Monday, September 30, 2013

Breaking Bad Shakespeare: The End

“The whole thing felt kinda shady, like morality wise.”
Skinny Pete, wrapping it all up for us.

I’m going to start this wrap up/analysis of Breaking Bad (And Breaking Bad Shakespeare) by saying... “wow.” There’s not a human being alive who didn’t think that this show wasn’t going to end with Walter White going to that big Meth Lab in the sky (or down below... he’s cooking the purest meth for Satan now, I guess) but I don’t think anyone could have called it exactly like that. Let’s get this out of the way: I thought his was a fantastic series finale.

Some of the debate seems to go around the idea that Walter White... Heisenberg... “won” despite the fact that he now has newly ventilated lungs. (It was one of those TV “vague shots to the midsection that could be a flesh wound, could mean he’s going to die” sort of things. I’d like to think it pierced is cancerous, cancerous lungs.) The thing is... Walter White didn’t win at all. Heisenberg won... his blue meth is off the street. Walt lost while winning, the grand tradition of tragic Shakespearean heroes everywhere.

First, let’s tackle how Walter White lost tragically. There’s a reason he started cooking meth: To save for his family. Walt was never going to fight to stop the cancer, he was never going to do battle, he was in give-up mode from day one. Make money, give it to his kids, bam. He took treatment when his wife turned around, made it about her, and then he was making money to pay for cancer treatments AND saving for his kids’ future, since he truly believed that it was futile. (This was before he was “good at it.” We’ll get to that line in a moment.)

Walt lost because he’s not giving his kids anything. Remember when Walter, Jr. “Flynn” set up a web page to save his father? Remember the outrage when Saul suggested that Walt launder the money through that? Remember when Walt didn’t want to be handed a job at Grey Matters because he had to earn it for his kids? Yes, Flynn won’t accept money from his father, so this the roundabout way he gives it to his kids, etc. But he loses out on the recognition. He loses out on the ability to say, “I provided for my family.” It was never about the money, and it wasn’t about the meth to start, it was about Walter White: hero to his family. Yes. Gretchen and Elliot will make sure Flynn gets the money. But Walt doesn’t get to say it was from him. It’s actually one of his worst nightmares.

I say this in the grand tradition, because other Shakespearean Tragic Figures have won by  losing like this. Claudius is exposed about 10 second before dying, after which Hamlet can go to his grave knowing that he won. Macbeth was king, and he did win... he didn’t lose his kingship to anyone woman born, nor until the trees of biram moved, which I’m sure comforted him for the 10 seconds his brain was still alive after it he was beheaded. King Lear learned his final lesson after his beloved daughter is killed. I put Walter White in this category. His pride got him into this situation. It’s by putting his pride aside that he’s able to achieve his goal of providing for his family. 

I was glad to see Jesse escape not just captivity from the Nazis (without having to resort to any bad language) but from Walter White. Had Jesse taken that moment to kill Walt, it would have meant he was trapped with him forever (alive for dead) but he was finally able to break free by NOT killing him. (He did see the blood, but at that point it meant nothing. He knew Walt was dead, but he wasn’t going to be the one to do it.) Personally, I felt that was one of the greatest moments of the show: Jesse finally free from Walter White. Jesse able to go make his own way.

The finale was full of little character moments like this, but I like that they were all framed around Walt. This is very much Walter White’s story. I’m glad they didn’t overplay Marie... just had her offer a word of warning to her sister. I’m glad we saw Holly, Flynn and Skyler again, but it was a nice reminder that their story ended back when they threw Walter out of their lives. (I know it’s television, but either Walt turned into a lot more of a master criminal than we thought, or the agents keeping tabs on her home weren’t very good. I do like the fact that Skyler didn’t immediately turn him back in.) 

The appearance of Badger and Skinny Pete was excellent for a few reasons, not the least of which being that it was a reminder that Heisenberg was a legend. I think that tended to fall flat for a bit in the final seasons. He was, as Hank (RIP) said, “A meth chef.” It’s also a nice call back to the start of the show, when they didn’t have the resources or the connection to call in an army to invade a compound, or to hire hitmen, like Walt was trying to do last episode. Gretchen and Elliot got taken by a pair of burnouts with laser pointers.

There were a few moments that fell flat for me (as with anything, really.) I really thought the final phone call from Lydia was a bit much... I would have much rather seen her coughing and get the implication that she was poisoned. The whole Gretchen and Elliot scene seemed off. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the casualness of Walter, strolling up to the door and his casual conversation. But I feel Walt needed more of a push against them. It was the two of them, dismissing him that caused him to spring back into action. Remember what I said before about losing his legacy? Here’s the physical representation of people that took it away from him. They didn’t have to die, but I just wish he had done more to address the fact they downplayed his involvement, even if he “understood why.” 

Then there’s Walt’s admission. I both loved and hated this scene. Talking to Skyler, he finally admits what everyone figured out since the time that he was noticed for his meth-cooking abilities, that he liked it, and he was good at it. I’m glad that the writers showed that he acknowledged it... he did this because he enjoyed it. I almost wish they found a way to incorporate it better. I almost feel that the last scene of the series, Walt walking through the meth lab before the police come, dying, shows this off better than anything that Walt could have said.

Let’s talk for one moment about Walt’s final act of redemption, shall we? I suspect that Walt’s original plan many not have involved saving Jesse, rather making him part of the bloody tableau that ended the show. Yes, it’s last minute redemption to remind us that Walt was never the ruthless drug kingpin he wanted to be. (Also, really, at this point what would killing Jesse serve?) It was immediately made a little selfish by the fact that he wanted Jesse to finish the job, to kill him

That last scene... I’m obsessed with last scenes. Even if I don’t watch a show, or I’m not interested in a book, I’ll do what I can to find out how it ends. I like thinking about the final image that a book or play or TV show will leave us. Last scenes are hard, though. Take Star Trek: The Next Generation. Personally, I hate the final scene of the series, because it wasn’t really. It was just waiting for them to head to the movies. Deep Space Nine, with Jake staring out the window... that to me is one of the finest final scenes a show has ever done. Obviously, with this show I was much more invested. This was a final scene. The deposed King, dying not with his family but in the place where he was truly great. This is up there in final scenes of a show, even if you didn’t enjoy the rest of the show. (and I know that some people didn’t enjoy it. That’s their right, even if they’re wrong.) But also, did you catch the way that Walter was wearing a green shirt and khaki pants... the same thing he was wearing in the first episode, when this all started. 

