It’s For You, Hamlet

The phone call’s for me?  Hmm, that’s funny.  Thanks, Horatio.

Hello?  May I ask who’s calling?  Dad, is that you?  Your voice sounds strange.  Aren’t you dead?  What’s up with the phone call?  I thought you people were supposed to rest in peace. . . Of course the funeral was sad.  Why wouldn’t it be? . . . Yeah, I know she got married only a month after you died, but who could resist a guy like Claudius?  Mr. Super-Stud. . . . Dad, there’s no need to become apoplectic.  Just chill. . . You’re going to have to slow down.  I can’t follow your train of thought–you’re spluttering too much. . . Take a deep breath. . . What?  He poured poison in your ear?  What for? . . . I know, I know–stupid question.  So why are you telling me this? . . . You want me to get revenge? . . . But how can I be sure it’s really you?  Can’t you show yourself? . . . That’s not how ghosts operate these days.  Figures. . . So I have to go on a phone call. . . You always told me never to trust someone who tries to sell you something over the phone. . . Hey!  There’s no need to shout.  Keep your jaw attached to your skull, Jacob Marley. . .  I guess that reference is a little too advanced for you. . . I know it’s irksome that she married your brother. . . yes, yes–and your murderer–I was just getting to that. . . how is it incest?  He’s not her brother. . . That’s right–I forgot.  We live in the Elizabethan world. . . Okay, so what’s the best way to kill him? . . . Any way that works. . . But just not while he’s praying.  Thanks; I’ll make a note of that. . . Put on a play that recreates your death?  Dad, don’t you think you’re being morbid? . . . Of course I want some evidence that he really did it. . . What do you have against Ophelia?  She’s perfect for me. . . She’s daddy’s girl, eh?  At least she’s not a windbag. . . All right, Dad.  I’ll do what I can.  But between you and me, I have a hunch this isn’t going to end well. . . Yes, I look forward to seeing you soon, too.  I love you, Dad.  Tell God I said hi. . . He changed his name to Satan?  Well, you’ve got to admit it’s a more marketable alternative. . . Don’t go changing. . . Father, compose yourself! . . . Okay, sorry–bad joke.  Keep in touch.

Here’s your phone, Horatio.  No, no.  It was a wrong number.

Thanks to Bob Newhart for the idea.  His autobiography, I Shouldn’t Even Be Doing This!, is worth reading.  I’ll share a couple of anecdotes from it in another post.

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Role Play

I have spent too much of my life

deciding who to be.

Friends tell me I’m good at impressions.

(I once impersonated my favorite

professor in his presence.

He said, “Now all you have to do

is an imitation of Stew Harmon”–

though no one would have bought it–

I’m no good at being me.)

 

No matter who you are,

it’s hard to be yourself for long

before you turn into someone else–

you’re too busy taking things in–

permeated by those you love

and hate in an influential flood.

 

At least you have no excuse

for feeling lonely.  You can never

truly be alone

when you’re everybody in the world

and no one really.

The Greatest Love Story of All Time

(Lynne and her boyfriend Dick Cheney are sitting on a bench in her back yard.  It’s spring time, and the flowers are in bloom.  Love, naturally, is in the air.)

Lynn

You’re such an asshole, Dick.  That must be why I love you so much.  I’ve always had a thing for assholes.

Dick

Me too, honey.  I have lofty dreams for both of us.  Together we can take over the world and crush it in our bear hands.  

Lynn

Do you think we can save the human race from itself?

Dick

Even better.  I see you becoming the president of the most lucrative weapons dealer the world has ever known.

Lynn

Oh, what a beautiful vision!  Tell me more, do!

Dick

Okay.  Sit tight, and don’t spill your lemonade on my plaid shorts.

Lynn

We wouldn’t want our Dick to get wet.

Dick

I’d laugh at that if I had a sense of humor.  As it stands, I’m a heartless robot, although I am programmed to love only you.

Lynn

I must be the luckiest gal in the world!

Dick

That’s an understatement, Toots.  Try the universe–nay, the multiverse.

Lynn

Oh, Dickybird.  You know I’ll always be your number one cheerleader.

Dick

Anyway, as I was saying before you rudely interrupted me with your gushing blandishments, I will climb the ladder to success over the decades, stepping on a lot of fingers along the way.

Lynn

Dicky Bee, I am so proud of you.

