Tuesday, August 31


I’ve concluded that greens are tricky. There are yellow greens, blue greens and true greens. Judging the colors from a fabric store website is even trickier. And sometimes when the package from Fabric.com or Hancock’s is opened, you get a surprise.

My solution is always to order more fabric. And then surely I will have enough!

Down blog I have pictured a group of greens, tans, browns that I pulled from my stash with the intent of creating a Boxing Clever quilt for my niece and her husband. I also ordered some yummy fabrics from the web and they’ve begun to arrive.

Here’s a set. Two of greens (on the far right) will find their way into another quilt in the future. That quilt is in the fabric-collection stage and exists only as a very bright dream. And here it is below. The two lime greens on the far left originally were purchased for the muted green quilt and are too bright. But I love them and think they look great in this assortment. I think these brights would look wonderful with lots of a solid color to frame it and cool it down a little. White, for example. Lots more thinking here.
Questions remain about some of these new fabrics. I don’t know if they will work together although I hope they will once they are mixed in with the tans.

More fabrics are on their way and I only hope they all work in concert. I love getting packages of fabric. It's like Christmas. Or my birthday.

MAD MEN "Waldorf Stories"

Don is unraveling!

Remember how Betty said she thought she might float away if Don wasn’t holding her down? (And she meant that in a good way.) Well, I think it’s the untethered Don who is floating away.

He over-celebrates his Clio win. (Clios weren’t all that impressive in my day. They were a money-generating machine for the award organization and that’s why there were so many categories.) And makes the poor decision to go ahead with the Life cereal presentation. And when it goes badly he makes the disastrous mistake of riffing lines in the presence of the client. A bigger no-no doesn’t exist in Madison Avenue.

You saw the look on Peggy’s face when he committed this advertising faux pas, especially when his straw-grasping resulted in selling the client a stolen line: “the cure for the common breakfast.” And he sold that only because the client was drunk, too.

And even worse, Don’s drunkenness got him in bed with another stranger, apparently a second one. Which is just pathetic. But in his blackout he loses track of the days and stands up his own kids. That’s unforgiveable.

So he’s unraveling. He hits on Dr. Faye who smartly turns him down. More evidence that they might become a couple. And he’s losing Peggy’s respect which might result in her leaving him.

But the thing most likely to put him over the edge completely? When Anna dies. He will become completely unmoored.

Betty and the children provided Don with a framework and a façade that made him keep it all together. Without it he is adrift.

Contrast his current state with young, ambitious, pre-Sterling Cooper, fur-selling Donald Draper. Hilarious flashbacks to how he broke down Roger’s resistance and got himself hired. And as an aside we see Roger’s giving Joan a fur jacket. The irony of all this is that Roger was so drunk he forgot that he offered Don a job. Or did Don take advantage of his blackout and just say he did?

I have little to say about Peggy’s stripping to get Stanley to work with her. I didn’t find it credible. What’s more, I don’t understand why she couldn’t find a better way to deal with this sexist asshat. She’s clever. She should outwit him.

The Don-Roger-Joan flashbacks were definitely the best part of the episode.


One more good gadget. This one I’m proud of because it was fashioned by a friend and me in answer to a need. I enjoy toting my little appliqué blocks around in a small zippered bag. One of the tools needed is a pin cushion. And I would get stuck by the pins’ piercing the bag. What was wanted was a travel pin cushion.

Rejected were the paper and the little plastic box pins come in because I wanted them easy to grasp. No. What I wanted was a pin cushion that pins could not fully pierce.

And here’s the solution: a small, tight...um, I don’t know the word for this. I bought it at the Somers quilt show in May because it was perfect for pins and was small. And my friend Terri gave me the little round plastic box with the screw-on lid to keep it in. It was deep enough to accommodate the holder with pins.

I see on the SEW JOURNAL blog a photo of Clover fork pins in use. And of course I want them.

Monday, August 30


Like most quilters, I am a sucker for gadgets that will make cutting, pinning, quilting, basting easier, safer, faster, better. Some gadgets work. Others are disappointments. I thought I would open my quilting drawer and look for both.
Hmmm. First the things I actually use....Scrunchies in 2 sizes keep my spools and bobbins neat.
Binding clips hold the binding while I hand stitch it. Better than pins. The clear plastic 1/4" spacer which I use on occasion. And I still like the rotary blade sharpener although I wish I could replace the filing material.
Curved needles are very useful because I still favor basting.

