Friday, October 31, 2008

Your Horror-scope

Repost from last Halloween.

ARIES: Whatever you don't want to wake up to won't go away. Your will alone isn't enough to end the nightmare that is lurking outside your door. Instead of ignoring all the signs that are telling you there is a heavy-breathing axe murderer in your kitchen, you might want to accept the fact that this was bound to happen, sooner or later. It may come down to realizing that what you want isn't what you need. What you NEED is a chainsaw to give you a fighting chance.

TAURUS: You'd be happier if you didn't have this interpersonal conflict to deal with all the time. I hate to be the one to clue you in, but fighting hungry zombies off is an addiction. You're strong enough to keep doing this and be fine, but something tells me it's a little messed up. No one is what they do. If you're not your zombie slaughtering, who are you? The effort you spend outwardly – cutting their throats out and the wholesale dismembering – needs to be balanced with more joy and relaxation. If the idea of time out scares you it's only because you aren't ready to find yourself. And that's OK too, I suppose. Keep working — see what it gets you.

GEMINI: This blur around you would be clearer if you would slow down and take time to look at what's going on. You've received a traumatic blow to the head. And that might be the only thing keeping you from admitting that it came from your child, who is really Satan's spawn. Admitting that things have gotten out of control would help you decide what you need to do to restore order. The fact is, the neighbor's missing pets are probably buried in your garden and it's high time you dug these issues up and started dealing with this. Being clearer with others is a big item – well, except when it comes to Satanic children. Trying to talk it out with them is usually a lost cause.

CANCER: Your astrological sign is the name of a horrible, if not horrifying, disease for a reason. Sorry to break the news. But compared to the Children Of The Corn-style death you were originally going get 8 years from now, consider this prognosis a blessing.

LEO: If you're feeling a little shaky, it's because you can't decide whether to stay or go. Other prospects look promising enough to pursue, but there are fears about whether they will lead to anything. Oh, and LOOK OUT, Virgo is standing behind you with a butcher knife!

VIRGO: That was totally hard core what you did to Leo. But honestly, you've been on the fence about the relationship for a long time. Remember that you need to be strong right now. People are bound to try to wheedle their way back into your good graces at a time when you're feeling vulnerable enough to allow it. When that happens, don't be afraid to take measures into your own hands. Even if that means knifing them from behind.

LIBRA: Now that you've made your decision you're wondering if it's what you want. Sure, it seemed like becoming a Vampire and joining the gothically glamorous ranks of the blood-sucking undead was a cool thing to do. But your big plans have suddenly collided with your bloodlessly cold feet. This isn't like you. What happened to the brave soul who isn't afraid to take risks? Oh, that's right. You sold your soul to become a fanged-tooth, human mosquito. Well, good luck with that.

SCORPIO: It isn't your job to be there for others if they can't take more responsibility for their actions. True, your three best friends are being tortured to death, SAW-style, in some psychopath's basement. But they can't say you didn't warn them. At this point a little hardball and the ability to say no will go a long way. Sure, you COULD call the cops and get them out of the mess they're in. But why spare them an invaluable lesson? The main issue seems to be that you feel obligated and guilty about things that were never your doing. As painful as it is to watch those close to you come unglued – or torn limb from limb while the others watch – people have their own lives. Trust that this is their lesson and pray that they learn it.

SAGITTARIUS: You've had enough signs telling you what to do. The visits from that nosy cop. The landlord's pesky questions about the stench coming from your apartment. Your biggest problem is that you can't act on what all of your senses are telling you is true. And that is that it's perfectly normal to store your victim's body parts in formaldeyhde and take them out to play with once in a while. What you think will come as a shock to people is in their best interest. Because, honestly, everybody should try this! Dealing with the aftermath is what's freaking you out. The disapproving looks of your peers. The prison sentence. But you can't keep this little charade up too much longer. Tell the truth and get it over with as soon as you can.

