Friday, December 28, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Nine: More Miserables!

[Spoiler alert: everyone living in France in the nineteenth century is now dead. If this is news to you, please don't read any further. Everyone else, I would appreciate it if you would sing this week's post as loud as possible.]

The episode opens in New York two hundred and twenty three years after the start of the French revolution. The designers are working away in the Brother sewing room:

Designers: "Look down, look down, you'll always be a slave. Look down, look down, you're standing in your grave."
The designers in the Brother sewing room
The action moves out to the street:

Joshua: "How do you do? My name is Josh. These are my people, here's my patch. Not much to look at, nothing posh, nothing that you'd call up to scratch. This is my school, my high society, here in the slums of the Upper East Side. We live on crumbs of humble piety and 'moderate' dresses that cost seven hundred dollars. Think you're poor? Think you're free? Follow me. Follow me!"

Josh leads the designers up Fifth Avenue, where they meet Elie Tahari:

Elie Tahari: "Come in, designers, for you are weary and the day is cold out there. Though my beginnings were very humble, what I have I have to share. There are touchpads to excite you, there is fabric that is fine. A corner office you can work in. Work in peace and do not whine."

The designers steal all of Elie Tahari's fabric. Joanna enters the design room and is ready to arrest them and send them back to jail, but Elie tells her that he gave them the fabric:

Elie Tahari: "Now remember this, designers, see in this some higher plan. You must use this precious fabric to 'wow' as best you can."

Joanna is moved by this act of kindness, but she has some words of advice for the designers:

Joanna: "All Stars, in your multitudes, scarce to be counted, filling Lifetime with drama and light. You are the sentinels, loud and sure, making clothes in the night, making clothes in the night. You know your place on the show, you hold your course and your aim, and each in this season has returned and returned and is always the same. And so it has been, and so it is written on the doorway to the studio that those who falter and those who fall must be eliminated. This I swear by the All Stars!"

The designers go back to the hotel, where they talk about their day:

Anthony Ryan: "At the end of the day we're another day older. And that's all you can say for the life of an All Star. It's a struggle, it's a war, and the viewers they just keep complaining, and we just keep hanging around, what is it for?"

Uli: "One day less to be living."

They give a toast:

Emilio: "Everybody raise a glass!"

Joshua: "Raise it up Carolyn's [bleep]!"

Emilio: "Everybody raise a glass to the host of the show!"

And they remember their friends who are no longer there:

Ivy: "So my friends, my friends don't ask me what your sacrifice was for. Empty chairs at empty sewing machines, where my friends will sew no more."

The next day the models are sent to the L'Oreal hair and makeup studio, where they have their hair cut off, their teeth extracted, and are then turned into prostitutes. Just like every week. Time for the runway:

Uli made another white dress:

Uli: "There is a castle on a cloud. Everyone there is dressed in white. Colors at all are not allowed. Not in my castle on a cloud."

Emilio wanted to do color-blocking but ended up changing his design:

Emilio: "Orange: the color that I wanted. Purple: my world if it's not there. Yellow: the color I ended up with. Purple: the color of despair!"

The judges fall in love with Anthony Ryan, while Uli loses this week's prize:

Judges: "A heart full of love, a heart full of song. Anthony Ryan can do no wrong."

Anthony Ryan: "Do I dream?"

Judges: "We're awake. A heart full of love."

Uli: "It was never mine to lose."

Judges: "A heart full of song."

Uli: "Why regret what could not be?"

Judges: "A single look and then we knew."

Uli: "These are words I will not hear."

Anthony Ryan: "From today."

Judges: "Every day."

Uli: "Not today."

The bottom three are Emilio, Joshua, and Ivy. Isaac pleads with the other judges to spare Emilio:

Isaac: "He's like the son I might have known, if God had granted me a son. The seasons come one by one and I am old and will be gone. Bring him peace, bring him joy, he is young, he is only a boy. If I die, let me die. Let him live. Don't send him home. Don't send him home. Send Ivy home!"

Ivy is fading away and she skypes with the spirit of Casanova:

Ivy: "Casanova, you are here again beside me. Now I can be eliminated in peace for now my life is blessed."

Casanova: "You will stay, Ivy, you're going to stay. It's too soon, too soon for you to say goodbye!"

Ivy: "Yes, Casanova, forbid me now to die. I will obey. At least I will try."

