Mad Men: “The Gold Violin”

Well, folks… let me begin by saying that I just don’t have it in me this week to do an exhaustive recap of this episode. Which is a bit of a shame, given that this was a damn fine episode, maybe my favorite of season 2 so far. Let me summarize the episode as best I can, then get into my thoughts on it:

The episode begins with Don at a Cadillac dealership. He wrecked his car a few episodes ago, remember? So now he needs a new ride. The thing is that while he’s talking to the car salesman, he has a flashback of his own days in the car business. Whilst trying to sell a car to a kid, a woman comes in asking for Don Draper. When Don introduces himself, the lady says that “you’re not Don Draper”:

Later that day, Don meets with the “Young Turks”, who share their vision of what “advertising” is for “young people of today”. Don, surprisingly, seems to like their ideas.

At the end of the day, Jane convinces Ken, Hal and Sal to sneak into Cooper’s office to look at his newest painting, something Harry and Paul decline for fear of getting caught. Paul even tells the group to “call me from jail.” Harry actually initiated all this by mentioning that Cooper wants to have a meeting with him. Harry is nervous because he thinks that the meeting will only be about about the new painting, and he doesn’t know if Cooper bought the abstract artwork because he actually likes it, or because he thinks it’s a joke and will enjoy seeing his employees try to kiss his ass with compliments for something that Cooper thinks is trash.

After looking at the picture, Sal, Ken and Jane share an elevator on the way out. Ken tries to flirt with Jane by mentioning that he’s a published author; amusingly, Sal picks up on this and talks about how much he liked Ken’s story. Later on in the episode, Ken asks Sal to read a story he has been working on, and Sal invites him over for Sunday dinner.

In an amusing scene, Cooper and Harry have their meeting. Harry still thinks that it’s to admire Cooper’s new painting. Come to find out, the meeting really is about the finances of Harry’s TV department, but Cooper and Harry have a fun discussion about the painting where Harry tries to be all “arty”, only to find out that Cooper has bought the painting solely as an investment.

There’s another scene with Cooper a few minutes later where he calls Don into his office to essentially orders him to take a seat on the board of a folk art museum. Cooper is not only giving Don money and power in the office, he now wants Don to have social status as well.

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SONGS I LOVE: “Jungle Drum”

Emilíana Torrini is one of my all-time favorite artists. Her 1999 album Love in the Time of Science is one of my favorite albums ever. It’s beautiful, lush and haunting and is one of the best electronic albums ever made (and it was produced by Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears). For a time, it seemed that Emilíana was poised to eclipse the fame of her Icelandic counterpart, Bjork.

But then tragedy struck: her long-time boyfriend was killed in a hit and run accident, and shortly thereafter she was violently mugged in Bethnal Green, London. She withdrew from music and fame for several years, occasionally popping up to write a song (like Kylie Minogue’s smash hit “Slow”) or to sing one-off collaborations (like “Gollum’s Song” from The Lord of the Rings soundtrack, or “Hold Your Hand” from superstar DJ Paul Oakenfold’s Bunkka album).

Emilíana finally reemerged in 2005 with her second album, Fisherman’s Woman. Unlike Science, this album was almost entirely acoustic. The album is profoundly sad, perhaps as a way to exorcise the pain of losing her boyfriend. It’s an incredibly beautiful album – “Today Has Been OK” is one the best songs I’ve ever heard – but it is, for the most part, as sad as a This Mortal Coil album. It’s something you just can’t pop into the CD player on a whim.

It seems that Emilíana has gotten her mojo back with her newest album, Me and Armini. Like Fisherman’s Woman, this album has almost no electronic instruments (much less the whole “electronica” feel). Unlike Fisherman’s Woman, however, the album is mostly poppy and happy. Have a listen to “Jungle Drum”, a song slated to be the album’s second single:


I’m so glad that Emilíana’s back on track. The girl is as cute as a button (and I mean that more mentally than physically), and it just makes me all giddy inside to hear her being happy again.

Read Emilíana’s Wikipedia entry here.

Loose Meat Sandwiches!