Ending the show the way it did... with Walter dying in a meth lab as the result of a self-inflicted accidental wound... ranks it up there with the great tragic heroes of literature. I’ve made this point many times, and I’m going to make it again: Breaking Bad should rank up their with great literature. It needs to be rewatched, studied. We’re going to need to discuss this for years to come to catch the symbolism. I enjoyed it. And I look forward to watching it again. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Breaking Bad Shakespeare Predictions

We all know what happens tonight. That’s right, tonight, after a way to long summer, we can finally find out what’s up with Neverland and Peter Pan in Once Upon a Time! Finally! I’m sure you, like me, have been waiting all summer to find out what’s going to happen when Rumplestilskin, Snow White, Prince Charming, and the rest of the gang are going to do once they get there on board Captain Hook’s magic ship.

(While I enjoy that show, I really can’t believe that was a sentence that I was able to type because it really is going to happen outside of Disney Fan Fiction.)

Oh, and we’ll get to see the end of Breaking Bad, one of the finest sagas to ever grace our television screens, stages, big screen, or puppet theaters. I guess there’s that, too.

A lot of critics, bloggers, writers, and bookies are making predictions to how it is going to end. Back when the season started, I made a few predictions on how it should end, based on it’s legacy as a Shakespearean Tragedy. Well, now that we are here, and I have a lot more accurate picture of what’s going on (and everything that’s blowing me away, like a bomb attached to an old man’s wheelchair.) I wanted to offer up my own predictions as to what was going to happen tonight on the final episode of Breaking Bad. We’ll either commend how right I was, or laugh at how off the mark I was. Either way, it’s going to be fun.

Here’s the obligatory note that there will be spoilers for the last few episodes of Breaking Bad. If you’re not caught up what are you doing reading this blog? If you’re caught up, keep reading. Also, as a quick side note, if you can’t watch it tonight and can’t help but going on Social Media, don’t whine about being spoiled. It’s a great show. Watch it live. If you have to wait, don’t ruin the discussion for the rest of America.

Anyway, here’s the breakdown of what I think is going to happen.

Holly and Walt Jr.: I think they’re going to be relative non-entities for the final episode. Holly’s job was to get us all to support Walt in the first few episodes of the series (he’s got a baby! Of course he needs to cook meth to make millions for her!) and Walt’s job was pretty much done last week by giving the defeating blow to Walter White, pretty much killing him. Of course, Shakespearean Analysis gives us the evidence that if Walt eats a bullet, Walt Jr. Is the one who is going to pull the trigger.

(Quick sidenote: If Walter White doesn’t die but is left homeless, I’d like to see a flash forward where older Holly is walking down the street and walk past him dead in an alley, not paying attention to him.)

Marie: She’s a wildcard. I’d like to think that she’ll be left alone to go mourn the death of her husband. I’d also like to think that Walt is going to sneak her a few bucks, or at least the location of where her hubby’s been buried by murderous Nazis (but not before AMC helpfully bleeped out the “F-Word” he said.) But honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marie’s involvement is little, only to remind us that she’s a victim of Heisenberg.  They made a point last week to let us know that Skyler is living in a tiny apartment... not with her sister. 

Saul Goodman: He’s done. His story was done last week, in true Shakespearean Fool Fashion... give one last bit of somber, good advice before vanishing. Just happy he wasn’t killed. (The spinoff is a prequel. He wasn’t safe from the Grim Reaper.) Maybe he’ll appear in a montage of reactions to whatever happens to Walt.

Skyler: Sadly, I think Skyler is dead. Even though at the end she turned on Walt, she’s complicit enough, and slowly sliding down... if this was truly Shakespeare, she’d have killed herself already. Maybe a suicide is down the line. But this is something that would really raise the stakes. She also fully betrayed Walt... helped to turn him in. Towards the end, I didn’t mind Skyler as much... I think people tended to forget that the first few seasons (when she was horrible... and yes, she was horrible) she was a prop. She was a prop to remind us that Walter had a family, and a kind of overbearing wife. (Her first line was about the credit card.) Then later, when he got diagnosed, she made it his diagnosis. I think she needs to continue being that reminder that what Walt did was bad, and that she still helped him... at one point talking about killing Jesse. I just think she has to die, either by her own hand, Nazis (hopefully not yelling any swear words first) or maybe even by her sister.

Jesse: You’ll note that I’m going in a certain order. Also, that I didn’t talk about Todd and his Nazi buddies. Yeah, Todd is dead at Jesse’s hand. Todd died last week when he killed Jesse’s former girlfriend/love interest. Jesse’s going to kill him, and probably go out in a blaze of glory. Maybe by blowing up the meth lab, with Lydia in it? Maybe blowing it up after Walt comes in to get his revenge? Jesse, to me, is the biggest wildcard that this show has... literally anything can happen. He can live and go straight... his arc complete from low-life drug user to reformed man (maybe teaching chemistry?) or he could die, sacrificing himself for the greater good.

Walter White: Let’s get this out of the way right way: Walter White is dead. He’s dead. He died in that bar, last week, when he realized his ENTIRE LEGACY is gone. He did his last charitable act... trying to turn himself in to safe his wife, then he died. Heisenberg got up from the bar. Heisenberg was at that Denny’s in the first episode of Season 5. Heisenberg said hello to Carol. Heisenberg is going on a rampage to take out the Nazi’s, get his money back, save his family (possibly not Jesse) and end this all on his terms. 

Sadly, we know that Heisenberg is dead at the end of this show. Either by losing it all, dying in an alley (as I mentioned) or by his own hand. And that’s where we’re going. I wouldn’t be surprised if Heisenberg survives the shootout with Nazis. Survives whatever the show gives us. And one of the final scenes is him taking that Ricin. (or possibly Jesse giving him the Ricin... either way, the Ricin is for Heisenberg.) The final scene may be a flashback to a happier time, maybe bringing back Hank for a final look at a family cookout. 

Either way, we’ll be breaking down what happens tomorrow, on an all new Bad Shakespeare. Maybe we’ll cover a little Peter Pan. Who knows.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Banned Books Week: Don't be a Jerk

So, here we are at the end of Banned Books Week. It’s almost time to take down the Banned Books tree, put aside the Banned Book presents, and... I may be thinking of another holiday. 