CAPRICORN: Aside from the regular hassles, you've got your life all wrapped up. Nothing's really bugging you except for the idea that there's got to be more than this. Being a mummy is just not as cool – or scary – as it used to be. There was a time when you and Frankenstein were the toast of Halloween. Kids literally shit their pants at the sight of you. And now... after the tasteless gore and totally over-the-top shock of the past thirty years of scare culture, you feel more like a relic. You can't keep doing whatever you're doing and expect kids to be scared by the underwhelming spectacle of some guy in bandages moaning and stumbling forward at a snail's pace. Keep looking for ways to expand your horizons. Try throwing some hatchets in the mix or, better yet, try eating a little flesh once in a while. Find your signature brand. Think of Jason's hockey mask, or Freddy's claws. You need a new niche and when you find it, you'll get back the confidence you've always known you deserved.

AQUARIUS: You are more than clear that you need to partner up, but before you can do that, your trust issues need to be fully addressed. Sure, you're motherfucking Frankenstein, but beneath that bulky exterior and a brute manner that many take for insensitivity, you've got a gentle side too. While the fact that the Bride of Frankenstein has been stepping out on you is bound to hurt, the truth is they might have more on the ball than you do. Getting to know them will require you to release feelings of superiority and to stop trying to crush their head every time you have an argument. If you can see that you're not above it all, it will open the space for both of you to discover how much you have in common (remember, the dating pool for classic horror icons is getting smaller all the time) and how much more you can accomplish as a team.

PISCES: No one needs to know what you're going through. If they pretend to care it doesn't mean that you have to tell them everything, not for a while anyway. Those midnight transformations might be better left as your little secret until you figure out what to do about it. Just keep the howling at the moon and the savage hunting of human game to a minimum unless you want the neighbors to get suspicious. Getting real about how much human flesh you need in your diet – not to mention the quality sleep time you've been losing – and overriding your concerns that others will be left high and dry if they learn about your little furry alter ego, will require you to forget about what anyone thinks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Waxing Brazilian

I just wrapped up production and mixing for Millions of Brazilians, a real up-and-coming Detroit band and a fine bunch of idiots. My so-called production consisted of shitting synthesizer over their rock tracks and then editing and mixing in as much of it as they would let me. On "Happy Dagger," though, they put a stop to it and told me I had gone to far. "Fine," I said, "then I'm doing a remix." And so I did.

Millions of Brazilians - "Happy Dagger (The Clapp Remix)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


When I was a kid my Grandma got me one of those customized childrens' books. It was a Sesame Street story with my name throughout it. This is kind of like that. Only not as enjoyable. And slightly critical of me. Sent to my email moments ago: "Obama's Loss Traced To Daniel Johnson"

Monday, October 27, 2008

Claire Abroad

I posted the closeups of some of the pictures because I think Claire's expressions are hilarious.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bill Maher and the Militant Agnosticism of "Religulous"

When Kirst and I first met and were e-courting I remember, trying to explain myself and look cool at the same time, calling myself a "militant agnostic." Her reply: "Well, I'm not a militant anything." When I read that I knew that this was a girl who had a perspective I needed to get with. I liked the lack of judgment her response implied, and in some ways we were coming from the same point of view: people should be able to believe whatever they want. But looking back, I think my instincts went a bit further than that and what I really felt was, when it comes to the big questions, not only do I not know, I kind of have a problem with anybody saying they do.

I saw the film Religulous last night and left the theater humming from the perfect resonance that comes from having someone both articulate your own perspective back to you and help you refine it. The film is directed by Larry Charles (Borat, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld) and follows satirist Bill Maher around the world as he confronts both the leaders and followers of various religions, from fringe to mainstream. Like Borat, which disguised its political commentary in the shock and shenanigans of ambush comedy, Religulous's jokes have dead-serious implications. But after a hilarious two-hours of clear-eyed journeys through the halls of absurdity, Maher wraps the whole thing up in a sobering closing monologue - cut to the familiar stock images of global brutality and war that we've come to take for granted - in which he makes the case that not only is humanity in danger of destroying itself, beliefs like Christianity and Islam are greasing the wheels. Religions are not just fantastical myths, he says, they're political systems in disguise. And now that us humans have finally got our hands on the means to ACTUALLY DESTROY THE WORLD, any political group that looks toward the Apocalypse with welcoming arms can no longer be viewed as benign. "If there's anything I hate more than prophecy," Maher says, "it's self-fulfilling prophecy."

