Friday, February 29, 2008

Golly Peepers

Interesting times with The Child these days. You know how she was in academic arrears with all sorts of missing assignments and freaking out about high school? Well, since she got her letter of acceptance to Second Choice she's been diddling around on the make-up work. Every day it's a new excuse...I left it at school...I could have sworn I brought it...I have the worksheet but I need my textbook...which is at school... But of course, anytime she was chastised, disciplined, or restricted for such excuses I'd get the quiver lip and a wounded "why are you pressuring me" thing.

Pressuring? No, that would apply to the parents who publicly reamed their daughter for not getting into the all-girl school they intended for her since birth. Pressure is demanding all As all the time.

But apparently, in the mind of a 14 year old, "pressure" is also defined as having to turn in assignments, having to study for tests, having to make up missing work.

We're the worst parents in the world. Waa waa.

The other morning I asked her why she wasn't taking this more seriously. Didn't she want to get into First Choice? "I don't know about that anymore," she replied. Ah ha! Of course she wants to go to First Choice. She's been talking about it for 2 years. She loved it when she toured. But now that the pressure is off, now that she's been admitted to Second Choice, she's taking the path of least resistance. Why work her butt off for First Choice when she has a school, right?

Except that all high school admittance is predicated on the assumption that one's grades will be as good or better than they were in the first trimester. If she starts pulling Ds and Cs again, Second Choice isn't going to want her, either. So even if there was a sea change in her choice, she still has to step it up. (Funny. Once this was pointed out to her, First Choice was back in the running).

Bottom line, she is now grounded until the work is done. Until she makes up all her missing assignments she is not going anywhere and no one is coming here. She gets no television, no computer usage (except for school work) and is this close to losing her iPod and cell phone. If she hasn't made up her assignments by the end of the weekend, not only is she grounded for the rest of the trimester but she's going to be pulled out of volleyball.

Sing it with me: we're the worst parents in the world. Wa wa.

We now pause for this important message:

Wow. That handheld camera thing is unsettling, isn't it? Also, there is a top to my head.

Anywhine, just when I was ready to knock her into next week (a line I used, btw) she got all compliant and perky. I hate when she does that. There I was, with a good ol' mad on and she starts getting the message. Rats.

From the day she was born, The Child has pushed boundaries. She never met a rule or restriction that didn't look ripe for the fighting. The bulk of our parenting has been spent holding the line against her fierce determination. Once she realizes we really aren't going to budge this time either, she relaxes into the knowledge that the world is as safe as we can make it and she has only to cooperate to find some peace and satisfaction in her existence. It's a crazy game. But I'm very clear that all her energy and will simply must be channelled for good and not evil. If we don't teach her how to work within constraints, how to pick her battles, how to use her energies to accomplish her dreams rather than thwart them, then we have failed. Her strong will can be a tremendous asset, but only if she learns how to regulate it. And that is our job.

Right. So later in the evening we had to tell her some bad news. Her long-planned trip to France has been put on hold for a year. Her "host family" is going through a difficult patch right now and we've determined that it is selfish of us to impose The Child on them at this time. I was braced for quite a hullabaloo but when she was presented with the facts of the case she was completely understanding and showed a ton of empathy for our friends and what they are dealing with. In other words, she could have looked at it entirely in terms of how it affected her but she didn't.

The Spouse and I gave each other a high five later; stuff like that almost makes you think you're doing a decent job as a parent. And we have to celebrate those moments when we get them.

Wish me luck this weekend. I expect it could get rather loud around here. Crockery may be heaved. I should make sure we have gin in the house.

Meanwhile, here's a song by another determined young lady.

Avril Lavigne "I'm With You"

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Project Last Chance

We begin with Heidi and Tim congratulating Christian, Jillian, Rami and Chris on making it this far. Christian and Jillian will, of course, be showing at Fashion Week. Rami and Chris still have to prove themselves one last time. Each designer would be given $8000 and 5 months to complete 12 looks for the final runway. The lovebirds still need to show their 3 strongest looks to the judges before they'd know who will show and who would be in the audience biting his nails and filling out wedding registry forms.

The Gunn reminded them that they will be showing to the "largest, most influential" audience in the world so they'd better "make it work". Then they all went to the rooftop for some Moët Chandon and giggles. Personally, I prefer Veuve Cliquot.

Rami declared himself to be "very confident" about his ability to create winning looks. Teddybear Chris said he would do his best and see what happens.

Then came one of my favorite parts of any PR season, Tim Gunn's home visits. We're always treated to pictures of the designers as little muffins, meet their families and friends and get a glimpse at how they live and work in real life.

First up was Christian, who lives and works in a "little box" of a room (which was also as neat as a pin) in New York. He showed Tim his "romantic gothic" collection. There ensued much brow furrowing by The Gunn. He told Christian that he had "a lot of look" and needed to edit himself. (Christian did have some sort of Big Bird motif going on, including a pair of feathered pants that were freakishly wonderful). Tim left him with the stirring parting words: "Work hard, think harder".

Also, while we saw a photo of Christian's sister, we didn't meet anyone. Could it be that Fiercey McFierceman doesn't have any friends? Naw. Probably just camera shy.

Off to see Jillian, who also lives in NY. Tim, who was wearing some awesome pinstripe trousers, btw, described her look as "really compelling" and said it showed both "femininity and strength" although her palette was a little "cloudy day".

She took him off to Long Island where he was welcomed with great joy by her family. Jillian's mom said that before she married she had been told by a clairvoyant that she'd have 3 children and one of them would be famous. Jillian informed us that she's always known she was destined for greatness and would achieve it because she wouldn't settle for anything else. Girlfriend seriously believes in herself. Right on.

Tim then wended his way to LA, where Rami lives. Rami totally looks like his mom, btw. She was Miss Jordan and died when he was 5 but he gets along swimmingly with his step-mom and shared that his parents had always been extremely supportive of his designing, blah blah blah. He has nice friends. They gave Tim wine and cheese.

Rami has a "phenomenal" work space (with his name over the door in big ass letters). He said his collection was inspired by Joan of Arc. Tim suggested that it looks a little "hammered and nailed" and described one item as "a heavy effing coat". He told Rami to "pull it back a bit". Rami then told the camera that he trusts Tim's judgement but he's also confident about his vision. Whatev. I like him best when his eyes are brimming with love for Chris.

Finally, Tim is back in New York visiting Chris in his "great" workspace. He told Tim that his inspiration was "95% fashion, 5% costume" and he mused about the deep philosophical question of how his costume design experience translates into serious fashion. Well, sure.

Chris' big thing was trimming some of his designs with human hair, which prompted the agog Gunn to gasp, "I feel my gag reflex kicking in". But, and it's a big but, he was quickly captivated by the way it was used. (And before y'all start going, "Gross! Gross! That's sick and wrong, not to mention if people are donating hair for fashion shouldn't they just give it to Locks of Love and help all the little sick children?" let me just remind you that wool is essentially hair, that fur is essentially hair (and don't pile on about that, either...I'm making a point here), and there is plenty of historical reference for it's use (hairshirts for monks, jewelry for the Victorians). It's been done, people. And frankly, there was something grossly superfantastic about some of those lustrous locks. (Clearly the donors use Prell).

Tim had a funny bit, describing the hair thing as like being in a monkey house. When you first enter you're overwhelmed by the smell. After a half hour it's not so bad and after an hour it doesn't smell at all. "Chris, you've been in the monkey house too long!" he declared. He cautioned him only that he really needed to wow the judges and make them beg for more.

Then Chris took The Gunn off to meet friends, who were ensconced in the most gilded, cherub infested tribute-to-all-things-rococo joint any of us have ever seen. Tim was all astonishment. He had a delightful time with all of Chris' larger-than-life friends and Chris opined that he'd gotten into fashion to "add laughter and fun to the world". Somebody hug him.

Cut to the end of the 5 months. All the designers, giving variations on the "this is nerve-wracking" theme, return to the Gotham apartments. Jillian and Christian are roomies ("Are you going to be nice to me?" "Are you going to be nice to me?"). Rami and Chris are roomies. (Well, duh).

They all had beers and happy times, although Jillian and Christian obviously had more fun, what with not having to worry about where all this was ultimately leading. You could see the tension on the faces of the other boys.

D(esign) Day
The next day they enter a spanking clean, huge workroom, where there are only 3 more reminder that someone is being auf'ed. Chris and Rami have 3 hours to fit and fluff their 3 looks and they are given helpers, Jillian with Rami, Christian with Chris. (Chris: "Do you want to brush the dress?" Christian: "Ummmmm....'k....").

