Friday, August 31, 2012

How Fantastic is This? The Project Runway recap

The chair hates Ven, too.

Seriously Project Runway? I missed Clint Eastwood talking to a frickin EMPTY CHAIR for this shit?
You’re dead to me.

 I mean, the reality TV gods are fickle beasts.
Last week was a seminal, blockbuster, game-changing episode of Project Runway. This week? Well, let me put it this way: No fans were in danger of being hit with any shit.

In fact, as far as I could tell, the first half hour of the show was basically just the designers standing around talking about how awesome Lord & Taylor is.

Eventually, things got a little more interesting as we got into a boys against the girls kinda thing.

A pop quiz, kids. Guess which of the designers said this:

“I think men are usually stronger designers while women are a little more practical.”

Was it:
a. Ven
b. Ven
c. Ven
d. Ven

If you guessed Ven, you’re right!

But it’s true, the women were a little, uh, flustered this week.

Elena demonstrating her backstabbing technique

Elena was spazzing out because she does designs that are complicated and high fashion and edgy and NOT for those slags who shop at Lord & Taylor (or somethin’).

Tim gives her awesome advice (redundant) and says: “Think about a bridge line. Think about how to deliver Elena to a mass market.”

Then Gunnar comes over and comforts her. He tells her not to let the judges see her sweat.
“Don’t let them know you have a heart,” he cracks.
“You’re so stupid!” she says, hugging him, which is about as lovey-dovey as Elena gets.

Melissa is also having a cow because she thinks she chose the wrong fabric.
They then leave us with a cliff-hangerish sneak peek before going to the commercial break.
“You’ve made a horrible mistake with the fabric,” says Tim, ominously.

Wait a second…maybe that fan DOES need a shit guard after all.

Come back from commercial and turns out, the ACTUAL quote is: “You shouldn’t go into the judging thinking you’ve made a horrible mistake with the fabric.”

Why you gotta play us like that, Project Runway?

(A question: Do the Project Runway producers think our attention span is so short we’re going to turn the channel without a cliffhanger at every commercial break?)
(Then again: Clint Eastwood. Empty Chair. Good move, PR producers. Good move.)

Sonjia is also freaking out, mostly because she found herself in the bottom last week and is feeling a little vulnerable. More on her later.

In a sea of little black cocktail dresses, Christopher is the only one daring to do a floor-length gown. He’s also using his shredding technique—again.
But he feels, smartly, that this is his signature technique. And if he’s going to be part of the Project Runway collection at Lord & Taylor, he wants it to accurately reflect what he does.

This just in: Christopher is totally going to win Project Runway. I’m almost sure of it.
He’s adorable, young, talented, and has that elusive quality of “taste.” He’s basically Nina Garcia catnip. 

What a Nina Garcia sex dream looks like.

But Christopher is second guessing himself.
“Everyone’s doing a little black cocktail dress,” he confides to Ven. (Why would anyone confide anything to Ven? Ever?) “I’m concerned they’re going to be like, Why did you do a gown?"
Ven nods in a “good point” kind of way.

Speaking of Ven, you’ll never guess what’s happening on his dress? A three-dimensional flower detail in the front. Holy shit, dude. Never saw that coming. (Dear Ven: This is Project Runway, not Project Origami.)

It’s fitting time and Sonjia starts weeping cause she can’t get her dress on her model. She’s literally immobilized with grief.
And Elena (yes, Elena!) comes to her rescue and helps her fit her model. (Who knew?) (Off to vote for her for Fan Favorite!) (Just kidding…again.) (The mystery of Elena as fan favorite will soon stand alongside Big Foot and Chupacabra.)

Guest judge is Bonnie Brooks from Lord & Taylor.
Heidi inexplicably chose to wear this:

"I question her taste level" - me

Down the runway they come, all lookin’ pretty good, to be honest. Gunnar and Fabio make curious hand gestures.

Submitted without comment.

And Dmitry, Ven, and Sonjia are all. . .safe! Dmitry and Ven are both pissed, cause they think they’re Top 3 material (for a change.) Sonjia is relieved beyond belief.

They being speculating as to who is in the Top 3:

“Fabio, Chris, and…who’s the other guy?” Ven says.
“Gunnar,” Dmitry says.

Okay, this is a world of wrong in so many ways I don’t know where to begin.
First, he forgot Gunnar’s name? The guy’s name is Gunnar Deatherage, for God's sake, not Bob Smith. It’s kinda catchy!
Also, Ven obviously doesn’t even remember what this what’s-his-name guy designed and yet he STILL picks him to beat out the women?
Sexist. Pig. 

Turns out they mixed things up a bit this week and there are 4 designers on top and two on the bottom.
They go down the line:

Fabio: On top! He has designed a dress with a “lot of legs.”
Christopher: On top! “Tasteful and elegant.”
Melissa: On top! “The right fabric on the right dress.” (The saga of that fabric deserved its own Lifetime movie: "Why Can't You Let Me Love You? A Fabric's Lament.")
Gunnar: On the bottom! “I’ve seen this dress. I don’t need to see it again.”
Elena: On top! “Nice balance of art and commerce”

Upon hearing that she’s on top, Elena completely breaks down, which is only noteworthy because Heidi seems actively AMUSED by Elena’s tears.
“You seem to be surprised,” she says, ironically, as Elena convulsively weeps before her. “Why? You struggled with this challenge? You weren’t expecting this?”
Oh Heidi, don’t change.