This is where I get stuck, working out what I feel about tolerance and the limits to it. Maher spends much of the last quarter of the film in Amsterdam, a city famous for its permisiveness. But he illustrates how that town has also become a breeding ground for hate and extremism: the Dutch are in danger of becoming tolerant of intolerance. If we all agree that some beliefs are so irrational and destructive that they should be confronted, at what point do we need to start calling out organized religion on its immorality.

Maher has some beautiful and solid things to say about the importance of doubt: doubt is not just humble, its logical. As Maher points out, human history is nothing if not one big thousands-year-old story of people getting shit dead wrong.

It's a shame that so many people are put off by the thinly veiled anger in Maher's tone and throughout the film's travels his reputation proceeds him, occassionally blocking him out of interview opportunities and even getting him kicked out of the Vatican. I'm a big fan now, but even I found Maher hard to take during his Politically Incorrect years, until I realized that much of his rage is really just misdirected, but sincere, humanism. (His new HBO program Real Time with Bill Maher is a much better version of what he attempted ealier on network TV.) But Religulous might cast Maher's satire in a whole new light. Instead of coming across like an argumentative comic taking on a bunch of easy targets just to look superior and be contrary for its own sake, it reads like a work of geniuine concern. It's interesting watching Maher working out how much shrift to give the various politicians, holy men and true believers he interviews, for courtesy's sake, while at the same time exposing the corruption, fear and ignorance behind what they're saying. But it never seems mean and I think Maher and Charles found a great balance between inclusiveness and following their conscience. Still, Maher is an equal opportunity offender and just about everybody can find something in this film to offend their sensibilities. Which is a shame, because a gentler cut of Religulous could qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize.

If I had one misgiving, it's mostly the result of leftover superstition coating the walls of my brain and has to do with Maher's makeup: his producers should really rethink caking his face and eyebrows in so much white foundation. His hair is already grayed and the excess white doesn't just wash his face out, it makes it look like a death shroud. There is something truly eerie about receiving a sermon of sacrilidge from somebody who increasingly resembles this guy:

Please, go see Religulous. I think it has something urgent and challenging to say to people of all beliefs, even agnostics like me. I spent my first year of college at a Bible school in Missouri, where people study for Christian ministry. It was a pretty dispicable place to be, but I'd go back under one condition: to teach a course on doubt. I'm kidding in a way. I don't actually believe I'm qualified to be a professor of anything. But I think all institutions should employ a resident skeptic. A kind of ombudsman whose job it is to play devil's advocate. We don't make enough room for contrary views in our institutions, and I'm thankful to see a film like Religulous existing at all. If we're going to indoctrinate our children with our personal worldviews anyway, why not sow some seeds of doubt in their as well out of respect for human failing. Religulous could be such a text, an instructional video for doubt, and should be required viewing for every person on this planet.

Listen to Terry Gross interview Maher and Charles on Fresh Air.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Clarification

I know I have no business talking politics and I promise to shut up in a second. But I just wanted to frame my last post a little bit more accurately, since it might seem to imply something it shouldn't.

More than anything else, the thing that bothers me about our politics is the two-party stranglehold. It frames most issues in either/or terms and forces candidates into positions of extreme when nuance could have been possible. So my Obama willies shouldn't be taken as a defacto endorsement of McCain. That McCain should not be in the hot seat I think goes without saying.

