Celebrity
Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

Andy Bernard to Give Graduation Speech at Cornell University … Ever Heard of It?

It has been a Mockingbird tradition to highlight worthy graduation speeches amidst the vast sea of snoozers. As the spring commencement season approaches, I want to point out that Ed Helms, the actor who played Andy Bernard on The Office, will be giving a speech at Cornell University’s graduation on May 24. This is noteworthy because Andy Bernard, the sycophantic airhead with anger-management issues, always brags about how he went to Cornell (’93). “Ever heard of it?”

Helm’s upcoming speech is bound to go at least semi-viral just by his showing up at Cornell. But it’s even more likely to go viral…

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Alone with Oprah: Lindsay Lohan and Public Recidivism

Alone with Oprah: Lindsay Lohan and Public Recidivism

I can’t explain why I started watching Oprah Winfrey’s network documentary series about Lindsay Lohan, simply called “Lindsay.” We lived in Manhattan when her infamous Marilyn Monroe-esque photos were published by New York Magazine. There was something about Lindsay juxtaposing herself with such a tragic and talented figure that made her surprisingly interesting. But honestly, the subsequent jail time, trips to drug rehab, and tabloid partying lifestyle made me sort of numb to caring. And then Oprah decided to make her life a pet project. And I was compelled to tune in.

The series begins on a note of hopeful promise….

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Ron Lester Has the (Varsity) Blues

Ron Lester Has the (Varsity) Blues

Palm Sunday is an annual reminder that what goes up must come down. As if we needed reminding.

Remember Varsity Blues? Honestly, I don’t. I never saw the movie. But it was a huge success at the box office, and, as a Friday Night Lights knockoff, it really couldn’t miss, especially since it starred Paul Walker, James van der Beek, Ali Larter, and Scott Caan. The most unforgettable performance, though, (I’m told) came from one Ron Lester, who played the enormous offensive tackle, Billy Bob.

At the time Varsity Blues was filmed, Lester weighed close to 500 pounds, which, combined with his…

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Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

Another Week Ends: Normcore, Eterni.me, Colbert’s Late Show Prospects, Post-Grad Advice, and “I Love You, Buts”

Real quick before we get going: Conference recordings should be up early next week! Videos will roll out gradually after that. Also, we’ve pulled Eden and Afterward to make some final changes. Look for a release announcement in the next ten days.

1) Even getting out of the game is part of the game, now. In fact, it is the game de rigueur. If you thought you weren’t in a fashion trend, if you didn’t know a group existed for people who were actually dressed just like most people, now there is, and you are, and it is the innest…

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Bono Talks Jesus on The Meaning of Life

This is a clip from a longer interview on The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne, an Irish program on RTÉ Television (ht, AP). Much of what Bono says here overlaps portions of the book Bono: In Conversation With Michka Assayas that we’ve highlighted in the past. Bono seems to be in something of a league of his own as such a huge rockstar who is so open with his (solid) Christian faith, and he is articulate about it to boot. Watch the whole interview here.

By the way, did you happen to catch the amazing/dizzying U2 performance of “Invisible” on the roof of 30 Rock on the premier episode of The Tonight Show Staring Jimmy Fallon? Their acoustic set of “Ordinary Love” was pretty mesmerizing, too. Some worthy lyrics here:

‘Cause we can’t fall any further
If we can’t feel ordinary love
And we cannot reach any higher
If we can’t deal with ordinary love

Are we tough enough
For ordinary love

The Curated Life of Gwyneth Paltrow

The Curated Life of Gwyneth Paltrow

People really hate Gwyneth Paltrow. Last year, Star magazine named her one of “Hollywood’s Most Hated Stars.” But, that same week, she was also named the “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” by People Magazine.

That juxtaposition confused Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, presumably because he prizes beauty above all else. But, to the non-beautiful, the juxtaposition isn’t all that difficult to explain: People hate Gwyneth in part because she is beautiful.