Heidi is unmoved

Anyway, poor Alicia has done the math. She’s on bottom. But first she has to defend her dress, which she does in the diffident, bummed out manner of someone who knows they’re screwed.
“You were one of the judges least favorites,” Heidi informs her, relishing the moment.
“It’s a field hockey uniform,” says Michael Kors.

Now, deliberation time.
And Christopher wins!

So it’s down to Gunnar and Alicia. 

Extra big gap because 4 on-top designers were between them

Let me say this: If I could’ve paused the show at that moment and called my bookie, I would’ve put my life savings (all three figures!) on Gunnar being safe.
I mean, I knew Alicia was going home. You knew Alicia was going home. Alicia knew Alicia was going home.
It was a mere technicality at this point.

“Alicia, you are…SAFE,” Heidi says.
What the…?

Alicia goes to the greenroom and you can tell that everyone is trying to be nice to her, while secretly bummed and shocked that Gunnar is getting the boot.

But not to worry, kids: Heidi has one last trick up her sleeve.
“Gunnar, you are also safe,” she says.

Squee! Rejoice! Happy dance!

Laughing at us for thinking Gunnar was going home

“How fantastic is this?” gushes Tim. “How happy is everybody?”

Or, as Gunnar puts it: “I would’ve liked for it to have been knocked down one designer. But since I’m the one who would’ve gone home, I’m really stoked that we still have nine. At least for today.”

Next week: Team Challenge!
And Dmelena is paired up! (Ah, let the lustful hate sparks fly!)
And Sonjia’s whack headband reappears!
Something tells me this bland week was an outlier.

Now, off to watch Dirty Harry make an empty chair’s day.

Chair photo courtesy

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ven Diagrammed: The Project Runway recap

This photo will double as a nice dart board

Gather round, children, hold hands, form a semi-circle, and let us all bask in our hatred of Ven together.
There can be some sort of  hate-chant involved.
It will be cleansing.

Yup, with one show, Ven has officially become Project Enemy No. 1, the Todd Akin of reality fashion TV. (And yeesh, this was the one place I was sure I could avoid the War Against Women. Is nothing sacred?)

We’d all secretly suspected that Ven was an ass—but no one could’ve possibly anticipated the extreme levels of asshood. This is advanced stuff, people. Jeffrey “penis neck” Sebelia (Season 3 winner) bows down to his asshood.

Okay, let’s take it from the top.

Heidi comes on stage with a bunch of semi-stylish but very “real” (whatever that means) looking people.

The designers collectively gasp, as though there isn’t a frickin’ "design for real people" challenge every season.

But there’s a twist: The designers won’t be designing for this bunch but for their fashion-challenged friends, who will be getting a total makeover.

(BTW, an aside: I’ve already established my love of Sonjia and her funky fresh style. But if she was my BFF, we’d have a little fashion intervention on those oversized babydoll head bands. For reals.)

What I'm talking about

Now. .. if Project Runway was super evil, they’d have the designers pick their clients based solely on their impressions of the friend.
Then the mind-fuck could truly begin: Would the stylish attractive woman have the most attractive friend—or the least attractive friend? Would the skinny guy with glasses have a lookalike girlfriend? Or would he go the whole Jack Sprat route?
But they are mercifully spared this kind of guessing game. Clients are randomly assigned.

And, as real people are wont to do, the clients come in all shapes and sizes. Some are skinny, some are fat. Some are tall, some are short.
It’s called the HUMAN ANATOMY, people.

The clients also have very particular ideas about what they like and don’t like:

There’s Melissa’s client Kandace, who really like things that match.

There’s Alicia’s client, Martina, who wants “men to want to marry me and women to want to be me.” LOLOL. No pressure there, Alicia.

We have Elena’s client, Jenna, who wants to dress like a THIS parachute, for reasons not quite clear.

Nathan’s client Liana, is an R&B singer who wants her midriff out, but doesn’t want to be overly sexualized.
(So, she’s looking for a tasteful bare midriff. Riiiiight.)

“Is she going to wear shapewear?” Tim Gunn says, peering at Nathan’s dress form. “Because otherwise, you’re going to have a really vulgar moment happening.”
(And, yes I am putting that line in my Big Book of Handy Tim Gunn Phrases. Sample usage: “Should I wear these torn fishnets to the club tonight?” “Only if you want a really vulgar moment happening.”)

Fabio has quite possibly the cutest client of all: Ko-Rely (dafuq?): An Asian girl who dresses like a Brooklyn hipster. A male Brooklyn hipster, that is.
“I just don’t want to be sexualized, you know?” she says. No worries there, Juno.