Dick

Well, don’t be.  I haven’t done anything yet.  This is all conjecture.  But I’m possessed of an indomitable self-confidence and an utter dearth of empathy that promises to serve me well in the worlds of both business and politics.

Lynn

And you’re so clever, I’m sure you’ll figure out a way to merge the two.

Dick

You don’t know the half of it.

Lynn

I just hope you’re not going to lose this gorgeous head of hair.  I just love running my fingers through your curls.

Dick

I’m afraid that’s inevitable, darling.  But it will be a small price to pay.  In the words of future Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, “the reason I’m bald is that my brain is so big, it pushes all the hair out of my head.”

Lynn

(laughing)  My little choo-choo Dickey-poo!  And you say you have no sense of humor.

Dick

(seriously)  That wasn’t meant to be a joke.

Lynn

You said you went to see a fortune teller yesterday.  What did she tell you?

Dick

Well, she looked at my palm after wiping it several times.

Lynn

Why did she have to wipe it?  Had you run out of toilet paper?

Dick

Ha-ha.  Remind me to laugh at gunpoint.  She saw so much blood on both of my hands, it took her a long time to find the lines in my palms.

Lynn

And what did she see–er, say?

Dick

She saw me as the leader of a great empire.

Lynn

Oh, goody!  That will make me an empress!

Dick

Yes, she said you would impress people too.

Lynn

(giggling)  You’re such a card, my little Dicky-pie.  Go on.

Dick

She saw me making a killing in more ways than one, as a man who both kills and drills for oil.

Lynn

Chills!  Thrills!  Oil and blood spills!

Dick

Take a quaalude, Shakespeare.  There’s only one catch.

Lynn

What’s that?

Dick

She said my boss will be a moron.

Lynn

Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that too much.  I’m sure you’ll be able to get him to do your bidding.

Dick

(chuckling, albeit reluctantly)  That’s true.  Torture does have its charms.

Lynn

We’re going to be so happy together, Richard Bruce Cheney.  I simply cannot wait to win the war against the world.

Dick

Neither can I.  I’d jump out of my seat if I weren’t feeling so uptight.  As a matter of fact, I’m so overjoyed I think I might even be having a heart attack.

Lynn

Oh, no!  Not again!

(Dick clutches his chest and grimaces.  He makes a sound like an angry pirate, keels over, and tumbles to the ground.)

Lynn

Help!  Someone help my Dick!  My God, sweetheart, are you all right?

(Dick gets up and brushes himself off.)

Dick

Don’t worry, angel-drawers.  I was only faking it.

Lynn

(wagging a finger at him)  Now you be careful about that kind of behavior, young man!  Who do you think you are anyway, Marlon Brando?  Besides, it’s dangerous.  It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Dick

Only I’ll be The Boy Who Cried Terrorist.

Lynn

Dick Cheney, I am terribly in love with you, mister!

Dick

Me too, honey.  Me too.  Now let’s go for a ride on my scooter.  After that we’ll get some cherry cokes at the diner and go to the hop.

Lynn

Very well, my lovably loquacious Lothario.

Dick

You’re cuter than Cupid, honey.

Lynn

He fried my heart with a Lockheed-Martin flamethrower.  It waits for you to eat it like a charred, smoldering marshmallow on a stick.

Dick

I shall do so apace, good lady, as soon as we’ve each devoured a burger or two.

Lynn

And who says there’s not enough love in this world?

Dick

Sour grapes for sore losers.  If I live long enough to rip someone’s heart out of his chest–since I haven’t got one–it will belong to you.

Lynn

I will eat them right before your eyes–

Dick

Please don’t eat my eyes.  They give my glasses something to do.

Lynn

–so everyone knows it’s mine.

Dick

We’ll be as happy as Iago* and Lady Macbeth, the match poor old Shakespeare didn’t live long enough to light.

Lynn

I’m ready to go for a toot on your scooter now, Skipper.

Dick

Okay, Libby–I mean, Lynn.  Get on board, my pretty little hostage.  This thing ain’t built for kids.

Lynn

(jealously)  Who’s Libby?

Dick

Just a slip of the tongue, honey–I promise.

Lynn

All right.  I trust you.  How could I not?  Look at that sweet, innocent face.  Please drive safely, okay?  But not too safely–you know how much I love to live dangerously.

Dick

You backed the right hearse.

(And off they go with a muted roar, Lynn’s hair trailing behind her in the breeze like the fire of a burning Iraqi oil field being blown over by the breeze, Dick’s countenance as impassive as the facade of the Federal Reserve building.)

