Detective Sally and the mystery of the Mad Men

Sally Draper books are always interesting.

Sally is always interesting.

Sally, more than perhaps any (Peggy, Peter aside perhaps) is forced to navigate the era, adapt and grow. She does this by constantly listening, watching and learning. Her outbursts drive her mother crazy because she hits on exactly what is going on and Betty fuggin’ hates this.

It is always awkward to have a child see truth and comment on it.

Her books as well are a journey. As she advances, grows and becomes more and more wise, so do the books she’s reading.

The first Sally book was Nursery Friends From France, read by her mom when she was little and a princess who felt her father hung the moon.

Now, she’s reading Nancy Drew: The Clue of the Black Keys, Carolyn Keene.

Here’s the synopsis of the 28th book in the Nancy Drew series:

Terry Scott, a young archaeology professor, seeks Nancy’s help in unearthing a secret of antiquity which can only be unlocked by three black keys. While on an archaeological expedition in Mexico, Terry and Dr. Joshua Pitt came across a clue to buried treasure. The clue was a cipher carved on a stone tablet. Before the professor had time to translate the cipher, the tablet disappeared – along with Dr. Pitt! Terry tells Nancy of his suspicions of the Tinos, a Mexican couple posing as scientists who vanished the same night as Dr. Pitt. Nancy and her friends follow a tangled trail of clues that lead to the Florida Keys and finally to Mexico in this suspense-filled story that will thrill readers.

I had not read a Nancy Drew book before this one. They’re very fun. Like Anne of Green Gables, which I finally read as an adult, I get why they are popular and you girls get obsessed with them. I have a niece I intend to read these to when she old enough not to rip the pages and, you know, get it.

Back to Sally.

She sneaks onto a train in S4E09 (The Beautiful Girls) and is found by a lady avoiding the conductor.

“I didn’t have enough money,” said Sally to her incensed father.

“Men never know what’s going on,” the lady says to Don.

Sally wants to see her dad and doesn’t want to wait. Don freaks, makes her stay in the office then Faye Miller takes her to his place as his secretary – Miss Blankenship – dies. Dang! Some people just have a day, right?

Sally then starts investigating. Who is Faye? Why does she have her dad’s keys?

“Why did she know you have peanut butter Dad?”

Sally Draper

At first, things are charming, but as the mystery of her absent father is discovered, things change for Sally. Things will continue to change for Sally.

What’s charming turns real, and this is the first time she really feels it. No, she can’t stay with her dad. No, her dad is not the gallant knight she believed. Yes, he will let her down. He will always let her down.

The title of the episode plays into Sally’s choice of book: the detective novel. Sally is not the only one doing detective work.

The beautiful girls (Faye, Peggy, Joan, Megan and Sally) are all investigating, detecting, navigating and learning.

Peggy learns that all the social justice warrior ethic in the world can’t trump a man’s need to be a man and save a woman. Ugh, Abe Drexler is just so punchable.

Joan gets mugged at gunpoint, has sex with Roger on the street, and makes a quick decision by analyzing the facts. She has already learned this lesson. She regrets nothing, but is married and that is that. Sorry, Roger. You’re a child.

Speaking of children, Faye learns who Don is and that’s all for her. Ciao doctor.

Miss Blankenship has already learned.

“She was born in 1989 in a barn, she died on the 37th floor of a skyscraper; she’s an astronaut.”

– Bert Cooper

Remember the astronaut reference for later.

There is a moment in this episode worth mentioning. It’s one of the moments that make you remember that this may be one of the best shows ever written.

Sally falls when running away from her father in anger.

It is Megan who picks her up. It is Megan who knows what to say to her. It is Megan who solves the mystery.

“I fall all the time,” says Megan.

The following scene is Don and all the beautiful girls.

Megan at the desk, Faye, Peggy, and Joan stand near the door while Betty and Sally chat.


The Chrysanthemum, the sword, the mad men and Japan

Enter Japan.

In S4E05 (The Chrysanthemum and the Sword), the Sterling-Cooper-Draper-Price agency gets a nibble from the Honda motor company, who are taking suitors for an ad campaign to show off their new motorbike.

The relationship between Japan and America post-Second World War is an irresistable and inevitable addition to the Mad Men series, and it’s been kind of hinted at from the beginning with Roger Sterling’s war experience and Bert Cooper’s Nipponophile-ness.

The Japanese have entered the American marketing world by the ’60s, and Mad Men heads straight for the rising tide of Asian influence on American culture and business, a reality that will remain.

Things changed.


In the episode in question, Peter Campbell says the crew needs to read the book by Ruth Benedict before the sale to understand their culture before making a pitch.

