29 September 2007

burden of (non) representation

I'm well into season two of QUEER AS FOLK, after watching the first season in a headache-inducing two days. I have to say I was kind of bored/unhappy with large parts of season one: Dr David was boring and annoying (I've known too many guys like him to really warm up to him on tv). The dear boys spent way too much time at babylon. Mel and Lindsey got on my nerves, as they do EVERY EPISODE!

i'm learning to appreciate the Brian Kinney character, and more importantly, learning to crush hard on Gale Harold, who played Brian.

And Emmett. My darling honeylove Emmett! I don't get why they play him as someone who has a hard time getting laid. I think he's freaking hot as hell. Emmett Honeycutt is almost my perfect man (aside from the gay thing). I even had a dream in which Emmett and I hooked up. Turns out in dreams, gay/straight don't count for ANYTHING! and the dream-Emmett was delighted to learn that a straight girl could be turned on by queeny effeminate behaviors.

I love Sharon Gless; I love Debbie and Vic. Debbie feels really familiar to me; she's the most Pittsburgh thing about that show. and I love her throaty hoarse voice!

but the more i watch, the more i think: debbie is the only straight person in the show. and she, as michael says, is "more of a fag than we are."

it makes me feel sad and left out, which is fine, since gays and everyone else who isn't a white person feel sad and left out from most tv. sometimes it's good to be in the minority. it helps reconfirm that I am, in fact, part of the majority. i am a woman, which gets me some bonus points, but a straight white woman still has it better than any color and any queer (except maybe some white gay men).

but what makes me saddest is the anti-hetero attitudes of the show's characters. i know we, the audience, aren't supposed to agree with Brian Kinney's "two kinds of straight people: the ones who hate you to your face, and the ones who hate you behind your back." but there isn't much countering it.

there doesn't need to be. there doesn't have to be. it just makes me feel bad that - well, i LIKE gay people. i haven't had a gay friend since college, but all the queers I've ever known in any capacity I've liked (wait no: there's this one bitch in my department, but he's the exception). i'm interested in queer culture, whatever that even means. it's part of what i work on professionally. it's part of what i enjoy personally (witness: queer as folk, and the nonstop stream of Gay Disco Hits in my iPod). i've always liked gays and gayness and gay stuff.
i just wish i felt like they'd like me.

i keep wanting to volunteer through the GLBT organization in town. but i'm afraid if i call, or show up at their center, they'll be like "honey, you're too straight to be here. go home."
and really - do i belong there? I'm especially interested in GLBT kids - teenagers, especially. i'd love to volunteer with high school outreach stuff. but - how can I help a queer kid?

i know i stereotype the gay community when i rave about it - i know a lot of gay people are just boring assholes. i know this because a lot of the human population is boring assholes. but in the last year, I've felt more interested, more engaged by, more comfortable with queer culture than ever before.

ah well. for the moment, i suppose my interaction with queer communities will have to be limited to places like the GayBoys' blog. and watching more and more episodes of Queer as Folk.

18 September 2007

queer as folk

I stumbled upon Queer as Folk a month or so ago, on late-night logo tv. I'd never seen the show, since cable only happened to me in the last year. But I watched an episode, and liked it, plus I was tickled pink that it's set in Pittsburgh (fyi: the queer as folk pittsburgh is not much like the real place. brian's loft, the industrial settings - yes. Debbie - HELLS YES. her house is spot on. but throngs of gay folks nuzzling down a rainbow-flagged street? nope on a rope. at least none I've ever seen. also: it's sort of goofy that the main "queer district" in the show is Liberty Avenue. I am sure this seems like an idealistic cliche [why not just have them live on Queen Street? Or Freedom Boulevard) BUT: Liberty Avenue is actually a major Pittsburgh thoroughfare (east and west liberty ave. some of it cuts through the "little italy" of bloomfield. some through the Strip District, which is repurposed industrial space).

