Thursday, September 28, 2006

Amazing Race: Can Horses Smell Fear?

Our show begins with the racers heading out after their pit stop at the Great Wall of China. Tyler & James—the first team in, get to leave at 9:04 pm….the last team out-- David & Mary leave at 10:29 pm. I experience brief confusion when the graphic on the tv says that Erwin & Godwin are leaving at 7:02 pm. Judy and I conclude that somebody didn’t proofread their work since everyone after them left at 10 something. The front and the back of the pack are an hour and a half apart. All teams are heading to Outer Mongolia by bus and train. They must travel 960 miles. Phew. At least for us, the trip will go quickly.

The teams race to the next clue in order to reserve spots on one of two buses. The first bus leaves at 12:00 am, while the second bus leaves at 2:00 am. The first five teams make the first bus, while the last five teams end up on the second bus. No one manages to jump the line. Considering how closely packed the middle teams are, that’s a bit of a surprise. At Erenhot, China the teams switch from bus to train. Unfortunately, the train leaves at 4:00 pm so all teams are now caught up. The advantage that the first bus teams thought that they had, evaporated quickly to their chagrin. I don’t know why they are always surprised by this telescoping of the teams, but they always are.

The teams travel by train across the Mongolian desert. Since I was unaware that there was a Mongolian desert I have learned something new. Day not wasted. They are heading to a “city” with too many vowels, Ulaanbaatar. I’d like to see that show up on Wheel of Fortune. Nothing of note happened on the buses or trains since we see virtually no footage of their travel except some exterior shots of the desert.

Once at Ulaanbaatar, teams must make their way to a Shojin Llama Temple. Dang, why can’t they put the name of that place in a graphic? I have no idea if I’ve spelled that anything close to correctly. Kellie & Jamie, Tom & Jerry, and Rob & Kimberly make it to the temple first. They must now travel to Terelj—43 miles away-- to a riverbed where they will ride horses to a meadow. Teams drive themselves in an SUV type vehicle. Teams race in and out and promptly run into major problems with directions and bad luck with vehicles. Tyler & James got a flat tire and had a broken jack so they had to call for a replacement vehicle. Kellie & James stalled out their car. David & Mary got stuck in the mud and needed a replacement vehicle. Erwin & Godwin broke down and were helped by a good Samaritan.

Arriving at the clue site--the teams experience their second Detour: Tear it Down or Fill it Up. Teams have the choice of tearing down a traditional nomadic shelter and folding it up and putting it onto a camel OR leading a cart with an ox down to the river where they fill up four milk cans and bring them back to fill up a fur covered container/barrel.

Peter & Sarah elect to tear it down. Peter is a bossy Bess. I disliked him even more this week. The guy yells at Sarah constantly and she scurries around trying to please him. The girl is all heart and little brain. They start out doing the tent—decide that’s not working out because they can’t duplicate the knots that the nomads have used and switch to Fill it Up. After failing miserably to control their ox—they go back to Tear it Down. Meanwhile, Sarah has a crying fit which sets Peter off. He tries to force her to stop crying by refusing to continue the task until she stops. ‘Cause that always works, right? Maybe he should tell her he'll "give her something to cry about" next time.

Meltdowns were kind of contagious on this episode, Kimberly also had one when Rob kept yelling at her. Oddly, I can’t remember exactly what her crime was—either she wasn’t controlling the thousand pound ox or she wasn’t keeping the milkcans upright as they drove over bumpy ground. There was quite a bit of yelling by everyone in this episode. I do know that Kimberly insisted that Rob could not talk to her that way—which was patently false since he was talking to her that way.

After completing their detour, Dustin & Kandice ran into major trouble when they lost their special nomad hat and couldn’t get back on their horses to leave for the next clue site. They looked for a while but then let their nomad guy find it. For a period of time they were just standing around waiting. Kellie & Jamie thought they might just be having a rest. Riight, because racers always rest in the middle of the thing.

Lyn & Karlyn and Kellie & Jamie are in a race for last. After struggling terribly to complete their Detours—they are both ready to leave but neither car will start. The batteries are dead and must be cranked by hand. Lyn & Karlyn aren’t strong enough to turn it and have to wait for a man to help them. Kellie & Jamie got helped first and were able to get the jump on Lyn & Karlyn. Unfortunately, Kellie & Jamie went the wrong way. They passed Lyn & Karlyn going in the opposite direction, but this did not make them sit up and notice. They were much further down the road when they finally picked up on their mistake and turned back around.

At the Road Block, which was virtually within walking distance of the Pit Stop, one team member had to shoot a flaming arrow into a target which will set off fireworks. Peter shot and made it on his second try. Peter & Sarah ended up cruising onto the mat with Phil in First Place. They won a trip to Mexico-- to the resort, Riviera Maya from Travelocity. That will be fun I guess, if they are still talking to each other after the race.

Finish order was as follows: I have noted the team member who completed the Pit Stop in bold.

1. Peter and Sarah—up from 3rd
2. Tyler and James –down from 1st
3. Duke and Lauren—down from 2nd
4. Tom and Jerry—up from 8th
5. Dustin and Kandice—down from 4th
6. Kimberly and Rob—down from 5th
7. David and Mary—up from 10th--Mary twisted her ankle on the run to the mat.
8. Erwin and Godwin—down from 7th
9. Lyn and Karlyn—stayed the same.

Kellie and Jamie gave up trying to complete the Road Block because it became too dark to shoot. They were very far behind what with going the wrong direction. Thus, they were eliminated from the race. Nothing to cheer about here, dudes. Move along, move along.

While noting who participated in the Road Block, I’ve discovered that I don’t know who is who on the teams with two people of the same sex. Who is Tom and which is Jerry? No clue…ditto for Dustin & Kandice, Erwin & Godwin, Tyler & James, and Lyn & Karlyn. It’s kind of a problem when I want to quote someone from those teams too. I know that the Cho brother with the pony-tail shot the arrow but is that Erwin or Godwin? Unless someone referred to them by name while they were shooting I was out of th eloop. Ditto with Tyler and James. Couldn't tell you which was which and I don't know which one shot the arrow.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Survivor Cook Islands: Heavy Metal Bites the Dust

Act 1 Hiki
I’m completely confused as this episode begins because the Hiki tribe is complaining about their lack of water and desperately trying to make fire. Huh? Didn’t they take lit torches home from the tribal council last night? Hiki’s only guy tries and tries and tries to make fire but no matter how many sparks come off the flint he just can’t. So of course, he quits trying. Because as we all know if at first you don’t succeed…quit. Besides, who really needs that stupid ole water anyway? We’ll get along just fine without it. Since the big strong man quit, it’s once again up to the women.

Act 2 Aitu
This team is working really well together—welll, except that Billy’s really lazy and Ozzy and Cristina are in a power struggle. The problem is that Ozzy thinks he knows everything and so does Cristina. Shoot. Two people who know EVERYTHING. How lucky can one tribe get? Other than that—they’re working really well together. One thing they’ve done right--they’ve caught a bunch of fish and crabs and CHICKENS! Apparently free-range chickens are everywhere so the tribe set up a coconut trap and the chickens walked right in, down dropped the net and yeehaw. One thing that Ozzy and Christina argued about was, should the net swoop UP or drop down? These are apparently important issues to be fought over. Anyway, who knew chickens eat coconut? See Survivor’s not a guilty pleasure, it’s EDUCATIONAL.

Act 3 Puka
Over at Puka, the tribe has had the same idea--let’s catch these chickens just running around. They improvised a trap with coconut for bait (again with the coconut) then tripped the stick that held the box and the box dropped down and…well, you get the idea…chicken dinner. Yul and Becky agreed to an alliance based on their shared Korean heritage (so much for the groupings by race--maybe on the next Survivor, teams will be divided by STATE). I think it’s also because Becky’s a lawyer and Yul’s a management consultant. My guess is education is as great a magnet for bringing people together as anything. Nalon Salon manager Cai Boi probably doesn’t have a chance with these two.

Act 4 Raro
Over at Raro, Jonathan returns to see that after his two days at Exile Island, the rest of the Raro tribe hasn’t done jack to improve the hut or the campsite. Jonathan appears to be from the school of thought that thinks winning Survivor is all about working hard and having a neat, clean, comfortable camp. I would have thought the fact that last year’s winner came from the laziest, most dysfunctional tribe with the filthiest, most disgusting camp ever would have caused him to think again, but I’m not batting a really great average for this episode, so apparently not. Adam is from the opposite school. He wants to save his energy for the competition, so he came out of the closet and said that he didn’t see the point of having a floor for the shelter. Hello! Ever slept on the ground in the rain? Water seeps, dude. Everywhere. You need a floor to avoid chronic dampness and its associated fungi and mildew. Hmm, wonder what the difference between fungi and mildew is—is mildew a fungi? Something to Google later. Anyway, Adam got shot down by the people who want to sleep on dry bamboo instead of wet, cold sand. I don’t know why they all had to agree one this issue. I would have said, “Ok, you know what, I’m going to build myself a floor for my bed--if you don’t want one, fine.” Raro tribe’s disagreement is a lover’s tiff compared to what’s brewing over at Aitu.

Act 5 Aitu
CBS does some weird editing in the shift back to Aitu, so we get to watch the tribe bring in the fish that we watched them catch in the water back in Act 2. Then it’s Billy time. In the early episodes, it’s never a good thing to get a lot of screen time because it means you don’t have much life left in the game. Billy brags about conserving energy and eating food that other people gather. Again, I ask “What’s with the all-for-one garbage?” Make it a rule: you catch it, you eat it. You gather it, you eat it. You don’t work, you don’t eat. Instead Ozzy orders Billy to do things and being a wimp, Billy does them.

