October 31, 2007

Models Save The Earth

When we last left the girls of Top Model, we learned that being the week's narrator is a bad, bad thing. Janet was sent off to work on her Liza With a Z impression, while Ambreal remained to teach us how to dance The Robot. Who will be eliminated...TONIGHT?

Ebony talks with Jenah, and tries to figure out how to get less criticism. She decides she needs to smile more. Meanwhile, Ambreal tells her dad that what she needs is prayer. True dat. And Bianca tries to help Heather a bit, by suggesting she do a shoot with all face-on shots.

Jenah then goes to answer the door and it's Tyson Beckford. It's funny because she's so flabbergasted, she just kind of stands in his way in the door. Hee!

Tyson gathers them together to talk about being a spokesmodel. Truth told? He's really not much for offering good advice. Not that the girls pay attention anyway - they are giggling like 12 year-olds. Anywho, he tells them to get a product from the kitchen and "sell it." His techinque appears to be selling it in the sluttiest way possible. Which naturally the girls are happy to do when playing off him as a partner. He's rather fond of Heather's wine glass, and takes a bite out of Ambreal's mango (NOT a sexual euphemism, even if it sounds like it). You'll be shocked to hear that Ebony just kind of doesn't do much and tries to grin her way through it. *sigh* I'm tiring of her.

Moving on, the girls go meet Tyson again, where he tells them about their challenge for the week. They will be breaking into groups of 3, and coming up with a 30-second PSA for Keep A Child Alive - an organization that provides emergency funding to AIDS clinics throughout Africa. You have 30 minutes. Go!

Sarah, Ebony and Saleisha get really excited as they hit upon their idea. But Ambreal, Heather and Jenah struggle to come up with a concept (they appear to be a group of analytical thinkers). Bianca quickly comes up with an idea, and Lisa and Chantal latch on and run with it. Now let's see those PSAs!

Bianca's group starts strong with a hear/see/speak no evil concept. But then Bianca totally boffs all her lines, and it ends up looking pretty shitty. Jenah's group does rather well with an INXS-drop-a-bunch-of-signs concept, although one of them drops and is REALLY loud. Sarah's group is a strong feminist concept. It was my favorite.

When it's time to hear the results, the director lady actually liked Jenah's group best, as Sarah's group made a mistake in the facts they listed. So the group gets some fancy body products from Carol's Daughter, and a random draw will choose the one big winner...which is Heather! And get this - she'll go directly to a photo shoot for Carol's Daughter, where the artistic director will be Mary J. Blige! Hott.

Although we learn that the extent of Mary's "direction" is like, "Um, I guess that dress might work." Regardless, Heather does a nice job with the shoot and gets some practice with those face-on shots. Then Heather gets to sit down with Mary J a bit, and then gets the most awkward hug ever. Um...weird. I think Tyra totally put her up to this as a favor collected or something.

Heather comes back to the house, and there is actually very little jealousy. Instead, the girls are all eating together and focusing on the fact that Ebony drops this bomb - she wants to go home. Dun-dun-dun! She now thinks modeling isn't for her. And she's homesick. In other words, the quitter excuses we hear season after season. Ugh! What is your deal, Ebony? Also, Bianca practices smiling with her eyes. No, it wasn't exciting when you were watching it, either. But we do find out that Bianca sees Heather as her biggest competition. Hmm, what's my response to that? Oh yes. DUH!

Time for the photo shoot, where the girls (getting back to the Al Gore green theme) will portray recyclable products. Heather does her whole photo shoot face-on (as Bianca suggested), and OJ is blown away. Saleisha gets a little restless and almost tears down her whole set! Ebony...does a whole lotta nothing. When OJ asks her what's up, she gives her usual trite response. Dude, this girl is toast. Conversely, he's impressed that Jenah really seems to be listening, absorbing, learning and getting better every week. Bianca smiles with her eyes. And apparently the world comes to a stop or something. Ambreal...dead in the face and just about everywhere else. I'm just not sure this thing is for her, honestly.

Panel! Prizes. Judges. Guest judge is Tyson. And Nigel tries one of Ms. J's afro wigs and it's silly. Did I mention that Ms. J is wearing an afro wig in increasing size each week? Odd, but better than those neck ruffles last cycle. Let us be judgemental!

Saleisha is getting better, and gives good face as "car parts." I'm not sold on the body, though.

Jenah is a stunner as "cardboard!" The judges can't get enough.

Ambreal is newspapers and looks like she's asleep. She tries to explain it away, but you can tell the judges are like..."You're done."

Lisa portrays plastic bottles, and just didn't nail it this time. She still has nice legs, but it's like she went back to the same pose she did in week 2.

Bianca is smiling with her eyes as "oil" but her stiff arm in the front of the shot gets critcized. Good, but not as good as Jenah.

Sarah gives an interesting fashion pose as garbage bags. Then strangely, the Nigel points out AGAIN that he thinks she's losing weight. Maybe just a touch, but I really don't think it's noticeable. And it's sad, because I so think they are going to kick her out for this bizarre reason.

Ebony's shot is ass. In fact, she has a snarl in her mouth. What's really sad? This was her best "bubble wrap" shot. Imagine how bad the others were! It's like she's just trying to go home every way she can.

Chantal's shot is really cool in my opinion, with her hair tossed in the air and shredded paper flying around her. But Tyson says too much of her face is missing. Except he's wrong! So says me!

