October 27, 2007

America's Most Smartest Model - Episode 3 Recap

So much happened in this week's episode I've decided to follow the stories of two of the models who as far as I'm concerned are the stars of the show - Andre and Mandy Lynn

Andre
The episode begins where the last episode ended. The remaining models are celebrating with drink. Angela is doing body shots off of Blond Rachel. The boys are pretending like they're not more into each other than they are the women. And Andre is in the kitchen all by himself studying the encyclopedia hidden by VJ and Blond Rachel. He's studying it quite hard so it really must be the encyclopedia with all the information in it. (see last week's recap).

Those silly models. In an attempt to be friendly, they invited Andre over to party with him. He refused and took their kind invitation as a direct assault on his Sovietness. Daniel was offended by Andre being offended and he started blowing air onto the fire that is Andre's temper. What started out as a benign invitation to drink turned out to be a full out battle consisting of Andre's hyperbolic criticism of the United States government and Daniel's (look who's come out of the closet) hissy fit. I guess everybody went to bed angry and by everybody I mean Andre.

The next morning, Daniel was explaining to two of the women in the house exactly why Andre is such a jerk. Apparently, according to Daniel, there have been a lot of changes in the Soviet Union that Andre doesn't seem to know about. Also, according to Daniel, Andre is abusive to not only Daniel but to other women as well. This conversation was all in ear shot of a slowly waking Andre. The house may look big on the outside, but it's very small on the inside. Daniel's comments meant another well developed tantrum from Andre and more hissing and whining from Daniel.

The Edge Challenge
All these good feelings followed the models into the Edge Challenge. I'll describe this as best as I can. There were plates of food in front of each model consisting of something healthy and something junky. For every question the models answered correctly they got to eat something healthy. If they answered a bonus question correctly they could give their junky food to another model. There was palpable fear in the models eyes as they were confronted with the possibility of eating chocolate cake, Twinkies and pancakes.

After camera speaking about his muscle-inducing diet of . . ."eggs and rice and beans and stuff" Andre answered his first questions correctly and promptly gave his enormous piece of chocolate cake to Daniel. When Daniel answered his questions correctly he didn't give his cake to Andre but to poor Jesse, who is eternally struggling with his weight. (To play up his weight problem even more, the editors left in a nice three shot of Jesse shirtless and flabby with Andre and Daniel in the foreground). Why Daniel did this I'll never know. He said it was because this is a competition. But I think he did because secretly he has a crush on Andre and doesn't want to continue alienating a possible love interest.

But that didn't stop the other models from piling the cake on Andre's plate.

Mandy Lynn
It was during this challenge that the focus of the episode shifted from Andre to Mandy Lynn.

Mandy Lynn answered her question wrong. Ben Stein asked her which weighed more - a ton of feathers or a ton of rocks. Guess what she said. Yes. She said a ton of rocks. Her punishment was to eat a piece of chocolate cake. The Edge Challenge came to a crashing halt because Mandy Lynn would not eat her cake. She claimed it was because she has a small tummy, that she had eaten enough, that she couldn't eat another bite. The truth is she didn't eat any of it and like any good girl from Long Island with an eating disorder (I went to school with lots of them) she quit the contest instead of having to ingest something that might actually put meat on her bones.

Dropping out of the Edge Challenge meant she wouldn't be able to participate in the Callback Challenge. Awwwwwwwww.

When it came time to participate in the Callback Challenge Mandy Lynn found a note from Mary Alice with two boxes of hair coloring. It was time for Mandy Lynn to dye her hair one solid color. Mandy Lynn was surprised that she had to do it herself. She was expecting a stylist. But instead of dying her hair which I suspect she found too challenging because of all the directions and stuff, she was going to be a good sport and participate in the Callback Challenge anyway.

Callback Challenge
What was the Callback Challenge? The contestants had to work out with Gilad - the king of TV workout shows. Whoever won this challenge would win a spot in one of Gilad's workout videos from Hawaii in addition to an automatic pass to next week's show. As the models took their place on the workout mat, poor Mandy Lynn had to stand on the lawn. As thin as she is, there was still no room for her. Andre and Blond Rachel were grousing how hard it was to work out on a full stomach. (It probably wouldn't surprise you to know that most of the models were exercising on full tummies because of how badly they did in the Edge Challenge).

They all managed to get through the workout - all except Mandy Lynn who got tired rather quickly (probably because, I suspect, she never eats) and decided to retire back to the house and dye her hair. You could see the disappointment on Mary Alice's face as she looked up from her champagne glass. Did I mention that Mary Alice was sitting on a chaise with a glass of bubbly while the models humiliated themselves for the sake of this challenge?

