The Worm at the Heart of the Tower in Merrily We Roll Along

merrily crowd

This post is one in a series on friendship, explored through the lenses of Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along and C.S. Lewis's The Four Loves.In high school, I took a survey history course on the Middle East, which ran in reverse.  We started at the present day, and worked our way backwards, with a sense of suspense to discover the cause of the war whose consequences we had learned in the last lecture.  Merrily We Roll Along follows a similar format, spooling out its story back … [Read more...]

The Merry Merchant and the Sad Antonio

Photo courtesy of Allison Stock Photography

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing the closing night performance of The Merchant of Venice, staged by The Shakespeare Forum.  It was a delightful production, and the cast did a great job making all the jokes (and there are many) land effectively, without undercutting the heartbreaking trial scene (I cried).  The humor of the background characters set apart the two antagonists, Shylock and Antonio, who are some of the only characters who never laughed joyfully.What struck me most about t … [Read more...]

Math, Moolah, Meddling Spies, and Monarchs

Richard III (Drew Cortese) / Teresa Wood

Here's the roundup of my most recent writing for The American Conservative, which includes math nerdery, political science research, Snowden coverage, and, best of all, a theatre review.  Teaching Math Under Common Core: Fact and Fiction, Part V When I learned my times tables, the kinds in my class used the fingers trick for remembering the nine times table. Just hold up all ten fingers, palms in, and then, counting from the left, put down the nth finger (where n is the number you’re m … [Read more...]

If Only Angels Would Prevail: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd

sweeney lucy

The Pope Francis bookclub post will run on Wednesday, since the chapter seemed apropos for the beginning of Lent.In a time when Hollywood is producing gritty remakes of well nigh everything, it might be appropriate to look back at one of my favorite works on how to live in an irrevocable corrupt world.  Today, at Ethika Politika, I'm discussing the tragic love that the Demon Barber of Fleet Street still bears the Moral Law in Sweeney Todd. Bond’s Sweeney, when confronted by bloodshed, has a … [Read more...]

Coriolanus’s Lonely Love

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I'd never read or seen Coriolanus before a group of friends and I went out to see Tom Hiddleston as the eponymous lead in an NT Live broadcast.  During intermission, one of my friends leaned across our block of seats to say, "I've guess this is the methadone to my House of Cards addiction."In Coriolanus, the title character is a great general, but flounders when his friends try to elevate him as a Roman Consul.  His apparent arrogance and disdain for the ordinary people of Rome, who he would … [Read more...]

Oh, the places you might not want to go!

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Tomorrow, I get to watch my brother graduate, and I'm quite excited for him, and, well, for the commencement speaker: Joss Whedon.  Since my brother is not a public figure, and Whedon is, I'll limit the content of this post to only one of these awesome people.There were two quite interesting pieces on the arts in The New York Times this weekend.  A feature on Whedon mentioned his delightful habit of having Shakespeare parties while shooting Buffy and Angel, and the impact this had on … [Read more...]

“You’re Gonna Have to Serve Somebody”

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In yesterday's post, I talked about the unenviable invulnerability of indifference, and, it so happened that the play I saw this weekend (Tom Stoppard's Rock and Roll at the Actors Ensemble of Berkeley) touched on similar themes.  The play is structured around (among other things) resistance to Soviet-dominated Communism in Czechoslovakia.  At one point in the play, Jan gets into an argument with his friend Ferdinand (recently released from prison) about who represents a larger threat to the go … [Read more...]


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