Friday, April 30, 2010

First off, I neglected to blog the finale of "Project Runway". Seth Aaron, deservedly, won. Emilio, who demonstrated his snarky, I'm-better-that-everyone self-absorption lost. And was a real baby about it. When you see his uninspired sportswear in Target walk on over to the Jessica Simpson department.

Speaking of Jessica Simpson, she "designed" the new roll-y suitcase I bought for my trips. It's really cool. I didn't know it was Jessica Simpson until after I'd bought it. So I'm ok with it. Plus, it's commodious.

I leave for DC tomorrow morning and I have 412 things to do today. Including dying my hair, which I'll have to do at work. (Which will be fine because I dyed MAB's hair at work the other day. Priorities). And I have to get a mani and a pedi and buy some insoles for my black flats and I need to pack. It's really too bad I have to work today. Good news on that front, I'm this close to finishing up the things I need to finish up before being away from the office for a week. And that includes having finally written an outline for the presentation I'm giving on Tuesday. Now I just need to design a useful and alluring hand-out. (I totally decided against a Powerpoint presentation. So last decade).

86 that about the hair. I'm doing it now.

I will be able to blog, I expect, from DC but the photologue may have to wait. But there will be lots of pictures. Me on Lincoln's lap, me in Julia's kitchen, me with blog buddies, like that. I can't wait.

Everyone be good while I'm gone. Do your homework and eat an apple every day.


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Monday, April 26, 2010

And Away We Go

In less than a week I will be in Washington D.C.

I have never been to our nation's capital and I'm demmed excited. You might not know this about me, but I'm one whimpy arsed patriot. I never get all the way through the National Anthem at a ballgame because I start cryin' like a wee bairn. So the thought of being in D.C., only blocks from the Capitol, wandering around a place rife with history and meaning, well, it gets Mama just a little bit varklempt.

But that's not all.

Sure. It's just freakin' swell that I get to go to a conference with my peers to exchange information and knowledge and all that hooha. It's dandy that I get to spend time touring the monuments and sites of DC, reveling in all that is gloriously Americana.

But it turns out, I got peeps. Peeps in da 'hood. So, for example, on Sunday I'm hooking up with Anne to go to church and maybe if I'm lucky Mom will be there, too. Then later in the week I'm having dinner with my darling-cousin-who-I've-never-met-but-who-I'm-purty-sure-I'm-related-to Doralong. And if all that tweren't enough, I'm also hooking up with my college room-mate, Shelley, who I last saw before I met The Spouse. (She's an opera singer and her husband conducts the Navy band or some such thing).

Now all I have to do is:

get everything on my desk at work under control so that I can

prepare the FREAKIN' notes for the discussion I'm leading on website development and then

figure out what to wear on the day that requires me to participate in a scavenger hunt at the Smithsonian before attending a meeting in a Senator's office with no time between events to go to the hotel and change

which will happen around the same time I buy a bustier to fit under the superfantastic dress I'm wearing to the fancy arsed dinner the last night of the conference (in a joint that used to host the likes of, uh, George Washington and Thomas "Freakin'"Jefferson).

I do have a new superfantastic bit of luggage on wheels that doesn't remotely look like all the other (black) bags that will be on the carousel at baggage claim. (And don't even start. Mommy has to check her bag. WAY too many costume changes in one week for a carry-on). I'm going to start packing it tomorrow.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What? Me Worry?

I've been having a recurring dream wherein I am somewhere important, expected to provide information to a person or group and have nothing to share.

This couldn't possibly have anything to do with the presentation on website development and content that I'm supposed to deliver in 2 weeks at the conference in DC that is as yet unwritten and sans materials.

The subconscious is a mysterious beast.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the Road Again

With $9,000 and 4 months, our designers return home to create their collections for Bryant Park. But, as Heidi reminds us, Mila and Jay are still competing for the Top 3. They will each be showing the PR judges 3 looks that will make or break them. The Gunn joins her on the runway to tell the designers how "extraordinarily exceptionally proud" he is of them. Then he and Heidi do a little hip bump. And Emilio is smug.

