Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Apprentice-Cereal Killers

Some shows I have six pages of notes about The Apprentice; last night generated just two pages. Now either I'm being more efficient in my use of paper or the show was just a little dull. The show opened with Charmaine boo-hooing because the escapees from the board room said that Teresa got fired because she didn't bring Charmaine into the boardroom. Apparently this filled Charmaine with such guilt that she was forced to cry on camera. That was not a good move. On the other hand, she volunteered to be project manager to redeem herself, which was a good move.

The task this week is to promote Post cereals new GrapeNuts Trail Mix Crunch cereal. Just the name alone is a mouthful. They are to design a 20' X 15' billboard. Now I imagined a billboard sign which was wider than it was long. What the teams ended up designing was something taller than it was wide so I don't know if it was just poor understanding on my part or the inconsistent use of vocabulary. Sometimes they called it a billboard and sometimes they called it a banner. Of course, banner makes me think horizontal as well, but whatever.

Synergy led by Tammy bats around a few ideas about nutrition and fitness but ultimately decided to use a theme about the old generation of Grape Nuts eaters passing the torch to the new generation of Grape Nuts eaters. It had potential and I liked the idea and thought it was something they could win with. Of course, Synergy has the age old problem of what to do with Brent. He pushed hard for the fitness idea. He seemed to be stealing ideas from Special K in my mind, suggesting they have a slogan about Grape Nuts kick starting a ten pound weight loss. Didn't Special K do that already? After going with the generations theme, Tammy put Brent in charge of clothing for the presentation. Yesp--she made him wardrobe guy. Brent wanted to do the presentation, however, because that's what he's good at in his opinion. Tammy told him since they were not going with his idea regarding fitness or weight loss that he wouldn't be a good presenter. I wish she would have just said flat out, "Brent we can't trust you not to act like a dork in front of the executives and you're not going to present." But nooo, she had to "nice" it up and he used that against her later on.

Meanwhile, Gold Rush was led by Charmaine, who was determined to lead the team well. She did a fine job, re-focusing the team as needed and reminding them of their bottom line. While observing the team in action, George commented that Gold Rush is seven type A personalities. He felt they're difficult to manage. Small comfort if you are project manager I would suppose. Gold Rush ultimately chose a theme that related to how good the cereal tastes. They are going to show someone chugging the cereal.

Both teams hit the streets to find regular people models. Both are successful and find good models for their photo shoots. Andrea, at Synergy has some background in graphics and marketing so she is tasked to create the billboard/banner design. She has to do it with Brent constantly interrupting and suggesting alternative ideas which would have driven me crazy. The final design looked like a cereal box and the models pictures were inserted into a heart shape opening in the center. Gold Rush was on-track and then just as they were finishing...one of the guys ( I don't know his name) started to get cold feet about their direction, mostly because it was his idea and he didn't want to be blamed for a loss. Charmaine got pretty testy with him about that.

To my surprise, Gold Rush won the challenge. I really felt that the edit seemed to be pointing to a Synergy win. Gold Rush's simple design and great logo "It's that good!" were suitable for a billboard because you got the point in seconds. They chose an ordinary-looking woman for their model and dressed her in fitness gear which sent a subliminal message about the woman's interest in fitness while the overt message of the design showcased the great taste of the cereal.
The Post cereal people thought it was "Brilliant" and "Clear". The box says nutritious and she's says delicious.

Synergy's design was attractive but it was too busy and the point of the father passing on the Grape Nuts tradition was lost because they put the two people together in a heart shape which made you think the man was the girl's really old boyfriend. A passing car wouldn't have been able to get the point without reading all the text, and they wouldn't have had time to read the text unless they were caught in a traffic jam. Synergy had planned a little slide show presentation and Sean, the guy with the English accent, totally muffed the presentation as well.

Before the boardroom Brent said, (shades of last week) "Keep me out of the boardroom or you'll be sorry." In the boardroom the discussion began with a review of Tammy's performance as PM. Roxanne felt she was the "best PM we've had yet." Andrea didn't care for that comment, she apparently took that as an insult to the job she had done as PM. When asked about Tammy's performance, Brent went on the offensive and was offensive all at the same time saying, "Tammy stank--and it smells clear over here." Then he proceeded to vomit bile all over the room. Considering that at that point no one had said anything at all about Brent, he started the hostilities rather prematurely. He went on to claim that Tammy had called him fat and used that as an excuse not to have him present. Tammy denied it and she was partially truthful. She didn't call him fat, but she didn't use the excuse that they weren't doing Brent's idea about fitness as a reason not to have him present. I almost think I need to watch that scene again to straighten it all out in my own head, but I'm too lazy.

My sister was very offended when Trump agreed that Brent wouldn't have been a good presenter for a health/fitness type cereal. I thought it was true. Appearance does matter, unfortunately, to people's perceptions of you. This is where I think Tammy got herself into trouble, she used that fitness thing as an excuse because she wouldn't just say "Brent--you're a loose-cannon-dork and I can't trust you."

Trump never gave Tammy the opportunity to bring anyone in to the boardroom, he just fired Brent right then and then. There were no heartfelt or even insincere goodbyes. No surprise there. The test will come next week when Brent is gone. Will Synergy perform better or worse without his disruptive presence? So far the teams have been trading victories and no one is dominating the competition--will that change now that Brent is gone?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sight Seeing

We're expecting company this week in Maryland. My older sister is coming from Indiana to spend four days with us. One of the great things about moving to Maryland has been the potential for cool day trips and sightseeing. When family came last summer and fall we went to Washington DC, Mt. Vernon, and Gettysburg. We still cogitating about where to go and what to do for this weekend. If it was Cherry Blossom time it would be a no-brainer but we don't quite have the warmth for that just yet. We've talked about going to Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello. I wouldn't mind visiting another civil war battlefield or even going to Gettysburg for the third time. Arlington, the National Zoo and the baby panda, the Baltimore Aquarium have also gone on the list. See what I mean? Maryland is a great place to live. Wherever we go I'll be blogging it.

Reading List

Since last week I've been re-reading two of my favorite book series by David Eddings which are collectively known as the Belgariad and the Mallorean. Each series is comprised of five separate but chronological and continuing novels which tell the story of a confrontation between good and evil. I've loved the series for years and every now and then I bring it out and re-visit it. As I like to think of it, before Harry Potter there was Garion. The stories follow a young boy through his growth to manhood while he's completing a quest and fighting evil with a group of companions and helpers. There's lots of magic, which is always fun. My favorite thing about the series, however, is the sheer likeability of the characters who inhabit the world. In the first series there are..hmm. how many characters...let's count 'em up. Garion, Belgarath, Polgara, Durnik, Silk, Barak, Ce'Nedra, Mandorallen, Lelldorin, Hettar, Relg, Taiba...Beldin...I think you are getting the idea. Lest this intimidate you from the reading the series, it isn't confusing because they are added slowly and logically into the story and they are written very distinctly. You never have to worry about getting so and so confused with who and go. If you know what I mean. The Belgariad gets my highest recommendation.

