Saturday, July 29, 2006

Design Star Recap

I have now watched the first episode of Design Star, the new reality show on HGTV, twice. The second time was even better than the first. Ten designers of varying backgrounds are competing for their own design show on HGTV. As you can imagine, this would be a HUGE career move for the winner. Clive, the English guy, from Designed to Sell is the host. Vern Yip, from Trading Spaces is one of the judges. I don't know if the judges panel will be the same each show or not. Cynthia Rowley and the executive editor of In Style magazine were also judges for episode one. Those are pretty impressive judges for a new show. The show definitely has a Project Runway feel--I'm sure if I wasn't so lazy and I looked into the production company I would find some connection to PR. At the judging, for example, Clive called out a set of five designers whose designs had been judged good enough to continue. The next set represented the "best and the worst" of the designers. That's dialogue straight from PR.

The first task the ten designers had was to use $7500.00 to decorate the NY townhouse that they are staying in for the duration. They could work individually or in teams. The designers were given 24 hours to complete the task. This time frame did not include sleep time, so the work proceeded for two days and one partial day.

The designers wasted FOUR hours right from the get-go with a lot of talk that went absolutely nowhere. Donna--an older lady (mid-40's) who is a designer/flight attendant volunteered to handle the money. She made no attempt to organize a plan for how to spend the money, nor was there any evidence of a group discussion about funds allocations. That seems like Designer 101. Some of these people are professionals with their own design businesses. Shouldn't they know about budgeting? Does one allocate identical money for all rooms? Rooms with different purposes require different funding, don't they? People came up to Donna and asked for money and she gave them what they asked for. I think that was asking for trouble. Eventually, the designers broke into teams to cover the four spaces: the parlor/entry hall/no purpose room, the patio, the bedrooms, and the family room.

Team Parlor/Entry Hall/No Purpose Room consisted of Donna and Teman. This narrow odd shaped room was a difficult job to handle. It did have some lovely architectural features, for example, the staircase and some pillars. It was located directly in front of the family room, and one could see from this room into the family room. During day one work time, Donna and Teman took off with the bulk of the cash to purchase furniture for their room. They left the Patio team high and dry for the entire first day because Donna gave them no money before she and Teman left the house. Meanwhile, Donna and Teman bought whatever they wanted while shopping. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them to go for used furniture. They discussed that they were spending a lot of money and they would probably have to defend it, even as they spent the money. Their room ended up eating $2400 dollars. On what? Well, they bragged about the large leather couch they purchased for $500. There were two tables. A wicker dining chair...lots of crap....I believe the room was known as tchotchkeville to the judges. They covered the staircase with a huge swathe of iridescence teal fabric for some unknown reason. I can't figure out where they spent that much money since the room was largely empty when they finished.

Team Patio consisted of Tym and Joseph. Tym and Joseph covered the chain link fence with light colored wood boards and painted the termination wall, which they build, chartreuse. They spent $1300 dollars on the supplies, mostly wood. They also built two benches and they created a wonderful, warm space at the back of the townhouse. Ramona, inserting herself onto their team without invitation, threw some crap around and did her best to ruin their efforts. Ramona is a self-described 'trash picker artist'. She uses discarded items to create works of art. At least, that's what she CLAIMS. As an example of her talent, she found a discarded upright vacuum on the street. She hauled it to the townhouse and covered it in plaster of paris mix. Thus, it looked like a very white vacuum. She wrote the word DESIGN now the front of the canister. She tried to put her "art" in the family room but that team wasn't having it. Tym and Joseph, apparently, were too wimpy to tell her to kick that piece of junk to the curb and let her put it in the corner of their lovely patio space. Now I don't want to be all nasty about Ramona...but sheesh..a vacuum covered in goo that turns it white ain't art. If she had sculpted the vacuum from stone..or built it with papier mache...anything that required her skills as an artist, I would have respected it more. I still would have thought it was stupid, but I would have respected the talent it took to create it. With this thrown away vacuum, however, all she did was cover it with gunk. A class of kindergarteners could have done that and enjoyed the process greatly. I repeat, that ain't art.