(Every time he comes on now in that little interview-y thing I just clap my little hands over my little pink ears and sing "la lalalalalala" because otherwise bile rises in my throat and I want to smash things).

The Gunn's first stop is to visit Seth Aaron in the really not so fabulous town of Vancouver, Washington. But The Neighbor and I think it is cool that there is a finalist from the NW who isn't from Portland or Seattle.

Now, Seth Aaron has been very clear that he does not merely wish to win. He wants to "stomp" the competition. To that end, he is employing not only his considerable design skills but sheer volume. Dude has made something like 412 looks by the time Tim shows up at his door. But alas and alack, Tim is of the mind that there are no surprises in the collection and that to win Seth Aaron must "reach". While Seth Aaron tries not to cry The Gunn says, "Reconceptualize the whole thing and find another level of you". He also assures Seth Aaron that he wouldn't push him like this if he didn't think he was capable of more. (That is exactly what the guidance counselor said to The Child in a meeting this morning!)

Heartwarming family moments: playing Pictionary with the Seth Aaron brood and the delighted exclamation "Papa Gunn is on the tramp!" (A trampoline, not a loose woman. Honestly. Get your mind out the gutter). SA was pleased that Tim played with his kids.

Next we're off to the South Bronx to hook up with Emilio. Tim meets Emilio's brothers, who say they are proud of him; pride apparently being genetic with this family. Then we get the rough-childhood-growing-up-poor-in-the-South-Bronx tale which would be more compelling if we cared.

Emilio's BP collection is full of color and he is, uh, proud of that.

Tim reminds him that how the PR judges experience the show is what will determine who wins. He gives Emilio some other advice...since that is his job. Like telling him that the collection looks "old" (as in matronly) and that there is a lack of sophistication. (We agree, and not just because we hate Emilio). But you know what Emilio does? 'Course you do. He snarks to the camera: "I'm designing for women and as far as I know Tim Gunn doesn't wear women's clothing". He goes on to say that since it isn't going to have Tim Gunn's name on the label he feels completely at ease dismissing any of his input. What a giant __________(insert word/words Mommy doesn't use on her blog here).

Heartwarming family moments: none.

Mila, who owns, The Neighbor notes, a color blocked dog, is veryvery happy to see Tim. Her collection is largely black and white with spots of color "but it's you" notes The Gunn. Unfortunately, he also finds the overall looks to be "conservative and matronly" (to which Mila responds to camera "Dude, what??"). TG effused, "Look how chic and fabulous you are....these clothes need to exude that!" While she is somewhat confused by this assessment she assures us that she has no intention of losing to "that little [bleeped out] Jay" so she's gonna dig deep.

Heartwarming family moments: chatting with supportive parents (who note she has always been creative and always worn black) and her supportive boyfriend who we are pretty sure is gay.

As Tim arrives at Jay's door we realize that 3 of the 4 designers are from the West Coast and we think that is very cool.

Jay says he likes to "combine soft and hard" (that's what she said) and Tim tells him with no hesitation that he thinks Jay is getting gimick-y and uses the dreaded phrase "student work". But Jay isn't worried about Mila. He's quite sure he can beat her so he's really focusing on beating Seth Aaron and Emilio. Tim grants him this but suggests that his collection is a little "koo koo". "Koo Koo Chanel," retorts Jay.

Heartwarming family moments: Tim being fed to death by Filipinos and lots of bawling about how much Jay wants this.

Back to New York
The producers, predictable and mean, stick Jay and Mila in the same apartment. At first you could cut the tension with many, many very sharp knives. And some lasers. But Jay and Mila end up having a moment and sort out a thing or two and by the time Tim gathers everyone for champang-ya, they don't hate each other any more. (Someone slip some of whatever they were taking into Mitch McConnell's well, wouldja?)

Next morning the designers arrive in the much larger and more fantastic pre-runway-show workroom but Mila and Jay have to share their workspace. "Good thing we're talking now," says Mila. "Right?" says Jay.

