Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The "Duran Duran/Couscous" Defense

I know Whoopi is smarter than this.

From the Telegraph:
Whoopi Goldberg defends Roman Polanski: 'It wasn't rape-rape'

Speaking on television show The View, Goldberg said “I know it wasn’t rape-rape. I think it was something else, but I don’t believe it was rape-rape.”
BTW, here's another more reasoned reaction to the "controversy" by Kate Harding in Salon:
Reminder: Roman Polanski raped a child

...The reporting on Polanski's arrest has been every bit as "bizarrely skewed," if not more so. Roman Polanski may be a great director, an old man, a husband, a father, a friend to many powerful people, and even the target of some questionable legal shenanigans. He may very well be no threat to society at this point. He may even be a good person on balance, whatever that means. But none of that changes the basic, undisputed fact: Roman Polanski raped a child. And rushing past that point to focus on the reasons why we should forgive him, pity him, respect him, admire him, support him, whatever, is absolutely twisted.

Read more!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Three Blind Mice (Mad Men 3.07)

723 is probably my favorite Mad Men episode so far this season (and it’s been a pretty good season). I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say that it blew me away.

In the “Inside Episode” video that appears on the AMC website (which happens to be sponsored by Clorox, Peggy’s code word to reach Duck), Matt Weiner explains that Episode 3.07 was intended to have a film noir feeling. Working as a mystery story with a narrative thread that cuts back and forward in time, Seven Twenty Three achieves exactly that. Don, Betty and Peggy all somehow end up in the dark as they embark on three different journeys. The occurrence of a solar eclipse is a major motif running through the episode as well as many references to the book “Confession of an Advertising Man” by David Ogilvy (who is often called “The Father of Advertising”).

It's daylight. Peggy awakes beside a sleeping man. Elsewhere, Betty reclines on a plush red couch. Don, his nose caked with blood, rises groggily from a motel room floor.

Don, whose actions in 723 impacts the other two, suffers a literal black out. Betty realizes that she’s being kept in the dark about Don’s life. And Peggy is blindsided by Don’s angry reaction to her questions about the Hilton account. That all three stories are linked is reinforced at the end when the tune “Three Blind Mice” can be heard playing in the background on a TV set at the Draper house.

On another morning, Betty and her decorator show Don the Drapers' living room makeover. When Betty asks what they should place in front of the fireplace, the decorator tells her it must remain empty as the “soul of your home."

Notice the difference in Don’s attitude while looking in a mirror while getting ready for work and later when he wakes up in hotel room.

Betty is wearing her usual blue outfit. The color blue will once again be used to symbolize the restrictive nature of “traditional” relationships. Betty asks Don for his opinion of the new room. Just as he was in his last meeting with Conrad Hilton, Don is more interested in the “price tag” for the work rather then the work itself. Previously he used a night light to solve Sally’s fear of the dark. Likewise, his only suggestion here is to move a lamp. The “incorrectly” placed lamp plays into the idea of a sort of darkness that will befall the characters. The decorator seems to have the same sensibilities as an advertising profession as she readily gives into Don’s suggestion (the client is the boss).

Betty doesn’t seem to like the decorator’s suggestion that the “soul” of her home must remain empty. This may be hitting too close to home.

At work that day, Roger grumbles to Don about competitor David Ogilvy's Confessions of an Advertising Man. "It's the book everybody writes," Roger says. "It should be called A Thousand Reasons I'm so Great."

This establishes the book motif that will come up a number of times. Roger’s attitude to the book suggests that it shines a very negative light on the advertising profession. Roger complains that ad men are reviled as much as lawyers. Lawyers will also play a somewhat major role in 723. Roger also seems to be non-plused by a sunrise that he watched that morning. Staring at the sun will come up again.

Don is intrigued by the title “Confession of an Advertising Man” (as he has much to confess himself). In the background an office conversation can be heard where a woman explains that she is unable to admit to something.

Conrad Hilton pays Don an unscheduled visit. Connie describes himself as having a "wandering eye" despite having his needs met. The upshot: He wants Don to handle Hilton's three New York City properties.

Connie, wearing a red tie, sits in Don’s chair. Later Bert will be sitting in Don’s chair. Likewise, Don will have an hallucination of his abusive step-father where he is seated in a chair. These men seem to represent figures of authority which, to varying degrees, make Don resentful.

In a theme that will come up again, Hilton remarks negatively on the work ethic of advertising execs.

Connie also comments on the lack of family photos on Don’s desk. This coincides with the empty “soul” of the Draper home. Hilton brings up lawyers who will have to oversee the details of the relationship with Sterling Cooper. Thus, lawyers are cast as antagonists in 723. Finally, Connie welcomes Don to share in his dreams. Later, under the influence of “reds” (the same color as Connie’s tie) Don will dream about his overbearing stepfather. Hilton also remarks that “young people” give him energy. The young people Don will meet later do exactly the opposite.

Betty hosts Francine and two other members of the Junior League, which is campaigning to prevent the installation of a huge water tank that will drain the scenic local reservoir and mar the landscape. Betty says that she knows someone in the governor's office -- Henry Francis, the man she met at Roger and Jane's party -- who might have influence.

The water tank issue is reminiscent of Madison Square Garden’s efforts to replace Penn Station (it is reinforced when Duck Phillips later mentions the austere restrooms of the old railroad station). However, in this case, Betty is on the opposite side of the issue as Don.

In My Old Kentucky Home, Betty has a less than innocent flirtation with Henry Francis at Roger’s club. A wedding reception is also taking place at the club and the flirtation is abruptly halted when two bridesmaids in blue dresses walk by. This demonstrates the constrictive nature of marriage for Betty.

Pete congratulates Don for the Hilton deal and expresses interest in the account. Don shifts the conversation to Pete's sales prospects: With conflict likely in Vietnam, Pete says that he’s close to landing American Aviation.

In The Arrangements, S-C took on a wealthy client, Horace (who, incidentally, claimed to have read Ogilvy’s book), to promote the sport of jai alai even though no one at the agency expects it to succeed. By taking on this venture the advertising execs are breaking a number of rules established in Ogilvy’s book for selecting new clients. Such as:

Only advertise products which you are proud to be associated with, never advertise a product that you don’t respect and don’t like.

Never advertise for a product that is not yet on the market.
One of the hitchhikers Don picks up later accuses him of being a “spook” (slang for CIA agent). Of course, Don denies this. But his efforts to assist American Aviation land Pentagon contracts for the conflict in Vietnam make him just as morally culpable.

Don displays a veneer of cockiness in this scene that will be stripped away at the end of the episode.

Betty calls Henry. He agrees to meet about the reservoir on Saturday afternoon.

In addition to the arousing nature of the meeting she is setting up, Betty is also attempting to operate in Don’s world of sales (she wants to sell Francis on the idea of NOT building the new water tank). As she talks on the phone, clearly visible in the background is a book. It isn’t Ogilvy’s book. Instead, it is a blue cookbook. Meanwhile, her children are interfering with Betty’s plans. Meanwhile, the color scheme of Henry’s office is green.

Roger, Cooper, and Lane congratulate Don for the Hilton coup, but say that there's a hitch. Connie's lawyers want Don under contract to Sterling Cooper to ensure continuity. Lane hands Don a three-year contract. Connie will “enjoy something he can't have," the reluctant Don contends.

Lawyers are again brought up during this meeting. Curtains prominently seen in the background are blue. Likewise, the contract Don is given to sign is blue. For Don, it represents a loss of freedom.

Betty and Henry meet at a local bakery, both making excuses for arriving alone.

