Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Case for a Breather

Hi everyone. In case everyone was wondering, I had to take a break from blogging this weekend because of a lot of things that I have to do - research projects, youth ministry schedules, that sort of thing. I don't see the situation clearing up any sooner (just today I had some trouble at the bank because of a misunderstanding that should have been cleared up in five minutes but ended up taking up my whole morning) so you may not see me blogging anything until probably next week.

What I can say right now, however, is that I'm still enjoying Netflix and the October issue of Domino, and I'm all of a sudden buying out the cosmetics overstock at this one Korean store at Keeaumoku because I realized that I'm getting a deal - Sephora-quality eyeshadows and lip gloss at Wal-Mart prices. Also, I'm still looking for some nice candles for my apartment, prefeerably something scented to bring a sense of aromatherapeutic sanity after everything that has happened.

See you guys later.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Case for a Better Night of Television

Or, Thoughts I've had all of tonight while flipping between my DVD player, my TV, and my afghan

- Okay, let's start with the Rock Star: INXS finale, shall we? As much as I want to shove beergaritas through his nose, I actually ended up not quibbling about JD ending up as the frontman over Marty. All this time that I was watching I realized that his heart did grow three sizes larger throughout the hour, and I don't know if it was the editing, but - okay, I did see the whole Julian McMahon comparison there, but I actually ended up liking him at the end of it all. And while I enjoyed Marty's take on “Don't Change,” I realized that he wasn't going to win this thing because he wasn't interacting with the band. That said, I'll still wait for Marty to release his CD, and I'd be insanely happy to see MiG share top billing with Lea Salonga, but I won't be ponying up for those INXS tickets until I'm sure that JD's going to keep himself healthy and not spending his down time pulling ass moves on the band. (Unless said ass moves involves stealing Twinkies from Andrew.)

Also, Tim? You may need to ask Simon Le Bon for some of that anti-aging serum he's been using on his face lately, because you did look good tonight. (Yes, I know, the guitar helps.) Same goes for Garry Gary, who should start wearing those faded T-shirts more often.

- And speaking of CBS' Tuesday night lineup: Okay, NCIS, who the heck had the brilliant idea to turn your show into Alias:The Squid Years? Please get Ducky out of trouble and end this Ari/Mossad nonsense by next week. Also, if you could remind Michael Weatherly to teach other actors (and by that I mean George Eads) how to look at a woman seductively, it would be very much appreciated on my part. Thanks.

- The rest of the night was spent avoiding the Big Brother finale like the plague (would that I was able to say the same for the rest of the season... ow, my eyes) in favor of the Arrested Development Season 1 DVD. (Netflix is rationing out the entire season to me, disc by disc.) I can't explain what I like about this show, even though I already missed the premiere of the third season last night. Most of the time I just stared at the television and asked myself how in the world did anyone manage to get a show like this on the air, but in a good way. (I feel that way about Boobah, too, but I don't find myself laughing as much.) Compared to Seinfeld, the writing and situations in this series seems to be a lot less forced, even when it does go OTT. And only a show like this could turn the phrase “Family comes first” and make comedic hay out of it; just when you think something's getting predictable or trite, something happens and it makes you go, “WHAT?” Also, because of this series, I want to marry Jason Bateman and make out with Will Arnett, but not necessarily in that order.

- Wait, does that mean I forgot to write an Emmy fashion blog? Well, that's because I realized that everybody else has already said what I've been meaning to say about the telecast. But, again, because it cannot be said enough: Shut up, Jennifer Love Half-Wit. You will never be Eva Longoria, even if she chose you to play the lead in The Eva Longoria Story.

- Other thoughts: Apparently somebody at Wal-Mart has been reading my blog, because I couldn't find the new issue of Domino, and the new issue of Lucky with Mandy Moore didn't have the Wal-Mart section... but the home-magazine stand had more special editions of Sunset! Hmmm.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Case for Scents and Memory

Continuing our discussion of fragrance from last week, here are a few more perfumes that bring up memories. Keep in mind that I probably wore some of these fragrances in copious amounts, sprayed at least twice all over my younger self several times a day. Between that and the smoking I used to do, it's a wonder my nose is still intact...

- Gloria Vanderbilt. The one with the swan on the bottle. Aw, man, this was the stuff of middle-school dances where I felt dorky about not having anyone to dance with me so I would go home crying. To this day I can't even look at a bottle without remembering that I probably spritzed this on while wearing elasticized acid-wash jeans.

- Colors de Benetton. This was the fragrance equivalent of the Swatch watch - everyone in my middle school had one, and it was colorful and awesome, so I pestered my folks to buy it for me. Not a bad scent, though.

- Lady Stetson. How did this tiny bottle come into my possession? Did I get this for Christmas at one point? All I remember is that it was actually quite feminine and woody, and I still wore it, even though the name itself conjures up cowboy hats and country music.

- Body Shop Dewberry. Or, as my cousins used to call it, "Dew Berrymore." Anyway, when I was in high school, people had a habit of carrying around their honking full-size bottles of fragrance in their backpacks so that they could spritz themselves after PE, or at least mask the fact that they've been smoking. This fruity/fresh scent, along with the Lady Stetson, was the one that ended up in my school bag most days, considering what I didn't want to carry to school...

- Chanel No. 5. My “I'm too sexy for 12th grade” scent, and one I had no shame about buying at a Duty Free on my Dad's dime. Yes, I even wore it to bed. With my pajamas.

- Joop! Nightflight. Talk about memories! My biggest crush-slash-almost-boyfriend back in high school wore this, and for years I went around trying to sniff it so I could remember him. I don't know where I can find it now (or the guy, for that matter - not that I care either way) but I do remember how deliciously sexy it was on him, kind of citrusy and herbal. No wonder I love it when guys smell good, even if it's just from soap.

- Davidoff Cool Water. On the flip side of the “nice smelling guy” coin was Cool Water, which for all its pleasant freshness could not shake off its subliminal association with most of the jackasses that I've met who wore this, be it with the popular guys in my high school or the one dude I made out with at the club back in the day. Incidentally, said jackasses mentioned were also heavy smokers, which probably explains why I could also never shake off the connection between Cool Water and tobacco.

- Guerlain Shalimar. The only fragrance I saw in the bathrooms of our friends' house in the French countryside. (Even the soap and lotions were Shalimar!) Timeless and ageless, thanks to the vanilla and lemon notes. The scent Britney and Jessica could only wish their signature fragrances would smell like.

- Coty Vanilla Fields. I have a love-hate relationship with this fragrance. The hate comes from an ex-roommate who spritzed this stuff all over the place, which was one of the numerous things that drove me nuts about her. The love comes from the floral and musky notes that emerge after you get past the vanilla, which is why I did end up wearing this for a spell back when I was working.

The Case for Stitchcraft

Hello, my name is Meimei, and I'm addicted to crochet.

I didn't really mean to get hooked (pun intended), but I do admit that I was so mesmerized by my crochet projects back in fifth grade that I would often get yelled at for practicing my popcorn stitch when I was supposed to be reciting my conjugated verbs. At least it was easier to learn than knitting, I thought.

Then, three years ago, egged on by a friend who suddenly wanted to learn knitting only because she noticed that Debra Messing and a bunch of fashion models started taking it up as the hobby, I bought my first skein of 4-ply worsted weight acrylic yarn, with the intention of learning how to knit. I did learn how to knit, eventually... but even that fell by the wayside when all my attentions were consumed by learning how to make a scarf using a size J crochet hook.

You could say that I treat crochet as a metaphysical practice of sorts, a commentary on my life: I do have a tendency to treat life as a series of recurring patterns held together by common threads, with certain opportunities to go back and do it all over again if I ever make a mistake along the way. You could also say that I do crochet as a means of meditation, especially since I tend to start my “projects” whenever I find myself at a crossroads in my life.

But mostly I do crochet as stress relief.

So far I've done countless numbers of hats and scarves, which I've been making as gifts for family and friends. Right now, however, I've decided to do something different by making... well, it started out as an afghan pattern, but because of the size (I scaled it down) and the color (hello, variegated rainbow yarn!) I might end up making the world's funkiest table runner. Either way, the stitch pattern couldn't be easier or prettier.

Which reminds me: One of these days I'll start my own knitting/crochet club, which I'll probably expand into a knitting cafe for yarn addicts like me. A girl can dream, you know.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Domesticity Friday #7: Now Smell This

Five Fragrances I Wish I Had for Myself

- Chanel Coco. I found this on my sister's vanity table and fell in love with it. It was strong, like a man's cologne, but girlier. Back when I was in high school I loved it; now I'm not sure if I can pull it off in real life. Also, I read in Sassy that everyone's favorite publishing intern, Chloe Sevigny, wore this - which only made her sound even more pretentious, come to think of it.

- Ralph Lauren Romance: Technically I don't own a bottle, but I have worn it formally once - and that was because Romance was the only perfume my friend carried with her in the car so we both put it on while we were primping. Thank goodness, because this is such a pretty, pretty scent.

- Victoria's Secret Dream Angels Divine. Probably the only VS fragrance that I've ever consciously asked for; every time I ask for it I ended up with something else. Still saving up for it, actually.

- Dolce & Gabbana. Had a sample of this from Liberty House, and became obsessed (obsessed, I tell you!) because it was so sexy and fierce. Again, I don't know if I could get away with this in real life, unless I did have a significant other to smell this for me.

- Obsession Night: Okay, so I finally got to check this out at Macy's. And you know what? I love this. Not as spicy as original-recipe Obsession, but still dark and edgy (even with the florals) and works just as well when you wear it on a date as it is when you wear it to a business dinner.


On a non-fragrance tip, I was just at Wal-Mart today, where I overheard people stocking up on stuff for their hurricane survival kits because there are a couple of storms brewing not too far from the Big Island as we speak; it's been putting a damper on my plans, really (pun definitely intended) and between that and PMS I've lost my urge to shop today. The weather in town has been crazy-rainy and soggy, and not too conducive for any gallivanting (even if it is a great excuse to stay indoors). I'm trying not to freak out, really, but if anything happens, I'll bet that any illusions I may have about saving certain valued possessions will go right out the window.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Case for A Signature Fragrance

Okay, so I really haven't posted these last few days because I've been so busy to the point of "feeling so ADD" (which stops being funny when you actually do have it - no, seriously, I do; that's for another week to discuss) so I think it's just right for me to get hopping along.

This past week I've had fragrance on my mind lately, what with DeLush having their own roundtable discussion about signature frangrances in the last few days and Auntie Badger talking about her favorites in her daily entries. My main reason for discussing this, however, has more to do on the personal front, since my parents are currently traveling right now and they've been asking me if I wanted them to buy anything for me. (They do live overseas, but I will see them over Christmas break.) I told them about my not-so-secret affinity for duty free shops, where I often make my best beauty discoveries thanks to the wide array of exotic cosmetics available.

(And it's not always the expensive stuff, too - I once discovered lipstick sealant at Narita Airport back when I was a teenager. Shush.)

My dad, of course, is the kind of guy who loves to buy pretty things for the ladies in his life, but being a guy he thought that what I meant was that I wanted perfume. This led to a very interesting discussion about buying fragrance for other people, for which Dad... well, he doesn't exactly have a great track record on this one; let's just say it involved my sister-in-law and a certain fragrance by a much-hated celebrity, given to her as a well-intentioned Christmas gift. (In fairness, however, my gracious sis-in-law says that she has been wearing it more often and it does not smell toxic after a few wearings.) Mom, being the voice of female reason in the family, eventually explained to Dad and the rest of us that it really is difficult to buy any kind of fragrance or cosmetic without taking the body chemistry/ skin tone/ condition of the person involved into consideration, so unless Dad knows for sure that we have a particular preference for a particular brand (*ahem*StilaLushChanel*ahem) he should just stick to the usual pasalubong of T-shirts, candy, and toys for the children.

While this dialogue between our family continued on email, I was inspired to think back on that concept of the "signature" fragrance, especially in terms of what I have. I still have the bottle of Obsession that I bought in college, but the last few times I've worn it were during those times when I needed to be more assertive at work, and I haven't picked this up since. Chanel Chance is still there, too, and I've always liked this one, but I also keep forgetting to wear that; something about the summers here in Hawaii tend to magnify fragrances like this, which start off soft yet end up cloaking you in a huge floral cloud. (Despite smelling Chance on other office ladies in HNL, however, I still enjoy the scent, and my friends seem to like me wearing this.) And the stuff that I do end up wearing are drugstore body sprays and aromatherapy oils that I've picked up here and there. It's a far cry from my late teens and early 20s, where I would switch from cK Be (which I liked better than cK One) to Chanel No. 5 depending on my mood.

That leaves the closest thing I have to a signature fragrance so far: Mukki. I know that they've reformulated the fragrance in the last few years since I bought this, but I don't care: I love that it's sweet and pretty but not assertive or corny. I love the cute spray bottle. And I love the fact that people who smell this on me say that it's certainly "me." I've smelled the new formula at Sephora and I think it's a lot fruitier than the original, cocoa-scented one that I have at home, so maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to repurchase. That, or wait until I've used up the rest of the stuff at home - which would be fun, really.

I'll have more scent-related essays later during the week.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Domesticity Friday #7: Stay at Home

(Usually I don't like to snark at fundraising events, but tonight I just got sucked into watching the telethon on KGMB followed by Fashion Rocks. So I thought I'd just go ahead and give a Domesticity Double Dose of Snark.)

Five Thoughts During the Telethon...

- Jennifer Aniston: Least. Inspiring. Telethon Operator. Ever. Girlfriend, when even Ray Romano is more compelling than you are, that's got to be a sign.
- I can't decide which cover was more hoary: Sheryl Crow biffing “The Water is Wide” or Rod Stewart interrupting a great harmony section during “People Get Ready.”
- Note to Garth Brooks: South Beach Diet. Look into it.. Also, see my entry about aging gracefully, below. Because you definitely are not Simon Le Bon. (But you're not Rod Stewart either, and thank God for that.)
- Kanye! I just saw you on Oprah, bro! And after listening to your acoustic version of “Jesus Walks,” I'm convinced that I should buy your CD. Maybe.
- And, way to go, whoever's at the wheel, cutting off Dr. John mid-song so you could bring in the next program for us in Hawaii. (It wasn't just CBS, mind you; I switched to the ABC affiliate and I saw that they switched to regular programming, too. Bastards.)

...And Five More Thoughts on Fashion Rocks (for Hurricane Relief, Yo)

- Dang, Poppy Montgomery, did you hire Jessica Simpson's stylists for tonight? Because you did NOT need all that self-tan with big hair, excess cleavage and bling, yo. Besides, Joss Stone - even without the shoes, even while she's singing Stevie Nicks' part on “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” - looked a bit better rocking the J. Simp look .
- Here's what's chapping me right now: It's supposed to be a concert with models and fashion stuff, and what we really get is... badly-dressed dancing hoochies? (And, no, I don't mean Destiny's Child airing out their bidness in Fredericks-inspired tiny nighties.) Conde Nast, what on earth where you thinking?
- Gwen Stefani: About that dress she wore when she sang “Cool” during the first hour - “Happy Birthday Mr. President,” much? This is the most beautiful I have seen her all year, though, which made me scratch my head when she showed up in those baggy LAMB t-shirt dresses later.
- And the “Aging Gracefully for the Rest of Us” Award goes to... a tie: David Bowie (even with the low-cut socks) and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, who for some reason is actually looking much better and younger with the extra weight. (Hmmm, I wonder what kind of anti-aging serum Simon's been using lately...)
- Taking the “Oh, No, You Didn't” award for tonight is... Lisa Marie Presley, donning a skimpy Anne Rice-inspired black veil for her duet with Billy Idol on “White Wedding.”

The Case For Cowboy Boots

Warning: Entry contains some mild profanity. Reader discretion is advised.

Recently I fell out of love with someone, for a million different reasons that I don't necessarily regret. I think it's fair to say that, even though the guy's still a friend, he did let me down, and it was just better for both of us not to get my hopes up for him any further. End of story.

