Monday, February 27, 2006

The New Season of Apprentice

I watch the Apprentice in spite of Donald Trump, not because of Donald Trump. I liked the Martha Stewart version better because it had more interesting and creative projects. I think her show did better than it got credit for especially since it was up against Lost. That said, I'm an Apprentice addict so I was right there for the premiere of the spring show tonight. It's annoying that the show is so Trump focused that we don't get a really good look at the candidates--there just isn't time to learn about them with the Donald in the room after all. Some of the candidates are already standouts by the end of the episode, but that's not really a compliment. I'm too lazy to hit the website to figure out backgrounds and put names with faces. Maybe I'll be inspired later in the week.

Our show begins with Trump bragging about his private jet and assuring the candidates that they too can someday have a private jet if they learn the lessons that he has to teach. The candidates are given the opportunity to toot their own horns and tell their backgrounds while standing out on the runway of the Republic airport in what appears to be a nearly gale force wind. This is not flattering to the women's hair. Only Trump's hair product is stalwart enough to defy the wind. I ponder whether these females are really representative of women in the business world in that so many of the female candidates on the Apprentice have long silken locks of the blondish persuasion. Trump nominates Tarek the mensa guy to be a project manager and Allie the Harvard Business School grad to be the other. They get to pick teams this season. Woohoo. No more boys against the girls--I was so sick of that. Since nobody really has the names candidates are selected by "I'll take that one" or "The beautiful girl in brown."

The task is for the teams is to sell Sam's Club Plus memberships and they have a Good Year blimp available for advertising. Allie's team is hereafter known as Synergy--a name good selection. Syngery's team is Allie, Andrea, Brent-new Marcus guy, Sean-English accent guy, Pepi, Tammy, Michael, Roxanne, and Stacy. Tarek's team is hereafter known as Gold Rush--not as impressive a team name. Gold Rush is Tarek, Dan, Bryce, Charmaine, Summer, Leslie, Teresa, Lee, and Lenny-Russian guy.

On Synergy we already see that Brent has the potential to be the new Marcus. He talks alot and says stupid things. His plump shiny face is unattractive. He does contribute the seed that eventually becomes the idea but doesn't get credit for it. The team decides to offer free massages and manicures to their target market which is women primarily. The team all show up on the day in sharp looking black Sam's club shirts and khakis. Allie very intelligently puts Brent in the blimp and marginalizes him. The team seems to have a very effective selling technique.

At Gold Rush, the team elects to focus on the small business owner for the seller strategy. They very intelligently make sure the Sam's Club logo is well-presented on the blimp advertising crawl. Somebody's been watching past Apprentices! Tarek assigns Summer the job of calling a list of restaurants and urging them to come out to Sam's the next day. Summer fumbles her way through one phone call. She is stymied by the fact that she has no hook or reason to urge them to come to Sam's tomorrow. She can't exactly tell them that they should come out and buy a membership so that Gold Rush can win a challenge, now can she? She gives up after one call. Lenny and Summer are assigned to the blimp. Lenny gets the job because he's from New Brunswich and knows the area--Summer is up there to be marginalized. The team wears royal blue Sam's club shirts and they pair them with jeans. I am unimpressed by their appearance. The blues don't match and some of the jeans are pretty crappy looking. It is not professional looking. One member--Lee? wears a suit to liasion with small business owners. Wasn't that there target market group? With that rationale everyone should be wearing suits.

As you can probably tell, I am hoping that Gold Rush will lose. I do not like people like Tarek who feel the need to mention their mensa membership whenever they can. I expect that I am biased--my former sister-in-law was in mensa or smart enough to be and my mother made over her quite a lot because of it. Practically speaking however, she was an idiot who couldn't competently run a house so I think giftedness is what you make of it.

Back to the show--in the board room we learn that Synergy wins with 43 memberships sold and Gold Rush loses with 40 memberships sold. I am often amazed at how little difference there is in results. It suggests that the strategies for bringing in customers are not critically important, but rather than individual effort and salesmanship matter. Massages and manicures clearly didn't result in a tremendous boom compared to Gold Rush's 485 totes. Wonder if there was a cost differential? Who got more bang for their buck? That would have been a better judge of who won the task, unless both teams spent their entire budget. Unfortunately we never get to know the nuts and bolts of the details, which I find frustrating.

Gold Rush is almost unanimous in its immediate reaction that Summer-who only called one restaurant has to go. Lee makes the mistake of suggesting that perhaps the task lacked a big idea. Tarek finds it necessary to warn Lee that saying such a heresy in the board room will make him a target. Tarek is a braggart and a bully.

In the boardroom, Tarek immediately calls out Lenny-the Russian guy and Summer as the weak team members. What he's got against Lenny we don't ever learn. Perhaps it is that his English is so poor he will have difficulty defending himself in a word fight. Lee, not giving into the not so subtle threat Tarek leveled at him, says the team lacked a big idea for which he blames Tarek. Tarek brings Lee, Summer and Lenny into the boardroom with him. Things are going great--Trump is ignoring Carolyn's opinion about Summer and focusing his ire on Tarek. I get the feeling he didn't like it that he brought Lee into the board room just for voicing a different opinion. Then Summer had to go and open her big mouth. Trump is all set to fire Tarek. He's beginning his speech that will conclude with "Your're fired." when Summer interrupts him. Summer Summer Summer. What a moron. I concluded that you deserve to go because you ARGUE with the Donald. Hello. The Donald doesn't let candidates argue with him. The Donald doesn't want you telling him he's firing someone for the wrong reasons. The Donald kicks Summer to the curb and few have deserved it more. What a bone headed dimwit move that was. I'm still reeling from the utter self-destructiveness of her mouthing off. Meanwhile, Tarek is warned that only Summer's stupidity has saved him. Trump tells Carolyn and George that Tarek is over-rated. No shock here--I refer you again to my 'genius' former sister-in-law.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Project Runway Reunion

I watched the PR Reunion last night but I didn't take notes for blogging. Taking notes is kind of tiring and can interfere with enjoying the show. My reactions: first, I wish the show had been a two hour special because it seemed like it was over before it really began. All the thousands of people who put in questions for the designers at the PR website had to be disappointed because they only asked three or four of the questions. What a shame that one question was wasted on drunken Lupe. That incoherent bizarro moment should go down in PR history. Note to producers--don't have that cast meet at a bar before taping the show OR conduct sobriety tests before asking any participants to speak. I'm amazed that they didn't cut that from the show, it wasn't a live event so they could have gotten rid of it, right?. One wonders what they were thinking. Drunken ramblings aren't charming after all. I would have enjoyed the montages of things more if there had been more chat after showing them. The conversation wasn't fairly distributed either--spending so much time talking about how Santino thinks that saying nasty things is just part of the competition and isn't important, yada yada. People can only go by what they see and hear you say and do. Saying 'I'm nice' isn't convincing when all evidence and actions are to the contrary. I was disappointed that Kara didn't reveal her thoughts and feelings on being cut. 'I can't remember' it was so long ago isn't a very convincing. The rumor mill thinks Kara's collection might not be a decoy even though she's not a "finalist". We'll see in the next two weeks, I guess.

Illinois Lost

Well, depressing news--Illinois lost to Michigan for the first time since the ark was built. Okay--it hasn't really been that long. It was painful to watch because I always had the feeling we could win if we could just do what we do. I just hope it's all fodder for the beast. I note Iowa and Ohio State are tied for first in the Big Ten now. I will remain hopeful that this will prove an inspiration for the rest of our road games.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Illinois v Michigan Tonight.

Illinois is playing Michigan tonight at 7 pm. I need to check and see if it'll be shown in our area on ESPN. Fingers crossed. I've recovered somewhat from the horrifying one point loss to Penn St at home a couple of weeks ago. I was tickled to see Illinois beat Indiana at home on Sunday. That makes twice Illinois has been on CBS this season. Guess the Big Ten is having a great year. I feel bad for Mike Davis leaving Indiana--although I detest Indiana; bleeding blue and orange as I do. Davis has always had a tough time at IN and hasn't been fully appreciated there. Anyway, IL is a half a game behind Iowa and three of our last four games are road games so anything can happen. This schedule should be good prep for the post-season. Go Illini!


This is not the ideal way to recap an episode, you know, wait until you've completely forgotten everything that happened and then try to reconstruct it by reading your skimpy notes. But hey--this blog is a free read so sometimes the quality isn't going to be of the highest level. ;o)

When last we left our friends on Survivor--the two teams were La Mina and Casaya. Our cruel school yard pick had divided the teams up into a mix of boy/girl and young/old. La Mina is a bit heavier in the oldies and Casaya seems heavier in the youngies. Hmm, that was awkwardly phrased.

Casaya still doesn't have fire or water which makes no sense to me because I thought the younger guys had won it but--oh yeah--they couldn't figure out how to use the flint. Apparently none of their new team members can figure it out either. Casaya has the alliance of four with crazy Shane and poor Cerie just waiting to get kicked off with the next loss. Bruce has returned from exile island with all his enthusiasm and energy intact and tries to get this tribe started on the right track. The old-filter-the-water through the shirts trick. That'll get them all on his side. Again--why aren't we using the flint? We know boiling the water works for sure, right?