While Seth Aaron and Emilio get to putter with their collections, Mila and Jay have 3 hours to fit their models and get them to hair and makeup. Mila sees how much more color Jay is using and starts to panic. She decides to make sure there is plenty of color in the models' makeup. And there I was, thinking what a fine opportunity this would be to use the Bluefly accessory wall thoughtfully.

Jay cries again. So does Mila.

The Runway
Heidi has, of course, popped her Seal Pup and is all svelte again.

Mila shows first. Here's what we say: "Love that effing coat!" "Love! (stripped jacket is a little buzzy on TV but there it is). "Like!" Then Jay shows. Here's what we say: "Again with the ruffle booboo thing at the hip!" "Star Trek". "Star Trek: the Next Generation".

Mila's inspiration was "the shadow". Heidi says the looks are "different but cohesive", Nina is not surprised by the black and white but notes "it's a narrow palette". Mila assures her there is plenty of color in the entire collection (and if that's so she probably should have pulled in one of those ensembles, don'tcha think?) They all rave about her accessories but are concerned that the overall look might be too retro.

Jay is praised by Heidi for "pumping up the volume" and Kors loves all the details, like the gaitors, which we actually don't enjoy much at all but whatever. Nina admires the "excellent tailoring" but doesn't see any "stand outs". "Edit down," she warns. Heidi, shockingly, likes the purple dress with the hip widening ruffle booboo thing but isn't sure it fits with the rest of the collection. (And it doesn't because if you wore it, you would actually wear it on earth).

Kors admires that the looks aren't the least bit retro.

As we go into the final decision, Heidi is going with Mila, Kors with Jay and Nina is "on the fence". We are so being played. I vote for Mila, The Neighb for Jay (although in a move that may look like we are covering our arses, we both think there's a possibility that they will both show).

Heidi tells Mila that her collection is "impeccable and distinct" but could be "one note and too retro". Jay's looks are described as "intriguing and fashion forward" but criticized for being "over designed".

So the question for the judges is who do they want to see more of and as I cross my fingers and pray "notJaynotJaynotJay" Heidi announces "Mila, you're in!" YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jay is numb and shocked. Someone (Emilio?) says, "Don't cry, puppy". Or maybe that was The Neighbor. Anyway, that's exactly the sort of look I hope to see on Emilio's face next week when either Seth Aaron or Mila win. Meanwhile, Tim told Jay that his is "extraordinarily" proud of him and that he has nothing to regret. And I would note, he also has Anthony.

Next week: the Finale!


Monday, April 12, 2010

You Can't Come In

Research says that teenagers' brains are not yet fully formed. Something to do with synapses from the frontal lobe not yet connected to the rest of the brain or something. It's why they don't consider consequences of their actions and live strictly in the present and very me-centered moment. Anyone who has raised a teenager can affirm the veracity of this.

Teenagers also have a real problem hanging onto important stuff. Like cell phones. And keys. The Child is forever misplacing her house key. This morning I told her I'd give her a ride to the bus stop (that was my first mistake). She came out and asked if she could borrow my house key. "Did you lose it?" I naturally asked. "No!" she emphatically exclaimed. "It's just in some pants or something". Right. "Can I borrow yours?" Only one cup of coffee into the morning I agreed, with a stern "Don't lose it!"

You've had enough coffee by now so I presume you can figure out where this is going. I returned from dropping her off, only to have to race back down to the bus stop, fervently praying that the bus hadn't come yet. I retrieved the key, so I could get into the house, and now either have to find hers or get one made and put it in a secret location so she can get her sorry arse into the house later today. Sheesh.

Item to add to the Bill Invoice o' Child Raising: $412 for assorted house keys.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Down to the (High) Wire

It's been a while, chickens, so let's recap what would have been recapped had I been recapping: Anthony was out, then Maya left on her own, so Anthony came back and then Anthony won. And so did Emilio. (Emilio designed a dress for Heidi and guest judge Jessica Alba wants to wear Anthony's gown). Oh, and Jonathan with his TinTin hair is out.

There are 5 designers left and this is the final challenge. Tonight we will know who is showing at Fashion Week. Heidi is sending the designers to a tent "and not a Bryant Park tent". As this can only mean one thing, MAB and I react badly. She hates circuses because of what they do to the animals and I'm a'feared of clowns.

