Saturday, August 30, 2008

Weekend Update

Although I don't have anything new and/or exciting to blog about, I do have some continuing thoughts or new insight on stuff I've already written about, so here we go:

Biden My Time

I've pretty much fallen completely in love with Joe Biden. He's been great so far, and he's kinda adorable. I hope he comes to Michigan for an event and gives me a hug. Aviva over at the excellent blog The Birds and the PCBs linked me to this fact sheet published by Grist about how great he is environmentally, so check that out if you're interested. For a nice contrast, here's a similar fact sheet, also from Grist, that details how awful Sarah Palin, McCain's absurd VP pick, is on environmental issues.

Brian in the Hot Dog Joint with the Crossword Puzzle

I am ashamed to say that I did not live up to my commitment to watch the movie version of Clue the other day. It previously was available for online streaming through Netflix, but no more. sigh.

Conventional Wisdom

As I stated earlier, I continue to love Joe Biden and thought his speech was fantastic. I missed Bill, but I hear he was terrific, and I intend to watch his speech soon. Al Gore was also fantastic, particularly when he lumped Big Coal in with Big Oil. It made me so sad for him (he's so presidential!), but he's big enough now in his own right that I suppose it's okay.

As for Barack, I'm of two minds. I thought it was a good speech, to be sure, but I've definitely been more inspired and impressed by past speeches he's given. But as I give it more consideration, I realize that I'm not really the person that he was targeting with that speech. I'm already going to vote for him, so he doesn't need to worry about impressing me further. He was targeting the people that thought he was all rhetoric and no substance, and because of that, it was important that he had "boring" parts that detailed exactly what he wants to try and accomplish. In that sense, it was probably a success.

Also, tomorrow is the one month anniversary of me starting this blog by posting a funny picture. Hooray for not getting bored with it yet!

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Friday, August 29, 2008


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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Meet Sue Bee She

(So what if the challenge was sponsored by Saturn? I just wanted to make a quasi-relevant Miss Kittin reference.)

Yay! Another fun episode. I actually really like the episodes where they use non-traditional materials. I've decided that ten is a reasonable number of outfits to review, so read on for my thoughts on this week's episode and ALL the looks.


Leanne wins! And deservedly so. This photo doesn't quite show how interesting and cool this look was. I'm totally digging Leanne's architectural style. Those hip bumps work surprisingly well, and it was smart of her to stuff the model's undies with muslin to make sure they didn't collapse. The silhouette is really sexy and sleek, and - to make use of this week's buzzword - innovative. The only thing I don't love is the detailing around the bust (it's just a bit wonky), but the judges didn't seem to agree with me, so good for Leanne.


This was a really close contender for the win, and probably didn't quite get there due to its lack of real showiness. It did look a bit scarecrowish on the dressform, but it looked amazingly chic on the model. You really can't tell from a distance that it's made from seatbelts. Korto continues to wow the hell out of me.


This might be Jerell's first outfit I can actually get behind, although I still have minor issues with it. I loved the way he used the car parts on the top; in fact, that top might be my favorite thing that any of the designers created this episode. However, I think the skirt is a bit too short, and the styling is just wacky. The hair is too crazy and that's wayyyyyy too much eyeliner.


I liked Joe's entry this week. He actually described it quite well by calling it a motocross dress. The use of the logo is smart without being distracting, and I really like the collar. My only real complaint is the midsection; is her belly showing or is that just some sort of flesh-toned car-part fabric? If it's belly, I'm way against it.


Whoa. What? I don't get this look. The top is cute, and I like the belt. The skirt (s?) are RIDICULOUS. She did a good job creating her own zebra print, but this looks like a cupcake wrapper sitting on top of a lampshade. Much like her winning goiterdress, no one would wear this, and while that's sometimes okay in fashion, it just doesn't work here.

I'd also just like to comment briefly on the way she reacted when she found out her model had left the competition. First, she didn't seem at all concerned that something bad may have happened to Shannone. (To be fair, this may have been edited out, since Kenley's getting a pretty clear villain edit.) Second, she should have at least greeted her new model with open arms and thanked her for coming back. Instead, she immediately complained that the outfit wouldn't fit. Then she bitched more. She's hardly the first designer put in this position on this show, and she acted completely unprofessionally.

End rant.


This is the perfect outfit for the official Saturn flag twirlers.


Hot! Although Terri's caught some flak for repeatedly going back to pants, she does it so well that it's hard to blame her. I loved that the pants were entirely black in back, and while I'm not sure what the top is made of, it looks like it's just regular fabric. The perfect styling makes this another great look from Terri. On a normal week, she would have placed Top 3, but the designers really stepped it up this time around.


Like the oh-so-fabulous Laura Bennett, I like the idea behind this look. I don't have an issue with the "car wash" skirt, as Michael Kors called it, and the mirror shards are a really clever touch. Where this look takes a sharp turn for the worse (car metaphor!) is the chest. Even in this picture you can see it doesn't quite fit right. It was just so distracting to watch it bend this way and that as she walked down the runway. Still, it was a nice try, and certainly not as bad as the bottom two.


