Monday, January 19, 2015

Agent Carter: Victimhood and Humility

[First of a series on female characters, feminism, and all that jazz. Haven't got it all worked out yet, but expect posts on The Phantom of the Opera, The New World, and more.]

When it comes to period drama, it's best to go British. Happily, despite the fact that Agent Carter is produced in America, it features the very British Hayley Atwell in the title role of Peggy Carter, which is nearly the same thing.
Taking up a few years after Captain America: The First Avenger left off, the first episode of Agent Carter finds Peg (a luminous Atwell) struggling to readjust to civilian life. By what was surely some catastrophic bureaucratic error on high, Peggy has been confined to an office job, serving coffee and pushing paper for a bunch of sexists. This has left her pretty depressed, feeling not only inadequate, but sorrowful, flashing back to her last moments talking to Steve Rogers. Thankfully, this morose introspection is interrupted when she's enlisted by Howard Stark (father of Tony, played by Dominic Cooper) to help clear his name. Stark has been accused of selling weapons to the enemy - when, in fact, some super-sinister organization is behind it all.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's a Dangerous Business - Tolkien, Rob Bell, and Belief


Yesterday was J.R.R. Tolkien's birthday. I refer, of course, to the man who wrote the best novel of the 20th Century: The Lord of the Rings. And no, that fact is not up for dispute.


Or is it? Among the fantasy crowd, there's a stubborn set of naysayers who deride Tolkien's work as reactionary and cliched. There's some truth in both of these criticisms, but here's the thing: it's not really all that brave to be edgy. These days, it's more cliched to have a main character plagued by self-doubt, who wrestles with abstract dilemmas, and who is always seeking to "find himself" than one certain of anything. If they are certain of their faith, they're a religious nut job like Noah; otherwise we reshape Moses into a postmodern skeptic.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Gospel of Bono





In all the talk about how Bono may not be able to play the guitar again, the media has (shocker!) been missing all he says about Christmas. It's a pretty good way to start off the year.

At this time of year some people are reminded of the poetic as well as the historic truth that is the birth of Jesus. The Christmas story has a crazy good plot with an even crazier premise - the idea goes, if there is a force of love and logic behind the universe, then how amazing would it be if that incomprehensible power chose to express itself as a child born in shit and straw poverty.... 
But back to the Christmas story that still brings me to my knees - which is a good place for me lest I harm myself or others. Christmas is not a time for me to overthink about this child, so vulnerable, who would grow so strong... to teach us all how vulnerability is the route to strength and, by example, show us how to love and serve. 
To me this is not a fairy tale but a challenge. I preach what I need to hear... 

Read more>

Longish

Monday, December 29, 2014

Everything I Read in 2014

Doug's books
While it's a significant step down from the 80 books I read last year, I'm fairly proud of this year's list. For my best of list, check here.

Top Books of 2014





It's that time again. The Best Of Lists, which dominate your social media page with hyperbole and self-congratulation. However, all of these other lists are infinitely inferior to this list, which is, indeed, the best of all Best Of Lists, mine. It's selected from the 53 books I read this year, and is in no particular order.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Interview: We Should be Blaming Obama, Not Sony, For Caving In

Several weeks ago, I was in a movie theater awaiting a screening of Brad Pitt's Fury when I saw a trailer for The Interview. The plot seemed to be this: James Franco and Seth Rogen play a pair of middle-aged bums who are hired by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-Un, supreme leader in North Korea.

Oh boy, 
I thought. This is going to be good.


While I was expecting furor, I didn't realize quite how much of a stir the film would create. From The Washington Post:

Hours after an announcement that U.S. authorities determined North Korea was behind the recent cyber-attack on Sony Pictures, the entertainment company announced it was pulling the film The Interview.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Curtain: Poirot's Last Case - Episode Review

My review of the previous episode: The Labours of Hercules

I promised myself that I wouldn’t start this review with a personal anecdote. wouldn’t say that I’ve been watching Agatha Christie’s Poirot since I was around five or six, that Poirot and co. have been constant comfort food throughout my childhood. I wouldn’t say how very close David Suchet’s little Belgian was to me.

So now I haven’t said all that, I will say: AGH IT’S OVER. MY CHILDHOOD HAS DIED.
QUOTHTHERAVENNEVERMOREAAGH.

Okay, that’s done.

Friday, December 12, 2014

British Detectives 2015

2015 will get off to a great start with the U.K. premiere of a second season of Broadchurch. The first season (my review) was, by a long stretch, the best TV show I’ve viewed this year. The plot centered on the murder of a young boy, Danny Latimer. As the whodunit played out, we witnessed the town disintegrate into suspicion and betrayal. The media’s arrival, accompanied by incendiary headlines and invasive paparazzi, only exacerbated problems caused by a lengthy investigation. But while the conclusion was devastating, it was not untempered by hope from an unexpected (but appropriate) corner.