I don't like this Mary Alice.

Anyway, in the end Brett beat Aussie Rachel in a one on one endurance competition for the Hawaiian video spot. A lot of bitter not-so-macho whining ensued. Those boys can be such bitches.

In the end Mandy Lynn was sent home with her new brown hair. But not before upsetting Ben Stein's balance. He was literally struck dumb by her boobs at one point of the elimination segment. It was so bad that Mary Alice had to take over from Ben, redirecting her cruel spotlight onto the slightly overweight Jesse. Before sending Mandy Lynn home, she managed to completely break down both Blond Rachel , for being too skinny and too weak, and Jesse who was in tears because he just can't please Mary Alice.

Mandy Lynn was this week's loser. I thought that was mean of Mary Alice to make her change her hair color if she knew she was sending Mandy Lynn home. I mean we all knew it was coming when she wouldn't eat that fakakta chocolate cake. Mandy Lynn was happy with who she is. She liked her terrible two tone hair. Why did Mary Alice make her dye it? That was just mean.

Tiffany Taylor
Something about Mandy Lynn's two tone hair made me nostalgic for a doll I had as a kid. Do you remember the Tiffany Taylor doll? She had blonde hair but if you twisted her scalp, she had brown hair. She was almost 20" tall and she came with a flowing, gold, sparkly evening gown. If I looked in my parent's attic I bet I could find it.

October 24, 2007

Days 4 and 5 - Diet

Day Four was a good day for me. I rode 9 miles on my bike. I ate most of the food I was supposed to eat. I made something delicious for dinner. I cooked chicken with spinach in my wok. It was very good. Quinoa was the side dish. I was disappointed to learn after I started preparing the Quinoa that it is equal to brown rice in terms of carbohydrates. 1/3 of a cup of Quinoa cooked equals 1 of my 7 allotted starches. Fortunately, I had enough starches leftby dinner time, that I could gobble up a decent portion. But I guess healthy alternatives are just as fattening as other healthy alternatives.

Day Five is going okay as well. Although I'm having trouble figuring out where I'm going to eat being that I have to eat outside my own kitchen. I'm actually behind schedule on eating. I honestly believe I may not have been eating enough before I went on this plan. Or maybe I was eating too much fats but not a lot of food? or too many carbs? I don't know. But I do know I'm starving right now. I've not had much to eat.

I spoke with the nutritionist about the days when I don't consume all of my calories and she strongly advised against it. I'm eating 1409 calories a day right now. Apparently, as I lose weight, I'm going need to consume less than that. This was my first time hearing about this - on my cell phone, standing outside the August Wilson Theater. If I don't eat all my daily calories early in the game, my body is going to get used to that small amount making later weight loss more difficult.

I just want to meet my first goal. If I can meet my first goal, I'll be a happy camper. The first goal is to lose 7 - 10% of my current weight.

That's going to take me months. Ugh. What have I signed up for?

October 21, 2007

Day 3 of Diet - Finished

I know this isn't very exciting but writing this down is helping me keep track of everything. Blogging about it helps me organize my thoughts about the diet.

On my diet I can eat 7 starches, 5 veggies, 2 Fruits, 2 Milks, 8 Meat, 5 fat.

Breakfast
1 bowl cream of wheat = 1.5 starches
1 hard boiled egg = 1 meat
1 small banana = 1 fruit
That left 5.5 starches, 5 veggies, 1 fruit, 2 milks, 7 meats and 5 fats for the day

Mid Morning snack
1 piece of bread with 3 slices of sausolito turkey = 1 starch plus 1 meat
1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds = 1 fat
1 green tea energy drink which sucked up 2 starch requirements thank you very much
That left 3.5 starches, 5 veggies, 1 fruit, 2 milks, 6 meats and 4 fats for the day

Lunch
1 grilled panini sandwich with cheese and salami 2 starch plus 3 meats counting both cheese and meat - I gave 3 fats to this meal, because of the salami which was greasy
That left .5 starches, 5 veggies, 1 fruit, 2 milks, 2 meats and 1 fat for the day

Dinner
2 very small steaks which I counted as 2 meats because they were an ounce or less each
a lot of lettuce, asparagus and broccoli.
I may have gone over on the veggie requirement for the day, but the nutritionist said that it's okay to go over on veggies because 1/2 cup of cooked veggies is only 25 calories. I probably had about 4 cups of veggies. I love vegetables.
1 glass of milk
1 apple

which leaves .5 starches, 0 veggies, 0 fruit, 1 milk, 0 meats and 1 fat for the day

I'm short 1 or 2 fats depending on how much fat was in that salami and 1 milk. I burned through my starches too quickly today. While I liked the hot cereal for breakfast, I may save the starches for later in the day.