Ivy fails and is out. She sings to the spirit of Casanova as she walks off the Runway:

Ivy: "Take my hand and lead me to salvation. Take my love for love is everlasting. And remember the truth that once was spoken: to love another person is to see the face of God."

Casanova: "huh?"

We leave with the designers singing about the finale:

Designers: "One more week to final challenge! We will see this season through! We will cry and we will panic. We will 'sew' our clothes with glue! Next week we will discover what the judges have in store! One more challenge! One more auf! One week more!"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Holidays from Eric Three Thousand!

[I'm posting my annual holiday letter, which this year elicited concern from friends and family for my mental health. Regular readers, who are already aware that I am nuts, will recognize the text as a rehash of a previous Project Runway post, which was a parody of the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.]

Burbank, City of Wonder, Christmas MMXII

Over these buildings, in these streets, on this page, in this city of wonder, Burbank, decades of holiday letters have defined the measure of our planet, and stubbornly propelled our progress toward enlightenment, toward lasting achievement. Here, the location of the Bob Hope International Airport and the only convenient Ikea in the greater Los Angeles area, we divide the hemispheres into the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, set our clocks to rush hour, Greenwich Mean Time. but the laws of relativity, not Newton's, apply to a writer’s pursuit, an inescapable eternity of repetition, hours, days, years, from margins calculated by paragraphs, sentences, punctuation, for the promise of moments everlasting. Even when the words are all but frozen, we may still doubt what we see. Two and a half puns, an out of control simile, a metaphor slicing forty yards, to find a target two and a half inches in diameter. 

And as these letters return to your mailboxes for the umpteenth time in the modern era, the theater of my laptop will entertain you with a Shakespearean swoop, with effusive, fast emerging nonsense, a writer with soaring expectations, waiting for lightning to strike twice, but with no exotic holidays to report on, and no other news at all; on screen, on paper, in mid-air, we will be tracked by the lens of a media microscope, where advantage is defined by hundredths of a second. And in letter writing’s greatest rivalry, the ultimate competitor collides with raw commitment and Zen-like cool, and soon could be the most decorated writer in his own mind. 

Here, where monuments were built in an age of mythology, where for over five decades a ceremony of keys nightly locks the prisoners in the Tonight Show studio; here, where fairytales never end, and a writer, indomitable, sustains the flame of holiday letters. Here in this city of wonder we'll hear again the echoes of an ancient ethos: longer, slower, sillier. Diutius, stolidus, ridiculum. How long, how tedious, how absurd, can we extend the very measure of a letter? Mine is a pursuit of timeless achievement, be it astonishing ... magnificent ... everlasting.

Bob Costas: "Burbank, five hundred years ago the home of Henry VIII. Now, on a Saturday in December of 2012 it's where Eric finally began the final leg in the journey of writing his holiday letter, a journey that started by tradition way too late, and today the journey continues along the 101 freeway to the 405, and I’m like Are you crazy? You can’t take the 101 at this time of day! You should take Moorpark. Whatever. Anyway, at the end of this journey the flame will be lit again and Queen Elizabeth will preside over the opening of the envelope this letter came in. Hi, everybody, I'm Bob Costas and I think you'll agree that my hair is almost a color that can be found in nature."

Meredith Vieira: "Your hair looks great, Bob. This year’s letter will be produced by famed director Danny Boyle. I asked my dear friend Danny about the challenge of producing this holiday letter. He knows he can't compete with last year’s over-the-top letter produced by the Chinese, so this year you are going to read something more cinematic, a mix of hyperbole and plagiarism. In other words, it's going to be cheap."

Bob Costas: “Thank you, Meredith. Now, before we start, I have to tell you that due to weather conditions, you have been provided with a poncho to wear while reading this letter. Please don't use an umbrella in your house; it will affect your reading experience and it is also bad luck.”

And now Bob Costas will try to make my year sound more interesting than it was by narrating the parade of months:

Bob Costas: "Just a reminder: these months will appear in order based on the Pig Latin form of their names."

Meredith Vieira: “Well, no kidding, Bob. We weren’t born yesterday.”

Bob Costas: "Oh, we’re starting! OK, nothing interesting ever happens in January, and yet it comes back every year. That’s dedication!"

"In February Eric attended the annual conference of the College Art Association. Then he had all his skin replaced with the finest Corinthian leather.” 

“In March Eric went to Palm Springs to attend the opening of a friend’s art exhibition. Eric has never won a medal in badminton”

“In April Eric went to Arizona for the weekend. You can always recognize Team Bermuda because of their shorts.”

