Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Do We Move On? Can We? Should We?

This story has me kind of stymied, so let’s start at the beginning ...

Back on August 12, 2012, several people, including two high school football players, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, raped a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio.

Shortly after midnight, the girl, heavily intoxicated, left a party with four football players and went to a second party where the victim vomited and appeared "out of it." The same group left that party and headed to another home. During the car ride, the victim’s shirt was removed and Trent Mays digitally penetrated the her vagina and exposed her breasts while his friends filmed and photographed her.

Once reaching the house, the players took the victim to the basement where Mays attempted to orally rape the victim by forcing his penis into her mouth. She was stripped naked and the second accused, Ma'lik Richmond, also digitally penetrated the victim's vagina while she was photographed. Three witnesses to the crime took those photos back to the second party and shared them with friends.

In the days following the rapes, Trent Mays tried to orchestrate a cover-up, telling a friend, 'Just say she came to your house and passed out,' and pleading with the victim not to press charges. But Ohio investigators confiscated and analyzed 15 cellphones and two tablets, collecting hundreds of text messages and photos and videos from dozens of students.

During the trial, the victim testified in court that she had no memory of the six-hour period in which the rapes occurred, except for a brief time in which she was vomiting on the street. She said she woke up the next morning naked in a basement with Mays, Richmond and another teenage boy, missing her underwear, flip-flops, phone and earrings.

The evidence presented in court consisted of hundreds of texts and cellphone pictures taken by more than a dozen people at the parties and afterwards traded with others and posted to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

On March 17, 2013, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond were convicted of rape after the judge found they had used their fingers to digitally penetrate the victim's vagina and that it was impossible for the victim to have given consent. Ma'lik Richmond received a minimum sentence of one year for penetrating the girl while she was unconscious, while Trent Mays was given a minimum two year sentence for penetrating the girl while she was unconscious and disseminating pornographic pictures of her. Ma'lik Richmond was released from detention on January 5, 2014 and this story is about him ...

In 2016, Ma’lik Richmond transferred to Youngstown State and tried to resurrect his football career.  YSU head coach Bo Pelini knew about Richmond’s transfer, and met with him in person after YSU’s 2015 season ended. Richmond made the team as a walk-on, and was slated to appear for the Penguins until a student circulated a petition demanding that YSU prohibit Richmond from playing for the team. More than 10,000 people signed the petition, and YSU officials then announced that Ma’lik Richmond would be allowed to stay on the team for practices and other team activities, but would not be allowed to play for the Penguins during the 2016-2017 season.

Richmond—who says his transfer to football powerhouse Youngstown State had nothing to do with football—sued the school for denying him the opportunity to potentially advance his professional football career and this month his lawyers and the school reached a settlement that will reinstate Ma’lik Richmond to the team.
“What is most important is that Ma’lik moves on. This is a case about Ma’lik being given all the opportunities afforded a student of good standing.”—Susan Stone, Richmond’s attorney
But what about ethics? Most colleges and universities hold their student athletes to higher levels of accountability than typical students; breaking even the smallest of team rules can result in disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from the team. And while college athletics departments have a spotty track record for handling instances of sexual assault, players have been cut from rosters all the time for getting into legal trouble. But what about the legal trouble that occurs before the student joins a team?

During court hearings, Richmond’s legal team argued that YSU had “hurt [his] football career prospects by curtailing his exposure to professional scouts at the peak of his abilities,” and that the university was “contractually obligated” to let Richmond play; this claim is absurd because no college athlete, anywhere, any time, is guaranteed a spot on a team’s roster. Still, Richmond won his case and will be allowed to play on the team, so here’s the question: when do we forgive, if that’s even the right word, and move on?

While many, myself included, think Richmond’s sentence for rape was far too light, it was the sentence given to him, and he served it. And so, do we continue to punish him for the rest of his life for a crime, albeit a sexual assault, he committed as a teenager? When do we move on? Do we move on?

I lean toward ‘Yes.’ Richmond did the crime, he did his time, he paid his debt, hoewever light that might have been; but then I think about the victim. She’ll carry this with her forever, and then, perhaps, one day she might absentmindedly be clicking though the channels on her TV and come across a professional football game and see one of her rapists playing, being celebrated for his athleticism, and making, no doubt, quite a good living off the sport.

