Friday, November 05, 2010

Brick, Click and Mortar

Casey Chan at Gizmodo describes a curious practice in New York that manages to infuse viral networking with the nervous anticipation of glory holes. ("glory hubs?")

Why Is There a USB Drive Sticking Out of This Wall?

Across New York, there are USB drives embedded in walls, buildings and curbs. The idea is to create an anonymous, offline file-sharing network in public space. The drives are completely public and anyone can plug in to drop and download files.

...It'd also be interesting to see what people would anonymously share on the public drive, well, until some jackass decides to upload a virus to screw up everybody's computer.

Read more!

Peace Rally?

Question: Which Washington, D.C. rally featured a religious extremist who once advocated the murder of an author and acts of violence against women?

a) Glenn Beck's "Rally to Restore America"
b) Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/ or Fear"

Answer: b. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) supported the fatwa against Salmon Rusdie and defended the practice of stoning women for adultry.

Read more!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Shark Jumping

In a Sept. 3 Los Angeles Times article, Fred Fox Jr., the writer of the infamous Happy Days episode where Fonzie jumps over a netted section of ocean containing a shark and inspired the "jump the shark" meme, addresses his dubious claim to fame in pop culture history.

Was the "Hollywood 3" episode of Happy Days deserving of its fate?

No, it wasn't. All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not Happy Days time. Consider: It was the 91st episode and the fifth season. If this was really the beginning of a downward spiral, why did the show stay on the air for six more seasons and shoot an additional 164 episodes? Why did we rank among the Top 25 in five of those six seasons?
I suppose that if you've heard of Wikipedia (or meme), you don't need anyone to explain what "jumping the shark" means, but according to Wikipedia:

[JTS] has become a colloquialism used by U.S. TV critics and fans to denote the point at which the characters or plot of a TV series veer into a ridiculous, out-of-the-ordinary storyline. Such a show is typically deemed to have passed its peak. Once a show has "jumped the shark" fans sense a noticeable decline in quality or feel the show has undergone too many changes to retain its original charm...
Interestingly, Wikipedia also describes a 1963 episode of Bonanza, "Hoss and the Leprechauns," in which Hoss meets a leprechaun. That episode coined the term "seeing the leprechaun" as a precursor to the "jumping the shark" phenomenon.

This led me to wonder if, perhaps out of sympathy for Mr. Fox, a new term to explain the dynamic could be adopted.

Full Post at Edward Copeland On Film...

Read more!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vox Pop

Interesting polling analysis from James Pethokouk at Reuters.

It's certainly fair game to argue about which economic and tax policy approaches work best. But those who would characterize the people currently disenchanted with the president and Congress as simply angry and self-deluded seem, to me, mostly angry and self-deluded.

A "few observations" from Pethokouk:
  1. Americans don’t blame Obama for the economy, but blame him for not fixing it — which is what he was hired to do. Mission Not Accomplished.

  2. The Obama agenda is unpopular, and Americans see it as a distraction from dealing with unemployment.

  3. Americans are worried about spending and deficits, but have not made the mental leap to restricting entitlements.

  4. Americans may not think government is necessarily the problem, but they are pretty sure it’s not the solution.

Read more!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Natural Selection (Mad Men 413)

A scene about half-way through "Tommorrowland," Mad Men's Season 4 finale, pointedly shows Bobby and Sally, on their California trip, having a heated "debate" in a restaurant about evolution. As with most spats between young siblings, things get heated and Sally knocks over her milkshake. At that moment, observing her calm response to the strawberry mess, Don seems to cement his choice of Megan over Faye. This illustrates a naturalistic (almost Darwinistic) motif that is developed throughout the episode.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses
Read more!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A New Way For Apps to Crash

Oh yeah, this is a great idea. In fact, they should just project the driver's Facebook page RIGHT on their windsheild.

From The Detroit News:

GM moves on with in-car Facebook app

Feds slam driving distraction, but firms say technology is legal, safe

General Motors Co. still plans to roll out its new OnStar feature that allows drivers to listen to Facebook messages and update their status, despite pointed criticism from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

OnStar President Chris Preuss said the company is confident in the safety of the feature after conducting driving tests and has no plans to drop it. The application can also be extended to other social networking sites like Twitter.

