Cutting The Cable Cord: What They Don’t Tell You

You learn a lot of things when you buy a house. For instance, I learned that the grouchy, snarly dogs next door are no match for a four-foot fence. Which brings me to my second lesson: keep your overhead costs low so that you can invest in your long-term purchases. I keep my electric, gas, and water bills as low as I can so that I can splurge on purchases like, well, a taller fence. To that end, I decided to go cable-free. This is an increasingly popular option, with trend pieces calling millennials a “generation of cord cutters” when they’re not calling us a “generation of garbage people” or a “generation of stoop-necked phone-gazers.” I’m a month in and it’s going pretty well, although I’ve found out a few things those trend pieces didn’t mention.

Math Helps

Most tv and internet providers offer bundled packages, so before you get rid of cable it helps to calculate whether paying for internet and streaming video services individually is really cheaper. I recommend this calculator from Slate, which takes into account the cost difference of internet-only services versus cable-internet bundles.

What they don’t tell you: If you’re moving into a new place, you’re probably being offered an introductory rate from your cable/internet/satellite provider. After a year or two when your rates go up, you’ll see an even steeper savings by going cable-free. Read the fine print. Some contracts lock you in to two years of service, but the introductory rates end after a year. Calculate it both ways: with the new customer discounts, and with the standard bundle cost. Don’t forget to look at the true cost of cable, including rental of a cable box or satellite equipment.

Select Your Streaming Services

There are plenty of articles and websites to help with this, but if you’re new to streaming services you will probably want to compare who offers what. Are there specific shows you want to see, or do you just want a big catalog of shows and movies? Are you willing to sacrifice variety for cost? Netflix is the most expensive, although still a very reasonable $108 per year; it also offers the best variety of programming. Hulu Plus seemed totally unnecessary to me until I cut cable. That’s when I realized that if I missed network shows, I had to watch them on my tiny tablet screen and wait a week – and that’s if I could get the app to work (more on that later). Now I’m thinking I’ll add Hulu in the fall as a replacement for DVR/ On Demand services. Besides, I’ll want to watch The Mindy Project. Amazon Prime is the cheapest but with the smallest selection of shows and movies. But I bought Prime on a one-day sale for about $75 since I knew I’d be ordering a lot of things for the house, and Prime Instant Video was a nice bonus.

What they don’t tell you: When you do your math, don’t forget to factor out the streaming services you would get anyway. Yes, I use Netflix and Amazon Prime to stream shows, but I would still have those services even if I had cable. Since that cost is a constant, I didn’t add those services to the equation.

Another thing: Except for Amazon Prime, which you buy upfront for a year, you can cancel these services at will. I’m not getting Hulu Plus until the fall TV season, and if I had it already I would probably cancel it for June, July, and August. Cable doesn’t let you do that.

And Your … Streamer?

I read a lot of reviews and ended up with the Roku streaming stick, but you can look up the differences between Roku and Amazon Fire and Apple TV, and a myriad of others, and come to your own conclusions. If you’re getting a new TV you might want to look into a Smart TV, too.

Note: Most of them offer “free channels” and many of those free channels are full of cruddy direct-to-video, Lifetime-quality movies that are 15 years old, or weird sitcoms from 1970s Germany.

What they don’t tell you: You might be tempted to go with bare-bones internet since you’ll be paying for standalone service, but make sure you have enough bandwidth to stream with decent video quality.

Fill The Gap

This is crazy-person territory, but we’re serious about TV here. Make a list of which shows are must-watch for you, then figure out what you’ll need to get them. Which are on Hulu, and which will be on the network’s website that week?  Sling gets great reviews, but I hardly watch anything on the channels it provides so it would be a waste of money. For shows on network tv, do they air at times when you’re likely to be home?

What they don’t tell you: This was my initial problem with cord cutting in general. Everyone talks about how many shows are on Netflix and all of the free channels that Roku has, but that assumes that you want to watch any show. Just … anything at all, on your television. Not a particular show, close to when it airs, because otherwise you’ll be that person who makes your friends stop a conversation because you’re a season behind. So if you have any shows that you watch religiously, this step is a big help.

Another thing: Season passes for individual shows. When I moved most network shows had only a few weeks left, and the only cable shows I was watching were Mad Men and Orphan Black. It made more sense to pay $20 for one season of one show than to lock into months of a cable plan or even streaming service if I didn’t really need it.

Get By With A Little Help From Your Friends (Or: The Time Warner App Should Be Ashamed Of Itself)

#thanksmom

My parents have had HBO since I was wearing footie pajamas and watching Babar. That means they have HBO Go, and it’s a pretty common thing to “borrow” an HBO customer’s login information. My parents weren’t even using it. I also used their Time Warner info. I should probably feel guilty, but I don’t because that app doesn’t even work. Honestly, I could never get an episode to play. However, sometimes a network’s website will ask for your cable service login to watch, and that’s when this really comes in handy – that’s how I ultimately was able to watch Mad Men.

