Cannot believe I’m admitting this, much less inflicting it on anyone else, but my race-day running playlist has one epic, utterly ridiculous track: MmmmBOP. I put it late in the mix, because after all the great, rhythmic stuff that gets me through 12 or 13 miles, there is nothing better than the track that just cracks you up. Pure joy.
A long-time reader in San Francisco contributes to our ongoing series of “weirdest, greatest” running songs:
I submit Florida by Starfucker. It’s fun electro-pop with a solid beat. The weird part is that it features a recording of the late philosopher Alan Watts discussing the wigglyness of the natural world. Somehow it works really well.
Erm, the two songs on my running list that stand out the most as simultaneously weird and motivating are Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” and Mika’s “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).” That last one always makes me smile and do odd “jazz hands” type movements if it comes on at the right point in my run. I know ...
For our running playlist series, a reader submits a song from the inimitable Trey Parker and DVDA, his band that contributed all kinds of music to South Park, Team America, and the movie this song was featured in, Orgazmo.
I’m not one for making hard-and-fast New Year’s resolutions. But I do tend to start the year with an idea of how I’d like it to go, who I’d like to be—sort of a rosy view of the months ahead.
I fell out of running last year thanks to a gnarly overuse injury (finishing a half-marathon and an overnight relay in the same month might’ve been a tad ambitious). But after some physical therapy and developing an intimate relationship with my foam roller, I’m ready to pick up where I left off as the new year gets under way. In 2016, I’d like to be a runner again.
So far, that’s meant rediscovering just how many excuses I can make to avoid doing something that doesn’t feel quite so breezy anymore. Thank God for playlists.
Last month, Adrienne put out a call for the underappreciated gems on your running playlists—the weirdest, greatest songs that maybe no one else would understand but get you amped to pound through the next mile.
Unless you’re in the later stages of marathon training (or a maniacal ultramarathoner), you probably don’t need a five-hour-long running playlist. This is meant for you to skip through and find songs that unexpectedly get you vibin’. I tried to include close to all the suggestions we got (Chris’s picks are published here as daily tracks), though some weren’t on Spotify or were too vague to decipher.
After putting Adrienne’s “Boléro” up top for this weirdo playlist, I grouped your submitted jams according to a general run’s flow: easing in at the beginning, building up with some heart-pounders, peaks and valleys throughout to keep your pace interesting (my greatest DJ triumph will surely be Sigur Rós leading into “Baby Got Back”), and some definitively laid-back tracks toward the end for your cool-down.
Have fun with this; try working out to something you never would’ve considered before. How, for example, had it not occurred to me to try sprinting to “In the Hall of the Mountain King”?
I’m a creature of habit in workout jams. And because I’m a weirdly emotional runner, I’ve managed to create some deeply entrenched, nostalgic connections with my playlist mainstays over the years. Kanye West’s “Monster”—specifically Nicki Minaj’s verse—still sounds like the two-mile climb up to Hurricane Point on the Big Sur marathon course, and the elated, rubber-limbed gallop down the other side. Queens of the Stone Age’s “Song for the Dead”—from about 4:40 till the end of the track—sounds like winter sprints, during a post-grad limbo in my hometown of Indianapolis, on what I had euphemistically deemed “the shredmill.” Spank Rock’s “Bump” sounds like jogging down the block near my Spanish Harlem sublet the summer in college I lived in New York, when I hated the city because I didn’t know how to function—but knew I was pretty decent at putting one foot in front of the other.
Most of the songs that readers sent had never appeared on one of my workout playlists, and a few of the artists here I hadn’t even heard before. But for each of the songs I picked in this shorter list, I imagined it playing at just the right moment of a future, deceptively profound run.
A reader submitted this Trina song for our groupthink playlist of greatest, weirdest running songs—which may come as a surprise to any fans of mainstream rap circa the late ‘90s and early aughts. To be fair, our reader did designate it for our “best running tracks” list—surely a more fitting home for Da Baddest Bitch. I suppose we broadened the scope of our main playlist with our latest update, and honestly, who am I to turn away Trina on the grounds of mere semantics?
But the weirdest song—I can’t even remember where I first heard it—is Plaisir de France’s “Le Responsable Revisite.” I can’t even buy this anywhere! So I have to have it queued up on YouTube to work it in, but that’s how good it is.
(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)
Here’s one that I’m sure hasn’t been mentioned: Ben Folds Five’s “One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces.” It’s the best track to end on, especially when you need that extra kick. How many workout songs have that much piano in them?
“Army” from Ben Folds has been on my running playlist for years.