And I lean toward ‘No.’ Have we done her a disservice? Have we once again subjected her to more victimization?

I want to think we could, and this isn’t the right word, forgive, the crime of a teenager and let him, or her, live their lives as they choose, but then I think about the life-long emotional scars on that victim and wonder if we should ever, in any way shape or form, forgive a convicted convicted rapist.

Like I said, I’m stymied. Do we continue, for the rest of his life, to punish Ma'lik Richmond for his crime and deny him the right to earn a living doing what he loves? Or, do we stand with the victim, for always, and tell this young man that all he is, and all he will ever be is a convicted rapist?

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Happy Three Seventeen Anniversary!

I say ‘Three Seventeen’ because it’s three years legally married and seventeen years, um, illegally married, or not allowed to legally marry ... but I digress ...

Here’s how this happened … I was late to the Internet party. I didn't get a computer until the mid-90s, and didn't get online until a couple of years after that. But I have learned throughout my life that all things happen for a reason. I got on AOL—yes, that old thang—and learned of something called a "chat room" where you can talk to people from all over the world. Huh? What? Huh? I decided to give it a shot and I found a Chat Room called Gay Lifestyles and figured I'd go in.

I was the quiet one in the corner until I learned to speak up, or is it ‘type’ up? But I liked the chat rooms for the fun and jokes, not for the hook-ups — there were other rooms for that. I was single and that was okay. I'd had a couple of mini-relationships that didn't pan out and figured maybe I'd be the single guy, and, again, that was okay. I liked my life, my job, my house, my friends. What more did I need?

But in April of 2000, I was in a chatroom and someone asked, "Where is everybody from?" I answered "Cali here" because I'd seen other people call California by that name. A few minutes later I got a message from someone named Carlos who asked about Cali, but there was a mix-up; he was talking Cali, Colombia, and I was talking Cali … fornia. It could have ended there but we decided to exchange emails and chat some more.

Carlos then suggested we talk by phone. I was already attracted to him just by what he wrote and the way he thought about things, though, being the shy one, I was a bit apprehensive; still, I said ‘Okay.’

On the day of the call  I raced home from work so I could be ready; there is a three hour time difference between Miami and Sacramento, so it was getting late for him, when my phone rang.

I remember hearing his voice that first time and falling in love with that accent. I remember what we said, and how we said it, and how we wanted to talk more and share pictures and find out all we could about each other. I remember how he laughed that first time.

We talked every day after that; he’d called in the late morning from his job as I was getting dressed in the early morning to go to mine; and then I’d call in the early evening to talk to him before he went to sleep. We emailed and messaged and sent packages and pictures and songs; it was a long distance romance and I wanted to decrease that space between us.

So I took eleven days off in July 2000 and flew to Miami. I know! Miami in July! What was I thinking? I was thinking that this man was something special and I wanted to see him in-person and to know what this all meant. I wanted to hear that accent in person. I wanted to know all about him. I was thinking he was 'the one.'

He picked me up at the Ft Lauderdale airport, wearing a bow-tie and carrying a bouquet of roses; he looked exactly like his pictures, though much cuter. We had lunch and walked along the beach; we drove to South Beach and stayed in a hotel because his aunt was staying at his house and we wanted privacy.

We spent a weekend in Key West and Carlos wore a sarong as we walked through town to see the sunset. I heard him play his trumpet with a volunteer orchestra he belonged to, and I met his Aunt Gloria — who became my tour-guide and friend, and, even before we legally tied the knot, my Tia Gloria; I met Dengoso, the poodle; Thomas, Scruffy, Sweety, Lady, Voncie, Spunky and Squeaky, the cats. I wanted this … this man … this life … this place.

That vacation flew by and we were both in tears not knowing what was next. Moving? Staying long-distance? What was next turned out to be a visit from Carlos to California, and a ‘Meet The Family’ dinner. Of course, my family loved him. My Mom loved him because he loved me; my sister loved him because he's a nice guy; my brother loved him for that same reason. My Dad loved him because Carlos is Carlos, what you see is what you get. No pretense. Carlos met my friends and we had dinners and parties and good times. San Francisco; tea in the Japanese Garden; drinks in the Castro; a drive around Lake Tahoe. Then he had to go home and, once again, we wondered what we would do next.

