December 31, 2007

Best of Entertainment in '07

Everyone else has a year-end list, so why not me? Here are my favorites of the past year.

Best Movie - Juno

Yes, there was a lot of crap at the movies this year. But also a few great ones. We had some hilarious films from the House of Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad), The Simpsons finally hit the big screen, the Bourne trilogy ended with a bang, and an animated rat cooked up something special. And yet the film I saw most recently is my favorite. Juno has all the elements of a great film - an excellent cast, a clever script, smart directing and a groovy soundtrack.

Best DVD Rental, Movie - United 93

A film every American who lived through 9/11 should see. Give yourself the chance to grieve and heal the wounds that run so deep.

Best DVD Rental, TV - Battlestar Galactica

From a single rental, a new obsession was born. Now can ANYONE tell us how to get our hands on a video set for season 3?

Best Album - Back to Black, Amy Winehouse

Yes, her personal life has been one continuous train wreck. So what? She still delivered an amazing album with a sound that intoxicates. And I owe her - the most new visitors to my blog came looking for the lyrics of "Rehab"!

Best Song - "Umbrella", Rihanna

The song of the summer should be grating on my nerves by now. The fact that it's not indicates that it's a groove that is a new classic. Turn on your iPod and hit play (ay-ay-ay)!

Best TV, Reality - America's Next Top Model

Before you cry, "Sacrilege!" I recognize that Top Model is not usually the best reality show out there. But in a year where we only got the beginning of a Project Runway season, and The Amazing Race was dominated by a horrid "All-Stars" season, Top Model delivered the most consistent entertainment for me. Jaslene was the cha-cha diva, Dionne was hilarious and had the most ridiculous made-up name (Wholahay!), Heather taught us about Asperger's, and Tyra continued her descent to being bat-shit crazy. Work it!

Best TV, Comedy - How I Met Your Mother

The Office certainly gets my honorable mention this year, but HIMYM is still tops in our home.

Best TV, Drama - Lost

As if I'd say anything else? Even with a wildly inconsistent 3rd season, it's still been the best thing out there. As long as the Dum-Dum Duo stay dead.

Best Book - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

I've seen a lot of critics that left this one off their top 10 lists for the year. But I think that it is not only a wildly entertaining read, but how can you not recognize a book that ends a series so perfectly? Every loose end was tied, and Rowling revealed the master plan she had all along. Pure satisfaction.

[In working on this list I realized I've read virtually no non-fiction this year. I guess 2007 was my Year of Escapism.]

Best New Musical - Xanadu

A show is truly funny when everyone is in on the joke, and the cast plays it to the hilt. Laugh until you hurt!

OK, so that's my list - what did I miss, gentle readers?

December 26, 2007

Blood is Thicker than Water

Sweeney Todd

You have to say this for Tim Burton - the man likes his macabre visuals. What better director to bring the grisly musical by Sondheim to the silver screen? And I do mean silver - the film is painted almost entirely in shades of black and white. Except the red, that is. LOTS of red. Buckets of blood! If you enjoy a gorefest complete with complex harmonies, this is the one for you!

As for performances, Johnny Depp is a natural as Sweeney - cold, menacing, with one shoe out of the asylum. Helena Bonham Carter is admirable as Mrs. Lovett, although her singing style is a bit like an injured bird, and not a larger-than-life personality.

Overall this is an enjoyable movie if you can handle all that blood. It's quite faithful to the original musical, so show tune afficiandos won't be disappointed.


Juno

This movie is quite unusual - it begins as a whip-smart comedy but settles into a moving drama (with humor still ever-present). It's hilarious, it's touching, and I think it's the best film of 2007.

Once you move past the uncomfortable premise (16 year-olds having unprotected sex, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy), you'll quickly fall in love with the razor-sharp wit of Ellen Page as Juno. Her performance is extraordinary, and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future! She's surrounded by a dream cast.

Juno lives with a father she adores (J.K. Simmons), a stepmother (Allison Janney) with whom she shares a true love-hate relationship, a best friend (Olivia Thirlby) who is a great sounding board, and a kind-of boyfriend (Michael Cera) who epitomizes dork chic (constantly clad in running shorts, headband and wristbands).

Eventually Juno decides to give the baby up for adoption to a couple she picked out of a pennysaver. She elects a yuppie duo in nearby St. Cloud - a working woman who longs to be a mother above all else (played remarkably by Jennifer Garner) and a man-child father (Jason Bateman) that Juno befriends.

It's hard to describe how good a movie this is until you see it. Go enjoy this Christmas miracle!

Where Have You Been?

Unfortunately, I've been pretty under the weather with the flu for almost a week. And I picked it up right after ScottE got over his stomach virus! Not the happiest time in our household, to be sure.

But I'm going to try and pull it together and get a post or two done before I head home for the holidays. I hope you and yours have been having a wonderful time.

December 17, 2007

Short DVD Reviews - Part 6

As always, I promise you reviews of our latest Netflix rentals in 25 words or less!

Something New - Joyous recommended this melodrama. Race relations are the overtone, but a charming romance is what makes it enjoyable. Ideal for my inner black woman.

Frida - Julie Taymor directs this visually interesting but ultimately dull biopic of Frida Kahlo. Go to a museum instead.

Dial M for Murder - My latest foray into the Hitchcock oeuvre. Grace Kelly is stunning, but the plot drags.

Bride and Prejudice - A combination Bollywood musical and Hollywood romance, I found it underwhelming. Sayid from Lost is in it (briefly), though.

Junebug - Remarkably charming film in the "awkward family" genre, it is worth seeing to note why Amy Adams got that Oscar nomination (and Alessandro Nivola's butt).

The Flower of My Secret - Almodovar film that shows promise, but fails to deliver. The best moments come from the funny mother.

December 12, 2007

Team Derailer

When we last left the fashionistas of Project Runway, Carmen was bid adieu for designing an outfit for Tiki Barber that lacked a shirt. A look that would no doubt win him raves at The White Party, but not so much for The Today Show.

In the present, Sweet P secretly is kind of glad that Carmen is gone. Meanwhile, Rami looks adorable lounging in his sleepwear.

Model choice time. Jack does swap his model for Ricky's (bizarre, as I think she's awkward), but doesn't take Marion or Carmen's, so they are sent away. Heidi says that the challenge will be delivered by a familiar face that has old friends. Sweet P (who is fast overtaking Elisa as the resident crazy) thinks they'll be designing for senior citizens. Well, why not? It's about time someone updated the muumuu.

Tim meets the designers in the workroom with the lovely Nina. I don't know why I think she's just endlessly fabulous, but I do. Anywho, she unveils possibly the coolest challenge in ages (kudos to the producers working on them). Nina mentions that over the years, Elle has covered all the latest fashion trends, many of which we can't imagine were ever popular. Each of the designers will pick one of the trends. Then they divide themselves into groups of 3. Each group will come up with a collection of 3 looks, incorporating and modernizing the fashion don'ts of yesteryear. Tim also says that each group must designate a leader (i.e. scapegoat).

The designers sketch for an hour before heading to Mood. Chris' team is Steven and Sweet P. They will work on shoulder pads, dancewear, and baggy sweaters. Jillian's team (wisely selected, I think) is Rami and Kevin. They will work on overalls (which is totally funny, as Jillian is wearing overalls), poodle skirt and 70's flare (i.e. bell bottoms). Ricky's team of Victorya and Elisa will work on underwear as outerwear, neon and cut-outs. Christian's team of Jack and Kit will work with him on pleather, zoot suit and fringe. Sketching! Shopping! In a foreshadowing moment, Sweet P asks Steven if such-and-such fabric would work. Steven says, "No, Chris says it looks like a grandmother's couch." So the question is - did they buy it anyway?

