kottke.org posts about Mad Men

True Detective: it was okApr 02 2014

Now that I've caught up on True Detective, I have to agree with Emily Nussbaum's take on the show and finale: a stylish well-acted show with a "hollow center".

To state the obvious: while the male detectives of "True Detective" are avenging women and children, and bro-bonding over "crazy pussy," every live woman they meet is paper-thin. Wives and sluts and daughters -- none with any interior life. Instead of an ensemble, "True Detective" has just two characters, the family-man adulterer Marty, who seems like a real and flawed person (and a reasonably interesting asshole, in Harrelson's strong performance), and Rust, who is a macho fantasy straight out of Carlos Castaneda. A sinewy weirdo with a tragic past, Rust delivers arias of philosophy, a mash-up of Nietzsche, Lovecraft, and the nihilist horror writer Thomas Ligotti. At first, this buddy pairing seems like a funky dialectic: when Rust rants, Marty rolls his eyes. But, six episodes in, I've come to suspect that the show is dead serious about this dude. Rust is a heretic with a heart of gold. He's our fetish object -- the cop who keeps digging when everyone ignores the truth, the action hero who rescues children in the midst of violent chaos, the outsider with painful secrets and harsh truths and nice arms. McConaughey gives an exciting performance (in Grantland, Andy Greenwald aptly called him "a rubber band wrapped tight around a razor blade"), but his rap is premium baloney. And everyone around these cops, male or female, is a dark-drama cliche, from the coked-up dealers and the sinister preachers to that curvy corpse in her antlers. "True Detective" has some tangy dialogue ("You are the Michael Jordan of being a son of a bitch") and it can whip up an ominous atmosphere, rippling with hints of psychedelia, but these strengths finally dissipate, because it's so solipsistically focussed on the phony duet.

I enjoyed the show and am seated in the McConaissance cheering section, but True Detective is far from TV's best thing evar. And Nussbaum hits the nail right on the head: the lack of good women characters is to blame.

Something I've noticed about my favorite TV shows: they are mostly testosterone fests where the women are more interesting than the men. Mad Men is the perfect example. Game of Thrones is another. And Six Feet Under. Even in Deadwood, which I am rewatching now and is loads better than True Detective, women more than hold their own against the men. It's fun to watch the men on these series generate bullshit, but it's much more interesting to watch the great actresses who play these women navigate and elevate through the predictable male privilege.

"It's toasted"Jan 22 2014

Looks like Don Draper may have contributed to Lucky Strike's recent sales increase.

While the claim that Mad Men could have driven a nearly 50% (representing an additional 10 billion cigarettes) increase in Lucky Strike sounds like typical advertising puffery, it's hard to pin down another driver. Lucky Strike did launch new flavors, update packaging and launch "capsule" cigarettes in the five years since Mad Men premiered, but so too did its competitors. The only new country the brand entered was Turkey -- and that wasn't until 2011. Even if one excluded all capsule (2010- ) and "All Natural" (2011-) cigarette sales (which would have been predominantly cannibalized, rather than net new), Lucky Strike would still have grown 12% between 2007 and 2012, five times faster than the industry overall and eight times British American Tobacco (the owner of Lucky Strike). Could it really have been Don Draper?

Sales of Canadian Club whiskey have turned around since Mad Men started as well. (via nextdraft)

Ken Crosgrove dancing + Daft PunkMay 23 2013

[SORTA MAD MEN SPOILERS! but not really] I don't know if Ken Crosgrove dancing on the latest episode of Mad Men is the best thing that's ever been on the show, but it's definitely in the top 10. And it might be even better with a little Daft Punk.

And it might be best with the Crazy in Love cover from Gatsby...just load up that this YT video while watching the animated GIF and you're all set. (This is how Millennials watch TV, BTW...it's all animated GIFs with YouTube video soundtracks. Civilization is gonna be juuuuuuust fine.)

Advertising from the Mad Men eraMar 19 2013

If the advertising parts of Mad Men are your favorite bits of the show, might I recommend Taschen's two-volume Mid-Century Ads (on Amazon).

VW Think Small

It's a beautiful set of books, tons of ads from the 50s and 60s presented in large format.

Tired TV tropes toppling hypothesizes Heather HavrileskyJul 31 2012

Writing for The Awl, Heather Havrilesky (who you may remember from Suck) highlights three stereotypical TV characters (The Hapless Dad, The Friend, and The Wise Old Professional) and characters on three current shows (Louie, Girls, and Mad Men) that cut right through that bullshit.

