The 2017 awards season kicked off in earnest on January 8 with the 74th Annual Golden Globes, and it turns out: The voters of la-la land love La La Land.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association bestowed a record number of trophies on Damien Chazelle’s original musical about two lovers trying to make it in Hollywood. The other major contender of the evening, Barry Jenkins’s quietly powerful Moonlight, didn’t win the Best Supporting Actor and Best Director awards it was tipped for, but it did come away with the Best Motion Picture (Drama) prize over Manchester by the Sea. Other big winners included The Crown, Elle, Atlanta, The Night Manager, and The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.
Read more updates below, or check out our full wrap-up of the evening.
After being shut out for the majority of the 2017 Golden Globes, Moonlight finally triumphed where it really mattered, with a win for Best Picture (Drama). Barry Jenkins’s stunning film about the coming-of-age of Chiron, a young boy growing up in Miami, was nominated for six awards but took home only one, with the loss of Mahershala Ali in the Best Supporting Actor category coming as a particular surprise. Moonlight will now have some extra momentum heading toward the Oscars in February, although whether it can beat this year’s Globes juggernaut, La La Land, is anyone’s guess.
Jenkins adapted Moonlight from a play by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who grew up in the same Liberty Square housing project in Miami as the director. If you haven’t seen it already, this New York Times story by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who visited the area with the two men, is well worth a read.
Jimmy Fallon at the Globes: Game, Charming, and Barely There
When it was announced, this summer, that Jimmy Fallon would be hosting the 2017 Golden Globes, The Guardian’s Brian Moylan argued that Fallon’s selection could herald a new era for the awards show. Fallon, Moylan wrote—as opposed to the show’s previous hosts, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, and certainly to Ricky Gervais—“promises to be a totally different kind of host.”
As Moylan put it,
As the steward of The Tonight Show, he’s not known for telling jokes in the same way that Gervais or Fey and Poehler are. Instead his most resonant bits are ones of collaboration, when he brings out the best in other celebrities and gets them to engage in wacky games or silly stunts. Also, his humor doesn’t have the sardonic edge of the previous hosts. Fallon has the temperament of a labrador retriever: always happy to be there, excited for anything that comes his way, and just dying for someone to scratch his belly.
Fallon did, indeed, offer moments of wackiness this evening. He began the Globes telecast with that La La Land-inspired musical number. He brought Questlove in as the show’s DJ. He did an “Oprah-Uma”-reminiscent play on the sort-of-rhyming names of Jessica ChastAIN and Eddie RedMAYNE.
Beyond that, though, the most notable aspect of Fallon’s hosting approach was … his general non-presence as a host. He had, overall, very little screen time.
That wasn’t Fallon’s fault. It was a reminder, though, of how different the demands that are made of the hosts of the Globes versus, say, the hosts of the Oscars. Fallon’s semi-presence during the evening highlighted the extent to which the “host,” at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual affair, is really more of an emcee than anything else. He introduces other people. He makes fun, but he also, more importantly, makes way. Fallon does indeed, as Moylan put it, “bring out the best in other celebrities”—which is a good thing, since that, apparently, is the job he was tapped to do for the evening.
As the night winds down, it’s a clean sweep for La La Land, the L.A.-set original musical that will surely be tipped for similar Oscar success next month. The film won seven Golden Globes in total: Best Picture (Comedy or Musical), Best Actor and Actress for stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Best Director and Best Screenplay for Damien Chazelle, and Best Original Score and Song. In winning all seven of the awards it was nominated for, La La Land became the most-awarded film in the 70-plus year history of the Globes.
Could such sweeping success lead to a backlash for La La Land, which is now the clear favorite for the Oscar for Best Picture? Perhaps. There were some slightly awkward optics as the film’s winners repeatedly took the stage and triumphantly noted how “daring” it was to try and make an original musical. Original musicals are few and far between in Hollywood these days, to be sure, but the (so far un-awarded) Moonlight, funded independently, featuring no major stars, and sprung to surprising word-of-mouth success on the back of critical acclaim, feels a little more “daring” than a nostalgic, if well-made, showbiz musical starring Stone and Gosling.