But I'm getting ahead of myself. In the workroom, the teams set to work. Chris says that he's excited for the chance to show that he's more than a costume designer. Meanwhile, Ricky says that he speaks to Elisa in a language he thinks she'll understand - which he equates to modern dance teachers who look like they're high on pot. OK - I know some teachers are weird, but if I thought my instructor was baked, I'd be out of there. Not safe! Towards the end of the day, Jillian is getting concerned about Kevin's pace. On the one hand, I think she's being a bit of a nervous nellie, but I also think she is trying her best to offer calm direction.

To lighten the mood in the workroom, Steven tries a Tim impression. Not bad, but you are no Santino, my friend. Victorya continually talks about her team and offers direction...in other words, she's totally being the team leader. Conversely, Ricky just takes it. So she's a bulldozer, and he's a puss. The models come in for early fittings, which is a rare bonus. Interestingly, Chris' team is basically done. And Sweet P thinks that Steven's garment is the one that stands out. Kevin's problem is that his model is too big. Y'know - a size 2. Victorya decides on the fly to totally change her design. Ricky just looks askance.

He later tries to "confront" her which involves just making small notes, which Victorya passive-aggressively brushes off. Jillian expresses her concerns with Kevin's time management to Rami. He points out that she's got to be firm with him as the team leader. Later, Tim comes in and is happy with Christian's team. But he's not seeing cohesion in Chris' team, and particularly says that his jacket (which looks like a grandmother's couch as bolero jacket with shoulder pads) should be rethought. And he thinks that team Ricky isn't looking finished enough. Victorya jumps in to say, "If I had time, I would have unified the silhouettes." In other words, she's still bullying and totally being team leader. And Ricky bends over. He FINALLY confronts her. They fight passive-aggressively, which is as annoying as you can imagine.

Runway! Heidi introduces the judges, including guest judge Donna Karan. Wow. Big names comin' out!

Team Jillian's looks are very modern, showing bits of each trend in each look. In one look, they turn the poodle skirt into a flared collar to give a unique look. It's all nice.

Chris' jacket is indeed hideous. She looked better without it. Sweet P's is a nice camel number with a big belt and a black turtleneck. Steven's looks just like a sleeveless robe over tights. Lame!

Christian's team emphasized the stripes of a zoot suit to make their looks stand out. It's all great, but Kit's is by far the best, I think. 3 patterns that could clash, but look great.

Team Ricky is a hot mess. Neon pieces that have nothing to do with each other. They all look like they are missing something.

Heidi announces that one team scored so far above the others, that they are immediately declared winners - Team Jillian! Nice for them. I admit I liked her team's overall cohesion best, although I think Kit and Sweet P had the most interesting looks. Team Christian is also in.

Now, I must complain here. Because we spent so much time with the horribly annoying war of Ricky vs. Victorya, we don't get any time to hear the judges talk about the top teams' outfits, or what those designers have to say. It was very disappointing. All we saw was a quick runway look. Boo! But I include my favorites here for you to enjoy.

Anywho, onto the bottom 2 teams. Chris' team isn't showing cohesion. Donna and Nina don't like Steven's and don't see the dancewear inspiration. Donna and Michael love Sweet P's dress (which just about makes the P break down in joy). The concern is that Chris' jacket didn't modernize the shoulder pad look. They pads still look dated.

Ricky's team is called out for having a good start of a concept, but that things don't look finished. Victorya's dress is fit well, and Elisa's is creative. But Nina is not happy that Ricky is yet again showing something so unpolished. Elisa tries to be supportive, bless her heart. And then the Ricky vs. Victorya fiasco is aired, and I'm so over it, let's move on...

Each person has to pick who should go home. It's all how you'd expect. V and Ricky pick each other. Elisa picks herself. Steven says Chris, and Chris agrees. Sweet P goes crazy and gets lashed at by Heidi. She picks Steven.

The judges deliberate, and obviously are just talking about the bad (again, I'm not happy with this). Nina is still really disappointed in Ricky. But what they really can't deal with is Chris' jacket.

Elisa and Sweet P are in. Then Steven and Victorya. Ricky - you are not showing finished work. Chris, your jacket was old-fashioned and ugly. Ricky...is in. Suck! I was so ready to be rid of his whiny ass. Instead cuddle bear Chris is sent back to create new garments of vegetables. We'll miss you, Chris!

Next week - something is off about the models? Jack shares something that makes people weep, which I assume is related to his HIV-positive status. This can't be good!

December 09, 2007

Actually You Can't See It From Space

It's time for a recap of the penultimate episode of America's Next Top Model! When we last left our girls, they were shocked that Heather was sent home, and so were we! Only four remain. Who will be eliminated...tonight? (You wanna be on top...bitches?)

The girls return to their penthouse to find "Heather mail." Hilariously, Bianca starts reading it - "If you are reading this, which Jenah, you most likely are..." Ha! In other words, Jenah's the only one really missing Heather very much. I think they became friends, but Jenah also had a lot of respect for Heather's ability to bring it to the photo shoots (something that Jenah herself excels at). Bianca? Not missing her.

Next they head onto Beijing. They get a little guided tour from their guide, Kevin. Bianca finds it all to be surreal. Meanwhile, it's time for Jenah to lament being in the bottom 2. I kind of love her, because she says, "Being in the bottom 2 is awesome - you should try it." Love that sarcasm! Chantal, meanwhile knows this is her destiny. Her attitude is grating on Bianca (and me, as well).

The girls meet up with Ms. J and Twiggy to give them a little cultural history. The pair tell them the story of "the 4 Beauties" - the 4 most beautiful women in Chinese history. Bianca is bored, but the others realize that what they're hearing might be important (i.e. challenge material). The girls head to their new apartment (which has just 2 big beds, so no room for bitching), and receive Tyra mail along with the 4 gowns worn by the 4 Beauties in the demonstration. They figure out that each will need to choose an outfit to wear for the challenge.

Then it's challenge time. Ms. J and Twiggy meet them at a huge shopping mall, and give them each the equivalent of $200. They have an hour to run into the mall and try to find a way to embody their chosen Beauty, but modernize the look to this century. They will then work the runway and a winner will be chosen. And they're off!

Quickly the girls figure out that with such elaborate gowns, they should focus on accessorizing - jewelry, bags, shoes and the like. Bianca then tries to break away from the group and heads to a second part of the mall that's across a courtyard. She discovers that it contains no stores that are any help. As she runs back inside the main part of the mall, she runs into Jenah and decides to "strategize" and use her trademark stank behavior. She tells Jenah, "You've got to go over there, so much great stuff there." Jenah quickly finds out that there isn't, but unfortunately gets a bit lost finding her way back. "Bitch." Indeed.

All this is for naught, however, as Jenah makes it back on time and the girls quickly assemble their looks for the runway. Ann Shoket, editor of Seventeen (she of the big nose from several weeks back), will be the judge. The prize this week is big - the winner will get a "custom-made" Chinese couture gown, and a personal runway walk training session with Ms. J - "a privilege that no girl on this show has ever had." Mhm... Anywho, let's get to it. Now they have to quickly apply makeup and work it.

Saleisha is first. She's accesorizing mostly with gold jewelry, bag and shoes. Nice walk. Chantal went more for bright yellow pieces, but I think her eyes were too dark. Bianca cleverly pinned up her skirt with some rosettes (Angela would be proud) with a flowered bag. Jenah took the long dress and made it a tight mini, and then releases the coat, accenting with some big sunglasses. Fun. Ann gives them all some compliments and criticisms - except Chantal - who just had nice shoes. Jenah wins! Jenah gets to pick a friend to get a second dress. She picks Chantal - least annoying of the 3, obviously.

Now the girls go get fitted for the dresses, so we see that they aren't so much "custom-made" as they are "custom-tailored." Still, they are stunning. Jenah opts for a saturated turquoise sleeveless dress with a flared collar, and Chantal takes the more demure pale jade dress. Chantal doesn't know where she'll wear it, but she loves it. Duh - wear it at any formal event! You'll stand out and make all the other bitches jealous.

