The Common Good

Blog Posts By Joshua Witchger

Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 10 weeks ago
Editor's Note: This is the first post in a series called FIRSTS, where some of us take a look at classic works of art, music, film and literature for the first time. We hope that a fresh perspective on these influential pop-cultural artifacts will inspire discussion and interest that outlasts the shelf-life of daily reviews.Townes Van Zandt The Late Great Townes Van Zandt (1972)Townes Van Zandt isn’t a songwriter I’ve heard many people praise (or even acknowledge, really.) But the few people I know who love him are folks with musical tastes I admire and respect.One is my college roommate’s brother, who introduced both of us to the great Tom Waits during my junior year.Another is a friend who’s always following a new dream, be it dropping out of school to travel, or finding work on farms and in coffee shops.    Both are people I’d describe as earthy and natural — devotees to folk tunes with lyrics that transcend contexts, offering timeless truths that smirk at popular culture’s music of cheap love and consumer-driven individuality.So, this week I began listening to an album that my musical mentors hold dear  — and one that I’ve never heard laid ears on before — Townes Van Zandt’s 1972 LP The Late Great Townes Van Zandt.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 10 weeks ago
Inception is re-imagined in LEGOS – time lapse photos from the International Space Station –the Museum of Endangered Sounds –Jim Henson Co. to adapt Frog and Toad –80s awkward family photos – and Celebrity Googly Eyes. Take a look at these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 10 weeks ago
Mrs. Doubtfire imagined as a horror film -- the best of Fred Armisan on Portlandia -- Regina Spektor visits Colbert -- stream the Bonnaroo Music Festival all weekend -- the history of video games -- living paintings from DC artist -- chaos theory and Muppets -- Bill Murray's hologram plays the banjo on David Letterman -- and friend-of-Sojourners Jason Harrod records a new version of "This Land is Your Land." See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 10 weeks ago
Andy Samberg's PSA on cannibalism -- behind the scenes look at The Hobbit -- The Atlantic's Puppy Cam and scientific survey -- and Japan's Wan Wan Dog Circus. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness... 
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 11 weeks ago
New world records in holding breath and paper lantern launching -- Michelle Obama on growing Barack-oli -- Andy Samberg's new television venture -- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. See these in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 11 weeks ago
An award winning new short starring Kevin Spacey -- the most extroverted city in the U.S. -- Wilco releases free e-book -- The Daily Show's coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee -- Jason Schwartzman and Jimmy Fallon's ode to a pepper. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 11 weeks ago
Novelists set down the typewriter and pick up the paintbrush -- cross stitching electrical circuts -- beautiful photos of colored ink underwater -- Improv Everywhere strikes again with a car alarm stunt -- Pulitzer-prize winning author Dave Eggers talks new novel. See these and more in Today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 11 weeks ago
A batch of the best new audio and visual stimulation. Roman Mars' podcast explores the craft of Trappist beer — nature-loving artist trades the electronic equipment for some earthy sounds — Andrew Bird's hit "Eyeoneye" gets the stop-motion video treatment -- the iconic walls of Sydney's Opera House are the backdrop for a new artful video projection — a Super Mario Brothers themed aquarium — summer rock vibes, and more. See today's Links of Awesomeness... 
