Casting Internets

Today I came across a lot of Halloween themed links that tickled my fancy (metaphorically, of course, I keep my computer in front of me at all times). There’s lots of other stuff going on too, that I dug, so let’s jump in.

First off, Topless Robot’s list of good and bad toy-based Halloween costumes is rad. Go check it out. My buddy Chris sent around this link from Coolest Homemade Costumes on how to build your own Lego minifigure costume. They look epic. Also, if you dig Halloween mixes, give Chris’s a listen

In other costume news, Instructables has a how-to on creating this awesome Transformers Soundwave costume. I’ll just look at the pictures in awe if that’s okay (via Toyark)

Apparently I’m not the only one who finds the Halloween Snickers commercial creepy. It’s also apparently for sale, which is terrifying.

I haven’t read the Frazer Irving interview my buddy Kiel did over on CBR yet, but my other buddy Sean posted this image on Robot 666 today. It’s awesome. I hope to catch up on Batman fairly soon. I don’t want to read the full interview with Detention director Joseph Kahn did over on io9 yet because I don’t want anything spoiled. I was sold with the concept of a slasher movie mixed with a time traveler flick. Also, the above image is both scary and awesome. When can I see this movie?! (via /Film)

Okay, one last Halloween-related link. The August Society is doing a series called 8-bit Cavalera. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I love the idea of painting anything on old NES cartridges. This one by Evan Lopez is my favorite so far. Apparently you can actually buy Roger Sterling’s book from Mad Men. Sterling’s Gold is available on Amazon for $11.43. (via /Film)

If you’ve got some extra cash to spare, bid on this 14-inch Hal Jordan DC Universe Classics prototype signed by The Four Horsemen over on Charitybuzz. Proceeds benefit Mattel’s Children’s Hospital UCLA, so it goes to a good cause and it’s an awesome, one-of-a-kind collectible. (via Toynewsi)

If you’re looking for an internship at Marvel, check out this article on Marvel.com.

Wynn Ryder’s sketch of Bruce Lee on Sketchjam is rad. Nuff said.

Mad Men Season 2 “The Good News”

While an show title tends to encompass that episode as far as themes go, I think Joan’s line at the very end of the episode kind of retroactively sums up the whole thing: “Alright, gentlemen, shall we begin 1965?” All the events take place around New Year’s Eve without really showing the big moment, which is exactly how they handled the Christmas holiday. Unlike most TV shows, they’re not pandering to what audiences might expect from a holiday themed episode, they’re giving you something new and complicated that you’ve got to sift through, at least partially.

Joan, Don and Lane take the spotlight this episode, so I’ll address them thusly. We start the episode off with Joan visiting her possibly gay OBGYN (I just got the vibe) which tells us a few things we didn’t know before. First off, Joan’s off the pill in an effort to start having kids before her rapist husband leaves for basic training (he might fool some of you with being a good guy, but I won’t forget). We also discover that Joan had a pair of abortions, one done by a woman claiming to be a midwife, the other by the OBGYN. He doesn’t think it will effect a future pregnancy. The third thing is that she and Greg have been married 2 years. I guess you could have figured that out somehow on your own, but I like nice solid numbers thrown at me from time to time.

Joan’s husband has to do rounds on New Year’s so Joan tries to get a few days after the New Year’s break off. She gets shot down pretty harshly by Lane who finishes things off with a “Now don’t go crying.” Excuse me? Joan? Go crying? You’ve got another think coming, you bloody git. Joan doesn’t get the days off, but does get some roses with a somewhat dismissive note that she tears into Lane about, but as it turns out, his stupid secretary sent the wrong messages to the wrong people. Joan fires her on the spot, showing Lane exactly how tough she is. I think he got the message even if having it yelled in his face didn’t do the trick. Later Joan tries to throw a belated New Year’s party for Dr. Hubby when he gets home, but just ends up cutting herself. I cringed like crazy because I’m a huge wuss. Joan’s not wanting him to stitch up her finger worked on two levels for me. On the first, I could totally relate because my mom’s a nurse and anytime I hurt myself badly, she was the last one I wanted helping me (you don’t want to see someone you love coming at you with a needle). The other level–the one I assumed the writers were going for unless they were specifically trying to needle those of us with medical people in our family–is that she doesn’t believe he’s got the skills to be a doctor (I wasn’t sure either), but as he says, this is basically the equivalent of her filing papers or something. No big deal for him, like firing that idiot secretary was no big deal for her.