Heidi met the boys on the runway, telling them that "we believe in both of you and hope you blow us away". Rami showed first. He said that his hope was to show new techniques and prove to the judges that he could do more than drape, creating a collection that was "both feminine and strong".

Look 1 - ok. Look 2 - meh.

Look 3 - rather lovely.

But Lorraine, you say, where is this meh Look 2 of which you speak? That is a very good question. I will tell all in a moment.

As Chris' models start walking we hear a voice over of him saying that he loved exploring the "dark side" of beauty and enjoyed having the time and money to really create clothes that were a reflection of his creativity.

Look 1 - gorgeous. The skirt, my friends, is crafted of black chrome safety pins.

Look 2 - loved it.

Look 3 - great dress.

The "Judging"

Chris told the judges his collection was inspired by the notion of "dark, romantic goth". (Quick! Someone get my old Cure records). Nina (I think it was Nina) said the human hair was "creepy but you thought outside of the box". They were wowed by the safety pin skirt. Kors wasn't so fond of the evening gown, noting that the model couldn't move well in it and describing it as "a velvet condom". Ouch. Heidi opined that his looks were very creative then asked why he deserved to be at fashion week. Chris said he felt he brought a point of view that was outside the fashion world.

Rami said that one of the defining points of his inspiration was the need to prove that he could construct as well as drape clothes. The judges were gaga for the dress in look 2 (which was, ironically, more or less draped) but hated the big effing coat atop it. (But wait, you say, I still haven't seen that look. I know, I say). Nina thought his evening gown was "a fantasy". And she said that in a gaga way.

When asked why he should go to Fashion Week, Rami said that he welcomed the opportunity to gain a wider audience. In other words, it was all about the marketing opportunity for him versus Chris' view that he had something unique to offer to fashion. Hmmm. Why does that remind me of the Democratic candidates?

The Pow-Wow
The judges conferred, noting that both collections were very dark and Kors said he felt they were both "overly designed and overly complicated". Has he been to Fashion Week? Do we not understand the nature of couture? Again I say, "Whateve top American fashion designer Michael Kors in your black tshirt, jeans and jacket".

They were all tinkly about the fact that Rami didn't send down "3 Grecian goddesses in a row". On the other hand, they found Chris' work to be creative and intriguing, though Kors still thought it was too costumey. Nina argued that many great designers began their careers in costume design and it was a completely valid starting point. But they were concerned that the designs overall were dark and overworked.

The final summation was that while Chris proved himself to be "incredibly creative", Rami showed a "different and refined POV" and he was declared the winner.

The judges are frakking idiots. I want to slap Michael Kors.

This morning I wanted to slap him even harder. I went to the New York Magazine site to get photos of the clothes, since the pictures on the Bravo website were close-ups and didn't display the whole ensemble. And that's when I made a very interesting discovery. Rami's Look 2, the one I didn't show? Yeah, he apparently didn't show it, either. That's right. The dress with the horrible jacket was MIA. He didn't even use the dress, which the judges had liked. In other words, he won on the strength of 2 looks, neither of which were as striking to my untrained eye as any of Chris'. I'm kinda furious about that.

So there you go. I have purposely refrained from looking at Christian and Jillian's collections because I really hate spoilers and want to be surprised. My personal favorite is Jillian but I'd be fine with Christian winning. But I swear to Coco Chanel, if Rami wins I'm never watching Project Runway again.

Until season 5. Pft.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things You're Not Supposed to Talk About in Polite Society

But when did that ever stop me?

The first part of the season finale for Project Runway airs tonight, where we learn which of the lovebirds, Chris or Rami, makes it to Fashion Week. Money on Rami.

I dreamt last night that I was stuck in Barack Obama's campaign website. I'd wandered into "Position Papers" and was trying to get to the home page but somehow kept getting into the "Vision" page instead. And when I say "stuck" you must understand that I didn't dream I was at my desk experiencing some sort of computer glitch. I mean that I was actually, literally in the website, wandering around towering pages of information like Alice after a particularly large and steaming dose of "Drink Me".

Überwonky? Moi?

Religion: But They Are All Scientologists
Why do you suppose it is that Kirstie Alley and Kelly Preston don't creep me out but John Travolta and Tom Cruise do? (Although John less so, for any number of reasons not the least of which are Vinnie Barbarino, Danny Zuko and Edna Turnblad).

I'm still working with my "big" client. It's kicking my arse. I'm enjoying it, but man oh man oh man...

I have learned a few really important things about my abilities but premiere among them is that I am unique. My client was telling me the other day that she's worked with other organizers before, without success. I suggested that owed to them coming in with a system and trying to implement it on her behalf. She agreed. Where I'm different is that, while I have some definite priniciples which inform my approach, I don't impose anything on the client. Rather, I tailor what I know to fit his/her circumstance, learning style and general way of doing things. In this case, for example, it's all about making things as straightforward and simple as possible. I have no ego around what the client needs to do, it's all about finding something that will work for that particular person.

Isn't that just swell of me?

Music (Which is Considered a Perfectly Acceptable Topic of Polite Conversation, Although I Have Known Any Number of People to Get Quite Heated About It)

I have not been able to get this song off my mind so I'm going to stop trying:

"Falling Slowly" Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm 2 Days Late and The Spouse is $5 Bucks Short

An anonymous reader (who I totally know) expressed surprise at my failure to do an Oscar recap. I didn't really feel compelled, what with my having so little to say about any of the films in the first place, but rule one is to give the people what they want. So let's see.

Jon Stewart is brilliant. I puffy ♥ him. I think he is the perfect Oscar host precisely because he is outside of the Hollywood movie making thing. Gives him the ability to amusingly deflate the ego-infested vibe of the Oscars, while still being too charming for anyone to care much.

The most interesting thing of the night was probably the fact that the top 4 acting awards all went to people who aren't Americans. That's kinda cool. And I have properly updated my Netflix queue to include "La vie en rose", "Michael Clayton" and "Once". I am not going to see "No Country for Old Men" or "There Will Be Blood" because, frankly, I just don't handle violent and bleak very well. I'm sure they are splendid movies but I just can't do it.

Love those Coen brothers, though.

The biggest upset of the night had to be in the Best Original Song category. Truly, with 3 songs nominated from the same show ("Enchanted"), statistically it looked like long odds for the other 2 nominees. But that "Falling Slowly" tune from "Once", sung by those captivating kids Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova? Ding dong. And how great was he when they accepted the Oscar? "Make art, make art!" Right on. Not to mention the triumph of a little indie film kicking the big guys. The charm of that win was a twofer. Hansard was charming but then Jon Stewart did one of the classiest things I've ever seen:

Just lovely.

And speaking not getting to say anything, I realize that the Oscars go long and they need to keep things moving but holy cats, does Bill Conti really have to swell the orchestra 5 seconds into every speech? Seriously, I figure this is a person's big night. Give 'em all the time they freaking want. The only good thing about the limit is that we didn't have to hear everyone thank their agents, lawyers and accountants because that crap is beyond boring. No one cares.

Tilda Swinton. Wow. What is the deal with her? She's amazing and I really like her but seriously, is she albino? And what in the world was she wearing? Was she officiating as high priestess at some Celtic ceremony after the show? Jessica Alba was the token hot girl who had to present at the annual "this stuff is way technical and we couldn't make movies without you but no way is it interesting enough for a slice of the 3 hours of prime time because you are all geeks" festival that was held before the big show.

Back to the music bit for a minute: Kristen Chenoweth is the most adorable of adorable creatures and I'm putting her in my pocket with Tim Gunn. Love. Her.

What else? Oh, Marion Cotillard, who won for her portrayal of Edith Piaf, was fantastic. Nothing I love more than seeing someone who is genuinely surprised and pleased to win the award. She was utterly charming. And the makeup people for "La vie en rose" won, which after you saw what they did to transform that beautiful girl into Edith Piaf was totally deserved. See?

The Child was miffed that once again the Harry Potter franchise was dissed in the nominations.

I saw Ellen Page with Baba Wawa after the show and she said that she didn't at all expect to win the Oscar and that, in fact, she shouldn't because she wasn't even in the same rank as those nominated. She is a charming, level headed young woman. I love seeing that.

It was a delight that "Juno" got Best Original Screenplay. Because it really was. And then I had to school The Spouse about Diablo Cody because he thought she was a stripper who made good and I informed him that her time in the skin trade was for a writing project.

What else? We ate fajitas. They were good.

Someone needs to hand Laura Linney an Oscar. Now. I haven't seen "Savages" yet, but I will. That woman is one of the most underappreciated actors in the business and someone needs to rectify that right now. Fine. I'll do it.Pretty much all the women were wearing either red or black. Nicole Kidman's head looked freakishly large.
Daniel Day Lewis is so totally on my List. Hubba hubba.
Out of 24 categories I picked 13 correctly. Not bad, considering my picks were based on a combination of chicken entrail readings and blind finger stabbing.