Jenah gets her one-on-one right there in the store with Ms. J. He actually provides her with some helpful tips - particularly what to do with her head on her turns (she tends to toss off her head with attitude, but should instead keep it in line with her body as she pulls away). Jenah is stoked.

Tyra mail! "Can you be seen from space?" They squeal as they figure out it's the Great Wall of China. Of course, that's a myth, really. You can only see it from Earth's upper atmosphere. But hey, who says Top Model is supposed to teach us anything? Oh...Tyra...right...

Anywho, the girls now lounge in bed and chat. They express their various concerns and worries at this point to each other and in interviews. Both Bianca and Jenah are ready for the experience to come to an end. Bianca because she's just sick of it all, Jenah because she's getting really homesick, missing her family and her boyfriend. Saleisha and Chantal, meanwhile, have drunk the Kool-Aid and can't get enough of it all. Perhaps they don't have anyone missing them all that much at home? Kidding!

So the girls head to the Great Wall to marvel and frolic. I do have to give this group credit - they have really embraced seeing a new culture and trying to soak it all in, which is nice. They could give a few teams on The Amazing Race some pointers. They eventually run into OJ, who says blah-blah-whatever and leads them to the photo shoot, further down the Wall.

There they find that their photographer is Tyra. Which is not as terrifying as you might think - she's actually done some very interesting work, like the crying portrait of Joanie back in the day, or the scary contact lens photos of Caridee and Michelle. In this shoot, the girls will portray Mongol warrior women, trying to storm the Wall. Why? I have no idea. It's a bizarre set-up, but let's just go with it.

The girls get their makeup and ridiculous enormous rat's nest hair. First up is Chantal. Tyra is pretty impressed, particularly as Chantal works on movement. Jenah is next. Tyra asks what Jenah's "Great Wall" challenge would be. Jenah says she's trying to "find herself." This worries Tyra and OJ, who question if her mind is really in the competition. Bianca requires a lot of direction, which isn't the first time that's happened (see also: last week). Tyra's golden child Saleisha gets raves for deciding to jump in the air and stuff. Honestly, it's hard to get into this shoot, as it makes no sense to me.

Whatev - Tyra wraps it up with a group photo of all 4 girls. Basically she wants them to out-fierce each other and really stand out. Bianca bitches that Saleisha's big hair bun is in her face. Hell, I would have just used a hand to hold it out of place. You know Tyra would eat that shit up.

OMG - did you see that commercial for Crowned? Looks like a train wreck. The writers' strike is clearly in full swing.

Panel! Prizes, judges. Guest judge is Ann Shoket. Let's judge the girls.

Jenah is the challenge winner and lovely in her gown. She has a long beautiful leg in the shot. Twiggy says, "Tyra, you're sooo goooood." Sorry, Twigster, you're still not coming back next season. Tyra tries to get Jenah to break down and it works. Jenah tells us how she's trying to find her sense of self and that she's homesick. Ms. J chides her that a top model is often away from home. Jenah also says that she has always tried to be a role model for her young sisters, and really thinks that this is how she will do that. Tyra asks if Jenah really wants this. Jenah does. Oh dear, it's looking like an elimination. Suck!

Next up is Bianca. She looks far too masculine, I think. The criticism is pretty harsh. Tyra calls her out for needing so much direction. Bianca exclaims that she's had to work really hard and has learned so much. She's trying to fight to stay in it.

Chantal actually has some great movement in her shot. You don't see much of her face, but I'm actually thinking it doesn't matter much. Ms. J loves that she's even pointing her feet. Ann says she always looks so fresh-faced and pretty. Isn't that the story with Chantal? All pretty, no substance?

Saleisha is airborne in her shot, and I have to admit it's pretty good. Although I still think she only has one face - looking down, lips slightly apart. But the judges drool all over it.

In the group shot, each girl is liked by one of the judges, so it's inconclusive. I would say that Jenah's eyes really stand out, but Saleisha makes the most of being in the middle.

The judges deliberate. They love Saleisha and Chantal. It's really a debate over Bianca and Jenah. On the one hand, they think Bianca has so much more to learn - is there time? And yet she's fighting to stay. Jenah is consistenly strong, but did she just give her swan song speech?

4 beautiful girls (pay no attention to the photo above...), 3 photos. First goes to...Chantal? That was a bit surprising. I think they're just trying to shake it up a bit (and shake Saleisha's confidence). Then Saleisha, of course. Will Bianca and Jenah please step forward?

Bianca, you've come a long way, but have a ways to go. Jenah, the judges thought you might have written your good-bye speech. So the photo goes to...B...huh? Jenah! Kick ass! Karma's a bitch, Bianca!

In her exterview, Bianca actually cries a bit. See - if you could have done that at panel, you might still be in it. Silly girl! Maybe you have a career fighting a steel cage deathmatch with Heather on pay-per-view.

So there you have it folks - your final 3 are Chantal, Jenah and Saleisha. I thought for an added treat this week, I'd handicap the finale. So many ways to do it (why each will/won't win, for example)! But I'm going to opt to prevent 3 scenarios as to how each girl could win - and the likelihood of each.

Scenario #1: Saleisha wins

Let's be honest - Saleisha is the clear favorite right now, especially if you consider her past history with Tyra (T-Zone, etc.). To get there, I predict she would first knock out Chantal. I don't think it's likely that the producers - er, judges - want to have 2 bubbly/perky girls in the finals. So instead, Saleisha would face off against Jenah, her real competition. Jenah's done consistently great photos, but Saleisha would garner the "most improved" award. If she can smoke the final runway, Saleisha would have it in the bag.

I think this scenario is the most likely. And frankly, the most irritating. Saleisha has had her moments of being amusing, but in general she's grated on my nerves, and I think her ego has grown along with her profile as "high fashion."

Odds? Take it to Vegas.

Scenario #2: Jenah wins

Jenah has 2 things working in her favor. The first is that she's got the best portfolio of anyone left. (Actually she had the best in the final 4, too.) And secondly, she is the finalist with the most recognizable "journey" that Tyra is so fond of. Jenah was on top, then crashed and burned, and has now been trying to "find herself." Also keep in mind that past winners have usually been beat up a bit by the judges in the home stretch. Jenah would most likely face stiff competition in the final 2 against Saleisha. It will probably take a perfect final runway and a bad final photo from Saleisha for Jenah to win.

This scenario has a moderate probability of success - look at how shocking the last 2 eliminations have been, despite the editing! As you can imagine, this would be the one outcome that would really make me happy. But Jenah still has to face another glamour shot for Cover Girl, and those teeth are going to be hard to hide.

Odds? It's a long shot.

Scenario #3: Chantal wins

The judges certainly do love Chantal, and her surprising top place finish this week highlights that. But doesn't it seem like her constant protestations about how she was born to do this and she's so awesome are just a set-up for her eventual fall? But anyway, for Chantal to win, I imagine they would first eliminate the other blonde - Jenah. Assuming they do equally well with the Cover Girl shoot (both perky and fresh-faced), it would have to be a fierce-off on the runway. I've never thought Chantal's runway walk was that impressive, but who knows?

Whatever, let's be honest - Chantal has never really made a strong enough impression on us or the judges. For her to win would be most surprising (and a bit delicious to see Saleisha's fall).

Odds? Snowball's chance in hell.

See you next week for the finale! (And don't tell me how it ends that evening - I have to watch on tape delay!)

The Truth Hurts

The Golden Compass

I've really been anxious to see this adaptation of Philip Pullman's book, the first in the His Dark Materials trilogy. I definitely found it enjoyable, but it certainly seemed less accessible for those who haven't read the book. Assuming a sequel is made, this will be a nice lead-in to the far superior second book, The Subtle Knife.

Dakota Blue Richards does an admirable job portraying the troublemaker child, Lyra. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig are both appropriately cold in their roles as Mrs. Coulter and Lord Asriel. But the ones who keep stealing the show are Sam Elliott as the aeronaut, Lee Scoresby and Eva Green (in a role that was criminally cut down in size) as the witch Serafina Pekkala.