Meanwhile, La Mina has the wierd, two old guys-two young guy-two young women alliance triangle going on. Misty--our missile engineer--begins to implement her strategy of massaging the younger guys to solidify their 'alliance'. Misty. Misty. Misty. Picture me deeply disappointed that the best strategy a missile engineer (that's like another word for a ROCKET SCIENTIST, right?) can come up with-- is to use her sexuality to manipulate a twenty-something guy who's probably not a quarter as smart as she is? Survivor, after all, is not rocket science. Anway--we enjoy watching La Mina's fruitless attempt to fish. Puffer fish galore, but nothing edible except snails. Hard to believe the ocean is full of fish, isn't it? Now I'm pondering...are puffer fish really poisonous? Wouldn't it be hilarious if they weren't? And La Mina threw back--like a hundred of them--thinking that they were. How dumb would that be? Okay--I had to detour so I could look that up. Here's what I found:

The 'pufferfish', also called blowfish, swellfish, globefish, balloonfish are fish making up the family Tetraodontidae, within the order Tetraodontiformes. They are named for their ability to inflate themselves to several times their normal size by swallowing water or air when threatened; the same adaptation is found in the closely related porcupinefish, which also have spines (unlike pufferfish).
The eyes and internal organs of most pufferfish are highly
toxic, but nevertheless its meat is considered a delicacy in Japan and Korea. The name "fugu" is used both for the fish that are eaten and for their meat (for more details see Fugu).

So okay--they are poisonous, although the Japanese eat them. Chances are the Japanese know what they are doing when they filet them so as to reduce the risk. Nothing would reduce the risk enough to convince me to eat them, but hey--it's a different culture thing I guess.

Back to Survivor--we have our reward challenge and La Mina wins the tarp and blankets and pillows and rope and water cans just in time to put the tarp on their shelter before the big rain. La Mina cleverly sends Bruce to exile island since Casaya was stupid enough to admit to Jeff and La Mina that Bruce was making things better at their camp. Never admit weakness or strength to the enemy! Doesn't anybody who goes on Survivor actually WATCH Survivor? Meanwhile, poor Bruce stuck on the island during the big storm.

Aras at Casaya is starting to figure out that he is in an alliance with 3 nutballs. Shane and Courtney can't stand each other and we spend some time on their angst regarding each other. Shane wigs out about his "thinking" seat. He doesn't want to share it. Okaay. In my house the thinking seat is the toilet, but whatever floats your boat.

Then immunity. La Mina loses because, well, all their players are skinny. Seems like bulk was the key talent to have in the sand/bag wrestling football match. Poor little skinny Ruth Marie just got picked up by Bobby with the bag. Nothing she could do about that.

Then the show got interesting. We see lots of manuvering by the alliances of 2-2-2 or 2-4 or 4-2 depending on who's really allied with whom. There is lots of talk about getting rid of skinny minnie Ruth Marie. I think they should. I'm not sure she'll live through the game she's so skinny--let alone compete effectively. No one is blaming her for the loss of the immunity challenge, but they do talk about her being unable to compete and contribute. Okay. Young girls definitely want Ruth Marie to go. Young guys seem to be going along with that. Terry has been watching Misty massaging Austin and Nick and he's no dummy--he's thinking she's smart and cute and dangerous. At the vote, we think Ruth Marie's going and then--boom. Misty's out.

I was surprised, I don't mind admitting. Okay, I do mind admitting it. You'd think I would realize that Survivor loves to mis-direct the viewer. I really thought the younger guys would vote for Ruth Marie. Apparently they were convinced by Terry's argument that Misty was too smart to be trusted. They were also not ready to come out against the old guys --it is too soon for that. The tribe needs to stay strong in order to make it to the merge intact. Meanwhile, as wimpy as Misty might have been in a challenge, Ruth Marie is definitely more of a hinderance because of her tiny size and frailty. I guess we'll see if that voting strategy pays off for La Mina or not.

Anybody missed me yet?

Has anybody missed me? It has been eight days since my last post. First, I haven't felt super-great and so I missed a couple of days. Then, once out of the habit of posting everyday, it was hard to get back into it. And then, my sister started spending lots of time on the computer because she made it her mission in life to put every single cd we own into iTunes and onto our Ipods. She also wanted the album cover art on there, which required a bit of Googling etc. It all adds up.

Mostly, though, I must confess to apathy and laziness. I just didn't have that much to blog about. If you can imagine this--I still haven't actually watched the last Project Runway yet! I keep meaning to--but so far the Olympics has been winning. Not with me--the sister. She's obsessed with, wait for it....CURLING. Yes. Curling. The rock/ice version of shuffleboard. She can actually analyze the games now. She's even dvr-ing them. Now, I agree, the US team has some hot guys on the curling team but do I really need to understand the game strategy to appreciate their looks? I think not. I'm willing to settle for enjoying the aesthetics while muting the tv but not she who has control of the tv box. (The tv box--that's what we call the remote in our house. It all started with trying to get my niece to bring us the remote. She was two--we had to talk down a little and now, it's a habit. A stupid sounding one so there you go. Don't use baby talk, it's addictive. Next thing you know, people think you sound like a moron.) So since my tv life revolves around curling and I still haven't seen Project Runway and I haven't felt great lately--no blogging. Hopefully, now that I'm feeling better, I have notes about the Survivor episode, and I've been shopping I will have some bloggable topics.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Daniel's Collection

Daniel’s Collection

A suit with a black jacket with a white brocade pattern, paired with a short straight skirt with a tiny slit at the thigh.
A military style shirt waist in black. The shoulders have epaulettes or straps; the sleeve is ¾ with an open cuff. The buttons in the front opening extend down to the bikini area.
A white swing coat with a double row of gold buttons lending it a military flair. The collar is round, but stands up from the coat. The cuffs have a decoration that makes them look like they fold back with cuff links.
A pair of white pants with a center seam down each leg. The pastel green top is a sleeveless knit like shell with a wide vee-neckline with a lay down collar.
A black dress with a tightly fitted bodice. The skirt is cut close to the body and widens at the thigh. The bodice as five button details which form the letter V. The sweetheart neckline is finished with straps about an inch wide.
The black with white brocade fabric from the jacket in item one shows up in a short, straight skirt. The skirt is paired with a pastel green top with a slight cap sleeve and a mock turtle neck. The shoulders are padded. The waist of the shirt is highlighted with a light fabric horizontal stripe in green/white.
A pair of grey/white/tan/black plaid pants paired with the Chloe vest made into a top. The bodice of the best if filled in with tan pin-tucked fabric with a shirt collar. The tan sleeves are ¾ length.
A gold mini dress. It’s a longer version of the shirt in item six. A simple shift dress reminiscent of the 60’s with a vee neckline.
A pleated white skirt is paired with a dark brown vest, lined with fur. Under the vest is a long sleeve t-shirt in plum.
A pair of black pants with gold buttons down the sides is paired with a white wrap shirt with a contrasting pale green satin collar and belt. The rounded standup collar is like the collar seen on the swing coat.
A pair of black pants is paired with a black shirt with ¾ sleeves and a wide round neckline. The outfit is accessorized with a black leather purse which has a wooden handled shaped like an 8 and is accented by gold studs.
A black dress with long sleeves and a high shirt collar closed at the throat. The dress flares at the hem and shows lace at the sides. The dress is so dark no other details are discernable.
A chocolate brown dress is show up close so we don’t know if it is an evening dress or not. The V shaped button detail at the bodice is seen again. The dress seems to have chiffon layered over the top. The bodice has a deep vee neckline and straps about an inch wide.

So what can we say about Daniel’s collection. This is probably the most monochromatic of all the color palettes; black, white, pale green, and one use of gold. 4 pants sets—casual not dressy; 1 coat; 1?, evening gown; 3 skirts and tops and 4 dresses. Repeating elements were the V shaped button pattern, the rounded standup collar. The collection is classic and simple in the extreme. There is nothing in the collection that is ugly or unattractive or over the top. In fact, it’s almost too safe. Where’s is the couture look of the Orchid inspired outfit? The swing coat has gotten praised but it’s not really a unique piece—it’s been done by others. My favorite in the collection is the black jacket with the white brocade pattern paired with the short black skirt. It’s elegant and chic and wearable. The most boring thing in the collection is the black shirtwaist. I can’t understand why he would even include something so unoriginal. There’s nothing to make it different or unique from other shirtwaist dresses done by thousands of designers. The black is overdone in the collection, as well, imo.

