Thursday, November 29, 2007

"None of us really know who he is"

That clip will be explained later.

This week’s episode made me question the talent of not only every designer on this season, but every previous season (and really, fashion designers in general). As a clueless critic of the field, I at least viewed fashion designers as a unique combination of high creativity and excellent skill. They could envision a dramatic piece of clothing, but also make it. Some can think but not make [see Sweet P’s critique below], and some can make but not think [see Jack’s critique]. Most people can do neither.

So when Project Runway decided to do their 1st all-male clothing competition, and all of the contestants lost their shit, I started to question the skill necessary to make women’s clothing. If men’s clothing is so difficult, then is women’s clothing that easy. Probably not. Again, I’m a clueless critic of this field. But ignorance is bliss when it comes to Bravo reality television.

Oh, the other odd aspect of last night’s show was Tiki Barber. It was great to see the sheer disappointment and confusion on the contestants face when they saw the guest judge. Tim Gunn wanted to throw them a curveball, and apparently the reciprocal of an iconic well-known ugly white woman is an average unknown (at least in the eyes of 7 women and 6 gay guys) handsome (at least in the eyes of 7 women and 6 gay guys) black man.

Ok. The rundown (from my worst to my first):

Carmen – You didn’t make a shirt. And you tried to hide that fact by following the Rami “Drape Any Damn Thing” method. It’s sad to see you go, because you seem to be the only person that had potential to be the overly and unjustified confident designer that became hated by all. Oh well. And as robotic as Tiki Barber’s wife was, it was awesome when she pointed out you were making a Members Only jacket. Oh, and your hair was ridiculous, so I’m fine with you leaving.

Ricky – I was close. You were almost gone. I still think that you pinning sheets of cloth into a shape that vaguely resembles a suit is even worse that Carmen not making a shirt, but what do I know. I’m no Niiiiina Garciiiiiiia.

Sweet P – You are a perfect example of how this show values creativity over function. Your outfit looked like that episode of The Cosby Show when Denise made for Theo when he couldn’t afford a designer shirt (seen in the clip that started this blog…skip to the 1:00 mark to see the shirt). And yet, you’re still here. But seriously, you can’t make a shirt? You’ve never made a shirt? For shame!

Elisa – Hey look! You made Robin Hood a new outfit. And all without seeing your model’s thighs. But hey, I love that you’ve decided that your boyfriend is “the only male I choose to touch.” But what happens when Tim Gunn tells you to clean up your space in a few weeks and goes for the double-cheek kiss? Maybe you’ll spit on him.

Jillian – I think Dirk Diggler wears that suit in the final scene of Boogie Nights.

Chris – You would have dominated the stylish valet uniform contest. If that’s what this was. But it wasn’t. Boo. Hiss.

Rami – Yawn. That’s what I wear to work everyday. And let me tell you, it does not impress (at least, it doesn’t impress a bunch of 16-year-olds).

Steven – If you keep this up, you’ll become the most boring designer in show history. Michael Kors will probably hire you.

Victorya – As much as I love oversized white blazers, I can’t get behind your design. But at least you finished it. That’s more than most can say.

Jack – You won for a very simple reason. This was the only outfit Tiki Barber could wear in the real world. Everyone else swung for the fences and whiffed or created something for the world of runway. You made something Tiki Barker could wear on television. Congrats on having the least creative or demanding win in show history.

Kevin – Even though you were the only contestant not genetically oriented to salivate over the male models, you were distracted just enough to forget the fact that Tiki has to wear this on television. No goon is going to go on the Today Show with an untucked shirt. Keep your eye on the ball, man.

Christian – Apparently you’re a sewing machine (figurative, not literal…this isn’t Beauty and the Beast), and so you freaked out the least and make the most. But like most of the other contestants you forgot that this was for Tiki Barber. And he was going to wear it on television. But, it was made well, so despite my wishes, you move up in the power rankings. But I still hate you. You’re a 15-year-old girl who thinks she’s the shit.

