“It’s a time machine”: A Farewell to ‘Mad Men’

Sunday night was the finale of one of my favorite shows of all time, Mad Men. Sadly, many people I know didn’t seem to care. When I spoke of the mixture of excitement and sadness I was feeling many people responded with, “That show is still on?” or “Sunday is all about Game of Thrones” (which I now see is valid)

The most common reason I hear for why people don’t watch Mad Men is that it is too slow moving. There is too much talking. Nothing happens. Those people obviously haven’t watched more than a few episodes. Mad Men is one of the best shows on television because of its pace and focus on characters. The entire show is built around the study of Donald Draper (Jon Hamm), his journey, and the people in his life. The show works because it is well crafted and rich with small details of life in the 1960’s and 70’s. It flawlessly includes historical events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the moon landing while still weaving a story all its own. Plus there are the gorgeous costumes, the often outrageous hairstyles and beards of the male cast members, the set pieces and the music that all help to create a television show that functions as a truly immersive experience.

No this show doesn’t have dragons or drug lords or superheroes or fight scenes (although there was that one time Lane beat up Pete), but it doesn’t need them. Creator Matthew Weiner knows how to tell a story, about people, about the times they lived in, the careers they had and their hopes and dreams and desires. It is not a show that instantly rewards viewers; rather the more time you spending watching and delving into the lives of these characters the more enjoyable the show becomes. In today’s world of instant gratification and binge watching it is nice to see something that requires a little more time and thought to enjoy. (That being said I fully endorse binging Mad Men on Netflix if you have yet to watch this amazing show.)

I pity the people who don’t know Roger’s one liners or Joan ‘s amazing facial expressions or what happened with the lawnmower in season 3. People who have never experienced elevated heart rate during a pitch meeting or wondered what would happen after every merger. People who can hear “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and “Zou Bisou Bisou” without thinking of the defining scenes that came from those songs.

So thank you Mad Men for bringing style and substance to my Sunday nights and for always giving me something to think about long after the credits roll and the closing song ends. I’m getting nostalgic already.

Final Thoughts

  • The series finale was perfect. There is nothing I would change.
  • Peggy Olson is one of my favorite TV heroines right alongside Leslie Knope, Liz Lemon, and Lorelai Gilmore.

  • Until I re-watched that clip I linked to above I forgot how much I used to hate Pete and what a “grimy little pimp” he was. My how his character changed.
  • I love to hate Harry Crane. Mostly hate.
  • Stan has always been my favorite. (Even more so now.)
  • I am going to miss Roger and Caroline’s interactions most of all.

Favorite Episodes:

  • Nixon vs. Kennedy (1.12), The Wheel (1.13), Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency (3.6), The Grown-Ups (3.12), Shut the Door. Have a Seat (3.13), The Suitcase (4.7), A Little Kiss (5.1), The Other Woman (5.11), Favors (6.11), In Care Of (6.13), Time Zones (7.1) and Lost Horizons (7.12).

Track by Track: Wilder Mind

Mumford and Sons is my favorite band that currently plays together (since you know John and George…can’t). So when I heard they were releasing a rock album without their signature banjo I reacted the same way you do when you see your best friend from high school the summer you return from college: you both have changed, but you try to love them despite all that because of the history you share.

My first listen of Wilder Mind, the band’s third album, has left me torn. I love it because it’s Mumford and Sons and I’m sad because it’s not the Mumford and Sons I have come to know and love. I do like that as a band they want to grow and evolve and play the music they are passionate about. And I know the more I listen to the album the more I will come to love it. This is just my first reaction listening to the tracks the first couple of times.

1. Tompkin Square Park

It is startling listening to the complete album for the first time and hearing an electric guitar opening. They are really making the differences known right from the start. However, hearing Marcus Mumford’s voice, deep and crooning is a reminder that not that much has changed; the key elements that made me fall in love with this band in the first place still remain.

Favorite line: No flame burns forever/You and I know this all too well/Most don’t even last the night

2. Believe 

I loved “Believe” from the very first time I heard it, maybe because it was the first new Mumford song I had heard in a long time. Or maybe because I actually just like it. It manages to sound like a lot of rock/alternative songs out there today and yet there’s also nothing quite like it. I really like almost ambient sounding of the opening and how it builds.