Bracket-nomics Day 4

By the end of the fourth day of the NCAA tournament I am losing hope that I will win my brackets competition. My "Head" bracket is batting 42% (just to mix up the sports metaphors) my "Heart" bracket is shooting 62%. Does this prove anything about how to pick your brackets? My sister's strategy has netted her an fourth day average of 68%. If Gonzago will just win the whole thing, I'll be redeemed.

For the round of 16 my "Head" bracket thinks that Gonzaga, UCONN, Villanova, and Florida will still be alive for the Elite Eight. My "Heart" bracket thinks that Texas, Gonzaga, Boston College and Florida will be around for the Elite Eight. My sister thinks that Duke, Texas, Memphis, Gonzaga, and Villanova will hang for the Eight. Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bracket-nomics Day 3

The good news is I didn't break out in hives when Illinois lost this year. The bad news is Illinois lost. It wasn't by much, and it wasn't a loss to a much lower seed, but it was still sad. I got choked up when I realized that I wouldn't see Dee Brown or James Augustine play at Illinois again. Gentlemen, I salute you.

Meanwhile, my percentage for day 3 was horrible. My Head and Heart bracket only managed a 63% accuracy of prediction. On the other hand, in a bizarro twist of fate--my sister received a score of 88% on day 3. Quel horreur! The idea that you can just GUESS and do better than someone who thought and did a minute amount of research just flies in the face of all fairness. Of course, her accuracy is bound to go down in future brackets because she picked Illinois to win the whole shootin' match out of loyalty.

Today's winners according to my Head bracket will be: Texas, Memphis, Pitt, UCONN, and Villanova. My Heart bracket thinks the winners will be: West Virginia, Texas, Pitt, and Kentucky. As you'll note, I don't have eight winners picked for the eight games today because some of my picks have already been eliminated.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bracket-nomics Day 2

Just a quick post before I hit the couch for the rest of the day to watch NCAA tournament action. My "Head" bracket finished day 2 of the tournament with a 69%--giving me a 69% overall. My "Heart" bracket finished day 2 of the tournament with a 69% also--and an average of 72% over the two days. My sister "what's the shortest name" strategy achieved a 62% for day two, ending with the same 72% average over the two days.

My picks to come out of round two:

Head-Duke, Texas, Memphis, Pitt, Gonzaga, UCLA, UCONN, Illinois, Tennessee, Villanova, Boston College, Florida, and Georgetown.

Heart-Duke, West Virginia, Texas, Pitt, Gonzaga, UCLA, Kentucky, Illinois, Murray State, Tennessee, Boston College, Florida, Ohio State.

Let's see how it all plays out.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Bracket-nomics Day 1

In the first day of the NCAA tournament, my head predicted the winners accurately 69% of the time. My heart predicted the winners accurately 75% of the time; meanwhile, my sister finished the first day with an 81% accuracy--and she picked based on which teams had the shortest names to write so she could finish filling out her bracket quicker. Go figure.

The most devastating blows to my "Head" bracket was the Syracuse loss in the first round. I had them going to the final four. In my "Heart" bracket the Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Syracuse losses will be hurting me clear through to the final. What can I say, I had Syracuse meeting Illinois in the final. I said it was my HEART bracket, remember? Hearts don't have to make sense.

Yesterday was the wierdest first day of competition that I can remember. It's not just the Oklahoma or Syracuse upsets. It was all the games where you really couldn't tell who would prevail until the very last second. I was pretty fearful for Gonzaga I don't mind admitting.

No basketball blog of mine is complete without a comment regarding Illinois. I know Illinois will have a tough row to hoe in the tournament. But seriously, one of the commentators said in the first half when the score was close--"Air Force has the look in their eye that says they think they're going to win this." Now I'll conceded that Air Force had made a run and just hit several threes and they looked like they could compete with Illinois for a few minutes. But that run of good luck was a long way from half time, let alone the final buzzer. So, was the commentator misunderestimating Illinois? or just hoping for upset because its a better story? Do sports commentators go to sport commentator school? Because they should. Sometimes they say the dorkiest things forcing me to actually mute the tv and watch the game in blessed silence.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Got my bracket done...

I've filled out two different sets up brackets for the upcoming NCAA Basketball Championships. In one, I've followed my head and gut, in the other I've followed my heart. So in Bracket #1, Gonzaga is winning it all, finally. In Bracket#2, Illinois is winning it all, finally. I would certainly be happier with the second than the first, since my heart is with Illinois. I do think Gonzaga is going to go far this tournament, because they know that this is Morrison's last chance and their best chance. Sometimes, one player's ambition can carry the team to the end.

In Bracket ONE, my first round picks are: UCONN, UAB, Washington , Illinois, Michigan State, North Carolina, Seton Hall, Tennessee, Villanova, Arizona, Boston College, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgetown, and Ohio State on the right side of the bracket. On the left side; Duke, GW, Syracuse, LSU, So. Illinois, Iowa, NC State, Texas, Memphis, Bucknell, Pitt, Kansas, Indiana, Gonzaga, Marquette, and UCLA.

In Bracket TWO, my first round picks are: UCONN, KY, Utah State, IL, George Mason, Murray State, Seton Hall, Tennessee, Villanova, Wisconsin, Montana, Boston College, Oklahoma, Florida, Georgetown, and Ohio State on the right bracket. On the left bracket: Duke, George Washington, Syracuse, LSU, West Virginia, Iowa, NC State, Texas, Memphis, Arkansas, Pitt, Kansas, Indiana, Gonzaga, Alabama, and UCLA.

As the discerning will note, Bracket TWO has many more upsets and long-shots. Bracket ONE follows a more traditional route with higher seeds winning most matchups. Where will my points come from? I LOVE March Madness. It even makes up for the fact that Survivor was a recap this week and we won't have a new episode for three weeks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Apprentice-Get it in Gear

The Apprentice changed up its opening a bit, presumably to entice more viewers in at the beginning of the show. The usual recap had new footage mixed in. They showed scenes of the board room, contrasted with scenes of the team waiting to see who would come back from the board room. They didn't recap the whole task. I don't think. Hope I didn't just imagine that but I don't always pay perfect attention. Even though I was taking notes. The opening seemed different to me.