"Not only is it safe — all things relative in the vehicle — it's actually a benign activity," Preuss said.

Read more!

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Brand FAIL

The "Screenshot of the Week" is of Kieth Olbermann leaning backward in one of MSNBC's "Lean Forward" ads. The perennial cable news ratings loser calls their new re-branding effort the "biggest campaign in network history". (h/t Jon Stewart @The Daily Show)
Read more!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Potpourri (Mad Men 412)

I had planned to post about the plethora of numbers which were thrown into "Blowing Smoke." But as that's already been discussed in the comments for Deb's post from yesterday, I decided to change directions a bit. The result is this collection of eclectic observations.

Full Post at Basket of Kisses...
Read more!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Binary Day: Part 000010

Today's date is 101110 (binary for 46). Yesterday's date was 101010 (binary for 42). Coincidentally, 42 years ago saw the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

So, to honor an event that won't happen for another 100 years, here's the scene from that film where Dave turns the HAL 9000 computer OFF (another great "binary" moment).

Read more!

Friday, October 08, 2010

A Taxing Prospect

The "Screenshot of the Week" comes from an October 7th Wall St. Journal article titled: "Delays to Tax Tables May Dent Paychecks."

Basically, even though Congress could take time to hear Steven Colbert's "testimony" on illegal workers, the whistle blew before a vote on extending tax cuts could happpen. As the article points outs, this affects MORE than just the "rich."
Treasury officials' most obvious option is the least attractive. If they publish tables based on expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which occurs Jan. 1, millions of low- and middle-income taxpayers who have paid little or no income taxes for a decade would likely see increases in January. Prof. Graetz estimates that higher withholding could take up to $10 billion a month out workers' pockets due to higher tax rates alone.

Read more!

Latex Free (Mad Men 411)

Peggy's relationship with Abe Drexler marks a point of personal growth on her part which is conveyed through her work on the Playtex account. Whether it be Pete Campbell, Duck Phillips, or Mark Kerney, Peggy's past involvement with men has been characterized by a noticeable level of detachment on her part. For a variety of reasons, something has always kept her from being, as Megan might say, totally in the moment. Abe Drexler seems to have awakened for Peggy an awareness of new feelings.

The Playtex campaign in "Chinese Wall" revolves around "touch" while Peggy and Abe's encounters are pointedly characterized by touching. Abe brushes sand off Peggy's arm in the car. Peggy runs her hands down Abe's back the next morning. And just as the women depicted in the Playtex ads take off their gloves to experience sensuous things, Abe seems to have allowed Peggy to take down emotional barriers which have hampered her previous relationships.

Read more!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Original G: (Spartacus)

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus. The 1960 epic set in ancient Rome boasts an all-star cast led by Kirk Douglas and includes: Tony Curtis, Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Jean Simmons and John Gavin. Kubrick was called in to direct replacing Anthony Mann when creative differences with Douglas (who also was producing) caused him to be removed from the project. This may certainly explain why Spartacus doesn’t seem like a traditional Kubrick film. Unlike Kubrick’s other efforts (especially his later films) which tend to observe characters from a dispassionate distance, in Spartacus there's a stronger feeling of being ensconced in the narrative.

Full Post at Edward Copeland On Film...
Read more!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Closing Time (Mad Men 411)

Because I teach business courses part-time, I often watch Mad Men and imagine how I'd apply marketing concepts discussed in class to a particular episode. It's been difficult to do this in Season 4. At the risk of splitting hairs, Mad Men takes place in an ad agency, but it's not necessarily about an ad agency. Certainly, the writers do their homework and Men Men gets the advertising stuff more right than, say, Star Trek's regular disregard for the laws of the physics. But, episodes like "The Wheel" — a textbook example of how to sell a product's benefits (sizzle) rather than its features (steak) — have taken a backseat to the development of character-driven storylines. I'm just humbly pointing this out, not complaining.

That said, "Chinese Wall" could be screened in a "Techniques of Selling" class. The different sales calls it depicts are worthy of an academic discussion. One question I'd assign the class to consider while watching it would be:

How would you rank the salespeople depicted in this episode?

