Saturday, October 30, 2010

Project Done-way (that pun was as awesome as the Season Finale)

(STOP MAKING SENSE. The panel is split between coherent thought and insanity and you might not be too surprised to find out at which side captures the day.)

Ugh, alright. Let's get this over with. Project Runway - I actually really enjoyed this season for the most part. I've said before I thought it was cast better than it had been in a long time. Things seems to be on track at the beginning. But then... the judging seemed to be totally crazy, the eliminations became just as bizarre the critiques, the 1-day challenges that produce less than ambitious designs were plentiful, and the usually composed Tim Gunn was using every new-media format available to call the production team out on their endless bullshit. His FB videos were astonishingly awesome, until one tirade after the "Jackie O.(MFG)" challenge, where he started naming the names connected to the offscreen fuck-up's, got the videos shut down for good. Tim was busy with the book tour and I think he also just got tired of talking about the season once Fashion week happened and he knew Gretchen was the winner. The damage was done though. We knew something was rotten in Parsons. Still there some good times to be had, mostly surrounding the solidification of Team Mondo.

So Mondo vs. Gretchen. There really was no contest, but the show insists there was, so let's dig in. Both there collections were fine, but come on! I wasn't even rooting against Gretchen. I found her high opinion of herself and her colorful commentary on everyone else's work kinda fascinating in a "what the eff makes you so special?" exasperated sorta way. And as the season went on, I understood more where her mental drama was coming from as it was revealed she was in debt and was not the upper class lady she so desperately wanted to be, and therefore tried to compensate for this shame by acting like the Queen of Sheba. Cool, I get it. And the judges really loved her designs in the beginning. But as the season wore on, she fell apart. Her clothes suffered. Her designs suffered. She had nothing left in the tank creatively by mid-season. In her last critique before the finale, she said as much. She was sick of the challenges! She wanted to go home already and make her damn collection and then come back and win just like she deserved to! But where was the output to back up the talk? It really wasn't there.

Then you have Mondo, who started out socially awkward and uncomfortable on the show, but then gained confidence as the season went on. He won three challenges in a row toward the end and could've easily won a fourth because his designs were WAY beyond what any of the others were doing. Not only that but he drew an amazing amount of love and goodwill from the viewing audience for (1) how he disclosed his HIV status, (2) his ability to see the goodness in Michael C. when everyone else teamed up with Nasty Poison Ivy to bully him for no real reason, and (3) his own far out there yet endearing personal style. Mondo was clearly the hero of the season, but his design skills were exemplary and should've made him the winner. Given who his competition was, this seemed like the only acceptable outcome over a MONTH ago. We were all just sitting through the last couple challenges waiting for the happy moment when he'd be crowned the winner. That's how head and shoulders above everyone else he was. He had no real competition.

But then heading into these final two episodes, I started to get nervous. Not because Mondo was faltering, and Gretchen was getting a second wind, but simply because I didn't trust the show to reach a logical conclusion. I figured P.Runway would be too in love with the idea of having "shocking" twist to be seen as unpredictable. I discussed my concerns with Sassy, who felt similarly. I could see how the show wouldn't be content with an obvious ending devoid of suspense. I could picture them sitting around a long table in a cramped conf room brainstorming. Couldn't the show have TWO winners if everyone already loved Mondo, and somebody else had the actual title? Wouldn't that get people talking in outrage? Wouldn't people be more invested if Mondo lost than if he won? The answers to all those questions is "yes." But that doesn't it make it any less ridiculous. So if you wanted me to talk about you, P.Runway, you succeeded in the short term, but this is the last time. We're through. I'm fed up with your bullshit.

And the straw that put the nail in the final broken coffin for me was the judge's final runway deliberation where Michael and Nina just went crazy. Those two made NO SENSE. I couldn't believe the animosity coming from Michael Kors toward Mondo's collection, and the support he got from Nina for Gretchen's collection. They hated his polka dot dress that much? They were that insulted that he wouldn't listen to them and chuck it from the collection, that they refused him the title? Even when Heidi and (random finale guest judge) Jessica Simpson both insisted they loved the dress, Nina practically spat at Heidi that she was a liar. This is coming from Nina, who audibly gasped in pleasure at Mondo's work back in the design-your-own-textiles challenge with his extremely high-waisted hiv-positive pants? Kors nastily challenged Heidi to actually go put on the dress. Then Jessica Simps mentions that Gretchen's clothes are all loose and Kors snaps at her "HELLO?? READ A MAGAZINE!" WTF? Somebody is off their meds.

(I think this is the moment where Heidi realizes from the insane shit coming out of Kors' mouth that she just can't win with Nina and Michael so adamantly against her. She kept her composure, but she sure wasn't happy.)

And then to make it even more bizarro, Heidi and Jessica Simps keep making salient arguments for why the season winner should be Mondo, and Michael and Nina go off the wall in their campaign for Gretchen, contradicting all their former critiques. Their battle back and forth would actually be compelling if both sides made sense. But they don't. I'm just gonna lift a paragraph from Laura Bennet's blog now because she sums it up perfectly.