What They Don’t Tell You: This might work in a pinch if you miss an episode, but Time Warner (and I think Comcast?) doesn’t stream to your TV if you aren’t in the account holder’s house, so you have to watch on a computer or tablet screen. You also should share one of your streaming accounts with the person whose cable info you’re using. I offered my parents my Netflix account and my mom completed her first binge-watch with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Don’t Forget The Antenna

You’re going to need one of those. You get great picture quality on HDTVs, and can watch NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, PBS … and then a bunch of weird channels playing what looks like nothing so much as televised depression. I looked up the best-reviewed indoor antennas, and mine works great.

What They Don’t Tell You: This weird flat paddle makes it look like I’m trying to defibrillate my living room wall:

Yes, I’m blogging from my couch during a Gilmore Girls marathon.

Wait It Out

If you’re at the end of your cable contract or moving to a new place, try a month or so without cable and see how it goes. It took me a bit of time to figure out how to keep up with the shows I wanted to, and I’m glad I didn’t go with cable straight away. Besides, now it’s almost summer, and I really won’t be indoors watching television much until September, anyway. All told, I’m glad that I am saving a bit of money on my cable bills – and every time I step into my backyard without being greeted by two lunging pit bulls, I think that it was worth every penny I saved.

Palme d’Or Fashion at Cannes

The 68th Cannes Film Festival came to a close over the weekend, and while some might be focused on how the new movies fare at one of the most important movie fests in the world, I’m more concerned as to what people wear while walking the red carpet and going up the iconic Cannes staircase. Since Cannes is a coastal French city, there are some great shots of celebs posing near the stunning waters, but again, because of the epicness of the red carpet and staircase, stars tend to up their glam game just for the festival. Here are some of my favorite looks (in reverse chronological order) from this year’s red carpet.

Sienna Miller in Gucci {Macbeth Premiere}

At first glance, this dress may seem odd and perhaps a bit ugly. But the more I look at it, the more I love it, and appreciate it for its intricacies and unique design. Especially love the collar with the red and black accents!

 

Nikki Reed in Azzaro Couture {Youth Premiere}

I’m a sucker for a cape or anything that looks for a cape. Nikki’s flowing navy blue dress is perfect for Cannes. Sleek, sexy and a stand-out from the crowd. So much so that you almost forget to ask what she’s even doing at Cannes.

Marion Cotillard in Dior Couture {Le Petit Prince Premiere}

One of France’s best exports of course had to show up in Dior, and per usual, she looks flawless.

Kendall Jenner in Calvin Klein Collection {amfAR Gala}

There are a lot of models that show up at Cannes, and Kendall was on hand for the annual amfAR Gala, which again, judging by the articles, was predominantly attended by models. anyways, at 19 years old, Kendall is wearing a dress perfect for her age, and something you’d expect her to wear. The gala isn’t AS fancy as the red carpet, so she gets away with showing this much skin. Plus, I bet this color looks even more gorgeous in person.

Emily Blunt in Stella McCartney {Sicario Premiere}

Ugh. Stop being so freaking perfect, Emily Blunt. She’s wearing one of her fave designers, so it’s no surprise she’s rockin this, but it’s so perfectly shaped to her body, and is so hot, without showing that much skin. The emerald earrings and sweeping updo is the perfect match for the sparkling dress.

Cate Blanchett in Armani Prive {Sciario Premiere}

Good ol’ Cate looks classy as ever in this chic black dress, but what makes it for me is the oversized belt that shows that it’s more than just an accessory but akin to real art.

Emily Blunt in Peter Pilotto {Sicario Photocall}

This dress has a lot going on and while I like it on its own, what I love is the overall styling. By pairing it with complimentary shoes, red lips and relaxed hair, she kills this look.

Aishwarya Rai Bacharan in Oscar de la Renta {Jazabaa Photocall}

Aishwarya is like the Angelina Jolie of India. She had a baby five years ago and has been on hiatus ever since. Her new movie at Cannes marked her return to film, and throughout her time at the fest, she’s been proving that she’s back and better than ever. This gown fits her well and I love the random mismatched pleats in the skirt that give it character.

Mindy Kaling in Salvador Perez {Inside Out Premiere}

The Mindy Project costume designer Salvador Perez often makes Mindy dresses outside of the show and he knocks it out of the park with every one (he made this dress for her at the People Magazine awards and I still covet it to this day). This dress is Indian inspired, and like Mindy Lahiri, Mindy Kaling pulls off bright color blocking like a mf’in boss.

Salma Hayek in Gucci {Rocco And His Brothers Premiere}

In addition to calling out Hollywood sexism at Cannes, Salma also showed off her *ahem* assets in this simple and beautiful purple gown.

Marion Cotillard in Balmain {Trophee Chopard}

Marion is reppin yet another French designer with this African-inspired Balmain dress, which – I mean this in the best way possible – reminds me of boondoggle/lanyard that you would make designs out of during arts and crafts at summer camp.

Rooney Mara in Alexander McQueen {Carol Photocall}

Like many of Alexander McQueen’s designs, this dress is weird yet beautiful, edgy yet classic, and Rooney is just the type of celeb who can pull this off.

Diane Kruger in Dolce & Gabbana {Maryland Photocall}

Usually I’m not into these types of dresses, but for some reason I am so into it. It looks so perfectly tailored onto Diane’s body, so maybe that’s why? Or maybe it’s Diane herself that’s hypnotized me into believing this dress is great.