Team Bedrooms consisted of Vanessa, Teran, and David. (If Teran's name sounds familiar, it is not your imagination. Two of the designers are twins, thus, Teman and Teran.) Vanessa took charge of team bedroom right away. While out on her shopping expedition, she spotted an orange and brown pillow with a big daisy on the front. That makes it sound cheesy, but the pillow was very modern and graphic. She was immediately inspired to use the pillow as the inspiration fpr the room designs. From the edit, I can't tell if she actually bought everything and changed the design plan right then or not. She did take a picture of the pillow back to the team and discuss it with them. The team was totally on board with her idea. It is possible she got their okay and then purchased all the bedding. The color scheme for bedroom One was orange and chocolate brown; and the second bedroom was chartreuse/chocolate brown. They used the flower design as an accent in one room, and geometric designs in the second. These rooms were the most pulled together of the house. The budget for the two rooms was $1900.00--really $800 per room. Admittedly, they didn't have to buy any furniture because they had the mattresses and bed bases. They needed bedding for ten beds, as well as, paint and whatever they used to build the headboards though.

Team Family Room consisted of Temple, Alice, and Ramona. They decided right away to get the most bang for their buck by using thrift store purchases. Temple and Alice worked on the room--buying everything and distressing the armoire, painting, etc. while Ramona concerned herself with collecting trash off the street. Ramona had volunteered to paint a mural on the long wall in the room. The group agreed to let her, but only if she gave them a sketch to approve beforehand. The budget for this room was #1900.00 also. For their money, they bought paint, a couch, six chairs, a coffee table, an armoire and a small chest, as well as, accent pieces like candles and stands and pillows etc.

You may be detecting a not so subtle theme in my recap, here--what did Ramona do to screw this room up? She gave the designers (all ten) a choice of two designs. Sketch one was a reclining woman in scanty garments--wearing a sash which said Miss Utah. Funnily, Temple was a Miss Utah in a pageant. (The Miss USA one, I think.) The second sketch was just abstract swirls. The vote was unanimous for sketch two. Temple did not want to be on the wall, and none of the other designers wanted her to be on there either. Guess which one Ramona painted? It was incredibly insulting. She painted her in thigh high hose and high heels. I'm not sure she had a top on other than the sash saying Miss Utah. Admittedly, the mural was abstract--but still--I can only assume Ramona was acting out of passive aggressiveness.


In the judging--Donna came under fire for her incredibly poor money management. Totally deserved, imo. The Parlor was also, as I previously mentioned, referred to as tchotchkeville. That was not a compliment. I'd post a picture of this huge empty weird space but the DS webpage won't let me copy one. I recommend seeing it for yourself. The teal iridescence fabric is not to be missed. It's also amusing that their design concept for the room was supposed to be "fun". Where's the fun?

Patio team got lots of compliments right up until the discussion centered on plaster of paris vacuum. Tym and Joseph got a bit of heat for not telling Ramona to take a hike--which they deserved--they should never have let her ruin their zen space with crap. When Vern Yip dared to suggest to Ramona that a vacuum "sculpture" was not a good choice, she got snippy and said that such a choice was "personal". She was utterly unwilling to recognize that the piece was crap.

Family Room team did a respectable job and while the judges weren't overwhelmingly in love with the room--it didn't totally suck either--until they got to the discussion of the mural of Miss Utah. Ramona claimed that the group voted for that mural. WHAT??? If I had been Temple, I would have been all over that girl for painting that stupid, slutty picture of me. Temple, meanwhile, said nothing. I'm thinking in future episodes maybe people will defend themselves more vigorously. I sense that the designers are trying to take the highroad--which is commendable--but the end result of that was Miss Utah splashed across a wall in the NY townhouse in thigh highs.

The bedroom team got all the compliments of the judges. Vanessa, meanwhile, pretty much took ALL the credit. That girl needs to learn to shut her mouth. I can see where it could get her in trouble in the future. Yes, she was the driving force behind the design. But the process was collaborative. Part of what made the room great was the artwork which David created. Vanessa made a comment "I was lucky because David is an artist." Chick--use the word WE, it always looks better to share the credit. I think Vanessa's aggressive credit-taking may impact her relationships with the other designers if it persists.