And I finally tried this drunkard’s path gadget and it totally worked.
Next I’ll look for money-wasters. I wonder which little doohickies you bought that made you happy and which you regretted.

My fabric stash and where I store it

Inspired as I was by the Sew Journal blog entry about organization, here I am reporting on how I organize my stash of fabrics.

Tiny studio and a fabric jones do not mix! It’s a challenge to collect fabric and keep it neatly when you live in two rooms plus bath, have one closet and a Murphy bed. But I have done it and I have lived to tell the tale.

I keep most of my stash in plastic bins. I favor the clear type so I can see the contents. But in a couple of places I have no choice but to buy whatever fits in the space.

My tall ceilings allow for storage upward, out of the way. On shelves in the bathroom I have big baskets that can hide bundles of fabric.

When I win the lottery, I will have a lovely sewing room in which I can bring together all the elements of my beloved fabric collection.

Thursday, August 26


I am always excited when I plan a new quilt! The genesis of this one was a lovely and generous gift card from a friend. She wanted to thank me for helping her get through her nursing school studies by taking care of her poodle (who’s best friend with my dog, so not such great sacrifice.)
With my Hancock Fabrics gift card in my hot little hand, I went to the Hancock’s of Paducah website and began to peruse and choose sale fabrics. I found myself drawn to prints of cream, cocoa and a muted green. Soon I had hatched a plan to create a quilt with that color palette and to give it to my niece and her husband in North Carolina.

Her mother (my sister) tells me that Debbie’s taste runs to taupes and any muted color and that a traditional pattern would be appreciated.

Set on this road, I am not deterred by the startling fact that Hancock Fabrics is not “of Paducah” and quite a separate company! Just a little embarrassing.

Straightened out and committed to this green/tan quilt, I plowed ahead. I went to the Hancock site to select fabrics in the palette for Debbie’s quilt and wound up with a scaled-back but still wonderful selection from Paducah and Fabrics.com and Hawthorne threads. Gorgeous, gorgeous fabrics.

And of course I went into my stash to see what treasures I might unearth. Here’s a selection which depends on the whole mix of all the fabrics I’m bringing together.

As for the pattern, I decided to repeat one that I quite enjoyed and would very much suit this palette. Here it (Boxing Clever) is in bright, bold fabrics. Imagine a more subdued look that will still be beautiful.

My plan is to piece this in long strips and machine quilt it myself, sewing the quilted segments together by machine on the top, hand stitching the back.

Monday, August 23

Mad Men "The Chrysanthemum & the Sword"

Another nifty episode of Mad Men, mostly centered in the SCDP office and the ruins of Don’s former family life.

Pete Campbell who began his Mad Men life as a major putz has transmogrified into a mensch. “If Bernbach can work for Volkswagen” we can do Honda, he says to Roger who is still fighting Guadalcanal twenty years on. The silver fox’s rudeness to the Japanese executives was quite shocking. And considering what a Nipponophile Bert Cooper is, I find it interesting that his anger hasn’t been seen before. Not while having to remove his shoes and sit under Bert’s Japanese art did it ever surface. Just now when they have a shot at the motorcycle company and their future move into cars.

On the other hand, while Bert Cooper is sensitive to the sensibilities of the Japanese and their protocols, he can’t understand what black people want. In contrast, Roger sees that there is still a need for a civil rights law but Bert doesn’t know why "they" aren’t happy. Pete gets to make the best retort: “Because Lassie can stay at the Waldorf and they can’t.”

Pete also challenges Roger’s attempts at sabotaging the Honda pitch by accusing him of wrapping himself in the flag to cover his real motives: to keep Campbell from bringing in business because that will make Lucky Strike and consequently Roger himself less important.

With the benefit of hindsight we know how Americans embraced both Japanese and German products and what a dinosaur Sterling is. What was really fun was watching Don turn Roger’s lemons into lemonade with a devious scheme to make Ted Chaough, the competitor look bad. He’s using the newly won Jai Alai and Clearasil accounts as a ginned up race with Don to promote himself and his fictional agency CGC. And look who’s on his team: Smitty!

Don creates the illusion that they are producing a commercial for Honda which has stipulated “no finished work” to induce Chaough to spend funds unnecessarily and violate Honda’s rules.
And by the way, I love Miss Blankenship. Her cluelessness is great comic relief: she mangles names and announces loudly that Don is “always sleeping in here" and "Your daughter's psychiatrist called."

