Archive: August, 2008
|Episode 7's winning design
The designers got their second chance at innovation by making an outfit from the raw materials of Saturn cars. The Seatbelt Brigade looked scarily like challenge one where nearly half the designers leaned on the tablecloth crutch. Luckily, though Bravo's editing team showed almost every designer snag their weight in seatbelts, only Blayne and Korto used them to an extreme. Blayne's swag "car wash" dress wasn't adored by the judges due to poor fit and an overall "blah" effect, whereas Korto was second runner-up for the win. Her woven mod swing coat was simply stunning, and had guest judge Rachel Zoe up in arms about making it her own.
But Keith was the one truly up in arms this week, as he not only said farewell to his fellow designers after making a shittily sewn halter top and a too-tight panel skirt, but he also got snappy with the judges. Keith sobbed uncontrollably after being eliminated and played the pity-party role as the boy from Utah who doesn't get many chances. Well, boohoo. Maybe you shouldn't have packed that egomaniacal 'tude in your suitcase to New York.
Leanne, who won this challenge with her bubble-hip, fringe trim, sweetheart mini dress, dropped some jaws — including my own. She nailed this challenge by delivering something chic, innovative and beyond cool. Leanne has reaffirmed my belief in her worth as a ProjRun competitor, as did Joe. He got no recognition, but his motocross-style cropped sheath was well-done and adorable; touché. This episode also left me with a couple "gotta love it" moments such as "Hi, Timlicious," a "whackadoodle" count of two and a boyfriend named Ratbones.
Diane von Furstenberg makes next week's episode legendary with a major prize that leaves the designers in blood, sweat and tears.
|If you're gonna do the drivin', I'm gonna do the drinkin'|
The good news is that as of Episode 5, Mad Men is totally 100 percent back on track: Great writing and great direction. Pete and Trudy Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser and Alison Brie) enter the brave new world of 1960s fertility treatment, Joan (Christina Hendricks) gets engaged and Rachel Mencken (Now Rachel Katz, played by Philly's Maggie Siff)) turns up briefly just to confuse everyone. Don (Jon Hamm) has a new secretary (Peyton List) who disappoints Joan with her scandalous 8-inch neckline. Don and sometime-mistress Bobbie (Melinda McGraw) screw up big time, and Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) saves them. In the process we finally learn a. what Peggy was doing between 1960 and 1962; b. what Bobbie is doing in the series at all, and, by extension c. what the hell this season is supposed to be about.
The bad news is that the author of these recaps has an entire semester of lesson plans to write and cannot give this episode this week the 1000-plus words it deserves. So, in summation, Season 2 is about Peggy. We learn that after her kid was born, she had a nervous breakdown and lay sedated in a state mental ward until Don paid her a surprise visit and schooled her in the ways of pathological compartmentalization, a technique in which he excels.
We know all this because of a subplot in which Bobbie lures Don away from work to hang out at a hotel bar, where they run into Rachel, now married to an awesome 1960s nerd named Tilden (Nick Toren). To dispel the awkwardness, Don and Bobbie take a drive up to her shore house in Long Island. An en route makeout session goes awry, and they wind up in the drunk tank. Peggy bails them out and for her troubles, gets three days of Bobbie smoking cigarettes in her living room waiting for her shiner to heal. Awkward at first, they soon bro down big time, and we finally realize why Bobbie was written into the series to begin with — once the two have thoroughly bonded, Bobbie gives one of the show's most memorable soliloquies. She's sussed out Peggy, correctly, as talented and fiercely driven, but confounded by the gender politics she's been thrust into. Don't try to play by the rules of the men you work with, Bobbie tells Peggy. (I'm paraphrasing.) She departs, and Peggy's hospital stay is recounted in flashback. Next day at the office, she calls Don "Don."
Cue the cultural revolution.
You said things I wouldn't say.
|photo | Lori Hill|
It was truth in advertising. Liz Phair and three anonymous bandmates (she even forgot one of their last names — ouch) walked out on stage and played Exile in Guyville, all 18 songs from start to finish, to mark the album’s 15th anniversary. And that’s kind of how the show was going — smoothly, but a little uninterestingly. Then came “Canary,” eight songs in, and you remembered that Phair ‘s voice — part husky come-hither and part apathetic drone — is not that bad. The song was pretty perfect, and the moment when the show sort of hit its stride. The classics came fast and furious: “Mesmerizing,” “Fuck and Run,” “Divorce Song,” “Strange Loop.” Early in the show Phair put out a call for a woman to come up and sing the infamous “Flower” with her. (Maybe she feels a little silly doing it herself now?) When the time came, a guy offered, and she said, “Ah fuck it, come on up.” He nailed it. A so-so song from her forthcoming album, “Chopsticks,” and “Polyester Bride” served as an encore.
|What would Kinky do?|
Every Monday, the Showdown tells you who to see and where to see ‘em.