3. The Wolf

“The Wolf” is probably my favorite of the three singles released. This is their arena song. The song with which I believe they will open many a concert with it’s sing-along lyrics and upbeat, high energy tempo. This is the song that says, “We have arrived. Here is our new sound.” It’s also the song I belt in the car with the windows down.

4. Wilder Mind

I think this is one of those songs that will grow on me the more I listen to it. It definitely isn’t “Babel” which is one of my favorite songs from their previous album and a really strong title track. It does have a nice beat though.

5. Just Smoke

I like this song. The band’s voices blend really well together and it has a rhythm that makes you want to move. The lyrics are also good for singing along. There is a lot of imagery in the album so far of weakness and being held back which is interesting.

Favorite line: I thought we were done/And young love would keep us young

6. Monster

Mumford and Sons always have one song with really good use of an f-bomb and this one is it. (Although nothing comes close to, “I really f*cked it up this time/Didn’t I my dear?” from “Little Lion Man.”) The guitar is strong in this one, almost sweet sounding. It complements the lyrical imagery.

Favorite lines: Yours is the face, that makes my body burn/And here is the name that our sons will learn:/Curse the beauty, curse the queen/Curse the beauty, leave me

7. Snake Eyes

“Snake Eyes” was the last single released, but it still holds up to the rest. It starts out slow and then builds with nice momentum. When I first heard it I was really just ready to hear the whole album so I didn’t actually listen to the lyrics, but really hearing them this time is adding new power to the song. I love the guitar riff at the very end (and I wish I had any kind of musical ability/knowledge so I could write more technically about it).

Favorite line: We had it tonight/Why do we always seek absolution?

8. Broad Shoulder Beasts

I love how much New York City influences this album. There are two songs with names of places (“Tompkins Square Park” and “Ditmas”) and this one name drops Manhattan itself. The song touches on such a relatable theme: being a stranger in a strange land and taking out your fear on those close to you. It evokes such strong imagery especially in the beginning.

9. Cold Arms

At first listen probably my favorite non-single song. That probably has to do with the fact that is sounds so much like the old Mumford I love with Marcus’ angelic voice leading and the rest of the band’s harmonies raising up to meet him.

Favorite lyrics: But in my cold arms/You don’t sleep/In my cold arms/Your fear beats/In my cold arms/You stay

10. Ditmas

After the last couple of slower songs I really like the energy brought back by “Ditmas.” I am getting into this new sound of theirs. Definitely a toe tapping song. I would like to see which member of the band wrote each song because I know this is the first album where they all contributed material. I bet anything this is either a Winston or Ted  song since they both were going through break-ups at the time of recording.

Favorite line: Your words are empty as the bed we made

11. Only Love

There is an overwhelming sense of loneliness on this album which I think is fitting. My experience is that big cities tend to be full of people and yet extremely isolating at the same time. People yearn to make connections and this album and especially this song seems to echo that sentiment.

Favorite line: Didn’t they say that only love could win in the end

12. Hot Gates

Oh hello piano and beautiful harmonies. I can picture this song live with just four spotlights and an otherwise dark stage. A great song to close out the album (even though the deluxe version does have a live versions of the singles and “Tompkins Square Park”).

Favorite lyrics: But I will love you constantly/There’s precious little else to me/And though we cry, we must stay alive

I can’t wait to listen to Wilder Minds a thousand more times. See you at the Squamish Valley Music Festival lads! (Yes I’m driving over 1,300 miles from Los Angeles to British Columbia to see them play. And I can’t wait.)

A Little More Personal: ONE YEAR LATER

One year.

365 days.

525,600 minutes.

That is how long I have lived in California.

IMG_1266Where did the time go?

It seems like just yesterday my friend (now roommate/soul sister) and I hopped into my car and drove cross country with no plan, a few suitcases of clothes, and a vague idea of what life would be like on the golden shores of Cali. In my original blog post about my decision to come to California I called it a, “work-cation, half work and half vacation, since it’s not a permanent move.”

Oops.

This has become way more than a vacation. California has become the place where I live and work. The place where I own furniture and have registered my car. Recently I traveled to Texas to work on the Academy of Country Music Awards and when asked, “Where are you from?” 9 times out of 10 I replied, “Los Angeles.” I have gone home to New York three times now and each time I bring back more stuff (including all of my Harry Potter books) to make my apartment more homey. Honestly I’m not sure if I ever thought I would come back, but if I had thought that at the time it would have been almost impossible to get in my car and drive away.