And then we have the yin and yang of this week’s episode.
We have Gunnar Deatherage, who really is just the sweetest Gunnar Deatherage he could possibly be, isn’t he?
His client Kim, is a large and in charge woman with a great smile.
Her faithful BFF wants her to have a big look that matches her big personality.

“I make clothing for regular women that want to look great,” says Gunnar. (Just imagine that quote surrounded by hearts, unicorns, and rainbows in my mind.)

“I’m going to make you into a fox,” he promises her. (More hearts.)

Anyway Kim is so excited about this makeover, she starts to cry and then Gunnar hugs her and then I’m crying. It’s all very emotional.

Kim and Gunnar 4Evah!!!!

Feel the love

Then—feel free to boo, hiss, and throw tomatoes—we have Ven.
His client, Terri, a mother of two, needs business casual.

“When I first see Terri I’m in shock,” says Ven. “I’m very disappointed. These women have wide waist lines and hip lines so this is definitely a challenge.” 

How DARE she have hips?

(At least, thank God for small favors, there was no talk of secretions.)

So Tim Gunn comes into the studio and Ven airs his grievances, yet again.

Ven: “I was in shock. I’ve never worked with a plus-size before."
Tim: “What size is she?”
Ven: “Ohmygod, I’m thinking around 14.”
Tim (befuddled): “That’s just on the cusp.”
Ven: “She’s not fashion forward. My client doesn’t really have a shape. The before picture is definitely a nightmare.”

Oh god. Where. To. Begin.
First of all Ven, look in the mirror, buddy. I didn’t nickname you Buddha because of your washboard abs.
Second of all, you condescending piece of shit. How dare you judge this woman? How DARE YOU? (Ahem.)

I literally could not hate him more at this point.

“Also, there’s her age,” Ven says. “She’s almost 40.”

I stand corrected.

This challenge may be bringing out the worst in Ven, but it’s bringing out the best in Elena. She loves her client and is in a good mood and actually—gasp—smiles.

“This is the first time I see Elena be nice to somebody so it’s about time.- Dmitry.

Dmelena Lives!!!

Anyway, it’s not enough that Ven insult his client behind her back. He starts to insult her to her face.

He starts talking about how he’s dressing her in black because it’s “slimming.” Then he tells her how “surprised” he was that she looked beautiful after her L’Oreal makeover. (That’s Ven’s idea of a compliment.) “Thanks,” she says, sarcastically.
Then he starts trying to wrap these tiny little belts—made for models, mind you—around her waist. And then he makes her cry.

That was when my hate-on for Ven soared to new heights.
I wanted to start smearing his bald pate with shampoo, saying, “Why isn’t this shampoo making your hair clean?”
Then I wanted to rip off Gunnar’s skinny jeans and try to cram Ven’s lard ass into then. “Why aren’t Gunnar’s skinny jeans buttoning on you, Ven?”

Okay, I’m getting all worked up again. Need to hold hands in the hate circle. BRB.

Meanwhile, everyone in the studio is giving Ven the stinkeye. Christopher’s mouth literally drops open, as it does. He’s like a silent film star.
Everybody seems to know what an ass Ven is being . . . except Ven.

Runway day:
Guest judge is British designer Alice Temperley, for what it’s worth.

It was very cute to see the non-professional models strut their stuff down the runway.
A few of them got their model stank face on.
A few giggled adorably as they galumphed down the catwalk (that’s how I would do it).
Terri, Gunnar’s client, absolutely WORKED IT OUT.
Christopher’s client had a tiny issue with the jacket.
(“I spent 8 and a half hours on this jacket and she ripped it off and held it in a ball.”)
One client stopped and randomly posed like a weathervane at the end of her catwalk. (Not totally sure why.)

Anyway, the top 3 are Dmitry, whose dress really was smart and stylish, but—just between you and me—I found it a little dull. 

Solid but unspectacular

Gunnar, whose Top 3 appearance was obviously fueled by ANGELS. 

And Fabio, who made this awesome cool-girl dress that everyone and their hipster sister now wants, including me. 

Get in my closet, dress!

And the winner is: Fabio!
And the best part? He’s going to celebrate his big win by SHAVING HIS BEARD!!! (I wish.)

Bottom 3 are Nathan, Sonjia, and Ven.
No mystery here: Nathan is toast.

His clients are already subconsciously distancing themselves from him

But Heidi has a little fun at Ven’s expense. (Go Heidi, go!)

“One, or more of you will be going home,” she says.

Sonjia is safe!
Nathan is toast!

And now it’s just Ven alone on that stage, twisting in the wind.
“You didn’t do your client any favors,” Heidi scolds. But he’s—sigh—in.

(By the way, they could’ve totally had a heartwarming, Extreme Home Makeover moment by having Michael Kors offer to make Terri a dress. Seriously, it’s the least the damn show could’ve done after putting her through that hell. Get your shit together, show!)

Anyway, it’s clear that Ven just got a valuable lesson in humility. I’m sure we’re going to see a whole new side of him.

