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All The Pretty Horsies – A 141st Kentucky Derby Primer

With a tumbler of Eagle Rare and water in hand, I embark on what is a yearly exercise in futility trying to decide what horse might win the Kentucky Derby. I do this because A) the fine patrons of Darly Downs, a parimutuel pool I run, demand it (and by demand, I mean mostly don’t even read it but I need to fool myself into thinking I have an audience if I’m going to write 5000 words on the horses in the Derby) and B) because of all the characteristics of the Kentucky Derby, tradition is one of the top three along with decadence and depravity though only Hunter S. Thompson knows in which order they are arranged. One thing you should keep in mind at all times while reading the following is that I have almost no idea what I’m doing. You will forget this at your own peril. I know next to nothing about horse racing other than what I have gleaned from reading the Daily Racing Form over the past years and while that is likely infinitely more than you know, you should still not trust anything I say. As the evening wears on and the bourbon takes effect, I may become more witty or engaging or funny but at no time will I become a better judge of horse flesh. You have been warned. Horses are followed by odds as of this evening along with trainer and jockey.

If you are a patron of Darly Downs and not a random passerby caught in the glare of the following prose, you should also remember hat it’s quite possible one or more of the horses below won’t make it into the Derby, either because of injury or the owner’s failure to pay the requisite fees. If you bet on a horse that doesn’t get in, it’s a donation. In 2009, I Want Revenge was the 9-2 favorite and he got scratched on Friday after everyone put their money on him. A word of advice, don’t put all your money on one horse. But then, that goes exactly contrary to one School of Handicapping in another related document so what do I know.

We’ll start with the current favorites and move our way down the list. In the 7 or 8 years I’ve been running this pool, I have yet to write about all 20 likely entrants. In some years, this has caused me great despair like when Mine That Bird and Animal Kingdom won as 50-1 long shots. In other years, like last year, it just meant I didn’t write about the horsie that came in second (Commanding Curve). I will try to write at least something about all horses but we’re already 500 words and 2 fingers of bourbon in without any words about horses.

We have an exceptionally strong field this year with 4 horses with at least 2 triple digit Beyers. Compare to last year where only California Chrome had more than 1. This puts that horse’s performance in perspective and gives you some idea into why this will likely be a much more interesting race.

American Pharoah (13/5 Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: Victor Espinoza) American Pharoah goes off as the 2015 Kentucky Derby favorite after four dominating performances dating back to September of last year. He crushed the field in the Arkansas Derby winning by 8 lengths while easing up at the end. If you watch that race, you’ll notice that Espinoza doesn’t even put the whip to him in the last turn as he makes the move. I don’t even seen a discernible “Hey it’s time to run” signal from the jockey. American Pharoah just decides it’s time to go kick all the other horsies’ asses. That’s pretty scary if you’re thinking about betting on other horses. He’s the only horse that’s had 4 100+ Beyers. He was the top 2 year old. There is little to pin hopes of an upset on, only that he has never really had dirt kicked in his face. He’s won all races from no farther back than 4th. In the Derby, with 19 of his closest friends trying to run past him, it’s possible that he draws an inside post and discovers he’s not a big fan of dirt in his face. That’s about all the negative anyone can say about the horse so if he draws outside, watch out. The only thing I don’t like is that his name is misspelled, intentionally one has to presume. I’m sure there is a cute story there about one of his rich owner’s kids mumbling some crap when he was two but that doesn’t excuse naming a big pretty horse wrong.

Dortmund (4/1 Trainer: Bob Baffert; Jockey: Martin Garcia) Honestly, I’m not exactly sure why American Pharoah is the favorite. This horse is pretty impressive having 3 solid Beyers in his last 3 races (104, 104 and 106 in winning the Santa Anita Derby.) His sire is Big Brown, another huge horse that won both the Derby and the Preakness. In his last few races, he’s been a front runner but he has some history coming from behind. Being a big horse helps at the Derby where they bump and crash pretty regularly. He raced the same races last year’s runaway winner California Chrome did and was equally dominant. I anticipate he’ll go off as worse than 4 to 1 here at Darly Downs which is the only downside, namely he’s going to be an underlay (bad value though not if he wins of course). You’ll need to invest heavily to get much money back but that won’t stop a few of you from trying.

Carpe Diem (15/2 Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: John Velazquez) Carpe Diem won his last two races (Bluegrass Stakes and Tampa Derby) by 3 and 5 lengths respectively which sounds pretty impressive until you note he did that without a single Beyer over 100. In fact, he got slower in the Bluegrass while beating Danzig and Ocho Ocho Ocho, two of his fellow Derby competitors. None of that sounds impressive enough to be the 3rd favorite. He opened at 10 to 1 and has been bet down to this 15/2. His name is depressingly unoriginal which also worries me. I like Pletcher who is a Dallas native and seems to be somewhat genuine in this sport of noted royalty but that doesn’t make up for the fact this horse should be going off something closer to 12 to 1. Maybe I’m just not seeing it in the performance at Keeneland but this horse has to make a huge leap to get to first at the Derby or have several other horses get taken out by a confused terrorist.

Mubtaahij (10/1 Trainer: Mike de Kock; Jockey: Christophe Soumillon) Look, I understand this is the sport of kings and thus, Saudi princes feel like it suits them but I have a hard time supporting a horse shipped over from the Middle East. I can’t wait to hear the announcers mangle his name, hopefully intentionally. I’d pronounce it “MUB-TAH-HIDGE” and then promptly claim it meant “Rainbow Unicorn Fart” in Arabic. Anyway, they don’t run on dirt much over there so his winning the UAE Derby isn’t that impressive, even if he did it by kicking the crap out of all the contenders. As with any foreign horse running in the Derby, you have to question the talent he’s faced. Mostly, this horse is a gaping black hole who could either be a world beater or on his way to the glue factory. He has run long races and he does have a lot of experience, two things that might make him decent at Churchill but frankly, I’ll have to stick to my principles and say this horse just isn’t going to get there. This horse is the 2015 PIG, namely the horse in the top 5 most likely to suck. I missed last year’s PIG (Danza, his namesake notwithstanding, was actually a good horse) but as a general rule, I can see PIGs a mile away and this horse is it. It’s not racial I promise.

Materiality (14/1 Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Javier Castellano) Another Pletcher horse, this guy is getting some attention after running the fastest Beyer in the field at his last race, the Florida Derby. He looks to be making a big leap in his last three races with Beyers of 87, 102 and 110. Normally, this horse is going off at something closer to 7 to 1 instead of 14 to 1. So why the difference? It’s the curse of Apollo. Not since 1882 (yeah, 1882, when Theodore Roosevelt was thinking about running for office) has a horse that didn’t race as a two year old win the Derby. The weird thing is that every year there is one of these inexperienced horses entered and every year, they don’t do so hot. You can think of Materiality as you when you were a virgin. Let’s face it, you were terrible. You didn’t really have a clue what you were doing, you peaked too soon and faded too fast. Maybe you could run again in 15 minutes (oh those were the days) but the first time out of the chute was largely an experiment in humility. That’s what this horse faces. If he won it would be like you getting a standing ovation from Ron Jeremy. He’s not going to win. Whether you believe in curses or not, they belive in you and you should avoid this horse.

Firing Line (16/1 Trainer: Simon Callaghan; Jockey: Gary Stevens) Wait, we’re on horse number 6? Oh boy. Parkinson’s Law says “work expands to fill the time available for its completion”. I translate that every year into “I’m going to write about horses until the screen is too blurry to continue.” At this rate, we might get 12 horses in. Ahem, I digress. This horse has no business going off at 16/1. He’s a speed horse who just happened to finish second to Dortmund twice. He’s got a jockey on board that is 100 years old and was last seen announcing the Kentucky Derby in 2013 because of knee problems that forced his retirement (which isn’t to say he’s not talented, but still.) He’s another horse that got slower in his last race in winning the Sunland Derby against Mr. Ed and the Glue Factory Friends (the name of my next band). I really don’t understand anything about why this horse is in the top ten. His only hope is that the pace is incredibly slow and he can sprint to the finish. If you believe that might happen in a field this strong, I’ve got a front row ticket for you in the Heaven’s Gate Reunion Tour.

Frosted (16/1 Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin; Jockey: Joel Rosario) Right up front I’m going to admit my biases and one of the strongest is gray colts. This is a pretty horse and while gray horses never win the Derby, that doesn’t stop me from betting on them. This horse won the Wood (speaking of virgins) after a colossal collapse at the Fountain of Youth. It’s hard to say what happened but apparently between those two races, he had a little throat procedure (INSERT NEXT WOOD JOKE HERE) and adopted a tougher training regimen. Rosario is a solid jockey, having won the Derby in 2013 on Orb. I’d prefer you avoid this horse at all costs since gray horses never win the Derby. If you’re into the gimmick bets on Saturday, I’d put this colt in a couple especially if he’s going off at 16 to 1. While he may not win the Derby, he could pay out nicely on some trifectas.

International Star (20/1 Trainer: Mike Maker; Jockey: Miguel Mena) At this point it seems to take about 11 minutes to write about each horse. Extrapolating that pace out, we’re looking at another 132 minutes. The only way that’s happening is if I switch to water. Put a bet on that, I dare you. This horse is a paradox. On the one hand, he’s raced against some decidedly underwhelming competition. Beating horses that don’t even make the Derby is like beating your younger sister at HORSE. On the other hand, he seems to love the rail. Watch that Louisiana Derby win and you can start to see a scenario where International Star rides the rail like Street Sense or Mine That Bird and comes from way back to win the Derby. Part of that fantasy has to involve Calvin Borel (the jockey who rode those two horses to wins) and then you notice Borel is not the jockey for International Star. To bet on this horse, you have to believe Mena can put him on the rail and bring him home. He’s probably a rare horse who actually wants to be in position 4 or 5. If he’s out on the edge, he’s liable to finish last.

Upstart (20/1 Trainer: Rick Violette Jr.; Jockey: Jose Ortiz) Trying to decide at this point if there’s any chance that a horse from outside the top 10 has a chance. This horse can’t decide if he’s good or not. Every time he runs a good race, he comes back the next time and stinks up the joint. He came in second in the FLorida Derby with a 108 Beyer, a speed score equal to California Chrome’s best score last year. He won the Fountain of Youth with a very slow time but dominated in the Holy Bull. His races have all been good but he missed some work in April due to a sinus infection. Upstart is liable to have some value here at Darly Downs but I have trouble seeing him as a Derby Winner unless he does a big turnaround in consistency speed wise.

El Kabeir (33/1 Trainer; John Terranova II; Jockey: Calvin Borel) Ah grand old Borel, patriarch of the track at this point. He’s aboard another gray colt though a decidedly less talented one than Frosted. While he’s been quite consistent, that’s like saying Don Knotts was consistent. Yes, he got some laughs but no one was ever going to accuse him of being Eddie Murphy. This horse hasn’t gotten much faster as he got older and in a field as strong as the one he’s running against, he’s going to struggle unless they have given him a blood transfusion that Wolverine donated. The main redeeming factor I see in this horse is that he’s suddenly become a stalker in his last two races. He won the Gotham charging from next to last in a 10 hourse race to make up 12 lengths. In the Wood, he tried the same trick but came up 5 lengths short. If he has suddenly become the next coming of Animal Kingdom, this is the sign we will all be lamenting about on Saturday. By the way, I have no idea what El Kabeir means. I’m going to call him The Kabob.

Far Right (33/1 Trainer: Ron Moquett; Jockey: Mike Smith) Not owned by Ted Cruz, I’m assuming this horse is named for the track he’s going to have to take at the Derby to win, namely on the Far Right outside. This is a slow horse, even slower than The Kabob. He’s ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith which is a good thing but he finished 8 lengths behind our favorite American Pharoah (sic) in the Arkansas Derby. He’s another closer in what looks like a speed race and this is a good thing. If you’re looking for a reason to support him other than you have money on every other horse, this is it. In a fast race, a closer tends to win after the sprinters go out and run out of steam around the mile and 1/16th marker. Or you could put money on him just because you’re running for mayor in Oklahoma City and it looks good on your website.

Bolo (40/1 Trainer: Carla Gaines; Jockey: Rafael Bejarano) While I strongly support more women in this testosterone driven sport, I’m not sure Bolo and his trainer Carla Gaines can get there Sunday. He is a pretty horse and he has had some strong races. Unlike several other slackers in this field, he’s raced against the best in his last two races finishing second and third to Dortmund. The problem is he finished second and third. He’s got a brand new jockey in this race after Mike Smith jumped to Far Right which doesn’t bode well unless Rafael Bejarno is The Horse Whisperer. On the upside, he did run a 101 Beyer in San Felipe while making some pretty novice moves there. If he’s managed to pick up some maturity and a little more speed in the last two months, he might belong in the bottom of a trifecta but not sure he’s particularly deserving of more than a shekel or two in Darly Downs. Also notice that he started out on turf and moved to dirt later, never winning after that move.

Danzig Moon (40/1 Trainer: Mark Casse; Jockey: Julien Leparoux) We’re approaching 3000 words and while I’m still entertaining myself, the rest of the audience has probably left for greener pastures. This horse finished second to Carpe Diem in the Bluegrass Stakes which is a good thing. He finihsed fourth losing by 12 lengths to Carpe Diem in the Tampa Derby. This is a bad thing. His fastest Beyer is 90. The notes on the Bluegrass stakes say “no match” which is shorthand for “he’s a pretty horse but that second place finish doesn’t mean much. He’s another closer but we’ve already got a couple of those with more talent and better names. According to the DRF notes, he’s had some good workouts at Churchill but frankly, running 7 furlongs fast with no other horsies around doesn’t impress me. This horse smells like last place which is kind of like teen spirit without but with fewer platinum records.

