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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Tom Petty: This One Hurts (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

The Loop / Golf Digest — Tom Petty was not a particularly handsome guy, he’d be the first to tell you. He had the same floppy haircut for, as near as I can tell, approximately 45 years, that iconic mix of hippie sweep and Florida dust that I suspect he never regarded in the slightest. Aside from the Mad Hatter video, which can throttle me with nightmares now and I’m a grown adult, or the one in which he danced with the corpse of Kim Basinger, I don’t remember a lot of costumes. Bruce Springsteen is idealized masculinity, a consciously maintained sculpture of the Best of America. Mick Jagger is, you know, Mick Jagger. Prince was essentially sex in the form of a four-foot-tall Minnesota magician, David Bowie an alien from space. Tom Petty watched some TV in Gainesville, Fla., decided he wanted to be a musician and that’s pretty much it, really. Iconic rock stars, particularly those we’ve recently lost, shaded their images by maintaining a thick barrier of pre-social media distance and mythology between themselves and their fans. Petty was a guy, and that was his power, and that’s why his out-of-nowhere loss hurts all the more.

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With 280 Characters, Twitter Changing the Only Thing People Like About Twitter (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Leading cyberbullying platform Twitter announced this week that it’s mulling the possibility of doubling its current 140-character limit to 280, a dramatic change for a company that’s become as synonymous with 140 as Jordan is with 23. What does this mean for you, the pithy user or your valuable brand? The pros and cons of Twitter going all 280:

PROS

• Expanding to 280 characters gives users way more room to be racist

• After a natural disaster/mass shooting/one of 2017’s 300 hurricanes, politicians will no longer have to abbreviate “thoughts and prayers”

• Should reduce ampersand use by 700%

The full list at The Loop.

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And Then There Was the Afternoon In Which I Fell Out of the Sky in a Fighter Jet (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Mark “Crunchy” Burgess is not the thick, beefy, Iceman-type of fighter pilot who spends his time promoting his upper-body definition and flight hours. He’s methodical and quiet — often pinpoint — in his words, manners and speech. The kind of guy to sit, arms folded, listening to a debate or a monologue or a branch-superiority battle unfold until finding the perfect moment to jump in and dismantle everything and everyone around him with precision, and physics, and the assured, unforced calm that comes with craft mastery. Crunchy has nearly 4,000 flying hours to his name. Upon my arrival at the NAS Oceana Air Base for a test flight in mid-September, my count was precisely 4,000 less.

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Crunchy — no one calls him anything else, and I didn’t even know how to pronounce his last name until 20 minutes before I left — is a retired Navy lieutenant commander and the lead pilot with the Warrior Flight Team, an all-volunteer charity organization that raises funds for wounded vets partly by taking hopelessly green writers up in flights that they inexplicably call “VIP rides.” (On a master jet base populated by active-duty servicemen and women, my VIP status is basically rock bottom.) My flight was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spin space, to actually no-shit-for-real-aileron-roll-a-jet, to fly a fighter for about 30 exhilarating seconds. For these men and women, this was a pretty routine Friday.

The full and slightly vomitous story over at The Loop / Golf Digest.

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