Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Beginning to Look... Oh Wait...

I can't believe it's almost Christmas!!

We just bought a new artificial tree this weekend and put it up, still no decorations on it. At least there are lights! I did get our stockings hung and some decorations put up and some presents wrapped...

Christmas cards will be late but they are COMING SOON.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Snow Pics

Here is a picture of Bunny and me in the snow. Well, kind of. By this time the snow had mostly turned to rain, so we had to stay under a roof.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let It Snow!

Yes, we got SNOW in Baton Rouge last week! It accumulated so we ended up with around 3 inches on the ground. It was beautiful. Here are some pictures making the rounds (not my own):

State Capitol



















Memorial Tower at LSU



















Tiger Stadium














Mike



Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

So we've been a little busy lately.

1. We bought a house.
2. We moved.
3. I started a new job.

Very stressful, all of it! We are glad to be mostly settled in, and we like the house, though I am not happy about the commute. The job is going well so far, though two days is not really a good test. I'll keep you posted about that.

I've gotten most of my Christmas shopping done, because I did a lot of it before the move, but I still have a little to go. *sigh*

Life, she is difficult.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Royale with Cheesy

They finally got rid of Elina the Superior, who still didn't shine despite being in almighty Europe. Did you notice how much she resembled Julia Styles this week?

It's ridiculous that they didn't get rid of Marjorie who is a major pain in the backside. I can't imagine being patient with her in real life, but maybe I would feel sorry for her. Her insecurities are really crippling. Which is why it is a mystery that she's still there. She only made it to TWO go-sees and neither one would book her! And her pictures weren't that great. The others should feel pretty confident about next week unless they really screw something up, because TYRA. Marjorie needs to go home now.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Go Librarians!

U.S. News & World Report selected librarianship as one of the best careers for 2008. BOO-YAH! (Okay, so I'm a little late. I had other things on my mind!)

Here are a couple of articles about librarianship:

You Might Be a Librarian If...

"You go on vacation and visit other libraries" -- Yep, actually did that.

"You can kick everyone's butt at Scrabble" -- Yeah, IN YOUR FACE, uh... people! Who won't play Scrabble with me anymore!


Pros & Cons of Librarianship

"You can make up whatever you want and people will believe you just because you're a librarian." -- Hahahahahaha!

"Get to spend two hours designing a sign that says the library will be closed for the holidays." -- Awww, yeah.

But then again...

"People kind of expect you to know things." -- Ah, but see the first Pro above.

"If you know enough about how to find information to be a good librarian, you can definitely make more money doing something else." -- Ooh, low blow. But generally true.


The articles have more to them, of course. Read them. Then go arrange your DVDs alphabetically by genre.

Trust me, you'll feel better.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Oh Bummer

Big news, huh? I am SO BUMMED. I really didn't think this would happen; I would have bet money on it. I'm just glad I didn't. AND I had to learn about it after the fact, from a blog, because I missed it when it aired.

I can't believe they kicked Sheena off! Grrr! What? ANTM, of course; what are you talking about?

I just knew she would win! Gah! Thanks, Tyra. Thanks a lot. Now I have to re-figure out the crazy inner workings of your show, and, frankly, it isn't worth it. So henceforth I shall just empty my brain while I watch and alternately enjoy/get really irritated by the display then go about my business la la la.

I'm sorry I missed their first show in Amsterdam, but from what I read, it was pretty boring anyway. Now they are down to Sam the Tomboy, Elina the European, Annaleigh the Cute, Marjorie the Twitch, and McKey the Crooked. So, I guess... Elina or McKey? Oh hell, I don't know. And it doesn't matter. I mean, not that it ever does, but the ones left are either really annoying or really boring or both, so I just don't even really care.

That being said, I'll watch it tonight. Or, rather, tape it and watch it tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Oops!

One of Bunny's favorite things to play with is the phone. Ours, of course; why would he play with a toy one? Anyway, the other day we gave him the cordless to keep him from repeatedly rolling over and trying to crawl away while getting his diaper changed. As Andrew was wrapping up the diaper change, we heard a loud knock on the back porch door. The dogs went crazy barking and I looked out the window of the kitchen door, expecting to see my parents. Nooo, it was a policeman, looking very official and kind of frightening. I mean, I knew I hadn't done anything wrong, certainly nothing criminal, but there's just something about officialdom that sends my ever-present low-grade guilt from normal simmer to anxious rolling boil.

Anyway, we struggled to corral the dogs and I slipped out. The policeman (btw, doesn't that seem like a funny title, like something a child made up? Like I should be a librarywoman?) told me that he was there because they received a HANG-UP 911 CALL. Oh yes, he did. I was puzzled for a split second then remembered my darling boy and his favorite toy. "Oh! We gave the phone to our son to play with, and I guess... hahaha... sorry about that."

Andrew and Bunny had come out by this time so the officer asked us if we were the only people living there, took our driver's licenses, and called them in to whomever they call -- headquarters, the dispatcher, the FBI, the Parental Bunglers Hotline -- and when we got the all-clear, he said it was no big deal when we apologized profusely and he left. He was in a pretty good mood. Well, I guess so -- the hang-up 911 turned out not to be a dangerous domestic call or anything even remotely dangerous by any stretch of the imagination, unless you count damage to your eardrums from all the dog barking going on, plus he got a funny story to tell.

That's my Bunny, keeping life interesting for all nearby adults since 2007!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Here We Go Again

Andrew and Bunny and I are moving back (well, it'll be the first time for the Bun) to Baton Rouge in November. A month or two ago, I applied for a job at the State Library because we had considered the possibility of moving back down there so Andrew could finish his degree more quickly and also, you know, find a job. Not too many opportunities here. I got an interview but didn't really expect to be offered the position when... I was! After much discussion, we decided to go ahead and make the move.

So! We have been busy looking for a house (we think we'll close on one soon, so wish us luck!), packing things up, getting ready for a garage sale, all that fun stuff. It has all been -- and continues to be -- very anxiety-producing, but I'm trying to take it a step at a time and remain positive.

Feel free to send as many good thoughts our way as you'd like.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Projects and Models

I hate to say it but Project Runway's finale was pretty boring. They booted Jerrell, which really surprised me. His stuff wasn't my favorite, but the judges always seemed to really like it. I harbor a sneaking suspicion that they just wanted a woman to win (I think all the past winners have been men) so they took Jerrell right out of the equation. I hope not. Okay, I just checked and a woman won Season 2. I must have missed that season because she doesn't even look familiar. Anyway, that makes me feel a little less suspicious, but it still seems like they were thinking it was time for a woman to win again.

Of the three (women) who showed at Fashion Week, I actually liked Korto's line the best, which I knew doomed it, because whatever I like the judges usually hate, presumably because it's not ugly enough. Whatever, Leanne's line was okay, I was over the wave thing after the first two outfits, but apparently the judges liked it. Or just hated it the least.

ANTM is making less sense than usual to me. I'm sticking with Sheena as the winner because I still say they are going to want to have an ethnic girl win because last cycle's winner was a blond white girl. Of course, she was a plus-sized model, which maybe negates the whole ethnicity thing? And Marjorie and Elina are European, so maybe that qualifies as ethnic to Tyra. I don't know. Like Tyra said, you think you know ANTM, but you. don't. know. ANTM. I think she actually said the whole title, but eh. Too much to type.

They are too into Annaleigh lately, which usually means she will not win. In the last episode, where they did commercial spots for Cover Girl, Annaleigh was totally a combination of Fiona Apple and Meg Ryan. She suddenly morphed into this little Meg Ryan, Jr. that was honestly adorable. Yo. Despite the freaky close-close-CLOSE close-up shot at the beginning. The director's big claims to fame were Nike and Converse commercials, which had me wondering how this made him qualified to do a make-up commercial (because, um, a shoe and a face are not the same thing). But that is the wild, wacky world of ANTM. As with the making of sausage and law, it's better not to know the inner workings of Tyra's mind.

Tyra thought Annaleigh's commercial was so good, she said it knocked her out, or something, and she fell over onto Nigel's "sexy shoulder." Jeez Louise, it is sexy, sure, Tyra, but what about the big head attached? His ego is soon going to need a table of its own. Don't make it worse.

This was also the episode where they announce where they are taking the girls who continue on in the hopes of becoming America's Next Top Twat, er, Model. So they make a big deal of where they're going and everyone's all WHOO Amsterdam! Then Tyra gets a stern face and says 'Of course ONE of you is not going to Amsterdam. Because you SUU-UUCK!' Wow, thanks for the total buzzkill, is this actually America's Next Top Sadistic Witch?

So, after Marjorie barely stumbled through her commercial because of her freaking nerves, I'm so sick of her NERVES, they kicked off Joslyn! Who did admittedly turn in a fakey-fake commercial, but at least it was amusing and light-hearted and showed she has showmanship if nothing else -- especially since just before this she had been puking into a garbage can -- and it wasn't a sad exhibition of I'm-just-going-to-say-the-lines-really-fast-so-I-can-get-this-over-with like Marjorie's. I don't get it. Why would Tyra go out of her way to get rid of the one remaining black girl? Especially when hers wasn't the worst performance?

