They did fine by me, my team. They didn’t/couldn’t get my sense of humor, but they recognized that certain things cracked me up and gave me pleasure, so on the occasion of my leaving, I was thrown a party the centerpiece of which was this cake.


Guys, I love you for this. As for last night? It was the best send-off a dame ever had, even if in the old days we would have closed the Road, rather than warmed up the seats for the night crowd.

Countdown to Ecstacy

Miz Shoes makes no pretensions about her age: she is older than dirt. I graduated college in 1975, when most of the readers of this blog (if there are any left, that is) were still in diapers, if not in utero. I have worked as a graphic designer, a paste up artist, a web master, a sales girl on the Apple store floor, a nude figure model, a (very bad) camp counsellor, a piece-work painter of cheesy wind chimes and a commercial photographer. I have been a creative director, an administrator for an outreach campus of MiamiDade Community College on South Beach back in the 80s before South Beach was rediscovered and made over, and a college instructor of photography and graphic design. I have milked goats, tossed bales of hay and weed, run an unsuccessful political campaign for a loathsome individual who would have been a disaster if he’d won, done titles and special FX for non-theatrical releases & commercials and held a union card to do it and one of my t-shirt designs (for the Y2K non-event, to be exact) was accepted into the Smithonian’s permanent collection. I have stayed at jobs for as long as 12 years and as short as a week, but since I graduated college on my twenty-first birthday (one of the universe’s more piquant jokes, I feel) I have worked. Full time. The longest vacation I took was 2 weeks, and the longest period between jobs maybe 6 months.

All of that comes to a rather inglorious end on Tuesday, August 13, 2013. I quit my job, and the ten days notice I gave runs out on that day. At 5:30 pm EDT, I walk away from the corporate world and into my studio, there to make what I like to consider my art. I have been collecting art supplies and tools since 1975, stockpiling against this day when I might have the time to create, but not the money to buy the raw materials. I have enough fabric for three dozen quilts, enough wool for pounds and pounds of yarn, and enough yarn to knit a hundred sweaters. I have patterns and silks and oddments and ornaments. I still have my eyesight and my hand/eye coordination. On August 14, I will have the time.

Where do I begin? With this, my blog. I have loved writing and telling my stories for as long as I have had a voice, but knowing that the Big Brother of my corporate overlord was watching my words for me put a huge cramp in my style. That ends on August 13, too. So welcome back to the monkey house, my gentle readers. Buckle up. Now it’s going to get interesting.

Miz Shoes has a confession: she has, in less than two hours, become a devotee of DaVinci. Oh, not the maestro I studied in art school, nor the magician in the titular fictions of Dan Brown, but the anachronistic, badly written, desperately acted, beautifully filmed and costumed DaVinci’s Demons on a cable network the name of which escapes me, because I am watching it on the RLA’s iphone routed through the giant monitor that functions as a television.

The writing is execrable. No, calling it execrable is an insult to hacks and shitty writing everywhere. It is anachronistic to a degree that would embarrass a freshman writer in film school—a bad film school. Not only is it bad, it assumes that the audience has the art history knowledge and attention span of a gnat, and utterly incapable of following a plot or remembering relationships. The actors, bless their hearts, each and every one, struggle mightily with dialog that makes George Lucas look like, to be appropriately historic in reference, Shakespeare. While beautiful, the title animation is reminiscent of the title animation in Pillars of Earth. The slow-mo is part kung-fu movie, part Matrix. And yet…

And yet Miz Shoes is compelled by this. During her school years, Miz Shoes spent many an hour in rapt attention to the lectures of William Betch, the best damned art history professor the University of Miami was ever blessed to have on faculty. To see those sketches, as well known and dear to me as family photos, to see them come alive, no matter how thick the cheese crust, is bliss. To see the scale models of his wings, to see, however fanciful and improbable, the test flight… well, Miz Shoes swoons. It doesn’t matter that the character is written to be half Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and half Peck’s Bad Boy. It doesn’t matter that the Pope’s Nephew and Assassin has done graduate-level work at the School of Bad Robert Downey, Jr. Impressions and Teeth Gnashing. It doesn’t matter that the writing is, well, has Miz Shoes mentioned that the writing is bad? She has? She hasn’t mentioned it enough. But it just doesn’t matter.

When’s the next episode?

To All the Girls

(This is a response to one of the RLA’s young female students, who recently posted on her Facebook page that she is a proud Republican.)

You say you are sporting a Romney bumper sticker and are a proud Republican. OK. You say you could never be a Democrat. OK. My question for you is this: you are a young, strong, hard-working woman. You have been independent since your early teens. You are tattooed and pierced. You smoke cigarettes and ride a motorcycle. You are not the sort of woman I would expect to be willing to give up any personal freedoms. How, then, can you be willing, no, eager, to vote for two men who would work to legislate changes to this country that would deny all women the most basic freedom of all: ownership of their own bodies.

