Welcome to my Five Things, a weekly blog in which I reveal much more about myself than I ever intended. If you are new to this page, I’ve been at this since last March, when I starting writing the blog as a kind of gratitude exercise and to remind myself that not everything was terrible in the ‘new normal.’ Now my blog and companion podcast are an essential part of my week; I no longer approach them kicking and screaming. And I hope to spur you to find a minimum of a handful of good moments or feelings or tastes or sounds in your week as well.

1) When I was in my 20s and 30s I used to say my body was made up of 80% french fries; 20% sarcasm. To be candid, I cannot resist a french fry if it is sitting on my plate or even on the plate of someone at my table. If I am offered a choice of a side salad or a side of French Fries, I don’t ever think or even hesitate. I don’t love all French Fries, but I’ll eat any of them. I mean, after all, they are a conveyance for salt.

I like them thin, not so crispy on the outside that they’re not soft on the inside. I’m not a snob; I love MacDonald’s french fries and I love the pommes frites at Quatorze Bis. (Not a huge fan of steak fries, in case you care.) HOWEVER, I am going to try to cut back. Just un peu. Just for now. Just to see if life is better or worse without a packet of fries around my waist.

These French Fries look like the Platonic Ideal of fries.

These French Fries look like the Platonic Ideal of fries.

2. I know a lot of people who find calm and pleasure from watching videos of small animals. Or of any animals. Or the genre of videos of two species being friendly — that goat that loves a cocker spaniel, or the cat and the seal that are best friends. I am diverted by funny animal moments too, but my favorite distraction is Paul Newman, the actor.. I love the photograph of him dancing (the monkey? the frug? — only someone over the age of 48 could know the answer to that one) with his wife, Joanne Woodward. I see fun, whimsy, joy, elegance, and unforced sexiness in that shot.

Speaking of ‘unforced sexiness’, in the Newmans we see the real thing — palpable chemistry between people who look like real people, as opposed to the trying-so-hard, coarser, come hither poses that leave nothing to the imagination. I know I sound like an old fogey, and I resent that! I’m a middle-aged fogey, if you please. But fully dressed they seem thoroughly appealing and alluring. Anyway, Paul Newman was the best looking man I ever saw (or met), a cool guy, a philanthropist, and someone who didn’t seem to take himself too seriously. I will be very content to look at pictures of him for the rest of the week.


3. Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.

Are you familiar with these seeding/investing/crowd-funding sites? I always find cool inventions through them, and I feel better buying from startups than buying from giant corporations. There are always videos of the team behind the invention and they help you understand more about the product they’ve created. There are interesting items in the health and fitness categories, like the Ostrich pillow; great stuff in the travel accessory department — like rolling luggage with an attached USB charging port. For the holidays this year, I’ve already bought my exhibits ™ presents from these two websites. #NoNotTheOstrich

The Ostrich Pillow, for napping (or scaring people)

The Ostrich Pillow, for napping (or scaring people)

I wasn’t sure how they were different, so I asked Google. “Probably the biggest difference between the two platforms,” Google wrote, “is their approach to money and when you get it. Funding on Kickstarter is all or nothing. ... Funding on GoFundMe is not all or nothing. That means you keep whatever money you raise regardless of whether or not you reach your designated funding goal.” Since we’re all inundated with ads on every single platform, I decided to explore the crowd-funders this year. (Yes, I know that retailers as a group are hurting.)

4. The New York Public Library, Library for the Performing Arts


This New York treasure is also, strangely enough a kind of secret, or at least not terribly well-known. Nestled inside Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (specifically between the Metropolitan Opera and the Vivian Beaumont Theater), this library, open to the public, offers free concerts, exhibitions, recitals, and so forth that are well worth a visit. Perhaps you’ll find costumes or set designs for the ballet created by Alexander Calder. Or the story of Leonard Bernstein through videos, photographs, and documents. Or even the backstage memorabilia of a great Broadway diva. (Currently you can learn about choreographer Jerome Robbins.) Even more magically, library card holders can watch videos of entire Broadway plays (everything since 1962), operas, concerts, ballets, and modern dance. The archives here are extensive and exclusive. It’s like getting a first row center mezzanine seat for free.


5. Gratitude is all I have for Robert S. Mueller. Go get ‘em, tiger!

Stay calm and Act Natural.