Back at the ranch, it’s Don’s visitation. Bobby and Sally get Phoebe the nurse across the hall as a babysitter. Don’s got a date with Bethany. WTF? He sees them a few days a month and he has a date?? Ridiculous. No wonder Sally chops her hair off. Phoebe is concerned about how she’ll catch hell from Don. And Don for the “river of shit” he’ll get from Betty.

And Betty’s reaction? She slaps Sally! Her acting out isn’t a cry for help, an expression of rage but a challenge to her authority that has to be squashed. Jeez Louise! As my mother would say, “It will always grow.” But Betty prefers to play Mommy Dearest. A shrink is only called in after Sally is caught masturbating at a sleepover. It wasn’t “in public” and her hostess-friend was sleeping while Sally was overcome with the urge during an episode of “The Man From UNCLE.” Now I loved David McCallum as Ilya Kuryakin, too, but all I ever did was paint his portrait in oils. Still this opportunity for growth was turned into an occasion of shame.

It was pretty predictable that the ticking time bomb that is Sally would make life miserable for all the adults in her life, but most especially, and most deservedly, Betty. Not a coincidence that from the tastefully understated masturbation scene they cut to Henry and Betty’s writhing in their marital bed.

Betty reminds Don in his “bachelor pad” that she is married, unlike him and his “whores.” She wants to blame him for Sally’s behavior. But who drove Don out of the home. Betty attributes Sally’s problems to the death of her grandfather --and that wouldn’t be her fault, would it? But it seems to me that we were seeing issues back when the baby was born.

Sally’s psychologist, “Dr. Edna” tells Betty that maybe she could benefit from talking to someone. Ya think? Only Betty won’t do that ever again, we infer from what she tells Henry (who’s surprised she was in therapy) that it doesn’t help anything. And she saw a psychiatrist because she was “bored.” (Hey, Betty! Only boring people are bored.)

And by the way, Betty and Henry are still living in the Draper house. Are they paying rent or is Don still wimping out?

Don shares a few nice moments with Faye Miller, who it turns out, is not married after all. The rings? A “stop sign.” Don confesses that he doesn’t see the kids often enough and when he does he doesn’t know what to do with them, that he’s relieved when they leave and then he misses them. That’s the dilemma of the divorced dad in a nutshell.

I’m more convinced than ever that they will have a romance. Not a fling. Not a date. A Rachel-style romance. She’s up for the challenge. She turns down his appeal to have dinner with him. “Fake dinner with your fake husband?”

Don’s “unseemly stunt” was a success—CGC is out of the running for the Honda car biz. And SCDP is first in line.

With this episode, Mad Men is definitely back on track.

Thursday, August 19

MAD MEN "The Rejected" is not rejected!

They’re back! And I couldn’t be more delighted. Last week’s episode is just a distant nightmare and my Mad Men have returned to the office, to the essence of why I love this show. Thank God and Matt Weiner!

“Previously” recap, as I am sure you noticed, is not like other serial shows, reviewing the episode immediately preceding this one. No, Mad Men gives us snippets from past shows regardless of when they aired and with them a road map to the new: Dr. Faye talking about focus group research, Freddie and Pond’s, Pete telling pony-tailed Peggy his father-in-law the Clearasil client loved his idea, Don telling Pete he’ll make partner if he can deliver accounts to SCDP, “I do want to get married,” says Peggy to Freddie, Joan with rapist/hubby, Allison saying “Don’t” to Don who kisses her. Hmmm! Sit down and keep your hands inside the car! Looks like a fun ride!
The episode is called “The Rejected.” Who or what is rejected?

First we are reminded of the power wielded by bully/client Lee Garner Jr. and that it’s 1965 and the Federal government is getting serious about cigarette ad restrictions: no teens, no famous athletes and no angles that would make the smoker look super-human. Hilarious conference call with Don and Roger telephonically holding Lee’s hand while Allison takes notes while listening in on an extension. Three-phone action and lots of funny lines, Roger’s of course. He suggests that they can still use some sports. Bowling, for example. “Bowling is a sport,” he tells Lee. Or horse racing. “Lee! The jockey smokes the cigarette!” And “I would never buy a sailboat. I don’t want to do things myself. For that price the boat should have a motor.”

Don multi-tasks: he consults with Peggy and Dr. Faye about the hypothesis for a focus group (and agrees to let her borrow some of the women in the office.) He opens a letter—Anna has sent him a photo of the two of them. We see the date: 19th of February, 1965. “Stephanie doesn’t think we look old.”

Pete comes in and is annoyed he wasn’t included on a Lucky Strike call. “Be happy,” says Roger. “I saved you an ass-ache.”