My girlfriend forwarded me a David Sedaris quote yesterday that compared not having decided to vote for Obama to being offered two meal choices by a stewardess - chicken or shit with broken glass in it - and asking how the chicken is cooked. I don't exactly agree with Sedaris's point, and yet I feel that's a perfect analogy in a way for how I, who eat neither meat nor feces, feel about my choices in this election.

Don't get me wrong about Obama. I think he's very likable and, when elected, will give this country a nice facelift we can show off to the rest of the spiteful world. I like him, and that is not the point. My point is that it just feels like settling. Like pro-rated joy. We're a country in a state of limp political arousal. Like equating J.J. Abrams with Shakespeare, or gushing about McDonalds as if it were fine cuisine, it's a calibration problem. If we elect a pop culture president and call it a revolution, we'll never get the change we need.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Obey Obama

My initial reservations about Barack Obama were musical. It's the cadence. Speaking-wise, the man's got no soul. I can't tell the difference between Obama's dry, clipped over-enunciation and Dave Chappelle mocking white people. Yes, I get it: the danger he faces if he talks with too much energy or groove is that he'll be perceived as too "black." But I've recently partaken of The Audacity of Hope and after a few pages of his vanilla sentiments my vision went blurry and my body went into auto-nap mode. I guess I've trained my brain to tune out after 30 seconds or more of anything ridden with cliche and Obama didn't pass the test. I have a similar problem with sermons, small talk and bar blues.

Like I said, these are musical considerations, not political. But lately it's no longer just Obama's whiteness that's turning me off, it's the branding. The feeling that we are not so much electing a leader as buying one. Obama Fever is looking like just another cultural trend - like iPods, Cabbage Patch dolls and Baby-on-Board window clings - tapping the pleasure centers of our taste-obsessed brains. Yet we treat it like political Pentecost. The American herd of consumer cows (of which I am usually one of the loudest moo-ers) have received their orders, selected Brand O and are are now happily munching that patch of grass. That's no movement.

I might be wrong, but I can't shake the feeling that people have convinced themselves Obama's campaign is meaningful for the same reason they form opinions about the moral character of contestants on reality-based TV competitions. They're presented with a media-savvy and media-vetted package in the form of a person, get a vibe, and surmise broadly about the whole based on narrow windows of feeling.

As far as the mainstream media goes, there is simply no dissent left in this matter. From the New York Times to Metro Times to Rolling Stone to NPR to the brave T-shirt endorsements of the Hollywood elite - nobody is bothering to challenge the assertion that Obama represents Change with a capital C. Nobody questioning whether or not an Obama presidency will merely be a bandaid on the severed limb of our political process, when a blowtorch is in order. And where are the anarchist impulses saying that what we really need is not tweaks but for the system to crash before we can build a new one (I actually sat next to a self-described anarchist this past weekend at a wedding and about choked on my cake when I found out she was sweet on Obama - her excuse was that that she was actually a fan of Mrs. Obama).

Last week I was wasting time at a Chicago Urban Outfitters with one of my best friends, a beautifully strange man with a progressive, ingenious mind. More than anything I have always admired this person's free thinking and consistently whacky take on the Zeitgeist. And yet, he's all about the Obama. As we wandered the rows of screen-print tees and came upon a stack of them with the famous Obama/Change logo I asked: "Doesn't it bother you that your man has a T-Shirt at Urban Outfitters?" His reply was: "Whatever it takes..."

The Obama=Change propoganda graphic is the most terrifying thing in all this, the real drinking-the-Koolaid factor. It was created by Shepard Fairey, a conceptual street artist whose anti-branding campaign Obey, featuring an ominous graphic of Andre the Giant's face above that one-word command, was stickered across urban areas nationwide in the '90s.

