Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Education: Please go see it

I just watched "An Education" and had to quickly sign in to encourage all of you to see it when and if you can. Obviously, in our little market here, it likely won't be in theaters unless it receives lots of attention at the Oscars. But A) it's worth the drive to the Twin Cities, and B) it most definitely will receive such attention at the Oscars, so maybe we'll get lucky in a couple of months.

Carey Mulligan delivers a breathtaking performance as a 16-year-old private school student, Jenny, in a small town in England in the 1960s. She is well on her way to Oxford if she can get her Latin skills up to par. Jenny is bright and witty, and she's mature beyond her years.

Jenny is picked up while waiting for a bus in the rain by Peter Sarsgaard (who I have adored for years), who plays David, a handsome and seemingly wealthy man in his late 20s or early 30s. We're never sure of David's interest in Jenny. She's young and inexperienced in all of the ways that David isn't. But as he seduces her and even her parents, we're taken along as well -- to jazz clubs, to Paris, on weekend trips to Oxford. We're hesitant to root for the relationship, because Jenny is so young and naive, but part of the brilliance of this film is that the audience is inevitably seduced by David also. We want her to indulge and forget herself. We want to believe that he is the man he seems to be and that she is ready, even at her young age, for all she is experiencing.

As Jenny becomes tangled up in David's life, skipping her final exams and believing that he is her most promising future, she demands to know from the headmistress at her school why she shouldn't make the decision to live her life to the fullest now. What is an education for, she asks. To work hard and to be bored the rest of her life? In the 1960s, a woman's choices for work were limited. She could work at a school or do civil service. The headmistress and her favorite teacher don't have answers, which only makes David seem more appealing.

So much is written between the lines: 1960s sexual politics, the parental roles in guiding a teenager's future, the ease of love to blind us to reality, the prison marriage could be to a woman 40 years ago. The true beauty of "An Education," however, is that nothing is black and white. No characters are bad guys or good guys. No choices made are right or wrong. The film shows us the gray areas of all of Jenny's decisions and also of our own.

"An Education" is one of the best coming of age movies I have ever seen. And if Carey Mulligan doesn't get an Oscar nomination, I'll be writing the Academy a firmly worded note.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oscar watch 2010

I feel, one of my better qualities, is my willingness to admit when I am wrong. And, as I've been watching some of the likely Oscar contendors, I've realized that stating there are practically no good movies coming out in the final quarter of 2009 was a bit hasty. I have seen several now that I have very much enjoyed.

Two that you all MUST SEE are Inglourious Basterds and Precious. Precious was incredibly hard to watch. Don't expect a Walt Disney ending, where Precious graduates high school, gets a job, meets a great man and they all live happily ever after. The greatness of this film lies in how brave it is in staying real. No punches are pulled. Finally, we're given a look at what a life of poverty and oppression in the black community is really like. This is the story of one abused, neglected teenager having children fathered by her own father. She can't read or write. She's dependent on a mother who beats and verbally abuses her and who wants her to go to the welfare office to start collecting government checks in lieu of going to school. Be prepared for the worst, and then don't be surprised when your expectations are blown away.

Inglourious Basterds is probably Quentin Tarantino's best work to date. Every time I watch one of his movies, I think, "This guy is nuts." And he is! He's just as nutty in this movie, and at every turn there's always something that makes me think, "Now, why would he do that?" Which is part of the fun. This story, like all of his, unfolds in chapters with various characters being introduced that all play an intricate part in the grand finale that is sure to amaze you. He's topped himself once again, and so far, this is my favorite movie of the year.

I have a ways to go. I've compiled a list of all the Golden Globe candidates, except for foreign films, which are harder to find before the show. I vow each year to see all the movies up for awards before the awards show so that I can make educated guesses on winners and also choose my favorites. Below is the list of what I've seen and what I haven't. Twenty-three days to go! I'd better get to work.

Seen so far
Brothers, The Hangover, Julie and Julia, The Proposal, Duplicity, Up, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, Everybody’s Fine, Precious, Inglourious Basterds, The Blind Side, (500) Days of Summer, Where the Wild Things Are

Movies I Need to See Before Oscars
The Hurt Locker
Up In The Air
It’s Complicated
The Young Victoria
The Last Station
An Education
Crazy Heart
A Single Man
The Informant!
Sherlock Holmes
A Serious Man
The Messenger
The Lovely Bones
Fantastic Mr. Fox

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The nominations are in and are thin on greatness

Golden Globe announcements today ...

I gotta tell you, not super excited. Every year, I wait for the Golden Globe nominations to tip me off about the movies that would never come to Mankato -- the Oscar-worthy films that only come out in the fourth quarter, the ones I've been waiting for all year. I then spend the next two months catching up on them all in anticipation of Hollywood's biggest night.

This year ... Well, I'm not going to run down every category, but just as an example of the tripe I'm seeing nominated in many categories, Sandra Bullock was nominated for best actress in a comedy or musical for "The Blind Side."
Picture this scene:
Friend of Sandra: "You're changing that boy's life."
Sandra: "I'm not changing him." She pauses, the music swells. "He's changing me."

So, yeah, as I stated: Not excited. I'm thinking this will be a musical year. "Nine" will likely be the big one. Which is fine. This is a recession year, and it seems fitting a musical -- something light and fun -- would win. And perhaps that's the explanation for all of this. Maybe the film industry decided to play it safe in this recession year, making movies that are sure to sell tickets ("Avatar," anyone? Not me!) rather than award winners that barely anyone will see.

Regardless, click here for the full list of nominees.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dexter Season Finale: HOLY $%&@!!!

Expletive! Expletive! Expletive! Expletive!

My stomach is in knots. All you Dextees out there, can you believe the twist ending to the "Dexter" Season 4 finale???




Rita. What in the world? Did anyone see that coming? I'm absolutely flabbergasted. I couldn't have been more thrown than if, say, Debra came forward as a vigilante killer herself. ...OK, well, maybe then.

Incredible. Immediately, I wanted to go back to the scene where Dexter kills Trinity. So much more was going on in that conversation than we ever could have imagined. A dark manipulation, so much gone unsaid. Even in death, Trinity has the final say.

So very many questions now ...

What will this do to Dexter? I'm sensing a major meltdown. Rita was so much of what kept him stable and grounded. She and Deb were the constant sources of support and also the people he needed to stay sane for. When half of that goes away, what will that do to him?

What will happen to the code? When a serial killer goes through something like this, and no longer has the source of his pain to take it out on (Trinity), will he no longer care about playing nice?

What will happen to the kids? How will Dexter care for them himself? And also, what will this do to Harrison's psyche? Will it do to him what it did to Dexter? Will Dexter have to prepare to groom a serial killer the way Harry did?

Will Dexter be suspected to have been involved with Trinity? Inevitably, the department will question why Trinity chose Rita. I'm wondering if it's possible that someone will remember Trinity's visit to Homicide that day and the person he spoke to: Dexter. Also, Deb was already suspicious when Dexter shows up out of nowhere in Trinity's garage before anyone else. And then, there's always Trinity's family who know Dexter as Kyle Butler and will see him in Homicide, or will see him in the paper, perhaps, after Rita's death.

This one's a longshot ... Will Dexter dispose of Rita the same way he disposes of the rest of his victims to avoid all of the above questions? Would he be able to do that?

Many, many questions, and unfortunately, we have nine months to wait for the answers. Hopefully, we'll all find shows to distract us in the interim. As for now, this is my absolute favorite show. This season was so great and totally pushed the show into the "amazing" category. "True Blood," I'm sorry, but you have some work to do to catch up at this point.

Here's the discussion between Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow at the end of the show. They make some good points and raise some good questions about next season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Most fascinating people? Really?