Sure enough, they go to the Ringling Brothers circus for a private show. Ringmaster Tim Gunn tells them they are to make a runway look inspired by the circus, but cautions, "Not a costume....think fashion". Then they get a private circus show. Tim tells them they will have 30 minutes to sketch and 2 days to work. ("Two days means 2 looks," says MAB).

A lot of black and white stripped fabric is purchased at Mood. That seems weird.

Tim's Walkaround

"I'm here to walk around and engage with you," says The Gunn. He's delightful.

Seth Aaron says he was inspired by the ringmaster and jugglers. He describes his vision and ends with a gleeful "I'm makin' a top hat!" Tim scrunches his face and asks, "How do you see styling this for the runway?" "No costume," he warns.

Emilio says he's making a "basically black and white look". Says The Gunn, "You went to the circus...where's the color?" Then Emilio proceeds to argue with The Gunn. We hate that. ("Is he lisping more as each week goes by?" asks MAB).

Anthony is feeling left out because he's the only designers working with color. Tim tells him that is great but in the face of Anthony's uncertainty The Gunn tells him, "Let your viscera rule...if you feel like you're forcing things then they are probably contrivances and it's not right". Anthony says he needs a dictionary. MAB wants one, too.

The sketch for Mila's design was lovely but she is struggling a bit. Tim rejects one fabric decision and guides her in a better direction. She is grateful.

Jay is doing exaggerated pants (uh oh, here we go again with the whole making-women-wider-in-places-where-they-don't-need-width thing). MAB notes that the jacket he's making looks like something Michael Jackson would wear.

Anthony says he is a prisoner in his own mind. That would be a scary place to be.

It's day 2 and we know there's going to be a second look. The Neighbor says, in a dead on Tim Gunn voice, "You must construct the same garment exactly 1/10th the size".

But, it turns out, we were wrong. There are no surprises.

Anthony says that words can not express what his dress means to him. Looks like he needs a dictionary AND a thesaurus.

The other designers call the MJ thing on Jay's jacket, which he then modifies. Seth Aaron is nervous for the first time in the competition and Emilio, well, Emilio continues to be full of himself and his "whimsy and sexiness" and declares that he wants the judges to say his dress is the best design of the season. Puke.

The Runway
Judges are Kors (MAB chimes in unison with him when he says, "Hi guys"), Nina and Cynthia Rawley (who is wearing a really dreadful shiny pink eeewww of a dress).

All three of us are in despair over the runway show:

Jay's look is awful, even with the barely toned down MJ jacket.
Mila's is an OMG and not in a good way....looks like a witch costume.
Anthony's dress is boring. The Neighbor says she likes it but MAB says it looks cheap.
Emilio's gown has too much going on in it and Seth Aaron has created a walking caution sign.

But once again, there's a reason we aren't sitting in the judges chairs.

Heidi likes Seth Aaron's look and Nina likes the "sense of drama and fantasy" although she does find it a tad costume-y. Cynthia thinks it is "interesting" and while Kors says the pants have "crazy crotch" he deems the jacket "strong".

Nina tells Anthony that from the waist down his gown is "a snooze". Cynthia lectures him about "knowing your fabric" (which is kinda rich given what she's wearing) and Kors actually goes up and feels the fabric and recoils with an "'s polyester". Then he disses the whole thing with a "it looks like a big, blue condom".

Heidi asks Jay to remove the jacket from his ensemble and says that the top and pants are "nice pieces". Nina is more enthusiastic, calling the pants "fantastic".

Nina says she is "not crazy" about Mila's look and Cynthia suggests that the collar could have been toned down and perhaps something on the gown could have been not shiny.

Then it is Emilio's turn and I struggle to keep down my dinner. "Stunning", "genius", "favorite garment of the season", "appealing". Oh my giddy aunt.