Although let's be honest - what will be the most intriguing aspect of the film to kids and adults alike is the humans' animal daemons (the physical manifestations of the humans' consciences).

As for the fear that this film is somehow anti-Christian - not a chance. All theological debate has been stripped from the movie, leaving a very fast-paced adventure flick. Perhaps a bit too fast-paced, as the uninitiated will feel like they are missing something. (They are - read the book.)

And lastly - my word but that's the most horrible song over the closing credits. ScottE and I couldn't stop laughing at Kate Bush's ridiculous warbling of "Lyra...and her sooooouuuul..." Ten bucks says this piece of poo song gets nominated for an Oscar!

December 06, 2007

Oh No, She Didn't!

My recap this week will be a bit on the short side, but I'm kinda behind and playing catch-up!

As we return to the final fivegirls of Top Model, Heather is once again lamenting her performance in the commercial. Chantal in particular doesn't think that Heather deserved to stay. Dang! Meanwhile, Jenah is concerned that she's being nailed as "not having personality" because she's not all perky and annoying (i.e. Saleisha). Jenah feels that she's always been like a sarcastic personality.

Go-Sees! Let's get to them. Susan Yang of PT Models explains the usual rules (take your portfolio, go, see, be back on time). Considering how challenging the language barrier would be, each girl is given a driver who will take them to the area of the go-sees they pick. (They get a translator, too.)

Saleisha does OK, although the first designer says, "She's boring." Word! Heather gets lost once she steps out of her cab. Meanwhile Chantal impresses the designers except for her bright pink underwear (she forgot that Ms. J said to always wear nude panties when you're working). Meanwhile Jenah and Bianca impress some people. Heather is still lost.

FINALLY, Heather makes her first go-see. The designer says she needs more eye contact - which you know is not Heather's strong point. The same designer says that Jenah's walk is bad...because she looks too much like a model. Huh? Now for a little stank behavior. Bianca crosses paths with Saleisha. Bianca asks where the next one is (which she thinks is near). Saleisha says, "I don't know." Even though it's right upstairs. Then while Saleisha is modeling for a designer, Chantal waits in the wings and complains about Saleisha being a disgusting suck-up (which she kind of is). Of course, then Chantal goes up and does the very same thing.

Now the race to get back on time. Very simply - Saleisha is back on time, and Bianca is just under the wire. The other girls all underestimate the outrageous Shanghai traffic. And Heather is lost. Again. In fact, she loses her cab. And somehow walks past Jenah in her cab (stuck in traffic). Crazy. One might say Jenah could have offered her a ride, but I'm guessing that would have been against the rules. (And it is a competition.)

The girls go out on the town for dinner, and then Susan stops by to critique Biana and Saleisha. They both did well, but the winner will be in an ad for the 2008 Olympics. They turn around and there's the ad on a boat going by - it's Bianca! She's all happy, but one has to wonder what that ad means, and if it will ever again see the light of day.

Photo shoot time - with Nigel! So while the girls get gussied up, Jenah tries to play a little with Nigel sarcastically. He is NOT impressed. I have to say - I know she overstepped her bounds a little bit, but I can hardly blame her. She was really pointing out what a pompous ass he can be. And also this may have been a failed attempt with her trying to "show personality." Anywho, she feels the pressure a bit in her photo shoot - she may have some decent shots, but she's not sure her usual style of modeling works with Nigel's.

Bianca requires a lot of direction. Saleisha impresses Nigel. His concern with Chantal is that every time he gives her a comment, she takes the direction and then kind of falls out of the pose. He struggles to connect with Heather. While he's shooting Heather, Jenah is having a conversation that's a bit too loud, and gets a "quiet in the peanut gallery" comment.

Panel! Judges (Susan as the guest) and prizes. Once again Tyra pre-emptively tells them of their next journey - next week in Bejing! Excitement. First up for critique is Chantal.

Chantal gets criticized for being late from the go-sees and for the pink undies. Tyra tries to get Chantal to practice not breaking her focus. Her shot is...something the judges like. Me, not so much.

Bianca is praised for winning the challenge, and booking with 3 designers. Her photo has a nice body, but her face is lousy. It's very week 2 Bianca. Nigel says that she is too posey, not fluid enough.

Jenah is also criticized for being late, and needs to be more personable. Her picture has her shining in the back. Of course, Nigel has to tell her how her comments to him came off as arrogant. Tyra makes the more relevant point - the photographer for the day is your boss. True.

Saleisha is just loved all over the place. And her photo is indeed a bit daring in the positioning of her body. But I have to say her cutesy attitude is grating to me now. Of course, the girl's probably going to win it all, as she's been a Tyra favorite for ages. Check out this link and watch the video, people!

Heather only made it to 1 go-see. The judges are not impressed. Ms. J also really doesn't feel her runway walk has improved. Her photo gets good reviews, but Nigel points out that she got lucky.

So the judges deliberate, and you know it's Ms. Jenah that's in trouble. Nigel says that Jenah is a good girl, but he's afraid her personality is getting in the way. Twiggy agrees - will Jenah offend a designer? (I would say, not likely to his/her face, but later on a blog or something...) Nigel doesn't like Bianca's picture. Both he and Twiggy are concerned about Heather's ability to communicate with photographers and designers. Susan thinks Chantal needs confidence. Saleisha love-fest (*snore*).

5 beautiful girls, 4 photos. First photo is of course Saleisha the perfect one. Next it's Bianca and Chantal. Will Heather and Jenah please step forward?

Both of you take gorgeous pictures. But you've demonstrated a failure to communicate this week. So who goes home? Well you know it's Je...what? Huh? HEATHER? Holy shit!!! (You should have seen me watching it. I was SHOCKED. Totally fooled.) So Jenah is given a real second chance to show her personality in a respectful way.

Wow, I was sure surprised (the girls were, too) - but I think I see the reasoning. I believe the judges wanted Heather to succeed and maybe even win it. But she still has some work to do on her personal development and communication style. And considering America voted her their favorite almost every week, I think there are many, many folks out there ready to support her. (And I'd venture to say a few folks ready to book her as a print model.)

Heather in her farewell speech shows that she's really looking at things the right way - she showed how much a person with Asperger's can accomplish. She's proud of herself, and she should be. Love you, Heather! I know your life is only just beginning. (Heck, she already got interviewed by Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.)

Next week (or rather, "recently" depending on when you read this) - Tyra is the photographer. Which may sound bad, but she's actually done pretty well in the past! (Remember her creepy contact lens shoot with Caridee and company a couple cycles back?) I'll also make my predictions for the finale. (Will it be Tyra's golden child? The bubbly blonde? The sarcastic smoker? Or the alpha bitch?)

December 03, 2007

Tiki in the City

I confess that I'm a little behind on my blogging for Project Runway. So I'm going to attempt a shorter post today to cover the last two episodes. Try to keep up!

OK, so when we last left our new group of designers, Heidi had said "Auf Weidersehen" to Simone, who was sent home for poor time management and also poor taste. Ricky was allowed to cry another day, and Elisa was allowed to continue saying things like "haiku cut," whatever that means.

The designers meet Heidi and get their first chance at picking models. Which appears to be more of a big deal this season considering how many bad models there are. Ricky's model gets sent home. Heidi mentions that the challenge will be big, as they will be meeting a modern fashion icon.

Fast forward to the workroom, where Tim introduces the icon - Sarah Jessica Parker! Oh, how the gays swoon over her. Chris even cries! Then SJP announces the challenge. They will be designing an outfit to go with the new fall line for SJP's company, Bitten. The catch? Her line emphasizes good fashion at an inexpensive price. So the designers will get next to nothing to spend - $15! Eek! Anywho, they each meet with SJP to propose a design, because she'll be picking 7, and then they all will team up.