"It’s like Nina woke up one day and took back everything she had said to Mondo all season — or all designers of all seasons. “Gretchen has no color, and we want color; no, we mean color was yesterday.” “That’s so mumsy, and we want youthful; no, it’s too youthful. Youthful is yesterday.” “That’s clothing, not fashion. This show is about fashion. Who wears fashion? It should be commercial! Fashion is so yesterday.” Mondo = Seth Aaron = what was happening yesterday. (By the way, Nina, way to support your choice just six months ago of Seth Aaron as the next great fashion designer.)"

Isn't that spot on? THAT'S what the real problem is. Taste can be subjective, but if you are a fashion professional, your argument for what you like and dislike still should be consistent with what you've been telling the designers (and the audience for that matter) what you've been looking for all along - for 8 seasons! Kudos to Heidi for sticking up for Mondo as long as she did. But it was a lost cause. As is, perhaps, the show in general.

In closing, I'll restate that I don't dislike Gretchen, because I know Anti-Gretchen sentiment is very strong. I don't feel negatively toward her for winning, nor for her superior attitude throughout the season. It doesn't even really bother me in this instance that the "season villain" won, like it bothered me with Irina a couple seasons ago. I wish Gretchen success in life, just like Mondo. Just like everybody! Everybody should live a happy successful life (well, if karma decides to kick Ivy in the ass, so be it) The show however, has lost any sense of internal logic and artistic relevance. It's one thing when you have a season where there are no super-strong stand out personalities or fashion points of view. Then you have to try to spin gold from straw. But this year the show had the chance to embrace a designer with an excitement around him the likes of which P.Runway hasn't seen since Christian Siriano in Season 4. The fact that they couldn't see that and capitalize on it, is bizarre. Let's face it, the show just cannot get its act together. And 8 seasons in, the panel is cranky and bored. Tim Gunn is at his wit's end. The producers don't know how to design effective challenges that encourage creativity. Even in a 90-minute format, they don't know how to incorporate AN ENTIRE ADDITIONAL SEASON-LONG CONTEST FOR THE WINNING MODEL into the frame of the show. Most egregiously, however, they don't know how to pick a winner. I'm not going through this again in Season 9. To borrow from some of the classic runway critiques, the show has made me question its taste level, it bores me, it gives me nothing I haven't seen before and doesn't leave me interested in seeing more. I'm sorry, Runway. That means you're out. Kiss, kiss. Auf wiedersehen.

(You had me at "HELLO? READ A MAGAZINE!!" Unfortunately, you lost me there too.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Birthday of Champions: The Baskin-Robbins Year

(It's a cake of legend. The mint chocolate cake by Gracie. A cake worthy of the Birthday of Champions.)

"Birthday of Champions!
BIRTHday of CHAMPions!
NOOO time for LOOOOSERS!
It's Birthday of Champions... of the world!"

- Birthday of Champions, sung to the melody of "We are the Champions" my annual birthday anthem.

Today I turned 31. I'm cool with it. I actually like the #31. It's prime. It's a number connected to Halloween and New Year's Eve. I like to think of it as my Baskin-Robbins birthday, for BR's famous 31 flavors of ice cream. It really ain't so bad at all.

30 was a good year for me. I had my first play produced, went on a solo adventure in Paris, ran my second marathon, was in a very meaningful relationship, and as corny as it might sound, really learned a lot about myself. If 31 brings the kind of opportunities that 30 presented, I'll be a happy guy. Through it all, I felt an immense amount of love and support from my friends and family. I value that above it all.

I've got new goals for the next year, and I had some fun wishes in my heart and mind when I blew out my birthday candle. Here's hoping I can make 'em come true. :)

RIP, Paul The Octopus!

(gone but not forgotten.)

It is with a heavy heart that I bring to you news of the death of Paul the Octopus. Paul, you'll remember, was the Octopus gifted with future sight, correctly predicting 8 for 8 match ups in this year's World Cup tournament, mostly following his home country Germany until they were eliminated, and then accurately predicting Spain's title win. Well, Paul passed away last night in his aquarium at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre. He was almost three years old and cause of death is assumed to be old age. No foul play is suspected.

Let us be clear: those Germans killed Paul. They hated him after he predicted Germany's loss and then even more when he saw Spain's fated win. He already had received death threats from the Argentinians and the Iranians but he should've been safe from them. No, his enemies were much closer to home. The Germans couldn't just let Paul go off and live the rest of his life as a hero in a Spanish aquarium. Oh, no. They held on to him until the world's attention was elsewhere and then they murdered him for abandoning the German football team. I don't have proof, but I know it in my heart to be true. RIP, Paul. Thank you for supporting Spain!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Owen's 2010 ING NYC Marathon Run for Lauren's First and Goal!

So in less than 2 weeks, I'll be running the 2010 ING NYC Marathon! This will be my 3rd year in a row! It will be my ninth official Road Runners race this year and my fifth 13+ mile race of the year as well. No wonder my legs are always tired.

(This is me finishing up my last race a couple weeks ago. That was such a good day. If Marathon Day is like that day, I'll be in great shape!)

