Saturday, November 02, 2013

Project Runway All Stars, Season Three, Episode Two: War of the All Stars!

Announcer: The Columbia Broadcasting System and its affiliated stations present Eric Three Thousand and the Mercury Theatre in War of the All Stars by H. G. Wells. Ladies and gentlemen, the director of the Mercury Theatre and star of these broadcasts, Eric Three Thousand:

Eric Three Thousand: We know now that in the early years of the twenty-first century Project Runway was being watched closely by intelligences greater than ours and yet as mortal as our own. We know now that as the All Stars busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as the bugs at the natural history museum. With infinite complacence the designers went to and fro from Mood, tending their little affairs, serene in the assurance of their dominion over this small spinning fragment of the Project Runway universe, which by chance or design they had inherited out of the dark mystery of time and space. Yet across an immense ethereal gulf, minds that are to our minds as ours are to the beasts in the jungle, intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic, regarded this show with envious eyes and slowly and surely drew their plans against it. In the third season of All Stars came the great disillusionment. It was near the end of October. Business was better. The recession was over. More designers were back at work. Sales were picking up. On this particular evening, October 31, the Nielsen service estimated that over thirty-two people were tuning in to Project Runway on their radios.

Announcer: For the next twenty-four hours not much change in temperature. A slight atmospheric disturbance of undetermined origin is reported over Nova Scotia, causing an area of high pressure moving rather rapidly toward Manhattan, bringing a forecast of hysteria and intermittent crying, accompanied by winds of light gale force and a chance of chiffon. This weather report comes to you from the Government Weather Bureau. We now take you to the Meridian Room in the Hotel Park Plaza in downtown New York, where you will be entertained by the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra.

(Music Plays)

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving toward the earth with enormous velocity. We'll probably all die. We now return you to the music of Ramón Raquello, playing for you in the Meridian Room of the Park Plaza Hotel, situated in downtown New York.

(More Music)

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, following on the news given in our bulletin a moment ago, the Government Meteorological Bureau has requested the large observatories of the country to keep an astronomical watch on any further disturbances. Due to the unusual nature of this occurrence, we have arranged an interview with noted astronomer Professor Alyssa Milano, who will give us her views on the event. in a few moments we will take you to the Parsons Observatory at Parsons. We return you until then to the music of Ramón Raquello and his orchestra.

(Still More Goddamn Music)

Announcer: We are now ready to take you to the Parsons Observatory at Parsons where Eric Three Thousand, our commentator, will interview Professor Alyssa Milano, famous astronomer. We take you now to Parsons.

Eric Three Thousand: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. This is Eric Three Thousand, speaking to you from the Parsons observatory at Parsons. I am standing in a large semi-circular room, pitch black except for an oblong split in the ceiling. Through this opening I can see a sprinkling of All Stars that cast a kind of frosty glow over the intricate mechanism of the design room. Professor Milano stands directly above me on a small platform, peering through a giant lens. I ask you to be patient, ladies and gentlemen, during any delay that may arise during our interview. Besides her ceaseless watch of the All Stars, Professor Milano may be interrupted by a telegram or carrier pigeon or possibly an important twitter message about the Kardashians. During this period she is in constant touch with the astronomical centers of the world. Professor, would you please tell our radio audience exactly what you see as you observe the All Stars through your telescope?

Alyssa Milano: Nothing unusual. The All Stars went to the natural history museum and picked out bugs that will be their inspiration for an avant garde challenge. It appears that Elena has lost her sketch and she is freaking out.

Eric Three Thousand: In your opinion, what do these freak-outs signify, Professor?

Alyssa Milano: It doesn't signify that she's going home this week, I can assure you, although that's the popular conjecture of those who imagine there is any significance to the things that happen on this show. From a scientific viewpoint the freak-outs are merely the result of atmospheric conditions peculiar to the design room.

Eric Three Thousand: Then you're quite convinced as a scientist that living intelligence as we know it does not exist at Parsons?

Alyssa Milano: I'd say the chances against it are a thousand to one.

Eric Three Thousand: And yet how do you account for the fact that anyone is tuning in to this show?

Alyssa Milano: I can't.

Eric Three Thousand: By the way, Professor, for the benefit of our listeners, how far from reality are these All Stars?

Alyssa Milano: Approximately forty million miles.

Eric Three Thousand: Well, that seems a safe enough distance.

