How to Tell if You’re in a Belle & Sebastian Song

the-bbc-sessions-520da3ea5629eYou have zero interest in getting married unless it would help save a nice girl you met at a party from having to go back to Ukraine.

You work in the acquisitions department of a small independent book shop, but dread your nightly walks home through the park for reasons that are not entirely clear.

You told your homeroom teacher you were tardy because your judo class ran over, but in fact you heard a Hammond organ playing somewhere down the hall and had to investigate. You met a handsome, bookish stranger and sang a duet with him, but left without getting his name.

It’s your last year of high school and you cope with the stress of family life by pretending you’re the lead singer in a band called Belle & Sebastian.

You are quietly mesmerized by a patch of winter sunlight.

You were inspired when your sprightly friend let down her hair and danced at a concert, so much that you wrote about it in your diary for a month, but have never actually danced yourself.

You work in a nail salon, you’re always late to parties and you’ve crashed your car twice in the last month. You’re in love with a girl across town who doesn’t know your name. (Her name is Belle).

You once spent an entire day being inexplicably happy and have devoted the rest of your life to finding out why.

Right now you’re wearing a striped scarf, a woolen jacket, and argyle socks. You have a friend of the same sex who’s wearing a cashmere cardigan. You might or might not fancy them.

You once contemplated murdering a stranger who spoke to you on the subway.

You had a small outburst in the café when you realized how old you’re getting. You’re sixteen.

You missed the train and now you’re standing at the station all alone. But it’s late autumn and the world is lovely around you.

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My 100 Favorite Songs

It’s October again, which means it’s time to update my favorite songs list.

This is my third year to make this list. Continue reading

Breaking Bad: A Master Class in Storytelling

[Warning: Spoilers to follow]

 Heisenberg

 Where does one begin when talking about Breaking Bad? The Emmy-award winning AMC series, which ended on Sunday night, evolved over the course of its five-season run into a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Though initially gathering only a small audience, the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher who teams up with a former student to begin cooking meth when he learns he has inoperable cancer, slowly became a global phenomenon.

It may be the best drama ever to air on television. Seemingly everything about it—acting, writing, directing, music, cinematography—was genius.

But the reason for the show’s enduring popularity with critics, and eventual success with television viewers, can be explained in two ways. One is the show’s perception of morality. This may seem odd to say, given the graphic and sometimes devastating violence: children are murdered, prisoners are knived and set on fire, bodies are dissolved in acid. Continue reading