Oh Stella... why would you pick this week to step outside of what you normally do? This challenge was made for her, and she squandered the opportunity to make something "pretty." This is not pretty. This is a mess. The top doesn't match the skirt, and although the horizontal tiered effect of the seatbelt is kinda neat, there are some serious construction issues there. Keith's jackassery and the fact that Stella makes for great TV probably combined to save her.


OhmygodKeithwasjustaskingtogetpunchedthisweek. Argh. I'd like to think that his repeated comments about being underappreciated for his genius, world-altering work were just a product of editing, but there certainly seemed to be enough different examples of his martyr complex. YOUR STUFF IS NOT THAT GOOD. Sorry. In my mind, there was an awesome runway fight where Laura Bennett completely eviscerated Keith with a few bon mots and a condescending laugh. As far as I'm concerned, Michael Kors took it easy on him. Can you imagine if Nina were there for his little hissy fit? She would have gone the fuck off.

Oh right, he made an outfit. This is just ridiculously blasé and unflattering. It makes her look wider while completely washing her out, and the skirt is a mess. (And blaming that on the model was just disgusting. He's the one who made a skirt that she couldn't sit in. Maybe he should have sent her to hair and makeup before dressing her. Idiot.) The back of the top (not visible here) was bizarre; it looked like it was from an entirely different outfit. Overall, as Laura pointed out, there's really no concept here. Sure, it doesn't look like car parts, but it's still not good clothes. Keith will not be missed.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Conventional Wisdom

Yay spectacle! I love a good political spectacle. It actually makes for an interesting comparison that the Democratic National Convention is falling immediately after the Olympics, the spectacle to end all spectacles. Personally, I could not have cared less about the Olympics; I see no reason to suddenly take interest in sports I've never given a second thought to, and while the athleticism is impressive, I generally fail to see the overall point (aside from the glorification of drunk drivers.) It's a lot of pomp and showboating with no real purpose.

That's why this is so fascinating for me; the convention is also a whole lot of pomp and showboating, but with a ridiculously high purpose. Underneath all the rhetoric and attacks lies the feeling that the party must unite and rally to elect their candidates, while still trying to sway the undecided who might be watching. This is a delicate balancing act, but I'm mostly quite impressed by the Democrats so far. (Except Mark Warner. He sucked.)

Michelle Obama had a tough task to accomplish on Monday, primarily due to the unfair portrayal of her as an angry black woman by the media. She had to show her softer side while still telling America why they should elect her husband president. Her mission only became tougher when she had to follow Ted Kennedy's amazing surprise appearance. But as far as I'm concerned, she nailed it. (Full disclosure: I FUCKING LOVE THIS WOMAN. I wish she were running.) She did never came off as condescending or elitist, and addressed the ridiculous questions of her patriotism without overdoing the flag-waving. Although some have been complaining that she didn't attack enough, I think it would have been bizarre to hear her attacking John McCain when she was essentially up there as a character witness. Overall, fantastic. (Except the end with the kids. That was awkward.)

While Michelle Obama did a fantastic job, Hillary rocked this shit. She did exactly what she needed to do. Before she spoke, I had a conversation with my mother where I said, "Hillary just needs to go out there and say, 'You say you're my supporter but you're going to vote for McCain? WTF? You want me to have to go work with a Republican president?'" She did exactly this (except much more eloquently - I teared up a bit, I'll confess), and I think we'll hear a lot of the PUMA nonsense go away. As someone who supported Hillary in the primaries, it was kind of hard to watch her up there last night and not think that she would have made an excellent candidate (and maybe she still will in 2016), but I think any Hillary fan who doesn't fall in line after that speech is crazy or wasn't really a Democrat to begin with.

I'm way excited for the rest of the speakers; Joe Biden and Pres. Clinton (who spoke at my commencement!) tonight, and Barack tomorrow. They all have big shoes to fill after Hillary tore the house down the way she did, but I think they'll manage. All in all, I'm loving this convention, and it's having the proper effect on me, at the very least. I'm almost ready to cough up $10-15 for this campaign! Hell, maybe even $20.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Brian in the Hot Dog Joint with the Crossword Puzzle

Today, I was enjoying lunch at Red Hot Lovers, my very favorite provider of fantastic hot dogs and wonderfully fried things, and decided to pull out my copy of this fine book of crossword puzzles. I turned to a puzzle that's been causing me some consternation for a few days. You see, the major clues of the puzzle went as follows:

24-Across: With 37- and 49- Across, possible solution to 12-Down
37-Across: See 24-Across
49-Across: See 24-Across
12-Down: See 24-Across

As you might imagine, this was a bit baffling. However, today, I finally managed to solve 12-Down: CLUE. It all then gleefully fell into place. 24-Across: PROFESSOR PLUM. 37-Across: IN THE DINING ROOM. 49-Across: WITH THE WRENCH. I just about fell over in joy as I triumphantly popped a waffle fry in my mouth.