SJP picks the 7, and I should mention who picks who as partners in case it becomes gossip fodder later. Marion chooses Steven. Ricky takes Jack, and Victorya takes Kevin. Kit picks Chris, and Rami chooses Jillian. Christian chooses Carmen, and then Sweet P is all, "Aw, shit." Yep, because she is stuck being chosen by Elisa.

They go shop at Mood. (Hey, Mood! Missed you!) Work ensues. Most of the teams work well together. But Steven is concerned that he and Marion have far too much to do. And Sweet P is a little freaked as Elisa marks a garment with...chalk? Oh no - that was SPIT! Ick.

So, garments are constructed, and Tim stops by for a visit. He is particularly concerned that Christian's outfit looks too 1980s. Surprisingly, Elisa and Sweet P have found a happy medium. (I believe they rendezvoused on the Moon.)

Runway! Rami and Kit's design are both rather dull in basic black. Ricky's outfit is a bit more interesting in burgundy with an interesting black belt. They are all in. Our top two designs come from Victorya (a gray baby doll dress with an interesting plaid vest) and Elisa, yes, Elisa (a simple turquoise dress covered with a nice woolly gray cape). They both are interesting, but it's not surprising that Victorya's is chosen, as it seems to fit better with what we've seen of the Bitten line.

The bottom two are Christian, who insisted on this ridiculous leather Members Only-type jacket over a turquoise turleneck dress (it's right out of a Robert Palmer video) and Marion. I enjoyed Marion last week, but his problem is that the gray woolly burlap-looking material he selected is not good for a whole dress. In fact, it starts stretching as the model is standing on the runway during judging, and just looks progressively worse. Anywho, Steven is in, as is Carmen with her histrionic crying. And then Marion is out. Too bad - I was ready to dump the little bitchy sister Christian.

As we open on week 3, Jack informs us that he's HIV-positive and has been for 10 years. This has been pretty widely publicized, but I didn't mention it sooner in case you'd think it was a spoiler. In other news, our opening shot is Jack and Kevin in their underwear in the bathroom getting ready. Ahem. Let's just say that's a sandwich I'd be interested in tasting! Anywho, they all go select models, and then are told to meet Tim for their next challenge.

Tim is waiting with Tiki Barber, former NFL star and now a correspondent for the Today Show. The challenge...design him an outfit to wear on the air. Yes! Menswear! I'm still holding out for the maternity wear challenge some day, but this will be exciting.

As you might expect - mass panic. Most of the designers don't usually do menswear, and they all acknowledge that it takes a lot longer to sew. (You can't do a single seam dress like Elisa had in week 1, y'know.) So they go shopping at Mood in extreme agitation.

Slightly controversial moment in the workroom. Jack asks Tim if it is acceptable to use a garment one is currently wearing as the basis for a pattern. Tim says yes, which I think was probably a gift from the producers who knew how tough this challenge would be for everyone. So Jack uses his own shorts, and spends the rest of the day walking around in a muslin sarong, which is funny. But the controversy stems from the fact that he shares that pattern with Victorya and Carmen. Rami and Sweet P both call foul, but Jack calls it "a collaborative pattern." Kit chalks it up to the overall tension. There is all kinds of chaos and improvisation (such as Chris having Rami try on his jacket).

On day 2, the madness continues. It's at this point that we see Christian is extremely fast with a sewing machine, a skill which is an obvious asset at the moment. Tim comes in after a couple hours and announces that he will be bringing them all their models - a huge relief for them, as they really need measurements and a chance to see how the clothes will drape. In come the models. While Kevin makes a point of telling us how he was focused on his work, because he's so straight, Steven (who really has an annoying creepy voice), makes the most hilarious comment. "I'm finally understanding straight guys when they say, 'Oh my God, I can't believe you have all these chicks standing around in their underwear.' OK, fine. You win, guys. I get it." Ha! I mean, most of the models they get don't toot my horn, but I totally know what he means.

Much later in the day, Tim comes back to do his roving evaluations, but brings along Tiki's wife, Ginny. She really only gives positive feedback, so it's not clear what we'll learn. But Tim does have to tell a couple folks that they are going to have time problems (such as Ricky). Ginny saves the one negative comment for Carmen, saying her look is too casual. Carmen's in a bind, as she doesn't have enough fabric to fix it.

As they make final preparations, Ricky actually asks his model to help sew on buttons. Oh good grief. Also, he's crying. Again.

Runway! As you can imagine, a lot of the designs are less than stellar, and most of them had to scale back their plans. What's really bizarre is the choice of shoes in many cases. Anywho, let's just fast-forward to say that Christian, Jillian, Rami, Steven, Victorya, Chris (I really liked his sleek all-black ensemble, actually) and Elisa are all in.

The top 3 are Jack (who managed to do a well-structured contrasting striped shirt over black pants), Kit (who did a more casual black jacket over a white shirt and camel pants) and Kevin (a lavender shirt and dark pants, with a black vest and a purple tie/pocket square). Kevin is in, as his was good but not the most well-made. Jack wins! And Kit is of course in.

With the bottom 3 we have Sweet P (a very messy pale blue shirt with a lousy collar over black pants and with a striped tie), Ricky (a white shirt with a really ill-fitting dark suit) and Carmen (who did a dark coat over khaki pants, but couldn't even manage a shirt - so she sends her model down the runway with a blue scarf covering his chest instead). Sweet P is in. And then Carmen is chosen to be out as she couldn't even do a shirt. Which is too bad, as Ricky is a ball of annoying tearful emotion.

Next week - teams of two again! Prepare for drama with Ricky and Victorya. The claws, they are out!

November 28, 2007

Shanghai Surprise

When we last left the girls of America's Next Top Model, they were saying 再见 (good-bye) to Ambreal, as they were far too excited to pack their bags for China!

And suddenly, we're in Shanghai. The girls are astounded by how busy the city is, and by the immense amounts of neon lights. Heather mentions that the closest she's experienced to this is Las Vegas. I would assume that Shanghai also has less Celine Dion.

After some driving around and being impressed at the sights, the girls meet the Js at a fountain. They receive a perfunctory welcome to China, and are sent off to their hotel. This time around it is very, very swank - a penthouse suite in a hotel! 非常好! (Very nice!)

But even in China, things are not without drama on ANTM. The girls make a mad dash for beds, of which there are only 5. But one is over-sized. Take a wild guess as to what happens. That's right! Heather is the last in the room, and Saleisha has the big bed...and won't share it. Which the other girls find to be funny (or more specifically, Lisa/Bianca/Saleisha find it funny). I think there are several forces at work here. First there is a bit of jealousy (Heather is a clear frontrunner). Then there is Heather's challenging personality (her Asperger's, and perhaps a touch of being spoiled). And of course the fact that Saleisha is hanging around Bianca too much and becoming a bit of a beeyotch.

Anywho, there is a lot of arguing, crying, etc. Chantal finally decides to be the mediator, and brokers a deal where Jenah and Bianca will share the big bed, so that Heather can have one to herself. And all is well. For now, anyway.

Next the girls move onto meeting this random guy who shows them a movie set, until he is "attacked" by some martial arts guys. Our girls are a bit nervous, but it ends quickly. The dude (Louis Liu, professional martial arts instructor) explains that he will be teaching them some martial arts poses. Heather is geeked, as she always wanted to do this.

And indeed, they learn what their challenge is after changing into colorful tunics. They watch a couple guys do some martial arts, and then suddenly leap into the air a'la Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Fun on high wires! The challenge is that the girls will be lifted up in the air, and have to take various poses that he calls out to them, as demonstrated earlier.

They are nervous, but excited. Well, 5 little girls are excited. Bianca is terrified. Yep, Ms. Tough As Nails is somewhat afraid of heights, but it becomes more apparent that she just doesn't trust putting her life in someone else's hands.

Whatev, let's do this. Chantal and Jenah face off first. They have great fun, but are a bit awkward in their poses. Lisa and Saleisha show more control, even though Lisa was scared and crying a bit. Then comes Bianca vs. Heather (of course). And bless her heart, Heather tries to encourage Bianca to do it. But after going up in the air, Bianca demands to come right back down, and is disqualified. So Heather continues solo, and goes onto win it.

