At age 103, Saturday Evening Post illustrator McCauley “Mac” Conner has witnessed a lot of history.
An exhibition of his work was recently on display at the Delaware Art Museum, the Museum of the City of New York and the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The exhibition, “Mac Conner: An Original Mad Man,” collects pictures from Conner’s long career.
The exhibition labels Conner a “Mad Man” to take advantage of the craze over the television series “Mad Men” about the creative marketing geniuses of Madison Avenue in the 1960s.
However, Conner was not really a Mad Man. A younger generation of artists and writers came along after Conner and were responsible for that revolution.
It’s unfortunate that the backers of the Conner exhibition felt they had to attach his name to a TV show to attract publicity. At the opening of the exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, the museum’s director gave a talk in which she gestured to Conner and said, “Here’s a Mad Man, sitting right here, the original one!” But as Conner himself confessed in an interview with the Guardian, “I didn’t know what she was talking about then!”
The museum successfully drummed up publicity for the show as far away as England by leading viewers to believe they were seeing “the real Don Draper from Mad Men.” But it would have been more accurate, and it would have done a greater service to the history of illustration, if the museum had exposed audiences to one of the other vibrant periods where Conner had played a larger role.
Conner’s career actually began in the 1930s before some of the genuine Mad Men were even born. He painted his first cover for the Post in 1937, depicting a very different era than the young, hip world of advertising depicted in the TV show.
Here we see how Conner worked with a traditional realistic style, using humor that was popular in the 1930s but would seem dated by the ’60s when advertisers were trying to appeal to newly “liberated” women.
Looking back over Conner’s long career, we can see that he lived and worked through many different periods of American illustration that were every bit as influential and creative as the “Mad Men” era. They just haven’t had the good fortune to be selected for a TV series yet, so modern audiences aren’t as interested in them.
Conner was born in 1913, the era of the “Gibson Girl,” when illustrator Charles Dana Gibson (and a flock of imitators) set a nationwide standard for the ideal modern woman.
Gibson’s iconic woman had a huge influence on American popular attitudes. It gave a boost to the suffrage movement that resulted in the vote for women and shaped America’s taste for the first female movie stars at the beginning of the movie industry.
A few years later, when Conner was a boy, illustrators again set the tone, this time by creating the images for the Gatsby era and the Jazz Age with the hugely popular Arrow Collar Man invented by J.C. Leyendecker …
…and the “flapper,” invented by John Held Jr.
These icons had a tremendous influence on the clothing, hair styles, fashions, and popular culture of their day.
As Conner grew up in the 1920s, the streamlined look of Art Deco dominated American culture in magazines such as Vanity Fair.
Illustrators such as Leslie Ragan helped shape the image of the Art Deco era. Ragan illustrated a series of train posters, such as this one from 1939.
The Art Deco look influenced the style of cars, buildings, and furniture. You can see it in all those Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies of the 1930s.
Conner began working as a professional illustrator in the 1930s and continued to work in the 1940s and 50s as tastes evolved through the Great Depression and World War II. Many illustrators adopted a “noir” look, a hardboiled, dark, shadowy genre which became very popular in illustration, detective movies and fiction:
Conner sometimes worked in a version of this noir style, as seen in this example from 1954.
Styles and fads came and went during the post-war years, always with America’s illustrators leading the way in fashioning the visual taste of the era in magazines, advertisements, calendars, and posters.
In the late 1950s, waves of new consumer products sparked by post-war prosperity and the new popularity of television transformed public taste again. Conner updated his style to follow these trends.
The late 1950s paved the way for the Mad Men that were featured in the TV series. Fresh talent surged to the field of illustration in the 1960s. Illustrators and innovators at the prominent Cooper Studios and Push-pin Studios, and artists such as Bob Peak, Jack Potter, Bernie Fuchs and Peter Max worked with Madison Avenue to develop distinctive styles that fueled the “Mad Men” legend. Life was fast, advertising budgets were huge, and our culture was reinventing itself. Conner’s old fashioned style was very different from the ultra-cool look of the Mad Men era, as seen in this illustration by Bob Peak:
The true Mad Men deserve the credit for their accomplishment. While it is not accurate to advertise Conner as the original Mad Man, he did adjust his approach to work in the popular style of the 1960s.
Looking back over Conner’s career, we can see that American illustration has been a long, noisy, colorful circus train of styles, techniques, and inventions. The Mad Men era was just one brief period of American creativity among many that would be equally fascinating for study.
Let’s hope that the success of the Mad Men television show will serve as a catalyst for reaching back to some of the other phases of American illustration in Conner’s lifetime, now frequently forgotten but just as bold and exciting and rewarding, awaiting the same rediscovery.
Food for Thought
If I could choose one thing that I hate about the current nutrition labels, it’s that it’s not easy to figure out exactly how much you’re eating. Right now I’m looking at a bag of mini Kit Kats. According to the label, in a serving size of five pieces there are 11 grams of fat, and there are seven servings per bag. Wouldn’t it be easier just to tell me the amount of fat, calories, and so on in one piece, and then let me multiply the number by how many pieces I eat — which will probably around 20? (Side note: If you’re eating 20 mini Kit Kats in one sitting, the nutrition label is probably unimportant to you.) Other than that, I don’t think the labels are too confusing.
But the FDA is changing them. They’ve introduced a new nutrition label that is not only easier to read but has more information for you, including info on how much sugar is added to the product. But they’ve gotten rid of one or two things too. The Washington Post has a complete rundown on what’s new.