Act 6 Puka
Jenny gets the red mark. After working in the hot sun, she gets a headache. Cai Boi cures her. Jenny asked him not to give her ‘the red mark’ but he doesn’t listen. Why Jenny cared about having a red mark on her forehead on an island with no mirrors is a question for the ages, not for poor blogging me. That night Cai Boi starts his standup routine in his daily effort to offend all of his pc tribemates. I’m mostly offended by the fact that we never heard the punchline to the joke about the Vietnamese with 3 dogs. For the record, let’s take a minute to list all of the groups of people subjected to jokes about them which use exaggerated stereotypes: Blondes, the Polish, Catholics, Red Necks, the Irish, Surfers, the British. I’m running out of space so I’ll cut to the chase: EVERYBODY. Yes, they can be offensive but try not to take yourself so seriously, dudes.

Act 7 Aitu
Ok, this is not good at all. We’re back to Aitu without revisiting Raro or Hiki. That’s not very fair. Somebody from this tribe is getting evicted today for sure. Who will it be? Well, we last we saw Aitu, lazy Billy was under the microscope. Who is it this time? How ‘bout that! It’s Billy--keeping everyone awake with his snoring. (I didn’t see that coming!) Rest is very important to a tribe involved in competition. This can’t continue! Who will have the courage to speak out and say what needs to be done? Not JP, that’s for sure. But Ozzy, he’s a MAN. “We should throw the challenge and kick Billy out. He’s a drain on our resources!” Cristina doesn’t think she can ever trust Ozzy again after a suggestion like that. Oh well, life’s full of little disappointments.

Billy--Heavy Metal Twilight Zone inhabitant

Act 8 Raro et al.
Treemail! Along with lots of rah, rah team from three tribes and lots of angst from the cheating, quitting tribe who want to kill one of their own.

Now the competition: Another race. Duh. First, the teams listen to a story. Then, all the tribemates are tied together while they navigate through a series of logs, (up, down, up…you get it, right?) then they climb through a pole field filled with slats with answers on them. They must collect all the answer slats as they go. After scooting across a rope bridge, they reach a puzzle table where they must place their seven answer tiles in the correct positions to answer five questions, and so win immunity and reward. The reward is two tarps.

There’s more drama at the start while Aitu has trouble picking who to sit out. Billy doesn’t think he would be any good at this so he wants to sit out, Cristina wants no part of throwing a competition (I got that from my incredible insight into the character of people I don’t know), and JP wants to sit this one out to make it easier to throw. Guess who was the most determined? JP!

The story is about James Cook’s three voyages. An idiot could have remembered the details, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to come down to the race portion of the contest. Aitu stopped to read the story again in an effort to provide extra cover for their ‘throwing the competition subtly’ plan. In the end, this race came down to the ability to undo knots. Ozzy, clever boy, took the lead or should I say the rear by undoing the knots for his answer flags at an incredibly slooooooow rate. There was a bit of excitement at the end when Raro and Puka both jumped on their mats at the same time but Jeff read the answer board for Puka first and called the challenge for them. Happily, the producers used instant replay Jeff later corrected this error and declared a tie so both teams got tarps. Hiki tribe, bless ‘em came in third, thrilled to death. After taking every opportunity to go slowly, Aitu was finally crossing the rope bridge after all the teams were finished and Billy fell off it. Because, you know, fat guys are rope bridges go together like peanut butter and jelly. Hmm…I’m wondering now if Ozzy couldn’t have gone as fast as he liked untying those knots. Thinking back, I can see there wasn’t any way that team was going to get across that rope bridge with Billy in rear. Their slowdown effort was unneeded.

Aitu picked Yul to go to Exile Island and then, in a soap opera moment--Raro tribe and Aitu tribe stood next to each other on the mat and Candice told Billy that she feels really bad for them. You know, for losing on purpose. Billy presciently told her, “I’m next.” Candice replied, “We love you”. Angels sing! Billy responded, “I Love YOU.”

Candice--Billy's New Love

Act 9 Aitu (AGAIN) then Exile Island
The tribe commiserates. Ozzy says they did what they had to do. He believes they COULD have won that no problem. I say, talk is cheap--prove it. Oh wait, you can’t.

Now we follow Yul to Exile Island. He reads his clue and then finds the immunity idol. Bing Bang Boom. Maybe next year the tribes will figure out not to send the smart, strong men to the island. Maybe.

Back at Aitu, we’ve got the obligatory scheming to set up the doubt factor. We all know Billy’s going but wait…maybe not. Maybe Billy will scheme with Cristina and instead of Billy--Ozzy will get booted. Maybe.

Act 10 Tribal Council
We learn at Tribal Council that Ozzy is the big voice in the tribe according to everyone except Ozzy. Ozzy thinks the team together is the strongest entity. JP and Ozzy are outed for throwing the challenge. They defend their actions. Billy defends himself for a minute, then we leave the Tribal Council and enter the

do doo do do,

Twilight Zone. Billy confesses. He has FALLEN IN LOVE--with Candice from Raro tribe. When he said I love YOU—he meant her, in specific, not just generally in an all part of the same world kind of way. He also seems to think when Candice said, “WE love you.” that she, too, was speaking in specific of him. Uh oh, my nutcake meter is off the charts and into the red. Jeff Probst shows that no matter the rumors, he does not use Botox. He looked more surprised than I’ve seen in all my years of devoted Survivor viewing. Not even Cristina could support this nutball. Billy’s out. The tribe has spoken.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Amazing Race Premiere Recap

Judy and I finally watched the dvr of Amazing Race 10 last night and I’m ready to send out my recap into the blogosphere. AR has always been one of my favorite reality shows (less the Family edition which was horrific) because the irony of going to amazing places around the globe but never having the time to see any of the sights just cracks me up. It’s like the vacation from hell for money—but without the fun sightseeing parts. I particularly enjoy watching teams melt down under the pressure of constant travel, strange food, and little sleep. I mean, can’t we all relate on some visceral level to the stress a relationship goes through while traveling?

On a personal note, I remember a notable occasion when my sister Karen had hysterics of giggles after I was reprimanded by a Canadian Police Officer for running a stop sign while at Niagara Falls. Hey—those falls are very distracting. The point is, I was mortified to the point of tears to have been so stupid and to have the police ream me out about it made it all the worse. Meanwhile, Karen thought it was the funniest event of the trip. To say I was mad at her would be an understatement—who else could I take out my embarrassment on? Family are always there when you need to vent.

Back to the race—this year's contestants were a rather eclectic group. In no particular order the mini-recap of information about the teams:

Team Bilal and Sa’eed: best friends from Cleveland; married with children; and Muslim. Did you know that Muslim's don't shake hands with people? I didn't. I don't know if Bilal wouldn't shake hands with one of the cheerleaders because she is a woman or if they just don't shake hands but he wouldn't and said it was for religious reasons.

Team David and Mary: married with children from Kentucky; he is a coal miner and she is a traditional homemaker; they’ve never been outside of Kentucky or Tennessee. They are a hoot. I love their accents and the way Mary talks to David when she feels he's not treating her right.

Team Duke and Lauren: a father/daughter pair from Rhode Island; they were briefly estranged because she is gay; she’s a Speech Pathologist (so I’m rooting for them). Parent/kid teams never work out because they can't overcome the whole I'm the boss of you vibe that the parent gives off even though the kids is an adult. I expect fighting from this pair.

Team Dustin and Kandice: best friends that are beauty queens—literally; one is the reigning Miss NY and the other is the reigning Miss CA. Pageants are cut-throat, I hear, so I'm expecting this team to be competitive.

Team Erwin and Godwin: brothers from San Fransciso; both have advanced degrees. Hot geeks. I hope they win.

Team Kellie and Jamie: best friend cheerleaders from South Carolina. Perky. 'Nuff said. I think one of them is having a show-mance with a "Win" brother--either that or a "Win" brother has a crush.

Team Lyn and Karlyn: best friends from Alabama; both are single moms. They tell it like it is--hope they kick butt.

Team Peter and Sarah: dating? or friends? It was unclear from the show; she is a athlete with an artificial leg; he is an expert in artificial limbs (he designs and builds them) from California. I'm thinking he's in this for the pr for his business--meanwhile--she thinks he might be the one. Sarah--he called you "Sister" when he was encouraging you at one point in the race. I'm pretty sure that's not a good sign in terms of romance.

Team Rob and Kimberly: dating and from Los Angeles. They were fighting right from the start. Rob thinks that Kimberly needs to learn--and will learn on the race that she can't control him. Newsflash Dude--she knows that already because I can't believe she's in favor of your Alfalfa hairstyle. Since she hasn't convinced you to change that weird sticky-uppy thing that's going on with your 'do--she knows you are hopelessly stubborn.

Team Tom and Jerry: Zounds—I'm gonna think of the cartoon characters pretty much every time I see those names together—dating from New York. Shock Shock, though--Tom and Jerry are not looking to make friends on the race. Strangely, when competing for large cash prizes few teams are ever looking to make friends. Go figure.

Team Tyler and James: best friends from Los Angeles, recovering addicts, models. Good looking and apparently, smart too. They appear to have determination and a history of overcoming difficulty on their side. On the other hand--I'm sick of seeing two guy teams dominate the race. But wait--what's the history here? How many guy-guy teams have won the race...Chip and Reichen...umm...shoot. I'm gonna have to Google this.

