MWD45 - On Optional Reading

Or whatever would be the opposite of Must See TV

Welcome to Midweek DinnerThere’s a whole story behind that name, something about the way Wednesday creeps up on you, and you have to cobble together a meal out of whatever you can scrounge from the fridge. And yes, sometimes there is talk of food in this place. But mostly it’s about what I’ve been reading, in print and online; or what I’ve been thinking, in clarity and confusion; or what I am hoping, in fear and in joy. And you are always invited to join in.

—— The best conversations take place around the dinner table. — —


Thursday nights. NBC. Must See TV. It was a thing because they said it was a thing, and we all believed them. For me, though, must-see TV was three things:

  1. The Cosby Show

  2. The Wizard of Oz

  3. Atlanta Braves baseball

The Cosby Show did air on Thursday nights at 8, and it played a significant role in the dominance of NBC in that most-coveted time slot of the week. But the phrase “must-see” didn’t emerge until 1993, a year after we left the Huxtables dancing in their Brownstone.

The Wizard of Oz came on once a year, and we got to stay up late for it, back in the days before streaming services and DVRs made it possible to watch anything, at any time. It was an event, a thing to count on, to look forward to. We would spread a blanket on the floor and have dinner in front of the TV. It was an event.

The Braves was less an event and more a constant. Though I preferred to listen to the Braves on the radio (still do), a fair amount of my early television memory is likely baseball.

Writing this, I realize I’ve got lots more to say about The Cosby Show, but not tonight. Tonight, I’m offering you whatever is the opposite of must see TV. There is no obligation here. No one will be disappointed or give you the side-eye if you choose to ignore every one of these. You can look at it like the optional readings on a syllabus for a course you are auditing.

I love the optional readings. They’re so full of hope.


Start here: I could have copied down every word of this remarkable conversation with Robin Wall Kimmerer via The Believer.

And then this: Brian Doyle on “The Greatest Nature Essay Ever” from Orion.

I laughed at this for far too long: A thread on how ornithologists must actually hate birds

Need a few moments of poetry love? Here ya go:

Now read this examination of love and companionship, poetry and friendship from poet Donald Hall: “The Third Thing” (with gratitude to E for sharing it with me).

Let’s close with this from YA author Leah Johnson about growing up in the church and her mother’s unconditional support after she came out.


Published this Week? Not much, but HERE YOU GO:

Sunday Poetry - Ted Kooser’s Red Stilts

Sunday Poetry


Thanks as always for reading and thinking with me. Have comments, suggestions, or questions? Reply to this email, and I promise a response.