Kit – Kit, my dear, you used the word “rad” ironically and sarcastically, so you’ve captured my heart. You fix those hideous bangs, and I’m yours. And even though I thought your outfit looked like something a middle-aged father who just bought his first boat would wear on his maiden voyage, I was rooting for you. You at least kept the purpose of the outfit in mind, unlike most other contestants.

My current top Three: Kevin, Victorya, and Kit

The next to go: Ricky (please, take him (and me) out of his (and my) misery)

Friday, November 23, 2007

"It's kinda like a spit mark, only better."

I must preface my thoughts on episode two with an apology to my roommate.

I am sorry that I told you Bon Jovi was the guest host. That was false. Turns out the host was that chick from Square Pegs. You know, the one who married the murderer.

You see, I am not the type of person who avoids spoilers. In fact, I usually hunt them down. Tell me Bruce Willis is a ghost the whole time. Tell me that JD and Elliott will end up together. Tell me that Heidi totally takes Spencer back. And totally spread that rumor about LC. And totally doesn't even have a job. It won’t ruin my viewing experience. However, my roommate hates spoilers. So I usually taunt her with the inside info I’ve attained, courtesy of my blogged sources. Well, thanks to idolator, I spent the hour leading up to tonight’s episode bitching about how Project Runway would be carting out Bon Jovi as their “biggest guest judge ever.” Bitching about how if it were a reality show about shitty rock stars adequately running an arena league football team, he’d be more than qualified to judge. And then, Sarah Jessica Parker walked out.

And even though I have my problems with Sarah Jessica Parker (I find her to be the ugliest woman on the planet, and yet most girls I know have tremendous girl crushes on her. I suspect a large conspiracy, aimed at brainwashing everyone to think that Rusty from Footloose is the definition of beautiful. And if that’s true, then by comparison, most other women would be MORE beautiful than one of the biggest stars in the world), I was glad to not spend the evening watching the contestants create dock-work outfits for Johnny.

But I parenthetically digress.

Here’s my breakdown of the 7 pairs from ep2, from worst to first:

Marion and Steven - Alright. So I went out on a limb last week and said you, Marion would get to the final three. I should have known that if you can’t make eye contact with the camera (or people), you aren’t long for the reality tv world. And Steven, you're bugging me because you talk like a 30-year-old gay and not creepy version of Vincent Price (or was Vincent Price already gay?). But apparently your plan to was to take Sweet P’s potato sack from last week, run it through a french fry cutter, and cut some arm holes. Farewell, sweet Marion.

Christian and Carmen – I’m glad to see Flock of Seagulls reunite. And Carmen, I’m glad you did the recess-kickball-team-picking “yes” clench when you got picked second to last (but not last, that would have been embarrassing). Christian, you're apparently a fan of making ugly jackets. And Michael Kors stole all my 80’s pop culture references (“Addicted to Love” and “The Facts of Life”) related to this outfit.

Elisa and Sweet P- I’m sorry, a cape? I’m sorry, spit marking? I’m sorry, polymorphic? I’m sorry, the same bright blue color that Elisa used last week? But I will say that, Sweet P, I thought you would be the crazy old cat lady of this season. But next to Spit Mark McGee, you're the voice of reason.

Kit and Chris – Kit, if you play your cards right, you could become a new favorite of mine, or at the very least, my new crush. But picking the costumer as your partner meant an outfit that was literally a costume. Pepe Le Pu’s girlfriend walking down the runway. Get that beret out of here. And, I will never, NEVER think that black and brown combo is a good idea.

Rami and Jillian- Eh. That’s what I say to you two. Eh.

Victorya and Kevin – What the hell is going on with these poncho dresses? Rami and Jillian had one. Elisa and Sweet P had one. And you two put a vest on top of yours (which apparently had some awesome back to it. **edit**I've just been told, it's called a racer back. I was also just told I lost a dollar). But I will say this: You two are showing the simplicity, execution, and host-pleasing qualities that scream final three.