Team Vipul and Arti: married from Florida; the first Indian-Americans in the Race. Sweet.

The season’s race began in Seattle Washington. The unfortunate racers started out wet and as always, someone nearly fell after Phil gave the go for the mad dash to the cars. Also as always, several people could not figure out how to drive the newfangled cars provided. (You have the hold the brake down in newer cars in order to put the car into gear.)

The teams are headed for Beijing China. Woohoo. They are all excited—as if they will actually get to see anything for longer than five minutes. Tyler and James are first out onto the road. The racers who head for SeaTac Airport by way of Interstate 5 are quickly stuck in traffic because of an accident. Did I mention it was raining?

Anyway—David and Mary were among the last to leave the parking area. They had lots of trouble figuring out how to drive the new car—maybe they’ve never had a “new” car. I'm just guessing that 's a possibility. I don't think coal miners make huge amounts of dough. They also didn’t have a map. Uh oh. That could be a problem—but wait, they asked a local for directions to the airport. He suggested using Highway 99 and thus, David and Mary avoided the traffic congestion caused by the accident. Peter and Sarah were also clever and took side roads to get out of the jam.

Our first flight to China has room for six teams. They will have an arrival advantage of about one hour over the last six teams. Flight One: David and Mary, Peter and Sarah, Dustin and Kandice, Duke and Lauren, Lyn and Karlyn. Flight Two: Vipul and Arti, Bilal and Sa’eed, Tom and Jerry, Rob and Kimberly, Edwin and Godwin, Kellie and Jamie.

At the airport Edwin and Godwin brought out squirt guns which they playfully used on their competitors. Airport security did NOT find this amusing. They confiscated the toy guys and made it clear that they thought Edwin and Godwin were idiots for traveling with such contraband. Some teams were hoping that Edwin and Godwin would be arrested.

When boarding began on the first plane—Sarah and Peter were allowed to pre-board because of her handicapping condition. This caused consternation and annoyance among the teams because they immediately realized what an advantage this would be in the race. Lyn/Karlyn said, “She can run the ironman but she can’t stand in line?” Good point. But handicap access laws can’t be waived or ignored by the airlines just because ya’ll are in a race.

In China—man, that was a quick flight—the teams head for Gold House where they encountered their first Road Block. One team member had to eat a quantity of fish eyes which apparently is a commonly consumed food in China. I see this and realize how blessed I am to live in America where fish eyes are not considered a snack. In fact, fish eyes aren't even bait here, are they? The teams trundle in and choke down the eyes—most do it with little drama. David quaintly remarked to one team that Mary, “done got four or five of ‘em down already.”

Several teams got lost or had taxi drivers who took them to the back of the restaurant which caused confusion. Edwin & Godwin were the last to leave the restaurant. Once the teams completed the Road Block they were to head for ??? Hmm, I didn’t make a note of that in my notes. (Yes, I take notes—how else am I supposed to remember what happens? Don’t laugh, it’s a hobby.) Well, wherever they were supposed to go—they were trying to arrive to get the best departure time for the morning. Choices were 7:00, 7:15, or 7:30.

Teams leaving at 7:00 were: Peter & Sarah, Lauren & Duke, Lyn & Karlyn, Tyler & James. Teams leaving at 7:15 were: Kellie & Jamie, Tom & Jerry, David & Mary, Dustin & Kandice. Teams leaving at 7:30 were: Rob & Kimberly, Vipul & Arti, Erwin & Godwin…

and WHOA--New Twist—the first ever mid-leg elimination was performed. When Bilal and Sa’eed got to the departure time board the only placard left said “Last Team”. They were sent to see Phil. When they saw Phil, he told them they were eliminated. All teams were shocked and dismayed. Now running all the race well will count—not just managing to squeak in at the Pit Stop. Mary cracked me up because her reaction was that they were going to have to, “expect the unexpected.” Wasn’t that a Big Brother catch-phrase? CBS crossover promotion happening here folks.

The next morning, teams had to travel by motorbike to Northbank Road (in case you ever want to go there—you know—on your next trip to China) and there they faced their first Detour: Labor or Leisure. Teams had to choose between traveling two miles by Pedi-cab to participate in a Chinese Exercise/Dance which had to be performed in unison OR traveling one mile to lay bricks in a pattern. All but two teams chose to Labor.

Although Tyler and James arrived at the Labor site fourth—they finished first because they figured out that there were extra bricks that had to be laid around the perimeter of the design before the pattern design could be started. Once the other struggling teams saw what they were doing wrong, things moved along more quickly.

Teams Kellie & Jamie and Tom & Jerry did the exercise/dance. This worked out well for them because they arrived at the Great Wall of China before at least two other teams who had done Labor. Surprisingly, Tom & Jerry mastered the dance/exercise before the cheerleaders, which thrilled them.

After completing the Detour—teams were to go to the Pit Stop at the Great Wall of China and a specific gate—Juyongguan—where they had to scale the wall using ropes before they could jump on Phil’s mat.

The most amazing struggle to scale the wall was performed by Sarah (of the artificial leg). She and Peter arrived at the wall early on but didn’t pay attention to where to go. Peter (who seems to be a bit bossy) ran Sarah up a ton up steps only to arrive on the wall and realize that they had to go back down so they could scale the wall. It was weird that he made that mistake, too, because he was giving her advice on how to handling scaling the wall with her leg so he knew that they’d be climbing the side of the wall with ropes. Oh well. As you can imagine, she was extra tired out when she got onto the rope with the little loops with which you are supposed to pull yourself up. Aiiayaii. That girl worked like a dog. She banged into that wall again and again. She was at a serious disadvantage because her artificial leg had a curbed metal bottom that did not act like a traditional foot. I never did understand how she managed to get up that wall. It was agonizing to watch. She is one tough chick.

Of the other teams, Karlyn, as well as Mary seemed to have the most difficulty with the wall scaling. They did finally get up and over, though. Whew. The order of finish at the Pit Stop was:

1. Tyler & James—they won $20, 000 for their finish.
2. Duke & Lauren
3. Peter & Sarah
4. Dustin & Kandice
5. Rob & Kimberly
6. Kellie & Jamie
7. Erwin & Godwin
8. Tom & Jerry
9. Lyn & Karlyn
10. David & Mary

Vipul & Arti were eliminated by Phil. They seemed to come in last due somewhat to taxi woes, I think. I don’t remember—nor did I note any specific drama—just not quick enough with the bricks and a slow driver I think. Lyn & Karlyn, and David & Mary fell so low in the ranks just because they took so long getting up the wall. They actually were already climbing before the 5th-8th place finishers even arrived at the wall.

Next week--more stress, strange food, and travel in a part of the world that most people ever see. I anticipate Vietnam.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Celebrity Duets

I’ve mentioned that Robin and I are reality TV addicts, right? But I have standards. I don’t just watch any reality show. It has to be good or funny or on the air. After seeing several million promos for Celebrity Duets, I am unable to resist the temptation to watch it at least once; I set it up on my DVR. Seriously, it’s on Fox-- the same network that gives us American Idol. How bad can it be? That's a rhetorical question. Thursday is the first night I watch it.

Though I’m not a music teacher now, my B.S. (in more ways than one) is in Music Education. So before I begin my recap let me assure you. You can TRUST me. I know what I’m talking about and I am able to use LARGE musical WORDS to describe what you have heard.

First up, Lucy Lawless. Where have I been since Zena went off the air? Lucy Lawless looks nothing like I remember. I almost couldn’t concentrate on her singing because I was so distracted by her blonde hair. Lucy seems excited to sing with Dionne Warwick but all I could think is Dionne Warwick, she’s old! Who wants to sing with someone a million years old? The voice, like skin and every other body part, deteriorates with age. And believe me, there isn’t any plastic surgery available for voices. Just ask Julie Andrews.

Here’s what the judges said:
Judy – Not good. Lucy’s voice isn’t bad but the song is just so-so.
Marie – Timid – A little in your nose - (Musical term: too nasal) I didn’t hear this but I was distracted by the hair and worrying that Dionne would fall down as she walked the steep slope thing on the set.
Little Richard – “I Love Lucy!” Get some blues. – I’m thinking Little Richard is unable to communicate and I don’t know how right I am.
David – Liked it. He recommended that Lucy ask for a higher harmony part next time. – I agree, an alto voice is very pleasant to listen to but it doesn’t grab the attention like the higher vocals.

Next up, Alfonzo Ribeiro. Alfonzo sings with Deniece Williams. Denise WHO? How out of it am I? (I don’t know it yet, but that feeling is going to get A LOT stronger). I don’t know the name of the song (and they don’t provide it, not during the show OR on their website which is VERY annoying) but the chorus has “too much, too little, too late to try again with you”.

Here’s what the judges said:
Judy -Alfonzo was very good, and he harmonized with Deniece really well.
Marie – Great ending, stop bouncing, connect more with your partner
Little Richard – My big toe shot up. Don’t let your voice write a check your rhythm can’t cash
David – Pretty good. Don’t whine about being sick.

