Reading that Friendly’s (a restaurant chain with outlets mostly in the northeast) has filed for bankruptcy, I had a memory of my father. On a warm summer day, after we’d played several games of paddleball at Christopher Morley Park, he would sometimes take me to Friendly’s for a Fribble, the company’s famous milkshake. On occasion, we’d sit down at the counter and order cheeseburgers that came on buttered toasted bread with a side of crinkle-cut french fries. So damned good! A few years ago, Martha and I were in Hartford to visit her mother, and stopped into the Friendly’s near the airport before our flight back. The cheeseburger and fries weren’t nearly as good as I remembered, but the chocolate Fribble was still fantastic.
Speaking of food, we binge-watched all five episodes of the new season of “Somebody Feed Phil” on Netflix this weekend. Watching him visit and have great meals in Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, Singapore, the Mississippi Delta, and Hawaii was fun, but it also made me sad, because the pandemic has made it impossible for us to travel and have our own adventures and food experiences. Then I got even sadder, realizing it’s unlikely we’ll be able to go anywhere next year, either. I need a new streaming series, “Somebody Open Their Borders And Let Paul In!”
This is either the Headline Of The Week or a solution from a weird new edition of Clue: “Russian oligarch nicknamed the ‘Sausage King’ killed in sauna with crossbow.”
I’m happy to see that ABC will resurrect “The Chase,” a game show in which contestants take on a trivia expert who’s trying to deny them a chance at big money. I was a fan of the British version, which starred Mark Labbett as “The Beast.” That role in the new US version will rotate among the three “Jeopardy!” champions who participated in its Greatest Of All Time tournament: Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and James Holzhauer. It’s a bit early to set the DVR, as they haven’t even shot the episodes yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing it.
I’m not as enamored by the fourth iteration of “Fargo” that’s been airing on FX as I was the first three. The show was always quirky, but had grounding in solid plot lines that grabbed our attention and held it. As much as I admire Chris Rock and some of the other cast members, this “Fargo” has yet to get me invested enough that I can’t wait for the next episode — and doesn’t have any characters (good or bad) I’m rooting for, either.
The Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” says some important things about our addiction to all the free content we consume on our screens. As it explains, you’re not getting anything for free — you’re giving yourself up as a product to be sold (by Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) to advertisers who can micro-target their audiences through the platforms’ algorithms. Worse, their coding is designed to keep your attention on those displays for as long as possible and, like all addictions, make you feel like you’re missing out when you don’t return to them for any period of time. As it turns out, that’s not a bug, it’s the feature, programmed into each of the social media companies’ products. Moreover, the doc explains how those platforms have been — and continue to be — exploited by bad actors, both domestic (e.g. white supremacist organizations, conspiracy theorists, voter suppression efforts) and foreign (e.g. Russia, which didn’t hack Facebook, just manipulated the system’s already-existing loopholes). Watching the documentary has made me more aware of how much time I spend doom-scrolling through the various feeds I’m subscribed to — as I vow to reduce my exposure to the toxicity of so much online content.
But I’m glad you stopped here long enough to read this!