We called and emailed still; he spoke with my parents and friends and I spoke with his family until it became clear: I would move to Miami. I had a job that would transfer well to Florida and, well, there are times in life where you just have to, as I like to say, Shake the Etch-A-Sketch.

So, where does this all lead? It leads to today, seventeen years after I stepped off another plane in Florida, though this time I wouldn't be staying just a week or so. Seventeen years ago today Carlos and I started our life together and there was no looking back; only forward.

And it’s now been three years since we stood before a judge in Bellingham, Washington, saying our vows. I seriously never thought I would see the day that I would ... that I could... marry Carlos, with my father as a witness, but we did just that. I only wish my mother and sister could have been there in more than just spirit because, as much as they love me, they love Carlos as much ... maybe more.

I remember as a kid — a not-yet-out-but-knowing-I-was-different kid — telling my mother that I would never get married, but I would have a maid to take care of my kids. How things change; as I remember that story now, realizing it may have been my first shot at coming out — as a six-year-old, I think — because, even then, I never thought I could get married, never thought I would be allowed to get married, but I always thought I could have children if that’s what I wanted.

Years later, after meeting Carlos, falling in love with Carlos, and moving three-thousand miles to be with Carlos, I still never thought I could get married, and then, fourteen years after we started our life together, it became clear that we could get married — perhaps not in South Carolina, it wasn’t legal here yet — and that we would get married. We both wanted to do it, and we planned it a couple of times, but it never seemed to work out; like I said, things happen, life happens.

I wanted to get married on our anniversary, October 17, because, and he’ll hate me for saying it and then he’ll quickly forget I said it at all, Carlos is bad with dates; I figured the last thing he needed was another “us” date to recall. So, in August 2014, we decided to go for it. We’d planned a trip to New York City — one of our favorite spots where equality had landed — and a week of sights and shows and drinks and fun. I called my father and told him the good news; he said he was so happy for us but that he wouldn’t, couldn’t come, because he doesn’t 'do' big cities. I thought, Oh that’s okay, Dad and let it go, but every time we talked about it, he’d always say that same thing.

And then it hit me: I’m an idiot. My father was saying how much he wanted to see Carlos and I marry; he’d seen my brother get married, he walked my sister down the aisle, and he wanted to see Carlos and I marry as well. 

New York was out, and Bellingham was in, and off we went to Sumas, a literal hop and skip — no jump because it's that close — from Canada. We’d get married in Bellingham — a beautiful city on Bellingham Bay — and on our first day there, applied for our marriage license. It was a snap, and afterward we had lunch with my Dad. While driving around Carlos wondered about the three-day waiting period, and I said it gave people a chance to make sure this was what they wanted to do and he replied,
Yeah, three days! Because fourteen years isn’t long enough.
I almost drove off the road.

By Friday the 17th, we were ready to get this thing done. Since the only person we knew in Washington was my Dad, and we needed two witnesses, he asked his friend Casey and her boyfriend, Tyler, to be our witnesses, and we ended up with a spare, you know just in case.

At four-thirty we were inside the Bellingham Courthouse — through security … do I really need to take my belt off — and upstairs to meet Judge Henley. Then it was short trek down the hall to an open courtroom, followed by a few instructions, a quick chat … Judge Henley said the ceremony calls for the use of the words ‘spouse’ or the words ‘husband’ and asked what we wanted to do. Carlos and I said, in unison, Husbands! Anyone can have a spouse, we wanted a husband.

I don’t remember too much about the actual ceremony, really. I remember giggling a little and giving Carlos a side-eye during the richer-poorer part because I thought he’d say, Hmm, poorer? Maybe not so much. And I remember getting teary-eyed listening to him repeat his vows because Carlos can be very serious and he rarely gets weepy; but he stumbled over some words, and his voice cracked, and my eyes watered, but we made it through. A quick exchange of rings — that’s them up there on top — and it was kiss the groom. Kiss.The.Groom. Who knew? Bing bang boom, married.