I wonder if Barbara Walters has complete control over choosing her 10 most interesting people of the year, an annual special that aired 9 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) on ABC. If so, maybe ol' Babs is becoming a little out of touch.

Barbara's List: Tyler Perry, Kate Gosselin, Lady Gaga, Michelle Obama (she was the secret No. 1), Michael Jackson's kids, Wife of Mark Sanford Jenny Sandford, Adam Lambert, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and Brett Favre.

Dumb ones: Wife of Mark Sanford, Michael Jackson's kids, Tyler Perry

Glaring omissions: Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Susan Boyle

First of all, let me just say I'm not a fan of Taylor Swift. However, given the incredible year she's had, sweeping every awards show, hosting SNL and writing her own monologue which hilariously poked fun at this crazy year of success, she should have been damn close to the top of this list.

Did I miss something where Susan Boyle would be overlooked? Is Barbara unaware of YouTube? Does she not watch her own network? Is she unaware that Boyle's album sold a bajillion copies and it was just released? A small-town spinster from England proved to the world she had incredible talent. I was thinking Boyle or Swift would be No. 1. Michelle Obama deserved to be on the list, but certainly the election year would have been more appropriate for her to be in the No. 1 slot.

Lastly, the Rihanna story was huge. When a pop star is beaten, with photos leaked to the press, and she takes her attacker back before realizing she is worth so much more than the way he is treating her -- that's a very public and fascinating story, especially when said attacker is also a very famous musician.

As for the people on the list who shouldn't have been there: Michael Jackson's kids was a cheap way to get around the rule of only putting living people on the list. Nobody knows anything about those kids. They are not fascinating. This was about their dad.

Perhaps Babs doesn't realize that the Madea movies have been coming out for years and that Perry signed on to "Precious" after it was already made. Oh, and also that he sucks.

And I honestly don't know what to say about Jenny Sandford. I didn't even remember what her first name was. If you were going to choose anyone in that situation, why wouldn't it be the person who made the news: Her husband, the strange senator who chose to go completely overboard and declare to the press he was cheating on his wife with his "soulmate."

Anyway, a few odd choices there, Barbara. But I'll be watching next year.

I LOVE awards season

Ricky Gervais plans to get 'drunker and drunker' as Golden Globes host

By Andrew Winning, Reuters

If the Jan. 17 Golden Globes show is anything like the press call we just had with host Ricky Gervais, it should be a blast.

The funny actor and comedian - who will be the first emcee for the show since 1995 - said he will completely write his material himself - "my own stuff," he says.

"I'm not going to do any sort of shtick," said Gervais, 48. "I'm not going to do pre-records or a dance number or rehearse with anyone. I'm going to plan what I'm going to say. But I'm going to be more relaxed. I want to host it a little bit more like someone from the Rat Pack would host it - playing the room, a little bit more off the cuff, roasting a few of the A-listers ..."

He will "work on a few themes," but adds, "I'm going keep it short and sharp. I think I'm best in small doses. I don't want to outstay my welcome. I don't want to overwhelm the show. It's everyone else's show."

He says he wants to be "reactive. I don't want to just go read an auto cue and do a very staid joke and have that polite titter. It's a party! ... I'm certainly going to have targets as it were - not in abad way."

Later in the call he said the word target sounded "scary," and he didn't want to worry anyone. "I'm going to ceratinly not do anything cruel or distateful, but I think gentle ribbing. Anyone who's younger and thinner and richer and more attractive than me. ... Rainn's Wilson's safe again. Steve Carell's on the cusp," he cackled. Of course he can pick on them because he co-created the British version of The Office and gets royalty checks from the American show.

During the call, Gervais said more than once that he plans to have a cocktail or two while on the job. "Over the three hours, I imagine my tie's going to come off and I'll get drunker and drunker. I don't know what the last hour's going to be like, but the first hour will be watchable."

Will there be political jokes? And what about the Oscars?

"Politics? Um, the quick answer's no cuz I haven't planned it yet. I probably don't do well with current affairs and I don't' really watch the news. It's too depressing," he said, then added that it depends on what happens between now and the Globes. "Who knows? I might have liposcution that goes terribly wrong between now and then and have something to talk about. Ha!"

Gervais says "this is the only" award show he can see doing. "In all honesty. No one wants to see me mucking around at the Oscars. They're there to see if they've won the most important award of their life. "

And the Emmys? "I couldn't do the rehearsals. This is perfect. They said I could turn up and say what I wanted and get drunk. What's also nice is I 've only been in this business about 10 years - because I'm a very lazy person - and I've achieved enough. I only do things that could possibly end my career. Cheers!"

Friday, December 4, 2009

The return of Sarah

Years ago, myself and other Free Press staff would gather at The Fillin' Station Coffeehouse in its old location, about 10 feet to the left of its current location. Every Wednesday morning, we would talk about writing and how we can get better and all that stuff. And every morning, we could count on the lovely Sarah Turbes to be the one to pour our coffee, whip up our lattes and warm up our scones. She was funny, she was sweet, and she made the best damned mochas in town when the mood struck.

No, Sarah didn't die. I realize I've been talking about her in the past tense. Thanks to Facebook, I've been able to keep up with her goings-ons. But a while back, she left the Fillin' and we've barely seen her since. Not that the other Fillin' kids didn't make great coffee, too, but Sarah's always seemed to have a little something extra special.

Well, I have some news, people. I walked into the Fillin' Thursday to order a Lincoln Park for lunch, and there she was! And there she will be Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays until about 11:30 a.m. She's back! So for all of you who have never had a Sarah-made mocha, RUN (don't walk) to the Fillin' and have her whip one up. AmAAAAzing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas shows not to be missed

Did you see it? I was kind of nerdily excited all day about the Rockefeller Center tree lighting special on NBC Wednesday night. This is, until I saw that "Rudolph" was on CBS at the same time. Under what circumstances would "Rudolph" not win that fight? Maybe if I'd seen it three times already this season. But this was the inaugural viewing of 2009, and it was delightful.

Incidentally, I had a discussion with a friend this morning about the Land of Misfit Toys. All of them have obvious flaws: A Charlie in the box, a toy plane that doesn't fly, a bird that swims, a spotted elephant and a toy train with square wheels on its caboose. However, the red-headed dolly seems to have no flaw at all. We Googled this immediately, and you'll be appalled at what we learned:
"A Dolly for Sue (as she calls herself)" is a seemingly normal girl rag doll with red hair and a red gingham (checkered) dress. Her misfit problem is never explained on the special, but was revealed on NPR's Wait Wait… Don't Tell Me! news quiz show (broadcast December 8, 2007). The show revealed that Rudolph's producer, Arthur Rankin Jr., says Dolly's problem was psychological, caused from being abandoned by her mistress and suffering depression from feeling unloved. -- Wikipedia

Ummm ... psychological? We go from a toy train with square wheels to a doll with deep emotional problems? How strange, indeed.

Anyhow, I thought I would rundown the not-be-missed Christmas programs this year. Here are the times, dates and channels, for your convenience.

