Our Weekly Mad Men Column: Liz & LJ on "The Forecast"


LJ: Oh cool, a new character! Yup, I'm talking about this schmo: 

Wow! I just spent such a long time mulling over whether to refer to this grosso as an "ugmo" or a "schmo"; I really thought "ugmo" was going to take it, but then "schmo" crept in and triumphed in the end. Good for you, "schmo." You earned this.

Anyway, I hate this guy. I was being 1000% sarcastic when I said "Oh cool, a new character"- In case you missed last week's instalment of Our Weekly Mad Men Column, I came up with this thing where my Final Season of Mad Men Motto is "NO NEW CHARACTERS!" This week, I have slightly amended my motto to feature the all-caps and an exclamation point. It's a very passionate topic for me. 

What's this guy's name again? I'm about 80% sure it's "Richard," but I'm not even going to bother checking, because I don't want to dignify him by putting any effort into admitting he exists. I watched "The Forecast" for the second time while drinking a weird Chilean Riesling at 2 AM last night, and in the "Richard(?)" section of my notes, I wrote down: "Sexy yogurt commercial voice," and then there's an arrow pointing to the word "yogurt," and next to it I've written "Trying to make yogurt seem decadent." What I mean to say is: he sounds like the voiceover from a commercial for 30-calorie cartons of key lime pie or cherry aspartame cheesecake-flavored yogurt that the yogurt manufacturer is trying to brainwash women into believing will satisfy their craving for an actual good dessert. The other major thing his voice reminds me of is the cartoon lizard named "Rango." I have never seen the movie Rango, and understand that the real Rango was voiced by Johnny Depp; I'm merely suggesting that if they ever decide to make a straight-to-video Rango sequel, this actor would be a good choice for taking over as the voice actor. I should be his agent. 

I found it a little upsetting that Matthew Weiner thinks this is the kind of guy Joan should go for. A yogurt-voiced sixty-year-old with an ascot and a pale blue polyester jacket, a chunky bronze ring and an even chunkier I.D. bracelet. Barf. While I recognise that different people have different tastes in things and accept the fact that yeah, no kidding, Joan and I would definitely go after different sorts of men- I still think that just because you're the kind of person who wouldn't be revolted by a leathery-skinned real estate developer who says "free as a bird," it doesn't mean that you're dying to end up with him. 

That being said, Joan really killed it all episode. Clearly, the "I'm choosing my son over you" monologue was her shining star, but I also really loved "Must be real radicals to prefer low-income housing to a golf course," to which her ugmo boyfriend replied, "Who's side are you on?"- ew. Not yours. The one thing the ugmo boyfriend did that I liked was when Joan was on the phone with her aggressively-bespectacled babysitter (whose Buddy Holly glasses did not match her flowy hippie caftan and jeans), and he wandered over to the ice bucket and said "Ice! That's the sign of a good hotel" or whatever. I don't know, I thought that was kind of a cool point. 

Pegs spent a lot of this episode fuming. Just storming through the SC&P office, gritting her teeth and seething. I guess she never went to Paris with Stevie. Or maybe she did, and it was just that unexceptional. I liked this little outfit of hers. It reminded me of saltwater taffy. 
However, this week my Mad Men Outfit Of The Week (a new Mad Men sweepstakes I just invented) award goes to... Sally little's brown number! (first runner-up is Joan's sparkly blue thing. Dead last goes to a tie between every single the schmo wore)

I was pretty into Don this week. He was really Sterling Cooper-ing it up. You know? He is fully back into the having a job swing of things. He goes on his introspective little "The Forecast"-y adventure with himself, but for the most part, he's just a guy at work, doing the job an organisation is paying him to do. He faces a couple management challenges, deals with them generally effectively, looks out a window, uses a Dictaphone- classic "Don in the office" behavior.

I feel like he's secretly thrilled that his personal life's a failure, as it gives him an excuse to throw 100% of his energy back into his work. I love how, more than anything, Mad Men is a show about a bunch of people who use work to distract themselves from how profoundly they hate their lives. 

Ted Chaough took ten million years to awkwardly rip off a chunk of donut using only one hand and it made me want to sing him the "Even when I'm with my boo, boy you know I'm crazy about you" part from "Dilemma" by Nelly & Kelly Rowland. And of course by "with my boo" I mean "lying in bed with my boyfriend watching this week's episode of Mad Men on my MacBook Air." 

This episode made me nostalgic for when Glen used to be a fat little baby who looked like Matthew Friedberger. At this point, everybody in the world knows that Glen is played by Matthew Weiner's son, Marten Weiner, but what we don't talk about enough is how weird it is that Matthew Weiner chose to spell his son Martin's name as Marten, like a pine marten. Is it a pine marten reference? Also, Marten Weiner is sometimes credited as Marten Holden Weiner- of course Matthew Weiner is the kind of guy who would name one of his kids after Holden Caulfield. Sometimes, when people I went to high school appear on Facebook cuddling their new babies named Holden, I want to high-five and low-five JD Salinger so hard for being a recluse all his life. You should see the kind of basics who are naming their kids Holden these days! 

Betty Draper is Mad Man of the Week this week. Everything she said and did was really chill and classy and sensible. My favourite part of the entire episode was when Sally freaked out about Glen going to Vietnam and then Betty smoothed the whole thing out by coolly telling him, "Don't let this mar your afternoon." I loved "Don't let this mar your afternoon" so much! It was such a mature thing to say. I feel like, if I were Glen or Glen's girlfriend, it would have really helped me move on with my day. I would have had a grand old time at Playland after all.

I love how sweetly happy Betty looks every time she tells someone she's going back to school, I love her for being affiliated with January Jones' incredibly-loveable Instagram account, and I love her for resisting the urge to make out with Glen, which would have been the worst choice in the world. She is a fully-grown Betty. She is in full bloom.  

LIZ: Joanie is so excited about her French toast! At first when she ordered the skim milk, grapefruit, and pot of coffee I was all, "REALLY????" But then she just went for it - she's in California, with her beautiful nightgown and frilly sleep mask, and that pretty pink get-up. But yeah, I agree with everything LJ said about Sad-Yogurt Voice. He dresses like Mr. Furley. Except Mr. Furley is somehow way more chill, what with his not yelling at women about their life choices in hotel rooms and all. 

