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In honor of tonight’s Mad Men finale, I’m reblogging my original Season 5 premiere post. Will my dream finally prove prophetic?

The Lower Crust

“In dreams begin responsibilities,” or so they say. In my case it’s more like, “My responsibilities begin in dreams.” Despite being a kinda-sorta creative person during my waking hours, my sleeping mind has the personality of an accountant. Or a to do list.

Other people, at least some of the time, get to spend their evening hours riding atop unicorns or evading vampires. I get this:

So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago I dreamed the season 5 premiere of Mad Men.

Let me clarify — I didn’t dream that the show was on, or that we were watching it. I dreamed the episode itself.

It opened with a slow, steady shot of 1980s (yes — 80s) New York City, closing in on a sign reading “Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.” Inside the building, young ad execs flitted around in snappy Reagan-era suits. The camera slowly moved towards…

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This week’s installment of Marketing Mayhem covers all things epicurean (or at least edible).

Exhibit A: Marketing, Minus the Sense

I’m not usually the flavored coffee type, but I was forced into this caramel blend when the coffee place ran out of regular dark roast. To my surprise, it was actually subtle and tasty — a solid four stars. The marketing copy, however…

Huh? First off, “Minus the apple” is a super awkward way to start a sentence. The lack of a comma makes it even more confusing – I think the first time I read it I wondered what they meant by “apple this coffee.” Are commas not cool anymore? Are we in a no comma trend? They’re handy, people. Use them.

The tone is also strange, and almost apologetic… like this was meant to be a country fair themed flavor, but they ran out of weird apple flavor chemical or something. It’s not like caramel is ONLY eaten at fairs, like cotton candy or funnel cakes. Why can’t they just describe the flavor using generic adjectives like “rich” or “smooth” like every other coffee brand?

Exhibit B: You’ve got Spunkmeyer

Simply put, spunk is not a word you want associated with your baked good.

Exhibit C: Napkin Ads: Not a Thing

I was tickled to spy this super odd innovation in restaurant advertising at a local cafe. An ad on the little paper thing that holds your cloth napkin — wonders never cease! And what does this little piece of promotional paper have to tell us?

That our CD rate might suck! Bon Appetit, old man.

Film is dead. Okay, well maybe not dead. But it’s near death. Like a circa 2006 Blockbuster Video, the film industry is in the phase of downfall where it still technically exists but no one remembers that it’s there. Until the Academy Awards roll around and everyone’s like huh right, yeah. And then we all forget again.

My nostalgia for the golden age of mainstream cinema is probably what compelled us to go see Jupiter Ascending. And there is no more perfect analogy for the fall of the film industry than this movie! The once proud Wachowski’s — architects of the first Matrix movie (the others don’t exist to me) — have been reduced to making an extra long episode of Stargate:SG1. This, combined with the fact that Hollywood just made a Hot Tub Time Machine 2 means art is officially dead. But here’s the good news: movies are now so bad that they’ve circled back on themselves and become great again! You know, ironically.

The first thing you need to know about Jupiter Ascending is that it is a “splice” (to use the movie’s own goofy jargon for genetic hybrid) of every space, sci-fi, and fantasy movie you have ever seen — ESPECIALLY bad, recent ones.

A scene from the actual movie. I know!

This is actually a remarkable creative achievement. They’ve managed to make a single (somewhat cohesive) film just by combining elements from the more recent Star Wars movies, Guardians of the Galaxy, Twilight, that bad Matt Damon movie with the thing orbiting over earth, that bad Tom Cruise movie with the clones, and the other bad Johnny Depp clone movie. Except everything is a little bit dumber. To give you a sci-fi analogy, if those other movies are Star Trek, this movie is Star Trek: Voyager (burn).

Some important plot details: Mila Kunis is a secret space princess. Channing Tatum has magic flying space boots. There’s throwaway dialogue about Channing Tatum being a wolf hybrid that reminded me a lot of the scene in Dark Shadows where the daughter says “I’m a werewolf, deal with it” and they don’t mention it again for the rest of the movie. For no reason, some of the aliens look like crocodiles. I could go on and on. The plot is like a never-ending clown car where every clown that comes out is a ridiculous idea.

There’s also a crazy, yet somewhat fabulous, space wedding.

The second thing you need to know about this movie is that you really should see it. This is not a depressing bad movie (e.g., Snowpiercer) — it’s dumb, entertaining, fun, harmless… did I mention how dumb it is? You will love it . Trust me: I was in the theater for The Wicker Man — probably the best bad movie since Troll 2 — and it was glorious. It was opening weekend so everyone went in expecting a spooky thriller. Within the first ten minutes, the audience course-corrected and began openly mocking the dialogue and laughing at facial expressions and music cues. For a brief moment, I imagined a future where mankind could work together in harmony. You do not want to miss an experience like that.

