A Pandemic Super Bowl




Weeknd, with that spelling, was the performer for the Super Bowl halftime show. I had to look him up, so, officially old. Now that we all have encyclopedia in our hands via smartphone, that was easy to do, but still.

I was struck by the discussions of, Is Tom Brady the greatest athlete ever? Yes, he’s lasted years longer than others in a difficult and punishing game. And, obviously, he’s still playing exceptionally well, as he demonstrated again Sunday night. But quickly following that, what about Serena Williams? Michael Jordan? And others. Tremendous athleticism, demonstrated over many, many years.

Favorite advertisement, go. The Jeep ad with Bruce Springsteen was very well done. It accomplished a lot with its spare, simple approach to the center of the nation. Worth watching if you missed it. If you have a favorite and want to share, send me a note. It’s now officially a race for Putnam County Sheriff, with incumbent Robert L. Langley Jr., a Democrat, seeking another term and Kevin McConville, a Republican, challenging him. It is the race we should have had four years ago, but none of the Republicans in power wanted to tell Donald Smith he was done and should hang up his badge. I hesitate to make predictions this early, but I think the contest could be pretty spirited. Both are from the western side of Putnam, so geography won’t really be a factor.

Are you registered to vote? If not, get registered. A few media notes:

My favorite headline of the past week is from the Washington Post and writer Becky Krystal on Feb. 4. To wit: If loving a piping hot chocolate lava cake is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Pretty hard to beat that analysis. Plus, it’s about something other than politics and disaster. Sunday is, after all, Valentine’s Day.

Task & Purpose, the military website, had an engaging interview with the Marine who accompanied Lady Gaga down the steps at the Inaugural. I commend it to your attention; it was insightful and unexpected: entertainment/marine-ladygagaphoto-inaugurationday/.

What we’re watching: Pretend It’s a City, the

Fran Lebowitz vehicle from Netflix. She talks with Martin Scorsese about, what else, New York City. It’s oddly endearing, especially since we’ve been cooped up for months.

Promising Young Woman. Trigger warning: survivors of sexual assault may want to read the ending and the spoilers. Highly recommend this movie. Dark thriller with some comedic elements, as well as elements of #metoo, how colleges handle sexual assault (poorly), and the finely honed justice of revenge, dealt with in a blatantly real fashion. This is not your average revenge tale; it prompts discussion and demands analysis of how society thinks of and deals with sexual assault. In shifting the prism, it compels confronting truths some viewers would rather not address.

The Dissident, about the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, in 2018. He was, among other things, a columnist for the Washington Post. Incredibly, the official reaction at the time here was, meh. Some hard truths about the Saudi royal family.

I have mentioned this before, but Borgen, the Danish political drama, is exceptional. We just finished the third season, the final season of those made so far. The series started in 2010, and is now on Netflix. A reboot is planned for 2022, with some of the original cast returning.

Ted Lasso: Another that I’ve mentioned before, but we returned to see it again after some of the unrelenting bad news of recent weeks. It is extremely well done, and interesting even the second time around. Multi-layered, good cast, terrifically shot and executed, very high production value. Generally, uplifting. Plus, soccer.

What I’m listening to:

The Axios podcast, How It Happened, with Jonathan Swan, billed as “the inside story of Donald Trump’s last few months in office.” The first three episodes are quite good; there will be a fourth out by the time you read this. It will wrap up with the insurrection. Swan, remember, is the reporter who interviewed then-President Trump for Axios on HBO. It aired at the end of August last year, and Swan’s technique — curiously regarded as revolutionary by many because of its stunning effectiveness — was simply to ask followup questions as Trump unspooled his thoughts. The episodes are quick, 20 or so minutes, and Swan’s premise is to take you to the room where it happened. Effective, some new info and perspective I had missed earlier.

Until next week.

Letters are always welcome: 500 words or less, Word document or plain text, local topics, and local writers preferred. Please include the word Letter in the subject line.

Douglas Cunningham is editor of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder, in Cold Spring. Reach him at 845-265-2468 (usually in the office at least part of Saturday and Sunday) or by email at

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