Saturday, October 31, 2009

Weekend Docket: Happy Halloween

Tonight we have one extra hour of witching, thanks to the daylight savings fall-back. As we sit here, mouths agape, watching the Halloween horror show that has already begun at Wisconsin between the Badgers and the Boilermakers, we're also considering how to take advantage of this extra long night. These photos remind us how innocent things used to be when Halloween really was only about witches, masks, skeletons and pumpkins versus the thick mob of Lady Gagas and Twilight vampires we hope to be treading through tonight at the West Village annual Halloween parade.

New York's Village Halloween Parade, 7pm (6th Ave. between Broome and 23rd Sts)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mad About the Men: The Gypsy and The Hobo

Spoiler Alert. Season 3, Episode 11:
In a season – as in an era - that’s been all about the first awkward movements of grappling female ascendancy, last night’s episode left us with a simple message - for now at least – wifey always wins.

Now, don’t get me wrong, these may be short-lived, or in Joan’s case, hollow victories, but in each of the three storylines last night, it was the matriarch that won out. Roger shunned the drunken advances of his horse-pulverizing Annabelle Mathis, because hey, he actually seems to love his wife; Joan smashed a vase over her stupid undeserving-of-her-greatness husband’s head and he finally realized she’s a pretty good catch; and Don left Miss F sitting in the car, putting an end to their strange little Alice in Wonderland affair. (Is she the gypsy and he the hobo of the title?).
Joan, Betty and Mrs. Silver Fox, all had their day, but as with everything in the world of Mad Men, we were left with a sour taste in our mouths, because frankly, we just don’t believe it.

Joan became a fresh re-imagining of Annabelle Mathis - already on the plane with the wrong man (who up and joined the Army without even asking her) in her version of Casablanca. Betty saw the true narrowness of her options when the family lawyer laid out cold what divorcing Don would really mean, and though Roger may no longer have eyes for Annabelle, surely it’s only a matter of time before he finds himself snuggling in Joan’s ample bosom once again? Could those two really be meant for each other?

Hollow victories.

The mythical shoebox finally yielded its secrets after almost three seasons. The scene between Betty and Don was masterful, and it was utterly satisfying to see him shaken, fumbling, dropping his cigarette on the kitchen floor and finally reduced to tears. Betty was able to thrown out some killer lines, in particular when Don told her he could explain, she came back with the zinger, ‘you’re a very very gifted storyteller.’ Ten points Betty.

If Miss F represented the light to which Don was drawn then Betty, here, was very much about the darkness. Or, to put it a better way, Miss F was fantasy, Betty is reality. In a nice little moment of symbolism Miss F left the lights on in her apartment to greet Don when she went out to buy groceries and Don later came back to the Draper household shrouded in darkness, even though Betty was already home, lurking in the shadows. Surprise honey!

I think I felt genuine sympathy for Don last night, I think… it’s hard to tell. That great back shot of him hunched at the sink in his pajamas was, to me, the clearest representation of the broken man. He was haggard, bleary-eyed and undone, with nowhere else to go. It was also particularly interesting that when he called Miss Farrell to end the affair, he finally called her by her first name, Suzanne, thus cementing her in adult reality at last. The end of escapism.

But more than anything what was clearest last night is that Don will, forever and always, return to Betty. She is his centre, his weight, his home
Finally Weiner couldn’t resist leaving us his trademark closing nudge nudge wink wink last night, when the kids went trick or treating and the man who answered turned to Don and Betty and asked, ‘and who are you supposed to be?’

Wonderful stuff.

Line of the week: Betty to Don: ‘You don’t get to ask any questions.’
Next week: Mrs. Silver Fox gets mad about Joan.

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Monday, October 26, 2009

Old Radio Days

Tesla and Marconi couldn't have imagined their invention of the radio would end up spawning infamous broadcasts of macabre tales from The Shadow and clever wordplay between Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Not to ignore the commercial jingles that have traveled on down through the decades having started in radio (below a sampling of our favorites). Orson Welles shown at left not only contributed his voice to the first broadcasts of The Shadow but is famous for the radio hoax that preceded his adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds, shown above. 

