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Who Was David Algonquin? The Works Of The Mystery Man Of American Letters
April 30, 2012 11:29 AM   Subscribe

Who Was David Algonquin? The Works Of The Mystery Man Of American Letters [via mefi projects]
posted by Cool Papa Bell (117 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
The In Popular Culture section has the really dorky SF jokes.
posted by The Whelk at 11:44 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looking forward to the novel where the sci-fi family eats a can of beans.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:05 PM on April 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Alas, Beans."
posted by The Whelk at 12:09 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


A dystopian future where beans have gone extinct, ruining global foodstocks.
posted by The Whelk at 12:09 PM on April 30, 2012


In Whit Stillman's "Summer At The Cape" (2003)...

I tear up a little everytime I read this "joke".
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:30 PM on April 30, 2012


I tear up a little everytime I read this "joke".

The fictional Terry Pratchett book about an Ankh-Morpork Ad agency does that to me.
posted by The Whelk at 12:34 PM on April 30, 2012


Someone tell The Whelk he's supposed to be working on a book or three right now.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on April 30, 2012


pssssh. Everybody knows he was Ken Cosgrove.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cosgrove? That hack?
posted by The Whelk at 2:12 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This screwed up a day of revisions for me so bad like a week ago. Will not edit the wiki will not edit the wiki . . .
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:36 PM on April 30, 2012


Do eeeit do eeeit do it for Megan's Edward Albeesque parents
posted by The Whelk at 2:47 PM on April 30, 2012


Hmmm... Has anyone run statistical text analysis on the works of the various pseudonyms against known authors to try to determine who he might have been?
posted by kaibutsu at 2:49 PM on April 30, 2012


Speaking of Megan's parents ... WTF was up with the "Goodnight, animals" line? Is that a French thing, or is she just a mean old bitch? And I ask that without regard to Roger's hummer.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:52 PM on April 30, 2012


It read as an affectionate family phrasing, I find the age gap between her mom and dad and the age gap between herself and don more interesting, becoming your parents indeed.

Also she is literally too socialist to accept credit for anything cause Megan needs ALL THE ADORABLENESS.
posted by The Whelk at 3:00 PM on April 30, 2012


Kaibutsu, that's addressed in some of the discussion on the wiki, there might be god knows how many "Unknown Algonquins" out there.
posted by The Whelk at 3:03 PM on April 30, 2012


Cool Papa Bell: And I ask that without regard to Roger's hummer.

If that is a spoiler to last night's episode of MM, which I have yet to see, such insolence will not go unanswered and you'd best put up your dukes and prepare for some serious Lane Pryce-style asswhooping coming your way.
posted by Skygazer at 3:07 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh Skygazer, you are in for a TREAT.
posted by The Whelk at 3:08 PM on April 30, 2012


"Goodnight, animals" shall be how I put the children to bed every night from now on.
posted by Artw at 3:56 PM on April 30, 2012


If that is a spoiler to last night's episode of MM

Oh dear. Well, at least I didn't say who was giving him a hummer. For all you know, it could be his ex-wife, Mona...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:17 PM on April 30, 2012


K, firing it up, shush it already...
posted by Skygazer at 4:19 PM on April 30, 2012


Is that a French thing?

je crois que oui, ou bien quebecois au moins. il apparait a moi que l'actrice parle francias comme natif.

not like I do, in other words. it was clearly affectionate, at any rate, and certainly not mean.

i think it is, or maybe quebecois. it appears to me the actress speaks french like a native.
posted by mwhybark at 5:18 PM on April 30, 2012


also, Lane Pryce: son of Richard Harris, stepson of Rex Harrison.
posted by mwhybark at 5:24 PM on April 30, 2012


It's been an hour Skygazer you are required to have an option on Sally's boots by now.
posted by The Whelk at 6:03 PM on April 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


DIRTY.
posted by Artw at 6:30 PM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's been an hour Skygazer you are required to have an option on Sally's boots by now.

Ha, Sally was rockin' the boots bigtime but, I'm glad Don told her to take them off along with the make up. I want her to stay a kid a bit longer. I guess I'm selfish like that.
posted by Skygazer at 7:04 PM on April 30, 2012


oh Sally is learning all kinds of things way too early and again, no one seems to care (Oh look how she brightened up with Rodger cause someone was actually paying attention to her and giving a damn, no wonder she's 60s-era-IRC-chatting-with-Gene) but I agree with Tom And Lorenzo

There was a time when Sally Draper would have been appalled to admit it (and that time is probably still happening), but the divorce of her parents has been a good thing for her. She may not love Henry as much as her father, but the relative stability that comes from living with people who don’t loathe each other has started to rub off on her. Now that both parents have remarried, she has something else she never had before; a set of new grandmothers, offering her new perspectives and experiences and challenging her in ways she’s never been challenged. Because after watching both her step-grandmothers go down last night, Sally came out of it a changed young girl.

posted by The Whelk at 8:50 PM on April 30, 2012


Now that I've seen the episode in question, a couple things.

First, Megan's mom going, "goodnight, monsters" is a callback to the Disneyland episode, where Megan says the same thing to the kids.