Ricky and Jack- Have I mentioned that I know very little about clothing, fashion, and women's taste in either. Ricky, I picked you to go home, and you designed my favorite dress of the night. It was nothing fancy by any means. In fact, it was probably the most boring. But at least I knew what it was. Now, don't get too excited, Ricky. You're not completely off the hook. The Ricky cry count stands at 3, and the Ricky dumb hat count stands at 4.

My current top three: Victorya, Kevin, Rami

The next to go: Ricky (based on the teaser for next week, and the fact that he’s probably running out of hats)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bob Knight: Molding America's M*therf*cking Youth

I know I've devoted some time in the past detailing former Indiana University basketball coach Bob Knight's stranglehold on the collective basketball unconscious in my home state. But at a recent dinner, I was told a story that has thus far taken the cake in the land of Bob Knight's legendary Knightness.

A friend of my wife's, we'll call him Glenn (not his real name) was a bit of a baller in the late 70's, early 80's. Glenn was also a Purdue fan that knew if he wanted to go to the best basketball camp available to 13-year-olds in 1978 he'd have to head to Bloomington to refine his skills. This guy still wore Purdue t-shirts at the camp and felt an accute stigma for his choice of apparel, but otherwise was an active member at the weeklong camp and roomed with three like-minded adolescents.

One of Glenn's roommates, we'll call him Sally, took on the role of pariah, and was the butt of a practical joke executed by Glenn and two other roommates involving hair, wet from an afternoon shower, and baby powder on a pillow. Pretty harmless, and really, not too imaginative.

Poor Sally took great offense to this slight and took his displeasure to one of the coach/counselors who happened to be his regular coach or dad (I can't remember which). Late that evening at a regular day ending convocation of campers - the kind where mail and notes from home were passed out - Glenn and his two co-conspirators were told in front of the entire camp that they were to report to office number such and such immediately.

Upon reaching the door of the office, Glenn knocked and said he heard a very familiar voice calmly call them in with a smooth, "Come on in, boys." In this office were three cafeteria chairs facing three similar chairs filled with IU coach Bob Knight, and two assistants, one of which was a former player from the undefeated 1976 IU national championship team.

Glenn described the next forty-five minutes as being reminiscent of An Officer and a Gentleman with the cliched drill sergeant, nose to nose, barking delivery. Only this time it was Knight and compatriots playing the Lou Gossett, Jr. role. Glenn and friends were treated to an in your face, swearing-filled, "Who the fuck do you think you are," reaming where the adults were trying to get these three 13-year-olds to turn against each other and label one the ringleader. Somehow (Glenn thinks it was the shared guilt) none of the boys turned on the others, and eventually Knight sent them back to their rooms.

As Glenn was exiting the room, Knight calls out his name and asks, "What does the number 317 - XXX - XXXX mean to you?" Knight was reading from Glenn's personal information, and Glenn responded, "That's my home phone number sir."

Knight went on, "Would your father like to receive a call at about 2:30 this morning telling him to drive down here from Indianapolis and pick your ass up?"

Glenn continued his kowtowing and answered Knight's final volley of questions. Once Glenn was finally dismissed and moving out of the office, Knight took the opportunity to fire one last shot at a 13-year-old kid and sent Glenn packing with the oh so subtle, "Sweet dreams, motherfucker."

* * *

I coach a basketball team filled with 13-year-olds but have yet to call one of them a motherfucker. Maybe it's just my style. But when I was at our league-wide coaches meeting last week there was the requisite middle-aged guy wearing a Texas Tech pullover in Indianapolis, ready to take his B team storming through the season.

Maybe it was Sally.

If you're wondering, Knight still puts on camps each year.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

“Her model looks like she’s pooing fabric.”

Not since Santino’s spot-on impression of Tim Gunn and Andre on a romantic date at Red Lobster had I laughed so hard. Unfortunately, for the rest of the night, I felt like Bravo was pooing poo.

