Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breaking Bad

Vince Gilligan's series managed to knock "Six Feet Under" out of my top spot for favorite television show of all time. I was hooked on "Breaking Bad" from the beginning. Intrigued by the premise and blown away by its execution, my inner hipster takes immense pleasure in the fact that I have been watching the show on AMC since it first aired.

Walter White's journey has been a fascinating one and "Breaking Bad" has served, for me at least, as a great example of how Brigham Young described the theatre (and, by extension, film and television): "Upon the stage of a theatre can be represented in character, evil and its consequences, good and its happy results and rewards; the weakness and the follies of man, the magnanimity of virtue and the greatness of truth. The stage can be made to aid the pulpit in impressing upon the minds of a community an enlightened sense of a virtuous life, also a proper horror of the enormity of sin and a just dread of its consequences. The path of sin with its thorns and pitfalls, its gins and snares can be revealed, and how to shun it."

We watched Walter give in to evil and how it had consequences. We saw his weakness (pride) and his follies. The greatness of truth in his redemptive act of finally admitting to Skylar his selfish motivations for what he did. And I have always felt impressed with a proper horror of the enormity of sin and a just dread of its consequences by the actions of multiple characters in the series. While there are a fair share innocent bystanders in the series, most of the guilty parties do get what was coming to them. As someone with an overdeveloped sense of justice, it's what I needed to see in order to have closure with this journey and yet I was at first a little torn by seeing Walt come back from the brink, at least a little bit in the end. Then I was glad to see that even though he did embrace the Heisenberg persona in the end, it was to some degree a facade and that Walter still managed to come clean about some things with Skylar and find a way to help his family before going out in the inevitable hale of gunfire.

I'm very grateful for the opportunity to have experienced "Breaking Bad" and to bond with family and friends over the shared journey. I wish to express to the creator, cast and crew of the series a great deal of thanks for their work and wish them all continued success in their careers.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Expiation by Richard Dutcher (Review)

My friend Richard Dutcher wrote an excellent short story titled "Expiation"—published by Sunstone Magazine.

It gave me a lot to think about when it comes to Mormon culture and attitudes regarding a number of topics from redemption to the words of prophets—and how they are interpreted—and attitudes towards the sins and nature of others, especially those that we love.

The story isn't a happy one and is written as a confession discovered in a Utah canyon. The story made me grateful for the light and knowledge that's been made available to us through modern revelation and also disappointed in the fact that so many people will close their eyes and ears to it out of fear of getting something wrong, all the while forgetting that we're not expected to get everything right in the first place.

The story also raises questions for me that I hope someday to find the answers to about Church history and attitudes and beliefs of the early Latter-day Saints and their leaders and how God requires different sacrifices from different groups of His children at different times.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


This was a disturbing film to watch. And I'm glad I was disturbed by it. That isn't to say it wasn't a worthwhile film. It was. And I highly recommend it.

"Zero Dark Thirty" gave me reason to pause. Reason to think and evaluate not just my own values but our country's values. When a CIA officer is yelling at his staff and telling them, "Give me people to kill," I would hope that would make anyone with a conscience stop and think.

It was interesting to learn that the officer(s) who discovered Bin Laden's compound actually wanted to drop a bomb—or use a drone strike, I suppose—but I'm glad it was decided that we put boots on the ground for the operation. There's something to be said for seeing ones enemy up close, especially when the time comes to neutralize them.

Osama Bin Laden is probably the closest this world has come to having an actual super-villain. Should I not use comic-book analogies for something so serious? I guess not. But that's how I feel. But it wasn't a super-hero that took him out. It was regular men and women working hard at what they do.

Having worked for a time in the US Intelligence Community, I can appreciate the effort that was made and the need for teamwork to make such a mission successful. I also felt a certain degree of pride for having once been part of that community and at the same time a bit of shame for the way we've treated detainees in the name of homeland security. I'm still on the fence in regard to what we're doing with armed drones and what that means for future conflicts and perceived threats to our country.