                                                         

                                                           FIN (del Mundo?)

* I got the analogy from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.  Please don’t sue me for plagiarism, Ms. Dowd. But if you must, contact my wife, as she’s got all my money.  As you implied by the title of your last book, I guess we men just aren’t necessary.

Apologies to any perfectionists for some of the anachronisms in the story.  I inserted them for humor’s sake, not to willingly distort good old reality, whatever that is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Helpful, Supershrink

Coping With Guilt

(Scene:  A psychiatrist’s office.  Two somber yet plush burgundy upholstered leather chairs with a coffee table in between them are the main pieces of furniture in the crimson-carpeted room.  The walnut walls are bedecked with certificates from prestigious universities that bespeak the doctor’s unimpeachable qualifications, while framed letters from distinguished patients she’s cured attest to her impeccable track record.  There are also some signs conveying some of her prevailing sentiments for the edification of her visitors.  One reads, “Absolute power assuages low self-esteem.”  Another proclaims: “The need to love yourself is the greatest gift of all.”  The legend below a picture of a frowning pixie-faced girl in a blue outfit suggests, “Only you can make you feel blue.”  Finally, near the entrance is a full-length poster of a clown doubled over that says, “He who laughs last laughs hardest.”

The doctor is in the middle of a therapy session with a regular patient, Macbeth, King of Scotland.)

Doctor

Can you tell me about the dream you had?

Macbeth

I was surfing on a tidal wave of blood.

Doctor

Good.  Describe the surfboard.

Macbeth

Well, at first it was black, then it turned red.  Then it morphed into a shark.  Only he didn’t have fins.  And he had Banquo’s face.

Doctor

Banquo-shmanquo.  I don’t want hear that loser’s name ever again.  Do you understand?

Macbeth

You asked me to tell you about the dream.

Doctor

Indeed I did.  But sometimes white lies are just what the doctor ordered.

Macbeth

How was I supposed to know that?  Doctor, you look so restless.  Can’t you have a little patience?

Doctor

Of course.  I must have had one too many espressos this morning.  So, tell me what else is inside your head.

Macbeth

I can’t sleep at night.  When I close my eyes, all I see is an hourglass full of human skulls raining down and forming a mountain.  The racket is deafening.  It just seems to get louder and louder.  The skulls at the bottom are crushed like seashells while the ones at the top get bashed in by the new tumbling skulls that smash into them.  There’s also a hole at the bottom of the hourglass with sand made of bones leaking out into a spreading pool of red.  The skulls just keep falling like coins raining down in a one-armed bandit whose player has hit the jackpot.

Doctor

Hmmm.  Strange.  Have you been taking the sedative I prescribed?

Macbeth

Yes, I have.  It only makes the nightmares worse.

Doctor

Mr. Macbeth, as I’ve told you before, you’re suffering from a guilty conscience–still!  What in the Sam Hill is wrong with you, man?  I mean, lighten the hell up for a change, would you?  Do you recall what we said last time about conscience?  Remember the line from the movie On the Waterfront?  You know, the scene where the priest played by Karl Malden is talking to Marlon Brando’s character Terry Malloy about his conscience?

Macbeth

No, I don’t.

Doctor

“Conscience–that stuff can drive you nuts.”

Macbeth

I’ll have to write that one down so I don’t forget.  (Writes in his diary.)  See Doc, that’s another thing–I can’t remember anything anymore.  Since I can never get enough sleep, I’m unable to process new memories.

Doctor

What are you talking about?  You remember your dreams.  In loving detail, I might add.  Unless you’re embellishing them to flatter your medical mentor.

Macbeth

Fair enough.  But the only reason I remember them is they’re incessantly recurring nightmares.

Doctor

Oh, come on, Fergus.  You have lots of phantasmagoric variety, a veritable treasure trove of nocturnal hallucinations to choose from.  I want you to keep taking the medication.  Double the dose if you have to.  Remember what we said, after all:  “Health equals wealth.”  By the way, did you send me another check for your last visit?  The first one you sent bounced right out the window.

Macbeth

Yes, I did.  You’ll have to excuse the bloodstains.

Doctor

(wagging her finger)  Ah-ah-ah, my dear king of the blues.  Don’t forget:  “Success means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Macbeth

Sorry–I keep forgetting.