Second, it is now totally clear that Megan is now partially based on the "real" Don Draper's wife and creative partner, Myra Daniels, who published the linked essay back in 2009, in the dawn of the Mad Men era, and which I presume you linkrats at least skimmed back in the day, before we all had paunches and greying hair.
posted by mwhybark at 10:17 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


also, yes, this was a beautifully crafted script.
posted by mwhybark at 10:18 PM on April 30, 2012


The fact that Megan is actually good her job but kinda hates how it requires you to live and breathe bullshit and lying is actually really, really great.

Her fathering "You jumped to the end" is going to come back and haunt her.
posted by The Whelk at 10:22 PM on April 30, 2012


Thus Megan not wanting to take credit for her account grabbing is from her socialist well-it's-about-the-group-also CANADA upbringing AND cause she kinda doesn't like how manipulative and gross her husband's job is, cause it is totally gross, is going to play out cause DAMN, they've hit it before but really Megan is the voice of Wow You Are All Full Of Bullshit even she doesn't, and I don't think she does, fully realize yet.
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 PM on April 30, 2012


My clin psych phd friends were going on about how Sally Draper's emotional environments are the choo-choo train to Borderline Personality Disorder Central.

*sally draper sadface*
posted by stratastar at 11:48 PM on April 30, 2012


I thought there was an element of Meghan's disappointment coming from the fact that the achievement was tempered, and perhaps tainted by the necessity of Don.

As masterfully as she acted : realizing the moment's (feminist) complexity, acting, by signaling and leading Don to make the move (a part of her social comprehension that learned from Peggy, and her generation); she also had to share every step of the glory with Don, from the ideas' conception, its validation, and triumphant sell, she had to give the credit to Don.

So the peak was a cheat, and it will always be so for her.
posted by stratastar at 11:59 PM on April 30, 2012


Did no one else notice that the ad Megan pitched was almost identical to a tide ad aired during Mad Men a few years ago?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:54 AM on May 1, 2012


Whoops, Clorox, rather.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:13 AM on May 1, 2012


Hmm... Wasn't it them inserting a real beans ad?
posted by Artw at 7:37 AM on May 1, 2012


I had a different take on the Peggy-Megan interaction, and that was that Peggy was reminding Megan of the grubby aspect of the work. Peggy is of working-class stock, and Megan thinks of herself as patrician, and Peggy gets excited by what Megan sees as "small" victories.

I think Megan likes that she skipped to the end.

I think Megan's interior monologue with Peggy was, "Thanks for the kind words ... peon... but I have bigger fish to fry."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:54 AM on May 1, 2012


I think that's a total misinterpretation of Megan's character.

Her dad is a Marxist, for god's sake. She's had it drilled into her head since childhood that ethical economic progress derives from the collective actions of the working class. She is consistently shown to be irritated by Don pulling her out of the work environment. It is totally uncomfortable for her to experience the status-marking disruptions Don thrives on. She has been shown to have a desire to be a part of the creative teamwork of the office all season.

The expression on Megan's face in that scene derives from her discomfort with the idea that she has stolen Peggy's thunder, not with didain for Peggy. Her anxiety is with the whole idea of the gifted individual succeeding on their own merit, knowing that idea to be not only false and illusory but antithetical to the values she was raised with.
posted by mwhybark at 9:08 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is so an undercurrent of "Yeah Advertising, not that hard, this stuff is beneath me I can't believe you take it so seriously."
posted by The Whelk at 9:08 AM on May 1, 2012


She's just too Marxist to gloat after all.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 AM on May 1, 2012


I don't think either reading is accurate. I think if anything, Megan has some lurking discomfort because even in her successes, she's really there to prop up Don. I think what her father says later is right: this isn't her dream, but his. Her dream is something else.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:20 AM on May 1, 2012


hm, i totally don't get you guys seeing the business as something which she perceives herself as "above."

She wants to be a part of a team. They perceive her as above them, correctly, due to her relationship with Don. The show presents her work as at least good and in this episode as great, worthy of a productive role in the enterprise on its' own merits. The anxiety stems from the disconnect - obviously her idea in the episode strongly benefited from her being able to just drop a pitch into Don's ear, so even though she wants to be a team player, she naturally uses the most direct route to express her idea. Which is part of her dad's critique, that piggybacking on Don reduces the legitimacy of the accomplishment.

Anyway, delightful to have an extended discussion of a female protagonist's character mortivations! Good work, Man Men creative team.
posted by mwhybark at 9:22 AM on May 1, 2012


I would support a Kickstarter to make a spinoff of Roger and Sally as a pair of detectives.
posted by drezdn at 9:23 AM on May 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


PhoBWanKenobi, I also think your reading is correct. In the fever dream episode, Don's hallucination tells him that she knows he decorated the apartment. It is literally Don's dream, not hers.
posted by mwhybark at 9:26 AM on May 1, 2012


Her dad is a Marxist, for god's sake.

And her mother has, shall we say, a completely different attitude about getting what one wants. So, I think there's some nuance.