ANYWAY: i am HOOKED on this show. Yesterday I committed the very foolish error of renting the complete Fourth Season dvds from the library. Eventually, I plan to watch all the seasons. but Logo is currently running episodes from the fourth/fifth season, so I am not totally out of the loop.

I LOVE this show. I love everyone on it. and let's face it, the love/sex scenes are super hot. yesterday was a horribly distracting scene between Michael and Ben that was surprisingly (to me) graphic. it was steamy.

but i like the show. i like what I know of gay culture and the queer community. I don't like the obligatory lesbian couple on the show; they seem sort of smarmy. and - yes, i know sexy lesbians abound, but all the lesbians I'VE ever known looked a little more....dykeish than Mel and Lindsey.

I am in total love with Peter Paige. I adore Emmett. I like Debbie a lot - she's very familiar to me, as a child of two rust belt cities. I am puzzled by alpha-male Brian, and Justin. I need to see more episodes to try to understand how that works. Ted annoys the shit out of me. I can't stand the way he talks. I love Shanda Leer. Holy hell!

yeah. it's a great show. I can't speak to the realities of being a gay man in Pittsburgh (or anywhere else). but it's such a wonderfully drama-tv show that i can't help but watch it.

I saw the "Faerie" episode yesterday, and laughed my ass off. it was so great - i went to a very hippie college (we had a yurt!) and so the Faerieness of the fairies was recognizable and amusing to me.

Oh, and Robert Gant as Ben is a dream. I love that he's a professor/intellectual. LOVE it. and i love that his partner Michael owns a comic book store.

Queer as folk: a very good idea!

17 September 2007

trying my hand/mute monday

Mute Monday (first time ever)


a winner!

After an excruciating reunion show, in which SparkleJosh's reference to Tammy Faye was the highlight, Ms Fabulous Kim was announced the winner of hgtv's Design*Star 2.

I voted for her, of course! Mainly because of all the designers after Sparkle, she was the only one whose personality was not merely watchable, but actually enjoyable. She's cute, funny, clever, crafty and I think she'll make a lovely host.

Some of Kim's rooms were - not as fabulous. Way Newton's guesthouse kitchen (above) in which she was yoked to the heinous Robb, is not fabulous (or finished). As everyone as noted, the furniture was not well balanced. But she chose a great buffet, and I loved the tile-look mirrors she chose, as well as the wall color.

Her "deserving" design, the "rustic livingroom" at the right, was - well, let's face it: she had shit-all to work with from the beginning. Her challenge was enormous, and she had some limitations placed on her (the family did not want a hard wood or laminate floor, for instance). I like the colors she chose, and the addition of a dining space was a lovely, thoughtful touch.

This is "sumptuous simplicity," from the dollar-store challenge (which was kind of a crappy one, I think; I resented very much that the spaces were more art piece - they didn't need to be functional. wtf?). I have to say: I really like what Kim did here. It shows real ingenuity and creativity, along with some real artistic, or craftistic, ability. The rice-and-peas "rug" is genius. The paper plate "leaves" on the walls are great. I LOVE the shades of brown and pink she chose. And the coffee table "mosaic" is brilliant; i'm contemplating a similar paint trick in a small space in my own house. It was a weird challenge, but I think Kim managed to pull off some REALLY strong elements (with a few weaker ones, admittedly). I like this space!

And the finale, the Hawaiian daydream suite! Kim excelled here, she really did. And compared to the Hammerhead Shark and Jellyfish "decor" next door, Kim was absolutely a shoo-in for winner.
My favorite elements in this space? I loved the wooden cutouts she used (you can see some reflected in the mirror above the sofa). I LOVE the palette she used - that aqua-and-chocolate in the kitchenette is to die for. And the rich tangerine on the wall is well set off by the more sedate browns of the room. It wasn't a hysterical burst of color; it was a thoughtful mix of colors that ended up looking both very Hawaiian-vacation-fun AND luxurious. Even though her room divider was unfinished, the idea is great. and i'm inclined to cut slack on things like that, especially since it's only in close-ups that it's visible. And you know in a real world project, it would never be left undone.

anyway, Kim is a totally fabulous choice, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing her new show in the spring! (I must say, I hope it's better than what poor sweet darling David Bromstad has been reduced to.....).