As you  might expect, Don takes up most of the screen time. He’s going to Acapulco, though as far as I remember, we’re never told explicitly why (at first I thought it was a business trip, then figured it was for the holidays–they must get a week off or something for the New Year’s holiday). Anyway, he stops off in Cali for a while to see Anna, his other wife. I love this character. She’s impossible not to. And I think it’s awesome that Don loves her too, but not in a sexual way. I think this might be the only person on the show Don loves absolutely with the other candidates possibly being his kids, but the jury’s still out on that one. Don visits Anna for a while and they experience each other the way that only two people with nothing to hide from one another can. She even delivers one of the greatest lines of anything ever: “I know everything about you and I still love you.” That really is love, isn’t it?

Don meets Anna’s niece who I would have bet one of my freelance checks on him hooking up with her when he goes to drop her off after a night of drinking and dancing (which Anna was along for most of). He does try, but instead of getting some ass, he gets the unfortunate news that Anna has bone cancer and doesn’t even know it. The doc told Anna’s sister who told her daughter, but didn’t want to worry Anna with the news. So, as Don leaves later in the episode after having it out with the sister who doesn’t think too highly of him, Don leaves, knowing everything about Anna and–I think–loves her even more.

Don goes to Acapulco (we see him get a Happy New Year hat and a drink on the plane, that’s the extent of the festivities) and turns right around to find Lane as the only one in the office. He said he was heading back to London to see his wife and kids, but after the flower mix up she told him it was over, though, let’s be honest, this was pretty much written on the wall since last season. For a little while, I was thinking that the obviousness of this situation was a little boring on the writers’ part, but this kind of thing happens in real life, you know? We all know couples who you just know are going to break up even if it takes them a while to find out themselves.

Anyway, Don and Lane are hanging out in the office, getting drunk separately and then they decide to go to a giant Japanese monster movie. It looked like Gamera to me. They get dinner, Don calls some hookers and they meet them at a club. The quartet then heads back to Don’s creepy man apartment (one of the girl’s comments on it’s “manliness,” which I assume translates to “grossness”). Lane bangs one of the broads in Don’s room while Don presumable takes his usual girl out on the couch as he doesn’t want anyone having sex in the kids’ room. What a good dad. The next morning is that very distinct kind of awkward when you’re trying to pay your colleague back for a prostitute you had sex within inches of him. Gross.

Again, I’m left marveling at how good of a show this is. The writers do an amazing job of creating these characters who are so dense and interesting and different, though still relateable and then bouncing them off of each other and the supporting cast and the results all feel perfectly organic. I don’t remember seeing Don and Layne interact much aside from the office and that dinner they had with their former wives, but seeing them together was really fun. Same with Layne and Joan, two characters who hadn’t interacted much and clearly didn’t know each others’ boundaries. I’d say they do now. It’s also interesting to see that the men in the firm are becoming more and more modern as most of them have ex wives now (Roger, Don, Lane, better look out Pete). Speaking of which, as I mentioned, the episode doesn’t involve Pete or Roger whatsoever (aside from brief appearances in the last scene) and Peggy only pops in for a minute. That’s how strong the show is, it can survive and even thrive without some of it’s bigger cast members (oh, also no Betty, thank God).

Something Wicked-Awesome This Way Comes

Okay, so it’s probably not wicked-awesome, but I’ve decided to schedule some of my reoccurring posts live Covering Vinyl, Crossovers I Want To See, Toy Commercial Tuesday, Trade Post, Ad It Up, Supergroup Showcase and I’m repurposing Sketchbook Sunday as Sketchbook Saturday. I’m also looking to start reviewing records on a weekly basis, just because I love talking about music. I’m a big fan of making lists and crossing things of said lists, so this is the best way for me to keep up on the posts I intend to do. Of course, you’ll also be seeing the usual Real Housewives, Real World, Jersey Shore, Mad Men and Big Bang Theory posts, plus a few potential other returning favorites and new shows on the corresponding days. Of course, I’ll still be watching movies and random other TV shows and sharing my opinions on those here and there.

I’ve also been toying around with the idea of a weekly post called The Perks Of Being A Freelancer, that won’t just cover the perks, but some of the ins and outs of making it as a freelancer nowadays. I’m going to see how August goes and then move on from there. I might also be getting another writer or two in the near future to make the name of the website really make sense (can one monkee be united?). So, keep your eyes peeled, tell your friends and leave some comments on what you might like to see on the site that I’ve done in the past and am no longer doing, or brand new kinds of posts you think might work. I appreciate the feedback.