Anyway, delightful to have an extended discussion of a female protagonist's character mortivations!

The Megan-Peggy interaction totally qualifies as a passing grade for the Bechdel Test.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:31 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


One more thing: Emile was wearing a fleur-de-lis in his lapel at the banquet. I was curious about the historical association of the movement for Quebecois soverignty and socialism, and voila, wikipedia came through.
posted by mwhybark at 9:36 AM on May 1, 2012


The show presents her work as at least good and in this episode as great, worthy of a productive role in the enterprise on its' own merits.

Oh, and interesting thing: close reading of the scene with Burt Cooper suggested that Megan's work hasn't been great--the big X and "do over" next to her platex ad, for example. At an equivalent stage in her career, would Peggy have been able to overhaul a campaign this late in the game, no matter how promising her idea was?

I find it very interesting that both of Peggy's ideas felt progressive and fresh compared with Megan's, which was somewhat sexist in its formulation (mom feeding a little boy). It's exactly the same sort of happy family lie Don was able to spin for the Kodak folks out of his own broken family life. As others have said, what really happened at that dinner wasn't a tender replication of Megan's childhood but rather a terse and uncomfortable meal undercut by intergenerational rivalries and competition. Clearly, this kind of schmaltz is what the Heinz folks wanted (despite their claims to the contrary), and they wanted it offered up by a man, and not a woman.

Personally, I'm having trouble actually figuring out if Megan's work is good or not, or if the show wants us to believe that it is. I know Don thinks so. I know, in this ep, it was what the clients wanted. But my first reaction to Megan's bean's pitch was pretty negative, personally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:43 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Personally, I'm having trouble actually figuring out if Megan's work is good or not, or if the show wants us to believe that it is. I know Don thinks so. I know, in this ep, it was what the clients wanted. But my first reaction to Megan's bean's pitch was pretty negative, personally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi


I know my wife was pretty much retching at Megan's pitch every time it was discussed (I was pretty neutral on it)... but the show was pretty unambiguous on her tactical/pitching skills during the dinner.
posted by COBRA! at 9:50 AM on May 1, 2012


well read, phob! seriously, doesn't the episode remind you of a David Algonquin short story in its' thematic unity and layered ambiguity?

I wonder if they have a backchannel to the guy as an anonymous creative consultant. Seems plausible, actually.
posted by mwhybark at 9:50 AM on May 1, 2012


Also, I think it says something about Don that he loved Megan's nostalgia-and-traditional-values driven pitch, to the point of pitching it enthusiastically himself, but he didn't even try to defend Peggy's ideas and in fact left her alone to pitch one of them to the client.

Don, I think, wants to be a little boy part of the circle of bean-eating life being fed by his Mommy, just as much as Mr. Heinz. He's also willing to go to bat for his wife right now, and not necessarily the rest of his creative team. I think Megan's pretty aware of all of this, and that's all part of her discomfort, too. Which actually makes me think that mwhybark might be on to something in the socialist reading of these interactions. I really look forward to seeing how Megan's career shapes up, especially as compared to the rest of creative (not just Peggy, but Ginsburg and sexymisterwhat's-his-face, too).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:54 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was curious about the historical association of the movement for Quebecois soverignty and socialism, and voila, wikipedia came through.

I love this show.

Also yeah Megan's pitch is total cheeseball, which is exactly what the Heinz people wanted but they didn't know they wanted it - that's pretty much Don's philosophy regarding business.
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It occurs that we are surely engaged, here, in overthinking a pitch of beans.

pitch, of course, is a synonym for bowl, and what is a bowl but a sort of deep plate?
posted by mwhybark at 9:57 AM on May 1, 2012


Man I love how Slate can't talk about Mad Men without revealing how they're all Upper East Side prep school kids.

So can we talk about Peggy's "I'm going to be proposed to!" dress and how it continues her long line of unflattering attempts to be girly?
posted by The Whelk at 9:59 AM on May 1, 2012


She was trying to look like Joan in terms of color and styling. I actually thought it was pretty cute--thought that blue dress back in s1 was cute, too. Just not Peggy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:03 AM on May 1, 2012


Anyone notice how *harried* Joan looked? Her hair and makeup was a few stops below her usual office standard, which is a nice way of letting us know without words that Being A Single Mom Is Taking A Toll.

Plus she's in her PAIN color.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Personally, I'm having trouble actually figuring out if Megan's work is good or not

Who knows? Even a stopped clock is right once a day. I could easily see Don propping up Megan as Peggy 2.0 only to have her fail miserably. But that sounds like a cliche, which is why I don't write for this show.

Man I love how Slate can't talk about Mad Men without revealing how they're all Upper East Side prep school kids.

I still have a hard time accepting that these people actually exist. I thought they were a myth until I went to a wedding and all the groom's men went to the same prep school and had Wall Street jobs. Fuck 'em. I make video games for a living, and when I told them that, they were all floored. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em right in their overstuffed wallets.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:43 AM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even a stopped clock is right once a day.