“Oh, my god, there’s some kind of fire!” “Down by Radio City,” adds Roger, immediately jumping on the way to get off the phone.

Wheeee! Roger’s funny and I love how they handle the conference call: passing the ball back and forth. Allison’s tipping Don—“He said ‘Don’” so that Don can put the receiver back to his ear and pretend he’s been listening all along.

Out in the hall, Roger gives Pete the terrible news that Pond’s thinks Clearasil’s a conflict and the account with the lesser billing has to be resigned. Pete must give his father-in-law the bad news. Ah, yes, Clearasil has to be rejected.

And I’m happy to be back in the SCDP offices. I want to see how this “scrappy upstart” is going to navigate the choppy seas of Madison Avenue. And the show is called Mad Men not because they are crazy, although they can be, but because they work on Madison Avenue. It’s the heart of the show and for me, a former Madison Avenue copywriter, it’s a big part of the show’s appeal. I couldn’t be happier.

Except if a favorite character would come back, in this case, it’s Ken! Yes! He’s getting married, announces Harry in Pete’s office (which strangely seems windowless and maybe it’s just the way it was shot, but Pete’s office would have windows) and invites him to tag along at lunch. He does and they make peace. (Ken works at “Geyer.” I don’t remember any agency named Geyer (unlike Grey, McCann, BBDO, Y&R.) I think this is a prelude to Ken’s coming over to SCDP which would set up his rivalry with Pete again. Although my ability to predict where Mad Men storylines go isn’t great (another thing I really like about the show.)

But I did get a gay vibe from Joyce the assistant photo editor of Life magazine whom Peggy meets in the elevator. And later at the downtown party Joyce invites her to my theory is confirmed: while passing a joint, Joyce leans in to Peggy’s ear. Peggy tells her “I have a boyfriend.” (More good news: No Mark Nebbish this week!) “He doesn’t own your vagina,” says Joyce. Wow. That’s a little forward for 1965. “No, but he rents it,”says Peggy and wipes her cheek. Did Joyce lick her face? That’s very freaky. Ugh.

Meanwhile, Pete meets Tom Vogel, client and dad-in-law, in a very smoky bar reminding me that up until not that long ago that’s how bars and restaurants were, especially back then when the majority smoked.

As Pete beats around the conflict bush, Tom blurts out that he “knows.” But what he knows turns out to be good news: Trudy is pregnant and Pete didn’t know! And then he passes up the perfect opportunity to resign the account but wimps out. We also get treated to the matter-of-fact sexism of the day: Tom offers him $1000 for a boy and only half that for a girl. Boys are so much more valuable than girls. That was the common wisdom, folks.

Trudy and Pete are happy in their mid-century Park Avenue co-op. She even offers to break the bad news to her father. “He already feels so guilty [about spilling the beans] he’ll never feel the knife going in.” But Pete can’t let her do that.

Later we get to see Peggy’s reaction to the news. She bangs her head on her desk and lies down on her couch, a little reminiscent of Don in the first episode. But then she congratulates Pete and doesn’t remind him that this first child actually is his second.

We also get to see how SCDP handles focus groups: in-house. The conference room adjoins Joan’s office which doubles as a viewing room. Dr. Faye dresses down for the “girls” and hands her rings over to Peggy for safekeeping. So Dr. Faye is married? Makes me think all the more that she and Don will get it on eventually. And it will be a reverse of Don’s previous affairs in which he was the married one. Perhaps Don will fall for her and she will break his heart.

All the focus groups I ever saw the leader never pretended to be one of the participants. She always was the leader. This is weird. Especially considering that Faye is clearly the leader and acts like one despite dressing-down and removing her rings.

The Pond’s focus group devolves into group therapy. I’ve seen this happen, although not to the emotional pitch this one descends to. Allison starts to break down and rushes out of the room, followed by Peggy who tries to reassure her. But from what Allison says we infer that she thinks Peggy had an affair with Don! Well, she’s not the only one, is she? I mean, how can any woman get ahead in the early 60s except on her knees, eh? Peggy gets it and gets indignant. Her attempt at kind understanding has been rejected. “Your problem is not my problem and honestly, you should just get over it.” Peggy, who knew about Midge, is not shocked that Don might have had a thing with Allison.

And beyond that, the focus group did not bear out Peggy’s hypothesis about the benefits of “ritual” face-cleansing. That is rejected. Instead Dr. Faye tells Don that despite her efforts to lead the group, the benefit they want from cold cream is matrimony--- Freddie’s concept. But Don rejects it even though out of the corner of his eye he caught Peggy trying Dr. Faye’s rings on her left ring finger during the focus group viewing. And she’s wearing the hairdo I did in my yearbook picture. That should have been rejected.