Third, Carly Patterson sings with Jesse McCartney. The girls in the audience go crazy. I’m old. I know this now for certain, because I don’t have a clue who he is. I need to call my 14 year old niece--or is she 15 year old now? Is this a sign of mental deterioration due to age? I think I'm becoming paranoid about my age--back to the show. Jesse sings very nasally. I’m shocked to think he may be a singing professional. Style is everything these days, I guess. Of course, that completely explains the fact that people actually play Jessica Simpson on the radio. (Did you ever hear how she butchered the classic Christmas song, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"? I wasn't sure if I needed to throw up or take a shower after I heard it. Oops , digressing again.
I 'll stop. I promise.)

Here’s what the judges said:
Judy – Well, I didn’t hear dogs howling but I’m still wearing my socks.
Marie – You’ve come remarkably far. Your body needs to loosen up.
Little Richard – You’ve come a long way. You’ve got a long way to go.
David – David points out that Little Richard just repeated what he said to Carly last week, and that Marie has become the bitch from hell. He then recommends that Carly sing from her diaphragm and not her throat.

Our next singer is Hal Sparks. Hal is the first contestant I haven’t heard of (as opposed to professional duet partner). Hal sings with Dennis DeYoung. Dennis is someone famous. Being a lover of the Carpenters has not prepared me very well for this blogging experience and so I can’t exactly tell you what famous band Dennis was or is in but it’s a big one. Dennis sings very well. You can really see the confidence in the professionals, that’s for sure. However Hal is very good. Robin LOVED him. She found him amazingly hot! She found him to be hot. She thought he was HOT. Are you getting it? Robin thought Hal was hot.

Here’s what the judges said:
Marie – You’re reinventing yourself. Great job.
Little Richard – Lots of feeling, you got rhythm, get some blues.
David – You can sing but you’re not a rock star.

Cheech Marin is next, singing with Aaron Neville. He had a great line in his opening set up bio. Referring to last week’s performance that apparently put him in the bottom two: “They dangled me over the edge, but killed somebody else!” Cheech sings Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone. (Yea! I recognized the song AND knew the name. Woohoo!) This performance was a text book example of the pitfalls of singing with someone else, especially someone unused to singing with others. I know Aaron Neville has sung some famous duets but I don’t believe those duets were sung with as much unison as this one. It showed.

Here’s what the judges said:
Judy – I wanted it to be good but….
Marie – If this contest was about charm you would win. Unfortunately…
Little Richard – I know, I know, he didn’t know.
David – You don’t belong here anymore

Jai Rodriguez was the last performer. I don’t know who he is. Somehow this mindless escapist fun has shone a spotlight on my age, or my uncoolness. All is not lost--however--Robin recognizes him as one of the Queer Eye guys. Jai sings with Taylor Daynes. Hmm. I haven't ever heard of her. She's old though--shouldn't I know her? I'll google her. I go to her website. This does not actually help me to recognize her. Maybe the problem is that Taylor's looks have been unnaturally preserved. She looks plastic and smooth with amazingly plump lips. Is it good genes or botox? Only her plastic surgeon knows for sure. Robin said her mouth moved like a muppet. Not a good look.

Here’s what the judges said:
Judy – It was competent. Enjoyable.
Marie – You relate well to the camera but your choreography was awkward. Wayne Brady, the host, steps in and defends Jai saying he wasn’t the choreographer, but Marie says he should have refused to do the stupid moves.
Little Richard – Picked it up, pulled it out, put it in, Ooh! Its official Little Richard is an idiot.
David – Tonight was a big miss

Robin and I voted for Hal out of his hotness and Cheech out of pity.
Tomorrow we’ll find out who goes.

Survivor - Cook Island

Episode 1 - I Can Forgive Her But I Don't Have to Because She Screwed Up My Chickens

So Robin and I watched Survivor: Cook Islands Thursday evening. We have been very faithful Survivor viewers since season 1 but I must confess we found the hype about the special "segregated" edition unappealing. I was interested to read a quote from Jeff Probst claiming that the first couple of minutes were the most exciting ever or something like that. So here's my recap:

Act 1 - The Ship
Not the excitement I was looking for. People running around like scared, wait, that really is a chicken. Hmmm, chickens can swim? Well I've learned something. Day not wasted. Still, nothing here like the claim. Until Jeff says "39 Days! 20 People! 1 Survivor!" I don't want to get excited but I can't help myself and my heart beats a little faster: "My name is Judy and I'm a reality tv addict".

Act 2 - On the Water
Everyone seems to paddle easily to their designated areas. Nothing to see here, move along.

Act 3 - Aitutaki aka Aitu

This is the Hispanic tribe. The members are: Cecilia, Cristina, JP, Ozzy and Billy

Billy thinks that the Hispanic tribe has an advantage because of their island heritage. Cecilia sees this tribe as an opportunity to showcase the abilities of hispanics to work and play hard. Upon reaching their camp, Billy steps up big as the leader in the know but turns out to be the big talking leader wannabe. Ozzy steps in, takes over and gets things moving by getting the shelter started and climbing a coconut tree for sustenance.

Act 4 - Puka

This is the Asian tribe. The members are: Becky, Brad, Cao Boi, Jenny and Yul

Right away Cao Boi (pronounced Cowboy) stands out as someone who tells it like it is (or as he thinks it is). He has no fear of seeming to call out sterotypes. On the raft he jokes that Asians can look so little but weigh so much. He blames the rice. One of the girls objects to the joke and says "Don't make stereotypes" He replies: "What's fact is fact". Jenny points out that they are a mixed group themselves: Cao Boi is Vietnamese, Jenny is Filipino, Yul and Becky are Korean and Brad is mixed Filipino and Hawaiian.

Act 5 - Manihiki aka Hiki

This is the African American tribe. The members are Nathan, Sekou, Stephannie, Sundra and Rebecca.

The tribe lands and gets together for an impromtu celebration. A chant of 'represent, represent' begins. Stephannie explains: "We all feel the pressure to represent our people the African American culture". Rebecca elaborates that since the tribes are separated by race that she feels that they need to show that "Yes, black people do swim, yes black people know how to get on a boat and paddle. I mean, we don't just run track." That was a great line! We see several scenes of the Hiki tribe building their hut. What I'm struck by, is the ease and comfort level. Unlike the Asian tribe, which is divided by so many different country origins that they individually don't feel like they have much in common. Hiki shares a familiarity of culture and life experience that allows them to be much less guarded than I think anyone of them would have been had they been in a tribe where they were the only African American. Sundra claims it's not about race, but more about the fact that they are all from a city. I think that's true but not wholly it. A mixed group would likely not have joked about cornrow braiding palms and "I have a dream" as easily. In our politically correct world everyone's always afraid that teasing may be offensive to others. Nate has a private camera moment where he recaps the struggle to build shelter and says "Black people don't like to be told what to do". That's true of everybody, I think, but would Nate have said it that way if he was in a mixed tribe? I don't know-- and it's kind of cool that I'm wondering.

Act 6 - Rarotonga - Raro

This is the caucasian tribe. The members are: Adam, Parvati, Candice, Jessica and Jonathan.

Adam says the division of the tribe by race is irrelevant because "The issue is what kind of people" you have, not what race they are. Jonathan thinks the experiment will be interesting but doesn't believe that cultural similarities will make the tribes more cohesive because after all-- the game is Survivor and someone is going to win a million dollars. Eventually they'll have to cut the throat of the person next to them in order to win. He has a good point. There have been a lot of tribes that were very loving and close and got along really well but they couldn't win. On the other hand-- the most dysfunctional tribe ever won constantly and decimated the other tribe last year.

Jessica "Call me Flicka" conveniently stereotyped the group for those of us afraid to do so. "We've got a jock, the sorority type, the steady type, the family man, and then you've got me who's the alternative option." After these diary moments, we discover that 'alternative option' is code for idiotic moron. Jessica inexplicably takes the cover off of the tribe's two chickens and seems shocked and dismayed to discover that chickens run. Very fast. Whoa. Bye chickens. I wonder if that's where roadrunners get their speed? No wonder Wil E. Coyote never catches him. Robin is convinced Jessica is a secret vegetarian and she really intended to free the chickens in order to save their lives (flee flee) --or she could be just dumb. You pick.

Act 7 - Hiki

The scene here opens with sting rays. Before Labor Day weekend and Steve Irwin's death from a sting ray barb, I would have enjoyed looking at them swimming so gracefully in the water. Instead, I got a little chill down my spine because I see them as deadly now. For the record this does not make me want to go out and kill and mutilate them, as some appear to be doing. Does retaliating against an animal species actually make any sense? One has to wonder about people sometimes.

The two New York girls bond while finding the water--useless until they get fire to sterilize it. Hey--good to know where it is, though, right? Sekou claims to know how to build a fire but we see no proof of this. He tries for a period of time but it is tiring and unproductive. Has that rubbing technique ever actually worked. If I was lost in the woods and needed fire I'd go for the light through my glasses technique. Does nobody in these tribes need glasses? Darn that Lasik surgery. Stephannie, as an older woman, notes that the girls are bonding without her that concerns her. She's also bothered that Sekou needs a break from rubbing for fire, so she gives it a try. See--it is hard--she is not successful either.

Act 8 - Raro

It's night and cold. Everyone's sleeping as close as possible for warmth but some of us (Candice and Adam) are enjoying it more than others. Do I smell a showmance? The new reality term cuddle puddle is coined at this time.

Act 9 - Puku

Brad wakes with a headache. Cao Boi believes he has a 'touch of bad wind', not a normal headache. Bad wind headaches are connected to being on the ocean, apparently. He performs a complicated rubbing procedure on Brad's face. He squishes and rubs so long--it looks pretty painful He leaves an odd red mark between Brad's eyes but it takes away his headache.