I'm very excited about this year's race, because this time I get to run in support of Lauren´s First and Goal, a 501(c)3 charitable organization started in 2004 by my cousin Marianne Loose and her husband John Loose in honor of my cousin Lauren, a 13-year-old pediatric brain tumor survivor. The Loose family started the foundation as a way to help other families who are battling childhood cancer. And they all happen to rock.

(Ms. Lauren, looking lovely.)

Since its inception, LFG has raised more than $1 million toward its mission to provide financial support for brain tumor research and cancer services, to offer financial and emotional support to families living with pediatric cancer, and to increase awareness of the disease. These goals are made possible through the funding gained through LFG Football Camp and charitable contributions.

I'm so thrilled to be raising money for this organization and I hope you can contribute to my fundraising efforts!

Please support me by donating to the cause at this link.

http://www.crowdrise.com/owensnycmarathonforl/fundraiser/runowenrun

When you get to my page (which features a picture of my headshot since that's the only pic I had that didn't horribly stretch and distort the uploaded image), just click the big orange DONATE button. It's for a great cause and I will definitely appreciate your support!

You can also join my facebook group "Run Owen Run! Rock that 2010 ING NYC Marathon! Part III - Dream Warriors!" to cheer me on. It's a long group title, because it's a long race.

Red Fanta

While grocery shopping the other day, something caught my eye in the soda aisle. It wasn't what was there actually, but what was missing. I took a picture to illustrate my point.

(mmm... delicious Fanta! but wait...)

There are three Fanta flavors on display. Purple, Yellow and Orange. But there's no red flavored fanta on the shelves. It jumps straight to Sprite. Then iit dawned on me that I've never seen a 2-Liter bottle of Red Fanta. There are supposed to be 4 colors of Fanta, as represented by The Fantanas.

(Hello there, ladies.)

I'm mostly used to seeing Purple Fanta in the grocery store or maybe Orange Fanta. Yellow fanta is harder to find. But Red Fanta? It is never on the shelves. Is Red Fanta not legal in the United States? Is the red dye that makes it red fanta not FDA-approved? I don't have the answer. All I know is that I've never seen 2-Liter Red Fanta. Now I am on a mission. Red Fanta, I will find you. You will be mine.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lombardi! He Sings! He Dances! (No, He Doesn't. But He's On Broadway!)


I wanted to give a quick shout out to my friend Tommy Kail as he opens his new show, Lombardi, on Broadway this evening. Tommy's an awesome guy and I can't wait to see the show! Lombardi is a play about football legend Vince Lombari and stars Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years! We Love Him!) as Lombardi, and Judith Light (Who's the Boss! Ugly Betty! L&O SVU! We Love Her TOO!) as his wife Marie. Such great casting!

The show sounds really cool and I'm sure TK did a phenomenal job directing it. TK is a apparently a Redskins fan (huhbutwhat??) but I won't hold it against him, or question his taste level (Go PATS!). He wrote a little piece about the show that you can read at GQ (and while you're there, there might be some soft core photography of the Glee Cast to look at. If you're interested in that sort of thing.)

Break a leg tonight, Lombardi team! I'd give some kind of motivational speech, but you've already kinda got the market cornered on those.

Monday, October 18, 2010

LiLo: The Next Generation. The Ongoing Descent of Justin Bieber

(Little Boy Lost?)

Oh, Justin Bieber. Have you possibly attacked a young kid in a lazer tag gaming facility? This only a few months after you assaulted a state trooper with a water balloon? Why all of these violent public outbursts? Are these cries for help? Are Momma and Poppa Bieber turning into the Lohans? Can no one intervene? Bieber is everywhere lately. As A recoding artist. As a TV guest star. As a nail polish entrepenuer. But he's just a kid. He doesn't need to be an industry all to himself. He needs a time out and a nap and maybe he will stop attacking people before he's sentenced to some anger management and an ankle bracelet.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nanny No More! RIP Barbara Billingsley

This weekend Barbara Billingsley passed away. This sort of news is to be expected. She was 94. Her iconic TV role was that of June Cleaver, of course, but she lives in my heart for her cameo in Airplane! which is undeniably amazing.




The thingsthat I didn't realize though, was that she was also the voice of Nanny on Muppet Babies. She was the loving but firm voice behind the striped socks, people. The fact that the voice of Nanny is dead really bums me out.

(The voice is gone. The socks live on.)

You rocked, Barbara Billingsley. If spirits can google alert their names in Heaven so that they know the living are blogging about them, I thank you for your artistic contributions to my life.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rafa Takes Tokyo!!

(This is the coolest looking trophy. Well done, Japan Open.)

Congrats to Rafael Nadal on winning the Japan Open in Tokyo earlier today, for his 7th title of the season. He beat Gael Monfis pretty handily in the final 6-1, 7-5. It's a bit of a rebound for Rafa after he uncharacteristically lost to his compatriot Garcia-Lopez last week in the semi-finals of Bangkok, and then again almost lost in the semi-finals this week to Vicktor Troicki, having to erase two match points against him. Still, it's been a long season for Rafa and lapses in concentration this late in the season certainly happen. Ultimately, he was able to recover in Tokyo and win the tournament. Hooray!