In entering the bakery, Betty (wearing sunglasses) goes through a blue colored door (and closes it behind her). She is wearing a floral pattern dress with mix of red, green and blue patterns. This would indicate her conflicted feelings about this meeting. This may be too fine a reading, but, as shown in the photo above, the colors of her dress match the gumballs in the glass dispenser next to her. Which may further reflect her feelings of being constrained and wanting to break free. The interior of the bakery initially seems to have a muted green hue to it. The duplicitous Henry admits to being a lawyer. In concluding the business portion of the meeting, Henry references RCA’s famous marketing campaign, “His Master Voice.” Once again, Betty demonstrates that she is well out of her element by not grasping this reference. Blue colors (waitress uniforms, chairs in the bakery) are more prominent as it become clears to Betty that nothing (in a business or romantic sense) will come of her meeting with Henry.

In a park, Sally's teacher - Miss Farrell - helps her students make camera obscuras to view a solar eclipse. The kids' dads, including Don, assist.

The plot involving the solar eclipse gives the film noir ("dark film") feel Weiner references a literal element of the episode. Don is wearing sunglasses. He has a conversation with his neighbor Carlton (an unfaithful husband) who will comment that “being alone is hard to come by.” Don is wearing blue while Carlton is wearing green. Carlton mentions that like Miss Farrell (a homonym for “feral”), his wife was also once a teacher.

The eclipse occurs as Henry and Betty leave the bakery. Henry shields her eyes when she gazes at the sun. "I feel a little dizzy," Betty says. Henry notices a pink fainting couch in a nearby antiques store. "That's what you need," he says, explaining that Victorian ladies would use them whenever they felt "overwhelmed."

As they talk, the shot of Francis is staged so that green trees are visible behind him. The attempt to venture out of her cloistered life and into Don’s world (like her attempts to look at the eclipse) has proven too much for Betty. Mad Men often uses sofas and couches to symbolize characters in distress. Betty lays on a couch both for her psychiatric sessions and during a tryst in with a stranger. Overwhelmed again, Betty now has need for another one.

Back in the park, Miss Farrell interprets Don's small talk as a come-on. "We're just talking," Don says.

Interestingly, Don also had trouble talking to Conrad Hilton earlier.

The free-spirited Miss Farrell is wearing green. As with her phone call to Don in The Fog, there is a sense that for all of its attractiveness, this new, less restrictive worldview, also has a dark side. While Don is not completely innocent, Miss Farrell’s impatience with him is overblown. In fact, she seems to be projecting her own frustrations onto Don as she's been pushing the relationship more than he has. Don will project his frustrations onto Peggy when he yells at her later. The book motif is again brought up as Don suggests to Farrell that she shouldn’t “judge a book by it’s cover.”

Miss Farrell and Sally watch the eclipse under the shield of the camera obscura. Don watches without such protection.

"You think you're more dangerous without a contract?" Roger asks Don later that day. It's affecting business, he adds, because Don is Sterling Cooper's David Ogilvy -- though Roger is not convinced that Don even wants to be an ad man anymore.

Roger describes Don as S-C’s Ogilvy. During the conversation, an unengaged Don adds fluid to his lighter. One could say that in his attitude Don is playing with fire (not unlike the Vietnamese protester monk shown in The Arrangements who famously commits suicide by immolating himself).

Peggy drops by Don's office, fishing for the Hilton assignment. "You have an office and a job that a lot of full grown men would kill for," Don fires back. "Stop asking for things."

Don angrily chastises Peggy for her lack of gratitude after Roger has just chastised him.

Roger calls Betty and encourages her to persuade Don to sign the contract. It's the first she's heard of it.

As mentioned before, Betty, her family in the background, is blindsided by this.

Peggy visits Duck's suite. She indicates what she might want from his agency to leave Sterling Cooper, but quickly decides she can't jump ship. Duck holds her hand, then kisses her. "What do you want from me?" she asks. To "give you a go around like you've never had," he replies. The two begin a passionate kiss.

Like the pills Don will take later, the dominant color in this scene (the gift, Peggy’s outfit, the room décor) is red.

That night, Betty and Don argue about the contract. "No contract means I have all the power," he says. "What's the matter?" Betty asks. "You don't know where you're going to be in three years?"

As mentioned earlier, the tune "Three Blind Mice" can be clearly heard playing in the background. Betty gets out a particularly cutting line about knowing what it’s like to want Don but not being able to have him.

Drink in hand, Don leaves the house and drives away. He picks up a young couple hitchhiking to Niagra Falls. They say that they're eloping so the man can avoid being sent to Vietnam. The man says that they haven't any money but can get Don high. Don swallows two of their phenobarbital pills.

The driving scene takes place in the dark (like under an eclipse). There’s a cut to Duck and Peggy in bed where Duck remarks that he loves the smell of liquor on Peggy’s breath. The scene quickly cuts back to Don taking a swig of his drink. This links Don and Peggy's reckless actions. They will both awake the next morning face down in a hotel room.

When Don sees the couple, Doug and Sandy, Doug is wearing green. They admit to have been smoking marijuana. Don brags about having inside information about Vietnam. While not a CIA agent, Don admits to being in advertising. The couple concedes that Don is "okay" anyway. Like Miss Farrell, the couple exhibit a dark side when they turn out to be grifters. They deridingly refer to Don as “Cadillac” (a reference to his automobile).

Later in a motel room, Don dances with the young woman until the man cuts in. Don, his eyes glazed, has a vision of his father, Archie Whitman. "Look at you," Archie reproaches. "Up to your old tricks." Moments later, the young man punches Don in the back of the head.

The dominant color in the motel room is red. Archie rebukes Don for being in a disreputable profession such as advertising. As stated earlier, Archie’s appearance seated in a chair (like Hilton) surprises Don.

The next morning Don, his nose bloody, reads a note from the couple. They've stolen his money but left his car.

The note written by the couple who eschew formal education has a misspelling (“your welcome” instead of “you’re welcome”). Also, leaving him the Cadillac seems more of a rejection of Don’s materialistic lifestyle than an act of kindness on their part.

UPDATE: As pointed out by Cliff in the comments below, the misspelling may reflect Don's "welcome" to his new, confined existence under contract at S-C. Or, this is could be a sarcastic comment on the rude "welcome" Don has recieved in his first actual foray into the new "green" worldview that he was made aware of in Love Among the Ruins (and part of the reason he returns to the more constraining, yet safer, "blue" existence).

Peggy awakes beside Duck, still in his suite. "I love the morning," he says when she attempts to leave. They start kissing.

Once again, the sun serves as a backdrop to reckless behavior.

At the Draper residence, Betty's decorator scolds her for buying the fainting couch and blocking the fireplace with it.

The decorator adheres more to Ogilvy’s rules than S-C. In this case, she does not want to be associated with the finished product (a product she doesn't have faith in) after it has been altered by Betty. Later, lying on the red Wentworth, a frustrated Betty seems to drift away to a by-gone age (this may tie in to her mentioning to Henry that she was an anthropology major in college).

In Don's office, Cooper insists he sign the contract. "Would you say I know something about you, Don?" Cooper asks. "I would," Don agrees. "Then sign," Cooper says. "After all, when it comes down to it, who's really signing this contract anyway?" Don acquiesces, but demands that all contact with Roger cease.

In a neat resolution to the contract dilemma, Cooper, knowing Don’s real identity is Dick Whitman, is able to sell the idea that Don is really giving up nothing by signing the contract. There’s also a thinly veiled hint of blackmail in that Cooper may force Don (like Ogilvy) to confess who he really is. Cooper may not live up to the standards set by Ogilvy, but he is an excellent ad man.