Good Girls Do

I just finished Cathie Linz' Good Girls Do this morning while waiting for the snow to be cleared outside. I'm glad I don't have anywhere to go. My review is a thumbs up for GGD. Good Girls Do is the story of Julia Wright a small town librarian. She was raised by a flaky new age mom, but craved structured her whole life. She's been living in Serenity Falls for three years enjoying the small town America culture and the predictability of the lifestyle. The book's plot centers around Julia's relationship with Luke Maguire the town bad boy, recently returned from the mysterious unknown to run the restaurant/bar his father left him. Luke is a fairly typical tortured hero--his childhood was miserable after his mother died--his father was abusive--he went into the Marines, Special Forces, and then undercover FBI work. Suffice to say, he's got issues. Julia does too, of course, especially after her flaky mother and sister and niece come to town. Wild and crazy antics ensue. The books is fast paced and funny but Julia and Luke have a nice connection and there are moments of sweetness that make it a satisfying romance. The town is competing for a top ten Best Small Town rating and the town's array secondary characters are charming and add color to the story. I will definitely buy the sequel Bad Girls Don't whenever it comes out. Based on this experience, I will enjoy Skye's story (Julia's belly dancer/yoga instructor sister).

Michelle is out...

I learned that Michelle Kwan has withdrawn from the Olympics. I feel a pang of sympathy. Her struggle has been so long and hard. I admire Kwan's dedication to a sport that has eaten her childhood and caused her body tremendous physical pain. I hope she has no regrets for a decision made at a very young age to pursue an obsession with perfection in a sport that is both art and athleticism.

What a woman of character Michelle is, to know that hanging on to the slot would be wrong in the face of her re-injury. I expect some more selfish skaters would have have tried and flailed and failed rather than give up the slot or might have waited until the last minute thinking to recover and thus their replacement would have struggled to compete with little notice. Michelle, though, is giving up the slot with plenty of notice for Emily. I wish there was a gold medal for character and perseverance. Those qualities will help Kwan in all of her future endeavors. Fair skies and following seas, Michelle.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Book Review

I took a break from my analysis of the Project Runway collections to watch a bit of the Olympics and to read a book. I watch Chad Hedrick win the gold medal in the 5000 meter in speed skating and I watched the American pairs team perform the first throw triple axle in competition. I've also been watching the snow pile up outside my window and feeling guilty that I parked my car in a space not my own in the garage downstairs. Our apartment is half empty so I doubt I'm actually in someone's assigned space but I'm a worrier. I'm a little over-socialized with regard to rules, I sometimes think.

Anyway--back to the reading a book this afternoon and evening part--I have some conflict about the content of my blog with regard to books. Up until now, I've reviewed a few of the books I've read but the reviews have generally been positive. Books that were a disappointment, I have discreetly not mentioned. What to do, what to do? I've always subscribed to the notion that it's better to say nothing than to say something negative, well, ok--I've tried to subscribe to that notion not always successfully, but I have to consider how intellectually honest is it to mention the books I buy in my bookstore runs but never give my reader(s) a sense of my opinion about them? I don't hesitate to throw my opinions out there regarding Project Runway, Survivor, or the U of I, do I? I know the power of a bad review, but where is the context if all reviews are good and none are bad? So that's the rationale for this review.

I just finished Bitten & Smitten by Michelle Rowen. I bought the book because it has a cover quote by MaryJanice Davidson that says, "A charming, hilarious book! I'm insanely jealous I didn't write it." Well, I love MJ's Betsy books and her Royal books--okay, okay--all her books so that was a big plus for me. Bitten & Smitten is also a vampire book; another of my personal favorites. So there were two good reasons to buy the book not even counting my book buying addiction.

So how did it turn out? My review is mixed, I guess. It is a charming book with humorous elements. The heroine, Sarah, is a bit of a Betsy clone and her narrative voice is amusing most of the time because she has a sarcastic wit. One line I chuckled over was, "Let's stop beating around the bush. Move away from the bush." The book is very well-written. That's nothing to sneeze at nowadays. Good grammar, excellent mix of dialogue and narrative. We spend a little more time in Sarah's head than I would have liked but she does have a lot to adjust to in a short space of time since the book takes place over a week or so.

So what are the problems? Around page 64 I was pretty annoyed by Sarah's stupidity. In fact, I set a page 100 deadline as to whether I would even finish the book I was so hacked at her. Now see, that could be considered a positive, right? Because I was so into the book that the heroine was ticking me off, right? And I missed the deadline because I didn't check my page count again until 136. So there's another positive--I must have been into the story not to notice the page deadline when it came. That said, Sarah annoyed me. A lot. She kept doing stupid things. First she doesn't believe she's a vampire for a while--yeah, yeah, it's a shock, get over it already. Denial does not help. Second, she puts herself in danger by telling a stranger that she's a vampire--because that's the kind of thing you want to spread around, right? Said stranger turns out to be a vampire hunter naturally. Now you may be thinking--hey cut, the heroine some slack, how was she to know that there even were vampire hunters? Well, she barely survived her first encounter with three of them the night before. I'd think she'd be a little more wary. One near death experience would make me look a bit leery at strange guys. Third, Sarah saves the vampire hunter guy whose stated intentions are to kill her. Now would any normal person do that? I mean, a saint, sure--but Sarah doesn't present herself as a goody-two-shoes heroine. She's vain and shallow and materialistic. But she saves the vampire hunter/killer guy and not only saves him--brings him into the vampire's safe place so now he knows where it is so he can tell all his friends!? DUMB.

Other than that it was an okay book, I suppose. I did finish it--that's gotta count for something. Oh yeah--the hero's name was Thierry. I had to block that out of my head--that's was just too dorky of a name. Reminds me of the guy who married Christina Onassis--Athena's dad with the mistress and all. Not a heroic figure, imo. Since Thierry turned out to be married for like 500 years, he fit right in with the not heroic thing. He and the wife were estranged, I guess you'd say, but what? He's never heard of divorce? Better to just go 'round having affairs? We never really get to know Thierry--he's an enigmatic character from the beginning to the end of the book because this book is more like chick lit than a romance. It's really all-Sarah, all the time.

So there you go. Take from this what you will. The book is very much in the MJ Davidson template, but not as good. The heroine is annoying and does stupid things. The hero is a bit player and the story is chick lit, not romance.

Chloe's Collection

Best of the collection, imho, to the left. Worst of the collection to the right.

1. Rose pink satin fitted dress; ¾ puff sleeves, vee-neckline with a jacket collar. The bodice has a belted crossover; the dress has a dropped waist with a full gathered skirt starting just below the hip. A little insert of gold satin in the vee-neckline adds an accent.
2. Green and gold floral leaf print chiffon mini-dress with a dropped waist. A rose pink satin belt accents the hip/dropped waist. The neckline is a halter which fastens at a collar around the neck.
3. A green and gold flora leaf chiffon evening dress (same fabric as dress 2). The bodice is deeply cut, vee-shaped fastened by spaghetti straps.
4. Rose pink satin mini dress; (same fabric as dress 1) the skirt; another dropped waist is made up of a wide box-pleat. The dress has a straight neckline which is covered by the bolero jacket with slim fitted ¾ sleeves. The dress is likely sleeveless and back-less without the jacket.
5. Gold satin fitted mini-dress with a bolero jacket. This dress takes elements from several of the other dresses. The dropped waist has a modified box pleat (1/2 the width of dress 4) The hem is asymmetric, the front being higher than the back. The bolero jacket has big puff sleeves similar to the sleeves in dress 1. The fabric has a pattern geometric pattern to the weave.
6. Our first pants suit is chocolate brown satin with a jacket. The pants are accented with a gold trim down the side, similar to a tuxedo pant. The one button jacet reveals a bit of stomach and neck/chest. The blouse underneath is chocolate brown lace with a stand-up ruffled collar. The sleeves of the jacket have a turn back cuff.
7. Gold satin baby doll dress. Frankly—it is reminiscent of Santino’s dress from episode one; the one made from muslin—but without all the trim and frou-frou.
8. Sleeveless sheath dress, very fitted in chocolate brown satin. It has a key-hole neckline slit about 6 inches deep. The dress flares at the thigh and has an underskirt of lace
9. An evening pants outfit. Chocolate brown palazzo pants with a dull bronze or taupe with lace overlay corset like top. The pattern on the top reminds me of the gold satin fabric used in dresses 5 and 7 but it’s not bright enough to be the same. The blouse is topped by a lacy shrug with short puff sleeves.
10. Royal blue satin dress. This dress has the jacket collar of dress 2, the fitted design of dress 8 with the flare out at the thigh, and long sleeves with turn back cuffs. In the next picture we see this dress walking away and it is entirely backless.
11. An evening gown made out of a light blue chiffon fabric with an olive green print. The bodice is accented with a darker blue satin trim which makes up the straps of the dress and underlies the empire waist.
12. Another evening gown made out of the light blue chiffon fabric with an olive green print. It has a drawstring halter neckline. The waist is accented by a darker blue satin cumber bund-type belt. The dress is topped by a blue satin shrug with large puff sleeves.
13. Another evening gown, in a dark blue/green satin. It is fitted with short cap sleeves and a vee-neckline. The cut is similar to dress 8 and 10.

So what do we have in Chloe’s collection? 8 of 13 outfits were made using satin. The rest were chiffon. The color palette was rose pink, green/gold print, chocolate brown with gold accents, royal blue, blue and green, and blue/green. I wish I knew the actual names for some of the unusual colors. There were 3 mini dresses; 4 evening dresses; 4 knee length dresses; and 2 pairs of pants. She used the big puffy sleeves in three designs. 4 designs had dropped waists. 3 dresses used the same fitted sheath construction with identical seaming in the front of the dress.