So the winner of the episode--Vanessa. The loser? It came down to Donna or Ramona. I thought Donna's money management was a huge black mark against her and her design style is plebian and uninspired. Ramona, however, was just a disaster of trash art, so she went. She left, unbowed, convinced that only she knew real art.

I can't wait to see what happens next.

Reality Show Addiction

I don't think of myself as a person without personal resources. I'm a pretty smart chick. I read. I meditate on thoughts of a higher nature. I have a career that combines concern for others with technical expertise and I'm doing pretty well at it, thanks very much. I have many fine and positive qualities, yet I am apparently addicted to reality television. What does this say about me as a person? How do I explain this disconnect? Doesn't the watching of reality television have a whiff of the trailer court about it--at least according to the mainstream media?

In spite of the taint, I love Survivor, Amazing Race, and American Idol. I actually watch Big Brother. (I am slightly ashamed of the last, it is just people stuck in a house together--no talent or skill involved.) In my younger years I even watched The Real World and Road Rules. (shudder) Although I try and try to limit my reality television viewing somehow new shows sneak into the line up. New shows like: Project Runway, Top Chef, Who wants to be a Food Network Star, Who wants to be a Superhero, and Design Star end up in my Tivo series record. The best I can say for myself is that at least America's Top Model, the dancing shows, and those shows with show-mances that foisted Trista and Ryan on the American viewing public have never made it onto my tv screen. Apparently I have some standards. Whew.

For those who don't watch reality television--here's my explanation of the attraction. In the smart and well-done ones (see list above) people are put into situations that bring out their best and worst sides. Under pressure and expected to navigate toward a goal using all their skills, they show us what works and doesn't work in relationships. I enjoy predicting whether their strategies will succeed or fail. I enjoy hashing over the events of the shows with my family and friends. I learn about human nature and I learn about myself while watching reality television. The infinite variety of situations and outcomes make the shows addicting. You can try to guess what will happen, you can shout at the tv to try to advise the participants, but ultimately--what happens, happens and mostly it is real life playing out.

Am I getting the WHOLE picture--heck, no--there is editing involved after all. Is it possible the producers manipulate the situations and the outcomes? Sure, I'm a cynic. I expect them to try to get the most bang for their buck. Whatever it is they are doing, however, they should keep on doing it because it works for me.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Everyday since my sister and brother in law have arrived, we have "planned" to visit Washington DC. Ron was very interested in seeing the Lewis & Clark exhibition at the Smithsonian and Jeri wanted to walk to the White House. Unfortunately, every day some new reason seemed to crop up which meant we didn't go. We did Gettysburg, then Fairfax, then rested, then Antietam. Mainly though, Judy and I procrastinated the DC part because we consider it 'work' to haul into DC and catch the Metro. We also have all kinds of rules about not going until after rush hour is over in the morning and leaving before rush hour starts in the afternoon. These rules, not surprisingly, limit our time in the capitol. (I told you--we're LAZY. I wasn't kidding.)

Since Ron and Jeri are leaving tomorrow, today was now or never to visit DC. We finally managed to get into the car sometime after 9:30 this morning (a bit of a late start) and headed down I-695. Judy, who always drives, briefly debated betweent I-95 and the Balto-Washington Parkway. She went for the parkway. We had intended to park at New Carrollton Metro center and ride in. Unfortunately things went awry when Judy took the exit for I-495 North. Oops. It's not so easy to fix such a mistake--but hey, let's make lemonade. I've been wanting to try driving to Arlington National Cemetery and parking there before taking the Metro into the Smithsonian stop. I also wanted to visit the Cemetery too, so it all seem serendipitous.

We continue our drive on I-495N...veer off onto the George Washington Parkway, eh voila! We are at Arlington National Cemetery. They have plenty of parking and it is very reasonably priced. Hmm, maybe I shouldn't share that--I don't want too many people to know the trick.

