1st and Ten - The Weekly Tendown!: Nov 8-14 2009

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to the first ever TenDown, my countdown of the ten best things that happened this week.  Actually, it's a countdown of the best thing that happened this week - followed by the next ten runners-up.  Sure, some of this may actually have happened prior to this week - but if it didn't happen to me until this week, it didn't happen.  We live in a DVR world of time shifting and whatnot, I do not fight the tide.  I am the tide.  And whatnot. 

The best thing that happened this week.....


Something happened, something terrible, and the way people saw themselves is gone.
-The Mad Men season finale was Sunday; although receiving the accompanying critical acclaim, at no point has Mad Men really been the best drama on television.  It's been on the short list since ep 1, but with Wire/Shield and then season two of Breaking Bad (not to mention its peer group, Friday Night Lights and Big Love) there's never been a point where I would have definitively said, "that's the best drama on TV."

Until this season, specifically, until this week.  Mad Men has always deftly played with its being a period piece, trying to co-opt the style of the late 50s/early 60s without the historical substance of the era acting as a barrier to modern viewers.  In other words, you could appreciate the Mad Men universe even without appreciating the real universe in which it was historically situated. 

-That's really ended (and for the better) this year; race/homosexuality/the women's sphere were all infused in front burner storylines all year - and building our readiness toward thinking of Mad Men as less stylized contemporary drama and more an insight into a pivotal moment in US history (sort of the way the Wire was about urban 21st century America - that you could watch it as much for socio-political insight as for entertainment).  In the season finale, clearly Mad Men is staking out an historical view - that the Kennedy assasination marked the end of the "Mad Men" post WWII era of American history; Draper and his gang of bourgeious revolutionaries leave the comfort of Sterling-Cooper to go into business for themselves, and Betty leaves her marriage (and her two older children; Betty, if you're unaware, is a pretty crappy mom) with a similar motive in mind.  A loyal viewer might be uncertain about season 4 - the show as it as been thusfar is clearly gone - the ad agency is now in a hotel suite and Betty Draper's on a plane to Reno - but that, of course, is the whole point.  If the death of JFK is the big bang that creates the new America (a reductionist but defensible proposition) an America which could not have been imagined even three years previous - that's the sensation Mad Men created Sunday.  It has taken the combustible uncertain soup of the time and risen from it a new world.

Mad Men is dead.  Long live Mad Men.  The remaining ten after the jump:

And now The Ten:

1. Dragon's Gate USA - Untouchable
-All wrestling is free now, as you're probably aware.  I'm not saying that all wrestling is free through legal means, but all wrestling is free and it's not hard to acquire.  Despite that, despite my being flat broke, and despite my cable company charging $19.95 for the Dragon's Gate shows, I've purchased their first two PPVs.  I got around to watching Untouchable Friday; it had two MOTY candidates, Bryan Danielson v. Naruke Doi (4 1/2 stars) and Davey Richards v. Shingo (4 3/4 stars); Richards/Shingo also gets added to the Match of the Decade list, as it is one of the 50 best matches of the past ten years.  It's the best North American match for 2009.  You need to see this show if you like graps.  (Runners-up for this spot, WWE had a free 3 1/2 star match on Tuesday, Christian keeping over Regal; I also saw a 4 1/2 star Dragon's Gate 6 man from July this past week.  Good week for graps.  I haven't seen last night's fight yet.)

2. We Alter Reality: You Are Sold a Preconceived Narrative
-I wrote about Fox News a little bit earlier in the week; the Daily Show caught Sean Hannity red handed, claiming older tea party protest footage as footage from a significantly smaller recent event; Hannity apologized on air, saying oops, just a mistake, tee, hee.  It was a good get by the Daily Show that no one else picked up on; and goes to a larger point that I haven't fully fleshed out yet - Jon Stewart is the Entertainer of the Decade. Like Letterman in the 80s and Seinfeld in the 90s, Stewart's sensibility drove much of popular culture this decade - it's not just Colbert (and Steve Carrell and Ed Helms) who have broken out from the Daily Show - I'd argue that Stewart's success moved Keith Olbermann and then Rachel Maddow to essentially create straight versions of his show - if the Daily Show could be an unabashed truth teller then so could news commentary.  Add in the lefty blogosphere - and what you get is a rise of progressive voices, creating a tidal wave of opposition that helps enable the Democratic sweep into power. 

And Stewart's funny.  So there's that.