Don, of course, reads it, and no one else does.

The episode is very much a ‘this is how things started’ type of story where we see the Second World War era (Roger) pitted against the post-war capitalists (Peter) who are after markets and money wherever they are.

This is where American ad agencies and businesses branch out to Asia (mostly Japan), and vice-versa.

Roger comes out looking the stereotypical bigot, which is no surprise, and Don looks nuanced and wise, as per. Everyone else is the typical bumfungling crew completely freaked out about screwing up and getting fired.

Of course, Bert Cooper first introduced viewers to Japanese influence with his shoeless office, but this is the first time Asian characters are introduced, and the Japanese business world and culture is explored.

As a follow up, in S4E11 (The Chinese Wall), we see Fosco Maraini’s Meeting with Japan on Peggy’s shelf, which shows both Peggy’s ambition and seriousness about her career, and maybe gives us a bit of that following-Don’s-lead aspect to her character.


Benedict’s book was written in 1946 at the request of the U.S. Office of War Information as the Americans were getting set to occupy Japan post Second World War. The book very much does the “this is how Japanese people are” thing that’s pretty dated, and simplified, but the book is an interesting read not so much to discover what Japanese culture is like (you can read a Japanese author for that), but how Americans and outsiders view and deal with them.

This is very much how the episode plays out. It is almost entirely about how the Mad Men characters view the Japanese, although there is a brief taste of how they view the Americans, even if it’s a bit stereotypical in its delivery. See: men staring at Joan’s boobs.

The importance of the book in the episode comes at the end.

After all the other ad agencies have ignored the pitch rules, Don refuses the cheque he was given because his firm have not done the same. He tells the Honda people that they broke the rules they outlined. Read: you have no honour.

“The man is shamed by being openly ridiculed and rejected; it requires an audience.”

– Don

Maraini’s book, it should be noted, is the better book about Japan written by someone who’s not Japanese. It is more honest about the obstacles writing from a European perspective. He, like Benedict, is writing for Western eyes, but focuses more on art and culture. I found it the better book.

So-called “eastern influence” starts to pick up in Mad Men from season four on. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, I Ching, and others are coming to the reading list, and the intention is pretty clear: Asian influence is starting to become a thing in American culture (particularly big cities like New York).

We shall return

Daniel J. Rowe, Eric Jean

Greetings Bard Brawl Nation and a Happy New Year.

It has been some time since we came before you in print or podcast form to welcome you into the world of William Shakespeare, and all his wacky glory.

Rest assured, we have not forgotten you our beloved fellow lovers of the stage. We have, as happens in life, been busy with work and life and love and loss and labour and… you know… stuff, and have simply not had the time to check in, and criticize BBC versions of Shakespeare plays, muse on the meaning of Titus Andronicus or blab about why Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream should be produced differently.

Spoiler: they’re both tragedies.

Eric, myself and the various other fellow brawlers will return in time with reviews, articles, and perhaps even a podcast or two to delight the many brawlers of the world.


We missed the hell out of you! And we hope maybe, just maybe, you thought about us once or twice while doing your stuff and thought: “I wish my Shakespeare buddies came back!”

And here we are at last!

We look forward to you and your friends joining our merry band, and thank you for your patience.


Artwork - Leigh MacRae
Artwork – Leigh MacRae

That’s how you wrap up a canon

Daniel J. Rowe

It began in the summer of 2009 with the following line:

Before we proceed any further, hear me speak.

– First Roman Citizen, Coriolanus

It ended with this one:

Let your indulgence set me free.

– Prospero, The Tempest

How perfect was that?

The Bard Brawl has, over the course of seven years, read aloud the entirety of William Shakespeare’s canon of plays. As co-captain of the Bard Brawl, I would like to just give a huge shout out of props to all brawlers who have come along for the ride.

Of course, we won’t end, and Mr. Nick MacMahon has already picked the next play. After toying with the possibility of reading Christopher Marlowe’s The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, he chose a play you definitely did not see coming.

Until next week dear brawlers.
Let’s let Mr. Jean take us out for tonight.

And with the epilogue from #TheTempest Eric completes the final words of the canon. #Shakespeare 2009-2016. Done

A video posted by Bard Brawler (@bardbrawl) on Aug 18, 2016 at 6:00pm PDT


Brawl on.



Happy 400 Bard, thank you for giving us an excuse to drink beer

Daniel J. Rowe and Eric Jean

Yesterday, (er, April 23rd) apparently was both the day William Shakespeare – the bard, the most famous playwright of all time, the English major’s hero or devil, the inspirer of great films, theatre productions and books, and agent zero for a few awful ones – was born and died.