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, here is the latest bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. This is a special announcement from New York City. It is reported that at approximately 9:40 P.M. a series of unidentified objects walked down a runway on a farm in the neighborhood of Manhattan, in New York. We have dispatched a special mobile unit to the scene, and will have our commentator, Eric Three Thousand, give you a description as soon as he can reach there from Parsons. In the meantime, we take you to the Hotel Martinet in Brooklyn, where Bobby Millette and his orchestra are offering a program of dance music.

(Oh, for crying out loud! Enough with the music, already!)

Announcer: We take you now to the Mizrahi farm in New York.

Eric Three Thousand: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Eric Three Thousand again, at the Mizrahi farm, New York. Professor Milano and myself made the eleven miles from Parsons in ten minutes. Well, I ... I hardly know where to begin, to paint for you a word picture of the strange scene before my eyes, like something out of a modern "Arabian Nights." Well, I just got here. I haven't had a chance to look around yet. I guess that's them. Yes, I guess those are the ... things that walked down the runway, directly in front of me. From what I can see of the objects themselves, they don't look very much like avant garde fashion, at least not any avant garde fashion I've ever seen. They look more like silly bug costumes.

This week, at Parsons
Eric Three Thousand: While the policemen are pushing the crowd back, here's Mr. Mizrahi, owner of the farm. He may have some interesting facts to add. Mr. Mizrahi, would you please tell the radio audience as much as you remember of these rather unusual visitors that landed in your backyard runway?

Isaac Mizrahi: That's right, I'm a farmer. I live on a farm. I drive around in the cutest little tractor and I grow cornflakes and I have some of those things that make milk ... what are they called? ... oh, yes, cows. So, yes, that's me, farmer Isaac Mizrahi."

Eric Three Thousand: Terrific. But that's actually not what we're here to talk to you about. We'd like you to tell us about what you've seen today.

Isaac Mizrahi: Well, I don't think I can even critique what I've seen. I think you have to be very careful not to cross the line between "avant garde" and "exterminating the human race." I mean, how is a girl even supposed to drink a martini after she's been vaporized by a death ray?

Eric Three Thousand: I think we can all sympathize with Isaac's interest in having a martini, but that's really the least of our problems ... Wait a minute! Someone's crawling out of the runway. Someone or ... something. I can see peering out of that black hole two luminous disks. Are they eyes? It might be a face. It might be ... good heavens, something's wriggling out of the shadow like a gray snake. Now it's another one, and another. They look like tentacles to me. It's Christopher's look. No, It's Irina's. The top looks are Irina's, Elena's, and Mychael's. Mychael wins the challenge. But the looks keep coming! There, I can see the thing's body. It's large -- large as a bear and it glistens like wet leather.  Ladies and gentlemen, it's indescribable. I can hardly force myself to keep looking at it. The avant garde look or whatever it is can hardly move. It seems weighed down by ... possibly gravity or something. The thing's raising up. The judges fall back now. They've seen plenty. This is the most extraordinary experience. I can't find words ... Wait! Something's happening! A humped shape is rising off of the runway. I can make out a small beam of light. What's that? There's a jet of flame! Good lord, everything is on fire! The woods ... the barns ... the gas tanks of automobiles ... the Brother sewing machines ...

(The microphone goes silent)

Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are unable to continue the broadcast from Eric Three Thousand. I have just been handed a message that came in from New York by telephone. Just a moment. The tragedy on the runway has resulted in several fashion victims. They have been accessorized and distorted beyond all possible recognition. New York has been placed under martial law. ... Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange garments that walked the runway tonight are the vanguard of an invading army. The battle which took place tonight in New York has ended in one of the most startling defeats ever suffered by any army in modern times.

President Barack Obama: Citizens of the nation, I shall not try to conceal the gravity of the situation that confronts the country, nor the concern of your government in protecting the lives and property of its people. However, I wish to impress upon you -- private citizens and public officials, all of you -- the urgent need of calm and resourceful action. Fortunately, this formidable enemy is still confined to a comparatively small area, and we may place our faith in the military forces to keep them there. The bottom three designers were Daniel, Jeffrey, and Melissa, and Daniel has been eliminated. We will remember him. In the meantime, placing our faith in God, we must continue the performance of our duties, each and every one of us, so that we may confront this destructive adversary with a nation united, courageous, and consecrated to the preservation of human supremacy on this earth. I thank you.

