Durham Days

We just got back from a long weekend in Durham, North Carolina, for a friend’s wedding. I had a great time bummin’ around the area while my wife was busy on bridesmaid duty. Had some barbecue, heard some blues, and took a few pictures… at Ponysaurus Brewing: at Carolina Soul Records, where I found some… Read more Durham Days

The Bullies Pulpit

From Politico: More than 100 years ago a Republican president worried that America wasn’t doing enough to protect its most treasured wild and sacred places from over-development, mining and drilling. So Congress passed and President Teddy Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act of 1906, giving presidents the authority to preserve imperiled mountains, forests, cultural treasures and… Read more The Bullies Pulpit

The Family Stone

The Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus of The Family Stone is that “This family holiday dramedy features fine performances but awkward shifts of tone.” Which, yeah. That’s why it’s so good. I didn’t come away loving it when I saw it in the theater. Too mercurial, I thought. And that excruciating dinner scene… But upon further viewings, I’ve… Read more The Family Stone

Escanaba in Da Moonlight

For dose dat don’t know much about the Superior State, dere’s a couple of tings that need to be explained. First ting is, in da U.P., we don’t explain tings. Second ting is, we got some of the best huntin’ and fishin’ in da whole world. So says Albert Soady, patriarch of probably the most… Read more Escanaba in Da Moonlight

Word by Word

“The process of creating a dictionary is magical, frustrating, brain wrenching, mundane, transcendent. It is ultimately a show of love for a language that has been called unlovely and unlovable.” Unlovable? Bah! English may be a strange, amorphous beast, but its quirkiness is its charm. In Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries, Kory… Read more Word by Word

Ötzi-quel

This ongoing saga of Ötzi the Iceman fascinates me. I first learned of him from Radiolab a few years ago, but turns out we keep learning more about this mythic Italian mummy: The more scientists learn, the more recognizable the Iceman becomes. He was 5 feet 5 inches tall (about average height for his time),… Read more Ötzi-quel

Saint Benedict in Technopoly

Perhaps it was because I had just finished reading Neil Postman’s 1992 book Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology when I started in on Rod Dreher’s latest, The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, but I was detecting a subtle yet strong Postmanian vibe throughout the book. Then, when Dreher actually quoted Technopoly, I realized that… Read more Saint Benedict in Technopoly

Down with S-Town

Yesterday I managed to mainline all seven episodes of S-Town, the new podcast from This American Life and Serial that were released all at once. It’s a fascinating blend of those two shows: at once an extended version of a TAL episode, complete with idiosyncratic characters and a vivid setting, and a Serial-esque mystery, with room to explore the unexpected… Read more Down with S-Town

Top Shelf Madness

Almost two years ago I started writing about strange, intriguing, or otherwise noteworthy questions I encounter at the library reference desk, in a series I call Refer Madness.  My latest one, titled “Finding Angels,” is debuting over at Booklist, as part of the latest issue of “Top Shelf Reference” newsletter. This latest one is about a… Read more Top Shelf Madness