October 20, 2007

Day 2 of Diet - Finished

(12:28 am - since I wrote this post post I've eaten quite a bit more - 2 T of pumpkin seeds for two of my fats; popcorn for the starches; an apple for one of my fruits and 1 glass of skim milk)

I'm done with my second day of my modified food plan. I definitely did not eat enough.

It's 11:30 pm and I still have to eat
4 starches
2 veggies
1.5 fruits
1 milk
1 meat
4 fats

I've pretty much eaten my normal amount of Saturday food too. It's funny to think that maybe I haven't been eating enough in general.

Of course I won't eat all the above tonight. I'll probably just have some popcorn and call it a day. I'll just have to eat more tomorrow.

Day 1 of Diet - Finished

I successfully made it through the first day of my diet. Although, I don't think I ate enough food to tell you the truth. The counting thing is more confusing than you think.

Today I'm trying a different counting system see if it goes more easily.

I am going to do this. I am going to follow this diet. I am going to lose weight.

October 19, 2007

Attitude Problem

This mannaquin has an attitude problem.

Nutritionally Speaking

food1I met with a nutritionist yesterday who told me some good and some bad things. One of the bad things she told me about was my percentage of body fat which is a high number which I will not share with you until after it's gone down because it's just too embarrassing. The good thing she told me was that I have achievable weight loss goals and that if I follow the plan she gave me I will accomplish those goals.

The very good news came from my blood test results. My glucose level is 100 down from last year's number of 103. I always worry that I'll contract diabetes in my later life, so even though the number is still a little high, it's improving. My triglicerides were 111 which is much better than I thought it would be considering my weight. My cholesterol was 168; 41 good, 105 bad I pay close attention to this number too as we all do I'm sure. Being very old is no picnic especially if you have problems like high cholesterol.

And I am definitely immune to chicken pox. I had that checked because another doctor told me earlier this year, that I wasn't immune to chicken pox. I was right to question that. I had a very severe case as a baby and I've been exposed to chicken pox through out my life without a problem. So obviously I'm immune to it. It does make me wonder if the doctor who told I wasn't immune to chicken pox was looking at the correct results. DON'T BE AFRAID TO QUESTION YOUR DOCTORS.

The plan is confusing. It involves food exchanges meaning I have a finite amound of food I can eat in different categories - like meats and vegetables and fats and starches - and the exchanges correspond to those numbers. For example, the granola bar I ate this morning counts as 2 starches and one fat.

The nutritionist said I seemed determined and she felt confident that I will accomplish my goal. I want to lose 50 pounds and I gave myself a year. The diet is designed to help me lose 1 pound a week, so in 52 weeks, I should be able to lose the weight I want to lose.

I may or may not be blogging about this experience. I don't know.

You all already know I'm 40 years old. You already know I'm married. Of course, there are plenty of things you don't know about me.

I'll see how it goes.

Seriously Noisy

Since we've come back from our vacation, the building across the street has been undergoing renovation work.

The work is very noisy.

Subway Val

A Very Good Recap of America's Most Smartest Model

One day, I hope to be able to write as well as my friend over at DSO who has written yet another fantabulous recap of America's Most Smartest Model.

Check it out!

October 17, 2007

Get Well Soon

My friend's dog is sick. I hope she gets better soon. She's a sweet dog.

Trivia Trivia Trivia

I planned my schedule this week to have Wednesday night free so I could attend a pub quiz at Dempsey's. That's not what ended up happening. Last week, I requested 8 shifts of work.
Tuesday night, Wednesday matinee, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday matinee and evening, and Sunday matinee and evening. I got seven shifts.

Monday night had been in the works for a couple of weeks. Jon and I went with our friends Jonathan and Tony to Last Exit for their bimonthly game. That game has higher stakes. It's $5 to play and most of the money collected goes to the first and second place winners. We came in third having lost the tie breaker for second place. There was almost $400 in the kitty so that would have been a great first or second prize. But alas we came in third and won drink tickets which are pretty worthless to me because I usually just drink water or seltzer.

Last night was unexpected. I hardly ever have off on Tuesday nights anymore. So I went to Tuesday Night Trivia at the Baggot Inn. My friend and her husband were hosting. It was fun. There were four of us and we won first place with a score of 47 out of 50 points. The prize was a $25 bar tab. The cup of coffee I drank on the way to the bar for the game cost me in sleep. I could not sleep worth a damn last night.

So after my shift this afternoon I was pretty tired - from lack of sleep. And I decided NOT to go to the Wednesday night game at Dempsey's which is too bad because I've been planning to go since last week. It's a shame. The whole point was to get scouted for Cash Cab. Several of my friends have been on it and they've been scouted at pub quizzes.

