Archive for May, 2010

America’s Next Top Model, C14E11 Recap: “America’s Next Top Model Is…”

Part II of the season finale!

So who will win? Krista with the fierce walk and dynamic poses or Raina with the fabulous features and piercing stare?

Raina is proud of herself, and she is not ashamed to proclaim it.

Krista is feeling focused — it’s not over yet. She hasn’t forgotten how much she struggled in the beginning.

Raina’s excited about doing the Cover Girl shoot. We see a scary picture of Raina screaming. For some reason, her tongue is purple. She played volleyball in college for three years, but put it aside because her “real passion” is modeling.

Krista has tried out for ANTM five times. We see ossomly ghetto pictures of Krista and her sisters, and an adorable one of the three ofthem when they were little. And then we get an inexplicable picture of Krista with a red bowl on her head.

Tyra Mail! “One of you will rise above the other to claim the title of America’s Next Top Model. But for now you’re flying on the same level, so pack an overnight bag. Love, Tyra.” Ooh, they get to go somewhere! Exciting!

Krista is annoyed by Raina’s over-the-top enthusiasm. “Do you think we could be parachuting? Or, like, in a hot air balloon?” Honey, photoshoots are done. It’s just Cover Girl, and then runway.

Raina says that Krista doesn’t like her. Hmm, Krista must not like “happy” people who “turn a positive into a negative.” Yeah, that’s not annoying at all.

The girls get to take a helicopter to their destination. “I’m so excited; my heart is about to come out of me!” gushes Raina. I half hope it does. Man, if I were Krista, I would totally mute that headset and revel in the deafening sound of the helicopter blades.

New Zealand is freakin’ gorgeous, y’all.

The girls land at a place called Hurakia Lodge. Krista sees a man waiting for them inside with two glasses of champagne. He welcomes them to the lodge and informs them that they’ll be spending the night there.

Hurakia Lodge

I want to go to there.

Raina feels like a VIP. The girls toast, and Jay Alexander shows up. Krista’s a little disappointed because she just wants a second to enjoy her victory.

Jay tells them that they need to sleep early and get up early and be young, fresh, and exciting because they’ll be shooting their Cover Girl commercials right there in the morning. They are given scripts and instructed to study up.

The girls will be shilling the entire “Blast” collection. Krista’s afraid of them pulling out cue cards on her because she just can’t get it together.

Raina smugly informs us that she’s already got the first line memorized, but Krista’s nervous. Raina thinks she’s more fun and flirty than Krista, who’s more “focused and fierce.” Ooookay.

Morning comes, and the girls are digging into breakfast when Jay Manuel arrives screaming, “Tyra! Fifty percent!!” which is what Krista screamed when she got into the Top Two.

Jay explains that they’ll be shooting the commercial and the print ad, which will be used in a national ad. But to help them get into the “Cover Girl Spirit,” they bring in Nicole, the winner of Cycle 13. We already saw her at the Cover Girl subway shoot. She’s just as wooden today as she was then. Her hair is no longer red; it’s now straight-up orange. She sounds like she’s reading from a card. This girl reads from a card!

Nicole Fox: now with 50% more ginger!

The concept for the commercial is that they’re getting ready for a night on the town. One girl will shoot her commercial while the other one does her photoshoot, and then they’ll switch.

Krista thinks Raina will come off as fake, and that she’ll come off as more relatable.

Raina gets photographed first. The photographer loved her eyes.

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

Easy, breezy, beautiful!

Nicole gives Krista a pep talk before her commercial. Krista feels ready. Nicole encourages her not to put too much pressure on herself. Nicole is worthless.

Krista is simply determined not to take the cue cards. She’s got her lines memorized and she wants the commercial to be a breeze. That’s easy, breezy, sweetie.

She gets through her first line, but flubs her second. Before we know it, we’re all the way to Take Seven, and she’s completely blanking. Jay suggests the cue cards, but Krista balks. She’s freaking out because she’s come too far to blank out now, and yet, that’s exactly what’s happening.

She just can’t do it, and finally asks for the cue cards. Now, she can’t just read them. She’ll have to look at them and then look back to camera and repeat the line.

She does one take where she looks up and to the left as she tries to recall the line. She laughs at herself, and Jay compliments her for laughing and staying positive. She’s making do with what she’s got.

Jay thinks she’s lovely. Krista was able to hold it together. Jay was impressed that she didn’t break down and cry. “If you break down and cry, then you look like you’re crying, and then I don’t have anything.”

The girls switch, and Krista gets photographed. She admits that Raina’s face is “undeniable,” but she is determined to come off strong and show that she’s versatile. She says that Raina can only do that “cortisone” look. I think she means “courtesan.” The photographer loves her smile. It certainly does change her face.

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

Destined to be a Cover Girl.

It’s Raina’s turn for the commercial. She thinks she’ll do really well because her personality is very Cover Girl.

She gets through her first three lines and then flubs. Jay could even pinpoint the moment at which she realized that she couldn’t remember her next line.

She’s squinting at the camera. She flubs again, but keeps trying.

“This isn’t terrible,” starts Jay, “but I’m not 100% convinced.”

The director tells her that she’s got the line delivery down, but she’s also gotta model at the same time.

Raina gets a good take. Jay says that she knew all of her lines, but she could not model and deliver lines at the same time. In a beauty commercial, it’s really important to model throughh as you deliver your lines.

Tyra Mail! “Today, you did your Cover Girls. Tomorrow, you’re doing your covers. Love, Tyra.” They’ll be shooting their Seventeen covers on the morrow.

Krista needs to stand out in her cover shoot because her commercial wasn’t great.

Raina thinks she has a better look for a magazine like Seventeen.

Nigel is waiting for them when they get to the studio. He’ll be shooting their covers.

Nigel shoots Raina and encourages her to think about the young, fresh faces that are usually featured on the cover of Seventeen. Raina comments that, if she were on the cover of the magazine, young girls everywhere would be looking up to her. I weep for America’s future.

Nigel shoots Krista. She wants to change the fashion industry because you never see a “chocolate black girl” on anything. Uh, Krista, ever heard of Alek Wek? And if you think winning ANTM will change the modeling industry, then have you ever heard of Teyona? Exactly.

Chocolate girl? Already been done. And better, too.

Do you know who she is? Most people don't.

Nigel was impressed by both girls. Of course, he can’t express a preference at this point in the show.

When the girls return, their entire apartment has been overrun with camera equipment — and Tyra. She’s there to shoot a Top Model family portrait. But she feels like something’s missing… like the girls’ families.

Krista calls her mom and stepdad her best friends. It’s adorable.

Raina’s dad is her hero. It’s a little sad that she only has her dad.

They get to do a shoot with their families, and it’s actually really sweet. Krista’s mom shares the family motto, which is “Pride, determination, and resilience.” Interesting. My family motto is “Be as crazy as you can without actually getting committed.”

Raina poses with her dad, and Tyra encourages him to loosen up. Raina’s dad requires a lot of direction.

Tyra praises the girls to their parents, and compliments them on raising two fine girls.

(Side note: I looked at the family portraits, and they’re actually quite sweet. You can check them out on Tyra’s website.)

The parents are then given the boot. One of their daughters will be America’s Next Top Model.

The girls gush about loving their parents. There are tears.

Krista says, “I don’t want to eat, sleep, drink. I just want to do this the rest of my life.” That explains why she’s so skinny.

The girls arrive at the runway venue. Anna Sui’s collection was inspired by “rock ‘n’ roll circus.” What the heck?? Is that just clowns wearing, like, more makeup?

Nicole will open the show, and there will be other professional models there as well. But those aren’t the only people competing for the spotlight! The other girls who came to NZ will be walking in the finale show, too.

The other girls don’t look too thrilled to see their former competition reemerge from the depths of obscurity.

caAngelea is on Team Krista. “I hope Krista stomps it out.”

Jessica hopes Raina wins. “She’s hot, she’s sweet, she wants it.” Poor Krista. She clearly doesn’t want it at all, and therefore doesn’t deserve to get it. *removes tongue from cheek*

The judges enter the show to cheers. I cheer, too — because Tyra is not wearing one of those awful jumpsuits.

“This whole show is for Krista and me,” Raina informs us. Oh, and maybe a little person you may have heard of called Anna Sui. Perspective, hon. It doesn’t take much.

Circus performers open the show. There’s a juggler, a guy with a giant exercise ball, a hula hoop girl, a dude with one of those rhythmic gymnastics ribbons — it’s a rock ‘n’ roll circus!