Is that a beer? Is Don just walking around the office, drinking a beer? That's a cool move. Also: Roger's boots! I don't care about the Gettysburg Address or the Bahamas, although I suppose I'm vaguely curious as to the frothy tropical cocktails Roger's going to drink there.

As soon as the doorbell rang at the Francis house I said to myself, "THAT BETTER NOT BE WHO I THINK IT IS." But of course it was Glen Bishop. I mean who else could it ever possibly be, really. And in the end it was 78% worth Glen Bishop showing up, for that moment when he's in the kitchen with Betty and tells her, "Everything was peaches and cream." It's very original to use the expression "peaches and cream" and somehow make it all foreboding.

Sally's room is adorable, but does she really have no posters on the wall? Isn't she, like, 16? Or 17? Maybe Betty doesn't let her hang posters; maybe that's why her room's so cleanly decorated. But I'm dying to know what Sally's into these days, music-wise. One of my favorite albums that came out in 1970 is Fun House by the Stooges and while I realize it's way too soon for Sally to get into all that, hopefully at some point she'll have a cool little Iggy phase. When The Idiot comes out she'll be in her mid-20s, and I think the Bowie-ness of that record will suit her quite nicely. She'll look so great, boredly smoking while "Sister Midnight" plays at some crazy party in Alphabet City.

All I have to say about this moment is (1) Sally looks so tough, throwing shade, and (2) I think Don and Sally are going to be okay. Even if he's oozy and embarrassing, he keeps it pretty real with her, and that counts a lot.

I agree that Ted Chaough is so beautiful with his donut. He looks so calm and totally okay with his life. I don't relate to getting all moony-eyed as I gaze off into the distance, dreaming about landing a pharmaceutical company, but I do appreciate his cool pointing. My friend Paul was recently teasing me about how apparently I often point as a means of accentuating something I've just said, and my hope is that my pointing is very Ted Chaough-esque in its chill intensity.

And I'm posting the vending machine shot again, because of course I am. On Twitter LJ's buddy Matt asked the very important question "what did Don Draper buy from the vending machine?", and I've been thinking about that a lot. My guess is Don went with the Baby Ruth, because Baby Ruth seems...I don't know, manly? Because of baseball? Although Clark Bars and 100 Grands are both pretty classic and no-bullshit, just like our old pal Don. And no way he went for the Butterfinger or Jujy Fruits; those both get stuck in your teeth, and Don Draper ain't got time for that. Mike and Ikes are useless and I refuse to dignify their existence, and "Snik Snaks" are way too cutesy, and I really hope that Don didn't get himself a Hershey's bar and then go hide in his office and brood about prostitutes. I feel like he's beyond that now. He's getting his act together, in his own elegantly sloppy, Don Draper-y way.

So either the Baby Ruth, the Clark Bar, the 100 Grand, or the M&Ms - if only so he can do that dumb thing of shaking the M&Ms out into his palm and then tossing each one into his mouth with lots of showboaty flair, and somehow make it all look hot.

Another confusing moment about this scene: what was that look that Don gave Peggy and Pete as they each huffed off in opposite directions? Was it something like, "Huh - did those two...secretly conceive a child at some point?" Or maybe it was, "God, I'm really gonna miss these guys when Mad Men's over in four weeks and none of us works here anymore." But most likely it was to keep with the whole "Forecast" theme of Don Draper being left standing alone in hallways or bus stations while everyone else moves on with his/her life. Whatever, I don't feel bad for him. This probably has lots to do with my being a pathological optimist, but I'm generally of the opinion that Don Draper's going to work everything out and be fine forever. Like he said: he's got imagination.


Our Weekly Mad Men Column: Liz & LJ on "New Business"

LJ: Who cares about Pima? Who cares about Diana? Who cares about "Marie-France"? Why is Matthew Weiner doing this to me? Does he not realise how little time I have left to experience the precious experience of finding out new news about my best friends in the world Don, Pete, Roger, Peggy, and Joan? Why is wasting my valuable Don, Pete, Roger, Peggy, and Joan time on losers like Pima? I hate Pima! Did any of you not hate Pima? Were any of you not taken aback by the intense ugliness of her vest, fat tie, and waistchain (Wait- is it called a waistchain? What is that weird-ass piece of jewellery even called? (Just kidding- Please never tell me. It's irrelevant.))? Is Pima going to be a recurring character? I can't decide which is worse: Pima being on the show again and having to continue learning information about her, or Pima never being on the show again and being forced to come to terms with how deeply Matthew Weiner wasted my time by having her on the show this time. My least favorite Pima moment was definitely when she asked Peggy if she'd ever been married and Pegs said no and then Pima was like "Me neither- ah, the adventures I would have missed" and you're just like "OKAY Pima, we get it, you've obviously fucked a billion people and are probably the world's foremost expert on, like, arrondisements. And no, I don't want to hear about the time you went to Copenhagen with Gertrude Stein." 

I'm pretty whatevs about Diana, but she's fine compared to Pima. She had some pretty cool lines at the beginning of the ep, before she got all ham-fistedly nouveau-Dick Whitman on us. I thought it was hot when Don asked her if she wanted a drink and she said "I'm already drunk" completely non-sloppily. I had really high hopes for Diana, at that moment. I was like, "Oooh, Diana, you're such a Don!" But as soon as her whole "second life in Racine" thing was revealed, I lost my ability to feel in any way invested in her storyline. No new characters! That's my final season of Mad Men motto. It's the me watching Mad Men equivalent of when people on the Internet say "No new friends."  

loved Don this episode! My old friend Don. He was so strangely sweet, and I nearly died (don't worry, just of cuteness) when he told Diana "I'm just pleased you're not cross." I'm just pleased you're not crossIt's a pretty normal thing for a British person to say, an old British person that is (but I guess just a regular-aged British person, back in 1970), and I think it would sound phony if 99.99999infinity% of North Americans said it, but somehow Don Draper managed to be the ONE American guy who could pull it off. Speaking of British people- is anyone else pissed about how Mad Men has thus far neglected to mention the Beatles' recent break-up? Probably not. Probably only Liz and I. But still! How hard would it have been for them to throw that little tidbit of information into some minor scene? Just make, like, Mathis say it. Or Ed! As far as tertiary characters from the copywriting department go, I'm only really into Ed. Remember how cute it was when he asked Peggy "I want you to be honest- should I let my hair grow out?" and then she ignored him? I say: "Sure, Ed!" I could definitely go for some new "Ed's hair" material to write about. He's the lone exception to my "No new Mad friends" rule. 

