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When God Closes a Door… (There By the Lake of God Go I)

When God Closes a Door… (There By the Lake of God Go I)

I’ve never been more religious than when God closed a door, literally, in the form of a rejected housing application. It was for a little cottage on the edge of town, a “starter home” for me and my wife-to-be, and it was all but ours until, one miscommunication and a phone call later, I learned that the lease had already been signed by someone else’s eager, sweaty fingers. When the same thing happened again, twice, it became very clear that there was a bearded man in the sky, pulling levers and shutting doors, blessing the broken road that would lead…

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UnREAL Season 1, Part 2: Death by Suicide, Death to Self-Pity

UnREAL Season 1, Part 2: Death by Suicide, Death to Self-Pity

This is part two in a series on UnREAL, a Lifetime drama returning for its second season on June 6. You’ll find part one here. Mega-super-nuclear-option spoiler alert: the following discloses the ending of the show’s first season.

Reality TV often has an ambience of controlled insanity. The contestants act in violent, conniving, or erratic ways, and one can legitimately wonder how many are (a) truly acting or (b) truly mentally ill. In the latter category, were they chosen because of their illness by cynical producers? Are the producers exacerbating antisocial behavior in mentally ill contestants, or are the producers (probably pleasantly) surprised? The uncertainty is…

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More Thoughts on Hodor: Felix Culpa and the Identity of God in Game of Thrones

More Thoughts on Hodor: Felix Culpa and the Identity of God in Game of Thrones

Will McDavid wrote the definitive summary, critical review and reflection on last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Door.” If you haven’t read it go directly there now. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 hundred dollars. The short reflection that follows on the revelation of Hodor’s raison d’ etre is indebted to and dependent on Will’s insights. He did most of the heavy lifting already.

In his Poetics Aristotle observes that we will forgive a good story told badly, but never a bad story wrapped up in even the best of prose. For Aristotle plot is everything. The story…

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The Door and the Stories We Tell: Reviewing Game of Thrones

The Door and the Stories We Tell: Reviewing Game of Thrones

Spoiler Alert for those who have not yet seen this past week’s episode of Game of Thrones (Season 6, Episode 5).

A drunk King Robert gallivants across a wooden stage, two conspicuous stagehands tracking his movements with a poorly-painted backdrop of woods behind him, setting the scene. Bawdiness, drinking jokes, and other low-comedy staples ensue, until dunderhead Ned Stark, idiot/villein Northern companion of the lecherous Robert, tries to grab the Throne for himself, until Joffrey, Cersei, and Littlefinger intervene to keep the pretender from taking power.

Last night’s Game of Thrones episode was brilliant in lots of ways, but from a…

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UnREAL Is Uncomfortably Close to Reality

UnREAL Is Uncomfortably Close to Reality

This is part 1 of a multipost series on UnREAL, a serial drama on Lifetime that is returning for its second season on June 6. Spoiler alert, but you’ve had a year to enjoy this one…

I am that guy who hates reality shows and wants you to know about it—out of sincere concern for the genre’s effect on intelligence and a subconscious need to broadcast my superiority (eg, this sentence). I would like to tell you, therefore, that the serial drama UnREAL, about the production of a fictional reality show, is appealing because it holds a mirror to bad art….

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The Absolutely Fabulous Canterbury Cathedral

The Absolutely Fabulous Canterbury Cathedral

When I was a kid my parents had pretty strict rules about what we were allowed to watch on television. There was no Full House or Double Dare. And Blossom was totally out of the question. I spent my middle school evenings watching Nick at Nite. So there was a lot of Dragnet and Green Acres. Also, my Dad would, on occasion, let me watch Absolutely Fabulous with him.

Retrospectively, it wasn’t exactly Mr. Rogers. If you have never watched AbFab, then get to work. It’s a show about two drunken, pill popping, ludicrous characters named Edina Monsoon and Patsy Stone…

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Tidy Lies and Messy Truths in Flaked

Tidy Lies and Messy Truths in Flaked

In a few recent Netflix shows, Will Arnett plays existentially ambivalent and sometimes despondent characters with alcoholic tendencies. He voices the title role in Bojack Horseman, an animated series centering on a maladjusted former TV star who’s going broke and doesn’t know how to engage in a meaningful relationship. And in the more recent Flaked he plays Chip, an exemplary community member with a colored past, basically killing time before the lease runs out on his furniture store in Venice Beach. He produces both shows and has a larger hand in the creation and writing of the latter, which claims AA…

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That’s the Law, Baby

That’s the Law, Baby

Since I’m a parent of two small children, I watch a lot of crap TV. (This is, to be clear, different from the crap TV I used to watch of my own volition. See left.) And by “watch,” I mean, “check my phone/read while the kids watch.” But recently a plot point of an episode of Octonauts caught my attention. Please stay with me–I promise at least the potential of relatability.

The animal adventurers (I guess there’s a submarine? And they’re in some version of the Navy? Or something?) stumbled upon their twice-per-episode sea creature, and this particular example was…

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Love at Arm’s Length: The Dark Knight Can Do Anything but Give You His Heart

Love at Arm’s Length: The Dark Knight Can Do Anything but Give You His Heart

Wenatchee the Hatchet continues his series, “Justice Has Its Price: The Exiles and Orphans of the Justice League,” with this look at the character of Batman.

Over the years the Batman given to us by Kevin Conroy, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm has done a lot of things. Batman has foiled the Joker repeatedly. He has overcome worlds of illusion to stop the Mad Hatter. He has thwarted Ra’s al Ghul’s plans to kill most of humanity. He has outsmarted the Riddler. He’s done battle with Lex Luthor. He’s battled magicians. He’s even managed to dodge Darkseid’s Omega beams. It would seem there’s…

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The Sultry Sounds of Vin Scully and the “Jack Rabbit Resurrection”

88-year-old Vin Scully has been doing Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers’ games for 60+ years. He’s always been the “Garrison Keillor of Sports Broadcasting” – weaving yarn after yarn between pitches to keep listeners engaged (the vast majority of his work having been on radio). In this, his final season, Scully has become a social media phenomenon with this true tale he told in a Giant-Dodger game last week. Madison Bumgarner (pitcher pictured here) and his wife, are the story’s hero/heroine:

Wonder Woman: Maid of Honor in a Dishonorable World

Wonder Woman: Maid of Honor in a Dishonorable World

This is the first in a multi-part study (“Justice Has Its Price: The Orphans and Exiles of the Justice League)” on the characters from the cartoon Justice League, brought to you by superhero guru, Wenatchee the Hatchet.

After the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel have had at least half a dozen movies each, you would think we would have gotten a single live action Wonder Woman film within the 20th century, too, but we didn’t. One of the recurring debates among fans of Wonder Woman has been exactly why this hasn’t happened. Different explanations have been offered as to…

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At Your Service: Thoughts on Downton Abbey, and Life

At Your Service: Thoughts on Downton Abbey, and Life

I dread my kids getting sick–and not just because I hate to see them suffer. So much for empathy, right? 

Our latest cavalcade of illnesses–recurrent ear infections, nasty colds, and a violent stomach virus–coincided with the wrapping-up of the series Downton Abbey. And don’t think for a second that the deep cosmic significance of that timing is lost on me. I’ve been a fan of the show since summer of 2011, when I tuned in via Netflix from the couch and fought off waves of morning (and afternoon, and evening) sickness by escaping to early-20th century England. I gasped at the…

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