The Polar Express, ABCFAM, Dec. 3, 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Frosty's Winter Wonderland, ABCFAM, Dec. 4, 6 p.m.
Twas The Night Before Christmas, ABCFAM, Dec. 7, 6 p.m.
Carrie Underwood: An All-Star Holiday Special, FOX, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, ABC, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.
Mickey's Christmas Carol, ABCFAM, Dec. 8, 6 p.m.
Winnie The Pooh And Christmas Too, ABCFAM, Dec. 8, 6:30 p.m.
A Muppets Christmas: Letters To Santa, NBC, Dec. 11, 7 p.m.
It's a Wonderful Life, NBC, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.
Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, CBS, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.
Jennifer Hudson: I’ll Be Home For Christmas, ABC, Dec. 14, 7 p.m.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer And The Island Of Misfit Toys, ABCFAM, Dec. 15, 6 p.m.
Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, ABCFAM, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Mickey's Christmas Carol, ABCFAM, Dec. 16, 6 p.m.
Winnie The Pooh & Christmas Too, ABCFAM, Dec. 16, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday Night Live Christmas 2009, NBC, Dec. 17, 7 p.m.
Christmas in Connecticut, TCM, Dec. 17, 7 p.m.
Jingle All The Way, ABCFAM, Dec. 17, 9 p.m.
Frosty The Snowman, CBS, Dec. 18, 7 p.m.
Frosty Returns, CBS, Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m.
A Very Brady Christmas, ABCFAM, Dec. 22, noon
Miracle On 34th Street, ABCFAM, Dec. 23, 6:30 p.m.
The Polar Express, ABCFAM, Dec. 23, 9 p.m.
The 11th Annual A Home For The Holidays, CBS Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m.
It's a Wonderful Life, NBC, Dec. 24, 7 p.m.
A Christmas Story Marathon, TBS, Dec. 24, 7 p.m.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, ABCFAM, Dec. 25, noon
Miracle on 34th Street, ABCFAM, Dec. 25, 2:30 p.m.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The battle of the serial killers

Does anyone else out there watch "Dexter"? I'm always surprised when I ask that question and get a blank stare. I do know a couple of people, I guess. But what a great show. You all should be tuning in.

Tonight, as some of you may know, should be a pretty darn good one. Dexter has revealed his murderous nature to his muse this year, a serial killer he calls Trinity. (You see, the guy kills three people in succession using the same pattern: Cuts a girl in a tub, makes a woman jump to her death off a high structure, and then bludgeons a man.) There were witnesses, however, when the real Dexter came out. Trinity's family saw Dexter strangle him with a belt and hold a huge knife over him on the floor. What will he do about the witnesses!? (Dexter's a serial killer, too, but he only kills bad guys. His biggest challenge is making sure no one knows about his little extra-curricular activities.) See, now doesn't this sound like a great show?

If you get Showtime, then be sure and catch up On Demand. This season is all on there. And this is one of those shows you can just start watching whatever season and then go back to the first three when you get around to it. I did the same with "Mad Men." This isn't like "Lost," where you need a three-hour tutorial if you've missed even one episode to catch up. I really hate "Lost," by the way, but that's a whole other matter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The stupid Jacksons

Anyone else not care at all about a Janet performance at the American Music Awards, let alone one that lasted 8 minutes? I hear her brothers are also piggybacking on the death of their brother: A reality TV show about the Jackson 5 touring again. Who in the HELL would go to a show on that tour without Michael? Oh, I'm sorry Tito, did I miss the stampede of middle-aged women knocking down your door? ...No, I didn't.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"New Moon" turned me into a teenage boy

I went to "New Moon" today. I read the books and got hooked, despite putting them down every few seconds to feel really embarassed about how much cheese I was allowing myself to ingest ... and happily so. So I figured I should see this thing through all the way and see the movies.

"New Moon" was definitely a couple of notches better than the first film. Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner are so good at pulling off the schmaltz and making it palatable that I was actually entertained most of the way through. I'm worried, though, about the next movie when Edward becomes a key player again. As Twihards know, Edward isn't a big part of "New Moon" in terms of actually appearing in a lot of the movie. And I'm beginning to wonder if that's why I liked this one more. Robert Pattinson's acting chops are in question here. He's supposed to be brooding and deep but he's coming off as one note and two-dimensional.

As I was watching I was reminded of a review I saw on "At the Movies" on CBS. The two men who actually recommending the film commented that "New Moon" isn't just for teenage girls; it actually turns everyone else INTO a teenage girl while watching. During those particularly grueling scenes -- the ones where Edward is two inches from Bella's face saying things like, "You give me everything I need in this world just by breathing" -- I decided it had an opposite effect on me. I felt more like a teenage boy. Like the one in the lobby afterward shouting, "I just had to sit through two hours of a bunch of dudes with their shirts off. Yuck." Like the books, though, I put my head down and wrinkled my nose in disgust at all the cheese, and I kept going back for more.

P.S. Dakota Fanning was pretty awesome. Scary chick.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And the PR winner is ...

IRINA! I'm sure, I need not remind you that I totally called this. I had a story in last Thursday's paper (not yesterday, but the week before) that said Irina would win, even though we all hate her, and Althea would come in second, and Carol Hannah would be the dark horse who would come in third, barring any sort of miracle.

That's precisely what went down last night. Irina's collection had vision, continuity and an edge. She had an idea that connected the pieces and she carried it out. That's really what the winner has always had: 13 pieces that tell a story that no regular person could ever wear. That's why Uli a couple of seasons ago didn't win: Too simple, and women could actually wear her clothes. That's why Leanne won last season, because her outfits were more like pieces of art than wearable clothing. Little Carol Hannah, who fought the flu to finish her collection, was by far the best designer with color and construction, but she didn't have the "clothes as art" idea down. I'm glad. Something tells me she's going to be a lot more commercially successful doing it her way than Irina's.

So there you have it! I was ecstatic to hear that another season starts up in mid-January already. So as this Project Runway blog comes to a close, a new season is just around the corner.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Are you a wine-y?

If you're a wine-y -- which, obviously, from my usage of that
word, I am not -- then you know the third Thursday of November is upon us.

It's that very special day every year when the new Beaujolais Nouveau wine
is released for sale. And if you're like me -- and responded to that news
with, What in the ... ? -- then I shall share my research with you.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine made from Gamay grapes from the Beaujolais
region of France. Called the most popular vin de primeur, the wine is
fermented for a few weeks annually and released the third Thursday in
November, which has come to be known globally as Beaujolais Day or
Beaujolais Nouveau Day. (Nouveau means new, by the way.)

Vin de primeur refers to the wine being permitted to be sold in the same
year that the grapes are harvested, says local wine representative Joe
Strong of Bellboy Wines. Few producers in France are permitted to make
nouveau wine, according to Strong, or include the word nouveau on their

One minute past midnight today, celebrations around the world exploded into
action, as the bottles were uncorked and enjoyed by many from the small
village of Romaneche-Thorins to the metropolis of Tokyo. Well, it won¹t be
one minute after midnight, but Patrick's on Third in St. Peter will be
taking part in the action once again. The party starts 8 p.m. tonight.
Twenty bucks will get you samples of the two Beaujolais nouveau wines, a
hand-painted souvenir wine glass and appetizers. Bottles of the wine will
also be available for purchase.

Beaujolais nouveau is a purple-pink wine and described as lightweight with
little tannin. The wine can be dominated by flavors of banana and pear. An
added interesting tidbit: All the grapes in the Beaujolais region are picked
by hand.
I'm no wine-y, but I¹m intrigued. Sounds like fun to me!

If you go
Beaujolais Nouveau Wine Release Party
8 p.m. to 10 p.m. today (11/19) at Patrick's on Third in St. Peter
$20 per person
For more information, please call Joe Strong at 351-0575 or Patrick's at

Friday, November 13, 2009

Runway: The finals

Winner: Yet to be determined
Auf'd: See above
Challenge: Create a collection for Bryant Park!

The finale is upon us! How very exciting. All three girls seemed to be doing a great job in part one of the two-part finale last night. Let's discuss ...

Carol Hannah. She's who I'm secretly rooting for. I know she has been outshined for the entire season by Irina. But her collection last night -- what was done of it -- looked pretty darn good. One piece really caught my eye. It was a silky purple tank with long braids hanging around the neckline that hung down to the chest and waist area. So pretty. She's also doing separates and even pants! Shocking. I can't remember if it was Althea or Irina who remarked that Carol's pieces were all nice, but nothing so cutting edge that they felt intimidated. That's actually a good way to put it. Still, even in the finals, Carol Hannah is a bit safe. Although there is one tutu-looking dress that could really go either way.

