Showing posts with label Mad Men. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mad Men. Show all posts

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some weekend catch-up - movies, TV and comics

If you follow me on social media that is not this blog, you might have heard I had a touch of the food poisoning over the weekend.  A bad salad or pizza, I think.  Worst greek salad I've ever eaten, but it seemed fresh, so what do I know?

Well, I know what it feels like to get kicked in the stomach from my karate days, and this felt sort of like that, going on and on for quite a while.  So, I want to thank Jamie for the 2:30 AM run to Walgreen's to grab me some OTC meds and being a great help to me over the course of the weekend.  For a dialysis patient, it seems like the last year she's been taking care of me more than me of her.

I was sidelined from a planned viewing of Star Trek: Into Darkness, but I did catch a few movies over the weekend on cable and DVD.

Manhattan Melodrama with Myrna Loy, Clark Gable and William Powell was actually very, very good.  Thanks to Paul, who handed me that DVD on Friday.  Some 30's-era moral-minded civics lessons wrapped up with gangsterism and Myrna Loy in some great hats and dresses.  The title is dated, so don't expect organ music and fainting.  It's a bit more of a personal drama sort of movie.

The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis was probably released at the wrong time, when we were in the middle of election season and everyone was so deadly serious about politics.  It's a lightweight movie in the Semi-Pro or Step Brothers model.  But it's pretty funny stuff, if pretty blue.  Speaking of, though it's two GOP candidates, I think you could have done this with any two candidates, aside from a few points.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

No Post Thursday - what I've been doing (class, books, end of the yearly cycle)

This evening I went to the gym, watched an episode of Mad Men Season 5, did some pre-ordering of comics, and got pretty far along with the first unit of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) I've started through Canvas.

When I get through the first week, I'll post some personal and professional observations as someone who (a) has read comics for a long, long time - including a good chunk of the assigned reading, (b) who actually does care about gender representations in media - but maybe not in a particularly prescribed way, and (c) who worked in distance education for a decade before moving on to digital libraries.  As bonus featurea (d) I already went through five years of undergraduate education in narrative media studies, and (d) I sort of have my opinions regarding scholarly writing when it comes to social criticism, so...  it's turning out to be an interesting experience already.

It's going to be a long post, and only, likely, I will care about it, so...  look for THAT.

Speaking of gender in comics and pop-culture, yesterdays post on why it's okay for Power Girl to have a "boob window" got a fair number of hits.  By that, I mean, we were around 95 last I checked, which is, like, HUGE for this site.  I never know what's going to get traffic.  I fully expected upwards of 18 clicks.

I am making a commitment to just admit I am going to just read all the Richard Stark novels and nothing else that is not a comic until I finish the Parker and Grofield series.  And then I have, literally, ten books to get through.


  • I'm about a quarter way through the Larry Tye Superman book Nathan gave me, so that might get read while I work through the Stark novels.
  • Dark City Dames by Eddie Muller - a book with bios of a handful of noir sirens, including sections on Audrey Totter and Marie Windsor
  • Altered Carbon - as recommended by Steven
  • the next three Barsoom novels starting with Thuvia, Maid of Mars
  • Doc Savage, Man of Bronze - personally recommended by no less than Chris Roberson
  • The Big Screen  - a non-fiction book on the history of cinema
  • The Killer Inside Me and After Dark, My Sweet, that I've been putting off for, literally, almost twenty years
  • the new Glenn Wheldon Superman book  
  • a Dashiell Hammett collection


As I said on the Facebooks today, I need more time to read.

So, no recommendations for a bit.  My plate is full.

Jamie's birthday is passed, and mine is next Friday, so if you're around and want a cocktail, email me.  We may be doing something about drinks on the 13th.

We have a yearly cycle that starts at Halloween and ends with my birthday.  Really, from Halloween, it's something every few weeks, including Valentine's Day, then March - the months of birthdays, etc...  And, of course, Easter and Mother's Day take us into May.  At this point I'm used to it, but it does seem like it compresses time into the various observances.  Summer has become my holiday from holidays, except for July 4th, which includes explosions and hamburgers and is thus becoming one of my favorite holidays.

My folks are headed back to Kenya for missionary work/ putting eyeglasses on Kenyans.  Always proud of them in their volunteer efforts.

Mad Men Season 6 starts Sunday night, so, leave a brother alone while he does his thing.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No Post Wednesday - Mad Men S. 6

I was going to write a post for today, but I decided I didn't really care about the topic when I was pretty far along.  So, you get a fake post.

