Mad Men's fourth season, which finished this past Sunday night, had a dualistic quality, it seemed to me. On the one hand, the season had some of the strongest episodes of the entire series—particularly "The Suitcase," which I wrote about in this space before. On the other, it had easily the worst, most blunt, least moving finale of all four seasons. It also signaled a sort of repetition in storytelling that I think may show that the writers are running out of juice. I'm not sure how many times, for example, I can worry about Sterling Cooper in crisis, or tolerate Don unloading all his familial responsibilities on another wife he'll undoubtedly tire of.
The one consistency, it seemed to me, was that the show had a lot more trouble than usual writing its women this season. Much of the best writing centered around Peggy, which I've covered in past posts here, and who barely appeared in last night's finale, so let's talk about the other female characters.
I still haven't read Sara Marcus's book on Riot Grrl, Girls to the Front, but I did bring two friends down to a reading in NYC last night that featured Marcus, poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and Rob Sheffield.
Marcus gave the most rock'n'roll reading I've ever heard for what's essentially a history book, though a vibrant, living history book built on having lived through that moment and spent years considering, rolling around in what it might mean. She straddled the mic, propped a foot on a monitor, and sang Kathleen Hanna's lyrics in a voice built for punk bands.
Voltairine de Cleyre was an Anarchist thinker, lecturer, and writer. A contemporary of Emma Goldman's, she was known for her strength of will and commitment to the power of the individual. (Incidentally, she was also a total babe.)
I wanted to write about de Cleyre for the obvious reason that she was a totally brilliant early feminist, but also because while Goldman, her colleague and sometimes adversary, was and continues to be a hugely famous progressive hero, de Cleyre is a relatively obscure figure. This is partly because she died young and partly because she wasn't nearly as gregarious as Goldman, preferring to publish and fundraise in relative solitude. But! The work she did, though different than Goldman's, was just as important.
I had fully intended to take on the "everyone for themselves" quality of predicting election results, spending some time researching through the he said/he said (that's not a typo) of who will win the House and Senate when the smoke clears on November 3. And then German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her mouth. What flew out was such a smelly stream of political diarrhea that I have to shift gears and write about elections, international context, and ugly racism.
Mmm...books! Autumn and books just seem to go hand in hand. This week's BitchTapes is a mix of musicians celebrating books in their songs or group names. Best enjoyed while stepping on crunchy leaves on the way to your local independent bookstore. Track list after the jump!
This week on Grey's Anatomy, we went from fire poles to therapeutic worms, and everywhere in between. Will the doctors of Seattle Grace successfully reassemble their lives after the shooting? Is Cristina seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Is Lexie feeling the bite of a green-eyed monster? And is Dr. Avery a sleazebag or what?! Is Frances Conroy cool or what?!
All this and more after the jump with the Grand Rounds bloggers!
In last night's Nevada Senatorial, Sharron Angle told Harry Reid to "man up." This was in response to Reid's pressure on Angle regarding her stance on Social Security. The exchange:
Reid: Don't frighten people about Social Security. The deal that was made by President Reagan and Tip O'Neil is holding strong. The money is there and taking care of our folks and will for the next 35 years.
Angle: Man up, Harry Reid. You need to understand that we have a problem with Social Security.
Or: How Robyn Released Three Albums in a Year And Kept Them Interesting.
When I look back at 2010, it will probably have been the Year of Robyn. It was the Year of Pop Music for me, really, but I came back to Robyn again and again. Part of that was accidental—I finally sat down and listened to Robyn, really absorbed that a really great dance-pop track was as brilliant an achievement as a really great, multilayered indie rock song.
Oh, Ken Buck. You make my job so easy, what with your refusing to prosecute a rapist because you thought the victim had had an abortion. Maybe you've heard of the Douchebag Decree, and you got so excited that you tried to be as outrageously bigoted as possible so that we would give you a shout-out? Was that it? Or are you...oh no... you are... just a HUGE DOUCHEBAG ALL ON YOUR VERY OWN.