Meryl Streep vs. Donald Trump (and Mixed Martial Arts)
Meryl Streep might be Hollywood’s best example of actor as craftsperson; now she’s making a play as statesperson. After a moving introduction from Viola Davis, Streep accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for a career’s worth of work by giving a full-throated articulation of the current Hollywood political mindset. She reassured the entertainment world of its value, and she took aim at Donald Trump and what he might represent.
The meat of the speech came with Streep reflecting on the episode where Trump seemed to mock a disabled reporter, or as she called it, the “moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back.”
“It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie, it was real life,” she continued. “This instinct to humiliate when it’s modeled by someone in a public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everyone’s life because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.
She transitioned to the need for a “principled press” to “call them on the carpet for every outrage,” adding that the “famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community” should support the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Perhaps most surprisingly, in defending “the most vilified segments in American society right now”—by which she meant the type of people who attend the Golden Globes—she said something likely to be taken as a culture-war salvo: a highbrow-type aiming lower. “Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners,” she said, “and if you kick us all out, you’ll have nothing to watch except for football and mixed martial arts, which are not arts.”
Cue the politically divided reads of the moment:
An important lesson from #MerylStreep for Democrats and progressives: Speak truth.
Winning will follow.
'Hidden Fences': A Terrible Gaffe, but a Pretty Great Meme
On the red carpet before the start of the Golden Globes ceremony, NBC’s Jenna Bush Hager began her question to Pharrell—who produced Hidden Figures, the new film about three black women who helped to send men to the moon in the 1960s, and for which he is nominated for a best original score—like so: “You’re nominated for Hidden Fences.”
It was a flub that would be repeated during the Globes ceremony itself by Michael Keaton, announcing the nominees for best supporting actress in a motion picture. (“Since the camera was focused on the actresses,” the New York Timesnotes, “it’s unclear if Mr. Keaton said it with a wink and a nod.”)
It was also a flub, however, that would quickly lead to some very good jokes on Twitter.
I can't believe I haven't seen #hiddenfences yet!! But you know, I still need to see Boo! A Madea Moonlight, so...I'll get to it.
Tom Hiddleston Makes a Humblebraggy Humanitarian Speech
It would not be charitable to write off Tom Hiddleston’s Golden Globes acceptance speech as a total humblebrag. But it would be inaccurate to say it was not, a little bit, a humblebrag.
First, though, it was an attempt to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis and an appreciation of entertainment’s role even in dangerous situations. Accepting the prize for Best Supporting Actor in a Miniseries from his turn in BBC and AMC’s The Night Manager, he launched into a story about having recently visited South Sudan with the United Nations’ Children’s Fund. He spoke of there being a “terrible situation” for children there (cue producers’ cut to the Stranger Things kids), and he dedicated his award to “those making a difference.”
But the main point of his speech seemed to be an anecdote about him grabbing a “dirty beer” with other humanitarian workers. There, he was approached by Médecins Sans Frontières doctors and nurses who told him they’d watched The Night Manager as bombs fell in the country. “The idea that I could provide, or we could provide, some relief and entertainment for the people who work for Unicef and Médecins Sans Frontières, who are fixing the world in the places where it is broken, made me immensely proud,” he said.
Reaction to the speech online was … mixed:
That was a long story Tom Hiddleston told to pay himself a compliment. #GoldenGlobes
When trying to predict the Golden Globe television winners, always remember two things: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves to pick the hot new TV show. They also love any prestige drama to come out of the UK. The Crown, Netflix’s epic chronicling of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, was both, so of course it was guaranteed a couple trophies. The first went to star Claire Foy, who dedicated her award to Elizabeth; the second was for Best TV Series (Drama).
The Crown had some hot competition this year from new dramas—NBC hit This Is Us, Netflix’s summer smash Stranger Things, and HBO’s much-discussed Westworld were among the nominees—but the Globes will always break a tie for the Brits. The same goes for The Night Manager, a BBC miniseries adaptation of a John le Carré novel that aired on AMC last April, which won four Globes tonight. Though American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson was the bigger hit with both critics and viewers, The Night Manager surprisingly beat it in every category it was nominated for (Best Miniseries, Best Actor in a Miniseries, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress).