As foreshadowed in Guy Walks into ad Advertising Agency, Roger and Don are no longer the "(Dean) Martin and (Jerry) Lewis" of S-C. In that episode a picture of Jerry (the mouse) WITHOUT Tom (the cat) is shown.

Read more!

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Love the 80's

Apparently video tape was a lot more expensive in the 80's because no one was allowed to do a second take.

Read more!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Take a Bite (or Two) Out of Crime

The Onion always makes me laugh (even when it's mocking 2nd Amendment guys like me).

Little Boy Heroically Shoots, Mutilates Burglar
Read more!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Snake Charmer

Deborah and Roberta Lipp have graciously allowed me to guest blog over at Basket of Kisses. It's the gold standard of Mad Men fansites, so my inner geek is quite excited.

My first entry delves into a little "Marketing 101" from Episode 3.06, "Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency."
Pig in a Python

When Don meets with Conrad Hilton in Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency, he disappoints the hotel tycoon by not thinking “bigger.” It would appear that Hilton has more in mind for Don than enlisting his help to improve the ill-conceived “Jerry” mouse ad campaign.

However, Don explains that, like a snake which can only handle one meal at a time, Don is only seeking “one opportunity at a time.” In this case, Don has already had his one meal; a chicken salad at home with Betty. So, he’s not hungry when Hilton offers him a Waldorf salad...(more)

Read more!

The Space Between (His Ears)

Stand up comic Jim Norton had the best line about this: "I don't want to hear David Matthews' views on racism any more than I want to listen to David Duke discuss mediocre dentist office music."

From CNN:

U.S. racism 'everywhere,' says Dave Matthews

CNN: President Carter said he thinks that a lot of the animosity directed toward President Obama is race related.

Dave Matthews: Of course it is! I found there's a fairly blatant racism in America that's already there, and I don't think I noticed it when I lived here as a kid. But when I went back to South Africa, and then it's sort of thrust in your face, and then came back here -- I just see it everywhere. There's a good population of people in this country that are terrified of the president only because he's black, even if they don't say it. And I think a lot of them, behind closed doors, do say it.

Read more!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rube Goldberg Lives!

"Voice-to-text?" Isn't that just talking on the phone? This may inspire me to get back to work on my solar flashlight.

From WWJ Newsradio:

Ford Looking At Hands-Free Voice-to-Text Options

Ford Motor Company is researching alternatives to try to keep people from text messaging while driving.

With research showing that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to get into an accident, Ford says it's looking at ways to upgrade its SYNC system to allow more ways to just speak and hear text messages.

Read more!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Independence Day (Mad Men 3.06)

While it wobbles a bit with its wild storyline concerning the title character in “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency,” Mad Men episode 3.06, stops just short of going completely over the over the top. Roger’s dryly humorous remark near the end that someone has probably gotten their foot chopped off in an ad agency before is a subtle signal to the audience that plot has pushed the credulity envelop. Gene, the Draper’s newborn, continues to represent the new social environment which has arrived and to which the characters must acclimate themselves (Sally, most notably). The themes of progress and changing relationships are also explored.

Don calms Sally one evening when she can’t sleep. She’s afraid of the dark, she says. "I'm home now," Don says. "Nothing can hurt you."

Don, wearing a gray striped shirt (which could be prison clothes given that MM 3.05, "The Fog," established Don’s entrapment to domesticity) points out that while he isn’t Thomas Edison, he’ll get Sally a night light for her room. Later, one of the PPL executives visiting Sterling-Cooper is introduced as “Harold Ford” -- a variant of Henry Ford. Also, the riding mower Ken Cosgrove rides into the office is referred to as an “iron horse” which was a nickname for the first locomotives. Thus, the idea of progress (locomotives, light bulbs, automobiles) is presented throughout the episode.

The next morning, Lane announces that two executives from London will arrive the following day, coincidentally Joan's last at Sterling Cooper. Everyone will have to work on July 3rd, originally a holiday.

There’s a feeling among Roger and Don that the date of the visit from London was set to deliberately conflict with the Fourth of July. This sets up the idea that the old school “colonial” viewpoint represented by the PPL executives will certainly be challenged by S-C in GWIaAA.

Cooper orders Roger and Don to reconcile immediately with a trip to his barber shop. "Everyone wants Martin and Lewis" back together, he tells them.

While this ostensibly refers to Don and Roger’s strained relationship, the larger issue of leaving behind an established paradigm to move forward in the new one seems to be pointedly highlighted here. Later, when Don meets with Conrad Hilton, he looks at a proposed hotel ad layout featuring Jerry, the cartoon mouse to Tom’s cat, of the famous “Tom and Jerry” animated shorts. Significantly missing from the ad mock-ups (as Roger will be missing from the new S-C org charts) is Tom. This echoes Bert’s reference to the former team of “[Dean] Martin and [Jerry] Lewis.”

Ken roars into the office atop a John Deere riding mower, jubilant because he's just landed the account.

The mower is green. This is significant because the new social order that has arrived in Mad Men’s universe is represented by the color green as well as green landscapes (such as the bushes Sally drops her new Barbie doll into at the end). Ken, clearly ahead of the curve, seems to embrace change more quickly than the other characters by literally riding a symbol of it into the office. Another example of Ken’s adaptability is demonstrated when he is the first of the S-C staff to introduce himself to the PPL execs during their visit the next day.

BTW, Joan is shown on her next to last workday wearing a blue dress. The following day, ostensibly her transition to a “new” life, she’s wearing green.

Betty rests in bed with Gene. Bobby comes in to "pet" his new brother, but Sally refuses to approach the baby.

As stated earlier, Sally who had close ties to her grandfather Gene (the symbol of the old worldview) has trouble with her brother Gene (the new worldview). Also, the stains visible on Bobby’s shirt could prefigure the blood stains on Joan’s green dress seen later. Betty refers to Baby Gene as her "pig in a blanket." This would seem to be a nod to Don's often professed aversion to pork products and his sour relationship with Betty's father.

At Cooper's barbershop, Roger tells Don he doesn't like being judged. "We don't need to talk about this anymore. I promise," Don replies.

Foreshadowing Guy Mac Kendrick’s loss of his foot, Roger’s discusses his father losing an arm in a fatal auto accident. Much is made about the merits of a manicure. Roger even jokes about getting a pedicure further linking the idea of a manicure to Guy’s accident. Note also that one can refer to a lawn being “manicured” by a mower; the central motif in the episode.

That night, Betty tells Don about Sally's hostility toward Gene. Don, a twinkle in his eye, asks Betty if she'd ever want to live in London.

Don eats chicken salad in this scene. He’ll be offered (and refuse) a Waldorf salad during his subsequent meeting with Hilton.

Greg, drunk, wakes Joan when he stumbles into their apartment. He started drinking after being passed over for Chief Resident. Worse yet, "I had no brains in my fingers," Greg confesses.

Just as Don has to console Sally in the dark, Joan has to do the same for Greg. Joan even states that she’s eaten two dinners (or eating for two). This might be taken as a clue to a possible pregnancy. However, it certainly shows here how Greg has become a child relative to the mother figure of Joan. Their demeanor when Joan invites Greg to sit down and later offers to disrobe him has more in common with the dynamic of a parent and child than that of a married couple.

Also important is Greg telling Joan that poor surgery skills were his undoing. Later Joan will exhibit her own strong aptitude for medicine when she administers first aid to Guy after the mower accident.

The next morning, Londoners Guy MacKendrick, Harold Ford, and Saint-John Powell tour Sterling Cooper. Saint-John touts Guy's education and accomplishments to Don, Roger, and Cooper.

