SNACK TREK: Where in the World Have I Been?

June 5, 2013
All bundled up.

All bundled up.

Would you believe Budapest?

I was there for two weeks in March for work, and it sort of threw a wrench into my blogging. Well, a bunch of stuff threw a wrench into my blogging, but whatever — I’m back.

And I want to share some food pics with you, obvs. (Click on any pic to see it bigger.)

Pretty much all of the Hungarian food I ate was on-set catering. Most days we had our choice of a meat, a sauce, and a variety of starches. I believe this was turkey, mushroom sauce, Israeli couscous (which they called… something else), and rice, which was prepared in a way that I loved… probably with a lot of butter.

I miss this rice.

I miss this rice.

Hungarians are big on cherries. A lot of desserts had a cherry in the middle.

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Cherry surprise.

These cookies (below) at catering were amazing. I never figured out what the secret ingredient was… maybe almonds? I also never caught their name. Horseshoes? (Hungarian is a really tough language, so even if I knew the name I might not be able to pronounce it.)

You can see on the left, a plate of cookies with apricot filling. Hungarians also love their apricot filling, apparently. I’m a fan.

The cookies reminded me of Jewish deli offerings… buttery. Dangerous. I had to do a cookie detox when I got home.

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I wish I knew how to quit you. (Leave Hungary, is one way.)

A few more of the amazing cookies/wafers, and citron (lemon) Fanta, which doesn’t seem to be avail in the US. It was basically sparkling lemonade. Loved it.

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Hangin’ at the snack truck.

McDonald’s in Hungary had curly fries, Greek wraps, mozzarella sticks, and donuts (“fanks”), and I wish I could remember the Rick Steves formula a tourist told me for converting Forint to dollars. I think it’s move the decimal over and divide by two? That would make the 530 Ft fries about $2.50? That still seems steep, but closer than 530.

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McRoyal. Also… Mythic?

Also, ketchup was 100 Ft per pack, but a pack was big square. Probably about a tablespoon? Two?

My bosses didn’t know about my ketchup obsession, and gladly bought me 400 Ft worth just to challenge me. (Child’s play.)

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Ketchup and curly fries… they’re speaking my language.

We also went to a really fancy McDonald’s…

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Yes, that’s a McDonald’s. It took two trips to evade the guard and take this. (I was picking it up for other people, I swear!)

Okay, back to Hungarian food. This was my breakfast of choice. It’s called a… “keef-lee.” Kiefly? It’s sort of pretzel-y. I dipped it in cherry sauce… trying to enjoy the fruits of Hungary.

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Boomerang.

We also ate pizza. It was just pizza, but hey. Closer to Italy than usual!

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This was actually at a restaurant. I don’t remember the name but it was across from the PIM museum (of Hungarian poets/writers).

We bought macarons at a place called Sugar, to thank the crew for the first week of work.

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Rainbow of macarons.

That day, we finally had chicken paprikash at catering. I was very excited. I wanted to talk in that voice Billy Crystal uses when he talks about paprikash in When Harry Met Sally. (Paprika is really big in Hungary, so I had a few other paprika stews during my stay.)

It was really good, guys. Get yourself some paprikash. (And that rice was really good, too. Oh, catering… you did rice right.)

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Good memories…

Of course, the cherry macaron had a cherry in the middle… (I don’t know if you can see it.)

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Full of surprises…

Remember when Kennedy said he was a Berliner and he accidentally said he was a jelly donut? And various other fanks…. fanks a lot.

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Fanks for the memories.

Ah, THAT’S how you spell it… kifli.

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Kifli are a steal.

One souvenir hit was Rozsavolgyi Chocolates. When I got them home, I had to use my Google translator to try to remember which flavors I’d picked. They have mushroom chocolates, cherry (of course), spicy paprika (double of course), cardamom…  really unique flavors and textures. I still have some in my fridge, which I may have to go eat now… even though somehow I let them expire before I could finish them all.

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A visit to the chocolate shop…

One day we bought a bunch of cakes (torts) for the crew, including this apple poppyseed cake… did I mention that they were also big on poppyseed in Budapest? I don’t know if it’s an Eastern Europe/Jew connection, but I was really feeling the flavors of Budapest.

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The missing piece is the one I ate.

Another typical Hungarian breakfast… challah with Nutella. They were serving challah on Passover, which was kind of hilarious to me.

And let me take a moment to talk about the fresh-squeezed orange juice… I loved it. (But boxed orange juice was more like Tang.)

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Breakfast of Hungarian-TV-set champions.

The yogurt was always warm and soupy… I tossed it out. Sorry. :(

Another Hungarian specialty… some late-night goulash and “pancakes,” which were crepes rolled with Nutella. Goulash is a soup with paprika in it… of course.

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It was seriously too late at night to be eating, but we had an hour+ drive back to our hotel, so… still no excuse.

On a morning off I walked to the Grand Market…

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It WAS grand.

My bosses’ Hungarian asst, Patricia, recommended that I go downstairs to the fish area. I was like, that sounds like it will smell AWFUL. But I went downstairs, and discovered that it was also the sauerkraut/pickled peppers area. And they like to give their pickled goods adorable faces.

Pickle monster?

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Cat?

Picked goods are very Hungarian, but something about all these smiling pickled goods felt very American/Martha’s Vineyard. Maybe the color choices…

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I believe these were at the “Smile Store.” Can’t imagine why it’s called that…

My friend Allison (who lives on the Swiss-Italian border) told me that I had to try out a Hungarian specialty called Unicum. I bought a tiny bottle, brought it all the way back to Los Angeles as a gag gift for Sam, and it’s sitting on the table RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME, but I still haven’t been brave enough to try it.

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A window full of Unicum.

One specialty that every Hungarian is gaga over is kürtöskalács, or chimney cakes. There’s really no American equivalent, that I’ve seen. A piece of dough is twirled around a cylinder, dipped in sugar, and heated over a fire. Add a topping, and voila! They’re crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and totally addictive.

So I’ve been having withdrawals.

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Kurtos roasting on an open fire.

We hired our own kurtos-makers to come to set on the last night. It was a nice treat to have in the middle of the muddy, muddy woods. (Also snowy.)

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I believe the most traditional topping involves walnuts, but there was also cinnamon, coconut, and chocolate.

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Whoosh!

I loved that when you ate them, they pulled off in a swirl. FYI: A whole one was WAY too much for one person.

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Peeking into the kurto…

On our way to the airport, I was telling my boss about the Unicum. Our driver (Pal, sounds like Paul), who didn’t speak a lot of English, excitedly began listing a whole bunch of things that ended with -cum, summing it all up with “Hungaaaari-CUM!” In the airport, I found a Hungaricum display. I think that translates as… traditional drinks of Hungary?

But still. Hehe.

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Pal’s pride.

Maybe I will elaborate further in the future, but at least now I’ve shared a good chunk of my Hungarian food experience with you. Not pictured: Thermal spas, furry Muppet pigs, the temple, the opera house… you gotta go there!

And after a VERY long hiatus… I gotta go to the gym!

xoxo…

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Happy Birthday to Me

August 20, 2012

Make a wish…

It’s my birthday! Which, for me, signals a time of great eatin’s (and reflection).

It has been a quick year, filled with various food adventures and calamities. I found out I was (sorta) lactose intolerant, I was told to stop eating red meat (among other things) for my cholesterol, I fell out of shape, I tried to get back into shape, I cooked spaetzle, I decided I would probably never cook spaetzle again, I ate at the Lobsta Truck in Los Feliz, I was traumatized by a lobster claw in Boston… a roller coaster of food activities.

Sanddabs. (Not sure if I ever blogged these.)

I tried sanddabs in Monterey. I had cannoli in Boston (and cider donuts in Amherst!). I discovered panzanella salad in Downtown LA. I ate squid ink pasta… twice!

Squid ink pasta at Il Capriccio. (Sam ordered it, I tried it.)

I found out that most cocktails made with St. Germaine’s elderflower are delightful. (Especially if they have berries in them.)

Elderberry Sangria at Desert Rose in Los Feliz. (Not pictured: A St. Germaine/blackberry cocktail from Cleo in Hollywood.)

In the last weekend or so I’ve had three (maybe four… maybe five?) celebratory dinners, with a few more to come. I have tried to be pretty strict with myself for the last few months (due to my cholesterol… took a re-test last week so I could have some birthday fun… waiting for the results), but last night I had a cocktail and a bit of beef… scandal, right? Party animal!

My birthday dinner last night at Cleo had a fitting dessert… an Earl Grey Greek yogurt sorbet with berries. Greek yogurt is one of the few types of dairy I still regularly eat. I didn’t used to like it, but it’s growing on me. I mean, anything you can eat with berries has that going for it. (I also had cake with my family, and cupcakes today at work. I’m not a saint.)

Who knows what new highs or lows I’ll reach in the coming year, eating-wise. Maybe I’ll try brains! (The people next to us were eating them last night.) Maybe I’ll go vegan again! (Unlikely in the long term.) Maybe I’ll blog a little more frequently! (Fingers crossed.)