Nicole stomps on out.

Angelea is up next, followed by some real models.

Krista’s next. She strides out, looking happy. She does a great job. She’s totally taking those long strides that ALT told her to. Her legs look miles long and amazing.

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

So happy to be here.

Jessica goes next and poses at the end of the runway. It is weird. More real models remove the bad taste from my mouth.

The song in the background goes, “So stupid! So stupid!” I laugh at the irony.

Raina the Linebacker is up. She says that she gets up the runway and does “a cute pose.” I can only assume that she is referring to the little kick she did at the end. It was awkward. she’s grinning like an idiot.

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

I'm a happy and positive person!

Alasia goes, and she actually looks great.

Alexandra’s up, and she rocks a little air guitar.

The girls go for a wardrobe change, and it’s chaos.

Now, they’ll be walking out with partners.

Nicole goes with some model who puts an arm around her.

Alexandra and Alasia are together, and march out with arms held out, like, “Hey, world, look at me!”

Jessica and Angelea get to the end of the runway and high-five each other.

A bunch of other girls go.

Then Raina and Krista walk out together. Krista definitely has better legs than Raina.

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

Who do you want to look at more?

This is actually a great casual collection; lots of fun.

Raina blows a kiss to the audience as they walk off the runway.

Krista feels great, like she’s on “Cloud Twenty-Five.” Hee!

Raina feels like she just has to win now.

Tyra debriefs with the girls. She asks Krista what she thinks makes her extra-special and why she thinks she should win.

Krista replies that she has a great walk and she brought her personality to it and had a lot of fun “just doing me.” She stayed true to herself instead of being fake.

Tyra asks how Krista felt growing up, if she thought she was pretty. I’m thinking, “What the heck kind of question is that?”

Krista says that she never thought she was pretty until she got to high school and found who she was. She gets all verklempt as she talks about girls who grow up and don’t even think they’re pretty. Uh, Krista, I’ve got news for you. Some of us just aren’t. But we learn to feel comfortable in our own skin anyway. She loves herself even though she’s imperfect, and hopes she can help others to love themselves, too.

Tyra calls modeling a “calling” that’s “bigger than you.” For Alexandra, that’s quite a calling.

Krista’s passion is to talk to the dark, skinny girls out there who don’t think they’re pretty. Meanwhile, a group of white, fat girls droop a little further down on their couches and reach for the Doritos.

Tyra talks to Raina next and asks her how she did. Raina thinks she did well because she let loose and had fun and was herself.

Tyra asks how she felt, being “little Raina” and getting so far.

Raina never imagined she’d ever get this far, and feels like she’s transformed into a model.

Tyra asks Raina to take her back to the lowest she ever felt. Tyra is clearly angling for tears.

Raina admits that she was picked on for being tall and gangly, on top of having huge eyebrows and huge lips. Honey, there is no excuse for the eyebrows. It’s called “plucking” and it’s not that hard.

Tyra says that those are the things she finds beautiful about Raina because she likes the odd and different beauty that Raina embodies. She says that it’s the odd things that make us beautiful. Tell that to my small eyes, Tyra. Tell it to my small eyes.

Raina used to be insecure, but she’s become this super-confident model.

Panel! Tyra is wearing a square. I don’t know how else to describe it.

She compliments the girls on how stunning they are. “All the dreck is gone,” she gushes.

Raina has come from Minnetonka, MN, and Raina has come from Pine Bluff, AR, and they are both finalists.

Tyra summarizes the prizes for the last time, and introduces the judges. Jay Alexander, “runway diva coach extraordinaire,” is the guest judge. Jay is wearing this crazy, ginormous feather hat, and I kind of love it.

Both girls step forward. Raina looks awkward and shouldery in her dress, like she’s leaning forward for some reason.

Jay thought that Krista took short, staccato steps. I didn’t see that. I thought her strides were nice and long. ALT agrees with me (suck it, Jay!) and thought Krista was bouncy, smiling, and real.

Tyra was nervous about Krista doing bouncy, when she’s so used to doing high fashion. But she did think it was just a touch cheesy.

Jay thought Raina’s walk improved a lot, but thought it was slightly affected at times. ALT thought she was a Clydesdale. Tyra loves Clydesdales and loved Raina’s walk.

Now, that's a beautiful model.

Now it’s time for the Cover Girl shoot.

Raina’s picture is pretty. Nigel calls it gentle and feminine. ALT thinks it’s fresh and “American girl next door,” but he doesn’t get the excitement. There’s no twinkle, and I agree.

Jay calls Krista’s picture “in-your-face beauty.” There’s a little extra “oomph” from somewhere inside. Tyra thinks her face is beautiful, but she’s not smiling with her eyes.

Commercials! This should be good.

Nigel says Raina has a charming timbre to her voice (he says it all French). But he tells her not to forget her eyes — I told you she was squinting!

ALT loved her smile, but didn’t see her personality come through in a way that said “Cover Girl.” Tyra didn’t say anything new.

Jay tattled to Tyra that Krista blanked out. Nigel says it’s okay because that happens, but it’s important not to lose yourself. Tyra says that if you forget your lines, just stay in the commercial.

Nigel says that, quite frankly, that the light loves her. That is true.

Deliberations! Shots of all the judges looking serious.

Raina is interesting and odd. Krista has beautiful skin and a stunning collarbone.

Both were strong in the cycle and showed versatility. They’re both charming and stunning.

Krista’s a better whole-body model. Raina’s a better beauty model.

Tyra asks for ALT’s opinion on the girls’ international appeal. ALT thinks that Raina would do well in England and Europe. But he thinks Krista would be a better for an international market.

Jay thinks Krista is great for shows, while Raina would be great for pictures.

Nigel thinks Raina would be more successful globally than domestically. He says that Krista has more drama and more heart.

They’re both great, but, like Highlander, “There can only be one!!”

THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE!!

America’s Next Top Model is:

Krista!

She breaks down in tears, and sobs hysterically to Raina, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

Raina holds it together remarkably well and tells Krista it’s okay and congratulates her and wishes her good luck. She’s determined not to stop. She’s a very gracious loser.

Tyra tells Krista that she’s amazing, and the embodiment of America’s Next Top Model. She learned, listened, and blossomed. She totally deserves to win.

She’s overwhelmed! Nigel actually picks her up and twirls her around. She gets hugs and kisses from Jay and ALT. She just can’t believe it, and no one ever though it would be her.

There are cute pictures of Krista when she was little, and then we flip through her portfolio. She has truly grown. She really is beautiful, and totally deserved to win.

We get to see Krista’s magazine cover and various other shots of Krista working it over the cycle. Then we see her pic with Tyra.

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

America's Fourteenth Top Model

Yay, Krista! I’m satisfied that she won. That’s because they edited the show so that I would like her more than I liked Raina.

America’s Next Top Model, C14E10 Recap: “Ugly-Pretty Woman”

Aww, it’s hard to believe that the cycle is already over. But it’s also kind of a relief, to be honest. This cycle was only moderately fun. I guess I might be outgrowing the show. Awww.

But on with the show!

Last week: Jessica was eliminated!

Raina, Angelea, Krista, and Alexandra will remain. Two will be eliminated in the first hour!

Krista has been best pic three weeks in a row, so she’s feeling a lot of pressure to keep up the good work.

The girls all freak out about being in the Final Four.

Alexandra is disappointed that she hasn’t been called first, yet. My guess is that she never will be. However, she is inexplicably confident that she will be in the Top TWo.

She says that she’s always telling everyone that you have to be a lot more to be a plus-sized model. My guess is about fifty to sixty pounds more.

She claims that when you hire a plus-sized model, that you know you’re getting tons of personality, tons of confidence, and someone who wants to be themselves. What a great deal! No wonder every designer is taking advantage of the ossom opportunity to get more confidence and personality for the same price!

Alexandra cannot stand Raina. The girls are out on the balcony and Raina, pretending to be a reporter, shoves an invisible microphone in Alexandra’s face and asks, “How does it feel to be America’s Next Top Model?” Alexandra wordlessly slaps Raina’s hand away. Hilarious!!

There’s a montage of Raina dancing around and screaming, “FINAL FOUR!!” about a billion times.

Alexandra is not alone. “Maybe she can ride her strong face through to win it,” Alexandra muses.

“I knew you would,” says Krista.

“Really?” fawns Raina, thinking somebody’s finally being nice to her.