Rafa now heads to the Shanghai Masters to finish up the three-week ATP fall tour through Asia. I hope after that he gets another well earned rest before dealing with the Masters Cup in London this November.

Nadal currently holds an outstanding 66-8 record for the season across 15 tournaments, and improved to 7-1 in 2010 finals. His victory in Tokyo marks his 43rd career title and his seventh for 2010. Great work, Rafa! Best of luck in Shanghai! Vamos!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Project Runway 8: Episode 11 - Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin (Colored Pants) Eater

Hello, my name is Owen and I have no eye for fashion. That being said, Una's on vacation, so let's recap some Project Runway!

Previously: The Seven Sisters made their own textiles which had to have a personal connection to them. The designers families showed up, and the designers cried. Mondo disclosed his HIV status, and everyone everywhere cried. Mondo won for the third week in a row. Man, why couldn't Una go on vacation LAST week. This was the best episode ever! At least with only 6 designers left, I don't have to remember too many contestant names this week.

As the intro runs, I realize that the model paired with the winning designer still gets 25K and I have absolutely no idea who any of the models are. They really are getting the shaft this season with the demise of Models of the Runway. Even with the show running at 90 minutes, they are barely visible now.

Mondo wakes up with Edward Scissorhands hair, a nice rush from winning his 3rd consecutive challenge and an ever bigger rush from being unburdened by a huge decade-long secret. Things are looking up for Mr. Mondo!

Things are also apparently looking up for Gretchen and April as their room is now quiet with Chatty Cathies Ivy and Valerie having been eliminated in the previous two challenges. It's much easier for everything to be about Gretchen when there are less people taking up space around her, and that's just how Gretchen likes it. On their way out the door, Andy lets us know he's ready to redeem himself. Stranger things have happened!

The designers are assembled facing the runway. Heidi comes out with the velvet button bag and the designers moan demonstrably. These folks have zero game face at this point. They are too exhausted to pretend they are interested in shaking things up. Heidi tells them she thinks they are getting too comfortable with their models. Really? I was just saying a few paragraphs ago that I don't know the models at all! Regardless of my opinion, everyone's getting a new model this challenge. Mondo hopes his new model is as awesome as his old one... Ian (sp?)? Everyone picks their new models, but then Gretchen is last and has to choose between Ian (sp?) and Milana. Gretchen goes with Milana and Ian(sp?) is out. Damn. She must've thought she was a lock for Fashion Week while paired with the genius known as Mondo. That's an unfortunate turn of events. I'd care more about it if I had gotten any idea of who she was over the past 10 episodes of this season.

Heidi announces that they are designing for her this challenge and all the designers cringe and then smile hoping that they covered it well (they didn't). Then Heidi drops the bomb that SHE is now a designer (!) and has her own line (!!) and the winning design will be added to her collection to be sold on amazon.com (!!!). It's gotta suck to work so hard on this show and then have the supermodel walk up and be like "I have a line and I didn't have to do any of the bullshit you're doing to get it. Isn't that great?" Some models trot out 6 looks from Heidi's activewear line for New Balance, to act as a guideline for what she wants, I think all the clothes are ugly. There's no color or prints, which gives Mondo pause. It all looks like oversized sweats. It's all very sit-on-your-couch wear. Not very active in my opinion. But I'm not a lady, so maybe ladies dig this stuff. Judge for yourself.

(Activewear = Awfulwear?)

Heidi thinks the designers should all be so excited for this opportunity, and they give a half-hearted "yay..." but it's clear nobody wants to do this right now. Christopher interviews that's he's never done active wear before. And with that having been said, I predict he's the one to be auf'ed.

Into the work room they go! April has also never made activewear. Oh no! Don't you go home, April! There's grey fabric in the workroom for them. It looks drab and boring. Mondo couldn't give a shit about this stupid challenge and just plans to pull something out of his ass. Gretchen says that the clothes in Heidi's collection are "retail driven" and "basic" which is a very Gretchen thing to say, but I have to agree that the collection clothes kinda suck. They can't be very inspiring to the designers.

There is sketching. There is shopping at Mood. There is a return trip to Parsons. They all get to work. Heidi comes into the workroom with Tim and she looks effing fantastic. Just gorgeous. Is that the outfit she wore on the runway? What day is this? Heidi is going to go around the workroom and tear into everybody's ideas. While she lick her lips over who to attack first, Tim tells Christopher that his model had a horrible family emergency (oh no!) so Ian(sp?) is back in. Mondo's model gets a second chance! That's great for her!

Heidi goes to look at Mondo's outfit and has some concerns. Mondo is highly insecure about having Heidi look at his stuff before it's ready. Heidi doesn't care, and starts picking it apart. Mondo giver her total attitude, rolling his eyes and mouthing off saying he really loves the design and that the only problem is that he hasn't fitted his model for it yet. Heidi is like "bitch, you think I won't call your bluff? Let me try on this shit right now." So she tries to wear it and it doesn't fit like he says it will, but Mondo pretends he loves how it looks on her. Their conversation goes downhill from there. Yes, that's right. Previously we'd been uphill. All the other designers are shocked at how this is unfolding. Both Mondo and Heidi seem hurt by each others poor attitudes. Finally Mondo says he'll just scrap everything and start again. Damn. He's not feeling this show right now. It's like he's forgetting he just won the last three challenges.