You see, I've always loved Clue. I don't remember quite how the obsession started, but I distinctly remember begging for the board game around 3rd grade. My family soon got sick of playing it with me. In 6th grade, I taped the excellent movie adaptation off HBO and began watching it incessantly. (I even loaned it to one of my middle school teachers.) I still love it to this day. And to top it all off (and I did not make this connection for about an hour or so), I was wearing this Threadless shirt today:

Clearly, this was meant to be. I'm glad I was able to have this last hurrah with Clue, because recently, this abomination was announced. That's right, the Clue we all grew up with is disappearing and being replaced by some bullshit "updated" version. Professor Plum is now "Victor Plum," a video game designer. Colonel Mustard is "Jack Mustard," a former football player. The lead pipe is gone and new weapons have been added. The lounge, study, billiard room, library, ballroom, and conservatory have all been replaced by new rooms. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Maybe I'm just being a fogey that clings to the past (at the super-old age of 22), but this is absurd. I can understand this "Clue Reinvention" being marketed alongside the original, but to phase out Classic Clue altogether is absurd. This is my childhood, Hasbro! There is absolutely nothing wrong with Clue as it is. Clue used to be a game of smarts and deduction, but now with these new "special abilities" and the possibility of "dying," it'll be just another lame game of chance. SIGH.

Oh well, I guess times change. Regardless, I think I'm going to wallow in nostalgia and watch the film for the umpteenth time tonight and remember how fantastic it is and continue the theme of the day. To almost quote Lou Reed: "Oh, what a perfect day. I'm glad I spent it with Clue."

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden My Time

As I'm sure you've heard by the time you read this, Barack Obama has selected Joe Biden, senior senator from Delaware, as his running mate. Honestly, I'm a little bit baffled, but the more I think about it, the more convinced I am.

My initial reticence stemmed from the fact that when I think of Joe Biden, I immediately think of two things: plagiarism and unfortunate remarks. As many know by now, when running for president in 1988, Biden borrowed words from a speech given by a British politician, leading to his downfall in the primaries. According to Wikipedia, he correctly gave credit to the Brit on all occasions except for one which was videotaped, so I doubt it was intentional, but the story has stuck around enough that a professor of mine related the story as an all-time great presidential campaign gaffe. Similarly, on the day he announced his candidacy in 2008, he remarked that Obama was "clean" and "articulate." Ouch. Again, I'm sure it was an honest mistake, but that's loaded language.

However, upon further thought, I'm reminded of how fantastic he was during the early debates. He's quite witty, and can speak passionately and knowledgeably about important issues (no doubt a result of being the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.) Also, the quickness of tongue that sometimes get him in trouble is pretty great at times. Example: When Pres. Bush was speaking at the Knesset, he compared Obama's willingness to negotiate with Iran to Neville Chamberlain appeasing Nazis. Biden's response? "This is bullshit." Awesome. Since the environment is my top issue, I'm also happy to see that the League of Conservation Voters has lauded the choice; Biden has a lifetime LCV score of 83%, which is pretty bangin', and he's been strong on climate change.

So, I suppose on the whole, I'm cautiously optimistic about this choice. I still don't really see what voters it will help him pick up, but hey, they know more about campaigning than I do. I'm excited for today's rally to see them together for the first time, and looking forward to what lies ahead.

Besides, on an entirely shallow level, "Obama/Biden '08" just sounds good.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Drag Me Up, Drag Me Down

After five seasons of this show, the drag episode finally arrived, and I have to say, for sheer entertainment value, it didn't disappoint. And because it was such a fun episode this week, I'm going to review EVERY outfit. Hooray!


For a guy who has probably not had too much exposure to drag, Joe really knocked this one out of the park. Although it seems like half of the design came from Varla herself (she even had appropriate accessories), Joe still executed it surprisingly well, given some of the fit issues he's had in the past. It flattered Varla's figure, emphasizing and de-emphasizing the correct respective things. I personally favored Terri's outfit, but each of the top 3 was deserving, and it came down to the judges' personal taste.


This was an absolute delight. I'm surprised that she didn't tell the judges her concept of "Women in Heat," because that piece of wit might have carried her to the win. (Of course, maybe she did and we just didn't see it.) Although they're not as visible in this picture, I loved the "rays" of sunlight coming out of the shoulder, and the detachable skirt would make for an excellent effect in a drag show. Again, a strong contender for the win. Korto seemed to be faltering for a bit, but I think she's definitely back and has a great shot of making it to Bryant Park.


Terri took a lot of risks with this outfit. There is a WHOLE LOT going on, but I think it absolutely works, especially given Acid Betty's persona. I love the blue striped fabric's placement on the kimono, and the red corset is an excellent play on an obi. I think what prevented Terri from getting the win is that this is more "scary drag" than "fun drag." Sweetie and Varla look approachable , while Betty just looks like she'll stab you. Still, this would have been my pick for the win (I feel like I'm always writing that about Terri), and I'm amazed she hasn't taken one yet.


