Posts tagged “dante’s inferno

Mad Men: The Italian Dish

Posted on April 24, 2013

donandsylviaOh good grief, Don Draper. Not only do you head back down the philandering path, but you take up with your doctor buddy’s wife, an Italian dish who seems just as practiced at cheating as you are. She lives downstairs! She’s friends with your wife! You’re pulling the whole love-in-an-elevator thing waaay before the rock band Aerosmith made it cool in the 1980s. Yes, that makes you ahead of your time, but just how desperate are you to be caught and ruined?

After the season premiere, I thought you had turned a corner because of all your guilty pillow talk. Now? Two more episodes into the season and I just don’t know about you. Didn’t you go through enough personal hell in seasons 3 and 4 to learn your lesson? How many more layers of hell must you face in order to see the light and be redeemed? So far, you seem to be caught in limbo between lust and greed, although I have to say that tormenting Megan for having a love scene on her soap opera smacks of a hell of a lot of treachery.

You bastard.

Don Draper, as a woman, I should hate you. I really should, you insufferable lady killer, you. But honestly…you’re a handsome fella, who is self-made and smart. Sometimes, you even mean well. Given your rich story line and all the trouble you’ve seen, I’m pulling for you, in spite of you. But I think that maybe you and Roger Sterling need to trade places on a psychiatrist’s couch.

Which brings me to Roger: I’m not worried he’s going to kill himself anymore. He’s back to being the silver-haired fox with the screamingly hilarious one-liners. Maybe the therapy is working. Or maybe he’s doing LSD again. The tweeting masses made much of Don and Stan’s secret meeting about the ketchup account on Sunday night, but smug-faced Sterling’s line about firing Harry Crane before he could cash his commission check was comedic gold.

Dear Matthew Weiner: More Roger, please.

Back to Italian Dishes: I made lasagna Sunday night. Part of the reason I did that was to honor Don’s Italian Dish, Sylvia. The other reason was to silence my seven-year-old, who has become as obsessed with lasagna as Garfield the cat. To make lasagna, you start with either marinara or bolognese sauce as the bottom layer. I chose bolognese…

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Top the layer of bolognese with a layer of cooked lasagna noodles. Then, top the noodles with a thin layer of ricotta cheese, followed by a layer of shredded mozzarella, followed by a layer of shredded parmesan. I added another layer of bolognese and noodles and wound up here:

IMAG1218I added ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan again, covered it with foil,  popped it in the oven for 50 minutes and then got this:

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Now that you’ve feasted on that, what about Don’s wife Megan? Now that her star is rising on daytime television, now that she’s being roped into these love scenes, now that Don is flipping out about it (all the while slipping downstairs for a quickie), what’s going to happen with her? Granted, Megan aggressively went after Don when she was his secretary, was promoted to copywriter (and the second Mrs. Draper) and then quit to pursue an acting career (helped along by Don, who cast her in a commercial). Let’s say she finds out about Don and Sylvia. Then what? When I ponder this question, I can’t help but think of the Gillian Flynn book Gone Girl, which involves a wife who vanishes on her fifth wedding anniversary. Megan might want to take a page from that book if things continue to go further south.

Although I’m wondering whether the secret ketchup account storyline could provide some clues about where this season is headed. Don and company were warned by their client Heinz Baked Beans not to go after the Heinz ketchup account, which they did anyway. They pitched ketchup, they lost ketchup, and then they lost baked beans too. Don said you have to dance with the girl who brung ya, but he didn’t in more ways than one. Since he can’t have it both ways at the office, is he about to find out he can’t have it both ways at home too?

Other notes:

* My inner Francophile loved that the show included “Bonnie and Clyde” by Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot. Here’s a clip.

* “Mad Men” has always gotten kudos for its costumes. New York Magazine has a great slideshow of some of this season’s late-1960s-inspired looks, from fringed suede jackets to white go-go boots.

New York Magazine also interviewed Matthew Weiner’s son, Marten, who plays creepy Glen on the show.

The Hollywood Reporter lists its five worries about the show.

Florida Today and Wired  report that the show’s creators are pitching a new show about the space program in the 1960s, as seen through the eyes of the journalists who covered it. 