A few hopeful trek destinations for the near-ish future are Portland, OR and New Orleans, LA. (I have already decided that when I go to New Orleans, I will try a muffaletta… even though I typically don’t eat pork. That’s how curious I am to about the flavor!)  One already-planned stop is a non-OC Thanksgiving (my first ever out of state). And who knows where work could take me…

Not to mention all the places I still have to try in LA. (I knocked several off my list with birthday dinners alone.)

What I DO know is that I will continue to love berries. And leftovers! Here is today’s lunch (I slipped home due to the geography of my work day)… two types of leftover eggplant pizza from weekend birthday dinners. (I have a type.)

Vegan ratatouille pizza from Mohawk Bend (left) and Eggplant Flatbread from Cleo (right).

Here’s to another year of delightful food treks… and hopefully blogging them more often! (For more frequent photos… I’m yapplebee on Instagram.)

xoxo…

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Snack Trek: TASTE OF THE EASTSIDE

July 6, 2011

Local is a restaurant, but also appropriate because I am an Eastsider. Zing!

Okay, I’m obviously a little bit behind here. Taste of the Eastside was on May 15th. Back when I was in a nail-polishing phase (they come and go as they please). Sometimes I take a long time to blog things. Sometimes I NEVER GET AROUND to blogging things. It’s part of the delicious suspense of being a reader. (You can always refer to my Flickr to see what I’m not blogging. I faithfully take photos. I’m only HALF lazy.)

Anyway– I feel that I MUST blog Taste of the Eastside in some capacity, because it was a delightful event. For about $25, I got more than I could eat. At first I was stingy with my food-buying tickets (I can’t remember how many we got… maybe 15?), but then I reached a point where I realized– go for broke, kid! Most of us actually ended up with more tickets than we could use, because we got so full.

First of all, the location was amazing. I’ve passed Barnsdall Art Park a billion times (conservative estimate), but I’d never really wondered what was atop that random hill.

Here’s a picture I snapped as I ascended the stairs (this is the view from Barnsdall– not Barnsdall itself):

This image sponsored by The Hangover Part 2.

As you can see, it provides a lovely view of the Griffith Observatory and the Los Feliz/Hollywood Hills area. I’m already so pumped to return, lugging a picnic lunch in my new insulated grocery bag. (Paging Mr. Tea– and anybody else who likes picnics.) (If you don’t, you’re a monster.)

I met up with several friends at the Fest– including Lindsey, Sara H, and Sara D. Here’s a picture of two mini-pies from Brite Spot, modeled by Sara H and Eli.

Pie to the people!

I believe one was banana and the other was chocolate. And they were really “cheap,” ticket-wise.

Out of everything we tried, there were two major stand-outs– two things I still crave. I think this was a general consensus, because these two booths seemed to have the biggest lines.

In the past I haven’t been the hugest fan of mole (mo-lay, a chocolate based sauce), but Huarache Azteca was getting rave reviews, so I stood in the long line. And it was so worth it.

The holy mole.

The chicken was tender, the sauce was savory, the rice was puffy, and the bread was… a big hunk of bread. It was a big portion, for only 3 tickets (as I recall). Everybody who ate this got some sauce on their face. (That’s what she said…) It was sauce-on-face good. (Luckily everybody was willing to tell each other, “Hey… you’ve got a little something…”) It’s the kind of food that makes you want to call your friends and family and force them to try it.

Pazzo Gelato was a bit of a surprise favorite for me, because I went there several years back and it didn’t leave a lasting impression. They were another booth that gave amazing value (I think this was 2 tickets for two generous scoops). I chose red velvet and blood orange.

The blood orange is on the right. Very red motif.

The blood orange was delightfully sweet and tangy, and the red velvet flavor was rich and creamy. The white base gelato had an almost cheesecake-y quality, which is funny because I don’t usually go for cheesecake. But I was all over this!

I was also very intrigued by this artist. I’m not exactly sure what his style was– maybe plein air?– but he was kinda chopping colors on top of each other. When I first saw it he’d already created the background and was chopping in a few people, and every time I walked by he’d chopped more people and details on top of that. (I know, this is all very technical.)

Capturing the festivities.

It makes sense because Barnsdall is an “art park.” (They have all sorts of cool offerings, from a Frank Lloyd Wright house to wine tastings to art classes.)

And of course, I can’t pass up a chance to blog about macarons (from Les Macarons Duverger)!

Yay macarons!

Those were praline, lavender and coffee. The lavender was surprisingly fruity, and better than I expected. (I tried a rose water flavored macaron the other night and threw it away… I know, shocking.) (Hopefully I’ll blog pictures of THAT later.)

Here’s a shot of the lavender filling:

Looks very berry-ish.

Hope you enjoyed that peek of the Taste of the Eastside. I highly recommend that you attend next year, if you live in the area. There were all sorts of treats I didn’t show– oysters, polenta, ratatouille, short-ribs, cupcakes, pho tacos, breakfast-y foods, and more! (And drinks!) (And a confusing recycling vs. landfill trash system!) (And a DJ!)

There were also people doing crazy handstands-on-top-of-each-other yoga on a nearby lawn. Mocking our gluttony with their… flexibility.

At any rate, make sure to check out the Eastside in your LA adventurings. Maybe I’m biased, but I think it’s an awesome place to eat.

(And now you only have 10 months until the next one. See… that’s the beauty of my procrastination. I should have waited even longer.)

xoxo…

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Fabio Knows Best

January 20, 2011

Hello.

Last night was restaurant wars on “Top Chef All-Stars,” and once again Fabio was an amazing front-of-house man. He’s so charismatic! I was just informed that he has a restaurant in North Hollywood– Osteria Firenze. Much closer than Moorpark. Pack your knives– er, bags– Lauren, we’re going to NoHo!

I’m not even going to write about last night’s episode, because Lauren sent me FABIO’S RECAP. Get the scoop from the man himself! (He’s funny. Of course.)

Instead, I’m going to give you another bit of Fabio goodness. Just before the holidays, a PR rep sent me a list of easy holiday recipes from Fabio and Bertolli Olive Oil. So here they are. Better late than never! It’s always a holiday with Bertolli! (I just made that up… maybe I’m in the wrong field.) (I won’t quit my day job.)

Enjoy!

ROASTED BABY POTATOES WITH SAUSAGE AND RICOTTA

by Chef Fabio Viviani

8 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

16 baby red potatoes

1 cup Bertolli® Classico™ Olive Oil

1 cup chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup chopped fresh sage leaves

8 ounces ground cooked sausage*

8 ounces ricotta cheese

4 ounces Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 475º.

Boil potatoes for 5 minutes. Cut in half and carve a hole in the flesh to hold filling. In a bowl, toss potatoes with 1 cup Bertolli Classico Olive Oil and herbs. Mix sausage and ricotta. Season, if desired, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stuff mixture into potatoes. Bake for 6 minutes. Top with Parmesan.

NOTE: If you can’t find cooked sausage, heat 2 Tbsp. Bertolli Classico Olive Oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook raw sausage until no longer pink.


LAMB CHOPS WITH PROSCIUTTO AND SALAD

by Chef Fabio Viviani

4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

4 boneless loin lamb chops

8 very thin slices prosciutto (about 1/2 lb.)

12 sage leaves

1 Tbsp. Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil

5 ounces microgreens or baby salad greens

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 350°. Season chops, if desired, with salt and pepper.

Arrange 2 slices prosciutto on flat surface. Top with 3 sage, then wrap around 1 chop; repeat with remaining chops. Heat Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat and cook chops, turning once, 5 minutes or until prosciutto browns.

Arrange chops in 9-inch baking dish and bake 10 minutes or until chops are desired doneness.

Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in large serving bowl. Just before serving, drizzle with additional Olive Oil.


CLASSIC OLIVE OIL CAKE WITH BLUEBERRY

by Chef Fabio Viviani

12 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 Hour, 10 minutes

4 eggs

1-3/4 cups sugar, divided

1/4 cup milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1-1/4 cups Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil, divided

2 containers (6 oz. ea.) fresh blueberries

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbsp.)

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 13- x 9-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.

Beat eggs with 1-1/4 cups sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium-high speed until eggs are pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Slowly beat in milk. Slowly add flour blended with baking powder and mix just until blended. Add 1 cup Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil and beat just until blended. Turn into prepared pan.

Bake in center of oven 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.

Meanwhile, for blueberry sauce, combine blueberries, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, remaining 1/4 cup Bertolli® Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil and lemon juice in 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until blueberries start to burst. Remove from heat; stir in lemon peel. Let cool to room temperature. Serve blueberry sauce with cake.

All recipes have been tested and are courtesy of Fabio Viviani, owner and Executive Chef of Firenze Osteria Italian Restaurant and Martini Bar.

xoxo…

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This is Top Chef, Not Top TURTLE

January 9, 2011

Tre makes hilarious faces.

Every once in a while I have to write about a TV show, or I won’t be able to say that this blog is about TV and snacks. It’ll just be about food, and there are a million (better) blogs about food. My very special niche is TV and snacks.

This week’s episode of “Top Chef All Stars” featured a Quickfire in which the chefs had to beat Tom Colicchio’s speed-cooking, and a dim sum Elimination. I love dim sum! And Dale works at a dim sum restaurant, and cooked sticky rice. So guess who won.