Doctor

(rolling her eyes and sighing)  Oh, Mickey, Mickey, Mickey.  What ever are we going to do with you?  All righty, then. I’d like you to close your eyes. . .

Macbeth

Okay. . .

Doctor

Take a deep breath. (Macbeth inhales deeply, pushing his stomach all the way out the way his yoga teacher showed him to.)  Excellent.  Now repeat after me:  “Color red. . .”

Macbeth

“Color red. . .”

Doctor

“. . . is for the dead.”

Macbeth

“. . . is for the dead.”

Doctor

Perfect.  Now exhale until your lungs turn inside out like unsightly clusters of poppable seaweed.

(Macbeth releases a long, slow breath, his hands loosely gripping his kneecaps.)

Doctor

Very nice.  Now open your eyes.  (Macbeth opens his eyes.)  And say in a big, strong voice:  “I am not the bull.”

Macbeth

“I am not the bull.”

Doctor

“I’m the matador.”

Macbeth

“I’m the matador.”

Doctor

“I hold the red blanket.”

Macbeth

“I hold the red blanket.”

Doctor

“And the bull drops dead.”

Macbeth

“And the bull drops dead.”

Doctor

Very good!  (The doctor’s intercom on the coffee table buzzes.  She leans forward and presses a button on the device.)  Yes?

Secretary

Barack Obama’s on the phone.  He thinks he might have accidentally left his kill list behind during his last visit.

Doctor

(keeping a straight face as she pulls a piece of paper out of the breast pocket of her red suit jacket and flashes it at Macbeth, whose eyes widen and jaw drops.)  Tell him I’m afraid I haven’t seen it.

Secretary

Okay, I will.  Thank you.

Doctor

Ciao.

Macbeth

The president of the United States has a kill list?  May I see that?

Doctor

Sure.  (She hands it across the table to him.)

Macbeth

Wow!  It’s long.  How many pages is this?  (The doctor shrugs.)  What a great idea!

Doctor

Go ahead–keep it.  I’m sure he can retrieve all those names if he uses the mnemonic devices I taught him.

Macbeth

You’d think he’d have at least one extra copy for back-up.

Doctor

There’s nothing that’s certain but death, taxes, and human error.  (The doctor and Macbeth share a hearty laugh.)  There now.  Feel better?

 

 

The Needy Deity

(God finds Abraham tending his flock and approaches him.)

God

Abraham, Satan said you love Isaac more than me.

Abe

That’s not true, God.  You know you’re my number one, my one and only, my main squeeze, as it were.

God

I don’t believe you.  And you don’t believe in me.  (God starts crying.)

Abe

God, baby, please don’t cry.  What can I do to make you feel better, sweety?  I’ll do anything.

(God looks up shyly with teardrops clinging to his eyelashes like early morning dew on blades of grass.)

God

(coyly) Really?  Anything?

Abe

Anything, Goddy-woddy, for little old you, poopy-shoes.

God

That’s so sweet.  Would you even kill Isaac for me?

Abe

What?!  I’m not going to kill Isaac!  He’s my only son!

God

All right, hold on a sec.  Okay, okay, okay.  I know that sounds like a lot to ask.  I’ll tell you what, Abe.  What if I make a deal with you?

Abe

What kind of deal?

God

Let’s say I agree to kill my only son–

Abe

What do you mean?  You don’t even have a son!

God

Surely you jest.  You, Sarah, Isaac–you are all my children.

Abe

Well, maybe figuratively speaking.

God

So let’s say my wife and I have a boy a little later on in the story–

Abe

Wife?  And who exactly would that be?  I didn’t realize you were married.

God

Stop interrupting, asshole!

Abe

Sorry.

God

I promise you I’ll eventually have a son and have him killed for you, okay?  Then will you bump off Isaac?

Abe

God, you’re a psychopath!  Why would you do such a thing?  And why is it so important to you that I slay my son?  Are you out of your mind?

God

No, I’m just God.

Abe

Like the oxymoron.  Besides, even if you did make a son and kill him for me, you could always squeeze out another one afterwards.  For you it’s a snap.  Me, on the other hand?  I’m 752 years old.  Sarah’s only a few years younger. If I knock her up again, our baby would more likely resemble Cerberus than the fine boy I’ve already sired.

God

Oh, Abie, you’re no fun anymore.  Remind me to rub out any president named after you.

Abe

Fine.  Just please don’t make me murder my son.

