Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pro Run Ep 3: Holla At Cha Boy

Again, I bring news of a trivia victory! Game 1 went to Team "Nobody Puts Brett In a Corner!" But on to more important matters...

A few random thoughts on last night's episode:

* Is anyone else getting sick of Blayne trying to force catchphrases down everyone's throat? First of all Blayne, if you're going to try and teach Tim Gunn to say "Holla at cha boy," you should probably knows what it means, as opposed to your definition of the phrase, which was something like "holla at cha dog." Secondly, I highly doubt that your psychotic "I'm gonna eat you" will have much staying power. Please, God, let Blayne have a tragic tanning accident and have to be sent home.

* Daniel sure seemed sad that Wesley was gone. I guess that explains this.

* I think Keith looks exactly like Kanye West (well, minus the rat tail).

But I digress. The challenge this week allowed the designers, for the first time this season, to have control over their clothing. They took pictures of NYC nightlife (and by nightlife, I mean random pieces of sewage machinery) and based their designs off of the pics. I would like to congratulate Bravo on resisting their natural urge to shove a product placement down out throat (a la Bluefly, Tresemme, L'Oreal, Reeses, etc.). I was sure that Maria Sharapova would show up with her talking dog as the guest judges, but no such luck.

On to the designs:

Keith - instead of making a dress look like it was made out of paper-mache, maybe you should have just made a dress out of paper-mache. Or are Mormons not allowed to work with wet paper?

Blayne - I guess I was wrong - there was a product placement in the episode. Blayne's dress: brought to you by Flintstone's Push-Up Pops!

Joe - my 1st reaction was that you had used a picture of the sex shop for inspiration.

Emily - your departure was foreshadowed when they showed you dismissing Tim Gunn's advice. Dammit Emily, I picked you for the final three (though, last year, I lost my 1st finalist in the 2nd episode, so I guess I'm improving).

Leanne - maybe the most dramatic turnaround in the course of one episode. Those little half-circle thingies on the skirt were cool (marvel at my mastery of fashion lingo) but i'm sure you'll fall back apart soon enough.

Jennifer - every girl needs a dress that they can wear in case they become a museum display.

Jerell - you are flying under the radar, buddy. But based on the facial mask, I predict you'll get jealous of Blayne's camera-hogging, and will soon make a dress so ugly they'll have to focus on you for an episode.

Kelli - is your model Katinka from Zoolander?

Daniel - Congrats! You found Wonka's golden ticket!! and made a dress out of it!!

Kenley - Joe's assessment was spot-on: this dress looks like a Ft. Lauderdale lawn chair. Oh, and the chair apparently has a fat ass.

Suede - I won't respond to this dress until you stop talking in the 3rd person.

Stella - Rock and roll until you die? Then why did you create a Tin Man/stripper outfit?

Korto - the goddess of sleek black jumpsuits!

Terri - those are some loud sleeves. I can't get behind that.

My top three for this challenge:, I thought all the rest kind of sucked

My current top three overall: Kenley, Suede, Terri

The next to go: Jennifer

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What a way to waste a day

It was an odd Sunday.

Things were par for the course - except I decided not to go golfing - until 2pm this preceding Lord's day. Then I broke from my usual mold. I was going to watch the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

I'm not a NASCAR fan. Many of its hallmarks - seemingly orchestrated results, faux fan friendliness, booger-eating morons - don't stoke my heart fire, and neither does the Charlie Daniels Band for that matter. But this was NASCAR's second fiddle (get it, Charlie f*ckin' Daniels Band!) and it's in my backyard, so I have a relative interest albeit based more on geography than, you know, interest.

I told my wife during the prerace festivities that I'd guess I'd have to cheer for Ryan Newman because he's a Boilermaker, or Juan Pablo Montoya because his damn foreignness pisses of most NASCARites. Other than that, I was hoping to let 160 laps of single-file action unfold with something resembling excitement.

I'm not a racing detractor. I love the IRL, and admittedly the recent IRL races - especially MidOhio - were single-file yawn fests. Yet as we all know, the Brickstate 400 presented by Allyard was down-right narcoleptic. Countless cautions and the cyclical ten lap sprints lulled me into not one but two mid-race naps. Didn't matter, I fell asleep with Jimmie Johnson leading and he was still out front when I awoke. The doldrums finally took their toll and I did something drastic; I flipped to Arena Bowl XXII.

Again I'm watching a sport that is similar to one I enjoy. The Philadelphia Fighting Bon Jovis were running headlong into the San Jose extinct predators, kickoffs were bouncing off huge nets, and forward motion was running roughshod over preconceived football ideals. This is the genius of arena football; it's doing its own thing and obviously doing it well considering they've had twenty-two championships.