At the start of Banned Books Week, the American Library Association usually has their list of activities and “what you can do” lists. I like to save mine for the end of the week. The week itself is about awareness, but banning books is a problem for 52 weeks out of the year, not just this one. People publish articles, blogs, whatever for this week reminding people about the problem of banned books. But it has to go deeper than that. So, what can YOU do about banned books?

-The obvious, of course, is not to ban books. Look, I throw this in here, and we all have a hearty laugh (ha!) at the idea that step one is not to ban any books. But that’s easier said than done, sometimes. If something offends you, discuss it. If you don’t like something, talk about it. And if you really, really, hate something don’t ruin it for everyone. We’re all different. Some people like Star Trek: The Next Generation, others like Deep Space Nine. Same with books and values. 

I’ll give you an example: if I were to ban any book today, it’d be Twilight. It has nothing to do with the fact that it’s poorly written. I personally think it’s a dangerous book for young girls to read. The protagonist is a girl who’s special, “just ‘cause” and then proceeds to define herself by her boyfriend, at one point almost killing herself to see images of him after he leaves her. Don’t get me started on the power imbalance between the two. Despite the fact that he’s an immortal, chaste vampire (creepy that a 146 year old man loves a 17 year old girl... I digress) and she’s a normal girl and they get engaged, he won’t turn her into his equal. It’s not until the last minute (after the first time they have sex... after they’re married and even then there are issues) that he finally turns her into his equal. It’s a classic story of an abusive relationship, but extremely romanticized. I just don’t like it. Should it be banned? Nope. I’d hope that anyone in my family that read it would have the values I instill in them to recognize that it’s fiction, that there are issues with it, and if they meet an 146 year old man that finds them cute they’d come talk to me first. But because I didn’t like it, and I have these problems with it doesn’t mean that others shouldn’t read it.

-Read. Read. Read. Read. Read any book you can get your hands on, especially the banned ones. These are the ones that need the most love. Also, reading is fun, as you get to create new worlds in your head. Sure, watching Game of Thrones is fun. But wasn’t it MORE fun when you got to imagine what the Throne looked like in your head? 

Hey, did you notice that I was able to go into detail as to why I didn’t enjoy Twilight? Could it be because I READ THE BOOK? I just didn’t enjoy it. But I read enough of it to be properly informed, and not just throw out vaguries like “unsuited for age group” or “this book is pornography.” I didn’t like the book and was able to make a coherent argument why. Disagree with me. Love me. It doesn’t really matter.

-Encourage others to read. This was actually a good year for me in sharing books. I got someone on the Matched Series, they got me on Mortal Instruments. I got someone else to read The Fault in Our Stars and Thirteen Reasons Why. I was able to burn through about 30 books so far this year. (I don’t always talk about it. Sometimes I have nothing to say. Sometimes I end up with The Twelve, which essentially renders the  last book in the series moot, and actually has a whole section where you learn about the two ancestors of a character that are unrelated to a plot and... it was just... it was just so horrible. Don’t make me relive it, people.) 

But encouraging others to read is important, especially in this day and age. It’s never been easier to get a book. Literally. I’m willing to bet that you’re either reading this on a device that can download a book in seconds, or there’s some device in arms reach that will allow you to do it. So read a book. Look for suggestions. Read anything you want. Don’t be tied down to labels. 

-Lastly, don’t be a jerk. This sort of ties into the whole “don’t ban a book” I mentioned up top, but seriously, calm down. Understand that we live in a country that’s designed to protect everyone’s rights to read, enjoy, worship the way they want, so long as they don’t physically hurt anyone. That means that not everyone is going to share your values. Not everyone will think they way that you do. If they did, it might get old, fast. You need to calm down, understand that it’s a big bright beautiful world, and we’re all going to be different. 

Rather than trouncing quickly on someone else’s point of view, ideas, or way of life, read. Learn. You don’t have to like it, but at least you can talk about it intelligently. At least you can discuss it in a way that doesn’t make you look like a raving lunatic. Also, it opens the doors of discussion, and lets people know that you’re someone you can talk to. It’s just that simple.

We’ll still talk about banned books, mostly as the situations arise. Toni Morrison is under attack by a lot of “concerned parents” lately, almost as if the effort was coordinated somehow. (I’m not often prone to conspiracy theories. I just calls’em like I sees’em.) But I certainly hope you enjoyed this week with me as I discussed a topic that I think is too important.

It’s 2013. The words “Banned Books” shouldn’t exist in America. Let’s work on that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Banned Books Week: Thirteen Reasons Why Book Report

For information on Banned Books Week and what you can do, please visit the American Library Association’s page on Banned Books right here. 

I’ve read plenty of banned or challenged books. Not by design, of course. I don’t search them out, it’s just that a lot of people are attempting to ban books lately, so it’s never been easier to find a ban book... go read one today.

One of my absolute favorite banned books is Jay Asher’s 2007 young adult novel Thirteen Reasons Why. (sometimes it’s stylized as Th1rteen R3asons Why. I’m not going to spell it this way. All due respect to Jay Asher.) It’s about a high school boy named Clay Jensen that comes home one day and finds a package full of cassette tapes (kids, ask your parents) from a girl named Hannah Baker, a girl in his class who recently killed herself. The tapes are her suicide note, describing the 13 reasons why she killed herself. Anyone who gets the tapes is one of the 13 reasons why she did it. From this point, the point of view goes back and forth between Clay, dealing with the fact that he’s on the list, and Hannah, describing from beyond the grave as to what happened. 

This obviously is a heavy, heavy book. One of the main characters has committed suicide, and yes, they are some big reasons. (To tell you too much would be to ruin too many of the surprises and take away some of the impact. I’m not being vague to be obnoxious. I keep mentioning Klingons to be obnoxious.) But the moral of the story is a fantastic one: How we treat each other matters. Or how we don’t treat each other matters. It’s a good message. An important message that is even more important in today’s world when it’s really easy to just dismiss someone quickly in a text, Facebook message, or other way that has yet to be invented.

How you treat people matters.

Of course, this is all told in the heaviest way possible. I’m not going to go out of my way and say that this is a happy go-lucky-feel-good-yay-for-the-world book. (Which seems to be the only one the Book Banners want kids to read. Then they complain when they’re not equipped to handle the real world. IRONY!) 