“Yeah,” deadpans Krista, “that face.” She says it with a hint of disgust. It is perfect. Boy, the editing works. I totally want Krista to win.

Raina explains that the rest of the girls just can’t handle the fact that they can’t rattle her. She believes that her story is that of the ugly duckling who found volleyball. “And modeling,” she hastily tacks on.

Angelea feels like the underdog. It’s been a while since she’s had a win, and everyone else seems to be on a hot streak. But she says she’ll be darned (edited!) if Krista wins. “America’s ready to see somebody like me be Top Model,” she insists. I’ll be darned if that’s true.

ALT visits the girls with armloads of flowers. That’s sweet!

Krista’s nervous because the girls are all in their “house clothes” and she’s afraid of being called “dreckitude.”

ALT gives them primers on how to act with designers of different nationalities.

Krista asks about the origins of “dreckitude.” ALT simply defines “dreck” and leaves it at that.

The rest is sadly boring. Except for the fact that he used to lick stamps for Andy Warhol (not a euphemism) and lived at the YMCA “with the real cockroaches and the human cockroaches.”

"Lick my stamps."

Angelea feels that she and ALT understand each other because she, too, came from the gutter.

ALT gives them a few last words of encouragement and then doles out hugs and kisses. I am jealous.

Tyra Mail! “Time to get ready for a different kind of runway. Pack an overnight bag. Love, Tyra.” Cue Raina screams.

The girls get to the airport, where Jay meets them. They’re going to Queenstown for a photoshoot on “diverse terrain.”

Raina’s looking forward to showing everyone how great she is, by which she simply means “better than Krista.”

The girls are on the plane and a voice comes over the PA. It’s Jay Alexander. Both Jays are there.

They are going to have to stomp down the aisle of an airplane in flight, passengers and all. It’s a runway challenge!

Please, it’s not like it’s a train or a boat. Planes aren’t nearly as unstable.

Boh Runga jewelry is the prize. Krista says that the prize is amazing. I doubt she has ever heard of Boh Runga.

Hmm, cute.

The girls are supposed to show their personalities, as Tyra has often done.

Alexandra gushes that she has heels in her bag — she’s a model that’s prepared!!

Krista hilariously confesses that she wanted to punch Alexandra in the throat. “Are you guys gonna wear your heels??” she squawks in imitation of Alexandra.

It just gets better and better. Angelea only has one heel. I once flew to Ireland with a pair of heels in my suitcase and, when I landed, there was only one left. I bet Angelea has found my other Enzo Angiolini pump.

I know it's out there somewhere.

Alexandra goes first. She walks down the aisle, grabs a pair of sunglasses, puts them on like Horatio Caine and keeps walking. Jay Manuel comments that she’s trying, but it was a little stiff.

"Alexandra must have been bad (*puts on sunglasses*) because it looks like she wants to get Cained." YEEEEAAAAAHHHH!!!!!

She reaches the end of the runway and mimics a flight attendant pointing out the exit doors. But fiercer! It’s actually kinda cute, though. On her return to the front of the cabin, she keeps stopping to pose, and Jay Alexander does not approve. I will say that she looks like she had a good time.

Jay Alexander pushes her, and tells her to be playful. She doesn’t think she can go as nuts as Alexandra, but keeps a smile on her face and puts on sunglasses. “I love how she’s working her little jacket,” comments Jay Manuel. I think they like her.

Manuel calls Angelea “Miss My Left Foot,” and tells her she’s up. She is wearing one heel, and her walk is so super-janky. Raina judges her for not taking the challenge seriously. Krista’s commentary is the best; she says, “Child, she look like she just came up off the street, like, ‘Ha! Yes. Yes. You, too, boo; don’t forget about me.” Jay Alexander mimics her. Ooh, that was bad.

Raina shows no personality. She just flips her hair. Jay Manuel says she walks like a linebacker. Raina shows us how out of touch she is with reality by complimenting her own walk, saying that she was really fun and flirty and engaged the audience. I’m sure that the other passengers are just like, “What the??? And where is that stewardess with my pretzels and cranberry juice?”

Jay Manuel comments on each of the girls.

Alexandra took their advice, but stopped and started too much.

Raina didn’t bring the grace and elegance of her photos to her walk.

Angelea doesn’t handle new tasks well. She’s not like a model.

Jay Alexander comments on Krista’s walk and tells her that she needs to take longer steps.

There can only be one winner. It’s Krista. Duh. She acts all shocked, but she had to have known that she would win.

The other passengers applaud listlessly. Seriously, what do you have to do to get an extra blanket around here?

Alexandra is upset. She feels like she’s putting so much into it, but just can’t win. “I don’t handle losing well at all,” she admits. That explains why she just keeps gaining! ZING!!

They arrive in Queenstown and drive an hour away. NZ is so freakin’ beautiful I can hardly stand it.

Jay Manuel tells us that Queenstown got its name from this beauty, because it’s “fit for a queen.” Where’s Jay Alexander, then?

The photoshoot will focus on the “ugly-pretty” look that Tyra’s always blathering on about. The landscape will be the pretty, and the girls will provide the ugly. My head explodes trying to calculate which joke I should insert here.

Then Jay drops the bomb that two of them will go home at this elimination.

Angelea comments, “That is some drama fo you a$$.” Lordy me, I hope that Angelea gets dropped.

Jay sends the girls off to hair and makeup, calling after them, “Watch the sheep poop!”

This shoot is going to be super-editorial, which I love. I think I love ugly-pretty.

Alexandra’s nervous about the double elimination.

Krista quips: “At the end of the day, I’m not gonna be happy is Angelea makes America’s Next Top Model.” Oh, Krista, you are a delight.

Jay loves Krista off the bat. She’s rockin’ it out. Jay comments that her eyes are the only part of her that are still trying to give “soft, serene, and pretty.” Krista explains that she tried to give a variety of different looks. She feels like she got a great shot, but isn’t sure if it’ll be enough to put her in the Top Two.

Angelea’s wearing a corset, and it’s tight. “I don’t see how they wore those back in the day, trying to be cute.”

Alexandra is also wearing a corset. The stylist says she looks like “George Washington’s wife.” Uh, that would be Martha.

She does bear a remarkable resemblance to Alexandra.

Alexandra says that it’s been a while since a plus-sized model won ANTM. Uh, it wasn’t that long ago.

"Hi, there, remember me?" That was only Cycle 10.

The photographer stops to direct her a bit. Jay tells her that what she’s doing is beautiful, but not quite edgy enough. He wants her to get uglier. She does, and the results are satisfactory.

Raina shows up in an amazing tulle gown. Jay talks to Raina about her weakness: she doesn’t like to step outside the box. She needs to step it up a notch.

Her shots are pretty, but not ugly or edgy enough. She just doesn’t seem to get it. He tells her she’s still trying to control herself too much. Jay tells her she took his direction well, but he wishes she could find a way to step out of her standard box of poses.

Angelea is determined to do what she wants to do and not overthink it. Her looks are too blandly sweet. Jay complains that she’s just giving him “model.” He wants more anger and intensity. “Jay be callin’ my a$$ out,” laughs Angelea. He asks her if she gets what he means by “ugly-pretty.” She says it makes her mad when he gives her negative feedback, and she wishes she could tune him out. That’s called “not taking criticism well,” honey.

She claims to understand, but it is clear that she does not. She finally gets a few awkward and cool shots. Jay can tell she’s not comfortable with him pushing her, though. He reminds her of how she pulled it out of nowhere for the Cover Girl subway shoot. He asks her what she did that night. “The honest answer?” she asks.

He asks for the honest answer. She replies that she was tired of him harping on her all the time. He tells her that she needs to find a place where she can say, “I’m doing this for me.” That doesn’t make a lick of sense.

“I did all I can do,” shrugs Angelea.

The girls return to the loft to find Krista’s prizes on the dining room table. “Yay, me!” rears its ugly head again.

She gets $2,000 worth of jewelry from Boh Runga. Since she got best pic last week, she also gets an additional $1,000. If I were here, I would totally sell it. I’m just like that; I’d rather have the money. This coming from someone who wrote for a jewelry blog for a year.

Raina complains that Krista only cares about herself. What, just because she won a ginormo prize and didn’t offer to share it with you? The grapes. They is sour.

Tyra Mail! Eliminations!

Krista feels sick to her stomach. She doesn’t want to go back to being a store manager.