Then he ruined it. Color commentator Ray Bentley - who should be vehemently petitioning Seth Rogen for a biopic - had to talk up the crazy testosteroneness of the arena game. A San Jose "receiver/ball catcher/secure and advance man" (not sure what they call them in wacky Arenaspeak) took a pass up the sideline, tiptoeing along the padded fence and into the endzone. Bentley dropped his voice a few octaves to point out that in the NFL a receiver in a similar situation could have easily stepped out of bounds to avoid any soul-crushing contact, but not in ARENA BOWL XXII! I LOVE THIS GAME!

Bentley had to drag out the inferiority complex and compare his sport to his former sport as if NFL viewers are tottering on the fence of fandom waiting to be tipped toward the AFL. Have John Madden or Troy Aikman ever solicited a pissing match with Bentley's beloved AFL mid game? I take that back; there's no telling what's spewing out of Madden these days. Boom! Why the comparison, Ray? I thought the beauty of playing on a 50 yard field was that it's everything that wasn't the NFL? Some smaller markets, different rules, and a team called the VooDoo. After twenty-two seasons Bentley still has to remind me why I should eat a bowl of nails for breakfast and roid it up for the AFL. Way to let the product do the talking - because two touchdowns sandwiching an onside kick in 11 waning seconds of the championship game just won't do it.

Oh yeah, the ArenaBowl was won not by the NFL pussy-fest of taking a knee in the vicotry formation. No, in the balls the size of Buicks AFL you sack up and...throw the ball out of bounds three times. "There's a lucky fan!"

As a side note, the Philadelphia victory inspired this video ode featuring those AFL stalwarts Ron Jaworski and Enrique Iglesias. You go, AFL!

God help us. Back to NASCAR.

The .09 Miles of Bricks presented by the Worst Insurer for Consumers did have its moments. The final competition yellow was pretty exhilarating for the pit stop en masse. Imagine you're the gun-man/pneumatic wrench wrangler/vrooo-vrooo-vrooo-vrooo-vrooo guy trying to change two tires in seven seconds knowing that those lugnuts aren't glued on and you'd be lucky to send only one flying 20,000rpm right into Dale Jr.'s eye. Never has $400,000 rested more firmly in the hands of people with job titles like "jack man." That was cool.

But the final laps and the race fallout, were incredibly lame. Thank the Maker I'm not a NASCAR fan because their ownership of this debacle would leave me infuriated...sorry, plum 'furiated.

My experiment in alternative sports was a resounding failure. I should have gone golfing.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bad Idea Show Preview: Lollapalooza at Grant Park

I talked to a few friends yesterday who are attending Lollapalooza next weekend. While mentioning the probability of meeting up with them at some point during the festival, I was reminded why I don't particularly enjoy group outings at events like Lolla. This is an event that thrives due to the eclectic mix of artists. The appeal to the concert-goer is the ability to map out your own path through the weekend, so inevitably, there will be debates within a group on who to see at any given time. This was not an issue at the Pitchfork Festival, as our group was small and largely uniform in our preferred agenda. Not to mention the choices were much easier (i.e. Do we want to watch The Hold Steady rock our collective asses, or watch the guy in !!! imitate Terry from Reno 911?) Plus with only three stages (as opposed to eight at Lolla) and the giant video screen, the number of choices were smaller and it was pretty easy to navigate the terrain quickly. But Grant Park is a sprawling beast, so there is more of a commitment to be made when choosing once band over another. In a situation like this, a group mentality cannot thrive. The more likely scenario should be that I touch base with friends from time to time while executing my own plan. Does this make me selfish or unnecessarily pessimistic of the possibilities that I can work in harmony with my friends over a common itinerary? Perhaps. But to maximize personal enjoyment at an even that, by it's nature is this over the top, sometimes one must be a loner, Dottie. A rebel.

And yet, even when venturing solo, there is an still internal struggle on who to see when. With that in mind, these are some of the tough decisions to be made over the weekend:

FRIDAY: Mates of State vs Grizzly Bear
There are several downsides to massive festivals like Lollapalooza, but bands like these are ultimately what make them worthwhile, because while I like both, I would would probably be on the fence about seeing either a standalone show. They both are masters at the art of pop harmonies.
EXPECTED CHOICE: Grizzly Bear. I'm always skeptical about bands whose albums feature harmonies that dynamic, and their subsequent ability to translate that delivery to the live setting. Fleet Foxes did this with stunning ease at Pitchfork, so I'm hoping Grizzly Bear can bring the goods as well.