I watched the sunrise this morning, the rose pink sky glowing through the black, naked arms of The Neighbor's apple trees. I heard birdsong. Crocuses shine like a pool of lavender near the roses and the lawns are brandishing spears of tulip leaves. It's still 5 weeks away, but spring, she is a'comin'.

The coming of spring signals many things, not the least among them CYO volleyball. We greeted this season with the best of all possible news, that Bad Coach was gone and Extremely Good Coach...the woman who first coached the team back in 5th grade, was returning. Whoo to the hoo and praisalluia! To make things even more exciting, our gym, famously called the Miracle Gym, was finished on time and the girls played their first game on their own home court this weekend.
This is a marvelous thing. The gym is marvelous because it is a sign that when you are determined and believe, things happen. Our school is entirely too small and too unendowed to be able to build a gym, even though the price tag was a "mere" $2 million. Initial fundraising among the parents netted commitments for $1k over the next 5 years, but hardly enough to break ground. And then an benefactor swooped in, giving us something like $1.5 for the project. And so it was done and the angels sang.
It's a sweet little gym, too. Dig the score board. Two other schools/parishes chipped in to bring the project to fruition, thus giving them a home court as well. But we get dibs 'cause it's on our land and we contributed the most.
And the girls, riven with joy and excitement, won their first match. Of course. I predict that based on sheer excitement and determination, they will bring home the first banner to hang in the Miracle gym. How cool would that be?

The philosophical question has oft been proposed: If a man is alone in the woods, with no woman around to correct him, is he still wrong?

I freely admit that I don't know everything. I regularly defer to The Spouse on matters that are his acknowledged area of expertise: cars, World War II, computers, roasting meat, movie making (but not actors...I know all about that. We'll watch a movie and he'll say "Where have I seen him before?" and I'll be all, "Hello? 'Singin' in the Rain', 'Xanadu', 'An American in Paris'..." and he'll be, "Oh, right, Gene Kelly". He doesn't look things up on IMDb, he just goes to FMDb- Fluffy's Movie Database). Point is, he knows things and I know he knows things.
But when he's wrong, he's wrong. Last week I publically bet $5 that Heath Ledger's picture
would be the last one during the "In Memorium" bit at the Oscars. He took that "sucker bet", because it was the 2007 Oscars and Ledger died in 2008. So who's picture ended the somber montage? That's right.
Pay up, big boy.

He kinda hates to lose.

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Friday, February 22, 2008


A few weeks ago, Monica ("Ramblings of a Crazy") was handing out awards like it was the Oscars or something. Which reminds me, the Oscars are on Sunday and Jon Stewart is hosting again. Yay. As per usual, I have seen very few of the nominated films, although I get snaps for having seen at least one film that wasn't animated or littered with teen wizards. Consequently, it would just be wrong to give my comprehensive list of Oscar picks. Suffice to say:

*Dame Judi Dench won't win anything this year and neither will Helen Mirren. Because they weren't nominated.

*Julie Christie will probably win Best Actress over Ellen Page but that's kinda too bad because even though I love me some Christie, Ms. Page gave an absolutely lovely performance in "Juno" and it would be awesome to see her win.

*I gotta think "Juno" will win best original screenplay. It can't win Best Picture because it was indie and smart and too funny. But at least give 'em the screenplay award.

*"Ratatouille" will win best animated feature because it really was a terrific movie. And I saw it.

*$5 bucks says that the last photo they show during the "In Memorium" bit is Heath Ledger.

Now back to Monica. She gave me some awards. I was deeply touched by this because Monica is pretty much the essence of cool and you'd think that my blog would be far too pedestrian for someone at her level of coolness. So yeah, getting an award from her is kinda like being asked to sit at the hip table in the lunchroom. So thanks for that, Monica.

The first award, which is way awesome, is supposed to be presented to 10 deserving women bloggers. For reasons known only to itself, Blogger won't let me plug in more than a few links per post so it'll be up to you to find the blogs over there on the right and check them out, if you haven't yet.

1) Nicole ("Living in a Second Language) is one of my best real life friends. The fact that she also writes a very lovely blog is just a bonus. Funny, introspective, clever...that's my girl.

2) Dana (Amazing "Grace in the City") writes oh, so charmingly about raising her family and building a church in New York City. One of the things I appreciate about her blog is that she's the kind of Christian who doesn't give the rest of us a bad name. To whit, her faith is deep and profound and sometimes she blows me away with her insight but she's not heavy and preachy and judgemental. Which is always refreshing.

3) Monica gets this one back. HA! Can't help it. The kid rocks. She turned me on to Belle and Sebastian. She watches Project Runway. She rides a bike. She lives in Chicago, one of the truly great cities of the world. There.

4) Kimberly Ann ("Nostalgic Homemaking"). Duh. She's fairly new to Blogtopia but it feels like she's been around forever. She mostly writes about food and housekeeping but with an altogether unique POV. And I bought some fake pearls from her that just rock my world.

5) Boodatude. The woman is insanely talented when it comes to things creative but her writing just slays me most times. Actually, I kinda hate her for that. No. I don't. Yeah, I do. "Hate" in a "I really admire your talent and envy it a bit but you're too charming not to love" sort of way.

6) Auld Hat ("The Voluptuary"). Shut up.

7) Speck ("Worms, Puppies, BBQ"), who seems to be blogging more regularly now. Which is a good thing for Blogtopia. Plus, this woman is whacked. Again, in a good way. The disembodied hand card she sent me for Christmas is coming out every year.

8) Brand new to me is Leah ("Circumstantial Serendipity"), who's been coming around here for a while and who I just got around to checking out. I like her. She's my kinda gal.

9)Greeny ("You Get What You Need") is someone I really hope to have cocktails with someday. She is also my kinda gal. She's one of those people who lives, on the surface, a fairly ordinary life but writes about it in a way that is compelling and fun and sometimes inspiring. Especially when it comes to gardening. Dang, if only.

10) My "City Mouse". Mostly because she's my mouse, but also because she's funny and she thinks and she's not afraid to be honest even when it's hard. She hasn't had the world's cushiest life and you'd think that would make her a hard, brittle person but she's really not. Plus, she doesn't care about spelling.

The other award, thankfully, only has to be passed out to 5 people because that was just exhausting, let me tell you. It's an award for niceness. Nice is way under-rated in the world and it's good to celebrate those who bother.

1) Rosie ("Rosemary's Attic"). Sweet as can be and she gave me a beautiful concertina for my birthday just because she couldn't make it out to my party to play "La vie en rose". I couldn't believe it. Still can't.

2) Hat. Shut up. I have my reasons. She's going to pft at this but I don't care.

3) Same thing with the Bitter One. We opened this coffee shop ("Here's the 90s") and I've been way too much of an absentee partner (although I'm really trying to improve that) and he has never once bitched me out for leaving him with the heavy lifting all these weeks. That's really nice. Especially since it probably goes against his nature. (No it doesn't. I know him. Ha. He's the sweetest thing ever but you didn't hear that from me. We must keep up the charade). Also, he's a really terrific uncle to The Child and he doesn't really have to do that, what with the whole not actually being related thing. But see, he's nice. (Shhhhhh).

4) Buck ("I Laugh, Therefore I Am") . Because you know what kinds of things he does? He does things like buy hard to find cordials on the web and then shares it. He moves out of his apartment for a week to let total strangers live in it. I'm telling you, he is n.i.c.e.

5) Mom ("The Best is Yet to Be"). It's funny that "Mom" is her blog name because when she leaves comments it always makes me think it's my mom until I remember that my mom is Dame Judi. But whenever she does leave a comment (and I've noticed this on the other blogs she frequents) she's always kind and generous and supportive...just like a good mom. I kinda think of her as the übermom of Blogtopia.

and I have to add a 6th, Dariush (as in "Dariush Alavi"). He lives in England and is a very talented writer. I felt pretty honored when we started corresponding. He loves good food and he cooks so we share recipes and stories about food but, as is sometimes the way with bloggy relationships, it has slowly moved out of the realm of the initial connection and into being friends. And who doesn't need a friend in England? Who cooks? Seriously. But he especially gets this nice award (which he has to share with his wife, the Divine L) because a month or so ago he was blogging about these books that he and L had found called Don'ts for Wives and Don'ts for Husbands and they sounded very amusing. I said something in my comment about needing to get my hands on copies and he promptly emailed and asked if he could please buy them for me. Which he then did and shipped Royal Mail (love the foreign postmarks, what?). And they are cute little books full of hysterically brilliant marital advice. Anyvows, point is that was a terribly nice thing for him to do.