While getting ready for the visit, there’s an exchange between Hooker and Joan where Joan refers to the British Secretary of War having a penchant for prostitutes. John Profumo, the Secretary of War for Britain, resigned in June 1963 because of an affair with an alleged prostitute. This is certainly a jab by Joan at the sycophant “Hooker.” It also underscores the war-like state in existence between the two top “secretaries” at S-C (which is a microcosm for the conflict between S-C and PPL).

Two famous musicals about beggars which start out tragically yet have happy endings are referenced. Joan tells the execs that she has gotten them tickets to see the Broadway musical Oliver. More subtly, John Hooker offers to give the men a “three-penny tour” of the office. This may be referring to Three Penny Opera. While Guy’s accident is "tragic” for him (he'll never be able to walk into an advertising agency in quite the same way ever again), for the S-C employees it is certainly a “happy ending.”

It may also be deliberate that the character who is symbolically "mowed down" by change (the lawn mower) is named "Guy." This is another term for "man."

Harold and Saint-John greet Lane, congratulate him for trimming the fat and increasing billings, and present him with a taxidermied cobra. "For our snake charmer," says Saint-John. Lane is being transferred to Bombay. Guy will take over at Sterling Cooper, Saint-John informs the crestfallen Lane.

Lane makes reference to the PPL takeover at S-C as “Pax Romana” (a peaceful conquest). This was a term first coined in Gibbon’s “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” the book which Gene and Sally were reading together. However, the Brits (who still maintain an outdated colonial mindset) will discover that their peaceful conquest of S-C isn’t exactly complete.

The snake Pryce receives as a “gift” relates to Don’s later admission to Conrad Hilton later that like a snake, he doesn’t think beyond his next meal. Pryce’s job indeed seems to be addressing one hot spot at a time. That India is Pryce’s next assignment correlates nicely with Britain’s colonial history.

Meeting with top staffers, Guy unveils a chart detailing the agency's "slight" reorganization. He will head a triumvirate that also includes Don and Cooper. "Mr. Sterling's not on that chart at all," notes Cooper. An oversight, Guy assures everyone.

The overhead projector continues the motif of trying to shine a light on the dark face of change. Again, just as Tom was left off of the “Tom and Jerry” Hilton ad, Roger is omitted from the new org chart. As pointed out by Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune, once Don sees the Brit's disappointing new org chart, he doodles an American flag.

At home, Betty gives Sally a Barbie doll -- a present, she explains, from Baby Gene. Her brother wants to be her friend, Betty says. Sally somberly accepts the gift.

Sally clearly does not believe that Baby Gene gave her the Barbie doll. In the context of the story, Sally understands that a baby is not capable of such a feat. However, thematically, Sally grasps that a Barbie doll is more symbolic of an outmoded view of women than the new reality that Baby Gene represents. This doll will come represent something that Sally will, as Bert Cooper advises Roger in a different scene, has to let go of to get what she really wants (equality). Thus, if Sally is to be a female living in the new world, she’ll have to part ways with the old one. However, while this new world has much to offer, the old world, for all of its faults, is more familiar and comfortable. Hence, Sally’s fear of the dark and the light motif carried throughout the episode. It’s noteworthy that during the gift scene, Betty, who has brought change into the Draper home through Baby Gene, is shown wearing a dress adorned with green piping, rather than her usual blue outfit.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Guy offers a champagne toast to Joan, wishing her "caviar and children and all that is good." Joan starts crying, but collects herself. The afternoon is for celebrating Joan, Guy declares.

Again, Joan is wearing green. It’s also pointed out that she’s headed for “greener pastures.” The cake the secretaries get her is blue and decorated with a picture of cruise ship. Reminiscent of Season 2’s “A Night to Remember,” an episode dealing with marital woes, the ship on the cake bears a striking resemblance to the Titanic.

Roger complains to Cooper about being left off the chart. "I'm being punished for making my job look easy," he says. “We took their money,” Cooper says. "We have to do what they say."

Linking nicely with the Olivier and Three Penny Opera references from earlier, Bert could almost be reminding Roger that “beggars can’t be choosers.” There’s a certain logic to depicting Bert, the Ayn “A is A” Rand devotee, as the one more able to come to grips with the reality of the situation.

At Joan's party, a tipsy Smitty takes Ken’s mower for a spin. Lois gets on the mower after him, but has trouble maneuvering. The machine, lurching out of control, runs over Guy's foot and crashes through a wall. Blood splatters everywhere. Joan rushes to the shrieking man and applies a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

Peggy and Joan try to talk, but the roar of the lawn mower obscures their conversation. Their attempts to talk over the noise symbolically reflects that neither of them realizes that a new societal paradigm has arrived. The exhaust from the mower which causes Joan to cough suggests that this paradigm has a more adverse affect on her than Peggy.

Guy’s accident (and subsequent dismissal) assures that S-C somewhat severs the ties with PPL (for now) and allow them to maintain a level of freedom from the British company.

As mentioned above, Joan displays medical skills in contrast to her husband.

At the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, Don greets Conrad Hilton -- the "Connie" he met at Roger and Jane's country club party. Connie shows Don a Country Mouse/City Mouse ad layout for Hilton Hotels and asks what he thinks. "I think you wouldn't be in the presidential suite right now if you worked for free," Don responds.

Prodded to give Connie "one for free," Don questions associating mice and hotels and makes a pitch for the Hilton account. Connie chides Don for not setting his sights even higher when "somebody like me" gives him an opening. "One opportunity at a time," says Don.

Like a snake that has already fed, Don, who in a previous scene has eaten chicken salad, turns down Hilton’s offer of a Waldorf salad. It being a “chicken salad” may also suggest that Don, despite his air of confidence, is afraid of changing situations. S-C is still more familar and comfortable for him. Hilton scolds Don for not seeing the bigger picture.

One of the hotel ad mock ups shows Jerry with luggage. Suitcases/briefcases are often used in Mad Men to represent a person’s life. It could be that the image of Jerry without Tom relates to the difficulty Don has in maintaining close relationships. This could also be a clue that, given Hilton's advice to "think bigger," Don may leave S-C. for a job with the hotel giant.

This may be too fine a reading, but its worth pointing out that Don’s approach to business, which he describes to Hilton as seeking “one opportunity at a time” (like a snake) is an outdated “transactional” strategy as compared with the “relationship” marketing approach that would become popular in the 70's and 80's.

From Organization Transformation:

Traditional marketing strategies focused on attracting consumers. The goal was to identify prospects, convert them to customers, and complete sales transactions.

The concept, called relationship marketing, refers to the development, growth, and maintenance of long-term, cost-effective exchange relationships with individual customers, suppliers, employees, and other partners for mutual benefits.
Connie's secretary interrupts the tête-à-tête. Don has an emergency call.

Don always seemed to be pulled away from important meetings with emergency calls from outside (such as with Sal in “Out of Town”).

At the hospital, Saint-John, Harold, and Lane arrive, thank Joan for her quick actions, and tell her and Don that after losing a foot Guy's career is "all over.” Lane will remain at Sterling Cooper.

Joan significantly buys a Dr. Pepper from one of the vending machines for ten cents. This, no doubt, highlights the choice she made in selecting “Dr. Harris” as her husband. That decision seems to have lost its value. Pointing to Guy’s blood on her green dress, she remarks that “it’s ruined.” Symbolically, this refers to Joan’s realization that the new world she had hoped to enter is no longer there.

Outside his front door that night, Don finds Sally's Barbie doll in the bushes. He puts it back in her bedroom. Moments later, Sally screams. Don comforts her, but she screams again when Betty walks in holding Gene.

Sally drops the Barbie (an old female construct) into green shrubbery. Sally would seem to be trying to let go of something to move forward and get what she wants.

