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TRACK MARKS 2021: “Faith Healer” by Julien Baker

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.

Track Marks is a recurring feature that invites writers to briefly discuss a song that is meaningful to them in any way. Though they can appear on the site at any time, we always run a bunch of them around the turn of a new year, looking back at the previous year in music.

I cried a lot in 2021. I don’t think I’m alone in that. It was a uniquely dark time for many of us, when the continued isolation imposed by the pandemic began to feel less like a moral imperative and more like a congenital defect, particularly for those like me who live alone and already prone to depressive and defeatist thinking. We had hoped the year would go better. It had other plans. In times like this, sometimes it doesn’t really help to try and boost yourself up with positive and mindful self-talk that feels false or forced. Sometimes you just want to hear from someone who gets it. For me, that someone was Julien Baker.

In advance of the release of her third solo album Little Oblivions, Baker was remarkably candid about the personal struggles and demons that inspired it, from her evangelical upbringing to a series of addictions and relapses before she was even out of her teens. If there’s a self-flagellating aspect to her music, a punishing intensity not only to the lyrics but the musical compositions supporting them, there’s also a firsthand knowledge of unhealthy coping mechanisms that can make her seem like the gurus she’s questioning, a belief in herself that’s all the more compelling for how clearly fragile it is. No track embodies that better than “Faith Healer,” the record’s first single and its best song.

Like much of Baker’s music, it starts hushed, with a simple undulating guitar picking, her voice not entering the song so much as venturing into it. “Ooh I miss it high,” she croons, as if hesitant to invade its holy space with a confession of weakness. But, as with most confessions, once Baker starts it all begins flooding out: “What I wouldn’t give if it would take away the sting a minute. Everything I love, I’d trade it in to feel it rush into my chest.” If there’s anything an addict understands in her blood, it’s the seductive power of a quick fix. Whatever the vice might be, whether it’s a drug or a person or a belief system, there’s a relief in giving into it, blinding yourself to the delusion that maybe, this time, you can control the chaos being welcomed back in. The song itself mirrors this during the bridge as strings dart with increasing fervency, building to the cathartic invitation to connect, even, and perhaps especially, when it’s bad for you: “Come put your hands on me.” When she performed this live at one of the first shows I went to post-vaccine in September, the crowd lifted theirs as if the concert hall was a revival tent. And for the upteenth time that year, I cried. And I wasn’t alone in that.

The Podcast: Top Movies of Summer 1991

Jesse is a cofounder of even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

As promised, the panel of summer movie experts is back and bigger than ever, with no fewer than seven all-star contributors assembling (virtually) to discuss the biggest and not necessarily best movies of summer 1991. The panelists are Marisa, Ben, Nathaniel, Sara, Becca, Jeremy, and Jesse. The movies of summer 1991 include R-rated sci-fi action hits that also generated playground buzz from the preteen crowd; a jetpacked retro superhero; Billy Crystal having a midlife crisis; a whole lotta fire; and Kevin Costner in a mullet. And that’s not all! You’ll also find out how Becca’s dad preferred to watch Backdraft, how Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves changed Marisa’s life, how Boyz n the Hood holds up thirty years later, which beloved blockbuster(s) that Ben actually kinda hates, and more, more, more!

If you love hearing us talk about the movies of summer 1991 and long to hear different combinations of us discussing other summer movies of yore, here’s the complete history of this project:


We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

  • You can subscribe to our podcast using the rss feed.
  • I’m not sure why they allowed it, but we are on iTunes! If you enjoy what you hear, a positive comment and a rating would be great.
  • I don’t really know what Stitcher is, but we are also on Stitcher.
  • is a proud member of the Aha Radio Network. What is Aha? It’s kind of like Stitcher, but for your car.
  • You can download the mp3 of the Black Widow/Cruella episode here and the streaming-biz discussion episode here
  • Our most recent episode or two will sometimes be available on our Soundcloud. We don’t always have it working right but there’s good stuff there regardless!
  • You can listen to the episode in the player below.

The Girl Without the Harry Potter Tattoo

If Cristin could be described in one word, it would be: enthusiast. If you were allowed to use more than one word, you might choose or combine from a long list that includes writer, bookseller, and sales rep. She has some opinions she would like to share with you. Please note the proper spelling of her first name.
Latest posts by Cristin (see all)

Dear Harry Potter Tattoo I No Longer Plan to Get,

Didn’t we almost have it all.