If you’re on the fence about forking over $15 to see this in theaters, please PLEASE check out The Mary Sue’s amazing and inspiring review of this wonderful, terrible movie.

Today’s edition of The Anthology of Pizza Box Graphic Design brings us to Picnic Pizza in Kingston, NY. Like so many excellent New York area pizza holes, Picnic is located in a cement building minutes away from the highway.

Don’t be alarmed by the aforementioned cement and the casual use of neon — this place is gourmet at its best. During our last visit, Mr. Max, Lena and I shared 4 slices: white with broccoli, eggplant parm, tangy roasted tomato and mushroom, and classic tomato basil (natch). All were exceptional — bold flavor, crisp crust, and the perfect amount of sauce. Massachusetts has NOTHING on this.

Before we left, we made sure to snap a pic of their collection of pizza box designs (assisted by the ever-obliging counter staff).

Box #1:

A somber take on the city scene genre. In addition to the tiled streets and brick buildings, this abandoned square features a stone fountain flanked by adorable decorative plants. Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be any water in the fountain. And where are the people? Is this a post-apocalyptic city? Is that a drone in the sky? Should I stop watching so many war documentaries?

Box #2:

Another quaint city scene. I’ve reached the point with TAOPBGD where i have to search my own archives to find out whether or not I’ve reviewed something. It turns out I’ve seen this one before, albeit in a color scheme I termed “autumn vomit.” It looks much better in traditional pizza box red and black ink, and I definitely appreciate the classic script font. Look at those swirls and loops! God I just love tacky fonts. (Take that, Helvetica.)

I’m going to be upfront here and disclose that I drank two pints of theater beer during this movie and although these were not potent drinks I may have blacked out for the last 20 minutes. It reminds me of the time I nibbled on a xanax before taking the GRE subject test in biochemistry and molecular biology. By the end I was just filling in random scantron bubbles and giving zero shits.

Clocking in at 3 hours– about as long as it takes one to complete the GRE subject test– Interstellar became as trying an ordeal for me as it was for Matthew McAstronaughey and the rest of the mission crew. What I’m trying to get at here is that it simply wasn’t very good– certainly not as gush-worthy as so many seem to think. It was an extended remix of Gravity, Contact, 2001, Apollo 13, Moon, and maybe even a little Powder and E.T. sprinkled in there too. The only thing that was able to hold my attention after a certain point was McConaughey’s complete and utter hotness. Like most people with a brain and two eyes, I have been reveling in the so-called McConaissance ever since “True Detective.” In Interstellar he’s both a rugged Carhart-wearing farmer AND a sexy astronaut– SPLOOSH.

Ahem. Anyway, if you want pith, I’ll give you a one-word review: Intersmellar. But, because I had to sit through 3 hours of it, I’m going to bloviate.

Hour one:

Everyone on Earth wants to pack up and head to another habitable planet because they are forced to reenact Ken Burns’ “The Dust Bowl,” which, as we know, is super boring. Old people are interviewed, black and white photographs are slowly zoomed in on– all that’s missing is a mournful violin whimpering out Ashokan Farewell.

We meet the family McConaughey (Cooper and his kids Murphy and Tom) and boy do they love Science. Mom is out of the picture for whatever reason, and Cooper takes the kids on irresponsible adventures like plowing through a cornfield in his pickup truck to fly the family drone around a quarry. Murphy, affectionately “Murph,” is a tomboy and very obviously Cooper’s favorite of the two kids.

Hey kids, let’s play a game called “foreshadowing”

Murph (very unscientifically) thinks that there is a ghost in her bedroom because books keep falling off her shelf. Cooper calls her out on her illogical thinking, but Murph has been taking careful Rainman-like notes documenting the patterns of which books fall. When she leaves her window open during a dust storm and sees some perfectly normal looking lines on the dusty floor she and dad make a giant conceptual leap that “it’s gravity!” I’m all “whuhh?” Wikipedia helps me not feel so dumb by describing this part of the plot thusly: they discover the “ghost” is an unknown intelligence sending coded messages using gravitational waves, leaving binary coordinates in the dust that direct them to a secret NASA installation led by Professor John Brand (Michael Caine).

Oh.

It’s like they wadded up a bunch of sci-fi and threw it at my face. It was jarring and felt unfair.