Heather gives a really strong face-on shot as aluminum cans. Twiggy is thrilled to see it, and Tyra mentions that now Heather should have confidence that she can nail any shot.

The judges deliberate. They really just say the same things, and it's already apparent who the bottom two will be, so let's hop to it.

9 beautiful ladies, 8 photos. And the first photo goes to...Saleisha? Seriously? I mean, she was better, but no way she was better than Jenah or Heather. Middle of the pack if you ask me. But anyway, the other photos go to Jenah, Heather, Bianca, Sarah, Chantal, and Lisa. Will Ambreal and Ebony please step forward?

Ambreal, you have yet to prove that you are not in fact one of the living dead when on a photo set. Ebony, you know how to model, but you just sucked it. And now...the drama!

Tyra reveals the photo is for Ebony. Barely missing a beat, Ebony says that in fact she would like to go home. She has trouble getting the words out, as she keeps breaking into (crocodile!) tears. With a smile, Tyra says, "You know what I think is not for you? People telling you what to do. The most unattractive thing in the world to me is a quitter. And for that, you may go." Slam! I mean, I know Tyra HAD to have known this was coming (producers do talk to each other), but still. Damn. Jenah gets her biggest bug eyes yet!

Thus Tyra tells Ambreal that she has received a reprieve. Ambreal cries and thanks God and her lucky stars and so forth. Will this be the break she needs? Or will she continue to demonstrate that she thinks modeling is only from the neck down? (I'm putting my money on the latter.)

As a poignant moment to close the show (or perhaps as a stick-it-to-her and fuck-you moment), the editors throw in Ebony's audition tape where she just BEGS to get picked for the show. And to think we could have had the half-blind bartender girl from Boston instead of her!

Next week - a clip show. Bleh. But the week after - the girls do a music video! It will be just like Josie and the Pussycats, I'll bet. And a girl gets sick! Yep, I've already written out the whole plot in my head - the girls whisper that Sarah isn't eating enough, then she gets sick, then she's eliminated for not being plus-sized enough. Lame, but likely!

Actually we're at the halfway point(ish), so let's go with my predictions for how the rest of the season plays out. I predict that Ambreal lasts two weeks at best (because she just can't do this), and Sarah around the same time for a stupid reason. Next to go will be Saleisha and Chantal, who will both be kicked for "being inconsistent." That leaves a final four of Heather, Jenah, Bianca and Lisa. As much as I adore Jenah, I predict she will have something horrible happen in a photo shoot or commercial, and will be let go. Then Bianca will be sent home to allow for a two nice girls finale. Lisa and Heather battle it out on the runway, and Heather wins!

* Note - I have no prior knowledge of what's going to happen, and I wouldn't go to Vegas on my predictions. In fact, there's a good chance I'll be wrong!

What are your predictions?

October 28, 2007

You're So Amazing

In case you hadn't heard, CBS swiftly canceled a really bad show. And as if that wasn't already good enough news, it also means they had an opening in their schedule. Waiting in the wings and ready to step into the limelight? The Amazing Race! (Yes, I'm excited. I got over the trauma of the horrific "All-Stars" season.)

You can go and check out the teams for season 12, and make your own pre-judgements. We have the usual suspects - potentially bickering couples, a parent/child team, siblings, a bitchy gay, and pretty blondes. But we also have an unusual Goth couple, scary-looking hair (TK - they're called scissors) and the first ever grandfather/grandson team! As if that weren't enough, we also have a lesbian couple that are both Episcopal clergy - which should be interesting considering all the recent controversy that church has faced concerning gay folk. Intriguing!

And there are more bizarre names in one place than I've seen in a long time. Wish me luck in having to type names like Hendekea and Vyxsin over and over!

And for you die-hard Race fans, check out Television Without Pity's analysis of what one recapper thinks are the 10 best episodes of all time. Ah, memories!

October 24, 2007

High In The Sky

The show opens on America's Next Top Model this week with a series of brief interviews with nearly all the girls. We get a little more insight into their relationships. We learn that Janet tries to act like the house mother. She is above such childish things as the naked race between Jenah and Chantal. Well, I would be too, but that's more the gay thing. Meanwhile Ambreal tells us she is going to be trying really hard, blah-blah. Red herring. Janet is narrating most of this opening sequence. Cue "Taps."

For this week's training session, the girls go to a gym to practice posing with Benny Ninja. But on a trampoline! That's crazy, Tyra! Actually it's kind of boring. I mean, unless you're like an Olympic trampoline athlete (have you seen that shit?), you don't get to jump very high. So it's not so much posing as it is flailing. Heather and Ebony find it particularly challenging. Ambreal the dancer excels.

Janet narrates. Uh oh.

So let's move onto the challenge of the week. The girls meet Olympic ice skater Lloyd Eisler. They will be doing some posing while being lifted on the ice! Now that's actually interesting. Judging the challenge will be a rep from Seventeen magazine, Benny, and former winner Danielle (whom I will not refer to as "Dani" no matter how often the show shoves it down my throat). The girls practice, and then go for it.

