The Friday High Five
Gripping mysteries, hilarious tragedies, and beautiful disasters
Every Friday I share 5 things I enjoyed this week. Also, high fives are inherently cool, and I think we can all agree Friday is the bestest day. Hence the Friday High Five. 🙏🏻
My Favorite Thing This Week Was…
My Detroit Lions Winning Another Playoff Game
Look—I’m genuinely sorry if you are tired of hearing about the Lions, or football in general. I don’t mean to keep talking about them. But like, this hasn’t happened in 33 years. Said another way: I hadn’t yet gone through puberty the last time they’d enjoyed so much success and I’m in my mid-40s.
There’s a clip of the Lion’s Aiden Hutchinson at the end of the game I can’t stop thinking about. He’s not milling around in the middle of the field with the other players. He’s not celebrating. He’s standing on the sideline, silently looking around at the cheering fans. Taking it all in. Everything on his face in that moment mirrors what I was thinking and feeling.
This week we go out to San Francisco to try and punch our Super Bowl ticket. If they win, I will definitely be talking about it next Friday. Heck, maybe it’ll be an all-Lions High Five. Don’t tempt me.
Other Things I Enjoyed This Week
True Detective: Night Country
I was this close to putting Night Country as my favorite thing this week. It’s seriously good, y’all. Atmospheric, gripping, creepy. Just top notch.
Night Country evokes the ritualistic vibe from the first season of True Detective and layers on top of that an interesting dynamic between the indigenous Alaskans and the townies who work the local mine (read: racist and wrought with tension). And! the story takes place during the time of year when Alaska is perpetually dark. The sense of isolation is complete.
By the way, Night Country also sees Jodie Foster return to the horror-thriller genre. I’m not saying it’s as good as The Silence of the Lambs. It frankly might end up being better.
Oh—I previously talked in this space about Fool Me Once. That mystery was a bridge to nowhere. Avoid at all costs.
Dead to Me
This show has been on our radar for years. The Netflix algorithm served it up again, I think because Dead to Me recently was nominated for some awards, but maybe also because 50% of my watchlist aired in the pre-Covid before times. I don’t know how your Netflix works, but mine likes to passive aggressively remind me of how many shows are earmarked for “someday, maybe” by throwing them in my face, which it usually does after I’ve added a slew of newish shows to the list.
Dead to Me is a darkish comedy about a woman grieving the loss of her husband, which doesn’t sound all that funny when you write it out. But this show is hilarious. Christina Applegate plays a Type A business woman who befriends a flighty Linda Cardellini you can’t help but love. I’ve been an Applegate fan since Married With Children, but I only ever knew Cardellini as Hawkeye’s wife. And now I want to see what else she’s worked on. She’s really great.
We’re only a couple of episodes in but I can already tell this is one we’re going to binge the hell out of.
Dungeons & Dragons Birthday Party
I thought my days of having (and attending) birthday parties was a thing of the past, gone from my life around the same time I stopped watching cartoons and climbing trees.1 Around 8 years ago, I decided to start celebrating my birthday by having friends over to roll funny-shaped dice. It’s a tradition that has grown to include two of my friends, who also celebrate the passing of another year in the same way.
I’ve said many times before that D&D is basically my favorite thing ever.2 Anytime I get to play is special, but the birthday games are a cut above, if for no other reason than we get to play for a lot longer. Our typical D&D games last around 2 hours. Birthday games (and the occasional weekend get-together) often run for 7-8 hours. If you’ve never played, that probably sounds like a long time. But even 8 hours isn’t enough.
We spent the first 3 hours hanging out in a tavern, talking to locals and generally causing trouble. And it was glorious.
We daydream about a day when we’re retired and can play D&D as much as we want for as long as we want. That’s more or less what childhood was like, so I guess the sign of true maturity is realizing that most of the day-to-day stuff is just boring detail that gets in the way of true adventure.
The Creator reminds me of the Tom Cruise sci-fi film Oblivion, which I rewatched recently. Both are ambitious movies with gorgeous design/art and interesting world-building, but are dragged down by clunky scripts. Oblivion’s Achilles heel was the film’s insistence on Tom remembering his wife, which defies logic and also a key plot point, all to contrive a happy ending. The Creator is too busy trying to be Important and also Artsy and forgets the first tenet of storytelling: Be entertaining. (It’s also dragged down by the main character’s obsession with his wife.)
I really did dig the world of The Creator, which reminded me a lot of District 9. Both of those films are some of the best examples of placing advanced technology into something that actually resembles the real world, and in that way, feel practical in a way that eludes most sci-fi movies.
I’ll probably watch this one again just for the design and feel. It really is something.
Also: Huge fan of John David Washington. Loved him in Ballers and pretty much everything since. Some people just have that “it” factor.
By the way—why is it we decided, collectively, to stop doing awesome things just because we started growing hair in private places? I just starting thinking about all the great stuff I did as a kid, stuff I inexplicably stopped doing, even though they’re still objectively awesome.
Here’s a partial list:
randomly playing kickball with whoever happens to be around
wearing a costume or even just a cape-towel just for the hell of it
having a sleepover
taking a pocketful of change to 7-11 and buying whatever I can afford
I’m working on a piece about Harrison Ford and The Mosquito Coast and fatherhood. In the course of that, I listed a handful of things I consider better than Star Wars. D&D is on that list.