Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deep Sigh

There was a kerfuffle about my superfantastic job yesterday. You may recall that I have been in my post as a "temporary", only awaiting our "HR" department to post the position so I can apply for it permanently. Now, all along both MAB and I have known that there's a chance that I won't be able to apply. For why? you ask. Because in government jobs Veterans are always given priority. If there is a veteran out there possessed of all the same qualifications as myself, MAB would have to give serious consideration to the Veteran. Sure, most days we don't see that as likely but, in case you hadn't heard, the economy is bad so it often happens that so many Vets apply for a position that the applications of regular folks don't even see the light of day. Point is, we know that's a possibility. But what we also know is that until MAB has a permanent position to fill, she has to have someone in that post. And that someone is me.

It's all very complicated and stoopid but the aforementioned kerfuffle had to do with my temporary appointment ending on the 30th. And since the position hasn't posted yet ("HR" has been very busy; and to be fair, they've only known the position needed to post since May 2008. (Now you know why "HR" is in very snarky quotation marks)). So all a sudden I was unemployed as of tomorrow.

MAB was having none of it. She was in a 2 hour meeting yesterday and when she came back she had scored for me a 60 day extension and a promotion. And the promotion is the title and grade level of the job I seek. Meaning that when I apply I not only have 1 year of special experience in the position, but all the little numbers and strokes on the posted position will match the little numbers and strokes on my application. (Government is fond of little numbers and strokes). She also received assurances the job would post in plenty of time before the end of November.

Those of you of the praying persuasion are hereby formally encouraged to offer up prayers that when the time comes little Rainey will show up on the cert (govmint speak), thus giving her a fair shot at getting the position. Those of you of the naked pagan dance persuasion are encouraged to do the same.

I can't imagine not doing this job, which is as much a ministry of caring and compassion as it is anything else. If there is a Vet out there who can take it from me, so be it. (And I'd like to shake his/her hand before I go). But I was very sad to think I could be brought low by a classic government SNAFU and I'm very happy that MAB has the guts to wade into such a scenario and come out victorious.

Pie for everyone.

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Monday, September 28, 2009


Today I will take pole in hand and proceed to walk a tight rope. There is a shark in the pool below, just one shark, but it's a mean one. However, should I successfully navigate the walk, there is pie on the other side.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Grab Your Popcorn and Red Vines

As we begin Ra'mon opines that the absence of Rehab Johnny has made everyone realize that the competition is now more "serious". True that. We are at the point where the merest lapse in judgement or one crooked hem could be the undoing of an otherwise talented designer. Think about it. We have a lot of folks who have never been within sniffing distance of the bottom 3. The competition is strong and the standards will be higher and higher with each passing week.

Off we go to a Hollywood sound stage to meet Tim and Collier Strong (who for those of you not familiar to the Runway is some Loreal Paris makeup dude who bugs me very much and who has a face that The Neighbor believes should be sanded). Inside the dreaded velvet bag are genres of film. The designers get to pick one and then create a character who lives in that genre and design a look for her. Fun challenge, no?

Turns out Ra'mon is a huge sci-fi geek and Louise, shockingly, picks film noir. Epperson ends up stuck with "Western" and he's not so happy about that but whatcha gonna do? The designers have 30 minutes to sketch, $150 to spend and 1 day (ouch) to complete. Tim encourages the designers to think about their look, to ask "who is she...what does she do...why is she wearing what she's wearing"?

Oooh! Hubba Hubba Alert! Logan casually informs us that he has "connected" with Carol Hannah and she is all effusive about the fact that their work tables are next to each other and that he's "hot". Hmmm. Carol Hannah seems a little distracted. Ladies and gentleman, I believe, we have what MAB calls a "showmance".

Meanwhile, Nicholas makes me want to puke. He's so prissy and bitchy and full of his damn self.

Irina, it appears, is rather full of herself as well, but with her it's coming off a little more as confidence rather than arrogance. She is so pleased with the direction she's going that she thinks she could survive this challenge without the immunity she won last week.

Epperson has a breakthrough. He was pouty because he wanted "period" for his genre but he just realized that "Western" IS a period.

Gordana is going with a 20's inspired look and says something about how that was the period when "the womens started to get more emancipated" so that was charming and Louise can't find her bobbin.

Nicholas starts trash talking Louise and what he perceives as her lack of POV, which is rich coming from Mr. Bottom 3 guy who, btw, reminds me of the time I found maggots on the inside of my garbage can lid and had to douse it with bleach. (shiver)

Highlights of The Gunn's Walk Around

He is "seduced" by Epperson's ruffles, declares that Ra'mon's look will either be "sublime or a big, hot mess", that "subtlety and nuance" are Louise's strength but that doesn't necessarily give one something that is "show worthy" and encourages Nicholas to "exaggerate" the alien-in-white thing he's doing.

Before departing on the slim, shimmering cloud upon which he floats, The Gunn urges the designers to "look around the room; assess where your work is in relation to others".

Then there was the complete BS "design your makeup" thing with Collier that always irritates me because it's all him telling the designers what do do and making "strong eyes" and "accentuating" whatevers and I want The Neighbor to fast forward through it but she's a purist.

Ra'mon has dyed his fabric, which comes out this fabulous mottled green but inexplicably, by the time he has sewn the garment it just looks like Kermit the Frog gone wrong. It's all one color and he's made a catsuit with some schtuff on it and it's horrible. Nicholas almost loses it a bunch of times because he's a drama queen and I frakking lose it whenever I see his maggoty priss face.

