Project Runway: Still Making It Work

Austin + model, Project Runway, Season 1, Episode 1

During a snowstorm, I came across the first season of Project Runway in its initial run.The show had been a poor performer on Bravo, but a savvy new executive had arrived and ordered the show to be relentlessly rerun during the holidays, a prime time for TV channel-surfing.

The strategy worked: the show became a smash hit and transformed Bravo into the monied reality show network it is today. But the partnership with Bravo was not to last—after extensive litigation, the show moved to Lifetime starting with season 8.

When it launched, PR was a new type of reality show featuring competitors who were craftspeople: they could manipulate fabric into fashion according to their personal taste and construction skills. They were like the mice in Cinderella, creating fantasy dresses on command.

It is amazing (and entertaining) to watch a designer in an inspired moment. By giving someone a design challenge, you are giving that person limits, forcing him or her to push “outside of their comfort zone” and apply his or her skills to untraditional materials (raw parts from a car), a limited amount of material (whatever you are wearing), specific elements of design (awful fashion trend from the past), or a designated silhouette (swimsuit). Some of the most “limiting” challenges has led to the most striking fashion: Austin’s corn husk dress (grocery store challenge), Leanne’s rubber minidress and Korto’s woven seatbelt coat (the aforementioned car part challenge).

The PR winner is not always the one who shines throughout the season; Season 1 victor Jay didn’t win any of the challenges (not even for the Chrysler Building dress!). Some of the most consistently outstanding designers make it to Fashion Week, only to disappoint with the final collection—having no limits can be a detriment. There’s also the pressure to come up with several looks dedicated to one theme while being “fashion-forward”: on trend but not derivative, unique but not costume-y.

Snap prediction for season 9 final 3: Bert, Danielle, Anthony.

Another Project Runway: All-Stars special is in the works. Curious. I wasn’t pleased with the result of the first one—poor Korto. It seemed unfairly stacked in Daniel V.’s favor.

Favorite designers: Jay McCarroll, Austin, Chloe, Kara Janx, Mychael, Christian, Rami, Leanne, Korto, Maya.


Blogging Project Runway

Tom & Lorenzo

Tim Gunn’s Facebook page

From his early podcasts to his “Tim’s Take” videos and blog posts, Tim has remained active in sharing his thoughts with fans throughout the show’s run. For the past few seasons, he has posted his episode commentary videos on his Facebook page, and I hope that has not changed now that he is a producer (one hopes that now he has less to criticize in terms of the editing). Tim’s insider opinions on PR are insightful and diverting, offering behind-the-scenes revelations and hilariously on-point commentary. Tim’s eloquence and lack of filter is gold.

Poet Ron Silliman is a Project Runway fan and blogs about the show. Love it.

This is Poetry: Louise Gluck

Louise Gluck (photo: Gasper Tringale)

I read Louise Glück’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection The Wild Iris years ago and loved it, but this particular poem did not strike me until I came across it in a workshop last summer.


comes into the world unwelcome
calling disorder, disorder—

If you hate me so much
don’t bother to give me
a name: do you need
one more slur
in your language, another
way to blame
one tribe for everything—

as we both know,
if you worship
one god, you only need
one enemy—

I’m not the enemy.
Only a ruse to ignore
what you see happening
right here in this bed,
a little paradigm
of failure.  One of your precious flowers
dies here almost every day
and you can’t rest until
you attack the cause, meaning
whatever is left, whatever
happens to be sturdier
than your personal passion—

It was not meant
to last forever in the real world.
But why admit that, when you can go on
doing what you always do,
mourning and laying blame,
always the two together.

I don’t need your praise
to survive.  I was here first,
before you were here, before
you ever planted a garden.
And I’ll be here when only the sun and moon
are left, and the sea, and the wide field.

I will constitute the field.


That last line keeps ringing in my ears.

Glück teaches in the MFA program at Boston University. Hear Glück read this poem here.

Thoughts On Moving: Songs Are My Pills

It’s hitting me that I’m moving in two months.

I have to sign the English department contract. I have to make appointments with new doctors. I have to figure out what to schlep and how to get it there. Figure out what computer to buy since my Mac G4 tower is threatening to overheat and is no longer compatible with Firefox.

I have to decide which neighborhood I want to live in, what amenities are negotiable (dishwasher and in-unit laundry? one can hope), and which online apartment ads are legitimate.

I have to give notice at work.

I have to enjoy San Francisco in the summer but save money. I have to see relatives and friends, especially ones I haven’t seen in the nine months I’ve been living here, but spend as much time as possible with my nearest and dearest.

I have to eat a lot of dim sum and burritos. I have to eat In-N-Out burgers. look at the Pacific Ocean, drive down the 1 to Big Sur, drive up the 1 to Mendocino, have a fabulous meal in Napa. Finally go to the Britpop club event called Leisure, do some thrifting in the tony Pacific Heights neighborhood. Do more stairway walks. Read, but don’t overdo it.