Here’s The Boston Globe’s side-by-side comparison of the old and new labels:
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) May 21, 2016
Will There Be a New James Bond?
I’m not sure of a lot of things. I can’t swim, I don’t know how to fold a dress shirt, and I’m still not certain how the stock market works. But there is one thing I do know for sure: Gillian Anderson is not going to be the next James Bond.
That’s one of the names being floated around by … well, people who float names around. They know it’s just a silly “wish.” She’s not actually going to be the next 007. You can be sure that the next Bond is going to be what all the other Bonds have been: a man.
But according to rumors and comments he made after SPECTRE was released last year, Daniel Craig might have already quit as the secret agent. Since these types of rumors always come up after an actor does a few Bond movies and is getting a little exhausted from making them, this whole story could be completely untrue.
But if it does turn out to be true, what names actually are being bandied for the role? At the top of the list is Tom Hiddleston, who is currently starring in AMC’s The Night Manager. He’s such a popular choice that bookmakers had to actually stop people from betting on him (yes, apparently you can bet on who the next Bond will be in England). Other people mentioned include Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell (he supposedly has met with the producers); Poldark star Aidan Turner; Damian Lewis, from Billions and Homeland; and Idris Elba, who a lot of people on social media have wanted to be Bond for quite some time. And for good measure let’s throw in all the names that were mentioned just before Craig got the role, such as Eric Bana, Goran Visnjic, Tom Hardy, and Henry Cavill.
Keep in mind that a lot of these “such and such is the new contender for the role of James Bond!” stories could just be rumors created by the publicists and managers of certain actors or something spread by fans on social media. We’ll find out more officially in the next few months if Craig is going to stay or not.
RIP Alan Young and Beth Howland
Young is probably best known as the human star of the classic sitcom Mr. Ed, but he had quite an interesting career beyond having conversations with a horse.
He was the voice of Scrooge McDuck in many Disney cartoons and appeared in such movies as The Time Machine (the original and the 2002 remake), Aaron Slick From Punkin Crick, Androcles and the Lion, and Tom Thumb. He also appeared in many TV shows, from The Alan Young Show and Studio 57 to Murder, She Wrote and The Love Boat. And before all that, he was a radio star. He had his own show when he was 17 years old, and it was rather influential, even if a lot of people don’t remember that part of his career.
Young passed away last week in Woodland Hills, California, at the age of 96. Some might not know that his real name was Angus Young or that he was born in England and raised in Scotland and Canada.
Beth Howland passed away from lung cancer on December 31, but her death is just now being announced, per her wishes. She played ditsy but kind waitress Vera on Alice. I didn’t realize that she was married to Charles Kimbrough, who played anchor Jim Dial on Murphy Brown.
Own a Piece of Mad Men
Mad Men is my favorite drama of all time, and my birthday is coming up. That’s the perfect combo at the perfect time because Screenbid and AMC are teaming up for another auction of official props from the show! It starts on June 1, and you can bid on such items as Roger’s Ray-Ban sunglasses, Pete’s globe-shaped bar, Don’s office chairs, and even Don’s 1964 Chrysler Imperial.
I’d love to have Peggy Olsen’s Royal typewriter. I would type these columns on it and then snail-mail them to my editor, who would then have to scan them to post them online. But it would be worth it! [Editor’s note: No, it wouldn’t.]
A Documentary About Rose Marie
If Mad Men is my favorite drama of all time, then The Dick Van Dyke Show is my favorite comedy. It’s like TV comfort food for me. One of the show’s stars, Rose Marie, is still going strong at the age of 92. She even has a strong presence online, with a web site and Twitter and Facebook accounts.
She’s also on Kickstarter! They want to put together a documentary on her life, so please give whatever you can (you’ll get gifts, depending on how much you donate). She’s had a long career (starting out as a child singer and actress), and I’m sure the documentary will be fascinating. She’s one cool lady.
I guess if I can’t get that typewriter from the set of Mad Men, this might be the next best thing. It’s the Qwerkywriter, a computer keyboard that looks like a manual typewriter keyboard. It looks well-made and has some really nice features. It even sounds like a typewriter when you tap the keys. It works with iPads, Macbooks, iPhones, Windows tablets, and all Android devices. Writer John Scalzi isn’t really a typewriter guy, but he likes it.
It costs $350, which is a little pricey, but it’s really sharp-looking and might be just the thing for the person who wants to have a little bit of the manual typewriter experience without losing access to their Facebook and email.
National Biscuit Day
I’ve never made biscuits before, and I have no idea what White Lily flour is, but if you’re going to make biscuits for National Biscuit Day — it’s this Sunday — then this recipe for the buttermilk version from Food 52 might be the way to go.
Or, if you don’t want to make a mess of your kitchen, you could wait 24 hours and celebrate National Mint Julep Day. Sounds like the perfect drink for a Memorial Day Monday.
Upcoming Events and Anniversaries
100th running of the Indy 500 (May 29)
The first Indy 500 was in 1911, but no races were run in 1917 or 1918 (because of WWI) or between 1942 and 1945 (because of WWII). This year’s race is sold out, which means Hoosiers get to watch the race on live TV for the first time since 1950.
Memorial Day (May 30)
Saturday Evening Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson wrote about the history of Memorial Day, which was once called Decoration Day.
Lincoln Memorial dedicated (May 30, 1922)
The memorial is part of the National Park Service, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
Johnstown Flood occurs (May 31, 1889)
The Pennsylvania disaster killed 2,209 people and caused over $17 million worth of damage.