“Honestly I don’t think I should’ve been the last person there,” Ven says. “I think there were some weak looks.” (*Record scratching sound*)


As for Nathan. We’ll miss him, but luckily he can now resume his career as the lead singer of 80s hip-hop band, Digital Underground.

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Evil Goes to Eleven: Thoughts on Breaking Bad

At the end of Season 4, we found out that Walter White was willing to sacrifice the life of a child to sustain his own meth business and come out on top in his lethal power struggle with Gus Fring. At that moment, his transformation from meek chemistry teacher to villainous drug kingpin was complete. 

It was positively chilling. 

I said at the time that the series could’ve ended with that episode. Frankly, nothing I’ve seen in Season 5 has convinced me otherwise.

Because what really do you do once your hero has become evil? If you’re Vince Gilligan, the brilliant visionary behind Breaking Bad, you make him evil-er.
The idea, of course, from the start was that Walter White was a meek man who was sick of being meek, who—once confronted with his own imminant death and freed from the shackles of polite society—was able to transform into a diabolical criminal. 

Gilligan isn’t necessarily suggesting that all men have the capacity for this kind of wickedness. But it’s key to the show’s worldview that Walt is an everyman—a good guy, who loves  his family, tries to do the right thing, but, like so many 21st century males, has had some long-simmering disappointments in his life and feels emasculated by circumstance. 

At first, the idea that Walt was perceived in drug circles as this folkloric boogeyman named Heisenberg was supposed to be a joke. Walt was a pussycat! He wouldn't hurt a fly! (Well, except for that one time. . . ) But it's no joke anymore. Walt is Heisenberg and Heisenberg is Walt.

But here's the thing: I’m beginning to find all of this tiresome. (There, I said it!) It’s almost like every episode now is devoted to illustrating just how badly Walt has broken. In one episode he essentially rapes  his wife (yes, Rep. Akin, a husband can rape a wife.) In another episode, he threatens longtime ally Saul Goodman. In another episode, he pretends to be a consoling father figure to his partner Jesse, while he's secretly covering his own nefarious wrongdoings.

And yet somehow, we’re supposed to be surprised, chilled to the very bone—holy shit, look at his cold, dead eyes!—every time Walt does something vicious and irredeemable. 

Last night’s episode, the whole Walter-White-is-evil thing really went into overdrive when he whistled merrily after being party to yet another cold-blooded murder of yet another child. 

Whistling after you murder a child isn’t just calculated. It’s psychopath stuff. So is Vince Gilligan saying that Walt is a psychopath, that there’s something instrinsic that makes him so bad? If so, Walt loses some of his Willy-Loman-as-druglord appeal—and the show loses much of its resonance.

Friday, August 17, 2012

One Way Monkey: The Project Runway recap

The sewing machine next to Christopher is the best place to be!!!

It’s too bad that Raul wasn’t good at this whole “designin’” thing because he served a lot of functions. 

First of all, there was his white-hot hatred of Elena, always good for a few laughs.

Then there was the short-lived, non-starter “I do menswear” drinking game. (As the sole judge, officiator, and creator of this game, I hereby decree that last night’s “I’m good at making pants” was worthy of a drink—at least in my house it was.)

But his greatest function? He had a crush on Christopher.

When you think of it, there have been very few hook-ups, crushes, and love triangles on Project Runway. I remember that the adorable Little Lord Fauntleroy-like Daniel and Wesley (of Season 5?) became an item. I always “shipped” Andre and Santino, but I don’t think anything actually happened there. Even this season’s promising lust-filled hate glares between Christopher and Gunnar seems to have receded. I guess they’re all so exhausted they barely have time to eat and sleep, let alone get busy.

But when it was time to pick teams for the Marie Claire Work challenge, Christopher got to pick third and he, reasonably enough, picked Fabio. 

And Raul was hurt and shocked. Because la-la-la, he CAN’T HEAR YOU, Christopher loves him back. And also, la-la-la, HE CAN’T HEAR YOU, Raul’s awesome at desigin’ stuff. 

Two other intriguing highlights from the team choices. 

Why on earth did Sonjia pick Elena? Has she met her? I mean, I guess Elena has some skillz, but she’s also the most toxic human being in the studio (and fan favorite!!). Weird.
“I’d rather eat dirt than work with Elena,” said Gunnar. He always has the mot juste.

Also, did anyone catch that glorious moment when Nathan chose Ven and Ven said, and I quote: “Good choice.”
Dude. Kanye West called. He wants his ego back.

Anyway, the cleverly named Team 5 and Team 6 (they've just stopped trying at this point) went like this:
Team 5 is Christopher, Gunnar, Ven, Nathan, and Fabio

a.k.a The Chiffonies

Team 6 is Alicia, Dmitry, Elena, Melissa, Raul, and Sonjia

Surprisingly high functioning hot messes

Back at the studio, the saddest thing ever happens. They find Kooan’s giant, whimsical comb.
Apparently, in his haste to leave the show, he has left his beloved comb behind. 
“He’s probably going insane looking for this,” says Chris, sympathetically.
A moment of silence for Kooan's giant whimsical comb.

