January 5, 2007

The Top Chef Says: Nobody Likes You!

Filed under: Not Tech, Top Chef — Chris @ 4:45 pm

I’m trying to avoid too much basic cable blogging, but I feel moved to comment on the horror of this week’s Top Chef. Sam, Ilan, and Betty’s “nobody likes you, Marcel, and we’re going to prove it” act was straight out of my junior-high nightmares. Isn’t it strange that last year’s “villain,” Tiffany, earned everone’s loathing because she wasn’t a team player and picked on Dave and Miguel, whereas this year’s “villain,” Marcel, is visibly trying to be cooperative and is being picked on by everybody else?

I think the key fact here is that the contestants take what is said at the Judge’s Table very personally. Despite the fact that those in the “bottom three” are forced to opine on “who should go home”—and despite the fact that it’s generally good strategy not to choose oneself—naming names gets you in trouble. Tiffany did herself in by being excessively cut-throat at the Judge’s Table (and also the lying). The last straw with Marcel was probably when he failed to credit Sam with last week’s win (never mind that standing by and letting others take credit for success is hardly the path to victory).

I didn’t like Marcel to start, but his sense of humor in the face of everyone’s hostility has really won me over. He’s pretentious and arrogant (but, come on, he’s not Stephen “You will never succeed, and you will fail horribly” Asprinio (who also won me over in the end, now that I think about it)), he easily descends into self-parody (asked why his turkey roulade was dry, he responded that he didn’t have access to a thermal immersion circulator (or, um, butter)), and he probably doesn’t have the skill to win the competition. But at least he’s not a total dick!

I always hated Betty and I’m glad to see her go. Her excessive cheerfulness seemed to be tautly and thinly stretched over a chasm of extreme bitchiness. Up till this episode, I liked Sam and Ilan and had them figured as top contenders. I’ll be rooting against them from now on. And for Elia and Marcel.

P.S. To Ilan: Marcel will stop making foams when make something other than paella.


What’s Better-Than Armond White?

Filed under: Not Tech — Chris @ 4:32 pm

Finally, his whole critical style distilled to one infographic. Unfortunately, Steven Spielberg didn’t release a movie this year… we’ll have to wait until 2008 to find out why Indiana Jones IV is better than the entire oeuvre of Jim Jarmusch. (Via The House Next Door)

This reminds me: several weeks ago John Podhoretz of the National Review called Manohla Dargis’ review of Inland Empire “the most pretentious piece of writing in all of recorded history.” These can only be the words of a man who has never read Armond White.

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