Music
“Enter Sandman” Mariano Rivera and the “Long Arm” of the Law

“Enter Sandman” Mariano Rivera and the “Long Arm” of the Law

It was perhaps the best “mid-game entrance” routine in the history of sports. I certainly can’t think of anything that comes close. When Mariano Rivera strolled out of the bullpen in Yankee Stadium to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, it was game over. The ominous, yet melodic heavy metal tune certainly added to the mystique. It truly stunk to be on the opposing team.

Exit light
Enter night
Take my hand
Off to never never land

Rivera not only has the most saves in baseball history, he also has the highest save percentage (89%) among the all-time greats.  (The save statistic is defined for closers as either…

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St. Reba Reminds Us to Pray

St. Reba Reminds Us to Pray

The past few weeks have offered us a particularly difficult news cycle. A passenger plane was shot down in Ukraine. People continue to die in the Israel-Palestine conflict. And at home in America, children have crossed our borders alone and scared, longing for something less violent than the places they left.

I find myself wanting to do something, anything, to make it better. At this point I have been to all the relief websites. I know I can give money. If we knew Spanish, we could foster a child. And past that, I am basically out of options and stuck feeling…

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The Courage to Be “Weird”

The Courage to Be “Weird”

The internet got a little bit stranger this week with the release of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s newest album, Mandatory Fun. For close to 40 years now, Weird Al has embraced everything counterculture, playfully mocking the earnestness of 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s, and 10’s versions of “cool.” From Michael Jackson to Celine Dion, from Star Wars to the Beverly Hillbillies, there are few pop culture themes and memes that the musical master of parody has left untouched.

Weird Al predates me. I discovered him as a nerdy elementary schooler at a friend’s sleep-over.  All we third and fourth graders howled with laughter,…

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The Repetitive Hope of Gavin Bryars’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”

The Repetitive Hope of Gavin Bryars’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”

I heard Gavin Bryar’s “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” for the first time in college late one night while perusing the internet for new music. This was during a particularly dark period in my life after a recent breakup where I spent many a night on the internet distracting myself with music blogs, Facebook, or AddictingGames.com. I happened upon a positive review endorsing the piece and intrigued by the concept and backstory, I downloaded it and pressed play. Normally, I would listen to music on my laptop while continuing to browse the internet but minutes after the song started,…

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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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I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

To many students like myself, mid-July feels like this: “I can’t believe school starts in only a month—I haven’t done enough summery things yet.” There’s a nagging sense of regret even in the present that maybe we could do more to optimize our time. Maybe it’s FOMO, the fear of missing out, or, perhaps, the fear of wasting time. Summer is a long-anticipated golden calf in my head, carved deep with endless vacations and immediate suntans and condensating glasses of Kool-Aid. Not a moment of this empyrean season should go to waste.

And so waste becomes the object of frenzied anxiety….

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Christmas in July: In Celebration of the Copycats and Original Cover of All Things

Christmas in July: In Celebration of the Copycats and Original Cover of All Things

When you watch a movie that’s a re-make of an older movie (which was also probably adapted from a musical adaptation of a novel) – do you ever mope and wonder if anything out there is original anymore? Is there really nothing new under the sun? I like to be cynical and sleep bitterly in this camp from time to time, sure that our collective imaginations are being mercilessly wiped away by some Never Ending Story-esque of a Nothing. “This is all that’s left of Fantasia!?” But then I consider the very concept of originality and I start to chuckle…

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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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Terry Teachout on Pop Culture and the Need for a Balance Between High and Low

Terry Teachout on Pop Culture and the Need for a Balance Between High and Low

This one comes to us from the fascinating mind of Jeremiah Lawson, aka Wenatchee the Hatchet:

The Library of America recently rolled out the first installment in a set of Elmore Leonard novels that are now part of their line-up. To mark the occasion, critic and columnist Terry Teachout has revisited his skepticism about Elmore Leonard being regarded as a member of a literary pantheon. This isn’t to suggest that Teachout isn’t a fan of Leonard’s work. This is the same man who published a fine biography on Duke Ellington last year. Instead, he is concerned that our efforts to exegete…

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Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Sally Lloyd Jones and Being Afraid of the Dark

Last week as I was tucking our 3 year old son into bed he whispered to me, “Mama, I’m scared of the dark.” I tossed out the first thing in my brain that would make him feel better and make him stay in bed, “Don’t be scared. God is with you.” I really don’t like religious platitudes. For some reason I thought my toddler wouldn’t mind as much.

Immediately my child sat up in bed, looked around and said, “Where?”

After mentally going through the list of answers adults said to me when I was his age (your heart, right beside you,…

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July Playlist

  1. mjgooniesBang-A-Boomerang – ABBA
  2. Take Me To Church – Sinead O’Connor
  3. Sister Shadow – Roddy Frame
  4. Lovers on the Run – Echo & The Bunnymen
  5. Who Gets Your Love – Dusty Springfield
  6. The Night – Frankie Valli
  7. Synthetic World – Jimmy Cliff
  8. Sitting – Cat Stevens
  9. Unbreak My Heart – Weezer
  10. Our Song – Matchbox Twenty
  11. Forgiveness – Bob Mould
  12. Tellin Stories – The Charlatans
  13. The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead – XTC
  14. Letting Go – Squeeze
  15. Lula Lula – The Zombies
  16. Wot’s Uh the Deal? – Pink Floyd
  17. Happy – John Fullbright
  18. The Battle – Whiskeytown


New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

New Music: Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence

Matthew Linder (who gave Mbird a delightful treatise on Willy Wonka) and I, for well over a week and counting, have been infatuated with the newest Lana Del Rey album, and conversations over Facebook and email ensued. Below are some of the highlights of our discussion of what we both consider a tremendously beautiful and heart-wrenching album.

 

Blake:

So from the first listen, I felt an aural tie to the gothic americana genre, but without the usual folk/bluegrass instrumentation. Gothic americana is notorious for using religious allusion and imagery for often non-religious reasons. It is all tied into this idea of Flannery…

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Five Records To Soundtrack the Summer

Five Records To Soundtrack the Summer

With summer officially here, a quick list of some recent discoveries and friendly listening options:

1. Seven Dials – Roddy Frame. Last year Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne penned a remarkable column for The NY Times about songwriting in which he praised the genius of Aztec Camera’s Roddy Frame. Frame may have ditched the Aztec Camera moniker years ago, but he never lost his muse, as evidenced by Seven Dials, his first solo record in eight years. As vaunted as my expectations were, nothing could have prepared me for the first single, “40 Days of Rain”, a veritable flood of…

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The Selfie on the Mount

The Selfie on the Mount

Instagram enhances Facebook’s most essential quality.

Facebook allows you to keep in touch with old “friends,” but keeping in touch means subjecting yourself to climate-change rants from that girl who failed biology in high school, college football highlight videos from that guy who never went to college, and (if you’re friends with me) shameless plugging of Mockingbird blog posts. But we subject ourselves to this cacophony for one reason and one reason only: So we can see their pictures.

Their pictures allow us to establish our place in the hierarchy. Her kids are cuter than mine, but mine are way cuter than his….

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Mike Powell and Rap’s Bored Hedonism

Mike Powell and Rap’s Bored Hedonism

How do I love Mike Powell? Let me count the ways… He’s been churning out some of the most honest and thoughtful commentary on music that I’ve read in years, all with a refreshing candor and without a trace of heavy-handedness. I mentioned his work before in my Poptimism article, but his writing is very much worth seeking out at Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, or Spin for any fan of music or music writing. Not only is he a great music writer in the traditional sense, but Powell also exhibits a uniquely confessional and personal style of writing (especially in his…

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