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses

Read more!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Licence to Pan (Mad Men 410)

When he surprises his daughter Sally with Beatles tickets in "Hands and Knees," Don Draper quips that he'll be wearing earplugs to the concert. Coincidentally, James Bond, another fictional 60's character had the same reaction to the "Fab Four."

In Goldfinger, 007 (Sean Connery) is assigned to observe international smuggler Auric Goldfinger. Bond (being Bond) has a tryst in Miami Beach with one of Goldfinger's sexy employees, Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton). At one point, he abruptly leaves the bed they're sharing to fetch another bottle of champagne after the first one loses "its chill." When the soon to be gilded Masterson playfully protests the interruption, the secret agent/gourmand explains:

My dear girl there are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Pérignon '53 above a temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!

Read more!

Step One: Don't Buy It

Did Christopher L. Hoyt, the author of How To Raise Your Daughter Without Reading A Book: One Dad's Rules to Live By, realize the irony of its title?

The editor?

Anyone involved in its publication?

I guess not.
Read more!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Worlds Collide

Tony Curtis passes away on the same day that the Flintstones turn 50. The "Stoney Curtis" episode is one I still remember from childhood.

Read more!

Use The Glasses Luke

I'm calling it. George Lucas is "officially" trying to milk us.

From MTV (bold added):

'Star Wars' Series To Be Re-Released In 3-D

George Lucas plans to roll out converted films one at a time, beginning with 'Phantom Menace' in 2012.

...Lucas' famed Industrial Light & Magic special-effects shop will oversee the 3-D conversion. Considering the flack some filmmakers have received for converting to 3-D after the fact to ill effect, Lucas promised in a press release that the greatest care will be taken not to tarnish the "Star Wars" legend.

Too late.
Read more!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Windows to the Soul?

The unfortunate "demon" picture taken of Hillary Clinton is the inspiration for the "Screenshot of the Week."

Caption this photo. Some intials suggestions include:
  1. Merrin. Send us Merrin!
  2. I must think of a brick wall... a brick wall... brick wall...
  3. You're next, YOU'RE NEXT!
  4. 'Cause this is thriller, thriller night.

Read more!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Facades (Mad Men 410)

A recurring device used in "Hands and Knees" has characters putting on performances for the benefit of others upon exiting private personal conversations. While this device is overtly employed throughout the episode, the last occurrence of it is perhaps the most subtle and interesting.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses.
Read more!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Let's Do The Time Warp Again!

Edward Copeland takes us on a "strange journey" as he celebrates the 35th anniversary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with an eclectic collection of anecdotes (including one from yours truly).

I propose a toast!
Read more!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Out of Sight, Out of Mind? (Mad Men 409)

When Joan and Roger are robbed at gunpoint by an African American in "The Beautiful Girls," they deliberately avoid making eye contact. Roger hopes that by not looking at the criminal, the two represent less of a threat (i.e. they won't be prosecution witnesses later on) and avoid an escalation of violence.

Interestingly, that posture also mirrors Mad Men's use of minorities in Season 4. Nine episodes in and the audience has seen very few black characters. In fact, they've had less an impact on the storylines than previously. Matt Zoller Seitz, a critic and Mad Men fan, touches on this in his recap of "The Beautiful Girl" for The New Republic. He ponders if rather than civil rights in general, women's rights are "the show's true interest" this season.
The only black characters on this show have been domestics and elevator operators—and now a mugger. Even if you take the show’s upper-middle-class white milieu into account, the arms-length respect paid to African American sacrifice feels like an evasion posing as an acknowledgment. The topic is so rich, and still so emotionally powerful, that treating it as a looming presence and nothing more is dramatically risky. Whatever “Mad Men” is doing here, it had better pay off.
He (nor I, for that matter) question the motives of Matt Weiner and company in taking this approach. Nonetheless, it's a choice worth noting.
Read more!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Narrative Panache: Game Change

Respected historian Stephen Ambrose liked to tell an anecdote about having been contacted by President Eisenhower to write his biography. However, as reported by Richard Rayner in a New Yorker article, such a request probably never took place. John Eisenhower, son of the late president, said that Ambrose had a "tendency to sacrifice fact to narrative panache."