As we finish up The Gunn makes a final workroom visit to intone, like the voice of God, "Work like there's no tomorrow because for one of you there won't be". Scramble, scramble.

The Runway

We have 3 guest judges, again, confirming my suspicions that Nina and Kors are dead.

Irina is lucky she has immunity. Her dress has no "wow" factor at all and is frankly a big "meh". Carol Hannah, on the other hand, elicits a "Whoa!" with her fabulous goth-y thing. Shirin has made a saloon girl costume, which would be excellent for Halloween but does nothing for us. We like Christopher's ruffly sleeveless Victorian thing with many poufs and fluffs. Grudgingly, we deem Nicholas' look "pretty" but what stands out are the hair & makeup. Althea has made a gorgeous film noir-y ensemble that I would totally wear. The Neighbor thinks Ra'mon's look is "fun" but I think it is a mess. It might have been a "wow" on the first season of the first "Star Trek" but no self-respecting alien would really wear that. We agree with Louise, whose own assessment of her dress is that it is "ok". Eppperson, meanwhile, has done something far more persuasive with his homage to the Western. It's a look that MAB says is "couture". Gordana's dress is strictly '20s...there's no innovation here but it is spectacularly well-crafted. Logan's slim black leather thing is a little punk and mostly OK.

The judges tell Gordana that they appreciate the detail in her garment but lament the lack of "specialness". They fall all over themselves with their delight at Nicholas' story about the beautiful evil ice queen who is plotting the destruction of the world and are gaga about the hair and makeup, and, oh, yeah, the white dress would "read well" on the screen (really?). All I can think is that a) this is NOT Project Makeup Chair nor 2) SciFi Theater. They are distracted by story and makeup and not judging the dress, which is not nearly as much a standout as some others. Whatev. Louise tells the story of an aspiring actress who sports a look that is a "40s version of a flapper" and the judges snore. "Snoozefest, messy, not special, not strong, no style"....ouch. MAB is annoyed that she comes back with a "I'm just glad to be here to hear your critique" response. "It's lame," she says. And while Louise may be playing it safe (having learned from last year's Kenley that you win no friends arguing with the judges), you also can't defend the indefensible. The judges rave about Christopher's dress - the "elegant neck" and fantastic back but I do want to slap him when he tells his story about a vampire in love with a human. Really? Wow, Christopher, there's a concept that Hollywood hasn't latched onto yet. What? Was there a fourteen year old reading Twilight backstage? Ra'mon makes things worse by telling the story of a reptile alien "thirsty for the flesh of men", which does nothing to distract the judges from their assessment that the garment is "shoddily made", "a hot green mess" and that he's "sabotaged himself with leather". Epperson garners immense praise for "thinking outside the box", creating a look that has "bravado" and "contemporary value" and the dude judge says, "Matar can manage my farm anytime".

So the bottom 3 are Louise (not show stopping), Gordana (who crafted a beautiful, classic piece. And yes, it is not at all innovative but if she were designing for a movie about the '20s you'd so want that dress in it) and Ra'mon. Now, we're thinking that you can't auf Louise yet because this is her first time in the bottom and while both Gordana and Ra'mon have been there before, you simply can't auf something as beautifully made as Gordana's dress when it's standing next to something that has been consistently described as a "hot mess" throughout the show. And we pick Christopher for the win.

But - eeewww- Maggot Boy wins because the judges were "blown away" by his "memorable and exquisite" dress (What. EVER.)

That makes 2 weeks running that Christopher has been denied. And while Louise did bore the judges to death, Ra'mon was rightfully auf'ed for "missing the mark" and "execution that was unacceptable".

We have to endure yet another soliloquy by Maggot Boy, about how he's "here to win and nothing is going to stop me". Where's my bottle of bleach?


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Surprised by Joy

We count age in funny ways. An infant is measured in days, then weeks, then months. Turning 1 is a big deal. Actually, when you're a kid, every birthday is a big deal. I still remember being just gobsmacked when I turned 10, walking around thinking "I'm a decade old" and feeling the weight, in a good way, of such a momentous achievement. But it starts to slow down. 16 is a big deal because you can drive. 18 because you can vote. 21 because you can legally buy beer. And then it slows down even more. It becomes largely about the 0 birthdays. The inbetween time, not so much. Turning 50 was, you'll recall, a big deal, with a 2 day party and a party dress and people like JP flying in from all over to celebrate. And it was an excellent celebration.

But as a rule, I don't go into a birthday with huge expectations. I like my birthday and it always feels special, but I don't care that there be any fuss. I count on a card from ChouChou (who's very faithful that way) and the 8:05am call from Dame Judi (equally faithful). I counted on my birthday dinner of weinerschnizel and spaetzle from The Spouse, until Seattle became too politically correct and it became impossible to find veal cutlets anywhere. So now I count on my birthday dinner of chicken parmesan. But that's all. I don't need cards and presents and emails.

So I was delightfully surprised by yesterday. The flow of fun messages on Facebook began early in the day. Then I got to work and MAB presented me with a breakfast of (unbelievably delicious) quiche Lorraine and a pear tart, with fresh coffee. Then she gave me a cute joke gift, followed by the most spectacular pair of rainboots you ever saw. (So spectacular that they will demand their own post, as soon as I get the picture my friend Kim took of me wearing them). There was a gift from my favorite social worker & cards from my favorite house guests. My favorite volunteer came by with Jonas Brother balloons. Kim gave me a superfantastic wine glass that is really more art than dishware. And at 2 o'clock we had pie.

