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February Playlist

Shadows of the Brothers Gibb hang heavy over this one, as well they should. Also, RIP Mark E Smith:

The Deathless Death

The Deathless Death

This one was written by our friend Sean Dwyer.

I’ve recently stopped attending my church. Putting many intellectual issues aside, the heart of the matter is the heart. I do not want to go anymore. I am unable to go. I am unable to bear the weight of the expectations, exhortations, and encouragements. I am sick.

In the words of Hozier, my church has been dishing out a “deathless death.” In his song, “Take Me to Church,” he sings:

Every Sunday’s getting more bleak,
A fresh poison each week.
“We were born sick,” you heard them say it.
My church offers no absolution.
She tells me, “Worship…

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Before the Big Top, There Was Love: The Greatest Showman

Before the Big Top, There Was Love: The Greatest Showman

The many movies that contemplate men experiencing work/dream/family conflicts have not, generally, been helpful to viewers—men or otherwise. This category of film is vast, of course, but they almost always posit that fathers who sincerely return their gaze to family in Act 3 will achieve a previously inconceivable version of whatever they were pursuing to their children’s detriment in Act 1. It’s a bit like the pop theology “let go [of yourdesires/needs/wants] and let God [lavishly reward your moment of selflessness with all the riches and favors you’ve ever wanted].” If I can just trick myself into believing that my…

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January Playlist

Consuming 2017: Favorite Music, Media, Humor, and Books

Consuming 2017: Favorite Music, Media, Humor, and Books

Alrighty, my friends, it’s time for our annual round up of favorites, which I had way too much fun putting together. As always, these are predominantly personal picks, albeit ones with an eye toward Mocking-resonance. TV went live last week. (Click here to check out last year’s list). Here goes:

Music

Favorite Discoveries

Jimmy Webb. This one counts as about 20 discoveries wrapped up into one. I had known the hits–“Galveston”, “Wichita Lineman”, “Macarthur Park”, who doesn’t?–but that was as far as it went. Talk about the tip of the iceberg! Webb’s is a gift that’s been giving for nigh on…

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If Only In My Dreams

If Only In My Dreams

I love Christmas music. I say that fully aware of the considerable aesthetic shortcomings that this love means I must endure, and yet every year as dusk falls upon Thanksgiving Day, I tune in like a character in a Lou Reed song waiting for their man. I find it easy to overlook the saccharine sweetness that under most other circumstances would be a disincentive, to say the absolute least: at no other point in time would I ever even consider sitting through an entire Barry Manilow song. But if it’s “Jingle Bells” with Expose then you bet your duff I’m…

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A Conspiracy of Hope and Light: Reviewing U2's Songs of Experience

A Conspiracy of Hope and Light: Reviewing U2’s Songs of Experience

I don’t think I’ve ever read a review of a U2 record that isn’t preceded by a lengthy prologue wrestling with the band’s stature, either in the culture at large or the reviewer’s upbringing or both. They’re the kind of band that provokes not just adulation and irritation but qualification, even from their most ardent fans. I guess when you court importance–and the record release as Event–as Bono and co have done so doggedly these past 30-ish years, you’re kind of setting yourself up for it. Whatever the case, people have baggage when it comes to U2.

Earlier this year David…

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When Whitney Houston Writes Your Prayers

When Whitney Houston Writes Your Prayers

It’s that time of year again! Oh, you thought I was talking about the holidays? Nope, I’m referring to the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, known as Engagement Season: the month and a half where your social media feeds seem to consist solely of diamond rings and “YES!!!! I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend!!!! #helpweneedaweddinghashtag.”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love engagements and weddings, maybe a little too much. I will stop whatever I’m doing to scroll through engagement photos or watch a wedding video, and I’ve been planning my own imaginary…

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Music, Truth, and David Zahl’s A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll

Music, Truth, and David Zahl’s A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll

Last week I was revising an essay that’s in my thesis for my MFA in creative writing. It’s about music and memory, and I write about how music roots us to past, present, and future versions of ourselves. While I was revising that piece, my soon-to-be-15-year-old daughter asked me to review one of her essays. It was also about music and memory. It was about other things, too (essays are usually about other things besides the obvious things), but it was a sort of exploration of different seasons of her life and music was the vehicle that carried me through…

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December Playlist: Happy Birthday Baby Jesus 2017

Bringing out the Christmas trappings early actually felt like a necessity this year. Hope you dig the mix.

You can find my other mixes on http://hbbj.holiday/ Enjoy!

Bad at Love

Bad at Love

This one was written by Anna Nott.

I am convinced that I, perhaps along with a good portion of the rest of the world, continue to listen to Halsey’s hit “Bad at Love” for more than just the fact that it’s super catchy. The lyrics are profoundly confessional, stating:

I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe
that we’re meant to be.
But jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy
Gets the best of me.
Look, I don’t mean to frustrate, but I
Always make the same mistakes, yeah I
Always make the same mistakes ’cause
I’m bad at love!

When she sings, “I believe that we’re meant to be, but jealousy gets…

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Recommended Music: "Songs for Christmas Time" by Lowland Hum

Recommended Music: “Songs for Christmas Time” by Lowland Hum

Last Christmas my wife and I had a revelation that it seems everyone has, sooner or later. We actually started listening to Christmas music. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire?!” We’re millennials. We barely know how to start a fire, much less roast chestnuts on an open one. Forget keeping Christ in Christmas; it sometimes seems like Christmas isn’t even in Christmas. And yet here I am this year, eagerly watching as city workers string up cedar garlands downtown, checking my weather app for LED snowflakes, caught up in the internal tug-of-war that this season always brings: the longing for,…

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