Fairey's message was a satire of branding and mocked the simple emotional math of advertising by playing with the fascist Dear Leader iconography of dictatorships like Stalinist Russia and Sadaam's Iraq. I was all about this anti-campaign and since then have considered myself a big fan of Fairey's gorgeous and biting work. (Last year I was doing an I-hate-cops rant on this blog and posted one of his pieces, which contrasted a wholesome-looking, grinning police officer with the caption: I will kick your ass... and get away with it.)

The fact that a talent like Fairey, of all people, would throw his weight behind something so loaded as a branding a political figure's face is really confusing and disappointing to me. That he would paint, literally and figuratively, in such broad strokes as to market Obama as a political solution - by simply playing on our want of a cure - with his rosy graphics... sucks. I can't tell if this is some huge inside joke on the part of Fairey or what. But either way, when I see his omnipresent Obama propaganda I feel as if I'm staring at murals of the Ayatollah.

Maybe I'm just a contrary person - in the past, the more liberal my friends' views, the more libertarian mine have become. But I hate that people are so casually talking about change, or looking at an Obama victory as some kind of mini-revolution. When the truth is our country is sick and all we're doing is electing a bi-racial candidate for the first time who happens to have great taste in clothes, a good jump shot, a feel-good agenda and a charming manner.

I'm not saying that Obama is bad for America. I'm saying that this election is practice for the end times. As a species we've mutated - we now have antennae in our brains that are efficient receivers of cultural marching orders. For the most part the effects of this are harmless - it just causes us to do things like spend above our means. But it also puts a ton of power in the hands of the people who beam those messages out. Should they wield it beningly, like they are now by selling us an affable Senator who tickles our liberal impulses by looking the way we feel America should look, nobody gets hurt. But it creeps me out and smells like the beginnings of some real 1984 shit.

In the 2004 election the media decided to endorse the ouster of Bush (although with less force) and they failed. I know there was much sadness amongst my friends, but I felt secretly (very, very secretly) that it was a positive sign: ignorant or not, America still can't be told what to think. Four years later, I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Return of the Scarflette

Last year I posted a hard-hitting, in-depth piece of blog journalism on a new knitting item, called a Scarflette. The basic idea is that a Scarflette, also known as a Neckwarmer, offers the warmth and coverage a traditional wrapped scarf gives, but without the unnecessary bulk - when indoors it can be folded up and placed in your pocket. It's ingenious, sensible, fashionable and futuristic.

Kirsten didn't start making them for her newly begun knitting emporium, La Femme Monkita, until after the Christmas shopping rush last year, when many people had finished spending money on layers and already dug in to wait out the cold.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that not only is she making them again, but that she's turned the corner with a new angular design. Observe.



Professional Wedding Goers

Kirsten and I are on a roll with these weddings. We've been to five in the past year and a half and we've got even more coming up. I wish there were some kind of frequent-flier type points we could accumulate, or a wedding card we could get holes punched in and then after we have all the holes punched we get something free, like whiskey.

This past weekend we drove to Rockford, IL for the wedding of Karyn and Kevin. By coincidence, Kirsten and I both have history in Rockford. My grandparents lived there for most of my childhood and my brothers and I would spend a few weeks visiting them every summer. Good memories. My uncle Scott still lives there. Kirsten lived there for about a year, after college, working as a reporter for a small paper in next-door Beloit, WI. That's when she met Karyn and the two of them stayed in touch and grew even closer after Kirsten moved to Chicago.

Karyn, the bride.

The bridesmaids, Kirsten and Dana, with Karyn. When Kirsten is invited to weddings, I just feel a little sorry for the other girls. No matter how beautiful they are.

This is me at the bar after the wedding rehearsal. I am in the middle of a game of darts (Johnson-5, Buys-0) and notice how the darts don't leave my hand while I take a break to look up the song I'm going to Karaoke - that's calle focus. I ended up going with Smokey Robinson's "Crusin.'" Sadly for me, on that song Smokey is singing in an even higher range than I realized. I could barely hang.