At home I got a delightful phone call from my Poodle, The Neighbor made me a delicious celebratory cocktail and The Spouse delivered with the chicken parm.

It was a very fun day, all the more so because I didn't expect it. And it is, let's face it, just a very nice thing to be celebrated by your friends, to be shown that it matters to others that you were born. And it made me feel, yet again, extremely grateful for all the amazing people who come into my life and stay awhile.

Sometimes I feel so blessed I don't even know what to do with myself. Thank you God, for my amazing friends. Thank you, amazing friends, for your love.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Protect Insurance Companies PSA

Reason #83 Why I'm No Longer a Size 4

Yesterday I was leafing through a food magazine, looking at recipes and "mmming" a lot. The recipes that received the most "mmmms" all had 3 things in common:

1) butter
2) cream
3) cheese

What do you make of that?


Monday, September 21, 2009

We Had Apple Pie, Not Cake

Forgive me if I've mentioned this before but The Spouse and I had a very brief courtship. We'd only been dating about 3 months when he asked me to marry him and I said yes. He'd been out of town part of the time we were courting so we hadn't even introduced each other to most of our friends or any of our family when he put the ring on my finger.

We had a nine month engagement. Partly to prove that the rapidity of our commitment had nothing to do with anything except wanting to get married.

We were pretty sure that one of the amusements of our wedding reception was people making book on how long we'd last.

Who had 18 years?

HA! See? It was meant to be, people.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Extra! Extra! Read All About It!

[Faithful readers may have noticed that MAB has been conspicuously absent from the PR proceedings this season. Mostly this is because she lives north of the city limits and she has a little dog and she's divorcing her husband so there's no one to care for the little dog after a long day at work so she goes home to take care of the little dog and then it's too far to drive back to The Neighbor's. But this week she's not here because she's in rehab. (She told me to tell you that).]

Carol Hannah starts this week's show where I left off last week's blog; having whittled our way down to a fairly strong contingent, the reality that someone still has to go home each week is beginning to take on a "scary" aspect for the survivors. Except, as we'll quickly see, we actually are not yet left with the strongest designers. Got ourselves a few more dregs to be done with first.

Rehab Johnny (ahem, see above) declares that he hates being in the bottom 3 but it's making him more focused because he just hates that position.

The claws are finally starting to come out on some of the designers. Nicholas - who we hate - is particularly annoying and it's not just because he is sooooooo bitchy about the other designers or soooooooo really hateful when it comes to Rehab Johnny or that he still hasn't done anything about his horrible haircut. No, it's because he has an accent. A fakey, I-was-born-in-Russia-and-came-to-America-as-a-young-boy accent. It's just about as affected as when Madonna pretends she's British. I've never noticed it before....perhaps because we've been mercifully spared but this episode was kinda all Nicholas all the time and WOW did I get tired of him.

Defying the first law of dressing for television, Heidi comes out in a black & white stripped top and black slacks. The designers are going on a field trip with Tim "where all the answers will be in black and white". Then Heidi does this little fake horror scream thing with her hands in front of her face and hello? Girlfriend is wearing black nail polish. Way to work the theme, Heidi.Off they toddle to the LA Times where Tim introduces the designers to Booth Moore, LA Times fashion critic, who gives a little speech about how "fashion is news". "She's my size!" coos The Neighbor. Actually, she's bigger than The Neighbor. But how refreshing to see a Talbots sized woman on PR! So the challenge, obviously, is to use pages of newspaper to create a look. There are 5 pallets of paper, different sections, waiting to be grabbed up in 3 minutes.

Nicholas, flummoxed, declares he is "speechless". Oh, that he really were.

Like crazy people, the designers start grabbing tons of paper, except for Irina who wonders at this with a "your dressing a human, not an elephant" but I guess they want to make sure they have plenty of material. Back at the workroom, Tim tells them they can use muslin for the infrastructure but it can't show. Then he gives them a brief history of paper clothing and I suddenly flashback to how McCall's Magazine used to have a paper doll named Betsy on the back page of each issue. There was a little story and 2 corresponding outfits to cut out. I just loved Betsy McCall).

We begin work. Althea is still really adorable but I just realized that she's somewhat inarticulate, in a Sarah Palin sort of way. Nicholas is still flummoxed and sure he's going home this week. Fingers crossed. Irina, it turns out, provides her own sound effects while working and never seems to shut up, which annoys the other designers. Nicholas is bitchy about that. Rehab Johnny is working on "large scale origami" with paper cranes that will look like they are holding up the dress. Nicholas is bitchy.

The Neighbor comes in with an early prediction: Rehab will be out.

Ra'mon is all excited about the project, citing "pattern, cubism and origami" as his influences. Louise is working on a dress made from headlines. Gordana is working on two outfits, one of which is a sheath that declares "time to change" but when he comes through for the Walk
Around, The Gunn tells her to eschew the obvious political statements and focus on her stronger design.

