Friday, October 20, 2017

And Then There Were Six - Project Runway NO SPOILERS

It's the Lexus challenge, featuring unconventional materials without a trip to Mood in a one-day challenge. Because the car company is focused on safety, the unconventional materials are centered around safety - tubing, cones, safety straps, seat belts and harnesses, rubber boats, fire hoses, etc. None of the six designers left in the competition are excited about a second unusual materials challenge, but they are all focused on making something remarkable. It's impressive how far they've grown as designers who can think on their feet by now.

We started the night with six designers. By the end of the
Runway show, there were five. Here's the skinny on how
the night progressed. No Spoilers today, but all the outfits
and analysis tomorrow. 

Anaya is hammering safety reflective disks, crushing them to make a mosaic across her bodice. It's something high necked and long sleeved, but tightly fitted. Sexy modesty - very Anaya in form and function. I like it a lot. 

Michael made an interesting statement. He's hoping that Tim Gunn doesn't use his save. His theory is that the designers left are all so strong, they should be making it to fashion week based on their strengths, not because Tim used his save. There's something to be said about that attitude.

Brandon and Kentaro are putting their heads together again, but I think both of them are having problems with this week's challenge.

Michael wants to bring some sexuality and a bit of fetish to his design - apparently something he already does in his men's wear. But it's different exposing a lot of skin in men's wear than women's wear. By the morning, he's added fabric to the bottom portion and his model expresses relief that she won't be walking the Runway naked.

Kenya is stressed because she feels she doesn't have enough material while Margarita is pushing her own personal boundaries but feeling that she isn't doing enough to make a statement at this point in the contest.

So, to recap, we have three ladies and three men still in the competition. Kenya, Anaya and Margarita are running towards the finish line against Brandon, Kentaro and Michael.

Kentaro discovered that the fire hoses he had chosen are actually fabric and he's making a flirty skirt and top for Liris from these. Although Tim pointed out to him that fabric, even fire hose fabric, is not considered unconventional, Kentaro didn't come up with any other idea, so decided to keep the fire hose design. If anyone can sell a design, it's Liris. He may luck out just because of his model's style and ability.

Michael's model is practically nude, covered with strapwork made from twisted bungee cords, Brandon is using thin foil for his top and it rips and rips. Anaya's design is growing, growing, growing as she adds cutout fencing as skirting below her mosaic-embellished top. Brandon finally abandons his foil in favor of life jackets. At least those won't rip when worn. Kenya is trying to make her outfit from woven safety belts and an interesting profile. As she's putting the dress on her model and is ready to leave for the Runway her zipper breaks on the bodice, although it holds for the skirt. Kentaro is very unhappy with his design which looks like Pocahontas in flour sacks, and Margarita is adding hard plastic pieces at the shoulders and upper arms as though she's dressing an NFL Linebacker.

Unconventional materials challenges are always edgy, but this one may be the highest cliff with the most crumbling edge I've seen in several seasons of Project Runway. A look at the winning and losing looks along with judges' analyses in tomorrow's post.

Enjoy your Friday. We're having a spectacular autumn up here in the Frozen Northlands, and I hope to get a chance to share some photos with all of you one day next week.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Black Hole of MMORPG - Are You A Victim?

Yesterday was focused! I didn't get any housecleaning done, but I got the grocery shopping, six loads of laundry, and yes - the two aspects of prep work on this year's holiday cards completed. Today I move on to the next step in the design and assembly process with a good feeling of accomplishment. 

Sometimes turning off the computer to get other work done
is the hardest thing to do! 

Part of the reason for my successful day yesterday was the fact that I didn't turn on my computer until after dinner. Do you find yourself sucked into the black hole of "I'll just check that one thing and then get back to my to-do list"? More often than not, my computer black hole has been Lord of the Rings Online, a MMORPG that I've been playing for more than ten years. 

DDO was our first foray into massive multi-player
online role playing games and we loved it. We tried
other games - "World of War", "Everquest", and a
few others - but they didn't resonate for us the way
that DDO did. 