This weekend: archery + hot dogs = a good time.

Love this song. And now it is June. Swedes are so upbeat.


Another favorite tune—it has such an aching, wistful quality that is perfect for times of change.

“Strangers in the Wind” by Cut Copy

These hands
Like strangers in the wind
These eyes
Float in the breeze
These hands
Like strangers in the wind
This voice
Calling to me
These hands
Like strangers in the wind
These eyes
Float in the breeze

Run to the lights of the city
These moments pass and we’ll be there
(And she looks good)
Run to the lights of the city
(And she looks good)
This dance will last us forever

You could stay for what you came here for
A daze is what you’re falling for
You could stay for what you came here for
A daze is what you’re falling for
You could stay for what you came here for
A daze is what you’re falling for
You could stay for what you came here for
A daze is what you’re falling for

Run to the lights of the city
These moments pass and we’ll be there
(And she looks good)
Run to the lights of the city
(And she looks good)
This dance will last us forever

This dance will last us forever
This dance will last us forever

Ohio: Where It’s At

After a false start, I will be attending graduate school this fall (gulp). It’s been several years since undergrad. I will be uprooting my life, leaving all my loved ones behind, and living in a state I never thought I would ever live. A state I had to look up on a map to figure out its exact proximity to other states.

I shouldn’t be so coastal-minded. It’s like one of those cliche romantic comedies: the big city girl moves to a small town and everyone laughs as she trips in her heels and falls into a pile of mud.

There are very few CA programs that offer fully funded MFAs—I only applied to one, unsuccessfully. I was fortunate to receive two offers with full funding and a GTA position with a livable stipend. I accepted the offer at the more established, diverse program with a lighter teaching load. I will teach composition and, eventually, poetry writing.

It’s rather scary. The thought of teaching makes me want to vomit, then faint, and I’m sure Julian Sands won’t be there to catch me in the classroom.

List of What I Enjoy Related to Ohio

– Glee


– Alissa Czisny, my favorite current U.S. ladies figure skater who had the loveliest long program last season.


– Juliana Spahr, poet and professor. I love how there is a DJ in the background—Americans need to get on board: poetry + DJ = a good time. I need to find “Dole Street” somewhere since I lost my copy.


– Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. I once delivered a package to her at her Soho studio.

– Oberlin College, because my grandmother went there on scholarship.

– Writers including Toni Morrison, Rita Dove (poem link), Michael Cunningham, and Sherwood Anderson.

– Actors including Halle Berry (when she’s not ruining my superhero icons), Drew Carey (who tells me the right price), Yvonne Craig (Bat Girl in the 60s show), Maggie Grace (Shannon from Lost), Katie Holmes (Scientology captive), Paul Newman (class act), and Sarah Jessica Parker (fabulous!).


– Musicians including Bone Thugs N Harmony, Tracy ChapmanJohn Legend, and Trent Reznor.

This song was ALWAYS bumpin’ in my high school parking lot full of low riders.


See? It won’t be so bad. I will just have to endure seasons. And lack of car and subway. But time to read and write? Getting paid to read and write (and teach)? An incredible gift. I welcome the challenges. I got this.

Straight to the Heart: My Aim Is True

Last year, I went to the New York Renaissance Faire. It is in a spectacular verdant setting, but there’s really nothing to do except buy a fairy circlet or Robin Hood hat, eat turkey legs, and drink mead.

The highlight was the archery—even though you didn’t get any prizes for it. Nevertheless, I spent about ten bucks shooting arrows into the target. It’s much more fun than darts. Back in the day, I got to experience a sort of medieval training at a Girl Scout camp in the Malibu hills, where we did archery, riflery, fencing, horseback riding, and cleaned up after animals.

“Arrow” by Tegan and Sara


Emma, Gwyneth Paltrow version, archery scene at 1:10 – gorgeous lighting


The top 5 Legolas fight scenes (YT link) in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Richard Armitage gets his cupid on: Hood Academy training screencap (courtesy of:


The Hood Academy DVD feature of Robin Hood season 1 shows the actors’ archery training which evidently became quite competitive. Richard Armitage bemusedly remarked how the best archers were not the tallest [wink]. Perhaps that’s why Guy of Gisborne likes stabbing.


I stumbled upon Marina Abramovic‘s incredible performance art retrospective (and interactive performance art piece “Sitting with Marina”) at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010. This “Rest Energy” piece caught my eye and has lingered in my mind. Marina and her collaborator Ulay are holding the bow and arrow directed towards Marina’s heart. Their heartbeats and breathing patterns are recorded on the audio.


Last month, dd favorite Sophie Ellis-Bextor finally released her latest album Make A Scene. Originally, it was called Straight to the Heart, a title I much prefer. The song itself is terrific.