This picture really makes this outfit look better than it was. That drooping wing on the runway was pathetic, and the fringe is too long. The dress itself wasn't awful, and I actually really like the color panels, but the wings are too distracting, so it's difficult to really appreciate it. Blayne continues to just scrape by.


Barf. This is bad. Kenley really lucked out to not hit bottom 3 this time around. It just looks like a bad Marilyn Monroe costume that you could get at any costume shop. It doesn't look well-made, and it's not the least bit interesting. Kenley = way overrated.


On the flipside, Leanne = way underrated. The more I look at this, the more amazing it is. This is some couture shit right here. I feel like I'm starting to get a handle on Leanne's aesthetic - it's very architectural, sort of like the similarly adorable Marie-Genvieve from Project Runway Canada. Hell, I would wear this in the right circumstances. Also, Leanne used the word "barflicious" on national TV, which instantly makes us best friends.


At first glance, I liked this, but upon further reflection, it looks a bit too Hot Topic/plaid Elvira for me. The train is too long, and I think the look would benefit from the removal of that little flap that's hanging down over her legs. Still, the design is unmistakably Stella's. She's doing a better job of adapting her aesthetic to the individual challenges than she was at first, but I think she's doomed to make it somewhere around 5th-7th place.


I don't know what happened to Suede, but for these last two episodes, he's seemed to be on the verge of an aneurysm. I kind of love that Hedda almost made him cry, though. The gloves do make her look a little bit like Godzilla, and the look is a bit too literal (although I guess subtlety isn't a prized characteristic among drag queens). All in all, it's perfectly fine, but not anything stunning. Still, something Suede said has provoked my newest Project Runway rule:

Project Runway Season 5 Rule #2: Your dead grandpa didn't help you design your outfit.


And we reach the Bottom 3! This was pretty much a mess, and I continue to not get Jerell at all. Although I think the judges overstated the normalcy of this outfit, it wasn't all that exciting. The fringe was indeed too long, and that collar just looks sloppy. It looks gross down, and when it was up, it was uneven and framed her face strangely. Perhaps most tragically, she pretty much just looks like a man in a dress. Rough.


This look was brought to you by my nonexistent cat. Seriously, what the hell is this? I am baffled by Keith's inability to get auf'd. Obviously, this was my least favorite.


Oh Daniel. Unlike many PR fans, I've been rooting for Daniel. I think he's just not meant for this competition. I thought this dress was really pretty and well-made, but he definitely could have gone further with it, especially on the bust. (Based on some of his post-show interviews, it sounds like she actually didn't want him to do such a thing.) Maybe I was blinded by fandom, but I was shocked that Keith stayed in while this was auf'd. I think Daniel will flourish in a more normal fashion environment, and if he and Wesley ever need a third, he should give me a call.

Next week: LAURA! LAURA! LAURA! Hooraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scheduling with Nina Garcia

Is it wrong to decide one's class schedule based on aesthetics? There's a class I'm currently enrolled in for the fall that I'm mentally wavering on, and I may have found a new criterion to determine whether I should take it. Here is what my Google Calendar will look like without the course (click for bigger):

So pretty! So symmetrical! All in all, I find it very aesthetically pleasing. It looks like a puzzle piece, or an early Mondrian painting, or a Sesame Street representation of the number seven. Now, here's my schedule with the class added:

BARF. VOM. Awful! The addition of that course makes me feel like my entire schedule is going to tip to the left and crash entirely. It's the rocks in Virginia Woolf's pocket. It's an anchor on a canoe. It's the cement boots on a mob victim. IT'S TERRIBLE. Oh, what will I do?

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Brian Love The Mole

Given that the fifth season concluded last week, I thought it would be an appropriate time to write what will likely turn out to be a eulogy for what may be my all-time favorite reality show: The Mole.

For the tragically unaware, the premise of The Mole is as follows: A team of people work together to complete tasks and win money that goes into a pot which will be awarded to the eventual winner. However, one player has been selected by the producers to act as The Mole and deliberately sabotage the tasks without being detected. At the end of each episode (usually two tasks), everyone takes a quiz that has ten questions about the identity of the Mole. Whoever scores lowest is executed (kicked off the show).

The show originally aired around 2001, I think, and ran for two seasons with "normal" people. These were truly the golden years of the show, as any fan will tell you. Anderson Cooper was the host, and he was by far the best host of a reality show ever. Funny, engaging, dreamy - sigh. Besides that, the casting was excellent. I really really want to be friends with the first mole, Kathryn, and I want to date the first runner-up, Jim. The second season also had several fantastic personalities. Who can forget crying Katie (who was part of one of my favorite reality TV moments ever), crazy Al, sexy Bribs, and the amazingly smartly pretty ultimate winner, Dorothy? These two seasons are some of the best reality TV ever made.