Afterward, my father took the wedding gang out for dinner at a restaurant along the bay, where we watched the sunset over the marina, and drank a little and laughed a lot, and let it all sink in. My father, some new friends, and my new husband.

It was all so simple, really, and yet such a long time coming; from the days when that little kid never thought he could get married to three years ago when a  much older kid realized he could, and would, and did.

So, this year, while we celebrate seventeen years as a couple as partners, lovers, friends, travelers, we are also celebrating our third year of marriage, our actual Third Wedding Anniversary.

It’s been a fabulous ride and, while I didn’t say this myself — Charlotte said it in one of those Sex and the City movies — I like to say that I am happy every single day with Carlos. Oh, not all day, every day, because that’s life, but every single day for the last seventeen years, I have realized how happy I am and how happy he makes me.

And that’s something to celebrate!

PS Also celebrating anniversaries today are Anne Marie of 
From My Brain to My Mouth and Todd of ArTeeJee, as well as Travel Penguin and his Sweet Bear!

Stop in and wish them all Happy Happy!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Just A Thought

Nero Fiddled While Rome Burned; _____ Golfs While California Blazes

As the death toll rose to 45, more than 10,000 firefighters battled some 16 wildfires in Northern California; more than 300 people are missing. The fires have consumed more than 214,000 acres of land, forced over 100,000 residents to evacuate and damaged or destroyed at least 5,700 homes and businesses.

In Puerto Rico, 91% of the island is still without power a month after Hurricane Maria, the death toll in Puerto Rico had risen to 48, people are drinking water being pumped to them from a “federally designated hazardous-waste site, and  _____ vows to pull FEMA off the island.

And _____ once again took the weekend off and headed to the _____ National Golf Club Sunday, making this his seventy-third golf trip since taking office last January; seventy-three gold days in 241 days in office means that roughly 30% of his time is spent on a golf course which is a lot for a man who promised, promised, not to take a vacation because being the president is s full-time job.

But that was a lie because every single mother f**king word that comes out of his mouth is a lie.

And why is _____ ignoring California and victim-shaming Puerto Rico? Politics. Puerto Rico is full of brown-skinned people and California is a Blue State. If that doesn’t make you angry, that a president of this country is allowing people to suffer and die and lose everything they have while he plays golf, then grab a mirror and look into it: you’re the problem. You have no heart and you need to know one thing: one day some tragedy will befall you, or your state and your president will be waddling around a golf course.

And don't cry about it because it's your fault.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

It's Snarkurday!

By now you’ve all heard about the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault storm, right? I mean, it stands at just over thirty women and Harvey looks to be making a run at Bill Cosby Accuser Numbers. Ah, being rich allows you to sexually assault women, eh, _____?

Anyway, a new wrinkle has appeared in the Weinstein Saga ... namely that Harvey’s brother, and business partner, Bob Weinstein, is the one who spilled the beans about Harvey and Little Harvey’s misdeeds.

A source—and it’s ALLEGEDLY a former staffer—saysthat Bob, who co-founded The Weinstein Company and its predecessor Miramax with Harvey, deliberately exposed his brother as a sexual predator in order to squeeze him out and take over the business; the source also says Bob might have been who tattled to the New York Times, which ran that expose on Harvey’s        ALLEGED history of sexual harassment and multiple related settlements, and says Bob has been plotting this for a long time.

Ah, sibling rivalry. I remember when my brother and I would fight over something stupid but times change and now outing your brother as a pervert to become top-dog at the family business is the new move.

And it’s made all the more skeevey because, clearly, Bob Weinstein knew all about it and said nothing for years.
James Woods is leaving acting, and Acting replied:
“Huh? I assumed you’d already gone.”
At any rate, Woods, a Twittering Asshatted Conservative Douchebag, apparently left it up to his real estate agent, Allen Gammons, to say that Woods’ Exeter, Rhode Island property is going on the market because James is “retiring from the entertainment industry and seeking to ‘simplify his life’ by selling ‘his many real estate holdings on both coasts.’”