Althea is disappointed with the direction her garment is taking and Tim tells her to look at the paper upside down. Irina has made a stiff dress and thinks she needs to make a rain coat instead. Rehab, overwhelmed by his failure to execute anything coherent, is further defeated when Tim declares "I'm woeful - this looks like a craft project gone awry". Rehab tries to explain about the birds holding up the dress and Tim says, "It looks like the birds attacked the dress". (Images of Tippi Hedren). Nicholas hears this and is both smug and, shockingly, bitchy.

The Gunn tells Nicholas he's on "a good trajectory" and is encouraging to Christopher, who wants to create "a show stopper". At the end of the Walk Around Tim tells the designers that he is "wowed and inspired" and urges them to keep it up.

Nicholas blathers on about how when he landed on our shores he was in the East Village and all inspired by the punk movement so he's making a "modern '90's version" of a punk look. Shall we tell him this is the '00s?

Rehab's self-doubting comes crashing in after Tim's assessment so he scraps the whole bloody thing and starts again. Sort of. He tells the other designers that a steamer ruined his garment (Nicholas is shocked, since he knows what really went down) and then Rehab muddles around with some paper but mostly just works the crossword puzzle. The other designers comment on his lack of passion.

Irina is working on her "risky" coat, doing an ever so cool ruffle thing on the lapel with balled up paper.

The next day Tim takes a cursory look at the garments and worries that the designers have all become a little less inspired. He urges them to "rally" as they complete their looks and prep their models. While Carol Hannah tries to remove her dress from her mannequin, Althea and Nicholas are being bitchy about Irina. (This is no surprise coming from Rasputin Nicholas but come on now, Althea is supposed to be sweet). Rehab and Nicholas are being bitchy about each other. No love lost there, I'm afraid.

Nina and Kors must be at rehab with MAB because once again we have all guest judges: Tommy Hilfiger, Zoe Glassner and Eva Longoria Parker.

The Runway

Logan has an Asian inspired dress with an absolutely gifted cut. Nicholas' dress elicits a big fat "no". Christopher, on the other hand, gets a big "wow" with his confection of a gown. The full skirt looks like feathers. Ra'mon's ensemble is gorgeous. Epperson's look is ok, a bit too kimono- like for my taste. Rehab's mess is only slightly better than the crap he put in the recycling bin. Gordana gets a "cute" from us but we do not like Carol Hannah's thing much and Shirin's is too obviously origami and does not move. Irina's coat is way, way cool and Althea's dress gets another "wow". We're split on Louise's dress. The Neighb doesn't like it at all, I like everything but the bulbous weird collar-y thing.

The top 3 are Althea (Eva loves that it "accentuates the bum" and Zoe calls it "exquisite"), Irina ("blown away", "new", "Coco Chanel meets" every other major couture designer of the 20th century) and Christopher ('love that the skirt looks like feathers and the bodice like armor, "it's a 'wow', says Hilfiger). The bottom 3 are Gordana ("too safe"), Rehab Johnny ("it looks like she's going to work", says Heidi. And she doesn't mean to her fancy job as President of a bank) and
Nicholas (Hilfiger says it's "not punk" and Zoe thinks it looks like "insects").

In trying to justify his look Rehab tells the a-steamer-ate-my-homework story and Nicholas totally throws him under the bus and we really hate how he did it but Rehab was being completely disingenuous; he needed to be called out but it sucked that it had to come from the
bitchiest man on the planet.

We hope Nicholas will lose because we hate him but we know it'll be Johnny. We pick Irina for the win. Sure enough, she gets the prize for being "original" and "taking a risk that paid off".

While Heidi tells Nicholas that he had an idea that "didn't get there" and was "too arts & crafts", it was Rehab for the auf for a look that was "lost and empty".

The big surprise of the night came backstage. When Tim told Rehab to go to the workroom he could barely look him in the eye and as soon as he was gone declared himself "incredulous at the piece of fiction" Rehab spun on the runway. I've never seen Tim so outraged. Unfortunately, the moment was spoiled by bitchy Nicholas getting all self-righteous and saying "Ooh, me either....I just couldn't take it any more and had to say something". Whatev, suck up.

The good news? I don't for a minute believe he has the chops to hold his own against some of the very impressive talent still left. He's gonna be the next to go and good freaking riddance.

(photos courtesy of mylifetime.com via Blogging Project Runway)


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How Come My Pictures are So Tiny?

I can't speak for where you live but believe me when I say that September is absolutely THE most glorious month in Seattle. The evenings are cool, sometimes cool enough that you get a little misty fog in the morning but the days are almost all bright and crisp and sunny. Perfect.

It was perfect last week when we had our party for the Fisher House.

See? (That's me being paparrazi).

And it was beautiful on Sunday when Kiki was baptized. Here's a little tiny photo album:

Most babies fuss (or even scream bloody murder) when they are baptized. Not Kiki. She plopped herself down in the font and looked around like, "Alrighty then, let's do this!"

I love that the photographer caught this moment...just there Father is telling Papa "She's right at home". Significant use of language, wouldn't you say?

This is godmom waiting on the altar with the light:
Here's all the gang on the steps of the Cathedral after Mass:
Here's Kiki with The Child, enjoying one of her cupcakes:

And here she is making many crumbs for The Dog to eat later:
What's that? You wanted to see the official portrait? Oh. OK.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

If This Was on a Post-it It Would be One of the Little Square Ones. In Pink.

Busy, busy weekend. In fact, today I will be tempted, when people ask "How was your weekend?" to say, "What weekend"?