Happy 400th deathaversary and birthday.

Funny how the world works.

With that in mind, we co-captains of the Bard Brawl thought to take you through a journey that began in a living room over a few beers with a couple of dudes, and grew to become a living room over a few beers with a couple of more beers. Steve Jobs would be proud.

…so without further ado, “from Montreal, Quebec, this is the

- artwork by Leigh Macrae
– artwork by Leigh Macrae

The Bard Brawl, a history

The Bard Brawl is one of the (most important?) legacies of the man born in Stratford upon Avon in 1564, and began in 2009. The co-creators (as well as the long lost Dan Pinese. What happened to that guy? Oh yeah. Toronto happened) decided to meet up and read one act per week. Eric came up with the name, Daniel picked the first play (Coriolanus), and off we went. Stephanie E.M. Coleman soon joined to round out the foursome that became the triumvirate, and the rest is history.

Not sure who is Caesar, who is Pompey and who grabbed the short straw and had to be Marcus Crassus, but there you have it.

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As of Thursday night, we finished the second act of Two Noble Kinsman, and will have two plays to go for the folio to be complete. We three, along with a collection of fine brawlers, will have read 36 plays, one act at a time, pound-for-pound like a lion and a tiger in a pit with a bunch of drunk peasants betting their paycheques from above. That is if the lion and tiger intersperse their fight with talk of hockey, batman, beer, PEI and whatever weird topic Mr. Nick is on about.

By the way MIT Shakespeare, could you please put Two Noble Kinsman online? It’s really annoying to try to search for it on our phones. Thanks.

(That last rant was brought to you by this YouTube video)

The last play, naturally, will be the Tempest.

Meg Roe's Tempest finds the balance between wonder and soliloquy at Bard on the Beach in 2014. Photo credit - David Blue
Meg Roe’s Tempest finds the balance between wonder and soliloquy at Bard on the Beach in 2014.
Photo credit – David Blue

Reading the plays one act at a time, every whatever day of the week, was just the beginning.

Podcasts ensued, as did book, movie and theatre reviews that are all on this site.

Click around. You’ll have fun.


We also produced three volumes of ‘Zounds! A Bard Brawl Journal that you can still buy if you like. There’s tons of clever stuff.

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One time we shot a video of a speech from Pericles, but Jay Reid said it wasn’t done right, and then we left it there even though this guy named Jason, who posts a lot on the Facebook page, but rarely comes out to the brawl, keeps telling us we need more video. By the way, Jason and Jay met once and I’m pretty sure Dream Weaver started playing, and a true and noble bromance began.

Some questions

People often ask about Shakespeare, so we pre-empted those questions and interviewed ourselves. Clever no?

Why the bleeping heck do we spend so much time on Shakespeare?

Short answer: because we want to, and leave me alone jock. I can do whatever I want.

Longer answer: because he’s really fun to read, the stories are interesting and entertaining, and it’s all so dang universal in the end.

Sidebar: No, we will not be branching off and doing Marlowe or Arthur Miller plays next.

Did he REALLY write all the plays?

Who cares.

What’s your favourite play?

Othello (Daniel); (Eric); Timon of Athens (Stephanie). But you know, that could all change with the mood.

Read it or watch it?

Whatever you want. Both are fun.

Accent or not?

Whatever you want except when it comes to servant voices. Those must be done Monty Python or football star being forced to be in a theatre play style.

Best character?

Bear that kills Antigonus.

Alright enough questions.

How the H did we get this far?

Keep it simple. Kick no one out. Don’t discourage those who don’t know the language. Allow mistakes. Drink beer or wine regularly, and always talk about it. Allow all questions, and make sure some jerk has bought the pro version of the playShakespeare app on his or her iPhone, so they can bring it up every single week.

Some have left, some have come, some have stuck around. It really doesn’t matter. Let it go if someone gets all worked up and think they are too good to brawl. Be humble and have fun.


A smattering of some of the funnest lines to read for your pleasure.

“Reason not the need!”

King Lear

“Keep up your bright swords, for the dew will rust them. Good signior, you shall more command with years. Than with your weapons.”


“You common cry of curs whose breath I hate as reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize as the dead carcasses of unburried men that do corrupt my air, I banish you! And here remain with your uncertainty!”


Sheesh guys. Tell us what you really think.


Eric here. Daniel did such a great job with this post that I don’t have a lot to add.

But I’m happy to try and upstage anyone, anywhere, any time so here goes.

Why do we brawl? Because it’s damn fun.

