Category Archives: Feature Articles

HGTV’s Two Chicks and a Hammer Nail Down a Second Season of ‘Good Bones’ (via Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly — There are a lot of ways to destroy a chimney—and most of them are satisfying—but Mina Hawk (née Starsiak) says you’re really only supposed to stick with one. “A brick at a time,” says Mina, over coffee/La Croix at Calvin Fletcher’s coffee shop in Fletcher Place. “We allllll went to college. We allllll understand gravity.”

But during a recent day of shooting the second season of Good Bones, the HGTV home-renovation show she headlines with her mother, Karen E Laine, Mina suddenly found herself dealing with a second, considerably more dramatic method. “Spoiler alert,” says Mina, sounding as if she’s still trying to convince herself she saw this. “Tad just pushes it over.”

Tad is Mina’s college-aged little brother and the guy in charge of the Good Bonesdemolition crew. Tad’s gift is for breaking things. But here, Tad has made what Mina clearly regards as a questionable decision. “Tad is on the roof, sees the chimney wobbling, and pushes it over. It goes straight through the roof. Huuuuuge hole,” says Mina, sounding either scolding or impressed; I can’t actually tell which. For her part, Karen is more delighted. “We were all like, ‘That was really cool! But shit!’”

This is more or less a standard afternoon on the set of Good Bones, currently shooting a second season that premieres in May. Good Bones differs from many home-renovation shows in two key departments: 1. Significant increase in angry falling towers of brick, and 2. Mina and Karen handle nearly everything themselves.

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Tastes Like Burning: The Never-Ending Quest to Breed and Consume the World’s Hottest Pepper (via GQ)

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GQ — Late last year, the former guitarist for Guns N’ Roses propped up his camera phone, pressed the record button, produced a cherry-red coffin-shaped box and put its contents directly in his mouth.

The box contained a tortilla chip—one single chip—made from the dust of the Carolina Reaper, the hottest pepper on Earth, designed solely to obliterate the senses.  In the video, the guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, places the shard of fire on his tongue as his wife of 27 years, Jen, does the same. Incredibly, Jen smiles. Bumblefoot, meanwhile, looks like somebody hit self-destruct on his face.

“If you like pain, you’re gonna like this,” he says, through breaths that grow increasingly panting. “It’s still burning. I’m feeling kind of sweaty.” He grimaces, forces some smiles, the fire inching back up his throat. A few minutes in, he absently brushes his right eye, which, because his immune system works, immediately swells shut. “I no longer have use of my eye,” he says, half-laughing through tears and mucus. Jen, next to him, continues to seem totally fine. A guy who spent eight years with Axl Rose as his boss is getting slaughtered by a tortilla chip while his wife is like, eh, whatever.

This episode goes on for six minutes. Bumblefoot excuses himself to flush his eye with water—which obviously doesn’t work—until the fire finally dies down enough for the couple to record an outro. “Paqui chips,” he says, sweating and one-eyed, “Thank you very much for destroying my life for the next half-hour.”

The full story at GQ.com.

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How We Briefly Sort Of Totally Lost Our Son on the London Underground (via the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — One day, during my retirement, if there is still Social Security or whatever, I plan to write a collection of short stories called “Places I Have Lost My Son.” I lost him once in a state park, where, during a verdant and filthy family hike, he ambled ahead 10, then 20, then 500 yards, past a vigorous series of intersections and switchbacks. (We found him at the ranger station, making plans for what to do with his months-long iPhone ban.) I lost him once from his own bedroom when, at age 4, he let himself outside at 1:30 a.m. in a half-sleeping dream state, in search of the Polar Express. (We found him 20 minutes later a quarter-mile down the road, where he’d been discovered by two teenagers named Kevin and Brendan who were most assuredly not Tom Hanks.)

I’ve had to find him in zoos and museums, malls and airports, when something catches his imagination and instinct compels him to follow it. In my son’s brain, imagination is not some zingy, lively Peter Pan-type. It’s a 500-pound sumo wrestler who lumbers in and shoves aside all of the functions used for mindfulness and consciousness and “remembering to look behind him to see WHERE HIS DAD IS.” It’s both delightful, as there is no greater gift than childhood creativity, and god-awful terrifying, as there are few worse feelings than having to ask the nice security guards whether they have seen a 12-year-old in a blue hoodie. Twice.

Which brings me to how we totally lost him on the London subway.

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I Wore the Same Outfit for Two Weeks to Achieve Zen Calm (via Success)

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Success — To learn about the curious malady known as “decision fatigue,” I was given a very simple assignment: Wear the same outfit and automate as many daily decisions as possible for two weeks and write about whether it gave me more mental clarity. That was it. Easy breezy. I jumped right in.

On Day 1, I picked out a crisp white shirt, got dressed, opened the front door and promptly spilled coffee all over myself. The first lesson of automating your wardrobe: Select dark fabrics.

By “automating your wardrobe,” I mean following the fashion examples of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and others whose jobs demand a daily deluge of global-scale decision-making. The idea is simple: To preserve brain space for the big calls, cut back on the less significant ones, because the collective weight of your choices, layered over and over each other, creates what psychologists call decision fatigue. Officially, that’s the “deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual after a long session of decision-making,” says Jonathan Levav, Ph.D., associate professor at Stanford University. Colloquially it means reaching 4 p.m. and no longer giving a damn about the logjam of problems in your inbox.

The full story at Success.