Sally apologizes for waking Gene. Don lifts Gene out of his crib and cradles him. "He's only a baby," Don tells her. "We don't know who he is yet or who he's going to be. And that is a wonderful thing."

In the dark, Don seems to help Sally come to terms with Baby Gene and in effect embrace the change she has resisted throughout the episode. This would seem to be a positive step in her journey out from under social tyranny. However, when the original colonies won their independence from Britain, Benjamin Franklin was supposedly asked if they had formed a “Republic or a Monarchy.” His reply (which could apply to Sally OR the people at Sterling-Cooper): “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Read more!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Simply amazing...

Read more!

Friday, September 18, 2009


I suspect that Facebook wasn't being completely honest when it reported that this girl was "searching" for me. I'm beginning to think that ALL of their ads are overstated.

Read more!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Anchors Away

Veteran New York anchor Ernie Anastos is in hot water with WNYW/Channel 5 brass for seemingly letting an F-bomb get on the air. In his defense, maybe he actually meant to say: "keep choking that chicken."

Read more!

Kelebrate Konstitution (or Kitizenship) Day

Today is "Constitution Day!"

From Wikipedia:

Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) is an American federal observance that recognizes the ratification of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is observed on September 17, the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787.

The law establishing the holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004.

Yes, the man responsible for the Constitution Day is Robert Byrd --who was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan. I wonder if he's going to celebrate with a bonfire?

Read more!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Frankly, I think being able to make the Kurt Cobain character sing David Cassidy's "I Think I Love You" is a selling point for Guitar Hero 5.

From Econsultancy:

Kurt Cobain's Guitar Hero avatar could give Activision a bad name

...This week, Activision released the new version of Guitar Hero, complete with a dirty but cute avatar of Kurt Cobain. While Nirvana purists may not appreciate seeing the band's deceased lead singer in digital. Insult was added to injury because Cobain's avatar is used differently than other famous characters in the game.

While gamers can use Cobain to sing his own songs, Activision has unlocked the character to allow him to sing any number of other genres, from rap to hair metal. And while it may be amusing to watch Cobain sing Flavor Flav songs, Courtney Love claims she did not grant Activision this right. Activision says they acted within their rights.

Read more!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Citizen Kanye

I apologize in advance for the last one (h/t Fish and Spaghetti). BTW, I'm still waiting for the inevitable backlash against Taylor Swift.

Read more!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Doing Time (Mad Men 3.05)

While Mad Men’s universe has undergone the anticipated social paradigm shift symbolically precipitated by the death of Gene in "The Arrangements," Episode 3.05, "The Fog," suggests that many of the institutions that made up the infrastructure of that fallen empire are still very much in place. Schools, prisons, and hospitals are used as motifs in this episode. They serve to develop TF’s underlying theme that such institutions which may have once (arguably) served a useful purpose, have, in their decline, become symbols of repression that entrap many of the characters.

Don and Betty visit Sally's school for a conference about their daughter’s recent bad behavior. Learning of Gene's death, her teacher, Miss Farrell, suggests that Sally’s grief over the loss may be the problem. It also probably explains Sally's many questions about Medgar Evers, the recently murdered civil rights activist.

In the classroom, Betty is studying examples of “long division” on the blackboard. This certainly fits in with her and Don’s strained relationship. Also, the map on Miss Farrell’s wall shows the United States as green. The color green designates the new social construct now coming in play. The initial exchange with Miss Farrell concerns how Don and Betty find the child sized student desks confining. Sally has gotten into a fight at school with an overweight student. Miss Farrell comments that other students “poke” the heavy student with pencils because they don’t think she can feel it. This is echoed later with Betty’s experience at the hospital during the vividly depicted 1960’s birthing process. There she suffers at the hands of medical workers who “poke” her with hypodermic needles. This may also be a link to the chaos going on at Sterling-Cooper implied by Lane Pryce’s later complaints about the inordinately large number of pencils being "wasted" at the office?

The idea of Gene’s recent death is tied in with the killing of Medgar Evers as MM gradually shines light on many of the “movements” starting to arise from the changing social mores. Don, first invoking an idea that will be repeated throughout the episode, states that “it’s not a good time” for them.

After Betty has left the room, Miss Farrell and Don talk further. There’s palpable sexual tension exhibited between them. Miss Farrell was the teacher who Don, almost in a trance, watched doing the Maypole dance at the end of "Love Among the Ruins." It’s probably no coincidence that the name of the free spirited Farrell is a homonym for “feral.” This is contrasted with Betty who Gene, in a later dream sequence, refers to as a domestic “house cat.”

Betty and Don finish their meeting with Miss Farrell while standing in front of the blackboard. The shot is staged so that a long division example written on the board shows a number “zero” with an arrow clearly pointing at Betty. Thus, the later depiction of Betty’s horrid treatment in the hospital is more a symbolic exploration of the low esteem with which society holds her than an actual commentary on medical practices of the time.

Later that day at work, Don enters then abruptly exits a meeting at which Lane is complaining about company expenses, right down to staff consumption of pads and pencils.

Don and Lane compare the atmosphere at Sterling-Cooper to The Bridge on the River Kwai – a film about soldiers in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. This introduces the idea of imprisonment in the episode. Later Ken and Harry share a laugh at one of the secretaries who gets her scarf caught in a Xerox machine. For Don, Pete and Peggy, the work environment at S-C, like the desks at Sally’s school, feels more and more constricting.

There’s also a quick reference to London Fog retooling their facilities to offer a children's line. This would seem to be part of the solution to slumping sales first mentioned in the episode "Out of Town.” However, it also supports the theme of a changing social infrastructure running through Season 3.

Pete, reviewing his client Admiral's generally flat sales figures with Paul, concludes that the television set manufacturer is popular with African Americans.

Paul continues his poseur reputation by continuing to sing the praises of Karl Marx while talking with Pete about a market downturn. Pete is more concerned about slumping television sales for Admiral. This links Pete with Peggy, who has just recently bought her mother an Admiral television set, and demonstrates, as Pete will say later, how her decisions affect him.

The idea of “time” is again evoked by Ken’s bragging about the gift of a wristwatch from a happy client. Ken, a bachelor, chides the married Harry and Pete for not having free “time” to go out after work.

Pete takes a call from "Uncle Herman," who turns out to be Duck Phillips -- now at Grey, another advertising agency. Duck invites Pete to lunch.

Duck, whose office wall is adorned with statues of flying ducks. Duck certainly is trying to entice Pete (and later Peggy) to leave S-C (“flew the coup”). It’s worth pointing out that this is reminiscent of the duck motif frequently used in The Sopranos to represent fear and dread. Also, Duck, who was very critical of Don’s methods at S-C, now adopts one of them by assuming alternate identities in his dealings with Pete.

That evening, Sally's teacher calls the Draper home and apologizes to Don for the morning's conference. Her father died when she was eight; she might have overreacted on Sally's behalf. Don ends the call when Betty announces she’s going into labor.

Miss Farrell’s demeanor while talking to Don clearly makes her appear somewhat out of control (or, as stated above, “feral”). More sexual tension is apparent in the conversation. Farrell refers to Don as “Mr. Draper” and throughout the phone call is shown leaning against her drapes.

The call is cut off by Betty who, referring to the baby, declares to Don that “it’s time.”

"Your job's done," the intake nurse at the hospital tells Don as she pushes Betty away in a wheelchair. Betty thinks she sees Gene mopping the corridor floor and calls out to him.

The nurse’s blunt statement to Don not only refers to his low level of involvement with the actual delivery (by today’s standards) but may also be indicative of the fact that Don’s association with S-C is starting to sour.