So, here's a cast shot for Mad Men Season 6 - coming April 7th - and a reminder that you will never be at  this party.


If you want a close second, we have a pretty good holiday party at my place every year.

More cast shots.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mad Men Season 5 Ends

Season 5 of Mad Men ended Sunday night.  That means only two more seasons to go, which is good.  TV shows need to know where they're headed or you run into the X-Files Syndrome.

People talk about smart TV, and then they mention something like Lost that was sort of dumb TV in smart-TV drag.  The creators got so caught up in creating loop-de-loops of logic and plotting, they managed to do a lot of hand waving about some sort of spiritual meaning to the proceedings, but by the mid-point of the final season, it was pretty clear that what they meant by spiritual was a non-threatening atmosphere CD from Target.

Mad Men, somehow, is a show you can most certainly watch as a soap opera with people falling in and out of love, having illicit sex, making bad decisions, etc...  But it's increasingly a show that's built on its longevity to build a lexicon and a readability that until 15 years ago, was reserved for film and books.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

No Avengers Post, so, something else

1.  It's our Sunday night thing when Mad Men is on to have some pals over and watch the show and maybe have a cocktail or two.  I did so.  I also saw Avengers today, but don't want to write about it right now, so there.

2.  Mad Men is doing something it has not done before, and that's build toward a sense of dread and doom throughout the whole season.  Also, f-yeah, Revolver.  I am going to now open my iTunes and listen to that album.

3. And Peggy.  I can't tell you how much I loved Peggy Olson in this episode.

Peggy!
4.  I have been "reading" my FCBD comics, and its sort of... are your comics disappointing this year, or is it just me?  I mean, I guess I get that they have to do promo stuff of a sort, but it would have been nice to get a full story the way Atomic Robo did.  The rest of them I've had time to read barely give a feel for the comic.

5.  I found the FCBD offering for The Ride pretty terrible.  Basically a clumsy "here's what happened" sequence on any cops procedural, only with a complete lack of context, and I have no doubt this will be some half-baked, half-assed work by some comic creators trying to be edgy.  After reading The Green River Killer, I'm reminded of what can be in a comic, and this...  this is just CBS police show junk.

6.  Again, it makes no sense that I have not read all of Atomic Robo.  There is nothing not amazing about Dr. Dinosaur.

7.  That said, FCBD was incredibly well managed at my local shop.  Frankly, Austin Books does a great job every year improving the experience.  I've gotten some reports that other shops ran out of some or all of their comics.  Sorry about that.  If I can help, let me know.  I can put things in the mail.

8.  This week, The Dug and K shall arrive.

9.  I expect there shall be RiffTrax.  Perhaps even involving sparkly vampires.

10.  Hope you had a good weekend, and we'll rap tomorrow on Avengers.

11.  Late addition.  This is hilarious.  I as reading a quick preview of an upcoming comic (with toys attached), Jurassic Strike Force 5, and the Pterodactyl has boobs!

Oh, comics.  Sometimes you truly are the medium of awkward 13 year old boys.


Monday, April 30, 2012

The Weekend: Mad Men, the Dramatic Arts and Romance

Mad Men

So, Mad Men got Julia Ormond for a supporting role.  That's...  gravitas or something, there.  We also got Ray Wise, and that's always cool.

Mid-1990's me is, of course, always pleased to see Julia Ormond, Juliette Binoche, Irene Jacob, and Isabella Rosellini getting work as the holy quadrangle of European Lady-ness to me circa 1996.*  Its a hell of a role for Ormond, as small as it is, but...  oh, my.

Season 5 has found its own voice, as has each season of Mad Men, but it has strayed from the confines of the ad agency in a way previous seasons have not.  I don't know if its more or less soapy.  Its certainly no less engaging, and in its own way, it feels less predictable and almost more volatile.

But realizing Ormond is actually mostly old enough to be playing the mother of Mad Men's Jessica ParĂ© does give me a moment of pause.  The  sex symbols of my youth are playing mothers of adults.  Schnikies.

Still, Ormond is still Ormond.




Local 17th Century Theatrical Recreations

Friday I went with my cousin, Sue, and her pal to see a play called The Alchemist by Ben Jonson at Austin's Curtain Theater.  The Curtain was built by gaming software pioneer Richard Garriott, who you may know as the self-made astronaut who recently had a documentary created about him.  He's an astounding individual living here in Austin who has used his wealth for all sorts of interesting causes.