Maybe it's because of the tension between Sheena/Sam (America!) and Elina/Marjorie (Europe!) -- they think it keeps the show interesting? Note to Tyra: Dear Ty-Ty, It doesn't. They are all lame and uninteresting. Love, Me

Anyway, the mystery is still alive at ANTM. I really don't know America's. Next. Top. Model. Tyra, you minx!

Monday, October 06, 2008

My Reality

I didn't get to see ANTM this week; I had Mom tape it but when I tried to play it back it kept jumping from SLP to LP. I have no idea why or how to fix it so I didn't watch it. Oddly enough, it stopped jumping on Project Runway which was on immediately after ANTM. Maybe the CW was causing the trouble.

Anyway, I saw that Clark got barred! (Okay, I stole that, I admit it. The whole Clark Bar thing. It's funny.) It's about time. They may make a chunky girl a top model but they are not going to make a lipless freak a top model. Not on my watch.

Ha! As if it matters anyway. I noticed that one of Whitney's My Life as a Pretend Cover Girl spots had her BAKING AND EATING CUPCAKES. As if they would ever pretend that any typical stick figure model even eats, much less cupcakes! Or knows how to use a spoon, much less an oven! Oh whatever, I can't even get worked up about this, it's so stupid.

Project Runway was pretty fun to watch. The contestants had to make evening gowns based on nature as they found it in the New York Botanical Gardens (which, y'all, beautiful, really gorgeous). The dresses were okay, I didn't really like any of them. Kenley showed her a** again and everyone, including the judges, commented on her attitude. All three of the other contestants were hatin' on Kenley, poor thing. I mean, her attitude hasn't been great, and I may have been just like them if I were there, but watching her sit by herself when they were obviously talking about her just made me feel sorry for her.

Anyway, the judges couldn't decide who should go and I was all like, let all four stay! Because I think they've all been pretty good. And lo, Lesli spoke and they saw that it was good. My idea, that is. But only three can compete at Bryant Park for some reason -- like Heidi Klum couldn't change that if she wanted? Really? -- so they all have to make complete collections only to have one told they are out RIGHT BEFORE FASHION WEEK STARTS. That totally sucks, but I guess the designers love creating a whole collection even if they get booted and it was a second chance for either Korto or Kenley (the bottom two), so they were pleased by that. As was I, of course.

So, for next week... Will Kenley have a better attitude when she comes back? Will Korto's booty be just as big? (Y'all, it's tremendous. Not that there's anything wrong with that -- it's almost majestic.) Will Leanne still be slumping around with limp hair and sad bangs? Will I have figured out what actor I think Jerrell most resembles? Stay tuned!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall. The Salon Wall, That Is.

Well, ANTM gets sillier by the episode, which I didn't think was possible. The whole princess party/Miss Jay as the wicked witch/Mr. Jay as Prince Charming/Tyra "acting"... awkward. Awk-waard! Tyra has an odd way of presenting herself to the contestants -- one minute she's the best friend, then she's the den mother, then she's the show-off friend, then she's the judge/executioner. If I were one of the contestants, I would dread the day Tyra showed up in the living room.

Anyway, the photo shoot was fun to watch because the photographer was Russell James, who (whom?) I really like and would love to work with in another lifetime when I'm a photographer. I don't know what happened to his reality show, The Shot, because I really enjoyed it -- hello, I watch ANTM for the photography! So I guess it didn't get the ratings. Damn you, American Public!

Anyway again, the show otherwise was extremely anticlimactic for the makeover show. The only one who was upset was Elina, and I don't blame her. They weaved in this fuzzy sort of red poodle on her head. That dog was barking! Okay, I don't know what that means, but it was ugly. She got over being upset about it pretty well and lied lied LIED to the photographer and supermodel/bathing suit designer at the photo shoot and said she loves it, because she's not a complete idiot. Except for her pash on Clark, the snouted wonder. Most of the makeovers were pretty tame except they gave Clark dark brown, almost black, hair, and honestly, the only thing going for her before was her blondness. She has a look that we had a very non-PC colloquialism for when I was growing up; I can't say what it is because I may offend people, but I can hint that it has something to do with where the person looks like they live. Like her real name is Sharlena or Bambi or Brittnee or Rylee or Reba Garthetta or maybe even Sharlena Rylee Garthetta. Let's just say I don't think she's attractive and move on.

Most of the other girls ended up looking better.

Brittany, who (whom?) I should just rename Bitchany, seems to think she knows everything and has the right to set up inquisitions and judge the other contestants. See that superior look? That isn't a pose. All of the other girls let her get away with it, so I guess they have Only Themselves to Blame, but... me no likee her. She was grilling Elina because Elina said she hates her mom, and was all, Does she pay the rent? Does she buy groceries? Like that's proof of a good mother. That's the bare minimum of what should be expected of someone who BROUGHT YOU INTO THE WORLD. I wish Elina had stood up to her better, she just said You should know my mom. I mean, Duh, Bitchany, do you know her mom? Do you know what her life has been like? Her mom could manage to put a roof over Elina's head and get her the minimum amount of food necessary for survival and still be a horrible person. (Of course, Elina could be an ungrateful brat, but my point is that Brittany didn't KNOW and was handing out judgments like the Recording Angel or something. Just like she wanted to rake Hannah over the coals for racism, when Hannah hadn't displayed any racism at all! Well, at least not that we saw. Well, not yet. That we saw. Anyhoodle, I would have pushed Isis away from me in the hot tub, too, not because of racism or any kind of -ism other than I don't like people I don't know very well drifting into me in a hot tub-ism. That was rude, if you ask me. And I think Lauren Brie pushed, too, but Hannah got all the blame. And who's whiter than Lauren Brie? She's named after cheese!)







But guess what? Sometimes life is good and justice is served. Brittany, aka Bitchany, aka The Pretty Girl, got the AX. Or AXE, if you prefer. Yes! Every once in a while they get one right and it makes me happy. Honestly, I didn't think she was the worst model and I don't think she had the worst picture (hello, Clark!) but she was by far the most annoying one, so good riddance. As she was leaving she said she was too bright a star to just fade away, which may or may not be true, I can't say; what I can say is that I'm just happy she'll be shining her little superior know-it-all light elsewhere from now on.

Oh! We got to see Nigel's wife! She does exist! She's some sort of CoverGirl spokesperson and maybe model? I don't know. She's pretty, that's for sure, but I still think Nigel wanders. I mean, come on.

So. Some of the girls seem like fun, like Joslyn, Samantha, and Sheena. The others seem mostly boring, but maybe they've just been edited that way. I still say the winner will be ethnic, but it won't be Isis. Tyra will keep her around long enough to impress us all with her broad-mindedness and then BOOT. Besides, Russell James didn't know she was transgendered and said he didn't think she had the facial structure for modeling. So I think she's there more for Tyra than for her.

What am I saying? Aren't they all??!!

PS - As much as I hate Mr. Jay's hair -- it looks like someone spilled baby powder on it and he only had time to brush it half out and then just said To hell with it -- I still think he's good-looking. Why do so many people seem to think he's gross? And he's been much more likable the last few cycles, I think. Less orange, less strange, less hyper and mean and kiss-ass. I still don't see why Miss Jay gets to judge and Mr. Jay doesn't, but Tyra didn't ask me what I thought. If she had, this show would be a LOT different. And honestly, probably a lot less fun.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

America's Next Top... Dude? Stick Figure? Small Mammal?

So on ANTM this week, it was the usual. Charges of racism, girls freaking out, drama, drama, DRAMA. And yet boring.

The photo shoot was kind of fun to watch, and I won't make fun of any of them on that rope ladder in long dresses and high heels because I'd probably still be hanging there if I had to do it. "Jay?... um, Mr. Jay?" [sound of crickets]

Anyway, I have to talk about some of the contestants because it is what I do.

This is the first cycle in a while that has NO PLUS-SIZED GIRL. Oh, but it wasn't rigged last cycle, not at all. Instead, this cycle has a transgendered contestant and an unemployed girl and a girl who is apparently French? (I missed where she was from, partly because I can't hear her when she speaks and forget lip-reading because she tends to hide her face in her hunched-up shoulders. If you are really that shy and insecure, what possessed you to try out for a modeling competition???) and a vegan lesbian with a vaguely Middle European look. Yes? No? Whatever. She apparently has a little crush on Clark and I cannot figure out why. Clark has a SNOUT. It's a relatively pretty snout, sure, but still... snout. SNOUT. Wow, that word is beginning to lose all meaning. So, here you go... proof:








Okay, maybe that picture doesn't really prove my point, but it is all I could find. I am not as techno-savvy as I'd like to be, and I can't afford all them dadgum gadgets anyhow. You're just going to have to watch the show and see for yourself (soon! I don't know how long she'll last!). You'll see; she is snout-licious.

