That thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle that seemed random on Christmas morning is looking pretty good right now, isn’t it?
Like a good hitter in baseball, we adjust. We experience life as one adjustment after another depending on who’s on the mound and whether we think we can put a good swing on the next curveball. There is always a next curveball.
Right now we adjust to stay home and, if fortunate, work and stay in school. All this while keeping up on the news and keeping our distance from others.
This could simultaneously be the last golden moment for cable TV and an explosive moment for streaming, but honestly how much more “Seinfeld,” “Star Wars” and “Saving Private Ryan” can we all watch?
This is not just the time to finally pore through “The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” – a beloved professor told us of course everyone should read that one at some point – but it’s also the time for hidden gems. In the last few days, as pure diversion, I’ve squeezed in “Von Ryan’s Express” and “Torpedo Run.” OK, neither is a classic, and this raíses the question of how many more times we can win World War II.
But I also came across “Nothing But a Man,” a gem from 50-plus years ago that’s still relevant. Am I still thinking about a movie three days after seeing it? Yeah, then that might be a good movie.
So here’s my thought, in the form of free advice. I’ll save the best for last.
One, cook something new.
Two, the best escapism – and illumination – is in books. Always has been. Won’t change.
I find that I’m drawn to books that don’t just tell the immediate story but also show me where the whole country, or much of the world, was at a given moment. That might spark the idea of “On the Road” for some, but I would counter with “The Making of the President 1964,” a marvelous snapshot of the America into which I and a certain generation was born. Much the same can be said for Robert K. Massie’s “Peter the Great,” set three centuries ago.
More: “The Reckoning” and “The Best and the Brightest,” by David Halberstam. “Truman” and many others by David McCullough. And the Liberation Trilogy – the American/Anglo/Canadian effort in Africa and Europe in World War II – by Rick Atkinson is simply superb.
Number three, call someone. Turn down the TV, grab a cup of coffee and settle in. I’ve found over the last two weeks that the 10-minute catching-up calls I have with family and friends have turned into 30 or 45 minutes.
People really, really want to talk. So listen.
My son likes to remind me, when I mutter too much, that the people inside the TV cannot hear me. Well, we all need to be heard by someone, and cable won’t cut it. So listen.
Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at email@example.com.