Althea's collection was really hard to guage last night. Honestly, I just couldn't tell. I often find with her clothes, you don't really know what they're going to look like or turn into until the models put them on and walk. The movement sort of breathes the life into them. She definitely had some leather pieces I'll be interested to see. Slutty/1980s or chic/modern? Only the runway will tell.

Irina is the favorite. Certainly not for her personality, but for her obvious talent. She has a basketweave technique that seems to be coming up a lot in her pieces. I'm definitely liking it, and I think when she finally finishes, that detailing is going to give the wow effect to push her beyond the other two. Also, that bit of detail will add continuity to her collection, and the judges seem to like that. Tim said a lot last night, "Make sure each piece would be worn by the same customer."

One week left! Can't wait to see who pulls it out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Runway: Fat's cut, so it's on

Won: Irina, Carol Hannah and Althea, as they are going to fashion week!

Auf'd: Minnesota Chris and Gordana

Challenge: To design a garment based on inspiration from the art and architecture of L.A.'s Getty Center

It all happened so fast! It seems like just yesterday we were sizing up the 16 designers of the new season of "Project Runway," trying to determine who the obvious throw-aways were, as well as the clear front-runners.

Last night, as three designers were chosen to proceed to Fashion Week, my top pick was auf'd: Minnesota Chris. He won the first challenge and did pretty dern good for a few weeks after that. But for the past five challenges in a row, he floundered. He knew it, too. Unless he pulled out a true miracle during last night's challenge, we all knew there was no way he would go forward. A stiff-skirted floor-length dress was not the miracle the judges were looking for. So today, I bid Minnesota Chris adieu. Your crying was a big turn-off, but overall, it was fun. Good luck in your career, Minnesota Chris.

Now done to bidness. ...Oh yeah, I forgot, Gordana got kicked off, too. But that was a no-brainer, so we won't dwell on that ... Anyway! So Carol Hannah, Irina and Althea were chosen to go on to Fashion Week. The final three have been determined! So exciting. Althea got LUCKY. Had she not been consistently in the top the entire season, there's no way she would have made it through based on the gold, puckered skirt and top she made last night. Inspired by the various intersecting lines and waves of the architecture of the Getty, she pieced together pieces of fabric that intersected in interesting ways, but the fabric was so poor that the whole thing looked a mess. She also didn't spend much time on the top. But she did what the judges appreciate most: She took a risk, and so she was in.

Carol Hannah did what she always does best: constructed a beautiful, well-made dress. She didn't do a pair of pants the entire season, which I was sure she would get trashed for. But no one has said anything as of yet. I think the judges were bored, but they were impressed with her construction and silhouette. She's in! But I'm calling her the dark horse in the finals. Not enough vision.

Irina, of course, was first to be sent through. She's a bi**h, yes, but she's also a great designer. I think last night was the first night she got a bit of negative feedback, with the judges saying her skirt looked dowdy. But the top was gorgeous, and her overall performance was plenty to send her forward. To me, she's the clear winner at Bryant Park.

So here's what I think will go down:
Winner: Irina
Althea: Second
Carol Hannah: Third

Tune in next week to find out!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!!!

I always forget about one of the best bonuses of Halloween until it's upon me: The annual screening of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." One of the true television classics, the "Great Pumpkin" has been airing annually since Oct. 27, 1966. Forty-three years later, it still feels current. A great holiday show for all ages! Watch it Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. on ABC.

Here are a couple of my favorite clips.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Project Runway: Chris' nine lives

Winner: Irina ...again

Auf'd: Nicolas ...yeah!

Challenge: To design a garment based on a geographical region.

Minnesota Chris has taken the cliche "by the skin of his teeth" to a whole new level. Four weeks in a row in the bottom. Meanwhile, Nicolas has actually won a challenge (somehow) and still managed to be the one to get kicked off last night. I think the judges saw something special in Chris those first few weeks, and they refuse to believe the work the past few challenges is representative of him. At least, that's what I hope. Still, one more bad week, and it has to be over for him. There's no more sucky designers left to take the fall.

That being said, his dress last night was darling, and I have no idea why the judges didn't love it. No, Chris did not go and find ugly shiny tourquoise fabric and try and shove Santa Fe down their throats (Santa Fe was the region he was assigned to design a garment to represent). He did it in a more subtle, classy way. I saw mountains and cacti in his colors. And the belt certainly was Southwest-ish. I thought it was lovely.

Actually, none of the designers did a bad job last night. I even liked Nicolas' white twisty shirt thing, even though nothing about the outfit said "Greece."

Irina won yet again with her brown slacks, sweater and faux fur coat combination. Certainly it said Aspen, but circa 1985. I was surprised she didn't get nailed for that. To me, the real winner of the night was Carol Hannah with a beautiful, flowy, floor-length printed dress, with braided detailing around the bust. Gorgeous. It reminded of Uli from ...last season was it? The season before?

Anyhow, I'll be interested to see who goes next. Certainly, Gordana and the sexy blond guy who's name always escapes me are weaker than anyone else. But I must admit, despite being Minnesota Chris' biggest supporter, one more bad garment and I won't protest him leaving.

Until next week!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Project Runway: Sequins Suck

Winner: Carol Hannah
Auf'd: Shirin
Challenge: Design a stage outfit for Christina Aguilera

A few things that need to be said first ...

1. Did anyone care AT ALL that Christina Aguilera was the guest judge? Besides Nicolas, that is. I believe he said something like, "This is the best 'Runway' moment ever." Maybe if you're a drag queen, but for the rest of us, Aguilera excites us about as much as Bob Mackie. Greeeaaaat.

2. If Nicolas doesn't get kicked off soon, I'm going to write a strongly worded note to Nina, Heidi and Michael. I've seen white feathers about as much as I ever cared to this season and they keep kissing his ass for it. (I've also seen his pasty white pumpkin face quite enough as well.)

3. Minnesota Chris, listen up. Get your crap together. This is the third week you've been in the bottom 3. For a stylish gay man, a challenge involving sequins should be no sweat. I'm disappointed yet again, especially with your sad little boy panties. You call that a reveal? I call it what Nina called it: Taste-less.

OK, now onto Shirin. Noooooooooooooooo!!! She was my little muse. So cute and giggly, and now she's gone. My jaw actually dropped when Heidi said her name. Shirin almost won last week with her wedding dress that she transformed into a cute little wearable cocktail garment. She's won a challenge, and I don't remember her ever being in the bottom before now. Chris, on the other hand -- as much as I want him to stay -- has been in the bottom three weeks in a row. I'm definitely feeling like last night the decision was made for shock value.

However, I can't say her dress wasn't awful. It really was. But so was everyone else's. I'd say Althea's silvery number was the least disappointing. Except for that black feathery jacket. That was crazy. Carol Hannah's black, floor-length dress was the winner. ... I don't know. Feathers? Pasted on satin? Not really my cuppa. But neither are sequins and sparkles.

But, we must look forward. Now we're down to seven designers, and here's how I would love it to go down: Chris gets his act together and earns his way into the final four. Joining him would be Irina (even though she's horribly mean), Althea and Carol Hannah. One of them would be eliminated right before Fashion Week by having the weakest collection, and I would want that to be Carol Hannah. She deserves a shot at it, but I just don't think she'd quite measure up to the clear vision each of the other three have. Obviously, that means the annoying Nicolas, the extremely lackluster Logan and the vision-less Gordana would be auf'd during the next three challenges. I'm definitely keeping my fingers crossed.