Season Four of “Project Runway” (“Project Guiltiest of Pleasures”) premiered last night. I’ve never quite understood my own fascination with this show, though I suspect it’s merely a mathematic formula, that Bravo has mastered, of using dramatic music and editing to disable the viewer’s ability to change the channel (that’s probably why I’ll watch any Bravo career competition or documentary series. I have no interest in OCD gay guys flipping houses or the daily escapades of the wives of retired baseball players…and yet I watch).

But I digress.

Season Four’s beginning was the epitome of anticlimactic. The joy of meeting new contestants was shattered when it was clear that a) most of these designers already have jobs with prominent labels (or their own) and b) they all seem to be weaker version of designers from previous systems (more on that later). Bravo has always been great at pigeon-holing a real person into a stereotype, and I’ve always wanted them to remix a season of Runway so that Wendy Pepper becomes to constantly cheery contestant or Daniel Vosovic became the queen. Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum were introduced by merely wandering into the shot at Bryant Park. The always difficult and self-sacrificing first challenge was…..access to $50,000 worth of fabric. But hey, they made the fat guy run, so there was that.

Anyway, I’ve decided to subject the readers of BIBJ to a weekly blog, perhaps a power ranking system of sorts. Admit it, you’re sick of reading about indie rock and Joe Tiller.

Here’s my take/predictions/assessment of the contestants after week 1:

Simone – You didn’t make it past the 1st episode. Apparently yellow, off-white, and can’t sew is a bad combination.

Rami – You’re obviously the favorite to win, but it sounds like that’s just a matter of you already having more success than any winner of this show has already had. I suppose that’s why the judges gushed at that gray toga you made. I’m hoping you realize the show will actually hurt your career, and quit.

Elisa – You’re the crazy one this year. The one who will take advice on clothing design from mother earth instead of mother Nina Garcia. That’ll keep you around for 2 episodes or so. At least until the first group design project.

Victorya – The only season I hesitate to name you my favorite to win it all is the fact that Chloe Dao already won. And I know, you’re Korean, and she’s…well…I’m not sure, but she’s probably not. Anyway, Bravo likes to mix up the demographic of their winners, so you’re likely to become the Uli of this year (the one-note designer who never makes a mistake, but doesn’t have the gusto to win it all). Plus, your dress had a metallic flower. Please.

Ricky – Fredrick’s of Hollywood, here you come! You’re probably gone next.

Sweet P – You’re name is Sweet P. You dressed your model in a potato sack. Get out of here with that noise.

Carmen – I like outfits that look like a superhero version of Jasmine from Aladdin as much as the next guy (which is not at all), but you’re going to get the “there’s too much going on with this outfit” talk around episode 6.

Steven – The polite gay guy never lasts. Especially when he makes a boring power suit.

Kit – Your “Mark Twain” is Kit Pistol. And as cool as that is, and as young and blond as you are, you’ll only last about half of the season. But I’m sure you’ll still flash the rawk sign upon your departure.

Marion – You dress like Oliver Twist. You got no air time on the first episode. And yet, your dress wasn’t terrible. I hereby declare you my dark horse pick!

Chris – As my friend Andy said, you are Ricky Gervais if he let himself go (three times). They made you run, and you’re a costume designer. You’re first dress looked like a curtain on the set of Long Day’s Journey Into Night. You’re gone by episode 4.

Kevin – Your facial hair sure is creative. And the dress was too, I suppose (keeping in mind I know nothing about this). You’re probably in the final four (as long as you can handle the other freakazoids.

Christian – Speaking of freakazoids, it’s abundantly clear that you will be the villain of this season, which guarantees you at least final five status. Your hair is ridiculous. And so are you. And I still can’t figure out why the judges loved your design. It looked like Lucy from Peanuts made a dress out of a Thanksgiving tablecloth.