Andy's consultation with Heidi seems to go well. This makes Mondo even angrier and he leaves the workroom for a time out in the lounge. Christopher comes out to talk to him and I think they might secretly have a really close friendship that the editors never bothered to show us in the last 10 episodes. Mondo still remains totally over this challenge. I think he's just intimidated by how bad Heidi's non-existent color palette is and can't find his way into it. After winning so many times in a row, he can't figure out how to win this one. I still love him the best.

Gretchen's consultation might actually go worse than Mondo's. She can't take any criticism. Instead of trying to design into Heidi's line she's trying to improve it, and her attitude while talking to Heidi is like she's trying to SAVE it. Gretchen doesn't want to use Heidi's horrible fabric, but there's a warehouse full of it, so that's what has to be present on the runway. Gretchen is worried and pissed she dramatically flings her fabric off the table. Tim and Heidi look at her all, "wuhuhh??"

Michael C is next and Heidi is a big Michael C fan. She loves his designs and cracks a joke that his early detractors have almost all been wiped out from the competition. You know who's still around and doesn't like his designs? April. She really lays into him hard in her interview.

Instead of just leaving after she's done wreaking havoc, Heidi spins around and tells them that she wants 3 looks this week instead of just 1. Whaaaat? All the designers tell Heidi she can go take her three design demands and go eff herself, not with words, but just through their body language. It's awesome. Heidi says not to worry and that she'll send them some help. Michael C. freaks out because he figures the help will come in the form of eliminated contestants and they all hate him. A lot.

They go back to Mood to buy more fabric for all the ugly looks they have to churn out in less than two days. Tim tries to give them a pep talk, but it might be too little to late. Gretchen and Mondo both feel totally lost in the woods and really resent having to create these looks. After Mood, they get back to Parsons and Tim introduces them to their "design assistants." It's 6 eliminated designers. DAMN. Now I DO have to remember some of their names. The pairings go:

Mondo and Valerie
Getchen and Casanova
Christopher and Ivy
Michael C and AJ (I had totally forgotten he was ever on the show.)
April and Peach (who I almost called Sweet Pea)
Andy and Michael D

I was surprised that Michael D. was picked last, and then Andy interviews that he knows that Michael D. "isn't incompetent" which hardly even qualifies as faint praise. All these bitches rant about Michael C. having no sewing skills, but it seems common knowledge that "Other Michael" also has no skills, and no ever complains about it with the same animosity, so figure that one out.

Everybody gets to work. Mondo seems to respond well to having Valerie working with him. Gretchen is still completely in her own head about her meeting with Heidi. She thinks Heidi hates her. Why else would she have negative things to say about such amazing designs? It couldn't be that her designs are off target. It must be a personal vendetta against Gretchen! Being Gretchen is hard.

Casanova can't get over Michael C's design. He thinks it's all Thanksgiving dinner. It DOES look like that. Especially since he's got sweet-potato-orange pants matched with a turkey-feather-brown oversized cloak-thingy. Casanova is kinda hilarious here and even though I hate having 12 designers back in the workspace, I'm glad I got to witness his antics again.

Okay, and now this is the part of the episode where some messed up shit goes down. A lot of the eliminated contestants and Michael C. are in the sewing room together and Casanova and the other boys are picking on him a bit about his "Thanksgiving Line," but it's mostly good-natured. Then Ivy decides to engage Michael C in conversation and he tries to be pleasant about it and then this happens:

Ivy: So Michael, how does it feel being almost to the end of the the competition?
Michael: Oh, I haven't felt it yet. It's just- it's just -just still in shock that I'm still here.
Ivy: Why because you cheated???

Bitch, no. You lost and you're bitter. I understand that it kills you that the contestant you mocked to make yourself feel superior made it further than you. But the idea that he cheated in order to beat you is something you made up. Instead of accepting that you made two crappy dresses that got your ass booted from the show, you're holding on to this falsehood that has nothing to do with Michael C. It has to do with you not accepting your own flaws.

It gets worse from there though. Poison Ivy starts saying ridiculous things just to hurt Michael C. by saying, Michael C. plays the game (?) sabotaged everyone on the show (??) and that he's an embarrassment of a father (???). This is so stupid. Ivy keeps saying how Michael C. is not a nice person and that he's despicable and he'll get what he deserves, but methinks someone is projecting some self-loathing right about now. The sewing machine Ivy's working on finally gets sick of her and tries to take out one of her eyes, but it just misses. Ivy then runs around telling all the cool kids how cool she was for facing off against that stupid loser Michael C. Dude, Ivy's such a bitch.

To both Mondo and Gretchen's credit, they identify that this whole situation with the bitter cast-off designers as ridiculous and they wish everyone would move on. A little surprisingly, April expresses some very anti-Michael C. opinions when talking with Poison Ivy. Don't let the poison into your system, April. Rise above this pettiness!