When Synergy realized that Pepi and Stacy had been fired and Brent had survived, they had a brief freak out moment. Andrea reacted like her mother had died. She went into the women's bathroom and cried and cried and cried. Roxanne tried to comfort her and coax her to come out of the bathroom, but Andrea was smart enough to realize that crying on-camera was infinitely worse than crying off camera. When she finally came out of the bathroom she didn't even look like she had been crying. I wondered if I had imagined all the sobbing. She also came out of the bathroom fired up and ready to be project manager.

At Gold Rush we discover that Lee and Dan will be observing the Jewish New Year and will not participate in the next task. Lenny, who is also Jewish, will not observe the religious holiday. He is cranky that Lee and Dan have made a different choice. Lenny's just cranky in general I'm discovering. Bill Rancic is back this week, replacing George, who is also observing the holiday.

The task this week is to put on a corporate retreat for General Motors' top dealers to reward them and to introduce the new 2006 Chevy Tahoe. The team that receives the best evaluation from the dealers will win.

Teresa is the project manager from Gold Rush. I can't say that I had ever noticed her in previous tasks. Right away I dislike her long blonde hair as she is a woman of a certain age, as they say. Her face is shiny and she's orangey-tan which is not a good combination. Shallow of me to focus on her appearance, I know. She is very assertive and hands out tasks with efficiency. She tells the team that their goal is to put on a classy event and to make the dealers feel special. She assigns Tarek the creative brief but then never lets the guy finish a sentence as he tries to work out a theme or big idea to build the event around. Teresa's idea is that the "experience of class" is sufficient. The theme doesn't need to relate to the product. To that end she's going to have a horse and carriage at the event. With stallions. And a comedian. And models. Nothing says class like models, after all, right? Lenny is disgusted right from the get-go with Teresa. He wishes "her brain was bigger than her boobs." What a guy, that Lenny.

Synergy goes for the big idea. Brent thinks they should have massages. Is the guy obsessed with massages? He brought in the massage idea for the Sam's Club task too. Maybe since they won that task he thinks they should re-visit their former glory or something. The team brainstorms and comes up with "Nature Refined" because the Chevy Tahoe is a rugged SUV that is also a luxurious car. They plan their event around this theme. While the team works out their event, Brent is shown eating his way through a mountain of food. Is Brent really the only one eating or is this making fun of the fat guy?

Lenny begins to set up the event for Gold Rush, apparently, all by himself. He has a pity party while he does it, claiming that Lenny is doing everything. Yes, he calls himself by name. But it turns out he hasn't done everything because when Teresa gets there she discovers that Lenny has not arranged for a generator to run their electric circular stage upon which the Chevy Tahoe will be displayed in all its glory. When chided--okay--harangued about not having a generator Lenny says, "Not my problem". Tarek, meanwhile, is setting up the golf event by using a post-hole digger to create tee holes. The grass is a mess; weedy and half-dead. I can't imagine a ball will even roll over this lawn. Tarek isn't happy about it either and tells us that Teresa didn't think they needed astroturf. Hmm, guess that's not necessary for a "classy" event.

Synergy's "Nature Refined" theme will include a rock climbing wall, fly fishing, and skeet shootings. Whoops. No skeet shooting after all, they are in a public park and discover they aren't allow to shoot anything, not even skeet. I did wonder about the safety of it when I saw someone shooting while a little child looked on. Brent is contributing mightily to the task. Roxanne asked him to help her place the trash cans in appropriate places around the event site. He tossed two trash cans over by the side of the shelter and walked away. The two cans were stuck together, one in the other, but good enough, I guess. Without missing a beat, Synergy replaces the poorly thought out skeet shooting with golf cart racing. They also give the dealers test drives in the Chevy Tahoe while they share product information about the new design.

At Gold Rush, right before the event begins, Teresa assigns "some guy" whose name I didn't ever figure out the task of briefing the models on the product information about the Chevy Tahoe. So the models are going to be the one's who share produce information with the dealers? Since telling these top dealers about the new design and features of the Chevy Tahoe is one of the main purposes of the event, is that REALLY how Gold Rush should handle product info? I'm thinking...no. I'm sure you, dear reader, already see where this event is going don't you? Right into the compost heap. Gold Rush has a horse and carriage, a crummy golf tee with weeds instead of grass, and models who don't actually know anything about the Chevy Tahoe sharing info with top dealers. Then they bring in the comedian. The one who's not funny. She's just vulgar. Wow. What a classy event. Yep. Classy--that's what springs to my mind. When asked,
Teresa was "cautiously optimistic" about Gold Rush's chances of winning. Whoa. Teresa was at the event they put on, right? Makes you wonder if she was at a different event than the rest of us saw, if she's "cautiously optimistic".

No surprise--Gold Rush loses. Trump asks Teresa to what she attributes their loss and she immediately tips her hat at Lenny being to blame. This makes cranky Lenny, even crankier.

Synergy gets to go swim with sharks as a reward. I'm underwhelmed by this reward as Michael Kors would say.

In the board room, things get contentious. Teresa blames either Lenny (because he's difficult) or Tarek (because he failed to execute his task as creative director and the golf tee was crummy) for the failure of the task. Trump wonders if Charmaine isn't to blame because she hired the really bad comedian and paid her $1700 dollars. Whoa. $1700 for 15 minutes work? I've gotta change careers. Charmaine also hired the models who didn't know anything about the product. Trump thinks Charmaine should be in the board room instead of Lenny.

Now me, I think all these problems can be laid at Teresa's door. She was the one who wouldn't let Tarek center the event around a theme related to the product. She's the one who decided the golf tee didn't need astroturf. She's the one who wanted to hire models and then gave them the responsiblity for sharing product knowledge with the dealers. I don't think the problem was tasks poorly executed so much as stupid choices for tasks. Fortunately, Teresa is fired. If she had brought Charmaine into the boardroom she probably would have survived. There you go. Another project manager goes because they don't appropriately apportion blame.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Top Ten Book List

My last post about Loretta Chase gave me the idea of actually writing down my top ten list of favorite books. Probably ten isn't enough in reality, but let's start with just ten favorites of any genre. In no particular order, my favorite books are:

1. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
2. Ravished by Amanda Quick
3. Eight Cousins by Louise May Alcott
4. Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold
5. Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard
6. The White Dragon by Anne McCaffrey
7. The Belgariad by David Eddings
8. Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson
9. Devils' Bride by Stephanie Laurens
10. Archangel by Sharon Shinn

The interesting thing about my top ten is that I could expand it, ten-fold, by including lots of other works by these particular authors. Many of the books on the list are part of continuing series.