Because on "Girls," not only is The Friend (Hannah, played by Dunham) not all that insecure (relatively speaking), but she also has more swagger and courage and heart than The Hot One (Marnie) and The Other Hot One (Jessa) and The Sort of Hot One (Shoshanna) put together. Instead of whining and weeping snottily into her hands the way The Friend would do on any other television show, Hannah gets naked and refuses to exercise but realizes that she is exactly 13 pounds overweight (this isn't some fantasyland, after all, except for the trust funds and bad Fu Manchus). Hannah has lots of not-very-great sex. She's sometimes timid and confused, sure, but she's brave enough to state her feelings to people directly. She's self-possessed. But most importantly, she is not preoccupied with not being The Hot One. She wears clothing that doesn't compliment her body. She doesn't appear to brush her hair regularly. She doesn't have to, because she doesn't believe that there is some center of the universe located somewhere other than where she is, and she'll only get there if her hair is brushed. No. She can simply exist and do what regular people do: Eat, worry, sleep late, roll her eyes, fall on her face.

I'm gonna come out and say that I really liked Girls, due in large part (I'm realizing now) to Hannah's (and Adam's and Ray's) directness and self-possession.

Hunting for anachronisms in Mad Men and Downton AbbeyMay 14 2012

Prochronism analyzes word usage in shows like Mad Men and Downton Abbey to hunt down anachronisms...like "a callback for" and "pay phone" from a recent episode of Mad Men.

Prochronism

The big one from the charts: Megan gets "a callback for" an audition. This is, the data says, a candidate for the worst anachronism of the season. The word "callback" is about 100x more common by the 1990s, and "callback for" is even worse. The OED doesn't have any examples of a theater-oriented use of "callback" until the 1970s; although I bet one could find some examples somewhere earlier in the New York theater scene, that may not save it. It wouldn't really suite Megan's generally dilettantish attitude towards the theater, or the office staff's lack of knowledge of it, for them to be so au courant. "call-back" and "call back" don't seem much more likely.

(via waxy)

Mad Men, the BitTorrent episodeApr 20 2012

This is an episode of Mad Men, incompletely downloaded from BitTorrent.

The video captures an episode of the popular TV show in the act of being shared by thousands of users on bittorent. The video simultaneously acts as a visualisation of bittorrent traffic and the practice of filesharing and is an aesthetically beautiful by product of the bittorrent process as the pieces of the original file are rearranged and reconfigured into a new transitory in-between state.

(via waxy)

Thanks, AaronMar 26 2012

Many thanks to Aaron Cohen for holding down the fort here at kottke.org for the past week. You should check out the Mad Men recap he did for last night's episode, complete with an illustration from Chris Piascik (prints and t-shirts available).

Love Pickle Guts

You can also find Aaron at the helm of 2012 Boston Bacon and Beer Festival...tickets go on sale soon.

Mad Men comingMar 23 2012

Season 5 of Mad Men starts on Sunday. It's been on hiatus for 12 years, and it might be hard to remember season 4 without some of the Mad Men related info linked below. With such a long break, there's been quite a bit of Mad Men news floating around. In order to cut it down a little, most of this stuff is from the last week or so. Don't try to eat it all in one sitting you'll get a stomach ache and have to sleep off your hangover on your office couch.

-Here's where we left off in Season 4.

-Everything Don Draper Said in Season 4.

-Although, Matthew Weiner has asked reviewers with advanced copies of Sunday's premier not to discuss key details in their previews, such as the year this season takes place, Weiner is changing a song featured in the episode because it wasn't released until 6 months after the episode takes place. 'Look of Love' was released at the beginning of 1967 placing the episode in, or around, the summer of 1966. This is about a year after Season 4 ended. Maybe this is subterfuge?

-George Lois is still mad.

-Newsweek recently had an issue celebrating the return of Mad Men where the ads were all retro. Here are all those ads.

-The psychotherapist who consulted on Mad Men's development talks about why the characters feel so real.

-Some (spoiler free) previews of what to expect on Sunday.

Imagine if Mad Men was a Nintendo game...

Mad Men season five fashion predictionsJan 31 2012

Over at Sew Weekly, Mena Trott predicts what some of the characters will be wearing in the coming season of Mad Men.