Brigham Young born (June 1, 1801)
The religious leader became the second head of the Mormon church after founder Joseph Smith was murdered.
Ken Jennings begins Jeopardy! streak (June 2, 2004)
Battle of Midway starts (June 4, 1942)
Did a science fiction writer predict many events of World War II, including Midway, two years before Pearl Harbor?
Stephen Colbert vs. Bill Maher
You ever watch an interview on TV that makes you squirm a little bit? I don’t mean on the cable news networks, where arguments can sprout like mold on an old bagel. I mean on a show where you don’t expect to see something uncomfortable. You’re looking for laughs and skits and music and you get a serious discussion.
That’s what happened on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday. Colbert had Real Time host Bill Maher on his show, and along with the laughs there was a sense of realistic tension too. And this wasn’t one of those fake things, like when David Letterman conducted that weird interview with Joaquin Phoenix that turned out to be a prank. This was a nuanced, realistic kind of tension. Here’s the entire interview, including footage not shown on TV because of time restraints:
It starts amiably enough, but then about two minutes in Maher makes a comment about Nixon being the type of person Colbert would have voted for, and it’s odd from there. Though Colbert remains amiable enough throughout the entire interview, and it’s not the type of wall-to-wall tension where you think they hate each other, you can see Colbert disagrees with Maher on a few things, including religion. It’s almost as if you can look inside Maher’s brain and see he’s thinking, “But Stephen, you’re liberal! How can you believe in God and be serious about religion?!” You can also see that Maher wasn’t particularly thrilled when, at the very end of the interview, Colbert takes over the bit and Maher doesn’t get to finish his joke.
The interview has a lot more bleeps than you’ll usually see on television. But isn’t it interesting that Colbert’s Comedy Central show moved over to CBS largely intact? There’s a lot more political humor and serious discussion of current events than I thought would happen when Colbert took over for Letterman, and when you have that you get nights like this.
By the way, at the start of this episode, Colbert’s band, Jon Batiste and Stay Human, performed the French National Anthem as a tribute to France and the people lost in the terror attacks last week (and we send our thoughts out to the victims and their families as well):
A Very Murray Christmas
Netflix has released the trailer for their new Bill Murray holiday special A Very Murray Christmas, which debuts on December 4. It features a cast list that can only be described as “irreverently epic”: George Clooney, Amy Poehler, Jason Schwartzman, Miley Cyrus, Rashida Jones, Michael Cera, Paul Shaffer, Chris Rock, and Maya Rudolph. How is Tina Fey not in this?
Judging from the trailer, A Very Murray Christmas serves as both the title and also a description of what the special will be like:
These Are a Few of Oprah’s Favorite Things
Every year Oprah Winfrey gives us her list of Favorite Things. This year she’s teaming up with Amazon.
I won’t list of all of the things that she likes that most of us wouldn’t want to spend money on (Okay, I’ll mention one — the rose gold iPhone 6s for $839.00), but there are some nice gifts here, including some that, oh, I don’t know, you might want to buy for a Saturday Evening Post columnist. I mean, who wouldn’t want an Elvis cake?
And This Is One of My Favorite Things
TV criticism — and I can say this because I’ve been doing it for 21 years — is often terrible. The writing is terrible, the observations are weak or obvious, and if you read enough of it you realize that just because there’s more of it doesn’t mean it’s better (we’re currently drowning in TV reviews and “hot takes”). But when TV criticism is done right, when it’s done by a good writer who not only loves television but can write about it with a mixture of wit and thoughtfulness, it can not only be important, it can rise to the level of art.
And that’s what you’ll find in the new book Mad Men Carousel by Vulture writer and RogerEbert.com editor Matt Zoller Seitz. Matt’s one of the best critics around today, and this book is filled with his perceptive, detailed reviews of every single episode of the show, along with a historical time line of things mentioned throughout the show’s run, poems by Martha Orton at the start of each season, and some great illustrations by Max Dalton.
This book is not only the perfect gift for the Mad Men fan on your Christmas list, I think that Lionsgate and Abrams Books should make some deal to make sure it’s included with every single Mad Men complete series DVD set that is sold.
Wait. Did I mention above that I wanted an Elvis cake? I meant to say the Mad Men complete series DVD set. (And an Elvis cake.)
Christopher Kimball Has Left America’s Test Kitchen
Imagine O, The Oprah Magazine without Oprah. Imagine Turner Classic Movies without Robert Osborne. Or imagine The Daily Show without Jon Stewart (and judging by viewer reaction to new host Trevor Noah a lot of people don’t want to). That’s how I feel about Christopher Kimball leaving the company he founded and the company’s magazines, including Cook’s Illustrated. Kimball couldn’t come to an agreement on a new contract with the new people in charge at Boston Common Press, so he’s out. Kimball will also be giving up his hosting duties on the TV cooking shows America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country (Kimball will still be seen as host of the 2016 seasons of the shows because production has already finished on them).
And to drive home the fact that this move is EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, Kimball’s blog is already gone from the America’s Test Kitchen Feed site.
There are plenty of talented cooks on the TV shows, and they’ll probably find a new host that’s “fine,” but it’s going to be very, very weird not to have Kimball as host. He set the tone and the style for the show. You think of the show, and he’s the person on it you think of. You can’t just throw a bow tie on someone else. It just won’t be the same.
