"http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Review Rendezvous: April 2007

Review Rendezvous

_________________________________________________________ Where the chic come to critique.

26 April 2007

What We're About...

With aspirations of being a generation of fabulous American journalists, we've created "Review Rendezvous," with late-breaking coverage of incredibly serious topics ranging from chick lit to cheese, Paint-By-Number sets to professional art, and "Grey's Anatomy" to gyrating dancers. Here at "Rendezvous" we stick to the main principle of critiquing: always attempting to hold a mirror up to life. Our mirror is a jeweled compact and we’re holding it up to anything in pop culture that catches our eyes. So come check out the scoop on books, restaurants and TV shows—we wouldn’t write anything that wasn’t worth your time to read.

24 April 2007

Tyler Windham: Man and Machine Create Art

Tyler Windham flips through windows on the screen manically, toggling between the full image and closer areas. He examines every speckle on the creature’s skin, every fold in its robe, his eyes roving to catch mistakes.

“I’m hardly ever satisfied, but sometimes you have to let go because of time constraints,” Windham says. His eyes are still on the screen.

“I wake up thinking about art, go to bed later than I should thinking about art,” he says. He is single minded in his pursuit. He wakes up, doodles, goes to class and then draws. He is mainly self-taught, ordering books and materials to learn new techniques.

His father was concerned with his choice until Windham showed him a drawing of a violin he had done. Now his father requests prints of all his work and no longer wants him to be an accountant.

“I can’t fail at being who I am,” he explains.

His Moleskin notebook is saturated with black ink. Because he is ambidextrous, Windham can work on two sketches simultaneously, his scrawl transforming each page.

His drawings start with black and white, perfecting the values that will be the basis for the rest of the picture. From a mass of black, he erases to form thumbnails of figures. He transfers one sketch to another document.

Windham adds colors with custom brushes, made from sponges, cotton balls and anything else he can find. He renders to add shadows and depth, then takes away the line art to reveal his work. After the image is completed on the computer he prints it on Archival art paper and bonds it to a wooden board. He tweaks with oils or acrylic and it becomes a painting.

“I can’t fail at being who I am,” he explains.

In his fifth year of college, he still feels as if he is leaving the party early. At 23, he is now enjoying the college atmosphere. His exit show, comprised of six or seven pieces, is just another opportunity to show his work to family, friends and other artists.

“It’s not really that big of a deal to me. It is, but it isn’t,” he corrects himself.

Windham plans to learn how to transform his sketches into three-dimensional renderings, making his work more relevant for books, movies and videogames. Even though he sketches are nearly perfect, this machine is never satisfied.

Stitches, the BFA drawing and painting exit show for Spring 2007 will run April 20-26 in Lamar Dodd. A reception will be held on April 21, from 7 to 9 p.m. Windham’s work is available online at www.tylerwindham.com.

-Sarah Sapinski

"The Guy Not Taken"—A Road Weiner Has Been Down Before

Meet Josie. She’s an overweight Jewish bookworm with daddy issues. Meet Ruth, a self-conscious struggling writer abandoned by her hunky co-worker. Or Jess, a woman so eager to win the heart of her down-on-his-luck real estate agent that she lets him sell her perfect apartment. Then there’s Marlie, who spends her lonely nights wondering if she chose the wrong husband. And we can’t forget Marion, who has to break the news of her divorce to her favorite son while touring college campuses.

All these women can be found in Jennifer Weiner’s newest book, The Guy Not Taken, a collection of short stories written at some point in the last 18 years and published in 2006. Weiner’s women are funny, spunky and self-deprecating, but similar to all her other protagonists found in Good in Bed, In Her Shoes and Little Earthquakes, these women are, essentially, the same.

The similarities between Josie, Ruth and the others are endless. These women are most comfortable in the pool. They are writers or journalists. They have younger/thinner/prettier sisters or friends. They yearn for the validation of their absent fathers. They give premature blow jobs and then get cheated on. They proudly declare, like Ruth, in “Swim,” “I don’t need a man to be happy,” but their stories revolve around finding, satisfying, keeping and questioning men.

Anyone who has read Weiner’s other works can instantly pick up on these common motifs, characters and situations. In “Just Desserts,” Josie references her younger sister, Nicki, by saying, “all of the cute genes floating around in our collective pool had gone to Nicki, whereas I’d cleaned up in the big, bosomy, awkward, and acne-prone department.” In Weiner’s second novel, In Her Shoes, made into a movie staring Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette, the sister dynamic is similar. “There was a time, when they were little girls, that people thought they were twins….Well, not anymore. Rose was maybe an inch or two taller, and at least fifty pounds heavier, maybe more.”