I think Isis is there primarily as yet another way for Tyra to seem open-minded and warm and fuzzy, but DAMN is he, urgh, sorry, she secure! I mean, I don't think she's the sharpest knife in the drawer (and maybe that helps keep your skin thick -- if you can't understand the insult, you can't feel it) but anyway, she seems pretty secure and focused. I admire that. And she's taken pretty good pictures so far.

Hannah, on the other hand, poor thing. She's from ALASKA, in case you haven't heard her say that about a hundred times already. But she is from a small town and is only 18, so maybe she's as gosh-darn innocent and vulnerable as she seems. I do know that if those tough inner-city girls were ganging up on my daughter, I'd be heading straight for Tyra, nails drawn. I'm not saying she hasn't made some mistakes that have maybe hurt some of the other girls' feelings (though they don't seem hurt so much as relishing the chance to take down a vulnerable lil ole white girl), but seeing her cry made me feel for her parents. That's all. Well, that and I know she's going to go through all that for nothing, at least as far as the competition goes. I don't think she'll last very long. But hey, maybe some personal growth!

They kicked off Nikeysha last night, and I'm not sorry to see her go. I just didn't think much of her modeling potential. Tyra asked her what she eats and she didn't really answer. Um, what was the point of that, Tyra? "Girl, are you anorexic? Get off my show!" Whatever, it's not like they really care, see oh, almost all of the girls that have ever been on this show, except the plus girls, of course. But it was disturbing to me that in her photograph Nikeysha was wearing a bangle bracelet -- designed to fit on your forearm -- on her upper arm. I'm sure that is not uncommon in the modeling world but yurk. When your elbow is bigger than your bicep, it's time to EAT A SANDWICH. Damn.

Anyway, as much as I figured that the show is rigged as far as Tyra having planned which type of girl she wants to win before the cycle even begins, I now think that she has decided which girl will win before it even begins (filming, at least) and they manipulate everything around that. Which is more disappointing to me than knowing they have decided which type they want. So, anyway, this cycle winner won't be a blond white girl, and probably won't even be a white girl. Sorry, Lauren Brie, Samantha, Clark, Marjorie, Annaleigh, McKey, Hannah, and Elina, this cycle gone be 'bout flava.

While I don't like Sheena's hood-speak or fake boobs, I do like her. So far. I think she's got a decent shot at it if she can stop hoochie-ing it up and get some class. At least the little bit that is required for ANTM. (And although I am anti-fake boobs unless it's reconstruction, she has a rockin' figure. I wonder what she looked like pre-surgery. Probably pretty rockin'. Ah well. Girls today.)

Joslyn, who is the Louisiana girl (holla!), is unemployed and has a tendency to use a strange high-pitched voice à la Chris Tucker (kind of; and I can't decide if she can help it or not), but she seems like fun. If she will get off the racist thing with Hannah. (I think they all need to just calm down. Besides, I think Hannah pushed Isis because she's a dude-but-not-really, not because she's black.) Anyway, Joslyn tried out for ANTM thirty times. Yes, that's right, 30. No wonder she's unemployed! Trying to get on ANTM was her job. I wonder if they accepted her just to get rid of her, you know? But she has taken some surprisingly good pictures.

All right, that's all for now. I'm too busy worrying about Hurricane Ike to think about this anymore.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mother Nature is a Tricky Mother

Well, Gustav came through and fortunately only brushed by us, bringing wind and rain but not much terror. We stayed at my parents' because their house is much sturdier than our rental, and they of course lost power for about 12 hours while ours apparently STAYED ON, but whatever, I can't see the future.

So, completely looking the gift horse that is Gustav NOT picking up the house and depositing us we-knew-not-where in the mouth for a moment, I'm griped because we took a boatload of stuff over there in case a tornado peeled off the roof of our house like the seal inside a new jar of peanut butter (YUM) and instead of being able to unpack, do laundry, pick up tree limbs and debris, maybe even EAT LUNCH, I (unexpectedly) had to come to work! So I'm sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs. Metaphorically, of course. Not being sure what constitutes actual twiddling, my thumbs are completely innocent. They wanted you to know that.

Anyway, we are okay and I really am thankful for that. Thanks to those of you who checked on us!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Drag Race!

Last night's episode of Project Runway had a really fun premise -- the designers were to create a look for their clients, who were all drag queens. Fun, right? Drama, outrageousness, maybe a catfight or two, no? NO. It was mostly a yawn. Chris March came in to explain the challenge to them and introduce the clients, and then he walked around and commented on their designs with Tim, but we didn't really get to see him much. And I like Chris! And did he get to be the guest judge? NO. It has to be someone famous, so of course it was RuPaul. Who was actually thoughtful and funny, so okay, but I still missed my Chris. And I insist that he was robbed of being fan favorite last season. That little fierce Christian slip of a dude, come on; must have been the gay vote.

ANYWAY. The episode was pretty good, some funny moments, and it was pretty interesting to see what each designer came up with. One funny moment was Tim telling Suede to stand his ground about his design and telling his client... and here Tim censored himself, and it was funny because, well, it's Tim. He doesn't curse. Not on Project Runway, anyway. So he was like, "You just have to say, 'You'll just have to *gesture (not obscene)* deal with it, sister' -- and I am more in love with Tim than ever. That's probably not what he said, but it was something similar in spirit and vague form, at least. I'm working from memory, people!

Also, Suede had a difficult queen who asked him if he made gloves because he was too lazy to make sleeves (answer: uh, no), so he talked to him the next day and said I considered your suggestions, and I made a few changes but I don't want you to go out there and... whatever, as I said, I'm working from memory and I don't remember exactly what Suede said, but it was refreshing that he was direct and handled it in a mature and decent way and his client was all, Oh, honey, let's just drop all that and start fresh! And everything was great and they sang a song and danced a little jig.

Okay, disappointingly there was no song and no jig, but they did make up and everything was great and Go Suede! For once someone on a reality show handled something in a direct and adult way. Oh, but he did sort of defuse the drama element, didn't he? Hm. Well, that's okay, that's not my favorite kind of drama anyway. I was looking for it in the outfits. And they DID disappoint.

Here were the best, in the judges' opinions:

Third best:




















Second best:




















Best!



















I have to agree with them. And one of the funniest things about the episode, to me, was that the winner was the straight guy!

Go Greek! Or not.

When I first went to college, I went through Rush, against my inclination. After getting through all the (fake) parties and (phony) hoo-ha, they told us all not to go suicide (choosing only one sorority instead of three in order of preference) because if you don't get that choice, then you won't be in a sorority at all. (Horrors!)

I was too young and unsure to go with my gut instinct to only put one (because I only really wanted that one), so on the day of the big REVEAL (I don't remember what they actually called that day) I toddled up to the student union with all the other young hopefuls to find out who wanted me. (This was in the days before the computer, y'all. We had to actually go up to the building and look at a PAPER on a WALL. Old school, yo.)

I got my second choice. Which I didn't want. So there I was, surrounded by squealing, excited, screaming, happy, and did I mention squealing? girls, absolutely gutted. I went home, disappointed, embarrassed, angry, and humiliated. You know, if I'd gone suicide, I would have gotten a call the night before the big results day and could have just stayed home and nursed my humiliation in private.

So thanks for that awesome experience, Greek system at LSU! You rock! No wait, remove r-o and insert s-u. That's it.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Pwoject Wunway

Have you noticed that Heidi seems to be making more effort to pronounce her r's this season? It's a shame, really, because I loved it when she said Bwuefwy. It's endearing. I mean, look at her.


















And that's after having three children! So, you know, it's nice to see something a little less than perfect. Or hear, rather.

Anyway, about the actual show... I missed the first episode, but I've watched the last two, and... Suede? It's annoying enough that he calls himself Suede, but the fact that he LITERALLY CALLS HIMSELF SUEDE is cringe-inducing. Referring to yourself in the third person is so... eighties. And it was pretentious and stupid then. Suede needs to get some other shtick because this one is old and tired. Okay, Suede? Can Suede do that?

And Blayne... Why did he stare at Kenley and then say "I'm going to eat you" (or whatever strange thing he said)? The boy's not right.

Ugh, and the whole Holla atcha boy thing... Blayne trying to get Tim to say it (though Tim, hilariously, persisted in saying "Holler at your boy") then giggling because it was so incongruent, as if Tim looked silly... No, dear idiot, Tim rarely, if ever, looks silly. You, on the other hand...

I adore Tim. I love how he stopped and said, "What?" when Blank (Blayne) said Holla atcha boy and they had to explain it to Tim, and really, to me, it served to make the slang-throwers look like the illiterate nitwits they are, and yet Tim didn't intend to insult them or anything, he just managed to (in my opinion). In the nicest way possible. He's just so darn NICE. PR will tank if Tim ever leaves it.

