project runway

Tough Questions: What’s the Longest You’ve Ever Stayed Up in a Row and Why?

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Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:

What’s the longest you’ve ever stayed up in a row and why?

Rules are simple: go to sleep. Well, don’t, actually. You remember that episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete where the kids tried to stay up so long that they went back in time? This is basically the same thing, really. Most people have pulled one all-nighter, but have you pulled two in a row? Or more? Are you dead right now because you’ve been up for two weeks?

Alex Russell

I used to go two or three days without sleep in a row all the time. I hated sleep as a teenager; I used to be worried I was missing something cool whenever I went to sleep. I now know that an infomercial for a hot plate doesn’t count as “something cool” but that kind of wisdom comes with time. My longest stretch was in grad school when I went more than three full nights without sleep. I had to finish a particularly complicated project and I hadn’t had time to read everything I wanted to before starting it. The final night involved a four pack of Red Bull, a box of off-brand NoDoz from the gas station, and a crying jag on a staircase at 7 a.m. when I couldn’t figure out what a book about nationalism and farming was trying to say. All-nighters for education are really stupid, and I’ve forgotten almost everything about that final night other than how manic I was.

Jonathan May

I, like most Americans since the advent of Netflix, am prone to binge-watching TV shows online. Reality competition shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model are my jam, and I’ve seen every episode of both. But I was recently (like two weeks ago) introduced to So You Think You Can Dance, which falls safely in line with my main TV binge interests. I’m on day three of no sleep as I compose this. I’ve watched more people laugh and cry and dance in the past few days than probably the rest of my life combined. Needless to say, I feel really weird, both physically and emotionally. Also, I’ve become almost uncannily able to predict the winner once they announce the top 20 dancers. I have one episode left, and I’ll definitely watch it as soon as I get home. As was often said in our high school, “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

Brent Hopkins

The longest I have stayed up in one sitting was around 60 hours and that was due to traveling. I was flying from Korea to Hawaii to visit my cousins and had two insanely long layovers in China and Japan. I couldn’t sleep on the flights because the seats were so tiny and by the time I arrived in Hawaii it was 9 a.m. and there was no way I could sleep then. I kinda went through a daze of delirium but my sleep schedule was on point once I woke up the next day.

Andrew Findlay

I have never missed more than one full night’s sleep. I had one prepared about the time I stayed up all night at a friend’s bachelor party. He broke his arm, and I had to drive his car home for him hungover on no sleep, but most of the time when I miss sleep, the word “party” is not involved, so I selected something more representative. I intake media at an alarming rate. School let out in late June, and I have already used that time to read five novels. With video games, I actually play fairly rarely. I can go weeks without turning on my console, but that is because when I do, the game consumes me. This is not a problem often, as the majority of games clock in around 15-20 hours, which translates to just one to two days where all my waking moments are spent playing. But Skyrim, oh Skyrim. It does not end. Ever. The first weekend I got it, I started playing on Friday, stayed up all night, brewed coffee continuously, and did not shut down the machine until late on Saturday. By that time, I had entered an altered state of consciousness. At one point, I had to go buy eye drops because my corneas were sticky from being constantly open. Not my proudest moment, but there it is.

Gardner Mounce

I can’t function without sleep. I never saw pulling an all-nighter in college as a rite of passage like some people do, and I’ve never stayed up for more than one night. I hate the idea of not sleeping at the end of the day. I stayed up all night at a birthday party and was the one who kept suggesting that we all go to sleep. And I stayed up all night for my bachelor party, and probably was the one who ended up suggesting that we all go to sleep.

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The World After Project Runway: Squirming Under the Gunn

tim-gunn

Jonathan May

Lifetime’s Under the Gunn, starring Tim Gunn of Project Runway fame, is many things: the brainchild of Gunn and Heidi Klum, the logical highpoint of a career borne of the academy and blooming on national television, a show about design and fashion, set in LA. But God, is it confusing. What I loved about Project Runway was its reliability in terms of production; almost every week, someone was the winner, and one unlucky designer was auf-d by Heidi. Tim mentored, Heidi hosted, the designers designed,

God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world. But now we have Under the Gunn: a much anticipated sister show where, indeed, one designer is the winner and one designer (usually) is out. So why do I seem to like it so much less? It’s not so much that Heidi Klum is missing (although for me, she is dearly missed); it’s that an additional aspect has been added to the show: mentoring.

The thrust of Under the Gunn is not just that one fashion designer wins at the end, but that he or she wins through with his or her mentor. These mentors are Project Runway-alum: season two designer Nick Verreos, season eight contender and PR All-Stars winner Mondo Guerra, and season-nine winner Anya Ayoung-Chee. Each of these three starts the show by building groups of four designers to mentor. Tim Gunn, in turn, mentors each of the mentors. You start to see where my appreciation flags. What I loved about Project Runway was its pure American attitude: from nothing and by virtue of talent and hard work, one can rise above the competition and win a life-changing prize. That, unfortunately, seems to be filtered through this additional lens of mentoring. We spend half the episodes hearing the mentors talk about their process rather than seeing the designers (on whom the mentors’ ambitions succeed or fail as well) work on making beautiful clothing.

Avid Project Runway fans have complained for some time that the show’s focus has moved from the fashion produced per challenge to the inner dramatic structure of the 16 designers competing. While I appreciate a little drama as much as anyone, I felt betrayed that what was missing was an attenuation to fashion, its beauty, its transformative qualities. With this new show, Under the Gunn, we move further away, focusing our attention on these three mentors and how they successfully (or not) mentor the design process of others, often with that designer’s point of view falling casualty.

Everything is yet again filtered, and we move further away from fashion design toward a contemporary “cult of personality”-type show. This may be blasphemy, but as much as I enjoy a whole show about Tim Gunn, I miss Project Runway’s deep look into each designer as a hopeful competitor, straining against personal and creative forces to emerge as the victor, having sown solely a 10-12 look fashion collection.

With the addition of another winner (one designer and his or her mentor), we water down the stakes further. We reward, inherently, someone for coaching another person along, something that was Tim Gunn’s sole purpose in Project Runway. It just feels like another instance of piggy-backing, of creating and sustaining tangential importance, of lessening the creative accomplishment of one by acknowledging the “help” of another. The main problem I have with this is that the mentor’s role is one of background subservience, of leading by not leading, of questioning. When we vault this role into one worthy of prizes and fame, we lessen the value of the vatic in society.

Image source: Comedy Central