Category Archives: Publications

The All-Ages Genius of Rockabye Baby (via the Washington Post)

I ain’t sorry.

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Washington Post — Pro tip for aspiring PR executives: If you’re ever announcing a Beyoncé-themed baby product, try to do so just days before she Instagrams her pregnancy.

Such was the most recent stroke of good news in the potent, enduring tale of the Rockabye Baby series, which for 11 years and 78 albums has tried to alleviate one of the worst parts of being a parent — the music — with lullabied instrumental covers of songs from, you know, real bands. The Beyoncé version is the latest in a list that includes Prince, the Beatles, Springsteen, the Pixies, David Bowie, Eminem, the Cure, Guns N’ Roses, Rush, Kanye West, Radiohead, Adele, Cyndi Lauper, Tool and Iron Maiden. (If you think you had a weird day at work, imagine trying to coax “The Number of the Beast” out of a harp and glockenspiel.)

A look inside the world of the planet’s dominant Kanye West lullaby-making machine.

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This is Your Brain on One Month of Constant Gratitude (via Success)

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Success — Confession: Before this assignment, I’d never even considered keeping a gratitude journal. I imagined parchment and elf-crystals and perfumed writing chambers where the air is 75 percent mulberry incense, and purple-haired millennials talk an awful lot about chakras.

Gratitude is also an example of what humans call feelings, and I have spent an awful lot of energy trying to avoid those. But as it happens, what makes me a lousy human also leaves me pretty well-qualified to gauge the effects of a gratitude journal—a tally of thanks I kept throughout December to see whether the gurus and positive psychologists are right about its uplifting power.

Science has fallen over itself proving how gratitude makes you not only a warmer person but a healthier one. “Previous research has linked gratitude to improved mental health, lower levels of anxiety and improved sleep,” says Blaire Morgan, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Birmingham in England. “Our own research has demonstrated a strong link between gratitude and three different measures of well-being: satisfaction with life, subjective happiness and positive affect.”

Here’s what happened after a month of relentless gratitude. 

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Why It’s Time to Go Back to the Mall (via GQ)

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GQ — Men today are always searching for a miracle cure—the magical face serum that reverses aging, the world’s lather-iest shaving cream. We went searching for the best source, and the miracle is: We found it. It was right past Auntie Anne’s Pretzels!

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Silver Linings Playbook: What I Learned from 30 Days of Endless Positive Thinking (via Success)

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Success — My earliest memory is a pretty bad one. I was called out by a substitute teacher in kindergarten for talking during story time.

You could argue that, in the grand scheme of things, getting in trouble at 5 isn’t that big of a deal. But the story, and how it’s burned into my brain forever, speaks to a shared and brutal human reality: We cling to the bad moments—getting busted in kindergarten, botching a speech, getting broken up with the day after the prom, feeling wordlessly judged by someone in richer clothes, whiffing on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the ninth—with more force than we afford the good ones. Negative memories are monstrous beasts, gross and sticky octopuses that attach themselves with ferocious tenacity to the present. Science, Eastern religion, elections and all eight Star Wars movies prove that negative powers aren’t easily fought. Only the strongest and most disciplined minds can train themselves to destroy the darkness with light.

I do not have such a mind.

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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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Fan Friction: The 10 Most Memorable Moments from the IU/Purdue Rivalry (via Indianapolis Monthly)

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Indianapolis Monthly

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Indianapolis Monthly — Indiana basketball’s defining rivalry rekindles twice in February with two new episodes of a series Purdue currently leads by a reasonably commanding 115–89. Aaaand you know where this is going: That’s where IU people say “banners,” and Purdue people say “dusty,” and IU people mention how Purdue’s dominance was mostly before color movies, and Purdue people observe that the schools are dead even with 22 regular-season Big Ten titles each, and IU people bring up Gene Keady’s $600 comb-over, and Purdue people note how none of their coaches have ever been fired for forcefully scolding a 19-year-old. Here’s what got (and kept) the ball rolling.

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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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O Christmas Box, O Christmas Box (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

High Angle View of Empty Cardboard Box with Open Flaps on Shiny Hardwood Floor - Moving or Shipping Concept Image

Sweet.

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Generally speaking, Christmas trees arrive in one of two ways: 1. You pack a saw and rope and drive to a Cut Your Own Tree Farm, which makes you feel like a beefy, whiskey-swilling, red-bearded lumberjack army-crawling through dirt and pine needles and probably fire ants until you ask a 19-year-old to help you tie it to the top of your Honda Odyssey; or 2. You go to the attic and retrieve the Giant Box of Fake Christmas tree, which you purchased some years ago from, hypothetically speaking, a Kmart in east-central Indiana.

My family went with Option B. As I was fortunate enough to have both a Christmas-loving family and unusually tall ceilings, our fake tree was a goliath, a monstrous army-grade artificial Douglas fir Fraser pine (okay, I have no idea what it really was, I slept through college horticulture) that endured for nearly a decade. It was rich, plush and lifelike, even if it smelled less like evocative forest pine and more like the inside of a Kmart in east-central Indiana.

Mostly, it came in a box.

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Andrew Luck Made Me Read a Very Good Book (via Men’s Health)

image: Men's Health

image: Men’s Health

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Men’s Health — NFL players are generally associated with reading about as much as they are skin moisturizers and Sarah McLachlan albums, which is part of what makes the Andrew Luck Book Club such an odd little slice of nerd-joy in Indianapolis.

As the post-Peyton quarterback for the Colts, Luck has carved a reputation for being three things: 1. Rich (he signed a $140 million contract in June 2015, the biggest in NFL history), 2. Reliable (his stoic work ethic is pleasingly Midwestern) and 3. Dorky.The Stanford grad has been called the Colts’ unofficial librarian; his club is an extension of his propensity for gifting books to teammates and coaches. (Think of another NFL QB who’s on record as being super-into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We’ll wait.)

But the man makes $140 million throwing balls around, so he’s clearly onto something. And so, driven by Luck’s suggestion, I formed my own offshoot club, called three friends to participate (most common answer: “Huh?”) and got down to reading.

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