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The Results We Never Asked For: The Tragedy of Lawrence Phillips

The Results We Never Asked For: The Tragedy of Lawrence Phillips

Former Nebraska Cornhusker football star Lawrence Phillips’ apparent suicide in prison has been lodged in my mind as few celebrity (speaking broadly) deaths ever have. To be clear, I’ve never been a fan of Phillips, and I hadn’t thought about him enough to follow his post-Nebraska life. The story touches so much of who I am, though, that I can’t quite make sense of it.

A bit of background: Phillips was the star running back on the 1994 National Champion Huskers team, and he was a leading favorite for the Heisman Trophy at the beginning of the 1995 season. That ended…

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From the Archives: The Modern State of The Charming Man

From the Archives: The Modern State of The Charming Man

This was written in light of news that Vince Vaughn was chosen to be the star in a film based on the 1970’s television show The Rockford Files, starring James Garner.

Grant had developed a new way to interact with a woman onscreen: he treated his leading lady as both a sexually attractive female and an idiosyncratic personality, an approach that often required little more than just listening to her—a tactic that had previously been as ignored in the pictures as it remains, among men, in real life. His knowing but inconspicuously generous style let the actress’s performance flourish, making…

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Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Just Like That Bluebird: The Mortal Prayers of David Bowie, RIP

Gutted by this morning’s tragic news about the death of David Bowie. His incredible new single “Lazarus” had actually been on repeat in our office the past couple weeks. By way of paltry tribute, here’s the reflection from the back of A Mess of Help, slightly embellished. The world will be a duller place without him:

Rumor has it that David Bowie lobbied for the role of grand elf Elrond in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of The Rings. As good as Hugo Weaving was, Bowie would have been better, and not just because he played more or less to type in…

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Three Hard to Absorb Letters

Three Hard to Absorb Letters

Here’s one from our podcasting guru, Scott Jones:

This week Charlie Sheen revealed to the world he is HIV positive. In an interview with Matt Lauer, Sheen describes the moment he received the diagnosis:

… it started with what I thought based on a series of cluster headaches and insane migraines and sweating the bed, completely drenched two, three nights in a row, that I was emergency hospitalized. I thought I had a brain tumor. I thought it was over. Um… after a battery of tests and spinal taps, all that crap, it uh… they walked in the room and said, ‘Boom….

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Introducing Covetton House

Talk about a gift that keeps on giving! And this particular gift couldn’t be more timely, given Jeff’s post on The Century of the Self yesterday. Some of you may want to fast forward to the 3 minute mark.

Jordan Spieth: There’s No “I” in Golf…Huh?

Jordan Spieth: There’s No “I” in Golf…Huh?

I’ve always had respect for the players and coaches in any sport who use the first person plural when they’re interviewed after a win, and the first person singular when things went poorly for them or their team after a loss. Derek Jeter was like that, so were Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw and Buc’s Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy. That vantage point is counter-intuitive. To sit at your locker in front of a reporter after a loss and continually answer every question with “I…..” after a loss, but  “We…..” after a win, is a discipline that very few in…

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The Agony of Getting Everything You Want

The Agony of Getting Everything You Want

Newly minted billionaire Markus Persson of Minecraft fame (if you don’t know what Minecraft is, ask any boy aged 8-12) is not happy. A series of tweets from early Saturday morning went as follows:

4:48am: The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.

4:50am: Hanging out in ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I’ve never felt more isolated.

4:51am: In sweden, I will sit around and wait for my friends with jobs and families to have time to do shit,…

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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt 4: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem, Pt 4: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Welcome to the fourth installment of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, you can find them beginning here. New installments will be posted every two weeks, on Tuesdays.

Ann is a single, 50 year old entrepreneur. She invented a cost-efficient, biodegradable car battery that will transform the energy industry and measurably slow global warming.

Tesla’s Elon Musk bought the patent from Ann; from the sale she netted $1 billion in cold, hard cash.

Ann promptly identified a group of respected, low-overhead charities that help starving children, cancer…

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Stephen Colbert Loves the Thing He Most Wishes Had Not Happened

Stephen Colbert Loves the Thing He Most Wishes Had Not Happened

It turns out that Stephen Colbert has a sign on his computer that reads, “Joy is the most infallible sign of the existence of God.” No joke. I tell you this by way of context for what comes next. GQ ran a profile of him this month entitled “The Late, Great Stephen Colbert”, checking in with the comedian (and, according to the article, “one of the country’s few public moral intellectuals”!) before he kicks off his much-anticipated stint as host of The Late Show in September. The article is jaw-dropping. What starts out with a story about Colbert needling Eminem on…

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Never Lost Again: Tinder, Porn and the Dying Art of Falling in Love

Never Lost Again: Tinder, Porn and the Dying Art of Falling in Love

In our upcoming sixth installment of The Mockingbird, the Technology Issue, we had the opportunity to interview the sensei on the subject, Nicholas Carr. Carr was a Pulitzer finalist for his 2010 book The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, and his recent book, The Glass Cage, deals with the growing presence of automation in our lives. Part of the book deals with Google Maps, and the difference between what he calls “wayfaring” versus “transport.”

Wayfaring is messier and less efficient than transport, which is why it has become a target for automation. “If you have a mobile phone…

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Chris Farley and the Tragedy of Splitting

I just watched the trailer for the upcoming Chris Farley documentary and nearly bawled on my desk. His work was a huge part of my childhood and, for my money, there have never been better SNL skits than Matt Foley or funnier movies than Tommy Boy. What a tragic loss.

The trailer revealed that this poor man fell victim to what some have called “splitting”: the living of two lives, ever more separated – one an idealized, “super” version of self and the other a dark brew of one’s less admirable traits (what Paul Zahl refers to as “the boys in the basement”). Chris Farley always had to be “Chris Farley.” He couldn’t find a space to let down, tell the truth, not be funny,  and even as the expectations on his better self ramped up, the appetites of his shadow self increased in step, and finally claimed him. No one can be “on” all the time.

Chris was killed by the law of fame, and not God’s Law, but the lesson still holds. As long as we attempt to find approval and peace by living up to some unattainable ideal, we will inevitably split. The hope of the Gospel is that our darker self will be brought into the light, where it can be forgiven, loved, embraced, and integrated. Only grace moves us towards wholeness, a miracle which Christopher Crosby Farley never experienced.

Reading Memoirs: David’s Little Helper

Reading Memoirs: David’s Little Helper

I love reading memoirs. Turning to personal accounts of people’s paths through life is fun; it allows me to enter into their experiences for a while. I can’t deny, though, that implicit in my reading is a vague desire to live vicariously through the subject. I read stories to be transported and transformed. Art that deserves merit can have this transformative effect, but with memoirs I think my aim is less lofty. Some of the more memorable ones I’ve encountered were by Chuck Lidell, Rob Lowe and Jony Ive, among others– an eclectic bunch, yes, but all with flourishes of…

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