TRL, 7/1/2023

Welcome to our weekly free edition of the offseason newsletter where we talk about the things we've read, seen, eaten, watched, or otherwise consumed this week. This special July 4th week edition focuses on only the dad-ingest things available this week: A museum custom-built for dads, a show, a snack, and most dad of all, a business book? Yes, a business book.


Glamorous Glennis, the rocket plane Chuck Yeager broke the speed of sound in
Chuck Yeager was insane [photo by Spencer Hall, me, I took that shit]

The only reason to ever even get within ten miles of Dulles airport, a sad cold war contraption named after an actual insane person, and constructed to show the world that the United States was just as capable of building a spectacularly shitty, inhuman, and byzantine airport as anyone else. WE DID THAT. U-S-A! U-S-A!

That one reason to get near Dulles, though? Oh, it's peak dad, absolute Dad-halla, a Dadventure for every subspecies of Dad in the dad taxonomy.  Udvar-Hazy is dad from the bones up because it's already a huge glorified storage shed for all of the various planes, helicopters, spacecraft, and various bizarre contraptions the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum can't fit in the tiny Air and Space museum in downtown DC.  Udvar-Hazy is where America keeps its midlife crisis Ferraris and Mustangs, and yanno, also an entire space shuttle propped up like a prize marlin.

There is something for every type of dad under the sun at Udvar-Hazy.

ANGRY DAD: Let kids loose in easy controlled environment without supervision, crush a double burger at the Shake Shack on the second floor, imagine the perfect peace of getting bolted into a Mercury space capsule and shot into space where no one can bother you about anything, remember that while parking was fifteen goddamn dollars and you'll never get to hold onto a single dollar in life that admission was...mercifully free.

EXTREMELY PROBLEMATIC DAD: [looks at weird-ass Nazi rocket plane] This one, kids.

NERD DAD: Lecture strangers about your favorite aircraft without invitation. I am not making this part up, since I told a Japanese tour group today about how the SR-71 set the airspeed record running on just one engine.  (We still don't even really know its true top speed! Its windows were made of quartz! Its successor exists, and goes at least Mach 5! If it's manned I'm gonna pay to die in one of them and regret nothing!)

FIT DAD: Extremely large Federal building provides elevation change and long hallways for easy 2-3k steps buff on the day.

COMMUNIST DAD: Son, the MiG-15 outperformed the F-86 Sabre on half the budget and twice the performance. The T-34 of the skies, if you will.

NOT READING A DAMN BOOK EVER DAD: [vibing on thinking about the AC bill for the building for sixty awestruck minutes straight]

CHAOS DAD: Ducks under the ropes to get a better look at the heat tiles on the Discovery.

JOKES DAD: How do you say goodbye to a Boeing-Stearman 75? BI, PLANE. [/laughs until paramedics are called]

The gift shop knocks, the parking lot is never full, and they have a goddamn Concorde parked inside. God-tier Dad vibes, 10/10, flawless hot rod shed almost singlehandedly validating the existence of Northern Virginia.

P.S. I found the Most Uncle Vehicle in the history of aviation today.

That is a lawnmower looking to anger gravity as much as possible. I don't think someone could operate this glorious piece of shit after twelve domestic canned beers. I think someone had to operate this only after hammering at least twelve domesticated canned beers. It was in the operating manual, explicitly.

WATCH: THE BEAR, SEASON 2 (Hulu) Absolutely no way to encapsulate everything incredible about this show in a single newsletter, since it's become the kind of show I personally need a support group to fully enjoy. (If you have one, please: Invites are not just welcome, but encouraged.)  

I'll try for a quick pitch, though. The thing Ted Lasso tried to do and missed grandiosely, if sincerely, in season 2? Where the show's other cast members get their own stories, episodes, story arcs, and messy personal journeys? That. After focusing primarily on the protagonist Carmy's journey through grief in season one, The Bear had the madness/balls enough to try and expand the franchise in season two and tell everyone's stories all at once as they collectively rush to open a new restaurant in heavily expedited fashion.

They nailed it, too, and threw in a full-length pressure cooker of a play along the way (episode 6, aka "Fishes," an episode I watched while alternately guffawing and shoving my fist in my mouth to stop from screaming.) I want to write more about this later — it's too rich not to, and too enjoyable to resist the temptation to pick at it — but ultimately I think it succeeds for the same reasons its characters eventually do. It works the details with precision. It seeks, more than anything, and in the words of Richie this season, "to blow fucking minds."  

I'm a dad and I adore it, so: Dad thing. Watch it, you fools. Go watch it right now.

P.S. There is a needle drop in episode seven that is the most moving and exhilarating television moment I have seen in years, and from an artist I previously thought incapable of generating a single emotion in me. If you've already seen it, you know what I'm talking about. I wanted to deadlift the house after that.  

A TEN PACK OF FUNYUNS. You know what will make kids happy on a road trip? A ten pack of Funyuns. Are Funyuns food? Hell no. They're barely packing material or hog fodder. Are Funyuns nutritious? No. No they are not. In fact, I suspect a person trapped on a desert island left only with a shipping container full of Funyuns might actually die faster eating them three meals a day. Do I even really know what Funyuns are, reader? I do not, and neither does God.


Do they shut up kids on a road trip desperate for diversion, even when sitting undeployed in a nuke-yellow box sitting behind the driver's seat? Absolutely. They soothe because voluntarily purchasing one bag of Funyuns indicates a shift change for kids, an indication we have taken the offramp from responsible living into a more relaxed and benignly negligent form of living called vacation.

Purchasing ten bags of them? That means we're fully logged out of the sense and reason apps, and sailing the seas of a summer vacation where the calculus of good taste or even knowing what you're supposed to call "food" have gone clean out the window.

A Ten Pack of Funyuns: The white flag given to the onrushing ship of slight vacation excess. (A secret just between the thousands of us, here? We haven't even opened them yet. Just having them there by request, though, lets the pirates know it's pillagin' time. )

READ: Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect, Will Guidara. This is the book a character is seen reading at a particularly transformative moment in season 2 of The Bear, and since I'm not reading the other book featured in the show (Coach K's leadership book, ugh) I picked it up and read it in a night.

It's breezy, short, and like most management type books, filled with sentences you will never, ever say without cringing slightly. (Try starting a sentence with "A leader will..." without instantly hating yourself for sounding like Michael Scott. It's impossible.)  

Yet there's something in here that's very, very appealing, and something super relevant to both The Bear and whatever we're trying to do here at Channel 6, and maybe in your life, too. Guidara worked front of house for Danny Meyer's restaurants for a long time, and harps on one thing in particular I can't quite shake as being relevant to so much of what we try to do: Giving someone more than they expect, and in shocking ways.

Guidara does that in some outlandish ways, sure. He overhears a family of Spanish tourists awestruck by the snow at their table and arranges a sledding expedition in Central Park on the restaurant's tab, for one. But the little extravagances matter as much or not more, like when they spend 95% of the wine budget wisely, but sneak in 5% of their tastings on ridiculous splurges people didn't see coming.

It's consistently offering little surprises, and more importantly, loving the work of figuring out how to keep them coming. That's kind of bundling two of the things we enjoyed this week in one but here are. Hopefully we give you a little something extra you didn't expect, because that's what we enjoy doing most of all.

Enjoy your holiday, and be sure to throw 5% of the entertainment budget into something absolutely stupid for maximum results.  

Spencer Hall

Spencer Hall