Many congratulations to KIM!!!!!

12 September 2007

top chef/music blogging

Au revoir, CJ! i enjoyed your tallness. i liked your sense of humor. also your tallness (i like tall lanky guys, okay?). and you seemed like a decent sort.

too bad about those broccolini things. bummer. but you're a champ.

Okay - yeah, I got not much for Top Chef anymore. the challenges seem - well, overly challenging. how does it really test these chefs to prepare airplane food? they already had the bertoli prepackaged food challenge....do they really need another? and cooking in unfamiliar, cramped quarters? how does that legitimately test a chef's cooking abilities?

I feel like the commercials during the show were more captivating and colorful. even darling bourdain couldn't perk things up.

That said, I acquired the song from the new iPod nano ad as soon as the show ended. i have an "old school" nano in original black and i'm not in the market for the new one. but the song in the ad is catchy and appealing. it's called "1234" and it is by Feist.

and i like it. so there!

Jeff Lewis' Open House

Tonight's "Open House" hosted by that eternal irritant Andy Cohen (GET RID OF HIM AS A HOST PLEASE) was okay. It confirmed my sense that Jeff Lewis excels at sarcasm and deadpan humor. and i LOVE THAT.

I was also intrigued to notice that Jenni was listed as "series consultant" in the credits.

Nottingham turned out so beautifully; I felt a little sad that Ryan and Chloe are having to move out already.

But here's my issue: WHERE THE HELL WAS MY BOWMAN??????
they showed him in clips from the show.
but never once mentioned his name, nor did he appear in the special (though everyone else from the show's credits DID - even Zoila and the Trash Guy).

I will really miss that show. I hope it comes back for more.

and for the record, I don't think Jeff's lips are all that weird.

10 September 2007

kim ftw

(image taken from cuteoverload.com)

Kim! Kim! Kim!

come on, her final design is lovely - I'd be delighted to stay there, in her tropical punch suite. the aqua and brown are a favorite color combo of mine.
I'll do a full blather about this episode, but I LOVE the wooden cut-outs on the left in this photo (against the orange). The placement, the shapes themselves, all of it: gorgeous. I even love the screen she built to divide the seating from the kitchen area.

Todd's suite has a drawing of a hammerhead shark in it.

this one is a no-brainer.

VOTE FOR KIM! voting closes at noon on wednesday (est), so hit the polls! I still haven't figured out how to send text messages so i'm stuck with once-a-day internet voting, but for those with textability, VOTE!

06 September 2007

top chef? what's top chef?

Well, Top Chef tonight was TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY overpowered by the preview episode of Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. I'm joining the Tim Gunn/Project Runway bandwagon a little late in the game, but I'm not doing it by halves: I LOVE Tim Gunn. everything about him is just flawless. He's gorgeous, he's articulate, he's intelligent, he is impeccable, he's kind, he's confident without being arrogant - in short, he is perfection in man form.

Tonight's show had a tarty woman in her early 40s being un-tarted. The premise of the show is delightfully simple: help fashion victims to help themselves. Identify the worst in their wardrobes, and show how they can get a "similar" effect (ie, sexy) but in a much more stylish and appropriate way. My favorite bit was - well, aside from the Tart's Wardrobe, and gorgeous veronica webb's well-timed "it looks slutty" remark - my favorite part was the computer model.