Unfortunately the challenge is hampered by the fact that Benny shouts out an emotion they are supposed to portray while managing to execute a complex lift. This leads to unbearably cheezy smiles from Ebony and Ambreal in particular. Heather, bless her heart, can't even get off the ground. But we do get some nice posing from Jenah and Bianca. Unbelievably, the judges "unanimously voted" for Lisa, even though she appeared to kind of suck. I swear there are things they don't show us, because no way she was the best.

Janet narrates. Figured out what's coming?

Anywho, this naturally leads to jealousy and trash-talking both in the green bus and at home. Jenah and Bianca in particular are spreadin' the shit. I'd give them a hard time, but I'm with them on this one.

Photo shoot time, and the girls head up to the top floor of a high hotel. This is when we learn that Ambreal is deathly afraid of heights. She pulls it together enough to listen to OJ explain the shot. They will be standing on a short platform, to give the illusion that they're on the edge of the building. And they will be high fashion "gargoyles". But look at the pictures, children - how on earth are these gargoyle-like?

Whatever, I don't get to argue. The girls all get nearly identical outfits and fake ponytails. Now pose! OJ is bothered that Sarah isn't being creative, and Janet lacks anything interesting. Ebony still looks like she's swallowed a lemon when talking to OJ, yet she's all fierce in her photo. What's up with that? And Ambreal manages to overcome her fear enough to get through the shoot, although she isn't amazing.

Janet hopes she did well. Let's see, shall we?

Time for panel. There are prizes, there are judges. The guest judge is Benny. I confess I'm tiring of him. But on with the critiques!

Ambreal looks like some weird model-bot. And it's not just her eyes that are dead - she's dead from the neck up. Can you get full-head botox injections?

Bianca really brought it this week, as she is comfortable in her (bald) skin. Her photo isn't too scary/gargoyle, but it's definitely high-fashion.

Chantal's photo is more men's magazine to me, but the judges think it errs on the side of tasteful.

Ebony pulls off making an awkward pose look really hot. Yet she still won't really smile for the judges! She confesses that she's self-conscious about her gums. I don't buy that, as she was all smiles during the semi-finals show. You notice we don't even see interviews with her? I swear something odd is going on there.

Heather's shot is pretty good, but not her best. The judges rightly point out that every week her best shot has been in profile. They really want to see her do something more frontal, as she's beautiful. Hear-hear!

Janet's photo is just...wrong. She looks tiny, her leg is odd, her expression just looks mad. It's bad. (Not Viva Laughlin bad, but still.)

Jenah has a pose that isn't very unique, but she does manage to show off her long legs to good effect.

Lisa really brought it! She's showing movement and emotion. You get a nice sense of the clothes. And the pose is interesting. Love!

The judges think Saleisha looks pretty good, but I think it's ass. Frankly, the photo makes her look chubby in the face, and the pose is bizarre. Hate it. I would have totally put her in the bottom two.

Sarah's photo isn't bad, it's just not interesting. She does a very generic model pose. And if you showed me the photo without telling me who it was, I don't think I'd know it was her.

The judges deliberate, and discuss such matters as Lisa being fierce, and Janet needing too much direction. Nigel comments that he thinks "this is the last week we can let [Ebony] get away with not smiling in front of us." She is on notice! This will either mean she goes soon, or will have "the journey" and make the final two.

Ten girls, nine photos. First photo of course goes to Lisa. And then the remaining photos go to Bianca, Ebony, Chantal, Jenah, Saleisha, Heather, and Sarah. Will Ambreal and Janet please step forward?

Ambreal, you need to show that you are not made of plastic and metal. Janet, you just haven't delivered. Like at all. So the last photo goes to...Ambreal.

Janet thinks the modeling world has a lot to offer her, and she can't wait to see what it has in store. I'm guessing modeling JC Penney fashions at the mall in Ft. Worth, but what do I know?

Next week - the girls learn how to talk good. Hopefully by getting grammar lessons.

October 23, 2007

I Hate To Say I Told You So

...but I kinda did. Viva Laughlin - canceled after just two episodes!

I don't want to say that I have the power to move networks. But I'm guessing the overwhelming raspberry from critics coupled with a bad time slot and poor ratings cinched the deal.

I guess we'll never see Melanie Griffith writhe on a bed while singing (badly) to "Like A Virgin."


October 21, 2007

Art And History

Yesterday we decided to be a little touristy, and bone up on our culture. It was a bit exhausting, and yet, we are enriched.

First up we went to the new Edward Hopper exhibit at the National Gallery. This was a lead-up to an opera we'll be seeing at the Clarice Smith Center, which is based on some of Hopper's paintings.

The exhibit was laid out pretty well, following a chronological format and each room centered on a general theme or period. It was definitely popular, with a long line just to get in!

The paintings were full of rich colors on saturated canvases. We saw many examples of Hopper's most common themes - isolation and the space that exists between people, even when they are in the same room. His paintings never portray action. Instead they take place before or after something has happened, leaving us to decide what the action was or will be. My favorite was a work I hadn't seen before called "New York Movie". While the audience enjoys the film, a lovely usherette stands in an alcove, contemplating something that we can only guess at.

After that we checked out the National Building Museum. It wasn't nearly as interesting as we'd hoped, although there was a pretty good exhibit on the changes various parts of DC have gone through over the years.

We took a break for a few beers, and then joined Stef. Her gift for ScottE's birthday was a walking tour about the assassination of Lincoln. It was actually very interesting, and our guide painted a vivid picture of the evening's events, including the conspiracy to murder not one, but four members of the administration. I was particularly riveted during the discussion of the attempted murder of Secretary of State Seward.

