I'll Take "Potpourri" for $200, Alex.

Just to give you a sense of how February1 has gone: on more than one occasion this month, I’ve put the dirty clothes in the washer, added detergent, set the temp and time, then walked away before ever hitting “start.” There is nothing quite like opening the machine, sticking your arms in to gather the clothes, then realizing they are bone dry. Again.

I suspect we’re all having that sort of month, even if our brains are shorting out around different things. Hang in there, y’all. Soon it will be spring2 and this part of the year will be a distant memory none of us can remember.

Because of the aforementioned fog,3 I don’t have a coherent long-winded recommendation for just one thing. Instead, I have a couple of shorter-winded recommendations for many things plus a revisit on last week’s thing. Hooray?

Thing 1: I bring this to your attention only to make myself happy. Most of the TV shows I have loved4 are canceled far too soon. So I’m going to get vocal about Mr. Mayor, in the hope that it’ll make it into a second season. I have no information that it is in danger, mind, but if the last few years have taught me nothing else, it’s this: what you predict will happen is never what happens.

So. Mr. Mayor is a Tina Fey5/Robert Carlock production that stars Ted Danson as the newly elected Los Angeles Mayor. He’s great, mind, but what makes it work are the roles around him, like Holly Hunter as the left-of-left-leaning vice mayor and Vella Lovell as an uber-millennial assistant. If you only want to watch one episode, I recommend this one, which is a) really funny and b) really smart in its exploration of sexual harassment.6

For what it’s worth, working in local politics is a lot like a combo of Mr. Mayor and Parks and Rec, with the occasional Weather Channel documentary about extreme weather edited in where you least expect it.

Thing 2: Lots of people loved Hidden Valley Road, which is Robert Kolker’s non-fiction book about the Galvin family, who moved to Colorado Springs in the 1960s. Mom and Dad Galvin had 12 kids over two decades. Six of them were diagnosed with schizophrenia by the mid-1970s. There was, as you would imagine, fallout.

I wanted to like it. I really did. But I walked away satisfied-ish but wanting it to have been better in some ineffable way. Kolker keeps so many of the event’s at arm’s distance while also bringing them too close, somehow. What I really walked away with is what I already knew — there were no good treatments for severe mental illness until relatively recently7 and researchers are only beginning to wrap their heads about the smallest brick in this Rubik’s cube. If you’ve read this book, leave a comment. I’m trying to figure out if I am the outlier.

Thing 3: If you only listen to one economics-themed podcast about disasters, make it this one. I recommend all of Tim Harford’s work but that episode of his series Cautionary Tales is great, if wrenching.

The Revisit: Last week, I wrote about falling into a crevasse of Everest: Beyond the Limit. Now that I finished all three seasons, let me update y’all on the series as a whole: only the first two seasons8 are compelling.9 It turns out that I’m not into watching people climb Everest as much as I’m into watching Russell Brice coach people up Everest. The third season introduces a new expedition company and meh.10

So how is your brain doing right now? Leave a comment.

Leave a comment

Did you know I write books? Please buy one if you like what you’re reading or just mash that share button to spread the word.



(and most of 2020, frankly)


or fall, for my Aussie/Kiwi friends


which is such a problem right now that the New York Times noticed


Vale, Better Off Ted and The John Larroquette Show, to name but two


If I could have dinner with any celebrity, it would be her.




I had a psychiatrist once mention that until the last two decades, his job basically was to give thorazine at as high a dose as the most mentally ill person could tolerate and hope for the best. He said this not to be callous, mind, but to show how far research has come.


where they clearly had a budget of $3


to me. Your thoughts are your own.


A tidbit of trivia to know and share: Big Tim Medvetz, who came off like an entitled ass, briefly dated Cher and he’s formed a charity to help veterans climb mountains.