“Breaking Bad” – The Devil and Old Yeller

Be warned: Spoilers for “Rabid Dog,” the most recent episode of “Breaking Bad,” await you after the jump.

“We’ve come this far. For us, what’s one more?”

Over the course of nearly 60 episodes, “Breaking Bad” has vividly peeled away any morality that clung to Walter White, displaying how he slowly revealed his true colors as the series progressed (the interpretation I prefer, and one that matches up with what the show’s creator has said). A less likely explanation might say that the show highlighted how the actions he undertook and the world he entered slowly chipped away at Walter White and left only Heisenberg standing. Still, as we have witnessed this decay, we have seen how Walt’s miasmatic persona has corrupted and corroded those around him. Continue reading

“Breaking Bad” – Confessions of a Megalomaniacal Mind

Be warned: Spoilers for “Confessions,” the most recent episode of “Breaking Bad,” await you after the jump. 

As “Breaking Bad” continues to hurtle toward the finish line, the show’s characters — one by one — continue to walk away from potential avenues out of this world. They have been offered escapes (not necessarily clean ones, but escapes nonetheless), ways to get away from the death, destruction and havoc that surrounds them, and they have chosen to stay where they are.
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The “SNL” Audition Process

Dave Itzkoff’s terrific oral history of “Saturday Night Live” auditions arrived this morning. I realize some people might look at it and say “Haven’t we had enough of this already?” — enough about the history of “Saturday Night Live,” or enough oral histories, or both — and I completely sympathize with that made-up mindset I just described. But this one is still really entertaining! Itzkoff spoke with 22 cast members (and Marc Maron, who didn’t make the cut) about their auditions, and while some of these stories (like Will Ferrell and the briefcase) are probably very familiar to those of us who are interested in this sort of thing, it’s still a very fun read.

Sebastian Junger’s Writing Advice

I try to edit my work in different states of mind. So I’ll go running on a really hot day and then read the 2,000 words I just wrote. Or if I’m upset, or really sleepy, or if I’m drunk, I’ll read this stuff. If you’re sleepy and you find yourself skipping over a paragraph because you’re bored by it and just want to get to the interesting part, it comes out. Those different states of mind are a really interesting filter.

Sebastian Junger’s article “The Storm” (which inspired his book “The Perfect Storm”) ran in Outside Magazine nearly two decades ago. In a delightful feature over at Nieman Storyboard, Junger went through the story answering Elon Green‘s questions about how it was written and reported. The entire thing is a great read, filled with wonderful and worthwhile advice from Junger.

(It’s part of an ongoing Nieman series called Annotation Tuesday, where other writers sit down and go through their stories discussing how they were written.)

This Is A Post About “Breaking Bad”

Look, you already know that “Breaking Bad” returns on Sunday night with the first of its final eight episodes. You also already know if you’re going to watch or not, and you know if you like the show, and if you’re the kind of person who gives such things thought, you know where you think the show ranks among the other great shows that have aired over the last decade and a half.

Me — and this is just me, obviously, and I’m just a guy standing in front of the Internet sharing his thoughts — I cannot wait. We cannot know its place among the greats until we see how the entire thing plays out, because clearly endings color the way people view certain shows, but right now I would say that “Breaking Bad” is the best non-“Parks and Recreation” show on television, and I would also say that it is the best drama since “The Sopranos.” So I am very excited! (Of course, it feels like the entire world is very excited, because seemingly every other tweet and Tumbl and blog post over the last week has been about “Breaking Bad,” though that “entire world” I spoke of is a rather small universe of people who tweet and Tumbl and blog, because the entire world is really watching “America’s Got Talent” or whatever.)

And if you are curious: I’ll have thoughts on Sunday night’s episode here, most likely publishing on Monday morning. (UPDATE: Here’s my review/recap.)

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness”

So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:

What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. 

Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly.  Reservedly.  Mildly.

Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope:  Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?

Those who were kindest to you, I bet.

George Saunders delivered the convocation address at Syracuse University earlier this year. A transcript of his speech was posted online by the New York Times this week, and while I am a couple of days late in sharing it, I wanted to make sure I posted it in case anyone reading this site hasn’t seen it yet.

Also, via the folks at Syracuse.com, here is a video of the speech:

Goodnight, Sweet Prince

Yeah, I also thought they had forgotten when I woke up on Monday and Google Reader was still around. Now, it’s a memorial, an ode to a forgotten time when there were things that mattered and those things could be discovered through a carefully arranged RSS reader offered free of charge. Now, onto the next thing, whatever that might be, I suppose. (I’m still deciding between Feedly and Digg right now.)

Why Dan Harmon Was Fired And Rehired

If you spend any time on the Internet (what a great opening to this post, which is being written on a blog that exclusively exists on the Internet; we’re already off to a great start, let’s see where else this sentence takes us), you know that Dan Harmon, the creator of the television program “Community,” was fired from the show last year and has been rehired for the show’s upcoming fifth season. (Okay, so I guess the sentence ended up in a rather pedestrian information dump sort of place. That happens.)

You might be wondering why he was rehired, since he is the exact same person and he is returning to a very low-rated show. Josef Adalian, as he is wont to do, explains a little of Sony’s logic in this useful post. I’m not going to excerpt from it at length or even really explain much of what it says here because quite frankly that would dissuade you from even clicking the link, and you should click the link since Adalian did the reporting and wrote the story and I am merely referencing it (and, let’s be honest, if you care at all about the issue involved you already clicked the link, so excerpting it also seems pointless).

I will say that “Community,” as it existed through its first three seasons, was a wonderful supernova of a show, a bizarre and perfect little gem that was not for everyone but was, for people who felt a connection with the material (at least as much connection as you can feel with a TV show), a special, bizarro kind of perfect. The fourth season was, as many have said, a pale imitation, the televised version of going to a restaurant where you have a favorite sandwich only your regular person isn’t there and the new person uses the same bread and the same ingredients but everything just tastes a little off. (Good metaphor, very robust and relatable.) The episodes were neither good nor bad, but they were so slight that I keep forgetting I still may have one or two episodes left on my DVR. The fifth season may or may not reclaim what made the show, at its peak, such a marvel. But at least now it is imbued with a promise that wasn’t there before.