Has the World Gone 'Sopranos' Crazy?

Sopranos Gospel — You can learn a lot about Christianity at the Bada Bing, according to Pastor Chris Seay of Houston, author of The Gospel According to Tony Soprano (Relevant Books).

You might think The Sopranos would offend a minister with its graphic violence, foul language and sex. What's more, the show airs on Sunday.

But Seay urges viewers to look beyond the depravity for important lessons. He says Tony is like the biblical King Solomon. Both have tremendous wealth and power. Still, they inwardly feel weak and empty.

"Tony is a powerless father," Seay says. "He can't stop torturing himself because he thinks he's failing them [his children], just as his mother and father failed him."

Seay calls Big Pussy "the Judas Iscariot of the New Jersey mob" for betraying Tony and becoming an FBI informant.

Tony's only shot at happiness is to seek God, the pastor says. Therapy alone can't help, says Seay. He paints an unflattering portrait of Dr. Melfi, who attempts to heal Tony and "other misguided patients" without "possessing a true sense of the illness in her own life."

Seay describes Melfi's tendency to drink bourbon before seeing patients as "only the beginning of her ethical dilemmas."

"She sits in a place of perceived power, but, like Tony, finds herself weak and bankrupt."

If only Tony could read The Gospel According to Tony Soprano. Being compared to Soloman might finally cheer him up.

Sopranos Lingo — If you think a "goohmah," is the person married to your grandpa, you'll need The Sopranos: A Family History (Warner Books) by Alan Rucker, the most exacting of all episode guides.

A goohmah is a mistress, and every "made guy" in the Sopranos crew has one.

Here's a couple of other lessons in singing Soprano:

Large — $1,000, as in "You owe me 50 large." Buttlegging — Bootlegging untaxed cigarettes. Guest of the State — A convicted criminal Stugots — Testicles. Also the name of Tony's boat. Wearing It — Dressing in traditional gangster attire, with a shiny suit, hankie, pinky ring, gold cufflinks and other ornaments. Silvio and Paulie are always "wearing it." Mortadella — A total loser. Wonder Bread WOP — An assimilated Italian-American.

Sopranos College — Is Carmela Soprano the Blanche DuBois of northern New Jersey? Are Paulie Walnuts and Silvio Dante gangland's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?

Professor Maurice Yacowar of the University of Calgary in Alberta is teaching the first college class devoted to The Sopranos. "They really do stand up to the kind of analysis I'm used to giving for a [Harold] Pinter play, or a Tennessee Williams play, or a Hitchcock film, or a Shakespeare play," he tells Reuters. "The text is that rich, the context is that lively."

This film studies class will call on students to view gangster classics like The Public Enemy, starring James Cagney, and Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather before tackling the HBO drama.

Sopranos Cooking — Mafia movies are famous for killing and cooking — and the Soprano family has recipes for both. Tony's friend Artie Bucco is credited with compiling the official Sopranos Family Cookbook (Warner Books) featuring 100 Neapolitan and southern Italian recipes.

But to muscle into the world of gangster cookbooks, Tony's fictional family will have to square off with Henry Hill, the real-life gangster who disappeared into the Federal Witness Protection Program and became the subject of Martin Scorsese's GoodFellas.

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