You were meant to be tiny but I had big plans for you: featured player in at least a dozen Instagram stories within week 1; avoiding for as long as possible the phone call to my dad where I’d retract 18-year-old Cristin’s promise to Never Get Another One; a life lived on my left forearm a respectful distance away from my (existing) Shel Silverstein tattoo. I can picture it perfectly even though I can’t picture you; I never decided between the stylized minimalist snitch, the classic lightning bolt scar/ glasses combo, the deathly hallows, the sorting hat, or any still-unmasked dark horse contestant that had yet to grace my Pinterest feed. I should thank my design indecision for your absence–I wavered right up to the pandemic quarantine, where I couldn’t have gotten a tattoo if I wanted it, even if I had decided on a design, even if J.K. Rowling hadn’t imploded, forfeiting her place on a ton of readers’ mental bookshelf of heroes and teaching me that permanent icon status doesn’t exist, at least not outside of Joan Didion. We can all still agree on Joan Didion, thank god. Somehow I still don’t see Later I Forgot or You Sit Down To Dinner and Life As You Know It Ends quote art taking over for Always or I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good on anyone’s tattoo power rankings any time soon.

We can likely expect a tattoo baby boom post-pandemic, both from all of the tattoos not gotten in quarantine (I still can’t believe that the women of this world were asked to deal with RBG’s death without immediate and abundant access to dissent collar tattoos) plus all the mulling-over time we’ve all had at home. There was newfound free time to devote to things like tattoo selection, and things like tattoo selection to allow us to think about permanence, if it even exists, without looking at the concept head-on and punching a one-way ticket to an existential crisis. After a year in a world that bares absolutely no resemblance to its predecessor, the one we thought was indelible and enduring and were categorically wrong about, I can’t think about permanence without feeling like I’m staring into the sun or holding my hand too close to the stove. I can only look at permanence sideways, through philosophical scrims like body art and Sharpies and bad credit histories.

I’m still working through my feelings on Rowling, hoping to talk myself into believing that the books are each of ours as much as they are hers, which would allow me to keep a pensieve’s worth of happy memories and associations that would be a fantastic consolation prize for Tattoos Never Gotten like yourself. Maybe there are places I can go for help, support groups filled with people who still have framed Woody Allen movie posters and who like the Weinstein seasons of Project Runway better than the recent iterations. Maybe in these groups I’ll come to grips with having lost something that I wanted to stay a permanent part of me, something much bigger than just the idea of a someday tattoo.

There’s no sign of you on me, and there won’t be, but I’m left with plenty of Potter inked on my insides, in my personal permanent collection. I’m also left with a vacancy in the spot you surrendered. Tell Frog & Toad they’ll be hearing from me.

Take care, and I’m sure I’ll see you on a BuzzFeed list soon.

The Podcast: Mixtapes of Yore

Jesse is a cofounder of even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Inspired by a recent A.V. Club Q&A, Sara suggested that one of our quarantine-recorded podcast episodes might involve looking back on the (lost?) art of the mix. The painstaking process of committing various songs to cassette tape may be all but dead in most of the world, but it lives on in our otherwise chilly little hearts, so Sara, Ben, Marisa, and Jesse got together (virtually) to discuss mix-making and all of its attendant rules and emotional landmining. Nostalgia rules on this episode that offers a peak into our various high school, college, and adult-nerd experiences! As a bonus, Marisa and I have included the full picture of our first mixtapes to each other after the jump!

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

Continue reading The Podcast: Mixtapes of Yore

What Is

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!

It is not something akin to gin + Gatorade. That would be disgusting.

Is it even about sporting events? Is it even about spirits? Who’s to say?

It is not an excuse for its creators to write hit pieces about each other, though that might factor into it. Perhaps quite a bit.

It, like many of its peers, has a blank space on the sides and a narrow column in the middle. That’s where the good stuff goes, in case you didn’t know where to look.

It is not a long con. If someone gets set up and goes to jail when it’s all over, that’s just a side benefit.

It is not a get-rich-quick scheme, though its name is reminiscent of three things that often make people rich: sports, alcohol, and tech. (Yes, you always pronounce the “.com” in If you have a get-rich-quick scheme, send it to us for Shark Tank-style evaluation. Then again, if it’s legal and looks like it’ll work, we’ll probably steal it and do it without you.

It is not an idea that was submitted to us and stolen. Most of the time—with one notable exception—when people get the idea for, they keep it to themselves.