But ABC couldn't leave well enough alone, and the next season became Celebrity Mole: Hawaii. Also, we lost Anderson Cooper as Ahmad Rashad took over. Yes, Mole fans were treated to a season of 7 C-List celebrities playing their beloved game, but fortunately enough, one contestant singlehandedly saved the entire season: Kathy Griffin. Kathy was hilarious, fun, and evidently quite savvy herself, as she took down the grand prize. (Let's face it, if Erik von Detten had won, the show would have died right then.) In retrospect, it really wasn't such a bad season. ABC, discouraged by the fact that they had not managed to sink the show yet, followed this up with the way shitty Celebrity Mole: Yucatan, which Dennis Rodman somehow managed to win. The show was then canceled.

But wait! During the writer's strike last year, ABC announced that The Mole would be coming back! Mole fans everywhere rejoiced. Also, the new edition would go back to the original format, meaning it would be normal folks again! As the season started, though, things felt a little bit different. The same magic didn't seem to be there. We were quick to write off the new version, saying the casting was wrong, the challenges were worse, the editing was too obvious, and on and on.

Although some of these charges had merit, it's my opinion that we were all being a little bit too hard on the show. The challenges weren't quite as exciting, but it seems possible or even likely that the show had a much smaller budget this time around. The show also improved as the season went on, as most reality shows do. I really came to like both Craig, the Mole, and Nicole, the runner-up. Craig did an excellent job in both concealing his identity and sabotaging missions. Nicole, although much of the Internet hated her, appealed to me with her "ugh, fuck this" attitude and through comments such as, "I'm going to kill you in your sleep." Even Mark, the winner, seemed to get over his super-veiny hockey dad (shout-out to Kathy Griffin!) nature. As the season ended, I realized I was actually quite satisfied. Sure, it didn't measure up to the first two seasons, but it was still better than a lot of reality TV.

America didn't seem to agree though, and odds are that due to low ratings, The Mole will again be executed. But if it somehow gets renewed or passed off to a new network, do yourself a favor and tune in.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

I Have A (review of) Woody (Allen's latest film)

I had the pleasure last night of taking some time out from my stressful weekend of moving to see Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Woody Allen's latest film. Being a hardcore Woodyphile, I always make it a point to see his movies on opening weekend if possible, since it tends to enhance my enjoyment. (You know how when you play a song you really like for someone and you can tell they're not enjoying it, so you also don't like it as much at that moment? I'm trying to avoid that.) Anyway, with a few misgivings, I quite enjoyed the film.

A brief plot outline for those who don't know: Two young American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlet Johansson) are spending the summer in Barcelona (title already explained!) with a relative of Vicky's (the tragically underused Patrica Clarkson). Vicky values commitment and is engaged to a decent, incredibly boring young man, while Cristina is more free-wheeling and driven by passion. They both fall for local lothario Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem), an artist, but it's Cristina who ends up moving in with him. Things seem great until Juan Antonio's slightly unhinged ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz) reenters his life.

Upon a little reflection, I've decided the most appropriate word to describe the movie is realistic. While many of the events that occur are quite fanciful and even improbable, the reactions of the characters always make sense and seem reasonable. It's almost as if Woody decided to take two standard characters (Vicky and Cristina) and two non-standard characters (Juan Antonio and Maria Elena), throw them all together, and see what happens. Although we may be rooting for one outcome due to the way movies have trained us what to expect, Woody gives us what probably would happen if these events actually did occur to these people. It may not be entirely satisfying, but it also gives us a chance for greater identification with the characters. At the end of the film, can many of us really say that we would have been able to do things differently?

Vicky Cristina Barcelona has been the subject of some awards buzz, primarily for Penélope Cruz and for Woody's original screenplay. Penélope is most certainly deserving of consideration; she is fantastic as Maria Elena, never letting the role slip into the caricature it would become in a lesser actress's hands. I formerly was not a huge fan of hers, but after seeing her amazing performances in Volver and now this, I'm converted. I'm a little less enthusiastic about the screenplay; although the writing is very strong at times, I was somewhat put off by the narration. It was overused and somewhat stilting, and ultimately served as more of a distraction than an enhancement. But obviously, as a Woody fanboy, I'll still be rooting for him to get the nom.

In conclusion: Go see Vicky Cristina Barcelona. It's funny, poignant, and interesting, and along with other recent Woody films such as Match Point, it shows that he's still got new and different stories to tell.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Lipstick Bungle

While I'm not one of those who is claiming this to be an awful season of Project Runway, last night's episode wasn't very satisfying for me. I didn't truly love any of the designs (in fact, if I were a judge, I'd be tempted to declare that no one won the challenge), and I found the episode fairly dull. Thank God Chris March is coming back for Drag Queen Challenge next week. Having said all that, let's get into my assessment of this week's looks. And since it was teams and therefore more manageable, I'm even going to review all six outfits!