Itsaknockout (40/1 Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Luis Saez) The main thing this horse has going for it this weekend is that he’s getting press because of the Pacquiao Mayweather fight. I hate these run on sentence names for horses in the Derby but that might be a personal bias. This horse came in fourth in the Florida Derby which doesn’t sound bad until you see he lost by 21 lengths. Oops. The fastest Beyer he’s run is 88 which is like bringing a Corolla to the Daytona 500. This horse just isn’t going to get there and unless you’re getting better than 40/1, you should save your money for some Skittles or something.

Mr. Z (40/1 Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas; Jockey: Ramon Vazquez) This horse probably shouldn’t be running in the Derby after his last two races where he finished 8 and 20 lengths back respectively. Unfortunately, his owners think otherwise. The sad thing is this horse has heart and with some time off and an easier race, he might be able to be a winner. This weekend though, the best we can probably root for the horse to make it around the track unscathed.

Ocho Ocho Ocho (40/1 Trainer: Jim Cassidy; Jockey: Elvis Trujillo) This horse is a pretty dark brown creature but he doesn’t belong in the Derby. He’s smaller than a lot of the other horses and in a race with 20 1200 pound animals running real fast around the track, being small is a serious disadvantage. He has raced against some classy horses but they’ve beaten him at every turn. His name must be a play on a toll free number because you shouldn’t put any cash on him to win.

Well folks, there are 4 more horses in this race but none of them have a chance to win unless Satan is their jockey. Therefore I’m wrapping up this edition of All The Pretty Horsies and moving on to greener pastures like my bed. Good luck and God Speed.


All The Pretty Horsies – A 140th Kentucky Derby Primer

Every year on the first Saturday in May for the past 139 years, a collection of Southern illuminati, Hollywood glitterati and a variety of hangers on that would make Hunter S. Thompson proud gathers a Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY to party, mingle and occasionally watch 1200 pound animals run around a track culminating in the ultimate race in horse racing, the Kentucky Derby. Also occurring that weekend, though for decidedly fewer years in a row, is a little office pool I like to call Darly Downs, named after a late friend of mine with a strong horse sense and a gambling drive surpassing even my own. And this post is called All The Pretty Horsies, a feeble yet game attempt to look into the big brown eyes of fabulous animals (actually, I just read the documents I buy from the Daily Racing Form but still) and decide which one is going to win. I spend approximately 3 hours a year handicapping so mostly this is a literary exercise to amuse you, dear reader. And decision making you make on the words that follow is pure folly. Horses are listed below with what I have gleaned from a variety of sources around the web along with the accumulated years of experience I have watching horse races. Buyer Beware. Horses are followed by odds as of this evening along with trainer and jockey.

One thing to remember is that it’s quite possible that one or more of the horses below won’t make it into the Derby, either because of injury or the owner’s failure to pay the requisite fees. If you bet on a horse that doesn’t get in, it’s a donation. In 2009, I Want Revenge was the 9-2 favorite and he got scratched on Friday after everyone put their money on him. A word of advice, don’t put all your money on one horse. But then, that goes exactly contrary to one School of Handicapping in another related document so what do I know.

We’ll start with the current favorites and move our way down the list. The horses below are listed from favorites to dogs based on the latest odds found here. Trainer and Jockey follow the odds.

California Chrome (5/2 A. Sherman/V. Espinoza) Every race has to have a favorite and California Chrome is the 2014 Kentucky Derby favorite. He is the favorite on account of putting up two very dominant performances in his last prep races, the San Felipe in March and the Santa Anita Derby in April. He turned in Beyer speed times of 108 in the former and 107 in the latter, the only horse to turn in 2 100+ Beyers in the prep races. He has won his last four starts and never been farther back than 4th in any of those races. On the upside, that means he’s a pretty good horse. On the downside, he’s never had dirt kicked in his face. Some horses don’t mind dirt in their faces, some even like it and some have never experienced it. At the Derby, where you have 20 horses taking off at the same time in the longest race they’ll run in their lives, it’s important a horse is ok with a dirty nose. Of course, it’s entirely possible California Chrome is the second coming of Secretariat (though unlikely because there won’t ever be another Secretariat, even if some horse wins the Triple Crown). His last two performances definitely do more than hint at a very strong contender. Going off 7/4 at the track isn’t a bad price and you’re likely to get an even better price here at Darly Downs if you’re into betting favorites and I know many of you are. Espinoza has won a Derby before aboard War Emblem in 2002 so you have some experience on your side.

Wicked Strong (13/2 J. Jerkens/R. Maragh) This horse won the Wood Memorial in strong fashion, coming from 6th place and 4.5 lengths back to win by 3.5 lengths over previously undefeated Samraat. However, he did it as a 9 to 1 underdog and before winning the Wood (seriously, the jokes are too easy when you’re discussing the Wood), he had only won one other race out of 5 starts. Still, in storming into the win there, he showed that he can stalk with the best of them and stalkers often do well at the Derby unless they are named Hunter S. Thompson. Horses with 3 syllable names are strong contenders (see War Emblem above) and overall, any use of the word “wicked” outside my use of it throughout the late 80s is a bonus in my book. I have no idea who Jerkens is but I assume he’s a competent trainer. Maragh has only been in the saddle for this horse for the last race but maybe there is a connection there given the performance. His Beyer for the Wood was 104, a jump of epic proportions from the 87 he posted in the prior race. With the exception of the Holy Bull, Wicked Strong has been getting faster in every race. Remember, these horsies are like 16 year old athletes and they can make massive jumps in performance. I’d like to see this horse at more like 10 to 1 but overall, I like him to have a good chance to win it all and certainly to finish in the money.

Danza (9/1 T. Pletcher/J. Bravo) We need to get this right out front: any ownership group who names their horse after Tony Danza during a brainstorming session deserves pity and shame. The “Who’s The Boss?” jokes are running hot and heavy and frankly, make writing about Danza difficult. This horse is lightly raced with only 4 races total including two this year. Lightly raced horses often aren’t prepared for the Derby where 19 of their closest friends are going to be pounding along beside them. Danza won the Arkansas Derby as a 41 to 1 underdog. Listen, horses are 41 to 1 underdogs for a reason, namely, they aren’t very good. He ran a 102 Beyer in the Arkansas but it’s difficult to say if he made a major leap or just fell into the right circumstances. This is Pletcher’s fifth entry in the 2014 Derby and you have to start to wonder if maybe he isn’t spread a little bit thin. This horse smells like a PIG to me. I’m not much of a handicapper when it comes to picking winners but I can sense a pretender from a mile away and I’m saying it’s this horse this year. Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2014 PIG of the Derby, Danza! Wager on him at your own risk as I am 5 for 5 on PIGs. Betting money on this horse is like Monday afternoon at the strip club. You get to choose disappointment or despair or possibly both but nothing good ever happens.

Hoppertunity (12/1 B. Baffert/M. Smith) We’re currently on a 2 horses for every cider pace. Doing the math, that’s a 10 cider night. Something’s got to give and I can promise you, it will be my desire to write about 80 to 1 long shots in a meaningful way. But who am I kidding, none of this is meaningful. We should have an All The Pretty Horsies Drinking Game. DRINK! Back to work. In the realm of horse racing, there aren’t many minor egos but Bob Baffert is a class A large ego and I root against his horses at every Hoppertunity (oh yeah). The most important thing you can know about this horse is that he didn’t race as a 2 year old. While that might seem insignificant, no horse since Apollo in 1882 (yeah, 1882) has won the Derby after not racing as a two year old. As it turns out, when 20 large horses run a really long race, experience is really important and racing as a two year old is how you get it. Hoppertunity came in second to our favorite, California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby by not being too worried about winning. He ran a 98 Beyer but was mostly left to his own devices by Mike Smith in that race. It was clear that the owner’s group wasn’t too worried about winning the race and were doing what was necessary to finish in a position that helped the horse’s Derby odds. Personally, I’m not going to bet a horse that isn’t trying to win every race but then, that’s why I’m not Bob Baffert. One word name horses are historically strong in the Derby so who knows. But it’s that two year old curse that I worry about. 132 years is a long time to go if there isn’t something to it.

Samraat (16/1 J. Violette/J. Ortiz) Samraat finished second in the Wood (and who needs that?) to Wicked Strong, losing by 3.5 lengths. Before that, he had won 5 straight. He ran up against a strong opponent in Wicked Strong and ran a pretty good race. He hasn’t run a 100+ Beyer and his last four races have been 95, 94, 96 and 98. Not exactly the kind of improvement you’re looking for leading up to the Derby. He was pushed wide the entire race and ran down Social Inclusion to finish second but I think an American horse race should have horses with American sounding names. Call me jingoistic but that’s just how it is. In six races, this horse has never been farther back than 4th place. He’s a front runner and trust me, front runners almost never win the Derby (unless their name is Secretariat and even that horse started in last place). This is another dangerous place to put money though that won’t stop some of you from doing it. It’s OK, I’ll still invite you back next year.

Dance With Fate (20/1 E. Peter/C. Nakatani) Dance With Fate has been all over the map from a finish perspective but has been getting progressively faster each race over the last 8 races. This is promising until you realize that Dance With Fate has run 5 out of those 8 races on synthetic track. This would be great if the Derby was run on Polytrack but alas, it’s run on dirt. He won the Bluegrass as in the stretch run, a promising sign but if we’re honest, any winner on a synthetic track is problematic when considered as prep for the chaos that is the Derby. I actually like this horse, he’s a dark, pretty creature but his jockey has only been aboard once and while it’s admirable that he has Freddy Couples as a role model, I’m not sure any of this bodes well for success in the Derby. Dance with your own fate if you choose to wager on this horse.

Vicar’s In Trouble (20/1 M. Maker/R. Napravnik) Good lord, we’re only on horse number 7. Every year, I say I’ll start writing this sleep aid for the insomniacs by April 15th or so and every year I find myself on the eve of Darly Down having written nary a word. Still, we’re having fun right? Wake up! This horse has won 3 of his last 4 starts including a 3.5 length win at the Louisiana Derby. Unfortunately, winning the Louisiana Derby hasn’t been particularly useful historically speaking since no winner of the LA Derby has won the Kentucky Derby since 1996 and it was 72 years before that when it happened again. On top of those bad omens, Vicar’s won when Intense Holiday got his legs tangled up in the home stretch allowing Vicar’s to run to the win. On the karma side of things, if you like historical significance, Rosie Napravnik is one hell of a jockey and it’s only a matter of time before she becomes the first woman to win the Derby. That being said, she’s about to serve a 4 race suspension starting right after the Derby for some shenanigans in a previous race. If I hadn’t already come down hard on Danza as PIG of the year, this horse would be in trouble. In the races that he’s won, he’s been near the lead. In races that he hasn’t won, he’s been around 3rd. He seems to lack the ability to make the decision to move up in the standings as the race progresses. One of the things you look for in a horse is heart, that desire and understanding of the game (these are incredibly smart creatures but some of them understand better than the others) required to sit in the middle of the pack and then decide to kick the rest of the horsies asses. I have significant doubt that Vicar’s has the necessary heart to win the Derby. Look for him to do well in the Belmont. Or not at all.

Wildcat Red (20/1 J. Garoffalo/L. Saez) This horse is what you might call a gamer. He’s fast, more of a sprinter and on Saturday, it will probably turn out that the Derby is a quarter of a mile too long for this horse. Still, he loves to run and will be a pace setter on Saturday. Look for him to get out in front and hope for a reasonably average pace. Wildcat Red came in second by a neck in the Florida Derby to Constitution, a horse that has since been ruled out of the Derby because of a shin fracture. While this horse has won 5 of 7 races, most of them were from the front on shorter distances. It’s fun to watch horses like this, full of heart and desire but in the end, Wildcat Red will pull up short in the God Given talent department, a fact most of us understand all too well. Effort gets you a long way in life but it won’t make you a Kentucky Derby winner.

Ride On Curlin (20/1 G. William/C.Borel) This horse is one of those enigmas. He’s been raced a lot (9 listed races in the Past Performances). He’s won only twice but ran well in the Arkansas Derby to finish second. He looked like he had more to give in the Arkansas but in the prior race, the notes mention that he ran out of gas. Essentially, he’s anybody’s guess which is why he’s going off at 20 to 1. On the plus side, Calvin Borel is riding him which is promising. I really don’t have much else to say about this horse and frankly feel like he might finish up in about 13th place.

Intense Holiday (25/1 T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez) I like this horse and his chances to make someone moderately more wealthy on Saturday. His Past Performances look a lot like Ride On Curlin, a lot of races (8), not many wins (2) and a bad finish in his last race the Louisiana Derby. But if you’ve been reading along (and if you have, god bless you), you remember that he was running well in that race but got his legs tangled up allowing Vicar’s In Trouble to win by 3.5 lengths. Before that race, he was steadily improving including a Beyer of 97 in winning the Risen Star by a nose. He seems to have some heart having come from 7 lengths back in 10th place in the Holy Bull to finish 3rd (albeit by 3.5 lengths). Intense Holiday is a pretty horse in a Derby with no gray horses (I have a bias towards gray horses even though they never win the Derby) and ran the Risen Star, his penultimate prep race as if he has more in the tank. Pletcher is a great trainer and we can’t blame him for Danza’s name. I think Intense Holiday has a real chance in the Derby and would prefer if you didn’t bet on him.

We Miss Artie (33/1 T. Pletcher/J. Castellano) Today, Todd Pletcher said about this horse: “I wasn’t that happy with his effort,” Pletcher said. “I just expected more, and I’m not sure We Miss Artie should be running in the Derby. I’ll talk to and we’ll see.” This is not a good sign. Unlike in other sports where coaches are trying to say as little as possible about their chances, horse trainers are usually effusive in praise of their horses. This horse is another one that hasn’t run much on dirt and doesn’t seem to like it when he does. His fastest Beyer is 89 three races ago. He won the Spiral in an unimpressive performance even though he had favorable conditions (synthetic track,etc, etc). This horse doesn’t belong in the Derby but in an age where just running the race is exceptionally lucrative over the long term, no self-respecting egotistical owner is going to pull a horse. The chances just don’t come around often. Someone has to finish last in the race, look for We Miss Artie to contend for that position.