Act 10 - Aitu

Tree mail arrives in the usual form of a poem. Annoyingly, the complete poem is not presented so all we get is:

"Life is tough on the island but if it's fire that you lack -whatever whatever whatever - you paddle for your flames."

I'm finally noticing that two tribes, Aitu and Puka have 3 men, 2 women and two tribes, Raro and Hiki have 2 men, 3 women. It seems that the third man is older, like Cao Boi andBilly but then wait-- Jonathan is older but he is in better shape that Billy, but wait-- Sekou is older and out of shape plus-- their third woman is older so double whammy. Hmmm. I'm wondering how the producers managed to pick teams that could compete fairly without stroking out over the possibilities. I've only been thinking about it for five minutes and I have Brad's headache.

Act 11 - Immunity

So the Immunity/Reward challenge this week is a race. The tribes must put together a puzzle boat; paddle it to a burning buoy; light their torch; return to the beach; put together some small compass points puzzles; use the connectors from the puzzle boat to build a ladder; insert the completed compass point puzzles at the appropriate spots in the ladder; and then use their flaming torch to light their fire barrel. Whew. Does this challenge seem unusually long to you?The first three teams to finish will win immunity and flint. The very first team also wins a fire kit. The last team wins a trip to tribal council. See how positive I made that. Self-esteem is very important. The last place team isn't going to lose, instead they'll win. Winning is good, right? Even winning the opportunity to reduce your tribe by one. Jeff teases all of the tribes with a teeny little envelope which he will open after the competition is complete.

Act 12 - Competition

So the race begins. Robin calls out that Puka is going to win. The race begins--Aitu takes the lead by finishing their puzzle boat first. I must confess to a little stupidity here. I couldn't figure out why everyone was dragging their puzzle pieces into the water, I thought that would make them harder to put together. Robin kindly (hardly rudely at all) pointed out that putting the pieces in the water meant they didn't have to drag the heavy boat out and the pieces were easier to manuver and put together while floating. Oh. Puka follows Aitu into their boat and out to the buoy while Raro comes in third--their boat keeps coming apart. Aitu is first to the torch buoy with Puka right behind and Raro a distant third since their boat continues to separate and they persist in paddling it anyway. Meanwhile poor Hiki is still back at the start. I don't know what their problem was: No puzzle solvers on their team? The camera doesn't spend a lot of time showing us where the difficulty was with putting their boat together. Unfortunately, they don't get their puzzle boat together and on its way until both Aitu and Puka are already back on the beach and starting their compass point puzzles. One Hiki gets going though they are able to make some gains against Raro--still struggle with a boat that isn't really seaworthy. Raro finally makes it to the beach. Now three teams are solving the second set of puzzles while Hiki finishes the sea part of the course. Puka finishes first and starts up the ladder. Hiki made it to the compass puzzle before Raro solved it and when Raro goes up the ladder they don't take their puzzle pieces with them. For a moment, we have the thrilling feeling that maybe after all their struggle Hiki will pip Raro at the post. Sigh. Another Survivor tease. The final standings are 1- Puka (Robin is right!) 2 - Aitu, 3- Raro , 4 - Hiki.

Jeff passes out the three pieces of immunity statue (I just can't call it an idol, don't make me) and reads the contents of the note he had mentioned earlier but did not read. Apparently, Exile island is going to be continued this year. The last place team, in addition to winning the right to send someone home--also gets to choose someone from the winning teams to spend the next two days on Exile Island. So the last place finisher actually won two things--the right to send someone home and the right to Exile someone. Still--winning these two special rights does not make Hiki particularly happy. Go figure. For the exiled one the plus side (well really it's all a plus for me, I'm not on the island, after all) is that they will have a chance to find the hidden immunity token which played such a large role in last year's game.

The men of Hiki make the decision about who to send off without consulting the women of their tribe. Yoohoo, guys, you are out-numbered. Do you really want to ignore the majority of your team? Jeff kindly points this out--just in case the women didn't notice and weren't already offended about it. Jonathan, the chicken thief, is sent off with the first clue. Karma is a bummer. But wait, wasn't karma satisfied when the chickens fled into the woods? Hmm, karma is also complicated I guess.

At Exile Island--a smaller version than last year's with a cute little shipwreck playhouse--we learn the first clue to finding the immunity token thingy:

To make a top grade
Stand in a line
If the southern isle vanishes
A salvation you'll find.

Act 13 - Tribal Council

Back at the Hiki camp, the guys realize that they are outnumbered and in danger. The men believe that the women would be fools to evict one of them. Still, it's possibly, maybe something they might do, thinking they can get along fine without the men. They worry. They strategize. Sekou goes to Stephannie and points out that she is the odd woman out in the trio. He thinks she should ally with him to vote out Sundra. Sekou tries to convince her that the tribe needs him in order to have fire and keep it going. Somehow while making this argument, he is able to ignore the fact that he has not actually made any fire. Stephannie notices this flaw in his reasoning right away, however. I'm guessing that made his argument less persuasive to her.

At tribal council the guys vote out Sundra, the girls vote out Sekou. Stephannie, the swing vote, elected to hang with the female alliance. Historically, in guys against the girls contests in Survivor the women have done very well so I think she made the right choice. She still has the option of allying with Nathan against the other two girls if she needs to. We'll see. The one thing you can predict with Survivor is that alliances will shift.

For Sekou-- the tribe has spoken. Bummer. First out is always the worst.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Project Runway--The Black and White Episode

Well, last week's preview certainly sent PR aficionados barking up the wrong tree. No Olsen twins, here, mon. I salute your misdirection, PR producers. This week's challenge was key for all the designers because it would decide the final four. All the final four designers will get runway shows in Bryant Park during Olympus Fashion Week. ( Tomorrow, woohoo!) As Kara Janx last season's number four placer has shown, not officially being in the final doesn't mean that you can't benefit from the exposure of showing a collection during fashion week. If memory serves, Kara Janx got some of the best reviews of all the designers from Project Runway last spring. So given all that, you'd think the designers would go all out, right? And yet--I don't think some people gave it 100%. In fact. some people who used to be my favorite let the "team" down with a poor effort and a stoopid mistake. But all will be revealed as the recap proceeds.

As our show opens, Heidi gets the designers revved up for a challenge and then refuses to share the details. Big let down for our nervous contestants. They are living on their last nerve after all. The deets will be shared that evening at a party hosted by L'Oreal Paris. The party is at some swank club called The Pink Elephant. I have never heard of it which reveals the depth of my uncoolness. You know, in case there was any doubt.

At the club, the designers are drinking champagne (Laura too--which seriously bothered me since I have worked with kids with fetal alcohol syndrome--not to be a downer or anything.) and they are set for a little fun while they tensely wait for the challenge to be explained. Then the sky falls and Vincent and Angela stroll in--returned to the competition as a reward for winning a challenge. I note, of the remaining designers, everyone would have been returned to the game as a benefit of winning a challenge except, Laura. To elaborate on the conditions of this miraculous return--Angela and Vincent are being given the opportunity to compete in this one challenge. If one of them wins--they will continue in the final four. If they do not win--it's Goodbye Norma Jean again. Thus, THREE designers will be eliminated after this challenge. One of them will definitely be Angela or Vincent, because of course, both of them can't win. But potentially, two of the favorites could go. Not surprisely, the other designers are feeling pretty crummy about this possibility, soaked as they are in their own sense of superiority.

The challenge is finally delineated. They must create a cocktail outfit using black AND white fabric. Later, Tim also adds more details; such as, the designers must use every scrap of fabric they buy in their outfit. Anything bigger than a postcard must be utilized. Angela (one senses she must have been on of those eager children in school--the kind with their hand in the air constantly) asks Tim if they can elect to use either black OR white fabric and he clearly tells her NO. It must be both black and white fabric. (Get it. Black AND White. This is not rocket science.) Tim also tells them that they will be judged particularly on their design silhouette and the make up and styling of their models.

Now for the angst portion of the show. No one is happy about the auffed who have returned. Jeffrey is, of course, venomous about Angela's return. His only healthy statement about this particular kink is, "Whatever. I don't have to like it. The good news is..." He was unable to finish that comment which was amusing. Apparently there was no good news. His constant monologue of negative comments in the workroom must be very annoying to the other designers. Vincent does indirectly call him on his poor character. No fight ensues, though, darn it. Jeffrey is creating some kind of mini skirted peasant outfit which he intends to pair with shiny black leggings which mimic thigh high boots. If you are imagining designer hooker then you are a genius because that's exactly what we got.

Meanwhile Laura is having a meltdown of epic proportions. She took the judges criticisms about her last dress very badly. She is doubting her self. She is afloat in pregnancy hormones and cries a lot. She is also rather nasty to Angela when she very bluntly points out to her that Angela's win was a TEAM win so that really--Angela didn't deserve to get to come back into the competition. Yeow. Meow. Angela seems so innocent and naive when attacked. I would probably have gotten snotty, she merely asserted that she won for her design not for the garment's construction. (This comeback handily ignored the fact that Laura and Michael's contributed to Angela's design by restraining her and refining the look. Fleurchons as buttons was Laura's idea, after all.) I ponder that Laura made the comment, not just out of snippiness that Vincent and Angela had been brought back into the competition, but out of strategy. What better way to undermine Angela's confidence than to let her know she didn't deserve to come back. The only weak point in that idea is that it is difficult to believe that Laura is threated by wacky Angela. Laura is at a low ebb, but still...wacky Angela? Do we seriously believe she could win this challenge? Hmm.