I don't when I'll have another opportunity to go three nights in a row.

October 16, 2007

America's Most Smartest Model - Episode 2

1666
It's morning time and the groggy models are waking up. Cut to Mandy Lynn. "I want a title. I want a title. I wanna be America's Most Smartest Model - hiccup giggle." Cut to VJ telling the camera that "they" changed the combinations for the locks on the bathroom and refrigerator doors. The number MDCLXVI shows up on the screen while VJ sits down with pen and paper to try to figure what these letters could possibly mean. Andre jumps in and tries to explain to Pickel that M is 1,000. Cut to Andre. "Come on folks. Locks on the fridge and bathroom. Didn't I just leave Russia?" I got the impression that even ANDRE THE GIANT EGO had some trouble figuring out the code. Scene I ends when VJ successfully unlocks the bathroom door for his morning piss.

Jesse heads downstairs to the gym. Apparently he's feeling the pressure of having only a 2-pack instead of a 12 pack like the other guys in the house. He's determined to firm up and win the $100,000. But he didn't say he wanted to firm up to be a model. You have to trust me when I tell you that this is going come up again and again and again as the other models try to get Jesse eliminated. They'll claim that he DOESN'T REALLY want to be a model; that he is there for the WRONG REASONS. This is the glue that binds Cris Abrego shows. There's always one person who's not there for the right reason.

Jesse's workout scene is the perfect segue for what comes next. We see the bathingsuit clad models sitting poolside when Daniel comes out with Mary Alice Stephenson's note du jour which, she informs the camera, she gives to the models every day so they know what their upcoming challenge is going to be. (I'm glad that Mary Alice explained that the note du jour happens every day because I wasn't sure based on the name. I'm telling you, she could be a contestant). The note condescendingly starts with the quote - from noted philosopher Francis Bacon - "for knowledge itself is power".

The models were divided up into co-ed teams of two:
Pickel and Aussie Rachel (cut to Pickel who couldn't be more thrilled because he likes her)
Andre and Lisa (to which Andre replied "Who's Lisa?" Cut to Lisa saying how much it sucks to be his partner because he's crazy)
Brett and Angela
Jesse and Erika
V.J. and Blond Rachel (she's excited because he has a nice body AND he's so sexy)
Daniel and Mandy Lynn (cut to M.L. standing topless next to chubby Jesse who is not topless. Mandy Lynn is happy to be paired with Daniel because he is "one of the most smartest people in the house)

The models have an hour to study before they have to meet with Mary Alice in the living room and all hell breaks loose. VJ and Blond Rachel monopolize and then hide the one encyclopedia with ALL the information. Is it likely that one encyclopedia has ALL the information? No. But they don't know that. Poor things. They really are quite dumb. A large argument breaks out. And everyone is really mad at them. Much pouting ensues and Rachel and VJ have established themselves as sneaky and underhanded. Well. Until they all make up and become friends again tomorrow.

Puzzle Me Pretty
The contestants walk into the living room and find a board with different subjects kind of like a Jeopardy board but with prizes instead of dollar amounts. The prizes are clothing, makeup packages, props, hair stylist etc. - things that they'll need for the Call Back challenge the following day. They have to answer questions correctly to win prizes otherwise they will be naked at the next day's challenge. The better the prize, the harder the question. Jesse is understandably concerned.

Pickel starts strong by identifying Gold from the chemical symbol AU and wins doctors and nurses outfits. Mandy Lynn chooses a question from the WHAT IT STANDS for category and identifies GOP as Governors and Presidents. She took too long apparently, prompting derision from Blond Rachel who accuses her of taking too much time. This was funny because later in the challenge Blond Rachel told Ben Stein that Napoleon's last name was Pierre and it was Mandy Lynn who supplied the right answer, stealing Rachel's prize.

There's too much that happened during the game for me to cover. This is a blog post, not a novel. I'll sum up. Jesse and Erika won a bed and finger paints. They have to be naked for their shoot. Andre was angry at Lisa for winning lipstick instead of clothing because they already had a make up kit. Everyone else did okay. It wasn't as humiliating an experience as I was hoping for but I was glad the models were able to answer basic trivia-like questions, with a couple of exceptions of course.

That night the models started planning for the next day. VJ and Rachel practiced poses, clearly demonstrating that they are attracted to each other (for now). Andre and Lisa went outside to practice and Andre couldn't have been nastier. Lisa wanted to warm up by the outdoor fire which led Andre to accuse Americans of being weak losers that he obviously hates. They fought and we were left wondering if these two crazy kids will ever be able to work together as a team.