The Shadow's The Laughing Corpse (March 10, 1940)
Abbott and Costello's Opening A Gas Station (November 29, 1045)

Old radio commercial clips:
Old Spice
Pepsi Cola
Schlitz Beer

Hamlet on Broadway

"At the heart of this character is someone we all recognize as ourselves," says Jude Law to Adam Green in the October issue of Vogue, the article we refused to read until after we caught his performance Friday night in the title role of Hamlet (now playing on Broadway at the Broadhurst Theater through December 6). 

Hamlet is one of those roles that changes its hue each time a different actor steps into it, which is why we take a new journey each time we watch it. We are first introduced to Law's quietly brooding performance in Act 1, however, like someone bumping up the noise, he quickly turns bombastic and uninhibited by Act 2, continuing through until his last word spoken in the arms of his only friend (which, by the way, makes this the first we've noted big hints towards Horatio's creepy man-crush on Hamlet). We're curious to see how Jude's character evolves through each performance since his immediacy comes off as spontaneous, unmeditated.

The set design- monolithic doors, everything in granite- hits you over head with cold interiors, while disheveled, drab, black costumes add a sense of mourning to the layers of bleakness. We bow down to the director, Michael Grandage, for cleverly turning our point of view around, such as in Act 3, scene 4, in the Queen's closet, when we find ourselves eavesdropping with Polonius on Hamlet's confrontation with Gertrude. We became unnerved when Laertes dove into the fresh grave of his sister and propped her up for us to gawk at, although actor Gwilym Lee's polite approach fell short of the potential of the scene's potency. We thank you Mr. Grandage for keeping us awake during the well over three hours with your unexpected pockets of creepiness, while concurrently understating the oft-interpreted oedipal dynamic between Hamlet and his mother.

Watching Jude as Hamlet, we couldn't help but feel we were witnessing a historical moment in Hamlet's history. The force of his performance was indeed noble and unpredictable, and pretty much out-shined the rest of the monochromatic, mainly disposable cast. And therein lies the problem that vexed our sweet prince.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Weekend Docket: Hamptons in the Fall

We could write sonnets about our favorite season Autumn. What's on the docket for a quick Fall getaway is taking the car up to the Hamptons to revel in the ghost-like ambience that takes to the streets come October, long after the maddening crowd of Summer has shut its doors to return to the City. We love meandering around the quaint villages, checking out the pottery and sales racks at Steven Alan, resting on Rugby's bamboo furniture next to the acoustic guitars, gawking at the wild turkeys along the backroads, and then staying indoors at night to listen to the rain as we prepare dinner. Homemade bruschetta, cauliflower soup drizzled with truffle oil and (dare we flatter) some of the best lobster rolls we've ever eaten.

We recommend stopping in for drinks and a quick bite at The Living Room inside the Maidstone Inn on the East End, where the bar serves up a tasty, little house concoction called a pumpkin martini made from organic vodka then dusted with nutmeg and cinnamon. The iconic Inn was redone by Swedish hotelier Jenny Ljungberg. But her style of Scandinavian design has nothing to do with minimalism. Instead you'll walk into a rich, gem-toned painted room cozily furnished with an eclectic, colorful mix of vintage-inspired upholstered loveseats and chaises. Look underneath the window bench and you'll find vintage boardgames too. Perfect for wiling away the hours when it starts to get stormy.

Outdoor shower at the Surf Lodge, Montauk
Private cottage and surfboards, Montauk
Rugby store, Easthampton
Wild turkeys, Southampton
Dinner, Southampton
Warming up, Southampton

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Neckwear by David Hart & Co.

After hunting high and low for the perfect bowtie we ended our search at last. Stumbling upon David Hart and his irreverent sense of humor (smiling frogs, bullet bras, sci-fi robots, sock monkeys, et al.), as salient as his style, we think we've found a kindred spirit. In other words, Mr. Hart has a place in his heart for all things hand tailored, made in New York, and for materials imported from all over the world. He also knows that we were not born with bowtie-ing skills (hence video below). He reveres the old guard- Adrian, Poiret, Chanel- and he has a blog that boasts a digital collection of all things vintage. 

Each of his ties are hand tailored in New York City and offered exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman. Here are some pieces we couldn't resist, followed by a peek at his Spring 2010 collection. 

Visit David Hart's website.