Chithu (33/1 B.Baffert/M.Garcia) This horse has raced 4 times and is a 33 to 1 longshot trained by one Bob Baffert who as noted early, I love to root against. I have no idea what his name means but Baffert says he’s lazy. This can’t be a good sign. He has won 3 of 4 races but none from farther back than 4th. One word named horses are usually good but this word isn’t inspiring any kind of confidence. Plus I have to root against Baffert horses.

Tapiture (33/1 S. Asmussen/R. Santana Jr.) Honestly, this is going to be one of those years where I don’t write about all the horsies. There are influences beyond my control, mostly Angry Orchard influences but also the influence of writing 600 more words about horses that surely don’t have a chance in hell of winning the Derby. Still, part of me is still scarred by Mine That Bird and Animal Kingdom, two horses that won the Derby as long shots when I didn’t write about them in All The Pretty Horsies. I’m only writing about Tapiture because Steve Asmussen is a Texan and works at Lone Star occasionally. I don’t actually think Tapiture has much chance. However, he does have two Beyer’s approaching 100, a 98 and a 99 in the races prior to the Arkansas Derby where he went far too wide. With a good trip, maybe a post position of 6 or 8, he might have an impact.

And with that, Angry Orchard and the ennui that is the longest of longshots wins out. This is a look at 13 of the horses likely to be in the Kentucky Derby. Place your bets accordingly and remember, The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved but still really fun.


The Not So Hidden Game, 9-25-2013

Good God, it’s literally (and I use that word in the most accurate sense possible) been almost two full years since I’ve written anything about football. This is a travesty (for me, but not necessarily for the reader, of which there literally aren’t any, anymore). So let’s revive The Not So Hidden Game, a semi regular column making fun of everything that’s fun making in the NFL.

Only in Cleveland can a win rate a headline like this Apparently, after winning their first game of the season, the Browns are starting Brian Hoyer at QB this week. I don’t recall the last time a starting QB won the first game of the season for his team and then had to worry about whether he was starting the next week. Did anyone really think there was any chance that Jason Campbell would start? Also, did anyone really think Cleveland had 73,000 fans, much less 73,000 fans that would buy tickets to games? Speaking of Cleveland Browns fans, one remorseful fan will no longer be allowed in the stadium after streaking during a preseason game August 15th. I assume this is what passes for punishment as a Browns fan. I also assume he’s very slow as Joique Bell knocked him down twice before security arrested him and the only thing I thought Joique Bell could knock down was my success rate in fantasy football.

Joe Flacco’s unibrow is clearly in charge. Ray Lewis knows that After Jacoby Jones got hit in the head by a champagne bottle wielded by a stripper, Ray Lewis said the Baltimore Ravens were without leadership this year. Torrey Smith came to the leadership’s defense. Joe Flacco’s unibrow immediately had a press conference to nip such thoughts in the bud. In its comments, it said that after watching Jacoby Jones try to elude tacklers on the field, getting hit in the head by a champagne bottle wielded by a stripper sounded about right. It didn’t signify a lack of leadership but more a lack of ducking talent. In the future, said Joe Flacco’s unibrow, Jacoby Jones will only be allowed to run short curl routes in the strip club so that incidents like this can be avoided.

Papa Smurf Died It’s the internet, what do you expect?


All The Pretty Horsies – A 139th Kentucky Derby Primer

Every year on the first Saturday in May, a gathering of the genteel rich happens in Kentucky at Churchill Downs to attend one of the most fantastic party atmospheres in all of sports followed by two solid minutes of horse racing ecstasy. It is a spectacle unlike any others, a tradition for the past 138 years unparalleled in sports. I run a small office pool for the Derby and this is my attempt to breakdown the 18-20 horses who will be running the Derby on Saturday. In no way should you mistake my small wit and minor humor as actual horse racing experience or understanding. I know only what I read in the week of the Derby and any action on your part based on the words below is mere foolishness. Still, without further ado, All The Pretty Horsies

Nothing past the first paragraph should be taken with the idea I have any idea what the fuck I’m talking about. I have had two glasses of really cheap red wine with a French name that’s probably bottled in Beaumont and the vodka could come out at any moment. So while based on nothing factual, the following tome should a fascinating study in why WordPress should have a built in breathalyzer. Without further ado, on to the stars of the show, those big beautiful horses.

One thing to remember is that it’s quite possible that one or more of the horses below won’t make it into the Derby, either because of injury or the owner’s failure to pay the requisite fees. If you bet on a horse that doesn’t get in, it’s a donation. In 2009, I Want Revenge was the 9-2 favorite and he got scratched on Friday after everyone put their money on him. A word of advice, don’t put all your money on one horse. But then, that goes exactly contrary to one School of Handicapping in another related document so what do I know.

We’ll start with the current favorites and move our way down the list. The horses below are listed from favorites to dogs based on the latest odds found here. Trainer and Jockey follow the odds.

Orb (9/2 C. McGaughey III/J. Rosario) This, ladies and gentlemen, is your 2013 Kentucky Derby opening odds favorite. He won the Florida Derby, a major prep race, coming from several links back in a reasonably slow race to win by 3 going away. This horse is what’s called a closer, a horse that likes to stay back early in the race and then close at the end to win. This works pretty well in lots of races but it’s hard in the Derby because this is the longest these horses have ever run. He has a 97 Beyer as his top speed number, achieved twice in both the Florida Derby and Fountain of Youth. This is a little on the slow side according to the experts but I’ll Have Another had only run a 95 last year in winning the Santa Anita and he won the Derby. Orb is peaking and that’s probably more important than his Beyer. He seems to have the strength to go one and a quarter miles. At these odds, you aren’t getting much value but then, at Darly Downs, you might see something a little closer to 6 to 1 if you play your cards right. I like Orb even though I typically avoid favorites. He’s a big strong horse who will need a little luck as a closer to get there. This horse does get a little jumpy pre-race and the environment around the Derby will be nothing like you’ve ever seen before. If you like your horses to be more like Jimmy Stewart than Lindsey Lohan in the moments before the Derby, you’ll probably be worried about Orb.

Verrazano (9/2 T. Pletcher/J. Velaquez) For much of the year, Verrazano was the favorite amongst the horse racing crowd and he’s still right near the top depending on the source you read. He won the Wood, albeit slowly in a 95 Beyer, but many people in the industry think it was a more impressive win than appearances might seem. He held off two other Derby entrants in Normandy Invasion and Vyjack to win the Wood. He only has 4 starts in his career which means he’s pretty inexperienced coming into the Derby. However, the way he destroyed the fields in his three pre-Wood (heh, I said pre-wood) races and then the way he held off two fine horses to win there seems to show that his inexperience is unlikely to be a problem. However, if you’re looking at history, no horse who wasn’t raced as a 2 year old has won the Derby since Apollo in 1882. And while we’re talking about history and curses and whatnot, in the past 13 years, winning the Wood hasn’t been the best thing a horse can do. Not since Fusaichi Pegasus has a Wood Memorial winner won the Derby. And if you have read that other critical document, The Schools of Handicapping, you know that names are important in horse racing and no ridiculously named horse wins. That is, until Fusaichi Pegasus. So my theory is that the horse racing gods have imparted a curse on the winner of the Wood in retaliation for that ridiculously named horse winning the Derby. He also only seems to like Aqueduct and last time I checked, they don’t run the Derby at Aqueduct. Wager this horse at your own risk and remember my words when he comes in 8th.

Revolutionary (8/1 T. Pletcher/C. Borel) This horse would have had a great deal more value if one Calvin Borel wasn’t his jockey, winner of the 2007, 2009 and 2010 Kentucky Derbies. The public (said as disparagingly as possible with all included irony) loves Borel and that destroys most of the value of his mounts these days. Still, Revolutionary has had some solid races, winning his last three and coming in third to Orb and Freedom Child in the fourth. He won the Louisiana Derby as his main entry stakes to the Derby and the competition there was actually stronger than appearances let on given Departing came back to win the Illinois Derby. I like Revolutionary a little but I like him at somewhere north of 10/1. His fastest Beyer was 102 which is north of acceptable. Expect the public of Darly Downs (said much less disparagingly since I actually like most of you) to be on him heavy though. There will probably be better value elsewhere early.

Goldencents (10/1 D. O’Neill/K. Krigger) Right of the bat, I like Goldencents if only because his name is one word and is second best to Revolutionary right now. However, I have no idea who K. Krigger is and I like my jockeys with some name recognition. He does have a 105 Beyer in his win at Santa Anita but Santa Anita is notoriously fast. He is a pretty horse which is also important if for no other reason than I say so. Alas, after his name and that fancy 105, I don’t see anything here that is particularly promising. The competition in the Santa Anita was sub-par at best and he just happened to run the perfect race. People will bet him but they won’t win any money. Every year I pick a PIG and so far, I’m 4 and 0. I may not be able to pick winners but I know the losers and this horse will be well outside the top 5. Don’t put your money here. Save it for your kid’s college education. Or vocational training. Whatever.

Normandy Invasion (10/1 C.Brown/J. Castellano)Well, now I like Goldencents even less because Normandy Invasion is actually a much cooler name. He came in second at the Wood which is where you want to finish in that race after we’ve identified the Fusachi Pegasus curse. Unfortunately, like the French, Normandy Invasion has never won anything in the way of a graded stake race and those are the important races. Oh he won some races as a 2 year old but nothing this year and thus looks a little weak. Still, he had strength to go hard in the Wood (heh, I said “go hard in the Wood”) and will be a decent value horse given the right circumstances here at Darly Downs.

Itsmyluckyday (12/1 E.Plesa Jr/E. Trujillo) We’re 5 horses into a 20 horse field and we’ve already crossed well past 1300 words. Something is going to have to give and I promise you it will be my desire to write about crappy horses going off at 40 to 1. Still, Itsmyluckyday, a ridiculous name notwithstanding, is worth writing a few words about. He came in second to Orb at the Florida Derby and has two races with Beyer numbers north of 100. He has 10 starts so he’s experiences but he also should be rested with 8 weeks between the Florida and The Holy Bull (yes there’s a horse race called The Holy Bull). This horse is a speed horse. Some of you think that’s good but frankly, at the length of the Derby, I just typically don’t like speed horses. They have a hard time holding that speed for the length of time necessary. Closers with heart are the horses I’m after and I don’t see it here.

Java’s War (15/1 K. McPeek/J. Leparoux)Ok, French jockey notwithstanding, this is my pick from the mid-longshots to win the Derby. I like this horse a lot. He has what’s called heart as evidenced by his second place win at the Tampa Bay Derby which was his first real test on dirt. He handled it admirably. When he won the Blue Grass, he was 14th horse out of 14 after a quarter mile but then rallied to win. He is a closer who won’t have much trouble with the distance at the Derby. The biggest fear I have is that he’s too lazy out of the gate, a tendency of his and that he won’t have the chance to play catch up. The field at the Derby is far stronger than anything he’s been up against. However, this is where having a French jockey comes in handy. Everyone knows the French are all eager and willing at the beginning of things but they tend to fold up early. Leparoux should be able to keep him in contention early and then this horse will take over from there. This is a good horse with good value. Don’t bet him. Please.

Overanalyze (15/1 T. Pletcher/R. Bejarano)This is a good horse to have to write about because God knows that’s what I’m doing with most of these. Things are starting to pick up though, now we’re on horse 8. On the upside, I’m still writing. On the downside, no one is still reading. This horse isn’t going to win the Derby. On the upside, lots of people are going to think that and not put any of their hard earned $30 on him. He’s likely to have 20/1 odds at some point over the next few days at Darly Downs but seriously, he’s not going to win. I pick him to finish 11th. Which means exactly nothing.

Vyjack (15/1 R. Rodriguez/G. Gomez)This horse, unlike other one named horses in this field, might have a chance at the Derby. He’s not afraid of having some dirt kicked in his face which is important. He likes to make one run at the lead from off the pace so it’s going to be up to his jockey to hold him off for the exact right moment. Garrett Gomez can do that. I like Vyjack especially north of 15 to 1 or so which we’ll be able to get here at Darly Downs. He doesn’t have much in the way of Beyer times but again, I’ll Have Another didn’t either last year and won the Derby. I like Vyjack, especially in an exacta box with a couple of the favorites up the page a little.

Palace Malice (20/1 T. Pletcher/M. Smith)Sigh. This is a ridiculous horse name. He will not win the Derby. Todd Pletcher has at least 3 other horses in this race that are actually talented and thus could not have spent much time training Palace Malice. Of course, jockey Mike Smith rode Giacomo to victory in 2005 which was a big upset so it’s hard to write him off entirely. However, Palace Malice hasn’t run on dirt yet and while Street Sense and Animal Kingdom won the Derby going synthetic to dirt, I just don’t see it here. Just because two horses in the past 8 years have done it doesn’t make it a trend. In the Derby, on dirt, horses have to be OK with getting mud kicked in their face and like some humans, some horses just aren’t up to it. With a name like this, I can’t imagine Palace Malice is that kind of horse.

Will Take Charge (20/1 D. Wayne Lukas/J. Court)This horse is off the charts inconsistent. If he was a movie star, he’d be anti-Dustin Hoffman. Does that make him Mathew McConaughey? I don’t know. Still, he’s a very pretty horse and he seems to have the heart to win the Derby. D. Wayne Lukas will have him trained well and ready. The question is, can he put two good races together back to back? He last raced in the Rebel and won that race with a 95 Beyer, a solid time in a last race before the Derby. Still, he hasn’t shown any interest in racing two in a row so betting him to win is an exercise in belief that there is a horse racing god out there that owes you one. Good luck with that but at 20 to 1, don’t think I won’t be sidling up to the window with a few of my dollars right along with you.