Hugh Laurie Suggests 2017's Show Will Be the Final Golden Globes ... Because Trump
Hugh Laurie won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor in a limited series or TV movie for his performance in The Night Manager. The Brit used his speech—the third time he had occupied the Globes stage as an award winner—not just to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the honor, but also to take another of the evening’s swipes at the incoming U.S. president.
"Thank you, first of all, to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for this amazing honor,” Laurie began. He paused. “I suppose it’s made more amazing by the fact that I’ll be able to say that I won this at the last ever Golden Globes.”
The crowd didn’t quite get what Laurie was hinting at. They offered him a few tepid laughs; then he tried again.
“I don’t mean to be gloomy,” the actor said. “It’s just that it has the words ‘Hollywood,’ ‘foreign,’ and ‘press’ in the title. I just don’t know what—”
At this point, the crowd got it. Laurie was suggesting that a Trump administration might do away with the organization that was handing out the awards he and his fellow Hollywooders had just received. Those Hollywooders began laughing, and applauding.
“I also think that, to some Republicans, even the word ‘association’ is slightly sketchy,” Laurie continued, to more laughter.
The actor continued with more traditional acceptance-speech fare: expressions of gratitude, expressions of humility. And then—an homage to his Night Manager character, Richard Roper, and perhaps to another person, as well—he concluded his speech: “I accept this award on behalf of psychopathic billionaires everywhere."
Viola Davis Wins a Long-Awaited Prize for 'Fences'
“This is my fifth nomination. I took all the pictures, went to the luncheon,” Viola Davis joked as she won the first Golden Globe of her career. “But this is right on time.” The trophy came for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her work in Denzel Washington’s Fences, an acclaimed adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play. She praised Washington and the film’s producers for taking on such a stage-bound work, noting, “It doesn’t scream moneymaker. But it does scream art. It does scream heart.”
Fences has actually proven a solid moneymaker, already grossing $40 million since its December 16 release, buoyed by rapturous reviews and Washington’s star presence. Davis’s work in the film is extraordinary (she’s arguably a quasi-lead, taking over the film for its last act) and has been hotly tipped to win an Oscar for months; her Globe victory marks the first step. Davis thanked Washington before leaving the stage, calling herself “a friend and a fan.”
The Surprising First Golden Globes Winner of the Night
Perhaps Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Best Supporting Actor win for Nocturnal Animals shouldn’t have been a surprise—the Hollywood Foreign Press clearly enjoyed the movie, handing it three nominations including Best Director and Screenplay to Tom Ford. Still, Taylor-Johnson has largely been off the radar this awards season—his part is somewhat small and esoteric in the film, which got mixed reviews and made little impact at the box office. Aside from tonight’s Golden Globe, the only other trophy Taylor-Johnson has gotten this year is the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s “Virtuoso Award.”
The two Best Supporting Actor frontrunners were thought to be Mahershala Ali, who has cleaned up with critics associations for his work as Juan in Moonlight, and Jeff Bridges, a beloved veteran who did career-best work in Hell or High Water. Taylor-Johnson is still seen as having only an outside shot at even grabbing an Oscar nomination, but he got his moment in the sun tonight, directing most of his speech to his wife Sam Taylor-Johnson, who directed him in the 2009 film Nowhere Boy, and their four children.
Jimmy Fallon Compares Donald Trump to King Joffrey
The most controversial thing about Golden Globes host Jimmy Fallon has, historically, been in how uncontroversial he is. The SNL alum and Tonight Show host’s friendliness is legend—but when that friendliness extended to Donald Trump in September, his ruffling of the then-candidate’s hair ruffled some viewers who wondered why he hadn’t asked any tough questions.
He brought a bit more political bite to his show-opening monologue tonight. “This is the Golden Globes, one of the few places left where America still honors the popular vote,” he said early on.
