Bill Nighy was the main reason I watched the PBS drama “Turks & Caicos” on Sunday night, about a British spy on the run. Nighy is so cool; I want to be him when I grow up.
But Nighy was not the revelation of this movie. In the second hour, a new character came sashaying right down the middle -- 4 feet, 1 inch, but 8 feet tall in attitude.
Meredith Eaton – I never heard of her – was playing a highly capable character with a purpose. No sense ruining the plot if you catch up with it, and you should. She kept right up with actors like Nighy, Christopher Walken, Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter and, oh yes, Ralph Fiennes.
Because PBS and other stations have the annoying habit of running the credits at warp speed, I did not catch Eaton's name in the blur. How rude to actors. But I looked it up on the web, and Wiki had a full credit list, with links. I should have known from the Lawn Guyland accent: Eaton went to my alma mater, Hofstra University, majored in psych, minored in drama. She recently turned 40, and was the first female dwarf ever to have a major recurring role on an American TV drama (Family Law, 1999.)
Hofstra has sent bombshells into the world before. Lainie Kazan (then Lainie Levine) was a classmate in the late ‘50’s, steaming up the new John Cranford Adams playhouse in “Pajama Game.” And a few years later, it was worth going back on campus to catch Madeline Kahn, long before she played Lili Von Shtupp in “Blazing Saddles.”
In fact, there are Hofstra connections to three of the four people in the photo above. Christopher Walken was a dancer who went to Hofstra for one year before learning how to talk funny. I don’t believe Bill Nighy has any Hofstra connection. And Winona Ryder, so edgy in “Turks & Caicos,” has a Hofstra link in this way: about a decade ago I visited Francis Ford Coppola, another classmate, at his home in Napa. In his studio was a chair with the name Winona printed on it. Sit in it, Coppola motioned. So I did. He had directed her in “Dracula.” I’m counting it as a Hofstra connection.
Now Hofstra has done it again, another actress who lights it up. Meredith Eaton is not in the final part of the trilogy, "Salting the Battlefield," next Sunday on PBS, but she needs to be in something else, and soon.
Measuring Covid Deaths, by David Leonhardt. July 17, 2023. NYT online.
The United States has reached a milestone in the long struggle against Covid: The total number of Americans dying each day — from any cause — is no longer historically abnormal….
After three horrific years, in which Covid has killed more than one million Americans and transformed parts of daily life, the virus has turned into an ordinary illness.
The progress stems mostly from three factors:
First, about three-quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine shot.
Second, more than three-quarters of Americans have been infected with Covid, providing natural immunity from future symptoms. (About 97 percent of adults fall into at least one of those first two categories.)
Third, post-infection treatments like Paxlovid, which can reduce the severity of symptoms, became widely available last year.
“Nearly every death is preventable,” Dr. Ashish Jha, who was until recently President Biden’s top Covid adviser, told me. “We are at a point where almost everybody who’s up to date on their vaccines and gets treated if they have Covid, they rarely end up in the hospital, they almost never die.”
That is also true for most high-risk people, Jha pointed out, including older adults — like his parents, who are in their 80s — and people whose immune systems are compromised. “Even for most — not all but most —immuno-compromised people, vaccines are actually still quite effective at preventing against serious illness,” he said. “There has been a lot of bad information out there that somehow if you’re immuno-compromised that vaccines don’t work.”
That excess deaths have fallen close to zero helps make this point: If Covid were still a dire threat to large numbers of people, that would show up in the data.
One point of confusion, I think, has been the way that many Americans — including we in the media — have talked about the immuno-compromised. They are a more diverse group than casual discussion often imagines.
Most immuno-compromised people are at little additional risk from Covid — even people with serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or a history of many cancers. A much smaller group, such as people who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing active chemotherapy, face higher risks.
Covid’s toll, to be clear, has not fallen to zero. The C.D.C.’s main Covid webpage estimates that about 80 people per day have been dying from the virus in recent weeks, which is equal to about 1 percent of overall daily deaths.
The official number is probably an exaggeration because it includes some people who had virus when they died even though it was not the underlying cause of death. Other C.D.C. data suggests that almost one-third of official recent Covid deaths have fallen into this category. A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases came to similar conclusions.
Dr. Shira Doron, the chief infection control officer at Tufts Medicine in Massachusetts, told me that “age is clearly the most substantial risk factor.” Covid’s victims are both older and disproportionately unvaccinated. Given the politics of vaccination, the recent victims are also disproportionately
Republican and white.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy. The deaths that were preventable — because somebody had not received available vaccines and treatments — seem particularly tragic. (Here’s a Times guide to help you think about when to get your next booster shot.)
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.