TV

On sunsets, cerebral overload and the restorative qualities of a steady Law & Order drip

me at the ranch Skip vacations at your own peril.

On my way up to mine, I cried no less than five times. I think. Frankly, I was so disgusted with myself, I kind of lost count.

I also spent a good portion of the trip doing 75 - 80mph, having to pee but refusing to stop because I was in a hurry to get to vacation, and worrying about the kettle I was sure I'd left on to burn down my entire apartment complex.

Oh, and there was a lovely phone fight with The BF. Because nothing says "relax and kick back" like some hating on the one you care about most.

When you are a workaholic, meaning, when you "love" your work so much you become addicted to it, it is as hard to let go of the feelings you wrap around yourself to keep it together as it is for some people to knuckle down and get to it, period. Neither is better than the other; like the man said, everything in moderation, moderation inclusive. (Of course, workaholics and our dopplegangers, would they be slackaholics?, latch onto that last bit as our saving grace/"out" clause.)

Fortunately, even assholes like me can have their rough bits worn off by long walks on the rocky coastline and a fine quality sunset cheered on with beer and a burrito. The sweet-funky, '70s love shack I rented comes complete with everything I need to readjust my attitude: wraparound view, high-speed internet and yes, cable TV. PLUS a hideous old recliner from which to watch it.

I have work to do these next few days, work I truly love, elective work I've been itching to get at. And get at it I will, tomorrow morning, with a strong cup of black tea to inspire me (and a killer view of surf crashing on the rocks if that doesn't work.)

But for now, it is me, my Archie Bunker chair and an evening of Sam Waterston et al stretched out before me.

I am so happy in my little self-love shack by the sea I could cry.

Tears of joy, of course...

xxx c

I like to watch too much

gaping maw of farrah When normal people have to do something, they do it.

When type-A people have to do something, they do it...and blog about it.

Introducing My TV-Free Year, a long, long, long overdue effort.

Officially launching on October 23. Countdown already in progress...

xxx c

UPDATE 2/14/16: URL & site content long gone. Excelsior!

"Gaping Maw of Farrah" mashup = farrah_logan (by ambientfusion) + Gaping Maw of Disney (by libraryman), all via Flickr and all released under a Creative Commons by-nc-sa 2.0 license.

Me, as punchline

gross photo The Nightline piece aired last night.

As usual, more TV-hooey, the trumped-up gist of which was that brides today want to be photographed like hoors on their wedding day, probably because, as one photog (not mine) put it, "It's the best they'll ever look in their lives."

Me? I feel the same way about posing in the altogether as I do in a branded piece of clothing: you wanna shoot me like a whore, I wanna get paid like one, brother.

Regardless of how stupid the segment was, it was a nice reminder of what great pictures he took.

Too bad the marriage didn't...

xxx c

Photo in background of me in the hotel bathroom on my wedding day, applying mascara (probably bought specially for the occasion because I didn't own any) by brilliant wedding photographer Steven E. Gross.

My half-assed Oscar blusings*

108005993_6b16540c921.jpg Jon Stewart is God.

Whoever has Lauren Bacall in the death pool is going to cash in soon.

It is just plain cruel to schedule a nominee as a presenter if his nominated category comes before his presentation category.

Especially when there is no alcohol served at the event.

It is just plain stupid to shill for the film industry's output by saying "you just can't watch something like this on TV" and then proceed to do just that.

As much as I hated the big, vomity production numbers, I miss them even more.

Oh, wait, "It's Hard Out There for a Pimp" just came on.

M. Night Shamalamadingdong's AmEx commercial was more compelling than any of his last three movies. And it still had a shitty ending.

Whoever has Dolly Parton in the death pool might cash in pretty soon, too.

Clooney/Obama in 2008.

All the ladies look very chic and subdued.

Even, amazingly, Meryl Streep, who usually looks like she was styled by a gaggle of five-year-old girls playing dressup out of an old trunk in the attic.

Meryl Streep's birth name was Mary Louise.**

If I had any doubts that Philip Seymour Hoffman should win the Best Actor award, hearing that he shot the role in 36 days while producing has forever dispelled them.

If the Oscars moved to a points system whereby the most passionate and interesting nominees got to speak the longest, that director of Tsotsti would have been speaking for an hour and a half.

Having just heard (yawn) Reese Witherspoon give her acceptance speech, I don't think we're in danger of that happening anytime soon.

xxx c

*blusings = blog musings

**UPDATE: this is not technically a blusing, I know. My actual blusing after thinking about exciting, trashy days of Oscars past was 'I miss Cher', however I was so bowled over about Meryl Streep's birth name it knocked all real Oscar blusings out of my head. Also, I have had three scotches. At least.

