Nov 30, 2006

Project Runway One: All Mixed Up

As I watched this PR1 episode (5) for the second time, I wondered: Did our marvelously talented Austin Scarlett confuse the design challenge from one week to the next?

This shiny green creation would have suited Sarah Hudson -- the one-hit wonder from Episode four--far better than the frilly white Marie Antoinette gown she rejected. Did Austin really think that this, er, dress (for want of a better word) with the bulky bird tail bustle was a serious contender for the wedding gown competition? Did he not notice the divine gowns Kara and Jay were making? Even lackadaisical Robert was stepping up to the plate and taking the competition seriously for once. And La Pepper (oh, please stop me from gagging) also sewed a better gown.

Austin, who eventually went on to design this creation for the Kenneth Pool bridal collection, should have known better!

I'm convinced he got his weekly challenges mixed up and that he meant to submit this frilly frou frou confection for the wedding challenge instead.

For more about Project One and the funniest recaps, click on Project Rungay and Eric Three Thousand.

You can also listen to Tim Gunn and Austin at Mood in this very short sound bite.

Top Chef 2 Withdrawal Symptoms

Wed, Nov, 29
10:05 PM EST
I keep channel surfing to Bravo, restless to see my friends Marcel, Mickey, Sam, and Elia cook and interact again, but I can't find them.

10:08 PM EST
I'm even craving a sight of Betty's big mouth. I want, nay, I NEED to see what dreadful outfits Padman and Gail are wearing.

10:09 PM EST
Mia. Cliff, Ilan, Frank. WHERE ARE YOU?

10:10 PM EST
Am beginning to pace back and forth from my television to my kitchen, itching to turn on my stove's burners and place pots of water on them. Wait, my stove is brand new. It's only there for show. Damn you, Bravo! Sweat is starting to form on my brow. I need my TC2 fix. WAAAAH!

10:15 PM EST
Have been visiting my favorite TC2 blogs and am feeling some relief. Eric 3000 is still silent but Amuse-Biatch wrote something new. Thanks Miss XaXa and Charlus.

10:18 PM EST
Am flicking channels again. Food channel is not staving off TC2 cravings and Hell's Kitchen won't return to the air waves for months.

10:20 PM EST
Sheez, now I'm hungering for repeats of The Restaurant, and I can barely stand Rocco DeSpirito's camera hogging.

10:21 PM EST
My hands are trembling. My lips are dry. I'm even willing to watch Billy Joel's wooden-faced child bride again!

10:25 PM EST
Situation getting desperate. Have opened up a lovely Pinot Noir and am planning to guzzle it down.

10:30 PM EST
Bottle of wine half gone and feeling mellow. Will search through my stash of DVDs and VHS tapes for solace.

Thurs, Nov 30
12:30 AM EST

Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Just finished watching Mostly Martha (Bella Martha) for the 100,000th time. Martha's still a repressed German broad, but she's a genius in the kitchen. Sergio Castellito as the amorous Italian chef can cook my goose any time. I played Paolo Verde's Via Von Me on my Ipod. (Click on italicized words if you'd like to listen to this European song.) Who knew that Paolo's music can make food look and taste better?

The seduction scene in the kitchen is so erotic even though they keep their clothes on and barely touch. No wait, the most erotic scene was when the camera panned lovingly over all those mouth-watering dishes bubbling on the stove.

Thank you, Mostly Martha! You saved the day again, even with your English subtitles. You had it all: Humor, pathos, romance, & food, glorious food.

If you haven't seen this movie yet, gentle reader, rent it NOW, before the Hollywood types completely ruin it with their remake. Catherine Zeta Jones as the quietly beautiful but uptight Martha ? I think not!

Nov 29, 2006

Seriously Speaking: Lost Boys of the Sudan

Two Lost Boys live with me. One is 22 years old; the other is 25. They escaped the horrors of the Sudan when they were tiny children. Both survived such unspeakable tragedies that they rarely talk of them. Nightmares of watching their parents and siblings die and villages burn, and of barely surviving a 2,000 mile trek first to Ethiopia and then to Kenya in bare feet without food or water haunt them. Years of living in refugee camps have sapped their strength, their teeth, their bones, and their overall health.