When I retire I’m gonna have the paperboy deliver the news with the Smallville Times ...
It appears Nelly was put into handcuffs out in Washington this week after a woman claimed she was raped by him on his tour bus. The woman called 911 at 3:48 in the morning claiming she was sexually assaulted by Nelly on his tour bus which was parked outside a Walmart. And clearly Nelly is not a big enough celebrity to warrant special treatment because he was arrested less than an hour after the claim was made and booked on second degree rape charges. He was released a few hours later.

Nelly’s people are, naturally, claiming that he’s the victim in all this:
“Nelly is the victim of a completely fabricated allegation. Our initial investigation , clearly establishes , this allegation is devoid of credibility and is motivated by greed and vindictiveness. I am confident , once this scurrilous accusation is thoroughly investigated , there will be no charges. Nelly is prepared to address and pursue all legal avenues to redress any damage caused by this clearly false allegation.”
Funny, though, that the woman called as soon as the ALLEGED rape was over, and hasn’t asked for a dime; but still, you know, Celebrity Privilege.

And then, in other, gross, Nelly news ... there is a Twitter Video—a Twideo?—from a Nelly show of him twirling a little girl’s hair all sexy-like while performing on stage because nothing says Ick more than a grown man flirting with a child.
Oh Little Richard. Gurl, please make up your mind.

This week, flamboyantly, openly, wildly gay Little Richard renounced his homosexuality saying same-sex relationships are “unnatural affections” when he appeared on Today Live on the Christian network Three Angels Broadcasting to announce he was going back into the closet:
“When I first come in show business they wanted you to look like everybody but yourself. And, anybody that comes in show business they gone say you gay or straight… God made men, men and women, women.”
This is yet another Little Richard Tutti-Frutti Flip Flop; in his 1984 biography, he said homosexuality was “unnatural” and “contagious” but then in 1995 he came out as gay in an interview with Penthouse—apparently someone infected with the gay coughed near him and he caught it ... or something—and said:
“I’ve been gay all my life and I know God is a God of love, not of hate.”
Then in 2012 GQ interview, he talked of all the orgies he’s taken part in with both men and women, but now, this time, he’s totally not gay.

Until he does an interview again. I’m guessing.
Is Alec Baldwin back at his bead behavior? A source—and it might have been a _____ spawn seeking revenge for Baldwin’s impersonation  of the Bigot-In-Chief—says they saw Alec get into a fight with two people in a black SUV on an NYC street this week.

There’s no indication of why Baldwin went Street Nuts again though maybe the driver just pissed on Baldwin while he was out for a stroll; he was heard calling the driver a “meatball” and then demanding that the driver and passenger get out of the vehicle. But the driver knows you don’t exit a vehicle when Alec shouts because he’s been known to brawl in the streets so they didn’t oblige, which pissed Alec off more.

He whipped out his phone and started videotaping them, and when they sped off he took a picture of their license plate and then tossed the Big Gulp he was carrying to the ground.

Oh, now it’s clear. Alec was having a Slurpee when the SUV drove by and it startled him and he spilled some drink on his shirt so it was time to fight ...

I mean that sounds as plausible as any other reason for Baldwin to go Nuts In The Streets again.
Lea Michele is annoying.

She’d tried to play herself off as Barbra Streisand 2.0 on Glee but she was more Streisand-extra-lite and extra-bothersome. Now she’s on a new show, The Mayor, playing a secondary character and, well, it appears as though someone over there doesn’t like Lea so much and is spilling some tea or throwing some shade.

As in Lea Michele sends herself flowers every day on set. A source says bouquets have arrived every day for Michele and she “likes everyone to see them and makes a big song and dance about it. Every. Single. Time.”

Now, truth be told, Lea has been dating clothing designer Zandy Reich since July but no one on the set thinks he’s the Flower Boy.

The spy says:
“The flowers arrive the same time every day, so we joke that she’s set up auto-delivery with the flower company.”
Well, her voice if often auto-tuned so maybe the flowers are auto-delivered.
Michelle Collins, comedian and former co-host on The View—and who hasn’t been a co-host on that show? I did a week there back in ’07 but was kicked to the curb for opening Barbara’s crypt before she was fully made up—has a friend who works for Sarah Jessica Parker and Collins got her hands on an email from SJP to her “staff” on how things should be done around the Parker-Broderick home.

