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

Everyone 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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Steph vs. Lebron: An NBA Finals Preview

Steph vs. Lebron: An NBA Finals Preview

I’ve lived in Atlanta for the last 24 years, but all of my formative years were spent in San Francisco and Ohio.   So I’m vested in and looking forward to the Warriors/Cavaliers match up for the NBA Championship, beginning this week.  It stung a bit that the Cavs literally squashed our Atlanta Hawks en route to the Finals, but even I couldn’t deny that Lebron and company not only were the better team, but also seem to have a destiny about them.  Meanwhile, out in Oakland, the Warriors don’t look like they have a weakness, and they definitely appear to…

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Folding (Dirty) Laundry with the Duggars

Folding (Dirty) Laundry with the Duggars

I have seen most episodes of the Duggar family’s 21 Kids and Counting. It is one of those odd reality TV shows that offers very little in the way of drama. And when something compelling happens, it is usually happy news like the birth of a child or a visit to the Today Show. Unlike my beloved Housewives franchise, 21 Kids and Counting doesn’t have any yelling or table flipping. It has been an easy show to watch while folding laundry.

But there’s something deeper than just its relative tranquility. I have always admired the Duggar family’s structure for righteousness. In…

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Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Each year I make a hobby during graduation season (May/June) of paying attention to college commencement speeches. We’ve covered quite a few here on Mbird over the years. It’s a rhetorical phenomenon that sheds light on philosophies of the world that are either long on law or lame optimism about human potential: Look inside yourself, follow your heart, failure is just a stepping stone to future success. Oh, the places you’ll go! These are some of the many cliches that are repeated year after year. They’re also often insufferably boring.

Yet, it seems each season a glimmer of hope breaks through the the cracks from…

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Tom Brady vs. Gaylord Perry – On Doctoring Balls to Gain an Advantage, and Lying About It

Tom Brady vs. Gaylord Perry – On Doctoring Balls to Gain an Advantage, and Lying About It

Over the past few days, I’ve kept wondering if Tom Brady secretly stole Pentagon documents – the sin appears to be THAT egregious.  Scandal, thy new name (apparently) is “Deflate-Gate”.  ESPN and sports talk radio have been covering the New England Patriot ball deflation scandal on continuous loop. The story, which first broke in the weeks prior to this year’s Super Bowl, is that the Patriots’ equipment staff (per Brady’s orders) stuck needles in the team issued footballs and took the air pressure below NFL mandated levels before the 2015 AFC Patriots-Colts Championship Game. The suspicion was originally raised by…

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A Life of Aching Beauty: Vincent van Gogh as Preacher, Failure, and Painter

A Life of Aching Beauty: Vincent van Gogh as Preacher, Failure, and Painter

Originally posted on Tides of God.

PART I: FALL

Undergrowth with Two Figures is the only Van Gogh painting I have seen in real life. Several times my wife and I have sought it out on visits to the Cincinnati Art Museum. It is not one of Van Gogh’s well-known paintings. The work was completed during his almost manic period of productivity from May to July 1890 when Vincent turned out nearly one hundred paintings and drawings in the last seventy days of his life. Undergrowth with Two Figures is an island of peace in sea of turmoil. Van Gogh biographer Philip…

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Ethan Hawke on Acting Out the Death of Self

Ethan Hawke on Acting Out the Death of Self

The tenable success of independent films in an industry dominated by major Hollywood productions has become a hot topic as the 87th Academy Awards make their approach. The pulse of this conversation exists entirely because of two names: Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater. With six Oscar nominations between the two of them just this year, and eleven all time, Anderson and Linklater have become the godfathers of the indie family, maturing the clan into planet Hollywood’s lunar necessity.

The praise is proper, but not necessarily sought; at least not in the same way that, say, George Lucas sought success after 1977. Setting up…

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On Stages and Sincerity

On Stages and Sincerity

I have always beheld celebrity culture with a varying mixture of admiration and disdain, and both of those reactions are kicked into high gear during January and February, or what the industry regards as the culmination of awards season.

Just as the divinely-drenched (or -devoid, depending on preference) holiday weeks come to an end, Hollywood begins a series of convocations at hotels, theaters, and convention centers (and one attempt at beach-swept nonchalance) aimed at recognizing and rewarding the creative entities behind film and television. In other words, they congratulate themselves for all they’ve accomplished over the past year, and we common…

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