The walls of the hospital are green. However, unlike the more vivid, bright greens used to evoke the theme of change elsewhere, the greens used in the hospital setting are more muted and sterile. It’s almost as if the institution is ensconced in but hasn’t fully embraced the spirit of the naturalistic new social paradigm that exists outside of its walls. In fact, the procedures Betty undergoes could hardly be described as “natural.”

While being admitted, Betty lists that her last meal included toast, cottage cheese, and notably, “lifesavers.” She also tells the nurse that she won't breast feed the baby. The mode is foreboding as Betty is wheeled down the hospital corridor. Betty catches a glimpse of a janitor who looks like Gene mopping. This image will come up again in Betty’s dream.

Quick note: that Gene is wearing grey coveralls could arguably link him to Duck’s reference of moving over to an ad agency called “Grey” (Duck is also shown wearing a grey turtleneck). Thus, the potential of the new situation Duck tries to sell Pete and Peggy may not be as great as he claims it to be.

In the waiting room, Don meets Dennis, a Sing Sing prison guard and first-time father. He's brought some Scotch. "I thought it'd be a party," he says.

The two men talk about fatherhood and prison life. Referring to the prisoners he encounters, Dennis reflects that "every single one of these animals" was a baby once. "Every one of them blame their mom and dad," he adds. "That's a bull-- excuse," Don replies. Dennis agrees.

That Don waits for the delivery with a prison guard underscores the feeling of entrapment his family and marriage have come to represent to him. Don certainly has bitter feelings towards his parents as do the prisoners that Dennis guards. Don notices that his watch has stopped. In effect, Don, like Ken pointed out to Harry and Pete earlier, has no “free” time.

Coverage on the Medgar Evers case can clearly be seen on the television in the waiting room. The prison guard’s bottle of scotch seems to be a pointed reference to Betty’s earlier statement about bottle feeding her child. Thumbing through a magazine, Don tears out an ad for a blue Cadillac. The car shown in the ad is the same as the one he drives. As noted in previous posts, the color blue represents the old, restrictive paradigm many of the main characters still live under. Don’s demeanor when tearing out the page and folding it up (as if to make it go away) suggests that, at some level, he trying to rid himself of his domesticated life.

Betty, agitated because her doctor hasn't arrived, argues with the nurse who gives her a sedative. Betty slips into a dream. Wearing a summer dress, she strolls a pristine suburban neighborhood. A caterpillar slides down its string of silk into her open hand. She smiles.

Betty's dream takes place amidst a green landscape. In context, the caterpillar Betty holds in her hand suggests the promise of something better.

Betty continues to resist her nurse. "Where's Don?" Betty screams. "Have you been with him?" she asks.

Betty acts betrayed by the doctors who poke her with hypodermic needles just as the students who poked pencils into the fat girl at Sally’s school. In Betty’s case, she seems to wonder why they’re treating her as they do. Betty is not fat (even her veins are thin). She pleadingly pointing out that she’s a “housewife” (i.e. follows the rules).

Much later, there’s a moment between Don, who is wearing a blue robe, and Sally in the Draper kitchen. Don cooks a late night snack for he and Sally. Betraying his old days on a farm, Don holds the egg up to the light for signs of any chick embryos. Then a close up of the egg being broken open into the pan suggests the idea of the new life he and Betty have created. The shot is also reminiscent of Don in "Out of Town," where the act of boiling milk causes him to reflect back on his own birth.

Dennis learns that his wife's delivery went fine. Pointing to the heavens, Dennis says that he doesn't know who's "up there," but he testifies to Don that his newborn son will make him a better man. "Tell me you heard me," he asks Don. "I heard you," Don assures him.

Don and the Dennis, with the help of a young female hospital employee, struggle to “deliver” a pack of cigarettes from the machine. The prison guard makes a passing remark about the girl not looking much older than sixteen years old. That Dennis is attracted to such a young girl suggests an unsavory side that probably ties into the marital troubles he hints at with Don. Before leaving, the prison guard looks at Don and proclaims him to be an “honest” man. Thus, the professional ad man’s ability to fool people is further demonstrated.

Betty slips into a dream again. Her father, still in the janitor's uniform, is at her house mopping blood. Her mother stands next to a seated black man. Holding a bloodstained cloth, her mother says, "You see what happens to people who speak up?" Betty should be happy with what she has. "You're a housecat," her father adds. "You're very important, and you have little to do."

Again, note that Gene compares Betty to a domesticated housecat in sharp contrast to the feral nature of Miss Farrell. The image of a bloody Medgar Evers suggests that participation in the new social order is not without its own pitfalls. This may certainly be the case with Farrell who is clearly a symbol of the new order and also seems troubled (not unlike many of Don's extramarital love interests).

Betty wakes, holding a baby boy. "His name is Eugene," she tells Don.

That Betty names her son Eugene suggests that on some level she understands that a new paradigm is in place. Also, as Betty looks down at Don and the kids outside from her hospital window, she wears a distinctly negative expression. The display below seems to represent for Betty the stereotypical “model family” that's part of a social construct she is railing against.

While walking down the hospital hallway with a bouquet of blue flowers for Peggy, Don sees Dennis. At first, the prison guard flashes a smile of recognition, only to quickly change demeanor and ignore Don. Ostensibly, this suggests that Dennis regrets opening up to Don during the previous night. On another level, however, it may mean that as a dispassionate guard watching over Don’s symbolic prison, Dennis cannot make friends with the inmates and must put up a front (something Dennis commented on earlier).

Pete arrives for lunch with Duck to find that Peggy is also invited. Duck offers both of them jobs, but Pete gets up to leave. "If you want to woo me, you'll have to buy me my own lunch," he says. "You're a freewheeling career gal with great ideas," Duck later tells Peggy. "This is your time."

Peggy comments favorably on the grey turtle neck Duck is wearing. This is similar to the one worn by the young man Peggy was attracted to in the previous season (a situation that did not work out). While attempting to woe Pete and Peggy, Duck uses terms to describe the new advertising agency as “the promised land” where creative people sit on "velvet pillows."

Back at Sterling Cooper, Pete quizzes Hollis, the building's black elevator operator, about his television. Hollis has an RCA. "A lot of Negroes prefer Admiral," Pete notes, but Hollis is reluctant to continue the conversation.

Hollis reacts with cynicism to Pete’s suggestion that television sets are part of the “American Dream” everyone strives for. Given the racial climate of the time, this dream would not seem to be a realistic option for Hollis. Yet Pete does get Hollis to admit that he watches baseball. This echoes a line from Dennis the prison guard who mentions that the inmates play baseball (the great American pastime).

The next day, Pete stuns two Admiral representatives by proposing commercials featuring white and black actors. One rep wonders if this is even legal. "Who's to say that Negroes aren't buying Admiral televisions because they think white people want them?" the other man asks.

Pete tries to develop a strategy for the Admiral account by doing his own geographic study of their sales history. Unlike the map in Miss Farrell’s classroom showing the U.S in green, Pete works off of a map where the country is colored blue. This indicates that Pete is still struggling to make sense of the world while operating under old, outdated assumptions.

Peggy tells Don she wants a raise in pay equal to the men. “It's not going to happen,” Don says. He's fighting for paper clips these days. "I look at you and I think, 'I want what he has,'" Peggy replies. "You have everything and so much of it." Her request denied, Peggy departs, asking, "What if this is my time?"

Roger first appearance shows in a childlike posture wearing a napkin for a bib and eating an ice cream sundae with a silver spoon. He chides Don by saying “da da.” The spoon suggests the silver spoon Roger was born with in his mouth.