In an aside, did anyone else notice how fabulous he looked walking around New York with the drove of designers? He was wearing jeans (I think) with a raincoat and still looked stylish. It didn't hurt that the designers were given ugly orange rain ponchos to wear so by comparison I might have even managed to look pretty good, but he looked good even before that. Man knows how to dress, is what I'm saying.

And the designers should ALWAYS listen to him. When he comes around to check on them and gives them his opinion and advice, he's usually spot on. When they persist in their little ideas after he's shaken his head at it in his I'm-so-sorry-but-that-just-doesn't-cut-it way, they always get negative reviews from the judges. Usually about whatever it was that Tim didn't like.

As for the show structure, what is with the plethora of celebrity judges? I think PR is popular enough without them and they don't bring anything to the show. And the other judges apparently don't listen to them anyway. I mean, in the last episode, Sandra Bernhardt obviously didn't like Kenley's dress but it won anyway. I think Leanne was robbed, her dress was MUCH better. It totally benefitted from not looking like Alexis Carrington's dress just exploded on one side, or got so sick of itself that it vomited tulle.

Sorry about that.

But look.

Vomitous...



















Not-vomitous...



















I think Kenley's dress was well-made, but I didn't get it. Mostly because the print and the style (high neckline, big shoulders) are so 80's and I detest 80's "fashion." It's odd when you consider that Kenley defines her aesthetic as 40's-50's. I'd say she missed that mark by a country mile with this dress.

I do love how she has created a look for herself; she looks like Bettie Page. Except, you know, dressed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cosmoslutitan

I just flipped through a Cosmopolitan while eating lunch, since I finished my last book and don't have a replacement yet. It is COMPLETE trash. Even more than it was when I was in college.

The cover alone is filled (and I mean filled, there's barely a wedge of space for Scarlett Johansson, though there's of course room for her cleavage) with the following blurbs:

Cosmo's Big, Juicy SEX POLL: 30,570 Dudes Tell What They're Dying for You to Do in Bed

8 New Love Truths You Must Learn

Sexy Eyes: Just Try This Trick, p. 200

How Dirty Is His Mind? Filthy, to Be Exact. You'll Be Shocked... and Intrigued

Why Men Cheat in August

SEX EXTRAS: Naughty Games (Tear Out for Tonight), Hilarious Bedroom Bloopers

Oh, yeah, and Scarlett is going to tell us all What She Learned About Love--and Monogamy

Um, she's 23. Twenty-three. Yes, this is who I want to get relationship advice from -- someone who is barely able to legally buy a drink AND doesn't live in the real world by any stretch of the imagination.

Oh, and those are all the blurbs. There isn't one that isn't sex-related. Well, it is THE HOT ISSUE, so I shouldn't be surprised. But seriously... why guys cheat in August? Is it really different from why they cheat in February or October or May? I'm guessing it's not. But let's look. Oh, see, the article title is Why Guys Cheat in the Summer. Okay, it's just saying they are more likely to be unfaithful during warm-weather months. Which is all year down here, so... too bad, Southern ladies! Get used to it!

And I don't think I'm going to be intrigued by some loser's filthiest fantasies, but to be fair... turning to page 172... Okay, this is mostly guys talking about how they want to be able to please their girlfriends and not worry about this or that... Not filthy at all. Hm. Now I AM intrigued.

When looking up these articles, I noticed the Table of Contents had some articles -- well, the hot ones -- thoughtfully labeled with little Hot icons, just in case I'm too stupid to decide if an article is Hot or not. Oh, well, I guess for faithful readers...

Even all of this did nothing to prepare me for the guy without his shirt feature. It implores me to Check Out This Month's Half-Naked Hunk. Huh? What magazine is this? Is this aimed at women?

Very strange. If this is what Helen Gurley Brown thinks is feminism, it leaves me cold. And confused. Is emulating men's worst traits the way to gain equality? I don't think so. I've always thought she had an odd idea of feminism, anyway. In the past, Cosmo included the occasional article encouraging women to take charge of their own sexuality, but most of the articles were -- and are -- still about How to Please Your Man; they're just worded a little differently.

But I'm afraid I'm in the minority on this. I think I'll go buy a cane and practice brandishing it, so I'll be ready when all the noisemongering little hooligans start throwing their new-fangled contraptions -- like Frisbees (outlandish word!) -- on my lawn.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A First!

Here are some pictures from Bunny's first birthday party, courtesy of his Uncle Mark. We haven't uploaded ours yet.

Sneaking a hand over to the big cake...






What cake? Who, me?






With his little chocolate cake. My cautious boy.









































Sugar kicks in...


















Whoo! Balloons! Whoo!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tippity-Top Chef





Finally! I finally watched the TC finale!

Again, I'm working from memory, so forgive me any lapses in detail...

They start with the contestants learning what their final challege is -- to create a traditional four-course meal progressing, well, traditionally: fish, chicken, red meat, dessert. They each get to choose a sous chef from three world-renowned chefs: Eric Ripert, whom we've seen before, April Bloomfield, and Dan Barber.

The cheftestant with the most elimination challenge wins gets to choose first, BUT since Richard won the elimination challenge in Part 1 of the finale, he tied Stephanie, so they have to draw knives. Richard tells Stephanie to draw and her knife has the number one on it, so she gets to choose first. She chooses Eric Ripert, who seemed like a great match for Richard to me, but he's apparently kind of a demigod in the chef world, so they all probably wanted him. Richard chooses Dan Barber and Lisa gets April Bloomfield (and they seemed to get along really well, so I guess it worked to Lisa's advantage. Hmph.). They all go to the kitchen and work on the menus and prep for the next day.

The next day Tom comes in and tells them, No sous chefs, you're on your own! Y'know, I imagine these curve balls wouldn't seem quite as bad to the contestants if he didn't seem so gleeful when throwing them.

Here are their final menus:

Lisa
Prawns with Chili Basil Sauce, Crab, Potato Chips, and Pea Tendrils
Tom Ka Soup Dumplings with Organic Chicken, Golden Threads, Toasted Chilies, and Cilantro
Coriander and Soy Glazed Wagyu Strip Steak over Chayote and Cucumber Salad with Garlic Chips and Chili
Black Thai Rice with Carmelized Coconut, Mango Cream, and Crispy Taro

Richard
Grilled Scallop with Mango and Pineapple Vinegar
Guinea Hen, Duck, Foie Gras, Chicken Egg with Spring Vegetable
Pork Belly with Pickled Radish and Mirin Broth
Banana Scallop with Bacon Ice Cream and Cilantro Stem

Stephanie
Sauteed Red Snapper Filet with Truffled White Asparagus and Clam Broth
Seared Quail Breast with Butter Poached Lobster Ravioli and Mango
Roasted Lamb Medallions with Maitake Mushrooms, Braised Pistachios and Blackberry
Ricotta Pound Cake with Lime Glaze, Pineapple and Salted Banana Cream

There really wasn't a lot of drama in this episode. I hate to say it, but it was pretty boring.

Competence + Less Loser Screentime = Snooze-a-rama

Richard and Stephanie are not too exciting to watch, though it is interesting at times because Richard tries all kinds of whack-a-doo techniques. He's the technogeek of chefs. Loser is so self-confident it's disgusting, and she STILL has to be a witch. Stephanie is second-guessing her dessert and Loser's all, "You always say that and then you win so don't hand me that. Get some self-confidence." Then she has to say something to the camera about how a chef should be self-confident, whatever, blah blah, YUK. Shouldn't they also be something OTHER than a bitchy black cloud hovering around the kitchen? With more than four dishes that they've cooked thousands of times to present to the judges in a cooking competition?

I was really going to call them all by their correct names, because the nicknames are admittedly kind of lame, but she just brings out the worst in me. I no likee her.

During the meal, they show various judges -- the usual suspects plus the three sous chefs mentioned above, plus a few other chef-world dignitaries such as chefs, a Zagat, and... that may be all. Anyway, they all comment on the dishes and it's making me nervous because a lot of the comments are positive for Lisa. (See, I'm making an effort!)

Richard gets thumbs up and down (bacon ice cream sounds gross even to me, a lover of bacon bacon BACON, but everyone on the show seemed to love it, so. Who knew? Well, all those chefs, obviously, but it's new to me.). Stephanie also gets some positives and negatives, and there are a few negatives for Lisa, but she's getting enough positives that I start to glisten a little. Just a little dew, not sweat. After all, I'm a lady doing lady things, going about my ladylike business. (Oy! That's Little Britain alright.)

Dinner's over, the contestants come in, the diners applaud, Padma thanks them for a wonderful dinner, then they go back to stewage. Then... judges' table!

The cameramen (-people) got to try out some fancy stuff in this episode; the producers must have realized that it was a snoozer, so they said Knock yourselves out, do whatever you can to jazz up this steaming plate of Valium with a Lunesta gastrique.