The Photo Shoot
The next morning Mary Alice Stephenson wakes the models up and then makes them jump into a pool. I'm not sure why. When they get out of the pool they put on robes and then get into buses they can go to the shoot with absolutely nothing. But jumping into the pool was completely unnecessary. They really could have just put on robes in their rooms and then gotten onto the buses.

Pickel
and Aussie Rachel ended up practically naked for their photo shoot using only a stethoscope and a nurses hat from their prize of doctor/nurse clothing. But they had a huge advantage in that they were able to get their makeup done. The shoot went well for the most part. Andre and Lisa were able to work their tension into their photo. VJ and Rachel used their sexual tension to create a pretty picture. Erika and Jesse had problems. Jesse's big belly (again, their words not mine) made posing awkward and the two of them produced the weakest photo.

In the end, Pickel and Aussie Rachel won an automatic call back to next week's show. The two worst photos were produced by Daniel/Mandy Lynn and Jesse/Erika. Guess who went home. I bet you're thinking Mandy Lynn. Well. So did all the models. But you would be wrong. So now you're thinking, it was probably Jesse because of his terrible TWO-PACK stomach. you would be wrong again. It was decided that Erika just didn't have what it takes to be a model. In her exit interview, she said that she's going to prove that short Latinas can make it in the modeling industry.

I wish her luck. She was probably one of the sweeter contestants on the show. But it is a contest and a sweet personality isn't going to keep you on a reality show where bitchy personalities loom large.

A Letter to Whoopi Goldberg About Quitting Smoking

I've been watching The View from yesterday because I was interested in seeing the Hilary Clinton segment (don't ask me why. I don't even like Hilary) but I got sucked into Whoopi Goldberg's segment on smoking. She was filmed talking to several people working for The View to see how they quit, in order to guage how difficult it might be for her. I hope that she googles herself and finds this post.
-------------------------------------
Dear Whoopi.

I was happy to hear that you would like to quit smoking. But it will be difficult. You just have to do it. Don't TRY to do it. Just do it.

I smoked for a long time, about 18 years, before I decided to quit. It's been a little over three years. I told myself that I wasn't a smoker and that smoking was unnatural for me. That was enough. It was a struggle. But I did it cold turkey. I just had to train myself not to smoke.

Perhaps you've heard that the craving to smoke goes away after three days. Don't listen to anyone who says that. If you've been smoking a long time, that's total shite. You will want to smoke every day. The cravings are intense and they last for a very long time, but they do pass. Don't bother fighting them, just let the feeling move through you. The cravings start to decrease in time and intensity. Eventually you'll spend so much less time craving you'll forget you were ever a smoker.

Now that I've said that, I'll contradict myself a little bit. There were times when the craving took over so badly that I just had to have one. The other secret to my success was that I would smoke one cigarette every two months or so.

Because you're human, you'll have to give into it every now and then, but when you do after months of not smoking, that cigarette is going to make you feel sooooo sick. But it will satisfy. It will sustain you while you continue NOT to smoke. The first one I had after months of not smoking made me sick to my stomach. But even those occassional slips will pass. It takes a LONG time to completely quit smoking. I don't mean to be discouraging but you have to be realistic.

There is no mystery. There is no secret. There is no trick. JUST DON'T SMOKE. And eventually you won't need to smoke anymore.

Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself if you do slip, but stick to it. And you'll be golden.

Remember, you are not naturally a smoker. Smoking is not natural. Think of that everytime you want to buy a pack.

JUST DON'T SMOKE.

October 15, 2007

Footfall

Here's another less than creative film I shot of my feet.

video

A Short Film

Going through some old photos I found this short movie filmed on our old camera. I like it because it reminds of the kinds of films our parents use to shoot on their little 8mm cameras.

video

Parasite Pals

I was just looking through some pictures we took on our trip to San Francisco in 2005 and I noticed that I take a lot of pictures of odd things. I love taking pictures but I end up taking more pictures of things than I do of Jon and me where the things are.


For example, in Chinatown, among a billion other things I took pictures of, I shot these Parasite Pals. What are they? I remember posting about them when we came back from our trip but I complete forgot what they were. Parasite Pals are characters that appear on merchandise. Weird, huh?

October 12, 2007

Fall Weather At Last

Autumn has finally settled in.

I celebrated by going on a 10 mile bike ride with my husband. And it felt good to finally be able to exercise in nice cool weather. The ride was challenging. Not for Jon. He's gotten so strong from all the riding he did this summer - he doesn't mind the heat as much me - that he takes hills with little to no effort. But I still have to huff and puff my way up even the shortest hills.