Photo of setting up the 2006 Oscars by Donna Grayson via Flickr

TV is my friend

I don't have a copy of Harriet the Spy handy, but to wildly paraphrase Ole Golly, TV is the perfect thing to do while you're doing something else. Since the "else" right now is tax prep and other boring-ish stuff, a little crappy TV really hits the spot.

I'm getting a little weary of the actual "American Idol" contestants (yaaaawn) but the freakish antics of Randy, Paula, Simon and teeny-tiny Ryan Seacrest are proving most entertaining. Even more (and definitely more intentionally) hilarious is the blow-by-blow recap on television without pity. As I told The Boyfriend, I don't know whether to kiss or curse you for sending me the link; just see if you can stop reading last week's 20pp treatise. G'wan...first taste is free.

xxx c

P.S. The fiery trainwreck a.k.a. "Chasing Farrah" on tonight (Nick/10PT). I cannot WAIT to do my taxes...

Fat Actress

Proof that hilarity flows from the top down, Fat Actress is loaded with very funny people (Rachael Harris, Mike McDonald, guests like Mark Curry, even Kirstie Alley herself, once upon a time) who manage to be about as funny as the omelette pan soaking in my sink. So what happened?

Hubris + money + a whole lot of people agreeing that the emporer's fanny looks great in those Prada pants = thirty minutes of not just winking at the joke, but pummeling it into unrecognition with the obvious stick. It's the saddest, most desperately unfunny thing it's been my displeasure to watch for some time. I've got a little thing about wasted potential, you see, and this show is throwing it out the window by the bucketful. Sad, sad, sad.

I don't know why Showtime would elect to air the egregious wrong that is Fat Actress for free on Yahoo! TV; it can't possibly be to gain subscribers. Maybe this is all an elaborate set-up to be aired on Punk'd. Oh, wait, wrong network.

Anyway, thanks to Gawker for the heads up and the link.

I think...

xxx c

(Felix and) Oscar

Somewhere back in the 1980's, someone shanghai'd my Oscars® and turned them into a who-cares fest. At least, that's all I can think after (half-)watching 3+ hours of Hollywood crapping all over the Kodak Theater last night. For too long now, the only thing fun about the Academy Awards® has been the parties, and I think that sentiment goes double for those unfortunates sitting captive in the audience. Most of them look like they'd prefer gum surgery over being stuck in a big red candy box watching Josh Groban rip it up with Beyoncé. At least the periodontist offers high-quality intoxicants.

Do yourself a favor and quit trying to be hip. You can't: the hip train has moved on; it no longer stops at network stations. Either move the whole shebang to HBO and let the freaks run the show or go back to the old-school faux glam that you do better than anyone.

But whatever you do, for chrissakes, 86 the "creative" award presentation. The humiliation of receiving an award at one's seat is exceeded only by not receiving one on the stage with the rest of the nominees.

My vote? Pull the plug on the whole free-televised thing, put it back in a big restaurant, serve shitloads of booze and make it a pay-per-view event. The farther Oscar® gets away from his closed, dinner-and-booze-fiesta roots, the more he acts like Felix: precious, overly-organized and about as much fun as watching glittery, registered-trademark paint dry.

xxx c

Alive vs. living

Let me state right up front that I am not anti-television. The fact that I was cable-free for five years post-divorce had more to do with my crack-like addition to television than any moral stance against or disdain for the medium. I just assumed that if more than two and a half channels were viewable on my TV set, I'd do little else save watch it. The good news? I know myself really, really well. The bad news? I know myself really, really well. Of course, I am now justifying my increased television viewing with my newfound desire to transform #1 & #2, the stage play (with music!) that I wrote with my partner, L.A. Jan, into a television series, a desire born out of a dream to tell our truth to the widest possible audience with the greatest possible efficiency. (When you're perpetually zonked by chronic illness, you quickly attune yourself to the fine art of maximizing efficiency.)

Given that dream, logic would dictate that, in addition to re-familiarizing myself with the medium as a consumer, I'd also be angling to learn the business from the inside out: i.e., getting a staff job on an existing television show. Any television show.

Only I'm not. And neither is Jan. And if we were on the fence about it before, which maybe I was, since, let's face it, TV is a really well-paying gig and I really understand the freedom that money provides, all it took was one day in the Quaalude of a sitcom spec-writing class we're taking to convince me that writing on someone else's show is not something I can pursue with the laser-like focus one needs to in order to obtain such a cush gig.

