WEIRDLAND

Monday, June 18, 2012

Jake Gyllenhaal in "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet" by Nick Payne (Roundabout Theatre)

"Michelle Gomez and Brían F. O'Byrne will join the previously reported Oscar nominee Jake Gyllenhaal in the Roundabout Theatre Company's Off-Broadway production of Nick Payne's If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet. Michael Longhurst will direct this American premiere at the Laura Pels Theatre, August 24-November 25, with an opening on September 20.

Nick Payne is a graduate of the Royal Court Young Writer's Programme. His first play "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet" opened at the Bush Theatre in October 2009 and received a very strong response from critics with the Evening Standard calling it "a comic tour de force" and the Financial Times "a knockout".

"If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet" set at Bush Theatre

The play centers on bullied 15-year-old Anna, whose unexpected friendship with her estranged uncle Terry sends her parents' rocky marriage into a tailspin. The design team will include Beowulf Boritt (sets), Susan Hilferty (costumes), Natasha Katz (lights) and Obadiah Eaves (original music & sound).

Hayden Christensen and Jake Gyllenhaal in "This Is Our Youth" (Theater, 2002)

Gyllenhaal, who will play Terry, made his stage debut starring in Kenneth Lonergan's revival of This is Our Youth in London, winning an Evening Standard Theater Award for "Outstanding Newcomer."

He received an Oscar nomination for his work in Brokeback Mountain, and is also known for his performances in films such as Donnie Darko and Love and Other Drugs. Source: www.theatermania.com

Still of Minka Kelly in the film "The Roommate" (2011)

"Us Weekly reports that Jake Gyllenhaal recently enjoyed a brief but ultimately unsuccessful romance with Minka Kelly. "It was never serious," shrugs a source of the pair's handful of dates, "and it's over now."

Too bad, because the actor, 31, had apparently been harboring a crush on the dark-haired looker, 32, for a while. According to the mag, he asked her out last fall, but she gave him the brush-off because of her on-again, off-again three-year romance with New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

"Minka wasn't into Jake when he first pursued her," sums up an insider. Source: wonderwall.msn.com

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kristen Stewart smokes marijuana in "On The Road" (2012)


In a recent interview, Robert Pattinson's Cosmopolis co-star, Sarah Gadon, talked about her working relationship with the Twilight heart-throb.

She also talked about comparing RPattz to her new co-star Jake Gyllenhaal through their respective fans on Twitter. Sarah Gadon admitted that she didn't know Rob before working with him on Cosmopolis. So what did she really think of Kristen Stewart's man, who "unintentionally became an icon after all the madness from Twilight?"

He's a great guy," replied Gadon without a moment's hesitation. "Of course he has a crazy life, but he deals with it very well. I don't know how he does that. I knew he had done Twilight, but I've never even watched it, I didn't know how famous he was. All I can tell you is that he's very nice and down-to-earth."

"It's interesting," Sarah mused, "every time I get a new co-star, I sign up for Twitter and I get all their fans. And so it's kind of interesting to compare Pattinson fans and Gyllenhaal fans. You get to see what kind of fans they draw."

Unfortunately, Sarah kept discreetly mum about whether she was a bigger fan of Robert Pattinson or Jake Gyllenhaal. That was extremely classy of her. Or not. Maybe she was just afraid of Kristen Stewart. Source: celebs.gather.com


Kristen Stewart in Vanity Fair – July 2012 – Behind the Scenes

"Kristen Stewart may be a huge A-list star, but she still lives life as a “weirdo, creative Valley Girl who smokes pot.”

In the July 2012 issue of Vanity Fair, the 22-year-old actress opens up about how her life changed upon the release of Twilight in 2008.

“You can Google my name and one of the first things that comes up is images of me sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe with my ex-boyfriend and my dog,” she says. “It was taken the day the movie came out. I was no one. I was a kid. I had just turned 18.”


