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“Women in business don’t cry, my dear.”

la Martha I watched the first episode of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart because I heart Martha. (Judging from their opening-day outfits, I think that the show’s contestants heart her, too. If you were to cut a swatch from each seafoam green skirt and Wedgwood blue necktie, you would have the beginnings of a Living feature on decorating with color.) I watched the second episode on the chance that it might be more entertaining than the premiere. It wasn’t, really, but I’m not sure that it’s the show’s fault.

I could not be more bored with reality TV. In fact, it’s not even just that I’m bored with it; it’s also that I’ve grown to find it embarrassing. The connection between reality TV and reality as we know it was always tenuous, but now it’s like the genre has transcended any attempt at verisimilitude. At this point, everyone who participates in reality TV has—presumably—consumed a great deal of reality TV. Contestants have learned how to be a reality-TV character, how to act like one is not acting. It makes me feel both weary and uncomfortable.

Even so, this show intrigued me because I would like to be doing what these reality-show contestants are doing. I don’t want to marry a millionaire, I don’t want to undergo a bunch of endurance tests on a desert island, I don’t want to be an ultimate fighter, but working for Martha Stewart is kind of a dream job. What this show is making me realize, though, is that working for Martha Stewart means working with people, and people are a pain in the ass. This show is reminding me just how much I like working from my kitchen home office.

Primarius, the “corporate” team (like you couldn’t tell they were corporate from the painfully cheesy, “aspirational” name they invented for themselves), has, so far, done an admirable job with the assignments they’ve been given. I cringe when I hear such words as “focus group” and “outsourcing,” but those suits really have got their shit together. I still wouldn’t want to work with them, though—I really do cringe when people use business-speak, and business people don’t like that—and watching their efficient, organized operation makes for incredibly uninteresting television.

The “creative” team, Matchstick, is a bunch of crybabies and contrarians and prima donnas, which means, of course, that they producers give them at least twice as much airtime as the competition. I realize that conflict is the goal of reality TV, but conflict is only as entertaining as the people involved in it, and this is nothing more than a bunch of emotional toddlers having temper tantrums. Jim—this show’s Puck—isn’t intriguingly nefarious or delightfully wicked or even hilariously offensive: He’s just a tool.

It’s a shame the producers cast an idiotic, coked-up (OK, probably not, but he certainly does give one the impression) douchebag to sow discord, because they have access to someone many members of the viewing public already love to hate: la Martha herself. The show really only comes alive when she’s on screen, and I think we’d see some Dynasty-style melodrama if she interacted more with her would-be protégés. On last night’s episode, one loser tried to distance herself from the latest Matchstick fiasco by telling Martha that she was so ashamed by their performance that she wanted to cry. Ms. Stewart rewarded her with a positively icy look and smoothly replied, “Cry and you’re out of here. Women in business don’t cry, my dear.”

It was chilling. It was real. It was a very good thing.

September 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Fantasy Fashion League: Season Opener

Heidi Klum in Dior As the jewel-encrusted stilettos and metallic strappy sandals hit the red carpet at the Emmys, the Fantasy Fashion League kicked off its inaugural season, and my team came out fighting. Shocking Pink—named in honor of Elsa Schiaparelli—is currently in third place on my league, and well within striking distance of the top slot.

Dior was Shocking Pink’s MVP, scoring significant points during the ceremony, and the design house promises to be a steady presence in the fashion press as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.

However, Sunday night, Shocking Pink was slightly stymied by a total lack of TV celebrities on the roster. Orange Is My New Pink, currently ranked first in my league, boasts queen of all media and very stylish young woman Jessica Simpson—she was one of my top draft picks, but I didn’t get her—and #2 team Shiny Pink Mary Janes has both Eva Longoria and Teri Hatcher. Nevertheless, now that this television-dominated event is behind us, I expect my celebrity players—Scarlett Johannson, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Hudson—to pick up some serious momentum.

September 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

History in the Making

I think I need a bathroom break?

Reuters - Wed Sep 14, 4:39 PM ET

U.S. President George W. Bush writes a note to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Security Council meeting at the 2005 World Summit and 60th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York September 14.

September 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Art of Exploitation

The Honeymoon Killers

Take a break from your busy day and stroll through this virtual gallery of exploitation movie posters. Some are disingenuously outraged, others are graphically delicious, and all of them are just delightful.


September 13, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hurricane Katrina Hall of Shame

I haven’t written anything about Hurricane Katrina. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because, at first, I was slow to grasp the true horror of the situation on the Gulf Coast, and because, once I did understand, I couldn’t think of anything that seemed worth saying. It’s apparent by now that many of America’s leaders had a similarly slow reaction time. It’s also clear that not having anything worth saying didn’t stop them from saying things. Daily Kos has put together a compendium of some of the most appalling things to come out of public mouths over the past couple of weeks.

I think it’s safe to say that, between singly out Trent Lott for a Presidential expression of sympathy and suggesting that the impoverished people of New Orleans are better off in the Astrodome than they were in their homes, George Bush and his mother have pretty much killed the concept of “compassionate” conservatism. The Hurricane Katrina Hall of Shame also contains a gem from Jeb, and various statements from Michael Chertoff, Michael Brown, and the gang that would be comic if they weren’t so tragic.

Donate to the Red Cross

September 12, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cats in Sinks

Pretty much every Friday since he read this article last year, my husband has asked me why I haven’t started cat blogging. It’s true that Miu Miu and Miss Piggy are outstanding felines—they possess both good looks and great personalities—and I have always appreciated Ted’s excellent and adorable relationship with the pets. However, while I am happy to swap amusing pet anecdotes and photos with my fellow cat fanciers, I do not assume that cat-related content is of interest to the general public.

Then Ted sent me a link to catsinsinks.com. So weirdly specific, yet so surprisingly universal. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and I hope you enjoy my own cat in a sink.

Miu Miu in the Sink

GOOD DEED: I realize that the human victims of Hurricane Katrina still need our help—the Red Cross is always a good choice for donations—but the animal lovers among you might like to know that Petfinder.com is accepting contributions for shelters and rescue organizations along the Gulf Coast.

September 9, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack