Pennsylvania: Conway Avenue

November 25, 2003 AD*

(*Date of rant, not episode. Caution, harmful if swallowed.)

For Bonnie Annie Laurie I'd lay me doon and dee. And I waited three weeks for this.... Ah, two weeks of snow and windstorms knocking off the reception for the whole weekend. The gods deemed it acceptable I watch this one.

For sale, cheap: Stale bread and stale jokes. Of course, British designer Anna Ryder Richardson's intro (with Laurie Hickson Smith and Carter Two-Name Oosterhouse waving her onto the right side of the road) was in no way an expansion of the same gag they did the first week of British Invasion month.

Union Jack correct and incorrect. Yeah, you think it's easy because YOU have a canton! The Union Jack on the car's license plate was fine. But the flag in the 'pub' with the homeowners was upside-down. The white diagonal cross of Saint Andrew (symbolizing Scotland) takes priority over the red diagonal cross of Saint Patrick (symbolizing Ireland), which was added later. As such, the white part of the diagonal always goes higher on the left. (Notice it's not just that we're looking at it backwards: the white border on the left of the flag is what you hang it from, so it's correct left-to-right.)

You're not supposed to hang a flag upside down. I know it was just hung hastily for effect, but that doesn't excuse it.

Revenge of the mutant purples: Well, Laurie got rid of the purple couch in the living room she's revamping. Cool.

Time for her paint reveal. Laurie's good for yellow. It's gonna be yellow. Yellow would work on these walls, actually. The room's too small for anything too dark. It'd be downright oppressive.

It's purple. Dark purple. I didn't think that was possible. Okay, I couldn't be more wrong about the yellow. I am humbled. But I'm also horrified that she'd put something like that on the walls. It's gonna make the room look like a tiny tiny box.

Laurie starts explaining the color as a deep eggplant, "an eggplant almost black it's so deep". Meanwhile, she's holding the top of the paint can in frame, so her description seems rather tautological. Perhaps she just likes hearing herself talk.

Meanwhile, Anna's using something resembling cream or white (depending on which television I look at it on) for most of the walls, and a slightly saner purple - plum - for one wall.

Mike expected something darker than plum. I hope he still feels like that in two days. Dina starts talking about how their plum color will dry a lot darker and Anna says that it won't dry that much darker. I'm amazed: "It'll dry darker!" is the line most Trading Spaces designers feed out so they can shut a doubting homeowner up. I've never seen Anna before, but I'm already liking her.

Art. Art. Crazy, crazy art, from all over. Laurie shows Carter her sketches of plans for the room. Got this idea for suspending lamps. She wants to hide the cord behind her Big Art Project. Okay, first off I'm pretty sure you can't just whack a standard extension cord behind that without violating code - you need to use a certain kind of wiring; and second of all I'm not sure I'd want want it behind a massive object that (if Laurie's drawing is accurate) is assembled from giant Lego blocks.

Call FEMA, we've got a disaster coming up. Anna wants to put the TV inside the wall. Yes, she wants to cut a hole in the wall and put the TV there. Oh boy. Paige is more doubtful than I am.

Orange is a color and a plant. Purple is a color, not a plant. And eggplant is... ... quite obviously a plant. But Laurie is already arguing that there's no purple in the dark purple on the walls, it's all eggplant. Like the spectrum just grew a new color somewhere between purple and ultraviolet that's been dubbed by a consortium of Russian and American scientists as, ahem, "True eggplant, there's nothing purple about this eggggplant. Deep, dark, almost black hue."

Betcha he doesn't hear that often. Anna, upon seeing Carter's big manly driving machine, talks about how big it is and how it's so much larger than anything she has. Ah, car talk.

And on tonight's Trading Iron Spaces Chef, Laurie makes a salad. Laurie tells Jonathan that "Jen was wondering if I was going to put red in the room, but it's not really officially red, it's more... persimmon."

Persimmon? First eggggplant, and now persimmon?

It's orange-red. Maybe rust. But there's no way Laurie could caress a drape and say "it's more rust", with just a hint of breathlessness that Freud would probably interpret as a sign that her erotic fantasies involve being trapped on a desert island where all the native men are made out of imported fabric.

Laurie goes on about various details of the drapes, culminating in asking Jonathan if he knows much about a lady's slip, leading to a really awkward moment where Jonathan averts his eyes from Laurie and says he has no experience with slips. Laurie doesn't seem to notice the awkwardness and talks about getting a blush out of Jonathan.

Man, this scene is creeping me out. Fortunately, they cut to Anna and Carter for a bit. (Anna's done some planning and seems to think there's a hollow space in between the walls big enough for the TV.)

Back with Laurie and Jonathan. Laurie wants to take some beaded placemats that look like macaroni strung together and whip-stitch them to other plain orange placemats. She even makes a sort of semi-whistle to indicate the whippiness of the whip-stitch. (The same sound Anna makes when doodling the basic shape of a radiator cover for Carter.) Then, the whole mess will be made into a collage. Man, I think even Frank at the height of his craft-TV-show days would look at this project and wince.

Later, Jonathan tells Jen about his experience with the drapery. Jonathan confesses that he went into guy-standard "Uh-uh, uh-uh, uh-uh." mode during her drapery lovefest and doesn't remember anything after the talk of the slip. Which he probably remembers just for the ickiness.

More paint! Anna's showing off a white paint that Mike will be using for antiquing. But she says it's a "Slightly antiquey white". Well, at least she admits it's white.

Meanwhile, Paige is asking Laurie about the walls. Laurie was going to take a "leisurely sit" and watch the paint (dry...?) a bit. Then she noticed the walls were two-tone. As in shoddy paint-work two-tone. I don't know why she needed to sit and look to figure this one out, the walls are screaming two-tone from a mile off.

This scene is worth its weight in toile for any Trekkers out there, because we get to see Laurie stand up and almost perform the Picard Maneuver, readjusting her pants, shirt sleeve, belt (front) and belt (rear), which all seem to have shifted uncomfortably on her. Looks like she's about to readjust the front of her shirt as well, but doesn't.

With her clothing back the way she likes it, she says, "We painted the walls with a base... primer... tint..." Her voice fades. "and... the wall color...."

Paige cuts in, "At the same time?"

Laurie, being an excellent example for future generations of designers, says "Well, we... yeah." Unless this is the royal "we", this means she's pegging half the responsibility on the handy Jonathan, like he was responsible for the paint. Poor lil' Southern girl, all these evil Northern people making her blush with talk of women's undergarments and ruining her careful plans with poor paint choices. She's just such a pushover.

Shake it baby! Er, I mean, sand it! Mike multitasks, antiquing while he watches Anna use a sander. He blames his roving eye on the whole "woman with power tools" aura. Me, I think it's because Anna's back-and-forth movement must be helping her low-slung jeans work their way, pardon the vernacular, down her arse. Mike's in a perfect place to watch without being noticed.

Anna says, "As long as I'm making you happy." and keeps going. Anna, honey, as long as you keep moving like that you could be sanding a board, mopping a floor, or gutting a moose and he wouldn't notice. But he'll be happy.

Blame it, baby! Laurie finally says "I may have started with the base coat being the top coat and the top coat the base coat."

Despite the fact that Laurie's talking, Paige tells Jonathan that she doesn't care whose fault it is. I can't tell if she seems to think Jonathan started the accusations, or if she just realizes that telling Laurie would send the blame game into extra innings.

Trading Soaps: (Cue tacky organ music.) On tonight's Trading Spaces, Paige confronts Carter on how he's being over-hospitable (as in, four-project hospitable) to the foreign vixen Anna. Paige laments, "I thought I was your girl!" as the harsh whip of betrayal stings her. Carter is unmoved.

In tomorrow's gripping episode, we learn that Laurie was replaced by her evil twin after season one, and the real Laurie is suffering from amnesia and working as a merchant seaman somewhere in the North Atlantic.

Emasculation for Dummies: Perhaps acutely aware that this might be punishment for his "Uh-uh"s during the curtain caressing, Jonathan cooly thanks Laurie for reintroducing him to sewing. Laurie responds with a compliment of his work, followed with what sounded like, honest to God, "You poo-pooed yourself in your home-ec class, but I think you would have gotten an A."

Let me be the first to say, "What the hell?"

Jen and Laurie double-team to finish demolishing Jonathan's last shreds of pathetic manliness, delegating him all sewing duties for eternity.

Simple crafts and simpler craftiness: Anna explains her craft plans to Dina. Watching Dina is like a case study in diplomacy. She likes the base item (two lamps). But Anna wants to remove some mini-sunbursts on the top of the lamps (Dina loses her smile), remove the "dangly fruit" that are hooked to the lamp's on/off chain (Dina moans but acquiesces), paint the lamp shades (Dina grits her teeth), and add a frill. With the frill, Dina perks up and says "I do love those!"

Nail guns, machine guns, and the women who love them. Perhaps in a further effort to make Jonathan less masculine, Carter shows Jen how to use a nail gun. After some complaining that they shouldn't put the nails in this way because it's not a comfortable angle to hold the gun - a complaint Carter is both amazed and annoyed by - she actually fires it. Then she says something like "Hooooooooooooooohoooo!" and smiles. Sort of reminds me of when Emily Booth*, former host of "Bits", fired off a good number of rounds using an automatic weapon. After she finished firing, she laughed and said "Oh, I think I've just come!"

It's a good world when women, and not just men, can enjoy phallic tools and guns of all kinds!

(* Another British babe incidentally, and one that I think - as far as being a "babe" is concerned - blows Anna out of the water, but anyway....)

Battle of the low-slung jeans: In a sort of mini-reveal, Anna drags Paige - who's covering her eyes - in to show her the hole Carter has cut in the wall. Since no one's choking on asbestos or urea formaldehyde, so far so good.

Looking into the hole, Paige says it's like an elevator shaft. Seems that there was part of a closet back there that was later closed up, leading to a large space in the wall. Paige asks "Why would anyone close up a closet?"

There's actually an answer for that, but since parts of dead bodies have yet to fall out of the hole, I'm assuming it doesn't apply.

Paige, no longer worried about the hole in the wall, gets into the demolition spirit and starts ripping out the irregular bits of wood left in the wall. After almost accidentally making the whole large enough to accommodate a bigger screen TV, she gives up on the destruction and grabs Carter's arm, reminding him that Laurie needs stuff done as well. Anna's not having any truck with this, and grabs his other arm. Then they start pulling. Carter's enjoying this way too much. Then the, er, ladies start trading shouted lines like "I'm the GUEST!" and "Let UP!"

Carter starts to say something, but the scene cuts away. He was probably about to suggest that they strip to their underwear and mud wrestle to see who gets to keep him. You know he's thinking that.

Speaking of, erm, ladies.... Laurie's laughing and singing. Why? Because she's assigning homework, which is going to include redoing the entire half-assed paint job. Laurie asks if she should get a chalkboard.

(Short 2 paragraph rant, feel free to skip it.)

I'm glad that, despite her occasional delusion in that direction, Laurie's not a teacher. (Presumably kindergarten, because she treats everyone like they're that age.) I mean, here she screws up rooms for a living. They can be redone. As a teacher, she'd be screwing up young minds for a living, and those can't be redone. Can you imagine what the world would be like in ten to fifteen years when Laurie's first young pupils would enter the workforce? Or politics? Can you imagine a President whose earliest memories of school and working women would involve "Mrs. Smith"?

Case in point: During the homework assignment, she uses the word "we" to describe what Jen & Jonathan will be doing. You notice how flexible her definition of "we" is? When it's relating to responsibility - as in "We used the wrong paint" - it means "me" or "I", but when it's work - as in "we're going to paint the ceiling" - it means "you". Would you want someone like that teaching your children the grammar that will carry them through their lives? Oh, wait, sorry, would we want someone like that teaching our children? I know that, for one, we don't.

Anyway.... Laurie's big idea: She wants them to put border running from the ceiling edge in towards the ceiling center 20 inches. Or, as Laurie puts it, "20, 18, 20, 20 inches. 20." which averages out to 19.6 inches. She wants it the same color as the walls. Okay, I can see how that could be good if the color was lighter, but it's going to just enhance the small size of the room even further.

Also: Priming and painting (cream color) pretty much everything else in the room. Laurie, of course, makes all the work worth it with a remarkably insincere "Love ya!" as she leaves.

Anna's homework involves painting some shelves, touching up the room paint, getting rid of the ceiling fan, and removing the closet doors and the associated architrave. After some confusion on Dina & Mike's part, they realize that that last one means "molding". I notice that the word "architrave" sounds like crap when pronounced with an American accent. It's like "arse" - sounds lousy unless you're British.

The homeowners seem to think it's a lot. Hey, wait 'til you find out what's going on over in your place.

Day 2: Anna's homeowners tell her how much work it was to do everything she asked. Aww. And all they get for it is a semi-sarcastic "You've managed to get the molding off here...." amongst the checklist of stuff Anna sees they've finished. Tsk tsk. No love here.

And there's no love anywhere else. As Laurie walks in, Jonathan stage yawns and then says "Speak of the devil!", even though he clearly wasn't speaking of her before.

Laurie says "Speak of the devil? Noooo!" in a voice that indicates more enjoyment than emotional distress. She knows her role in life and revels in it. Insult her all you want, it's all just more water under the ice near her summer home on Lake Cocytus.

She also speaks lovingly of the ceiling paint job. Well, speaks lovingly of her idea to paint it, anyway.

Overall, she gives the whole thing an A+. You know, I'm really scared that she might become a teacher (probably at a private school where hiring regulations don't need to adhere to anything resembling a standard) if this whole TV thing starts to bore her.

Big Beautiful(?) Wall Treatments: Carter and Jonathan are attaching phase one of Laurie's wall art project, a big black rectangle. Arthur C. Clarke would be proud. Electrical cables for lights have been run behind it. This tape's gonna make great insurance company fodder.

Outside, Laurie and Paige are gluing the fake macaroni art together. This will be glued onto the Monolith in a semirandom pattern. Paige catches Laurie in a mistake and says quietly, "Quick, blame the homeowner!" which Laurie gleefully does.

Though Anna previously professed a love of hot glue, Paige on the other hand is having some problems. It's covering her in threads, and she's clearly annoyed, culminating in a shrill cry of "God!" and a comment on how the threads feel like a spiderweb.

Laurie says "Oh no!" in response to the "God!" comment, then follows it up with "Okay, just... you know what? Just keep gluing!"

Hell hath no fury: So now Mike's outside with Anna. She has a great idea to take "tights" (lacy pantyhose type affairs - man, first Laurie's talking about slips, now Anna's buying women's underwear...) and use them in a craft project. Mike wants Anna to model them. Perhaps he could write a little love-note to Dina on Anna's thigh, or something, to show his everlasting love.

Though the craft project is either going to be good or really bad: The idea is to put the tights over the mirrors they dug up in the basement, spray paint over them, then remove the tights and you'll have a reverse-pattern of the lace on the mirror.

After they finish one, they show it off. It actually looks really nice.

Big Ugly Walls: Seems the plaster didn't allow Carter to use nails. He used screws. Man, that's going to be fun to remove, should they ever need to. Not that nails would be much better, it's just that if you don't have a lot of fancy motorized tools, yanking nails is easier than unscrewing about (squints) two dozen screws.

And I don't know if it's light reflections or what, but I can see what looks to be stress marks in the wall below every single screw at the bottom of the black Tycho Monolith.

And the award for most pointless use of the Paige Cam goes to: Anna talking about how well things are going and, in the minds of her homeowners, jinxing it.

The "love it" has been downgraded to a tropical "like it". Anna shows Dina the headboard and bed fabric. Dina: "I knew thought I would love it, and I do love it.... Like it."


Later, seeing it on the headboard, she says she likes it. Anna treats it as a great victory, not realizing that was what Dina thought of it before.