Yes, I hear you saying politely, “Oh, that sounds nice.” But then you scrunch up your face like you’re picking up your Great Dane’s business in a flimsy Dollarama bag at the park near my house, the one that says “No Dogs Allowed” and is supposed to be for children under 5 years old. How could you?

We invite you, you decline.

And you really have no idea what you’re missing out on.

I get it. You read Twelfth Night or Romeo and Juliet in Mr./Mrs. Lameville’s class in grade 9 because they made you do it. You brought it home. You read it quietly to yourself. It made no sense. You wrote a paper filled with quotes you thought sounded important but which you didn’t understand and handed the thing in.

You collected your ‘B’ and vowed you would never read another word because who the hell cares about all of this serious, stuffy, old-timey stuff anyhow? You’re going to be a social media icon one day! You’ll have a beard and an ironic moustache!

You have no time for this!

Be honest. You hate this stuff because it scares the crap out of you.

You’ve had a lifetime of knowing that Shakespeare is serious business, that it’s meant to be revered, unquestioned, and that only special people with years of training can ever hope to understand even a small part of it.


Don’t let ‘THE MAN’ win! This shit’s for everyone! (Like, literally. It’s all free on the internet.)

Honestly, though. Shakespeare’s plays weren’t meant for academics and undergrads trying to sound smart.

Sure, there’s a lot of meaning jammed in there, the language sounds foreign, the characters have funny names and the places described as ‘Athens’ or ‘Bohemia’ seem populated with people who dress and act like Shakespeare’s English contemporaries.

That’s just because it’s gathered a little dust through the centuries. Or tannins. Or oak flakes. Or whatever weird magic makes old booze taste better than new booze.

The murders, betrayals, adulteries and sex jokes are still there. (In fact, a good rule when reading: if it sounds dirty, it probably is.)

So maybe you need to try to live with the fact that it’s old. It’s been around for a while, much longer than anything you write will likely be (unless you’re Daniel, whose honeyed words are clearly immortal). It just needs a little help getting out of bed or crossing the street. It’s wiser and stuff.

But it was never meant to be hard. It’s wicked smart, sure, but also damned entertaining.

Shakespeare’s plays are a lot less like a first-year film student’s art film and a lot more like blockbuster movies.

Poor-ass peasants would scrounge up whatever cash they could just to have a chance to go to one of these things. Nobles went, too. Maybe they got different jokes but there was something in there for everyone.

That’s what’s fun about the Bard Brawl.

Everyone’s different – different backgrounds, educations, states of intoxication – and the best part about it for me is seeing what different people take away, what clicks and what flops. That, and just spending time with people who like to relax and not take themselves (and Shakespeare) too seriously.

I’m always surprised by how incredibly insightful everyone can be about this stuff. Even (especially) those people who insist that they don’t understand.

Yeah, you do understand. It’s cool to admit it. We are all Shakespeare scholars and lovers. We all know more than we think. Yo

And yes, there’s still plenty that we don’t get, or that’s bad or makes no sense. But that’s part of the fun. We make mistakes. We all laugh about them. We make ’em again. We laugh some more.

Kind of sort of like this:

Trust us. Or better yet, call our bluff and come join us.

Here’s to you Bill, and to Bard Brawlers everywhere!

Thanks for an excellent adventure!


Still interested, check out this Studio 360 podcast. It’s very good. Take a listen.

Artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman
Artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman

Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

Graphic art meets Shakespeare part I

Johnny Joannou

‘Elements of the Bard of Avon’ uses the periodic-table as the structure to show information about his plays, some of his greatest characters and elements of his greatest speeches.

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I spend a great deal of time in the wonderful British library, researching my subjects from books to films to sports.

Johnny Joannou am a London based designer. He focuses on producing geeky prints. He tries to categorise and arrange key metrics and then use an appropriate colour palette to communicate information aesthetically. 

Check out his website and order a print.

Graphic art meets Shakespeare part I

Johnny Joannou

‘To thine own self be true’ shows his work in 37 segments. Each of the 37 segments shows the name of the play, the year he started writing the play, the genre and ten memorable characters. It also includes the number of characters, speeches, acts and parts for each play. Part of a quote from each play flies out of each segment!

I spend a great deal of time in the wonderful British library, researching my subjects from books to films to sports.

Johnny Joannou am a London based designer. He focuses on producing geeky prints. He tries to categorise and arrange key metrics and then use an appropriate colour palette to communicate information aesthetically. 

Check out his website and order a print.

Shakespeare in Pop Culture

Roslyn Willson contacted the Bard Brawl promoting a infographic that shows how much influence the bard has had on popular culture. Without further ado…

Shakespeare in Pop Culture

What do you think Brawlers?