Until next week ... auf wiedersehen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Runway: Divorced divas

Winner: Gordana
Auf'd: Epperson

We're back, everyone! After a two-week vacation, the "Project Runway" blog is back online, and just in time for a pretty cool challenge last night.

First, I must say, I've never been a fan of Epperson. And perhaps I had a momentary lapse in good taste, but I could not believe he got kicked off for that dress last night. The challenge was to take divorcees' old wedding dresses and turn them into something wearable, like a shedding of the skin and a reemerging or some lofty bull like that. Really, they walked out with the same problems, but some of them had something new to wear. But, anyway, Epperson made this cool dress with an elongated cinched waste with black geometric lines running virtically along the mid-section. I thought it was beautiful, and I actually didn't get the "Oktoberfest" connection until Heidi said it. Then, I sort of saw it a little bit. But certainly Logan's wool trousers that would make Heidi, herself, look fat were much worse.

Irina almost won her third challenge last night for what I consdered to be a shiny brown mess. It was lacy and old-fashioned and aged the already aging divorcee horribly. The judges loved it. Loved it! I don't get it.

The winner last night was Gordana. She was long overdue for a win. Her work is flawless, extremely well sewn and taylored. She's caught some grief for her lack of personality, but certainly last night she pushed the envelope. She dyed her fabric blue and made a cocktail dress with stripes of ruching all the way up the length of it.

As always, I must mention Minnesota Chris. For the past two weeks, he's really disappointed the judges and myself. Two weeks ago he couldn't even comment when the judges dumped on his outfits he co-created with Epperson. Why, you ask? Because he was sobbing. Dear lord. At least he kept it together last night when they were telling him he made a shiny garbage bag with a belt. It really was. I'm scared for him. He showed so much potential, and now he's gone downhill. Come back, Minnesota Chris!!!

Until next time, auf Wiedersehen.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Runway: Black and white and read all over

Winner: Irina
Auf'd: Johnny

Ahhh, a challenge that went straight for my heart. The newspaper challenge! A visit to the L.A. Times resulted in the designers leaving with arm fulls of newspapers and the challenge of making clothes out of the paper. 

Irina was the big winner with her trench coat with fur-like cuffs and collar. It was pretty good the way she worked the paper to soften like fur. But the rest of the coat was flat, plain paper. I
 thought that part looked quite cheap. Plus, Scotch tape was visible on the back side. So, I was surprised of how much t
hey forgave.

Speaking of forgiving, what in the world were they picking on Gordana for? Heidi said she was bored with her little orangey dress because she thought it looked too much like an actu
al dress and you couldn't tell it was paper. I shared
 Gordana's response when she said she thought that WAS the challenge: to design and construct a garment that looked wearable using paper. 

The dress I thought should have won was Carol Hannah's gorgeous read gown. How in the world ... ? It looked absolutely stunning. Paper or not, I'd wear that on a red carpet.  

The big loser of the night was Johnny, who got called out throughout the whole show for a lie. He had designed a dress that looked like someone was bleeding all over it with these birds on the shoulder. Tim came to the work room and told Johnny it looked like the birds had attacked the dress.  Immediately, he crumpled the dress and started over.  He later told designers who were witnesses to the crumpling, as well as the judges, that a steam iron had spitted water all over the dress and ruined it. Why he felt that story was necessary, I don't know.  But I was surprised by the way Tim called him out behind his back after the runway show. Nicolas did, too, on the runway. Anyway, the dress he threw together wasn't great.  Very boxy. Very boring.  Weird edges.  So he got booted. That's fine. He wouldn't have gone much further, anyway.

As always, I have to mention Minnesota Chris.  Incredible! He did a floor-length gown that appeared to be feathered.  He cut up newspaper and applied it to a full-length paper skirt.  He also constructed a hard bodice.  Very ethereal.  The judges loved it.  I think he's going a
ll the way!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Runway: Correction? I don't know

Since I started blogging about 'Runway' again, several people have come forward to tell me I am incorrect in stating there is one designer from Minnesota. They say there are two. I chose Shakopee's Christopher Straub as one of my picks simply because he won the first challenge and also because he's Minnesota grown.

After people started coming forward about Ra'mon being from Minnesota also, I wondered how I could have missed it. So I checked the designers' bios again. No mention of Ra'mon being from Minnesota.

So, I looked up this article and learned the following: Ra'mon was born in Chicago and currently lives in Milwaukee. Apparently, Ra'mon lived and worked in the Twin Cities for a while. So, I don't know. Is this a mistake by "Runway" by labeling him from Minneapolis (which apparently they have done while he's speaking during the show)? Or, can you say you're from Minnesota when you only lived here for a while?

I'm going with no on that last question. So I will continue to refer to my Minnesota Chris as our homegrown local boy and Ra'mon as my second pick only. So there!

Monday, September 14, 2009

We'll miss you, Patrick Swayze

It was my 8th birthday and my mom let me watch "Dirty Dancing" at my sleepover. Not sure how I got away with that, but I wore out the cassette tape of the soundtrack, and every time I've flipped by that wonderfully campy movie on cable, I've watched for a few minutes.

Mr. Swayze, this is for you. Thanks for your contribution.

Kanye West is a dirtbag

Preface: Video Music Awards? For what videos? I'd like someone to do a study as to what times during the day and week a person has to tune into MTV to actually see a video. It was bad enough when I was in junior high that they played the same videos over and over again, but at least when I came home from school I knew I had a solid few hours of nothing but music on TV. I wonder how kids today concentrate on doing homework when they don't have MTV blaring in the background. That's how I did it.

But, anyhow, the VMA's continue, and after last night's Kanye West incident, I would be remiss in not mentioning it.

I'm not a Taylor Swift fan. Like so much of popular music these days, I don't get it. (Jonas Brothers, anyone?) But she won her first VMA last night, and Kanye came up on stage, took the microphone and essentially said Beyonce deserved to win. Beyonce was horrified, and Taylor Swift was crushed. She didn't even finish her speech. In a classy move, however, Beyonce brought her back on stage later and let her finish. Oh, and he got boo'd during his little speech and every time his name was mentioned afterward. : )

As an aside, how arrogant does someone have to be to do what Kanye did? He's had some stellar moments in the past, and this is not the first time he has said someone else didn't deserve an award. In fact, last time he said HE deserved it rather than the person who won. At what point does someone's jerkiness start to outweigh the talent. For me, we're at that point. I hope this incident hits Kanye wear it hurts most: the ego and the wallet.

Anyway, here's the video. You be the judge.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Runway: Blondies rule and Qristyl drools

Winner: Althea
Auf'd: Qristyl

First of all, who cares. I find that I lose a lot of interest in the show when the designers have a boring challenge. What could be more boring than designing a cocktail dress for their own model. I was more surprised by how far some of the designers were bending over backward to meet the model's requests. The first thing I would have said: "You want me to pick you next week, right? Then whatever I make for you, you better strut yourself down that runway and praise every stitch of that dress, got it?" There, problem solved.

Shirin has quickly become my little favorite. Not as a designer, but as a personality. She's so adorable, which is probably why she had so much trouble saying no to her model last night. I was quite nervous for her when she was asked to design a royal blue jumpsuit. Thank God she finally took it her own way and made a dress just good enough to get her through to the next round. Anyway, that's neither here nor there. Let's get down to who stunk up the place.

It was a battle among the ladies last night, with the blondies coming out on top. Qristyl made a dress that at least had some interest to it halfway through the show. Now, granted, it was a bit messy, and Tim said as much. In fact, he said something about it looking like the model had been rolling around in bed all day. (I won't ask what she was doing.) Anyhow, she made the mistake of scrapping that dress and playing it safe with a little black number with an old lady silhouette. Never play it safe! Ever! The dress was wearable, which is what they called Johnny's purple frock as well. On Runway, "wearable" can be extremely bad unless that word is closely followed by "chic" or "edgy." Just wearable is doom. And it certainly was for Qristyl, who hit the fashion highway last night.