Oh, Betty. For years, she has been immaculately dressed and presented as the facade of the perfect 1950s/1960s wife. With her cinched waists and billowing skirts, she's held onto late 1950s and early 1960s fashion the longest. In season four, she's married to the anti-Don, the boring Henry Francis and is getting a little too familiar with the bottle. When you're married to Henry Francis, you just don't care any more. That should be embroidered on a pillow.

Don Draper, 1927-2011?Nov 15 2011

In a recent interview reported over at Grantland, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner talked about how Man Men will end in its seventh season.

"I do know how the whole show ends," he told us. "It came to me in the middle of last season. I always felt like it would be the experience of human life. And human life has a destination. It doesn't mean Don's gonna die. What I'm looking for, and how I hope to end the show, is like ... It's 2011. Don Draper would be 84 right now. I want to leave the show in a place where you have an idea of what it meant and how it's related to you."

Don Draper pitches Facebook TimelineSep 27 2011

This is just flat-out fantastic.

(via ★interesting)

What would Don Draper do?Jul 08 2011

A flowchart from The Oatmeal on what Don Draper might do when confronted with a problem.

What would Don Draper do?

(thx, toni)

Mad Men season five is a goJun 23 2011

Everyone has shaken hands with everyone else, so Mad Men season five can finally happen. But here's the part you're not going to like...the new episodes won't air until March 2012.

Mad Men season four on Blu-ray/DVDApr 05 2011

With the next new season of Mad Men delayed, you'll have to make do with the recently released season four Blu-ray and DVD to get your fix.

Mad Men season five delayedMar 22 2011

There's currently no deal in place for the show, which probably means we won't get to see the next season until late 2011 or early 2012 (instead of this summer).

People involved in the talks suggested this week that one or both deals may be imminent, but that may not be enough to ensure a summer start. Todd Gold, the editor in chief of XfinityTV.com, Comcast's television news site, said it was becoming clear that the show was "right on the cusp of going one way or the other."

"By now, the writing staff should be humming along, maybe about a month or more into work for a summer premiere," he said. "Unless Weiner is secretly manufacturing outlines in preparation of some crazy all-night writing sessions with his staff, it might be time for fans to grow concerned."

Marlo Stanfield is chaotic evilDec 09 2010

Here are a few characters from The Wire categorized by their Dungeons and Dragons alignment (good/neutral/evil and lawful/neutral/chaotic).

The Wire Dungeons and Dragons

There are a few more alignment charts from the same source, including a Mad Men chart with Betty Draper as chaotic evil (justification). (via @juliandibbell)

Mad Men seasons 1-3 for only $10 eachNov 25 2010

Holy cow! Amazon has the first three seasons of Mad Men on sale for $9.99 each, DVDs or Blu-ray.

Oh, and I also noticed Kitchen-Aid's professional 6-quart mixer on sale for $250 after rebate...that's 50% off the regular price.

The Hour, Britain's Mad Men?Nov 17 2010

Dominic West, who starred as McNutty in The Wire, will play the lead character in a six-part BBC series called The Hour. The show is set in the 1950s and will air next year.

The Hour follows the launch of a topical news show in London set against the backdrop of a mysterious murder. West will play Hector Madden, the programme's upper-crust, charismatic front man.

The series is being called the UK version of Mad Men:

The only place with better retro fashion than New York in the 1960s is London in the 1950s.

(via unlikely words)

Sterling's GoldOct 27 2010

On Mad Men this season, Roger Sterling writes a book called Sterling's Gold. And behold, that book is available for pre-order on Amazon in the real world.

Advertising pioneer and visionary Roger Sterling, Jr., served with distinction in the Navy during World War II, and joined Sterling Cooper Advertising as a junior account executive in 1947. He worked his way up to managing partner before leaving to found his own agency, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, in 1963.

During his long and illustrious career, Sterling has come into contact with all the luminaries and would-be luminaries of the advertising world, and he has acquired quite a reputation among his colleagues for his quips, barbs, and witticisms.

Taken as a whole, Roger Sterling's pithy comments and observations amount to a unique window on the advertising world -- a world that few among us are privileged to witness first-hand -- as well as a commentary on life in New York City in the middle of the twentieth century.

Who knows what the book will actually be, and I thought it was a hoax at first, but Grove Press is putting this thing out so who knows.

