Posts Tagged ‘Mad Men’

My 10 Favourite Non-Comic Book Things Of 2013

December 12, 2013

We looked at my favourite comic book things of the year on Tuesday, and now it’s time to turn to the entire rest of the entertainment world.  It was a decent year, especially for books; I read a lot of cool, interesting books this year (thanks, library!), though I mixed it up with a few different mediums on this list.

So here are the non-comic book things that I enjoyed the most in 2013:

10) Don Draper

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I know everybody loves Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, but for me Man Men has been and still remains the best show on AMC, and the best TV drama since it debuted.  A big part of what makes it so good is Jon Hamm as Don Draper, who had just a terrible year with his job, his wife and other lady friends, his kids… it was rough, and mostly his own fault.  But so well done, and fascinating as always.  I think Don Draper is one of the most interesting characters in TV history, and if Mad Men ends without Jon Hamm ever winning an Emmy I will be very displeased.

9) Lorde

“Royals” was super good and everybody loved it.  I think “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is even better.  Plus in a year of an especially ridiculous amount of asinine pop music and moronic singers with hit songs (I say this as someone who LOVES pop music… Katy Perry’s “Roar” would have been on this list if I went to 11 spots), Lorde is a smart, thoughtful artist who at 17 years old has more to say than most of the adults in the music business.

8) Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

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Scientology is pretty messed up, you guys.  This is probably not new information to you, but this book blew my mind with just how screwed up, abusive, and insidious Scientology is.  There’s a side to it that’s amusing, what with a crappy sci-fi writer and obvious liar and fraud ending up leading one of the world’s most powerful religions, but the control and abuses of the Scientology organization are dark and sinister to a degree I never knew before I read this book.

7) Sleepy Hollow

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I thought that this show was going to suck.  I wrote it off the second I heard about it.  “The Headless Horsemen in the 21st century” sounds like a god awful premise for a show.  But it’s this weird, apocalyptic adventure that absolutely embraces how ridiculous it is and just goes for it and keeps getting more and more crazy, and I love it.  Plus, Ichabod and Abbie are delightful together and bring a real heart to the show.  It’s a very pleasant surprise.

6) Pete Holmes

I recently spent three days on the road (driving to Ontario and back home), and I listened to You Made It Weird podcasts for most of that trip, laughing the entire time.  Pete Holmes is goofy and hilarious, but also earnest and hilarious, and the dude just grows on you.  His special Nice Try, The Devil was a hoot, and I love The Pete Holmes Show and watch it every day.  Things like a tone deaf Jesus or New Material Seinfeld will never not make me laugh.

5) The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

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If a female golem teaming up with a male jinni in New York City in the early 1900s is not a premise that makes you go “Well I definitely need to read that book”, than you and I will probably never be friends.  It’s a fantastic book, entertaining and heartbreaking and a wonderful fusion of mythologies.  That this is Helene Wecker’s first novel astounds me; it’s ridiculously good.  I didn’t want the book to end because I wanted to keep reading about the characters.

4) New Girl

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I had never seen an episode of New Girl before this year, dismissing it as a manic pixie dream girl sort of a thing, but I kept hearing it was decent.  So this summer I checked it out on a whim and watched two full seasons in a week or so.  It is HILARIOUS.  Whether Schmidt is trying to buy crack cocaine from street youths or Nick is involuntarily fist pumping to “Cotton Eye Joe”, there’s not a single episode that didn’t make me laugh out loud, and many that made me laugh so hard that I had trouble breathing.  It’s one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen.

3) The Day of the Doctor

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After what was just an okay Doctor Who season, I was a little bit concerned about the 50th anniversary special.  I loved the first Moffat season, but it had been diminishing returns since then.  However, The Day of the Doctor was just perfect.  I think it’s the best thing Moffat’s done yet, and it was exactly what I wanted out of the special.  Seeing it in 3D in a theater packed with hardcore Whovians made it ever better.  The angst, redemption, and joy of the special captured everything that is fantastic about Doctor Who.

2) The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (ie. J.K. Rowling)

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I only read this book after the news broke that J.K. Rowling actually wrote it.  I had never even heard of it before then, but I love Rowling so I thought it might be a fun read.  Turns out, it was my favourite book of the year.  It’s just a mystery novel, with a grizzled detective and his plucky assistant; no wizards, no twists on the genre, nothing crazy.  But it was so enjoyable!  I loved the characters, I loved the story, and I couldn’t put it down.