A year ago I was struggling. I couldn’t find a job. I wasn’t happy. I was living at home wanting only to go back to college because I missed my friends. I needed a change of scenery and a kick in the pants. California was exactly what I needed and nothing like I expected.  I found not only the change of scenery I was looking for and many, different jobs, but along the way I changed. I became independent. Stronger. Braver. Happier. A little bit tanner and blonder.

Living 3,000 miles away from home has taught me some very important lessons. That family is everything and you2015-04-12 23.10.25 should appreciate every moment you get to spend with them. That technology is amazing because when you can’t be there you can at least Facetime sing happy birthday to your sister at midnight. I have learned that friends are the family you choose and that it is best to choose friends from Texas because they love to cook and share their food with you.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned though is that it is okay to ask for help. I call my parents daily to ask everything from how to best clean my bathroom to why my car is making weird noises. I ask my friends for rides to the airport and if they’ve lived in California longer than me for the best places to eat and drink. 95% of the jobs I’ve had came about because I emailed a co-worker and asked if they needed someone for their next show. I have never  been very good on telling people what I need, but I am getting better. You need people to survive in this world, especially in a strange place. More than ever I have come to understand that the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” is very easily applied to adults too.

As much as I have learned this adventure has not all been easy. This is the furthest I have ever lived from home. I get homesick all the time, most days it seems to come out of nowhere. The worst part of homesickness is that there is no cure. It hits you in the gut and the only thing you can do is wait for it to pass. Another problem is the physical distance itself. Lately my grandmother has been in and out of the hospital and there is nothing worse than feeling helpless because I am on the other side of the country. Those are the worst days. The days where I cry and question what I am doing with my life and why I moved all the way out here. Sometimes I wonder if I should move back. But then my mom tells me how proud she is of me or I tell someone the story of how I moved out here and watch the awed expression on their face or I stand next to Chris Evans backstage at an award show or I do my taxes on my own and I know I made the right decision. Moving away from home is hard, it’s the hardest thing I’ve done so far, but it has been worth it.IMG_4030In one year California has already brought me so many amazing things. I can only begin to imagine what this next year will bring. Whatever comes, I’ll be ready for it, armed with my family and my friends and a newfound appreciation of what it means to find a home.

Los Angeles, I’m yours.

A Little More Personal: “So…What Do You Want to Do?”

Recently, I have been working on new shows and meeting a lot of new people. Both are equally great things, but meeting new people always comes with the inevitable questions: “Where are you from?” “How long have you been in the industry?” “So, what do you want to do?”

The later is my least favorite question. I have been a production assistant for about a year and a half now, I feel like I should have it all figured out. But the truth is, I don’t. There are so many things I want to do in this industry, but when people ask me that question I freeze up because I feel like I am supposed to have an answer like, “direct” or “write a sitcom.” Something big and looming in the future.

While I don’t know what I want my future job title to be, PA-ing has taught me a few things about myself. I like working on sets where I get to know the lay of the land and with big crews where I get to meet a lot of different people. I don’t want to work with cameras or lighting or anything technical. Anyone who does is a wizard in my eyes because my brain just doesn’t work in that way; I’m not a hands on person and I’ve come to accept that. (Even though I do believe the world needs more female directors and cinematographers, I  just sadly will not be one of them).

I like the creative side of the industry. The side where all the parts of the show come together. Award shows are great for that because I have seen firsthand how the work of each department, from production to transportation to art and staging, contributes to one big show. No matter how many times I see it, the process of transforming an empty theater into a televised event always amazes me. I also like seeing how ideas and interviews become stories and episodes in reality television. Recently I worked on the 3rd season of Hollywood Game Night which was not only fun, but eye opening because I never realized everything that went into making each game a reality. Game producing is a position I never knew existed before, and would not have known about if not for being a production assistant on the show.

Another position that interests me is casting. Casting is so important for a project and yet it is so subjective. It takes someone with vision and decisiveness to pick the right person for a part. Like the decision to cast 10 and 11 year olds Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson in the Harry Potter series. Like the decision to cast little known Aussie actor Chris Hemsworth as Thor (and every other Marvel related casting decision).  Like Tom Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. When I read the book I thought, “This is the worst decision for Lestat, why would they cast Tom Cruise?” Then I watched the movie and understood. Someone knew something I didn’t.