Allison is embarrassed, she tells Don. But not about crying. “That really happened.” And we know what “that” is. And she offers to quit. Nowadays she’d sue. Don tries to be a gentleman and when she asks for a good letter of recommendation. He tells her to write it – whatever she wants—and he’ll sign it. She throws a chotchke across the room in Don’s direction, smashing glass. Don’s “kind” offer has been rejected.

At the downtown art scene, Joyce Ramsey’s been rejected by Peggy. And the artist, Davey Kellogg, rejects Peggy’s suggestion that SCDP needs photographers.

And we get to see some interesting soundless vignettes: Peggy’s peeking through the glass on the top of the wall between her office and Don’s when Allison had her snit. And the one I found so amusing: shoeless Bert Cooper seated in the reception area, reading a magazine and eating an apple.

One vignette with dialog flummoxed me: the last one—“Did you get pears?” “We’ll discuss it inside.” What the hell was that about? Don’s alone and living across the hall from a decrepit couple.

Pete uses the Clearasil conflict to pitch a larger piece of Vicks pie. That would mean Pond’s would have to be resigned and bye-bye Freddy.

The coming attractions sizzle and include a return of an irate Betty. I hope for more episodes as well-done as this one. (I rejected last week’s “Good news.” Meh.) Will we see more of Abe the writer Peggy met and kissed at the party? (I hope so. Mark will be rejected.) And let's hope Miss Blankenship continues to be Don's "girl." Great comic relief. More!

Wednesday, August 11

MAD MEN Good news? This is good news? episode 403

Times are changing. We are on the cusp of 1965 for this third episode, “The Good News.” And what is it? Joan’s off the pill and hoping to be able to start a family with her rapist/husband who will be soon off to Viet Nam and not a moment too soon for me. I can’t stand the sight of Greg. His exit and Joan’s freedom would be good news. Hang on to your diaphragm, Joanie! He’s a loser!

Don’s soon off to Acapulco for New Year’s after a little pep talk from California-lover Harry who’s heard Don’s got a 24-hour layover in LA. He urges Don to go to the Brown Derby and meet “Bill Asher.” Bill Asher the producer of “Bewitched”? Why?? What is up with this bizarre moment? Harry also alludes to someone who runs out of gas, and presumably Don (and we?) know who that is. But I certainly don’t.

Lane’s to spend the holiday in London with his wife. But Allison is still there. And all is back to normal. She’s definitely his best secretary since Peggy or Jane. Too bad he schtupped her. But they seem able to pretend nothing happened. If only we could.

Joan sashays into Lane’s office to offer him the chance of fried chicken from “uptown.” But once he realizes it’s a ruse (or a “roos”) so that she can wangle a couple of days off in January, he becomes angry and refuses to allow it. “Don’t go off and cry about it.” Is this what his wife did? Another example of displaced anger, like Don’s throwing the clients out of the office but not the Francis-squatters in his house?

Don on a plane. A red boatlike convertible driving up the coast, Don at the wheel. He arrives at Anna’s cottage, of course. Not a surprise. I knew his LAyover was to see his old friend who tells him he just needs a “little R&R.”

We meet Anna’s sister Patty who seems to know Dick/Don. With her is her daughter, Anna’s niece Stephanie, a cute co-ed in shorts who’s invited to stay. “I wanted him to meet you,” Anna tells her. “And I know you’ve got grass.” It was one thing when Midge and her pals smoked grass. And even Paul and his college buddy and Smitty (and Peggy!) But even a piano teacher in San Pedro. The times are changing.

Anna tells Don/Dick “the young people are going to save us.” A thought a lot of us had back then. Too bad that didn’t quite work out. But what’s obvious here is Anna’s appeal to Don. He can be himself around her, something he’s not able to do anywhere else. About his divorce he tells her, “I could tell the minute [Betty] saw who I really was she never wanted to look at me again. Which is why I never told her.”

But is that true, Don? Didn’t Betty reject you because your life was a lie? It wasn’t enough to make their marriage a joke with his infidelity but his lack of inauthenticity extended to his entire being.

Anna kindly, if not accurately says, “I’m sorry she broke your heart.” I think it’s safe to say that Don broke hers.

