Posts Tagged ‘Breaking Bad’


The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences.

–Winston Churchill


For many of you Breaking Bad fans out there, the term half measures immediately brings to mind a pivotal episode in the series where Walter White realizes that when you’re dealing with deadly people and things, half measures have no place and will most likely get you killed.

And that is what we have been witnessing in the efforts to combat the coronavirus, so far as the steps taken by the president** and his gang of yes men– half measures.

Even yesterday, with the virus constantly gaining more and more footholds, cases and deaths mounting, the markets plummeting, and the experts warning that the most extreme steps must be taken, he stood before the nation and said that while he had signed the order for the Defense Protection Act, which gives the government tremendous powers to compel private companies to produce materials necessary supplies for this effort, he was not implementing it. He said he wanted to keep it for when we really needed it.

That’s like having a new rope in your hands and there’s a person drowning in the water near you and saying, ” I don’t want to use this now because I might need it later.”

That kind of holding a little back for later is fine under normal circumstance but when someone is in dire need it amounts to a half measure.

Now is not a time for half measures, not a time to let some folks drown while you still have that rope in your hand.

I can’t really explain why he won’t commit to full measures at this point other than to say that by doing so he commits to taking responsibility for those actions. It would assert the powers of the federal government and that would take away his ability to lay off blame on the many governors who have been the real leaders in this effort.

The whole thing would become his baby. And there is no way he can accept that sort of responsibility. Not now. Not ever.

But what he fails to understand is that in this sort of situation, the more he tries to evade his duty and responsibility, the more it becomes solely his baby, whether he likes it or not.

You might think I am being unfair in my criticism of the president** because of my intense dislike of him on almost every level, something I will not deny. You might think I should keep my mouth shut and give him a chance, especially in such a time of crisis.

To that I say, “That’s crazy.”

This has nothing to do with my dislike of this person. I am basing it not on that but on the fact that he is in the driver’s seat and I’m just a passenger in a speeding bus as he steers it toward the edge of steep mountain road. He is distracted (texting furiously as he steers) and doesn’t seem fully committed as we hurtle toward the precipice.

Yeah, I’m going to speak up. The time for patience, of waiting to see how he’s doing is past. I want someone to jerk his ass out of the driver’s seat and start steering this thing in a responsible manner, away from that deadly edge.

If you watched his briefing yesterday, I don’t see how you would view it much differently. If you watched him and were not disturbed and a little frightened or you somehow found comfort in his tirades and over the edge rambles, often about his own woes, I fear we are lost. He is a half-step from wearing a uniform with a chestful of medals and ribbons, demanding that the obsequious flunkies around him call him Generalissimo.

The time is now. Not later.

It is time for this person to fully commit to doing everything in the many powers given to him in his position to take this on for the benefit of all the people and not himself, his family or his cronies. It is time to act like there is no tomorrow and throw away the idea of half measures. ‘

As Churchill states in the words at the top: we are entering a period of consequences.

We should pay special attention to his words of warning because, more than ever, they apply at this moment in time.

Now is the time for full measures.


They who have been bred in the school of politics fail now and always to face the facts. Their measures are half measures and makeshifts merely. They put off the day of settlement, and meanwhile the debt accumulates.

–Henry David Thoreau



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GC Myers--Fausts Guitar Popular music has played a huge part in storytelling in films and television in recent years.  For example, this past weekend saw the end of the television series Breaking Bad with the final scene of the series having the song Baby Blue from Badfinger playing as it panned up from Walt’s body.  It was an effective use of the song, neatly tying up the series’ theme of the obsession that overwhelmed Walt’s life.  Some have felt that it was even too spot on but I’m not here to debate that.   It just reminded me of some other songs that have been used  to great effect in this  ( Crystal Blue Persuasion will  be  forever linked in my mind to a montage of meth production from  this show) and  other series.

In the Sopranos, which almost always was brilliant in its choice of accompanying music, one of my favorite endings came when Tony Soprano was particularly cruel to his sister, leaving her home and walking down the street as I’m Not Like Everybody Else from the Kinks played.  It just perfectly summed up the scene and Tony’s self-justification for his often horrible behavior.  Just a great scene.

But I think my favorite came in Mad Men, when ad man Don Draper could not understand why his clients, in 1967, so wanted the music of the Beatles for their ads.  It was all just music to him and he felt that any musician could easily put together something similar to the Beatles sound.  The episode ended with Don settling in at home with a drink after putting on the Beatles’ Revolver album on his hi-fi.  The song Tomorrow Never Knows comes up and the  eras suddenly converge for Don, a revelation that the world he knew is changing, moving beyond his control.  It is a beautiful summation of generational change.

Here’s the song with a film that Neil Aspinall put together in developing a third Beatles movie in 1967, which never came about.  The film would have made a wonderful juxtaposition to Don in the show.  The painting at the top is an older piece of mine, Faust’s Guitar.  I did a few versions of this image years ago and it remains a favorite of mine.

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GC Myers- "Greener Pastures: 42"It’s kind of a sad Sunday.  For one thing, our favorite ice cream place, Mindy Moo’s,  is closing for the season.  Actually, that’s probably a good thing as we have been indulging way too often but I still hate to see it close.

Secondly, tonight is the finale to what may be the finest show to ever come across a television screen, Breaking Bad.  I have been addicted since it first  exposed us to the moral gymnastics of high school chemistry teacher Walter White as he found his way into the world of meth, hoping to make enough cash to support his family after his imminent death from the cancer that had recently emerged.   His moral dilemma and the subsequent downward spiral has been a wild ride, supported by incredible writing, storylines and performances, often leaving me gasping at the end of an episode.  I will sorely miss it and have a feeling that almost everything else on TV will pale in comparison for some time to come.

