Outside In

Two very dear friends of mine were diagnosed with Covid in the last month.  They were being very careful, whatever that means, but clearly not careful enough.

That is because careful enough means pretty much not leaving your home and, in the rare cases that you do, wearing a full series of KN95/94 masks and/or Hazmat suit AND a gas mask while staying 5-10 feet away from anything living, aside from yourself.

And that latter point is clearly debatable.

Getting my list together now

Yes, I exaggerate – but barely.  That is why whenever possible my action of choice is to, indeed, pretty much… not leave my home.

Now let’s be clear.  One of those friends is fully Covid recovered and the other one is less than a week in and doing quite well after a shot of those magic monoclonal antibodies.

Nevertheless I’ve made an executive decision.  At this point in my life I don’t want to take the chance of getting a virus where there’s a chance I can have brain fog that lingers any more than my actual age-related brain fog already does.


Incidentally, I spoke to a neurologist friend about the latter pre-pandemic and in so many words he plainly told me that, no, Prevagen, the much advertised over the counter memory booster, doesn’t work.  Not to mention, all that stuff about natural vitamin supplements like gingko biloba helping me remember where I put my keys is snake oil.

Okay, he didn’t say exactly that. 

But when I proposed to him taking either of the two, or several others, he paused, smiled very slyly to himself or to me, I couldn’t tell which, and said,

Will taking them make you feel better? 

I tentatively replied,

Maybe at one point, but not after this conversation.

To which he smiled again while I simultaneously cried inside, and definitely to myself.


Since there’s no way out in the way(s) that I used to go out (Note: Crowded restaurants where you can eat family style, or even put an attractive stranger’s fork in your mouth from the next table after they offer you a bite of something luscious (use your imagination)), I’m once again making the most of staying in and watching TV and movies on the big ass screen my husband and I bought during the first pandemic and are, yes, still paying for.

This is a luxury, I know.  As is being able to work from home most of the time and not go into an office everyday.  Not to mention, being in debt.

Yet can’t we have anything after four years of Trump, the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the decimation of Ukraine by the f-ckhead also known as Putin, AND the fact that now and forever I have to spend my life being in awe of and appreciative for Liz Cheney and her courage???

Yes, Dustin, we are in the upside down. Send down the sheet.

I say yes. (Note: With a whine)

So, here’s what I’ve re-discovered in the last few semi-quarantined weeks and nights watching BIG ASS TV.  My taste in movies and TV pretty much entirely depends on what I’m going through at the time and what is happening in the world around me. 

This week I discovered an absolutely perfect, eight episode, half-hour streaming show on Hulu called The Bear.  It’s about a very young, hot, famous chef – recently rated the #1 young chef in America, whose drug addict cook brother left him the run down, financially failing neighborhood lunch place that’s been in their family for years after committing suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Sounds like an upper, right?

Except, well, it is.

Messy but good!

All that fried food and meat (Note: I don’t even eat meat anymore!) and chocolate cakes are sustenance.  They’re the affirmation of life in a much too contained space.  The way the camera franticly moves from station to station and through the lives of each poor schnook stuck working there as it peels back their pains and pleasures is like looking into a mirror of everything you feel these days in one day all at once.

I admit the series is messy and the sweat and speed at which the ingredients and story points unfold can be dizzying and almost too homemade.  But that is exactly what makes it a must-see.  It made me less crazy knowing that the intensity of the times, whatever those times may be, affects everyone trying to work through it (even the food), in oddly affecting ways.

Fat Chance!

What I didn’t care for as much was the much-touted 2022 feature, Everything Everywhere All At Once.  And no, it’s not because I didn’t see it in a movie theatre on a MORE big ass screen.  It’s because, well, there were no rules and too many options and worlds and I kind of got the point after the first 35 minutes.

Michelle Yeoh is great as the matriarch of the local Chinese laundry whose life has become dronish to the point of self-evaporation.  As is the rest of the cast – her nerdish hubby, exasperated lesbian daughter, disapproving father.  And can we talk about an unrecognizable Jamie Lee Curtis as their crazy IRS auditor?

Talk about delicious.

Hot dog fingers and all!