But it will get better. I'll get back to where I was in the Spring and hopefully, if the winter stays mild like it has been over the last few years, I should be able to lose the weight that I gained this summer and more.

October 10, 2007

Hump Day

It's the middle of the week. Hoorah!! And I'm in between two work shifts. I would love it if there were somewhere I could nap for a couple of hours.

I used to have a very, very good friend that lived in the city. It was someone I grew up with. When we were friends and she lived in the city, hers was a place I could go if I needed to crash for a couple of hours.

I miss her. We were friends for a long time. Mostly, I miss the idea of her. In the end, she wasn't a very good friend to me. Everyone I met through her ended up either ignoring me or hurting me. And she used to hurt me as well. I trusted her opinion about everything - even those opinions that didn't favor me - and as a result, she undercut my confidence for years.

She wasn't always like that. Sometimes she was really cool. I learned a lot from her. She introduced me to many interesting things.

But she would always tell me things like "you're pretty for an average person" if I ever asked her how I looked. Or if I'd shown her something I'd written or photographed she would say "that's not bad if you like mediocrity". Her approval meant a lot to me but I never really got it.

It took me years but I eventually caught on to her confidence undermining and friendship sabotoging behavior and I stopped being friends with her. My life actually improved after that.

The reason I'm thinking about her now is because someone I've recently become friends with over the last few years, wrote an interesting post about people who we love who are missing from our lives.

It's very well written and adequately expresses that feeling of loss brought up by seeing or hearing something that was introduced to you by someone who is missing in your life.

Jon

Soft Focus Jon

October 08, 2007

America's Most Smartest Model - Episode 1 Recap - Balls, Cherries, Balloons, Tires

So. Like there was this show on like TV last night where like all these models and stuff compete to see who's like the bestest and most smartest model and like we watched it and stuff and we like laughed cause it was like funny. You know?

It's my theory that if I watch enough VH1 programming produced by Cris Abrego parts of my brain will melt resulting in a self-inflicted lobotomy.

The premise of the show is simple - to humiliate models in order to make viewers at home feel superior. Although after listening to Ben Stein and his partner in crime Mary Alice Stephenson (who could qualify as one of the lacklustre contestants herself) we are supposed to believe that America's Most Smartest Model is earnestly looking for the contestant who possesses the right combination of looks and brains for a prize of $100,000.

The contestants are a mixed bag of nuts. Some of the models have just enough intelligence to operate their arms and legs while others are skilled enough to use four syllable words (correctly)in their regular speech. Actually, some of the models are quite smart as we learned during the introductions.

Several of the models profited from the introductions. They told Ben Stein about their academic experience and Mary Alice about their modeling resumes. After the intros, the contestants moved into their house where they discovered key coded locks. Their first test was to find the answers that would unlock the bathroom and refrigerator (year Columbus discovered America, etc). Then they participated in a spelling bee the winner of which gained an advantage. Danny was told in advance what to study for for the final challenge. And then for the final challenge the models had to walk like models while listing objects from assigned lists.

Here are some of the more memorable characters:

Daniel
VH1  America's Most Smartest Model: Dan
Daniel is one of those contestants with an advanced degree. He won the spelling bee by spelling Bacchanalian correctly and by doing so earned an "EDGE". He was informed that his subject was Dinosaurs which he successfully named during his walking and talking challenge. He's really cute too.

Jesse
VH1  America's Most Smartest Model: Jesse
Jesse seems pretty smart but he's not quite a model yet. He finished second in the spelling bee and he's pretty good looking. However, he was told several times in last night's episode that he has to lose weight. I didn't see it.

Mandy Lynn
VH1  America's Most Smartest Model: Mandy
Mandy Lynn looks like a porn star and has done nude modeling. Ben Stein thinks she's really pretty but Mary Alice thinks she looks slutty. For her walking and talking challenge, she had to list objects that were round. So she repeated "balls, cherries, balloons and tires" over and over again through her challenge because she didn't want to keep track of too much. She's really sweet, but she might be the dumbest person on the show, in spite of her claim that she builds websites.

There were a few other characters who stood out.

There's Blond Rachael who isn't very smart at all and not that pretty. Although she is thin and blond. But between you and me she looks a little too old to be starting a modeling career.

There's Pickel - short for Jeff Pickel who has ADHD and a 135 IQ which he was quite proud of although I myself would not brag about my 135 IQ. Mine is lower than that but still, it doesn't seem like a high enough number for bragging rights. He is also very handsome.

There was a Russian guy whose name I can't remember. My friend thinks he's faking the Russian accent although I think he's legit. But we both agreed that he was cast as the BIG JERK on the show that we'll keep wishing gets eliminated but will mysteriously survive every elimination. He has a great body but a really lousy personality. He also looks like he's been punched in the face once a year since puberty.