It was my god-daughter Kiki's baptism weekend. That meant a seminar in the morning. Then Kiki's mom, Suzanne, and I went and got our toes did. Then I took her to a salon to get her bangs did. Then I took her home. Then I got home at 4 and had to borrow champagn-ya flutes from The Neighbor and start cooking and oh, yeah, clean my house and there were 2 separate trips to the grocery store and we didn't eat dinner until 10pm (and aren't I just very thankful for a) a patient family and 2) Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken in a bag).

Then I got up early on Sunday to see if I could get the house a little cleaner, which didn't go exactly as I'd hoped but I also reached that point where you go "Screw 'em" in reference to anyone who may be attending the party who may care strongly about cleanliness levels and then it was off to church for the sacrament (which was soooo lovely) and then back to the house for a party (which was very fine and no one said a thing about the dust) and by the time it was all over all I could do was sit in front of my computer for a few hours and play Sims2 until The Spouse served a glorious bistro dinner of Steak au Poivre and pomme frittes.

And now I just looked at the clock and have to be at work in 35 minutes and since 10 of those are spent driving I'd better go, huh?

This is my beautiful god-daughter at the party yesterday.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

"Please Use the Macy's Accessory Wall Thoughtfully"

The show begins with a shirtless Logan making everyone in the boys' apartment (and The Neighbor's living room) hot. The girls are all being very supportive and encouraging of each other. (Which is a very nice thing to see, thankyouverymuch).

Heidi informs the designers that Tim is in the workroom with "13 women who know exactly what they want" and gives them the injunction that those women better be made happy. Speculation abounds. Bridezillas? Prom queens? Homeless people?

Temporary relief floods their design-y little souls when they walk in to encounter their own models. Tim tells them that the girls are going to be attending an "industry event" and need a look that will "stand out, show their impeccable style" and allow them to demonstrate that they can "sell a look".

We caucus. The models, we learn, have definite ideas but not all of them are possessed of inherent good taste. They all pretty much want something pretty and a little sexy and "unique" and yada yada yada. The big fun is Epperson's model, who has the most gorgeous head of red hair south of my friend Tanya.


But model girlfriend hasn't got a cohesive notion about what she wants. Words like "sexy", "not too sexy", "tiger", "classic" and "punk" are all bandied about. Epperson needs an aspirin.

Off to Mood with $100. Epperson can't bring himself to use orange fabric (good for him) even though his model likes it and The Gunn counsels "You are the designer, she's the client; you can only address her needs as well as you can". Which turns out to be somewhat prophetic because, as we shall see, the designers who have the easiest time are those who take into account what their model said but trust their own designer instincts about what will work and what won't.

Perhaps the most difficult part of this challenge is the time factor. They have but one day to create the look and even the sewiest of the designers are challenged by having to drape, cut, sew and fit a garment in 12 hours.

During the Walkaround, sweeter-than-cotton-candy Althea calls a smoking jacket a "cigarette jacket" (tee) and even though what she has accomplished is mostly yet in pieces and bits, Tim tells her that her concept has huge "wow factor potential".

The Gunn is as confused as Epperson by the punk-tiger-cocktail dress madness that is the "client's" idea but he likes what Ep is doing. (A sheathy brown dress with twisted bits of fabric and other details. Very nice).

The Gunn tells Q that her outfit looks like the model "has been rolling around in bed". When Logan tells Tim that he's worried that his dress has the look of a "Smurf prom dress" The Gunn declares "Never use those words again!" Logan is also having issues working with the black lace that he's trying to incorporate and The Gunn agrees that Logan "has a conundrum".

Epperson misses his family veryvery much and is sweet when he's on the phone with his little rasta fam. They use the word "love" a lot and when he cries I begin to forgive him for his boorish behavior last week. (No, Joe Wilson, that won't work for you).

As we head into the runway show most of the designers are scrambling and more than a few (and not just Rehab Johnny) are worrying about whether or not enough of their own POV is present in their garment. We get a little bit of cattiness from various and sundry about the other looks. Although I gotta say, with the exception of Nicholas, who we still don't like, most of these designers seem pretty drama-free. For the runway show Logan dresses in tight silver pants and matching silver sneakers, which he admits is an effort to distract Heidi from his dress. ("Just take off your shirt!" we shout).

For the runway we have what I believe to be a first: all guest judges. Apparently whatever ate Michael Kors has now attacked Nina. The judges are people named Marc, Zoe and Jennifer and I've never heard of any of them but I already don't like Jennifer because she is a stylist for Angelina Jolie and Marc scares us. He looks like a pretty Tom Petty and there is something so very wrong about that. He creeps us out.

Most of the looks do not suck. Some of them are quite pretty. Some of them are a little boring considering the impending event to which they will be worn. But the bottom 3 are pretty clear and we concur that Q, Rehab Johnny and Logan have the weakest looks. The top 3 come as a little bit of a surprise to us because we were not fans of Carol Hannah's look but the judges loved it. Shows what we know. They found her dress to be "beautifully executed, really sophisticated" etc. etc. and The Neighbor and I are forced to reconsider our views that the bottom half of the dress looks like seaweed and the "movement" the judges adore reminds us of a fish tail. Nah. We still don't like it much.

The operative word in Logan's critique is "prom" but the judges are agreed that he's very cute and they love his pants and sneakers. (HA! You can distract the judges with bright, shiny objects).