The Curtain sits on his property and is a recreation of a 17th Century theater with some modern accouterments such as gas torches rather than traditional torches, electric lighting and port-a-potties.  But, yeah, its all outside, the actors wear recreations of period garb, the music is performed on period-style instruments (live), and we're supposed to cheer and boo heroes and villains from the gallery.  And the actors do not shy away from playing to the crowd.

The theater is home to The Baron's Men, a company of performers who do period shows, mostly Shakespeare, but who strayed outside the familiar a bit for this show.  The cast has been different with each show, but I thought this cast was particularly in sync.  And my pal, Eva, was remarkably good, once again.

The play was great, the company on spot and hilarious, and a good time was had by all.  Also, there was a beautiful macaw there for absolutely no reason I could deduce, but a very pretty bird.

If you live in Austin, you really need to check out one of their shows.


Anniversary

As was previously blogged, Saturday was our Anniversary.  Friday was a little weird as I just happened to be meeting Cousin Sue at The County Line on The Lake prior to the show when I realized "hey, this is where I had my rehearsal dinner 12 years ago".   However, 12 years on, it was far less full of people staring at me with the saucer-eyes like a newfound puppy and making me sort of uncomfortable.

Saturday we mostly stayed home and did chores and read.  Nothing too dramatic.  We had a lovely dinner out, just the two of us, and then were home again.  I hate to tell you young people...  the 12th anniversary is very sweet, but not exactly filled with drama.


Book

I have a copy of a book I am very excited to report upon as soon as possible.  Hopefully by next weekend.




*I say "PHAW!" to your Julie Delpy and Audrey Tautou.  That's right.  PHAW!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Substituting Real Life for a life made better through Narrative Construction

In the past few weeks I've had three separate conversations with three separate people from very, very different backgrounds, all of whom were describing their individual situations and then wound up throwing their hands in the air and saying "this isn't how it is in the movies!"  They were not being hyperbolic or kidding.

I don't know if its any different from how CNN's favorite line from witnesses since 9/11 has been "it was like something out of a movie".  On the news, it seems, it's the only way to describe the fact that you're in one of those make-or-break/ life-or-death situations that comes along but once in a blue moon.  Unless you're in movies and your name is John McClane.

Have we found ourselves in a place where we speak more often about the construction of fictional character's lives than our own that our only model for how things go in life is in the condensed and scripted world of television and movies?  Are we learning more from watching Harry and Sally falling in love than we are from watching our parents or talking to friends?

As you know, I watch Mad Men, a program I feel manages to do what good fiction can do, and that's tell us something about the universal "us" or about ourselves as flawed, hypocritical, deceitful, kind, odd people who want to do the right thing, or the thing that we hope is right for us.  The program gets a lot of press coverage, and is well rewarded for its efforts by people who give out statuettes.  By taking place in the 1960's rather than today, we get some comforting distance, all while having a limited omniscience as viewers as we know where the world in which these characters are living is headed while they're just along for the ride.  Its meant everything from the shock of a Muhammad Ali win to the death of John F. Kennedy stopping everyone in their tracks for an episode.

On the season opener, which aired Sunday, apparently the opening sequence in which young advertising executives (not at Don's advertising agency, but another) were throwing bags of water down at African Americans from their Manhattan skyscraper offices while on the sidewalks a group of black protesters asked for equal treatment - was apparently pulled line for line from a newspaper story from the period in which the episode occurs.

Monday, March 26, 2012

So, Mad Men is back

I could spend some time writing about Mad Men and the virtues of the program.  While, no doubt, we can all agree the show has tremendous visual appeal (thanks for bringing back Jessica ParĂ©, TV show!), the witty dialog, the solid character building, the completeness of the world...

Instead I'll talk about how Mad Men is one of the only forms of media that I partake in with a social bent with actual people and not, though you know I love you all, through social media.

With the start of Season 3 (Season 5 debuted Sunday, March 25th), Jamie and I began watching Mad Men with pals Matt and Nicole.  I don't know who had the brain storm to do so, or why we started watching the show together, but we're now entering our third season of getting together on Sunday nights (schedules willing), having some dinner, mixing a cocktail or three and ending the weekend with a bit of TV.

I don't think any of us believe the show isn't a bit soapy, and while I do believe it is one of the best shows on TV, I don't have a religious zeal for the program.  I'm not planning a Mad Men-Con (although, that might be fascinating...).  I haven't written any Mad Men fan fiction.  That you'll ever be allowed to read.*  But, yes, we have had 60's dinners, and I prefer to keep my drinks classic if we enjoy a cocktail during the show.