Emma Stone in Dior {Irrational Man Premiere}

This girl. Hollywood glam right here. Up close, you can see the dress is a pale blue color with impressive embroidering on it. What you can’t see is the fantastic open back and her hair is swept up in some kind of french bun. ALSO, she’s wearing a choker, reminiscent of the black tattoo ones from the 90s. Except this one is probs made out of diamonds and wayy classier.

Lupita Nyong’o in Gucci {Le Tete Haute Premiere}

I just want this caption to be 10,000 emojis with heart eyes. Pretend that’s here. This look is inspired by Uganda’s ‘cricket season’, in which the insects come out after it rains in droves and locals capture them and fry them. They’re considered a delicacy, and I’m considering this to be on of Queen Lupita’s best looks.

BONUS LUPITA JUST BEING A QUEEN IN THE WILD

This freaking ethereal goddess.

AND MY TWO FAVES TAKING A CASUAL SELFIE

Poehler & Me with John Lasseter in deep BG #insideout

A photo posted by Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) on

 

It’s 1995: Let’s All Decorate With Pastel Southwestern Stuff

Welcome to another edition of Let’s All Decorate!, where we explore the baffling interior design trends of days past! Today we look into a craze that swept the nation in the 1980s and 1990s, when pastels reigned supreme and appropriation was king. Long before we were all wearing “tribal print” shorts and flats, our parents were decorating in “Southwestern” style. Today, my friends, our walk down memory lane is lined with cacti.

It’s 1995. You’re a mom shopping out of the J.C. Penney catalogue, and you’re looking to revamp your home’s current look. All of those geese in bonnets and powder blue gingham are so 1890 1990. It’s 1995, Clinton is in office, TLC is on the radio, and “Navajo” motifs are all over page 178 of the fall Sears catalogue. You are modern, you are edgy, you are worldly, and now you own peach and seafoam lamps based on Native American vases. You are my mother. Hi, mom.

I think there were a few months when ducks in bonnets and “Southwestern” lamps lived in harmony in my childhood home. That’s before the Southwestern lamps killed themselves. One day one of my brothers knocked over one of the lamps. It was made of powdery terra cotta, and it shattered. The lamp was quickly replaced. Months later, we broke another one. My mom declared that the next person to break one of those lamps was going to pay for it themselves. Not a week later, she knocked one over dusting. Elizabeth Bishop had it right: “so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” Those lamps were freaking ugly, and eventually, they lost the will to exist.

It wasn’t just my family: plenty of middle-class Americans – some from the Southwest, but just as many from the Northeast like us – wanted to paint our living rooms with all the Colors of the Wind. Possibly in Benjamin Moore’s Blue Corn Moon.

This living room from Ugly House Photos is peak Department Store Southwest. Note the pastel teal, the Native American porcelain doll, and what appears to be a Horn Of Plenty on the side table:

And how about this bedroom? America: where we will take your sacred land and build a strip mall on it, then fill the strip mall with a Pottery Barn that sells knockoffs of your art and furniture. I do really appreciate how they incorporated both a canopy bed and tiny rodent pelts.

 

Faux painting was a 90s decorating trend I’d rather forget. We all remember sponge painting and marbling, but this home, featuring faux primitive cave etchings, really takes the cake.

Is this a set from the smash tv hit Hey Dude? No, it’s a house with dehydrated cow skulls. If it looks like clip art scenery from Oregon Trail, maybe it doesn’t belong in your house. Or maybe it does.

 

I believe the following look combines the 90s penchant for Southwestern motifs with our brief love affair with Magic Eye paintings:

 

Falling under the category of “well, at least it’s less bad than the trail of tears, but then again so is just about everything:”

 

You don’t see Southwestern interior decorating much anymore, at least not outside of the bona fide Southwest or actual Native American homes. In those cases, it’s great! But I like to think that in white, northeastern homes, all of these teal and peach monstrosities made like my mom’s J.C. Penney lamps and offed themselves while they could.

ICYMI: Mad Men’s Final Blastoff

We said a final goodbye to Mad Men last Sunday, and we had a hard time saying a real farewell. But does it help to know what we think happened to the crew in the decades following the 1970s? Travel back – and forward- in time with us as we imagine a world where these folks are real and have a whole life ahead of them.

They Were Astronauts: Mad Men, Time Travelers

In season 4 of Mad Men, school-marmish secretary Ida Blankenship died in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Bert Cooper remarked that Miss Blankenship wasn’t just a fusty old lady:

She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.

Ida was not even 70 years old, but her lifetime stretched from an era of horse-drawn transportation to one of live television broadcasts and international flights.

If Mad Men characters were real people, most of them would be much older than Ida Blankenship. Don Draper is now roughly 90 years old – give or take a few, because, you know, Dick Whitman and everything. Joan is 84, and Peggy is about to turn 75. At 61, even little Sally Draper is getting AARP mailers and gearing up for retirement.

That’s right: Sally Draper is only a few years younger than Miss Blankenship.

The Mad Men crew witnessed as much change in the second half of the 20th century as Miss Blankenship did in the first. Contrast the first scene between Peggy and Joan with the last. In 1960 Joan told Peggy that the way to be indispensable at work was knowing what kind of liquor to stock for your boss. Working as collaborators was out of the question. By 1970 (spoiler!), Joan proposes that she and Peggy become partners in a production company. In 1960, Joan told Peggy to “always be a supplicant;” in 1970, they’re both bosses.