Maid-RiteLoose Meat Sandwiches (also known as Maid-Rites, after the restaurant chain that made them popular) are a delicious treat from the American Midwest. They’re like a Sloppy Joe without the sauce, and they’re one of the easiest sandwiches in the world to make.

In fact, they’re so easy to make that I won’t even bother making a traditional numbered list for the steps:


1-2 lbs. ground beef
1 small to medium onion, chopped
1 can Campbell’s Chicken Gumbo soup
Pickle chips (optional)


1 knife (to cut the onion)
1 large skillet

Simply brown the ground beef with the chopped onion, then drain off the excess fat. Return the skillet to the burner and add the can of soup (DO NOT ADD WATER!). Stir well and simmer over medium-low heat for 5-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place heaping amounts of the meat mixture on the bread and top with pickle chips.


Meat: This sandwich became popular due to the high-quality meat available almost anywhere in the Midwest. While your average grocery store ground beef will do, for best results try it with ground sirloin from a quality butcher. The difference will be amazing!

Sauce: The meat should be dry in appearance, and not make the bread instantly soggy. If you pick up the sandwich and sauce gushes everywhere, you either added water to the mixture or haven’t cooked it long enough.

Bread: Loose Meat Sandwiches are traditionally served on regular hamburger buns, although almost any type of sandwich bread will do: Kaiser rolls, onion rolls, baguettes… even plain white bread. If you’re using plain old sandwich bread, you’ll find that it works better if the bread is toasted.

Scaling: It’s hard to say exactly how many sandwiches the above recipe will make, as it depends on how much meat the diners prefer, as well as what type of bread you’re using. You can scale this base recipe up as much as you want, however.

Technical Difficulties

Golden brown texture like sun
Lays me down with my mind she runs
Throughout the night
No need to fight
Never a frown with golden brown

Every time just like the last
On her ship tied to the mast
To distant lands
Takes both my hands
Never a frown with golden brown

Golden brown find a temptress
Through the ages she’s heading west
From far away
Stays for a day
Never a frown with golden brown

Never a frown
With golden brown
Never a frown
With golden brown

The Legend of Fantasia Colorado

Almost every culture on the planet has some form of “monster” in their belief systems. Sometimes these “monsters” are based on actual events that have, over the generations, morphed into something far more spectacular than what actually happened. Sometimes, as in the case of “sea serpents”, they’re based genuine animals that were hitherto unknown to the people who created the stories. Yet other times the “monsters” are purely creatures of fiction, invented as entertainment to pass a long winter’s night, to keep an invading army away, or as morality tales for children.

What most of these “monsters” have in common is that they don’t exist. But in the late 1800s, there was a monster that was very real. And not only is the the story about the monster itself interesting, so too is the tale of how and why it came into existence.

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce you to The Red Ghost.

As you probably know, the United States and Mexico fought a war between 1846 to 1848. As a result of America’s victory, the US was given undisputed control of Texas, as well as the entire states of California, Nevada and Utah, in addition to most of Arizona and parts of Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. Although American settlers quickly rushed to certain parts of these new lands, much of the land would remain sparsely populated – except by Native Americans – for almost 30 years.

By the 1880s, though, much of what would one day become Arizona had been converted into ranches or farmland. That didn’t mean that everything was peaceful, however. The iconic Apache warlord Geronimo still terrorized the area, and it wasn’t uncommon for a rancher to wake up and find his livestock stolen, his fences destroyed or his neighbors killed or maimed by Geronimo and his men.

It was because of the threat of Geronimo that two women were left alone in their house on Eagle Creek in southwest Arizona one morning in 1883. Geronimo had been active in the area the past few nights, so the men of the family left early that morning to check on their sheep.

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A Great Mad Men Article!

The Chicago Tribune blog has this excellent article about season 2 of Mad Men, and why the show – especially the second season – can sometimes be hard to watch:

I suppose the word “sentimental” is not considered complimentary, but I do think that the Carousel scene in the Season 1 was one of the greatest pieces of sentimental writing I’ve ever seen. In his pitch to Kodak executives, Don beautifully evoked the comfort and warmth of the past – a past that, in his case, was almost entirely a fiction (the pictures were real, the peaceful contentment they depicted was a sham).