The only negative with Epperson's dress is that Heidi has serious Victoria's Secret flashback issues with the "placement" of the model's boobs. ("They should be perky!")

The scathing critique for Rehab Johnny is that "the world doesn't need another dress like this". Heidi thinks it's bridesmaid-y and they all agree it's "too wearable". (That's a first). Rehab is very appreciative of their input and tells them he will use their advice "going forward". Which is a clever move, I think, because it gently proves his intention to continue to move forward. (Whether he has the chops to do so, I'm not sure).

The harshest feedback is delivered to Q, who abandoned all attempt at color and created a (not horrible but very basic) little black dress. She's accused of robbing her model of "all her youth" and the Jen person exclaims, "Why, with all the fabric choices in LA would you choose plain black...is that jersey?" This is funny, coming from someone dressed all in black. Heidi asks the model, Valerie, if she likes the dress. "Yes," she says, meekly. All-in-black Jen snarks, "That's why Valerie's not a designer. Thank God". Ouch.
It's pretty obvious during the judge's confab who will win and who will lose: they visibly shudder when talking about Q's too safe dress and are in raptures over Althea's 3 piece "breath of fresh air" ensemble. And sure enough, Althea is the winner for taking the suit to a new level.
Epperson and Carol Hannah are safe-ity safe. Then Johnny is safe and The Neighbor and I are chanting, "Please not Logan, please not Logan" but his sexy silveriness, if nothing else, keeps him safe and Q gets the "auf". Q is immediately gracious, telling Heidi this has been the "opportunity of a lifetime" and "a dream come true". She is equally vivacious and cute saying "bye bye" to the other designers. She tells us that she has always only ever wanted to be a designer and will keep going. And I suspect you'll one day find her fashion line at Walmart. And maybe one day she'll also learn that her name is spelled C-R-Y-S-T-A-L.
I'm not sure that the bottom 2 designers are an indication of who is most weak. In fact, The Neighbor and I are agreed that this is a pretty strong group of designers. I would enjoy seeing Nicholas go home soon because he still annoys me mightily but I think it's "game on" now. The weakest designers are gone. Rehab Johnny may end up shooting himself in the foot because his insecurities seem to get the better of him in most challenges and that could be his undoing. But separating the sheep from the goats going forward should make for some interesting television. Tune in next week.

(Photos courtesy of mylifetime.com. Except for the one of Tanya. Which I stole from her Facebook page. It's ok. I told her and everything).


Thursday, September 10, 2009


Today is a very important day. Today the VA Puget Sound Fisher House celebrates the first anniversary of opening. It also marks one year of working with the best boss a girl could possibly have.

Since we opened, the house has served over 700 families. 10% of those have been active duty. We have experienced joy and sorrow, some frustrations, a lot (A LOT) of laughter and some really good food. (I weighed less when I started this job, just saying).

I still can't always quite believe that every day I get to go to work and do something meaningful, something that contributes so profoundly to others. I can't always quite believe that I get to work in such a beautiful place, with such a wonderful team of people. I can't always quite believe that I have a boss who values my input, trusts my abilities and is always letting me explore new ways to make a contribution to the house. (And who also just cracks me up on a daily basis).

Want an example of how cool she is (besides the whole insisting-I-come-in-late-on-Friday-so-I-can-write-my-Project-Runway-recap thing?) We've had some guys stay in the house who used to be in show business. One of them, among his other credits, used to do the choreography for Bob Hope's shows. MAB used to take tap lessons so the boys wanted to get her back in her shoes. The last time they stayed we had some lessons. It all came back for MAB, of course. She put on her tippy tap shoes and went to town. I required more work, since all I ever learned was step-ball-change and that only on my right foot. By the time they checked out I had learned to do step-ball-change on my left foot, was working on step-shuffle-change AND, perhaps most importantly, learned how to do a jazz square. We promised the boys that we'd practice and be ready for them when they came back in October. Which we've been doing.

So on Tuesday I came to work and MAB had a present for me. She handed me a pretty gift bag, glee in her eyes, and I opened up the bag to find....wait for it....tap shoes. She's seen them at a garage sale and frantically called The Child to find out what shoe size I wore. Happily, they were the right size.

So now we both have tap shoes. And now we're working on a routine, sort of a "typical day at the office" in tap dancing.

Ever have a boss who did stuff like that?

Me either. And I've had some pretty great bosses.

So there it is. I am blessed beyond measure. And I get to wear a party dress to work.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ask Not

There was a time, long ago and back in the mists thereof, when I lived and died by my site meter. I checked it constantly and if it was up I was elated and if it fell I was all self-castigate-y and "how will I regain my audience" and such.

Then I got over it.

Then I pretty much forgot about it.

Then once, a few months back, on a whim I checked it and I was averaging 30 readers a day. Which, given that I have no ad-driven revenue and pretty much just do this for my own amusement seems like a lot, right? Except, of course, that I used to average more like, uh, 120 hits a day.

So then I get kind of depressed because I know that the whole not blogging daily thing hurts and all that but holy hell, really? 120 loyal readers and then, like 70% of them go away? (Is it 70%? Remember, I was an English major). Talk about abandonment issues.

Right, so I stop with the looking at the site meter thing again because really, who needs the aggravation?

