Tag Archives: Project Runway

The State of Joe at 56


We had the flag out for Labor Day weekend today, not for Joe BDay season. But it could have been. Redbud tree casts shadow on flag in later afternoon image.

We had the flag out for Labor Day weekend today, not for Joe BDay season. But it could have been. Redbud tree casts shadow on flag in late afternoon image.

I just checked—a line of severe thunderstorms is headed my way and may hit before I get done writing this blog post.

And yet, the thing that makes me most anxious is not that a tornado may swoop down, but that it’s 10:03 and I have not started watching “Project Runway” yet and I want to get it watched tonight before I go to bed.

So I’ll have to make this quick. Because, you know, either tornado or Heidi. You decide which is the bigger factor.

What is the state of Joe at 56?

Well, busy. Labor Day weekend comes just as fall semester starts taking off—and after just four days of classes, I have a lot of grading. Labor Day will mostly be a day of labor, because so far this weekend, I’m proud to say, I’ve done virtually nothing school related (unless you count piano practice, but I don’t suppose I should).

Busy native bees on flowers. I shot this as I was getting ready to mow the lawn on my birthday. I mowed, cut back some dead parts of a bush and planted some grass seed. I like spending time outside, so it was a good way to use part of my day.

Busy native bees on flowers. I shot this as I was getting ready to mow the lawn on my birthday. I mowed, cut back some dead parts of a bush and planted some grass seed. I like spending time outside, so it was a good way to use part of my day.

Friday I went to my first MMU track meet, which was a bit of unexpected fun. When my kids were in junior high track, a track meet meant hours of dull unexcitement in a cold and damp stadium in some featureless small town. The Mustang Gallop, however, was hanging out in a county park—and waiting for just two races, which started and ended very quickly. That’s not a bad way to have a track meet.

Saturday I had a bike ride with my wife. It was 23 miles, which is a substantial, but not very long, ride for me. Since she is not a biker, it was a big commitment to my birthday wishes on her part.

Then again, she goes to the gym a lot more than I do. She didn’t suffer any ill consequences, as far as I know. She did announce a desire to own biking shorts, which I think would be a good move.

I also mowed and planted some grass seed. Tonight’s storm may do some good.

Physically, I’m doing well. I’ve bounced back, I think, from my RAGBRAI exhaustion. My weight is not down, but not up. The struggle to control it, and thus keep my blood pressure down, is more important in my 56th year, but then again, I’m about 10 pounds lighter than my peak, so I’ve slowly started to lose some pounds.

Work is a mixed bag. I love being a professor and am thrilled with the reaction to the World War I series. On the other hand, I sure wish I had more PR and journalism students, and a newspaper editor would be nice.

So I guess the state of Joe is not too bad. And it only took me 10 minutes to write this. My birthday celebration got an early start Friday when a daughter was confused at the date and called me a day early. One of my sons was also confused and called me a day late. So, I guess that means my birthday this year was a 3-day season.

That is fine with me. Not a bad way to turn 56.

Wife is in the lead as we round the north end of Cedar Lake on our Saturday bike ride. Later, there was ice cream. It was a very nice ride.

Wife is in the lead as we round the north end of Cedar Lake on our Saturday bike ride. Later, there was ice cream. It was a very nice ride.

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What Where We Thinking?


Episode 9 outfit

An outfit from last week's show, from the Project Runway web site: http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway

The “Project Runway” episode tonight was about 1970s-inspired clothes.  The episode last week was about a rock band that wanted clothes that were inspired by–what else–the 1970s.  Next week, Project Runway presents the all M*A*S*H show, or maybe the Archie Bunker collection.  Or perhaps looks inspired by Mary Richards?

Take it from a child of the disco decade: What a bad idea. Not much that is “inspired” by the 1970s really should be a part of our culture. That was the decade when polyester was formal wear, men (including me) wore heels and hair—well, hair was just totally out of control.

In the fall of 1973, I joined the debate team at Muscatine High School, which meant, among other things, that my mom had to buy me a blue suit blazer with rather wide lapels, two large gold-colored plastic buttons and a variety of ugly wide ties to go with my garish dress pants. My shirts, thankfully, were at least usually solid colors, although I would sometimes wear stripes.

