Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pioneer Runway

I come from a long line of Mennonites. My father's family are very kind, practical, thrifty people, so it's no wonder I lean toward the practical joking/social drinking Irish of my mother's kin. Dad is a total by-the-book Mennonite, except for the drinking, smoking, swearing, vanity, breaking the Sabbath, not going to church and some light coveting. However, he is thriftier than God.

The first time my parents met Current Husband, we ate turkey, and when CH took dark meat, my mom looked at me and said, "Oh no. Not this one." My dad was the only dark-meat-eating member of the family, and my mother equated a thigh preference with someone who wouldn't turn on the AC until it is 110 degrees outside, or the heat unless toes start turning white and numb (this is actually true). My mother was right - CH is a big miser. You'll find Mom working in Omaha at "Get Your Meat Read at Jan's House of Turkey Futures."

CH is always trying to find creative ways to save money. His current experiment involves cancelling cable and putting a wireless modem in the basement so we can watch TV from the Internet. At dinner, my youngest daughter's favorite part of the day was finding out that Spongebob might be marrying Sandy on Nick next week. When I told her we wouldn't have cable TV, she was devastated. It was like I told her Santa wasn't real, AND he kicked the tooth fairy in the bicuspids. I patted her hand and said, "It's your Daddy's fault."

There are only three shows I watch, and they are ALL on cable: The Daily Show/Colbert (I consider these one show), Mad Men, and Project Runway. Missing Project Runway makes me think about the Ingalls women, and how they could sew. On Project Runway, contestants frequently have to make outfits out of strange raw materials, like newspaper or candy wrappers, and I realize that is ALL those pioneer women had to make their clothes.

In "By The Shores of Silver Lake" the whole family makes a coat for Grace. Pa shoots a swan (Aaah! Who kills a swan!? Stop the madness, Pa!), Ma stretches and prepares the skin, and the girls sew together blue silk and make the lining out of swan's down. Michael Kors would have LOVED them, and mark my words, that swan coat would've made it to Bryant Park.

On the Little House version, Pioneer Runway, the contestants make clothes out of synthetic fabric, since the stuff they are wearing is already made out of flour sacks and gun casings and swans. For tonight's challenge, they work in teams, and they must: "Create A Pioneer Woman's Everyday Work Outfit With Mostly Polyester."

There are only eight designers left, and the teams are Laura and Mary (naturally), Ma and Carrie, that bitch Nellie Olson and her mother, and the requisite gay team of Albert Ingalls and Willie Olson. (Oh come on, you KNOW Willie was gay!) They have 10 minutes in the Mood General Store, and they panic because no one is there to cut and they only have a budget of fifty cents. They make it under budget and leave. "Thank you, Mood!"

They are working as quickly as they can, because it is only light out for another hour, the kerosene lamps are dim, there is only one pedal sewing machine and Mrs. Olson keeps "accidentally" breaking the needles. Laura is feeling the time crunch and having second thoughts about their design.

LAURA: "Mary, this is a fashion disaster. We're being too safe."
MARY: "What are you saying? It's beautiful!"
LAURA: "It's too Goddess. Goddess is SO last year. We might as well throw a pashmina and a sailor hat on it."
MARY: "No, it has great construction, and I think we're going to win this challenge."
LAURA: "Jesus, Mary, what are you, blind?"
MARY: "Um...."
LAURA: "Oh, sorry, I forgot."
(Mary continues to hand-sew a pocket inside-out on the right calf of the dress.)

Tim Gunn walks in to check everyone's work. He's in a coonskin cap and carries an actual gun, turning his name into a charming, fable-like moniker. As he is reviewing Ma and Carrie's wrap dress, ("This concerns me"), it gets too close to the kerosene lamp and bursts into flame. They are out. Auf Wiedersehen.

Suddenly, the Olson's swing dress gets too close to the cookstove, and it too flames out. Albert and Willie are fighting about who is actually the team leader, because Albert IS the team leader, but Willie keeps alpha-bitching him, and Albert is angry. Theirs is a winter outfit, meant to be worn on the way home from visiting a neighbor, but when they put the hot potatoes in the pocket (to keep the wearer's hands warm, remember?) the heat melts the poly into a literal hot mess. Tim tells them they have to "Make it work."

They get on the Runway, and the Pioneer creations get scathing remarks from Michael, Heidi, Nina Garcia, and from their guest judge, Willa Cather.
"It's like a Buffalo's ass."
"She's a hoochie momma after a terrible barn fire."
"You have no sense of style. You are boring us, and that's hard in a time of no entertainment or technology."
"You design for your client, not the volunteer bucket brigade."
"Love the pocket on the lower calf - so innovative and original!"

Laura and Mary win, of course, because no Little House story ends with an Olson beating an Ingalls. And I will be watching my three shows on our TV by Christmas, because I know how to break CH. But this time, I have three little Disney/Nick addicts to back me up, and nobody puts (our) Baby in the corner.


Matt, Nikki, Henry and Jack Allers said...

I'm curious to hear how the cable situation turns out. It was brought up this morning. Good luck!

You are quite the writer... love envisioning Tim Gunn in a coonskin cap! Ha!

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