So they did. They had some stuttering shots that used fast motion when Richard was chopping, for instance, stuff like that. Then at judges' table, they showed the judges talking, then Padma's all, "Okay, let's bring them out." Cut to the contestants walking toward judges' table down this odd little alley/street/driveway, cut back to judges waiting, back to contestants walking. Are they any closer? It's hard to tell. Back to judges, just staring, waiting. Back to contestants. Closer? Yes! Okay, back to judges, looking all stern and serious. (You can't smile at someone while you judge them? Bless your little hearts, come on down South and we'll show you how!) Back to contesta- Whoa! Hello, chefs! Here you are! They were just yards down the alley, and suddenly there they are. It's like they walked in slow motion at first then sprinted at the end, only they aren't out of breath and sweaty. It's like... magic. So, funny editing. (I told you the show was boring.)

The judges go through each dish with the chefs, telling them good and bad, which the chefs all take pretty well, Lisa in her usual Tough Guy With No Chin stance. Tom surprises Stephanie, telling her that he couldn't figure out the purpose of the leeks on her quail dish, and, besides, they weren't cooked. Stephanie's mouth dropped open -- well, slightly, she's one of the most expressionless chefs I've seen on this show -- and she said, Not cooked? He said, No, they were crunchy. Apparently leeks are supposed to be soggy or something. Not being a cook, I wouldn't know. (Note to self: crunchy leeks = BAD)

The judges finish this Q&A (or Insult & Compliment or Mess With Chefs' Heads, whatever) and Padma asks if any of them have anything to say. They pause and it seems like they will all just stand or fall by their meals, when Stephanie says Dale told her on the last challenge not to second-guess herself and she did on the cake, and she's learned from it and she is top chef material (not exact words, I'm paraphrasing as best I can!). So LOS-- grr, Lisa says they kept telling her to express herself or something and so she did and she cooked herself (if only!) and that's her personality -- she's spicy! (really?) bold! (okay, yeah) sweet! (whah?) sour! (YES) -- and yada and she should be TC yada blah blah yuk. Richard says that he choked and he's done better and he, I don't know, could have done better, wishes he had, something like that, and the judges look faintly surprised but still mostly mask-like.

The contestants head back to stewage, where Lisa promptly starts saying she thinks Stephanie (I think she was talking to Stephanie) nailed dishes one and three but she (Lisa) got two and four, so *shrug* "I don't know." No, you don't, so please SHUT THE FUDGE UP.

The judges finally stop looking like frozen mannequins and discuss the contestants. It is unclear which one they've chosen. Well, of course, gotta keep the suspense going. Oh! In the meantime, Bravo has done a text poll on who should be Top Chef. The results: Stephanie 60%, Richard 36%, leaving Lisa 4%. No love for the Angry Chef. I'm surprised she got that much. It must have been friends or... No, wait. Hmm.

Anyway, the judges call the chefs back in and look all stern and Tom says something about how they all did a great job and the person they chose just had the best overall meal or something... oh hell, I can't remember what he said. Then he looks at Padma and she looks sad, as if it pains her to pass along the news that the next Top Chef is... Stephanie!

Not-Lisa relief courses through my benumbed veins! Though, really, if I hadn't been half asleep throughout the episode, I would have realized it wouldn't be Lisa. They showed too many positive comments for her, which usually means Not the Winner. They try so hard on reality competition shows to not telegraph the winner that they usually end up doing just that. It seemed like the judges really weren't too enthused with Richard's dishes this time, like they just weren't feeling Richard. The vibe was not going his way.

Because they wanted a woman to win? Maybe. I hate to think that may be at least partly why Stephanie won (though they are all, of course, toeing the party line that Of course that's not why she won!). The other guests did seem to really like her dishes as well, not just the judges, so I think she deserved it. So... sisterhood! Whoo!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Placeholder

I taped Top Chef last night and haven't had a chance to watch it, so I won't be posting on it yet. I was going to go ahead and watch it last night because Bunny went to sleep earlier than I expected, but then I was unaccountably sleepy so I just read my book instead. And maybe went to sleep kind of early. Maybe. And only kind of.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Other White Meat





Oh my hell. In last night's episode, part 1 of 2 of the finale, the contestants were in Puerto Rico. (Where I totally want to go now.)

In the quickfire challenge, they had to use plantains to impress Padma and the guest judge, Wilo Benet. (Apparently pronounced Willow, which made me miss Buffy all over again.) The contestants all start working and bring out their dishes to the judges. Antonia and Richard don't fare so well, Stephanie and Loser do well with Stephanie FTW. It seems to me that Loser practiced cooking Puerto Rican food during the break, and I have to say, if so, that was pretty smart. The others don't mention anything like that, though they could have, of course.
By the way, Loser now looks totally like a guy with her new butch haircut, but it is still a vast improvement over the greasy straggles hanging over the bandana we were treated to before. BUT she keeps wearing tank tops and shlumpy long shorts (board shorts? too-short capris? who knows?) and it is NOT the look for her. Maybe she's become a reality show contestant junkie and is angling for a spot on What Not to Wear. All I know for sure is that I now have to start calling her Lumpy.

The elimination challenge is to cook three dishes from an ENTIRE PIG for a party of VIPs. So they have to butcher poor Babe and create three dishes for the glitterati party; no pressure! But (of course) they'll have help! Out come Dale, Andrew, Spike, and Nikki. I have to wonder why the same losers keep showing up -- do they just use the most recently eliminated? Okay, I just checked and apparently that's it. So I suppose, in theory, that means they are getting the strongest chefs from that season as assistants. Unless by some fluke someone stays way past their due date (I'm looking at you, Spike).

Stephanie's advantage from her quickfire win is not only to choose her assistant, but to ASSIGN all the assistants to chefs. Lumpy is already bitching to the camera about how she doesn't get along with Dale, or Andrew, or... Really, does she get along with anyone? I bet she argues with herself. Stephanie says she doesn't want conflict in the kitchen, so she takes Douche (who I would have chosen just because I think he's the best chef in that bunch, but apparently she's also known him for ten years) and assigns Spite to Richard, Tiny Pasta Dancer to Antonia, and Crazy to Lumpy. Lumpy is -- drumroll, please! -- not happy.

The sous chefs run off to the market to get fresh stuff for the chefs, while the chefs start carving their individual Babes. (Note to self: NEVER be a chef.) I much prefer my meat to be completely unindentifiable as the animal it once was. So. Crazy can't speak Spanish so he's struggling at the market, but Spite apparently knows some, we only hear Douche say Gracias, and we don't hear TPD say anything at all in Spanish, but those three seem to do fine. Back in the kitchen, the chefs have been carving and separating and butchering, but mercifully they don't show too much of it. By "it" I mean gross parts of the poor pigs. The sous chefs come back and everyone moves along. Stephanie and Douche seem to really be grooving along, and I have high hopes because they are both talented. Everyone wraps up and crams their stuff into the inadequate refrigerator space and leave for the evening.

Cut to: Camera focus on rubbed pork belly, left out by DOUCHE.

They come in the next day and Stephanie discovers the Douche's bonehead mistake. She is completely calm and starts thinking about what else she can do. Douche apologizes and she says shortly, "That's okay." Wow. I was impressed. There is NO WAY I wouldn't have lost my temper. And can you imagine what paroxyms of rage Lumpy would have flown into? Actually, I kind of wish we'd seen that.

Cut to: Douche the Homeboy says to the camera that if this makes her lose, he would never forgive himself. Well, I think he really meant it, it looked like he was about to cry in one shot. In another, he had on douchey shades and was acting all Homeboy Down the Kitchen, Yo. STOP BEING SUCH A DAMN DOUCHE.

Back to the kitchen, where Stephanie and Douche have come up with something else. And this is where I think the truly talented chefs show their mettle -- being able to come up with something else quickly enough to fit it in when your original plans fall to pieces. And not something else like me throwing some rice-in-a-bag on to boil because the potatoes fell on the floor or something, but something else good enough to win a cooking competition. Somehow I think Lumpy would NOT have been able to do that. So I think they need to add a challenge like that toward the end of a season when they've already (presumably) weeded out the total washouts. Ahem, producers? Could you get on that, please?

Anyway, they all move on. Lumpy is being her usual sunny self, spreading doom and gloom wherever she goes. Everyone is so over her. Poor Crazy.

Cut to: PARTY! The chefs are at their stations, finishing dishes, making things, lalala. We see various comments by the judges and some of the people at the party, but of course they don't make it extremely clear what's coming.

Cut to: Judges' table. Padma goes and calls Richard and Stephanie. She's all solemn, as if we don't all know that means those two did the best. All season the first ones called have been the favorites. Maybe TC wants to shake it up a little next season, producers? (I'm going to have to start asking for a consultant's fee. No more free tips!)

The pattern remains unchanged and Richard and Stephanie are the favorites! And the winner is... Richard! And his prize is... a brand new car! Yes, a car. No, this is not the Price is Right. Richard was understandably taken aback. (It was a 2009 Toyota Corolla, so, nice, but still... weird, right? Next thing you know we'll have car commercials featuring chef montages à la American Idol.)