Charming Kitten (20/1 T. Pletcher/Undecided)Yup, this is the fifth horse trained by one Todd Pletcher in this race which has to be some kind of record. On top of that, as of Tuesday at 10 PM, the jockey for this horse is still undecided. If you think that’s a good thing, you probably also think Caddyshack 2 was a good movie. Save your dollars, this horse isn’t going to win anything. Do you really think a horse named “Kitten” is going to win the Derby? On the upside, he does seem to be an overachiever and might be worth throwing into a trifecta box with some favorites as long as I’m not chosen as his jockey which as of right now, is still possible.

Frac Daddy (30/1 K. McPeek/V. Lebron)This is the son of Scat Daddy and apparently his owners were linguistically challenged because P Daddy was certainly still available. Also, his jockey is not LeBron James even though you might think that would be the best thing to happen to the Derby since Secretariat. You can put some money here if you want and hope for an Animal Kingdom-Mine That Bird kind of result but there is nothing that says “loser” like a stupid name and zero wins in stakes races. His only >90 Beyer came last year as a two year old. This is a last place horse waiting to happen.

Lines of Battle (30/1 A. O’Brien/R. Moore)I’ve switched to shitty white wine at this point because there is no more alcohol in the house so buyer beware on all future advice. As if the previous 2400 words were any different. OK, for those of you who really like longshots, this is your horse. Let’s talk why he’s a longshot. First of all, he trained in the UAE and hasn’t beaten a horse of note yet. He hasn’t run on dirt. His best Beyer is 74 (this doesn’t really matter because foreign horses are judged differently but still). Why he might win? He won the UAE Derby at 1 mile and 3/16ths, nearly the distance of the Derby. He’s super pretty. He has both speed and stamina. Marcus Hersh, a writer for the DRF which means he’s only slightly more trained for this than I am, thinks this colt has potential to win the Derby. You’re going to get a ton of value with this horse. Hey, it’s your money, do what you want.

Mylute (30/1 T. Amoss/R. Napravnik)The son of Midnight Lute (seriously, who the fuck names these horses? Even if you have to pay homage to the sire, couldn’t you have named this horse Pan’s Lute? Or Pirate’s Lute? I mean, c’mon they aren’t even trying), Mylute isn’t going to win the Derby. And we only pay winners here at Darly Downs so betting this horse is like buying drinks for a 21 year old stripper. It’s just throwing money away. The only thing going for this horse is the female jockey which would be a first for the Derby were she to win. He’s a pretty horse and you’re going to get a ton of value but I just don’t see it happening.

Oxbow (30/1 D. Wayne Lukas/G. Stevens)Now if you really like long shots here’s your value horse. This horse is a little confusing but he’s trained by one of the best ever at distance races and he has a jockey with a proven pedigree at the Derby. My guess is this horse is a big underlay at Darly Downs if anyone is reading this far. Hopefully they aren’t because I’m going to put a couple of shekels on this horse and cross my fingers. Might throw him in a box of some sort on Saturday as well. He’s big and pretty and seems to have some level of heart that hasn’t been measured in the races he’s been in yet. He likes dirt, he likes Churchill and if it’s a quick track on Saturday, I like his chances for the top three. A winner? I don’t know but you never can tell these days at the Derby.

Black Onyx (50/1 K. Breen/J.Bravo) Not happening. Trust me, just not happening. This is one of those horses who doesn’t like dirt.

Falling Sky (50/1 J. Terranova 2nd/L. Saez) I have no idea who any of these people are but at a rapidly approaching 3000 word blog post, I don’t really have the ability to figure it out. This horse isn’t going to win the Derby, Game of Thrones name notwithstanding (the third use of that word here, clearly overvalued). This is a speed horse and speed horses don’t tend to win the Derby. Maybe he gets a good gate position but not even that can make up for no talent. He’s not going to get there.

There you have, the main contenders in the 2013 139th running of the Kentucky Derby.


Dirty Martini: A Mad Men Conversation – The Collaborators


Welcome back, albeit a week late! The 2-hour premier left me scratching my head and time ran out to have a meaningful discussion as I too had to pose for pictures on my newly crafted staircase to the 2nd floor of offices. So I say we forgo any analysis of the 2 hour hairapalooza that was “The Doorway” and move on to “The Collaborators.”

Jon Hamm is really coming in to his own as a director. After the initial credit I completely forgot he was in charge, unlike his directorial debut with “Tea Leaves” last season where his absence maligned that he was behind the camera. This episode saw some great performances and the camera angles played a key role in allowing access into the characters without them having to say a word. (I am thinking of the long shot of Trudy Campbell the morning after, the keyhole flashback in the whore house and the distance shot of Don Draper walking in on an upset Megan and unreadable Sylvia Rosen.)

So on to the story. We open with Pete giving away digits to both neighbors’ wives which shows that Pete is still lecherous and, unlike Don, is merely out to rack up notches on his belt. While Trudy plays dimwitted with the other husbands (although I think she is aware of what they are doing), Pete may as well be wearing a shirt that says “I have an apartment in Manhattan.” He will never be as good as Don is at this because Don usually likes the person he fools around with, whereas Pete sees a willing (or not so willing) girl that he can take advantage of. Later in the show, we have contrasting moments when all three players (Husband, wife, mistress) are in the same room where Pete does not know what to do and Don plays it cool. Is it because Don has done this more and has had more practice? No, it comes down to knowing what you are getting into, which can be evidenced with the very first episode of the very first season. Don loves Midge and needs her for sanity. Pete bagged Peggy after his bachelor party because she was new and probably wouldn’t know any better. If Don showed up at Midge’s and she wasn’t there, he would have just gone home. If Peggy didn’t fall to Pete’s boozy charm he would have found someone else that night.

So let’s do some highlights:

Can we assume that the slime-ball Jaguar dealer has made several trips to SCDP offices and popped in on Joan? I cannot imagine Joan being as rude to him as we saw last night unless he had pulled this drop-by move several times before.

Ted Chaough was absolutely right to press Peggy to go after Heinz ketchup. That is a big get and Peggy needs to acknowledge that this is “advertising” and that is how the game is played. Stan will get over it.

If Dr. Rosen can be called away at a moment’s notice, couldn’t he also come home unexpectedly? Don seems to be very cavalier in his philandering schedule. What is Dr. Rosen got to the hospital and the surgery goes quicker than expected?

I’ve asked it before but I need to ask it again. Wouldn’t Don’s wife smell the other woman on him after coming home from a tryst? We do not even have the luxury of a cab ride or a train ride home to diffuse the scent. He is literally going up one level and popping in the door.

So give me some feedback Gillian, and I especially want to know one thing. Do you like Trudy more or less when she said that she allowed him the apartment for discretionary purposes?

Maybe we should try flyers…



Alex, Alex,

I fear that my commitment to commenting on this show has hit a new wall. While Mad Men gets dark; this season seems to be the darkest yet. The prospect of rethinking about the episode is kind of like forcing yourself to think about Leaving Las Vegas when your are inPrincess Bride mode. Ugh.

I’ll just try to address your comments and see where it sends me. I honestly feel as if I could write 10 pages on each episode. Like last year, though, they make writing it much easier by continuing to SCREAM the episodes themes at you. Just a Gigolo for the end? Ridiculous,

Jon Hamm is a good director. I don’t have the trained eye to catch some of the technical things that you point out, but I definitely like it.

Personally, I loved the fact that there was nary a trace of the newly brunette Betty in this episode, but I am looking forward to one with a bit more Joan…I suspect next week.

Pete is his usual disgusting self. I thought that first scene was heading down the path of the mythical 70’s key parties. There was way too much inappropriate behavior between six people who were neighbors. Discussions of sex scenes in Hair, passing of phone numbers, offering a “hot dog” is they make it into Manhattan. Pete is truly delusional that he really seems to think he is as suave as Don, but he continually proves that he’s a horny teenage that just takes advantage of childlike and dreamy-eyed girls rather than choosing women that will keep their mouth shut. Not only do I think Don has had more practice, but I also think he truly gets other people. He sees what makes them tick. This makes him extremely good at both his job and seduction. He instantly knew how to turn Sylvia’s guilt and anger into a completely sexy scenario that had her ordering for him (loved that) and speeding up dinner to get to dessert. Because Don knows he has the ability to pretty much manipulate anyone into doing what he wants, he can be pickier about who he works his magic on. Pete is full of insecurities, so when he sees someone throw themselves at him, which Brenda certainly does, he just takes advantage in case it doesn’t happen again. In other words, I’m pretty sure Pete picked Peggy that night because he knew his position and her naiveté would guarantee she would hook up. I’m not sure he had many other options unless he was willing to pay.

There was a part of me in this episode that truly felt that while Pete stupidly and narcissistic-ally imploded, Don is about to do the same. There is the parallel of them both choosing a neighbor to have a fling with, and as smart as Don is, he takes huge chances with Sylvia. I thought this last week. How is it that he went down for “smokes” and to help his Dr. friend find ski’s and in the meantime his wife just goes to bed while he hooks up with the Dr.’s wife right downstairs? Then just wanders up and crawls in bed with his wife. This week he is heading back upstairs for a little pre-work mattress dancing. Wouldn’t there be a huge chance he could meet Megan heading downstairs when she left for work? I guess we could assume she has left for the day…and I agree that Dr. Rosen could come back any minute. Then he is stopping by while Dr. Rosen is home. “Taking out the trash” indeed. And yes, the “he would smell like her and sex” thing has been bothering me. Last week he crawls in bed with Megan and this week he finds her awake and still has the cuddle fest after the miscarriage talk. He had to smell like another woman and if he didn’t he would smell like a fresh shower, which would be equally weird.

I’m thinking that possibly Megan, like Trudy, knows that Don make be stepping out, but doesn’t think that Don would be stupid enough to do so with a neighbor. I’ve never understood it, but some women even now, seem to just accept infidelity as part of the money/social acceptance/family thing. The part of the contract you can’t mess up on though is the public humiliation part. Loved the Trudy scene at the end! Megan will not want to be made a fool of.

I also found it interesting that while Don was being loyal to Joan and stating that SCDP should “dance with the one who brought you” at work he was trying so hard to ruin his personal life. He doesn’t seem to be able to do the right thing at the same time in both aspects. Loved the Jaguar meeting scene, BTW.

Peggy is thoroughly intriguing to me this year. Chaough manipulates the heck out of her. He is to her at this new firm what Don was to pretty much everyone but her at SCDP. I hate that she ever told Ted about her conversation with Stan; she needs to get rid of her little girl guilt of taking a personal call at the office at what was clearly after hours…frankly with the hours she keeps, she should be able to take a personal call anytime she wants. As she told him, I knew exactly what was coming next. There was no way he was going to let that bit of information get by him. I think Stan will be pissed if he is held responsible by anyone at SCDP, but ultimately they do work for competing firms. I also doubt very seriously that Ted’s firm could not have found out there was trouble in any number of other ways. It doesn’t have to be that Stan leaked it….even if it did give them a head start. I love that Peggy listened to her secretary and tried to be nice even though she does think her team’s work is lazy. Them calling her “coach” cracked me up. She was trying, but failed pretty miserably.

Other notes on this episode:

  • Lots of Catholic guilt moments with Peggy, Sylvia, Megan
  • I assume that the Jaguar guy has been a complete bore to Joan for quite some time. The price she paid last year for her financial security will haunt her for a long while. I am a bit surprised that she was so openly condescending to him. But loved the fact that she just stormed into Don’s office and made herself a drink.
  • Loving the separate office spouses Peggy and Stan. How cute are their phone conversations?
  • I’m tired of the flashbacks to a kid that looks absolutely NOTHING like Don would have as a kid. Casting did a really awful job there.
  • The flashbacks are also a bit heavy handed in that we already knew everything that they “flashback” to last night. He mentioned last season (or maybe the one before) that he grew up in a whorehouse. It clearly explains that he has witnessed adults living double lives his entire life. He is also constantly looking for a mother figure….we get it. Oh, and that’s probably how he got so good at reading and manipulating people. I would imagine that whores are pretty good at that and he got to see a lot of it (directly and through key holes I assume)
  • I’ve decided that the Bob Benson guy is kind of Greek Chorus right now. If we didn’t understand the symbolism or meaning, he is there to explain it to us. Not sure where they are going with him, but he is an odd presence.

That’s all I’ve got for the moment.

I really have to get back. Can you move along a little?




The “dance with the one that brought you” line was clearly a lesson learned from the Mohawk/American Airlines catastrophe that occurred while at Sterling Cooper. Don was the one that had to tell the Mohawk representative that they were dropping them and no one else was in the bar to feel what Don felt. Don has a loyalty to good customers whereas most people just see the numbers. Heinz baked beans is a good client and he knows that. Jaguar on the other hand is tainted goods. SCDP (sans Draper) landed them with a high priced Joan and I think Don is still upset whenever Jaguar finds its way to his desk. The look he gave Joan when she came into to make herself a drink was not one of understanding but a look of disdain. Remember when Don and Joan went and had drinks at the bar after they test drove the Jag? You and I both agreed that they shared an understanding about life which is why they have never slept together but deeply respected each other. I doubt they have gone for after work drinks since then.

To rehash the Pete story line a little more, you have to wonder if it is Pete that is the man that will eventually be falling in the opening credits. The Campbell household is rickety at best. I have a suspicion that Trudy will not have enough guts to end their marriage. I think how things appear matter much more than whether or not she is in love.