Logan sucked, too, with his silky and lace electric blue number. Basically a prom dress. But he looked so cute in his tight silver pants and matching shoes, they just couldn't let him go. (Thank you, judges.)

As I mentioned, the blond girls were on their game last night. It was a battle between Althea and Carol Hannah. Personally, I loved Carol Hannah's the best. She made a draped purple top with a Grecian neckline and asymetrical straps, coupled with a hard, structured pencil skirt with a little surprise of flowy fabric in the back. Beautiful! She was my pick last night.

Althea's was good, too. She put a new spin on the black suit. A puffy little skirt with bunchy bits of interest and a jacket with three-quarter sleeves. I liked it. Didn't love it. But the judges did, so she won.

As always, I have to mention our Minnesota Chris. I worried for our boy last night. That color of green fabric he chose was quite reminiscent of seaweed, and then he put two black bands around it that sort of made it looked like a bunch of celery tied up. Oh, how I worried. But he got a pass. Careful, Chris! You're our only hope of taking home the "PR" title to Minnesota. Do us proud!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Project Runway: Three Strikes and you're auf'd!

Winner: Ra'mon! Hurray!!!
Auf'd: Mitchell ...finally

Project Runway history tonight! Never has a non-team captain won a challenge, and never has a winning team partner been kicked off. BOTH happened tonight. Mitchell didn't do jack, so the judges finally got rid of the worthless Mitchell, despite the fact that his team (Ra'mon) had the winning design of the night. Ra'mon was credited for doing all the work and won the challenge, a huge comeback from last week's bowling ball bag dress. (Please note that both my picks have now won challenges. Ahem, ahem.)

Oh, the team challenge. Never a dull moment. I love when they up the ante and make them do a second look. It's funny how suprised they all looked when Tim came in and announced that. In the history of team challenges, throughout five seasons, have they never not done that? Do these kids even watch this show? Funny.

I had no idea how this one was going to go when they were working. Tim seemed to love everyone's except Ra'mon's and Mitchell's second look. Tim was absolutely right about that first attempt at a second look -- totally a scuba suit, and not even a cute one. A scary brown one. But, luckily, Ra'mon cut his losses and scrapped it and came up with something fabulous. Tim didn't really like Epperson's and Qrisyl's very much, either. At least not in the work room. I was on the fence. I actually kind of liked that green color.

Anyhow, on the runway, I really found it to be a tough call. In the end, I thought they all did a beautiful job. If I hated a look, it was probably Nicolas and Gordana's avante garde look. What the hell was up with the lacey tights? Their main look was beautiful. The skirt flowed out, and the top was fun and youthful. Honestly, I didn't feel like either of them deserved to go home for the terrible lacey number. The two looks balanced each other out. So I was glad the judges weren't forced to send one of them home. I guess we can thank Mitchell for that little save. He did something right for sucking even more than the worst look sent down the runway.

Hurray for Ra'mon's big comeback from the scuba suit! What a gorgeous green avante garde look. The beachy one was safe, I thought, which, overall, made me think they didn't deserve a top spot. But the second look was amazing.

I didn't think Epperson and Qristyl did a bad job with the beachy dress. That was nice and well made. Good print, too. Fun and botanical. But the weird, form-fitting avante garde jumpsuit is what resulted in their downfall.

Overall, I thought good calls were made tonight. We're finally rid of Mitchell, and I think we've got some very talented designers remaining. It will be tight competition. I predict Qristyl, Epperson and Nicolas are not long for the Runway. They come up with some pretty cool stuff, but they're the weakest.

On a side note, I wonder if producers or Tim give the judges a heads up on what went on in the workroom. They always seem to know exactly who to pick on and prod about how much work they actually did. Like tonight with Mitchell. It sure seemed like they were tipped off to the fact that he only really worked on the swimsuit. But, I digress. Just curious.

Until next week ... Aufedersein!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Runway Week 2: Big beautiful bellies

Winner: Shirin. (Yayyy!!!)
Auf'd: Malvin. (Well ...OK.)

What a fun challenge tonight: design maternity wear for Rebecca Romijn. I was impressed with most of the designers tonight. Not easy to make women look beautiful with a big beach ball under their shirts.

I thought for sure Minnesota Chris would be in the top three tonight. His had a great fuschia color on top, lots of volume and movement, and two pieces, which was a nice change from the majority.

I wasn't quite sure what they were thinking putting Louise's red lingerie style cocktail dress in the top three. It was tiered and bulky and had a big flower on the shoulder. Sort of like a pregnant woman in a bordello.

The other two top threes were fabulous, especially Shirin's with the coat and the longer merlot dress. She cinched in the waste just on top of the pregnancy belly, which drew attention to the belly, but in a classy, intentional way, rather than trying to hide it. And yay, she won!

The bottom three certainly didn't disappoint in extreme weirdness. Malvin had a good start with a black tank, but he covered it with a cream-colored sling that the judges called "the chicken egg." It looked like the model had already had the baby and was carrying it under the shirt.

R'amon took a serious turn from last week. He was one of my picks to go all the way, as you will remember. Tonight he made a purple and gray bowling ball case, as Mitchell pointed out. Not good, R'amon. You're making me look bad.

Once again, Mitchell proved he can't stand the heat. Last week he sent a sheer, floor-length dress down the runway that showed EVERYTHING. The poor model was practically nude. This week he made sad, poofy, matronly bloomer shorts. Brown, no less. Underneath a tight white shirt, no less! Straaaaange, Mitchell.

Yet, somehow, he managed to squeak by once again. What in the world these judges see in him, I have no idea. ...Although, I can't say I was sad to see Malvin go. "I guess I'm too conceptual for America," he said. Yep, if he thinks conceptual means freakish, then absolutely.

Off to give "Models of the Runway" one more try. I'm not thinking I'm going to get hooked on this one. I can't bring myself to care about whether they get a spread in Marie Claire magazine. I'm sure all 16 of them will be just fine.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Don't worry, Green Day fans

Hello all!

Still getting a lot of questions and e-mails about Green Day. I know it's been quiet, and it will continue to be quiet for a while. But everyone should stay tuned and stay pumped. Things are happening. Slow but sure, people!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Project Runway Season 6 is on!

First, let's just get this out of the way: Hurray! Project Runway is back! I was so happy to see that it's the show we all know and love and has not been bastardized by Lifetime or the move to L.A. So let's all breathe a sigh of relief, and get down to business ...
Ari Fish: "What if you don't sketch?" she says, before doing a headstand. (And she designed a gross little silver jumper. Michael Kors called it a disco soccer ball. Ha! Agreeeeeed. So did the rest of the judges because she was the first to be auf'd.)

Malvin Vien: "I don't differentiate between colors of carpets," he says, about having to design for the red carpet. (Um, the red carpet is a sacred space for Hollywood glamor. Respect it, weirdo. Who are you designing for if you don't aspire to the red carpet? Your mom?)

Epperson: The one name, no last name, says it all. Get over yourself. You suck. (Plus, your purple dress looked like drapes in a parlor.)

Carol Hannah Whitfield: Weird Victorian-style costume. Ugly color of creamy yellow, too.

Mitchell Hall: Even his first attempt which didn't fit was quite odd. The second attempt? Horrific. I cannot believe they gave him a pass on this sheer dress he threw together tonight. It's totally unwearable. Nina Garcia said those exact words. He failed, so why did he not get kicked out?