It was all great fun, but we are definitely tired today!

On a side note - if you haven't heard, apparently Dumbledore was gay. I did NOT see that coming. I need to fine-tune my gaydar!

October 19, 2007

Oh The Horror

Viva Laughlin, CBS's newest show is bad. Real bad. Like Britney's VMA performance bad. If this show were a smell, it would be dirty diapers mixed with limburger cheese. If it were a flavor, it would be capers dipped in maple syrup. If it were a photo, it would be Larry Craig with his pants around his ankles.

The premise? I honestly don't know. Something about a casino in Vegas trying to open. Some guy is running the show and has a daughter who's dating the vice-principal from Joan of Arcadia. One of his investors is dead. And the dead guy's husband is Melanie Griffith (perhaps he's better off this way). And somewhere in there is Hugh Jackman, apparently doing penance for punching an old lady in a former life.

And there is singing. Singing to popular songs. But not like lipsynching or even karaoke. No, this is singing directly over the original song. It happens spontaneously, and never makes sense.

I originally put my money on that caveman show to get cancelled first. But the croupier is giving me a second chance and I'm moving my bet to Viva Laughlin. Heck, it should have been canned based on the name alone!

If it were a sound, it would be Fran Drescher with a cold singing "Viva Las Vegas"...

October 17, 2007

Virgin And Proud Of It

Elizabeth: The Golden Age

While you won't find great historic accuracy, and the plot is sometimes plodding, this is still a great movie. Why? Two words - Cate Blanchett. She is more than an actress - as Elizabeth, she's a force of nature. The movie compels us to meditate on the fact that for many years the most powerful leader in Europe was a master at diplomacy, overcame a powerful Spanish armada, and was a woman. A woman that was fallible, witty and inspirational.

Beyond that we get to enjoy looking at Clive Owen in all his yumminess. And of course the costumes and settings are stunning. Too bad that director Shekhar Kapur edits in a variety of shots where the camera is at bizarre angles. What value is there in a shot taken around a pillar where we see 80% pillar and only 20% Cate? (And just her nose, at that?)

October 16, 2007

Bald Is Beautiful

When we last left the Top Model girls, there was some girl...I forgot her name... Well, whatever. *shrug*

Let's get right down to it - it's makeover time at last! And in keeping with Tyra's vague futuristic theme this season, she demonstrates what changes she's proposing through digital morphing on a screen. I don't know about that - I'd rather wait and see how things turn out.

Anywho, there is cutting, there is coloring. Among the highlights (pun intended):

- Everyone loves Heather's hair so much already, that she just gets some gentle highlights and a trim.

- Sarah gets a great shag 'do that makes her look a helluva lot like Katee Sackhoff from Battlestar Galactica. Hott.

- As is tradition - we must be educated on weaves. Chantal gets a good one. (More like extensions, really.) Jenah gets stuck with a ratty bad blonde one, poor thing. Poorer thing - Ebony. Her old wig was RUBBER GLUED TO HER HEAD. Yuck!

- Saleisha gets a black Dorothy Hamill bob. It is a nice cut, but I don't think she can work it.

- And then there was Bianca. Y'see, the Alpha Bitch has done so much shit to her hair (magenta color included), that it can't handle what they were planning to do to it. So for her benefit - she's starting fresh, and they shave it almost completely off. Naturally she cries a lot, but here's the thing - it looks fantastic. She has a beautifully shaped head. Embrace that dome, girl! They give her a wig she can wear, but it's quickly apparent that she looks better without it.

Back at the house, Chantal can't stop talking about how great her hair is. Bianca just looks sad. Is the Alpha Bitch breaking down? Will she be built back up? Meanwhile, Victoria muses on how silly modeling can seem with its outrageous outfits. I'll bet she goes far with that attitude!

Later, the girls meet up with Nigel, who introduces his lovely wife, who is a model and makeup artist. They are joined by a rep from Cover Girl which means - makeup challenge! They have to apply a look (dramatic evening), then throw on a dress with their name on it from one of many full racks of clothes. In 3 minutes. And walk the runway. Go!

There is scrambling and the expected bitching over other girls hogging mirror time. They all get it done, but Janet can't locate her designated dress and ends up in another outfit. Then we learn the winner is Sarah - yay! As a prize, she will be part of an instructional video for CG's new online "Makeup Mirror" interactive tool.

Next up, it's time for the photo shoot. This week the girls will each be portraying a flower or plant. It's just a concept, so don't read too much into it. Most of the girls do well with it, despite Victoria feeling that the whole setup is rather ridiculous. The one who has trouble is Chantal. She gets conflicting instructions from OJ and the photographer, and isn't sure how to handle it. So she handles it by...bawling and bitching about it. Y'know, I liked her before, but the whining thing will get old real fast.

Time for panel! There are judges, there are prizes. The guest judge this week is the French photographer, Lionel Deluy. Let's be judgemental!

Ambreal portrays a rose. She's getting the same critique week-to-week - amazingly articulate body, but dead in the face. Perhaps she's more well-suited to a large dance company?

Bianca is starting to come to grips with her bald pate, but doesn't quite come through as a sunflower in her photo. The judges see potential, but she needs to deliver.