Hour two:

Michael Caine is in charge of Secret NASA and his most memorable (and irksome) character trait is that he quotes “Do not go gentle into that good night” FIVE TIMES throughout the movie. I guess we can add The Cider House Rules to the movie melange.

“Goodnight you prince of Space, you king of the Universe”

He’s also dying, like the old guy with cancer who funds the space travel machine in Contact. His daughter, Anne Hathaway (Amelia), is a biologist (a nice “soft science” for a pretty lady). Cooper makes a shitty remark about her looking too good to be a scientist and I hate McConaughey for about a second– until I see his glistening cheekbones and degrade him in my mind– he’s too pretty to be a scientist.

Toss in a couple sarcastic robots and some expendable crew members, and they’re ready to boldly go explore habitable planets. Murph is heartbroken and extremely pissed that dad is going to space and literally leaving her in the dust, and she has decoded some more book patterns into a message reading “stay.” He doesn’t. He gives her his watch. We’re supposed to cry now.

Sadsville: population Murph

The all-star crew is whisked off to space towards some planets scattered around near a black hole that have been identified as potentially life supporting. I don’t know what these people were smoking when they decided this, because the first planet is just a planet-wide ocean with giant killer waves. Water only equals life when it’s not drowing you. Amelia tries to haul some data storage machine that’s floating around back into their spacecraft but is doing a real bad job so Expendable Crew Member (ECM) slogs out to try and help. Amelia makes it back to the craft, but the other guy does not. Then everyone is mean to Amelia because she sucked. And is a woman.

We definitely need this wet machine that will probably contain data telling us NOT to try and establish civilization here

Cooper’s all pissed off because on this planet for every one hour spent on the surface, years pass on Earth. This is because it is too close to the black hole, and is yet another reason this planet sucks. He is concerned about Murph growing old without him (still couldn’t give two shits about whatever the son’s name is) and she’s indeed now 20-something years older. She’s followed in dad’s footsteps (but is still super pissed at him for leaving) and is now working with Michael Caine to solve the money equation that will let them harness gravity to launch humanity into space. But after Michael Caine wheezes out a few more do-not-go-gentles, he admits that he made everything up and there is no way to get everyone up into space. It’s a lot like grad school. He packed a bunch fertilized embryos from god knows who and figured we’d just begin anew. Murph is, like, WAY pissed and also assumes that dad knew this all along.

“Shut the flux up.”

Hour three:

Up in space, they try for a second planet inhabited by Matt Damon– always a bad idea. Matt Damon is stationed on an ice planet– again NOT habitable; someone seriously needs to get fired– and lures the crew so he can try to get the fuck out of there. He’s gone crazy in the hostile and isolating environment and tries to kill Cooper when they arrive by smashing his helmet. Lots of explody stuff happens and we lose another ECM and Matt Damon. Amelia does something right for once and rescues Cooper, swooping him up like a Rescue Ranger.

Now we get into the hot and heavy screamy-fake-science-word-commands time, followed by wormhole visions (a la Contact). This is where I start to black out. Again, I defer to Wikipedia’s total WTF-inducing plot summary:

Nearly out of fuel, Cooper and Amelia plan to slingshot Endurance around Gargantua on a course toward [the third “habitable” planet]. [Snarky robots] detach into the black hole, sacrificing themselves to collect data on the singularity and to propel Amelia by dropping the ship’s mass. They emerge in an extra-dimensional “tesseract“, where time appears as a spatial dimension and portals show glimpses of Murphy’s childhood bedroom at various times. Cooper realizes the alien beings have constructed this space so he can communicate with Murphy and save humanity. Using gravitational waves, Cooper encodes [robot’s] data on the singularity into the adult Murphy’s watch, allowing her to solve Brand’s equation and evacuate Earth. Cooper awakens years later aboard a NASA space station and reunites with the now elderly Murphy, who has led humanity’s exodus. Murphy advises Cooper and [robot] to search for Amelia, who has begun preparations on [the third] planet.

The “slingshot” move has totally been used in another space movie, maybe Apollo 13 or Gravity. Using gravitational waves to encode the singularity onto a wristwatch has not been used in any other movies because it is stupid. Anyway, Anne Hathaway ends up stuck on the third planet, doomed to toil away raising the embryos in another kind of dystopian grad school scenario, while Cooper’s snug as a bug in a space station. I’m sure he’ll get around to finding her sometime.

And then Neil deGrasse Tyson says “for every hour you spent watching this movie, you aged 20 years!”

SURPRIIIISE you are almost dead!

“Why not,” I asked myself, standing in a gas station. Now I am seated at my desk, indoors, vaping away; my mind races from the droplets of nicotine mist percolating in my alveoli. Am I experiencing the sensation of modernity? Let’s defrag this a little.