I liked every one of Chloe’s designs. The collection is heavily into evening wear. The gold fabric is a bit jarring so I’d rate them the lowest. The details and tailoring are sumptuous though.

Santino's Collection

Santino’s Collection

Best of the collection, imho, to the left.
Worst of the collection, to the right.

--Bronze evening dress with satin skirt and lace on bodice.
--Chocolate leather knickerbockers with a chiffon chemise top in taupe.
--Mint green dress with darker olive green trim. The dress has a deep vee neckline. The whole dress is over-layered with chiffon to give it a floaty quality.
--Bronze metallic skirt with a darker brown strapless corset top with a heart shaped neckline.
--Gold satin dress, close cut, with a lace bodice. A short variation of dress 1.
--Chocolate/burgundy satin dress. The bodice is lace. The neckline is rounded or scoop necked.
--Taupe slacks with a filmy taupe tank. Topped with a short chocolate shawl.
--Pewter/violet satin mini dress. The skirt is full but there appears to be fabric between the model’s legs, like she’s wearing wide-legged culottes. This could be an illusion and it’s just a fold in the skirt. Even the second close-up picture of the outfit doesn’t solve this question for me. The dress is topped by a brown jacket with violet velvet-like stripes accenting the ¾ sleeves. The jacket has three large buttons down the front. The collar fastens with a button a tab overlap closure.
--Red satin evening dress. A variation on dress 1. The bodice is accented with red leather.
--Metallic gold skirt-very full. Topped by a leather top with gi-normous puffy sleeves. The bodice of the shirt is quite fitted and it covers all the models chest up to her neck where it ends in a little round collar.
--Taupe and mint green dress. It’s overlaid with chiffon for a floaty feel. The bodice is a strapless sweetheart neckline. There is a chiffon detail floating from a center position in the bodice.
--Sleeveless taupe dress, a vee-shaped neckline accented by some kind of lighter trim.
--Chiffon dress with pleats in green and taupe variegated fabric. The hem is crimped or ruffled somehow. The dress is done in two layers off-set.

Let’s count up the unique items we have: We have at least three of the 13 items being the same dress with different lengths or fabric. 1 pants outfit. 1 knickers outfit. 2 long gowns. 1 mini dress. 1 jacket. 1 shawl top. The rest of the skirts and dresses were knee length. 2 skirt sets. 9 of the 13 items arel dresses. 5 of the dresses are cut close to the body using satin fabric. 5 of the dresses are made with chiffon with a-line skirts that floated about the body. Color-wize we have 1 burgundy red dress, 1 mint green dress, and 1 violet dress; the rest of the collection was in shades of taupe, gold, bronze, and brown. Two dresses used a taupe and green variegated fabric.

This collection features some pretty dresses- the burgundy red/bronze evening dresses are fabulous. I love the leather knickerbockers pants too. There is really little of the Santino "originality" in evidence. I see his preference for the bodice which he used so much of in the show in the collection. I don’t hate the collection; I’m actually amazed by the prettiness of it. It’s just not what Santino implied we would get from him. I think I'd be reacting more if it was like Kara's. The "out on a limb, to heck with what all the plebians think, I'm doing my thing because I've got talent" defiance that Santino has shown so much of through the show is what is missing from the collection.

Project Runway Collection Slideshows

Yes! Ask and you shall receive, NY Fashion Week's website has put the Project Runway Collections up on their website in slideshow form. The pictures are lovely and clear and you can really get a good sense of each collection because the photos can be easily viewed and reveiwed. Click here for Santino. Click here for Kara. Click here for Daniel. Click here for Chloe. I'm going to study the collections further this afternoon. Right now I've got real-life errands to do before our big East Coast snow hits, and then I'll begin to dissect the collections with an eye toward trying to decide whose collection is the better positioned for the win.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Project Runway Fashion Week Finale

I've been hanging out at Blogging Project Runway on and off since I got home today getting the latest scuttlebutt. Laura has pictures up of the four collections presented by Chloe, Daniel, Kara, and Santino. She also has some great links to articles about the collections.

In one thread folks are discussing which designer is the decoy designer. I'm casting my vote for Kara as the decoy. I like her funky, colorful collection--so it's not a question of quality. But as others have pointed out; Chloe, Daniel and Santino each have three different PR models showing their dresses while Kara has only one--her original model. Also, one of Kara's dresses--the purple one with a different purple trim and a contrasting teal cumberbund type belt is identical in style, (but not color) to a dress that is on Kara's website as a part of her Fall 05 collection. It's listed in her store as the Kimono dress. Here's a brief description from the Kara Janx store:

"Supple, sexy jersey wrap dress cut to hug and flatter all of your curves. Kimono-inspired shape with wide contrast trim in a subtle but striking color combo. Long wrap ties can circle your waist twice; can be tied in front or back. Hits mid calf with 3/4 sleeves. 2 week back order. Available in brown with tan, grey with turquoise, fuchsia with pink, black with green, and brown with print."

I'm betting that the rules for the finale collections require the designers to show all new original designs. Reusing something that you've already presented wouldn't be acceptable. There you go, brilliant me, taking other people's deductions and making them my own! ;o) I was amazed and surprised by all the collections, even Santino delivered something with appeal. I wish that the photos we have of the designs were set up in a powerpoint type slideshow like they are on the New York Fashion Week website. It would make it so much easier to look them over and compare them.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Reality Television Thy Taste is Bitter

I would completely lose my taste for reality television if every show ended with the irritation of last night's Project Runway or tonight's Survivor. It is so annoying when events do not follow the script I have in my head. Of course, the same thing can happen with traditional television shows, after all, Rhoda and Joe divorced and Sam Beckett is still leaping from lifetime to lifetime, if you see what I mean.

I don't want to completely recap tonight's Survivor because, well, frankly it's a lot of work and by Thursday I'm pretty tired. My sister also criticized my last effort saying it wasn't funny enough. (What is funny enough, I wonder?) I stayed up extra late last night venting about Project Runway-Makeover so for Survivor I'm just doing a critique.

Let's talk about the strategy involved in the show which is the main reason I watch it. I have seen almost every season of Survivor. I believe I missed Thailand, which if my sister is telling the truth was no great loss because somce really obnoxious porn star guy won. I do remember they had a teacher on that season who talked continually about how much she missed beer which as an educator appalled me. I was taking a night class that fall for my second master's degree (you know I had to get that in, right?) so I only caught a couple of episodes. My point, now that I remember I was making one, is that I do not claim to be the font of all knowledge Survivor. I know enough to makes some comments about the mis-steps I feel occurred in tonight's show.

First we have the school yard pick, and in spite of a growing body of evidence that older players are better teammates--more loyal, harder working, more pleasant, less given to inane behavior--we see that, in general, the young women go for the young guys and nobody wants the older men or women until they have to pick them. Someone, a younger girl, does make the fatal mistake of picking Shane--crazy, quitting smoking guy--because he was the 'coolest' of the old guys. I think she'll regret that decision because he's, well, crazy quitting smoking guy. I assume that the young women are looking for men who will be easily ensnared in their seductive webs in order to ensure their own survival by developing a Rob and Amber like connection. Ditto the younger men in reverse. Now they cloak this strategy in the old "we need physically strong players" but some of those girls are so frail they couldn't stand up to any kind of physical competition so that's just so much hooey. Anyway, the fact that in year after year of Survivor seasons the romantic connection plan has only worked the once, doesn't seem to affect the continued attempts to use the strategy. '

So we merge from four teams into two. I don't have it all straight in my head who's who. I'm happy to see that the former fighter pilot guy and the astronaut have ending up on the same team. I regret that Bruce? the other older guy who got exiled will end up on what I will now call LOSER team.

Winner team, with my military guys, wins the reward and immunity. We don't see much of them because they are integrating pretty successfully. I note that the two older guys form an alliance with the two younger guys. The two younger guys are also approached by the two younger girls. Hmm, that could lead to conflict down the road but right now younger guys are in the driver's seat because both sides want their votes. These players have the sense to keep their mouths shut about these backstage shenanigans. That is smart strategy. Keep your secrets. What other people don't know they can't get upset about or be offended by or counter-strategize against. DUH. That's Survivor 101.

Back at LOSER team--with it's head case Shane as the main spokesperson, we have pretty much the opposite strategy being played out. First, Shane is blabbing at the challenge to everyone about how crappy their team is physically before they have even competed in a challenge. Is this because the younger men/women camp or whereever they ended up, has no fire, no shelter, and no brains? Then we spend tons of minutes watching Shane boohoo like a big baby because he misses his son and stuff and job and detox from nicotine. He cleverly puts together an alliance of four apparently based on approaching whoever is not plump. He then threatens to kill anyone who breaks the alliance. Oh yeah, this is gonna work great.

