Friday, August 28, 2015

What is the Point: The Project Runway Edition

One of the things I really like about "Project Runway" is that a lot of the changes they have made are very much about creating better outcomes.  In the weird way of clothing designers, most of us on the street only know people huge enough to be all over our TVs, so a lot of designers who go on to work under another designer, or specifically in wedding wear, or just to open their own storefront in the town of their choice drop off the radar of the average viewer, leading to the impression that these people disappear.  Now sure, there are also plenty of past contestants who are not designing these days, or are more well known for being on TV as a judge.  But that's probably true of any profession.  Pick 100 people, see how many of them are still doing that same thing 10 years later. 
Included in these changes, is the opportunity for judges to examine the garments up close.  This seemed like a great development.  There are times when the viewers at home can even see that certain garments have wobbly seams or other various issues.  Letting the judges see how something looks up close, is helpful.  There have been times when they could see that a designer had used the wrong fabric, or that on closer look something looked less interesting than it had stomping down the runway.  (Kudos to the model on that one.)
So this week, there was an outfit that was dramatic, but even I could see it was a great idea executed less well.  And sure, it's early days yet.  And interesting has always trumped practical or even wearable on "Project Runway".  So, fine, it was top three.  Fine.  But I expected, given that even before the up close scan, they asked Blake if the necklace was covering something up and he revealed that he had bled on the neckline due to a scissors mishap (scissors are a big issue this season) and so he had chopped off the neckline but not had time to sew it.  Now, if that had been the only construction issue, sure.  But the seams, even on my TV were terrible.  And there were two other outfits that were great and well executed.  So, I'm not sure what up close inspection does, if they still say, well these other two are better made, but enh, this one looked great on the runway.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Three Interesting Things

1. A runner paused to pump her arms at her expected third place finish and ended up with fourth, leading to a round up of some other instances of premature celebration.
2. I am now sad that my high school didn't have a cat student.
3. I keep re-titling this article about salad being overrated - in my head it is called "Lettuce is Evil" or perhaps "Ditch the Leaves".  YMMV.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Belated Internet Validation

I had once said to someone that if I could convince a certain parental unit to go on a thing called a podcast, and then agree to actually abide by said stranger's result, I would try.  But neither of those things are true.  But, even if I could have somehow subtly directed the family to a podcast* well, yeah.  Once upon a time there was the game "Taboo".  (Yes, I know it still exists.  It gets less play these days in my family.  It may become clear why soon.)  We played it a lot.  My brother is quite a bit younger, so we sometimes allowed assists if he encountered a word that he was less familiar with.  I once brought my best friend to visit and we had, unsurprisingly, spent the whole long drive talking about all manner of things and we were ridiculously in sync with the extra eight hours of together time and able to offer clues like "Carrie had one" (answer: sunburn).  I can no longer remember what the answer was for which my not-quite-double-digits-at-the-time brother offered "Guys like it a lot" (I think it was beer, but there was an excellent pause as much of his team clearly thought words they weren't sure they should say in front of a young child). 
So, I was in charge of the buzzer for a round in which the answer for the other team was "Gotham City".  I buzzed when the clue giver said "city" arguing that it was part of the answer.  The clue giver argued that it was not on the list of restricted terms.  I argued that the answer was never listed as a restricted term, but surely you couldn't give out the answer or part of it as a clue.  Suffice it to say the discussion did not go well, and resulted in a cancellation of the game for the evening.  (The rules do back me up on this, which as you likely know, hardly matters after a certain level of team spirit deterioration.)
Well the Judge John Hodgman complainant has a similar pen/pencil debate and in their case the clue giver argued that since pen and pencil had different etymological origins, it should not count, which is at least a different argument.  In their case the clue giver went so fair as to contact the game manufacturer who, interestingly sided with them.  (Possibly due to an excess of customer service orientation.) Judge Hodgman agreed that pen and pencil are similar enough that no, one cannot be used in the clue for the other.  So, the internet agrees with me. 

*Remember my family disagrees with books, they are not anti-fact, but they are anti-conceding arguments, and those who want to suggest I fit in, can stuff it. What? I'm kidding.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Three Interesting Things

Given that the St. Louis area police have been making use of tear gas again, reportedly without even the dispersal warning the judge agreed they are required to provide, I'm going to point to the  7 Things about tear gas.
1. One teen tried self-directed learning for a year.  (I realize that many home schoolers and unschoolers do this all the time.  I still think the things he found were interesting.)
2. One scientist gave an amazing answer to the question of how one can avoid having a disabled child.  (Short version, you cannot.  But the long version is well worth a read.)
3. And this piece on the Ashley Madison hack looks into why those of us who make use of the internet, even for non-salacious reasons, should be concerned.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Musicals, musicals, and musicals

I saw three musicals in the last two weeks.  Two were touring productions, and one was an original (although they just announced it's going to make it's way off Broadway.) One of them, I did the thing i usually do with musicals, which is that I listened extensively to the cast album, I had read about the story connecting the songs and really the only thing I didn't do, was give it all a re-listen before the show, because I didn't want to be too attached to the original cast's interpretation. That was "Book of Mormon".  It was fun.  The audience seemed to be really ready for it, and some of the laughter seemed very surprised given how, relatively long this show has been around.  I had been a bit spoiled about the Spooky Mormon Hell, so I sadly did not find it quite as amazing as I think I would have without prior knowledge (still good, just pretty much what I expected). 
I saw "Once" which I knew a little about because, well, I exist in the world, but I had not seen the movie, had heard some of the songs, but had not listened to the cast album, and really just went in to see what it was.  It was interesting.  I am unable to compare it to the movie.  They had clearly done things with the staging to make it very portable and to minimize set change.  Instead of an orchestra, the whole cast just played while on stage.  Some of the songs they went for more of an Irish pub feel (for understandable reasons) and some felt a bit more Broadway, although, since the characters are all musicians, while they are speaking to each other through song, generally, the songs occur where one character has intentionally said, hey, I'm going to play you this thing, rather than the more musical-esque, I will speak to or about you, in song, because I can.  So, some of the choreography seemed a little jarring, because it was a little more unexpected given the setup.  But it was fun, and impressive, given all the orchestra is on stage, it would seem the likelihood of tempo issues would be higher, and well, I didn't spot any. 
"Dear Evan Hansen" turned out to be the perfect ender of my two months with more musicals.  (I'm a little sad that five whole musicals is a lot. I must work on this.)  Interestingly, as I read through the cast and crew, someone who had worked in or on every other musical I had seen this year  - including "Hamilton" and "Fun Home" was part of "Dear Evan Hansen".  At the Kreeger theatre at Arena, the orchestra pit is actually hanging over the edge of the stage.  I don't know if they will keep that layout when they move, but it was interesting.  They also made use of screens since much of the plot revolves around how social media expands and supports our human need to connect to tragedy.  I always have trouble summarizing such musicals in a way that doesn't sound depressing and weird (I think singing and dancing will help you dive into a lot of sad and/or weird topics you may not want to see a straight play about).  But essentially, high schooler Evan Hansen has been advised to write letters to himself about how his day is going.  When one is found on the body of a fellow student who commits suicide, the parents assume that it is a suicide note addressed to Evan who they didn't even realize was so close to their son.  Feeling that telling the truth would hurt them, Evan goes along with this, and then, well, things get a little out of control. The performances were great, we were close enough to see them spit.  And I'm thrilled that they are moving and have hopes that this will do well enough to create a cast album so that I can listen to it over and over.