Twice a day. /facepalm
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:44 AM on May 1, 2012


One of the joys of watching Mad Men with my SO are th looks of sympathetic pain on his face whenever some intolerable amount of UES WASP nastiness and veiled aggression is going on which is on this show like all the time.
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 AM on May 1, 2012


Even being wrong about how many times a day a stopped clock is right is right twice a day.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:46 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just don't know how they will wrap up - we want to know what happens to Sally. Personally, I see her hypersexualized, subservient to men upbringing being a natural precursor to groupie-dom. And it's a world that Don disapproves of, so you got the piss off the parents angle.
posted by readery at 10:48 AM on May 1, 2012


Pretty much ANYTHING can happen to sally and it will feel right, she's just been given a huge sack of issues to deal with in every episode.
posted by The Whelk at 10:52 AM on May 1, 2012


Also she'll come of age in the Disco era, the dark Nixon era, what is that going to do to her outlook?
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 AM on May 1, 2012


COCAINE
posted by readery at 11:22 AM on May 1, 2012


WOODSTOCK
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:26 AM on May 1, 2012


She would be 14 during woodstock.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on May 1, 2012


I just realized that Sally Draper is Jenny Curran/Gump.

Holy shit.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:28 AM on May 1, 2012


She would be 14 during woodstock.

Quiet, you. I'm dreaming.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:28 AM on May 1, 2012


She would be 18 in 1975. I vote she ends up at Cooper Union and spends a lot of time at CBGBs.
posted by mwhybark at 11:45 AM on May 1, 2012


well, 20.

ish.
posted by mwhybark at 11:45 AM on May 1, 2012


Sally wants to be sedated.
posted by The Whelk at 11:46 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


see? they're a happy family.
posted by mwhybark at 11:51 AM on May 1, 2012


Of course, this may also mean that Riff Randall was actually played by Sally. You can't tell me you don't see the resemblance.
posted by mwhybark at 11:53 AM on May 1, 2012


Sally ends up doing heroin with Jim Carroll or playing bass in the Talking Heads.
posted by drezdn at 12:15 PM on May 1, 2012


"We're HAPPY here...in our HAPPY HOUSE..."
posted by The Whelk at 12:16 PM on May 1, 2012


Roger and Sally are fantastic together. So entertaining and sweet. They really did bring out the best in one another and I guess considering Roger's emotional age is somewhere around Sally's it makes perfect sense that they'd click so perfectly.

As usual Roger messes everything up their friendship-wise because of the powerful waves of imminent knob-polishing emanating from a certain someone. (No spoiler's here.)
posted by Skygazer at 12:20 PM on May 1, 2012


"We're HAPPY here...in our HAPPY HOUSE..."

She turns into Siouxsie Sioux? Nice.
posted by Skygazer at 12:24 PM on May 1, 2012


"Don, I think, wants to be a little boy part of the circle of bean-eating life being fed by his Mommy, just as much as Mr. Heinz. "

Oh man! This is great, and relates directly back to the hidden point made in last weeks' episode (originally made by T&L) where Don's mis-remembering of what she wore on their drive back showed us what he wanted of her. Meghan at a conscious or unconscious level knows what he wants or needs and gives it to him; this is her lie. Which he bought, its just incidental that the Heinz guy bought it as well.

The pitch was a lie to please Don, just as how the way she has to act in their marriage is a lie to her. This season, I've been a little annoyed about how the obvious themes are floated out there, but really there are so many, so layered.
posted by stratastar at 12:45 PM on May 1, 2012


The interaction between Peggy and Meaghan was very strange and had a sense of foreboding to me. Peggy is being all "Rah rah!!! Good for you!! You did it!!" and she takes on the role of the mentor, or seasoned pro who's happy that other women are following in her footsteps. For her, she knows how huge it is, but Meaghan just looks confused by it like "whatever, it's not so big a deal..." and in a way it makes Peggy seem obsolete and Meaghan the new woman creative pioneer because she hasn't really had to compromise on her femininity one bit to get where she is, and if anything it's put her ahead of the pack, as it were.

I think there you're seeing, already, amazingly it seems to me, two views of feminism already splitting up in terms of goals. Meaghan's version seems much more sophisticated than Peggy's who basically taken on many of the male copywriter habits, with her drinking Whiskey, and exterior "toughness," I mean, let's face it, Peggy emulate's Don really and a great part of the reason she couldn't sell Heinz on her ideas were that He just couldn't understand her vision, or more accurately, her role (her persona), would translate to selling to his primary demographic: Mother's feeding kids. For all the unimaginative dullness of Mr. Heinz, he does have an intuitive grasp of who he's selling his beans too. And Meaghan nails it, because she can embody that traditional female perspective and understand it, she's never had to curtail her femininity for anyone and is completely comfortable in it. Even the maternal aspects. Not only that she's got a mainline (ahem) to Don.

She can do a little girl talk in the powder room, quickly grasp the situation, get that key info (information? hmmm...) to Don, feed him the ball, guide it along, show Mr. Heinz that she's THE FUTURE OF MOMS (and totally hot to boot) and make the sell. It was pretty beautiful.

I mean Peggy is playing checkers compared to Meaghan who's something really different and more sophisticated thanks to the path women like Peggy cleared for her (or rocket launch site maybe?).