Alexandra’s nervous. All she’s ever wanted is to be a model, and everyone’s always told her, “No, no, no” because she doesn’t have the body type.

Angelea is also nervous.

Raina is sure that Krista will be in the Top Two. She just hopes to be there with her. That actually raises an interesting question. I’m sure that Krista will make it, and I’m fairly certain that Angelea will not. So the big question is not “who will win?” I’m sure that’s going to be Krista. What I really want to know is: Who will be runner up?

Panel! Tyra is afflicting us with yet another awful jumpsuit. She is SO trying to make “fetch” happen.


That is so fetch!

The guest judge is Jay Manuel.

There will be a double elimination, and the finalists will be “stomping to the death” in an Anna Sui fashion show. That’s actually kind of a big deal; Anna Sui’s a big-name designer.

Of course Tyra has to mention that she walked in an Anna Sui show when she was “just a little young’un like y’all.”

Oh, the jumpsuit. The agony, the agony!

Raina is first. Her best shot is… okay, I guess. It looks like a still from a period film. It’s supposed to be ugly-pretty, and I think that’s mostly accomplished by her eyebrows. Jay mentions that she struggled on set because she was so fixated on being pretty-pretty. Tyra didn’t think she succeeded in getting out of the box.

Angelea is next. Tyra compliments her dress, which was from her go-see challenge win. ALT tells her that she has a wardrobe that will last her for seasons. Jay tells her that she wasn’t very creative. She looks very uncomfortable in the photo. That’s not “ugly-pretty,” IMO. ALT likes the pic because she looks so ethnic. What’s with ALT and the “ethnic” comments? Tyra likes the pic because she looks so haunted in the pic. She’s haunted by her looming elimination, IMO. Jay goes back to the Cover Girl shoot again and tells her she can recapture that because the power comes from within her. Meh.

Krista’s next, and the judges applaud her challenge win and her look at panel. She does look great. Her shot is freakin’ amazing. She’s totally going to win. Tyra loves the androgyny of her face. “This could be a dude!” she gushes. Heehee! ALT is emotional. He thinks the photo is exceptional. He exclaims that she could book John Galliano with this pic. His voice breaks a little as he tells her, “You have no idea how beautiful this is to me.” Jay compliments how she stepped up to the creativity of the set. Tyra tells her that she created space so that we can see the background through certain body parts. Throughout her critique, we see shots of the other girls standing there, looking forlorn as Krista is praised to the skies. They totally know that they can’t catch her, now. It’ll be a fight to the finish for second place.

Alexandra is up. Her pic is… interesting. Nigel thinks it looks like a still from a movie, which might not be a great thing. Jay thinks she swung a little too far and got “ugly-ugly” instead of “ugly-pretty.” Tyra likes that she’s playing with her hand. ALT sees something in her face that projects personality.

Deliberations! Nigel says this feels like final eliminations. Tyra and Jay both agree. I think it’s because they all know Krista’s going to win, so it’s a nail-biter to figure out who’s going to be runner-up.

Raina. Nigel thinks she’s really blossomed, and he sees real talent emerging. Jay thinks she’s an undeniable beauty who takes direction well, but she might not have the versatility because of her “laser focus” on what she thinks she needs to be. ALT says she seems to want to be there, but he doesn’t get an emotional response from her that he’s seen in others.
Krista. ALT has never seen any dreckitude from her, and she’s consistently listened, learned, watched, and observed. Her latest photo shows the height of her growth. “From dreck to the trek,” quips Tyra. Jay says that she focuses so much on her body that she struggles the most with her face. She’s usually lacking in expression, and it’s almost time for that Cover Girl shoot.
Alexandra. Nigel thinks she has one of the best plus-sized shapes he’s seen in a long time. She’ll get work in plus-sized modeling industry. Jay says that she’s always aware of her angle and eyeline to the camera. She can work that body. Tyra thinks she’s stunning. She’s sweet and nice, but Tyra doesn’t know who she is. ALT agrees.
Angelea. Jay says that she’s always like, “I’m here. What you want me to do, boo?” but then doesn’t do it. ALT thinks she needs exposure, travel, and meeting other types of people. Jay asks ALT if, when he looks at Angelea, he thinks she sees this competition as the end or the beginning. That’s actually kind of a good question. He says that he thinks that if Angelea doesn’t win, she won’t ever try modeling again. He says that her career isn’t up to them, but up to her. Tyra talks about models who didn’t win, but are working: Fatima, Anya, Katarzyna, Mollie Sue.

Fatima: "I'm"

Anya: "Working"

Katarzyna: "After"

Mollie Sue: "ANTM!"

A decision has been made. The girls are called back in.

So who are our finalists?

Krista is one, of course. She screams with joy and shoves Alexandra in her glee. Her picture was absolutely incredible. She totally deserves to win.

Alexandra, Raina, and Angelea step forward. Only one will be a finalist.

Alexandra has an amazing combo of face and body, but her pix are inconsistent. Raina is “the second coming of Brooke Shields.” Did she ever leave? Anyway, Raina has eyes like a wolf, but lacks creativity and falls flat when asked to step outside her comfort zone. Angelea has an edgy face, but the judges wonder if she can take critique and still forge ahead.

So who’s the finalist who will compete with Krista?

It’s Raina. She is shocked into silence. I can’t believe it. Not that she’s a finalist, but that she’s silent.

Krista does not look pleased. Oh, please. Like it matters. Girl, you’ve got this thing in the bag.

Tyra goes to hug Alexandra and Angelea. She calls Alexandra “the second coming of amazingness.” Angelea is crying. Tyra encourages her to learn how to take critique and still keep her head held high.

The girls hug each other goodbye. Angelea informs the judges that they will see her again. Not likely.

She does a “hammer dance.”

“See that? That’s what I’m talking about,” says Tyra. “This is not the first rejection. But you’ve gotta keep moving on.” Huh? Is that supposed to be comforting in any way?

Now that the sad faces have been banished from the room, the finalists are free to celebrate.

Anna Sui wants happy, smiling faces on the runway, which is a departure from the usual deadpan fierceface that they usually give.

“I am so mad,” sighs Alexandra. She came because she knew she’d make a great model, and wanted to give fat girls something to believe in. We see her portfolio, and her face really is great. She is wearing ridiculously short shorts. Girl, no. She says that her modeling career is about to take off, and she can’t wait for it to.

“Angelea is still a winner. I’m still that ***ch; I don’t care what nobody says.” She says, “even though I’m not in the final two, I’m still America’s Next Top Model. I don’t care.” Oh, my.

So, before we take a look at the finale, let’s rank the photos from this leg of the journey, shall we?

4. Angelea

America's Next Top Model

Anybody know where the nearest port-a-potty is?

This was clearly the worst picture of the bunch. She looks like she’s gotta take a crap. As far as her pictures are concerned, she’s come a long way; much further than I ever thought she could, I’ll admit.

But in person, she’s still a terror, and she’s going to have to really work on that if she wants to have a career after ANTM.

3. Raina

America's Next Top Model

I wanna be America's Next Top Model soooooo baaaaaaaaad.

Raina’s pic is only slightly better than Angelea’s. I really don’t like her face at all; she looks like she’s sick, psychotic, or both. And this was the pic that got her into the final? Shenanigans.

2. Alexandra

America's Next Top Model

Yes, I'll be taking over the world now that I'm done with this show.

I was actually quite surprised by Alexandra’s performance in the competition. She kept getting better and better, and her pix actually ended up looking consistently better than she did at panel (some of her outfits were truly ghastly).

She actually has a chance at a successful plus-sized modeling career after this. I can’t believe I’m saying it, either.

1. Krista

America's Next Top Model

Perfection.

Krista has earned her win with this picture. It’s perfection. That’s all that can be said, really. I didn’t like Krista much at the beginning of the competition; I thought her look was too harsh. But she totally proved me wrong. Her pix have been just amazing. She deserves the win.

Thoughts?

America’s Next Top Model, C14E09 Recap: “Hobbits vs. Models”

Last week: The girls got to New Zealand and went on go-sees. ALT’s salon princess, Alasia, got the boot.

Who’s gettin’ the boot this week?

Raina congratulates the rest of the girls for making the Top Five. She is sooo fake.

Alexandra says she needs to take out all of these “skinny tarts.” She inexplicably says she’s like Donkey Kong. Draw your own inferences there.

Jessica knows that she needs to work harder to look “more fierce.” Good luck with that, catalog honey.

Krista’s picture is up in the hamsters’ apartment. The other girls are clearly jealous as Krista cheers for herself.