Books like Thirteen Reasons Why (or Th1rteen R3asons Why... it’s growing on me) are part of that literature that takes a look at the human condition and how we interact. 

I look at books like this as the reason why kids should read things that may make them initially uncomfortable. This is a deep book, one that makes you think. I’ve talked about a lot of other books on this blog, some great because they’re right up my alley when it comes to monsters and demons, like the Mortal Instruments Series. (I still hate Simon. So. Much.) Some are great because they are well-written pieces that make me reflect on my own moments, like how taking the elevator is a sign of weakness, like The Fault in Our Stars. Some are good because I like the storyline, but could be better written, like the Road to Woodbury, which was still freaking awesome, The Walking Dead returning to AMC this October following Breaking Bad. (This paragraph brought to you by Carl Jr’s. ) But this book stuck with me. I can’t shake it.

Now, I read this when I was in my 20’s. The most recent thing I’ve been banned from doing was renting a car, and for a brief time in my late 20’s, quoting Doctor Who. I may have gone a bit overboard. So really, I wasn’t in any danger of not reading Thirteen Reasons Why. So to get myself in the mood for writing this post. I was thinking of how I would feel if I was told I wasn’t allowed to read this book, because of many of it’s heavier themes.

Ok, I mentioned earlier that I wasn’t going to talk about spoilers for this book, but as I go on, I’m realizing I can’t. So, spoilers follow. Think of this as analysis an not review. The whole point of this book is that Clay was the only one nice to her, and she wanted him to know that. He wasn’t a “reason” for something he did, but for not doing something. Hannah was sexually assaulted at a party. No one was willing to talk to her about it. She had nowhere to turn except a bottle of pills. 

And that’s sort of the point I’ve been talking about for most of Banned Books Week. Banning books like this, because a girl is assaulted and can’t talk to anyone about it, ONLY CONTINUES TO CAUSE THE PROBLEM. By telling kids that a subject is so taboo that we have to ban it, we’re telling them that they can’t talk about it. Then they don’t feel they have a place to go. Then we have a ton of Hannahs, all because it’s easier to push a subject away rather than talk about it.

I keep making this point. This is an important point. 

We can’t cut off access to books like this. Yes. It’s difficult. I put it on the list of fantastic books I look forward to never reading again. (but I probably will. And it will be in one day.) But it’s important that we don’t ban subjects. Sometimes, it’s easiest to connect through people with books, and we have to remember that we need to remain open to discussing these things. It may be unpleasant. But that doesn’t make it any less important.

Whew. One more day to go. I promise tomorrow’s post is going to be a bit lighter than this.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Banned Books Week: Why?

"Censorship ends in the logical completeness when nobody is allowed to read any books except the books that no one reads."  -  George Bernard Shaw 

At this point we are four days into Banned Books Week. Or three posts, if you’re following it primarily via Bad Shakespeare. In which case I thank you, and I feel you deserve a reward... feel free to go eat some ice cream today, on me. You deserve it.
Today I want to tackle a topic that I’m sure is on everyone’s mind as we talk about, celebrate, and point out things about Banned Books, mostly: why? Why have a week celebrating them? Why worry about books that are banned? After all, we’re not talking about a nationwide ban on these books. Because one school says “you can read it” there are still other opportunities to check it out. Kids could seek out the books. Kids have the ability to find the books via other means. While there are nationwide laws on standards of teaching, there are no nationwide laws on which books can be read. So... why do we care?

Because cutting off access to literature is never a good thing. For any reason. Most of the time Book Banning is a knee jerk reaction to themes, words, or (in some cases) disapproval of the personal life of the writer. When something is removed from a classroom or a library, it sends a dangerous message to kids, teachers, and the book banners. 

To the kids it sends a message that something in the book was “wrong.” The problem is, what is “Wrong?” Oh, there are clear cut cases of things that are wrong: murder, stealing, not liking Firefly... But some of it comes down to personal values. As I talked about yesterday: is swearing wrong? What’s swearing? While researching this, I found that some people consider “Hell” a bad word, depending on the context, yet you can still see it all over the place. Is “Fuck”?

There are other values that I dance around supporting sometimes. What about Homosexuality? Some people consider that wrong? I personally don’t, but one of the books I was looking at was banned for presenting “Homosexuality as normal”. (Their words were a lot harsher. I won’t repeat it.) I think that whether you feel sexuality is a choice or not, it’s no one’s damn business who you love. (Unless it’s Anne Hathaway... she’s mine.) But it goes deeper than that, because if you’re fighting to have a book banned for “homosexuality” (the characters. Books are inanimate objects and can rarely be attracted to each other. Except for Neverwhere. I think it stalked me for a little while.)  So, you’re telling your kid that homosexuality is wrong, and worse you aren’t even willing to talk about it with them. It’s the same with anything.

I remember getting into a rather... let’s say “heated” discussion with a former classmate over Ellen Hopkins’ Crank. While Crank wasn’t the happiest of books to read, I had to admit it dealt with a lot of subjects I felt would be relevant to the age group I was pretending to teach at the time: eating disorders, first love, going “all the way” (do kids still use that phrase? Kids, ask your parents. Parents, enjoy that conversation), and a lot of other heavy subjects. The classmate took the idea that they would NEVER EVER TEACH THIS BOOK because of all those subjects. Kids shouldn’t know about those things! How dare someone market this as young adult! My point was this: If you teach kids that these subjects are “wrong” by simply not talking about it, when they do encounter these problems, they’re less likely to talk to anyone about it. They’ll turn to a lot of other places to learn these things, then guess what they don’t learn... any values you want to instill in them. They just learn they can’t talk about it with you.

Banning Books sends a terrible message to teachers. Some of this blog has been my journey towards teacherdom. Or Teacherness. I don’t know, word isn’t recognizing either of those words. Shakespeare invented plenty of words, just think of me like him. Anyway, so I am working hard to become a teacher. Eventually I may even become one to someone other than my cats. But I have created lesson plans. And I like to use a wide variety of literature, including banned books. Once those resources are eventually taken away, what do you think happens to that teacher? Some find other ones. And then they’ll find more when those other ones are banned. This will continue until the teacher eventually burns out. Then you lose good teachers because they don’t have the tools they need to teach. They’re reading the one Dr. Seuss Book that is “ok” to read in class until someone finds out that it’s actually an allegory for treating everyone fairly, then that will probably get pulled to. After all, “a person’s a person, no matter how small.”  (I use this line because it’s been co-opted by a group that doesn’t realize that it has nothing to do with their group; it’s about treating everyone with respect.)

