Tag Archives: rachel kovaciny

Not a Fool: The Importance of Portraying Dr. Watson Correctly

All but four of the original sixty Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle (also known as the “canon”) are narrated by Dr. John Watson.

You know what that tells us?  Watson is not merely a sidekick.  He’s not an afterthought.  He’s not just the comic relief.  He’s not a cardboard cut-out for Holmes to bounce ideas off. Continue reading


The Slumming Angel: Raymond Chandler

In his essay “The Simple Art of Murder,” Raymond Chandler explores detective fiction in general, but especially the hard-boiled kind he perfected. It includes my favorite bit of writing advice: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.” By which he meant, if you’re not sure what should happen next, make things worse in the most exciting way you can. Which is exactly how his books and stories work—everything goes from bad to worse to the worst imaginable… and then somehow turns out all right in the end.  Continue reading

The Dangers of Patriotic Zeal: Taras Bulba

The 1962 film Taras Bulba focuses on a revolution you might never have heard of if you’re not from eastern Europe. It tells the story of a 17th-century rebellion of the Zaporozhian Cossacks against their Polish overlords by focusing on a fictional family. It’s based on a book by Ukrainian author Nikolai Gogol, originally released as a short story in 1835. The Tsarist Russian authorities condemned that version as being “too Ukrainian.” Gogol later revised and expanded the story into a novel that pleased those in power. Continue reading

“What a Legend Needs”

Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword does not feature a quest for the Holy Grail. Not once does someone in it sing about how fun it is to be happily-ever-aftering in Camelot. You won’t find a single Roman cavalry officer who wants to retire. It has no young Viking princes seeking a spot at the round table. And Merlin? He gets name-checked a few times, and there’s one shot of him in a flashback, but that’s it. Lancelot and Guinevere don’t even get a mention. Continue reading

My Nasty, Brutish, and Short Hero: Wolverine

I don’t remember my introduction to the mutant superhero known as the Wolverine. I met him within the pages of the Spider-man Magazine, which started in 1994, so I know it was no earlier than that. The magazine often featured other Marvel characters having adventures with Spidey, mainly members of the X-men and Avengers. Including Wolverine. Continue reading

Repeating the Past: Dead Again


Film noir stories love to explore the question of just how much hold the past has over us. Can a person ever outrun their past? Can they atone for past actions? Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes, or even the mistakes of others? Or can a person make new choices, a new life? Can someone put the past to rest, leaving them free to begin anew? Continue reading

Haunted by the Hound


I can still remember the first time I read an entire, unabridged Sherlock Holmes adventure. I must have been about thirteen and knew I loved mysteries. I’d been devouring books about Trixie Belden and the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew for years, and my appetite for fictional crime-solving adventures just kept growing. Continue reading

“Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Aviatrix and Author”


Today, if you’ve heard of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, it’s probably because of one or two things. Most people know her name because she married Charles Lindbergh, who may have been the most famous man in the world when they met. He made the first solo transatlantic flight a few months before he met her, which made him a hero to millions of people. But she didn’t just marry a famous aviator—she shared his passion for flying and became the first American woman to earn her glider pilot’s license. Together, the Lindberghs made many record-making flights. Continue reading

From One to Many: What Westerns Tell Us About The Past


When you think of classic western movies, what do you think of? A lone hero walking out into the street to take on the bad guys? Or a group of heroes working together to take on the bad guys? They’re both famous and popular patterns for westerns, and both appear in movies made from 1930 to 1970, but they weren’t both popular at the same time. In his book Sixguns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western, author Will Wright posits that changes in the story construction of movies reflected the changes going on within American society during the period. Continue reading