One of my favorite contemporary "nonfiction" authors, Bob Woodward, writes in a style that often reads like a novel. More than a few people have questioned the veracity of Woodward's reporting. Still, at the end of the day, I can walk away from a work by Ambrose or Woodward feeling that I was given a fair and accurate telling of history.

Not so much the case with this year's Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Heilemann and Halperin's previous effort, The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008, was more political analysis than reportage. So, one could forgive the subjective musings which were freely mixed in with factual content. However, Game Change is a purported to be a chronicle of events leading up to Barack Obama's victory over John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Thus, I held the duo to a different standard in terms of accuracy.

...Full Post at Edward Copeland on Film
Read more!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moscow? Are You Sure?

Here's the first entry in my new "Screenshot of the Week" feature (hopefully I'll keep it going).

It's an unintentionally funny shot from my SECOND favorite accidental nuclear accident movie, 1964's "Fail-Safe." It's good (very good) for 1964. But, it certainly hasn't aged anywhere near as well as "Dr. Strangelove" (also 1964) which feels like it could have been made yesterday. And as last lines go, "Mein Führer! I can walk" after the doomsday device goes off is a million times better than the pilot in "Fail-Safe" ranting "I'm the matador!" as he bombs New York.

The shot above is from the scene in "Fail-Safe" where the pilot opens his bombing instructions after accidentally getting the "go" order. In typical Hollywood fashion, instead of charts, maps or other particulars, we simply see an envelope with "MOSCOW" printed on it.

I submit that Copperplate Gothic Black would have been a much more frightening font.
Read more!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

By The Numbers

Tonight the premiere episode of "Detroit 1-8-7" airs on ABC. So, I finally decided to figure out what the hell "187" meant. It didn't correspond to anything local I could put my finger on. To my surprise it actually refers to the section of California legal code dealing with homicide.

California legal code?

Jeez. Why have a West Coast term as the basis for the title of a show touted in promtional ads as "Made in Detroit?" After doing a little more digging, I discovered that "187" supposedly has become urban slang for "murder" (as "5-0" is for "police").

Okay, I guess I get it. But, I'm still not sold. To me, it still sorta rings false, -- like "Ford Camaro."

Chad Halcom had a great take on it in Crain's Detroit Business:
Maybe 'Detroit 7-5-0' didn't test well

...the Michigan statute, which presumably our stalwart detective protagonists will be enforcing this fall season, is actually MCL 750.316 et seq.

There is no Chapter 187 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, although three of the most commonly cited “Act 187” statutes here address pest control (P.A. 187 of 1965, MCL 286.501), the proper qualifications of school bus drivers (P.A. 187 of 1990, MCL 257.1801) or the proper wording and form that mortgages, warranty deeds and quit claim deeds must take (Act 187 of 1881, MCL 565.151).

Read more!

Do NOT Come Out of There (Mad Men 409)

Miss Blankenship's improved vision after eye surgery was a metaphor for Don's increased awareness of the world around him in "The Summer Man." Her "health" is again used as a motif in the aptly titled "The Beautiful Girls." Similar to how the death of Gene (fascinated by the fall of the Roman Empire) signaled that change would be coming last season, Blankenship's death seems to denote the start of a shifting of mores for women.

I don't think it's an accident that right after Peggy sees Blankenship's head hit the desk, she runs into Don's office to find Sally sitting in his chair. "Do NOT come out of there," Peggy tells Sally. This is ostensibly to spare the young girl from seeing the macabre scene outside. However, on a symbolic level, I'd argue that it also represents Peggy's glimpse at a world where women hold positions of power formerly reserved for men.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses
Read more!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Trick Question

According to The Daily Beast, which of these college campuses is the safest?
a) Harvard
b) Stanford
c) University of Michigan
d) Wayne State

Answer: My alma mater Wayne State University in DETROIT! Go Warriors!!