So after LOSER team loses, Shane has a hissy fit. He wants to go home. Boo Hoo. Wah Wah. Let me call the wahmbulance for this pathetic cadavar. Cuz you've noticed the guy's emaciated, right? I mean, seriously, Cerie or Melinda could take him in a wrestling match, I have no doubt. His loyal alliance are devastated that he might quit and talk him out of bailing on them. Why?? Oh right, numbers-they need four to stay in control of the other three. So after Shane flip-flops, the other guy in the alliance--no, I do NOT know his name--decides to put all his cards on the table and just tell Cerie and Melinda that it will be one or the other. Shane helpfully chimes in that whoever survives today will just go next. Don't get too comfortable. That kind of honesty is always so helpful in the game of Survivor. All the team members just work so hard to win then. Don't these morons understand that the idea is to go into the merge with the most members? You've revealed your alliance--you've shown your willingness to keep crazy Shane over people who want to be there whole-heartedly--and you've made it clear to Cerie or Melinda that they have no stake in what happens with the team because they're going home no matter how hard they work or how much effort they put into the challenges. Wow. Maybe they could write a book on how NOT to play Survivor.

At tribal council, naive me, I briefly hope that the two younger girls in crazy-Shane's alliance will rethink what is happening after he admits his three pack a day habit which he is quitting cold turkey. His skinny little body with its limited lung capacity is not that big an advantage for the team--oh wait, it's NUMBERS, stupid. Metaphorical head beating--Why can't I remember that? Making a case for herself, Cerie cleverly talks about how disappointed her family will be if she is voted off. She is SMART! Melinda just mentioned how pissed she will be. (Excuse my quote, there.) I think readers of my blog, being the smartest on the internet, have already seen that Melinda will be the one to go.

So another reality show ends this week with irritation resulting in immediate blogging. Getting it all out in my blog actually helps me sleep better. I used to just write letters to CBS in my head. I never sent them, I just planned them. Blogging is actually good for my sleep and my stress levels. Hmm, what do you know--my hobby and obsession is good for me.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Project Runway-Makeover

I knew from the get-go that Santino would not go. After all, the whole episode was all-Santino- all-the- time. I briefly flirted with the idea that maybe the episode was shaping up to be a farewell to Santino but my cynicism about the show is nearly complete. I still tune in, but I'm bitter at the show's end. I think the producers are making a terrible mistake to continue to give Santino a pass on things that sink other designers. How, for example, do you justify sending Zulema home for badly sewn garments and totally ignore the fact that Santino's garment literally fell apart on the runway while we watched. But I'm leaping ahead to the ending so let me recap:

Santino's quote at the beginning sets my mood to grumpy: "I'm one of the most talented people in the room." Also, the biggest jerk--still trying to stay PG here. He needs a serious reality check. Maybe he just needs to have more camera time to "explain" his talent, cuz I don't get it.

Daniel V states up front that his immunity is on his mind and he toys with the notion of sending up "tassles and a zipper." Well, it had a little more fabric to it than that, but it didn't have the special Daniel V. touch we've all grown accustomed to, that's for sure.

Heidi draws names from a hat for the total makeover challenge of the designers. Santino will design for Kara. Kara will design for Santino. Nick will design for Daniel. Daniel will design for Chloe. Chloe will design for Nick. The designers have an hour to confer and then off to spend $200 bucks for the outfits. In hindsight, Santino must have come in waaay under budget.

Nick wants a Italian Euro-trash suit. Santino wants a preppy look with an urban undercoat, complete with madras pants. Daniel sees Chloe has a fun-loving party girl, flirty, someone for whom men will buy drinks. This might be Daniel's personal fantasy; we never hear what Chloe really wants. Kara wants to be funkier and more adventurous. I don't think a falling-apart skin suit was what she had in mind, really. Nick plans to dress up Daniel in a tight suit jacket and tight pants, playing up his skinniness. Again, this sounds like Nick's turn-on, not Daniel's.

We shop and we see Santino pretty much picking out all the fabric for Kara. Does this mean that Santino should get credit for Kara's second place finish? Nick chooses cashmere for Daniel's suit. Isn't cashmere sweater material? That doesn't sound like a good idea. Hindsight is 20-20 it's true, but I had doubts even when it was live.

Back in the sewing room, Nick is a worker bee with a secret--he's done men's wear before. That does not recommend him in the final analysis. He sewing super fast to the amazement of all. Probably Nick was doomed from the moment he said, "You need to catch up." referring to his skill level compared to the other designers. Seems like Zulema made some similar brag-gy comments. Those editors love to make you look like an out of touch with reality type if they've got you saying something which you will later contradict by your actions.

Santino gives us the "I was a weird kid with lots of hardship" speech. Strangely, this does not surprise me at all. Social skills this bad are not usually better in childhood, if you know what I mean. He's going to be famous, it's just around the corner, he never gives up. Sounds just like what those really awful William Hung-type American Idol contestants say. Totally oblivious to their utter and compete awfullness. The black hole of talent, you could say, all self-knowledge sucked into a gravity well.

Tim makes the rounds with the designers. With only five it doesn't take long. Since there were just five you would think I took lots of notes but no, just what Tim said to Santino. Wishful thinking about Santino's exit made me want to record every bit of his exit for posterity. That didn't work out too well for me as you know. He thinks Santino is working with a rich color palate. He warns him about not being a one-note and watching out for his trim fetish. He says it nicer than I just did. He also warns Santino not to be screwed up by time-management. That bit of advice pretty much went in one ear and out the other.

Daniel V. is moved to say that Santino is arrogant and obnoxious. You've got to figure that Santino is getting on everyone's last nerve. Nick gives him the silent treatment. At the end of day one, Santino is riding Kara about doing more work because he wants her to finish so he doesn't go down the runway naked. Meanwhile, he sends Kara down the runway in a unfinished and unflatteringly hideous jumpsuit which somehow managed to make Kara look fat. Ironic, isn't it?

On the runway--

Kara's outfit for Santino is a pair of red madras plaid pants with a polo shirt in light blue. The facing of the shirt is lined with a contrasting blue plaid print. A fedora? blue plaid hat completes the outfit.

Daniel's outfit for Chloe is a wierd mix of a bright red, tightly fitted strapless dress with a corset like leather vest in a tan brown leather-like fabric. The colors do not go together, imo. Where's the flirty? Cuz this just seems slutty. Flirty does not equal slutty, right?

Chloe's outfit for Nick is a pair of navy blue pin-striped pants, paired with a navy blue pin-striped vest with a pink satin back and lining. The dress shirt underneath is pink also.

Nick's outfit for Daniel is a button-less jacket and pants in a light grey. I remember now how Nick and Daniel had a looong conversation about how the fabric wasn't too shiny. Okay--did they hear themselves? Anytime you are defending the shiny-ness of your fabric you have taken a wrong turn somewhere, guys. He wears a black shirt underneath, a matching grey scarf completes the outfit. There are no pockets in the pants or the jacket. I thought he looked hot, but Daniel V. is just cute to me.

Santino's outfit for Kara is a jumpsuit in a mauve? grey. It's extremely tight fitting and the pants are cropped. There's a zipper up the front with trim and some trim stuff on the back of the waist area. The collar is decorated with a road-kill type fur thing. Kara looks like she has a pot-belly in the jumpsuit it is so tight. How you can make Kara, who sometimes reminds me of a heroin addict with the dark circles under her eyes and her skinny frame and her stringy, dirty hair, look fat--is beyond my ability to understand or imagine. Maybe Santino should design for Mary-Kate, Lindsey, or Nicole Richie and stop those anorexia comments for them.

The judges:

Santino's jumpsuit was liked by Freddie Leiba the celebrity stylist, he might have been the only one who liked it. Heidi felt it was dated. Nina pointed out that it was falling apart; Santino doesn't think about what is comfortable for women either, she asserts. S talks over Kara on the runway and I'm convinced he lied and lied and lied through the whole thing particularly about the state of the jumpsuit. He claimed Kara was excited after the show and jumped around, ripping the sleeve. Liar! He didn't let Kara answer when Nina asked if she was comfortable, interrupting to say Kara looked beautiful.

Chloe's outfit got raves. It suited Nick, looked like something he'd actually wear. Was well-made, had good proportions, the pink kept it from being too staid and traditional.

Kara's outfit got raves as well. It was Nina's favorite. It showed the softer Santino but was in his style. It was well-made and professional, especially since sportswear is notoriously difficult to make. The color was fresh and different. Wonder if next week Santino will take credit for Kara's success. He did suggest the madras pants and the plaid in the shirt, after all. And one thing about Santino you can know for sure--he's not humble.

Nick's outfit was judged to be horrible. It looked like Daniel had rolled around in it right before coming on the runway. It was a bad choice of fabric, no buttons, no pockets, too feminine, too ambitious, poorly sewn. Wasn't Nick bragging about his sewing skills at the beginning of the episode? Hello! Pride cometh before a FALL, people!

Daniel's outfit might be the first bad review he's gotten. The judges wonder if he coasted because of his immunity. It didn't fit Chloe, the hem was a mess, it aged her 20 yeasrs, looked like something from Knot's Landing in the '80's. Daniel isn't too upset by the criticism he knows he'll get by.