Who knew SJP could be so very Joan Crawford? I mean, besides Kim Cattrall.

Anyway, in the emails Collins says were writtn by SJP, the actress instructs “staffers” to refill a tiny 1.75-ounce container of Vaseline with a small spoon or knife for her children’s use. She stresses that the refill jar not be too big (so as to not clutter the house), and that the cutlery used to handle the Vaseline must be hand-washed using a paper towel followed by a cycle in the dishwasher.

Out damned spots!

Other things to be monitored and refilled include the face and body wash in her 14-year-old son’s personal shower. Seriously, the last place I wanna check out is the shower of a horny fourteen-year-old boy! Just sayin’.

SJP has also given instructions on how hard the children should blink when eye drops are administered; this ALLEGEDLY comes on the heels of a Pink-Eye issue from last year.

But she’s not all pissy and prickly; oh no, instructions are also given for Taco Tuesday when SJP asks staffers to purchase, ahem, “whatever meat goes in tacos”.

And it better not taste like Cattrall.

Friday, October 13, 2017

PR 16 Ep 9: She's Claire-ly A Cheater

We got another week of ‘To Be Continued ...’ last week and I will say, this time it was worth it. As you recall, last week, after Claire was announced as the winner, Michael left the stage, and that’s right where we picked up again this week. Michael speaks with Tim Gunn and says he feels Claire’s win lacks fairness.

Tim being Tim says Michael is entitled to his opinion, but then Michael plays the cheating card; he tells Tim that Claire has a measuring tape in her room and measures her clothes and uses those measurements to make her garments week to week, most notably, he says, the shirt Claire and Shawn used in the Good and Evil Challenge.

While this plays out, the judges are wondering if Michael hates Claire and that’s why he fled, and Claire stands there rubbernecking, and twisting her face into all sorts of ‘I dunno’ and ‘Why me’. Then Margarita leaves the stage to find Michael and she backs up his story about TapeMeasureGate. She tells Tim this is not about not liking Claire’s look, or even the fact that she’s copying other people’s designs, but that she’s cheating.

Onstage, Batani and Kenya, and Kentaro with a wry look, tell the judges that there was a “situation” with Claire’s top, to which Claire exclaims:
“Did she think I knocked off her top from the last challenge?”
Funny that came right out of her mouth if she didn’t know she was copying Margarita’s look. But the best was Kenya looking toward the heavens and saying:
“You did!”
Backstage, Michael explains to Tim that he’s seen Claire’s retractable ruler and that she writes notes on paper or her hands and brings the measurements into the workroom.

And Tim Gunn will not have that, but ... onstage Michael says he ran off because he couldn’t stand there and listen to a win he didn’t feel was deserved; Claire’s mouth gapes open like a dead flounder. Guest judge Yolanda Hadid snippily asks:
“Are you a judge in this show or are you a participant?”
Heidi shuts it down by explaining that it’s not against the rules to borrow from one another; they just aren’t allowed to use the internet and Michael snaps:
“There is no need for internet when you brought the pieces you’re ripping off.”
Yolanda tries to Kumbaya the situation and I tried throwing a shoe at the TV but then Heidi stifles everyone by telling them that Claire has won and that’s that; and then she gives Batani an Aufing.

Claire tries to say she doesn’t care about the win because she’s so frustrated that people think she’s been ripping off her own clothes and she feels like she been hit by  a truck, and then she heads backstage.

In the waiting room, Margarita tells Claire:
“At the end of the day, it was a print challenge, and you had a beautiful print.”
And that’s that ... except, when Michael comes into the waiting room, he apologizes to Claire for how he handled the situation; she says she wished he would have talked to her first and then, perhaps because she’s a lying cheater, Claire outs herself to the group.