The reason her characters and themes are so similar is because Weiner bases her protagonists on her own pain, loss and insecurities. Her personal notes at the end of The Guy Not Taken say just that. “My parents split up when I was sixteen…I wrote about my parents’ divorce, and wrote about it, and wrote about it, and wrote about it. My joke about college is that everything I wrote had a single theme: My parents got divorced, and it hurt.” This still hasn’t changed in her writing. In both her short stories and her novels, the pain of separation and broken hearts is always raw and real (who can’t relate to some sort of family drama or break up?) but it’s the same every time. If you’ve read Good in Bed, arguably her best novel, you’ve read the first three stories of The Guy Not Taken.

Which is fine for people who like Weiner’s style and want more of it. However, in 2005 the chick lit world was attacked by Elizabeth Merrick’s collection of short stories, This Is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America's Best Women Writers. Weiner, although annoyed in interviews about the book’s publication and its insults toward chick lit writers, published The Guy Not Taken a year later, continuing her chick lit writing, but still cringing about the label. In her notes, she says, “These days, the books about single girls in the city that are dismissively called chick lit get a lot of flak for the Cinderella fantasy they allegedly embrace—the way their heroines muddle through the pain and poundage of single-girl existence, wisecracking all the way, until Prince Charming appears and takes them away from all of that. I’ve written two novels that end with wedding bells. But does a marriage, and a man willing to proffer a ring and promise forever, necessarily equal happily-ever-after?”

Weiner doesn’t necessarily promise happily-ever-after for her heroines in The Guy Not Taken. Girlfriends get cheated on, dads leave, and toddlers wreak havoc, but because the characters in her previous works ended up okay, there’s hope for the women in her short stories, too. After all, as a New York Times Best Selling Author, wife and mother, Weiner herself seems to be doing pretty well these days. And based on the similarities between her writing and her personal life, we can expect nothing less for her protagonists.

-Krista Derbecker

Casa Mia

Nestled in the corner site that formerly housed Mia Madonna and Rouge, Casa Mia attempts to duplicate the rustic romanticism of an outdoor Spanish tapas bar. The exposed brick, wrought iron sconces, and bamboo shoots would create trendy and cozy touches but are unfortunately overpowered by the arresting array of clashing colors. Tangerine, Pepto-Bismol pink, and aquamarine walls combined with apricot tablecloths give an air of eccentricity that fails to carry over to the menu.

Venezuelan native Hector Urriola and Carlos Jimenez, who is from Columbia, combine their restaurant experience with their heritage, and along with pal Mike Conway, have recently brought this dining destination to Athens. Infused with South American flair, Casa Mia is open for lunch, dinner, and even for a bit of midnight munching. The menu focuses mainly on tapas, offering paella, tostones, yucca, and other iconic dishes.

Hoping for some culinary excitement that would reignite the dying flame that is the tapas bar craze, I visited Casa Mia on three different occasions. Each exploration of the menu left me unpleasantly surprised. A gooey sticker from the obviously pre-packaged ingredients is possibly what one may find stuck to a burger at their local fast food joint, but not amidst the mango salsa at a so-called savvy downtown eatery. Beyond the poor preparation, the menu creates a deceiving image of delicious dishes that is quickly destroyed as soon as they arrive at the table. The queso dulce, described as creamy cheese with sweet bell peppers, is extremely disappointing, as it is literally a pinch of diced red pepper strewn across a brick of cream cheese that is better suited on a toasted bagel. The plantanos maduros (fried sweet plantains) come smothered in unexpected and unnecessary ribbons of mozzarella, but they are actually quite delectable once the cheese is unraveled. The “spicy Casa Mia” sauce that accompanies many of the dishes is nothing more than a weak mixture of ketchup, mayonnaise and an almost untraceable dash of paprika. After sampling the entire selection of all 15 tapas and several of the entrees, the chef’s definition of “spicy” is seriously questionable.

The Casa Mia dining experience varies in its level of mediocrity depending upon the time of day you choose to go. The long dining room and tiny bar are crowded and noisy at night, but the window-side tables are the perfect place to people-watch during the day. With the exception of a small selection of salads, the dinner menu is entirely dedicated to tapas, while several entrees are available during the lunch hours. Like most tapas restaurants, the portions are miniature, but Casa Mia’s prices are very reasonable. Seven tapas and a bottle of house wine amounts to just under $50, providing an opportunity to try a variety, but only a select few are worth opening your wallet.

The ceviche is unquestionably the best item on the menu. The lime based marinade coats the fresh fillet of tilapia with red onion and cilantro that come together in a delightful marriage of flavor. Juicy steak skewers served cold and with a side of tangy Argentinean inspired chimichurri sauce stand out from the very limited late night menu. Among the most unpalatable dishes is the rubbery shrimp doused in a watery sea of garlic and parsley that comes with a few meager slivers of bread. Also avoid the salmon, which is overcooked and served on a bed of tasteless mango salsa.