Steve Jobs and "the bicycle for the mind"Oct 15 2010

I enjoyed this extensive interview with John Sculley about his time at Apple (he was CEO from 83-93) because of 1) his insight into Steve Jobs' way of thinking, 2) his willingness to talk about his mistakes, and 3) his insights about business in general...he gives Jobs a lot of credit but Sculley is clearly no slouch. Some high points:

[Jobs] felt that the computer was going to change the world and it was going to become what he called "the bicycle for the mind."

On the small size of teams actually building products:

Normally you will only see a handful of software engineers who are building an operating system. People think that it must be hundreds and hundreds working on an operating system. It really isn't. It's really just a small team of people. Think of it like the atelier of an artist.

Sculley was president of Pepsi before coming to Apple:

We did some research and we discovered that when people were going to serve soft drinks to a friend in their home, if they had Coca Cola in the fridge, they would go out to the kitchen, open the fridge, take out the Coke bottle, bring it out, put it on the table and pour a glass in front of their guests.

If it was a Pepsi, they would go out in to the kitchen, take it out of the fridge, open it, and pour it in a glass in the kitchen, and only bring the glass out. The point was people were embarrassed to have someone know that they were serving Pepsi. Maybe they would think it was Coke because Coke had a better perception. It was a better necktie. Steve was fascinated by that.

On why he should not have been hired as Apple's CEO:

The reason why I said it was a mistake to have hired me as CEO was Steve always wanted to be CEO. It would have been much more honest if the board had said, "Let's figure out a way for him to be CEO. You could focus on the stuff that you bring and he focuses on the stuff he brings."

Remember, he was the chairman of the board, the largest shareholder and he ran the Macintosh division, so he was above me and below me.

After Jobs left, Sculley tried to run the company as Jobs would have:

All the design ideas were clearly Steve's. The one who should really be given credit for all that stuff while I was there is really Steve. [...] Unfortunately, I wasn't as good at it as he was.

And finally, Sculley and Jobs probably haven't spoken since Jobs left the company:

He won't talk to me, so I don't know.

Jobs is pulling a page from the Don Draper playbook here. In season two, Don tells mental hospital patient Peggy:

Peggy listen to me, get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.

Maybe Jobs is still pissed at Sculley and holds a grudge or whatever, but it seems more likely that looking backwards is something that Jobs simply doesn't do. Move forward, Steve.

Mad Men reading listOct 04 2010

The NYPL blog has compiled a list of books ripped from the scenes of Mad Men.

Some of the titles are featured prominently in the series and others are mentioned in passing. Remember the book Sally read with her grandfather at bedtime? The book on Japanese culture the agency was told to read? The scandalous book the ladies passed between each other in secret? You can find all these and more!

(via mad men unbuttoned)

Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Campbell?Aug 17 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, a friendly reminder: Pete Campbell's happy dance.

The Personism momentAug 12 2010

I always liked the way poet Frank O'Hara walked up to the manifesto:

Everything is in the poems, but at the risk of sounding like the poor wealthy man's Allen Ginsberg I will write to you because I just heard that one of my fellow poets thinks that a poem of mine that can't be got at one reading is because I was confused too. Now, come on. I don't believe in god, so I don't have to make elaborately sounded structures. I hate Vachel Lindsay, always have; I don't even like rhythm, assonance, all that stuff. You just go on your nerve. If someone's chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don't turn around and shout, "Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep."

But what do we call it, Frank? We need a name.

Personism, a movement which I recently founded and which nobody knows about... was founded by me after lunch with LeRoi Jones on August 27, 1959, a day in which I was in love with someone (not Roi, by the way, a blond). I went back to work and wrote a poem for this person. While I was writing it I was realizing that if I wanted to I could use the telephone instead of writing the poem, and so Personism was born. It's a very exciting movement which will undoubtedly have lots of adherents. It puts the poem squarely between the poet and the person, Lucky Pierre style, and the poem is correspondingly gratified. The poem is at last between two persons instead of two pages. In all modesty, I confess that it may be the death of literature as we know it. While I have certain regrets, I am still glad I got there before Alain Robbe-Grillet did. Poetry being quicker and surer than prose, it is only just that poetry finish literature off.

LeRoi Jones eventually changed his name to Amiri Baraka. Alain Robbe-Grillet was an proto-postmodern French novelist associated with the nouveau roman, or "new novel." It's probably better if I let you figure out what a Lucky Pierre is for yourself.