During the first seasons, Mad Men’s costuming reflected early ’60s style — which, of course, owed a lot to the straight-laced 1950s. Men wore suits, women wore skirts, and pillbox hats were a hot accessory. By the last season, we saw glimpses of the fashion world we live in now. Characters wore casual clothing – jeans, even! – in settings they wouldn’t have dreamed of in 1960. Early on she dressed like a cat from a Richard Scarry book, but the Sally of 1970 could almost be mistaken for a teenager of today. Some of Mad Men’s 1970 styles look dated to us now – Pete Campbell has the semi-Medieval haircut of every man in my family’s 1970s photo albums – but most wouldn’t look out of place in a hipster neighborhood. By 1970 our modern fashion culture had emerged: much less formal and easier to maintain than the early ’60s looks, owing at least in part to all of the Joans and Peggys who were now working and didn’t have hours each week to press laundry.


Speaking of fashion, Mad Men will go down in history as one of the best costumed shows in television, and while I always enjoy a man in a suit, there’s nothing that compares to women’s fashion in the 1960s.

The Beautiful Girls: Best of Mad Men Fashion

WHO’S EXCITED ABOUT MAD MEN RETURNING THIS SUNDAY?!!?!

Sorry, I’ll stop yelling at you. I’m just really hyped about it. Mad Men is one of my all time favorite shows, and since it’s only 13 episodes long, fans like me spend more time waiting for it to come back than actually watching it. Besides the A+ acting and the unexpected story lines, the style plays an important part of the show. Since it’s set in New York City in the 1960s, it’s important to take the viewers back to that era with visual cues, since the written words can’t always express the time frame. Creator Matt Weiner does an amazing job of making sure every little detail is accurate to that particular time in the 1960s, and costume designer Janie Bryant is just as fastidious. Her style decisions have even inspired a Mad Men fashion line at Banana Republic, so she must be doing something right.

Here are some of my favorite costumes from seasons past. I can’t wait to see what 1968 brings! And spoiler alert: There are no pix of Jon Hamm’s “Don Draper” (ifyanowwhatimean).

{Pix from AMC & Tom + Lorenzo}

Saturday Spotlight: Sterling Gonzo Lannister Pryce

Big week for tv fans – not only are we right in spring finale season, this past Sunday was the series finale of Mad Men. As we said goodbye to the show that led us through the 1960s, we also prepared to say hello to some great fall premieres – and to finally start watching Game of Thrones.

  • We agree that the Mad Men finale did a great job of tying up the loose ends of the main characters’ stories. But what about those secondary characters who dropped off along the way? WHAT HAPPENED TO CHAUNCY?
  • When Miss Blankenship died at the Sterling Cooper offices, she was an “astronaut” who was born on a farm in the late 1800s. Even Sally Draper is almost as old as Miss Blankenship now – so what was the second half of the 20th century like for the Mad Men characters?
  • As soon as tv season ends, another one begins: wedding season. We’re in our late 20s, so we’ve really been around the block as far as dealing with peer weddings – here’s a survival kit based on years of wedding guest wisdom.
  • Speaking of weddings, never go to a wedding on Game Of Thrones. We don’t watch it – yet – but it’s just one of the many things we think we know about the show. We’re also pretty sure the oldest of those sisters is the D.J. and the one with the arrows is the Stephanie ( a Michelle would not survive).
  • The beautiful thing about tv is when one favorite leaves you, a new one is waiting right around the corner. There are a few to look forward to in Fall 2015 already – we’re especially psyched about the Office-inspired return of The Muppets!

2015 Unofficial Guide to Your New TV Addictions

It’s that time again, folks. Time for me to dole out my picks for the shows you need to carve time out for this fall. I’d to start off by saying that I really didn’t find many of the new shows appealing, and thanks to the slaughter of shows that happened a couple weeks ago, in which a lot of the shows I watched got kicked to the curb, it’s difficult for me to trust some of these networks again cough*NBC*cough. But, there are still a ton of new shows that recently got picked up to series and will be heading your way in September. To help you sort through it all, I’ve picked a few of my early favorites. Did I miss your potensh fave?

The Comedies

Life in Pieces

Mondays (moving to Thursdays), 8:30pm • CBS

In full disclosure, I went into this trailer not expecting anything and not knowing any details. It is by far one of the strongest and funniest trailers I’ve watched in a while (let’s hope the pilot stays the same. Life In Pieces follows a family  as told from a point of view of each character based on their own version of events. It’s kinda like Modern Family meets Parenthood meets any ep of TV that shows the timeline of a story from three different perspectives. Plus, it has a bunch of big names in it, like James Brolin, Dianne Weist, Colin Hanks, Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt and a number of others. This show could be an underdog.

The Muppets

Tuesdays, 8:00pm • ABC

One show that’s not an underdog but rather the complete opposite is The Muppets – a contemporary mockumentary style show following the daily life of our favorite furry friends.. Think The Office if it was run by Muppets. Sign me up immediately.

Scream Queens

Tuesdays, 9:00pm • Fox

TBH, I’m probably not even going to watch this show, but it has enough Ryan Murphy buzz that mades me think it can actually last more than a season. It’s Mean Girls and Scream combined, featuring a sorority and the hunt for a person killing of the characters one by one. Also, Nick Jonas.

