March 2, 2006

"Project Runway"/my house project -- it's almost over.

Did you watch "Project Runway" last night? I did, but very late -- via TiVo -- and I was way too tired to absorb all the subtleties. Yesterday was another Trash Eve, and, though I'm down to the end of the amazing 20-years of junk, I still had to work to the limit of my (pathetic) physical capacity to get bags, recyclables, and large items out to the curb. This house project is the most difficult physical task I've ever undertaken. It's just absurd. But once started, it has to be done. And there is so much to do. I've had to put time into it every day, with Trash Eve day being the peak time of each week, the chance to move things out of the house.

And then there was another "American Idol" to get through -- 90 minutes of the damned thing, plus the necessary blogging. That was a slog of a different kind. So, I could barely watch "Project Runway," and I certainly couldn't blog about it. Anything you'd like to say about it? I'm going to have to watch it again to actually absorb it, but I'll just say:

• Santino became some sort of a tragic figure, but I can't remember exactly why, other than that he was a terribly ugly little boy. That one photograph! Yeeeshhh! I'm influenced here by how Jay McCarroll (on "Project Jay") psychoanalyzed Santino, and maybe the "Project Runway" editors themselves adopted Jay's characterization of Santino. We see Santino with his friend's family. The cute little daughter seems to love him a lot, so he can't be a monster, right? He tells us that whole monster thing he was doing is a big overcompensation for the poor little Santino inside.

• Oh, and Santino said he's read all the blogs about him! Did you read my blog, Santino?

• Chloe has seven sisters, and we see her at her family home, the walls of which are festooned with drawings and photos of the eight daughters. We learn that the family began in Laos, where they all endured a year -- or was it more? -- in family prison. In classic immigrant fashion, she doesn't dwell on the sufferings. She states the facts and moves on. Those facts speak for themselves. (Contrast the way Santino told his story -- American style, including the internal psychology, with pleas to feel for him.)

• Daniel is the one with the perfectly comfortable middle class American life with perfect parents. Notably, they are perfectly fine with the fact that he's gay. I guess we're not supposed to root for him!

• We see some of the designs they have done for Fashion Week, and this is edited to make us think Santino has the jump on the others. He's got a muddily colored billowy dress with a lot of ruffles over the abdominal area, which for some reason Tim gushes over. Chloe is made to feel all nervous because she does not work by sketching. So what? She has her methods that got her this far. Why view them as defective now? Daniel has some tightly constructed black-and-white jacket and another piece with elaborate folds in the back, but for some reason, we're supposed to think he hasn't gotten very far.

• Obviously, the editors are trying to manufacture suspense and direct our expectations. I should be better at predicting what this means about who will win. Am I supposed to think Santino is getting the "winner's edit"? I forget how that works. Don't they misdirect too?

• They spring a new task on them. They must make one more piece, which none of them is hot to do. It throws them back into the style of working that they had to put up with before they made it to the final three. It's so demeaning, but we need to wrest some good TV out of them. The best part is that it provides an opportunity to bring back all the old contestants. They file in. Did you have one that you loved the most and felt especially happy to see? For me, it's Daniel Franco. He's adorable!

• Santino, Chloe, and Daniel V. must each pick one of the eliminated contestants to work with on the final task. Daniel goes first, and I predict that he will pick Nick, and he does. Too obvious! Wouldn't you pick Nick if you went first? He's got skills, and he's a nice person. Santino is next and, as I predict, he picks Andrae. He uses his Tim Gunn voice to express his desire for Andrae. Now, Chloe must pick, and she really should pick Kara, because it's just bad that Kara has been overlooked up to this point, but Chloe goes with Diana, the sweet geek -- who left the show early on. It's nice to have her back. Santino was very mean to her, saying, behind her back, that he hated her voice. She's seen the show now and knows he said it. And we know from the reunion show that she was hurt.