Apparently there are other reasons to hate Gwyneth. Indeed, Vanity Fair commissioned an article exploring the reasons why people hate Gwyneth, reasons that Carter summarized well in this paragraph:

Half the female…

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Another Week Ends: Secret Auden, Eagleton Deicide, Remembering Wes, Method Acting, True Detective, and Russian Tourist Tips

Another Week Ends: Secret Auden, Eagleton Deicide, Remembering Wes, Method Acting, True Detective, and Russian Tourist Tips

1. Holy smokes! Have you read Edward Mendelson’s “The Secret Auden” in the NY Review of Books?! If not, run don’t walk. It’s a jaw-dropping, incredibly inspiring catalog of the clandestine episodes of grace initiated by our all-time favorite Wystan–about as honest a Matthew 6:5 vibe as I’ve come across in ages. Lest these remarkable stories be dismissed as mere hagiography, Mendelson (author of the indispensable Later Auden) doesn’t lionize the great poet, instead tracing the ‘good works’ back to their root–which is not a sense of earning or credit (clearly) but of genuine humility brought on by piercing self-knowledge….

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First Issue of The Mockingbird Now Available!!

The first issue of The Mockingbird, our brand new quarterly magazine, is in the mail! If you signed up for our mailing list, you should have one coming to you, free of charge. If haven’t, sign up before March 1st and we’ll happily send you one. If you want to subscribe, look no further than magazine.mbird.com. (Remember, Mockingbird’s monthly donors receive a free subscription!)

In the meantime, here’s the line-up for our maiden voyage.

photo1Paging Doctor Presley: Thoughts on the Healing Hands of King Mockingbird by David Zahl

The Real Real Orange County: Looking Back on MTV’s Laguna Beach by Dan Varley

There Is Nothing the Matter with My Heart: Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim and My Myth of Me by Zach Williams

For the Record: Mockingbird’s Netflix Queue, Must-Hear TED Talks, A Kurosawa Primer, Top 5 Church Debates, and an Elvis Gospel Playlist

Transformational: The Hidden Spirituality of America’s Great Movement by Ethan Richardson

“Friends Don’t Get Serious”: John Cassavetes, James Baldwin and Tall Tales of Angry Men by Charlotte Hornsby

When a Measure Becomes a Target: Inside the Economics of Repentance by Will McDavid

A New Way to Tell It: An Interview with Francis Spufford (click here for a preview)

A Vision for the Storms by Blake Ian Collier

Coming to Terms with the American Hero Fix by Sarah Condon

Dying to Live: What Are the Side Effects of the Modern Hospital? by R-J Heijmen

Go to magazine.mbird.com to subscribe!

I Can’t Be Your Hero, Baby

I Can’t Be Your Hero, Baby

This comes from Stephanie Phillips:

Weekday, early morning. I hoist my two-year-old son into his booster seat, scatter some Cheerios over his tray, flip on the Today show. As I wait for the coffee to brew, I notice that the lead news story concerns Justin Bieber’s latest run-in with the law. The camera pans across a sea of teenage girls holding up signs of support as Justin is escorted out of prison.

I think, This is the top story? And where are their parents? I glance over at my son, who stuffs cereal into his face as he stares at the screen….

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A Brief Reflection on Philip Seymour Hoffman

A Brief Reflection on Philip Seymour Hoffman

The first time I realized Philip Seymour Hoffman was astonishing was when I saw the movie Magnolia. In it he plays the character of a nurse named Phil Parma. Phil has been charged with caring for an elderly man dying of brain cancer. As is the case with so many nurses, Phil goes far beyond the call of duty, and attempts to connect the dying man with his prodigal son. It is a beautiful movie about the desperate pain and honesty of the human condition. And it seems appropriate that in remembering the life of Philip Seymour Hoffman, I think of this compassionate character first.

