Posts Tagged ‘Mad Men’

State of the Union Speeches- They Matter Because Sometimes They Surprise

January 29, 2014 3 comments


There’s a piece in Politico today (a publication that exhibits all that is wrong and twisted about political coverage with its superficial and cynical repackaging of what is pretended to not be conventional wisdom), that says it’s time to do away with the annual State of the Union speech. I could not disagree more.

I will admit that in the hours leading up to the event last night, I was kind of dreading the tediousness of it all; the 75 interruptions for applause with the one side clapping while the other sits on its hands, the requisite heroes in the audience sitting with the First Lady, the tiresome glad-handing and back-slapping that occurs as the cabinet and the Joint Chiefs and the Supremes and, finally, the President, enter the chamber.

But sometimes the event- the speech and its reactions- surprise you.

There were several moments that made it all worth it to me. In every case, it was when unity unexpectedly filled the chamber. Hope for the future of the Republic!

Unity Incident #1: When the President spoke about America as a place that offers unending possibility and opportunity.

It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker; how the son of a barkeeper is Speaker of the House; how the son of a single mom can be President of the greatest nation on Earth.

The line about Speaker John Boehner was classy and it was greeted in the chamber by a standing ovation by both parties. And when the President delivered the line about himself being the son of a single mom, Boehner, in turn, graciously stood and clapped for him.

Unity Incident #2: Ok, granted it was kind of minor, but when the President riffed on the importance of equal pay for equal work he offered this great line:

It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.

Boehner’s reaction was a genuine smile. Clearly the Speaker has taken in a few episodes of Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, and company. It was kind of like an athlete tipping his cap to an opponent; a “well-played, sir” kind of thing.

Unity Incident #3

The amazing moment that involved one of the heroes sitting with the First Lady, Army Ranger, Cory Remsburg. It just could not get more poignant:

I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program – a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.

A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.

For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.

Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again – and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”

Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.

The applause in the chamber was deafening. And lasted for at least five full minutes. Forgive me for abandoning my usual snarky cynicism, but that, was a deeply moving experience.

And it’s moments like those- the ones that belie the divisions and anger and hatred, that are good for the country to see. Yes, it’s mostly predictable and the ritual, for some, gets annoying. But there’s a, perhaps, naïve side of me that gets damn near misty-eyed when I see Americans standing together united by…anything. We need to see more, not less of that.

Confession: It’s Not Just Mad Men

March 26, 2012 1 comment

I have noticed that my life has been increasingly taken over by various television series and I suspect I am not alone in this. After an 18-month hiatus, Mad Men returned Sunday night- but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

First, a tremendous amount of catching up occurred over this past winter and fall. The discovery of every single episode of Mad Men on Netflix was the epiphany. Watching them back-to-back-to-back like that was great fun. Then as you start closing in on the last couple of episodes- a strange sort of depression sets in- like- “Oh my God- what are we going to do now- no Don, no Betty, no Peggy- until…when?”

For Mad Men fans it would be a year and a half of contractual complications with the cast. They made it up to us with a 2-hour season debut Sunday that reminded me all over again how I got addicted to the series in the first place. I am not interested in writing an analysis of the show- but perhaps the most important take-away is that the actress’ name is Jessica Pare, she’s French Canadian and her version of Zou Bisou Bisou is being released on I-tunes today. Ahem- as I was saying– Mad Men was the mere tip of the iceberg.

Game of Thrones filled the Mad Men void for an entertaining couple of weeks but, alas, ended all too soon and led directly to an addiction to Spartacus which was fascinating in its explicit violence and sexuality but also quite sad after learning that the actor who played Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) died after the last season succumbing to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the young age of 39.

Downton Abbey’s first season soon came to the rescue for a good month’s worth of viewing. Season two did not seem to be available anywhere for free so I felt the need to make a contribution to PBS and had the thing mailed to me.

Homeland, Alcatraz, Smash and Touch have also been extremely helpful in filling the between-seasons voids of Dexter, Weeds and True Blood.

Sometimes, these series all run together in my mind and I can’t remember which character was on what show but this is not a big concern to me during waking hours.

My dreams, however, are extremely odd; gladiator-vampires riding shape-shifters, rushing to the rescue of French-Canadian versions of Marilyn Monroe who is fleeing crazed terrorist Broadway actresses who sell weed on the side to British servants who are investigating the serial killings of escaped convicts from the early 1960’s.

If you followed that at all- welcome to my sick but thoroughly entertaining world.