As a reward, Heather wins a huge shopping spree ($537!) to roam around Shanghai for the night. She gets to take a friend, and I was curious who she would choose - Jenah her sometime defender? Nope, she decides to go with Chantal the peacemaker. So the two of them go out shopping, and looks like they have fun together, which is cool. (I admit I was curious how inexpensive the shopping might be?)

The next day it's time for our traditional foray into another country - Cover Girl commercial shoot! This time around they will be promoting the Queen collection, so they have to inject their own personal styles. This means picking out their own outfits from what they brought, and also ad libbing a bit about, "I'm a queen because..." And then they will finish up with a glamour shot that emphasizes their individuality.

Saleisha is up first, and she is her usual self in front of a video camera - buoyant and confident. I must say, if modeling doesn't work out, she probably has the best chance of an acting career from any girl I've seen on the show in several cycles. Bianca exudes confidence, but her delivery is a bit rapid fire. And then Heather. Oh, Heather. She keeps getting caught on the words, and rather than pause and recover, she wrinkles her nose, sticks her tongue out, etc. OJ tries feeding her lines, but even that doesn't go well. Oh dear. Jenah is all teeth (which is odd, considering those eyes), and also struggles with the lines. Chantal does her best pretty-pretty princess. Which works in this case. Lisa? Lisa also struggles with the lines. She deals with her stress as she has in the past - she begins to cry. And it's not good. In every take she's on the verge of tears. It's too bad - she just can't deal with the pressure, it appears. Maybe she can go hang out with Ricky from Project Runway and they can watch Terms of Endearment together.

Saleisha tries to offer Lisa some advice and comfort. But Lisa isn't having it. Saleisha is all, "Whatever, I can go enter that Facts of Life lookalike contest now. Later!"

Panel! Tyra greets them with a "Ni hao!" (Hello) Prizes, judges. Guest judge is their director of photography for the commercial and photo shoot, Jeffrey Chu.

Lisa's struggle is apparent, so that she comes through a bit angry or panicked. Tyra advises to just let the tears flow. Her photo is not bad (like Sophia Loren?), although I think she looks too old. Jeffrey is kind enough to say that she was able to pull off a great photo after her commercial meltdown.

Chantal's commercial is bright, cute and fresh. Too cute? Her photo would be nice if it weren't for the outfit. Ms. J calls it Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Word!

Bianca is first called out for her challenge disqualification. Her commercial is poorly paced. Bianca's photo is lovely, although the shadows make her head look slightly disjointed from her body. Not sure how I feel about that.


Jenah's commercial is called out by Nigel for lacking charm. And he doesn't seem to believe that she is really understanding him. Ugh! This is the beginning of the end I feared for her! 10-to-1 she's eliminated next week, or at least in the bottom two. Which is too bad, as her photo is fun and rockin' - just like my beloved Bug Eyes.

Twiggy points out that she thinks Saleisha is a natural actress in her commercial. Her photo receives a stronger critique, as she is squinting a bit, making her eyes get lost. (Also I think her smile shows too much of her gums.)

Heather's commercial is as disastrous as you may expect. Cue the sad music. Tyra challenges her and asks why she couldn't even do it with her lines being fed to her. In other words, Tyra isn't letting her off the hook just because of her Asperger's. Nigel and Jeffrey encourage her to focus. But her photo? Crazy good - it almost doesn't look like her. My first thought - Evangeline Lilly, anyone?

The judges deliberate. They are not happy to see that all the girls on a whole were not strong this week. And they don't like that Lisa isn't taking criticism well at all. Ms. J is unsure if Saleisha is really progressing. And now Nigel suddenly is all anti-Jenah, and Tyra buys into it. Noooo!

6 beautiful girls, 5 photos. Tyra says that they as a whole did poorly. First photo goes to...Chantal. (She may be from Sunnybrook Farm, but her commercial was the best.) Photos then go to Saleisha, Bianca and Jenah. Will Lisa and Heather please step forward?

You both screwed up, seriously. Lisa, you are not showing your inner strength and personality. Heather, the judges worry if you can handle the pressure of a performance.

Tyra tries to pump up Lisa's self-esteem, but the girl is just broken. She's picturing the bikini she will have to wear for her next shift as a stripper. And as we see her photos, it's pretty clear that she's been going down for weeks now. (Ahem.)

Next week - go-sees! And something bad with Jenah at the photo shoot. Ugh, here it comes...

In Model-related news, it was reported today that Twiggy will not be with us next cycle. Sadness! I'll miss you, Twigster. Go hunt down Victoria and give her a good slap. Although I admit we could use a more aggressive personality on the panel next season. Now please just don't tell me that Benny will be the new Ms. J!

November 27, 2007

Some Enchanted Afternoon

Enchanted

Disney's new film Enchanted is a charmer. Although parts of the plot may feel forced, it's anchored by a sparkling Amy Adams. The former Muskie really commits herself fully to the role of a fairy tale princess who finds herself in our world and the unfriendly streets of the Bowery in NYC. Adams' ability to show various shades of joy, fear and confusion proves that her prior Academy Award nomination was no fluke. I look forward to seeing more from her in the future. As for the rest of the cast, Patrick Dempsey is stoic and a bit dull, while James Marsden is cavalier and clueless.

This movie will appeal to older kids, and to adults eager to escape into a world of a smart fairy tale.

November 25, 2007

TV Bon Bons

You always see posts about my regular weekly TV shows, from The Amazing Race on Sundays to The Office on Thursdays. But you know I'm watching all sorts of random shows on cable. What are my secret finds and guilty pleasures? Read on!

Made - The fact that I'm watching anything on MTV is surprising, but I secretly love this show. It's a show where a high schooler comes up with a lofty secret desire (like a goth girl that wants to be a beauty queen, or a class clown that wants to complete a triathlon). The kid is paired with a "Made coach" who guides them and often argues with them. Gives me hope for the slacker generation.

Food Network - As you can imagine, living with ScottE, we watch a lot of this channel. My favorites are Nigella (sensuous), Paula (butter), Giada (simple) and Alton (educational). But when Sandra Lee comes on the air, I have a need to change the channel before I go blind.

HGTV - Now that we've entered the realm of house-hunting, this channel has a new appeal. We love to hate the annoying home buyers on House Hunters, and feel the pain of Property Virgins.

Samantha Brown - The Travel Channel is a more recent addition to our cable line-up, and it's a welcome one. My favorite is Samantha's show, where she travels around Europe and other places, showing you bits of culture, shopping and the nicest of hotels. She's a bit goofy but endearing - like Rachael Ray before she became an ever-present annoyance.

Rick Steves - But my real travel guru for years has been Rick, whose books and TV shows have helped me make the most out of two trips to Europe. Fun and educational, he's the best resource for the budget traveler that wants to dive into real culture.

The Soup - I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but this comedic clip show is our life's blood. Thanks to Joel McHale and his crew (like Mankini and the cheerleader), we're saved from watching countless hours of bad television.

Favorite reruns - TiVo knows me very well, and tapes all my old favorites regularly - like Designing Women, The Golden Girls, I Love Lucy, Will & Grace, 227, Are You Being Served? and Friends.

So how about you? What are your secret non-network favorites?

November 22, 2007

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I've certainly got plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. But what could I say I'm thankful for related to entertainment (and therefore pertinent to this blog)? Well, let's see - I'm thankful that...