In the end, the models who were sent home were Gaston and Victoria. Gaston and Victoria both did badly during the walk and talk segment. Apparently Gaston didn't impress the judges when he listed DIRTY PENIS as one of many things that smell bad. He also walked like he had a load in his pants which was also not very impressive. Victoria was the first one to spell a word incorrectly in the spelling bee and she couldn't list a European city outside of Italy.

I'll watch again next week.

October 06, 2007

Brussels Dinner and Morning Walk

Continuing on with our tour of Brussels, Jon and I strolled the area surrounding the Grand Place until we found a place to have dinner. We settled on a restaurant called the Roue D'Or for some traditional Belgian food. I liked their decor. You can see they painted the restaurant in a style inspired by Magritte.
Dinner

Jon ordered the duck confit while I ordered chanterelles. I was excited about the chanterelle mushrooms which are very expensive in the states (meaning I've never really eaten them before). But I was disappointed that I ordered them. They looked good but they were smothered in garlic and butter and I couldn't really appreciate their flavor. And I found that Jon's duck was WAY too salty. The restaurant was in Jon's guidebook so I was expecting the food to be better. I have to admit that it was good to finally sit down and have a meal. But I should have gotten a salad.

Either way I was content to be sitting in a fancy restaurant in a foreign country on the day before my birthday. During dinner Jon told me that he wants to get me a dog for my birthday. I'm still thinking about the breed. I'm leaning toward either a Norwich Terrier or a Shihtzu - both known for their adorable appearance and affectionate personalities. That news made me happy as you can see below. (That's funny. I'm wearing that shirt right now).
Dinner

The morning of my birthday we were scheduled to depart for Bruges on an early afternoon train so we went for a walk around Brussels looking at the cool murals. We even had enough time to check out one church.

Here are two murals that I particularly liked.

This one was clever because of the use of tromp l'oeil while not exactly being real tromp l'oeil because it's obviously a mural. I guess no one really believes tromp l'oeil anyway but now I'm rambling and that's not very interesting.
Morning Murals

The other mural I really liked was this one by Frank Pe.
Morning Murals

There was a Notre Dame du Bon Secours that we visited - every big city seems to have a church named Notre Dame but that's enough about Brussels.

We packed our bags, checked out of our hotel and walked to the train station for the next leg of our trip.
Travelling To Bruge

This Stupid, %#$&~* Weather

Update 12:53 pm- Since I posted this morning, the humidity has dropped to 61% but now I have to leave for work.

This weather is making me nuts. I can't exercise if the humidity is too high. Is this an excuse? Yes and no. The dense air interferes with my breathing and makes exercising less enjoyable than it already is. And I like breathing. I find it useful when trying to get oxygen to the limbs I need for bike riding.

I was riding my bike with Jon in the spring and I dropped weight. But this summer has been too humid. I gained back the weight I lost, well some of it, and I've been waiting for the weather to cool off so I can start riding again.

This morning, the humidity is already up to 88%. I used to welcome rain as a break from the humidity but lately rain has just been bringing MORE humidity. In New York City, the weather stays humid even when it IS raining. You're thinking isn't rain 100% humidity? I used to think that too. But I guess the air can still hold moisture even if moisture is falling from the air? Does that make sense?

Even it doesn't make sense, I'm sure you understand that I'm explaining New York City is very humid.

And I wish it would stop already.

October 05, 2007

Brussels by Twilight

Following a nice, restful nap in our very peaceful hotel room, Jon and I strolled about the city at twilight to check out the local area and find a place to eat for dinner.

One of the first things Jon took me to see was the Manneken Pis. This is a famous attraction described in our guidebook as disappointing once you've seen it. And it was. They say it's disappointing because people expect the statue to bigger than it is. It was NOT as exciting as seeing the Bosch painting, that's for sure.
Manneken Pis or The Pissing Boy

More exciting for me was the gift shop nearby that sold knockoffs of the peeing boy.
Souvenirs

After visiting the peeing boy statue we stopped for a Belgian waffle because neither of us had eaten in HOURS. I love the image of this pouty girl who made our snack. She's probably happy to have a job but thinking that she's not going to be there forever. She might be think about her senior year of high school or her first year of college. But she's more than likely sick of dealing with the public.
Waffles Anyone?