Today I decided that, from now on, I'm going to end my installments of Our Weekly Mad Men Column by appointing the Mad Men character who did the best job of being loveable to me my "Mad Man Of The Week." This week's first runner-up for Mad Man Of The Week was Marie Calvet, for being a general badass re: the whole selling all Don's furniture deal (Cool move, dude! Seriously cool move) and for saying "Let her go cry in church" about her losery daughter Marie-France, who in retrospect might have brought even less to the Mad Men table than Pima, and certainly gave Pima a run for her money in the Stupidest Name Of The Week contest I've secretly been running in my head this whole time (In the end, Pima took the cake. Stevie won last week; historically, Duck Phillips has won a lot too). But this week, the ultimate Mad Man Of The Week prize goes to...

Pete! For "Jiminy Christmas" and for cigarette-shaming Don, for "You're going to rent pants?" and for replying to Don's too cool for school "I'll throw my tie over my shoulder and roll up my sleeves- they'll love it" with a scathing "They probably will," and storming out of the office in the Pete Campbelliest huff that Pete Campbell ever Pete Campbelled. I'm so grateful for how Pete Campbell is always there to remind me that I'm not the only person in the world who JUST CAN'T WIN. He's the Patron Saint of the Down-on-their-Luck, which, when you think about it, is a very noble thing to be.

PS: Can you believe that Sekor Laxatives is still around? It BLEW MY MIND when Sekor (Sekor? C-Kor, Seeckor... whatever) Laxatives came up in that Roger, Caroline and Shirley scene. Seriously! SC&P have managed to hang onto that account since Season One! Amazing work, whoever's account that is! (Probably Pete.) 

LIZ: How do we feel about Stan's girlfriend? I wasn't totally on board until Pima started talking shit about Elaine being "overdeveloped" and unworthy, and then I instantly went full-on TEAM ELAINE. I'm glad she's a nurse, and one of those nurses who's constantly in her nursing uniform, like Terri on Three's Company. When Stan Rizzo has his Mad Men spinoff set in Venice Beach, she and Terri can be nurse friends, and Stan and Jack Tripper will be such deep bros. I've also decided that when Venice Stan goes to the taco stand he gets a minimum of five tacos, and at least one is something adventurous like buche. Stan Rizzo's got "adventurous eater" written all over him.

I also like the Richard Prince-y vibes of Elaine's nurseness. If Elaine were a Richard Prince painting, she'd be Second-Chance Nurse:

But overall I agree with LJ on "no new characters." Really the only Diana-related thing that interested me in this episode was when she first came over to Don's place and he did that thing of pressing his nose into the crown of her head. Such a weirdly intimate expression of affection, for someone you've spent a total of about 17 minutes with. In that moment I felt the easiest kinship I've felt with Don Draper since that day in the beginning of the seventh season when he was eating a candy bar and drinking a Coke at the same time. Sometimes Don is just some weird kid who wants things to be sweet.

Megan is constantly drinking white wine in the middle of the day! This is by far the best thing about Megan. Look at the size of that bottle. I also liked when she told her sister: "It's a sin to be a ghoul." It's rare to work a word like "ghoul" into conversation and actually make a fairly insightful point. Thanks to Megan Draper and dictionary.com, I now know that one definition of "ghoul" is "a person who revels in what is revolting." 

Sally's room is so great, but - where on god's green earth is Sally? I heard somewhere that some of the remaining Mad Men episodes are going to be longer than usual, so hopefully next week will be like six hours of hanging out with Sally at boarding school, listening to Melanie or Simon & Garfunkel or Carpenters records, sneaking cigarettes, reading this weird issue of Teen magazine, ideally with zero Glen Bishop presence (sorry, I've got a high Glen Bishop tolerance, but I don't wanna waste my remaining Mad Men time on him either).

I'm always curious as to what Don's opinion on the art department's "Work Smarter Not Harder" poster might be. I'm guessing it's maybe similar to my feeling about that Cheryl Strayed "Write Like a Motherfucker" mug, which I find both cute and vaguely distasteful in its cuteness. Something in me just bristles at the notion of cutesifying what should be internalized, and I'm pretty sure that old nose-kiss Don Draper would side with me on that.

I also agree that Pete Campbell is the best person in the world. I love how fat he is now. I mean really he's not even remotely fat, but he's definitely a bit puffed up, worlds away from Chip-n'-Dip-era Pete. And I'm dying to know what song's playing in his car during the driving scene: some site called TuneFind.com says it's "The Train" by The Souls, but I can't dig up any other evidence of that song existing. I've tried listening closely to the Pete's-radio song, but to me all it really sounds like is Foxygen. It actually probably is Foxygen. Pete Campbell's always been way ahead of the curve.


Our Weekly Mad Men Column: Liz & LJ on "Severance"


LJ: So! Here we are! It's finally happened for us. It's April of 2015! Mad Men is ending, I moved to England, and I'm turning thirty in June. My life, for so long, has been focused on my own fanatic desire to find out the answer to the question: "What will my life be like when Mad Men is ending, I'm about to turn thirty, and I live in England?" Now I know! The answer is: "Pretty cool, m8." But also pretty boring, since that's just life's style. Even Mad Men is kind of boring! You know? Mad Men season premieres are the most boring episodes of Mad Men around. I'm always a little bit let down by them, and then I pretend I'm less let down by them than I actually am since I'm such a passionate Mad Men lover and I feel guilty speaking a single word against it. The first episode airs and the texts from all my Mad Men friends start rolling in, and I'm all "Yeah! Roger Sterling's mustache! Oh my God! So crazy!" but it's not that crazy, guys, is it? It's a pretty natural progression, for Roger.