1) Orange is the New Black

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This show was SO good.  It started out as a “white girl in prison” sort of thing, which was somewhat entertaining, but then you meet everyone else at the prison and they’re all fascinating and wonderfully cast, with great characterization and backstories.  There’s comedy, there’s romance, there’s drama, there’s action.  The finale is INSANE (SPOILER!! My theory: Chapman beat the hell out of Pennsatucky so that she could get new teeth, thus ending the feud).  I can’t wait for the second season.  Orange is the New Black was the best show of the year.

So those are my favourite things that aren’t comics from 2013.  It was a fun year for entertainment, both in comics and outside.  It looks like 2014 is going to have some big shoes to fill.

I’m Not Going To Watch Comic Book Men Anymore OR Epic Second Chance Fail

February 20, 2012

I did not care for the first episode of Comic Book Men at all, but much like not judging a book by it’s cover, you shouldn’t judge a TV show by just one episode.  So I tuned in again tonight, to give it a second chance.  I figured that since I’m a total comic book geek, maybe there would be something in the second episode that I found more enjoyable.  I can’t turn my back on my comic book brethren after just one shot, however disheartening it was.

That was a bad call on my part.  There was a 1960s Batmobile, which is always fun, but there were also all manner of jokes concering balls and Giant Sized Man Thing and masturbating in a playground and simulating sex acts with action figures.  Plus, next to ladies at all.  In one cut shot, a female customer says “Oh, awesome” when she’s handed a comic book, and that’s about it for ladies in this episode.

All of that was lame and/or terrible, but there was one scene in particular that epitomizes why I’m never going to watch Comic Book Men again.  Let me describe it to you.

The fellows were doing their podcast bit, and Kevin Smith was talking about the 1960s Batgirl, Barbara Gordon.  He said:

I was a big Batgirl fan because you liked Batman and suddenly this is everything you love about Batman, but you can have sex with it too!!

And, of course, his minions guffawed.

So Batgirl is cool because you can have sex with her.  Ugh.  Way to reduce a cool and fascinating character (she was a superhero AND a Congresswoman for pete’s sake) into a sex object.  Great.

Also, “sex with IT”, not “sex with HER”.  Seriously.

Then Smith related the story of The Killing Joke, where Barbara got shot through the spine by the Joker and was paralyzed.  Smith said:

That made her, I think, even more appealing because you just wanted to take care of her because she’s in a wheelchair.

First off, Barbara Gordon didn’t need ANYONE to take care of her.  She was more independent while paralyzed than most people on the planet with two working legs.

Second, a female character is more appealing when she shifts from a strong, active crimefighter to, in Smith’s mind, a helpless, passive parapalegic who needs your help?  AWFUL.

But it got so much worse.  After Smith said he wanted to take care of a paralyzed Batgirl, that dude who runs the store called out:

Really?  You wouldn’t leave her?

To peals of laughter from the room, followed by several riffs about dumping a paralyzed woman.  This is when I knew I wasn’t going to watch this show ever again.

I just don’t like these people.  I don’t like how their minds work, I don’t like what they find funny, and they upset me with their idiocy and sexism.  Yeah, I said sexism.  The way they talk about women on this show is god awful.  So yeah, I’m done.

On the plus side, I did see an ad for Mad Men tonight.  It’s back March 25th, everybody!!!  WOOHOO!!!  It’s nice to end on a positive note.

A Non-Post About Comic Book Men

February 13, 2012

I watched Comic Book Men tonight.  Now, given that I talk about women in comics a lot, this blog has a fair amount of friendly criticism.  Let’s just say it’s not a topic that comes with a lot of celebrating.  Plus, Before Watchmen was announced the other week and the Earth Two costumes were ugly, and the tone here lately has been a little down.  So I’m not going to talk about Comic Book Men.

Instead, I’m going to talk about my comic book shop, the spectacular Strange Adventures in Halifax, NS.  The people who work there are super nice.  They’re not dicks at all.  They’re friendly to each other, and to customers, and going in to get my comics is always a very pleasant experience.  Oh, we argue from time to time… Dave thought I was absolutely crazy to get Ultimatum a while back, and it turns out he was right.  But they’re always nice.  Also, they’re funny, clever, cool people, and while polite they don’t laugh uproariously at every weak to average joke they hear.