I suppose the second…

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Another Week Ends: Reciprocal Favors, Atheism’s Biggest Challenge, The New Yorker Profiles Francis I, Declining WASPs, Social Media Christmas Cards, Ascendant Meritocracies, and Simon Pegg

Another Week Ends: Reciprocal Favors, Atheism’s Biggest Challenge, The New Yorker Profiles Francis I, Declining WASPs, Social Media Christmas Cards, Ascendant Meritocracies, and Simon Pegg

1. New Year’s Resolutions: we’ve said about all we’re going to say concerning a yearly ritual of personal bootstrapping, but some great articles this year from Tullian Tchividjian (on the spiritual side of things), from Woody Guthrie’s Sermon-on-the-Mount-standard life guide (pictured below), and finally, a wonderful Quartz article about how to make resolutions you can keep. After long study, they basically reverse-engineered the historically Christian approach to behavior change, from one perspective:

Losing weight, drinking less alcohol, and spending more time with family tend to top New Year’s resolution lists—but they are also among the most commonly broken resolutions. Although about 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% of us manage to achieve these goals…

I have…

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Another Week Ends: Francis I and God as Love, Llewyn Davis Is a Failure, More Brene Brown, Questing Against the Wind, the Horror of Breakfast Meetings, Christmas Is Alright, and the Death of the Funeral

Another Week Ends: Francis I and God as Love, Llewyn Davis Is a Failure, More Brene Brown, Questing Against the Wind, the Horror of Breakfast Meetings, Christmas Is Alright, and the Death of the Funeral

1. Reflections on Pope Francis continue, with the increasingly-familiar tension between acclamation for the Pope’s compassionate, grace-focused tone and suspicion, from another camp, concerning his lack of doctrinal rigidity. Enter Rod Dreher, the prolific ex-Catholic writer, who published a while back in Time an essay saying the following:

I fear his merciful words will be received not as love but license. The “spirit of Pope Francis” will replace the “spirit of Vatican II” as the rationalization people will use to ignore the difficult teachings of the faith. If so, this Pope will turn out to be like his predecessor John XXIII: a dear man,…

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5 Golden Themes (Again)! What We Loved (and Loved to Analyze) in 2013

5 Golden Themes (Again)! What We Loved (and Loved to Analyze) in 2013

Well, well, well. Here we go again, 2013 edition.

1) The Religion of Food. Well, as we might have said last year, and the year before that, it seems the foodie is here to stay. Of particular interest this year was the spirituality of food–things like Jay Z and Beyonce joining arms with the 22 Day Challenge. Jay Z pledges: “Why now? There’s something spiritual to me about it being my 44th birthday and the serendipity behind the number of days in this challenge; 22 (2+2=4) coupled with the fact that the challenge ends on Christmas day…It just feels right!” This…

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Another Week Ends: Helicopter Parents, Love (Not Actually), Llewyn Davis, Joe Jonas, the Inner-Hamlet, and Why?

Another Week Ends: Helicopter Parents, Love (Not Actually), Llewyn Davis, Joe Jonas, the Inner-Hamlet, and Why?

1) A week past Black Friday, we’re well into the holiday shopping and the family travel bargaining, and so it’s no surprise that this is also when we find a slew of family sociology on the internet. Exhibit A: Slate’s piece on the Millennial Anxiety and the Helicopter Parent. In it, therapist Brooke Donatone explains that soaring rates of college- and post-graduate-aged depression and suicide, as well as the more general epidemic of “adultescent” anxiety, has a lot to do with conflict-fear, and the 20-something’s unpreparedness for disappointment and failure. Over-parenting is the cause of these “crash landings” to the…

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Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

Another Week Ends: Flannery Prays, Calvin Outsells Luther, More ‘Millenials’-ism, Next-Next-Gen Gaming Consoles (PSILOVU), Backfiring Discipline, Zombie Impressionism and Noah: The Movie

1. Well, we knew about Mary Flannery’s early life of training chickens to walk backward (1932); it appears that God marked O’Connor out as different from pretty early on. We remember the short stories of violent grace and brilliant essays, and we even got to read some excerpts from her year-and-a-half-long prayer journal (written while still studying for her MFA at Iowa) in September. Well, three days ago the full work was released, edited by her friend William Sessions, and The New Yorker posted a great review/primer for anyone interested in fiction, O’Connor, prayer, the South, grad school, wooden legs, etc:

She reckoned that her success…

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