Archive for October, 2010

If Joan of Mad Men had a chat with Miranda of Devil Wears Prada

The best movies and TV shows are ones that have lines you find yourself quoting in your everyday life.

The Devil Wears Prada movie with Meryl Streep is one like that. I watched it again last week. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if the Miranda character (played by Streep) had Joan from Mad Men as a secretary.

So I took some of my favorite lines from both of them and blended them together into something of a conversation – a conversation cocktail, if you will (yes, I know, how silly – but Mad Men is over for the season, as I’ve whined about before, and the judging in last week’s Project Runway was just awful, so humor me ;) ):

MIRANDA: By all means, move at a glacial pace; you know how that thrills me.

JOAN: Well I learned a long time ago to not get all my satisfaction from this job.

MIRANDA: Tell Richard I saw the pictures that he sent for that feature on the female paratroopers and they’re all so deeply unattractive. Is it impossible to find a lovely, slender, female paratrooper? Am I reaching for the stars here? Not really.

JOAN: That’s life. One minute, you’re on top of the world. The next, some secretary is running over your foot with a lawn mower.

MIRANDA: The details of your incompetence do not interest me.

JOAN:  Go ahead-what part is wrong?

MIRANDA: Bore somebody else with your questions.

JOAN: All you’ve done is prove to them that I’m a meaningless secretary, and you’re another humorless bitch.

MIRANDA: Oh, don’t be silly – EVERYONE wants this. Everyone wants to be *us.*

JOAN: Sometimes when people get what they want they realize how limited their goals were.

MIRANDA: That’s all.


Baby Rum (Mini-Saga #11)

She spotted a bottle of Baby Rum and started wondering. Is it to soothe baby’s gums while teething? For treating diaper rash? Or for mom to take a swig of after baby’s bouts of colic? Her eyes brightened at the possibilities.

“It’s BAY Rum, you silly. A cologne!”

“Oops… Alas.”


Six Word Story #14

Ecclesial politics made him severely taciturn.


Mad Men: better than literature and film?

Before I started watching Mad Men, it never would have occurred to me that a story on television could equal – or even surpass – literature. Mad Men does just that.

If you haven’t watched the show, Mad Men is set in a 1960s ad agency. The show isn’t about advertising so much as it is about human nature and exploring the roles of men and women.

Season 4 just ended and not having Mad Men to watch and analyze has knocked me off my rhythm a bit.

So to cheer me up, I’m posting my favorite scene from the season finale – and perhaps of the entire series. This is where Peggy and Joan finally let themselves enjoy some camaraderie and rant about the men in the office:

It’s fun to compare it to this scene in the first episode in the series where Peggy and Joan meet for the first time. They’ve both come a long way since then.

The props and wardrobe are of the period and so fun to look at. I think the show is especially interesting for people born in the 1950s and 1960s because there are so many “my parents had that!” and “I wore that as a kid!” moments.

My parents were married in 1965 and season 4 was set in 1965, so it made me all the more interested in the details of the props, current events and wardrobe. As a result of Mad Men my oldest daughter and I recently paged through my parents’ wedding album to look at all the dresses the women wore then and it sparked some fun conversations. Much to my daughter’s delight my mom gave us her rainbow Pyrex bowls, just like the ones the character Betty has. We’ve acquired a few other 1960s housewares as a result of watching Mad Men.

As hyperbolic as it may sound, Mad Men is a window to the soul at times. There were a couple of times this past season I was reduced to tears out of painful self-recognition while watching a character act out of weakness or when making an emotionally honest statement.

So, if you’re looking for a thoroughly engaging television show to watch, Netflix has Mad Men and it’s also available for instant viewing on iTunes and Amazon.

At least half of the fun in watching the show is reading the commentary online the day after an episode airs. My favorite Mad Men commentary is here and here.

As you watch, keep in mind that a major theme of the show is that actions have consequences. You might not see the consequences in the next episode – or even in the next season. But they do happen.  It will also make you wonder if people (including yourself) ever really do change.  The show is like a novel in progress, and having that time in between episodes to ponder what happened is part of what makes it equal to or even superior to literature and film.


Violin depository (Mini-Saga #10)

“God damnit!”

“You and God must be quite acquainted if you can give him orders like that.”

“Nah. God’s got his phone off the hook. Wouldn’t pick up even if he could”

The professor looked over the footbridge.

“Hell’s bells! What happened to your violin?!”

“I guess it attempted suicide.”

Note: A mini-saga is a story in exactly 50 words, with a title no longer than 15 words. This one is a continuation of  this mini-saga. I decided to see what that red haired college boy was up to. Maybe I’ll bring him out again sometime.


A convo about change

W. H. Auden:

We would rather be ruined than changed.

We would rather die in our dread

Than climb the cross of the present

And let our illusions die.

John Steinbeck:

Men do change, and change comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass. Change may be announced by a small ache, so that you think you’re catching cold. Or you may feel a faint disgust for something you loved yesterday. It may even take the form of a hunger that peanuts will not satisfy. Isn’t overeating said to be one of the strongest symptoms of discontent? And isn’t discontent the lever of change?

Sources: John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday (p. 18) and W. H. Auden’s Age of Anxiety poem.


Six Word Story #12 & #13 (A tribute to Steinbeck’s Cannery Row)

Men scooped hysterical frogs like berries.


That’s my six word summary of my favorite scene in John Steinbeck’s Cannery Row novel.

I’m on a John Steinbeck kick right now. Many of his novels are under 200 pages and can be read quickly.

I love his clear writing style. I sit there enthralled even when he’s describing how a character is fixing a Model T engine.

And did I mention the frogs?

If you haven’t read Steinbeck, or are looking for a short novel to read, then I recommend Cannery Row. (If you’ve already read Cannery Row, check out Sweet Thursday, the sequel. The Cannery Row Wikipedia page has some interesting info as well.)

Here’s the opening sentence of Cannery Row:

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.

Oh, heck. I can’t stop there. Here’s the whole opening paragraph:

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream. Cannery row is the gathered and scattered, tin and iron and rust and splintered wood, chipped pavement and weedy lots and junk heaps, sardine canneries of corrugated iron, honky tonks, restaurants and whore houses, and little crowded groceries, and laboratories and flophouses. Its inhabitants are, as the man once said, “whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,” by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, “Saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,” and he would have meant the same thing.

See? Lures you right in.

There is only one main female character in the book – Dora, who runs the whore house.

This might seem unfortunate but, even though her work is unsavory, she’s the most generous character in the book. She’s the one that sits by the bedsides of ill people when influenza strikes; she’s the one who suffered the most financially during the Depression because she gave so much to her neighbors; she’s the one who gives the most money to local charities.

Which goes back to that opening paragraph, where depending on how you look at someone, they are either a whore or an angel.

Now that I think about it, the last scene of the book might be my favorite. Dora and a group of frowzy men are gathered around while Doc reads poetry (not your typical poetry reading). If I were to write a six word story about that scene, it would be this:

Remembering lost loves, Dora breathed beauty.


Repository of Projections (Mini-Saga #9)

He came from an intense household. His red hair and love for music reminded his mother of his dead father, which made her drink. It made his grandmother glad. He carried their projections along with his violin case down Bascom Hill. A big concert tonight. He paused on the footbridge.


Six Word Story #11

He came from an intense household.


Six Word Story #10

Broken wrist. Broken violin. Broken dream.