To their credit, the small but eclectic wine list shows an admirable commitment to their South American-infused theme. The Doña Isidora Riesling, cultivated in Chile, tantalizes the taste buds with hints of citrus and evergreen. The Miolo Reserve Merlot is velvety smooth, and the sangria is tart and refreshing. The small bar in the back of the dining room boasts several draft beers as well as a modest liquor supply, and $2.25 PBR cans are available for college patrons on a tight budget. For a non-alcoholic treat, sip on a lulo drink, made from exotic Columbian grown fruit, that can be served chilled or blended with ice to make a daiquiri-like concoction. This rare burst of flavor danced across my taste buds, but also illuminated the blandness of the food.

All in all, Casa Mia is a disappointing addition to the Athens restaurant scene. The service is friendly but the food fails miserably at paying homage to its saucy Latin roots. The entire experience is far less than dazzling and at times even bordered on unbearably bland. If you’re in the mood for tapas, shell out the extra money and head down the street to Speakeasy.

-Jacqueline Lintz

A Beef with Dairy

Over a plate of hot buttered chicken and macaroni and cheese I lost my love for dining out. My temperature rises as I sit at the table, my half-eaten dinner in front of me. There is sweat beading at my temples and I press my wrists against a glass of ice water to relieve the heat. My stomach joins the dinner conversation with rumbles and gurgles.

I want to die, but only explode in an array of gastrointestinal pyrotechnics that would rival a New Year’s fireworks show in intensity. I am lactose intolerant.

Lactose intolerance is the inability to process the major sugar found in milk because of a lactase enzyme deficiency. Without the enzyme, lactose goes to the small intestines, where bacteria break it down, causing a build up of gas that leads to every embarrassing sound a human can generate.

Every person produces lactose until they are 5 to 7 years old, when levels start declining. Many people can drink milk with no problems; others experience discomfort and use lactase supplements to break down the sugar.

Then there are people like me, who get sick with even the slightest amount of dairy. It is terrifying going out to eat, not knowing if there is anything without milk or if I will eat it if it does not. Even after seemingly innocuous food there is uncomfortable shifting in my chair, waiting for a feeling that may or may not come.

Lactose intolerance demands that careful attention be paid to the ingredients of food, sometimes sacrificing taste for safety. Though it is difficult to have several delicious courses in one place, a progressive dinner can translate legwork into the perfect meal.

I want to die, but only explode in an array of gastrointestinal pyrotechnics that would rival a New Year’s fireworks show in intensity. I am lactose intolerant.

Mama’s Boy boasts “southern fun dining,” which to me generally means deep-fried and slathered with butter. The interior is painted aqua blue, pulling a color from the wallpapered accent wall. Large windows with airy, white curtains brighten the room.

I watch my friends devour the square, flaky biscuits brought to our table with poppy seed butter on the side, lusting with every bite. In many southern restaurants I am restricted to uncooked, unappealing side vegetables, but Mama’s Boy makes an effort to accommodate food allergies.

My Mama’s Boy Salad comes with slices of pear fanned across the top. The fruit is infused with balsamic vinaigrette wherever it touches the mixed greens below. The plate is punctuated with bursts of magenta from tangy dried cranberries. They counter the crispness of the lettuce with chewy. Pumpkin seeds add a nutty flavor to the mix.

The salad uses the contradicting flavors to form a rich taste not found in side salads with no cheese, no croutons and oil and vinegar dressing. Blackened tofu can be added to the salad, its smoky spring further deepening the taste.

Breading and milk are often utilized to create batter for fried dishes. At the East West Bistro, a fusion of Asian and Italian cuisine results in dishes with unique preparations. Asian food is convenient for the lactose intolerant because dairy is not used often.

The Fish Tempura and Chips lightly batters the catch of the day and fries it to perfection. My trout has a crispy outside crunching into a soft, hot center. The bed of baby spinach becomes soggy from the heat, but is soaked in the lemon and malt vinegar that I put on the fish. Onion rings cooked in the same batter as the trout serve as garnish.

Without butter and sour cream baked potatoes are dry. Most mashed potatoes are made with dairy or from a mix that contains whey. The East West Bistro French fries are russet colored and lightly seasoned, using the natural taste of the potato.

Conventional restaurant dessert lists feature cheesecake, ice cream and mousse, all food that would incapacitate any lactose intolerant. Hot Corner Coffee, located on the corner of Washington and Hull streets, has creamy coffees and sweet desserts to tempt even the most lactase-deficient.

Frozen coffee drinks made from a mix contain milk. But, by replacing regular milk with soymilk, many coffee drinks can be enjoyed hot or on ice. The soy vanilla latte uses steamed soymilk to counter espresso. A shot of vanilla syrup covers the nutty flavor from the soy and adds sweetness.

The best lactose-free product at Hot Corner is delivered from Big City Bread daily: vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

Hard crust gives way to oats surrounded by soft, grainy dough. Brown sugar and cinnamon spice the cookies. The chocolate chips are slightly melted even when at room temperature. The cookie is perfect.

Lactose intolerance is difficult, but manageable. While some meals are disappointing, watching friends eating buttery pasta dishes, there are options available at many restaurants.