FRIDAY: The Raconteurs vs Bloc Party
A classic confrontation here - 2 bands with outstanding debut albums and not as great but still quite good follow-ups. This may be the toughest call of the weekend for me, as I would easily pay to see either band at their own show. Based on live performances that I've seen on TV or online, The Raconteurs seems to have a more energetic stage show, whereas Bloc Party always kinda seems like they're going through the motions - although those motions still move.
This will be a game-time decision, but I'm slightly leaning toward Bloc Party, if for no other reason than to be closer when Radiohead follows them on the same stage afterward.

SATURDAY: Broken Social Scene vs Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco's catalogue would seem to translate well to the summer setting, but hip-hop shows all too often result in guys with mics in front of a turntable, and the presentation rarely adds more than the recorded versions. For whatever reason, I've always had a really tough time getting into Broken Social Scene. I find them interesting more than I actually find them enjoyable; there's just something about them I can't explain that leaves me a bit cold. That said, I've heard raves about their live show, and that chick from the Apple ads is in their band!
EXPECTED CHOICE: Broken Social Scene, to see if they finally make me a believer. Their set at Lolla '06 supposedly stole the weekend, so maybe the stars are aligned for a repeat performance.

SATURDAY: Wilco vs Rage Against the Machine
Oh, Rage...who played the game in the early 90's better than these guys? Their first album was the driving soundtrack to every soccer game I played my sophomore year in high school. I didn't know any 14-year-old boy (myself included) who didn't get a visceral thrill from screaming "Fuck you! I won't do what you tell me!" ad nauseum. Somehow they cloaked their empty lyrics in social consiousness, while never acknowledging that the fans they preaching to were comprised almost entirely of kids who had absolutely no idea who Che Guevara was, and really just liked screaming over and over while Tom Morello ripped shit up. Needless to say, their catalog has not aged well, and they paved the way for Korn and Limp Bizkit, so thanks for that guys! But hey - they've reunited, so I suppose we're expected to give a shit or something.
EXPECTED CHOICE: Wilco, I suppose. I really wish someone else was playing opposite Wilco, because although I love them, I've seen them multiple times in far better settings and would like to see someone new. That said, I can't get into Rage's novelty reunion charade. Somebody take notes and tell me if Zach De La Rocha does anything bold and revolutionary, like criticize the President.

SUNDAY: Black Kids vs School of Rock All-Stars
I really liked the Black Kids first EP, but haven't listened to their new album yet (though the Pitchfork review of said album seemingly made the blogosphere implode.) Those kids do battle with the youngsters from Paul Green's School of Rock who make me insanely jealous. They get to spend their youth learning how to shred through the history of rock from from Radiohead to Journey in front of thousands, while my formative years were spent cranking out the damn theme from "Newhart" at CYO contests. You win, kids.
EXPECTED CHOICE: School of Rock. False advertising alert: everyone in the Black Kids is over the age of 22!

SUNDAY: Nine Inch Nails vs Kanye West
The final slot of the weekend features a heavyweight matchup. The man who begs for every album sale he gets taking on the man who asks people to steal his CDs. Kanye's "Glow in the Dark" tour set-up displays an ambition never before seen from a hip-hop act. He's taking a page from the U2 book of calculated theatrics, and I'm a total sucker because I've fallen into the trap and my curiosity is piqued.

In 1992, I looked at Nine Inch Nails the same way I looked at Rage Against the Machine - interesting soundscapes and heavy lyrics that included swearing. Of course I thought The Offspring had staying power back in those days as well, so perhaps I wasn't the best judge of talent. Reznor's stuff still holds up today though - he's survived the flurry of imitators that flourished in the 1990's, and his current DIY ethic of working without a record label and releasing music through unconventional means has given his music a much needed shot of energy. Based on their tour rehearsal footage, NIN looks ready to slay.

EXPECTED CHOICE: Nine Inch Nails. In a perfect world, I could watch NIN perform, Kanye would pull a Bonnaroo and run late, and I could see both acts. But I don't live in a perfect world. I live in Chicago, where they threaten to open fire if open-air concerts in the city run past 10pm.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Pro Run Ep 2 - Grass Is Always Greener

I'm glad to see that their bitterness in losing Project Runway to Lifetime hasn't caused Bravo to abandon its formula for reality competition shows. Like clockwork, we get the opening scene of "the next morning" and the contestants lamenting the departure of their dear friend who they had known for 20 hours. Alas, the show must go on.