I'm going to throw this line out there and put it out there first - Jon Stewart is Entertainer of the Decade. 

3. Strawberry Pancakes at Gun Club
-Last Sunday morning I went to the Gun Club diner with my friend.  Actually, it's no longer called the Gun Club diner - but Gun Club is a way better name, so that's what we're going with.  I've been off any semblance of a diet for a year now (as the tightening of my clothes and explosion of my head will attest) but there were no pancakes in my life for several years, so my brain still does a bit of a pancake dance.  These were particularly well made, thick and hearty, and the strawberries were fresh.  There was also a family at a nearby table; dad/mom - we're assuming mom's mom and mom's sister - and little Timmy, with his video game on his phone.  Dad clearly wanted to get home, either to his boat or his football; Timmy had an unfortunate haircut and an Ed Hardy starter t-shirt, and however old it is that mom's sister finds herself, they have been some hard, hard years.

4. New Sneakers 
-I got new shoes this week.  Propet walking shoes - all white (which I dig, but my friend was concerned they'd date me - hey, on the League this week, which you should be watching, incidentally, there was a scene where dude wore his rugby shirt and wife told him that was no good anymore; I don't have rugby shirt left in the closet, but I used to, and it concerns me that now that would make me look like a dumbass).  They're good, with some shock absorbing and a little extra width to accommodate my unsettlingly girthy feet, plus this is a helpful tip from the American orthopedic society: the proper way to lace one's shoes.  I entertain and inform.  The Tendown!

5. The Unlikely Disciple
-Kevin Roose spent a semester undercover as a student at Liberty University; I read the book this week; he condemns the atmosphere (and the founder) less than would I have liked, but it's still a useful insight into a part of the world I'm unlikely to ever enter willingly (not that they'd have me).

6. Away We Go
-Last night I watched Away We Go - it's flawed, the overarching element of returning to Maya Rudolph's childhood home probably needed a different edit to really get the emotional payoff the film's looking for - but it's small and smart and if you were impacted by the voice David Eggers brought to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius you'll hear it in this film.  A definite watch. 

7. Sammy Sosa's White

The season opener of South Park was about Michael Jackson's refusal to accept his death until he entered a pre-teen beauty pageant, so he inhabitated a child's body.

Is Michael Jackson possessing Sammy Sosa?

He never got a childhood - or got to do stereotypically male things - maybe Michael Jackson wants to play baseball - if Sosa gets a spot in the Dominican League this year, I'm willing to say it's the reanimated King of Pop.  Jamon~ 

8. Brandon Jennings' Double Nickel
-The Bucks rookie went for a record 55 against my Warriors this weekend; I was foresquarely against drafting Jennings, so I'll own that - but it really goes to what a complete toxic waste dump GSW has been since knocking out the Mavs in that opening round a couple of years ago.  Don Nelson needs to be run out of town on a rail, hopefully this game gets him a day closer to that (55 was a popular score to hit me with this weekend, my Trojans got the stuffings squozen out of them yesterday).

9. I Want to Be Very Clear, I Still Have the use of My Penis.
-Glee was particularly good this week; the wife and the wife's fake pregnancy, which is a false note every time its been played was nowhere to be found, they pumped up the supporting characters, a definite necessity at this point in the season, and - look - I am a wholehearted subscriber to the underlying Seinfeld ethic (no hugs, no learning) I am far more likely to see even fairly well executed attempts at television emotion as cringeworthy than cathartic - but Sue Sylvester holding her sister's hand choked me up this week.  I'm not made of rocks people. 

10. His Name is Earl.
-I've got two fantasy hoops teams - JR Smith is on both of them; this week, Smith announced he wanted to be called Earl. 

He changed his mind the next day, but what I particularly liked about this is that Smith was just coming off suspension, he's a constantly in some sort of trouble NBA scorer who decided the way to rehabilitate his image was to drop the initials JR - which exactly describes JR Rider from a decade ago who became Isiah and then dropped into the dustbin of history.  I'm not sure what it is about those initials that marks them as belonging to the recalcitrant (is it a Larry Hagman thing?) but I enjoyed this story even more than Ochocinco (another guy who changed his name) getting fined 20 grand for trying to bribe that referee with the dollar bill last Sunday.

That's how it goes.  First and Ten - The Tendown!

I'll see you next time...if there is a next time...


Blog said...

Hmmm...the new design is very...retro?

Travisina said...

Long Live Mad Men! The blog has some lift on the face parts. Upgrade.

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