Book Review: The Ball and the Cross

The Ball and the Cross by G. K. Chesterton

The Ball and The Cross by G. K. Chesterton (New York: Dover Publications, 1995; originally published in 1910. 178 pp) G. K. Chesterton was an English writer, philosopher, and Christian apologist. He is best known for his non-fiction such as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. The Good News? “Have you spread the Gospel?” This question operates as a foundational principle for the majority of Evangelicals. The core purpose—maybe even the only purpose—surrounds converting souls. Family must be Christian. When a child is born, the mission of the parents exists only to bring the child to Christ. Unbelievers throughout the family need the cross. I would venture most awkward holiday conversations emerge from this evangelical mandate. Work does not exist for… Read More →

Television Show Review: The Last Man on Earth: Season 1

The Last Man on Earth Season 1

The Last Man on Earth: Season 1 created by Will Forte (Si Fi Company, Lord Miller, 20th Century Fox) Starring Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, and Mel Rodriguez. The Death of Network Comedy Ever since the cancellation of Better Off Ted, I’ve sworn off network television. What’s the point investing in a series when it will get cancelled? It has felt like a gradual slide toward mediocrity, as if anything daring or complicated might alienate too many viewers. Shows need to be just fine. If the quality isn’t up to par, nobody watches and it gets cancelled. But on the other end, if the show is too ambitious, it’ll get the axe because it didn’t get enough viewers. So… Read More →

Television Show Review: Getting On: Season 2

Getting On

Getting On: Season 2 created by Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Joanna Scanlan (BBC Worldwide Productions, Home Box Office, Anima Sola Productions) Starring Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash, Mel Rodriguez. Death and Taxes All that’s guaranteed in life is death and taxes, neither of which are funny. Yes, this statement rings true. You can count on receiving a paycheck much smaller than you expected once the government gleans its share. And long term, you should expect your life to degrade into the sweet sleep of eternity. Both of these aspects of life flat-out suck. So why joke about it? Well, Getting On suggests we joke about death because it can actually be funny. Death Profits Season 2 of Getting… Read More →

Film Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel written and directed by Wes Anderson (Scott Rudin Productions, Indian Paintbrush, Studio Babelsberg, R, 100 min) Starring Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, and Tony Revolori. The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders Anyone prone to independent film ought to know the Wes Anderson brand well enough. The hyper realism. The cheeky humor. The cinematic jokes. Anderson’s work might be one of the most distinctive in Hollywood. And, Wes Anderson became the source for my favorite SNL short last year, actually. So it’s interesting to see Anderson play with his signature elements… Read More →

Book Review: The Happiest People in the World

The Happiest People in the World

The Happiest People in the World: A Novel by Brock Clarke (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2014. 344 pp) Brock Clarke is the author of three previous novels, including the bestselling An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England, and two story collections. He is currently in the English department at Bowdoin College, and he lives in Portland, Maine. The Hedonist Paradox Have you ever tried to be happy? Not in an ethereal suggestive sort of way. Because we all would rather be happy. But we also don’t usually make our decisions with happiness as the sole portion of a decision matrix. I mean happiness in a decisive, get-up-in-the-morning-and-decide-your-route-throughout-the-day-based-on-the-level-of-happiness-it-might-bring kind of way. There’s an intriguing principle in ethics called the… Read More →

Book Review: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour: A Novel by Joshua Ferris (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014. 352 pp) Joshua Ferris is the author of two previos novels, Then We Came to the End and The Unnamed. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, and The Best American Short Stories. Ferris was chosen for The New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list of fiction writers in 2010. He Lives in New York Modernity Examined The modern world offers an exorbitant amount of preposterousness when considered deeply. We’re an advanced culture that’s been able to push past the limitations of Babel, and yet we don’t want to go beyond “good morning” with our co-workers, people we… Read More →

Book Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, Etc. by David Sedaris (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013.  288 pp) David Sedaris is an American humorist and the author of Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, among many others. He graduated from the School of Art Institute of Chicago and currently lives in West Sussex, England. Retreads Five seasons in, I’m facing a dilemma with the critically acclaimed series, Modern Family. Each episode treads on the same ideas. Phil Dunphy does something silly. Jay Pritchett makes a snide comment about his stepson’s masculinity. Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett are fighting about something. And yet, the show is really funny. As long as I… Read More →

Film Review: American Hustle

American Hustle

American Hustle written by Eric Singer and David O. Russell, directed by David O. Russell (Atlas Entertainment, Annapurna Pictures, R, 138 min) Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence. The Long Con There are days when I feel as if life is a long con. Sometimes it seems like our actions and the ways we relate to each other reflect some sort of cosmic joke. When you think about it, life is a little absurd. We function; create value in society; find love and connect to each other in marriage. How did this complicated puzzle come together? Is it possible that the other shoe might drop? David O. Russell’s American Hustle delights in the absurdity… Read More →

Book Review: The Psychopath Test

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test: A Journey through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson (London: Picador, 2012. 288 pp) Jon Ronson is a Welsh journalist, author, and documentarian. He studied at Westminster University. Ronson’s most known work, The Men Who Stare at Goats, became a feature-length film. Making Soup As an impressionable teenager, I had the opportunity to learn a few valuable tips about teaching and public speaking. The biggest, and most important, point I’ve continued to hold dear is the principle of illustrate and elevate. That when you have an idea to convey, you want to find a story, a metaphor, or a joke to give the audience an idea about the direction of your discussion. During this learning experience, I… Read More →

Book Review: Love Is a Dog from Hell

Love Is a Dog from Hell: Poems, 1974-1977 by Charles Bukowski (New York: Ecco, 2003; originally published in 1977. 312 pp) Charles Bukowski is one of America’s best-known contemporary writers of poetry and prose. He was born in Andernach, Germany, to an American soldier father and a German mother in 1920, and he moved to the United States at the age of three. He was raised in Los Angeles and lived there for fifty years. He published his first story in 1944 when he was twenty-four and began writing poetry at the age of thirty-five. He died in San Pedro, California, on March 9, 1994, at the age of seventy-three. For a Friend I recently lost a friend of mine…. Read More →