So, as is often the case with these team challenges, there’s a bit of misdirection.
Except for Gunnar sulking about fabric choices, Team 5 seems to getting along famously. So they’re a lock to win, right?

Meanwhile, Team 6 is a disaster site.
First, they forget a bag of wool at Mood.
Then, Elena is bossing everyone around in that drill sergeant/Gordon Ramsay/Ukrainian dominatrix way of hers.
Then Raul decides that he’s so awesome, he should do his own thing. And his thing is ruffles, bitches!
“Raul doesn’t have a team work ethic,” says Elena. I agree. (*Runs off to vote for her for Fan Favorite*) (JK).

So Team 6 is destined to lose, right? (Hmmm.)

I kinda love that Team 6 dubbed Team 5 “The Chiffonies”—because it sounds like an fabulous Motown all-girl group and also underscores a certain unspoken something about fashion—that men don’t always know what women actually want to wear. For example, the last time I wore silk chiffon to work was in 20NEVER.

(That being said, Elena singing the “Silk Chiffonie” song in Christopher’s face was just flat-out rude.)

“Everybody hates Elena,” says Dmitry. “Even if they say they like her, they hate her.”
Maybe my new couple to ship is Dmelena! (Elenitry?) You can’t hate someone that much without a little lust creeping in.

Actually, this was the episode I kinda fell in love with Dmitry, because later he said this:
     “I think Ven is a one-way monkey.” Then he kind of screwed up his face and corrected himself: “I mean, one trick pony.”
One Way Monkey! Best band name ever—or greatest band name ever?

At the photo shoot, Elena makes it clear: She does NOT work with props. (Somewhat surprising for a dominatrix.)
And because Elena likes clean lines and doesn’t like models to sit in chairs looking like they are taking huge dumps, Team 6 does not use props.

Tension neck aches for everyone!

Runway time.
Joanna Coles is the guest judge. She’s always good for at least one Dismisses-Your-Entire-Design-Aesthetic-and-Possibly-Your-Entire-Existence ™ with one withering comment moment, so bring it on.

Elena is actually an amateur

Problem is, everything is pretty nice.
Even Gunnar’s outfit with the droopy boobs (“Two puppies wrestling in a sack” says Coles) isn’t really that bad.
I did hate the enormous Grace Jones shoulders on Elena’s jacket. And Raul’s ruffles confirmed that I only like ruffles on potato chips.
Loved Melissa’s dress, Christopher’s whole outfit, Sonjia’s blue pencil skirt...


And it’s an unprecedented . . .TIE!

The judges want to see the teams one by one.

First Team 5:

“Who was the weakest of your group?” Heidi asks Fabio.
“I will tell you the strongest: Ven,” Fabio says.
This confused Heidi (and me): “He should go home because he’s the strongest?”
    No, Fabio tries to explain that he wasn’t going to fall into Heidi’s “who’s the weakest of the bunch” negativity trap, so he picked the strongest link.
So Heidi moved down the line.
Who was the weakest, Ven?
Who was the weakest, Christopher?
Who was the weakest,  Nathan?
Now was that really THAT hard?

Now Team 6 comes on stage.

Who’s the weakest? Heidi asks. (She’s really such a little shit-stirrer, isn’t she?)

“I think Raul should go home because he doesn’t even know how to put darts in a shirt. His construction is horrible. And I think that he should go home.” -Elena
But who do you think should go home, Elena?

In the end, Team 6 gets their looks in noted fashion magazine (that no one has ever heard of) Marie Claire Works and Melissa wins! Yay!

(Also gaining on Elena for Fan Favorite, incidentally)

And it comes down to Raul and Gunnar and Raul is OUT (again).

Somehow, he has decided to blame Elena for his downfall.
“I hate your ass,” he says to her.
Then he turns to the rest of the gang: “Get her the [bleep] out of here. She needs to be out of here.”

Keep it classy, Raul

Looks like Raul is once again a one-way monkey: And this monkey's one way is OUT THE DOOR. *Holds up hand for imaginary high fives from all of you*

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gone Girl, Interrupted


For the most part, I loved Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. More than loved. I idolized it. I didn't just read it, I devoured it. And I appreciated it on two levels: As a rapt reader simply sucked in by brilliant story telling. And as a critic, in awe of the plotting, the wit, the ingenuity, the air tight logic of it all.

The character of Amy (the "Gone Girl" of the title) is a patient planner—indeed, patience, along with brilliance, is her great strength. She plays the long game. 

So, clearly, does Flynn. The fact that for the first half of the book, we read Nick's first person voice but still don't know if he's the killer—imagine the discipline to pull off such a feat!
The fact that our first impressions of Amy are all manufactured—that we meet two Amys, the spunky, but deflated "cool girl" of her diary's creation and the righteously angry sociopath of the novel's second half—is pure genius. (The fact that, until she completely went off the rails, I mostly liked the second Amy—even knowing that she was trying to frame her husband for murder—is also attributable to Flynn's gifts.)

I have many questions for Flynn: How did you map out the plot, the voices? Did you use post-it notes? A computer program? How long did it take to plan? How elaborate was the schematics of it all?