Something I like is that Roger and Ted Chaough are the two characters they chose to give cool 1970s mustaches to. Imagine if three seasons ago someone was like "What is the major characteristic that Roger Sterling and Ted Chaough have in common?" You would have been like "I'm stumped." But now it's April of 2015, and we're all like fifty billion years old, and the answer is "A mustache." So cool how now we're all so wise. I love it about myself. This wisdom. 

I just realized in the middle of writing this post that you can't screen-cap episodes of Mad Men you downloaded off iTunes, which has really screwed over my ability to represent my Mad Men opinions perfectly. I just looked up "Ted Chaough mustache" on Google and found a bunch of GIFs from a Buzzfeed post entitled "We need to talk about those epic mustaches on Mad Men," which I disagree with. I don't think we need to talk about "those epic mustaches on Mad Men" anymore, or ever again really. Let's just accept that they exist, and then move on. But don't worry guys!!! I am more than okay with talking about the big reveal of the night... 

Ken's eye. 

Ken's eye. Ken's eye! "Seeing Ken's eye" was the most exciting that happened on this week's episode of Mad Men by far. I think so much about Ken's eye. I guess it's gone, huh? The eye itself, I mean. The eyeball. I guess his weird, wet, purplish, fluttery eyelid is covering up a big ol' socketful of NOTHING. Nada. I'm glad to finally find out the truth about Ken's eye, as I was unclear about what was up with Ken's eye for all of last season. (the truth is: he has no eye). I liked when his wife said "You gave them your eye!"- so few situations exist where that could be an appropriate sentence to say! I don't understand why Ken is so chill about having his eye blown out of his skull and now only having one eye forever. I get that he's supposed to be a relatively happy-go-lucky character, but losing an eye? I, personally, have an extremely minor eye disorder called Dry Eye Syndrome, and I freak out about it, like, once a day

Here's Don. Don and I got off to a good start in this episode- I thought it was really cool and impressive how he was telling his bevy of hot babes and best pal Rodge a hilarious anecdote about his whorehouse past. If I were Don's therapist, I would be really proud of him him for doing that. I think it was the most psychologically healthy thing I've ever seen Don do. That, tied with the time he went swimming and wrote in a notebook. 

After that "breakthrough," things went downhill for Don and I. He mostly bored me. When he went to Rachel Menken's shiva his eyes looked like two pinpricks, like a cartoon character's eyes, like two pools of pure black. That was interesting to me. 

I can tell that this is going to be one of those seasons of Mad Men where I relate to Peggy Olson A LOT. I just started a new job that I care about, so I've got a bit of an "I've got something to prove" mindset going on. When it comes to our behaviour in the workplace, Peggy Olson and I share a similar approach to constantly undermining our own excellence: so tense! I feel like it would be cliche to use the word "defensive" here. 

I think Peggy's biggest problem here was that she was drinking red wine- at an Italian restaurant in 1970, so it must have been Chianti. Peggy Olson's not a Chianti drinker, that's just obvious. If I could do anything in the world with Peggy Olson, I'd play her the new Courtney Barnett record and we'd share a bottle of white Burgundy. I hope she goes to London instead of Paris. She'd like it here. How repressed people are. 

Stan, of course, was the real star of this episode for me. I like how Stan just pops up for about thirty seconds per episode to be SO FUCKING CHILL and have THE RIGHT IDEA ABOUT EVERYTHING and wear nope not one but TWO smashing pieces of turquoise jewellery in "Severence"'s case. This was my favorite scene of the episode, when Peggy's being the hugest downer ever and wearing a crumpled orange vest and skirt combo as her dumpy hangover outfit, telling her cool confidante <3Stan<3 about her barely-embarrassing post-drunk France predicament and his body language is so breezy, so involved, and he says "Sounds like fun!" in such an easy, honest way, and his voice is like a grizzly bear speaking- okay, I just decided that my ultimate Mad Men outcome is for Peggy and Stan to end up together, and I want Stan to be the guy she goes to London not Paris with. Stan would love London! He'd feel so at home at a pub with "Arms" in the name. 

LIZ: I'm so happy Peggy Olson's in love with Brian Krakow now! It completely makes up for him never winning over Angela Chase. And he looks so good, with his vastly more managed hair. I love how awkwardly he rubs his palms together in that "Let's eat! Mangiamo!" gesture when their food arrives. And I'm proud of Peggy for bouncing back from the whole debacle with the lasagna and the veal, and from "Stevie"'s weirdly bitchy handling of all that. I worry that, if placed in the same situation, I would've gone all "Uh-oh, weak-willed. MAYDAY, MAYDAY!" But Peggy does that nice little pivot. She's so grown up now. She's really come a long way from "So...you drive a truck." So here's Stevie in Mr. Katimski's class, making cool points about how Peggy Olson's eyes are nothing like the sun:

But for me the star of the show was absolutely Kenny. I love his PJs and how he leaves them unbuttoned to reveal his cute belly and surprisingly abundant chest hair! I love his spitty delivery of the words "Ferg's feelings" in the meeting with Ferg and Roger. I love that little "Hmph!" sound he makes after Don walks away from the phone booth. I think it's so funny how he's already thought about how cool he'd look on a book jacket. Also, he's probably the best dad in the world, or at least on Mad Men. Second-best is Don - who's really trying with Sally and who will forever be one of my all-time favorite fictional dads because of that time he called Gene "honey" in season 4 - and at the bottom of the barrel is Pete. I love the hell out of Pete Campbell, but his reading of Goodnight Moon to Tammy in season 5 was so goddamn creepy. Although I do give him snaps for bringing it all back around later in that episode, when he's fighting with Trudy about hating Cos Cob and shouts "There's no goodnight noises anywhere!" Maybe Pete really is a writer.

