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Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Everybody Worships

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: Everybody Worships

Welcome to the sixth installment of act three 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, the entire series can be found here.

“Everybody worships.” Two simple words, subject and verb. Everybody. Worships.

Google the dyad and the source explodes off the screen, a wholly unexpected wellspring for theologians (and Mockingbird).

David Foster Wallace was an enigmatic literary genius. It’s almost embarrassing for me to say, the height of clichés, but I must: Reading Infinite Jest changed my life. DFW’s hyper-intellectual maze of words and atonal writing style sprung…

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UnREAL Season 1, Part 2: Death by Suicide, Death to Self-Pity

UnREAL Season 1, Part 2: Death by Suicide, Death to Self-Pity

This is part two in a series on UnREAL, a Lifetime drama returning for its second season on June 6. You’ll find part one here. Mega-super-nuclear-option spoiler alert: the following discloses the ending of the show’s first season.

Reality TV often has an ambience of controlled insanity. The contestants act in violent, conniving, or erratic ways, and one can legitimately wonder how many are (a) truly acting or (b) truly mentally ill. In the latter category, were they chosen because of their illness by cynical producers? Are the producers exacerbating antisocial behavior in mentally ill contestants, or are the producers (probably pleasantly) surprised? The uncertainty is…

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The Culture of Narcissism, Part 1: Politics and Personhood

The Culture of Narcissism, Part 1: Politics and Personhood

This is the first in a four-part series inspired by Christopher Lasch’s 1979 book The Culture of Narcissism.

In the present presidential contest, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was the first person to say it out loud, to use the “N” word for Donald Trump. That’s right, he called Trump a narcissist. Specifically, in his news conference on September 10, 2015, Jindal said, “Donald Trump is not a serious candidate. He’s a narcissist. He’s an egomaniac. The only thing he believes in is himself” and expounded on the meaning of this description for nearly ten minutes. Harsh words, indeed; but I do…

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Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

Nothing Weirder Than Honesty

This one comes to us from Zac Koons:

An Appreciation of “You Made It Weird With Pete Holmes”

There’s a lot about Pete Holmes’s podcast that might put you off. For starters, episodes of “You Made It Weird” are long—like, Lord-of-the-Rings-long—and even more unwelcome perhaps, they’re almost entirely unedited. Its premise (comedian interviews comedian) doesn’t promise anything out of the ordinary, and he breaks almost every imaginable rule of interviewer etiquette: he indulges tangents, his research is from Wikipedia, and he constantly interrupts his guests to regale them with stories of his own. And then there’s his laugh, which is constant, lasts for…

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The Gospel’s Steady Work of Reversal

The Gospel’s Steady Work of Reversal

David Brooks’ most recent op-ed discusses the late career of Ernest Hemingway, how he became in his later years “a prisoner of his own celebrity.” Hemingway was a famous writer by 25 and by middle age he was simply “playing at being Ernest Hemingway.” Of course, this is where most of us might roll our eyes, and say few are so lucky. It’d be nice to a prisoner to your laurels instead of your demons. But when it comes down to it, Brooks isn’t just talking about fame. He is instead talking about works righteousness in a most literal sense: that becoming righteous (or noteworthy,…

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Trumping to Conclusions

Trumping to Conclusions

In September 2009, after being fired by Air America for the third time, comedian Marc Maron began the WTF podcast. It was born of necessity. Maron was 45 years old with a mediocre comedy career behind him and nothing on the horizon. But he knew a bunch of other comedians, so he sat down with them and recorded hour-long conversations, hoping that people would listen. Since then, Maron has recorded almost 700 such conversations, starting with comedians but expanding to writers, actors, directors, and, last year, the President of the United States. With a technique honed in therapy and a series…

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On Being Southern, and Human

On Being Southern, and Human

Pat Conroy died a couple of weeks ago. If you aren’t familiar with the name, then you’ve probably heard of at least one of his novels–most likely The Prince of Tides, which was made into a movie in 1991, starring Nick Nolte and Barbra Streisand. (Three other books of his were also made movies, but to less fanfare and star wattage.) As far as celebrity deaths go–literary celebrity deaths, at least–this one hit me pretty hard.

I was a fan of Conroy’s from the time I stole my mom’s copy of Beach Music. I was probably…

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RBF: What Has It Brought Us?

RBF: What Has It Brought Us?

This one comes to us from Bronwen Newcott:

Memed, laughed at, and dropped in conversation for the past few years, RBF has taken on new life as the public, including scientists, have jumped into the mix. RBF: Resting Bitch Face (alternatively known as “bitchy resting face” which came from a parody Public Service Announcement in 2013.) is a “condition” of looking angry, bothered, or irritated when one’s face is at rest.

In August 2015, The New York Times published an article called, “I’m Not Mad. That’s Just My RBF” in which they explored the sexist implications of the term. Women, in…

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Jim Carrey and the Terrible Search for Fulfillment

Jim Carrey and the Terrible Search for Fulfillment

Every now and again, I think I’ve got all the plates spinning at once. I’ve done enough, and I can be satisfied. I strut down the grocery aisle like it’s a dance floor, giving nods and high-fives to strangers, like Heart’s “Barracuda” is my cool and easy life’s soundtrack.

Then, suddenly, my son pitches a Grade-A Hissy Fit right there in the store because the cereal he wanted five minutes ago is not the cereal he wants now. In the midst of his public hysteria, my phone dings and I see that I’ve received another: “This is great, but not for…

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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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