But my biggest question for Flynn: Why do you hate women?

Because Amy is not just a garden variety sociopath. She is a manipulative black widow, who lures men into her web. She is a liar, a castrator (figuratively speaking), and a murderer (literally speaking). And then, in the end of the book, she traps her husband Nick with her womb.

I swear, I almost could've lived with Amy being a murderer and a devious sociopath because, hey, she wasn't representing all women (although the title to this book is notably Gone Girl—not Amy's Gone).

But in fiction, as well as in politics, once the womb gets involved, then things start getting tricky. One of the oldest misogynist cautionary tales is of women trapping men, ruining them with pregnancy. Using their womanhood, their very ability to give life against men.

Now, if Nick had actually had sex with Amy at the end of the novel all bets might've been off. You spooge you lose, you might say. But they didn't have sex. She froze his sperm. Not because Amy had any maternal instincts of her own (another misogynist trope) but because she knew one day that sperm might come in handy. Indeed it did. (Nick, by contrast, was desperate to become a dad. It was his heart's deepest wish.)

The thing that sucked? I actually loved the real Amy's thoughts on the "cool girl" (a variation on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl that we see in film) and how she is a fantasy, a projection of the male imagination. Basically Amy accuses women of being accomplices in this fantasy—pretending not to care if he comes home late and drunk, pretending to like both chili dogs, video games AND hot sex, pretending to be laid back and okay that he's a slob who forgets anniversaries—all because it's some idealized female stereotype that both men and women choose to perpetuate.

I thought there was a kind of genius to that: That both Nick and Amy were steeped in deception: Nick's compulsive need to be a good guy and Amy's compulsive need to please him.

THAT'S a book I could've read: About the false self we create and how it can collapse on us. In many ways, that's the book Gone Girl is. (Flynn also writes, brilliantly, about how a generation saturated in pop culture has a hard time being in touch with the authentic self: How is Nick supposed to react when Amy goes missing? Wait, how do the guilty guys on Law and Order always behave?)

But why is the phrase "psycho bitch" uttered so many damn times in this book? If Nick's biggest fear is becoming his misogynistic father, why give Nick a pretty great damn reason to BE A misogynist? When Nick calls Amy a cunt, when Nick wants to kill her, how can we actually blame him? (Yes, Nick cheated on Amy. But cheating is hardly the same as framing for murder and murdering. And don't forget, Flynn gives us ample evidence that Amy has been falsely accusing and framing people her whole life.)

So what the hell is Gillian Flynn driving at here?

I'm left with these questions: How'd you write such a wickedly entertaining book, Gillian Flynn? And what the hell is your damage, girl?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Premature Evacuation: The Project Runway recap

Kooan, 2 minutes after he quit the show

Do you ever go to a dinner party and the hostess comes out and says, “Who wants a second piece of pie?” and everyone looks at each other, because taking a second piece of pie would sort of be piggish, but then one person raises their hand and gamely says, “I do!” and then suddenly everyone else is like, “What the hell. You only live once!” and the next thing you know, everybody has a second piece of pie?

Such it was last night on Project Runway. It was like once Andrea led the way, made it acceptable, within the realm of possibility to exit the show, the floodgates opened. Next Kooan decided to leave and then Nathan admitted he wanted to leave and I began to wonder if by the end of this little group convo, it was just going to be Tim, Christopher and Ven standing in a small circle, shrugging at each other.

At first, of course, everyone had to process the news of Andrea’s nocturnal departure—in the most judgmental way possible.

“I just don’t think it’s right to quit like that” – Buffi
“It was a poor example, especially since she’s a teacher” – Ven
“It’s kind of lame.” – Andrea
“She took the coward’s way out” – Gunnar.
“How could she do this to me?” – Christopher

Okay, so Christopher didn’t actually say that, but he basically did. Earlier in the show he admitted that he had pushed Andrea in front of a bus (a reality TV first? Many a contestant has claimed to be the pushee, but how many have admitted they were the pusher?)
Then he felt guilty and mopey and mournful about the whole thing—even more mopey and mournful than usual, which is saying a lot about Christopher, whose default state is “Adorable Melancholia.”
“It’s like a joke is being played on me,” Christopher said (mournfully). Yes, I’m sure that was Andrea’s intent.

Anyway, this was all the encouragement Kooan needed. You know those velvet paintings of crying clowns? Kooan is like that—except he’s an Asian guy with an Afro. But basically, he wants to be a laughing clown, not a crying clown, so he was all, “Peace out.”
(What was weird was how calm and resolute—dare I even say mature?—he was about the whole decision. Everyone else is crying and gnashing their teeth and Kooan is like, “My decision is final. Be at peace, my friends.” And then, just as he left, as if the weight of the whole series had been spontaneously lifted off his shoulders, he let out a chirpy, gleeful “Make it Work!” and he scampered off to Magic SuperFun Rainbow Land, or wherever the hell it is that he lives.)

Then Nathan also wants to leave. And this was when I thought the garment that is Project Runway was really going to unravel—leaving Tim Gunn and Christopher and Ven holding one long thread.