Chantal has the easy task of being baby's breath, but instead just looks like Jan Brady on acid. The fact that she blames her poor performance on OJ and Lionel doesn't go over well at all.

The judges go ape over Ebony as a bird of paradise, although I think it's just OK. What's not OK is her continued awkwardness standing before the judges. Tyra demonstrates what she looks like and it's rather funny. But is it sinking in? Why is Ebony acting like a scared child?

Heather wasn't wild about being a weed, but damn if she doesn't rock it anyway. Sure, it's a bit like she's the understudy for Elphaba in Wicked, but she still looks...well...wicked (in a good way).

Janet poses as hydrangea. I don't really like it. It's more trampy than fashion.

Despite the nasty hair weave, Jenah is stunning as moss growing on a tree. I was not big on Bug Eyes the first week, but she certainly is blossoming (pun intended).

Lisa is very strong as bamboo, but the judges aren't quite as impressed as I was. I think they know she's really good, and want her to take it to the next level.

Saleisha is a tulip. But she looks like a very, very sad tulip. The judges are not impressed. Yet Saleisha thinks she did great. Disillusionment is dangerous on this show, girl!

Sarah is not only the challenge winner, but she's one of the judges' favorites as ivy. Nice work!

Victoria is a cactus, and they pounce on her photo. Ms. J points out that her neck is at an angle where it is full of folds. And once again, Victoria goes right for Twiggy, asking how she can improve. Twiggy lays it out - learn some charm, and quit being such a know-it-all! Tyra points out that perhaps Victoria should try to learn a bit from her "elders." And by elders, you know she means Twiggy. Beat her up, Twigs!

The judges deliberate, and you can guess what they're thinking, as they were really vocal this week. We get some extended replays of the great Victoria vs. Twiggy bouts. I still can hardly believe the cheek of that girl.

12 girls, 11 photos. First photo goes to Jenah! Let's get right to the obvious - the bottom two are Victoria and Saleisha. Humbling, isn't it, girls? Step forward.

Saleisha, you have the tools, but you aren't showing you can do it. Victoria, "the judges love your look, they think it's atypical, but the girl who walks into this [judging] room is not very appetizing." And of course the photo goes to Saleisha.

Maybe Victoria learned something, but I'm guessing she's walking around Yale telling people that she confirmed her hypothesis that models are vapid and uninteresting.

Next week - Ambreal is scared of heights!


Thanks to MTV (yeah, it's weird saying that), we got to see Legally Blonde - the musical!

As you might expect, the show is a bit silly and light on substance. But there are some really great songs (good luck getting "Ohmigod You Guys" and "What You Want" out of your head anytime soon). And it is of course high energy, plowing all the way to the finale. There is also one downright hilarious moment as Elle is visited by her own Greek chorus...of a different kind.

Great fun, and worth seeing on Broadway, or checking out the soundtrack. Enjoy!

October 10, 2007

Bound But Not Gagged

When we last left the girls of America’s Next Top Model, Mila was exiting the house, ready to go meet with her new bosses at Cover Girl. No one has the heart to tell her she was the first one eliminated. (Except me - see ya, Tweedledum!) 12 girls remain.

We open with Kimberly telling us that she's learning a lot, and is looking forward to learning more and bonding with the girls in the weeks ahead. All of us that are fans of the show shake our heads and say, "Aww, that's too bad." Let's just say - the editors on this show? Not subtle.

Meanwhile, a conversation is brewing amongst the girls, although it's really just Bianca and Saleisha. Sal (that is so much easier to type) starts talking about some of her past experiences with modeling. Uh oh - I fear she is getting a Sarah complex. Bianca feels the need to knock Sal down a few pegs. And thus an argument commences. Bianca can not be content to just offer some friendly advice (i.e. "Hey, Saleisha - you're coming off as a braggart, and people don't tend to like that."). Instead she starts screaming insane things, like calling Sal a "borderline plus-sized model - look in the mirror!" That is so ridiculous. Saleisha is tiny. Once again, Bianca proves she is the Alpha Bitch. I wonder if something will happen to humble her?

The girls then go to an "abandoned mental hospital" which is set up like a haunted house. Perhaps this is ANTM's attempt at a Halloween episode. Anywho, out comes Ms. J in Nurse Ratched outfit, and some of the girls scream. Come on - even I wouldn't be scared of that. And I was spooked by Gremlins.

Ms. J explains that in high fashion couture, models will sometimes be asked to wear outfits that are very tight or restrictive. And yet, they must walk. So to practice, he's going to have them practice their runway walks while wearing straitjackets. I know it doesn't make sense, but I think he's trying to show them how to think more about their head, neck and feet. Regardless, the girls get all bound up and then strut. Not much has changed since the cruise ship. Most of them are average, and Heather has a stilted walk. Oh, and we are treated to lovely comments from Bianca and Sal about why they hate each other's walks.

Then the girls head to their challenge for the week, where they meet Roy Campbell (annoying guy from past seasons) and fashion designer Colleen Quen. And their challenge - is amazingly legit. They will be walking a real, honest-to-goodness fashion show preview of Quen's line. She will then premiere the collection in Paris. And the winner of the challenge will be in that show. Nice! As you might imagine, Quen's designs tend to limit a model's movement, so they'll have to work what Ms. J taught them.

