Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Latino voting power / Fish pedicures / Sinan, the starchitect / Richard Nixon’s five wars / The end of ‘Mad Men’

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Latino Growth Not Fully Felt at Voting Booth
By Adam Nagourney | The New York Times | June 9
“Latinos are not registering or voting in numbers that fully reflect their potential strength, leaving Hispanic leaders frustrated and Democrats worried as they increase efforts to rally Latino support.”

2. Check Out All These Awesome Interpretations of the Old Twitter Logo
By Jesus Diaz | Gizmodo | June 10
“The new Twitter logo is anything you want it to be if you are a genius illustrator like Ape Lad.”

3. Baghdad Spa Offers Fish Pedicures
By Kay Johnson | The Huffington Post | June 10
“Dozens of beauty salons, cosmetic surgery centers and other enterprises have sprung up to cash in on war-weary Iraqis looking for pampering.”

4. Life returning to normal on Giglio Island after Costa Concordia
By Carolyn Lyons | The Los Angeles Times | June 10
“Giglio, a tiny vacation island off the Tuscany coast, is dotted with charming villages, clean beaches, quiet accommodations and waterside trattorias.”

5. Tracking Turkey’s First Starchitect
By Andrew Ferren | The New York Times | June 8
“Sinan (circa 1490-1588) was chief architect and civil engineer of the Ottoman Empire, working when the empire was at its apogee; his employers, Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent and his heirs, were the most powerful men on earth.”

6. 40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought
By Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward | The Washington Post | June 8
“What was Watergate? It was Nixon’s five wars.”

7. As army grows, a unit highlights the challenges
By Kathy Gannon | Associated Press | June 10
“No one denies the Afghan National Army has an equipment problem. President Hamid Karzai says he is disturbed by problems such as the helmet shortage. The U.S. is providing the army with new, lighter helmets, but not all the soldiers have them.”

8. America’s Last Prisoner of War
By Michael Hastings | Rolling Stone | June 7
“Three years ago, a 23-year-old soldier walked off his base in Afghanistan and into the hands of the Taliban. Now he’s a crucial pawn in negotiations to end the war. Will the Pentagon leave a man behind?”

9. ‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner Reflects on the Season So Far
By Dave Itzkoff | Arts Beat :: The New York Times | June 10
“What are the long-term marital prospects for Megan and Don Draper? Will we ever see Peggy Olson again? How is everyone at the office coping with the sad fate of Lane Pryce?”

10. 12 Coolest Ridley Scott Moments
By Keith Staskiewicz | Entertainment Weekly | June 8
“Popping an alien through a chest; putting a hammer to Big Brother; revving up the stakes for ‘Thelma and Louise’; and more gems from the ‘Prometheus’ director”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. GIVE A DEMONSTRATION (Grant Phabao remix) Big Daddy Kane, Conne Price and the Keystones
2. BACK TO THE HOTEL N2Deep
3. IT WAS A GOOD DAY Ice Cube
4. SMOOTH Tha Dogg Pound
5. BE FAITHFUL Crooklyn Clan & Fatman Scoop
6. NASTY GIRL Avery Storm, Jagged Edge, Nelly, P. Diddy & The Notorious B.I.G.
7. NAS’ ANGELS Nas & Pharrell Williams
8. MO MONEY MORE PROBLEMS Mase, Puff Daddy & The Notorious B.I.G.
9. HEAD SPRUNG LL Cool J
10. HEY MAMA Black Eyed Peas

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Texas influence / Children of depressed parents / Illustrating gay rights / New Lincoln find / Women and ‘Alien’

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. Gail Collins: Texas runs America
By Kyrie O’Connor | Salon | June 9
“In a Salon interview, the New York Times writer who made Mitt’s dog famous takes dead aim at the Lone Star State”

2. Should Depressed People Avoid Having Children?
By Maia Szalavitz | Healthland :: Time | June 5
“Do people with depression or other psychological problems have any moral obligation to forgo bearing children in order to avoid passing on their ‘bad’ genes?”

3. Gay rights in the US, state by state
The Guardian | May 8
“Gay rights laws in America have evolved to allow — but in some cases ban — rights for gay, lesbian and transgender people on a range of issues, including marriage, hospital visitation, adoption, housing, employment and school bullying.”

4. ‘O Doctor, do what you can,’ Lincoln’s wife pleaded, says new find
By Richard Simon | The Chicago Tribune | June 5
“The 21-page handwritten copy of [Charles A.]Leale’s report was discovered about two weeks ago by researcher Helena Iles Papaioannou while she was poring through records at the National Archives in Washington.”