Honorable Mentions:

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris (NBC) – NPH is getting his own variety show! What more can you ask for?

Grandfathered (NBC) – If you can’t wait for the Full House reboot, check out John Stamos’ new show in which he finds out he has a son – and a granddaughter at the same tim.

The Grinder (Fox) Rob Lowe is giving it the old college try yet again with his show which features an older actor who is famous for his role as a TV lawyer, but when the show ends, he attempts to become a lawyer IRL. Rob has another show on NBC, which gives him hope for at least one of his shows sticking around this season.

The Dramas

Heroes Reborn

Thursdays, 8:00pm • NBC

Guys, remember how good the first two seasons of Heroes was? Heroes Reborn is the show you want to be as good as those early episodes. A few familiar faces will return (Matt Parkman, HRG), but there will also be new heroes on the block (hello Zach Levi).

Supergirl

Mondays, 8:00pm • CBS

Everyone is hyped for this because it’s a superhero show. That’s all.

Containment

Midseason • CW

Again, I’m not totally convinced I’m going to watch this show, but it actually looks really good. From Julie Plec, the woman who brought you Ian Somerhalder as a vampire (is that even right?), Containment tells the the story of a deadly mystery virus that spreads in Atlanta and kills 100% of the people that contract it.  If it sounds disturbing and horrifying, that’s because it it probably is.

Honorable Mentions:

Chicago Med (mideason, NBC) – I watch Chicago Fire and have managed to keep Chicago PD off my docket because I have restraint, but I might have to cave for this one. I love a good medicalshow.

Limitless (CBS) – This is already getting a lot of buzz, mainly because it’s based off the 2011 film of the same name, starring Bradley Cooper. And B Coops is actually supposed to be in a few eps, so that’s enough star power to get it going.

What I Think Happens In Game Of Thrones (I Don’t Watch It)

Are you caught up on Game of Thrones? I’m not. I’m very, very not: I still haven’t seen an episode. Don’t get me wrong, it’s way at the top of my watch list – if only because I hate when everyone else knows about something I don’t. It’s just that it’s in the fifth season, so now it’s an undertaking. But since it feels like GoT is all anyone talks about, I have some ideas about it.

God willing, this summer I’ll swipe my parents’ HBOGo login info and find out for myself. Until then, I’m pretty sure this is what it’s about:

  • Like, it’s not England, but it IS England, you know?

    Hmm. Ok, p. sure it’s England though.

 

  • And it’s not the Middle Ages, but it IS The middle ages, right?

    No but like, it’s not the “middle ages” but it’s sometime between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance, y/y?

 

  • The blonde one has dragons. They’re sort of like the winged monkeys from The Wizard Of Oz, but they want to be there.

 

  • The blonde one is icy and powerful, like Grace Kelly or Betty Hofstadt Draper Francis.

    + shades of Draco Malfoy and Princess Leia during the Jabba The Hutt era.

 

  • The Little Girl shoots arrows.

 

  • Everyone has names with lots of y’s in them. And, like, w’s? Drawnyfyr. Grwynwyn. Wywywy.

 

  • When something good happens, everyone goes to banquet halls where they eat, presumably, mutton. And drink mead. Then they all get killed.

 

  • French braids.

 

  • The blonde one’s title is kaleesi (sp? Superfluous H somewhere: Khaleesi? Kalheesi?). Her name is something else. And a lot of people act like her name is Kaleesi (sp) because that’s what they call her in the show, but it’s NOT. It’s not that. It’s probably, definitely something with a y or w in it.

 

  • The Little Girl is friends with wolves. Enemies with wolves? I think she mostly rolls with a pack of them.

 

  • I’m fairly sure the Little Girl is named Aria, which is why that’s what everyone is naming their babies now. Maybe Arya, which has a Y in it.

 

  • The Little Girl with the arrows/wolves is the Stephanie, and her older sister is more of a D.J.

 

  • There’s no Michelle; a Michelle would not survive in this world.

    This is her GOT outfit.

 

  • If your name doesn’t contain a Y or a W, it’s a regular name with one or two letters off. Like Blatt or Bobbin or Roybert.

 

  • Peter Dinklage.

 

  • Sometimes, somebody goes into a journey through the forest, runs into an enemy, battles them in the forest, emerges on horseback. But it’s the enemy’s horse.

 

  • Maybe there’s a priest who’s a bad guy?

 

  • More tapestries than a stoner’s sophomore year dorm room.

 

  • Do any of you have an extra row of eyelashes that grow straight down? It has nothing to do with Game of Thrones but I would be interested in someone’s help with that.

 

  • I’m picturing a battle in a field with humans astride creatures that look like they came from the Jim Henson factory.

 

  • All of the American actors use English accents of varying strengths and intensities, even though this is not exactly England.

 

  • Rich people wear jewel-toned silks and velvets; poors: straight-up scratchy bag material.

 

  • At least one dude has labor-intensive facial hair even though it’s the (not-) Middle Ages. One of those deals where he looks more like a topiary than a face.

 

  • Probably a gross childbirth scene at some point.

 

  • Pick a character to love. Any character. Okay, they’re going to die.