It's got some high-tech name, but basically it's a paper doll of YOU (or the Tart, in this case)>. Tim says: "we used 25 different measurements to create this model of your body." (WHAT are those 25 measurements? I shudder to think). The point of this exercise is not style, but form and silhouette, and it's brilliantly helpful. The computer program throws different garments on the paperdoll, and then the Tart decides if they work in terms of shape, form, silhouette. It isn't about fashion - they are really just iconic representations of a shape of clothing - but about FORM. so the boxy long jacket on the Tart was a huge no-no, but the wrap dress, or higher-waisted pants, were A-OK. and you can see it clearly because it isn't YOU, it's just a paperdoll with 25 of your measurements.

I totally want a paperdoll of myself to play with. I had neat ones as a kid where there clothes stuck on magnetically.

anyway, it was inspiring but i thought the trenchcoat dress was ugly. I actually thought it was just a trenchcoat until the very end, when it turned out to be just a dress. I also didn't like the big ole Coach purse the Tart received for playing paperdolls with Tim Gunn, but that is because I like smaller bags (though not the tiny evening handbags the Tart previously used).

In the end, the Tart was de-tartified, her husband and daughter were no longer embarrassed, and they got rid of her tired-looking hair. She still had that awful tacky New Jersey accent, but Tim Gunn didn't hook her up with HIS elocutionist (I wish he would; I wish every man in America could speak like Tim Gunn).

the best thing about this show, besides the peacock blue wall in Tim's office, and glamourous Tim himself, is that it is actually helpful to women who don't all look like Veronica Webb. The Tart had a pretty good figure, but she was by no means flawless or even close to it. She looked like a real woman, with a real woman's body.

Oh, and on Top Chef, Howie finally got eliminated, and Hung built a smurf village out of whipped cream and crushed FrootLoops.

04 September 2007

flipping out: FINIS

tonight was the last real episode of Flipping Out, I show I have thoroughly fallen in love with. The neuroses of everyone involved are delightful; Ryan is a total doll, as is his little girl Chloe (and, tonight for the first time, we see Dale, Ryan's partner - he's a doll too!). I like houses and design; I bought a house last year for the first time, so I still remember most of the process. The whole show is just kick-ass. and queer as pants! plus, Oliver the dog is one of the most adorable dogs I have ever seen.

Watching Jeff kick ass over the leaky roof at Nottingham (on Ryan's behalf, really) made me wish I had had HIM on my team when the contractors were fucking shit up at my house last year. Jeff would NEVER have allowed them to track drywall dust all over the house, splatter paint on the brand-new floor, install vinyl flooring in the kitchen then scratch the heck out of it.....or any of the other craptastic problems I find on a weekly basis around here.

Tonight's episode was bittersweet: my crush on house assistant Bowman was wounded by Jeff's "downsizing" of Bowman to two days a week. This was followed by me smacking my forehead when Jeff said: "Stephen's working on his dream of being a makeup artist." A makeup artist!?! really?!!!!??

Will I ever find a STRAIGHT MAN attractive again? jesus, it's like I'm a walking gaydar system. wanna know if a guy is queer? just ask me; if i'm attracted to him, he's bound to be gay!

Maybe i'm stereotyping too much, but....my money's on Bowman is gay. either way, he's super-hot (in my eyes!) and I love his personality. sarcasm is sexy!

I will very seriously miss this show, and I hope like hell it gets a second season. I'll tune in to see what's happening in Jeff Lewis's Office!

03 September 2007

design star 6 - "deserving" design

Episode Six repeats a challenge from last year's Design Star: the three finalists are randomly assigned a redesign project and sent to locations across the country. This year, the three families were located in California, Indiana and West Virginia.

Before I go on, I need to say that I'm conflicted about this concept of "deserving" design. The families are chosen on some sort of need-based criteria. This also seems like a prelude to Vern Yip's new show, "Deserving Design." This smacks a little too much of the "deserving poor" which has a lot of connotations I don't really like. It's also loaded down with ideological weight; for example, the Indiana family was made up of six children (ages 16 to 18months) and the parents are both firefighters. Their "before" room was basic but nothing hideous. Why choose them? Presumably because the parents are "first responders" - everyday American Heroes!