The designers offer the camera various takes on their vision for the cocktail dress. Are you surprised that Uli is thinking about a "hippy beach party outfit...something that you could wear in Miami and St. Tropez". No--really--how original. As Gomer Pyle would say, "SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE!" Uli chose a print...and hey...a I didn't see THAT coming.

Kayne, meanwhile, what can I say. He didn't LISTEN. Ring Ring! The clue phone is ringing but Kayne isn't answering and his machine is broken so we can't even leave a message. Kayne buys black fabric. Just black fabric. Hmm...what's missing. How 'bout some WHITE! I am still mad at him. He was always a long shot for the final four because the judges clearly have had a bent against him given all their snarking about his "taste" level. With his wrong-headed purchase of all but one of the two REQUIRED fabrics, he is doomed. The worst of it is--he was actually smart enough to seek out Michael's opinion about his dress. When Michael told him it looked like something a hoooker would wear, Kayne modified the dress. Whoa. That's a major improvement for Kayne. He listened and he fixed it. Unfortunately, there was still the problem of no white fabric. Kayne's final comment before runway was that he was, "banking on Jesus." Don't be blaming the Savior of the world for this deal, Kayne. You were a big disappointing dumbo and I am mad at you for letting Jeffrey get through to the final four. Did I just give away that Kane was aufed? Oh well, you had to know that was coming, right?

The main strategy for dealing with the requirement that all extra fabric had to be incorporated into the outfit was to make a purse and then to stuff the purse with the extra fabric. Vincent made a shawl with his remnants. He claimed the clerk at Mood gave him more fabric than he ordered--way to take responsiblity Vincent. Clerks selling expensive designer fabrics in New York City probably throw in an extra half a yard free for the heck of it all the time, don't you figure?. Uli made a necklace of fabric balls. Laura, impressively, made her all her leftover fabric into a cute clutch purse. That's impressive mathematical skills, ordering your fabric lengths so closely to what you actually use. Must be that architecture degree.

Vincent put together a white bodice and black mini skirt. Both fabrics are horizontally pleated. It's not offensively bad which makes a nice change. He runs into issues with too much fabric and of course, he makes his ambiguous statement in the workroom about how the longer the competition has lasted the more the true (read:bad) character of designers (read: Jeffrey) has been revealed.On the day of the runway show Vincent finds out that his model Jia has been in an accident. His new model is bigger--which seems hard to believe because she can't be more than a size 1.5. Nevertheless the dress is so closely fitted that his new model pops the zipper out. Wow. I'm big ole girl and I've never popped a zipper. Something is seriously wrong in the fashion industry with regard to fit. Vincent, sewed his model into her dress. Unfortunately, he has ignored proportion and the judges find his dress to be way too short. He used his extra fabric to create a shawl and the judges experimented with adding the fabric of the shawl to the skirt of the dress to create a longer dress. Voila! The dress is as improved as Michael's couture gown was with the tucking of the bunny ears. The judges know fashion. Since Vincent didn't win the challenge--he is auffed again.

I haven't really mentioned Angela too much so far. Very little camera time is spent on Angela. She envisions her outfit with a leather shrug. She thinks it'll be hip and modern. That was about the last we saw of her. In the judging, Angela's hip, modern yet Edwardian style shrug with its stand up collar and wierd pleating is a huge mess. It has a whole Vampire feel to it. The judges can find nothing good to say and I am disappointed that Angela's attempt to go all out is such a disaster. She seemed to have potential in the beginning. She, too, is auffed.

Michael puts out the only white dress on the runway. He presented a sleek, modern grown up dress. It was not a mini skirt, thank goodness. He accented the sheath dress with an assymetrical neckline and a cumberbund like belt. The belt was decorated with cut outs of flowers and I think there were some shiny things on it also for a bit of sparkle. Great dress. The judges had nothing but positives to say about it, including that fact that Michael always styles his models so well. You'll notice, also, in my reporting of the angst that Michael got no coverage. That's because he's apparently a really nice guy and I can't remember him saying anything nasty on camera. I hope Michael wins this whole she-bang.

Kayne's black dress, with what looks like a spider web on the back doesn't get excoriated or anything. But the judges pick up on the fact that the dress is only black with just a white ribbon. You can't put anything over on these judges. They appreciate that this dress is much more restrained than Kayne's previous work. I, of course, love his previous work for the most part and don't think he has a taste problem--too much. Heck, I'm biased. I admit it. I like Kayne. He's funny and cute. Anyway, I really believe that Jeffrey's outfit was so bad that if Kayne has just followed the guidelines and presented a dress of this standard with both black and white fabric that he would have survived to final four. Hey, hindsight is always 20-20.

Jeffrey's hooker outfit almost leaves the judges speechless, but not quite. I believe the key descriptor used was "cheap". Yep. That's a good one to use. The judges also commented on the fact that while Jeffrey does urban/rock/goth pretty well, he doesn't seem able to move out of that box. He has never shown them elegance. (I wonder if he will create an elegant collection in response to that criticism? I'm betting no, because I don't think he's creatively capable of seeing outside the tattoo, if you get my drift.)

Uli's Miami/St. Tropez inspired black and white dress is not popular. The judges hate the sleeves which are off the shoulder but as long as the whole dress. They find the fabric necklace distracting. Maybe Uli was trying to distract the judges from the fact that the squared bodice of the dress was identical to the one on the couture dress that she has just /'made. The judges comment again on the fact that Uli is creating variations of the same dress each challenge. Hmm. This is not a good sign for Uli. Will she make the final three?

Finally, Laura's dress came down the runway. Okay--I don't think she was actually last down the runway--I can't remember, but she's last in my recap. She had chosen blacklace over white. Her model "helpfully" gave her advice on making it more youthful. Laura did not find this advice helpful but she appreciated that her model wanted her to win. She created a mini dress with a baby doll feel. Not the kind of baby doll with an empire waist and loose skirt, but more body conscious like a sheath. The dress had cute cap-like sleeves and a square neckline. The best part of the dress was the boa feathers and sequins and beading that Laura meticulously sewed/glued by hand to the bottom of the dress. Not too much, just enough to add sparkle and life. The dress that Laura's tears watered ends up being her best dress ever and she wins the challenge. Yea, Laura. Way to come back.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Big Brother All Stars Finale

Well, I wouldn't have believed it but as much as I detest Mike Boogie--I think I would have voted for him myself. Here's how it played out...

Judy and I were watching House and with about ten minutes left of the hour we swapped out to see who had won on Big Brother. At that point I was sort of rooting for stoopid Erica because I think Mike has been the worst scumbag ever on the planet to her. There was no winner yet, so we went back to House. After another couple of minutes we checked in again and saw Janelle win the America's Choice for like the gazillionth time. I inferred from the fact that Boogie was standing next to Julie Chen that he had won. Judy, foolishly, did not believe me. She should know better. Nevertheless, I rewound the dvr a bit further and proved myself right for Judy's benefit. Disappointment ensued. I swapped out the dvr to see the last few minutes of House through to the end.

I was fully prepared at that point to delete the whole show and never watch the whole thing since as I said I detest Mike Boogie and think he is a disgusting bag o' slime. Judy wanted to see Janelle enter the jury house, though, so I started the episode. We fast forwarded through anything Chen-bot said, and any long speeches that Erica or Boogie made until we came to Janelle's entry into the house. We watched the jury discuss who should win--I agree that as a woman Erica is being held to a different standard than Boogie is--the point Danielle made. Meanwhile, some people are really holding a grudge. ;o) That always makes good tv. It was the question and answer period that really changed my mind though. I hated the way Erica answered the questions. She tried to present herself as being more strategic and more active in the planning and execution of evictions than she really was. How lame is that? She thought that she should win just because she convinced Janelle to vote out Will. That was it--her main claim to fame. Meanwhile, Boogie did the smart thing and challenged the jury to admit that he hadn't acted any differently than they had--just more effectively. His answer to Danielle was masterful. She tried to nail him because he had claimed to her that he would be her "Jason". He came right back at her though--naming all the other players that Danielle had had the same relationship with.

So--it's so bizarre to me because I totally did not want Boogie to win. And yet, I probably would have voted for him myself. He is still a scumbag though.

Primary Election Day in MD

I voted for the first time in Maryland today and boy, is it different than voting in Illinois. In the midwest we're restrained and low-key about electioneering. It's party time in Maryland though--and according to the nice gentleman who chatted with my sister and me while we were in line at the polling place--it can be raucous during a Presidential election. The first big difference was the huge crowd of people just hanging around outside the high school where I voted. As I passed through they pressed lots of election materials on me. I noted all materials were for democrat candidates. Oops. I didn't have the heart to tell them they were wasting their materials on me since I was shortly to vote in the Republican primary. Several very nice people let me take pictures of their t-shirts. The O'Malley/Brown t-shirt picture didn't come out straight which is a shame because the colors and graphics on it were great. (I'm the worst photographer ever, I begin to think.) But the Kwiese Mfume shirt looks super.

