Hey, we’re halfway through the last month of the worst year in any of our lifetimes. This is what counts as positivity now. Next week is Christmas, so I’ll share the final edition of the Fall Out Boy Music Club this Friday so I don’t ruin anyone’s holiday with late-stage post-emo pop.
When you’re reading this, I’m probably sleeping, because I’m writing this on Thursday before a weekend of more driving across several states. I’m still in the process of helping clean out my grandpa’s house to get it ready to sell. So if some horrible news broke before this newsletter came out, know that it was written in the past and I’m not ignoring it on purpose.
But in the past, when I’m writing this, I have some good recs in store. A lot of good reads this week!
Hollywood news: choose your own adventure!
Do you want to read a charming profile of a former 90s heartthrob who’s since become a sensible family man? If so, I can’t recommend the Los Angeles Times’ interview with Hugh Grant enough. The man is delicious. (True Hugh-heads will also appreciate this supercut of every time he stammered through Richard Curtis’s script for Notting Hill.)
Or are you in the mood for a very dark profile a former 90s heartthrob who’s since become a demon-riddled disgrace? If so, I must point you to the Hollywood Reporter’s inside look at Johnny Depp’s decline. It doesn’t introduce much that couldn’t be gleaned from Stephen Rodrick’s explosive 2018 profile for Rolling Stone (except the revelation that Depp apparently slept with Keira Knightley, Angelina Jolie, and Marion Cotillard in the past decade) but it does reveal how dysfunctional Depp has been for years and how those in his circle enabled it.
Political news: choose your own bummer
I’m sorry! These are both really insightful! Even though they’re stressful!
If you missed Jane Mayer’s horrific piece on Dianne Feinstein’s cognitive decline, it raises such an important point about how old the Senate is, especially Senate Democrats. It’s infuriating, and I really hope that the attention from this piece leads to change, because decorum has prevented colleagues and reporters from delving into the issue. I also want to shout out an interview in Jacobin with David Roth, the best reporter of the Trump years. Roth reflects on the end of this era with characteristic clarity, but I especially appreciate his analysis of the many, many ways the Democratic Party is failing. In light of the Feinstein news, it’s even more galling.
This year in celebrities wilding out
I first wrote about celebrities losing their minds in containment on March 20th. God bless those famous people for carrying on with month after month of pure nonsense! So I absolutely adored Yomi Adegoke’s very funny recap of what she calls “these displays of ‘celebrities; they’re absolutely nothing fucking like us’ disconnectedness.” She not only lists some of the greatest hits from clueless celebs from throughout the year, but also analyzes why the public no longer feels much loyalty to formerly beloved figures like Ellen DeGeneres and Kristen Bell.
I learned a LOT about vaccine development and public health decisions from David Wallace-Wells’ piece for Intelligencer, “We Had the Vaccine the Whole Time.” While I expected to be much more infuriated by it from the title, I instead remain about the same amount of infuriated I’ve been. And this part actually gave me a lot of hope!:
A layperson might look at the 2020 timelines and question whether, in the case of an onrushing pandemic, a lengthy Phase III trial — which tests for efficacy — is necessary. But the scientists I spoke to about the way this pandemic may reshape future vaccine development were more focused on how to accelerate or skip Phase I, which tests for safety. More precisely, they thought it would be possible to do all the research, development, preclinical testing, and Phase I trials for new viral pandemics before those new viruses had even emerged — to have those vaccines sitting on the shelf and ready to go when they did. They also thought it was possible to do this for nearly the entire universe of potential future viral pandemics — at least 90 percent of them, one of them told me, and likely more.
For less than $3 billion, the government could fund R&D on all viruses with pandemic potential and have possible vaccines just ready to go! They should!
Thanks to this tweet, I have discovered that hermit crabs FORM A LINE in SIZE ORDER to exchange shells when a bigger shell is available for someone to upgrade!! (One Twitter user described this succinctly as “crab mutual aid.”) To be perfectly honest, I do find crabs’ bodies mildly repulsive, but I still was fascinated by the David Attenborough-narrated documentation of this phenomenon. Their minds!!
That’s all for this week and I leave you with this:
This week last year:
“Friendmendations 12.16.19” — why kids are fascinated by garbage trucks, why one man is fascinated by the prospect of dying on hover shoes, a hideously funny comic, cosplay on a shoestring budget, and a song I like