Then he turned his attention to Game of Thrones. “A lot of people have wondered what it would have been like if King Joffrey had lived,” he said, referring to a vindictive school-age tyrant who once served as the show’s big villain. “Well, in 12 days we’re going to find out.”
And the firm that tabulates the Globes votes? “Ernst and Young, and Putin.”
Those quips didn’t quite pierce the typical Fallon aura of affability and awkwardness, though. The night started with a chipper pre-taped musical number that flaunted the Hollywood Foreign Press’s rolodex by enlisting many of the year’s acting nominees (highlight: Eleven from Stranger Things rapping), climaxing with Fallon and Justin Timberlake partnering for a La La Land-esque reverie. Then Fallon took the stage to a supposedly malfunctioning teleprompter; if his ensuing clumsiness—“cut to Justin Timberlake, please!”—was meant to be a joke about Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve debacle, he should have thrown in a “It just doesn’t get any better” or something.
Once he began his monologue in earnest, he made the strange choice to impersonate Chris Rock at length. The bit seemingly existed just to deliver a punchline about The People vs. O.J. Simpson nominees not being able to thank Simpson himself in their acceptance speeches. The joke wasn’t all that edgy—but apparently Fallon still felt he had to deliver it in the voice of an edgier comedian than himself.
With Jimmy Fallon behind the podium as this year’s host, the Globes promises to be a more Hollywood-friendly affair (last year’s host Ricky Gervais was perhaps too focused on mocking the inflated egos in the room). Still, the awards can be hard to predict because of the nebulous nature of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which decides on the winners.
The 90-member group votes on the best cinema and television of the year, bifurcating the former into comedies and dramas and the latter into comedies, dramas, and miniseries/TV movies. The film awards can be particularly crucial in setting the narrative for the Oscar race ahead (the Academy Award nominations are announced later this month): A publicity-grabbing speech, or shocking victory, can help catapult an actor or movie into frontrunner status. On the TV side, the Globes are less good at predicting the Emmys (which aren’t given out until September), but the Hollywood Foreign Press tends to gravitate toward new shows, so nominees like Westworld, The Crown, and Atlanta could do well.
For the best-drama category, the race seems to have come down to Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea, two critical favorites that are hotly tipped for Oscar victory. Casey Affleck and Jackie’s Natalie Portman are frontrunners in the lead-acting categories, but neither seems secure—Denzel Washington in Fences, in particular, could begin a run at his third Oscar here. On the comedy side, the musical La La Land is the obvious frontrunner in every category; it’s viewed as the consensus favorite filled with old-fashioned movie magic. Meanwhile, the best-director category—where Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight and Damien Chazelle’s La La Land are both competing—will be the most crucial indicator of which film will see more support as the Oscars draw nearer. (I broke down the nominations in more detail here.)
As we peer around the corner of the pandemic, let’s talk about what we want to do—and not do—with the rest of our lives.
At the bleakest moment in the pandemic, when you felt your most stressed, most scared, least centered, you probably heard some variation of the phrase This is really hard. Maybe you read it; maybe your manager said it to you; maybe you said it to yourself. But that’s the truth: Our nearly two years of living through a pandemic have been hard. And like everything else in the United States, that difficulty has not been evenly distributed. It has been hardest for those on the front lines, those afraid of how customers will react to their requests to put on a mask, those out of work or in constant fear of the way COVID variants are whipping through their community. It has been hard, in different ways, for those attempting to work and supervise school from home, for those in complete isolation, for those terrified of being around other people. It is fucking hard, in so many intersecting and unfair ways.
The film’s lead is reprehensible and self-aggrandizing––and mesmerizing to watch.
Mikey Saber, the preening, confident chump who’s the ostensible hero of Sean Baker’s new film, Red Rocket, enters on-screen to a loud and familiar tune: “Bye Bye Bye,” by *NSync. The song is a piece of mainstream pop from yesteryear (it’s a shiver-inducing 21 years old), and its usage in this arty indie film seems laced with irony. Baker knows, though, that for all its non-subtlety, “Bye Bye Bye” is still as catchy as it was the day of its release, and he uses it to suggest the same of Mikey (played by Simon Rex): He’s his own kind of relic, rolling back into his hometown after a failed career in Los Angeles, but he’s still got a glint of charm to him.