“In May Eric attended his sister-in-law’s wedding. The king of his country offered him untold riches if he brought home a gold.”

“In June Eric visited family in Illinois. This tiny land-locked state usually excels in winter sports."

"In July Eric was suspended from competition for five years because he accidentally took cold medication. Fortunately, the verdict was overturned on appeal and here he is. I made up that story, but that doesn't make it any less inspiring."

"In August Eric attended a convention in San Diego. Hey, have I ever randomly mentioned that Kim Jong Il is supposed to have shot seven holes-in-one the very first time he played golf? I’m going to go out on a limb and say it isn’t true. I don’t care who knows it."

“In September Eric’s ophthalmologist told him to try wearing contacts to improve the vision in his left eye. But after enduring the film Hotel Transylvania, he decided that he really didn’t want to see that badly.”

“October was an exciting month for Eric; he got a flu shot and met the stars of the show Hot in Cleveland. Eric’s tears taste like Mountain Dew and contain even more caffeine.”

"In November Eric had root canal surgery. 97% of Americans do not know that the country of Belarus exists."

"In December Eric would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year! Now stay tuned for Sir Paul McCartney!"

Friday, December 21, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Eight: Parsons Abbey!

The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate of Parsons Abbey in this thrilling new season of Project Runway All Stars.

But first a reminder of what happened last week: Casanova was accused of murdering his crazy wife and he left Parsons Abbey in order to prevent Ivy from being involved in the scandal:

Ivy: "I know you, Casanova. You're doing something gallant here, making a sacrifice for my honor, but I don't want you to. I don't care. Don't you understand? I don't care what people say. I'd live in sin with you. If they're threatening to ruin me, then let them. It's nothing to me. The only ruin that I recognize is to be without you!"

Casanova: "huh?"

Casanova is dragged off to prison, while Ivy sobs uncontrollably.

At the beginning of this challenge Carolyn enters with envelopes for the designers:

Emilio: "It's from Lord Grantham."

Joshua: "Really? What on earth does he want?"

Emilio: "He wants to change our lives."

Joshua: "He wants us to inherit Parson's Abbey?"

Emilio: "No, a Nine-West capsule boutique."

Lord Grantham: "If I'd made my own fortune and bought Parsons for myself it should be yours without question, but I did not. My fortune is the work of others over at Bravo who laboured to build this great dynasty. Do I have the right to destroy their work or impoverish that dynasty? I am a custodian, my dear, not an owner. I must strive to be worthy of the task I've been set. If I could take Project Runway out of the Lifetime schedule Parsons would have to be sold to pay for it. Is that what you want? To see Isaac Mizrahi a landless peer with a title, but no means to pay for it?"

Emilio: "You know what? We're happy with the capsule boutique thingy. Don't worry about it."

Carolyn: "Terrific. So, for this challenge you will be creating updated looks inspired by the 1920s, because the 1920s are so hot right now."

Lady Grantham: "But it's only 1919. The war just ended. We barely have enough servants to entertain properly as it is. I very nearly had to have a lady's maid serve wine at dinner the other night. I mean, really! This is just too much! How can we possibly be expected to create updated looks based on a decade that hasn't even started yet?"

Carolyn: "I believe season three of Project Runway All Stars will be set in the early 1920s. So you'll just have to do your best for now."

Lady Grantham: "I suppose that's all we can do in these trying times. Where's O'Brian?"

O'Brian: "I've prepared your bath, m'Lady. And I've left the soap right where you won't be able to miss it."

Lady Grantham: "Oh, thank you, O'Brian. What would I do without you?"

The women of Parsons Abbey engage in a fashion face off:

Uli: "This is totally my challenge."

Laura Kathleen: "Well, I don't need feathers to compensate for my design."

Anthony Ryan: "I'd give Ivy's dress a seven or eight."

Ivy: "I'd give Anthony Ryan's dress a five."

Lady Mary: "Edith, darling, your hat is hideous."

Lady Edith: "Oh, yeah? Well, you're a whore."

Then we survive a cholera epidemic, a floral competition, a political rally, and a surprise visit from someone we thought was gone:

Daniel Franco: "Hi, everyone!"

What are you doing here, Daniel? We thought you died on the Titanic!

Daniel Franco: "Oh, no, I just hit my head and completely forgot to audition again this season. By the way, I've been living in Canada, and that's why I talk funny. Anyway, I don't actually have any proof that I'm not dead, so I'll just leave now."