“The next day it was like I was a delinquent slimy idiot, whereas I’m kind of a weirdo, creative Valley Girl who smokes pot,” she continues. “Big deal.” Source: www.hollywoodlife.com

Garret Hedlund, Kristen Stewart and Tom Sturridge at the premiere of "On The Road" in Cannes, May 2012

Kristen Stewart as MaryLou in "On The Road" (2012) directed by Walter Salles

In the film Kristen's character is seen topless, smoking marijuana and indulging in group sex – but the 22-year-old relished the challenges of the role. Speaking of the sex scenes, she said: 'Obviously everyone who does scenes like that the first thing you say is: "Oh I felt so safe." Source: www.metro.co.uk

In 2001, researchers identified 122 compounds used in mainstream medicine which were derived from "ethnomedical" plant sources;80% of these have had an ethnomedical use identical or related to the current use of the active elements of the plant.Modern practitioners - called Phytotherapists - attempt to explain herb actions in terms of their chemical constituents. In 2002 the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health began funding clinical trials into the effectiveness of herbal medicine.

Many of the herbs and spices used by humans to season food yield useful medicinal compounds. Synthetic Marijuana is gaining popularity: Fake weed products are legal, and their use has grown since they were first introduced in 2002. They don't trigger a positive result on a urine drug test and are marketed as being "100% organic herbs".

Specialisation is an important issue for herbal treatments in Herbal City LLC and also their dosage necessary to determine the most effective (especially in relation to things like body weight, drug interactions, etc). Several methods of standardization may be applied to herbs. One is the ratio of raw materials to solvent. However different specimens of even the same plant species may vary in chemical content.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Context of Mad Men (and Mad Women)

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) in "Mad Men" (Season 5, Episode 13 "The Phantom")

"What happens to Peggy after she joins Cutler Gleason and Chaough?" Responding to the first question, creator Matthew Weiner said, "You have to watch." However, the writer made sure that fans will see more of Peggy as he told New York Times, "She's still part of the show. So far. We want to know where she is in this world." He coyly added, "I can't tell you what's planned for her, but there she was." Source: www.aceshowbiz.com

"The Fifties were hypocritical and secretive ... on the surface it was such a happy, lovely time, but it wasn’t like that at all, it was what we pretended, and underneath was exactly what’s happening today : the broken hearts, the looking for love, the lies, the fears." -Jaffe cited in Montagne, 2005. While author Rona Jaffe is here recalling the historical context for her first novel, The Best of Everything, published in 1958, her words have resonance for viewers of Matthew Weiner’s hit show, Mad Men, despite the show’s storyline beginning in 1960. “The Fifties” lasted longer than the decade from 1950 to 1959, and are not bound by those end-dates.

January Jones and Jon Hamm as Betty and Don Draper in "Mad Men".

Mad Men is a cultural phenomenon that reflects upon a past era, and exposes a time thought glamorous in its innocent sophistication. It celebrates a time when American consumer capitalism dominated the world discourse through brute strength. With unemployment nearly as high as it was during the Depression, with a bitter war being fought in a distant land, with a country split between conservative aggression and liberal paralysis, Mad Men allows us to pause and reflect on how the ebb and flow of history affects us and how change, no matter how small, is both frighteningly unnerving and assuredly inevitable.

Peggy makes a successful bid for Freddy’s office, she is earlier seen exploring the open-plan secretarial floor late one night. A close-up reveals Peggy searching through someone’s desk drawer ; she filches a cigarette, lights it and exhales happily. Then a longer shot shows her stretch luxuriously and sensuously, before wandering off across the office space, usually public, but at night her own private playground. When she inherits Freddy’s former office, Peggy’s pleasure is even greater. She enjoys moving in, having an office boy carry her things, hav ing the other male creatives envy her. She also inherits Freddy’s bar, and is found later by Pete enjoying a solo whiskey. See Elisabeth Moss & Joel Murray in "Mad Men": http://youtu.be/YqU-2QAYWYk

Christina Hendricks as Joan Holloway in "Mad Men"

Gloria Steinem writes in her biography Marilyn/Norma Jean: “She personified many of the secret hopes of men and many secret fears of women”. In the episodes “Maidenform” and “Six Month Leave”, Joan is read by men as a Marilyn-figure and associates herself with the ’50’s screen star and, now, cultural icon. In “Maidenform,” Paul Kinsey pitches an idea to Don on marketing Play tex bras, pleading a case that all women are either a “Jackie” Kennedy or a “Marilyn” Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe in 1950's

If Joan is Marilyn, then Betty can be read as a “Jackie”: the wife-and mother who looks after the house and the children. In the same episode he pitches the Play tex campaign Don tells Betty that he doesn’t like her new bright yellow bikini. Betty’s swim gear covers as much if not more than the underwear the Playtex model poses in for the campaign’s image, but Don tells her that the bikini makes her appear desperate.