Because O'Hara dated his poems, we know what poem he wrote between lunch with Jones and picking up the telephone; appropriately, it's called "personal poem":

Now when I walk around at lunchtime
I have only two charms in my pocket
an old Roman coin Mike Kanemitsu gave me
and a bolt-head that broke off a packing case
when I was in Madrid the others never
brought me too much luck though they did
help keep me in New York against coercion
but now I'm happy for a time and interested

I walk through the luminous humidity
passing the House of Seagram with its wet
and its loungers and the construction to
the left that closed the sidewalk if
I ever get to be a construction worker
I'd like to have a silver hat please
and get to Moriarty's when I wait for
LeRol and hear who wants to be a mover and
shaker the last five years my batting average
is .016 that's that, and LeRol comes in
and tells me Miles Davis was clubbed 12
times last night outside BIRDLAND by a cop
a lady asks us for a nickel for a terrible
disease but we don't give her one we
don't like terrible diseases, then
we go eat some fish and some ale it's
cool but crowded we don't like Lionel Trilling
we decide, we like Don Allen we don't like
Henry James so much we like Herman Melville
we don't want to be in the poet's walk in
San Francisco even we just want to be rich
and walk on girders in our silver hats
I wonder if one person out of the 8,000,000 is
thinking of me as I shake hands with LeRol
and buy a strap for my wristwatch and go
back to work happy at the thought possibly so

Here is a photo of Davis after being beaten:

Miles Davis Birdland 1959

One reason Davis's assault and arrest alarmed O'Hara as much as it did was the increasing police violence at bars and clubs where gay men gathered -- which culminated in the Stonewall Riots, five years after his accidental death in 1964.

O'Hara's poetry got a boost in sales and pop-culture recognition recently, when it was prominently featured in the Season Two premiere of Mad Men. Don Draper reads from Meditations In An Emergency's "Mayakovsky":

Now I am quietly waiting for
the catastrophe of my personality
to seem beautiful again,
and interesting, and modern.

The country is grey and
brown and white in trees,
snows and skies of laughter
always diminishing, less funny
not just darker, not just grey.

It may be the coldest day of
the year, what does he think of
that? I mean, what do I? And if I do,
perhaps I am myself again.

I don't know why I always think of this mode of literature in terms of media history. Maybe that's just the way I think. Or it's O'Hara picking up the telephone, that black-and-white photo of Davis's blood-spattered suit, Don Draper dropping his copy of a book into a suburban corner mailbox.

Elsewhere in Personism, O'Hara says, "Nobody should experience anything they don't need to, if they don't need poetry bully for them. I like the movies too. And after all, only Whitman and Crane and Williams, of the American poets, are better than the movies." Maybe if he were writing today, he might say, "only ___ and ___ and ___ are better than playing video games."

His poem "Lines for the Fortune Cookies" shows O'Hara would have completely understood (and ruled at) Twitter. Here are just three samples (all well under the character limit):

  1. Your walk has a musical quality which will bring you fame and fortune.
  2. You may be a hit uptown, but downtown you're legendary!
  3. You are a prisoner in a croissant factory and you love it.

Power stations of the future...Aug 06 2010

...From the past. It doesn't take much to look at this book and imagine the pitch meeting at how Sterling Cooper Draper Price would pitch this.

power stations of the future

In 1964 United States Steel called upon the nation's electric utility companies to reconsider the current look of our power stations and transmission towers to be both functional and beautiful. Two years later, Henry Dreyfuss and Associates were commissioned to investigate possible design alternatives, and I believe they were documented in a book entitled "Power Styling" which was produced by United States Steel in the mid-to-late 1960s.

(Thanks, Wendy!)

Mad Men previewJul 25 2010

Over at Unlikely Words, Aaron Cohen has a roundup of the many previews written about tonight's Mad Men season 4 premiere.

Simple Mad Men postersJul 14 2010

I love these minimalist Mad Men posters by Christina Perry.

Simple Mad Men posters

Prints are available. (via footnotes of mad men)

Your Mad Men homeworkJul 13 2010

It's two weeks until season four of Mad Men starts but in the meantime, you can pre-order Mad Men Unbuttoned, the book that sprang from the loins of the excellent and well-reviewed The Footnotes of Mad Men blog. I've only skimmed bits of it here and there, but it looks good so far.