Finally, Papa Gunn enters the workroom to knock a few heads together. He calls everyone over. Ivy pretends this doesn't involve her until Gunn calls her out by name. Bitch. Gunn asks about the accusation of cheating and asks if someone is really making this claim. Ivy says nothing. Bitch. Michael C. tells him it's true. Gunn is like well, spill it, accusers. Ivy finally tells this dumb story about Top Stick, or something, that they found in the women's bathroom. I don't know what top stick is and I don't care. In 8 seasons on this show I've seen outfits hot-glued together, stapled together, pinned together, stitched together where there should've been zippers. Everything under the sun. I don't understand how some boob tape becomes a federal offense worthy of disqualification. Ivy tries to tell us how it was SO MUCH boob tape. No one said anything about it at the time because they were "too focused" on their own thing, but later when they had nothing to do back at the apartments but bitch about how they didn't like the way judging went, they decided it was a big issue and a convenient way to get rid of Michael C. When they brought this awesome scandal to the producers attention later on, they were laughed out of the room and told it was too late anyway.

Tim Gunn looks at Ivy with barely restrained contempt as she says this whole thing, and then flat out tells them it IS too late. Everyone's moved on and they should too. Then he's like, let me break it down for you like this: The judges saw nothing, I saw nothing in the workroom and the cameras caught nothing illegal either. I think it's the second point that really irks Tim. The suggestion that he somehow would permit active rule-breaking in the work room, really insults his sense of integrity. Ivy nods all, "oh yeah, sure, that makes sense." Bitch. Gunn tells them all to move forward and that the whole trumped up issue is OVER. As is the second work day.

It's morning again at Atlas. The boys want a girl to go home. The girls want Michael C. to go home. April really does not like him. Gretchen doesn't favor anyone who isn't Gretchen, so she couldn't care less which of the others is eliminated. I'm sure she'd even be perfectly fine if it was April and she was the last woman standing.

Last minute prep for everybody! Hair and make-up time. The eliminated contestants are left in the work room and the competing designers, with their army of models, head for the runway. We are finally rid of seeing Poison Ivy for the rest of the episode.

Challenge recap for the panel: everybody had to make 3 looks to fit in to Heidi's new & horrible activewear line. The guest judge is Norma Kamali, who is a designer, which makes more sense than having another January Jones sitting on the panel. Let's see the clothes.

Note: I hated almost everything that came down the runway this week. I think almost everything looked really cheap and odd-looking. But Heidi's line was such a crappy place to start with, no wonder the taste level was way off. Let's remind ourselves what Heidi's new balance line looked like:

(yup. still bad.)

Yeesh. let's see how the designers fit in with this collection. I'm not uploading 18 photos so here are pics taken in groups during judging.

Gretchen:
Ooof. The first look has like 3 layers of constricting mismatched clothing wrapped around the model topped off by a bathrobe. Look 2 is all 80's workout boobs with a necklace. Look 3 is a jumbled white dress and ANOTHER bathrobe. And then there are those turbans! No, no and no. But oddly, they DO seem to fit in with the examples from Heidi's line.

Andy

These aren't so bad.... maybe a little too Beetlejuice for my taste. Or perhaps Nightmare Before Christmas? Still it's a major step up for Andy from last week. Everything looked very light while it was walking the runway. The hoodie is kinda skeletal though. People are really into black and white this season, though.

April

I don't like these. The dresses just look like costumes to me. How this is activewear? Who's running around town in these clothes? Maybe the middle one is alright but the looks on either end are way out there. The short shorts look especially like activewear for the bedroom. I don't get these looks.

Christopher

Even Christopher hates these looks. They look mad cheap. I'm much more interested in the jacket Christopher's wearing than anything he designed for this challenge. A grey pillowcase shirt? Sweatpants with slits? A butterfly windbreaker? Whatever the hell that last dress is? I don't understand. A very poor showing for Christopher.

Michael C.

There's no denying it. Thanksgiving comes early this year. I don't understand any of this. Everything looks huge. It's vaguely like he's dressing Pocahontas. The colors don't make any sense with the rest of Heidi's collection. Another all around failure.

Mondo

This isn't the most flattering picture of the looks. The actually looked comfortable and kinda expensive when walking the runway. I'm so glad Mondo rebounded from his early fight with Heidi, and I wonder how she will score him considering his defensive attitude with her. I also think the geometry-inspired head bands are cute.

So Andy's were a light and pretty trip through Halloweentown, Mondo's were cute and comfy and probably better than anything actually in Heidi's line and everyone else's looked bad. This should make for some interesting judges' comments.

With only 6 designers left, everyone gets critiqued. Michael C., Christopher and Gretchen are in the Bottom 3. Gretchen is in absolute shock. She thought Mondo would be in the bottom. I think she thought that because she desperately wants validation that she is better than him, and not because she actually thought his clothes were that bad. This is why I sort of love Gretchen. Her sense of self importance and her total insecurity about her work go hand in hand in almost a quiet, dignified way. Whereas Poison Ivy is just nasty and bitter and loud and childish, Gretchen is just super intense about wanting to be good and telling herself she's the best. When the facts don't match up with her sense of self importance, she can't understand it and it hurts her. Somehow that makes me root for her. Not to win the season, but to succeed in life.

