Friday, July 30, 2010

The 'Runway' went nutty on us ...

I suppose, after so many seasons, "Project Runway" felt the need to get gimmicky with the first episode. Bizarre is really the only word that comes to mind.

This season, they've already beefed up the show to 90 minutes (and after last night, the extra 30 seemed like uneeded fat). Then to top it off, the 17 designers brought to New York (yes 17!) were told they weren't even on the show yet. One or more of them would not even make it as contestants. Instead, all 17 had to vie for their spot on the show by designing a garment using an item from another contestant's suitcase in ... wait for it ... 5 HOURS. Just 5 hours for a challenge!

Now, granted, the challenge was kind of interesting. We've seen the crazy garb that some of these designers wear each season, so who knows what the poor normal-dressers would have to deal with in terms of fabric to work with. Plus, the 5-hour part of the challenge was pretty interesting because I couldn't sketch a pretty dress in 5 hours, let alone construct one out of fabric and thread.

Still, the whol thing seemed a little forced for ratings. I don't like stunts for the sake of stunts. I like them when they allow us to see some kind of extra ability each designer might have. Make a dress out of newspaper, for example, shows the creativity and construction skills of the designers. Forcing them to throw something together in 5 hours doesn't bring the best out of anyone. But I digress.

My main problem with the season kick-off was the girl who got sent home. Now, there was a designer named Casanova (no joke) who sent a model down the runway in hooker clothing. She was so naked, I thought for sure she would come falling out of that scarf-dress from all sides. Yet he made it onto the show. There was also a designer whose name I don't recall (and the Project Runway website won't load because of so much traffic) who A) wore a bowler hat, B) sent a model down the runway in a backward coat that he stapled up the back, and C) still made it onto the show. I take offense to all three. And the main reason I do is because the adorable designer who did get kicked off the show, McKell -- the only designer to get kicked off the show -- had a BEAUTIFUL dress. It was constructed well on time. It was creative. It was pretty. And it was FAR from the worst dress to get sent down the Runway. Tim even said he really liked it in the workroom!

Gretchen was the designer who won with a pretty black dress. She cut it beautifully and incorporated the fabric, which was really hard to work with, in a beautiful way. She deserved to win.

To see photos of all of these garments and get to know the new designers, visit the PR Web site.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Regarding your hateful anonymous letter ...

It's not uncommon to receive anonymous letters in this line of work. We put an opinion or a story out there, and sometimes they don't always sit well with readers.

I respect and appreciate the opinions of readers that are not hateful, but rather passionate and supported by facts or personal beliefs. I also respect and appreciate readers who sign their names to such letters.

Often -- and in the case of a letter I received Monday in regard to MTV's "16 and Pregnant" teen being filmed in Mankato -- the anonymous letter-writer states that he or she did not sign his or her name because they're too ashamed of the situation that they're writing out. That's bull. They're afraid.

They know full well that when one attacks with hatred, they will often receive it in return. So they use the old anonymous letter as a way to vent frustration. To what end? I have no idea. I wonder if this particular letter-writer thought I would say to myself, "Ah ha! I knew I was missing something. Why in the world was I thinking it would be a good idea to report on an MTV camera crew being in town, filming all over the city and causing commotion and making people wonder what is going on? After all, she's just a 'loser knocked-up teenager,'" to borrow her words.

Well, Anonymous Writer, today your words will be published right here on this blog to give people the opportunity to weigh in on your thoughts. We don't have your name, of course. But whoever responds, I will gladly correspond with you if you provide yours.

Here is the letter (the bolded sections were bolded by the writer, presumably for added emphasis.) ... Please note her presumption, by the way, that this teenager doesn't have a decent family to help care and pay for the child (I know this to be incorrect, by the way) and that the state will be paying for everything from birth to college. Also note that as a decent "married woman" and "responsible person," as she calls herself, who has never met this young girl, she has made the all-knowing judgment that the girl should either abort her baby or give it up for adoption:

To: Amanda Dyslin, Free Press Features Editor

RE: "MTV is among us, probably for a while" (should be awhile?) anyway ------

Your story today was very sobering. Our community will be supporting yet another bastard child born to a loser knocked-up teenager.

I would suggest more stories on this subject to include:

1. This girl is being exploited while MTV is raking in huge dollars and they don't give a crap about what happens to the lives involved.

2. The only happy ending would be adoption.

3. Another happy ending would be abortion?

4. The bill to taxpayers??? $15,000+ labor, delivery, physician visits (If it is uncomplicated), ADC, numerous government programs for counseling, housing, work supplements, breakfast and lunch when in school, a free education, etc. etc. Outrageous, pathetic.

5. Extol the fine work of Planned Parenthood.

As a MARRIED mother, college graduate, and responsible person, I cannot give my name because I am embarrassed for our community and this situation makes me sick and angry.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

'Dexter' season 5 trailer REVEALED!

Hol-ee smokes.
All you Dextees out there, remember the season finale of "Dexter"? How could you forget, right!!!!!!!!?????????
Incredibly daring television.
Well, at Comic-con, the trailer for Season 5 was unveiled. Looks INSANE.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Meet the Rain Kings, formerly ILL-Gotten Booty

Hey there! Check out the latest band to be inducted in The Free Press Meet the Band series: the Rain Kings. Formerly ILL-Gotten Booty, the band evolved into something newer and fresher about a year ago and have been playing southern Minnesota bars and clubs ever since.
Check 'em out HERE!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Back by popular demand ... 'Project Runway' blog!