Memento Is Being Remade, For Some Reason
You ever notice that books don’t get rewritten? You never see a publishing company issue a press release that says they’ve hired a writer to rewrite A Tale of Two Cities or The Great Gatsby or The Bonfire of the Vanities. Sure, there might be other books in a series featuring the same characters or sequels or prequels or new writers hired to continue a series after an author dies, but you never hear a publishing company say they’re going to remake a novel.
I know I went off on a little tangent there, but it’s just my way of saying that doing a remake of Memento is a really dumb idea.
If you wanted to eat what was served at the first Thanksgiving, you could have clams, venison, mussels, and plums. But it’s 2015 and we have a lot more options than they had in 1621. Besides, try explaining to your family that, hey, this year, instead of turkey, we’re having boiled eel!
If you want a one-stop for all of your Thanksgiving cooking needs, you probably can’t do better than The New York Times’ Thanksgiving headquarters. You’ll not only find recipes there, but also a complete guide on how to plan the day and how to not freak out during that planning. But I’d also add some recipes from The Saturday Evening Post archives, including Red Rice Stuffing with Dried Fruit, a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake with Spiced Glaze, and Spritz Cookies.
You could also be like Marilyn Monroe. Cooking-wise, anyway. Here’s her recipe for stuffing that was found among her personal letters. If the instructions are a little confusing the New York Times made it and lists the ingredients and instructions on their site a little more clearly. Note: There’s no eel in it.
Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
Upcoming Events and Anniversaries
President Kennedy assassinated (November 22, 1963)
Boris Karloff born (November 23, 1887)
Lee Harvey Oswald killed (November 24, 1963)
Millions of people watched Oswald get shot by Jack Ruby on national television.
Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species published (November 24, 1859)
You can read the entire text of the groundbreaking book for free at Literature.org.
National Hockey League is formed (November 26, 1917)
The NHL replaced the NHA, the National Hockey Association.
Thanksgiving (November 26)
I Wonder What Would Have Happened If He Gave It a Bad Review?
Well, this is a new one. A food blogger that gave a really positive review to a restaurant has been banned by that restaurant for writing the review. John Golden called the Portland, Maine, restaurant The Honey Paw a “ten-star” place, but the three owners of the eating establishment told him he’s no longer welcome there or at the other two restaurants they own.
Co-owner Andrew Taylor told local press the comments about his wardrobe in Golden’s review seemed petty (under an image of Taylor in a rolled-up orange knit cap, Golden refers to him as a hat model) and that he doesn’t find the critic professional. According to Golden, co-owner Arlin Smith told him he didn’t want Golden to represent the restaurants — which is an odd stance to take because food critics don’t represent the places they critique, even if they give it a positive review. Smith gave Golden an ultimatum: He could continue to eat at their restaurants or write about his experience and never eat there again. Golden chose the latter.
I wonder how they’ll enforce the ban. Will they put his picture up at the front door like the Post Office does with most-wanted criminals? Will they tackle him and call the police? Maybe he could disguise himself, Mrs. Doubtfire-style, and try to get in.
Romney vs. Holyfield
Later today in Salt Lake City, Mitt Romney is going to box Evander Holyfield. They’re fighting to raise funds for the nonprofit CharityVision, and I can only assume that Holyfield isn’t really going to try that hard to beat the former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor. Holyfield told the ESPN/ABC podcast Capital Games with Andy Katz and Rick Klein that he’ll try to make Romney look good, and that Romney can trust him. Romney’s son Josh says that his father has been training hard but his jab and uppercut aren’t that great. Those sound like two things a fighter should be pretty good at doing.
Maybe Romney needs a cool, menacing name to intimidate Holyfield. I was going to suggest the Mormon Mauler, but I was surprised to find out that there was already another fighter who had that nickname, Gene Fullmer. He died last month.
How Will Mad Men End?
The final episode of Mad Men airs this Sunday night on AMC. Actually, the network is running a marathon of every show as we speak, so if you want to catch up on past seasons you might have missed or want to rewatch an episode, turn on your TV right now (well, after you finish reading this column).
As a big fan of the show, I don’t need everything tied up in a nice bow at the end, with every characters’ story neatly wrapped. But I do want to see some sort of closure, a feeling this is the end (even if the characters simply continue with their lives). Two endings I don’t want to see? 1) Don simply abandoning his family and his life and starting over again somewhere else under a new name. That would be depressing and a cop out. It has looked like Don was beginning to put himself together this season and this would seem like the character’s moving backward, a dark ending we don’t need. 2) Don dying. That would be odd and would come out of nowhere, considering what has happened the last few episodes (thankfully, I don’t see creator Matthew Weiner going that route for Don).
I’ve seen a lot of theories that say of course Don will die, because he falls from the building in the credits! But isn’t that taking TV show credits a little too literally? Okay, look at it this way: If you want to take the credits literally, Don lives at the end of the show because at the end of the credits he’s alive, relaxing on a sofa, smoking a cigarette.
American Idol Canceled
Do you still watch American Idol? I know a lot of people who were completely obsessed with the show for many years but have drifted away from it for various reasons: too many similar shows on the air, the judges changed, or maybe they just got bored with it and wanted to watch something else. Those are probably some of the reasons why Fox is pulling the plug on the singing competition show after next season (which starts in January).
There are a few articles that say Fox “failed” the show, but I don’t see how any show that lasts for 15 years and has been a big hit TV-wise and music-wise could be seen as anything but a success. It was just on for a long time, and now it’s time for it to end. We really don’t need “think pieces” that try to analyze why it’s going off the air.
Here’s what Brian Dunkleman had to say about the cancellation. If you don’t remember the name, he co-hosted the show the first season until everyone realized Ryan Seacrest could handle things on his own.
