Two weeks before Christmas last year, Dr. Kristen Neff stood in front of an audience at the Googleplex in Mountain View, California. She was, in the words of the MC, a “very, very special guest” speaking on a “very, very interesting topic”—namely, compassion. Not just any sort of compassion, mind you, and certainly not the old-fashioned sort defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary as “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” She was there to talk about her compassion for herself.
I have never met anyone else who owns Judy Collins’s debut album. Fans prefer her lusher mid-’60s records, which are indeed some of the best pop-folk LPs of all time. Even though I value it more than any other record I own, I will concede that Maid of Constant Sorrow is mostly a forgettable affair. Its value lies with one song, the third cut on side one, her recording of “Wild Mountain Thyme.”
At some point everybody goes through a Gram Parsons phase. It’s inevitable and entirely laudable. Gram is a legend and even “Chimes of Freedom” pales in comparison with outtakes from Sweetheart of the Rodeo. But Gram was also a WASP poseur who didn’t really care if nobody bought the first Flying Burrito Brothers LP because he had a trust fund to fall back on. And his theology major at Harvard notwithstanding, I don’t get the sense when I spin “The Christian Life” or “I Am a Pilgrim” for the five-thousandth time that I am listening to somebody who is doing anything other than fetishizing stuff poor people like—Jesus, for example.
I’m more than a little terrified of witches. So far from thinking that they are a harmless bunch of dorks playing around with tarot cards and soothing crystals, I agree with Fr. Montague Summers that the witch is “an evil liver: a social pest and parasite: the devotee of a loathly and obscene creed: an adept at poisoning, blackmail, and other creeping crimes: a member of a powerful secret organization inimical to Church and State: a blasphemer in word and deed.” So what if they think that The Wheel and The Chariot are only symbols of natural forces? Satan doesn’t care.
Apparently today is something called “Star Wars Day.” I don’t have any patience for fake holidays or other marketing campaigns, and I am certainly not a nerd excited to take advantage of special merchandise discounts. The only reason I’m weighing in is to correct the glaring and ludicrous errors of others. Here is—most of—the extant Star Wars …
I have blogged about this issue before. I have made it the subject of countless tweets. In bars and at Christmas parties I have shouted till I was blue in the face trying to explain it. I have even written a play—actually, two plays—in an attempt to draw out the seemingly latent connection between the …
It’s already summer in Washington. You can tell because it’s 90 or so degrees and humid enough for Jurassic Park. The dress code here is impatient. Young men chinoed in every conceivable shade—pink, yellow, maroon, cream—patrol the streets. Seersuckered bros strut up and down Constitution Avenue like animate candy canes, giving off strong hints of generational wealth and grade inflation.
If I were inventing a country off the top of my head, I bet it would look a lot like Canada. The landscape is beautiful, the weather perfect. Everyone has health care. The government did not ostentatiously bail out its banks in 2008. The citizens are kind beer-drinking sports fans who will give driving directions to random foreigners. They have quaint, almost absurd-sounding names for their money, which is emblazoned with images of waterfowl. There is a queen.