We took the short tourmobile tour of the Cemetery. We stopped at the Tomb of the Unknown and watched the changing of the guard. Very moving and worth standing in the hot sun. If those guards can do, I can do it! Ron really wanted to tour Arlington House, but it was already after 1:00, so we discouraged him and popped onto the Metro to hit the Mall.

The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

First stop, the American History Museum. Did you know that it is closing for two years of renovations?? Last day to see the current exhibits is September 4th. The First Ladies exhibit has already closed as they prepare for construction. We had a pleasant lunch (expensive, I should note) and then went looking for Lewis & Clark. Turns out Lewis & Clark are at the Natural History Museum. (Hello--Andrea that was totally your misinformation!) Judy stayed at the American History Museum to tour the polio exhibit. She read a book about the development of the vaccine and she's really into it. Jeri headed off into the blazing heat of late July in Washington to see the White House, sans hat or sunglasses while wearing a polyester top. (Warned her, she didn't listen.) Ron and I walked to the Natural History Museum to see Lewis & Clark. Well, Ron saw it. I sat on the bench and 'rested'. Lest, dear reader, you think me a cretin for missing the opportunity to see the exhibit. The museum below the St. Louis Arch is dedicated to the Lewis & Clark expedition and I've seen that TWICE. I did walk through when I finally wondered what had happened to Ron and looked at the displays briefly. It was very nice. I took a picture (no flash!) of a buffalo robe.

All four of our party reconnected shortly thereafter to make our way to the Metro and head for home. We were all HOT and TIRED and ready to be done. Jeri even admitted that she thought she was all walked out. I didn't think she could be all walked out so that was kind of a surprise. It was well into rush hour by now and Judy is a bit intense about it so we tried to walk as quickly as we could. Once on the highway, we discovered to our delight that WE were allowed to drive in the HOV lane (High Occupancy Vehicle) for people with more than two people in the car. Yea. We zoomed along with great delight. A more immature person might have made faces at all the single person cars we passed, but I restrained myself and just grinned manically.

We avoided the worst of the traffic by shooting up I-270? it's the road toward Gaithersburg and then bopping off on to highway 27 to 26 and home. Highway 27 was a bit congested and it is a two lane road, but by 26 the traffic was all going in the opposite direction of us, so we'll use that route again. We celebrated our safe arrival home and Ron's birthday, by dinner at Red Lobster. So a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


After a day of rest on Monday (I admit it, I'm lazy), we headed for Sharpsburg, Maryland today to see the Antietam Battlefield. The great thing about the National Park Civil War Battlefields is that you can usually purchase or rent auto tour kits in their excellent Visitor's Centers. With an auto tour, you play a CD which describes what you are seeing and gives interesting tidbits of anecdotes while you make the circuit of the battlefield. Today was hot and mostly sunny--I got a sunburn from climbing in and out of my car to take photos. Some of the paths to sites are steep, particularly, down to Burnside Bridge so it's a workout. Antietam is a bit unusual, I believe, because a fair amount of the battlefield is still in private ownership. I can't imagine what it must be like to make your home beside such an historic site, watching thousands of visitors stream by on their car tours.

Antietam, for those who don't know, had the highest casualty rate of any single day of battle in the civil war. There were three main sites to the battle; a cornfield, a sunken road which became known as "The Bloody Lane", and a bridge across Antietam Creek which was thereafter known as "Burnside Bridge". A frustrating thing which I learned about the battle was that the Union forces out-numbered the Confederates by 2 to 1 and Lee's army was trapped between the Union army and the Potomac River. If General George McClellan had pressed the battle, the Civil War might have ended three years earlier, saving countless lives. Oh for a do-over! McClellan was timid, as history now recognizes, and we can't have a do-over. 30,000 of his men were never even committed to the battle. He boasted of it as a great victory, but Lee's army was able to slip away across the Potomac and into Virginia. They survived to fight again and again for three more long years.