Mama’s Boy is located at 940 Oak Street, Athens, Ga. (706) 548-6249
East West Bistro is located at 51 E. Broad St., Athens, Georgia (706) 546-4240
Hot Corner Coffee is located at 269 N Hull St. (706) 955-0622

-Sarah Sapinski

My Love-Hate Relationship With a Bagel Shop

It began like so many other relationships. A friend introduced me to Horace two years ago, and after our initial encounter, I was smitten. For a while we spent every Friday together. Now we’ve reverted to lazy Sunday brunches. The initial passion has lessened, and at times we’ve gone months without seeing each other, but my love is still strong and enduring. This is because I’m still crazy about so many of Horace’s attributes—the lightly toasted bagels, the Eggbeaters, the sautéed tomatoes and chilies and the crucial sharp cheddar cheese. Before trying Horace’s Special at Zim’s Bagel Bakery, I had no idea I could feel this strongly about a bagel.

If I’ve ever had any trouble with Horace, it’s been because of The Zim’s staff. Their personalities don’t match up with the cheerful teal and pink walls, the blue sponge painted tables with quotes and pictures on them, or the colorful chairs that have things like “A day at the circus is good for the soul,” or “Who is the apple of God’s eye?” written on the back slats. Except for a few employees that I’ve come to be friends with during my years with Horace, the people who work at Zim’s are relatively unfriendly and inconsistent.

They once mixed up my order by forgetting to substitute out the American cheese on Horace. When I returned to the counter, asking only for a slice of cheddar to put on in place of the cheese I had scraped off myself, the manager told me I’d have to pay for the extra slice. Another time I arrived at Zim’s at 11:50 on a Sunday. The grill for cooking eggs isn’t supposed to close until noon, but they refused to serve me breakfast. Other times they have mischarged me completely. Even if I order the same thing from week to week, my bill often rings up to be something arbitrary. I’ve stopped arguing it at this point. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less, but I like to think it evens out in the long run.

The hardest things about eating at Zim’s are the weekly question of “Will I have the Sorority Melt (tomatoes with melted cheese—I add mushrooms) or Horace?” or “Will I have Georgia Lee’s Melt (chicken salad with melted cheese) or Horace?” or “Will I have the Guiltless Gobbler (turkey, veggie cream cheese, red peppers and cucumbers) or Horace?” And on top of that, I have to choose between a bagel or multi-grain, honey white or marbled rye bread. Zim’s doesn’t skimp on variety. The prices for all their sandwiches are reasonable, too, ranging from $2.40 to $5.95 and including chips and a pickle. Some people might have a hard time picking a cream cheese flavor, too, as Zim’s offers a variety such as veggie, strawberry, scallion, peach pecan and sun-dried tomato basil. I go straight for the walnut carrot cinnamon raisin. It’s a mouthful to say, but it’s so soft and sweet, like a creamy carrot cake turned into a spread, to me, there is no other cream cheese.

It’s the buffet that will leave you with empty pockets. A church potluck’s dream, the buffet features ever-changing and hearty favorites like crunchy parmesan chicken, old fashioned meatloaf, creamed spinach, honey roasted carrots, and garlic mashed potatoes. It’s strategically placed in front of the ordering counter, but the buffet is a dangerously costly move—you pay $6.99 per pound. Scrutinizing every roasted chicken breast to try and find the biggest, while at the same time lightest, piece is not my idea of fun dining. Unless you just fill up your plate with Jell-o or pudding, stay away from that temptress.

That’s why I stick with Horace. He’s loyal and he doesn’t disappoint. Most all of Zim’s food appeals to everyone, from families on their way home from church to hung-over sorority girls in their pajama pants, but Horace, coming in at only $3.05, trumps all other bagels and breakfast options. And that’s why, no matter how mean they are at Zim’s; no matter how many times they turn me away before noon or charge me for cheese, my love for Horace remains strong. And in the end, I will keep coming back for more.

Zim's Bagel Bakery is located at 196 Alps Road in Athens, Ga. 706.353.2947
-Krista Derbecker

Is "The Office" Going Down? That's What She Said...

In January NBC announced plans to carry out its hit Thursday night show, The Office, for a fourth season. This is great news for people who can’t get enough of Michael, Pam, Jim, Dwight and the rest of the rag-tag cast. But The Office’s predecessor, the British version of the same show, only lasted 12 episodes and a Christmas special. How long can a failing midrange paper stay funny? I love everyone in Scranton just as much as the next cubicle-working viewer, but I fear the Dunder Mifflin glory days can’t last. And though I don’t think the show has already jumped the shark, I’m afraid it’s poised to go off the ramp.

The Office, a sitcom that helped the comedy world appreciate a subtler, more intelligent type of humor, is now relying more heavily on plot (particularly a romantic one) than on characters or day-to-day happenings as they did in previous seasons. We like watching Jim putting Dwight’s stapler in Jell-O, or Pam waiting to transfer calls to Michael so he can have time to practice his salutations. It’s always funny when Michael says ridiculous things like, “Abraham Lincoln once said that 'If you're a racist, I will attack you with the North' and these are the principles I carry with me in the workplace.” This nonsense is the heartbeat of the show.

