My Top 10 good things about being shut in for a week (I’m an optimist!). Neil Diamond re-writes “Sweet Caroline” for our current pandemic age. And R.I.P, Kenny Rogers, the ultimate “Gambler.”

OK, so this was a very different weekend for my family, as I’m sure it was for yours. I’m trying really hard not to get depressed by every new report from my governor, Andrew Cuomo, about how many New Yorkers now have coronavirus, how many have died, etc.

I’m trying really hard not to get horrified by how incompetent and heartless our President has been these last few weeks, including having no clue how anything scientific works, and then mocking Mitt Romney for being in quarantine on Sunday.

So because I’m trying to stay upbeat, I started thinking on Sunday about some of the positives that have come out of our forced isolation from those we love, except for those who live in our house.

And yes, there ARE some positives amid this horror, at least a few. So with a nod to the great David Letterman, here are my Top 10 good things to have come out of this first 10 days of social distancing (feel free to add your own positives in the comments).

1. Seeing so many neighbors I never knew I had. We’ve lived here in our Long Island town for almost two years now, and I thought I knew lots of people. But taking our daily walks with my little guys, I’m seeing way more people and starting to see more familiar faces. Everyone is so desperate to be outside that i feel like they’re thrilled to say hi, mention that our little 2.5 year old Theo is adorable, etc.

Everyone’s just so nice lately, because we’re all so afraid.

2. Our daily Rummykub games. So several months ago we taught Nate, the 5.5 year old, how to play Rummykub, the tile game which has been around forever and that I first learned to play as a kid with my beloved grandmother. He took to it instantly, and now with no school we’ve been playing every day with my wife during her “lunch break” from working from home, upstairs.

And Nate has gotten really, really good. He’s seeing opportunities now and combinations of what he can do with his tiles that amaze Shelley and me. He’s beating us, legitimately, in some games.

3. Speaking of games, I taught everyone to play Yahtzee on Sunday. Nate immediately fell in love with it, and wants to play more tomorrow. And hey, between that and Rummikub, it’s sorta like a math lesson with all the counting!

Love Yahtzee, not least because it’s so much fun to yell.

4. I was worried about going over my car lease’s annual mileage amount of 10,000 this year; was on pace for about 12,000. Well, that’s not a worry anymore! I ain’t driving anywhere further than the supermarket for a looonng while, I have a feeling.

Hell, just going to the supermarket feels like a long trip.

5. There was no live NCAA Tournament action this weekend, but the Duke-Kentucky 1992 Elite Eight game was on CBS Saturday. It’s only the greatest college game of all time, and the forces of good triumphed over the forces of evil. It’s possible I watched a minute or two 🙂

Just a reminder that in the best game of his life, Christian Laettner made every single shot he took. Ten field goals, ten free throws, made them all. Perfection.

6. Discovering Zoom. OK, raise your hand, how many of you didn’t know Zoom existed 10 days ago? I had a vague idea of it. But now, we’re zooming everybody. We had a family  “reunion” with my wife’s side of the family Saturday night, with relatives from N.Y., Texas, Maryland and Virginia all present. It was a ton of fun. Monday a kid in California we know and love is going to read stories to my sons as well as other kids in New York City and Pennsylvania. It’s pretty fantastic.

7. Getting to feel some of what my parents used to feel when I was a teenager and in college and they worried about me going out. A great Tweet I read Sunday said it best: “In an unsettling reversal of my teenage years, I am now yelling at my parents for going out.”

I’m worried about ALL older people, but of course especially my parents. My mother has been to Whole Foods like, four times in the past week and I yelled at her Sunday like she’d been chillin’ at a crack house.

I guess I’m saying, I’m sorry for making you all worry sometimes when I was younger, Mom and Dad.

8. Seeing how so many people around the world are responding with kindness in a crisis. From fundraisers for surgical masks, to donations to food pantries and soup kitchens going way up, to the heroics of medical personnel, there have been many heartwarming moments amid all the sadness.

9. Spending so much time with my wife. What can I say? She’s the best. Having her home all day and getting to see her for meals, and for check-ins when I pop up to her office, is pretty awesome. Never would’ve gotten to do that without all this self-isolation.

10. And finally, I’m not sure exactly how to word this, but feeling the “one-ness” of the whole world right now. So many countries are affected by this; so many billions of people all trying their best not to get sick, and we’re all scared of the same thing.

I dunno, maybe I’m reaching, but it’s rare everyone in the world is on the same side about anything.

**Next up, some more genius from the great Neil Diamond, whose classic “Sweet Caroline” has been teased during this Coronavirus pandemic for its lyrics about “hands, reaching out, touching me.”

Well, the legend decided to change the lyrics a little bit to fit our social distancing, and it’s pretty brilliant. He’s 79 years old and still sounds amazing. Enjoy two minutes of Neil (Not sure why it cuts off at the end but still worth watching).

**Finally today, a few words about the legendary country singer Kenny Rogers, who died Saturday at age 81.

Maybe younger people don’t remember much about Rogers, except for the outstanding chicken restaurant chain that bore his name (and which was highlighted in a great “Seinfeld” episode.)

But for a very long time in the 1970s and ’80s, he was a huge, huge star. Like, enormous.

With his velvety voice, iconic white beard and just his regal presence, Kenny was a king. You heard him all over the radio, saw him on TV, and his look inspired one of the first great websites I ever went to back in the mid-1990s,, a site comprised completely of regular dudes who happened to look like Kenny Rogers (Happily, it still sorta exists, here.)

Kenny was a larger-than-life personality, whose voice was just sensational. I know it’s cliche but this was my favorite Kenny song, the absolutely perfect “Lady.”

Rest in peace, Kenny.

One response to “My Top 10 good things about being shut in for a week (I’m an optimist!). Neil Diamond re-writes “Sweet Caroline” for our current pandemic age. And R.I.P, Kenny Rogers, the ultimate “Gambler.”

  1. The gambler is still my favorite Kenny Rogers song. We saw him some time in the 90’s at the Rosemont Horizon (different name now) in Rosemont (suburb of Chicago) His opener was a female country star who or the life of me I can’t remember. In 86 Dolly Parton was supposed to open for him at the same arena. For some reason she couldn’t make it and Ray Charles filled in. I assume you know he was with the group the First Edition. Some what before you were born. An interesting tidbit from this article. Their female singer left the band. Karen Carpenter tried out and lost to some one else.

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