Good things are coming for Peggy. When we talked this summer we were both fearful that all we would see of Elisabeth Moss would be the occasional drop in, kind of like Betty. But so far we have been treated to lots of Peggy working, which is how I always enjoyed seeing her. And yes, Peggy’s attempt at rallying the troops was brilliant.

I left a present for you on your desk.




Wow! You really think Don now looks down on Joan? I guess that is a possibility, but with his background and history it would be supremely hypocritical and I seriously doubt it. As far as I knew they never went for a drink after work before her office meltdown, so I really never thought of them as socializing much anyway. Probably because knowing who they each are they know they would have ended up in bed together eventually. I do think he hates it every time he has to deal with the Jaguar account, but it’s because the firm sold its soul (and Joan’s body) to get it…and he would feel better if he knew they got it on pure talent. But that is my point, he holds the behavior of his firm to a higher standard than he does his personal behavior.

Regarding the opening sequence, I really think that the falling man has to be Don. You have pointed out numerous times that he is the main protagonist and I think you are right. To have the falling man be a peripheral and mostly despicable and unsympathetic character seems off. I’m still not convinced that anyone will ever actually fall out of a window/off a roof in this show. This show is usually too creative to go back to the well for another suicide after Lane.

I also find it interesting that you said Trudy wouldn’t have enough “guts” to end the marriage. I think she has tons of “guts.” I think, as she said, that she doesn’t want to be perceived as a failure (you are right about appearances) and that staying married to him will cause him more suffering that if she gave him a divorce. If she is lucky she will find someone much better than Pete and then dump him. I’m not sure if I answered your question about Trudy in your first email, but no, I don’t respect her more for allowing Pete an apartment for discretionary purposes, but I kind of understand her for it. It was kind of backhanded power thing to say that she “allowed” him to do it. It drives me crazy when women or men say that they “allow” their spouse to do something. She is a rich girl that is used to getting her way and having a certain status. She, unfortunately, married a child so she treats him like one.

There is nothing like things going badly when you leave, is there?

– Gillian


Dirty Martini: A Mad Men Conversation – The Phantom

Good Morning Gillian,

Before I start my analysis on the season 5 closer, I want to take a brief moment to discuss the season ending episodes from other years.

Season 1 – The Wheel: Probably one of the best episodes of Mad Men ever, we see Don develop, on his own, the creative pitch for Kodak’s new product, which he himself dubs the Carousel. Don also seems to find his place at Sterling Cooper and has revelations about his family and thinks about the good times with Betty.

Season 2 – Meditations in an Emergency: Don returns from California to a pregnant Betty. The Cuban Missile Crisis serves as a backdrop to the goings on at Sterling Cooper as they prepare for a possible merger.

Season 3 – Shut the Door, Have a Seat: The wonderful and spirited end to season 3 has Sterling, Cooper and Draper talking to Lane Pryce about firing them so that they can all start their own ad agency. The audience is left with the new agency making their way in a hotel room while Don takes a call in the adjacent bedroom and tells Betty he understands about the divorce.

Season 4 – Tomorrowland: Don’s trip to California with his kids and his secretary Megan leads to a closing moment reveal of Don telling everyone at SCDP that he is getting married.

Most of those were great episodes and all of them felt like perfect endings to the season. Last night’s episode doesn’t really work for me as a season-ender. Was it a good episode? Yes, absolutely. Did it put a bow on the season? No, it still feels like they should have ended on last week’s show or we need one more show after this. I’m not sure which. But this is a minor complaint. On to the nitpicking!

Last night’s show was called “The Phantom” and as in classic Weineresque style we have more than one meaning. Don sees his dead brother Adam in several places throughout the episode, Pete’s mistress (Alexis Bledel did a much better job last night) loses her memories and Lane Pryce still finds a way to haunt the proceedings when an insurance check shows up; phantoms all! There is not much need to delve too deeply into Don’s misled visions. He feels guilty about Lane’s suicide by hanging and this manifests itself through images of his brother that hung himself in Season 1. The interesting thing about Don last night was the “hot tooth.” I love when writers do this. Give a character an everyday annoyance that affects his interactions with other people. His actions with his drunk wife may have been very different had he been in less pain. Don also had a very “Carousel” moment when he watched his wife’s reel (notice she went by Calvet) and either saw all the things he liked about her or all the things that have changed. You are absolutely correct in past discussions that Megan has manipulated her way into a lifestyle and I don’t think it matters who the husband is, she just wants what she wants. Only her mother was able to call her out on it (and in French no less!) So it makes sense that Don, probably hopped-up on a few pain pills from the tooth extraction earlier, just might answer “yes, I am alone” to the strange girl at the bar at the end. His life will never be idyllic, so why not live like there is no tomorrow.

I am handing it over to you. So many good things to discuss.

Why does everybody want redheads?



Hi Alex.

Last night I didn’t think a whole lot of the season-ender either, but upon further musings I actually kind of like it. The whole season has been full of pretty unexpected and shocking moments, Zou Bisou Bisou, Raper Dr. not being killed in Vietnam and Joan kicking him out, Roger’s LSD trip, Joan prostituting herself for a partnership position, Megan deciding to pursue acting, Fat Betty, Peggy leaving, Lane’s suicide…just so many. I think this episode did a good job of wrapping up an odd season. In particular, I think Don did a 180 in last night’s episode and will return to the self-loathing, womanizing, but successful Don of season 1.

This whole season we have seen a Don that was seemingly transformed by his love for Megan. He was feeling better about himself even as he did less and less work, but his overlying adoration of her really seemed to change him. I think the overriding Phantom of last night’s episode was Megan and his marriage. He realized watching Megan’s screen test that she is nothing more than an actress and the smiles, tears, pouts, and adoring looks he saw on her face in the screen test made him realize that those same looks aimed at him were nothing more than her acting. I think until last night he also truly believed her when she said she was an “artist.” That she was interested in films, theater, “true acting,” not commercial success. By her wanting that role in a commercial she revealed herself to simply wanting attention and fame. She was not the artist she claimed to be. Her poor mother even insulted her about it. If he’d only realized Megan was backstabbing a friend also. Her continued manipulation of him by crying, getting drunk, etc; he suddenly saw through it all watching her in that test.

Of course, that followed his phantom brother telling him that it was more than Don’s tooth that was rotten and Lane’s widow reiterating that he is only acting in his own self interest and that she does blame him/SCDP for Lane’s suicide. He obviously had been beating himself up over that already.  His movie house meeting with Peggy also made him realize that the people he helps move on without him…and that they are pretty happy and successful having moved on. Believing that to be the case and thinking of himself as incredibly flawed and not worth a happy life, I think he set up Megan’s role as a way out. He now believes she will move on without him and will be better off for it. It’s an improvement for him that he didn’t want to see Megan hurt, but did realize that if she went down this path she would eventually leave him. The scene at the end where Megan is on the bright and shiny commercial set while he walks off into the darkness to the sounds of You Only Live Twice was beautiful and as the trend has been this season, a bit heavy handed. A little Casablanca maybe? I think it was Don going back to his dark self leaving his manipulative wife to bask in the glow of her falseness as an actress. 

I also believe he told that girl (she was Megan’s friend wasn’t she?) that he was alone and I don’t think it had anything to do with painkillers. For him to have gotten Megan that role and them be shooting it, it had to be at least a month past when he had that tooth extracted. The date on that screen test was March 20, I believe and she said it was done a week earlier that this episode started. The Bond movie that this song is from came out in June 1967…so I’m thinking the bar scene happened at least in June.

I’ve been trying to figure out the tone difference in this season and wanted to toss some ideas around. In past seasons these characters were very flawed, but I don’t think they were very self aware. This season seemed to have a lot of these characters figuring out who they really were. Not hiding behind propriety as much and openly discussing who they are in all their flaws. Megan knew everything about Don’s past, Joan acknowledges that she uses her sexuality to get what she needs out of life, Roger takes LSD to find out more about himself, Pete spends all season openly pouting like a child and finally realizes that his family is a “temporary bandage on a permanent wound,” Lane knows and can’t deal with who he really is, and Peggy openly embraces her independence and success; no longer trying to reconcile society’s expectations of what she should do with what she is good at. Maybe the heavy-handedness I sensed in so many of these scenes is simply a reflection of these people’s lives becoming more open, less filled with the decorum and artifice of the early 60s. I would love to hear your thoughts.

I’m not going to waste my time on Pete. I keep looking for an endearing quality to not make me simply hate him, but I can’t find it.

Peggy seems to be in a good place. I guess they are setting her up for having come up with “You’ve come a long way, baby.” for Virginia Slims. If so, she will be the toast of Madison Avenue next season. Of course, she will now be addicted to smoking and die early of lung cancer.

Joan seems to be growing in her role as partner. She spent much of the episode clearly seeing the phantom of Lane everywhere, but by the end she was standing tall with the partners looking at their future together. No matter how she got it, that is where she has belonged since they started that agency.

Roger may be the only old man that actually isn’t “old-fashioned.” I don’t know much about LSD, but Roger seems to be figuring out how to remain in touch with the youth of the later 60s. Maybe he will try a nudist colony…

Back to you…it’s tough having this artistic temperament without being an artist.




I’m starting to rethink what is going on here. For most TV shows, Hollywood and advertisers being the way they are, a lot of effort goes into making a season a product in itself. Season 1 stands on its own and is perfectly fulfilling as a piece of cinematic art without any other seasons. Season 2 works the same, but if you get into season 3, you would need to know what has happened in the previous seasons. I think Weiner and Co. is creating a broader stroke on canvas than we are use to. Instead of having this season button up as do all the others, we are instead treated to a different ending, a prolonged breath of interest.

Let’s talk the end scene. I would tend to agree with you that the girl who approaches Don at the end looked like Megan’s friend but I can’t be sure. But I will disagree on the timeline. You have made 2 arguments for why you think it is much later than I do. One being that “You Only Live Twice” the movie did not come out until June 2007. On that note, the song could easily have been out earlier than that (it was not unusual for a film to be promoted by song play on the radio) and, let’s not forget, the producers of the show have used music out of time period before. The other timeline issue comes from how long it takes to go from finding a model/actress to shooting a campaign. I think we are looking closer to a week than a month. Most of the time, everything is working in tandem. The sets and costume will not change just because of the girl. Do you remember when Betty did the Coca-Cola ad (they wanted a Grace Kelly type)? She went from an audition to a shoot in about 3 days. I am only bringing this up because I do not think Don would go 3 months of living with an unhappy Megan. But I agree with you ultimately that I think he does sleep with the girl (maybe both) and will be back to his old ways in no time.

On to your questions:

Pete: Let’s not give up on Pete just yet. I have a genuine dislike for him but what is going to hurt him in the long run is that he is not a smooth operator in the lies and deceit department like Don and Roger. We now know that Beth Dawes has had affairs before and suffered electric shock treatments for it in the past. But the funny thing is, she wants nothing to do with Pete after their first encounter. If that had been Roger or Don, then good enough, another notch on the belt and moving on. Pete on the other hand calls her, shows up to her house unannounced, and even plans an interlude at a downtown hotel. When given the chance to be smooth he usually ends up almost getting caught. If he had any brains whatsoever, he never would have confronted Howard Dawes with his knowledge of where she actually was. What is to stop Howard from calling Trudy and telling her what Pete has done? No, I think Pete is primed for a fall.

Peggy: Can someone hit me over the head please? Hey Peggy, here are these new SLIM cigarettes for women. We need you to come up with a name. By the way, you are flying to VIRGINIA next week. Good luck with all that! But I did like the encounter with Don in the movie theatre. It was nice to see her.

Joan: I agree with you on Joan. No comments to add.

Roger: I disagree that he is remaining in touch with the youth of the later 60’s because he has taken LSD twice now; rather I think he has lost his way and he is just going through some escapism. It would not surprise me at all if they gave him a Barbiturate problem in Season 6 and he was out of his head most of the time.

I want to talk briefly about where I think things will go and what will happen in the next season.

Season 6 will start in the fall of 1967. Don will be womanizing, Pete will have his apartment, and Bert and Roger will be relegated to the new upstairs offices. I want to see more of Stan and less of Ginsberg, I want frequent run-ins from Peggy and I hope we can go without Betty as much as humanely possible. What are your hopes and dreams?

This is my last post until next year so I want to say that it has been a load of fun doing this with you!




Personally I believe that the whole show is the story. I never would have considered any one season its own piece of art…despite their individual beauty. I, of course, don’t know as much about the inner workings of TV shows as you, but I always like to think that writers have a whole story they wish to tell. It’s just broken up over seasons to allow rest for cast and crew and to build anticipation for viewers…benefiting advertisers and networks. A really good TV show, in my mind, should resemble a really good novel. I never expect a good novelist to just make is up chapter by chapter; why would I expect TV writers to do so. But then again…there is CSI, Grey’s Anatomy and the like so maybe my expectations of TV writers are too high.

You did a much better job with Pete than I did. My happy place…seeing him punched in the face twice in one hour! I think you may be right about his affair getting ousted by than slime-ball Howard.

And Roger could go either way. I don’t know much about LSD or whether it’s addictive, but you have to wonder if his heart can take it. He wasn’t the healthiest guys around for quite a while.

Regarding next season, I think I stink at guessing what Weiner will do, but hopefully we will see more of Peggy and part of her success or potential loss of Virginia Slims. I found this really fascinating piece that explains the process the company used to come up with the Virginia Slims’ “You’ve come a long way, baby” campaign back in 1968. The cigarette came out in the summer of 1968, so maybe starting the season in early 1968 would make sense. SCDP will need to have moved into the new space and hopefully Joan will have an office with a window. Guessing that next season Don and Megan might still be married, but she will be off pursuing her career and not home much. Don will be back to his philandering way and I think she will too with casting couches being what they are. She did say that she was determined not to fail and she already slept with one guy to get a role. Yes, Pete will have his apartment and Trudy will hopefully find her own fun in the suburbs. Joan will hopefully have moved into a slightly larger apt; probably still with her mom, and she will find some new, more mod clothing. Although her body type is just made for those 50s silhouettes, it is making her look a bit old.