Yet the so many fantastical trips the movie takes them on as fantastically different versions of themselves, seemingly endless roads and planes of existence not traveled so Yeoh can eventually __________ the ___________ is just…tedious.

I have just now lost every one of my film and TV students, I know.  But hear me out.  The movie works on its own terms but not for where I am at the moment.  If I’m going to go on fantastical journeys stuck in my house I want to feel like there’s a

logic and a point to it – even if there isn’t.  Illogical thinking is what got us here in the first place.  It’s what’s cursed us, not saved us.  I like lunacy as much as the next shut-in but when anything is possible and no one dies or is punished because of your clearly crazed actions in the name of your cause, then it’s hard to see how any of us will better our lives, much less survive, the insanity of this insane world, er, plane/plain.

Not even the rocks, Chairy??

Another hard pass for me is this third season of Amazon’s The Boys, a series I’ve loved up to this point. 

Sorry, I don’t want to see Homelander, the nihilistic most powerfully crazed superhero in the world who is also secretly an emotionally weak, weepy, family-starved man-boy, become the Trump-like leader on of  an alt-right following on steroids. 

It’s easy, uninspired and ultimately uninteresting.  Even with his blonde streaks, stars and stripes and overly long, er, cape. 


We live in a world of comic book actions.  All we need to do is turn on the TV or read a news story any day of the week.  Simply giving a Trump substitute a literal superpower makes him as infuriating and un-fascinating as the real thing. 

The lack of nuance of the heroes and villains this season also feels like really odd timing.  Given the urgency of all of our lives, you’d think the writers would want to find deeper, below the surface similarities, as they have in the past, and attempt to come up with something new and different., or at least bizarre (Note: Remember the season one nipple suckling?)  Even if, as in real life, what gets served up, doesn’t all work. 

Because if I wanted to see superficiality and silliness I’d go on Twitter and read a tweet from Marjorie Taylor-Greene or Jim “Gym” Jordan.   At the very least they could have created a super villain named Musk.  Or  DeSantis. 

aka Clown Parade

So it is with no regret that in my constant swirl of platform surfing I came upon an old, dependable favorite I’ve written about before.  It’s a series I first discovered on the Gramps Channel – ION – eight years ago.  A CBS show I NEVER watched first run but became addicted to in a year of reruns in the mid-2010s – Cold Case.

Now Cold Case was never available on DVD and seldom on cable over the years, mostly because of its music rights.  When you use the original recordings from artists like Springsteen and Nirvana, among dozens of others, to recreate the soundtrack to unsolved, imagined period crimes, you’ve pretty much limited your options.  Even though you’ve made the wisest of creative choices.

But given the joint partnerships and side deals that has infected so many producers, studios and streaming platforms (Note: Like a virus!!) ALL EIGHT SEASONS of Cold Case are available for the first time ever at any time, day or place with a paid subscription fee via HBO MAX.

And the angels sang!

I cannot tell you what this has done for self-imposed shut-ins like me who long to see a 45-minute crime story where the dead and/or murdered get justice to the tune of a pop song we know and/or have loved.  Even better is that empathic, tough as nails but with a soft underside, homicide detective of long forgotten “cold” cases, Lily Rush (Kathryn Morris) literally gets to SEE the imagined GHOST IMAGE of that dead person breathe a sigh of relief or sometimes literally tip a cap (Note: As Season #1’s gay-bashed homosexual baseball player in the early 1960s did) when their case is FINALLY solved decades later.

I could literally watch hours and hours and hours and hours of it in one sitting.  As I clearly have.

Don’t judge me!

No, it’s not real life at all.  It’s BETTER.  Especially when you’re stuck inside.

We regular people always win in some sort of small way at the end and the bad people are ALWAYS made to pay, often grandly.

It will FOREVER work for me.  Masked or unmasked.

Beyoncé – “Break My Soul”

Box Office Avoidance

I don’t feel ready to go back to a movie theatre and it’s making me a little crazy. 

Check that. 

I’ve always been a little crazy, in an engaging sort of way, but I’ve gone a lot crazier in the last 18+ pandemic months partly because I don’t have life at the local cinema to help me out.

Right.  I know. 

Not me at all, I swear

Theatres are open and I’m thrice vaccinated and boosted as much as any human can be at this point. 