JACK SPADE: Cases for Digital Reading

We've watched JACK SPADE for quite some time now. They have a passion for developing bags and accessories that are functional and that improve with age while maintaining their sense of style. It's comforting to browse their little shop on Green Street. We could sit in that ripped leather couch all day, just to escape into an oversized closet of beautiful men's sweaters, flannel workshirts and mackintoshes, all housed within the walls of a paraphernalia-filled den seemingly decorated by an imaginative, adolescent boy circa 1950's. They've recently taken their service to function and their love of literature to the next level- digitally. Headed by JACK SPADE'S vice-president Cuan Hanley (former protege of Paul Smith), they've designed cases for Barnes & Noble's newly-launched nook e-reader, utilizing those same materials- waxwear, dipped canvas- that make their brand so recognizable and beloved. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mad About the Men: The Color Blue

Spoiler Alert. Season 3, Episode 10:

‘…My mind misgives, Some consequence yet hanging in the stars.’

For ten episodes now we’ve been dragged inch by agonizing inch to the top of the rollercoaster and last night’s episode has us teetering on the precipice, white knuckles gripping our seats, just waiting for that stomach-shattering plunge into oblivion. Tragedy, revenge, the disintegration of the family – if I keep returning to Shakespeare in my head when I write about this show, it’s no coincidence.

The Color blue? The color is black – deep deep black, make no mistake.

An award to honor Don’s humanity? Tish tish boom! Mr. Weiner. The oxymoron is so blatant it hurts a little. It’s actually difficult to watch him with Miss F, so eager as he is to project some kind of innocent nymph-like fantasy upon her persona, quite literally turning her into the prancing May fairy she first appeared to him as – hippie star on her cheek and all. Blurgh.

His discomfort with her coming out of the shadows and into reality – the arrival of her epileptic brother and her subsequent stalkerish move on the train – displayed the extent to which Don wishes to preserve the theatrical fantasy. The brother got it right, ‘he’s arrogant, his plans were interrupted,’ and woe betide anyone who deems to interrupt Don’s plans. Something tells me things aren’t going to end so well with Don and little Miss, and for once, it might actually be her that gains the upper hand.

Listening to Don wax lyrical about the emotional power of the telegram in his trademark honey tones was equally hard to swallow. ‘You can’t frame a phonecall,’ he proclaimed, which is quite handy for you Don, quite handy indeed. Paul and Peggy’s subplot this week was fine, but reinforces the issue I’ve had with her this entire season, where the business at the office has become a prop for the greater domestic drama that’s unfolding. Also, anyone notice how every meeting at Sterling Cooper lasts approximately 3 minutes? I wish I had had creative reviews like that.

Betty’s patience was rewarded - in a fashion - this week, as that locked drawer finally yielded its secrets, and wouldn’t you know it was the housewife’s friend, the washing machine, that handed her the key to the forbidden fruit. Personally I want to see Betty rain down the fires of hell upon Don’s head.

The final scene at The Waldorf was majestic, with Roger spewing niceties about a man he’s come to despise, praising Don’s ‘loyalty.’ Thanking Betty for ‘sharing him,’ oh god the irony, even Don looked like he had a hard time swallowing it as he stood up.
 Brace yourselves, it’s going to get bumpy.
Quote of the week: Miss F to Don: “Do you feel bad about what you do?”
Next week: Apocalypse.

Diligently construed by E. Nolan
Photo by Carin Baer

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Weekend Docket: Rain Rain Go Away

The weather outside is telling us to stay in and take shelter with something old and familiar. We think we've finally got an excuse to do a board game marathon, and revert back to those early not to mention culturally crucial years. Hey, blame it on the rain. 

This premature winter inspires take-out from Num Pang, the amazing Cambodian sandwich counter off Union Sq with the unique daily specials (if it involves duck and rhubarb, it must be et) and one of the best meatball sandwiches in Manhattan. Num Pang means "sandwich" or "bread" in Cambodian, and frankly these made-to-order sandwiches, served on a freshly toasted baguette with their signature chili mayo and house-made pickles, rival the similarly prepared Vietnamese samich. Thanks to those meatballs. And that duck confit. Ok, fine, the pork belly too. Afterwards we'll crawl under the blankets and watch Cinema Paradiso for the 67th time, hoping it rains all the way to Monday so we don't have to guilt ourselves into changing out of our pajamas to say hello to the outside world. 

Num Pang
21 East 12th Street, NYC