Enter Tim Gunn ...
“First things first: Claire, is it true that you’ve had a measuring tape in your room?”
She won’t look at him:
“I have a measuring tape.”
“Is it true that you’ve been measuring garments in your room?”
She still won’t make eye contact:
“I have measured a tank top and I have measured the crotch of a pair of pants.”
Tim then says:
“Get the f**k outta my workroom you untalented hack.”
Oh, that was me; Tim said:
“All right, Claire, we must rescind your win and send you home.”
And just like that, Twin Two, Cheating Claire joins her sister, Sobbing Shawn, in the Auf’d category. And once her stank is out of the room, Tim tells the other designtestants that there will be no winner for this challenge, no money given out, but that Dixie will use Brandon’s print for free on their cups!

Score for Dixie!

Tim also tells Batani that she will be staying and I’m exhausted and yet there’s still a whole show to recap ...

The next day the runway has little girls and dolls and tea parties all around when the designtestants show up and then Tim explains that this will be a Shopkins Challenge and I’m thinking I’m old because I’ve no clue what a Shopkins is.

Well, Shopkins has created “Shoppies,” which are dolls that also collect Shopkins, which are little bits of plastic goodies or somesuch. And the girls in the room are Shoppie superfans, and each one, and their Shoppie dolls, will be paired with a designer to create an avant-garde look.

I thought:
“Avant-garde looks for kids.”
Then I realized that it was the kids and the Shoppies as inspirations for their model’s to rock an avant-garde look.

So, let’s rip ...
KENYA It’s really pretty but is it avant-garde? Nope. She'd said something about 'tendrils' but I guess they didn't make the cut.

KENTARO I’m getting Ballerina Bridal though I do love the sculpted skirt.
Brandon’s superfan loves chocolate and wants chocolate melted all over the dress and Brandon freaks out; at Mood he cannot even go to the brown section and instead heads for a pastel green and beige area.

He is all kinds of worried because he’s never done avant-garde before and this makes Michael giddy; even Kenya snarks that maybe The Golden Boy will go down. Even Tim, though, is worried, because Brandon seems lost and his look appears too simple. Tim then gives him an idea for creating a stackable dress and Brandon is off.

She looks stunning. It’s avant-garde. It’s out there. It has a great silhouette. It’s clean.

He stepped up a bit, and I do love the silhouette, but is it avant-garde?

Zac Posen called it sophisticated and cool, and loves the cuffs on the skirt; he’s also glad that Brandon stayed true to his POV while going a little avant-garde.

Guest Judge, model Kate Upton, loved the color and the strap detail at the neck.

Nina Garcia loved that she could see Brandon’s “language” through the clothes.

Heidi thought it was a cool winner.
Batani’s Shoppie was Pepper-Mint, and her superfan wanted something in blue with flowers and lots of color, which is right up Batani’s alley, meaning it’ll be great, or ...

Tim loves the color, and the print, and the ideas, but when Batani mentioned some sort of one-winged gimmick idea, he puts the kibosh on that. Batani then rethinks and, well ...

I love my dress, the color, the volume.

It’s oh-so-short under splotches of fabric that seem haphazardly sewn together.

Heidi is not loving it; she calls it scraps sewn together and says it looks unfinished. And she hates how the too-short black skirt can be seen, and thinks that was a mistake.

Nina Garcia says it looks like Batani ran out of time, and also hates the mistake of the black skirt, even when Batani insists she wanted it like that.

Zac Posen said it wasn’t working and called it “laundry day”. He also hated the weird cut-out in the back.

Kate Upton says there’s an art to deconstruction construction, but this isn’t it.
I fear for Ayana because she says she is tired of being in Safe Mode and she doesn’t care if she’s in the Bottom as long as she gets some feedback.

And she might get more than that when she shows Tim her idea of pleats and ruffles and giant bows in pinks and yellows and polka dots and tulle.

Tim orders her to edit, so she scraps one bow and then sets about making a hoop-skirt-dress out of chicken wire. Chicken.Wire.  Like I said, I fear for her.

Liris is elegant and classy and sexy, even in this.

I lovelovelove it. It’s totally avant-garde and Liris worked it.

Kate Upton calls it says the look is a showstopper and loves the entire look.

Heidi loves the imagination, the bows, the color, the volume; the bigness of it all won her over.

Zac Posen dubs it “Surrealist Bo Peep”  and calls it fun and expressive , and loved the weird dotted leggings.