“Hey can I bum your laptop to charge my electronic cigarette?”

“Algorithms”

“The VUSE Digital Vapor Cigarette contains a Vapor Delivery Processor that uses algorithms in the same way a computer does, therefore we refer to it as ‘digital’.” Of course algorithms! I hated simple exothermic reactions anyway. Are menthol algorithms different? Will less-complex algorithms be used in “light” e-cigarettes? Is it possible to hack into an e-cig and get it to generate bitcoins with every drag?

See, when I want a cigarette it’s usually because I’m trying to avoid algorithms.

0s and 1s may increase your risk of brain cancer

“Great tasting vapor experience”

This is true if you consider huffing the dust at the bottom of a box of Lucky Charms to be a great tasting experience of any kind. It’s like there are cereal marshmallows stinging your lungs. Those are my complete tasting notes.

These marshmallows were sorted using an algorithm

Indoors vs. Outdoors

Let’s be honest: what’s the point of smoking a cigarette if you’re not going to freeze in the cold and come back smelling disgusting? And even if all you do is release quickly-dissipating puffs of breakfast cereal smell, people are still going to look at you like a criminal for vaping at your desk. It just happened to me.

Yeah?

Ergonomics

I just weighed my VUSE and it weighs 16.02 grams. I’d estimate a real cigarette to weigh about one gram. If you try to hold your e-cigarette in a jaunty, care-free manner, its burdensome weight makes the unit hang limply between your digits. In this way, the VUSE e-cig is not digital.

Overall, this is nothing like smoking an actual cigarette– for better and worse. Cereal does have a nice taste, and those little marshmallows are probably carcinogenic anyway.

BONUS IDEA: throw some Lucky Charms in a humidifier and create the World’s worst hookah.

I’ve had 2 glasses of wine, Mr. Max is trying to synthesize a Halloween costume out of household items, and there are 3 loads of urgently-needed dirty laundry congealing in the basement. Despite these facts, I’m honoring my commitment to Lena Webb to post a brief write-up on The Purge 2: Electric Boogaloo Anarchy. If that isn’t deep friendship, I dunno what is.

We (Me, Lena, and Mr. Max) watched this “movie” during a weekend getaway at my parent’s cabin in rural New York. The purpose of rural vacations is to do as little as possible, and pay-per-viewing a bad sequel to a bad movie I never saw (and don’t plan on ever seeing) embodies the best kind of lazy hedonism.

How was it? It was $6.00 well spent. Despite being a cheese-fest, The Purge 2 did not disappoint. The basic premise — continued from the first movie — is that the government allows one Murder Day per year where people can legally go open season on each other. Apparently this is supposed to make the world better or end poverty or something?

There’s a mom and daughter, who we call Not Rosario Dawson (AKA Rosario Dawson, but cheaper) and a… well, the daughter character wasn’t memorable enough to give a funny name.

Despite the whole murder-is-legal today thing, NRD and daughter don’t act very worried. As the sun sets, Mom is making a salad and I think the daughter is doing homework? I feel like I’d be, like, huddling or something. Or at least listening to The Smiths.

Then we meet this indie divorcing couple, who make NRD and daughter look super prepared…  by going grocery shopping at DUSK (!) on All Murder’s Eve. We call the girl Etsy and the guy Gluten Allergy because you know why. They get hassled by some street hooligans who sabotage their car so they have to escape on foot.

You just HAD to go to Trader Joe’s.

Last but not least we meet our rough-around-the-edges hero: Sean Penntel.

He’s angry and broken, but he’s got a gun and a car so everybody hangs around him for protection. Then they lose the car for a reason I can’t remember and have to scamper around the city on foot avoiding roving bands of gangs and stuff. They go to NRD’s friend’s house but the people there are having affairs with each other and start legal murderin’ so they leave. (Mr. Max pointed out that they probably could’ve hid in a dumpster all night and been fine. But they don’t do that because MOVIE.)

Eventually they all get captured by some bounty hunters and auctioned off to rich socialites for, NOT JOKING, an indoor human hunt. The whole thing becomes super derivative of The Hunger Games. Then Sean Penntel fights back and some resistance group that was only mentioned incidentally comes and rescues them all, well except for Gluten Allergy who was killed for being too big of a wuss. Then Sean goes to finish his secret mission, which was to kill the drunk driver who killed his son. He decides not to do it because ETHICS and then a government guy comes to kill him because he’s too anti-purge. The credits roll over some heavy-handed images of American flags and stuff and it’s supposed to be deep and message-y.

And then we all went home.