Monday: It's been two years since Philly natives, screamo kids Balboa have rocked their hometown. Give 'em the warm Philadelphia welcome the Showdown knows you are capable of. With Rosetta and North, at the Khyber, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $8.
Tuesday: Why go to a show and listen to one genre when there are so many good ones out there? Especially when they all come from the greatest city in the world — yours. Part punk (the Do Its, Goodbye Etc.), part soul (Mister King), part funk (Color Karma), part jangly-droney indie (Even Man Out). Enjoy the smorgasbord. At the North Star Bar, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $5.
Wednesday: Liz Phair's deep monotone was the quintessential female voice of the early-'90s. Too bad she sucked after popping out a puppy and deciding she would rather make money than have "blow job queen" etched onto her tombstone. No worries, though, 'cause tonight, she'll only be rockin' cuts from the seminal Exile in Guyville (attention young, angsty girls: go pick up your copy asap). At the TLA, doors at 7 p.m., tickets are $25.
Thursday: Hey, hey, it's a Monkee! Although listings editor extraordinaire Monica Weymouth is a Davey girl at heart, she's still got love for Peter Tork — one of two who could actually play an instrument AND didn't come off as an asshole in the VH1 TV-movie (the Showdown is looking at you Mike Nesmiith. Wool cap and all). No shit, he ain't bad. With Adam Marsland + His Chaos Band, at the North Star Bar, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $15.
Friday: It's ladies night and the feeling's right with Sugar Town. Lady DJ's take to the decks, including Boston's the Femme Show, who are known for their sexified visual performances of the queer female identity. Way more fun that its Gender Studies title. With DJ Kit, the Shondes and Liberty City Kings, at Tritone, doors at 9 p.m. tickets are $7.
Saturday: Celebrate the fact that you're off work on Monday by working those dance moves with the oh-so-shakeable Violens. More complicated (and we mean that in a good way) than your average neo-New Wave. With Relay, Ape School and Pink Skull, at Johnny Brenda's, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $10.
Sunday: The only Jew to run for governor of Texas, tour with Dylan and consider Willie Nelson a BFF. Kinky Friedman is a badass in the classic sense of the word brings his narrative (and often-times hilarious) country to Philly for the first time in eons. At the World Cafe Live, doors at 8 p.m., tickets are $30.
|Acting like a bunch of babies.|
Parenting 101: The Musical, the new song-and-dance comedy playing at the Kimmel Center through Sept. 14, introduces itself as a "musical form of birth control." Indeed, after sitting through the two-hour-and-20-minute show, I left wondering if I made the right decision to spawn. Skits on the teenage years — puberty, high school dating, driving lessons — made me wish there was a way to skip that inevitable period in my 3-year-old's life.
Still, the play, created by Nancy and Susan Holson and Joey Falzone, was satirical and cathartic for parents, as evidenced by audience members doubling over in laughter. The four actors, with the help of wigs, clothes and attitudes, managed to cast a wide array of characters from toddlers to brides-to-be. Jeff Brooks was outstanding in his ability to transform from a rapping to a tap-dancing grandma in an ABBA-inspired piece called "Grandma Mia." Brooks, with his muscular limbs, also made a hilarious cheerleader, resplendent in a bright red mini-skirt, his thighs as thick as tree trunks.
Some of the jokes were predictable, but a few skits were so outrageous and bold, you have to admire the writers for tackling the non-PC aspects of parenthood. You can't blame parents if they want to skip the avant-garde, especially when their brains are fried from fatigue. If you're in the mood for light-hearted comedy, Parenting 101 is fun for all.
Buy tickets here.
Excellent piece in the Detroit Free Press about the Detroit/Philadelphia bassist axis in advance of the Detroit International Jazz Festival where Philly bass man Christian McBride is artist-in-residence.
“It’s not an accident that almost all of my favorite bass players are from Detroit or Philadelphia,” says Christian McBride, the Philadelphia-born bassist who serves as artist-in-residence at the 29th annual Detroit International Jazz Festival, which begins Friday and runs through Labor Day. “You take away Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Percy Heath, Jimmy Garrison, James Jamerson, Alphonso Johnson and the others and you’re left with a very short list.”
|The Episode 6 winning design
… but only for Daniel.
On perhaps one of the best challenges Project Runway has ever aired, designers faced the biggest (and I mean biggest) models they’d ever have to style and Season 4’s Chris March came back to reveal their task at hand — designing for drag queens. All a little flabbergasted, some disgusted and others — mainly Terri — thrilled with this week’s challenge, they all dug deep and found their inner showgirl.
