How to Properly Decode Your Child’s Parent-Teacher Conference (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — It’s fall! Which means the football team you’ve loved since age 8 is being used as ugly political currency, your preferred cereal brands are all issuing pumpkin-themed novelty editions that taste like orange garbage and your children’s schools are contacting you about parent-teacher conferences, those annual events in which teachers take time out of their languid, relaxing lifestyles to schedule some time in which they can be directed by parents to pay more individual attention to their daughter’s snack habits.

Sure, parent-teacher conferences may seem like they exist primarily to make you scramble for child care at 6:45 p.m. on a Wednesday, but it turns out the people raising your kids for seven hours every day do have information they wish to impart. They just can’t do that using their grownup words, because as a rule, parents deeply object to negative commentary about their children, forcing everybody to use strange circular patterns of conversation that only occasionally say what they mean. Here now, a helpful translation to what’s really going on.

“Your child is so full of energy!” = WHAT IN THE NAME OF SKIPPYJON JONES DO YOU FEED YOUR UNGROWN CHILD IN THE MORNINGS? Is there a Skittles cereal? Is he just eating smushed-up gobs of Lucky Charms marshmallows? Your overcaffeinated wombat couldn’t remain stationary if I duct-taped his butt to his tiny chair, which I can’t do because of the “school board,” thanks a lot Obama. Look, I’m not saying ADHD, you’re not saying ADHD, but if you guys haven’t worked out a strategy about such things, it’s probably worth a Google. Meanwhile, tomorrow, for breakfast, TRY SOME FRUIT.

More at The Loop / Golf Digest.

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How Would Your Friends Review You? (via Success)

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Success — It is one of the truths of human nature that we ask for honesty from our friends, family and loved ones, so long as that honesty is unfailingly positive and contains no bad news whatsoever.

We crave attention and revel in approval, seeking it by means both conscious and sneaky. We ask directly (“Is this what you were looking for?”) and solicit passively (“I’m not very good at this, so I hope it’s close to what you’re looking for”). We ask leading questions (“Does this shirt make my stomach look fat?”) and frame our statements to solicit responses (“Ugh, this shirt makes my stomach look fat”). We lightly bait those whose approval we crave (“I’m only buying this shirt if it doesn’t make my stomach look fat”). Be honest, we say, when what we really mean is just tell me I’m OK.

When we’re asked to furnish those honest assessments of a loved one, spouse, colleague, barista, barber or bartender, we make a full stop, our brains flinging themselves through a maze of psychological pulls and snap decisions. Should I be honest with this person? Can I be honest? Will they take my honesty too hard? Will they be hurt?

Feedback, in short, sucks. When it’s bad, we ignore it, push it away or spend hours listing the reasons why it’s illegitimate, biased or unfair. When it’s good, we wrap ourselves tightly in a blanket of it, assured that our self-opinions have been safely validated. It’s a hopelessly tricky thing. So when SUCCESS asked me to submit to a 360-degree feedback review of myself via friends, family and colleagues, I’m pretty sure I said yes without thinking it all the way through.

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No Phones at Concerts? Bob Dylan May Be Onto Something (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

“Stop tweeting already”

 

The Loop / Golf Digest — Bob Dylan did a weird thing at his concert Monday night at the IU Auditorium in Bloomington, Ind. Well, he did a ton of weird things. He did nothing but weird things. He played a mostly spoken-word version of “Tangled Up in Blue,” then warmly growled half-dozen old-timey Sinatra standards from the back of the stage while wearing a white dinner jacket. It was a curious evening, is what I’m saying. We never had this problem at Jimmy Buffett.

But the most weirdest of weird things was that Dylan issued a comprehensive cell phone ban and dispatched a surprisingly remorseless staff of IU sophomore volunteers to enforce it with the militant fire you usually only associate with students smuggling flasks of Mad Dog into football games (which actually doesn’t happen at IU, they’re just happy to have people there). These security people were ON IT. I tried to take a picture of the stage — just the stage, with nobody on it, with the house lights on — and two red-shirted valkyries descended on me like I’d just tried to jack Dylan’s trunk of bolo ties. In short, the ban worked — there was nary a telltale blue light in sight. It was impossibly odd to scan the crowd and see actual blackness, a bracingly strange moment of nostalgia, like being in a restaurant where people are smoking.

Which led us to wonder: Is Bob Dylan onto something?

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Slightly Confused Review: Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples at the IU Auditorium (via Indianapolis Monthly)

Indianapolis Monthly — A longtime Bob Dylan–fan friend of mine recently made this very good point: For all of Dylan’s reputation as an inscrutable recluse, a sly mystery, some mythic brand of unknowable stringy-haired wraith, he’s not that hard to catch.

I don’t have the exact math on this—God save anyone who does—but Dylan is on the road so much that everyone gave up and started calling it the “Never-Ending Tour.” He releases an album maybe every other year; the most recent is a set of three CDs. He’s up to 13 editions of his ample “Bootleg Series,” the latest of which comprises eight discs chronicling his still-not-unweird Christian-flavored “Gospel Tour.” (It accompanies the just-released documentary “Trouble No More,” which features gobs of new footage.) To recap: That’s eight archive CDs for a weird spell that produced two albums that people mostly did not like. And while he’s hardly a cover model or anything, he’s good for a major interview or two every year, which was at one time considered an appropriate amount to hear from famous singers.

Point is, if you’re looking, Dylan is about as hard to find as a bag of Doritos. Armed with this revisionist knowledge, I attended my first Dylan concert in 12 years on Sunday night at the IU Auditorium, and found him … pretty much an inscrutable recluse. The full review at Indianapolis Monthly. 