Mad Men Season 4 “Christmas Comes But Once A Year”

Tonight’s episode of Mad Men was a damn interesting one. First off, I can’t think of another time where I’ve seen a Christmas-themed episode on the first day of August. I thought it might be difficult to put myself in the holiday spirit, but, because the show is so well written, it’s not supposed to put you in the spirit. If anything it just makes you want to go to a 60s advertising agency party, especially one where Joan’s leading the conga line. Hubba hubba.

The episode kicks off by reintroducing us to Glen, the creepy kid who lives in the neighborhood that Don used to live in and Betty still does with the kids and her new husband (not weird at all, I’m sure). You’ll remember him as the boy that Betty gave some of her hair to, which I’m pretty sure makes her the reason he’ll become a serial killer in the 80s. Anyway, the Ossining bunch doesn’t do much but go Christmas tree shopping and have their house broken into by Glen (yet another sign of his obvious future) who throws food all over the place, which is great because the less Betty the better. The missus thinks its his attempt to scare the family into wanting to move, which is something Sally wants. I think it’s so he can show her how close he can get with ease, but then again, I’ve seen a TON of horror movies (and am watching another as I type).

It’s funny, sometimes I take notes while watching shows and early in the episode I typed “I like Don’s relationship with his secretary” because they seemed to have a nice rapport that didn’t cross the line and he seemed like he was taking care of her, saying he’d make sure she got a bonus no matter what. In fact, I was thinking that we never actually saw Don get with one of his secretaries did we? Until about 30 minutes later, that is, after Don had gotten back to his sad man apartment and realized he forgot his keys so she came over and gave them to him. And then gave it to him (see what I did there?). The next day he returns to the trashed office and gives her her Christmas bonus, but it comes off as incredibly awkward, leading her to type a letter I will assume is her resignation, but will obviously have to wait until later to know for sure.

So that’s how the episode ended, but that wasn’t all that happened. Peggy’s dating Carl from Lost which is funny. This is the guy who met Don last episode when he helped bail out the women doing the ham stunt. He’s a total goober and keeps talking about her losing her virginity to him. They finally have sex by the end of the episode and he asks if she feels different to which the missus said something like “He must not be too experienced because she’s had a kid and I’ve heard things change down there after that.” I will concede to her vast knowledge of womanhood on that one. Peggy also gets into it a little with the newly returned Freddy Rumsen (yeah, the guy who got drunk, pissed himself, got fired and wound up providing Peggy with her first office). He’s on the wagon, but he’s old fashioned and kind of sucks at his job.

What else, what else? Ah, yes, the party. First off Trudy was there and it’s always fun to see Alison Brie either here or on Community. The party looked pretty fun, like I said and made me want to go to there, but the scenes between Roger and the guy from Lucky Strike were intense. Lucky Strike Man (Lee) zeroed in on Roger and wanted to embarrass him. Is there a reason on the show we’ve seen for this? I couldn’t remember anything, but my memory is the pits. It was completely worth it though to hear Don and Roger calling him Hitler and doing pretty hilarious German accents the next morning. I wonder why he didn’t focus on anyone else. Also, I wonder if this character is based on a real person or any real events involving Lucky Strike (a real company) and their real advertising agency or if it was all just dreamed up using a now-defunct company. Anyway, I find this element of the show fascinating, like the portrayal of Paris Hilton’s great grandad (there might need to be another great in there somewhere) Conrad Hilton a season or two back. 

It’s funny and a testament to how well the show is written that Don was around three different women, two of which I was certain he was going to sleep with and another I didn’t and he wound up sleeping with that one (the secretary). Don met his neighbor who is a nurse who literally tried jumping his bones at one point on the pretense of helping him out. I also thought he might get down with the psychologist woman whose test he refused to take. I hope she sticks around and maybe even gets Don to open up.

Mad Men Season 4 “Public Relations”

Like anyone else who saw last season’s heist film-like season finale, I was jazzed to sit down tonight and watch the fourth season premiere of Mad Men. I wasn’t as in love with the premiere as I was with the finale, but it was interesting. One of the best elements of the show is that you’ve got to pay attention to understand what the hell is going on. Last time we saw Don and Co. they were starting their new firm working out of a hotel room and now they’re in some very hip looking offices. What has the gap in time been? What’s the deal with Don and Betty or Betty and her new…is that guy her husband? You don’t really have to wait that long to discover these details and they’re delivered in ways that don’t seem forced or ham-handed (Don talking to his lawyer, Don talking to someone in the office). This is why when Peggy’s guy friend said something about them being engaged, you don’t really know if it’s the case or not (was that the artist guy from the office or someone else?). You could probably figure out the exact week the episode was set thanks to his date being a bit of a chatterbox and awkwardly talking about murder.