5. Woman: The Other Alien in ‘Alien’
By Tom Shone | Slate | June 6
“Why are academics so obsessed with Ridley Scott’s movie and its sequels? Plus: An ‘Alien’ bibliography.”

6. ‘Mad Men’s’ Jared Harris on Lane’s Shocking [SPOILER ALERT]
By Gwynne Watkins | The Stream :: GQ | June 4
“Lane Pryce was a tragic character from the beginning, a bumbling sadsack of an Englishman who desperately craved the respect he had never received from his employers, his father, his wife, or his coworkers.”

7. Team of Mascots
By Todd S. Purdum | Vanity Fair | July 2012
“Four years ago, Barack Obama said he wanted a Lincoln-esque “team of rivals” in his Cabinet. Thanks to his own temperament, the modern White House, and the 24-hour news cycle, what the president has created is something that doesn’t look Lincoln-esque at all.”

8. Obama’s friend in Turkey
By David Ignatius | The Washington Post | June 7
“Turkey’s ascendancy in the region may seem obvious now, but it was less so in 2009, when Obama began working to build a special relationship.”

9. 10 Reasons Why Cormac McCarthy Is A Badass
By David McMillan | Thought Catalog | June 5
“McCarthy is a poetic storyteller whose challenging novels explore themes of violence, good and evil, and human survival.”

10. 11 Sneaky Ways People Use to Ruin Their Relationships
By Stephen J. Betchen | Psychology Today | June 4
“What pulled you together may be pulling you apart.”

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TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. CAFE Eddie Palmieri
2. AZUCAR DE CANA Trio Los Chasquis
3. I DECREE PEACE Aurah
4. OYE EL CONSEJO Ibrahim Ferrer
5. CHAN CHAN Buena Vista Social Club
6. BALDERRAMA Mercedes Sosa
7. HAPPY Bruce Springsteen
8. PRETTY BALLERINA The Left Banke
9. FOCUS ON SIGHT Thievery Corporation
10. HOME Zero 7

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Stay-at-home moms / Invisible octopuses / The rare transit of Venus / The damage from Texas textbooks / Departures of Kristen Wiig and Peggy Olson

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism.

1. How Texas Inflicts Bad Textbooks on Us
By Gail Collins | The New York Review of Books | June 2012
“Ever since the 1960s, the selection of schoolbooks in Texas has been a target for the religious right, which worried that schoolchildren were being indoctrinated in godless secularism, and political conservatives who felt that their kids were being given way too much propaganda about the positive aspects of the federal government.”

2. Stay-at-Home Moms Report More Sadness, Anger and Depression than Working Moms
By Bonnie Rochman | Family Matters :: Time | June 1
“Gallup.com found that working mothers report greater well-being than stay-at-home moms. Is a job the ticket to bliss?”

3. How Octopuses Make Themselves Invisible
By Katherine Harmon | Octopus Chronicles :: Scientific American | June 1
“Do they survey the whole area in their proximity and incorporate the general hues and patterns into their skin display, or do they pick out just a few nearby landmarks for a more precise match?”

4. Tuesday is last chance to see transit of Venus
By Elizabeth Weise | USA Today | May 31
“It happens only four times every 243 years. If you want to see the famed transit of Venus, next Tuesday is your last chance this century.”

5. A Study in Farewells: Kristen Wiig and Peggy Olson
By Sasha Weiss | Culture Desk :: The New Yorker | June 1
“What a relief — and what a brilliant coincidence — that the gods of TV charted a course this week from Peggy’s quiet triumph to Wiig’s loud one, and one we can all share in.”

6. Christina Hendricks on Joan’s Epic Moral Moment
By Gwynne Watkins | The Stream :: GQ | May 30
“The emotionally wrenching episode was the best so far this season, and a tour de force for actress Christina Hendricks (whose hourglass beauty gets more press than her considerable acting chops).”

7. Issues for His Prose Style
By Andrew O’Hagan | London Review of Books | June 2012
“[Ernest Hemingway] never takes nouns for granted. He invests his whole personality in them, because nouns are the part of speech where a person gets to show off.”

8. NASA to future moon explorers: Don’t ruin our Apollo landing sites
By Larry McShane | The New York Daily News | May 29
“Space agency issues guidelines to help other lunar missions to protect historic remains”

9. Are literary classics obsolete?
By Laura Miller | Salon | May 30
“A new study says today’s writers are influenced by authors of the present, not the past”

10. The ‘Muslim Schindler’
By Mehdi Hasan | The New Statesman | May 23
“A lawyer by training, he used his negotiating skills to try to persuade the Nazis’ experts on racial purity that the 150 or so Iranian Jews living in the city in 1940 were assimilated to non-Jewish — and ‘Aryan’ — Persians through history, culture and intermarriage.”