DH and I first started playing in the interactive multi-player on-line role-playing universe in 2006 with Dungeons and Dragons Online. As usual, DH was more focused on playing the game than I was, but I enjoyed it. My favorite character was "Venomspeak", although I think I had three or four characters in all. She was powerful, took no prisoners, and was a lot of fun to play. Turbine, the company that introduced DDO, then invited us to join a large throng of Beta players for a new game they were developing - Lord of the Rings Online. We jumped at the opportunity, knowing that the chance to wander Middle Earth would be mesmerizing. We were right! 

One of the earliest editions was this one - the
Gold Edition of LOTR Shadows of Angmar. I
suppose I could walk across to our software
stash to check if that was the original release, but
I'm a bit lazy. This was an early release, though. 

After the beta experience LOTRO was opened to the masses and they flocked in. Multiple servers were set up and people worldwide started exploring Middle Earth. It was fun! There was something magical about wandering through the Shire and experiencing Bree. When I was first standing on top of Weather Top, or the first time I was standing at the cliff edge overlooking Rivendell, I had to stop in amazement because there I was, virtually walking over lands that had only had a physical image in my imagination since I first read LOTR in 1968. 

Rivendell is one of the prettier places in LOTRO, and since my main
character is a Rivendell Elf, she comes here whenever she can to recharge
her batteries. 

I'm a "lifer", a VIP and still play almost daily. Fall Festival is going on right now in-game, and although aspects of it drive me crazy, like finding the correct door for the Attic in the Haunted Burrow, I still enjoy the game. I go hot/cold on it - life gets in my way - but DH plays often and it's not uncommon to find us each at our computers trying to survive a quest arc. I know some of my other on-line friends play too, and it's been fun to sometimes cross paths with Aearwen while wandering the lands. 

Did you play "Roller Coaster Tycoon" or "Civilization"? Maybe
"Pharoah" was more your style, or one of the many "Might and
Magic" chapters? I've probably crossed your path somewhere
in this long journey. 

Is there a computer game that you love to play? Were you addicted to anything when you were younger? Maybe "Roller Coaster Tycoon" or "Civilization"? Share with me. I can't be the only computer nerd who still loves computer games? Or am I? 

I'm off to the pool, then I'll start the next stage of this year's holiday cards. Have a wonderful Thursday. It's a Project Runway night, so I'll be watching and posting a general episode summary tomorrow morning with a spoiler and fashion show on Saturday. Enjoy your day! 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Day Off With Random Thoughts

Today is my day off and I brought a bag of things home from the shop so that I can get some work done on my holiday cards. Crazy! My time at the shop has been so limited and I don't like working on my cards during the work day because of interruptions, so the bag is sitting on the table next to me telling me to "Make it work" today. Hopefully I can get some serious work done because the clock is ticking and I still have a LOT of work to do on this year's offering. 

I'm really NOT in a mood for winter. We usually don't get hit
with too much of the snow until after Christmas, but today I'm
just "blech" about the whole idea of winter. I wish my autumn
could stay and keep me company for the next five-six months instead! 

Today I'm a bit cranky and out of sorts, though. No real reason, just the seasonal change starting to hit me. I feel as though it's going to be a LONG winter. *sigh* That's far from a surprise, I do live in the Frozen Northlands after all, but winter, although beautiful, is my least favorite season of the year. Winter means getting up earlier, making sure that I have time to shovel my way out of the garage into the street for my daily swim, and of course, bundling up in coats, sweaters, boots and hats for the daily trips to the gym and work. I'm getting closer and closer to retirement age, and let me tell you - I can hardly wait! 

Mychael Knight, April 11, 2978/October 17, 2017.

For my Project Runway fans, I heard that Mychael Knight, a Season 3 (2006) finalist and the winner of the Fan Favorite Award, died yesterday morning in Atlanta, Georgia. He was 39 years old. Mychael had spent his last five years fighting IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), an incurable disease. This year the disease escalated, leaving him nutritionally challenged and with perforated intestines. He had recently shown his 2017 collection during Fashion Week. Over his career Mychael designed custom t-shirts for Starbucks, a unisex fragrance, and had dressed many stars of BET. 

I often feel like this as I design and work on my
holiday cards. It's always a work in progress - I don't
start out with a concrete plan. I test, try things, and
do templates. A lot of tests never again see the
light of day and I never know what will
inspire the end design. 