“Are the rest of you read to move forward and make it work?” Tim said, doing his version of a locker room pep talk.
“Uh, yeah,” came the response.

(I don’t know about you guys, but I was ready to run through a wall after that!)

Cooler heads did eventually prevail and the mass exodus was avoided.
Nathan stayed (and I’m glad because, although I can’t remember a single thing he’s designed, I love his personal style) and Raul came back. 

Cute get-up

“I’m back bitches,” Raul said. (Because that is the kind of sassy thing you must say when you’re on a reality TV fashion show. )
“You’re a lucky ho,” said Christopher. (Ibid)

The challenge this week is to create a look for a woman on the go that is stylish and fashionable and comfortable.

“Think about wrinkles. And the fact that you don’t want them,” said Tim. (He really is the Yoda of fashion isn’t he?)

So not too much drama in the studio:
Ven, for some reason, has a major hate-on for Raul, which I don’t completely get. It’s not like Raul is any kind of threat to him.
Christopher tried to help Buffi by suggesting that she take her useless hot pink toga/tunic thingy and make it a useless black toga/tunic thingy. Then he was mopey, mournful and adorably melancholic when she was offended by his suggestion.

On the runway, Heidi Klum came out dressed as Wilma Flintstone for reasons unclear.

Then she introduced the judges: MK, Nina, Hayden Panettiere and Rachel Roy.
This made me laugh because obviously Hayden doesn’t have the fashion chops to be a judge on her own. (Rachel Roy was the equivalent of the seasoned waiter tagteaming it with the “trainee" at a diner.)

"This is how judges sit, Hayden"

The strangest thing that happened on the runway was I found out that MK and Nina like Fabio’s personal style. I look at Fabio and think to myself, “I see you underneath all those layers of crap, Fabio. Somewhere, buried beneath that long beard and those do-rags and dashikis and hipster Tzitzis is a beautiful man. Groom thyself. ” And Michael Kors thinks he has fabulous style? (Whose teams are you on, MK? You disappoint me.)

Shave, remove 4 accessories and we can talk

(Another aside: How on earth is effin’ #TeamElena winning the fan vote on Twitter? I strongly doubt that members of Elena’s immediate family actually like her.)


So the Top 3 were Christopher, Dmitry, and my girl Sonjia.
And the Bottom 3 were Buffi, Fabio, and Raul.

I was actually glad that Ven, who did another one of his uber-tasteful, architectural designs, wasn’t in the Top 3. Yes, Ven, you are the Michael Phelps of draping. Now do something different, dammit!!!

And Sonjia wins! Sonjia wins! And Hayden Panettiere wants to wear her design and you can see Sonjia thinking, “Should I debase my design by letting her wear it?” (Just kidding. She was stoked.)

And Buffi is out. Darn it. I loved me some Buffi and her “an 80s vintage store barfed on me” style.

Buffi was slayed

But I knew they weren’t going to bring Raul back just to jettison him again. (Although really Raul? You thought the blue suede pumps and the hot pink clutch were a good idea to add to your already hideously cluttered get-up?)

I loved Buffi’s attitude in departure though:
“I’m going to be more crazy and tacky and glittery and colorful than ever.”

Or, in other words: Take your good taste and shove it, Project Runway!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Just For Women: The Project Runway recap

Kenley and Ven sharing a private moment. (Also pictured, Fabio)
Due to overwhelming and relentless peer pressure—mostly from members of my immediate family—I’ve decided to dip my big toe back into the recap pool this season.

Before I recap last night’s eppy, a few general observations from the first 2 shows.

Is there an official Project Runway haircut for guys now? Like some sort of reality TV military, except instead of giving you a buzzcut, they shave the sides of your head and give you a hipster pompadour, ironic beard optional?
It’s odd. But it only adds to the hilarious sense that Gunnar and Christopher—the Betty White and Bea Arthur of this season’s competition—are doppelgangers of each other. (Should those two just do it already, or what?)

Stray thoughts on some other contestants:

Kooan Kosuke seems less like a Project Runway contestant and more like one of those oddballs who auditions for American Idol and becomes a YouTube phenomenon for a few weeks.

The minute I laid eyes on Dmitry Sholokhov I thought: Somewhere, there’s a Russian Olympic ice dance team missing its ice master. Okay, close enough. The guy’s a former ballroom dancer. And straight out of central casting.

I love that Ven Budhu’s name is Ven Budhu because he looks like Buddha. But I was shocked that he’s only 28. I would’ve guessed 2,345 at least.
(Also, he’s obviously a talented designer—Lord knows, he’ll be the first to tell you—but he has that kind of tasteful, safe design aesthetic that Michael Kors and Nina Garcia always go for. Yawn.)
(Conversely, Buffi’s loud, poppy, Harajuku girl style stuff is exactly what the judges hate. Her time on this show is clearly limited. A shame, cause I love that crazy, leopard spotted beotch.)

