Welcome Back, Mad Men

I confess. I am completely, whole heartedly, unabashedly on the Mad Men bandwagon. In my defense, I have loved it since season one. A friend's roommate introduced me to it one night. She asked if I watched it and when I said no, she tried to explain what it was all about. To be honest, it sounded awful to me at first. I didn't really care much about some advertising agency in the sixties. She insisted it was great, so when I got to my little hovel, I mean room, back at school, I decided to give it a watch.

The first few minutes of the first episode didn't do much for me. I was kind of bored even though the show was visually stunning. But it was basically about privileged white people in the sixties; how could it not be beautiful with a good cast and costumer, right?

What kept me watching, however, was the accuracy and the alien-ness of the little things. I watched in horror as Betty yelled at Sally for wearing a plastic dry cleaning bag over her head--not for the suffocation danger, but because she had just brought it home and didn't want her cleaning ruined. The Draper kids bounced around the car without seat belts. Sexism was completely normal in the office even though everyone seemed so much more proper and put together.  It was fantastic to see a show that didn't glorify the era with too much nostalgia--although, I think there is a lot of that associated with watching the show--and worked with the actual details of the time instead of fiddling with facts and/or requiring too much suspension of disbelief.

So, the details caught my attention, but ultimately I fell in love with the story and its characters.

Unfortunately, I was unable to watch season 3. I moved home after grad school and we didn't have AMC or a good enough ISP for me to download episodes. I resigned myself to avoiding online spoilers--which I did until last Friday--and buying the season when it came out on DVD. Then, I decided to search our satellite guide and much to my surprised I found that we had AMC and I would be able to watch season 4! I spent the weekend reading as many recaps as I could so I would know what happened in season 3.

Season 4 premiered last night and while I felt a little lost with some of the new characters, I loved the episode. It's interesting to see where everyone is in their lives.

This is going to be a stream of consciousness of my reactions: Don and Betty's situation is more depressing than ever. I think Don is having a harder time holding his facade together (helloooo masochism). Betty is icier than ever. That cold shrug she gave after Don asked why Gene wasn't at the house was awful. And her new husband is creepy. Get your own house you lazy bum. What kind of '60s man are you? I hope we get enough seasons to see Sally Draper reach her teens. Her dynamic with Betty will be even more strained with women's lib becoming more popular. Peggy is pretty awesome. I've always loved Pete even though he's totally nuts and I would probably want to take a shower if I met him in real life to wash the "ick" off. It's amazing that a show with so many un-likable people (I've read others calling them all antagonists) is so popular. Oh, and thank you Joan Holloway/Christina Hendricks for making me proud of my "childbearing hips." More Joan. And more Roger "Silver Fox" Sterling. Preferably together.

I did miss some of the characters that didn't appear in this episode. I hope they show up later. I know Mad Men is more of a slow burn, which is what is so appealing about it. I like to re-watch episodes for little clues about people/the story. It's nice to have a show I can do that with. Someone described it as a beautifully produced and written soap opera. I'd agree with that for the most part. Now only if it were on daily so I could get my fix of this side of the sixties.

Thanks to my reunion with Mad Men, I've been spending my evening looking at vintage clothing/hairstyles and old movie stars. I even started reading a bit about how to pull off some vintage styles now. I know it's a lot of work, but I'd love to wear some of those incredible clothes from the 40s, 50s, and early 60s. Garter belts? Stockings with seams? Wiggle dresses? Yes, please. I'm considering trying to pin curl my hair tonight. This should be a hilarious disaster. Down the rabbit hole I go? As a lover of history it's my duty to look at beautiful fashions from the past and drool right?

I'll leave you with a photo of the stunning Sophia Loren. How amazing would it be to look like this for a day?

(If you like vintage style, I highly recommend checking out this forum: The Fedora Lounge. I've been reading page upon page for the past little while. It's very interesting to see people so dedicated to vintage style.)

Hello world!

Hello world is right! I guess for my first post I should give you a little explanation of why I chose the name "Ham and Histoire" and what I'd like this blog to be.

Three things I love are travel, history, and food. One day I was watching a show called Spain. . .On the Road Again. It features Mario Batali, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Bittman, and Claudia Bassols traveling around Spain eating, drinking, and touring beautiful places. On this particular episode, Bassols and Bittman (aka Bitty!) traveled to one city and arrived in the morning just in time for breakfast. I can't remember what city it was, but Bittman stated that Claudia was "there for ham and history." There I was, lounging on my couch in pjs thinking "hey! Me, too! Now why am I not on this show?"

I chose to change the title a little, exchanging "histoire" for "history" because it gives me a little more leeway since "histoire" translates to both history and story in French. I'd like this blog to be about things I love, certainly not just history and food. I hope it is light, fun, and a way for me to share all the things that excite me. I'm sure there will be a lot of imaginary trip planning.

So why travel, history, and food?

My love for travel began when I was 8 when my parents took my on my first European vacation. Luckily it was nothing like the Griswald's experience of their European vacation; it was magical, fun, and fascinating. I came away from the trip with wanderlust years before I even knew there was a word for it.

Since then, I have been lucky enough to take quite a few European vacations with my family. Each trip just serves to make me more excited about traveling. There's always something new to see, learn, or experience. Lately, my family and I have started revisiting places and renting cottages or apartments for a period of time. This kind of "slow" travel has allowed us to explore places more deeply. It has also fostered my burning desire to move to Italy, but that's another story. Suffice it to say, if you were to ask me to pack my bags and meet you at the airport with my passport and a suitcase, I'd probably jump at the prospect.

My love for history probably began around the same time as my love for travel. I remember visiting a beautiful, mysterious castle somewhere in Switzerland. I don't remember exactly where it was or which castle it was, but I have a very strong memory of wanting to know everything about it and to explore every nook and cranny--even a creepy staircase that led to pure blackness, despite my fear of the dark. By the time we left the castle, I had lived a few different imaginary lives there and was convinced it was somehow related to Robin Hood. Fast forward to about 18 years later, and I recently completed my Masters degree in History. Now that I'm out of school, I'm allowing my imagination and my factoid investigator sides to meet each other. I'm rediscovering historical fiction, reading the books I want to read, falling in love with/exploring stories, periods, and historical people I wasn't able to while in school. My current obsession is Marie Antoinette's Hameau and the Petite Trianon at Versailles.

My love for food probably started pretty early, also. I know my parents tell a story of me eating hot salsa like it was going out of style at age 3 when we lived in New Mexico. I'm not much of a cook, though. I'm more of a baker, but I love great food in general. Ham makes a lot of sense in the title for me since it (especially bacon) is probably what keeps me from ever being able to be vegetarian. When I was in high school and could sleep around 20 hours a day if given the opportunity, my parents would throw some bacon in a pan when they wanted me to get up. As soon as the smell wafted up to my room, I was up and ready to go. You know that commercial with the dog and beggin' strips? Yeah. I think my parents must have secretly sent those advertisers a video of me and bacon. Who needs Folger's coffee around when you can have bacon?

So that's that. A long (sorry!) explanation of why this blog is called Ham and Histoire. I hope to make this a nice place to come and share interesting thoughts/tested recipes/read books/travel obsessions/history musings and more. I can't promise my writing will be up to snuff all the time. I'm more relaxed about grammar and editing now that I'm out of school, but I promise I will try to do my best! Hopefully this will help keep my writing skills a little sharper than they have been lately.

So, welcome. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy your stay.