This is Shawnee, who sat next to me at the reception. She makes documentary films in third world countries about topics like human trafficking, lives in a commune, considers herself an anarchist and told me a story about a friend's mud-soaked wedding-night orgy that blew my mind. And.... she's voting for Obama. Huh?

My amazing family. The guy on the right is Scott, my uncle. He's like a dad to me. The girl in the middle is Emily, his daughter. She's hours away from getting ready for homecoming and apparently wasn't photo-op ready.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Cigar Time - It's a Bot!

One purchase, three bots. Taken on my new baby Bot 3.

I've had a bit of an antagonistic relationship with Apple and their products. They make beautiful machines that are fun to use, but they charge a lot for that beauty and, in my experience, their wares are not necessarily designed to last.

I have insurance on my expensive toys, and that's a good thing because since joining Apple's Cult of Functionality I've had two iPods crash on me and, worse, I'm now on my third Macbook in a year and a half.

I bought my first Macbook - Bot 1 - in March of '07. It was nicer and, literally, more expensive, than anything I'd ever owned, including my cars. I was thrilled – until that weekend when it suddenly went black and wouldn't come back to life (I cried and pleaded and almost tried CPR). I took it back to the store and they scratched their heads, apologized and gave me Bot 2.

Bot 2 and I were doing fine and were on our way to a beautiful, system failure-free life together until the second week of our honeymoon, when I tripped walking down the stairs holding it in my left hand and a fresh cup of coffee in the other. I cracked the screen on my knee, trying to prevent dropping the laptop, and spilled my coffee on it, soaking the motherboard. When I got Apple on the phone (I'm not going to lie, I was a mess) I was informed that the screen was a cool $800 to repair (insane, considering the laptop was $1,100 new). Since I had insurance, I asked them to just write off the bot as a total loss, considering whatever damage might have occurred from the coffee spillage might be a little tricky to completely assess and fix. They said no, they have a special policy where they'll fix any defect up to the cost of the highest repair charge and guarantee the computer after that. I had no choice so I played along with Apple's reindeer games.

This was not a good call. Within months my DVD drive failed. By the summer I started to have complete system crashes (the really terrifying ones where a dim screen descends covered in Japanese text and the guy from SAW stares out of the screen darkness into your soul). I took my computer in for repair probably six times in two weeks, leaving it overnight with the Mac Jawas each time, who squeeked in Jawaese and insisted that, contrary to appearances, the hard drive was not failing. After weeks of this madness and numerous bandaid solutions the hard drive finally gave up the ghost, taking a lot of my important data off to bot heaven with it.

The Mac Jawas replaced the hard drive, which meant that, while technically I was still on my second bot in under a year, it had a new baboon heart and was really a different animal. It was really Bot 2.5.

In the months to come I started losing my screen brightness. A dark smokey film was constantly coming out of the back vents ("Oh, that's totally normal" one of the larger Mac Jawas told me, before squealing "Ooo-Tee-Bee!") My monitor also started going black depending on how far up and down it was extended. This got really maddening, really quick. I sent it in for repair along with a laundry list of things of other issues I needed fixed (such as the fact that the first time I had received my laptop back from Apple after the screen crack/coffee disaster, the bottom right plastic surrounding the monitor was partially unattached.) I received my bot back in the mail days later. The screen was now staying on all of the time, but the other half a dozen issues I had requested service on had were ignored. There was no note of explanation.

Before I could get Apple on the phone, I had to leave town for work. Within a few weeks my screen was back to its old ways, going black on me unless I had it bent toward me in a 45-degree angle - fun!

So, last week, I decided to call Apple and just ask them to give me a new computer. The lady on the phone listened to my story, took a quick glance at my 6-foot long repair rap sheet in their system and then, to my surprise, said "sure."

"Wha-?" I said. "You're really going to give me a new one?"

"Sure," she said.

I couldn't believe I hadn't thought to ask this question a year ago. A friend of mine, when told this, cynically replied that it's only because Apple is about to unveil their new line of MacBooks and was probably happy to clear the warehouses of my model. I prefer to think that it was my exceptionally balanced tone when speaking to the Apple operator that won them over.