The usual array of signs ringed the parking lot. They're not really placed well--I found them hard to read since they all were situated in a different direction. Once inside the high school cafeteria--after we tried several doors to get in (they could put some better signage up on that front) we got in line to check in. Apparently the judges were accessing voter registration records electronically this year and this was a new experience for the judges. Previously they have used the big books that they had to thumb through. Now think about this--what is the average age of election judges based on your past experience? A month past ancient, right? They don't handle new technology very well, so the wait to check in was a few minutes. At the table I had to tell my party affliation. This is because it is a primary vote. Giving this information has never bothered me before since we actually have Republicans in Illinois. Apparently, Republicans are a much rarer breed in Baltimore County. I felt self-conscious and a bit embarrassed. I controlled the urge to tell the ladies that I had voted for Clinton--twice. I'm sorry about that now, no point in using it to win acceptance from strangers. One of the ladies verifying my registration suggested that I volunteer to be a judge since they don't have enough Republican volunteers. Hmm. I associate the job with an old person, so maybe I should volunteer just to bring down the median age. I have the day off since school is dismissed for elections in MD, another new thing for me. It's something to think about.

Meanwhile, I got my receipt and little card thingy to slide into the voting machine--touch screen voter machines here--how exciting. Previously I've only used the infamous punch card system. So after leaving the table with my little card I made my way to a machine. Apparently, this was wrong of me. I gather there was another line I was supposed to get into. Hey--nobody told me! There was an empty machine. I voted. I don't need assistance figuring out how to slide the card in and I can read so the directions were not a problem for me. Unfortunately, some other voters were a teeny bit irritated that I jumped the line. I reiterate--why did we need to be personally escorted to a machine? In Illinois you just went to an empty slot and voted. Is it the touch screen technology? Seems to me you should only have to wait for someone to escort you to a machine if you don't know what you are doing. It would definitely speed up the process, imo.

To pick up more story once more, I'm voting away like the happy little participant in democracy that I am, when Judy comes up to me and asks me how I got on that voting machine. I tell her it was empty and I took it. She chastises me and alerts me to the fact that I have jumped the line. This is distracting and upsetting. I am trying to vote here. Leave me alone! Frankly, she got me a little discombobulated by implying I had committed a grave error. I can hardly remember now how I voted. Usually I check over my ballot to make sure everything is just so but I rushed through that process and now I regret it. After I finished, I confessed my line jumping sin to the judge and she expressed surprise that I was able to successfully vote on the machine that I used because they thought it was broken. Okay--why no sign saying DO NOT USE? It's a moot point I guess since I was able to successfully register my vote, but still--signage is very helpful. So, I got my "I voted" sticker and got the heck out of Dodge.

Sheesh. I needed breakfast at McDonald's to recover from that. Food is a good reward for life's stressful experiences.

Eva meet David

So Eva Longoria isn't going to do any more television series, huh. My mother always said people should wait 'till they're offered something before they turn it down.

"I would never leave `Desperate Housewives,'" Longoria told The Associated Press. "I love doing both (TV and film), but I would never do another TV show after `Desperate Housewives.' No."

Apparently, Eva has never met or spoken to David Caruso. He can tell the tale of what happens to big-headed tv stars who walk out on the series that made them famous and diss tv. Was that six or seven years in the Hollywood wasteland, David? Oh, yeah--and David Caruso can actually ACT. Tsk tsk tsk, Eva Longoria doesn't even have that going for her.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Olympus Fashion Week

I'm really looking forward to catching the collections being shown at Bryant Park during Olympus Fashion Week. You can see the collections here. The website is really improved from last year because when you click on a picture you get a much larger, clearer view of the outfit than previously. I am amazed that some of the designs being shown are not as good as some of the work we've seen by our Project Runway designers who are working under less than ideal circumstances. Seriously, I would expect a "professional" designer who has worked on a collection for half of the year to be able to wow me--and yet I see some bizarre crap that I wouldn't use to dust my furniture. What are they thinking? Apparently, I so do not get "fashion". Shouldn't it be flattering? Wearable? Practical? Washable? Flattering? I think I'm going to start scoring the collections as I review them.

Here's the scale--
10 is fabulous I'd wear this (you know if I could which I can't because I'm not a size 0)
9 is wonderful
8 is great
7 is very good
6 is good
5 is pretty good
4 is okay
3 is whoa
2 is ugh
1 is how did they get a spot in a tent in Bryant Park

Remember the opinions expressed on the blog are purely my own and I don't know what I'm talking about. ;O)

Academy Art University gets a score of 4. The collection is boring/urban with a bland color palette.
Akiko Ogawa gets a score of 7. The collection used lots of white with lacy petticoats. There are pretty pieces.
Alexandre Herchcovitch receives a score of 3. This is a wild, crazy collection with an African theme. The fabrics are whoa--primary colors crazy--it is largely unwearable by regular people.
Alice Roi receives a score of 6. She uses bland colors. The designs are not daring--they are wearable.
Ashish n Soni gets a score of 6. Another pale color palette with lots of baby dolls dresses.
Atil Kutoglu gets a score of 8. More pale colors, however, some pretty wearable pieces.
Baby Phat By Kimora Lee Simmons receives a 7. She has an edgy vibrant look with some wearable pieces. What's with the weird teeth on her models?
BCBG Max Azria gets a score of 6. The collection has a varied color palette (what a relief after all the white so far!) He has lots of loose dresses with and without belts. The belts go inside the waist at the back which reminds me of my mother's old bathrobe which fastened that way.
Brian Reyes scores a 6 as well. His collection has some good pieces but again, boring color palate all neutrals. Is there a neutral rule I don't know about?

Design Star Winner

Moving from the serious to the frivolous. It's hard to do a recap on a reunion show which culminates in a winner. I'll just say that I was a little disappointed with the outcome because I was rooting for Alice. David was certainly a worthy winner and a wonderfully nice guy (even if he did take his shirt off all the time!). I enjoyed the reunion because everything stayed nice and friendly. The special segments that Clive introduced were funny & nice not nasty. (Think about the Project Runway reunions where everyone has been drinking--those get really rancorous!) I'm looking forward to the behind-the-scenes series that we will get to see of David putting his new show together. I wonder what it will be like?

The Anniversary

Five years have passed since the 9-11 attacks. I'm not sure why anniversaries which end in fives are considered more meaningful to people, maybe it's because five years represents half a decade. Like any seminal event, we can't help but reflect on what we were doing on that day.

I was living in East Central Illinois and teaching in a small school district. We didn't have cable hookups in the elementary--the internet was overloaded with traffic--so our only source of news was instant messaging from the mother of the woman with whom I shared a classroom. Being in the midwest, no one had any particular sense of personal threat since it all seemed to be happening on the east coast. Still, we were upset and agitated and it was difficult to concentrate on teaching. I thought that school should have been closed. We had parents calling to ask us what we were doing to keep their children safe. FYI--if I thought MY kids were at risk, I wouldn't be calling to see what the school was doing to keep them safe--I'd be picking them up and keeping them safe myself. Maybe that's just me.

At the end of the day I left and finally got real news in the form of my car radio. Even the music stations had gone to all talk. I remember the station I listened to had a live feed from CBS and I listened to Dan Rather's descriptions of the attacks. I lined up to get gas, because the attack had sparked a panic in the town which led to a huge increase in prices. I think I paid $1.98 a gallon which at the time was outrageous. I was really concerned about the potential for gas shortages because I commuted 80 miles a day round trip. That gas station was later fined for price gouging. Hooyaw! They deserved it.

The next week was spent watching the coverage on all the networks. At first, I couldn't get enough. Finally, the media went past the tipping point of their coverage into the absurd. I've often thought the media milked the story just that tad bit too long so that I didn't appreciate what they were doing any longer. I was just irritated by it. Does that make sense? When there was no new "news" 24 hour a day coverage for 7-8 days after the event--it was time to try to return to normal but the media had difficulty letting go. They enjoy being important too much. Whenever we have a national event, the media bandwagon wants to play for far longer than people want to watch. In light of the today's anniversary that seems a bit harsh, perhaps, but aren't we seeing something of the same thing again in this anniversary coverage? A wallowing in the event which is emotional not informative or factual. Emotion shouldn't take the place of analysis or research. We need to LEARN--not emote. Think about Katrina coverage--or the day JFK Jr.'s plane went missing...or Lacey Peterson. News coverage is essentially media wallowing now.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Feet--Critical to Happiness

I know you will think this post is about a shoe like this...but it's not.

I made a mistake earlier this week. I wore a bad pair of shoes to work. You know the kind--they look good but by 9:00 your feet are saying, "uh uh" this ain't gonna work. By 11:00, you are muttering under your breath because you didn't put an extra pair in the car. By 2:00 you are stepping gingerly, as if you have a rocks in your shoes. By 4:00, you are fantasizing about how you will feel when you take your shoes off the minute you hit your front door.

Thinking about taking the shoes off--usually you only make the mistake of doing that during the work day once in your life and then you learn a powerful lesson about how feet swell and while it's easy to take your feet out, putting them back in is a different story. The bad shoe dilemma reminded me of this important big of sage wisdom: Hurting feet beat everything. If your feet hurt--it is ALL you can think about. Seriously, review your memories. When you have a blister...or your shoes are too tight...or too high...or too too. Can you concentrate? Aren't you constantly aware of the throbbing in your extremities? How much more might women have accomplished through the ages but for suffering intermittently from bad shoes which distracted us.

On that note I was inspired to collect some quotes about feet:

Why isn't there a special name for the tops of your feet?
Lily Tomlin

Feet, why do I need them if I have wings to fly?
Frida Kahlo 1907 - 1954)

No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.
African Proverb

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

Bad news goes about in clogs; good news travels in stocking feet.
Welsh Proverb

A man's feet should be planted in his country; but his eyes should survey the world.
George Santayana (1863 - 1952)

If the riches of the Indies, or the crowns of all the kingdoms of Europe were laid at my feet in exchange for my love of reading. I would spurn them all.
Francois Fenelon

My bad shoe day was actually caused by a shoe like this...unexpected, si?