3. Harvard University - Cambridge, Massachusetts
Total enrollment: 27,651
Murders: 1
Negligent Homicides: 0
Forcible Rapes: 128
Non-forcible Rapes: 0
Robberies: 151
Aggravated Assaults: 170
Burglaries: 909
Car Thefts: 157
Arsons: 1

20. Stanford University - Palo Alto, California
Total enrollment: 18,498
Murders: 0
Negligent Homicides: 0
Forcible Rapes: 34
Non-forcible Rapes: 2
Robberies: 14
Aggravated Assaults: 36
Burglaries: 466
Car Thefts: 136
Arsons: 14

23. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor - Ann Arbor, Michigan
Total enrollment: 41,674
Murders: 20
Negligent Homicides: 0
Forcible Rapes: N/A
Non-forcible Rapes: N/A
Robberies: 249
Aggravated Assaults: 675
Burglaries: 115
Car Thefts: 142
Arsons: 100

32. Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
Total enrollment: 31,786
Murders: 0
Negligent Homicides: 0
Forcible Rapes: 20
Non-forcible Rapes: 0
Robberies: 113
Aggravated Assaults: 23
Burglaries: 167
Car Thefts: 384
Arsons: 3

Read more!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Amazing Grace (Mad Men 408)

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
"Amazing Grace," John Newton
A very pointed use of metaphor in "The Summer Man," has Miss Blankenship wearing dark glasses after eye surgery. Quoting from "Amazing Grace," John Newton's famous hymn partly inspired by the biblical story of a blind beggar (New Testament hobo) who regains his vision, Blankenship tells Don that she once was blind, but now can see.

The central storyline of "The Summer Man" involves Don's efforts to get his life back on track after seeing what he has become.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses.
Read more!

The Dolly Zoom Effect (Mad Men 408)

I previously posted a comparison between Don's state of mind in Season 4 to "Scotty" Ferguson's (Jimmy Stewart) in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.

In Vertigo, Hitchcock visually depicted the unsteadiness caused by Ferguson's condition through the use of what's now known as the "dolly zoom" effect. A camera is rolled in one direction while the zoom level is adjusted in the opposite direction. Steven Spielberg also famously used the technique to show Sheriff Brody's reaction after a brutal shark attack in Jaws.

Geek that I am, I bring up this esoterica because one particular shot in "The Summer Man" employs the effect as well. During the Mountain Dew creative meeting, a dolly zoom occurs as Don experiences a momentary anxiety attack.

Vertigo's Dolly Zoom effect (at 2:05 and 2:15 of clip):

Read more!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Viral Gonads

This Axe YouTube "infomercial" had me in stitches.

Read more!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Just Do It (Mad Men 407)

Don's rejection of Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali in "The Suitcase" reflects more than the simple bigotry exhibited by Miss Blankenship. There's no denying that the dislike for Ali felt by many whites had a racial component to it. However, I think in the context of the episode, the boxing champion who, like Don, reinvented himself by changing his name hits too close to home (Don bets against Ali right after Stan remarks that "Clay would make one hell of an ad man").

It's noteworthy that the other sports legend rejected by Don is Joe Namath.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses.
Read more!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Yeah, and "Waterworld" Didn't Suck Either

Fred Fox, Jr.'s LA Times article defending the script he wrote for the infamous Happy Days episode is the first item listed in a brand new website called: ""

First Person: In defense of 'Happy Days' ' 'Jump the Shark' episode

Contrary to pop culture belief, when Fonzie jumped the shark, it hardly marked the demise of the show.

...Thus was born an expression that would quickly make its way into the pop culture mainstream, defined by Hein as "a moment. A defining moment when you know from now on … it's all downhill … it will never be the same." If I had been in the room, however, I would have broken that silence of self-assuredness, for I wrote that now infamous episode of "Happy Days."

And more than three decades later, I still don't believe that the series "jumped the shark" when Fonzie jumped the shark.

Read more!

Pack Up Your Troubles (Mad Men 407)

As much as I hate forced comparisons between Mad Men and Matthew Weiner's previous television hit The Sopranos, one element of "The Suitcase" is worthy of such consideration. Specifically, the suitcase motif parallels a similar use of the device in "Mayhem" from the last season of The Sopranos.