But yeah, in addition to the eye comment, I thought Jennifer's telling Ken he should write "something sad and sweet for all the people who don't have the guts to live their dream" was pretty bizarro. But also kind of on-point. Maybe that's what I'll say to people from now on, when they ask me what I'm writing.

God, Joanie's retail therapy sesh was so depressing. Though I did appreciate how "I can wear that with boots" was the deciding factor on one of the dresses. All I want for the end of Mad Men is for (1) Joan and Don to be cool, (2) Joan and Peggy to be cool, (3) Joan to get everything she wants for the rest of her life and never have to deal with smug slimy losery sleazebags ever again.

The scene with Don and Rachel Menken's sister really got to me. The whole I-hate-you-but-I-get-why-my-sister-loved-you dynamic is so beautifully played. Also I just really love it when Don Draper cries. I never not cry when Don Draper cries.

A few more points:

-Stoked that Don's back in his old office. And it's nice how he put Lane's Mets pennant up on the wall.

-Oh my god, when the Topaz guy calls Harry "Mr. Potato Head," and then in the next shot Harry looks exactly like Mr. Potato Head: genius! Love a good Mad Men sight gag.

-Is Ted Chaough divorced? Is that why he's allowed to have Don over to his apartment to pre-game the Vogue party? Super-curious. I even wrote in my notebook "Ted Chaough: divorced?", my second time watching this episode.

-I like Elizabeth Reaser. When she was on True Detective for three seconds, I was still holding a grudge against her for being in the terrible and hateful movie Young Adult. I'm over it now. She should break out of the "boring/adoring wife/girlfriend" role more often.

-And I had to include my own Stan screencap because (1) Stan Rizzo all the time forever and (2) I wanted to show off his cool mood ring. I love how in each season Stan Rizzo becomes more and more groovy and further and further away from his obnoxious, boxy-bodied frat-boy-nudist self of season 4. Let's have a spinoff where Stan Rizzo goes away to California like he always wanted, and lives in Venice on the boardwalk and drinks beer in beach bars all the time, and gets a cool bartender girlfriend, smartly avoiding the whole totally-played-out Laurel Canyon scene. I really wanna know what Stan Rizzo's favorite band is, though my money's on Creedence Clearwater Revival.


Thing of the Week: Tobias Jesso Jr., Courtney Barnett, Herzog's Journals & Mick Jagger's Shoulder

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEKGoon by Tobias Jesso Jr

(This beautiful photograph of beautiful Burrito King is from our pal Elizabeth Barker's Instagram and I'm in love with it. The baby donkey who is the Burrito King logo is the cutest thing in the world to me and upstages Tobias Jesso Jr on every possible level)

I first heard about Tobias Jesso Jr on somebody who isn't Elizabeth Barker's Instagram and my brain memorized his name without trying- the kooky vowelly sounds of the words Jesso Junior Jesso Junior Jesso Junior were so damned appealing to it. I had the words Jesso Junior Jesso Junior Jesso Junior stuck in my head, like a song, for days. I finally got around to looking him up on the iTunes store and the iTunes store said that "it'd be easy to mistake Tobias Jesso Jr for an AM heartbreaker from a bygone era," and then my brain skipped over a bunch of other words because it zeroed in on "Todd Rundgren," which was good enough. I was sold. 

I think Todd Rundgren is such a cool musical influence to successfully pull off having. Todd Rundgren songs would be so uncool if they were written by anyone in the world except Todd Rundgren. The only person who makes uncool songs seem as cool as Todd Rundgren does is Paul McCartney, who barely even counts as a person. He's more like... all the best parts of an adorable animal mixed with all the best parts of a divine being from an ancient fable mixed with the business savvy and people skills of a super-hot Parisian businessman from, like, 1910. 

Tobias Jesso Jr is none of those things, but his uncool songs are only about 5% less cool than Todd Rundgren's. He's a Canadian Cancerian who was born in 1985- exact same as I am! Those are three such incredibly major parts of my identity. I don't know how I could ever hate any art made by a person who had that much in common with me. Even if I hated the person's art superficially, I would probably force myself to defensively love it anyway, because I'm obsessed with myself, and that's just how I roll. 

I first listened to Tobias Jesso Jr's album Goon on an early morning two weeks ago, waiting to catch the bus number 393 to Kentish Town on the morning of the day of the solar eclipse. The bus stop was across the street from the pink house that looks like a pink cake with mouldings shaped like pearl necklaces draped across it which I always try to take a beautiful picture of, but unfortunately it is not very photogenic. It was grey out, since there was an eclipse of the sun, but then there was some weird off note in the eclipsey air that made it look and feel more brown than anything. "Can We Still Be Friends" was the first Jesso Junior Jesso Junior Jesso Junior song I fell in love with. I wanted to love it so bad- giving a song you wrote the exact same title as a famous song by someone who is obviously one of your major influences is such a weird, cool move- and then I heard it and thought "Eh" until it got to the And then one night he arrives part and his voice turns into this silky, creamy yogurt parfait of a voice, and the melody sounds like a mix between Let Me Roll It by Paul McCartney and one of the famouser hits off the first Fiona Apple record i.e. Shadowboxer and the sound of turning a record player setting from either 45 to 33 or 33 to 45, whichever one makes the song go slower. Then he sings the cute lyric Just pick up the phone and hope it ain't the busy tone, which  makes me feel so nostalgic for the golden ages of Tobias Jesso Jr and I's respectful childhoods, which were occurring simultaneously back in 1989 through 93. I was recently having a conversation with a co-worker about how depressing it is that we'll never get to hear the sound of a dial tone again. So it kind of reminds me of that. 

"Crocodile Tears," though, that's the one that really hits it, for me. The version in the Youtube video I've posted above is sped up from the album version, for some useless Youtubey reason, and it's not good enough. It doesn't fully explain why I need to listen to this song about seventy-nine times per day every day. So please go listen to the REAL "Crocodile Tears" on iTunes as soon as you have a spare moment. It's a really perfect, special song, and I'd love to find out about somebody else finding out they couldn't live without it, same way as I can't. 