 

  • Unlike the real middle ages, people aren’t dying of, like, dysentery. Usually battles, duals, maybe a stray curse or two.

 

  •  Never go to a wedding. Ever. It will end it rape, murder, or both.

 

  • All of the men are sort of Variations On A Theme. The theme is Elijah Wood.

    Meh. Basically the same thing.

 

  • You know how everyone has that one garbage cousin? In 2015 you can just hide him on Facebook, but in Medieval England you will be hiding behind a stone turret while he and a fleet of Jim Henson Workshop Creatures storm across your moat right in the middle of the Hey Nonny Nonny festival or whatever.

 

  • Not that it’s Medieval times, that is. Or England. It isn’t.

 

  • … But it is, right?

 

 

Wedding Season Survival Kit

It’s that time of year again – wedding season is officially here. Yes, that’s right happy couples, you get to attend your friends’ and family members’ nuptials, while looking on knowing that you too are in love, and for your single people, it’s a gentle reminder that you don’t have a designated slow dance partner at the wedding, or in life.

If you’re in your 20s or early 30s, you’re probably all too familiar with wedding season already. It spreads on to social media, when it seems as if every weekend someone is going to a bridal shower or bachelorette party or wedding. With the sheer amount of weddings that occur between now and like, the end of September, it seems almost necessary to have at least some sort of survival kit to make it through months of newlyweds’ happiness. Here are just a few tips I’ve come to discover on my travels that might help you come out of these next few months alive.

Declines with Regret is an Option

Photo Apr 30, 2 42 15 PM

First things first – you don’t have to go to every wedding you’re invited to. It’s always tempting to accept every single one, but be realistic. Do you have the funds to attend? More importantly, do you even care that the two people who invited you are tying the knot? Declining and saying no to invitations is not only a good thing to learn for weddings, but for life in general.

What Not To Wear

If there’s one thing we know about weddings, is that there are a lot of pictures taken throughout the day/night. Because of this, you dress to impress. And if you’re like me, wear a dress perfect for the particular wedding you’re going to – then never wear it again. Are you kidding me? I can’t be photographed in that ensemble again after there were 10 FB albums posted! Sort through your closet and find dressy pieces you wouldn’t usually put together and create a mix-and-match outfit without having to buy new clothes. Or do something like Rent the Runway, where you can get a designer dress for more then half off the original price, and simply return it. I’m doing this for the first time for my friends’ wedding in June and I’ll report back on my findings.

Make Wedding Weekend a Vacation

If you’re traveling somewhere for a wedding and have the time, don’t just stay at the final destination for the weekend, make the most of it. When my friends got married in their hometown of Sacramento, me and my groomsman friend planned a trip to nearby San Francisco, because, why not? If you’re gonna take days off from work, might as well make it worth it.

Score a Present Early in the Game

Get the couple a present off their registry as soon as possible, because if you wait too long, you might end up with the super expensive items like 100-piece china or an X-Box. If you do happen to find yourself in dire straits and know friends who are going to the wedding as well, ask if they want to chip in and buy one of the big ticket items. I’m pretty sure this is kosher.

Don’t Go Hard Right Away

Weddings can last forever. Not the actually ceremony – those can sometimes last only 15 minutes. So if you start taking shots before the bride goes down the aisle, you might need to take a nap sometime during dinner. Or maybe that’s just us old folk. The temptation of an open bar forces you to get all the drinks ASAP, but just steady yourself so you can have fun and not vom. Unless the open bar ends at a certain time, and stock up on drinks so you have some alc throughout the rest of the reception.

Hire a Designated Driver

Speaking of alcohol, don’t be dumb. I’m sure you’re all responsible adults, so this might be a moo point (a cow’s opinion). Again, if you’re going with friends, a party bus might be the ideal situation for a wedding, or plan on taking Uber to and from the venue.

Don’t Give In To Bouquet Toss Pressure

I hate the bouquet toss/garter tradition. I feel like it’s outdated and provides for an awkward situation between the person who grabs the bouquet and the person who grabs the garter. I’ve been to weddings where they practically force all single people on the floor to participate in the bouquet toss and I’ve wanted to toss myself out the window. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. It’s your life, bro.

Enjoy Yourself!

This goes without saying, but sometimes, especially if you’re involved with the planning of the wedding, that you focus on what could go wrong as opposed to truly enjoying yourself. At the end of the day, weddings are a great celebration of love between family and friends, and that’s all that matters.

 

They Were Astronauts: Mad Men, Time Travelers

In season 4 of Mad Men, school-marmish secretary Ida Blankenship died in the offices of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Bert Cooper remarked that Miss Blankenship wasn’t just a fusty old lady:

She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper. She was an astronaut.

Ida was not even 70 years old, but her lifetime stretched from an era of horse-drawn transportation to one of live television broadcasts and international flights.

If Mad Men characters were real people, most of them would be much older than Ida Blankenship. Don Draper is now roughly 90 years old – give or take a few, because, you know, Dick Whitman and everything. Joan is 84, and Peggy is about to turn 75. At 61, even little Sally Draper is getting AARP mailers and gearing up for retirement.

That’s right: Sally Draper is only a few years younger than Miss Blankenship.

The magic of old-fashioned style: Peggy actually looks younger in 1970 than she did in 1960.