As for Andrea Katz: She must have some photos of the Project Runway staff key party or somethin’. How else to explain how her button candy apron didn’t land her in the bottom 3? (Has anyone else ever designed an apron for Project Runway? What’s next? A dish towel?)

Oh Sonjia is my early favorite, just cause I love her blue hair and funky fresh style.

Okay, onto last night’s show:
God, there was almost something comforting when Tim Gunn announced, “The color of the Lexus SM vehicle you’re assigned to must be incorporated into your design.”
Don’t ever change, Project Runway. Don’t ever change.

So this week, the designers were paired up to make a gown for the Emmys.

This didn’t sit well with the Eastern European contingent.

“I don’t like to work with anyone.  Who does?” said Elena.

“When it comes to my work I’m a little bit of a control freak. But who isn’t?” said Dmitry.

It’s this kind of attitude that lost the Russians the all-around girl’s gymnastics medal at the Olympics, people.

The whole gown thing also didn’t sit well with Raul because, in case you hadn’t heard the first 45 times he told us, he designs menswear. (With his ouster this week, a short-lived “I design menswear” drinking game has gone by the wayside.)

In a cool twist, they were designing for former Project Runway all-stars. Nice one.

Here were the teams:

Buffi and Elena
Designing for: Laura

Christopher and Andrea
Designing for: Anya

Raul and Alicia  
Designing for: Mila

Gunnar and Kooan
Designing for Irina (LOLOLOLOL)

Melissa and Dmitry
Designing for April

Sonjia and Nathan
Designing for Valerie

Ven and Fabio
Designing for Kenley

Gunnar saw this challenge for what it was: A big fat trap.
“The hardest person to impress in fashion is a fucking fashion designer,” he noted, accurately.

That being said, probably the most disappointing thing about last night’s show was the fact that Kenley liked her dress. Because hell hath no fury like a pissed off Kenley.  Damn Ven and all his annoying. . .talent.

It must be exhausting to be Kenley

I also expected Irina to be more of a nightmare, but except for one brief moment when she almost brought Kooan to tears, she was pretty mellow. (Didn’t you get the sense though that she “helped” with the design? One minute that dress had a puckered butt line. The next minute it had a clever strip of flowy fabric in the back. I call shenanigans). (Also, cute get-up Gunnar. Did you recently take in a screening of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, by any chance?)

"I fixed this shit"-Irina

“For some reason I feel sad not happy,” Kooan said at one point. “I work well when I’m happy.” (If this whole Project Runway thing doesn’t pan out, Kooan should host one of those weekend TV shows that work really well both for small children and for adults on acid.)

It was also funny to see the likes of Anya and Mila in horrible dresses. They’re both so impeccable in their own personal styles and to see Mila galumphing down the runway in Raul and Alicia’s monstrosity, her bitchface set to stun, and boho chic goddess Anya, looking like a cocktail waitress at the HoJo lounge in 1976, well it was hard to take.
"I Hate My Life"

Speaking of Anya. . .yup: Christopher and Andrea blew it.
I definitely love Christopher, I think he’s talented and adorbs, but I also see him as super passive aggressive.
Have you noticed that nothing is EVER his fault? He’s always the one rolling his eyes and reacting to sassy Gunnar—while shooting him smoldering glares of lust-filled hatred—and this week, he “respected” Andrea too much to tell her to move her ass. Uh huh.
Yes Christopher, sitting and seething with resentment is always the most productive way to get things done. (And led to the inevitable battle royale on the runway—with tears, recriminations, pointed fingers, hurt feelings, the works.)

And oh God, could there be two less compatible people than Buffi and Elena? (Make that three less compatible people than Buffi, Elena, and Laura Bennett?)
Friends for Life!!!

Just looking at Elena, with her terrifying, humorless Soviet work ethic, makes me tense.
Also, what’s up with her hair? She literally looks like a different (nicer) person when she has bangs. The bangs are for the playful happy side of Elena. The severe pulled back style is for the crazed, prison-warden-at-a-gulag Elena. #TeamBangs

Runway time. And the guest is Krysten Ritter from Don’t Trust the B. . .oh, who am I trying to kid, she was Jesse’s crackhead girlfriend in Breaking Bad!!! Squee!!!

Not one of the dresses is a complete success, if you ask me.
I do like Kenley’s dress, but it’s too short for the Emmys.

I actually thought Buffi and Elena pulled it off with Laura’s dress. Who woulda thunk?

Totally thought Dmitry and Melissa were going to be in the top with that flowy Grecian goddess number. (Not my bag, but the construction was solid.)

So miraculously, Gunnar and Kooan are in the Top 2 (seriously saved by that choker—sorry, that Lord & Taylor accessory wall choker—if you ask me) along with Fabio and Ven.
It was pretty amazing how deftly Ven combined his aesthetic with Kenley’s.
As for Fabio, no one really knows what his aesthetic is. Probably a bad sign.

I truly think Fabio and Ven won because nothing better came down the runway. Not the most auspicious of showings.

Oh yeah, Raul got sent home, where he’ll open up a store called Just Menswear.

Next week: Shit hits the motherfreakin' fan, people!