Don firmly separates motherhood and sexual desirability in his own life — going outside his marriage to fulfill his sexual needs. So, while the men at Sterling Cooper may say they want both a “Jackie” and a “Marilyn” we are shown that they want them in different women, not as two sides of the same, as the Play tex campaign implies. “Six Month Leave” positions Joan with Marilyn Monroe, and specifically, with Monroe’s tragic death.

Joan and Peggy both grow significantly throughout the first two seasons of "Mad Men." From the first episode, when Joan instructs Peggy on how to use her sexuality to get ahead, to later, when Peggy’s realization that her intelligence is all she needs, both women achieve a personal growth that makes them exciting to watch. “A Night to Remember” ends with Joan rubbing her shoulders where her bra strap has dug in, symbolizing the weight she carries on her shoulders as a woman in a patriarchal society.

Episode one of "Mad Men": “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” immediately introduces viewers to the women in Don’s life, juxtaposing Betty as the model suburban wife and mother with counterpart Midge Daniels, the first in a series of mistresses, as well as a bevy of Sterling Cooper secretaries, most with marital ambitions as pointed as their brassieres. Medically speaking, the notorious Victorian “madwoman” is an umbrella figure that runs the gamut from the psychotic murderess to the stifled woman with a nervous cough. She is Betty Draper with her numb hands, or Betty’s gal-pal, Francine, who fantasizes postpartum about poisoning herself and her family as vindication for her husband’s presumed infidelity.

In the nineteenth century she is most commonly the “hysterical” woman, like Peggy Olson protecting her respectability by mentally repressing her full-term pregnancy with a complete psychotic break. Pedestrian rhetoric, however, is apt loosely to brand any woman who deviates from the norm as “mad.” Madness, therefore, is a label that envelopes any woman who moves beyond that realm of femininity that is familiar and, thus, viewed as “natural.”

Just how natural this learned femininity is, however, extremely suspect, as argued famously by John Stuart Mill in The Subjection of Women: “What is now called the nature of women is an eminently artificial thing — the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others”. Mill argues that women’s (and presumably men’s) nature can not truly be known since it is manipulated and distorted from infancy into becoming the socialized, gendered creature we recognize, yet the product is so pervasive that we attribute the result to God’s design instead of our own making.

The fallen woman is a familiar warning to the Victorian reader, but the plight of this figure is much farther reaching. Peggy, for example, is merely another in a long literary tradition of fallen women. British letters alone gave rise to infamous eighteenth- and nineteenth-century examples of fallenness: Clarissa, Moll Flanders, Lady Dedlock, Tess Durbeyfield, Ruth, Esther Waters, and the Lady of Shalott. Beyond England, European authors contribute Emma Bovary, Anna Karenina, and Hedda Gabler. Given our shared literary heritage, America also demonstrates a clear preoccupation with women’s virtue and the fallen woman: Charlotte Temple, Hester Prynne, Crane’s Maggie, Ellen Olenska, Edna Pontelier, Carrie Meeber and Jennie Gerhardt, Daisy Miller, and Lena Grove.

Consequently, most of the women of Mad Men are “fallen” if held to a Victorian standard, and, if not, are at least sexually loose if held to the acknowledged sexual standard of their day. Even if women in 1960 are on the brink of sexual revolution, remnant feelings about female respectability — being the type of girl you marry rather than the type of girl you “date”— nevertheless linger, and this tightrope walk is evident in the struggles of Mad Men’s women.

Interestingly, when these images metaphorically depict the fragility of domestic harmony — as implied through subtle icons like the house of cards — this usually implies that the responsibility lies with the woman since it is her indiscretion alone that will tear the family asunder. In the Drapers’ case, the threat is twofold: aside from Betty’s infidelity, the second threat is that Betty might not take Don back which, again, would result in the collapse of the family structure.

This scenario, in fact, plays out at the end of Season Three when Betty blames Don for ruining every thing (“The Grown-Ups”). Don, as usual, deflects responsibility, recognizing only that it is Betty who seeks to “break up” the family when she hires a divorce attorney (“Shut the Door. Sit Down.”) -from "Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays" by Scott F. Stoddart

Saturday, June 09, 2012

"Mad Men on the Couch" (Analysis of the main characters)

“You are the product. You feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do, and they hate us for it.” -Don Draper in the episode "For Those Who Think Youn" (Season two, episode 1)

"Mad Men" has captured the imaginations of millions of viewers, winning fifteen golden globes and four Emmys.