Lastly, successful book bans send a horrible message to the Book Banners. And that message is this: We’ll put up with it. I mentioned at the start of this week to not be too hard on the Book Banners; after all they believe that they have a justification for banning the book. It’s the Lex Luthor Paradox. Lex believes that what he’s doing is right because there’s a freaking alien with Superpowers running around his city. He’s just rich enough to do something about it. (So is Bruce Wayne, but he’s too busy building bat shaped airplanes, and working with the alien menace) Book Banners to believe what they’re doing is right, but like Lex Luthor, they’re not necessarily right.

It’s what takes us down that slippery slope. Hey, it’s just The Hunger Games, in addition to being violent it’s just pop culture garbage (according to that hippy that worked at the bookstore, anyway). Right? No one is missing anything. Oh, and Speak has to go, but it’s not a “classic” so that’s not a problem. But while we’re at it, let’s  also ban The Diary of Anne Frank because of some of the themes. While we’re at it, why not change around some of the bad language.... language specifically chosen by Mark Twain to make a point... in Huckleberry Finn.  Let’s ban most of Toni Morrison’s work by calling it Pornography. You ban one book, for any reason, you lay the groundwork to ban them ALL. And trust me, there are people who will find a reason to ban a book, for any reason. 

So, why should we care that any access to books is being cut off? Because allowing it sends a terrible message to everyone. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Banned Books Week: Let Me Count the Ways

"Do you have to use so many cuss words?"

For today’s post on Banned Books Week, I’d like to take a minute to talk about Math. You see, in nature, Math Teachers and English Teachers are enemies. When English Teachers are grazing down at the Oasis, they are constant alert from protractor attacks from Math Teachers. It’s really an interesting dynamic.

No, the real reason I want to talk about math is probably my least favorite thing when it comes to the book banners: the trend to count the number of “infractions” in a book. They count the number of references to things they disapprove of, or worst yet, they count words. Words they deem inappropriate, to be exact. Because, you know, 39 “Fucks” is WAY more harmful than 38.

Once again, I point out (Spoilers, but if you’re a fan you watched Breaking Bad from last week at this point. But Spoilers I guess.) that Jesse Pinkman’s dreaded “F-word” was bleeped out before the Nazi’s beat him and shot his girlfriend in the head. I will never stop making this joke: Thank goodness the children in the audience were spared the naughty word before this scene.

We freak out way too much about words. Yes, part of this week is the power of words. Words are powerful, but they only have the power we put behind them. Fuck, shit, hell, damn, crap, sa'Hut, denIb qatlh... someone said, “these are bad words” then someone else said, “yes, they’re bad” then we sit around and we continue to pretend that they have any more meaning than anything else.  In the case of the last two, we actually know who decided they were “bad words” since they’re Klingon swear words. I’m on a real Klingon kick this week, in addition to banned books. Anyway, then someone sits down, counts the number of times they show up in a book, then decides that there is some magic number that makes it inappropriate.

I’m also smart enough to know that teenagers probably aren’t picking up a lot of their obscenities from hearing it for the first time from Catcher in the Rye. That’s just one man’s educated guest, of course.

I’ve said this before, but this week in particular: Banned Books week, we take a look at a reason that people say that books can’t be read by certain people: Words THEY DEEMED IN APPROPRIATE BASED ON AN ARBITRARY RULE. Let’s not deny a chance to experience all the words in a book based on the idea that a few of them are taboo.

Particularly ones that are deemed taboo by people that have the time to count the words they find objectionable in each book. And then decide that number might be too high. Because reasons.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Banned Books Week: The Power of Ideas

“The burning of a book is a sad, sad sight, for even though a book is nothing but ink and paper, it feels as if the ideas contained in the book are disappearing as the pages turn to ashes and the cover and binding--which is the term for the stitching and glue that holds the pages together--blacken and curl as the flames do their wicked work. When someone is burning a book, they are showing utter contempt for all of the thinking that produced its ideas, all of the labor that went into its words and sentences, and all of the trouble that befell the author . . .” 
― Lemony Snicket

Welcome to Bad Shakespeare’s coverage of Banned Books Week! Technically, it started yesterday but I don’t post on Sundays (That’s Walter White’s Day...) so the “celebration” of banned books began yesterday. 

Previously on Bad Shakespeare: I did talk about Banned Books last year about this time. I’m going to do my best to make sure I don’t cover the same stuff, but I can’t promise I won’t make some of the same points but hey... these points are important. In 2013 America, we shouldn’t be talking about banning or challenging books. We shouldn’t be talking about stopping the free flow of ideas to people because someone pretends they’re inappropriate but in reality they’re afraid of the ideas, and rather than “discussing them” they’ve decided to take the path of “putting their fingers in their ears and screaming ‘la la la I can’t hear you’” until people give up. 

Here’s a few things to think about as we head into this week, and as I get on my proverbial soapbox. (In reality it’s a red couch. It’s quite snazzy and would get me noticed in the public square if one still existed.) 

These books are just banned in a few places, why do we care? Because it starts with a few books in a few places, then it spreads. Because if someone thinks it’s ok one one place, whats’ the stop them from going further? Today it’s Hunger Games, but what’s going to happen when it’s Beloved, Romeo and Juliet, or 1984? Unless 1984 is being banned ironically. Then banning 1984 or Fahrenheit 451 is actually kind of hilarious. But after than, then what do we ban? Who do we worry about? Should we reduce all literature and ideas to a simple few pages that’s approved by one group? How do we pick the group? 

Why is banning books such a big deal? Because it’s not the book that’s being banned, it’s the ideas contained within the book. I believe it was the famous Klingon General Gowron that said, “Have you ever fought an idea, Picard? It has no weapon to destroy, no body to kill...” which is inaccurate. Ideas are wonderfully resilient, but are very easily removed. Get rid of that book, the idea tends to, vanish. The idea of Banned Books week is to call to attention ideas that are being removed from the classroom.