The Cornfield

Bloody Lane

Burnside Bridge on Antietam Creek

Fairfax Virginia You say?

Are you wondering what there is to see in Fairfax, Virginia? So were we. Then Ron apprised us of his greatest dream. So on Sunday the ladies of my party graciously allowed the lone male of the party to visit his version of nirvana.

While we shopped at a nearby mall (our version of nirvana), Ron spent three hours here:

He was very, very, very, very, very, very, very happy.

Sharpshooter Ed McGivern's guns are on display at the National Firearms Museum. In an odd coincidence, I had just watched a special about sharpshooters on the History channel. Ed McGivern was featured in it.

An original shooting gallery from Coney Island. I would have liked to have tried to skills, but while it moves and plays music--it's not available for target practice.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Little Round Top Vultures

Today, it is difficult to imagine the carnage that was seen in this part of the battlefield. After all, children clamor over the rocks, jumping from boulder to boulder like mountain goats. Tourists with cameras and bermuda shorts strain to get up the steepish paths. While we were observing the views and reading all the plaques and monuments, my brother in law Ron and I observed two buzzards or vultures perched on a dead tree just beyond the rocks. We strolled closer and closer (carefully on the rocks) to get a better view of the birds. For the benefit of you, dear reader, I risked falling on the uneven rocks. I am very uncoordinated but worst of all--I acquired a TICK on my actual person. Fortunately, Ron was close at hand and removed the little critter with ease--unless you count the difficulty of dealing with my hysteria.
Here is Ron posed before the dead tree, with the little specks of black that are the birds behind him.

They readjust themselves, junior is hungry. I curse the limitations of the zoom on my camera. One cannot properly see the detail of the birds. They are very fluffy.
The mother regurgitates a snack to feed junior, although he looks big enough to fend for himself.Looking toward Cemetery Ridge and Cemetery Hill we see the birds perched on their dead tree (so fitting given the type of birds that they are) beside the monument to the Zoave clad soldiers. Such birds would, sadly, have been present when the battle originally took place, is our grim thought as we turn to leave.

Here is the Zoave statute from the front. Such cool uniforms! I would have been a Zoave just for the fashion statement I think.

Little Round Top

My favorite part of the battlefield at Gettysburg is Little Round Top. Looking down from the rocks the vista is stunning. Eerily, it is identical to the battlefield of 1863, so comparing battlefield photos taken by civil war photographers with my photos today is striking. The picture above is the view from Little Round Top looking southwest. The triangle seen by the intersection of two roads is known as the Slaughter Pen. Just beyong the road you can see the rocks that made up Devil's Den. The field in the foreground was known the Valley of Death.

This picture is the view immediately to the right of the previous. If I lined all three of these photos up it would be a 180 degree scan of the land below Little Round Top. These view is the center, and shows the Valley of Death. A creek running through the area below became known as Bloody Creek because it ran red by the end of the battle.

The view is facing more northwest. The top of the arc of the view from Little Big Top. The statue commemorates a Union officer. He surveyed the land and figured out that the Union was in danger of being outflanked. (I think--I'm too lazy to actually look it up. If you are really interested read a book about the battle or watch Gettysburg the movie which I highly recommend.) In the distance you see Cemetery Ridge and Cemetery Hill.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Oak Hill & the Eternal Light of Peace

Here are Jeri, Judy and Ron in front of the Eternal Light of Peace Memorial located on Oak Hill.
The battle resumed in the afternoon of July 1st and Confederate Generals: Rodes, Iverson, O'Neal and Daniel attacked the Union 1 Corp. Initially, these attacks went badly for the Confederates. The Union XI Corps took up position which should have improved the Union performance but things went awry and the Union began to withdraw to Cemetery Hill.

These are some of the fields across which the Union began to

Gettysburg Continued--McPherson Ridge

This is the view from McPherson Ridge looking toward the Seminary. The spire of the Seminary is faintly visible in the center of the treeline. Remember the battle of Gettysburg took place over July 1, 2, & 3rd so the conditions the battle would have been just like these. McPherson Ridge was held by the Union commanders: Buford, Meredith, and Cutler. They defended against the Confederate advance from the west by Heth, Davis and Archer. Union 1 Corps reinforced Buford and were able to turn back the Confederate advance for the moment...