Loretta Chase

Loretta Chase is one of my favorite authors and one of her books is in my top ten all-time favorite book list. Lord of Scoundrels is a wonderful book published some years ago which I re-read regularly because it just does it for me. It's a feel good book. Since L of S made my top ten list, naturally, I buy whatever I see that comes out under Chase's name. For a long time there was quite a drought. Happily, Ms. Chase is once more publishing regularly. Her latest series of books started with Miss Wonderful, continued with Mr. Impossible, and her most recent addition is, Lord Perfect. I re-read bits and bites of the first two books just to remind myself of the family and setting, then I settled in to enjoy Lord Perfect. And I did. What do I like about these books, in particular? I enjoy the well-developed and unique characters. They seem real with flaws and talents, hopes and dreams. I love the dialogue; sparkling and so funny. I like the variety of settings and plots which allow me to read several Loretta Chase's in a row and not feel like I've read the same book twice or thrice with new names attached. In Lord Perfect, the secondary characters--the children--are so original that I am looking forward to the day they get their own story!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Selection Sunday

Well, Illinois lost a close one to Michigan State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday night. It didn't show in my area, but I read about it afterwards. I'm glad it was a close one. The loss was a bit disturbing to me as I always prefer Illiniois to win, but then I decided the extra two days off would be good for our ultimate NCAA Tournament preparations. I note most brackets anticipate Illinois receiving a number two seed in the tournament. I remember three or four years ago when we were hoping for a two seed and lost the championship game of the Big Ten tournament and ended up a number four seed. There was quite a bucket of bitterness about that low seeding. I'm not sure what's changed since then except perhaps Illinois' reputation. I mean, we had more talent then but less experience. Right now we're a bit thinner on talent but have two really experienced seniors. (It's rather fascinating to see Illinois rank so high when I expected more of a rebuilding year. Bruce Weber is a genius.) Then we had won our conference regular season; this year we tied for second with Iowa. Of course, this year the Big Ten is getting credit for a whole lot more strength in all its teams then it did three or four years ago when the analysts were saying the Big Ten was 'down'. I hope Iowa beats Ohio State for the Big Ten Championship. I'm still holding a grudge against Ohio State for ruining our perfect season last year.

It happened again. Lots of talk about a number two seed and then we end up getting a number four seed. How does this occur? Ohio State ended up a number two seed, which although painful, makes sense because they won the Big Ten Regular season. Iowa ended up a three seed--again makes some sense--they were tied for second for the regular season and they won the tournament. We ended up a four seed. I suppose that is punishment for going out in the first round of our tournament but it doesn't really stand up when you consider we tied for second place, a half game behind Ohio State, in the regular season. When we win the tournament we don't get rewarded with a higher seeding, but when we lose or go our early they knock us back ruthlessly. I hate the seedings. They never make sense to me.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Survivor--Salvation & Desertion

Our show begins at camp Casaya after the vote. Shane is afflicted with some kind of demon that keeps his mouth running without actually connecting it to his brain. He harangues Danielle for bouncing Bobby when the logical choice to go was Bruce. He believes she has ruined their tribe because of her personal feelings. She is evil. He cannot associate with such as she. Blah Blah Blah. The subtext of this is--Shane is a wack job. Danielle handles it very well and things don't escalate. I'm surprised but realize that Courtney slept on the beach which accounts for things not going to heck in the proverbial handbasket. The next morning Cerie updates Courtney about Shane's wig-out and hopes for a complete breakdown of the alliance. Who can blame her? She deserves to be safe in an alliance way more than crazy Shane.

At La Mina, Dan now feels comfortable enough with Nick and Austin to reveal his space shuttle experience. Sally, meanwhile, feels like she's been dropped on Boy's Club island. Clearly, reality tv is having a tough time making a story out of these well-adjusted adults.

Later in the morning, Shane re-visits his previous rant with Danielle and Courtney. He wants out of the alliance but he can't get out without their agreement because he swore on his son's name or life or something. So he asks for his son's name back. Danielle is all up with that, so is Courtney, so is Aras. Hmm, not a good sign when your alliance is really really really glad you want out of the alliance. With all the dysfunction at Casaya, one wonders, how can they win any challenges?

The immunity challenge and reward challenge are combined into one high stakes event. La Mina realizes that this combined challenge is the equivalent of the seventh inning of the last game of the World Series. They must win. You know my reaction to statements like that--must win? Must not win then or we wouldn't be talking about it on camera. Nothing a reality tv editor likes so well as irony.

At the challenge we learn that three team members must run out and retrieve four puzzle pieces (and they are big!), two other team members will solve a spinning puzzle when all the pieces have been collected. The Survivor creative team have created a very pretty design in the field. The overhead shots are beautiful, I wish they stop following the challenge so I can get a good look.

The event begins and La Mina is out to a significant early lead when Shane has difficulty undoing the knots on the first puzzle piece. La Mina ends up with all four puzzle pieces a fair while before Casaya gets back with their fourth. Don't know how long their advantage was because of the tricky editing. The early start does not help Dan and Sally solve the puzzle faster, however. They are stumped. They cannot fit the first piece in place. Hmm. Meanwhile, Casaya begins solving the puzzle. Dan takes the opportunity to stop trying to solve the puzzle and just see what Casaya is doing. This is sometimes called cheating. You know, looking at the other guy's work. But all's fair in love and Survivor. Unfortunately, this is not a successful strategy because Casaya finishes the puzzle and La Mina had one? piece in? Maybe? I can't swear to it. Great start...baaad finish.

With the reward and immunity combined, Casaya will be allowed to send a La Mina tribe member to Exile Island and that tribe member will be immune from tonight's vote. Casaya sends Sally to Exile Island, saving her from the evil intentions of the boy's alliance. Sally is relieved! She knew she was going next. Meanwhile, gotta say the girls of Casaya were very clever. They saved Sally and ensured her loyalty when the merge comes if she's still around. They've also forced La Mina to get rid of a man, potentially weakening them for the next challenge. (I think Sally could have taken Dan, so maybe not so much.)

The boys are in a quandary. They like each other so much, you see. They're so well-adjusted. Nick and Austin approach Terry about voting off Dan. Physically he is the weakest and he lost the puzzle challenge. Terry reluctantly agrees that for the good of the team that is the best choice--not to mention he's out-numbered. Like the well-adjusted adult he is, Terry tells Dan to his face (shocking, I know!) that he doesn't see the point in letting the vote go to a 2 vs. 2 tie. Dan wishes things were different but he respects their decision. Dan admits that they wouldn't be in this position if he had just solved the puzzle. Wow. Terry is respectful of Dan. Dan takes responsibility for his own mistakes. This is inspiring. Am I still watching Survivor?