Krista declares: “I’m gonna run right past ’em and throw a deuce up at ’em.” Uh, I hope she means a peace sign and not the deuce I’m thinkin’ of.

Sorry, but this is just where my mind goes when I hear the word "deuce."

Angelea can’t understand why Krista keeps getting #1. She says she’s not as close to Krista as she used to be, and she thinks it’s because the competition’s getting more serious. Uh, you think? Could it be possible that you guys are hating on each other because you don’t want your friend to get what you want so badly?

It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that a competition ruined a friendship. Not that I’d call a relationship formed on ANTM a “friendship,” really.

Jessica starts talking about the fam. I guess that means she’s getting the boot this week. She talks about missing them and, in an attempt to get more of a “homey” feeling in the loft, she decides to make tacos for everyone.

Jessica tries to warm taco shells on top of the toaster and ends up starting a fire. The girls freak out. If this weren’t such an obviously staged fire, they would all sooooo be dead.

I know of at least one person who wouldn't have approved how all of this went down.

Krista and Alexandra, who are suddenly BFF, mercilessly tease Jessica for failing to make tacos without starting a ginormo fire. Jessica will never try to cook again. Sorry, husband and child. You’ll have to either get super-skinny from not eating or super-fat from eating out all the time.

Krista grills Jessica about not cooking at home. She says that she just makes side dishes. Krista asks her if she works, and she admits that she’s a stay-at-home mom. Yet, she doesn’t cook. Krista and Alexandra seem to think that a mom must have plenty of time to cook every day because taking care of a baby is easy! Morons.

“Your baby is totally screwed,” comments Krista. Alexandra calls her an idiot. It’s quite ignorant and mean. But Jessica is also ignorant and occasionally mean, so that’s moot.

Tyra Mail! “Who says you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole? Love Tyra!”

They don’t understand what this means, and Raina recites it from memory as they drive to the site. “My name is Raina and I know everything word for word,” mimics Alexandra in a high-pitched voice. Krista and Alexandra are totally antagonizing the rest of the girls., and I’m sure it’s going to eventually bite one of them in the butt. It’ll probably be Alexandra. There’s so much more of her butt to bite, you see.

Raina used to be an ugly kid and then found volleyball and became competitive. How that makes sense to anyone, only Raina knows. She says that NZ’s beauty is going to keep her from taking all the teasing to heart.

The girls get to visit Hobbiton, and I am super-jealous. “Look at all the poop!” cries one of the girls.

Idyllic. New Zealand was made to be Hobbiton.

Jay Manuel meets them at the Hobbiton movie set. It is beautiful. Sara McLeod is there to help judge the challenge. She played Hobbit Rosie Cotton (that cute hobbit that Samwise Gamgee has a crush on) in Lord of the Rings.

Girlfriend makes an adorable hobbit.

Angelea has never seen it. She’s officially more clueless than Jessica. Ms. McLeod has the strongest Kiwi accent of all time.

The girls each get five frames to pose in the doorway of the hobbitholes.

The outfits that the girls will be wearing are from World Design.

Alexandra starts. She says that she’s not about to let her being plus-sized get in her way. No, that only gets in the way when she’s trying to tie her shoes.

Krista recognizes that she and Angelea have drifted apart. She thinks it’s because of the competition. It probably is. “Yay, me!” is quickly becoming Krista’s favorite catch phrase.

Angelea rolls her eyes.

Jessica is screwing up royally. She’s too literal and has no energy. Her shoot is too commercial. Alexandra says: “Like, I thought I was looking at a Dillard’s catalog.” I’m sure that she’s the only one of these girls who has ever seen a Dillard’s catalog.

dillards

She's going to need this in a bigger size.

Raina has to wear the most awful green pants. She says she’s inspired by the scenery. She is such a fake.

Alexandra was too pinup-y in her shoot.

Raina’s use of the space wasn’t comfortable.

Jessica was too standard.

Angelea’s was simple, but it worked.

Krista’s length in her arms and neck. Krista thinks Angelea needs to learn that there’s no way she can win this competition. Subtle.

Angelea’s sure that this is her redemption. She threatens to light Krista on fire. Like Jessica’s tacos?

The winner get $3,000 worth of clothes from World Design. And the prize goes to Krista. Since she also got best photo last week, she actually gets an extra $1,500 on top of the $3,000. Angelea is furious. Krista gloats shamelessly. Just a little sensitivity, hon. You’ve gotta know when to stop.

“Yay, me!” hits us again.

Angelea snits, “I don’t care. She can keep them clothes. I’ll buy new clothes when I get that contract.”

Back at the ranch, Krista and Alexandra mock Angelea’s “club thing” last week.


It’s okay, Nigel. I still don’t get it, either.

Angelea, sporting Ugly Headwrap #17, complains about the teasing and insists that she was just trying to have fun. Krista has no sympathy for her because Angelea dished out plenty of mocking to the other girls, and now that she’s the target of the teasing, she suddenly thinks that others should pull punches with her. She has a point.

Angelea tries not to let it affect her because she “grew up on [sic] Buffalo.” Apparently, the schools in Buffalo aren’t the best. She says that she refuses to let the other girls get to her. Looks like it’s a little too late for that.

Tyra Mail! “If you want to be a true top model, you might have to shadow one.”

The girls have no idea what this means, and Jessica ventures a guess. Krista calls Jessica’s guess lame, and then calls Jessica lame and walks off. That was just a touch unnecessarily belligerent. Jessica gets all wide-eyed and hurt. She misses her fam and wishes she could go home just for a day and then fly right back. I’m thinking that she’s going back to be with them on a more permanent basis.

Alexandra complains about Raina’s fakeness to Krista. Krista says that she just focuses on her shoot and that, with a little practice, Alexandra can, too. Considering how mean Krista’s been this episode, I was surprised to see her being so diplomatic in private.

It’s a good thing she was diplomatic because Raina chooses that moment to interrupt them. “Morning, glories!” she chirps perkily over the balcony railing. “Oh, Mylanta!” she gushes. Alexandra is totally right about Raina.

Jay Manuel meets the girls at a vineyard. He informs them that they literally plant the vines so that the grapes get maximum light for ripening. The girls will have to find the light in a lot of shadows.

“Because you never know what lurks in the shadows!” interrupts a voice from around the corner. It’s Tyra! RUN!!

Watch out for them shadows. They can bite you.

She’s shooting a shadow-shoot with the girls. Apparently, she’s always wanted to do this shoot, and she tells them, “You get to be my lucky specimens.” Seriously, RUN, girls!!

They’ll be playing with shadows. They’re looking for the light in each shot. There will be mud in the girls’ hair, for no discernible reason.

The girls are excited and nervous about shooting with Tyra. “Yo, Tyra cool as hell,” Angelea informs us.

Tyra walks into hair and makeup and tells the girls to start thinking about “shadows, secrets, what are you hiding?” The other girls practice, but Jessica just stares blankly at herself in the mirror. She’s totally psyching herself out.

The girls get clay in their hair, and Alexandra goes first. She’s supposed to find the light through the shadow, but there doesn’t seem to be much shadow to me, since the “shadow” is being formed by a lace tablecloth being held above her. She needs to “find the light through the fabric.” Seems to be plenty of light to me.

Tyra wants her to get more “danger” in her face, and gives her a whole story to think about. Tyra loved shooting Alexandra. She had a runny nose and kept sniffling. I bet that helps with the “inhale” in her photos.

Jessica is next, and she suddenly can’t stop talking about her fam. She’s so outta here.

Jessica is “a sweet girl with a secret,” according to Tyra. But her shoot too commercial and she can’t get too angry and weird. She’s quite boring. She can’t do “ugly-pretty” or weird. But then Tyra tells her to get all sexy and she finally gets it.

Angelea says that she’s sure that all the fake friendship in the house is going to stop. That is a surprise to no one.

Jay tells Raina to find the same love for last week’s dress for this week’s panties. Because that’s all she’s going to be wearing.

Tyra had been looking forward to shooting Raina’s “wolf eyes,” but was disappointed. “She gave me Siberian Husky, but not wolf.”

Hey, Huskies are fierce, too. (Also: SUCK IT, Rowles.)

Alexandra exults that “Raina’s finally — FINALLY! — starting to go downhill.” And that’s not petty at all.

Raina’s finished and gives Tyra a naked hug. Weeeiiiird.