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 11 weeks ago
Politwoops presents deleted tweets from politicians -- bloopers from The Muppets -- crocheting massive portraits -- mashup of Men in Black III and Wes Anderson -- The Walkmen -- Rainn Wilson's airplane magazine article -- and Reggie Watts and Michael Cera improv a soul song about friendship and pie. See these and more on today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 11 weeks ago
Pastor Mack Wolford — an eccentric snake handler and Pentecostal minister — was bitten by a deadly rattle snake at an outdoor service (or “evangelistic hootenanny”) at Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Va. He died shortly after, surrounded by friends and family, which, coincidentally, is the same way his father (also a pastor and snake handler) passed away nearly thirty years ago.According to The Washington Post, “Wolford [like his father] believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God -- and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them.” As the article points out, Wolford comes from a niche tradition in where the gospel words in Mark 16 are taken literally (and somewhat peculiarly), to “take up serpents and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them…”
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 12 weeks ago
Breweries of the United States -- Bicycles and the stages of life -- folk musician Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on NPR -- cassette tape table -- new species of 2011 -- get serious for 30 seconds -- and monkeys playing synthesizers... See these and more on today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 12 weeks ago
Artists are telling it in their own words: through the airwaves, written on paper, on physical walls, etc. Our Friday links feature some notable creatives, new and old, expressing their craft at its finest. Fred Armisen -- The Burning House project -- Wes Anderson's music supervisor -- Banksy -- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and more! See today's Links of Awesomeness for more...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 12 weeks ago
Library of Congress to induct 25 formative sounds into archives -- 20 pictures of funny money -- remake of The Great Gatsby -- stream the new album from Sigur Rós -- and a one minute clip that took six months to make. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 12 weeks ago
According to reports from the Candle Association, 90 percent of candles are purchased by women.In an effort to tip the scales, the Yankee Candle Company recently unveiled a few scents to woo men, in a line of products they're calling "Man Candles." This product for "men only" features four classic scents that a man will appreciate, including "2x4," "Riding Mower," "First Down," and "Man Town."Just in time for Father's Day, you can enjoy the smell of freshly mowed grass or the excitement of game day.Read more about the National Candle Association here, and Yankee Candle's "Man Candles" here. Or, if you're seeking a slightly more exotic scent, Jimmy Fallon has some candles of his own to suggest.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 13 weeks ago
The Museum of Old Pop Culture References -- clever commencement speeches -- Ben + Jerry's ice cream lock -- calming manatee -- and Chris Parnell helps bring awareness to cat boredom. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 13 weeks ago
Today, the political and social activist is remembered for his contributions to transform the world into a more inclusive, affirming environment for all people. As the first openly gay person to serve in an elected position, Milk’s 1977 ascent into public office has been instrumental in paving the way for LGBT people to authentically wield roles of power, consciousness, and change.Sadly, Milk’s life was cut short at age 48 when he was tragically assassinated. Though he served less than a full year in public office (San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors), he has left behind a powerful  vision of a better world. His commitments to  justice has inspired countless people to construct programs and organizations that organize, lobby, write and prophesize a habitat that is all just and peaceable for all, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or age.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 13 weeks ago
The 2012 Paralympics -- Kristen Wiig's best SNL characters -- Bill Murray narrates a tour of Wes Anderson's new film -- Moog synthesizers -- and Obama and Romney set aside their differences to dance in a van. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 13 weeks ago
Earlier this month, the public radio show This American Life held a wide-scale live event in New York City. I attended the two-hour event via satellite in Washington, D.C. Like its weekly radio broadcast, the live show included pieces from a variety of storytellers gathered around a common theme — in this case “the invisible made visible.”The medium of radio doesn’t lend itself to visuals — it is "theater of the mind" after all — but the live-on-stage iteration of This American Life  took full advantage of the occasion (and change in medium), including many extra bells and whistles they could never pull off on the airwaves alone.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 13 weeks ago
A Day of Video + Song: Pomplamoose pumps out a fun new tune -- upcoming song from Sigur Ros -- turkeys and dubstep -- stop motion paper cut-outs -- Saturday Night Live's "Lazy Sunday 2" -- and Will Smith rapping the Fresh Prince theme song. See these in today's Links of Awesomeness...   
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 13 weeks ago
Marveling at Mr. Smith's world of peach pit figurines. Plus, Jack White and the Guiness Book of World Records -- LEGO art from PBS -- literary maps of the U.S. and U.K. -- how to tattoo a banana. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 13 weeks ago
Penguin escapes from zoo and is spotted months later -- stereotypes of your favorite 90s bands -- sneaky squirrels nabbing food -- visual history of Europe... read these and more on today's Links of Awesomeness.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 14 weeks ago
Memorable commencement speeches from comedians -- Colbert and Stewart on LGBT -- unscientific diagrams of aquatic life -- most bikeable U.S. cities -- Parks and Recreation's Adam Scott "blows some minds" -- The Animal Pocket knife... See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 14 weeks ago
Typcially, cults don’t garner media attention unless they do something really big, like when Heaven’s Gate rose to the public eye in 1997 after 39 members committed mass suicide. And while cults may welcome newcomers openly or warily, it seems they prefer to remain elusive and secretive. In the feature-length drama Sound of My Voice, Peter Aitken, a 20-something school teacher, is angry at the cultish fanaticism that led to his mother’s death (per her cult’s teaching, she refused to take medicine when she was gravely ill) and turns a cynical eye toward belief patterns he believes distort reality. Shaped by an experience that left him void of parental companionship, he searches for meaning alone, not knowing what to believe.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 14 weeks ago
The cast of Arrested Development knows how to celebrate "Dance like a Chicken Day." Plus New York's piano man wheels an upright down the street -- X-Ray photos of animals and plants -- Ghostbusters city tour -- elephants form a two-day vigil -- Neil Young and Crazy Horse play "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain"... and more. See today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 14 weeks ago
Mothers Day Links: awkward photos of mothers -- the daughters that span six generations -- ways to improve Mother's Day -- things you're mom is too old to be doing. Plus other links from This American Life's live event -- Conan O'Brien presents coffee table books -- Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros... see these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 14 weeks ago
More from Maddie the coonhound -- color wheel of gay rights progress -- pancake art -- slow motion popcorn popping -- Kristen Schaal as the "average 1996 woman" -- quirky suggestions for Mitt Romney's running mate -- and baby bears line up to show some love for one another... see these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 15 weeks ago
Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono team up for a special Mother's Day -- John Hamm freestyle raps -- Iceland's latest musical goodness hits the U.S. -- Dr. Shaq -- 150 years of baseball teams... read these and more on today's Links of Awesomeness... 