Perhaps more than the gorgeously stylized visuals and impeccably re-created history, it’s the show’s richly drawn characters stumbling through their personal and professional lives that get under our skin and keep us invested. In "Mad Men on the Couch", Dr. Stephanie Newman analyzes the show’s primary characters through the lens of modern psychology. Lending her trained professional eye, she poses and expertly answers pressing questions such as:

Why does Don constantly sabotage himself? Why is Betty such a cold mother and desperately unhappy housewife? (Hint: It’s not just because her "people are Nordic.")

Why does Pete prevail in adversity when Roger crumbles?

Why is Peggy able to rise profesionally in the male jungle of Madison Avenue when Joan can't? Can these characters ever really change?

"Things are looking up for the men and women of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP) in 1964. Don has managed to extricate himself from an unhappy marriage and has made a fresh start with Megan, his gorgeous secretary. The admen have freed themselves from the British agency that had taken over their company.

And Joan and Peggy have each been promoted. But, as always, appearances do not tell the whole story. Sure, the office and the people within it look great. The new agency’s sleek lines and design are in the style of Mies van der Rohe, and evoke an open atmosphere. But while the ever-so-modern glass partitions may be transparent, the characters within remain closed off, their relationships complex and opaque. Don’s true identity; Roger’s most recent dalliance with the firm’s office manager, Joan, and her resulting pregnancy; as well as Peggy’s history with Pete and the birth of their child all remain closely guarded secrets.

Don’s office romps with Faye, Megan, and others are also kept secret—until he can no longer conceal them. And while the fledgling firm gives the appearance of prosperity—with 1960s op art and abstract prints adorning the walls, a C. Jeré sculpture in the entranceway, and Danish modern furniture at every turn—what lies within the modern, stylized rooms is pure turmoil: Lucky Strike, which generates the lion’s share of revenue for the partnership, has announced that the agency’s services will no longer be needed. Glo-Coat Floor Wax defects soon after, despite the shiny Clio Don was awarded for his work on their campaign.

After this one-two punch, SCDP’s finances become so precarious, it is unclear whether the agency will survive. With business so tough, the stakes are financially, professionally, and personally high for the agency’s employees. They have all bet big on the firm’s success—and on one another—leaving the stability of Sterling Cooper for this fledgling agency. Peggy thrives at the office; the workplace provides a major source of gratification for her. Pete bets big on his partner; he loses a $4 million government contract, a huge portion of the business he has brought in, to protect Don from a routine background check (Season 4, Episode 10, “Hands and Knees”).

And Don needs SCDP to survive, perhaps more than the others. The agency is his home, professionally and psychologically. At least three of Don’s partners (Roger, Bert, and Pete) know that Don has a secret past—and they accept him despite his deception.

Without the agency, Don might have fewer opportunities for employment. He is hiding a fake identity, after all, and not every agency would let that slide. He needs this job; without colleagues like Roger and Peggy to look over his shoulder, and a home to go to at the end of the day, he might fall apart. In psychological terms, Don is someone who desperately needs outside supports like rules, conventions, deadlines, and tough-love confrontations to function. His life becomes especially difficult after his wife, Betty, insists on a divorce and quickly remarries, for example. At his nadir, Don’s solace is whiskey, his companions outside the office mostly waitresses and prostitutes, and his life nearly spirals out of control. Just what would happen to Don without a professional setting on which to hang his hat and define his place in the world?

DON DRAPER, MADISON AVENUE’S MARLBORO MAN: Tall, dark, and handsome, stoic and macho—Don is a silver-tongued image-maker who is himself a creation, having stolen the identity of the real Don Draper, a soldier who died serving in Korea. Like the Marlboro Man, the iconic brainchild of admen, the “new” Don exudes confidence, self-assurance, and masculine strength. But for him and the cigarette icon, the machismo is merely a veneer; what lies beneath is darker and more complicated. The actor who played the Marlboro Man is ultimately killed by the very product he hawks, and serves as a cautionary tale and a metaphor for Don’s life. Draper and his colleagues suffer under the brutal pace and nature of the advertising game —a ruthless pressure cooker that threatens to destroy those who earn their living making images.