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How to Buy a Mattress Now That We Live in the Future (via GQ)

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GQ — Mattress shopping is the worst shopping, unless you enjoy driving to the nearest low-rent strip mall and lying down fully clothed in the company of commission-starved salesmen. So when I needed a new mattress recently to replace my 12-year-old Sealy Posturepedic Plush Pillowtop (which I purchased from Dr. Seuss, apparently), I was delighted to find that the whole game has changed, thanks to online retailers.

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How I Learned to Talk to Strangers by Driving for Uber (via Success)

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Success — After sliding the on switch in my Uber app, I putter around the Indianapolis outskirts for about 10 minutes before receiving my first bat signal from a guy standing in front of a deeply suburban-looking office complex. He got right into my front seat, which I heard was an Uber party foul, but I didn’t want my first stranger interaction to open with me jerking my thumb and saying, “Backseat, buddy.”

A friendly, chatty Turkish immigrant, he’s headed back downtown after a job interview. He came to America years ago for an internship and simply stuck around. The Midwest, he says, was open and welcoming, but troublingly sedentary. He worried that our reliance on cars and endless fast-food options would make him look like a lot of the people he’s seen here. Random Fact No. 1: In Turkey, McDonald’s is considered something of a semi-expensive luxury meal.

I don’t usually care for small talk with a barista or Uber driver. So naturally I at first resisted the idea when SUCCESS asked me to drive for Uber to study the chance encounters that often come with participating in the YouEconomy—the massive entrepreneurial movement encapsulating the gig, sharing, freelance, on-demand and moonlighting economies that is already changing the life and work of one in three American adults.

The full story at Success.

Success Podcast: The Uber Episode

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How I Destroyed a Bruce Springsteen-Related Guinness World Record in 60 Seconds Flat (via Success Magazine)

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Success — Jumping right into the book of Guinness World Records with the mission of finding one to break is daunting. You’re not simply trying to decide how to order your eggs or which project to launch, you’re trying to be remembered for something incredible—something that will etch your name into a metaphorical mountain that will endure time, memory and erosion. Have you ever sat down and said, “All right, at what thing should I become the best in the world?” It’s scary. Big ambition can be. So I went with the only thing I knew I was really good at.

The full story at Success magazine.

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Inside Ark Encounter, Kentucky’s Preeminent Life-Sized Noah’s Ark (via GQ)

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GQ — Noah’s Ark is the first left after the gas station, down the street from the Mexican restaurant.

I know going in that it’s technically called the Ark Encounter, that it’s dry-docked here in Kentucky, and that it’s the work of a creationist organization called Answers in Genesis (AiG). But given that it constitutes a $100 million boat-shaped Bible theme park and the self-proclaimed “largest timber-frame structure in the world,” I’d expected a more dramatic approach. Maybe some animatronics. At least a little traffic. Instead the thing just appears in the distance, massive and curious and facing away, as if it has already started sailing without me.

From this perspective, I can already tell that it doesn’t look a thing like the Noah’s Ark I heard about in Sunday School, which was essentially a Little Tikes pool toy that eluded the laws of physics while ferrying a floating zoo to safety during a rainstorm. As the celestially appointed sea captain, Noah was depicted as a jolly Caucasian carpenter with kind eyes and a Dumbledore beard. He carried a staff, which he used to herd the koalas and llamas, all of which were extremely huggable.

The Ark Encounter is a lot of things, but it’s not huggable. Here’s what’s going on inside the planet’s judgiest, death-iest theme park. 

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Michael Strahan’s Guide to Dreaming Big (via Success)

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Success — In his first career, Michael Strahan was a legend.

He became one of football’s most relentless competitors, as good at bringing down quarterbacks as anyone who ever played. Week after week, he’d tear through opposing offenses like a man without fear. When he retired in 2008, after 15 years in one of the most punishing physical environments in sports, he celebrated by picking up three full-time jobs.

“To be honest, I’m looking for a few more,” Strahan says with a big Strahan laugh. “My afternoons are free.” He’s kidding. I think.

It’s 40 minutes after a Tuesday morning taping of Live with Kelly and Michael, and Strahan has chatted with Kelly Ripa about dirty martinis, interviewed actress Rebel Wilson and concocted a small buffet of Super Bowl snacks. Now he’s headed to the offices of his production company, SMAC Entertainment, where he’ll spend the rest of today. Tomorrow, he’ll be up early for a double-shot hosting Live and Good Morning America, which he joined just over a year ago. And during football season, he’ll follow GMA by flying straight to the West Coast to prep for Fox NFL Sunday, which starts before dawn and eats up all of this day of “rest.” Afterward, it’s back to New York to start the cycle again.

See more at Success.

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Nirvana, Indiana: What 30 Days of Meditation Does to Your Brain (via Success)

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Success — My first meditation class was a failure. I tanked it. Bombed it worse than anything since a college essay on The Canterbury Tales.

As is typical when I’m terrible at something, I immediately set about determining how it wasn’t my fault. It had to be because I was new—new to meditation, new to Eastern customs and, honestly, new to sitting still for 20 minutes. The other seven attendees had clearly been there before. They knew when to chant, when to listen, the cadence of each surprisingly involved group reading. My strategy was to be a mere observer, remaining as invisible as possible. I tried to sit near the back, but there were only three rows of chairs so there wasn’t really a “back” so much as a “directly behind Jerry.”

The full story at Success.

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