I also have enjoyed our Monday email exchanges. Now if only I can get you to start watching ‘Treme. In the meantime, I’ve used up all the French I know.



Dirty Martini: A Mad Men Conversation – The Other Woman


Did you see that coming? What the hell is going on at SCDP? Mad Men has become exciting again!

Are there really people like Pete Campbell out there? Please tell me this is just gross hyperbole on the writers’ part.  I cannot imagine any person I know being able to approach another person like the way Pete approached Joan. That was just gross. And to make matters worse Lane goes in and tells her that  she shouldn’t be a whore for the company but that if she was going to be a whore then she needs to ask for more money. And even though Roger hedged a little in the meeting, he didn’t put a stop to it. Even Bert was along for the ride! The only person who found this disgusting was Don, not once but twice. The first time he thinks he kills the idea in the room and once he finds out he hasn’t he immediately stops what he is doing and goes to find Joan. The scene at the bar last week actually makes a lot more sense now. Don actually likes and respects Joan and does not see her as a commodity like every other partner does. Now to be fair, Joan could have said no at any time. Can I still feel bad that Don didn’t get to her in time, or do you think she would have done it anyway? Also, isn’t this a slippery slope? What is to stop Mr. Slimy Car Salesman from threatening to pull their business in a year if Joan doesn’t do it again?

The other big story line was Peggy. Why is Don throwing money in her face? Why is he upset? Ginsberg must be really good at his job to outshine Peggy even when Peggy comes through with the win. I get why she is leaving, I just never, ever thought it would happen. But of course I thought the same of Joan and while she was gone for several episodes, she eventually did come back. And I’ll end with this. Don kissing Peggy’s hand was one of the most beautifully heartbreaking scenes I have ever seen on film. It is jarring how beautiful that moment was.

I think I need a chocolate shake.




I didn’t see that coming and I’m absolutely amazed that Pete, Lane, Roger, and Bert seemed to have no real issue with pimping out Joan.  They have lost their souls.  But then, what price would you pay for the mistress prestige?  Like a Jaguar they, in fact, can own Joan because she is worried about the future of Kevin.  I try hard to recognize that this show is set in a different time and era, but the steady stream of women as things you own/wish to own in this episode came to a peak of disgust for me.

Yes, Pete is a completely reprehensible human being who is now just a caricature villain.  It made my skin crawl the way he told her that she would need to come up with a way to tell the troops that we won’t be getting Jaguar.  All because Joan won’t sleep with the disgusting pervert that owns a lot of dealerships.  Not only is Pete morally bankrupt enough to bring up the conversation and proposal to Joan, he isn’t even discreet enough to keep it between the two of them.  He takes the indecent proposal to his fellow partners, of which Don is the only one with enough sense to think that the issue was beneath them to even discuss.  The soulless way that they all discussed it just made my skin crawl.  Discussing what they could offer her.  Roger saying that he wouldn’t stop it but wouldn’t pay for it.  This is a woman he had a long term affair with, the mother of his child. Bert simply saying to tell her she can still say no.  Do you think that would be easy for Joan to say no given that now all the partners know about the offer?  She says no and they don’t get the account.  She would know that they all knew about it and possibly blame her.  Pete put her in an unbelievably difficult position.  I hope that Joan herself pushes Pete out of the window for that slow fall one of these days.

Joan’s reaction to all of this is so difficult to summarize and figure out.  She is used to this type of thing.  Over the years we have seen it happen to her many times.  She uses her looks and overt sexiness it to her advantage, but has a charming way of making men still feel good about themselves without actually sleeping with them.  In this case the dealer is such an ass that he can’t even ask her out himself.  He is going to use his business clout to get a woman that he otherwise has to know that he would never stand a chance with.  Joan doesn’t get a chance to get out of this coyly and make him feel good.  From a man’s perspective, would he actually feel good bedding a woman that is only there because he threatened her bosses?  I’ve never understood that type of motivation behind a man sleeping with hookers etc…  If they are for sale, why do men want them?  From a man’s frame of mind are woman truly no different than a car?

Weirdly I really do understand and kind of agree with the reasons Joan slept with him.  She has worked for the company for 13 years as Don pointed out.  They would never have been able to leave the original Sterling Cooper without her help.  And I mean NEVER.  For all of this they never even considered making her a partner on her own merits.  Hell, she slept with Roger for years and he couldn’t even see a way to make her anything more than a well titled employee that made less than $12,500 a year.   I don’t think it ever dawn on Roger.  She was just a woman.  As an administrator and a woman she knew she wasn’t ever going to get the pay or prestige that even Peggy got as a copywriter or as an accounts person.  She is about to be a single mom with no additional source of support – barring taking money offered to her by Roger.  Lane was an unmitigated jerk for walking in and letting her know the amount that was discussed and then selfishly putting a much better idea into her head to save his sorry ass, but the partnership route really did make sense.  I just cannot imagine being partners with 5 other men that know that she prostituted herself in order to join their group – and that all but one were on board with it.  While intellectually we know they are implicit and should treat her honorably we know that they will not.  Despite his protestations that whoring herself out will make her a queen, I can’t wait for the partner’s meeting that gets heated and Pete calls her a whore…you know it will happen.  I hope that she doesn’t find it increasingly difficult to maintain the Cleopatra-like regalness she did in those final scenes with her new partners.  Regarding your question, if Don had gotten there in time, I hope that she would have told Don that she was considering doing it for security and that if he wanted to really mean what he said, she wanted another way to get into the partnership because she deserved it.  Hopefully Don would put his money where his heart was and see that it happened…but I doubt it.

But then we have poor Peggy.  They woman has been taking it in the chin all season.  Don has clearly been taking her for granted.  Even more so than a wife, she is the Buick in the garage that Megan refers to.  She is reliable and gets the job done.  While I recognize it is because he truly does trust and believe in her, she wants more recognition and prestige.  Buicks want to be longed for as well, I guess.  In this episode alone her indignities were numerous; not being included on the Jaguar pitch, missing out on the lobster from the Palm (yuck), having Don throw money at her because he’s in a crabby mood rather than telling her she rocked for saving that account, finding it necessary to lie to Rumsfeld about her involvement in Jaguar.  All while the group of overgrown frat boys sat in a conference room and ruminated on the way a car was similar to a mistress.  These were the guys who were going to get the glory, while she is busy saving accounts and otherwise running the show. I am worried that she is making an emotional decision.  There is no guarantee that the sexism she has experienced at SCDP will be any less at the new place and she won’t have a true friend like Don to rely on.  Maybe that’s good for her and she will grow, but I’m worried too.  Chaough openly said that everyone else at the firm will want to know whether she is married and when she will be having kids.  He acted like he was above it as a play to her ego, but I don’t buy it.  The Clearasil guy’s voice was in his head and he knew he wanted to hire her to make him happy.  I did find it fascinating that while Rumsfeld is telling her she should go, “because that’s what Don would do,” he is openly saying that he will be applying for her job.  She should have suspected he did not have her best interests at heart there.  

Peggy’s final conversation with Don was beautiful and heart-wrenching.  His ego was getting in the way most of the time, but that was to be expected by the audience and Peggy. After his devastation about Joan, I think he couldn’t even grasp that Peggy would really be leaving.  He saw it as a negotiation and then, realizing his mistake, just got angry.  All until he kissed her hand.  Oh, my.  What a scene.  I tear up writing about it.  She literally had to pull her hand away.  I think I gasped.

Quick additional comments:

  • I tried to discuss Megan, but she bores me.  Along the same lines of this theme of objectification, I loved the assessment of her body that the playwrights made her endure.  She likes to act like she is so knowledgeable about the acting profession, but clearly felt uncomfortable being looked at like a piece of meat.   I also loved Don coming home late and immediately assuming that she was waiting up for him.  Ha Ha!  Megan clearly disliked the “mistress” theme.  I appreciated that Don went in the next day and seemed to be rethinking that theme as well.  He does listen to her even is he hasn’t fully grasped that she will never be Betty awaiting his every wish.  I loved that she came to the office to get warmed up for her audition with Don, but I’m really trying to figure out what her friend was doing while she was gone.  What possessed her to get on the table and crawl around like a Jaguar?  And the camera had to catch her from the underwear and unattached garter angle? That scene was jarring to me, but then Season 5 has not been about being subtle.
  • Don’s face when Joan walked in with the partners was heartbreaking.
  • Do you think that Don was more upset that Joan did what she did because he cares about Joan or because his ego wants to believe that he can bring in a client just on his creative piece?  My hubby is convinced that it was pure ego.  I’m not so sure…or at least I want Don to truly care about Joan.  I think it was a little of both.  I’m not so sure he would have dropped everything and gone to her house if he was just protecting his ego.  Speaking of, did you notice he called her mother her “friend?”  Did that flash back to his saying that at one point the rumor in the office was that she was a lesbian?  Maybe he thinks she is.  And, by the way, his “hat on” look back at Joan from the doorway…pure sexy!
  • Loved the fact that Peggy really didn’t want a drink when she went into Don’s office, but then downed it when he mentioned that Joan was now a partner.  I don’t blame her.
  • Christina Hendrick’s acting in the scenes with the gross car dealer was astounding.

OK, I’m done.  I’ll wrap it up with one final thought.  While Ginsberg’s winning slogan was Jaguar. At last, something beautiful you can truly own. I couldn’t help but think that Don must have felt that all of the beautiful women he thought he owned weren’t so easily defined and quickly slipping though his fingers.  Maybe he should get a Jaguar.

Those are two different stories.





I was thinking about this earlier. Do you think our emotional attachments to the characters are forcing our perspectives, maybe just a little bit? Imagine that, instead of spending 5 years together, we as an audience were introduced to the cast last night for the first time. That was the first episode of the first season. In it we would find an overlooked employee that went on her own way, maybe with some past with Don Draper. We would also see a buxom office manager who makes a decision to become a partner through negotiating her wares. And we would see an executive husband coming home to his struggling actress wife who may have done something with advertising in her past. It would have been a good show and I would definitely watch it the next week, but my categorization of the cast of players would be significantly different than what they are right now. I say this as an interesting experiment. Go back to Smoke in Your Eyes and think about all the things we didn’t know then but had to fill in the gaps. Why was Don running through so many secretaries, how many people on staff had Joan been with romantically (we know Kinsey), and what was Peggy’s life like before her first day at Sterling Cooper. We filled in the back story without being asked to. I am only bringing this up because I was so surprised by so many people’s actions in the story last night. Maybe I shouldn’t be, since it is just a matter of perspective and time.

I’ll go through some of you questions you posed.

Why would a man want to sleep with someone that was forced to by their boss or with a hooker? Power. Nothing more, nothing less. Mr. Slimeball Jag dealer could afford to hire a call girl and could have even accepted Kenny’s offer for other entertainment, but he wanted to show that he held some power over the future of SCDP in terms of landing Jaguar. If he had not picked Joan, it would have been something else that was equally hard to obtain.

Megan bores me too. But yes, I had the same question as to why her friend was crawling around and purring on the SCDP conference table. It was really unnecessary (yes, that is when Ginsberg gets his idea, but they could have done that differently too) and even felt a little ham-fisted. Why would Megan need to go up to the office with her friend?

Don’s reaction to seeing Joan gathering with the rest of the partners the next morning was spot on. Surprised but reserved. I think there was not one bit of ego in there. Instead, I feel he was heartbroken that this woman he likes and respects would feel that she needed to do this at all. You mentioned that your husband thought it was all ego, thinking that they only procured the account because of Joan. But none of it would have mattered had they not had a really good campaign. It’s not like they could have walked in with, “Jaguar: It starts most of the time” and just relied on Joan to do her thing. But now they’ll never know.

I really did love this episode but I have some questions for you.  There are 2 more shows before the season ends. What do you think will be addressed?

  1. Will Lane get his finances in order?
  2. Is Pete going to get the apartment now that they have Jaguar?
  3. Will we see Freddy back at SCDP or do you think Ginsberg is moving up?
  4. Do we catch a glimpse of Peggy again?
  5. Is it possible we can go the rest of the season without Betty?


“Copy Chief”







Interesting point and I think certainly we would look at all of these characters differently if we didn’t know their histories.  I am intrigued, however, by how surprised you were by “so many people’s actions.”  Who really surprised you?  The only one that truly surprised me was Bert.  And even then, when I think of his Sun Tzu approach to business and life, maybe I should not have been.  He apparently believes that no price is too high for a car client.  

Over the years Joan has always used her sexuality in a way to get things.  She is shaped a certain way and I suspect early on and with her mother’s encouragement figured out how to get things with that shape.  The price of using your looks to get what you want is that eventually those looks will fade.  Unless you have done something like marry well you have nothing else to barter with long term.  Joan married a selfish rapist who doesn’t make much money, but I think she was always hopeful that Roger would come to his senses and take care of both her and his child with her as his wife.  Roger’s behavior in this episode clearly washed away those starry eyed dreams and as a woman who wrongly may think that her body represents her only worth, she bartered it for at least a long term deal.  She didn’t surprise me.  