Because it is the last challenge, each designer must say why he or she deserves to go to Fashion Week AND who they think should go with them. Seth Aaron picks Emilio and Jay, Jay picks Seth Aaron and then gets all emotional and says the other person he really wants to "share the experience with" is Anthony. Oh, reeeeallly? Mila picks Seth Aaron and Emilio, Emilio picks Seth Aaron and Mila and then Anthony choses Emilio and uses the tearful "share the experience" line relative to Jay. Lovers!

MAB picks Emilio and Seth Aaron, hesitates and says that her gut tells her to pick Jay. The Neighb and I are both in agreement about Emilio and SA and we also pick Mila for the third.

The judges tell Emilio that his look was the unanimous favorite and he's going to the Park. He says he is humbled and then treats us to a deluge of reasons why he rocks. I think he needs to borrow Anthony's dictionary.

Seth Aaron is praised for having "tailoring that is consistently fantastic" so he too is goin' to the Park. Then he and Emilio wrestle with joy.

Anthony is told that he has grown as a designer but still needs to mature. He'sauf.

Mila is praised for having pushed herself throughout the competitions but told that she fell short on this challenge and Jay is poo pooed for having played it safe. The dum dum music starts and then, lo and behold, they are both in. It's a design off between the two people who hate each other! They will both be designing a collection but only one will show at Fashion Week.

Backstage Tim tells Anthony he can't feel sorry for him: "cover of Maria Claire, Jessica Alba..." He had some definite high points throughout (plus, he found Jay). With a little joke about having "done this before" he sends Anthony to the work room. The previews for next week show lots of Tim critiquing looks and the stricken faces of designers. Except for Emilio. Who argues with Tim.


Saturday, April 03, 2010

Eggs and Alleluias

Soon, very soon, I will grab the alb I purchased last year (so as to never, ever, ever again in my life have to enter into the malstrom that is the sacristy before a big liturgy) and prepare to assist at and participate in the Easter Vigil.

I love the Easter Vigil. Some people hate it because it is the longest liturgy of the year. It begins when the sun goes down...with the lighting of the sacred fire...and ends when it ends. Average? 3.5 hours. But it's gone longer...depends on how many people are being baptised.

But part of what I love about it is that it is so essentially Easter and Christian. Easter Sunday is swell but church always feels a little off. It's crowded and crazy and full of C&E Christians. And I don't begrudge them because I used to be one. But I can be far more prayerful at the Easter Vigil and, as an added bonus, then I have all Easter Sunday to prepare dinner and nap and what-have-you.

This Easter Sunday will be very special because Suzanne asked if we'd take god-daughter Kiki for the day. Suzanne is still recovering from multiple surgeries and other nonsense related to her cancer (which, btw, sucks) and, as she put it, "I want her to have a fun day but I'm just not up to making it happen". Well, that's what god-moms are for, say I. So there will be an Easter egg hunt and egg dying and lots of other general spoiling. The Child is very excited (because we weren't going to have an egg hunt this year and even though she was 16 she was disappointed so, yay, she still gets one). She is very sensible of her role as "big sister" in the Kikster's life. And I just realized that now that Kiki is in our life, Easter egg hunts will, in fact, continue in our home for the foreseeable future. So there you go.

Anybunny, here is wishing all my Blogtopian friends a very blessed Easter (if you swing that way) and a very nice Sunday to those who don't.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

My Fondest Wish is To Die in My Sleep so If the Apocolypse is Coming Don't Wake Me or The Movie That Wouldn't End

(Author's Note: It would be tempting to assume the following review is an attempt at April Foolery. That would be a mistake. I mean every bloody word).

You know how it is. Someone plugs in a movie and you watch it because the film was chosen by the same person who made your dinner so you feel an obligation to stick around, plus there's nothing on television. "2012" was The Spouse's movie pick last night.