But now things are changing. The episodes that used to stand on their own have become much more linear and codependent. It’s funny and smart to refer back to other episodes, like Michael reusing Darryl’s made-up word “dinkin’ flicka.” But these days if you skip an episode, you’d better catch up on iTunes before next week or you’ll miss something big, like Pam and Roy getting back together at Phyllis’s wedding, or Andy’s meltdown and subsequent time in an anger management clinic.

And why does The Office need cliffhangers? Ever since Jim’s confession of love at the end of season two, the writers think it’s okay to make us wait days, or currently weeks as the show has gone on hiatus, to find out what Roy means when he says he’s “going to kill Jim Halpert.” This new emphasis on moving the storyline forward is why I’m so worried about The Office’s fate. An office is boring. It’s not an operating room with sexually frustrated beautiful doctors. It’s not a magical island where plane-crash survivors fend off evil monsters and deal with their haunting pasts. It’s a paper company. A fire in the break room due to the temp leaving a cheesy pita in the toaster oven, coupled with a passionate rendition of “Ryan started the fire,” or a rousing day of Office Olympics are about the most excitement we’re going to find in Scranton. And that’s the beauty—and brilliance—of The Office. It would be different if the show could hold a sustaining plot, but it can’t.

More than anything, though, the writers are building up Jim and Pam’s relationship too much. Relying on “will they, won’t they?” strategies is a cheap way to keep viewers, and after two successful seasons without overusing these tactics, The Office has no need to start driving the Jim/Pam saga into the ground now. Season three proves that plot-driven episodes just take away from the lovable everyday humor. Let’s hope that in the future instead of sending a perfectly good show over the shark, the writers will return to simpler, funnier episodes. That way whenever The Office does come to an end, we’ll each be able to say, in true Dunder Mifflin form, that the show “always left me satisfied and smiling… that’s what she said.”

Meredith Grey Needs to Die

Welcome to Seattle Grace, the fictional hospital and home of the hit show Grey’s Anatomy. Yeah, a lot of people die here, but it’s alright because the dialogue is witty, there’s always hot sex, and the main characters always survive. Unfortunately.

The Emmy, SAG, and Golden Globe award-winning show is in its third season and enjoying incredible success which can be attributed to the phenomenal writing of Shonda Rhimes and an immensely talented cast. The story follows Meredith Grey and four other interns as they attempt to save lives and have their own in the process.

Meredith is usually the narrator of each episode, but her intern entourage provides a plethora of pleasing plotlines, making her own ongoing love affair with a married neurosurgeon unentertaining in comparison. Christina Yang (Sandra Oh) is her sassy, overachieving and hilariously bitter best friend who seems incapable of showing emotions. Isobel Stevens, “Izzie” (Katherine Heigl), is a blonde bombshell who grew up in a trailer park and modeled lingerie to put herself through medical school. George O’Malley (T.R. Knight) is sensitive, clumsy, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, spends the first two seasons pining over Meredith. Alex Karev (Justin Chambers) is cocky, brutally honest and spreads syphilis around the hospital after a series of flings with some nurses. When the show debuted in March of 2005, Meredith was an adorable, slightly quirky and insightful character. Two years later, she is a whiny, self-pitying annoyance to an otherwise fantastic show. “I need to stay in bed and feel like I am going to die today,” Meredith pouts as Christina drags her pathetic emaciated body out of bed one morning.

One of the best things about Grey’s Anatomy is the complexity of its characters. They defy the boring stereotypical characters many other shows employ, which makes them seem more realistic and the show that much more addictive. They are talented, workaholic surgeons who fight over surgeries, run around the house in Hello Kitty underwear, and cry when they get dumped. Alex reveals a softer side, taking an interest in Obstetrics, giving up casual sex with nurses and no longer making derogatory comments about women. George’s vulnerability is endearing as he awkwardly professes his love for the recently dumped Meredith. She selfishly sleeps with him in an attempt to make herself feel better, sobbing hysterically during their lovemaking. The rest of the cast is just downright hilarious in their banter about blood and love and everything in between. Except for Meredith, that is, which is one of the many reasons why she needs to die.

After her intense romance with the sexy Derek Shepard, “McDreamy,” ends with him going back to his wife, Meredith falls into a depressed state, from which she never recovers. Even later when Shepard professes his love for her and leaves his wife, she is still miserable. All the characters have problems, but she is the only one who whines and continuously harps on her unhappiness. Izzie’s fiancé dies, leaving her devastated, but she bakes some cookies, opens a free medical clinic, and tries to move on. Meredith, on the other hand, contemplates drowning her misery and herself in the bathtub, a few episodes after her mother tells her she will never be anything but ordinary.