******************

TUNES

My soundtrack for today included:
1. WHY TRY TO CHANGE ME NOW Fiona Apple
2. SLOWLY Max Sedgley
3. SAIL AWAY David Gray
4. WHY Annie Lennox
5. WAS LOVE Captain Ahab
6. SMALL OF MY HEART Madison Violet
7. HEAVEN’S GONNA BURN YOUR EYES Thievery Corporation
8. TA DOULEUR (Your Pain) Camille
9. MEET YOUR NEW LOVE Atlantic/Pacific
10. ANGEL OF SOLITUDE Alias

‘Mad Men’ has returned

The new season of ‘Mad Men’ is upon us. Here are a few of the more interesting links I found.

The new season of “Mad Men” is upon us. Here are a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

1. Everything Happened
By Phillip Maciak | Los Angeles Review of Books | March 25
“‘Mad Men,’ in addition to being an abundantly detailed, almost classically composed piece of historical fiction and a genuinely ambivalent critique of consumer culture, is also an intriguing meditation on narrative itself.”

2. Live Like a Mad Men Star
By Jessica Henderson | Marie Claire | March 19
“Set designer Claudette Didul shares some thrifty tips on how to score vintage treasures that even Don Draper would envy.”

3. The Mad Men Are Back
Etsy.com | March 25
Vintage and ‘Mad Men’-themed merchandise.

4. ‘Mad Men’ Cast, from Jon Hamm to January Jones, Dish on Show’s Secrets
By Ramin Setoodeh | Newsweek | March 25
“With the debut of the fifth season of “Mad Men” on Sunday night, and Newsweek’s special commemorative 1965 issue on stands now, January Jones, Jon Hamm, John Slattery and others talked … about everything from how they found their characters to what’s really inside all those liquor glasses on set.”

5. ‘Mad Men’ is back in business
By Robert Rorke | The New York Post | March 25
“Season 4 ended in the fall of 1965. … [T]hat should put Season 5 in the middle of 1967, that long, hot dangerous summer that saw two American cities — Newark and Detroit — destroyed by riots.”

6. For ‘Mad Men,’ change is in the air
By Sarah Rodman | The Boston Globe | March 23
“Part of the attraction — aside from the fact that he comes packaged looking like Jon Hamm — is the promise of the rewrite.”

7. The ‘Mad Men’ season premiere: Make your predictions now
By Jen Chaney | Celebritology :: The Washington Post | March 25
“Need some assistance focusing your hypotheses for the premiere? Try setting an over/under on these matters.”

8. Every Woman Don Draper Hooked Up with in Season 4
By Caroline Stanley | Flavorwire | March 22
“And you know what else we enjoyed? Watching him drunkenly make his way through half of the women in Manhattan.”

9. A Brief Guide to Pop Culture in 1966
By Emily Temple | Flavorwire | March 25
“We don’t know about you, but we just might dig out that old miniskirt and spend the day twisting to ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and watching old Star Trek episodes in preparation. You know, just in case.”

10. The GQ Guide to ‘Mad Men’
GQ | March 22
“We’ve been obsessing over Matthew Weiner’s brilliant ad man series ever since it launched. Now that it’s about to make its big season five return, look back at the best of our stories and photos through the years.”

(Photo from the soundtrack album)

Waiting for ‘Mad Men:’ Ads and fads

Fashion updates and playing with the promo poster.

As I wait for the new season of “Mad Men” to begin, I’ll share a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

1. Fashion tips AMC’s “Mad Men” blog wants to help you look your best for Fashion Week with videos, photos and a multimedia magazine. It’s pretty cool. Get started here.

2. AdBusted! Minimalist ads advertising the season premiere of “Mad Men” on March 25 have inspired creative scamps to fill in the white space, often brilliantly. Check out some recent examples here and then do your own.

(Photo from the soundtrack album)

Waiting for ‘Mad Men:’ Time torture

One more excruciating torture to endure until the two-hour season premiere.

As I wait for the new season of “Mad Men” to begin, I’ll share a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

There are some fans out there (not me, of course) who are literally counting down the seconds until the two-hour season premiere, and the sadistic AMC has decided to have a little fun with them.