The judges talk to the top 3 first. Heidi tries to play with Mondo about his earlier attempts that she hated and he's just so tense about it. Relax, Mondo! You're Top 3! Nina, of course, loves Mondo and loves these looks. Michael Kors thinks the bottom pieces are too simple which means Mondo won't 4-peat, but they like how he applied himself to this muted palette.

With April, they love the asymmetry. They don't think it's really activewear. But they think it's pretty. I'm sorry, I just don't like these.

Everyone likes Andy's stuff. He really did rally from last week's hideous effort. Based on their comments, he's going to win, for sure.

Bottom 3. The judges think Michael C. needs to learn that over-sized doesn't = simple & easy. The judges think Christopher needs to learn not to make cheap clothes and to design with love. The judges think Gretchen needs to remember how to style and that she should learn to take some effing criticism.

So April is safe and then Andy wins. All his looks can be bought on amazon now. He's very happy about it. Mondo is also safe. Then Gretchen is safe, but she gets a parting shot from Heidi which will only fuel Gretchen's belief that Heidi personally hates her. And then Michael C. is in and Christopher is out. I don't even think this was a tough call. Christopher seems like a lovely fellow, but these three looks were just not good at all. He shares a tender hug with Mondo in the waiting area that again speaks to some unshown deep friendship between them. Christopher is sad he was so close to the end but didn't make it to Fashion week. Still he's happy with all he accomplished on the show. His elimination also means his replacement model Ian (sp?) will also most likely get eliminated before the next challenge. This was a rough couple days for her.

Next week: Sassy returns with recaps at HuffPo! Mayor Mike shows up to talk to the designers - most likely sharing with them the dangers of how sugar drinks leading to obesity! Gretchen weighs the benefits of imploding versus exploding right in front of our eyes, and we ultimately which of the remaining designers will head off to Fashion Week! Thanks for reading!

One Month to the 2010 ING NYC Marathon!

(This is me running my latest half-marathon through Central Park last weekend. I finished strong! Bring on the 26.2!)

Thursday marked the one month mark to this year's NYC Marathon. It will be my third consecutive year running it. I'm very much looking forward to it. Honestly, over the summer it was very hard to find the time and motivation to get really intense about marathon training. Time was an issue as I was focused in my off-work hours on my play and motivation was an issue because it was the hottest, most humid summer ever. Who wanted to move at all for the months of July and August?

But thankfully in the past two weeks, things have improved. The cool fall air has finally settled in, and with it so has my renewed determination to run faster and stronger. I'll post more info about what race group I'm in and how you can track me online as the race gets closer. You can also join my FB group that's now titled "Run Owen Run! Rock that 2010 ING NYC Marathon! Part III - Dream Warriors!" I'll send info about Race Day through that group as well. (I was very pleased to name this year's race after my favorite movie sequel - Nightmare on Elm Street 3.)

If you're in NYC on Sunday Nov. 7th, you should come out and support all the runners in person. The NYC Marathon is an amazing New York tradition and the spectator support throughout the race gives all of us runners such a boost. It's simply incredible. I hope to see you on the course!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Project Runway Season 8, Episode 11 - A Prelude

(For so many of these season 8 contestants, one day they were in, and the next, they were auf'ed.)

My girl Sassy is off on a trip to Rome. I'm so happy for her. I was actually on my own trip to Rome a year ago this weekend, so I know it's a lovely time to visit. I hope she has a fantastic time!! The Colosseo! The Pantheon! The Gelati! The wine! Omigosh, I wanna go back so badly.

But back to the task at hand. Roman Holidays are great, but the Project Runway season pauses for no world traveller, so I will be recapping this week's installment in Sassy's place. She does such a great job at HuffPo and I don't have the screenshot/photoshop abilities she possesses but I'll try to keep it entertaining. Since the show is 90 minutes long this season and recapping it always takes forever, I figured I'd take a moment right now to express my feelings about the season so far, so as not to get bogged down in it tomorrow night.

I like this season. I think it's the most successful season since the show moved to Lifetime. The challenges are a bit uninspired, the judging has been a little bizarre (and mean), and if it wasn't clear just watching that the producers don't have a clear vision of what they want to do, Tim Gunn's FB vlogs have filled in all the blanks regarding their ineptitude. Still, even with all that, I think they cast this season well. The 90 minute runtime broke the editors out of their rigid formula of only showing you footage from the top 3/bottom 3 designers making the outcome of each episode less predictable. Also, we got to see more personality from the designers away from their designs with the extra time. Casanova was an amazing diva. Ivy was a great bitch. Lots of others were chill and interesting. Gretchen has developed into an interesting quasi-villain, while Mondo went from being a quiet uncomfortable loner, to an extremely vibrant and enjoyable front runner to win the whole season. There's been arc for the designers this season which has been lacking the few previous times around. So hooray for all that.