• So now Diana's back, with her newly empowered voice, which I hope irritates the hell out of Santino and throws him off during the final task. Or will he actually become a good person somehow and redeem himself?

Well, I remembered more of the show than I thought I did. It's funny how writing draws things out of the recesses of the mind. What did I miss? What did I get wrong?

It's pouring snow now, here in Madison, Wisconsin. Not enough to cancel class again. It will take another 20 years before it snows that way again. My trash is looking better out there layered in white.


Dave said...

Regarding moving--I just moved from one apartment to another, and that was exhausting. I don't know how you can do a whole house.

And I'm a full grown man, presumably with more strength than most. And I still needed to get a massage when it was all said and done.

And a stiff drink.

Truly said...

Good point--can't you get someone to help you? It's an awful lot of work. Isn't that why you have sons--for manual labor?

AJD said...

The most difficult physical task you've ever undertaken?!

Wow. You've had a very easy life.

So, I'm wondering: now that the phony "Contemplating Change" charade is over --you had already decided to sell your house -- what will you be pretending to mull over next?

Can't wait!!!

Ann Althouse said...

J. Cousteau: Actually, the most difficult physical task I've undertaken is childbearing (with C-sections). But I'm not counting that. But why am I responding to you, when you're just gratuitously accusing me of lying? Sorry, I wrote that answer before I noticed you're a jerk.

Irene Done said...

Wait a minute. What happened to Project Runway talk? I love your compare/contrast of Santino's hardships with Chloe's immigrant story. Exactly right. What I love about Chloe is so she's so unaffected and level-headed you sometimes forget that there is all this creative energy boiling under the surface.

But the minute she picked Diana, I felt a sense of doom.

I don't think Chloe could have chosen Kara because (the show doesn't tell us but I'm guessing) Kara had her own decoy collection to work on. And evidently it was so good, some observers felt Kara had won.

katiebakes said...

Great point about the editing on the show, Ann. I felt like the entire show they were making it seem like Daniel's collection was terrible.

(Side note: the NY Times has an article about Project Runway today that is worth reading. You can see an example of each of the contestant's runway fashions in the photo section, and they quote someone as saying that Heidi Klum has the personality of a "German sausage.")

Anyway, I was trying to figure out what the editing meant. Are they preparing us for the inevitable booting of Daniel? Or are they going to have him be the "surprise" whose show comes out of nowhere to impress everyone?

Thinking back across my favorite reality shows -- America's Next Top Model, Joe Millionaire, etc -- I can't come up with a clear trend in editing versus outcome.

I could see Chloe being kicked off. But then again: will they feel obliged to have a man and a woman in the finals? In this case it would have to be Santino who is kept, right?

Nick seemed pretty worthless in helping Daniel. If you watch closely you'll see that all he does is agree with whatever Daniel says. He does that thing where you repeat what the person says while they're still saying it so that it sounds like you came up with the idea at the same time.

Looking at the NY Times photos, I love the skirt that Daniel's model is wearing. I like Santino's pants that HE is wearing (and the first dress in the line of models is pretty cool, too) and I can't decide if I like Chloe's or not, although it's certainly gorgeously constructed.

Other random thoughts: Don't you feel like Debra Messing will be such a nice guest judge? Wouldn't you have loved to geta little bit more time watching them choose the runway models? (Maybe that's just the ANTM-watcher in me) Isn't it funny to see a helpless, idea-less Santino aimlessly peruse the aisles at Mood?

Great show. Can't wait for next week!

angieoh! said...

As a fellow PR fan, I must share my thoughts (I love it when you blog PR!).

Daniel V: Lame. I liked this guy all through until the last few episodes where is true self starting coming through. He took a lot of pot shots at other contestants, egged Santino on and then came down on Santino for being the "evil" designer. Ugh. He also seemed a little more smug and I would have liked to see "who he is" a little more. I didn't think his designs were as terrible as Tim G was insinuating but they didn't really jump at me either (by the way, I loved the handbag!)