I'll probably love "Crocodile Tears" as much as I love "Crocodile Tears" today when I'm seventy-nine years old and have listened to it seventy-nine thousand times and could still stand to hear it at least another seventy-nine hundred. It's one of those songs that you only have to hear once to figure out that it's been in your heart and blood and bones since before it, or you, existed. In the middle of the song there's a guitar solo. Who cares about guitar solos? I barely do. Soloing, in general, is a bit of an embarrassing concept. But this is a good one. I like to listen to this guitar solo and pretend that it's George Harrison playing it. I like to listen to this song and imagine up stories about the <3 main character in my novel <3. To the tune of this song she is packing up her suitcase and then riding along a moving sidewalk at an airport like Benjamin Braddock but actually more like Don Draper, even though she'd disagree with me about that. She is leaving L.A. and flying back to London. After she arrives, she picks up her whippet from her brother's house, gets into bed, and cries. "Crocodile Tears" is the most chipper piece of art about crying I've ever heard, seen, or met. Which is my EXACT steez. 

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEKSometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit by Courtney Barnett

My favorite thing about Courtney Barnett putting out her first album, apart from the perfect album itself, is how there's all these in-depth Courtney Barnett interviews happening right now. I love Amanda Petrusich's interview, where Amanda makes a great point about how "music lives outside its maker" and how - once a song's out in the world - the songwriter herself becomes just another listener. And I love the Rolling Stone interview, especially the part about how Courtney found her narrative voice, and how that partly came from being bad at meditating. 

My iTunes pre-order of Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit became available two Sunday nights ago, after I'd gone on a big walk around Echo Park and taken the above photograph of an abandoned house where the roses are still blooming beautifully. I think my fave song is "Pedestrian at Best": I love the yelling, I love yelling along with Courtney when she sings "I'm fake, I'm phony, I'm awake, I'm lonely, I'm homely, I'M A SCORPIO!!!!!" - except I change the "Scorpio" to "Capricorn," because that's me. And I have a theory that the guitar melody to "Depreston" is altering the cells of my brain and body to help me process what I'll call "the soft frustrations of adulthood" in a way that's gracefully melancholic rather than bratty and self-pitying. But the song that means the most to me on some levels is "Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go to the Party": the chorus says "I wanna go out but I wanna stay home," and that's a tension I very much relate to. 

One of the best things I started doing in the past year is listening to Brian Koppelman interview artists, writers, musicians, and other makers-of-things about how and why they do what they do. His show's called The Moment, and last December he posted an interview with Lydia Loveless, which I highly recommend even if you've never actually heard Lydia Loveless. At the beginning of the interview they talked about her childhood, and Brian said how in social situations creative people often "feel like outsiders because they see and process things at a different speed from other people." And for me it was one of those instances where there's something you've deeply known almost your entire life, but you've never heard that something articulated so precisely. Despite being a 37-year-old woman rather than a child, I still have a hard time gauging when going out is going to feel good and fun and exciting and when I'm going to have that outsider-y feeling (and in a draggy, lonesome way that's got none of the self-satisfied high that can come from feeling apart). Sometimes when I stay home instead of going out it's so I can work on my book, but other times it's just to take a break from the world and listen to things or read things or watch things so I can get up and write in the morning, feeling all fresh and new.

(Courtney Barnett, sitting and thinking)

Last weekend I went out three whole nights in a row, and all of the nights were good. On Friday I saw Sophie and A.G. Cook at Echoplex; it was fantastic and all the kids were dancing their faces off and smoking massive amounts of weed. On Saturday I went to Meg's birthday party at Sassafras and drank one drink that was tequila, tomato jam, and ancho chile liqueur, and another drink that was whiskey and sherry and raspberries and strawberries, and I got into a heavy discussion with Nick about the 1972 Andes flight disaster, as you do on a Saturday night in the heart of Hollywood. And on Sunday I had fried chicken and beer at Plan Check and then went to see Dana Carvey and Will Forte at Largo. Dana Carvey was so wonderful. I really never think about Dana Carvey, but being in a very small room with him made me realize how he's someone I've adored for almost my whole life. He's still this cute sweet goof, with such a warm and gentle way about him, and over the past week I've rewatched this bit about cats playing piano at least a dozen times: 

So I like going out but I like staying home. I think in general I'm getting better at figuring out whether or not I should go to the party. I don't go out for going out's sake, like I did on many nights in my 20s and early 30s, but sometimes I worry that I'm using I'm a writer!* as an excuse for being socially lazy. I don't quite know what the answer to that is. I wish I was more like David Bowie, like in the intro to "Modern Love" when he talks about knowing when to go out and knowing when to stay in. David Bowie's a Capricorn like me but I relate so much more to the Courtney side of things. So for the time being, or maybe for longer than that, I guess I'm socially a Scorpio.

*I said/typed this in the exact tone of Michael Showalter at 2:25 of "The Apartment," which is always a nice Friday treat:

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: Herzog's Journals, Mick Jagger's Shoulder

I have been reading Werner Herzog's journals kept during the filming of Fitzcarraldo. The book is called Conquest Of the Useless. I've been reading this because I love Herzog and the way he speaks about anything. I've also been reading this in an attempt to steal some of his determination. If he can pull a ship over a mountain for a film I can work on my work after work, you know? Here is an excerpt I have been meaning to share with Liz & LJ about Jerry Hall giving Werner delicious chocolate and a monkey biting Mick Jagger's shoulder:


John and Paul with the Sun in Their Eyes


YO Remember back to a million years ago when there was no Instagram and barely even iPhones and Liz and I wrote a nogoodforme column called Beatles Photo of the Week? Most of nogoodforme.com was deleted off the Internet by the same evil ghost who used to delete our posts off the blogging platform in the middle of our writing them, so I can't link to it or anything, but it definitely happened. Basically, it involved Liz and I posting a photo of the Beatles to the blog once a week and then writing cute and/or incisive shit about it. We've decided to bring Beatles Photo of the Week back from the dead and give it to SFW, only now it's going to be more like Beatles Photo of the Every Three Weeks to a Month, since that's just how we roll in 2015. 

LIZ: I love how annoyed they look. And I've never thought of the Beatles as brother-like but in this picture I want John and Paul to be brothers, existing in a parallel universe where it's whatever year it is (1965?) and they're unfamous and the Beatles don't exist.