God

Thou art such an ingrate.  All right, I’ll tell you what.  I’ll make a deal with you.  Either you brain Isaac with a rock or unseam him from the nave to the chops with your sharpest knife, or I’ll sic a swarm of man-eating bullfrogs on you and have them devour you and your whole family.

Abe

Jesus Fucking Christ, God!  You are the biggest putz I’ve ever met.

God

You know the old song–“You Always Hurt the One You Love.”

Abe

You’re the one who wrote it.  Very well.  Give me a time, date, and exact location and I’ll do the kid in for you.  But after that, no more bullshit.  Are we clear?

God

Oh, Abraham, you are the most adorable little mortal I’ve ever given birth to.

Abe

And you’re the most insecure, emotionally manipulative, uncompromising fascist in the universe.

God

Oh, Abie, behave!  I love it when you play hard to get.

Abe

Go fuck yourself, Yahweh.

(Abraham leaves, cursing under his breath and stamping the ground like a spoiled child.)

God

Don’t forget to know thyself well too, Abe!  And tell Sarah the big guy in the sky says hi!

Abe 

Tell her yourself, wanker!

 

(Thanks to Louis C. K. for giving me the idea for this story.  May God bless him and his two daughters–without making any unreasonable demands of the conscientious father and busy comedian.)

Breaking Bad’s Debt to the Simpsons Movie

Vincent Gilligan?!  Get over here right this instant, young man!  I need to have a word with you.  Hey, thanks for giving the world the greatest TV series I’ve ever seen.  Now I can throw away my television set.  There’s no way in hell anyone’ll ever be able to match it, at least not in my lifetime.

SPOILER ALERT:  If you haven’t watched Breaking Bad through to the end and intend to become a follower of the show, and if you haven’t seen the Simpsons Movie, please don’t read any further.  Both of them are worth your time. Priorities count.  You can always read this afterwards, not that its significance promises to endure that long.  Also, it’s not meant to be taken 100% seriously.  I don’t want Vince Gilligan to go all Heisenberg on my ass.

For those of you who are fans, do you miss Breaking Bad as much as I do?  I was suffering from separation anxiety from the program for a few weeks and started watching it again from the beginning.  I only got through the first season and dipped into the first part of the second one before being distracted by work-related duties.  But it’s worth doing so if you have a chance, just to see how much Walt has changed by the time he reaches the end.

It wasn’t until afterwards that I became aware of the parallels between the two works of art.  I’m also a major Simpsons fan, even though I haven’t been able to follow the show over the past several years due to my current habitat of Korea.  I’ve been told by my students that the Simpsons is presented to the public as a children’s show (the logic being that since it’s a cartoon, it must be, just like South Park and Family Guy).  It’s dubbed in Korean, so you don’t get to hear the original voices, which are one of the best things about the sitcom.  (Sad to lose the woman who did Mrs. Krabappel’s voice recently.  She did a yeoman’s–a yeowoman’s?–service.)

The thematic similarities don’t run so deep, although there are some startling parallels between the plots of the two stories.  Instead of cooking crystal meth, Homer befriends Spider Pig/Harry Plopper, creating a crisis when he dumps the feces of his porcine pal into the Springfield reservoir.  The Simpsons family is banished as a result, and they have to run for their lives from the torch-bearing, out-for-blood townsfolk.

Walter White contaminates Albuquerque and the greater American Southwest with the scourge of crystal meth, profiting handsomely in the process.  His actions lead to his family’s having to leave their home (in part to protect them from him, though Homer would never pose a threat to his own family, except accidentally; to be fair, Walt also adores his family, although not as much as he likes making crystal meth.  Hey, don’t knock it until you try it.  That, by the way, is meant as a joke.  I’m not endorsing either the production or use of a controlled substance, unless it happens to be caffeine.  Or alcohol.  Or–skip it).

Just as incorruptible goody-two-shoes neighbor Ned Flanders takes Bart under his wing after Homer wins a bet at his son’s expense (so that he has to go skateboarding naked through town, until he’s eventually apprehended by Chief Wiggum–“Stop in the name of American squeamishness!”–and handcuffed to a lamppost, only to be further humiliated by school bully Nelson Muntz, who points and laughs at him until he’s hoarse), incorruptible Hank, Walt’s brother-in-law and D.E.A. agent, takes Jesse under his wing after Walt’s meth-manufacturing partner figures out that “Mr. White” poisoned his girlfriend’s son with ricin in order to lure drug kingpin Gus Fring into a fatal trap.