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 15 weeks ago
This week I came across a dynamic outlet for new forms of storytelling. MAKERS is a documentary project where dozens of short reflections and dreams are gathered to promote the ways a diverse collection of women are transforming the planet into a more holistic and habitable place. While most of these stories are non-fictional, rooted in a place that may not extend too far beyond their origins, the opportunity to zoom in on an impassioned way of living, thinking, and acting, is an encouragement for all people to continue acting out the worlds we desire. These many narratives of change and engagement craft a large and resounding story of the power of women.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 15 weeks ago
Tributes to The Beastie Boys -- Wilco's legendary album revisited -- water droplets dance on speakers -- Patton Oswalt's band names -- Stephen Colbert interviewed on Letterman -- and the Virginia indie musicians The Hill and Wood perform a house show at Jim Wallis' former home... see this and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 15 weeks ago
The Audio Motherload (Part 1):Radio documentaries, comedy, and interviews about mothers and women from John Hodgman, This American Life, Radiolab, Mom's Open Mic, and Anne Lamott ...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 15 weeks ago
From bands singing about their mothers and songwriters promoting women's empowerment, to songs about reference mothers and girls and odes to the divine feminine, we give you Music for Mother's Week (Part 1) with contributions from Dawes, Iron & Wine, Bob Dylan, J. Tillman, Roger Waters and Sinead O'Connor and U2. style="position: absolute; top: 12px; width: 1px; height: 1px; overflow: hidden; left: -1000px;"> 
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 15 weeks ago
May the 4th be with you! Today we present some of our favorite bits of Star Wars floating around the cybersphere.... Yoda talking in proper English -- C3-PO and R2-D2 give a public service announcement -- the galaxy's guide to yoga -- cello wars -- Dr. Suess' take on characters -- Darth Vadar as a good father -- and many more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 15 weeks ago
Parks and Recreation star Aziz Ansari fools Anderson Cooper with a look-alike -- a child and a lion encounter one another at a Portland zoo -- Virgin airlines debutes new ice cubes -- Bruce Springsteen honors Levon Helm andThe Band -- and zingers in new form: Ayn Randers. See these and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 16 weeks ago
The constructive mirror makeover -- the theology of Reinhold Bieber -- the most elaborate one-man-band you've ever seen -- Father John Misty -- and urban plant tags. See more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Nicole Higgins, Joshua Witchger 2 years 16 weeks ago
When I moved to Washington, D.C., I—like perhaps most other 20-somethings—imagined this place as a hub of both political thought and non-profit zeal; the coexistence of both worlds, all to change society. Lofty ideals, right? Perhaps.Ideal, meet the venue Busboys and Poets plus friends and co-laborers in the fight for justice: Faiths Act, ONE, Malaria No More, and the 9/11 Unity Walk. Last night, a handful of musicians and spoken-word artists united in faith and activism under a common cause: World Malaria Day concert for Sierra Leone.
Posted by Cathleen Falsani, Joshua Witchger 2 years 16 weeks ago
A playlist for the working class: Ten songs in honor of May Day and workers everywhere.John Lennon, "Working Class Hero"This song from John Lennon's first post-Beatles solo album, 1970's John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, is about working class folks being "processed" into the middle class or the "machine," according to what Lennon told Rolling Stone magazine in an interview the same year the album released. "A working class hero is something to be," is the song's mantra and refrain.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 16 weeks ago
Melvin the Traveling Mini Machine -- Kickstarter's transformative mission -- and "A History of Whisteling," in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 16 weeks ago
Aussie grandma performs The Black Keys on spoons -- LA riots appear on Twitter 20 years later -- Stephen Colbert and Jack White meet again on The Report -- TED and NPR team to deliver new podcast -- a capella renditions of pop songs -- the interactive scale of the universe -- and The African Queen steamboat (of Bogart/Hepburn fame) is rescued from the junk heap. Read this and more on today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 16 weeks ago
Happy 227th Birthday to ornithologist and painter John J. Audubon -- find your voice with the public radio name generator -- a rescued collie dog's survival story -- Australia's duck fashion parade -- the cast of 30 Rock plays charades -- new music from J. Tillman and The Welcome Wagon. Read these stories and more in today's Links of Awesomeness... 