Mad Men done after season sixApr 19 2010

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner says that Mad Men will end after six seasons. Which is good news and completely unsurprising.

For fans who were holding out hope that we might see the show drag on into the '70s or even '80s -- giving Don Draper a chance to try out key parties, double-knit polyester, muttonchops, and eventually cocaine and yuppie amorality in Reagan's America -- it's probably a little disappointing. But for everyone else, it's reassuring to know that Weiner is working with a specific endpoint in mind.

SpoilersNov 09 2009

In the opening scene of the season finale of Mad Men last night, Betty Draper goes to visit Roger Sterling in a freshly mowed hay field wearing a huge white wedding dress and gets shot in the head with a rifle by an off-screen Jane. She was aiming for Roger, but the first bullet missed and he hit the deck like a good soldier. As the second bullet entered the back of Betty's head, the camera swung around 180-degrees in a Matrix-like way and we see the bullet exit her neck about two inches below the ear. A ray of light shines through the hole as the bullet exits, as if Betty is made of pure light.

And then I woke up. I haven't seen the actual episode yet. (Friends, don't let friends eat late Vietnamese dinners.)

Mad Men, the megamovie of the momentOct 19 2009

Writing for The Atlantic, Benjamin Schwarz says we've got it all backwards regarding Mad Men: January Jones is a bad actress and the show's appeal lies not in the accuracy of the production details but in the emotional intelligence.

Then there is the miraculous Hamm, playing the lead character, Don Draper. Here is an actor who at once projects sexual mastery and ironic intelligence, poise and vulnerability. That alchemy has created the greatest male stars, from Gable to Grant to Bogart to McQueen to Clooney, because it wins for them both the desire of women and the fondness of men.

For my money, Jones is just as good at Hamm in portraying her character's multitudes.

Drinking like Mad MenOct 15 2009

Some folks from the web magazine Double X wondered what it would be like to drink as much in the workplace as the characters do on Mad Men. So they spent the day getting hammered and tried to do some work. The results are somewhat different than on the show.

The Footnotes of Mad Men bookSep 15 2009

The Footnotes of Mad Men blog will be a book. Nice!

Salting ice creamSep 08 2009

In last Sunday's episode of Mad Men, Grandpa Gene ate ice cream right out of the container and salted each spoonful before putting it in his mouth.

Mad Men Salt Ice Cream

It was an odd sight...salt isn't normally the first thing you think of as an ice cream topping. After the episode, Rex Sorgatz tweeted:

WHO THE FUCK SALTS THEIR ICE CREAM?

Salt has its own flavor when it's concentrated (if you salt foods too much or eat some all by itself) but used judiciously, salt takes the natural flavor of food and enhances the intensity. To use another dairy product as an example, fresh mozzarella tastes pretty good on its own but throw a little salt on top and it's mozzarella++. Salt makes ok food taste good and good food taste great. Along with butter, salt is the restaurant world's secret weapon; chefs likely use way more salt than you do when you cook at home. It's one of the reasons why restaurant food is so good.

But back to the ice cream. As food scientist Harold McGee writes, salt probably won't make ice cream taste sweeter but will make it taste ice creamier, particularly if the ice cream is of low quality, as the store-bought variety might have been in 1963.

I'm not sure that salt makes sugar taste sweeter, but it fills out the flavor of foods, sweets included. It's an important component of taste in our foods, so if it's missing in a given dish, the dish will taste less complete or balanced. Salt also increase the volatility of some aromatic substances in food, and it enhances our perception of some aromas, so it can make the overall flavor of a food seem more intense.

So that's why the fuck someone might want to salt their ice cream.

There will be a fourth season of Mad MenSep 01 2009

AMC renewed Mad Men for a fourth season.

Dance, Pete Campbell, dance!Aug 20 2009

Pete Campbell happy dance

I could watch Pete Campbell dance all the day long. Pitch perfect acting by Vincent Kartheiser. (via this recording)

The footnotes of Mad MenAug 18 2009

This may be my favorite new blog of the year: The Footnotes of Mad Men. Sample footnote: The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, the tentacle porn hanging in Bert Cooper's office. (via sandwich)

The cinematography of Mad MenAug 12 2009

In a video at the end of this post, Film Freak explores the cinematography of Mad Men. (via house next door)

Vanity Fair on Mad MenAug 06 2009

Vanity Fair goes long in a profile of Mad Men and series creator Matthew Weiner. Great stuff if you're a fan.