Lindsay Lohan: As a guest judge, she looked quite lost. As if anyone would take her advice on what to wear on the red carpet.

Gordana Gehlhausen: Beautiful, beautiful blue cocktail dress.

R'amon-Lawrence Coleman: Sophistocated and lovely! "Chic, well-made and respectable" is how Michael Kors described his dress. This is how purple is done correctly, Epperson.

Chris Straub: Our very own Shakopee, MN, boy. We gotta root for our homegrown, right? "Cute and edgy" is how Michael Kors described his challenge dress. I agree! And he won the first challenge!

My final picks to go all the way, you ask? Chris and R'amon. I expect great things. Although, in all honesty, I didn't see any clear front-runners tonight. In previous seasons, it's been much easier to tell which ones will be going home quite soon and which will go all the way. Chris and R'amon did well tonight, and that's the only thing I'm basing my decision on. The "vision" wasn't as visible in their garments as it has been for previous designers in the first challenges, such as Korto and Ulee and Michael in previous seasons.

Be sure and read below about the "All-Star Challenge," which ushered in the new season with a two-hour special episode.

All Star Challenge ushers in new Project Runway season

WHAT!? Daniel? I feel like I was the only one who actually saw Daniel's collection. Who in the world would wear torn-up sports wear that falls two inches below the models' asses? I don't understand. I seriously don't. Two hours of an "All-Star" challenge, and this is the result.

Speaking of "All-Star," what is up with all these runner-ups and fourth and even fifth place winners? They should have had the first five first-place winners and then three of our favorite second-placers. I had no desire to see what Sweet Pea couldn't do again this time around.

I really thought tonight a wrong would be righted when either Ulee or Korto took the prize tonight. In Ulee's season (3), Jeffrey took the top prize and absolutely shocked me. His stuff tonight was awful. And even though it made a statement and was well constructed during the finals of season 3, Ulee's collection was beautiful and feminine and could be worn by so many women. The same was true tonight. I was glad the judges put Jeffrey in the bottom four tonight, but I was so sad Ulee was with him. I thought her and Korto had the best collections by far.

Korto, who came in second tonight, was also my pick last season. Leanne's was more innovative and beautiful. But it was more arty than it was wearable. Tonight, her collection was absolutely stunning.

I did think Chris March deserved to be in the top four. I know, I can hardly believe it myself. With all the sleeping he did tonight, I was surprised he managed to get anything done at all. But I'd wear any one of those coats. ...Maybe not the orange leggings, though. Still, his collection shocked me. I was used to seeing lots of cone boobs and drag queens.

So my top four would have been Chris March, Korto, Ulee and Michael, with Korto as the winner.

But, then, I guess it wouldn't be Project Runway if it didn't piss me off. More than anything, I was just glad to see the same show I've known and loved for five seasons. Thank God the move to Lifetime didn't ruin everything. ...All right, time for season 6! I'll be back in an hour with my thoughts.

P.S. Hurray for Santino being in the bottom four! What a blow-hard. "Project Runway didn't make me, I made Project Runway." ...I'm just going to say it. If the show uses him for anything else, I will stop watching. Do you hear me, Project Runway!? Never again!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Project Runway Returns!

Hi all! A big story comes out Thursday on Project Runway. There's tons to look forward to and also to dread. ...As we all know, the show is moving to (gulp) Lifetime. Oh, dear me. We're talking about the network whose bread and butter is wife-beater movies and programming about not-so-pretty women finding inner beauty. Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! I pray the network will allow the Project Runway folks to just do their thing and not provide "guidance." ...OK, I admit that on a Saturday or two I have gotten sucked into a movie about a college woman who finds herself in an abusive relationship, starring Tori Spelling. But that doesn't mean I want that kind of camp in my Runway. Step off, Lifetime.

But so far, things look good. Go to the Web site. It's actually pretty cool. You can search through the designers' portfolios, and there's a ton of other cool multimedia stuff. Also, I'm wayyyy looking forward to the two hour preamble, the All Star Designer Challenge - eight former Runway stars come back to vie for the championship at $100,000. Pretty neat.

I'm not really looking forward to the new show about the Project Runway models. I guess I don't really care what their opinions are on the clothes. I fear it will devolve into a whiney "My designer is totally ruining my life by making me wear these hideous clothes." Perhaps this is where Lifetime is showing its ugly face, in this program. If some chick cries during at least one segment of every show, or if the models are forced to live together and every episode devolves into cattiness, then I'm out. But I'll give the first one a try.

Don't forget to read up on the show Thursday in Currents, and tune in Thursday night to the shows. Check back here Friday for the latest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Captain kids, Tommy Dreamer, Craig Morgan and Static-X

Everyone should check out the story on Captain Eleven running tomorrow in the Freep, cover of the Currents section. They're a great group of guys. So, I guess, sometimes good things come out of bad things. For background, view the 38 or so comments on the Meat Puppets review below.

Tomorrow I also will be talking to a person by the name of Tommy Dreamer of the WWE. I have actually never seen an episode ... is that the right word? ... of said program, so I must do my research. I had planned to bring in a ringer. Ryan Gehrke, the manager of Blockbuster, is a fan. I planned to bring him in and record his conversation with the wrestler and then transcribe it as a Q&A, to save him from having to write an actual story out of it. But he claims he can't get out of work. As the manager of the store, I find that hard to believe. Perhaps a small case of cold feet? Star-struckedness? (Ryan, if you're reading this, I will gladly publish your retaliation here to make this a fair squabble.)

In the past two weeks, I've also spoken to Craig Morgan, country star, and Tony Campos, Static-X bass player. Talk about diversity. You can't get much different than that when comparing musicians. Static-X should be a good show if you like really heavy music. He was a fun interview too. Well, from what I could hear. He was on a cell phone making this swoooosh noise the whole time and it would cut out entireley when he'd go through tunnels.

That's all for now. Happy Wednesday, kind readers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Captain Eleven and props to A.J.

Hi all.

For those who contributed to the 30-plus comments on the Meat Puppets review below, or for those who read it, we've all made up. I sat down with the Captain Eleven guys for a couple of hours, Blue Bricks patio, nice breeze, lovely, and hashed it all out. I also got several great stories out of it. Lots for you all to look forward to! ; )

Anyhow, the Captain Eleven story, which has evolved into a Captain Eleven story plus the DIY band culture in Mankato, will come out in early August. That gives the guys time to shoot pictures involving pink frosted doughnuts. (You'll understand when I post the article.)

In Green Day news, don't forget about us. There is momentum ... : )

Hey, and also, sounds like a local kid named A.J. was the one called up to play "Jesus of Suburbia" at the Target Center. That's the song Billie Joe askes for a guitarist in the audience at every concert. Kinda cool!

Monday, July 13, 2009

YouTube video of Billie Joe's Mankato mentions

Here's the clip, folks, courtesy of my sister, Kristina Dyslin, who searched the Web and e-mailed YouTube people to find it for me. What a girl! Billie Joe talks about Mankato quite a bit!

Click here!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Transcript of Billie Joe's Mankato mention

This from a Mankatoan who went to the show:

Yah, he definitely did mention you by name. My jaw hit the floor when he started talking about it. Sorry, I don't have any video or audio of that moment so we'll have to rely on my memory, which admittedly, ain't as good as it used to be.

So, let me try to recall the whole sequence here.
Goes something like this:
"OK, so there's this girl, Amanda, trying to get us to play a show in Mankato."
"Anybody here from Mankato?"
He, of course, couldn't here us shouting about being from Mankato despite the fact that there were at least a dozen people around us yelling.
Then I can't exactly remember what else he went into, but he said something like this:
"I met this girl there, Adrienne, well she's actually from NE Minneapolis."
"I remember playing Mankato. Our manager didn't book us there. We just kind of showed up and played in some guy's basement. It was a good show. I have a good memories of Mankato."