In California, we had Bridget, a young teenage girl with some condition that requires her to remain wheelchair bound (her bones break exceedingly easily). Will ended up as her designer, and did what I thought was an outstanding job.

Todd drew the "easiest" challenge - swanking out an already-okay livingroom for the firefighters and their spawn.

Kim got the saddest one: designing the livingroom for a young couple (with baby) in West Virginia. He is a coal miner.

The rooms:
Will is just amazing. I love his aesthetic, even though it isn't MY style. He uses color well, I think, and in this episode in particular, he was really sensitive to the needs of his wheelchair bound, teenage client (and teen girl would be hard enough!). I like the colors he used, though I'd never choose them myself. My mom hates the green sofa, but i actually like it a lot. One of the design features Will pointed out was that, by painting the walls in color blocks with a white border, it makes the ceiling seem lower, so that from a wheelchair, one would feel in a reasonably-sized space. He also installed a refrigerator and a kick-ass media center. He kept it clean and simple, gave Bridget loads of places to lounge around while recuperating from injuries (that darker blue square is a padded "side" board to the bed, so she can sit up sideways or lengthwise on her bed. The one thing I felt the room was lacking was some sign of BRIDGET'S personality; the space is almost too clean. There should be a few trinkets or photos or something around that indicate that this room actually belongs to someone, and isn't a showroom. But I loved it on the whole- it's such a clean, bright space! - and I felt like Will's presentation was a vast improvement from his last hosting foray (the judges disagreed).

Todd's space, like I said, seemed kind of okay to livingrooms I've ever been in. He took over and turned it into a monstrosity. He tried to to Toddlike carpentry "tricks," but was confounded by time, space and the presence of a begin with - nothing special, but like most of the load-bearing horizontal beam. The room he ended up with is cheap and ugly, in my book, and is like staring into an oven. The vicious red wall is NOT complemented by the vicious orange walls; the reds in the chaises (which i do like), the cushions and the carpets don't match. Having backless bookcases sets means everything needs to fight against the hideous redness. The sectional sofa is ugly. The wooden corner "bench" toybox he built is a lame storage idea; throwing all your kids' crap into a large bin is NOT organization. Moreover, as my mom pointed out, it's a hinged box for use by very small children; pinched fingers and bonked heads are a probability. Todd would have been much better off getting some sort of storage unit with canvas drawer-bins into which the kids' junk could have been sorted. The red area rug over the white carpet is dumb. I hate wall to wall carpeting, myself, but I hate rugs over rugs even more. Todd bought high-end gaming systems and TV, and the room seems set up more as a teenage boy's dream gaming room (those chaises) than anything else. And, as one of the judges pointed out, the bulk of the seating does NOT face the TV - and the family said they use the space for movie nights frequently.
Martha McCully tipped her hand and revealed her foolish infatuation by saying "I like watching Todd." Well, Martha, you're the only one. Todd is a toolbag of the first rate.

Now for Kim. Oh Kimmy! You had the most difficult challenge - a dirt-poor room at the end of a dirt road in Nowhere, West Virginia. Her shopping options were more limited, and I think she had a lot more to accomplish. Partly she took this challenge upon herself, by expanding her design to include the family's eating area, which, she explained, is visible from the livingroom, and thus should be included (I agree, and Vern gave her an A+ for that one). Kim's had the most dismal "before" which is why I'm posting a picture of it. Look at the sad, saggy vinyl blinds. The carpet remnants over plywood floors. the utter lack of anything approaching luxury. By comparison, the Indiana "before" room was a dream (this made me angry, to be honest).
Kim worked some wonders. The couple wanted rustic, and the final product manages to pull that off without being tacky or gimmicky. Now, if it had been up to ME, I would have gone Arts & Crafts "rustic," but maybe arts & crafts isn't how they roll in WVa. What she did was totally transform a dismal, cold-looking space (you know they freeze in there in the winters....the only souce of heat is the wood-burning stove). She put in a lot of attention and time, hand-staining (is there any other way?) the wood elements they liked, getting furniture and things unloaded and arranged in a mud-inducing rainstorm, schlepping from outpost-shop to outpost-shop to find what she needed for the room.
The results?