What that means is that even if I were to contract COVID the overwhelming odds are I wouldn’t be hospitalized and, statistically, am pretty much immune from dying by its ugly hand.

Nevertheless, sitting inside for 2-3 hours in a mask with a room full of people I don’t know doesn’t seem like an escape from crazy to me.  It feels like gilding the lily of crazy. 

And, I suspect, I’m not alone. 

Plus, how am I supposed to eat popcorn like this?

Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story,” about as want-to-see and hyped as any holiday movie can be (Note: The exception being something Marvel-ous) opened to about 4.1 million at the domestic box-office on Friday and is expected to gross about $10.1 million in its first weekend of release.

To translate those numbers into industry parlance, that means AWFUL. 

There are lots of reasons and analyses of this you can read here that will recount it far more articulately, hopefully and in more length than any mere blog such as this one will allow.

It’ll be a slow build, the weeks before Christmas are never great box-office, Spielberg films tend to sustain much longer than others, blah, blah, blah…

Digging into the archives for this one

But here’s what I do know.  For sure.

The audience for this movie is majority older adults, despite it’s youthful casting, and as far as that’s concerned I’m Telling You, the majority of us older Americans mostly Aren’t Goin’ out to the movies.

Oh Chairy, I see what you did there

This may or may not be rational but in every way and more this is the correct assessment of the situation.  For the time being.  And probably longer than that.

Sure, sometime during the Christmas season I just might decide, on the spur of the moment, to attend an 11am showing at a theatre on a Monday or Tuesday (Note: traditionally the slowest movie going days) in a reserved seat far, far, FAR away from anybody else. 

But this will only happen if the box-office numbers for WSS don’t build, and indeed plummet, probably into CATS: THE MOVIE territory.

Don’t bring me into this

More likely is I will wait until I can rent the film on a streaming platform or attend a small, select industry screening at an off hour where you have to prove you’ve been triple vaccinated. 

And there have so far been few, if any, of the latter events on my industry invite docket.

(Note: Industry invite docket being any email, phone call or overheard conversation within eye or ear shot that sounds even vaguely appealing to this very, very VERY crazy, quite desperate housebound me).

I’m keeping busy in the meantime

I’m told by some of my friends that it’s not wise to live this way and that you only live once.   I tend to be ruled by the latter and to that I do emphatically reply, Um….YEAH.  YOU SAID, IT, I DIDN’T.  AND NOW I DON’T HAVE TO!!

I guess it all comes down to risk/reward.  What are you willing to put up with and for how long?

Or as someone much smarter, wry and acerbic than me once said:  Is the f-king you’re getting, really worth the f-king you’re getting??

The Chair’s gettin’ saucy!

Historically it’s taken me a while to decide what the answer is to that one whenever I’m in a situation where I’m not pleased.  Though certainly I expect to revisit the issue as pandemic life proceeds with no end in sight. 

In the meantime, I can already rent Kenneth Branagh’s much talked about Belfast on Amazon for $19.99, and Meet the Ricardos will be available there on  Dec. 21.  The Hand of God, director Pablo Sorrentino’s (The Great Beauty) much ballyhooed new film drops on Netflix Dec. 15th.   And there is always a chance the Writers’ Guild and others will be sending out DVDs or codes I can pop in for things like Guillermo Del Toro’s new version of Nightmare Alley.

Don’t worry Benny, I got you on Netflix too

Yes, I know it’s better to view that one on the big screen but guess what?  Me and the hubby are not giving presents to each other this year and are instead using the money (and then some) to get a bigger, more streaming friendly flat screen (Note: 77” – but don’t call us size queens) at one of the MANY holiday sales.

It’s not the same as going out and being with other live people.   But the only mask you have to wear is the one you sometimes put on in front of your spouse instead of following through with every insidious, horrible thing you’re really thinking of doing to them.

….Oh, of course I’m only joshing!!!

Or am I???

2022 look, obviously

But before you answer, consider how crazy I’ve already confessed to being and just how much crazier I will get by the day. 

Who knows what those in my age group are capable of?

Even Spielberg, once he gets the final grosses.

West Side Story (2021) – “America”