Don’t parents know what’s best for their kids? Sure. Sometimes. I have plenty of pictures in sailor suits that may say otherwise. I’m not talking about taking things away from them. But part of going to school and being exposed to a world outside is also being exposed to different ideas to built. The problem is that once you see “concerned parent that wishes not to be named” when a discussion of banned books, it doesn’t always happen to be a “concerned parent.” And those that do, I just had to do a year of classes, pass three major tests, and I still have a year to go before I’m allowed to teach English. I’m wondering, those parents that want to ban books, how much training did they go through? Just as I’m not the person to come to when discussing tort reform (I’m not sure what that is. Some kind of pastry?) or how to put out a fire, I’d like to think that perhaps parents, who have not read a book or have some vague memory of a book, would not come into my office tell me how to do my job. 

But what about inappropriate content? Define “inappropriate”. What’s inappropriate to some people is just fine by others. Part of growing up is learning how to deal with “inappropriate” comments or things that challenges you. I’m not saying that you have to accept every banned book, I’m saying that if you’re not going to accept it, howzabout you be intelligent and informed enough to tell me why.

That includes naughty words. Can we stop pretending that reading a book that has the dreaded “F-Word” in it will be the first time that a kid has heard something like that? Because it’s not. I promise you. Also, it’s a word... we’ve discussed the giraffe out of that word.

You’re right! Tar and Feather the Book Banners! No. I’m not calling for tarring and feathering anyone, that’s an outdated practice that’s only mentioned because of the power Washington DC Tar and Feather Lobby. It’s important to remember that some people do want a book removed for legit reasons. Maybe they feel their kids won’t understand it. Maybe they do feel the ideas are too advanced. (and “hiding it” is easier than “discussing it.”) 

Let’s take for instance, a book that someone attempted to ban here in Fairfax County and I talked about a few months back. The parent was concerned: her son was having nightmares brought about by the book. That’s a real concern. One that could be solved by discussion. But I can understand why a parent’s first instinct would be to remove the book. (Of course, a little  digging showed us that her son no longer went to the school and she had a history of attempting to ban books that didn’t fit into her worldview. )

  It doesn't make it right to want to ban books. But it is important to remember that generally, people aren't acting out of malice, they're acting out of fear.

I have a lot of fun stuff planned for this week as we work together to stop the senseless banning of books. I hope you are able to stay tuned throughout the week.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Breaking Bad is Literature

You know, since I started working on this blog while Breaking Bad is airing, I’ve started putting this little tag letting you know that I’ll be covering spoilers. Is it even necessary? I mean, I post these the Friday after the episode aired. That was on Sunday. Did you really manage to avoid everything until then? If you didn’t, then you deserve to have me tell you that the episode ended with Walt turning into a Dragon and attacking Arizona. Grrr. Arrggh.

As you may know, next week is Banned Books Week. Which means we’ll be taking a break from Breaking Bad Shakespeare Fridays. I’ll be doing a special on Monday analyzing if it ended as a Shakespearean piece, or merely as something Marlowe may have slapped together to cover his drinking debts, because screw Marlowe. You heard me.

In the meantime, and in the spirit of Banned Books Week next week, I wanted to take a special look at Breaking Bad in the spirit of banned book weeks. Mostly, this show that I’ve been comparing to a Shakespearean tragedy (because it very much is a Shakespearean tragedy, and there are people with phD’s that agree with me, not just a guy with a blog and three days to fill. (I suppose I could cut back, but here I am...). Many of the themes are the same, the body count is lower than in a lot of Shakespearean Plays, the violence is just about the same, but I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone to put Breaking Bad in a classroom as an example of great literature. (Never mind that Shakespeare didn’t write a word of his plays to be read, he wrote them to be performed, yet we say how Shakespeare is nothing but literature.) 

Quick note: some of this post is because of last week’s Breaking Bad, in which we poured some Schraderbrau on the curb for ASAC Schrader. However, I hope that people understood that in an episode that contained a shootout between two DEA Agents and a group of Meth-Dealing Nazis, both DEA Agents being murdered, the brutal torture and imprisonment of a guy, a knife fight between a husband and wife, and the kidnapping of a baby, the helpful censored made sure we didn’t hear any naughty words in the form of ASAC Schrader’s final “Fuck” to the bad guys. I’m glad that we got to think of the kids in the audience not hearing any bad words before Walt confesses to letting a woman die because she was getting in the way of his Meth-Cooking.

That brings me to my point of Breaking Bad and Shakespeare, mostly with violence. The body count in Shakespeare’s plays are pretty high. There’s murder (most foul), rape, suicide (oh, my... the suicide), torture, and one instance of a pie that would make the writers of Saw sit down and say, “hey... maybe Shakespeare should have toned it down a little bit.” At what point do we trade off violence (and some language) for the “literary factor.” Let’s face it, there’s symbolism in Shakespeare, there’s symbolism in Breaking Bad. I can’t stress enough: Walter White should be up there with the great pantheon of Shakespearean characters. He’s got pride, jealousy, no matter how far down the rabbit hole he goes, he’s doing it all for his family and can justify it (until his wife pulls a knife on him.)

So what makes something “literary”? Is it because a bunch of guys in wigs decide that something is literary? (That’s how they do it right? Or am I thinking of the British Legal System.) What makes, say, Hamlet more literary than Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, which many consider to be one of the best in the medium? Why is Macbeth great art when Breaking Bad is “just a TV Show”? Again, I’m using Shakespeare not just because this blog is called “Bad Shakespeare” and not just because I’ve been comparing the two for the past however many weeks (I’m too lazy to go back and count. Someone do that for me.) but because Shakespeare wrote PLAYS. Things up on the stage for us to see. Things that would be interpreted a certain way because an actor decided that Hamlet should be played as depressed flimmaker in 2000. (Damn you, Ethan Hawke. Just... damn you.) Or because Wesley from Angel should dive in the grass as much as possible while people try to trick him.

I guess I’m getting at the central question I’ve asked plenty of times: Is Breaking Bad literature? I’d say yes. Yes it is. But something like this would be banned from classrooms, because of it’s violence and language. (Oh, and Shakespeare LOVED the bad language. He just hid it better than we do today.) But this violence and language... it’s nothing compared to what we’ve seen in the past. It still has all those juicy elements that I would love to tackle in a classroom, and do so in a way that will help kids learn something about revenge tragedies, fatal flaws, symbolism, and everything that Shakespeare would love to teach us. Because Shakespeare loved the bad guy, and show us what made him tick.

But hey, don’t take my word for it. Here’s Aaron’s speech at the end of Titus Andronicus, where he curses the fact that he can’t do more evil.