I guess I can agree with this being the winner, although I still have a couple problems with it. The first is that just adjusting the sleeves didn't feel like enough of a day-to-night change for me, and with all the harping on that topic, I'm surprised Keith didn't get called on it at all. Also, you can't quite tell from this picture, but the skirt seemed kind of Muppety as it moved down the runway. (God, that would be an awesome challenge - design for Miss Piggy! Or Sweetums! Or the Mahna Mahna guys!) I did like the top however, and the colors work together nicely. I'm just reluctant to give this team of Annoying People any credit, but in a weak field, this probably deserved to take it.


I guess I'm the only one who can't imagine this being worn in an office. I know it's supposed to be a creative office or something, but still, I would have a hard time taking this person seriously in a work setting. Brooke was right about the zebra belt being too much look, and the top is too shiny. I just don't get Jerell's style at all. Both of the middle teams were more deserving of a top two spot.


I probably would have put this in the top two. Although it too seems a little bit too much for the workplace, I find it more probable than Jerell's look. I love the print on that fabric, and I also like that Terri went with pants (which seems to be a specialty of hers.) I really like the slanting belt as well. Again, my major issue is that an off-the-shoulder top probably wouldn't be appropriate for the office. Otherwise, I'd give this the win.


Before getting into the outfit, can I just say how refreshing it was to see Joe and Korto handle their teamwork problems in a mostly mature way? I could see where each one was coming from, and it seemed like after their discussion, they could too. Anyway, I like the idea behind this look a lot, but it didn't really come together for me. The sleeves are far too big, and although it looks better than it did while they were working, the jacket could still be cinched more. I still liked it better than Jerell's, though.


I don't really get how Blayne didn't get kicked off for this. It has nothing to do with the challenge. You can't wear this to work and you'd look silly wearing it out. It looks like she grabbed three completely different items from her closet and tossed them on. Individually, they're not so bad, but together, it's just wacky. Seriously, what kind of executive wears shorts and a man-shirt? To paraphrase a commenter at Project Rungay, it terrifies me to imagine what it's going to take to get Blayne kicked off this show. (Maybe his outfit for a pterodactyl at gay Jurassic Park?)


This also had some serious problems, although I thought the judges were a bit unfair to Kelli. The taste issues were no worse than Blayne's design, but once the issue came up, it was obvious she was going home. The midriff-baring top was all wrong, though, and the jacket could have at least been a bit more demure in hiding the sluttiness. I do like the belt a lot. I just didn't see what made this so much worse than Blayne's, and Kelli had a much better track record than he. Ah well.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tyra Male

For the first time in the show's history, America's Next Top Model will feature a transgender contestant. (Jezebel has pictures of every girl here, if you're interested.) Meet Isis!

Lord knows she won't win, and we'll probably have lots of uncomfortable moments of ignorance and rude comments from the other girls, but on the other hand, given the wide range of people who watch ANTM and the dearth of transgender folk on TV, the exposure seems like it can only be a good thing. I for one am pretty excited to see how this plays out.

(Thanks to Mike for the link and for the title, which I shamelessly stole from him.)

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Use Your Words

I love crossword puzzles. SO MUCH. Although my enjoyment of crosswords began in earnest during my freshman year Japanese class when I feigned a shared interest with the constantly-crosswording cute boy sitting next to me, it has since grown into an obsession. (I think my favorite part is the puns.) I've made it a habit to do at least one print crossword a day, but sometimes, that's just not enough. This is why I recently decided to try and find the best source for free online crosswords.

(Disclaimer: I used the highly sophisticated method of googling "crosswords" and going through some of the top results, so this list is by no means exhaustive or perfect. Also, I only tried each site on one day; the quality of each may vary over time. If you know of any great places I omitted, please comment and let me know.)

In no particular order:

USA Today

Being something of a snob, I expected the USA Today crossword to be a)too easy and b) all about celebrities, so I was pleased when I found it to be moderately difficult and nary a celebrity was to be found. Although a few of the clues were perplexing (Clue: XFs, XJs and XKs. Answer: JAGS? Someone explain this to me), this was perfectly fine. The site seems to update daily, but given the alternatives, it's probably not worth it to come here just for the one available daily puzzle.

Best Crosswords

I initially felt that this site would live up to its name; after all, they offer seven (seven!) new crosswords a day in the "competitive" section of the site. But as you might expect, it's a little too good to be true. On the second crossword I did, I was already receiving repeat clues from the first one, which makes me think there's just a giant bank of clues and a computer constructs the puzzles automatically. This site is good for a couple puzzles a day, but I fear that repeated visits would result in a severely diminished challenge.

Washington Post

This might be my top pick. Although the Post's crosswords aren't quite as great as the New York Times, they also don't charge you to play online. (I love you Will Shortz, but I am not paying a yearly fee to do your puzzles.) These are the same crosswords that appear in the paper each day, and the archives go back a week. I would say that these are a bit higher than average on the difficulty spectrum, since even the Wednesday puzzles can be somewhat perplexing at times.