The dialogue is almost invariably witty, but the silences, of which there are many, speak loudest: Mad Men is a series in which an episode's most memorable scene can be a single shot of a woman at the end of her day, rubbing the sore shoulder where a bra strap has been digging in. There's really nothing else like it on television.

The article mentions that the show's core group of writers are all women. The show's portrayal of women is what really drew me into the show. The first 2-3 episodes were nothing but men behaving badly and I was ready to give up on it but then came episode 4 and it was like, oh, the women are sticking it to the men now...this could be interesting.

Update: From the WSJ, a piece about the women on the show and behind the scenes.

Behind the smooth-talking, chain-smoking, misogynist advertising executives on "Mad Men" is a group of women writers, a rarity in Hollywood television. Seven of the nine members of the writing team are women. Women directed five of the 13 episodes in the third season. The writers, led by the show's creator Matthew Weiner, are drawing on their experiences and perspectives to create the show's heady mix: a world where the men are in control and the women are more complex than they seem, or than the male characters realize.

(thx, lopati)

Mad Men YourselfJul 27 2009

Pick out a suit, light a cigarette, slick back your hair, and download the result as a Twitter icon or desktop wallpaper: Mad Men Yourself. Here's what I would look like as a Sterling Cooper junior account executive.

Kottke Mad Men

Illustrations by Dyna Moe, who worked her way into the hearts and minds of the Mad Men folks with her wonderful illustrations.

And PS to AMC: What, no season three press kit to send along to kottke.org? Almost 20 posts in the past year not enough for you?

Update: The Bygone Bureau has a short interview with Dyna Moe about her involvement with the show.

Mad Men season two out on DVDJul 11 2009

The Mad Men season two DVDs (and Blu-ray) are out on July 14; both are deeply discounted for pre-order at Amazon.

Mad Men season threeMay 28 2009

Season three of Mad Men is set to premiere in August. Oh Joannie! Plenty of time to stock up on your rye and Lucky Strikes. (thx, meg)

Update: The season three premiere has an official date/time: August 16 at 10pm. Because of the expense of the show, AMC wanted to add two more minutes of advertising but series creator Matthew Weiner balked at cutting that time out of each show. So season three episodes will run slightly past 11pm to accommodate both parties' desires. (thx, david)

Also, if you've never seen Mad Men and wonder what all the fuss is about, AMC has the entire first episode of the series online for free.

Madison Avenue CookwareMay 01 2009

Madison Avenue Cookware. The only thing that cooks better is a woman.

The site, which seems to be down right now, is actually a promotional site for Mad Men.

Two more seasons of Mad MenJan 21 2009

The creator of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, has signed a deal with his distribution company to do the show for at least two more years.

Pact will keep Weiner at the helm of "Mad Men" for the next two seasons. It also covers TV development and includes a component for Weiner to develop a feature project for Lionsgate. There's no specific idea on the table for the feature, but it won't be "Mad Men" on the bigscreen, Weiner and Lionsgate execs said.

Praise be. (via fimoculous)

Simpsons spoof Mad MenOct 29 2008

Video of the Simpsons Halloween episode opening that spoofs the Mad Men intro.

Andrew Johnston, RIPOct 27 2008

The season's final Mad Men recap is up at The House Next Door, but it was not written by its usual writer, Andrew Johnston. Johnston passed away yesterday at age 40 after a lengthy battle with cancer. RIP.

Interview with Mad Men's creatorOct 24 2008

Great interview with Matthew Weiner, the creator of Mad Men. Gender roles are a big focus of the show, something that wasn't necessarily apparent in the first two shows when I thought it was going to be some sort of lopsided misogyny-fest.

And the big intellectual skirmish going on was "Is it great that we're so different, men and women, or is there no difference at all?" No difference at all is where is started. Let's have equality and legistlate it like that. And then it became so much more complicated when you added sex to it and biologically the relationship is always sexist in some way. What's sexist in the office is fuel in the bedroom. We're wired that way to some extent. Women become more aggressive and it becomes strange for men.

(via fimoculous)

No season 3 for Mad Men?Oct 17 2008

The NY Post reports that Mad Men has not been renewed for another season. Yet. Eep.

Around the TV business, the news that no plans were in place yet for a new season was greeted with surprise. "I can't believe they haven't renewed it yet," said an executive at HBO, which now sheepishly regrets it did not sign the series about Madison Avenue in the 1950s and '60s when it was offered several years ago.