They also employ ladies.  A few, in fact.  And there are ladies just around, like in the background of the shop, perusing and buying things.  The female population of the shop consists of much more than just, say, a nervously laughing horror movie fan.  There are all sorts of women doing all sorts of things.  In fact, they’re having a ladies night at the end of the month!!  If you’re in Halifax on February 29th, you should check it out!!

Never has anyone who worked at Strange Adventures talked to me about which superheroes they’d like to have sex with.  We’ve talked about Archie’s polyamorous relationships and sex in comics generally, but in an interesting, non-creepy way.  They aren’t creepy at all.  They’re a nice, sort of weird but in ways that are awesome group of people who make customers feel welcome, ie. the exact sort of people you want to buy comics from.

Strange Adventures is AWESOME.  It’s the coolest store in the world, and a paradigm for the best that a comics retailer can be.  It’s diverse and inclusive and spending time there just makes you want to come back again.  I LOVE my comic book shop.  And that’s all I have to say about Comic Book Men.

Other than this: You make Mad Men, AMC… MAD MEN.  What the hell?!

Super Classy Mad Men Poster

January 10, 2011

Minimalist posters seem to be all the rage on the internets lately, and Matt Needle has built this KILLER Mad Men poster:

Oh man I wish I wasn’t poor… I would most definitely order one if I had any disposable income.  It’s super fun!!  I miss Mad Men… I wish it was the summer… partly because of Mad Men, partly because of snow.

The Best Of 2010 List

December 31, 2010

Since it is the very end of the year, I thought I would build a list of my favourite things in comics from the past year.  It’s a rather novel idea really… no one else on the internets does year end lists.  Coming up with this sweet idea will probably make me super famous!!

BEST WRITER

Matt Fraction:  Amusingly, I am naming Fraction the best writer largely because of something he wrote years ago that I am now buying again for the second time.  Though really, if making someone buy a book twice doesn’t qualify you for best writer, what does?  The Icon Casanova re-releases are absolutely gorgeous with their newly coloured art, but the writing is just off the chain fantastic… it’s got spy antics and universe swapping and just all around insanity, and it’s the BEST time.  Plus, his Thor is damn good too.

Pretty Great Too: Between the epicness of Blackest Night, the consistent enjoyability of Green Lantern, and the bizarrely underappreciated goodness of Superman: Secret Origin, Geoff Johns had a fine year as well. 

BEST ARTIST

Skottie Young:  Not a lot of people read the Oz books he and Eric Shanower put out, but EVERYBODY should because the art will knock your socks off!!  Skottie Young is a generally awesome artist, but there’s something about the fantastical nature of the Oz books that is an absolutely perfect match for his style.  It allows him to draw characters that are cartoony and emotive, while setting them in crazy landscapes that are spectacularly drawn.  Jean-Francois Beaulieu also deserves a shout-out for his amazing colouring of Young’s art, which helps make it look even better!!

Also Excellent: The artist whose work currently defines the DC universe for me is Ivan Reis… he’s drawn pretty much every DC character in the past year, and they’ve all looked exactly right, and that’s extremely hard to pull off!!

BEST NEW SERIES

SHIELDJonathan Hickman comes up with the coolest stuff.  Here he takes the already fun idea of S.H.I.E.L.D., the global spy agency, and turns into a historical organization started by Imhotep thousands of years ago that posts members like Galileo and Leonardo da Vinci.  The main part of the story concerns a new Shield agent in the 1950s, but there’s all sorts of flashbacks to various crazy events in the past.  The refrain of “This is not how the world ends” every time humanity faces a terrible threat is both bad ass and fascinating in its implications.  Only Hickman could write a book like this, and Dustin Weaver’s art fits it well.

I Enjoyed This As Well:  The comic that gives you the most bang for your buck right now is Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards’ Turf.  It’s got gangsters, vampires, AND aliens, and is just a jam-packed book.