John's cooler because he's older. He's so much better at wearing that jacket! The rust hints at the red of his hair really nicely, and it was smart to leave the buttons unbuttoned. Paul hasn't learned how to wear his jacket yet but he kind of makes up for it with his bratty mouth, and the baseball glove + watch situation happening on his right hand. The glove was lying around somewhere and he picked it up and boredly put it on and then just kept it. No baseball was actually played that day.

I think what's happening in my John-and-Paul-are-unfamous-brothers alternate reality is it's a Saturday afternoon in late September and tonight they've both got dates. They're going to take their dates out together, like guys probably did all the time in 1965. What's New Pussycat? came out that year, so maybe they're going to see What's New Pussycat?, and then to some smoky red-leathery lounge-type place where the girls can drink pink squirrels or grasshoppers or sidecars or cuba libres. John and Paul will drink scotch, since I recently learned that scotch was the drink of choice for the 1965 Beatles. After drinks they'll take their dates home and have some post-date makeout sesh and then head back out again, to a diner, like in Diner. I basically always want all guys everywhere to comport themselves in a Diner-esque manner on some level - not so much in the being-dumb-and-crude-about-girls sort of way, but in a way that's about eating french fries and drinking Cokes and blowing smoke rings and joke-fighting with your friends about stupid bullshit till five in the morning.

At first I thought John would fill the Bobby/Boogie/Mickey Rourke role in Diner land, on account of his cool charming I-don't-give-a-fuck vibes. But actually he's probably more of an un-clownish Fenwick, the off-the-rails weirdo-genius who makes big trouble about Jesus. And there's really no place for Paul in the Diner universe, but for the purposes of this story I'll let him be Bobby. Paul can be the one to pick up the sugar shaker and pour the sugar straight down his throat, and then walk away looking very proud of himself, and end up with the chill and elegant girl who's always riding horses.

LJ: Even though they're not really brothers, they are, on some level, brothers. Bros, if you will. One of my great wishes is that the Beatles would have had access to contemporary slang in the middle of their being Beatles. I feel like John Lennon could have made some really on-point "bromance" jokes about the Beatles' legendary bromance. Some other words from the 2000s I wish I could hear the Beatles say include "aight" ("Meditation is aight, but it's just not for me," shrugs Ringo), "hella," "legit," "stoked," "that's just how we roll," "whatever" and any or all of its permutations, such as "whatevs" or even "whatevsies." If I heard George Harrison say "Whatevsies," that's how I would know I was dead. 

John looks broey-er than usual in this picture; that is to say, barely broey at all, but still significantly broeyer than when he is, say, wearing a cape in the Something video and looks like he is about to throw a squirrel skeleton into a cauldron and then kick back with some absinthe and Chaucer. I think his broeyness stems from a tie between the memory of the Scotch he recently drank and his leg position. He's "manspreading," as it were. "Manspreading" is definitely a piece of contemporary slang that I could live without hearing the Beatles say. Same goes for "listicle." 

Paul McCartney is the opposite of manspreading. That's the official name of his leg position, "the opposite of manspreading." Use it as you see fit. He has this really "Awwww Mom" vibe about him, like "Mom" is asking him to do a chore and all he wants to do is toss around the ol' pigskin with his ol' pal Johnny. Just kidding, I know that baseballs aren't called pigskins. The word pigskin just flowed really naturally from the character of "Aww Mom"- Paul McCartney that I was inhabiting as I wrote that sentence. He is obsessed with calling everything ol'. The other day, ol' Liz (I'm into it now) wrote this really genius tweet about how  cute it is that Bob Dylan fangirls used to call him "Bobby" but the only people who ever called John Lennon "Johnny" were Ringo and George. But why does Paul not call John Johnny, do you think? Was it a respect thing, or is it just too familiar? Or maybe it's simpler than that, and he just doesn't think the name "Johnny" suits John, which is fair enough: I see him as more of a Jack, myself. Why John didn't go by the infinitely more rock-and-roll-sounding than square-ass John Jack is one of the great mysteries of the Beatles, in my opinion. What a wasted opportunity for old Jack Lennon. 

PS: Just wanted to shout out the "What about the Beatles?" caption in the lower lefthand corner of this photo. Such a good question! What about the Beatles? What about the Beatles


The Top 5 Hottest George Harrisons Ever


LJ: Today is George Harrison’s birthday, and it’s a heavy George Harrison’s birthday for me, since lately I’ve been feeling closer to George Harrison than ever. In the year that has passed since last George Harrison’s birthday, I have started writing a Beatles-themed novel, which I was self-deprecatingly referring to as a work of “literary fanfiction” until about a day ago, when I decided Fuck it— it’s rock and roll fiction, and nothing but. I have cast George Harrison as my novel’s romantic lead, which was a very astute call on my end, as writing shit down about “cute, cool, weird and sometimes assholey things I can imagine George Harrison doing while participating in an emotionally complex on-again/off-again relationship” always sounds like the most appealing thing I could possibly be doing. And so begins the story of how I managed to finally finish a novel, which is a pretty boring story. The novel itself, however, is a fucking romp. “An undeniable romp!” That’s the pull-quote, for the front cover— hopefully it’ll be from Paul McCartney. Hopefully he’ll naturally think up those perfect words on his own. If anyone could do it, it for sure would be our Paul.

I used to have a joke where I’d blog or Tweet or whatever about wishing I had a t-shirt with the words I’D RATHER BE HAVING SEX WITH GEORGE HARRISON written across the front, which isn’t true because wow what a weird way to sexualize myself wearing that t-shirt would be, but is true in that, yeah, I’d rather be having sex with George Harrison. I just would! He’s the hottest dude! Facially, he's about as hot as hot gets, hot veering into beautiful and then back into hot and then beautiful hot beautiful hot beautiful hot beautiful like one of those things a business guy has on his desk where the one silver ball smacks against the other silver ball eternally, I guess I could have said a pendulum; he experiments with his hair a lot but it always works out perfectly so it’s literally impossible to choose one as being my favourite George hair era, dresses like a fucking insane person but always looks like he’s wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, even in the early-seventies when he’d wear, like, overalls with an Om sign embroidered onto the chest pocket, even circa Sgt. Pepper when they made him wear the orange silk tri-cornered hat with a lime green feather (So easy! like a Red Sox cap on Ben Affleck…), has a cool India twist to him, was the guitar player of the Beatles, wrote a kicky song about dessert, and so on and so forth. I changed tenses over the course of that list but I think it works. It’s sobering. He died, guys.