Getting back to Mondo for a second, I was extremely moved by his admission last week that he was HIV+. For the record, I choose to believe that the producers did NOT know for sure about his HIV status until he disclosed it on the runway. Since all of Mondo's interviews took place in the same outfit, I believe he filmed all of them after the runway segment was filmed. Mondo is not the first HIV+ contestant in P.Runway history, and I don't think they would've put him in a situation where he felt pressured to publicly reveal a private medical condition like that just for drama. So here's what I believe happened: the producers wanted meaningful family stories connected to the designs, knowing they'd bring in the families to spur the waterworks. They expected the designers to supply the backstory for their textile images, and initially Mondo was evasive with them about what it was. They questioned the other designers about it, but they didn't know much either. This only made the producers more determined to find out and so they prolly urged the judges to get Mondo to talk about it since everyone had these big stories. and Mondo wasn't sharing. The judges were also probably expecting a story to help in their evaluation of the designs success in the challenge. So then once he revealed what it was, they shot interviews with him about everything to provide extra context for what was going on with him, and then cut those interviews into the footage before the revelation so that the audience was aware of what was going on the whole time.

And having said all that, regardless of when they knew or didn't know, Mondo's design clearly rocked and he rightly won for the third time in a row. It was overall a very lovely episode. This week I get handed the "Heidi is the Client" episode and nobody looks happy about having to deal with her as a customer. I don't really like when they include Heidi in the challenges, I think she should stay out of the workroom. So we'll see what happens. There seem to be allegations of cheating this week if the promos are to be believed (and they almost always should not be) so that should up the drama. My picks for Final 3 are Mondo, Gretchen and April so we'll see if the dream stays alive for Final 5.

See you after the runway, folks!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Amazing Race 17. That's right. Seven-effing-teen!

(On The Run Again!)

I can't believe there have been so many seasons of Amazing Race. Hard to believe looking at the number 17 in the title that in its earlier years, the show was under constant threat of cancellation Winning the Emmy for reality competition series again and again and again was the only thing that really saved it. Its first loss ever in that category was this year (to Top Chef) and for once TAR really didn't deserve to win. The challenges and the racers had grown a bit stale. I still loved watching the show last year, it just could've tried harder to really be Amazing.

This season, however, is off to a good start. I've enjoyed the pace and challenges of the first two episodes. Usually at the beginning of the season I do a review of all the teams and who I think will be in the top and bottom of the pack. Two seasons ago, i guessed all 5 final teams correctly. Last season, I didn't guess even one correctly. I was ashamed, and it since has shaken my confidence in predicting. This year, I just can't tell. Part of the problem is that the geniuses in central casting decided to have 4 almost identical "newly dating" couples on this season's Race. "Newly dating" is the lamest relationship in Race History. I've spoken out against it on the blog before. It's not that this type of team never wins the race, but you add the stress from constant traveling and not sleeping to their already unstable relationship bond, and they usually get so sick of each other and us of them by the end of the race that they wind up immediately separating and us not caring about them at all. I don't like watching people whine at each other until they split up. It's not entertaining to me in the least. Don't go on the race to test if you're meant to be together. If you're looking for the Race to answer that question, you ain't meant to be together.

Having said all that, I think there are a few strong contenders in the mix this season that could become TAR's first all-female winning team. It's never happened before, but the deck seems stacked so that at least one of them makes it all the way this time. There were 4 all female teams this year, and though one has already been eliminated, the others look strong. Here's a run down.

Brook and Claire


What's their Deal?: Friends and home shopping hosts.
Team Nickname: The Mellon Ballers
Why They Could Take It: In the first leg, Claire got hit in the face with a watermelon. That was launched from her own giant slingshot in close range. And then she just kept on going, behind Brook's awesome support, ultimately finishing fourth for the leg. Then these ladies finished first in the second leg! There's no question these two mean business. They seem to have a very stabilizing bond, a competitive nature, and an ability to not get lost while driving. That's a big recipe for success in this game. Plus their ability to sell things to the masses will help them in challenges where they need support from the locals. A big added bonus, methinks.

Katie and Rachel
What's their Deal?: They are friends & beach volleyball partners. And purdy.
Team Nickname: Sweet Volley High
Why They Could Take It: Athletes usually have good Race endurance are sometimes more accustomed to constant travel than your average racer. These ladies know each others strengths and weaknesses and know how to compensate as a team. They are competitive and physically strong, and have so far finished well, so if they avoid silly mistakes they should advance through the early legs pretty swiftly.

Nat and Kat



What's Their Deal?: They are doctors and best friends.
Team Nickname: Nat 'N Kat (you can't beat the natural rhyming)
Why They Could Take it: They were second in the first leg, and despite some roadblock issues in the second, they ultimately floored past a couple teams right at the end to pull themselves out of danger. That's a good skill to have. Also, if years of watching medical drams on TV has taught me anything it's that Docs can stay awake during very long shifts and be ready and alert during tense situations. This skill should serve them well. Plus they seem like really nice smart women and are also very athletic to boot. They just can't afford to get passive. But otherwise they have the abilities to go all the way.

So good luck, Racers! The world is waiting! I hope one of you three teams makes it to Phil and the Big Finish Line first! I'll be cheering for you!