(Spoiler alert: Dale won.) (Spoiler alert: Sticky rice, when done right, is AMAZING.) (Spoiler alert: I really want the Dim Sum Truck to return to our office!)

But the REAL reason I’m writing this post is for Lauren, because this episode featured some Fabio gems, including a FLASHBACK to his famous “This is Top Chef, it’s not Top Scallops!” clip. Prompted by Jamie wanting to cook scallops for the dim sum challenge.

Fabio: Jamie, didn’t  you learn anything from season 5? [Cue montage of Jamie presenting scallop dishes... which were mostly unsuccessful, I guess. I don't fully remember.]

Flashback– Fabio: This is Top Chef, it’s not Top Scallops!

His hair is longer now.

Red-headed Tiffany also went on a funny rant about how she’s a 36DD, and if she took off her bra she would knock people out. I find it hilarious that one of the guys said something like, “You girls don’t wear bras, do you?” Um… hello? I mean, I don’t know how other girls live. But I’m kind of a Tiffany, so… yeah, bras are for real. They’re not a myth.

If Fabio gets eliminated in the near future, I think red-headed Tiffany or Tre will be the new comic relief. Already Tre is a wealth of funny soundbyte interviews.

On grocery shopping in Chinatown–

Tre: This market isn’t your, like, Whole Foods kinda place. They kind of look at you at the meat counter like, “What you want?” And I’m like, “What’s DEAD?” [Laughs]

Fabio gets a little ferklempt at the turtle tanks.

Fabio: I notice that there is a tank full of turtle. When I moved to the United States, I bought a little turtle. She is a PRINCESS. Once or twice a week, I take her for a walk. I have a little Chihuahua leash that I tie around her shell and tie up to the chairs so she just go back and forth. Now these guys is cutting turtle to make turtle soup. And that’s MEAN.

All during that story, we actually SEE Fabio walking the turtle. Then it cuts back to his interview, and Fabio does a perfect Napoleon Dynamite-style eye roll/sigh combo. “God!” he sighs, exasperated.

Because this aired several days ago, gems such as this are easily Googled:

Oh, Fabio.

I finally got my mom on the “Top Chef” train, and she weighed in that her favorite is the “handsome Italian.” And it turned out she was talking about ANGELO. So weird, because last season he was sort of the villain– right? I don’t know. Everything’s shifting! (And PS, the obvious guy to call “the Italian” would be the one who is FROM ITALY.)

But maybe my mom will have time to join Team Fabio, because– miracle of miracles– his dish was in the top 3.

Casey got out for making inedible chicken feet– which she’d never cooked before. (And which many would argue are not particularly edible, even when prepared correctly.) Casey was mad at Antonia for frying the feet while Casey worked the house, but it turned out that the correct way to cook them was to fry them EVEN HOTTER. So… oops.

Okay, that was a little dose of TV, albeit food-oriented TV. (Appropriate!)

xoxo…

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Top Chef All-Stars: No More Mr. Bunky Bed (Ep 1 Recap)

December 8, 2010

This is Top Chef, not Top Fighter.

A full week after it aired, I’m finally pulling this post together. It’s going to be a little shorthand-y, because I’m not embellishing my original notes much.

First of all, why did the opening credits look like some sort of art installation? I didn’t write it down at the time, but there were shadow people, right? Weird stuff. (Hm, designing the “Top Chef” opening credits could be a challenge on “Work of Art.” If the “Millionaire Matchmaker” can work with the “Housewives” of Everywhere, I think this can be arranged.)

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Lauren and I were major Fabio fans during Season 5 of “Top Chef”– mostly because of his hilarious statements, spoken in his Italian accent. So I jotted down a few of his quotes…

[Getting into the elevator to the apartment.] “Skyhouse… we’re going up, but it feels like we’re going to hell.”

[In an interview.] “I’m like the underdog, you know? Italian dog. Good one.”

[Walking through the apartment.] “I’m not going to take a bunk [pronounced "bonk"] bed ever again. I squashed my balls on season five and that is not gonna happen.”

Fabio used to complain about sleeping in the “bunky bed.” I’m kinda sad he’s shortened it to “bunk” but at least he’s saying “bonk.” That adds a new and probably unintended dimension… any college students who have bunk buds, you have to start calling them bonk beds now. In fact, everybody of legal bonking age has to call it a bonk bed now. FACT.

And here comes last season’s Angelo, who is back for redemption after he fell super-ill during the finale in Singapore.

Sick sad world.

Angelo: I brought a lot of Advil this time.

And here come Carla (Season 5) and Tiffany from last season (Season 7)! Two of my favorite contestants! I feel like I know them. I’m not alone.

Carla [to Tiffany]: I feel like I know you!

Amidst all the reuniting, Fabio discovers the chef uniform tops, which are ninja-black. They’ve earned a more slimming color, I guess.

Fabio: Guys, you gotta get some coat right here.

Go ahead guys, get some coat!

You know it.

Marcel looks like a priest in his chef uniform/jacket/coat/whatever you call it. He’s probably the most unholy priest possible (well… okay… in the personality department, at least), since he’s generally such an ass. Fabio interviews about how Marcel was an unnecessary dick to him when they met. Not shocking.

Apparently the prizes are bigger this season? I guess more money? I don’t know, all that Aspen/Food & Wine stuff is the same.

Marcel interviews that he came in 2nd place in Season 2 and never won anything. Except… infamy. And also, like, fame and probably a million opportunities. Shut up, Marcel.

Ew, Marcel. Also: Shut up. (This one's for Crystal.)

Quickfire Challenge: Each season has to work as a team to create a dish that represents that season’s city.

I love watching the chefs’ faces during judging, as they watch the judges and look at each others’ dishes.

Fabio is not impressed by the Season 4/Chicago team. They have that guy (Richard– I think) who uses liquid nitrogen for everything. (Richard– I think– also seems to be the guy to beat… several of the chefs seem to be in awe of him.)

Fabio: I don’t know, hot dog with mustard gelato? I would go back and get my pasta again, but that’s just my opinion.

I agree that it doesn’t sound appealing, but at least gelato is Italian. Right, Fabio? Come on.

Mustard gelato?!

Okay, that picture is obviously from Season 5, not from last week. Whatever. (And I never noticed it before, but Fabio kinda looks like Jason Segel.)

Judge Tom Colicchio was “happy to see the mustard ice cream.” Chicago/Season 4 won. And Fabio wasn’t the only incredulous chef.

Mike Isabella: So they did a sausage with mustard. Big whoop.

The Elimination Challenge is a shot at redemption…

Padma: In front of you are the ingredients that sent you home. Turn the dish that sent you home into a success.

Spike: I can’t believe I have frozen scallops again. I’m reliving this nightmare. It’s the great scallop gate with Rick Tramanto. (Spike reminds me of Brothers & Sisters actor Dave Annable.)

Okay, there are two people named Tiffany and two people named Dale. In each pairing, one is white. I don’t want to say Black Tiffany and Asian Dale, but that’s kinda the easiest way to do it without beating around the bush. If you think of a better way, please inform me. (Also: Non-Asian Dale looks/acts alarmingly like someone I know… separated at birth?)

Asian Dale has to make miso butterscotch scallops, which was apparently declared the worst dish in Top Chef history?

All this scallop hubbub reminds me of a delightful Fabio-ism from Season 5: “This is Top Chef, not Top Scallop!” (Pronounced ska-lope.)

Even though he’s worried about improving his famously bad dish, Asian Dale also happens to have immunity. So he’s baking weird shit and amusing people.

Fabio, Elia and Stephen are the three people who are like, “Oh hey, my dish was fine the first time… when it got me eliminated.” Well, Stephen got eliminated in a team challenge for ignoring the kitchen while he worked the house (ouch)– so he has to cook three dishes he’s not familiar with. But the dishes didn’t taste bad, so in theory he should be okay.

Fabio: I don’t think there was nothing wrong with that dish. But I guess it were because I went home. To be eliminated twice for the same dish… you gotta be stupid, then.

Guess who comprises the bottom three?

Tre: Stephen is a great friend and house guy. He’s a great dresser. But I don’t think he came out of the trenches. I think he just came out of… Macy’s Day Parade or something.

He IS sorta looming like a Macy's Day Parade float.

Jamie (another of my favorites from Season 5) went home for making (very famous French fish guy) Eric Ripert’s dish poorly. I remember that episode– they ate a bunch of courses at his restaurant, and then it was like– surprise! You all have to recreate one of these dishes. Jamie hated the dish she drew, and continues to hate it.

Half the chefs get invited to sit with the judges while the other chefs cook. Lo and behold– there’s a TV in the kitchen. The first half competitors can watch the other half critiquing their dishes.

Elia doesn’t want to hear. She hides behind some coolers. I kinda feel like she should be able to deal with this. I mean, to pull out another Season 5 Fabio quote, “This is Top Chef, not Top Pussy.” (Pronounced poo-say.)

Anthony Bourdain is judging, and he’s, uh– not afraid to speak his mind. He declares that Dale “unfucked” his scallops. And he HATES Fabio’s pasta dish.

Then it’s switcheroo time. Fabio’s ready to strangle Bourdain.

Elia: It’s weird to sit with the judges now. There’s a lot of feelings hurt. (And they know the other half will see them critique.)