So far everything I  moved to L.A. to do has happened. It’s amazing, but true. I worked on the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards and almost every award show in between. I am going to Texas next month for the Academy of Country Music Awards. I have worked on game shows and talk shows and reality shows. It is time for me to make some new career related goals, even if they don’t involve a five year plan.

Some things I want to do:

  • Work on a cooking competition show
  • Work on a travel show or a show where I get to travel
  • Work on a scripted television show
  • Become an associate or story producer
  • Work on a film
  • Be involved in casting for a book to film adaptation
  • Do social media for an awards show
  • WORK FOR MARVEL (in any capacity)

Hey if I’ve been this lucky so far, the rest will come. And let’s be honest, it hasn’t been all luck. It’ been hard-work-12-plus-hour-days-no-weekends-off-haven’t-seen-my-roommate-in-weeks-even-though-we-live-in-the-same-apartment type stuff.

So I’ve decided when someone asks me, “What do you want to do?” I am going to think of it more as, “What do you want to do next?” not “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” That’s why I’m in this industry and why I don’t have a typical 9-t-5. I work freelance. I have the ability to change my mind (and career path) tomorrow.

I’m ready for whatever comes next.

Fangirl Friday-1/23

It only took 23 days for me to have my first Fangirl Friday of the new year.

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1. The Rewrite trailer

I love Hugh Grant and his affable Britishness. But that’s not what has me fangirling. What has me fangirling is the fact that he and several other characters in this film say the word, “Binghamton.” And wear Binghamton apparel. And stand in Binghamton locations. In case you didn’t know, Binghamton University is my alma mater, the place where I spent four of the best years of my life. The Rewrite is written by frequent Grant collaborator, Marc Lawrence, a fellow Binghamton alumni. I’m am so excited to see this film that is a love letter to a place that means so much to me and that I miss immensely. The only thing I didn’t like about the trailer were the shots of the Binghamton “campus” which were not actually filmed at my school because I guess it isn’t Hollywood looking enough. (Although 0:39 of the trailer does show the Glenn G. Bartle library, a place where I spent way too much time.)

Also, besides Hugh Grant, the cast also includes J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney, and Marisa Tomei. What’s not to love?

2. X-Men: Apocalypse casting news

I think X-Men has some of the best casting of superhero/comic books films (outside of the Avengers of course). Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey in the original X-Men series is one of my favorite characters of all time (not counting X3, which no one does). She serves more of a purpose than just “Wolverine’s girlfriend”, she’s a badass mutant with some of the coolest and most dangerous powers. Which is why I am so excited about the introduction of her younger self in the X-Men reboot/prequel series. I dabble in Game of Thrones and I love the casting of Sophie Turner as the young Jean Grey. I think she has the quiet strength and vulnerability that is essential to bring the younger version of this character to life.

I don’t know the actors playing young Storm and Cyclops, but I am sure they will be good choices and I’m excited to see the early years of the Jean/Scott romance.

Honorable Mentions

  • I am on the last two episodes of White Collar and wow what an incredible job they are doing wrapping up this show. I loved the storyline with Rebecca and even though the Pink Panther one in season 6 isn’t as strong I am excited to see how it is all going to end.

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My gosh I am going to miss seeing this man on my TV.

A Little More Personal: 2015 is My Year

Every year I make a New Year’s resolution to blog more and yet here I am, 15 days into the 2015 with nothing to show for myself. But I have a good reason. I’ve been busy. Really busy. As in work-go-home-shower-sleep-and-do-nothing-else busy. My dad’s birthday was 10 days ago and his card is still in my purse. (Sorry Dad!) But I like being busy, especially since it is because I have been working. On the Golden Globes.

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If you would have asked me last year at this time if I could have imagined a life where I live in California and work on my favorite awards shows I would have said, “No, that’s not possible.” But here I am. In California for NINE MONTHS now and quite literally living my dreams. It is the most surreal experience, one that I still don’t believe actually happened to me. The show itself passed by in a blur of faces I had previously only watched on my television screen. The only sad part to me was missing out on actually watching including every bit with Tina and Amy, but it more than made up for it when they walked by me on their way off the stage at the end of the night.

All of this makes me realize  how completely lucky I am (a word I would have never previously would have used to describe myself) and how hard I have worked to get here. This isn’t a #humblebrag. This is an actual brag. I have worked hard, I have pushed myself, and I am proud of where I am going and where I have been. And I shouldn’t ashamed to say it. 2015 is already off to a great start (broken resolutions aside) and I plan on taking every opportunity that this new year brings.

