sept. 25th, 9 - 10 p.m. NBC

Ugly Betty - Thursday, Sept. 28th - 8 - 9 p.m. ABC

Lost - Wednesday, Oct. 4th, 9 - 10 p.m. ABC

The Nine - Wednesday, Oct. 4th, 9 - 10 p.m. ABC

And for those still watching Big Brother All-Stars, the finale is this Tuesday, but you can watch it the next day on Innertube. I'm actually not sure who will win this, but I'm hoping for Erika. A world in which Mike Boogie is able to gloat is not a happy one.

Couture cruise (as opposed to Suri)

When we last left our Project Runway designers, they had just set foot in Paris, and said good-bye to Angela and her fleurchons (a.k.a. damn rosettes). But there is no time to talk about her - Catherine Malandrino is ready to give the designers their next challenge. They will need to design a couture gown, and their models (assigned French ones) will walk at a party Catherine will be giving.

But first, the designers will get to relax a bit. After settling into their hotel rooms, Tim takes them on a pleasant stroll down the Seine and to dinner. Everyone is quite cheery.

The next day, Tim takes them on a further stroll, eventually landing at the Sacre Coeur area. The designers get some time to sketch their ideas, before heading off to shop in a fabric store. One interesting tidbit from Tim's podcast is this store sold all types of fabric - including those you might...I dunno...upholster furniture with. Keep that in mind.

This would be an appropriate time for a little cultural lesson. "Couture" is like "champagne" - it's a term for a very specific French thing that you must be licensed to say you do. In this case it's a type of dressmaking that requires intricate beading and handiwork. So as Tim clarifies for us, the designers here are really making something that is done with "couture techniques" but not in fact true couture gowns.

Back in the hot workroom of Parsons Paris, the designers start to F1. Since things move pretty quickly this episode, not much is shown to us during the F1 period. But the designers express their various emotions in voiceover interviews. Michael is concerned because he has little experience doing hand sewing. Jeff is of course brimming with confidence.

On day 2 during some F1 time (where Kayne is apparently out of the room), Laura expresses to Jeff and Uli that she is concerned that Kayne will get criticized this week, and she's sorry to see that because he's such a good guy. Aww! This, I think, proves my theory that the supposed animosity between the two of them was all manufactured for TV.

Eventually Tim shows up to check in. His concern with Kayne is that his bodice (a gold mesh fabric) is too sheer, and you can see the boning through it (that's a term for hard structural supports, you perverts). With Jeff, he just doesn't get it - looks like a big pile of yellow and plaid. With Laura, he is worried that all her work is centered on one thing - the collar. He seems to like what Uli has planned. Tim is definitely worried that Michael will run out of time. And for Vincent, he questions what, if anything will be hand-sewn on the dress. Vincent replies that he will be hand sewing the hem. Lame! What's worse is that just before Tim leaves, he notices that Vincent is not in fact sewing it - he's glueing it! Based on the fact that Vincent didn't do anything by hand, I think he should be eliminated. You suck, crazy man! Vincent interviews that he doesn't care that Tim isn't happy - "it turns me on." SHUT UP!!!

Anywho, eventually the French models come in to be fitted and ready for the party. As Tim anticipated, Michael is sewing right up to the bell. Eek!

As the designers and models stroll to the unknown location of the party, a truly unbelieveable thing happens - some crazy French woman throws eggs at them! And tragically, one of them splatters on the bottom of Michael's design. You suck, crazy French lady!

Craziness aside, they all eventually make it to the party, which will be on a large boat going down the Seine. And now - walk it, ladies!

Despite Tim's objections, I actually like Kayne's design. The strapless bodice has lovely detail in gold. (Yes, it's a bit sheer, but from a distance you can barely tell.) At the back, the bodice is laced up asymmetrically. The skirt has a sheer black fabric draped over a golden yellow fabric. It opens pretty high up over the left leg.

Next we have Uli's design, which is stunning. Although she stuck to some of her basic design choices (empire waist, braided fabric around the bodice and as straps), this time the fabric is a grey silk charmeuse. The real detail is over the breasts, where she's done some fine beadwork. It looks like "Uli - dressed up for high society."

Jeffrey's dress is one that looks far better on a person than on a dressform. It's a mass of bunched yellow fabric with plaid, mixed with a yellow madras print. It opens very high over the right leg, and is halter style. It's certainly rather French, I think.

Michael's design is a simple silhouette that's hourglass shaped with straps. The bodice area is covered in ruching, but the odd thing is sort of inverted half-moons over the breasts. The color is periwinkle. It's not awesome, but it's by no means horrible.

Laura has gone with her preferred cut - a deep V-neck that goes nearly to the waist. The main fabric is a heavy black velvet. But the collar and wrists have layers of poofy white fabric. As the model walks the boat, the breeze really helps that white move around in a way that's visually interesting. I'm intrigued.