McPherson's Barn
It seems so bucolic, doesn't it?

Saturday, July 22, 2006


After picking up my sister Jeri and her husband Ron up at the airport, (no media at the BWI, unfortunately) we decided to drive to Gettysburg. Our visitors were not immensely excited about this plan being ambivalent about whether they really wanted to see the battlefield. Judy and I have been to the battlefield three times, however, and we enjoy each and every visit so we steamrolled them. We began by touring the National Cemetery. It was at the dedication ceremony for this cemetery that Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg address.

Here is the monument commemorating the Gettysburg Address. The text of the address is inscribed on the bronze plaques on either side. Abraham Lincoln's still resound so many years later:

Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate-we cannot consecrate-we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion-that we here higly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain-that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth.

There are many men and women buried within this National Cemetary, from many different wars. The headstones provide a stark commentary about the cost of war.

No sightseeing tour is complete without the obligatory posed pictures. Here is Jeri in front of a cannon (Ron could tell you what kind. I cannot. Is this a guy thing?) Ron is posed in front of the Soldier's Memorial, which is too tall for the shot.

The final picture is the memorial to Major General John Reynolds. He was the highest ranking Union officer killed in the battle. It was he who alert Meade to the confederate advance. He was killed early in the fighting while leading the Iron Brigade at McPherson Ridge.

Although Jeri and Ron weren't wildly excited to go to Gettysburg, they did enjoy themselves. Tomorrow more pictures from the battlefield. (Yes, I have a new digital camera!)

Friday, July 21, 2006

So I'm waiting...

... for a new chair that we purchased to arrive. I have a four hour window of possible delivery time--8-12. I haven't been awake before 8:00 am in some weeks. I'm feeling a bit disoriented. Anyway--back in May, my sister and I bought new living room furniture. It's all red. A red couch and two different red chairs with circles. The couch and my chair were delivered right away. We've been waiting on the second chair because we picked a different fabric. The furniture we already have POPS in my bland living room. I love it. Here's the style of my chair--the fabric isn't exactly the same as mine, but it's close. It's a recliner and I've taken some wonderful naps in it already.

Posting about my recent purchases isn't exactly where I intended my blog to go when I decided to start blogging, but as I have learned, all experiences are fodder for the blog. Considering how rarely I get comments on my blog, you might not think that I feel any pressure to blog. I do though. I know I go to my favorite blogs several times a day hoping for updates. I'm disappointed if nothing new is on offer. Maybe someone feels that way about my blog. If so, I've let them down terribly in the aftermath of my car accident. ( Sorry!) So blog topics are a constant consideration, I can't blog about television I've watched and books I've read exclusively, right?

I have company coming tomorrow. I'll be picking my sister and her husband up at BWI tomorrow morning. (That should be fun--I wonder if there will be media there, waiting for Lebanon evacuees?) I'm happy that they're coming and I'm planning to post pictures to all the touristy things we will be doing in DC/Maryland. The agenda isn't perfectly set so I don't know what all that will include. Well, I know my brother in law wants to go to the NRA museum in Fairfax, Virginia. Yikes. Who knew they even had a museum? Maybe there's a outlet mall nearby...

The chair arrived at 10:00 am. It is more orange than red like the other chair and couch but it all goes together great. The legs of the chair and ottoman are identical to the couch, which is cool considering they were mix n match from different manufacturers.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Project Runway-The Miss USA episode..

Last night's episode of PR was excellent. As an example of how far the series has come, Vera Wang was one of the judges. Wow. She was an excellent choice to judge an episode of evening gowns given her design talent and history. And she'll be judging again next week. Yea! Contrast Vera with the 'I've never heard of them" designers from season one-- we've come a long way, baby.