Aside from a few UT Football games per year, we really don't get together for media events in our home or at the homes of others.  Not even the Super Bowl.  As I've mentioned, I more or less do the comics thing on my lonesome here in Austin, hitting events by myself, and while the good folks at Austin Books are friendly as can be, I don't have many people I hang out with on a regular basis who share a shred of my enthusiasm for comics or superheroes.   I do still manage to catch a few movies with groups from time to time, but the "social" aspect of it also includes a 2 hour block in the middle where we're all sitting together, silently, in the dark.

For some reason, though,  on Sundays when Mad Men is airing, we finish our chores and activities early so that we can get together, watch an episode, pause it when something needs to be discussed, talk trash about anyone crossing Don Draper, and generally make a time of it.

I don't know if we watched it each individually we'd have feelings about the show.  In general, I don't get terribly invested in TV programming and can take or leave shows, even many I've watched for years (we're currently once again choosing to abandon shows at our house that we've watched for a few seasons).  But that's not how I've approached Mad Men, and I understand that's not how many of you approached shows like Deadwood and Sopranos. and other well received, critically acclaimed shows in which I never became invested.

So, with Sunday evening's return of Mad Men, so, too, have we seen the return of social Sunday nights.  I think it helps make it a lot more fun, and a bit more of an event.  There's probably something to that.  But I don't really need more than one show I approach this way.


*okay, in my timeline, Pete Campbell is also a spy and Peggy is secretly a girl wizard.

Friday, December 2, 2011

SW Advent Calendar December 2


Christmas is the great gifts at this year's office Christmas party and wondering what you have in common with your work colleagues other than work.  Also, wishing for Don Draper's hair.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Signal Watch Watches: Green Lantern - Emerald Knights

This is not a review of the Green Lantern movie. I'm seeing that on Friday (today) at 4:15. Its supposedly horrid.

Last night I watched the straight-to-home-video Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, a feature length cartoon done at WB Animation by the core team that Bruce Timm built.

The film inherits character and set design from the feature cartoon Green Lantern: First Flight, a movie we discussed back at League of Melbotis, Volume 1.  Not all of the voice talent returns, and I have to say that I think the set design and illustrative quality is just much, much better this go-round.  And I'll get to that.

Emerald Knights follows in the tradition of the old over-sized Green Lantern Corps issues that would include short story back-ups, which used the fact that the Corps were 3600 strong, somewhat fungible and absolutely expendable to tell all kinds of stories from the tragic to the sublime.  If DC had a secret outlet for writers to try the sort of writing that happens in sci-fi anthologies or episodes of sci-fi shows like The Twilight Zone or Outer Limits that rely on a single episode to tell the story, it was in exploring different story matter than "Hal Jordan and friends save the day", and the pay off was that these back-up stories are better remembered today than what was actually happening in the main stories at the time.  And it gave a home to people like Alan Moore as he kicked around the DCU for a bit.

this is a thing which happens in the movie

Monday, June 13, 2011

Signal Watch Watches: X-Men First Class

I think its worth mentioning that at one point in the comics, the X-Men battled a villain named Count Nefaria.  And maybe that's who the villain should have been in X-Men: First Class, because, goodness, that Kevin Bacon was most certainly a bad guy.

You're pretty much doomed to a life of villainy with a  name like "Nefaria".
I was a huge (HUGE) X-fan for a good stretch of my adolescence, and you can probably blame quite a bit of my comics fandom on Uncanny X-Men #210, which was the first time I read and re-read and re-read a comic like that.  And it taught me to buy back-issues, which is why I have a run of Uncanny that extends from issue 168 straight to 330 or so before I miss an issue.*  Looking at release dates, that's about a decade of straight X-Men reading between 210 and 330, and quite a bit of back-issue buying I did, and it represents a pretty good chunk of a young person's life, from age 11 to 21.

But when I parted ways with X-Men, we'd significantly grown apart.  X-Men had become more a book about oddly drawn characters with lots of pockets and enormous weaponry than a book about mutants protecting the very humans who hated and feared them.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Quick follow up on Alison Brie post - Prosopagnosia

I have decided that I have a very limited form of a rare condition called Prosopagnosia that may or may not be directly Allison Brie related.  Apparently that's a condition where one has a hard time telling faces apart.

You can read up on the condition here.
 