The thing is that in imagining the future and being a trailblazer Peggy has compromised herself. Compromised and perhaps damaged, a very intrinsic part of herself, part of her womanliness. Her ability to be seen as and to have maternal feelings,which she both physically and emotionally had to push away if she was going to be a success as a copywriter.

And it's just hit me what the feeling Meaghan had for Peggy in that encounter. It was pity. The kind of pity that comes from one who doesn't realize they've just become a throwback.

But Peggy's not the only one. Don, too, in writing his famous letter to Lucky Strike for which he is feted and celebrated, has also damaged himself perhaps mortally, as he's told in no uncertain terms that they may give him piles and piles of awards for standing up to Lucky Strike, but he's damaged goods in having "bitten the hand" that feeds him. He's ahead of his time as well, but he missed something that instinctual and basic in a business relationship is HUGE. One of the most important things I ever learned about interviewing for a job is that you never, ever, talk badly about any of your former employers, no matter how much they sucked, ever.

But, Don's got amazing abilities to transform himself as we know, and he knows that if something isn't going you're way you change the conversation. You re-frame it the parameters. You force the other side to come up to the next level, either up or down in a way they can't not engage. It'll be interesting to see what his next move is because this puts the new advertising agency in a serious quandary. My bet is that they re-brand themselves completely without his name in the company masthead. And he turns into a bit of a Cooper type. In the background as a mentor and guru and a famed figure in the industry and the selling is going to fall on Meaghan more so than ever, and of course the machinations of the re-vitalized Sterling, and the ever unctious ambitious Pete Campbell.
posted by Skygazer at 1:11 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


And it's just hit me what the feeling Meaghan had for Peggy in that encounter. It was pity. The kind of pity that comes from one who doesn't realize they've just become a throwback.

Man, I didn't read pity in their interaction at all. I think it's weird to project third-wave feminist values on a narrative that takes place barely in the second wave. It also seems preposterously dismissive to characterize Peggy as "playing checkers" because she doesn't play the traditional female role as well as Megan.

I mean, credit where credit's due.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:41 PM on May 1, 2012


I didn't read that from their interaction either. I feel like Meaghan is always unsure of herself. She will never know if her ideas or work is good or that they are deemed good because of her relationship to Don. It's a tricky place to be and she is too self aware not to be bugged by it. She respects Peggy because Peggy came from the outside and succeeded, a path that is no longer open to her.

I think she felt her idea was kind of hokey and to be feted for it seemed false and weird.

I love Peggy's clothes. That tan hat she had on was perfect.

And I was expecting her mother to go off in an entirely different direction when told of Abe and Peggy's shack up relationship. There was no haranguing her for possibly bringing another bastard child in to the world or anything.
posted by readery at 1:59 PM on May 1, 2012


Speaking of prior-thread precognition.

I had no idea we had a secret MM club here, glad to raise a glass with you all. My only regret is not yet to have figured out how to drop in a couple episodes of Strangers.

I suppose it's possible that Dave Algonquin may have, in fact, written for the show, probably after David Gerrold got him the gig as a pinch hitter. Gerrold apparently knew Algonquin via Harry Crane.
posted by mwhybark at 2:11 PM on May 1, 2012


I've actually heard theories that Gerrold is Algonquin, but I don't quite buy it. Algonquin's work is suspiciously lacking in queer cuddling alien subtext.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:27 PM on May 1, 2012


And it's just hit me what the feeling Meaghan had for Peggy in that encounter. It was pity. The kind of pity that comes from one who doesn't realize they've just become a throwback.

I think that's a better angle on the "patrician/working class" divide I was picking up on; I do think Megan was looking down on her. Pity is another way of looking down on someone.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:42 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi: It also seems preposterously dismissive to characterize Peggy as "playing checkers" because she doesn't play the traditional female role as well as Megan. I mean, credit where credit's due.

I'm not dismissing Peggy one bit, and I am giving her credit, she basically powered herself to where she is on raw ability and perserverence. What I'm saying is that she's been altered by the experience (some might even say damaged, but hold on hear me out...) by it, so much so that she's lost her ability to empathize with the values and concerns of more conventional women from the time period. It is the reason Mr. Heinz can't really read her or understand her or where she's coming from, and on an instinctual level is uncomfortable with her ideas for an ad campaign. And that's as much his problem as well. He's an conventional guy who has no way to read a woman in a lead role. He's blind and deaf to it really. His soul is too small. But he's perfect for what he does: He sells beans and canned food and Ketchup. His soul is perfect for that.

And in that way, she is indeed "damaged" a bit, because it's a blind spot for her. (I'm surprised Don hasn't noticed it yet, and tried to correct her approach. And I'm sure he would if he wasn't so lost in his own drama with Meaghan.)

So, she's ahead of her time and half her problems, until the times begin to catch up and people's consciousness is raised is fitting herself in and keeping herself awake in that area until they do catch up.