I know, I know. I let you down. Last season, I just was not into "Project Runway" and therefore could not bring myself to be witty and funny and extremely, extremely amusing in blog entries following each episode. I quit. I failed. Due to numerous e-mails and in-person inquiries (does three count as numerous?), I have decided to bring back the "Runway" blog for season 8. Woooooooooooo! So for the three of you who followed loyally and were saddened when I bailed, this is for you. For everybody else, I'll find other stuff to write about, too. Don't worry.

Curious about this season, which kicks off July 29 on Lifetime? Here's a trailer. Enjoy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

MTV was (is?) in Mankato ... but where are they now?

So, my Facebook pal Diane Winegar is the co-owner of Sweet Peas on Riverfront. It's a store for baby goods. She said an MTV crew came in today (Friday) with a girl for their show "16 and Pregnant." It's a reality show about teens who are pregnant and how their lives are changing as a result. Each episode features a new teen. I'm wondering if this means the girl lives in Mankato and has a TV crew following her pretty much 24/7 right now. I'd love to get to the bottom of this for a story. If anyone has the skinny, shoot me an e-mail at Thanks!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I was a geek, pretending to be a freak

On the Fourth, my family and I were flipping through the channels and came upon the pilot of "Freaks and Geeks" that was just about to begin. So, of course, we watched the whole thing and remembered what a truly great show that was, albeit short lived.

I was also reminded how much like Lindsay I was in high school. She's the main character of the show who, like many teenage kids, is trying to figure out where she fits in.

After a few years distance from high school, you finally start to be honest with yourself about what group you fit into. No more posturing. Just the cold, hard truth: Were you a jock, a geek, a freak or one of the popular elite?

I've decided, after careful consideration, I was a geek pretending to be a freak. I got good grades. As and Bs. I defintely was not part of the popular group or the jocks. In Fairmont, that tended to be blond skinny girls with money and the boys who followed them around. Early on, 7th and 8th grade, I joined the choir and started doing behind-the-scenes work on school plays. Holding the spotlight and coordinating costuming.

But, right around the age of 14, I got the itch to "be cool" in some way. The catalyst? A boy, of course.

He was a naughty kid. Smoked. Drank. Etc. So in high school, I joined the "freak" crowd. The naughty kids who cut class and partied. As I was watching "Freaks and Geeks" and how awkward Lindsay was with that group, I realized I must have looked the same way. My friends were nice kids. But they had no direction. There was no question that they wouldn't be going to college. I knew most of them would probably live their lives in Fairmont, which, at the time, seemed like the worst fate imaginable for a teenage kid in a small town. And, at the same time, even while I was surrounding myself with this crowd, I knew there was no question that I would be going to college. Never once did I question the importance of getting good grades and staying out of trouble, despite the fact that most of the people whose opinions I seemed to value most were dropping out of school left and right.

That draw to be accepted and to find somewhere you feel "cool" is pretty much all-consuming in high school. If only we could all enjoy the comfort of self-acceptance as kids that arrives like a gift one day in adulthood. Suddenly, who you are is just fine. We'd all save ourselves pain and worry that ends up not amounting to much later on, except arguably the character that comes from growing pains.

If you haven't seen "Freaks and Geeks," you should definitely watch it. It lasted less than a season in the '90s, but there's no better show that illustrates the awkward dance of teenage politics. It will definitely have you examining what group you fit into and realizing that, whichever it was, you came out just fine.

Oh, and P.S., Judd Apatow was the executive producer and wrote six of the episodes. I had no idea!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Fairmont fun on the Fourth

I love the Fourth. Such a nice, low-key holiday. No gift-pressure. No huge meal that takes hours to prepare. Just family, fireworks and something on the grill.

I'm looking forward to this weekend a lot. Headed home to Fairmont for all of the above. I also have a few Fairmont favorites planned that aren't attached to the holiday, but that most Fairmont natives must have when they return: black raspberry ice cream from the Dairy Freeze, and a Channel burger from the Channel Inn. Occasionally on Facebook someone from high school will post a status update about dreaming about a Channel burger. Truly, the best burger in the world. I would also add "order a Jake's pizza" to the list, but I figure with the grilling out and everything, there probably won't be time for that. But anyone else who visits Fairmont should stop into Jake's for sure. Best pizza ever.

For an activity that is attached to the Fourth, I will be walking with my family to my grandma's old house on Lake Park Boulevard right across from the lake where they shoot off the firworks. Tons and tons of boats go out on the lake, and everyone else picks a piece of lakeside real estate to park it, get eaten by mosquitos and enjoy the show. I like to sit on the retaining wall in front of my grandma's old house. She doesn't live there anymore, but nobody really cares who sits in their yards on the Fourth. Brings back memories of all of my cousins and me posing for pictures on the front steps and coloring on the front porch.

Also on the Fourth agenda: see "Eclipse." There is no such thing as a sold-out screening in Fairmont, or at least, not any time I've been there. I think maybe the first day the theater opened and they were showing "Dumb and Dumber," I think then maybe it was a full theater. I was 12. And that's the last I remember it being full.
Speaking of which, I recommend everyone who wants to see a big blockbuster movie on opening weekend -- and who doesn't want to sit next to a stranger shoveling popcorn into their mouth in an overcrowded theater -- go to St. Peter Cinema 5. There's always plenty of seats, the tickets are cheaper and so are the concessions. If they'd only get Coke products, I'd be in heaven. Incidentally, they also do not have 3D, so you can save yourself the $3 extra fee for a 3D movie that is forced upon you in Mankato. The "Eclipse" showing you wanted to go to sold out in Mankato this weekend? Seriously, go to St. Peter.

So, anyway, the point of this post before I started rambling was to say Happy Fourth. I hope you have a low-key, relaxing, happy holiday.