Season 1 Red-Headed Tiffany: This is like the beginning of the most uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner ever.

The previously-sitting-with-the-judges chefs enter the kitchen and see the TV. Jamie: Told you!

The girl who spoke up the most with her critiques (Antonia) is like, fuck.

Richard-the-nitrogen-happy-genius was plating after clock ran out. He’s not eligible to win. Some people are vindicated, others are super-pissed.

Jamie, Spike and Angelo are in the top 3. Jamie still wouldn’t serve her dish, because she doesn’t fucking like that type of fish. Haha. Stick to your guns, Jamie! (Your hair looks pretty.) Angelo wins $10,000 “furnished by Buitoni.”

As I foreshadowed/spoilered (whatever, this aired a week ago)– Fabio, Stephen and Elia are in the bottom 3.

Fabio: I agree to be criticized in a constructive way. I don’t like to be made fun of, and that’s what you did throughout the meal. (I think he implies that he would fight Anthony Bourdain… and probably lose. Bourdain is scary.)

Elia: Don’t eliminate me. I have a lot more to do. I mean it. (This feels like the kiss of death. As soon as she said that, I was like… ouch. You’re gone.)

Fabio: I may be the worst chef in here, but I won’t let anybody make fun of me because this is a very serious matter. You know, everybody’s working their ass off, and everybody has a bad day.

The Judges agree that Elia’s dish was not improved upon. The fish was raw and she didn’t even taste it, or do anything to vary the original dish.

As I watched, I was figuring that they’d keep Fabio because he’s such a character. But I was sweatin’ it.

Bourdain [re: Stephen's dish]:  As I was eating it, my mind was drifting back fondly to my last colonoscopy. It was that bad.

Elia goes home. She’s humiliated, and I feel bad for her. She interviewed a lot during the episode about how she has matured, and wanted to show the judges everything she’s learned.

Elia: The first to go home, it’s almost not worth that you came. (Sad but true.)

Then we see a montage of things to look forward to this season…

Paula Dean: I could whip your cute little ass. (You don’t want to see her when she’s angry…)

They have to cook head-to-head against Tom.

Muppets.

Somebody goes to the hospital.

Sorry for a kinda bland recap, but here’s to a crazy season!

xoxo…


The MAD MEN Missile Crisis: Episode 410 Recap

September 27, 2010

FUCKED.

Last night’s “Mad Men” (episode 410: “Hands and Knees”) was… I mean, HOLY SHIT. Everybody is fucked!

Beware: This is a level 5 on the spoiler alert scale. (Or, like, a code red on the Homeland Security Spoiler-Alert scale.)

At the beginning of the episode, Don’s biggest concern was that Harry Crane wouldn’t come through with tickets to the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium. Did you notice that Betty was actually HAPPY when she found out that Don would be taking Sally to that concert? Does she love Don again, a little bit?

Also– I was kinda surprised that Betty was okay with Sally going to the concert, because my dad was older than Sally at the time, and he wasn’t allowed to go.

When Sally finds out about the tickets, she screams like a crazy person. Like… those girls in the Beatles concert footage. So yeah. She’ll have a great time. (Don says that he’s going to wear earplugs. Haha.) (Square!)

Speaking of Harry, what is UP with him? He needs to take a plane to California immediately? Shady business. Maybe an affair?

Anyway, thanks to Pete’s new government-y missile-making client (National Aviation? National Aeronautics?), Don’s new secretary (Megan from reception– Mrs. Blankenship died last week, in case you missed it) filled out a form to get him government clearance. And he signed it, not realizing what it was. And that THREE out of EIGHT answers were lies.

So the g-men show up at the original Draper residence and question Betty, and she keeps Don’s secrets. They have a great phone call where he thanks her. Later that night, Betty tells new-husband Henry that the g-men came to question her, because she doesn’t want to have secrets. And then Henry’s like, if things go well, they’ll be investigating me. Big aspirations. Blah blah. Bleh.

Don finds out (from Pete, who knows his Dick Whitman secret) that if they drop the $4 million Astro-whatever account, the investigation will stop. So he’s like, SHUT IT DOWN! (I kept thinking it would be kinda hilarious if “30 ROCK” and “Mad Men” merged, especially… I’ll get to that.) But Pete’s like, fuck you and your lies!

He gives this lovely little speech to Trudy about how the honest people always suffer. Oh, Pete. I mean… Peggy didn’t tell him about the baby? I guess that upset him. But he has cheated at least… two times? Three times? And has definitely done some other scummy stuff. So he’s not exactly a saint.

And also, Trudy looks like a crazy pink marshmallow in her maternity nightie.

Snuggle time!

But I love her. She’s awesome. And she wants Pete to talk things out with her. No secrets! (You know… other than the secrets.)

There’s also a funny Don/Pete moment where they get on an elevator, and Don tells some unseen person to take another elevator. Snap! Men gotta talk!

Don goes on a date with Faye, and when he gets home two guys are standing in his hallway. It turns out they’re just (conveniently) lost, and everybody wore g-men-looking coats and hats back then, but Don freaks out and has what appears to be a Level Five Panic Attack (I’m using the tornado scale).

Don thinks he’s having a heart attack, but Faye says he’s not because her father had heart problems, and his heart would hurt. Don’s like, “Fuck you, you’re not a real doctor.” Haha. Did they know what panic attacks were, back then? Apparently not.

Faye refuses to leave Don’s side because he’s obviously not well, and eventually he tells her that he switched places with the REAL Don Draper and that he’s a Korean War deserter. OH. Faye wonders if there’s a statute of limitations on things like that, but Don’s like, NO, I’m FUCKED. He’s sorry that he told her, but she’s glad he did. And then she lies down next to him, and she’s totally his next wife. NO SECRETS.

Seriously, Don is SURE sure that he’s super-fucked. Like, he sets up a trust for his kids, which Betty can access. (Bad idea?) He indicates to Pete that he might just have to disappear, and that SCDP can run without him.

We’ll discuss the thrilling conclusion of that story in a bit.

Meanwhile, Joan is pregnant. And the baby is Roger’s.

You ARE the father.

Joan has been TRYING to get pregnant, so I think the logical thing to do here is to lie that the baby is a little farther along than it is, and pretend it’s Dr. Greg’s. But Joan decides to get an abortion, and Roger chips in the $400. They get a referral from an extremely disapproving doctor, and Joan goes out to New Jersey to take care of it. (She won’t let Roger drive her.)

I guess she can’t go to her BFF gynecologist who performed the last one, because she’d have all sorts of explaining to do. Now that she’s married.

At the clinic, Joan watches as a seventeen-year-old girl gets called in. The girl’s companion starts to cry, and I totally want Joan to pull a Liz Lemon and say, “It okay! Don’t… be cry?” But Joan actually knows how to administer comforting words, so she talks to the woman and finds out that the girl is her DAUGHTER, and the woman had her when she was fifteen. So… the mother of the abortion girl is 32. And Joan is… older than that?

But, as the mother notes, her daughter seems younger at seventeen than she felt at fifteen. (These days, 30 is the new seventeen.) The mother mistakenly thinks that Joan is waiting for her daughter. Joan goes along with it, lying that her daughter is fifteen.

I wonder if that age correlates with her first abortion.

We don’t see Joan get called in by the doctor, and maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’m not 100% sure that she had the abortion. She shows up at work the next day all chipper and tells Roger that she’s fine. I mean, I know this is Joan’s third abortion, but I’m guessing you’d be in quite a bit of pain the next morning. (I don’t know!) (Seriously, Mom, I don’t!)

Meanwhile, Roger almost has another REAL heart attack, because Douchey McAwful of Lucky Strike announces that he’s cutting off the company’s 30-year relationship with Sterling Cooper. Jerk-face reminds Sterling that he inherited the Lucky Strike account. (And Jerk-face inherited Lucky Strike. So what?)

There’s more father/son going on, elsewhere in this episode. We’ll get to that.

Roger FREAKS, because Lucky Strike is the biggest account they have ($7 million), and he begs for 30 days to get Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s affairs in order.

I hate you.

My first thought was, Can they hire Salvatore Romano now?! Because if you remember, he was fired for rejecting THAT GUY’S advances.

But they can’t hire ANYONE, because the company is fucked. Double fucked, because Don is forced Pete to get rid of the Aviation account. Which Pete cultivated last season, while Don was off gallivanting with the Palm Springs jet-setters. Anyway.

And Roger has to shake hands with that guy, when he really wants to murder him.

So– Don is fucked. Pete is fucked. Roger is fucked. Joan is… un-fucked?

Let’s check in with my favorite enigma, Lane Pryce. England’s finest.

So, Lane’s son is supposed to come visit. Lane has an adorable Mickey Mouse doll and some red, white and blue balloons at the ready. (Which… are both American and British colors, but I’m assuming he’s going for America-ness.) But… little Nigel is nowhere to be found. Instead, Lane’s FATHER shows up, ready to drag Lane back to England.

Uh oh.

So Lane, Don, and Lane’s father (Robert), go to the Playboy Bunny club. (Whatever it’s called.) Lane is a member, and it’s obvious that this Bunny named Toni is his girlfriend. Nice going, Lane!

Meet the parents.