As per usual, this handing out awards thing starts feeling funny because there are good reasons to give these awards to all the people on my blog roll. (Except the women blogger one because, well, hi...they aren't all women). Sometimes I think I should do what Sling ("Sling's Domain") does when he gets one and say, "Hey, if you're on the blog roll, consider yourself served".
Maybe next time.

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Rockin' Goths and a Puck

I love this song. I don't entirely know why. Certainly there is a hook, which is always useful. Plus, I'm a sucker for songs that start out sort of low and mumbly and then get all rousing in the chorus.

Honestly, sometimes I think the only reason I love this song is because of the video. I've never heard the song on the radio, don't own the CD. I don't know if it holds up without the visual. Maybe, maybe not. And I think what I love the most about the video is that it's so old school. It tells a story. There's choreography. The clothes are cool. It's how they made videos in the 80s. Also, I love little goth kids with their makeup and hair who think they are all that and serious when they are really just moony kids with too much creativity for their little adolescent minds. Some of my favorite people got their goth on once upon a time.

I never really did because I missed that trend by a few years. More's the pity.

You probably aren't going to like this nearly as much as me but it's worth it just for the choreography.

My Chemical Romance "Helena"

No? Ok, fine. Just me then. But here's something else that I just couldn't resist. Today is the anniversary of an incredible moment in sports history. At least half of you are entirely too young to remember this. Actually, at least half of you weren't even born when this happened. So let me set the scene:

It was 1980. America was feeling pretty bruised and battered (sound familiar?). Jimmy Carter hadn't done as slick of a job as president as had been hoped. (Not that he was a frakup like W, comparison, Carter was FDR, but except for the Camp David accords, he just hadn't managed to be very effective). We had an energy crisis, with long lines at the gas pumps. (Believe it or not, puppies, even that didn't get anything more than lip service to the notion of weaning ourselves from foreign oil). And to top it off, the Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan (damn, this is just so much "the more things change....") and because we were still engaged in a cold war with the USSR, this was a scary thing because the US never liked to see the USSR trying to expand it's scope.

So there we were, feeling kinda gloomy and the Winter Olympics rolled around. No one I knew particularly cared about hockey but the US team, made up of a bunch of cute, young amateurs, started climbing up through the competition, beating teams they weren't supposed to beat. Suddenly, and quite incredibly, they were in the medal round, going up against the Soviet Union. Please note, the Soviets had the best team. Big, experienced players. Pros, if you will. They'd won the gold something like 6 times in a row. Our little team of Davids didn't stand a chance against Goliathski, but it was just cool that they got that far.

I remember gathering in the common room of my boyfriend's dorm to watch the game. And what a game it was, these scrappy kids giving their all against the Russians. And the game was close. Really close. Tied at 3 all until the US scored one more point with just 10 minutes left in the game.

I wasn't a hockey fan and knew nothing about the sport. But it wasn't going to be until the 2000 Mariner baseball season when I was destined to again feel the sort of energy and excitment of a sporting match. These kids were incredible...gliding on the ice, scrapping for the puck, keeping it from the Soviets...who were pushing back hard. It was one of those sorts of deals where everyone knew they didn't have a prayer, that the Soviets would pull it out but ding dong, how exciting that they'd even gotten that far and were still playing to win.

Five minutes passed and the Soviets hadn't been able to tie it up. Then six minutes, then 7....the clock was counting down and the Soviets couldn't do anything. They couldn't keep the puck. Our goalie...a very cute kid named Jim Craig...kept fending off Soviet attempts to score. This led to five of the most exciting minutes in Olympic history:

The young pups went on to the gold medal round against Finland and won, but this is the game everyone remembers. Except, you know, you aforementioned "too young to remember" types.

Consider yourself schooled.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Project Recap

I wasn't going to recap a show that was basically it's own recap but The Neighbor said I had to. And what with JP finally getting religion, I figured what the heck.

First of all, I'm curious about the ritual of reunion shows for reality programs. They all do it. But why? Really. "What's it really like being on the island/in the board room/in the workroom/dating a guy who's dating 412 other women"?" Um, they're called "reality" shows. Are you telling me they aren't actually portraying reality? Gasp! And also l'horreur .

The other thing about these reunion shows is that there is never really time to get to the bottom of the things you truly, truly want to know. Like what the frak is up with Victorya? She sat there; ramrod straight, arms folded, lips pursed and stilettos twitching. I don't know what's got her so tightly wound. She looked like she wanted to very slowly stick extremely hot needles in the eyes of everyone in the room. Yikes.

Tim Gunn is the most adorable creature to walk the planet. Do not question this. When he was talking about the $10k that would be awarded to the Fan Favorite he turned to Heidi and said, "Thrilling, huh?" in a way that made me want to put him in my pocket and feed him bonbons and little crumbs of cake every day. I'm finally going to build a shrine to him as soon as I'm done with this post.

Things We Learned, Mostly in Order
Chris and Rami are in love. The shock, surprise and honor of being given one last chance has brought them together. They sat close, touched often and their eyes got all soft and misty when they looked at each other. I'm serious. I believe they are in love.

Jack Black and Katherine Keener are big fans of the P.

Kit, Elisa and Jillian are all getting email and sketches from 8-year-old girls and are honored to be role models for the youth of America.

Jack is healthy again and the 3 questions he is most often asked are "Is Heidi really that pretty?", "Is Tim really that nice?" and "Are you going to try out for season 5?" The answers are "Yes, yes, and I don't know".
He totally should.

Tim asked, "Are we convinced Kevin is not gay?", the lead-in to a montage of Kevin out-takes that was pretty amusing. And Tim closed with the classic, "If being on PR didn't turn you gay, nothing will".

Apparently, in answer to the burning question, being on PR is even more grueling than it looks. Long hours, isolation, Chinese food. It's a "tranny mess", as Christian said. Duly noted.

Hysterical montage of Elisa in all her other worldly glory. She taught herself to write backwards because Leonardo di Vinci was her hero. Project Runway spelled backwards is Tcejorp Yawnur. That's funny. Oh, and that spit mark thing? Apparently a blessing goes with it and it's part of what her clients pay for. Elisa has clients who pay for spit blessings. I'm so glad I'm Catholic.

There was the inevitable and amusing montage of Ricky crying. It went like this:

Ricky: "I don't cry that much".

Crying clip, crying clip, crying clip, crying clip, crying clip

Ricky: "I'm emotional but I can control it".

Clip, clip, clip, clip, clip, followed by a mess of clips featuring variations on the work "suck".

To sum up, he does cry a lot and his designs do suck.

During the wrestling diva judging he completely lost it. Lost it in an hysterical-laughter-that-infected-all-the-other-people-in-the-room sort of way. Gives that "I feel like the Pope at a sex club" line even more resonance.

We also got a recap of the designers' wrestling names and signature moves. ("Ferocia Couture" is still the best). Heidi asked Tim what his wrestling name would be. "Polysyllabicious," he replied.

Oh. Tim. Have another bonbon. Just when I think I can't ♥ you any more, you go and say something like that.

Carmen was apparently deeply wounded by the fact that after she was auf'ed no one cared or missed her or said anything about what a shame it was that she was gone. Which prompted sweet li'l Kit to go hug her and all the designers pile on about how she was missed and no one meant any offense and they were all caught up in their own stuff. Whatever. Because really, who missed her? Show of hands, please.

There were pictures of Michael Kors as a Kurt Cameron wannabe, used to answer the fan question, and I'm paraphrasing, "If Michael Kors is a 'top American designer' why does he only where a black turtleneck, black jacket and jeans?" His answer was something to do with 'been there, done that' regarding trends and now he goes for a look that can go "from the White House to a rave".

Really? Let's just sit back for a moment and picture Michael Kors at a rave.

Oh. He is all that and a bag of chips. Get back with your hot, hip self, MK.

Other montages included Chris' hyena cackle laugh that the other designers enjoyed the first 2 times and then hated, Heidi being perfect and adorable as she mangled the English language and Christian saying "Fierce".

Then someone asked what was the single worst design. At that moment I decided to check the voice mail on my sweet new cell phone and turns out I had to set up my voice mail box and it was this long, automated ordeal: "Pick a pass code...accept your pass you want to make it a more secret secret pass code...jump up and send calls directly to the NSA press *...rub your the pound key". So I missed some stuff.