(via fimoculous)

Update: Variety reports that the show will return.

AMC has formally exercised its option for a third season of the period drama.

However, the show's creator is looking for more money and may not return. (thx, fladam)

The Atlantic redesignOct 13 2008

The Atlantic is getting a redesign. Changes are already afoot over at the web site and Pentagram's blog has an extensive look at the magazine's new look, designed by Michael Bierut, Luke Hayman, and their team. I love the proposed Helvetica cover. The inspiration for the throw-back logo came in part from an appearance of an old issue of the magazine on Mad Men (Bierut is a fan).

BTW, the new cover tells of an article on blogs -- Will Blogs Kill Writing? -- that you will likely be hearing about from all corners of the web when the issue is released next week.

Mad Men typographyOct 08 2008

Mark Simonson takes an extensive look at the typography of Mad Men and concludes that a surprising amount of the type is set in fonts that either weren't around in the early 60s or weren't yet popular in the US.

Then there is the Gill Sans (c. 1930) problem. Gill is used quite a lot in the series, mainly for Sterling Cooper Advertising's logo and signage. Technically, this is not anachronistic. And the way the type is used -- metal dimensional letters, generously spaced -- looks right. The problem is that Gill was a British typeface not widely available or popular in the U.S. until the 1970s. It's a decade ahead of its time in American type fashions.

There's also the Arial problem in the ending credits.

Michael Kors' Mad Men influenceOct 01 2008

Fashion designer Michael Kors based his 2008 fall collection in part on Mad Men. The maturity of dress on the show is part of what attracted him:

Aren't we ready for that again? For some maturity? I have to tell you, I am sick and tired of hair down to there and crotch-high hemlines. It's so obvious. For Fall I was really trying to bring back buttoned-up sexy -- think Grace Kelly. So cool, so poised. She never reveals a thing and you can't take your eyes off of her. I mean, watch "Rear Window." That's smart sexy; it's interesting sexy. And it's grown-up sexy. You want a tip on looking hot? Wear reading glasses and a fitted dress. Simple.

He's right about Grace Kelly. I watched Rear Window recently and she's something else in it.

Mad Men recapsSep 30 2008

Andrew Johnston has been posting great meaty Mad Men reviews over at The House Next Door after each episode. Here's a two-fer that covers the last couple of installments. You can find the rest of the season 2 recaps here.

Mad Men placesSep 29 2008

The Washington Post takes a stroll through Manhattan, circa the Mad Men era.

Sterling Cooper, as every fan with a pause button knows, is at 405 Madison Ave., an address that...does not exist. If it did exist, it would be where a bank of Chase ATMs is now, not the ideal spot to spend the morning, but don't worry, soon it will be 11:30 and time for your first cocktail.

One place the article doesn't mention is Lutèce, the fancy French place frequented by the bigwigs in the show. It closed in 2004. (thx, jake)

Mad Men wallpaperSep 10 2008

These Mad Men illustrations done by Nobody's Sweetheart are fantastic.

Mad Men Wallpaper

Mad Men Wallpaper

Oh, Joan! And wallpaper-sized to boot! The full-sized Sally Draper's Cocktail Cheat Sheet is awesome. (via merlin)

Mad Men's Arial gaffeAug 28 2008

Mad Men gets a C- for using Arial in the closing credits instead of original-and-still-champion Helvetica. Time for Sterling to have a chat with the art department.

What Would Don Draper Do? Aug 04 2008

Answers to frequently asked questions and questions that need not be asked: What Would Don Draper Do? (via fimoculous)

Update: What Would Joan Holloway Do? Never mind that, where are the pinup posters?

Variety's slanguageJul 30 2008

"Words" used in this article about the season premiere of Mad Men:

skein
aud
preem
competish
skeds
spec
cabler

Here's a list of the other "words" used by Variety in their "articles".

Michael Bierut on Mad MenJul 07 2008

An appreciation of Mad Men by designer Michael Bierut.

Jesus God in heaven! Not until I know I'm not wasting my time! From the minute Don launched his this-meeting-is-over bluff, I was on the edge of my seat, and my lovely wife Dorothy will tell you that I literally clapped my hands at that line. For me, this sequence is as close to pornography as I ever get to see on basic cable.

Alright, uncle, I give, I give. I will try and find some time in my schedule to watch this show.

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