Joss Whedon’s Much Ado about Nothing Skirts the Line Between Comedy and Tragedy

much adoThis is the first post in a new series discussing my 40 favorite films.


Groups can so easily turn against a single person, as I learned at the end of my freshman year in college 10 years ago this month.

Skyler* and I had met on the first morning of orientation, and for much of the year we were inseparable. Our friends said we were like twins. We listened to the same obscure bands, treated Shakespeare like a religious text, and, ultimately, fell in love with the same girl, Mary Ann*.

This was never going to end happily, as anyone with a cursory knowledge of Shakespeare probably realizes. Throughout his career, from his early comedy The Two Gentlemen of Verona to a late romance, The Winter’s Tale, the prolific playwright wove stories about inseparable friends whose friendships are ultimately torn apart by jealousy and mistrust. Continue reading


I Read the Bible as an English Major (and That’s Okay)

4426269085_8b16eeda09Read this great article last week by Morgan Guyton on why English majors make lousy fundamentalists.

Growing up I know we were encouraged to take everything we read in the Scriptures at face value. But it’s been fascinating, as I’ve gotten older, to look at the Bible from a more literary perspective. Continue reading

The Riddles of Tom Bombadil

[ Because The Hobbit comes out this week and I can’t think about anything else, all week long on my blog I’ll be posting meditations on some of my favorite moments from The Lord of the Rings, both novel and film. Today we venture into the Old Forest. ]

In September 2002, as I was beginning my junior year of high school, my best friend called me up on the phone.

“Boze, I have the most amazing movie,” he said. “You have to see it.”

I was immediately skeptical. Eric Booth and I had vastly different taste in movies. I preferred mystery-thrillers from the 1950s and ‘60s, which put him to sleep. And his one attempt to show me The Matrix hadn’t gone over well.

“What’s it called?” I asked, more out of politeness than genuine curiosity.

Fellowship of the Ring,” he said in a tone of wonder. Continue reading

“O Shunn’d Persons, I Will Be Your Poet”

O431px-Joan_of_arc_burning_at_stakene of the many things I appreciate about Whitman is that he is the poet of the earth, of the senses, of all loves. Despiser of bad religion, lover of beauty, friend of the shunned and oppressed.

In that he reminds me of Jesus. Continue reading

Breaking Bad: A Master Class in Storytelling

[Warning: Spoilers to follow]


 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