Boatload Puzzles

Too small and too easy. Nope.

Between this site and the Post, you should never be wanting for an online crossword again. WebCrosswords offers ten reasonably challenging puzzles at any given time, and the hint system is standard when compared to other sites. My only issue with this site is that it doesn't seem to follow the typical difficulty curve, in which Monday is the easiest and the puzzles get harder as the week goes on.

And so ends my brief survey of Online Crossword Land. I was going to examine more, but the offerings seem to get pretty sucky after these. In summary, the Washington Post puzzles are my favorite, with coming in at a close second. Although it's so much more satisfying to actually solve a puzzle in print (and in pen!) these should tide you over. The others are probably skippable. If I've missed your favorite, let me know and I'll give it a try.

Links Contributed By You Guys:
Ellen suggested this link, which itself links to many other crossword sites.

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Friday, August 8, 2008


On my last night in DC, my laptop took a tumble and now it won't charge anymore. Due to this unfortunate occurrence, updates will likely be less frequent for some time until I'm able to resolve the problem. I know you'll be able to go on without me, though.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Project Runway Rundown: Don't Put It Down

This week we got to see the designers create outfits for the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games, as judged by the super-dreamy Apolo Anton Ohno. Although I'm no great patriot, and I hardly intend to watch the Olympics, I actually thought this episode was a lot of fun. After the jump you'll find my opinion of the Top and Bottom 3 (still too many damn people).


Yay! A solid return to form for Korto. Although Jennifer (who was out, so that shows you how valuable her opinion is) felt that the white made the outfit look nurse-like, this was pretty great. Because the outfit was entirely white, it made the red shoulder patches that much more effective. I also liked the vertical white-on-white (shout out to Malevich) stripes that move down the pant leg. Although not my pick for the win, I can't grouse about it too much. Raise your hand if you knew she would win as soon as they started talking about her experience escaping Liberia.


When will Terri finally get her due? I know we're only four episodes in, but she's been by far the most consistently great designer and continually gets passed over for the win. (This only adds to my previously-mentioned fear of her being Alison'd.) I loved everything about this look and thought it deserved the win. The blazer screamed Americana, the striped top offset it nicely, and the pants fit amazingly well. I give it the edge over Korto because it maintained a classier vibe while still being sportswear. Ah well - hopefully Terri will be with us for a long while yet.


I might be having a hard time separating Joe's behavior this week (screaming at Daniel, "too many queens" - vom) from his output, but I wasn't as impressed by this look as the judges were. Maybe it's just my lack of a strong sense of patriotism. This certainly screamed, "These colors don't run!" but I didn't find it very fashionable or interesting. I certainly don't think he should have been out, but top 3? Questionable.


I still don't really understand what happened here. This is a bizarre look for any challenge, but especially this one. The hat? Awful. That cummerbund-looking thing in the front? Bizarre. The styling (especially the leggings with this outfit)? Appalling. Jerell punted on this one entirely, and he's lucky the judges were befuddled enough (and that others were worse) to let him slide on it.


Oh Daniel. He reacted to a sports challenge much like I would have - a mixture of confusion and frustration. However, even I can tell that this was all wrong. You can't go all third-rate Laura Bennett on the Olympics challenge. Although it wasn't an awful dress, it didn't fit the challenge at all, and the Betty Boop styling didn't help him a bit. I will say, I thought the judges were entirely unfair to him about the color of the dress. From where I was sitting, his shirt was purple, his dress was blue, and the colors were very different.


If Daniel didn't get the challenge, Jennifer didn't even hear it. How else do you explain this? Nothing about this says Olympics or America. Maybe librarian? This just missed the mark on so many levels that it's hard to even start critiquing it. The choice of gold stripes was strange, and perhaps a bit presumptuous at the Olympics, since this challenge was ultra-literal. The cardigan made it dowdy, and the jewelry along the neckline only made it worse. After showing us nothing special for four weeks now, it was definitely Jennifer's time to go.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

2 Cool 2 Be 4Gotten

Oh DC, I'm going to miss you.

I'll admit, I wasn't sure about you at first. You seemed to be hiding your charms, with your too-crowded bars and your overpriced everything. I was ready to write you off entirely, thinking, "Well, at least this internship settled that. I guess I'll find a job in Chicago or something."

I didn't give up on you, though. I started taking advantage of the Smithsonian museums and their awesome free-ness. (I'll especially miss you,
Hirshhorn.) I found bars and clubs that maybe were still a bit too pricy for my Midwestern sensibilities (at least, on an intern's budget, they were), but were great fun regardless. Screen on the Green was pretty fantastic, and honestly, I know it's clichéd, but going down to the National Mall and watching fireworks with the Washington Monument as the backdrop was surreal and amazing.