Just to rant on, she reminds me a bit of Lily Bart in House of Mirth.  She is beautiful, but has, up until this episode, always had too many morals to go all the way to get what she wanted.  Maybe she wasn’t sure what she wanted.  She could have gotten pregnant by Roger years ago and made him either marry her or support her forever.  She could have found some wealthy man looking for his trophy wife (Jaguar) and signed on for a life of support and/or alimony.  She always had too much self respect until now.  I think she played the card now because she felt like she had lost all other options and the card might not be playable that much longer.  I do hope that Herb doesn’t decide he will make SCDP’s lives miserable if she doesn’t continue these liaisons.  I think there is testament to the fact that the campaign was good in that he supported SCDP at all.  What were they going to do if he voted against them?  Go whining back to Jaguar and say wait, “we had a deal with Herb when we whored out our office manager?”  They wouldn’t and I’m sure he knew it.  He could have easily reneged on the “arrangement.”  He was no man of honor.

Thanks for the response to my question about hookers, and your very response reinforces the very notion that a woman is something to possess.  It’s power.  Not about a real human being, but as something to show that he has power.  And things haven’t changed much to date either.

Let’s see…season ending questions huh?

Lane’s finances:  At this point I truly hope that he does not get his finances in order and is fired/shipped back to England.

Pete will get the apartment in Manhattan and next season he will get a divorce.  Trudy is too smart for him.

If Freddy is sober I can see him coming back.  Ginsberg is talented, but too volatile to get a promotion.  Don likes his input, but can’t trust him.  I also wonder if Don was aware of how much Ginsberg was insulting him as he made that pitch to him.  Don is probably to egotistical to even realize that Don was the “asshole” of which Ginsberg spoke.

I truly truly truly hope Peggy is not gone for good.  When I think of the life of this show so far, Don and Peggy’s relationship has been my favorite.  They know and have respected so many secrets about each other over the years.  There is true intimacy there that neither has with their romantic partners.  They respect each other even if Don frequently doesn’t act very respectfully…but then she has her moments of petulance too.  They trust each other with each other’s bad sides.  That’s hard to do.  But on the other hand, this show never hedges on showing the cutthroat nature of the business world.  As in life, even friends at work move on for bigger and better things.  And even if your parting comments are “don’t be a stranger,” ultimately work relationships that are no longer usually fade away.  It’s sad, but that may be what they show.  I haven’t looked it up, but has Elizabeth Moss been actively involved with the promotions this year?  That could be a telling sign if she was, in fact, written out of the show.

In my dreams will there be no more Betty!  She’ll be back somehow.  They will have to fit in some issues with the kids.  And those episodes always involve Betty.

And now, I’m going to go watch Carson and cry myself to sleep.





Tangle Ridge Golf Course

Course:  Tangle Ridge Golf Course


Weekend Primetime Rate (With Cart and Range Balls):  $68.00

What you should pay:  $52.00


Oh, why can’t you be closer! You are a good course but oh so far away! You are an hour drive and there isn’t even a good restaurant that I want to visit on the way home.

Tangle Ridge is a good course and they know it. They have tons of accolades and they are displayed prominently on their homepage. Yet they are not stuck up at all about it. What do you have when you pull in? Perfect size clubhouse, putting green and driving range off to the right and the 1st and 10th holes to the left. No teenage kid making minimum wage checking you in, you get a knowledgeable staffer who is talking to YOU, not his buddies behind the counter.  He’ll greet you, make you feel welcome and tell you how the course is playing that day.   Warm up a little on the range, get a few putts in and it is off to the first hole with a stationed starter. He’ll let you know how pace of play is going and will give you an estimated finishing time. (For some reason, knowing it will take 4 hours and 45 minutes to finish at the first hole makes everything easier than finding out when you are halfway through your round.)

The course has always been a fun experience. Each hole has a fun twist to it. Lay up on the first hole or go for it? Pinch the corner on the second hole or play it out safe to the right? They even have a drivable Par 4 that I still can’t figure out what club you should hit.  One day, I’ll just try to drive it.  Can’t be any worse than I have done in the past!

Bunkers have real sand, greens are joyous to put on and the fairways are actually fairways, not sod on concrete. So why not full price for this course? It’s missing that something that you can’t put your finger on. Yes it is fun, yes it is well maintained and yes the staff is great, but it doesn’t have that smile factor that you get from some other area courses, that feeling like you are part of something special. I played up in Kansas City recently and there was a course I played called Falcon Lakes. I could take the majority of this review and replace Tangle Ridge with Falcon Lakes and it would apply, however, that course had a huge smile factor. No matter how you shot on any hole, you could not wait to get to the next one, while still relishing memories of the previous hole.

So please go play Tangle Ridge and enjoy it. It is a good course, not a great course, but that is okay. They know it too. Even as much as they present their awards on their home page, you can find coupons online just about anywhere.


Dirty Martini: A Mad Men Conversation – Christmas Waltz

Good morning Alex,

I may be able to sustain myself on the sexiness of Joan and Don for the rest of the summer. All I can say is she is a strong woman who could physically resist the charm of Don at a bar with Sinatra playing on the jukebox. He was in full on flirting mode and it was a true thing of beauty. Do you think Don would have gone there if Joan was more open to it?

I’ll try to not focus on that for a while, but I’m sure I’ll get back to it. 

  • Not sure if I have ever seen such an unattractive Hari Krishna as Paul Kinsey. OMG, his turtleneck was even dirty. Poor guy. Who would have thought that “finding yourself” just leads you to realize that you can’t find happiness in much of anything you do. But then, I think for some people that is true. Paul came to the truth about his inner career driven self, but certainly is completely in the dark about his Krishna bait “girlfriend.” It’s too bad he isn’t a good script writer, but then Harry is the only one who read it. Considering some of the stupid stuff on television around this time (Bewitched is a juggernaut?) there is no telling what might make it on TV. Do you think that Harry gave him the money and lead for L.A. out of the pure goodness of his heart? Did he feel sorry for Paul and really want to help him? And if so, why not tell him the truth about his script? As Peggy pointed out, he needed to be honest about Paul’s talent to be a good friend. More about that it a moment. I also loved how suddenly Harry is channeling Don when he tells him that his failures “will all seem like it happened to someone else.” Don is becoming quite the sage in weird places this season.
  • How much did Mother Lakshmi remind you of Juliette Lewis? It was just creepy…oh, and she was really an awful person. But she was true to herself, which apparently justifies all sorts of horrible behavior.
  • Liked the juxtaposition throughout the episode of consumerism vs. personal truth. Seems to me that neither won out in the episode as better than the other. The people who were “self actualized,” Lakshmi, Paul, Megan certainly were no better as people than those in the thralls of consumerism.
  • The car porn was amazing. XKE! And I’m sorry, but I found it amazing that Joan is still treated as a sex object and gets to hear the salesman’s very thinly veiled sexual innuendos even in front of her “husband.” But then again, she is used to it since her mother “taught her to be admired” and then she got to sit in the passenger seat of an XKE with Don at the wheel. Worth it!
  • Back to Peggy. I thought it was odd that she suggested Paul give up so easily. She certainly worked hard to be good at copy writing. I never saw it as some innate ability like it was with Don and probably Greenberg. She worked at it. You would think she would be more supportive of his trying. But then, she and Paul weren’t exactly friends, so maybe she was just being competitive.
  • The Lane thing was so sad. I loved how he was trying to make the bonus semi-legitimate, but ultimately openly just stole money from the company. Where do you think his money is going? They haven’t mentioned girlfriends on the side lately, but they might be there. I kind of think that Don, Roger and Bert would have helped him out with the tax situation if he had gone to them. I assume it was pride that kept him from doing that, but once he heads down the path he started on this week, I am scared of where this will end. He will be able to hide if for a while since he is the financial guy, but the potential for getting in even deeper to avoid the original deception being detected is very real. I think Bernie Madoff knows something about this. I suspect Joan will be the one to figure it out first.
  • Loved seeing Don reengaged with the SCDP and rallying the troops to work hard to get Jaguar as a client. Especially after he was so rude to Pete about this account in the beginning. At least Pete is trying to succeed. Nice to see Don join in again.
  • I adored the Megan light episode. And this week she just seemed like a spoiled brat…she is turning into a self actualized Betty. Mildly childish in her pouting because Don felt that the play insulted him…which it did. But full on brat with her immediately throwing her plate of food at the wall because Don didn’t check in with her. Who the hell does that? Drama queens and crazy people. And I loved that Don walks in drunk and probably a little worked up after his Joan flirtation and assumes that she is starting something so that they can have anger sex…which they apparently kind of dig. She set him straight and treated him incredibly rudely. I’m not saying that she didn’t have a right to be angry, but he certainly hasn’t turned coming home drunk or not at all into a routine occurrence like he did with Betty. Her triggers seem to be VERY short. The acting from the woman who plays Megan was also horrific in this scene. 

And I’ll end with the Joan and Don interlude. Just freaking wonderful on so many levels. Talk about mutual respect! “God, you are irresistible,” but then she won’t dance with him because of the “that look on your face.” Too amazing. And the flowers from “Aly Khan” delivered by Sugar-Daddy wanna-be Roger were simply the icing on the decadent, luscious Don Draper cake! Sorry, went to another place for a moment.

“He doesn’t know what he wants.”






Good afternoon Gillian,

I am glad you liked it so much. I liked it too but it felt like a set-up episode, meaning we need this one to get to the good stuff for the rest of the season. But this truly did feel like Mad Men.

Shall we?

You may be right about Paul Kinsey. Not attractive with a beard, not attractive with a pipe, and definitely not attractive in beige pajamas with a bad haircut. I’ll single out your comment, “Who would have thought that ‘finding yourself’ just leads you to realize that you can’t find happiness in much of anything you do. But then, I think for some people that is true.” I, myself, certainly am trying to find myself and happiness is my goal, but I think Paul is simply spiraling out of control. I am sure he wondered why he didn’t get the invite to SCDP when it first started and I bet he never once thought anything was ever his fault when he lost each consecutive job. He always wanted to make people think he was more self-realized than the next person. Think about his ‘progressive movement’ of dating a black girl and his ‘enlightened’ viewpoint of marijuana. And now with no one left to impress, he turns to Hare Krishna. And even then Harry Crane has a vision after just 15 minutes while Paul gets nothing out of it!

And to continue with this plotline, Mother Lakshmi (yes, she did remind me of Juliette Lewis) visits Harry in the office for a quickie in order that he leave Paul alone? Don’t you get the feeling that Harry would have left Paul alone even before her visit? This leads back to your question of Harry giving him the $500 to get out of there. I feel that this was a buyout laced with some guilt. If I send this guy out to LA, I will never have to deal with him again and I won’t have to deal with any repercussions of banging his soul mother, but that is just what I got out of it. And it is interesting that you say he is channeling Don. I thought he was doing a pretty good Roger Sterling. Throw enough money at a situation and you don’t have to truly deal with it!

Yes, you know that my dream car is an E-type Jag so I watched that scene a couple times. I was very impressed that the producers were able to secure so many pristine Jaguars. Of course the best comes when Don just hands over a deposit for more than the car is worth. That was style! Wasn’t there part of you that thought he might wreck it on the way home?

Speaking of going home, this is the 2nd or 3rd time that Megan has made “pasta” which to me looks like boiled spaghetti with a little bit of butter on it. No sauce, no nothing! Should we feel bad that she slaved over the stove for that? Also, you turned the corner pretty quickly on Megan. A few conversations ago you were furious over Don leaving her at a Howard Johnson’s even in the face of my pointing out that she was behaving like a child; now she is a drama queen or a crazy person. (Come on; just give me a slight nod of credit).

Don was fantastic in every bit of this episode and his charge to the troops at the end was inspiring! I think we got the old Don back, or better yet, a new Don that is going to kick some ass as we close out the season.

I’m going to save my discussion for Lane (since it will take up another page alone) but I wanted to throw the ball back into your court for a couple of things.

  1. Did you find it curious that Roger and Joan were both missing at the informal partners meeting near the end? What do you think they were up to?
  2. I think the writers wanted the audience to feel that Don and Joan might get together in a future episode, but would never dare deliver on that. Or maybe I am missing what their intention was. Is Joan actually the muse in Mad Men?
  3. When the receptionist gets yelled at by Joan and then responds, “You can’t do that,” do you think this was the beginning of the “HR-How to treat employees at work” movement? At the old Sterling Cooper, a secretary/receptionist would just get fired, might cry a bit, and then leave.

Your mother did a good job…





Alex, Alex, Alex,

I must protest rather than nod. There is a vast difference between thinking someone is a childish drama queen and thinking they should be left at a Howard Johnson’s. I don’t care how stupid she is, she shouldn’t have been left at the Howard Johnson’s. I think if you go back, I’ve never really like Megan. That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t defend her actions sometimes. I’ve also always thought that she and Don fought too physically for a healthy relationship. I will say that this is the first time I’ve thought she was a bad actress.

On to the Hari Krishna’s. I see no problem with someone trying to find them self and be happy, but what if on the way to finding one’s self they realize that they are inherently a jerk. What if the person we find isn’t someone we like. Then you must try to change or just succumb to the jerkiness of who you are. And a lot of people use “that’s just who I am” to justify all sorts of bad behavior. I’m guessing that Harry was trying to be a better person with his outreach to Paul. That and to make himself feel better for banging Lakshmi – but that was it’s own punishment don’t you think. I think Don maybe realized in this episode, and not for the first time, that he doesn’t like who he has been recently and wants to do better. He achieved it partly by not making a serious move on Joan and then by diving back into work. Megan is still figuring it out… but she is heading down the path set by her father. Not a good thing in my opinion.

I agree with your assessment on what happened to Paul, just wonder who he ultimately will be. I did love his comment to Harry that Harry was the first person to actually help him — that was heartfelt. He has been feeling lost.

The Jag thing cracked me up because he clearly returned it at 8 or 9 at night. Would the dealer even be open? I assumed when he was driving it in his drunken stupor that he had either bought it, or yes, would crash it. You know the dealer assumed they had sold the car. Probably took the check to the bank around 5 pm hoping desperately that it would clear.