Thus sartorially clad, I sallied forth, usually with my partner Rod, to do rhetorical battle.

It often seemed like the weather was cold. Debate season covered the winter months. It took us to such jewels of the prairie as Fairfield High School, a smaller school obviously built with a few leftover bricks by the company that assembled the 1930s three story prison that we called “Muscatine High School.” Seriously—it was the exact same bricks, doors, floors—just in miniature.

I think my coat was orange. I know, for a while, my shoes were.

We would have the radio on during those debate tirps, and not to the alternative Muscatine FM station, but some top hit station. Fortunately, at least in 1973, it was too early for Disco, but sadly, in 1973, there was always John Denver or Bread.

It was a decade of fashion and music disasters. It was a decade when denim was chic. It was the decade of my awkward, somber, sad younger self. Lighten up, dude. Seriously, adulthood is so much better than adolescence—your primary job as a teenager is just to hold it together, to not totally lose the bubble, until the raging storms of hormones die down and you can start to think again.

I don’t hate everything 1970s. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was a cool movie, and Star Wars came out at the end of the decade (the first one, before George L. got all preachy and boring.) American Graffiti was a bit of a plodding movie, but it launched some important careers and it had it moments. It totally marks me as a nerd, but darn it, Carol Burnett was pretty funny.  And I still listen to my Yes albums now and then.

Still, 1970s inspired? Please. Pick another decade.

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The Nature of Mayan Culture


Maya is out of “Project Runway,” and not because she was “aufed.”

Maya Luze

"Marie Claire" photo of Maya, who quit "Project Runway." Made for an interesting, and strange, episode, but somehow it was nice to see someone opening the curtain, ala "Wizard of Oz."

She wasn’t pushed off the cliff. She jumped.

But then again, she didn’t jump into oblivion, but rather, back into life. Because, she says, she wasn’t ready to show a collection at Bryant Park during Fashion Week.

Well. I think the “Project Runway” challenge was rather dull this week—second time this season when the designers were creating a look for Heidi. The producers didn’t show much imagination in the challenge—design a runway look for Heidi, after only recently doing a magazine cover for Heidi. Next, it will be create a biking jersey and shorts for Heidi. Then, a clown outfit for Heidi to use at a birthday party (actually, I think that would be more interesting than the actual challenge that was on TV).

And yet, with the sudden departure of Maya and a model also leaving in the middle of things, the episode ended up being compelling.

My reaction? Mixed. I don’t mind the hot Irish nasty babe being back. But as for Maya, it is hard for me to imagine entering a competition like Project Runway and not staying as long as possible. Yet, I also have some respect for the way Maya conducted herself.

Then again, here I am blogging about a “reality” TV show, and I feel mildly creepy about that. I think part of the dynamic of Maya quitting wasn’t her deciding not to be America’s next great fashion designer—it was also being tired of an odd, edited TV life.

Though that’s not the reason she cited.  See: http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway/designer-video-blogs/maya-luz/video/maya-luz-video-blog-episode-11

Another interesting take is Tom and Lorenzo’s blog, which is amusing and worth a look for any “Project Runway” fan.  Anyway, they interviewed Maya about here decision.  Well, life goes on. Seth ends up putting an interesting, expletive-laced take on the situation. And looking in from the outside, it’s difficult to understand the designer’s situation.

I watched, and enjoyed, a few previous seasons of “Survivor.” But I ended up abandoning the show, partly because it felt so unreal—it seemed strange, and vaguely Roman Coliseum-esque, to watch people voluntarily starve themselves for a month in order to appear on TV and maybe win $1 million.

“Project Runway” doesn’t bother me as much. At least talent is part of the competition and the designers aren’t voting each other off. But the ordeal sounds more than a bit grueling. Is it really a part of choosing a talented designer to stress them and make them short on sleep?

Sure, nobody has to eat bugs. Yet, I am still sometimes uncomfortable with the whole premise of “reality” TV.

How far will people go to validate their existence by being on TV? Do we want an answer?

Finally, Maya, I respect your decision. My struggle with the idea of quitting is my struggle. Didn’t feel like you were ready? Honey, in some ways you seem much more ready than others who are trying to win at all costs.

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