Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Scaramouche, can you do the fandango?

Jim Henson may be dead, but his spirit lives on. As does Freddie Mercury's. Enjoy. And happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Project blogway: fin

And so it ends, not with a bang, but with an endless parade of black clothes in Bryant Park.

I think back to the glory days: Chloe and Daniel V. and Santino; Christian and Jillian and Remi and Chris March. And then, in the wink of Heidi's eye...we're left with this. As the functional member of the household put it: "You don't even want to watch it again. And who would have imagined that?"

Had I had enough orange skin to vote (and what was that facial hair Michael Kors sprouted?), I would have gone with CarolHannahMontanaBanana, simply because she used (shhh!) color! Her thirteenth look was easily the best dress of the evening, and the purples looked good on the Sylvania here. But apparently, consistency triumphs over creativity in the end: MeanaIrina's looks clearly fit together as a collection better than the other two. But who wants fashion that not only looks like but was explicitly designed to be something to be worn on The Road? As for Althea: Meh.

My hope here is that Lifetime and Bunim/Murray caught enough flak from the fans that they can fix the problems. Then again, given the "best collections ever" and "strong designers!" comments prominently featured this week, I may be dealing with the proverbial dream deferred. In any case, it was fun to see Tim Gunn fluskatrated for the first time maybe ever: Now he knows how we feel.


I hope that those of you who check in here once in a while have looked at the list of blogs on the left hand side of the page. I could not be happier with what the students are doing and doing well. Indeed, the blogging seems to have brought with it a greater awareness of clarity and structure than the usual in-class work does. Pick hit of the moment: Truth Bombs' review of the Beatles RockBand game. But there's a lot else that's good in here. Enjoy it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Be seeing you?

I have yet to see the entirety of AMC's remake/remodel of The Prisoner, but thus far, I'm less than impressed. To be fair, my memory of the 1960s British original makes it difficult for me to accept any attempts to recapture that zeitgeist, but even on its own terms, this series comes up short.

What AMC has given us, pure and simple, is less a remake/remodel of The Prisoner than it is Lost II, with The Village standing in for The Island. In the first episode, we even get protagonist Number 6 telling us that he's "lost." All that's missing is the smoke monster. We also get the obligatory reference to Twin Peaks (love that ceiling fan!), and the hyperkinetic editing and reliance on absurd rack focuses that connote Edgy TV.

The second episode opens things up some -- we find out a little more about 6's background, and the connections between past and present become more clear. But that's marred by a cheap nod to star Jim Caviezel's previous career as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ, with Pilate showing up on Gesthemane carting a grenade. Pilate in this case is played by Ian McKellen, doing his slimy powerful shtick one too many times -- I can predict already that the mask will fall, revealing the pathetic evil within before it is necessarily destroyed.

That's the show considered without the original. With the original, it's hard to see why this went beyond storyboarding. AMC has, wisely or not, posted the original ITC series online. Just watch the 2 1/2-minute intro of episode one to see all the invention and excitement this version lacks. A meditation on the existential relationship between the individual and the state, the original Prisoner spoke to both right and left, both Brit and Yank, in a bizarre psychedelic lingua franca that was entirely of its time. The AMC version lacks both the philosophic intent and the political urgency of the original. It's simply must-see TV for people who can't think outside of must-see TV -- although they've at least retained The Bubble.

btw, if you want to read a really interesting analysis of the original Prisoner, you might want to check out this book.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Project blogway, part fuenf

So let me get this straight (in every sense of the term): On a network whose target audience is female and that is trying to gain a foothold in younger demographics, and on a show produced by the same people responsible for The Real World, the three finalists are all women between the ages of 23 and 26? Gee, how did that work out?

Granted, the finalists on the Bravo/Magical Elves version of PR always included a flamboyant gay guy (or in Santino and Jeffrey's cases, a flamboyant omnisexual guy). But they were (usually) good! And (always) interesting! The best that can be said for Meana Irina, Blonde Althea, and CarolHannahMontanaBanana as designers is that they are competent, and as personalities is that they all have astonishing overbites. (Maybe we're setting up the new Project Orthodontics series.) Ra'mon and his mysterious apostrophe may have been a bit on the Minnesota Nice side of things, but even the Lizard Queen outfit for which he was aufed was more creative than what the final three have done. And Nicholas, though hardly the talent of Uncle Nick or Daniel V. (to say nothing of Christopher), at least had some drama about him. 

To be fair, one is always amazed that anyone can pull together anything in the day or so the contestants have here, and to say that this year's finalists suck conveniently ignores the fact that the best I could do with scissors, needles and fabric in 24 hours would come down to making a tourniquet to stop the arterial bleeding. But: This is television! Show off! Be interesting! Be funny! Even if Lifetime just wants you to be role models and Bunim/Murray just wants you to be a PG-rated Girls Gone Wild! Make a dress out of SlimJims and crack penis jokes while you're doing it! It's what Andrae would have done!

But I suspect all we're going to get in this year's finale is backstories that are noble and clothes that are wearable and Tim Gunn, looking ever more uncomfortable as he wonders if the old gig back at Parsons might be available again.

Project Runblog

As noted way back, the existence of this blog is due in large part to a course I teach on opinion writing that this year has gone to include blogging. We have now reached that part of the course, so in the next few days, you will find links to sites established by 16 new members of the blogosphere. Their first assignment was a 300-word piece on any topic, the point being to keep things as short as possible. (Usual length is 600-800 words.) What we have learned thus far: Links are incredibly useful tools, especially when going short, and precision and correctness are even more important in online writing than they are in writing for the press. (I know, "perfect" is the enemy of "done," but "sloppy" is also the enemy of "being taken seriously.") I invite you to check out their work as we all proceed here.