Peggy is an incredibly complex character. I think some of her trailblazing is due to a certain amount of naivety as well as her ability and ambition. And there's a danger that she gives up on the trailblazing for the sake of finding love and a family. Peggy's been out in the cold a long long time, and she's got to be aching for somewhere to belong.

I think a lot really rests on her remark to Meaghan that "this is as good as this job gets."

I mean WTF, sounds to me like maybe she's re calibrating her goals to me, because either the job isn't fulfilling her the way it used to, and even if it is, she definitely needs more than just the job...

So either Meaghan is pitying her because such, to her, a relatively easy victory would mean so much to Peggy or she's thinks Peggy has a limited imagination as to what "the job" can actually be...

It's like, you poor thing, THIS IS WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT THE JOB? AND THIS IS ALL YOU EXPECT FROM IT?

And this is speculation here (all of this is of course) Meaghan's success might be based not on a new and deeper approach to male/Female interaction, but on limitations as well. Just like Mr. Heinz, maybe she has no ability to understand Peggy. But I think looking at her mother's character, I would find that hard to believe. And perhaps it's simply the dichotomy between a puritan American culture as symbolized by Peggy's background (although she is Catholic. Old-School Catholic) and a more Europeanized and more advanced intellectual semi-aristocratic culture as Meaghan's Quebecois parents signify.

I think it's weird to project third-wave feminist values on a narrative that takes place barely in the second wave.

Well, just because feminism or any new consciousness is hitting a society and being chronicled at a certain time, doesn't mean that the seeds of even newer approaches/waves aren't already in formative and fairly advanced stages.
posted by Skygazer at 3:01 PM on May 1, 2012


Cool Papa Bell:I think that's a better angle on the "patrician/working class" divide I was picking up on; I do think Megan was looking down on her. Pity is another way of looking down on someone.

Yes! You've got the sophisticated intellectual, monied, aristocrat class of Meagan versus a kind of provincial pragmatism and toughness of a Catholic working-class girl from Bay Ridge/Bensonhurst. (Which at the time had quite a large Norwegian working class community. And still has one as a few years ago -1997- I went to a Norwegian National day parade there. It takes place on May 17th, and Norwegian HS kids fly in to walk in it in their traditional clothes and school uniforms. I don't know if it still takes place, anymore).

I say "provincial" because it's strangely true. Many native New Yorkers do either stay in the old hoods or move to Jersey or Long Island. But the old neighborhood is always "home."

Peggy's move to Manhattan is a HUGE thing. She really is a special case. (Yeah, perhaps she's the one playing chess, you're right PhoBWankenobi...)
posted by Skygazer at 3:11 PM on May 1, 2012


Well, just because feminism or any new consciousness is hitting a society and being chronicled at a certain time, doesn't mean that the seeds of even newer approaches/waves aren't already in formative and fairly advanced stages.

I'll be honest: this makes no sense to me. Third wave feminist attitudes came in a direct response to second wave feminism which hasn't happened yet in the chronology of the television show or of, well, history.

Sure, analyzing the social situation from our modern lens, this might appear to be the case--but as several comments on the Tom & Lorenzo blog post pointed out, Peggy is coming of age in a time when the idea of men and women living together unmarried was still absolutely taboo; if you were a career woman, your goals would still very clearly be to be a career and family woman. In fact, Peggy's mother's reaction to her daughter living with a (Jewish) man unmarried was relatively mild. It's only natural for Peggy to go into that conversation expecting a proposal, and her willingness to even consider an alternate situation is still part of her fundamentally trailblazing character.

Megan's success is still very in keeping with the traditional narrative of the time, where, if you succeed as a woman, you succeed in a large part thanks to your husband's business acumen while also supporting the narrative of the supportive woman behind the man. Even Peggy went in to her secretary's position expecting to find romance at Sterling Cooper. And it's not exactly as if Peggy made a conscious choice to reject motherhood, either, in favor of work. I don't know if we can read her failure to nurture her child as a conscious choice in light of how they characterized her in that hospital.

Peggy's whole question this season is whether she needs or wants to reject her femininity completely. And I don't see anything in the narrative really showing that her doing so will leave her completely behind in the business world; she's still successful, despite losing the Heinz account. It's her relationship that's significantly suffered according to the standards of the day, not her work.

She can do a little girl talk in the powder room, quickly grasp the situation, get that key info (information? hmmm...) to Don, feed him the ball, guide it along, show Mr. Heinz that she's THE FUTURE OF MOMS (and totally hot to boot) and make the sell. It was pretty beautiful.

Again, through the viewpoint of the 60s though, I'm not sure we should really read it this way. Megan plays her role as a wife and business partner beautifully, yes, but it's really not so far off from the role that Mona played as Roger's wife, or the Heinz woman played to her husband (notice how she both warns Megan about the impending collapse of the business deal and subtly nudges her husband toward making the decision). I agree that these aren't ways that Peggy excels, but that's because she's just not very traditional--not because of a failure to be progressive or modern according to the standards of her day.

So either Meaghan is pitying her because such, to her, a relatively easy victory would mean so much to Peggy or she's thinks Peggy has a limited imagination as to what "the job" can actually be...

