Friday, September 29, 2006

A few bits and pieces

Yesterday the issue of Backwards City Review that I'm in came to me! Hooray! The poems look great, and I felt proud reading them. My professor Larissa Szporluk is in there, and also my friend Dan Rzicznek, which is sweet. Their poems are also awesome.
My Dad is pretty cool, too.

About Project Runway this week:
I know a lot of people have felt that the producers and judges wussed out.
I feel differently. My problem with reality shows so often is the lack of poetic justice. Witness the extremely irritating character of Monique on Top Model, who failed the day's challenge, has a huge attitude problem, and didn't take a good picture this week, but still believes she is the queen of the house. I can't watch this show while she's on it because her brattiness ruins it, and I fear it will be forever before she is axed. (I can't say this is true for sure, I just worry). So, on PR when it came to three designers I frequently enjoy and one that I respect for designing, I feel great that the decision made favored my own indecision.
Not only this, but the prospect of four collections is extra exciting to me because I love the final runway show. Furthermore (as if you needed another reason), I felt such a friendly vibe-- all the designers hugged after they all made it. No one was sad or angry. They all are so different, and as much as they have sometimes criticized each other, I think this group has generally done so from a design standpoint, and haven't been mean about it (even Jeffrey, whose character is frankly cantakerous, has softened his criticisms on these designers). I may be wrong, but the feeling after the show seemed so positive and excited to me. It makes me really anticipate Olympus Fashion Week with all attention forward. The reunion show may dampen my spirits a little, but let it just be said now that on October 18 I will be riveted to that screen.

In other TV news:
House? Hilarious. "You can't stop our love!"
Supernatural? Complicated, but oh do I heart Dean in scrub pants and t-shirt.
Gilmore Girls? GAH! ON AT THE SAME DARN TIME AS HOUSE NOW! WTF? VCR definitely in overdrive henceforth. I choose to record GG because I can watch it later in the evening in my jammies, with some ice cream and wet hair, and it goes over pretty well.

Ok, go away. I need to write some poems.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I was starting with some allergies or cold-related nonsense last week, possibly related to some seriously cold and wet socks last Tuesday, so I decided to spend most of the weekend alone, ensconced in my house. I slept a great deal of Thursday and Friday, and took a nice walk to the park with a pastry and coffee. By Friday evening, I was ready to get busy on a project. So, I went and checked out the unabridged The Hobbit on audiotape as well as a PG Wodehouse (Jeeves and Wooster, don't you know), and headed over to my workroom (which, as it turns out, is quite a bit warmer than my own apartment...good news if you are at all familiar with my heating bills. I will not need to turn up the heat so high when I am working and need to have my arms free from blankets).
I digress. For quite some time I've had some dark navy blue fabric with cream pinstripes. It's a suiting fabric, very simple, with a very slight sheen to it. The plan had been to make a suit, and I even had a pattern including a lined jacket and simple skirt. With the high number of other projects I've had, however, and the timing (I can't, for instance, see myself working on a full suit in July), I hadn't gotten to it. Also, jackets are hard, and I'd had variable luck with previous ones. This weekend, though, I decided it was time.
I discovered as I got the fabric out of the closet (did I mention how delighted I am with my new crafts arrangement?), that I didn't have any lining fabric in the correct color. I must have used whatever I bought for something else. I did not feel like going all the way out to the fabric store (did I mention I was wearing pajama bottoms?). I did uncover, though, a lovely cream satiny fabric with grey ochre and blue flowers on it, and was pleasantly surprised to notice that, not only would it be suitable for the lining, but it would look professional and as though that had been the intended pairing all along. I had bought this fabric for a nightgown. I often buy a few yards of this silky stuff (really like a very thin and light satin on the outside), in whatever pretty pattern I can find in the clearance. It's not a very ironable fabric because it doesn't hold much of a fold, but it's not overly difficult to sew and it has a lot of applications. Now I'm excited because I've found one more potential use and will not have to hold myself in check when I find prints I like.
With this discovery, I launched full on to make my suit. I started with the jacket, and truth be told it was indeed a tough task, mainly because I was being very careful with it. Actually, the creation of the lapels (typically very difficult for me) was much easier than previous projects! I was excited about that, and about how it all came together, even more so because this all went down while I was listening to a story perfect for sewing to (I'd never read The Hobbit). As I stitched in the lining, I grew happier and happier with my fabric choice and, although I didn't do the best job with attaching the sleeve part of the lining, from the outside it looked great, and I know it will "ride up with wear." The skirt went pretty well; I didn't do the best job on the hem, so I may take it out when I have some time and redo it (the fabric has the slightest bit of stretch to it, and I found that the hem is tugged just a bit too far to the left, creating the smallest of bends in the pinstripes). I even had a little time last night before I quit to cover some buttons with scraps of fabric and stitch them onto the jacket, and make a little tie belt with the leftover silky.
The result, I must say, is very professional, and I am very excited that it all went so well. No major disasters at all. It was a great way to spend a quiet weekend at home. I'm most delighted about the lining discovery and above I have included a picture (ignore how bad I look! it was late!) so you can see what I mean.