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

The Mad King is here

Without further ado, we at the Bard Brawl bring you:

‘Zounds! Act I,scene iii – Mad King

(trumpets, flourish, colours, dogs barking)

Thank you to everyone who came out to the event at Brutopia Brewpub in Montreal last night. T’was a rad night of trivia and all around revelry.

Pick up a copy by clicking the button below or by contacting us if you are in the Montreal area via our Facebook page or at


Click the button and let 'Zounds! be yours.
Click the button and let ‘Zounds! be yours.

Featuring the work of: James Olwell, Charis Amy, Laura MacDonald, Celeste LeeRachelle Hecht, Niki LambrosJesse Cardin, Leigh MacraeJenny DorozioRyan Buynak, Stephanie E.M. Coleman, Johnna Montour, Andre Simoneau and Mya Gosling.

'Zounds! Act I, scene iii; Mad King.
‘Zounds! Act I, scene iii; Mad King.

Edited by Daniel J. Rowe and Eric Jean.

Layout design by Stephanie E.M. Coleman

*Please allow two to four weeks for delivery.

Repercussion Theatre’s Harry the King, Directed by Paul Hopkins

Repercussion Theatre's Harry the King coming to a park near you until August 3rd!
Repercussion Theatre’s Harry the King coming to a park near you until August 3rd!

Eric Jean

In case you didn’t know it yet, Repercussion Theatre is proving that Henry IV parts 1 and 2, and Henry V are damned funny.

Like bust-your-gut, pop-a-button, get-dirty-looks-on-the-Metro-because-you’re-laughing-so-damn-hard funny. And, as my wife Rachelle “The Butcherette” can testify, that’s if you don’t understand a word of Shakespeare besides ‘Zounds!

I know you’ve just verified our chronology of Shakespeare’s plays on and were getting ready to write an angry email about how we obvious morons have left out one of Shakespeare’s great, immortal and immutable work: Harry the King

“Peace!”, says this moron!

See, here’s the deal with this summer’s edition of Shakespeare in the Park: Harry the King is actually a play adapted from Henry IV parts 1 and 2 and Henry V. Specifically, it grabs up a bunch of the bits involving prince Harry’s rise from being a good-for-nothing lay-about who spends all of his time in Eastcheap’s taverns drinking with his buddies to his ascension of the throne and eventual conquest of France.

At least that’s what it looks like at first but the whole thing never actually makes it out of the tavern.

The entire play takes place inside the tavern with Hal, Falstaff, Mistress Quickly, and company playing out all of the roles in Hal’s story. As such, you’ll see actors doubling up on roles in the same scene, frivolous funny voices and accents, whimsical posturing and funny walks, criticism and praise of the actors performances and of course off-the-cuff comments about what’s happening to the audience who is a stand-in for the other tavern patrons.

So really, the whole thing is like an epic and uproarious Bard Brawl on stage if the Bard Brawl had a budget, some sound and lighting equipment, a stage and a live audience!

On an unrelated note, we still have a donate button and plenty of copies of ‘Zounds! for sale.

If you’re a purist who likes their Shakespearean histories untouched, their iambic speechifying solemn and formal, and their Salic law needlessly obscured and overly complicated to all except for those 2 guys in the front row who have been involved in 15th century Renaissance re-enactment for 20 years, maybe this won’t be the production for you.

But if you’re a person with a pulse and at least a few friends, particularly if you are a person subscribed to the Bard Brawl, there’s a good chance you’ll be thinking to yourself as you fold up your lawn chair or picnic blanket: “Well that was well worth the price of admission.”

Shakespeare in the Park is free so that was a free joke. (You’re welcome.)

But don’t be like that guy who refuses to tip: Repercussion Theatre lives on donations so when the actor who just made you pee your pants at the end of the first half of the play comes by with a hat during the intermission, hide your shame and drop a few bucks in please. (Or you can click here and donate.)

Pack up your cooler with a few snacks and a couple of drinks, bring a blanket and go see Repercussion Theatre’s Harry the King in a park near you before it’s too late! I won’t come to your house and force you to go see this (because I don’t know where you live, mostly), but I’ll just leave this last remark here for you to do with as you please.

This is the one play that made my wife say, for the first time ever since I have known her: “I want to go back and see it again!

The Harry the King tour ends on August 3rd. You can check out Repercussion Theatre’s website for dates and locations of upcoming performances.

Stay in Touch Brawlers!

Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

Like our Facebook page.

Email the Bard Brawl at

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes

Or leave us a comment right here!

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