The winners now have to send the losers out. The judges go through why they are the losers -- at least two of Lumpy's dishes have problems, if not all three, and Antonia's peas were undercooked. Plus she put all three dishes on the same plate -- gasp! The judges were apparently stymied by this. "If they're on the same plate, I can't distinguish them. I can't taste the difference." What? Seriously, WHAT? Just putting them on the same plate somehow completely confounded your taste buds? If all three of her dishes tasted that similar to one another, don't you think, really, that you would have still realized it even if she had served each one on a separate plate? Really? It's like they all suddenly came down with Homer Simpson's brain: "Look, I don't like you and you don't like me, but let's do this thing. Other people had bits of stuff on different plates and she just handed us a single plate with a lot of stuff on it. Is it all the same, just more? Are these different items of... eating stuff? Is this, whatchamacallit... food? Am I eating?" D'oh, indeed.

So they hear the losers out, send them away, deliberate in a strangely retarded way (see plate discussion above), then call the losers back. Lumpy's double chin is in evidence as usual, along with her buttonhole mouth and narrowed eyes, but it's not as pronounced as usual. Either she's watched earlier footage or she's been reading blogs because it wasn't as bad as it used to be. Antonia just looks normal, a little apprehensive. The judges berate them again, then Padma pauses dramatically and says...


Antonia, please pack your knives and go.


ANTONIA!! Why does past performance not matter to these people?! Arrrrrgggghhhh!! I can't believe Lumpy is still there! Antonia thanks the judges and shakes all of their hands and Lumpy smirks at them and says, "You won't be sorry." Well, they'll be the only ones. The losers go back and Antonia tells the winners she is outie. They are understandably shocked. They hug her and she leaves.

The other three sit there for a moment, then Lumpy says, "I know you didn't want Antonia to go, but it would be nice for you to tell me congratulations." Oh, YES SHE DID. She is the most uncouth, clueless, ridiculous person I've seen on a reality show in a while. Mostly because the current ANTM cycle is over, but still.

Stephanie just looks at her then shakes her head a little and says, "Congratulations." Richard mumbles his congratulations, then cut to him saying to the camera, "You won the bronze medal. Congratulations." He's usually pretty milquetoast, so that was kind of harsh for him.

Feel better, Lumpy? There's nothing like grudging congratulations for warming the cockles of the ol' heart, is there? She then proceeds to say, "I know you liked Antonia, but it feels like you think the wrong one went home." Well, DUH. The WHOLE WORLD thinks the wrong one went home, dear Lump.

You know Stephanie and Richard are thinking "How did we end up slumming it with this angry weirdo?" but they don't show it. They must be itching to beat her. It makes the competition seem a little meaningless. You know, like if they let every child "win" a race, it means nothing to have come in first. It denigrates the whole competition by making it not a competition at all, so what's the point? I know they still win something here, but I think it must be less fun and pride-inducing to beat Lumpy than Antonia or Douche. I still can't believe that no matter what else, she is now THIRD PLACE for the competition. Antonia and Douche must be so pissed.

In my opinion, Top Chef ought to be ashamed. To let her get this far when there were other more talented chefs is just a joke. It makes the competition look lame. And it hadn't seemed lame to me before. It's a sad day when Top Chef disillusions you almost as much as ANTM makes you feel dirty and used.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Random Samples

Bunny is moving into 18-month clothes (What's that? Oh, he's not quite a year old, thank you for asking!) and it's making me sad. I used to have to fold his onesies in half down the middle because they were too small to fold like I do our shirts, which is to hold the shirt up facing me, fold the sleeves in behind the shirt, then fold the bottom up behind the top (I really hope that makes sense). But now, the 18-month clothes? I CAN FOLD THEM LIKE OURS. He's getting big! I mean, I'm happy he's growing and all that but... he's already not looking like so much of a baby anymore. *sigh*

Have I mentioned that he is cruising (walking while holding onto something) all over the place now? And tries to stand up when he's crawling? And he now has SIX teeth?! *SIGH*

Also, I was thinking about Top Chef; the fact that there are three women to one man heading into the finale indicates that they are finagling for a woman to win this season. Well, that's great, I would love a woman to win, but I don't want a woman to win just because they think it's time one did. She should win because she's the best chef, not because she has ovaries.

If they did this on purpose, and got rid of most of the men, especially Douchey Dale, to stack the odds in favor of women, that's just... gross. If they were deliberately looking for reasons to send men home, Richard must have survived either because they needed to keep one man on so the PC pabulum wouldn't be quite so obvious as it went down our virtual throats, or because they just couldn't scrounge up a reason to send him home, or both. Meaning they would have had to pull something out of their... hats to get rid of him and it would have been completely transparent. And we're talking Top Chef here, not ANTM. You know, subtle.

I've come to the sad acceptance of ANTM being completely rigged; if you were paying attention, it was pretty apparent even by the second cycle, but now... painfully obvious. I don't like that, but since I primarily watch it for the photography and it doesn't seem to matter, anyway -- it's not like the winners go on to become the next Cindy Crawford or Heidi Klum -- I've let it go. But if Top Chef is going to descend down the rocky and treacherous path to the Level Playing Field of Mediocrity, well, let's just say I'll pack MY knives and go.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Meat the Chefs

No? What's at Steak? Steak Your Claim? High Steaks? A Lot at Steak?






Anyway. Sorry this is a little delayed, but I had computer problems yesterday and then this stupid thing called work sort of interfered.

This week on Top Chef, the judges FINALLY cut the Sultan of Smarm, the King of Kiss-Ass, the Monarch of Mean-Spiritedness… yes, finally, SPIKE. It was about time he or Lisa went, and it was a close call between the two. I’m not okay with Loser Lisa staying, but I’m more than okay with Spike going.

I can’t believe Loser made it to the final four! It’s a travesty that Dale isn’t there; I wonder if Tom was mad when he heard what the stupid guest judges did last week. I still can’t believe Bourdain was so stupid.

Okay, I won’t go into that again.

This week, the cheftestants had to butcher and grill tomahawk chops for the Quickfire. I missed the beginning of the show, so I don’t know what exactly happened as they prepared for this challenge, but Antonia, Loser, and Spike did well, and Spike actually won. Gag. Anyway, the Elimination Challenge was for each chef to create an appetizer and entrée to be served at Rick Tramonto’s restaurant. (He was the guest judge this week.) They had to use ingredients found in his kitchen and they had, I believe, three hours to prepare their dishes and each had his or her own workstation to prepare their dishes.

Spike’s advantage for winning the Quickfire was to choose his proteins – in five minutes – for each dish (appetizer and entrée), and no one else could use what he chose. So he went into the cooler and poked around and decided to use the tomahawk chops for his entrée and scallops for his appetizer. The scallops were frozen and practically every other chef told the camera they were glad he had chosen them, because they wouldn’t have wanted them anyway. So as usual, bonehead Spike completely wasted his advantage.

The others chose their ingredients and everyone got started. They had to cook dishes for guests at the restaurant as well as judges Rick Tramonto, Padma, Gail, and Tom, and the VIP guests – the winners of the first three seasons of Top Chef: Harold Dieterle, Ilan Hall, and Hung Huynh. What they showed of those previous winners was actually pretty positive; they seemed to be judging dishes fairly and not trying to be overly critical.

What we saw of the comments of the judges as they ate was, as near as I can remember:

Antonia
Appetizer: Warm Mushroom and Artichoke Salad, Poached Egg, Bacon Vinaigrette

Egg poached perfectly, but salad limp (the word soggy may have actually been bandied about)

Entrée: Bone-In Ribeye, Roasted Fennel, & Cipollini Onions, Shallot & Potato Gratin

Very good, well-rounded entrée, perfect for a steakhouse

Loser
Appetizer: Grilled & Chilled Shrimp, Confit Lemon Zest Salad with Baby Tomatoes & Crustini

Shrimp shouldn’t have been chilled, but lemon was great

Entrée: NY Strip Steak, Spicy Apple Caramel Sauce, Peanut Butter Mashed Potatoes

Surprisingly, they liked the mashed potatoes, though it sounds gross (apparently there’s just a hint of peanut butter in them), but the steak was - you guessed it - under-seasoned

Richard
Appetizer: Hamanchi, Crispy Sweetbreads, Radish & Yuzu

Perfect, delicious; Rick Tramonto said he would put it on his menu in a heartbeat.

Entrée: Prime Beef Filet, Potato Puree, Turnips & Red Wine with Pickled Brussels Sprouts

Pretty good, I think; I can’t remember much about what they said here. I know that, at judges' table, Tom said the meat wasn't cooked consistently, but he didn't eat with the other judges in the restaurant, he acted as Expediter for the cheftestants instead.

Spike
Appetizer: Pan Seared Scallops on a Bed of Roasted Hearts of Palm & Oyster Mushrooms

Not good. Scallops not good, hearts of palm apparently didn’t seem fresh either.