Angelea’s determined to do well because she sucked last week. Her shoot is boring. She’s too “high school portrait,” according to Tyra. Tyra tries to motivate her by telling her, “You’re tired and hot and you’ve got a secret.” What’s with Tyra and the secrets?

Angelea was “sweet soft and blah.” Tyra told her to just be dead, and she finally got it. Because dead face is just second nature to Angelea.

The sun is quickly setting. They’re losing light for Krista’s shoot. Krista wants to try soft and pretty instead of mean. They’re chasing the light. Tyra wants more cheetah from Krista. “You’re a cheetah with a secret!” Tyra is seriously obsessed.

Double suck-it, Rowles. Also, I wonder what this cheetah's secret is. Because, according to Tyra, everybody's got a secret.

Krista gets it and turns out some amazing photos.

Raina says that everyone had a good shoot today. Uh, did she not hear any of the criticisms? I heard plenty. She’s so fake.

The girls all still have mud iin their hair as they ride home on the bus.

Tyra mail! Eliminations!

Raina doesn’t want to go home. DUH.

Panel! Sara McLeod is the guest judge this week. Tyra tells us that she was in Lord of the “Rangs”. “That’s how you say it in Inglewood! Holla!” Okay, okay, you rose up to your fame from the ghetto. We get it.

Nigel tells Alexandra that she looks great. This baffles me, as she is wearing a tank top that makes her look just like a tank. But her shot is beautiful. Nigel totally gets what Tyra was trying to do with the sense of wonder in the photo. I fear for his sanity. ALT praises Tyra’s creativity. Just as I’m about to complain that this panel has degenerated into “All Praise Tyra Time,” ALT chimes in that he thinks Alexandra looks almost ethnic, like she’s from Istanbul. That would make her Turkish, no, ALT?

And of course the mention of Istanbul immediately makes me think of this:


I loved “Tiny Toons.”

Raina’s pic is rather dark. Her face is too angry. Tyra actually likes the anger because it’s different from Raina’s usual shots. Tyra didn’t feel any passion in the shoot though.

Angelea is wearing a beautiful dress that she won from last week’s challenge and then she promptly ghettos it up by striking a goofy pose.

The photo is calm, but the close-up isn’t that good, though. Nigel gives her some good advice about looking beyond the camera in a shot. Kinda like following through in golf or tennis or baseball or even bowling.

And even singing, apparently.

Jessica is unenthusiastic, but Sara McLeod is interested by her pic. ALT thinks it’s pretty, but he’s at a loss for words as to explain why he disapproves of the pic, and he asks Nigel for help. Nigel simply says that she doesn’t have enough intensity. We can’t see past the shadow to her.

Krista, on the other hand found perfect light and her profile is gorgeous. ALT thinks her shot is cover-quality. Tyra loved her variety. At this rate, if she doesn’t win this cycle, it’ll be a complete shock.

Deliberations.

Alexandra. Nigel loves the picture. “Thank you,” gushes Tyra. Uh, I think he was trying to compliment Alexandra, Tyra. ALT loves her “ethnic” look. If ALT were white, people would probably accuse him of being racist.
Raina. ALT didn’t like this at all. He saw all anger and not beauty. She didn’t push.
Angelea. Nigel noticed that her body is much better because she’s on the ground, and it forces her to relax her shoulders. But her eyes were lost.
Jessica. The picture didn’t do anything for anybody. But she does have a lot of enthusiasm on set, which is a plus. But her face and passion aren’t strong enough to model high concept.
Krista. ALT thinks it’s totally vu, whatever that means.

The judges have made their decision.

The usual spiel. Only four photos in her hands, you know.

So who’s this week’s winner?

Krista. No surprise there. But she has the tact to act somewhat surprised.

Runner-up is Alexandra, and she actually really deserves it. But, man, she looks bigger than ever at panel this week.

Angelea is third. She doesn’t seem quite so dejected this week, which is a plus, I suppose.

Jessica and Raina step forward. Jessica totally knows she’s out.

But let’s go through the pleasantries, shall we? Jessica is so sweet, so pretty — so commercial. It’s a money-maker, but not a career-maker. But if she concentrates she can be edgy. Raina knows how to evoke romance and renaissance and couture, but falls flat when it comes to edge. So who’s still in the running?

Raina’s in. That’s no surprise. Tyra was excited to shoot Raina, but was disappointed. The camera inexplicably cuts to Jessica as Tyra critiques Raina.

She moves on to Jessica, our ousted hamster. “Commercial is the kiss of death on this show,” Tyra says, but she encourages Jessica to prove the judges wrong. Jessica hugs Raina and Angelea and takes her leave.

She’s excited to see her family and is determined to move to California or New York to continue to pursue her modeling career. Uh, good luck with that, husband and baby. Because, obviously, what’s best for YOU doesn’t matter at all.

Next week on the show: The Final Four get a surprise at the photoshoot. TWO will be eliminated!! And the final two will stomp it out on the runway for the win. Next week is the two-hour cycle finale!! Blessed release!

And now it’s time for RANKINGS!

So, the stupid CW hasn’t posted all the pix, yet, so I’m going to have to go blanksies on some of these until they’re posted.

5. Jessica

America's Next Top Model

Over-the-top eye roll.

There’s no question that Jessica earned the boot that gently helped her out the door this week. This pic is largely unremarkable — except for the fact that her eyes are rolled so far back in her head that I’m surprised she’s not hemorrhaging. I think I can see where her optic nerve attaches to her eyeball.

I think she’s trying for one of these:

Fail. On so many different levels.

4. Angelea

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

You're dead to me.

I could not for the life of me understand how Angelea beat Raina out of the Bottom Two this week. I didn’t think Raina’s pic was spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but Angelea’s was so boring. The only thing saving her from being the bottom pic for me is the fact that her eye-position isn’t giving me a headache or aneurysm.

But that’s hardly a compliment, now, is it?

3. Raina

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

Hungry like the Siberian Husky.

Raina really just looked bored in this picture. She’s supposed to look fierce, but all I’m getting from her is the kind of stare the cool kids in school would give me in middle school when I ventured to volunteer an answer in class. You know, like: “Is she seriously going to try and talk in class?? Who is this loser, anyway?”

SHUT IT, RAINA! I’M JUST AS GOOD AS YOU!!

2. Alexandra

America's Next Top Model

Soft 'n' pretty.

This is a good pic. Granted, I think Alexandra lucked out with a very soft shadow, whereas most of the other girls had to work with some crazy shadows. But her soft look with the soft shadow and the soft light is just so soft and pretty that it makes me want to cuddle up with some down comforters and just look at this picture until I fall asleep on a cloud.

And since this is just a face shot, she doesn’t look plus-sized at all. Maybe it shouldn’t, but it works in her favor in this shot.

1. Krista

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL

Heil, Krista!

Despite the fact that the shape of the shadows are uncomfortably reminiscent of a swastika to me, this picture is absolutely amazing. Despite the harsh shadows, her face looks soft. It’s clear that she’s looking up, but not hard enough to have a stroke over it (take note, Jessica). Her pose is simple, but that’s good, since it doesn’t compete with the complex shadows playing over her face.

(By the way, this is totally unrelated, but this video spoof of Inglourious Basterds cracked me up.)

So that’s my take. What did you think?

Cannonball 26: The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson & the Olympians #4) by Rick Riordan

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4) The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Now, that’s more like it.

The first thing I NEED to say is that this book FINALLY addresses the question of Annabeth’s conception and birth, which has been bugging me ever since book one. She’s supposed to be a daughter of Athena, who was a virgin goddess. And it went down just like I thought it would. You may peek into my brain if you want to know what I thought would be the only way to justify it. Or you could also just read the book.

But on with the review.

After three interesting and decently-written installments in the series, Riordan really hits his stride in Book 4. This book was fantastic; he ties up some loose ends while introducing some interesting new characters and brings back our core group for some gripping adventures and a few twists that were surprisingly worked in with a deft and subtle hand — not something I generally expect in a children’s book. Especially not one written by the author of the craptastic The Maze of Bones.

The Battle of the Labyrinth starts with the usual: Percy getting chased down by monsters at his latest school. But, this time, he’s surprised to find a human girl there who can see through The Mist, which causes humans to see mythical things in a human light (for example, hideous monsters look like human cheerleaders through The Mist). Rachel Elizabeth Dare can see through the mist better than even half-bloods like Percy can — a gift that Percy’s mother also possesses.