And Megan’s sauceless spaghetti has been driving me nuts! When she asked if he wanted cheese last night I was like “well yeah, otherwise this pile of white flour pasta you just dumped in front of him is about like eating a pile of wallpaper paste!”

On your other points:

  1. I didn’t notice that, but strongly think there is nothing going on with Roger and Joan anymore. They had wanted Joan out of those meetings because they were discussing bonuses and maybe Roger was busy delivering Don’s roses to Joan.
  2. With Don and Joan I think they just had to take advantage of that chemistry and I for one am so very glad they did. I hope no one really wants them to get together. It would ruin a truly beautiful friendship.  An amazing friendship with someone that you can rely on to support you, not be judgmental, and make you feel like you could rule the world. Both of them left that sexy flirtfest feeling better about themselves. Do you think Joan got together with 7:30? I don’t.
  3. I thought the same thing with that receptionist. “You can’t talk to me like that.” Today the next thing she would do would run to HR and claim someone wasn’t “nice” to me. But more than HR, I think this was when everyone in her generation felt that the world owed it to them to be nice to them. We’ve touched on this before with the end of the “greatest generation” and the duty they felt to society in general to everyone wanting to find themselves and be accepted for who they were. In her mind being nice to her was more important than doing her job competently. And we are generally still there, believe me. Think about just a year ago in Mad Men world, Don sleeps with his secretary and isn’t sweet to her the next day. She quits within the week. That would be all sorts of lawsuits these days.

I, for one, am looking forward to that giant leap forward. Even if it takes days, night and weekends!






Let’s address your points then on to Lane.

  • There is no way the dealership should have been open, but I don’t know for sure what a car dealership in New York is like. Maybe there was a garage that he was told to bring it back to if he was returning it after 5:00.
  • No way Joan got with 7:30. I think she knows there is too much going on in her life right now.
  • Thank you for agreeing with me on the spaghetti.
  • Yes, I think part of the $500 was guilt for the Lakshmi thing.
  • Good point on the HR topic. Just curious.

On to Lane Pryce!

I will admit it. I think you called it in A Little Kiss when you suggested that “If Lane, the accountant of the group, gets in trouble with the mafia, the firm could be in real trouble.”

  1. Lane feels that he cannot go to the partners for a loan, or at least even to Don. Wouldn’t you think Don would be understanding?
  2. Lane goes to the bank to secure funds solely for the purpose of distributing bonuses.
  3. Lane tells the partners they have a surplus and that bonuses should be issued. They trust him so much that they don’t even think to take a look at the books.
  4. When they tell Lane it would be better to give the bonuses out closer to Christmas, Lane forges Don’s name on a check. Again, he must be the only person reconciling the books against the bank statements.
  5. Once Lane is told that he and the other partners will not be getting bonuses (for a while at least due to Mohawk Airlines) he realizes that all of his lies that could be hidden by timing are now going to come bite him in the ass.

So that leaves us with a few options:

  • He comes clean to the partners, gets fired.
  • He comes clean to the partners, they understand and it becomes a non-issue.
  • He comes to just Don, Don helps out, and now Don has something over him.
  • He comes to just Don, and Don goes to the partners (see a and b)
  • He enlists Joan to help him.
  • He enlists the mob guy to help him.

And for the love of god, I really hope it is the mob guy. What a great story arc that would be!

I’ll clean it up later…




Dirty Martini: A Mad Men Conversation – Dark Shadows


I hope you liked the episode as much as I did. I am not saying it is groundbreaking in anyway, but it felt like Mad Men. Does that make sense?

I am not quite sure what ‘Dark Shadows’ signifies, rather, they could have called this one ‘Apologies’ and that would have been consistent with the feeling I got. Roger apologizes to Jane, Roger doesn’t apologize to Peggy. Don apologizes to Megan, Don doesn’t apologize to Ginsberg. Betty apologizes to Francis, Betty doesn’t apologize to Sally.

Let’s start:

Roger: I thought he was getting stronger toward the begging, but towards the end he went back to his usual paying off of folk in order to get what he wants. Do you get the feeling that he has checked out and really doesn’t care one way or the other about the business; rather he is trying to find his place in life? And what do you make of Jane talking about Joan in a unsavory fashion? Does she know something we didn’t see on screen?

Don: I liked how he handled the Anna situation with Sally. A much more enlightened Don to be sure. Also, he seems to be adjusting fine to Megan trying out acting. And I loved the fact that he was being creative again. Was his dismissal of Ginsberg’s work a cheap shot to get back in the game? I don’t feel that way. They guy has good ideas and he is trying to run a business. If anything, I think his comment at the beginning about how a lot of the work was Ginsberg’s and not Peggy’s was telling. I think Don is looking out for Peggy…

Peggy: Loved her in this episode. Even with Roger correctly calling her out in the elevator, she has put in a lot of time and sweat into the company and I think she had a right to say what she said.

Betty: Bitch.

Sally: I think Kiernan Shipka is becoming a better actor. Her performance never once threw me out of the scene unlike the first few seasons. Maybe the acting classes from Megan are helping!

Megan: Not much to talk about from her, but I am bringing her up for one reason. If you like in New York and someone is driving out to pick up the kids, wouldn’t you be a little more aware of the time? Also, she seemed a little flighty during the exchange with Betty. Drugs maybe? She is hanging out with a new crowd. What were your impressions about that scene?

Anyway, lot’s more to talk about and yes, I did not bring up Pete’s fantasizing about Gilmore Girl since I know you have a better angle than I do and I want to hear it first.

Gone to get bagels,



Good morning, Alex.

You are on it this week. Impressive. Must be the competitiveness coming from that episode last night. This week’s episode reminded of the old Mad Men, yes. Much like last week did. But once again we got hit over the head with a theme. Betty, please tell me how you feel by expressing how thankful you are that ‘no one has anything better”….because we certainly can’t figure it out.

I think the Dark Shadows reference relates to Megan’s waitress friend auditioning for a role on that soap opera. She mentioned the name Collinswood when she was running her lines. I looked it up and it ran from July of 1966 until 1971. Funny that Weiner would time it with Johnny Depp thing they are about to open. Not sure if that was deliberate, but it’s probably the only reason I caught the name “Collinswood” — that was the name of the manor where all the dastardly soap opera goings on occurred. This episode played out a bit like a soap opera too.

  • Roger seemed odd this episode. I was rather enjoying Zen Roger, but his bigotry is always off putting to me and the Jewish comments were grating. Weird since he probably isn’t really a bigot against Jews at least since apparently Jane was Jewish (who knew), but he certainly is completely politically incorrect by today’s standards. I loved Ginsberg asking why he assumed he was Jewish. I rather enjoy his competitiveness with Pete, since I am no Pete fan so that was kind of funny, but his Jane stuff was a bit too much. I know the bloom is off the rose, but seriously he can’t think of her feelings enough to not “christen” the new apartment? But her response the next morning was pure soap opera. Sitting on the sofa wrapped in a blanket saying how now the new place was ruined. Seriously, she could have simply told him to go. Pretty sure he would have. Jane’s Joan comment was wonderful. I don’t think she suspects anything has happened since she and Roger were married or that Joan’s baby is Roger’s, but I’m fairly certain that Joan and Roger’s extracurricular activities back in the day were known, but not discussed. Remember how hurt Joan was when Roger had the heart attack….Bert clearly knew that those were non work related feelings there. Roger also seems like he should be running out of money one of these days. Endless hand outs. Two ex-wives with alimony and buying apartments at a whim. He can’t have endless funds can he?
  • I am very glad that Don discussed Anna with Sally. I’ve always wondered how he explained taking the kids to Anna’s house in California. Loved how he said she wished Sally had met her. The only thing that Don did in regard to Sally in this episode that didn’t sit well with me was his initial conversations about how Betty was trying to hurt us rather than Sally. As a little girl why would she think that her mom was trying to hurt anyone. Why would Don point out that her mom was trying to hurt someone? I’m not saying it didn’t ring true, I know divorced parents do this all the time, I just hate it. He could have just explained the situation like he did without disparaging Betty in the process. And why would you then give Sally ammunition to then play games with Betty when she got home. Now Sally knows that Betty and Megan are in competition – other than hearing the argument through the walls the night before. I think it’s a parents job to try and pretend that everyone gets along. Sally has a wonderful model for manipulation in Betty, I don’t see why you would want to give her more ammunition.
  • Regarding Kiernan Shipka’s acting: I’m not quite there yet. Liked most of it, but when she told Megan not to tell her dad she read the line too ominously. It totally took me out of the scene.
  • Don is finally working which was very fun to see, but he is adopting tactics which seem so beneath the old Don. Really, leaving Ginsberg’s sketches in the taxi? I agree that showing up with two pitches is a bad plan, but the way he went about it was childish and insecure. Frankly, I thought both campaigns were a little silly, but totally different. Lighthearted and fun vs. kind of dark. The old Don would have learned what makes his clients tick and figured out which one would go over better. We might assume he did that since he got the contract, but I think he picked his campaign to pitch purely out of fear that he didn’t have “it” anymore. A valid fear if you ask me. Of course Ginsberg was a jerk about it, but Don gave Ginsberg the same lesson he gave Peggy in the Suitcase last season with the whole “good thing you work for me.” It’s an amazingly arrogant thing to say to a guy who clearly has a very high opinion of himself and definitely a risky move on Don’s part. Ginsberg could easily just say fine, I’ll work for someone else who doesn’t treat me quite so disrespectfully.
  • Frankly, I’m growing weary of St. Megan. I’m waiting for her to do something spectacularly stupid and awful. I didn’t get the impression that she was on drugs when Betty got there, I just assumed she felt awkward with Betty in the apartment. But now that you say it, I did find it odd that she was getting dressed in the early evening and had apparently lost track of time. Does she nap a lot like Don? Maybe you are right.
  • Betty is just being Betty. I’m not sure why Weiner wastes so much film on her. I’d prefer they put in more office stuff and less Betty. The Weight Watcher’s scenes were excruciating, but I’ll admit that I loved the scene where she was making the toast and cheese breakfast. Beautifully done.
  • I’m not sure what I think about that fantasy scene with the fur wrapped Gilmore Girl. Seemed like a scene straight out of a movie that he had seen recently. But in the end fantasies are just fantasies…rather harmless in the end. His telling his train friend that he should just go over to his house and screw his wife seemed insanely stupid. But Pete is just bent on self destruction right now. Do you think that his train friend is lying about the mistress?
  • Peggy was great in this episode, but does she ever go home to her new live in boy toy? Did she change her mind about that? Or maybe that’s why she is always at work. Not going so well? Loved that she told off Roger!
  • And Joan proves once again that she runs the place. Making low key little suggestions to Don, so he kind of gets the impression that it was his idea. I’m in awe of her manipulative skills. They never even know what hit them.

Sadly, next week looks like more Lane. I can’t say I’ve missed him much.

Weirdly, I’m in the mood for Turkey for lunch.




Nice pull on the Dark Shadows! Never would have guessed that it was the roll being rehearsed in the Draper apartment.

I’m glad you brought up Jane’s apparent conversion to Judaism in this episode. I couldn’t remember where that was mentioned before either but I thought I had just missed it. I am a little disappointed that Weiner and company would throw that in there, especially since it served as little more than a McGuffin to get Jane to the dinner. And yes, the end scene on the couch was a little too much for me as well. Does this mean that she is going to get a new apartment after this one? Also, I’ll need to do some research but I think we know that Roger probably made about 2.5-5.0 million from the initial sale of SC. Add in his inherited worth and I think he would have enough cash on hand back then to manage buying a couple of apartments.

I knew we were going to disagree on Don’s actions regarding the pitches. But remember, Ginsberg screwed up the pantyhose pitch in the Mystery Date episode and was cavalier in his attitude. I think it is about time Don put Ginsberg in his place. If Ginsberg doesn’t like working for Don, he should get a job somewhere else. His attitude sucks.

I thought you were going to go a different route with the fantasy/dream Pete had. I for one am getting tired of hallucinations/dreams/trips and the rest. How about a straight up episode! Give me Don staring off into the distance and I’ll come up with my own image of what he is seeing or going through.

I think Peggy is still with Abe, but Thanksgiving is around the corner so Abe was probably out buying up some more ham. (It’s his favorite!)

Looking forward to some Lane next week. I for one have missed him, even if it just means we get to see Pete flinch as Lane comes down the hall.

I used the toothbrush in there; I hope it’s yours…




Yes, loved Roger’s dig on “hoping it was her toothbrush.” Nice, implying other men have already been there? Wish she said it was an old toothbrush she had used to clean the toilet earlier that day.

I’ll admit I kind of forgot about Butler shoe pitch (I think that’s the one you are referring to) that Ginsberg went rouge on a few episodes back. Yep, it was partial payback, but I still don’t feel that Don is coming from a position of strength at work these days. I’m still hoping he gets his mojo back. While Don was never a nice guy, you could always admire his business acumen. He now has fleeting moments of niceness, in between working with Betty to poison his kids, but still isn’t the advertising whiz that he was.

What route could I go with on the Pete hallucination? It was interesting that he dreamed something rather old school – flashes to the fur Roger gave to Joan back in the day? This woman has clearly done a number on Pete, but she just seems like a less intelligent, pre-baby version of Trudy. Pete, like many many men, probably has a madonna/whore complex. As well as he needs constant reinforcement and praise. Name a complex, he probably has it.

I did a little research on the smog thing too. I never realized that was such a problem back then, but apparently that issue was true

I know this show is certainly not a happyfest, but do you feel that the mood is increasing dire? Much like that smog (again Weiner hits us over the head) I need another episode like the end of season three when they broke for the new agency. Or a trip to California where Don has a real person in his life.

Ginsburg: “I feel sorry for you.”

Don: “I don’t think of you at all.”

Yeah, right!