So, all in all, it was quite a lengthy little speech as far as rock and roll time goes. Billie Joe really does sound pretty sincere when talking to the fans. He certainly didn't go all "rock star" and forget about your work, or Mankato, or the fans from Mankato. It really was pretty cool. They even paid homage to the hometown boy, Prince, and did a cover of "Let's Go Crazy."

On the campaign, not sure if their stage show could fit in our little building though. The pyrotechnics were unbelievable and might not work in the Alltel Center. But they could leave that stuff on the trucks. At any rate, he never said we can't do that. Of course, he didn't say they would either. It was just cool to hear Mankato mentioned at the show. All due to a grassroots campaign that you started. Think of that.
Have a great day!

Billie Joe mentioned the campaign!

Holy know what!

I keep getting all these e-mails today from Green Day concert-goers. Apparently, during last night's Green Day concert at the Target Center (while I was at my weekend job waitressing : ( ...) Billie Joe Armstrong said a girl from Mankato (me!) has been trying to get Green Day to play a show in Mankato. I'm still trying to figure out what exactly he said, but apparently he didn't say he wouldn't come. So there's a chance!

This actually makes me infinitely more sad than I was when I got home last night from work to receive an e-mail from Adrienne Armstrong offering me tickets to last night's show. ...sigh.

Click here for the Strib review.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Project Runway blog will continue

Hey guys. As the new season of "Project Runway" approaches, I've gotten e-mails wondering if the "PR" blog will continue this year. Absolutely. I think it'll be fun to see what changes on the new network and in a new city. Hopefully they won't rehash the same tired old challenges and take the big changes as an opportunity to amp up the show.

I hear the new designers have been decided on. I'll be sure and post them when they're announced on the wire. Sounds like the first show is Aug. 10.

The blog posts will be here, unlike last year when they were posted on the home page. So be sure and bookmark and check back!

Meat Puppets still got it

I had plenty of time to wonder what the Meat Puppets would be bringing to the table, or to the stage, as it were, last night at the What's Up Lounge. Nothing against opening acts, Machine 22 and Captain Eleven, but I was on duty for the paper with the mission of reviewing the Puppets, so, knowing the show started at 8, I left my house at 9:30 hoping to get there as the second act was finishing up. No such luck. The first act wasn't even nearing its end.
So for a couple of hours I mingled a bit and watched as Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets wandered in and out of the room of 150 people or so, dressed for a book club meeting, or a jaunt to the mall, in faded gray jeans and an even more faded button-up shirt, his long gray hair tied loosely back in a ponytail. In this room of mostly 20-somethings, with a few easily identifiable Meat Puppets fans from way back (sitting calmly in skirts and slacks toward the back of the room), Cris stood, sipping a drink, bothered by only one fan for an autograph. Otherwise, it was unclear if I was one of a handful who knew who he was.

Twenty-nine years. That's a hell of a long time to be doing this. I sat with the band's tour manager, who informed me this tour was about getting back to the band's roots doing club gigs. More contact with fans. This was the first time the band ventured outstate in Minnesota, having played only in the Twin Cities. In addition to Mankato, Duluth and Rochester were also on the roster.

It's a cool idea. After all this time and experience, with a great new album of material to play, the band would choose to play smaller, more intimate gigs for the fans. Of course, one has to wonder if they had other options. I wondered if the trouble in the band's past had caught up with their fame, overshadowed the music. Cris's terrible drug addiction and prison time for assault, which drove a temporary wedge in the band. Would this show simply be a band going through the motions? Surviving on name recognition?

Hardly. Halfway through their first song, "Sewn Together," the title track to the new album, it was clear these guys were here for themselves as much as the fans. The sound was much lighter than the first two bands that went on. The Kirkwood brothers sang in harmony. They weren't shredding their guitars and screaming into the microphone. In fact, if anything, their vocals were a bit subdued, with the intricate guitar work taking center stage. But they had an incredible energy, so obviously happy to be on stage playing together. There was a spirit about them, like they were grateful to be alive and to be a band.

I commented to a friend of mine I bumped into during the show about that energy. He said something like, "Compared to other bands that play here, though?" Immediately I thought of what Cris said on the phone when I interviewed him a couple of weeks ago. The Meat Puppets had taught Kurt Cobain that a band's energy isn't about volume. It comes from the music. They proved that to be true last night. There was even some crowd surfing going on, which I certainly didn't expect from a band touring a quiet rock album filled with vocal harmonies.

Improv seemed to also be a big part of the show. Songs stretched on twice as long as the album versions, with the brothers playing off of each other to keep the music going. Even songs from "Meat Puppets II," made famous from the "Nirvana Unplugged" concert, were stretched almost beyond recognition. To Nirvana fans, songs like "Plateau" and "Oh Me" from "Unplugged" became Cobain songs with the success of that album. It was nice to see the Kirkwood brothers reclaim them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Head to the Target Center

We worked for weeks on Campaign Green Day to try and get through to the band and somehow convince them that playing a show in Mankato would be an awesome thing to do. But I think we need to face the very real possibility that they'll never set foot on Mankato soil again. I know, I know. It's hard for me, too.
But, come on, the band's performance at the tour opener in Seattle on the 3rd was likened to that of Bruce Springsteen and U2 by The Seattle Times.
It's really not news that they are way out of our league, and it would take quite the miracle to bring them back to sleepy Mankato. That's why I think you've got to head up to the Target Center Saturday night and see them while you can. The reviews of the live show have been outstanding. Pyrotechnics, a setlist that includes career-spanning material, and the little extras that make an arena show feel like a club gig (inviting a fan up to play guitar during "Jesus of Suburbia," inviting others to dance on stage, and he even apparently kissed some dude full on the lips).
In a recent interview, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said he wants to give Springsteen a run for his money on his live shows. I've seen the Boss live four times, and I certainly scoffed when I read that. But, then again, Springsteen is pushing 60, and the last performance I saw in May seemed to lack a tad of the usual energy. ... I'm just sayin'.
Anyway, there are promises of T-shirt guns, getting sprayed in the crowed by Billie Joe with a water pistol, and hey, maybe you¹ll be that dude who gets kissed this time.
Here are a few songs likely to be a part of the setlist:
Song of the Century, 21st Century Breakdown, Know Your Enemy, Holiday, Geek Stink Breath, Jaded, Longview, Basket Case, She, 21 Guns, Jesus of Suburbia and Boulevard of Broken Dreams, among many others.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Awwwww ...

I think this is cute ...
In the few days since I announced I'm out of ideas and Campaign Green Day is going into neutral, two parties have come forward to try and save things. Both parties have power in the entertainment industry here in Mankato, but with a band like Green Day, I'm not sure it'll be enough. Still, it's nice to know so many people are on board with us! Thanks you guys.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The tour has commenced

Wow! The Adrienne Q&A got 17,800 hits (so far) on our Web site. That's a good 15,000 more than our usual top stories get. I guess you guys were interested! We joked about launching a campaign for a new band every month to keep this readership momentum going. ; )

I must admit, there is a tiny, tiny part of me that is hoping the band might just show up on July 12 between their Minneapolis and Chicago dates. Maybe I'll be chillin' at the Barmuda and all of a sudden I'll see people tearing down the street, running as fast as they can toward something. And so I'll follow, too, and there they'll be! Playing on the street right in front of Choppers until the cops come and bust it up. Maybe, just maybe.

In the meantime, don't forget to check out the Meat Puppets Thursday night at the What's Up. The story is running Thursday. It was supposed to run last week, but then Adrienne popped up and the Meat got bumped. Hope to see everyone there.