And finally Vincent's couch. I mean dress. Well, it's hard to tell, because the skirt looks like what your grandmother's couch was covered in for most of the early 70s. Heavy, golden, heavy print. Heinous! The top is a deep V-neck with cap sleeves in a nude silk. But I barely notice because at the lower back is a huge DAMN ROSETTE! In the upholstery! Suck, suck, suck.

Sorry, I'm better now. Catherine scores the gowns, and then Tim says he will take her scorecards back to NYC, where they will refit their regular models to walk for the regular judges. But in the meantime - enjoy the cruise! And they do. Paris at night is just lovely. And yet, it's ruined because Vincent the Ickmeister hits on Catherine in a way that is so disgusting. (P.S. He's married, y'know.)

In no time we're back in New York and the designers are fitting their own models. It does appear that travel was a factor here, and it's unfortunate that it wasn't mentioned ahead of time. Laura's dress in particular didn't travel well - the poofs have no poof left.

BEFORE (at left)

AFTER (below)

So I won't review this second runway, except to note two things. First, as I mentioned, Laura's dress has no poof, so it looks really flat. But worse, almost as if she was choosing to emphasize the fact, Laura has styled her model with flat hair that features overly long bangs. She looks a bit like she's from the national tour of Rocky Horror.

Also of note is that Jeff's model (Marilinda) WORKS THE HELL out of her dress. She gives all that flowy yellow some real life, and suddenly I get it. His design actually works, and I turn to ScottE to say, "If he wins this challenge, it's because of her."

Judging! We have Heidi, we have Michael, we have Nina. Also we have Richard Tyler, who coincidentally designed the new Delta flight attendant outfits that we saw last week. Let's chat with them, shall we?

They love Jeffrey's - it's got a lot going on, but has real movement. They also like Uli's, precisely because it is both true to her style, but also to the challenge at hand. They asked for something else, she delivered. With Kayne they SEEM to like it, but the boning question does come up.

Clearly the issues are with the other three. Vincent's fabric - what gives? Also, Nina thinks the top is on backwards. With Michael, they just think the bodice is too much. Interestingly, they ask what would happen if you tucked in those half-moons. He does, and suddenly it looks really good. Amazing how simple that was! And as I said, Laura's dress is just flat, flat, flat. Michael Kors says it's too old, and maybe Morticia Adams. Ouch!

The judges caucus, and reiterate many of those opinions, but Heidi reads Catherine's funny comments also. The best is for Vincent's. "She writes, 'No, no, no, no, no.'" Hee!

And now it's judging time. The winner is...Jeffrey. I called it! But Uli should have won it. Regardless, she's in. Kayne is in, and so is Michael. So we're left with Laura who went too old and simple, and Vincent who...thought he was designing for a loveseat, I guess. Laura? You're in. Yay! So crazy Vincent is auf'd. And none too soon - he mentions once more that he's proud of his design because it turns him on. SHUT UP YOU #(*$@)(*#!!!!

Next week - is Laura poised for a hormonal breakdown? And did I hear "The Olsen Twins"? How do you design for a Size -2?

September 04, 2006

A moment of silence for the Crocodile Hunter

Say what you will about him, he was a television icon, and there was a time when I thought he was the bee's knees.

Setting aside the whole baby & crocodile incident, I send condolences to his wife and kids.

September 02, 2006

French fried

I was pondering why it was taking me a bit to get up the gumption to do my weekly recap of Project Runway. I finally realized that it just wasn't the best episode in my opinion (especially after how awesome last week was). But, in the interest of my readership, I'll still give you the whole enchilada! Or for more witty commentary, look here.

When we last left our designer friends (and foes), Robert was sent home for being more dull than a C-SPAN marathon. Kayne interviews that he will miss how Robert made him laugh. But it's time to move on! And so we do. Jeff interviews and says nasty things about Angela and her mom. In fact, it's such a recurring theme this week, that we'll call that F3.

At the runway, Heidi tells them that in this week's challenge they will be designing for a "hip international jetsetter." And now it's time to select models. Remember them? Well don't get used to it. Oops! Spoiler. Anyway, this is another week of having 2 too many models, so when all the designers stick with who they had, the models paired with Alison and Robert are sent packing (Danielle and Alexandra).

In the workroom, Tim reiterates the task, and then surprises them that the jetsetter - is each of them. So they will design for themselves and model their own designs. Well, this should be interesting. (But I'm starting to really miss Nazri being all fierce.) They have 15 minutes to sketch.