This week, the competition required the designers to use green materials (eco-green, not hue-green). But that aspect seemed to be more about limiting their options than saving the planet. And their clients, the models, really didn't add much to the challenge (isn't that the client nearly every week?). But the designers lost their collective s*** when they were told that the model would do the shopping. This is a prime example of how because I know nothing about fashion and/or design, I didn't really understand what the fuss was about. Luckily, I was watching the show with an fashion designer (yes, I have a tutor this season!), and she assured me that, yes, their lost s*** was indeed warranted. You don't ask the customer (instead of the cook) to buy the ingredients for their meal.

But I digress. On to the designs:

Blayne – A bit too 'Tiffany Mall Tour '87" for me, but a solid, middle of the road effort (this tends you get you fairly far in this game). But a word of warning: stop being to be this year's Christian Soriano. It's almost as annoying as Christian Soriano. Plus, Amy Poehler has that down pat.

Daniel – The whole pockets-in-a-dress thing still sits weird with me. It looks like the girl is thinking "harumph." Still, it could legitimately be worn, so you're in the top half for sure.

Emily – I can’t think of anything to make fun of on this one….i guess that means it’s good.

Jerell – I’ve never seen a hooker from the Ukraine, but I think you just made a Ukranian hooker dress.

Jennifer – The kindergarten teacher strikes again! Orange and silver: you can’t rhyme them with anything, but dammit if they don’t go together well on this dress (morange and bilver?

Joe – Yawn…..oh wait, you put a hole in the middle of it….yawn.

Keith – Did you mean to create the appearance of an ultra-hip diaper by making a floor-length dress, then lifting it all up and safety pinning it? Because that’s what you did.

Kelli – Sorry dude, I’m not down with the asymmetrical blue piece in the middle. Don’t make me compare you to Denise Huxtable.

Kenley – Atta girl. This one doesn’t beat anyone over the head with innovation, but it doesn’t give you anything to critique. Atta girl.

Korto – If you break down because you were in the final three, you have no shot making it through many more rounds. You should study up on the Santino method (be in the bottom three every other episode, but act like your s*** don’t stink, and the producers will demand that you stay) .

Leanne – Yeah, YOU’RE the Denise Huxtable of this group (to my faithful readers, yes. This is the 2nd time I've used this clip. So I'm lazy). Oh, and your model looked like the tin man had been recast as the copper man. Why don't you cry about it.

Stella – I don’t think I’ve ever disagreed with the judges more. When they teased to the commercial break with the judges saying something to the effect of “short, tight, and shiny is the quickest way to looking cheap,” I was sure they were talking about this dress. Apparently Michael Kors and Nina Garcia are working on costuming for the Boogie Nights' sequel...or Dancing with the Stars...or Def Leppard's drummer (too soon?).

Suede – Was your dress deserving of the top three? Definitely. Was it the best one? I’m not so sure. But apparently Natalie Portman had a lot of swing as the guest judge (and with the band Ozma). I will say this: that dress doesn’t look easy to make, and you didn’t bitch as much as most designers do on this show when they make something difficult. That bodes well for you in the rest of the competition.

Terri – I didn’t have to think very hard while looking at this dress….maybe that’s why it was my favorite.

Wesley – You have disgraced the good name of your mentor, Marc Jacobs. He’ll probably relapse to his dorky ways of the past. Or he’ll just spank you.

So, my favorite three designs for this challenge: (1) Terri (2) Kenley (3) Emily

And now….for my selection of who I think will make it to the final three (assuming Bravo doesn’t wuss out as in seasons past and have a final four): Kenley. Suede. Emily.

The next to go: Korto (the goddess of unflattering dresses)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bad Idea Show Review: Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park

Last weekend in Chicago, Union Park held the Pitchfork Music Festival. While we skipped out on Friday night (I have no desire to see Flavor Flav rap – though I can’t stop watching him date skanks), we took in all of Saturday and Sunday. Here’s the rundown:


The hipsters infiltrated Union Park in full force. Here’s a list of the uniform:

- Galoshes – every damn girl in the park sported them.
- Sunglasses – preferably gigantic and neon
- Stupid facial hair – handlebar moustaches, if possible
- Short shorts – men only
- High-waisted pants - girls only
- Tribal tattoo – every white kid

But that’s neither here nor there. I’ll be brief with my rundown of bands. Here’s who I saw and what I thought:


Caribou – more like Cari-BOO!!! Actually, I only caught a couple songs, and while dueling drummers is cool, it wasn’t enough to keep my attention

Fleet Foxes – they’re harmonies were pitch-perfect (probably because the keyboardist habitually held his finger to his left ear…what a douche), and their Shins/My Morning Jacket hybrid seemed to work fairly well. Sadly, they didn’t fulfil my wish of covering “Aimee.”

