22 April 2005
OK. We know I have no life (my choice). We know I spend my day sitting at home transcribing to the accompaniment of daytime TV. They have recently changed the schedule so that there's much less "West Wing" and much more "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," so I've been open to new experiences. Not that I don't enjoy "Queer Eye," but the intensity of it just sometimes exhausts me (plus, I'm not much interested in the make-overs).
I've passed up "Starting Over," the reality show whose promos all include lots of crying. I've OD'd on Dr. Phil and his homespun psychotherapy for the masses. I've kind of started watching "The District" reruns because I never really got into it in prime time. It passes the time between the one "West Wing" rerun and "Ellen," though I haven't bonded with it yet.
(See? I told you I have no life!)
However, today I discovered The Style Channel. This is nothing I ever would have sought out, not being a stylin' kinda gal, you know. But one of the hosts was on "The Today Show" He was the host of "Craft Corner Deathmatch," which is kind of like "Iron Chef" for crafts (if anybody is familiar with "Iron Chef" on The Food Network. In truth, I haven't really seen THAT show either, but it appears to be a bunch of chefs all given the same ingredients and creating a new dish on the spot. A cooking sprint for the television camera with lots of steam and pools of light glinting off copper cookware, and supportive cheers from the audience.)
So I turned on The Style Channel and watched "Craft Corner Deathmatch," which defies description, but I'll try.
"Brace yourself for the carnage," web site promises.
For starters, the host (Jason Jones) makes the announcers on Wrestlemania (another type of television I have only passing acquaintance with) seem tame. "Two crafters go in.....only one crafter comes out," Jones announces, with a low growl while the audience howls.
"The first challenge will be....." (pregnant pause) "....mosaics!" shrieks the announcer.
"Ooooooooooo!" yells the audience
The contestants break plates and glop grout and glue on a picture frame, adding broken piecese of ceramics, while Jones keeps a running commentary asking them what their plan is in the minute they have to finish their creation.
"Time's running out!" shrieks the announcer.
"!0...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1..." chants the audience in unison.
"Time's UP!" shrieks the announcer, blowing a bullhorn.
While this is going, the enigmatic "Amber" sits off in a corner, deadpan. I'm not sure what Amber's function is, but the host refers to her often, as the camera flashes on her expression-less face. In an earlier episode (yes, I watched back to back episodes), Amber was a foot model for a shoe that the contestants had to design. She's kind of like a silent Vanna White (which is a good thing!)
The mosaic project is judged by a panel of judges (which includes comedienne Judy Gold and Muhammad Ali's daughter Khaliah). Contestant Karen wins because her picture frame is neater.
They moved on to the second round. "A craft that is feared by boyfriends and husbands everywhere," growls Jones. "Giftwrapping!" he yells.
"Oooooooooooooo," says the audience.
Wrapping materials are revealed and the contestants are given their items to wrap--foil, various colored papers, and a shredder.
"Ready...set...CRAFT!" yells Jones.
"Whaddya doin' there?" Jones asks contestant Karen.
"I'm making a star," she says, scrunching aluminum foil around a soccer ball.
"Star!" yells the audience, clapping "go...go...go!"
"Let's go to the shredder!" yells Jones.
"Shred! Shred! Shred!" yells the audience, fists jabbing at the air.
The bullhorn blows again. "Time's UP! Hands off your craft" Jones says, as the contestants hands snap up off the table and behind their backs.
While the judges compare the wrapping jobs of the two contestants, the show runs an informational film on the history of Scotch tape.
Karen is the clear winner again. Her opponent is sent off stage to lick her wounds and record her feelings about how difficult the tasks were.
Now it's time for the ultimate challenge in The Bonus Round. Karen must meet one of "The Four Horsemen of the Craftpocolypse" - The Craft Lady of Steel, "she who is without remorse," a "black belt in the art of stitchery."
"Release THE CRAFT!" screams Jones, as the contestants lift silver plate covers off of a tray to reveal naked Barbie dolls (called "Smarbie," to avoid copyright infringement, I guess). "You're going design clothing for Smarbie," says Jones, "and you have to pick your theme out of the themes in my pocket," says Jones. "Get over here and dig deep in my pocket," says Jones.
The audience titters.
"On your marks, get set, make tiny Smarbie clothes," he yells.
While the time passes, they run a film made by Karen prior to her appearance. "I just hope I don't cry," she says.
Comes the countdown and the bullhorn.
Karen is the winner. She has crushed The Craft Lady of Steele.
"DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!" shrieks Jones, telling her that she's won a fancy sewing machine.
"Don't forget," he says to the television audience in closing, "It's cheaper and easier just to buy stuff! ... see ya next time!"
The audience cheers.
Dr. Phil is looking better to me all the time.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
It's lambing time on the farm. This is the first of the newborns.