Tag Archives: Mad Men

2008: A Year in Review, Part 2

Welcome to the 2nd half of my year. I just realized that I probably should’ve done these in reverse chronological order, but whatever.

July–I took my blog public, making it a whole lot easier to remember what I did for the rest of the year.  I also started biking to work and we had Kristi’s Bachelorette Party Boat Trip:



August– I took two vacations this month, plus a Tour de Philo.  First up was my staycation and then a second trip to Nawlins for Kristi’s wedding:



September— I started running, became obsessed with Mad Men and reconnected with an old friend via Facebook.  We also had Bunco at Erin’s in conjunction with Philo Fest, but-unfortunately- I have no corresponding photos :-(


I do, however, have a photo of this thing that I found on my fence (I know you all needed to see it again)




October– was downright insane.   There was a crazy gas station incidentmy cat died, and I was involved in train accident on the way home from seeing Cross Canadian Ragweed in Carbondale.  To top off the craziness, this was the first year in a long time that I *didn’t* dress up for Halloween.  Odd.


And then there was the trip to Chicago to see the New Kids on the Block:




November– is always a busy month.  This year, I went to San Antonio for work. And had the usual Thanksgiving with the family.  Oh, and there was that whole historic election thing.

I also made a trip to Chicago for Nikki’s Big Ten Bar Crawl:



And attended my only (gasp!) U of I tailgate of the season




Family and friends of Ryann Smith held a benefit in Tuscola and raised a bunch of money. I realize that I haven’t blogged about Ryann at all.  She was born a couple days after Christmas with a rare birth defect called CDH.  She is a fighter.  Please keep her and the family in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to know more, visit her caring bridge page:  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/ryannsmith.


I also had Christmases with my Grannie Rich,  my brother, and the rest of my extended family.


(And, because I know you can’t get enough of me and firearms, here’s the infamous gun shot one more time…)



I spent my Christmas break lounging, watching movies (Marley and Me and Seven Pounds), reading (still making it through the Twilight saga… I’ll reserve judgment until I’m finished with all the books), and spending time with friends and family.


I rang in the New Year in Chicago, but failed to take a single photo.  Maybe I should resolve to be a better chronicler this year :)


Reflections on 2008

All in all, the year turned out pretty good.  In some ways, this is one of the hardest years I’ve ever had, but I’ve learned so much.   I’ve learned how to ask for help from those closest to me.  I’ve learned to say “no” on occasion and I’ve learned to enjoy myself in less-than-ideal circumstances. I’ve made some new friends, reconnected with others, and have spent more time with some of my family members than ever before.


This blog has really been a great outlet for me and I appreciate each and every reader, hit, and comment you all have given me.


Here’s to happiness and prosperity in 2009!

I Love Mad Men. 

The season finale was tonight. It was amazing.  ‘Nuff said.

courtesy glark.org

courtesy glark.org

Interview w/Myself

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I hope Hannah is flattered that I stole her interview format for this post. :)


So, how was your weekend?

Good.  Busy, but good.

Busy, huh?  What did you do?

Well, on Saturday we had the Cross-Town Tournament: Savoy vs. Centennial at boot camp. 

Today I was up brite and early, rode my bike to the grocery store, did a BUNCH of yardwork, started laundry, made a pasta salad and a pot of soup, went to a cookout for my Mom’s birthday, played with her dogs and came home to some more housework.

That cross-town tournament sounds fun.  Did you win?

Oh, no.  We got smoked.  It was a best 2 out of 3 tournament: Dodge Ball, Danish Long Ball and an obstacle course.  We lost the first 2 rounds so we didn’t even need to play the third.  But we did.  And still lost.  That Savoy team is tough.

Is there anything you didn’t do?

Yep. I didn’t go out.  Not once. Not even to watch the Illini game.  And I didn’t go running, watch any of my Netflix movies OR read any one of the three books I have started.

How ’bout those Illini?

Yeah, pretty awesome, huh? I didn’t watch the whole game, but I kept checking the score.  Too bad the Cubs had to disappoint.

How’s the running going?

It’s going good.  Week 4 is really hard.  I decided to take the day off on Saturday because of boot camp.  I’ve been working out 6 days a week and I’m starting to get a little fatigued, so I took today off, too. (Yard work and household chores have to count for something right?) It puts me a little behind schedule, but I’m in no hurry.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Yes, watch Mad Men.  It’s getting REALLY good.  Also, make sure you’re registered to vote.

Emmy Recap

Congratulations!  Mad Men won for Best Drama and Best Writing.  Yet another reason to start watching.  Like, now!  


I actually took notes on the fashions, but there wasn’t really much to say.  Everyone pretty much played it safe.  The only looks I hated were Jennifer Love Hewett, Eva Longoria, and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, but even they weren’t really *that* bad.  (I can’t even find a pic of JLD)


Whatever happened to the days when celebrities dressed up as swans or wore dresses made out of gold cards?  

My favorite moments:

Tina Fey’s multiple wins. . . and her exchange with Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet:

Tina: Thanks for not asking me about Sarah Palin
Ryan: Oh, I was told not to
Tina:  Really?  Well, thanks…
Ryan:  So… have you talked to her?
Tina:  No (visibly uncomfortable)
Ryan: Would you? Like, would you have a drink with her?
Tina:  Well, maybe if she’s free in November. Maybe then I’d have a drink with her.
Ryan: (oblivious to the “free in November” reference) HA HA.  Great talking to you.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Ryan Seacrest is a total douche.  The interview was uncomfortable hilarity at it’s best. I can’t find this on YouTube yet, but I’ll put it up when/if I do.