I knew American Idol would never last without me #CANCELLED
— brian dunkleman (@briandunkleman) May 11, 2015
It’s National Salad Month
May is the month we celebrate salads. You could make a pasta salad with tomatoes and top it with some condensed milk salad dressing. Or maybe Betty Crocker’s Friendly Dog Salad? (Note: This is a salad that looks like a dog, not one you feed to dogs.) You could even try to eat a salad a day, which sounds more like a dare than a suggestion.
Anyway, enjoy your salads! And if salads really aren’t your thing and you want to take an alternative route, please note that May is also National Hamburger Month.
Upcoming Anniversaries and Events
Armed Forces Day (May 16)
Tomorrow is the official day we “honor those who answered the call to serve.”.
Brown vs. Board of Education decision (May 17, 1954)
Here’s a detailed look at the historic case.
Mount St. Helens erupts (May 18, 1980)
The official site not only has a history of the volcano’s eruption it also has information if you’re planning a trip to the area.
David Letterman’s last show (May 20)
No word yet on what Dave has planned for his last show but it’s sure to be a must-see.
Founding of the American Red Cross (May 21, 1881)
The official site has ways that you can help.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle born (May 22, 1859)
The creator of Sherlock Holmes contributed several pieces to The Saturday Evening Post.
It’s finally April, and we here at The Saturday Evening Post hope that you’ve recovered from both the nasty winter and the devastating news that Zayn Malik has left One Direction. Here’s this week’s roundup.
The End of an Era
We had to wait a year, but on Sunday at 10 p.m. we’ll see the first of the last seven episodes of Mad Men, AMC’s brilliant drama about advertising execs in the 1960s. I’m going to miss the show — it could be my favorite TV drama of all-time — but on the other hand, seven seasons is a nice, solid run, right?
The cast and creator Matthew Weiner have been making the rounds promoting the show:
AMC installed a bench at Rockefeller Center where you can sit with Don Draper.
Weiner talked to Esquire about how Mad Men came about and why you’ll never see a spinoff show.
Producer Josh Weltman also talked to Esquire, with the story behind five ad campaigns featured on the show.
If you’re having a finale party, you can get some tips from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook .
And if you want to read a great history of the show and get all the links to stories I might have missed, take a look at Basket of Kisses, probably the biggest fans and promoters Mad Man has had over the years.
New Daily Show Host Already Has a Controversy
It took about 12 minutes from the time Comedy Central named the new host of The Daily Show to the eruption of a big controversy involving that new host. Trevor Noah, a comedian from South Africa who was a cast member of The Daily Show, will take over for Jon Stewart when Stewart leaves the show later this year.
Now, since this is the age of Twitter and everyone finding out everything about someone at the click of a button or two, it wasn’t long before people found tweets by Noah from a few years ago that joke about women and Jews.
Comedy Central says they are behind Noah and have no plans to replace him as host. Noah himself made a statement about the controversy. Where? On Twitter of course:
To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 31, 2015
I don’t know if this will turn out to be a big controversy as the weeks and months go by. Comedian Jim Norton says that Noah isn’t the problem, we are. I think more people are wondering who Trevor Noah is. Many wanted someone like Tina Fey or Amy Poehler to take over the show, but that wasn’t going to happen. Bill Simmons at Grantland says that Poehler, Louis CK, and Amy Schumer were all asked to be host but they all turned it down.
Heard Comedy Central pursued 3 big-ass names for Daily Show: Poehler, Louis CK, Schumer. Went 0 for 3. Young/cheap/upside was smart audible.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) March 30, 2015
McDonald’s Testing All-Day Breakfast
Have you ever found yourself wanting an Egg McMuffin, but when you look at your watch (okay, your smartphone) you realize it’s 1 p.m. and McDonald’s isn’t serving breakfast anymore? Well, you soon might be in luck.
McDonald’s is testing all-day breakfast service in San Diego, and if it’s successful every McDonald’s would let you order some OJ and hashbrowns, even if it’s 8 o’clock at night. This isn’t something that’s going to happen across the board this year; it might take a while to implement the change. So if you want breakfast at Mickey Ds, remember that breakfast stops at 10:30 a.m. (11 on the weekends).
McDonald’s hasn’t been doing too well lately. So many other options for people now. All-day breakfast isn’t the only change they’re experimenting with. They’re also thinking about table service and having customers be able to make their own custom burgers.
Can Blogging Kill You?
I know that sounds like a headline from one of the magazines you see at the checkout counter or maybe something from those sites that do a dozen listicles every day (“10 Biggest LOL Cat GIFs Ever!”), but it was actually a fear that longtime politics and culture blogger Andrew Sullivan had. Sullivan recently quit blogging after doing it for 15 years. He said he had to quit because he was doing “40 posts a day, every 20 minutes — seven days a week.”
Now, as someone who has blogged for 19 years, I can confirm it can be intense, especially if your actual job is blogging and you have to feed the always hungry Web beast several times a day for many readers. Though I’m sure there are people who will read about Sullivan and want to switch places with him because they work in a coal mine or work double shifts in a hot restaurant kitchen. I wonder if Sullivan actually had to blog that much.
This doesn’t mean Sullivan is going to stop writing, of course. He’ll still write articles and books, he just needs to take a break from the type of output he was doing, and I can understand that (I hope he stops social media too). I’m not completely convinced that he’s done with blogging for good though. Maybe he’ll cut way down, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he returned in a year or two, depending on what your definition of “blogging” is. He still has a site. Even after his announcement Sullivan blogged a few more times.