I usually fast-foward through the rewards because I don't enjoy them unless there is some strategizing going on. The notable events of Casaya's barbeque party with some Panamanians: Tribe mates eat their weight in every kind of food. (Woo hoo. I didn't see that coming.) Shane cadges a cigarette and breaks his fifteen day cold-turkey fast from cigarettes. He smokes that cigarette down to the absolutely end of the filter. Wow, that's desperate. Under the influence of food and drink, Shane apologizes to Danielle. She seems to accept his apology for his stupid mouthiness. Cerie watches the rapprochment morosely. Shane back in good with the alliance is not good for Cerie, after all.

At tribal council, even tricky Jeff can't make this vote into something with deeper implications regarding tribe unity. Dan leaves with dignity. The others send him off with regret. And Sally sleeps alone on Exile Island safe for three more days.

Next week's episode is being shown on Wednesday because of the NCAA basketball championships. I get the impression it is a recap episode with some new footage. Rats. Then it will be THREE more weeks before we have a new episode. Yikes! What's up with that? My sister carefully reviewed the preview of the new episode and she is sure that the "medical emergency" that is briefly shown involves a woman and it is not Cerie. We'll see. Thank goodness I love basketball.

American Idol--The Final Twelve

From the sublime of intelligensia to the ridiculousness of American Idol in one fell swoop. I see that Kinnick and Ayla were the lowest vote getters for the girls; while Peter Brady look-alike, and Gedeon were the lowest vote getters for the guys. The final twelve are:

Paris--what's up with channeling Shirley Temple tonight,
Katherine McFee
Kellie "Don't call me calimari" Pickler
Lisa-the youngest (Ryan felt it was an important fact to note)

The judges have been so down on Melissa that I've been rooting for her. Not voting for her, mind, just rooting. ;o)

Taylor Hicks--I don't mind the gray hair but please don't dance
Ace--why is your hair so uneven?
Kevin--ICK. What is wrong with America? The guy isn't even through puberty yet.

Who will win? I'm thinking it's a guy's turn. We've had Kelly, Ruben, Fantasia, and Carrie--we need a marketable guy. I'm thinking it will be Ace. He's not the best, but he's okay enough and he's cute. Not imo, personally--you know, just aesthetically speaking.

The Rule of Law is a Cathedral

On Fox News with Brit Hume, there was a piece about Chief Justice John Roberts' first public speech since becoming Chief Justice. He gave it at the Reagan Library after being solicited by Nancy Reagan. I scratched down some notes, which are pretty accurate although I don't claim perfect repetition. These comments struck me very powerfully. For example, he told the audience that Reagan had talked to him about the role of judges and said that judges must have the "lonely courage of the patriot". Roberts went on to say that the rule of law is a cathedral which must be painstakingly built, brick by brick. (How poetically and beautifully put.) He continued, the framers of our constitution created a document to govern our society for ages to come not just for their own age only. Roberts offered the opinion that the establishment of an independent judiciary which can apply the law to the government, as well as to the governed, can be challenging to societies which have not known such a force in generations, if at all. I'm impressed. I'd like to read the entire transcript of that speech.

Project Runway Finale Part 2

I sat last night as part 1 of the Finale of Project Runway Season 2 ended, with a flutter in my stomach while I waited for the start of Part 2. I felt a little ridiculous about my nerves, after all, my life wasn't changing whatever the outcome. I busily wrote an unnecessary title for the opening page of my notes to kill time. The show began. The title for my notes was the last thing I wrote about the show. ;o)

I was so involved that I simply didn't have any interest or energy leftover for making my usual notes about the show. No recap is coming from my brain today. I don't really remember that many details. Maybe listening to the mongo-size podcast Tim has prepared regarding the finale will jog my memory and shake out some observations. My reaction has been pretty simple. Delight. Amazement. I actually backed the person that won. That hardly ever happens to me! Wow. A happy ending. It's like a romance novel for tv.

I really think that the best person won. I loved Chloe's collection from the get-go. I have always been nervous that the collection wouldn't get the respect that I felt it deserved because it was only an evening collection. I anticipated with gloom comments about "prom" dresses being repeated. But nope, nuh-uh. All my fears were unrealized. Actually seeing Chloe's clothes on the runway explains some of that. They move so well. They fit the models so beautifully. The show slid from theme to theme so effortlessly. And Grace's appearance in that gorgeous dark aqua dress--she was stunning! I agree with someone who said in the comments on Blogging Project Runway that Debra Messing was a key to Chloe's win. She reacted positively to Chloe's collection because she wears red carpet clothing and she could imagine herself in Chloe's dresses. That's what I think, anyway. She'd look fabulous in the dress Grace modeled, too.

I think I'll sit and bask in my satisfaction at picking the winner. I'm not sure I ever blogged that I thought Chloe would win--I'm a little pessimistic--but I sure hoped that she would. Wow. A happy ending. Sweet.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Apprentice-The Razor's Edge

When last we met our fearless apprentice candidates, Tarek had almost gotten his rear kicked from the competition for using the phrase "member of Mensa" too many times. However, proving that even the cognitively impaired can learn, Tarek recognizes that he owes Summer? (hey, it's been a week) for saving him with her a word-too-many-car-wreck. Tarek cannot resist the clever turn of phrase however and assures us that he understands that "second place is first in a long line of losers". Right. Gotta remember that.

Assisting Trump today we meet his daughter Ivanka for the first time. She's wearing the ultimate women's business suit--feminine but serious. Bill Rancic is sitting in for George on this task. I have a momentarily loss of attention as I wonder if Bill has hit on Ivanka or if he considers himself too old for her. How old is she? Mid-twenties? In looks, Ivanka is an almost eerie combination of her mother's and father's features. You can actually see the paternal stamp on her face, and yet, it looks good on her.

The task today is a marketing strategy for Gillette Fusion razors. Thus, the title "The Razor's Edge". Boy, these producers don't want to let any opportunity for product placement go by, do they? Trump explaining that he doesn't "understand" text messaging--then explains text messaging to the assembled apprenti--as Randal would say. Hmm. He doesn't know what it is--yet he explains it. Riiight. The market task is to convince the most people to text message a key word to some number somewhere. It is never explained what the point of these text messages is--I mean, are you going to be receiving a message about the razor in reply? Are you entered in a drawing? How is this marketing, exactly? Seems to me product demonstration like the Tide Pen would be way more effective--whatever. I'm just watching the show.