Secondly, she is a surgeon, which means that her job to is save lives. And sometimes, she does just that. She saves a young beauty pageant contestant with a brain aneurysm in the first episode. She risks her job to save a sick newborn in the second. Now, it is Meredith who needs to be saved.

She is the only character who is ever put in real jeopardy, and each time I pray that this will be it for Dr. Grey. But instead of offing the main character, someone else always dies in her place. In one episode, the entire hospital is put in danger as they attempt to rescue a man with an explosive device buried in his chest. Meredith ends up with her hand wrapped around the bomb, which is the only thing keeping it from detonating and killing everyone. The explosives expert dies, but Meredith survives and now has even more to whine about.

In third season’s “Some Kind of a Miracle,” Meredith drowns while trying to rescue a man wounded in a tragic ferryboat accident. Actually, she just decided to stop swimming and finish what she started in the bathtub. After being brought to the hospital, she has no pulse or heartbeat. Any other patient would have been shipped off to the morgue at this point, but since she is one of them, they continue to try reviving her.

Meanwhile, Meredith indirectly kills her mother after Derek screams at her, blaming her for Meredith’s unhappiness. This entire time Meredith is in a dreamlike state, between life and death. An ensemble of dead characters from previous episodes (including Izzie’s fiancé and the bomb guy) as well as her mother appear and convince her to fight for her life, which unfortunately, she does. This is particularly unnerving because until now, Grey’s Anatomy, had a realistic quality to it. The ferryboat accident left hundreds of people wounded or dead, yet even the neo-natal surgeon was trying to save Meredith.

Could Grey’s Anatomy exist without Grey? I’m not sure, but I would definitely like to find out.

-Jacqueline Lintz

"Gilmore Girls" Lose Sparkle with Rosenthal

The seventh season of Gilmore Girls is like being stuck at Friday night dinner before moving to Yale. Rory pleas, "Are you listening to me? I can't leave. She won't let me leave ever. This is Iran in '79 and you are Jimmy Carter. What do we do?"

David S. Rosenthal, who replaced Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband Daniel Palladino in April 2006, holds emotionally invested viewers hostage. There is a loss of the sharp dialogue and the dwindling of sparkling characters to a slow fizzle.

Sherman-Palladino wrote the Gilmore Girls with the requisite room for conflict and change, but added pop culture and political references to give the show its unique appeal. No other show featured a dog named after ‘60s teen idol Paul Anka.

In season two, Lorelai says to her mother at dinner, "Godot was just here. He said ‘I ain’t waiting for Richard,’ grabbed a roll, and left. It’s been forever."

Under Rosenthal, Lorelai quips, “You know the green beans are very green beany, which is so good, especially if you like green bean, which I do.” Like produce and Samuel Beckett, the two writing styles do not compare.

The characters are reduced to the foibles they previously mocked. With a trip to Paris in the depressingly predictable episode “French Twist,” that the change becomes clear. After years of resistance, rebellious Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) marries her high school sweetheart, Rory’s father Christopher Hayden (David Sutcliffe), to her parents’ delight.

Rosenthal portrays Lorelai as weak. She rebuffs Max Medina and turns away Digger, but after issuing an ultimatum to Luke, she loses her ability to say, “I don’t.”

Lorelai succumbs to Christopher and gets married though she loves Luke. His semi-rejection was enough for Rosenthal’s Lorelai to sacrifice her wants and needs for previously avoided convention.

Rory’s relationship with Logan (Matt Czuchry) has drama that is resolved within each episode. He panders in the hospital and then dismisses her crush on the new economics professor. There are faint rumblings of impending collapse, but a Rosenthal defibrillator saves them each week. One can only hope that Jess will come back with his books and snarky humor and rescue Rory from a society match.

Rosenthal’s writing does not take the Palladinos’ liberal stance. Lane (Keiko Agena) is pregnant after the first time having sex with her husband while using a condom. The storyline becomes confused with abstinence-only sex education.

She inspired her band in season five, "According to my mother I am going to hell for this. That’s commitment, my friends! Eternal damnation is what I’m risking for my rock and roll!” In season seven she is on bed rest with twins.

Richard and Emily (Ed Herrmann and Kelly Bishop) are the only characters that Rosenthal has preserved, though “I’d Rather Be in Philadephia” too closely relives “Forgiveness and Stuff,” an episode where Richard collapses and Emily adjusts to taking care of him.

Rosenthal excels in writing the relationship between Lorelai and Emily. Although their bickering is an essential component of the series, discussions of marriage and moments of alcohol-soaked honesty reveal similarities.

The characters of Lorelai and Rory were role models for women, independent, smart, sexy and funny. The Palladinos allowed the show to explore pertinent issues, but Rosenthal has focused on the far-fetched and dramatic this season, relying on pregnancies and heart problems to carry episodes. It may be time for Gilmore Girls to grow up, but he just needs to let them grow.

Gilmore Girls is shown Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW. Palladino-era episodes are syndicated on the ABC Family Channel.