But even if he does stop, I hope this doesn’t mean that people think this is another example of “the death of blogging.” Even if social media has taken over, blogging will still be around.
4-Year-Old Girl Wants a Slushie (at 3 a.m.)
We’ve all had this happen. We go to bed, but we wake up a few hours later with a craving. Maybe we’re thirsty or maybe we really want some ice cream or potato chips. As adults we can just get up and go to the kitchen and have what we want, or if we’re really craving something we can jump in the car and drive to the 24-hour convenience store a few blocks away.
But what if you’re only 4 years old? What do you do then? Well, if you’re this little girl in Philadelphia, you hop on the city bus. She really, really, really wanted a Slushie, so she put on her raincoat and got on a bus, and as she sat in the seat said, “All I want is a Slushie.” Which isn’t too much to ask for in life, if you think about it. We all just want our Slushies. The bus driver called the police, and she was reunited with her parents.
I hope she finally got her Slushie. Also: “3 a.m. Slushie” would be a good name for a band
It’s Easter Already?
Easter seems to have sneaked up on us this year. At least it did with me. Maybe it was all the snow and cold we had during the winter. But Easter is this Sunday, and there are many ways to celebrate.
You could go the Martha Stewart route and take the time to blow out the inside of your eggs and fill them with confetti so you can throw them at people, or you could just sit back and read this list of 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Easter Eggs.
Upcoming Anniversaries and Events
Howard Hughes dies (April 5, 1976)
Wikipedia has a detailed timeline on the life of Hughes, including the physical and psychological problems he faced.
U.S. enters World War I (April 6, 1917)
Read Saturday Evening Post archives director Jeff Nilsson’s article, “Did the Post See World War I Coming?”
Henry’s ‘The Gift of the Magi’ published (April 10, 1906)
Here’s some background on the contributions that O. Henry made to The Saturday Evening Post , including “The Ransom of Red Chief.”
Mad Men has fanatic fans that talk and tweet about every episode, and, even if you don’t watch, it’s hard to escape the cultural impact of the acclaimed AMC series. It has created a flashback of fascination with the way things were in the ’60s—from fashion and design to the storm-tossed lives of hard-drinking men, without a hint of political correctness, and their glamorous women, all surrounded by clouds of cigarette smoke.
The show has brought to life the pre-feminist ’60s in the most raucously id-propelled environment—the win-at-all-costs world of advertising. While male bad behavior hasn’t diminished as the seasons have rolled by, the women in the cast have started coming into power and wreaking havoc of their own.
Don Draper is at the heart of this intoxicating mix of drama and comedy exploring the human condition as it feeds on success and descends into self-destructive failure. Portrayed by the impossibly handsome Jon Hamm, Draper is the linchpin of every episode. He forges ahead driven by the mantra “You’re born alone, and you die alone, and this world just drops a bunch of rules on top of you to make you forget those facts.” Hamm admits that six seasons of exploring a fascinating, often enigmatic and frequently unpredictable character has left its mark on him as well as every member of the cast. Whatever angst they portray on screen, they insist they are really sort of like members of a winning football team crossed with a loving family.
To find out more, The Saturday Evening Post invited key members of the cast along with series creator, Matt Weiner, and our West Coast editor, Jeanne Wolf, to an intimate get together of the Mad Men team.
JEANNE WOLF: I just learned that Executive Producer Matt Weiner recently held a cast party at which he showed your original audition tapes. Tell me how you’ve changed.
Jon Hamm: All of us have gone through seven years of life and when you add on top of that the experience of being on a show that has become as popular as this one has, it just amplifies everything. You can’t be seven years on the planet and not change.
John Slattery: You watch yourself on the audition tape and flashback, “Oh my God, I started out and my kid was six years old, and he’s in high school now.” You change, especially physically. I feel like I’m 100 years older than when we started. [Laughs.]
January Jones: Mad Men has been this stable background for everything else that has happened personally, and I’ve felt like I have a family around me to support me. Maybe the one negative thing in my life is that I’ve become more guarded as a person. But I’m not guarded on the set. I feel protected enough and safe enough to give everything I can every day.
Christina Hendricks: When I saw my audition played back, I could tell that I was that girl who hadn’t booked an acting job in a year. Having a job is a huge thing. You get to wake up and not be terrified.
Vincent Kartheiser: On the day I auditioned, I thought I nailed it [laughs] because Matt asked me if I would be willing to change my hair.
Slattery: You mean “fix that haircut.” It looked like a hat.
Kartheiser: You guys are evil! Seriously, I was thinking, Isn’t there some good actor they could get to try out? I was very nervous because I loved the script. That makes it so much harder to audition.
Wolf: Let’s go back even further. How did the way you grew up affect who you are today?
To read the rest of Jeanne Wolf’s interview with the cast, pick up the March/April 2014 issue of The Saturday Evening Post on newsstands, or
In a recent trip to Los Angeles, The Saturday Evening Post’s executive team and entertainment journalist Jeanne Wolf met with Mad Men creator Matt Weiner to discuss his recent profile in the publication. In the article, Weiner, interviewed by Hollywood legend Jeanne Wolf, detailed his rise from wannabe scriptwriter who couldn’t get a nibble of interest in his Mad Men pilot show to runner of one of the most influential series of recent memory. At the gathering, he described his upcoming film project, You Are Here, starring Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, and Amy Poehler.