The girls do OK with the runway, although nothing spectacular. The gowns themselves are not bad, although certainly not ready to wear. I was most fond of Chantal and Janet. It was nice to see that Heather's walk improved a bit once she was in fashion and in the moment. Bianca - hoochie. And there is some odd bump between Sarah and Ebony's elbows, but it results in low drama. Jenah has it the worst, as her gown has a "tail" both in the front and the back, so she was tripping all over.

The winner is announced as...Saleisha. Eh, not my choice, but she was fine. What's more fine is to see how much that sticks in Bianca's craw. Hee.

And now it's time for this week's photo shoot. At a gym? Why yes. OJ guides them to a rock climbing wall. For this shoot, they will be up on the wall, while wearing a fierce "editorial" look. Jenah is excited, as she used to teach rock climbing or something. Way to go, Bug Eyes.

Anywho, the girls get suited up. The look is sort of like "really angry fairy". The girls go to it, and some are inspired and daring (Saleisha, Lisa, Jenah). Ebony once again freezes. She tells OJ she's scared of being in the bottom 2. He reminds her it's not about not being in the bottom 2 - if you just aim for that, you'll always be mediocre. Shoot for the stars! Let that bitch out!

We now move to judging panel pretty fast, which means there will be much to discuss. Prizes, judges. Guest judge is Roy. I don't why, I just want to smack that smile off his face. Maybe it's because I can't divorce him in my mind from the Aswirl Twins.

Ambreal has a fun wistful look in her eye, as if to say, "What the hell with these purple leggings they put me in?" Pretty good.

Bianca's photo gets silence. Not a good sign. Tyra seems to like it, but the other judges say she looks so angry. I say she looks like a drag queen.

Chantal has this interesting falling sideways look going on, but the judges rightly mention that her feet aren't making things look right.

Ebony's face is a bit off (she seems to be midway between emotions), but she's showing a long strong leg, which is nice.

Heather scores again! She looks like an adventuress in heels. Nigel asks about her eyes - the fact that her Asperger's makes her often avoid eye contact in public, yet her photos have really strong eye contact. Heather talks about her thought process, and it's all rather fascinating. But this isn't The Heather Show, so we'll move on.

Janet shows a nice elegant line at an angle from the wall. But her face is starting to bother me - it has an androgynous look - but not in a good way.

Jenah? Nailed it. She used her comfort with the environment to maneuver into an elegant standing position, giving us a come hither look. The makeup is really downplaying her bug eyes. Fabulous.

Kimberly looks like she's falling asleep. So am I.

Lisa, like Ebony, is showing a long strong leg. But she also is wisely showing all her other limbs long as well, and it's striking. She just needs to work on her expression.

Saleisha goes for bending over backwards, literally. It's certainly an exciting pose, but her reaching arm is lacking energy. It's like an 80% great picture.

Sarah has an interesting look up from below. She almost looks as if she's been surprised to see us. It's not bad.

Victoria has the love it or hate it look for this week. With arms knotted up, she peers at us with those huge saucer eyes. Some of the judges think it's brilliant (Nigel), others not so much (Twiggy). And Victoria totally interrupts Twiggy to ask for feedback. So not a good idea, Yale.

The judges deliberate. Naturally the Twiggy/Victoria standoff is discussed - one of the models picking on Twiggy is so unusual, no one knows how to handle it! Also as mentioned, Tyra is a big fan of Bianca's photo, but no one else likes it.

12 beautiful ladies, 11 photos. The first photo goes to...Jenah! Rightly so. She rocked it. Also safe are Heather, Lisa, Chantal, Sarah, Ambreal, Victoria, Saleisha, Janet and Ebony (who really sweats it towards the end). Will Bianca and Kimberly step forward?

Bianca, your photo looks angry, and all the judges but one hate it. Kimberly, you are boring, but Tyra loves your ears. (The hell? That's an odd choice. Frankly, I don't like her ears at all.) And the photo goes to...Bianca. Because the bitch is back. Kimberly, hug Tyra, and let her feel up your ears.

Kimberly probably said something, but I don't care, because I barely remember her being a part of the show. I'm ready for next week - makeovers!

October 08, 2007

United 93

Although I generally reserve my video reviews to a few sentences, one recent film deserves more. United 93, written and directed by Paul Greengrass (he of the excellent last two Bourne movies), is one of the best movies I've ever seen. This is why.

Featuring mostly unknown and little-known actors (Cheyenne Jackson was familiar to me), the film is a minute-by-minute account of what happened on that single flight, and also what was happening in the control towers on the ground. The rampant confusion and miscommunication is a microcosm of what was happening for all of us around the world as we struggled to understand what the news was saying and what to believe.

This movie is unusual for several reasons:

1. You already know what's happening. And you wish desperately you could stop it.

2. Unless you're under the age of 10, you remember this as a part of your own experience. So the film has a personal connection, like it or not.

3. The script moves at a constant pace. There's not time for breath, nor time for a break.

When this movie came out in 2006, I'm sad to say that I wasn't strong enough to see it. I wasn't ready to deal with the pain I knew it would bring up. And that's unfortunate, as I now think this was hands-down the best film of that year. If only the Academy and the country had been ready.

But the truth is, we're never ready. The pain of 9/11 is one that we would all like to forget, but we can't. I'm thankful that this film finally gave me the chance to grieve in a way I was never able to before.