That is what this election is about. Oh, it has been hidden behind a smokescreen of class warfare, thinly veiled racism and the manipulations of the robber barons over the working man, but it is really an attempt to put women back in their proper place as chattel.

The media calls it choice, but it is more properly a question of ownership. If an individual is not free to determine what happens to their own corpus, what is that state but slavery? Slavery to whom? To the man, institution or government that denies that freedom. If one is not free to own their own body, the next question should be why? Under what conceivable set of circumstances should a human be denied the right of self-determination? Incapacity? If a person is of sound mind and body, there can be no law of nature, only of the law of men.

And you are willing to agree that the condition of being a woman makes you unfit for self-determination? And if you are unfit to own yourself, perhaps you are unfit to own property, unfit to hold certain jobs, to earn an equal wage, incapable of determining if you were raped, incapable of being trusted with the vote, incapable of deciding whom you wish to marry or when. Not only are you willing to agree to that for yourself but you are condemning your sisters, daughters and granddaughters to that fate. Cupcake, you need to remember that it was quite literally the blood of our own grandmothers, mothers and sisters that ended that state of affairs. Forty years ago I had a teacher tell me that as a girl, I was incapable of doing research science. Two fucking generations, and you are ready to go back to being, at best, a second-class citizen, at worst, simply chattel?

The fact that you are proud to be voting against your own best interests makes me afraid that the Republicans might be right not to trust you with the vote.

Previously on Project Runway, Christopher continued to be golden and Ven BooHoo went byebye. Now there are six designers, three of each sex, and Natasha sits on her bed and stares out at nothing in true Ukrainian life is one long moment of impending doom manner.

This week’s challenge will be to design a look for Heidi’s newest endeavor, a line of clothing for Designer Baby Warehouse or some such. Out come adorable babies and scary opinionated mommies and The Button Bag of Doom (TM) to match designers with babies. There are three babies of each sex, too, because tonight there will be two winners: one for a boy’s look, and one for a girl’s. Way to start programming gender roles early in life, there, Heidi et the entire design/baby marketing industry. No budget, no Mood, because all the notions and fabrics will be provided by Heidi. Predictable whining of I ain’t never sewed for no baby before combined with false hope that it will be fun because everybody loves a baby…except the people who don’t. Sketching, insane ideas of dressing babies like little adults because it’s cute, ideas of using white for toddlers, ideas of who knows what all.

In the workroom the designers are greeted by piles of materials and little artificial babies, the horrible kind that they give teenagers to keep them from ever getting pregnant: the kind that you have to feed and change and jiggle because they start to cry and scream randomly. This is to give the designers empathy for mothers and help them get a real understanding of what it might be like to try and dress one. Well, that’s the excuse. The reality is because now that Miss Gunnar is gone, and Natasha’s meds are working, there is no drama in the workroom, and nothing like stressing out the stressed out hamsters to entertain the teevee masses. Or not, because Miz Shoes was not amused by this. There is misery in the work room, and misery at the Atlas as they have to take the miserable automaton babies home for the night. The designers all crack, and the next day Heidi comes in to laugh at them and their stress levels and to advise as the client. This causes chaos where expected: to wit, Melissa obsesses over details, throws her original design away and falls behind miserably. But wait, there’s more! Now they also have to do a related ensemble for the mothers. Back to sketching, off to Mood, hello Swatch, Thank You Mood, and back to the workroom, where Tim Gunn takes the miserable little robo-babies away in a little red wagon. The things the producers do to that man’s dignity. The mothers now come in and Mini MiCo’s momma hates everything, but it’s pretty weak tea as teevee drama goes.

Runway and guest judge is some blonde actress who has had a kid. The babies and mommies walk the catwalk and Miz Shoes says that Mini MiCo and his daisy dress, and Sanjay and her little grey jersey leisure suit for boys are the winners, and it’s Natasha or Melissa and her white poplin baby sheath dress (words that should never be in the same sentence) on the bottom. This is exactly as it shakes out in the judging, and in the end, it’s Natasha’s baby sample sale that seals her doom. Next week? Make a pretty dress, and Mini MiCo says that with 4 wins, he’s sure he’s in the final four. Dude. This may be true, but have you never heard of hubris? For saying that out loud, Miz Shoes predicts that we will see you suffer.

Duquesne Whistle sounds like an old Deutch Gramaphone recording broadcast over radio, complete with pops and whistles, and one has become resigned to it being a permanent ear worm…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the pop culture terrain, Miss Gunnar Raging Drama Queen was sent home, having been given all the screen time he could manage, even a redemption arc and extended exit scene, bless his little fame whore heart.