Entrée: Tomahawk Chop, Sweet Potato Puree, Blanched Brussels Sprouts & Cipollini

I can’t remember what they said here except that it seemed like he had added honey to the sweet potato puree and it was way too sweet. Well, yeah, I guess if you add something sweet to sweet potatoes, it would be too sweet. Who would do that?? Oh, yeah, Spike.

Stephanie
Appetizer: Veal Sweetbreads with Sweet & Sour Sauce of Golden Raisins & Pine Nuts

Very good; the only negative comment was from one of the past winners of Top Chef (I think Harold, who is so awkward and prissy and kind of mean); he said he would have liked the pine nuts roasted, but otherwise it was great. Everyone agreed it was great.

Entrée: Beef Tenderloin with Salsify Puree, Wild Mushrooms & Apple Sauce

I can’t remember comments except they all liked it.

(I’m sorry, I know I should really tape the thing so I can review it before I write this, but who has the time?!)

Okay, on to judges’ table.

They called all of the chefs in, since they’re down to only five, and began their critique of each cheftestant's dishes. When they told Spike they didn’t like the scallops and he shouldn’t have used them – Tom was really blunt about it, said he shouldn’t have used frozen scallops, period – they said it’s part of the chef’s responsibility to make sure he doesn’t use inferior ingredients, and shouldn’t even accept delivery of something inferior, and Spike shot back, “Well, it was in your walk-in. If it was inferior it shouldn’t have been in your walk-in.” Rick Tramonto said, basically, “Fair enough. I’ll take that, but you have to take this: you shouldn’t have used them.” Spike finally had the sense to shut up. When they were asked to leave so the judges could discuss, Spike went to Rick Tramonto and shook his hand (he’s big on shaking hands, even when he shouldn’t*) and said it was an honor, blah blah, backside smoochy smooch. Ugh.

*When he was sorting his sad scallops, Tom walked up to do his usual pre-challenge chat/mind games and Spike reached out to shake his hand, glove and scallop juice and all, and then went RIGHT BACK to touching the scallops. Doesn't anyone on this show believe in hygiene??

In the storage/stewing room (stewage!), Spike said he had no idea where that comment to Rick Tramonto came from and he couldn’t believe he said it. Well, here's what I think, Spike: you're an asshat, that's where it came from. Either he just lost his temper and blurted it out, or he thought he was going to get cut anyway so he made a comment like that so he could blame his elimination on that rather than poor cooking choices (or just plain poor cooking). I’m not sure he’s clever enough or humble enough for the latter, though, so I’m guessing he just lost his temper. Wow, what a puzzle, what a complicated guy.

Meanwhile, the judges discussed the chefs and it was clear right away that Antonia, Richard, and Stephanie were safe. Finally, sense reigns! They zeroed in on Loser and Spike. And here is the first time that I’ve been disappointed in Padma: she said that Loser “has an amazing palate” but just didn’t move out of her comfort zone or something inane like that, and Tom disagreed. Thank you, Tom! What amazing palate? They’ve said time after time that her food is under-seasoned, and last week she couldn’t tell her dish was too smoky until Dale told her it was and she still couldn’t fix it! (Alas, poor Dale!) Anyway, Padma, what were you thinking? Did you have too much wine with dinner?

Moving on, they called the chefs back in and proceeded to tell Richard that his appetizer was their favorite appetizer and he was safe. Then they told Antonia that her entrée was their favorite entrée and she was safe. Then they told Stephanie that they liked her dishes and she was the WINNER! So those three were all relieved and excited and had to leave the room. (Ha ha – they were asked to by the judges.)

The judges then proceeded to tell Loser she had been on the chopping block FIVE times, and Spike he had been on it SEVEN times. This, of course, begs the question of WHY one of them will be in the final four? And was Dale on the chopping block before last week? If so, it was maybe once. And have either of these losers won an elimination challenge? Okay, yes, Loser has won one; Spike has won ZERO. Dale won TWO. And it’s interesting that their track records suddenly seem to matter, when the judges obviously didn’t care about that last week! Okay, okay, enough about Dale. I wasn’t a fan of his personality, by the way, just his talent. I hate unfairness so his untimely elimination really rankles.

They finally told Spike to pack his knives and go and he took it pretty well. I would have been equally happy with either of them leaving and was really wishing the judges would throw convention to the wind and say BOTH of you pack your knives and skeeeedaddle! Wishful thinking. Ole Moana Lisa is still with us.

Next week: FINALE! I’m assuming Loser will get cut pretty quickly, despite her new manly, yet much more attractive - and apparently washed, hairdo. If she doesn't, I’ll be irate about that for a while. (But at least I’ll have moved on from the Great Dale Debacle of 2008!) Between the other three, it’s anyone’s game. I thought Stephanie was really strong for a while, then Antonia was doing well and Stephanie faltered, and now Stephanie has stepped up, so who knows? I still think Richard should be in the top two (if they go down to two, which I think they do; my memory is almost nonexistent these days), but I would be happy with any one of those three winning.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scarlett Fever

You know how, usually, when an actor comes out with an album you think, "Vanity project!" with a sniff of disdain and a dismissive shrug? Well, now Scarlett Johansson has come out with an album.













Yeah. TOTAL vanity project.

If you don't believe me, check this out.




Wow.

I'm not sure if she can sing or not, I just know that she doesn't in this song. And what is the video about, exactly? How tiring and depressing it is to be a gorgeous millionaire movie star at the ripe old age of 23?

Let's see... people wanting to know you, wanting to be you, doing your makeup for you, catering to your every whim, even producing an album for you though you clearly can't sing... Rough. And getting engaged to a hunky celebrity who seems like he may actually also be a nice guy... Double whammy. I guess it's tough to be 23 and on top of the world.

She must be depressed because she knows it's all downhill from here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance















On Thursday, my nephew graduated from high school. Nothing makes you feel older than seeing kids you remember as teeny babies -- remember like it was yesterday, mind -- walking across a stage receiving a diploma. Two years ago it was his sister. Thanks, guys, for really bringing home the message, You're old!

Oh yeah... Congratulations!

(And isn't that a cool picture? He was pretty far away from us, on the football field, and he's looking straight at the camera.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top Whaaaah?





On last night's episode, the chefestants got woken up at 5:45 am by a surprise visit from Tom. Wow, what a fun way to wake up! Not only a strange man's voice saying, "Hey! Wake up!" but a strange man who gets to JUDGE you, gets to decide your FATE for you. Nice. (Not that Tom is a strange man, necessarily; you know what I mean.)

So they straggled down to the kitchen and Tom told them their quickfire challenge was to go to Lou Mitchell's, a very busy Chicago breakfast landmark, to work the short-order egg station. They each had to work it for a set time and the winner would be the person the owner of the restaurant would hire. It was over quickly, we didn't see much of each chef, but it was enough to make me NEVER want to be a short-order cook.

Though a tough decision between Dale and Antonia, Antonia prevailed. Go, Antonia! Whatever, I like her.

The chefs then went to meet Padma for a description of the elimination challenge. Restaurant wars! Antonia's prize for winning the quickfire was to choose her team. She chose her team members from the Wedding Wars challenge, Stephanie and Richard. Well, duh. The only other decent chef is Dale, and working with him seems to be like working with a hungover porcupine. Oh, hell, that's an insult to porcupines. Sorry, little guys.

The teams got busy planning their restaurant themes and menus and buying ingredients and decorations. Team Winner (I'm just assuming) went with Warehouse Kitchen, a gastro-pub theme, and Team Loser (even if they, by some miracle, won the challenge, still... losers) went with a – surprise! – Asian-themed restaurant, Mai Buddha. Tom was absent for this challenge, so he was replaced by da da dum... Anthony Bourdain. Who would totally freak me out. Tom doesn't pull punches, but Bourdain, I don't know, can really put people down. Way down. To China from North America down. Anyway.

Team Antonia (naming each team after its executive chef) moved along at a nice clip, calm, organized, pleasant, professional. Stephanie handled the front because she's opened her own restaurant before; she also created two dishes. I was a little unclear on how she managed this since she was out front, but I don't know how much she did before she had to go out there. Oh yeah, each team got to choose help from past contestants and TA chose Nikki to help them with the pasta.

Team Dale chose Jen to help them. (Poor Mark and Andrew didn't get chosen.) Spike handled the front for their team, presumably so he wouldn't be the one to go down in flames if they ended up losing. I'm so sick of wiliness – wow, that looks wrong but I checked and it's actually right – helping these people move along. It's supposed to be Top Chef, am I right? Not Top Manipulator?

Team Dale had problems from the start. Dale put a rotten avocado in his Halo Halo and had to try to fix it, so he was in a bad mood right away. Then Lisa couldn't get her laksa right, Dale kept telling her it was too smoky, Spike said it was sour (?), and she just couldn't seem to figure out how to correct it. Since she didn't seem able to tell anything was wrong with it until they told her, I don't know why they thought she would be able to fix it. That's it, I'm just calling her Loser from now on. Does she even have taste buds?

