'look what you made me do'
Don’t look directly at it – the North American solar eclipse
A pleasant distraction from the threat of nuclear war and our current president’s weirder-by-the-day inability to unequivocally condemn white supremacists is the collective pause button hit on Monday when an extremely rare total solar eclipse sliced across the US, burning retinas and inspiring future astronomers. The last one we had was in 1979. The next one’s in 2024.
It was spectacular, this solar eclipse, and particularly timely – it forced us all to remember that outside of social agendas and thinkpieces, we’re on a blue ball in one galaxy among hundreds of millions of other galaxies, and every so often orbits align to block out our sun just because we happen to be floating in space at the right time and distance. Science, and particularly astronomy, is important for lots of reasons, but one of the most important ones is this: perspective.
Plus it gave us that hilariously iconic photo of Donald J. Trump staring directly at the sun.
For me, in particular, it was a long-awaited delight – viewing a solar eclipse has been a bucket list thing for me ever since I learned about eclipses in a 4th grade science book. As a preteen, I searched for photos online of total eclipses, looked up where they’d be next on the planet, thinking about when I’d finally see one. Even though I was only in an 80% coverage zone, due to the instant access to the totality views – thanks in part to the 24/7 news cycle and social media, a rare moment when these two institutions deserve praise – I too was able to gasp when the lights suddenly went out in Oregon and there it was, visible to the naked eye, the moon blocking out the sun. It reminded me too, in a delightful way, that the media is just the messenger, the vessel, and while yes, media is often biased, it’s also a powerful tool that can, on occasion, bring an entire, weepy nation together for two marvelously dark minutes.
Ten Years Later, for no good reason - Wet Hot American Summer returns to Netflix
If you read The Work regularly then you know I’m a big fan of comedians. So, when a gaggle of my favorite comedians returns to reprise their roles in a cult comedy classic, it’s obligatory watching. Even if there’s no real reason for Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later to exist – it’s inspired by a throwaway joke in the original film, where the counselors pledge to meet at Camp Firewood 10 years later – the premise still promised plenty of 90s self-referential humor and a high joke density.
Which it delivers on – it’s sharp, well-acted, and leans into cliché (including dramatic fight scenes in the rain and a murderous nanny played wonderfully by Alyssa Milano). But the absurdity of 40-something actors trying to play characters 20 years younger has lost its appeal after First Day of Camp pulled it off so well in 2015. Now, with the joke of these older actors playing young already worn out, and no restraints on time (First Day of Camp, as you can guess, spent all eight episodes on one day), the show loses some of its absurdity – it’s only reason for existing.
But not all of it. Because the joy of the show (because I still did enjoy watching it) was in the absurdity of the smaller bits, the quieter jokes. For example, when Mitch – who is now a talking can of vegetables – somehow bangs a waitress in a diner kitchen, or when Victor finally loses his virginity in a weird tantric threesome. And so on. Each episode, while not overall meaningful, is still full of enough silly scenes that make it more engaging than background viewing. It’s something that I think only this group of actors could pull off, with the understanding that there was no reason for them to come back ten years later except to write some funny jokes and play these characters one last time.
BONUS: In case you missed it – Taylor Swift Is Back
And the internet has opinions.
In her new single, “Look What You Made Me Do,” Taylor tries to reinvent herself with talk of coming back from the dead, and “the sound of her song does, in fact, feel like the work of a hell creature possessing someone once capable of charm.” – The Atlantic
Here are a few others:
“The song is a strange collage of retro reference points: mid-aughts Gossip Girl placement pop, the soundtrack to Disney’s live-action Maleficent, and — yes, really — Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy,” except devoid of the self-effacing humor and wit. Yes, the new Taylor Swift song just made me compliment Right Said Fred.” – The Ringer
“As far as her archnemeses Kim and Kanye go, it’s completely impossible to imagine them doing anything but laughing, hard, at “Look What You Made Me Do.” They’ve 'made' Taylor Swift release the worst music of her career: What could possibly be less intimidating than that?" – Vulture
Double Bonus: our darling Taylor also released a trailer for the accompanying music video to “Look What You Made Me Do,” which the Internet has quickly dubbed “Less Lemonade and More Crystal Light.” (Or: Panera is the new Red Lobster, with "Formation" lyrics rewritten.)
header image: "total solar eclipse 2017," bernd thaller / flickr