AARON. Ay, that I had not done a thousand more.
Even now I curse the day- and yet, I think,
Few come within the compass of my curse-
Wherein I did not some notorious ill;
As kill a man, or else devise his death;
Ravish a maid, or plot the way to do it;
Accuse some innocent, and forswear myself;
Set deadly enmity between two friends;
Make poor men's cattle break their necks;
Set fire on barns and hay-stacks in the night,
And bid the owners quench them with their tears.
Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends' door
Even when their sorrows almost was forgot,
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters
'Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead.'
Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things
As willingly as one would kill a fly;
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do ten thousand more.”

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

David Tennant: The British Nicolas Cage

When it comes time for me to sit down and write Bad Shakespeare, sometimes, I have a lot to say. Sometimes, I’ve got nothing. And sometimes, I’m in that little in-between world that there’s really not a lot to say, but I want to comment on them. Or I just have random thoughts that I haven’t gotten out of the way yet. In any event, today I’m just going to present some random thoughts that didn’t fit into any of the previous Bad Shakespeare’s I’ve written down, but I’m stuck for ideas today so I’m going to write down just random things.

 Remember, I’m working on FIVE All New, All singing, All dancing episodes of Bad Shakespeare for you next week for Banned Books Week.

 -Can we please stop writing stupid things on receipts? Let me tell you what’s going to happen: Someone’s going to post the picture to Facebook, then it will move to Twitter, then everyone will be outraged, then nothing will happen until the next person writes something stupid on a receipt. I remember once I tried to hit on a waitress by writing something on a receipt. While it worked, it was before the age of cameraphones, thank the sweet lord Odin. I’m pretty charming.

 -Also, while we’re at it, School Administrators, if you’re going express outrage at a student’s clothing, make sure it has some merit and you’re not just being a jerk. The school year is 17 days old and we’ve already gotten, “girl told to leave because she had dreadlocks” and “America Day apparel deemed wrong because the shirt was blue with an American flag in the background instead of of white with an American Flag in the background.” Seriously? Let me tell you when parents first disapproved of what their kids were wearing: probably around the time Grunk killed a cheetah instead of a leopard and wore it to Rock High School. Your parents hated your clothes. If it’s not a legit big deal, let the students learn.

 -The pictures of the parents jumping for joy that their kids are going back to school while the kids look sad: hilarious. It’s easy to see why Teaching is one of the most respected professions on the planet with the way that they earn parents respect: not having to deal with the kids anymore. Yes, I know it’s just in good fun and I’m being a killjoy. I can do that every once in a while.

 -The greatest movie no one will ever make is Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, and Benedict Cumberbatch talking to each other while David Tennant and Nicolas Cage act out scenes behind them.

 -After experiencing the high of Summer Movie Season, I have to say that Tom Hanks has not lorded over a very lucrative Prestige Season, lest we see Vin Diesel clutching an Oscar for his role in Riddick. Everyone knows when he wins his Oscar, it will be for playing an aging ex-thief that races hovercars in Fast and the Furious 20, reunited with the heads of the other cast members kept alive in jars.

 -I’m going to start yelling “Shakespeare did it”! whenever I see a recognizable Shakespeare trope on screen. I feel it will make me look like the ultimate hipster-one that hasn’t left the Elizabethan era. Y’all will bow before my thick glasses and sword.

 -Have you all been following Patrick Stewart on any form of Social Media? You need to, now. This man knows how to enjoy life. If half the world were of the mindset of Patrick Stewart, this planet would be an incredible place.

 -You know, while I’m talking about random things, there were a lot of controversial topics I wanted to get around to discussing, but I never did, either because I wasn’t sure about the topic, or because I was too afraid of offending someone. So... if you’re easily offended by opinions, then just pretend I said something offensive. If you aren’t, then nod your head and yell: RIGHT ON, BAD SHAKESPEARE!

 -David Tennant is the English Nicolas Cage, with a more discriminating taste in movies, is what I’m saying.

 -I’m like 90% sure that Nicolas Cage is an actual Time Lord. Someone prove me wrong if they think I can.

 There we go. I think I managed to fill up 800 words rather handily. Remember to watch this space as we have Breaking Bad Shakespeare on Friday, analyzing what it means to be “literature” in the face of brutal overlords murdering people, torture, death, swearing, rampant sex... also we’ll be talking about Breaking Bad. Then next week, as we enjoy Banned Books Week!

 Remember kids: Rebel. Read a book. Now enjoy this picture that illustrates my favorite banned books joke from the Simpsons.  WORDPLAY!

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Danger of Pumpkin Overconsumption

Dear Girls Left to Clean the House While Your Wicked Stepsisters Go To the Ball,

We here at Fairy Godmother, Inc. do understand that it’s that time of year - Fancy Ball Time! We also understand that many of you will be left behind with nary a chance to meet the handsome prince that will lead to you a Happy Ever After (TM) (At least for a little while.) However, we have some sad news to report.

Pumpkin spices stuff is everywhere. Literally everywhere, threatening our supply of Things to Turn into Carriages. (TM)

We were not concerned at the beginning. Pumpkin Pie is a staple of fall. A Pumpkin Spice Latte on a cool autumn morning is a nice refreshment. Our Fairy Godmothers would even enjoy a nice pumpkin ale when watching football games after a long night of transforming mice into humans and ensuring you were out of there by midnight. 

But then everything became pumpkin. M & M’s. Oreoes. Toothpaste. If you can put it in your mouth, someone, somewhere has made a pumpkin spice version. It’s causing a shortage that we haven’t seen since mice were declared demons in the fourth century. Little mousy cheese eating demons. People were stupid back then. I digress. 

There were a lot less princes then, so there was a little less impact, but we still had that brief time when we had to dip into rats. They were surly. And one of them bit one of our future princesses. We may have the same situation once the we have to start using apples, squashes, or various other fruits to create our carriages for our future princesses.

How can you assist with the shortage? Well, for starters, you can get those requests in early. No amount of forest animals assisting you in the making of a fancy ball gown is going to let your wicked stepsisters get you to go. In fact, drop the forest animals helping you. That’s just creepy. 

You know they won’t let you keep the dress. You know it.