After Walt’s falling out with his family, he banishes himself to New Hampshire, just as Homer drives the Simpsons family to Alaska before being abandoned by them for refusing to go rescue their fellow Springfieldianites from E.P.A. director Cargill’s imprisoning glass dome.  Homer lies down on a heart-shaped ice floe that breaks in two as the Carpenters’ “Close to You” plays in the background; Walt licks his wounds and injects his own cancer-treating drug in utter desolation.

Over a glass of whiskey at a neighborhood bar, just after being urged to die by his indignant son Walter, Jr., who thinks his father’s directly responsible for his uncle Hank’s death, Walt watches his former business partners, who’ve gone on to become millionaires themselves in a more legitimate fashion, on an overhead TV.  They tell talk show host Charlie Rose that Walt, now exposed as a murderous drug lord and menace to society, had nothing to do with their success apart from helping them come up with the name, Gray Matter(s?) (bullshit).  Walt’s feelings are clearly hurt, but more so, it appears, by something his ex-partner (and also ex-girlfriend says), about how the sweet old Walter White they knew and loved is gone, having been entirely replaced by the sinister criminal mastermind Heisenberg.

Just as Walt must set out to prove them wrong (and get even in the process), Homer encounters a shaman after whipping a pack of sled dogs into eventually attacking him in a display of instant karma.  The shaman feeds him a boiling elixir that has a hallucinogenic effect, so that Homer finds himself being swatted by anthropomorphic trees and having the parts of his body removed before being reassembled.

The shaman has told him he’s going to have an epiphany; sure enough, he does.  Despairing from the torment, he blurts out, “I don’t care about myself anymore!”

[Now he’s ready to go back and save the people of Springfield with some Steve McQueen (Great Escape)-inspired motorcycle-riding acrobatics.]

Walt has essentially the same revelation, although he never verbalizes it.  Bryan Cranston is a subtle enough actor to convey it by playing the character more quietly than before.  Once again, as at the start of the series, we really feel for him (at least I did).  He knows what he has to do, and he does it.

That’s as much as I have to say about the parallels, but I’d like to go on a bit further about Breaking Bad, not that the blogosphere isn’t already incredibly cluttered with chatter regarding the show.  

Come to think of it, I haven’t finished comparing the epiphanies.  Unlike Homer’s (after all, he’s a simpler fellow), Walt’s is drawn out over at least two episodes (“Ozymandias” and the New Hampshire one).  When he’s stuck on the Indian reservation, unwittingly rescued from arrest by the man who will simultaneously doom him to despair (Jack the neo-Nazi), Walt suddenly realizes the error of his ways and begs Jack not to murder Hank.  We see him collapse into inconsolable despondency when Jack pulls the trigger, the horror of what he, Walt, has done at last dawning on him.

This is the first part of his epiphany.  The second comes when his wife Skyler slashes his palm with a kitchen knife, protecting Walt, Jr. and herself from the man they think has killed her sister’s husband.  The third and final part comes when he hears what his ex says in the TV interview.

Bryan Cranston is a gifted actor who made Walt at least partly sympathetic throughout the series, even when he’d descended to his most loathsome and self-centered depths.  He had to lose everything and everyone before he could ascend phoenix-like as the avenging angel in the last episode (“Felina,” the name of the love interest addressed in the Marty Robbins song “El Paso” in the soundtrack).  He had to be the hero who saved Jesse before cashing in his chips.

The relationship between Walt and Jesse is perhaps the most poignant (and complicated) one in the show.  They both respect and detest each other, but there’s enough love between them to prevent them from going for the jugular and destroying each other completely.  Walt clearly feels guilty to see what’s become of his surrogate son (though he obviously had intended to hurt him badly when he confessed about letting ex-girlfriend Jane die), no longer bitter about having been ratted on to the late Hank.  Jesse, too, may sympathize with Walt, since the poor man is obviously dying–not only from cancer but from the even more pressing matter of a fresh–and inadvertently self-inflicted–bullet wound.

Gilligan really made you care about the characters and what happened to them.  He made the principal figures in the show ambiguous enough to make them feel more human (including Walt, Skyler, Jesse, Marie, Gus, Mike, and even Hank, who shows his dark side when he admits to his partner Steve Gomez that he considers Jesse expendable).