One thing that I did like about him, however, was that he did own a pair of cowboy boots. Not the stereotypically ornate, over-decorated Tony Lama type boots, but a pair of straightforward working-man cowboy boots in the most buttery light brown leather that I've ever seen. I never got to touch them - they were his boots after all - but they were very rugged and handsome, like the old Marlboro ads that I used to see all over the place when I was a kid. They were beautifully crafted and downright attractive, in ways that were harder to explain than the crush that I had on their owner.

I say this as someone who has sworn countless times that I would never be caught dead in cowboy boots. There really is nothing in my current wardrobe or lifestyle that would justify me owning cowboy boots at all. In fact, I've never had any luck in my lifetime with shopping for any kind of boots - firstly because my calves are very muscular and curvy, and secondly because the boots that do end up in my closet are excruciatingly trendy pieces that don't stand the test of time. As I write this, there is a pair of black ankle boots with thick platforms languishing in my closet, waiting to be taken to a shoe cobbler to be resoled and de-platformed out of its misery. (nd don't get me started on the Doc Martens that I made my Daddy buy for me when I was a teenager, which got worn at least twice a year before I gave up on them and consented to have them sent to a cousin in the military.)

It's been said, however, that every man should own a pair of shit-kicking boots n his lifetime. And I think those boots do fit the definition of “shit kicker” in some ways:, because they were utilitarian and stylish in a way that demands respect. (Okay, so the definition of “shit kicker” is pretty nebulous, too, because there are people out there who get their poop-sorting done in combat boots; I know for sure that my Dad dealt with farm poop in rubber wellies, but that was him. That said, I hope you get the picture.)

Anyway, I could see why my pal had those boots in his closet, though, because it was pretty easy for a guy of his stature to feel confident and masculine in boots like those - regardless of where he wore them. The boots were definitely meant to be worn for those moments when sneakers or loafers won't cut it; they're meant to make a man feel like a million dollars. I could so easily relate to that, because that's the same reason why I put up with strappy high heel sandals.

So to recap: Cowboy boots = hot, but they're still tricky to wear and require the right attitude to pull off. Also, still not for me.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Case for Help

Let me take a break from snarking on the usual fluffy girly stuff so I could get on the virtual soapbox here.

I've been thinking a lot about what's happening in New Orleans with Katrina and I'm a little shell-shocked by what I've been seeing and reading. You would think that an industrialized country like ours would have the wherewithal to be punctual when it comes to aiding those in need in our country, but apparently that's not the case. The more we see what's happening in Louisiana, the more we realize that devastation is closer to home than we think.

You watch footage like this - the flooding, the desperation - and you almost want to shut down. You see this happening in other countries like Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and you think it's not going to happen in your back yard. Then it does, and you're speechless.

We here in Hawaii have seen our fair share of desperation; we've had hurricanes that have destroyed entire islands, volcanic eruptions that have decimated communities, and bureaucratic snafus that have kept us from getting the disaster aid that we truly need. Still, that does not excuse us, or anyone else, from not pulling it together for our fellow men. I want to say that I'm used to it, coming from the Philippines where the entire country endures storms like Katrina every single year. Still, it doesn't exclude me from feeling helpless.

As someone who has become increasingly apolitical with age, it chafes me whenever I walk into a coffee shop, or go into the blogosphere, and all I keep hearing from people is the endless chatter of how everything sucks about this situation. And I want to just walk away, because I can't seem to absorb what's happening and all I want to say is, The hell with politics - what the heck are YOU doing for these people? Why don't you just get off your high horse and give something, ANYTHING? You want a definition of "too little, too late" - just look at the criticism of everything from relief efforts to federal aid to flood insurance, which strikes me as a bit of Monday-morning quarterbacking. For crying out loud, I have friends who self-dispatched themselves to Thailand after the tsunami bearing donations for relief workers becuase they couldn't bear to see what had become of Phuket - and these are the same people who usually would not think about Thailand other than a place to party. If FEMA hadn't warned me about it I would be there, too. But all I can do right now is write, and post links, and raise money, and pray.