Bye! It's been great seeing you, Daniel!

Now it's time for the women of Parsons Abbey to model their new looks:

The Dowager Countess goes to an after-hours speakeasy:

The Dowager Countess: "Oh, I don't think so. I've heard those places have electricity. And Americans. No, I'll just stay here, thank you very much."

It's just as well, because she looks bad in the dress Ivy made for her. The fabric is nice but it makes the Dowager Countess look fat. And that is not a fat Dowager Countess:

The Dowager Countess: "You know that's right. I've won the title of Sexiest Dowager ten years in a row."

Cousin Isobel: "I believe you pay for that competition."

The Dowager Countess: "I will cut you, Isobel."

Lady Edith wears a dress by Emilio and attends the annual Parsons garden party. She's hoping to receive a proposal from Sir Whatshisface, at whom she's been shamelessly throwing herself. As usual, she ends up looking like a fool:

Isaac: "That fabric is terrible. And the silhouette is more 1930s than 1920s."

Emilio: "I was going for the late 1920s. The extremely late 1920s. Like 1935."

Isaac: "Oh, by the way, Edith, I just spoke to your suitor and he had to leave. Suddenly."


Lady Mary wears a feather capelet designed by Anthony Ryan. The capelet becomes a metaphor for her engagement to cousin Matthew:

Isaac Mizrahi: "I think it should be on. No, no, I've changed my mind; it should be off. Well ... let's try it with it back on again ..."

Lady Mary: "Oh, for the love of God, will you just tell me if I'm getting married?!"

It looks like it's back on again, and Anthony Ryan wins the challenge.

Finally, Lady Sybil attends the evening soiree wearing trousers designed by Laura Kathleen. Everyone is shocked. Lady Grantham faints:

Lord Grantham: "Sybil, look what you've done! Your mother, my darling Cora, has fallen face first into her soup! Your attire is shocking! Shocking, I say! How could you wear trousers?! . . . Again?! You wear the same damn giant palazzo pant for every evening soiree we have! Well, I won't stand for it! You are cut off from the family and no longer welcome at Parsons!"

Oh, no! Lady Sybil and her designer, Laura Kathleen, are out!

Shirley MacLaine: "Through war and peace, Parsons still stands, and ..."

You're too late; the episode is over.

The Dowager Countess has had enough of this bullshit

Friday, December 14, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Seven: The duchess, the singer, and the very big watch!

It's that time we've all been waiting for! Everyone will be celebrating and talking about shopping and decorating and fashion options!

Carolyn: "That's right! It's Christmas and time for everyone's favorite challenge: unconventional materials!"

Oh, nobody cares about that, Carolyn. I'm talking about the fetus that will one day be King or Queen!

Isaac: "The most famous couple on earth are expecting the world's most eagerly-anticipated child!"

Ivy: "It is the most wonderful news!"

Uli: "People are over the moon about this! It's like it's their baby!"

Emilio: "The royal baby that will become the future monarch of Britain!"

Laura Kathleen: "The biggest celebrity child on the planet!"

Anthony Ryan: "It's mind-blowing to think about just how famous this baby is going to be!"

Casanova: "And we can't wait to see it!"

Joshua: "There's no way this baby is not going to be good looking!"

Yes, the Duchess of Cambridge is over a week pregnant so it's time for a two-hour special with speculation about who the baby will be wearing and expert analysis explaining that this baby will be both bigger than and completely different from Suri Cruise!

Carolyn: "You're right! This is so much better than dumb old Christmas!"

Yeah, I don't think it's an exaggeration to say this is the most important pregnancy since Rachel Zoe gave birth to Skyer! So, thanks to forensic science and digital imaging, we will now be able to predict what Kate will look like when she is nine months pregnant and we will also be able to figure out exactly where she will be shopping for baby clothes and how she will decorate the nursery! And India Hicks will show us the good china:

Peach Carr: "WHAT?!!!"

Don't worry, Peach. That's not a euphemism.

India Hicks: "My godfather, Prince Charles, gave me this beautiful china one piece at a time, for Christmas and birthdays. It was confusing as a child to get a single piece of china as a gift, but now I have a full set."

Yeah, you do.

India Hicks: "Thank you. My godfather is Prince Charles."

Yes. You mentioned that. But what kind of amazing presents can we expect in honor of this royal baby?

Fawad Gruosi: "I have this very big watch I'm trying to unload?"