After the attack, he returns to Camp Half-Blood and participates in a dangerous game of Capture the Flag, during which he discovers an entrance to the mythical Labyrinth on the grounds. He quickly realizes that Luke Castellan, a former camper and son of Hermes who is currently working for the Titan Kronos, the series’ Big Bad, is planning to use this entrance as a base to stage a sneak attack on the camp.

He and his friends must act fast if they want to save the camp.

There were some genuinely moving moments in this installment, which I can’t really discuss without spoiling the novel. But I will say that I thought these twists were artfully done. I was touched by the humanity given to these mythological characters. Riordan touched on some interesting themes in this novel, including human loss and suffering, as well as providing some super-fun action.

This was hands-down the best novel in the series so far, and if things keep improving in this fashion, I can’t wait to read The Last Olympian.

View all my reviews >>

America’s Next Top Model, C14E08 Recap: “Welcome to New Zealand”

Sorry about the delay on this recap — I got distracted and couldn’t get to it until today! Now, on with the show!

Last week: Anslee got the boot! We discovered that the girls are going to New Zealand!

We join the action already in progress — the girls are headed to NZ!

Alexandra confesses that she deserved to be in the bottom last week. But she’s looking forward to starting over with a clean slate in NZ.

Krista gets to fly first class to NZ, and we are reminded she chose Angelea to fly with her.

Krista’s happy to get the #1 photo, but she’s determined that it won’t stop there.

The girls pack. Alasia says that other girls underestimated her because they think she’s stupid or something. Now, whatever would give them that idea?

Krista and Angelea lounge in first class, which looks ossom. I wanna fly first class so bad. It doesn’t even matter where. Although I wouldn’t mind Prague this time of year.

Jessica says that she thought NZ was “like, just above Canada or something.” Then she says it’s because she got married so young. Say what?? Did I forget that fact?? I seem to vaguely remember her mentioning something about getting pregnant her first time out the gate, but I just assumed that was either Anslee or Brenda, since they’re the only other girls who have mentioned having children every episode they were on.

In retrospect, I’m thankful that Jessica isn’t yammering on about her kid all the time, using her family as an excuse for being on the show. It’s clear that she’s here primarily for herself. At least she’s honest.

She goes on to explain that, once they land, they arrive in this field, and “there are tribal men there with these little butt-flaps.” Wow, Jessica. That is just so culturally sensitive and not offensive at all.

The Maori tribesmen do a traditional dance. It scares the crap out of Raina. The dance requires the men to waggle their tongues rapidly like Gene Simmons.

I wanna rock & roll all night!

They’re on a volcano that’s sacred to the Maori people. Jay Alexander and a judge from NZNTM (figure that out, geniuses) are there, and the judge gives the girls a short lesson on Maori culture and history. The look sooo interested.

Then Jay tells them that they’re going on go-sees — right now.

The girls are all shocked. “And we smell like yesterday! Just nasty,” quips Krista. The girls all hop into their cabs and screech off.

Angelea informs her cabbie that his country is beautiful. She sees all the other girls going to one place, and she informs us that she’s smarter than these other girls, so she’s going to beat them to all the go-sees. Somehow I doubt that.

Actually, they’re all dumb, so maybe that’s relatively true.

Raina sees Alexandra headed to a location and outruns her plus-sized booty. Alexandra’s furious, but she decides to hit a different location instead. And eat a whole pie by herself, later.

The designer hates Raina’s slow walk, but loves her face.

Alasia finds a location, and the designer loves her look. It’s swimwear and she’s got the body for it.

Alexandra runs into Krista because all of the girls had the same idea of starting with the last stop.

Angelea’s plan to head in a different direction than all of the other girls works out for her, and she’s shown up alone to a bunch of different designers. So far, they all love her, too.

Jessica’s designer thinks she’s too commercial.

A designer with a Miniature Schnauzer loved Krista. Aww, I used to have a Mini-Schnau. She was our first dog. I thought we’d get a big dog, like a German Shepherd, so I was sorely disappointed when we got to the breeder’s place to find all these toy dogs running around. But we learned to love her and named her after our neighbors’ dog, since they had a Mini-Schnau, too. She died when she was only two of canine parvovirus. Tootsie, I miss you!!

This isn't my dog, but you can imagine how adorably our Tootsie was, right? Right?

Enough with the schmaltz. On with the snark!

Some designers thought Alexandra was too casual. I guess “casual” means “chubby” in Kiwi.

Another designer says that Jessica is too commercial.

Krista gets to the swimwear. She’s walking for the designer when Raina walks in, so she decides to put on a little show for her. Raina was next, but her body “and her personality,” according to the designer, weren’t great. Ha!!

It’s raining cats and dogs in NZ, btw.

Angelea has hit five go-sees. She was one designer’s favorite girl of the day.

OOh, a designer slams Alexandra for wearing uggs and having bad skin. Hey, UGGs are from Australia! They’re your NEIGHBORS!! BE NICE, YOU KIWIS!!

Say "UGH" for UGGs!

Krista insults Alasia’s walk, “like she just wanna be holdin’ her purse at church and goin’, ‘Yes, Lord!'” Krista’s description is pretty freakin’ hilarious, and Alasia’s walk, it must be confessed, is pretty bad.

One designer finally loves Jess. She decides not to risk being late, so she heads back to the agency and is the first back.

Another designer loves Angelea. She made every single go-see AND got back on time, which has to be a Top Model first.

Alexandra makes it in just under the wire.

Krista is late — and guilty of sporting Ugly Headwrap #14. Angelea gloats over Krista’s tardiness and defends her smugness by insisting that Krista would probably be secretly pleased if Angelea was late. That’s probably true.

Raina’s also running late, so she decides to walk, which turns out to be a mistake because she gets looooost. In the rain, no less.

The girls laugh at a bedraggled Raina as she straggles in, soaked. She consoles herself that she’s not the very last. “But we all knew [Alasia] would be late.”

Alasia is late because she left her map at her last designer’s!! She ends up being forty-five minutes late. This is a girl after my own heart.

Sara Tetro is there, and she is the host of NZNTM. With her is Chris Sisarich, a judge on the show.

Can I just call it KNTM (K is for Kiwi)?

Krista won last week, though, so she still wins clothing from each of the designers. She screeches with glee, but her glee is short-lived when she hastily realizes that she’s still in the doghouse for being late. The three who were late don’t get any feedback from their go-sees and are kicked out of the room.

The on-time girls get feedback, though.

Jessica’s is not good. She booked one out of four, mostly because she didn’t have much personality and she looks too commercial.

Alexandra was not prepared and didn’t book any jobs. She looked sloppy and didn’t have any makeup on, which is a cardinal sin if you have bad skin. Yes, that rhymes. Write it down, suckas.

Angelea — who is sporting Ugly Headwrap #15 — did great. She booked all six go-sees, and she wins the challenge, no contest.

The girls go and see their new place. It’s pretty freakin’ sweet. The girls freak out accordingly. The girls with prizes see their prizes laid out in their new penthouse, and the other girls ooh and ahh politely.

The girls wake up the next morning, and Alasia’s sporting Ugly Headwrap #16. Man, those headwraps are rearing their ugly heads with a vengeance here in NZ.

There is an amazing rainbow arcing over the Pacific Ocean. ANTM sure got lucky with that. Man, that’s a beautiful shot.

Alasia’s eyes are opened to a world she never thought she’d see. It’s kinda sweet, how grateful she is to be there. I’m sure that this means she won’t be there for long.

Tyra Mail! “All we need is one. The rest is just fluff.” Krista postulates that they’ll be surrounded by sheep. And she’s actually right on, if last week’s teaser was any indication.

Jay Manuel pulls up in a tractor with a special guest — Nigel. Mmm, he can shoot my frames any day (Translation: Nigel Barker is one hott Brit).

Today, the girls will all be wearing the exact same dress. Their job is to stand out and look better than the other girls while modeling the same dress. The sheep are adorable. Nigel calls them “horny beasts.” That joke only works in America, Nigel.

Alasia’s got Ugly Headwrap #17, which is distinct from Wrap #16. It’s like she’s got something to prove with all the bad headgear.

Alexandra is comfortable with sheep. She actually does a good job. Nigel loves that she’s incorporating past feedback into her shoot. Jay compliments her on getting her spark back.

Jessica has a little trouble with the garment. She has trouble with the shoot, too. She’s having trouble working the dress, probably because she’s not jumping. Nigel thought she looked confused, and her eyes weren’t committed.