Monday, September 18, 2006

My crew, and by crew I mean my blog friends, are always putting notes up about albums they are looking to buy, or are excited about, or that are the best in the year, etc. I always feel a little left out, because I don't listen to a lot of current music, but I seem to hang around most with people who do.
Today, though, I'm excited about an album; it's not new, but it got me kind of geeked. It happened like this:
I'd never seen the entirety of Kill Bill, either vol 1 or 2. It was a lot like Pulp Fiction. It's not the type of movie I really go for much. I can appreciate why others would, but I myself would need to be in a special sort of reflective mood in order to watch. With Pulp Fiction, I made a sassy drink and got down to it. I haven't seen the whole thing since, just bits and pieces on TV, and I don't mind. The experience was encapsulated into that mildly tipsy sort of "aha. I see" mood.
This weekend, though, TNT was going to show the Kill Bill films, and I thought I'd give them a go. Friday was vol. 1 and Saturday was vol. 2; I finished my essay quota each night and sat down to it.
Well, vol. 1 starts with Nancy Sinatra singing "Bang Bang." Even if you know me pretty well, you probably do not know that I heart Nancy Sinatra. Also, I love that song. I resolved immediately (so immediately that I got up to write it down on my grocery list) to get that song in whatever manner possible. On Saturday, I traipsed my behind into Finders, looked the song up, and found the Kill Bill vol. 1 soundtrack on CD. I decided against vol. 2, since I had not yet seen the movie, but as soon as I got back in my car I put my new CD on and listened to "Bang Bang" at least six times. I didn't actually listen to the rest until quite a bit later that evening, and this is what I think of it: It rocks.
The only song I didn't care for much is the rap that follows O-Ren's speech. I might warm up to it, but the beginning, where the speaker is just sort of doing a "this is your life" sort of thing is dull, especially following the included scene after O-Ren slices Tanaka's head off. The difference is jarring in a bad way.
The remainder of the songs are exciting, and are very excellent traveling music. It's a good soundtrack because it evokes the mood of the movie very well. It has that special referential quality but also stands by itself. I love it, and it shall travel with me from car to workroom henceforth.
So take that, music flaunters.
Oh, and the films? Entertaining...more so than Pulp Fiction for me, actually. Not something I'd watch a lot, but worth a rental now and then.