You can also assist by finding another way to meet your personal Prince Charming. Feel free to prick your finger on a spinning wheel. Make a deal with an imp. Fall asleep in a glass coffin. Turn into a mermaid. Grow out your hair. Find one of those Princes who was trapped in a tower. Keep in mind there are plenty of well proven methods out that don’t include fruit and rodent based travel to an iffy overpriced dance party with questionable footware. 

       Please keep in mind that this is also going to affect the Jack O'Lantern Department as well, but we believe that zucchini will have the same demon-thwarting effects. I guess we will see this year, won't we?

We appreciate your assistance during this difficult time. We are confident the shortage will end as soon as people re-discover apples and start turning things into cider, or once people discover the refreshing taste of butternut squash.

Please direct any questions to the nearest, brightest star, make a wish, and one of our magical wishing consultants will be with you as soon as possible.

Thank you,

The Fairy Godmother, Inc.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Book vs. Film... But What if the Book is Really, Really Special To You?

Recently I heard all about how Spiderman taunter/John Carter alien helper Willem Dafoe had been cast as Peter Van Houten in the film version of The Fault in Our Stars. (Henceforth known as TFiOS, because that’s how the cool kids shorten it, and it’s a long thing to type.) My first reaction was: “Cool, because he’s probably the embodiment of that character in the book.” My second reaction was: “Wait, they’re making a TFiOS movie?” (Also, at that point I called it The Fault in Our Stars because I didn’t know about the cool shortening acronym yet.)

For those of you who don’t know what TFiOS is about, beyond the fact that the title comes from the great line from Julius Caesar, “The Fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, for we are underlings.” TFiOS has nothing to do with that. It has to do with John Green’s 2012 young adult novel that’s probably one of the best pieces of literature that I’ve ever read in my entire life. It’s about a young girl name Hazel who meets a boy named Augustus in a cancer survivor group. (Oh. She has cancer. Was that important? That’s probably important.) They grow closer, eventually traveling to Amsterdam to meet Peter Van Houten, the writer of An Imperial Affliction, the reclusive writer of a book that Hazel is obsessed with. (The reasons are pretty clear in the book.) Not going to go much further, because you should go in knowing just about that before you read the whole book, which again, it one of my favorite books.

Here’s the part where I’m going to get on my soapbox for second: people want this book banned because of the adult themes and a few scattered profanities that teenagers will never hear except for books and movies. I’d take these concerns more seriously if not for the other casting scoop that the members of Augustus and Hazel’s cancer group is being played by real teenage cancer survivors. I’m dropping the mic on this one, finishing the post, and telling everyone they should read this book.

A bit with my history of TFiOS... I was taking a class from an extremely excellent professor who is now my academic advisor so I’m going to keep putting “extremely excellent” in front of references to him for a bit. (Also: He was extremely excellent.) It was a class in how to teach young adult literature, and we were asked to pick our own books for a project, so I picked this one based on the fact that it was the first review that I’d just read on the A.V. Club website that was for a young adult novel that they actually seemed to like (they don’t like a lot of stuff) and that it was new and readily available for me to get. Then I sat down to read it at my school’s library. Somehow, three hours passed by, I was finishing the book and sobbing like Leonardo Dicaprio on Oscar Night. (The ending is sad. I’m not spoiling anything by saying this once you read the words “teenagers” and “cancer.”)

Now, ever since I took a graduate level Shakespeare class, I read slow, because I was taught close reading and making connections that I didn’t make before. Yet when I read this one, I had to... devour it. I had to get the information in my brain as quickly as possible for fear that I’d lose something in the process. So I sat down and read the entire thing in one, glorious three our sitting. I loved it. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

The big question that we are going to use to wrap up Casting Call Week here at Bad Shakespeare is the question of whether or not a TFiOS should be made, and what it means to see our art moved to the big screen.

I’ve talked already about how I went to see the wonderfully wonderful Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (twice) this past summer and while it was 3 a.m. I did quite enjoy my first taste of the Life of Pi.  I also saw Beautiful Creatures (which was a little less wonderfully wonderful), and I’m quite looking forward to Ender’s Game, the Book Thief, and Romeo and Juliet. (Which is based on a play.. but meh, this is my blog I get to make the rules. I can even make up my own words. Smooglybard. What are you going to do about it?)

I’m not sure how I feel about a TFiOS movie, because selfishly... it’s my book. Yes, John Green wrote it, and he didn’t write it for me, and the fact it spent so much time on best sellers list meant that other people read it. But I had just a strong emotional connection to the book. I connected to it on so many different levels it’s hard to explain. I grew to really care about those characters during my three hours with them the first time. I’m afraid that seeing a movie, seeing someone else’s interpretation of the material is going to affect me in some way. It’s a strange fear to have, really, but that’s what happens when you fall so perfectly in love with a book. And that’s what I did there.

Something similar, of course happened with one of my first loves, Empire Falls. I remember they made a movie out of it, cast pretty much people I didn’t think would be good for the part (and for the most part they worked out) but it didn’t capture the “gee wilikers” or smooglybardness that caused me to fall in love with the book to begin with. It didn’t affect my feeling for the book, but it made me a little saddened about the movie. Plus, now I can’t read the book without seeing Helen Hunt’s face. (Although they got one piece of casting so brilliantly perfect with Philip Seymour Hoffman.) 

Even with Mortal Instruments, (the movie was better than people are saying. You need to see it so we can get part two made) I didn’t have as much invested with the characters. Oh, I cared (and still do, since I’m not done with the series yet) about the Jace, his (spoiler: not sister) Clary, whiny Vampire Simon, and hot Isabelle... but I wasn’t as invested in the characters as I was with Augustus and Hazel. Mortal Instruments practically screams, “movie time!” which isn’t bad, that’s an asset. It’s a supernatural action movie: Let’s see the action. Let’s see the demons. TFiOS doesn’t have as much of that.

In any event, that’s just a thought of one fan. I’ll go see the movie (tissues in hand, and without my usual movie buddy, as we learned we can’t see sad movies together after the Toy Story 3 Incident) and I’ll probably read the book again before the movie. And hopefully, Willem Dafoe will leave the Green Goblin mask at home. You know, unless he wants to add a little levity to the proceedings. 

      PS - I found out this movie was being made via the casting of Willem Dafoe, so I centered most of my post around that. I should point out that Divergent diverger and ex-Mary Jane Watson Shailene Woodley is Hazel and some guy I've never heard of is Augustus. I think she'll do well, see my previous note about not knowing who that one guy is.