Again, please understand: I am no TV snob. I both love my TV, free, basic and premium, and I fully recognize and honor the very real skills required to write for a pre-existing show. I can even understand how it might be fun...sometimes. After all, in addition to fat residual checks, you're surrounded by smart, funny people all day and usually, there's really good lunch. It's a lot like advertising used to be back in the 1980's, only you're writing the stuff in between the commercials instead of the commercials themselves.

But it's just not me; I was in advertising (which I fell into and then fell asleep in) and that wasn't me, either. Writing copy and shooting commercials, even great copy and terrific commercials, felt like a simulacrum of the life I was supposed to lead, like being alive, versus really living.

If I fell into it, if I was plucked from amongst millions, if the smoked glass window of the limo rolled down and a long, well-manicured finger pointed at me me me to be lifted from obscurity to the high-profile, well-heeled life of a sitcom writer, well, hell, yeah, I'd do it. For a while, anyway. I may be crazy, but I'm not nuts.

But as for what I'll hurl myself into? What I'll go out on a limb for, contort myself for, put away childish things for? I'm afraid that for me, I'm looking at the big, nasty enchilada: my Truth. And it's all, in this case, the creation of my own work, saleable or not, or nothing. You're in or you're out. Live free or die.

Because that soporific sitcom spec-writing class? It now follows hard on the heels of a pilot-writing class, the most kick-ass, off-the-charts-caffeinated class it's been my pleasure to take for a long, long time. Same teacher, same room, totally different vibe. We're a ragtag crew, this small mess of us with dreams of disseminating our dreams, but we are plugged into the juice and we will not take "no" for an answer. And man, oh, man, is that ever exciting to be around.

Will we all make it? Doubtful. Will any of us make it? Hard to say. The odds are certainly against us; each of us, I'm sure, has had no end of helpful advisors telling us that our time would be better spent traversing the traditional routes. But that's not for us: the few...the proud...the insane. Keep your overhead low and your sights sky-high.

I may never again know what it's like to stay in a great hotel or sign a mortgage stub or even order off a menu with impunity. I may be forever relegated to a boho lifestyle of purloined treats consumed off the premises with fellow losers.

But it's okay. Because I've been alive and done those things.

And believe me, living is better...

xxx c

Searches, we get searchesâ„¢: Project Runway edition

searchesThe numbers don't lie. You can write all you want about life, truth and the pursuit of happiness, the peoples, they just wants their "Project Runway":

  1. Project Runway (Yahoo), project runway (MSN), etc. ad nauseum
  2. project runway "vanessa article" (Yahoo),"bravo project runway" vanessa (Google), etc. ad nauseum
  3. kara saun fashion week (MSN)
  4. music on project runway (Yahoo)
  5. banana republic project runway (Yahoo)
  6. "project runway" mario (Yahoo)
  7. rent video of any episode of project runway (Google)
  8. naked project runway (Yahoo)
  9. what time is project runway on tonight (Yahoo)

Okay, so 99% of you don't give a crap about my startling insights into the human condition. I can take a hint. I can go for the quick buck (and I'm absolutely speaking metaphorically, here, this is so not a lucrative venture).

Still, I seek the love like any lost and lonely blogger. Plus, there's that Virgo motto: "To love is to serve."

So here's the quick rundown for you:

  1. Skip the searches, guys and gals. The juiciest, best-written stuff on PR is right on the Bravo website. Select any episode and then go to Tim's Take for Parsons overlord Tim Gunn's super-fab, ultra-bitchy, ever-insightful spin on the events in question. He makes Michael Musto look like a piker. Rock the fuck on, dude.
  2. Here's the 411 on Vanessa: los-ah! She's such a los-ah, she even said so herself! And, as we all saw on the penultimate episode, she's an alcoholic los-ah, to boot! If you are interested in the bisection of los-ahs and alcohol, may I suggest this article on Imposter Syndrome? May I also suggest that if you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you learn to keep your trap shut.
  3. Kara Saun should win "PR". Hell, she's so good she should win "Survivor," "The Bachelorette" and "Last Comic Standing," too. The hell with it. Give her an Oscar, too. Just give her everything.
  4. Dude, who gives a crap about the music on "PR?" That track from the Banana Republic ad is the shit. I might go see Chris Pierce at one of his upcoming L.A. gigs. But the crap they play on the show? Sheesh. You need to get out more and stuff.
  5. Banana Republic sponsors PR. They are the high-end arm of the GAP and Old Navy. So while there's a whole lotta savvy marketing going down, I don't know that they're the last word in fashion.
  6. Mario!? Dude, that's like digging Ringo when you've got John, Paul and George to crush on.
  7. You cannot rent videos of any episode of PR yet, dumbass. They're still airing new episodes.
  8. Frankly, I'm thinking "spin-off." But in case the Bravo brain trust isn't with me on this, I gotcher naked couture here.
  9. Two words: Ya-hoo!