Again with the wall-to-wall carpet! bah! Throw down some nice pergo flooring. It isn't hardwood, I know, but my pergo floor looks pretty damn nice, and it's easy to clean mud and muck off of it. And since Mr. Homeowner (the home is a doublewide trailer) is a coal miner, mud and muck comes into the house every day. Even a larger tiled entryway would have been more practical. The judges criticized Kim mostly for her furniture layout, and I guess I see the critique. Things are kind of where you'd expect them to be; why not put the sofa as a "room divider" at the natural break, and then two chairs facing it, backs to the window? The chair and table in the foreground are sort of random, but they do face the wood stove which is now actually kind of nice to look at.
I think if it was my space to do, I would have gotten a small, really comfy loveseat, and angled it in front of the woodstove, instead of the chair and table. That way, on chilly nights, the couple could snuggle up near their heatsouce. If I had insisted on using that rug, I would have laid it between the stove and the loveseat.

I LOVE the log box/table Kim had her carpenter construct. It's really sleek and modern looking while still fitting the space wonderfully, AND being highly functional.

Kim's presentation, as always, was stellar.

Will's show has been cancelled, with means awesome Kim and the Toolbag will be off to Hawaii (?? was there some sort of cut rate if you have your reality show's finale in hawaii? see: top chef, season two). America, now is the time to do your duty and VOTE FOR KIM!!

does anyone but Martha McCully REALLY want to watch Todd toolbagging around without his shirt on?? what would his show be? Pimp my dorm room for 19 year old boys?

I'm ready for the finale, though; I'm dying to know what the challenge is, and I REALLY hope my boy SparkleJosh comes back to help!

02 September 2007

flower dresses

i have decided i want three dresses made/designed (this is all In My Head, because i have neither the skills nor the cash to make this happen).

It might be tacky, cliche or lame to design dresses after flowers, but I frankly don't care.

Dress #1: the blue Morning Glory dress. shaped exactly like a morning glory, and colored like one as well. high neck in front, low-cut curved back. it would have to be made of something swirly and matte - not shiny satins. maybe chiffon? It wouldn't be a pouffy prom dress, no no no. But it would have full trumpet skirt, with the white and deeper shades of violet inset somehow, and the bodice would be that lovely white.

Dress #2: the Tulip Skirt. Picture a tulip. Invert it. there. make a skirt.
I'm thinking a shade of purple, maybe even a Queen of the Night tulip-color (see picture at right). The hemline would be asymmetrical just like the tulip is. I imagine the top would be a snug, simple bodice made of the same fabric as the skirt. maybe something that goes slightly off-the-shoulder? or just a simple scoopy v-neck, mimicking the point of the petals/skirt?

Dress #3: the Honeysuckle Dress.
short, narrower cut (A-line skirt at most). creamy white with that gorgeous peachy color as an accessory. I picture the main skirt coming no longer than knee-length, and being quite narrow (not quite a sheath, but close). The white would be a slightly heavier fabric (but still something very light, just not sheer). Then there would be loose, narrow floating panels of that peachy/yellowy color that would stream loose from the waist or back. The dress would be sleeveless, with more of the peachy "streamers" draping down. I'd have a really elaborate hairstyle, possibly even some kind of tiny hat, with some sort of vertical element to mirror the stamens of the honeysuckle.

designers' challenge

invite your friends to play!

i have this weird side porch that is mostly useless. i use it to store junk in. i want to turn it into a little "conservatory" on the seriously cheap.

I'll post pictures soon but my main question:

what color would you paint the walls in a conservatory? the one solid wall is rock; the rest are windows, french doors and a small bit of wall.