That will do. OK, so now that we have a fabulous prize let's go to the South Street Sea Port to learn about the challenge. Obviously, the challenge has something to do with the maritime industry and jewelry design will factor in, with Fawad Gruosi as the guest judge, right?

Carolyn: "You're so close. The designers will be shopping for Christmas decorations and the guest judge is Kylie Minogue."

That doesn't make any sense, Carolyn. What the hell does any of that have to do with a royal pregnancy?

Anyway, we do love us some Kylie, but this challenge was pretty mediocre.

Laura Kathleen, Uli, and Anthony Ryan basically made the same dress. Anthony Ryan's looked the most expensive and well-made. But Uli's looked the most comfortable and wearable. Uli won.

Uli tries on her new watch
Emilio made a dress out of ribbon, Joshua made a dress out of Christmas ornaments, Ivy made a dress out of twigs, and Casanova made a dress out of bullshit.

The designers argue about what the judges are looking for in an unconventional-materials challenge:

Casanova: "I just worry that my dress is too conventional."

Emilio: "Right. I think for an unconventional challenge you need to make something non-conventional."

Joshua: "Exactly. Unconventional means non-conventional. As in it shouldn't be conventional."

Casanova: "That's why I'm worried."

Joshua: "No, seriously. It shouldn't be conventional."

Great. Now we've clarified what 'unconventional' means, could someone explain to Anthony Ryan the meaning of the word 'infamous'?

Anthony Ryan: "You mean like my infamous birdseed dress?"

Never mind. Anyway, after an unexciting Project Runway first, in which three designers were named as possibly being safe, Ivy and Casanova were the bottom two.

Casanova is out.

Laura Kathleen: "What? Casanova? So why the hell am I hugging Ivy?"

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Project Runway All Stars Season Two, Episode Six: Going Green!

The year is 2022 and in an overpopulated and environmentally-ravaged New York City, the designers find themselves wandering down an abandoned train track. The city's residents are suffering from high unemployment and a lack of fresh water and the once great public transportation system is now covered in vegetation.

Carolyn: "Designers, since we ran out of fresh water, we are now reliant on AirDye fabrics. They are made from sea plankton and are a major improvement over EarthDye and FireDye fabrics. You will be using these new AirDye fabrics to create looks for a red carpet event, which is something you could read about in history books, whatever those are."

Meanwhile, Isaac Mizrahi investigates a crime at the luxurious Chelsea Towers, where he finds black-market fabrics and books linking the victim to the AirDye Corporation. He takes these books to the only person he knows who could interpret their significance, the president of the Supreme Exchange of Fashion Designers, which is an ancient association of scholars:

Diane Von Furstenberg: "Darling, did I ever tell you about when I was young and I was married to a handsome prince and we would go to shops in Italy where you could buy fabrics that had been dyed using water?"

Isaac: "Water-dyed fabric! Oh, Dianne, you and your crazy stories!"

The next day, Isaac is assigned to the weekly Accessory Distribution Center. A riot breaks out when the teeming hoards of designers learn there is a shortage of purple feathers. Isaac barely escapes with his life.

On to the runway. It was all about the fabric this week. My favorite was Casanova, who made a really beautiful plaid gown; I think it would have been stunning on the red carpet. If red carpets were a thing that still existed. Uli's purple feather dress was cute enough. Emilio's red chiffon dress was a beautiful color, but there was nothing interesting about the design. Anthony Ryan was in the top, but I thought his model looked like she was wearing a blue parachute; I could see what he was trying to go for, but I thought he failed. Laura Kathleen won the challenge, with a palazzo pantsuit; I thought it was nice, but I didn't think it was quite dramatic enough.

The bottom two were Ivy and Althea. Both dresses were unspeakably horrible and either one of them could have been out. Althea will be "going home," which is a euphemism for assisted suicide:

Althea: "No, it isn't. It just means I'm leaving the competition."

Potato, potahto. The point is, Althea is sent to the former Madison Square Garden, where she watches Imax films of amazing things that don't exist anymore, such as glaciers and whales and Imax films. Also, classical music is playing, and you know what that means:

Althea: "Wow! This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!"

Isaac rushes to try to save her, but he gets there too late. She's gone.

Althea: "I'm not dead!"

Whatever. Isaac is distraught. And he learns a terrible secret from Diane Von Furstenberg:

Diane Von Furstenberg: "Darling, I read those books you gave me and I discovered that AirDye fabric is not really made from plankton, as they claim. The ocean stopped producing plankton decades ago. You have to let people know the truth."