BEST SERIES

The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of OzTechnically, these are two mini-series, but they keeping coming out at such a regular rate that they may as well be a proper series.  I have already praised Skottie Young’s art skills, so now I’ll talk about Eric Shanower and his excellent writing.  Adapting books into comic form is a tricky task, and it’s rarely done well, but Shanower breaks each of L. Frank Baum’s novels into eight perfectly logical issues and then makes each issue a snappy, enjoyable read.  I’m not terribly familiar with Baum’s books, but the comic reads so well and captures a ridiculously fun spirit of fantasy and adventure.  It is, by far, my favourite series this year.

But These Were Good Too:  There are a lot of other great series, but Thor, Casanova, and Green Lantern are probably my top three picks after the Oz books.

BEST LIMITED SERIES/GRAPHIC NOVEL

Scott Pilgrims’ Finest Hour:  There are few things I love more in the world than Scott Pilgrim and the world Bryan Lee O’Malley has built around him, and the final book in the series was a perfect close to the story.  O’Malley gets better and better with each book, both in terms of writing and art, and the final battle with Gideon is HUGE and full of crazy twists and turns.  I am sad that the series is over, but I loved the way it ended.

I Would Also Recommend:  Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon’s Daytripper was not only gorgeous, as everyone thought it would be, but it was also a very well-written and moving depiction of the life (lives, really) of a Brazilian writer.  It was a real pleasure to read each month.

BEST SINGLE ISSUE

Ex Machina #50Good lord, it was depressing.  But it was SO good… and really, when you think about it, how else could Mitchell Hundred’s story have ended other than in flat out, spectacular terribleness?  We knew it was coming from the first page of the first issue!!  Tony Harris’ art was great, as always, and Brian K. Vaughan really hit it out of the park… it was not as satisfying an ending as Y: The Last Man, but it was never meant to be.  It was meant to be a big punch in the gut, and this close to the tale of a superhero turned politician most definitely was.

These Were Almost As Good:  Nope.  Nothing was almost as good.  This was the best single issue of the year by leaps and bounds, and if Vaughan doesn’t start writing more comics soon, I am going to be very sad.

MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2011

BatwomanI LOVE J.H. Williams III and I LOVE Amy Reeder, so even though I have NO idea who the guy co-writing the book is or whether Williams can actually write, I know it’s going to be unbelievably fun to look at.  The preview issue was killer, and I am really curious to see where they take Batwoman and how they carve out a place for her in the Bat-universe.

I Am Also Jazzed About This:  Matt Fraction is teaming up with Stuart Immonen for the new, big Marvel event Fear Itself, which sounds like it’s going to be all sorts of fun.  A bad guy who only gets stronger the more scared you are of him has serious potential.

And a few other mediums for you…

BEST MOVIE

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World:  To be honest, I am very poor and haven’t seen many new movies at all this year.  But I did see Scott Pilgrim AND it was absolutely fantastic!!  It perfectly captured the tone of the books, and flew through the high points of well over a thousand pages of comics with relative ease.  Plus it was hilarious, the fights were damn impressive, and the cast was perfect for the characters.  I grinned through the entire movie.

Best Movie I Saw That Wasn’t Released This Year:  It’s an old one, but I loved The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.  It was cute and funny and just delightful.

BEST TELEVISION SHOW

Terriers:  None of you watched this, and I am still pretty upset about that.  Two private investigators in Ocean Beach, California, does not sound like a particularly unique concept for a television show, but it was astoundingly well-written, the characters were lovable albeit impressively damaged people, and the cases they got wrapped up in ranged from amusing to dangerous to heart-breaking.  It was the best show of the year, and NOBODY watched it, and that is super uncool.

At Least These Shows Weren’t Cancelled:  I love that Mad Men decided to be hilarious this year, and it had its best season yet (which is saying a lot), while Community just decided to continue being hilarious and fantastic.

BEST BOOK

Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife by Lisa Miller:  I’m not picking this book just because the author has the same name as a Newsradio character, though that is super fun.  Miller presents a fascinating look at how heaven has been imagined over the course of human history, in terms of Christianity and other religions as well.  What emerges is the fact that heaven is a constantly changing idea, shifting all the time based on the values and desires of each particular society and era.  It was a crazy interesting book.

It Came Out A Few Years Ago, But I Loved It: This summer I read Anathem by Neal Stephenson, and it was SO much fun!!  It took me ages to wrap my head around a society where scientists are cloistered like monks, but once it all came together it was mind-boggling good times.


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