Did you notice that she’s black? That shouldn’t be a problem in 1965.

But good for him! Lane is full of surprises, isn’t he? Under his straight-laced exterior, he’s all kinds of interesting.

Now that I think about it– did we see Toni before this? I think we might have, but my brain is mushy around this. Maybe I’m just having deja vu. (The last woman I definitely remember seeing him with is the New Year’s prostitute.) Either way, it turns out that she and Lane are already in the “I love you” phase of things, and he’s staying in America for her. (Is he divorced? Or just separated? I can’t remember.)

Toni’s not exactly pleased that she had to meet Lane’s father in a Bunny costume during work, so Lane decides to take Robert and Toni out to dinner, so they can get to know each other. Robert is polite to Toni, but backs out of dinner, using the excuse that he’ll be traveling in the morning. Lane sends Toni ahead so that they don’t lose their reservation.

And then… ROBERT SLAMS LANE IN THE FACE WITH HIS CANE! It’s nuts. I thought Lane was going to lose an eyeball, or that his dad was going to beat him to death. Old man justice, you guys.

America may have won the Revolution, but Britain carries a big stick. WHACK!

Out of a really crazy episode, that was probably the craziest scene. And saddest. Because Lane is… what, in his forties? And he can’t do what he wants. He’s still ruled by his father. He’s lying on the floor, totally helpless. Totally bleeding.

And he just wanted to see his son.

So… Lane is fucked. Everybody is fucked.

The partners gather for a meeting, and Pete announces that they lost the Astro-peeps (because Don forced him to, ehrm, abort the mission). Pete doesn’t blame Don. And he sits there and takes it as Roger FREAKS OUT at him. Because as only Roger knows, they also lost Lucky Strike. Triple fucked. (When Joan goes through their roster, he says NOTHING when she reads Lucky Strike. So… he’s sitting on ticking time-bomb.) (Or a missile, if we want to keep with the title/theme.)

I was proud of Pete for holding his ground, even though it’s unfair. He’s a man now. And he’s going to be a father in about 10 seconds. Don does very little to defend Pete, but Bert has the final word. He reminds Roger that accounts come and go. That’s the name of the game.

And Roger says NOTHING about Lucky Strike. ARGH!

Lane announces that since the accounts are all in order (or SO HE THINKS), he’s taking a leave of at least two weeks to put his affairs together in England. And then he just walks out. Gone. Which means he will probably be in London when the shit hits the fan. And he’s the money guy.

DON’T GO, LANE!

Um, are Pete and maybe-pregnant Joan (and absent-from-this-episode Peggy) going to be left alone with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? Is there even going to BE a SCDP by the end of the season? They’ve lost their biggest account, Don’s ready to run at a moment’s notice, Lane may or may not return from England, and Roger and Bert are old and sickish.

Mrs. Blankenship was the canary in the coalmine, maybe. (She died. Sorry, I didn’t recap last week.) (Or maybe I did a small one? Why is my brain so crap?) (I’m drinking so much water! It can’t be dehydration.) (Maybe my brain is waterlogged?)

At the end of the episode Megan brings in the Beatles tickets. She’s like, yay, everything worked out. Can I go now? (It’s 8pm, but the sun is shining. Does that happen in NYC?) (It happens in Vancouver in the summer. I LOVE VANCOUVER!)

Don stands staring at Megan as she reapplies her lipstick. At first I was wondering, is he macking on her? What about Faye?

Then I realized: He’s probably thinking, how can you be so cavalier? You filled out the form that FUCKED ME. And your life just goes on like nothing happened. (But she was just doing her job.) (And he signed it without reading it.) (That’s what he does!)

But hey, the Beatles tickets came through! They were the red herring. (But still, something’s up with Harry.)

It was a great episode, filled with so many “Holy shits!” and moments where I just burst out laughing. I’m probably forgetting some of the funnier moments. Or maybe they weren’t funny, so much as shocking. But this was definitely… wow. We’re on a roll. Which means the finale must be looming.

Okay, time to eat some banh mi! And revel in the fact that I am not any of the “Mad Men” peeps. They are SO fucked.

They’ve all been whacked with a cane, literally or metaphorically. Cut down. Thus, episode 410 is called “Hands and Knees.” Will they crawl out of this mess intact?

Next week’s episode is called “Chinese Wall.” Not “Great Wall of China.” Just “Chinese Wall.”

Let the speculation begin!

xoxo…

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All the Single Ladies: MAD MEN Episode 404 Recap

August 16, 2010

I prefer Pete's blue suits. He rocks the blue suits.

Episode 404, “The Rejected.” Air date: 8/15/10

This is gonna be a REAL recap, so let’s dive right in. No time for dilly-dallying.

Before the episode begins, a title card appears warning us that there will be brief nudity! I was hoping it would be that scene from the season 4 trailer where the woman is naked from the back, but it turns out the nudity is in photographs. (Seriously? I got excited over nothing.) (Although, I’m sure it’s a landmark for AMC.)

Also: This episode was directed by John Slattery, aka Roger Sterling. Here’s an interview about that.

In the first scene, Don and Roger are on a conference call with Lee Something, Jr., the awful Lucky Strikes guy. They are taking turns not paying attention, and Secretary Allison alerts Don every time he actually needs to speak up. Ha. Even before the internet/cell phones etc etc etc, people didn’t listen to each other on the phone.

There’s not even speakerphone technology. Everybody is holding a corded line. Don’s on one phone, and Roger and Allison are on another. Apparently Lee can’t hear Allison’s line? (“He can’t hear you,” Don scorns when she whispers.) But there’s no mute feature, is there? I’m confused. Technology confuses me in every era.

“I would never buy a sailboat,” Roger tells Lee. “I don’t like to do things myself. For that price a boat should have a motor.” TOTALLY. Or a crew! Or… fuck you, Lee. You’re the worst. Why am I even engaging?

Don opens a letter from Anna Draper. Inside, there’s a picture of Anna and Don from his recent trip. “Stephanie doesn’t think we look old,” the letter says, in scrawly don’t-know-I’m-dying-from-cancer cursive.

Don and Roger end the call abruptly by pretending that they’ve looked out the window and discovered that Radio City Music Hall is on fire… and they have to go help put it out? And if you believe that, I’ve got a sailboat from 1965 with your name on it. It’s a steal!

Bad news for Pete Campbell– where the heck have you been, Pete Campbell? SDCP has to drop Clearasil for Pond’s, because Pond’s says so, and Pond’s is the bigger account. Pete’s father-in-law gave him the Clearasil account– or owns Clearasil, or something like that. It’s not… CLEAR to me. (Sorry.)

Pete goes into… Pete’s office? But Harry Crane is sitting at his desk, reading a newspaper. Guess who’s getting married, Harry says. KEN COSGROVE. We haven’t seen that guy since Season 3. But Harry went to the opera with him last month. Ken’s father-in-law “shits gold ingots.”

“My father-in-law’s a bus driver,” Harry laments. “The only place he can take me is to the moon.” (Oddly, that “Honeymooners” reference coincides with a “Honeymooners” clue in yesterday’s LA Times Sunday crossword.)

“Why did you go to the opera with him?” Pete gripes. “He’s our competition… are you always looking for a job?” It’s called networking, Pete. Look it up.

“Look, Pete,” Harry says. “There’s a group of us. We’re all coming up together. You don’t think Kenny’s a comer?”

HAHAHAHAHA. What is UP with that word on TV this year? It was on “Glee,” because Rachel sang “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” And guess what year that musical came out. Yep, 1964. So… what is up with people saying “comer” in the 1960s? WEIRDOS.

Harry tells Pete that they’re having lunch with Kenny tomorrow, and Pete ever-so-gently bangs his head against the wall.

Next we’re in the elevator with Peggy and Marshall’s girlfriend from “United States of Tara,” for the few episodes where Marshall was bi. In “Tara” she was a high schooler in 2010, but now she’s a twenty-something in 1965. And in real life only a few months have gone by. They grow up (and back in time!) so fast.

"Your boyfriend is gay."

So girl-from-”Tara” is Joyce, an assistant photo editor at Life magazine. (Remember when Life existed?)

Joyce is holding a file of rejected photos– naked ladies. (Or, as the refined would say: Nudes.) “My boss hates nudes,” Joyce tells Peggy. “Who hates nudes?” Peggy asks. (Not AMC, apparently.) (But they DO disclaimer them.)

In the Previously On they showed the scene where Peggy tells Freddy that she wants to get married, and now I’m wondering if that foreshadowed Peggy being a very conflicted lesbian. There is a total lesbian vibe happening on this elevator ride. (Remember how the Sterling Cooper elevators had operators?)

I’m sure we’ve seen Pete’s father-in-law (Tom) before, but I never realized that he’s the dad from “Clarissa Explains it All.” (!!!) Today’s guest stars are coming from all sorts of awesome female-name shows.

Those watermelon tumblers are so 1990s amazing.

Pete hems and haws about having to give up the Clearasil account, but Tom cuts him off– he already heard.

“You crazy kids!” Tom crows. Pete is confused. “What are you talking about?” Classic comic misunderstanding in 3… 2…

Trudy’s pregnant! (Whaaa…??) She found out on Monday, but hasn’t told Pete yet.

