Identity

My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

My Way is a “Crap Song”: Reflections on Regret

Say what? I was out for a jog this week and I had to stop, take out my earbuds to squeegee out my ears with my fingers, hit rewind, and hear that again. Did Ira Glass just disparage Frank Sinatra? Ira Glass is the creator and executive producer of NPR’s weekly podcast “This American Life”. I was made privy to this can’t-miss weekly series by this Mockingbird post a while back, and I’ve been riveted every week since.

Each week’s podcast features 3 segments of real life Americana stories that are centered on a basic (and usually innocuous) theme. The December…

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A Skeptic of the Transformation Enterprise

A Skeptic of the Transformation Enterprise

Good News for the weary Advent Amazon shopper. An amazing bit from Phillip Cary’s Good News for Anxious Christians, which I am unashamedly speed-reading this Advent. Consumerist? No way! Cary here is talking about the false, consumerist focus on change, and how that focus has bled into the way we think about our very souls. Rather than helping us see that our lives should not be about us, Cary says this kind of transformation-trance makes us incapable of thinking about anything but. Our attention deficit leads us perpetually into the trap of correcting the selves that Christ came to transform.

Ever…

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Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Four and a half months ago, Charlottesville, VA was named the happiest city in America. As the happiest blogger in the happiest city, I feel like I should do some commenting.

In the original paper for the happiness study, the researchers are careful to note that they’re measuring only “self-reported” happiness, a qualifier lost in some of the news outlets which reported it. To oversimplify things, we could view one’s self-reported level of happiness as consisting of three factors: (1) happiness itself, (2) pressures to lie on the survey, and (3) self-deception about perceived happiness. Since the survey was anonymous and Sandford,…

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Chris Rock Deconstructs Our Very Serious Commitments

Chris Rock Deconstructs Our Very Serious Commitments

Looking through Andrew Sullivan’s blog The Dish yesterday, I came across a pretty interesting two-part post on comedy. The first quoted a Chris Rock interview from Vulture, in which he talks about not playing colleges:

Q: You recently hosted Saturday Night Live, and in the monologue, where you were talking about the opening of One World Trade, my wife and I both felt just like you: No way are we going into that building. But you look online the next morning, and some people were offended and accused you of disparaging the 9/11 victims. The political correctness that was thought to be dead is now—

A: Oh,…

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Considering “Our Mommy Problem”

Considering “Our Mommy Problem”

A few weekends ago I traveled to South Carolina to spend a long weekend with six of my closest college friends. Between the seven of us, we left eleven children behind to be cared for by some combination of dads, grandparents and babysitters. The trip was incredibly restful. Even more restful than the naps, the clean home, or the leisurely cups of coffee every morning was the experience of being with a group of people who don’t identify me as or relate to me as my children’s mother. My college friends are scattered coast to coast, and we have never…

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HBO’s State of Play, Season Two, Episode One – The Science of Happiness

HBO’s State of Play, Season Two, Episode One – The Science of Happiness

Mockingbird favorite Peter Berg (creator, NBC’s Friday Night Lights series, co-creator HBO’s The Leftovers) is back with another season of State of Play.  This season will be a four-part documentary series that goes behind the scenes of the “football life”. In episode one, “Happiness”, Berg features three prominent NFL players and how they have struggled to find happiness after their professional football careers. Berg also interviews a number of high profile psychologists who break down the “science” of happiness.

Berg’s results are mixed. Happiness in a post-NFL life is achieved (according to Berg’s panel of professionals) by finding a combination of…

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Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

Lonely Ladies and Distracted Dudes: A Few Thoughts on Romantic (and Sexual) Illusion

There’s a line toward the beginning of Whit Stillman’s Barcelona (above – 2:15 mark) where the protagonist, Ted Boynton, admits to having “a real romantic illusion problem”. He is frustrated that he seems to fall for women based almost exclusively on physical appearance, when what he really wants is “to see the real person, maybe even look into her eyes and see her soul.” He says these words with a completely straight face, and his cousin Fred responds incredulously. It’s a funny interchange, not the least because Ted sounds convinced that this phenomenon, of sexual attraction overwhelming better judgment, is peculiar to him…

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Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash: A Parable of Stifling Perfection

[Mild spoilers follow.] As a writer, I’ve found, you’re always searching for material. A friend’s talking to you about a bad breakup, years of religious doubt and self-recrimination for doubting, a car wreck, DUI, or lost job. Suddenly, once an insight seems to hit you – or even a situation with a certain intellectual appeal – the ideas become all, and their textures, contexts, and the unfortunate people living in them become pared back, leaving you with what feels like the beginnings of a great article, essay, even poem. The real world fades away, and all you’re left with, all you…

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The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

The Trivial Pursuits of Lena Dunham

In one of the final chapters of Lena Dunham’s new memoir Not That Kind of Girl, entitled “Therapy & Me”, Lena describes her first anxiety-ridden experience of sitting down as a germophobic, obsessive-compulsive nine-year-old with a prospective shrink. It is a “quirky, self-destructive Lena” moment, like so many moments in her book, and her show Girls, and so it would be nearly unremarkable if it weren’t for the subtext:

The first doctor, a violet-haired grandma-aged woman with a German surname, asks me a few simple questions and then invites me to play with the toys scattered across her floor. She sits…

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Unredeemable Art and Wise Words From Madeleine L’Engle

Unredeemable Art and Wise Words From Madeleine L’Engle

When it comes to favorite art, I have an ever-growing list of guilty pleasures, a term which usually refers to some kind of light-hearted or even redeemable creation: Unfortunately, here, I’m not going to write about redemption in Taylor Swift’s new album (“It’s fun though…”). I’m more interested in the less redeemable batch, even art that remains thoroughly, maybe explicitly, un-Christian. Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, for example, traces the loss of religion in a young man’s life but simultaneously remains truthful and affecting. Or, let’s talk about James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, which authentically details…

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Sinner and Saint Vincent

Sinner and Saint Vincent

St. Vincent arrived in theaters just in time for All Saints’ Sunday, the day the church recognizes and remembers those in the parish community who have died, and all the other “saints” that went before them. It is not a coincidence; first-time director Ted Melfi must have known what was on the church calendar in some regard, given the assignment that’s handed out by Brother Geraghty (Chris O’Dowd), to his middle school class. The assignment is this: to find out about and present on a living saint in the community—not Athanasius, not Mother Teresa, not even Pope Francis—but a “saint…

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The Hospitality Sting: We Are All the Least of These

The Hospitality Sting: We Are All the Least of These

In yet another one my “live your best life” moments, I started a new scripture study on hospitality last week. As a Mississippian, I was raised to smile broadly at people I find tiresome and to entertain with the latest Jr. League Cookbook. You know, life skills. So, I thought it would be good to study the Good Book in the hopes of making my hospitality mean something. As so often happens, God had other plans.

I casually mentioned this hospitality scripture study to one of my closest friends, “You should totally do it,” I told her. Only retrospectively am I…

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