Lilly & Me: Loneliness and Community

My Wednesdays are pretty hectic, so I decided to celebrate Valentine’s Day on Saturday night. With my roommates all in St. Louis for a Mardi Gras weekend, I had the place to myself. I whipped up my first actual meal in months — cooking some red quinoa with sautéed mushrooms and scallions (the key, I’ve found, is using so much butter that the vegetables start to taste like cake) and carving out thin slices of jicama. I threw a John Denver record on my turntable for ambiance, dimmed the lights and set the table with our nicest paper plates....

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Lilly and Me

If one of my neighbors were to have looked out their bedroom window last Saturday morning around 7:15, here’s what they would have seen: Me, dressed in sweatpants, a gray fleece and moccasin slippers, sprinting across my lawn and around the block, an empty leash in hand. And thus, I learned my first lesson about owning a dog at school: Just because she was okay off the leash at home doesn’t mean she won’t take off on you once you let her loose in your Oxford backyard. Lilly is a three-and-a-half-year-old shepherd mix whom I adopted over winter break....

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A Magical Christmas in Québec

I’ve been thinking a lot about magic lately. No, not the supernatural type of magic with which Harry Potter and friends levitate objects and cloak themselves in invisibility. That sort of sorcery is reserved for fantasy novels and adventure films, stories filled with pointy-hatted wizards and mysterious glowing orbs. It’s spectacular, of course, but it doesn’t exist outside those pages and off those screens. Even the diehards who lined up outside their local bookstore at midnight to get their hands on a hardcover copy of “Deathly Hallows” knew, deep down, that they’d never actually see a hippogriff soar across...

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The Best TV Episodes of 2017

Every end-of-year “best-of” television list you read over the next week or so is going to begin with a disclaimer. It’s impossible to narrow it down to just five, or 10, or 25 of the best shows, critics will lament, citing the ever-sprawling world of Peak TV, when it’s simply impractical for any one writer to watch enough of the shows out there to produce a fair ranking. Even if I had seen them all, they’ll add, there’s so much good TV out there these days that I can’t possibly make room for all the episodes that deserve a...

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‘Jim and Andy’ and learning to live with your worst inner critic

I’ve always struggled to articulate my feelings about Jim Carrey. While I’ve enjoyed most of his movies — “Dumb and Dumber,” “The Truman Show,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” etc. — something about him, as an actor, has always rubbed me the wrong way. The zany, over-the-top antics, the obnoxious lilt in his voice as he bellows yet another “Alllrighty then,” his borderline insufferable disregard for human decency or restraint — call me cynical, but it all seems a bit much. At the same time, however, I’ve never been able to comfortably conclude that I dislike Carrey. Believe...

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