It is a tribute to the passengers of United 93. It is a loving memory to all those who lost their lives or their loved ones on that day. It is a grim reminder to us all that our world will never be the same.

So thank you, passengers and crew of United flight 93, for your bravery, courage and determination. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives were saved. We are forever in your debt.

Please see this movie. Open your heart. Weep openly. Hug your loved ones. Never forget.

And if you are so moved and wish you could do something, you can. Consider a donation to the Flight 93 National Memorial, or any of the other excellent charities related to the 9/11 tragedy.

October 04, 2007

The Best Book Ever

I'm just putting this out there - my favorite book of all time. So good that I read all 970 pages again recently and was thrilled all over again. It's called The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

An epic novel set in the dark ages of England, it's a story interwoven with the narratives of five main characters. Tom, the visionary stonemason; William, the bloodthirsty knight; Aliena, the headstrong daughter of an earl; Jack, the relentlessly curious lad; and Phillip, the idealistic monk. They carry forward a tale that lasts for decades and follows the rise and fall of kings.

All of this is centered on the building of a cathedral. Sounds fascinating, no? OK, maybe not - but soon you'll be swept into cathedral architecture, and saying things like, "Ah yes, the clerestory. Of course."

And my timing is ideal, as Follett is about to release a sequel, 18 years later. It's called World Without End. I can't wait! Squeeee!!!!!!!!!!

October 03, 2007

Insert Blonde Joke Here

The season is really beginning for our Top Model bitches, as they meet OJ in some random L.A. location. As usual he says nothing of substance, so let's cut to the chase - he's here to show them their ride for the season. But it is not just any luxury stretch limo, no!

For you see, this is the season of Tyra trying even harder to be Oprah. Thus, it is the season of social consciousness. So the girls will be riding in a bus that is both green and green (in the Al Gore sense). Inside it is both green with grass, and also green (Gore again). Mila says something really dumb about how environmental issues are cool or something. Mila saying dumb things is going to be a theme this week.

Then the girls go see their house, which even I must admit is probably the nicest so far. Pictures of Tyra and Jaslene adorn the walls. And here and there are reminders on how the girls should be Gore-green, such as limiting the time of their showers. Kimberly solves this problem by having an orgy in the tub. (Or just a group pile - it was hard to see in between the bodies.) What might not be so green is the lighted runway for the girls to practice. Then again, maybe the bulbs underneath are halogen? Who am I to judge?

Oh right, I'm a recapper - it's my JOB to judge! Speaking of judging, Saleisha, Bianca and Lisa do the now standard impression of Tyra doing an elimination ceremony. Saleisha portrays Tyra, and chooses Bianca to stay. Bianca is all, "That's right, SEE ya!" Bianca being a bitch to Lisa? Also a theme.

Meanwhile, Heather's personality challenges surface, as she has trouble relating to the other girls. They begin talking behind her back, but for now aren't being very malicious. Yet.

Ms. J stops by for a visit, and freaks me out a bit, as he's...dressed like a man. Is that drag for him? Anywho, he's here to give the girls some advice for their day-to-day fashion sense. The message? Bitches need to stop showing up to panel looking like a gypsy (yes, we mean you, JADE). To test this, they will be heading to Old Navy to pick out an appropriate outfit.

Meeting them at the tres chic Old Navy - HAHAHAHA!!!!. Sorry, I can't even type that with a straight face. Anywho, meeting them is Benny Ninja, poser (not poseur) extraordinaire. He reminds them of some of Ms. J's suggestions and then tells them it's a contest. They get 10 minutes to find a look to wear to panel. The winner will be announced there.

Much tearing apart of the store. Most of the girls opt for jeans and a tank. Mila is all proud of the dress she picked, though. And Ms. Ebony is a mess, as she didn't manage to put the outfit on, and stands in front of Benny with no pants on. He takes the opening for a lame joke. Moving on!

The girls meet OJ for their first photo shoots as finalists. Tyra is socially conscious! So they will be doing a shoot that demonstrates the horrors of smoking. They each take 2 shots - one smoking and looking cool, and another (which will be a mirror reflection) of a smoking-related affliction. And with 13 girls? They really stretch those afflictions. I mean - a face tumor? That looks like the Grand Canyon on Lisa's face? Bizarre.

Anywho, the girls try their best - some take to it easily (Sarah, Heather), some find it more challenging than they thought (Ebony) and others have mixed results (Bianca).

Backstage, we are witness to the most ghetto arguement ever between Bianca and Lisa. This continues after the shoot, with Bianca attacking Lisa for her career choice - "You think America's Next Top Model is gonna be a strippah? Uh-uh!!!!" (Queens accent.) Lisa is brought to tears. Meanwhile, Victoria is above it all and hates catfights. Because you know she goes to Yale. So it's a real annoyance for her to be down here amongst us mortals. OJ comes to break up the fight.

Back at home, Bianca apologizes to Lisa in the hot tub. Of course, she then interviews that she only apologized as a strategic move - "I just don't want it to come up in panel." Now here I thought Ebony was Alpha Bitch, but I was wrong. She's like...Gamma Bitch. All hail Bianca, Bitch Supreme!

Now the girls recommence trash-talking Heather behind her back, and Kimberly is particularly snotty - "I don't want to get close - those kind of people become clingy." Heather then has a tearful call home with her mother, who tries to be encouraging. Heather wants to rise above her Asperger's, but she doesn't feel she can trust any of the girls. (Probably for the best, girl - chin up!)