It's like, you poor thing, THIS IS WHAT YOU LIKE ABOUT THE JOB? AND THIS IS ALL YOU EXPECT FROM IT?


Again, I just didn't see any of this in their interaction. In fact, Megan's visible discomfort began before her interaction with Peggy, when she's standing by Don's side.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:23 PM on May 1, 2012


Again, through the viewpoint of the 60s though, I'm not sure we should really read it this way.

I think the show encourages a couple of perspectives and readings of character motivations: One is temporal: the dichotomy between that time and our current time. And the irony and humor that comes from that nuanced tension. It's one of the funniest aspects of the show. (I guess it could be called a post-modern technique, but that's a whole other discussion. In the way it's used in MM it's fantastic, but post-modernism for it's own sake leaves me pretty empty and lost in abstraction...)

The second is the more conventional requirement for the internal logic of a self-contained time period for any story that can stand on it's own merit.

And at the end of the day people are so full of different motivations, and that hasn't changed and hasn't changed since Shakespeare's time it would seem, but MM has a much finer brush. So what is Megan doing there? I agree with you she's definitely unsure how much credit she can take when she's married to the boss, so there's that discomfort, so she can't be entirely sure of how happy people really are for her or kissing her ass a bit and I think that's part of the interaction with Peggy, as well as The pity she feels for Peggy's sense of joy at it, because she, Megan doesn't really understand the hugeness of what she's done from Peggy's POV, who does understand. And then the natural sort of condescension of an intellectual class Europeanized woman towards a pragmatic working class girl from Bay Ridge who's sense of femininity is more awkward in it's expression than Megan's.

Probably more...
posted by Skygazer at 4:39 PM on May 1, 2012


I know this is stating the obvious: forgive me. For all the persuasiveness of the show's period visualization, it is (of course) a product of NOW, not then. So the insertion of anachronistic material is an acknowledged condition, even a privilege, of the show. I remember reading about the use of Selectrics on-set; Weiner wanted them on every desk, when it was a year or two too early for that and he was aware of the discrepancy.

Come to think of it, this may be part of the appeal to SF nerds like me. The show is grounded in the speculative fiction pratice of worldbuilding, and the benefits that can obtain whn you break a rule or two thereof.

Also, while I was walking the dog, it occured to me that these scripts are fitting together like particularly satisfying puzzlebox. I think possibly we are looking at the benefit of the production hiatus.

Lastly, as a child of an academic family, it is indescribably bizarre and uncomfortable to hear that background described (accurately in the context of the show) as "intellectual semi-aristocratic Europeanized" even though I suspect the intended primary cultural referent in that remark is the Francophone culture of Quebec.

Emile's character design, and possibly his politics, is without question inspired by Sartre. Off the cuff, I resist vehemently assigning the description "aristocratic" to Sartre, but on reflection, I can understand the use of the word in that context. If you can use it in good faith to describe Picasso, you can use it to describe Sartre.
posted by mwhybark at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't believe that no one else has mentioned that in an episode all about relationships between fathers and daughters Don had a quick chat with LELAND PALMER
posted by shakespeherian at 6:56 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


So the insertion of anachronistic material is an acknowledged condition, even a privilege, of the show.

Indeed, and there was some talk about the mention of George Romney a few episodes back, and how unlikely it would have been for someone like Francis to be so dismissive of him.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:12 PM on May 1, 2012


shakespeherian, someone in the other thread pointed out that Madchen Amick was the strangulee in Don's fever dream earlier. You are definitely on the trail of something. I look forward to our backward-talking dwarf amanuenses.
posted by mwhybark at 9:56 PM on May 1, 2012


Not to mention that the guy from Mulholland Dr. who wanted to bring you here, to Winkies-- to this Winkies-- because he had that dream again, it's the same both times, I'm sitting here and you're standing over there, and I'm scared like I can't tell you, and then I realize, it's him! he's the one who's doing this! etc. etc.... was Jimmy Barrett back in season 2.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:16 PM on May 1, 2012


mwhybark: it is indescribably bizarre and uncomfortable to hear that background described (accurately in the context of the show) as "intellectual semi-aristocratic Europeanized" even though I suspect the intended primary cultural referent in that remark is the Francophone culture of Quebec.


Yes, it's the Quebec culture, I was referring too, I mentioned that in one of my comments above.

shakespeherian, someone in the other thread pointed out that Madchen Amick was the strangulee in Don's fever dream earlier. You are definitely on the trail of something. I look forward to our backward-talking dwarf amanuenses.

Having only recently really watched (almost all) of Twin Peaks I almost whooped with delight to see Leland Palmer and Mwhybark if you're saying that Machen Amick, was the woman Draper strangled in his dream, this is some sort of great TV synergy going on here.

I wonder if anyone from the Howard Johnson, after Megan split was from TP. It would be cool to see Sherilyn Fenn make an appearance. Heck, it would be great if she became a recurring character, sort of seems like a no brainer.
posted by Skygazer at 10:40 PM on May 1, 2012


or maybe at least the Log Lady. Or Cooper.

