the listenerd

optimized for maximum incontinence

Month: August, 2009

On Mad Men and the modern masculine Madonna/whore complex

Like a lot of people I know, I’ve watched Mad Men this season with increasing pleasure and increasing expectation. While the first season seemed notable primarily as an aesthetic statement – fashioning the finely tuned otherworld of the 60s, while simultaneously barfing up unfortunately clumsy stumbles in plot and pacing – season two clicked into place for me. And as season three opened, I found myself anticipating the series much as I have previous favorites such as Deadwood and The Wire.

One of the most interesting threads of the series – a thread that’s been touched upon in the first couple of seasons, but was driven home especially powerfully in episode two of this third season – is what I call (mostly for lack of a better term, but also because it sounds kind of awesome) the modern masculine Madonna/whore complex.

Whaaa? Frequently, the divide between Men and Boys on the show is stark, sometimes to the point of absurdity. The Men (capped here for your pleasure) populating the show are rare. Don embodies Mad Men‘s Man – decisive, no-nonsense, deep and dark. But most of all, he’s a creature whose motivations are informed by forces outside our lines of sight. He’s the ur-dad coming home reeking of scotch and God-knows-what, his mood unpredictable, though obviously of an origin intuitively understood to spring from experiences of exhilarating strangeness.

Other Men pop in and out – in episode 3, Draper meets Conrad Hilton, and one commenter on the NYT‘s ArtsBeat blog makes remarks in accord with the sentiments above: “Gives us some real men to challenge Don and give him a run for his money… 60s NYC was not all lily livered wonder-bread boys…there were dark brooding sharks lurking at every turn….”

The Men (there are others in addition to Draper, but they flicker in and out of our view) are backdropped by a sea of Boys, none so indicative – perfectly cast and executed – as Peggy’s french fry–chowing bar-side pickup from episode 3 this season. A facsimile of Pete Campbell, the dude is no Pops and all pest. He’s your little brother: uncouth, unprepared, and he doesn’t even know what half the words you say mean. In the Sterling-Cooper office, the Boys are a pack of puppies. They pal around, eat the clients’ sandwiches, blow deadlines and smoke weed when they should be on duty.

Their worst sin, though, that which makes them dismissible – and therefore ultimately contemptible – in the eyes of the series? They’re open books.

Video: CD case for album from Moldover has built-in instrument thing

*Headline edited for accuracy.


Video: The Cycologists

And to think, I didn’t even know what a “bicycle band” was until two minutes ago.


Video: A phonograph playing in a soothing manner

Also, flowers. Also, “Jungle Jamboree.”

Links for 8.28.09: Ronald shot, Sodomized by Satan, Pop-Tart gorillas…

*Obit: DJ AM was found dead in his New York apartment.

*Fast food: The Jack in the Box guy violently attacks Ronald McDonald – a dramatic (and possibly disturbing) painting. [eat me daily]

*Nerdery: Burning Man has an API. In honor of Burning Man, I’m wearing a Dorothy dress and goggles. Who am I kidding? What’s Burning Man? Is it happening now? Why am I wearing goggles? [mefi]

*Prose: One of the finest linear collections of words I’ve seen in years – “Sodomized by Satan is a one-man bedroom acoustic black metal band out of New York.” – Metal Sucks

*Trailer: Kurt Cobain on Guitar Hero. [fimoculous]

*Words: How do you pronounce Beyonce? Let us count the ways. (There’s only one way.)

*Followups: If you follow me on Twitter (which I do not recommend), you may recall my mentioning a local news story about an off-duty cop POSSIBLY giving a Pop-Tart to a gorilla at the local zoo. Here is that story.

*Art: Frankly, I don’t know if this stuff is any good or not, but for maybe a decade “America’s foremost miniaturist” has been one of my favorite sayings (in a variety of contexts). Another of my favorite sayings has been “eccentric polymath Jello Biafra.”

*Grade: F

Video: Black Cab Sessions – Final Fantasy

Links for 8.27.09: Mythical creatures, KISScakes, Motel 6…

*Brands: Motel 6 is offering free lodging to up-and-coming bands, in the tradition of Denny’s. Tradition? Denny’s? [ypulse]

*Mashups: What are mythical creatures made of? Ask a VENN diagram! Or a VENN-like diagram! [notcot]

*Points of view: Five years after it’s an interesting question, Paste asks if music ownership is irrelevant. This is the kind of essay the Daily Swarm should be publishing. But more timely. Snap. [earfarm]

*Quotations: “I’ve mostly been listening to dirty rap lately. That’s sort of my scene.” – Natalie Portman [huffpo]

*Animation: I have linked to pages of animated GIFs before. However, I shall never tire of it. Never. [buzzfeed]

*Photography: KISS cupcakes are pastries in Satan’s Service. Also known as PISS. But you got that. [spin]

*The Law: The Smoking Gun was the first to find an old John Mayer mugshot, shaming TMZ. Kidding. Shame. TMZ. Ha. Ugh.

*Important news: Greasing a bridge with butter. Hmmm. [eat me daily]

*Grade: F

Links for 8.26.09: Silvered nudes, Bacon Oakleys, Charles Baxter…

*Communication: Woofer. It’s like twitter, but with a 1400 character lower limit. [buzzfeed]

*Social networking and youth: Should Twitter care if kids don’t like it? Ask Craig Ferguson.