You guys… wasn’t Trudy infertile? What’s going on?

“I feel like my heart’s going to burst,” Pete says. In a good way or a bad way?

“If it’s a boy, it’s 1000 dollars,” Tom says. “If it’s a girl, 500.” What is he talking about? A gift? How much the baby is worth? Also: Hello, sexism.

Tom realizes: If Pete wasn’t calling Tom here to talk about the baby, what WAS the news? “We’re putting new creative on Clearasil,” Pete lies.

“May you know this feeling many times,” Tom says, re: fatherhood/baby-having. He only has one child, because… Trudy’s mother had her uterus removed? The way Tom says it is very blase. As if she had her uterus removed because it was making her look fat.

I’m guessing something traumatic happened, but Tom doesn’t seem to know. (Well, we saw how involved the men were allowed to be, in the episode where Betty had Baby Gene.) (Zero involved.)

Pete gets home, and Trudy already knows what happened. Her father called in tears. AWWWW. His guilt is adorable to me. Trudy wanted to wait for their anniversary to tell Pete. (I’m guessing their anniversary is soon. It would be funny if it was ten months away.)

Pete, in his typical hilariously clueless Pete way, says, “I want to spin you around but I don’t want to damage anything.”

Pete: This feels different than I expected.
Trudy: How would you know what this feels like?

“Because I had a baby with Peggy, but she didn’t tell me until she’d already given it away?” Pete doesn’t say.

Trudy wants to tell her father about Clearasil, because he can’t be mad in the middle of all this happiness. “Tomorrow night. Yankee pot roast,” Trudy declares. She is totally the woman behind the man. Too bad the man is not worthy. (Also: Yankee pot roast? Tee hee.)

It’s weird to think that Trudy is probably younger than me. And it’s maybe weirder that the thing that most makes me think “I don’t know how women do it back then” isn’t the fact that she’s married, or pregnant– it’s her ability to make a Yankee pot roast. I don’t even know what that is!

And yes, I fully acknowledge that plenty of people– including small children– know how to cook in these modern times. And plenty of girls my age are married and having babies and/or running households. But for now I’m going to stick with what I’m good at– namely, eating food I didn’t cook, watching TV, and blogging. (And whether or not I’m good at blogging is up for debate.)

But I’m open to learning how to cook! (Hey boys.) Or dating a guy who cooks. (Double hey, boys.) (This is going to tie in well with Dr. Faye Miller’s storyline, which is rapidly approaching.) (Actually, it’s right now? PERFECT TIMING.)

Hey girl hey!

Dr. Faye Miller, advertising psychology expert (or something like that), is interviewing the young single secretaries at SDCP in order to figure out how best to advertise Pond’s.

For the panel, Faye’s pretending to be young(er) and single. (But… don’t the secretaries know who she is? Whatever, apparently they don’t… she’s very clandestine when she comes to visit, I guess.) Faye changes from her business clothes into a Joan-esque blue one-piece. (Did she borrow it from Joan’s Single Ladies collection?) She takes off her wedding ring (so… I guess she won’t be the one marrying Don?) and gives it to Peggy for safekeeping.

Faye is upset that they didn’t make her a name card, because she wanted her name to be spelled wrong, so she could seem unimportant. Instead, she goes into the panel and says, They didn’t even make me a nametag! Little old me, I’m definitely not important enough to run this panel!

I guess she doesn’t want to seem like an authority figure because she wants the secretaries on the panel to open up to her, but now that I think about it… is she also trying to play down her authority because she’s a woman? Even though she’s presenting herself to other women? Definitely some interesting gender politics at play here. (Note: Don, Freddy, and Peggy are watching Faye through a two-way mirror.) (The male gaze!)

In the semi-dark observation room, Peggy tries on Faye’s wedding ring. As we say in the TV world, Don clocks this. (AKA he sees it happen.)

“Your financial future’s in the hands of a roomful of 22-year-old girls,” one of the men says ruefully (I think it’s Freddy). Get used to it, Freddy.

Faye makes a big deal out of eating a danish and talking about her beauty regimen. (First thing’s first, probably stop with the danishes.) (She actually mentions watching her weight at some point and kind of laughs about it, like oh haha). (Faye is like me and this blog. I blog, Haha, eating all this ice cream is going to make me fat! Hilarious! But then I sign off from my computer and put on my fat skinny jeans and cry.)

Eventually the other girls start eating the danishes. Power of suggestion! As soon as you get girls eating danishes, they are moments away from CONFESSION.

The front-desk receptionist (Megan) talks about how her French mother washes her face with just perfect-temperature water and fingertip pats. And amazing genetics, obviously. I kind of want to punch my TV.

“She’s amazing,” Peggy says, and I can’t tell if she’s talking about Megan or Faye. Peggy’s been drinking the Lezbionic Tonic (which, I learned this week, only works if you’re already a lesbian).

The Rejected? (That's the episode title, folks!)

I almost had caption-block again, and then I remembered the title of this episode: The Rejected. And these women were specially picked for this panel because they are unmarried/single. Awww.

One secretary is named Dotty (she points out that “dotty” also means… idiot, basically) (poor Dotty), and starts talking about her ex-boyfriend and how he didn’t really notice her. (Story of my life, Dotty.) (Story of a lot of lives, apparently.)

Secretary Allison says, in a small voice, “It’s worse when they notice, sometimes.” Obviously referring to the whole thing with DON HAVING SEX WITH HER. She’s PTSD’ing over it. (Totally justified.)

Next thing you know, Dotty is crying and telling stories of her ex. “How the hell did this get so sad so fast?” Freddy asks. HA! Women + danishes + ex-boyfriend stories… what do you expect? Off at the end of the table, poor Allison is crying quietly to herself. Obviously she can’t discuss her issues. I don’t even know if she knows that Don is watching.

(The presence of hot-Megan is not helping things. Hot girls just make non-hot girls feel terrible about themselves. Especially girls with naturally hot French mother genetics.)

“You can only do your best with what God gave you,” Dotty says. “I gave him everything, and I got nothing… it’s not what I see, it’s what he sees.” The male gaze! And also: UGH.

Allison exits the room, overcome. For some reason Peggy feels responsible, and goes to talk to her.

“They just want to get married,” Freddy says in his simple Freddy way. “They’ll buy anything that’ll help.”

Peggy catches up with Allison, in Don’s office (I think). “You must have gone through everything I’ve gone through,” Allison says. Peggy was Don’s secretary season 1, right? “He’s a drunk, and they get away with murder.”

I don’t know exactly what the deal is, but Peggy gets mad. “Your problem is not my problem,” she huffs at Allison. “You should get over it.”

Nice, Peggy. Great job at comforting.

I have to wonder what made Peggy decide to go after Allison. They’re not friends. And even more than that– what set Peggy off? Was it Allison’s harsh (and more or less accurate) appraisal of Don? Has Peggy put him on a pedestal? I mean, she knows his foibles, but he IS her mentor.

But my gut feeling is that Peggy is… I don’t know, I think deep down she might be hurt that Don never “noticed her,” as Dotty would say. She may be the one secretary he didn’t sleep with. Peggy’s reaction might be kind of like, “Fuck you! I wasn’t pretty enough?”

Is PEGGY going to marry Don? She is apparently hell-bent on getting married. Or is she a lesbian? (Is she a lesbian who would marry Don anyway?)

At any rate, Peggy is a real bitch to poor sad-face Allison.

Pass the Lezbionic Tonic.

It’s time for lunch with Kenny Cosgrove, the accounts man who also writes short fiction! Welcome to Season 4, Ken!

But wait, those ganefs at CBS are screwing Harry again. By calling him on the phone at lunch? Whatever, Harry is trying to be so Hollywood now.

Harry: Those ganefs at CBS are screwing me again.
Pete: Those what?

The question I wrote was, “Is Harry just using Yiddish because he’s been in CA? Or is he supposed to be Jewish?” Rich Sommer (who plays Harry Crane) tweeted last night that HE (Rich) isn’t Jewish, and I have a feeling that Harry isn’t either. I mean, his wife’s name is JENNIFER. (There are Jews named Jennifer NOW, but I don’t think there would have been, back THEN.)

At any rate, it’s funny. And of course Pete wouldn’t know a lick of Yiddish. Total goy.

So Harry goes to the phone, and Ken takes the moment to confront Pete: Don’t say shitty things about me behind my back.

Wait, did Ken say shitty on TV? That’s what I wrote down, but I can’t tell if it was a quote or just my paraphrase. But they’ve said “shit” on “Mad Men” before… I think. And… there were nudes, you guys. [Movieline heard it, too. So there you go: Ken said "shitty."]

Pete’s like, Whaaaa? Because as we saw at the beginning, he hasn’t really been keeping track of Ken or thinking much about him.

“You didn’t call me an all-American idiot who fell into everything?” Ken asks in disbelief. “I heard that you told your wife that I was driving the [famous bloody foot] tractor.” (Poor Guy!) He also heard that Pete said he’s marrying for the money. And it turns out that Trudy is friends with the fiancee. Double awk.

Of course of course of course, Harry is just telling Ken all these lies, which are really how HARRY feels. I’ve totally had shit like this happen to me, where a friend attributes his or her opinion to me, and suddenly I’ve got some angry third-party friend calling me and asking why I gotta diss them so hardcore. (Because my friends are Eminem?)