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A Few Contributions to ‘S is for Southern’ from Garden and Gun

Thrilled have contributed to the gorgeous S is for Southern: A Guide to the South, from Absinthe to Zydeco, from the great people at Garden and Gun. I wrote about Savannah, R.E.M., James Brown, indigo snakes, nicknames, Carl Perkins and others, just not boiled peanuts, because let’s be honest those are very gross.

Buy the book here.

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Still on a Mission: Inside the DOD’s Warrior Games (via Men’s Health)

Photo / Darren Hauck

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Men’s Health — Strength comes in many forms, and they’re all on display at the Warrior Games, an annual event organized by the U.S. Department of Defense for injured service members and veterans. About 250 men and women battle it out in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, swimming, and track and field—for starters. The competition is fiery, the camaraderie intense. It’s about more than winning or never quitting, although the competitors show those qualities. “Combat vets don’t like to get mushy, so we call it brotherhood,” says retired Army Sgt. David Iuli. “But it’s all love.”

See the pictures at Men’s Health.

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There’s One Huge Bright Side to the Cubs’ Shattering NLCS Loss (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

Aw, let’s get you guys some Big League Chew.

 

The Loop — Do you remember, in maybe third or fourth grade, when you’d be hanging out on the merry-go-round/climbing wall/tire swing at the playground, minding your own business, talking about baseball cards or fishing lures or four square or whatever, and some larger, meatier bullies from the eighth grade would materialize out of nowhere, claim the place for themselves and their Anthrax shirts and shove you and your friends right into the cut-up tire shavings?

That’s about what this NLCS felt like to us Cubs fans, although we felt maybe less like third graders and more like kindergarteners who were like just, “Hey, we’re just trying to drink our chocolate milk here, WHY ARE YOU GUYS BEING SO MEAN?” The Cubs got pulverized, manhandled, sucker-punched, then lifted up by their hair and sucker-punched again. Do you remember the WWF’s old Saturday morning shows, where wrestlers you’d heard of would wail on pathetic jobbers like Steve Lombardi? Yeah. This is a Cubs team that rallied for a glittering second half to win the NL Central — and, may I remind you, mostly the group that won a World Series last year — and they put up a prime-time ride-or-die series that resembled the bulk of my Little League career. I can only imagine, and I know this is silly, that somewhere Kris Bryant’s mom is taking him to Ivanhoe’s for a double chocolate milkshake. (Kris, if you’re reading, seriously it helps.)

The upside to that horrible loss. 

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Why Your Children Can’t Stop Watching Other Obnoxious Children Play Video Games on YouTube (via the Washington Post)

VenturianTale, I guess?

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — When I was 12 or 13, I busied myself with a range of pursuits, from the dumb to the very dumb to the hugely and galactically dumb. Every month, I purchased a new issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I memorized the entirety of Young MC’s debut album, which contained “Bust a Move” and 12 songs that weren’t “Bust a Move.” I got really, really into  “Dr. Mario” (but I stand by that one, as over time I became startlingly good at it).

When you’re in those weird culturally formative years, you explore a lot of weird culturally formative options. So I understand that it is a middle-aged cliche to say that my kids’ penchant for watching videos of bothersome millennials playing video games on YouTube is a remarkably idiotic waste of time.

There is a monster cottage industry of millennials who record themselves playing video games, and my boys, ages 13 and 6, have plunged into it. Mild-mannered on most days, my children, when presented with these videos, spot-mutate into glassy-eyed replicants who draw the shades, hide under blankets and watch as many as they can before I dramatically stomp in and do my impression of the dad at the beginning of that Twisted Sister video.

Here’s why, maybe.

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This is Definitely Not a Review of ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ (via Backstreets)

Backstreets — We’re bound by decades of theater-media tradition not to review Springsteen on Broadway while it’s in previews, making the October 5 performance I was lucky enough to witness off-limits for setlists, spoilers or critical interpretation.

For instance, I can’t say “Holy (redacted)-ing (redacted)”; I can’t tell you how many times my hair stood on end, how many tears fell, or how many times I had to stuff a Playbill in mouth to stop from screaming “HE’S PLAYING (REDACTED) ON (BLANK)” and getting booted right into Dear Evan Hansen. On the other hand, for hours after after I left the Walter Kerr, the best I could come up with is “Gah,” and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t need to be redacted.

So instead of reviewing a show I can’t review, or listing a setlist I can’t list, I’ll instead share these few key pieces of safe, functional, non-review information for those Backstreets readers who may consider attending Springsteen on Broadway.

Can I bring a backpack?
The nice people at Jujamcyn Theaters, which is a word I cannot say (every time I try, it comes out “calvary”), ask in a pre-show email to “Please avoid bringing large bags or backpacks” and later to “Please refrain from bringing large bags and backpacks.” As you may have determined, these are less “hard restrictions” and more “polite requests.” I brought in a backpack containing a portable charger, a notebook, my wife’s backup shoes and a bag of airline almonds I’d totally forgotten about. But the seats are a tight enough squeeze that Jujamcyn probably has the right idea.

The answers to all your burning questions here. 

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The ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Trailer: Fine, You Win, Porgs (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

I am all in on these guys

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Rejoice with me, Internet, for this day we can stop stocking the panic room with Spam and Pop-Tarts and briefly pause from remembering that Hollywood is apparently filled with fat entitled sex offenders BECAUSE THE “STAR WARS” TRAILER DROPPED LAST NIGHT, during a piping hot matchup between the (shuffles papers) 2-2 Vikings and 1-3 Bears? God, no wonder Disney jammed space movie news into football. (That massive low rumble you heard at 10:03 p.m. was everyone changing the channel.)

The release of any “Star Wars” trailer causes all fans to ignite their lightsabers in glee and most of them to spend the next day online. So let’s go through the trailer, piece by piece, and see if we can ruin some surprises for when the movie arrives on Dec. 15.

 

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