Vampire Weekend – eh. They were fine. Lacked energy (sort of like this review). Only their last song, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” was pretty sweet, though.

The Hold Steady – they stole the entire weekend. They were clearly having fun on stage, and rocking as well as rolling on a day that lacked much of either. Craig Finn was running around the stage, with what I can only imagine was an internal monolgue of “OH MY GOD OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME OH MY GOD THIS IS SWEEEET!!!!” And come on, that kind of energy is infectious. Watching him perform is sort of like watching Ed Grimley front the E Street Band.

Jarvis Cocker – my only hope was that William Shatner would come out and sing “Common People” with him….that didn’t happen

Animal Collective – they aren’t my cup of tea (music that I can’t tap my foot to annoys me), but the hipsters were having a ball (and by ball, I mean drugs)


The Apples in Stereo – I love this band. And they did nothing more or less than any of their albums. The blazing sun sort of prevented their poppy jams from being too inspiring.

Les Savy Fav - take a fat hairy dude, put him in a one-legged leotard (think Flo Jo), and have him murmur funny little quips between songs, and you’ve got Les Savy Fav (or Zach Ganifianakis).

M. Ward – any show that starts with a whistling old man is destined for greatness. And M. Ward jumped leaps and bounds in my book. 2nd best show of the weekend for me.

Spiritualized – another “most improved” in my book. They had soulful back-up singers, and it was clear that their music is synchronized to “The Wiz.”

Spoon – I won’t go on and on about Spoon here. I’ve already done that. There was nothing different at Pitchfork. There were flying maracas, vocal reverb galore, and the tighest set you’ll ever see.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pro Run Ep 1 (Updated)

Well, kiddos, I have some good news and some bad news:

The good news: Team "$10 Says He Eats It" was victorious at Mass Ave Trivia Night, thanks to our knowledge of songs about the moon and what scatophobics are afraid of.

The bad news: Trivia was rudely scheduled during the premiere of Pro Run (that's right, I've jumped on the abbrev. band wag.), and my videocassette recorder was on the fritz. I was able to catch the 2nd half of the show, so I've seen the designs, but know very little about the designers. I didn't get to see the character establishment sections, the race to materials (I'm assuming they once again started with a race of some type), and the first contestant to start talking smack (based on their pictures, I'm gonna guess ít was Jerell, the former model).

ANYWAY, I'll have to do this blog in a few pieces. First, I'll give my take on the designs themselves. Then, once I'm able to track down the episode online or in reruns (Though Bravo is on a big Shear Genius kick), I'll make my predictions for the season.

In the meantime, my boy Ross sent me a quick observation regarding Wesley:
"Watching Pro-Run tonight and couldn't help noticing that Wesley looks like he's in the Hitler Youth."

OK. I know that the first challenge was to use materials from a grocery store (this was actually the first challenge in Season 1 as well). But I didn't really see what materials they chose. I'm sure that won't stop me from bashing the designs:

Kenley – looks like you might be this year's Kit Pistol (which means I will fall in love with you because you're cute and your clothes are almost weird, but not completely weird)

Terri – When I was 9 years old, I bought a t-shirt in a Myrtle Beach gift shop that was pre-ripped and said "Shark Attack" in fake blood. Apparently, you found that same shirt in the grocery store. Also, I'm amazed they make fruit roll-ups the side of a skirt!

Suede – I guess you don't have to be able to dress yourself in order to dress a model

Emily – I never knew an Easter basket strangling someone could look so chic

Leanne - Did you let cottonball-wielding preschoolers make your dress? If so, they need to be held back.

Jennifer – Spill in Aisle 9. Quick! Have your model roll around on the floor!

Jerell – if the NBC peacock was a drag queen, it’d wear this

Keith – At next year's Indy 500, they'll drop the checkered model

Wesley – A Coldplay song, in fabric form!

Joe – Mismatched patterns: I can't get behind that (and neither can my bleeding retinas).

Korto – Hey, look! A Japanese dumpster diver!

Daniel – I think Joan Cusack wore that dress in TOYS

Blayne – for someone who obviously isn’t into vagina, you sure like to draw attention to it

Jerry – did your model steal plutonium from the Libyans?

Kelli – I'm biased because I don't drink coffee, but this is a prime example of a dress that the judges love and I hate. The lesson: Those judges know nothing about what they've dedicated their lives to. I know everything about something I've dedicated nothing to.

Stella - Hey, look! A Dominatrix dumpster diver!

My favorite three from this challenge: Kenley, Daniel, Keith

My predictions for the season will be added when I get a chance to see the whole episode...