Friday, September 15, 2006

This week on the small screen

Project Runway--are you kidding me? That was the biggest f-ing (that's right, I said f-ing, that's how mad I was) waste of an hour ever.
In fact, as I explained to my friend Amanda, I was so infuriated that during the commercials I watched the rest of a movie, and didn't even care when I missed a minute or two of the show if I didn't stop the tape soon enough. That's huge for me. As much of a channel surfer as I am, if I'm watching something I need to watch, the channel stays put. I mean, I put on my ballerina pajama pants! I made a huge bowl of buttery popcorn! I'd watched tapes that needing returning in the early evening so as to clear my schedule!
The challenge itself wasn't *so* bad, but it was boring. And this using scraps of fabric thing? OK, I like the whole waste not want not thing, but if you don't have rules about that, you're going to get nonsense like the purse-stuffing. Really, it was the type of "challenge" that makes you think the creators were really struggling. I don't want to even talk about how their plan for bringing back challenge winners completely blew up in their faces and ended up further eroding credibility instead.
Laura deserved her win. Michael was strong. I would wear Uli's dress, sleeves and all (but not the necklace).
That's it.
Thank goodness for Calendar Girls, which I watched immediately following this debacle. It was witty, heartfelt, and entirely entertaining, and I even watched all of the extras on the dvd to learn about the real-life ladies who stripped for a calendar in support of Leukemia research. Helen Mirren is full of sass, which I always enjoy. That lady can do absolutely anything, and it was nice to see other familiar faces like Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley in HP), Penelope Wilton (Mum in Shaun of the Dead) and Celia Imrie (Una in Bridget Jones) doing something so completely daring, too. Now that's credibility.
Also on tap this week was The Exorcism of Emily Rose. I found parts of it creepy (mainly those all-alone with strange noises scenes), and it was worth the 2.50 dvd rental fee, or whatever it was. I like a nice, scary movie about this time of year, when it starts to get cold and the falling leaves make skittery noises across the ground when it's windy.
Evidently, Steve feels the same way. Zombies.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

TV Synthesis

Am I the only one who, while watching House last night and hearing that a child had two sets of DNA, when House said "How is this possible?" immediately thought CHIMERISM? Or however you spell it?
And I couldn't believe it took him an achingly long time to figure that out. The "disorder" is so weird, you'd have thought House would LOVE that and know about it instantly.
Maybe House didn't catch that episode of CSI when the criminal wasn't caught at first because of dual DNA. In any case, I thought it was a bit much for him to say "that's not possible." Even taking his level of distraction into account, I had a hard time suspending my disbelief that he wouldn't land on chimerism right away. I mean, there aren't many possibilities, but there IS one, you know?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Weekend in Scenes

Scene 1: Don't scream unless it's an emergency.
Screaming outside my window. Children walking their bikes up my driveway and then pedaling down the hill screeching at the top of their lungs. Why is everyone always in my driveway?
Scene 2: Saturday. 2 pm.
The heart feels sad for no good reason. Everyone is out in the sun. We all seem a bit uneasy. In the afternoon I stop and visit beside the booths. It is like a play. We might be saying "How are you?" or "Isn't it hot?" but we might also be saying "Cantaloupe and watermelon" or "This is what I'm saying. Listen to me while the people in the audience can't hear us." Someone points at the sky. Minutes later I know I should walk faster. The wind takes a turn for the biting. For the first time ever, I am drinking lemonade in the street and there are no bees. Where are the bees? Minutes later, thunder.
Scene 3: Sunday. 7:30 am. Phone ring #5. This time, I catch it.
"Is Dustin there?"
"Ah. No, you have the wrong number."
"Oh." Pause. "Is this Jeremy's phone?"
"No. It's my phone. It's...Abigail's phone."
"Oh." Pause. "Is this phone usually used by someone else?"
"NO. It's MY phone."
"Oh." Pause. Click.
Scene 4: Sunday. 4:00 pm.
I have burnt my lips with absurdly hot chocolate.
Scene 5: Sunday. 4:45 pm.
I am in a gigantic circle of people. I am wearing blue gloves with snowflakes on them. I am wiggling my hips and swiveling my shoulders. I am supposed to be flirting with people across the circle. I am instead enjoying that we are all moving in a circle and laughing happily in the cold.
Scene 6: Sunday. 9:00 pm.
Bags are strewn across my floor. I have been productive. I have bought: A bag with cloud fabric. Three bead bracelets. An adorable half-jacket. And things for other people. I have a quilt across my lap, and I am bent over almost double, hand-stitching the binding in place. I can't believe it is only 9 pm and my cheeks feel sunburnt but are really wind burnt. I have no work to do but this.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Giggled-so-much-couldn't-stop quote-of-the-week

I have to say that one of my favorite parts of the week is blogging about PR and then, even better, reading the comments of people's own responses to the show! That rules. And this week, we're all so clearly in agreement it gives me a great sense of peace.

