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’: 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)