What I’m Reading: Battle Cry of Freedom, James McPherson

By Liam Farrell '04

It’s summer when I think about the Civil War. I think of childhood trips with dappled sunlight on Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam and the cool touch of Devil’s Den boulders at Gettysburg. So nostalgia, probably more than intellectual curiosity, is what led me to start reading James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.

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What I’m Reading: In the Woods, Tana French

By Liam Farrell '04

I’ve increasingly spent time with aspirational genre fiction, the spy novel or murder mystery that is far better than its neighboring peers on nearby bookshelves but will never be confused with Faulkner. And if you throw a story about Ireland into the mix, well, I’ll be ready to plop down some money for the trip. That’s how I came recently to reading In the Woods by Tana French.

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Art on the fly

By Liam Farrell '04

Music has always been one of the best parts of my life: I love listening to it; I love playing it. But nothing compares to seeing it performed live, witnessing the voice and persona of an artist spring to life beyond the stereo and stand in front of you and countless others, willing to give creating art on the fly a try.

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My Back Pages: Swingers

By Liam Farrell '04

Recently, while procrastinating on packing for my now completed move from Indiana to Maryland, I caught part of the 1996 movie Swingers on television, an occasion that recalled one of the stranger cultural zeitgeists of my lifetime.

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The beauty behind the numbers

By Liam Farrell '04

At Notre Dame, teacher-student bonds are likeliest to form over classes devoted to big questions, like debating the existence of God or the ethics of a business decision or a political policy. What makes Connolly’s binder remarkable — at least to anyone who lives each day in fear of numbers — is that all of these relationships were fashioned through math.

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Fact in your fiction

By Liam Farrell '04

With a childhood in the waning days of the Cold War and adulthood in the 9/11 era, it’s a wonder it took so long for me to fall into John le Carré’s world of spies, bureaucrats and the regular people caught in their webs.

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My Back Pages: On Being Bald in Summer

By Liam Farrell '04

When the sun finally makes its annual reappearance for spring in South Bend, there is much justified rejoicing. But when you are a bald man, the celebration is blunted by the challenges warmer weather brings to those with a cleaner pate.

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Address for success

By Liam Farrell '04

There might not be a more universally feared and derided form of communication than the commencement address. Every spring, individuals of various altitudes of notoriety and self-awareness have to stand in the heat talking to the legions of the sunburned and the hungover, charged with inspiring them in (preferably) 30 minutes or less.

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My Back Pages: Oz and the Lure of Origins

By Liam Farrell '04

There is a lot to support the idea that Hollywood and pop culture are becoming ever more repetitive and unimaginative, with seemingly every film cannibalizing already popular books or just remaking older films. But what Oz and its ilk prove is how much we can always fall in love with an origin story.

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My Back Pages: Mad Men

By Liam Farrell '04

A simple brilliance lies at the heart of the AMC show Mad Men, which premiered for what will likely be its sixth and penultimate season this week. For a show that is fundamentally about identity and the process of creating, destroying or denying who we are, is there a better setting than an advertising agency?

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My Back Pages: Ten years of unseen war

By Liam Farrell '04

In a warm, wooden dockside pub frequented by sailors and stevedores, a German, who claimed to be a veteran of his country’s navy, wandered over to a table occupied by two American students traveling through the north. Old, ragged and largely inebriated, he talked to them about what everyone in Europe that year eventually talked to them about: the United States’ impending invasion of Iraq.

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My Back Pages: Season of Discontent

By Liam Farrell '04

There are a lot of reasons to hate winters in South Bend, be it the interminable snowfall, the feeling that sunshine is a fictional creation, or the chilling wind that pounds your face no matter what direction you are heading into. But for a man who loves loafers, this is a real season of discontent.

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My Back Pages: Academy Awards

By Liam Farrell '04

By now, the only thing more culturally insufferable than the Academy Awards is criticism of the Academy Awards. The explosion of instantaneous feedback on Twitter and blogs during and in the aftermath of the inevitably disappointing show has turned the entire evening into a snake eating its tail.

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Catfishing

By Liam Farrell '04

A group of young men stand waiting on a rural New York state driveway, looking both ways down a road for the approach of a mystery woman. One of them has already fallen in love with her, despite never actually meeting in person.

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Style and the Internet

By Liam Farrell '04

I’m going to start by saying that as I write this, I am, in fact, wearing red pants. If that strikes you as ludicrous, you probably won’t believe that even though I have never been to Italy, last week I was able to escape a few times a day from South Bend to Florence.

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A burden too heavy

By Liam Farrell '04

Notre Dame Stadium is quiet now, its bones chilled in the winter winds, its ghosts sitting on hard benches and looking with longing eyes at a snow-covered field. There will be no new banner for them to gaze upon this year, no new statue or monument. For the Fighting Irish finally met their match and lost to Alabama.

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A Notre Dame football victory wish

By Liam Farrell '04

I’ve often wondered if Harper, Dorais and Rockne knew when they stepped on the field to play Army a century ago whether it would become a defining moment in the history of Notre Dame. It’s hard not to wonder the same as the Fighting Irish take the field tonight against Alabama.

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BCS party time

By Liam Farrell '04

I have heard tales of times when bowl games were not giant, multiday events filled with sponsors and tents and merchandise. I assume those days were both sepia-toned and anodyne. Also, the exact opposite of what’s been happening in Miami. If you want spectacle, you couldn’t do much better than here.

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Aftermath of Sandy Hook

By Liam Farrell '04

Everyone has a story of an event that first brought the world to bear on them. Luckily, for most of us, we grapple with the larger meaning of tremendous national or international tragedy as secondhand spectators. Our suffering as an audience pales to those directly involved and is a background tapestry to our more personal sorrows.

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The Lost Generation

By Liam Farrell '04

I am a member of the Lost Generation of Notre Dame Football. We entered Notre Dame and graduated between 1994 and 2012. The names we remember aren’t Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Eliot. They are Davie, Willingham and Weis.

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This Man’s Style Guide

By Liam Farrell '04

Our own Liam Farrell ’04 heads to the Manhattan offices of the iconic GQ and finds some Notre Dame alums helping define and refine the look and good taste of the contemporary male.

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Leading Man

By Liam Farrell '04

Thom Browne ’88, one of the pre-eminent names in men’s clothing, certainly did put the “show” into fashion show this year. Models paraded down the runway with exaggerated shoulders or spiked masks, donning pastel pink and green suits, and clothes dotted with ducks, dogs and safety pins.

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