Toward the end we learned who was the winner of the Fan Favorite contest. Heidi said, "And the a landslide...Tim? Do you know who it is?"
"Yes, I do," said my little pocket friend. "It's..." and I wrote on my notes "Chris" just as Tim said, "Christian!"
You could have heard a pin drop. (Which is an exceedingly appropirate metaphor, don'tcha think?)
Anywhat, out came the superfantastic Michael Knight. Not the one who plays Tad on "All My Children", the designer who won Fan Favorite last year. He came out with his big ol' Ed McMahon fake check for $10,000 and gave it to Christian and then informed us that he invested his winnings into his company and is coming out with a new fragrance.

Wow. And wow again.
But you know what was cool about that? Christian was genuinely surprised and moved. Seeing that, after 12 weeks of his "I'm kind of a big deal" shtick, was just charming. So good on him. My head is still reeling, but good on him.

We wrapped up with all the designers opining as to who the ultimate winner will be. Some were too diplomatic to commit, raving about the outrageous talent of them all. P, Carmen and Marion picked Drapey McDraperson. Kit picked Jillian. Steve and Kevin said either Christian or Jillian. Victorya, from her high and lofty ice perch declared, without equivocation, "Christian. He has the most talent".

So there you have it. For my money, I'm in the "Christian OR Jillian" camp. And I suspect Rami will survive the last competition with his lover, Chris. I hope that won't bollocks up their wedding plans. That would be sad.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

If It's Wednesday, You Know It's Going to be Political

A Quick Note to a Couple Candidates

Dear Hillary and Senator John "You are a true American hero, sir, and we dare not speak your name aloud lest we be considered impertinent" McCain,

Hi. How's it goin'? It's ok, Hillary, you don't have to answer that.

Technically, you are both in very different positions right now. One of you is cakewalking to your convention and one of you, well, one of you is having a much harder time of it. I'm not naming names. But for my money, y'all are basically in the same position: you're both running against Barack Obama. And I don't know if you've been listening to yourselves, or each other, but I think you're making a few mistakes. Mind if I point them out to you?

1) Both of you have incorporated language into your speeches which aim to deflate Sen. Obama's speeches. First of all, that's just kinda ironic, don'tcha think? More to the point: Hillary, you said that America doesn't need "speeches, it needs solutions" and Senator John "I totally respect you, sir, and your years of faithful service" McCain, you...well, I think you possibly have a better speech writer but you said that by voting for you Americans will be safe from "eloquent but empty calls for change".

Let's dissect this for a moment. By going after Obama's oratory, you are acknowledging that part of his appeal is precisely his ability to make a speech like nothing most of us have ever heard. Don't knock it. Political oratory has a long and powerful history in American politics. The fact that we are all being treated to the sound of someone making sense and doing it so well, hey, that is just plain cool. But frankly, you both look a little desperate when you try to go after that.

I realize what you are both trying to suggest is that there is no substance behind the words. I don't really think you're paying attention. But beyond that, it sounds like 'sour grapes'. And also, Americans aren't as stupid as you are implying. We aren't flocking to Senator Obama because he sounds so pretty. That might get us in the room, but it isn't what is keeping us around. We're learning about him, listening to him, reading his book, talking about him with our friends and neighbors and you know what? He's winning. So give us some credit and hire a new speechwriter or two if you are so worried about it.

2) Stop playing the experience card. No one cares. Really.

Senator John "This is getting really tedious but someone is going to smack me if I don't accord you all the respect your years of service demand" McCain, you do well to pay attention to what's happening over on Hillary's side of things. She's been playing that card for weeks now and it isn't working. And if it isn't working for her, someone who's younger and more passionate than you, it sure isn't going to play once you and Barack are in the same room. His youth and looks and energy are going to make it look like the kind thing would be to silently turn our heads while Cindy escorts you slowly back to the home. Best not go on and on about that now.

Not to mention - and this is for both of you- Americans, at least this cycle, don't really care about experience. First of all, they understand that in reality no president is an expert in everything. That's why there are staffers and cabinet members and all sorts of other people with whom a President surrounds himself (or herself). Barack is smart. He'll choose wisely.

No. American's are way more concerned about leadership. They actually want someone in the White House who makes them believe and makes them work. They want someone who, so far, hasn't talked down to them once, for all his fancy eddication.

Don't you realize that we have been talked down to for the last 7 years? We've been told what to think. We've been told that we're traitors. We've been told that things have to be done for our own good and we're not to question the methods. That may be a legitimate strategy for parenting, but it's piss poor government. It certainly isn't leadership.

Americans, my friend says, are emotional voters. Yeah, we are. So someone who appeals to our emotions and our highest ideals AND reminds us of our potential for greatness is a formidable candidate. But note, he is also challenging us to work and make it happen. There have been other presidents like that, you know. They called us to fight fascism and sacrifice in the doing. They pulled us out of a Great Depression, ended slavery, and started us on a quest to reach the moon. When Americans are asked to step up, they do it. But collectively, we need to be inspired to greatness.

Plus, we don't want to wait on Barack for 8 more years so he can become more "experienced" (read, jaded and cynical). I'm not trying to call you out here, but if the 2 of you were less hardened by politics, you'd both be more appealing right now.

Understand the big picture: the last 7 years have broken our hearts. We're tired of the lies and the botched government. We're tired of worrying about our jobs and our homes and how to pay our medical bills AND still send our kids to college. We're fractured by stolen elections and 9/11 and this misbegotten war. We are tired and aching and frankly, most of us are way more scared of our own government than anything else.

We need a break. We want a break. We want someone young and passionate with new ideas and a proven record of bringing people together. We want someone who isn't an insider. That's really what you mean by "experience" and it's not playing. And we want this idea guy to get us off our butts and engaged in the process. Barack is doing that and you'd better figure out how to do it, too.

Hillary, some pundits are saying that if you don't win by double digits on March 5 you should pack it in. I don't care if you want to fight all the way to the convention. Knock yourself out. But don't hurt the party in the process. Michigan and Florida broke party rules and their delegates won't be seated at the convention. They made their bed; you've got to lie in it. Stop pushing the point. It makes you look desperate and cynical. It confirms what too many already fear about you, that you are in this for yourself. You need to be cool.

Senator John "Oh, so venerable" McCain, part of your appeal is your perceived independence and moderation. Pandering to the fundagelicals hurts you. You didn't need them to get this far. If you acknowledge them, especially if you put Huckabee on the ticket, you might pick up some votes in the general election but you'll lose more. You're already losing the independents. You really need them in November. "Straight talk" is your strong suit. Don't abandon that now.

Alright. We've all got things to do. I'll let you go. Take care.



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Tuesday, February 19, 2008


You may now uncrossed and unplait everything. Sorry for the inconvenience...I know it can't have been easy to do whatever you did this weekend with all your digits entangled.

The Child was accepted to Second Choice High and is on the wait list for First Choice.

This is not a tragedy by any means. She will be just fine with attending Second Choice. And, of course, there is a perfectly fine chance that she'll get off the list and into the halls of First Choice. (Because, after all, these fine children all apply to more than one school. They all have first, second and third choices. For some, First Choice is their fall back. So you see, once FCH holds their first registration they will be more clear about how many spaces are left to fill).

Point is, that load has been lifted and even though there is some waiting now with First Choice, The Child knows for a fact that she is going to high school. She also knows that if she goes to Second Choice, she's going to take one year of Intro. to Drama as one of her electives.

Excuse me, please, while the reality of all this sinks in.


Friday, February 15, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Teen

The Child had a complete meltdown yesterday. Her homeroom teacher had called me for a conference. You see, after getting the best report card of her middle school experience last trimester, she has now fallen back into some of her worst academic habits and at the moment is flunking half her courses. And yes, it's the same damn bugbear it's always been, missing assignments.

In the past she would do the work and not turn it in. This time around I think she's not actually done most of the work.

We have a little liturgy each afternoon:

Leader: Did you get your homework done?

Response: Yes, Muuuom. (Roll eyes)

Was I actually having her show me that the work was finished? Of course not. She's in the 8th grade. I can't be treating her like a baby. Right? Wrong, obviously. So anyeff, when she brought home this horrible progress report full of 0s (which indicate missing assignments), I asked what was up and she didn't really say so I gave her a lecture. And every day I'd broach the subject:

Leader: "Did you get the materials you need to finish those assignments?"

Response: "Yes, Muu-om". (Roll eyes).

Or I'd ask for an update on what she's been working on and she'd go into full drama queen mode: "I'm working on it! Geez, Mom! I don't need this pressure! I know what I need to do, alright?" Which, depending on my mood and how quickly she got to downright insolence, would either make me turn and walk away with a shrug or give her both barrels.

Teenagers are just awesome.

Cut to yesterday and the call from her teacher and she starts to freak. "He's concerned about my grades, he already told me that, you don't have to have a meeting..."

"Well, yeah, I do have to have a meeting because your teacher called me in for one". And then she started crying. Not drama queen crying, real honest to goodness, something-is-sitting-so-wrong-in-her-heart crying.