So yes, I'm going to miss you. I'm going to miss Five Guys, and I'm going to miss Musical Mondays at JR's. I'm going to miss the only gay sports bar I've ever even heard of, the awesome public transportation, and the homeless man who, as I walked past the other day while on my phone, rather jovially said, "Oh you. You're always on the phone!" I'll miss Mt. Pleasant as a whole, and I'll miss feeling like the work I do actually matters for something. I'll miss the new friends I made and the old friends I got to see for a couple months.

But I'll be back. Perhaps the most important thing I'm taking away from this summer is a solid sense that I need to be back here, working a real job with real pay with the opportunity to explore even further. That will be my motivation to get this damn degree.

See you next year, DC.


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Hilton/Rihanna '08

This is actually pretty awesome:

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mommy Mix

In two short days, I will be in a car with my parents for upwards of nine hours as we drive from Washington, DC to Ann Arbor, MI. Normally, a long car ride means that they play a lot of James Taylor and Bruce Springsteen while I try to turn my iPod up as much as possible without blowing out my eardrums. This generally results in a dearth of communication between us. Sad.

This is why I've created the Parent Playlist, full of music from my collection that I think they may enjoy. They get exposed to something new, and I get to listen to tolerable music. Win-win. My only criteria for this mix were that the songs might be palatable for my parents, and they had to be good for driving as well. Full mix after the jump.

Parent Playlist

1. The Queen is Dead by The Smiths
2. Feel the Love by Cut Copy (I'm not sure how they'll react to this one, but I've been listening to Cut Copy almost non-stop for the past few months, so I couldn't resist.)
3. Me, Myself and I by De La Soul
4. A-Punk by Vampire Weekend
5. South is Only a Home by Fiery Furnaces
6. You Got Yr Cherry Bomb by Spoon
7. The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts by Sufjan Stevens (I really want them to like Sufjan. Really really.)
8. Disconnect the Dots by Of Montreal
9. The Well and the Lighthouse by Arcade Fire
10. Me and the Major by Belle & Sebastian
11. Last Nite by The Strokes
12. That's Not My Name by The Ting Tings (This has been a recent favorite of mine, so I included it even though my parents will probs hate it.)
13. Crystal Clear by Fiery Furnaces (First repeat appearance! I don't think they would love Fiery Furnaces, but these songs are both fun.)
14. All Good Naysayers, Speak Up! or Forever Hold Your Peace! by Sufjan Stevens (Duh, it's about Lansing. And I still really want them to like Sufjan.)
15. Babydoll by Laurie Anderson
16. American Boy by Estelle feat. Kanye West (My mom loves Kanye.)
17. Move Your Feet by Junior Senior
18. Huddle Formation by The Go! Team
19. All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem (These last three might be too much for them, but we'll see. Gotta push them a little bit.)
20. No Cars Go by Arcade Fire
21. Mansard Roof by Vampire Weekend
22. Gettin' In The Way by Jill Scott
23. Flash Light by Parliament (A good 50% of my mixes probably end with this song.)

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Barry!

I may not always agree with him (something I'm sure that will be examined in greater detail as the campaign presses on), but hell, he's still pretty great, so today, I would like to put all that aside and wish a happy birthday to the next president of our country. Amazingly enough, he's turning 47, despite looking much younger and prettier.

Edited to add: Apparently, there are plans for a big "money bomb" of donations today as a present to Obama, so if you have the available money, you should consider making a contribution.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

The only thing warm is the blood in our veins

I feel the need for a dose of ferosh on this surpisingly torpid Friday, so I think I'll spotlight one of my favorite bands in recent times: Glass Candy.

One of the flagship acts of the Italians Do It Better label, Glass Candy is firmly rooted in disco traditions, but still bring a modern spin. The band is currently in its second incarnation; a few years ago, they were much punkier and abrasive. The dance element was there, but it wasn't as prominent as it is on their most recent LP, B/E/A/T/B/O/X.

- The lead singer's name is Ida No, which is awesome because she sounds like a Carmen Sandiego villain, i.e. Justin Case or Sara Bellum.
- The beats are way danceable and catchy.
- Although the emphasis is much more on the music and the sound, the lyrics aren't tossed-off; this is still something you can enjoy if you're just hanging out.

- Ida's vocals can get a teensy bit too high-pitched at times. Very infrequently, though.
- Some people don't like fun, so they probably wouldn't like this.

See for yourself if you like fun, and sample my favorite Glass Candy song:

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This article about a speech Pres. Bush gave in West Virginia yesterday angers me on many levels. Statements such as, "Coal is affordable. Coal is available right here. And coal provides jobs," make me want to vom everywhere. But here's the sentence that really irked me:

"We have spent $2.5 billion in clean coal technology. This year, we will spend $650 million for advanced coal research, the largest amount in 25 years."

CLEAN COAL IS NOT A THING. Let me repeat myself: There is no such thing as clean coal. All of the nasty stuff that is coal to begin with doesn't just disappear - it just goes somewhere else. Also, mining for coal? Terrible, especially since in West Virginia, the main form of coal mining is mountaintop removal. Besides all that, why are we still spending so much money on non-renewable resources?


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