Well, as you know, Nick got the boot and Santino squeaked by for another "in". I had to take a Rolaids and then come work out my aggression about it on my blog. Wonder how Tim will explain Santino's getting by with another crappy, poorly sewn outfit in his podcast...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Borders Book Run

It's Tuesday so new books must be out. It's a light week for my list. This is what I bought: Susan Kearney's The Ultimatum; Gena Showalter's Jewel of Atlantis; Susan Sizemore's Master of Darkness; and Suzanne Enoch's An Invitation to Sin and Sin and Sensibility. I was hoping that Borders would have Enoch's Flirting with Danger the first book about Samantha Jellicoe and Richard Addison. If you remember I read the sequel first, Don't Look Down and loved it. Looks like I'll have to order Flirting with Danger on faithful. I also picked up the February edition of ELLE magazine. I thought I was buying the American version, turns out it was the UK edition. Now I'm an anglophile from way back, but it's useless for me to see fashions that are available in British stores because I don't have a trip to London planned anytime soon. Why are they even selling a UK edition here? Just so you know that I'm not a total moron--they had two versions of ELLE. I picked up the one with Madonna on the cover, checked the month, and then noticed the UK edition notation. So I put that one back on the shelf and picked up the one next to it with Scarlett Johansen? on the cover. I didn't bother to check where it was published from although I did notice that it, too, was a February magazine. I assumed (such a mistake as you know) that this one by process of elimination had to be the American version. So wrong, apparently. So again I ask the question--why are they selling TWO versions of ELLE in Borders, both from the UK? Huh?? Anybody???

Oh no!!!!!!

Oh my gosh!!! I can't believe that U of I lost to Penn State. I stopped checking the internet because we were so far ahead that I thought the game was a done deal. We were up like 14 points. My vocabulary of shock and dismay is stretched to the limit; whimpering is mostly what is filling my mind. I checked our ranking, as I do each Monday, and I was puzzled to see that we've dropped four places. A loss? At Home? Our streak...a home can this be? I'm afraid silent mourning must follow this shocking news.

Lisa Kleypas

Several months ago I bought Lisa Kleypas' Secrets of a Summer Night. I usually buy and read everything she writes immediately because Kleypas is one of my favorite authors. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of reading a review of the book which put me off a bit. I think (from the distance mists of my memory ) that the reviewer didn't like the premise of the series--that is, that a bunch of "wallflowers" would band together to try to get rich, peer-type husbands by fair means or foul. The reviewer also found the heroine unlikeable and mercenary. As a result of this review, I kept moving the book down the tbr (to be read) pile.

Then the second book of the series came out, It Happened One Autumn. Uh oh, given my prediliction for reading and viewing things in order, now we've got a problem. How can I read book two when I haven't read book one? After wrestling with the issue through the winter; I forced myself. And it was a very successful strategy I must say. I was introduced to the heroine from book one based on the view of her that heroine two has and thus, I liked her. (I probably would have liked her anyway, because I don't happen to think that mercenary is necessarily a bad thing when you are destitute and need to support your mother and brother but that's another story.)

So let me give a whole-hearted thumbs-up or five stars or whatever floats your boat to both of these books. I enjoyed them thoroughly, in fact, I stayed up late to finish It Happened One Autumn because I couldn't put it down. I can't wait for the next book in the series which, conveniently, is due out March 7th. More about that later. Kleypas has a gift for writing heroes who are larger than life and wildly, crazily in love with their heroines. They are made better by their relationship with the heroine. I adore them. Her heroines are pretty special too, spunky and interesting. They, too, are flawed but made better by love.

I found the basis of the series very poignant. The wallflowers have suffered through the humiliation of being unwanted and sneered at again and again. They are four women whose whole life is going to be a success or failure based on their ability to marry well. In 1840's England, there wasn't much else you could do as a woman. Annabelle is a beautiful but poor well-born woman who may be forced into virtual prostitution if she can't snare a peer. She's slipping further and further into poverty and no one wants to marry her because she doesn't bring a dowry. She doesn't have any choices and she has dependents; her mother and younger brother. I felt sympathy for the pressure she was under and the difficult choices she faced.

Lillian and Daisy are two beautiful American heiresses who are too nouveau-riche to marry well in New York, let alone in England. Their mother, however, is determined to snag a peer. They remind me of poor Consuelo Vanderbilt whose mother sold her to a Duke to fulfill her own ambitions. In England, Lillian and Daisy are outsiders whoe don't know the picky picky rules of behavior so they're considered uncivilized and only merit attention from bankrupt peers, and even then, only as a last resort.

The fourth wallflower is Evangeline. She's the daughter of a sewer rat who got wealthy by running a gambling den and the well-born woman who ran off with him and then died. She's got bright red hair; she's incredibly shy; she stutters; and her mother's family abuse her terribly because of her birth. They're also plotting to do away with her so they can acquire her inheritance when her ailing father dies.

How can one not expect these women to do whatever they have to in order to break out of the prison they're in? In Autumn, Lillian is kidnapped by a villain (I'm snickering as I write the word villain--it sounds so ridiculous, but he was the villain so what can I do?) In book three, Devil in Winter, Evangeline will propose marriage to the villain. How's that for a cool twist? I can't wait to see how Kleypas is going to turn Sebastian into a hero. I liked him until he became the villain, so I know he has charm potential, but he was so villainous that it will take skill to redeem him. I can't wait!!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Grey's Anatomy

I really have what I consider to be a limited amount of time to watch television. There are books to be read, the internet to be explored, shopping and running around to do. For some years now, my goal has been to reduce my tv viewing to the absolute minimum. Of course, my minimum always sounds so excessive when I talk to the working mom's at my school who apparently never have time to watch tv. (I'm not too sympathetic to the story of their laundry and homework until the wee hours because, hey, life's about choices and I intelligently chose not to reproduce because I'm extremely selfish.) Anyway--the thing that causes me trouble is that I keep finding new shows that I have to add to the rotation, so to speak. Like most people I sometimes watch whatever's on and I watch some shows occasionally but not faithfully--like What Not to Wear. But my faithful viewing habits are: Monday--empty. Tuesday--NCIS, Amazing Race, House. Wednesday--Project Runway, Apprentice (Martha's version), Bones. Thursday--Survivor, Apprentice, My Name is Earl; and Friday--Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home, Numbers, Reba, Monk. Saturday-- empty again. Sunday used to be empty because I like to cram in as much reading as I can before returning to work but now I'm hooked on Grey's Anatomy.

Grey's Anatomy is a relatively new tv fixation. FYI, The Season 1 dvd comes out February 14th. I'm definitely there because I've only seen Season 2 from November-ish on. I came into the series right after Derek's wife came to the show--whenver that was. The previews for the show that came on after the Super Bowl were tantalizing. Code Black. That's a bomb threat where I work. Yikes. A bomb. I was impatient for the Super Bowl to get over with (I'm not into football) just to see Grey's Anatomy. It did not disappoint. I was pretty intensely focused on the episode from start to finish. It also put me on edge. I mean, that screaming woman. Crima-nitly, I so would have slapped her hard. The two stupid re-enactors. How dumb do you have to be to get in front of a rocket launcher that didn't fire. Even I would have known better than that and I'm neither mechanical nor interested in things military. Bailey's husband in surgery. I was biting my fingernails.

Then there's the poor stupid schlep of a paramedic with her hand stuck in the guy's chest. Poor sacrificial lamb. Does nobody offer the poor girl a stool? Hey--don't move and by the way stand here till you pass out? When that anesthesiologist guy left her holding the bag I was incensed!! Where the heck was Burke? Where's the bomb squad. Oh, they're staring at x-rays that tell them nothing and taking their time chatting about how helpless they are. Why isn't someone interviewing other re-enactor guy to find out how the device was put together and and learning about its triggering mechanism? Is it even legal to build a bazooka in your backyard? How do you get the materials needed to make a mortar shell? My head's awhirl with all these questions. Back to poor schlep with her hand in the guy's chest...all alone but nobody knows, because Burke and useless bomb squad guys aren't in the same room with the unexploded device. Heck, no. Too busy talking and chatting. Are they even checking on the two people they think are in the room with the unexploded device? Nahh..what the heck? I say again!! My heart's a-racing and I'm grateful I remembered my blood pressure pill because otherwise I might be stroking out I'm so tensed up. Then the episode is over. Why didn't they warn me this was a two-parter? I hate waiting and wondering. I would (maybe) have saved the episode to view right before the one next week. Maybe. So we're left with a cliff hanger and more trauma to come because dork Meredith has put her hand inside bomb guy. What a doofus. She's so not my favorite character, I'm kinda hoping they'll blow her up. What a ratings boom that would be! I mean, she's whiny, obsessed with a married guy which doesn't stop her from sleeping with strangers repeatedly, and ick--way too thin. She needs to eat about 10 Big Macs a week just to get up to a normal weight. I'm also wondering what Yang was thinking to tell Derek during BRAIN surgery that his light o'love is in mortal danger. Yeah--he'll be focused on saving Bailey's husband now, fer sure, dude.