Loser was also in charge of a dessert – mango sticky rice – and she couldn't get the rice sticky! Now, I'm no chef but I know that one rice gets sticky while the other doesn't – I think short-grain gets sticky and long-grain doesn't, but don't quote me. I told you I don't cook. But even I at least know there's a difference. And she's supposed to be a CHEF! Ugh, she infuriates me!

Meanwhile, Spike took credit for braised short ribs but, as it turned out later, it was just his recipe and Dale actually cooked them. I think Dale should have gotten credit for them if they turned out well, but I'm not sure he did. Dale also created butterscotch miso scallops with spicy eggplant and pickled long beans for one of the main dishes.

Of course, Dale and Loser spent most of their time in the kitchen arguing and cursing and Spike either avoided them or egged them on, depending on his mood. It was about as pleasant as you would expect.

Finally, dinnertime was over and the judges – substitute head judge Anthony Bourdain, guest judge José Andrés, Ted Allen, and Padma – went back to the judges' table. The results...

Team Antonia won, naturally. Their dishes were well-received by the judges and the other diners. The judges particularly liked the fresh linguine and clams with sausage and horseradish creme fraiche, and the gorgonzola cheesecake with sweet potato puree and concord grape sauce. Both of those dishes were... Stephanie's! So she won the challenge.

I was a little surprised because, like I said, I don't see how she did those dishes if she was out front. Did she prepare them early? Did she just provide the recipes and the others did the actual work? I know Nikki helped with the pasta; did she get credit? Also, Nikki told them there was grit in the clams and Antonia tasted them and said there was, and Richard rinsed them again, so it seems like maybe he actually cooked the dish? I don't know, it wasn't clear to me. It doesn't seem like she should have won if she didn't actually cook them, but I like her okay, so it didn't really bother me.

On to Team Dale, the clear losers in so many ways. Spike again did his best to distance himself from the fray, saying the lack of teamwork was a problem between "those guys." The judges mentioned later that he was smart to do that; maybe, but smart in a sneaky, cunning way, not really intelligent and certainly not honorable or decent. They slammed Dale and Loser for the lack of teamwork, especially Dale as the executive chef, but didn't say anything negative about Spike's uninvolvement – BY DEFINITION a COMPLETE lack of teamwork. I'm so sick of him and his slick smarminess. I can't understand why it works for him.

Predictably, the judges hated the laksa because... all they could taste was smoke. Imagine that. Loser actually stepped up and took the blame for the laksa. Dale said, "I don't know laksa, I trusted these guys" and Spike said, "Well, it wasn't like any laksa I've done," both completely leaving Loser flapping in the breeze. Which was kind of yucky, but it since was her dish, and they tried to tell her how to correct it, it was understandable.

Then Spike wanted to take credit for the braised short ribs and Dale stepped in and said he cooked them, it was just Spike's recipe. I don't blame him, I'd want credit if I'd done the work. Especially with Spike trying to slide out of all responsibility and yet take credit if it looked like the judges were about to say something positive.

Dale took credit for the butterscotch disaster and I think was surprised that the judges hated it. HATED it. Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés absolutely excoriated it. They almost gagged. That's pretty bad, given that Anthony Bourdain will apparently eat just about anything, and like most of it. It was also very interesting because Dale had been doing so well before this serious misstep.

I can't remember what they said about his dessert, the Halo Halo. I know they said something at the dinner table about it being a good idea or interesting or something, but I don't remember if they liked it or just the idea of it.

They also didn't like the mango sticky rice and here Loser tried to shove responsibility off onto Dale by saying he told her what rice to use and it wasn't a rice she was familiar with. He said, "I did not tell you to grab that rice!" Loser looked at Spike to back her up and he just shrugged and said, "I don't know." Way to help the team, Spike ol' buddy ol' pal! Oh well, maybe he really didn't know. And I don't know who was right about the rice issue, but I have to ask WHY would Loser use a rice she wasn't familiar with? That makes her not only a loser but also a dumbass.

So the judges asked them to leave and take their squabbling with them (they didn't actually say that, but they were thinking it). They apparently only considered booting Spike off briefly, though, in my opinion, he deserved it for not taking enough actual CHEF responsibilities. He needs to get called on his chickensh*t scheming ways. Can you tell I'm sick of him? And his straggly almost-there facial shrubbery – no, not even shrubbery, just weedy growth. And his hats. And his icky voice and manner. And his teeth. Ugh. I need to go take a shower now.

There, that's better. Now the real debate – Dale or Loser? The judges were being hard on Dale because he was the executive chef but I think that's a completely specious argument. Here's why. I presume that in a real kitchen, the executive chef has some actual authority. Maybe not to fire employees (unless he also owns the restaurant) but at least to relegate one to chopping onions, if the EC decides the person has offended him. (For simplicity, I'm going with him since I'm mostly talking about Dale here.) Obviously I don't know much about how kitchens actually run (beyond what reading Kitchen Confidential taught me a few years ago), but I'm guessing something like this actually goes on.

Given that, how is the executive chef position in these challenges at all similar? They have no actual power over these people, and they all know it. The judges chastised Dale for not controlling his team and his kitchen, but I ask you, and would love to ask them, how much control can he actually have? He can't fire Loser, he can't even take over her dish, can he? I guess he could have taken it over and tried to fix it and then the judges would have been told that she couldn't even finish a dish and he had to try to salvage it. But then he would sink with her if it still wasn't any good. That's so not fair.

I understand that in a real kitchen, the restaurant is only as good as its weakest dish, so the executive chef has to be sure that everything going out to customers is as good as he thinks it should be, but in that case, he also has much more authority and control over the kitchen. Here the position is largely spurious and just means the chef has put himself on the chopping block. I think they should get some credit for stepping up and trying to take on the thankless extra responsibility, but they don't. They just get slammed for it. I really hate that about this show.

I also think they should take past performance into consideration. Who in real life would get fired for one mistake? I mean, unless you did something actually illegal or cost the company millions of dollars through sheer stupidity. Most of the time you get a little break, especially if you have a good track record.

Well, you can see where this diatribe is heading. They cut Dale. DALE! He was definitely a prickly pear and difficult to work with, but he also had talent. Despite his mistakes this time. So these judges, in all their infinite wisdom, kicked off the only talented chef that the losing team had on it. Way to go, judges! Right on!

It should definitely have been Loser. She should have been kicked off a looong time ago. If I have to hear her whining and complaining past the next episode (unless Spike is the one to go next time), I'm going to cut a ...something. Probably just my palms with my nails. But still. It will hurt and I don't like pain. So, judges, help a loyal viewer out?

I'm so aggravated by this episode. I wonder if the verdict would have been different had Tom been there instead of Bourdain?

Top four should have been Antonia, Dale, Richard, and Stephanie. Top three should now be Antonia, Richard, and Stephanie. Top two should be Antonia and Richard, with Richard FTW. Although it would be nice for a woman to win; Richard, despite his pink shoes, just doesn't qualify.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Oh, Come On

I missed the ANTM finale again last night, so I made Andrew check to see if they were going to air it again. He said he didn't see it if they were, but they are going to rerun the entire cycle soon. So he asked if I wanted to know who won and I said, I guess so. He said, Who do you think didn't win? I said, Whitney. He said, Yeah, she won.

This show is so totally rigged. They just want to seem PC, like they aren't causing anorexia and bulimia and drug abuse and God only knows what else, so they leaped on the first "plus-size" girl who was as close to being as thin as the others as possible without actually slipping out of the plus category.

Well, I'm not upset, I liked Whitney, though she was a little fake. She's pretty and I like that she is normal-sized, though I hate that means she's considered a plus-sized model. I don't mean normal, as in Americans have gotten so fat that now Whitney is considered normal. I mean, Whitney is normal, Americans are generally MUCH fatter than that, and the other girls are like sticks and probably don't eat. Of course, some girls are naturally that thin when they are that young. God knows I was. Well, I don't know; I don't think you could see my entire rib cage from the BACK. *shudder*

I can't recap, obs, since I didn't see it, but I hope to catch it when they rerun this cycle. I probably won't watch the episodes again because I really did find the show -- and Tyra, especially -- to be extra annoying this time around. But I would like to see the finale and how they justified choosing Whitney.

I just checked around and have seen some pictures of Whitney pre-show where she is really thin. There's a rumor going around that someone from the show approached her and told her she'd be on it if she gained 10-20 pounds. So she was a size 4 or 6 and went up to an... 8? Maybe a 10? It's hard to say, since the camera does add pounds. I wonder. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if it was true. Nothing seems honest on this show.

If they were going to go with a plus-sized model, they should have gone with Toccara who was beautiful (and presumably still is) and seemed like a lot of fun. She was really plus-sized; Whitney just seems slightly bigger than the rest.