Reasonable Words

“She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit.” — W. Somerset Maughan

Weekend Review: “Sweeter than a cherry pie with Reddi-Whip topping”

It appears WordPress does not have a widget that functions like TypePad’s “Media List,” which allows the author to rave about/identify/plug different media items they’re enjoying–or trying to impress their reader(s) by pretending to enjoy. So I guess I’ll do it with a homegrown post. Get comfortable.

On DVD: Mad Men, Season 1

As previously intimated, I’m jonesin’ pretty bad for some fresh Mad Men. Since I’ve no idea when Season 3 is coming out, and Season 2 isn’t available until Summer, it appears, I rummage to the back of the sock drawer for Season 1. It’s not all stems and seeds, but it’s just whetting my appetite to see how 1963 will end (apparently with some national calamity, I read in a fan forum).

That was playful and all, but I also toyed with which, if any, actual Mad Men snippets to include. There are tons of glib little clips of the men sitting around the office being cool with their cigarettes and sexual harassment and stuff. But as hot as Jon Hamm is and as icy as Vincent Kartheiser (quite impressively) is, that’s all been done to death. Then I thought about the infamous “Carousel” scene in the Season 1 finale, where Don and the whole fucking cold-ass, no-sentiment-here tone of the show collapses beautifully into a sobbing mess. But that’s really the money shot only due to those of us who’ve sat through the previous 12 moody episodes, intended, no doubt, to snap us out of our crippling depression. So I only link to it above. If you haven’t earned it, you shouldn’t watch it, won’t get it, and–frankly–don’t deserve it.

So where does this leave us? Ah yes, the poor, put-upon women of Mad Men. Actually, I should amend my earlier note and concede that Betty Draper here actually delivers the first crack at the season’s stony facade, and January Jones does a beautiful, heart-breaking job that–again–will only be worth watching to those who’ve put in the time. But the female character I identify with most is Rachel Menken. Outside of Sterling Cooper, she’s the only self-supporting woman on the show, and by most accounts the most self-respecting. With that, I submit bookend scenes from Episode 1.06, “Babylon.”

In the final scene, Don reluctantly joins Midge at a beatnik bar. As the performance begins…well, you’ve got eyes. You can definitely tell Matthew Weiner is a graduate of David Chase University.

And so ends my Mad Men tribute. Thanks for sticking with me. I’ll try to move more quickly.

disturbing-peaceBy my Bed: Richard Yates, Disturbing the Peace

Apt title. I got turned on to Yates after reading Revolutionary Road. Though not nearly as well regarded and (though I’d scarcely have thought it possible) still darker in tone, it’s nonetheless fulfilling on a masochistic   level. Published in 1975 but set some 20 years earlier, it’s marked by a lack of obvious sentiment (as with both Revolutionary Road and Mad Men).  By that I don’t simply mean that it doesn’t wallow in sentiment. Rather, Yates’s apparent distaste for marriage (or, at any event, monogamy) and child-rearing, for example, lies just this side of madness–and, in the protagonist’s case, beyond.

If you’re at all interested, be aware the Wikipedia entry contains a plot summary with spoilers.

IRL: Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, Alabama

shrine-mbs4

Alright. ::sigh::  Here’s how it works: My family, for the most part, is Catholic; I, for the most part, was raised that way. I have, for the most part, learned, observed, examined and ultimately rejected most of the Church’s teachings (although, unlike Troy King, I’m generally on board with the ‘no killing’ thing). However, certain things still tug at me, some unconsciously. I still capitalize “Church,” for example, when speaking w/r/t the Catholic Church. I cannot walk into a nave without crossing myself. I cannot take a seat without genuflecting, and I try to pray (or at least have a good thought) before Mass. I generally consider these to be cultural and ritualistic vestiges of my earlier life and in doing them I’m not convicted by a sense of hypocrisy. I also do these things because when I’m attending Mass or a wedding, it’s generally in the company of  older, devout family members whom I don’t wish to disrespect with shows of obstinate heathenism. If you are not familiar with Catholicism and its wacky notions, and even if you are, the account that follows will seem laughable. I’m fine with that. I’ve certainly made good sport of others for beliefs and/or practices I despised as superstitious and beneath me, and I submit myself here to my just desserts.

Two nights ago, I got a call at work that I figured was due. One of my sisters had just talked to one of our two aged aunts, widowed sisters and now something like roommates, who twice a year (just before Lent and Advent), encourage all of us kids, for whose eternal souls they feel somewhat responsible, to make a ‘pilgrimage‘–a drive of about two hours–with them to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville for adoration of the Eucharist. [Your peals of derisive laughter would be appropriate here.] So my sister drives to Marion County to pick them up and I meet them in Hanceville. Oddly, none of our other sisters or cousins were available. I missed the trip this past November, but I went before Ash Wednesday last year and I must confess, it does sit in some beautiful country. I understand that there are monastic retreats and retreats for contemplative meditation offered either at the Shrine or close by. It really sounds nice. I’m sure I could benefit from a weekend of silence and contemplation in the country. But it wasn’t quiet this visit. It was touristy (’cause there’s a gift shop, of course) with philistine Protestants apparently in the mix as well.

But to wrap this up, I have to confess that, as with many obligatory occasions of this type , once I’m there, it’s not nearly as bad as I’d expected. So I knelt before the Eucharist and contemplated my blessings and things I most wish for for my loved ones. And my sick, everyday shit fell away for a good ten minutes, making the 4 hours total spent on the trip more than worth it.

In the Ear: Beastie Boys, Check Your Head

check-your-head2See I’m the long, leaner Victor the Cleaner,
I’m the illest motherfucker from here to Gardena.
I’m cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce,
You’ve got the rhyme and reason but no cause.
So if you’re hot to trot, you think you’re slicker than grease,
I got new for you crews, you’ll be sucking like a leach.

I found this CD behind my desk while straightening up my office. And I was all, “That’s out of contrizzle!” Then I remembered I am in fact white, and no longer 19, and quietly ripped a soft copy (occasionally peaking in my desk drawer to taunt my moody iPod).

Thanks for reading. Next week: Rachel Getting Married (which–for some reason–is at the $1 theater on Lorna Road)

Filed under: Books, Film, In the Ear, IRL, The Idiot Box

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