Film
Jogarza and the Only Left-Handed Catcher (Ever): Netflix’s Battered Bastards of Baseball

Jogarza and the Only Left-Handed Catcher (Ever): Netflix’s Battered Bastards of Baseball

A look into the new Netflix documentary on the scrappy, beer-belching, independent pro baseball team, Portland’s Mavericks, their bizarre lineup of rejects and castoffs, and the wild joke they pulled on Major League Baseball.

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

Another Week Ends: Overrated Successes, Disappointing Babies, Nostalgia for Human Error, Impossible Repayment and Technocrat Baseball

1. William Deresiewicz’s clickbaity “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League” draws in high-achievers and their parents to, well, pull the rug out from under them. Apologies for the lengthy quotes, but it’s very good, ht MB:

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures…

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Jesus: Not Quite Your All-American Hero

Jesus: Not Quite Your All-American Hero

Babe Ruth taught me one thing: “Remember, kid,” he said, “there’s heroes, and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Follow your heart, kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” All right, sure… maybe that was the not-so-historical Great Bambino from The Sandlot talking, but still, his advice has stuck with me since I was a wee lad. I believe it was my freshman year of high school that I heard Chad Kroeger of Nickelback opine, “They say that a hero can save us, I’m not gonna stand here and wait.” And I’ll never be able to expunge from…

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Another Week Ends: Nick Cave, Cuddle Parties, Prognostalgia, Wine Snobbery, The Vicar of Baghdad, and the Post-Christian Politics of Jesus

Another Week Ends: Nick Cave, Cuddle Parties, Prognostalgia, Wine Snobbery, The Vicar of Baghdad, and the Post-Christian Politics of Jesus

1) “The Vicar of Baghdad” is a three-part series over at Vice, and it’s difficult to put into words the (foolish? amazing?) courage of Vicar Andrew White, an English-born Anglican priest who walks with a cane, and who has now served in Baghdad’s central districts for fourteen years, running St. George’s Episcopal Anglican Church, as well as running a clinic for locals and, most interestingly, working as a intermediary between Sunni and Shia leaders for peace and dialogue. It’s a real-life parable (ht JZ).

2) There were several au contraires to the presumption that we “live by looks” this week. Or,…

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Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

Another Week Ends: Blinded with Science, Stumped by Meaning After God, Paralyzed by the Law of Ice and Fire, Outmaneuvered by a Cheeseburger and Oversimplified by Gallup

1. Aquinas followed Aristotle in claiming the end (telos, purpose) of biology is medicine. Science has long been a technical discipline designed primarily to promote human flourishing / well-being. Of course, it was always contemplative to a degree, satisfying curiosity or even, as Aquinas also notes, teaching us about God. The study of creation reflects upon the Creator. One wonders what the role of science is today, what a panel of researchers would say if asked. My best guess would be something along the lines of increasing knowledge for knowledge’s sake; if pressed further, one might say that pure knowledge works to bolster happiness and/or…

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Mining Netflix: Giving Up on Being Right in My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

Mining Netflix: Giving Up on Being Right in My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend

Mark Twain once said, “Humor is tragedy plus time”. But, how much time?

In the fall of 2012, researchers at the University of Colorado examined “how humorous responses to a tragedy change over time by measuring reactions to jokes about Hurricane Sandy”. By studying humorous responses to a tragic situation, they found that, contrary to popular belief, most events don’t get funnier over time and that there is a actually a rise, peak, and fall to a joke’s reception after a tragedy. Essentially, jokes after a tragedy have a peak window of time where they are received as most funny and…

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Mockingbird In Space: 10 Sci-Fi Flicks With Relevant(ish) Themes

Mockingbird In Space: 10 Sci-Fi Flicks With Relevant(ish) Themes

The new summer issue of The Mockingbird contains a bunch of lists of recommendations and favorites (and heresies). This is one of them.

For those looking for some popcorn-worthy viewing (and re-viewing) this summer, a few interstellar picks with surprisingly relevant themes:

1. Serenity (2005). In which Joss Whedon poses big questions and proves once again that he understands original sin better than anyone in the business. Chiwetel Ejiofor makes a fabulous villain, and major kudos go to Whedon for including Shepherd Book in the action, a clergyperson with the kind of conviction, vitality, and heart that one seldom sees on screen…

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Another Week Ends: Reboot Treaties, Father’s Day, Tolkien’s Sorrowful Joy, 5 Minutes in a Mom’s Head, and Analyzing Analysts

Another Week Ends: Reboot Treaties, Father’s Day, Tolkien’s Sorrowful Joy, 5 Minutes in a Mom’s Head, and Analyzing Analysts

1. We open this week with a less-than-implausible doomsday scenario envisioned by The Onion, a world in which reboot films will come to wreak havoc on civilization. Fortunately, the newssite reported this week that “Universal Studios, Warner Bros. Enter Talks To Reduce Stockpiles Of Unproduced Reboots”. More below:

Conceding the time has come to limit the proliferation of new movies that simply rehash old ones, Universal Studios and Warner Bros. have entered bilateral talks to reduce their considerable stockpiles of unproduced reboots, sources confirmed Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters after the first day of tense negotiations, members of both sides said that while building up…

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Willem Dafoe Plays Eliphaz (in The Fault in Our Stars)

Willem Dafoe Plays Eliphaz (in The Fault in Our Stars)

Disguised as a chick flick, The Fault in Our Stars woos floods of teenage girls while simultaneously offering a startlingly honest commentary on life and death. Sure, it’s a used plot (cancer-stricken teens fall in love) and an even more used conflict (inexplicable suffering), but The Fault in Our Stars strikes up a whirlwind of important questions, which, chances are, will challenge viewers beyond their expectations. These are important questions. Questions of Joban proportions.

Because let’s face it, all the characters are there: Job, Job’s family, Job’s friends. The Fault in Our Stars, based on John Green’s bestselling novel, addresses inexplicable…

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Changing the Human (and Mutant) Heart in X-Men: Days of Future Past

Changing the Human (and Mutant) Heart in X-Men: Days of Future Past

I must confess that after last summer’s Superman debacle I was a little burnt out on superhero movies. They’re made with such frequency now, and many are so formulaic. Yet no matter what they keep making money. Naturally many studio executives are loath to deviate from this formula of prophecies, will-they-or-won’t-they romances, and of course, massive amounts of CGI destruction.

I’m happy to report that X-Men: Days of Future Past breaks the mold. In fact, it proved to be one of the most creative superhero movies I’ve seen in a very long time. By incorporating time travel, it functions as a…

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Another Week Ends: Cultural Literati Pretenders, Fake Empathy, The Search for Cool (Moms), Kurt Vonnegut, Calvary, and the Gospel Dustups

Another Week Ends: Cultural Literati Pretenders, Fake Empathy, The Search for Cool (Moms), Kurt Vonnegut, Calvary, and the Gospel Dustups

1) The Atlantic attempted a definition of “cool” this week, and it runs in tow with Shane Snow’s definition of humor in the New Yorker. Whereas humor can be defined as “benign violation,” cool is defined by Derek Thompson as “a measured violation of malign expectations.” Sounds good to me! Within this definition, cool is bound on both ends by law: cool is a response to some form of constraint or expectation, but it also must operate within an expected set of parameters in order for it to be seen as cool. If it operates beyond the parameters of its…

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The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

The 5 Best Sports Movies You May Have Missed

Last week, as I watched 3 of my beloved TV series have their season finales – “The Good Wife” (the best show not talked about much on Mockingbird–there, I said it) “The Americans” (best 2-season binge watch currently available) and “Survivor” (the original reality show competition, accept no substitute) – it struck me that we’re entering the summer season. It’s the time of year when we go to our blu rays, On Demands, Redboxes, and Netflix to catch up on films we’ve been meaning to see, but have not because we have been too busy just trying to keep up…

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“The Thin Fabric”: Ingmar Bergman’s Life in The Magic Lantern

“The Thin Fabric”: Ingmar Bergman’s Life in The Magic Lantern

This guest post comes from Michael Centore. It is one part of three in his series on filmmaker’s memoirs.

Three quotations constellate in my mind when I think of the subject of “excess.” There’s William Blake’s “The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom”; then Balzac’s “All excesses are brothers,” which finds its rhetorical forebear in Saint John Cassian’s “Excesses meet.” One of the “Proverbs of Hell” in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, the Blake line is often bumper-stickered into a general defense of hedonism—a misreading on par with the selective omission of the word rational in…

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The Right Hand of Godzilla

The Right Hand of Godzilla

This amazing review comes from Ian Olson.

Ladies and gentlemen, the slate has been wiped clean: the 1998 Roland Emmerich catastrophe lies buried, and the ignominy cloaking Godzilla’s good name like a miasma has been decisively decontaminated. Gareth Edwards’ new reboot delivers it all: character-driven drama, gnarly creature effects, epic devastation, and a high dosage of misanthropic Law to unsettle comfortable Western viewers.

Godzilla is a win because real, human characters find themselves engulfed within an unthinkable, inhuman crisis. Unlike most monster blockbusters, this film is first and foremost a drama about family. The narratives centers…

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PZ’s Podcast: Emotion and Generation Zahl

PZ’s Podcast: Emotion and Generation Zahl

Episode 167: Emotion

It’s a primary theme. ‘Lobo’ talked about it as well as any of our troubadours. So did, and does, Burton Cummings.

Cummings teaches so much, partly because he doesn’t filter his emotions. His songs sometimes have odd emotional interjections within them, words and phrases that sound dis-junctive. A classic example is his 1976 single “Stand Tall”. The song is pure emotion, no editing. You could almost say that “Stand Tall” sounds un-cool. But that’s because the singer/writer is not filtering what he is feeling.

Religion at its best takes the filters off, too; and embodies healing for uncooperative turbulence within….

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