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Identity and Summer Selfies: A Reminder

Identity and Summer Selfies: A Reminder

It’s that time of year again, when all of us at some level look at our bodies and realize that we’ve been more, let’s say, “relaxed” about our health during the colder months. We also see — well, some of us do, anyway — our offensively pale skin or winter-weight and dread the first day of shorts, or sun dresses, or swimsuits. It’s difficult because when everything is green and bright, there is much work to do. That is, those social media photos aren’t going to take themselves.

There’s tremendous pressure, isn’t there, to have a good time when times…

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Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

Telling Stories to the Devil: From Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story

This is an incredible excerpt, albeit completely unorthodox. It comes from a short section entitled, “Saying Goodbye to Satan,” in Lewis Mehl-Madrona’s book, Healing the Mind Through the Power of Story: The Promise of Narrative Psychiatry.

As you read, note the utter left-handedness in Mehl-Madrona’s approach: he allows the patient to tell her story and enters that story with her, totally devoid of judgment or correction. This example of narrative psychiatry in real-life shows, first of all, that the stories we tell ourselves can be damning; second, that denying those stories won’t restore us to sanity. Instead, acceptance (and more importantly:…

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Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

Old Ways and New Ways in Master of None Season 2

Bust out the Italo and pull out your pasta makers! Aziz Ansari’s Netflix project Master of None is back for season two, exploring the difficulties of love and relationships in 2017. The show continues with storytelling inspired by Aziz’s Modern Romance research project, a book we loved so much that we invited co-author Eric Klinenberg to #MbirdNYC16. Sadly, book deals prevented us from sharing the recording, so just trust me when I report that it was one of the best (funniest? most poignant?) talks at an Mbird gathering from someone “outside” the fold.

Season one, united by the theme of “fear…

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Giddy Godless Weddings

Giddy Godless Weddings

’Tis the season.

More than any other time of the year people are celebrating their connection in marriage. Having aged into “friends of Mom and Dad” status, my wife and I have been to many weddings in the last few years. We’ve noticed that this ceremony, which was languishing in our culture, has been enlivened in recent years by my generation’s children getting married.

These days the act of marriage is at best deferred, but definitely its inevitability has been diminished. Weddings happen, but fewer, later — and these long-planned, very expensive, highly produced gatherings are pretty programmed affairs.

But the real story is…

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Wendell Berry's World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

Wendell Berry’s World-Ending Fire of Original Sin

A few days ago, I happened across the round-table discussion with Wendell Berry, Paul Kingsnorth (author of the forthcoming Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist), and economist Kate Raworth on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week hosted by Andrew Marr. The conversation, from this past May, centered around problems associated with the environmental movement, particularly issues of idealism without responsibility.

Wendell Berry, an avid environmentalist himself, is not opposed to stirring the pot. He just released a book of essays optimistically titled The World-Ending Fire and is the subject of a documentary produced by Nick Offerman — yep, that Nick Offerman — called Look and…

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Sisyphus’s Inbox ~ Oliver Burkeman

It was such a privilege to have journalist and best-selling author Oliver Burkeman speak at our recent conference in NYC! His incredible talk, about productivity and modern life, is available here:

Sisyphus’s Inbox ~ Oliver Burkeman from Mockingbird on Vimeo.

The NBA Finals, Finally

The NBA Finals, Finally

The NBA playoffs have come to their long awaited climax: the third straight Finals matchup between the Cavaliers and Warriors. Neither team has been slowed down at all thus far. The Warriors are 12-0 and the Cavs are 12-1. The average margin of victory across the playoffs has been a disappointingly wide 13.5 points, and both teams made quick work of their conference finals foes – including 30+ point beat downs of the Spurs and Celtics, respectively. So there’s a lot of pressure on this series to deliver.

Still, there have been some memorable moments in these playoffs: the electric first round matchup of…

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No Ugly Babies: An Interview with Micah Bournes

No Ugly Babies: An Interview with Micah Bournes

This post was written by Daniel Melvill Jones.

Micah Bournes is a hip-hop artist and spoken word poet. He doesn’t play any instrument, yet last year he released No Ugly Babies, an album of original blues songs. The songs are contagious, constantly forcing me to sing along. Yet their lyrics provoke perspectives that challenge my everyday attitudes and actions. For an artist who’s built his career around spoken word performances, spending four years in an unfamiliar medium was a significant financial and creative risk. To learn about why this was necessary, I spoke to Micah over the phone.

Micah sees himself not as…

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Entry of the Gods Into Alien: Covenant

Entry of the Gods Into Alien: Covenant

The latest Alien movie is in theatres, and it’s a lot like the others, which means tons of casualties, and robots can’t be trusted. A few wrinkles separate Covenant, though. First, Danny McBride is in this one, and he’s a convincing space cowboy. He knows his John Denver, and he won’t rest until the crew is rescued. “We didn’t come here to be safe,” he says. Next, we have a rather sad depiction of Christianity in Billy Crudup. He wants to do the faithful thing, but the multitude of monsters make it difficult for him. Finally, Michael Fassbender plays two…

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When the World Tastes Like Cold French Fries

When the World Tastes Like Cold French Fries

Durga Chew-Bose’s Too Much and Not the Mood is a small collection of essays printed in a charming paperback edition, and it’s perfect for carrying around this summer. A poet by inclination, Chew-Bose’s essays are lyrical and wonderfully meandering, especially the lead, “Heart Museum.” This passage is from a little further along in the book, in a piece called “Miserable.” She shows great sensitivity and power illustrating the world’s ability to disappoint.

As a child, a Slinky stalled on a flight of steps caused me acute stress. The way it would cede to its coils — sometimes pause and appear to levitate — and then fail, abandoning…

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The Promethean Appeal of #Vanlife

The Promethean Appeal of #Vanlife

If you created a spectrum, and put freewheeling adventurers on one side, I, sadly, would fall on the opposite end. Still, even my cautious heart stirred a bit when I read a recent New Yorker article by Rachel Monroe about a hashtag called #vanlife.  The article focused on a couple – Emily King and Corey Smith – who, in the winter of 2013, purchased a Volkswagen van, left New England in a snowstorm, and headed south. Soon, the couple’s popular Instagram “Where’s My Office Now?” had drawn enough interest to gain them corporate sponsorships (including GoWesty – a company that services…

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Identity Narratives from the Bathroom Floor

Identity Narratives from the Bathroom Floor

If you’ve never seen The Bachelor (though chances are you probably have), then you’ve missed some of reality TV’s best attempts to turn real people into caricatures. Whether it’s the intention of the contestant, the careful edits of the producers, or a combination of both, every person who steps out of the limo has a cohesive and clear-cut identity. Usually this is executed in the narrative portion of the show when we “meet” the contestant and get a nice video montage of her life, but it can also be done through behind-the-scenes commentary (“My friends all consider me the party girl…

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