OK, this is from my new book, The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel, by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht, in the section on gestures:
"In most Latin American countries it is considered phallic and very rude. In Brazil, the fig gesture means "good luck." In parts of the United States, it means "I've got your nose..." (179).

The first time I read that I had to read it again repeatedly because it made me laugh so much. It just sounds so funny to have I've got your nose thrown in there with the same seriousness as good luck or f you.
Ha ha! (said in scary Heidi Klum commercial voice).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

PR from Paree

So, Project Runway.
I liked this week's challenge, though I thought it definitely favored some designers' interests. An understanding of couture methods does not make a better designer, but it seems like several designers were aided in the planning stages because of this knowledge. Thus, Jeffrey and Vincent openly exercised their senses of self-importance, as though knowledge equaled skill. (Stay with me, Jeff fans...I'm on your side this week, witness below). I might have liked this challenge better had it been farther along, for a group of five or even the final four.
I have actually pinpointed the above issue as a beef I have with this year's many of the challenges have been clearly geared toward a particular designer's interest. While this doesn't guarantee success by any means, it does prevent that all-or-nothing zeal, that all-in-the-same-boat action that marks out a more exciting challenge. Witness the results of challenge 1, season 1: at the grocery store. Under such conditions, there is no choice but to innovate and everyone has the same challenge. When you have challenges that favor some designers, despite the uncertainty of the outcome, the design process isn't nearly as interesting for me. Essentially, I prefer a challenge that puts everyone on the same page start to finish. Something that is as unexpected in the delivery for everybody as in the conclusion. Cohen's skating garment, the grocery store, the garden store, the muslin challenge, the dog outfit--these are the challenges I truly enjoy, or that I can really get behind in principle.

That being said, Jeffrey clearly deserved to win. While others employed couture techniques, as was the challenge, Jeffrey embodied the concept of couture and took the risk based on that energy. I didn't enjoy his dress as a garment, but I enjoyed it as a couture-esque piece for the runway. This is unlike Vincent's "art" dress from the recycling challenge, which was enjoyable to me as neither couture nor art, and certainly not as a garment. Jeffrey pulled through with this one.
As far as wearable garments, I prefered Uli's, though as we've encountered previously I'm not a big fan of the fabric braids (though I think she pulls them off better than Andrae or Santino did). The color was exquisite and it really fitted my desire to see something new and different from Uli, but that was still Uli.
Has anyone noticed how hypercritical the designers are getting of each other's designs now? And of course, the judges don't always agree. We're really getting down to execution and taste here rather than design itself, which is interesting. I don't really remember that peer critique as much from previous seasons, though maybe it just didn't pique my interest then.

Anyway, I enjoyed this week's episode despite my complaint on principle.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Go Green!

In case you were at all uncertain of just how amazingly awesome Michigan State is: Kermit.

Toothpaste companies make me mad.

I knew I was in trouble when I opened my toothpaste and the colored part was orange.
Aquafresh, you make me sad. I was so happy just using regular whitening aquafresh. Now there are all these boxes I don't recognize, so many varieties that I can't remember what I got before, and I can't find at all my beloved plain whitening toothpaste. I picked a box of extreme clean whitening, which seemed like it would be plainish, except that it was fluoride.
So, once I got over my color shock, I brushed my teeth. To my dismay, it tastes like Listerine. What the heck? I am all about fresh breath, but I gotta say, medicine does not smell very fresh, and that's why I seldom use Listerine.
So now I have an entire tube of toothpaste that I don't enjoy. I'm getting used to it, and I will use the whole tube, but I fear that I will never be able to find the right kind again, and I miss that wintry-fresh feeling of my old toothpaste.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Labor Day Baking Extravaganza