On that note, I've got to get going. I hope all of you have a wonderful Wednesday. I'm looking forward to catching up with Aearwen for our weekly chat. Circumstances caused a cancellation last week, so we'll have a lot to talk about. Be good, do an unexpected kindness today, and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thank Goodness It's TUESDAY????

I'm almost happy that it's Tuesday? OK, I know that sounds weird, so let me roll back a bit and explain. 

I'm actually really happy that it's Tuesday. Maybe I can
get some work done early this morning before I have
to open the shop to the public. 

When I first awakened shortly before 3:00 am, I mentally reviewed my to-do list. I focused on what I needed to do on Thursday, when I needed to go to the bank, and what things I needed to have completed by then. Panic set in. I hadn't accomplished nearly enough on my "needs to be done by the end of the week" list! 

Such a silly goose! I'm so happy that it's only
Tuesday. I have more time to panic before I'm
behind at the end of the week. 

But then I breathed a sigh of relief. "Silly goose," I thought. "It's only Tuesday. You still have two days before you've fallen behind and, if you actually do what you're supposed to do, you might even manage to not fall behind at all." 

I'm falling behind my scheduled goals. Maybe if  I hadn't stopped to help that
little girl wearing the red shoes and carrying that cute little dog? 

Of course, that is unlikely. I'm pretty sure I will still be behind schedule on Thursday morning. But, I probably won't be AS behind schedule as I might have been if today actually was 48 hours from now. So, I'm quite grateful it's Tuesday. What a relief. 

So that's my crazy Frozen Northlands rant for the day. Have an excellent TUESDAY, and I'll be back tomorrow. Now to find pictures, post, and then off to the pool. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Winter Is Coming - But It's Not Here Yet!

DH got his opportunity to gloat yesterday, as his football team won while mine lost - decisively. But so it goes. We had a rather relaxed day yesterday, and it showed in my weight today. I'm going to hope that the extra pound or so is water weight and will be gone by tomorrow *sigh*. 

We had our first Frost Advisory for the season overnight. We were
advised to cover tender plants and be careful in low lying areas.
Yes ... Winter is Coming! 

We had our first frost warning last night, forcing DH to rethink the last steps for the backyard project. We have less than two weeks until the new shed gets installed, and he wanted to get a solid layer of black dirt laid in for early spring planting. But if we're already getting freezing overnight temps, he may have to have our landscaping company come out once more to spread the dirt instead of doing it by hand. He can't work with frozen dirt, but the equipment could. He'll probably have to make up his mind pretty quickly to beat the possible snows. 

Whoever got this load of black dirt, got it in the summer. Our trees
are all multi-colored now and we're worried about frozen dirt. 

The other thing we're looking at is a shielding device for our back rain gutter and downspouts. We get a lot of water flow down the roof at that point, but the gutter needs cleaning and it's almost 20 feet up. We don't have a ladder that can get us that high, and the gutter is seriously blocked, causing water to sheet directly over it instead of down it to the downspouts. 

Extension ladders usually aren't a tripod footing. Instead
they are made to lean against walls or outcroppings.
We need a 24 foot extension ladder. That means it's
12 feet folded, and my car only fits eight feet maximum. 

We looked at extension ladders yesterday, and they're not horribly expensive, but we have no vehicle that could transport a twelve-foot ladder. The store could deliver it, but it would cost almost $70 for delivery! Ouch! We left it unresolved and went out for a quick dinner at Chili's instead. 

DH has been looking at gutter guards for that back rain gutter for years
now. He's decided upon Gutter Helmet. Guess I should also look into
who does the install in our area and maybe get them scheduled for a
trip out and a quote. 

It was a pleasant weekend, though, despite the minor bumps in the road. The weight will come back off, and we'll figure out if a ladder is the right way to go. Guess I should investigate Gutter Helmet too, and find out where they are located. It's always something - LOL. 