The network, which recently announced that Season 5 begins on March 25, has created a countdown clock for all the impatient fanatics out there. Now you can watch irrecoverable moments of your life tick by, your brittle mind mesmerized, before you realize the insanity what you’re doing.

One more excruciating torture to endure until the two-hour season premiere. Sigh. Time for an Old Fashioned to numb the pain (and embarrassment).

(Photo from the soundtrack album)

Waiting for ‘Mad Men:’ Jared Harris can tell us nothing

At this point, halfway through production, any contact with reporters probably has to happen with a “Mad Men” producer holding a gun to his head to ensure he doesn’t let anything slip.

As I wait for the new season of “Mad Men” to begin, I’ll share a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog recently checked in with Jared Harris, who plays Lane Pryce, and asked him how Season 5 is working out.

Naturally, he didn’t drop any hints on plot developments and kept a safe distance from anything specific. At this point, halfway through production, any contact with reporters probably has to happen with a “Mad Men” producer holding a gun to his head to ensure he doesn’t let anything slip. But it’s good to hear from him nonetheless.

“I think as excited as everyone is to see the season,” he said, “we are just as excited when we are waiting for the next script. Whether any of us are in the episode or not, everyone is invited to the read through and we all look forward to seeing what’s happened next.”

Read Alexandra Cheney’s interview here.

(Photo from the soundtrack album)

Waiting for ‘Mad Men:’ Sex advice, gift ideas and Lane Pryce

Share some holiday cheer, ‘Mad Men’-style

As I wait for the new season of “Mad Men” to begin, I’ll share a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

1. Sex Advice From Modern-Day Mad Men
By Maura Hehir | Nerve
“What gives ad men an advantage in the dating arena? What would you say to ask someone out on a date? Do ad men still have as much sex as they apparently used to?”

2. The Mad Men Holiday Gift Guide
AMCTV | December 2011
“Whether you’re shopping for a fashion junkie or a music buff, there’s a gift idea for all types of Maddicts.”

3. Jared Harris on Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, Losing Chess to Guy Ritchie, and Doubting Psychics
By Jennifer Vineyard | Vulture :: New York Magazine | Dec. 13
“Will we see more of Lane Pryce’s private life on the new season of Mad Men? Or his relationship with his father?”

(Photo from the soundtrack album.)

Waiting for ‘Mad Men’: A dictator and a cookbook

An interview with the guy who play Lee Garner Sr., a great blogger, and a new ‘Mad Men’ cookbook.

As I wait for the new season of “Mad Men” to begin, I’ll share a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

1. Madman boss? AMCtv recently interviewed John Cullum, who plays Lucky Strike’s Lee Garner Sr. When asked what kind of boss he’d be, Cullum joked, “I would be a benign dictator.”

2. Blog beauty: I’ve been a long-time fan of Natasha Vargas-Cooper and her Mad Men Unbuttoned blog. There’s a sad beauty in her view of the Draper world and how history is about to ravage it. I can’t wait for her return as the new season dawns. “Every brush with adult behavior,” she wrote last year, “anything from smoking, to sneaking out, to driving, to fucking — is wrapped in a gauzy, loving haze. … What’s alarming, then, is when grown-ups act like teenagers: denying themselves nothing, cherishing their transgressions like merit badges, constantly chasing the beginning of something, unable to parse the sensations of joys from despair.”

3. Don an apron: For those of you who must absolutely live like Jane, Don, Sterling or Peggy, there’s a new cookbook on the way to further complement your crazed-fan efforts. Recipes for the characters’ favorite dishes will also note when the dishes appeared in the series.

(Photo from the soundtrack album)

How will ‘Mad Men’ end?

Creator Matthew Weiner may have given us a hint. It’s an image of Don Draper he can’t get out of his mind.

As I wait for the new season of “Mad Men” to begin, I’ll share a few of the more interesting links I’ve found. Read past entries in this series here.

1. What would Don Draper do? That’s the question Vanity Fair blogger Alyssa Bereznak applies to her weekly recaps of Pan Am. In general, Don’s response to most situations would be to drink, seduce or calmly walk away.

2. Punch out your lights. The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook Blog found a holiday punch sure to lay waste to those interminable holiday office parties looming on the horizon. “Since Canadian Club is Don Draper’s preferred brand of whiskey,” they write, “we thought it was a natural for the Sterling Cooper holiday party, and we loved it too: a delicious blend of fruit juice, Canadian Club and brandy.”

3. The end forseen. Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner tangled a hint of what he imagines the final scene of the series will be: an 84-year-old Don Draper. Maybe. Maybe not. His comments were reported on the blog Grantland.