Miz Shoes will now attempt a recap from memory with no notes. The judges give this a difficulty rating of ten, there may be accidents, and there is no net.

Field trip! Radio City Music Hall! Rockettes! Heidi in the kick line!! Tim! Bob Fosse!!! Your winning design will go into production, in one of our (road) shows!!!! Boris is smug. He was a ballroom dancer in his youth, he knows from dance costumes. Melissa is just jazzed to be in the building and takes her inspiration from its clamshell-ribbed arched ceilings, its gilding and Art Deco-ness. Predictably, Natasha flails about, but unpredictably gives herself a pep talk rather than spiraling into increased self-inflicted hysteria and psychosis. Perhaps the meds are starting to work. Mini MiCo is staring into space and drawing on his product placement tablet. 

At Mood, the cost of glitter and rhinestones crushes their spirits and dreams. Workroom. We hear about construction issues, and number of pattern pieces, and it is refreshing and interesting. In fact, at least twice MizShoes turned to the RLA (renowned local artist) and said, wow, this is the best episode in seasons. Then we have another Project Runway first that goes unremarked, to wit Tim comes in to the workroom and tells them that they have the night off and that they are getting sent out to dinner at a nice restaurant where there will be alcohol. And EVERYBODY gets a redemption arc. Its episode shouldn’t be called I Get a Kick Out of Fasion, it should be Designers of the Redemption Arc! Natasha apologizes to every one, especially Boris. VennyVenny 2 by 4 claims to have always been the baby of his extended family and younger than every one in his business and a loner and so that’s why he has no discernable emotions or social skills. There are toasts and protestations of love eternal and pinky swears to stay sweet forever.

The next day, when Tim comes for walkies, he realizes that they are all screwed. Of course Tim Gunn  doesn’t say it quite like that, he tells Flavio to make that matte silver sequin fabric his bitch. Or maybe to slap that bitch. It was quite alarming. Perhaps Tim has started taking meds. Sanjay is clueless. Natasha is working with cobalt blue and silver and making a high-school marching drum line costume. VV2X4 is working with an aqua mesh that looks like the stuff they sell in art supply stores for armatures. It looks like a slip. Boris is creating a diagonal midnight blue, one sleeve, side cutouts, skirt with bead fringe. Melissa has a million pattern parts, and color blocking in magenta and black. Mini MiCo is doing the NYC skyline. Tim decides that everybody needs more cowbell, so back they go to Mood. Except for Flavio, VV2X4 and Boris, who all want to work on their hand stitching. At Mood, the glow from last night is still working its magic, and Mini MiCo gives Natasha money, and everyone helps each other and it’s one big love fest and lots more sparkly stuff is purchased.

To no avail, however, as Sanjay makes a Rockette costume for Miss Piggy, although nobody recoginzes that. Flavio has made a Rockette version of Gladiator vs the Tin Man, which somehow works. VV2X4 makes a Rockette version of Grace Kelly, in aqua and with nary an ornament or detail to be seen. Melissa has gone back to her particular well of flat front boat neck with no visible means of support, but her color blocking has been discovered to read as a great number 1 on the front of the costume. She’s working the cigarette girl aspect with her styling. Boris’s costume fits like a second skin while not being cheesy or vulgar, the black beading on the navy sequins is gorgeous, and the beaded fringe skirt moves on its own. Huge wow factor. And then there is Mini MiCo, who has made the skyline of Manhattan and a sleek little skirt. Frankly, MizShoes thinks the skirt is a stiff nothing compared to Boris’s self-propelled fringe, but that top cannot be denied.

The guest judge is Debra Messing in a pair of red heels from which Miz Shoes could not tear her eyes. Flavio is safe and flees to the green room. The winner is Mini MiCo, and his costume really is one of the best answers to one of the best, if not the best, challenge in Project Runway history. Memorable, anyway, in the way that Andre’s gutter water dress was, or Laura Bennet’s grey evening dress with the chartreuse ombré-beading. Boris is denied again, but if not for lack of excellence, and one wishes there could have been two winners. Alas, such is not the case. Melissa’s giant number 1 and cigarette girl styling let her stay. Sanjay’s purple chicken butt tap pants are barely enough, but back to the safety of the green room she goes.

Ven and Natasha remain. Natasha made a hideous blue Las Vegas cheerleader costume, but Ven bored NinaGarcia, and was so sure of himself that he didn’t take the second chance to go to Mood. A little trim would have gone a long way toward saving him, but in the end, it is Natasha who stays, and Ven who gets the aufsie daisey. Next week, the remaining designers must create for Heidi’s children’s line.

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