Meanwhile, some observations--last night's episode certainly showed that Angela is annoying. She doesn't "sketch". Apparently the fact that she doesn't sketch meant that during the 30 minute time period for sketching, it was perfectly okay for her to harass Kayne while he was trying to sketch. For a brief moment I feared that Kayne--the guy with the most experience and understanding of designing pageant-wear-- might not make the cut because Angela distracted him during that key time because she wouldn't stop trying to convince him to pick her as a partner. I was dee-lighted that Kayne picked Robert, snubbing Angela. It was a great pairing for Kayne.

Kayne won, and deservedly so. He understood that pageant-wear requires sequins and sexiness. Almost everyone made a pretty dress (although the color palates were waaay boring) but only two dresses had any glitz. Miss Universe pageant has a much higher sexiness quotient than say, Miss America. Also, Kayne took a risk on color--I always thought the "earth tones" idea was hooey. Typically, you don't see brown on the stage in a pageant as Malan now knows. The neckline was the dress' best selling point, which unfortunately you can't see very well in the picture above.

I loved the design Laura showed and was glad she was picked as a team leader. For some reason, I imagined the dress completed in a midnight blue. Just an hallucination, I guess, because the sketch was always colorless. Laura and Michael executed the dress perfectly. The dress fit the model like a glove and was glitz and glamour to the max. Unfortunately, they made it in white. Didn't Miss USA specifically say no white? Because it doesn't look good on stage?? I think they could have won if they'd just used another color.

As for the Vincent/Angela mess. I WISH we could have seen the runway talk in it's entirety. I know, that would be ridiculously long but I would have loved hearing the whole argument. In the edited version, Angela said next to nothing while Vincent made numerous remarks about what hell he had been through with Angela. Considering that Vincent kept telling people that Angela would knife him in the back in a second, it was ironic that all the really nasty stuff came out of his mouth. While Angela annoyed me in the episode, I hardly think Vincent was innocent. He wouldn't give her anything to do. He ignored her input (weak though it was) and he acted superior to her throughout the task.

As for the other teams--while most made fairly attractive dresses they didn't have any pop. Boring colors, no sparkle, not sexy--Uli, Keith and Jeffrey all created dresses that didn't emphasize Miss USAs fabulous figure. Jeffrey's reminded me of a red carpet dress and was a wrinkled mess. Keith and Uli went for layers of chiffon. They demonstrated no understanding of what a pageant-dress needs to be.

So, why did Malan go instead of Angela? I have to say that PR surprised me by aufing Malan. I thought Angela would be the one to go because Malan is such a character he makes good television. I forgot that Angela is annoying, though, see Santino effect from season 2. In the end I think it came down to this--Angela was annoying, negative and not a team player but her personality flaws didn't ruin Vincent's dress. Malan's dress was ugly and unfinished. The hem wasn't completed and there were threads hanging off the bottom. Poor construction got Zulema kicked off, too, if I remember correctly.

I didn't really believe the story Malan told about his mother dissing his early design efforts. It seem manufactured. His weeping in the end and his admission of feeling shame were heart-rending though, weren't they? I felt sorry for him and I hope this show leads to some opportunities for him.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Teva Sandals

When thinking about shoe or sandal-wear, I am interested in comfort and style. It's a sad fact that if your feet hurt because of uncomfortable shoes, generally, your misery index is pretty high. All you can think about is your feet and the pain. For my slop around shoes in the summer, for the last few years, I have wore Birkenstocks. I do like my Birkies but no one in their right mind would claim that they are attractive and they do require a break-in period. I have nice feet (if I do say so myself) and not even my feet are displayed to their best in a Birkie. That said, they are very easy to wear once broken in.

Last month while shopping in Hunt Valley at a DSW, I found my new favorite sandal made by Teva. It's a flip flip so you can just slide your feet in and go. There's no break in period because the straps are a soft fabric and your feet have a wonderful cushion to absorb the shock of walking. I love these flip flops so much that my sister and I have acquired eight pairs. Isn't internet shopping wonderful? They come in a ton of different colors combinations! Here are some examples of the styles we've purchased:

Sunday, July 16, 2006

I'm just saying...