Her tears and sobs continued through the length of our conversation but the upshot was that she's so so so nervous about high school, specifically getting into First Choice. Or even more specifically, that she'll not get into First Choice. And, you see, the letters are going out today so we'll know by next Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest. The anticipation is eating her up. Which I totally get because I'm thinking about it a lot, too...

I'm not one of those people who reads all the "how to talk to your kids so they'll listen" sort of books. I don't do well with self-help texts. Times like yesterday afternoon always leave me wishing I were better prepared for this parenting stuff.

I told her I truly understood. I told her I wished I could say it was going to be fine and she was a shoo-in. But I couldn't. I said that the worst thing that could happen is she doesn't get in, in which case we'll regroup and figure out the next steps. I suggested that if she doesn't get in, it may be a blessing in disguise. Then I told her that the truth is, she's going to have lots more experiences like this: waiting to hear about college, waiting to hear if she got the job, waiting for mortgage papers to come through, waiting to see if the pregnancy test is positive...sometimes we have to wait and it's really hard because sometimes, after doing everything we can, the outcome is being determined by other forces and we have no control over it.

BUT, I sweetly told her, the thing one cannot do in such times is put everything else on hold. She can't not do her homework because she's worried about high school. She still has to graduate eighth grade and that is something she can control.

Then I held her. And then I gave her a valentine.

Say a little prayer for her today, if you would. (Or send her some good vibes or do a naked pagan fire dance...whatever your method). Poor little scutter. She's growing up and sometimes that is just really, really hard work.

Today's video is one of my favorite songs by this artist and is dedicated to The Child and all the waiting that comes with life; here's hoping she can learn to mine riches out of the in-between moments. And since the quality of this video is lacking a smidge, today you get a twofer, another song of inspiration.

Carly Simon "Anticipation"

Carly Simon "Let the River Run"

(PS: The sync seems to be off in the second video, which is weird because the version I downloaded was fine. Sorry about that).

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Project Runway: Artistic Inspiration

We're nearing the finish line, the one that will take the winning designers to their shows in Bryant Park during Fashion Week. Which means that out of the five remaining designers, 2 are going home.

Heidi told the designers they were going on one last field trip, meeting Tim at 5th and 82nd. There he stood, in all his satorial splendor, on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Btw, if you ever go to New York for the first time and want to appear "with it" DO NOT refer to the Metropolitan as "the Met". That sobriquet is reserved for the opera).

The designers had the museum to themselves (lucky) and were given digital cameras and one hour to tour three exhibits and seek inspiration. They were allowed access to the Greek and Roman statuary, the European paintings gallery and the Temple of Dendur (an actual Nubian temple that sits in all it's hugeness in it's own room). The temple was magnificent. Jillian expressed an "almost spiritual" experience gazing upon it. Chris, on the other hand, said, "Look! Joan Rivers carved her initial in here when she was a little girl". Oh, that Chris.

Most of the designers spent the bulk of their time with the paintings. But you know where Rami was? Sure you do. Mr. Drapey McDraperson spent all his time in the Greek room, snapping shots of the statue of Aphrodite.

Back at Parsons, the designers had 1 hour to sketch, then got 30 minutes and $300 for fabric at Mood ("thank you, Mood").

Christian was taken with the painting of a Spanish nobleman for it's "Zoro" like quality. And as is his way, he began confidently cutting and stitching like a mad thing. Sweet P had been inspired by a rich painting of a peacock, while Jillian found something called "Master of the Argonauts", with lots of detail and action that moved her to create something "edgy".

Chris was working on a gown based on some portrait of a rich lady with a big dress and Rami told us (over and over and over) that he is "extremely passionate" about draping. Really, Rami? I hadn't noticed. He also opined that while the other designers seemed to be going "over the top" with their artistic interpretations, he suggested that his vision was not intended to "make noise".

Jillian noted, appropos of nothing, that Christian spends a lot of time monitoring the work of everyone else and she's really tired of him. Well, sure.

When it came time for the models to be fitted, P's didn't show up and she was more than a little concerned about that.

Midway, Tim came in with a "special guest", the guy who heads up the Loreal Paris hair and makeup room, where the models get gussied up. The purpose was for him to "consult" with the designers on the makeup look for their models. Yeah. Whatever. Listen, they've done this before and a) there is nothing "special guest" about this guy...they see him every frakking week and 2) he doesn't "consult". He tells them what to do. He annoys me.

Chris finished his outfit and decided to take a nap. He naps a lot. Christian was snarky about that.

The Gunn Review

When Tim arrived and learned Chris was napping, he was put out and went to find him. When asked what he was doing in the lounge Chris told him he was finished. "Finished?" Tim declared. "You're never finished!" (meaning, of course, that when you have time to spare on a project you should use the time to assure every jot and tittle is dealt with). Chris insisted the design was done but when Tim saw it he said that it wasn't refined enough. Chris again argued that he was completely satisfied, to which Tim replied, "Well, you own it...I'm worried". We don't like when Tim is worried and Chris usually does a much better job of listening. I guess he was really, really tired.

Sweet P got the signature furrowed brow and finger on the lips accompanied by a "talk to me". (You never want to hear that toward the end of the day). Tim felt that her dress was a little "meh", that the peacock inspiration needed to be more apparent and that the overall look should be more "exuberant". (Tim likes that word. I love hearing him say it).

Jillian's work was deemed "gorgeous" and Rami's "stunning", although Tim expressed concern that it wasn't exactly "fresh", what with it being more draping, as per usual. He noted that he didn't want to hear Nina say, "I've seen this before".

He stressed to all the designers that this was their last competition and they needed to really wow the judges. "I want you to send Nina's shoes flying!" he declared. That would be fun, wouldn't it?

The Runway

Day of the runway show, Christian is primping because he wants to look "extra fierce". The good thing was that I gleaned some tips from him on the effective use of a flat iron. Thank you, Christian.

Jillian started obsessing about her inability to get things done on time (she had finished a gorgeous jacket but was having trouble with the dress) and said that she really wanted to win because she is tired of sitting in a cubicle serving someone else's vision. (Which made me think, "Hi, Jillian. What's happening? We need to talk about your TPS reports"). To make herself feel better (I think) she opined that Christian's "collection" was "a little marshmallowy". Then her steamer stopped working and she was frantically trimming up the hem of her dress.

Chris was very happy with his look, although it was terribly, terribly reminiscent of the couture look he did earlier and that concerned me. And Rami, God bless him, raved some more about draping. "It's what I do," he owned. Sigh.

On the runway, Heidi congratulates all 5 for getting that far but reminds them that 2 will be cut and she wishes them luck. Guest judge was Roberto Cavalli.

Christian had treated his design as a collection, giving thought to how each piece could be used in other ways. Which goes to his mad skillz, for sure. It also had his POV all over it. I personally thought that the shirt was fab but that overall it was a little too much.

Talk about costume-y. But the judges were positively plotzing over it, won over not just by the way he riffed off the original painting but the fact that he considered the practical applications of each piece.

As I mentioned, Chris' design borrowed too much from one of his more recent successes. It was big and costumey and while there was nothing essentially wrong with it, he could have mixed it up a bit.

Cavalli said it was the most artistic of all the designs, but then, he hadn't seen Chris' work before. because Heidi, Nina and Kors were totally on his case for the reminiscent thing. Nina got downright testy about it.

Jillian's design was possessed of a completely awesome jacket and a rather silly dress.

The judges loved it. Kors admired that she gave the appropriate nods to her inspirational painting but then went off page and created something that did "great things" to the model's body. Nina declared, "You keep me surprised". Not exactly shoes flying over the runway, but Nina likes to be surprised.

Sweet P's dress was just sad.

Is this reading "peacock" to you? Is it reading anything except "harlequin on The Strip"? No. I didn't think so.

The judges were slightly more kind, acknowledging that P creates decidedly wearable dresses (the fit is nice) but that what she does is strictly commercial. They were looking for a lot more oomph and P failed to deliver, for sure.

Rami delivered, if the package you were expecting was draped.


"Of course!" Kors exclaimed. "Where else would Rami take his inspiration but from the Greeks?" Nina noted that she thoroughly expected drapes from him. "We know you can do this," she said. "We want to see you design out of that box". Predictability. The kiss of death.

While the designers chilled in the lounge the judges compared notes. Heidi called Jillian "ballsy" (not the word I would use, though I do love her designs). Christian's work was summed up as "emotional clothes that can be worn in real life". They really like that he achieves that balance between stunning design and marketability. Sweet P was praised for her commercial vision ("not that there's anything wrong with that") but never being able to quite take it to the next level. Chris "has drama in his blood" and Rami was ranked as "technically good" but not a risk-taker.