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 16 weeks ago
In the 2012 race for the presidency, religious voters will continue to be watched closely.According to Gallup’s latest poll, Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by 17 points among “very religious voters.” These voters are those who attend religious services on a weekly basis (or nearly every week), and are estimated to constitute 41 percent of registered voters.On the other hand, the report shows that Barack Obama has a 14 point lead among “moderately religious voters” and a 31 point lead among “non-religious voters.”But this really isn’t anything new. Gallup reports that these findings “reinforce a basic pattern in American voting behavior that has been evident for decades.” The highly religious favor the Republican, the not-quite-as-religious favor the Democrat. This also confirms previous Gallup findings in their "state of the state" report, last month.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 17 weeks ago
High School students send a rubber chicken into space -- Fresh Prince's Alfonso Ribiero leads largest dance flash mob -- vintage mugshots available online -- John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton's sentimental duet -- President Obama 'slow jams the news' with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots. See this and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 17 weeks ago
Between Two Ferns to become a television show -- moves to get in shape before attending summer music festivals -- Muppets protest Goldman Sachs -- and Nick Offerman reads celelbrity tweets on Conan... Read this and more on today's Links of Awesomeness... 
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 17 weeks ago
On Monday evening Wendell Berry delivered the 41st annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities, sponsored by the National Endowment of the Humanities, at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. According to the NEH, this is “the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities.”In front of hundreds, Berry took his place among former recipients (Walker Percy, Toni Morrison, Arthur Miller, John Updike, and many others) to deliver a resonating essay on the beauty of place, imagination, and pleasure, titled “It All Turns on Affection.” The title hinges on E.M. Forster’s 1910 novel Howards End, which Berry said, takes some of its thrust as a “manifesto against materialism.”
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 17 weeks ago
Hackers transform multi-story building into giant game of Tetris -- 5th Avenue Frogger combines the arcade with real time traffic -- Jimmy Fallon releases a treat on Record Store Day -- tribute to The Band at Coachella Festival -- "Potter Musical" turns ambitions to Batman -- Bill Nye dances to his own theme song -- children narrate BBC's Planet Earth. See this and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 17 weeks ago
Bon Iver stops by The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Roots produce a short video with friends encouraging literacy, an aerial view of symmetry, remembering Dick Clark, a public service announcement for class clowns, and the newest from Danish TV "Stupidity captured at 2500 frames per second." Read this and more on today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 18 weeks ago
Children's Medieval band shows adorable talent, interactive posters for Wes Anderson's new film, Cathedral ceiling art, and some good cat videos... Discover this and more on today's Links of Awesomeness...
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 18 weeks ago
A new survey released today shows that President Barack Obama holds a narrow lead over Gov. Mitt Romney in economic issues among voters—a topic that eight in 10 voters believe to be very important.The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reports that on economic issues, 49 percent of voters favor Obama while 45 percent favor Romney. In these statistics, Romney holds a 53-point lead among white evangelicals and a 20-point lead among white Catholics, while Obama garners strong support from black Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated.As voters head to the polls in November, numbers show that for many voters, issues of employment and the economy will take priority over social issues like gay marriage and abortion.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 18 weeks ago
All your links for tax day 2012: infographic of last years stats, some of the oddest deductions that were accepted, businesses giving away free products, and superheroes filing taxes. Plus composer John Cage meets actor Nic Cage, Michael Jordan and the problem of common surnames, Pultizer Prize winners, and Disney's Chimpanzees.
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 18 weeks ago
With tax day approaching, read about some of the more bizzaire tax laws. X-ray images of deep sea creatures. House pets meet their mirror images in plush form. Flying car to visit International Auto Show. Explaining the smell of old books. Garth and Kat sing into springtime ... Discover these and more links in today's Links of Awesomeness ... 
Posted by Joshua Witchger 2 years 18 weeks ago
Stream Coachella this weekend in YouTube, 17 musicians inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, playable Star Wars organ, signs of the apocalypse, art installations, and LOST as a sitcom. See this and more in today's Links of Awesomeness...