Have a wonderful Monday. I'm off for a quick swim and then a visit to my Chiropractor. My body will be happy for that! 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Avant-Garde - The Winners and Losers on Project Runway

So, with the DRAMAH, and the superfans of Shopkins expressing their desires behind them, the designers were well on their way in their avant-garde challenge. There were some pretty amazing designs made this week, both good and bad. Here's the rundown on the positive and negative looks that walked down the Runway.

First, Kentaro and Kenya were each declared "safe" and left the Runway. That left six designers. Here are their outfits:

Amy specializes in sleek designs. She was influenced
by the snap-on, snap-off aspects of some Shopkins
accessories. Her goal was to emulate that on/off look
through fabric. 

The comments from the judges centered around the fact that they considered Amy's design to be too safe - not quite avant-garde enough. I'm not exactly sure how something that can't be measured can fall short, but I do admit that the sweeping collar hinted at more than the resulting coat-dress design that walked down the runway.

Ayana made this totally fabulous hoop dress full of frills
and bows for Liris. Her styling with the bow being carried
through into Liris' hairstyle was inspired. It was a
totally wining look, and one of my favorites. 

Her superfan's request for ruffles and bows was interpreted by Ayana in this marvelous dress. Using a framework of chicken wire, she attached ruffles, straps, and a giant, over-sized, stuffed satin bow. This was a great concept and Liris carried it down the Runway with pride and a sense of whimsy. Anaya wanted to be noticed, and she succeeded in pushing herself out of the "safe zone" with this wonderful design.

Batani had her problems this week, not least of which
was the fact that her skirt refused to stay down while
her model walked the Runway. That was coupled with
a poorly designed cut-out in the back and a blue hoodie
that was unnecessary.

Batani seemed lost this week. I'm not sure if it was because she had been "sent home", then told to stay when Claire was dismissed in disgrace, and now was designing something entirely off the cuff. That could mess with anyone's head, and I suspect it played a role in her inability to really pull together an outfit for her model.

Brandon had been against the wall, unable to
design something that he really liked for his model
His superfan had requested "chocolate, more
chocolate and even more chocolate", but he didn't
want to design a brown dress, feeling that much
chocolate would just look like a pile of poo on the runway. 

After several hours of workshop time, poor Brandon was looking at an underdress of the green with white piping on the front edge. He fussed and grumbled and was generally unhappy. His "bro", Kentaro, came to his rescue by suggesting an apron-styled dress. Brandon got a lot of positives for remaining true to his personal aesthetic in this design, and the cuffs at the sides of the gown, were a big hit with the judges. I have to admit that I really like Brandon as a designer. My secret hope (not so secret now, of course) is for Kentaro and Brandon to set up shop together. They work really well together, inspiring each other to new plateaus of design.

Margarita's superfan wanted Oscar-driven fashion
with sparkles. She used stuffing to create clouds of
folded and pleated fabrics and areas of sparkles. Heidi
loved the look, calling it "beyond stunning". 

Margarita decided she wanted volume and structure in her dress, accentuated by varying fabric tones and textures, pleating and gathers, and specific locations for some sparkling glittering glam. All of the judges loved the look and gave it positive reviews. Heidi liked it so much she likened the dress to a " that came down the runway".

Michael's superfan wanted disco - she even wrote an
illustrated note for her designer, showing a hanging disco
ball melting to cover the shape of a
smiling girl. Very cute. 

Tim expressed a serious concern in his critique. If Michael didn't sew his sparkling sequin fabric precisely, every error would be clearly evident to the judges. Michael first made a translucent fitted jumpsuit for his model, fitting it exactly to her before beginning work on the sparkles and spangles. Building in specific shaping to indicate a melting disco ball dripping the sparkling mirrors over his model, he sewed carefully, fitted perfectly, and made a fabulous garment.

So, there you have it - four winners and two losers. Can you guess who won and lost?

The winner - Michael was the winner with his incredible disco jumpsuit, My suspicion is that Ayana's multi-level bow and ruffles hoop skirt was a close second, followed by Margarita.

The loser - the first loser was Batani. Originally sent home in last week's episode, she was just in a bit of holding pattern before packing up and leaving again. In a surprise twist, the judges also eliminated a second designer, saying good-bye to Amy. Their critique was that her design was just too safe, that she hadn't really pushed herself as a designer.