Thanks for reading. See you all on the other side of the "PR" finish line!

xxx c

Project Life, by "Project Runway" Part IV

model-yWe're over the hump on hump day, but those Project Runway/Life Lessons just keep on comin'... Thanks to all my Wednesday-only readers who have found me via Google, Yahoo!, Technorati and MSN searches. Just so you know, what I know about fashion would fit in my bra, which, were it to be used for the odd alternate purpose of stowing nuts for winter, wouldn't hold enough to keep an anorexic squirrel alive for 48 hours after the freeze. (And frankly, given how often I even wear one, I might as well donate it to some alternate cause.)

Lesson 12: Make it Fit!

You think foo-foo is the answer? You obfuscator, you! Don't you know that any fool with a MasterCard and a high-speed connection can pile on the frippery?

Real men, or, in this case, women, cut fierce. And Kara Saun is 100% fierce in the fit department. Hear the praise her exquisitely cut wedding sheath earns from stern Parsons overlord, Tim Gunn:

I feel about Kara Saun's work the same way that I feel about the work of Coco Chanel; that is, when you see it you think, "This is exactly what the fashion world has been waiting for!" You can't predict it. You can't anticipate it. You simply respond to what is.

Lesson 13: Remember Whose Name is on the Label

Okay, show of hands: who blows rent money to buy couture from the House of Hacque?

I thought so. Contradicting one's inner voice is a recipe for one giant cheese ball of confusion. I'd rather be Austin and go down in glorious, chiffon-draped flames than wishy-wash my way out by caving to the whims of a sixteen-year-old girl's idea of fashion. Know what you stand for and then get on your freakin' feet and off your damned can already. Sheesh.

Lesson 14: Sell Yourself!

The meek may inherit the earth, but only after it's been picked clean of anything good by the self-promoters. Don't hide your light under a bushel (ooo...that's TWO biblical references, I love it when TV and god intersect). Be like Austin: throw on a velvet cape, rock those YSL specs and work the room!

And if you're not naturally flamboyant and/or gregarious, fake it ‘til you make it. It's called acting, sugar-face!

Lesson 15: Keep it Original

U gots 2 B U. It's one thing to pay homage (i.e., steal the right way); it's quite another to abdicate originality and play copycat. In addition to being crushingly boring (and unethical, despite Tim's lenient take on the issue), it's a waste of good, old-fashioned DNA. You got your own map for a reason; quit looking over your neighbor's shoulder at hers!

Lesson 16: Lead by Example

This challenge had two designers heading up teams of three where each contributed one “look” to a “collection”. Theme? “For the year 2055.” Source materials? Low-end Village vintage shop. As if.

*****VENOM ALERT: Just so we're all clear on this, I thought everyone sucked ass in this challenge. Imitation of Christ, you ain't; I've seen better deconstructions on Jennifer Beals in Flashdance. END VENOM ALERT.*****

Still, Kevin, Team Leader #1, got the boot because ****SWEARING ALERT**** his design sucked the most ass. If you're in charge, your contribution to the team should suck the least amount of ass. So if you are a boss, please do not suck ass. ****END SWEARING ALERT.****

-----

Okay, my babies. Last PR tonight! Last set of Life Lessons to follow...

xxx c

TAGS: 

Project Life, by "Project Runway" Part III

after fitzhugh In which we continue to draw Life Lessons from this season's surprise source of integral wisdom (and ripping-good reality TV), "Project Runway."

Lesson 10: There's No Room for Drama on a Deadline

In Episode 4, the designers had to go from working solo to a cluster fuck collaborating in teams! Of three designers each. Mon dieu et zut alors!

Team Kevin fell victim to the drama doldrums when a critical pattern piece went missing. Instead of spending valuable time figuring out a solution, they wasted it (apparently, I've still got to catch up) with infighting and hysteria. As Tim so sagely put it, “It was not essential that the pattern piece be found or that retribution be sought for a speculative thief. What was essential is that the design be finished in time for the runway judging.”