Jack – I think you meant to try out for that Workout show with the lesbian. And your dress looks like a shower curtain that Target designs for college kids. But you’ll be around for the elite 8.

Jillian – Your pin-up outfit suggests that you’ll be more interested in your own appearance than your model. And the clips as suggesting that you’ll be a bitch, so you might have some staying power. But I’m always weary of backing the candidate that chooses Flintstone Push-Up orange as a dress color.


My final three as of now: Rami, Marion, Victorya

The next to go: Ricky

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One Blazing Moment

There is no greater three to four minutes in my year than the montage of One Shining Moment. It's fair to say that no matter what team wins the 64-game romp that is the NCAA tournament - God willing in my lifetime it'll be Purdue - I'm going to be knocking down orphans and nuns to make sure I'm able to watch those beautiful clips.

One could imagine my glee when the NCAA moved their offices to my home town of Indianapolis and installed a permanent exhibit in their Hall of Champions dedicated to One Shining Moment. If you're ever trapsing along the downtown canal within the confines of White River State Park, you too can stop by the television kiosk playing all One Shining Moments on a continuous loop...well you could until the damn thing caught fire.

Turns out an electrical snafu led to a serious fire at the NCAA Hall of Champions today and the subsequent fire fighting inundated the exhibits and caused "extensive damage."

I'm not one to jump the proverbial gun, but something tells me the gods have cried "havoc" and let slip the dogs of discord in the the college basketball universe. Take a look at the evidence
  • Kentucky falls to Gardner-Webb
  • Mercer knocks off USC
  • Michigan St. loses to Grand Valley State
  • Columbia gives Ohio State a run for their money in the Columbus hosted first round of the NIT
  • My 85-year-old grandfather had to sign up for Direct TV in order to circumvent the cumbersome cable powers that be and finally have the phantom Big Ten Network and the majority of its conference games piped into his house.
  • The NCAA Hall of Champions suffers a devastating fire at the hands of Teddy Pendergrass

These may not be sure signs of the apocolypse but they do put the avid college basketball fan on guard.

Wait a minute.

Lots of early upsets. Dramatic finishes and close calls. These are the hallmarks of my favorite time of year...but it's only November. Oh dear Lord, if this be thy way, let me and my Purdue Boilermakers abide in your graces and somehow garner a 3 or 4 seed. Thy will be done.


Thursday, November 01, 2007


My mission for Halloween 2007 was simple. Since I've moved to Chicago and learned to cope with the rigors of waking up in the morning consistently for the first time in six months, I've been playing things close to the vest. I've yet to go to work with a hangover, and more often than not I've been getting an appropriate amount of sleep each night. Clearly, this had to stop, and what night was better for ending this trend than this? With that in mind, I headed to the Metro for what turned out to be an ass-kicking show from Art Brut and The Hold Steady. Both bands brought it hard in the costume department, although Elvis jumpsuits are not always flattering. The Hold Steady also announced that the show was being recorded for a live album/DVD, which should be outstanding as the show was epic.

As I was walking to the Metro, I thought I would swing by and check out the big gay Halloween parade careening up Halsted. This year marked the 11th annual North Halsted Parade, and I applaud any event that combines a costume contest for children with the shenanigans of Boystown. Where else can you combine the cuteness of this......with the subtlety of this...
In case you're wondering, the collective pictured above dubbed themselves "The Cockettes." They were pretty tame compared with some of the more adventurous parade-goers.

But try as they might, Santa's not so little helpers did not win me over for best costume of the evening. That honor belonged to another attendee. I don't think I've ever been jealous of a kindergarten-aged lad, let alone jealous of their wardrobe, but I was in complete and unadulterated envy of this tyke's get up:
What kid this age has any basis to know who Conan O'Brien even is? I guarantee when I was his age I wasn't begging my mom to let me dress up as Tom Snyder for trick-or-treating. Kudos to you kid. You've set the bar high for Halloween 2008. Hope you weren't planning on dressing as a Cockette. That costume is taken.