Other things that are great about 2015 so far? Galavant, a show I knew I would like, but I didn’t know I would like SO MUCH. I haven’t laughed that hard in awhile. There are so many little in jokes and pop culture shout outs (John Stamos’ character is named SIR JEAN HAMM for goodness sake). It’s a show that would be great as it is, but is made even better by the addition of musical numbers. Psych fav Timothy Osmond is hilarious and Joshua Sasse is easily one of my new TV crushes. For sure the only good thing about Sundays.

I have also been catching up on a bunch of nominated films including Boyhood (great concept, but didn’t love it overall), Whiplash (LOVE LOVE LOVE, I could watch that final scene over and over again), Into the Woods (one word: “Agony”, the song not the emotion), and The Theory of Everything (Very Good, loved the music but don’t have much else to say).

2015 has a lot of great things in store (and I don’t just mean Avengers: Age of Ultron). I am excited to see what this year brings both in pop culturally and in my life. Either way, I’ll write about (probably months after it happens, but you know, I’m doing the best I can).

Final Words

  • Because I now work on award shows I will no longer be posting my nomination reactions. I know you’re all veryyy upset, but it is something I just decided would be for the best for now.

TV Notes:

  • I can’t wait to watch Agent Carter. Like I said, I’ve been VERY BUSY, but I plan on watching it the second I have time (aka this weekend). Same goes for the Duplass brothers’ Togetherness. 
  • The final season of Parks and Rec started this week and I still can’t bring myself to watch it because the faster I watch it the sooner it will be over.
  • I’m finally catching up on the end of White Collar and WOW is it good. The second half of season 5 has been insane which only makes me more excited for what season 6 and the finale will bring.

Fangirl Friday-12/5

This week I’m fangirling over something old, something new, something Marvel, and something Ru!

1. Something Marvel: 75 Years from Pulp to Pop

I found this little featurette after watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D one night on Hulu and was hooked. I find the story of the Marvel greats Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and Steve Ditko as interesting as the characters they created. If you like comics even a little bit I would say it is totally worth watching this 40 minute special. Also, it includes a pretty awesome clip from Agent Carter that already has me shipping Peggy (aka the brilliant Hayley Atwell) and Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy). (Although obviously PEGGY AND CAP FIVE-EVER.)

Also, just read that the Russo brothers and Joe Johnson will all be directing episodes of Agent Carter so I’m pretty excited. Especially since I know that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D winter finale will probably end with some large cliffhanger that will undoubtedly drive me crazy/leave me heartbroken.

2. Something Marvel Part 2

This week the company I am working for expanded into a new building. In front of that building there are parking spots labeled with names like “Joss Whedon” and “Kevin Feige” (among others). TRY TELLING ME TO BE CALM ABOUT THIS I DARE YOU. Needless to say when I walk to the new building I always go through the parking lot extra slowly. Side note: Joss drives a prius. Because he’s perfect.

3. Something New: ‘Bond 24′ Announcement

The ‘Bond 24′ announcement gave us some new actors (Léa Seydoux! Andrew Scott!), a title (Spectre), an awesome poster, and a sweet new Aston Martin(the DB 10), but the thing I was most excited about was to see that Interstellar‘s cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema has been added to the crew. While I love love LOVE Roger Deakins’ work in Skyfall, I am really into Hoytema’s bold and beautiful style and I’m excited to see what else he can do.

4. Something Ru: Ru Paul’s Drag Race season 7 

Casting rumors for the 7th season of Drag Race were out in full force yesterday with social media clues hinting at the queens who will potentially be on the upcoming season. I am especially excited to watch my first season of RPDR because I can finally #ruveal that I worked on it! I can easily say it was one of the most fun productions I have been a part of.

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Honorable Mentions

  • My obsession with Serial is growing stronger (having to wait a week really did me in) as is my confusion over who/what to believe. I find it so unsettling that I am drawn into these very real events in the lives of these very real people and that there may not be (and probably won’t be) an answer at the end of it all. I’m just waiting for the announcement of Serial: The Movie.
  • Something Old: I watched You’ve Got Mail for the first time over the holiday weekend and I couldn’t stop smiling. Everything from the performances to the love story to the writing was perfect.