Nina Garcia said it was sophisticated but childlike at the same time and was all about the bow ... especially that Liris’ hair was combed into another bow!.
Margarita’s Shopkins superfan wanted an Oscar dress in glitter and sparkles and she took that idea and twisted it into a cloud.

She took some actual packing materials and used that to mold some of the sequined fabrics into sculptural pieces which Tim really loved.

It’s literally a dream, sparkly and soft.

I love the sculptural quality to it, but I wish there’s been some color to it.

Heidi loves it, calling it “beyond stunning ... like a cloud” coming down the runway. She also loved that, despite the volume, you could still see the model’s shape.

Kate loved all the different textures and textiles.

Zac Posen called it sensual and emotional and loved how the fabrics spoke for themselves.

Nina Garcia called it a “360 explosion.”
Amy is a very simple, but effective designer, and her Shopkins superfan liked the idea that the Shopkins are like puzzle piece that come on and off to create a look; so Amy tried to do that.

Tim, however, is confused; he likes it from the hips up, but from the hips down, and called one fabric “old pantyhose.”

Not a good look.

It looks simple [but] it looks like my design character.

It’s kinda sloppy looking and not at all avant-garde, except for, maybe, the wild collar.

Heidi was not a fan, especially when she compared it to the others.

Zac Posen said it wasn’t risky enough to be avant-garde.

Nina Garcia also agreed that Amy should have taken her aesthetic of streamlined design and pushed it more.

Kate Upton loved the collar and thought that it would so “something” but it didn’t.
His superfan was all about disco and Michael was on it: disco ball. I thought it might be a bit too literal, but then he told Tim it would be like a disco ball melting.

Tim went for it, but said if it was to be made all in one sequined fabric, it had better be perfectly constructed.

There’s so much refinement in my work.

There were so many lumps and bumps and balls, it looked like a Disco Goiter.

Nina Garcia called it well-made, fantastic and sci-fi, with a futuristic peplum.

Kate Upton wanted to wear it dancing.

Heidi loved that it looked good from every angle, and makes the model spin and spin and spin!

Zac Posen called it liquid and melting and Sensual Tin Man; he loved the imagination Michael used.
Heidi announces that Kenya and Kentaro are safe, but tells the other designers that “one ... or ... more of you will be out.”

Uh oh. She also says there are four Tops and two Bottoms this week—and that number doesn’t work well in any situation. She then gives Michael the win, gives Brandon, Ayana and Margarita the safes.

Batani is out ... again.

And Amy gets Auf’d too.

I agree with the Aufings, but the win, for me, should have been Ayana’s. Her looks was startling and cool and odd and avant-garde all the way; Michael’s was a sequined jumpsuit with some lumps and bumps.

Michael claims it wasn’t his intention to get Claire kicked off, but as a PR fan, I remember back to the early days when another contestant got the boot for bringing design books with them, so, yeah, Michael there’s a precedent.

And Margarita claiming she didn’t man to stir up all this mess, even though she kvetched about it ad nauseum in the workroom all day? Gurl, please.

LINES OF THE NIGHT go to Kentaro, first for this exchange with Kenya:
“Kenya, would you join us in the sauna.”
He pronounces it sow-na. Kenya says:
“Santa! Santa Claus! Merry Christmas!”
Kentaro also scored with the line he uttered at the end of the work day as everyone headed out:
“Don’t bring tape measure!”
Too late for Claire. Tee-hee.

Heidi gets a Runner-up nod for Line of the Night with this one to Batani:
“As I always say, in fashion, one day you are in, and the next day you’re out. And then you’re back in again!”
Wait. Posen has a cookbook, Cooking With Zac? Hey Zac, as you often tell the designtestants, focus on what you’re good at, m’kay?

Claire proved herself both a liar and a loser, because you saw the moment she admitted to having a tape measure, she was outta there. Her facial expression of faux shock and awe were just like her clothes: stolen and faux.

As for The Tents, I’m still seeing Brandon and Kentaro; Margarita has come up again, as has Michael. Kenya was too safe this week, but the stunner was Ayana; if she keeps this up, she could be a contender.

Next week? Another Unconventional Challenge and Claire and Shawn return ...

I kid about that last bit.

What did YOU think?