Manyang and Ayuen came to me through Catholic Charities two years ago. They arrived in America as teenagers thinking they were coming to the land of freedom and dreams, only to find that when they came of age and had to leave their foster homes, life in the U.S. became so much tougher than they ever anticipated. All I can really give them is a small shelter from the storm that rages around them.

To all who observe them they are grown men. But when you get to know them, they are little lost boys. Without parents. Without country. Without a proper education or the network of support that we all take for granted.

They work doubly hard so that they can send half their earnings to friends and countrymen left behind in the refugee camps, and fall exhausted into their beds every night. Our fast-paced materialistic culture bewilders them on so many levels. Committed to saving their friends and families, they cannot afford movies or restaurants or frivolous toys and possessions.

So as we all plan our joyful celebrations for the holidays, let's not forget the millions who died or are starving. Let's not forget Darfur and the ethnic cleansing that is still going on there. Thank you for reading.

And the Coppertone Whitest Woman Award Goes To...

In 1994, I lay for an hour under an umbrella by the pool on top of a hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka, my body slathered with 60 SFP sunblock lotion and my head covered with a wide brimmed hat. My pale Dutch skin aged a decade during that hour, and I’ve not sunbathed since. The spots that appeared on my arms and hands that day are still visible. And I count myself lucky for having thoroughly covered my face.

Some women are already aware of the dangers of ultra violet rays to their skin and I salute them. In fact, these three celebrities are so white they must glow in the dark. Thus, the Coppertone Whitest Woman Award goes to...

Nicole Kidman:Whitest woman bar none. She is notorious for always wearing sunblock, even on ordinary days.

It was a close contest, as you can see by the honorable mentions:

Bernadette Peters: She’s past fifty but looks at least two decades younger.

Julianne Moore: A pale redhead with freckles, I cannot imagine her with a tan.

Special recognition to the women of Iceland: For being as pale as the ice caps receding on their land.

These women must have taken heed from Brigitte Bardot, the once lovely French actress who was notorious for her love of the Mediterranean sun, and who slowly mummified in front of our eyes. To be fair, Brigitte must now be in her 70's. But compare her photo to Sophia Loren's (on this site) and there's no mistaking the difference in the way these two women have aged.

Nov 28, 2006

Podcast Junkie: Grey's Anatomy

Download Frequency: Once a week, seven days after the last television airing of a new Grey's Anatomy. Podcasts are free. Subscribe at Grey's Anatomy.

Content:Executive Producers Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers talk and chat about their favorite t.v. show like two girlfriends over a glass of Pinot Noir in their living room. Very cozy. Quite personal. You can even hear phones ringing in the background.

You don't have to download a podcast into your MP3 player in order to hear it. Select an episode, double click on the words, and listen while you work on your computer. This is my rating system:
Two ear buds: Highly Recommended
One ear bud: Ok, but needs improvement
No ear bud : Don’t bother downloading

My Critique: Shonda and Betsy discuss Grey's Anatomy like nobody's business, giving us depth, color, and background. I have grown to like this podcast, which reminds me of water cooler conversations at work. Because Shonda and Betsy produce the show, they know the plot and characters intimately. Some of us aren't quite yet tired of Meredith, who's in love with McDreamy, a man who comes with baggage, namely an ex-wife who works in the same hospital. Others of us are waiting for McSteamy to don and doff that tiny towel again.

Other links: Grey's Anatomy Insider

Length: Each podcast lasts from 14 to 23 minutes.

Rating: Two Ear Buds. I say, download them while you can!

Nov 27, 2006

Eye Candy

Our choice this week is Clive Owen. . . Because we loved him as a con in Greenfingers, a movie few people saw but that he made worth seeing. He's rough on the outside, tender on the inside, and totally cravable.

Because as King Arthur he became the epitome of what a man should look like in leather. Switch his horse to a Harley and he'd still look studly.

Because all the houseguests and their actions in Gosford Park revolved around his character, and he held his own against such consummate actors as Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Alan Bates, and Jeremy Northam.