Christian picked up his 3rd win of the season and was complimented for having a "strong point of view" throughout the competition. Jillian, who has only won once but never, that I recall, been in the bottom ranking, was safe. And Sweet P, darling, soft, tattooed P, was out. Although she did get a "we believe in your talent". There was some soft weeping. Even The Gunn was a little varklempt.

Down to 2 and the air is thick with tension. Clearly, Chris should be safe and one-note Rami should be out. But noooooooo. The judges are deadlocked. So rather than auf'ing one, they both get to stay. BUT, and this is a big but, only one will make it to Fashion Week. They are to go off and design their collections. Before the big show, each will show the judges their 3 strongest designs and then the judges will eliminate one of them.

Bit of a shocker, I suppose, but there it is. I'll bet you if Chris had not used that safe ruffled collar thing and pulled something equally clever out of his bag of tricks it would have been way easier for them to let Rami go. But really, who knows how the minds of these judges work?

Next week will be the big reunion show, which I will only recap if there's something really crazy that goes on. It will be good to see some of the other designers again, especially Kit and Kevin. Who both totally deserved to be in the final 3.


Oh. Right. It's Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is the Hallmarkiest of all Hallmark holidays, which is to say that it's not that big a deal around here. Sometimes The Spouse and I go out, sometimes we have a special dinner at home. Sometimes it's all but ignored. Tonight, for example, we're going to be eating turkey cutlets with The Child and watching the rest of "King Kong". Romantic, right?

The thing is, I would much prefer to have a husband who does little charming, romantic things throughout the year rather than one who pulls off the annual grand gesture because "he's supposed to" and ignores me the rest of the time. And since I have the former, I am content.

Love is a precious thing and I'm thankful to have found someone with whom I've been blessed to share 17 years. Pausing to reflect on that gift is a good thing, but we don't need a special day to do it.

That said, one of the things we share is a love of film. Some couples have "their song". We kinda do, too. But what we absolutely have is "our movies". "Moulin Rouge" is one of 'em and this song is one of our favorites.

Happy Valentine's Day, Pookie. I love you. I'm glad you're my first husband.

Ewan McGregor & Nicole Kidman "Come What May"

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Did Someone Say Something?

Me: I'll have some coffee and then work on a recap of yesterday's elections.

Myself: Really? Again?

Me: What do you mean, 'again'?

Myself: Recapping elections is your new thing. Like recapping Project Runway.

I: Infinitely more important, that.

Me: Are you saying I'm getting overly wonky on the blog?

Myself: Well.....

Me: But there's so much to say about the way this is playing out...Obama is actually leading in delegates now. That's exciting! Who would have believed that even 3 weeks ago?

Myself: You're spitting on me.

Me: Sorry, it's just that there's this whole hope thing and the call to come together with a common purpose is making me really giddy...almost's like Obama has given voice to the frustration and pain and fear all of us have been carrying around for these last 7 years and it just feels really, really good to be able to...

Myself: And now you're pontificating. No wonder you lost that delegate election.

Me: Nice. Very supportive.

Myself: Look, I realize you have deep thoughts about the direction of the campaigns and words of completely untried wisdom to share with Clinton and McCain. I know you're just dying to tell everyone that you finally started reading Audacity of Hope. I know you are convinced that John McCain doesn't stand a chance in debate against either Hillary or Barack and that the notion of both party nominations going to the convention is just exciting as can be but really, enough is enough.


I: Someone is shouting.

Me: Seriously, these people know I'm wonky. They know I'll settle down after the election.

Myself: Yes, but this is going to be going on for months yet. Seriously, take a breather. Surely you have something else to write about?

Me: I got the package I ordered from Kimberly Anne's new ebusiness yesterday and it was chock full of fun things...

Myself: That's a good start.

Me: Plus, you know, there is a new episode of PR tonight.

I: Do we have any cereal?

Myself: Very good. Although, that's not exactly mixing things up. You do that every week.

Me: Why do I have to mix things up? JP has regular bits. Hat has regular bits. LOTS of bloggers have regular bits.

I: Tee. That sounds naughty.

Myself: I'm going to go help I find the cereal.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Oh. My. Yord.

Remember that wonderful video that made based on Obama's New Hampshire speech? The one that swept the nation last week? Yeah, well, now there's a spoof of that, using the words of John McCain on the subject of Iraq. It will crack you up. (Except when you realize that McCain means it...then you'll feel a little queasy).

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Raucous Caucus

We attended our caucus on Saturday. The Child came along because she can get extra credit for writing a report about the experience and trust, she needs the extra credit.
The joint was jumping. There was actually a pretty good turnout 4 years ago in our area but I'd say it was more than double this time. 4 years ago there were maybe 8 of us in our precinct alone. This time we had 23. I'd say there were a good 300 people in total attendance, with something like 6 or 8 precincts all gathered in the same place.
It was just plain fun when we first got there. Lots of people, a buzz of energy. There were a lot more people of color than last time, a lot more young people. We were sitting with some friends; The Spouse and I were sporting Obama 08 stickers and our friend was wearing an "'s how I roll" t-shirt. (Gotta get me one of those). A young woman came up and asked us why we were supporting Obama and told her. She started questioning certain things and she and I ended up in a spirited but decidedly respectful debate of Hillary v. Barack. Democracy in action, people. I ended the conversation by telling her that I sincerely hoped she wound up as a delegate for Clinton because she certainly knew her girl.

Then it was time for the actual caucus. We gathered by precinct and signed in, noting our candidate preference. The first tally had us with 17 for Obama, 4 for Clinton and one undecided. The undecided happened to be our precinct chair. So she asked people to speak to why they supported their particular candidate.

One guy said he was a doctor and was supporting Clinton largely because of her knowledge of the health care issue and what he trusts as her ability to get the job done relative to universal health care. Another guy, ever so respectfully asked, "Do you see the fact that she's taking money from the health care and insurance lobbies as an impediment to fulfilling what she says she wants to do?"

(That kinda took the supporter aback and he didn't have a ready reply but still, that's how this thing works).

Another Clinton supporter spoke and then the conversation went like this:

"I have waited all my life to see a woman president and have been active in women's rights issues for 30 years. I love Hillary Clinton and think she'd make a fine president. I'm supporting Barack Obama because...."

"I like Hillary Clinton. I like Barack Obama, too, but I just didn't see him as viable. As the process has gone on though, I realize he can get the votes and so I'm supporting him because...."

"I was an Edwards supporter because.....but when he dropped out of the race it took me 30 seconds to decide that I'd support Obama because...."

And on and on. Young. Old. Black. White. Men. Women. People with years of involvement in the process, people just getting the hang of it. Overwhelming support for Obama. We concluded and our chair said, "Well, you helped me make up my mind" and she came over to Obama. That was the sum total of debate in our precinct and it was interesting. 4 years ago we all sat around, very few participants being thoroughly jazzed or commited to any of the candidates. Then there was more back and forth because we needed to be excited about a candidate but few of us were. This time the passion and enthusiasm was palpable.

We had one more Obama supporter show up right before the voting cut off so our final tally was 4 Clinton, 19 Obama. Our precinct was allotted 4 delegates so that meant 1 for Clinton and 3 for Obama. Each camp also needed an alternate. The Clinton people decided among themselves who would represent them but since the Obama group was so large, we had to do things a little differently. And that's where it got interesting.

Now, as you know, I wanted to be a delegate. Last time, when our chair called for volunteers to be delegates there was a lot of shuffling and looking the other way and reluctant, "well, if no one else wants to" sorts of things. I went into the caucus determined to be bold and step up when the time came. I didn't have to do that, because The Spouse nominated me. I then turned to one man who had been particularly eloquent and said, "I think you should be a delegate" and he accepted. Then our chair decided she wanted to do it because she was all fired up by our persuasive arguments.

Someone asked, "Do we vote now?" and someone else answered, "That's our three, we just need an alternate." Stirred by passion and a commitment to democracy I piped up and said, "Before we do that we should make sure everyone who wants to be a delegate is up here" and some little chicky-poo hopped up and said she wanted to represent. And that gave us four.

Thing is, no one wanted to be an alternate by choice so then we each were asked to make little speeches about why we wanted to be delegates. Now, pay attention.

The chair, who had been undecided and was swayed partly by my impassioned speech about Obama (during which I noted a lot of smiling and head nodding), said something deeply moving about representing all of us at the next level. I said something about loving politics and the process and how eager I was to represent a man who I believed had the will and the energy to get America back on course. Chicky Poo, who was there because I saw to it we didn't railroad the delegate selection process, proceeded to chime in that she hates politics and hates the process, even thinks it's completely stupid, but feels strongly that Obama is our best choice. The last guy, who I nominated, gave as heartfelt a speech as he had the first time.