Alasia says that she’s trying to think about the scenery, but Nigel doesn’t believe her. She wants to look serene, but she just gives the same pose and same face the entire time. She tries to lie down and fails miserably. Nigel is not pleased.

Raina rocks it out. Nigel’s inspired. I am not underwhelmed, but not quite overwhelmed, either. I am whelmed (bonus points for you if you get that movie reference).

Angelea wants to sit on the sheep, and they chide her for the suggestion — “It’s a sheep, not a…” Jay can’t think of how to complete his sentence, so I complete it for him. Chair! Ottoman! Footstool! Oompa Loompa!

Oompa Loompa, boopity beep, in your photoshoot, don't sit on a sheep.

Nigel thought she took the shoot a little too literally. She tries some jumps, and it does not work. She’s frustrated. She cries.

Krista is terrified of the fluffy sheep. Krista just really wants not to go from the top last week to the bottom this week. Fortunately for her, she does a great job. She leans on the sheep, and the sheep is like, “Uh, no,” and walks away, heehee!! But she holds it together long enough for Nigel to be able to get the shot. She uses her fear of the sheep in her shoot, and Nigel praises her concentration.

And that’s a wrap!

Tyra Mail! Eliminations!

No one wants to be the first to leave NZ. Angelea is snappish and irritated because all the girls are asking each other how they thought they did. Obviously, she knows that she did not do well.

Tyra’s wearing an off-the shoulder top, which is a welcome relief from the ubiquitous pantsuits. Then, we go to a full-length shot that show that she IS INDEED wearing YET ANOTHER an ugly pantsuit. *sigh*

Sara Tetro is the guest judge. She owns 62 Model Management and is the host of NZNTM.

Raina’s first. Apparently, the sheep’s name was Prince.

And this is still a better look than Tyra's pantsuits.

Raina’s pic is gorgeous. Nigel praises her. There’s a story in the pic. The shot is universally praised.

Alasia’s next. This particular picture has drama, but Nigel informs her that she didn’t shoot well. Even ALT doesn’t have anything good to say in her defense this week.

Alexandra runway-walks to the judges. She interacted wtih the sheep. Nigel calls it “dressitude, not dreckitude.” The shot is pretty darned good. Tyra calls her “Alexandre,” which is the masculine form of the name, I believe. That’s either a subtle jab at Alexandra’s masculine jawline or just Tyra displaying her ignorance. Either way:

Jessica’s next, and Nigel admits that her body is extraordinary, but her face is awful. ALT thinks she lucked out with the wind and the drama of the dress, and Sara doesn’t like the pic at all because she’s “not into armpits.”

Krista gets a compliment from ALT on her outfit at panel. Nigel praises her shot to the skies. So does the rest of the panel. Tyra calls it “a tornado of loveliness,” and I agree. It’s amazing.

Angelea is the challenge winner. ALT congratulates her and then promptly calls her dress “dreckitude.” Angelea stammers that it’s an Emma Ford dress that she won as part of her challenge. Emma Ford promptly goes out of business because ALT didn’t like their dress.

Tyra tries to smooth over her show’s insult to the designer by saying that the dress is okay for the club, but not panel. Angelea says, “I’m so glad you said ‘club,’ Tyra,” and tries to demonstrate how she imagined wearing it to the club in “slo-mo” — she awkwardly mimes entering a room in slo-mo and waves to imaginary friends. Nigel looks at her blankly and says that he totally doesn’t get it. It’s pretty awful.

And Angelea’s picture’s just so boring. Tyra said that Nigel’s composition was amazing, and he gave that to her, but she didn’t give back.

Deliberations. She says that the girls will come back for “eliminacion.” So is Spanish the new French, Tyra? Is Alexandre going to be Alejandro when she gets back?

Raina was a delight to photograph, according to Nigel.
Alasia didn’t work in this photo. Nigel wanted her to be his muse, but she’s “not even amusing.” Groan.
Alexandra has great “inhale” in her photo. Way to suck in that gut, girl.
Jessica was quite depressing, according to Nigel. She’s boring.
Krista is Naomi Sims. She is amazing. She took advantage of Prince. I’m sure Prince was feeling violated in a delightful way.

Somehow, I doubt that Krista will get to be as iconic as Ms. Sims. But that doesn't mean her picture wasn't amazing, because it was.

Angelea was all about what the gown could do and not what she could do. Sara adds that she was traumatized by Angelea’s “club” intro. Me, too, Sara. Me, too.

Eliminations! There are only five photos in Tyra’s hands, yo.

Best picture this week is: it had better be Krista. Is it? It is! You go, girl. She totallly deserves it.

Alejandro is the runner-up, followed by:

Raina
Angelea

Tyra takes a moment to address Angelea’s “dejected manner.” FINALLY. It’s about time someone addressed that. It’s so depressing to see her looking like somebody died every week, just because she’s getting critiqued.

Jessica and Alasia step forward. Alasia lacks focus, but has so much potential. Her body is there, but her brain isn’t (hee). Jessica is pretty, and occasionally pulls out a pretty picture. But then she also pulls out some whomp-whomp pictures, as Alasia would say.


Remember this?

But who’s still in the running towards becoming America’s Next Top Model?

Jessica is in. She cries in relief. She promises to practice making scary faces every night for an hour. Five-year-olds all over the country are eaten up with jealousy.

Alasia is sad, but she’s super-composed, which makes me proud of her. Aww, my li’l baby’s all growns up. She hugs everyone — possibly the first time this season that that’s happened. She leaves with her head held high.

WOW, they show a “before” picture of Alasia, and girlfriend has come a loooong way. She’s been empowered and is more confident. I actually believe that this has been a positive experience for her. That’s kinda sad.

Next week: Tyra’s going to play photographer! Actually, Tyra has a way of bringing out the best in most of the girls, so that might be a good thing. We shall see.

And now: RANKINGS!

6. Alasia

America's Next Top Model

Looking back on a good run.

Alas, poor Alasia. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the judges that Alasia’s time had come. It’s become clearer every week that she’s continually getting in over her depth, and it was only a matter of time before she got the ax. But it seems to me that she really did learn a lot from this experience, and I hope she goes back to Marietta a little more motivated to make something of herself.

I’ll see you in ALT’s salon, girl.

5. Angelea

America's Next Top Model

Streeeeetch!

I think it’s pretty clear that the only reason Angelea wasn’t in the bottom two this week was because of her admittedly stellar showing in the challenge. This picture is clearly hot buttered crap on toast. She looks like she’s stretching on a windy day in an amazing gown. The judges got it completely right when they said that the dress was doing all the work. The best part of this photo is fat, adorable Prince. He is working that camera (and his cud) and making us take notice of his massive woolliness.

4. Jessica

America's Next Top Model

Oh, woe is me!

Jessica’s pic was nothing to scream about, either. Her pose is so contrived and traditionally “modelly” here. But I do think that she had better use of Prince in this picture, without letting him take it over, so I had to give her a little credit for that. But, man alive, is she ever boring!!

3. Raina

America's Next Top Model

I guess someone got lost on the way to the ball.

This picture was certainly better than the bottom three, but I didn’t think it was all that. Her body’s actually kinda boring to me, even though her face is pretty amazing. And she isn’t using Prince at all. In fact, you can’t even see all of him. He’s just grazing away behind that log, and if you hadn’t been told that was a sheep, you’d be, like, “What the heck is that??” Meh.

2. Alexandra

America's Next Top Model

Waiting to exhale?

This has got to be Alexandra’s best picture to date. She looks absolutely amazing — not like herself at all. Which speaks volumes about the rest of her portfolio. But she finally broke out of the middle of the pack, so good for her. There’s all kinds of movement and emotion in this photo. Her hands are great. She’s using Prince beautifully. And she’s proving that black can be very slimming. You go, girl. You go.

My only teeny, tiny nitpick is that the garment doesn’t look its best. It still looks good, but not it’s very best, which brings us to…

1. Krista

America's Next Top Model

Now, that's high fashion!

Now that Alasia’s out, I have to choose a new girl to root for, and Krista earned that spot a few episodes back when I decided that A. Alasia wasn’t going to last much longer, and B. Krista is ossom. This pic is absolutely stunning in so many ways. Her face is amazing. Her body is amazing. The way she’s working the dress is amazing. Even Prince looks like he’s kind of her bodyguard or something here. When Prince recognizes your ossomness, you know you’re rockin’ the photoshoot.

So those were my thoughts. What did you think?