What precious commodity, time, energy, effort, are you frittering away on some “missing pattern piece” of your life when you could be getting on with things? Have you not read He's Just Not That Into You? Do you not get that this is not a dress (OMG!!! ROTFLMAO!!!) rehearsal? Lose the hair shirt! Drop the mantle, Drama Queen! Need I spell it out for you? Tick, tick, tick!!!

Lesson 11: Don't Fall on Your Sword!

Poor Vanessa. She learned this lesson the hard way. When the judges asked which member of the team was the weak link, Vanessa brought up her own inferior cutting skills. WTF?!? Don't aspiring couturiers watch "The Apprentice"? Tim knows the score: “Even when up against a wall and caught red-handed with the evidence, don't volunteer to receive the death sentence; you can't go backwards from there. I'm reminded of another Susan Hayward film (am I dating myself?) in which her character is accused of murder and imprisoned. It's called, I Want to Live! That's the spirit.”

Damn straight, it is! Be your own best friend and your bestest publicist! And if you've found yourself on P4 in the underground parking garage of self-esteem, well, then, fake it till you make it, baby! Do you think that if, say, the President of the United States made an egregious error of some sort or another that he'd throw up his hand and cry “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maximum culpa!”?! Do you think he'd even cry at all? 'Nuff said.

***

We're getting down to the wire. Only a few designers and a couple of episodes left. Tonight's VERY SPECIAL PROJECT RUNWAY is a pastiche of interviews with current and former program contestants. But don't call it padding; call it an opportunity to learn! Unless of course, you've got your whole life figured out and everything, Little Miss Buddha!

xxx c

"Medium"

Coming off of a self-imposed, five-year cable hiatus, it figures that my first real Destination TV airs on network. "Medium" (NBC, Mondays 10/9pm) stars Patricia Arquette as Arizona psychic Allison Dubois. Nominally a show about the super-dooper mental powers she employs in the service of various tricky cases for the D.A.'s office (she sees dead people), the real draw here is the juicy-real relationship Allison shares with her husband, Joe (Jake Weber). Yeah, they're both hot (they're TV stars!) and yeah, their exchanges are way better written than the usual i-dotting, t-crossing pap you see on TV (Glenn Gordon Caron of "Moonlighting" fame is at the helm, and his deft ear for dialogue is evident), but oh, oh, the restraint!

Example: upon returning home to find his lovely wife pouring herself yet another fatty vodka or family-sized glass of red (it quiets the voices), instead of a comment, cutting or no, or even a small-but-meaningful glance, we're treated to...nothing. Just the enormity of his pain as he takes in the whole picture and steamrolls over his own impulse to scream or smack her or take her in his arms and shake her before he collapses against her, weeping. Just that, with no fanfare.

Talk about an impulse to weep. I wasn't sure whether to sob with joy or leap to my feet with a "Hallelujah/A-men!" to the heavens and the network heads.

There's also a bunch of stuff in "Medium" about dreams and visions and all the other woo-woo stuff that generally fascinates me in real life, along with some flashy visual F/X-y stuff. But frankly, up against the anomaly of a real, live, everyday relationship on primetime TV, all that sparkly stuff feels...

Well, kinda ordinary.

xxx c

Project Life, by "Project Runway" Part II

plaidWhew! We're really behind on our Project Life/Project Runway Lessons, so I'm going to have to move a little faster to get us caught up. (Don't want to get caught in LIFE with our pants down, HAHAHA!) In Episode 2, the eleven remaining designers (sorry, Daniel, hopefully, you're making the most of your resources back in Hollywood) were each given a big bolt of cotton tubing and told to depict the deadly sin, ENVY, which is the enemy of LOVE. (NOTE: I did not know that last bit but I found it out on the internets, which are excellent for getting truthful information of all kinds).

For instance, another thing I learned is how much fashion design has in common with international diplomacy:

Lesson 4: Step Back and Be Objective

"One of Kara Saun's greatest strengths is her ability to objectify her work; that is, examine it as though someone else created it. This temporary disengagement gives her the ability to diagnose issues and prescribe solutions to her designs; solutions that work. Too frequently, our intentions and our efforts serve to impede our judgment."

—"Tim", from Project Runway

Wow. Condie's pretty lucky she's got a lock on that new gig! Sounds like Kara could give her a run for her money! Plus I bet KS would look better on TV in those foxy outfits. (Note to self: buy embroidery hoops to use as earrings.)