Because he made a fabulous villain in the Bourne Identity. Even those nerdy glasses could not hide his hunkiness.

Because he's the thinking female's hunk. And we love his ugly handsomeness, or handsome ugliness.

Let's face it: He's just plain talented. And if we met him at a bar, well, no holds barred.

Nov 21, 2006

Kinda Like an Insane Asylum: Project Runway One, Episode Four

This post is dedicated to the Project RunGay Guys, Tom & Lorenzo, for managing to entertain us with witty recaps of Project Runway and other sundry topics day after day. How they and Eric Three Thousand manage to do it, I haven't a clue. Thanks, Guys. Once upon a time in the Happy Kingdom of Parson's in the era of Project Runway Season One, all was right with the world. Birds sang, bees buzzed, and all the designers got along, sometimes even frolicking with each other. But then in Episode Four, bad witch Sarah Hudson, singer of Girl on the Verge, chose only three designers to create her new rock concert gown, causing strife in the Kingdom.

The first chosen designer was Jay, who tra-la-lahed with glee and boasted that the bad witch had the hots for him 'cause "She picked his ass!"

The second chosen designer was Austin, who, overcome by the opportunity to provide a little "frou-frou Bo-pee pee edge" to the witch's outfit, squeezed his pecs with delight.

The third chosen designer was Kevin, who whispered with shy but becoming coyness, "I thought I was too soft spoken."

Kevin got to choose a team member first and he chose Nora, she of the Glamazon-Mohawk do. And in the next round he chose Alexandra, she with the voice that is seldom heard.

And all was still right with the Happy Kingdom of Parson's. Nora the Glamazon proclaimed, "I don't think I'm gonna rub Kevin the wrong way. I think we make a good team." (And, frankly, gentle readers, we don't think that Kevin can be rubbed the wrong way either.)

Kevin and Alexandra nodded in agreement.

But then Kevin made one tiny, minuscule mistake: He actually believed he was the team leader. He whipped out his design and softly ventured to say,
"What I am aiming for...what I a kind of, you know, control out of control."

"Whatever," Nora said, glancing disdainfully at Kevin's pattern pieces, which were the size of Manhattan. She was still ticked that her "run through the chandelier" idea had not been embraced by the bad witch, "Just so you remember, Kevin, I NEVER forget details. Oh, and I bust balls too!"

"Uh, oh," whispered Kevin, beginning to look just a teensie bit worried. He handed Nora a strip of white fabric, asking her to cut it for his poofy skirt and then shred it.

She yanked it from him.
"Kevin, we need to stop with these niggly details. Or we're gonna LOSE this competition!

Kevin hung his head. All he could muster was a weak "Thanks." He wanted to sound sarcastic, but he dared not for fear of setting her off.

All his attempts were for naught. Kevin left the room for only a minute, Austin's Bo pee pee remark having triggered his bladder. And when he returned, the Happy Kingdom of Parson's was no more.

Nora had turned into a raging Road Runner Bitch, darting hither and yon, overturning work tables and prying up floorboards searching for one of Kevin's humongous pattern pieces which, she screeched, was "F--KING* missing! It's disappeared off the face of the earth. Somebody...everybody... except me...even though I was the last person to fondle that pattern...IS RESPONSIBLE!"

"How can you lose a pattern piece the size of Manhattan in the short time I took to Bo pee pee?" Kevin ventured.

Alexandra simply stared at Kevin, struck by his wise remark. Why hadn't she thought of that? Nora had made her think she was partly responsible and here she'd been helping her overturn heavy tables and pry up floor boards with her bare hands and ruining her nails in the process. Well, Bitch can put everything back herself and pay for her manicure!

The other designers could not contain their glee. Oh, boy, they thought in unison, Team Kevin is gonna lose for sure. Oh boy oh boy oh boy! They would have danced around the Maypole if those chintzy Project Runway producers had supplied them with one. It was bad enough their models weren't being paid, and that all of them were eating gruel, but to provide no Maypole in the Kingdom of Parson's? How cheap can a production company get?