Then the other day I checked it, after the "Recapalooza" on "Blogging Project Runway" because that used to always boost my numbers (like, double them) so I just wanted to see if that trend was holding. And it kinda was but more importantly, I saw that I was now averaging 70 hits a day. On non Project Runway days. And I thought to myself, "Hey! People are coming by again! See what a little effort can do?"

And then I thought about how yesterday the President of the United States of America addressed the youth of America to basically encourage them to exert some effort and take some responsibility and, you know, not just sit around waiting for good stuff to fall into their laps and then I thought, "It's almost like he's talking about blogging".

Know what else I thought about yesterday? I couldn't help wondering about the folks who were all kerfuffled about the unprecedented act (if you exclude Reagan and Bush I, who did it before him) of a President going on telly to address the youth of the nation. I was wondering if any of them gathered together, fire all up in their bellies, to watch the President's [incendiary, god-forsaken] speech (far from the listening ears of their children, mind). And sure, they were only subjecting themselves to the horrors of listening for 15 minutes to the wretched man (who they despise beyond all reason but not because he's black) so they could go out there with an "informed" opinion and rail to whatever microphone that was available afterwards. And I just wondered if, when they heard the POTUS make his remarks about personal responsibility, working hard and not making excuses while never once talking about any political issue or declaiming an agenda, at least one or two of 'em looked around and caught the eye of another parent and had the grace to feel foolish.

I think it is veryvery important that we all remember that "conservative" does not categorically mean "wingnut", anymore than being a Democrat makes a person a leftist (or even a liberal, for that matter). Our definitions have become very garbled and it has become entirely too easy for all of us to slap on big, sweeping general labels on those who disagree with us. I am surrounded every day by people who generally do not vote as I do but can count on one hand the number of them who are, by any accepted definition, "wingnuts". I think it would be a good thing if we all stepped back from the generalizations and more often use our powers of critical thinking.

Meanwhile, Iwanski delivers, once again:

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First Day of School

Well, it feels like it.

The Child started back over a week ago and already there was the snap in the air that makes you reach for a sweater and think that a nice beef daube would make an excellent dinner. But this morning I woke up to misty fog-like swirls in the air and no matter how many warm days we have left before the official start of autumn, it appears she is here.

I just read the President's back-to-school speech. I couldn't help thinking that someday, down the road, we're going to hear stories about successful people who mark that speech as they point when they got their academic crap together. I wish I'd heard a speech like that when I was in school.

The Labor Day weekend was composed of equal parts accomplishment and laziness. Now that it's over, I'm wishing I'd gotten just a wee bit more done. But that's what early risings are for, right? So I'm going to go pungle some bills before I have to wake up The Child. That way I can justify playing Sims2 when I get home from work. Because I'm back on the Sims kick. It's a good thing.


Friday, September 04, 2009

"Don't Forget Your Sunscreen"

We begin at The Neighbor's house, joined by guest judge, Nurse Jackie. MAB is MIA because she doesn't have anyone to watch her little dog. Pft.

One of the presumed advantages of PR moving from New York to California is that the designers get to go to the beach on a field trip. The actual advantage is that we get to see the impeccable and always right Tim Gunn in sunglasses & flip flops. Sure, he's still wearing a blazer and sure, he makes clear that the flip flops are "only at the beach" but come on. Pretty much the highlight of the show for me.

The challenge, appropriately, is to create a "fun and fashionable" surfwear look that clearly states the designers' POV and displays "impeccable craftsmanship". (The thud you heard was Mitchell's stomach falling to the floor). But there's more. This shall be a dreaded team challenge and upon that announcement designers variously buried their heads in their hands to moan and/or groan.

The team leaders pick their team mates and for some reason cute little Irina, who has done consistently nice work, is chosen last. You may recall from last season that the whole picking-last thing triggers my PTSD and dodgeball flashbacks so I may have missed some banter but I snapped right out of it when Mitchell, in reference to choosing Ra'mon for his team, said the truest thing any crap designer has ever said on PR: "I needed someone who could carry me". Hell to the yes on that, buddy boy.

The teams get 20 minutes to "caucus" with some conveniently displayed surfer chicks, which was amusing. Nicholas in particular was just befuddled by notions of "simple", "easy", "fresh" and patently refuses to consider anything to do with hoodies.

Ra'mon, meanwhile, is trembling from the weight of the bulls eye that Mitchell has affixed to his back and Q quickly comes to regret her decision to pair up with Epperson. Sure, he seems like a blissed out Rastamaan but he begins to annoy her almost immediately. He doesn't like her design, he doesn't like her fabrics, he doesn't like her execution and when he isn't actually sewing himself he is pick pick picking at Q. Unfortunately, Q doesn't pull the "I'm team captain" card and at least attempt to shut him up. At which point I have to wonder, "Have none of these people ever before seen an episode of 'Project Runway'"?

Nicholas loudly declares "no animal prints ever" (I agree with him there), Epperson needs a Tylenol and Mitchell snottily tells Ra'mon "In our relationship I can't always tell you you're perfect". Which is rich. Yes, Ra'mon is behaving a bit twitchy because he knows he's the stronger designer and the pressure is getting to him but considering that he is doing Mitchell a HUGE favor you'd think M would have the grace to be, uh, gracious.

There is, actually, quite a lot of bitchiness between and amongst the gays tonight and I decide that Nicholas is a very bad gay and someone should talk to him about his haircut.