George is the perfect Beatle to have a crush on. Having a crush on John checks out because he’s a genius and that's a score but you know in real life he’d be a huge sketch-o, consistent only in his inconsistency, and all your girlfriends would “You deserve better than this bullshit!” the hell out of the situation and you’d brazenly ignore them but eventually come to that realisation on your own. The whole shitshow would fuck you up so bad, though- it would be one of those situations where you have to sit down with your next boyfriend and solemnly tell him about it while probably tearing up a little.

Meanwhile, over in the “dating Paul”-i-verse, Paul would be his cute Jim Halperty nice guy self and you’d be like “This is amazing!” and then you’d be like “But… I need more” and then get bored after… four months? Six max. And Ringo is not really sexually attractive in my opinion, so that one's off the table.

But George! George is the perfect asshole/nice guy-hybrid: you know he is capable of being either, since he’s complex and a Pisces and has lived a thousand lives and died in 2001 and has probably been reincarnated as the sky by now. I have devoted a significant chunk of my life to blatantly objectifying this beautiful man constantly; in fact I consider my ability to do so one of my great strengths, as a writer. And, let’s face it, as a human.

So, in celebration of today being George Harrison’s seventy-second birthday, I’m just going to keep on objectifying him. I already got his name tattooed on my wrist and saw God once, which was totally in his honor, so let’s just take it easy this year and get Liz on board for writing down some weird jokes about what a babe he was.

5. SMOKING 1964 GEORGE WITH DELICATE BONE STRUCTURE (These George Harrisons are in no particular order. The reality of the situation is that all George Harrisons are equally hot.)

LJ: Today I listened to a Vampire Weekend song for the first time; his hair here sort of reminds me of that experience. I really like his cigarette. I’m not sure if George actually died from cigarette-related cancer or if that’s just propaganda I made up to motivate myself to quit smoking, but either way, people trying to quit smoking should probably never look at this picture. We should put it behind one of those blurry Buzzfeed “NSFW” filters.
        Too late! You saw it. Deal with it. His chin looks really pointy and long. Good “skinny face in a selfie," George. I’m trying to think of one of those, like, meme-style jokes to make about his expression in this picture. You know what I mean? It would be, like, “When you run into your ex at the gym and he’s lifting an impressive amount of weight” or "When bae... does something" or “When you figure out your crush has a Samsung Galaxy.” Actually, this is exactly what I’d look like if I figured out my crush had a Samsung Galaxy. But with a less-elfin “hair covering my ear” effect going on.

Did you know that George Harrison was sick when the Beatles first came to America? Like, physically ill. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. He was fluish on the plane, and was probably kind of denying his sickness to himself, all “Oh Christ, George— you can’t be sick on Ed Sullivan; hey Paul, you got any Oil of Oregano?” except, British people don’t say “sick” like that. That’s a North American thing, which I didn’t realize until I moved to England. They say “poorly,” in this weird way I’m afraid I can’t make any linguistic sense of or even attempt to replicate.
        So yeah, poor George had to stay in bed and rest up while the other three Beatles romped around in Central Park, participating in a merely-eh Central Park-themed photoshoot. They probably did some other things too— met the Ronettes, maybe? So that’s what was up with George Harrison in February of 1964, and I really love that detail of the Beatles’ story: it’s something you’d never think to write in if you were making it up as a fiction. As a frequent haver of eye infections, there is nothing I relate to more than having cool moments in my life thrown off-kilter and/or straight-up disrupted by an unpleasant physical ailment. So, shout-outs to Beatlemania-era George for putting up with that shit. It really must have sucked for you.


LIZ: Last Friday morning I went to a Vons on Laurel Canyon Boulevard to buy a banana, and behind me in line was an interesting-looking red-haired boy most likely in his mid-20s. He was a cross between Jessica Chastain and the scrawniest, most pasty-faced stoner metalhead boy in my high school or anyone's high school; his outfit was floral-patterned black shorts, Vans with socks, a gray cardigan over an unremarkable T-shirt. Stoner Jessica Chastain's grocery basket was full of so many healthy foods: plain yogurt, cage-free eggs, a box of spinach, a pint of blueberries, a little plastic carton of pineapple, all of it organic. I watched him unload his basket and kept waiting for the wild card, some sort of treat to offset the boring purity and righteousness of the rest of his foods. Like maybe a box of ice cream sandwiches, or strawberry shortcake ice cream pops, or Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. Or a gallon of Heavenly Hash, or a stupid pint of the Jimmy Fallon Ben & Jerry's, which is amazing. Or the sunshine-flavored variety of Hostess Cupcakes or, oh my god, AN INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED LEMON-FLAVORED KNOCK-OFF HOSTESS FRUIT PIE. Maybe even just a Twix or a Milky Way or - more appropriately - a Milky Way Dark.

My point is that Stoner Jessica Chastain's fave Beatle is definitely George, and that George would have pulled that wild card and gotten himself a treat. It all comes back to "Savoy Truffle," the previously referenced kicky song about dessert, and George's cool adorable passion for sweets. In this pic he looks like he's doing yoga but really he's just sitting by a pool, wearing a necklace and his cute France shirt, and maybe he's going to go for a swim and then have a nice ice cream. I want to take France George out to one of these prestige ice cream shoppes we've got here in L.A., and buy him a big cone of Salty White Chocolate Honey, or Cinnamon Cardamom Coffee, or Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, or Avocado Banana. I want to open an ice cream shoppe with France George Harrison and limit the menu to flavors mentioned in "Savoy Truffle." My favorite flavor would be Cool Cherry Cream.