Pepi is named project manager for Synergy. They begin well, discussing the demographic of people who really use text messaging. If I was in the room my hand would have been up in the air--teenagers and people with little fingers! Unfortunately, the good beginning is bogged down in Brent trying to throw out ideas and Stacy ignoring and interrupting him. This culminates in Brent telling Stacy, "Stop doing that! Or I'll confront you in front of everyone instead of in the hallway where you can report the event to the others giving it a threatening vibe." Stacy runs to tell the team, "We've got to fire Brent. He shook his finger at me. He stood close to me. He told me to stop interrupting him. He threatened me. I felt threatened." Ay-yi-yih. Brent, the pillsbury dough boy threatening? Come on...what a cop-out. Meanwhile, time's a-wasting and nobody's getting any planning done. On the way back to the apartment Michael suggests wearing bathrobes the next day and everyone is so exhausted from fighting all day that they don't even wimper a disagreement.

Our Trumpism for the show is "You can't judge a book by its cover." I usually fast-forward through the Trump parts and now I remember why. Heck, if he hadn't shared that priceless bit of wisdom, no telling how long people would be going around judges books by covers. The fact that he's married three very beautiful women (each younger than the last, I believe) and is walking around with a comb-over that is an architectural masterpiece should not make us cynical about his actual adherance to this noble philosphy.

Gold Rush has inexpicably named Lee the project manager. Someone forgot to tell Lenny about it though. He runs out of the team meeting hijacking Charmaine and Leslie because he is frustrated that the team is voting on what key word to use. He thinks they could just use the letter a. They need to start getting text messages sent. That whole brand name connection's not important, after all. Lenny, Charmaine and Leslie end up in Times Square in the dark calling Lee to meet them because their phone is about to go dead. Has the task started? Do these text messages count?

The next morning Gold Rush leaves for the TKTS line in Times Square at 6:30 am. They stake out their positions and go to work. We don't really see them again. They must be going to win.

Synergy is awoken ever so gently by Roxanne who heard the other team leaving. Do the Synergy teammates leap out of bed like those who have over-slept? Heck, no. They have breakfast--they bathe--they must hang out because they don't show up at Times Square until 11:30 am. Clearly they are operating under a post-fight hangover. After a time, Synergy begins to get a clue that they might lose the task. This inspires Brent to act like someone who has escaped from an insane asylum. Now me, I would have slunk away from Brent and pretended not to know him. Our Synergy team are loyal, especially for people who wanted to fire Brent yesterday because they stand around in a circle watching him. No one is cringing. No one. How can this be? Are they so mentally befuddled that they imagine Brent is a good dancer? That his strategy of acting like an imbecile will translate into a win? I ponder the mystery here.

Back at Trump Tower we learn that Gold Rush made 683 text messages while Synergy made only 458. Trump refers to this repeatedly as being a 50% win margin or half again as much. Now, I'm no Math whiz (which is a huge understatement) but I calculate the difference between the two teams at 225 messages. Synergy comparatively made 67% of Gold Rush's volume. Unless my Math is very poor. Which it might be.

In planning for the board room Synergy is 100% committed to the "Brent is crazy and we can't work with him so he should go" strategy. They discuss Brent's aggressiveness and abnormality. They ponder the mystery that is Brent, however, they do not solve him. They prep Stacy to tell her he "threatened" me story. Stacy, however, has lost whatever adrenaline high caused her to use such language. She does not now remember saying threatened. She did not feel threatened. She just didn't like Brent yelling at her. She was uncomfortable. Her teammates feel betrayed by this revision of history.

Brent, meanwhile, knows that the team is out to get him but he's not worried because "I'm smarter than them." Yes, if only saying it, could make it so, I'd be a billionaire. Brent then asserts, "Brent is not going home this evening, that's for sure." Now, usually that's pretty much a guarantee that Brent's going home. I'm creeped out by Brent's calling himself by his own name. Is that abnormal? Maybe I should email the team to find out what they think.

In the boardroom Trump calls this a "disastrous team" and says he's going to fire TWO. Woooo. Two--he's never done that before. Unless you count all the other times he's fired two..or maybe that time he fired FOUR. But other than that...

So here's the breakdown--

Michael is a doofus; he suggested the lame bathrobes. I don't hold this against him--heck, he had been in a day long argument about Brent. That's gotta melt your brain.

Stacy is a doofus; she picked the horrible, bad site AND she made the fatal mistake of saying that Brent threatened her when Michael sold her out by mentioning it.

Pepi is a doofus; he was a weak leader. In fact, when asked by Ivanka to explain how he had guided the team and led them in a general focused direction, Pepi could not answer the question. At least I don't think he answered the question. You may disagree. Here's what he said in response, "My leadership style has always been consistent. I am a a manager. I have been in the past." Well okay then.

In the end Trump fired Stacy and Pepi and had scathing words for Brent and Michael. Michael gets another chance. Brent is a disaster who won't last long. Brent did last long enough to smirk at Stacy and Pepi from the elevator as he went back to the apartment however. Sometimes you have to take your moment when you can. In Brent-world, that smirk is probably the equivalent of being named Trump's apprentice for normal people.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Illinois defeats Michigan State

Illinois closed out its regular season today with a win at Michigan State. Dee Brown just loooves to play Michigan State and he was the key to the road victory. Now it's time for fingers to cross hoping that Purdue can surprise Ohio State tomorrow so that we can share a Big Ten co-championship with Ohio State and Iowa. Purdue's record is 3-12 so it's a long shot but hey--it could happen. I'm hearing rumblings that Illinois may be as high as a two seed in the NCAA tournament but we've heard that before and ended up a four seed so I'm not getting my hopes up. Illinois and Duke are the only teams to have twenty-five or more wins for the past five years so we've definitely got consistency on our side but as any Illini fan will tell you--we don't ever feel we get the respect we deserve. It's part of the Illini psyche to feel disrespected, it pays off mostly, because then our will to win is that much greater. ILL-INI!