Here's what was good about the movie:

1) John Cusack. Because I love him and he looks dandy in a suit, even when it is covered in dust and debris. Plus he has that wry way with him that plays very nicely as an ordinary guy (author of one book who is driving limo for a living while trying to be a decent father to his children with the lovely Amanda Peet who has left him for reasons that are frankly not very clear because I'd rather be married to John Cusack than the guy who played Amanda Peet's new squeeze). And he can deliver a joke in a deadpan way, which is entirely appropriate in a story where humor would be necessary but where "ha ha, you crack me up" jokes would be completely inappropriate.

b) CGI. This is a movie that was just waiting for technology to catch up. And I have to think that coming up with the wave upon wave upon (sometimes literal) wave of disaster and then creating it on the computer was some of the most fun the film-maker ever had. Never have I witnessed so much gleeful destruction. If you like watching stuff blow up or just enjoy a good effect, this is the movie for you.

Here's what is wrong with this movie: everything else.

Cheap shot, you say? Too easy? 'K - allow me to enumerate the ways in which this movie is horrible:

1) There are entirely too many characters and they continue to be introduced for hours, effectively rendering it impossible to give any of the characters...even the arc. With a cast that large there is nothing for it but to keep everything black and white. There are good guys and bad guys and that's the way it stays. And without character arc there isn't much upon which to hang an actual story. Which is why there isn't really a story here except that the world is going to come to an end. Which you pretty much knew from the beginning.

2) What story there is and the meager attempts at plotlines are completely unbelievable. I like a good adventure movie as much as the next girl and am quite adept at the art of suspending disbelief but pul.eeze. "Independence Day" is a more believable story. "Men in Black" is more believable. Freakin' "Wizard of Oz" is more believable than this damn movie. And I don't know what is worse, the smattering of unlikely sub-plots or the very freshman-film-studies-course attempts to tie them all together.

c) If you were driving in a car and the earth's crust began to shift and everything (and I do mean everything) was breaking apart and falling down I don't care how good a driver you are - no way you are successfully navigating through a crumbling neighborhood, a crashing freeway AND falling buildings without, uh, dying.

4) No one ever, ever, ever needs to see Woody Harrelson's bum crack. No one. Ever.

5) There's no way one guy with his family, which includes 2 kids, is successfully going to out run that many:
  • ash clouds
  • newly forming canyons
  • disintegrating runways
  • molten lave smackdown thingys
  • tsunamis
  • crumbling, crashing bits
  • flocks of freaked out birds
without major emotional breakdowns and/or, uh, dying.

I mean come on now. If that were happening to my family The Spouse would be screaming at me like it was somehow my fault that the world was ending and we'd both be screaming at The Child to "GET IN THE CAR" and she'd be plugged into her computer and all "In a sec" and then the house would crush her.

6) I didn't really get the Tibet thing although it did remind me of the season of "Battlestar Galactica" when the humans colonized that planet that wasn't earth but (thanks to Baltar's cowardice) the Cylon's took over and the humans were all subjugated and Lee and Kara almost got together but then she went off and married Sam who we later learn is a Cylon and Kara is, turns out, an angel. And THAT was more believable than this movie.

7) The ark thing was a) predictable and 2) more convincing in "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow".

8) No one has cell coverage that good or batteries that last that long. Please.

412) There were efforts to address themes: the power of love, family, reconciliation, what makes a hero, the indomitable human spirit, what is required to recreate civilization (and who gets to decide who lives and dies to make that happen). But none of these notions were seriously developed. There was a pallid attempt to create tension with devices like conspiracy theory and political power grabbing but all this just hung out there on the surface, along with all the stereotypical characters who (as I mentioned previously) do not develop in any meaningful way. Each "moment" designed to offer anything in the way of profundity comes off only as a filmic sound bite. Because the point of this movie wasn't to tell a story. It exists only to entertain those who enjoy watching stuff blow up and fall apart.

And, also, this movie never frakking ends.

I've often worried that at the end of my life God will say to me, "Dude, you spent waaay too much time on like, "The Sims" when you could have been doing my work". And you know what I'll say - as CGI images of the destruction of the Sistine chapel hurl through my brain?

"Forgive me, Lord, for squandering the time you granted me but please, give me credit for saving even one person from seeing "2012". And you know what God will say? "Fair point, that," and into heaven I will go.

To sum up: "2012". Seriously. Don't.

The Czarina gives this movie 3/4 of a Koihead. Because the effects are awesome. Andbecause John Cusack is my boyfriend.