Posts tagged "The Muppets"

Another Week Ends: One Way Love, Platonic Tennis, Curmudgeon Law, Downton Anti-Snobbery, Ecumenical Shipwrecks, Dr. Hook, House of Cards and Justified

Another Week Ends: One Way Love, Platonic Tennis, Curmudgeon Law, Downton Anti-Snobbery, Ecumenical Shipwrecks, Dr. Hook, House of Cards and Justified

1. The hits just keep on coming. Spring Conference speaker and friend Tullian Tchividjian announced his next book this morning and the title will be familiar to some of you, One Way Love: The Power of Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. Tullian, of course, is paying tribute to the definition of grace that PZ coined in Grace In Practice. If the rest of the book is at all like the intro (and I have a strong feeling that it is, wink wink), then this is something to be very excited about:

The good news of God’s inexhaustible grace for…

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Another Year Ends: Evangelical Decline, more Les Mis, Tebow Absurdity, Anxious Parents, The Hobbit, Apatow in Crisis, Millenial Affirmations and A Muppet Family Christmas

Another Year Ends: Evangelical Decline, more Les Mis, Tebow Absurdity, Anxious Parents, The Hobbit, Apatow in Crisis, Millenial Affirmations and A Muppet Family Christmas

1. An uncommonly insightful piece by John Dickerson appeared in The NY Times about “The Decline of Evangelical America.” Writing as an evangelical himself, Dickerson recites some jarring statistics before launching into a sympathetic and genuinely hopeful conclusion, ht SZ:

In 2007, the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, in a survey of 1,300 college professors, found that 3 percent held “unfavorable feelings” toward Jews, 22 percent toward Muslims and 53 percent toward evangelical Christians…

The core evangelical belief is that love and forgiveness are freely available to all who trust in Jesus Christ. This is the “good news” from which the…

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The Mouse Knows What You Want: Disney Marketing and the Celebration of Self

The Mouse Knows What You Want: Disney Marketing and the Celebration of Self

It’s no great revelation that Disney is a for-profit corporation with targeted marketing strategies. In fact, of all the corporations marketing to children (or the child within us), Disney has the most targeted marketing I’ve ever seen.

From my vantage point, this is what Disney marketing does so well: it takes everything that we as individuals do in order to protect our fragile egos–the constant self-justification, the universal quest for a manageable identity, the inevitable scorekeeping a la the Birmingham Mockingbird Conference–and then aims Disney products at that place inside all of us.

We see this in the standard Disney movie formula,…

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Waning Thoughts on the Waning Year

Waning Thoughts on the Waning Year

As if you haven’t read enough year-end lists, I offer you a few thoughts.

Best personal experience:  Adding the fourth member of Team Stokes, Lucy Carpenter, who arrived on the ubiquitous date of November 11, 2011.  Gentleman beware:  She will be reared on a steady diet of Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson, and I’m giving her a copy of Joni Mitchell’s Blue when she turns fourteen.

Best live show:  Like most who are married with children, I don’t get out nearly as much as I’d like.  This year I was fortunate to a handful of live performances, and a few really stood…

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American Nones and a New Way of Being Religious?

American Nones and a New Way of Being Religious?

Every once and a while, someone comes along and, without any clue that they’re doing so, articulates exactly what it is you’re trying to do with your life in a way that both focuses and reignites your excitement. Eric Weiner’s column in last weekend’s NY Times, “Americans and God,” was such an instance for me. Weiner is concerned with the rapidly growing religious demographic known as the Nones, the group of primarily younger folks in this country who may believe in God but are uncomfortable affiliating with an organized religion. The two main reasons he cites are the political ramifications…

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Another Week Ends: Generous Marriages, Creative Cheaters, Converted Grinches, Tebow Haters, Twilight Zone Xmases, Gracious Police and Walter

Another Week Ends: Generous Marriages, Creative Cheaters, Converted Grinches, Tebow Haters, Twilight Zone Xmases, Gracious Police and Walter

1. Some new research on the importance of generosity in marriage and relationships has been making the rounds this week, and the soundbites are amusing in their captain-obvious-ness. Generosity here being very close to what we would call grace, and the relational dynamic it characterizes being one that by and large does away with scorekeeping, exposing egalitarian notions of the 50-50 split as the recipe for resentment that they often are (100-100 being the happier and, ironically, less legalistic ideal). The research also implicitly condemns models of relating based on self-fulfillment rather than self-sacrifice. Go figure! Of course, knowing what’s…

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A Frog, a Bear, and a Pig Walk into a Bar: The Gracious Absurdism of Jim Henson and The Muppets

A Frog, a Bear, and a Pig Walk into a Bar: The Gracious Absurdism of Jim Henson and The Muppets