Don/Dick (who is “safer” than some “creep” who might pick her up if she hitches) drives Stephanie back home. She makes an interesting point “Nobody knows what’s wrong with themselves and everyone else can see it right away.” Perhaps that’s why his half-hearted attempt at a pass falls flat. But anyway, she tells him that Anna’s riddled with cancer and doesn’t know and they have no intentions of telling her.

Back at Anna’s, Don spends the night sitting on the sofa. Sleepless in San Pedro. In his skivvies, Don/Dick paints the damaged wall for her. Anna says she’s seen UFOs as she plucks a joint out from under her, making a joke about smoking her dress. Sister Patty implores Don/Dick not to tell Anna the truth. Just go to Acapulco, “there’s nothing for you to do here.”

Don/Dick looks at Anna gravely, announcing that he has to tell her something. Pause. We think he’s going to tell her she has cancer. But no, “I have to go.”

Back at SCDP, Joan plucks pencils out of the ceiling panels and throws roses at Lane. His secretary got the cards mixed up and Joan got his apology to his “Darling” wife while the card addressed to Joan went to London. He’s pretty well toast. And so is his girl. Joan fires her.

Don/Dick returns to NY instead of going to Mexico and has his drunken adventure with Lane complete with a bizarre scene in a restaurant when the Brit stands and holds his steak at his groin and yells something. I completely missed the point of that. Except that I think we have seen the last of his whiny NY-hating wife, thank goodness.

And Joan’s near-hysteria over a cut finger tended to by her rapist-MD-husband. What was the point of that? That Joan doubts his medical skills? Or that Greg is a patronizing jerk who tells her the “Donkey Dick” joke to distract her. He will be Donkey Dick to me from now on. This behavior of hers didn't seem consistent with the woman who tied a tournaquet on the lawn mower guy's leg. What is Matt Weiner up to? Is this a test?

I have to say that this was the least enjoyable episode of Mad Men ever. That viewership has plunged since the high of the premiere is not surprising considering Don’s tracjectory. I will stick with it and hope to be rewarded. But it feels sadly similar to my feelings about The Sopranos, a show with much in common with Mad Men. I adored Sopranos from the beginning and then somewhere, I don’t remember exactly, but it stopped being fun and interesting. We kept being taken on tangents for characters I didn’t care about or for and it was no longer worth it. And I drifted away. I hope that doesn’t happen to my current fave show.

Come back, Don Draper and Joan Holloway! More Peggy! Bring back Sal and Paul and Ken!!

Monday, August 2

MAD MEN: "Christmas comes but once a year..." ep. 402

Second episode and I’m still searching for a theme. One thing is very clear: Don’s new love interest has arrived and it’s Dr. Faye Miller, the psychologist whose personality test Don avoided taking. She’s pretty and smart and will stand up to Don, I think, giving her the potential of a Rachel Menken. And after he asks her to dinner and she declines they end on the sour note of her prediction that he’ll marry in a year. Oh, that’s right, she says to an annoyed Don, people don’t like to think they’re “a type.”

And she presents to Don what is our “deepest conflict” which, in a nutshell, she says, is “what I want versus what is expected of me.” Hmmm. That certainly applies to Don who failed at Betty’s expectations while pursuing what he wanted.

What Don wants is to remain unknown while he is expected to seek publicity for the fledging agency, and to give revealing answers about himself in a test.

Don also wants to bang his nameless secretary (although I have seen it as "Allison" in another blog) and is expected by her to be treated differently at the office. How sad that she thought that indiscretion was more like a date. Only he acts as if the squalid little tryst on the couch never happened. Are we seeing more of the unattractive side of this attractive man?

Miss Blank even did his Christmas shopping for the kids and wrapped the presents! And when she brings him the keys to his apartment (how did he get into the building?) she doesn’t just hand them over but opens his door and like his mother, fetches him aspirin, serving it with a glass of water. If the women are objectified, the men are often infantilized.

Worst reality in the episode is how SCDP is totally in the thrall of first-class bully Lee Garner Jr. who last season was responsible for Sal’s unjust firing. Now he’s even more powerful and surely knows that he controls almost three-quarters of the firm’s billings. It’s “jump!” and “how high?” in the Time-Life Building. I would really love to see this weasely little closet-dweller’s comeuppance this season.

Glen is clearly still angry with his mother who’s remarried, and remember how he told Betty “I hate you”? He’s getting his revenge. First by vandalizing the Draper house (but sparing Sally’s room.) Sally recognizes Glen’s knife left in her room. Surely that was intentional and surely she knows the vandal’s identity. She’s not going to rat him out, though, because she’s even angrier at Betty for driving her father out of the house.