This season, however, we’re not seeing the Don of the Carousel scene, the Don who was at least a little hopeful about finding both safety and emotional intimacy. This season, Don appears to have given up, somehow.

Those with more focus and more drive aren’t finding the satisfaction that eludes Don. I suppose what makes this season more sad is the fact that there’s more pain to go around. We’re not only seeing Don’s questionable choices, we’re getting glimpses of many different people’s difficulties. Peggy Olson, Duck Phillips, even Pete Campbell’s wife – it’s not that they had it easy last season, it’s just that we’re getting a good long look at the obstacles they all face.

It’s definitely worth a read!

Today’s The Day!

Gentlemen, start your engines: the 2008-2009 NFL season starts today! Thank God… it’s been too long!

Jack Lambert: Badass.

Yaaaaaaaaa!!! FOOTBALLLLLLLLL!!!!

To pass the time before tonight’s game, enjoy this YouTube video of The Best Damn Sports Show Period’s “Top 5 Greatest Touchdowns”:

Wisdom from +Love

Stand Firm has posted this great piece written by Bill Love, the Bishop of Albany (NY). The piece is a great summary of the differences between the GAFCON and Lambeth conferences earlier this summer. Here’s an excerpt:

Unfortunately in many cases, the very ones calling for others to listen are unwilling to listen themselves. For some, the listening process will not be complete or successful until the other side is worn down and finally agrees with their position. Given the current debate on issues of human sexuality, when virtually every argument both for and against homosexual behavior, sex outside of marriage, and abortion have already been made numerous times over, the question ultimately must be asked – When is enough, enough? The longer the debate goes on, the more divided we seem to become and the more distracted we are from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A major distinction between GAFCON and Lambeth concerning this issue is that for GAFCON, the debate seems to be over, for Lambeth, no end is in sight.

It’s a great article, if a bit long. It’s very much worth the read!

Mad Men: “Maidenform”

All the Internet pundits out there just gushed over this episode, calling it “the best of the season” and “the best episode ever”. On the other hand, while I feel that the episode had some great moments, there was just something that I didn’t like about it. Like last week’s episode, it felt “off” for some reason (this episode even more so). That doesn’t mean that Mad Men isn’t still the best show on TV right now. Let’s hop right in to the recap:

This episode begins with Betty, Joan and Peggy getting dressed. In the background, “The Infanta” from The Decemberists’ 2005 album Picaresque plays. I did not like the modern music playing during the opening, and that has nothing to do with my like or dislike of The Decemberists – any modern music would put me off. Although I don’t want to paint Mad Men’s producers into a “you must use music from 1962″ corner, I hope they don’t do that again.

Anyway, at the office, Don meets with everyone over the Playtex account. It seems that the Playtex people – whose advertising has always plainly advertised the merits of their bras – are interested in possibly changing their campaign to mimic the dreamy, fantasy world of their main competitor, Maidenform. As was the case with American Airlines, Duck is all for giving Playtex a new look, while Don is unconvinced that change would be good for Playtex. Once again, the two openly disagree.

As Duck leaves the meeting, his secretary rushes up to him to tell him that his ex-wife, children and dog are waiting for him:

It seems that Duck’s former mother-in-law is sick, and his ex-wife needs to spend some time with her; thus, she dumps the kids (and dog) with Duck. Duck takes it in stride, though, telling the kids that he has a great hotel room lined up, and has awesome tickets to a play.

While all this is going on, Pete, Peggy and Sal discuss the direction of the Clearasil account. Pete thinks up his own tagline (“Thanks Clearasil”) over the muted objections of Peggy, who has her own ideas for the campaign.

On Memorial Day, we see the Drapers at a country club party. Don runs in to a guy that “did some work” for the CIA in Cuba, while Betty runs bumps to Arthur Case. The two have an enlightening conversation (“Lets be friends!”). As soon as the Draper children rush up and hug their mother’s waist, Arthur seems to instantly lose interest in Betty. It’s hard to tell what will happen from that. Betty previously pushed Arthur away when he tried to kiss her, but as we know from previous episodes, Betty is a sexual time bomb waiting to go off. Although she appears to value her marriage more than anything, I wonder if she’ll be strong enough to avoid infidelity in the future.

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