Baker has always told small-scale stories set on the margins of America—2015’s Tangerinewas a bittersweet Christmas tale about trans sex workers, and 2017’s The Florida Project was about “hidden homeless” families living in a motel. Both of those films were empathetic works about people enduring incredibly challenging circumstances—Baker, who often casts first-time actors in his work, is a master of displaying unvarnished truth on-screen. Red Rocket is far more sour than sweet, but that’s part of the point; Mikey is a reprehensible fellow, but he’s clawed his way through life by sheer force of will, and as such, the camera simply can’t look away.
New revelations show the CNN anchor betrayed his obligation to his viewers.
Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as governor of New York might have been a godsend for CNN. The network faced a nearly intractable conflict of interest: The governor was a major national figure, but his brother, Chris, was also one of CNN’s prime-time stars. Instead, the fallout from Andrew Cuomo’s departure has made Chris Cuomo’s position untenable. He should resign; if he doesn’t, CNN should sack him.
On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigation into sexual-harassment complaints against the Democratic governor precipitated his August resignation, released new documents that show how Chris mixed his roles as brother and broadcaster. The documents show that he was engaged in passing information to a top aide to the governor, Melissa DeRosa, as his brother’s team scrambled to respond to accusations. “I have a lead on the wedding girl,” he texted DeRosa, referring to a woman who complained that Andrew had made an unwanted advance at a wedding.
The film is a face-off between two visions of the American West—one of promise and the other of hostility.
The banjo may seem like an innocent instrument, but in The Power of the Dog, it’s downright menacing. The swaggering rancher Phil Burbank (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) at the center of Jane Campion’s new film is introduced as a thin-skinned bully who’s quick to insult those around him. But I didn’t realize what a frightening character he was going to be until Phil retired to his bed, pulled out a banjo, and started angrily plucking at it; that humble string instrument hasn’t been played so malevolently on-screen since the notorious “dueling banjos” of Deliverance.
Campion’s first feature film in 12 years, based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Savage, is set on a 1925 Montana ranch that’s surrounded by spiky mountains and acres of barren landscape filled with both promise and hostility. There, Phil has proudly carved out a lonely existence for himself as a cattle herder, while his full-hearted brother, George (Jesse Plemons), is dissatisfied with their spartan life and seeking companionship. Into this dynamic wanders local widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee). George marries Rose, seeing the newcomers as the beginning of a real family, but Phil derides them as too weak for life on the range.
A perfect confluence of events created a stealth killer.
It was 1996, Bill Clinton was president, and endangered bald eagles were dying in his home state of Arkansas.
Twenty-nine were found dead at a man-made reservoir called DeGray Lake, before deaths spread to two other lakes. But what really puzzled scientists was how the eagles acted before they died. The stately birds were suddenly flying straight into cliff faces. They hit trees. Their wings drooped. Even on solid ground, they stumbled around as if drunk.
“We weren’t in the political limelight that often,” says Carol Meteyer, who was then a pathologist for the National Wildlife Health Center, a usually obscure federal agency that investigates animal deaths. But as the toll rose, to more than 70 eagles in total, the mass die-off of America’s national bird in the president’s home state took on outsize symbolic importance. Scientists around the country were detailed to the case, but they kept coming up empty: It wasn’t botulism. It wasn’t heavy metals. It wasn’t pesticides. It didn’t seem to be anything known to man. “About the only thing that hasn’t been tested for is second-hand cigarette smoke,” an official told The New York Times in 1998. “We’ve even had people calling in suggesting that it’s radiation from outer space.”
After five years of being her caregiver, I couldn’t bear the emotional or financial costs alone any longer.
I was married to my wife for 30 years. In 2012 she was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease. It’s a hereditary fatal brain disorder with no cure or treatments. It slowly took her away mentally and physically. She was 47 at the time.