It’s through Sally, I predict, that Glen will get his own back. These are two angry children of divorce and remarriage who aren’t afraid to act out. (Sally’s smoking and stealing; Glen’s running away.)

Freddie’s return is a bit of a bright spot and his sobriety seems to have taken root. Too bad his advertising ideas and attitude toward women are so backward. 1964 and he thinks Tallulah Bankhead or Barbara Stanwyk would be great spokespersons (oops, sorry, they never would use that term in ’64) for Pond’s cold cream? And as he says to Peggy, maybe if the young women used Pond’s and got married they wouldn’t be so “angry.” Oh, the old “she’s a bitch because she doesn't have a man" myth.

Peggy is right. Freddie is old-fashioned. But so is she. She wants to sleep with Mark her nebbish boyfriend, although why is beyond me. There is nothing appealing about him. And he thinks she’s refusing to sleep with him because she’s a virgin. And even after they do the nasty he’s still clueless because he asks her if she feels “different.” So again it’s desires versus expections.
But Peggy didn’t play virgin with Duck. And was that because Duck was never more than a fling and Mark is a potential keeper? Peggy, darling! You can do so much better. Take a look at Joey! He’s been flirting with Don’s secretary and drawing her portrait and he's cute and smart.

As ususual, Mad Men leaves us with unanswered questions. What happened to the Duck and Peggy show? Did she find out he abandoned his Irish Setter? (That would be a deal breaker for me.)

When are we going to see Ken Cosgrove again? His name is still in the credits. I miss him and Paul and most especially, Sal.

Funniest line of the episode: Don says Lane has scaled back the party to “a glass of gin and a box of Velveeta.”

Truest line of the episode: Roger reports that his father always said “This is the greatest job in the world except for one thing—the clients.” Oh, yes!

Mad Men will do well to show us more and more how twisted is the relationship between the powerful client and the agency at its mercy. The creatives want to do good work but the client expects them to dance to their tune.

Sunday, August 1

MAD MEN episode 1, season 4 WHO IS DON DRAPER?

The defining question throughout all of Mad Men. Who is Don Draper and what will he – and all of our favorite characters – do next? And where are they now, Thanksgiving 1964, one year after Sterling Cooper and the Drapers imploded?

At one point Betty said she thought she would float away without having Don. (Did she say “Don’s holding me down”?) But perhaps it’s in fact Don who might float away now that he is unmoored from Betty and the kids. He agrees to an interview with Ad Age but then doesn’t give the reporter anything to work with. And it was meant to promote the new SCDP agency. What was he thinking?

And what’s up with Roger? What a really gratuitous quip at the expense of the Ad Age reporter’s prosthetic leg earned in Korea. (“They’re so cheap they can’t even afford a whole reporter.”) When did the sardonic and witty Roger become nasty? I much preferred his remark to Pete who says they don’t have time for a drink. “One quick pop, Louise.” Then they’re off to the Jantzen pitch.

The actor playing Bob the client is utterly believable. I’ve sat across tables with this guy before. The Jantzen clients make themselves plain: they were looking to reach modest customers. That is their market. What Don later produces as a pitch is insane.

Meanwhile we are treated to our first look at the new SCDP offices, last seen as a suite in the Pierre. Why don’t they have a conference table? Why can’t they afford one or was that an affectation? The best shot is seeing Joan in her own office at long last. She’s so competent and capable. She deserves it.

Don’s in a snit because Jantzen is taking pitches from a bunch of agencies. So? That was very common. Why did that offend him? Does it remind him of the competition that won Betty’s heart? Is that it?

Peggy is looking good. She is chicer and more confident and now she’s paired with free-lancer Joey. They keep doing a “John...Marcia...” routine that I remember as a Stan Freberg thing. But why?

Don’s financial advisor tells him he needs to clear the squatters from his former house where he no longer lives but for which he continues to pay through the nose. But Don resists.

Roger’s Jane’s agent fixing Don up with one of her friends. And then we see Don home in his dark little pad and his housekeeper Celia who may be long-suffering. Don barks at her because she put his shine kit away. And within minutes of being home, Don is shining his shoes. Then we see his famous Glo-Coat commercial that Madison Avenue’s buzzing about. Hard to imagine why. It’s not that good. But I do remember Glo-Coat.