Next week we're having a second unconventional materials challenge and we're down to seven designers. It's getting serious. There is no more immunity, the undercurrent of stress caused by the Terrible Twins is gone, and the designers remaining are serious contenders for a spot in the Project Runway Fashion Show for New York Fashion week. I know who I want in the finals. Do you?

Have a wonderful weekend. I'm looking forward to a Sunday of football with my hubby. Now I'm off to the pool and then to work. Enjoy your day and remember to "Make it work!"

Friday, October 13, 2017

The DRAMAH Continues - Project Runway, No Spoilers

I don't consider the resolution of last week's cliff hanger end to be a spoiler because it's really the fashion that we're all there for - the winners and the losers. Since last week was left unresolved because of Michael walking off the Runway when Claire won the "Woman on the Go" challenge, this week started with the continuation of that dramatic moment and the final decision of the judges. 

Don't want to know? Don't read any farther until tomorrow when I'll wrap up this episode with the winner, loser and top/bottom six designs. Now ... continuing ... 

Last week I speculated about the winner becoming the loser. It wasn't the fact that Claire copied a design, made an initial design that mimicked Margarita's winning dress from the previous week, or anything that any designer put onto the runway. It was a rule that had been broken. So, despite the fact that Claire had designed the winning print and a great outfit, her win was stripped from her and she was sent home because she broke two rules.  (1) She had a tape measure outside of the workroom, and (2) she drew and measured something she already owned and wrote down the measurements outside of the workroom. Claire admitted that she had measured and drawn a tank top and the crotch of a pair of pants in the apartment with a tape measure that she had there. That was explicitly against the rules that each contestant agrees to when accepted as a participant in the contest. So stupid! Project Runway has one of the more amazing payouts and prizes of any reality show and she blew her chances because of a tape measure and (my opinion only ...) some basic insecurities in her own skill levels. 

Breaking the rules has consequences. Claire Buitendorp became the second
contestant in the show's history to be sent home, the first being Keith
Michael in season 3. 

Claire was the equivalent of Britain's "Nine Day Queen". She won, and then lost, within the same challenge, probably within the same two hour period. No one was declared a winner, but Batani, who had been "sent home" was kept on instead. Who won the Dixie cup print challenge? Dixie was allowed to choose their own winner, and they chose Brandon's linear pink and black on white design. 

Then, after the remaining contestants expressed their remorse about Claire's situation and how it had been disclosed to the judges and staff, the next challenge began by linking the designers with a group of kids and lots of toys. Shopkins, the sponsor for the episode, brought in some superfans to give input to each designer, and describe their favorite character and what they would want in a design for a new character to add to the product line. Fortunately it was an avant-garde challenge, so some "way out there" stuff was mandated. 

The superfans averaged six to eight years old and their designs ideas ranged from "glitter, glitter, and more glitter," to "chocolate, more chocolate, and put on even more chocolate," to "disco". This challenge will live up to its name - the designs will run the gamut of structure, embellishments, shine and ruffles. But would the off-kilter designs work on the models and walk well down the Runway? The designs would be worn by the usual Project Runway models, but the design inspirations were by a six-year-old girls and were based on dolls. Anything goes! 

The workroom attitude was totally different - it was relaxed now, a give and take between the designers. There was banter. There was laughter. All of the interactions that usually are in the workroom but had been missing over the past few weeks now had arrived; and even though people were having a hard time with the challenge, the friendship was back. IMO, getting rid of the Terrible Twins in a one-two punch was the BEST thing to happen to the Project Runway workshop this season. 

Brandon, Amy and Batani weren't happy with their designs, Kenya, Kentaro, Margarita, Michael and Ayana were delighted with the boundaries they pushed to make something over the top that was influenced by their young clients and their favorite dolls. Everybody struggled somewhat to make something just that little bit over the edge. There were some really fun designs walking the Runway this week! 

Tomorrow I'll review the winners, losers and discuss who went home. Today I'll be hitting the pool and then running to the shop - lots of stuff to try and get done before I have to open the doors. I'm starting to really get somewhere with this year's holiday cards. Watch out - I'll be calling for addresses when we're a little closer to Halloween.