Happy Birthday Jeri Lynn

It's great to be forty....well, you finish the rhyme! ;o)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Project Runway-Couture Gown

It's a good day when you learn something new. I learned that the French government controls the use of the word 'couture' to describe fashion just like they control the use of the word 'champagne' when describing sparkling wine. Hmm. There you go, day not wasted. Apparently, hand-sewing is a key factor in designating a dress 'couture'. I now realize that my entire childhood was spent wearing couture. My mother was a phenomenal seamstress and she sewed all the clothes my sisters and I wore. She was particularly skilled at buttonholes and making loop closures for buttons by hand. When she finally was able to buy a sewing machine that made the buttonholes for her, it was a happy, happy day. She apparently didn't realize the exclusivity of that hand-sewing or I'm sure she would have continued to do it for the sake of her children. (All my sisters are now laughing their rears off, btw, because my mother was all about speed. Get it done! Hey, she had SIX kids. Oy.)

Meanwhile, our designers are in Paris and get the word that the new challenge will involve creating a couture gown in two days. Oh no! Two days and hand-sewing--the challenges really are getting harder. They have a relatively big budget of $375.00. But first, everyone gets to go out to dinner with Tim. I think dinner with Tim would be worth all the loss of sleep associated with this show. Our designers work hard and voila! dresses are eventually complete.

Vincent wastes so much time that he ends up gluing ribbons and a flower on his dress, he also glues the hem. This is a problem what with hand-sewn hems being one of the hallmarks of couture. Michael decides to ruch his bodice--so what if he's never sewn anything by hand. Nothing? What about mending--doesn't everyone sew little mending jobs by hand? Maybe he's not counting that. Anyway, I'm not sure that this particular moment was a good time to learn to handsew--but hey--that could be just me. Laura elects to create a super simple gown with extravagant collar and cuffs. The collar is so extravagant that she takes a whole day to hand sew it. Unfortunately a day's worth of handsewing looks very similar to an hour's worth of machine sewing to me. Maybe you had to see it up close to fully appreciate it. Jeffrey, continuing to be obnoxious, is convinced that only he is capable of creating a "real" couture gown. Okaayy. Whatever. Kayne makes an elaborate boned corset for his bodice and hand cuts and adds beading and lace. Uli...well...see previous post.

Laura's collar doesn't survive the trip back from Paris with the same exuberance. It also barely survived the dreaded "looks like French maid's outfit" insult.
Kayne keeps getting knocked for having questionable taste. Hmm..I LOVE this gown and I thought it was gorgeous on the runway. What should I infer about my own taste?
Okay, Jeffrey can channel Vivienne Westwood. Yeah, it's audicous. Yeah, his model worked it like nobody's business on the runway. I still don't like the big jerk.
Luscious color, why ruch? And, oh yeah, those weird humps are better tucked under. Is it a good sign or a bad sign when the judges improve your design with a simple tuck? Michael still rocks though.

I've always wanted to wear curtain material as a skirt. And why does the top have to be cute? Is that like, a rule in couture? Poor deluded Vincent--still utterly convinced in Vincent-land that he should be in the finals.

So last nights show? Auf outcome: satisfactory. Winner: ugh. Who will make the final? I'm still predicting Laura, Michael, and hoping for Kayne. Come on...admit it...wouldn't you love love love to see what he might put out there in a collection? Viva Las Kayne? An Elvis/Las Vegas blend of exuberance and excess with beautiful construction. Next week: the Olsen twins if the preview is to be believed. Gosh, the designers should be able to go ape on material--after all--how much fabric is needed to cover an Olsen twin? Like a yard and a half? ;o)

Project Runway-Uli Analysis

Before I recap last night's PR, I'd like to run through Uli's PR design history. I feel compelled to do this with Uli, because I did it last season with Santino. I ragged on Santino quite a bit for this same sin. I thought he was re-using his ideas/styles/dress forms and it wouldn't be fair to Santino if I didn't point out that Uli has created variations of the same dress in most of the challenges. I was happy last week when the judges finally called her on it. However, this week she got kudos for her couture gown and it was more of the same-same that she's been making, as I hope my run-through will show.

In episode one which was designed using the furnishings and supplies in the apartment, she created a white halter neck, empire waisted dress from the sheets and she accented the neckline with bright yellow bobbles of some sort.

In episode 2 designing in a team for Miss USA, Uli created a halter neck, empire waisted evening dress with twisty straps in a chocolate brown.For episode 3 when creating a dog/owner outfit for a socialite, Uli made a halter dress with an empire waist. She paired the dress with a short brown jacket. Note the use of two contrasting fabrics--one of which is an animal print.
In episode 5 (Episode 4 was the Macy's team challenge.) Uli was given Diana Ross as a Style Icon. She designed a halter neck dress with cross straps, in a dark purple print that was reminiscent of tiger strips. She added ruching at the hips/waist.
In episode 6, using recycled materials, Uli braided a white strapless gown with an empire waist. The skirt looks ruched in the photo but the pieces were braided together to create that effect.
In episode 7, Uli designed a pants outfit for Kayne's mother. Notably, she used a beautiful chiffon print for the top which was edged in an animal print fabric.

For episode 8, designing for a jetsetter, Uli created a halter neck, empire waist gown in vibrant prints. The straps of the halter are twisty.
For episode 9, designing a couture quality gown, Uli created a halter neck, empire waist gown in a lavender shade. The bodice was squared (new look) with lace, The straps of the halter were braided as was the belt which hung down the back of the dress.

I wish we had front and back views of the designs on PR website because I'm pretty sure that the purple/Diana Ross dress had some kind of braided something that hung down the back as well.

Looking at all her designs sequentially, I think it is clear that Uli re-uses the halter neck empire waist design a lot. She's also fond of twisting or braiding the straps and belt as accents. She's inspired in her use of fabrics and that is a theme for her. My point--Uli is talented but she has not stepped outside her comfort zone any more than say, Laura, has. I'm not sure that I believe Uli deserves a spot in the final three--happily, I don't have to actually pick--I can just opine.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Celebrities Narcissistic? Gasp!

Here's a newsflash for us--just think how clueless we'd all be if it weren't for research money being spent on topics like this.

USC Study: Celebrities Really Are More Narcissistic Than the General

Celebrities have more narcissistic personality traits than the general population, and people with narcissistic tendencies seem to be attracted to the entertainment industry rather than the industry creating narcissists, according to a groundbreaking study conducted by researchers Drew Pinsky of the Keck School of Medicine of USC and S. Mark Young of the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

..."Narcissists generally crave attention, are overconfident of their abilities, lack empathy, and can evince erratic behavior," said Pinsky, who is an assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at USC. "However, they are also well-liked, especially on first meeting, are extroverted and perform well in public."

Welcome Judy

After months of nagging Judy to stop venting just to me--and to start blogging, she has finally accepted my invitation to post at Banter Basement. That takes some of the pressure off of me and gives my reader more frequent new posts. Unfortunately, Judy and I are twins so most of our opinions and many of our interests are the same so I can't say that the blog will have more diversity. Just more words.

Celebrity Hair Extensions

Now that I've joined forces with Robin to blog together instead of separately, I feel the need to bring some of my posts over here to Banter Basement for everyone to enjoy instead of just Robin, since she was the only one I know for sure ever read my short-lived blog. So here goes:

I'm a short-haired woman so I will admit that just maybe I'm coming at this from a very personal view point but I hate the Hollywood obsession with hair extensions. Having just read this week's crop of lifestyle magazines I am once again disgusted by the scaggy, disgusting uncombed hair that today's hottest celebrities sport. As hair goes, it is usually so unattractive that I sometimes wonder if the hairstylists in Hollywood aren't putting one over on the young Hollywood starlets with their own private hair version of the Emperor has no Clothes. Let me be that kid who says what everyone is thinking in the story--take the following examples:

The Simpsons sisters have their good points. But hair ain't one of them. These girls need to look in the mirror before they leave the house. Just got out of bed head looks like...I just got out of bed!

Take this shot of Lindsay Lohan. Hello! The clue phone is ringing but nobody in her posse will pick up. All I can do is just leave a voice mail: "Hey, your ugly layers are showing!" What I can't figure out is how can these celebrities be so rich and look so bad?

This Olson twin looks like a homeless person. Now a homeless person's life is tough. They don't have a home or usually a brush. What is MaryKate Ashley's excuse? "Ooh dear, my brush broke and I'm all out of million dollar bills! Whatever shall I do?"

I grew up in the sixties and there used to be these fashion dolls Crissy and her cousin Velvet. Each doll had a button in her tummy and a knob on her back and out of the top of her head sprouted a rope of hair that grew! Press the tummy button and pull the hair rope and you could give you doll hair that fell to her feet. Turn the knob and all the hair would twist up into her head and then her hair was shoulder-length. Around her face there was always chin length hair so many painstaking hours were spent integrating the permanent chin-length hair with the rope from the top of her head. My Velvet doll was given away years ago to an orphanage in Mexico. In a moment of madness in my thirties, I saw a Velvet doll in a shop selling collectibles and I bought one. I keep her stored in a plastic container in my closet. While thinking about this hair extensions craze I realized, Eureka! These starlets have Velvet head!

I rest my case.