A nod to the opening credits of a figure falling down the side of a skyscraper and onto a couch, Don is later shown lying down on the couch in his office (this is a common device used in Mad Men to depict a character who is undergoing emotional distress).

Don seems genuinely surprised when Peggy admits to being envious of his life. And once again, the idea of time (and time running out) is raised.

Roger and Cooper chew out Pete for upsetting Admiral, which, Cooper says, "has no interest in becoming a ‘colored’ television company." Lane observes that as a newcomer to the United States, he senses changing attitudes regarding race. Perhaps Sterling Cooper should capitalize on this, if with another client.

When Pete gets chewed out in Cooper’s office, a simple blue pillow is visible in the center of the shot. This is not the velvet one at Gray that Duck was bragging about.

Don drives Betty and the baby home. Betty describes the delivery to Francine as "all a fog." That night, the baby cries. Betty walks slowly in the direction of the sound. She pauses while he continues to wail, then proceeds into his room.

A medium shot shows the Drapers pulling up in the same automobile that Don ripped out of the magazine ad at the hospital. The model family is once again highlighted. The final scene shows Betty walking toward her crying baby in the dark. The same music plays in the background as during her outdoor dream sequence. However, unlike the dream, the darkened hallway Betty walks through represents a confined and less promising reality.

Read more!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


As obnoxious as I found Joe Wilson's behavior to be during the president's speech Wednesday night, it turns out that he wasn't entirely wrong.

From MSNBC (not Fox News) two days AFTER Obama strongly asserted that his healthcare proposal would not cover those here illegally:


...Today, for the first time as far as we know, the administration is backing a provision that would require proof of citizenship before someone could enroll in a plan selected on the exchange.

Here, the administration also concedes that hospitals would be compensated with public funds for the care of undocumented immigrants.

Read more!

Friday, September 11, 2009

...Now You Don't

That's why they call it the "big leagues."

Read more!


This is pretty funny. However, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Read more!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


What in the hell inspired Pam Shriver to embarrass Melanie Oudin's nine year old sister by asking her to spell the family motto ("BELIEVE") that's emblazoned on her shirt.

Read more!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Fight the Power

Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty apes!

From AZ Central:

Fewer paying speed-camera tickets in Arizona

Dave Vontesmar hates photo enforcement.

Vontesmar drives nearly 30 miles a day from his home in north Phoenix to his job at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and passes through the photo-enforcement gantlet on Interstate 17, Arizona 51 and Interstate 10.

But when state Department of Public Safety officers served 37 unpaid photo-enforcement tickets to Vontesmar recently, he wasn't fazed.

The photos all show the driver wearing a monkey mask.

"Not one of them there is a picture where you can identify the driver," Vontesmar said. "The ball's in their court. I sent back all these ones I got with a copy of my driver's license and said, 'It's not me. I'm not paying them.' "

Read more!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Shifts Happen (Mad Men 3.04)

Note: I’m taking the opportunity of “The Arrangements,” and the dawning of a new era, to alter the manner in which I present these write-ups. Specifically, instead of outlining the action myself, I take advantage of the fine Mad Men episode summaries published on AMC’s web site (shown in bold italics) and interlace them with my own comments and observations (which is the REAL fun part for me anyway).

The garden of change lurking just on the edge of Mad Men’s universe, which Don Draper first seemed drawn to in “Love Among the Ruins,” finally and tangibly encroaches into everyone’s lives (ready or not) by the end of Episode 3.04, “The Arrangements.”

Fatherhood and war are two motifs explored in this episode. And MM continues to use the colors blue and green to represent the old and new social paradigms. In fact, an alternate title for this write-up could have been “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

Gene, in the passenger seat of his Lincoln, lets Sally drive while he operates the pedals.

The Lincoln has been the one of the most identifiable symbols associated with Betty’s father Gene. It’s not clear how encouraging of a parent he was to Betty, but in TA Gene is clearly on a mission to make Sally more self-sufficient. He steps on the gas for Sally to get the Lincoln up to the speed limit of 25 mph. Perhaps since he knows that his time is short (and, at another level, that his worldview is on the wane like the dying Roman empire he and Sally read about) Gene feels the need to expedite the process of Sally’s growth. Gene doesn’t display the same level of concern for Bobby. Perhaps because he innately realizes that the world, through baptisms of fire such as war, already has mechanisms to prepare male children with the prerequisite self-sufficiency needed for survival.

Gene later makes a passing reference to Abraham Lincoln. Linking Gene (through his Lincoln) to a murdered president foreshadows impending doom. It’s also worth noting that JFK, whose assassination was hinted at in “Love Among the Ruins,” was shot while being driven in a Lincoln.

At her sister Anita's house, where her mother now lives, Peggy confides to Anita her plan to move to Manhattan. "You going to be one of those girls?" Anita asks. "I am one of those girls," Peggy replies.

The reference to the death of a different “father,” Pope John Paul XXIII, sets the date of this episode at or around June 3, 1963. Peggy and her Anita both wear blue. While Peggy represents a new type of emerging woman (in sharp contrast to Anita), she still tries to fit into the old model. Thus, she finds it difficult to find her footing as evidenced by her later efforts to get a roommate.

At Sterling Cooper, a college friend of Pete's named Horace touts jai alai as the sport of the future and proposes some extravagant promotions. Lane sets the agency's initial price tag at a million dollars. After the meeting, Pete refers to Horace as a "fatted calf," but Don points out that "this idiot's father" is tight with Cooper, who wouldn't be happy about them exploiting his friend’s son.

Horace Cook Jr. wants to use a three million dollar trust set up for him by Horace Cook Sr. to popularize the game of jai alai in the United States. “Ho Ho” (as Pete calls him) echoes the opening driving scene by remarking that jai alai balls can travel at up “175 MPH.” Horace Jr.’s vision is to build a jai alai franchise by heavily promoting its greatest player Patxi Churruca. As noted by Sal and verified by this contemporary account from Sports Illustrated, "JAI ALAI: FURY AT THE FRONTON," the handsome athlete apparently did bear a striking resemblance to Mel Ferrer:
Francisco Maria Churruca Iriondo Azpiazu Alcorta, known to his friends as Patxi, lives four months of the year in a second-floor apartment near the Miami airport and the rest of the year in a colorful home in Motrico, a Basque fishing village a few dozen miles from the Franco-Spanish border. He is a handsome man of 29, with sloping brown-green eyes, a slightly receding hairline and a vague resemblance to the actor Mel Ferrer.
Horace Jr., who wants to cash in Patxi’s good looks, remarks that he hopes the star doesn’t get hit with any “balls in the face.” Coming right on the heels of a flattering comment by Sal, one could argue that this may also be a subtle play on words expressing Ho Ho’s hopes that the dashing star won’t turn out to be a homosexual.

Meanwhile at the Draper home, Gene reviews his will and funeral arrangements with Betty. Betty accuses him of being morbid about his death. "I'm your little girl,” she says. “Can't you keep it to yourself?"

Betty, in blue, balks at her father’s attempts to prepare her for the future. As with Sally, Gene seems to want to toughen her up for a world and in which, as he described in the last episode, “all hell” is about to break loose. But the traditional Betty still adheres to the construct of the day relegating women to a childlike status.

That night, Gene takes the helmet of a Prussian soldier he shot during World War I and puts it on Bobby’s head. Don says that the helmet belonged to a person. "An enemy," Gene replies. Don removes the helmet from Bobby's head.