Pixar, Peanuts and now The Muppets – I guess it must be inner child week on Mockingbird! Christianity Today put up the full-length version yours truly’s “The Gospel According to Jim Henson” today, a truncated form of which appeared in the November 2011 issue of the print magazine. I’ve reproduced a few excerpts below. Wakka Wakka Wakka:

Why the Muppets and why now? Aren’t they irrelevant cultural relics? Never mind the fact that they represent the vanguard of “family entertainment”—child-friendly entertainment that neither excludes nor talks down to adults, nor resorts to lewd cynicism. In other words, intelligently wholesome media. Never…

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Another Week Ends: King of Human Error, Open-Ended AA, Hollywood Junkies, Trollhunter, Craig Finn, Community and Muppets

Another Week Ends: King of Human Error, Open-Ended AA, Hollywood Junkies, Trollhunter, Craig Finn, Community and Muppets

1. Irrepressible Moneyball author Michael Lewis profiled new Mbird fave Daniel Kahneman for Vanity Fair in his recent piece, “The King of Human Error,” providing perhaps the clearest and best overview of the great social psychologist’s research yet. The anchoring effect makes for a particularly terrific addition to our ongoing catalog of human fallibility. But it’s the humility of the man himself which makes the deepest impression:

[Kahenman and his partner Amos Tversky] had a rule of thumb, [Kahneman] explains: they would study no specific example of human idiocy or irrationality unless they first detected it in themselves. “People thought we…

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Another Week Ends: Marriage Markets, Foxhole Religion, Reconsidering Jobs, Breaking Bad, The Strokes, Psychopathic Day Traders, Innovation Starvation and The Muppets

Another Week Ends: Marriage Markets, Foxhole Religion, Reconsidering Jobs, Breaking Bad, The Strokes, Psychopathic Day Traders, Innovation Starvation and The Muppets

1. The cover story in this month’s issue of The Atlantic is making some waves, “All The Single Ladies,” in which writer Katie Bolick looks into how the recession is effecting the “marriage market.” Something of an unintentional follow-up to yesterday’s piece on Parenthood, Bolick maintains that the explosion of male joblessness and corresponding ascent of females in pretty much all areas of conventional achievement has made it considerably more difficult for young women to find an appropriate spouse. Again, I’m not positive this isn’t simply some fashionable angle right now, but to the extent that this has to do…

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September Playlist

  1. Big Sky – The Kinks
  2. Song of a Baker – Screaming Trees
  3. Back to the Lake – Guided By Voices
  4. Enjoy the Silence – Nada Surf
  5. You Were So Warm – The Dwight Twilley Band
  6. Warm Self Sacrifice – Emitt Rhodes
  7. Strangers Getting Stranger – Dawes
  8. Maidstone – Squeeze
  9. I’ll Cry Alone – The Flamin’ Groovies
  10. I Found a Reason [demo] – The Velvet Underground
  11. Black Star – Gillian Welch
  12. The Death of You and Me – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
  13. My Mistakes Were Made For You – The Last Shadow Puppets
  14. You Put Something Better Inside Me – Rod Stewart
  15. Heavy Church – Three Dog Night
  16. A Quick One, While He’s Away [live]The Who
  17. The Postcard – Stephen Duffy
  18. Rainbow Connection – Willie Nelson


Three Dog Night Need You Playin’ in the Heavy Church

Three Dog Night Need You Playin’ in the Heavy Church

Wouldn’t it be something if Mockingbird could kick off a Three Dog Night revival?! These guys may not have written their own songs (neither did you-know-who), but boy could they pick ‘em. And they had quite the, you know, joyful sound. Some call it blue-eyed soul, some call it early 70s top-40 radio, I call it some kind of wonderful. And not just because they were partly shepherded into being by one Brian Wilson – though it certainly doesn’t hurt. The other connection that’s close to my heart is… The Muppets. That’s right. Paul Williams, who wrote the immortal score…

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Another Week Ends: Damsels in Distress, Religious DNA, AA & Romans 7, Brain Shrinkage, Jim Henson, Fountains of Wayne, and Pirate Autopsies

Another Week Ends: Damsels in Distress, Religious DNA, AA & Romans 7, Brain Shrinkage, Jim Henson, Fountains of Wayne, and Pirate Autopsies

1. A lot has happened in the world this past week. And it’s probably an indictment that the piece of news that I’ve been most focused on is the announcement that Whit Stillman’s long, long-awaited new film Violet Wister’s Damsels in Distress will close the Venice Film Festival in September. The first stills from the movie has also hit the net – see below – so the countdown has begun! I’d wager we’ll be seeing a trailer before Kate Preston’s annual Sag Harbor Labor Party.

Anyone want to spring for a plane ticket so I can cover the event in person?…

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