"Quick, somebody give her a Valium!" cried Jay in alarm when the raving Road Runner Bitch turned her sights on Queen Kara and began to accuse that model of perfection of stealing the pattern piece, then accusing them all. Queen Kara tried to reason with Nora in a soothing voice, but to no avail.

Then Vanessa volunteered, "I'll sing her a lullaby. That should shut her the *F--K* up!"

After listening to Vanessa's falsetto for exactly .03 seconds, our raving Road Runner Bitch inexplicably mutated into a crying squalling baby. "WAAAH! I wanna go HOME. I'm too good for this!"

Whereupon Vanessa instantly stopped singing and declared, "This is a total NUT farm!"

(If you think I exaggerate, gentle reader, just
click on these words and judge for yourself.)

The inestimable Tim Gunn took this moment to enter the Kingdom of Parson's. Oblivious to the unfolding drama he zeroed in on Team Jay's black leather bustier fringed with black feathers and declared, "Wow, this is a work of art in itself. Incredible!" Then Tim disappeared, silent as a spectre, for his sage words were not much required in Season One.

Jay's unabashed crowing triggered another outburst from Bitch Baby. "I'm only 22 years old and I've got more talent in my hangnail than the lot of you thrown together. I won competitions in college, I tell ya! I'm gonna be a Design Star!" "
Uh, oh," she thought, wishing she had not blurted out those last words. "Wrong show, wrong channel. Heidi might bitch-slap me for making that statement and then I might get auf'd!" Her upper lip began to quiver.

"Oh, stuff it up your Mohawk!" exclaimed Queen Kara, having had it up to her weave with the dramatics.

Whereupon Bitch Baby raced out of the room wailing and moaning like ten banshees under a full moon.

Kevin and Alexandra heaved great gulping sighs of relief.

"We've got three seconds to finish the outfit, think we can do it?"
asked Kevin timidly.

Sure, said Alexandra, plucking her backbone from amongst the ruined tables and putting it on.
Let's git er' done!

In the last millisecond of the competition and afraid she was gonna be trumped by that weenie Alexandra and all those other lousy, talentless, good for nothing designers, Bitch Baby stopped sniffling and sped back inside the room. "I lost my cool on purpose. I knew you and Kevin didn't have spines or talent so I had to do SOMETHING to push you into my sphere of greatness," she shouted.

Ha ha, tee hee, sniggered Kevin and Alexandra, for Bitch Baby's power had been broken. They then turned their backs on her and finished the job in the blink of an eye.

"Yeah, whatever," said Bitch Baby to no one in particular. Then she whined, "No one will care if I'm gone."

"For once," declared Queen Kara, "we're in agreement!" Bitch Baby hissed and extended her claws, but Queen Kara smote her with a steely glare.

Looking on, Lolly Pepper smiled broadly. "Oh goodie, these fruitcakes have taken the pressure off me," she thought. She was still angry that the bad witch Sarah Hudson had dismissed her rocker outfit, though she recalled her sales pitch fondly: "Everything is see-through. Think classic erotic pornographic lingerie."

We now fast forward to the runway competition, where Team Austin's zany model Morgan strutted down the runway like Marie Antoinette entertaining a thousand of her closest and dearest friends at Versailles.

"Ooooh, ick! This is seriously ugly," thought the wicked witch Sarah Hudson, not really into frilly skirts or House on the Prairie ringlets, but marveling that Team Austin had accomplished so much in a short time. "I don't wanna get my head auf'd wearing that reedeeculous outfit while singing at some seedy bar. Michael Richards could stop by and steal my thunder." And she shook her head no at Austin's design.

Austin was already distraught about La Pepper's betrayal and for ratting out Loony Vanessa. Still thinking that his design was a "glorious masterpiece," he collapsed in a puddle of Queen Tears.

Vanessa momentarily considered committing Hara-Kiri after confessing to the judges that she was the worst sewer ever in the history of womankind. But then she rejected the idea for being too painful.

The second model to come strutting down the runway was the hot, underaged Melissa, who was wearing Kevin's Edwardian look.

"Melissa, baby, you look like a rock star!" Kevin crowed, but nobody heard him (or agreed with him, for that matter, except bad witch Sarah.)