As noted before, Gene isn't as concerned about Bobby’s preparation for the approaching new worldview. Again, it seems that Gene views the established institutions such like war as being sufficient to “make a man” out of Bobby. Don is uncomfortable about Bobby wearing a “dead man’s hat” not only for it’s gruesomeness but also because it hits too close to home. The former Dick Whitman now symbolically wears a hat which belonged to the real “Don Draper” -- a victim of a different war.

At Sal's apartment, Kitty propositions her husband wearing a sheer negligee. Resisting her kisses, Sal says that he's "not himself" these days. "...Sal acts out the Bye Bye Birdie takeoff for Kitty, whose cheerful encouragement fades as her husband minces his way through the choreography.

That a green garden is MM’s motif for an impending new paradigm is reinforced by Kitty’s wearing of a green negligee and her admission to the fact that she “needs tending.” There’s a few things going on in this scene. Sal (who admits that he’s “not himself”) shows a complete lack of physical attraction to “Kitty.” This will be echoed somewhat by Peggy’s first ad for a roommate in which she admits to being “allergic to cats.” Sal also describes how his professional world is undergoing a dramatic shift. Kitty is encouraging and, continuing the military theme, predicts that Sal will be a “triumphant conquering hero.” Finally, Sal’s acting out of the Patio number, which he pointedly describes as taking place on a “blue background”, is reminiscent of Peggy’s similar attempt in “Love Among the Ruins.” The display seems to trigger a realization in Kitty as to Sal’s true nature.

The next day, Don and Lane meet with Cooper and Horace Cook about his son's jai alai scheme. Bertram offers to decline the account, but Horace Senior, who dismisses the sport as "Polish handball," says that his son will just turn to another agency if they do.

Horace Sr. (who made his fortune as a wartime supplier) attempts the same sort of “tough love” in letting his son fail as Gene demonstrates by letting Sally drive.

Paul, Harry, and Ken enlist Lois to prank-call Peggy in response to the roommate ad ("I'm a clean, responsible, considerate person…") she posted at work. As "Elaine," Lois says that she works around animal carcasses most of the day and has a face disfigured by burns. A few lurid details later, Peggy ends the call.

Peggy’s pins her first ad (on a blue card) for a roommate to the bulletin board after removing a posting for “Kittens.” Again, note the connection to “Kitty” from earlier and the line in Peggy’s ad about being “allergic to cats.” Interestingly, as will be revealed in a subsequent conversation with Joan, Peggy displays none of her talents when trying to market herself. Perhaps, this is because Peggy doesn't really know who she is. Also, during the prank call, “Elaine’s” description of having been burned foreshadows the television newscast of a monk immolating himself shown later in the episode.

While eating ice cream with Sally, Gene tells his granddaughter she’s more like her grandmother -- who did drafting work in the '20s -- than Betty. "You can really do something," he tells Sally. "Don't let your mother tell you otherwise."

Again, Gene further encourages Peggy to be more self-sufficient. Something Betty clearly isn’t. Also, Gene’s reference to the ice cream smelling “like oranges” would seem to foreshadow his upcoming death (presumably by a stroke). Also, note the device associating oranges with doom as established in The Godfather and subsequently used in The Sopranos.

Over lunch with Don and Pete, Horace Junior says that he wants to become the father of jai alai in America. Don suggests he reevaluate his obsession, but Horace laughs off Don's advice as a sales technique to entice him. If jai alai fails, he tells Don, it will be Sterling Cooper's fault.

The start of this scene is framed in such a way as to show an egg being broken by the waiter in the foreground of the shot. This could suggest that Horace Jr., with Horace Sr. and Don’s help, is being hatched into the real world. It could also suggest that with “tough love,” the old bromide: “to make an omelet, one has to break some eggs” applies. The occasion causes Don to reflect back on his own step-father through old photographs. Note that in the shot of the picture Don contemplates, only his step-father is in sharp focus.

At the office, Joan critiques Peggy's roommate ad for being too stodgy. "This is about two young girls in Manhattan. This is about an adventure," Joan says, suggesting a more carefree approach.

As stated above, Joan helps Peggy reword her roommate ad to be a more effective promotion. Note that Joan’s Ibsen reference displays a sophistication her character that doesn’t always get the chance to demonstrate. Unfortunately, Peggy’s new ad is geared for the type of female that Joan represents.

The next day at work, Pete waves Horace Junior's signed contract at Don. In Burt Petersen’s old office, several of their colleagues are fumbling around with the jai alai equipment Horace Junior sent over. Don joins in and accidentally busts Cooper's ant farm. "Bill it to the kid," Don says.

After giving Horace Jr. two chances to reconsider, Don’s patience has clearly worn thin as he glibly orders the account team to start tapping into the youngster’s trust fund. Furthermore, as the ant farm represented how Lane Pryce viewed the employees at Sterling-Cooper, one can presume that its destruction with jai alai equipment bodes more distressing news for the office.

Karen Ericson, a prospective roommate, visits Peggy in her office. Everyone at Karen's travel agency loved Peggy's "humorous" ad. Karen thinks they'll hit it off.

This "arrangement" doesn't promise to be a successful one. Karen represents the old female construct that Peggy clearly is not. Karen wears a yellow dress as does the Ann-Margret look-a-like (another symbol for the “traditional” female role model) in the final Patio ad. Furthermore, Karen expresses a dislike for “sailors.” However, Peggy will later buy an “Admiral” television set for her mother.

Back at Sterling Cooper, Sal's Patio Cola ad fails to click with the client. He agrees the spot is exactly what was ordered, but it's nevertheless a failure.

While the client cannot explicitly describe what’s wrong, on a subconscious level there’s a sense that the old female construct “just isn’t right” anymore. There’s also an interesting non-verbal moment between Don and Peggy when they both realize that her approach was ultimately the correct one.

A policeman arrives at the Draper home. Gene has died.

When Don is informed about Gene's death, his secretary is wearing a green dress. Likewise, leading up to the scene with the policeman, Sally and Bobby are shown waiting for Gene surrounded by green shrubbery.

The police car arriving at the Draper house is green. The manner in which the uniformed policeman informs Peggy that her father died “in line at the A&P” is reminiscent of the sort of stock scenes from war movies when the families of soldiers who died “in the line of duty” are similarly informed.

Peggy delights her mother with a new television, but Mrs. Olson tells her to return it after Peggy drops the news she's moving to Manhattan. "You'll get raped. You know that," Mrs. Olson warns. Peggy mentions Karen, but her mother is convinced a man is involved. As Peggy leaves, her mother clicks on the TV.

Peggy and her mother are shown in the reflection of the Admiral television set almost as if they are “on” TV. This is paired later with Sally viewing a network newscast showing the now famous photo of a Vietnamese monk immolating himself in protest. Thus, further signaling the arrival of a new social paradigm traceable to the death of Gene.

Later, a grieving Sally has an emotional outburst. Betty castigates Sally by telling her that she’s being “hysterical.” Note Betty’s use of a traditionally pejorative term for female irrationality. On the television can be heard a quick sound clip of JFK discussing how it's important for children to reach their full potential.

That night Sally falls asleep clutching her grandfather's copy of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

The viewer is given another reminder of Gene’s connection to the “officially” fallen old empire of MM’s 1960’s universe. In their bedroom, Don wraps the sleeping Betty with a green top cover.

One final demonstration that a paradigm shift has occurred is shown in the last shot. When Gene first came to live with the Drapers, his cot sat next to a disassembled baby crib. At the end of TA, Don packs away Gene’s bed while standing next to the now fully assembled crib. The irony is that the arrival of this new worldview (and the chance for Sally to reach her full potential) wouldn't, in a sense, be possible without the passing of Gene (whose sacrifice once again earns him his "Victory" medal). Or, to put it another way, to make an omelet, one has to break some eggs.

Read more!