*Fashion: Bacon Oakleys aren’t made out of real bacon.

*Mashup: Han Solo, P.I. [laughing squid]

*GPS: Bob Dylan might be telling you where to make your turns some day.

*Local: The Rumpus interviews author Charles Baxter. [harper’s]

*Imagery: I have two words for you: Silvered Nudes. [notcot]

*AA: Roger Ebert talks about Alcoholics Anonymous and 30 years of sobriety.

*Local: If the Uptown Bar closes, where will we get our pint glasses? Where, I ask you?

*Today: Sleek and straight.

Links for 8.24.09: Motivation, MP3s, American excess and slang…

*Video: I’ve been thinking for hours about how to get you to watch this video. I’ve got nothing.

*Technology: Pitchfork publishes a social history of the MP3. Whoa; this is the kind of essay the Daily Swarm should start publishing. But with better pacing.

*Food: One thing I love about America is its ingenuity. (Click that link only if you love Kentucky Fried Chicken. And excess. And think that the Famous Bowl is a marvel of the imagination.)

*On language: Slang is one of my favorite topics to think about. If I were ever to get off my ass (and out of my day job) and do a web project, it would be around the front lines of language. [ypulse]

*Voices: Sasha Frere-Jones writes about Leonard Cohen old and new in the New Yorker. I have not seen the documentary in question, but the prospect of seeing Mr. Cohen in his boxer shorts has compelled me to add it to the queue.

*Reviews: I love these one-star reviews from Amazon. On Moby Dick: “Too nautical for me.”

*Hip-hop: Being your guide to Russian hip-hop fashions. [buzzfeed]

*Books: If you need to buy a book of tweets, do it through this link. (The affiliate money goes to @TheDayHasCome and his family. Or just donate money instead.)

*Local: Listenerd co-worker No Bird Sing have an album coming out soon. You can listen to it, even though MySpace is putting the kibosh on autoplay. [chuckles]

Video: Panopticon – Singing Ringing Tree

[interactive architecture via neural]

Video: 8-Bit Trip

Legos. 8-bit.


Links for 8.19.09: Ohio’s piano, Ed Hardy, JK Wedding hijinx, zombies…

*Maps: 88 keys. 88 counties. Play with this map of Ohio counties as a fucking piano. Holy. Awesome. (I recommend playing “The Entertainer” for yourself.) [mefi]

*Marketing: Was the hit video of a St. Paul couple’s wedding entrance a marketing campaign? Read up on a breakdown of the evidence in the case of the JK Wedding Dance.

*Archives: Maybe you should listen to MP3s of the Les Paul Show. Not because he’s dead, because he’s good. He’s also dead. [harper’s]

*Undead: Personally, I hate zombies. The internet, though, loves them like bacon. Or coffee. Or pirates. Anyway, here’s a blog that does zombie parodies of popular songs. [neatorama]

*Home: These cassette tape lights will keep you up at night. Due to their coolness. Not their emission of near-blinding light. See what I did there? Assholes. [treehugger]

*Fashion: A hip-hop artist named Dirty Nasty records an anti-Ed Hardy rap. Like the saying goes, any enemy of Ed Hardy is a friend of mine. [buzzfeed]

*Work: Rarely have I seen such a touchy cultural touchpoint as Woodstock in all my day job examination of generational differences.

*Music: Daytrotter offers up some notes on The National.

*Local: Here’s a promo video for No Bird Sing’s upcoming CD release. I work with a No Bird Sing guy. He saw me carrying an umbrella with a pink handle today. Hence this post.

Links for 8.19.09: iLike! Strep throat! Fat gamers!

*Breaking: Mozart died of strep throat. I had a bad case of mono in the 9th grade. (Not really.) [harper’s]

*Web 2.0: MySpace bought iLike. Neologistic. [swarm]

*Letters: Make the alphabet in tapes with Tapeography. But how many syllables are in that? Four? Five? Conventional wisdom would say four, but I think maybe seven. [psfk]

*Photography: The Dieter Rams pool. Jump the fuck in. [notcot]

*Online: Is it your brain circuitry that makes you like Twitter, or does no one know what the fuck they’re talking about? [murketing]

*TV: The Footnotes of Mad Men is a blog about the footnotes of the television show Mad Men. Great idea, ok execution. [kottke]

*Videogames: Profile of a gamer – fat, depressed and 35. Hello? Oh, I thought you were talking to me. [mefi]

*Age: Celine Dion is only one year older than Gwen Stefani. Also, why am I talking about this?

*Remember when that remote controlled flying penis attacked Garry Kasparov? Great times.

Links for 8.15.09: Sloane’s rules, Les Paul, more Mad Men…

*Anecdotes: Mick Jagger goes shopping at a toy store. [harper’s]

*Advice: How to Be So Choice – By Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend, Sloane. “Look badass in a jacket with fringe.” [boner party]

*Nerdly: Om Malik writes up a mega-post on the Evolution of Blogging.

*Advertising: Vanity Fair takes on “Mad Men.”

*Founding Fathers: Review Benjamin Franklin’s daily schedule. You’ll note that he omitted “take a cold-air bath” from it. [daring fireball]

*RIP: Les Paul died. “His childhood piano teacher wrote to his mother, ‘Your boy, Lester, will never learn music.'”

*Woodstock: “Wet, crowded and overhyped.” [bv]

*Barebones: Like back in the day.