Mariano Rivera Entering the FieldAnd finally, today is the end of era in baseball as Mariano Rivera rides off into the sunset, retiring from the New York Yankees as unquestionably the greatest closer ever and perhaps the most respected and beloved player to come around in a long, long time. Even Red Sox fans give Mariano, he of the hated Yanks, a standing ovation.  He has been nothing but class since day one, never pounding his chest or belittling his opponents and always showing the utmost respect for the game that has given a poor, skinny boy from Panama so much over the years .  His stoic demeanor on the mound is almost Zen in its nature and has long comforted Yankee fans when games are in a tight spot, even on those rare occasions when he has failed.

The painting at the top of the post,  a 12″ by 12″ canvas,  is titled Greener Pastures: 42.  The number 42 on the outfield wall is meant to honor both Mariano and the man who wore it most famously before him,  the barrier breaking Jackie Robinson.  Mariano is the last player to wear this hallowed number after it was retired by Major League Baseball to honor Robinson and has done so with  a fitting grace and character.  On the day honoring Mariano at Yankee Stadium last Sunday, one of my favorite moments was when  Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s widow now aged 91, was on the field and she cupped Mariano’s face in both hands, staring hard into his face with such a wonderful look on her face.  I don’t know what she was thinking or conveying but it looked like she was letting Mo know that Jackie would have approved of the way Mariano has honored his number and his memory.

Hard to believe that after today, there is no more ice cream (well, for a while) or Breaking Bad or Mariano.  Like I said, it’s a sad Sunday with a few glorious endings…


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breaking-bad-posterI am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!

–Walter White


This was the response from Walter White, the geeky high school chemistry teacher turned drug lord, to his wife Skyler’s fears that he would someday answer the door and be shot down by the thugs with which he was now associated.  It was a hallmark moment in the AMC series Breaking Bad,  which returns tonight to begin an eight episode wrap-up to Walter’s  saga.

And what a staggering saga it has been.

Creator Vince Gilligan and actor Bryan Cranston have treated us over the last several years with one of the most fascinating heroes in television or film.  I use the term hero very loosely here.  Cranston’s Walter White at once gives you every reason to root for yet despise him.  He is highly intelligent which gives him  the ability to find rationale for the most deplorable moral decisions, each of which seems to send him into a deeper descent into the bowels of some evil hell.

He has went from the cowering weakling to the one who knocks, gun in hand.

Yet, we still somehow root for him to pull out of it, to find that moral root of rightness that appeared to be with him at the beginning of this journey.  I think that’s the brilliance of this show, taking a person who we easily relate to and putting him into situations that are so far from what we would normally face that it leaves us wondering if we are any different, any better  than Walter.    In Walter, we see the same fears and weaknesses that most of us possess, things that could easily lead us into bad situations given the right (or wrong) circumstances.  Do we have that same capacity for rationalizing our own poor moral decisions rather than seeing the obvious wrongness in them and doing what we know is right?  This show brings it into doubt.

It’s been a ride that leaves me cringing and gasping with every twist that Vince Gilligan throws into it.  I have come to expect the completely unexpected with this show.  I am sad  see it wrapping up for the pure wonder of its storytelling but relieved to see it end for the questions it raises about us all.

On a lighter note, for those who haven’t partaken of this particular treat, here’s a video that gives a very abridged rundown on what has happened thus far in the form of a Middle School Musical.

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Breaking AbbeyTonight’s the much anticipated American debut of Downton Abbey‘s third season.  I know that I’m looking forward to get my fix of the drama following the family and serving staff of a huge British manor as it struggles, financially and socially,  through the changing times around World War I as the era of the great landed estates nears its end.

Speaking of needing a fix, a few weeks back, in response to his faux outrage over Michelle Obama getting a preview of the new episodes ahead of the general public,  Stephen Colbert presented a video featuring three of the main characters from the series in a parody.  They were supposedly reading lines from the upcoming season of Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad, the series dealing with the story of a  science-teacher-turned-meth-kingpin.  If you’re a fan of either series, or both like me, you may get a kick out of this uncensored mash up.  Maybe they can next do a Homeland/Mad Men version with Carrie and Saul carrying out the parts of Don Draper and Roger Sterling?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Uncensored – Breaking Abbey
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

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I  have many guilty pleasures, things that I enjoy but am hesitant to admit to others for various reasons.  I don’t know if the television series Breaking Bad , which starts it’s third season tonight on AMC, qualifies if only for the fact that the word pleasure doesn’t seem to fit the viewing experience.

Unsettling.  Disturbing.  These words seemed like a better fit.  And fascinating, always fascinating, despite the uneasy hellscape in which you find yourself immersed.

For those unfamiliar, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher in New Mexico who discovers that he has malignant cancer and in order to provide for his family, which includes a baby and a teenage son with cerebral palsy, turns his chemistry knowledge towards the production of crystal meth.  It’s basically the story of a good person who makes the decision to compromise his beliefs for what he views as good reason and must deal with the transformations and unintended consequences of that decision.

And there are transformations.  And consequences.

I think that’s the appeal of the show.  It’s about a seemingly normal person with good intentions that we can all identify with in some way.  He could easily be someone we know, someone we nod to on the street or chat with at the supermarket.  But his initial bad decision has placed him a labyrinth where every subsequent decision sends him in veering directions that take him further and further from his intended destination.  It’s something that many people who’ve made drastically wrong choices in their lives often encounter although most will never encounter the often horrifying circumstances that accompany Walt’s oddyssey.  When you see where Walt finds himself, you look at your own life and breath a sigh of relief.

And maybe that’s the attraction.

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