Yes, Don killed Laura Palmer in one episode and then heard uncomfortable truths from her dad in the next.
posted by mwhybark at 10:56 PM on May 1, 2012


Ha! Maybe the Log Lady can come to Roger Sterling on his next acid trip and they can hook up. Maybe he can get some Log Lady action and get his timber buffed. Or something...

Sorry.
posted by Skygazer at 12:16 AM on May 2, 2012


Yes, Don killed Laura Palmer in one episode and then heard uncomfortable truths from her dad in the next.

That wasn't Laura Palmer, it was Shelly Johnson.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:07 AM on May 2, 2012


I like to think Of him as The Devil from Reaper, but nobody else watched that.
posted by Artw at 6:54 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey now some of us are just embarrassed to admit we watched that.
posted by The Whelk at 8:30 AM on May 2, 2012


oh, darn it. I posted that without verification because, well, fathers and daughters, so it HAD to be true.
posted by mwhybark at 9:00 AM on May 2, 2012


WHY GILMORE GIRLS!?
posted by stratastar at 7:39 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, Rory. Oh, Rory, no.
posted by rewil at 7:57 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


That episode filled me with this strange sense of dread and unease (and for an episode about feminism, I think that was a deliberate goal) : the scene with Pete driving was full of quick, quick cuts. You knew and didn't know how characters were going to interact.

I still feel queasy.
posted by stratastar at 9:38 PM on May 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, I was flat fucking wrong about Megan.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:43 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys, Peggy told Don to shut up.

What an awesome moment.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:51 PM on May 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh man. Revolver. It's not the 30s anymore Don.

Hell, Tomorrow Never Knows sounds weird and modern even now.
posted by Artw at 10:54 PM on May 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there any significance to the song that the cologne company agreed to?
posted by drezdn at 7:24 AM on May 7, 2012


Will Pete join W.A.S.T.E.?
posted by drezdn at 7:30 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sgt. Pepper is next - Pete is dead!
posted by Artw at 7:31 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there any significance to the song that the cologne company agreed to?

According to Sepinwall, it's the song the Beatles recorded for their Decca Records audition. This version was apparently by The Wedgewoods.
posted by rewil at 7:49 AM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Loved that Pete was reading "Crying of Lot 49."

Possible connections to the episode/Mad Men in general:
-The story includes a beatles-style band.
-Death: The main character is dealing with the estate of her dead ex-boyfriend
-Secrecy: The whole novel... Plus Pynchon could be David Algonquin for all we know.
posted by drezdn at 8:12 AM on May 7, 2012


"Well it sounds like The Beatles" - vast yawning gulf.

Is it like this for those in the know when we say Skilrex is just a bunch of DJ tricks from a decade ago?
posted by Artw at 8:15 AM on May 7, 2012


Theory: Lane has been missing lately because, after the tussle with Pete, he formed New York's first fight club.
posted by drezdn at 12:56 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


The surviving Beatles, along with Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison, signed off on the “Mad Men” usage. The $250,000 licensing fee (split between publisher Sony ATV and the owner of the Beatles’ recorded works, EMI) was based on several factors, including the way the music was built into the storyline of the episode.
How Much ‘Mad Men’ Paid for The Beatles
posted by rewil at 2:41 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Is there any significance to the song that the cologne company agreed to?"

I read that it was Herman's Hermits and was 30 years old.

I hate to subject you all to this, but does anyone find the writing in this recap to be... good? Other writers praise it, but this super terse, I need to write this out in an hour, stultified sentence, sentence, sentence. Just Awful.
posted by stratastar at 4:30 PM on May 7, 2012


I like that recap stratastar. It reads fast and makes some interesting points and fills in some of the detail. I especially like the description of Don looking down the elevator shaft "into a brutalist void" at death, essentially, and Megan is "riding the elevator down to her future."

So, in terms of the analysis from last week, I guess I would have to give myself a mixed grade. I think I nailed the pity and ambivalence Megan feels towards Peggy, but as often happens, when certain grand theories/perspectives are imposed on art, in this case Feminism, it quickly reduces the richness and depth of theme and characterization to monochromatic plane a bit.

There are class issues that I think define Peggy and Megan more effectively really, but even then it tricky.

I can't believe they went all out with licensing Tomorrow Never Knows for a cool 250K. What a great song (listening on headphones and it was just marvelous. Effin' timeless, yo..) and what a great commentary on where the show is going, it's really shocking to me that they've hit Revolver-era 60s Beatles already and The Crying of Lot 49 which seem so ahead of their times to me. Especially Pynchon.

Anyhow, all this glorious bubbling literary style multi-subtext and metaphorical cinematic artistry is so satisfying. Watching anything not on the level of Mad Men, at this point does feel somewhat like "getting stabbed in the heart..."
posted by Skygazer at 1:49 AM on May 8, 2012


Wow. Did last night's episode suck that badly? Where's all the Monday morning Mefi water cooler chat up??
posted by Skygazer at 12:52 PM on May 14, 2012


Come and join us, Skygazer.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:01 PM on May 14, 2012


Thanks for asking, 'cause I was wondering too.
posted by rewil at 2:35 PM on May 14, 2012


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