Lesson 5: Challenge Yourself

Okay, this one is easy. All Mario did was take his tubing, pull it over the model's head and make bloody bullet hole thingies to portray the envy because "the fashion industry is cut-throat, so his muse was shot." WTF?!? Lesson by Colleen: Get off your lazy ass. If you cannot get off your lazy ass, you lose.

Lesson 6: Edit

We should have known that Starr had an editing problem. I mean, look at her name: if she took away an "R," then she would be a real "Star" and maybe have a regular TV gig and a big wedding with a bunch of free stuff.

Anyway, Starr's first dress had too many tumors. (Don't ask.) Then she took a bunch off, which is EDITING, and she had...a dress with less tumors. But she lasted another round, which is more than Mario. Everything in moderation, including moderation. Didn't Ben Franklin say that? He was kind of an editor, sort of. You should edit more! More than that! More still!

the other janLesson 7: Be Yourself

Crab, crab, crab. These designers are always crabbing. For instance, Vanessa was crabbing that the challenges were too restrictive, that they didn't let Vanessa shine through. So Tim says: "Ask yourself what it is about your point of view and design philosophy that transcends all forms of presentation. Think: How would Balenciaga have morphed his work so that it would sell on QVC?"

Touché, my little rag trader, touché...

Lesson 8: Listen and Learn

Big fat old Wendy made it to the third challenge by the skin of her pinking shears. But did she act like the LEW-sah she might well have? No, ma'am-a-rama! As Wendy said herself of this opportunity to design "real" clothes, "If I can't design the winning dress for this challenge, then I shouldn't be here. I am Banana Republic!"

Be like Wendy. Take the note. Knock that chip off your shoulder. And when life hands you charmeuse, cut on the bias! (But carefully!)

Lesson 9: Make It Pretty

Poor Starr. As Tim says, "The dress for this challenge looked like a mixture of Poiret, Erte, harlequins, and jesters, worthy inspirations, indeed , but the color relationships, the proportions, the awkward jerking of the fabric as the model walked the runway all screamed "H-E-L-P!!" It was sad. Make it work. Make it pretty."

Bring the Pretty goes hand in hand with Lesson 6, Edit. After all, even the most exquisite Harry Winston jewelry looks likes poopoo if you wear it all at once. Apparently, Starr likes to drag out all the baubles for her weekly shop at the Ralphs. Sorry, Starr. Next time, make it pretty.

xxx c

P.S. Don't forget to watch Episode 8 tonight! The communicatrix is a little caught up in another show right now, but she'll be back on fashion track pretty darned soon!

Project Life, by "Project Runway"

You are a young1, aspiring designer. You have a dream: wealth, fame and the possibility of immortality via your own couture label (plus maybe a low-end spin-off at Target®). When you are given the opportunity to compete for the realization of that dream, you jump on it. Nothing can stop you now! Nothing except...yourself. DUM DUM DUUUUUUM!!! happymodelIs it any wonder that Bravo's Project Runway is a runaway hit? This is no mere reality trifle exploiting the fashion world, this is an illumination of the human condition, of the triumphs we rejoice in and the tribulations we muddle through. Like all great works of art, by focusing intensely on the specific, Project Runway speaks eloquently to the general. And the Lessons of Project Runway are like the Lessons of Life (only more stylish and way funner to watch). Listen to Tim, Project Runway's designer-judge liaison-type person (and resident sage), and learn...

Lesson 1: Make It Work

For the materials with which you will construct your first creation, a fabulous couture dress, you are sent to the store, the grocery store.

cornhusksNo problem, ever-creative, you fabricate an fanciful frock from packing tape and strategically placed corn husks. You are a genius. You run off to attend to some details (how does one accessorize a husk dress? A tortilla tam? A Sno-Caps clutch?) and when you return, sacre bleu! The husks have dried and shrunken, leaving unseemly bald patches all over your glorious creation!

Do you panic? Do you cry out at the unfairness of the universe, rend your flesh, curse your ignorance of husk water retention? Heckers, no! You slap a bunch of husk shards on the blank parts, et voila: you not only save your dress but win your round, and immunity going into the next challenge!

oopsSo the next time tragedy parks itself on your couch with an oversize rolling duffel, remember: if Austin can resuscitate a couture dress under that kind of pressure, you can certainly fix an overly-cumined batch of chili or salvage your crappy relationship.

Better yet, give 'em both the heave-ho and make yourself your fixer-upper. Because let's face it, what are we really trying to fix when we work on our dresses?

That's right, people. That's right...