Personally, I think that I would have pulled my hand out a good while earlier than paramedic girl did and I'm all for letting the moron who was the author of his own tragedy just detonate. I've been called ruthless before, or maybe it was selfish. Whatever. It was true.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Poetry Sunday

When I was an over-emotional teenager I read quite a bit of poetry and I collected by favorite bits in a notebook. I'm not sure, but I think I may have finally tossed the notebook when I was cleaning things out for the move this past summer. Now that I blog, I regret that. Which just reinforces the idea that you shouldn't throw things away because when you do you'll discover you need 'em. That law ought to have a name attached to it--like Murphy's law does.

Anyway, I do know, not being senile just yet that Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess" is one of my favorite poems. It's a unusual monologue which leaves the reader thinking that the last duchess didn't come to a natural end, but maybe had some help from her arrogant husband. That's my inference anyway. I'm pretty sure the next duchess isn't going to be much better off, either. See what you think.

My Last Duchess
Robert Browning
That's my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now: Frà Pandolf's hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will 't please you sit and look at her? I said
'Frà Pandolf' by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say, 'Her mantle laps
Over my lady's wrist too much,' or 'Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat:' such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart -- how shall I say? -- too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Sir, 'twas all one! My favor at her breast,
The dropping of the daylight in the West,
The bough of cherries some officious fool
Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule
She rode with round the terrace -- all and each
Would draw from her alike the approving speech,
Or blush, at least. She thanked men, -- good! but thanked
Somehow -- I know not how -- as if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybody's gift. Who'd stoop to blame
This sort of trifling? Even had you skill
In speech -- (which I have not) -- to make your will
Quite clear to such an one, and say, 'Just this
Or that in you disgusts me; here you miss,
Or there exceed the mark' -- and if she let
Herself be lessoned so, nor plainly set
Her wits to yours, forsooth, and made excuse,
-- E'en then would be some stooping; and I choose
Never to stoop. Oh, sir, she smiled, no doubt,
Whene'er I passed her; but who passed without
Much the same smile? This grew; I gave commands;
Then all smiles stopped together. There she stands
As if alive. Will 't please you rise? We'll meet
The company below then. I repeat,
The Count your master's known munificence
Is ample warrant that no just pretence
Of mine for dowry will be disallowed;
Though his fair daughter's self, as I avowed
At starting, is my object. Nay, we'll go
Together down, sir. Notice Neptune, though,
Taming a sea-horse, thought a rarity,
Which Claus of Innsbruck cast in bronze for me!

The Fantastic Four

It's a rainy Saturday here in the Baltimore area, a good day to stay home and vegetate. I watched some shows I had waiting in the dvr while my sister added more music to iTunes. Then we both settled in a watched a movie on demand. This is an unusual event, I decide must post about it because it gives evidence of the fact that I occasionally do something different. Wait, watching a movie on tv isn't really different from watching tv when it's regular tv, I guess. Rats.

Anyway, I've wanted to see Fantastic Four since it came out on dvd, because, well, it's the kind of silly movie I enjoy. And I did. Enjoy it, that is, even the silly parts. The silly parts are the stuff you get to make fun of after. Like now.

Silly part number 1: The "Hey-a storm is coming let's go into space and watch it up close tomorrow" plan. Couldn't they at least pretend like the trip took months to plan? I'm pretty sure they didn't just fling the space shuttle up into space on one day's notice.

Silly part number 2: All the angst. The Rock-thing guy's wife was a total loser who is so disturbed by his new appearance that she's all "Don't touch me!" after she runs out of her apartment into the middle of NY in a skimpy satin nightie and robe. So then he's all grim and unhappy through the whole movie. Then there's the weird way the rock-guy, who I thought was a former astronaut, starts speaking like he had never graduated from high school when he becomes the atrocious rock-like thing. I mean, you gotta figure that the guy has a least a master's degree to be an astronaut right? And a little bit of rock hard skin and internal organs and he's all "Kid, you done good." I don't think so. Ugly does not equal stupid anywhere except Hollywood.

Silly part number 3: So Julian McMahon's character (you didn't really expect me to remember their names, right?) has his really successful company go belly up after one trip into space? Why? Oh--that's right, they can't explain that part because we're too busy being all angsty about the love triangle between Julian, Jessica Alba, and nerdy scientist guy who can stretch.

Silly part number 4: Could the flaming guy be more immature and annoying? 'Nuf said.

Silly part number 5: These are in no particular order, by the way, why did the police assume rock-like guy was evil? Again just by looks. Wow, is Hollywood biased or what? And they think they're so liberal, too. Go figure.

So I would recommend Fantastic Four to my friends who enjoy movies that they can shred during dinner after the movie. Those movies have a place in our culture. I'm kind of hoping there will be a Fantastic Four-2 someday.

This is why I don't go to bed early...

Sometime in the middle of last night, during my 2-4 am insomnia, I got up and posted a post about my insomnia. It wasn't high art, but I thought it was amusing and that my mythical reader would enjoy it.

When I awoke from the second part of my night's sleep, the 4-10:30 am part, I noticed a typo. I went into the guts of my blog to edit out that little one letter typo and poof! the entire entry just disappeared. It wasn't even listed as being a draft. Gone. Without a trace. (That would make a good name for a tv show.)

I've checked in time and again today, thinking that somehow the post is going to magically re-appear. Nutin'. I'm too lazy to re-create the blog and frankly, what gave the post it's unique flavor was the middle of the nightishness of it so I don't think a re-do would be the same.

So I considered; perhaps I should save my posts in a word file, just in case this ever happens again. Some of my recap posts are really long and take more than an hour to put together. I would be super-heated if I lost one of those after all that work. On the other hand I'm not exactly known for backing up stuff and being all prepared in the event of a disaster, so maybe I'll just post about the missing post instead. Yeah. I'll just post about it instead.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Survivor Panama-Exile Island

Tonight marked the beginning of the new season of Survivor. Twelve seasons in and the show doesn't ever get old, imo. My sister and I observed that we don't care if the show never leaves Panama since one island is pretty much like another. It's the cast which creates the novelty from season to season. The producers throw in some change-ups every year and that helps too--but really it all comes down to a new cast each year. Perhaps more than any other show, Survivor depends on the personalities. This edition's twists are intriguing. First there are four tribes instead of two; two sets of men and two sets of women. The men and women are further divided into old and young. They've added the Exile Island mentioned in the title as a twist. One castmate will be exiled there regularly and forced to survive on their own and forego the opportunities to make alliances. There is an immunity idol hidden somewhere on Exile Island which can be used either before or after a vote right up until the final four. Supplies are sparce, in this edition as well, tribes get a flint, a pot and a machete, and that's it.

Here is the breakdown of the Tribes:

Bayoneta: (young women) Courtney-Performance Artist (fire dancer?), Danielle; Medical Sales Rep, Misty; Engineer, Sally; Social Worker

Casaya: (older women) Cerie; Registered Nurse, Melinda-Singer, Ruth Marie; Director of Retail Sales, Tina; Logging Sports Promoter/Performer

La Mina: (older men) Bruce; Karate Instructor and HS Art Teacher, Dan-Retired Astronaut, Terry-Airline Pilot, Retired Navy Fighter Pilot, Shane-Entertainment Marketer

Viveros: (young men) Aras; a yoga instructor, Austin; a writer, Bobby; an attorney, Nick; financial sales

In this episode, "The First Exile", the tribes immediately compete in a reward challenge. The first three tribes to find one of the amulets hidden inside some skulls (hopefully fake ones) will receive flint for fire. The losing tribe will not receive flint for fire and one of their members would be exiled immediately. There is really a limited physical aspect to this challenge other than the race to the pile of skulls. The participants break open the skulls, unwrap some burlap and find either an amulet or a stone. Physicality or speed plays another limited role in that you need to hop up and get another skull quickly. Manual dexterity should have advantaged the women with their smaller and presumeably more agile fingers but it didn't work out that way.

Danielle runs for Bayoneta. Ruth Marie runs for Casaya, Terry runs for La Mina. Austin runs for Viveros. (Tripping a bit right out of the gate; nerves?) La Mina, Viveros, and Casaya return in that order and win the flint. Bayoneta loses and has to leave a member behind. Danielle volunteers to stay behind since she ran in the challenge and didn't win, the others don't agree and eventually resort to rock, paper, scissors. Misty is the unlucky exile.

At camp the older/younger theme of competences vs. imcompetence we have seen so often on other seasons shows up right out of the gate. We see the older women and men immediately begin to set up camp efficiently and effectively. Meanwhile, the younger men can't figure out how to make fire even with a flint. The younger women wander aimlessly trying to pick a camp site without regard for where the water well is located or where the best shelter could be built.

On Exile Island, Misty takes Jeff's clue about spending her time on Exile Island trying to figure out why fate chose to leave her behind as a clue that the immunity idol is buried behind where she was standing. Misty pokes at the dirt with a stick in a desultory fashion. She pluckily eats an earthworm to keep up her strength. Ick. She strategizes a plan to mislead her team into thinking that she found the idol while exiled. To that end when Jeff inferred that she spent a little time looking for the idol. She replied "Enough". Tricky. Now all the tribes are wondering if she found it.

The immunity challenge is partly physical and partly mental. Climb over a barrier, jump in the water, swim to a raft, release the raft from a hook mooring which is under the water, paddle to the shore, solve a rope brain teaser (directions are buried nearby) release the ring, grab the grappling hook with the ring and pull it to release your flag. First three teams to release their flags win immunity.