Duck and Freddy develop crushing alcoholism. Roger has two heart attacks at the office. Though Don seems to thrive under work pressures when we first meet him, he begins to fold as his unhappy home environment and secret past close in on him. As his true identity and extramarital affairs become known to his wife, cracks begin to show in Don’s refined and competent veneer.

BETTY DRAPER, THE ORIGINAL DESPERATE HOUSEWIFE: A classic beauty from a privileged background, Betty receives a top-of-the-line education and goes on to marry a rising and talented adman, Don Draper, with whom she lives in a picture-perfect house in a wealthy Westchester community. But her glamorous veneer unravels in tandem with her husband’s emotional struggles. Soon after Don and Betty set up their beautiful home with their 2.2 children, we see the Drapers begin to grow apart. Don buries himself in his work, seems unable to give much emotionally or communicate with his wife, and has many lovers. Betty fantasizes about cheating with an air-conditioning salesman but remains loyal to Don, though she ultimately does have a one-night stand and an emotional affair with Henry Francis, the man she will marry a short time after the Drapers divorce. Though Betty has all the trappings of wealth and privilege, she has become increasingly desperate and lonely throughout the series thus far.

Being married to a man like Don Draper might explain some of Betty’s emotional difficulties, but fans of the show are frequently puzzled by the way in which she grows angrier and angrier, even after her marriage to Don has ended. Some participants in a recent online vote on a popular Web site have even urged Matthew Weiner to kill off her character entirely. Why is she so reviled? Is she merely the angry, rejecting woman fans love to vilify? Like all the others on the show, Betty is more complicated. Her actions are in large part a result of living during an era in which women had few choices, while her psychology reflects her family of origin. We learn, in fact, that what has prevailed is a “like daughter, like mother” scenario; when Betty was a child, her own mother was very much like her, if not worse.

PEGGY OLSON, THE CAREER WOMAN: Peggy, buoyed by her ambition, refuses to be stymied by convention or traditional gender roles. Single-minded in her pursuit of a career, she gets ahead at work and breaks free of traditional male-female boundaries in ways other woman of her time, like Betty and Joan, do not.

Traditional sex roles held that women were subservient and complementary to men —they served as “looking-glasses” for them, as Virginia Woolf famously decried in "A Room of One’s Own". Women were not supposed to compete with or challenge men by taking away jobs and entering the workforce. Sociologist Helena Lopata noted in "Occupation: Housewife" in 1971: “Women [were] expected to move from birth and home-centered childhood into school attendance for a time sufficient to find a husband, but not so long as to waste valuable youth on knowledge used only for a short time. The next appropriate stages [were] work … [marriage], giving birth to a limited number of children, rearing children, caring for the retired husband, widowhood, and death.”

It was not easy to stray from the social script. Though Peggy refuses to adhere to the rigid constraints of the era, she risks being stigmatized by her refusal to marry or devote her primary energies to the care of men and children.

PETE CAMPBELL, THE BULLDOG: While Pete may be one of the boys when it comes to his devaluing attitudes toward women, he ultimately undergoes a bit of personal development that allows him to break from the group and move ahead of them in his attitudes. We see him become a father and get closer to Trudy. These relationships seem to help mature him and allow him to develop more of an awareness of the needs of others. Likewise, Pete distinguishes himself from the others in terms of his professional standing within the agency.

He urges his reluctant wife to compromise her ethics and induce a former flame to publish one of Pete’s short stories in a national magazine. He cheats on her multiple times. At work Pete is also cutthroat and devious. He takes a confidential report out of Don’s trash and shares the results with a client in the first of many attempts to go head-to-head with Don at the agency. And though Pete strives to be one of the gang, he does not seem to fit in. He tries to befriend Don, but to no avail. Though his manner is initially off-putting (Don wants to fire him for attempting to break the chain of command but cannot because of Pete’s name and connections), Pete ultimately finds a place for himself and learns how to blend in. He and Don forge an alliance that works, as long as Pete does not challenge his authority.

ROGER STERLING, THE BLUE BLOOD: Roger is cocky, full of bravado, and an elitist. He laughs his way through serious situations, quipping about Miss Blankenship, “She died like she lived, surrounded by the people she answered phones for”. -from "Mad Men on the Couch: Analyzing the Minds of the Men and Women of the Hit TV Show" (2012) by Stephanie Newman