Santino: I thought he came across as himself. Crazy, demanding and harsh, yet true to himself and his passion (whether it is good for him or not). I thought sharing with his friends that he had made it to fashion week was cool, it was clear those people meant a lot to him and he needed supporters too! I also loved his choice of Andrae - that is who I would have wanted as my partner - he is creative, works hard, and isn't a drama queen.

Chloe: I felt like she was holding back (not on her life story, I completely agree with your assessment of that issue) but with her designs. It seemed rather slacker law student of her to wait until the very end to even really get started on her collection and then be the most whiny about having to do another piece. Also, I thought what we saw of her collection was very 1980's Dynasty and not young and fresh like we are used to from her.

Whew! I don't know how you do these recaps, cheers!

Ricardo said...

"My trash is looking better out there layered in white."

Has anyone else wondered why it snows in Madison, every time Ann puts trash out by the curb? Or are these random events, linked in my mind by this blog?

Adam said...

Katie, these are the finals. All three show on the runway.

tcd said...


To be fair to Chloe, she wasn't the only one to whine about the last task (all 3 finalists were less than overjoy) and she did say that she spent two months in her garage working on her collection. Also, I didn't see anything 1980's Dynasty about her collection. I think you are repeating Michael Kors' criticism of Daniel V's makeover look for Chloe (1980's bitch look?).
There's a lot to say about Santino but "true" is not one of them.
You are dead-on about Daniel V though. My estimation of him has dropped dramatically, too.

Lipstick Mystic said...

Moving is intense. Don't lose heart! it will be over eventually.

I can't believe Project Runway will be over soon. Yuck.

There's a place that's selling Where the hell is my chiffon gear. Fans might want ot check it out.

Pogo said...

Ann's quite right, and my previous assessment of the Big Bully can't be entirely accurate. Any adult that can get a two-year-old or a cat to crawl all over them spontaneously is probably less than fearsome. His prior behavior now just looks weird, if indeed it was mostly bluster.

Daniel V: Not so nice after all. I kept waiting for him to roll his eyes at the camera when Tim Gunn was staying silent at his collection.

Chloe and Lot 8. Eight sisters, still talking to each other. Yay! Her "lack of passion" is, I think, a simple SE Asian cultural thing. Hard work, not so showy. Passion is what you do, not what you talk about doing.

Jen Bradford said...

It was interesting to see work they were able to spend real time on - some pleasant and unpleasant surprises. The idea that a designer or artist of any kind should be judged on his ability to churn something out in a day or two eludes me, but is really the gist of the show. It's bound to give an odd sense of a person's abilities. If you normally mull things over (like Emmett), or have a time-consuming editing process (Franco) you're screwed.

I know it's a business, and there are deadlines, blah blah - but I wish there had been a couple of challenges for that type of brain.

(I felt more or less the same way I always had about Santino - this time they just manipulated everyone in the other direction.)

Jen Bradford said...

Edit - "the same way", meaning I wasn't buying the demonization routine, so I didn't need the cute kids to alert me to his humanity.

katiebakes said...


Why ya gotta ignore all my observations and focus on the negative like that? :)

I know they all show on the runway. (And I wish they would show us Kara's show too!) I assumed they'd eliminate one person after the runway show, and then have one more final mega-evaluation.

My mistake.

Andy said...

We just watched it tonight - also via TiVo. I think the producers definitely wanted to play up Santino's challenges, and downplay Chloe's (they cut away from her biographical sketch as she started to crack.

I'm going to guess Santino read all of Tim's blogs, but maybe he's reading here too.

As for Daniel, I have to say that the first dress he put on Rebecca made me think "Xena goes to the prom".

Blobular Vessel said...

Did you guys watch Project Jay? I was inspired to write a little song based on his "Blobular Vessel" ditty he sang in the cab. Check it out at

You go jay!