A few days later I had a brand-new bot in my hands. Everybody say hi to Bot 3.

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

"The Near-Fame Experience"

This is a really well-written, thoughtful and ultimately depressing article on the myth of BRAVO's creative-based reality shows like Project Runway and Top Chef. Consider my bubble a little burst.

"The Near-Fame Experience" by Jennifer Senior

Friday, October 3, 2008


Not surprisingly, this is brilliant. I can't tell if Sarah Silverman is lampooning the Obama craze here, or if she's actually endorsing him. I'm going to go ahead and assume this is satire, since she is always satirizing everything, all of the time. Silverman is my kind of comedian, beholden no nothing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Designing for Darth

I don't remember many of my dreams, but this little fragment from last night's brain festivities was still floating around in my head when the alarm went off. Since Kirsten was having trouble getting up for work (I think I counted 14 snoozes) I decided to tell her about my dream, thinking it would make her laugh and wake her up a bit. It didn't really, but that's not because it isn't hilarious.

Here's a little background to the origins of my dream: part of getting back into the swing of home life has been the non-stop marathon of Project Runway episodes that Kirsten and I have been slamming. In addition to following the current season 5, during which I got hooked, Kirst has been kind enough to download the previous four seasons and re-watch them back-to-back with me. This can sometimes get ridiculous. For instance, last night we caught the new episode from season 5 and then polished off four more from season 3 before bed. That's almost four hours of fashion TV. Project Runway? More like Project Funway.

I know exactly why I love this show so much. It's because, more than any other show I can think of, it focuses almost entirely on the creative process - making something from nothing. Beneath all the contestants' catiness and the superficiality of the industry, it's really about getting in touch with our God nature, the power to make light where there was darkness. A lot of non-narrative TV - game shows, sports, and reality-based competitions like Project Runway - are more about the annihilation of an opponent, basically a destructive act. And if they're not, they're focused on making wealth for its own sake. Project Runway is a show about people using their favorite talent and testing themselves to see what they are capable of.

That's why I love it. And I think I have another theory about why so many others are drawn to it (a few years ago I began to notice a disturbing trend among my friends: our social plans were being re-routed around some fashion show they were into. I'd get this: "Sure, let's meet at the bar, but not until 10... a few of us are getting together to watch Project Runway at my place first." And this was not just my girl friends, but guys. And not just guys but dudes.) I think that the most common forms of culture and expression are music- or narrative-based. And while talent varies widely, almost everybody feels they have some insight into how to movies, books and music are made. Most people can sing a little. Most people can write a little. Most people can photograph a little. Most people can act a little. But how many people can sew a little? How many people can conceptualize a garment a little? I think that Project Runway, by focusing on fashion creation, has tapped into what is essentially a mystified art-form for the average person. Yet, while the medium is exotic, it still retains elements of the basic creative process, which the rest of us can identify with. And that makes for a really compelling contrast.

To add to the appeal for me, there's Tim Gunn, a fashion educator who acts as a mentor to the show's contestants. He's just a really positive, caring and decisive man. I'm consistently impressed by his tact and directness, and the way all of his impulses seem to be to build rather than to tear down. He has my vote for President of the United States if he wants it. Project Runway? More like Project Tim Gunnway.

So anyway, the dream. The dream was Tim Gunn pulling the contestants together at the start of an episode and saying: "People, today we're going to be designing for a fashion icon. An intergalactic fashion icon." And that's when the camera pans over to Darth Vader. Tim Gunn says: "Your assignment is to create a look for Darth Vader that is fashion-forward, but practical." I don't remember much of the rest of the dream, just some contestant standing on the runway at the end defending their creation and arguing with Darth Vader, who was taking issue with the fact that the Vader suit they'd created was not very functional: the breathing apparatus was poorly designed.