Announcer: I'm speaking from the roof of the Atlas Apartments, New York City. The bells you hear are ringing to warn the people to evacuate the city. All communication with the Jersey shore closed ten minutes ago. No more defenses. Our army wiped out. This may be the last broadcast. We'll stay here to the end. Now I look down to the harbor. All manner of boats, overloaded with the fleeing population, pulling out from the docks. Streets are all jammed. This is the end now. Smoke comes out ... black smoke, drifting over the city. People in the streets see it now. They're running towards the East River ... thousands of them, dropping in like rats. Now the smoke's spreading faster. It's reached Times Square. People trying to run away from it, but it's no use. They're falling like flies. Now the smoke's crossing Sixth Avenue ... Fifth Avenue ... one hundred yards away ... it's fifty feet ...

Unknown Radio Operator: 2X2L calling CQ ... 2X2L calling CQ ... 2X2L calling CQ ... New York. Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone on the air? Isn't there anyone ...

(Radio silence)

Eric Three Thousand: As I set down these notes on paper, I'm obsessed by the thought that I may be the last living Project Runway blogger on earth. I have been hiding in this empty house near Parsons -- a small island of daylight cut off by the black smoke from the rest of the world. All that happened before the arrival of these monstrous garments now seems part of another life. A life that has no continuity with the present, furtive existence of the lonely derelict who pencils these words on the back of some astronomical notes bearing my signature. I look down at my blackened hands, my torn shoes, my tattered clothes, and I try to connect them with a blogger named Eric Three Thousand, who on the night of October 31, watched what I thought was going to be a fashion show. My husband, my colleagues, my students, my books, my observatory, my ... my world ... where are they? Did they ever exist? Am I Eric Three Thousand? What day is it? Do days exist without calendars? Does time pass when there are no human hands left to wind the clocks? In writing down my daily life I tell myself I shall preserve Project Runway history between the dark covers of this little Macbook that was meant to record the movements of the All Stars. But to write I must live, and to live, I must eat ...

(Eric Three Thousand will now take a lunch break)

Eric Three Thousand: After lunch I came at last to the Holland Tunnel. I entered that silent tube anxious to know the fate of the great city on the other side of the Hudson. Cautiously I came out of the tunnel and made my way up Canal Street. I caught sight of Swatch the dog running down Seventh Avenue with a piece of dark brown fabric in his jaws, and a pack of starving mongrels at his heels. Suddenly, my eyes were attracted to the immense flock of black birds that hovered directly below me. They circled to the ground, and there before my eyes, stark and silent, lay the avant garde looks, with the hungry birds pecking and tearing at them. Later when these artifacts were examined in the laboratories, it was found that they were eliminated for being too literal and having terrible proportions. Slain, after all our defenses had failed, by the humblest thing that God in His wisdom put upon this earth. It may be that for the remaining designers this is only a reprieve. To them, and not to us, is the future ordained, perhaps. Strange it now seems to sit in my peaceful study writing down this last chapter of the record begun yesterday afternoon. Strange to watch the sightseers enter the natural history museum where we first saw the bugs that inspired this challenge.

This is Eric Three Thousand, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of The All Stars has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night. So we did the next best thing. We annihilated Parsons before your very ears, and utterly destroyed Project Runway. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader in your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no All Star ... it's Halloween.


Catherine said...

I don't get all of your cultural references, being culturally, um, well, I don't watch a lot of TV. But when I do get them, I am amazed at how well you channel the different voices and genres, as here. So glad you're blogging All Stars!

pernoctator said...

Wow! It's been years since I've heard the original broadcast and I still recognised a lot of the phrases. Nice work.

Although, I have to confess, I've been obsessed with the Jeff Wayne musical throughout childhood, so I weirdly heard most of your piece in the voice of Richard Burton. Yeah. Please carry on.

MoHub said...

Perfection. Sheer perfection. You have outdone yourself, sir!

eric3000 said...

Thank you! You are all too kind!

Vanessa said...

Bravo! If there is to be one "last living Project Runway blogger on earth" I do hope it is you.

I just watched a PBS special on War of the Worlds so it was fresh in my mind--making your parody even better, smarter and funnier.

eric3000 said...

Yeah, the "American Experience" program was probably why I did it, although it was getting pretty widespread coverage last week for the anniversary. I also listened to the whole broadcast on Youtube because it's been several decades since I heard it. It seems so monumental that it's hard to believe it was less than an hour long.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for being our holdout blogger. It's not Project Runway without your weekly parodies on a myriad variety of topics. Amazing!