In "Mayhem," Tony, on the brink of death, has a coma induced dream (which could be interpreted as an actual supernatural experience) where he takes on the identity of Kevin Finnerty ("infinity"). During the last part of the "dream" sequence, when he is just about to surrender to death, another character in the vision tries to take Finnerty's briefcase. Tony/Kevin protests and, clinging to the case, explains that his entire life is held within it.

This theme is something that has certainly been explored in Mad Men as well.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses
Read more!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Can You Still Key a Car with a Smart Key?

Car key technology has come a long way from the days when keys were "little more than a ground sheet metal blank."

According to Dave Proefke, who led one of GM's development teams, their new smart key “does a lot of thinking for you. It tries to determine your intended action and perform that action for you.”

Hmmmm... that's progress I suppose. But why does this make me feel so paranoid?

From The Detroit Bureau:

A Car Key That Thinks For You

...A new “smart” key that will be introduced with the 2011 Buick LaCrosse is designed, among other things, to prevent accidental lock-outs, an unfortunately common occurrence and one of the most common reasons why owners of GM vehicles call OnStar, which can remotely unlock car doors for subscribers.

Read more!

Insult to Injury (Mad Men 406)

In their heyday, the "Rat Pack" had a running gag where Dean Martin would pick up the diminutive Sammy Davis, Jr. and drolly "thank the NAACP" for presenting him with an award. I detected a variation of that joke going on at the end of "Waldorf Stories." All throughout the episode, Peggy is clearly miffed at being shut-out of the accolades for the SCDP's successful Glo-Coat spot. She feels that her efforts were part of the reason it won a Clio award. Because the process of creating the ad happened off-screen, it's difficult to say for certain whether Peggy's indignation is righteous or not. In any event, the small trophy Stan Rizzo had for her offered little consolation.

So, imagine the double indignity Peggy must have felt when Don palms Danny Siegel off on her. "Take him to Joan," an irritated Don tells Peggy. Because of his alcohol induced screw up during the Life campaign presentation, the small-sized Siegel is Don's memento of a not-so-great accomplishment. However, this time Don has no trouble sharing his "award" with Peggy.

Be careful of what you wish for, you may just get it.
Read more!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Pop Quiz

Which of the following could be described as "predominantly white?"
a) MSNBC's primetime lineup
b) The casts of this year's Emmy winning television shows
c) The crowd at Glenn Beck's rally
d) The population of the United States
e) All of the above.

Read more!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Free At Last (Mad Men 406)

I had previously posted that the Glo-Coat television ad shown in "Public Relations," Mad Men's season opener, represented Don's perception of his life. The boy, a proxy for Don, was "imprisoned" by his domestically inclined mother (Betty).

This idea is continued at the Clios banquet depicted in "Waldorf Stories." Don comes up to the podium to accept an award for the ad. He then victoriously trots past a screen running the Glo-Coat spot for the audience. At that moment, we see the mother in the ad "releasing" the boy from his kitchen table prison. The timing as Don runs across the shot just as the housewife pulls back the chair seems intentional. The resulting visual effect is of Don being set free just like the boy.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses.
Read more!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Photo Finish

The best part of this article are the comments it's generating. People are discussing whether or not "the explosive ring" emanating from the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope matches "the position of the equitorial (sp) trench."

From Neatorama:
Astronomer: Star Wars Explosion More Realistic Than Star Trek Explosion

On the left, you can see the destruction of Praxis, the moon of the Klingon homeworld. It blows up in the beginning of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. On the right, you can see the end Death Star from the 1997 re-release Star Wars: A New Hope. One astronomer, Phil Plait, argues that the rings appearing in both explosions show a poor understanding of physics, but the one appearing in Star Wars is somewhat more plausible.

Read more!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Incendiary (Mad Men 405)

One quick bit of business in "The Chrysanthemum and The Sword" has Sally and Bobby watching television as Don dresses for his date with Bethany. On the air, a news anchor covering the murder of Unitarian minister and civil rights advocate James Reeb reports the following (emphasis added):

The body of the 38 year old Unitarian minister was cremated within an hour of his death last night.
The shot then cuts to the kids and Sally's quick, yet discernable, reaction to the news. This is noteworthy in that it harkens back to a moment from Season 3's "The Arrangements" where Sally, distraught by the death her grandfather and again watching the news, sees a televised report about a Vietnamese monk immolating himself in protest. Clearly, Sally's feelings of abandonment by Don (the new bachelor) are similiar to those she felt after the death of Gene.