OK, I'm sorry I wimped out on the BBQ this weekend, kids. If you had seen me in my kitchen, you'd know why I never turned up.
Basically, I got up quite late in the morning and within a half hour was wrist deep in French flaky pastry dough, begun when my kitchen was still pretty cool. Over the ensuing ten hours, I baked many, many cookies, including:
  • cream cookies
  • chocolate crinkles
  • chocolate chip
  • shortbread
  • petite palm leaves
  • tartines

It was madness. The French cookies, the last two, took for-evah (this is a day-long agenda full of rolling and refrigerating and other such things), and they actually ended up not being flaky pastry at all. I followed the directions as best as I could, but a: my kitchen got hot, especially with the oven on, which is a big no-no for French pastry, and b: I really am not much yet on the finesse involved in French pastry. I can make a crepe pretty well, or at least I have in the past, good enough for me, but this attempt at French cookies was not even as successful as the ones I made last time, which was using a Betty Crocker recipe for the pastry. This recipe was from a French cookie book I rather enjoy but haven't used much yet because Idon't have some of the ingredients called for. More practice is called for, and perhaps I should purchase some of the ingredients for batter cookies, which is bound to be a more successful endeavor.

I'm not going to say the French cookies were distastrous, because they taste fine. But the tartines ended up being more like pie crust sticks; tasty, but certainly not what I had been aiming for. The palm leaves are probably my least favorite of what I made...again, the taste is ok, but the texture is notably un-French. The other four varieties were easy-breezy by comparison. My favorite cookie that I made? Shortbread. Easiest to make? Shortbread.

Anyway, I was up to my eyeballs in dough and dishwater, respectively, all day. I even wimped out on decoration--the cream cookies are supposed to be frosted and the tartines dipped in chocolate, but I really only frosted a few and then decided I was done. Fortunately, I'd been cleaning as I went all day so the kitchen wasn't a super disaster. Still got some dishes to do.

Friday, September 01, 2006

PR Universe

Okay, so everything's a little better this week. I'm completely done with Jeffrey's attitude, but his outfit was very fitting this week and I don't mind his win too much. Personally, I thought the pants were atrocious, but I liked his shirt and jacket. He seems to be the type of person who (annoyingly) vents psychological frustration by belaboring a deflective point (that is, deflecting from his internal struggle) and making pointless gibes over and over until everyone is sick to death of it; in this case, since he is in the wrong in my view, it is exceptionally irritating. Basically, I'd like to see less of Jeffrey's mouth running in future, in favor of more time spent on the work.
I thought Laura's dress was adorable and also enjoyed Michael's outfit. While I liked Uli's dress, I agreed with Tim Gunn that it is a dress she already does very well, and hasn't shown much variety. She's a litle like Chloe in that she has stayed in her comfort zone a little too long and I can see the judges itching for innovation; I only hope that when she does innovate, it is something that maintains her sense of style and taste.
Does anyone find it odd that Vincent, when faced with dressing himself, said, basically, I like to be comfortable, I like to be simple? Does he imagine that women like anything different? He needs to look at some of the disasters that have emerged from his workspace and apply his own needs to that of his primary audience of consumers. Especially in light of his comments during the everyday woman challenge, I am seeing a serious disparity between what he's created and these ideals he puts forth. As for Kayne, well...he just didn't look comfortable. The outfit was indeed costumey. I'm hoping he turns on the jets pretty quick here.
This episode had the strange distinction of being one for which I knew what the challenge would be before it started. Sometimes you can guess, or find spoilers, but seeing the previews last week, I knew exactly what was coming when I saw them standing on the runway. I'm sure others felt the was an odd sensation, but in a way kept me calm.
Looking forward to more Paris.
P.S. What happened to Michael Kors? It's like he woke up on the witchy side of the bed this week. While well justified in many of his comments, they were delivered with ichor this week. Sassy! Our new judge, Catherine Malandrino can pull this off...not so sure about Kors. He just ends up sounding cranky.