Josh Grobin’s Tribute to TV theme songs


It was great in a schmaltzy cruise-ship kind of way!

Anything with Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert

They both won, which was good. And they were gracious and funny towards one another.  My fave lines:

Stephen:  And I really want to thank Jon Stewart.  But he won’t let me.  Seriously, man, change your mind!

Jon: I’m looking forward to the next administration, whoever it is. I’ve got nothing else. I’m really looking forward to the next administration, whoever it is.

Old.. I mean REALLY OLD stars

As cheesy as it was, it was kinda nice to see some of the old-school TV stars there.

I was especially impressed with the honorary Emmy they gave to Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers.  He voluntarily left himself off the list of writers back in the 60s because his material was too controversial.  His writing staff (including Steve Martin) won that year, so they decided to award him a “commemorative” Emmy this year.

It was also fun to see Betty White.  And Don Rickles w/Kathy Griffin.  And the Laugh-in thing.  Kinda cheesy, but also kinda fun.  Way better than the “bits” the hosts did. What was up with Jeff Probst and that Dragnet costume? Lame-O!

Other than that, it was your run-of-the-mill boring Award show. I don’t even watch half of the shows that are nominated.  Lost was completely shut out and I really, really, really wish that Jon Hamm would’ve won in the Best Actor category. 

In Other TV News…

I also watched Entourage and America’s Next Top Model during the Emmys.  Entourage was better than it’s been in a *long* time.  The scene with Ari and the cops had me laughing out loud and I actually cheered when Ari bitch-slapped Davies.

I was kinda bummed that Jeremy Piven won again at the Emmy’s, but the Ari-centered episodes really are the best.

ANTM was just okay:  Makeover challenge, make-up challenge and swimsuit photo shoot. We’ve seen it all before.  It was sorta interesting to watch Isis, the tranny model, try to “work” her bikini though.

Watch Mad Men.  Do it!

Mad About Mad Men 

Mad Men is a show about advertising executives in the 1960s. In addition to being my current pop-culture obsession, it’s up for 16 Emmy Awards tonight. To me, Mad Men is like a combination of the best parts of The Wonder Years, The Office, and The Sopranos all rolled into one.

Even if you don’t generally like “critically acclaimed dramas” I highly recommend you give Mad Men a shot.  Here’s why:

It’s visually stunning
The lighting, the costumes, the hair and the make-up are all just gorgeous.  It really brings back  a much more glamorous and put-together kind of world.

The nostalgia factor
The show provides an interesting glimpse into everyday life in the 60s.  People smoke constantly on the show—at home, at work, even in the doctor’s office (!).  They also drink heavily (sometimes while driving), and work at desks… without computers!  It’s amazing to think of the kinds of work they did back then without any of the technology we take for granted. 

 I’m also really intrigued by the advertising stuff.  The clients range from Lucky Strike to Kodak to American Airlines. Here’s an especially moving moment from one of the ad pitches:

Historical time period
Mad Men is peppered with all kinds of historical details—from big things like the Kennedy-Nixon debates to little things like kids riding in the car without their seat belts.   

But, more importantly, the timing of the series gives us a unique perspective on a pivotal time in American history. Season 1 takes place in 1960 and Season 2 is set two years later. This is the beginning of the 60s… before the Kennedy assassination, before Woodstock, before the escalation of the Vietnam War. In the Mad Men world, life is good…hardworking men score big accounts, have trophy wives and liquid lunches, drive Cadillacs and sleep with their secretaries.

We know that there are huge cultural shifts underfoot and can see some foreshadowing of change, but the characters of Mad Men are, for the most part, oblivious to all of this.

I’ve read that the creators of the show hope to continue the show through 1972, so it will be interesting to watch these admittedly “old school” characters as they learn to cope during one of the most tumultuous times in our history.

Great Writing, Storytelling, and Characters

Although the time period is fascinating, the writing, acting, and storyline are what keep Mad Men from becoming just another kitschy novelty show (a la Swingtown, which is just horrible!).

The characters are complex and well-written.  Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is the suave creative director who has the “magic touch” when it comes to wowing clients.  He has a lovely wife, a house in the suburbs, two adorable kids, a bunch of mistresses—and a secret past.   Even though he does some deplorable things, you can’t really hate him. Creator Matthew Weiner used to be the head writer for The Sopranos, so comparisons to Tony Soprano are plentiful.

The supporting characters at the Sterling-Cooper ad agency are also interesting in their own right.  There’s the closeted gay guy, the ruthless up-and-comer, the literary poet, and a couple of guys that seem to be there just for laughs.

But, what really impresses me is the complexity of the female characters.  On a show set in the 60s called Mad Men, it would be easy to write the women as merely supporting characters—wives, secretaries, hookers.  And, in some respects, they are.  But the writers have given these women great roles to work with. 

There’s Don’s wife Betty, who looks like Grace Kelly and plays the part of the perfect suburban housewife.  But underneath, she’s jealous, manipulative, and sometimes cruel. 

At the agency, there’s Joan, the knockout office manager who has the men in the office wrapped around her finger.   Then there’s Peggy, a frumpy girl from the secretarial pool who landed a job as a copywriter.  It’s interesting to watch the two of them as they use their sexuality and intelligence to navigate office politics in a *very* male-dominated environment.

All in all, it’s just a fantastic show and I look forward to watching it every week.  Unfortunately, there is no new episode this week, due to the Emmys.  Guess I’ll just have to watch those!


Mad Men airs Sundays at 9:00 CST on AMC.