Lesson 2: Make The Most Of Your Resources

bagpaperDaniel thought he was soooo smart.3 Everyone else was freaking out about how to make a grocery-store dress with only 50 bucks, and he fashions his from butcher paper and a garbage bag. But as Tim says,

For me, that statement was an instant uh-oh,because he wasn't fully utilizing the extent of his resources. It's a bit like saying that you have $500.00 to spend on an outfit at Banana Republic and you come away from it wearing a pair of [Banana Republic] boxer shorts and a [Banana Republic] scarf why? [NOTE: This comment, like Project Runway, brought to you by Banana Republic.]

If life gives you the equivalent of a $500 shopping spree, don't “chintz” out (LOL!!! ROTFLMAO!!!) at skivvies and a scarf. Unless, like, the undies are Hanro and the scarf is Hermes or something.

But seriously, use all the brains, beauty and talent you were born with4. To do anything less isn't humility, it's insulting. I mean, you don't see Paris letting the moss grow under her feet, do you? Ha. I think I've made my point.

Lesson 3: Candy, Not So Dandy

Whew! There are a lot of lessons packed into this episode! (Kinda like...life!)

candymodelWendy crafted her creation out of candy, which the twin terrors of body heat and runway lights almost melted into, as Tim sez, (a) design too revealing even for cable TV! Yikes!

"Where is the life lesson in a melted candy dress?" I'll bet you're asking. Well, I'll tell you, smarty-pants: Choose the people surrounding you not for their sparkly appeal, but for their ability to make it through the long haul...and for their sparkly appeal.

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Wow! That was hard and took a long time, too. I guess I'll come back later with more lessons. In the meantime, make sure you watch Project Runway tonight, Wednesday, on Bravo. Back-to-back episodes at 8pm/9pm! First, they each make a swimsuit. Then they make something else, I think together. Oh, bother. I'm too tired to watch the video clip and report back to you. My advice to you is look it up yourself.

Hey! I like giving advice, too! Maybe I should create a reality show where the contestants are all aspiring to be the advice people on reality shows!

xxx c

skinny1My bad! Not all of the Project Runway contestants are young. Project Runway prides itself on its diversity. For example, Kara Saun is black!* And Austin is gay! And Wendy, the old one, is also kind of fat! I heart diversity! And Project Runway, too!

2Sorry, I don't know his last name. I am new to the show since I am a dork who doesn't watch enough TV. Actually, I watch a lot of TV, but mostly reruns of Law & Order (comforting), King of the Hill (hilarious and comforting) and Judge Judy (disturbing but oddly comforting, and often hilarious). I will try to watch more TV in the future. But all the lesson titles are actually by TIM, called "Tim's Takes." Don't believe me? Go look it up!

3Only I guess he wasn't, 'cause he's not on the show anymore!

4And your trust fund, too, if you were born with one of those. Only don't spend it like a jackass. And tithe. Everyone should tithe. Maybe if you're rich, even double/triple/quadruple tithe. Oprah tithes, and she has lots of really nice clothes and shoes and stuff. But she is also nice, and changes the world for good. So I guess, if you're rich, call Oprah and ask her about the tithing thing. If you're that rich, you probably have her number or something anyway.

*And she is so the best one! I hope she wins. Hey! I just realized this is, like, a footnote in a footnote.**

**Wait, this is one, too! Cool!!

Roman, er, American Idol

Well, I successfully avoided it for three entire seasons, but last night I happened to have my tuner card on Fox and I got sucked in by the machine. This year, we travel to the lovely coliseum in our nation's capitol. The lion lineup included such discerning tastemakers as That Former Laker Girl, That Mean British Guy, a surprisingly kind and lucid Jackson family member and, as a guest snacker, some hot dude from a band. And, as usual, you (and now I), gentle readers, are playing the role of The Bloodthirsty Mob in this year's meat circus.

As Andy Dehnart says in this mornings MSNBC recap, it's difficult to tell whether most of what we're seeing is a glorious put-on by some very clever moles or the sad, tatty dreams of some very delusional individuals. I'm praying for the former, but as a fellow human being (at least, I think we're all fellow human beings), I thought it might my duty to offer up a few helpful observations for those seriously contemplating joining in the next round of this madness. After all, being Kelly Clarkson, while not my particular cup o' java, is apparently a mighty big carrot at the end of this particular stick.