So I've decided I'm not an idiot, and that its a genetic issue or some such.  I declare my Brie-blindness a medical condition. You now owe me sympathy or something.

Curiously, some of the photos one finds when Googling Alison Brie mean I will most definitely remember who she is a bit better.

Found this article courtesy the Twitter feed of artist/ writer Phil Jimenez. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

More Signs I'm an Idiot: Alison Brie

Despite the fact I've seen every episode of Mad Men, and I've seen NBC's Community about a half-dozen times now, somehow I'd never put together that both Mad Men's Trudy Campbell and Community's Annie Edison were played by actress Alison Brie.

Alison Brie

also, Alison Brie

Maybe all you white people look alike to me or something.  I have no idea.

I was watching the election episode of Community, and some facial tic or line delivery Brie delivered was 100% Trudy Campbell, and I sort of froze like a deer in the headlights, opened my laptop, looked to IMDB and then told Jamie of my revelation.  Jamie was, of course, perfectly aware of Brie's dual roles and confirmed, yes...  it is very weird I never noticed that before.

I do seem to have a sort of blindspot when watching TV and movies, and any actresses under the age of 30 all sort of look the same to me.  Jamie can confirm that I have no idea what the difference is between virtually any of the popular starlets at any time (I only know who Amy Adams is because she was in Talladega Nights.  Which is kind of sad for Amy Adams), and that I routinely say "who is that?" about the same actors five or six times.  This is true for young male actors, as well.

In general, I kind of rely on actors or actresses having unique characteristics to remember them.  Elisabeth Moss has the icicle eyes and, let's be honest, a pretty specific look.  Christina Hendricks has, um...  Christina Hendricks.  But if you asked me to pick say, Rachel McAdams out of a line-up, I would give up before starting. 

So, I often wonder if I do this with people in everyday life.  Do I walk past the same people at the grocery and not notice them even though they're there every single time I'm there.  Is there a librarian at the reference desk I've somehow never realized was always there when I pass in and out of my building?  I have to assume the answer is yes.

I'll also note that, yes, not only are Community and Mad Men very different programs, shot differently, with different tones, different make-up on Brie, etc...  and Brie does, in fact, handle the two characters a bit differently, and maybe she's just that brilliant of an actor.  But, she is just one person, so... you know...

I also once spent an entire weekend in Vegas with someone two years ago, and only realized I'd known him before when he put on his glasses the last day.  So, yes, apparently I would be the guy who would be all "Wait...  Clark Kent is actually who?"

Monday, January 3, 2011

Mad Men Season 1: Apparently I never watched ANY of this

So a while back Jamie and I were getting the DVDs of Mad Men Season 1 via Netflix.  I watched some of it, but I knew Jamie had finished the season without me.  I had caught stray episodes on AMC, and I watched some of Season 2, and so when I came in with both feet in Season 3, I didn't feel like I missed all that much.  Also: I recall hitting "pause" on the remote and saying "What?" to Jamie quite a bit, and then she'd fill in details.

Anyhow, on Thanksgiving I had a few glasses of wine, and then got an email from CanadianSimon on my Blackberry alerting me that the BluRay for Seasons 1-3 were on deep discount at Amazon, and I figured "well, Mythbusters isn't on every night.  What the heck.  Also, Christina Hendricks."  And so I am now the proud owner of Seasons 1-3 of Mad Men on BluRay.

So, wow, apparently I had only ever seen the first 3 episodes of Mad Men from Season 1 in any kind of organized fashion.  Its amazing how well conceptualized the show was from episode 1, from character, design, historical and other standpoints.  I think they managed to deal with some of the things that people were talking about so much with a bit more nuance by Season 3 (it seems like the fact that people drink and philander is played up less for shock and more for story), but its hard to ignore the impact of Season 1.

I had not, for example, seen Peggy do "The Twist".  And we should all see that at least once.
It seems that what I thought was Season 1 I was catching on AMC was Season 2.  This is why I am bad at TV watching and get nervous when people try to get me to commit to a series.

We're almost done with Season 1, so I expect we'll cruise right into Seasons 2 and 3.

At any rate, its a lot of fun to start over, and I guess I'll have seen far less of Season 2 then I believed I'd seen.  Either than or I am flat out suffering from some form of Mad Men Amnesia.

Monday, December 6, 2010

You're on your own.

I'm tired and I think I'll go read and whatnot. You're on your own. The remote turns on the cable and the TV and there's diet soda in the fridge.

Also: Jon Hamm has a good job. I think he knows that.

Shut up, Jon Hamm