Pete just shrugs and takes the high road. “I apologize. Mea culpa.” Then he shakes his head and adds: “Textbook Harry.”

Now I HOPE Harry’s not Jewish, because he’s making us look bad. Especially in 1965! (But he is helping spread the use of Yiddish? Even though… ganef is fairly obscure these days? Am I right?) (I thought it was spelled “goneth.”)

Ken is… at some agency that he likes okay. McCann bought out Sterling Cooper, and it sounds as though he left McCann (he says, in the non-PC lingo of the times, that McCann was full of “retards”). Maybe he’s at Duck’s agency? Who knows. Maybe they said where he is, but I didn’t catch it.

Ken also says some stuff about turning Mountain Dew into Pepsi. I’m not really following that, either, but it reminds me of turning water into wine. Oh, the Biblical weight of advertising!

Pete tells Ken about the baby. “Another Campbell,” Ken quips. “That’s just what the world needs.” Ken also says that he can’t wait to have a family. He’s so adorable. Hopefully he and Pete become besties, and Pete brings him to SCDP. (I mean, Pete’s a partner. Time for him to do something partner-y.) (Full disclosure: I don’t really know what it means to be a partner, but it sounds important.)

Don walks into his office, and finds Allison… still crying. Awww, I want to hug her. (But not in a Joyce way.)

“This actually happened…” Allison says. “We made a mistake, and I feel like it’s awkward, and it’s better for both of us if I move on.”

She wants to work for a WOMAN (yes!) at a magazine (she heard about it through a friend, I think), and asks Don for a letter of recommendation.

“Type up whatever you want and I’ll sign it,” Don says. OH NO HE DIDN’T.

This is the thing: All Allison wants is some ACKNOWLEDGMENT. She was an awesome secretary and he never seemed to notice, and then he had sex with her and blew her off and acted as if everything was the same. Allison did EVERYTHING for him. She bought his kids their CHRISTMAS presents. All she wants is to have a letter, in HIS words, saying that she was a great employee. And he’s like, Nahhh, you can write it.

As the modern-day equivalent of an Allison, I can tell you– the ONE thing that can really make your work day amazing is getting praise from your boss, when your boss doesn’t HAVE to notice or approve of you. And the ONE thing that can make it suck the most is feeling as though your boss is disappointed in you, or doesn’t care about you.

Telling Allison to write her own letter of recommendation is the equivalent of saying, I can’t spend a second on you, you’re totally generic to me, whatever whatever. He’s totally denying her the validation and closure that she needs and deserves.

So I think Allison is totally justified when she throws some decorative thing at Don and shatters a picture hanging behind his desk. That’s the secretary-in-the-1960s equivalent of whooshing out through the airplane chute.

“I don’t say this easily,” Allison says, before storming out. “But you’re not a good person.”

Well, she’s probably not going to be the one who marries Don, either.

Joan totally knows what’s up, and pops her head in. “Would you be open to Allison returning in a couple of days?” Hahaha. Yeah… don’t see THAT happening. Allison MEANT it when she stomped outta there.

Don turns to get a drink, and Peggy spies on him through a glass window at the top of their adjacent offices. (At first, I thought she was Don’s daughter, Sally. Mega-creepy!)

Peggy’s secretary buzzes in. Joyce has come to visit! She’s in reception, checking out water-face Megan.

Peggy: Do you want to come back and see my office? (OOOH.)

Joyce can’t, but she invites Peggy to a party/installment that the nude-ladies photographer is throwing, at Washington Market. I googled it to see if it was some sort of gay Mecca, but all I could find out is that it was razed because of… something to do with the building of the Twin Towers. (Everything razed is razed again?) (Too soon?)

I wrote at this point in my notes that it’s funny to me that Joyce is “the lesbian,” because she was the token straight ally on “Tara.”

Okay, time for some Yankee pot roast! (We don’t see it.) (Awww.)

Pete actually mans up and decides to talk to Tom for himself. He sends Trudy to show her mother how they’re going to turn the maid’s room into the nursery. (Wait– they have a live-in maid? In their apartment? We’ve never seen her.) (And now I can feel a little less bad for not being a domestic goddess.)

I forget what Tom says, but I wrote down Pete’s response. “Every time you jump to conclusions, Tom, you make me respect you less.”

“I’m done auditioning…” Pete says. He wants the bigger accounts that Trudy’s father has (possesses? controls? I don’t know). He lists a bunch of famous ones. I wrote down Vicks, as in Vapor Rub.

“You son of a bitch,” Tom says. I’m not sure if he’s mad or proud or both. I think he’s proud, because Pete’s manning up. He’s going to be a father! He’s going to provide for Tom’s daughter (and grandkid).

Not this daughter. The other one.

Don’s the last one at the office, by far. A man is waxing the floors. It’s really late. The man waxing the floor is black. Which is only important in juxtaposition to the next scene…

Cut to: Peggy’s at a party. Black people are there. So you know it’s a hep, cool party, full of tolerant-ish people. (And this kinda makes me miss Paul. Remember Paul’s party? It had black people, too.)

“You look swellegant,” Joyce tells Peggy. I’m generally a major fan of combined words, but swellegant… I don’t really understand how swell and elegant intersect. To me they’re on two different poles, because swell feels male and elegant feels female. And I’m sure somebody in a gender studies or linguistics class could write a thesis on this topic.

I can see how it works in an androgynous context. Like, this photo of La Roux is kinda swellegant.

All false love and affection. You don't like me--You just want the attention.

I love La Roux. I put those lyrics in the caption as an excuse to use some La Roux lyrics, but they apply perfectly to a lot of relationships in general, and specifically to a lot of relationships on this show.

“All false love and affection. You don’t like me–You just want the attention.” (-I’m Not Your Toy)

I mean, look at Allison. That was basically her sentiment toward Don. And Don this season– he has been all about getting up every skirt possible, in a desperate way that doesn’t seem to match the Don we used to know. He’s needy this season. He doesn’t have anybody to go home to at the end of the day.

But back to the party. (That digression was brought to you by the word “swellegant,” which is growing on me… maybe.)

A person in a bear head walks by. “Jesus,” Joyce says. “I thought I needed a lot of attention.” (“You just want the attention.”)

Joyce is high. Peggy gets high. Let’s all watch La Roux’s “I’m Not Your Toy” video. It ALSO takes place at a party with some cool black people, and will make you wonder if YOU are high.

Dear Allison: After you’ve digest that, move on to “Bulletproof.”

This is the part where I wrote, “Where is Mark?!” in my notes. Mark is Peggy’s boyfriend, you’ll recall. They spent New Year’s together… supposedly.

During the whole getting-high thing, Joyce leans in for the kiss and Peggy resists. “I have a boyfriend,” Peggy says. Yeah, but WHERE IS HE?

Joyce: He doesn’t own your vagina.
Peggy: No, but he’s renting it.

HA. But also… curious. (Bi-curious?)

Back at his apartment, Don’s in a bit of a drunken stupor. He begins to type a letter. “Dear Allison…” The part we can see says, “I’m very sorry. Right now my life is very…” But it doesn’t matter what else it says, because he crumples it up and throws it out. Honestly, I thought (and was hoping) Don was sitting down to write the recommendation. Allison didn’t ask for an apology.

Can I just say, why do guys always make so many excuses for being shitty? It’s always, “Oh, I’m in a really bad place,” or, “Things are weird with my ex,” or, “I really need to put my career first,” or, “I’m still depressed about the Holocaust.” Man up, guys.

It’s just weird to me that Don started writing up an excuse, as if… as if he actually did need to explain it all to her? As if he she meant more to him than they both realized?

I mean, without a wife and with Anna’s impending death, all Don has to take care of him anymore are a secretary and a housekeeper. So you can see how he might project weird stuff onto Allison, because here she is, managing his life. It’s kind of wifely.

But back to the party. (By the way, there are experimental anti-Catholic films being projected onto the walls. Becomes important later.)

So high right now.

Is Peggy’s outfit cool for a party? I’m not sure. (Does she look like a hornet?) I think she has more style than before, so I’m going to give this one to her. (Lots of people want to kiss her, so she’s doing something right.) (Can I borrow your hornet shirt, Peggy?)

Peggy wants to meet the photographer. Joyce calls over a friend named Abe. He’s wearing a leather jacket, he’s not the photographer, and he reminds me of Jason Segel, though I’m not sure exactly why. Personality, I guess. He’s easy to talk to. (I say that as if I know him.)

Abe’s a writer, and he finds out that Peggy’s a writer, too. (By the way, everybody’s yelling to be heard. Love it.)

Abe: What do you write?
Peggy: I’m a copy writer.
Abe: But what do you write?
Peggy: That IS writing!
Joyce: You’re not working on something else?

HAHAHAHAHA. Best exchange EVER, not only because everybody always wants to know what you’re working on, but also because certain types of writing get so much more respect than others.

But also… Peggy’s not working on anything else? (Haha, I know… I’m doing it, too.)

Davey Kellogg comes over to talk. HE’S the photographer. First of all, Peggy feels obligated to tell him that she’s Catholic. Ha. But she’s okay with the films. Thanks for your permission, Peggy. That wasn’t at all awkward.