And we see Don make his bed before going out on his date with Jane’s friend at Jimmy’s LaGrange. Is he hoping to get lucky? Jane’s friend Bethany seems nice enough although she’s not that different from Betty. She does say the magic words: “mock drinking” “wench” and “courtesan.” Don responds. She does earn points though for being a sport and not minding wearing a bib for the chicken kiev. And for her directness when she says goodnight to Don in the back of the cab outside the Barbizon. I suspect Don likes her for delecting his pass, as exasperated as he might look

And then we are treated to some vintage BMW ads by Marty Puris (of Ammirati & Puris. Will they ever mention DKG? Ally & Gargano? Wells, Rich Greene?)

Peggy and Pete cooked up a PR stunt for Sugarberry ham and pay off the actresses hired to fight over a ham. This is not what ad agencies do.

Don’s Ad Age interview calls him a “handsome cipher” and likens him to Dorian Gray. Disaster.
Roger’s right. It’s a “missed opportunity.”

Ho-Ho is disappointed at not being mentioned in the interview and is withdrawing the Jai Alai account, leaving Lucky Strike as nearly 3/4s of SCDP billings. Bert Cooper wants Don to do another interview, this one with the Wall Street Journal. He’s right. Turning creative success into business is his work and he did fail.

Betty! We see her with her new family, the Francises. If the Draper household was the frying pan, this is the fire. Betty practices her usual parenting skills, shoving a forkful of sweet potatoes into Sally’s sullen mouth only to see it regurgitated onto her plate. Served her right. I’m with Sally who’s made at her mother for driving away her father. That’s how she sees it.

As bizarre as that Thanksgiving tableau is, it cannot compete with Don’s spent being slapped by his regular hooker. Yikes! And Peggy calls for bail money – shades of DUIs past – only it’s for her actress. Sugarberry stunt has exploded in their faces. And then we get to meet Peggy’s friend Mark who tells Don he’s her “fiancé.” He’s holding a chafing dish so they’re probably on their way to dinner. Just a quick stop off at the Tombs.

Betty catches poor Sally trying to phone her Daddy. Sally is going to make her pay! I’ll be rooting for Sally. Betty’s gotten rid of the green headboard. She and Henry have opted for something Colonial rather than mid-century luxe.

Don has his overnight with the kids-minus the baby. Henry and Betty play teenagers in the car.

Bobby and Sally have a bunk bed in the Village and Don claims to be able to sew on a button. Times have changed.

SKY KING! The black and white tv show the kids watch the next morning, I was thrilled to see, was one of my favorites: Sky King although I remember not a thing about it except he was a pilot and his niece? was named Penny.

Betty and Henry miss Betty’s own deadline. And most shockingly, Henry asks why the hell the dog is in the house. They’ve relegated Polly to the yard?? It’s worse than I thought.

Don wants to know when they are vacating. Betty claims not to have found the right place yet. And Henry protests that they’re overstaying their welcome is “temporary.” Which leads to the best line of the whole episode: “Believe me, Henry, everybody thinks this is temporary.”
And then we learn Betty isn’t even looking for another home!

Henry’s mother clearly hates Betty. She calls her a “silly woman” despite his saying (lying) that Betty “loves” her. Pauline Francis wants to know how Henry can live in “that man’s dirt.” Oh, my. There will be many more happy holidays at the Francis home.

Don presents his kamikaze pitch to Jantzen. As a former Madison Avenue copywriter I disapprove of his ad on two grounds: first, he completely disregarded the clients’ direction, which is always fatal. And second, the ad itself is inane.

Now Don has produced some good advertising. I happen to think his Hilton campaign of last season was tremendous. But this? “So well built” says the black strip across the model’s chest, “we can’t show you the second floor.”

HUH? This is a classically bad ad. It uses a pun but it makes no sense. “Well built” comes into it only because a woman can be said to be “well built.” But taken literally, a building that is so “well built” – how could we not show you the second floor? That’s stupid. There’s no pay off to this ad. So it’s just provocative but pointless.

And then Don commits the worst kind of offense. He goes off on the client and insults them. And then, not content with that he throws them out, probably what he’s like to do to the interlopers in the house he’s paying for. No way. No way.

And then Don is forced into doing the WSJ interview where he then lays bare his soul. He tells the reporter how he got Lane Pryce to fire them all. My immediate reaction is that he shouldn’t be saying this and that it’s going to backfire and blow up in Don’s face.

Is Don unraveling? It seems so. What’s exciting is that Matthew Weiner has chosen to remake this show which could have continued with more angst from the Drapers and more hijinks at Sterling Cooper. But the stage has been set for more changes. Despite my quibbles here and there, I can’t wait.