COVID-19 No. 17: Being Able to Spot a ‘That Guy’ Has Never Been More Important

WHEN YOU’VE BEEN CONFINED to your house for six weeks, you take your victories where you can get ’em.

We’re bingeing our way through Veronica Mars, having plowed through the original three seasons, which aired in the mid-2000s, the Kickstarter-funded film from 2014, and a handful of episodes of the relaunched series, which began last year. Kristen Bell, Enrico Colantoni, and Jason Dohring reprise their roles as Veronica, her father, and her boyfriend, respectively, and with the exception of Doering’s leaner, ripped physique, the three look largely unchanged from a dozen or so years ago. Some of the regulars from those first three seasons are popping up here and there, too, and are also easily recognizable.


In the episode we watched the other night, Veronica met with a new character. He was completely unremarkable, a “Guy No. 2” in the credits, until he began speaking and a growing familiarity took hold in me.

I don’t know if it’s like this with your family and friends, but among my set, the bragging rights conferred by being the first to spot a relatively obscure actor in a new setting are exquisite.

“Pause!” I said. “PAUSE! It’s that guy!”

Q. grabbed the remote and hit the button, and the screen froze. Isn’t that, I asked, the [name of a tertiary character who had appeared in maybe a third of the episodes from season 3]? He was hardly recognizable. In the ensuing decade-plus, he had gained a fair amount of weight (no judgy!) and gotten a hell of a lot shaggier. But I spotted him! And when I mentioned the character’s name, my family lauded me as if I were Nick Foles after the Philly Special.

When I came down the next morning, I told Mrs. D, “I still can’t believe I was able to pick out [the character’s name] from the show last night.”

“You’re still riding that?” she said — completely correctly. “That’s what we’re celebrating these days?”

Okay, point taken. My exultation may have been disproportionate to my announcement. Still, six weeks into isolation, yup, that’s what we’re celebrating. A win is a win, even if it’s utterly meaningless. | DL

COVID No. 7: I Keep Using the Word ‘Normal’ …

HERE’S MY PRIMARY TAKEAWAY after a week of all this:

Whatever you can do that safely, responsibly reflects your prior coronavirus activities, do it. Do it often, do it eagerly, do it with intention.

That’s what gonna keep us sane and ready to pick up when the risk is behind us.

Yesterday, that meant a walk, a nap, and a visit with dear friends/family, with whom we observed appropriate social-distancing guidelines while we sat on their patio, luxuriated in the early-spring late-afternoon sun, had a few drinks, and laughed our asses off. It meant ordering takeout pizza, stromboli, cheesesteaks, and fries from our favorite local shop, watching Veronica Mars reruns while we ate, and playing Balderdash to finish the night.

Today it meant finishing an intriguing, thoughtful novel, catching up on some work, taking another nap, and cooking dinner.

It was all, once I yanked my head out of Twitter and news sites and such, delightfully normal. And normal is our friend, now more than ever. Normal will help see us through this, help us to realize that there is a lot more under our control than we might think. This is no small thing.

Control what you can, let the rest go, be kind, compassionate, forgiving, generous, and understanding, and we will get through this. I don’t know what waits for us on the other side, but that’s of little concern now. Focus on today. Focus on what matters. | DL

The Great Gadsby

Or, Why ‘Stand-Up’ In No Way Describes ‘Nanette’


PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE WATCH Hannah Gadsby’s new Netflix special, Nanette. Please.

Especially if you’re a straight white guy.

Even if you’re a woke straight white guy.

It’s that good. And that important.

Gadsby’s much-buzzed show, filmed live at the Sydney Opera House, is a gut-punch tour-de-force. It is trenchant storytelling at its finest, masquerading as stand-up comedy. And it needs to be seen, by all of us.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that Gadsby isn’t funny. Far from it. In Nanette she is hilarious, mixing deft self-deprecation with sly skewers of a whole range of people who deserve it. There’s an especially witty bit involving art history, of all things.

So, yeah, Gadsby is funny.

Until she’s not. Then she is searingly honest and courageously, extraordinarily vulnerable, demanding that her audience not only hear her story, but also help her to carry it, because she can no longer do it by herself. When she shares it, you understand why you have to lend a hand. You get why being quietly decent and tolerant just isn’t good enough.

Nanette is, like Gadsby herself, entertaining, passionate, humorous, sad, furious, deeply felt, and smart as hell. It deserves to be seen. She deserves to be heard — and helped.

So please watch it. | DL

Severance Hackage, or Why Kenny Cosgrove Has No One But Himself to Blame


AMONG THE MANY entertainments of Mad Men is the train-wreck thrill of watching its talented, pretty characters self-destruct in spectacular fashion. They smoke too much, drink too much, work too much, and sleep with the wrong people over and over and over again. But what secondary character Ken Cosgrove did in Sunday’s episode makes Don’s, Peggy’s, Roger’s, Pete’s, and Joan’s transgressions look like harmless, impish fun.

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Family Wise, or How Watching the Right TV Is Bringing Us Together

Amazing-Race-PhilUNLIKE THE HOUSEHOLD in which I grew up, we’re not a watch-TV-every-night kind of family. When it is on, we try to make our viewing a communal activity. Although it’s tempting to let the girls zone out in front of Nickelodeon or Disney Channel while we attack our respective to-do lists, J. and I are cognizant of the fact that our jobs keep us from parenting as actively as we’d like. Relegating the TV to babysitter status is not something we’re keen on.

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Why Linus Van Pelt Deserves Coal in his Stocking


CHARLES M. Schulz gives us Linus Van Pelt as the moral center of his seminal holiday special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Especially compared to his sister, Lucy, a sociopathic bully (“I oughta slug you,” “I’ll give you five good reasons,” etc.) if ever there was one, Linus — gentle, counseling, scripture-quoting Linus — is the one who sets all of us on the right path. Linus is the voice of gentle, moderate decency, the single soul among the consumerist gaggle gathered in the schoolhouse auditorium who can see Christmas for what it is — and what it should be.

Except Linus is a douchebag.

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I’m Thankful That I Have Many Reasons to Give Thanks More Than Once a Year

THE FOLKS who research happiness say that regular reflections on gratitude improve one’s mindset. I wouldn’t mind an improved mindset, so I probably ought to think more often about what I’m thankful for. Many of my Facebook friends have spent each day this month posting about the things for which they’re grateful. But the best I can do right now is to offer this list today, Thanksgiving Day, about my gratitude, as I did last year.

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EXCLUSIVE: Eagles to Hire Texas High School Coach

Friday Night LightsDILLON, Tex. (AP) — The Philadelphia Eagles searched far and wide for their new head coach before finding their man deep in the heart of Texas.

Eric Taylor, head coach of the Dillon High School Panthers, will be named to replace Andy Reid, according to multiple sources.

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie declined comment, as did Taylor, reached at his home last night. Taylor abruptly hung up the phone when asked whether his extremely attractive wife, Tami, might happen to have a thing for early middle-aged bloggers.

While Taylor lacks the innovative football mind Lurie said he was seeking in his next coach, he is considered a superior motivator, an appealing trait for a team with numerous underperforming, high-priced free agents.

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‘A Voice That Was All Rage and Envy’

thumbsdownNOT LONG after I became a dad, contemporary, grown-up pop culture began fading from my radar. And so year-end best-of lists (movies, TV shows, songs, books, etc.) of the kind published over the last week hold much less sway with me these days. It’s hard to get excited over such things when you have lots of conversations that begin with “Remember that episode of Victorious when … ?”

Though I no longer read the content of such pieces, I have noticed that alongside the best-of lists, papers and magazines are running worst-ofs. This stinks.

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