We continued our stroll into the Grand Square down this elegant street that had a one of many beautiful murals based on Belgian comics and the most bizarre statue I've seen of Van Gogh.
Vincent Van Gogh

Eventually we wound our way to the great square. If you click on the below picture you'll see more pictures of the square. It was quite lovely.
Town Square

Most interesting for me was this statue of a local hero who recovered Brussels from the Flemish. It's surface appears worn because people line up to rub the statue for luck. Long after I took this photo we went back to the statue so I could touch it when no one was looking.
Lucky Statue

I know I'm dragging out this first day, but we did so much that I want to document it all so I don't forget it. The next posts will be about our dinner and the morning after.

October 04, 2007

Brussels

We spent our first day of vacation wandering around Brussels. Because we arrived so early, we couldn't check in yet. Our hotel was very strict about that, for reasons I still don't understand. This was tough because neither of us had slept on our 7 hour red eye flight and we both needed a nap. But we busied ourselves with a visit to the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Belgium.

We saw some amazing pieces. The first painter we saw walking into the galleries was by Heironymous Bosch. I took several pictures of his masterpiece, The Temptation of Saint Anthony. This theme is one I hadn't before seen in paintings but now I am fascinated by it. We saw another work based on this theme in a French museum later on. What's amazing about this work is the utter imagination shown by the painter to express the theme. Here are some of the parts I liked.

Here someone is getting stabbed in his face which is also a rearend.
The Temptation of St. Anthony

And these are two particularly surreal abstracts
The Temptation of St. AnthonyThe Temptation of St. Anthony

This is a painting that I found particularly appealing but unfortunately I don't remember the artist. And the museum website is no help.

I also saw for the first time paintings by both Brueghel the Elder and his son. I didn't photograph these paintings because I was intimidated by the guard sitting in the room and the sheer number of people crowding around to look at the fine details of each painting. It could also have been that I was too tired to lift my hands to take a picture.

We travelled deep into the bowels of the museum to view thier most famous piece. It was literally five floors underground. And that painting would be The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David. We had so much trouble finding the painting that I was too tired to enjoy it sadly. But Jon was happy. And now I'm happy I've seen it in hindsight.

This is a view of Brussels from the top of the hill up which we marched to visit the museum. Our hotel was near that great spire in the distance.


And this is the first shot I took of Brussels as we made our way from the train station to our hotel which we were finally allowed to check into at 2pm.


Before we spent our day in Brussels I would never have believed that two people could see and do so much in one day. After we took a little nap, we continued exploring the city. That post is forthcoming.

Gobsmacked

Gobsmacked is my favorite new expression. I've been watching some reality show programming on BBC America and the word Gobsmacked comes up all of the time.

According to dictionary.com Gobsmacked means utterly astounded.

It's a great word. Don't you think?

October 03, 2007

Paul Williams

Last night I saw Paul Williams and his wife at the Drowsy Chaperone. I wasn't quite sure it was him. I remember the chubby faced Paul Williams when he made guest appearances on The Love Boat. But was reassured of my sighting when I got home and did some research.

He looked really good. He is better looking now than when he was younger and his face is much thinner.

If you're not sure who he is, here is a link to his website and to his wiki page.

And if you're too lazy to read those he wrote a little song that we ALL love called

The Rainbow Connection
Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.

Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it,
and look what it's done so far.

What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?

Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell, we know that it's probably magic....

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.

I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.

Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.

La, la la, La, la la la, La Laa, la la, La, La la laaaaaaa

October 01, 2007

Happy Birthday Jon

Jon's birthday was yesterday. (Happy Birthday Sweetie).
Happy Birthday Jon

On Saturday, I waited patiently for his departure so I could spend the day preparing a special dinner for him. We had to celebrate early because we had a bigger celebration for our friend yesterday.

Here's the menu.

Appetizer
Shredded carrots with a dijon mustard vinaigrette

Entree
Roasted chicken with pita stuffing
Saffron rice
Asparagus

Salad
Mesclun with dijon mustard vinaigrette

Dessert
Angel food cake with chocolate frosting topped with kiwi

With dinner I served a Riesling from Alsace. I decorated the table with a 1/2 dozen small sunflowers and I used our China for the first time.

I was actually going to make a beautiful creamy potato/asparagus soup but the weather was quite warm on Saturday and the apartment was infernally hot because of all the roasting and baking, so I served it with the chicken.

Bday CakeAnd I ended up making two cakes. The first one didn't come out so good. I used a muffin mix in a loaf pan, which technically would have been fine, but I buttered the loaf pan and then lined it with wax paper. The wax paper fused itself to the cake and burned because of the butter. So, I trimmed off the yucky burned paper and cut it into brownies. For the bundt cake, I sprayed Pam and used NO wax paper. The result was much better, as you can see. But don't be that impressed. Both cakes were from mixes.

In the end, we really didn't have too much room for the salad.

We had to walk off the meal a bit before eating the cake.