-Sarah Sapinski

No Wicked Words to Bear for Tin Cup Prophette

She was living in Brooklyn, in an apartment furnished with things found in the trash, leaving each morning with her fiddle strapped to her back. She played in the subway for donations that she kept in a tin cup and met musicians from all over the city.

“Day after day after day of lugging that stuff around and being in such an uncomfortable climate just made me hate watching these delicately dressed women with little teeny pocketbooks, cell phone and credit card,” said Amanda Kapousouz in October interview. The experience inspired “Curses on Purses,” a song on Liar and the Thief, her debut album.

“Oh no, a revolution/ Curses on purses of featherweight/ There is something in you I should hate,” she sings in her dark, whisky voice, complemented by her violin.

Far from collecting spare change, the Tin Cup Prophette played the 40 Watt Saturday, Feb. 10, seamlessly combining elements from rock, pop, electronica and traditional Irish music to form her unique take on the singer-songwriter.

Three trapeze artists from the Canopy Studio in Athens perform routines to select songs. As Kapousouz plays, their actions complement the music. They provide a physical expression of the sound, rhythmically writhing in unison.

“I just want to reach you,” she sings in “Speak or Spill Down.” The dancers extend toward each other, fingers only inches apart, arms stretching. They hold their bodies in rigid parallel lines and spin endlessly on a black metal cube hung from the ceiling.

Kapousouz deftly plucks the strings and wields her bow, using sampling pedals to loop and combine phrases of violin into layered soundscapes. There is a light hum of discussion when she is setting up, but she does not lose control of her audience.

Because of her looping, Kapousouz normally requires a few minutes between each song. This show she started each song with some of the layers already completed, decreasing preparation time. She jokes between songs, expressing disbelief that so many people had come to see her.

Tin Cup Prophette contrasts dark lyrics with lighter elements, like the glockenspiel on her song, “Going Numb.” She sings, “My face should have no eyes, no scorn no vacant stare/ My face should have no mouth, no wicked words to bear.” It is the dichotomy of tone in instrumentation and lyrics that makes her music and performance compelling.

She does not announce her last song, but instead abruptly ends the show without an encore. It is still enough—the audience is sated by the live performance, and sustained by her album at home.

Verdict: While not fully developed as a performer, Tin Cup Prophette’s shows are a vision of the good things to come.

-Sarah Sapinski

Effie's Burlesque Show

Beer, sex, and laughter wafted from the Georgia Theater as Effie’s Club Follies charmed Athens in a naughty night of titillating entertainment.

The Effie’s troupe mimics the vaudeville style of traditional burlesque shows, but add a modern flair. Named after an old controversial Athens brothel that was burned to the ground, these women, along with a few men, have been dancing and stripping their way across the stages of the Southeast ever since. Their mission is to defend the silliness of sex in a society that often vilifies it. No auditions are necessary; the group accepts anyone who wants to lend their talents.

An enthusiastic and mostly male audience prepared themselves for the midnight show. They guzzled their 32-ounce beers, and eagerly awaited the moment when the ladies would take the stage. They clapped, stomped, and shouted with pleasure as women ranging from size 0-24 pranced across the stage, shimmying out of their clothes to reveal star shaped pasties and a rainbow of g-string panties.

The troupe made their way through renditions of popular songs and movies of decades past until almost 2 a.m. The ‘80s were revisited in a modern rendition of the movie Flashdance, as two bombshell brunettes danced around and sprayed water onto their bodies. Women with both buns of steel and cellulite ran around the stage as the gleaming fangs of a shark chomped at their g-strings, in an attack far sexier than anything seen in the Jaws trilogy. The Lord of the Rings couldn’t be left out of the movie madness. Two hairy-footed lady hobbits showed how they really get down in the Shire with a steamy make-out session. But entertaining as they were, the movie skits were upstaged by the “celebrity” guest appearances.

Anna Nicole Smith was reincarnated, parading onto the stage in a creamy Marilyn Monroe fashioned dress, which hugged her curves in all the wrong places. “Trimspa baby!” she screamed, opening a dozen tiny medicine bottles. A cascade of colorful pill shaped candies covered the floor, and she frantically fell to her knees, shoving handfuls of them into her mouth.

A pregnant Britney Spears carelessly bounced a baby doll on her hip, listening intently to pal Paris Hilton as she shared her advice on weight loss. Because “being fat and having babies is just so not hot,” the hotel heiress recommended Britney ditch motherhood and the extra pounds. They turn to an emaciated Nicole Richie, notorious dieting aficionado, who was able to emerge from her drug-induced daze only long enough to toss Paris a clear plastic bag. Clouds of white powder swirled around the trio. Perhaps inspired, several audience members excused themselves to the bathrooms, returning minutes later giggling and conspicuously touching their noses.

Audacious, well-performed, and sexy, the Effie’s entourage combined just the right amount of humor, dancing, and scandal, providing a downright “effin” good time.