Peggy asks Davey if he’d be interested in doing some work for SCDP. Davey doesn’t understand WHY he’d want to get paid for art. Peggy’s like… to support yourself? Haha.

“Art and advertising?” Davey pish-poshes. “Why would anyone do that after Warhol?” Why WOULDN’T anyone do that after Warhol?

“Sorry,” Abe says. “For somebody to sell their soul they’ve gotta have one.” With friends like these, who needs enemies? (But truly, Davey seems like a soulless jerk-off.)

Something happens like a raid? The lights go off and there are all sorts of bells and whistles. I was still thinking it was some sort of Stonewall situation, but apparently it’s the anti-Catholic films.  Peggy and Abe end up hiding in a closet. (Peggy’s in the closet. GET IT? GET IT?)

Peggy asks Abe if he’s ever been arrested, and he says that he has. He was writing about a boycott and refused to leave, so he got arrested with the protesters. Anything for the story. But he didn’t actually stay the night in jail, because his sister came and got him.

There’s something so endearing about the way Abe tells it. You see that his leather jacket is the front for a sensitive boy-man. Oh God, I would totally date him and hate myself for it later.

“I feel like I should kiss you,” Abe says. (Because you’re in the closet! Haha.) (To be fair, Abe is probably straight.)

So Peggy and Abe kiss. (Nooooo! says Mark, who isn’t there.)

Trapped in the closet.

Can I just take this moment to say that Peggy and I seem to have the same type? I am always in love with her love interests. I would gladly date her rejects. Come to me, Peggy’s rejects. I will gather you all in my bosoms, and I will not dump you for Joyce.

Joyce opens the door, interrupting the kiss, and lets them out of the closet. Hahahahaha. SYMBOLISM.

“Are they beating people?” Abe wonders, sounding a little too hopeful about it. “They took the film,” Joyce says.

Hold up: WHO took the film? Does the Catholic church have a police squad? Were political films illegal? I’m confused. (NINJA PRIESTS!)

“I should see this,” Abe says, hilariously. He’s ridiculous, but at least he’s passionate. “It could be a story. How can I find you?”

“I know where she is,” Joyce says. She knows where Peggy is, all right– literally, and metaphorically.

And then they run down the street together, reach an intersection, and look confused.

Where are we going-- literally, and metaphorically?

The next morning, Don gets a new secretary– An old lady named Miss Blankenship. On the phone, she refers to Lane Pryce as Pryce, Lane. Oops.

“What’d you do to make them take her out of mothballs?” Sterling asks. “She was working in Cooper’s apartment.” I imagine that she was working in his apartment as his like 70-year-old sex slave. Especially when Sterling adds that Cooper works with no pants on.

Turns out that Pete is signing Vicks’ entire chemical cough line. SCORE! They’re all going out to lunch.

Don tells Miss B to reschedule Dr. Miller. At first I went, Doctor?! Don has a secret disease! But it turns out Dr. Miller is Faye.

The art guy is back. I think his name is Joey (his REAL name is Matt Long). He and Peggy are talking about nudes.

Joey: We had nude models in school. You knew right away whoever had the best drawing was going to get her.

HA. Also: Makes sense. (MALE GAZE.)

Out of nowhere, Peggy says, “Did you know Malcolm X was shot last Sunday?” (Way to change the subject, Peggy.) Joey’s like, Yeah.

And that’s about all we get of that historic event. Somewhere, somebody thought that the whole season would revolve around this, and is PISSED.

And Malcolm X is totally rocking the Don Draper pose in this picture. Maybe he INVENTED it.

I make this look good.

A secretary comes in with a card and says that they’re sending a bottle of champagne to the Campbells. Joey signs the card but won’t contribute to the gift. Don’t we all wish we could be so bold?

Peggy sees the card and realizes that Trudy’s pregnant. She doesn’t sign the card, and she walks out of the office. I thought she was going to the bathroom to cry into a bucket. But… she goes to Pete’s office to congratulate him.

Of course, Pete’s whole thing this episode is conversation confusion, so he think she’s talking about the $6 million Vicks account. No, she corrects him, the baby. She’s happy for them.

Peggy returns to her office, where she gently bangs head against her desk. Oh, Peggy and Pete, secretly knocking your heads against white surfaces. So perfect for each other. (And somewhere their kid is banging his head against a crib.)

Faye comes to Don’s office, because the secretary is old and crazy and told her that Don needed to see her urgently. She tells Don that she’s rejecting his hypothesis. (Basically– Don and Peggy wanted to emphasize the routine of Pond’s cold cream. Looking in the mirror, feeling indulgent.)

“I’d recommend a strategy that links Pond’s cold cream to matrimony,” Faye tells him. “A veiled promise.”

“Hello 1925,” Don says. “I’m not gonna do that.” Um, I’m pretty it’s more like, Hello 2010. Isn’t advertising STILL selling the promise of romance?

“I can’t change the truth,” Faye says.

“How do you know that’s the truth?” Don rails. “A new idea is something they don’t know yet, so of course it’s not going to come up as an option.” True, but… did you watch the panel, Don? Faye reminds Don that she said “routine” and “ritual,” but what the women actually care about is “husband.”

“You can’t tell how people are going to behave based on how they HAVE behaved,” Don protests. Methinks you doth protest too much, Don. Is Don begging for his own salvation, here? Because I think we can tell EXACTLY how he will behave, based on how he HAS behaved. And he knows it too. See: Allison.

“You think I’ve never had this argument before?” Faye says.

Don rants about how none of this proves anything, getting people to talk. It’s nobody’s business, blah blah, Don’s crazy secretive bullshit.

Remember, it was FAYE who predicted that he’d be married within the year. And the veiled promise of matrimony… is that what just happened with Allison? There’s some kind of theme going on here that has to do with Don and marriage and how this advertising is getting too close for comfort. As a result… Don’s mad at Faye!

Come to think of it… everybody else who got divorced on this show already had somebody lined up. Roger had Jane. Betty had Henry. But Don went back to shitty bachelorhood. He was good at single-guy stuff when he had a wife. But now that dating MATTERS again, he’s sucking at it. And he can’t bag the hot young chicks anymore. Or if he does, there are consequences. (See: Allison.)

Oh, Don. Your life is so ironical. It’s like… A TV SHOW.

Peggy lies on the couch in her office. Misery. But then… Joyce calls her. Lunch in 5? You betcha!

Joyce and her friends (male and female) have a crush on Megan at the front desk, so they hover outside the glass doors in their hipster-of-the-times clothes.

Meanwhile, the SCDP suits, Pete, Tom, and the Vicks guy stand in the lobby, waiting for Don. Everybody’s shaking hands, excited to do business together, blah blah etc.

Peggy invites Megan to lunch, but she can’t. (Do people really take lunch? I guess they do when they’re not Megan or me.) I wonder for a second if Peggy has a crush on Megan? Or if this is just about people being on different levels and not connecting?

For a second I wondered if the Joyce group would make some sort of scene in front of the Vicks group, but they two parties don’t seem to notice each other. Except– Peggy and Pete catch eyes as she waits for the elevator, on the other side of SCDP’s double glass door. They exchange sad smiles. Two different worlds.

Now that Peggy is a maybe-lesbian in a world before gay rights and expanded fertility options, I wonder if she’s kinda sad that she gave up the baby. Like, she can’t really have a traditional family (which… Pete is about to have) unless she marries a guy. (I imagine her finding the kid she gave up one day, in a reverse version of “The Kids Are All Right.”)

Don’s returning to his apartment at night. A very old woman is also returning to her apartment, and her husband stands expectantly in the hall. They are ANCIENT.

“Did you get pears?” the old man demands, three times. (This seems significant– Biblical, perhaps?)

“We’ll discuss it inside,” the woman answers, finally. Cryptic! She totally holds the power in this relationship, and they’ve obviously been together forever, and she takes care of her husband.

And Don… is all alone.

And Peggy… is all alone.

The cheese… is all alone.

My bum… is all alone.

This episode made me feel lonely, dudes and dudettes. After it was over and I emailed myself these notes, I went and watched the marriage parts of “The Young Victoria” and cried, wishing I could have an epistolary romance with a handsome, sensitive German prince. (Overshare?) (But NOT wishing that the prince would die young and leave me with NINE kids. Sheesh, Albert.)

For that matter, I wouldn’t mind kissing a sensitive writer guy named Abe Drexler (played by Charlie Hofheimer– thanks, credits) in a dark closet. (Speaking of credits, I thought the music over the credits was really pretty this week.)

Drexler… is that Jewish? German? (Whatever. Good enough.)

(Have you noticed that network TV shows have set credits music, and cable shows have different music every week? Luxuries of cable!)

Next week: Betty wants Don dead? But probably not in a hire-a-hit-man way. That’s not this show (… yet).

Well, that took up the better part of my day. I slaved away at it. Consider this my Yankee pot roast.

And now that I’ve explained it all…

I have that exact expression on my face right now.

… time to go tap some water on my face and hunt for a man!

Na na na na na naaa… all right all right!

Until next week. Can’t wait to see which strange allusions or guest stars I’ll be able to fixate on.

xoxo…

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