Angela is a little flustered, as she's barely traveled outside Ohio, and never outside the US. Neither has Kayne. How eerily prophetic... After shopping at Mood, it's time to F1! Things are a bit odd this time around, because at least for the men, they can't use that busty dress form. So what does Vincent do? He takes off his pants to do a "rub off" (trace a pattern from his own pants). I'm surprised this is allowed, but I suppose the fabric choice is his, or whatever. Anywho, if you have fantasized about seeing Vincent in his boxers, this is your chance. (Eww!)

Also during this time, Jeff F3's. She argues back a bit, although remarkably calmly. He F3's. F3, F3, F3.

This is another 1-day work period, so things move fast and furious with the F1. At one point we see Kayne shirtless (not too bad, but he's retained some of that extra skin from losing 100+ pounds). Also we see that Angela can't help from using those damn rosettes, OF COURSE.

When Tim stops by, he likes what Jeff has done with his jacket. He thinks that Uli has quite a few patterns going on. He likes the clean look of Laura's dress. He's impressed by the good tailoring on Vincent's pants. With Kayne, he is concerned that his shirt will come off as "Elvis" - more on that later. And with Angela he's worried about the fabric choice in her shorts - does it really say "jetsetter"? With Michael, he was hoping to wear his own plain white t-shirt under his jacket, but that won't fly - he'll have to make one. Time pressure!

Before you know it, the day of F1 (and F3, for that matter) is over. Back at the apartments, Michael reveals that he has done some modeling in the past. So he gives Kayne some pointers. Kayne makes a moronic white trash vs. ghetto remark that isn't worth repeating.

The next day it's a very early start. The designers get just 30 minutes to do hair, makeup and F1. While most have fun with their hair, Michael (who has a shaved head) takes the time to finish his t-shirt.

And now we're at the runway! Heidi addresses the judges, because of course there are no contestants there. We have Michael, we have Nina, and we have Francisco Costa, who is the Creative Director for Calvin Klein Woman. On with the show!

Michael looks great - his pants are white seersucker cargo, and have added straps that hang down on the sides. There is also some bling on the belt, so it's a good hip-hop feel. His top is like a short-sleeve motorcycle jacket in white, loosely open to reveal the plain white t-shirt beneath. It's a good look - very much what you'd see the rich hip-hop moguls like P.Diddy in.

Laura not only has a lovely dress, but she looks stunning - we've never seen her hair down and styled - it's gorgeous! Her dress is a knee-length halter made of nude jersey fabric. It wraps doubly around the waist, tied at the back. It's just wonderful.

Uli has a halter-style that's all in prints in a myriad of colors. Below the hips there are 5 horizontal sections of various prints. It's a lot to look at, but I still like it. Clearly Uli is uncomfortable modeling, as she walks stiffly down the runway

Jeff has something that you'd see the Rolling Stones in. The jacket is shiny purple velvet, covering a black t-shirt with a big bejewelled skull on it. The pants are tight in stretch black, with some provocative jewelry sewn down the zipper area - it made me think of S&M, honestly. Overall it's not bad, but I would never wear it.

Kayne is Elvis. Seriously. He has a black shirt that over the back has a colorful butterfly print sewn across it that comes up over the shoulder. This is over straight black pants, and he has big sunglasses on, with spiky hair. He does a bit of pimp walking, and I seriously wonder if he thinks this is Graceland or Vegas.

*snore* Oh, I'm sorry - that was Vincent that came down the runway. It was so boring, I...OK, FINE. It's a v-cut sweater over pants. Both black. And he walks like he's in a slow march towards death. BORING!

Angela just misses the mark. She has a magenta tank over long brown shorts (which have f-ing rosettes on the ass). She's carrying one of her ugly rosette-ed bags. The problem is the whole thing is in silk fabrics, so it's already pretty wrinkled.

The judges bring them out for a chat. They love Michael's. Mr. Kors isn't wild about the knot in Laura's back (how can you sit on that?), but says you could tie it in front, so that's all good. They really like Jeff's because it's so "him." Vincent is dull, Kayne is Elvis, Angela is wrinkled. They don't dislike Uli's - they are just concerned that it's too tropical in style (I guess concerned that you can't jetset to Siberia in it), but their main concern is that it's yet another halter dress in a print - can she do anything else? I'm worried.

Then Heidi tells them that before they determine who wins and who is out - they want to see if these garments really do travel well. So they will all be leaving on a jetplane - NOW! Back to your apartments - you have 1 hour to get to the airport! (Which I think is a tad unrealistic - you can't get to any airport in Manhattan that fast, I don't think.)

The designers scramble, grabbing the plane tickets off their beds, which have no destination. Intrigue! On the way to the airport, they wonder where they could be headed - it could be Milan, or it could just be New Jersey. But at JFK, they discover that it's actually Paris. Angela shrieks with joy. For now. (Sorry! Damn spoilers.)