Don’t miss: Wolf’s exclusive interview with Weiner.
Set in the 1960s, Mad Men follows the ruthlessly competitive world of New York City’s Madison Avenue. Here’s a look at real Mad Men-era ads from the archives of The Saturday Evening Post.
Also: Meet Mad Men Creator Matt Weiner and catch up on details about the retro drama, life at home, and what made the writer aim so high.
Matt Weiner, the creator of Mad Men, has a shelf full of Emmys and Golden Globes not to mention critical raves for the hit series now in its sixth season. The retro drama about a 1960s ad agency has left its mark on everything from fashion to the way we look at gender roles. So why is Weiner the first to admit he can be a little anxious about being at the top?
Maybe because he’s hardly an overnight success. He can laugh now about all the time he spent after grad school writing scripts, while his architect wife supported the family. Along the way, he wrote the pilot for Mad Men, but received nothing but rejections.
Weiner’s break came when he started writing for The Sopranos. That show was so hot it made his reputation, but even that wasn’t enough to sell HBO on Mad Men. Eventually it was AMC that took the gamble.
Weiner is charming—a great talker—but notoriously close-mouthed about where the series is going and whether the end is in sight. He’s already made his first bid to move to the big screen writing and directing with last fall’s You Are Here starring Zach Galifianakis and Jenna Fischer.
Question: How has success changed you?
Matt Weiner: I’m less combative. Finding an audience of even a few people after being rejected for a long time kind of recalibrates your perception of humanity, believe it or not. But I’m superstitious about the word success. It took awhile to realize that this really happened after years of privation and rejection. Ironically I’m the person who wrote, ‘Happiness is the moment before you need more happiness.’ So even the premise of the question, ‘How do you feel about success?’ is terrifying.
Q: What would you rewrite about yourself?
MW: I’ve got plenty of bad qualities that have not disappeared. I’m working on being more patient. That can be difficult to be around. I am very exacting. I think I can come off seeming unappreciative of the people closest to me sometimes because I have the complete expectation that I’m entitled to their affection. That’s probably my biggest fault—impatience.
Q: Are you different at home?
MW: I’m like every dad, I’m a joke. [He has four sons.] My anger’s a joke. My dissatisfaction’s a joke. My rules are a joke. I’m always fighting to enforce my authority. I work so much that when I come home and say, ‘Hey everybody, don’t do it this way,’ they’re like, ‘If you were here you’d know this is the way we do it.’ It’s like I’m powerless. You know what, once you take physical violence out of the equation, you really have no control over another person. [Laughs]
Q: Have you tried being a diplomat around the house?
MW: I lose my temper. I’ve got a bad temper. I’ll get mad and be swearing and using the ‘F’ word in the kitchen. Afterwards I’m so embarrassed and I look over at my kids in the next room and I’m like, ‘God, I hope they didn’t hear that.’ And I see they are laughing but trying to cover it up so they won’t embarrass me.
Q: What inspired you to be a writer and to stick with that unrealistic ambition?
MW: I had a lot of support from my parents. They loved and admired writers. We have a big poster of Ernest Hemingway in our hallway. I think that that mattered to me that they thought writing could be a heroic profession and a writer could make like a valuable contribution.
Q: What made you aim so high?
MW: I was a terrible student. I had a lot of mentors, teachers who encouraged me, kind of told me whether I believed it or not that I was a late bloomer. I gave a speech at my high school graduation and a dad in my class told me that I could be a TV writer. It wasn’t just any dad, it was Allan Burns who created The Mary Tyler Moore Show. And so I had that in my hip pocket. And then I went to college and did some acting and wrote poetry. Then I went to film school and was out of work for 5 years even though I was writing all the time. I tell people the hardest part about it was not knowing that it was going to be 5 years—it wasn’t that I was going do it, it was those years of not knowing when I was going to be a success.
Q: Don Draper the main character on the show says, ‘Everyone thinks this is temporary.’ Do you think that?
MW: I am extremely aware that the end is coming but not when. I’ve always had to sweat. I never have been sure Mad Men was going to go on again. I live and die by this thing. I want people to say, ‘That was the best season of the show ever.’ I want them to progressively say during the season, ‘That was the best episode of the show ever!’ I am always aspiring to keep it new and fresh. But you’re going to lose if you’re always trying to top yourself. You end up doing something crazy.
Q: You are pretty secretive about the plots of the episodes.
MW: I’m not trying to tease people. I just don’t want to give away to viewers what’s coming because not knowing what is going to happen is part of what keeps people interested. I think fans of the show, the ones who really love it, don’t want to know. But it is hard to talk about a new season without getting specific. At the beginning of a season I’m always like, ‘I’m starting a whole new story. If you don’t like it, then it’s not for you. But it’s not because it’s not as good as last year. It’s just different.’ No matter what happens you’ll be able to understand it. It’s a TV show, it’s not War and Peace.
Q: Are there lessons that having a huge hit have taught you?
MW: At a certain point you realize that being mature in this job is not thinking that you can do it all by yourself. You can’t forget that other people have the best stuff to offer and you need to be excited when you hear something you didn’t think about. I try to remember that I don’t always give enough praise. I get so much attention for my contribution to the series, and I wish I could share the glory a little bit more. I always mention the work of my producers and co-writers but it seldom gets printed. And I want people to know that that’s not my fault. That I try to share the wealth.
Q: What’s the right way to handle fame?