But, Don’s not the only star here. Frankly, I think Peggy came off as the most interesting character, title of the show aside, I think the show’s really about her. She’s not mewling anymore and she does seem to understand her relationship with Don more now. I liked seeing more of her creative process, trying to come up with new tag lines for the ham campaign. If you’re interested in a much more detailed look at Peggy’s growth as a character through the lens of her costumes over the course of the season, along with Betty, Joan and other characters, do yourself a favor and go through Tom And Lorenzo’s Mad Style posts on their site, they are fantastic. Speaking of Joan, there wasn’t enough of her, though she seemed like the same, strong person. I hope she’s actually a part of Harry Crane’s TV team and not “just” a secretary, but she’s just so damn good at it. I would honestly watch an entire show of her just hanging out telling secretaries what to do, reading the entries in Creature Features or, well, anything.

One last thing that I don’t think I’ve mentioned on the site before: I HATE Betty. I know she’s largely the victim thanks to Don’s shenanigans (by the way, he used that word in a way that didn’t sound ridiculous in this episode which just shows how awesome John Hamm is), but I just can’t stand her. I think she’s a bad mother who has no idea how to deal with her emotions because she’s had everything taken care of for her her entire life. I understand that that makes her a tragic figure (the product of her environment, not prepared for anything having to do with the real world), but the way she deals with her problems just sets me off. I hope her new politician boyfriend leaves her (how awesome is his mother in the role of “rich woman who knows how things really work”?).

So, there you have it. The season seems more focused on Don preventing what seems to be a downward spiral, but we shall see. Mad Men has a tendency to seem like it’s about one thing, then shake, bake and be about something completely different, which is what makes it so interesting.

Casting Internets

First up, I’ve got to plug myself. I’ve got a new post up over at The Clik called The 10 Strangest Corporate Video Games and my TV column over on Maxim, We Like To Watch, is up for the week. Enjoy it now because, thanks to crazy holiday schedules, we won’t be doing one next week. As always, if you want to check out any more of my online writing, check out the Writing Links tab up above.

Now on to some friends. The dudes over at The Cool Kids Table have been doing a fun series of posts called Our Comics Decade where Ben, Rickey and Kiel talk about their comic collecting days of the last 10 years. Here’s 2000, 2001 and 2002. Sean even mentioned it over on Robot 6. Keep checking back for more!

Also, I don’t know Michael Cho, but I’d like to be friends with him, especially if it meant I could have gotten a rad Christmas card like this one he created. His blog‘s a lot of fun, check it out.

Also, check out this Christmas-themed Mad Men piece created by Danny Hellman. (via Robot 6)Finally, Warner Bros. recently released the cover art for the Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths box cover, which also shows off a little bit of Spectre art which will be a short on the DVD. That’s a great move in my opinion and after recently watching Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, I’m jazzed for this one.

Season Finale: Mad Men

After a season that left me a bit cold, the third season’s finale was a lot of fun. My problem with the season as a whole was that it seemed like every single character became unlikable for various reasons. Also, while Don continued to fall (dive?) off the fidelity wagon and become fairly unlikable, the secondary characters fell to the wayside. It was a bummer. So this whole last-minute, “let’s get out and start our own company in a weekend” storyline not only added a good bit of urgency to the story, but also that question of who will and who won’t join the new team? Plus, them ransacking the office was awesome and fairly unexpected.

By the end of the episode we’ve got the new group consisting of Don, Roger, Cooper, Peggy, Harry, Pete, Lane Pryce (the British guy) and Joan on the new team. Pete’s wife is also around and I find that I’m enjoying her character a lot more both because she’s more interesting AND because I like her on Community. We shall see how things go with the other characters like Kenny, Paul and the hippies. I’d also like to see them get Sal back, but the cigarette dude that they poached still has beef.

On the subject of Betty leaving Don, it’s about friggin’ time. And I don’t mean that in the sense of “she deserves better,” I mean it in the sense of “please go away forever.” She has been bothering me for most of the second and all of the third seasons and I hope Henry Francis dumps her (jeez, why am I so worked up?). I will say that it must have been pretty terrifying have a drunk and pissed Don waking you up in the middle of the night asking about the man you’re cheating on him with.

So, I can say with certainty that this season finale not only left me feeling rejuvenated by a show I was losing interest in, but it also got me really excited to see how things happen next season, which apparently starts this summer. Can’t wait!