(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)
1) “Keep Hope Alive,” The Crystal Method, off their Vegas album (also the soundtrack for The Replacement Killers). When I worked in downtown South Bend, Ind., I ran in Howard Park, which runs along the St. Joseph River and includes a dam and a race waterway/fish ladder and old mills and factories sited on the river that have been turned into apartments among other things. So there is a lot of twisting and turning and little footbridges to run over as well as bridges that carry traffic over the river to run under. It always reminded me of being a little kid just running around outside in a particularly cool backyard. The starts and stops and twists and turns in this track match the mood, plus you feel like Chow Yun Fat or Mira Sorvino escaping gunmen bent on your destruction.
2) “Hope Runs Deep,” Steve Jablonsky, Gears of War 2 soundtrack. The guy who did the music for Transformers also did the music for Gears of War 2, a game that no one in my household plays. Full of anvils and heavy strings and big brass and deep-voiced Viking choirs, it brings to mind straight-to-DVD movies about special ops forces where one guy always gets shot but tries to keep up, shouting “Go on! Save the men!” but manages to stagger along, shouting “I CAN MAKE IT,” which is how I more or less feel by the end of an eight-miler. Helps me stagger along.
3) “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To),” Eurythmics, Savage. One of the group’s weirder singles, but a nice driving beat. At the start of the playlist, it’s optimistic. In the middle, it’s a challenge. If you put it at the end, you’ll feel like that guy in the straight-to-DVD special ops movie and should just skip ahead to “Hope Runs Deep.”
(Track of the Day archive here. Access it through Spotify here. Submit via hello@)
At 3 a.m. I’m jolted awake. The room is dark and still. I grab my phone and scan sports scores and Twitter. Still awake. A faceless physician whispers in my mind: To overcome middle-of-the-night insomnia, experts say you ought to get out of bed … I get out of bed. I pour a glass of water and drink it. I go back to bed. Still awake. Perhaps you know the feeling. Like millions of Americans and hundreds of millions of people around the world, I suffer from so-called mid-sleep awakenings that can keep me up for hours.
One day, I was researching my nocturnal issues when I discovered a cottage industry of writers and sleep hackers who claim that sleep is a nightmare because of the industrial revolution, of all things. Essays in The Guardian, CNN, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine recommended an old fix for restlessness called “segmented sleep.” In premodern Europe, and perhaps centuries earlier, people routinely went to sleep around nightfall and woke up around midnight—only to go back to sleep a few hours later, until morning. They slept sort of like I do, but they were Zen about it. Then, the hackers claim, modernity came along and ruined everything by pressuring everybody to sleep in one big chunk.
Pour one out for Delta, the SARS-CoV-2 variant that Season 3 of the pandemic seems intent on killing off. After holding star billing through the summer and fall of 2021, Delta’s spent the past several weeks getting absolutely walloped by its feistier cousin Omicron—a virus that’s adept at both blitzing in and out of airways and dodging the antibodies that vaccines and other variants raise. In late November, Delta made up essentially all the SARS-CoV-2 infections that researchers were sequencing in the United States. Now it’s a measly 0.1 percent. As for the rest? It’s an Omicron show.
The global portrait’s a bit patchier, but by and large, “Delta won’t be able to compete,” Karthik Gangavarapu, a computational biologist at UCLA, told me. “My suspicion is that Omicron will take over.” It’s a fair shift from the tune many experts were singing just weeks ago, when they wonderedwhether Delta and Omicron might co-circulate in a vicious variant one-two punch. Katia Koelle, an evolutionary virologist at Emory University, told me she used to worry about that possibility when the world knew little about Omicron’s competitive edge, but “less so now.” Katie Gostic, an infectious-disease modeler at the University of Chicago, agrees that Delta’s doom is probably nigh. And if so, “good riddance,” she told me.
Russia-Ukraine is becoming a trial of strength between different parts of the conservative universe.
Night after night, the host of the top-rated show on Fox News repeats Vladimir Putin’s talking points justifying aggression against Ukraine and opposing U.S. aid to that threatened sovereign country. Tucker Carlson’s influence is felt across right-wing social media, where it is amplified by figures such as Steve Bannon, Mike Cernovich, Glenn Greenwald, and Mollie Hemingway. A highly visiblecoterie of socially conservative intellectuals also argues the case against helping Ukraine.
The Bowlin family knew they had a history of malformations in the brain. But they had no idea how far back it went.
Of the three Bowlin sisters, Margaret, the middle one, was the first to show signs. She began having seizures as a toddler. Then the eldest, Bettina, had a brief and mysterious episode of weakness in her right hand. In 1986, as an adult, she had a two-week migraine that got so bad, she couldn’t hold food in her mouth or money in her right hand. The youngest, Susan, felt fine, but her parents still took her for an exam in 1989, when she was 19. A brain scan found abnormal clusters of blood vessels that, as it turned out, were in her sisters’ brains too. These malformations in the brain can be silent. But they can also leak or, worse, burst without warning, causing the seizures, migraines, and strokelike symptoms Bettina and Margaret experienced. If the bleeding in the brain gets bad enough, it can be deadly.