  1. the Bourne trilogy ended in such a kick-ass manner.
  2. J.K. Rowling gave us a truly amazing and satisfying book to close one of the greatest series of all time. And the latest movie was great.
  3. in a time where we're all there in spirit with the writer's strike, my favorite reality shows are all going strong - The Amazing Race, America's Next Top Model, and now Project Runway!
  4. The Kara introduced me to the wonder that is Xanadu. Now where are my roller skates? Oh, and MTV gave us a free pass to Legally Blonde, which was also awesome.
  5. my iPod is overflowing with artists that I've fallen in love with this year, like Amy Winehouse and Rihanna.
  6. How I Met Your Mother was renewed for the season and is better than ever.
  7. the fall TV season brought two new shows that I'm loving - Reaper and Pushing Daisies.
  8. Judd Apatow delivered not one, but two hilarious movies this year - Superbad and Knocked Up.
  9. Joyous introduced us to a new obsession - and now we're complete Battlestar Galactica addicts!
  10. I was quoted in the Washington Post Express (for my post in #2 above) - how cool is that?
So that's my list - what are you thankful for this year?

Enjoy your day today with turkey, ham, or your favorite meat substitute!

November 21, 2007

Pooh-Pooh Platter

Project Runway is back! Let's return to a world of deadlines and hemlines. Let's make it work, people!

Unfortunately this season we don't have much introduction, and just dive right into the designers moving into their apartments. Throughout this sequence we get little interviews where you get to know a bit more about the designers. I'd address them all, but you'd be better served to just read up on their biographies on Bravo's website. To sum it up, these folks are far more accomplished than those in prior seasons. Rami has designed for celebrities. Kevin's had his jeans seen in Victoria's Secret. Carmen is a model turned designer. And Sweet P (a nickname that makes her seem more cutesy than she is) needs the money to restart her career. Oh, also Kevin wants to make very sure you know that he's the lone straight guy this season. He's straight. Did you hear that? Straight! (Ugh, men like that annoy the fuck out of me.) Ricky interviews and starts crying. Already. Good grief!

Anyway, let's get down to brass tacks - the designers get Heidi Mail, saying that they should head to Bryant Park. Wow - everyone gets to show this season? Where's the competition?

Just kidding, they get to the park and meet Tim and Heidi while sipping champagne. Heidi makes sure to mention Tim's new job (he's not at Parsons anymore). And then they present the challenge. Quite simply, they have to design an outfit that best expresses who they are as designers. And they can choose from a lot of expensive fabric which is hidden in 3 tents across the park.

Now, on the one hand this seems like a silly challenge to start with - there's no restrictions, really. But as I thought about it, I wondered if the producers chose to do things this way so that no one could whine that, "The only reason I was eliminated first is because I had to design with aluminum foil." Well anyway, we'll see how this goes.

And they're off! The designers charge across the park and grab fabric desperately, as if this was a Barney's clearance sale. Chris just has to shuffle along, because the man is rather...portly. Rotund, perhaps. Anywho, he isn't complaining, as the one fabric he could see from a distance he wanted is still there. Meanwhile, we learn that Elisa is a bit odd. She is rubbing a fabric on the grass to make it stain. Because she often "imbues fabrics with things from the earth, like tea." Uh...huh...

Next up the designers enter the workroom, and you can feel the excitement. Tim comes in to explain the parameters (they only have about 16 hours), and leaves them with a little "Make it work," to make us all feel warm and fuzzy inside.

The designers set to work, but with 15 of them we don't get much time to focus on any of them. We do see that everyone can tell Elisa is a bit odd (she uses herself as a dress form while sewing a skirt), Sweet P and Simone have time management issues, and the girls think Jack looks hot. Because he kind of is.

Tim comes in midway for his usual checking up. He questions that Christian has made the back of his jacket appear asymmetrical. He loves what Rami is putting together. He also points out that Simone has a lot to get done.

As the designers continue to work, Elisa announces that she's done. The others can't believe her, but she seriously goes into the lounge and takes a nap. Crazy AND lazy! Anywho, they wrap up for the night.

Next morning, we get a gratuitous shot of Jack in his underwear getting dressed. Ahem. His basket overfloweth.

Back in the workroom, the designers scramble to work on details, but to no avail, as Tim announces that the models are here. The models are assigned, and fittings begin. Christian (who is so very full of himself) is glad that his model (Lisa) likes his design. But when she says she sees a lot of great designs around the room, he retorts that he sees a lot of crap. Bitchy McBitcherson, that one.

Runway! Heidi! Michael Kors! Nina Garcia! Ah, it's like I'm putting on a warm cashmere robe. Welcome home! Our guest judge is "big designer" Monique Lhuillier. I think she mostly does wedding dresses? Whatev - on with the show!

Jillian's dress is an orange halter style with a shorter flared bottom. She's included what I believe is her signature - hidden pockets. I like the idea of pockets on a dress as long as they aren't obvious. And here they're not. So, I like this outfit. Simple, but nice.

Christian is mixing an older style with something modern - a puffy jacket in brown and black plaid, with a black ruffle in the front. The bottom is an asymmetrical beige skirt. It's unique, but I'd like it more if it had some real color to it. In something like green or orange it would be veyr striking.

Jack's outfit looks nice, with a split halter top and knee-length skirt which is all white with a black print, edged by turquoise. It definitely is attractive, but I think he relied too much on the fabric print.

Kevin's design bored me. It's a double-layered black and red dress with a silver bodice covering the middle. Also, this should be the time to point out that the models this year are mostly terrible! Where did they find these girls - in line at Burlington Coat Factory? I know I poke fun at Top Model, but any of the girls on there right now could model better than the ones we're seeing now.

Getting back to the runway, Chris' design is chic, with a floor length amethyst fitted skirt, and a wrapped halter in a gold and purple print. Again, simple but lovely.

Marion's design may not have impressed others, but it was one of my favorites because it's different and more daring. It looks like a cross between lingerie and a Butterick pattern. Which sounds bad, but it's not.

Kit puts a red half-bodice (on one side only) over a plain print in black and gray. *snore*

Steven came up with what looks like a nicely tailored black suit accented with a red scarf. It's not very daring, but it's certainly well made.

Carmen has designed something right out of Aladdin. Black Arabian pants are topped by a gold print sleeveless jacket over an orange shirt and some big fugly bow at the neck. It's creative, but I don't love it.

Sweet P's outfit makes no sense to me. It's a shapeless dress in beige print, with red detailing and the top and bottom, and pastel blue/purple straps.

Ricky did a baby doll dress in a silver print. And that's it. Seriously - that's it. I'm so bored with it that I'm afraid drool will start slipping out of the side of my mouth.

Victorya has a layered black mini dress, with a big metallic silver flower at the left breast. But across the upper arms are horizontal straps that basically mean she can't lift her arms. A bit dull, I thought.

And now here comes Elisa's. From the front, it's a lovely turquoise number with one shoulder exposed. I like it...oh wait. Here's the back. It's like a bunch of shredded fabric just sticking out a hole in the back, leading to a long train. Which the model (Lea) trips on. Yuck. It's like a dress that's just half-good.

Simone's is a really dull halter in beige (with a little yellow above it) covered by a little shrug jacket in a metallic print. The jacket is totally discordant with the dress. Not good.

And then we have Rami's dress. It's a glamorous gray dress with many layers - some loose, others flowing. It all meets with a bow at the shoulder. I do like it, even if it's not earth-shattering.

And now the judgments. All but 6 are dismissed, as those others got high enough scores to move on - Carmen, Chris, Jack, Jillian, Kevin, Kit, Marion, Steven, and Sweet P.

The judges comments make it clear that the top 3 are Victorya, Rami and Christian. Michael isn't bothered by the horizontal straps on Victorya's dress, as he knows many women that will squeeze into something painful and impractical if it's beautiful. They actually like the assymetry on the back of Christian's jacket. And they love everything on Rami's dress except the bow, which Michael thinks is a little too precious.

Meanwhile, the bottom 3 are Ricky (for doing something way too easy), Simone (for having a dress that doesn't make sense and looks unfinished) and Elisa (duh).

The judges deliberate. Of note, Heidi wrote down that Elisa's dress looks like it was "pooing fabric." Ha! And also, true.