Keith’s toilet paper aesthetic is one I’ll never understand, and Joe agrees. The PR Papa started the show off with a sucker-punch to Keith’s design style. Regarding his win last week: “I don’t know … are the judges blind?” Ouch. But, the truth hurts and Keith faced said reality as he fell from number one to the bottom two because of his messy, ugly, uneven and unglammy design. Lucky for him, Daniel’s was worse. We FINALLY said farewell to the snot-nosed pretty boy whose delusions of design grandeur were making our tummies churn.
As for the reigning royalty, Korto’s fire-inspired, sequin, mini dress with tear-away crinoline skirt was more than hot, and Terri turned her queen into a Samauri Jane with a punk rock edge. Oh, and Terri was wrongfully deemed second best again. Joe took the win with his pink, all-over sequin, sailor-style, jump suit with a bulky-buckle belt, which guest judge RuPaul gushed over because it “hid the candy.”
And if I got nothing else out of this whopper of a runway show, I did finally learn that it is Blayne’s drag dress that covets the Tim Gunn title as “a pterodactyl out of a gay Jurassic Park.” All in all, this challenge was unexpected, fun and, most importantly, the designers delivered. It’s gonna be a wild ride next week, as unconventional materials are sure to stress creative engines.
A few things were different at the 47th annual Philadelphia Folk Festival. Victory Brewing Company's hill top outpost was the most noticeable addition to the food and drink section. The craft area was beefed up with even more vendors selling everything from handmade dulcimers to explosively colored tie-dyed clothing. But change went beyond what you could buy.
Stephen Kellog and the Sixers and the Ryan Montbleau Band show the new side of folk music, and a different direction for the festival. Both bands, led by young singer-songwriters, gave the audience high energy performances of folk songs with a pop twist. The Ryan Montbleau Band especially did well in this department. I really enjoyed keyboardist Jason Cohen's fluttering piano lines and fiery organ solos.
|Photo | Ptah Gabrie|
|Photo | Ptah Gabrie|
Friday night definitely belonged to ukulelemaster Jake Shimabukura. He stood alone with his ukulele on stage. And out came the most amazing playing of the festival. Shimabukura shredded through scales and arpeggios at speeds that would give Eddie Van Halen a run for his money. He closed with his signature and mind-blowing cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."
|Photo | Ptah Gabrie|
English Folk legend Al Stewart (it's been over 30 years since he released his U.K. debut, Bedsitter Images) emphasizes the storytelling element in folk music. Many of his songs have a historical theme, and tell stories of European life during World War II. My favorite of Stewart's yarns described a weary Russian army beaten back by German soldiers. In between songs he chatted up the audience with stories about England and discussed American politics. I was most impressed by the fullness of his sound. Stewart engaged the audience, and teased everyone with the opening verse of The Who's "Pinball Wizard."
|Photo | Ptah Gabrie|
I always enjoy the southern bands that play fest, and this year Miami's Lee Boys put on one hell of a performance The Lee Boys heavily feature the pedal steel guitar. It's twangy sliding sound is great for country music, but slap on some overdrive and turn the volume to 10, and it's time to rock. The band moved all over the stage, and played their hearts out. Larger than life drummer Earl Walker played so hard that I thought he was going to stand up at the end of the final number, and run right through his drum set like a mad bull.
|The Lee Boys|
|Photo | Ptah Gabrie|
Grizzled-folkie and Bubbles' N.A. sponsor Waylon on HBO's series The Wire, Steve Earle performed Saturday evening. His songs about dip spitting gun slingers and big city life, all done in his raspy Dylan-esque voice, fired everyone up. His performance was preceded by a delightful set from his lovely wife Alison Moorer who eventually joined Earle on stage for some husband and wife duets. Earle, switching between acoustic guitar, Dobro and banjo, made subtle jokes about being married for too long. His set ended with a lesson on how music can end a war, followed by his homage to urban diversity, "Living in a City of Immigrants."
|Steve Earle and Alison Moorer|
|Photo | Ptah Gabrie|
Even though this year's fest had some changes, it was just as fun as all the other Philly Folk Fests. The music was more diverse than previous years, but didn't stray away from the traditional side. Gene Shay's jokes are still on point, and the priceless video footage of fests past still made the time between performances enjoyable. It was interesting to be able to purchase beer, but the process to get my booze almost made it not worth it (I was carded, then I bought a ticket for $6 and finally I traded my ticket for a Hop Devil, which I had to drink in the "Beer Garden"). Aside from that, all the changes were for the better.
|Photo | Ptah Gabrie|
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