The Mad Men crew witnessed as much change in the second half of the 20th century as Miss Blankenship did in the first. Contrast the first scene between Peggy and Joan with the last. In 1960 Joan told Peggy that the way to be indispensable at work was knowing what kind of liquor to stock for your boss. Working as collaborators was out of the question. By 1970 (spoiler!), Joan proposes that she and Peggy become partners in a production company. In 1960, Joan told Peggy to “always be a supplicant;” in 1970, they’re both bosses.

During the first seasons, Mad Men’s costuming reflected early ’60s style — which, of course, owed a lot to the straight-laced 1950s. Men wore suits, women wore skirts, and pillbox hats were a hot accessory. By the last season, we saw glimpses of the fashion world we live in now. Characters wore casual clothing – jeans, even! – in settings they wouldn’t have dreamed of in 1960. Early on she dressed like a cat from a Richard Scarry book, but the Sally of 1970 could almost be mistaken for a teenager of today. Some of Mad Men’s 1970 styles look dated to us now – Pete Campbell has the semi-Medieval haircut of every man in my family’s 1970s photo albums – but most wouldn’t look out of place in a hipster neighborhood. By 1970 our modern fashion culture had emerged: much less formal and easier to maintain than the early ’60s looks, owing at least in part to all of the Joans and Peggys who were now working and didn’t have hours each week to press laundry.

RIP Sally’s knee socks.

Then there’s advertising. A few years ago I saw an old diner sign for pie. It said: “it is so good!” That’s it. That was advertising of the 1940s or so: tell them the pie is good. By the early seasons of Mad Men, more sophisticated targeted advertising had materialized. Pitch meetings involved discussions like “what kind of person uses this product?” and “who does the person using this product want to be?” By the finale, the public’s aspirations had changed. No longer striving for the middle class, suburban post-war ideal, the consumer of the 1970s wants to be enlightened, free-spirited and original. He wants to buy the world a Coke. With an ad concept that’s sure to get people talking, by 1970 we’re even looking at the start of viral marketing.

When I look at how the changing world affected these characters from 1960 to 1970, I have to wonder what would have happened to them after that. Throughout the 1970s, the firm probably focused on the youth-oriented marketing that was so successful in the Coke pitch. After all, the baby boomers had aged into that lucrative 18-35 demographic. Don Draper, at least trying to be a steady presence in his kids’ lives, stayed away from hardcore ’70s drug use. Sally had a misspent youth, as was the style of the time, and was just about the right age to hit the Studio 54 scene. Joan would have been hard at work at Holloway Harris. And Peggy… I can see the 1970s being Peggy’s decade, with the world finally getting a little closer to catching up with her. She and Stan would have made a great team both at work and out of it, and I’m sure Peggy got really into macrame decor, the ERA and oversized lapels. She would have spearheaded the firm’s pitch for a public service spot during the Oil Crisis. Baby Kevin probably ended the decade very wealthy indeed, because I can’t imagine Roger Sterling lasting that long.

The 1980s is when most of our characters would have seen a big payout. Most of our former “young professionals” would be in their 50s, the prime of their careers. Pete Campbell is still a weenie in the ’80s, because “Pete Campbell is a weenie” is an immutable truth. As a company man at Learjet, he probably made major bank targeting the Reagan-era business travel demographic. Don would find himself going back to the all-American family advertising of the early 60s, now that boomers were settling down with kids. Can’t you just see Joan getting really into ostentatious 1980s fashion as her production company booms?  Trudy is absolutely the kind of ’80s woman who decorated with ducks in bonnets. And of course, little Tammy Campbell would have graduated from Dartmouth in 1986.

Think of the popular advertising of your 90s childhood – all the neon and weird surfer slang. Some of it was coined by young ad execs, but there’s a good chance that those Nickelodeon Magazine and Sunny D spots were pitched by an aged Don Draper type. By the 1990s, the clunky typewriters are all replaced with computers, and 60-something Mad Men sat in front of desktop monitors waiting for the dial-up to turn on. This is probably the decade when most of our characters retired. 1990s Joan may be the world’s fiercest grandmother, with Kevin hitting his 20s and 30s. If Holloway Harris is a success, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joan keep working into her 70s.

With the 2000s recession, most of our characters would be relieved to have left the work force. But maybe someone like Peggy would have kept working into the information age. All of these characters who used rotary phones are now face-timing their grandchildren on iPads. 90-year-old Don probably gets a kick out of online advertising.  If you’re reading this as a 20- or 30-something, Sally is probably close to your mom’s age. Can you picture a middle-aged Sally moving her kid into college in the 2000s, or an adult Sally tuning into Oprah every day after work? Or maybe her trips into the seedier parts of New York City are a sign that she ended up living the Bohemian lifestyle that Betty never had.

Back to 1970: in the Mad Men finale, Don was hanging out with his weird friends and I saw something unmistakable. It was the same exact cooler that accompanied my family on every road trip throughout my whole childhood. Then I did a little math. Let’s say one of my parents got that cooler in 1970 – reasonable, since they were college students at the time – and I remember traveling with it in 1992. The duration between 1992 and now is greater than from 1970 to 1992. In other words: I’m as far from my own childhood as my childhood was from the Mad Men era. The show was set in another time, but I’m from another time, too. When we were kids, the world was full of a lot of the same people, attitudes, and even tangible objects that had been there in the 1960s and 1970s. The other day, my dad mentioned that when he was a kid, all of the “old people” were folks who were alive in the 19th century – and now there are only 5 people left from that century. My brother added that the year he was born is as long ago today as the Korean war was when he was born.