Well, God didn't say "Let there be lights": As Laurie nails the fake macaroni placemats to the Monolith, Carter asks how she likes the lights. She summarily writes him off with a hasty "I'm sure it's great, yeah." without even looking at the lights carefully. Or, more accurately, looking at the light. One of them is dead. He asks again and she says, "Well, it needs to be turned on, but yeah." Carter laughs nervously.

Carter laughing nervously isn't a good thing. One of the lights is dead. And I get the feeling Carter's gonna be following.

He says that a nail might have hit the wire. Okay, so metal nail damaging or shorting out electrical cable is in no way dangerous? Carter then admits that, well, he didn't think to test it before they stuck the Monolith to the wall and entombed the cable, so he doesn't really know what it is.

Laurie, meanwhile, has brow furrowed in concentration, probably wondering where she can stash the body until she gets back to Jackson or somewhere else where she knows the locations of several secluded vacant lots.

Laurie's rubbing her neck and twisting her head. You know how, in movies, the good guy will deliver a nasty head kick to the brutish evil henchman, and the henchman just rubs his neck, moves his head a bit, and there's this really disgusting popping sound? Laurie's doing that exact same move, only without the popping.

So that means that the room is not only dark and oppressive, but it has half the already pathetic light output that was expected. Okay, fine. Attach some arm and leg clamps to Laurie's art project and it will be the perfect dungeon.

Paige cuts in by claiming that the lights are beautiful, but the art ain't; even so, they're committed. How very true.

Jonathan wishes this was his house, because it was Dina & Mike's idea to get onto this show, and they should feel good about the room they get. Laurie, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he's basically saying "I think that this unknown British woman is going to do better on our room than Laurie's doing on this one." says that his sentiment is sweet.

Of course, she also thought Jen's comment that she's glad this isn't her room was amusing. Laurie must live for this stuff, since I can't believe she's dense enough to misunderstand their opinion that the room's lousy. I get this image of her in crimson low-cut robes, reciting the Mass in reverse while holding a ceremonial dagger over her head, about to plunge it into the chest of a struggling virgin.

It's not easy living in my head.

Chat, reveal, final thoughts, what have you: Anna's room isn't quite my style, because I dislike plum, purple, and such. But, leaving that aside, it's not bad at all. It's even better when you learn that Anna, despite dealing with a different currency, only spent $907.34. I seem to remember Hildi spending twice that when she was in England. The closet framed so it looks like a pseudo-armoire is kind of neat.

For the reveal, Paige tells Jen & Jonathan that they've been skydiving, they've given birth to children (What don't we know about Jonathan?), so this is nothing. And indeed, they like it. Jen, in particular, loves it. Jonathan really likes the TV niche.

Laurie's room, on the other hand.... Since I've already expressed a dislike for purple in small quantities, you can imagine my opinion here. Laurie's $2.04 over. Paige doesn't make a deal over it. The massive artsy thing looks like it was stolen from a high school theater group remake of Shogun. The paint on the ceiling is a nice concept, if it weren't that color. As it is, it just enhances the darkness of the room, which is a lot like enhancing the darkness of a dumpster interior at midnight. There seems to be more storage, but if I wanted more storage I'd just hire Carter and leave Laurie in whatever fabric fantasy world she usually lives in.

The homeowner's reaction is something like "It's a small house, but this one dark room will work with the rest of the house so light." Yeah, sure. And a polkadot tie will go great with a striped shirt, because everything else matches.

Dina & Mike don't seem to mind the nonfunctioning light. Wait 'til the insurance adjuster phones next week and says "Hi, yeah, we saw your room on TV and we'd like you to know that we've suspended your fire insurance due to faulty wiring, as Paige admitted to on camera. We will be willing to reinstate it for the simple premium increase of one hundred dollars... a month. Have a good day!"

Go back! Back I say!

Beat a hasty retreat to the main page.
Run along home.

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Trading Spaces is owned by these Banyan people, or something. TLC's got something to do with it, too. I don't own those. If I did, I'd probably fire Laurie. Images used without permission, so I'm going to Hell.
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