THINGS TO THINK ABOUT AND/OR DO BEFORE DECIDING TO AUDITION FOR THE NEXT ROUND OF AMERICAN IDOL

  1. Busk at a busy city street corner for at least four hours. If you make less than one dollar per hour, rethink your plans.
  2. If anyone pays you to stop singing, cancel them immediately.
  3. If you are thinking of breaking out of the facility in which you are currently institutionalized in order to attend the audition, don't.
  4. If you are auditioning because a member of your family is an amazing, famous pop singer, remember, Bill Clinton has a brother, too.
  5. If you are auditioning because the people around you will not shut up about how you totally sound just as good as Cristina Aguilara, remember, it doesn't count if they're sleeping with you.
  6. Or drunk.
  7. Or if any of them are Jesus.
  8. If, however, you are auditioning because you think you might be the next William Hung, remember, there was no Son of Pet Rock.
  9. When selecting your audition piece, pick one key and really commit to it.
  10. Yes, all the way through.
  11. Also, try to avoid anything that is an automatic punch line for the judges, such as “Beat It,” “I Can't Live Without You” or anything by the Spice Girls.
  12. Also-also, if you are a generously proportioned male who has reached your majority, it is almost certainly a bad idea to select material written for a 10-year old girl, no matter how much you identify with her.
  13. Please remember that we cannot in fact hear the CD you've been singing along to while you practice, nor the voices in your head singing back up, and choose your vocal arrangement accordingly.
  14. When putting together your ensemble, remember, those white jeans aren't going to make you look any thinner on camera than they do in that mirror.
  15. Check for camel-toe.
  16. In a well-lit room.
  17. Check again.
  18. If at the outset you perceive your career options as Pop Superstar or Cosmetologist, go with Cosmetologist.
  19. If, however, your idea of a smokin'-hot outfit is a rugby shirt and white jeans barely able to accommodate a Carl's Jr. receipt, think very seriously about a third option, like plant care, or lithium.
  20. If you are given the boot, for the love of God, remember that tape is forever.

xxx c

Wave bye-bye, honey!

Seems ABC has elected not to play host to the Miss America Pageant anymore. I'm not surprised. As a brand, "Miss America" has utterly failed to keep pace with the times. In his TVWatch column for MediaPost, Wayne Friedman wisely sums it up:

Broadcasting & Cable (B&C) needed nearly 2,000 words to explain why "Miss America" failed. I'll explain it in five: The show is not entertaining.

Unbelievably, the producers of "Miss America" are blaming their crappy, declining numbers on a bad time period and "no marketing support." But we know the real answer: "Miss America", a forerunner, in a way, of today's reality TV, just can't cut it in an "America's Next Top Model" universe:

Good reality TV has the right mix of drama and beauty - not someone of modest talent and beauty. The talent portions of "Miss America" don't work. "The Flight of the Bumble Bee" on a tuba in a bikini isn't enough in a racy Maxim-crazed, "Desperate Housewives"-lurking TV viewing public. (Though, MTV's "Punk'd" might consider a short pitch).

I guess some people, like the one I lifted my ticket JPEG from, will be disappointed. But the rest of us, if the numbers don't lie, are going to be just as happy to see this Miss go the way of the restrictive foundation garment.

xxx c

ComforTV

I love TV like I love an ever-evolving list of items (peppermint tea, salted cashews and heavy blankets) that make me feel safe and comforted. Perhaps as I grow more adept at comforting myself in other ways (meditation? yoga? naps?), TV will lose its luster as my psychic pacifier, but for now, I've got it on a goodly chunk of the day, Judge Judy, King of the Hill, The Simpsons. And now, Monk.

This tidy little detective series has all of the elements that make a TV show comforting to me, predictible outcome, earnest characters, great theme music, and lots and lots of episodes. While I still love previous comfort shows, Dragnet, Mary Tyler Moore, Columbo, The Brady Bunch, I make it a policy to rotate my TV crack to avoid comfort show burnout.

Of course, I allow myself the occasional comfort binge, too. Every once in a blue Monday I'll indulge in an L&O jag and in my first cable days, I'd hunker down for a Labor Day switch-a-thon between Jerry Lewis and The Twilight Zone. New Year's Day is a notorious putter & butterâ„¢ day for me, one of the few times a year when I'll allow myself unfettered, guilt-free indulgence in whatever makes me happy that doesn't harm anyone else.

I must not be the only one who finds comfort in immersion; the episode that just ended (which, coincidentally, features two fine actors with whom I've worked in the past, Patrick Breen and the magnificent Jane Lynch) is part of a 24-hour Monk marathon on USA Network. So all the other addicts and I can watch crazy Adrian Monk set the world to rights in 60-minute increments and not do anything else. Except maybe move the party to the bedroom.

Lots of heavy blankets in the bedroom.

Happy New Year!

xxx c