The teams go into the water and the younger men get significantly behind because they can't figure out how to release their raft from its hook. The older women have this problem too but solve it quicker. I note the older woman paddle casually and with no particular effort. They do make it to the beach before the younger men but they could have had a greater advantage. I am irritated by this lackadaisical effort. Hellloo, old ladies you have a disadvantage here---speed it up, I glare at the tv. The older men and younger women are on the beach and working at solving the brain teasers. They appropriately ration their resources. Two team members work on digging up the directions and two members try to solve the puzzle without the directions. The older women finally make it to the beach a little ahead of the younger men. They apportion their resources stupidly, 3 digging while one tries to solve the puzzle. The younger men follow the two and two division. The older women know that the younger men are getting closer to getting their flag but somehow don't get inspired to speed up. Hurry up!!! Stop arguing about the steps for solving the puzzle, you doofus women. The younger men are going to beat you! They do not hear my cries of frustration and they lose.

Now I'm disgusted with the older women--my natural allies, since they are in my age range. (Cagily, I do not give away my age of 45 to my readers...oops.) Anway, I am glad they have lost now, because they did not try hard enough. Ptew. They are not my favorite team anymore. I will root for the old guys. They have two military men. (Are NASA shuttle pilots military or civilian? Whatever they are very smart, for sure.) They are bound to be better. Except for the dork, Shane, who thought coming on Survivor was a good way to break a three pack a day smoking habit. I can tell already he's going to melt down soon under the double stress of Survivor and nicotine withdrawal. He's already been irritable on Day One.

After the loss, the older ladies begin the cannibalism process involved in voting someone off. Cerie wants to make sure it is not her. She works the other two women. Tina, helpfully, runs off to the beach alone to mourn her only son who was recently killed. This is a secret she is keeping from the others and so they view her self-exile as weird. Big strategic mistake, Tina, if you told them you are mourning your son and they would never vote you off. Is this callous of me to say? It's true, though, isn't it?

The tribal council was actually pretty funny. Melinda and Cerie are a hoot, admitting that they are not having fun. Melinda says, "I would say that I am in Panamanian hell right about now. This is by far the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire life. And it's because it is all-encompassing. It's mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually--I'm mean, that's why it's so difficult. You should try it."

Jeff skillfully (does he have a psychology degree or what?) leads the women around to who's working the hardest. Now Tina was probably already going to go because Cerie did her work very well, but then Tina helped Cerie out and pretty much gave herself the death blow, with this answer:

(To Tina) Jeff asked, “Do you think these other three are pulling their weight?”

Tina said, “Um, not as much as I would like to. I have a really huge work ethic. But I feel like if I keep saying let’s get more firewood, let’s go find a fishing spot, they’re gonna look at me as, as a bigger leader than I am and then my head is on the chopping block. So I just go off by myself and work hard and have a good life.”

That didn't set well with the other women, not surprisingly, and so Tina goes. Her exit comments are a little bitter. She basically thinks that she would have done better with a different (read: better) group of women. I don't think so. What little we saw of her she seemed loud and over-confident. Her social skills were a bit off. She was not sensitive to the effect her behavior (loud and inclined to isolate herself) had on the other women. Some people are "tone-deaf" in their people skills. The surprising thing to me is that they show up on Survivor pretty regularly. Tina also claimed that she had caught a fish to the other women, when in reality she picked it up off the rocks where it was stranded. Woohoo! Way to go-- picking up helpless fish. What a hunter-warrior-provider. Sure she was smart to pick up the fish, good for her, But ick acting like she did something especially difficult. That was not cool.

Next week the previews hint that Shane wants to go home--and lightning comes really close to striking him, maybe. You know the Survivor previews--they can be a liiitle misleading about what is going to happen.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Project Runway-Flower Power

I will be very interested in Tim's podcast which will hopefully explain how Daniel V. came to win yet again. Also, how Santino can design ugly and survive; while Andrae goes home because his design is "boring". Er, maybe I just answered my own implicit question.

These are the things I love and hate about PR. I love watching everyone scramble around to complete really difficult challenges with limited time and resources. (This one was the hardest yet, imo.) I hate not getting enough looks at the sketches and hearing about the process from the designers. (They need confessionals or something where the designers can spill their guts and from which the editors can pick tidbits to insert into the show at the appropriate moments.)I love the review of the outfits and the critiques by the judges. I hate that I don't hear more of what the judges really think. (Maybe the show should got to an hour and a half.) I love/hate that I care about who goes home. I love that Chloe and Kara survived especially after hearing the guys say at the beginning of the episode that they were competing amongst themselves as if Chloe and Kara didn't count at all. I hate that Kara and Chloe both had gorgeous designs which somehow didn't win because Daniel V. is the judge's golden boy. (I also think Andrae should have won last time, don't forget.) I love that Andrae said at the beginning that he wasn't going to be eliminated--thus, hoisted by his own petard. I hate that Tarah had to go home because Zulema stole her from Nick and then lost the next challenge. I love that the girls worked together to finish Chloe's design in beautiful feminine solidarity which is the antithesis of how women seem to behave in reality television. (Disagree? I offer the evidence of the Donald's Apprentice girl teams.) I love that Tim got to hear Santino doing his Timpression. I hate that we didn't get to watch his discomfort for longer. I hate that Michael Kors called Nick's design vulgar and implied that Nick has a vulgar edge frequently but didn't give examples. I love that the guest judges this week Badgley/Mischka appeared to have actually watched the show both this season and last and so were knowledgeable about the process.

PR2-Tim's Podcasts

I recently subscribed to Tim's Podcasts on iTunes. I hadn't done it previously because I was under the mistaken belief that it would involve a fee. Anyway--they are fun and give insider glimpses into the behind the scenes events. I listened during my tiny commute to and from work today and came to the realization that it makes more sense to listen and hang out at the PR website so you can review the designs as Tim makes his comments. The following is just info from--by no means a transcript--of the podcasts.

Introduction: Tim talks about the fun ahead and the difference between the (in my words) clueless first season participants and the more savvy, strategic second season participants. Tim felt that the two seasons have very different casts with different viewpoints.

Episode 1: Road to Runway. The casting was more daunting because of the sheer increase in numbers with the success of the show. Four cities: NY, Houston, Miami, and LA--each city is different culturally and thus, so were their designer candidates. In Season 1 70% of candidates were still in design school or recent grads, while in Season 2 the numbers are inverted--30% are still in design school or recent grads.

Prescreening of candidates was done by Seventh on Sixth. They looked at the work first, not the personalities of the candidates. Designers presented: three garments which they designed and made; a two-dimensional portfolio which could contain design illustrations and flats, a look-book of work form the past or current collection. 100 candidates made it to the semi-final stage. The 100 candidates were asked to return an (within 48 hours) autobiographical video--some got additional instructions. For example, Kirsten Ehrig was asked for more of her fashion because she had only presented bathing suits. Emmett was also asked to provide more info because of his menswear background.

After the 100 candidates were selected--the producers of PR and Bravo made the cut down to 30 candidates. Then everyone helped to cut 30 down to 16. They ended up with a cast of great diversity that adds to the quality of season 2. The Season 2 cast is better than the Season 1 cast which is no insult to the Season 1 cast. Tim found it difficult to predict winners and losers in Season 2.

Daniel Franco was the season 2 surprise. His collection was among the strongest seen in all four cities. Tim would put it in the top 3 or 4. Tim doesn't feel that Daniel F. had an unfair advantage based on his one day experience in Season 1. He insulated himself and didn't listen to others or use his resources in Season 1. Tim recalls how he boasted about spending only $4 dollars out of a $50 dollar budget, which was not too smart. Tim was a champion of his return, however.

I note Tim kind of hints that Nick stays with the show a pretty long time because he talks about the pressures Nick is under as time goes by and the competition becomes more intense to answer questions about how to do things by others because of his teaching background.

Episode 2-Clothes off Your Back How far are you willing to go for fashion? Chloe was at a disadvantage because she had so little to work with in the challenge. The designers were really thrown by the limitation on the materials and having to give up what were favorite clothes. Santino, with unbridled passion, was willing to do anything. Kirsten self-sacrificed by being obsessed with the Hermes scarf. Tim was disappointed to see her go because she had a unique background. Tim was moved by Santino's talk on the runway and he doesn't feel he's faking it.

Problems with time restraint showed up for the first time in this episode. Problems with strategic thinking. Problems with using materials wisely. Re-styling was not the goal; re-design was the goal. Tim marvelled at what Chloe was able to achieve with such limited resources. Santino's re-design was exuberant and had incredible attention to detail even with the time constraint. Tim was disappointed in Daniel Franco's dress' fit in the first episode. He is a masterful tailor and great designer. But Daniel's second design was a slight innovation from first. Diana's nickname was Dr. Sprocket. Her designs were gimmicky. Marla was disabled by the construction of the clothes, although deconstructing the clothes first should have helped to teach them how clothes are constructed.

Oops--gotta go the PR is starting now! Yeehaw!