MW: I remember watching Jennifer Lawrence fall on the stairs as she went up to accept her Oscar. And I just thought, ‘If I were to write an acceptance speech, it would start like that.’ That moment to me was kind of like instant humility. She recovered with such grace and good humor. That’s a hard thing for people to understand. You just don’t want to attract the evil eye, become arrogant, rest on your laurels, and take it for granted.
Q: Does the great acceptance of the show give you more creative confidence?
MW: Trying to put a dream into words is a lot of what it is at the beginning of the season. And the ship leaves the port but you still don’t know if it’s any good. That’s the thing that never goes away. You don’t even know, even when the season’s over, even when you win an award, if you like pulled it off. And you know anyone who says they’re only interested in satisfying themselves is a fool.
Your cable or satellite TV provider may want you to think you’re stuck with them, but you’re not. Thrifty consumers who cancel their cable or satellite TV subscriptions can save $1,000 per year or more. There are some drawbacks to this approach, particularly if you’re hooked on cable news or live sports. But the world doesn’t end after cable goes bye-bye. Cord-cutters are switching to over-the-air channels and Internet-streaming services such as Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and Netflix.
Of course you don’t need cable or satellite to get basic network channels. When the U.S. transitioned to digital TV in 2009, broadcast channels got a major makeover with dramatically better picture resolution, color, and clarity. Today’s over-the-air TV is a different animal from the bygone days of fuzzy signals sent to rabbit ears that your grandfather had to hold onto to keep any picture at all. Digital TV is very good—if you can get it. To find out what your digital TV reception is like, go to the FCC’s DTV Reception Map at fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps and enter your zip code.
Cord-cutting is an easy way to save money, but it’s not for everyone. Without cable, you’ll have to work a little harder—or wait a little longer—to watch certain shows. First, you’ll need the right equipment, including a home broadband Internet connection, a Wi-Fi router—both of which you probably already have—and a video-streaming box such as Roku ($50 to $100), which wirelessly sends HD-quality video and audio from the Internet to your TV. You may already have a media streamer in your home and not know it. Many Blu-ray players, game consoles, and other Internet-connected TV peripherals have Wi-Fi streaming built in. Other streaming options include Apple TV ($100), a hockey puck-sized device handy for renting movies and TV shows from iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, and other online services. Apple TV works much like Roku but has fewer channels. For dedicated iTunes users, Apple’s set-top box is handy because it streams your iTunes music, movies, and TV shows to an HDTV.
Google TV is another option. Unlike Apple TV and Roku, Google TV isn’t a set-top box but software that brings online content including Netflix, Hulu Plus,and even full websites (which you navigate with a wireless keyboard, tablet, or other mobile device) to your television. A handful of TVs and peripherals including the Sony Internet TV (starting at around $900) and Sony Internet TV 3D Blu-ray player ($230) have Google TV built-in.
Watching Internet TV is much the same as the cable/broadcast experience, with a few differences. Say you have a Roku box and a Netflix subscription ($8 per month for unlimited movies and TV shows) and want to watch Mad Men. Using your included Roku remote you launch Netflix and select Mad Men from a drop down menu. The catch with Netflix is that it offers only past seasons of shows. The service has seasons 1 through 4 of Mad Men but not the current season 5. And Netflix typically doesn’t have theatrical films just out on DVD. What to do? Using your Roku remote, change the channel to Amazon Instant Video, which rents individual episodes of TV shows and just-released movies at prices ranging from $1 to $5. These costs are an annoyance, for sure, but for most viewers they’ll add up to a lot less than the monthly cable bill.
Caveats? None of these approaches match the convenience of live cable TV. You’ll be relying on a smorgasbord of programming from different sources, which takes planning and thought. If you like to sit back and flip through channels, cutting the cord is not for you. But if you’re willing to take a more active role in searching for programs, you may be ready to take the leap.
Get tips on how to buy a TV today at saturdayeveningpost.com/television.
Each week, nearly 2 million Americans watch the AMC show Mad Men: a meticulous recreation of the world and the people of an ad agency in the early 1960s.
What is surprising is the show’s popularity among younger viewers—who never saw the 1960s (or the ’70s or ’80s).
You would expect Mad Men to be popular among baby boomers. Every story line, every character, and every set features historical detail of the period that can trigger memories, if not nostalgia, among Americans who lived in those years—whether or not they worked for a flashy New York ad agency.
But how do you account for the show’s loyal viewers among 20-year-olds?
It might be the fascination of watching an America that is both foreign and familiar. The foreign America can be seen in the characters’ enthusiastic drinking and smoking, which is pursued on a scale that only our grandparents could relate to.
The familiar America is the world of advertising, which is so much a part of our lives in 21st-century America, it is almost our second language. We hear advertising’s familiar accents in politics, health care, education, religion, even in personal relationships.
Modern advertising proved itself in the 1920s. By the 1960s, though, it grew up.
Advertisers dropped the folksy tone and sensible appeals they were still using in the 1950s to sell their cars and laundry soap. The new ads were more colorful, more creative, and more entertaining. Major advertisers used copy and visuals so effective that, viewed today, they offer a fresh, vibrant view into that decade.
Of course, The Saturday Evening Post was an important part for any national ad campaign. Our readers comprised a highly desirable group of buyers, and the pages of our 1963 issues offer a broad window into the business and culture of the times.
If you’ve been following some of the plotting and machinations at Sterling Cooper, you may be interested in some of the finished products of 1963 ad campaigns. We’ve also included a few of the articles that surrounded these ads. In future Retrospectives, we hope to offer other advertising and visuals from this fascinating era to keep pace with the story line.