For five years I was her sole caregiver, washing her, dressing her, feeding her, etc. In 2017, I could go on no longer and had to place her in a long-term care facility. I was burnt out. Shortly after, I filed for divorce because the cost of her care was bankrupting me. If she was single her care was covered. I had no choice.
Since then I have met another lady with whom I am now in a serious relationship. I am 55 years old. My ex is not capable of understanding cognitively, so she does not know. My family says they support me. My ex’s family doesn’t. I felt I needed to move on in life, but I still visit my ex daily and ensure her needs are met. My son is an adult professional who seems to be struggling with my situation. The woman in my life is great and supports me fully in this, and also ensures I keep in contact with my ex. Did I do right by moving on?
Like it or not, the way we work has already evolved.
In 2019, Steven Spielbergcalled for a ban on Oscar eligibility for streaming films, claiming that “movie theaters need to be around forever” and that audiences had to be given “the motion picture theatrical experience” for a movie to be a movie. Spielberg’s fury was about not only the threat that streaming posed to the in-person viewing experience but the ways in which the streaming giant Netflix reported theatrical grosses and budgets, despite these not being the ways in which one evaluates whether a movie is good or not. Netflix held firm, saying that it stood for “everyone, everywhere [enjoying] releases at the same time,” and for “giving filmmakers more ways to share art.” Ultimately, Spielberg balked, and last month his company even signed a deal with Netflix, likely because he now sees the writing on the wall: Modern audiences enjoy watching movies at home.
Medical professionals are used to being believed, but as patients, they found that their expertise didn’t matter.
Before she caught COVID-19 at a wedding in March 2020, the physician associate spent her days diagnosing and treating people; after she was infected, she turned to her own colleagues for that same care. “At first,” she told me, “I felt a kinship with them.” But when her tests started coming back negative, her doctors began telling her that her symptoms—daily migraines, unrelenting vertigo, tinnitus, severe crashes after mild activity—were just in her head. (I agreed not to name her so that she could speak openly about people she still works with.)
When she went to the emergency room because half her body had gone numb, the ER doctor offered to book her an appointment with a counselor. Another doctor told her to try removing her IUD, because, she remembers him saying, “hormones do funny things to women.” When she asked her neurologist for more tests, he said that her medical background had already earned her “more testing than I was entitled to,” she told me. Being part of the medical community made her no different from any other patient with long COVID, her eventual diagnosis. Despite being a medical professional, she couldn’t convince her own physicians—people who knew her and worked with her—that something was seriously wrong.
“How to Build a Life” is a weekly column by Arthur Brooks, tackling questions of meaning and happiness. Click here to listen to his new podcast series on all things happiness, How to Build a Happy Life.
Everyone—even the most privileged among us—has circumstances they would like to change in their life. As the early sixth-century Roman philosopher Boethius put it, “One has abundant riches, but is shamed by his ignoble birth. Another is conspicuous for his nobility, but through the embarrassments of poverty would prefer to be obscure. A third, richly endowed with both, laments the loneliness of an unwedded life.”
Think about your own life and something causing you stress, anxiety, or sadness. For example, maybe you are struggling to find your job or career interesting and fulfilling. Or maybe you aren’t getting much out of your friendships, and feel lonely. How might you improve the situation? Your answer might be, “I should move, get a new job, and meet new people.” In other words, you should change the outside world to make it better for you.
I spent a lifetime counseling others before my diagnosis. Will I be able to take my own advice?
I have spent a good part of my life talking with people about the role of faith in the face of imminent death. Since I became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1975, I have sat at countless bedsides, and occasionally even watched someone take their final breath. I recently wrote a small book, On Death, relating a lot of what I say to people in such times. But when, a little more than a month after that book was published, I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I was still caught unprepared.
On the way home from a conference of Asian Christians in Kuala Lumpur in February 2020, I developed an intestinal infection. A scan at the hospital showed what looked like enlarged lymph nodes in my abdomen: No cause for concern, but come back in three months just to check. My book was published. And then, while all of us in New York City were trying to protect ourselves from COVID-19, I learned that I already had an agent of death growing inside me.