Devil in Winter

When last I wrote about Lisa Kleypas' Wallflower series I was "reviewing" It Happened One Autumn which was Lillian's story. The ending of that story left me impatiently wanting more, for which I didn't have to wait too long, fortunately. The Devil in Winter begins with the villainous villain Viscount St. Vincent, who had kidnapped Lillian, being propositioned by the third wallflower Evangeline Jenner. Evie sees Sebastian as her way out of a life of powerlessness and abuse, she suggests that they pool their resources. His protection and his hand in marriage in exchange for her fortune. Sebastian is pretty desperate for money so he doesn't hesitate to shake on the deal. Is this hero material? I wondered when I read the exerpt how Lisa Kleypas would managed to redeem this character who was presented as an unprincipled and selfish bum. Pairing him up with a shy, freckled red-head with a stutter whose been mistreated by her family seemed like a tough sell. Having just finished The Devil in Winter I can say that Kleypas managed to bring all the diverse elements together very well. This was a wonderful book--not it a wild and exciting plotline with bigger than life events--but in a tender book where two people spend an intense amount of time together and begin to love each other plotline kind of way. In the whole of the book, our hero and heroine never attend a party or go out shopping or drive in the park or anything like what is typically seen in an historical romance set in London. In fact, other than the time they spend on the road to Gretna Green, the whole book takes place inside Evie's father's home/business. I've read many books where at the end you realise the books entire plot took place in a week or something and the hero and heroine didn't spend any time together. Not so here, the story lasts for weeks and the characters are spend huge amounts of time together learning about each other slowly. In the end, the hero is redeemed by two things; the love of a good woman, and having a purpose in life. I think love and relationships, along with having a purpose-- either through work or interests, are what brings happiness and Kleypas must think that too. I loved this book and look forward to the next and last book in the wallflower series when Daisy will finally get what all the others have found--true love.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

American Idol

I've wanted to blog American Idol for a while, but I just haven't had the time to do it justice and Ann Althouse does a great job. So I'm not going to recap but I'm just going to throw out a few thoughts.

First yea! Brenna goes home. I did not like her voice or her attitude and behavior. Her version of Last Dance was nowhere up to par with Donna Summer. Heather also deserved to go home. You just don't sing a Mariah Carey hit unless you can out-Mariah Mariah and she didn't even come close. I'd also say that that suggestion applies to anything Celine Dion and Whitney Houston have done as well. Take heed, Idolettes. Song choice matters. Having knocked Heather's song choice, my sister and I both agreed that she sang the song for her farewell better than on Tuesday night which just shows to go you that you should always sing like you've got nothing to lose. Timidity and fear don't help sell a song and don't help the audience connect with you--they inhibit all that good stuff.

On the boy side, David-Mr. Sinatra sing-alike was way past his sell by date so no tears with his exit. Meanwhile, Sway did not deserve to go while that nerdy-wierd hair cut-has he gone through puberty yet?- Kevin is still on the show. Apparently, eleven year old girls are controlling the exit results, which is disturbing.

Carrie Underwood was so good it's hard to believe she started out on Idol. I loved how still she was and her command and presence of the stage. I hope the Idolettes were noticing how she put her energy into the song and to singing it well, rather than gyrating so she seemed exciting. Dancing and singing aren't something most people can do well at the same time. Why do you think so many dancing/singers lip-sync? I refer you to Janet Jackson, Madonna, and Britney Spears, as examples. Sure their voices are second-class to begin with, but they don't get any better when they haven't got the breath to support their vocal tones. That's what a loud "back-up track" is supposed to cover up. Excessive instrumentation and really loud backup singers help cover the problem too.

Next--what's with the bike shorts that Paris was wearing? Wonder if the Fug girls will mention her outfit? Also, are culottes back in style? Because I've noticed them showing up on many episodes so far. I think I missed that style memo.

Finally, what was with Paula's bizarro behavior? I pondered that she had been imbibing she acted so silly when called upon to comment.


Tonight's Survivor started with Sally at La Mina feeling good about herself because the four man alliance decided to keep her with the tribe rather than the physically decrepit Ruth Marie. Her days are still numbered, of course, but she's happy to suffer a little longer. At Casaya, Bruce begins to create his Zen rock garden while Aras, Shane and Courtney try to start a fire. For a guy who came in thinking his value was in his useful survival knowledge, Bruce seems to have forgotten his raison d'etre in the tribe. Aras calls him out on wasting time on the rock garden when the tribe is in dire need of fire. I'm not sure what Aras thought Bruce should specifically be doing except gathering wood. Bruce, meanwhile, feels disrespected and his garden dismissed as unimportant. Which, hello, it IS in the survival sense; fire beats rock after all.

The reward challenge is for fish, rice and beans which tells you a lot right there. The producers must fear that this dorky bunch of survivors may be the first to actually starve to death while doing the show so they're making sure that everyone--both the winners and the losers will get something to eat after the challenge. La Mina is off to an early start but after a couple of bad throws from astronaut Dan to Sally, they fall behind and are ultimately defeated by Bobby's ability to chop the head off a very big fish in virtually one blow. (Something that took Bruce like 27 tries to do, by the way.) Terry is once more sent to Exile Island which he doesn't mind too much because the living is easy and he's smart enough to feed and hydrate himself.

Casaya brings their victor's bounty back to the a rain flooded camp. Since their camp was a half-baked concoction into which they've put little effort, it is no surprise that they now have no fire and no dry wood. Hello--storing wood in the outhouse would have been clever and worth the effort. Moving your firepit out of the low lying area would have been smart too, but this tribe doesn't put too much energy into the mechanics of survival. All their great fish ends up being eaten raw and much of it seems to end up wasted. There's a particularly appetizing shot of Shane eating a raw fish carcass like it's an ear of corn with the bones all sticking up like bristles. Good thing I didn't like fish to begin with because after seeing that I sure don't want to chow on any.

At La Mina, they cook a pot of what appears to be pinto beans. They all dig in happy to have protein at last. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have any idea how long to cook the beans. Austin and Nick end up with some rather distressing ill-effects of the meal. I don't know if they just ate more than the others or if their systems are more delicate than the others. Nick's quote about the situation is one of the funniest I've heard. He tells the camera that the, "gastro-intestinal details probably should not be discussed at this time." Thanks--I really didn't want to know too many details. Thanks also, Survivor, for not making us watch them throw up.

At Casaya, Bruce and Bobby end up sleeping in the outhouse because there was no room for them in the inn, so to speak. Bobby, in particular, is offended by this and opens the last bottle of reward wine which he shares with Bruce. The two men bond and agree not to write each other's name in a vote, since they are not part of the alliance of four. In the morning, Courtney gets snippy about the illicitly quaffed bottle of wine but Bobby is not apologetic. Bruce doesn't really get too much grief about it, though he too drank, and he does not apologize either. Bruce and Bobby don't seem to notice nuance much.

The immunity challenge involves collected skull-puzzle pieces hidden in coffins which are tied up with rope at the bottom of the sea. Casaya had earlier made a decision to sit out Danielle and Courtney in the reward challenge, when I think impacted them badly when the immunity challenge rolled around because the two women end up doing the diving with Aras for the skull puzzle pieces. This is physically demanding work, diving down while holding your breath and undoing four knots. Why aren't Shane and Bobby doing the physical part? Shane is probably clever in puzzle-solving but Bobby has always seemed more brawn than brains. As a result of poor personnel management, Casaya falls well behind and is never really a contender. Even with Austin and Nick in bad shape after their digestive distress, La Mina win the immunity idol handily.