Bitch Baby watched Melissa move down the runway in total surprise. "That dress looked great. I mean I don't even know how," she explained to the judges, "
I mean, I feel I had to help Kevin along. The experience of being frazzled kept me going."

After Judges Ninotchka and Mickey picked themselves off the floor from laughing, they asked Kevin, "So how did you deal with the Bitch?

"I slapped her silly and then I sat on her," said Kevin in his weeniest voice.

"Collaboration and team building, that's what this competion's all about," intoned Mickey before bursting in giggles again.

Erin, the last model to walk down the runway, represented Team Jay. Not only did she rock the casbah, her outfit SCREAMED rock and roll!
But bad witch Sarah would have none of it. The design was so spot on that she would have had to match her talent to that outfit. Jay's design outmatched her voice and for that he could not win.

And so it was decreed that Kevin was the winner, and that either Nora or Vanessa, the two bottom dwellers, would be the next to go.

"Me and my damned verbal diarrhea," Vanessa thought ruefully. "I shoulda taken some Pepto Bismol and kept my friggin' mouth shut!"

When the judges asked about her lack of team work, Nora blustered,
"The meltdown was good. I saved Kevin's ass by making him do work."

The judges consulted for a goodly five seconds before aufing Vanessa, who took their decision like a man!

After his win, Kevin finally managed a smile, for he had found his spine under that humongous misplaced pattern piece. "Bitch better be auf'd soon," he said in a voice so strong it was heard across the Kingdom of Parson's.

The designers all nodded in agreement, and all was right in their Kingdom again.


Auf'd: Vanessa Riley Winner: Kevin Johnns

Closet Musings: Or What I Wear at the Office

Most days my favored mode of dress resembles Uli Herzner's, the runner up of Project Runway 3: no makeup, straight blond hair, and casual relaxed clothes. In fact, I look forward to casual Fridays, because this outfit echoes just what I would wear to work that day.

But there are times when I have to look spot on at the office and represent my company in front of the managers I oversee, or when I travel, which is frequently, or at meetings and conferences. I share Laura Bennett's philosophy: It is better to own a few good pieces than a lot of ill made clothes.

And then there's the problem of finding age-appropriate outfits. I am a tweenie: neither young nor old. However, I am not ready to join Pepto Bismol land. Here's an example of the sack suit that so many of my colleagues deem appropriate after they've had a few children. I don't want to look like my grandmother: I want to look like a vibrant woman who is at her peak of power and femininity, while maintaining a certain authoritative air.

I am also not thin, but neither am I too heavy, which puts me in limbo land as far
as the designers are concerned. And my budget is hugely limited. Which totally puts me in the dog house, since most suits within my budget make me look like a miniature man or a model out of the L.L. Bean Catalogue.

So what's a single girl on the prowl to do? Why, ask her gorgeously clad, perfectly coiffed, ultra smooth and sophisticated friend Marcie for advice. And here is what she said:

1. Look for fit and proportion. The suit on the left will always look dowdy. It just isn't proportioned for fabulousness. The suit on the right (which resembles a recent purchase I made at Marshall's for only $150) looks sexy without being cheap, and authoritative without being Victorian.

2. Look for excellent quality fabric. This suit will never cut it. Beside being blah in color, the fabric has no structure. I would be self-conscious about those puckers once I noticed them and the saggy design. This suit would probably hang in my closet after I'd worn it once.

3. Know what will make you feel good. This outfit is too young and would send out the wrong signals, besides which, it would accentuate my small hips and large waist. I'd be more concerned about my mid section than my monthly presentation. However, on some women and in some office situations, this ensemble would be entirely appropriate.

4. Know your colors! This suit has it all: fabric, fit, color (perfect for a blond with fair skin), and proportion. I would probably get a job if I wore this suit at an interview. And observe the cuffs. Nice touch.

5. Choose incredibly beautiful, well made fabrics. When I saw this vintage designer suit online, my mouth watered. The fabric is similar to something I bought recently. If I'd been able to purchase this suit under $300, I would have. Look at those contrasting cuffs and lapels and the length of the jacket, which would hide a host of figure flaws. Absolutely fabulous.