-Jacqueline Lintz

Jesus Camp

America is being born again.

With that tagline, Jesus Camp kicks off as a riveting documentary about evangelical children and the indoctrinated world they live in.

Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady take viewers on an intensely spiritual and political journey from the playground to the pews at Children on Fire Christian Camp in North Dakota. The Academy Award-nominated 2006 film, recently released on DVD after being nowhere near most big-name theatres upon premiere time, shows a sector of Christian life where home-schooling parents teach their children that “science hasn’t proven anything,” and that global warming isn’t a real issue, just a political platform for the liberals. Children proudly declare their willingness to die for Christ and chant about being in God’s army while decorated in camouflage and war paint. Adult leaders encourage the kids to pray over a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush in intercession for the president and the nation. “President Bush,” Fischer declares, “has brought credibility to the Christian faith.”

Many people could argue with that. And in the same way, people could argue with the credibility of the Christian faith based on this documentary’s portrayal of charismatic evangelism.

The documentary focuses only on the extreme end of this religion, but despite only showing the most drastic characters, Ewing and Grady portray the zeal found at Children on Fire without an agenda. They include no commentary of their own, letting their subjects speak freely about their beliefs and convictions. The only opposition to Fischer’s stance is radio commentator and lawyer Mike Papantonio, a Methodist opposed to the “religious right.” Papantonio, who is specifically included in the documentary to add tension to the film, argues for the separation of church and state. If the documentary is condemning to the characters, it isn’t due to Ewing and Grady. The film isn’t controversial—the lifestyle is.

In the documentary and in the deleted scenes, the Bible term “child-like faith” is perverted as 8-year-olds sob, speak in tongues and prostrate themselves at the front of the church, repenting their sinful ways. Levi, a 12-year-old boy with a rat-tail, preaches to crowds of children that they are a “key generation” to Christ’s return. But how can children too young to understand sex fight against abortion? The children are sincere, compassionate, and excited about their faith, but how could their zeal come from something other than the forced, spoon-fed faith of their parents and church leaders?

Where is the line between teaching and indoctrinating. The scary, right wing lives shown in the documentary are too extreme for anyone outside of the charismatic bubble to relate to. Jesus Camp is worth watching for the controversial treatment of Christian children and religious political agendas, but not for an uplifting or encouraging Christian film. Fischer may preach a version of the truth, but she omits God’s love. And despite the few positive things to be taken away from the film, Fischer’s militant methods probably aren’t what Jesus had in mind when he said “Let the little children come unto me.”

-Krista Derbecker


There was a time when only a certain girl had a hairstyling iron. One who took two hours to primp just for a trip to the grocery. Or one who really wanted to look like Jennifer Anniston circa 2003. Not so much anymore, though. Hair straighteners have seduced even the most practical females into paying $110 for 12 inches of metal.

The leading lady of the hair-iron industry is the CHI Hairstyling Iron. It’s sleek. It’s sophisticated. It can be purchased in Pepto Bismol pink. And it comes with an instruction manual, just in case users get confused en route to the perfect hairstyle.

The CHI heats up in 45 seconds, indicating its readiness by a blinking red light and burning smell. But the CHI will never make your hair look burnt. You’re safe with the CHI. Just don’t go against the instructions and use it while bathing or sleeping.

The CHI was designed for women who take their hair as seriously as their pedicures. But its market is changing. After showering at night, the low-maintenance woman can forgo blow drying or styling. Although she wakes up with a rat’s nest for hair, five minutes with the CHI and it’s as shiny and smooth as the day she got it cut. Which, for this woman, was probably a year ago.

-Krista Derbecker

Fine (Walm)Art: Paint-By-Number

“Learn to paint!” the box exclaims in bold, red letters, appealing to my creativity and competitive nature as I wander the arts and crafts aisle. Immediately I am on my back in the Sistine Chapel next to Michelangelo and unquestioningly placing the Dimensions Paintworks paint-by-number in my cart.

A tiger pauses in the jungle to lap water on the box. Underneath are eight vials of paint, which seem insufficient for covering the board inside. Lighter colors require multiple layers and should be painted before darker ones for a cleaner finished product.

Though paint-by-number has helped aspiring painters since the 1950s, this package gives little information about mixing paint in correct proportions and quantities.

The package comes with one brush that requires frequent washing and drying. Over time the bristles separate, making detailed work impossible.

With hundreds of shapes to fill bring a single project to completion it can be overwhelming for the impatient. But there is no more gratifying thought than, “Hey, that sort of looks like a tiger.”

One starts hunched over the canvas, trying to paint as accurately as possible. Whether out of frustration or learned skill, brush strokes become more fluid and the paint-by-number becomes a painting.

Verdict- The gimmick is true: You will be no Michelangelo, but paint-by-numbers can teach you how to paint.

The Dimensions Paint Works Paint-By-Number “Tiger Reflection,” number 91257, retails for $4.97 at Walmart.

-Sarah Sapinski