Casaya has avoided tribal council for two immunities in a row. That's never good for a tribe, people are together too much and begin to get on each other's nerves. When they don't have the sobering experience of voting someone off they forget that they need to play nice at camp. So Casaya comes back to camp to figure out who they're voting off. Shane makes an assertive pronouncement that Bobby should go because he doesn't trust him to hang with the tribe after a merge. Aras argues for Bruce to go--he still hasn't forgiven Bruce for the zen garden instead of fire argument. Shane gives in rather ungracefully. Cerie and Courtney just go along with the decision but when Danielle finds out about it, she rejects the decision vehemently. The three women corner Shane who is stuck because he's already told Bobby that he's safe and he swore on the life of his kid. What is with swearing on people's lives in this show? I would never do that.

At tribal council, the illicit wine drinking incident is chewed over by Jeff. Bobby apologizes. Aras, who doesn't know that half the tribe is voting Bobby out in spite of his wishes, makes a point of telling everyone how Bruce did the same thing Bobby did but didn't get any grief for it. Presumably Aras wants to provide rationale for the outcome he anticipates. So Bruce votes for Courtney. (She did yoga in his zen garden, how rude!) Aras and Bobby vote for Bruce. (They're sticking to the "plan".) Cerie, Danielle, and Courtney vote for Bobby. (Good alliance there, you go girls.) and Shane votes for Aras. (A throw away vote because hey--he swore on the life of his kid and that means something to him.) So Bobby goes home. Surprise Aras! Nice move to keep it interesting.

Meanwhile, Terry's my favorite player--he reminds me of Tom the fireman.

Project Runway Finale Part One

To the unblogging person it may seem easy to sit down at the computer and just dump all your thoughts on whatever into print. It's actually a bit trickier than that. For starters, taking notes helps the process alot if you are blogging a tv show. Annoyingly, taking notes also rather ruins the moment at the same time. I didn't take notes on Wednesday's show and we'll see if I regret it.

Tim visited all the finalists at their home turf. We see Santino in his big rented house in some place in California--wasn't it around Venice Beach or something? We get a very sympathetic portrayal of all Santino's hardships. This doesn't make me like him, but maybe I don't dislike him so much now that I've seen a little toddler crawling all over him. His collection is eight weeks out and has only one finished garment but he does have a bunch of sketches and a theme; 40's glamour. It's good he told us the theme, I doubt I would have guessed otherwise. The close up view of the dress was cool after only seeing runway shots. I have to confess that particular dress wasn't memorable to me, since I didn't recognize it from my review of his collection. I do like the froth of ruffles and the pleating but that fabric of muddy brown and green and pink or whatever the combination is--seems like a poor choice.

Visiting Daniel in New York we see his white and black brocade jacket. I love that jacket. It's sleek and the cut is chic, but the fabric just takes it to a whole 'nother level for me. I can't remember now if Daniel was playing around with the white coat--maybe it was missing buttons? His Japanese/Military them is also a bit obscure to me. I loved that Daniel and Tim go shopping for his jacket for the show. Daniel could wear a sack and look good, of course, and I love his new haircut.

At Chloe's I am stunned to discover that five weeks out she has only one finished dress and no sketches or theme. Now I'm wondering if that is a reality show invention to build suspense? How could Chloe have wasted all that time and have nothing but some bolts of fabric and one dress to show for it? I ponder as I watch, does all the family lives in this humungous house in Houston? Surely not. I do like the fabric choice in Chloe's green dress and the view of the skirt with it's puffy whatever's is the best I've had yet. I thought it was pleated from the runway shots.

When all the finalists gather in New York--I expected them to have completed collections. The fact that there was still some sewing and buttons etc to be finished surprised me. As Tim goes through each collection I am also surprised by the whole not nice to Daniel deal. I don't think Daniel's whole collection is great. He has some great pieces. I was underwhelmed by a few like the black shirtwaist dress--le plus ult in boring, imo. But what's the edit trying to do? Is it foreshadowing a surprise Daniel loss? Or a fabrication to build suspense since most people think Daniel will win? Why they can't just trust that we'll watch the show without the editing shenanigans I do not understand.

When they throw the extra design at the finalists I felt a little stupid for not realizing it had to be coming. I know they show 13 designs and several times they talkrd about the 12 designs they were working on so --duh. Anyway--poor Chloe that hit her pretty hard. She must have been wiped. Makes me think maybe she should have worked harder earlier on, instead of waiting until five weeks before the freaking show to design 11 of her items. That said, Santino is not in much better shape. I'm wondering whether Andrae ends up designing the dress for him since he was so out of it at Mood. I felt bad for Chloe having to pick her assistant last, but I would love love love to know her rationale. Is Diana the best seamstress of the bunch left standing? I figure she's probably still peeved at Kara for saying she didn't deserve to go to the finals, also Kara had a decoy show to do which presumeably the finalists knew so maybe those two factors are the reason why she didn't pick Kara. Why did Emmett look so distraught? Is it because he and Chloe are really good friends so he thought she'd pick him? Somehow reality shows always leave me wanting to know more--there's just not enough behind the scenes info coming out.

So who will win? Chloe? Santino? Daniel? I will be unhappy if Santino wins but I'm good with either Chloe or Daniel. I just hope that they base their decision on the collections that are shown because my understanding is that's the key factor. We'll see.

Borders Run

Tuesday we hit Borders for the new books due out. The big push behind the trip was the desire to get Laurell K. Hamilton's new novella "Micah" asap. We bought two, in fact, so neither of us has to wait to read it. We'll send the extra to my sister in Indiana. We managed to fill our arms with other books though. They breed in arms, apparently. Borders could stand to provide little baskets for those of us who buy in bulk. Here's the list: Loretta Chase-Lord Perfect, Lisa Kleypas-Devil in Winter, Leanne Banks-Underfoot, Jo Beverley-The Rogue's Return, Christine Rimmer-The Bravo Family Way, Miranda Lee-The Billionaire Boss's Forbidden Mistress, Trish Morey-The Mancini Marriage Bargain, Lucy Monroe-Wedding Vow of Revenge, Lynne Graham-The Greek's Chosen Wife and the anthology of The Queen in Winter which has a novella by Sharon Shinn.

I've been looking forward to the Kleypas because the hero is the very villainous villain from It Happened One Autumn. I can't wait to see how Kleypas redeems a nearly unredeemable man.
I gather the Jo Beverley is one of the Company of Rogues' series. And Lord Perfect is the third of Chase's new historical series.