The use of fire as a motif is not uncommon for Mad Men.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses.
Read more!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Demand a Recount

Apparently a rolling stone can gather moss as evidenced by Rolling Stone Magazine's questionable decision to put "A Day in the Life" at the very top of their 100 "Greatest" Beatles songs list.

Rolling Stone’s Top 10 are:
  1. “A Day in the Life”
  2. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
  3. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
  4. “Yesterday”
  5. “In My Life”
  6. “Something”
  7. “Hey Jude”
  8. “Let it Be”
  9. “Come Together”
  10. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

IMHO, the fact that "Help" and "Hard Day's Night" didn't make the top 10 invalidates the entire list for me.

From ABC News:

A lot of pleasure and some questions, [but] the No. 1 surprised people the most,” said John Dioso, deputy managing editor for Rolling Stone and editor of the Beatles’ edition, when asked what the feedback has been on the issue so far. “People are entitled to their opinion, which is the fun part about doing these lists. But at the end of the day, it’s a very subjective list.”

Dioso said it took as many as four weeks for staff members to compile their lists of the greatest songs, which were then considered for the final issue. After weeding out certain requests, the group ranked the remaining songs based on criteria such as musical innovation and historical importance.

Read more!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Puzzles (Mad Men 405)

The opening shot of "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" shows Miss Blankenship doing a New York Times crossword puzzle (in pen, no less). I painstakingly listed the words in the squares she had filled in thinking they may somehow relate to the storyline.
  • leaks
  • bores
  • plans
  • cars
  • dogs
  • glee
  • burt
  • utah (I think)
  • tired

Given time, I suppose I could somehow tie most of them to the narrative. For instance, Don comes up with a "plan" to stage "leaks" which, to their "glee," results in SCDP winning a promise from Honda to promote their "cars."

However, I think the crossword puzzle is better viewed as a symbolic template upon which much of the action takes place. Like doing a puzzle, the characters in "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" find themselves forced to use incomplete (and often confusing) information to map out their next move.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses

Read more!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fahrenheit Four-Fifty-FUN!

Because "Fuck Me, Harlan Ellison" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Read more!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Polar Opposites (Mad Men 404)

An area of character development established in “The Rejected” is the idea that Peggy and Pete are beginning to follow diverging cultural paths. A device that drives this point home and links their storylines is the use of two different poles in the set design. While the window motif taken from the focus group scene (discussed in my previous post) allows characters to see aspects of others more clearly, the pole blocks their view thus creating uncertainly and discomfort. It's interesting how Pete and Peggy deal with their respective impediments.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses
Read more!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Pain of Glass (Mad Men 404)

One thing that struck me about "The Rejected" is how the focus group motif is used in a number of different places. Of course, the actual Pond's focus group moderated by Dr. Faye Miller is the centerpiece of the episode. At this event, Allison, one of the participants, has an emotional melt-down in the aftermath of her sexual encounter with a now distant Don. Don nervously watches Allison's reactions as the group dynamic plays out. And while Allison can't really see Don, she is quite aware of him through the glass partition which divides the watchers from the watched.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses.
Read more!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dream On

RIP Elvis (he died 33 years ago today). Yeah, he spiraled into a pathetic self-parody at the end. But if there's a better LIVE performance of a song than this one, I can't think of it.

Read more!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Critic's Corner (Mad Men 403)

As part of Don and Lane's "distraction" in "The Good News," the duo heckle the screen at a showing of Gamera. This got me to thinking that a great spin-off for Mad Men could be a movie review show based on Mystery Science Theater 3000 called "Mad Men Flask Theatre 1965." In it, a drunk Don and Lane would provide esoteric pop-culture references to the period flicks they pan.