With 3 hours left til the end of the first day The Gunn appears with a message from Heidi and the judges. The message is not a cheery "Meet us at Spago, the Lemon Drops are on us!". No. The designers now must create a second look, an avant garde piece that corresponds to the surfwear look. The only good news is that every team gets the night to think on it and another $200 to spend.

Because this is television and the belief is that the real drama lies in conflict and not in the power of the creative process, most of the designers are way under the radar this week. Shirin and Carol Hannah work along swimmingly (you'll pardon the pun), as do Rehab Johnny and Irina. Carol Hannah does get some bad news that her model has bailed on PR to take an Arby's commercial but CH takes it in stride.

This is the 3rd episode: time for the obligatory "Garnier-is-a-big-sponsor-so-we-are-going-to-have-a-hair-consultation-portion-of-the-show-and-pretend-that-everyone-really-cares-that-you-envision-your-model-with-a-look-that-is-fresh-but-not-too-fresh-and-edgy-but-not-too-edgy".

This is me during the hair consultations: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Gunn's Walk Around consists almost entirely of variations on the word "work": "work work work", "make it work", "you have a lot of work to do", "get to work". Seriously. It's like he's being paid by the 'work' now. He did tell Q & Epperson that their surf look was a "knock out" until they removed the wrappy skirt..."then all the sophistication went away". And frankly, at this point I'm terribly confused. I don't know a lot of surfers but I know a lot of snowboarders, which is essentially the same beast and I don't know a one of them who, when actually involved in their sport anyway, gives a rat's ass about sophistication. So I don't know, really, what the challenge is supposed to be looking like. If the designers are to be only inspired by beach-y themes and colors than why introduce the whole surfwear thing at all? Because trust, if you were wearing Q & Epperson's outfit and you went surfing you would HAVE to remove the skirt. And then you'd put it back on to go to Spago's and have a Lemon Drop.

Other highlights: Nicholas informs Tim that he & Gordana have decided to do a bathing suit out of macrame to which Tim responds "You sure have!" and The Gunn also doesn't understand the wet suit thing that Ra'mon is working on for the avant garde piece. Tim characterizes it as "a cartoon superhero meets a Greek goddess" and declares "Fundamentally, I don't get it".

Ra'mon decides on the spot to scrap the whole damn thing, grabs some neoprene, shoe polish and a lucky rabbit's foot and scrambles to create magic in the remaining 30 minutes. And what is Mitchell doing during all this? Ironing bits of a bathing suit, humming softly, being catty and counting ceiling tiles. (While Ra'mon and Mitchell are wringing their hands over what to do with their 2nd look, Nurse Jackie, deadpans "Set it on fire?")

Meanwhile, the tension between Q & Epperson continues to escalate and Q tells us that she's going to have no problem exposing Epperson on the runway. So, to answer my earlier question, clearly she hasn't watched PR because if she had she would know the first 2 rules of the Team Challenge:
1) The judges do not like it if teams cannot work out their differences and
b) If you are the team leader and the look sucks (particularly if the suckage owes to your failure at Rule #1), you will not win any points throwing your teammate under the bus. Even if he deserves it.

Guest judges Max Azria (love him) and Rachael Bilson (who?) join Heidi and Nina.

I will not describe the runway because this was one of those times when clearly I didn't understand what the judges were looking for and neither did anyone else, possibly including the judges. For why? Because the "safe teams" all had, imho, the best looks. Granted, I think there is a difference between avant garde and haute couture and perhaps some of the very lovely things that came down the runway were deemed only "safe" because of that distinction but frankly my head was damn near spinning when it emerged that one of the top teams was Mitchell and Ra'mon.

So let's just cut to the chase, shall we? All goes well with Mitchell and Ra'mon until it comes out that Ra'mon did most of the work. When Mitchell finally confesses to that Heidi's eyes narrow into scary little slits. The judges, however, just adore Ra'mon's avant garde dress. Myself, I agree with Nurse Jackie when she declares it "nice for Wilma Flintstone". And then we have Q and Epperson all but smacking each other on the runway. Q totally rats out Epperson, Epperson takes all the credit and wags his finger at Q way too much and the judges are all making the scary look judges make when designers fight. (Kind of a "this is very unseemly...keep it up because it's good for ratings" look).

I am hopeful that Rehab Johnny and Irina are going to get the win because they are told that "everything was right" plus I like them both but shockingly Ra'mon is declared the winner because his look is "fresh", he did all the work and he "understood the spirit of the challenge" (which I hope he will explain to me later. At Spago's. Over Lemon Drops).
(Mitchell made the bathing suit that you can't see under the first look. Photo courtesy of Projectrunway.com)

Q and Epperson are both reprimanded for their behavior but are safe. And with no further ado Heidi declares a first in PR history....the team leader with the winning looks is auf . Mitchell didn't do any of the work and that coupled with his previous 2 strikes for shoddy to non-existent workmanship prove that he clearly doesn't belong. Mitchell was gracious in defeat and acknowledged that he didn't try hard enough. I, for one, am just thankful that the producers judges chose not going to ignore his abject lack of skillz in lieu of his perky bitchiness.

Without the distraction of Mitchell it will be interesting to see who next emerges as the "personality" of the show. Thus far we have a lot of very talented people who also seem to be pretty mellow. Who has an evil Santino or obnoxious Kenley lurking within? Perhaps we'll find out next week. Lemon Drop anyone?