Mad Men Season Six, Episodes One and Two: “People Will Do Anything to Alleviate Their Anxiety”

Posted on April 15, 2013

Matthew Weiner is good. I mean, he is really, really good. Not only did he torment “Mad Men” fans in the off-season with the idea that newly-remarried Don Draper just might backslide into his old Draper-y ways with the ladies, but he strung them along for nearly two hours in the season six premiere to show them just how bad it could get.

The show opens with Don Draper reading Dante’s “Inferno” on a Hawaiian beach. “Midway through our life’s journey I went astray from the straight road and awoke to find myself alone in a dark wood,” he reads as his wife Megan sips blue cocktails in the sand next to him and worries about getting too much sun. Megan’s commercial debut at the end of season five has led to work on a soap opera and within the first minutes of the show, viewers get the sense that although the Drapers are still together physically, emotionally they’re drifting apart.

Near the end of their trip, Don is alone in the hotel bar. He can’t sleep. A young private en route to Vietnam befriends him. The private, PFC Dinkins, is getting married the next day and asks Don to give away the bride. Don consents, but somehow in the midst of this exchange, he winds up with Dinkins’ lighter, which has “Sometimes we have to do things that are not our bag” engraved on it. Draper spends the rest of the show trying to get rid of that lighter, only to have it show up again when he least expects or wants it.

When the Drapers return to New York, we see that Don has befriended Dr. Arnold Rosen, a cardiac surgeon that lives in his building. Although Don is clearly very tormented about something in this episode, the friendship with Rosen is normal and sort of refreshing. Don Draper can make a friend! How nice! Rosen comes to visit him at the agency and Don gives him a Leica camera from the supply closet.

And then…the ending. Rosen is called in to the hospital to work on a snowy New Year’s Eve. Don goes downstairs, knocks on a door, and is let in by a woman who is…Rosen’s wife Sylvia, who gave Don the copy of “Inferno” to read on the beach. Don and Sylvia are having an affair and under the circumstances, you can’t help but wonder whether everyone’s favorite hard-drinking Creative Director is desperate to get caught. “What do you want this New Year?” Sylvia asks during their tryst. “I want to stop doing this,” Don says in a rare moment of guilt.

Is this guilt progress? Will Draper get back on the straight road? It’s hard to know, especially since I haven’t seen last night’s episode and am trying (and occasionally failing) to ignore any and all “Mad Men” related tweets and recaps until I can. If Matthew Weiner sticks with this Dante construct, I’m guessing things will get worse before they get better. As Don told one of his clients “Something bad has to happen before you get to paradise.” How bad are things about to get? Where is Don’s jumping off point?

Speaking of jumping off points, last season “Mad Men” fans wondered whether smarmy bastard Pete Campbell would kill himself. He hasn’t, but now that suicide talk has shifted to Don Draper. I don’t believe Draper will end it all, but I’m terribly worried about Roger Sterling, one of my favorite characters. Now that Sterling’s in therapy, now that his mother died, now that his favorite shoe-shine guy has died too, I’m concerned that Roger’s sense of being old and expendable may be too much for him to bear.

In the meantime, let me offer this next installment of food-I-make-while-I’m-waiting-to-get-caught-up-on-Mad-Men. In honor of Don Draper’s inability to commit to one type of sugar, I offer a cafe gourmand. The cafe gourmand is a relatively new concept in French cafes that allows diners to have anywhere from three to five small portions of desserts instead of one normal portion. It is perfect for people who are tormented by decision, allowing them to have it both ways in a publicly acceptable fashion.

The three desserts I plated are a cocoa sable, a chocolate mousse and an ile flottante. The cocoa sable is from a Dorie Greenspan recipe in “Around My French Table.” I’ve put two and two together and realized that it is the same recipe she uses for the World Peace Cookies she sells at Beurre and Sel. The chocolate mousse recipe (sans Grand Marnier) was from Anthony Bourdain’s “Les Halles” cookbook. The ile flottante used Dorie Greenspan’s creme anglaise recipe and Rachel Khoo’s technique for the puffed meringues.

Here is the result:
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