It’s not just Ida Blankenship, and it’s not just Mad Men: we’re all time travelers. We’re all astronauts.

 

In Search Of: Mad Men Characters’ Closure

Last night, we said a final farewell to the folks on Madison Avenue, or rather the folks who ran away from the grind of the advertising life and the ones who decided to stick it through.

I personally was pleased with the way everyone’s story was wrapped up, as that was one of the main concerns of mine as we counted down to the final episodes. Would the last installment be just about Don? Would we ever get a Don/Sally scene? Or Roger/Joan? Or even Peggy/Pete? Luckily, we got all of those, and despite the fact a lot of people might not think enough “happened” in the series finale, I thought it was the best way to shut the door (and have a seat) with the characters we’ve been following for almost eight years.

And even one-liners about other characters like Dr. Rapist Harris/Joan’s ex-husband (lived through the war, is married with twins) and Margaret Sterling (still in that cult), gave us some sort of ‘cherry on top’/’tied with a bow’ ending.

But what about the characters that have been long gone? What happened to the ones who didn’t get a carefully crafted montage in the finale? I realize Mad Men/Matthew Weiner’s whole M.O. is that sometimes people leave without saying goodbye (see: series finale), but I just can’t help but wonder what happened to some of the people who used to be in the Mad Men inner sanctum.

Carla

HONESTLY, STILL MAD ABOUT HER LEAVING. Still mad at Betty for the way she fired her. Still the number one character I love to this day and held out hope for a return in the future. I bet she’s doing great things with her life. Honestly, any boss after Betty is an upgrade.

Sal Romano

Oh Sal. His storyline was heartbreaking – a closeted gay man who couldn’t come out and his homosexuality was ultimately what led to his firing from Sterling Cooper. Sal was a fan favorite and many still hoped he would make at least one appearance in the later seasons, but that never came to fruition. Is he still with his wife Kitty (played by Sarah Drew/April Kempner from Grey’s!), or by 1970 is he out and proud? Was he a part of Stonewall? Let’s just say yes.

Jimmy Barrett

Jimmy Barrett was an annoying son of a bitch. To this day, if I see that actor in another show, I’ll immediately hate him (**series finale mild spoiler***** kinda like that older woman just shoving Don at the retreat. They didn’t say a word, but she still felt like he needed a push (in the right direction?). I hope he and Bobbie called it quits. He should be single and doing his act in a bar in old Las Vegas.

Joyce Ramsay

Remember when we thought Peggy was gonna be a lesbian? Lezbehonest, it totally could’ve happened, and it totally could’ve happened with a pre-Girls Zosia Mamet. Joyce, and I think Peggy probably thought this too, was a breath of fresh air, the type of person she didn’t normally encounter during her corporate advertising travels. She was sure of herself and confident enough to wear a blazer in the 1960s. Did she become super feminist activist or just Shoshanna Shapiro’s mom?

Helen Bishop

If you forgot how Creepy Glen got into Betty’s life, it’s because his mom, Helen, was friends with her. Glen and Betty’s relationship got super weird, and by the time Betty gave young Glen a lock of her hair, Helen refused to let Glen get anywhere near her. Of course, he managed to avoid her stern request and met with Betty anyways. We get to see Glen as an 18 year old adult in one of the final episodes, right before he shipped off to war. Does Helen still hate Betty? Is she supportive of Glen’s decision to fight on the frontlines? Is there any possibility of a Mad Men/Scandal crossover-spin-off show?

Lois

This is the person who drove the John Deere tractor over someone’s foot. Where is she now??

Paul Kinsey

It was bound for one of the mad men to become a hippy dippy/granola/crunchy/spiritual type, considering the era. That person became Paul Kinsey and I solely correlate Hare Krishnas to him now.

Beth Dawes

Pete’s affair with the woman on the train ended up in crazy town – literally. She was sent to the looney bin, and that’s the last we see of her. I don’t think she was ever right for Pete anyways, but you always hope for an ending that leaves the character at peace. But I guess Alexis and Vinny lucked out IRL, since it turned out they were right for each other all along.

Stevie Wollcott

***series finale spoiler alert***

I am totally on the Peggy/Stan (Steggy) ship, but when I thought there was no hope for them, I was kind of rooting for Peggy to date Stevie, aka Mathis’ brother-in-law. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, whose proposal of going to Paris didn’t seem too insane, but just crazy enough. But again, this is all moot because OMGZ STEGGY FEELS!! Also, he apparently was on My So-Called Life.

Bob Benson

Like Sal Romano before him, Bob Benson had a lot of hide. He even went so far as to propose to Joanie in hopes of living a ‘typical’ 1960s family, but she knew his secret, and luckily for him, said no. TBH, I don’t care where Bob Benson is now, I just think this exchange with Pete is one of the most iconic in Mad Men history.

Chauncey

No, but really. Where in the world is Duck’s dog Chauncey???