We voted and yours truly was elected. As the alternate. Rather, I wasn't elected, I just was what was left over. So basically, by virtue of my oratory, nominations and service to the process, screwed myself out of a delegate position.

I was smiling and graciously accepted my alternate credentials. But I was bitter. Especially about Chicky Poo, who says she hates politics and then did a completely political thing by working off what I said to set herself apart. Bitch.

Not really. She seemed very nice. But I was still bitter. And yeah, someone might not be able to go to the next level and then I'd be in but doggone it, I really wanted to be a delegate. Poo.

Still, that crushing disappointment did little to tarnish my enthusiasm for the process or my candidate. It was terribly exciting to come home and start watching returns and see Obama sweep the weekend contests. Obama is now leading in pledged delegates, 986 to 924. Clinton is ultimately still ahead because, at the moment, she has more superdelegates. But even with that Obama has pulled within 37 total delegates. Today will be very interesting. Obama ran the table this weekend but it's pretty clear that the so-called Potomac bloc that's voting today could go either way or split. It just keeps getting more and more interesting, rather then less so.

And speaking of still interesting, Huckabee is challenging the vote count in Washington state. I find this positively He is citing the fact that the race was called with 87% of the votes counted, which is legit. What's funny is that he's citing "voting irregularities". The GOP has been stealing elections for at least 2 cycles now and the fact that one of their own is now complaining just strikes me as deligtful. It goes again to how fractured the GOP is right now. If both Obama and Clinton can refrain from disunity within the party it just improves our odds. Oh, tee to the hee. Nothing like having your opponent on the ropes, baby.

In other news, while my electability has been determined to be less commanding than I would have hoped, yesterday The Child was voted "Nicest Girl" for the 8th grades "Most Likely To" pages in the yearbook. (She was also voted "Prettiest Eyes" and "Most Clumsy"...I don't get that one but whatever). I told her yesterday that she should be extremely proud of such an award because that says a lot about her character. Makes me pretty proud, too.
During the caucus she realized that 4 years from now she'll be able to vote. "Hey, Mommy, then I could run against you and be a delegate instead of you!" Maybe I should suggest a recount on the Nicest election.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Wet Paint

There's much to say, when there is time. I need to tell you about my caucus experience on Saturday, muse upon the juggernaut the successes of Mr. Obama over the weekend and offer some free advice to both the Clinton and McCain camps about what they need to do (or stop doing) in order to retain integrity with voters.

My list of blog fodder for the week includes some observations about the intractability and charm of teenagers, the goofiness of my husband and at least 412 posts about food over at the other site. There will be a Project Runway recap and I also got a shiny thing from Monica a while back which needs to be acknowledged.

I could, potentially, spend entirely too much time expounding on my addiction to Sims2 and the dynasties I'm creating but that could reveal more than you need to know.

I do have time to tell you that The Hat spent the night here last night, and after a superfantastic roast beast dinner, she and I ate chocolates and sipped framboise while watching "Pride and Prejudice" and "yum yumming" over Colin Firth, who really is one of the most delicious men in the world. But the rest has to wait because after getting The Child off to school, The Neighbor and I are taking The Hat back home and my mini-road trip will prevent further musings for now.

Have a lovely day, which I hope will be made brighter by this little bit of joy...the bumper that The Spouse created this weekend for the movie. It's his first foray into animation and I think it's ever so splendid.


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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Moving Pictures

I want to write a review of "Juno", partly because it's been so long since I actually saw a film in a theater that didn't involve wizards or CGI characters. But since it's been so long, I find myself completely out of practise with the whole "reviewing" thing so I honestly don't know where this is going to go.

Directed by Jason ("Thank You for Smoking") Reitman, "Juno" is obstensibly about an "offbeat teen" who gets pregnant. First of all, I don't think "offbeat" is at all a fair characterization (that was IMDb, not me). Juno MacGuff is a smart kid and a smart ass. She is into punk music and chews on a pipe (in which there is nothing). Her best girlfriend is a cheerleader, she talks on a hamburger phone, she dresses kinda grunge and plays in a band. There is a jock who teases her, but she claims that's out of desire and longing (which is totally true, btw). She isn't offbeat. She strikes me as Everyteen. Which is probably too much to put on her, given the point of the movie. Juno is a totally likable if sometimes disconcerting character. Anyscrew, one day, pretty much out of boredom, she has sex with a friend and gets pregnant and therein lies our story.

What writer Diablo Cody has done is create a morality tale that isn't about (cue the big, giant air quotes) "morality". "Juno" never once seems heavy handed or preachy and generally succeeds in avoiding every pitfall, stereotype or sermon that would be slapping you in the face in lesser hands.

Juno isn't thrilled about being pregnant, of course. She is convincingly nervous when sharing the news with her parents Mac, played by JK Simmons (you know him as the editor in "Spiderman") and Bren, played by Allison Janney (who you remember as the greatest press secretary in our nation's history). Actually, Bren is Juno's step-mom but she's been in the family for 10 years and is more a mother to her than her actual mom, who abandoned her young and sends her a cactus every year "and not even on my birthday".

The relationship between Juno and her folks isn't a typical adversarial one. She gets along fine with her folks. Sometimes she and Bren mix it up but not in any hysterical way. And when she tells them the news they are shocked and surprised and then rally. Red told me that this was a criticism of the film...that the parents didn't freak out and chastise her mightily and then disown her. I think it is one of the beauties of the film...a child in trouble going to her parents, the parents being supportive? Hey, there's a concept for you. Of course they are unhappy about the "diddle that can't be undid", but what the hell else are they supposed to do?

Of course, by the time she has told her parents she has also ruled out Option A and that too was handled soooo well. Juno is matter-of-fact about getting an abortion. She's unperturbed when confronted by a picketer at the clinic, who happens to be a classmate. She's more freaked out by the punk receptionist sitting inside behind bullet-proof class. When she decides not to go through with the procedure it's not so much that she's making a grand moral decision about abortion in general. She just can't do it herself. Very truthful bit of writing there.

So there she is, 16 and pregnant. The father is a friend, who obviously loves her, but she is oblivious on that point and treats him and the situation with what I can only describe as detachment. She'll have this baby, give it up and get on with her life.

She finds adoptive parents, played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman...perfect, beautiful people who live a perfect, elegant life in a cookie-cutter community of perfect houses. You're set up right away to see Garner's character as a little too perfect and uptight, but as the story unfolds you are reminded that things are not always what they seem. Garner is terrific, doing more with her face and gestures to reveal the depths of her character than many actresses can convey with pages of dialogue. And Bateman is good, too, as the prospective dad who has his own stuff going on.

Michael Cera plays Paulie Bleeker, Juno's friend and the father of the baby. If you loved him as George Michael Bluth in "Arrested Development", you'll love him in "Juno". He plays a very similar character - good hearted, confused and always saying less than you know he thinks or feels.

But the star of the show is Ellen Page as Juno and there's a reason she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. The kid has chops. She plays Juno as real and funny and entirely too self-assured. (She also has one of the coolest looking mouths in show business). As the story unfolds Juno comes to understand her own limitations and fragility and Page plays this with an authenticity that is mesmerizing. I loved her.
The movie is funny and honest. It tackles a big subject without overwhelming you. The language in the film is frank, especially if you are sitting next to your 14 year old daughter, but given that teenagers probably really talk like that, you cope. It's not super foul or anything, don't get me wrong. But let's just say that when the conversation turns to sex and genitalia the language isn't coming out of a sex-ed handbook.

The film is not without emotion. I was wiping away tears more than once but it was honest emotion, not manipulative. You care about Juno and you worry about her choices and you sit there for 96 minutes hoping fervently that it really is all going to work out the way you want it to work out.

And that's all I can say about it without spoilers. Which I hate. Go see it. It's a little film. It's not like you have to see it on a big screen. But it's totally worth it.
The Film Czarina gives "Juno" 4 out of 5 Koiheads

The soundtrack for "Juno" is killer. Lots of interesting post-punk-goes-folk stuff by bands I'd never heard of. One of the things that Bateman's character shares with Juno is a love of music and it's amusing as they try to "educate" each other about musical styles. Music is a big part of this film, which is why I have selected one of the songs from the soundtrack for today's Friday Jukebox. (See how I did that? Clever, huh?) And no. If you've seen the film I'm not about to play the song you think I'm going to play, although "Anyone Else But You" by the Moldy Peaches is used to excellent effect and I liked it very much. But there are classics and then there are classics.

Mott the Hoople "All the Young Dudes"

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