Judging panel! There are prizes (same as last year) and judges (same as last year). So let's judge photos and outfits, shall we?

Ambreal shows good poise, even when coughing up blood. Not too shabby.

Bianca has dead eyes and her passive hand is all twisted in her glamour pose. But her scary teeth shot is well done.

Chantal does pretty well, but she's also a bit generic pretty for my taste right now. We'll see what a makeover can do for her.

Ebony looks like she's made of wood - girl has lost her mojo. Apparently she's so scared of not being liked, that she can't perform. Wow - I might have to downgrade her to Omega Bitch.

Heather and Saleisha do a duo dual photograph to show the effects of secondhand smoke. There isn't too much energy between them, but they both photograph really nicely. Saleisha has great eyes, and Heather shows off her beautiful jawline.

Janet and Jenah both look fine, but are unexceptional. The judges feel the same.

Kimberly gets called out by Tyra for putting too much "hooch" in her shot.

Lisa has some saucy legs to good effect, but that facial tumor thing is just silly.

Mila sits with one ass cheek lifted, and Ms. J rightly says she looks like she just farted. Also OJ reports that she wasn't taking her chemotherapy photo seriously (she wasn't, she couldn't stop laughing). As the judges talk, Mila's eyes glaze over, and she pictures a planet full of unicorns.

Sarah does great, showing off her full length of leg, and looking appropriately upset for her premature aging shot. Very nice! My favorite this week.

Victoria looks a bit trampy, but she's from Yale, so it doesn't matter. I will give her props for a good shot with a "stillborn child." Also, Victoria makes a mistake by arguing a bit with Twiggy (saying she's not lacking in confidence - she's just shy). Tyra cautions her against appearing arrogant.

And now to announce the challenge winner - it's Saleisha! She's got on a wispy chocolate brown babydoll dress with a simple red necklace. It's cute. As a prize, she wins a $1,000 shopping spree at Old Navy. So...she can buy the whole store? Also she'll shoot an ad for Old Navy. Much better prize. As long as she doesn't have to do a shoot with that dog and Morgan Fairchild.

The judges deliberate. Ms. J is down on Jenah, and Twiggy is no fan of Janet's. They really enjoy the ease that Heather, Lisa and Sarah exhibited. Nigel wants Chantal to be a bit "ugly beautiful." Tyra wants Kimberly to check the hooch.

13 beautiful girls... But first! Tyra is socially conscious. So this year she is banning smoking. On the show, that is. She might try to ban smoking world-wide, though - so watch out! Jenah, the one regular smoker in the bunch gets buggier eyes than normal. Of course, girls desperate for a cigarette will probably be bitchier - and you know that will be fun!

Now we move onto 13 beautiful girls, 12 photos. And the first photo goes to...Heather! She's quite shocked, and appears unsure what to do, but then accepts her photo. Also safe are Lisa (eat it, Bianca), and then Chantal, Sarah, Jenah, Saleisha, Ambreal, Victoria, Janet, Kimberly, and Bianca. Will Ebony and Mila please step forward?

Ebony (crying already), you are beautiful - some even say (Nigel) the most beautiful here. But you have to put it in the photo. Mila (singing along to the Brady Bunch in her head), you are pretty. That's about it.

And the photo goes to...Ebony (duh). Mila, come give us a hug! Now, Mila has this look that totally says, "What? Did I win? Am I America's Next Top Model? I'd better pose and look pretty!" And back at the house, she says she's surprised, as she thought she'd win. Or did she win? Seriously - girl is DUMB. To call her the stupidest ANTM contestant to-date...is that going too far? I think not. All hail the Queen Idiot!

Next week - something scary happens. And bitchy arguing continues. For Tyra's next cause, she will be saving the whales. See you then!

October 01, 2007

Rounding Out Premiere Week

After watching Monday night's shows, here's how the rest of my TV week went.

On Tuesday we tried out the new CW show - Reaper. It was fun - a little bit quirky, with some laugh out loud moments. And how can you not love his schlubby best friend with a name like Sock? So we enjoyed it, and I plan to keep watching.

Wednesday after Top Model (which I'll write about later), I tried Private Practice. Was it great? No. But it wasn't bad either. I like enough of the actors well enough to give it a few more weeks to come into its own. It also helps that Paul Adelstein (who plays a nymphomaniac) is totally hot and was naked in the first five minutes of the show! (Yes, I'll wait while you go watch that part in slow-mo.)

And then there was Thursday. Rather than watch The Office premiere (I'm sorry, Jim and Pam - don't look at me that way!), I tried being loyal to Grey's Anatomy. Wrong move! The show has been going downhill for awhile, but the premiere was the end for me. Without Addison to be saucy, and without Burke to be stoic, everyone else wanders around with nothing to do. Izzy and George continue to be pathetic. Christina is a ghost of her former self. McDreamy and McSteamy say boring things to each other. And by making Callie the new chief resident, the Chief has neutered Bailey to the point that she can't even save the show.

Thus, I'm sad to say that I canceled my season pass to Grey's Anatomy. We broke up. It's over. No break-up sex, either. My loyalty on Thursdays now belongs to The Office, where it should be!

Stay tuned for the Top Model recap for this week! It's a good one!