I was browsing the internet the other day when I happened upon this article about some questions that the president of CBS faced about it's programming decisions. Specifically, the idea that viewers will turn off of serialized television shows because networks cancel the shows without wrapping up the storylines, which then alienates viewers. The president of CBS' reaction was mystification at the suggestion, which frankly mystifies me! Hello! I think that is a concern that networks should take seriously.

Let's take Invasion as an example. (I know, it wasn't a CBS show...that's not my point.) Did NBC ever explain the mystery of the show? Did they satisfy their viewers at the end of the one and only season? I don't know...I bugged out. The show was struggling and networks don't have the guts to stay with shows that struggle. I could see the writing on the wall--why would I allow myself to be left hanging? So, I do make decisions about whether or not to watch shows based on whether or not I think they are going to make it to a second season. I don't want to be betrayed as a viewer anymore.

For that matter, I'm still holding a grudge about the crappy endings of some long running shows to which I was loyal. Anybody remember how horrible the finale of Quantum Leap was? Poor Sam is still out there leaping from lifetime to lifetime. All because they wanted to leave the show open for a theatrical offering. (When did that movie ever get made? Oh yeah--never.) What about the awful finale of Roseanne when Roseanne was allowed to kill off Dan? Wow--that was a crummy way to reward viewer loyalty which hung with the show in a lousy last season. I also haven't forgotten the bizarro world that Twins Peaks decended into when it's creativity raced ahead of good story telling and it petered out with a whimper. Did we ever find out who killed Laura? Was there a girl named Laura? Who can remember. I'm just saying--networks need to be getting viewers on their side, not alienating them into cable-world.

Meanwhile, PSYCH, the new show on USA is awesome. I highly recommend it. I love Dule Hill and was thrilled to see him in a new show so quickly. But more, it's clever with wonderful characters and the dialogue is smart and witty. I still trust USA because look at their history with other shows like Monk, I'm pretty confident that I can commit to Psych.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Summer Reading

I've been reading constantly since my summer vacation began. It's what I do in the summer. A complete listing of the books I've gone through is unlikely to fall from my typing fingers since it would include dozens of books at this point. The more I blog, the less I could read, which is not a desirable outcome to me. Anyway-- I am recommending Mary Jo Putney's Guardian series; A Kiss of Fate, Stolen Magic, and A Marriage Spell. The first two are set in the Georgian period and the third is a Regency. They are "alternate" historicals. They present historical facts as they were (okay, with some slight adjustments in dates), but the books include magic as part of the universe. I read them out of order, which did not inhibit my enjoyment. I like romance and paranormal elements in a story so these books were right up my alley. Mary Jo Putney is a favorite author of mine as well, although I have gotten out of the habit of buying everything she writes as soon as it comes out. This is not a reflection on her, but rather just one of those things.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Project Runway Season 3

I just finished watching the Road to the Runway and the first episode of Project Runway Season 3. Ahhh, now I remember why I enjoyed season 2 so much!. PR is the best reality television on television. This season's cast looks like a very diverse group, well represented with rural and urban types, experienced and inexperienced designers. Happily, some divas and some more normal types as well. Now that the template of the show is familiar to me, I didn't find it difficult to predict who would go home today. Girl who went home doesn't stand out in my memory, obviously, since I can't remember her name. She couldn't effectively use an industrial sewing machine so I'm perfectly happy to not have to watch her struggle to construct garments by hand because of her lack of practical experience. It seems that Jeffrey is the new Santino--big vision, needs lots of talk to explain his design, not attractive to look at (I mean his dress although his little head and big neck with the tattoos is rather different), deconstructed with wierd elements (hem higher in the back? I thought that just meant your butt was too big for your clothes), well you get my drift. Is he a better Santino? That's why I'll be tuning in next week.

Here's Jeffrey's "vision":

My prediction for episode winner was wrong--I thought it would be Michael with his dress made of coffee filters. He made a cute dress and was extremely creative with his materials.

This is what Michael made:

Three designers that I think showed talent and originality and I predict will go far: Angela, Laura, and Kayne.