1. Eve Best
I will admit, I did not have particularly high expectations for Nurse Jackie, the Edie Falco series that just completed its first season on Showtime; I expected Falco would be surrounded by actors who could not challenge her the way Gandolfini had done all those years in Jersey. But there's something to Nurse Jackie's harshness, about its very black soul, that seems to capture all the ugliness and disarray of the modern American health-care system at this crucial and contentious moment in our nation's history. And no one is more indicative of that than the doctor Best plays, a callous and unsentimental soul named Eleanor O'Hara who finds children off-putting and generally views her occupation as a conduit to an excellent lunch table in Manhattan. She is the doctor we've all encountered, the doctor who seems entirely disinterested in our problems, the doctor who sweeps into the examining room after leaving us hanging for 45 minutes, the doctor who sweeps out thirty seconds later, having delivered an irrefutable diagnosis and an inscrutable presciption, and then defers all questions to the nurse in her wake. Dr. O'Hara is the embodiment of Hippocratic arrogance, and I love her for it, even as I find myself dreading her very real presence in my life.
2. The Beatles
And suddenly, it feels like 1969 all over again: Tonight, I watched a PBS documentary on the Kennedys while reading a story in Rolling Stone about the breakup of The Beatles. And now I'm listening to a newly remastered version of the White Album, which I will admit sounds pretty much the same to me, except louder and with extra blackbirds. If Namath starts making proclamations about the Miracle Mets, I'm tie-dying my office chair and mainlining lysergic acid.
3. Nuance As a Intellectual Drawback
I try not to delve too deeply into politics in this forum, but this is really not about politics. This is a matter of basic human intelligence. This is about the notion, forwarded far too often in public life, that complexity of thought is somehow a frightening proposition. And now someone has finally come forward and embodied this ideal, and that someone happens to be Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who admits in this remarkable interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep that nuance is, in fact, a pejorative term. I'm not kidding; Inskeep tries to tell Steele that he finds the nuances of Steele's articulated position on health care more intriguing and complex than the broad propaganda of the health-care debate, and Steele takes such offense to this claim that he seems to accuse Inskeep of having a liberal agenda, or at least of being overly "cute." So, there are two possibilities here: Either Steele doesn't know what nuance actually means (perhaps he thinks this is the name of a Fraggle Rock character?), or he finds nuance so utterly intolerable, so unbearably cute and cuddly, such a merlot-soaked tool of tree-hugging hippie socialists, that he will disavow any invocation of it on his behalf.
And with that, I'm going outside to walk the dinosaur.
(Photo: Ken Regan/Showtime)