Years after these titles were popular, they’re still worth picking up.
Hundreds of thousands of books are published in the United States each year, and this dramatic influx of titles largely runs the calendars of the publishing and media industries—usually to the detriment of any work that isn’t brand new. Even best sellers or novels by famous authors get lost in the deluge, and books that were beloved on release can fall off readers’ radar quickly. But many were popular or critically acclaimed for good reasons, and they’re worth revisiting.
Here is a list of 15 fiction titles from the past two decades that you may have forgotten about in the years since. Some are from familiar names such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood, and Louise Erdrich; others are by authors you may not have heard of at all. These selections include plenty of drama, and there’s an undercurrent of gentle comedy, even in novels with dark themes or plots. Their characters define love in many different ways, and they seek fulfillment across geographies and time periods—contemporary London, Vichy France, Nigeria, North Korea. Ultimately, these stories are bound together by a compassion for their characters’ struggles and shortcomings—a quality that only our finest writers are able to cultivate.
People seeking to obtain an exemption from the shot have found that some clergy see no theological foundation for an excusal.
Religious texts such as the Bible, the Torah, and the Quran don’t say anything about vaccines—of course, all three texts predate them by hundreds of years. So when faith leaders face questions about immunizations, they generally offer their own interpretations of the scriptures. Such questions, particularly about the applicability of religious exemptions, have become more urgent during the pandemic, forcing clergy to take hard stances for or against excusals.
Even though the Supreme Court recently struck down a federal vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees, many Americans still must receive a COVID-19 vaccine in order to resume in-person work. Some people are seeking ways to skirt the obligation, and religious exemptions, which stipulate that a person’s spiritual beliefs can free them from a medical requirement, present one way to do so. In private Facebook groups, for instance, people swap tips on how to convince employers that they don’t need a shot, while others are hiring consulting services for help obtaining an exemption. Many people requesting exemptions have tried to strengthen their case with a written statement from a religious leader, but to some clergy, agreeing to support a person’s claim feels unjustifiable. Instead, faith leaders I spoke with are trying to assuage congregants’ misgivings about the vaccines, and are pushing back against attempts to circumvent public-health measures with scripture.
Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market. Even worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking.
Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market, according to the latest numbers from MRC Data, a music-analytics firm. Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—should look at these figures with fear and trembling. But the news gets worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking. All the growth in the market is coming from old songs.
The 200 most popular new tracks now regularly account for less than 5 percent of total streams. That rate was twice as high just three years ago. The mix of songs actually purchased by consumers is even more tilted toward older music. The current list of most-downloaded tracks on iTunes is filled with the names of bands from the previous century, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Police.
In attempting to succeed in the Trump-era Republican Party, some politicians are masquerading as what they imagine voters want, with results that ring almost comically false.
In 2013, Bobby Jindal, then the governor of Louisiana and a presidential hopeful, delivered some tough love to the Republican National Committee: “We must stop being the stupid party.” Specifically, he continued, “we must stop insulting the intelligence of voters. We need to trust the smarts of the American people. We have to stop dumbing down our ideas and stop reducing everything to mindless slogans and taglines for 30-second ads.”
Even in the pre-Trump GOP, this was a bracing message, but Jindal was the person to make it: Known for his wonkish mien, Jindal had graduated from Brown at 20, scored a Rhodes Scholarship, become the youngest president of the University of Louisiana system, and then won the governorship.
Robert Malone claims to have invented mRNA technology. Why is he trying so hard to undermine its use?
Updated at 3:00 p.m. ET on August 23, 2021
Robert Malone—a medical doctor and an infectious-disease researcher—recently suggested that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines might actually make COVID-19 infections worse. He chuckled as he imagined Anthony Fauci announcing that the vaccination campaign was all a big mistake (“Oh darn, I was wrong!”) and would need to be abandoned. When he floated that nightmare scenario during a recent podcast interview with Steve Bannon, both men seemed almost delighted at the prospect of public-health officials and pharmaceutical companies getting their comeuppance. “This is a catastrophe,” Bannon declared, beaming at his guest. “You’re hearing it from an individual who invented the mRNA [vaccine] and has dedicated his life to vaccines. He’s the opposite of an anti-vaxxer.”
The real prize in Ukraine is the end of American influence in Europe.
Vladimir Putin likes to say that playing chess with the United States is like playing against a pigeon: It struts around the board, knocks over the pieces, shits everywhere, and then declares victory. Playing chess with Europe, in contrast, must be like playing with a child who has forgotten the rules of the game, claims to have invented new ones, and then sulks when no one wants to play.
For so long, many people in Europe, including the U.K., have comforted themselves with platitudes that “hard power” no longer matters, that spheres of influence are outdated, and, even, that geopolitics itself has become somewhat passé. Then Russia sent 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. Suddenly playtime was over and once again the future security of Europe was being decided by someone else, somewhere else.