As for “El Paso,” the greatest love felt at the end appears to be Walt’s for Jesse.  Jesse is the son Walt never had.  Walter, Jr. is too pure, so he and Walt can never fully either understand or appreciate each other fully (remember that scene in the driveway in which they’re revving their car engines together, with the song “Bonfire” playing on the soundtrack?).  Unlike Jesse, Walt, Jr.–excuse me, Flynn–can never break bad.  Of course, Jesse is a good-hearted soul too; maybe he reminds Walt of how good a man he (Walt) could have been.

Paraphrasing the song, Jesse’s the one Walt takes the bullet for.  Remember that he leaves Skyler without even saying goodbye.  At least he gets to chat with Lydia and play with his chemistry set before lying down for a permanent nap as the camera dollies up in an homage to that bloody motel room scene towards the end of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver.

Although I doubt Vince Gilligan’s upcoming project with Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul, can live up to Breaking Bad, I’d be curious to see how his surviving loved ones reacted to the news of Walt’s death.  Not that the finale didn’t provide a perfect ending to the series.

What would have been funny–if slightly out of character and inapproriately ridiculous–would have been if Walter, as soon as Hank got shot, reacted by slapping his forehead and crying, “D’oh!”

 

Strangers in the Night, Exchanging Text Messages

The following exchange took place between U. S. President Barack Obama and North Korean President Kim Jong-un on April 8, 2013, starting at 8:13 am, South Korean time.

B. O.:  Hey Kim, what’s up?

K. J.:  Nothing special.

B. O.:  Got nukes?

K. J.:  Sure.  Want some?

B. O.:  Already loaded, thanks.

K. J.:  Why you call?

B. O.:  You want war?

K. J.:  No, thanks.

B. O.:  Why you so aggressive?

K. J.:  Talking to yourself?

B. O.:  LOL.  Seriously, man.

K. J.:  Just keeping up appearances.

B. O.:  Thou shalt not kill.

K. J.:  What about thou?

B. O.:  Sorry–runs in the family of presidents.

K. J.:  See?  We’re no different–U and I.

B. O.:  Peace.

K. J.:  Of the action.

B. O.:  C’mon, give up the nukes.

K. J.:  You first.

B. O.:  I promise we won’t bomb you.

K. J.:  That’s what you told Saddam Hussein and Mo Kaddafi.

B. O.:  And that whole “axis of evil” thing?  Just a joke.

K. J.:  LOL.

B. O.:  Bush is funny guy.

K. J.:  Looks don’t count.

B. O.:  Hey, that’s mean.

K. J.:  Sorry.

B. O.:  Kim?  I understand what Dennis Rodman means.

K. J.:  Sorry?

B. O.:  I mean, I love you too.

K. J.:  Cooties!

B. O.:  Kudos to you to.

K. J.:  We ain’t even met.

B. O.:  I and thou, bro.

K. J.:  Que?

B. O.:  From now on.

K. J.:  Your meaning is incomprehensible to me.

B. O.:  That’s the way it’s going to be–we’re as tight as ticks.

K. J.:  Hey, Obama?

B. O.:  Yo!

K. J.:  Think you can get me a date with Park Geun-hye?

B. O.:  No!  Dude, you’re married!

K. J.:  I know.  Shucks.  She’s just dreamy.

B. O:  I know what you mean.

K. J.:  REALLY?

B. O.:  Shhh!  Please don’t tell Michelle!

K. J.:  I’m texting mommy!

B. O.:  Come on, man.  I thought we were friends.

K. J.:  We are.  I’m kidding.

B. O.:  So we agreed?  No more nukes?

K. J.:  Sorry, no dice.

B. O.:  Why not?

K. J.:  I feel naked without them.

B. O.:  So what?  Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

K. J.:  Got to slim down first.

B. O.:  So do some tae kwon do.

K. J.:  Good idea.

B. O.:  And while you’re at it, lose the nukes.

K. J.:  Mind if I sell ’em to Iran?

B. O.:  Hey, don’t even joke about that!

K. J.:  I won’t if you’ll stop joking about Predator drones.

B. O.:  I fired the guy who wrote that one.

K. J.:  He still out of work?

B. O.:  No–I mean I literally burned him alive with a missile shot from a drone!

K. J.:  I hope you’re kidding.

B. O.:  I hope you are too.

K. J.:  Gotta go, Barry.  Keep ’em guessing.

B. O.:  You too, tiger.

K. J.:  Keep in touch.

B. O.:  Parting is such sweet sorrow.

K. J.:  Roger Wilco.