On the plane (which turns out to be a set-up - check it out on Tim's podcast), they love that they're in first-class, and toast with champagne. Tim arrives to go with them, which is most exciting for all of them. (And I have to say, Tim holds his champagne with two hands in about the gayest way possible, but I still love him 4evah.) Jeff humorously comments that he doesn't know what he'll do when he won't have Tim randomly popping up in his day. OK, I'll give him that one - heh.

Fast forward to the designers arriving in Paris, where they travel to an unknown destination. Along the way, they pass the Eiffel Tower, which Angela and Kayne drool over. Laura, who is internationally cultured apparently, says that Paris in person is just so much better than what you see in pictures. (That's true.)

And finally they arrive at...Parsons Paris! Yes, in fact Parsons has been in Paris for decades, as Tim can tell you. Inside they see the workroom which they soon figure out has only 6 stations. That's right kids - someone is about to be eliminated. Tim introduces the final judge - designer Catherine Malandrino. She will be judging how well the designs traveled a trans-Atlantic flight. Time to walk the runway...or, well...the room. All of the designers interview that they thought their garments traveled great, except Angela (tragic foreshadowing).

After Catherine tallies, she gives comments. She likes all of them, except Kayne (off the mark) and Angela ("You are not of this world." - HA!). And then it's time for Tim to announce who's in and out. Laura is in, and so is Vincent. Then he tells them it was a very tough choice between Michael and Jeff for the win - but Jeff wins. Bleh. So that leaves Angela and Kayne. Angela? You're out. So after just arriving in Paris, Angela has to head home. Jeff interviews F3. (Tim reveals that she actually got to spend the remainder of the day and night in Paris, so don't weep too much.)

Next week - it looks like real models! And the judges appear to be there, so maybe they came to Paris also?

Question of the Week! If you were going to jetset off to an international destination just for a day and night, where would you go?

September 01, 2006

Heading for a fall; season, that is

Yes, your calendar is not deceiving you - tomorrow is September! And with September comes the new fall TV season, which you know is big news around here. I'm sure that makes you wonder what this author will be watching?

Well a big decision-maker for me will be EW's fall TV preview, which hasn't landed in my mailbox just yet. But I listen to the buzz and browse website previews, so I have a good idea so far. Here's a preliminary schedule for me, which I'll probably update for you as we get closer to mid-September.


With Grey's Anatomy moving out of this night, I'm more than happy to have The Amazing Race move in. Last season was a little uneven for me, but it's still one of the best reality shows out there, and I will certainly be tuning in and writing about it here. But it is disappointing to have it go up against The Simpsons.


The one thing really piquing my interest on this usually dull night is a show that I heard about in a recent bTalk podcast. NBC has a new one called Heroes, which will examine what happens when some ordinary people discover they suddenly have extraordinary powers. So it's a little bit like superhero lore, but the look and feel are pretty sleek. I'm intrigued, and willing to give this a shot.


I can't resist the pull of Dancing With The Stars, which will suck me in once again. The results show will now be up against Top Model, so I won't watch that, which is fine. An hour-long results show will lots of filler isn't the part I loved - I'll just find out online who won each week.


Once again, hump day will be a busy one for this blogger. The night will begin with America's Next Top Model, which should be fierce as usual - I saw a commercial that shows they will have a set of identical twins this time around. My weekly reviews will be here, as you've come to expect! I'm sad to report that a show I was looking forward to, NBC's 30 Rock, will also be in that tight 8 p.m. hour, which means I will have to miss it! After that (at 9 p.m.), of course I'll be watching the best show on TV - Lost. You know we have to talk about that one! After that, I'm curious about trying ABC's new show The Nine. I guess I'm not even sure what it's about, but the commercials are pretty good, and you know I like the ensemble dramas now. And when the next season rolls around, Project Runway will continue to round out my night.


ABC has tried an interesting tactic, moving Grey's Anatomy to Thursday nights. But considering CBS is dead to me on Thursdays anyway, I will follow. After that, I may try ABC's follow-up, Six Degrees. Hopefully it won't be another shlock romantic dramedy. I will probably try to catch some episodes of My Name Is Earl and The Office when I can.


With nothing else to watch on this usually dead night, I look forward to trying ABC's Ugly Betty. After my love for The Devil Wears Prada, how can I resist a show about the fashion industry?


Give me a break, no one programs on Saturdays anymore. Stay up late and see if SNL is any good that week.

Also there will be some mid-season returning favorites that will be on my docket - Reba, Supernanny and Scrubs.

At least each of the major networks is getting a little love from me. CBS is down to just one show on my radar, but at least it's a really good one! ABC will once again dominate my life with their seductive pleasures. I'm just happy to see that I'm not committing hours and hours every night. All good things in moderation!

And what about all of you? Is there something missing here you think I need to check out?

[For those awaiting my Runway recap - expect to see it this evening.]