Yes, prayer. Maybe now's the time to talk to God the way you've wanted to talk to Him all this time. Now's the time to ask Him, as honestly as you possibly can, why He let this happen and what it is exactly that He wants you - yes, you - to learn from this. Go ahead, do that - you know He can take it, because He's been insulted so many times before. Look at all the Psalms - they all start with complaints, despair, anger, and yet they always break into songs of praise and affirmation at the end. You may not like His answer, but you have to be OK with that, and you still have to be willing to listen. Like I always say, you'll never know what He'll tell you if you let Him.

That's all I'll have to say from here. We'll return to our usual Domesticity coverage after this weekend.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Domesticity Friday #6: Home Entertainment

Reviews of the Last Five Movies that I've Seen, in No Particular Order

- O Brother, Where Art Thou?: I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did. The first half is very slow, but trust me, it does get better as you go along. Even if you're not into Greek mythology, you'll still be able to find something you'd enjoy about the movie, and you'll be surprised by the message of redemption. (Note: I watched this before Hurricane Katrina, so the subplot about the flooding of the Mississippi may actually break your heart. Give what you can.)

- Love Actually: I really wanted to love this film; it's sweet, though it has its own raw moments. It's just that I felt like the plot lines that didn't work really stuck out and basically interfered with the overall tone and flow. The Alan Rickman/Emma Thompson plot, for starters, was a waste of both actors, and the story could've used more heart - either that, or a better resolution. And the whole thing with Laura Linney was an exercise in pointlessness: I've been in a similar situation that her character was in, and even I felt like the writers should never have ended her arc that way - plus, hello, Rodrigo Santoro, who also happens to remind me of a guy that I'm crushing on in real life. Could you blame me for wanting to yell at my TV when it was all over? Also: naked Martin Freeman, which only made me more excited for a special-edition disc of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (Not like I'm expecting any nudity in that one. Really.)

- Intolerable Cruelty: Again, a movie that had all the right elements but still didn't work out as beautifully as it should. I could see that the Coens were trying for a combination of '50s-style screwball comedy and contemporary satire, but I just felt that all of the characters were totally undercooked. I'm not asking them to be sympathetic, really, but it all came out very cartoonish to me, and I would've liked to see those relationships developed even further. Also, not enough Cedric the Entertainer. Catherine Zeta-Jones is lovely, though, and George Clooney held the leading-man part down nicely. The cinematography is breathtaking, too.

- The Tuxedo: Yes, I saw it on TV. Yes, Jackie Chan has made better movies. And because it can't be said enough: Shut up, Jennifer Love Half-wit. (Least convincing bureaucratic nerd ever - next to Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist and Penelope Cruz as a UNESCO doctor.) Part of me believes this movie would've been so much funnier, even in a craptastic way, if the leads had been played by Will Ferrell and Jennifer Aniston, with either Jackie or Ken Watanabe playing the superspy who ends up in a coma for the rest of the movie.

- Bride and Prejudice: Well, I rented this not too long ago, but I'm glad that I did. Did I already mention that Aishwarya Rai is lovely and Naveen Andrews should ask the producers of Lost for a dance number? I have to warn you, though: This isn't the movie that you want to watch for Oscar-caliber acting, because you'll definitely want to smack around the Caucasian characters in this movie. (And Martin Henderson, too, but I had less of an urge to slap him once his character started to warm up - he is Darcy, after all.) Take it for the great fun movie that it is and let yourself be charmed. Now, if only somebody would make a Bollywood version of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason...

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Case for Hot, Handy (Around the House) Men

As much as I don't want to admit it, I did plan my whole entire day so I could stay home this afternoon and watch the “Gorgeous Men of Decorating” episode on Oprah.

Yeah, I know. I can't decide what the sad part is - not having any decorative know-how whatsoever on my part, or using said lack of decorative know-how as an excuse to ogle hot men in tool belts wielding drills, paint brushes, and wall demolition equipment. I do know for sure, though, that all the ladies were screaming as if Oprah had brought out Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Olivier Martinez, AND Usher, all at once.