We return and hear the drumbeats of doom. Yay! I have missed those highly dramatic percussionists. Victorya is in. And now the winner...Rami! Which is nice. Did I mention that he's very, very pretty? You can feel Christian's withering gaze pierce the TV screen, but he's gracious when told he is also in.

Ricky is in. Seriously? I totally would have eliminated him. Anywho, let's talk with the bottom 2. Simone, your design was odd and was poorly constructed. Elisa, you are nuttier than a fruitcake. But for having such a lovely front to her dress, Elisa is spared. Auf weidersehen, Simone. I can't say we'll remember you until you show up at the reunion.

So what was with the lack of creativity this week? I blame it on the openness of the challenge. I've noticed that when I'm dancing in an improvisation piece, the best work seems to come out of scores where we're given a lot of restrictions. Having fewer options forces you to think in new directions. Having a world of options may actually be stifling. So here's hoping next week we're off to a remnant rug sale or something!

Heather and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

The title of this post pretty much sums up what happened on America's Next Top Model this week, but for those of you that want to hear more - read on!

Previously on Top Model - Tyra gave Sarah an eating disorder. Discuss.

This week, Lisa is feeling the pressure of doing well, and wants to get better. Meanwhile, Bianca continues her campaign to try and tear down Heather through mind games. Because Bianca is determined that Heather can't handle the pressure. Foreshadowing!

The girls go to meet Benny Ninja at a fashion institute, and some guy from Elite Model Management, who may or may not be the brother of Adam West. Benny (who I'm tiring of, honestly) explains that with this challenge, the girls will be paired up with some design students who will be trying to create a look using this hideous pale blue mother-of-the-bride dress. The girls will serve as "muses" to "inspire" the students. And then they'll have to sell it in a runway fashion show.

This begins a sequence that calls to mind the bridal dress challenge from season one of Project Runway. The girls chat it up, the designers listen, the girls go home and wait for a miracle.

And while they're at home, Bianca laments that she hasn't won a challenge or been called first at panel. And in an odd shot, it appears Ambreal rubs Jenah's shoulder suggestively. I swear, sometimes I think the camermen on this show are desperate to catch anything remotely lesbionic. Anywho, we have to hear (AGAIN) how Ambreal got a second chance and wants to impress, blah, blah. Then DO SOMETHING, girl!

Now it's time for the show. The girls are thrown a curveball, however. Not only do they have to work the runway, but they will each have to briefly say something pithy (and unscripted) about how they were a muse for their designer. Many worried looks ensue.

First up is Bianca in a ballerina dress that reminds me of that heinous thing Lara Flynn Boyle wore a few years back. But Bianca is eloquent and fierce, which impresses the Elite dude (and some woman from Seventeen, who is also there as a judge). And then Heather, well...she freezes up. She chokes on her words. It's not good. For this she proceeds to (backstage) keen and gnash her teeth and other assorted negative reactions. Methinks that our little Heather is a perfectionist. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just saying. (You want to see perfectionist? Let me tell you how many times I edited this post in the last 10 minutes.)

Anywho, Ambreal is sickeningly cutesy. Jenah is fierce, and should have totally won. Lisa has the best outfit, but also flubs her monologue and weeps about it. Chantal is just average. Saleisha shows confidence, and leaves with a wink. Hilariously, Jenah interviews about the wink and gags. Jenah, you are my hero. Anywho, the judges give critiques (although we only see the best and worst). Saleisha wins and gets to choose two friends to join her in a photo shoot for Seventeen to model jewelry. She chooses Lisa and Bianca. And y'all - as much as I think Bianca can be stank, she took a great photo.

Back at the house, the girls get their Tyra Mail, while Heather calls dibs on the shower. After they learn learn it's something about "the heat is on," Lisa and Saleisha make a beeline for the shower. And this causes Heather to freak the fuck out. Like, it's clear she's had a rough morning, but even I have to say she's being a bit harsh. Regardless, she gets into the shower with the girls while yelling at them, and it's a hot mess. Anywho, we'll get to that later.

Next the girls are dropped off in a "desert" in the "middle of nowhere." Which probably means it's like 2 miles from Burbank. OJ comes up to meet them, and takes them to the shoot. For this photo shoot they will each be portraying a woman who has had her car break down and apparently set on fire, although tame enough that it doesn't explode. Or something. Whatever - the point is showing desperation. Hair and makeup time!

OJ is happy with Bianca, but can tell that Heather is off her game. Chantal tries to avoid a wardrobe malfunction, while Saleisha has to stop being so posey. Ambreal, well, take a guess. Jenah rocks it out. Lisa seems scattered.

Back at the house, the girls, in a surprisingly rational way, confront Heather about her earlier freak out. She protests that she had a bad day, and the girls just don't understand. But Ambreal pipes up and is like, uh-uh, if ANYONE has a right to complain about having hard times in this competition, it's me. True that. So it all boils down to the girls saying that Heather has to not let the tough days turn her into a raging bitch. I think that they get that she is challenged socially, so they want to be a bit more supportive than if this same freak out had come from, say, Bianca.

Panel! Prizes, judges. Guest judge is the Elite's Mr. West clone. While introducing the judges, it's freaky, because it's like a Chinese dragon is popping up on the screen a couple times in the back. Honestly, I thought I was hallucinating. In fact, ScottE and I rewinded it to see if we were both seeing the same mirage. Turns out it was a wink and a nod, because out trots a big ol' dragon. Tyra goes into a dumb little sketch, but the point is (if you haven't guessed by now), the girls are going to China! Awesome. They completely wig out. But it's more harsh than other seasons - this time they announced it just before an elimination. Ouch. Anyway, it's onto the photos.

Ambreal's shot is terrible. She just sits cross-legged, looking grumpy. I'm sure she's a nice girl and all, but this just ain't her bag.

Bianca is definitely looking pissed off and strong. A bit masculine for my taste, but it's certainly well done.

Chantal has unquestionably her best photo so far, getting a nice sunbeam on her face while showing off the outfit to nice effect.

Heather's is pretty good, although once Ms. J says she looks like she has to pee, I couldn't think of anything else. Certainly not her best. (But loads better than a certain girl whose name rhymes with "sangreal.")

Jenah's shot is just...OK, I'm going to say it. Jenah is my new favorite. She is just taking INCREDIBLE shots week after week. This one is no exception, as her hair is wild and loose, while she shows off her dress really well. I love you, Bug Eyes!

Lisa has an interesting shot, where she sits on a piece of luggage. There's something about it I like, although Ms. J once again points out correctly that her posture makes the dress look shapeless, and she's not showing off her long limbs.

Saleisha is kind of the dark horse of the competition, as her photos are quietly improving each week. For some reason this shot reminds me of Rihanna's "Shut Up & Drive" video, which makes no sense, but whatever. It's a good song!

The judges deliberate. They still love Heather even if the shot isn't her best. Nigel is starting to love Saleisha's presence at panel. Tyra thinks Chantal looks like Cheryl Teigs. True, if Chantal got much bigger boobies. In a close-up shot, I notice that Bianca's eyelashes are casting an unflattering shadow on her nose.

7 beautiful girls, but only 6 are going to China (hence, the photos in her hands). First photo goes to...Bianca. Which, OK. I totally would have picked Jenah, but I will say Bianca is improving. Next, the photos go to Jenah, Saleisha, Chantal and Heather. Heather is on the verge of tears. Will Lisa and Ambreal step forward?

Lisa, the judges think you are declining. Ambreal, they think you're pretty and all, but...oh who are we kidding. Ain't no way they were going to let the girl they tried to eliminate two weeks ago have the chance to go to China. Photo goes to Lisa.

Ambreal takes it in stride. Lisa cries.

Next week - China! China is the new black. But not lead-based black paint. Also there will be Cover Girl commercials. Hey, at least they won't have to do it in Chinese! (That's a vague reference to the Japan hijinks of an earlier season.)

I'll be back tomorrow with your first Project Runway recap of the season. Woot! But if you want to read up now, check out Barbie's post!