But seriously, one of the things I noticed about the movie list Don and Lane have to choose from is that each of them arguably parallels Lane's storyline in the episode (about being a stranger in a strange land and the toll it's taking on his marriage). Send No Flowers, of course, is a direct reference to Sandy's flower order mix-up. But the others seem pointedly related to him as well.

...Full Post at Basket of Kisses.
Read more!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dick + Anna '64 (Mad Men 403)

Don painting over a water-stained wall in Anna’s house is a device used in “The Good News” to advance the storyline of his visit to California and (apparently) close that chapter of his life. Ostensibly, the discoloration is the result of a leaky roof. Anna tells Don that she has fixed the roof but not gotten around to removing the stain.

The morning after finding out that Anna is dying, Don starts to paint over the stain. Anna correctly points out that covering just that small corner, rather than the entire room, with fresh paint isn’t really going to solve the problem (the newer paint won't completely match). However, the act serves both as a metaphor for Don’s feelings of helplessness in dealing with Anna’s illness as well his coming to terms (albeit perhaps temporarily) with his former identity

Full post at Basket of Kisses...
Read more!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Maalox Moment (Mad Men 402)

There's a lot of discussion regarding Lee Garner, Jr.'s shameless bullying of Roger Sterling in "Christmas Comes But Once a Year." But I'll add my own two cents anyway. Roger strongly encourages Joan to wear her sexy red dress with "the bow on the back" because he thinks it will appease S-C-D-P's biggest account. So, there's poetic justice later when Lee forces ROGER to put on a red outfit.

And am I the only one who cringed a little when Joan tells Roger to wipe his mouth after an overly submissive phone conversation with Lee Garner Jr? Instead of kissing his rear end, I got the distinct impression that Roger serviced a different portion of the Lucky Strike heir's anatomy.

On the other hand, to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, sometimes Maalox is just an antacid.

Read more!

You Get What You Pay For: Paid Search Marketing

According to a study by DoubleClick, 41 percent of US customers used search engines to research a purchase. Only 10 percent used a print ad and 9 percent a TV ad. So, effectively using search engines is clearly an important element of modern product marketing.

Simple free search engine listings (also known as "organic rankings") can take a long while to percolate and generate the desired web traffic.

Paid search marketing, such as pay per click (PPC) or cost per click (CPC) advertising, is a more proactive approach to driving customers to websites. It leverages the three major paid search programs; Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and MSN AdCenter. Typically, queries entered into the “big three” search engines yield a variety of results including: articles, websites and relevant documents along with so-called “sponsored links” placed at various places on the page.

A paid search advertising program lets businesses bid on certain key phrases or create targeted ads which yield more favorable search results and increase the likelihood that customers will click over to a given website.

Read more!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Uh, Never Mind

Make of this what you will, but the BP "disaster" may be turning into another "killer bees" story.

A June 2, 2010 New York Times editorial said, "The spill, the worst in United States history and growing more damaging by the day, cries out for accountability and appropriate punishment."

Today, the New York Times reports:

U.S. Finds Most Oil From Spill Poses Little Additional Risk

WASHINGTON — The government is expected to announce on Wednesday that three-quarters of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak has already evaporated, dispersed, been captured or otherwise eliminated — and that much of the rest is so diluted that it does not seem to pose much additional risk of harm.

I'm just saying...
Read more!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Vertigo (Mad Men 402)

When Mad Men’s promo poster was released in June, there was much speculation about what it may have been hinting at for Season 4. For instance, TV Guide noted that the image could represent Don Draper’s fresh start as a single man in a new ad agency. After Don embraced the role of de facto figurehead for S-C-D-P at the end of “Public Relations,” I thought the poster was highlighting the fact that the fledgling company had pinned all its hopes on HIM. I realize it’s still too early to predict anything with certainty, but after watching “Christmas Comes But Once a Year,” I’m struck by notion that the poster might actually foreshawdow a Season 4 storyline about Don Draper standing on the precipice of an emotional abyss. Allison’s exclamation that she “feels dizzy” while succumbing to Don’s sexual advances, evoked in my mind a similar motif developed in another story about a man on a ledge, Alfred Hitchcock’s "Vertigo."

Full post at Basket of Kisses...
Read more!