Okay, on to the hotties:

- Carter Oosterhouse: I'm sorry, but any pretension that I may have about home decorating just disappeared when this guy came on. I mean, yeah, Vern Yip was also on, and even I was surprised by how cute he turned out to be, but, dang, Carter was just so yummy that I wanted to dip him in coconut icing and... um... where was I? Anyway, he's also a pretty decent handyman, has a great eye for detail, and collaborates nicely with decorators. His personality's pretty likable, too.

- Andrew Dan-Jumbo: Yes, the British accent is sexy, and so is the tool belt. (I, personally, have a weakness for multiethnic hapa-kine men, and if you've ever been to Europe you'll be surprised about how hot the African men are over there.) For me, however, what really sent me over the edge was his professionalism and competence: He's not out to change anyone's house from top to bottom, and he'll actually say hi to your husband, but he does know how to make the most practical adjustments (fixing a safety railing and replacing a drain, for starters) and he sure knows how to build his own furniture. He does strike me as the family-way type, though: Witness the adorable playroom set that he made for the daughters of the fan he helped out on this show. Seriously, any guy could make a storage unit, but a guy who pays so much pain-staking attention to making a storage unit that looks like a dollhouse or a play kitchen for a little girl has got to be the kind of guy who can't wait to be a father. And any guy who actually names his cat “Oprah Winfrey” will always get major points from me, even if he does have a girlfriend.

- Thom Filicia: He looked a tad puffy today, but there's a part of me that has always wanted to believe the rumors about him actually being that into women as much as he is with men - and this episode is part of the reason why, at least because he threatened to run away with the woman who wrote to Oprah asking for him. (Hee.) The Queer Eye wit is evident, but his basic carpentry and home-improvement skills are actually awesome - gotta love him wielding the power tools and paint rollers - and I like his choice of colors for his home makeover. I also appreciated the fact that he did a great job of reconciling the preferences of the husband and the wife and working with the furnishings they already had, even though I felt like he did go a tad overboard with the world-traveler Pier 1 doodads.

- Nate Berkus: Of all the TV home-makover experts out there, I've always felt like my own taste and approach is closer to Nate's than anyone else's - he's not totally OTT, but he does find a nice balance between Zen minimalism and old-school decorating. If you wanted him to do a romantic bedroom, for example, he wouldn't overpower you with silk shantung and rose petals all over your bed (unlike that one female decorator Oprah hired to do one of those ”sexy bedroom” makeovers, who even added some massage oil and Nora Roberts paperbacks for good measure - dang, why not throw in some furry handcuffs and a whip while you're at it, lady?); instead, he'll do subtle things with color and texture and even lighting to alter the ambience. I just wish that he'd exercise more practicality, though; in his early makeovers he was able to incorporate things that he and the homeowners could agree on, but lately he's been doing a lot more gutting and throwing out. (I mean, dude: that Denny's booth in Jerry O'Connell's apartment? You could've just reupholstered that, and it still would have worked. Or at least given it to me.) I still give him props for surviving the tsunami and holding it together after he lost his partner in Thailand, though, so I'll cut him some slack.

- Ty Pennington: He wasn't on this episode (he was on last week, with Clay Aiken) and I don't really find anything sexy about him (beefcake shots notwithstanding), but I just wanted to mention him because I'm warming up to his home-decorating style, as well - very hip and West Coast without being too cheesy. His carpentry doesn't have the same artistry as Andrew Dan-Jumbo's, but he does put a lot of heart into his projects - which is why I like him best in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I also have to admit that I'm one of the few women in the world whose idea of a Ty Pennington fantasy involves him marching into my bedroom... so he could point the bullhorn at my head and start screaming at me to “FIX! THIS! APARTMENT! NOW!” After which we'd sit down for decaf and discuss how he's coping with the ADHD. Sorry, ladies, but I guess that means more for you.

Now would be a good time for me to mention that I should save up for basic cable so I could ogle more hot men on home makeover shows. Until then, I'm going to have to figure out what it will take for Oprah to get Dave Lieberman and Tyler Florence on her show.

Or Christopher Kimball, even. But only if he keeps his shirt on.